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Track 7

"Double Life"

Part Four


The D.J. said that the cold snap was due to break by tonight, and that we might even see some sun tomorrow. I didn't care.

I was curled into a sweaty little ball, pressed against the headboard, the sheets twisted around and between my legs and feet. I waited for the fear and horror from the nightmare to fade, wondering how I was ever going to sleep again.

Someday, it'll be like it never... I started.

He's back. He found me. It'll never be like it never happened, will it?

I straightened out with groans of pain. I viciously slapped off the radio.

I plodded into the bathroom with clean clothes. Showered. I felt the effort. The last stitch fell out of my temple, leaving only the slightly-red scar. I dressed and performed the rest of the morning duties. The entire time, I thought of the most potent horrors of my life: Tom. Jeff. Eric. Erich. Trey. Myers. Plymouth. Finals. Grades. Band. Music. Gym. Alone.

I trudged downstairs, considered breakfast, rejected the idea. I sat and waited for the time for the cold, silent ride to school with Tom.

Final day of finals, at last. Then a three day weekend. I won't have to sit with Tom during the ride to school for three days. And I got a test today that has nothing to do with books. I wonder if I'll wuss out? No, I'll do it. And I have to play at the student union. At least I'll be invisible, way in back with no lights. I can do that. No Circle meeting again. Shit. This weekend kind of marks the death of the Circle. Things change. Right?

And thinking about things that change, I gotta change how much I'm seen with Erich. I can't be carrying his books around. I can't be walking around with him all the time. I can't be riding home with him. I can't have him paying the price for me being gay. If he's Puppy Dog or not. If he's gay or not. If he's the other keyboard player or not. Myers is just proof that being seen with me is poison.

Poison! Of course! Why would any other gay guy at school want to come talk to me when doing so is only going to get them into shit! No wonder! Even if someone else at school is gay, they're not gonna want all the shit they'd get for talking to me.

Finally, something made sense to me. The long, agonizing worry was solved. But it meant that I would be alone, for sure. Any good feelings from the new knowledge were washed away by the horror of the answer. I put my head in my hands and fought off the tears. It wasn't hard, as the desire to cry wasn't particularly strong, but I easily could have allowed myself to do so.

The time came, and I shrugged into my coat and scarf and plodded outside to sit through another uncomfortable ride to school with Tom. I wondered if he would be busy and miss the table yet again this morning. I wondered what he did when he left. I wondered how long he was going to lie about working. I wondered how long it would be until he had to go to school too early for me to want to ride with him. And, I wondered how long it would be until we no longer talked to or saw each other at all. Like Jeff.

I hopped in and we exchanged the usual, "Morning." It was another quiet ride, as was the new normal. I wanted to face Tom about his lies, his secrecy, his silences, but I couldn't. I was lying, keeping secrets, being silent. I was as guilty as him. I berated myself for being so worthless. As we pulled into the school parking lot, I managed to ask.

"So, no classes tomorrow, what're you up to?"

"Working," he said flatly, and then yawned.

I nodded, knowing he was probably lying. I got angry. I didn't want to ride the bus with Jeff, though, so I didn't confront him about it.

Instead, I asked, "Like it?"

He nodded, parked, and then killed the engine.

"What are ya gonna do with all that money?"


"I can give ya a few bucks for the ride to school," I offered.

He shook his head and opened his door. I followed suit and we walked quickly through the strong, frigid wind. It wasn't as cold outside as it had been inside the wagon with Tom. He said he had things to do as we walked into the school. I nodded. We parted without another word. I assumed that would be the new normal. It hurt.

I swapped books at my locker, and then headed to the cafeteria. I sat down with the regular guys, wondering again if they would really prefer that I not. They stayed deep in their books, or ignored me. I wasn't sure which. I still didn't know if it mattered or not. Erich was deep in study, too, hardly sparing me a glance. I considered ways to avoid carrying his books or being seen with him so much. I decided that next week I would start going to the library in the mornings. That way, I could spare Erich and all of the guys with one solution. I felt relieved. I felt awful.

Some double life. This used to be the fun part of the day. Now . . . geeze. Same old shit, different day. More horror.

My spirits sank further. I didn't even try to study. I put my head down on the table and let the time tick past. I was really losing Jeff and Tom and Eric and the entire Circle.

I considered that all those fancy studies were wrong, that only two in a thousand were gay, and apparently I was the only one who could learn to deal with it.

Finally the bell rang, and the last day of final exams began.

The physics test was one hundred questions, and I felt taxed and confused before the tenth. I nearly gave up by the twenty-fifth. I started guessing before fifty. I lamented all the time spent with the band instead of in my books.

I walked slowly to German, hoping to see Trey. This was one test I was determined to pass with flying colors. When I saw him, I nodded his way and put on a smile. His expression turned to a smile as we walked toward each other. I pulled his note, with my added words, out of the pocket of my pack without him noticing. When we were close enough to talk, and his smile covered his face, I slammed his note into his chest with my fist. He took it as his smile faltered.

"What... " he started to ask before he recognized it.

I had thought of watching him as he read what I had written, but I had decided against it. I did as I had planned and only glared at him briefly before walking away.

I inhaled deeply and exhaled powerfully. I felt lighter. Relieved. Tested and found sound. I smiled for the first time all day.

German wasn't too bad. Vocabulary and grammar questions. I was fairly confident. Erich threw me a grin, and I grinned back. I felt as if I had just painted a target on his back.

I carried his books for him to his next class, as usual. I felt conspicuous, as if I were pointing at Erich, daring everyone to hate him. I firmed up my decision to distance myself from him, to save him the disgrace of being associated with me. When I dropped off him and his books, I saw Darrel Myers. I gave him the promised evil eye and a subtle finger.

Once I had walked slowly out of the classroom, I then hurried to my geometry class in order to make it on time. I knew the early lessons, and answered those questions confidently. The last ones, though, had me confused and guessing. I barely finished before the bell. Rick seemed confident and finished early, Kevin didn't finish. I lamented all the time spent with the band instead of in my books.

