II. Montreal and Boston

Dear Mom and Dad,

Please don't worry about me. I've decided to leave home, at least for a while. It's nothing you've done, and I really wish I could do this without hurting you, but there just doesn't seem to be any other way. You'll find out about this anyway from the talk around town, so you might as well hear it from me directly. I have discovered that I am in love with Charlie. You will probably find this hard to understand, but Charlie and I, well, we want to be together, in a way that we can't be and still live at home. So to save you any embarrassment, and to avoid the persecution that would come to us if we stayed in school, we're going away until everyone gets used to the idea. I don't know how it happened or why, I didn't even know such things existed, but it's happened.

Please don't try to follow me or bring me back, cause I'll just run away again. You have always taught me how to take care of myself so you know I'll be fine, so I'm asking you to please trust me. I wish there were some other way, but there's none that I can find. I'm really sorry, Mom and Dad. I wanted so much to make you proud some day, but this seems to be out of my control. Please don't hate me. I will be calling to let you know we are all right.

I love you.....


That was the note that Dan left in the mailbox. Charlie's was about the same except, of course, it was addressed to his Dad only. Since his mother died he had been pretty much on his own so he didn't feel that his Dad would try to stop him, or even care, but Dan insisted that he leave a note anyway. Since the boys weren't expected home until Monday night, they would be far away before anyone started looking for them.

Sunday morning about seven o'clock, after spending the night in the bus station, the two boys were on a bus bound for Montreal. They had agreed that Montreal made more sense than Boston. Dan hoped to get this money out of the bank, and of course any attempts to trace them would be thrown off once the boys headed south. They had expected some trouble getting a bus ticket, but there had been none at all. About ten that night the bus arrived in Montreal. Dan and Charlie had spent the day chattering like two school girls about all the fun they were going to have, but when they got off the bus it was quite a different story. It had started to rain, a cold autumn rain mixed with snow, and they were in a large city where neither of them had ever been before with no place to go. They had planned to spend the night in the bus station, but about two a.m. they were shooed out. So they wandered around for several hours until they found a pile of cardboard boxes in an alley, where they made themselves a little shelter and curled up for some sleep.

They snuggled together for warmth and talked awhile about how great it was to be independent, even though it didn't feel that great just now. Mostly, though, the talk was to reassure each other that things would be all right. The truth is they were cold, hungry, and scared.

About eight a.m. they were awakened by the sounds of traffic. When they got up and started walking around, they found that the city had been transformed into a living thing. They found a restaurant and went in for a good breakfast. Their bellies full, they decided to start to look for a better place to spend the night. They were cold and wet and they felt incredibly dirty, so they found the railroad station and got cleaned up as best they could in the public washroom they knew would be there.

By early afternoon Dan had mustered enough courage to approach a bank. After some discussion about how to handle the situation, they had agreed that he would try for $150 first. They had reasoned that if the amount wasn't too high they might not attract too much attention, and they just might get away with it. The terrified pair marched boldly in, filled out the withdrawal slip, and Dan handed it to a teller. The man said something to Dan in French; Dan replied that he spoke only English and passed a picture id card from school through the wicket. The teller eyed him curiously, said something else in French, then counted out the money and passed the bills and the id back. Elated at how easy it had been, the excited teens determined to find another branch in the morning and repeat the whole process.

As they chatted excitedly over a hamburger, they laid a plan to set out for Boston in the morning after their visit to the bank. Charlie's interest in Geography was paying off now, because he could read maps better than most motorists. They plotted their course, then left the diner to find a warmer place to spend the night. Eventually the boys found the YMCA, and with a fair degree of nervousness they went in. They told the desk clerk they were brothers from Toronto, and that they were on their way home from visiting an aunt in Nova Scotia. He seemed to have no problem with that and indifferently gave them a room on the third floor.

When they got in their room, which was little more than a small box with one three-quarter size bed, the boys both sighed a big sigh of relief. "Fuck those guys! I'd rather be with you anyway," exclaimed Dan as he dropped his pack and gave Charlie a big hug. Sixteen years of hetero conditioning caused Charlie to start to push him away, but then he remembered who and what he was, and he hugged Dan back.

"You said it!" Charlie agreed. "We've got $450 now, and another $350 tomorrow, then we're on our way. That should last us quite a while, and in the meantime I can get a job and you can go back to school if you want to."

"No way!" Dan retorted. "I just got out of that rat race, and I'm not going back. Besides, I'll be sixteen in another four months, then I can get a job too."

The two were both exhausted from the tension of all that had happened and from the lack of sleep the night before, so they decided to go to bed early.

"Charlie?" that little boy voice was back again.

"Watcha want, buddy?"

"Do queers kiss... you know, the way guys and girls do?"

"I don't know, Dan. Remember, I've only been one two days, same as you. Why?"

"Because I want to kiss you."

"Okay, go ahead, if it'll make you feel better."

Charlie found the idea somewhat revolting, but he thought Dan was missing his mother or something. Charlie was still quite envious of him, and all boys, who had a loving mother to tuck them in. He didn't realize or even think of the ppssibility that when boys were as old as they were they probably didn't get kissed or tucked in anyway. He only knew there was an aching void in his heart for more tenderness, more caring, than he was getting. And now he was getting it, from a boy! His best friend! He didn't understand it, but Charlie wasn't about to turn his back from anything that felt this good.

