STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!
Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer.
Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings,
to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished,
or reposted on another website without written permission from
By Nick Archer
"Ha! I made it!" Jake stepped into the back door just as the sodium-vapor streetlights began to buzz to life. He had made it before curfew. It was the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend. He was perspiring heavily, partially because he had just finished a 3-on-3 basketball game, and partially because it was still 82 degrees at 8 oclock in the evening.
Tommy cornered him. "Jake, you promised to help me with my ter....terra...."
"Terrarium," Jake finished the sentence for him. He sighed, "Yeah, I know. Do we have to do it now? Im going to take a shower, and watch some TV."
Tim, who was passing through the living room on his way to the kitchen, commented, "Dont make promises you cant keep. What if I had gone back on my promise to let you jog with me in the mornings?" Tim placed his hands on Jakes shoulders and gave them a squeeze. Tim referred to the fact that they went jogging weekday mornings before Tim went to work. Tim woke him up, and together they jogged to the forest preserves and back. Tim really liked the time alone with Jake and the regular exercise helped to even out Jakes moodiness. Tim couldnt blame the kid he was under a lot of pressure. Foremost among Jakes worries was the custody hearing in a little over a week.
"Ok, shorty, Ill take a shower and be back in a flash to help you."
Tim gave his shoulders a final squeeze and Jake yelped. "Atta boy, Jake. Oh, that reminds me. You both have to wrap your gifts for your grandma. And we need to talk about that algebra test you failed."
"Oh, man," Jake groaned, hoping they had forgotten about it.
"When is her birthday?" Tommy asked, changing the subject, for which Jake was grateful.
"Actually, its today, but shes coming over tomorrow night for cake. Your Aunt Karen is coming over, too."
The phone rang and Tommy ran to answer it. "Hi, Grandma! We were just talking about you! I cant wait until you come over tomorrow! I make you something nice, now I have to wrap it......oh, I know I didnt have to, but I wanted to. No, dad is working tonight. Tims here. Ok, here he is. I love you, too."
"Hi, Gloria, how are you?" Tim spoke with genuine affection.
"Hi, Tim. Its unusual for Matt to work on Friday nights, isnt it?"
"Yeah. I think it has to do with the holiday. Anna is taking a few days off. The boys are looking forward to tomorrow night." While he spoke on the phone, Jake reappeared shirtless. His hair was still damp from the shower. He spread the dining room table with newspaper and gingerly placed the cracked aquarium on it.
"His grandma is in the hospital again," Gloria told Tim.
"Im sorry to hear that! Which hospital is she in?"
"Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn."
"Im sure he will want to see her." Tim had only met Matts grandmother once. She was in her late eighties and in poor health. The past year, she had been in the hospital four times. Each time, Matts maternal aunts and uncle gathered around. Each time, she had rallied and returned home. In the back of their minds was the dreaded question: How many more times will she rally back?
"Im sure hell want to visit this weekend. Does this mean youre not coming tomorrow?"
"I wouldnt miss it. My sister Grace will have to keep watch for a while."
"Are you sure its OK, Gloria?"
"Im sure. I wouldnt want to disappoint the boys. Or you." Lying heavily on the telephone wire was an unspoken message: Life goes on and the needs of the living take precedence. "Good night, Tim. Love you."
"Love you, too, Mom."
That night, as Matt drove home from work, he pondered the mysteries of life, love and traffic. Chicagoans often joke among themselves: there are only two seasons in Chicago winter and construction. Construction season had already begun in earnest. Matt had hit a patch of construction on Harlem Avenue where traffic was constricted to one lane in each direction, and he was cursing himself for not taking another street. He knew that Harlem was under construction, but he decided to tempt fate and drive it anyway. He reasoned that traffic would be light at 9:30 at night. He was wrong.
Traffic moved at a snails pace. It further frustrated him that he had to open the store the next morning. At 127th street, he sat directly behind an elderly man in a bulbous Lincoln who was signaling a left turn. After he missed several opportunities to turn, Matt finally sounded the horn. The man turned with a confused look on his face. Its hot didnt mean to lose my temper.
Finally freed from the constriction of construction at 143rd Street, Matt increased his speed and turned up the radio.
