This is a work of fiction.  It will contain a few graphic scenes of gay sex.  If this is objectionable to or illegal for you, please do not read it. 

As with my other stories, which can be found under my name in the Prolific Authors section of Nifty, this work will contain only a little sex.  It deals principally with relationships and growing pains of young teens, and as sex is a part of most teen boys' lives, it is a part of this story.

This story is copyrighted by the author.  His permission must be obtained for any use of this story other than reading it on the Nifty Archive site

This story will be fairly long.  I will try to post chapters as rapidly as possible with the hope one can go up every other day.  I hope you find it entertaining.

My thanks are unlimited to those that helped me with this story.  You know who you are and your reluctance to have you names attached in any way to this work shows just how insightful you are, and why I respect your judgment to the degree I do.

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Cole Parker

Josh, Evolving

by  Cole Parker

Chapter 15

          From Chapter 14 -     Josh could see that Bryan was no longer light-hearted.  He didn’t know why, or why his mood had so quickly changed from playful to downcast, if that’s what it was, but he wanted to help.  Right now, just listening to whatever Bryan had to say was all he knew how to do.  He hoped it would be enough.

          “I’m sorry to kill your mood, Josh.  You’re so happy.  I love seeing you that way.  But I need to tell you more.  I’m sorry.”

          “Don’t worry about me, Bryan.  Just talk, if that’s what you need to do.  Go ahead.”

          “OK.  I stopped last time where I’d just got back into the baby clothes store.  I felt really excited.  It had worked.  I’d figured out a way to do that, and it had worked. 

          “I slipped inside and shut the door as quickly as I could.  The emotional change in a few seconds was amazing.  I'd been getting terrified when I was outside, terrified I was going to break the string, that I would be stuck outside, and then suddenly everything’s OK.  I was really relieved, and really excited.  I quickly made sure the store and office were empty.  They were.  Then I checked where I’d marked the boxes on the top shelf.  None of them had been moved.  That made me wonder a bit, and I took a couple of them down and opened them, curious what was inside. 

          “When I opened them, one had baby bibs, the other more blankets.  It was labeled “Receiving Blankets”, whatever that meant.  They just looked like more little blankets to me.  I was hoping, by looking at what was in them, I’d have some idea about when the boxes might be moved.  Seeing bibs and receiving blankets didn’t exactly clear up that question.

          “But I did know they hadn’t been moved.  That made me think maybe my stuff would be safe there.  Even if someone did reach up and take down a box, that didn’t mean my duffle bag would be seen.  The shelf was way higher than normal eye level, and I’d only seen women clerks.  None of them would be tall enough to be able to see the back of that shelf unless they stood on something.

          “I was feeling confidant.  So far, things had been working out pretty well for me.  I’d tried things that I’d never done before and, by thinking them through in advance, somehow they’d worked out.  That gives you confidence.  Well, it gave me confidence.  It made me feel pretty good.

          “I’d never been on my own before, never tried to survive mostly by my wits.  This was entirely new.  It was both scary and exciting.  The scary part was fading a little as I kept being successful.  I was gaining some confidence in myself.  That felt pretty good.”

          Bryan paused, then turned and looked at Josh.  “Josh, I’ve been telling you what happened sort of minute by minute, giving you a lot of detail.  I think I’ve wanted to relive this a little.  Up to now, things had been new, and exciting, and I’d been getting by and it seemed like some sort of adventure.  It was as though I had a lot going on, and most of it was working out.  But in the background, in my head, you have to realize there was this fear, this worry, and it never really went away.  My father was part of it, and the fact I was 14 and knew this wasn’t right, the way I was living, that was there in my head too.  I never was able to settle down completely and not worry.  I was eating a lot of hamburgers and junk like chips and fries and drinking mostly just pop and I’d never eaten like that before and my stomach felt funny a lot of the time.  I didn’t know if that was just nerves; it could have been, but it could have been food, and I just didn’t know.  Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, this might all sound really neat, but underneath, it wasn’t.  Underneath, I was a scared little boy who wanted to go home to Mommy.  And Mommy was dead.  And Dad had wanted to rape me.  And nothing made any sense, and I kept going between feeling I was on top of things to being scared shitless and I had no idea what was going to happen next.  I wasn’t really living day by day, it was more like by the minute, and the only time I felt I had it all together and was safe was when I was at school.

