Charlie's step-mom was the vice-principal of his high school, a blessing and a curse. He never got into serious trouble, because she would bail him out of it. His grades though, had to be kept up, as she could check them easily. He also got to do things that got him out of class, like carry boxes from teacher's cars. Boxes full of things that the teachers would use to help their students learn more, like food or a craft from some third world country that nobody cares about anymore.
Charlie was a sophomore at Chesterwood High School, which had recently switched to the block schedule, meaning that he only had four classes a day and they changed with the semester. It was early may, springtime in North Carolina and almost time for school to let out for the summer. April rains had brought May flowers and the world was green again. It's hard to be in the closed classroom while the weather outside is so pretty, which is why everyone is excited about summer approaching. Looking out the window longing to stand on the fresh grass and feel the sun shining on him, the bell signaling the end of second period rang interrupting his daydreams. Charlie had first lunch, which meant that after second period, he had 30 minutes to eat lunch, then off to third period.
Charlie walked out of class, stopped at his locker to drop his book off, and then made his way to his stepmother's office. When he got there, he noticed another boy, skinny with short brown hair wearing expensive soccer shoes, shorts, and an Umbro shirt. In the small high school, Charlie knew everyone and had never seen this kid before. The boy was sitting in a chair outside of Mrs. Walker's office and Charlie figured that he was just new. Charlie opened the door and walked in to find Mrs. Walker (his step-mom) on the phone. He sat in the chair across from her desk.
"Ok, just send them to me and I'll have a look at them... all right talk to you later... bye," she said hanging up the phone. She looked at Charlie. "You are just the person I wanted to see."
"About what?" Charlie asked.
"Seth Cameron Micheal... the boy sitting outside me office right now."
"Is he new?"
"Yes, but there's more to it than that."
"Well, first off... he moved here from California, all the way across the country to live with his uncle."
"Why his uncle?" Charlie asked.
"Because his parents are dead. They died under some circumstances that nobody here knows or wants to talk about."
"When did they die?"
"January... He was living with some relatives, bouncing around and his Uncle Mark finally said that he would take him in."
Chesterwood is a small town, and Charlie had lived there his whole life, so he wondered. "Mark who?"
"Mark Garrett... he lives in the big brown house on the lake." Charlie spent quite a bit of time on the lake, and knew exactly who that was.
"What does this have to do with me?"
"Well, I want you to take third and fourth period off to show him around, talk to him. He's depressed about his parents and in a new school, and I need you to be his friend."
"Ok..." Charlie said, getting up out of the chair.
"And Charlie... one more thing... tread lightly, don't bring anything up that he might not want to talk about."
"Don't worry... It's called tact, and thankfully I have it." She raised an eyebrow at that one.
Charlie stepped out and Seth looked up at him. "I'm Charlie... I get to show you around," he said as he put his hand out. Seth stood up and shook it.
"Nice to meet you Charlie, I'm Seth Micheal."
"I got out of the rest of my classes for the day so we can do whatever now. I guess I'll give you the grand tour of the place first off."
They started walking, Charlie pointing out the classrooms and the bathrooms and stuff like that as they passed by them.
"So how'd you get this job? Showing me around and stuff?" Seth asked.
"Well, Mrs. Walker is my step-mom, so I get to do all the stuff like this."
"What's that like? Living with your vice-principal?"
"It's good and bad... I guess, sometimes, like now, it's great but when she hassles me about my grades it sucks."
"I can see that... So what did she tell you about me?" Seth asked.
Charlie was stuck for a moment. He didn't want to say anything that might trigger something in Seth's mind, but he didn't want to lie either. "Well, she said that you moved here from California and are living with your Uncle."
"Did she tell you why I moved here?"
"Well, just for the record, I'm pretty much over it... My parents are dead, and there's nothing I can do about it. So you don't have to try and skirt the issue or try not to talk about it. I can deal with it," Seth said.
"Ok... So what kind of things do you like to do? What are you into?"
"Well, I don't know if people here even do any of the same stuff that I could do in Cali... like skateboarding or going to concerts and stuff like that. What do you guys do out here?"
"I don't know... it might seem stupid, what us country rednecks do for fun, especially to someone from California. Things like going mud bogging and field parties and spotlighting."
"Well, I've never done anything like that... so I don't know if I'd like it or not. I guess I'll have to try some of that."