Computers, and I finished the final program. It ran, but I had saved time by making the interface as simple and plain as possible. I finished the last overdue program, and it ran after correcting an obvious mistake. I had one minute to the bell. I was extremely thankful to the almost-familiar guy who had shown me the little lab, even if was in hostile territory. I was thankful to the teacher, too, and I wondered if there were other gay teachers.

Lunch. Everyone cramming. Quiet. Thomas talked to Patricia, then blushed his way to the table where no one bothered him. I wondered if I really was the only gay guy in the cafeteria, possibly the school, with the exception of Jeff. I tried not to think of him. I tried not to look at Erich. I failed on both accounts. I felt like a pariah and a traitor.

Erich and I walked to chemistry class, Thomas silently walking with us. I worried that Thomas, too, would get grief for being my friend. I decided to skip lunch starting next week, as I didn't eat anyway. In class, Erich and I performed the final experiment and submitted our report. Erich figured most of it out, and without him, I would have probably screwed up badly. That only made me feel worse.

I carried his books to his next class and then jogged to my literature class. I handed in my final report, knowing I had done fairly well. The book was familiar from junior high, and I had pretty much just copied and improved the B paper from then.

Gym. I changed with the other guys in the newly normal aisle. I kept my eyes in the locker while I changed, and on my feet as I walked out. I was told that I was going to be given a C. I had gotten that grade for the first quarter, and the coach felt I shouldn't be given worse because of my, "situation," and not better, as I had been on track for another C before my, "incident." I was happy with the C. I changed clothes, eyes glued to the back of my locker again, and put my gym clothes into my pack to take home. The usual new group formed as we waited to be released. I wondered again if I was really the only gay guy out of the hundred or so in the class, or if the others were smart enough to keep silent and clear of me.

Erich told everyone he had an appointment with his doctor Saturday, and said, "I hope I get these damned gloves off. I have a lot of self-loving to catch up on."

Everyone laughed, and I tried to smile. If he hadn't already asked if I would be willing to continue helping him out, at least once in a while until he got a girlfriend, I would have hoped he wouldn't get his gloves off. Yet, I hoped I'd found a way out of it, too. I felt bad about that. I ended up hoping that he would get his gloves off, and be able to carry his own books, and not need me anymore. I felt badly about that, too.

English. Sentence diagramming. Horrible, atrocious, grievously heinous.

I wasn't looking forward to that grade, and I lamented all the time spent with the band instead of in my books.

Civics. Aced. I stayed after the class to let him know that I would stay after school one day next week, as I had promised the Dean.

Now that finals were over, I almost felt like celebrating. I was almost in a good mood. With no reason to go to the little computer lab, I instead went to the library and looked at the other two books on dreams. But not until after I looked through the magazine with the article comparing the new synthesizers again. Later, the three books I had been reading weren't proving of much use, one claiming that everything was sexual, another comparing dream symbolism between Freud and Jung, and the third mostly New Age babble about using diet and yoga to bring your energy points into balance to create harmonious dreams that would lead you down a fruitful and joyous life path.

The two remaining books had dry and boring titles, but when I scanned them, I found chapter titles that sounded extremely promising. I quickly read a few paragraphs from several of the most promising chapters, and found that I had checked out the entirely wrong books first.

Never judge a book by its cover, I reminded myself, and checked them out.

I left all of my books in my locker, except the library books, and waited for Erich at the usual place, looking forward to enjoying the other half of my double life, but dreading being seen with him. I wondered if Kevin could start picking me up and taking me to practice. I decided that I would ask him tonight. I wondered if he would be willing to, and I worried that I might be painting a target on his back if he did.

Erich came strolling up to me, grinning a grin that I knew was full of interesting news.

"So? What's with the shit-eating grin?"

"Seems I owe you something," he answered, red.

He teased me by not saying anything else until I prompted him. He also refused to move.


"Seems Darrel Myers apologized today the second you left after dropping off me and my books."

I raised both eyebrows.

"If you'd stuck around, he wanted to say he was sorry to you, too."


Erich nodded.

"In fact, I'm supposed to keep you here until he comes."


He nodded. Then he caught sight of him and nodded that way. I turned to see Darrel approaching. I suddenly started sweating. I hadn't thought of this possibility at all. I wanted to turn and run, but I was as much as paralyzed. I feared he really wanted to know where to find me so that he could get his hands on me.

He had a bruise next to one eye, and a bruised and slightly swollen lip. They were on the left side, and I hadn't seen them from across the classroom when I dropped off Erich and his books. They didn't look bad, or painful, but he had obviously gotten the business end of someone's fist.

"Raymond," he said as he stopped two steps away, meeting my eyes. "Um, look. I never told anyone I wanted you to, uh, do anything, or I'd come after you. And I never told you that, either. I did say you and Erich were, uh, ya know, boyfriends and shit. So, I do owe you an apology for that, but I think you owe me one, too. I mean, what you said is all over school and shit."

I had to agree, I did owe him an apology. But I also saw another fact.

"Look. What you said about me and Erich is all over school, too. So the way I see it, it's even. But, I do apologize. I only did it so I could clear Erich. I mean, I'm, gay, sure. But Erich ain't, and he don't need no shit just because he's a great guy and don't hate me because I am."

Darrel's brows raised, and I saw that he might not be as stupid as I thought he was.

"Agreed. He's got a big set for walking to class and hanging around with, uh ..."

"The class fag?"

What he said next pretty much proved that he wasn't as stupid as I thought.

"His friend."

Darrel looked at Erich, and said, "I kinda admire you. I don't know if I would or could do what you do if one of my friends was gay and everybody knew it. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the guts."

He looked at me.

"You got good friends, Raymond."

Which made me feel pretty good, and made me want to spare them any further disgrace all that much more. And it raised a question.

"Um, so, who, um-"

"Don't ask. Was told to tell you I didn't know 'em, if you asked."

I furrowed my brow.


He shrugged.

"You got good friends."

He held up a "V" sign, said, "Peace," then turned and walked away.

I turned my furrowed brow to Erich. He obviously knew what I was thinking.

"I don't have the faintest fucking clue."

We tried to puzzle it out during the ride to my place. We didn't even know when or where it had happened, let alone how whoever it had been even knew whatever it was they had known. Or why they would care. Or even if his bruises had anything to do with what he had said about Erich and me.

