SUMMARY: At a time of national turmoil, the lives of four boys become connected as each struggles to accept his sexuality and to address the challenges he faces in life. To the extent the boys succeed in coming to grips with those challenges, it may be in ways that prove surprising or troubling. This story is also being published on my blog and you can find a longer synopsis there. While some events, locations and features in the story have been moved forward or back in time for dramatic and other purposes, it takes place during an era when prejudice against homosexuals is rampant and the gay revolution in America is still in its infancy. Italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
WARNING: Sex is not the primary focus of this story. If you're looking for erotic content, you'll do much better with other stories on Nifty. While sexual content is secondary and incidental, the story does include some scenes that depict sex and violence, sometimes graphically depending upon the characters and circumstances involved. For that reason, the story is intended for mature audiences only. If you do not wish to read such material or it is illegal for you to do so, please look elsewhere. The story remains the property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author, but you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not use any of the characters, bars or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon this story in any way.
AUTHOR NOTES: This is my first effort at writing a story. As a general rule, I only plan to publish one chapter a week and you'll always find the latest chapter on my blog initially. However, I may publish more frequently on Nifty during the first month. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be ignored. If you would like to let me know what you think, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 4, Nolan spends time reflecting on the afternoon fun he shared with Josh. Never having had a close friend before, he desperately wants to be friends with him. While he recognizes he's sexually attracted to Josh as well, he's certain Josh isn't homosexual like himself. He promises himself to be a better friend. That evening, however, he draws Josh into a conversation about sex and homosexuals. It's only then he discovers Josh isn't that comfortable discussing sex. The evening ends inconclusively with the boys rolling around on the ground after Josh discovers the term "sweetie" is one of Nolan's major vulnerabilities.
Part I - Innocence Aroused
“Wake up, Nolan,” I heard the voice say. “It’s time to get up, sweetie.”
I was expecting to hear a voice, of course, but this definitely wasn’t the voice I was expecting to hear. It was my Mom’s voice, the same irritating voice that woke me every morning for school. I remember wondering why she was waking me up now. We were on vacation for one thing. And for another, I already knew waking me up was Josh’s job, not hers.
It was annoying hearing her voice, not his, annoying being called sweetie by her, not him. I closed my eyes tighter and tried to ignore her.
“Come on, Nolan,” she insisted. “It’s time to wake up. We have to go soon.”
Go? Go where? Go to hell I wanted to tell her, but I figured that would only make things worse.
“Go away,” I said. “Josh will wake me up when it’s time for breakfast.”
“Joshua isn’t here, sweetie,” she said. “So I’m waking you up this morning.
That startled me out of my slumber.
“Where is he,” I said, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and staring at my mother?
“He volunteered to go into town to get some things for his Mom. He won’t be back before we leave.”
“What do you mean, leave,” I asked? “Where are we going now? Do we always have to be going somewhere? Can’t we ever just stay where we are for a change?”
“We’re going to Burlington, Nolan,” she replied. “I told you about this before. We’re going to Burlington and we’re going to stay overnight. So be sure to pack an overnight bag with a change of clothes when you take your shower this morning.”
“I don’t want to go to Burlington, Mom,” I told her. “I promised Josh we’d go swimming today and that’s what I’m going to do. You and Dad can go to Burlington. I’m staying here,” I added, closing my eyes and pretending to go back to sleep.
“I’m afraid not, Nolan,” she replied. “You shouldn’t have promised Joshua without asking us first. We’ve been planning to go to Burlington all along as part of this trip and you’re coming along with us, young man.”
Shit, I remember thinking. It’s always the same thing, Ground Hog Day over and over again. They always make the plans and then drag me along. Why do they even bother? They know how miserable I’ll make them for doing this to me.
“That sucks, Mom,” I replied. “Big time. I didn’t even want to come to Vermont, but you and Dad forced me to. Then I get here and make a friend, but can I spend any time with him? No. I can't because you insist on dragging me along to some other dumb place where I don't have any friends. I suppose that’s what you and Dad have always wanted, for me not to have any friends.”
“You know better than to say something like that, Nolan. Joshua will still be here when we get back from our trip,” Mom reassured me. “So no more delay then. Go take a shower. Pack your overnight bag. And meet us downstairs for breakfast. And please don’t use the s word again, Nolan. I don’t like it at all when you use that word and I don’t want to hear it from you again.”
And with that she abruptly left.