"Can I have a sip of your beer?" Jake asked Tim.
Tim hesitated for a microsecond, then handed the bottle to Jake. "Yuk, this stuff is terrible!"
Tim laughed at him. Just then, Matt pulled up behind the townhouse. "Your beer tasting is our little secret, OK?"
As Matt walked up, he yanked his shirttails out of his pants and unbuttoned the top three buttons. He grinned at Tim and Jake. "Look at you two. Youd think this was some sort of resort." They were sitting on a rattan couch with their feet propped on the railing of the porch. A box fan was positioned so that it blew the warm, sticky air over them. Three citronella candles deterred the insects and added atmosphere. They were both shirtless and held the beverage of their choice Tim with his beer and Jake was sipping a Crystal Pepsi.
"Look at the size of your feet, child," Matt said as he ran his fingertips over Jakes bare instep.
"Hey, that tickles!"
"I hope those canoes stop growing soon. I cant afford new shoes for you every six months." Matt said it without thinking. Would there be another six months?
"Have a seat," Tim invited.
"Where did you get this couch?"
"Like it? I got it at Venture. Only twenty bucks. It was a steal."
"Oh, thats right! I forgot they were going out of business." He studied the new piece of furniture. "Id say you got a deal." He opened the back door and cautiously stepped over the tail of the box fan that was plugged into a socket near the cabinet. "First, Im going to put on some shorts." He peeled off his sweaty, sticky, damp garments and tossed them in the dirty clothes basket. Eschewing a shirt, he retrieved a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. Before going outside again, he checked on Tommy and Brian who were watching TV.
He sat next to Jake on the settee. Tim already had his arm around Jake. Matt also draped an arm around his shoulders, and touched Tims arm as well. The beer slid down his throat, cool and golden. He released a deep sigh of contentment and leaned back.
Their affection spoke the words. Each was lost in his own thoughts that evening. The meeting with Rhoda, their lawyer had gone well. Her strategy was to emphasize Als lack of interest in Jake and let Jakes progress speak for itself. She was confident they would win, but she couldnt guarantee it, and it was this nagging doubt that had Matt frustrated. He was tired of the uncertainty about Jakes future and he just wanted to be done with all of it.
"Oh, your mom called. Your grandmas in the hospital again."
"That makes the fourth time this year. Did she say if she was still coming tomorrow?"
Matt mentally added a visit to his grandmother in the hospital before the weekend was over. The weekend promised to be a busy one with the gathering for his mothers birthday tomorrow night and a cookout on Monday to which he had invited Marty, Patrick and Patricks new friend.
"Is that lightning?" Tim asked.
Matt chuckled. "That question sounds so familiar." A flash lit up the western sky. "Yes, it is. I thought it was supposed to be sunny and hot all weekend."
"No," Jake replied. "They revised the forecast."
"Weather forecasting is the only profession where you can be wrong and still get paid for it." He turned to Jake. "So how is that Crystal Pepsi?"
"Different, but good. Want a sip?"
"Sure." Matt brought the bottle to his lips as if he were savoring a fine wine. "Its OK. Crystal Pepsi. They have a clear version of everything, now. Clear sodas, clear Kool-Aid, even clear beer."
"Theres even Amoco Ultimate," Jake added. "Clear gas. I saw it advertised on TV."
Matt pushed the button to light the dial on his new Indiglo watch. "We need to talk about that test you failed. Did Mr. Moretti let you make it up?"
Jake stretched and yawned a very fake and artificial yawn. "Sleepy, sleepy bear."
Matt snorted. "Good try, kiddo. What did you get on the retest?"
"Well, at least its passing." Matt ruffled his hair affectionately. "I just dont get it, Jake. Youre good in math, and you knew the subject matter. God knows we worked on it. Whats wrong?"
"I dont know."
"You want to talk about it?"
"No, not really."
Matt sighed. "In that case then, you may be excused and go to bed."
"Oh, man...." He sighed loudly and rolled his eyes in the prescribed adolescent manner designed to anger parents. He stood, hugged Tim, then hugged Matt, who patted his bare back.
Matt and Tim sat outside for a while longer, holding hands, kissing occasionally and watching the distant lightning.
