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Note: Thanks to Tim for feedback on the draft chapters. I owe special thanks to Robb and Rock for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Jeff Allen
The scars on Brandon's back and arm explained why he always wore long sleeved shirts.
I listened as Brandon talked to the guy named Bart on the phone. I wasn't sure who Bart was, but Brandon had told him he loved him. Whoever the guy was, I was a little jealous. I turned off the water in the shower and grabbed his terrycloth bathrobe from the hook on the door. I placed the robe over Brandon's shoulders and handed him the towel while he talked then took a seat at the kitchen table to wait.
When he hung up the phone he put his face in his hands. I went over, knelt down beside him, and hugged his shoulders.
"No. That was my kid brother. He's in trouble. Somehow I have to either get him here or go out to Salt Lake."
"He got in trouble with my father. Dad has a bad temper. The whole `spare the rod and spoil the child' bit. Bart said that Dad found some things on his computer that shouldn't be on the computer of a good Mormon boy. Dad hit him a couple of times before Bart could get out of the house. He can't go back home; Dad'll just beat on him again. I've got to go out and bring him back here."
"Can you do that? How old is he?"
"He'll be 18 at the end of this month."
"Then he could leave on his own if he had to."
"He wouldn't have anywhere to go. He's still in highschool, and my dad will make sure that none of his friends will take him in."
"I don't understand."
"Okay, here's the deal. Bart's gay, and it was some gay web sites that my dad spotted in the history file on Bart's computer. Mormon's don't have a very accepting attitude toward homosexuality. Even if some of Bart's friends would take him in, there's no way their good Mormon parents would knowingly allow a queer into their home, and my dad will make certain that everyone knows Bart's gay. He doesn't have any place to go except here. I've got to get a flight out to Salt Lake."
"Brandon, this is Thanksgiving week. All of the flights are going to be booked. Even if you could find a flight, you'd have to pay a bloody fortune for a ticket."
"I know, but Bart's got less than a hundred bucks in his pocket. He can't stay in a motel for very long with that much cash."
"You could wire him some money."
"Yeah, but I need to get out there to see him. Dad hit him pretty hard, and he may need to see a doc."
Something clicked in my brain. "Hold on. I've got an idea."
I punched a button on my cell phone.
Parker answered on the second ring. "Hey, Josh. What's up?"
"Hey, Parker. Listen, Brandon Harris is here with me. I'm gonna put you on speaker. Is that okay?"
I punched the speaker button and started back in, "Isn't Robert out in Salt Lake City right now to broadcast a game?"
"Yeah. The Jazz are playing Robert's old team on Monday. Robert's doing the color commentary for the game. Why?"
"We've got a situation here." I explained about Brandon's brother.
Parker listened. Then he spoke. "Brandon, we've got a good friend who's out in Salt Lake City right now. I'm sure he'd be willing to help you and your brother. Let me give him a call, and I'll get back to you.
"Josh, you stay there with Brandon. I think he needs to be with someone right now."
"I was planning on it, Parker."
"Okay, guys, I'll call you back after I get in touch with Robert."
He ended the call. I put my cell phone down on the coffee table.
Brandon called Cantana's and explained that he couldn't work that night. They were understanding about a family emergency. I could see the relief on Brandon's face when he ended that call.
When he got off the phone he just sort of sat there in a daze. I was enjoying the view. I was sitting across the coffee table from him, and I had an unobstructed view of his chest and groin because he hadn't even realized that his bathrobe was gaping open. His chest had broad, squarish pectorals and was densely covered with dark brown, almost black hair. Even his six pack abs were furry. The hair extended all the way down to his pubic bush without break. His circumcised dick was at least six inches long and two inches thick. It rested over the top of a furry scrotum containing two hen-sized eggs. Woof!
I was tempted to continue enjoying the show, but I knew Brandon would be embarrassed. "Uh, Brandon, why don't you finish your shower and get dressed?"
He nodded then gathered the robe in front of him and walked back into the bathroom. I don't think he ever realized he'd been flashing me.
