This is a work of fiction. No one was exploited in the creation of this fable. In some locales, even reading about fictional teenagers having imaginary sex is prohibited. Local laws apply.

This story explicitly depicts young men forming erotic bonds with each other. Generally they are between the ages of 14 to 17, and they "generally" agree that peer relationships are best. However, among this particular group of youths, there are some who consider scoring some hot older fellow a coup, while there are others who remain enchanted by younger lads. These liaisons appear as dangerous edges, and the author has attempted to depict such outlawish trysts in a realistic way. Also, some of the fellows depicted here do other "bad boy" things like experiment with drugs and get in terrible fights. Last, being sexually versatile, as jocks typically are, they occasionally even have sex with girls. Ultimately, many are the spirits of the young who, in these pages, simply say, "Fuck the rules."

There is plenty of raunchy sex in this tale, but if all you are looking for is pure fapping material utterly devoted to some precise specialty, you might want to look elsewhere. In publisher's lingo, this is a "Coming of Age" novel.

Author's Note: Collin, as you have seen, is not quite the two dimensional character he may have first appeared to be. Watch and see how he and Ricky work things out.

Also, the killing of animals makes its first appearance in this story. Welcome to the country.

Wild Things

The next day, it seemed to Ricky that news of the fight had spread like a dry grassfire throughout the otherwise sleepy, peaceful summer community. When he took a little walk down to the river to measure the temperature of the water — something he had taken to doing after a discussion with his Uncle Dan about trout habits — he noticed that the few people he saw would instantly stop talking as he approached; they seemed to stare at him warily.

It's like they know! How could they know?

Ricky knew he had a reputation as one with a terrible temper, but few had seen such a burst of frightening violence.

He got his answer as to how they knew when he saw Patrick at the swimming hole. His brother was often a loner. He did enjoy playing all by himself. He was in the shallows catching minnows. "Hey, Ricky," he said, warily.

Patrick had good reason to be wary of Ricky.

"Hey Pat," Ricky said, his tone peaceful. "Wha'cha doin'?"

"Catching minnows. It's easier when the water's cold."

Ricky grinned. "I was just measuring the temperature. Uncle Dan said that trout get much more active at fifty-five degrees, but they get too hot when the temp goes over, like, seventy-five."

This interested Patrick. "What temperature is it now?"

Ricky fished his thermometer out of the water and spun it around so he could read the scale. "Looks like forty-nine."

Patrick looked down at his bare feet in the water. "No wonder my feet are so cold!"

Patrick, despite his irritating aspects, was actually a pretty tough little kid.

To Ricky, he then, cautiously, "Me and Jason saw you and Collin fighting. What did he do, Ricky, to make you so mad?"

Ah. So it was Patrick and, or, Jason who had talked.

Ricky just said, "He was talking shit. He wouldn't stop. I warned him, but he still wouldn't stop. You of all people should know how I am."

Patrick just looked down, not meeting his eyes. He nodded. He knew how Ricky was.

"So you caught any yet?" Ricky asked, his tone friendly.

"Just a few. The little kind with the buggy eyes. I want some of the ones that actually look like fish!"

"I think it might be early in the season."

"Well, I have seen some. Maybe if I make a dam to trap them!"

"Uncle Dan and Danny use some kind of bait and a trap to catch minnows when they go fishing at Tahoe. Maybe you could ask him how to make one!"

"That's a good idea!"

"Well, I'll see ya', Pat."


Ricky's knuckles were a bit swollen and sore; one had a cut. His nose was not broken. There was no swelling; it was not sore. He had simply had a nose bleed.

He went back to his gazebo.

But Collin? He was still sleeping with the covers half off, exposing one of his gorgeous, dark nipples, his arm thrown up to reveal his finely haired armpit, and one muscular leg thrown out, had a body that looked like he had popped of the gable of the Parthenon. Except for his pits and gens, Collin seemed devoid of body hair. He was not, of course, but the hair on his arms and legs was so fine and light, it was not noticeable. He was not merely great looking, he was divinely beautiful. But Collin's poor face!

Ricky felt like shit.

Collin had two black eyes, a bruised and swollen nose, and fat, broken lips. He had a cut on one of eyebrows, and another on one of his cheeks. With his spread out sleeping bag more off than on, Ricky was able to see all the damage. There was a long bruise across his back where he had hit the railing, another knee sized bruise on his chest, and fist sized bruises on his forearms. One of his knees and one of his elbows were scraped.

Collin moaned then, a started to sit up. He reached to rub an eye with the back of one hand, seemed to think better of it, then lay back down.

He muttered, "How long have you been watching me, Ricky?"

"Not long, Collin. I was studying the damage. You are pretty fucked up."

Collin smiled a bit, then winced. His lower lip oozed a drop of blood. He said, "You did not play with my wee wee in my sleep did you? That Vicodin knocked me the fuck out!"

"No Collin, I did not fondle you in your sleep. If I ever play with your dick, it will be with your permission."

Collin tried to snort, but his nose was too swollen. He was having to breathe through his mouth. He had snored so cutely in the night. He sounded like a puppy. But Collin's ordinary feistiness was returning, for he said, "Oh, man! Don't you be talking all this queer shit with me now all the time!"