          “I guess what I’m saying is, when I got in that room that night, and I checked those boxes, what I did next, I’m not ashamed about.  What I did was, I sat in one of those chairs at the worktables and suddenly everything caught up to me.  It hit me and I cried.  I was sort of wiped out.   I sat down, and suddenly I was just overcome.  I’d been thinking I wouldn’t get into the room, that the string would break, and then I did get in, and then I realized, sitting alone in this room was what I was calling success, and looking around, realizing that this, this sort of messy shop storeroom, being by myself, being a little scared and not sure what was going to happen next, this was success for me.  Suddenly it all hit home.  I was illegally in the back room of some store, no one to call on to help me, sleeping on some blankets, having almost nothing at all going for me, and I was getting away with it, and that was a success.  I thought about other kids home in bed, with two parents that loved them, and I just lost it.  I cried, and the more I cried the harder I cried, and I couldn’t stop.  It wasn’t a good time for me, Josh.  I still remember how I felt.  It was about as bad as I can ever remember feeling.”                 

          Byan's voice was husky, and Josh, hearing the despair when Bryan was talking, and the emotion, had tears in his eyes as well.  He rolled over and put his arms around Bryan and hugged him, hard.

          Bryan hugged him back.  They held each other.  Somehow, they ended up flat on the bed, no longer up against the headboard.  They weren’t side by side.  Josh was almost on top of Bryan, but not entirely.  He was partially on his side, and they were squeezing each other.

          Eventually, Bryan relaxed.  When Josh felt that, felt his grip loosen, he eased up too.  Bryan wiggled a little, and Josh rolled off enough so Bryan could wriggle his way up against the headboard again. 

          “I’m sorry, Josh.  I got a little carried away there.”

          “You’re entitled.  Go on.”

          “OK.  I calmed down eventually.   I felt lousy, but at least I wasn’t sobbing any more.  But it made me realize again this wasn’t just a game.  I faced what was going on a little more squarely.  I realized I had to have some sort of plan.  I couldn’t just live like this indefinitely.  This had to be leading toward something.  I thought about it, thought about where I was going, and realized then that the only thing that made sense was to get back together with Dad.  I didn’t know if that were possible.  Or even if I wanted to.  I had real mixed feelings about that.  But I knew it was the best thing I could think of.  I wanted him to be the way he was before, and if he could be like that, and I could somehow forget what had happened and trust him again, and if all that could be, then maybe we could be living together.  But right now, all I wanted to do was go to sleep.

          “So, I fixed up a bed just like I’d done the night before.  Then I went to sleep.

          Bryan didn’t say anything else for a full minute.  Then he resumed by saying, “Josh, I can keep going with this, with how I felt every minute, with what I did, but I don’t want to do that.  I spent almost three weeks this way, sleeping in the store, going to school, doing homework in the mall, going through mood swings.  I guess I grew up a little.  After a couple weeks of this, I didn’t feel like I was 14 any longer.  I felt a lot older.  Anyway.  There were only three more important things about all this I need to talk about.  One, my father never called the school, and I never made an effort to call him.  There were lots of reasons for that.  I was scared, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what he’d say, and, well, there were lots of reasons and I don't even know if I could put some of them into words.  Like, how can I talk about whether being an insecure kid like I was had anything to do with how I felt?  But, anyway, number two, on the Friday night before I met you, my duffle bag was missing.  I haven’t seen it since then.  Three, well, I need to tell you about Eric.  First though, the duffle bag.

          “Friday nights the mall stayed open till 11.  Some of the stores still closed at 9:30 and the baby clothes store was one of those.  The mall itself was still open, and several larger stores, and the movie theater, of course.  I was tired and didn’t want to wait till 11.  I think I was burning a lot of nervous energy, or maybe it was what I was eating, but anyway, I always seemed very tired at night.  Anyway, I checked the alley and it was empty.  I’d got pretty fast with the door by now.  I opened it and went into the back room about 10, like usual.

          “I always checked the office first, just in case, then went to check the duffle bag, which by now was routine. 

          “And it wasn’t there.  I just stared for a moment.  I couldn’t believe it.  The boxes had all been moved, and the duffle bag was gone.  I didn’t know what to do.  It had all my stuff in it, all my clothes, my blanket, the breakfast food I’d been eating, some private stuff from home like a picture of my mother and some favorite books, my shampoo and toothbrush and towel and stuff like that.  And it was all gone.

