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.
Dennis had heard about the neighborhood from his brother Tad. He was seeking refuge from his father again in Tad's apartment. He could sneak out and come to Boys Town on his own. What made it even more fun was that Sean was gone to another conference and Tad had given him the extra key to the apartment. Sean would have disapproved. He loved having the key to the apartment -- he could come and go as he pleased and he rejoiced in that freedom. He had stolen $20 from his mother's purse and he was free to wander as he pleased. That, and the fact that he had mastered the CTA gave him the city. It was his city. And Boys Town was his real home. In Boys Town, he was not a freak or an oddity. He felt normal and accepted precisely because he was gay.
His first two excursions were only to explore. This was his third trip. His palms were moist with anticipation. His travel route took him north on the 53/Kedzie bus to the Orange Line 'L'. He could have gone east to the Green Line at Ashland and 63rd or even the Red Line in the median of the Dan Ryan Expressway, but they both were east of Western. As most South Siders know, white people didn't venture east of Western Avenue. It was the racial dividing line. Even south of Marquette Park, African Americans had washed ashore on the west side of Western. One of the debits of Chicago is that it is perhaps one of the most racially divided cities in America. Even decades of racial progress, school integration, and social reform could not completely erase the lines. Even the suburbs were racially divided, except such bastions of liberalism such as Evanston, Oak Park, and Park Forest.
Once on the Orange Line train, he would arrive downtown on the famous Loop that encircled the downtown area in less than 15 minutes. There, he would transfer to a Brown Line train and continue his journey north. He decided he would exit the Ravenswood line at Diversey this time and walk north. On the previous two occasions he had started further north and walked south. This time, he would do the opposite.
He was dressed for the occasion. He wore his well-faded Levi's and a pair of black army boots he had purchased from an army-navy surplus store on 63rd Street. He had a Chicago White Sox baseball cap on backwards. He liked the irony of wearing a White Sox article in the Cubs home turf. Underneath his prized knee-length coat, he wore a medium blue sweatshirt. Blue was his best color, he knew. It set off his eyes and complimented his skin. He looked good, and there was a bounce in his step as he detrained at Diversey and started east.
Under his jeans, he wore Peter's jockstrap. He didn't have one of his own, yet. The jockstrap was a solution to a problem he had observed on his last trip. He noticed that men would meet his eyes with interest, then their eyes would dart down to his crotch. It made him feel uncomfortable, and his large cock embarrassed him. It was bad enough that the other boys teased him in the locker room at school. He didn't need total strangers checking out his package. What Dennis had yet to learn is that the behavior was somewhat normal in the gay community, if a bit rude, and a backhanded compliment.
At the corner where Diversey, Clark and Broadway meet, he spotted The Great Ace. It was an Ace Hardware store unlike any other. It was particularly suited for the neighborhood, and did a booming business. He enjoyed looking at the displays of ready-to-assemble furniture, futons, lamps, picture frames, artwork and even silk flower arrangements. There were also small appliances, light bulbs, plasticware such as garbage cans and laundry baskets, brooms, mops and cleaning supplies. The proprietors had smartly placed all the necessities for a couple setting up a nest in the neighborhood. Nowhere could he see any traditional hardware. All the nails, nuts, bolts, hammers, ladders and power tools were located on the lower level.
When he had finished, he crossed Clark Street to The Century. The Century had been a movie palace years ago. In the late 1970's some entrepreneurs got the idea to transform the building into a shopping mall. They gutted the building and opened the center to a skylight. A giant spiral of stores surrounded the center court seven levels to the skylight. Three sleek glass-enclosed elevators invited on the main level. The idea was to start at the top and shop one's way back down. That's exactly what Dennis did. As he entered one elevator he spotted a boy about sixteen leaning against the wall. He wore a black leather biker jacket and jeans. He had an asymmetrical haircut, with long bangs on the left side and closely shaved on the right. Their eyes met for a millisecond and Dennis noticed his beautiful blue eyes. The kid grinned and his parted lips revealed a perfect smile. He made Dennis nervous.