Ricky smiled at that. "There," he said, "That's the Collin I know and love. Are you hungry? You should have something to eat before I give you another pill. I can make you something."

Collin asked, "You got any Cocoa Puffs?"

Collin, Ricky knew, had a sweet tooth.

"No. But how about Rice Krispis and chocolate milk?"

"That sounds good."

"Cool. You just chill here, I'll make it and bring it to you."

Collin chucked, "That's my girl."

"Fuck you, Collin."

"You wish."

Ricky let that go. Collin would get the last word. He'd let him.

People who have never been in physical fights rarely understand how they actually can settle things and heal things between guys. It is a difficult thing to explain.

After Collin ate, despite his protests, Ricky insisted on giving him a little more emergency care. Collin just stared at him calmly while Ricky gently soaked off the bits of dried blood in his nostrils and on his lips.

He lay back in silence, a forearm over his eyes, while Ricky softly played guitar.

"You've gotten pretty good at that, Ricky. That was nice, man."

"Thanks, Collin. I've been translating piano stuff to guitar."

From his vantage point, Ricky saw across the lot to the driveway of the Boone cabin; he noticed that James and the two younger boys got in James' car and left. He wanted to talk to his dad, but the morning was his dad's quiet time for work, so he did not want to bother him.

Collin, he could see, was getting fidgety. He was never one to sit still for long, so Ricky was not surprised when he said, "I'm gonna go hit up Susie."

"Yeah. Cool."

"Don't worry, Ricky, I won't say anything."

Ricky looked at him closely. Collin had a very serious expression. Ricky said, "I believe you, Collin."

Collin then got dressed in his surfing shorts, once again dropping his briefs and displaying himself nude. Ricky made no secret of looking him over. He even said, "You do have beautiful body, Collin. Did you know that?"

"I do know that, Ricky." Collin smiled as best he could.

Ricky let him have the last word once again.

When Collin left, Ricky pulled out his laptop to see if he could find sheet music for some classical tunes he was converting to guitar. He ended up getting lost in a fine instructional site he found. Then, he thought about calling Josh, or Ryan, but he did not want to explain himself to them yet. He'd wait until he talked to his dad.

He was worried about himself. He frightened himself sometimes.

The sun climbed up high enough in the sky that it beat in on the gazebo. It would do that for a few hours, and Ricky never liked being there then, for it was too hot. He decided it was time for a swim. No doubt the rumor machine had ground out its flood of chopped up stories about him. It was time to face it down.

Collin, it turned out, had refused to explain, nor did he play the victim. Ricky found this out from Jackie as he was walking to the swimming hole in his usual state of virtual nakedness, wearing only his skimpy shorts. She came dashing down the stairs of the big cabin and called to him. She was turning into quite the superb source of information. Ricky decided he really needed to do her a favor or buy her a present of some sort. She told him that Collin only said, "'We fought. I had it coming. Leave him alone.'

"Susie is pissed! She's all trying to get Collin to hate on you, and she's saying, 'I warned you about Ricky! He's a bastard!'"

Ricky laughed at that last. "So now she's insulting my mother's honor? How rude! But seriously, does anyone believe anything she says any more?"

Jackie laughed at that. She asked, "So what happened? I thought you guys were friends!"

"We are friends, Jackie. Collin just crossed a line. He apologized. We're cool."

"He apologized? What about you?"

"We both apologized!"

Jackie shook her head in wonder. "Guys. Guys just amaze me sometimes. The way you can fight like demons from Hell and then be all BFF's again, just like that! I wish more girls could be like guys!"

Ricky had wondered before if his dear cousin Jackie had a streak of lesbian in her. That would be awesome!

But of course he said nothing of this. She was not yet even pubescent.

Then, in glowing terms, she added, "And here I am trying to get you to give me more four-one-one, and you really have not given up anything. I love it."

"Did I ever tell you that you were my favorite cousin, Jackie?"

"Uh, yeah. Actually you have, Ricky, but I like to hear you say it."

As they walked, Ricky gently reached up to her shoulders to draw her to him for a little side hug. He kissed her hair.

At the swimming hole in the sandy circle in the middle of the rocks, in the teenage zone, Susie, however, was not to be consoled. She lit into Ricky at his first appearance, before he even had emerged from the shadows of the path, screaming, "You bastard! How could you?"

"Bastard" was evidently a favorite epithet of hers.

With her shouting, all heads turned to look. She was either oblivious to the scene she was causing, or she wanted to cause a scene. Either way, she was wrong.

Collin merely stood to one side, leaning shirtless against the rocks, arms and legs crossed. Ricky liked the way the pose showed off his strong chest and made the bump between his legs stick out a bit. He was staring at Susie like he would a yipping dog.

Seeing the lay of the land, Ricky played it cool. He said, taking the high road, "You are right to be angry, Susie."

But Susie was not listening. She assaulted him, wailing away at him with her cute little fists. Ricky just held up his forearms in a boxing pose, dodging his head, taking her blows with his arms, and dancing backward while she chased him around, screaming, "I hate you! I hate you!"