When he rejoined me in the living area, he was wearing a long sleeved sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers.
"Would you tell me about how you got the scars on your back?"
"I'm pretty ugly aren't I?"
"Brandon, those scars are ugly, but you're not. I still care about you. You're still my friend. Seeing those scars hasn't changed that."
"Yeah, that's what the Army shrinks all said. They also said it would help to talk with someone. I couldn't talk it out with them."
He took a deep breath before beginning. "It was almost two years ago. We were stationed just outside of Bagdad. My buddy Rayvon and I were sitting in the shade of a Humvee at camp having lunch when a rocket propelled grenade hit the hummer.
"The RPG must have hit right in the fuel tank `cause I got burning diesel fuel splashed on my back. We always wore body armor when we went outside camp, but none of us had it on when we were in camp. That's where I got the scars. They're burns from the diesel fuel."
"What about your buddy?"
He looked at me then put his head down in his hands and started crying. I moved over next to him and hugged him into my chest. He struggled to regain his composure. He put one hand up to clasp the arms I had around him. I just held him.
When he was cried out, he sat back up on the couch.
"I'm sorry. I haven't done that in a long time."
"Everyone needs a good cry now and then."
A sudden thought flew across my consciousness. "Rayvon died, didn't he? And he was more than just a friend, wasn't he?"
His eyes welled up again. "Yes. Yes, to both. A piece of metal from the Humvee decapitated him. One minute we were sitting there talking about what we were going to do when we got out of the Army. In the next instant all that changed. I was on fire, and I was holding Rayvon's head in my hands."
He started crying again. This time I was crying too. We hugged each other even harder than before.
When the tears stopped, Brandon continued, "After the RPG attack, I was airlifted to Ramstein in Germany. From there, they flew me to Walter Reed up in Washington. I spent six months getting skin grafts and trying to heal."
"I'm sorry, Brandon. I know that was rough."
"It got rougher," he said darkly. "When I first got to Walter Reed, my parents flew in from Utah. I was barely coherent at that point. I had nightmares every night of holding Rayvon's head in my hands. I still have those dreams every once in a while, but not every night like then. I was an emotional basket case. My dad didn't understand. He kept telling me how proud he was of me...that I'd sacrificed for my country. Then one day he got mad, and told me to pull myself together. That I should be a man and stop grieving over the loss of `some ghetto gang banger'. I lost it. I told my parents that Rayvon and I had been in love. That we were planning on living together when we both got out of the Army. My dad started screaming and cussing. He said that he wouldn't have a cocksucker for a son. He made so much noise the MP's had to come and ask him to leave. Before he left he told me that he never wanted to see me again. He said he wished I'd died in the RPG attack."
"What about your mother?"
"She slapped my face and told me I was disgusting. I haven't talked with either of them since. They went back home and told all my brothers and sisters that I was queer. One of my older brothers even called me on the phone and yelled at me saying he couldn't understand how I could hurt Mom and Dad like that. How I hurt Mom and Dad?
"Bart's the only one who's kept in contact with me. We exchange emails almost everyday. It was a couple of months ago that he told me that he knew he was gay. Do you see why I have to get him out of there? Now that Dad knows or thinks he's gay, Bart's life would be hell out there."
"I understand. I know Parker and Robert will think of something to help. Brandon?"
"Why haven't you told me you're gay? I told you about us the very first day we met."
He hung his head. "I'm sorry. I should have said something, but I just wasn't ready to open up to anyone. I really hit an emotional rock bottom after my parents rejected me. There wasn't anyone I felt I could turn to or trust. I sure couldn't talk to the Army shrinks about it, and once I got out of the Army I just kept everything inside. I didn't open up to anyone."
I got down on my knees in front of him and grabbed hold of his hands. "Look at me. I'm your friend. The guys over in the apartments next door are your friends. Parker's your friend. Why didn't you open up to us?"
"I didn't want to face the rejection."
"Rejection? Why did you think we'd reject you?"
He took a deep breath. "I...I didn't want you to reject me. Because of the scars. I'm ugly."
