I wish to retain all rights to this story. However, I am delighted to grant permission to any person to publish this story as long as there is no charge to the reader and as long as no changes are made to the story.

Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Sealing our Fate


I’ve never thought of my life as being very dramatic, though there were some hellacious bumps in the road – those bumps will be for another story or two. However, things did get a little dramatic at my house that morning.

When I woke on the couch the next morning, the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was my mom walking away from me… and headed directly for my sister’s room. I thought about retreating to my room, but I figured that Heather was probably still there. So I rolled over, facing into the back of the couch and tried to return to sleep.

Then I heard raised voices; my mom’s and my sister’s. I heard my mom say, “How could you?” but I couldn’t hear what my sister answered. Then Mom said, “How could you let her?” and again, I couldn’t hear Pattie’s response. They went on some more. I heard Mom sternly say, “I won’t have it!” and I remembered thinking it was a little late for that.

I heard Dad come into the room and looked up as he leaned over me from the back of the couch. His brow furrowed as his large hand closed over my shoulder. “Are you OK, son?”

I nodded.

He looked like he might say something, but then gave me a kindly smile and a shoulder squeeze, before continuing on into the kitchen.

Mom came out, and I couldn’t look her in the eye. I’m not sure she was looking my way either.

I sat up on the couch, wishing I’d brought a shirt with me. The door to Pattie’s room opened and when she saw me, she walked right up to me, glaring. “Sticky! What were you thinking?”

My mouth dropped.

“Why didn’t you stay in your room?” she demanded. “What’s wrong with you? Any other guy your age would have given anything to spend a night with Heather. But not you! You’ve gotta make a racket and then sleep out here so Mom and Dad get all upset.” She bopped me with the heel of her hand.

My stomach twisted into a tight knot and my face grew hot. Turning my back on her, I stormed to my room.

Heather woke when I entered and watched as I went to my dresser and took out a clean set of clothes. I wanted to bathe. I wanted to be clean. I felt dirty and shamed in front of my parents, especially after what Pattie had said.

“Hey tiger,” Heather murmured.

I glanced at her, and strangely, didn’t feel angry with her. But then, I didn’t exactly feel all warm inside toward her either.

“My parents know about last night,” I said.

“Did you tell them?” Heather asked in alarm, sitting up in bed and clutching the covers over her breasts.

“I didn’t have to,” I said. “Their room is next door and we were noisy.”

“Oh,” Heather said, considering. “What’d they say? Are they cool with it?”

I shook my head, rolling my clothes up to carry across the hall to the bathroom. “I think Mom was pissed. She and Pattie argued about it.”

Heather nodded. “You’re her baby,” she said, thoughtfully. Then she smiled. “Your dad’s probably proud.”

I wondered what kind of home Heather came from. I shrugged and headed for the door.

“Pattie’s not mad, is she?” Heather asked.

I stopped, my hand on the doorknob. “She’s pissed at me. For sleeping on the couch. You can tell her that I said I was sorry.”

“Come here, stud,” Heather said, patting the bed beside her.

Reluctantly, I went over and sat down on the edge of the bed, my back to her.

Heather gave my back a friendly rub. “Are you OK, stud?” Heather asked quietly. “I wasn’t too rough was I?”

I didn’t look at her. I looked down at the floor. “My first time,” I said softly, “was going to be with Jennifer, a girl I know. It was going to be sorta special.”

“Oh,” she said softly. “I’m sorry.”

I shrugged.

“But was it OK for you?” she asked leaning closer to give my shoulder a soft kiss. This close, I could smell her morning breath.

What was I going to say? That I rather she’d been Ben? “Sure,” I said. “It was good.”

She chuckled softly and kissed my shoulder again. “Oh, baby, it was more than good. In fact,” she chewed on my shoulder. “I could get in the mood again.”

I stood up and moved quickly away. “My parents are up,” I said. “They’ll hear and they know I’m in here and all.”

Heather laughed and blew me a kiss. “Maybe later, stud.”