The other girls pulled her off and tried to get her to calm down.

Ricky only said, "I had it coming. Leave her alone. She's upset."

She was a grudge holder. Despite his best efforts to understand her, he had made an enemy not likely to become a friend again.

He looked over at Collin, who shrugged, saying, "I tried to get her to let it go, but she would not"; adding, by way of a sudden subject change, "anyway, the water feels good on my face."

Ricky said, "Well, I just came down for a dip. I have chores, so I'm not gonna stay long."

Ricky then did one of show-off dives off the eight foot high diving block, spinning in the air along the longitudinal axis of his body. He called that dive, "the twister." He did five laps around the big swimming hole. One time, he had calculated that there were sixteen laps to a mile.

Dripping wet, he left the hole rather than sunning himself on the rocks. He would be mainly dry by the time he returned to the cabin.

James was still out with the younger boys, for his car was still gone. Going inside, he found his father eating a sandwich in the kitchen nook and reading a book. Seeing him accessible, Ricky talked to him about the fight. Their conversation was not long. They never needed long conversations.

Ricky said, "So you know me an Collin had a fight?"

"A 'fight?' Is that what you call that? I'd say more like an elephant stomping! Ricky! What the hell did he say to you?"

"Promise you won't give him any shit?"

"Him? Yes. You? No."

"He called you a fag."

His dad made Ricky laugh when he said, "But why did you beat him up over that?"

"I warned him and warned him. I told him to take it back, but instead, he got even meaner. Then, when I came to myself, I had done that to him."

His dad got real quiet then. He said, "So it was The Other Guy?"

That was his dad's name for it. His father was of the opinion that all humans had within them a beast. To survive, humans have always needed this. To be civilized was to tame the beast. Ricky had not succeeded yet.

"Yes," 'The Balrog.' But Collin is actually a very cool dude. He's not all, 'You hit me, you hit me!' like Patrick, uh, never mind that, sorry!

"He knows he should not have said that, and by the way? Jason is going around outing you and James, so maybe you should talk to James? But anyway. You know how it is. We are friends again.

"Also, I came out to him too, but he hasn't outed me, and he won't."

"Well, I'm glad you guys worked it out. I like him."

"Me too."

It was Ricky's dad who had taught Ricky a lot about fighting. He was, after all, a Gulf War vet who had gone on "missions" with Marines as a photographer, taking pictures of "blown up shit and bloody pieces of many dead people." Though not a Marine himself, he knew about combat. But before that, even as a kid, he had been a fighter. Ricky's Uncle Sam had told him that Ricky's dad was always getting in fights at school. He was not a bully; he hated bullies, so when he saw some kid getting picked, he'd jump in swinging.

The fighting style his dad had taught him was not kid stuff. Not sport fighting. Not martial arts, but combat fighting. Fighting without rules. Fighting to the death. One important lesson was that the guy who strikes first usually wins. The neat trick was to target the biggest, strongest, scariest guy in the group, and charge right down the middle with everything you had.

"And if it doesn't work, Dad?"

"Well then you're screwed; you'll get beat, but they'll probably ask you to join their team afterwards, so even then!"

"Right down the middle! Charge!"

"That's the way."

His father was not one to fret when boys fought. It was the way the universe was. "Mutual combat," his father would say, dismissing the complaint of the loser. That was an effective tactic with Patrick, who knowing he could not get Ricky into trouble, would try not to antagonize him. Ricky therefore never had cause to give him a whomping when their dad was around.

After getting some bread rising for that night's dinner, Ricky went out into the yard on the south side of the cabin. It was a sunny spot and the best place for a garden. Ricky had worked there with his great grandmother when he was very small. He maintained the garden in her honor — something that endeared him to the Boone side of the family.

He was weeding around the tomatoes when Colin showed up. He slumped on the steps near the carport as Ricky dug at some weeds. He said, tiredly, "Susie won't have anything to do with me."

The evil side of Ricky's gay heart leapt happily.

"What? Why?"

"Well, she says it's because I won't be on her side in hating on you."

"I get that you don't think that's really why?"

"No. I think the real reason is that now she doesn't want to kiss me 'cause I'm so ugly."

Ricky was not happy to see Collin so sad. "I'm really sorry about that Collin."

"Are you? Are you really sorry, Ricky?"

Ricky looked down. Busted.

"I'm sorry I smashed up your face, Collin. You're such a handsome guy. I overreacted. I'm sorry about that, but I think you can do better than Susie."

"You 'overreacted?' Gee! D'ya think? But anyway, fuck that. I know you're sorry about that, and I'm really not mad at you. I tried to be mad at you. But I couldn't get into it. So? And, anyway, fuck her. Her loss! So, you wanna go hunting or something?"

If there were angels in Heaven, they were singing sweet songs to Ricky!

But he said, "I was making some bread. I've been kinda hiding. Everyone's scared of me now."

"Fuck them!" Collin hissed vehemently. "Maybe your dad could watch the bread?"

Ricky said he would check.

