DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account involving teenage boys, some of who are gay and trying to cope with love and homophobia in the American Midwest. Limited sexual activity takes place in this story and there are references to gay sex, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. With a few very obvious exceptions, all characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. Conversations with real individuals are strictly hypothetical and not meant in any way to imply an actually conversation that has taken or might take place. Although the senator in this story bears a strong resemblance to Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the suggestion that he has a gay grandson is pure conjecture. Although the story takes place in actual locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real individuals or religious establishments, governmental nor school or corporate policies. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.

Please note that this is the nineteenth in a series of short stories known collectively as Naptown Tales. The series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey's World. Please see the Introduction for important background on the series.

Spring Break

A Naptown Tale in Five Parts

by Altimexis & David of Hope

Part Two
Our Trip Begins - Cliff

Sometimes it's hard to stop thinking about what was. When I lived with my parents, things were happy. Sitting here on this jet, flying to Washington D.C. with my friends reminded me of the time my folks took to me to Disney World - I guess I was eight. What a great holiday that was!

Doc says it's OK to remember the good stuff. My buddy Sammy, sitting here beside me, sees him too. Doc's our `head' man. We both need him, Sammy more than me I guess, cause he didn't have the happy times at home for twelve years. I'd only been without family for two years before the Kimball's fostered me.

My folks died two years after that trip to Disney World in a car accident and my world started crashing.

I was taken into Children's Services and a group home. For the first time in my life, I found out what it was like to be an orphan. `Cliff Daniels - an orphan.' I was hurting bad. After a few weeks at the group home, I was placed in a foster home with some nice enough folks, but they were old and it just wasn't Mom and Dad.

Then last summer came along and Children's Services had me sent to a Christian Camp for a few weeks. That was the first time I'd met Sammy. At first, he seemed like a happy kid, but after a while, he became moody - always with a concerned look on his face. I met Kurt and Trevor that summer too. They were two of the greatest junior camp councilors there. They taught us a lot of good things.

Then I met Gary. My life quickly took another crash when he forced Sammy and me to have sex with him and each other while he taped the whole thing, but that's some of the bad stuff that Doc says I shouldn't think about. He wants me to remember the good things when I'm not in his office - that way, it's easier to deal with the day-to-day bits of life that we have to deal with, like school and family things.

After Sammy and Kurt exposed Gary for the pervert he was, I was taken out of the camp and put back in the group home. I never saw my foster family again. I saw Sammy at the group home once in a while, but we didn't want to talk about anything that had gone on, so we kinda avoided each other except to say `Hi' once in a while. He still had a dismal, forlorn look on his face.

I wasn't back at the group home more than two days before they took me to a clinic and had a whole bunch of blood tests done on me. After that, I was asked to have a session with the head doc. He was great, he understood and, slow but sure, he was making me understand. Just when I was on the way up head-wise, he hit me with the bomb. I was HIV positive. That was the crash I had a hell of a time dealing with, but he assured me I wasn't going to die from it, at least not for a lot of years to come.

He introduced me to Doc Jacobs, or Rick, as he liked to be called, and he put me on a regimen of pills that I couldn't believe. Thank God he wrote it all out so I could remember what pills to take when, and how many. He said that I could ignore the directions on the bottle, just make sure I had the right bottle and go by the numbers and times that he gave me on the sheet. He said I had about a two-hour window for the time to take them, but the number of pills had to be exact.

Then one day, Sammy was gone! I know we didn't talk a lot, but we had something in common - we'd both survived Gary. It was like we had a silent friendship of understanding. I had a few tears when I told Doc the next day. He told me that Sammy had been fostered into a nice home and that some day soon, the same would probably happen to me. I sure wasn't getting my hopes up.

At my next session with Doc, I walked into his waiting room, I saw Sammy, Kurt, and Trevor together with two other guys and four adults. Sammy walked up to me and without a word, held out his hand and as I took it in mine, he pulled me into a hug. We had a few tears.

Trevor did the same and said, "Cliff, it's good to see ya again."

Then it was Kurt's turn. "Cliff, we got good news."

Doc came out of his office, put a hand on my shoulder, and introduced me to the Kimballs. Jeremy was cool and so were his folks, although when they spoke, they sounded kinda highbrow. They wanted to become my foster parents. ME! Jeremy introduced me to David, his boyfriend, who was real cool, and Sammy introduced me to his new folks.

The next twenty-four hours were a bit of a blur. All of a sudden I had a family that lived in a huge mansion and a bunch of friends that in reality, used to be just acquaintances. More than just my friends, they were my best friends. Within forty-eight hours, it was hard to remember how unhappy I was at the group home. That's what Doc was getting at - fill my head with the good stuff and there'd be no room in there for the bad stuff.

