DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account involving teenage boys who are gay and trying to cope with love and homophobia. 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 senators in this story bear strong resemblances to Senators Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh of Indiana, any references to their beliefs are based on 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 twenty-first 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.

Summer Internship

A Naptown Tale in Twelve Parts

by Altimexis & David of Hope

Part Four
Dodging Scandal - Jeremy
by Altimexis

Looking at her motionless form, I could tell that Will's girlfriend was a beautiful woman, but she looked anything but beautiful, sprawled out on his bed, lying in her own vomit.

Trevor checked her neck for a pulse while he simultaneously listened for the sound of breathing. "She's alive, but barely," he said.

"Maybe we should try CPR," Kurt suggested.

"If she's got a pulse, she doesn't need chest compressions, but we do need to follow the basic rules of first aid," I explained as I placed my hands on the sides of her head and pulled straight back, being careful not to move her neck. Even though the mechanism of her passing out was evident from the lines of coke that remained on the nightstand, she could have had a stroke or a hemorrhage and hit her head on the way down, breaking her neck. I just couldn't take a chance on making it worse by extending her neck, and so instead I pushed up on her jaw, which caused her to moan. "Excellent," I said. "I've lifted her tongue out of the back of her throat, so she can breathe.

"Will," I continued, turning to her boyfriend, "you need to call 911. Some serious shit can happen from a coke overdose. She needs to get to Emergency," I said, stating the obvious.

"Fuck!" he shouted as he dialed. He told the EMS operator that we'd come home to find his girlfriend passed out and barely breathing. When asked, he admitted that she'd been snorting coke."

"Oh God," Will said to no one in particular, "There are few things worse for ending a political career, they say, than being found with a dead girl or a live boy. At this rate, I may be found with both before I turn twenty."

Because the EMS operator was still on the line, David whispered to him, "It's the drugs you need to worry about. Will, a cocaine conviction could really put a damper on your career. Have you used any drugs . . . even pot . . . recently?"

"Fortunately, not in a long time. I haven't smoked pot since Spring Break, and I haven't used Cocaine since coming to Washington, and even then, I've never been a heavy user. I only used a little so Sherrie wouldn't think I was a wuss. I've never, ever used any narcotics."

"Will, if you know of any places Sherrie may have any coke stashed, you need to flush it down the toilet now," David said, "before the police have a chance to search this place. With any luck, if you test clean and if the only coke they can find is what's on that night stand and in her things, and with help from your family's lawyers, you'll probably get away, scott free."

"Oh God, I hope so," he said as he disappeared from the bedroom for a few minutes. Soon, we heard the sound of the toilet flushing, which we presumed meant he'd found her stash and flushed it down. Returning to our side, he said, "I even flushed the plastic bag it came in."

"Good thinking, Will, but you might want to go back and flush again when it stops, maybe with some bleach, just in case it got stuck in the plumbing," David suggested, and Will complied.

"Dealing with Sherrie's family may be another matter, however, and you've gotta get rid of her. She's bad news." I reminded Will after he returned.

"Yeah, but she comes from a good family . . . one with the right connections." he said, and I just rolled my eyes. Growing up in my family, I'd heard it all before.

Just then, the ambulance crew and paramedics arrived and took over for Jeremy, placing a hard collar around Sherrie's neck, placing her on a rigid backboard and placing an oxygen mask on her face. They hooked her up to what I assumed was an electrocardiograph and started her on an IV. In less than five minutes, she was loaded onto a gurney and on her way out the door.

We were literally at the point of following her out the door, when we were stopped by a couple of police officers who told us to wait. It was only a matter of minutes before a detective arrived to question all of us. This was not how I wanted to start my Summer Internship.

Before the detective even had a chance to ask any questions, Will intervened to explain our role in what happened and to ask for due process.

"Detective, these boys are all minors and had absolutely nothing to do with what happened here tonight. It's only because they were with me that they're here in the first place. I am a Summer Intern at the White House and had been asked by Rahm Emanuel himself to show these boys the ropes. Two of them are also going to be Summer Interns, but they are only sixteen and high school students who are here on a special program. The other two are in the Summer Page Program in the Senate.

"Their flight arrived today and I had agreed to greet them at the airport, strictly as a courtesy, to get them settled in at Daniel Webster Hall and to give them a basic orientation; which I did. We all went to lunch in Arlington, and we were on our way back from lunch when we decided to stop back at my apartment. I was going to introduce them to my girlfriend, which is when we discovered that she'd overdosed on what looks to be cocaine. These boys were literally along for the ride. Before today, they had never even met her. Hell, they still haven't really met her.