"I'm not really into all of that redneck stuff, but since it's the only thing to do around here, I'm kinda limited by my surroundings. But it is Friday, and since the weather is warm... there's going to be a party at the lake tonight... you want to go?"
"Well, since I live on the lake... I might as well. It's not like I'd have to drive home from the party or anything. Where's it at on the lake?"
"We call it `The Hole'. You need a four wheel drive vehicle to get there by land or a boat... not too many people show up in a boat though."
"I've got a boat... well my Uncle does, but I can use it, if I want to." Charlie knew what boat he was talking about... the fastest boat on the lake was owned by Mark Garrett.
"You think we could take it to the party?
"Sure... We could stay at my house. Uncle Mark has a huge finished basement with couches and stuff that we could stay in."
"You don't think he'll mind?" Charlie asked.
"No, he'll be happy that I'm making friends so quickly... besides he's a real easy going guy."
"Cool, I was going to ride with Will, he's my best friend... he's got weightlifting now... lets go talk to him, and I'll just say that I am showing you the weight room.
They were close to the weight room, and could hear Coach Spencer's whistle blowing, signaling the repetitions that the lifters were to do. Charlie and Seth walked in, and Charlie pointed Will out. He had his shirt off and was wearing only yellow mesh shorts. Will was a muscular guy, not bulky, just defined, and Charlie loved to just stand there and watch him. Nobody would ever know, but Charlie has been in love with Will for a long time. He was the most popular guy in school, football, and wrestling, star athlete and everything that skinny Charlie ever wanted.
The whistle stopped blowing and Will put the curl bar down, grabbed his t-shirt to wipe some sweat off, and walked over to Charlie. Coach Spencer said for everyone to take five before the next circuit.
"Chuck, what's up man?" Will said shaking his hand.
"I'm showing him around, and getting out of class to do it."
"You lucky bastard... So you going to introduce me?" Will asked.
"Yeah, this is Seth, he moved here from California."
"Nice to meet you Seth, I'm Will Turner."
"He lives with his Uncle, and you'll never guess who his Uncle is," Charlie said as Will shook Seth's hand.
"Who?" Will asked.
"Mark Garrett," Charlie said.
"You guys know him?" Seth asked
"Well, when you live in the biggest house on the lake, and you own the fastest boat... you get known. That's the shit man," Will said. "You gonna come out to the Hole tonight? Sam and Eric are getting a keg."
"Yeah... we're taking my Uncle's boat to it, you want to come with us?" Seth said, surprising Charlie.
"Hell yeah, just to show up in that boat to the party will be the shit."
"Cool, we can stay at my house too, afterward," Seth said. Coach Spencer blew the whistle telling everyone to get back to a station.
"Alright... you guys meet me at my house at...3:30 and we'll go from there... I gotta go."
"Alright, see you at 3:30," Charlie said.
"Nice meeting you Seth, see ya," Will said rushing over to one of the squat racks.
Seth and Charlie walked out of the weight room. "He seems like a fun guy," Seth commented.
"He's the funnest guy there is. Will is all about having a good time," Charlie said.
"I bet," Seth said. "I'm wondering... and I hope you can answer this... How does the caste system work here?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you know what a caste system is don't you?" Seth said.
"Sure, like Royalty, Clerics, then merchants, tradesmen, peasants and then salves, a social hierarchy."
"Yeah, is there anything like that here? Like `popular' kids in one group and then others like the jocks, the nerds stuff like that?"
"Well, there are people who are popular, or jocks or nerds, but they aren't like socially divided. Everyone is cool with everyone, and everybody has their own group of friends, but nobody is snobby or elitist if that's what you mean."
"That is what I meant, it's like that really bad back in Cali. You couldn't hang out with certain people just because of what they were."
"It's not like that here. This town and school is so small that if we did that only like 4 or 5 people would be in that group, so we loosen the lines and try to not worry about stuff like that."
They walked back up to Mrs. Walker's office, where Charlie told Seth to wait outside for a second. Charlie stepped in as Mrs. Walker was doing some paperwork. "How's it going Charlie?" she asked watching him sit down quickly on the chair opposite her.
"Great! In fact, he invited me to spend the night at his house tonight," Charlie said.
"You guys gonna go to the party at the Hole?" she asked.
"How do you know about that?" Charlie asked.
"You'd be surprised what people talk about right outside my door, without a care in the world," she said.
"Well, we're going, and we're even going to show up in Mark Garrett's boat," Charlie said.