Jeremy was great. I'd never had a brother before. He didn't act gay except for maybe when his boyfriend David came over, then you knew they were gay, but not in a girly sort of way. I guess I was shy the first time they hugged me, but it wasn't long before I realized they did it for my comfort. There was nothing sexual in it.

Carlotta - what a special lady! The first time she saw me she hugged me and said, "Cliffy, un muchacho tan lindo, pero tan ligeramente. ¡Apenas usted espera, yo le conseguirá reforzado!" [Cliffy, such a cute boy, but so thin. Just you wait, I'll get you beefed up!]

I didn't know what she'd said, but her voice reminded me of my Mom. Over the months I'd been with the Kimballs - well, my new family - she made me happy and was always feeding me special treats after school.

The first day at school, I met David's brother, Brad. He was really cool - he liked everyone and he knew how to handle people. He was a real cool dude. When I saw Sammy at school that first day, he had his school bud with him, Paul. Charmer! Downs Syndrome and all - he was a real charmer. I liked him right away. Putting it all together, I started to feel like my old self again - everyone I'd lost in those crashes had been replaced by all these special friends and new relatives. I was happy almost all the time.

Now here we are sitting on this airplane. I looked across from the aisle seat - Paul had his face glued to the window and Sammy was working on his laptop beside me. When the flight started, Sammy had the window seat, then I had it for a while, and now we were looking at the back of Paul's head as we headed into Washington. This had been Paul and Sammy's first flight and they were ecstatic.

"Hey Cliff," Sammy said as he nudged my arm. "What's this mean?" he asked turning his laptop screen in my direction. I looked at the screen and the symbol he was pointing at. It was a math problem with a `>' symbol after the figure.

"It means the number before the symbol is greater than." I answered. It was hard to believe that he was studying while we on spring break, miles above the earth in a jet on our way to Washington D.C. "Sammy, we're on spring break, you don't have to do school work while we're on holidays."

"Yeah I do." he replied as he concentrated on the screen. "I. . . I gotta get caught up ta all you guys and I wanna get into that advanced program that Ms. Perkins told me about. I got so much catchin' up ta do. I ain't as smart as you, but I wanna be some day."

"Sammy, you're smarter than me, you just didn't get a chance to learn all the stuff I have." I said. "I can tell, you learn a lot of stuff faster than I do."

I really thought that was true because of the stories that Sammy would tell us during lunch about what it was like to be brought up, more or less on your own. Many evenings when his mother wasn't home, he'd wander the streets. He learned a lot from those down-and-out homeless people. He knew how to play practical jokes on the unsuspecting. Privately, he told me how he knew how to weasel money from some of them that weren't too swift. He said he only did that when he needed something to eat. By the time Sammy was eleven, he said he was a pretty good judge of character and knew whom to avoid, or not to back down from someone if he was in a situation he didn't want to be in. He'd learned how to talk his way out of bad situations. His examples were amazing. No doubt about it, he was a bullshitter. It was too bad that neither of us realized what Gary was up to while we were at camp. It wasn't too often that we had a lot of private time together, even after school - he'd be heading for Trevor's car and I'd be getting lined up for the school bus. So we never had a chance to confide in each other about what we thought about the summer camp we'd been at the summer before. Just as well, I think it would have spoiled our happiness to dig up bad times.

Now we were landing at Washington D.C. at 11:20 AM.

"Wow!" Paul said quietly as he watched the flaps fold down to slow the plane down to a taxi speed. Sammy and I smiled at the happiness Paul displayed from the view out the window. Yeah, life for Sammy and me had changed - and we learned, for better or worse - we were enjoying it.

David, Jeremy, Kurt, and Trevor were quick to corral all of us together at the baggage area. Jeremy led us toward the main entrance to the terminal, each of us carrying our own duffel bag. He kept glancing around as if he was looking for someone. He found him. He was a big, six-foot plus, muscular African-American guy, holding a sign that said `Kimball - Reynolds'. Although he didn't have a formal uniform on, I knew that he was the guide that Dad had arranged for us while we were in Washington.

He introduced himself as Calvin Rutledge, shook each of our hands, and repeated our names before he led the way out to the curb and a waiting limousine. It was a Hummer limousine. Whoa! I was impressed! I think that the only one who wasn't impressed was Jeremy. He took it all in stride. David, on the other hand, had a scowl on his face. I wondered what that was all about.

We all piled inside the shiny silver Hummer and, man, was it sick inside. It had black leather seats that wrapped around the whole interior with a mini-bar with all kinds of soft drinks and snacks, and there was a humongous recessed LCD flat screen TV with a Blu-Ray DVD player and a mammoth selection of movies for us to watch . . . not that I expected we'd have time to watch any of them. There were two glass sunroofs we could open for fresh air and still have our privacy, thanks to the tinted windows. We were sure gonna see Washington in style . . . that was for sure.

Calvin introduced us to our driver, Francesco, who was a medium-built, Hispanic guy with a mustache. He wasn't as muscular as Calvin, but he didn't look like someone I'd want to mess with, neither.