"Now I know that you do need to interview each of them about what they saw and what they did, but they are minors and have a right to be interviewed in the presence of their parents. Because their parents are not here, however, you will need to interview them in the presence of a suitable guardian or alternate. The responsible party during their stay in Washington is the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate. If you wish, I can get you all of the necessary information to make arrangements, as well as the sponsoring senators for Mr. Austin and Mr. DeWitt. The sponsor for Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Kimball would be either Mr. Emanuel or Mr. Obama himself."

"I guess we can work something out," the detective said, "but we do need to interview the boys, and they are not to leave town until we do."

"Trust me, they're not going anywhere," Will said. "In fact, they start their jobs on Monday, and Mr. DeWitt is receiving the Congressional Gold Medal next week and is certainly not leaving town before then."

"No, I suppose he wouldn't be," the detective said.

"Now in my case," Will stated flatly, "although I'm an adult, I do not wish to waive my right to have an attorney present during questioning, and of course you'll need a search warrant to search the premises."

The detective put his hand to his chest and made a staggering motion as if he'd been shot, and then smiled at us and said, "We'll have to seal the apartment off until we get one, which means you won't be allowed back in, but of course we'll get a warrant. I wouldn't think of not going by the book.

"Now as to lawyering up, if that's what you want to do, I'm afraid I'm going to have to take all of you to headquarters and keep you there until your lawyer shows. It's just a precaution to make sure none of you tampers with evidence. It's just that the sooner we get this over with, the easier it'll be on everyone."

"Hey," Will said, "I know you're just doing your job, but I thought my girlfriend had given up on using drugs. This is the first evidence I've seen of her using coke since we settled into Washington. It's a bit of a shock, frankly. I don't do drugs, and I don't want a cocaine conviction on my record. I want to make sure everything's done by the book, and that I'm properly tested, and cleared of all wrongdoing."

"I see," the detective said. "That makes sense. I understand your reasoning, and we'll be sure to play it by the book so long as your drug tests come back clean and so long as we don't find any more drugs in this apartment."

"I also want to make sure we clear these boys of any wrongdoing. In fact, they were very helpful in applying basic first aid. They shouldn't have to have any kind of a police record from this incident," Will said.

"Agreed," the detective agreed. "A simple drug test should clear them completely.

"Let's go," he indicated with a wave of the hand. "We'll finish this up at the station."

As we all exited the building, I noticed that Kurt seemed to be very nervous about something. This was very out of character for him, and so I asked him what was wrong.

Whispering to me, he said, "It's pot. I smoked a little pot at a freshman end-of-year party. I know I shouldn't have, but I'd never smoked pot before and I was really curious to see what it was like. Trevor was furious when I told him I'd done it. He reminded me they can do random drug tests on all Senate employees, and that pot stays in your system for over a month. I don't know what I was thinking. The funny thing is the pot didn't do anything for me anyway. I get more of a buzz from drinking a beer, and I don't even like beer. But if they test me for marijuana today, it'll certainly come back positive and they'll kick me out of the Page Program." The poor boy was practically in tears.

"Kurt," I said, when we get there, if they ask, refuse to be tested for drugs until I've had a chance to talk to my dad's lawyers. I'm gonna see if there's some way we can keep them from testing for marijuana since there was no marijuana in the apartment, or keep the records sealed and away from the Senate since you're a minor. There has to be a way to protect you on this."

"Thanks, Jer," Kurt said. "You're a real friend."

As soon as we arrived at District Police Headquarters, Will was on the phone with the legal firm that represented his parents' business interests, and I was on the phone with the firm that my dad used. In the meantime, the Sergeant at Arms for the Senate, who was in charge of Webster Hall, had all ready arrived. The police had apparently wasted no time in contacting him.

The long and short of it was that the attorney for my dad stated in no uncertain terms that as the equivalent of good Samaritans, the four of us boys should not under any circumstances submit to any kind of drug testing. It was apparent that our visit to Will's apartment had been unplanned, that we had no pre-existing relationship with Will's girlfriend and that there was no way we could have obtained drugs from her prior to entering the apartment with Will. Were any of us to test positive for any controlled substances, it would represent a breach of our privacy. Thankfully, Kurt was off the hook.

Unfortunately for Will, he'd be questioned as soon as his attorney could get there, and would be getting his drug testing tonight as well. More than likely, he'd have to stay the night, or at least until a judge could sign off on a search warrant, so that he could return to his apartment once the search had been completed. At some point he was going to have to talk to his parents, and to Sherrie's. Those were conversations I did not envy him having to make. I knew the best thing for him to do would be for him to just come out, but that was a decision only he could make.

