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.

VIII. The Rude Awakening

After the excitement of the holidays had subsided, the three partners settled down to the business of learning their trade and how to improve it. All three worked tirelessly at improving his dancing and grooming skills, having all agreed that as soon as humanly possible, they wanted their escort service to be just that, and not simply sex for sale. But Jerry had learned from bitter experience that one could do very little to improve one's status, financially or otherwise, without money. So for the time being, they responded to almost any requirement, their only stipulation being that their activities be done as safely as possible, and that none of them would do anything they couldn't enjoy at least a little bit. Their philosophy was, of course, that if they couldn't enjoy what they were doing, they probably couldn't give their full attention to the task and the customer would not get his or her money's worth. So they preferred to refuse to do some of the more disgusting things, rather than "fake it."

One such activity, and the first to cause a serious rift in the trio, was that of dressing "in drag" and going out in public. Dan and Charlie, being the youngest and possessing the least body hair, were the logical choice for such things in Jerry's eyes. They agreed in principle, but doing it was quite another matter. The whole thing came to a head one Sunday afternoon when Dan and Charlie returned home from a driving lesson. Going into their room to change, they found a beautiful satin party dress laid out on the bed, along with all the other articles of clothing that went with it. This, they knew, was Jerry's way of declaring that he wanted them to change into whatever he'd placed on the bed. But a satin party dress! Alongside the dress was laid out a rather casual suit - Dan's suit! Charlie's heart sank when he realized that meant the dress was for him. "You better hurry," Jerry said cheerfully as he noticed the two standing and staring at the clothes on the bed, "We're going to church, then out to eat after that."

"Jerry," Charlie gasped, "are you outa your mind? I can't go to church in that!"

"Why not?" Jerry grinned, "you chicken?"

"No, I'm not chicken. But I've never... I don't..."

"I'll help you get dressed," Jerry offered, still grinning. "After that, the rest is easy. You'll see, you might even like it. Some guys do, y'know."

"Not me," Charlie said emphatically. "I'm just not gonna do it! If I can't make a living as a hustler without wearing panties, then I guess I'd better start lookin' for a job."

"Dan?" Jerry questioned.

"Same answer, Jer," Dan replied. "Some things are just not negotiable, an' that's one of 'em."

There was no more talk about cross dressing. Jerry threatened that he'd revisit the situation in a few months, but for now there were enough other things to work on, like dancing, grooming, Dan's driving, that the dresses could wait. "Revisit all you like," Charlie said. "The answer's gonna be the same."

Perhaps Charlie was a little too emphatic, or maybe it was just Jerry's uncanny knack of reading people. Jerry eyed Charlie curiously. "You've done it before, haven't you?" he questioned.

Charlie's face turned scarlet. "Well..." he stammered.

"He's got ya, Charlie," Dan said with a giggle. "Jer, Charlie's got an older sister. Of course he's tried it! He got caught once too! I thought his dad was gonna kill him!"

"Whose side are you on?" Charlie demanded.

"Nobody's side, Charlie. I just thought it was funny."

"That's 'cause you weren't the one gettin' killed!"

"Yeah," Dan agreed, "I guess you're right."

Jerry and Dan were both out when the call came from a man Charlie didn't know. He knew the other two were booked tonight; but Charlie was free, so he took the initiative and agreed to meet the man for two hours or so. He had to see a regular later in the evening, but until around ten he decided he might as well pick up an extra few dollars. Up until now Jerry had screened all their calls, and he had been very selective which ones the other two got, and the protection was wearing thin with Charlie. He was anxious to build the business and demonstrate that he could handle his fair share; so he got cleaned up, left a note saying where he'd gone, and left for downtown.

If he had been more experienced, Charlie might have sensed a problem at the outset. If he had grown up in the streets, he might have sensed that things just didn't ring true; he might have seen trouble coming. He would have known that everyone doesn't respond to caring and affection the way they're expected to do. If he hadn't had it quite so easy the first few times, his guard might not have been down; but as it was, he had come to the point where he thought this was easy. After all, he thought, what could go wrong? He had found that all his dates so far had been so appreciative of his passion and cleanliness that Charlie could almost literally dictate exactly what they did and didn't do. So when he got out of the cab in front of the small motel and was immediately approached by a man who was walking from the parking lot and not inside the motel, he never gave it a second thought.

"You Charlie?" the man queried. He was, Charlie judged, about fifty years old, slightly overweight, and very dirty and sloppy looking.

"That's right," Charlie said before he'd had time to think about it.

"I thought so," the other said. "I'm Glen. Let's take a drive before we get down to business, and I'll pick up something to drink."

