This story is fiction. It depicts, sometimes explicitly, sex between teenage boys, between boys and men, and between boys and females, both teenage and adult. If you find such things offensive, or reading such things is illegal where you live, please read no further.

XVI. Jerry's Story

I don't remember much about my mom and dad at all. They died in a car accident when I was four. I'd be dead too, only I was sick with the flu, so they'd left me with a neighbor. I've often thought things would've been a lot simpler if I'd been with them. I spent most of my life in foster homes in small towns around Atlanta. The first one I remember much about was when I was six.

I had already been in three foster homes when I came to live with the Adams'. It was mid summer and I was supposed to start school in the fall, and once that happened, I knew things would be much better. Mom and Dad Adams - I never did know their names - had three children of their own: Melissa was about thirteen I think, Diane was ten, and Susan was nine. They were real excited about having a little brother, but I had already put up a pretty big guard. I remember being desperate for affection but afraid to show it, not knowing how long I'd be staying there. Even at six, I knew I was 'different', and the Adams, though they were good to me, always seemed to have little ways of reminding me that I wasn't really a part of their family, but just a boarder or something. Looking back now I can't recall a single incident, but that feeling of being an outsider was always with me. I remember watching the girls being cuddled and hugged by their mom and dad, but there never seemed to be any for me. At the time I thought it was because I was a boy, but I know now it was more than that.

When school started it was like having a new life. I made some friends, choosing them carefully so that they came on a bus from a different direction from the one I came on; that way they never had to know my secret, that I didn't really belong. I can really relate to how y'all must feel sometimes, being illegal aliens and all, because I felt that way in school. It was as if I was somehow different from the other kids, and in my mind I could never have a real friendship because once they found out I was a foster kid, that would be the end.

I did well in school and was very happy, being absolutely fascinated by the secrets I could unlock from books by learning to read. By Christmas I was reading everything I could get my hands on, at least in the way of children's books, so naturally that's all that was on my list for Santa. The Adams' had other ideas. They were not much for scholarly things, having the attitude that it was up to the schools to do the educating, and they saw no need to encourage or enhance the process. And besides, I was a foster child, and there were things I needed much more than books.

So I got clothes. Not nice things necessarily, but underwear, socks, a new coat, which I did appreciate, and some candy. I was disappointed, but not shattered. I did need the clothes, and even at six years old I really liked the feel of new things like underwear next to my skin. Maybe I was gay even then, but of course I didn't know anything about that.

The girls fared much the same as I did that Christmas, only they got pretty pink dresses, skirts and blouses, things like that. I still remember thinking how pretty they looked. I really wanted to be one of them; anything to be a bona fide member of this family. It was during that first year with the Adams' that I first tried cross-dressing. At the time there was nothing sexual or erotic about it, just a desperate desire to be closer to the girls who I fantasized were my sisters. Unfortunately Susan caught me trying on some of her things, after which she and her sisters had me do it for them quite often. I never did understand why, but I suspect it was just their way of humiliating me. Did that have anything to do with my turning out the way I am? Who the hell knows! But the joke was on them though: I wasn't the least humiliated, I absolutely loved it! I remember one time they got me all dolled up in a pink party dress with lots of lace and frills, fixed my hair, and took me out around the neighborhood. They must've done a pretty good job on me, because no one knew who I was.

We paraded around, saying hello to friends of the girls, some of whom wanted to know who their friend was. They simply answered one of their cousins, and that satisfied everyone. I was enjoying the attention, and I was enjoying looking attractive and being appreciated. At the time I never even considered the full significance of what I was doing; all I knew was that it felt good to be... well... "pretty!" I still wonder today what effect it had on me today. Or maybe what I am today I was then and that's why I enjoyed it. I suppose there aren't any answers for questions like that.

I did really well in school that first year, finishing the year with all A's. I brought my final report card home bursting with pride, having accomplished something, I thought, all on my own. The girls hadn't done so well, and my report just got them in more trouble. "Look at Jerry," Dad screamed, "just a foster kid, an orphan, and he did all right, so why can't you three?" I guess I should have taken that as praise, but it didn't feel like praise to me, and it got me in trouble with the three people I wanted most to like me, so I resolved never again to bring home a report card like that.

I was with the Adams' just under two years until they moved away, leaving me behind. From then until I was twelve I never stayed in one place more than six or eight months. I usually got along well with my foster parents, and I must say I was never mistreated, at least in the sense you usually hear about. I was never beaten excessively, never molested, never made to work for my keep. But I always had the feeling of not belonging. Maybe it was as much my imagination as anything, but I had built a wall around myself that a Sherman Tank couldn't penetrate. Then of course there were the social workers who, when taking me to a new foster home, lectured me on how I must be on my best behavior. After all, these nice people were good enough to take me in, so the least I could do was to give them no trouble.