"Is that what you came to tell me?" she asked.
"Well, I guess I am supposed to ask for permission to do stuff like that," Charlie said, smiling.
"Would you go if I told you that you couldn't?" she said.
"Probably," Charlie said.
"Well then, be safe, and don't do anything stupid."
"Thanks, you're the best," Charlie said, on his way out of her office.
Seth was standing outside the door, waiting for Charlie. When he appeared Seth asked, "What'd she say?"
"Green light man, green light," Charlie said, giving the thumbs up.
"Well, where to now?" Seth inquired.
"Do you drive?"
"I had my permit back in California, but I'm only 15, so no, not yet."
"Then we're going to my house to get my stuff for tonight, and then over to meet Will at his house," Charlie said.
"What do you drive?" Seth asked.
"The Mighty Max... the blue bomb," Charlie answered.
"One of those little Mitsubishi trucks?"
They walked out of the school and into the parking lot. Seth followed Charlie to his truck, and from there they drove to Charlie's house. Charlie led Seth to his room upstairs, which was adorned with black light rock posters and lava lamps. "This is a cool room," Seth said. "Trippy."
"Hey man... do you blaze?" Charlie asked.
"Never tried it... I kinda got turned off of it by the dirty hippies in California," Seth said.
"That's cool, if you ever want to try, let me know," Charlie said, pulling a plastic bag out of his sock drawer and shoving it into his pocket. Charlie stuffed a duffel bag full of clothes, zipped it up, and they were on their way out the door.
"How far away is Will's house?" Seth asked while they were on the road.
"Not far, he lives pretty close to the lake actually," Charlie said. "Why do you ask?"
"Because it looks like we're going to get there before he does," Seth said, pointing at the clock.
"Don't worry about that. His house is like my second home, and his family is my second family. Even though I don't have any brothers, I think of his brothers as mine," Charlie said.
"How many brothers does he have?" Seth asked.
"Just two, Henry is 21 and Brett is 14," Charlie said. "They're cool, especially since Henry can buy beer."
They drove and chatted for ten more minutes before they pulled into Will's driveway and Charlie parked in `his' parking spot among the five other vehicles there, none of which were Will's little Nissan. Charlie and Seth walked around to the back door and walked right in. Will's mom was in the kitchen and greeted them.
"Hi Charlie, you going to introduce me to your friend?" he asked.
"Judy, this is Seth Micheal, he just moved here from California," Charlie said.
Judy extended her hand and Seth shook it. "Nice to meet you Seth. Are you boys hungry? You want something to drink?" Both boys politely declined. "Will should be here in a few minutes, you guys meeting him here?"
"Yeah, then we're going over to Seth's house... he lives on the lake," Charlie said.
"What kind of trouble are you boys getting into tonight?" she asked.
"The usual... you know," Charlie said with a smirk.
"Yeah, I know. I wish I didn't, lord have mercy." Judy grabbed a dry towel from the drawer and started to dry the dishes she apparently had just washed. "Now, I've got some work to do here, so if you want to chit chat, I suggest you grab a towel," she said, trying to put the boys to work.
"That's OK. I think we're going to play some pool or something... come on Seth," Charlie led Seth to the door that went down to the basement. Downstairs was Will's and Henry's rooms, a pool table, a ping pong table, and some various athletic items, like weights, boxing gloves and a basket full of various sports associated balls. Charlie and Seth started a ping pong game, and were almost done when Will and Brett came in the door to the basement from the garage. Brett is only in 8th grade, but Charlie thought he was the cutest boy on the planet. Skinny with blond hair, and a cockiness that radiated from him. Will was another story. Brown hair that he sometimes grew long and sometimes kept short, and a physique that looked like Brad Pitt in `Fight Club'. Amazing for a 17-year-old.
"What's going on fellas?" Will asked.
"Not much, I'm about to win." Seth made the game-point right after saying that.
"You suck," Brett said.
"You think so?" Seth said.
"Yeah." Brett picked up Charlie's paddle. "Let's go." They started a game while Charlie followed Will into his room.
"Hey Will," Charlie said.
"What's up Chuck?" Will is the only person that Charlie allows to call him Chuck, and then only when they're alone.
"About Seth... you might want to be careful about what you say around him."
"His parent are both dead... that's why he moved here to live with his Uncle," Charlie said.
"Damn..." Will was pondering.