Since we'd been cleared of any need for drug testing, the Sergeant at Arms took us back to Webster Hall for the night.

Sleep did not come easily. For one thing, it was not easy sleeping in a twin bed when I was used to sleeping in a king size bed. I could hear the light sounds of David, Trevor and Kurt as they, too, attempted to sleep. I would have loved to have put David's and my beds together so that I could have slept with him in my arms, but that would have definitely raised suspicions, and probably violated a few rules.

By the time morning came around, I felt as if I hadn't slept at all.

"No rest for the weary, and I certainly didn't get much rest," David said. "How about you?"

"I hardly slept at all" I replied. "If only we could have put our beds together."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," he agreed.

After taking our turns showering, shaving and dressing, we were escorted to Union Station by the Sergeant at Arms for Sunday Brunch, which apparently was standard fare for the weekend. He then took us to Police Headquarters for what would turn out to be an all-day session. A representative from the DC branch of my dad's legal firm was there to meet us, and we were all questioned.

Will was still there when we arrived. It turned out he had never gone home.

A big surprise was that my own parents arrived at Police Headquarters shortly after ten o'clock. I really hadn't given it much thought, as from my standpoint, everything was pretty much under control, but my father pays his attorneys to keep him informed of everything they do for his company, including the work they do in representing me. When I called the legal firm that represents him, it had generated an immediate call to my father to let him know what was going on. My parents had booked themselves on the first available flight into Washington.

I'd always known my parents would be there when it mattered, and this was just one more time that proved it.

About an hour later, Will's parents arrived in from Iowa. The parallels between our parents were uncanny, with one major exception. Naturally, the four adults started talking to each other, and they couldn't help but talk about us. The pride in their voices was more than evident, but Will's father kept staring at David and me from time-to-time, noticing how our arms often were around each other's shoulders, or even our waists, or how we held hands, and how we were never far apart.

Finally, Warren Kramer couldn't seem to take it anymore and he up and asked my father, "Why in creation, Tom, do you let your son be queer?"

Taken aback, my father let out a laugh and said, "Why, that's a bit like asking why I allow my son to be a son rather than a daughter. I don't `let' him be gay . . . he just is. Trying to make him be something he's not would be cruel and inhumane."

"We've all known people who've been forced to hide their sexuality," my mother took over, "and the results are often tragic. I don't know if you're familiar with the song that came out last year called `Why Do I Feel This Way?' . . . I think it was sung by Mellencamp . . . but the lyrics were written by a boy who went to school with Jeremy and his friends . . . a boy named Brian Philips. Brian's parents hoped he would one day be president. Brian knew that meant he couldn't be gay, and so he ended up killing himself. His writing was so beautiful and he had so much to live for, but he threw it all away because his parents couldn't accept him.

"Jeremy was outed when he was in the eighth grade," my mother continued, "when he was only thirteen years old. Being outed like that sucked so much life out of his demeanor. He withdrew into a shell and stopped interacting with his friends. He stopped being the Jeremy we all loved.

"But then he met David, or I should say David came out to him and they realized they liked each other, and decided to become boyfriends. Everything changed that day and we got our Jeremy back."

Then my dad added, "The remarkable thing is that they could have kept their relationship under wraps, at least to protect David, but they decided to come out as a couple. That took real guts at their age. Not only were they respected for doing it, but they became two of the most popular boys in their class.

"They're both top athletes, they're both involved in school politics and David's now in his second term as Class President, and that's in a very conservative school. You see, other kids don't think of the two of them as `those gay kids'. The think of them as those two attractive, popular jocks who get things done around the school and, oh, they happen to be gay.

"Does that answer your question, Warren?"

By the time my parents finished, I had tears in my eyes. I had no idea that my parents cared, but they really did. What they said was so awesome.

I went up to Dad with tears streaming down my cheeks, I said, "Thanks Dad for all the things you said." I hugged him tightly and kissed him on the forehead, and then did likewise with Mom, too.

"Don't ever doubt that we love you, Jeremy," Dad said, "and always know that we're as proud as any parents could be."

"Well, it's wonderful that Jeremy and David have each other," Will's father stated flatly, "and I've always supported gay rights, but it's just such a shame that most Americans will never accept openly gay politicians."

"Are you sure about that, Warren?" my father asked. Turning around until he spotted my boyfriend, he called out, "David, could you please come here?"

When David was beside me, he asked Will's father, "What do you think of the whole idea of gay marriage, Warren."