I stood up and pulled him toward me in another hug. His face was pressed against my chest. "Brandon, I thought you were a great looking guy the first time I saw you. Remember when I tripped off the sidewalk? That was because I was looking at you as you were jogging. Later, when we got to know each other and I thought you were straight, I wanted to be friends with you because of who you are. I don't care that you've got scars on your back. It's the scars inside you that are making those marks on your back seem more important than they are."
He tightened his grip around my waist while I stroked his hair and neck.
We stayed like that for quite a while. It was the ringing of my cell phone that caused us to break the embrace.
I hit the speaker button.
Robert's voice came through. "Josh, Parker called me. Put me on speaker."
"You're already on."
"Good man. Brandon, are you there?"
"Brandon, we haven't met. My name's Robert Marquez, and I'm a friend of Parker's and Josh's. Parker told me that your brother's in trouble. I'm out in Salt Lake to broadcast the Jazz game tomorrow night. I can go get your brother and make sure he's okay."
"Mr. Marquez, I'd be very grateful if you could do that. Bart hasn't called back to tell me where he is. Please, Sir, whatever you do, don't take Bart back to my parents' house. Bart's gay. My dad just found out about it, and I'm afraid he'll do something to him if he goes back home."
"How old is Bart?"
"He turns eighteen at the end of the month."
"Good. That'll make it easier not to take him back home. Parker said that you want your brother to come live with you. Can you afford that?"
"I don't care what it costs. I want my brother here."
Robert's voice had a softer quality when he replied. "That was the right answer, Son. I'll take care of it out here. When you find out where your brother is, you call me back with the information. I'll go get him right away."
"Thank you, Mr. Marquez."
"Brandon, drop the Mr. Marquez bit. My name's Robert. I have a feeling that we'll be seeing each other fairly often from now on."
It wasn't more than two minutes after Robert hung up that Bart called.
Brandon got the name of the fleabag motel and the room number. Then he told Bart to stay where he was and that Robert would be by to pick him up.
We called Robert back and gave him the information.
"I'm on my way. It'll take me about half an hour to get over there. I'll call back when I've got him."
As soon as Robert was off the phone that time, I searched around Brandon's apartment for something to eat. It was well past suppertime, and I knew neither one of us had eaten. The man's tidiness in the apartment extended to his refrigerator. It was totally organized and neat as a pin. There also didn't seem to be much to make a meal out of in there.
I knew we had leftovers so I left my phone with Brandon and hightailed it back to my apartment to gather up some stuff to make supper.
Trey was sitting in the kitchen with Brian Barnes and Jonathan Pittman. I quickly explained what I was doing and why. The guys immediately jumped up and gathered stuff into a couple of bags then helped me carry the makings of the meal back over to Brandon's.
We all entered Brandon's apartment. He seemed a little surprised to see all of us coming in the door. Trey set his bag down on the kitchen counter and went over to Brandon and gave him a big bear hug.
"This is going to work out, Brandon. Robert will have your brother safe and sound in no time at all."
Brandon just nodded his head. Brian and Jonathan followed with hugs of their own.
Then they took over. They told me to go over and sit with Brandon while they put together a meal for us. I sat next to him and held his hand while the other guys worked in the kitchen. In no time at all there was a heaping plate of sandwiches, chips, and drinks on the coffee table.
The other guys sat on the floor across from us and ate their sandwiches. Trey told Brandon a little about how we'd come to know Robert Marquez, ex-NBA superstar and current network color commentator.
When we'd finished the sandwiches, the other guys cleaned up the place, gave Brandon and me another round of hugs, and left.
They were no more out the door more when my phone rang again. Brandon hit the speaker button.
"Brandon, it's Robert. I've got Bart. He's got a black eye, and his wrist is pretty swollen. I'm going to take him over to where my old team is staying. I want the trainers to take a look at his eye and wrist to make certain we don't need to get medical attention for him. Here's Bart."
"I'm here, Squirt. You're going to be okay now."
