Legal Notice:

The following contains descriptions of graphic sexual acts between consenting underage boys. It is a work of fiction and has no basis in reality.

Do not read this story if:

1) You're not 18 or over.
2) If it is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
3) If you don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or having sex.

The author retains copyright (2003) to this story.  Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.

Perry and Jesse:  The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love   

Part IV  Brothers


 It has been pointed out by numerous readers who are enjoying the story of a naive young boy named Perry Thompson, that these prologues are more often than not, infuriating in their subtle and not too subtle insinuations of things to come.  To those disgruntled readers I can only say this:  Take what you will from these chronicles.  Enjoy what you find here to enjoy; discard that which annoys, confuses, or offends.  Lives often follow convoluted paths filled with unexpected twists and turns.  Mine has certainly been no exception, and while I have had my share of regrets, I make no apologies for it.

The following is yet another fragment of the delirious saga that was my youth.  It was a time of sexual and social awakening for me and many of my peers, and at times, it seemed like we were all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, sometimes knocking ourselves nearly senseless as we bumbled blindly into life's complex and interwoven physical and emotional webs.

Part IV is called Brothers, and besides the obvious connotations, alludes to some of the other relationships that were developing in my life around this time.  While I was, at that point in time, an only child, many of the people I was closest too were parts of larger family units.  I was always fascinated and somewhat envious of those who had siblings both older and younger: Morgan Kipner and his younger brother, Derek, Tom Espinoza and his two sisters, and of course, Jesse Taylor and his precious little sister--the dear, sweet, and ever so wise Miranda.

And even though I was lacking in true and full siblings, this was around the time that I started to form a special bond with my younger cousin Derrin, a bond that would evolve into a deeply rooted friendship that has lasted to this day.  He is in many ways, the closest thing I have to a true brother.  We talk about everything and we are always there for each other. As it turns out, there are things you can't even tell your wife, and yet I share them willingly with my 'secret brother.'  There were my mother's siblings as well, my Uncle Ron and Aunt Rosemary, and of course, way off in the misty towers of Manhattan, my father, who at this point in my life, was still a somewhat distant and ambiguous figure.  Even though I may not have fully realized it at the time, I was somehow linked to all these people in various ways, some conventional and others not.

And then there was Jesse Taylor.  It seemed that Jesse and I had pretty much skipped the nascent stages  of youthful relationships, side stepping the normal progression of playground pals and school chums, only to plunge almost immediately into a profoundly passionate and romantic relationship that continued to have unforeseen consequences, both good and bad for each of us.  In many ways, it was a relationship that ran so deep, I rarely even thought of us as best friends.  And yet, around this time, I also came to the realization that we could have another kind of relationship.  It was difficult for me to accept, but it was undoubtedly there and possibly kept me from going mad during the times when I couldn't be with my beautiful blond angel in the intimate ways for which I hungered.

As I mentioned in the prologue to Part III, I did inform Jesse of my current writing project and he did respond.  To see that long, silky, golden blond hair cascading down his lean shoulders and that unmistakable twinkle in those crystal blue eyes staring at me through the hi-rez 2.5D satlink was almost more than I could bear.  While he certainly could no longer pass for that shy, frightened thirteen year old sitting under a tree at good old St. Boniface, terrified at the prospect of having to battle ignorance and adversity  and his own personal demons in a strange new land, seeking nothing more than  some modicum of peace and solitude, it seemed to me, seeing him sitting there across my desk in virtual reality, that I could reach out and touch him, and if not for the fact that he was actually on the other side of the world in Tai Pei, that we could still relive those giddy days of high school, when we were so certain that we had our whole lives ahead of us to share together.

While it is true that Jesse and I had our share of youthful adventures and misadventures,  both profound and superficial, what you are about to read here is not a tale of high drama, violence, or mind numbing trauma, but more a whimsical story of young teens discovering new things about themselves, both physically and emotionally, and how they struggled valiantly to relate these things not only to the much simpler lives they had led as children, but also to the inevitable future of impending adult responsibilities and values that loom so large and intimidatingly during those tumultuous years of adolescence.

Recall that I have changed the names of all persons, whether living or dead, and created some fictional places as well, such as Santa Corina and St. Boniface.  Once again I apologize if the memories of thirty years ago sometimes seem hazy.  If these are not the clothes you remember wearing, or the slang you remember using, I hope you will accept my attempt to at least recreate what I consider a virtual backdrop, a veritable 2.5D hi-rez world for the people and stories you will find herein.

With Jesse's permission, I will share with you a text version of his response to my writing of these chronicles as an epilogue to Part IV.  In the meantime, don't hesitate to send me your comments, either by text or  satlink.  I always respond promptly to any and all c-links to the best of my ability.

And lastly, some news that any father would be proud to relate:  my son's rocket hockey team took first place in the JV Catholic regional finals this past weekend--Go Silver Knights!