He felt a bit of vertigo as he rode up on the swift elevators, still he enjoyed the height. Some of the stores were the same to be found at any suburban mall; County Seat, Kinney Shoes, and a Hallmark store. Still others were unique to the trendy urban neighborhood. There was a store that specialized in kites and balloons. A very hip men's clothing store featured the latest fashions in sparse displays illuminated by halogen lamps.
When he had reached the second level, he spotted a bookstore. He recognized the name of the store -- there was one like it in Lincoln Mall. But this one looked different. It had royal blue and sea foam green fixtures with red and yellow highlights. It was a branch of the same chain as the one Matt managed in Oak Ridge Mall.
Once inside, he made a beeline for the magazine rack. There, he found that the manager of this particular bookstore had made accommodations for the neighborhood, as well. On the top two tiers of the top rack, he spotted all sorts of gay flesh magazines: Playguy, Inches, In Touch, Jock, Torso, Advocate Men and Fresh Men. There were no other browsers at the rack. The lone employee was busy unpacking a box of books. He nervously looked over his shoulder and took a Jock from the rack. He had never seen such photos in his life! His dick immediately strained at the jock strap he was wearing. Suddenly, he was not alone!
At his elbow, was the same kid who had watched him get on the elevator. He picked up an Inches.
"Don't worry about this clerk," he whispered. "He's a fag, too."
Dennis started to get nervous, again. He was uncomfortable with the attention of the older boy, and speaking to a stranger was not acceptable. Surely this kid must know the rules of city living: mind your own business, don't talk to strangers.
"It's OK, kid. I'm one, too." He looked over his shoulder. "Wanna go for a Coke or something?"
"No, thanks." Dennis hastily returned the magazine to it's place on the rack and trotted out of the store.
The image of the handsome boy in the leather jacket haunted him on his journey home. It was already dark by time he started toward Tad's apartment. From the brightly lit rapid transit car, it was difficult to see anything out of the tinted glass. But he could see his reflection in the window. He imagined it was a handsome boy with blue eyes and a dangerous grin.
When Dennis returned to Hyde Park, Tad had a friend over. Tad's friend Michael (it was never just Mike) was about his age with platinum blond hair that he kept cut very short and bright blue eyes. Dennis disliked Michael. He was mean-spirited and bitter and rude to Dennis. Dennis never understood why Tad hung out with him, but he didn't dare question it since he was on thin ice as it was. He was staying at Tad's apartment, which Sean disapproved of, and Tad could boot him out at any moment.
They were in the living room talking. Michael was smoking and gesturing grandly with his hands. Michael seldom flicked his ashes in the ashtray and Dennis always watched him, hoping he would get ashes on the furniture. Dennis retrieved a Coke from the refrigerator and joined them without comment.
The living room was tastefully decorated with oatmeal-colored furniture. Dennis was always afraid of getting it dirty. The walls were painted eggplant and the trim in forest green. There was an eggplant and green area rug on the floor and the curtains were oatmeal with green trim. All the furniture and accessories matched. Dennis marveled at the coordination of colors and textures. Still, it was not a comfortable room. One did not sprawl on the couch to watch TV or set a glass on the furniture without a coaster underneath. Dennis guessed that such maintenance kept the room looking good.
Sean encouraged Tad to maintain his friendships outside their relationship partially because of his frequent trips but made it clear that no sex was to be involved and when he returned, Tad was to focus full attention on him.
"Use the coaster, please," Tad commanded Dennis. He had tried to put his can of Coke on the side table without protection.
Dennis sighed but complied.
"So, where is your sugar daddy this time?" Michael asked.
"He's not my sugar daddy, bitch!" Dennis had never heard Tad speak so sharply to Michael. "I support myself. Besides, he's only eleven years older than I am."
"Well, excuse me, Missy." He lit another cigarette with a Colibri lighter that ignited with a loud click. Michael disdained common Bic lighters.
"He's at another conference in Arizona at the Keck Observatory."
"Why do they have these conferences in such out of the way places? Couldn't they have one in San Francisco?"
"Because they center around a telescope or observatory. And they are always on a mountaintop or away from city lights."