Once we were in my room, I sat at my desk and started rolling a joint. Erich moved the other chair close by. I told him that I had arranged for a different ride home next week. I hadn't talked to Kevin yet, but I was sure he would be okay with doing so.

"Okay. If that's what you wanna do," he said with a slightly reduced smile.

"That way, you don't have to waste the time."

He nodded.

"Ain't wasting my time," he said, reddening even further. "And, uh, since Darrel did apologize, I, um, owe ya."

He was obviously embarrassed, and I wasn't sure why. Or what he supposedly owed me. Then it came to me.

"Oh, shit, man, don't worry about it. He was givin' ya grief just for being nice to me. He was due."

He blinked and furrowed his brow at me.

"Uh, no, I don't mean that. You forgot?"

It was my turn to furrow my brow at him.

He snickered. He turned even redder. He looked at his shoes.

"Dude. You got him to apologize to me. I said if he did, that, I'd... "

"Oh! Shit! No, man. Don't worry about that, either! It was a stupid bet, and I don't expect you to pay it off. You didn't even actually make it, remember? And I didn't take it. So, don't sweat it."

I placed the joint into the long hemostats and lit it.

"Uh, it's not that I don't wanna, or anything, it's just... "

"I said don't bug it," I said around my hit as I passed the joint to him.

After he had taken his hit, and while he released it, he said, "I just don't know if I know how. Or how bad it'd be."

He passed the joint to me without meeting my eyes.

Does he really want to? Is he just worried he be no good at it? Is that all? Geeze. But, do I want him to, now? Should I not do anything with him anymore? I should get farther from him, keep him from the shit he'd get if he was still seen hanging around with me. I don't want him having to put up with all of that. Not when he's been so cool. No way.

"Erich, man. I've been thinking. And I don't think we should even do what we've been doing anymore."

He looked up at me, confused.


"Because you'll just be worried about it. At school, and shit."

His brow furrowed again over his bright gray eyes as I hit the joint.

"Dude. I don't give a shit about that. It don't bother me. If it did, I couldn't of asked you to. Or would'a wanted to stop before. I sure wouldn't of asked if you could still, later, after I can, uh, do it myself."

He held up his gloved hands, grinning slightly.

"Besides, uh, I do wanna, uh, give something back."

His grin told me exactly what he wanted to give back. I snickered. I passed him the joint, wondering if he really did want to give back, or if he only felt that he had to.

I asked, "Are you sure? I mean, you sure don't have to. Not at all."

He took a long, deep hit and held it before he spoke.

"I'm sure. I do. It ain't fair I got so many, and you got nothin'. And, shit, I do really wanna. I, just, it might not be any good."

I held my own deep, long hit before speaking. I was growing very nervous.

"Dude, you can't give a bad one. I mean, you can, but, uh, I won't let ya."

We laughed.

"I'll make sure you don't," I said as he hit the joint.

We finished the joint in silence while I wondered again if he really was Puppy Dog. I had been sure, then unsure, then certain, then fairly sure that he wasn't, then almost certain he was, then very sure he couldn't be. Now, I was wondering again.

I watched him without seeming to stare at him. His grin was cute, his lips red and slightly lush. His mixed blond hair was neater than usual, as he had been maintaining it recently. His bright gray eyes glinted, the pupils seeming to be dark depths to his soul. His nice features were attractive to me, even if some would say he was a geek. His retainer glinted when he smiled. His slightly pale complexion was marred only by his blushing as we passed the joint back and forth.

The joint became a roach. I became very nervous. He fidgeted.

"Will you show me how?" he asked suddenly.

My stomach filled with butterflies. I blushed hotly.

"You're cute when you're embarrassed," he said quietly, looking away.

"You're always cute," I said softly.

He snickered.

"I'll show you what I know. You can ask questions and stuff. Okay?"

He nodded, still blushing and smiling cutely.

"And next time, you can show me what you learned. Okay?"

He nodded.

I knew there would be no next time. I was planning things so that there would be no next time. I was planning things so that he would be free from my stigma.

I walked with him to my bed and we sat down. We were both blushing and grinning. I put my hand on his thigh, as usual. We snickered. I moved my hand to his bulge. We snickered. He was hard. Heat was radiating from him. I felt it move under my hand.

We snickered.

I unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, and he helped me slide them off by raising himself from the bed. The bruises on his thighs were fading, the red welts almost gone. I caressed them, asking if they still hurt. He shrugged. I almost apologized. I wanted to.

I soaked in the sight of him in his white briefs, wanting to remember it. He filled them nicely, certain globular shapes showing well, his hard longness lying along the crevice of his leg and groin, pushing against the leg-band of the briefs. The contours of his head were clear, his foreskin obviously well back despite its usual tendency to cover those edges.

I shook inside, thrilled at the opportunity, and dispirited at the looming loss of it.

I gently slid my fingers behind the waistband and slowly slid his briefs downward as he lifted himself again. Freed, his long hardness rebounded against his belly. I pulled both his shorts and jeans down to his ankles, then off over his feet and then spread his legs apart. I went to my knees between his thighs, closer than ever before, and stroked my hands up his soft, warm thighs, being very gentle near his injuries. He shivered, inhaled and exhaled sharply. My hands moved around his hips to nearly meet at the small of his back.

I watched his long dick throb with his heartbeat the entire time, heard his breaths grow quicker, felt his body shiver softly.

I kissed the very tip of his dick, breathing over it. He moaned almost silently. His balls retracted slightly then dropped again. I licked at the sensitive spot below the tip of his head, then slid my lips onto him. I held to his hips, sliding my mouth further down him. I sucked softly, increasing until I felt his hardness respond with a swelling pulse, then I moved up and down on him.

He leaned backward onto his elbows, pulling his shirt upward. As I knew this would be our last time, I moved my hands onto his belly very near his short and nearly sparse patch of blond hair, then upward, over his belly, over his chest, over his nipples. I felt his breath quicken, his cock harden further between my lips.

I toyed with his nipples, feeling them harden. His legs tried to close, but he held them apart. He hissed his breath through his teeth. He shivered.