For a brief moment Charlie had second thoughts. But Glen was already heading for a car, so Charlie followed. He had never been with anyone before who didn't even look clean, but he gritted his teeth and told himself it wasn't a big deal. In the car, Glen talked easily about everything except the business at hand. Charlie was now beginning to wonder if he could be intimate with this man. He certainly wasn't the desirable type, but then Jerry had warned them that this would be the case sooner or later. When they stopped at a liquor store, Charlie considered making a run for it; but he was determined to show Jerry and Dan that he could handle himself, so he stayed put.

"Let's forget the motel," Glen said as he got back in the car, "I live not too far from here, and we'll be more comfortable at home." Charlie said okay, but he couldn't stay too long because he had another appointment later on. In fact that was true, and he really wanted to make the second date. He had met Vince before and really liked him, and now he speculated that the second appointment would be much more pleasant. They drove for about twenty minutes, eventually pulling into a neat looking house in a residential area on the exact opposite side of town from where the boys lived. "Make yourself comfortable," Glen said as he unlocked the door, "And I'll fix us a drink." As Charlie settled himself in one of the comfortable chairs in the living room, Glen disappeared into the kitchen.

"Now," Glen said as he brought back two tall glasses, "It's time for some fun!" There was no foreplay, no talk of how handsome Charlie was or how clean he looked; there were only dirty rough hands, pawing and tearing at Charlie's clothes. This guy seemed to think because he was paying for the service, he could do anything he wanted. Charlie tried to cooperate, but Glen wanted to be rough. He tried to react accordingly, but Glen became more aggressive as Charlie flinched with pain when Glen grabbed a handful of his genitals through his clothes and pulled hard. At last Charlie had endured all he could and tried to get away, and that's when Glen got really nasty.

"What's the matter?" he snarled, "Aren't I good enough for you?"

"It's not that," Charlie said, becoming frightened now, "You haven't paid me." He didn't know what made him say that, except that Jerry had told them sometimes it was better to get their money up front.

Glen's reaction to Charlie's demand for his money was downright violent. "I'm not gonna pay ya either," he roared, "until I see what I'm paying for." Before Charlie knew what was happening, the back of Glen's hand had connected with his face and knocked him sprawling. It hurt like hell, but it served to make Charlie realize that he probably wasn't going to get paid, in fact he'd be lucky to escape without a real beating.

As he was recovering from the blow Glen started for him, and Charlie scrambled to his feet and ducked his aggressor. He was terrified now, but at the same time he wanted to satisfy this guy, if at all possible. "Glen," he pleaded, "I don't like violence, but if you'll settle down, I'm sure we can have some fun."

"Fun!" Glen roared, "I'll have some fun all right. I'll tear your fuckin' head off when I get hold of you." Charlie resolved then that Glen wouldn't get hold of him, but he didn't know how to avoid it.

The two dodged and jumped around the room, every once in a while Glen catching a handful of Charlie's clothes or hair and Charlie, panic stricken now, tearing himself away, until at last Glen tackled Charlie from about six feet away, and the two went crashing to the floor in a heap. Charlie struck his head against a table on the way down, causing him to almost black out. Seconds later, Glen was tearing at Charlie's clothes again. As his head cleared, the pain was forgotten as Charlie was overcome with rage and terror. He was no fighter, but he was beginning to think he was fighting for his life, so his arms and legs were flailing in all directions. Glen responded with fists to Charlie's stomach and groin, with the odd blow to his face and head.

Eventually a foot connected with Glen's most tender parts, causing him to howl with pain and go momentarily limp. Charlie seized the chance and ran out the front door. Outside in the street, he ran until he thought his lungs would burst before he even thought of stopping.

Coming upon a small shopping center, Charlie thought of asking for help; but what would he say? He knew he couldn't tell what had really happened, and there was no point in calling home because Jerry and Dan were both out. He could have walked home, but he didn't even know if he was heading in the right direction and the pain from his beating and frenzied run were starting to bother him to the point of weakness. So he made use of the store lights to try and put himself back together. Only then did he realize his nose was bleeding, he had scratches on his arms and back, he thought he must have a few cracked ribs, and his jaw felt to Charlie as if it might be broken. His shirt was ripped half off, and the button of his pants was gone. He wanted to go home to Nova Scotia so badly he would have started if he'd known which way the highway was. Instead, he just kept walking, and as he encountered a particularly dark neighborhood, he noticed the lights of the downtown area and headed for them like a night flying insect.

The first familiar sight Charlie noticed as he approached all the lights was the Ambassador Hotel, where he was to meet his second date. Checking his watch, he realized he was just about on time, so he went to a phone. His middle class upbringing and Jerry's teaching had both instilled in him the value of reliability, so he felt compelled to let Vince know he wouldn't be showing up. He had no intention of meeting the man now, or any other for that matter. He was done with this life, even if it meant slinging hash at some burger joint the rest of his life. But Vince had other ideas.