Turning to us with a grin on his face, Calvin said, "Seein' as it's after noon, I bet you guys are way past starvin' by now."

Man, was that ever an understatement!

Continuing, he said, "Puttin' eight teenagers on a flight that doesn't land 'til late morning and then expecting 'em to wait to gather all their luggage and then take a limo to their hotel has to border on cruel and unusual punishment," he said with a laugh.

Just then, someone's stomach growled . . . I wasn't sure whose, but we all laughed hysterically.

"Alright, boys, Francesco can watch the car and your luggage," Calvin said. "Let's go get us something to eat before we head to the hotel. What do you say?" That got a chorus of agreement from everyone.

After a very short drive, Calvin took us to a food court at Crystal City, right by the Pentagon, where we could all get whatever we wanted. I didn't realize just how famished I was until I started eating. Man, I ate enough for an army by the time I finished.

While we rode from the eatery to the hotel, Calvin told us over his headset of the sites we'd be seeing and he said that he had some basic rules about letting him know where we were most of the time. He said that he had to check in with Dad every day to make sure we behaved. That sounded like a bit of a bummer - we had a chaperone - but we agreed.

We had a huge four-bedroom suite with a shared living room and a small kitchen in the center of the suite. At one side of the shared space, Brad and I had one bedroom with a bathroom that was shared with David and Jeremy's bedroom. On the other side of the shared space, Sammy and Paul had the same arrangement with Trevor and Kurt in their adjoining rooms.

After we were all settled in our suite, Calvin asked us if we were tired from our flight and just wanted to veg out for the afternoon, or if we wanted to spend the afternoon at the National Zoo, which was just about a block away from the hotel. Now we have a nice zoo back home, but this was the National zoo we were talking about, and you shoulda seen the look on Paul's face when Calvin mentioned it. There was no way we were gonna skip goin' to the National Zoo!

We all washed up in no time flat and got out our digital cameras. We didn't even bother taking the limo, we were that close to the zoo entrance. I was amazed that the zoo was free, but Calvin told us that all the Smithsonian museums and facilities are free. Whoa! As we walked there, Calvin explained that the zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institute, and that it's not just a place for the public to see animals, but it's actively involved in saving rare and endangered species. He explained how they bring rare animals there from all over the world to study them and breed them.

I asked Calvin what happens when the animals don't cooperate with breeding, and he said they use artificial insemination, just like they do with people. Although he didn't say it in so many words, I asked if they have to jerk the animals off . . . man, I couldn't imagine it. He laughed and said that, no, they use a vibrator. Then I got real curious and asked what they do when that doesn't work and he told me about a friend of his who's a paraplegic . . . how they stuck electrodes up his butt . . . at that point, I told Calvin TMI. Ouch! Anyway, the procedure that helped Calvin's paraplegic friend have kids was invented right there at the National Zoo. How cool is that?

So we went around the zoo, seeing all the different exhibits and had a great time. David still seemed to be pretty moody about something, though, and Jeremy noticed it, too. Finally, Jeremy just up and asked him, "Dave, what's wrong? You've been stewing about something since we arrived."

"It's that damn Hummer, Jer. Of all the environmentally irresponsible vehicles we could be riding in . . . Calvin, with all due respect, I know it's not your fault and I didn't want to say anything. Jeremy, I know your dad went to a lot of trouble to set things up for us, but a Hummer? A Hummer limo, no less. Of all the modes of transportation he could have chosen for us, why that one? You know how I feel about SUV's in general, but a Hummer is the worst! How many miles to the gallon does it get? Two? Or maybe only one? It's just driving me crazy to ride around in that thing."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Jeremy acknowledged. "It kinda bugs me too, but I think I know why Dad ordered it. He's generally an environmentalist when it comes to these things, too, but he cares more about our safety than anything. This is Washington, after all, and he probably just wanted to protect us while we're here. He wanted us to ride in style, and the distances we're driving are very short. Believe me, the amount of gas we're burning is minimal compared to the other expenses of this trip. He meant well, but if it's really bugging you that much, I'm sure he can arrange to trade the Hummer for a Prius limo instead," he said with a laugh.

I couldn't help it, I started laughing, too, and pretty soon we all were laughing, including David. I think what Jer said was what was needed to clear the air, and David realized there was such a thing as carrying one's principles too far.

Calvin patted David's back. With his winning smile he said, "You're a good man David and believe you me . . . it's a hell of a lot easier than getting your group around the city on the subway system. It's a real maze of trains under this city, but actually one of the most efficient. They call it the Metro."

The zoo buildings closed at six, and the grounds closed at eight, but we called it quits at seven, by which time we were all starved, even though we'd all had snacks along the way. Calvin told us all to get washed up and dressed in nice clothes, and to meet him back down in the lobby by eight.