I slid upward, sucking slightly harder, stopping with my lips tightly around those soft edges of his head. I tickled his opening with my tongue, flicked across it, around the end, over and under. I used my tongue so much not only because I knew how great it felt for him, but because it also felt great to do. I loved having a dick in my mouth. And using my tongue so much meant I could taste the pre-cum as soon as there was any.

He groaned, slightly louder. His back arched a little. He planted his feet firmly onto the floor.

"Oh, God."

I slid my hands softly down his flanks, stopping at his hips. I slid my mouth off of him, then down the underside, then over his scrotum, and took one of his balls into my mouth. His soft, thin skin allowed me to roll it around, sucking it. He whined, high and short, his back arching again. I switched to the other, moved my hands lower, slipping between him and the bed. He lifted, allowing me the space to cup his buttocks. I kneaded, spread them apart, moved my fingers closer together, into the warmth between.

He shivered again, moaned slightly. I pushed my nose under his sack and my tongue behind it. I licked there, kissed there, nuzzling his balls with my nose. He smelled nice, slightly spicy, slightly musky, clean.

I squeezed his cheeks, my fingers now finding each other, now searching for the target. One found it. I pushed gently, teasing, not trying to enter. It quivered. He tensed. I relented, not wanting to seem to force it if he didn't like it. I circled, tickled, wriggled there, though.

He wriggled on my hands. I licked upward, over his sack, and took both of his balls into my mouth. I loved how they felt, all wrapped in their soft, supple skin. He shivered almost violently, his breath shuddering.

I was rewarded with those signs, enjoying how much pleasure I was giving him. I wanted him to have a glorious remembrance.

I let one and then the other of his globes fall from my mouth after a while, and then nuzzled my way up his shaft. A large drop of pre-cum awaited me there. I slid only my lips over him, sucking it from him, then slid further, sucking slightly harder.

A long vowel escaped his lips, his back arched a little, his legs tried to close. He resisted it all admirably.

I slid up off of him, sucking the entire way.

"Relax, all over. Don't tense up. Just stay loose. So, loose," I directed, my voice soft and gentle.

Toby's lessons were easy to share. I loved sharing him. He seemed to comply. He slowed his breathing with some difficulty.

"Oh, gawd, it's so good," he said softly, almost a whisper.

I kissed between his legs, over his bruises, over the faint welts. He shuddered, his breath shuddering too. I licked each thigh, closer between his legs each time. My hands pushed his cheeks together then pulled them apart. A finger pushed, he didn't tense, so I pushed ever so gently more. It remained there, against him. I slid my mouth over his sack, licking the surface, moving each ball in turn. Then I slid upward to the base of his dick, kissing, sucking the skin, moving ever upward.

I slid my lips over his head again, letting my mouth grow wet, my tongue work his soft, smooth surface, probe into him.

"Oh, shit!" he said huskily.

I probed more, testing. He groaned deeply in his chest. I sucked firmly, pushing my tongue deeply into his opening, pulling out, thrusting it back. He shuddered all over, his breath catching.

"Oh, gawd! That's so awesome!"

I licked around the soft, rounded edges, over the smooth, velvety top, under. Then slid quickly down over him and sucked as I slid back up and off of him.


I blew gently over his head, then placed my lips at his opening and blew there, making the air enter. He shivered and gasped. I blew a bit harder, then suddenly slid my lips over him and sucked. I repeated it. Again. Again.

"Alex! Oh, gawd, oh... fuck!"

His cock jerked and pre-cum surged from the tip. I slid my lips so softly over him and pushed my tongue against the underside, then upward, urging more from him. My hands roamed to his belly and chest, and I pushed him backward onto his back. I tickled down and around to the sides, down the sides of his hips, then to his thighs. I pushed his thighs up until his feet were on the edge of the bed with his knees spread wide.

I stroked his cock as my mouth slid up and down, wetting it thoroughly. Then I stroked his head with my fist, holding his skin back with the other hand. He groaned and pushed with his hips.

"Fucking-A!" he laughed. "Aw-w-w-w-w!"

After a minute, my wet hand slid down between his legs, behind his sack, and toyed with his entry again. I pushed so gently against it. He not only didn't resist, he seemed to welcome it. My first knuckle entered and he went, "Oh!" and grinned. I pushed a little bit more and he grunted slightly and pushed back. The rest of my finger slid into him.

I slid down his cock with my mouth, as far as I could, pushing my nose into this hair.

He pounded the back of his head into the mattress, biting his luscious lower lip, his upper lip pulled tightly to reveal his retainer, his eyes tightly shut. The cords of his neck were tense. His arms pushed against the bed. His legs pushed against the mattress.

I slid up and down on him, trapping his head between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. I moved slowly, sucked firmly. I pushed a little more with my finger, it moved smoothly into him.

"Oh, oh, oh-my-God!"

He trembled strongly.

I pushed my mouth fully over him, the very tip of his cock touching the back of my throat. I pushed my finger further into him, all the way. I found the hard target deep inside.

It pulsed in reaction, he tensed all over. He held his breath. His back arched fully, his ankles popping.

"Oh! I'm... aw-w-w-w-w!"

I felt his cock swell, arch, jump. I felt his cum fire into the back of my throat. His hips pushed in time with his orgasm and his prostate. I pushed back, gently, firmly, trying to stay in time. I swallowed, but it was thick and coming fast.

Another convulsion, a hissing intake of breath between.

I pulled my finger from him. He sat up violently, placing both gloved hands on the back of my head, pushing me down even further onto his throbbing cock as the last of his orgasm raced through him.

"Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Oh-h-h-h-h... ha-a-a-a-a-a!"

He thrust with each convulsion, his cock pulsed and swelled, too. I swallowed and swallowed, and he came and came.

Finally he pulled me off of him, then fell onto his back. His head was purple, his shaft deeply red, all glistening, lying against his short blond bush. His balls quivered in their sack, his legs trembled, his belly shivered with his ragged breath. His face was flushed, only his cheeks and lips red now. His eyes were heavily lidded, barely visible. He panted. Sweat slightly shimmered over his body. His legs fell straight out.

The bitter taste of him filled my mouth as I lay down next to him. I placed a hand over his heart, felt the pounding beat of it.

"Oh... my... God."