"Let's just try and make him feel welcome, so that he can forget some of that."
"Good idea pal... So what do you want to do until the party?" Will said.
"Another good idea..." Will said.
"What about the rope swing?" Charlie said. The rope swing, merely a long rope tied to a tree on the edge of the lake, used to swing up and out and then splash into the lake.
"You didn't hear about that?" Will asked.
"Tricorp took it down! Ripped the whole tree out from the ground and even took the rope!" Will said.
"That's bullshit... fuck..." Charlie said. Tricorp owns most of the land on massive Capp Lake. They own all of the undeveloped land, and that's where The Hole and many other teenage hangouts are.
"Don't fret, a new one is in the works... It might be a while, I've got to find some rope, but before summer starts, we'll have a rope swing," Will said.
"Cool, but right now, you want to just go out somewhere in the middle of the lake and dive in?" Charlie said.
"Yeah... let me find my suit." Will rummaged around his clothes pile and in his dresser for his swimsuit. He found it and started stripping down. Charlie did the polite thing and stepped out of his room, although he knew Will wouldn't care, and he wanted to watch him get naked... Charlie was too scared to arouse any suspicions. Stepping back out into the basement, he saw Brett and Seth going at it, head to head on the ping pong table. The ball raced back and forth until Seth caught Brett, and the ball hit the edge of the table and bounced behind him, ricocheting off the weight.
"Yes! I win!" Seth said.
"Man, you cheated," Brett said, sulking... He usually beats Charlie and Will at ping pong.
"Whatever you say," Seth said.
Will came out of his room wearing his flip flops, his red swimming trunks and had goggles and a snorkle on his head. Charlie laughed at the stupid get up. "You guys ready?" Will asked.
"Not as ready as you obviously," Charlie said. "Let me go grab my trunks."
"You can change at my house... we have to go there anyway," Seth said.
"That's right... you can change at his house... We're staying at your house after the party right?" Will asked.
"Let me grab some clothes." Will disappeared into his room.
"Are you guys going swimming?" Brett asked.
"No," Charlie said.
"Whatever... Can I come?" Brett pleaded.
Charlie would have loved to say yes. Just seeing Brett in a wet swimsuit would have made his day, not to mention wrestling around with him in the water. Brett really was a lot of fun, and sometimes Will and Charlie would include him in on things that they did. They never took him to parties though, as it's not very cool to show up with your 14-year-old brother at a high school party. "No, some other time maybe," Charlie said.
"Aww man..." Brett said, as he headed upstairs.
Will reappeared from his room with a duffel bag. "Let's go!" They all went out the door to the garage. "Seth, your boat or mine?" Will asked.
"Mine... we have to go to my house anyway, and it's on the lake waiting for us," Seth said.
"Right. I guess we'll all have to pile in the Nissan then," Will said, opening the hatchback of his Pulsar to put his duffel bag in. The back seat in the pulsar is a joke, and even someone skinny like Seth would have to sit across the seat to be comfortable. Everyone was about to climb in when they heard something from the house.
"WIIIIILLLL!" Judy was at the back door.
"WHHAAAT!?" Will answered.
"Where are you going?" Judy asked.
"Nowhere," Will said. Seth giggled.
"Be careful!" Judy said.
"I will." Will climbed into the car, and Charlie let the front seat up so that Seth could climb in the back. Charlie put his seat down, got in, and soon they were on the road. Seth felt like an outsider in the backseat. Charlie's truck and Will's car really only fit two people comfortably. It seemed to Seth that those two people were Will and Charlie, and that there wasn't any room for him.
"Hey Seth man, you play any sports back in California?" Will asked.
"Soccer, I was all state 7th through 9th grade," Seth replied.
"That's the shit. So I guess you're pretty good at soccer then?"
Will turned on to the road to the residential section of the lake. "Which lot road is your house on?"
"27, second on the left," Seth said. Will pulled onto the road, and then into the driveway of the big brown house.
"You know, I have been coming to this lake all my life, and this house has always been here, but never once have I been inside it," Charlie remarked.
"Well, come on in!" Seth said, pushing Charlie's seat up as he climbed out of the car. They walked up to the porch, and Seth got his key out, and opened the door. The inside of the house was just as nice as it would be from looking at the outside. Real paintings on the wall, and the kind of furniture that isn't meant to be sat in, just to be looked at. "Come on up to my room." Will and Charlie followed Seth upstairs. "Mark says that this room is only temporary, and that he's going to let me have the basement, kinda like your house Will." Seth grabbed his swimsuit from his dresser and ducked into the bathroom.
