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Chapter 2 "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner"
I felt his hand again and shot Jamie a look.
"Listen," I hissed. "We're in a public place. Knock it off, ok?"
I got a face and another kind of look. "There's three other people in the whole damn theatre," he muttered. "All of 'em sitting way down front. I've got our coats piled here, so who's gonna know?"
"I'll know. How many times have I got to tell you? If we're alone and somewhere safe, hey anything goes. But this thing you got for public places is something else."
He didn't look happy, but his hand slid back under the armrest and we returned to the movie. He'd lost interest now I could tell, but we were in this deep so I let it go. Couldn't be more than fifteen minutes or so left. Bruce Willis and what's-his-name were at a party, and I was kind of hoping that maybe something interesting might happen. They looked to be teaming up as a crime fighter unit, and it was scary to think this dog might have "Unbreakable 2" written all over it. God, what if it became a TV series on UPN or something? No, not UPN, they were too high end for this. The WB, yeah that was the place for it. I shuddered. That just meant more time on the net for me. Or with Jamie, but that was starting to sound a little less appealing these days.
No, I shouldn't say that. He may not be all the things I used to dream about (fantasize? Yeah, that's more honest), and I grouse about him a lot, but I still remember that long summer of looking for someone, anyone, and thinking that was enough. Now I had a boyfriend, and that made things better. I didn't stare into space thinking about what things could be like, now I knew. I also knew there were drawbacks, because gawd-damn people are just not what you want them to be sometimes. For example Jamie was the perfect sex machine, but he was kind of short in the romantic moods department, and he had this thing about sneaking in stuff in public places. No, nothing gross but he liked grabbing when people were around and that bothered me.
Couple-hood is a rough adjustment when you've been hiding out solo for as long as you can remember. Turning your head and seeing what you're lucky enough to have walking beside you is nice. But privacy suffers too, and sometimes you wind up finding out more than you wanted to know, and other people finding out more about you than you wanted them to know.....
* * * * *
Morning came, and when I rolled over I slammed myself against a wall that shouldn't have been there. My eyes weren't quite open yet but my hands told me this wasn't plaster. No, not a wall just a massive back, but I was pinned to a wall on the other side because Jamie was a bed hog. Another toss around by him and I could well be history. The only question I had was how did I get there? I knew I started off on the outside.
Jesus, I must have been tired. I had already forgotten about Jamie. Last night was almost a dream now, but it came through to me quick enough and I smiled. I twitched a muscle and felt a comfortable ache in a certain place that I enjoyed. And the events, oh yes, the events... First Jamie had rescued me from a creep, and to show my appreciation I ran like hell to home, but then he followed me there to confront me with the facts of both our lives. Then he made love to me slowly and with the consideration of an angel, brought me to the plateau of bliss only to kick me off the ridge with a smack across the tail. In seconds he went from sensitive caring lover to seventeen-year-old horn dog who just got off. He was sorry enough after I chewed him out, but when he rolled over I swear I heard him giggling and I know the bed shook some. I have to admit to a silent chuckle myself, so in the first major decision of our relationship, I wisely said nothing.
Right now was a different matter. I was pinched between his massive back and a wall, and one more roll and I'd be a splat on the sheets. I nudged him gently, but instead of moving forward he spun onto his back and his left arm caught me in the throat.
"Huh? Oh. Sorry babe." He edged away and turned to face me, leaning his head on his arm and fixing me with that blue stare of his. He reached around with his other hand and stroked my cheek; just the edges of his fingertips, and that sent a shiver through me. "I guess I'm kind of a slob in my sleep. Sorry to roll on you like that."
"Sorry I was such a bitch."
"Hey, If someone twice my size rolled onto me I don't think I'd be in too good a mood first thing in the morning either. Guess I don't have much practice sleeping with someone."
I wiggled my eyebrows. "Well, we'll have to get you some more practice."
He smiled at that. "Yeah, I'd like that Chris. A lot. I'm glad you asked me to stay even if I did hurt your, umm, pride."
"It wasn't my pride you hurt. Just my ass." He sniggered. "But you could make up for that right now with a little morning kiss."
His eyes slowly flicked over me, and a broad smile played over his face. God, those eyes could melt the soul.... We leaned forward to one another, both closing our eyes as our lips brushed first, our arms coiled around each other's bodies, our mouths opened and pressed against each other.... our tongues slowly reached out and touched.... we locked lips....
We charged for the bath.
* * * * *
A lot of people will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but you wouldn't know it at my house. Jamie was up in the shower and I had come down and put on some coffee for starters and then begun scrounging through the cabinets and the fridge for both of us. No bacon, no eggs, not even ham. My mother hadn't shopped for groceries Friday before they left for the Lake, and I had figured to do the restocking over the weekend but even if had gone to DeMoulas' on Friday night instead of Rte 3 there still wouldn't have been much in the way of a hearty traditional breakfast. My dad usually scoffed a quick cup of coffee and some toast before he zipped out the door, and my mother wasn't much different. I usually settled for cereal and juice and a single cup of heavily creamed coffee myself. I was rooting around desperately when Jamie eased silently into the room and slipped his arms around me from behind, licking my neck.