"Im worried about him, Tim." He lay his head on Tims shoulder.
"I know. I am, too. He seems to be getting worse as it gets closer to the hearing."
They both wondered if the lightning would arrive in their world, and if it did, what changes it would bring. And they worried about Jake. Skin meeting skin, heart meeting heart, they desired to keep Jake.
Inside both men was a cesspool of worry and anxiety. They repeated to themselves: Its going to be all right. Its going to be OK. But, the distant lightning and approaching thunder seemed a fitting metaphor for what they were feeling inside.
Again, without discussion, they blew out the candles brought the fan indoors and went to bed. Matt was aware of the lightning as it flashed in the bedroom windows just before he drifted off to sleep.
Scott was on all fours in the filthy alley. He heaved and wretched, although nothing came out. His slim body trembled despite the heat and humidity.
"Whats wrong with you, man?" Vince hovered over him.
"I need some shit."
"Like hell you do. I told you to stay away from that shit. Now youre jonesing."
Scott sat on the asphalt and the wave of nausea passed for the moment. He still looked unhealthy he had dark circles under his eyes, his skin had an unhealthy pallor and blemishes had broken out on his face.
"Youre a mess," Vince said in a gentler tone. "When was the last time you ate something?"
"Yesterday. I found some pizzas in the dumpster behind Ginos East."
"Shit." He held out a hand. Scott grinned as he took it, and Vince pulled him to his feet. "Cmon, I have about five bucks. Thats good for something at McDonalds."
Vince put his arm around Scotts shoulder. In unison, they looked left, then right as they crossed Broadway to the McDonalds. Scott was grateful to Vince. Vince was probably his best friend. He was twenty-five almost an old man among the street hustlers who worked New Town and the Lakeview area. He was successful because he had a chameleon-like quality to play whatever role a john wanted him to be. If the client was looking for a preppy collegiate type, Vince could fulfill that role. Suppose the client wanted a leatherboy for the evening. Not a problem, Vince looked good in a leather harness against his smooth, defined chest. But his best role was streetwise punk boy, which was the look he wore tonight. He spiked his hair with copious amounts of gel, dressed in baggy jeans and an unnaturally bright T-shirt, put earrings or studs in his numerous piercings and he was ready for the evening.
"Arent you hungry?" Scott asked as he downed his second Arch Deluxe.
"No, thanks. How are those Arch Deluxes? They look like puke."
Scott stopped chewing and flashed his companion a dirty look. "Thanks a fucking lot, asshole."
"You know Im just kidding." He grabbed the remains of the burger from Scott and took a generous bite. Vince grimaced and tossed the burger onto the wrapper. The Arch Deluxe was McDonalds latest creation to lure adults back into the stores. The advertising campaign even featured kids making faces after tasting the overdressed burger. In a very short time it would prove to be a major failure and withdrawn from McDonalds menu.
After getting some food in his belly, Scott felt and looked better. Some of the color returned to his cheeks.
"Arent they feeding you?" Vince asked him. The "They" referred to Barry and Ted.
Scott looked down at his shoes. "They dont want me there anymore. Im not bringing in the money like I used to."
"Everyone has his down times."
"They have a new toy, a fourteen-year-old. Theyre even fucking him without rubbers."
"Bastards! God, I hate those two fuckers!"
Im getting old. They gave me a month to get out of the townhouse. Im even getting hair on my chest."
It was the tragic fate of so many young hustlers. Scott had been extremely lucky to find Barry and Ted after he ran away from home in Eau Claire. He had been in Chicago less than a full day. They let him live in their townhouse, fed him, and even made him go to school. But as Scotts body continued to mature into manhood, he lost the boyish qualities that had made him so marketable and so much in demand. He still retained his young-man-next-door, all-American good looks. But Barry and Teds clients hungered for youth. And Scott was nearly a man.
And so, he found himself out of favor.
Only a very small handful of street hustlers could remake themselves and continue their sex industry careers successfully. Vince was an example. Scott admired him for his resilience and savvy. Vince was a phenomena among the street hustlers. They all respected him and looked up to him like a big brother. He might lecture them about their drug or alcohol use, but he had a heart of gold. If a hustler was hungry and needed food, Vince always found the money for a meal. If the kid needed a place to sleep, Vince had the resources. If a boy needed medical attention, Vince knew whom to call.
