The Boyfriend

by Keith Mystery
edited by Rob

Once again, you must be over eighteen to read this, so if you're not... well shame on you. Hope you don't get caught. Don't blame me if you do. I hold the copyright on this story. It may not be posted anywhere without my permission. It may not be distributed for charge. It may not be altered without permission. Everyone else is welcome to read it, copy it or download it for their own enjoyment and for FREE distribution.

This story contains information about gay characters and gay sexual situations between teenaged men. If that bothers you, or local laws prohibit you from reading it, then you best move on. Everyone else is welcome to sit back and enjoy.

I love email, so write me at

Chapter 7            "The Big Chill"

"The whole thing is crap," I said, pushing back from the computer and minimizing the screen. "It's just a big joke. I don't know why I'm even bothering to take this thing."

Dave was lying on my bed, eyes closed and hands tucked behind his head with a big smile on his face. "You scored that high, huh?"

I was indignant. "No, really, Dave. All these questions are just so subjective. I mean, it's almost like any honest answer and they hang you for it."

His voice had an infuriating smugness to it. "Spoken like a true six -- or better."

I gave him a dirty look. I scored seven the first time, edited things a bit but still came out a six. Screw you, Whoever heard of a gay web site that gauged your feminine quotient as opposed to your masculine side? The whole thing was ridiculous. A special page for gay men? I wanted to shoot the mother who came up with it. "So how did you do?"

"Now, that would be telling," he said with more than a little sneer in his voice. Then he held up four fingers. I answered him with one and rechecked the chart.

"Ok, but you're still under suspicion. Some people got you figured out."

He laughed. "It's still better than having everyone take one look and go 'uh-huh - yup there's one.' So what was it? I left my e-mail addy on it so don't lie. The results are already on the way to my Hotmail."

"I am not a flamethrower, thank you."

"Maybe not a flamethrower, but at least a Bic. Wynona could tag a light off your back for her Marlboro. Now tell me the results so I don't have to call back later and harass ya - and I mean the results to the first test you took, not the one you doctored up."

Wasn't much use in dodging the bullet here. "Ok, I made some mistakes the first time, and that's for real. I just corrected the mistakes is all. It says I'm a six."

David didn't move except to nod. "I knew you'd come off as the Human Torch."

I whipped a stuffed bear Jamie had bought me and it bounced off David's head, landing on my night table and knocking over my incense burner. The bastard wouldn't even give me the satisfaction of acknowledging the hit. "Did I sense something swish by?"

For an answer I jumped the smug mother on the bed and started tickling him. He went into spasms and shouted "NNNNNNNnnnnnnoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!" and I knew I'd get my revenge. I kept at it till he rolled off the bed desperate to get away from me, then he tried to scoot under it. I grabbed him again when he got stuck halfway.

"I give! I give!"

"And the test is rigged, right?"

"Yeah - please - stop! Yeah, the test is all BS, I swear! It don't mean anything! Just don't tickle me!"

A confession extracted by torture wouldn't hold up in a court, but it was good enough for me. I pulled David out from under the bed, and we sat on the floor. David was trying hard to catch his breath, and still occasionally broke out in a fit of giggles, which got worse if I made a quick move and he'd curl up in a ball.

"Jesus, Chris! Please! Stop!"

"Ok, you're off the hook. I'll be good."

The two of us sat on the floor of my bedroom, waiting for David to finally calm, and then we fell into a silence and listened to the mp3s on my computer. David slung an arm over my shoulder and I leaned into his. So far, everything had been just a friendly visit with some screwing around, but we both knew we were heading for some heavy stuff. David had questions, and I knew I would answer them. Not because I had to, but just because it would feel good to have someone to talk things over with. Last night had been the wrong time to talk things over - I had been furious with Jamie, and David wasn't exactly thrilled about my dumping a drink over the head of his new 'friend', Eric. Especially since he hadn't gotten the chance to get the guy's phone number.

"Sorry about Eric," I offered.

"Pfffttt Eric. I know you were hurting." He rubbed my shoulder with his long fingers, kneading the muscles. "I wasn't exactly sympathetic in the car, either. I can't say I know how you feel, but I have an idea of it, Chris. It's one thing to think about another guy and maybe even flirt and take his number. It's another to be meeting him on the side. Now, ummmmm... well." He looked over at me. "Have you seen Jamie yet?"

I grimaced. "Yup. He was over here at 9AM, lookin' all tired out and bleary but ready to go. Said he went right home last night, did some homework, then stayed up late watching some old movie on the tube."

David nodded. "That's reasonable."

I sighed. "It would be, except for one thing. I drove by there after you dropped me off. His car wasn't there."

David pursed his lips and shook his head. "Why the hell did you have to do that?"

"Because I did. I had to know." I didn't want to know, though. David had dumped me off and driven into the night. We hadn't spoken a word to each other since he had called me a hypocrite - which I have to admit was the truth, even if I didn't like it. We had gotten tossed out of The Front Runner by the Dragon Lady and a waiter almost before my bottle had drained over Eric's head and told not to come back before it was even 11:45. We'd made it back to Haverhill in a little over forty minutes. I had gone up to my room and changed out of my damp clothes, thrown on sweats and clicked on the tube. I played surfer until a little after 1 AM and then told myself I had find out.

I'd slipped on a pair of trainers and eased down the stairs and out the door. It didn't take long to get across town to Jamie's, no traffic and most of the lights were just blinking at that hour. I parked on Water Street for a time, looking at the house sitting on the top of its hill. Jamie's room faced Water, overlooking the river. I saw the light on but that didn't mean much. I'm not sure how long I sat idling before I drove up the side street and around back to the other side of the house. I killed the lights almost as soon as I cleared the corner, and crept up to the Cayman's drive. Two cars parked, presumably Phil's and Jeanette's. No beat up rusting hulk of a Crown Victoria, though. I reasoned to myself that it was possible Jamie had a breakdown at work, but even I wasn't about to believe that. Jamie had driven that pig long enough to be able to nursemaid it through anything short of an all-out death rattle in the engine. Still, that was a possibility...

"Then I suppose you waited, right?"

I shrugged. "Not long. Maybe another ten minutes or so."

"Bullshit. You sat there until almost two-thirty." I looked at him. He wasn't fazed. "Yeah, I was there, waitin' for you to show and then to make sure you didn't do anything stupid."

I shook my head. "I never even saw your Jetta."

"I was at the far end of the block with the engine off. The only thing you had eyes for was a shit box Ford. You drove right by me staring at the Cayman house."

I hung my head, embarrassed. "Thanks," I said in a low voice. I looked into his gentle dark eyes. "Thanks for caring."

He hugged me a bit and stroked the side of my head, then leaned in and gave me a small kiss on the cheek. I looked at him startled for a second. No other guy had ever kissed me before besides Jamie, even a friendly kiss like that one. I was nervous for a second but I realized that it was just David trying to offer comfort to a friend who needed it.

"There's more, now tell me. Jamie came over at nine... and I assume he was ready for action."