Talk to me @Pt-9009-U/ (scram/dir)

Perry Thompson  June 16th, 2034

Chapter 1  Frustrations

I was too exhausted Saturday night to think about much of anything.   It wasn't until early Sunday morning, while lying in my warm and comfortable bed, listening to the water dripping from the eaves during what sounded like a light November rain, that I had my first opportunity to go over everything that had happened...

It had been an amazing couple of days with Jesse.  He had come over on Friday to help us get ready for the big St. Agnus rummage sale.   The afternoon had started off with a bang as we went at each other like two dogs in heat.  In the evening, we met an extremely charming and handsome high schooler named Jason Tarentino, who was picking things up for the rummage sale.  While both of us had been smitten, I felt my first pang of jealousy as I noticed that Jesse seemed even more taken by the handsome sophomore than I was.  It frightened me then to think how easily I could lose him.  I had no special talents or attributes to entice him with, and I was physically the most plain and ordinary kid who ever walked the face of the Earth.  Jesse on the other hand, while reluctant to reveal his inner self to all but a chosen few, was physically attractive to both boys and girls, and I was convinced that someone was bound to come along and sweep him up, leaving me eating their dust.

My fears proved to be unfounded, at least for the time being, as the evening we spent together in my room proved to be the most magical and passionate of my entire existence.  It was the night I first came to truly realize that Jesse and I were indeed soulmates, and the meaning of that term became crystal clear as we clung to each other's unclothed bodies.  I felt that every moment we spent together brought us closer together in some invisible yet very tangible way.  That night we expressed our love for each other in nearly every way.  As I came to terms with my physical lust for everything 'Jesse,' I started to realize that eventually, there would be no physical barriers between us, and that someday, when the time and circumstances were right, we would become lovers in the strictest definition of the word.

The large scale rummage sale at our church on Saturday turned out to involve much more than just carrying boxes of clothes back and forth to people's cars, although as far as my mom and Father Mike were concerned, that's what we spent the whole day doing.  In actuality, I experienced one of the most horrifying events of my young life when I was seized by the captain of Holy Trinity's varsity wrestling team, a hulking brute named Fred Goreski.   He had decided he was going to pay me twenty bucks to give him a blow job in the bathroom of the social hall.  I was completely terrified at the prospect, and found the appearance of his enormous piece of meat nauseating.

While I sat there like a helpless little girl, praying that Jesse would come in and rescue me, my knight in shining armor proved unexpectedly to be another high schooler, one of the few junior members of Goreski's posse at school. Unfortunately, Gary Van Driesen soon found himself in need of rescuing from an extremely pissed off wrestling captain.  That's when Jesse came in, and like a true hero, not even knowing who the guy was, defended Van Driesen against the monstrously out of control Goreski. What the true ramifications of that encounter would be, were at this point unknown.  Jesse was convinced that Goreski would not let the matter go.  He would undoubtedly find some way to get his vengeance, and Jesse warned me to me vigilant.

 While I was quick to embrace Van Driesen as a noble rescuer of helpless thirteen year old kids, Jesse was far more skeptical of anyone who kept company with an ogre like Goreski.  After some insightful prodding by Jesse, Gary revealed that he himself had been waiting for his turn at being serviced by me!  As disturbing as this was to my naive sensibilities,  it raised the possibility that the darkly intriguing junior might be attracted to boys and I hoped that, at some point in the future, I might be able to discuss this with him.  In the end, we seemed to come to an uneasy truce, and Gary agreed to be our eyes and ears at Holy Trinity, promising to let us know if he heard any news about Goreski and any possible plan for retribution.

As if that weren't enough to make the day memorable, we ended up encountering Jessica Bainbridge and her cousin from an upscale San Diego suburb.  After spending a quiet hour with Jessica at Katy's un-Halloween party, I had come to realize that I had some nascent feelings for this beautiful brown haired girl from our class, who tended to come off as arrogant and conceited at school, but who turned out to be a kinder and more sensitive soul than she cared to reveal to most others.  Much to my astonishment, Jesse, slipping easily into the role of a straight and horny teenage stud, contrived for us to make out with the two cousins in the basement of the church social hall, directly below the rummage sale where my mom chatted away in blissful ignorance with her choir friends and sold antiques to blue haired old ladies.

Despite my initial reluctance, and the completely fabricated story I had told Jessica about having a serious girlfriend back in La Jolla to whom I was trying to be faithful, we ended up connecting on a physical level that in turn, brought the two of us closer together on an internal level as well.  It was the first time I had felt anything like anger towards Jesse.  I was shocked when he later revealed to me his true intention of trying to find for me someone who was, in his eyes, truly worthy of my love and attention.  I quickly set Jesse straight on that account, although I chastised him for putting Jessica and me in such a difficult and vulnerable situation.  It was a problem that needed to be addressed soon, because I felt like I was hurting Jessica's feelings in a way that troubled me deeply.

