following contains mild
descriptions of sexual acts between
young people. It is an original work of fiction, and has no basis in
Do not read
this story if:
- You're not 18 or over.
- It is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
- You don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or
retains Copyright ©
2005 to this story.
Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission
is a violation of that copyright.
Incredibly Romantic (and slightly
kinky) Adventures of Two Boys
Truths and Lies
40: Everything Forever
As we got
closer to home, I
noticed Mom spending more and more time
looking at herself in the small vanity mirror embedded in the visor. I
was surprised when she pulled, unannounced, into an uncrowded Carl's
Jr., a tacky fast food outpost on the quiet
of road between Escondido and Santa Corina, perched incongrously on a
dusty brown, chapparal-covered hill. It
was a little before noon; I wasn't even the least bit
it wasn't just because of the doughnuts.
wait here if you
like," she said, getting out of the car and
purse. "I'll just be a minute."
out to be closer to
ten, and I was just about to go in and
look for her, imagining that I would find her sitting at one of those
cheap plastic tables, ravenously pounding down a Double Western Bacon
Cheeseburger, when she did return, and it was clear what she had
doing. While I could still make out some puffiness around her reddened
had obviously gone to great lengths to hide it. Her make-up and
lipstick were fresh and her hair was neatly combed out, her long silky
brunette tresses draped fluidly over her back and shoulders. She tossed
baseball cap carelessly into the back seat.
couldn't go home looking
like that!" was all the explanation she
thing I noticed when
we pulled into the driveway was Uncle
Ron, near the top of a step ladder, stapling a string of lights along
the gutter. Josh was just below, holding the other end of the long
string. As we got out, Derrin came scurrying up from the open
garage, with a big box in
his hands labeled 'more
here!" he announced
loudly and unnecessarily. Now I knew why
my mom had
gone through such great pains to fix her face at the hamburger joint.
Apparently, she had secretly conspired with her brother and his family
to have them come early to decorate the house while we were away. I
degree of unease however, that Aunt Karen was nowhere to be seen.
Perry!" Uncle Ron called down cheerfully,
briefly in his task to give us a warm smile from beneath his bushy
mustache. I noticed that there were already several
strings of colorful lights fixed to the roof and around the front door.
waved to us, giving us a
big, confident smile. He was
looking, as always,
the part of
the handsome All American
his curly blond hair, broad shoulders, and slender waist, dressed in
blue and white
letter jacket, faded Levi's, and white sneakers. It was
funny that I thought my cousin was hot-looking, while also realizing
that I wasn't physically attracted to him except in the most passing
sort of way. On the other hand,
Reggie Colbert, despite being thin, gangly and, sad to say, having
something of an
annoying personality, still managed to make my dick twitch with
his wondrously wide cobalt blue eyes, upturned nose,
bright white teeth, golden brown tan, and big mop of blond highlighted
also a little
discomfiting to see Derrin for the first time
since our late November sleepover, looking so cute
in a yellow and blue rugby shirt and baggy jeans, his blond hair cut
short and spiked. Not only had he seen me up close and naked the night
after Thanksgiving, but I had even
let him jack me off. And while I didn't want to think about it
much, I had to admit that on some level, I had enjoyed it, which was
more than I could say about my recent experience
with Morgan. What I remembered the most about that afternoon at the
Kipner residence was
the pain and humiliation. I was ashamed to have Morgan see me naked,
disturbed that he enjoyed torturing and ravishing my body. And there
was that disturbing image of Jesse,
had watched the whole thing with drool trickling out of
the side of his mouth.
boyish curiosity and imaginative
innocuous in comparison.
in the Waldman clan
seemed in good spirits, and I was
glad to see my mom with a genuine smile on her face, coming
up to Josh and giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
getting so big, Joshy
Waldman, I hardly recognize you anymore!"
drove part of the way
here!" Derrin announced. "It was the
scariest thing ever!"
mom went inside, I
spent the next half an hour helping the
guys finish the outside decorations. This included pumping up an eight
foot tall Santa that really wasn't the most tasteful decoration I'd
ever seen. But the jolly latex elf looked so gosh-darn cheerful, with a
big tooth-filled grin painted on
his flat balloon face, and his bulbous balloon arms outstretched in
that he was hard to
all the Christmas
cheer seemed to be taking some of
the sting out of this morning's little road trip. I had a lot to think
about before I saw my dad (My God, that would be tomorrow!), but I
wanted to enjoy my last day in Santa Corina as much as possible, so I
tried to push it to the back of my mind with all my other worries and
fears (no Jesse for two weeks, and what to do about Kyle and Miss Z.,
and Jessica, and Noah, and Morgan, and no Jesse for two whole weeks).
Finally, my mom called us in for a
light lunch of soup and
warned us not to overeat as we would be having a full holiday
feast--courtesy of Vons--around five thirty.
surprised but relieved to see my
Aunt Karen helping my mom out in
She had already come up and given me a warm hug before I could
recover from my happy surprise. But Derrin was already tugging
my arm. He dragged me, stumbling, to the livingroom, where I was amazed
to see a tall, bushy evergreen, covered with our own decorations,
lights twinkling away, with a glittering angel on top. I took a
deep breath, enjoying the fresh pine scent and the strangely
beautiful juxtaposition of garish, man-made baubles and one of
nature's most beautiful
creations. There were even colorfully wrapped presents under the tree,
grabbed a compact one and waved it in my face.
from me. I got it
with my allowance!" he stated proudly.
I had also gotten
him something on my trip to Fashion
Valley and I
pointed it out to him.
Thank you, Perry!" he
said, giving me an emotional hug.
don't even know what it
is yet!" I laughed.
doesn't matter. You're the
coolest cousin ever, so I just know
it's gonna be awesome!"
wishing for a moment
that everyone could be as easy to please
as my twelve year old cousin. Still, looking at the traditional
Christmas scene, my heart ached a little,
wishing that Jesse could be here to share in all the Yuletide spirit.