Nodding my head I closed my eyes. I had given Jamie a key awhile ago so he could 'slip in' quietly on days when my parents weren't around, and he'd come up to my room and found me laying face down on my mattress, pretending to be asleep. Oh, I had slept all right, a little anyway, but it was a restless sleep and I woke up every few minutes, or at least it seemed that way. I listened to my parents trying to move around quietly, giving me a break. I didn't stay out late often so that wasn't an issue, and I seldom slept in late either so they did their best to cut me slack. I hadn't fallen back to sleep until I heard my mother ease the door shut a few minutes behind my father. Then my eyes opened again when I heard the soft creak of the stairs, and knew it had to be Jamie. I just lay there with my eyes shut, trying to control my breathing.

I heard that sound cloth makes when you jerk it off and over your head. I snuck a look, and sure enough Jamie had his naked back to me as he bent down to pull his jeans down his legs. As usual he had skipped the underwear; he liked to be able to 'clear for action' quickly when he knew we weren't going to be interrupted. Plus, as he put it so nicely, he liked to free ball it whenever he could. I checked out his back.

Uh-huh. Two little discolorations just under the right shoulder blade. I sighed just as he let his pants drop and he turned, seeing me with my head propped up on my elbow.

"Hey, baby," he said, and leaned in to give me a kiss on the cheek. I pulled my head back. He went to tweak my nose - something I usually allowed - but I slapped his hand away. Hard. He stood there rubbing it, brows furrowed. "Jesus, who pissed in your Cheerios?"

"Rough night," I mumbled.

He reached out and rubbed his hand against the side of my chest, easing himself onto the bed in a sitting position. I lay there, feeling the light touch of his hand and looked up into his face. God, those clear blue eyes... you could swim in them. His lips were parted slightly, showing his even teeth. "So how was the bar?"

I shrugged, and scooted to the side, giving him room to slide in next to me. How can I describe how I felt just then? I loved him, and I hated him. I wanted to grab him and hold him as close as I could... and another part of me wanted to dig into the closet for that baseball bat my dad bought for my eighth birthday and club him with it. At least it would get used for once.

"It was dark and smoky and loud. We saw a lot of guys and spoke to a drag queen." Oh, and I met the guy you're doing on the side.

Jamie nodded his head like that all made sense. "So, you didn't have a good time?"

"David had a great time. Some guy dumped a drink on me." Would he bite? Did Kenny told him he'd run into some kid from Haverhill named Chris with a beak of a nose and a skinny ass? Would my blond Rock-Head put it all together? "What did you do?"

He slipped under the covers and tried to draw me close to him but I held him at arms length. He shrugged, but he still ran a finger along my thigh after he drew the covers over us. "Got off work, studied some. Watched a couple videos way too late, then got up earlier'n I should but it's worth it just to be here with you like this."

You lying bastard, I thought. "Miss Vicky give you any problems?"

He shrugged. "The car's okay. Just a matter of time 'till I gotta junk it though, I'm just hoping for the winter. Jesus, imagine if you have to shoe-horn me into that little Toyota of yours?"

I looked at him, so innocent and easygoing and there was a fire in me. I grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head to me and mashed my lips down on his. I forced him onto his back, kicking his legs wide and trying to pin his arms down. He looked up at me, shocked... all the times we made love, Jamie had taken the lead even if it was me on top. It was nothing we ever talked about or argued about, it was just the way it was and I went with it because I liked it like that. This time I was the aggressive one, and I wasn't being too nice about it, either. He tried to move a little to the left and I slapped his thigh and jerked his legs up and slung them over my shoulders.

I grabbed a rubber and pushed it on, splattered some lube and that was foreplay.

I rammed him, plowed him, banged him, ripped him an extra one, whatever you want to call it. I used sex as a weapon, gripping his legs just behind the knees and holding him up high and helpless, half standing and using my advantage to lunge as hard and deep into him over and over. I wanted him to fight me, to howl, yell for me to stop, beg me for mercy...

...but he didn't.

His eyes were clenched shut, occasionally opening to small slits, and sweat covered his face. I could hear this high-pitched strangled sound coming from the back of his throat but that was it. But I could feel his fingers gripping my thighs and the cheeks of my butt as I power lunged into him, my own sweat running heavy down my face, beading at the end of my nose and chin, then dripping onto him. He clenched his sphincter tight around me, and I tried a swizzle-stick method and he made more of those high pitched sounds, mixed sometimes with a gurgle, and I could feel him pulling me into him harder and harder as I quickened my strokes and increased the force behind them as much as I could.

You kinky son of a bitch, I thought. You're actually getting into this.

Then he did the unthinkable, the thing you read about in every net stroke story, the one thing I always thought was pure bull. I don't know about you, but as much as I like being on the receiving end of things, I always lose my wood. Not my cheating little stud-bunny - no, not at all. He was dumping a load all over his belly, and it was running down and covering his chest. His eyes flew open and locked on mine and he was grinning like a fool, and forcing me to pump him harder. Yeah, I know how to take my revenge...

I pulled out, rolled to the side and kicked him off the bed and heard a satisfying thud as he hit the floor.


"Shut up," I said in a growl, and rolled off to the side. Jamie had righted himself and was sitting up. Using my foot I pushed him back against the bed. His face was turning red, and I saw a mean look in his eyes.

"What are - ?"

"I said shut up," I repeated, and stood over him, one foot on either side of his body. I tore off the rubber and tossed it down on him. My cock was still hard and inches from his face. I leaned forward and started slapping his face with it... teasing him with it. His eyes began to follow me hypnotically. Well, his eyes followed part of me, anyway. His mouth was open, and I saw his tongue snake out and try to play tag while I teased. Then I just grabbed him by the hair and forced myself into his mouth and just plain rutted. No dirty talk, no teasing, no taunting, none of that crap. I just rutted. I can't scare you one way, I will another, I told myself. I pounded his face with my pelvis as I held his head firm. I could feel my low riders slapping happily against his chin.

Then he did it again. He grabbed my ass cheeks and started pulling me deeper, faster and harder into his face. Jaime loves giving head. Today was no exception. I really do think in another life his name must have been Hoover or Eureka. No matter how hard I tried to make him work for it or at least choke a little for breath, he provided more suction than a central house cleaning unit. And hey, I may not be as big as him down there but I am not small. Couldn't he at least give me the occasional courtesy gag?

His nose was buried in my pubic hair and I could feel that final tightening in my balls and I knew there was just one last hope... one more thing I could do to cheat him out of his pleasure. I jerked his head backwards by the hair and stepped back until I felt myself free in the cool air -


- and splattered it in his face. A lot of it. If there were contests for this, I could have won a gold medal. 'Biggest load in a hissy fit'. Then I just let his hair go and pushed him to the side, stepping over him and crawling back onto the bed. I lay there, listening to his breathing. I heard a slapping sound, and any guy who's hit puberty knows what that sound means, so I won't have to tell you. Another throaty gurgle, followed by a silence. Finally I heard him rise, and the sound of unsteady foot steps across the room.

Shower, I thought to myself. Then he'll just clear out.