The afternoon ended incredibly in Jesse's apartment, where I finally was able to set up the computer for him that I had promised him many weeks ago.  Despite his amazing martial arts abilities, top honors in academics, and his almost clairvoyant insights into other people, Jesse showed that he was all too human as he rushed into the bathroom to be violently sick shortly after arriving at his apartment.  The guilt he had been harboring about hurting even a brute like Fred Goreski, compounded with his  conflicted feelings about his relationship with me, had driven his body to levels of stress that even he wasn't able to tolerate.

Recovering quickly from his upset stomach, Jesse proceeded to engage me in one of the most kinky and erotic sessions of our passionate physical relationship.  It had ended with the two of us snuggling in Jesse's small bed, clinging warmly and lovingly to each other in a way that had no comparison with any other relationship or experience in my young life.  It was everything I needed to be truly happy, and I left reluctantly, knowing that our lives required us to spend most of our days separated from each other.   Before we parted, we acknowledged and reaffirmed our commitment to keep the true nature of our relationship a secret, even from our own families.

After finishing my shower, I started reaching for my toothbrush when I noticed a piece of hair on the counter.  It was  at least six inches long and looked like the finest spun thread of yellow-gold filament.   I realized it was a single strand of Jesse's beautiful golden blond hair, and for some reason I got very emotional, standing there in front of the steamed up mirror with a towel wrapped around my waist. 

Instead of triggering one of the many wonderful memories of the fantastic evening we had spent together less than thirty six hours ago, I flashed on the first time Jesse had come to my house.  He had bashfully gone into the bathroom to change out of his school clothes.  I remembered how dumbfounded I had been, seeing Jesse dressed in a simple  T-shirt and well-worn but snug fitting jeans for the first time.  That had been over a month ago now, and it made my head spin to think of all the things we had been through since then.

I carefully picked up the strand of hair, took it back to my room, touched it to my lips, and reverently  laid it between the pages of my hardcover copy of Dune, the book Jesse had been reading that first day I spoke to him under the tree.  Just a couple weeks shy of my fourteenth birthday, I was already well on my way to becoming a sentimental old fool!

I feared running into Jessica and Katy at ten o'clock Mass.  It was a bustling place, not only full of people from our class and school, but all our parents as well, and it would be difficult to find someplace to have a quiet heart to heart.  Fortunately, my mom had to go early for choir practice, so I just went up to the loft with her and stayed there, not coming down until the Mass was over and most of the congregation was well on its way to brunch with friends, or rudhing out the door to get home in time to watch the football game.

I spent the rest of the day doing my homework and catching up with my reading.  I was enjoying the latest installment of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and was anxious to share my thoughts with Gene, the biggest King fan I knew.  I remembered that Tom had invited both Jesse and me to join him and Derek at the mall arcade, but I simply didn't have the strength for it.  There was a dilemma there that I had little stomach for:  Tom, who had revealed to me, only a couple of weeks ago, that he was gay, having been frustrated by a secret, unrequited crush on me, now had set his sites on Morgan Kipner's younger brother, Derek.

Derek, a frisky thirteen year old seventh grader, was an enigma even to Jesse, who often had a knack for seeing the hidden nature in people.  Both Tom and Jesse agreed that Derek had some sort of crush on my beautiful angel, but whether it was sexual or something all together different was difficult to ascertain.  Tom himself was  afraid to discuss any of these things directly with Derek, even though they were seemingly the best of friends, fearful that any unexpected sexual revelations could lead to the break up of their relationship.

Jesse was home babysitting all day, since his mom had taken yesterday off from her restaurant job to go on an impromptu day trip to San Diego with her new boyfriend.  Yeah, Jesse's mom had a boyfriend and it seemed to be getting somewhat serious.  I wanted to bring the subject up with my mom, who, in the year and a half since her divorce became official, had yet to go on a single date.  The closest she came was brunch or dinner with friends from church, which occasionally included men.

Still, when I looked at her, she didn't appear unhappy.  She seemed to enjoy being involved at St. Agnus; she seemed more than satisfied with her job at a local law firm where she served as head paralegal; she liked the sleepy little town of Santa Corina, and she was glad that I had found a niche for myself at St. Boniface.  Was it possible that she didn't need to date?  That her life was complete without it?  Or was it that her experience with my father, who finally revealed that he had been having an affair with an old classmate for nearly a year behind her (and my) back, had turned her off to men in general?

"Everything okay, hon?" she asked as she dusted the coffee table in the den, where I was sitting curled up on the big leather recliner with my book.  It was kind of funny: because the maid came on Mondays, my mom felt like she needed to clean the house on Sunday--weird, huh?

"Sure, mom--I was just wondering..."

"Yes?" she stopped her dusting to give me her full attention.

"I was just wondering if you' know... happy," I said clumsily, realizing that it was one thing to think about these things, but another to try and say them out loud.

She came and sat on the edge of the sofa closest to the recliner.  "Why would you ask?"

I shrugged, turning my attention back to my book.  My mom reached over and gently closed it.  She looked at me expectantly.