"Mmmmmm," I said.
"Yeah. Nothing like boy for breakfast."
"You just might have to settle for that. I can't find much more than pop-tarts, cereal, and coffee."
"Strawberry Pop Tarts?"
"Great. What kind of cereal?"
I turned a little red at that. "Well, there's always Wheaties...."
Disappointed, he said, "No Count Chocula?"
I moved the box of Wheaties out of the way and pulled out a half eaten box of the same. Then I grabbed the Froot Loops for myself.
"Yum. You know the way to my heart. Directly off the stomach."
"I got the idea it was lower." I peered at the box. "I didn't peg you for the sugar and dextrose type."
"Yeah, and there's something else you never pegged me for, and we both got lucky when you found out about that."
We dug into our less than healthy breakfast. I caught Jamie just sort of looking at me as he chewed so he spoke, "What time do the rug guys get here?"
I squinted at the clock. "About an hour. They said about 8:30." Jamie scarfed the bowl clean and re-filled it. "Shouldn't take too long, there's just the rugs in the living room and my dad's office. The stuff upstairs is all new. They have to be out by noon because I have to be to work by one."
"Yeah, I gotta work today, too. Is it alright if I hang here for awhile?"
"No problem. What about your parents? You never called 'em last night, they gonna say anything?"
"Nah. They think I'm at the beach staying with my brother Paul. He's got a condo in Seabrook."
"Where does he think you are?"
He smiled at me. "I told him I had a hot date last night and I'd probably be shacked up."
"Shacked up huh? I'm a shack-up? Nice to know where I stand!"
He struck the phoniest apologetic pose I had ever seen, and it cracked me up. Then out of nowhere his voice took a sudden serious edge. "You're no shack up, Chris. It's not like I planned to run into you or anything. Hoped maybe, but not planned."
That got my attention. "Hoped?"
He turned red, and his upper teeth bit his lower lip then he looked down into his murky brown bowl and shoveled the last tablespoon of Count Chocula into his mouth. "Yeah, hoped. I've, um, kinda had a thing for you for awhile."
I didn't know what to say, so I kept silent. For a moment.
"You have a thing for me?"
He scuffed his feet, squirmed in his chair, and I don't know how but managed to turn even redder. "Yeah. Since like freshman year," he said simply.
It was my turn to shuffle and squirm, and I did exactly that. I told you, I'm nothing special to look at and I had no idea how to deal with what he'd just said. "I had no clue. I mean, we hardly even talked. The only contact we ever had was a couple words in class or in the hall."
He glanced up from the bowl looking like a Lost Boy searching for his mother. Then he kind of hunched down. "I didn't know what to say, and I was scared to say much because I figured I might say too much. I knew I was gay back then and all, and I used to look at you and think... well never mind what I thought. Plus I thought you were straight, and I figured if I started trying to hang with you I'd just make it worse for myself. Or say something dumb. Like now." A small smile returned and I saw mischief in his eyes. "But if it means anything to you, we got to know each other real good at night after I shut off the lights."
Suddenly his hand was on mine, not rough and not gentle, but firm. "I'm kind of assuming some things here Chris. I mean if you want to just look at last night as some fun, its ok with me. But... I mean... I know I asked you to hook up and that was kinda crude... even for me... I guess I want to ask you to try going out with me. Date and stuff... Fuck. I want you to be my boyfriend." He squeezed, and my fist was lost in that oversized hand of his. If he was acting, he was good. His eyes had that scared kid look, the one you see on a little guy sometimes, when he's said something he's not sure he should have. I sat there with my mouth hanging open, some milk running down one corner. I guess this was my romantic moment, and I swallowed hard and wiped away the wet stuff on my chin and the stuff in my eyes. I mouthed words without any sound coming out. Please don't let this be some cruel game, some lame joke. And God, if you're there, don't let this be just another dream.
He kissed me on the cheek, real soft and shy. "Unless you say otherwise, I'll take that as a yes, ok?"
* * * * *
The rug guys came and went, and all the furniture was sitting on these little waterproof pads. The entertainment center stood empty, its contents scattered through the kitchen and the hall. It would stay that way until sometime Sunday, giving the rug a chance to dry better and me the time to pull out the pads. Jamie offered to come by Sunday to help if I wanted him to. We hadn't done or said much once the rug guys got there, just gone up to my room and flicked on some music while they worked. Jamie slid an arm around me a few times and gave me these little kisses, but there was no heavy fooling around with three strangers in the house. According to a lot of the stories I read, we should have been in an orgy right now with the rug guys, but honestly all we did was get to know each other better.
That was good. We knew each other's bodies when we barely knew more than each other's names. Funny. Guys are dogs I guess. We'll plug it in a hole first, and then maybe introduce ourselves after. This was all turned 'round from the way I thought it was supposed to be, but still better than what I planned. Friday night was supposed to be about sex, period. That's as far as I had thought it through, if you call what I did thinking. I hadn't a clue what was supposed to happen after. Right now was not only a big surprise but a nice one.