His father figured he could handle it. But even so, Ricky waited until he had punched down the bread and put it in the pans for the second rising. His dad set timers on his Mac for the various actions.

Ricky and Collin then got their hunting gear together, they dressed in their hiking boots and hunting clothes, grabbed their rifles, knives, hunting bags, water bottles, and ditty kits. Ricky had been meaning to explore the mountain behind the cabins to the east. There was a dirt service road not too far up, but it was a hard climb. He suggested they try that first. It was a bit early. Most of the critters got active later in the day. It was Collin who had first explained this to Ricky.

They were twelve. Collin said, after they'd wandered in the orchards for hours with nothing to show for it, "You know where the animals are, where they always are?"


"They are at the edges."

Ricky knew from the way he said it that Collin had more to say. Ricky was supposed to ask about that.

"The 'edges?' What do you mean?"

"Edge of day. Edge of night. Edge of forest. Edge of meadow. Edge of stream. Edge of land."

Ricky was impressed. He said, "And here we are in the middle of the day in the middle of the orchard. Let's find an edge!"

"That's what I'm saying!"

They had gone to an irrigation canal in their old home town. There, they found flocks of songbirds. The hunting was good.

But at the time they were hunting then, they were in the middle of the day in the middle of the forest. The hunting was not good.

Knowing Collin would know exactly what he meant, Ricky said, "We need to find an edge."

"Yeah," Collin agreed. "But where?"

Ricky thought about that. He said, "I have an idea. It's about a mile. Further upstream. We have to be careful though 'cause the sound of these long rifle rounds carry, and there's houses about a half mile from where I have in mind, but there's big meadow at the forest's edge. Problem is, if we shoot from the forest, the rounds'll carry across road, but if we shoot from the meadow, we'll spook the game. So it's fucking edgy!"

"Yeah! We'll work the edge! We'll shoot into the trees from the edge of the tree line working up, then back!"

"I love hunting with you Collin!"

Then, Collin, working the edge, said, "You're pretty fucking cool. For a fucking fudge packer!"

Ricky laughed.

It was going to be OK. Ricky had his friend back.

As they scouted, Collin would occasionally say snarky things, like, "Rump ranger!" He would laugh. And Ricky would laugh back.

Collin was trying to work through it. Ricky understood. His taunts had no sting.

It occurred to him then that Collin had never in his whole life known a gay guy on any kind of familiar basis. The entire sum of his experience suggested that to be gay was a fate worse than death. Ricky had thought that too at one time.

Along the way, by a route that was actually new to Ricky, following a service road high on the hill and occasionally plinking in their endless competition, Collin opened up even more. They were taking a break, sitting with their backs to a tree, facing different directions, sipping water.

Collin asked in a way that seemed just a little too casual, "So what is it like, Ricky, being gay, ya' know?"

Ricky felt a little quiver of something then. He was not quite sure what it was, but Collin seemed a little bit... What was Ryan's phrase? Ah! "Gay curious!"

Hmmm... Could it be? No!

Keeping it very cool, however, Ricky answered, "I'm not even sure what you are asking, Collin."

"I mean, are you a girl spirit in a boy's body? You don't seem like a girl. You don't talk like one. You don't act like one. You never have."

Collin was asking a serious question. He really wanted to know. Just then, there was a sudden little breeze that fluttered through the high tops of the trees. In the distance, the raucous cries of a blue jay could be heard.

"I don't know about any of that. I just know that I think guys can be so beautiful! And I do like to touch them. I find them sexy. I always have. Even when I was little, I studied them. But the thing is, on TV and movies, they always show these really effeminate guys. Gays call them 'poofs.' Guys like that actually gross me out! Blech! I wouldn't fuck a guy like that with someone else's dick! I mean, all into Barbara Streisand and driving gay little Mazdas, and talking like bad caricatures of women, swishing their hips, and complaining their risotto was not made with organic cream and all that! Not interested!"

Collin laughed and laughed. "You just sounded totally gay, dude, the way you rattled that off. You crack me up, man. And you are into Italian opera and making bread and you dress in way that shows skin you know, like even now, you are wearing a fucking fishnet undershirt!"

"This shirt is Norwegian, man. It forms a boundary layer. It keeps you cool in the heat and warm in the cold, and the problem with this heavy shirt is that it gets hot, but we were going through brush, so this shirt keeps me cool, and don't you say a word about my hat! I like my Aussie shooting hat!"

Collin was laughing loudly then. He carried on, repeating, "But you are into all that Italian opera, and what the fuck is 'risotto?'"

"It's a rice dish. You have to have the right kind of rice. I can make it; it's very good! I'll make some for you!"

That last statement just added to Collin's mirth.

Ricky ignored that and said, smoothly, "And I'm not into Italian opera. I told you! I'm into Caruso and Pavarotti and Bocelli, to name a few examples of the type that even you may have heard of, and those guys are practically folk singers, certainly not, highbrow! I just the love the raw timbre of those kinds of tenors. I am thinking of learning Italian!"

"Oh, Ricky! You are making my face hurt from laughing so much! Why did I not see it before? You are so fucking gay!"