          “I felt panicky.  I needed that stuff.  I couldn’t get by without some of those things, and didn’t have the money to buy new ones.  And then another thought occurred to me, what it meant, the duffle bag being gone.  It meant they knew I was here.  They knew someone was here. 

          “I almost ran out of the back door when I realized that.  But then, I knew I was alone here right now.  If they thought someone was sleeping here, wouldn’t they have someone watching, waiting to catch them?  No one was here but me.  So maybe they only knew they’d found a duffle bag.  They had no idea where it came from.  They didn’t know how long it had been there.  Maybe when they found it, they searched the store to see if someone were hiding there.  I didn’t know, but it didn’t seem to have occurred to them that someone was sleeping there at night, and that was his stuff in the bag.

          “I thought that probably I should find a new place to sleep, just to be safe, but that didn’t seem so important right then.  Right then, I was having to swallow the loss of that bag, and as that truly sunk in, it sort of overwhelmed me.  That stuff was all I had to get by with, and to remind me of home, and I really felt empty and lost without it.  It was all my stuff.  And it was gone.

“I’d broken down a couple weeks earlier.  I didn’t now, but I may have felt almost as bad.  This really, really hurt.  I thought about just giving up.  Going to talk to someone.  I thought about Dr. Collins.  I didn’t really know him, but he seemed nice and other kids said he was.  But there was something else inside me too, something that made me want to stick it out.  I’d had other problems and solved them.  I had a little bit of pride in me that made me want to work through this, to keep going until I absolutely couldn’t any longer.  Even though I felt terrible about losing the bag, I hadn’t reached that point yet, and I knew it.  I also knew now, I had to get some money.  I had to buy new stuff, new clothes, toiletries, whatever I needed, and food also.  I had to get some money.

“Instinctively, I knew I couldn’t steal it.  I’d tell someone about my problems before I’d do that.  That’s not who I am.

          “But another way to make money occurred to me.  I didn’t like it either, but I was desperate and I knew I had to do something.  This was all happening at once.  I had run out of money the day before so the only food I’d had today was at lunch, and I couldn’t afford a lunch ticket for next week, and I still had the weekend in front of me.  I’d lost everything else I had, and I could only think of one way to make some money pretty quickly.

          “There were always lots of kids at the mall.  Lots of teenagers.  Teenage boys are horny.  All the time.  You ask any teen boy if he’d like a blowjob, what are they going to think?  ‘Bet your ass I do.’  That’s what they’re going to think.   And some of them would be willing to say it out loud.  And, more importantly, pay for it, if the offer was there.  I was sure of that.  I’m a teenager.  I understand about horny, about thinking about blowjobs, about wondering what one would be like.  And I know a lot of those guys have money and can get it from their parents whenever they want it.  So I decided if I had to have money, I knew what to do to get it.  And I had to have money.

“OK, I have to go back again now.  I’ve just been talking about that Friday night.  I told you a moment ago I needed to tell you about Eric.  He was part of this from the beginning.  I told you already about meeting him that first day, and that we weren’t really friends.  He was a guy I knew.  Then he gave me money.  He knew I was having a major problem, but didn’t push me to tell him what it was.  He would come up to me every day at school, after that first lunch, and ask if I were all right.  His eyes told me a lot, more than anything else.  He cared.  He’s special, Josh.  He’s a special guy.  And he kept giving me more money.  If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to eat.  He gave me more.  And I didn’t even ask for it.  I didn’t ask, he somehow knew, and he gave it to me.  He kept me going.  He was so kind.  I didn’t really know him, and he was doing this for me.”

          Bryan voice was breaking when he said this, and then he was crying. 

          “Bryan!  Stop.  If this is too hard, stop.”

          “No.  I’m OK.  Give me a sec.  I need to do this.”

          Bryan shuddered, then gasped a couple times, and then calmed down.  He was silent for a while, then started again.

          “It was like, I’d use his money to eat, then run out, and somehow he could sense that I hadn’t eaten that day, and he’d give me more.  I don’t know how he knew, but he knew.  And he didn’t say anything.  He just gave me the money and walked away.