I booted up the 'puter and we jumped into gay.com, hit the Youth Floor chats and got into Boy Teens 1 on the first click. Jamie recognized my name when I logged in and laughed. "We've talked. Oh, yeah have we talked! Man, you are THE cyber king too!"
I could feel the heat rising. That was a corner of my life I hadn't planned to bring up. "Oh?"
"Uh-huh. I'm LoadBoi_17. Remember Mike_17A's orgy in the teens' Germany Room?"
That really brought out my color, and I kept my head down. LoadBoi and I had some... discussions. Private discussions. If you've ever been to a youth chat and done some Privates, you'll know what I mean. I did my best to shift the focus on today's big room discussion, which seemed to be what preoccupied most teen-age boys. Sex. Today's topic had true class: spit or swallow. Swallow seemed to have the edge. One of the guys was babbling aimlessly and being a true pain in the ass. "I hate that kid," I said.
"Yeah. Carve can be a real dick. He's only 13, but he's a total wad."
We didn't join the chat and I didn't answer any hails, we just watched. Anyone who saw Cruiser just naturally assumed he was in Private if he was being room-quiet. Eventually the rug guy called up the stairs. I signed the receipt and they were gone. It was 11:30.
"I gotta be moving, Chris. What time do you take your dinner at Borders'?"
I looked at him funny. "How do you know where I work?"
He shrugged. "'Cuz I'm at Old Navy in The Loop. I've seen you going in there plenty."
"Um, well I have to work that out with my boss."
"Shoot for seven, that's when things slow down for us on Saturday anyway. Wendy's or BK, though. It's date night, and Loews' will have Not Your Average Joe's packed." Loews' was a twenty-theatre complex that anchored The Loop. Jamie swooped down and gave my cheek another kiss before heading out the door.
I watched him slip out and stood watching as he loaded his big frame into a vintage Crown Vic. First time I ever saw what he drove, and it surprised me some, but when you thought about it he'd have trouble getting in and out of much else.
Strange, I thought. He worked right NEXT to me. He knew what car I drove. Jesus, he even knew where I lived -- that had just clicked in. How did he know where I lived? I wondered what else he knew, and the red came back. LoadBoi_17 knew a lot of other things I liked too.
* * * * *
The store was busy when I got to work. It normally is on Saturday, but like I said before, the summer was fading fast and the Back To School stuff we (sadly) put out at the end of July was flying off the shelves. Dave was off today, but Karen was on, and from the moment I punched in she was on my tail to get things done. Don't get me wrong, I like Karen and when things are quiet she cuts us a lot of slack as long as we get the work out, but when the store was busy she expected us to hustle. Karen was in line for her own store or so we heard, and she deserved it. She knew stock, she knew merchandise, and she knew how to schedule people. She read people almost as well as she could read a book, so it really wasn't that much of a shock when she dropped her little bomb on me about being gay. The first three hours of my shift flew by when we finally hit a lull. She was heading my way when we heard the main door whoosh! and in came Jamie filling out a pair of 501's like only he could, and a pale blue button down collar shirt. He had that grin again and wasted no time closing the distance between us. He grabbed me by both shoulders, much the way he had the night before when he showed up at my kitchen door, and squeezed. I winced, but he didn't hug like he had the night before. "I'm on a break. We clear for dinner at seven?"
I looked hopefully at Karen. She smiled and glanced back and forth at the two of us. "Yeah, the runt can abandon me at seven, I've still got Andrea, Steve and Wynona. BUT---I expect a bribe. Combo #5 from Wendy's, super sized. He buys."
"Kewl deal. I'm Jamie."
"Karen. You work at Old Navy right? Hey Chris, take a break. It's quiet now."
I debated going to the break room, but wasn't sure how freely we could talk. We hit the sidewalk, just talked a little, and then Jamie had to get back to work. I was headed back into the store, and Karen was standing there arms crossed and tapping her foot. Everyone else was busy, straightening sections WAY back from the front. I knew that look. Karen wanted dirt, she wanted it in no uncertain terms, and she was going to get it any way she could.
"Where did you reel THAT in?" she demanded.
"Reel what in? Jamie? We go to school together. We're just friends."
Karen could look right through you when she chose, and she wasn't having any of it from me. "Chris, you've been here since late June, and every day I looked at you I saw `Desperation' written on your face and `Need' bulging in other places. Yesterday I thought you were ready to jump a sofa cushion, but today you come in all smiles, easy calm and walking more than a BIT funny. I know when something changes with you, and I saw the way Jamie looked at you, and suddenly you're all buddy-buddy and taking breaks and having dinner together. If he was just a friend from school I think he would have been in here before since he just works a couple of doors down. And the way he looked at you is NOT the way `just friends' look at each other. Those eyes of his locked on you before he cleared the door and he's got it bad. And you stood there looking like a deer in the headlights. Now, spill your guts. I want dirt and details. Spare me the anatomy lessons because those jeans didn't hide much and I don't need a blow by-- I mean, real intimate stuff. I know what guys do; I've seen a few movies. But I want the story, all of it, and I'll fire your tight lil ass out the door if I don't get the news."