"Well, yeah, Collin. I told you. But I'm not a poof. And I'm turned on by manly guys, like you, buff and tough, not faggy, wimpy dudes."

Collin sighed. Still chuckling, he commented, "Are you flirting with me?"

"Kinda. Maybe. But you'd have to come my way for anything to happen, and I don't think that's in the cards, so, no, not really. I'm just being honest. You are truly one one of the most beautiful guys in the world, but I know you are straight. I have something called 'gaydar'... You ever heard of that? And you don't ping on it, and I certainly won't embarrass myself pursuing you."

This was a lie. Collin was definitely generating a confused and muddled ping on Ricky's gaydar. He thought about the mad passion had displayed when he was fucking Susie. Maybe he's bi curious!

Collin said, "Yeah. I've heard of 'gaydar,' but I kinda wondered what that was about."

Then he asked another question. "Uh, have you, uh... you know, uh..."

"Had gay sex? With a guy?"

Collin laughed. "Uh, is their any other kind of 'gay sex?'"

Ricky chuckled. "No. Guess not, but anyway," he said, standing up and brushing the seat of his khaki trousers, "I'd really like to get moving, but, yeah. I've seen some action. I don't kiss and tell. It's a rule, so let's shoot some squirrels, huh?"

Ricky had figured out how to play it.

If you want it, you're gonna have to come get it, Collin Darling.

Collin grew silent. They walked along looking for things to shoot, their rifles in the crooks of their arms, no rounds in the chambers, safeties on, and, true to their indoctrination, never sweeping the tip around so that the barrel pointed at each other, ever.

Then Collin blurted, "I don't want to piss you off, Ricky. I'm just being honest, but honestly? It's seems just totally gross to me! I don't get it!"

Ricky had talked about this very subject with Ryan. He had something of an answer. He said, "I'm not pissed. Finally you're just being my buddy Collin saying what is in his heart, not being cruel. So that's cool. But really? What part of what you think gay guys do is so 'gross?'"

"Well two guys. Kissing! Like all kissing with tongues and all? Gross!"

Ricky got that. He said, "But when a father kisses his beloved baby boy, right on the lips! And he says, 'Good night?'"

"Not gross. That's just a dad who loves his baby."

Ricky said, "Just so you know? My dad never touched me any way other than a father touches a son!"

Collin was very, very quiet then. Finally he said. "I kinda wondered about that. I wasn't gonna ask you. So that's cool."

Ricky asked, "So what else is just 'totally gross?'"

Collin, evidently feeling even more comfortable said, "Well, two guys, touching each other's dicks? How can you stand it? Just the thought makes me want to puke! I mean, Dude! That's fucking disgusting!"

The way he said it made Ricky laugh out loud.

"What's so funny?" Collin asked, coming along side him.

"It's just that I'm really enjoying you telling me what you think instead of what the Bible says you are supposed to think or what Bob the truck driver says or what some swivel-eyed lunatic preacher says or... whatever!

"Swivel-eyed" was an expression that Ricky had just learned from reading something on the internet. He figured it meant those wild staring eyes all looking around at everything but what was in front of a person.

"So basically, Collin, it's a relief to me to hear you finally come out to me!"

Collin laughed. He agreed. "That's pretty fucking funny, Ricky! Yeah, Dude, You probably figured this out already, but it's just the way God made me! I love girls! I like to have sex with them! I like pussy! I'm straight!"

Ricky repeated a line similar to one he'd used on River, "Well I love cock! I love to suck cock, and I even like to get my ass fucked by cock! It's just the way God made me!"

Ricky's voice softened then, but his words carried a burning intensity when he said, "And you know, Collin — Don't take this personally, but it's a Goddamned bore hearing you straight guys go on and on and ON about it! Fuck you and your God given self-righteousness!"

Ryan was right. These guys who have to say, "I'm not gay! I'm not gay! I'm not gay!" have issues!

Collin shut up then, but then, he observed, "Oh fuck. My lip's bleeding again!"

He told him, "I thought of you when I was getting ready to leave. I have some first aid stuff in my pockets."

Along with some lube and condoms in case you want to fuck me.

Ricky was smiling as he said, "Here, let me help you."

Collin let him, chuckling, "And there I thought that bulge in your pocket was 'cause you were so happy to see me!"

"No, that's the other bulge," Ricky said, as he held the back of Collin's sweaty neck as he dabbed the crack in his lip with a bit of antiseptic wipe. He added a drop of antibiotic cream to a clean corner of the wipe and put that little dab on it. "You know, I have another small towel. A bit of cool river water on it, and folded up would probably feel great on your eyes. Also, I could delicately lick them. Saliva is an antiseptic anticoagulant!"

"Ew! Gross! What a fucking homo!"

Ricky suspected that Collin liked the fact that Ricky found him so attractive. He was a little narcissistic, Collin was. He remembered one of their times together, back when Collin and he both had gotten into weight lifting, and he had watched Collin flex and pose in front of a mirror.

Yes, Collin, I read you loud and clear. I should have seen it sooner.

As he treated his friend, he considered ways he might test his theory. It was a tricky business. His prey might run away forever at the slightest wrong move.