* * *

Pattie and her friends left the house early; to get away. They went over to Tricia’s, Pattie’s best friend from high school. Pattie complained to her about what happened. That’s all it took. In a small town, it only takes one person telling another.

I went out that day too. I went over to Ben’s and listened to him brag about how he felt up Linda, his date the night before. Kipper was there and kept rolling his eyes. That made me feel better.

I returned home for an unusually quiet supper even for us; just Mom, Dad, and me. Pattie and her friends stayed out.

The next morning, I had finished breakfast and was back in my room when Ben, Tom, and three other friends of mine showed up in Ben’s car. Dad had already left for the office. Pattie and her friends were still sleeping. And Mom had gone for groceries. So I answered the door and led the guys back to the den.

“Is it true?” Tom wanted to know. “Did you do one of Pattie’s friends?”

I shrugged. I wanted to say that no, she did me.

“Why didn’t you tell me yesterday?” Ben demanded.

I shrugged again.

Well?” Tom demanded. “What was it like?”

“OK,” I said.

“OK?” Tom asked, incredulous. “You didn’t do something stupid did you? Like put it in the wrong hole?”

I looked up to see Heather, in a sleeping T-shirt, standing in the doorway to the kitchen, and I felt the blood drain from my face. How long had she been there?

Heather looked us all over, and then walked directly across the room to me and sat down in my lap. “Hey, stud,” she said, nuzzling into the side of my neck. “Let me know when you get in the mood again.” Then she kissed me, mouth open.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw eyes go wide and jaws drop around the room.

Then Heather got up from my lap and returned to the kitchen, blowing back a final kiss at the door.

“Oh, shit!” Tom said quietly.

* * *

That afternoon, while I was reading with the TV on, Heather came into the den and sat down on the couch beside me. She laid her hand on my thigh, and I looked up from my book.

“I’ve been thinking about it, Stick… um, Aaron; about what you said. And I just wanted to say that I’m sorry,” she said, “for spoiling your first time.”

I shrugged. “It probably wouldn’t have gone like I imagined anyway. Things never seem to.”

She smiled and gave my thigh a brisk rub. “Well it sure went well for me. You’re a really cute guy. And you have a nice body… everywhere. I bet you and Jennifer will do just great.”

She started to get up from the couch.

“Heather,” I said. “Thanks for this morning; for what you said in front of my friends.”

She smiled.

* * *

There were additional repercussions after my night with Heather.

Jennifer was cool to me on the phone when I called.

“Didn’t you have a good time at Veronica’s party?” I asked.

“Aaron,” Jennifer said with a coolness in her voice, “it’s all over town; what you did.”

“Oh,” was all I could manage.

“Even my parents heard about it. My dad said that I can’t see you anymore.”

“Oh,” I managed in another burst of eloquence, and then I rallied. “Can we still like… meet places, like at the theater for a movie, or at someone else’s house?”

“I don’t think so, Stick,” she said.

“You don’t want to?” I asked.

“Not for a while, OK?”

I figured that if Jennifer’s parents knew, everyone else’s did. It made it hard to want to go to anyone’s house.

Funny, but when school started up again after the holidays, I found that, unlike Jennifer, some girls were friendlier. Unfortunately, it was mainly girls I wasn’t that interested in.

And guys were funny too. Some treated me like a conquering hero. Some didn’t have much to say to me. Even Kipper was different.

I didn’t notice until I built up the courage to go over to their house on the first Saturday morning after school started. I was relieved when their mom treated me like normal. And of course, Ben and I were cool. Kipper was watching TV from a couch and only gave me a half-hearted wave when I came in. He didn’t act happy to see me at all; and he usually did.

Since everyone else’s behavior toward me lately had related to their take on me doing Heather (OK, Heather doing me), I figured Kipper’s did too. It crossed my mind that he might be bummed thinking that it would be a while before he had a chance to do a girl.