After Charlie's answer, Dan reached over and gave him a short peck on the lips. "You silly little faggot," Charlie laughed, "that's not a kiss. THIS is a kiss!" And with that, the two boys were locked in an embrace, their lips together in a long, passionate, lingering kiss. Dan felt Charlie's tongue gently probing his lips, then entering. He followed suit with the result that the kiss lasted longer than it would have otherwise. They both discovered that they were deploying more passion and skill than they had realized they possessed. Charlie'd had only had one serious girl friend, and had not done a lot of experimenting with her, and Dan had never had more than the odd date. At first Dan was limp with surprise, but before Charlie even thought of releasing him he was responding like a veteran. I guess some things just come naturally regardless of sex, Charlie thought to himself. The kiss was initially intended to be sort of a joke, but it developed into much more than that. Truth was, they had discovered that they loved each other, not as best friends as they had thought, but much, much more.

"Where did you learn that?" Dan asked with amazement.

"From a girl I used to know." Charlie lied. The truth was he had learned it from books he had read. "But I never had a kiss as sweet as that one," he added.

"Me too!" Dan answered, as his lips came down on Charlie's again. Before long their kissing had led to more serious intimacies again, their inhibitions and lifetime conditioning melting away like so many snowflakes on a hot July day. There had been no intimacy, no touching, no hint of such things since they'd left the camp. But now it was time to savor each other as never before.

The clothes came off slowly and gently, each undressing the other. Their hands and eyes explored ever square inch, every nook and cranny, every morsel of the other. Charlie kissed Dan's left nipple, and when Dan responded with a sigh of pleasure, he suckled it. Dan ran his tongue around Charlie's neck, up to his ears, back to his throat where he nibbled gently. Eventually Charlie worked his way around on the bed till they were in the 69 position, where he was once again staring into the single eye of that beautiful love probe that only two days ago had been alien to him. Now he wanted to explore it thoroughly and he did; with his eyes, his fingers, his tongue and finally his lips.

Neither boy was circumcised, in fact at that time they had never heard of the practice. It was common to cut boys in central Canada, but on the east coast it was seldom done routinely. Perhaps the people there know something that the rest of us can learn.

After they had finished their lovemaking, if that's what they called it when two boys in love are intimate, they settled down to sleep, holding each other contentedly in their arms. Neither boy moved a muscle until about nine a.m. when the street noises from outside and the traffic in the hall outside their room woke them up.

After they'd had a shower and put on clean clothes the boys went out into the street. First item on the agenda was to find another bank. They had fared so well yesterday they decided to withdraw all that was left so they could be on their way. They thought that yesterday's success was due partly to the language barrier, so they carefully chose a teller that they thought looked French, whatever 'looking French' meant. But today they weren't so lucky. The teller they chose spoke fluent English and used her skill to explain that she couldn't give them that much money without first checking the home bank, especially since Dan had made a substantial withdrawal only yesterday. Dan argued that it was his money and he had rights, but the patient teller reminded him that he was under age and that she really should report his attempt to the authorities. "Message received," he said meekly, and the two boys made their hasty retreat.

Dan was furious. "My own money," he complained, "and I can't get it just 'cause I'm a kid!" He wanted to try again, to make a scene if necessary; Charlie pointed out that it wasn't a real good idea, so instead they looked for a place to have breakfast. They found a restaurant and filled their bellies. As they were eating, they struck up a conversation with a university student and got directions out of town. They told him they were from Burlington, Vermont, and had got separated from a hockey team they were traveling with. His eyes said he didn't believe the story, but he wrote down the bus directions for them anyway, then left for class. After he was gone, Dan and Charlie discussed the bank situation again and finally agreed that the best course of action was no action. Their breakfast finished, the boys each bought a postcard and mailed it home, telling their parents again that they were fine and would call soon. Dan wanted to call now and Charlie encouraged him, but he decided he really didn't have the courage.

Two hours later two pretty nervous boys were on the open highway with their thumbs up. Before long an older man and his wife picked them up. He said he was going to Plaatsburg, New York, but he wasn't sure he could take the boys across the border. Dan gave him the same hockey story, but they said they were from Montreal and had missed the team bus. That got them across the border with no problem and they were home free, no more problems, or so they believed. They worked their way down the highways, avoiding the major highways until they got into New Hampshire. It was a crisp November day with the sun shining brightly. As they waited on the side of the road for a drive to come along the boys cavorted about, laughing and joking, wrestling and tumbling into ditches. They were just two boys alone in the world together, reveling in each other's company just as they'd been doing for ten years.

By evening they were in a small town not far from Manchester, N.H. They chose a small motel that looked like there would be no questions about two boys so young alone on the road, and they were right. They checked in and cleaned up, then went out to a nearby burger joint for supper. Only then did they realize they hadn't had any lunch. They ate heartily, then wandered about the town taking in the sights. They soon discovered that in late fall, in a small New England town in the evening, there really were no sights. By eight it was getting quite cold, so they went back to the motel to watch some TV and get a good night's sleep.