He turned to look at me. His gray eyes glowed. He grinned.

He rolled me onto my back, slid my shirt up, and started licking and kissing each nipple in turn.

I was shocked. I hadn't expected that. I almost stopped him.

What the fuck. It's the last time, I thought.

He used his mouth on my nipples for a minute, then kissed down my front, over and around my navel, then he pulled down both my jeans and briefs by pushing his gloved hands between them and me at the waist. As soon as he had them down past my knees, he attacked me.

He licked at my head, finding a large amount of pre-cum there already. He sucked it from me, then slid down. I felt his tongue all over my head, around the tip, into me, under me, over, around again. He sucked, licked, bobbed. His hot mouth devoured me, working hard on every inch of me. I couldn't last long, I knew it. I had been hard and throbbing for the entire time I had pleasured him, and I hadn't expected any return, but he was.

The waves rolled upward and I stretched in pleasure.

I watched his lips slide along me. I wished I could see his face, but only the top of his head and nose, and his lips, were visible. I couldn't believe Erich was blowing me. And doing a decent job of it, too. His luscious lips were wrapped tightly around me, but yielding, too. His tongue was soft and warm and wet, and constantly roving and working every millimeter of my head, especially around and under the edges, then flicking over and into the hole, then back over the top and then bottom.

I felt the pressure growing quickly. When he sucked only my head, his lips sealed around my corona, I felt the wave coming on rapidly. It felt like he was sucking me as hard as anyone had ever done. The waves came faster and got stronger. The tingle began growing into the pulsing tension.

"Oh, oh-shit. Oh, Erich, oh-shit, cumming!"

The tense pleasure roared up from below, pushing powerfully through me. I felt my cock swell in his mouth, then tense and pulse. I came hard. Each contraction seemed to empty my supply, but more came after. I felt the back of his throat on my head, his tongue under it, and even more came. He sucked, licked, swallowed.

"Shit!" I repeated with almost each expulsion, wondering just how much I could produce, finding more was always delivered.

The wonderful waves grew, crested, receded, but only to grow again. I ached. It almost hurt. I arched my back until it could bend no further. I pushed my hips forward until both joints popped.

"Shit!" I cried, then reached out to pull him off of me. "Oh, God, stop!" I begged.

He didn't.

I couldn't stand it. My breath caught, my vision darkened to a tunnel. A long whine escaped from me. I pulled his head away, finally, then I collapsed. I drew breath once again, panting. My vision began to return. I shuddered from toe to head.

Long moments passed before I could think. I blinked, saw him lying next to me, grinning ever so slightly, looking just a tiny bit worried.

"Did I do it okay?"

I laughed. He grinned and blushed.

"You did it way better than okay!"

He turned a darker shade of red and snickered in embarrassment. Once I had gotten us both washed and dressed again, we smoked a joint, grinning and giggling.

"I really did it okay?"

"Geeze, Erich, you did it great!" I said again. "You did fucking great!"

He had been blushing since we had finished and I had first praised his work.

"I just didn't know if I would or not. I was worried I'd mess up."

"You didn't. Okay? That was great!"

"No, you did great! Oh my God! I thought I was gonna end up with nerve damage or something!"

I couldn't help but laugh.

"I'm glad I did okay. I wanted to pay you back, and do it decent."

"You did!"


We smoked in silence for a few hits before he spoke again. When he did, he looked worried.

"I, just, you know that was a one-time thing. Right?"

I nodded. I knew. I had planned for this to be our last, and his incredible surprise performance hadn't changed my mind, only had me regretting even more that it was our last.

"Don't worry, I know."

I smiled for his sake.

"I just, don't want you to be, I don't know, worried about it. Don't want you to feel like you regret it, or anything."

He shook his head.

"Nah, I won't."


I grinned at him again.

"Alex, you know, you're one of the most sincere guys I ever met. You're like, just, so, real. You don't fuck around when it's important, but you're a fucking riot when it's cool to do it. And you're always thinking about what others feel. That's, just so, cool."

I blushed.

"Thanks, man. And, for what it's worth, I think you're a hell of a neat guy. You were worried how I would feel about, stuff, and was careful not to, I dunno, not to let me think things meant something they didn't. You were worried about my feelings. Thanks."

We smoked in silence, and as soon as the joint was done, he had to leave.

"See you Monday morning," he said at the front door, still grinning, still blushing.

I nodded. I knew that I probably wouldn't. Not until second period, when I would tell him that I wouldn't have time in the mornings for the breakfast table next semester. I'd save Erich, even if he didn't know he needed saving. And the others, too.

Too bad we gotta quit. He gave me probably the best blow-job I've ever had. Maybe even better than what Toby did. Or the first time Jeff did. Man! I wish he was gay. If Erich was Puppy Dog, I think I'd be cool with kissing him. I don't love him, not much, if anything more than as a good friend. Sex with him is nothing like with Toby, or with Jeff for a while, but it was sure fun to play with him and his nice, long dick. Shaped so nice, too. And his cool balls. He's got a great body. And I loved doing that to - for - him, but it don't have any emotion. No... love? Just sex for fun. Like with Tom, and the twins, and Eric...

Eric. No, don't. Just don't.

Erich. His nice body, nice cock, balls, too. Think about that. Yeah, that.

Ha. Two Eric's, kinda. Both leaving. Geeze, damned coincidences.

I plodded upstairs to get cleaned up for dinner. The shower was even more difficult than the one in the morning had been. I sat and dried off, nearly panting. I lay down on the bed. I was still exhausted, and was now relaxed. I closed my eyes.


"Sure," I said, leaning forward, moving the medallion aside, grabbing the ignition key, and pumping the pedal once.

No! Damn it, no!

The engine turned for several seconds, almost catching, but not quite.

"Yeah. Old Chevy... " Dad began.

Jeff and Trey there, grinning. Eric scowling.


"Are you asleep, son?"

What? Asleep? Why would he ask me that?

"Son? Alex? You okay?"

"NO! How can I be!"

"Alex! Wake up, son!"

"Run, Dad!"

"Alex Raymond!"


I sat up.

Dad was leaning over me, I was in my bed, in my room. This change in the dream was vivid, realistic.

"Son? Are you okay?"