But what seemed more likely to me as I thought about it, was that Kipper could be thinking that I was going to be different now; maybe all girl crazy and not interested in my old friends. Maybe he was afraid I wouldn’t be interested in us being such good friends any more.

Tom was there, and when he and Ben stepped outside to shoot baskets, I stayed inside with Kipper. Taking a seat on the floor with my back to the couch like I was watching TV too, I leaned back about level with his waist. “Hey, Kips,” I said, glancing back at him.

“Hey, Sticks,” he said, quietly.

“We cool?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said, not sounding like it.

I wasn’t sure how to say it. “Look… Kipper… I just wanted to say… um,” I twisted to face him better. “I’m still the same, OK?”

He stared at me.

“I’m not like, going to go girl crazy now, you know?”

He kept staring.

“Look,” I said, “you know how we’ve been getting to be better friends you and me… well at least before the school year started.”

He nodded slowly.

“I wanna keep working on that, Kips, you know? You and me being friends.”

Kipper finally smiled and rolled toward me onto his side. He scooted down on the couch so that his face was closer to mine; his long brown hair hanging down to the side. “Yeah,” he said. “Us in different grades… it sucks.”

I nodded. “Maybe we can do some stuff on weekends.”

His smile faded. “What about Jennifer?”

“Jennifer won’t have anything to do with me after that thing with my sister’s friend.”

I hadn’t talked to anybody about the things that had happened to me. And I hadn’t talked to anyone about how I was feeling. But now I wanted to. I wanted to tell Kipper.

“Look, Kip,” I said, scooting closer, so that we were face to face. “You know how everyone thinks I’m such a stud for doing my sister’s friend? Well it didn’t really happen like that…”

Kipper listened to the whole thing, his face growing flushed. He adjusted himself in his pants, and I was both excited and disappointed; excited that he was excited… and disappointed that he seemed so interested in hearing about doing it with a girl… not that I thought Kip and I would ever get it on.

I finished by telling him what Heather did and said afterward. I wasn’t sure what reaction I expected from Kip. I was just glad to be able to talk about it.

Kip looked at me a moment, and then smiled and mussed my hair. “Wanna soda?”

It was perfect. “Yeah,” I said with a smile. “I would.”

After that, Kip and I hung out together more at school and afterward. He was the only one I could completely relax around.

I was most uncomfortable around girls. I never knew quite what to say to the quiet ones like Jennifer, and I always wondered if the more forward ones were teasing me. Like when Peggy Ryan kept calling me “Stud” in front of everybody. Peggy was curvy the way straight guys liked girls, and she did absolutely nothing for me. She was smart as hell, and maybe realized that I didn’t find her attractive. And because she was smart as hell, she intimidated me more than most girls in my class… especially the way she called me “Stud.”

Even in private, like when Becca leaned close in biology class and said, “I bet you know lots of biology.” Looking back on it, I know she was probably hinting at wanting to get together, but I was still sorting things out. The whole thing with Heather and everybody’s reaction really rocked my boat.

And what happened to Tom Bensten did too. He got fired over what he did.

Tom had started working at a local hamburger stand and got the hots for the young twenty-two-year-old gal who ran the night shift.

“She was hot for me,” he told Ben and me the day after it happened. “I know she was. She was always coming on to me, smiling at me every time I looked her way, and always being super friendly. And she was always moving her butt for me when she was working the counter and knew I was watching.” Tom illustrated a motion with a little sway of his own butt that looked to me an awful lot like someone just shifted their weight.

“Then last night, when she had me stay late to help her clean a fryer... well hell, I knew what she wanted clean. She said that she wanted me to stay because I was such a good worker… yeah, right. All I knew was that I was finally gonna get laid.”

“After we were alone,” Tom told us, “and she was bent over the fryer, doing her butt thing, I was gonna lean over her from behind, sorta like I was watching what she was doing, but man, I was just so damned hot, I just… well…”

He turned Ben around, back to himself, and then wrapped his arms around Ben’s waist and pulled Ben’s body back to his. “I did this with her,” Tom said. Then he let Ben go, stepping away from him. “I did that,” he said. “Only I was hard and she felt it.”