"Well, naturally, as a Democrat, I think that gay people should enjoy the same rights as everyone else, but marriage was meant to be for the purpose of raising a family. It's a religious institution that was established by God, the Almighty himself. I think for legal purposes, we should establish Civil Unions to provide for equal rights for gay couples, to allow for inheritance and property sharing, and to cover guardianship issues, but to call it marriage would amount to blasphemy. Sadly, I think Iowa's high court made a mistake."

Turning to David, my dad nodded and said, "David, perhaps you'd like to enlighten Mr. Kramer."

"With pleasure," my boyfriend said with his trademark sly smile.

"No offense, Mr. Kramer," he began, "but this country has a long tradition of protecting its minorities. That's why we established a Bill of Rights before the Constitution was even ratified in the first place. I think that's one of the most important concepts of American democracy that makes it so unique. We can't simply dissolve our government on a whim as they can in Canada, Great Britain or France. The majority cannot vote to oppress minorities as it sees fit. Not that it doesn't happen and that it hasn't happened in the past, but legal discrimination against minorities is very difficult to implement, it requires greater than a majority vote . . . in many cases, it requires a vote of three-quarters of all states, and it must be done in broad daylight for all to see.

"To paraphrase the famous Brown versus the Board of Education decision of 1954 that put an end to forced segregation in schools in the South, `Separate but equal is inherently unequal.' So too is the case with `civil unions' versus marriage. If a same-sex couple is entitled to all the benefits, legal rights and privileges of marriage, then why not call it marriage. The only reason . . . the only conceivable reason for having a separate institution other than marriage for same sex couples is if one intends to discriminate against them in some form or another. Separate but equal is inherently unequal.

"So is marriage a religious institution . . . sacred matrimony established by God? If so, then it's protected by the first amendment and subject to the same protections afforded all religious institutions under the fundamentals of the separation of church and state. It then falls to the individual religious institutions to determine what constitutes a marriage. Some religions already recognize same sex marriages and, hence, the government will need to as well. Of course not all people are believers, so there will still need to be a civil equivalent of marriage for nonbelievers, and there are religions that accept polygamy, and pedophilia, so we may want to be careful about whether or not we accept religion as the foundation of marriage at all.

"The alternative is to accept that marriage is de facto what it truly is . . . the fundamental building block of a domestic society and, as such, we cannot allow any form of legalized discrimination against our citizens based on their race, ethnicity or gender. Any adult man or woman must be free to marry any other consenting adult man or woman, and to procreate by natural means, through the application of ethically sound technology, or by adoption. To say anything else would be a slap in the face of basic human civil rights.

"If you can give me one good counterargument to anything I've said, I am more than happy to listen to you."

Warren Kramer looked at David and opened his mouth as if he were about to say something, but nothing came out. He shifted in his seat and opened his mouth again, but the same thing happened. Finally, he said, "You're a gifted debater, David, and I can see how you managed to be elected Class President, but there are still a lot of people who won't vote for you, just because you're gay."

"Oh, don't I know it, Mr. Kramer," David answered, "but most of those are people who wouldn't have voted for me in the first place. A lot of people thought it was impossible to elect an African American man to the White House, and yet look at President Obama today.

"The people who are likely to vote for what I believe in aren't likely to care that I'm gay."

"You should have heard how David argued with President Obama when we met him over Spring Break," I related. "He totally disarmed the president on the issues of gay marriage and gays in the military. Just like he did with you. I think over time, David's going to be a force to be reckoned with."

"Jeremy's a formidable debater in his own right," David smiled as he pulled me into a half-hug.

"You're biased," I smiled.

"Maybe he is, but he's right," my dad agreed.

Sighing, Mr. Kramer said, "Trouble is, Will could never pull it off."

"You know?" I asked incredulously.

"Of course I know. It's my business to know," he responded.

"And you think he's better off with that junky floozy?" I asked.

"She's from a good family," Warren Kramer answered, as if that was all that mattered.

"That's just what Will said," I said with resignation. "But a drug conviction isn't going to help him."

"Enough money to the right people and that'll go away."

"Bribes," my father said. "Now that, thankfully, is something I have never had to resort to. Of course I could have probably doubled or tripled my profits if I had, but I have to look at my face in the mirror each morning. And by not taking the company public, there are no shareholders breathing down my neck."