We met Calvin on the dot of eight in the lobby and he paraded us out to the street again. "I know this will be a first for some of you," he said, as we crossed Connecticut Avenue once more, "but we're going to eat at one of Washington's finest Japanese restaurants. They have some of the best sushi in town."

"Wait a minute," Trevor said, "you mean like, raw fish?"

"Let me be clear about this," Calvin said, "no one here has to eat raw fish if you don't want to. They will be perfectly happy to serve you cooked sushi if you ask for it, or you can eat any one of a number of other types of Japanese food, such as tempura or teriyaki, for example. You don't have to feel embarrassed in the least for not eating raw fish, but this is also a great chance to try it, risk free."

"Trust me," Jeremy said, "once you've had raw yellow fin tuna, you'll never want to have cooked tuna again."

"Even I was skeptical at first," David agreed, "But Jer's right. You know, if you've ever eaten lox and bagels, you've already eaten raw, smoked salmon. It's really the same thing. If you like eating lox, you'll love eating sushi."

The nine of us were shown into a private area of the restaurant. "I'll tell you what," Calvin said, "I'll order a large sushi sampler for the table, along with some miso soup for everyone . . . together with some vegetarian California rolls and some cooked sushi for those of you who just can't handle eating raw fish. After that, you can decide on getting more sushi for your main course, or something else if you prefer."

Well, I wasn't embarrassed to say I was more than a little nervous to try the sushi. The miso soup was great, but the sushi sure looked weird. I started by trying some of the vegetarian stuff. Calvin showed us all how to hold the chopsticks, or ha-SHE, as they called them in Japanese. I'd already learned how to use them when I ate Chinese food when I was little and still had parents, so it didn't take me long to catch on to it again. I was surprised to see how quickly Paul picked it up for someone who'd never used them before. He was real clumsy at first and his food kept sliding out . . . especially the rice . . . but before long, he was eating like a pro.

Calvin showed us how to use the soy sauce, the ginger and the green mustard stuff he called wasabi to liven the sushi up a little. More than a little. Man, that green stuff was HOT! Tasty, but I musta drunk a gallon a tea ta put out the fire in my mouth.

So anyway, I was chowin' down on the vegetarian California rolls, when I noticed Paul chewing away at some octopus, and he was happy as a clam. I asked him how he liked it, and he said it was delicious. Paul had a little of everythin' on his plate and he was eating it like it was his last meal or somethin'. He said everything was great, but he especially loved the red fish, which Calvin told me was the tuna, so I decided it was time to be brave and I took some on my plate.

You know what? Paul was right! Everything was great! I loved the sushi. I never knew raw fish could taste so good. I mean, if I thought about it, it kinda weirded me out, but for Pete's sake, I'm thirteen. I'm not a kid any more. I'm nearly a grownup. I can take it. The stuff was really good! Better than good. Outstanding, in fact.

So when it came time to order the main course, I ordered a complete sushi dinner. Who needed that tempura crap . . . I got some vegetable tempura as a side dish. I'd never be able to get sushi like this back home. As we ate, Calvin talked to us about what we'd be doin' during the coming week. We were learning to respect Calvin's general knowledge - he was really an up-scale guy with a pretty good sense of humor.

Then we learned in a general way, how much he knew about Washington. He laid out our itinerary for us in detail, but told us we had options, too. Reminding us that we had a meeting with our senator and a tour of the White House and the Capitol scheduled for Wednesday, he thought we'd want to spend most of the rest of the time at the Smithsonian, which is comprised of a whole bunch of different museums on the National Mall. We'd also be visiting all the monuments on the Mall, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Vietnam, Korean and World War II Memorials and so on. There were some other museums we would try to visit, too, such as the National Archive, where the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the first flag are displayed, the National Gallery of Art, and the Holocaust Museum. I wasn't sure I wanted to visit the Holocaust Museum, but Jeremy explained that Hitler tried to kill all the gay people, too, and I had second thoughts about my hesitation.

Because tomorrow would be Sunday, however, we would start the day by attending services at the National Cathedral. I wasn't really big on church, but this was supposed to be a big deal, and I was kinda psyched. Because the weather report was for sunshine in the afternoon, this would be followed by a tour of Arlington National Cemetery, followed by a little R&R back at the hotel.

As Calvin mentioned each of the spots, he gave us a little description of what there was to see at each stop and its importance to the nation's capital. Some of it sounded boring, but the way he told it, most of it sounded really exciting. It would be a full week by the time we flew home next Saturday evening. I was glad we'd have Sunday to recuperate!

Before we left the restaurant, Calvin asked us to give him our cell phone numbers and he made sure that each of us had his number programmed into our phones. "Just in case." he said. As we exited to the street, David commented to Calvin, "Was it my imagination, or were there more than a few same-sex couples dining inside?"