"I'm afraid I can't meet you," Charlie said when Vince answered. "I've had some trouble, and I'm just not up to it." Vince wanted to know what happened, and in his terrified state, Charlie told the whole story. "I'm afraid," he concluded, "I'm done with this business." He knew from previous meetings that Vince was harmless, even nice, but Charlie was determined he couldn't go through with it again.

"Come on up," Vince pleaded, "And forget about our date. I just want to make sure you're all right." Charlie was suspicious of everyone now, but not knowing what else to do, he agreed. He felt every eye on him as he walked through the crowded lobby of the hotel.

In Vince's room, Charlie broke down completely and started to cry in spite of himself. Vince, in his forties and with teenagers of his own, was full of compassion. "Trust me, Charlie," he said, "I'm gonna take your clothes off, but only to get you cleaned up." Charlie was ready to fight again rather than allow anyone to touch him, but the soothing voice patiently comforted him so that eventually he lay on the bed and allowed himself to be undressed. Charlie flinched with pain even though his benefactor was as gentle as he could be. Vince carried the naked boy into the bathroom and put him in a bathtub full of warm water, all the time soothing and comforting his frightened friend. It felt good, Charlie thought, being cared for so tenderly by this relative stranger.

After being bathed and dried by this caring man, Charlie felt a lot better. "Thanks, Vince," he said gratefully, "but you didn't have to spend your whole evening taking care of me."

"Of course I did," Vince responded. "You were hurt and scared, and if for no other reason, I had to let you know you had nothing to fear from me. Besides, maybe it makes up for some of the other things I've done with you." Charlie was confused at first, but then he realized that Vince probably felt guilty being intimate with a boy about the same age as his own son.

"I'm gonna give you the same advice I give my own kids," Vince went on. "You need to be prepared for whatever you do in life, and if you're going to be a hustler, you have to expect this sort of thing now and then. If I were you, I'd learn to fight, or at least learn avoidance tactics."

In answer to Charlie's questions, Vince told him that he had two boys aged twelve and fifteen. They were good boys, he said, and seeing Charlie in this condition and caring for him, hearing his story, had made Vince realize just how vulnerable a relationship is. He said that he intended to spend more time at home, and definitely spend more time with his boys before they began to feel rejected like Charlie did.

All the while they were talking, Vince was gently caressing Charlie's naked body as he lay on the bed. The tenderness, the relief at being safe again, got Charlie talking about things he usually kept to himself. Vince wanted to know how he'd got into this business. "I've had hustlers before," he said, "and they're usually only in it for the money and don't care two hoots about their tricks; but you're different; you're tender and affectionate, and you're honest, which is why I've called you more than once."

So Charlie told Vince about his involvement with Dan, and how his father had completely rejected him as a result. "My dad and I never got along after my mom died," he said, "and I miss him an awful lot. Everything changed when my mom got sick. I just couldn't seem to do anything right no matter how hard I tried. Then when Dan and I got together, he disowned me."

"Are you sure, Charlie? Maybe if you gave him a chance. Have you called him lately?"

"Yes, sir. He won't talk to me, All he wants to do is yell at me." Charlie told of their flight from Truro and their meeting with Jerry and how he wished he could be a permanent part of Vince's life. "I wish," he heard himself saying, "That you were my father." Vince looked at his young friend, a look of pure shock on his face. His hand tightened momentarily on Charlie's shoulder.

"Don't say that," he said tenderly. "I wish that too, but we both know it would never work." The words had come out without Charlie's thinking about what he was saying, but now he was forced to think about it, and he knew he'd spoken the truth and so had Vince. Maybe if this had been their first meeting, but as it was, the history they shared would never be compatible with a normal family relationship.

"I know that, Vince," Charlie said earnestly. Vince's soft caressing of Charlie's aching body had resumed, and Charlie was now coming to the point that he wanted to keep his date with this gentle man. It wasn't out of any feeling of obligation, it was genuine desire to please. "Vince," he said softly, trying to make light of the scene, "If you keep that up, I'm gonna be paying you for your services before long."

Vince immediately withdrew his hands. "That's not what I was trying to do," he said.

"I know," Charlie answered, "and that's probably why it's happening; so why don't I just give you a freebie?" Charlie was so grateful, he wanted to share totally the only asset he had: his body. Vince wanted it too, he said, but still he declined.

"I'm getting more satisfaction out of just having you let me care for you, so if you want to please me, just lie there and let me massage your pain away as much as I can." So Charlie did. At first he wept softly from the tension and the fear he'd felt, but also from regret knowing that this beautiful and tender time would end, probably forever. Eventually Charlie was so relaxed he fell into a peaceful sleep, all the while Vince's tender hands caressing and massaging his bruised body.