I remember rolling over on to my back, then sighing. I knew I didn’t have any choice in the matter, but it still sucked. Big time. I grabbed what I needed from the tent and headed up to the house. I climbed the stairs to Josh’s room, stripped off my clothes, and took a quick shower. I started tossing some clothes in a bag, including three pairs of underwear. Then I looked over to the chair by the door.
There was a pair of Josh’s underwear hanging on the chair and this time they were dry. I decided to try them on and looked in the mirror.
White is definitely not my color. But they’re Josh’s so that makes them perfect for me.
I replaced them with the three pairs I had planned on taking. In spite of his protest, I still couldn’t believe Josh didn’t know a thing or two about being nasty and I figured he might need extras if I wasn’t going to be around to keep him company. It comforted me to think that. But I didn’t have a clue whether it was true or not.
As usual, breakfast that morning was good, blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. I loved that bacon and Josh’s Mom knew it by then. She had me pegged and was seducing me with more and more bacon. And the thing is, I was too weak to resist. I wanted to be seduced, by Josh, of course, but by bacon as well.
I would never eat a slice of bacon again in my life if I could have just one kiss from Josh, I remember telling myself as I shoveled another couple of slices of bacon into my mouth.
After we finished breakfast, I tried to drag out our departure, hoping against hope Josh might turn up before we left. But he didn’t. Finally, we got into the car and started off on still another adventure that held absolutely no interest at all for me.
Burlington is not the capital of Vermont, I learned soon enough from my Dad. It’s just the largest city. As cities go, it was kind of a pathetic one, not very big at all for one thing and quaint rather than in your face, like New York, for another. I pretty much hated the place on sight. I hated everything we did on that trip, at least until we got to the teddy bear store. There must have a gazillion teddy bears at the place.
For some reason known only to her, my Mom wanted to buy a teddy bear for one of those distant relatives no one knew very well, least of all me. Why she wanted to buy the girl a teddy bear I don’t know. But she did and that’s all that was needed to assure a trip to the store. With nothing much else to do, I remember looking around the place. Eventually I discovered a teddy bear they had dressed up in clothes just like mine. It also had a hell of a lot more hair on its body than I did. But other than that, the bear kind of looked like me too.
“Hey, I want to get this teddy bear, Mom,” I said. “It’s kind of expensive, but it looks just like me.”
“Aren’t you a little old for a teddy bear, Nolan,” my Dad interjected, and I could tell right away from the tone of his voice he disapproved. That’s the last thing I needed to hear right about then and only made me more determined than ever to get the damn bear.
“No, Dad, I’m not too old for a teddy bear,” I replied. “Lots of boys my age have teddy bears. And, besides, it’s not for me. It’s for Josh. I want to give it to him because it kind of looks like me the way they’ve dressed it up. It will help him remember me when I’m gone.”
“Well, Joshua is a big boy too,” my Dad countered. “I kind of doubt he wants a teddy bear, Nolan. We could get him something else instead if you want.”
“Like what,” I asked, annoyed?
“Well, I suppose we could get him a new swimsuit, for example. It seems like the one he has is very old and doesn’t really fit him very well.”
“It is, Dad,” I responded. “It’s old because he and his Mom don’t have any money to buy a new one. Unlike us, they’re poor. Do you even have a clue what that means, Dad? I’ve looked around Josh’s room. He doesn’t have much of anything. He doesn’t have any cool clothes. He doesn’t have any cool toys. He doesn’t have a computer even though practically everyone in high school needs one these days. In fact, he doesn’t have any cool electronics at all. The only thing he has is a bunch of freaking baseball cards he gets for free when he buys a package of bubble gum.”
“So, yeah, we can get him a cool pair of Speedos, Dad,” I continued, contempt dripping from my voice. “But he could use a lot more than a pair of Speedos, including this teddy bear. And you don’t have to worry about it either, Dad. You won’t have to pay for it. I’ll use my own money to buy it for him.”
“All of which comes from me, of course, Nolan,” Dad responded, annoyed. “The only money you have is from the allowance I give you, and it’s a very generous allowance I might add.”
Fuck off, you asshole, I wanted to scream. But I knew that would get Mom upset and she was my ace in the hole.
“Mom, would you please tell this husband of yours what I do to earn that allowance he gives me? Would you, please?”
“Oh, Jim, Nolan is right,” Mom responded, coming to my defense. “He does a lot around the house. If he wants to buy a teddy bear for his friend, I don’t see any harm in it. It’s nice he wants to do something for somebody else.”
So there, take that, Dad, you fucking asshole, I said to myself. If you want any tonight, you better know when to shut the fuck up and not mess with me or Mom.