Laughing, Mr. Kramer said, "I wonder how many of us, if we'd known about the looming financial crisis, might have chosen not to go public. Of course twenty years ago in the midst of the go-go eighties, going public meant access to venture capitol. We went from being a small operation in Iowa, to being a huge corporation with farms and franchises throughout U.S. Ironically, as a family we'd probably be financially no worse off if we'd stuck to being a family-run business in Iowa. The one saving grace is that we really have built an empire that has brought organic farm products to the grocery shelves of so many more people than would have ever had access to them otherwise. We've done something we can be proud of."

"But at quite a cost if you have to use bribes," my dad pointed out.

"Yes, I admit it, there has been a cost . . . a great cost indeed, and don't think it doesn't keep me up at night thinking about lives that have been lost from allergic reactions to contaminants in our products that no one even knew were there. I'd give anything to change some of our past mistakes, but the past is in the past. It's up to us to change the future."

"And that's exactly what we're talking about," I pointed out.

"Yes, I guess we are," Mr. Kramer acknowledged.

Just then, Will came out with his attorney and the detective. "Dad!" Will exclaimed. "When did you and Mom get here?"

"About an hour ago. Listen, have they searched your apartment yet?"

"Not yet," he sulked. "I guess they're gonna send out for lunch in a little bit, and then they'll start interviewing the boys, and finally they'll search the apartment."

"Make sure they don't search it without you and your attorney there. You have a right to be there, you know."

"Oh, I do know," Will acknowledged.

"Hey," Will asked, "I can't get anything from the police here, but is there any word on Sherrie?"

"I've been in touch with her parents, who are with her at GWU Hospital." Mr. Kramer answered. "You guys got to her just in time. Another half-hour and she would have probably been brain dead. She's going to be fine. They're blaming you, though. They're convinced you got her hooked on drugs."

"Me!" Will shouted incredulously. "She's the one who's a junky. I never even touched cocaine except when she did. She's bad news, Dad."

"Well, they're taking her home with them, which is just as well. I'll tell you, if it's a choice between a girl like her or a boy like Jeremy, you're probably better off with the boy like Jeremy."

I really smiled at that, and Will's eyes arched up wide.

"Son, actually, I'm not suggesting you become openly gay, but there may be worse things, like getting caught with a dead girl in your apartment," Mr. Kramer said pensively. "Anyway, we'll . . . talk."

After lunch, which consisted of pizza and wings - poor David had to settle for eating only a few slices of cheese pizza - the detectives set to work on interviewing us. They started with Trevor and spent more than an hour-and-a-half with him. Perhaps they started with him because he was the oldest, but when he came out, he looked like he had been dragged through a meat grinder a few times.

Next they called me in, perhaps because I was the only one with parents present. The interrogation room was a bit crowded; with me, my parents, my attorney and two detectives present. The detectives asked me to describe events exactly as they unfolded and as I remembered them from the moment we surfaced from the Foggy Bottom metro station. I reported everything I remembered as best I could, but it wasn't like I had a camcorder with me and so I kept going back and remembering new details as I went.

I was honest and truthful except in responding to one question. The detectives asked me several times if anyone had left the bedroom between the time we discovered Will's girlfriend and the time the paramedics arrived. I emphatically stated that no one had left, even though I knew that Will had left twice to dispose of Sherrie's cocaine on our recommendation. That was a secret I was certain none of us would divulge, and if there was any evidence to the contrary, it would have to be chalked up to something she did before she passed out, not something we did.

I spent an hour being grilled before they were satisfied my story was airtight and that I was being honest, at which point David took my place. My parents remained in the interrogation room for his benefit. After another hour, it was finally Kurt's turn.

At that point, we were allowed to return to the residence hall and, I presumed Will was going to be allowed to go with the police to observe the search of his apartment. I could only hope that the search didn't turn up any additional drugs.

Just as we were about to head out, Will caught up with us and said, "Jeremy, David, I'll pick you up in my 911 at Webster hall at quarter of eight, sharp. We'll head over to the White House and I'll get you settled into your roles over there, assuming of course that I'm not in jail," he said with a laugh.

"Trevor and Kurt, you have an orientation breakfast in Webster Hall at seven AM," he added.

Just as I started to grimace, Will added, "Of course, if you guys want to eat breakfast, Jer, you and David'll need to attend that orientation breakfast, too. It's either that, or head over to Union Station and make it back by 7:45."

"How about some dinner, boys?" my father suggested.

When wouldn't we want to eat?

The police headquarters building wasn't in the best neighborhood, but my parents had rented a minivan and so we all piled in and headed back to their hotel, which was the very same one we had stayed in at Spring Break. We certainly had a choice of great places to eat, and ended up choosing the Indian place down by Dupont Circle, where we had feasted before. David shocked the hell out of me by agreeing to share a sampler platter with me that included some meat dishes.