I nodded, suddenly unsure of where I was.

Am I dreaming this? Am I awake? I feel like it's real, not a dream, but I feel so asleep, too.

"I guess you were having a nightmare. You okay?"

He sat on the bed next to me. I put my hand on his. He felt real.

His arms were bare of hair, his head had only stubble on it. His face wore a look of concern.

"Alex, son, are you okay?"

I nodded again. I wiped a slight sheen of sweat from my forehead.

"Nightmare, I guess. Must be the finals catching up on me."

Good cover! I congratulated myself.

He nodded.

"Well, they're over now. You must be pretty worn out. You feeling okay now?"

He still looked concerned. I suddenly realized that my hand was still over his. I removed it.

I nodded.

"Yeah. Guess I missed a lot of sleep."

"You were up late almost every night."

He put the back of his hand on my forehead for a moment, then placed his hand on my shoulder.

"You don't seem to be sick. Do you feel okay?"

I nodded.

"Don't think I'm sick. Just tired. I laid down, and guess I fell asleep is all. I'll be okay."

I gave him a smile.

He nodded.

"Well, come downstairs. Dinner is ready."

I nodded and followed him after taking one of Erich's speeders. I had a small appetite, so I managed to get most of my plate down myself before I had to force the rest in. I knew not to leave anything on my plate.

"Now that your final exams are over for the semester, I expect you to have a better appetite," Mom said.

"You haven't gained much, if any, weight," Dad followed up.

I nodded.

"Your doctor wants to see a real weight gain, and so do we," Mom nagged

I nodded. I didn't want dessert, but I got it down. We rinsed dishes and stacked them in the washer. I looked at Dad. He squinted back at me. I grinned. He handed me the keys and went to get his coat. I went upstairs and grabbed my coat and then nearly jogged back downstairs.

"Can we expect you back tonight? Or is the Circle meeting at the twins' tonight?" Mom asked.

I blinked.

No school tomorrow, dumb-ass! I held up a finger and ran back upstairs. I grabbed the rest of the dwindling weed and more papers, packed my pack with clean clothes and other overnight necessities for the weekend, then ran, though more slowly, back downstairs. I was completely out of breath as I held up my pack.

"Well, you seem to be getting some energy back, finally," Dad said when I arrived in the kitchen.

I was breathless, but I realized that I had run upstairs and back down again.

I grinned, still panting.

"Well, call when you're ready to come home," she said. "We might be out shopping, so you might have to call back."

"I can get... a ride," I said between breaths.

"You can still call and let us know," she said firmly.

I nodded and turned toward the garage.

"Have fun!" she said with a wave.

I smiled and waved back.

The drive was fun, and Dad complimented my driving several times. My mood was far better than usual, I noticed as I parked behind the twins' house. All the other guys' cars were there, so I assumed they were all already waiting on me.

"Don't forget to call and let us know what you're doing," he reminded me as I unbuckled the seat belt.

I promised that I would, grabbed my bag, and jumped out of the car. I waved as he scooted over to the driver's seat, and then I turned toward the mansion. Upstairs, they were practicing already. I took a seat on the couch, was passed an already burning joint, was waved at by everyone.

"Since our other keyboardist decided to join us today, after all, how about we get started on Paradise Theater?"

"Yeah, I decided you guys deserved at least one more practice with a professional," I said as I walked to the Oberheim.

Several of them went, "Ooooo!" in response.

"Oh, great, we're giving him a big head," Kevin said.

Several jokes came immediately to mind, but this wasn't the Circle, so I bit them down. I subconsciously glanced at the twins, and it was obvious they had done much the same thing. I wondered if they could have kept quiet if they knew about Erich. I powered up the keyboard and hit the proper presets.

"What's with the grin?" Kevin asked at me.

"So glad finals are over! I can't live that double life for long."

"Yeah, now we can concentrate on what's important. Music."

Everyone readied, Bill alone on the couch. He didn't seem to mind, even looked ready to enjoy himself, a joint in one hand, soda in the other.

Kevin counted, I hit the chord, Kevin sang. I made the Oberheim sing the refrain with my other hand. I hit the closing chord. Kevin raised an arm, brought it down. Everyone jumped in.

The song came to an end, and Kevin asked Bill, "How'd that sound?"

He was grinning as he nodded and said, "Awesome, guys. Awesome."

"Okay, Too Much," Kevin said, then counted.

We played through the entire album with only a brief pause in the middle. We refreshed our buzzes, satisfied our thirsts, and rested. I sneaked into the bathroom for some coke with some of the guys. I knew David didn't like that I did, but I liked the rush and the sense of belonging as we took turns. And I needed the energy.

The rest of the album was as much fun and sounded as good as the first. By the end, I was feeling as if I could play it in front of others.

"Okay, guys, soon we'll be rockin' the student union!" Kevin declared.

They cheered. I grinned. So did David. Brent and Ryan rolled on the drums.

We're really going to do it! I thought, and for the first time, without so much dread and fear. I was almost looking forward to it.

We took a break for more smoke, fresh drinks, and lines. Then we practiced the usual songs, including "Cold As Ice." I was getting smooth at it, and David was sounding good on the synthesizer sections.

We took another break, during which they all decided that a late raid on the kitchen was in order. As they left, I wanted to do something alone.

"Not coming again?" David asked from the door, the twins alongside of him.

"Nah. Gonna work on the fiddly bits," I said, using one of his phrases before I realized it.

They didn't seem to have noticed, and left me alone with the Oberheim.

We had practiced Paradise Theater, and "Cold As Ice," as well as quite a lot of other Styx songs. I didn't want to go over the same songs again, so I messed around with several other songs. They didn't satisfy. I found myself playing the beginning of "Tainted Love," and thinking of Toby.

The thoughts of him didn't hurt and were almost comforting now. I knew that he was safe and happy. I knew that he could check in on me whenever he wanted to do so. I knew it wouldn't be possible for me to visit him again, not without some extreme circumstances. I had used all my visits up in one go, because I'd had to know. I had found out.

I played "Tainted Love," but it still hurt deeply. It was Jeff. I thought of what would become of us. We had moved apart - it was obvious that we had already spent the last times together. I knew I wasn't over him, not entirely, not yet. I sensed more yet to come.