As Charlie was sitting on the side of the bed, Dan started getting undressed. For the first time since their newly discovered love affair, he took in the absolute beauty of Dan's young body as he slowly revealed it. His sweatshirt came off over his head revealing his still hairless armpits. His back and arm muscles rippled under their still boylike skin as he squirmed out of the T-shirt that had been concealing them. His arms were still brown up to halfway above the elbows, evidence of the T-shirt he'd worn all summer. The rest of his body was almost pure white in the low light of the motel room. The jeans and socks came off in a unit, revealing his flat muscular, but still immature belly. As Charlie drank in the sight of this lovely body before him, with the pure white shorts bulging at the groin, he could feel a stirring in his own groin. At that moment he was more a guardian than a lover, content merely to be a part of Dan's life and, at least in his own mind, protector of it. Just then Dan noticed Charlie watching him.

"Watcha lookin' at?" he demanded good naturedly.

"Just about the handsomest piece of shit I've ever seen," Charlie responded. With that Dan jumped on him, their bodies rolling and twisting in boyish frolic, wrestling and jabbing until they were both too weak with exhaustion and laughter to continue. Dan lay full out on top of the bed while Charlie stripped to his shorts. He noticed that Dan was watching him in the same way, so he went into a mock strip-tease act, trying to be sexy for him. Dan watched quietly, a look of appreciation in his eyes. They were starting to feel more comfortable now, and soon they were discussing Dan's extensive research as they lay together in each other's arms.

He told Charlie that he'd begun wondering before he was twelve, and set to work trying to analyze his feelings. When he first heard the word 'homosexual,' he had asked his father about it and had received a thorough, albeit slightly biased, explanation. But remember, this was 1962! A lot has happened between then and now. Something his father had said, he couldn't even remember what, had flashed lights and alarm bells in the young boy's mind. Something had caused Dan to relate, to need to know more. So he had spent time in the library. He wrote anonymous letters to teen "Dear Abby" columns. He even became penpals with two gay teenagers in Europe. Well, they weren't called gay then, but they were nonetheless. He gathered all this information and analyzed it, then came to the conclusion that he still didn't know, that there was really only one way to find out.

"Promise you won't laugh if I show you something?" he offered.

"Would I laugh?" Charlie chuckled.

"You might. Or get mad. I don't think I could stand it if you laughed at me." Dan had become so serious, Charlie knew he was about to see something really important, at least to Dan. He also knew if he didn't promise, he wouldn't see it at all. After he had made his promise, Dan hopped out of bed and rummaged through his pack.

"You remember all the times you laughed at me keeping a log?"

"Uh-huh. I also remember busting with curiosity about what was in them. If you hadn't been my best friend I might very well have tried to see 'em when you weren't around; but I never did."

"Well, you're gonna see 'em tonight; at least part of 'em."

"You brought them with you?"

"Course I did! These are the documentation of my life, from the time I was eight!"

Dan was rustling through pages in an old scribbler, searching for a certain entry. When he found it, he passed the book to Charlie. "You won't remember this," he said, "But just read it. It'll explain some of my feelings better than I can tell them."

Charlie took the tattered notebook. First thing he noticed was the flawless handwriting. He knew Dan to be neat and tidy, but this was unbelievable for a young boy! Tentatively at first, he began to read.

May 23, 1962

It happened again today. I feel sort of guilty because of the circumstances, but I don't seem to be able to help myself. I went over to Charlie's this afternoon, just to be with him. I haven't seen him much lately, what with his mom's death, the funeral, and all the out of town visitors he's had. When I got there Charlie was lying on his back in the backyard, staring straight up at the sky. Somehow it seemed as thought maybe he was looking up at his mom or somthing, or maybe looking up wishing he could see her, or maybe be with her. I almost started to cry when I saw him, he looked so small and alone. My big brother was falling apart, and I couldn't do anything to stop it!

He didn't hear me come up, didn't even know I was there until I was standing over him. When he looked at me, I saw the expression on his face change. At first I didn't understand it until I realized he was looking up the legs of my shorts. Only then I remembered that it was a warm day, and I had worn my warm weather underwear - boxer shorts! Charlie was staring at... at me!

I started to move away when I realized what was happening, but I didn't. I told myself there was no need for him to look at me like that, because there were lots of times in the locker rooms, swimming pools, and just dressing and undressing around home when he could see all there was to see. But that 'electricity' had happened again, causing me to freeze, helpless, where I stood.

I wanted desperately to take away Charlie's hurt, which is why I had gone over in the first place. But at that moment, standing over him like I was, I could feel his eyes. I forgot all about his hurt, his grief. I wanted his hands to be where his eyes were. I guess I must be going crazy, because it gets harder and harder to keep from hugging him, touching him, doing some of the things I've read about with him. But as hard as it is, I won't. I can never do those things with Charlie because Charlie isn't that way. I couldn't bear to not see him or be with him, so I'll just have to keep those things to myself. I love you, Charlie, more than I'll ever love anyone!

I know I'll cry myself to sleep tonight just like I've done every night for the past two weeks. But tonight it'll be different. Tonight I'll be crying for Charlie, sharing his hurt, and also crying because I can't be what I want to be with him. I guess maybe I am going crazy. If only one of us was a girl...

Charlie was taken aback by what he'd read. Not only was he somewhat touched by Dan's empathy of his pain, but he was astonished at his insight, his awareness of what had happened. "Dan," he said quietly with a choking voice, "Of course I remember - like it was yesterday! I felt like a heel for weeks after that day, because all of a sudden I had forgotten everything but you standing there. It was almost as if I'd violated you in some way! But you! God, Dan, you were barely twelve! How could you have known so much?"