At school I often heard the other boys talking about the ball team they were forming or joining. I wanted desperately to join too, but I had no equipment and never had the courage to ask my foster parents. Maybe that was my fault too, but I'd been conditioned to accept what was given and be grateful. Of course there were school plays and concerts, but what fun are they if you have no one to watch, no one to show off to? So I always found an excuse to get out of taking part. By that time I was pretty self conscious, thinking that my efforts could never measure up. After all, I was "just a foster kid."

Everything changed when I was twelve. I went to live with Jack and Mary Foster. They had no kids of their own, and they were thrilled at the prospect of having a twelve year old son. They were kind and gentle, even understanding at my reluctance to open my heart to them, showing patience that I'd never seen before. I remember laughing with them at their name, that now I was a foster child living with real foster people. Jack and Mary worked hard at getting close to me, and slowly I started letting down my guard. I suppose the feeling was much like what y'all felt when you met the Jenkins'. I think I was starting to love somebody, for the first time in my life. Jack loved all kinds of sports and got me started playing baseball and basketball. He took me to games in Atlanta, taught me the basics that most boys had learned long before they were twelve, bought me needed equipment, and in the second year I was with them, I made the school basketball team. Never in the history of that school was there a prouder kid, or a happier one. I was no star, but I was on the team, uniform and all! So what if I spent most of the time on the bench? I was on the team! I still remember almost choking to death one day during a game when the coach yelled, 'Wallace, you're on!' Such a simple thing, yet it was one of the biggest moments of my life!

I was completely at the mercy of the Fosters now, my guard completely gone, but then there was no need for guard with these people. I was secretly hoping they might some day adopt me, but as far as I know the subject was never discussed. No matter though, I had learned to live for the moment, and the moment just then was really great, everything I had imagined a home to be.

When I started to grow and mature, things started to change. Jack and Mary were still good to me, but they were more distant. I didn't realize it then, but they just couldn't deal with the idea of a teenager in their midst and were secretly asking Social Services for another child, perhaps a girl this time, ten or twelve years old. One night, shortly after my fourteenth birthday, Jack came into my room after I had gone to bed. He sat on the edge of the bed as he'd done many times before and started toying with my hair in a way that made me feel like a million. "Jerry," he said, "I hope the last two years have been happy ones for you."

"The happiest in my life," I answered. My whole body shuddered from pure pleasure of his touch as his loving hand wandered over my head and around my neck and shoulders.

"You're starting to grow up," he continued. "Just look at the way your body is developing!" He gently pulled the covers down to my waist and ran his hands over my upper body. I hadn't really noticed till then, but I had become quite muscular. I didn't know what was coming, but I knew whatever it was, it was going to be heavy. Of course I'd heard all the stories of foster children being taken advantage of, and the way Jack's hands were moving over my chest and arms, and all his talk of how handsome I'd become, I thought that's where we were heading. I decided then and there, if that's the price I had to pay for this loving father, that was okay with me. Maybe I was even wanting what I thought was coming, I really don't know. But I remember thinking about it, and I was ready. But I was mistaken.

"I think we've given you all we can," he went on. "Social services have a young boy, only eleven, that needs a home desperately, and we've agreed to take him starting next week." I was delighted at the prospect of a brother and told Jack so, but I was mistaken again. "You don't understand," he said. "We just can't handle two boys, and now that you're well adjusted and happy, it's time to let you spread your wings and make room for someone else. I'm gonna miss you. They'll be coming for you day after tomorrow to take you to your new home, but I hope you'll keep in touch".

I was stunned. "Right," I thought, "I'll send you a fucking bomb every fathers fucking day." I couldn't believe it! I wanted to beg and tell him I'd help out taking care of the new kid, but somehow I knew there was no use. I wanted to scream at him that I had made a commitment... an emotional one, that couldn't be so easily turned off; but the cynicism that I had placed on the back burner was back instantly, stronger than ever. I think in his own mind Jack thought he had done me a real good turn, but I'd had enough of family life. I've thought about him a lot and I've come to the conclusion that he needs help; or maybe I need to learn to be like Jack. It seems he could pour out all the love he had for someone, then turn it off like a switch when things got too intense, or too inconvenient. He seemed to have no concept at all of what a long term commitment was all about. Jack kept talking for quite a while, but I didn't hear him. I was busy laying my plans. I had no intention of going to any more foster homes. I was fourteen, Jack himself said I was maturing, I had hair on my balls, my voice was changing. Didn't that make me a man?