Toby. I could feel him there, and I could feel his thoughts aimed at me. He was doing what he had told me was all he could do for those he watched over; he was sending me his thoughts, influencing my own, hoping to help. He was warning me that there was more to come, but it would pass, and I would be better for it.

I grinned, accepted his counsel, thanked him. I thanked him by playing the song as well as I could. I sang it, too. Full-throated and at full volume. I gave it to Toby, hoping that he would enjoy it.

I played the longer version, with the remixed "Where Did Our Love Go," played in almost playful tones.

Our love was gone.

The joy I had during the song, giving it to Toby, was gone, too. Loss and sadness over Jeff came, filling me up. Anger, too.

I vented that anger. I switched to "Jeopardy," hurling the lyrics out with vehemence. I blamed Jeff for my pain, and I declared it so with my voice, with my hands, with the music.

The song ended, but my anger remained. It no longer burned, but simmered. I could put a lid on it for now.

My fingers ached. My temple throbbed. I wiped at my wet eyes, sniffled, said, "Fuck it!" and stormed to my pack. I rolled an enormous joint and huffed it quickly. I knew that when they came back, they would smoke for dessert, but I wanted - needed - the buzz then and now.

I tried not to think of Jeff, but it was impossible. Only when I switched to thinking of Tom did I stop thinking of Jeff. I wondered how long the parting with Tom would stretch out, how long I would be tortured by it. I wondered if there was some way to hasten it, to end it quickly. I began trying to find a way to do so when I saw the first of them coming up the stairs at the end of the massively long hall.

The joint had burned away minutes ago. I was thirsty, and had forgotten to ask David or one of the twins to bring something back to drink. I saw that they all held more than one soda. I figured that I could beg one away from someone. I didn't have to.

David handed me one of the Cokes he carried with a smile. I nodded thanks and drank deeply. I sat on the couch, David sat next to me, Ryan to my other side, his brother on his other side. The usual normal.

We smoked, I slunk into the bathroom for a line, we returned to practice. The lineup for tomorrow night was mostly standard rock, little piano, the only synthesizer was effects. Except for "Cold As Ice," which I was playing the harder piano part of. Kevin and the guys were all looking forward to playing it tomorrow night. We practiced it several times.

We went through almost the entire Foreigner library. I needed to learn many, brush up on several that I had learned previously. They knew the songs well, having played them with their other keyboardist. I wondered if Erich was their keyboardist, because he wasn't a big fan of that type of music.

Well after midnight, Kevin called an end to practice. The equipment was left as it was, the guys having agreed to return for practice again tomorrow at noon. They grabbed their instruments and a few things and then were ready to leave. The activity reminded me of something. Two somethings.

"Hey, guys, can I stay tonight?" I asked, looking at them.

"Sure," Ryan said as if I'd asked if it was okay to breathe the air in their house.

"Yeah, we can play some oldies, like we used to," Brent said with a wide grin.

He had always loved the old rock and roll songs, even more than his brother. For the first second I almost felt that I didn't want to, but that changed quickly and I was looking forward to it. I nodded.

One down, one to go, I thought, getting up from the couch.

"Hey, Kev. Uh, can you pick me up after school on Monday and bring me here the rest of the week?"

"Sure," he said without looking up from the wire he was rolling around his elbow and wrist. "Other ride back out or somethin'?"

"Nah. Just easier and quicker to get here. If it's okay with you."

"No prob," he said with a smile. "Save us over an hour of practice time."

I had always thought he was sort of cute, but right then, I was almost struck by him. He hadn't changed anything, his hair was still the same, his clothes weren't different in any real way, nothing about him varied from the same old Kevin, but he looked hotter. I shook the feeling off internally, hoping that I didn't show anything externally.

I nodded, said, "Thanks."

"You lookin' forward to tomorrow night?"

I wasn't sure, but I thought so. I said so.

"Just remember, it's the same as practice. One or a hundred or a thousand. It's all the same."

His nod and crooked grin made me feel better. I wished I shared his certainty.

"Need a ride home?"

"Nah, all covered," I lied.

"Well, this is the last thing I wanna take, so, I'm out," he said, guitar over his back and the box of wires in his free hand.

I watched him walk away, looking where I shouldn't have been looking.

When I sat down again, Brent teased, "Uh-oh, Alex is on the prowl."

I reached around his brother and slapped him on the chest, firmly. It made a nice, resounding thud, and he grunted a satisfying, "Ooof!"

Ryan snickered, covered his mouth quickly, eyes sparkling.

"Wanna ask David if he can stay?" Ryan asked, still behind his hand.

I gave him such an evil eye that he bobbed his head backward on his neck in surprise. He shrugged a wordless apology.

They all said their goodnights and waved on the way out of the doors. In seconds, the twins suggested we play some Jan and Dean. It had been even longer since we had played those oldies, but I was forced to relent to Brent's begging eyes. I almost reminded him of what I'd had to blackmail him with to get him to first start playing those older songs. I thought better of it and didn't.

My new voice hardly worked well for many of them, but the twins could fill in where I could no longer. They were all good mood songs, upbeat and fun. The twins were full of energy and kept me occupied and active, and prodded me onward, song after song, joint after joint.

I fell into a rare good mood, one I hadn't felt for many long months. I had forgotten that feeling. Part of it only came while making music, and it was impossible to reproduce with any other activity. We sang those simple old songs, just as we had the previous year.

We also played some of the songs from Paradise Theater, the ones we'd usually played together before.

When the twins finally had to stop, or risk one or both arms simply falling off, we put the music aside. It was after three o'clock.

We moved to the entertainment room and watched "Airplane 2." It wasn't as funny as the first, but was still good. I wondered if Dad would want to smoke a joint together and watch it. I couldn't borrow the twins' laser disc, as I only had a VHS player. I knew I could probably talk Dad into buying the tape, if it wasn't one that was available for rental yet. With the movie companies suing to stop movie rentals, and legislation still in Congress to make it illegal to do so, I wondered if buying movies on VHS, Betamax, or LaserDisc would be the only choice in the future.