"This place is nice," Will commented.
"Yeah," Charlie agreed.
Seth came out of the bathroom quickly, but it was a whole new Seth to Charlie. With only his board shorts on, Charlie could see his perfect soccer body. Muscles melded perfectly into each other, and Charlie was in awe of Seth. "Your turn," Seth said, breaking Charlie's gaze. Charlie grabbed his suit out of his bag and ducked into the bathroom.
"You know this lake pretty well?" Seth asked Will.
"Every bit of it," Will said.
"Well then, you can drive the boat."
"I don't think that's a good idea!" Charlie shouted from the bathroom. He stepped out, his thin frame seemed even thinner next to the muscle bound Will, and the perfect bodied Seth.
"Why not?" Will asked Charlie.
"Because you wrecked your last 2 boats!" Charlie said.
"Shhh! Those weren't my fault," Will said, smiling.
"I'll drive then, you guys just tell me where to go," Seth said. "You guys ready?"
"Hell yeah," Will and Charlie said in unison. They left their bags in Seth's room and headed outside.
The weather was warm on their skin, and the lake smelled sweet to their noses. Out on the dock, they took the cover off of the boat, untied it, and cranked it up. Soon they were cruising to the edge of the `no wake' part of the lake and onto one of the many deep parts where you can go as fast as you can.
"See that island on the right there?" Will asked Seth.
"Go on the other side of it." Seth threw the throttle almost all the way down, and they were skipping on top of the water, bouncing slightly and cutting the water behind them. They were on the other side of the island within seconds. "Ok, now go slow into that inlet." Seth slowed and they creeped into this mostly untraveled part of the lake. Trees came up all the way to the bank, and the inlet curved to the right. As they came around the corner, they saw that the inlet got much bigger, and the trees became fewer. Soon there was a ton of open flat water, and fields of grass on all sides.
"I've never been to this part of the lake before," Seth said. "Even though I've only been here a week."
"This is our spot, nobody else comes here but us," Charlie said. "You can stop the boat and drop the anchor now." Seth complied and they were all standing up, looking at each other. "Well?" Charlie said, looking at Will.
"Well what?" Will said. He proceeded to grab Charlie, lift him up, and jump off the boat into the lake, Charlie hanging on for dear life. Seth dove in after them. They splashed around, dunking each other and doing crazy stuff like that. They were kids until the tips of their fingers looked like raisins. They climbed back into the boat, and dried themselves off. They then spread out on the boat, and let the sun finish what the towel couldn't do. Will and Charlie shared a seat in the back and Seth sprawled out on the seat in the middle. Seth felt like an outsider again... looking at Will and Charlie sitting right next to each other. Two guys sitting next to each other in perfect comfort isn't a site seen too often. Seth was in `their' spot on the lake, looking at two friends enjoying just being next to each other, their bodies touching, laid back feeling the sun warm their souls.
Charlie opened his eyes when he heard Will start snoring obnoxiously. That was Will... never a dull moment. Charlie elbowed him in the side, and Will sat up with a start, pretending to just have woken up.
"WHAT?" he said, yelling in Charlie's face.
"You were bitching out on us," Charlie said.
"Was not... just catching a few winks," Will said with a smirk. Charlie laughed.
"What do you guys want to do now?" Will said.
"It's 5:30," Seth said, looking at the clock on the boat.
"Damn, I didn't know it was so late..." Charlie said.
"You guys hungry?" Will asked. They all were. Swimming like that makes people hungry. "Well, let's go to the Ridge, grab a bite, and then chill until the party," Will said.
"What's the Ridge?" Seth asked.
"A spot on the lake to grab a burger and gas up your boat," Charlie said.
"Well, let's go then!" Seth said. Will and Charlie directed him to the Ridge, and Seth docked the boat in one of the `parking spots' and they all hopped out, and walked into the restaurant part.
Sitting at a booth were the twins, Sam and Eric, and Eric's girlfriend Patty. Sam and Eric are identical, but Eric keeps his hair shorter than Sam does so it's easy to tell the difference. Will, being the social animal he was, greeted them.
"What's going on?" Will said, sauntering up to the table.
"Not much, just hanging out until the party. You guys are coming, right?" Sam said.
"You guys are buying a keg right?" Charlie asked.
