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 2000 by 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 the author.
In the small building known as the fort, Dennis huddled under old Army blankets in a vain attempt to fall asleep. It was simply too cold to sleep.
Dennis was there because he wanted to heal his body and spirit.
The little building, which measured roughly ten by eight feet, stood behind the Woodhull Mansion at 67th and St. Louis near Marquette Park. It had three windows, two on the east wall and one on the west. The glass had long ago been broken and the openings had been covered with more army blankets nailed to the inside of the windows. It had a wooden floor, and the interior walls were open to the studs and exterior sheathing. There was no ceiling, either. The roof and the rafters were exposed. Decades of boys, and a few girls, had swung from the rafters.
It was the perfect hideout because through the years thick undergrowth and mature trees had camouflaged it. Even now in the winter it was difficult to see, unless one knew where to look. Every parent in the neighborhood knew it existed, and some even knew where it was. But few had ever ventured near it. It was almost as if the parents were relieved to get their teenagers out of the house, if only temporarily.
The Woodhull Mansion was hardly a mansion at all, although the brick edifice was certainly grander than the bungalows that surrounded it. Henry Woodhull, who owned a Great Lakes shipping concern, built it in the 1890s. His financial troubles began when one of his ships sank in a storm in Lake Michigan. He ended up selling the house in 1928, and died soon afterwards. When the widowed Mrs. Woodhull died childless in 1964, the house was sold and the remainder of the lot was subdivided. Most of the outbuildings, including a barn and a greenhouse were left to decay and eventually demolished. The surrounding lot became part of the bungalow belt that rings Chicago. In time, the neighborhood became known as Chicago Lawn, and became home to ethnic Poles, Irish and Lithuanians.
The fort contained a metal-framed bed like the ones found at a summer camp. The thin mattress was filthy and smelled bad. There was also a wooden chair and a rather nice desk. Dennis thought that the desk could look beautiful with a little refinishing. Rounding out the furniture collection was a castoff avocado recliner with a big tear in the seat.
There was graffiti all over the walls. The building reeked of cigarette smoke and less distinctly of pot, cum, mildew, rotting wood and other drugs consumed inside. Dennis had shared in the weed when it was available. He liked the effects of pot. It made him forget his problems. He liked to drink, too, but alcohol was difficult to obtain. Even when Stan Balzekas was loaded, he could keep mental tally of how many beers he had left in the refrigerator.
Dennis was already a seasoned smoker. He was using pot and drinking. He was often truant from school, but in the gigantic Chicago Public School system, it was easy to be missing in action. He ran away to escape the brutality of his father. He was still eight months away from his thirteenth birthday.
Stan Balzekas did not hit all his children. He rarely hit the two girls as they grew up. He never hit Peter, his favorite son. But he hit the other kids freely. Stan firmly believed that kids had to be forced to obey. They had to have a healthy respect, even fear, for authority.
Stan also never hit his wife, although he could be verbally abusive. On the other hand, he could be charming. The fact that Marion had nine kids with him was evidence of that. He was also good in bed, and he had a huge cock.
Each successive child had his or her own way of dealing with Stan, whether they put that plan in place consciously or unconsciously. The goal was the same: To get out of the house and away from their father. Victor, the oldest, sank quickly into depression, and then submerged into a pool of drug use. He splashed from rehab center to twelve-step group.
Tad, the next oldest, and Ben who was third in line, set up a sort of competition to see who could achieve higher grades. The goal was to obtain a scholarship to a distant college. Ben succeeded with a computer science scholarship to Notre Dame. Tad landed one in astronomy to Illinois State.
Eileens strategy was to get pregnant at fifteen and move in with her boyfriend. Stan seldom hit the girls, but subjected them to his constant ridicule and verbal abuse. When she was no longer able to hide her pregnancy, Stan assigned her the nickname 'The Slut.' He still used the epithet whenever he referred to her. Now eighteen, she had married her boyfriend and moved to Oak Lawn.
It was Lisa who began the tradition of running away. She had older brothers who had apartments and dorm rooms where she could stay. Once she even rode the South Shore Line to South Bend to stay with Ben when Stan struck her for breaking curfew. She would return after a few days a little more subdued and determined to stay out of her fathers way. Presently, she had a steady boyfriend who allowed her to stay at his apartment when she needed to get away.