Calvin answered, "It wasn't your imagination at all. This area's known as Woodley Park, but it borders on Adams Morgan, which is known as Washington's largest gay community, although there are others, too."

"Gee, I wonder if we could go clubbing while we're here," David asked in his most innocent voice.

"Although there are some gay clubs that cater to teens on certain nights of the week, David," Calvin answered, "I seriously doubt that you'll have time, but I'll see what I can find out, OK?"

"That would be cool," Jeremy agreed.

Brad and I talked way long into the night, but we sure groaned when the phone rang in the morning. Man, I sure wasn't used to getting up early on Sunday!

I'll tell you, even with all we had to eat last night, I was starving! Calvin took us to Sunday Brunch, right in the hotel, and it was great! Francesco then drove us up to the National Cathedral nearby. On the way, Calvin told us a little of the history of the cathedral. Although George Washington himself commissioned it in 1791, the first stone wasn't laid until 1907, by Theodore Roosevelt, and it took 83 years to build! The building sure looked old enough from the outside, but Calvin pointed out some of the gargoyles, and they were of modern folks . . . it was sooo funny.

The service started right on the dot of 11:15 and lasted over an hour, and then we went back to the hotel and changed into shorts, T-shirts and sneakers before heading back out again in the Hummer.

We drove down through Georgetown, by the imposing buildings of Georgetown University, across the Key Bridge into Arlington and into the cemetery itself. As we drove, Calvin explained that Georgetown was the oldest part of Washington . . . that it was actually settled before there even was a Washington . . . and that the capital city was built next to the existing town. Locating the capital in the South was part of a compromise to gain votes for the Constitution. Same way they compromised on counting slaves as being 3/5 of a person.

When Calvin said that, I said, "You're shittin' me, right?"

But it was Jeremy who answered, "No he's not, bro. The southerners wanted to count slaves as people when it came to representation in Congress, but they didn't want them to count as people in any other way, and they sure didn't want to have to pay taxes on them. So if you go back and look at the original text of the Constitution, you'll see that for the purpose of the census, a slave was to count as being 3/5 of a person."

"Yup," Calvin said, "the people who owned my ancestors got more representatives in Congress, but my ancestors didn't get to vote for them."

"And two centuries later, a black man sits in the White House," David added.

"It was a hell of a struggle to get there, but I'm glad I lived to see it," Calvin agreed.

"Me too." Kurt, Sammy, and Jeremy agreed in unison.

"I wonder how long it'll be before there's a gay president . . ." Kurt asked no one in particular.

"Prolly be a long, long time," David said with a laugh.

When we got to the cemetery, there were tombstones as far as the eye could see. It wasn't at all like what I was expecting . . . it was huge! Calvin explained how Arlington started out as a part of the original District of Columbia, and was later returned to Virginia, but that the cemetery was originally part of George Washington's estate and was used to bury the Revolutionary War dead, but then his grandson built a mansion on it. The estate eventually came to be owned by none other than Civil War General Robert E. Lee. When the North won the war, they took Lee's home and turned the grounds into a cemetery.

Anyway, we drove around to the different sections of the cemetery and saw some of the graves of some of the famous people who were buried there. We watched the ceremony of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns . . . at first, I thought it was going to be boring, but everyone was so solemn, and I really was kinda touched by the whole thing.

We visited the memorial to the Challenger astronauts and I thought about that teacher who was on board, and about the kids in her class and how they went to school one day and wished her well, and that was the last time they ever saw her again . . . and then . . . and then I started to tear up when I thought about the last time I saw my parents. When Jeremy saw me, he grabbed me and hugged me tight while I cried on his chest. Somehow, he knew why I was cryin'. What a great brother he was.

When we got to Kennedy's gravesite and memorial, Paul got a real distant look on his face. He nudged David's sleeve and said quietly, "You're gonna be buried here, Dave." I think everyone heard the comment.

"What?" David asked.

Paul just looked off into the distance and pointed to a nearby hill and said, "Right over there . . ."

"How . . . how do you know that, Paul?" David asked.

Paul just shrugged his shoulders and got that goofy grin of his, like it was all a joke, but we all felt a little weird after that. One thing about the hill Paul pointed to, though - it had a fantastic view of the Potomac and the National Mall, with the Washington Monument towering above it all.

Calvin asked us if we'd like to visit some more memorials, or get some dinner and go back to the hotel. I hated to admit it, but after a couple days of non-stop activity, I was pooped! We all voted for an early dinner and R&R. Since we were dressed in casual clothes, Calvin took us to a place called Hamburger Hamlet, back in Crystal City by the Pentagon and the airport. Boy, did they make a great hamburger, but David was really picky about his food. He wanted to be sure his dinner wasn't cooked anywhere near the meat.