"Not exactly..." Eric said.
"What do you mean?" Will asked, suddenly worried that he might have to get his own beer for the party.
"We bought two," Sam said.
"Kick ass, we're going to grab a burger, and then we'll see you guys at the party," Will said.
"Later," Sam and Eric said in unison.
Seth, Charlie and Will sat down in a booth and ordered burgers. They chatted easily, until Will got up to use the restroom. When he was out of earshot, Seth leaned in and asked Charlie. "What's up with Will and you?"
Charlie was shocked at the question. "What do you mean?"
"Is there something going on there? The way you guys act around each other, it's suspicious," Seth said.
"What's suspicious? He's my best friend, but there nothing more to it," Charlie said, shocked at Seth's insinuation.
"It's just that you guys are a lot more comfortable around each other than most guys who are `just friends' are," Seth said.
Charlie had to think about that one. It was completely true, but he'd never noticed it. It was so easy to be with Will, that he never thought about it much. "Well, let me put it this way. I'm closer to Will than anyone I know, and I'm sure it's the same way with him. He's my brother, and as his brother, I can tell you this... he's not gay, if that's what you're trying to get at," Charlie said.
"What about you?" Seth asked, throwing Charlie for a loop. Nobody had ever seriously asked him if he were gay. He didn't know how to answer it, and luckily, he didn't have to. Will came back from the bathroom, and Seth gave Charlie a look that told him that they would talk about it later.
"You guys ready to blow this joint?" Will said, sitting down next to Charlie.
"You read my mind," Charlie said, pulling out his wallet and leaving enough money for all the food and the tip.
Seth and Will reached for their wallets. "Don't worry about it guys, this one's on me," Charlie said. "Let's go." Charlie was a little disturbed by what Seth had been hinting at, because he was almost right on the money. He couldn't get his mind off of it. The whole way back to Seth's house, he was fixating on what he was going to say to Seth about the whole thing. One part of him wanted to deny everything, so that nobody suspected his real secret. Another part of him figured that there was a reason Seth wanted to know, and Charlie might want to capitalize on that, since he wasn't getting anywhere with Will.
"You OK Charlie?" Will asked, noticing Charlie's preoccupation. They were watching TV in Seth's basement.
"Yeah, I just zoned out I guess," Charlie said. Will didn't like Charlie's ambiguity, but he let it go.
Will leaned over to Charlie's ear. "Hey man... you got any weed?" he whispered. Charlie nodded.
"Seth, where's your Uncle?" Charlie asked.
"I don't know... let me give him a call." Seth picked up the phone and dialed a number. After a brief conversation, he hung up. "He's in Florida for the weekend, business trip. He said it's OK for you guys to stay here though," Seth said.
"Well, we're going to step out to Will's car for a minute, we'll be right back," Charlie said.
"Alright, don't get caught," Seth said.
Charlie and Will walked out to the Pulsar and climbed in. Charlie began rolling a joint. "What did Seth say to you when I went to the bathroom at the Ridge?" Will asked.
"Why do you ask?" Charlie said, caught off guard again.
"Because, whatever he said, it put you in a mood. I noticed how the conversation stopped when I walked up," Will said.
Charlie was in a bind. He never wanted to lie to Will, but telling him what the conversation was about would bring up a conversation about it, and Charlie didn't want to talk about it, not to Will just then. The moment had to be right. "He said some things that I had to think about, that's all," Charlie said.
"Like what?" Will asked.
Charlie had finished rolling the joint and was getting ready to light it. "Can it wait? I'll tell you some other time..." He lit the joint and that was the end of that.
It was about 10:00, and with Seth driving and Will and Charlie navigating, the threesome pulled up to the shore near the Hole. Music was pumping from somewhere, probably someone's Jeep, and the sounds of a High School party filled the air. Stepping out of the boat, and beginning the short walk to the Hole from the shore, Will spoke first.
"Sounds like a bunch of people," he said.
"With two kegs, there are always a bunch of people," Charlie said.
Walking into the crowd, people in all directions shouted `Will!' `Charlie!' Will and Charlie made the rounds, introducing Seth to the people that they hung out with. It's important to be known in high school. You can't be popular if people have to explain who you are.
They all made it to the keg, eventually, and all got a red solo cup, standard keg party fare, and Will showed Seth the `secret' to pouring beer out of the keg without getting foam. Will proceeded, as he always does at parties, to get insanely drunk. Soon, he was doing keg-stands and chugging beer like some college freshmen. That was one thing about Will, he could drink some beer.