I sighed nervously.  I liked my mom a lot, in fact, more than a lot.  I had carefully observed the way she handled the situation with my father when he all but abandoned us.  Sure, he still sent money, and I had to go stay with him a few times a year, but otherwise, he was seemingly out of our lives.  My mom was totally responsible for helping us to move on, finding the paralegal job in Santa Corina, and enrolling me at her old alma mater.  She had joined the choir at St. Agnus  and soon made friends and got involved in more and more church activities.  Never once had I seen her renege on a commitment, whether it be work, school, or church related, and she always had time for me, even working her schedule so she could pick me up and take me home after school, and then go back to her office to finish up her shift.

"I just hope you're happy," I said redundantly.

"You hope...?" she asked with a delicate smile.  She still looked good, my mom did.  This afternoon, she had her long dark brown hair tied back, and wore a simple coral colored sweater, jeans, and white Nikes.  She had cleaned off the majority of the makeup she wore to church, and looked young and healthy--I would say pretty--but I guess I was biased.

"I mean, Jesse's mom's dating and..."

"I see," she interrupted with a knowing smile, all the while her voice warm and gentle.  "And you wonder why I'm not seeing anyone?"

I nodded sheepishly.

She sat back against the overstuffed sofa cushions and let out a small sigh.  Her eyes wandered from the bigscreen TV to the ceiling, and back to me.

"I guess it's hard to find time..." she began, and then slowly shook her head.  "No, that's not true," she said, almost as if arguing with herself.  "It's just that, after going through an experience like I had with your father, it's hard to start again."

"Aren't there some nice guys at church?" I asked, knowing that there were at least two or three single guys in the choir who weren't over a hundred years old.

She nodded thoughtfully.  "I suppose there are, and I suppose, if I really wanted to, I could probably go out on a date with one or the other of them but..."  She shrugged helplessly.  "I guess it's a matter of time, not time now, but time passing...Do you know what I mean?"  She looked meaningfully into my eyes.

"It hasn't been long enough yet, since dad..."

She nodded, only a brief shadow passing over her face before her gentle smile returned.  She reached over and brushed my cheek.

"Every day, you remind me more and more of him," she said wistfully.

"I'm sorry..." I said, bowing my head with shame.

But she took my chin and lifted my gaze back to her.  "What are you apologizing for, silly?  You're becoming as handsome as your father and that's a wonderful blessing."  She sat back on the sofa, getting that far away look.

"When I met your father in college, I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen," she said quietly.  "And he was so smart, and so charming..." Her voice trailed off nostalgically and I thought I saw the beginnings of tears in her eyes.

I got up and went to sit next to her on the sofa.  She took me in her arm and laid my head on her shoulder.

"Dad hurt you a lot, huh?" I asked timidly.

"My dear, sweet Perry," she crooned, her voice choked with emotion, "what ever else your father may have done, he gave me you, my sweet, beautiful, precious boy, and I'll always be grateful to him for that."

I waited until after nine to call Jesse, figuring that his rambunctious little sister would be in bed by then.

"Hey there, sweetie pie," I said in a hushed voice.  While I was pretty sure my mom couldn't hear me from her bedroom if I spoke at a normal volume, I was always cautious.

"Hi, Perry," he said quietly, only the slight quiver in his raspy voice telling me that he was glad to hear from me.

"Did you talk to your mom about the internet connection?" I asked.  Even though there was a phonejack in his room, I told him it would be better to get his own line.

"I don't think she's going to go for the separate line," he said dismally.

I cringed, imagining that Jesse and his mom had yet another argument that at least peripherally was caused by me, since I had given Jesse the computer.

"But didn't you tell her you'd pay for it yourself?" I asked disappointedly.

"Yeah, but she said we might need that money for other things..."

It hadn't even occurred to me that Jesse might have to contribute all or part of his tutoring money to the 'family fund,' helping to pay for expenses like groceries, utlities, car insurance or whatever.  I was so spoiled, that I never had to think about those things.  If I got ten bucks, it was my ten bucks.  If I got a hundred bucks, it was mine to do with as I pleased...within reason of course.

"Shit, I'm sorry," I said, both apologizing for my thoughtlessness and for Jesse not getting his own phoneline.

"It's not all doom and gloom, dude," he assured me with a cute little giggle.  "She said we'd work something out where I could block out some time to get on the internet.  She and Miranda want to use it too of course, so it's gonna get pretty busy in my room once we get the thing hooked up--but it's better than nothing!" he ended optimistically.

I guess it wouldn't be too bad, as long as everyone had their own screen name.  It meant they'd have to get one of the more expensive services like AOL or Earthlink, but then maybe his mom wouldn't make Jesse pay the whole bill.  Sometimes I wished I could just get my dad to send my monthly checks straight over to the Taylors... 

I miss you, my little Valentine baby," I teased, referring to the fact that Jesse's birthday happened to fall on February fourteenth.

"Hehehe, very funny--remember that next time I have your dick in my mouth!" he whispered.