Stanley never laid a finger on Peter, the next oldest. He as an athlete and everything that Dennis was not, except handsome and well-endowed. He was aiming for a wrestling or football scholarship. Stanley constantly bragged about the boy, and constantly compared him with the other kids. He was Stanleys pride and joy.
Dennis was next in line. He had always been somewhat effeminate. He cried at sentimental Disney movies. He hated team sports, preferring to draw or paint instead of roll around in the dirt with the other boys. He was quite an accomplished artist.
Once he drew a portrait of his father in art class. He earned an A on the project and brought it home. His father would be so proud!
He showed it to Marion first. "I dont think this looks like your father at all." Dennis was crushed, but couldnt wait to show it to Stan.
"What is this? Some kinda joke?" He crumpled it up and tossed it in the garbage. "Come back when you can draw something real."
Dennis was closest to Tad, despite their differences in ages. Tad protected him and shielded him from Stan's abuse. Life was more bearable when Tad was around; and when he left, the trouble began. When Dennis was a young boy, Tad would hold him in his lap, rock him and hum Total Eclipse of the Heart. "Look at you two! Keep that up and you'll both turn into faggots," Stan insulted them.
Little did Stan know that's exactly what happened.
He was hiding out to escape his father's current tirade. Dennis decided it was too cold to sleep, and got out of bed with the blanket still wrapped around his shoulders. Sitting at the desk, he continued a drawing that he had begun a few days earlier. This time it was a picture of his ideal man. He had drawn him from the waist up. The subject was shirtless, and his chest had good definition, yet he wasn't overly muscular. Some of the men he saw in Peter's muscle magazines looked like insects. There was a point where a man could have too many muscles. His ideal man had dark hair, but he debated the eye color. Should he have brown eyes, or blue like his own? Ultimately, he decided it didn't matter since he was using pencil as his medium.
He looked up briefly from his work. He thought he heard a sound outside the cabin. After a few moments, he decided it was just his imagination, and resumed his work as he daydreamed.
There were noises outside the fort!
Peter burst in and in two strides approached the desk where Dennis was working.
Peter grabbed the picture. "What do we have here?"
"No, don't." Dennis tried to grab the picture, but Peter held it over their heads. "Please."
"Who's this?" Peter asked.
He glanced at the drawing. "Fucking faggot. It's a picture of another guy."
"Please," Dennis begged. "I worked on it a long time."
"I worked on it a long time," Peter mocked. "Wonder what dad would say if he saw this picture. There would be a lot of questions."
Dennis tried to grab the picture, but Peter had the advantages of speed and strength.
Dennis could only beg.
But Peter wasn't finished taunting his prey before he moved in for the kill.
"Wonder what dad would say if he knew you were queer."
Defeated, frightened and frustrated beyond words, Dennis sat down on the edge of the bed and began to cry.
"Look at the little girl cry," Peter taunted. At this point, he did something that Dennis hardly noticed. He folded up the picture and stuffed it in his back pocket.
"OK, stop crying. Stop it, fucker!"
Dennis was able to calm himself to a sniffling mess.
Peter put a hand on the back of Dennis' head. The gesture was almost gentle and affectionate.
"Tell you what. You give me a blow job, and we'll keep this whole thing quiet. I won't tell dad, and he won't beat you."
Dennis' eyes became wide and frightened. He wanted to do this, yet he didn't. His cock became painfully erect in his jeans. A voice in the recesses of his brain screamed, But this is your brother. Something is wrong. You can't suck your brother.
"Please, no. Can't we do something else? I mean, isn't there something else I could do?"
"Not right now." Peter lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "I know you want it. I seen you watch me get undressed." It was true. They shared a small room on the second floor. It was almost impossible not to see him dress or undress at some point. And every night, Peter masturbated himself to sleep, sometimes twice a night.
"Come on," he whispered in a sleazy, oily voice. "Suck my cock."
Peter unzipped his jeans.
As if in slow motion, Dennis moved his head closer to his brother's penis. He parted his lips and took it in.
It was the first blow job he had ever given.
Peter looked down at his brother's face; so similar to his. People always said that all the Balzekas boys looked like twins, almost as if Stan and Marion simply made a photocopy of the previous child. It was a legacy of genetics. There was another genetic legacy that all the Balzekas males shared. All the Balzekas men had big cocks.
It was with this genetic legacy that Dennis was struggling.