          “I can’t tell you how that made me feel.  I was so grateful, and I hated myself for taking it, and I was humiliated, and I felt so thankful, and, well, I was mixed up.  But each time he gave it to me, I hated it more, but took it.  I have a lot of pride, Josh, but it's hard to keep it when you're hungry.  Every time I was hungry, he'd give me money, and I was too weak to refuse it, but I hated it.  And every time he gave me more, it hurt a little more and I grew stronger in thinking I had to stop taking his money.  I was reaching a point where I couldn’t let him do it any more.  I couldn’t.  It was charity, and why should he do it, and what did it say for me?  It said I was willing to take charity rather than somehow solve my own problems.  The more I allowed him to bail me out, the worse I felt.  And more grateful.  It was awful.  I can’t explain it, Josh.  But I knew it couldn’t continue.  I couldn’t let it.  It was eating me up.

          “But what could I do?  I needed money to eat.  Most everything else, I’d figured out a way to do it.  But I had to eat, and that took money.  I couldn’t get a job.  I’m not old enough and didn’t have the time and don’t have any skills and didn’t even have access to my birth certificate and, well, I couldn’t.  I thought about it, even turned in an application where they hire kids, but, I couldn’t.

          “But I finally decided, I couldn’t take any more money from Eric.  I felt awful about the money he’d already given me.  I tried to tell him that and almost broke down, and I hate that.  I hate crying.  Somehow, you’re the only one I can cry in front of that I don’t feel like a complete and total loser.  I don’t understand that, but it’s true.  Not that I like it, I don’t, but it doesn’t destroy me like it does with other people.  I don’t get it, but it’s true.  It just is.

          “Anyway.  I had got to a point where I had all this gnawing at me.  I had run out of money on Friday.  It was part of why I felt so shaken that the duffle bag was missing.  I was going to eat the rest of my crackers that night.  But it wasn't there.  I was out of money, and then suddenly out of everything.  I slept that night, and then it was Saturday.  And I decided, finally.  I knew how I was going to get money to replace the stuff I’d lost, and how to get money to eat.  I was going to tell Eric I wasn’t going to take any more of his money.

I met Eric at the mall, and he knew I was hungry.  I don’t know how.  He knew.  Eric had come and found me.  We were at the food court.  He wanted to buy me lunch.  I wouldn’t let him, though you can't imagine how hard that was because I was so hungry.  I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before.  He tried to give me money.  I refused.  Somehow I knew that if I gave in I never would be able to stop taking his money, and it felt if I did that, I'd be giving up a part of me that I refused to give up.  So I said no.  We were arguing about it.  He asked me how I was going to eat.  I told him I’d figured it out.  I was going to get money the only way I could.  I was going to do sex things with other kids, and get money for it.  I hadn’t planned to tell him.  We were both angry.  That's the only reason I told him.  I didn’t tell him about the duffle bag.  Somehow I couldn’t.  I thought if I started talking about that, I’d break down.  But we argued, I got angry and told him I was going to sell sex, hand jobs, blowjobs, whatever they wanted, to teenagers.”

          Josh felt he had to say something, had to comment on this, and sat up to do so, but stopped himself.  He didn’t know why, but something stopped him.  He sank back down, and was quiet.

          Bryan stopped.  Then he turned and looked at Josh, a look on his face that combined pain and embarrassment and innocence. 

          Josh looked up at Bryan, and awareness suddenly made his eyes go wide.  “That’s why you approached my table!  You came over to proposition me!”

          Bryan looked down at the bed.  He couldn’t have met Josh’s eyes if his life depended on it.  He felt very, very small.   Tears began trickling down his face.

          Josh had turned away and so didn't notice the tears.  Josh wasn’t thinking about embarrassment at all.  The situation seemed strange to him, very weird and exciting.  Anything but embarrassing.  The remnants of the feelings he had had all day remained with him.  He’d been euphoric only minutes ago, and though he realized Bryan was going through a traumatic emotional moment and he empathized with him, he himself couldn’t completely forget his wonderful day.  He was still on a high.  And then, this.  This was thrilling and intimate and sexy and like nothing he’d ever thought about.  Bryan was feeling the despair of the decision he’d made.  Josh was thinking of all the other aspects.  He was immediately thinking of the various permutations of the situation, thinking of the possibilities, and a smile formed on his lips.  Then he realized Bryan wasn’t saying anything, and noticed his discomfort, even if not the extent of his emotions.   Bryan had turned his head so his tears couldn't be seen.