They were almost above the place where they planned to hunt. Both began to look for a trail or an opening in the heavy brush. It was the heavy brush that had prompted Ricky to suggest that they wear all long clothes. That brushy stuff could scratch on up badly.

Collin said something interesting then. "Can I tell you something I've noticed about girls?"


"Well, girls, when they are together, will talk about how this guy or that guy is so dreamy or so cuuute or how he has such a big dick!"

Ricky laughed to hear Collin imitate girly chatter.

"But when they are with you, shit, they are like, what ever! Really stingy with compliments. I don't get it."

Ricky took that as a hint that Collin was a little hungry for praise. He did not immediately satisfy Collin then about it, but he added that piece of information to how to handle Collin.

Keeping to a similar topic, he asked, "So you and Susie? How far did you go with that? Did you fuck?"

Ricky, of course, knew the answer. He was testing Collin.

"Twice! We fucked the first day! Then, yesterday? We fucked again!"

"You fucked the first day? When? Where?"

Collin looked smug. Ricky loved that studly, confident look of his. He answered, happy to brag, "All right. You remember when we were all playing 'kick the can?'"

"Yeah," Ricky answered. "kick the can" was an old tradition in the community. It was a variation on "hide and seek" in which the people hiding could run into the open lot and kick the can, thereby becoming "free." But if the person who was "it," could tag them, then the person tagged became "it."

"Well, we ran off together to hide, and we got into some bushes and snuggled down, and she was looking at me, and I was looking at her, and I was thinking, 'I could kiss her!' But I didn't, and she said, 'Let's get away from this kid stuff!' And I said, 'OK! Where?' And she said 'This way!' And we went to that cabin next to hers, around the back. There's a porch swing there."

Ricky chuckled at that. This was the exact spot she had taken River. That cabin was rarely used. He told Collin how he knew this other guy who she had taken to that same spot to suck his dick.

Colin chuckled in his husky way. "Yeah. She's a slut. I like sluts!"

"He told me she gives lousy head, all dry and biting."

Collin chuckled. "Yeah? He was right, and I bet you know all about how to give a great blowjob? Is that what you are hinting at?"

"No, Collin. I was not hinting that, but now that you mention it..." Ricky laughed lightly.

"Aw, fuck you dude! Anyway, we were kicking back on the swing, getting snuggly, kissing and I told her she was pretty, with pretty eyes and nice hair and a nice taste, and then we were really kissing! We could hardly keep our clothes on! And then we were all ripping our clothes off, and she was going downtown, Just like that! But I was all, 'Fuck this,' I wanted pussy! And she wanted my dick in it! I couldn't believe how fast it all went down! And have you ever seen her naked? Wow!"

Collin did not wait for an answer. "So when I got her panties off I was like, 'Whoa! You have a beautiful vagina Susie!'

"She does too, have you ever seen it?"

"Yes. I spied on her before, but anyway?" Ricky offered no further explanation.

"So I fished in my pocket for a condom... I always carry them. Did I tell you that? I'm not getting some girl pregnant or getting VD or anything!"

"No, you never told me that, and you know you never told me that. Do you have some right now? Are you thinking I might want to let you fuck me?"

"Oh, don't be so self-centered, Ricky!" he said, not answering the question at all, before continuing, so I popped one on even though she said she had a patch, and bam, bam! We were doing it! She was fun to fuck! She got off! Then, I told her, 'That was kinda rushed. Let's do it again where we can take our time!' And she was into that, so the next day when her parents were at the beach, we went up to the cabin and did some serious fucking! It was hot!

"That next time, I didn't use a rubber because she showed me her patch. It's on her ass and hidden by her swimsuit."

Ricky nodded, again digesting this information. He noted that Susie, by his count, was just about as sexually active as he was. He could not fault her for being a "slut." The girl liked sex. Out loud, he said, "Sex is fun, isn't it, Collin?"

"Yeah man. Sex is fun!"

Seeing then what looked like an opening down the hill, Collin suggested they drop down.

"Watch out for poison oak, bro," Ricky warned him. "It grows all over this part of the hill."

Both he and Collin were highly sensitive to that toxic plant. They each had had severe cases. They had learned to be very wary of it.

Making their way down, Collin, ever the pathfinder, suddenly stopped under a tall pine. Ricky almost bumped into him. He turned to look at Ricky with a serious expression. He actually reached up and placed a hand on Ricky's shoulder when he said, "My best friend is a fucking fag! I don't fucking believe it!"

Ricky blinked. His eyes watered a little bit. Colin had called him his, 'best friend!' He did not turn his head or try to hide his eyes. Collin smiled sympathetically, like he felt sorry for Ricky. This was not quite the effect Ricky wanted to produce, but it was better than hate or ridicule.

They reached their hunting grounds. It was the same area where he had taken Roan for bow hunting practice. It was on the far side of the meadow where Ricky and Joshua had frolicked so happily. It was also squirrel hunting paradise.