"Watch your teeth," Peter ordered.
His hand was still on the back of Dennis' head, and he urged his head still closer to his pelvis. He wanted more of his shaft to be engulfed in the hot, moist cavity of his brother's mouth.
"I'm cumming!" He pulled his cock out and shot his load all over Dennis' face.
Peter shoved him back on the bed. "Cocksucker." He pulled the hair on the back of his head so that it forced him to look up to Peter. "Remember," he hissed, "tell anyone, and you're dead." Peter released his brother as if he were tossing a chunk of putrid meat in the garbage.
As he left the fort, he pointed at Dennis and repeated, "Remember."
Dennis curled up in a fetal position on the bed. He sobbed out his anger and humiliation and shame. He was disgusted at himself for wanting to give his brother head. He should have never done it! It was wrong!
He wiped his face on one of the blankets. It did little good. He simply added dirt to the cum on his face.
What was he going to do? He couldn't go home. He couldn't face Peter and his father again. No one else would stand up for him, not even his mother.
If only Tad were here. Tad. That's it. He would go to Tad's house.
He fumbled in his pockets and produced $3.75. It was enough for bus fare to Hyde Park. If Tad or his roommate couldn't drive him home, he still had enough for the return trip.
He allowed himself a few minutes to stop crying altogether. He rearranged his clothes and started on his journey.
He walked west to Pulaski, where he would catch the next northbound Pulaski/53 bus. It was a short wait for the next bus. The Chicago Transit Authority was among the better transit systems in America. He boarded the bus and paid the full adult fare. There was no way he could get a student fare unless he had an ID with him, which he didn't. He also requested a transfer, which the seemingly bored bus driver gave him.
He rode a short time to Garfield Boulevard, where he transferred to an eastbound Garfield/55 bus. It would take him through some very tough neighborhoods in order to get to Hyde Park, but he was a city kid. For his young years, Dennis was fairly street smart and savvy. He knew the basic rules of city living. Stare straight ahead or better yet, read a newspaper. Don't look anyone in the eye. Mind your own business.
The bus took him through Gage Park and Washington Heights, two neighborhoods that once had been safe, clean middle class neighborhoods, but now were ghettos. Burned out apartment buildings and empty lots (which Chicagoans called prairies) lined both sides of the boulevard. Garfield Boulevard was part of Daniel Burnham's master plan for the city. Garfield featured a wide grassy median planted with trees and grass. The city had installed historically correct lampposts in the median.
Dennis breathed a silent sigh of relief when the bus reached Hyde Park. Almost immediately, the neighborhood changed. Now, the storefronts were ablaze with light in the late afternoon winter sun, and the red brick apartment buildings were well maintained. He pulled the cord and exited the bus at Harper and walked two blocks north. Tad lived at 5319 South Harper. It was a large U-shaped brick building just south of 53rd Street.
Dennis loved the courtyard with it's tiny balconies. Tad and his roommate lived in a two-bedroom apartment. He entered the vestibule in the right corner of the courtyard. He pressed the button to Tad's apartment. What if he isn't home?
After an eternity, his brother's voice came over the scratchy intercom. "Who is it?"
The front door buzzed, and Dennis yanked it.
He walked up the dim stairs that were carpeted in a floral pattern. The carpet probably was original to the building.
Tad held open the door for him. He had a cordless phone tucked between his chin and his shoulder. He smiled and waved Dennis into the apartment.
"I gotta go. My brother's here. Ok, talk to you later, hon." He put the phone in it's recharger in the dining room. The apartment was huge. It was at least as big as the lower level of their home in Chicago Lawn. It was tastefully decorated. The living room featured a fireplace, although it didn't work. Dennis knew that Tad and his roommate Sean slept in the same bedroom, because he had slept in the spare many times.
"Hey, kiddo." He hugged his little brother with real affection. "Your face is dirty."
"Nothing. Everything. Is Sean here?"
"No. He went to a conference. He'll be gone until Sunday."
"Can I stay here?" Dennis asked softly.
Tad sighed deeply. "Don't you have school?"
"Nope," he lied.
"We've talked about this before." They had. Many times, in fact. "First of all, Sean really doesn't want you staying here. Not that he doesn't like you, but he's just uncomfortable when you stay overnight. It's really his apartment," Tad added apologetically. "Second, you should really try to work things out with Dad instead of running away. Your problems are not going to go away if you run away from them. And last, but not least, I have plans. I certainly can't take you with me."