Yup, I heard the water run for a few, then stop. I heard him at the door and his heavy footsteps. Now he'll dress and just leave. Careful though, he might take a swing. Well, let him. I don't care. I've had some revenge anyway.

I felt his weight on the side of the bed. He was sliding in beside me, and I could feel the dampness of his skin, then his lips brushing my neck.

The dick head was breathless.

"Baby, that was awesome. I dunno what got into you today, but I hope it gets into you again. That was the best, Chris. I can't remember when it's been better."

I felt a push on my shoulder. "Earth to Chris! You gonna answer my question?"

I felt dazed and I blinked, bringing Dave back into focus.


"I asked what you said to Jamie." David made a big show of looking down at my crotch, then back up to my face with a knowing look. "Never mind. The other head might not talk, but he's pretty good at giving signals. You slut. You banged him, didn't you?"

Betrayed by my favorite toy, I readjusted my pants. God has a mean sense of humor. He gives you a good-sized one, then gives it a will of its own to betray you. Must be a cruel joke for the whole Garden of Eden thing. I somehow never thought making a dick look a lot like a snake was divine coincidence. Then I wondered what my third grade nun at All Saints Parochial would have said to that. I mean, after the smelling salts. That would have gotten me bounced from school for sure. Maybe even excommunicated.

I shrugged. "A guy has needs."

"Humph. So what you're saying is, you used Jamie?"

I eyed him. "Like you got a problem using Jeremy for a little recreation? And last night when you brought Eric back you were only interested in a little conversation?"

David wasn't taking any of my bull. "You're right. When I met Eric, I was only thinking of one thing, and so was he - just like Evan was only thinking of one thing, but at least Eric had some class about it. And if I use Jeremy, it's because he wants to use me, there's no bullshitting about it. No one was making a big case for anything to be any more than it was. You were pissed at Jamie, so you used him. He thinks it's because you love him, but the truth was you were just plain pissed. That's where the lying and using stuff comes in. It wasn't a clear field."

I was disgusted and got up and clicked the Music icon on my computer, randomly triggering one of my play lists. Winamp came up on the screen again, and my four Creative Surround speakers filled my bedroom with music. "Unless I'm mistaken, isn't one of your jobs as a friend to offer a little support? I mean, even Buffy has Willow at least."

Dave widened his eyes and let his jaw hang slack and put on his Valley Girl accent rocking his head back and forth. "Gee Buffy, it really sucks, Angel is out doin' the Banshees and other Ghoulies in LA while you defend the world from the beasties. Golly-gee-whiz, let's go see Giles - maybe he can cast a spell or something! Who-hoo!"

I glared at him. "I suppose a little sympathy is out of the question."

He jerked his head at the dictionary on my bookshelf. "You'll find it right there in your Merriam-Webster's. Sympathy. It's somewhere between shit and syphilis."

I ignored that. "So, what are you saying, then? I suppose it was all right for him to go behind my back and meet with Kenny last night?"

"You don't know that," he said, clenching his jaw.

"I saw the marks! Just like Eric told us. Two little blood marks under the shoulder blade. Hickeys, Dave. Kinda hard to twist your head around and give yourself one of those, never mind two. Am I supposed to be blind as well as dumb?"

"Then why the hell didn't you just say something? Why make a game out of it? Why not just tell him to screw? It's not like he's the only guy out there, Chris! You're not alone."

I sat there, working my mouth but nothing came out. There was a reason I didn't just say something this morning. There had to be a reason. Then something came up on the mp3 file that was playing in Winamp. Tina Turner's raspy voice choked out her greatest question, the hardest question anyone has ever asked: "What's love got to do with it...what's love but a second hand emotion..."

I hung my head, and felt the hot tears well in my eyes and my body began to shake.

"I don't want to lose him."

David reached over again, and took me gently in his arms as I felt the tears roll down my face. We'd spend a good part of the afternoon like that, just quietly sitting there and holding, long after the mp3 files ran out. No more words were spoken, no more had to be.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's hard to describe the next few weeks, the things I felt, and the things I wanted to feel. Each day I'd head into school, sometimes traveling with Jamie, sometimes on my own depending on our schedules. I'd sit there and smile, nod, say all the things I was expected to say or thought I ought to be saying. I'd sit in a class with Jamie over and to my left, just behind me, just on the edge of my vision. I'd feel him watching me. If I turned, he always managed to be angled just enough so I couldn't really tell if he was watching me or not, and no one ever said anything so I have to assume no one else ever noticed. He'd look up and smile a little when he'd see me peeking, but that was all. He'd shadow me to my next class or meet me in the halls at least for classes we spent away from each other. Part of me loved that; another part of me was haunted, and when I'd see his clear blue eyes and happy smile, in the back of my mind was always the same thing, the same question, over and over.

Why can't I be enough?

I don't think there's anything harder in life than acting like everything is just perfect than when your soul is being ripped out of you.

I was a coward, so I did what a coward does - I ignored reality. I wouldn't think about it or face Jamie with it. David tried to discuss it with me privately, but I refused his help. School just wasn't the place for that kind of talk, so David tried to talk at work since I was avoiding him as much as I was avoiding Jamie. We'd huddle then I'd stalk off. Jamie would come by the store and get caught in the middle. And of course, I was treating him badly.

Karen watched us, watched me with David, and watched me with Jamie. She didn't like what she was seeing. She'd try to talk to me but I wouldn't budge. I know she tried grilling Dave, and that was the first time she ran into one of his stone walls. David didn't gossip. David didn't break confidence. On the other hand, Karen wasn't the type to take no for an answer. Frustrated, she tried calling a bluff and pulled us into the break room. She sat us down at a table, and sat opposite, hands neatly folded, very prim.

"Something's been going on since I sent you two off to that club in Manchester, and I don't think it's very healthy, either. I am going to ask you one question, and I require and honest answer." She leaned forward, looking me directly in the eyes. "Are you two sleeping together?"

I was shocked, tried to mouth a protest as she stood there glaring at us with her hands on her hips. I was ready to spill my guts, but David never blinked. He placed a hand on my arm to quiet me.

His eyes became slits and his voice took a cool edge. "You - require an answer?" He nodded his head, then leaned his chin down onto his other propped up hand, never taking his eyes off her. "Well here's an answer, and it's the only one you're entitled to."

Karen peered at him.

"It's none of your goddamn business," he said quietly. "Bring it up again and I'll file a complaint with Prendegast for harassment - you're my boss, not my priest. And I don't take that crap from him, either." He turned to me. "C'mon, we have work to do."

"I'm not done with you two, yet!" she sputtered.

David had me by the hand and was dragging me to the door where he paused before pulling me through it. "Yes, you are. Push it and you'll find out just how much more done you can be," and let the door swing shut.

I was completely knocked out, and stood there with my mouth flapping for a few minutes before I could spit something out. "Why are you being like that? Karen's our friend. She means well."