He was probably at home in his little apartment, cartoons blaring from
the small TV set, baby-sitting Miranda
while his mom worked her second job at the restaurant in Oceanside. I
hoped they were at
least able to afford a small tree and some basic decorations. If not, I
would talk to my mom about getting them some. Of course, we had already
picked out our gifts for the Taylors weeks ago, and I couldn't wait for
Jesse to open his. Thank God, I
would see him one more time before I left, just a little more than six
hours from now, at the Saturday evening
wolfing down our
sandwiches, Josh and Derrin followed me upstairs
while the adults continued to make the house even more festive
evergreen boughs and garlands. Last year, we hadn't even
bothered to do much decorating, seeing as how I was going to be away
Christmas, and holding our traditional family gathering at my
grandparent's house, so this was a welcome change. It almost felt like
in the house on Ridgegate, except that my dad wasn't here. Well, that
was his choice, wasn't it? Despite the story my mom had told me
this morning, the thought made me bristle and I
tried, only somewhat successfully, to shrug it off.
wanted to play
Kingcarver of course, but for some reason that
name now made me queasy, so I hesitated.
to fight off all
those horny 8th grade chicks?" Josh
asked with a smirk.
don't think anyone is
fighting over me," I answered
don't know, dude.
Chicks that age are just raging with
hormones, and a good looker like you who's not a massive
jerk, is a primo catch."
the one-" I began.
"You're a massive
Derrin pointed out in a harsh voice, turning
his attention away from the video game console. At first I thought he
was talking to me.
the...?" Josh asked with
clear annoyance, as if he'd forgotten
younger brother was even here.
dumped Hannah just cuz
she wouldn't give you head!"
glared angrily at Derrin,
and potions of his evenly tanned face
dramatic shade of red.
little shit!" he
muttered. "You don't know what you're talkin'
can all play!" I
interrupted quickly. "I've got an extra
can't play with dweeb
boy. Every time he loses, he whines like a
"You're just jealous cuz you can't even get
to level twelve!"
you're sickening," Josh
pointed out disdainfully.
mean and nobody likes
I got some real
buds," Josh noted, his voice becoming
pinched, "not like your creepy little friend."
not creepy!" Derrin
protested, dropping his controller and
getting to his feet.
like Hannibal Lechter
Jr.," Josh proclaimed distastefully.
can't even get a stupid
blowjob!" Derrin shouted. "How pathetic is
noting the open bedroom door. Surely our folks could hear at least some
of this cacophony from downstairs.
don't we-" I began.
wrestle?" Josh asked,
suddenly grabbing Derrin from behind and
wrapping his arm around his brother's neck in a brutal headlock.
Get off, you fuckin'
bully!" Derrin gasped, wriggling
furiously in his brother's grasp.
didn't let go, and I
could see him actually tightening his
around his younger, and much smaller, brother's neck. "This is for
the crack about my driving!" he grunted. Derrin
continued to struggle gallantly but futilely.
you're hurting him," I
he's a tough little
dweeb...right, dweeb?" he asked.
bully--a big, fat,
ugly, bully!" Derrin sputtered defiantly,
his throat obviously constricted by the pressure his brother was
for the crack about
Hannah," he said, twisting Derrin's body
around like a pretzel, "--you don't know shit about chicks,
what goes on in their fuckin' heads."
couldn't stand being with
such a massive jerk!" Derrin gasped.
back!" Josh demanded.
"Everything you said, you little fucker!"
Josh!" I shouted,
feeling a sudden panic. I moved in,
prepared to forcibly remove Josh's arm from around his brother's neck,
but the older boy suddenly withdrew.
stood there, Josh and
Derrin red-faced, all of us breathing
heavily. Without warning, Derrin spun around and forcefully
socked his brother
in the gut.
"Oof!" Josh gasped,
completely by surprise. He buckled and
his gut, his face turning even redder than it already was. The look of
shock and pain on his face was almost comical, and I had to stifle a
laugh even though there was really nothing funny about any of
Derrin screamed furiously, coming in for
was quicker this
time, and grabbed Derrin's skinny arms,
stopping him in his tracks.
love of...." It was
Uncle Ron, standing in the doorway and
slightly out of breath from bounding up the stairs.
dropped his brother's
arms and looked instantly guilty, but
Derrin's face was still contorted in anger.
Uncle Ron said in a stern voice. "You should
think it's my fault?" Josh complained in a
high pitched, whiny voice, suddenly sounding much younger than his
choking me!" Derrin
okay?" Uncle Ron
asked worriedly, coming into the room and
okay," he muttered,
backing off a few steps.
Perry," Uncle Ron
said, shaking his head. "I don't know
what's gotten into these two lately. Always at each other's
throats...literally." He snorted frustratedly.
couldn't help but wonder if
it had something to do with Aunt Karen's
recent indiscretion and
the new tension that had arisen in the Waldman clan, but I kept my
mouth shut and a look of general alarm on my face.
put his hands on his
waist and looked quizzically at
Josh. "If we have one more incident like this, I'm gonna have to
take away your license."
so unfair!" Josh
ignored his eldest
son's childish protests as it became clear
that they had had
this conversation before. "Why don't you come downstairs and help me
straighten the garage up?" he offered in a more even tone.
man...." Josh's shoulders
help too," I offered.
Perry. We hardly ever
get to hang out!" Derrin pleaded.
nodded. "Just enjoy
your day, Perry. Josh and I can take care
of it. Derrin's been looking forward to seeing you all week."
doesn't wanna hang out
with this little...snot," Josh protested
with a sneer.
sighed heavily and
gave me a quizzical look, indicating that
choice was mine to
stay," Derrin begged.
reluctantly. "But if you guys need help, just call
nodded and headed
back out into the hallway and I heard his
thumping heavily on the carpeted staircase. Josh lingered long enough
to give his brother a threatening glare. Obviously, he didn't intend
to let Derrin get away with...well, whatever it was he thought he was
getting away with. Then he looked over at me, his face relaxing
slightly, and I thought he was about to apologize. But then he
turned and left without another word. Derrin immediately went and sat
heavily on the edge of my bed, and pressed his hands to his face. It
was clear he was crying but trying desperately hard not to show it.
sat next to him and
wrapped an arm around his narrow
shoulders. He leaned
toward me, but kept his hands pressed to his face. I felt his slender
body shake with a few silent sobs and just waited for him to pull
sorry about that." I
finally offered, feeling that Derrin was
deserving of some sort of apology from someone.
wasn't your fault," he
sniffled. "Josh is the big fat jerk.