"Good thing I'm not an astronomer. I'd die if there wasn't a bar within walking distance." Michael was a stereotypical barfly. Had he been born a decade earlier, he surely would have tried to get into Studio 54. He was a superior dancer who often stripped off his shirt while he danced, regardless of the weather outside. At the huge dance emporiums on Halsted and Clark, he was often the center of attention. Sean didn't accompany them on their trips. He had discovered it was to taxing to drink and stay out late. Just one late night could make him tired for a week. But Sean was smart enough to let his younger, more energetic lover have the space to go without him a few times a year.
Dennis sat and listened to the conversation with rapt attention. After all, they were describing his future as a gay man.
"So, where are we going, tonight?" Michael asked. By this time, almost half the cigarette had burned, and Michael had not flicked the ash. Please let him get ashes on the couch. Or better yet, an ember.
Tad darted an eye movement toward Dennis. Michael picked up on the cue. "Well, I am a bit cash-challenged at the moment."
"Oh, come on, chicken shit."
"I don't want to leave Dennis alone."
"He can go home, can't he, darling?" He snuffed out his current cigarette.
Dennis and Tad exchanged looks. Michael smirked, and Dennis wanted to wipe it off with a hammer. Michael knew about the trouble in the Balzekas house and knew that Dennis came here for refuge. He also knew that Sean basically didn't want Dennis at the apartment. It was a thinly veiled threat.
I wonder if he knows Sean doesn't like him, either, Dennis thought.
Tad forced a smile. "I think I can trust Dennis here tonight." He pulled out his wallet and handed his brother a ten-dollar bill. "Get yourself something to eat and behave yourself. You can watch TV tonight, but stay off the phone."
Michael pursed his lips into a frown. He had lost this round. He clicked his lighter three times before it ignited. He crosses his legs at the knees and regarded Dennis.
Shit, Dennis thought. He didn't drop an ash on the furniture. Maybe next time.
Naturally Dennis had no intention of staying in the apartment. As soon as Michael's cigarette smoke had seeped into the fabrics of the living room, Dennis took a shower, gelled his hair and even borrowed his big brother's razor to shave the very light fuzz on his upper lip and sideburns. He also splashed on some of his very expensive Obsession cologne.
In December, the sun can set as early as 4:30 in Chicago. As soon as it does, winter takes back the city with a vengeance. Dressed in what Dennis now considered his North Side outfit, he walked the block-and-a-half distance to the Metra commuter station.
Despite the location of the University of Hyde Park and the Museum of Science and Industry, Hyde Park had no access to CTA's rapid transit system. The nearest was the Green Line, but to access the Green Line about a half-mile to the west, Dennis would have to travel through a dangerous neighborhood at night. It was just too risky.
The Metra tracks were elevated from the street on an embankment. To reach the platform, he entered the station from street level on 53rd Street. Inside the tiny station the ticket seller's window was closed, as it had been for more than twenty years. He purchased a round-trip ticket from a vending machine and grabbed a timetable and tucked it in his back pocket.
He exited the second downtown station, Van Buren, walked up to street level, then a block west to the Loop. There, he boarded the Brown Line to the north side.
The first order of business was to get something to eat. He remembered a place he had seen that afternoon, and decided that he would head there first.
At the corner of Diversey and Clark was a gyros joint. Brightly lit by the fluorescent lights, he was the next customer in line. He ordered a gyro and an order of fries. He watched the Greek man as he sliced the huge spit of meat on a vertical rotisserie with the precision of a surgeon. Dennis wondered how anything that looked so unappetizing could be so delicious.
Moments later, he dove into the delicious sandwich. The lamb was perfect; flavored with garlic and other herbs and slightly crunchy. The pita had been threatened with heat on a grill. The yogurt and cucumber sauce oozed between his fingers. The counter man had asked him if he wanted onions. Dennis told him he did. After all, he wasn't going to be kissing anyone. Was he?
Satiated and warmed by the food, he started his journey north on Halsted.
To Dennis' eyes, North Halsted Street at night looked like Disney World for adults. Of course, he had never been to Disney, but this is how he imagined it would look. On both sides of the street, there were gay bars and shops and services. Male and female couples bumped bodies with casual familiarity as they paused to look at the shop windows or waited for a bus. The couples never really held hands or put their arms around each other, but it was obvious to Dennis that they were together.