"I know, I know," he said. "Eating meat goes against everything I believe in, but I have never tasted anything more blissful than the lamb curry you ate here during Spring Break. The food here is almost as good as having sex with you," he whispered so that only I could here it. "For one night, eating a little lamb and chicken isn't going to kill me. It's just a taste, and I'll still stick mostly to the vegetarian items in the sampler."

"I guess you're allowed to be human now and then," I smiled as I gave him a peck on the lips.

Dinner was a pleasant affair, and it certainly was nice to be done with the whole `cocaine affair' as we were calling it. My parents planned to spend a few days in Washington as long as they were here, which would be nice. They'd made arrangements to meet with both of our senators and were even hoping to have a chance to meet with Obama. Given that I was interning for him, there was actually a very real possibility they'd get to do it, although they would be back next weekend for Kurt's medal ceremony. Still, it was nice to actually see my parents for a change.

After dinner, my parents dropped us all off, right in front of Daniel Webster Hall. Although we all felt pretty beat, it wasn't all that late - only about 8:30, and not nearly late enough to go to bed, so we all changed into shorts, T-shirts and sandals and headed to the lounge, figuring it was a good time to meet some of our fellow pages.

There were supposed to be thirty pages in the senate, but half of them would be expected to be girls, who were staying on the other floor. That meant there should be another thirteen boy pages, give or take, living on our floor, but in the summer, some of them might be living with relatives.

When we all got to the lounge, there were seven boys inside, all our age and all pretty cute. Three of the boys were dressed in only shorts - they were shirtless and barefoot - which I thought was a little too casual, but then we were trying to keep a low profile and not fuel the rumors any more than was likely to happen anyway.

There was a large flat screen TV on one wall, tuned to some mindless comedy that no one seemed to be paying attention to. The three shirtless boys were engaged in a game of pool, two of the boys were playing a game of chess and the remaining two were playing some kind of video game on an old PS2 that was hooked to an old TV, which of course couldn't be used for watching TV without a converter box anymore.

When we entered the room, everyone looked up at us, and then went back to doing what they had been doing before we entered, without so much as giving us a cursory nod. So much for the Welcome Committee.

Not expecting to make much progress with the pairs engaged in chess or a videogame, we approached the group playing pool and David said, "Hey, guys, How's it going?"

The tallest kid of the group asked, "You the guys they arrested last night?"

"Wow," David answered, "People weren't kidding when they said this place is a real rumor mill.

"No, we weren't arrested, but we were taken in for questioning by the District Police. Let me explain."

David proffered his hand and when the tall kid just stared at it and no one even made an attempt to take it, he said, "OK, if you're not going to at least be polite, I'll just tell you about us, and you can tell us or not tell us about yourselves as well. I'm David Reynolds and this guy standing next to me," he said, patting me on the shoulder, "is Jeremy Kimball. We're staying here at Webster Hall with our friends, Trevor Austin and Kurt DeWitt, who will be Senate Pages all summer. Although we're juniors in high school like the rest of you, we aren't in the Page Program. Instead, we're going to be interning at the White House.

"Anyway, we've been assigned a college kid as a mentor for the summer, and he took us up to see his apartment at the Watergate last night. When we got there, his girlfriend had OD'ed on cocaine. She's gonna be fine," David continued, "but naturally the police had to question all of us about the cocaine. None of us do drugs, so it was no big deal. We just had to spend the whole fuckin' day at District Police Headquarters is all. End of story."

"Oh, OK," the tall kid said. "Is it true you guys are all gay?" the tall kid then asked David. Of course David was a few inches taller than the tall kid, but there was something about the tall kid that made him more intimidating.

"Gees, we're not even here a day, and already the rumors are starting. What business is it of yours if we're gay or straight?" David asked.

"No skin off my nose," the tall kid said as he shrugged his shoulders and chewed his gum. "I'm just askin' is all."

"Well, that's a rather personal question, don't you think, considering I don't even know your names?" David countered.

"I suppose," the kid replied. "So you're sayin' you'll tell us if you're all gay if we all tell you our names?"

"I can't speak for my friends," David answered, "but I'll tell you about me if the rest of you tell me your names, where you're from and a little about yourselves, like what you want to do with your lives, and so on. Oh, and you have to tell me if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, or are gay, too." We all nodded our heads in agreement.

"So you want a fair trade of information?" the tall kid asked as all other activity in the room seemed to have been forgotten.

Rather than answer, David simply proffered his hand again.

Grasping David's hand firmly, the tall kid shook it and said, "OK, David, you're on.

