Author's Introductory Notes:

Thank you for all the emails, guys. About the only way a writer can tell if people are reading his stories on Nifty is if they send emails. They are very encouraging.

Up front, I should warn you guys that this chapter has little sex and is long on plot and character development. Hey, I am trying to work on my writing skills. Don't worry. The story will heat up again soon. I've always been surprised how, as I write, characters tend to take on a life of their own. Mix a bunch of gay teenage characters together in a story and they do tend to take off. (Does that sound weird? The experience sometimes is.)

A couple of you have asked where you can find other stories of mine. I always have mixed feelings about answering that. Some of my early stories on Nifty were pretty damn bad. I was so excited to be writing that I was posting first drafts and quickly moving on to the next story. It wasn't until my story Sea Change that I began to slow down, and even then, the earlier chapters especially have typos and erros. (I plan to repost an edited and revised Sea Change after I finish this story.) I would pull those earlier stories from Nifty, but Nifty likes to keep them in the archives to show a writer's "evolution."--we're talking from the protazoa stage here.

You can find my stories in my area of the Prolific Authors section on Nifty, under Josh BtomandBack. I'd ask you not to read some of them, but if I gave you the names, you guys would read them. So I'll just say that Boys Town, Brother Sandwich, The Touch, and Sea Change are passable; don't waste your time on the others.

With this chapter, as with the first, I retain rights, but am willing for anyone to post or publish it who wishes to do so at no charge to the reader.

Hope you enjoy this chapter...Josh


CHAPTER 2-- Mentors

The summer before high school was the first summer since we had met that I didn’t spend most of my time with Davey. In fact, I hardly saw him.

One reason was that in order to move on to high school with the rest of us, Davey had to go to summer school. Since he rode his bike to and from school on his own, I didn’t see him during the day. Another reason was that my dad’s parents, my Bentolli grandparents, sent me plane tickets to come to Chicago for a month stay after the fourth of July. And a final reason was that Davey was to visit his granddad in Houston the first two weeks in August.

During the daytimes in June, I stayed busy. I took a life saving/guarding course at the local pool. I ran. I even painted a couple of rooms in the house for Mom.

Oh, I still saw Davey, at least before I left for Chicago. Our moms continued to get together most Saturday nights for “Family Dinner.” I saved mowing jobs for Saturdays and Sundays so Davey could help me and earn money too. The point is that other than occasional sleep-overs when Maggie had a date (for which Davey always slept on his bedroll), we weren’t alone together often or for long. That doesn’t mean I didn’t think of Davey and the things we did the previous summer…I thought of them a lot.

Whenever I jerked off, or lay on my bed at night, teasing my straining cock with soft strokes of my finger tips, it was Davey who filled my imagination; Davey and the “rubbing” we had done.

Davey was growing fast, becoming taller and better looking every day. When we were together, I tried not to stare, but then he would stand or walk or sit or lie down or simply breathe and the movement of his slender body or the fall of his hair or the line of his back or the curve of his butt would draw my gaze like a bird to its roost. I tried not to stare at his crotch, but it seduced my eye from even the best book or TV show, and suddenly I would find my eyes searching the bulge in his shorts for outlines of what I knew was hidden, what I remembered had been pressed to me the summer before. I never quit wanting Davey. And I never stopped loving him.

When I put an arm over his shoulder, when we joked and poked at each other, when he turned those blue eyes on me, I wanted so badly to pull him to me, hold him close to me, press my lips to his, and never let go. To my uninformed imagination pressing naked bodies with Davey was the ultimate sexual fantasy and I craved him.