“I don’t know what she expected,” Tom said angrily. “But I guess I wasn’t subtle enough; you know girls. Anyway, she kicked me out and told me I was fired… the bitch!

It struck me that she probably didn’t have the hots for Tom at all; at least not like he thought. But Tom wasn’t dumb, and he wasn’t weird. I wondered how he could be so wrong. “Are you sure she wasn’t just being friendly because you worked for her?” I asked.

“She’s a dick-tease you asshole,” Tom snapped, and I let it go. The guy was obviously bummed and I know how I felt when shit happened… I had enough recent experiences of my own. “Damn, Tom,” I told him. “That really sucks, man. She shoulda never done that to you.”

But that incident really stuck in my head. After all, Tom wasn’t really different from the rest of us. And if he could be so wrong about how a girl felt about him, I sure didn’t feel safe trying to read girls like Becca or Peggy. Or guys like Ben for that matter.

I’d been trying to convince myself for two years that he might be interested in trying some things together, trying to read subtle encouragement into every single thing he said or action he took; any action that is, that I could possibly take that way. But it never went anywhere. I decided that Ben was probably never interested.

It was easier to not think about those things and just hang with Kipper. I loved hanging with him. And he loved hanging with me. We liked each other, and I realized that it would sure be easy to misread things because of that. So I purposed to never misread Kipper either.

Besides, after Heather, I didn’t think as much about guys or girls. I thought about homework and sports. And when I jerked off, I didn’t think about anybody. I just enjoyed the feelings.

However, after my second wet dream about Kipper – the dream where I got him to do the legs behind his head thing when he was naked, and I came in my sleep just as I was kneeling at his butt and getting ready – I realized then that when I was with him, I was constantly conscious of his beautiful eyes, his lithe body, his cool voice. I had begun to feel some sexual tension around him, and I didn’t want to do that. I tried not to want him like that. We were good friends and almost certainly, only good friends. I mean… if Tom Bentsen could misread the girl he worked with, I could misread Kipper and the affection he so obviously felt for me.

* * *

Things got back to normal between Mom and me pretty quickly. But Dad treated me differently that spring. All my life, he’d always been a really busy man. It wasn’t just that he was one of only a few GPs in the area; and small town GPs also handled maternities and simple surgeries. Often, when he did have time off, he went on hunts with friends of his. Though I got my love of biology from Dad, I never got much into hunting. However, I did love fishing.

“We bought that boat last summer and we’ve barely used it since,” Dad said to me after supper one night as he and I washed dishes and Mom cleared the table. “We need to get in more fishing. How about this weekend?”

“Cool,” I said. “Can we take Ben and Kipper, too?”

Dad’s brow creased. “I thought maybe we could spend a little time together, you and me. We haven’t done much of that.”

I felt uncomfortable. It was a little late if Dad wanted to explain more about the birds and the bees.

“Look, son,” Dad said, “You’ve been growing up without me, and I’m sorry for that. Let’s spend some time together before you’re all grown and off to college.”

“That won’t be for a couple of years, Dad,” I pointed out.

“Come on, how about this weekend, just you and me?” Dad asked. “We can always go right back next weekend and take Ben and Kipper with us then.”

* * *

Though Dad was familiar with the Laguna Madre — the shallow bay between South Padre Island and the mainland — he hired a fishing guide to go with us the first morning, and the guide took us to several spots where we had success, but there was one spot that I liked in particular.

Most of the bay is extremely shallow; no more than eight to ten feet at the deepest point. However, the Intercostal Canal is a channel that runs up the bay, and it is deep enough for barge traffic. North of Bay View, the canal runs close alongside the mainland; only a couple of hundred yards from the inland shore. And there, on the bay side of the channel, several fishing shacks sat on stilts over the water.