"And when is that gonna be?" I asked, feeling myself getting hard just talking about it.

"Don't know, dude...but speaking of birthdays, did you decide what you're gonna do?"

"Disneyland of course--just like we talked about!"

"Don't do it just for me..." Jesse pleaded.

"It'll be great!  What we have to decide is if we want to invite any of the other guys or not.    What do you think?"

"Gees, Perry--it's your birthday!" he reminded me, tossing the decision back in my court.

"I don't know.  On the one hand, it would be fun to have Morgan and the guys along--the more the merrier...On the other hand, you and me in a hotel room alone all night..."

"That wouldn't be fair to your other friends," Jesse pointed out.

I sighed.  My sweet, considerate angel--God how I loved him!

"Yeah, you're right.  We'll find some other chance to have our own private celebration!" I assured him.  "So tomorrow I'll ask Morgan, Tom, and Gene..."

"When exactly is this trip--I have to check my calendar you know!" Jesse teased.

I glanced at the Tolkien calendar on the wall over the TV.  "Well, the actual b-day is December fifth which is a Friday..." I said working it out.  "But this would have to be like a two day deal..." I mused.  "Last year we took Tom, Morgan, and Gene to L.A. to see the Lakers and stayed overnight at the Bonaventure.  It was a total blast.  We rode these glass elevators up and down for like half the night, and then we spent the day at Universal...But anyway, the game started at eight on Friday, so we had no problem getting over there after school."  I paused, coming up with a new possibility.   "Hmmm, let me talk to my mom...I bet Morgan and I'll have a basketball practice on Saturday,  so maybe we could go on Sunday and Monday...I bet my mom'd let us blow a day of school if I asked her really, really nice..." I said in a cutesy voice.

"That'd be awesome!" Jesse said in an excited whisper.  "School's for nerds anyway!"

"Yeah, right, Mr. Top Academic Honors," I teased.

"Hey, don't knock it," Jesse said, and I could tell he had that evil grin on his face.  "Next time we get together, I'll let you be on top!"

I knew Monday was going to be one of those days when I saw a larger than usual group of girls clustered around Jessica's desk before the bell rang for homeroom.   All morning long, girls kept staring at Jesse and me, giggling and tittering knowingly...Gees!

We had homeroom and Math in the same room, and didn't have to change classes until English.  As we strolled along the open corridor, I got more of the same reaction from the female contingent.  Jesse was a few steps behind me, but I guessed he was getting the same treatment.  In that sense, his plan had certainly been a success.  Even Kyle came up and gave me one of his patented winks.  The only weird thing was, when I actually got into the doorway of Miss Ruetner's class, Dana abruptly brushed past me in much more than a casual way, nearly knocking me off my feet. 

"What was that about?" Jesse asked, as we took our seats.

"I don't know...Guess she was just anxious to get inside," I offered.

Jesse gave me a skeptical look and then made little kissy lips.  I blushed.  Dana...?  No way!

At lunch, I officially announced my birthday plans to Gene, Tom, and Morgan.  I asked if they'd be free the weekend of the sixth.  Gene had a football game for sure and Morgan was pretty sure Coach Riegert would schedule a basketball practice Saturday morning, so I'd have to go to plan 'B'.

"I was thinking of getting my mom to see if she can get us out of school on that Monday," I told them quietly, not wanting any of the other kids from our class to hear.  I was glad that Derek was sitting with his own friends today, although he did frequently glance our way. 

Morgan and Tom thought that would be a great idea, but Gene didn't look too excited.  I felt like he and I had lost touch in the last month or so, with both the football and basketball teams doing so well this year and the coaches demanding more and more of our time.  Maybe I hadn't kept up my end of the friendship and he was feeling resentful.  I hoped that wasn't the case because I really liked Gene.  Even though he looked like he was born to be a bulked up, thick necked football player, he was such a serenely happy and gentle guy and seemed to get along with everyone. 

Towards the end of the period, Morgan hooked up with Katy, and Derek came by and started chatting with Tom.
"Maybe you should talk to Gene," Jesse suggested judiciously. 

I would have rather spent a little quiet time with Jesse by our lockers or somewhere, but I nodded reluctantly.  Derek and Tom started telling Jesse about all the high scores they got at the arcade on Sunday  and I was able to easily slip away.  I saw Gene standing around with Eric Adams and Artim Khouladarian.  When I started heading that way, Gene immediately excused himself and walked over to join me.

"Hey, I'm glad we have a minute to talk," Gene said, looking a little uneasy, but giving me a warm smile nonetheless.

"Yeah I know.  It seems like we hardly see each other these days," I said.  "I started reading the new Dark Tower and wanted to talk to you about it."

"Yeah, it just gets better and better.  If this series is really the last thing he ever publishes, he's really gonna go out on top," Gene predicted.  Then the smile on his face diminished slightly. 

"I...uh...don't know how to tell you this, bud," he said a little hesitantly.  "But I don't think I'm gonna be able to make your birthday trip this year..."