"Why not? Where are you going?"
"To some...um...bars with some friends. Dad just believes in the spare-the-rod- and-spoil-the-child shit. He just has to prove he's boss."
"But does he have to prove it on my ass?"
"If you just tried to get along with him..."
"But you don't understand. He's getting worse. Nothing I ever do is right. Everything I do is wrong. And now Peter is picking on me, too."
"Peter?" Tad laughed. "The one thing you've got to understand about Peter is that he's stupid. He may be strong, but he can't count to twenty-one unless he's naked."
It took a minute for Tad's insult to register, but when it finally did, Dennis laughed.
"Tell you what. Let's get you into the shower, and I think I have some leftovers I could throw in the microwave. Then, I'll drive you home."
Dennis threw his arms around his older brother's waist. "No, please. No." He was close to tears again.
"Dennis, you've got to try. I survived it, you can too. It took years of therapy..." his voice trailed off.
"I want to live with you."
"You can't," he said with finality. "Sean would never go for it. He may try to get custody of his own son. If he does, we'll have to move. And Mom and Dad would never go for it. Not in a million years." He stroked Dennis' brown hair. "Look at me, Dennis." He lifted the boy's chin and looked into his dark blue eyes. They were fringed by eyelashes so dark and thick, it looked like he was wearing mascara and eyeliner. They were the Balzekas eyes. Tad's eyes were almost identical. "I love you. I really do. But I can't fight your battles for you. You have to find a way to work some things out for yourself. You can stay the night, then I'll drive you back tomorrow. I'll stick around for a couple hours to make sure he doesn't hit you. You know Dad. He usually gets over it after a day or so." He guided him toward the bathroom. "Here's a towel. Go get cleaned up. I have a pair of sweats that might fit you."
Once Dennis was in the shower, he remembered what he and Peter had done in the fort. He considered telling Tad for a second, then dismissed the idea. He was simply too ashamed.
Later on, Dennis cuddled in his older brother's lap, safe and secure as they watched TV. Tad could still smell the scent of the shampoo in his damp hair. Tad rocked him gently and hummed Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Tad thought I wish there were a way I could raise him. I wish I could figure out a way for him to live with me. He needs a chance to be a kid.
"Where have you been?" Marion demanded when Dennis entered the house with Tad right behind him.
"I was at Tad's," he answered simply.
"Your father is looking for you. He wants to talk to you. Alone. And he's not in a good mood."
The phrase not in a good mood was a red flag to Dennis and Tad. It meant their father had been drinking.
"Where is he?" Dennis asked.
"In the basement."
Dennis turned to Tad. "Please stay for a minute." He meant maybe if you stay, he won't beat me.
Tad smiled bravely. "I will."
Dennis started down the stairs.
In the kitchen, Marion offered Tad a cup of coffee. She, at least, was much friendlier toward him since he was out on his own.
Dennis approached his father's basement workshop cautiously. It was forbidden space. Dennis loved the smell of the freshly cut wood and the male scent that lingered. But to enter without Stan's permission was sure to bring a beating.
"Get in here," Stan's voice barked.
He produced the picture that he had drawn the day before in the fort. Jesus God, how did he get a hold of that?
"What is this?" Stan demanded.
Dennis remained silent. He knew from experience it was best.
"What is this?"
"I can see that. It's a picture of a guy."
"Why are you drawing pictures of guys? Are you queer?"
"No," Dennis answered, almost too quickly.
"Then why are you drawing pictures of guys?"
"Practice. All the great artists drew men. Michaelangelo...."
That comment earned him a painful slap. The sound of his hand smacking the flesh of Dennis' cheek echoed slightly off the concrete basement walls.
"Don't get smart with me. Well, that's three. Three whacks with the belt. One for talking back to me, one for the picture and one for running away. If you cry, it'll be four. Pull your pants down."
"Please, no, Dad." Dennis struggled to hold back tears.
"Now!" his father ordered.
Upstairs, in the kitchen, Tad and Marion had overheard the conversation. Tad's body jerked slightly with each whack as if he himself were being hit with the belt.
It brought back painful memories. Maybe Dennis is right. Maybe Dad is getting worse.
Tad's eyes brimmed with tears.
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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