She wouldn't of course, but that's not what caught my attention. "You've seen movies?"
"Yup. Straight guys go nuts watching lesbian stuff. Think we never check out what the boys can do?"
That really made me turn red. Part of me wanted to know if she made copies, but I was too embarrassed to ask, so I spilled it, all of it, except for the sex stuff ("Then we did it" was about as much as I was going to say). She told me I was nuts when I brought up the rest area which I countered by adding I'd never be going that way again even if Jamie had done a fade the morning after. I was lucky once and I couldn't gamble on that kind of luck twice. Things could have gone very different if Jamie hadn't stepped in from nowhere.
"I ever hear about you going to a place like that, I'll spank you for being a stupid brat."
I wound down and told her the good part, what Jamie said about watching me for three years. She got this far away look on her face. "That's really something. That's beautiful."
"That I have a boyfriend?"
She smiled dreamily; spoke softly, "Not just that, hon, but that's great too. I mean to have someone admit that they've looked at you for over three years, sitting just close enough, but not too close, feeling for you but afraid to say anything, and then getting the chance to tell you what they mean, and how they feel... its a bad 30's movie Chris, but it's still a two hankie piece and I love that stuff. I'd love for that to be me."
I watched her face soften as it all sank in and built up some courage about something else.
"Those movies you mentioned before. I don't suppose you made copies of them, did you?"
Her mouth became a thin red line, and her eyes narrow black slits. I wanted to slink into a crack. "You're all alike. From the second those two things drop and your voices crack till ten minutes AFTER they put you in the ground, you're all alike. Whether you want girls, guys, or sheep it doesn't matter. You all think with the little head."
* * * * *
Seven came, and Jamie was on the sidewalk waiting. We made our way across the parking lot with me hustling to keep up. I would have to eventually remind Jamie his legs were like seven inches longer than mine, but what the hell I was a runner anyway. We both gave inside orders, but I remembered Karen's and had them bag it. She could microwave it in the break room. There was a single table open and we snagged it. Jamie looked silly squeezed into the tiny seat and our knees were rammed against each other, which seemed to suit us both just fine. Yeah, I was nervous at the contact at first but there wasn't much choice with the pre/post movie mobs that would be flowing through here until closing. We didn't really talk about much of anything, just Stuff. It was comfortable; it was easy. He hunched down to look me in the eyes the entire time, and he seemed to watch every move I made. Part of me was embarrassed; another part of me ate it up. We both had an hour, but it took us maybe fifteen minutes to eat, and it was clear looking at the mob lined up that the tables were in demand. We bussed ourselves, and two girls jumped at the table when we got up. One gave Jamie the big eye. I heard the other say she liked the little one. Eat your heart out, I thought, you guys got ZERO chance no matter what you do. Jamie and I walked slowly across the lot, me toting the Number 5 (super sized) and Jamie with his hands stuffed into his pockets. It was a slower return than our walk over, and we leaned against his Crown Vic just talking. He was hemming and hawing again.
"Did I mention my parents think I'm gonna be at my brother's again tonight?"
"I hadn't heard that. What does your brother say about it?"
"Um, well, I have a key to his place, but he wouldn't be surprised if I didn't show up. Assuming I didn't have anything better to do. And he covers for me, of course." He waited. "He always covers."
He was waiting for me to fill in the blanks, but I just leaned and stared at the traffic on 113, letting him hang in silence. I owed him.
Sadly, he said, "Well, I suppose I should get back to work." And he began moving off.
I let him get maybe ten feet away before I called after him. "Hey, LoadBoi. Let's do a meet after ten in the parking lot."
* * * * *
I looked at the clock, saw it was after one, then reached down and began pealing the thin latex off. Jamie was stretched out and looking comfortable with his eyes closed. I sat there with it dangling at arms length between my fingers. One of my favorite net authors always had his characters tie a knot in it, and I thought that one over.
It was slimy, I was POSITIVE there was more on it than just lube, and I was sure the stuff would ooze out all over if I tried, so I just walked it to the plastic bag hanging on my door knob and dropped it in. Handling things, getting off and having it all over my hands and belly was one thing, but for some reason having it spill out while I tried knotting it up struck me as kind of gross. Good thing Monday was trash day. I had to remember to toss that shopping bag tomorrow, before my parents got home. I know my mother has never searched my trash. I KNOW this. But I would still make sure. I slid back onto the bed, and this big arm dragged me down onto this solid chest.
"That was great babe. You lasted a lot longer this time." He kissed my chin.
"Sorry about the first couple times. I know it was kind of quick, and I could tell you were disappointed."
He shook his head and smiled, looking me in the eyes. "It's all new for you baby, I know. I didn't last long my first few times either. Besides, the sex is just a nice extra. The really good stuff is like right now, using you for my blankie," and he kissed the top of my head.
In the back of my mind I wondered why he couldn't have said that last night, but decided I didn't care. My air conditioner droned on in the hot August night, and Jamie just held me as he drifted off to sleep, still using me for his blanket. I did reach down and pull one up over both of us, and drifted off quietly, listening to the beating of his heart.