You're just lucky you don't have to live with him."
really that bad?"
"He's either, like, totally ignoring me, or
bossing me around."
always been like this?"
paused long enough
to give the question some serious thought.
He shrugged. "I dunno. Maybe not always. But for a while now."
maybe it has something
to do with the problems your parents were
having," I offered hesitantly.
me. "It still doesn't seem like
things are back to normal, ya know? They don't spend much time by
themselves talking and stuff the way they used to. But I don't hear
yelling or anything either, so I guess that's good."
is. I think they're
trying hard," I consoled him cluelessly.
rubbed his eyes one
more time and then dropped his hands
to his lap. "Tony's not a creep, ya know," he informed me solemnly.
think he was," I
caused a timid smile to
appear on his tear streaked face. "He's
really nice. Reminds me a little of you."
always asks what I
want to do first, and if I say 'I
dunno,' then he suggests stuff. And he likes to play games too, like,
know, like that thing we did...."
with the Martians?"
I asked uneasily.
nodded. "Not that exactly,
but stuff like that. He's pretty cool.
We're about the same size and stuff."
realized that he wasn't
talking about height. ''Oh."
how I did a good job
of jacking you off that time?"
the heat coming off my
cheeks as I once again recalled the night,
ago, when I had let my younger cousin masturbate me. What had I
been thinking? I also realized that I 'd been hoping that somehow,
miraculously, he'd just forget about the whole incident. Obviously,
that wasn't the case.
good, remember? You
really blasted a load! It was so
maybe we shouldn't be
talking about that," I cautioned him.
We're cousins. It's
not like we were really having sex
had to glance at the
closed door to assure myself that there
was no way our conversation could be overheard. Still, I spoke in a
hushed voice and hoped Derrin would follow suit. "It's just that
maybe what we did, what I did, was like...wrong, ya know?"
looked at me
quizzically. "I don't see what was wrong with it. I
really wanted to see what you looked like without clothes on, and I
wanted to experiment with your dick, and you were cool enough to let
me, so what's the big deal?"
the big deal? It
seemed that it really had all been a quirky
little game for Derrin. Maybe I was the one who was making too big an
issue out of it. Maybe it was best to just let it go.
I guess," then added,
"but just that one time, okay?"
say that," Derrin
pleaded, his small face full of concern.
"There's lots of other stuff we could do, and now I know how to give
do you hear what
you're saying?" I asked in shock. "Cousins
don't do things like that to each other!"
not? I mean, if they
like each other and stuff. You
don't have to do me. I can just do you. I'm good at it now."
even want to ask how
he had gotten good at it, so I
tried to change the subject. "What about that cool girlfriend of
yours? You know, the one that chews gum in class?"
I saw his
face harden. "Oh,
you mean Barbie Gallagher, that
totally cool, ya
know? And I tried to hook up
with her, to just like mess around, ya
know?" It was hard to keep from smiling; Derrin sounded so damn
kept making excuses,
like she had band practice or volleyball
or some shit like that," he explained bitterly. "And then one day
after school, I saw her out behind the bleachers making out with Sammy
Hong-he's an 8th grader like her. I couldn't believe it--I was so
calm down. It's okay. It
was good you found out before you got
a cliche, huh? I
shoulda known she'd be a slut, always
never occurred to me
before that one of the signs of adolescent
promiscuity was frequent gum chewing, but it apparently made the case
next day, when she
said 'hi,' I called her a slut right to her
I gasped. "You can't
talk like that. I mean, it's not
cool to talk about a girl like that--especially to her face."
sheepishly. "Actually, Sammy Hong is the one I'm
pissed at. He stole her away from me. I mean, he's an 8th
grader like you, maybe a little shorter. Not nearly as hot looking
though," he added thoughtfully.
maybe you're better off
finding someone in your own class," I
shrugged. "I don't
really care. I mean, what do I need a
girlfriend for? They're all sluts...even my mom!"
like I had just been
slapped. I was about to berate my
cousin for saying something so incredibly harsh, but I saw more tears
silently pouring out of his eyes. He looked up at me,
his lip trembling and I couldn't help but wrap my arms around him. I
felt a few of his tears soak through my shirt.
needs a girlfriend or a
stupid brother?" he sniffled, still
holding me tight. "I mean,
I have you and Tony, and that's enough, right?"
pulled us apart and
went to the bathroom to get him some
tissue. He was already dabbing his eyes with his palms when I returned,
but quietly took the tissues. He even blew his nose, making a
surprisingly resonant honking noise.
me, please?" he asked,
looking at me with reddened eyes.
and once again sat on
the edge of the bed. He turned and
suddenly pressed his lips against mine. I started to back away, but he
grabbed the back of my head and pushed his face into mine. He was
sucking with almost desperate passion and I had to pry him off. I
looked at him in stunned surprise, gasping for air. He just
looked at me, an almost defiant look on his face.
wide-eyed and speechless.
girls kissing like
that and no one thinks it's gross," he
pointed out defensively.
that for?" I asked
when I had recovered my voice.
you, Perry. In my
mind, you're my real brother. Josh is just
some ugly, evil step brother that I'm forced to live with every day,
but I know
brother is here in Santa Corina."
know what to say. I
didn't approve of the way Josh treated his
younger brother, but I also didn't think he could be that
horrible. Besides, whatever Derrin might wish, the facts were the
facts. At least he had an older brother --even if he didn't
particularly like him, and all I had was
Benjamin, up in Heaven.
kissed me on the
lips..." I whispered.
you ever heard of
kissing cousins?" Derrin asked with a
totally straight face.
think that's what
two cousins who love
each other. It doesn't matter if they're
boy and girl or boy and boy."
sorta does," I
care then. Maybe I'm
breaking some rules, but so what?