They had been built over several years and some were in better shape than others. Some were as large as small houses. Some were clustered, some together, one or two were away from the others. Built over water that was eight feet deep and across the channel from the mainland, they had no electrical hookup. Most looked pretty rustic outside. And yet, they captured my imagination. It’d be so cool to have one of those.

Because we caught several reds (red fish) and trout around them, Dad and I returned there on our own that evening and the next morning. That morning, I had Dad position the boat so we could drift close to the shacks, and we got a closer look.

Some had docks rigged with floodlights. One had two floors. Some had sun decks and small boathouses. They were boarded up and locked up tightly, but Dad and I managed to peek into a couple of windows. Inside, they had wood floors or indoor/outdoor carpet, and they were set up as nicely as a hunting cabin.

“That’d be so incredible,” I told Dad as we drifted away from the last of the shacks. “If I had one of those, I’d stay down here all the time”

Dad laughed. “You don’t think you’d get bored?” he asked as he cast his line out ahead of the boat.

“Not hardly,” I told him. “I’d fish, read books, snorkel, go floundering and crabbing, go over to the Island sometimes to swim in the surf or get a good meal.”

“All by yourself?” Dad asked.

I shrugged. “No. I wouldn’t want to be by myself. It be more fun with buddies; somebody else interested in fishing and maybe a little marine biology.”

My eyes had been on the water, but when I glanced at Dad, I found him eyeing me with a faint smile and a thoughtful expression.

* * *

Dad was good as his word, and the next weekend we took Ben and Kip fishing with us. I had to share a bed with Dad, though I wouldn’t have tried pressing my cock to Ben’s butt with Dad in the room anyway. Dad was a notoriously light sleeper.

A couple of weeks later, we took Danny Caldwell with us and wound up doing more skiing than fishing. That night, since it was just Danny, I shared the bed with him, and I thought about pressing myself to him after he and Dad were asleep, even with Dad in the room. But I fell asleep first, while waiting to be absolutely sure that Dad was sleeping.

Three weeks later, we took Kipper; just Kipper, and Kipper and I shared a bed. I thought I’d have trouble sleeping with Kipper lying right next to me. I lay there on my side, facing Kipper’s back and his thick brown hair on the pillow; knowing he was in just his underwear like me; knowing how his long slender back looked under the covers… so close. I forced my mind to clear, and surprisingly, I went to sleep.

Dad kept the room cold, and in the night I woke up to find that Kip’s feet were nestled behind mine. We had both rolled over in the night and Kipper lay close enough behind me that I could feel his breath. His feet felt warm. I had the sudden urge to back myself up to him, but I didn’t want to wake him or have him roll away. I liked the companionship of his feet.

Two weeks later, Dad and I took Kip again. I lay down on my side, facing away from Kipper to avoid being tempted to press myself to him. Before I fell asleep, I felt the tops of his feet slide in under the soles of mine.

Things got busy then, and we didn’t get in any more fishing until late April, when Dad and I went alone. We went drift fishing past the fishing shacks, and we noticed that one, a little apart from the others, had a “for sale” sign up.

I made Dad pull up alongside and let me look it over. “Just so I can dream about it,” I told him. But the place was all boarded up, and we couldn’t really see anything. Nevertheless, the rest of that day I daydreamed about what it would be like to have a shack on the water, and how perfect it would be to stay in one with some other guy who liked fishing and the bay. Kipper would be good company, though I would love to have a guy who was also gay.

The next weekend, Dad couldn’t go, but for the first time let Ben drive us down, pulling the boat behind his dad’s truck. That night, I slept with Ben and for the first time in months, I laid myself over his body when his breathing grew regular in sleep, and I pressed myself to him until I came.

As we were getting ready for bed the next night, Ben eyed me suspiciously. “Stay on your side of the bed,” he said. “You lie all over me in your sleep.”

I felt my face go crimson.

“I’ll sleep with him,” Kipper immediately volunteered.

“Nope,” Ben ordered, pointing to the other bed. “You sleep over there like you did last night.”