I didn't go to school next day. I left the house as usual, hid around the corner until Jack and Mary had both left the house, then went back and gathered my things. I didn't steal anything, didn't take even the things they'd given me except for some clothes and a back pack to put them in. I had a little money saved, so I took that and left for Atlanta. I didn't leave a note, knowing full well if I did I'd start to cry, and men don't cry, right?

I loved Atlanta, having been there often with Jack to ball games and other celebrations. But now, on my own, the city was a lot larger than I'd ever imagined. I don't know how they do it, but runaway teens always seem to find their way to the same area of large cities, and I was no exception. In no time at all I was in 'that' part of town, wandering aimlessly.

On my first night there, about 11 p.m, I went into a diner and spent the last of my money on fries and milk. I'd do just fine, I thought, though I had no idea where I was going to live or how I was going to eat. I thought I was pretty street wise, but in fact I knew nothing at all. So I sat at the table for a long time, thinking of ways to make money for food. It was June and the weather was warm so housing wasn't a problem, at least for the moment.

"You're new, aren't you?" a voice behind me said. I looked up to see a good looking youth, sixteen or seventeen, standing over me. The place was deserted, but he wanted to sit at my table, so I invited him. He handed me a burger which I accepted gratefully. He said his name was Mel, and I told him mine. "When did you get in?" he asked.

"Just this afternoon."

"Runaway, right?" I wondered how he knew, but I nodded in the affirmative.

"About out of money too, I'd say."

"How'd you know?"

"You ordered fries and milk. If you had lots of money, you'd a had more, and a coke to drink. I been here two years, and I've seen a lot of 'em come and go, and they all act the same. So what're you gonna do now?"

"I don't know, but I'll be all right."

"Yeah, right. No money, no place to stay, no food, but you'll be all right." I was getting pretty pissed off at this know-it-all, especially since he was right.

"I suppose you've got it all figured out, right?" I said to him.

"You bet I have. I told you, I been here two years. I can have you rolling in dough in no time, if you're interested." I was, and told him so, so Mel told me about life in the big city, about how I could make lots of money with a minimum of risk.

He described a life of crime, how we kids had little chance to make an honest living, but with his help I could soon be earning lots of money selling stolen goods, and with little risk to myself. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea but Mel convinced me that I had little choice; and so at his suggestion I teamed up with my new friend.

For the next three months, I was breaking into cars and stealing stereos, sneaking into the corners and closets of large stores and staying until after closing, then stealing anything I could carry and breaking out, even snatching the odd purse. But contrary to Mel's prediction I didn't get rich, or even have much fun. I didn't like stealing, especially from individuals. I could rationalize boosting things from big stores and businesses because they were insured anyway, but snatching a purse from some old lady just didn't feel right. But I had to eat, so I did whatever I had to.

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of my life of crime, we got caught. Mel and I had broken into a large home in the better district, but someone was home. As we snuck around looking for valuables, we heard someone on the stairs. I looked to Mel, waiting for instructions, and I got them all right. He pointed to the front of the house and motioned for me to go out the front door. Of course I never made it to the door, and while the man of the house was busy with me, Mel went out the back. Now I knew why he had wanted me along on his outings. I was to be the decoy while he made his escape. I was so terrified I was paralyzed, at least for a few minutes. Fortunately for me the man was home alone, so while he was trying to confine me and call the police, I wriggled free and got away. I must've run ten miles before I even slowed down, and my career as a thief was over.

I was soon back in the seedy neighborhood, wondering what I was going to do now. I had seen the young teens, boys and girls, standing around on the streets, but I had no idea what they were doing or why they were there. When I asked a guy named Craig, I found him all too anxious to tell me. He explained about how lots of men were willing to pay well for an hour or two of pleasure, and he told me in shocking detail just what those pleasures entailed. He offered to get me started, even offering to share his room until I got on my feet. And of course he instructed me on every aspect of his business.

"You don't expect me to do that, do you?" I said with shock. I don't think up to that point I'd given three minutes thought to sex in my entire life.

"Nope," he answered, "don't expect you to do anything, just trying to tell ya how it is on the streets, that's all."

"Well, thanks, but no thanks. I got more respect for myself than that. Ain't no strangers gonna paw over me."

"Suit yourself, but if you get hungry enough, you'll not be so fussy about who you share that precious dick of yours with. Believe me, with your looks you'll have no problems. Well, gotta go, my public awaits." He got up and left me to ponder what he had told me, and shudder at the thought of where he was going.