Big brothers aren't supposed to beat up their kid brothers--they're
supposed to look out for them, and moms
aren't supposed to fall in love with other dads and leave their real
families. So why can't I kiss
my cousin, who's like more than my best friend in the whole world?"
couldn't find a hole in his
argument, even though the truth was, we
didn't even get together enough to really know each other that
well. It seemed like a lot of this stuff was just in his own
head. "I can talk to Josh if
you want," I offered.
his head. "No,
that'll just make him meaner when we get home.
Mostly, if I just stay out of his way, things'll be okay."
he's just as upset
about the problems your parents are having
as you are."
it looked like he was
going to argue, and then he reluctantly
nodded his head. "It's not fair that he takes it out on me
"I 'm not
saying he's right.
I'm just saying why he might be acting
like that," I pointed out.
carelessly wiping his nose with the sleeve
of his rugby shirt. "Can I give you a bj now? I've been practicing with
Tony and he says I'm really good at it now."
sorry, Derrin. It's not
right. I'm a guy and you're a guy-"
Tony's a guy, but so
you know so what," I
told him pointedly.
a fag!" he declared
defiantly, as if daring me to argue with
know what was going
on with my emotionally charged cousin.
Obviously, he was confused about sex and upset about his parents and
the way he was being treated by Josh. That was a lot of stuff for a
twelve year old to deal with. I had a sudden urge to go
walking up to a gum chewing Barbie Gallagher and dramatically slap
face in front of all her friends. 'That's for Derrin, you two- timing
declare before spinning on my heels and striding away
indignantly. I looked at
my distraught cousin and felt my heart ache.
a fag," he repeated
as I enjoyed spending
time with my Uncle's family, all I could
think about was getting to church and seeing Jesse. I kept glancing at
my watch as discreetly as I could. First we had a
great prime rib roast dinner, and it was almost like in a TV show or
something because everyone was so polite about everything--almost too
asked if you could please pass this or please pass that; and everything
was served piping hot in fancy dishes, making it seem like a home
cooked meal, even though it obviously wasn't. My uncle asked
when my flight was leaving tomorrow, and they briefly discussed the
plans for my mom to come over on Christmas day. I noticed that no one
mentioned my Aunt Rosemary and whether or not she would be joining the
holiday family gathering. Still, the
food was pretty good, and the Chinese Chicken Salad my mom had
made from scratch helped make it seem more like a genuinely homecooked
Waldmans had brought
along a couple of pies from Marie Callendar, and I chose the pumpkin
over the apple because it was a good excuse to pile on lots of whipped
pitched in to make
quick work of the clean-up operation, and
then we all gathered around the Christmas tree. It was
with the house lights dimmed and strings of multi-colored bulbs
twinkling across all the branches, shimmering tinsel, and shiny blown
glass ornaments. Yuletide music played softly in the background. My
mom insisted we say some prayers before we opened gifts, so we all
bowed our heads as Uncle Ron led us in the usual litany of Rosary
standards along with a special request for Mary and Jesus and all the
saints to bless our family. Finally, we
exchanged our gifts and I was glad to
see Derrin's eyes light up when he opened mine. It was a boxed set of
Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars
series, starring the indefatigable and
resourceful hero, John Carter. I still couldn't
help glancing at my watch though, and once the thank you's were over
discarded giftwrap stuffed into a white plastic trash bag, it
still seemed to take forever for everyone to say goodbye and bon
voyage and get out
door. As Derrin headed toward the family SUV and waved, I couldn't help
but feel sorry for him. He deserved to have things go better for him. I
also realized that I really liked him, not just as a cousin, but as a
friend. While I hoped he would soon outgrow his sexual interest in me,
hoped that we would always have that bond of closeness. I decided right
then, that when he was a little older, there were things I definitely
wanted to share with him. I knew I could trust him, and I knew he would
SUV pulled out of the
driveway, I again glanced at my nearly new
chronometer. We still had fifteen minutes, and it took about ten to
so we should be okay if we hustled. I went to the kitchen and grabbed
my hoodie off the coat hook.
need to fix my face,"
my mom declared nonchalantly, starting up
feeling a wave of
nearly uncontrollable panic surge through my
body. "But we'll be
late!" I said, barely able to contain my mounting
maybe just a minute or
two," she noted carelessly as she reached
the top landing. "Wasn't it nice to see Ronnie and Karen back together
again? I'll just be a minute."
knew full well that
when my mom said 'just a minute,' it
had nothing to do
minutes on a clock, and we could be stuck here for a dangerously long
period of time. I could think of nothing better to do than pace back
and forth in
front of the stairs, feeling kind of warm in my Northwestern hoodie but
not daring to take it off and cost us another precious second.
my mom stood at the
top of the stairs, her face apparently
'fixed.' "You can start the car; I'll be right down."
the car keys from
the hook by the kitchen door and hit the
garage door opener with the flat of my palm. It seemed to take forever
for it to slide open enough for me to duck under. I
pressed the button on the remote to unlock the doors of the Lexus and
jabbed at the ignition three or four times before finally getting the
key to slide in. I started the engine and even ground the starter a
little, just to make sure the thing was really on. Mom was
still nowhere in sight so I turned on the radio and scanned all the
channels, finding nothing that piqued my interest. Finally, I stumbled
across an oldies station playing Honey Pie from the White Album, and I
flashed on Jesse, in his T-shirt and sweatpants, lying casually on my
futon, singing to himself in that beautiful, clean voice. "Honey
Pie, you are making me crazy...." How like an angel he had seemed to me
that night, and
how I loved snuggling with him, pressing against his hard body, his
clean, smooth skin against
hit the roof when my
mom tapped lightly on the window. Rather
than getting out of the car, I wiggled my butt over the gear shifter,
and put my safety belt on.
took you so long? We're
gonna be late!" I whined.
never seen you in such a
rush to get to church before," my mom commented, the
half-smile on her face suggesting that she wasn't taking my
panic too seriously.
Jesse asked me to be
will be there...when
we get there," my mom said calmly as she
backed the car out of the garage.