We all crashed pretty early, but during the night, I heard a loud scream coming from the next bedroom and Brad and I rushed over to see what was going on. We found Jeremy in David's arms, crying his eyes out. It was kinda embarrassing, 'cause neither one was wearing any clothes, but the way David was holding my foster brother, I could see just how much he really loved him. This wasn't about sex . . . you could just see how much he cared.

"It's all right, Jer," David was saying. "It was only a dream . . ."

"But it was so real, Dave. . . . It was so real. It was just like Paul said. We were all on that hill, attending your funeral. We were all there . . . all of us except for you, Cliff," he said, turning to me. "But the rest of us were all there, and we were old . . . like maybe forty or fifty. I saw the whole thing. And there were thousands of people there."

David said, "Jer, like I said, it was just a dream. There's no way thousands of people would come to my funeral. No Way. Not unless I were president or something," he laughed.

"David's right," I reassured my foster brother as I gave his shoulder a squeeze, "and besides, there's no way I'd miss his funeral for anything in the world . . . not unless I was six feet under. So you see, it was nothing more than your imagination coming out in a dream."

"Yeah, you're prolly right," Jeremy at last admitted with a sigh.

Brad and I talked a while after we got back to bed. "He's so driven," he said. "Our parents are Republicans, but ever since he and Jeremy became tight, David's become a staunch Democrat . . . well, he's kinda talked me into it, too . . . but David's passionate about politics. You saw what happened yesterday with the Hummer limousine? Don't get me wrong . . . I think he'll do great things, but sometimes he goes too far. I'm just glad he has Jeremy in his life."

"Me too," I said. "I'm glad I have all three of you in mine," I grinned. "And speaking of which, before we go back to sleep, how would you like to, you know," I said making a jacking off motion. For the past few weeks Brad and I would occasionally jerk each other off. Neither of us were gay or any thing, but it sure beat doing it alone.

"You brought condoms?" Brad asked.

"You bet," I answered. Because I was HIV-positive, Brad was a little worried that if my spunk got on an open hangnail or something, that he might get the disease. I sure could understand that, and wearing a condom was no big deal.

"Let's try something different," I suggested. "Instead of sitting, let's lie side-by-side, face-to-crotch."

"I donno," Brad answered. "It sounds a little gay, but I'm game if you are."

"Thanks man," was my reply.

When we got into position, it was the first time I'd gotten up close and personal with another boy's privates since I was forced to at Summer Camp last year. For a moment, I was going to tell Brad I'd changed my mind, but then he started jerking me and it felt great. When I started stroking him, my inhibitions went out the window and the bad old feelings went away. Before I knew it, I felt my balls draw up tight and a tingling feeling rose up from my toes to my groin. Volley after volley of cum filled my condom as I felt splash after splash of Brad's cum hit me in the face, neck and chest.

My curiosity getting the better of me, I opened my mouth and licked up some of Brad's cum from my face with my tongue.* It was way more bitter than I was expecting it to be . . . his was definitely an acquired taste.

"Ewe, gross," Brad said when he noticed what I'd done.

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I was just curious, but seriously, I shouldn't have done that. You can get all sorts of STDs from sperm . . . not that I think you have any STDs . . . but since I'm already HIV-positive, I figured, `what the heck.' Anyway," making a face, I continued, "yours tastes nasty, and it's slimy, and I'll not be doing that again, that's for sure."

Getting a lustful look on his face, Brad smirked and said, "Doing it up close like that was fun. I like it like that." And then he took me totally off-guard when he said, "You ever had a blowjob, Cliff?" Whoa!

"Well, yeah," I answered. "Gary made us give each other blowjobs while he recorded it on his camcorder," I answered. "He even made us give him blowjobs all the time."

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Cliff," Brad practically cried. "I forgot all about that. I didn't mean to even bring that up. I'm so, so sorry."

"'S OK," I reassured Brad. "I'm long over it. Actually, a blowjob feels great. Way better than a hand job. I'd be willing to give you a blowjob, Brad," I told him.

"I could never ask you to do that!" Brad practically shreaked.

"You don't have to even ask. And don't worry about it being gay or anything. I'd be doing it as your friend . . . your best friend. Friends help each other out. Just let me get cleaned up, first, 'K?" I asked.

Brad just sat there like a wooden statue . . . I thought he musta been kinda freaked out by what I'd said or something, but his dick was sure rock hard and pulsing, so at least part of him was working.

I went into the bathroom and got a washcloth and washed the remnants of Brad's spunk off my face and chest, and then I returned to the room. I got out another condom, by which time Brad seemed to have returned to normal and, man, did he have a grin on his face.

Gary made me do a lot of things I didn't want to do at Summer Camp, but this was different. This was Brad, my best friend. It wasn't that I liked sucking dick, either. I knew I liked girls and I wanted nothing more than to get some pussy, but for Brad, I'd do almost anything. Wrapping my lips around him, I went down on him all the way as I used my tongue to caress the underside of his throbbing member. It didn't take long before I felt the condom fill.