David just shook his head, fixing me with those dark eyes of his. "Chris, there's a story about the road to hell and what it's made of. Karen just doesn't need to know about this unless we - no, scratch that - unless you decide to tell her. Not get bullied or shamed into it, but decide to tell her. And bein' honest here, I wouldn't let her know until you make up your mind what you're going to do. Karen's a great boss, and a lot of fun most times, but I gotta wonder about taking advice about my love life from an attractive, smart, thirty year old woman who doesn't even have the occasional date and spends way to much time involving herself in the love lives of three teenage gay boys. This is for you to figure out."

I was being stubborn and feeling sorry for myself, determined to play the martyr. "It's not like you're big with the advice," I said sarcastically. "Maybe she could help."

David slammed a book down on the counter. His face was flushed but his voice was low and controlled and correct as he looked me in the eye. "You want my advice? Forget what you know, or think you know. Wanna know why? Because Jamie Levesque, for some real dumb reason, seems to think the world begins and ends with you. He fuckin' follows you everywhere, puts up with your bullshit when you got a hair across your ass - which is most of the time lately - and the only thing he ever asks is if you want to spit on him some more. See, he and I have something in common - for some reason, we both give a damn about you. He just gives a damn in a much bigger way. I just wish I had someone give that much of a damn about me. Now, stop your whining and complaining. Your boyfriend slipped it to some other guy. But guess what, Chris? It was you he came back to, and keeps on coming back to."

"So that's your big advice? Pretend nothing happened?"


"It's not good enough!"

"Then don't ask me for advice when you know goddamn well you won't take it unless it's what you want to hear!"

Suddenly I was aware of the customers around us who had caught just enough of what we were saying to be interested. David used the silence between us to head out to the sales floor and get busy with as many people as he could. Karen came out of the back room with a black cloud over her head and glowered at the two of us. Great, I thought. No one's talking to anyone anymore.

The hostility in the workplace lasted for days. It was the subtle kind of hostility that takes place when people have to function in proximity even when they are furious with one another. Not one extra word was spoken. What words needed to be said were edged with an icy distance. At school, David continued to sit next to me in classes, homeroom and lunch. He chatted with everyone except me, the same old Dave. I caught myself more than once looking daggers at him wondering if anyone else knew what a selfish, unreasonable bastard he was - or just how much of an unfortunate victim I was.

On the other hand, I was so mad at David I forgot to treat Jamie like a dog, and even though he was grateful, it didn't keep him from shaking his head when he'd see the two of us. Jamie had no clue. One time he was standing there shaking his head, looking at me. "You know, if I didn't know what was already down there, I'd check what you got in your shorts."

I blinked, not getting it. "Check for what?"

"To make sure you're really a guy, 'cuz you sure as hell sound like a woman. Christ, it might be easier sometimes if I just hooked up with one."

Why not, I thought. You're hooking up with everything else.

The troubles with Dave didn't last too long. He came up to me in the hall at the end of the day the next Friday and handed me a pair of scissors, a big smart ass smirk on his face.

I just stared at them. "What're these for?"

He never missed a beat. "For that hair you got across your ass. Snip it, and we can go back to normal."

I snickered in spite of myself. Jamie came up to us in the hallway just then and I saw the look of relief when he saw us laughing together. I won't say we were buddy-buddy again, but at least we were talking, and that was a start.

We were both scheduled to work Friday night and I saw David keeping a careful eye on an angry Karen who still hadn't said much more to us than she absolutely had to for the last few days. David sighed at one point and grumbled about how he'd have to make the first move again. He eyed me when he said, "Sometimes you have to let the girl think you're willing to make the first move." I didn't miss the dig, and chalked up a point for him. "But I am not letting her completely off the hook."

At the end of the shift that night, after we'd both punched out, David turned to Karen as we were leaving. "Let us know when you're ready to apologize, and we'll see what we can manage. And by the way, the answer was always 'no'."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Close Friday night, open Saturday morning. It meant you had Saturday night off. Sure, you had to work on Sunday, but in Massachusetts that's time-and-a-half by law, and it was only 11:00AM to 6:00PM. But this was a special Saturday. Halloween was the following week, and that weekend there was a lot of stuff to do, and it didn't make any difference if you were gay or straight, you could have some fun and deck yourself out at the same time. Weeks ago Jamie and I had decided to hit the festivals going on over in Salem. No, not Salem, N.H. the land of strip malls and discount retail, but THE Salem, the one in Massachusetts. For some perverse reason, Salem celebrated something most cities would probably try to hide from for shame.

Doesn't Salem, Massachusetts ring any bells? How about the Salem Witch Trials? Innocent people tried and convicted for sorcery in the heart of a colony founded by religious zealots who fled England in the hope of escaping religious persecution... only to turn around in the New Jerusalem and set about persecuting one another. That's how Connecticut and Rhode Island came about - dissenters who couldn't take the pious crap of the Massachusetts Bay founding fathers and set out wandering on their own, leaving it to their deeply religious brethren in the North to steal land by giving trinkets to the native tribesmen, along with the blankets and personal items of small pox victims. And when they got the natives pushed back far enough, they looked for ways to cheat one another out of their land.

Thus were born the Salem witch trials.

Thanks to some hysterical girls claiming visions from both God and the Devil, great fortunes were broken and made, and the power of the New Jerusalem took a subtle shift. Oh, and did you know that if you were condemned as a witch, your property was confiscated and sold at public auction, usually for a pittance of its worth? And let us not forget torture. To nobly die while being Questioned was more than just nobility; it was the preservation of your estate for your children, who would be driven off your land if you were found guilty. One of the more subtle ways to question a witch was to lay a board across their bodies, and stack stones on it until - well, you either confessed to witchery and were publicly hanged later or you remained mute until the weight of the stones crushed your chest. That way, so the reasoning went, you either flushed out an evil witch who deserved God's fury, or you helped an innocent find salvation in the arms of the Lord.

You have to hand it to the religious right of almost any age; give 'em a Biblical passage and they can justify almost any kind of inhuman outrage, all in the service of God. "Suffer thou not a wizard to live..." or "For one man to lie with another is an abomination..." They've had field days with both of these. True, they don't stone or hang people any more, but when you read a paper about a fundamentalist Christian group who can attend the funeral of an AIDS victim and actually celebrate a painful death and justify that inhumanity as the execution of God's Will says something about us and our institutions. Funny, when they quote that passage from Leviticus, they never mention some of the other Abominations to God... like eating shell-fish or pork. Imagine that. Popping a sausage in my mouth can get me to hell for two different reasons.

As I said, you'd think Salem would try to hide this shameful chapter, but they don't. In the spirit of the American Ethic, they embrace the horrors of another age and do what Americans do best; they make money on it. "E Pluribus Unum" or "There's a buck to be made here", it's all the same.

Me? I just like Halloween, and always have. Maybe I can't race through the streets anymore hustling candy, but I can dress up and act like a fool and have fun. I love Halloween, and even though I didn't much like the facts behind the Salem festival I loved the party they threw and I'd been looking forward to it for weeks, even with all the crap about Jamie. He and I had planned for this back in September, and when Dave popped up as part of the brotherhood we included him and anyone he might be seeing. Well, unless it was Jeremy. That was understood.