It was almost morning when Vince finally insisted on driving Charlie home. Charlie declined Vince's offer to pay him, saying that he hadn't done anything to earn it. "So you keep telling me," Vince said. "But you did a lot more than you think. You helped me decide what I have to do now, so we'll consider the money payment for your counseling services." Charlie had not the slightest idea what he meant, but he accepted the money reluctantly. "Take care of yourself," Vince said as Charlie thanked him and opened the car door, "I don't think I'll be calling you again, or any other young man for that matter, at least until my kids are gone. And thanks, Charlie, for showing me that I have to think of them first."

Charlie didn't know how he'd done it, but somehow those tender moments Vince shared with a naked beaten teenager had made him realize that he had a commitment to keep, and that commitment excluded meeting gay prostitutes when he was out of town. He had explained to Charlie that he'd had gay inclinations for years but had denied them and married. Now, he said, he realized that he had to live up to that obligation. Twenty years in the future, well, that was another matter. But for now Vince had declared gay sex off limits for himself.

"But," Charlie protested, "can't we just be friends? I really need to know you're ok. You've been so good to me!"

"I just don't think that's such a good idea, Charlie. Just because I've decided I have to quit doing these things doesn't mean I can quit wanting to. I am what I am, Charlie, and I can't change that. I simply don't think I could resist temptation some time in the future, especially with you! So it's best that we just part as friends... good friends."

"I'll miss you, Vince. I'll worry about you."

"And I you, Charlie. But for now I'm afraid that's how it has to be. Maybe some day in the future we'll meet again."

Charlie got another dose of caring and affection when he related the incident to his companions. Dan was appalled and quite upset at the sight of Charlie's bruises and the large lump on his head. Jerry, who'd had no small number of such incidents while on the streets, wasn't a bit surprised, but he was angry. "That settles it," Jerry said. "If y'all are gonna continue, we're all taking self defense so next time it happens, we can clean his fuckin' clock."

Charlie didn't tell them he'd decided to quit because he knew he couldn't as long as he was to stay with Dan and Jerry. Besides, he thought to himself, there are always guys like Vince, so all I have to do is learn to tell the difference. He was at a disadvantage he knew, because he'd been so sheltered all his life and hadn't had to worry about such things.

When Charlie was feeling better, he had to endure Jerry's wrath as he gave his apprentice supreme hell for going out on the date alone. "Gee," Charlie said, "This is just like being home. I got shit there when I messed up, too."

"You didn't mess up," Jerry said irritably, "You just acted pretty fuckin' stupid. And now you know why I've been choosing your dates for you; but like all kids, including me, you had to learn the hard way."

"I understand," Charlie said impatiently, "But you can't protect us forever. Sooner or later we had to strike out on our own, and I wasn't really hurt."

Jerry knew he was right, but he wasn't enjoying in the least seeing his friend and charge being beaten up. He even considered suggesting that he go on working while Dan and Charlie go back to school, but he knew them well enough by now to know they'd never hear of it, so he kept the suggestion to himself. "Just be more careful," he said at last. "It'd kill me if anything happened to y'all." Both boys assured him that they might not learn fast, but they did learn well. Learn they did, and the incident was soon filed away as one of those painful but valuable lessons. This sort of thing happened from time to time; but before long, with the help of the self defense training Jerry arranged, the overly aggressive clients and those inclined to violence got a very big surprise. And probably more important, the two newcomers found that each incident served to hone their instincts in assessing their clients.

True to his word, Vince never called Jerry's service again, nor did any of the boys ever hear from him again. Charlie was glad too, thinking of how it would affect Vince's children if they knew what he'd been up to. I hope you make it, he said under his breath, I really hope you make it. He wanted desperately to meet Vince's sons some day so he could tell them what a gentle caring man their dad is, but he knew he never would, and he also knew it was better that way. For months after his beating Charlie's own words echoed over and over in his head. "I wish you were my father," he had said, and the thought of being related in some way to such a gentle man caused his heart to ache. But like all such encounters, he had to put it out of his mind and get on with his life.

To their utter astonishment, Glen called again a few weeks after the incident. Charlie wanted no part of his aggressive nature, but Jerry agreed to meet him. "This time he's mine," Jerry said with a grin, "and I'll be ready for him." When Jerry returned from his date with Glen three hours later, he looked as if he'd been through a meat grinder. He wasn't hurt seriously, but he looked like hell. "No problem," he said with the same grin still on his face, "you should see the other guy. You don't have to worry about him bothering you again, Charlie, I think he's learned his lesson." The other two didn't ask what Jerry had done to him, but knowing his mood when he left the house, they figured it hadn't been pleasant. And they never heard from Glen again.

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