"I didn't know anything, Charlie! I just wrote what I was feeling. Sometimes I felt so hopeless, thinking I could never tell you how I felt."

"Well, you certainly don't need to worry about me laughing at you. That was really beautiful! Can I read more?"

Dan was still rather self-conscious about his writings, but at the same time he was relieved to share some of the thoughts and feelings he'd kept to himself for so long. "Tell ya what," he said as he took back the notebook, "I'll give you certain places to read, till I get used to the idea. Since I've started confessing, there's certain things I'd rather you not know till I show 'em to you."

He flipped through the pages, explaining as he did that some passages he'd gone back and read many times, trying to sort out his feelings. "Often they made me cry," he explained, "But I had to read them anyway. Like this one." He handed the book back to Charlie.

November 19, 1963

Well, I did it again! So why don't I know any more than I ever did? And why do I feel so darned guilty? Charlie has a girl friend, so he's obviously not interested in doing those things with me. I miss him so much, and I envy him, because he's normal. Me? I'm just confused. But what I did certainly isn't normal, is it?

I guess it started in June the first time Kirk slept over. I can't honestly say he's my favorite cousin, but then he's seventeen, and I'm not even fourteen yet, so I guess I can't expect to be 'best friends' with him. So exactly what are we?

Ever since he was thirteen or so, before I had any idea what it all meant, Kirk had told me he liked boys. Why he told me I didn't know, or care for that matter. But when he showed up in June, we seemed to hit it off better than ever before. He helped me work on that trick kite I was trying to build, even helped me study for my math exam. I was feeling pretty lonely with Charlie spending most of his time with Lisa, so maybe it was only natural what happened.

That very first Saturday night Kirk slept over, I felt it. We'd been outside shooting baskets, so after dinner I decided to take a shower. When I came out, on impulse I pulled on a pair of boxers, then went downstairs to watch TV that way. I'd done the same thing before, but never with company in the house. It didn't take Kirk long to notice, after which I caught him looking at me a lot. In fact I remember thinking he wasn't getting to see much TV.

That same thing happened lots of times over the summer. Kirk was around a lot, even taking me for rides in his dad's car when he could get it. It was nice, having a friend with a car. It was particularly nice when that friend admired you as much as Kirk seemed to like me. It felt good, being admired so much. He did a lot of touching too, and that also felt good. He never ever got fresh, never even came close; but it seemed he was always touching my neck, my shoulders, my legs.

I guess in a way I took advantage of him. It wasn't any time till I learned that Kirk would offer instantly to massage anything on me that hurt, so I often invented sore backs, crampy legs, stiff neck. It's kinda hard to admit, but I guess I liked being touched as much as he liked touching me. And that's how it happened.

We were sitting up watching the late movie last Saturday night. Mom and Dad had gone to bed at their usual time, but we just didn't feel like going yet. I'd had my shower and put on my boxers as usual. Even that had become a game, I guess. I knew Kirk liked to watch me, and I guess I liked being watched.

Anyway, I was lying on the couch, with Kirk on the floor, and I started complaining of stiff shoulders. Amazing as it seems, this time I really did have a fair bit of stiffness. I knew Kirk would offer to massage them, and he didn't disappoint me. For a few minutes he stood over me behind the couch, rubbing my neck and shoulders. Then he suggested, "Why don't you spread that blanket on the floor, and I'll give you a real good massage!"

To receive a full massage from Kirk was an offer I couldn't refuse. He had done it many times before, sometimes on the living room floor, sometimes on my bed. But they always made me feel like a million! So I hopped up, spread the blanket and lay down on my stomach while Kirk knelt over me. He started at my neck and worked his way all the way to my toes. "Okay," he said softly, "Turn over."

"I... I can't," I said.

"Can't? Why not?"

"I just... I just can't."

I guess Kirk understood right away. He ran his fingers, nails scratching lightly, all the way down my back, then on down the insides of my legs. It felt so good, in a very unusual way, that I could hardly breathe! "It's all right, Danny," he whispered. When I still didn't move, he took me by the shoulders in one hand and the hips in the other and rolled me over on my back, which of course exposed the reason I couldn't turn over. I was embarrassed almost to tears.

We stayed there for the longest time. I was on my back, looking up into his eyes, while Kirk sat on his knees, looking back into mine. "You... you had enough massage?" he whispered. I didn't answer, but nodded my head. Our eyes were still locked together. "Would... would you like... do you want to go upstairs?" he asked. My heart was pounding a million beats a second. I still didn't answer, but I nodded again. Next thing I knew I was being carried up the stairs and gently laid on Kirk's bed in the spare room. I think even being carried like a little rag doll added to the whole experience. He was so strong, yet so gentle!

We did a lot of things that night; things I had read about, but never dreamed I'd ever do. I'll not likely ever admit this to anyone, but I enjoyed it, a lot! But the best thing of all about what we did, or maybe it was the worst thing, was that all the time Kirk and I were in his bed, I was imagining it was Charlie I was with. Weird, or what! Only in my dreams I was taking more of an active part. In actuality, all I did was lie there and let Kirk feel and fondle, nuzzle and suck. Oh, I touched him a few times, even helped him beat off once or twice; but mainly it was him working on me while I just lay there and enjoyed. Eventually he... well... he had what he called an orgasm. I didn't, because Kirk told me I might not be old enough. It's okay though, because I've been hoping somehow that I could be with Charlie the first time I do that. What the heck, a guy can dream, can't he!