"Oh," I said, and I'm sure he saw the disappointment in my eyes.

"Yeah, it's just that we have a football practice on Monday afternoon, and even if we didn't, I don't think my folks would let me skip school--even for such an illustrious event!" he laughed drily.

"Oh, that's okay..." I said unconvincingly.

"Yeah, it's just that, with all the extra pressure Coach's been putting on us this season, I'm starting to fall behind in some classes--man, Mr. Walsh just puts me to sleep, dude!"

"I know what you mean," I laughed.  "And I wish he'd clip his nose hairs for crying out loud!"

We both laughed at the running joke in class.  Mr. Walsh was six foot four, and even the tallest kids had to look up to him.  Since most of us didn't even come up to his chin, you couldn't help but look straight up his nostrils!

"Anyway, I'd really love to go and hang out with you guys--we had such a blast last year!" Gene said.  "But I swear Perry, after football and basketball are over, we've got to go out for a round of golf--my treat--okay?"

"I'd love to!" I said excitedly. 

That afternoon, I told my mom about my birthday plans and she agreed to talk to our principal, Mr. Cardoza about it.  In fact, she decided it would be best to speak to him in person, and would stop by the office when she came to pick me up tomorrow.

When I checked my email that evening, I was surprised to see one from Gary Van Driesen.  I was glad because I thought that, even though we had met under some very bizarre circumstances, we might still be friends.  Besides, he'd be a senior next year and that could help Jesse and me out enormously.

When I read his email however, I wasn't sure what to think...

Dear Perry,

you probably didn't expect to hear from me so soon (or ever)lol, but I had to tell you again how sorry I was for what happened. You don't know how glad I am that I stopped Fred before he could go through with his plan and I am totally ashamed of my participation.  It's obvious to me now that I was hanging with the wrong crowd at school.  Of course now, I'll have to find some new people to hang with...any ideas? (lololol!)

The main reason I'm writing to you is to let you (and Jesse) know that Fred Goreski didn't come to school today.  Since I was banished from his circle, it was hard to get much info, but it seems like he mysteriously hurt his back at the rummage sale on Saturday...Hmmmmmm, I wonder what that could be about? Anyway, I'll keep an eye out just like I said and keep you posted as I find out more.

Love and Grins,


I smiled at his closing line.  It sounded like something from the 1960's.  I debated with myself as to whether or not I should tell Jesse.  I just knew he'd take the news badly, and it would stir up all his guilt and fears.  It was only Monday.  Goreski would probably be back to school tomorrow for sure, so maybe it would be okay to let this one little item slip through the cracks...

The next day, I noticed Jesse looking very uncomfortable.  Artim and Manny kept glancing at him or giving him gangsta signs or some other inane teenage signal for coolness.  I wondered what that was about.  It might just be that they had heard about our encounter with Jessica and her cousin, and were showing their approval in their quaint and immature way.  On the other hand,  Jesse seemed more than a little bothered by it.  I was glad I hadn't told him about Goreski--he didn't need the added guilt and upset.  And as far as I was concerned, Goreski deserved what ever he got.

Tom, was a huge Disney fan, and knew everything there was to know, not just about the theme parks, but about the history of the company and all the animated features and TV series.  He spent the whole lunch period telling Jesse, Morgan, and me how excited he was about going to the California Adventure Park for the third time!  He  sounded intimately familiar with all the rides and exhibits and was telling us which ones would be the most crowded and where we should go first and on and on and on.

Even when Derek came to join us, he still continued talking about our upcoming trip and I felt a little embarrassed.  It wasn't nice to talk about  birthday plans like that in front of somebody who hadn't been invited.  But Derek just seemed to enjoy listening to Tom talk, and he did share a funny story about Morgan.  Apparently, a few years ago, after the whole Kipner family had stuffed themselves with Cajun seafood at the Blue Bayou, Derek had dragged Morgan back to Space Mountain for one more roller coaster ride before the park closed for the night.  It seemed that Morgan might have had some bad gumbo or something, because when the ride was over, he had staggered outside and puked his guts out on some old lady's shoes!

It was kind of funny to watch Morgan chasing his much smaller and quicker sibling all around the schoolyard.  Even though Morgan was obviously embarrassed by his brother's story, it didn't seem like he was really that upset.  It was more like they were playing a game.  At the end, I saw the two of them standing near the school building with Morgan wagging his finger at his younger brother, and Derek looking very cowed and apologetic.  It was kind of cute...

That afternoon, when my mom came to pick me up after school, she pulled into the parking lot and I took her to the office.  I didn't want to hang around and jinx the situation, so I wandered over to the library to see if Jesse was there tutoring.

Before I got there, I spotted him pulling things out of his locker, so I snuck up on him real slow and quiet like and...

"Boo!" Jesse shouted, whirling on me and causing my heart to leap into my throat.

"Someday, I'm gonna surprise you!" I told him breathlessly.  His senses were so keenly tuned, and his reflexes so fast, it was almost impossible to catch him off guard, physically or verbally.