Two days later, having had nothing to eat, I knew that Craig had been right. I was far less difficult to please now, and again found myself on Magnolia Street. I'd gone into a public washroom and cleaned up, changed into a pair of shorts and a clean T-shirt, and tried to look as old as I could. Back on the street, I stashed my pack under a fire escape in an alley and presented myself on the street, standing half in a shadow as Craig had instructed. I couldn't have been there more than ten minutes when a car pulled up and a middle aged man motioned me to get in. My heart pounding like it was about to explode, I somehow got my shaking knees to carry me the ten feet to the car. I gritted my teeth and got in.

"You're new here, aren't you?" the man said. I said not exactly, figuring it would be better if he thought I knew the ropes.

"So, you looking for some fun?" he asked.

"Up to you. You're the customer."

"You're pretty young. Good looking though. I got twenty bucks, if you got an hour or so."

"Ok by me." Wow! I thought, Twenty bucks an hour, and all I have to do is let him paw and slobber over me a little. We drove a few blocks and parked in an alley behind an old warehouse where my benefactor was running his hands up my bare legs almost before the car had come to rest. I drew away from him, remembering another of Craig's instructions. "Money first," I said weakly. I had never been so terrified in my life, and in spite of myself, I was shaking. The man, whose name I never knew, handed me the twenty, and again was pawing my legs.

The next hour was about what you'd expect. I did very little except wish I was on the moon while my suitor played, pawed, sucked, slobbered, all the time repeating what a delicious young fag I was, how he wanted to be a regular customer, how he'd show me such a good time I'd let him do it for free next time. I endured, resolving never to do this again, vowing to die first before I'd submit to such indignities again. He eventually brought me to orgasm, my first ever. It wasn't particularly pleasant, just a surprise. I'd heard about 'coming', but this was not my idea of a good time, and I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.

He dropped me without another word on the same corner where he'd picked me up. I got out and practically ran to an all night restaurant where I spent most of the twenty dollars on everything on the menu. An hour later I surprised myself by again standing on the street, and again it wasn't long before I was getting in a car. As I settled in the front seat I was asking myself what the hell I was doing there, but it was too late now, I thought, and I even managed to participate a little. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all, I thought.

For the first few days, all my business was done in cars. For the most part it was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. I participated very little, having to spend all my energy it seemed enduring what my tricks were doing to me. It was humiliating and embarrassing; but it also put food in my belly. The first time I found myself in a hotel room was quite a different experience. I'd been picked up by a young man, about twenty. He was a college student I think. He had read a lot and experienced little. Tom found me irresistible and almost wrecked the car getting us back to his motel on the edge of town. I had never before undressed completely, or even come close; but Tom understood that because he was pretty modest himself. So we learned from each other. I still wasn't ready to admit it, still didn't know the significance; but I participated that night. I wanted to, and I wanted Tom. I found him attractive too. There was very little we didn't do that night, each of us completely out of control with desire.

Of course I had fallen in love and wanted to see Tom again, maybe even live with him. But Tom had a life that didn't include runaway gay lovers, so I was alone again. But I learned from Tom. I learned that if I enjoyed what I was doing I could give more pleasure, and in so doing I could make more money. I also learned something else, though I didn't know it yet. If I had ever heard the word or known what it meant, I would have known without any shadow of a doubt: I was a homosexual!

Two weeks later, I was beaten up by a trick. It wasn't anything I'd done, or even that he was mad, he just got off on beating up kids. We had started on a pretty average session in his hotel room when he wanted to tie me to the bed. I could see no harm in it, since he'd been more than kind up to that point, so I consented. In no time he had my arms and legs tied to the four corners of the bed, and after his sexual desires were satisfied, he started punching me from one end to the other and beating me with his belt. He knocked out a tooth, blackened both eyes, then he decided it would be good to rape me.

He somehow managed to turn me over without ever releasing more than one limb at a time, and I was introduced to another of life's little pleasures, though I can't say I enjoyed it very much. This guy was well endowed, and he had a firm belief that pleasure is born out of pain. If that were true he should've had plenty of pleasure that day, because when he came smashing into my virgin butt, I felt as if my entire body was being split in two. Before untying me, this guy told me there were no hard feelings, that he was sorry if he'd scared me, but no harm done, right? He seemed to think if he paid me, which he did, that all would be forgiven, and we'd do the same thing again, no questions asked. Right.

I made several friends after that, determining that it wasn't good to be alone in what I'd discovered was a real jungle. Trouble was, each time I made a friend he turned up dead, or just plain disappeared. Drugs were rampant on the streets; each night the guys would spend most of what they made on drugs, get high, wake up hurting and broke, then back on the streets for more. I was terrified of drugs, and thank God I witnessed what they could really do before I'd had a chance to try for myself. I managed to get by with one or two nights a week hustling, spending the rest of the time looking for work, or a place to stay, or just staying out of sight and out of danger.