I was laughing at the ending of the movie when I noticed that I was doing so alone. Each twin was leaning on an end of the couch, asleep. It was after four, but I wasn't sleepy. I knew that I could probably lay down and sleep, but I did not want to. I did not want to dream.

I rolled a joint and smoked it alone, sitting between Ryan and Brent. They stirred from time to time, obviously not comfortable. I thought about waking them up and having them move to their beds so they could sleep better. I thought about not waking them up, and groping them. I thought about waking up Ryan and inviting him to his room, to be together again. I wondered why we couldn't again, or so he had said. He hadn't made a single comment or other hint about messing around all night, so I hadn't either. I thought about watching another movie. I thought about playing some more music.

I smoked the joint to ashes and then got out the cocaine.

Eventually, I thought about Jeff. And Tom. And Eric. And the death of the Circle. And Erich. And Trey. And being gay alone. And lying to Mom and Dad. And ending up cracking up. That worry, that I was close to some sort of mental breakdown, had been growing for days now. It loomed larger with each passing day, every new horror.

I thought of one of the newest worries; Darrel Myers. I remembered the conversation with him, and how he had said he admired Erich for walking in the halls with me. I felt good about his comment that I had good friends.

I thought of how Jeff and Tom weren't such good friends, because they couldn't stand being seen at the same table with me in the mornings.

Holy shit! I thought suddenly. Jeff really is a fucking pussy! We've known each other better and as long as I've known Erich, and he can't handle just being around Tom with me! But Erich is cool with me carrying his fucking books in the halls at school! And he's not even gay!

Or, is he? Is he Puppy Dog? Is he gay? He says not. But he could just be too shy to admit it? Even to me? Or himself?

But that's just that. The shocker is how wimpy Jeff is. He wants to be such a big-shot, and so butch, and macho, but he's not. He's a coward. No wonder I don't care about him so much anymore. I... don't love him. Not like I used to. Not like that. I really wish he would at least call me, or something. Or find me at school and say hi. But he won't. He was all shook up when I did that to him.

We're done, even as friends, I thought with profound sadness.

That knowledge was now accepted, and it hurt. I knew that I could allow myself to cry easily, but I didn't want that. I was already the stronger of the two of us, so I didn't care to cry over losing him. Not right then, anyway.

I wondered why he had begun showing up in the nightmare. And Eric, and Trey. I thought about the books on dreams. There were in my pack, and I got up and got them. I read through most of one, making notes, before darkness came.

And in that darkness, the smell of gasoline.

"Sure," I said, leaning forward, moving the medallion aside, grabbing the ignition key, and pumping the pedal once.


The engine turned for several seconds, almost catching, but not quite.

"Yeah. Old Chevy... " Dad began.

Jeff, Trey, and Eric grinned in anticipation, as always. I knew I was fated to relive it over and over, the three of them always there, watching, enjoying the spectacle. As always.

"See if you can pop that hatch cover, will ya, son?"

The van shook with my efforts.

Dad asked me to try starting it again.

Erich, naked, confused, worried, scared, seeing me, then running to help. As always.

I joked about having not started the van before. Dad grinned playfully. Jeff and Trey said, "Too bad." Erich struggled to open the door, to get to me. He looked terrified.

I moved aside the medallion and then turned the key. Dad called for another pump of the accelerator. The engine caught with a pop.

Please, Erich, RUN!

He opened the door of the van. I wanted to grasp his outstretched hand. The starter whined, the engine coughed and sputtered.

Another, louder pop, then a loud, whooshing boom, an orange light. I was knocked against the van door, the side of my head hitting the pillar.

Everything went fuzzy, wobbly, blurred. Dad yelled my name in horror. Jeff and Trey called my name mockingly, laughing together. Erich called my name, full of horror and fear and agony.

Flames on the dashboard. Heat. Smoke. Fear. Flames on Erich. Eric running away.

Erich yelled at me to take his hand. The gloves were burning. I saw the skin of his arms blistering, the agony on his face. Trey and Jeff shoved him into the van.

"Here, have him," they said together.

They slammed the door shut.

I opened the driver's door, but Jeff was there, holding it closed.

"You'll let Toby fuck you, Tom, too, even Ryan, but not me! You even think about letting Erich! Who do you love?"

Trey held the other door against Erich's frantic attempts as he burned with me.

"You want him? You can have him," Trey said said to one or both of us.

No, please, I pleaded weakly

Erich began screaming as his skin reddened, blistered, split open.

No! Let him go!

I coughed uncontrollably, painfully. My eyes stung, watered, refused to close, focused on Erich's agony. I couldn't breathe.

Dad's voice calling my name again. Trey laughing from the passenger door, visible through the flames raging upward from the seat, from the upholstery, from Erich.

Jeff laughing from the near door, holding it closed.

"Yeah! Take it bitch! How you like that? Huh? Take it!"

Erich wailing in agony, curling into a ball, his burning skin and muscle hissing and popping.

The smoke increased. The heat increased. My fear increased. Erich's wails increased.

I shoved my face out the partially open window, Jeff pushed me back in.

"I said, take it like a man!"

I saw two bodies being pulled from the van, our wailing parents held back by police, Jeff and Trey smiling, laughing, high-fiving.

Panic. Flames. Heat. Smoke. Fear. Their laughter. His dying wails of agony.

Agonizing coughing. Struggling for air, just one breath of clean air. My heart pounded against my ribs. I pushed against Jeff, but he kept pushing me back inside the window, laughing at me, joining Trey in that horrifying, dreadful laughter. Erich sighed pitiably, wetly, then was silent, still.

The pain in my temple flared with each cough. The familiar dizziness came.

I blamed God. I worried about not being with Toby in the afterlife. I was grief-stricken that Jeff and Trey wanted me to burn, that Eric could only walk away, and at Erich's death for wanting to help me.

The heat, the pain, the horrible suffocation, the laughter, the feeling of abandonment, the guilt and remorse.

All of it fading, but clearly Jeff saying, "Now I can play ball!" and Trey, "You loved me before you even knew Jeff existed."

Then only my thoughts, my fears, my stuttering heartbeat.

Then they grew dim, hazy, irregular, then ceased.

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The Circle parts I and 2 are now available as EPUB/Kindle/PDF at my website here.
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