As previously decreed, we stayed in Burlington that evening. I remember tossing and turning most of the night even though Nolan the Bear was sleeping with me. He was warm and cuddly, for sure, but all I could think about was Josh. I missed him. Big time.
I wanted to be back on the farm swimming with him, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with him, sleeping in the tent with him. I wanted to be with him all the time, but mostly what I wanted was for him to be in bed with me that evening.
I wonder whether he misses me as much as I miss him, I asked myself?
Of course not, you idiot, I answered. Josh isn’t a pervert like you, Nolan. Why would he miss you? He’s probably sorry he ever even invited you to share the tent with him.
You’re wrong about that, I replied to myself. He likes me. But just as a friend.
Maybe he even misses me a little. Not as much as I miss him, but that’s because I’m such a faggot. He likes me. Just in a different way, maybe a better way, a healthier way, a nobler way.
A way you could appreciate more if your mind wasn’t always in the gutter, I told myself.
I didn’t fall asleep for a long time just thinking about all of that and more. But eventually I did fall asleep even without Josh there to comfort me.
We spent more time wandering around Burlington the next day. As best I could tell, the whole thing seemed pretty aimless. My parents really didn’t have a clue what they wanted to do. They knew Burlington was the largest city in Vermont. They knew we should visit it. But they had no idea at all what to do once we actually got there. Finally I spotted a sign and that gave me an idea.
“Hey, Mom, could we go take a tour of the University of Vermont while we’re here,” I asked? “I know it’s a little late and we toured a bunch of places last spring, but I’m going to have to start applying to colleges when school starts this fall so why don’t we check out this one while we’re already here.”
“That’s a wonderful idea, sweetie,” Mom responded. “We should do that, Jim. It’s never too soon to be thinking about applying to college. I’m very pleased with Nolan for making that suggestion. We should do it.”
My father was smart enough to know when he was outnumbered so he just followed the signs to the campus. Someone directed us to the Visitors Center where we were able to pick up a map with a self-guided walking tour. It even took us by the Gut. I was pretty sure Josh would be excited to hear about that.
We spent a couple of hours late in the afternoon touring the place. The campus was really beautiful and I remember thinking I could get used to it pretty easily.
“Of course, it’s not like you’ll ever be going to school here,” my Mom said, interrupting my dream of going to UVM with Josh.
“Why not,” I asked, dejected, knowing another decision was about to be made?
“Well, for one thing, it’s very cold up here in Vermont in the winter, Nolan,” my mother cautioned. “You’re not use to that kind of cold.”
“Oh, I’m sure I could deal with it, Mom,” I replied. “Especially if I find just the right thing to keep me warm,” I added, trying to suppress the smirk that was creeping across my face.
And I know just what the right thing would be, Mom. Josh. Josh would be the perfect bed warmer for me!
“Well, I’m sure you could,” my Mom replied. “But you’re much too smart a boy for the University of Vermont. There’re much better schools for a boy like you.”
“Like what,” I asked?
“Well, for example, there’s Columbia in New York. You remember the tour we took there last spring. And some of the other places we toured like Yale and Harvard. Your Dad went to law school at Harvard. Or, if you insist on Vermont, there’s Middlebury College. Or even Williams College. That’s just over the border from Vermont in Massachusetts. Those are all excellent colleges that would suit you much better, sweetie.”
I figured it wasn’t the right time to get into an argument about it with her so I just let the whole thing drop. Eventually we ended our tour with a visit to the campus store. I bought a UVM t-shirt for myself and a matching one for Josh. They had all kinds of designs, but the ones I bought were definitely the sharpest. I thought he would like the shirt more than the matching shorts I bought for him since they were very short indeed. But I bought the shorts more for me than for Josh. I wanted to see him in those. A lot!
The trip to UVM had been unexpected and our visit to the campus store only put us further behind schedule. By the time we finished eating down by Lake Champlain, it was late. Given how my father drove, I knew it would be very late before we got back to the farm.
When we did finally get back, it was pretty apparent everyone was already in bed. But I was hoping Josh would still be up, waiting for me to get back.
“Josh, are you up,” I whispered after entering the tent? “Josh?”
But he didn’t respond.
I tried to make a little bit of a ruckus stripping my clothes off, hoping that might wake him up. But it didn’t. As best I could tell, he was sound asleep. And as much as I wanted to talk to him, I figured I shouldn’t wake him up just to do that.
Who knows, I remember thinking to myself? Maybe he’s dreaming about me.
Yeah, right, in your dreams, pervert.
Eventually I climbed into my sleeping bag, but I was still kind of restless. I knew I needed some relief so I started playing with myself as quietly as possible. I looked over towards Josh, but he was sleeping like a baby.