The Rainbow flag was apparent everywhere -- in windows and hanging from storefronts. It would be a few years until Mayor Daley installed the controversial pylons with concentric neon in rainbow colors. The younger Daley was aware of the gay community's contribution to the city. He was also big on neighborhood improvements. His proposal to erect the pylons was protested by some who argued that gay people weren't really a minority and shouldn't get special recognition. Daley autocratically overruled them and had them built anyway.
Dennis huddled in his knee-length coat as he walked down North Halsted Street. He had no idea what he was doing here for the second time that day, but he wanted to commune with his tribe again. He wanted to dance with the natives, dress in the local costume, listen to the primitive tribal beats and observe (and perhaps even participate) in mating rituals.
The neighborhood became more and more gay as he walked north. He wished he was old enough to get into a bar. He really wasn't interested in drinking. His father was a drunk, and he had no intentions of following in his footsteps. He just wanted to dance under the bright lights and videos. Some weed might be good, though. It would loosen him up and help him to relax. But why do I need to relax? What am I so tense for?
Displays of affection were more apparent at night than they were during the day, he noticed. It was still early in the evening so the crowds were relatively light yet. At an alley near the We're Everywhere store, he saw a couple behind a dumpster. One man was leaning with his back to a brick wall, his nose pointed up and his eyes closed. Another man was crouching in front of him, giving him a blow job. They were both oblivious to Dennis as he stood watching them with his mouth agape. He watched for a long moment, and continued to watch over his shoulder as he started on his way again.
He ran right into someone!
The odor of leather hit his nostrils immediately.
He looked up into blue eyes, an asymmetrical haircut and a mischievous grin. All three were owned by the same boy he had seen in the bookstore in The Century!
The boy took him by the shoulders. "Hey, take it easy!"
"I-I-I'm so sorry."
The boy laughed. "Don't worry about it. It's nice running into you again. Literally." He laughed at his own joke and held out his hand. "I'm Scott."
"Hi, Scott. I'm Dennis."
"Where are you going?"
"Nowhere. I mean, I was ."
"Hey, it's cool. No problem. You're new. I can always tell a virgin."
Shit. I tried to look so sophisticated.
His disappointment must have shown on his face because Scott put an affectionate hand on his ear, and smiled again. "No sweat. Your secret is safe with me." He hooked his elbow around the younger boy's neck. "You're really cute, you know that?"
Dennis blushed. "Thanks," he stammered.
"Let's get out of the cold for a while."
"My dad's house. I visit him on the weekends. It's just a couple blocks from here."
"I dont know ."
"Its totally cool. My dad knows all about me. He's gay, too. And I have some killer weed."
Scott had said the magic phrase. Dennis smiled. "OK."
Scott draped an arm around his shoulders while they walked. Dennis loved the feeling of the handsome teenager's body as it bumped against his. They walked a few blocks north on Halsted to Aldine then east for a block. They stopped in front of a two-story brownstone. Scott produced a key and without a word, they went up to the second floor.
"Ted?" Scott called once inside the living room.
There was no answer.
"You call your dad by his first name?"
Scott shrugged. "Sure."
The living room was perhaps fifteen feet square with rich wood trim at the baseboards, the ceiling and around the windows. The windows facing the street were bay windows. The furniture was eclectic and tastefully arranged. It looked like a photo shoot for House and Garden. The adjoining dining room was done in a similar Art Deco theme. Everywhere, there were framed posters advertising the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair.
"Let me take your coat," Scott offered. "I'll show you around." The flat was divided in half vertically. On the left side were three tiny bedrooms and on the right the living room, dining room, bathroom and small kitchen.
"This is my dad's room," he gestured to a tiny bedroom off the dining area. The computer room was the middle bedroom. Scott's room was the back bedroom which opened into the kitchen.