Winter got a little tough, and I found myself renting a room in a fleabag hotel, which of course took more of my money, which of course required me to be on the street more. By now I'd gotten to not mind, in fact I had little feeling about it at all; it was just what I did for a living. I still didn't think about sexuality or where I fit in the picture. To me, that was an entirely different subject that had nothing to do with my peddling my body to any and all comers.

In January I met Scott, two years older than me but less experienced, if that's possible. He had run away from home just after Christmas and had just heard of this 'business', and decided it was better than stealing which is how he'd been getting by till now. I'm not sure why, but I heard myself inviting Scott to stay with me until he got established. Scott accepted readily, saying he'd make sure I didn't regret my kindness. He did, too. The first night we were together Scott wasted no time getting to know me really well. I woke up in the middle of the night in much the same situation as you two in the camp. At first I resisted, but Scott convinced me I should at least try it and when I did, I found I was enjoying myself. Turned out Scott was gay, as gay as a three dollar bill, and he found me extremely attractive. Scott repaid his debt many times that winter, though I doubt that he considered it much of a chore. For the first time in my life, other than playing with myself as a small boy, I realized that sex could be enjoyable. I enjoyed being with Scott, maybe even loved him in a way, and he made me see what I was and helped me face what I was doing, teaching me how to enjoy those things, not just endure them.

I was just getting to think Scott and I would be together for a long time when he discovered how easy it was to get drugs, and in no time he was strung out so bad he didn't know where he was most of the time. I didn't kick him out, I just left him there. It was spring again, and I didn't need a place in the warm weather.

I wanted to quit after that, but I still hadn't found any other way to make a living so I carried on, trying to be more careful. As winter approached again I met Henry, who thought I was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. By now I'd been beaten up again by some of the other hustlers who said I was under-charging and making them look bad. I tried to tell them I didn't know about any code of ethics or schedule of fees, but they were firm believers that experience is the best teacher; so my rates went up, the hard way. Henry was about thirty-five, a bachelor, and cheerfully paid $100 a night for my favors. He wanted me to move in with him, and I decided that wouldn't be too bad. He had a nice apartment in a quiet part of town, seemed nice, and almost attractive in a way I couldn't explain. We spent the first few weeks doing just fine, though I think Henry got the best of the bargain; now he had all the sex he wanted, and free at that. I got no money from Henry, so it wasn't long before I was turning the odd trick for pocket money.

When he found out, toward spring, that I'd been working the streets again he was furious, not that I'd cheated on him, but because I hadn't given him part of the take. "It costs money to keep you, you fuckin' little fruit," he yelled, "and all the time you been peddling your ass on the street and keeping the money. I got a good mind to kick you out!"

"You don't need to," I yelled back, "I'm outa here." And I left. A good thing too, because two weeks later he was found dead at the bottom of a river. Seems there was a faggot loose in Atlanta who liked to kill his lovers after he finished with them.

About the time I was thinking of leaving Atlanta, but not knowing where to go, I met Josh. He was a pimp, drove a big Cadillac with dark windows; he was black, and he had a string of whores, both black and white, male and female, all over Atlanta. I wanted no part of him or his stable, but he said I really had no choice. "Somebody's gonna get you," he said, "and ask some of my girls or boys, and you'll find I take care of my people." I did ask, and I was told that most hookers would kill to get into Josh's stable, and if I had a chance I should go for it. I'd been arrested a couple times, and spent a week in jail while they tried to decide what to do with me. When they couldn't decide, they just let me go, but I didn't want that to happen again. So I joined Josh's little group, and it looked like my luck was beginning to change.

Josh gave us a place to stay; he taught us safe sex and safety on the streets; he taught us how to avoid the police and bailed us out when we got caught; he protected us from other factions like gangs, kinky perverts like the one who'd beaten me up and, in some cases, our parents. His fee for all this care and protection? We were expected to bring in a minimum of five hundred dollars a week each, of which he got four hundred. And of course there were Josh's own physical needs: He had the most insatiable appetite, and the kinkiest desires, of anyone I've ever met, and at one time or another each of us in his stable was given the honor of satisfying his cravings. To Josh we were just possessions for his enjoyment, but for the first time in quite a while I had a level of security so I went along with him, reasoning that after all it was no different than what I was doing with strangers. Up to this point I had taken no safety precautions at all. I was pretty well unaware of the dangers of being intimate with anyone and everyone, but Josh changed all that. By the time I'd been with him a short time I knew as much about such things as most doctors, I think.