Well, that was in September, just before school started. Kirk and I got together quite a bit after that. I kept telling myself it was the only way to figure out my true feelings, but all it did was make me more confused. And all the time I was messing with Kirk, I was fantasizing that it was Charlie. So last night after we had finished I told him I didn't want to do it any more. He was disappointed and hurt, but I think he understood. He asked me if he'd done anything wrong, and I said no, that I just didn't want to do it any more. I didn't tell him that Charlie and I were starting to see each other again, and I couldn't take the chance of Charlie finding out that I do those things. I must've dreamed a million times that it was Charlie giving me the massage that night, and not Kirk. Oh, well, maybe we can go on double dates or something.

Charlie lay quietly on the bed for a long while after he'd finished reading. "I'm really sorry, Danny," he whispered when he finally spoke. "I hurt you a lot, didn't I? I mean bouncing back and forth between Lisa and you."

"It's okay," Dan answered. "You were just trying to sort things out, same as me. I really like Lisa and I was pretty jealous that she was your girl. I wanted to have a girl friend too; but mostly I wanted to WANT a girl, but I didn't. I only wanted you!"

Dan admitted that he had planned something similar to what had happened in the camp, but he said he would've chosen a more private setting. What he'd done in the camp had been strictly the result of having been overcome with desire. Of course there were the washroom opportunities, but Dan had found that prospect utterly disgusting, which is one reason he'd been so confused. Most of his research led him to believe that homosexuality was a physical thing, and had little to do with love. But Dan wanted Charlie or no one. Charlie was astounded at the effort Dan had put into the whole exercise. "It would seem," he observed as his hands again went to work, "That you don't have to worry any more about choosing a time." Dan didn't answer, at least with words.

Wednesday the boys were up, had their breakfast, and were on the road by nine o'clock. Rides didn't seem so plentiful this morning, and by one o'clock they had only traveled about 100 miles. It was getting colder, and the two stood shivering by the side of the road when a red sports car came along carrying two girls. When the car stopped and picked the boys up, their fantasies went wild. The girls were eighteen or twenty, gorgeous, and full of laughter. Dan and Charlie looked at each other as they clambered into the back seat, their looks saying "Here's where we get laid!" Of course nothing happened, probably because the boys just sat there waiting for the break that never came. They said that their parents had died, and that they had run away from a foster home in Montreal and were on their way to Florida to an uncle's. Of course, they were brothers. The girls seemed sympathetic, and drove them to Interstate 95. By that time it was starting to get dark, so again the boys looked for a motel.

In the room, their bellies full, they were lying naked on top of the bed. They had showered together, consequently that had probably been the longest shower they had ever had. It had not been planned, but as Charlie was washing Dan his hand had brushed Dan's personal places and he had sprung instantly to life. The feel of that thing hardening in his hand had been too much for Charlie and they were at it again, shower and all. As Dan started to climax, his knees went weak and he almost fell, giving them both a scare, followed by a good laugh.

"You know how far we are from Boston?" Dan asked as the two lovers lay there at peace with the world.

"I figure about 120 miles," Charlie answered.

"When is it going to get warmer?"

"Next April or May, same as home."

"What! You mean they have winter here too?" Dan said with a start.

"Sure do... did you think we were going to the tropics?"

"Well, yeah, I guess I did. This is no good. How far is it to Florida?"

"I dunno... probably about another thousand miles or more."

"Well, let's go. I wanna get out of the cold, so we can party. It's gonna be a long winter and if I'm running away from home, I'm gonna make it worthwhile."

And so it was decided, just like that! They would go to Florida, or maybe California... Any place warm. "Charlie?" The little boy voice again. "What if those girls had wanted to screw us?"

"I dunno, guess I'd have done it. I'd like to try it."

"You mean you never done it before?"


"Then what were all those stories back at the camp?"

"Oh, those were just that... stories. Nobody wants to admit he's still a virgin at sixteen, almost seventeen."

"You mean Joe and Bill are still virgins too?"

"Dunno, probably. But we can hardly call ourselves virgins any more," Charlie grinned.

"You know what I mean," Dan scolded as he turned scarlet. "Did you want to do it with those girls?"

"Yeah, it crossed my mind."

"Does that mean you're not really gay?"

"I dunno, Dan. I am so confused about all that I guess I don't know what I am. It probably means that we like each other, a lot, but that I still want to experiment a bit. How about you, didn't you want them?" Charlie asked, getting concerned about how this conversation was going. After the experience watching Dan undress, Charlie was beginning to realize he appreciated beauty wherever he found it, but he didn't know what that meant either.

"Yes, I did," Dan answered, "but I didn't know how you'd take it." With that they fell silent. Soon they crawled under the covers, snuggled up together, and were fast asleep.

Next day about noon, the boys arrived in Boston. They were with a trucker who was going right downtown, so they went with him. He had known right away they were runaways, but he didn't seem to mind, telling them that he had run away himself when he was fifteen, so he knew what it was like. Charlie wondered to himself what reason he'd had for running away, but he said nothing.