* * * * *
Light. Lots of light. Too much light. The shades were open for some reason, and it hurt.
Flomp! On the bed. I focused. Jamie was sitting there cross-legged, both hands behind his back. "Kiss?"
"You forgot yesterday?"
"Nuh-uh." He presented me with a bottle of Scope in one hand, and a bowl in the other. "Tastes better than the other stuff."
I took a mouthful, swished it around, and spat into the bowl. Then he gave me a morning kiss. Nice way to start the day. We were learning. I tugged on a pair of shorts and slid into flip-flops. It was already too hot when we opened the hall door, so the tee shirt in my hand got tossed back on the bed. Jamie wasn't wearing much more. No, less really. His shorts were really boxers. He had a full bag of clothes in his car, but changing INTO clothes was the last thing on our minds when he followed me home. I'd fish them out later. He looked great in the 501 jeans he'd been wearing the day before but it was just too hot. No, too humid. Summer in the northern climes. Go figure. 85-F at nine in the morning.
Jamie went straight for the cereal. No Count Chocula. He grabbed the Froot Loops and handed me the Wheaties. "Hey! Some boyfriend!"
He shrugged and emptied the last Loop into his bowl. "I'm the guest."
Wheaties. The cardboard of champions. Could have been worse. My sister's old box of Shredded Wheat was still there. "I get the last strawberry pop tart then. You get blueberry."
Jamie didn't eat, he inhaled. He did the last two blueberry tarts after and he was eyeing the empty box. I slipped him my remaining strawberry tart half but wrapped a protective arm around my cereal bowl and turned slightly to the left, keeping a wary eye on him. He eyed the bowl. I squinted my eyes and edged towards the block of knives at the end of the table. He sighed. "Set up the a/v center next?"
"You can do more than eat?"
"I thought I proved that the last two nights."
It took awhile, but we got everything working. My parents would be happy. Well, my mom would be. What took us an hour or so would take my dad most of the night. AT&T cable box, two Toshiba VCR's, Pioneer CD, Phillips mp3 player, Sony tape deck, Panasonic multi disc DVD, and a 36" JVC pumped through a Yamaha receiver. Dad liked his toys. He never used anything but the cable box and the TV but he liked his toys. Jamie loved it. He plugged in a DVD of "Independence Day" and advanced it, cranking up the volume when the White House blew. The speakers came close, too. Four JBLs and a bass box vibrated beautifully.
"I love this!"
"I noticed. Hey I never asked. Are you working today?"
"Nope. Karen said you were off so I traded some hours with Kenny Coco. He likes the Sunday overtime rate."
"So... what did you have in mind?"
He turned the volume down and patted the seat next to him. I slid in. "First, we are going to DeMoulas in Plaistow and you can restock for your parents. And I want TWO boxes of Chocula for next time. Then, we have a nice lunch, not Wendy's. Then I got a big favor to ask."
He made a dumb face, nose wrinkled and eyes squinty. "Have Sunday dinner at my parents?"
That was interesting. "You guys do a Sunday Dinner?"
"Yup. Even my brother comes in for it. We do it once a month, we all get together because most of the time everyone's scattered doing something else. It means a lot to my mom and dad."
Meet the parents. That should be interesting. "It won't be till seven, we always do it late, so we can still have a nice lunch. Would you do that? For me?"
I will admit to being scared, everything had gone so fast. One day I'm a loner, desperate for contact and... I almost said love, but that wasn't true. All I wanted was sex on Friday. It's all I wanted all summer in truth. It looked like I had found a lot more since then, but it was still early for the 'L' word. Now Jamie was springing his family on me. It was a big move for me, a frightening one. But he gave me those big eyes of his and that lost face. He had my hand buried in both his great paws. `Sit boy, sit!' ran through the back of my mind. `Roll over! Beg!'
What a bitch I was. "No problem."
That shoulder squeeze that was gonna give me bruises one day, followed by the life-threatening hug. "Thanks babe. You'll love 'em. One word of warning though --- my little sister has a crush on you. She was a freshman last year and always said you were cute. She's right, too."
* * * * *
Without a word about it, we jumped into Jamie's car ("Meet Miss Vicky") and headed for the grocery store. The Water Street DeMoulas was closer, but it was poorly stocked compared to the big store in Plaistow. This one had a great location though, looking over the Merrimack River and Haverhill's most unique attraction: Friends' Landing, the largest gay bar north of metro Boston. At night the store lot was the over flow lot for the club. It was always packed on weekends. I had driven by often enough to know that. But it was better than three years before I would have the chance to see what it looked like from the inside. My birthday was coming up in a week, I'd be turning eighteen, and I read that some clubs had "Eighteen Plus" nights but I had no idea if the Landing had one of those. I'd have to look into it.
"When do you turn eighteen, Jamie?"