Costumes, though, were something else. If you don't dress for it, there's really no point for Halloween and I had been giving it a lot of thought. Jamie was being very closed mouthed about what he was going to do, but Dave and I had been huddled up and plotted together. We hit some of the party shops but didn't see anything new or interesting. David suggested making something but we hit a brick wall; neither of us could sew, and we both knew asking our mothers for help in this area was never going to work. My mother told me early that if anything I bought needed alterations, I better make arrangements where I bought them. Dave's wasn't much better. I hinted at his grandmother but David said that would be cool... as long as we didn't mind driving to New York. New York sounded pretty good but we both knew that wasn't going to work. Finally we found this costume shop that had taken over the old Woolworth's building in the old downtown. The place looked like it would be going belly-up pretty soon, but we figured they might be good for one more season, and we were right.

We spent hours there one afternoon about a week before the street fair was scheduled, Jamie begging off because he hated shopping in general no matter what the reason. At least that was what he claimed... but I gotta stop going there, since I was still riding the fence about what to do with him. Of course, every time his shirt came off I looked for evidence, and I was becoming more and more confident when the marks faded and never returned.

I'm not sure how long we hunted looking for just the right stuff. Dave found a Marie Antoinette rig complete with the 'do' and said it would be a natural for me. I found a red dress for him and suggested a pair of pumps that we could file the heels down on, and he didn't much like that so we got away from the drag jokes real quick. He did point out one outfit that set us both off. It was the double of the gown the Dragon Lady, "Justine", had worn at The Front Runner.

"You think?" I asked.

David shrugged. "It had to come from some place, and it didn't look like the kinda thing Kmart would carry."

We kept on browsing when a small, thin man with sharp features appeared out of nowhere. "Hello, my name is Michael. May I help you?"

David was quick. "Yeah, Mike. Chris and I - - "

He shook his head. "No, it's Michael, thank you."

David blinked and reddened. "Sorry, Michael."

"No problem, it's just what I prefer."

"OK," I stepped in. "Well, David and I were looking for some costumes for a party. Something that sort of matched up."

He looked us over carefully, as we did him, and it seemed pretty much we all arrived at the same conclusion. "Going to the bash at Friends Landing? I've got the perfect thing for two young guys like you."

I blushed, wondering where my triangle was showing again. "Um, well, we're underage and we were thinking more about the street fair up in Salem."

He looked us up and down and sighed. "God, I am getting bad. Anything under thirty and over sixteen all looks the same to me these days," he laughed. "Oh well. We'll have to find something different."

Dave was curious. "How come? What did you have in mind?"

Michael smiled, reached into a clothes rack and pulled out a red devil costume that consisted of red hose, a red bikini brief and an open mesh shirt. There was also a red half-cape and a cap with a pair of horns. A small, pointed red tail protruded from the rear and stuck up like a cat's.

"You'd have looked stunning in this," he said handing it to Dave. That figured. Dave would look stunning. I expected him to pull out a troll costume for me. Instead he pulled out a bright, sky blue outfit nearly the image of the one he handed David, but with little wings on the shoulders of the mesh shirt, and the cap had a halo attached. "And you would be drop dead in this," he said handing it to me, and I decided I really liked Michael. "These things were made for a couple of guys like you. Trouble is you'd freeze your asses off at a street fair. Hey Phil!"

Another figure stepped out of the back and I froze. It was Pugsley.

Pugsley/Phil just smiled. "Well, nice to see you again, Chris." He turned to Michael. He had the smoothest, most precisely elegant voice you could imagine. "This is the one I told you about, at Todd and Stan's."

Great, I thought. Another one of their friends. So much for a good costume.

But Michael smiled. "This is Chris?" He held out his hand. "I heard all about you. Congratulations on getting one up on the little leech." He turned to David. "Phil described you rather different, though."

David was confused of course. Jamie may have spilled his guts about my little trip to the hospital, but neither of us had ever brought up the other Witches' Party. "David and I are friends. Jamie's doing his own costume."

Michael sighed. "God, the competition in this business. Oh well, I hope he knows what he's doing. Phil, I was saying they would look like a perfect couple in these," he said holding up the devil/angel suits. "Trouble is, they're hitting the thing over in Salem. Can we do something where they'd be warmer?"

Phil nodded. "The hose is no problem, its thick enough they could wear thermal underwear, and the bikini bottoms would cover the essentials. Plenty of give in spandex after all." He stood staring at us. "I have an idea. You boys step in back and pull on the bottoms. You wearing boxers? If you are, just chuck 'em." He herded us into a small changing room. David shucked his clothes without hesitation, and I of course had to sneak a look. Great ass. Gifted other places, too. He slid the outfit on, then looked at me.

"Ok, you got your free show. My turn."

I was indignant. "I was not watching."

David snorted. "Bullshit. I've been catching you doing that since the first time we had gym together."

No sense in arguing a losing cause, so I chucked pants and shorts and pulled on the bottoms, letting David get his free look's worth before I pulled on the hose and the brief, which barely covered 'the essentials'. David nodded approval. "Guess I know what keeps Jamie coming back."

I turned the color of David's outfit and we stepped out. Michael took a look and nodded. "Perfect. Oh, and wear jock straps, with the cup. Without 'em people could count your pubes; and if, say, something very attractive walked by, everyone would know, and even with the cup I can tell you boys could broadcasting your interest. Great at the Landing, might not be such a good idea in Salem. Phil, you ready?"

Phil stepped out of the rear and handed David a black and red loose-fitting shirt, handed a shiny silver one to me. Both had a pull cord that gathered at the waist. "I'll sew the wings on the shoulders later. If you guys wear thermals under these you should be fine. For the feet, just keep it simple; wear a nice looking black shoe and you should be fine. Please, I mean shoes, not athletic gear. We have matching slippers but your feet would be frost-bit in a half hour." He leaned forward and whispered in my ear. "Thanks for not calling me Pugsley, hon. I always hated it."

Michael smiled. "Well, that's it then. What do you guys say?"

I looked at Dave. He pulled on the shirt and the cape, put on the cap cocking it to one side. It was perfect. I slipped on the rest of my gear. Michael nodded approvingly. "I want pictures," he said. "And David, you have the most perfect ass I have ever seen in a pair of briefs. And take my word, I have seen a LOT of asses in briefs."

I hesitated. "Um, about money. How much."

Michael sighed. "Yeah, I know. College kids, no money."

"High School," David corrected.

He shook his head, mumbled about poverty row and high school kids, then named a price that wasn't too bad, and added "BUT, I get to use the pictures in my brochure and on my web site. And don't worry, the web site is business. No suggestive pics or anything, just hot models like you two in good costumes."

Philip snickered. "Yeah, but I guarantee you guys'll have a blow up in his bedroom."

I nodded to Dave and the deal was done.

"Okay boys, come back tomorrow and the wings will be done and we'll pose you guys, and it'll be both ways - the full shirts and the mesh things, too. And I'm gonna want you to wear these two little nipple rings - no don't freak out, they're like a clip on thing, just for effect."