They spent the afternoon wandering around downtown Boston, taking in the sights, trying to act like seasoned veterans to hide the intimidation they felt at being alone in this huge city. When the afternoon traffic had died down they started looking for a place to stay, but none was to be found. They went into a large hotel to get a room, but balked at the $100.00 it was going to cost. In the street again, they decided to try and get to the outskirts, but they had no idea which direction to go. They were repulsed and somewhat frightened by all the bums on the streets and in the doorways, sticking their hands out for change to buy wine.

As they walked along on one of the darker streets, a big new car pulled over to the curb and a well dressed man, about thirty-five, motioned for them to get in. It never occurred to them to ask what he wanted, but they assumed he was offering them a ride, and maybe he could direct them to the Y.

"You boys lost?" he said cheerfully as the two piled in the front seat.

"Sort of," Dan answered. "We've been looking for a place to stay, but haven't been able to find one."

"Well," he said, "this is your lucky day. I have a hotel room just a few blocks away, and I get lonely when I'm away from home. Long as you don't mind sharing a bed, you're welcome to stay with me." Dan and Charlie looked at each other, nodded and thanked the man, who said simply that his name was Roger.

"You boys need to be careful walking these streets at night," Roger said as they drove to the hotel. "There's all kinds of trouble you can get into, and all sorts of dirt bags that would love to get hold of two great looking guys like you two." He seemed like a really nice person, Charlie thought as they pulled into the hotel parking garage. In the elevator, Charlie told Roger they were from Montreal and were on their way to Florida to see an uncle.

"Might as well get comfortable," Roger said when they were in the room. It was a small room with one large bed. He gave them both a beer and started undressing. It was still only nine o'clock but the boys thought nothing of it, concluding that a traveling businessman was probably tired after a long day. Charlie was fiddling with the TV when Roger, down to his shorts now, came up behind him, putting his arms around him and grabbing a handful of Charlie's genitals. "You're two gorgeous hunks of manhood," he said as he did. "Why don't you get out of those clothes and I'll show you both a real good time."

Charlie reeled around and tried to fight him off, but his grip was like steel. "What the fuck d'ya think you're doing?" he demanded, panic in his voice.

Roger released his grip then, saying, "C'mon, quit playing around. You guys can't tell me you're that stupid! You think I brought you up here just for the pleasure of your company?" Of course that's exactly what they had thought, but they were getting an education, and fast!

Roger now stepped out of his shorts and made a grab for Charlie's belt, expertly undoing it and the top snap on his jeans in one swift motion. "I know you guys have to live," he said, "And I'll make it worth your while, trust me." Charlie was frantic now, trying desperately to get away but failing. In a flash Dan was on Roger's back with one arm around his neck in a choke hold, his free arm flailing and punching, all the time practically screaming "That's my buddy you're messing with, and no one does that, long as I can do anything to stop it." As Roger tried to shake off his assailant Charlie saw his chance and brought a knee as hard as he could into the exposed genitals before him. Roger howled with pain and went down. Dan stayed on his back, got hold of his two now weak arms, and pinned them behind his back and just sat there like Roy Rogers on his horse.

"Now what?" he said to Charlie, his voice trembling with fear and anger.

"I'll show you what," Charlie said, his eyes wide with rage. "This fuckin' rotten fag will think twice before messing with us again." He picked up Roger's discarded jacket and went through the pockets, finding at last what he'd been looking for: his wallet. He thumbed through it quickly until he found papers that identified Roger as a salesman from Lima, Ohio. He quickly jotted down the name, address, and phone number.

Before putting the wallet back, he noticed several crisp one hundred dollar bills and slipped them into his pocket. "Now, you fucker," he said to Roger, giving him another kick in the nuts to keep him weak and get his attention, "if we ever hear from you again, whoever is on the other end of this phone number will hear from me." Another kick in the balls. "Now Dan is gonna get off you, and I don't want you to move a fuckin' muscle till after we're gone, you got that?

A weak "got it" came from the floor.

It's doubtful if Roger could stand if he'd wanted to just then. Dan got up quickly and the two boys headed for the door. As they were leaving Charlie stopped and turned, thought for a moment, withdrew the wad of money from his pocket and threw it on the floor. They hurried down the hall to a stair well, went down two floors, then back into the hallway to the elevators.

Back in the street once more, two very frightened boys were once again walking aimlessly, looking for a place to stay. "Now it's my turn to thank you for jumping him like that," Charlie said to Dan.

"Hey, we're a team," Dan returned. "No thanks necessary."

They went into a diner that was still open, got a burger and coke, and sat down. They weren't hungry, but they were shaken, and a snack was always a good way for a teenager to sit down and cool out. They sat there without a word, eating slowly, both boys still trembling from their experience.

As he finished the last of his hamburger Dan said, "Charlie, why did you throw his money back? There was quite a wad there." Charlie thought for a moment before answering.

"I dunno, Dan," he said presently. "Guess I'm just not a very good thief."

"Well," Dan said, "I'm glad you did. I felt kinda sorry for him, in a way."

"Sorry for him?" Charlie was astonished. This man had tried to rape them, or whatever, and now Danny was sorry for him!