Mike was already
reciting the opening prayer when we arrived.
church was less than half full--not unusual for this more informal
service, and I was pleasantly surprised to see
sitting alone toward the back. I smiled and waved to them and
cheerfully waved back. Gary was slower to respond, seeming to look me
over carefully before he raised his arm slightly to give me a hesitant
wave. I was stunned to see that he had a bandage wrapped around his
right hand. I also realized, as my eyes got used to the dim light, that
there was a bruise under his right eye. I
stopped in complete shock and my mom, who had been trying to catch up
ever since I dashed across the parking lot, bumped right into me.
she gasped under her
I mouthed. I gave
Gary an inquisitive look, but he just
shrugged and shook his head dismissively-no
reason, I knew right
away that his injury had been
caused by someone from Goreski's crew, or maybe by the thick-necked
wrestler himself, and I felt a wave of guilt drain the blood from my
face. The smile quickly vanished from my face and I could no longer
look Theresa in the eye. It was clearly my fault that her boyfriend had
been injured in a fight, almost certainly against unfair odds. My mom
looked over to where I was staring, and seeing Gary and
Theresa, she waved politely but absently.
time for another hymn,
and the congregation rose to its feet. We
were about to slip into the nearest empty pew when I felt someone
tugging on my hoodie. It was Miranda, looking up at me with a
sense of urgency. She was wearing a pair of khaki overalls under an
open pink jacket, and her
shiny blond hair was mostly combed out straight for a change, and had a
couple of bright blue bows clipped on top.
late!" she scolded as
the band finished its intro and the
church filled with a joyously rhythmic, contemporary tune. She started
my hand and
pulled me through the empty pew to the other side of the sanctuary. My
mom was barely able to keep up. I was surprised to see Mrs. Taylor, who
usually worked at the restaurant on Saturday nights, dressed in
Sunday best, sitting in a side pew, only a few rows back from where the
band was set up in its alcove. Miranda didn't let go of my hand
until she was standing right next to her mom. Mrs. Taylor looked up
from the simple, printed song sheet she was holding and gave us a warm,
I was able to turn my
attention to altar, and to the alcove to
the right where Jason
Tarentino stood at the front mike in his purple worship team T-shirt,
strumming his guitar, backed by his girlfriend Keiko on the
keyboard, Tate on the drums, Harv on the bass and...Jesse! He was
off to one side, strumming away on the guitar I had seen at his
apartment the day I had brought his homework over.
Like the others, he was dressed in a purple T-shirt and black jeans. He
and the rest of the band also had mikes before them and his voice
blended seamlessly into the backup vocals. His long, golden blond hair
glinted in the beams cast down from a row of track lighting
overhead. I realized, with a bit of a start, that there was a huge grin
on my face, but
Jesse seemed to be concentrating on fingering his chords and keeping an
eye on the other band members and hadn't noticed, or chose not to
acknowledge my presence. Fortunately, everyone else's
attention was also on the band and I concentrated on keeping my
expression as unaffected as possible.
small and slight
compared to everyone but Keiko, but so
well. And why shouldn't he? Where else would
an angel look more at home than in a church sanctuary, surrounded by
stained glass windows, sacred objects gilded in gold, and rows
pious plaster saints staring solemnly down upon the faithful.
as I thrilled at
seeing Jesse playing with the church band,
his face tight with concentration and his crystal blue eyes sparkling
the bright beams of the track lighting, I shuddered as I imagined what
happened to Gary. I told myself that maybe I was jumping to
conclusions. If Gary had suffered
a run in with Goreski or his cronies, surely
would have let me know. He had my
and email address, and certainly knew where I lived. I was torn between
remaining in my seat,
nestled between Miranda and my mom, and going to the back and sitting
with Gary and Theresa. I desperately needed to know how he had gotten
led the congregation
in an upbeat version of 'Little Town Of
Bethlehem,' during the
offertory, and then the track lighting began to dim, until only the
front mike was bathed in full illumination. To my surprise, Jesse
stepped up, the polished shell of his acoustic guitar flashing as it
caught the bright stage lighting. He glanced around nervously at the
of maybe sixty or seventy people, and then locked his eyes for the
first time that evening on me. At first I was startled to be the
recipient of such a potent gaze. Those bright, sapphire eyes
seemed to have
a power all their own, and as always, there was what seemed to me a
glimmer of pain mixed
in with the sparkle of joy. I saw him take a deep breath and hold it
before he began to pluck out some simple
rolling arpeggios on his guitar, the band silent
and still in the dimmed light behind him. His eyes went to his
fingering as he shifted
to the next, and then he focused on the mike directly before him.
When I am down and, oh my
soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
recognized the lyrics to Josh Groban's
ballad, "You Raise Me Up." It was a beautifully appropriate choice for
this less formal Mass, and something that would be easily recognized
and appreciated by the
people that dominated the congregation.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.
It was a
delicate, almost subdued performance, yet filled
with barely suppressed emotion, a sense of gratitude and overwhelming
love. I knew that Jesse had strong religious feelings, and that we both
felt certain that God had brought us together, but....That's
it hit me
like a ton of bricks. I knew with unflinching certainty that he was
about me-to me, and not
Jesus or God or the
Holy Spirit. With that realization, tears immediately formed in my
eyes, and began tumbling
down my cheeks unabated. Bleary eyed, but unashamed, I managed to
glance over at Mrs.
my mom, and noticed their
eyes were shimmering as well. Clearly, I wasn't the only one
deeply affected by Jesse's heartfelt performance. Mrs. Taylor even
sniffled a couple
of times, though her face remained stoic. I felt my mom's hand squeeze
my shoulder. I'm sure they assumed Jesse
was singing a hymn to God Himself, and that was just fine with me. The
rest of the band joined in
repeated the chorus, supporting his pure, delicate voice with warm,
harmonies. The volume and intensity rose as they repeated the chorus
yet again, this time with Jesse's voice becoming part of the whole,
supported now by the keyboard and other guitars. But abruptly, they all
dropped out, leaving only Jesse and his dad's acoustic guitar to
You raise me up: To more
than I can be.