I learned a lot from Josh and would have been content to stay with him, but Josh got himself into a gang war and got himself killed. Those of us in his stable who had any brains got out of Atlanta, and fast! But I had learned what I needed to know; I had learned how to take care of myself, and how important it was to cover my behind, and to depend on no one, 'cause no one was dependable.

I went to Miami, and there I began to see first hand some of the pleasures of our profession, venereal disease. It seemed that every time I made a new friend, or met a new lover, he'd soon come down with one disease or another and he'd be gone. When I was seventeen I bumped into a man who was determined to take me home and make me his son. He was about forty and had a fifteen year old son of his own, and he was convinced we'd be good for each other. He knew what I'd been doing, but he knew, he said, that I was just doing those things out of necessity and that, given the chance, I could be a real upstanding citizen. It might have worked out too, except that his son, Phillip, wanted me for his own private lover, not as a brother.

Phillip and I got on well for a few months. He was your average teenager, doing average in school, into all the sports, and seemed really happy to have me there. He knew all about my background and joined with his father readily in trying to rehabilitate me. There were plans to get me enrolled in school, with Phillip telling all his friends proudly about his new brother. We shared a room, but with separate beds. Both Phillip and I liked the idea of sharing a room, and once more I really got into this family thing. My new brother and I became best friends overnight, and in no time we were sharing our deepest secrets. Phillip showed no signs of being gay, and that was fine with me; I had decided that wasn't for me either, with all the problems that came with it, I opted for the normal life that had been offered me. I guess I still didn't understand that being gay is not something I could choose or reject as I saw fit. In many ways I guess I associated what I'd been doing with being gay, as if they came together as a package.

I'd been with the Jordans about four months when I woke up about three a.m. with Phillip in my bed. He was naked, and was running his hands over me, obviously very much aroused and trying to arouse me. To my embarrassment, he was succeeding! I resisted as gently as I could, telling him that I couldn't do that, that I'd decided I wasn't gay after all, that his father was right and now that I didn't have to, I was going to go straight, as it were. "Forget it, Phil," I told him, "you have no idea what you're getting into, and believe me, you don't want to go through what I've been through." Phil went back to his own bed and I thought the incident was over, but I was wrong.

For the next few weeks it seemed every time I went into our bedroom Phil was there, playing with himself, reading gay magazines, or prancing around naked. He was very obviously trying to drive me crazy with desire, and he was succeeding, in a way. He wasn't bad looking, and by that time I knew deep down that, for whatever reason, I was attracted to boys more than girls. Phil bided his time, continuing his suggestive activities, talking constantly of sex and how nice it was, and how he liked messing around, and how it did no one any harm.

About two months after the first incident I woke up again with company in my bed. "I can't stand it any longer," he told me, "I gotta have you, and I gotta have you tonight." His hands were all over me, and in spite of myself I was quickly getting to the point where I could no longer resist him. I had no intention of doing anything with Phil though, and I tried to fight him off. Of course we made a fair bit of noise and before I knew it, the room light came on and Phillip's father was standing in the doorway.

"I can't believe you'd do this," he said. "I take you in off the street, give you a home, trust you with my own son, and this is the result." I looked at him helplessly, then at Phillip, who was suddenly very modest, covering himself with my pillow as he retreated to his own bed. "Thanks for coming in, Dad," he said, "I knew you wouldn't believe me, but now you've seen for yourself." It didn't seem to occur to either of them that Phil was in my bed, not the other way round, and that his pajamas were on his bed, not mine, or that it was Phillip who was naked, while I still had my pajamas on. I didn't argue though, because I knew there was little point. So I just got dressed and left. As I was going out the door I turned and said to Phillip, "Thanks, brother. I may be a faggot, but I'm not a scum bag, and I've never betrayed a trust in my life. Maybe with me gone, your father will find a little love slave for you that'll be more cooperative." I hated him for what he'd done to me, but I hated him more for having someone who trusted and believed him in spite of the evidence. That was something I never had, till I met you guys.

That's when I moved to Daytona, and the rest you know. I'd learned to be careful and to take care of myself. I was old enough and had had enough experiences that I knew what I wanted, so I started working the streets again, but only until I got a start. I found I'd developed a knack for knowing when I was with important people, and I started using that; not to blackmail or anything threatening, but I traded favors, and clawed my way up to where I was when I met you guys. I also admitted, finally, that I really was gay, and I found that after facing it and living my life accordingly it was a lot easier living with myself. I finally realized that it wasn't a curse, in spite of what most people think. It is quite simply the way I am.