"Thank you, Brandon." Bart was crying. "I just know Dad would have killed me if I'd stayed there. Don't worry, I think my wrist is just sprained. I can move it, but it hurts. Here's Mr. Marquez again."
"Brandon, I'll call you when we find out something about Bart's wrist. Josh?"
"You did exactly the right thing by calling Parker."
"Thanks, Robert, I was kind of worried that you'd be upset with me for getting you involved."
"Son, don't you ever worry about that. I'll talk to you later."
He ended the call.
Brandon hugged me. "How can I ever thank you for helping out. I wouldn't have been able to get to Bart until sometime tomorrow at the earliest."
I hugged him back, "You can thank me by letting down your wall a little. I really like you, Brandon. I hope you feel the same way."
"I do. I was just afraid you'd find me repulsive."
I gently patted his cheek. "This is just the wrapping. This sags and wrinkles." I placed my hand on his chest. "It's what's inside the wrapping that really counts."
We held our embrace for what seemed like several minutes. Finally I released him.
"I want to hear about what it was like to grow up in Utah. I've never been there."
"And I want to hear about your mother and about Maxton and Carterville."
We spent the next couple of hours holding hands while he sat at one end of the couch and I sat facing him at the other. I learned about his family, his strict upbringing, his time on his mission service that all Mormon youth are supposed to be involved with, and a few of his experiences in the Army. In turn I told him about playing in the cotton fields at home, about discovering I was gay and telling my mother, about how her love for me never wavered, about her death, and about how Trey and TJ had been there for me when she died.
It was nearly midnight when my phone rang again. I checked who was calling and hit the speaker button.
"Hi, Josh. Is Brandon still there?"
"Good. One of the team trainers looked at Bart. He thought there might be a break in the wrist so we got the team physician to take a look. They did x-rays, and there is a break, but not a bad one. They fixed him up with a brace that he needs to wear for three weeks or so. Then he'll need to have another x-ray done to see how the bone is healing. Doc also took some photos of Bart's black eye and some other bruises, both new and old on his body. It looks like your dad's been beating up on Bart regularly. I think we've come up with a plan to get Bart out there to you in another couple of days, but until then he's staying with me.
"I'd let you talk with him again, but he was pretty tired out physically and emotionally. Doc gave him something, and he's sleeping like a baby up in the other room of my hotel suite. One of the assistant trainers is staying with him and will be there until he wakes up.
"I'll call you sometime tomorrow to let you know how the plan worked."
"Thanks again, Robert. I don't know what I can do to repay you for your kindness."
"This isn't something you pay for, Brandon. It's what friends do for friends. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
When the call was over, I stood up.
"Where are you going?"
"Back over to my place. It's late, and it's been a rough day."
"Would you stay over here with me tonight? I...uh...I'd really like it if you stayed."
"Okay, I'll stay."
"Would you sleep in my bed with me? We don't have to do anything. I...I'd just like to have you with me."
"And what if I want to do something?"
I swear his eyes turned from blue gray to pure blue in an instant. He grinned shyly. "Then I guess I'd better let you do what you want."
And I did.
We explored every inch of each other that night, first in the shower (Brandon had showered after our run earlier in the day, but I hadn't) and then in Brandon's bed. He was reluctant at first to have me run my hands along the scars on his back and arm, but my touches on other parts of his body soon made him willing to have me touch him anywhere. His penis was so big soft that I was sure he would be a shower instead of a grower like I am. Wrong! The man grew to nearly ten inches in length and three inches in diameter! I could hardly get my mouth around it. It was going to take a lot of practice, and I was hoping I'd get the practice. When he came, I thought I was going to drown. Yum!
Don't get the idea that it was all one sided that night. Brandon was very attentive to my needs also. I actually pumped two loads down his throat before we fell asleep in each other's arms.
(To be continued)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many of the characters who play parts in this story were previously introduced in either "When Love Comes" (last posted in the College section on Sept. 6, 2001) or "Love of a Lifetime" (last posted in the College section on May 19, 2003). While not necessary, readers may find it useful to read the two earlier stories posted on this site. Both previous stories are also posted at www.crvboy.com.
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