          Josh was too keyed up over the entire situation to look at the situation from Bryan’s perspective, and so wasn’t able to be the least bit comforting.  Instead, he was able to allow his exuberance to have free rein.

          “So what were you going to do?  How had you decided to play it?  Let’s see, you sat down and started talking to me.  But you didn’t say anything like what you were thinking.  Why not?  Why didn’t you just say, ‘Hey, kid, you want a blowjob?  $20 bucks!’ ”

          Now Bryan was really feeling uncomfortable.  He’d just shared with Josh a terribly emotional ordeal he’d experienced, but Josh was in his own world, oblivious.  He’d never even thought about something like this.  Bryan was remembering the reality of the situation.  To Josh, it was all a fantasy.  A wonderful, sexy fantasy.

          “I wonder what I’d have said.  I’d have been shocked and probably just blushed.  But no, maybe not.  Maybe I’d have looked at you and said, ‘$20, huh?  Is it worth that?  Are you sure you can give me my money’s worth?  I’m a pretty discriminating shopper, you know.’  I’d have looked at you and told you I’d have to have references.  I’d have asked, ‘How am I to know whether it’s worth $20?  Maybe it should be worth only $15.  Or maybe $12.37.’ ”

         He giggled, then blushed.  “I probably would have asked for a free sample, just to see whether it was going to be worth the money!”

         Josh gushed on.  Bryan was going through a strange feeling of catharsis.  He’d been close to the edge today.  He’d felt overwhelming guilt, wrestling with Josh on the lawn and experiencing the feelings that generated, then hearing Josh praise him, as though he were this super kid who kept helping him. Whose every act did wonderful things for Josh.  He’d heard that and, out of respect for Josh, for their friendship, knew he couldn’t keep his shameful secret any longer.  He’d preached honesty as the basis of a strong friendship to Josh; now it had been his turn to come clean, to be honest.  So, he’d told him.  But Josh was not acting as he expected.  He didn’t know what he’d expected, but it certainly wasn’t this.  Humor?  Parody?  This was ridiculous!  How could Josh be making light of this?  Bryan felt he was a terrible human being, someone low enough to be willing to sell himself, to engage in sex acts for money.  How could a kid do anything worse, be so immoral and disgusting than that?  And why couldn't Josh see that, see just how terrible Bryan was?

         Josh wasn't reacting like that at all, though,  Josh seemed to have entered a fantasy world.  And what was even stranger, as Bryan listened, he could feel his own attitude changing.  He'd been so worried that when Josh found out how dirty and disgusting he was, he'd want no more to do with him.  At the very least, he'd regard him in a much different manner.  But that wasn't Josh's reaction at all.  Josh was simply ignoring all that.  Josh was making light of it.  Josh was having fun with it!

         Bryan couldn’t help it.  He was losing his feeling of embarrassment, of humiliation, as Josh rambled on.  Bryan had being thinking of how horrible he was, someone who had no moral fiber at all, one who would be willing to perform blowjobs for money.  What could be worse than that?  How could he hold his head up, when anyone knew?  That’s what he’d been feeling.  And Josh wasn’t seeing that at all.  Josh was totally ignoring that.  Bryan didn’t understand, but the more Josh enjoyed the situation he was playing with in his fantasy, the more Josh kidded and teased about it, Bryan actually found himself being swept up into Josh’s fantasy.  Seeing Josh so excited, seeing how much he was enjoying this imaginative scenario, how he seemed to have no feeling at all about how corrupt a person Bryan was, such a morally unworthy, low scum of a person who would attempt to proposition him, the sting of his embarrassment, his emotional angst, simply began to evaporate. 

His mood lightened.  Hesitantly, he began to play along.

“$12.37?  You think I’d blow anyone for $12.37?  Hell, I wouldn’t even rub their crotch for that, let alone give them a blowjob.  Besides, you think I'd give some kid a blowjob, then have to make change?  Or tell them up front, like a bus driver, 'Exact change only, please.'  No, I was going to insist on $20.  Now of course, for you, you’re kind of small you know, so maybe I could of worked on some sort of discount.  Guys with big schlongs, that would probably take more effort on my part.  More work.  Little guys like you, I’d guess it isn’t as much work.”