He flicked on a halogen desk lamp and they sat on the edge of the bed. From the top desk drawer, Scott produced a hitter box, and a baggie rolled and sealed into the shape of a tube. He carefully poured some of the pot into the storage chamber of the hitter box. He took the brass rod and worked it until an amount of marijuana was packed into the end of the tube.
"Have you ever done a hitter before?"
"No," Dennis confessed. "Only joints."
"Let me show you, then." He demonstrated how to light it without getting the entire rod hot, and how to take a hit. When the pot was cashed, he flicked the ashes into an ashtray. He reloaded the rod for Dennis.
"Take it easy. This is good shit," Scott cautioned.
Indeed it was. Before he knew it he was high. And he was thirsty.
"Want a beer?" Scott offered.
"No, a Coke, please."
Scott returned with the Coke and a beer for himself. He sat on the edge of the bed and kissed Dennis. Dennis could hardly believe it was happening. The most beautiful teenage was kissing him. It was incredible.
Scott asked him about his family, school and his friends. Dennis thought that it was very sweet that Scott was taking an interest in him as a person and not just a sex object. They talked for a while face to face on the bed. Scott continued to stroke and pet Dennis as if he were a cat. Dennis loved the attention, and if it were possible for a boy to purr, he would have.
Before long, Scott had worked his big hands under Dennis' sweatshirt. He tweaked his nipples and Dennis giggled. They kissed for a long time, drinking in each other's youth and beauty.
Scott reached down and squeezed Dennis' crotch.
"What's this?" he asked playfully, referring to the large erection Dennis had developed. "I want to suck you," he whispered in his ear.
Dennis could only pant. A fleeting thought of his breath passed through his mind. Could Scott smell the onions?
Dennis was excited beyond words. He was high, and a handsome teenager propositioned him.
"Let me suck your stuff," Scott whispered again.
Dennis could only nod.
Scott struggled with the boy's jeans. His eyes widened slightly at the sight of his jock strap.
"God, you have a big dick for a kid your age," he said before swallowing the entire shaft.
Dennis had yet to learn sexual endurance and before long, he shot his load into the older boy's throat.
"I-I-I'm sorry," he mumbled.
"For what, precious?"
"I didn't want to .I didn't mean to .."
"Shh-h-h! It's OK, sweetie. We'll work on that. I can teach you." He kissed his neck and ear. "I like your cologne."
"I want to see you again. Can we? Get together again, I mean?"
"Yeah, but how? You can't call me. I'd get killed."
"You can call me. Or better yet, I have an extra beeper. They're easy to hide. I can beep you and leave a number where you can call me back."
He produced a translucent blue beeper and demonstrated how it worked. Dennis smiled at him.
In another part of the apartment, they both heard the front door open and close. Someone was there!
"Shit!" Dennis exclaimed.
"It's OK! It's probably just my dad. Remember, I told you it was cool."
Dennis opened the door and closed it behind him softly. He could hear snippets of the conversation in the kitchen.
"How is he?"
"Young and very green. But he's got a huge dick. And he's beautiful."
"Think he'll be OK?"
"He'll take a little training. Fucked up family situation. So that part's good."
Dennis had finished dressing and tying his boots. He had to get home. He checked the Metra schedule in his back pocket. On a Saturday night, the trains became few and far between. He's better get going.
As Dennis opened the bedroom door, a short man held out his hand. He was very ugly, Dennis thought. He had a greasy smile.
"Hello, young man. My name is Ted." Ted as a strong lisp.
"How are you getting home?" Scott asked.
Dennis explained his route.
"I think, since we have a visitor from the south side," Ted said as he tweaked Dennis' White Sox cap, "that you may borrow the car to drive him home. I would hate for him to take the CTA at this time of night. It could be dangerous."
"Thanks," Scott said. And then after a long moment added, "Dad."
"Nice to meet you, Dennis. You are welcome here anytime."
Soon they were sailing south on Lake Shore Drive in Ted's white El Dorado. Scott steered with his left hand and held Dennis' hand with his right. Dennis snuggled up to him as close as he could. As they crossed the Chicago River to the Southland, Dennis suddenly had the sense that he had left something behind.
He had not left any belongings behind that night in the brownstone on Aldine. What he had left behind was his innocence.
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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