I'd keep it in mind; November wasn't that far off. Then I felt Jamie's hand on my thigh, and he was rubbing it. I picked it up and put it aside. "Not now," I said. He shrugged and put his hand back on the wheel. We got lucky because it was still before 11, and even though the New Hampshire stores opened at 10, most of their customers were from Massachusetts and they had it tattooed in their minds that nothing opened before noon. We hit the market, and Jamie tore through the aisles, calling off things we might need. I just said yes or no. He noticed bargains and better buys and I would check stuff on the list my mother left. He improvised some and I noticed extra bags of chips and such. No meats, we got those at the wholesale club, along with the frozen foods. Nothing would have the chance to spoil in the car, so when groceries were done we decided to go for lunch.
"Dammit. I forgot the milk. And it'll spoil if we stop."
"Didn't buy it. We can stop at Store 24 or something on the way back. It's the same price anyhow."
Problem solved, we pulled into the lot of Pub Benny's on 125. Both Holy Angels and the Assemblies of God had just ended services so there was a wait and the lobby was crowded, but Jamie and I just calmed it out and I enjoyed the crowded circumstances that forced us to stand real close. He was directly behind me, and I had to almost lean back into him, so I squirmed and I smiled knowing very well that I had his full attention. The difference in our heights had it plastered to the small of my back. That's when the hostess came and led us to our table. I know I saw some open jaws and heard a few giggles as we walked through the crowded room. When we got to a booth, I turned and saw why. I swear 501 jeans exaggerate everything. And if things happen to be .... large... and at attention.... and in boxers rather than briefs... They certainly don't leave much to the imagination, anyway. Jamie was red faced and slid into the chair as quick as he could. Our waiter showed, and he was very attentive to Jamie.
"I know you rubbed back into me on purpose," he said.
"Honest to God, it was the kids in front of me. They kept edging me back."
"That's two since yesterday. I owe you now."
"Yeah. Letting me hang like that in the parking lot, cyber king. LoadBoi owes CruisyStud big time now."
Our waiter was back and he heard those names, and looked back and forth at us with a faint smile playing out on the edge of his lips. He was close to our age, and almost as big as Jamie, just a little shorter and a bit lighter. Not bad I thought. Blond hair, but hazel eyes. Not the washed out kind like mine. He was a little familiar looking, like maybe someone else who had gone to Haverhill High. His nametag just said, "Jimmy", which was no help at all. He took our order, smiled at us both and went off, returning with my ginger ale and Jamie's club soda with lime twist. He hated sodas; said he didn't need the sugar. I was tempted to mention Count Chocula, but decided to save it. Jamie had fish and a salad, making up some for the empty calorie feast he had that morning. I just settled for a cheddar burger and twisty, seasoned fries. We kept it light, just talking about work and crosschecking our schedules for the week. There wouldn't be any more nights together for awhile since my parents were coming back, but they traveled a lot for long weekends and we would have times like the last two nights soon. Meanwhile, our schedules matched pretty good, and keeping our voices low we both understood that there were three mornings we could get together for a little activity. Evenings were ok for us just to hang out and we could do plenty of things together, but in the mornings my house would be empty. My dad was gone by seven-thirty and mom was out by eight.
I giggled. "Hell, I could even risk sneaking you in for the night. They hit the sheets by 11 at the latest, and I'm just getting home about then."
"Your damn box spring makes too much noise."
"It's not the box spring it's what you do to it."
"All set guys?" It was Jimmy. "Anything for desert?" We just asked for the check, which he placed face down, looked at us both and winked. Then he was gone.
"My treat. I asked you, remember?" He picked the slip up and made a face, then passed it to me. We were being charged for two small cokes, a tuna sandwich and a small salad. There was a note with the check too, and Jamie passed that to me with a huge smile.
'Stroker_Jimmy has had some great sessions with Load and Cruisy at Gay.Com. Always sit at one of my tables!' We chuckled all the way back to the car.
It was a fairly quiet drive back to my house. Haverhill is a city, but a small one, and not much goes on there even if it is considered part of the Greater Boston Metro area; all that really meant was the distance was commutable. On a sultry August afternoon, most people went away if they could, but the ocean side had no interest for me, I'd seen enough of it that summer. The Salem Mall was a good alternative since it was air conditioned, but I'd also had enough of walking around trying to look cute and available there, or playing games at the Hit Zone. I told Jamie about them, including the story of the Salisbury cop. That interested him some. I never did see the guy after that so there wasn't much to tell. He in turn told me how since he had broken up with Jeremy (the U-Mass student) the previous spring, and sometimes went into Boston to hang out in the South End (please, NOT South Boston; that's a different world) which self-consciously tried to be a mini-Castro or Christopher Street without quite pulling it off. He wasn't big on details, so I figured there was something in there that I could tease out of him later, and on the subject of Jeremy he wouldn't answer any questions at all so I left that alone. We stopped at a mini-mart a few blocks from my house and grabbed a couple of half-gallons of 2% milk.