"You do surprise me, Perry," he said with a loving smile.  "Every day you look more beautiful to me than you did the day before."

"Awww..." I said, stuffing my hands in my pockets and scuffing my sneaker on the pavement.

"You didn't call last night, dude," he said disappointedly.

I could feel myself blushing.  Gary's email had bothered me and I had decided not to tell Jesse about it and that had plagued my conscience even more. 

"Well, I..." I started to make some lame excuse when Jesse's expression abruptly changed.  He was looking behind me so I turned.  It was Artim and Manny sauntering our way, strange little grins playing across their faces.  They both had their backpacks slung over their shoulders and their skateboards tucked under their arms.

"Hey guys," I said, forcing a little smile, even though I was still bothered by what they had said about Tom and Derek at the arcade the week before.

They certainly made an interesting pair: Artim, tall and thin, with his large nose, thick eyebrows, and his bristly black hair, and Manny, with his short, blond streaked black hair, his small round face and delicate Asian features, barely coming up to Artim's shoulders.

I hadn't seen Jesse interact with these two before and I noticed that, in a very subtle way, he had shifted to his defensive mode, ready to react to any threat.

"Dudes!" Artim said, holding his free hand up for a high five.  I gave him a firm, manly slap, and he smiled approvingly.

Manny and Artim exchanged some sort of meaningful glances while Jesse watched suspiciously, still standing by his open locker.  I couldn't imagine that these two would be looking for any kind of trouble even if they were generally regarded as the official 'freaks' of our small eighth grade class.

"What's up?" Jesse asked uneasily.

"We heard, dude!" Manny snickered.  He poked Artim with his elbow and Artim poked him back.

"What're you talking about?" I asked, getting tired of all the weird looks and childish body language.

"'Bout the rummage sale, dudes!" Artim explained.

Now it was Jesse's and my turn to exchange glances--glances of puzzlement and concern.  They weren't talking about Jessica and Clarissa...

"Yeah, we heard what you did to Freddy Goreski," Manny said. "Totally awesome!"  Manny held his palm up for Jesse to high five him, but he just stood there, a neutral expression on his face.

"Wh...what are you guys talking about?" I stammered, trying unsuccessfully to sound perplexed by his statement.

"Hey, my bro's a senior at H.T.," Artim explained.  "He was at the rummage sale helping out, and he heard what happened to Goreski and Van Driesen.  They tried to fuck with you guys in the john and Jesse knocked them on their big, dumb high school asses!"  Manny and Artim began giggling like Beavis and Butthead.

Obviously, wherever they got the story from, it had been intentionally or unintentionally altered.

"So, ya gonna show me what you can do?" Manny asked Jesse, taking a hokey looking karate stance.

"Knock it off--you guys are nuts," Jesse said disdainfully.  He turned and finished getting stuff out of his locker and putting it in his backpack. 

"You saw what happened, right?" Artim asked me.

"Just drop it, guys, okay?" Jesse asked, his voice sounding tense but restrained.

"But we couldn't believe it, bashful little Jesse Taylor, beating up the captain of the fuckin' wrestling team!"  Artim exclaimed rather loudly. 

Jesse glanced around nervously, relieved to see that no one else was in earshot.  "If it's so unbelievable, why don't you just let it go?" he pointed out, now clearly annoyed.

"Why?" Manny asked, genuinely puzzled by Jesse's response.  "I bet you could take any guy in this school--don't you want people to know?"

"What for?" Jesse asked sharply, clipping his words the way he did when he was in his streetkid mode.  It was the part of him I liked the least, even though it had saved my sorry ass more than once.

"Shit!" Artim said, still acting like the whole thing was a big joke.  "You don't want everyone thinking you're a fag!"

"He's not a fag!" I retorted, the words coming out of my mouth before I could stop them.

"Chill!" Artim said, apologizing quickly.  "I'm not saying Jesse's a fag--just that he looks kinda--you know--like one of those Hanson guys or something."

"Something bother you about the way I look?" Jesse asked in a clearly threatening manner, his expression hardening.

Both boys actually backed up a step.  They obviously took the rumor they had heard to heart, despite their opinion that they thought Jesse looked like some sort of sissy.

"No, it's cool-we're tight!" Artim said, starting to raise his hand for a high five and then quickly reconsidering.

"Yeah, you know Per's our good bud, and we don't want no trouble, right?" Manny asked, the slight quiver in his voice giving away his fear.

I wanted to tell him that I wasn't their 'good bud,' but it seemed like only stupid things kept coming out of my mouth so I kept it shut.

"I don't want any trouble either," Jesse declared rather loudly.

Manny and Artim nodded, clearly getting the message.

"I need to get to the library," Jesse announced, slinging his backpack over his shoulder.  He started walking.  "C'mon, Perry," he said, not turning to look back or acknowledge the continuing presence of Artim and Manny.