          Bryan had a big grin on his face, much of it due to the relaxation of feelings he’d experienced, and he reached over and poked Josh in the ribs, trying to tickle him.  He knew he was taking a chance, saying what he said.  He’d seen how Josh reacted in the dressing room to personal teasing.  But Josh was in a happy, teasing mood himself, and Bryan wanted to play with him about this.  It was a lot easier than being too serious.  It actually was a huge relief.  A welcome one.

          “Hey, how do you know I don’t have a big one?  I think I’m probably a $25, maybe even a $30 dollar customer!”

          “Yeah, fat chance!  We’re the same age and about the same size, Josh, and I sure don’t have a big one.  About ordinary, from what I’ve seen after gym.”

          Josh normally would have been too embarrassed to talk about anything like this, but he was feeling very comfortable right now, and a little daring, and Bryan's dark mood seemed to have brightened.  He’d never had anything like an intimate conversation relating to sex with another boy, he felt a special closeness to Bryan, and he was enjoying this immensely.

          “Well, I guess you’ll never know.  You chickened out on making your sales pitch!”

          Bryan could easily have had his mood revert back, realizing that in fact he didn’t really chicken out, his talk with Josh had simply not gone as he’d expected it to, he’d been too nervous and his resolve hadn't so much failed him as Josh's invitation had come before he was ready.  Too, he’d found himself warming to Josh and Josh had been so kind to him that the whole propositioning thing just ended up not happening.  He’d started telling his story and found he couldn’t stop, that he desperately needed to tell it to someone.  And, he thought, he’d been unbelievably lucky things had worked out better for him than he ever could have dreamed.  He didn’t let himself start thinking about the depressing side of this, what hadn’t happened.  What in fact had happened was all positive.

            He was enjoying the current line of conversation, however, and wanted it to continue.  “Yeah, you’re right, I’ll never know, but think how lucky I am: I didn’t have to look at that thing!”

          “You don’t know what you’re missing!” said Josh, his cocky talk surprising himself more than it did Bryan.

          Both boys started laughing, and then Bryan reached over and began tickling Josh, who responded by attacking Bryan, rolling over on top of him and trying to pin his arms.  Bryan was laughing too hard to effectively fight back but was able to wiggle onto his side.  The boys wrestled around on the bed until finally Bryan ended up on top.  He pinned Josh’s arms up above his head, in the process lowering his face so it was only about a short distance over Josh’s.  The two boys were suddenly looking in each other’s eyes.  Both stopped laughing, and Josh stopped squirming.  They stared at each other for a good 30 seconds.  They each saw emotions, complicated emotions, emanating from the other.

          Bryan suddenly rolled off and leaned up against the headboard.  Josh paused, then hunched himself up so he was against the headboard too, his upper arm against Bryan’s.  Neither boy spoke for a while.  Then, eventually, Bryan did.

         “Josh, why aren't you disgusted.  I just told you what I was going to do.  It doesn't seem to bother you at all.  It was eating me up for the past couple days, knowing what I'd been about to do.  I know what I am, what I was going to do, and now you do, too.  Why isn't it bothering you?”

          Josh looked over at Bryan, collecting his thoughts.  “Bryan, I haven't known you very long, but I know you pretty well.  You're the nicest, kindest, most caring kid I've ever known.  You think I'm going to forget about that because you were desperate and decided you had t do something, but then didn't even do it?  Bryan, even if you had done it, that wouldn't have changed the way I feel about you.  You remember how you said Eric was special?  I've met him, and you're right, he's special.  But he isn't half, not even a quarter as special as you are.  You might have a bad feeling about yourself, but you're wrong if you do.  And I sure don't.  I can't tell you exactly how I feel about you.  It's too embarrassing.  But what you just told me sure doesn't change anything.”

       He stopped, and there was silence for a minute.  Then Josh spoke again, his voice softer this time, less assertive.  But he didn’t look at Bryan when he did.  His eyes were straight ahead, his voice soft and hesitant.

          “Bryan, can you tell me?  Why me?  Why did you choose me to ask?  You said you decided you were going to pick someone.  You said you were arguing with Eric, he didn’t want you to do this, but you had decided you had to do it anyway, and you were going to choose someone.  That’s the argument I was watching, wasn’t it?”

          Bryan didn’t like where this was going, but didn’t see how he could just not answer, and he certainly didn’t feel he could lie to Josh now.  “Yeah, he was really unhappy with me.”

          “So that means, after he left, you chose me.  That means you’d never done this before.  I was the first.  Why me?”