I met a man on the street who wanted to take me to a party. It was a fairly formal do, so this guy bought me some clothes and got me all fixed up the day before. It was a gay affair, but with a much higher class of people than I was used to dealing with. I found I was really enjoying myself, and that's when I got the idea for the escort service. After that I worked the streets feverishly until I had earned enough money to get a start, then I started being more selective about my clients and activities. I had business cards printed and was on my way. I was still only a body for sale and I knew it, but once I started dealing with higher quality people I found it was much more pleasant. As you have already found out, lots of these people are as hungry for affection as they are for raw sex, and I gradually got to the point of providing what they wanted in a way that was safer and more enjoyable for both of us. For the first time since that first night in Atlanta I had clients who respected me, so gradually I started to respect myself. But still there was something missing. I needed someone to love, who would love me back and accept me for who and what I am. That's where you two came in, and why today I'd gladly give my life for y'all. It's also why as long as we're together, I'll never let you forget your roots. Sure it's tough, but that's not their fault really, that's the way they were brought up. They think what you're doing is wrong and dangerous, sick and perverted, and they just want to protect y'all.

And all those friends we met this month. I never had what I can really call a friend. Most of the ones I had on the streets were friends as long as I could help them in some way, but when I needed help I was alone again. We never had memories to share, never stayed together long enough to share in any amount of experience, so our friendships were always for convenience, not because we just plain liked each other.

Dan and Charlie sat quietly in the car as it rolled along slowly, somewhere in the backwoods near Truro, Nova Scotia, living in their minds the years that Jerry had been alone. Dan thought of what he'd told them about Phillip, then of his own experience in the camp, and he knew it was things like that that made him and Charlie so devoted to each other. He also knew that was probably one of the big reasons Jerry'd been attracted to them. "Jerry," Dan said almost inaudibly, "Thanks for telling us. And we thought we had it rough."

"You did," Jerry answered, "You had to give up what I never had, and that must've been pretty hard. I just don't want to ever hear you say you wish you didn't have a family, 'cause whatever happens now, y'all had a happy childhood, or at least a secure one. You know where you came from and you have a million happy memories, and no one can ever take that from you, not ever! No matter what happens you've had a family that loves you. Even your father," he said to Charlie, "is acting the way he is out of love. You're doing things, living a life that to him is totally degrading and inhuman, and he wants more for you. But don't ever forget he brought you up, and you left him, not the other way round. You're the person you are today, at least in part, because of your father. And I for one think the way you are is just fine."

"We know that now, Jerry," Charlie said, "and we can't give you back those years, but I hope you know you have a family now, and we love you as much as two brothers ever could."

"I know," Jerry said, "And now that I see true love, it's pretty easy to see the difference."

When they boys got back to the house, Jerry took Charlie's hand as he started to get out. "Wait just a minute, Charlie." he said, "We'll be in in a sec, Dan." Dan wasn't sure what was going on, but he had a good idea.

"Hi, Mom, Dad." Dan said listlessly as he walked into the kitchen.

"Hi, son," they both answered. "Where are Jerry and Charlie?" Mom wanted to know.

"Out in the car. Jerry wanted to talk to Charlie and I wasn't included. Maybe they're planning to kidnap me." he said with a half-hearted grin.

"I'm glad they're not here." his father said, "I wanted to talk to you."

"What about?"

"What everyone in this house is talking about. You, Son! And where you're gonna live for the next few years, and your plans for the future."

Clarke Edwards was not one to speak his mind where personal feelings were involved; not was he one to be comfortable with the prospect that his son was in love with another male. But he was trying his best, and on the whole dealing rather well with it. So far in this latest situation he had kept his silence until now.

"Dad," Dan started, "I..."

"Let me talk, ok Dan?"

"Yes, sir. I just wanted to explain..."

"You don't need to explain. You mom has told me all about it, and she told me it was time I got involved, and I agree. She didn't tell me WHAT to say, but she told me to say something, so I guess it's time to say what's on my mind."

"But Dad, you don't..."

"Please, Dan, let me have my say. This isn't easy for me."

"OK, Dad, sorry."

"Dan, I can't even begin to understand what you see in Charlie... well at least not the way you see him. I've always liked him, but... well you know what I mean."

Dan nodded that he did.

"What I wanted to say is, given the situation you're in, then you have a responsibility to Charlie. You two must be pretty committed to each other for you to take off the way you did. And now you've come to a big decision and I want you to know that we're behind you, no matter what you decide."

"Sounds like you think I should go back." Dan observed.

"I'm not saying that. I'm not trying to influence you, just trying to help you through it."

"What is you opinion?"

"My opinion is not important."

"It is to me, Dad. Please tell me what you think."

