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Note: Thanks to Tim and Rock for feedback on the draft chapters. I owe a special thanks to Robb for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.
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One of the guys on the track team gave me a ride over to Derek's.
He was sitting in the kitchen when I knocked on the back door.
"Hey, Brett, come on in. Man, you look kinda down. Did you guys lose the meet?"
"No, we won the meet. I'm down `cause someone smashed in the windows of my car."
"Oh, jeez. What are you going to do?"
"Can I use your phone to call Daddy?"
"You know where it is."
When I got off the phone with Daddy, Mrs. Jackson was standing next to Derek.
"Derek told me about your car, Brett. I'm sorry. What are you going to do?"
"Thank you, Ma'am. Daddy wants me to call the police, and then see if I can drive the car back out to the house. We can cover the windows with plastic or tarp until the insurance adjustor comes out to take a look. Daddy says the damage should be covered by the insurance. After the incident with the tires, he made me add some extra coverage on the insurance policy. I grumbled about the cost at the time, but now I'm glad. It took me long enough to earn the money to replace the tires; it's no telling how long it would take me if I had to replace all the windows on my own."
I turned to Derek. "Man, I'm sorry. It doesn't look like I'll be able to spend the night."
"Listen, you call the cops, then I'll take you back over to school. If the car's drivable, I'll follow you out to your house. We'll just spend the night out there."
The police took their sweet time about showing up in the parking lot. Derek and I waited for at least an hour. Once they got there, they weren't too interested in doing anything except writing out their report and then getting back into their patrol car.
"Do you have any idea who might have done this?" The cop asked me.
I told him I didn't.
I discovered that if I crouched down close to the steering wheel, I could see out of the windshield, sort of like when you've got frost on the windshield and you're letting the defroster clear the glass instead of getting your ass out in the cold and scraping it off. I had a view, but it wasn't very good. Derek led the way in his Jeep, and I followed.
At home, Daddy and Scott helped us seal the windows with duct tape and plastic garbage bags to keep rain out of the car, then we all went inside. Daddy excused himself soon after that saying his back was hurting him.
Derek, Scott, and I talked for a little while up in my room. Actually, they talked. I was getting a headache from all the tension, so I didn't take a very active part in the conversation.
After Scott left, Derek and I took turns in the bathroom to pee and brush our teeth, and then settled down on my bed in just our boxers.
"You're really quiet tonight. Are you that pissed about your car?"
"Yeah, I'm pissed. Insurance will cover the windows, but it sure seems like someone's out to get me."
"You told the cop that you didn't have any idea who it could be, but that wasn't true, was it? I can tell when you're not telling the truth; your right eyebrow does a little dance."
I chuckled, "You're right. I think it was Bull Cook or one of his cronies, but I don't have any proof. However, I'm not going to bring the car to school anymore after the windows are replaced. I'd be worried all the time that something else would happen. It's just too much hassle. It pisses me off, but Bull's won this round."
"Is that all that's bugging you?"
"No, I got a headache. Must be all the tension."
"That's understandable. I can help with that."
He scooted up so he was sitting with his back against the headboard of the bed. He spread his legs apart giving me a brief glimpse of his package up the leg of his boxer shorts.
He patted the bed in between his spread thighs. "Plunk your butt down right here and face away from me."
I followed his instructions. He put his hands on either side of my head and leaned me backwards until my back was in full contact with his chest and stomach. He then started massaging my temples.
"I do this to Nana when she has a headache."
"You get in bed with your grandmother?"
He thunked the top of my head with his thumb, "No, smart ass. She sits in a chair, and I sit in one right behind her. You don't have two chairs in your room."
"I don't care how you do it; that feels wonderful."
And it did. I felt the tension leave as his fingers pressed against my temples and his thumbs worked the muscles at the back of my neck. The tension may have been leaving my neck and head, but it was moving to other parts of my body. The skin-to-skin contact all up my back was pure pleasure, and my dick began to respond. To hide my growing hardness, I slumped over to one side so it would be more difficult for Derek to see the tent in my boxers.