right at me again,
as if to make certain that I understood
meaning. I felt my whole body tremble, as if Jesse had somehow gotten
me, right in the middle of my chest. I longed to be with him at that
moment, to wrap my arms around him and hold him close. But that would
have to wait for another time, probably more than two weeks in the
future. I felt a moment of despair as I thought of the long period
ahead where I would be separated from Jesse by thousands of miles. But
I also took comfort in the fact that it would pass eventually, minute
by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and that finally, we would be
silence after the final
was almost as full of
meaning as his
performance. Of course, I was totally biased, but I found it to be one
of the most moving musical experiences of my entire life. I finally
wiped the burning tears from my cheeks with the sleeve of my hoodie and
surprised to see my mom dabbing her own eyes with a lacy
Father Mike rose to
continue the service, his normally pleasant
and youthful voice, reverently reciting sacred
words from ancient texts suddenly sounded harsh and abrasive compared
to the delicately sweet and uncorrupted voice we had just heard. Having
somewhat regained my composure, I tried to
make eye contact as the beautiful blond youth backed away from
the mike and returned to his place next to the much taller bass player,
Jason quickly moved in, patting my beautiful angel lightly on the back
for a job well done and blocking my view.
manage to catch Jesse's
eye as I walked past the band after
Communion, but instead of returning my warm smile, he looked somewhat
apprehensive. Well, I could understand that. This was his first
performance with the worship team and maybe even the first time he had
played with a band. As far as I could tell, he was doing a great job,
and from now on, Josh Groban's heartfelt performance of his own song
serve as a dim reminder of Jesse's restrained, but emotionally potent
jubilant strains of
"Joy To The World" wound down to the last
verse, I felt myself torn
between racing back to confront Gary about his injuries, and going up
front to congratulate the band and especially my precious angel. I
glanced back and panicked as I saw Gary and Theresa attempting to make
a hasty exit. I clumsily excused myself and slipped past Miranda
and Mrs. Taylor so that I could move down the side of the sanctuary
without disturbing those still singing.
looked ill-at-ease when I
caught up to him, slightly out of
breath, but Theresa shot him a warning glance. "Hey, Per, glad
you could make it. Jesse sure can sing, huh?" he offered, a quiver in
his resonant and usually smooth voice.
happened?" I demanded.
"What did those guys do to you?"
dude, no need to
jump to conclusions, 'kay?" Gary cautioned
we moved to the side of the lobby, very near the same place Katy and
Jessica had trapped me a few weeks ago.
Goreski, right?" I
asked in a voice loud enough to turn the
heads of those parishioners filing past us and out the large front
cringed a little. "Calm
down?! How can I be
calm?" I asked
desperately. "I mean, look at you!"
that bad," Gary
assured me. "Just bruised my knuckles against
a couple of really thick skulls," he explained, rubbing his bandaged
this?" I asked, touching
my own face in the same place where
Gary's had a bluish bruise.
they got in a lucky
shot--no big deal," he assured me again.
this to you?" I
demanded again while Theresa looked on
but ya gotta promise me
you won't get upset," he cautioned.
upset," I told him
impatiently. "Please, just tell me what
pretty sure it was
a couple of Goreski's goons--but
bastard," Theresa hissed
under her breath. The simple curse word
sounded even harsher whispered in this holy place. "He deliberately
stayed away and then pretended like he didn't know nada about it!"
spat with open disdain, obviously referring to her younger brother.
there were three of
'em, and they caught me after basketball
practice. Gets dark so early these days, and they just hid in the
shadows and followed me to my car in the back of the parking lot. I
didn't get a good look at 'em."
beat them up?" I
glanced at Theresa and
then uneasily back at me. "Not quite, Per.
I ain't sayin' I didn't hold my own, but there were three of 'em, and
they did catch me by surprise."
assistant coach, just happened to come out of
the locker room on the way to the rectory, and when he saw what was
goin' on, he shouted and blew
his whistle. Those bastards-" Gary suddenly cringed again, realizing
he'd said that word much too loud for the sanctified atmosphere of a
church. He stiffened and watched uneasily as several families caught up
in their own conversations went
by before he
picked up his explanation. "Those bastards," he whispered, "they
took off for the back fence and were long gone by the time Brother
Julian got to me. 'Course, he asked what was goin' on, but I just
told him three dudes'd caught me by surprise. I said I didn't
recognize them and that they were probably from Kennedy. Maybe they
tryin' ta mug
me or somethin'."
shrugged. "I doubt it,
but the a.c., he's nobody's nursemaid. He
figured if I wanted to say something, I would. But he did take me back
in and patch me up before he let me go."
didn't you call me or
you? What the fu-" He
again cut himself off and lowered his
voice. "What for? There wasn't anything you coulda done about it. I'm
just glad it was me they hassled and not you or Jesse."
what they said,"
Theresa urged him quietly but adamantly.
scowled at her, but she
just glared right back. I saw Gary's
shoulders slump in his well-worn denim jacket.
nothin'," he protested
in something close to a whiny voice.
please," I begged.
sighed. "Aw, just some
about no one messing with the Ballcrusher,and sh-stuff like that."
"Tell him," Theresa
her a pained look
and then glanced sheepishly down at me.
"They said somethin' 'bout...."
gettin' my little
friends too, or somethin' like that," he
mumbled, his gaze dropping to the floor.
I felt a
shiver go down my
spine. Even though I knew, in the back of my
mind, that the whole business with Goreski and his crew was still an
open matter, realizing that they had actually beat up Gary and
threatened Jesse and me over a month after the incident at the rummage
sale, was truly
frightening. How and when would it all end?
Jesse know?" I asked.
Jesse know what?" It was
my mom, with the Taylors coming up
behind her. Miranda was holding her mom's hand and Jesse was holding
guitar in a black case.
Theresa, and I stood
there looking guilty. Theresa was the only
offer a greeting.
heavens, Mr. Van
Driesen, what happened to you?" Mrs. Taylor.