That night, I hugged the far side of the bed from Ben. But as I lay there, I wondered about how quickly Kipper volunteered to sleep with me. He probably just wanted to put feet together again. The thought crossed my mind that he could have wanted me to sleep all over his body like Ben accused me of doing to him, but I didn’t want to pull a Tom Bentsen, reading in more than was there, not even into the feet snuggling thing.

That next Wednesday, Dad announced that we were the proud owners of a fishing shack on the bay.

* * *

“You aren’t really going to let him do it?” Mom asked.

“He’ll be fine, Emily,” Dad assured her. “Just for a week or two. Then he’ll be ready to be back in air-conditioning, with clean clothes and good food.”

Ha! I thought. It’d take more than a week or two to want to come back from being on my own in a fishing shack on the bay.

“He’s too young, Peter and you know it,” Mom said, pointing at me as if I were living proof of her claim. “He’s only fifteen.”

“That’s old enough, Emily. My friends and I went on hunting and fishing trips all the time at that age.”

“You grew up on a ranch, Peter. And you weren’t out in the middle of a bay. What if he gets hurt or sick?” she asked. And then Mom frowned. “He can’t go alone, Peter. You can’t let him go alone.”

Dad turned to me. “How about it, son. We let you go as long as you have a friend to go with you?”

“And a radio,” Mom said. “He has to have a radio… one of those marine radios. Just in case.”

“Who will you invite?” Dad asked, recognizing that Mom had just given in.

I thought about it. Kip was so damned obvious that I made a point of considering others. “Ben’s got a job,” I said. “He’s working at the market this summer. Most of my friends have jobs or they’ll be gone on vacation. Kip maybe could go with me for a few days, but he wanted to get a summer job too. Since he’s only fourteen, he figures he’d be mowing lawns or something. And I’d been planning to help him since no one will hire a fifteen year old either.”

“There you go, Emily,” Dad said. “Kip could go with him. They’re both good swimmers, they’re used to being outdoors, and they were in scouts together. Aaron knows first aid, and I bet Kipper knows some too.”

“He does,” I quickly confirmed. “And you can give us a crash course, Dad, before we go down there.”

Dad took on a thoughtful look. “The shack needs work,” he said. “How about if I hire you and Kipper to fix it up? You can stay down there a few days. You can paint, repair planking, put in some flooring.”

“And fish when we aren’t working,” I quickly said.

Dad smiled. “And fish when you aren’t working.”

“Or snorkel,” I said, “or gig for flounders or go to the island and body surf…”

Dad laughed. Mom frowned.

* * *

Dad took Mom, Kipper, and me down to the Laguna the last weekend in May. (Mom wanted to see the place for herself. And Kipper’s mom said that if my mom agreed to the whole thing, she’d agree as well.) Dad had already seen the place.

We met the seller at the shack; an older guy who looked awfully well off to have a “shack” of any kind. He had the place all open and all set up, and showed us around. The shack was one large room with a sink and makeshift kitchen at the southern end.

At the northern end of the room, which was the downwind end, were closets and a small cubicle for a toilet. The toilet was fitted with a holding tank, but could also be shunted into the bay. The middle of the room held a long table and chairs and two ancient easy chairs. Two double bunks with thin plastic pads for mattresses were against the East windows to catch the night breeze.

In the middle of the East wall, under a double window, was a double bed with a thick mattress. “My wife,” the seller said, pointing at the double bed. “She can’t abide a bunk bed.”

A wide dock ran around the outside of the shack on the East, South, and West sides of the shack. The Intercostal Canal ran along the West side of the shack and the dock had lighting along that side.

With all the boarding and locks removed, the shack had an easy, open feel to it. There were good windows all the way around – windows with screens. “You don’t get flies or mosquitoes out here very often,” he said. “Sometimes I take the screens off the windows to let the breeze through better.”

The roof of the shack was set up as a sun deck; complete with lounge chairs and an outdoor table and chairs. A boathouse at the North end of the shack had tanks for potable water and propane, along with a small generator and an array of storage batteries. It even had a lockable shed for our fishing gear.