"Yeah," Dan continued, "remember, the same thing almost happened to me back at the camp, and I know exactly how he feels. I would've got beat up and God knows what else if it hadn't been for you. When ya think about it, he's probably no different from us, only older."

Charlie started to say that was different, but he stopped. Dan was so tender hearted he had a good thought, it seemed, for everyone, and Charlie loved him for it. He knew Dan well enough to know that if there was any way he could see the better side of someone he would, and nothing would change his mind. And besides, as Dan had so painfully pointed out, Roger was just a homosexual, same as they were. Only difference was, he was lonely and looking for company and they were not. Charlie was somewhat startled by the realization that he'd just called himself a homosexual, even if it was just in his mind.

Two a.m. found the boys still wandering the streets of Boston. As they turned a corner in a less than desirable neighborhood, they noticed a boy about their own age standing under a lamp post. They nodded as they passed, but the other boy just snarled back. "This is my block," he hissed at them, "and I don't need any additions."

Charlie stopped and faced him. "Hey, no problem," he said, "We're just passing through, looking for a place to stay."

"Well, look some place else," the other said, his voice threatening. Dan and Charlie walked on by, not wanting any more trouble.

About an hour later, still walking, they came upon a small dimly lit sign that read "Hotel". It was over a doorway that led upstairs. It was dingy and dirty, but the night had turned cold and it was starting to snow. Charlie looked at Dan and said, "What do you think?"

Dan looked dubious. "Well, I don't like it, but it has to be better than being on the street all night. At least we can find out how much it costs." They walked up the stairs and found an old man dozing behind a small counter. "Seventeen bucks for the night," he snarled at them as they walked up to the counter. The boys looked at each other and nodded, Dan paid him the money, and they followed his directions down the hall to number five. Inside the room, the boys lay on the small bed without getting undressed, being repulsed by the filth. Soon it was obvious to the boys where they were, and they were terrified once again. From the other side of the wall by the bed they could hear the sounds of violent sex, while from the opposite wall two women were arguing over their recent drug purchase. The boys had been tired, but now they were wide awake again.

"Charlie," Dan said quietly, "what have we gotten into?" Charlie had been thinking the same thing. But now, as the older of the two, he felt obligated to show strength. It had not escaped his thoughts that Dan had left a loving, comfortable home to be with him. Oh, there would probably be a few raised voices, but he knew it would blow over. But Charlie would face at the very least a beating and probably be kicked out of the house anyway. If he'd allowed himself to think about it he would have realized that if he really loved Dan he'd encourage him to go home right now. But he didn't think of it; he didn't allow himself to think of anything that would result in their being apart.

"It'll be okay, Danny," he said with little conviction. They were two small town boys in a big city and they were learning fast that there was a world of difference between Boston and Truro, Nova Scotia.

"Tomorrow," he continued, "We'll get the hell outa this place, and things will be okay once we get on the road again." Both boys knew they had bitten off more than they had bargained for, but they also knew there was no turning back. They held each other close now, feeling very alone and defenseless.

Next morning the boys were up and out by eight o'clock. They had slept very little, and chose to stay dirty rather than wash in the filthy shared bathroom which was now littered with empty liquor bottles and used condoms. Of course it never occurred to the runaways until years later, but they hadn't discarded nearly as much of their upbringing as they thought. A lifetime of conditioning by caring parents made it absolutely necessary, without so much as a second thought, to wash each morning; and when they couldn't, they felt positively grubby. Even Charlie, who thought his life at home had been hell on earth, had the middle class standards that demanded he be clean, honest, loyal.

The weary boys made their way through the now crowded streets to the diner where they had snacked the night before. They went into the washroom to get cleaned up, but the steady traffic prevented them from doing more than wash their hands and face. They went to the line and ordered eggs and bacon with a large coffee.

At the table, Dan just picked at his food. "Hey, you," Charlie said, "don't love me any more?" Dan looked at him, and Charlie thought he saw the glint of a tear. "You know I do," he said, his voice trembling, "but I'm scared. I had no idea it would be like this."

"So, you wanna go home?"

"More than anything in the world, Charlie! But I know I can't, not and have you too."

Charlie was startled by Dan's outward expression of love, and moved by his obvious choice and the sacrifice he was making. Dan's home life, unlike Charlie's, had been full of love, security and devotion. Charlie knew how hard it must've been for Dan to give it up because he knew how he ached for a home like Dan's.

"Danny," he said, "I think it's gonna be all right. We both want to be together, and we're not stupid. Others have done it, younger than we are, and we just have to be more careful, that's all."

"I know," Dan answered. "I'll be okay, just give me a little time." His spirits lifted a bit, Dan fell upon his breakfast.

"No regrets, then?" Charlie said tentatively.

"None," Dan answered. "We made our choice, and we'll make it work." The boys still hadn't come to grips with the idea of being gay, or what that meant. At that moment, they gave no thought to the meaning of gay, or straight, or anything else. They only knew they wanted to be together and that they couldn't be lovers at home.

As they sat at the table drinking their coffee, a youth asked if he could join them. Dan looked up into the eyes of the same boy they'd encountered on the street the night before. Without waiting for an answer the boy sat down. "Sorry about last night," he said cheerfully, "I was a bit strung out and I needed money bad."

"That's okay," Charlie answered. He had no idea what strung out meant, but it sounded pretty bad.