At the beginning of summer, I wrote secret poems about Davey. I could do a stanza at a time just on his brow or his nose or the way the curve of his ear drew the eye down to the warm skin of his neck. I could write whole poems on the redness of his lips, or the fall of his fine, almost white hair, or on the nape of his strong neck, the planes of his smooth cheeks, or the way the hollow of his throat beckoned to my lips. And volumes, whole volumes I could write on those eyes; wide-set, clear blue, under flawless brows, those long, thick eye lashes, the way Davey could make a glance as warm as a hug. Yet were I the creator of all words and thoughts, I would still be unable to put Davey’s smile into a thousand of them, or write of the grace of his gentle spirit, or tell how his presence drew out all that was life in me. I turned fourteen that summer; loving Davey was life to me.

I tried putting what I wrote to music and spent at least a couple of hours each day playing my guitar. When Davey was around, he would sit near me and play with toys or look at books while I cradled the guitar he had given me, and I would play for him. I would watch him as I strummed the songs I’d written for him, never singing the words except in my mind.

Reluctantly, I realized that my poems and songs only worked up and frustrated my feelings for Davey. I decided that if I continued writing them, I might end up doing something I would later regret. So Saturday, July Fifth, I burned my poems in the back yard, and I buried my love for Davey way down in my heart.

That night at ‘Family Dinner,’ Maggie had good news. “I’ve got a new job...police dispatcher.”

“That’s wonderful, Maggie,” Mom said, and I seconded, “Congratulations.”

“I’ll have thirty days of training before I start. I was a little worried about what schedule they would give me, but they’ve promised me daytime.”

Mom and Maggie began talking about the new job so I took Davey to my room, where I needed to finish packing for my trip to Chicago the next morning. Davey sat on the bed next to my open suitcase. “Are you happy, Mickey?”

“About my trip? Yeah, I guess. But I’m a little nervous. I haven’t seen my grandparents since I was a little kid. I’ve seen pictures of them, but I don’t really know them. It’s like going to spend a month with strangers.”

“You’ll like them.”

“You think?”

“Uh, huh,” Davey smiled at me.

I sat down on the bed next to him and put my arm over his shoulder. “I’m going to miss you, Davey.”

“I’m going to miss you, too, Mickey.”

His face was close to mine. I took my arm off his shoulder and brushed his hair back over his ear. “You stay away from bullies, OK.”

“Sure,” he grinned.

“The longest we’ve ever been apart has only been a week.” I rubbed his back, “Are you going to forget me?”

“Noooo!” Davey said, and then looked at me in alarm. “Are you forget me?”

I chuckled and put my forehead to the side of his head, “Not a chance. I’d never forget you and you know it.”

He threw his arms around me and I hugged him back. Softly, I said into his ear, “I love you, Davey.”

“I love you, too...Mickey.”

He felt good in my arms; the smell of his hair brought back memories. I squeezed him, and then got up. “Guess I better finish packing.”

I shouldn’t have worried about recognizing my grandparents. Mom had sent them my picture and as soon as I walked through the gate, a fat lady pounced on me and wet my face with sloppy kisses, all while unleashing a totally incomprehensible stream of English/Italian. I assumed I had met Mama Bentolli. Grandpa Bentolli was a tall, thin man with large, strong hands and a gentle smile, salt and pepper hair, and bushy eyebrows. He shook my hand and clapped my back. He smelled of cigars.

O’Hare is quite an adventure after San Antonio’s little airport, but I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it as Mama Bentolli kept up a steady patter. There wasn’t much to Mama Bentolli, but she could spend forever telling you about it. By the time we reached baggage claim, I had been briefed on the entire extended Bentolli family in Chicago, my itinerary for the next month, every illness Mama Bentolli had in the last year, the current state of her arthritis, and her secret to great garlic butter. Grandpa seemed the silent type.

That is until the next day when he took me walking. Once Grandpa was away from Mama Bentolli, I was surprised how much he talked. But his conversation was slow and thoughtful. He knew how to make you listen.

Grandpa and I walked to a small park that wasn’t much more than a fountain. He sat on a bench while I went to the fountain and ran my fingers through the water. The sky was a high blue and clear. Cool air off the lake puffed occasionally through the hotter air that rose from the side walks and city streets. I scooped up some water and wiped it across my brow. I felt Grandpa’s eyes on me and walked back toward him. He wiped his eyes as I approached and I wondered if he had been crying.