"Oh man," Brad said, "When I get a girlfriend, you gotta promise me you'll show her how to do that."

"Ah, Brad," I reminded him, "You may not want your girlfriend to know the two of us had sex together . . . you know what I mean?"

"I see your point," Brad said with a wicked grin. "So, would you like me to do you?" he asked.

Oh, I definitely would have liked to get a blowjob, too, but I couldn't ask that of Brad - not when I was HIV-positive. If the condom broke, I wouldn't want that hanging over my head, and so I lied. "Jerking off through a condom makes my dick a little sore," I told him, "so I'm gonna pass for tonight."

"Maybe another night, then," Brad suggested.

"Sounds good, bro," I agreed as we both got back into bed and turned out the lights.

When morning came, I was disappointed to see that it was overcast outside. I had a feeling this would be a museum day.

After grabbing breakfast in the hotel café, we all piled into the Hummer and Francesco drove us down to the Mall, dropping us off in front of this ancient looking red stone building that looked like a castle. Calvin told us it was the original Smithsonian building and the headquarters of the Smithsonian Institute, but everyone just called it The Castle. We all went inside and watched an introductory movie that didn't really tell us anything, and then Calvin said we should start working our way through all the museums.

He said we'd spend a little time at each museum, and he'd leave Friday and Saturday free, so we could choose as a group which ones to spend more time at. We were going to start on the south side of the Mall at the Museum of the American Indian, which was a new museum, and work our way back to The Castle. Calvin figured we probably wouldn't have much of an interest in the art museums, but Sammy sure proved him wrong. Boy was that a surprise.

As we were walking by this big round building with a bunch of weird sculptures out front, Sammy suddenly asked, "Whoa, what's all this neat stuff?"

"What neat stuff?" Paul asked.

"All this neat stuff out here!" he said, throwing up his hands as if it were obvious, running from sculpture to sculpture in the courtyard.

"Look at this woman," he said, turning to the strangest looking woman I'd ever seen. She was made of bronze, and lying down, and she had holes where her tits were supposed to be, and her face was completely blank - no eyes, no mouth, no nose. Hell, I could'a done a better job making a statue of a woman, but what did I know?

"I mean, all the things that make a woman beautiful . . . it's like they're gone, but she's still beautiful . . . how sick is that?" Sammy asked. "I never seen nothin' like this before. An' look at this one," he said, turning to something that looked like a group of blobs. "I'm not sure what these are, but look at their shadows on th' ground."

"Sammy," Calvin said, "It looks like you've been bitten by the art bug. We'll make sure you get some time later on to spend time at the various art museums, but in the meantime, we need to make tracks."

And make tracks we did. Walking almost all the way to the Capitol building, we started with the National Museum of the American Indian, although even the name of the museum was controversial according to Calvin, 'cause most `Native Americans' don't like being called `Indians', as he explained it.

"They're not from India," he said. "It's just like I don't like being called black. I'm an African American. I'm no more black than you're white. A sheet of paper's white, but you're not white." I guess I saw his point.

So we went inside and saw all the exhibits on the native peoples that used to inhabit the Chesapeake Bay before the `white man' came.

"So what are we supposed to do?" I asked Calvin. "Are we supposed to just tear down all these buildings and give all the land back to the Native Americans and all head back to Europe or wherever we came from?"

"No," Calvin said, "You couldn't pay me to go back to Africa.

"Cliff," he continued, "the sad truth is you can't undo the past. The best you can ever hope to do is to learn from your ancestors' mistakes, and to make a better future for the world."

I certainly understood what Calvin was saying, but I think it was David who really was taking Calvin's message to heart. You could really see the gears in his head turning, so to speak.

Anyway, we were all mesmerized by all the Indian artifacts and such, but Sammy was positively drooling over it all. He just couldn't get enough. There were some exhibits on contemporary Native American artists that Sammy went absolutely nuts over. With every painting and every piece of jewelry, Sammy had to read the description about the symbolism . . . he was absorbing it all. I mean, I always knew he was smarter than the rest of us, but now it was obvious just how much.

The Air and Space Museum turned out to be my absolute favorite place. From the moment I walked in, I knew this would be one of the places I'd want to return on Friday. There was just so much to do! There was a planetarium, and an IMAX Theater, and a flight simulator, where visitors could try flying several different aircraft. They had actual spacecraft that had been to the moon, too. What really blew me away is that more than half the museum was located out at Dulles Airport . . . there just wasn't enough room on the Mall to display everything.

We ended up spending five hours at the Air and Space Museum, including lunch, and it still wasn't nearly enough time. Hell, an hour of that was spent in the planetarium and two hours in the IMAX alone. We never did get to try out the flight simulator.

Next, we went back to that round building, the Hirshorn Museum, which had all this modern art in it that I thought was boring, but again, Sammy went nuts over it. Next came the Arts and Industries Building, which Calvin explained was like one big time capsule. It had the whole Centennial Exhibition from 1876, when America was a hundred years old. It was kinda cool, but we didn't spend a lotta time seeing it.