"First of all, my name's Seth Greenwald, I'm from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I like fast cars . . . NASCAR, that is . . . and fast women. I plan to study Electrical Engineering, at Duke, if I'm lucky. And if you really are gay, stay away from me. I hate faggots."

The kid standing next to him said, "And I'm Cody Lancaster, from Lawrence, Kansas, about an hour west of Kansas City. It's where the university is, where my dad's a professor at the Medical Center. I like football . . . it's my passion . . . and cheerleaders, but my sister's a dyke, so I'm not so hung up on the gay thing. If she likes to eat out some pussy, I can understand that. That just makes two of us."

The third kid playing pool added with a smile, "Don't listen to these jerks. My name's Fred Nettles, and I'm from Madison, Wisconsin. If you know anything about Wisconsin, you know that Madison's about as liberal as any place on earth. It's also the state capitol. I hope to be governor some day, and maybe a U.S. Congressman or a Senator. The plan is to study law, I like girls alright, but if you do see a guy in my room just know that he's a good friend. A really, really good friend, and nothing more. Yup, a good friend, and if you say anything more than that, I'll deny it."

Holy crap, Fred was another closet case, just like Will.

"So what about you guys?" Seth asked.

"Wait a minute," David said, putting up his hands. "There are still four other guys in this room we haven't heard from."

"Who said they're part of the deal?"

"I did, back at the beginning," David reminded Seth.

"It's OK," one of the chess players chimed in. "I'm Lyle Hansen, from Little Rock, my interests are poultry farming and agribusiness in general, and, well, I guess you could say I'm shy. I like girls a lot, but I've fooled around with my best friend some, just because we don't have girlfriends yet. But that doesn't make us gay, does it?"

"It makes you perverts," Seth started to say, but Trevor cut him off.

Putting his hand on Lyle's shoulder, Trevor said, "Of course it doesn't make you gay, Lyle. It just makes you normal. What you and your best friend did together, I bet half the boys in the world have done. Circle jerks, jerking each other off, frottage, even trading blowjobs or sixty-nines are perfectly normal things for straight boys to do as part of their sexual experimentation. In some societies, even `corn-holing' is considered a normal part of sexual substitution until boys start dating girls. You've nothing to worry about."

"What makes you such an authority?" Seth asked Trevor.

"I'm the president of our high school's gay-straight alliance," Trevor answered.

"Ha! I knew you guys were gay."

"We'll get to that in a moment," Trevor cautioned, "but it's a gay-straight alliance and I spend a lot of my time counseling confused youth, both gay and straight."

The other chess player came forward and introduced himself. "I'm Todd Warner, from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, New York. I'm of Italian ancestry, and my parents own an Italian restaurant. Me, well, I do great in school, but that means schlepping all the way up to Bronx Science, which is like an hour-and-a-half commute each way, every day, and it's not like the bus is quiet enough to concentrate on my homework, either. But my parents love me and want me to succeed in ways they didn't, and so here I am.

"I hope to be Computer Science major, and maybe specialize in internet security."

"All right, man," Trevor interrupted. "That's my field."

"Cool!" Todd continued. "Anyway, I'm not gay or anything, and I have a girlfriend back home. We're real tight and have been for like almost three years now, but my best friend at Bronx Science is gay. Man, when I see how some of the kids treat him, it makes me want to cry. I've gotten into a lot of fights to try and protect him, but we live so far apart, so I can't help him except at school. His parents hate his guts . . . it breaks my heart."

Looking around the room, I realized that the two kids who had been playing the videogame had left the room. The stinkers had snuck out! Oh well, we'd learn who they were another time.

"Well, I guess you're it for our audience," David said with a grin. He told the guys where we were all from, including our high school, and how he was the class president, how I was on the student council and how we each fit into the school hierarchy. He even told about my back-to-back state swimming championships.

"Does anyone else besides David get to speak?" Seth asked.

"Oh, believe me, we all do," I said, "but David's kind of our official spokesperson. He's just been on local TV so many times, it comes naturally to him, but we've all had experience with the news media, so it's no big deal for any of us. But when David ran for Class President the first time and all the protestors gathered in front of the high school and the TV stations covered the story, David held an impromptu news conference. He showed everyone what was important . . . the issues, not that he was gay . . . and that totally blew his opponents away."

"So you are gay," Seth interjected.