I followed quickly, breathing a sigh of relief once we were inside.  Harriet Quinn, one of the seventh graders Jesse was tutoring, a pudgy redhead with freckles and braces, waved timidly from a small table in back.

"Just hang for a bit until those guys remember they're late for their lobotomy appointments," Jesse whispered.  He gave me a shy smile and I knew my beautiful angel was back again. 

"I'll talk to you later," I said, just hovering near the door.

I waited for about five minutes, enjoying watching Jesse work with his student.  It was obvious from the way the seventh grader looked at him that she was totally smitten.  I imagined she must be the envy of every girl in her class.  Finally, Jesse glanced over to me and nodded that the coast was probably clear.  That was good because my mom might be wandering around looking for me by now.

I almost ran into Derek Kipner--literally--as I stepped outside.  He was out of breath, and clutching his backpack in his hands.  His bright green eyes opened wide with surprise.

For about five seconds our gazes locked.  I desperately searched for some sort of sign that Derek might be gay, and realized I had no idea what that looked like.  He was just a normal kid, a little small and youngish looking for a thirteen year old, but still just a kid.

"Shit--sorry Perry!" he apologized.  "I wanna finish this Math assignment so Jesse can go over it with me."

"How's the tutoring going?" I asked with a friendly smile.

"Totally bodacious--Jesse is the awesomest!"  Derek opened the door and disappeared inside.

I intercepted my mom as she was coming out of the office.  I looked at her expectantly.

"Mr. Cardoza said it would be fine as long as you all make up the work as soon as possible," my mom explained with a satisfied smile as we walked back to the parking lot.  "And he asked that you and your friends try to keep this under your hats."

"Gees, that's great!"  I said, almost hugging my mom right there in the parking lot.  I caught myself at the last second and instead just grinned like a circus clown.

There was another email from Gary that evening and I dreaded opening it.  Apparently, Goreski had returned to school, but he wouldn't be able to participate in wrestling practices or the match this coming Saturday because of some lower back problems.  Also, rumors were starting to fly around that Goreski had been in some kind of fight at the rummage sale with a kid much younger and smaller than himself, and according to the rumor, Goreski had not come out on top.

If what Jesse had said about Goreski wanting to get revenge on us was true, it sounded like there was now plenty to fuel that particular fire.  I realized I couldn't keep this from him any longer.

"Hey, buddy!" he answered cheerfully when I called him later that evening.  "Looks like my mom's gonna let us get AOL.  They give you like a ton of free hours for the first month.  Then I'll split the monthly cost with her--so things are working out!" he said excitedly.  And then in a low whisper, "Now you can send me all those dirty pictures of yourself you keep telling me about!"

"What are you talking about, dude?!" I laughed, completely taken by surprise despite my somber mood.  "The only dirty pictures you're gonna get are the ones of me working in the garden!"

"That's fine--as long as they're the nude ones!"

We laughed and I couldn't help but let the warmth of Jesse's bright spirits fill me.  I didn't want to ruin this wonderful moment, but I also knew I couldn't hold anything back from him either.  I had to tell him what was going on.  I felt like such a bastard...

"Jesse..." I said seriously.

"Yeah?" he asked, obviously picking up on the worried tone of  my voice.

I told him about Gary's emails and there was a long pause.  I heard him sigh.

"Okay, dude--thanks for telling me..." he said in a subdued voice.

"What are we going to do?" I asked frustratedly.  This was all because of me.  I kept going back to that morning, sitting in that stall with Goreski's massive dick staring me in the face.  If I had clamped down on it real hard, if I  had pushed him out of the way, if I had just given him what he wanted...we wouldn't be in this situation.  "I'm so sorry I got you into this mess..." I apologized.

"Don't go there," Jesse said soothingly.  "You didn't do anything wrong.  You're only problem is that you're too cute for your own good..."

I knew Jesse was trying to comfort me, but I didn't like him making excuses for me.   I didn't want him treating me like a little baby, trying to sooth me with mindless platitudes.

"This is serious..." I reminded him.

"I know it is," he answered calmly.

"Then what are we going to do?" I asked helplessly.

"We're going to go on with our lives, Perry, and I'm going to thank God for every day I have you in my life."

No, no, no!  This wasn't getting us anywhere!  Why wasn't Jesse taking this more seriously?

"Jesse, you're scaring me..." I said, my voice trembling with emotion.

"I don't mean to," he assured me.  "I just don't want..."  And his voice suddenly trailed off.  I wondered if someone had come into the room and he had to stop speaking, but I couldn't hear anything.


"I feel like everything is going to work out fine, all right?" he said confidently.  "Sure, we'll have to watch our backs, and I don't want you to go anywhere alone--especially the mall, okay?"

That sounded more like a plan and I breathed a little easier.  "Yeah, I'll be careful," I promised him.

"Good.  Now I have to go to bed and try to decide what I'm going to say when I meet Mickey Mouse for the first time, so I'll see ya tomorrow, 'kay?"

"Goodnight, sweet angel..." I whispered.

"G'night, Perry."

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