"By the way, my name's Jason. You're new, aren't you?" Charlie and Dan told him their names, and that they were just passing through on their way to Florida.

"You queer?" The word shocked the pair slightly, and on impulse Charlie said no, they weren't. "I am," Jason said in a matter-of-fact way. "I'm from Bangor, been peddling my ass on the streets all summer."

"Peddling your ass?" Dan asked curiously.

"Boy," Jason exclaimed, "you really are new, aren't you?"

Jason went on to explain how he just hung around the street and his tricks picked him up and paid him for sexual favors. "You'll be doing it before long," he told them, "It's about the only way we kids can make a living these days, and not a bad living at that. You just spend some time with some old fag, let him into your pants a little, and you walk away with twenty, forty, sometimes fifty bucks or more." Dan and Charlie were shocked, but now they understood where Roger had been coming from. He had mistakenly assumed that any young teens in that neighborhood would know what he was after. But they couldn't imagine themselves exposing themselves for him, or even letting him touch them. Jason told them he had made a hundred dollars after he'd seen them, spent sixty on drugs, and had forty left for food and rent. "And I had fun doing it," he said proudly. "So why don't you guys hang around for a few days and I can show you the ropes. Might even give you a free sample, cause you two aren't hard to look at, in case you didn't know." Neither boy had thought of himself as handsome, but each knew full well the other was very good looking.

"Thanks," Charlie said, "But we have to get on the road, and we're just not interested. I told ya, we're not queer. You could help us by telling us how to get outa here though." Jason quickly complied, telling them of the subway and bus routes to get them back on the highway south. They shook hands again, thanked Jason for his help, and headed for the subway station.

"Nice guy," Dan said as they settled themselves on the train, "But I don't know how he can do those things." Charlie agreed, wondering to himself if all homosexuals did that with anyone who came along. By now he was perfectly at home being intimate with Dan, but the thought of being as promiscuous as Jason repulsed him. "I suppose he has to make a living somehow," he said to Dan, "But it's not for me." Still, he thought, a hundred dollars a day was certainly better than he'd ever make at a fast food restaurant. The boys sat quietly watching the thousands of zombies getting on and off the train, going to their place of work, expressionless, without emotion, without thought, or so it appeared.

Back on the road again, traffic was heavy and the rides were more frequent. The boys developed the habit of hanging around the truck stops and asking the truckers for a lift. One time they traveled all day with the same trucker. When night came they readily accepted his invitation to share his room only to discover that he, too, was interested in more than their company. He wasn't as aggressive as Roger had been and seemed willing to accept their no answer, but the boys left the room anyway and ended up sleeping in an alley once again. They had spent three days in New York, two in Baltimore, and one or two in just about every other major city along the way. Each time they stopped for the night they hoped things would be better, but each time there was an incident that frightened them into moving on. Soon they were in Savannah, Georgia, and the weather was finally warmer.

"Hello?" a male voice came over the phone.

"Mr. Nelson?"

"Yes, this is Don Nelson. Who is calling?"

"Mr. Nelson, my name is Clarke Evans. I'm Dan Evan's..."

"I know who you are. You're the father of that boy who's run away with Charlie."

"That's right. I just wanted to touch base with you, to see if perhaps we could work together to..."

"To do what? Those young hellions are long gone. There's no telling where they are, and what does it matter anyway? Did they tell you why they ran away?"

"Yes, they told me. That's why I'm concerned. I think I have some idea where they are, but I don't have any way to get a message to them. I was hoping..."

"The only thing I know is what they left in the note. And if what they're saying is true, I don't want to know any more!"

"But, Mr. Nelson, Charlie's your son! They must've been terrified to run away like that..."

"And so they should be! Imagine! If I get my hands on him he'll have good reason to be scared. He's better off if I don't know where he is."

"So I take it you're not interested in sharing information, in working together to support them and let them know we love them? To get them to come home?"

"Why on earth would I tell those two something like that? But if you're talking with them, you can tell Charlie for me he's really done it this time. He's been nothing but trouble since his mother died, and now this! He is no longer my son, plain and simple."

"Mr. Nelson," Clarke Evans said in frustration, "I don't think you understand..."

"And I don't think YOU understand. Your son, and mine, have announced to the whole world that they are cocksuckers! And you think we should just pat them on the head and say that's ok, just do your thing?"

"Something like that. I know my son well enough to know that if he says it's something he can't help, I believe him. I'm not really thrilled about it either, but he's still my son."

"Well if you think he's so great, perhaps you'd like another one. He is certainly not MY son, if that's the way he's gonna carry on. Good-bye, Mr. Evans!"

Clarke shook his head as he slowly hung up the phone. "He doesn't understand," he said to his wife. "He simply doesn't understand. He hates his own boy for being what he feels he has to be!"

"So what do we do?" Nancy Evans asked.

"Precisely what our son asked us to do. Trust him! He'll be ok! We know he'll be ok because we've trained him, loved him! He knows if the world gets to be too much for him we're here. That's all we can do. We have to trust him!"

"He's so young, Clarke! And so small!"

"He'll check in with us, and remember he's not alone. Charlie's with him, and between the two of them there's a lot of common sense and capability. I'm thinking we're gonna hear from them real soon. You'll see."

Please send any comments to charlieje@mindspring.com