I merely nodded and added, "David and I are prolly the most out couple in our city. We've had our photo on the front page of The Star three times now. 'Course Trevor came out in a pretty big way himself, dancing with David at homecoming a couple years back. The pastor of his church, who happened to be Kurt's father, tried to make an example of Trevor and use his case to get the school GSA disbanded. Instead, The Star ran a huge article on gay youth on the front page of the paper. That was the first time we got our picture on the front page. And you know what? Kurt chose to come out on the front page himself. His old man couldn't take the heat, and ended up skipping town.

"The little guy . . . come to think of it, he's not so little any more . . . will be getting a Congressional Gold Medal for bravery and valor. He put his life in danger to rescue a bunch of kids from a sexual predator at a camp for disadvantaged youth last summer."

"Kurt and I have been together ever since," Trevor added as he drew his boyfriend into his arms and kissed him on top of his head.

"You mean to tell me you just have sex with your boyfriends?" Seth asked. "I thought faggots had sex with everything that moved."

"Hey," David said, "you said you're into fast cars and fast women, but I've only ever had sex with one boy, and that's Jeremy, period. Jeremy satisfies every sexual fantasy I've ever had. Every last one. He's a perfect ten in my book. I have no desire to sleep with anyone else. Why would I sleep with an eight or a nine when I already have a perfect ten? Besides which, I love Jeremy, and that makes all the difference in the world."

"Awe, Davie," I said, "that's so sweet. You know I feel exactly the same way about you!" We leaned in and gave each other a peck on the lips. We couldn't help it - our love was absolute.

"I had one brief relationship, if it could even be called that, before Kurt," Trevor admitted, "but it was nothing compared to what I have with Kurt. Kurt is truly one in a million, and I'm never letting him go. It may be a cliché, but he's truly my soul mate. We've already made plans to marry . . ."

"As have we," I interrupted.

"Kurt fulfills all my sexual fantasies and then some. He's the only man I'll ever need. I just love him so."

"And Trevor is the mirror of my fantasies," Kurt agreed, he's my one-in-a-million, the only man I'll ever need, my soul mate and the love of my life."

"Well, you guys certainly challenge a lot of my thinking about faggots," Seth said, "but it's still a perversion of God's will, and there's no denying what it says in the Bible."

"Seth," Kurt said with a smile, "if you really want to get into the finer points of theology, be prepared to quote chapter and verse, because no one knows the Bible better that I do. I'm the son of an Evangelist preacher and I plan to earn my doctorate in Divinity one day. You're right, there's no denying what it says in the Bible.

"We live on a flat earth which is at most eight thousand years old and on which dinosaurs never roamed. Fish without scales and animals with cloven hooves are forever unclean, but men may own other men and take them to be their servants so long as they set them free after seven years.

"You see, Seth, there's a lot of things in the Bible that are at odds with things we know aren't true, or that are at odds with what anyone would consider ethical by today's standards. God may well have dictated the first five books of the Bible to Moses at Mount Sinai, and the rest of the Bible may have been passed directly from God to man by his own word, but we didn't even have the printing press back then. For more than a millennium and a half, in the case of the New Testament, and even longer in the case of the Old Testament, people copied the Bible painstakingly by hand, one letter at a time. The Bibles we use today represent thousands upon thousands of times of making a copy of a copy of a copy. Not to mention the fact that humanity's understanding of fundamental science at the time of Moses or Christ was so much more limited. Can you imagine trying to explain the earth as only one planet within a solar system within a galaxy that was one among many, back then?

"Imagine how you'd have reacted if you were a Bible writer and you were copying a phrase like `and the seasons changed as the earth made its journey around the sun.' You'd have prolly thought Moses made a mistake in copying down God's word, and you'd have changed it . . . you'd have reversed `sun' and `earth', sure as night and day. That's just one example of how humankind undoubtedly corrupted the original content of the Bible over the millennia.

"The whole issue of gay versus straight seems kinda trivial in the context of the earth as only one of perhaps thousands of planets sustaining intelligent life in the universe, and yet I cannot think of anything more important than my Christian values, Seth. Many would say I'm a hypocrite, but I know better. Christ never spoke of homosexuality, and there's a reason for it. Just as his coming nullified the laws about keeping Kosher, as they were an unnecessary burden that had little to do with serving God's will, just as his coming nullified the acceptance of slavery, which was actually an affront to God's will, his coming represented an acceptance of all God's children, including those who are gay."

"That's an interesting interpretation of the Bible, Kurt, and something tells me it's one that very few if any of your professors in Divinity school are going to go along with it," Seth said. "All I can say is that you're not gonna find much sympathy for your viewpoint around here, so I'd suggest the four of you watch your backs."

With that, the three shirtless guys put their cue sticks away and simply left.

With nothing better to do, we all decided to call it a night.

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


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