Clarke Edwards sat and looked at his son. He had always regarded Dan as the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen, and it was no different now. "What I think," he said with a lump in his throat, "is that I'm not ready to lose my fishing buddy. I'm not ready to put you out on your own. I'm not ready to enjoy the empty nest syndrome. But I don't think I'll ever be ready for those things. I don't care if you're here for another ten years, it'll still hurt like hell when you finally say good-bye.."

"But what about Charlie?" Dan persisted, "What am I gonna do about Charlie?"

"Again, son, my OPINION, and mine only. I think you should forget being in love with him, go back to being good friends, look out for each other, but find yourself a nice girl, go to dances and proms, ball games, picnics. Go to college, get married, and have beautiful children. But you're not gonna do that are you?"

"No sir, I'm not, I can't!"

"Then what you have to do is consider your commitment to him. Love him; but look at the WHOLE picture. Imagine yourself ten years from now. What can you do now to enhance things then? And you have the right to expect the same from him. I will not tell you what to do and neither will your mother, but you need to know, whatever you decide, we're behind you."

"Thanks, Dad," Dan said as he hugged his father. The hug felt so good he didn't want to ever let go. "I'm no closer to a decision than I ever was, but you've given me a lot more to think about."

"What's up, Jer?" Charlie asked nervously.

"Same old same old." Jerry answered. "I wanted to know what your plans are concerning Dan. I think you should lighten up on him a little."

"Me lighten up? But HE's the one planning to break us up."

"He hasn't said anything about breaking up, Charlie. But you're making him feel like an asshole because he's being pulled two different ways. You seem to think it's your way or NO way, and that just isn't true."

"I'm just afraid he's gonna make a decision that he'll regret."

"He'll regret it no matter what he does. There isn't any perfect solution. But you need to know that he'll be going back with us no matter what he decides, unless you give him your blessing."

Charlie was astonished. "You want me to tell him to stay?" he demanded.

"I didn't say that, Charlie. Damn, you can be so thick sometimes! What I said was, Dan needs to hear you say that you're behind him no matter what he decides. He needs to know he's not making a choice between his parents and you. You have no right to demand that he make a choice like that."

"But I don't want to lose him. I love him, Jer."

"Do you, Charlie? Do you really love him?"

"More than life!" Charlie said definitely.

Jerry sat quietly for a few minutes, stroking Charlie's hair, kneading his hands. "You love Dan more than life, but NOT more than yourself. The only acceptable solution for you is to have Dan at your beck and call. You don't love him enough to give up your regular romps in the hay, or his constant companionship. You don't love him enough to consider what's best for DAN! Think about it, Charlie! I never dreamed that I'd be telling YOU about love, but it seems your idea of just what love is, is rather one-sided."

"You think I'm being selfish wanting to be with my lover?"

"Kinda looks that way."

"What about him? Isn't he being selfish wanting to come home?"

"Partly, but not entirely. Did you see how his mother looks at him? The hurt in her eyes glows like a candle! He's breaking her heart, and he knows it."

"Besides," Jerry went on, "you could solve the whole thing by staying here yourself."

"I can't, Jerry! My father..."

"Fuck your father! I heard the Edwards' with my own ears say you'd be welcome here."

"I couldn't do that! Being in this town, only a few blocks from where I grew up..."

"You mean you WON'T do it! Isn't that being selfish?"

"What about you? I thought we were a team. You've already said there's no way you could live here, or even be happy here. Is it right for both of us to just say thanks for the memories and leave you?"

"C'mon, Charlie, this is me! I guess maybe next to Dan I know you about as well as anyone, and I know you care for me, but that wouldn't stop you from leaving if you really wanted to. I told you that very first night I would never come between you and Dan, and I meant it. Then and now."

Out of arguments now, Charlie fell silent. After a long pause he asked in desperation, "So what can I do? What would you do?"

"I dunno, Charlie. I've never been in a situation even close to this one. But we did agree that if Dan wanted to come back home we'd stand by his decision. And since that he's had a pretty terrifying experience. But I'm not gonna hold you to what we agreed, as long as you'll promise me that you'll think about it, long and hard. Don't simply reject the idea of moving in with the Edwards' or finding some other way to stay here. And tell Dan that you love him, ya big dope! He needs to hear it! He needs to know you're there for him no matter what he does."

Jerry threw his arms around Charlie and kissed him, long and slow and deep. "I love you two crazy Canucks so much," he whispered, "so much I know you're better off back here and I'll do everything I can to support y'all if that's what you decide, ok?"

"I love you too, Jerry," Charlie said, his voice breaking again. "I promise I'll talk to Dan tonight."

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