Later, I gave up waiting for him to wake up. Instead, I fell asleep as well.
The next morning my mother woke me up once again. By now this was becoming annoying. Seriously annoying!
“Where’s Josh,” I demanded to know? “This is his job, not yours.”
“I don’t know, Nolan. I just know you need to get up because we’re going for a little side trip this morning so your Dad can take us on a hike he wants to do.
“Not again, Mom,” I pouted. “Why do we have to do all these side trips all the time?”
“I’m not going through this again with you, Nolan,” she replied. “Just get yourself up and go shower. We’ll be back here for lunch and you can talk to Joshua then.”
I sighed. It wasn’t as bad as Burlington, but it was still a big disappointment. But I figured I could put up with it a little longer if we were coming back to the farm for lunch.
In the end, we spent more time getting to the place for the hike than we actually spent hiking. My Dad, ever the rugged outdoorsman, sprained his ankle early on and that was the end of our hike for the day.
When we finally pulled up to the farmhouse, I remember being really anxious. It had been forever since I had last seen Josh and I was really looking forward to it by then. The three of us went into the dining room and sat down. Eventually other people joined us, pretty much everyone who was staying at the place, except for Josh.
Where the hell are you, Josh, I remember thinking?
Finally, I couldn’t hold it in any more.
“Where’s Josh,” I asked his Mom?
“I don’t know exactly, Nolan,” she replied. “He finished his chores earlier than usual today and said he was going for a hike, that he needed to do some thinking. He said he would be back later this afternoon. But I don’t know exactly where he decided to go hiking.”
Great, I thought, that’s just great. Am I ever going to see him again, I wondered?
After lunch I was pretty bored. I decided to hang around on the front porch for a while hoping Josh would show up. But he didn’t and the boredom began to overwhelm me.
“Can I go swimming down at the lake,” I finally asked my mother?
“I don’t know,” she replied. “What do you think, Jim? I’d be a lot more comfortable if Joshua was with him. I know he’s a very good swimmer and I’m just not sure it would be safe for Nolan to go swimming by himself. Maybe I should go along with him?”
“No,” I insisted. “I want to be by myself. I won’t even go into the water if you’re worried about me that much. But I want to be alone so I can think about stuff.”
“Okay,” my Mom said, finally relenting. “You can go. And you can even go in the water if you promise me you’ll stay by the shore and not go out above your head.”
“Sure, Mom,” I promised, “whatever you say.”
By then I would have promised just about anything to be away from my parents.
I dashed upstairs and put on my new Speedos, the ones I had bought in Burlington that matched the ones I had bought for Josh. I grabbed the sunscreen and descended the stairs quickly. Before they could say anything, I was out the door and heading down the trail to the lake.
It took me a while to get there. As usual, no one else was around. I climbed out on to the rock and stripped off my Speedos. Hesitating momentarily, I finally decided not to put any of the sunscreen on. I figured I would never get a tan like Josh’s if I did.
I’m not sure how long I stayed at the lake that afternoon. It seemed like a long time to me. But it wasn’t nearly as much fun because Josh wasn’t there. I was all alone, just like I had been for years and years.
Why is Josh avoiding me, I remember asking myself? Has he finally figured it out? And if he has figured it out, just how much does he hate me? Is he planning to beat me up? Was that why he was avoiding me now, because he was trying to figure out exactly the best way to do it?
Eventually my thoughts were interrupted when I heard a rustling in the woods behind me. The next thing I knew Josh was climbing on to the rock. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
“Josh,” I said, turning around and smiling at him. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve missed you. Come on. Take off your clothes, Josh. Let’s go swimming together.”
“No,” Joshua said, firmly, and he wasn’t smiling.
“I don’t have my swimsuit with me and I don’t think we should go skinny dipping either. I mean, you can if you want, but I’m going home. If you want me to come back and go swimming with you, you have to promise me you’ll put on your Speedos.”
“They’re very nice, by the way,’ he added, complimenting me. “Way cool. I like them a lot.”
Was going all modest on me part of the plan, I wondered, his way of telling me what I already suspected, that he knew I was queer?
But I definitely wanted him to come back. There was no doubt about that.
“Sure, anything you want, Josh,” I said. “I just want to go swimming with you. I’ll put on my suit if you want. Just promise me you’ll come back.”
“Okay, I will,” Josh replied.
And with that he headed off to the farmhouse, running. I remember watching him disappear up the ledge and into the woods.
I was alone again.
Was I always going to be alone, I wondered?