My movement opened more of my neck and back to his able and talented fingers. I was in heaven. I slumped further over to the side. I could either concentrate on the feelings in my groin and risk coming inside my underwear, or I could try to concentrate on going to sleep. I chose the second course.
I drifted closer and closer to sleep. Still Derek massaged my head, neck, and shoulders. His hands occasionally wandered as far down as the small of my back. I moved into that state just between sleep and wakefulness. I felt Derek slide his leg out from under me and stretch out behind me on the bed.
He wrapped his arm around my chest. "Goodnight, Brett." I felt his lips against the nape of my neck. Did he just kiss my neck? No, I must already be asleep.
I didn't say anything about the kiss the next morning, and neither did Derek. By the time he drove me into town to go to work, I'd convinced myself that I'd been dreaming.
Our insurance company took care of the damage to my car windows. The glass repairman even came out to the house one day the next week while I was at school. Even though the car was fixed, Daddy agreed that it wouldn't be a good idea for me to drive it to school. I was back to taking the big yellow school bus in the mornings and jogging or walking home after track practice in the afternoons.
I didn't see much of Derek over the next week. The junior prom was the next weekend. I wasn't going, of course, but Derek had a date who had arranged for some sort of before-the-prom party on Friday night and then the prom itself on Saturday followed by a picnic on Sunday.
Spring was in full season in Southern Georgia that weekend. Daddy was feeling pretty good, so Scott and I set up a picnic in the back yard on the day of the prom. After the picnic, Scott went back to his room to work on a social studies project he had due on Monday. Daddy and I stayed out in the yard and talked.
We talked for a long while about a whole bunch of things. He encouraged me to think about applying to colleges for the year after next. When I told him I thought I might go into the Army first because we didn't have the money for college tuition, he told me in no uncertain terms that he didn't want me to go into the Service.
"This is just like it was when I was gettin' out of high school. Our fool president has us in a war that's costin' lots of lives and money, and there's no reason for it. I saw things in Viet Nam that I don't want you or Scott to see...ever. You apply to colleges and for scholarships. We'll find a way to do it."
Then he said, "How are you and Derek gettin' along?"
"Fine, Daddy. We're just fine."
"Have you told him that you're gay?"
"No, Sir. I don't think I'm ready to do that yet. I'm afraid I might lose him as a friend."
"Brett, if he's a true friend, it won't make any difference to him."
"Daddy, my mind tells me that, but I just can't bring myself to tell him yet."
"It's hard not livin' the truth with your best friend."
"I know...I know. I'll tell him soon, Daddy. I promise."
That night I made up my mind to come out to Derek the next weekend he was out at the house.
I didn't get the chance.
Derek didn't come out on Friday. Instead I attended his grandmother's funeral.
Derek's grandfather took some breakfast into his wife on Tuesday morning, but she wouldn't wake up. He called the ambulance, and they rushed her up to the hospital in Waycross, She'd had a stroke during the night, and she died the next morning without ever regaining consciousness.
It was a huge funeral. Derek's grandfather was a state senator, and Derek's father was the likely Democratic candidate for Congress in the next election. The funeral was at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Black church in town. So many people were expected for the funeral that they set up chairs in the fellowship hall and church yard with several television monitors so that ordinary folks, like me, could see what was happening in the sanctuary. The inside of the church was filled with important people, like the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the President of the State Senate, most of the state legislators, and most every Democratic politician in South Georgia.
Following the service, the casket was carried out the front door of the church and into the graveyard next door. I stood on the low stone wall of the graveyard at the edge of the crowd and watched as the minister said a long prayer, and then Mrs. Jackson's casket was lowered into the open grave.
The reception was set up in the fellowship hall after the burial. The line was long, and extended out of the fellowship hall and around the front of the church under the shade of two live oak trees. It moved slowly. I stood in the line with Antonio and Angelina Tarricone. It was almost an hour before we got close to Derek's family. All the really important people like the Governor and members of the legislature had been at the head of the line. Ordinary people, like me, were at the back of the line.