Charlie and Seth only had a few, and just enjoyed the music and the people. It seems that at parties, the majority of the conversations are about other parties. Telling the story about some kickass party you were at and something funny happened is essential to being a contributing party member. Seth, this being his first party didn't have any stories, but heard enough of them to get quite a bit of history about lots of people at the high school.
As the night wore on, the number of people dwindled, and so did Will's sobriety. He went from having fun and being drunk, to being really drunk, and not having so much fun, because of the blurry vision and nausea. After he puked in the woods, he stumbled over to Charlie and Seth.
"I think it's time to head home fellas," Will said.
"What?!" Charlie said, "Are you bitching out on us again?"
"No, it's just that I drank too many beers and need to go pass out. If it's not at Seth's, then I'm going to find a nice piece of earth," Will said.
"I think we should go then," Seth said.
"You," Will said, sloppily pointing his finger at Seth, "are an idea man. Great idea."
"Let's go," Charlie said. They made their goodbye rounds, and Seth and Charlie helped Will onto the boat, setting him in there so that if he puked again, he does it in the lake and not in the boat.
The boat ride home was very calming. After the excitement and general busy-ness of the party, taking your time on a still lake at night was relaxing. The almost summer air swept by them, and the water only moved by the boat's wake was flat and serene. For Charlie, it gave him some time to think about everything that had happened that day. For Seth, it put him back in the real world. For Will, it only put him to sleep.
At Seth's house, Charlie and Seth had a time getting Will out of the boat and into the house. They finally, with a little elbow grease, got him out and into the basement, where he more fell than sat down into a lazy-boy and promptly passed out again.
"This couch folds out into a bed. You want to do that, and watch TV for a little while?" Seth asked Charlie.
"Sure." They took all the cushions off, and pulled the bed out. Seth got some sheets, pillows, and a thick blanket and made the bed. Charlie watched in rapt interest as Seth stripped down to his boxers and climbed in. Charlie stripped down to his briefs and climbed in on the other side. He didn't notice Seth staring at him just as hard.
After they were both comfortably sitting up in the bed, Seth lazily flipped the channels. "You never answered my question," he said, not looking at Charlie.
"What question?" Charlie played dumb.
"The one I asked you at the Ridge, before Will came back."
"Oh... that one..." Charlie said.
"It looked like you gave it a lot of thought afterward," Seth said. "Think about it enough to give me an answer?"
"That depends," Charlie said.
"On what?" Seth asked.
"How so? Are you worried that I'm going to go around telling everybody? If so, don't worry about that. I'm not the kind of guy to go around telling people private stuff, and you're too good a friend for me to do that to anyway," Seth said.
That settled Charlie a little bit, but it wasn't enough to assure him. "What about you?" he asked.
"What about me?" Seth said.
"Why don't you answer the question first?" Charlie said.
"OK, I don't care... I'll tell you... I'm gay. I'm gay and I don't care." Charlie looked shocked by Seth's uninhibited use of the `g' word. Seth tried to reassure him. "Look man, you don't have to come out and say it. I can because where I was raised, California, it's not such a big deal. You, I'm sure, are scared to death of people here finding out."
"It's not exactly the tolerance capitol of the world," Charlie commented.
"Right, so you should be glad that I'm here," Seth said.
"Why's that?" Charlie asked.
"Because now you have someone to talk to. Someone you can tell your real feelings to. Believe me, it helps," Seth said.
"For the record, I haven't told you anything yet, but I need to ask... Are you going to make me do anything?" Charlie said.
"Like what?" Seth asked.
"You know... stuff..."
"No, never. I won't make you do anything you don't want to, or will regret. Besides, don't you think we should get to know each other better before we start fucking like rabbits?" Seth said, grinning.
Charlie laughed. "Good, not now though, I've had quite enough for one day. Let's get some sleep." Charlie slid down and covered himself up.
Seth turned the TV off and followed suit. Before turning over, he spoke in a whisper. "By the way Charlie, I think you're cute."
"Thanks, I think you're cute too," Charlie said, the last words spoken before they drifted off to sleep.
Did you like it? Comments Welcome @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks to Steve for editing this, and of course for Stew for hosting it. OXOXOXOXO to both of you. All stories are availible @ http://www.stews-home.net