After an hour and a half of marvelous squirrel hunting, they had eight kills with eight shots, taking turns. Both were deadly accurate marksmen. Frustratingly, one of the squirrels Ricky had shot did not drop from the limb, but remained in the tree, dead. Ricky thought of squirrels as rats in cute costumes. He had observed them often. Of all animals in the forest, squirrels were the most extraordinarily vicious to each other. Thinning their population was a favor to nature. Their function was to forget where they had buried nuts. Not many were required for that. Also, acorn fed squirrels were meaty and delicious. But Ricky detested killing without purpose or meat. Seeing that dead squirrel stuck on a limb felt like murder.

"Aw fuck it, Ricky. We'll never get it down. Food for the crows!"

They had tried throwing sticks after the tree proved too difficult to climb, and they could not shake the limb.

Collin was happy. He had gotten four to Ricky's three, but Ricky's last kill was a big one, so they counted it even, though they could not bring it home. Collin chortled, "Squirrel tonight! We are gonna get stuffed!"

Both he and Collin were careful to be discrete about their kills when moving through populated areas. It was only city people, not country people, who had romantic delusions about "nature." They tended to freak when they saw boys with guns walking along with dead animals.

For this reason, Ricky suggested they take their game to the river to skin and gut. They could wrap the meat in some of the large leaves that grew along the river that the locals called "elephant ears."

Collin had wanted to skin them in one of the quick styles they knew, but Ricky demurred, saying, "No, I don't like the way cutting across the back that way ruins the skin. I want to scrape and tan these hides. I have some Indian friends who will like the gift of some good leather, so let's do it like we do rabbits when we want the pelts. I brought some wire and some little hooks so we can hang them as we do it.

There were many ways to skin animals. Collin knew the style Ricky was talking about.

It was a bit of work, but Ricky and Collin had sharp knives and practice. They took some of cord and wire to hang the animals by their hind feet from the nub of a broken branch of a small tree, cut a ring around the back legs, then a slit through the crotch along the inside of the legs careful to avoid the glands; that done, the skin would usually come off in one, fast, hard pull. Both Ricky and Collin liked to just chop off the front legs at the first joint before all this, for there was not much meat there anyway. Once the skin was down around the neck, they chopped off the head. Ricky saved the heads. He'd pop them open and make a water and brain mash to tan the hides. Gutting them was not much more difficult than gutting a fish: a slit down the belly, and most of the guts came out with a scoop of a few fingers.

It was a messy job. Before he got his hands all bloody, Ricky took his shirt off, and Collin, evidently thinking that was a good idea, did the same.

As they worked, Collin Collin grew chatty again. "I can't believe you go barefoot so much, and you just don't fit the stereotype of a queer."

"That was a funny sentence, Collin. 'You go barefoot, but you're queer?'"

"That's not what I meant. I just saw that as an example. So I guess you're one of the 'Tomboy kind?'"

Ricky smiled. That was the first time anyone had called him a "Tomboy." To Collin, he said, "Yeah, well, I told you I wasn't a 'poof.' I thought I explained that. I guess you're really trying to work through this?"

"I'm trying," Collin said, as tossed a handful of offal into the hole they had dug.

Collin was not going to drop it. "So how many guys have you fooled around with? Really. I want to know, and don't say, 'I don't kiss and tell.' I'm not looking for names and dates."

Ricky debated telling him. He couldn't see Collin's angle. He tried to veer around the topic. He said, "Have you ever heard of 'bottoms and tops?'"

"Yeah. I can guess what that means. It means some guys are 'catchers' and some guys are 'pitchers,' right? See? That's what I don't get! Guys are pitchers! Women are catchers! Anything else goes against nature!"

"I used to think that, Collin, honestly. But I learned that maybe nature is more complicated than that. People are complicated, Collin! Everything is not so simple that you can say that all men are one way and all women are another. Besides, homosexuality is well attested in many animals. Apes, Dolphins, shit, even dogs!"

"But," Collin protested, "Dogs do that as a domination submission thing! It's not really sexual.

"Well, Collin, that whole 'domination slash submission' thing is definitely 'sexual' for some people, maybe a lot of people."

"How about you, Ricky?"

Collin looked hot with his sweaty chest and bloody hands, one wielding a knife. He was looking at Ricky sidelong, and sexy! Ricky had the distinct impression that Collin was, in fact, hitting on him.

So Ricky flirted back. "Well Collin, I was just thinking how hot you looked, and how kinky it would be to rub my bloody hands on those gorgeous pects of yours and rub you pretty nipples with my thumbs. It would give you a strong, sensual feeling, and it would do the same for me. That seems pretty equal to me. That's not one guy overpowering the other. That's mutual."

Collin appeared to blush a bit, he looked down, slightly disconcerted.

He recovered quickly, however. He said, "OK. I think I am getting it. Also, that was brave of you, Ricky, coming 'out' to me. Risky! I mean, I was talking shit. There was no way you could know that I'd be cool, and you did it anyway. I have to respect that."

"Thank you, Collin."

They worked in silence then. Once more a sweetly scented breeze wafted through the canyon, smelling of sage and a touch of smoke. The river, broad, flat, and calm in that stretch made little noise.