At the end of the dock and on the side of the boathouse was a large, weathered table used for cleaning fish. At the South end of the dock were a small live-bait well and a large screen cage that could be tied to the dock to hold our catch.

“When you’re out here,” the seller told us, “you set the generator to run in the evening for the dock lights and night fishing, and to charge the batteries. The little fridge, the oven, and a couple of the lights work off propane as well as electricity, so even if you lose batteries, those will work. A local boat tender comes up the Intercostal every Tuesday morning. If you need propane or water, just run up the white flag with the big “P” and the tender will stop by and fill your tanks.”

He looked the shack over fondly as he handed Dad the keys. “I’ve loved this place. I hope you and your sons enjoy it too.”

I glanced at Kip. “Hey, bro,” I said, with a smile.

Mom stood out on the deck looking east toward Padre Island. “It’s not as bad as I thought,” she admitted. “I might even come with you sometime.”

I groaned, inwardly.

Dad laughed. “You might enjoy it in the afternoon,” he said. “But at night, you and Pattie would want a hotel room on the island.”

Mom smiled. “Maybe so.”

Feeling relieved, I turned to Kipper. “Well? What do you think? Would you be willing to take the job and work with me down here?”

Kipper laughed with that incredible, breaking-voice laugh of his, and with dancing brown eyes, he stiff-armed my shoulder. “Numbskull!” he said. “What do ya think?”

* * *

After school let out at the end of May, Kip and I spent the next week planning and gathering supplies. We made one trip down to the shack with Dad on a Tuesday morning to take gear and wait for the tender. He made arrangements with them to bill him for whatever we used. Then he took us over to one of the island boat marinas and opened a line of credit for us, and while there, he bought us a marine radio.

Then he took us over to Port Isabel and opened a line of credit at the small lumber yard there so we could get what supplies we needed, though other than painting and sanding things I couldn’t think of much to do unless we laid down indoor/outdoor carpet inside like Mom thought we should.

The rest of that week, we were back home. We prepared, and waited. I focused mainly on readying gear for the fishing and snorkeling I planned on, and not on any vague hopes that since Kipper and I would be all by ourselves, he might — even if he didn’t normally think that way – he might want to at least jack off together… maybe jack off each other. I tried not to think about those things.

We stocked up on plenty of fishing gear and loaded out all of Dad’s salt-water rods and reels. We had lanterns for night gigging, snorkel gear, tons of suntan oils and lotions (Mom’s insistence), old binoculars, my dissecting microscope, books to read, and a cassette/radio boom box. I packed sketchpads, charcoal, and a couple of drawing books, thinking that I might work on learning to sketch better. Kipper borrowed his dad’s old thirty-five mm Nikon, and bought lots of film, intending to work on photography; something he wanted to get better at.

Mom set us up with plenty of towels and bedding, including bedding for the double bed. “In case your dad or I come down,” she said. “That double bed was the only decent one in the shack. If you two boys can stand sharing a bed, you might sleep better on it than on those bunk beds; you saw how thin those mattresses were.”

I nodded, thinking of putting feet together with Kip. “We might do that,” I said.

“Just air out whatever you sleep on,” she said. “Things get mildewy down there.”

* * *

Saturday finally came. Dad and I went by to pick up Kipper and then returned home to finish packing up everything. Fully loaded, we drove to the island, unloaded the suburban, and made two trips across the bay hauling our gear. Then we made another run for groceries, and Dad bought a small grill for us to use.

With Dad’s help, we got the place set up, and he made sure we understood how the generator, batteries, and appliances all worked. We tested the marine radio and he showed us how to relay a phone call home to Mom. Then we returned once more to the island to eat at one of the restaurants. “Last good meal for a while,” Dad kidded.

While we fished that night, not catching much, Dad outlined things for us to work on. “But you don’t have to work all day, every day,” he said. “Part of what I’m paying you boys for is to be caretakers here so that we can keep our gear down here for a while this summer.”