Derek's grandfather was flanked by Derek's father and mother. They were all red-eyed and looked tired. Guess I would be tired too, if I'd stood there and shook all those hands. Derek and his sister were next to them.
I shook Derek's father's hand, and told him how sorry I was for his loss.
I moved to Derek's grandfather, and I was surprised when he grabbed my hand and pulled me into a hug.
"Thank you for coming, Brett."
Next was Derek's mother. I got a quick hug from her as well.
"Thank you, Brett, for being such a good friend to Derek. There are going to be people coming over to our house when this is over. Would you come over, too? I think Derek would appreciate having someone his age there."
"Yes, ma'am, I will."
"Thank you." She gave me a kiss on the cheek. The hug had surprised me. The kiss on my cheek was another surprise.
Next were Derek and his sister. I wasn't surprised when Derek drew me into a hug, but I was surprised to feel his sister join in the embrace, after all, she mostly ignored me when I was over at the Jacksons'.
"Your mother asked me to come over to your house. Is that okay with you?"
He gave the back of my neck a squeeze. "You know it is."
A steady stream of people showed up at the house. Most only stayed a few minutes to say something to Derek's grandfather, but some of them camped in the living room and den and looked like they were settling in for the entire evening.
Derek and I ended up taking drink orders, replenishing the hors d'oeuvre trays, and washing plates and glasses by hand so they were clean for the next round of guests. We had to do them by hand because the dishwasher would have been too slow to keep up with the demand for clean glasses, plates, and silverware. I even had to run out to Tarricone's at one point to buy more large bottles of cokes.
By 9:30 everyone had finally left. Derek's mother, father, and grandfather sat exhausted in the living room. Derek's sister had long since disappeared to her room. Derek and I made one more pass through the house collecting used plates and glasses. We loaded everything into the dishwasher, turned it on, and then went to join the adults in the living room.
We all sat in silence for several minutes. Finally, I got up and announced that I was going to go home. Everyone struggled to their feet to say `thank you' and to give me a hug before I left.
It was almost 10:30 by the time I got home. It had been a long day for me. It had been an even longer one for Derek's family.
School was coming to a close for the year. The baseball and track seasons were essentially over. The baseball team had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The track team only had one more meet, and it was at home.
That Friday night after my last track meet and the end of regular classes before the start of exams, Derek came out to spend the night. It was the first time since his grandmother's passing almost three weeks before.
The night was warm. We'd pulled a mattress out onto the second floor porch and were sprawled on it clad just in our boxers. Scott was spending the night at a friend's house, so Derek and I had the whole porch to ourselves.
"How's your grandfather doing?"
"He's doing okay. He spends a lot of time over at our house. I know he misses Nana. The rest of us do too."
"I still miss my mother. Most of the time I don't think about her anymore, but then other times it's like it was only yesterday when she was killed in that accident. I know Daddy still misses her, and probably will `til his dying day."
Derek lay back on the mattress and put his hands behind his head. It was dark outside, but his milk chocolate body stood out against the lighter color of the sheets. I could make out the darker shadow that was the thick, wiry patch of hair in his armpits.
I swallowed hard. This was the night I was going to tell him.
"Derek, I've got something I need to tell you."
"Okay, what is it?"
"Derek, did you hear me?"
"I heard you...I think I need to go home."
(To be continued)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some of the characters who play parts in this story were previously introduced in "When Love Comes" (last posted in the College section on Sept. 6, 2001), "Love of a Lifetime" (last posted in the College section on May 19, 2003), "Finding Family" (last posted in the College section on June 5, 2008), or "Construction Job" (last posted in the College section on July 24, 2008). While not necessary, readers may find it useful to read the earlier stories posted on this site. All of the Adams State/Carterville stories listed above as well as my other stories are also posted at www.crvboy.com.
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