I liked the idea, but Michael shook his head. "No offense, you're a little bony and you look too young. It'll come off like kiddy porn. Just David."


All in all, a great deal and good costumes, cheap. I put my troubles in the back of my mind looking forward to Saturday night.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We changed up at my house after work, but when David showed up he had a little surprise. Well, little in the fact that he was shorter and younger than me. "This is Alan Curran, he'll be coming with us. Any problem?"

I looked at the kid. Shorter than me and just as skinny, but with this real nervous look about him, almost like he was scared I would refuse to have him along. When I held out my hand he seemed almost afraid to touch it, and when he did I could feel a quiver in his touch. "No problems, why should there be? Hi, Alan."

His voice shook almost as much as he did but he managed a quick "Hi." His eyes weren't shifty, but they had a hooded look to them, almost like he was afraid of direct contact. He seemed terrified of me.

David nudged him. "Stop shaking. Chris doesn't bite unless it's somewhere you like being bitten." Both of us got red at that, but at least Alan smiled which is what David wanted after all. "Okay, just so we are all on target here and no one has to wonder. Alan knows we're both gay and that Jamie is your boyfriend. I called Jamie and told him all about Alan first, so don't worry, Chris."

I sniffed, pulling the blue hose over my snug thermals. "Gee, nice of you to give Jamie the option," I said sarcastically.

David stood there adjusting his tail, his horned cap pushed to one side of his head. "Hey, he's not blind. One look and he could spot a seven - I mean a six - just like everyone else."

I narrowed my eyes looking at him. "Bring up that damn test one more time and I'll get my revenge, just like last time."

"No chance, I got Mr. Rugged here to protect me," he said, gesturing with his chin to Alan, who seemed to be relaxing, and was very interested in us changing clothes. "Anyway, Alan says he's at least bi, although he has only had sex with a guy a couple times and liked it. He just isn't sure 'cuz he hasn't tried the Other Side yet."

I looked at the kid, and I could see him flinch, but he seemed satisfied that David wasn't gonna go into any more details. A look from Dave told me I shouldn't ask questions, at least for now. There was a lot more there, I could tell.

I snorted. "Like you would know anything about that."

David never even bothered to look up as he adjusted his shirt tail. "Hey, I caught a ride on the tuna boat once. I just jumped ship after the race. Not all of us popped out eyeing baskets."

I tossed a trainer at him. Alan was grinning ear to ear as he watched us, and for once he didn't seem to be shaking. "Got any costume Alan? Or you just gonna go with us as the token straight guy?"

He held up a shopping bag. "Didn't have time to get much, David called like an hour and a half ago and said he was coming to get me. We stopped on the way and this was about all anyone had." He pulled out a plastic bag and I could see a Scream mask. Scream 3 was hitting it big on cable just then so it had a revival in the store costume sections. I looked at David. An hour and a half ago meant he called from work. David never said a word about a date or a friend tagging along. The looks he had given me told me there was a lot more story to this. I wondered if he was dating this kid or something...

"Jesus, next to you guys I'm gonna look like a joke," he said as we stood there in full costume. "Man, do you guys ever look hot!"

I just smiled, thinking there was probably a lot less bi about him than he thought. His eyes were practically bulging out of his sockets as he looked us over.

David set his devil cap over to the left again, gathered up his cape so his tail could show. I set my halo on dead square in the mirror. I tried to hide the wings but David would have none of that and settled my blue cape neatly between the feathers. "We're Ying and Yang, C. Don't hide it tonight."

The parent thing was next, and both of them roared at the sight of us. My father looked at me and started up on "Wow, check out the little -" and I could see his lips forming the letter 'f' when I heard my mother's low growl "Rolly," and she elbowed him in the gut. This is mom's subtle way of telling dad he's about to say something he'll regret later.

We made good time crossing town to Jamie's, and when we got there it was Lauren who threw the door open and cracked up when she saw my wings. Then David stepped into the light, and she took him in. I watched her eyes widen and bulge. She turned to me with this lost look on her face. "Chris? Are any of the cute ones at Haverhill High straight?"

Jamie made his entrance. Alan saw him first and his jaw fell open.

The main part of his costume was a black wet suit, which would keep him from freezing in the October night and would play off his body just right. Jamie may have quit sports, but he never stopped working out and it showed. Broad chest, narrow waist, hugged by that black material, etching out every muscle and curve on his body. Something silvery had been attached to the front to conceal the zipper. His feet were clad in what had once been cowboy boots, the toes narrowing and pointed, and through time and lack of use had curved upwards. These were spray painted in a metallic silver, small metal rings attached to the toes for God knew what reason, but at least they weren't bells. Covering the crotch was a bathing suit made from a shimmery silver gray material, cut higher than a Speedo or the bikini briefs Dave and I were wearing but every bit as revealing. A closer check also told me Jamie had decided against a jock strap, or at least a cup. Alan seemed very interested when he looked there, and so was Dave, the perverts. Cinched around his waist was a scabbard complete with sword, which I knew to be from a Knights of Columbus outfit. The handle was ornate, false jewels set in, but silver tassels had been tied to it in place of the usual red and purple. On his chest were layers of 'silver' chains, one I recognized as the one he usually wore, but the others were so large and heavy I wondered what hardware store they had come from. In the center of his chest was a large pentacle - not a pentagram, mind you - something I had seen him eyeing back at the flea market in Newburyport two months ago, but never knew he bought. Like much of the metal hanging off him, it looked silver but probably wasn't. The hands were great. Covered with a heavy black makeup, then sprinkled with multi-color glitter, and long talon-like fingernails painted in a silver gloss.

His face wasn't much different - the black make-up again, more glitter to lend it effect, and his features etched out in white so they would show better, traces of extra lines at the eyes to give them a slanted look. A white lip-gloss had been applied. His eyebrows were painted out in the same silver hair spray that had been used on his hair, the kind you see on old ladies. Great Spockian pointed ears had been attached to him and covered with the make-up. Crowning it all was a green ivy wreath pinned to his hair to keep it from shifting, small red berries fitted in here and there. I squinted and saw that the crown was the plastic holly looted from some Christmas decorations.

"Don't forget this," Lauren added and draped a Bella Lugosi style cape over his shoulders, complete with high collar and red lining. She used two metal clips with a small stretch of chain to hold it all together and stepped back in triumph.

"I did the make-up and most of the other decorative stuff. What do you guys think?" she asked, fishing for compliments.

"Too cool," said Alan. "But who's he supposed to be?"

Jamie struck an exaggerated model's pose, taloned hand outstretched and the other draped over the hilt of his sword."

"Behold," he said grandly. "I am Oberon, Lord of the Dark Mists, and King of the Fairies."

The only sound was Lauren, snickering in the background. Then Jeanette Cayman stuck her head out of the living room, taking in all of us, and especially Jamie. "Lauren did a good job on my make-up, huh?"

"Yes, she did," Jeanette said, almost shaking with the held back laughter. "God, she went all out with that black makeup. I hope she laid in a good cold-cream base for you, or you'll be scraping your skin off to get rid of that stuff."