I could read between the lines. Dad was giving us “paid vacation.”

We let him have the double bed that night while Kipper and I took the bunks under the windows. In the cool night breeze, I slept lightly; adjusting to the night sounds of the water and an occasional ship or buoy in the distance. Before midnight, a double barge came down through the channel, its searchlights scanning our shack with the others.

Sometime, in the middle of the night, I fell hard asleep and didn’t wake until I smelled the bacon and eggs that Dad was fixing for breakfast. Sunlight streamed through the windows, but the morning was still cool. I could get used to sleeping down here, I thought.

We cleaned up after breakfast and made the beds. Dad offered to strip the double, but I said that Kipper and I might want to sleep on it since it was a lot better than the bunks. Kipper glanced at me and nodded his agreement.

Kipper and I pulled our hair back into tails and wore only shorts. I thought he looked awfully good with his long torso and wavy brown hair.

Dad fished with us from the deck on the channel side of the shack, giving suggestions on techniques and lures.

We took him back to the island where he bought us hamburgers for lunch. After that, at the marina, we lined up all five gas tanks for the boat (two for onboard and three for boathouse spares – “Remember to rotate them,” Dad told us. And then, while we were filling them, I caught Dad eyeing me with a pleased smile.

“I’m spoiling you, son,” he said. “You know that, don’t you?”

“And I’m letting you,” I said with a grin.

“Just don’t act spoiled,” he said.

“Have I?”

Kip, standing beside me, stepped closer. “Now that you mention it…”

I elbowed his gut.

Dad laughed. “No, you don’t act spoiled.” He hugged me, and then pulled Kipper into the hug as well. “You boys be real careful, OK? And don’t hesitate to call about anything. If you decide tomorrow that you want to come back, I’ll come get you and everything will be fine.”

I chuckled. “And if we decide that we don’t want to come back?” I asked.

“Well, then,” Dad said, releasing the hug to pat Kip and I on the back simultaneously, “I expect one hell of a fishing shack for my money.”

* * *

By the time we returned from dropping off Dad and locking the boat away in the boathouse, the wind was up and the water around the shack had lost its morning clarity. “No good for snorkeling, I said, looking down into the water.”

“But good for cooling off,” Kip pointed out.

We stripped inside the shack. “No one’s around,” Kipper observed, stepping toward the door, naked. “Skinny-dippin’ time!”

I followed him out and jumped from the deck into the warm bay waters. We swam around the shack, exploring the area, but were careful to watch for fouled fishing lines and lures. Eventually, we swam out into the channel and horsed around.

We stayed naked when we got out, and I purposefully kept my eyes from lingering on Kip’s body, even when we rinsed quickly in the fresh water shower and wiped each other’s backs to get the salt off.

We took the screens off all the windows and put them into the boathouse. We set up fishing gear for the night and made sandwiches.

After supper, we pulled on shorts, no underwear, and shirts for protection against the chill of the evening breeze, but we didn’t fish for long that night. We had plenty of time for that. Instead, we left the generator and dock lights on to build fish traffic, and sat inside at the table, playing cards and planning out the next day.

Kipper yawned and glanced at the bed.

“I’m ready for bed, too,” I said.

We stared at the bed. And I felt my pulse quicken. I sure as hell didn’t want to misread Kipper, and the last thing I wanted to do was to spoil our trip and our friendship the first night out… but when he swallowed hard and just sat there, it felt almost like a shared expectation.

I let my hair down. Kipper let down his.

I rose, going to the far side of the bed and began to undress. Kipper went to his side of the bed and pulled off his shirt, too. “Nice breeze," I said, and then swallowed hard. "Sleep naked?”

“Sure,” Kipper answered immediately.

Funny… we turned our backs to each other to finish undressing, which we’d never done before, and we crawled quickly under the light sheet from opposite sides of the bed.

Emails are always appreciated at btomandback@hotmail.co