Jesse protested from
nothing ma'am," he
offered sheepishly. "Just a basketball got
in my face."
that?" my mom asked
shrugged. "Scrapped my
knuckles when I fell."
nervously at both
our parents, and neither one of them looked
convinced. Still, my mom put on a fake smile. "Well, if
basketball is that rough at Holy Trinity, maybe I won't allow Perry to
about to protest, when
Gary jumped in.
ma'am, it ain't like that.
I mean, just sometimes, things do get a
little woolly, and
if you're distracted or somethin'...."
by what?" Mrs.
Taylor asked pointedly.
you interrogating him
like that?" Jesse asked. "He didn't do
a moment of silence
while we all seemed to collect our
thoughts. Apparently Jesse's point was well taken, and everyone relaxed
a little, complimenting Jesse on his amazing performance as he looked
down at the maroon carpeting and shrugged uncomfortably.
parents again turned
to Gary, but they seemed to
realize that they weren't going to squeeze any more information out of
us today, and simply exchanged meaningless pleasantries about the
about this already?"
I whispered to Jesse.
talked a bit before Mass,"
he explained enigmatically.
wish you'd said
something...." I muttered petulantly.
forcing a smile on his usually grim and
brooding countenance, "you got a big trip tomorrow, huh?"
we really should get
going," my mom replied. "We still have
some last minute details to take care of and we need to leave for the
airport by eight."
have a really great
trip," Gary said, extending his uninjured
left hand for me to shake.
it with what I hoped
was more than just a casual grip. He
clamped his bandaged hand over both of our clasped hands.
great trip, Perry.
Bring us back some snow!" Theresa joked.
okay. I'll stuff some
in my pocket before I leave," I managed to
quip, even though I didn't feel at all lighthearted at the moment.
watched Gary and Theresa
go, Theresa's arm moving
affectionately to the small of Gary's back. Now we stood for a
silent moments with the Taylors.
says New York is almost
as cold as Chicago," Miranda noted with
less energy than she usually exuded.
it'll get pretty cold,"
I told her.
better dress really warm
so you don't catch your death," she
reason, the word
'death' hit me harder than it should have, though I
was well aware of the phrase, and knew it was just a way of
warning someone about not catching a cold.
promise I will," I assured
came up and wrapped
her skinny arms around my torso and
pressed her head to my chest. "I'll miss you," her muffled voice
I put my hands on
her narrow shoulders. "I'll miss you, too.
Do you want me to bring you something back?"
boyfriend," she replied without hesitation.
exclaimed with embarrassment.
okay," I assured
her. "There's a really cool toy store there
FAO Schwartz-it's huge! I'll get you something nice from there."
pretty dolly wearing
a fancy Christmas dress!" Miranda
suggested without hesitation.
Mrs. Taylor scolded
again. "That's really not necessary,"
she assured me apologetically. Her tone was
polite but there was always that edge to her tone that reminded people
that she wouldn't take anything from anyone that smelled of charity.
Well, Christmas gifts were hardly charity, and I decided I'd make it a
priority to get Miranda the best doll I could find and have it shipped
out so she'd have it under the tree on Christmas Day.
promises--just if I see
something really cool," I assured the both
protest, but she just stepped back and clung to
her mom, looking up at me with those big blue peepers.
have a good and safe
trip," Mrs. Taylor said, coming up to
me. She hesitated for a moment and then embraced me. "God bless you,
Perry Thompson," she said with heartfelt sincerity.
Mrs. Taylor," I said,
finally pulling away.
and I stood there
looking at each other awkwardly. My head
began to spin as I thought of everything that had happened in the past
three months since Jesse had first walked into our classroom and into
life, his head bowed and his long golden bangs hiding his face. Now the
moment of separation was really at hand, and by tomorrow afternoon,
we'd be on opposite coasts. Even though
there was no question it was going to happen--and soon-- I still
wrap my mind around the concept.
a really cool song,"
like it?" he asked
I did," I whispered.
I saw his
eyes instantly fill with love and I felt myself get weak. Just
for you, he mouthed.
and nodded, my eyes
starting to fill with tears again. I had
to look away.
should be getting along,"
my mom said abruptly, lightly touching my
wanna get this in the
car," Jesse said, lifting up the black
guess I'll see ya when
I get back," I offered dumbly, feeling
like the words were coming out of somebody else's mouth.
nodded. "Yeah, we can
email and stuff if you want."
course!" I answered far
too enthusiastically. "I mean, yeah, that'd
be cool...if you want."
offered me a shaky smile
and I knew he was hurting just as much
as I was.
His crystal blue eyes, also shiny with moisture, locked momentarily
my own, and I again had that momentary feeling like he was inside me. God
told me to
stay with you, it
seemed to be reminding me. I just
nodded as if he had actually spoken the words out loud. He was the
break our visual lock.
bye, Perry," he said,
even as he headed quickly out the door.
Taylor gave my mom a
wholehearted hug and gave me a smiling nod as
she followed her son out. Miranda was holding her mom's arm but turned
to look at me before she went out into the night, a somber look on her
small round face, and her eyes moist and sad.
that had poured out
so freely during Jesse's song threatened
to make a return appearance, and I took several deep breaths, willing
them back. I had heard there were rare cases of people who had been
born without tear
ducts, and at the moment, I actually envied them.
okay, dear?" my mom
asked with concern.
sure. Why wouldn't
I be?" I asked in an unjustifiably
think my mom had some
sense of what I was feeling, and instead of
reprimanding me, she gave me a sympathetic look.
see," she assured me, while perhaps also
out into the brisk
night toward the parking lot. Most of the
cars had already left. I saw the Taylors walking toward their station
wagon way at the back of the lot. Strangely, we had parked much closer
to the church building even though we had arrived late. I had been in
such a panic at the time, I hadn't even noticed.