It didn't take long to unload and pack the stuff away. The temperature was in the 90s at least, and the humidity had gotten a lot worse as the day got older so Jamie was stripped down to his boxers again once we were done running to his car; he'd forgotten to bring any shorts when he'd thrown a bag together the day before. No point in offering him a pair of mine. I didn't care about the labels but the boxers were CK's, nice little pink stripes and they had a button on the fly which really didn't help much to hide anything with Jamie. I was already in shorts, so I just shucked my shirt and Nikes and slipped into the flip-flops I liked around the house. We aimed a big fan at the couch (dad would spring for air conditioners in the bed rooms and his office, but the cost of a central system freaked him out) and settled in to watch a DVD. "Independence Day" again, Jamie said he loved that movie, but this time straight through. Full sound effects, of course. After that it was "Godzilla" which was ok with me since Matthew Broderick always turned me on. True, I liked him more in his old movies when he was still playing screen teens, but I still thought he was cute even if he must be in his thirties now. I stretched out in the corner of the couch with my legs straight-out, and Jamie eventually wound up sprawled over the couch with his head in my lap. He looked funny, since his feet were stuck out over the armrest but he said he was comfortable the way he was. I stroked his hair and his shoulders, and he nuzzled his head in my lap, which had a serious effect, and he snickered about his ear not being virgin anymore. I gave him a swat and he was good for a while.
About 4 he said he had to be going soon. Since his mother knew there was going to be some "Company", extra things would have to be done around the house. She was fussy.
"But you've still got more than two and a half hours," I was complaining.
"Yeah... but its awful hot in here... maybe I could stay like another hour... and there's a/c upstairs and all. I know you left it running." He was eyeing the stairs, then back to me with wide, innocent eyes, upper teeth biting down on his lower lip.
"No DVD player, though."
"I didn't have television in mind."
* * * * *
Jamie lived down by the river, in one of those old houses built at the beginning of the century. Well, the last century. I was still having some trouble with that, even though the purists insisted 2000 WAS still the 20th century. It was one of those old Dutch colonials with a hipped roof. It had been added to over the years, a full first floor addition and extra dormers on the sides and rear. It was well above the flood lines of the Merrimack, unlike many of the other houses in the same area. It sat well above the street, with this long concrete stairway leading to an old fashioned, roofed front porch. By the looks of things, it still had the original oak door in front with stained glass. Probably beveled too, I thought. I noticed things like that, liked the looks of older houses. My own was your standard post WWII salt box colonial, bigger than a lot of them you saw, but still rather faceless compared to what you saw in other parts of Haverhill and the older towns and cities in that part of Massachusetts. Taking Jamie's advice I turned up the street, turned into the block that was actually the rear of the houses facing the river and parked on the quiet street. No one on that stretch of Water Street used their front doors or even bothered to shovel the steps during the winter. The postal people were more than happy to deliver the four houses on that block from the rear.
I pulled up, my muffler making the noises that aging Toyotas will every few years and I saw the back door open and Jamie standing on the screened porch. He was dressed in a blue Lauren polo and a nice looking pair of dressy khaki shorts. He had sandals on his feet and I wondered where the hell he managed to buy them that size. Did Trojan have a division making Magnum Sandals? I liked the sound of that. He came to the car as I stepped out and got my shoulders in that vice grip again. It hurt and it was starting to get to me but he relaxed the grip quickly and put an arm around my shoulders and guided me into the house. Three people greeted me. Parents and a little sister, little being a relative term. Very filled out for a girl of fifteen. I had seen her, just didn't know who she was, and always thought she was older because of the way she had developed.
"I'm Phil," said his father.
"Jeanette," said his mother.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. --"
"No," he said smiling, "it's just Phil and Jeanette, Chris. You kids are grown and its time we started treating you like it." He turned to his daughter and son. "Except you two. We're still Mom and Dad."
"I'm Lauren," said the girl and gave me an embarrassing, obvious once over. "Damn," I heard her mutter under her breath.
Her mother eyed her some at that. "With me, we have to finish up in the kitchen." I knew that voice. Lauren was about to get a little lecture from Jeanette. Lauren had the same eyes as Jamie, and they told me she knew it was coming too. I looked at both parents. I could see a lot of Jeanette in Lauren, but nothing at all of Jamie in either parent.
Phil just smiled at the two of them. He seemed a little uncomfortable I thought, like he wasn't quite sure what to say despite what I took to be a normally easy way with people. I liked the guy in spite of that feeling. He wasn't put off by me, just seemed confused. I couldn't read the mother yet. To Jamie, "Your brother called and said he was going to be a little late, so we're holding dinner awhile. Traffic from the coast is always a bitch on Sundays. Why don't you show Chris around?"
"Yeah, I'll show you my room. C'mon, C."
I trotted up the stairs behind Jamie, casually looking over the nicely turned banisters and rails. The stairs turned twice. All the woodwork was in good shape, the only mar being the wall on the second landing, which soared up into the slanted roof under the eaves. It seemed to sag, bow out. "That's from when me and Paul used to kinda bounce when we came down the stairs in the morning. Pissed them both off something fierce, so we made a point of doing it. We thought it was revenge for making us go to school."
"Didn't work, huh?"
"Nah. They got back at us by making us walk there. We didn't bounce much from December to March."