Jamie looked confused when Lauren jumped in. "Hey, you guys better get going. Salem's still a haul."

"Not till I get pictures," Jeanette said and went looking for the camera. She got us all in groups and in pairs and singles, in every pose she could think of.

Outside we worked out that we had to go in Jamie's car because he wouldn't fit in Dave's Jetta, but Dave or I would have to drive because Jamie was afraid of breaking a nail. "Isn't that Chris' line?" he asked innocently, as any demon would.

Jamie and I sat in the back since Dave would have to pull up the seat. I slid in close, but I had to be careful not to rub his skin or I'd get the black make-up on me. We were a few miles out of Haverhill and onto 114 headed for Salem when David started coaxing Alan to sit next to him. Alan turned and looked at us sitting together and smiled. The poor kid had been scared out of his mind earlier, and had almost jumped out of his skin when Lauren made her remark about straight guys but he was starting to unwind. No one would ever call Alan's bony face pretty, but he had a nice smile when he let it come up, and his soft brown eyes had that cuddly puppy look. Not that he was bad looking really, but somehow you didn't think of him in terms of being in David's league. But when he slid in closer to David and Dave slung an arm over his shoulder he turned his face to Dave and he radiated something. Alan was in love, and I hoped for his sake that David wasn't going to treat him like another Jeremy. I don't think this kid could have taken being treated like a toy. There was something... almost fragile about him. I didn't even know the guy, but I felt protective about him.

We made good time to Peabody before the lights and traffic caught up with us, and then the road narrows abruptly after you pass the North Shore Shopping Center so that slowed us down. A car was in the lane next to us and they braked to get a better look. David waved and tilted his devil cap, Jamie made faces and flashed his claws at them, and the guys were having a good laugh for themselves looking at us, or at least David and Jamie. Then Alan leaned around David to see them, and the other guys saw it was a boy cuddled up with Dave and their expressions changed. The window went down and I saw something headed our way when David's side window spidered and shattered. David swerved wildly for a second but regained control quickly. The car, an old Celebrity that might have been gold once roared through a light and disappeared into the night.

"Don't worry about it," Jamie said.

David was fuming, and Alan had skittered to the other side of the seat. "We have to report it."

"Right, and spend all night at the police station. My insurance covers glass 100%. I'll tell 'em it happened over-night in Haverhill, and that'll be all."

"I want to get those guys," David muttered.

"All we know is they drive a beat up Chevy Celebrity, no tags or nothing unless you caught 'em. No point, so forget it."

David looked over to Alan on the far side. "'Sup baby? Why you way over there?"

Alan had that hangdog look on his face. "It's all my fault. If I hadn't leaned over, they'd have just passed by."

"Bullshit. They're just assholes, and you got nothin' to be ashamed about. You were sitting next to me like that because we both wanted to. You can't help it if they're jerks. So, if you want, I'd like to have you next to me."

Alan smiled again and slid over. David ruffled his hair and the kid leaned against his shoulder. They stayed like that till we parked the car in the lot near Salem Centre.

We hit the bricks - literally, 'cuz that's what the sidewalks are made of - and got our first real look at what happens when Halloween goes mad. The streets were lit with Jack-o-Lanterns and black and orange crepe was everywhere. Witches were hidden in trees, suspended on broomsticks between buildings, and lurking in dark alleys. Scarecrows hung in doorways, and headless horsemen were propped in storefronts. Good Christians handed out pamphlets condemning the Devil's Festival, peaceful Wiccans walked about in full regalia wishing folk "Blessed be", and dismissed the Christians and their corrupted ideas of the Eve of the Feast of Samhain. Devil worshippers tried to call themselves Wiccans, but in their garish version of punk/Goth they just looked foolish and out of place, even for Halloween.

Everyone else ran around being eight year olds in garish costumes, no matter what their real age.

The Wiccans took to Jamie when they saw the crown and the pentacle. They knew he was just a guy having some fun, but they called him Lord anyway, and laughed with him. David and I got plenty of laughs and looks too, and the three of us were a hit with kids who begged their parents to take pictures with us. We mugged and hogged as much camera time as we could. Alan was along for the ride in his Scream costume, but he knew it anyway and still had fun. At least he didn't stand out, there were dozens of Scream phantoms everywhere you looked. Vendors all tried to keep Jamie hanging around their booths since he attracted customers; and Jamie was happily indulging his passion, collecting junk at special bargain prices. A tall, willowy blond girl in a white gown hailed him as Master, and called herself Galadrial. She made a play for Jamie, and I know for a fact she copped a feel.

Alan did, too. "Damn," he said quietly to me. "I thought for sure that was a pair of socks just for effect."

"Nope, that's my Jamie," I said happily.

"Too true, dude. Socks don't get hardons." He looked me over. "Do you, like, ache after?"

I turned the color of David's hose and was thankful for the attentions of two eight year olds who wanted to play with the angel. David walked up and then they couldn't get enough of the handsome devil. Their mother's snapped away and thanked us after.

David looked around. "Where did Big Jay go?"

"I dunno. Lost in the mob somewhere," I answered.

"Kinda hard to loose a six foot two pixie."

"Fairy," Alan corrected.

"Don't be judgmental; he can't help being a big fairy when he goes out with a poof."

I gave him a swift kick in the shins.

David muttered something in Italian and rubbed his leg.

Alan looked up. "Cool, they got a fried dough stand over there and I'm starvin'. You guys want anything?"

David affected a sneer. "You're gonna get fat."

Alan was backing away with a happy smile on his small face. "I gotta gain ten pounds to look anorexic." Then he pulled his mask down and dog trotted across the crowded plaza.

I looked over at David, who was still watching Alan's retreat. "Someone's got it bad," I said to him. I expected David to blow me off but he didn't.

"He's really kinda cute, and wicked nice. Not much to look at but I don't care."

I got a little braver. "So are you and him... You know what I mean."

David raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Not yet. I've known him about a year and a half now, but we never got together until maybe a week ago. He just lives over in Methuen, close to the Loop."

I shook my head. "Jesus, you and your net-meets. One day you're gonna get your head handed to you."

David shrugged. "Like you should throw stones... Okay, yeah, I know you're right and I'm sorry. He's only the second one, and like I said I've been chatting with him way over a year now. He's had it rough." He looked me in the eyes and dropped his voice. "Don't say anything, but he got outed at school and it's been tough on him."

I nodded. "What happened?"

David leaned into me. "He had a thing going with some kid for a couple months when he was a freshman, then one day the guy says hey, no more of that stuff. I mean, that's cool, the guy wasn't into it anymore, and Alan says okay. Then the guy suddenly doesn't want Alan around at all anymore, and Alan lets him go even as a friend. Then all of a sudden he's blabbing around about how Alan's always working on him and wants to get the kid off all the time. Bang. Alan's quiet and mousy to begin with, so everyone takes this jerk's word and Alan's the class queer. He gets pounded on all the time. Christ, you should see his back."

"What about his family?"

David shook his head. "He won't tell anyone, he's scared they'll find out about him. And the guys at school are smart enough not to hit him where it'll show. Even when a teacher steps in he won't say anything because he's so scared."