We got in
the car without
another word and I didn't dare do anything
but stare straight head. I wasn't really focused on anything in front
of us, just on the black hole that was developing in my heart, a
growing emptiness where I knew Jesse belonged.
song was so
beautiful," my mom said, as she started the engine
and started rolling the Lexus out toward the street. "He has a
lovely voice--remarkable tone and control for such a young boy," she
said with the perspective of a veteran chorister. "I wonder
if he had some vocal training back in Illinois?"
half heard her question
and had no intention of answering
anyway. I was just sitting there wondering how big this hole in my
heart was going to get, and at what point I wouldn't be able to live
any longer. Would I leap up from my seat 30, 000 feet in the air,
over Nebraska and demand that the plane be turned around immediately or
heart would burst? Yeah, that seemed like a totally viable scenario to
me right now.
said something else but
the words were totally lost on me. I was marveling that someone that I
didn't even know three months
could have such a powerful effect on me. I mean, who was this kid
anyway? Just a boy, a thirteen year old boy from another part of the
country, with a long suffering mom, slightly frayed around the edges,
a sweet, precocious little
sister. Sure he had book and street smarts; sure he could fight like
a finely honed weapon with the speed of a striking cobra; sure he could
write like a college student, and
sing like an angel. But he was far from perfect; wracked with guilt,
haunted by inner demons, and full of insecurities. There was no
question that he was
physically attractive, the most beautiful boy I had ever seen, but
what were looks? They were just a physical covering, just flesh and
bones, comprised of the same stuff as me and every other human being on
the planet. And
just like me, Jesse had no control over how he looked, no control over
the power of those piercing crystal blue eyes, those smooth, high
cheekbones, those full red lips, or those long locks of luscious golden
blond hair that tumbled down the sides of his flawlessly angelic
truly bonded me to
him was something that went much deeper
than skin and hair and bone structure. It was a bond that existed on a
plane that science couldn't yet explain, a dimension where emotion took
tangible form, where thoughts were solid objects, and the
soul--especially Jesse's soul--glowed with the blinding fire of a
million suns. That was where we truly connected. And how could I leave
that? Jesse and I were intertwined, not by anything sexual we had done,
but by the way our inner beings had touched in a way I had never
thought possible. Everything, forever. Now it was like I was leaving
part of myself behind,
like I was being forced to cut off a hand or even a whole arm. Could I
really survive such drastic metaphysical surgery?
were rolling down my
cheeks again and it took me a few moments to
realize we had come to a stop, still in the parking lot of St.
Agnus. Suddenly, the back door opened and my heart leapt into my
throat. Were we being robbed? Was the car being hijacked? Was it that
same group of thugs that had attacked Gary, following up on their
right here and now? Would we be
killed or just thrown out on the pavement as the tires screeched on the
instinctively turned to my
mom first, getting ready to defend her if
I had to, by any means I could muster. It wasn't until I heard the back
slam shut again that I dared to turn around.
I shouted, filling
the small cabin with the sound of my voice.
he asked. "Did I sit
looked at my mom,
completely dumbfounded. Hadn't we just said
good-bye to the Taylors? Hadn't a giant black hole just coalesced in
middle of my heart? Hadn't my arm just been ripped off my body?
What was going on now? Why was Jesse sitting in the backseat of our
car? Why was the Taylor's station wagon pulling out of the parking lot
Taylor and I thought it
would be nice if you boys could spend at
least one night of your Christmas vacation together....We're not
monsters, you know." she added after a pause.
spending the night? At
our house? Before the trip? Huh? What?
are you okay?" my mom
asked. "We really thought you boys would
like to spend a little time together before your trip. But if
I was out of the car before she was able to finish her sentence. I
opened the back passengers door and slid in. Jesse wiggled over a bit
for me, but just a bit. All I could do was stare at
him, my beautiful, sweet, sexy angel. He smiled shyly, not sure how to
boys," my mom
reminded us as she began to slowly pull out
of the parking lot.
of moving over to the
driver's side, Jesse buckled on the
middle seat belt, so that we were sitting right next to each other. It
bold move, one that could easily be viewed suspiciously by those that
thought in such terms. But my mom
either didn't notice or didn't care, and concentrated on working her
way down the quiet neighborhood streets of Santa Corina, almost every
house and apartment building on either side of us
colorful Christmas lights and decorations. I wondered for a
moment if I was in Heaven. Surely it would look like this: small, clean
homes aglow with beautiful, twinkling lights, each house containing a
happy family of some sort, maybe one with a mom and dad and kids, or
maybe one with two moms or two dads, or filled with many generations
from very young to very old,
or even just a happy couple like the Chandigars. Maybe there was even
an empty house
there, just waiting for two boys who loved each other as much on Earth
as the angels
loved God in Heaven.
I felt a
momentary wave of
panic as I looked out the window at the
multitudinous Yuletide displays. What if I had just been imagining
things? What if I had only wished so badly that Jesse would come home
with me that I envisioned it vividly with nothing more than my mind's
eye? What if the seat next
to me was actually empty? What if Jesse was on his way home in the
wagon that I had seen pull out in front of us?
okay?" a raspy voice
asked with gentle concern.
that voice. That was
the voice of the boy I loved, that
somehow, for some inexplicable reason, loved me. That was the voice of
the thirteen year old human
being who had walked into my life three months ago and changed
everything forever. I turned and offered him a tremulous smile,
dabbing tears from my eyes with the sleeve of my hoodie.
subtly, his arm
reached across the short distance separating
us. In the backseat of my mom's car,
in the now-welcome shadows, we held hands.
Thanks to my
The author wishes to acknowlege B.
Graham and R. Lovland for the words and music of "You Lift Me Up," and
J. Groban for his beautiful performance of it.
This is the end of Part
V of the Adventures Of Perry and Jesse.
I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing
it. It has changed my life in ways I never would have imagined some
three years ago when I first started working on what would become Part
Part VI is roiling
around in my head just bursting to get out, it
has a long way to go before it is ready to be posted. I hope you will
be patient with me as I do my best to continue the story, working in my
own way and at my own pace. Please check in occasionally at the
livejournal forum for news and updates. There should be some exciting
announcements coming up soon.
always, I encourage you to
your opinions on the story, ask questions, browse through some of the
other topics and articles, or just introduce yourself to the rest of
the gang of hopeless romantics. Join us at: http://www.livejournal.com/~underthehood/
You are also
welcome to email me at: email@example.com I love to hear from anyone who is
enjoying the story, especially
those I haven't heard from in a long time (you know who you are).