We got to the top of the stairs into a small hall, then walked a narrow passage to the back--actually, the front-- of the house. It was a good-sized room, bigger than mine, dominated by a queen size bed, which Jamie of course required. The rest of the room was nice, painted a pale blue with a gray carpet. His computer sat in a hutch on the left, crowded with equipment and disc cases. A chest of drawers and a dresser were rammed together on the other side of the room. I expect one or the other had stood where the computer hutch was now. I saw a Hillies' pennant, some pictures of Jamie in his uniform, all kinds of junk and what was probably half his wardrobe kicked under his bed. Wow, he'd even cleaned for me! There were pictures on his dresser, one of this dark haired guy with blue eyes and wearing glasses. Was that you, Jeremy? I also noticed three pictures of me. One was from the yearbook, printed on computer photo stock. He must have scanned it, and that gave me a nice feeling. The other two I had never seen before.
"I snapped those with my digicam," he said sheepishly. One had me with this big smile on my face, and I knew it was from school, looked like I had been talking to someone in the hallway. The other brought my eyebrows up some. It was maybe a year old judging from my hairstyle. It was set in the library at Bradford College, where I went sometimes when I had to do some research for a school project. Bradford was closed now, having gone into bankruptcy the year before. But one of our neighbors had worked there as a librarian, and she fixed it with the staff for me to go there if I was researching. Its resources were better than anything Haverhill had to offer in the city library. I just couldn't check books out although Mrs. LaPointe would take care of anything I might want on her own card if I asked. "I just saw you there a few times, and snapped it from the stacks. Camera doesn't need much light. I brought the light up with some photo effects software I have and did some enhancements." He must have seen the look on my face, looked worried for a second, and smiled. "Hey, I told ya, I've had a crush on you for awhile."
"What the hell were you doing at Bradford College?"
"My Dad works there. He used to be in the English Department before they shut down. He asked me to snap some pics after they announced the school was going to close, and I saw you there and.... that's it. It was a good picture of you, babe. So I printed it up."
I walked up to him and slipped my arms around his waist. He hung his arms over my shoulders, looked me in the eye, then leaned forward and kissed me on the lips.
Lauren kicked the door open. "Dinner's almost done. Mom says for you and your boyfriend to make it a quick one and get down there," then she was gone.
I jumped back from Jamie. "What the FUCK! Why didn't you lock the door?"
His face wrinkled, and he sort of spoke with his face twisted up to the left. "Um, locks don't really work in this house. Only reason the door stays shut is because the wood's swelled. In the winter I have to put a rock in front to keep it closed."
"OK, now the rest of it."
"Yeah, as in Lauren calling me your boyfriend?"
"Well, you are."
"And she knows this how? You told your sister I'm your boyfriend?"
"She's just guessing, plus she's jealous. I told you she had a thing for you. Chris, she knows I'm gay. The whole family does, I came out two years ago. And this being family night and all, they assume that we're together, because the idea is no outsiders unless they're someone special for us right now. Not a fiancé or anything, but a special, well, for me a boyfriend."
It rattled me. I was totally taken off guard by this. Yeah, I knew someday that I would be taking the Out step, but I was the one who wanted to choose the time, not someone else.
"Baby, I am so sorry," he said taking my hand. "I wanted them to meet you, and I wanted you to be relaxed so I figured I'd just tell you after when you got to know them. They are not going to grill you or talk about you to anyone else. This is just my family, C. They'll let you be part of it if you want, but they are not gonna run around blabbing your private business. They don't even discuss me outside the home because they figure I'm the only one who should have the say in telling anyone else who I am. They'll look at you the same way - it's our business. Tonight is just about meeting. They know you're important to me is all. No one is gonna ask what we do in private, or even if we have. Yeah, part of it is they don't WANT to know, any more than I want to hear about what they do in private. And I'm gonna have a few words with that little bitch later. A closed door around here means off limits unless you knock."
He looked deep into my eyes, and held my hands in his gently. I wasn't crazy about any of this, but I'd go along. I was still angry that he hadn't given me any warning.
His mother called up the stairwell, and it echoed beautifully. I jumped. "Paul and I used to call that the Voice of God the way this house echoes. We better get down."
I tried to relax, to recompose myself. When I saw Phil and Jeanette in the dining room, I understood better why they seemed a little nervous. Still, they had had the advantage on me. I wanted to make the best of things so I did some extra sucking up and gave Jeanette a hand bringing in some dishes. She thanked me.
Early training made me forget that it was Jeanette. "No problem, Mrs. Levesque."
She stepped back and gave me an odd look. "Mrs. Levesque? Didn't that bonehead say something? No, he never does. I haven't been Mrs. Levesque for over fourteen years, right after Lauren was born. Scotty and I are divorced."
"Hey Paul! Meet Chris."
"I'm Mrs. Cayman. Phil is really Jamie's step dad."
I turned and looked into the face of Officer Paul Cayman, of the Salisbury Police Department.
"Paul is Phil's son from his first marriage."
© 2001-2002 by Keith Mystery.
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