Collin broke the silence again. "So why did you, Ricky?"

"Why did I what?"

"Tell me. Tell me you are gay."

Ricky smiled. "Honestly, as you were laying there sleeping, all beat up, and I was looking at your fine lines in the dark, I realized how much I loved you, and the reason I was so mad was because even though I loved you, you were so cruel, and that had made me crazy, and I needed to purge. I needed it over, once and for all, so I decided to tell you. I figured you would either hate me, or you'd get over it. It was a test. It was a test of our friendship. If you didn't get over it and used it against me, then I would would be free of you."

"Hmmm. OK"

"But that's not all."


"No. You see, I had hurt you, so by telling you, I gave you a weapon. If you wanted to hurt me, you could, and then we'd be even, and my love for you would be gone forever, but, like I said, I would be free! Can you understand that?"

"Yeah, Ricky. I can understand that. But I didn't burn you, did I?" Collin had a sassy look then.

"No, Collin. You did not."

"You still have not told me how many guys you have been with."

"No, Collin, I have not."

"I won't tell on you, Ricky."

"I know. It's just... Uh, I dunno. I think you are still weirded out. This has all been a bit much, you know?"

"Yeah, I suppose."

Ricky had his act down than. He was playing hard to get. Collin was the shy boy. He was the coy boy.

The carcasses all skinned and gutted, Ricky went to the river to get some more elephant ears. As they wrapped the meat up in the leaves, Collin, ever one to chew on every detail, said, "The Bible says that homosexuals is anathema, Ricky."

Collin's tone was not accusing. He was not angry. He was just airing the topic. Collin had chosen the Greek word "anathema" for "cast out, unwanted, discarded, and despised".

"The Bible says that eating shrimp and pork is anathema, but having slaves is just great, and if you need the money, it's OK to sell your daughter. Fuck the Bible, and fuck you for quoting it. The rules I live by are not those of an angry tribe of ninth century BC monotheists who were facing extinction and composed laws they thought would make the most babies."

Ricky carried on, "The Bible says a lot of things that you don't believe in, Collin, but you choose to believe that? God's Word is written in the Earth, the Sky, and Our Hearts. I hardly think the Creator of the universe is much concerned with boys kissing boys. I mean think about it! Use your fucking brain! What's the harm? Where's the hurt?"

"If everyone did it, the human race would die," Collin said.

"Well, obviously, everyone doesn't do it; besides, I'd like to have kids. I won't fucking lie about it though. I'm not going to pretend to be straight just because I'm afraid! I won't do it. I will live with the truth, Collin. I swear to God!"

Collin nodded in that way he had. It was almost like a bird scooting its head as it walked. He would only use that nod when he deeply agreed with something. Collin agreed that Ricky was right to tell the truth and not lie. Not to him. Not to anyone.

He asked Collin, "How many girls have you had sex with?"

Collin smiled triumphantly. "I'll tell you if you tell me. How about that? Is that 'mutual' enough for you?"

"Fair enough."

"Six," Collin said, "including Susie."

"What a whore you are!" Ricky praised. "When was the first time? Me? I've only been with three guys, well, four, if you count this one time that was not quite mutual."

Collin looked at him with a hunter's look then, like he definitely got the hint that Ricky had serviced a straight boy. Once.

Collin went on, obviously happy to do so. "Last winter. I was working on this Christmas sign with this girl Jenny, and she told me she was a virgin! I told her I was too, and she liked that I was truthful and shy, ya' know? Gawwd! She was so sweet and nice! She asked me if I wanted to get past that. I told her I would if she would. So we did it at her house when her parents weren't home. It was kinda awkward, actually, but we got better at it. We went steady. Then I heard she was kissing this other dude, and I asked about that. I wasn't really mad. I was kinda looking for more action anyway, and she was all worried. I even kissed her. I told her that I'd always say nice things about her if she said nice things about me, and she must have said nice things about me! Because the pussy started to roll in!"

Ricky laughed. "That is so fucking hot Collin!"

Collin laughed, "See, I figured it out. You gotta get a good rep in the 'girl network.' They talk to each other, and once you get into their net, you score!"

Ricky was impressed. "I always liked that about you, Collin. You have these insights! I never knew that, but you're right!"

Collin evidently appreciated the compliment, and he returned one. He said, "I also just figured something else out!"


They were just then tidying up, getting their packs loaded, "Before I came up, you told the girls about me."

"Yes. I did that."

"So, see? You are in the girl network. You gave me a good rep. That was really cool. You're not one of those cock blocking queers."

"Oh, Collin," Ricky said in a teasing way, "you say the nicest things!"

Collin laughed at Ricky's campy style, getting it completely, and then, without pause, he said, "You wanna suck my dick, don't you?"

Totally, Ricky thought, and, after you came in my mouth, If you have any juice left, you can fuck me.


But what Ricky said was, "You'd have to come my way quite a bit before that could happen, Collin."

Questions? Comments? Critiques? Don't be shy. Let me know. All feedback is useful. Your letters have been helpful and encouraging. Heck, I'll even write you back. I like to do that.

Cheers, Dorian

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