Many, many gay professionals in Boys Town owed him favors. Some gave him what he needed in return for his silence. Vinces brain was like a Rolodex of names, phone numbers, accounts payable and accounts due. With the precision and detail of an accountant, he effortlessly kept track of the complex web of favors. Vince was very smart and he kept his mouth shut. Discretion was his middle name.
Vince never talked about his past. It was said that he was from a prominent North Shore family and had a good education. Vince really was his name. He liked it and he was proud of it. It was at least obvious that he had come from a family that had taken some care to choose a name such as Vince for him. It was a name that wasnt too common, nor was it too odd. He disdained to add the diminutive "ie" or "y" to the end of his name as many hustlers did. Nor did he feel compelled to insist on the use of his full first name; Vincent. The streets were full of Johnnies and Markies, Davids and Michaels.
No one knew his last name. He refused to divulge it. "Im the only Vince on the street. Everybody knows me, even the girls. Just ask around for Vince."
Another thing that made Vince unique was that he was openly gay. Many middle-aged suburban clients wanted at least the illusion of bedding a straight boy. It was the one role Vince refused to play. Despite, or perhaps because of this, he was still one of the most popular male hustlers in the city.
Vince playfully nudged Scott into the gutter. "Hair on your chest, huh?"
Scott stepped up to the sidewalk again. He raised his shirt to display his chest. Tufts of hair were apparent around his nipples and he had grown a very prominent treasure trail of hair from his navel to his pubic area. "Take a look for yourself."
Vince nudged him again. "Thats why God made razors, cupcake."
"Fuck you!" Scott threw his body against Vinces.
"Well, if you want to play the game, you gotta follow the rules." Vince bumped him so hard, Scott almost ended up in the street directly in the path of a moving silver Lexus. The car screeched to a halt just in time.
"Watch where youre fuckin going!" Scott shouted as he flipped the driver the bird. "Im the fuckin pedestrian here! I have the right-of-way."
The cars taillights flashed briefly, then it made a quick right turn onto Belmont.
"Wonder if that was a john?"
Vince shrugged. He had only gotten a glimpse of the driver. An older man. Vince had so many regular clients; he could afford to be choosy. It just so happened that he didnt have an appointment this evening. But his bank account was bulging with the rewards of his work. It seemed to Vince that the ugliest men were always the ones who had the most money. His bread and butter came from the rich, fat, balding suburban men from Barrington and Olympia Fields and Winnetka. They were the ones who paid his bills. The younger, more attractive men usually couldnt afford his services. Often, they were struggling artists or fresh out of college and still jump-starting their careers. Once in a while, Vince could "date" a younger, more attractive man who might pay him less. He could afford to. Currently, Scott was not so lucky.
"OK, Kit, were going to find you a john tonight," Vince said to Scott.
"You know, Vivians roommate and best friend in Pretty Woman?"
Vince rapped his knuckles on Scotts forehead. "Hello? Anyone home? The name of Julia Roberts character was Vivian. Remember? And Kit was her roommate."
"Oh, now I remember."
"Kids these days," Vince muttered. The silver Lexus pulled up to the stoplight at Belmont. The driver flashed his taillights three times. Then, the light turned green and he made another right turn.
"What was that all about?" Scott asked aloud.
"Hes looking," Vince answered. "Lets see if he comes around again. Three times is the charm."
Vince lit a cigarette and offered one to Scott. Within three cycles of the traffic lights, the Lexus reappeared. It slowed to a snails pace. An impatient cabbie sounded his horn behind the silver vehicle. The car turned the corner and searched for a place to pull to the curb.
"Showtime!" Scott laughed. "Yours or mine?"
"You go for it."
Scott moved to a position behind the Lexus so that the driver would be able to see him in his rearview mirror. Scott held the burning cigarette between his lips while he readjusted his cock and balls in his jeans. He took a drag from the cigarette and exhaled the smoke slowly so that it created a fog around his head. He rubbed his crotch again and slowly approached the car. Scotts walk was liquid, languorous, and masculine. He added just a touch of a bounce to indicate athleticism.
