Greetings! Here are the legal notices. If you are not of the minimum age required by laws where you live, leave this site! If you are, please donate to Nifty and help keep it going. The author retains all rights and hereby grants to Nifty the rights defined in the submissions page. Copyright 2005. The author is Andrew van Ryan. Authors note: To those of you who wrote and asked "Is that the same Jackson Browne?" . Yes and remember his lyric "Sixty five I was seventeen, and running up one o one....". Yep, he was seventeen and a student at Sunny Hills High School. One o one is a reference to hiway 101, Pacific Coast Hiway, which will be mentioned further on in my story. Oh, and that's Rosemary Butler singing backup on "Running on Empty". Small world, huh? To everyone who has taken the time to e-mail me, I would like to say thanks! It keeps me writing and encouraged to share these bits and pieces from my diaries. Keep the comments coming! Thank you all!

That said, let's continue with my story!

It's a boys' life!

by Andrew van Ryan

copyright 2005

Part 11

         I don't recall falling asleep, but I know I cried until I did. I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing and stumbled to the den to answer. It was Norm and we ended up talking for nearly two hours. At one point, I heard his mother ask "is that a girl you're talking to?" I laughed as he explained it was me. "Oh" she remarked. "I thought it might be a girl from the way you were talking."  That was a sobering remark and he quickly changed the course of the conversation to something less mushy sounding. It worried both of us that she'd been eavesdropping. I hoped Norm wouldn't get the 'twenty questions' routine from her when we got off the phone. After talking with Norm I felt better, but still let down over how I'd blown it with Matt. I had no more than hung up with Norm when the phone rang again and it was Matt. Hearing his voice made my heart flutter and I'm sure I was blushing, for no other reason than hearing his voice. He and I talked about what happened that day and what we expected school to be like on Tuesday.

         "You and Norm coming over tomorrow, right?" he asked.

          "Yep, what time?" I answered.

          "Around three, I guess." he said and paused for a moment. "Andy, is something wrong?"

          "No, not really, but..." I paused.

          "But you're in love with me, right?" he said, answering his question for me.

          "How did you know?!"

       He didn't answer my question, instead I heard him shout.

          "I knew it! Finally, you admit it! Andrew loves Matthew!" he chanted, nearly screaming into the phone.
          "Uh, Matt." I interrupted."Aren't you forgetting something?"
          "What? Norman and Paul?"

          "Yeah!" I replied with a huff.

          "Andy, you trust me, right?"

          "Of course I do!"

          "OK," he began. "Then don't say or do anything about being in love with me until the end of September. Please?"

          "Why?" I asked.

          "Just trust me on this. I'll all work out in a few weeks, but you gotta give it time, Just remember to keep this to yourself, and whatever you do, don't tell anyone, especially Norm or Paul."

          "I don't follow you, Matt." I said, feeling confused and wondering about his confident tone.

          "It's simple, Andy. We'll be at one school, and they'll be at another. If I'm right, they will hook up and that will leave you and me to get together." he explained, and then added "At last!"

          "So, you want me to be your boyfriend?" I asked, feeling the need for some reassurance.

          "Duh!" he huffed at me. "You know I do!"

            "Yeah." I giggled. "I just like hearing you say it!"

            "OK, then hear this!" Matt said nearly shouting. "I love you, Andy van Ryan!"

            "And I love you, Matthew Robertson!" I cried into the phone. With that said, my tears began falling again. Only this time they were tears of joy!

       Matt and I talked for a little over an hour, until his mom said it was time to get off the phone. I checked the clock and it read 9:00 pm, so I decided to take a shower and go to bed. I had no more than got my clothes off when a strange sound caught my ear. I had barely heard it and wasn't sure just what it had been, but it had sounded like a scream. A womans scream. I pulled on my robe and opened the bathroom door to listen again. I strained to hear but there was nothing.
       As I turned to close the door, I heard it again and It was a scream! I rushed to the pantry and grabbed the flashlight my mother kept inside on a shelf. Once I found it, I walked through the kitchen to the back porch, which seemed to be where the sound was entering the house. I stopped in front of the screen door which led out into the back yard and was about to flip the switch on the flashlight when I heard it again, only this time it was right in the yard! And it wasn't a woman screaming. It was a cougar!
       I jumped backward, dropping the light and nearly tripping over my own feet as I ran into the kitchen and slammed the door shut. Straight to my dads' gun room I went, where I grabbed the first gun I saw. Unfortunately, it was his Parker over and under twelve gauge, with dual triggers. I reached into his hunting vest, which was hanging on the back of the door, grabbed two shells, quickly loaded both barrels and made a hasty return to the back porch. I flung open the screen door, shouldered the gun and pulled not one, but both triggers. The resultant blast certainly scared off the mountain lion, but it also knocked me backwards. I flew into the wall opposite the doorway, causing a loud thud when my head collided with the bricks, knocking me out cold.

          "Andy! Andy, dear! Wake up!" i heard my grandma shouting, only she sounded far away compared to the ringing noise in my ears. As she continued to call my name, I became aware that she was shaking me, too.

          "Huh?" I asked with a dazed voice. "Grandma?"

           "Come on Honey, sit up." she instructed. She helped by pulling on my arm gently, and I gradually got to a sitting position.

          "What happened?" I asked while rubbing the sore knot on the back of my head.

          "I was going to ask you that question." she answered. "I heard a gun from all the way over at my house. I rushed down here and found you lying here with the shotgun over there."
    She pointed to dads parker, lying on the tile floor where I'd dropped it as I flew backward. I could see that it had a huge scratch on the stock and a gouge in the metal receiver.

          "Oh, no!" I shouted, trying to get up. I was stopped by the sudden ache in my head and fell back against the wall. "Dad's gonna kill me!"