Then we were back to The Castle, but Calvin had a surprise for us. Behind the Castle was a garden that looked real old, but he said the whole thing was built in less than a year, and hidden under the garden were two museums. Very cool. We went down underground to the Museum of African Art and although art's not really my thing, even I had to admit the African stuff was pretty neat. Sammy sure ate it all up as we worked our way down, further underground. We then crossed over into the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art, which was filled with Asian Art. Now to me, the Asian art was kinda boring, but Sammy was fascinated with it.

"Man, Cliff," he said to me at one point, "do you realize this vase was made a hundred years before Columbus discovered America?" And a short while later, he said, "Shit, this green box is even older than Christ!"

"That's a mighty old box," Calvin agreed. "Just think about it, boys," he continued, "Long before there were Christians, even back when the Hebrews were but a handful of scattered tribes in the Holy Land, the Chinese had an advanced civilization. They knew how to work metals and stone, and knew of mathematics that the West would not discover for thousands of years. They even studied astronomy and had a calendar that was as accurate as our own."

For me, what Calvin said was a revelation. But if they were so advanced, what happened? Why didn't they go on to discover electricity, and invent computers, and cars, and iPods, and PS3's, and so I asked him.

"That's a very good question, Cliff, and one we'll probably never know the answer to," Calvin said in response. "There were wars, and the Chinese had their superstitions. Their advanced civilization didn't last . . . and there's nothing to say that the same thing won't happen to ours. We've all heard about global warming, and many scientists say that if we don't do something about it, we may literally destroy our own civilization within the next century."

Man, that was a scary thought, and once again, I could see that David was lost in thought. Yup, Brad was right . . . at times it seemed that David was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

The Sackler Gallery was connected to the Freer Gallery of Art, which was another Asian art gallery, and so we briefly toured it, too, although with Sammy along, there was nothing brief when it came to viewing art.

When we finished and exited the museum, the Hummer was waiting for us, right in front. How did Calvin do that?

After taking us back to the hotel and having us change into our good clothes, we all piled back into the Hummer for a short trip down Connecticut Avenue toward Dupont Circle. Calvin explained that a lot of embassies were in the area, so great restaurants were in abundance. We went to an Indian restaurant and although it wasn't the first time I'd had Indian food, I'd never had Indian food this good before.

I couldn't believe it when David, of all people, asked his boyfriend, "Could I try some of that?" Jeremy was eating a lamb dish and had a look on his face that could only be described as orgasmic. I think we all put down our forks when David said that . . . even Paul did, and he never stops eating.

"Are you sure, honey?" Jeremy asked. "I wouldn't want you to have any regrets afterwards."

"Of course I'll have regrets," David answered, "but I'll have regrets if I don't at least taste it. I'm not a fanatic, but given the choice, it's bad for the environment, and I don't think we should be eating our fellow mammals."

Jeremy slid his plate over a little closer to David, and David stuck his fork into the plate of food, scooped up some meat and took a bite. The look on David's face as he chewed looked a lot like the one on Jeremy's a moment before.

After he swallowed, he said, "I'm not about to change my opinion, but if all meat tasted like this, I might have to rethink my being a vegetarian," which got a laugh from all of us.

Back at the hotel, after we got washed up, Brad and I had a repeat of our activities of the early morning, but this time Brad was even more insistent that he return the favor, and so I had to put my foot down.

"Brad," I said, "I'm just not willing to take the chance the condom might break and you might get HIV. I love you, man, like a brother. I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you."

"Yeah, but you sucked me off . . . it just doesn't seem fair," he said.

"Tell you what," I suggested, "There's something I've read about on the Internet that's so safe, we don't even need a condom. Let me just get a towel so we can clean up the mess."

I got a bath towel and put it in front of Brad, and then I got behind him and stuck my throbbing dick between his thighs and started to hump.

"Oh I get it now," Brad said. "You're fucking me without fucking me. I bet it feels good."

"Yeah, it does," I agreed. "I'm sure a girl will feel better, but you don't feel half bad, bro." It didn't take me long to cum, neither.

*CAUTION TO ALL READERS: Performing oral sex without the use of a barrier device such as a condom or a dental dam, can put you at risk for potential exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. A number of STDs can be transmitted in this manner in addition to HIV, including Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis, Genital Herpes, Syphilis, Chancroid, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV), and Urethritis. Although everyone worries about HIV, several of the others on the list are also incurable. Hepatitis C, for example, can be just as lethal. Frankly, no one should want to contract any of these STDs. If you're sexually active and not in a long-term monogamous relationship, you really must pick up a pack of your favorite-flavored condoms, Use them, and play it safe!

The authors gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Trab in proofreading our stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey's World for hosting them.


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