At a safe distance, Vince applauded his performance. "Work it, work it, own it!"
The passenger window lowered slowly and Scott propped his elbows on the car door and leaned in. The negotiations had begun.
They both had to be careful. Undercover cops were everywhere, as well as vice detectives from the Chicago Police Department. There were standard fees for common sex acts. The prices for these were set like any other economic commodity in a free market. The laws of supply and demand ruled. Extras and options were available, just like options on a new car. They could include uniforms, role-playing, bondage, spanking, water sports or even "bareback" or unprotected sex. All were available at an additional price.
Vince hoped that Scott could complete the transaction. Not only did he need the money, but it would boost his confidence and self-esteem. Both had been suffering lately, Vince knew.
Scott stood up stiffly. He wore a frown. Something had gone wrong. Above the din of traffic, Vince could hear him say "....thats cool. I understand. Cool. Not a problem."
Scott backed away from the car, turned on his heels, and started to walk toward Vince. His stride showed none of the cockiness that had been apparent when he walked toward the car. Scott looked dejected and upset.
When Scott got close enough, Vince asked him, "What happened?"
"He says hes not interested. Says Im too young."
"Fuck! Maybe I should go talk to him." Vince had the idea to talk the potential john into taking Scott. You should see the hair around his nipples!
Scott looked down at his boots. "He wants you."
"He wants you."
Vince placed his hands on Scotts shoulders. "He should be yours. Ok, listen, Ill go with him, and split the money with you."
"You dont have to."
"Im going to. You take care of yourself." He gave Scott a quick hug. "And stay away from the shit!"
Vince approached the car. The driver was perhaps ten years older than he was, and he was slim. His head was shaven, and he sported a neatly trimmed goatee. He wore a leather biker jacket and his jeans looked clean.
Vince thrust his hand into the car. "Im Vince."
The driver looked nervous. His eyes were constantly in motion. Just what I need. A first-timer.
"Get in," the man managed to croak.
The perspiration on Vinces skin began to chill as he seated himself in the air-conditioned car. The passenger window hummed as it shut out the noises of the street. Vince caught a glimpse of Scott in the mirror mounted on the outside of the passenger door as the silver Lexus pulled away from the curb. The driver executed a U-turn in the Jewel parking lot on Halstead. He drove east on Belmont.
For a long time, the driver never looked at Vince and never spoke. He drove east on Belmont to Lake Shore Drive, then eased the car south. They passed Chicagos glittering night skyline. Behind the skyline, lightning flashed in the western sky. The lake looked black and forbidding on this cloudy night. It started to drizzle and the driver turned on the intermittent wipers.
"South side, huh?" Vince attempted to start a conversation. "I better brush up on my White Sox stats."
The driver responded with only a smirk and a nod.
"You know, we havent even talked about price."
"It doesnt matter."
"Well, Im sorry to be so crass, but it does matter to me. You see, this is how I make a living."
For the first time, the driver looked at him. Vince couldnt fathom the expression. Was it contempt? Anger? Pity? Fear?
"Im sorry," the driver finally answered. "I mean, what we do doesnt matter to me. Money is no object. I just dont want to be alone anymore." The Lexus eased onto the Stevenson Expressway.
These were sometimes the toughest clients of all the ones who just wanted to talk. When he first got in the business, Vince was surprised at how many johns just wanted to talk, kiss and cuddle. At least a quarter of his tricks involved no sex at all. Vince quickly learned to show empathy while still maintaining a clinical separation. If he got emotionally involved with every client, hed rapidly become a basket case.
Vince made his voice soft and gentle. "Is this your first time?"
For the first time, the man smiled, "Yeah."
Vince relaxed a little. "Its cool, man. Remember, youre the boss. The only requirement is safer sex. Lost too many friends to do otherwise."
They continued their journey south on the Dan Ryan Expressway. "I havent been this far south since I went to the Museum of Science and Industry in sixth grade! Where are we going, anyway?"
"Out where Christ left his sandals!" Vince laughed, and for the first time, the driver laughed along with him. The ice was broken. "Whats your name?"
"My name is Marty."
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.
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