    `      "Just what were you doing with his shotgun anyway?" she asked rather pointedly. I rubbed my head, then remembered.

           "There was a cougar in the back yard!" I cried. "It was gonna eat me!"

          "Mountain Lion?!" Grandma exclaimed. "Come on, lets get in the house."
    Mountain lions were rare these days, but they would still come down out of the hills to find water whenever the weather was dry. I'd seen them before, but never had I seen one in our backyard! Grandma was helping me up when I became aware of the pain in my left shoulder. Since I'm left handed, I'd held the gun against my left shoulder when I fired it. Now I could feel where the impact had bruised me. Grandma got me inside, locked the kitchen door and led me to the sofa in our living room.

          "OK, lie down and let me see that shoulder." she instructed. I gingerly removed my shoulder from the robe and as I did, I gasped. It was already black and blue from the top to about an inch above my nipple. You could even make out where the grooves in the stock plate contacted with my young flesh. I groaned when she lightly touched me and cried out when she put pressure on my skin.

          "Well, you don't look to have a broken collar bone, but you sure are bruised to hell and gone!" she announced with her usual way of explaining things. I would have grinned under other circumstances, but all I could do was moan lightly.

          "OK, I'm going to make you up a bed right here on the sofa and stay with you until your folks get home."

       Grandma did as she said and stayed until my folks got home a little after midnight. Les arrived home only a few moments after them and so they all entered the house at the same time. I awoke to the sounds of excited voices. My mind cleared enough to hear my dad speaking.

          "Well, I'll go see if he hit the damn cat."
          "Please be careful." My mother begged.

          "Probably missed it, anyway." Les added.

       My dad glanced over just as I opened my eyes.

          "Hello, sport!" he greeted me. "So you shot a mountain lion, did you?"

          "I don't know if I hit it." I said, rubbing my head. "The gun knocked me down."

       Dad gave me an inquiring look before heading into the kitchen. He found where Grandma had set the flashlight when she'd retrieved it and took it outside with him. Within a few moments we heard him call out.

          "OK, Andy! Come on out here, you got him!"

       I was surprised as hell, and got right up. I raced to meet him at the back door, where I noticed him smiling just a bit too widely. Dad told everyone else to stay inside and took me outside with him. We crossed the backyard to where just a few days before he'd dug a small pit for our vegetable scraps. Shinning the light at the edge, the form of a small animal came into view, one that had definitely been blown away by the shotgun blast. I gazed at it knowing it wasn't a cougar, but not recognizing it as anything it'd ever seen before. Looking something like a cross between a raccoon and a large house cat, with a long pointed snout and a thin cat like tail.

          "What the hell is it?" I questioned. My dad laughed a bit, shaking his head.

          "It's a coati mundi." he replied. "Probably eating these cantaloupe rinds." I looked up at him with a puzzled expression.

          "But I heard it scream!" I said. "How could this thing make that sound?"

          "Oh, they scream alright." Dad stated. "Sounds like a woman getting murdered."

          "Oh, no." I groaned. "You mean I broke your shotgun because of this?"

          "You broke my shotgun?" Dad asked. "No one told me you broke my gun. Which gun was it?"
     I looked at my feet in the dark, hoping he wouldn't yell.

          "The Parker..." I mumbled.

    Dad didn't yell. He just turned and looked back towards the house. Returning his attention to me he made a motion for me to follow and set out back across the yard. I followed at his heels, head down and silent. When we reached the porch he gazed about, spotting the shotgun leaning in a corner where Grandma had moved it.

          "Go on inside, Andy." he said calmly. "I'll be right in."

    He didn't look too happy as he began to inspect his prized duck hunting weapon, so I padded into the house to join my Mother and Grandma. I was glad to see Mom had sent Les to his bedroom. Last thing I wanted to hear at that point was him giving me shit about anything.

    When dad finally entered the living room, he looked at me and sighed.

          "I'll be able to restock the gun, Andy. The scratch can be re-blued as well, but how badly did you hurt yourself?" he asked. I was surprised by this, since neither my Grandma or I had said anything about me getting hurt. He noticed me hesitate, so he spoke up.

          "Look here." he said, and handed me two empty shells. I took them and immediately knew why I'd been launched across the porch. The were marked "Magnum Load". I looked at dad as he continued. "Both shells were fired, so I guess you pulled both triggers, right?"

    I merely nodded my head.

          "OK, so lets' see the bruises." he said and so I slowly slipped my robe off the one shoulder.

          "Ewwhh! Jesus, Andy!" he cried, looking at the black and blue marks. "This is why I've told you over and over again that guns are not to be played with!"

          "I wasn't playing!" I protested.

          "I know, I know son." he said shaking his head. "But you know the rules. This means you're going to be on restriction tomorrow. I have to punish you, even if it's just for one day."

          "But it's the last day of vacation!" I protested.

          "And that's why it's a punishment. I don't want you to fire any of our guns without me being with you ever again, and never fire one off inside the city limits. It's against the law, now." he stated. "Do you understand me?"

          "But Dad!" I started, then saw the look on his face change. I knew it was time to stop pushing it.

          "OK, I'm sorry." I muttered. "Can I go to bed now?"
    Dad nodded his approval and I quickly made my retreat. Passing Les' room, I could hear him giggling. He may have been in his room, but he'd obviously heard the conversation between dad and I.

          "Prick" I said as I passed his door. He immediately quit laughing, so I scurried into my room and quickly locked the door behind me. This really sucked. Tomorrow was the last day of vacation and I was grounded. I wouldn't get to see Matt or Norman and I wouldn't get to participate in the activities of the afternoon sex club!


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