"Why's he so scared of his parents? I mean, I'm not out and it'll probably be messy, but it won't be that bad."

"I don't... oh, shit."

I saw the change in David's face as he looked past me, and I followed his gaze. Crowds have a movement and a flow, and suddenly it had shifted and the street was clear. I saw Jamie. He had his hand out, holding the arm of some guy close to his own height if I could judge his build. It was difficult to tell, the guy was in a long blue robe, the same cheap shimmery material they used to make Alan's costume. Then Jamie's hands came up and gripped the guy's shoulders, just like he did to me at school. The other boy pulled him into an embrace, a long one. Then they separated, and I saw him slip a piece of paper to Jamie, who tucked it into the waist of his briefs. The crowd shifted again, and we lost sight of them. Then a Scream ghoul slipped out of the mass and raced away. His mask was down, but I saw him clutching a fried doe, and he was the right height. He spotted us, saw where we were looking, and hesitated.


He pushed up the mask again and slowly walked over, trying to smile.

I put an arm on his shoulder. "You saw something over there, and I think you heard something. Please tell me."

Alan looked uncomfortable, and his eyes wouldn't fix on me. He didn't want to lie but I knew he didn't want to tell, either.

"It's important, Alan. Tell him. Please." David rubbed the younger guy's back.

"Okay," Alan began reluctantly. "I only caught a little bit, I guess Jamie didn't realize it was me. I mean, there are a lot of us out tonight in this suit. But, well... I only heard a little before they hugged. He said something about how he never thought he'd see him again and he couldn't wait to get together. They're gonna meet next Saturday. The slip of paper... it's the guy's phone number and address. I yanked my mask down and cleared out after that."

I nodded. My eyes narrowed into slits, and my lips weren't much wider. I looked around for Jamie, but I couldn't spot him in the crowd. Bitterly I wondered if he and his old boyfriend were in an alley somewhere, getting re-acquainted.

"Did you hear a name or anything?" David asked.

Alan shook his head. "No, I didn't catch it. Jamie's voice is so low it was hard to hear much with the crowd." He looked over at me, then down to the ground. "I'm sorry, Chris."

One thing I like when you meet someone who's littler than you, even if it isn't by much. You don't feel funny when you pull them close and slip an arm over their shoulders. I felt a little like I had a younger brother I was taking care of. "You got nothing to be sorry for, Alan. You just answered a big question for me, one I've been avoiding for weeks now. You just helped me find my way."

David was shaking his head. "Chris, don't jump in yet. There's still a chance... and you owe it to yourself to dig a little for the truth."

I snorted. "Dig? I can't dig, Davey," I said hotly. "I just got a boulder dropped on my head. I'm just a splat on the mat now."

We must have looked a sight there, a triangle of devil, angel and ghoul facing off at one another. Part of me wanted to cry, but another part of me was deadly calm. It was like that morning in my bedroom, when I used sex as a weapon on Jamie. I'd use a weapon on him this time, but it wouldn't be what was between my legs or anything as gentle as a club. This time I was going to use the truth, and I'd beat him with it till he couldn't take it any more and crawled away from me in shame. I was going to make his life hell.

David's voice was a gentle breeze in my ear. "Come down, Chris. Don't jump in yet. It could be something else, and this time we'll prove it before you break something you'll never be able to fix."

I glared at him for being reasonable, and I hated him for it. "How the fuck'll we do that?"

"We follow him, and get the full story, and then you - not we - face him with it and take it from there. Just make sure you know everything before you act."

"Hey guys! I hear they got some great bands out by the Willows! Let's hike up and hear the music!" Jamie stood there with his bag of junk, teeth shining and bright blue eyes flashing. He looked so happy, so damn decent... for a snake. My Lord Oberon, King of Faerie and Serpents, the Master of Deception so at home on All-Hallows Eve.

That small, gentle voice in my ear said, "Make sure you know the truth first."

I forced a smile, tried to look relaxed, and fixed my halo full and square, drawing up my cape over my arm, and walked quietly beside my dark knight. David and Alan walked just ahead of us, and even in the mood I was in I had to laugh at the little pointed tail that seemed to grow out of David's back side. I noticed for the first time that he actually, well, sashayed when he walked. And I was the seven?

"You okay, baby?" Jamie whispered into my ear.

I had to swallow hard to keep my voice sweet. "Yeah, hon, just the cold is getting to me some. We'll have to be leaving soon, all right?"

"Yup," he said happily. "It's been a real sweet night. I love this stuff."

We listened to the bands for a while, and I could tell David and Alan were getting cold, too. I knew they wanted to hold hands or something. We agreed to leave and again David and Alan led the way, so they could talk privately. Jamie chattered happily, and I made all the right sounds. When we got to the parking lot, we were trailing the new couple by a good distance, giving them some privacy.

Then two figures stepped out of the darkness. It didn't take much to see they were more than a little drunk.

"I told ya. It's the fags from the highway - I knew it was the car. You two cuties have a nice date? Hey, how's about doin' yourself a favor and takin' care of two real guys?"

I watched Jamie bound across the lot. They don't do justice in the Batman comics to the way a cape furls out in the breeze; it's quite a sight. A better sight was the faces of the two guys when they saw a pissed off Demon Lord suddenly falling on them and slamming them into the windows of their car.

They slid to the ground, their eyes bugging out. I've seen Jamie when he twists his face up in anger. It isn't a pretty sight when you're sitting on the ground; I remembered that from Seabrook. One eye squinted, and the other widened with an upward eyebrow. His bright white teeth against the black make-up must have seemed deadly. It must have looked even worse when he pulled his Knights of Columbus sword slowly out of its scabbard. Those two had no idea it was blunted and hollow. If he hit them with it, it would bend. The handle was another matter, and had some weight to it, which Jamie demonstrated when he put it through the rear window of their Celebrity.

"I guess that settles the glass bill. Remember me? I'm the queer from the back seat."

I watched one, so scared you could see the dark stain forming in the front of his pants.

"Gotta watch out for us fags, guys," Jamie said with a menacing leer, peering down at them. "Never know when one of us wussy homos might decide to ram something up your ass," he said brandishing the sword. "Now, get into that piece of crap and get out of here."

They scrambled into their car, and the engine caught right away. The one with the wet jeans drove and he slammed into reverse at full rev, and I guess he didn't see the low-hung stone wall behind the car. He slammed into it with a pleasant crunch, and we were rewarded by the sound of a broken exhaust system, and the sight of the sparks from the muffler dragging on the ground.

He turned as the sound of their exhaust trailed off into the night, and flashed us all a big smile.

The drive home was quiet. Jamie unzipped the front of his wet suit, settled into a corner and dozed. In spite of what I felt earlier, I leaned in against him. Alan was tight next to David, whose arm was around the smaller boy's shoulders again.

Help me, David, I thought. Help me prove it's something else. And thanks for keeping me from doing something I might regret.

The witch town disappeared behind us.

That's it for this time. See you soon. Remember, I love E-mail, to