“Grandpa?” I asked as I sat next to him. “You OK?”

Grandpa patted my leg and looked away. In a gruff voice, he said, “Yeah, Mickey. I’m fine.” He wiped his eyes with his other hand and then turned back to me, blinking, and smiled. “You remind me of your father. When you scooped water onto your face from the fountain just now, you did it exactly the way he use to do.”

Grandpa’s eyes beamed on me and filled with tears once more; he turned away. I put my hand on his back and patted. Without turning to me, he reached out and put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me to his side. His clothing smelled of cigars, old spice, and flannel. I sat quietly and felt his chest heave.

With my head pressed to Grandpa’s chest, I couldn’t see his face, but felt him calm after a moment and then he said as he continued to hold me. “I’m sorry, Mickey. I guess there are some things a man never gets over.” He sighed. “I still think of your dad almost every day. And I miss him, Mickey…so…much…” His chest heaved again and he pulled me tighter. I put my arms around him and hugged back.

Pigeons landed and flew away. From the street, cars honked and people yelled to each other, a couple walked past us. Grandpa finally loosened his grip on me and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. I sat back up beside him and he patted my thigh as he dabbed his eyes. “Tell me about yourself, Mickey. Tell me about your school and your hobbies. Your mom says you like to run.”

So I told Grandpa about the things in my life. He asked questions and listened carefully. I had never had an adult simply sit and ask me all about myself.

“You are very blessed, Mickey, to have a best friend like Davey. He sounds like a very good friend,” Grandpa observed.

“The best,” I answered, a little embarrassed to realize that I just talked quite a bit about Davey.

“You two sound like me and my younger brother growing up together. Did you know that my younger brother, Michael, is who your dad was named after?”

“No,” I said. “Does he live in Chicago?” I thought I would like to meet him.

“No. He died in World War Two.”

“I’m sorry.”

He smiled at me. “Sometimes this is a very sad world, Mickey.” He stood up. “But not today. Today the weather is grand and I have my tall, handsome grandson with me.” He grinned as I stood up, “Come. I have people in the neighborhood I want to show you off too.”

But before he had taken a step, he stopped, turned to face me, and held out his hand. “Shake my hand.” I looked up at him, puzzled. He repeated, “Shake my hand.”

I took his hand and he said, “That’s how you shook my hand yesterday, Mickey. Like a dead fish. That’s no handshake,” he smiled. “If you’re going to meet my friends, you’re going to learn how a man shakes hands. Now grip my hand firmly, look me in the eye, and give a firm shake or two…no, don’t jerk it. Just a little shake. There you go. Now again.” He dropped his hand and raised it again. I grabbed it firmly, looked him in the eye and shook. “Excellent,” he said. I grinned and thought that I would teach Davey to shake hands when I got home; and then I thought how I would like to simply hold Davey’s hand.

As we walked away, Grandpa asked, “Have you ever seen a baseball game? A pro baseball game?”

The next day I met the family of my Dad’s older brother. His two sons were off at work, but his daughter, who was sixteen, was home watching TV when we walked in. She didn’t even look up until Mama Bentolli, cleared her throat and said, “Rachel!”

Rachel was a little plump, but attractive with shiny long black hair and creamy skin. She looked up at Mama Bentolli, then saw me and her eyes literally drank me in. I felt like I was being strip searched. Mama B. said, “This is your cousin, Mickey, Rachel.”

“You didn’t tell me he was so cute, Grandma.” She smiled at me.

“All the Bentollis are handsome men, Rachel. You know that,” Mama Bentolli chided. “Where is your mother?”

“In the kitchen,” Rachel gave me a coquettish smile, patted the couch seat beside her, and said to me, “Why don’t you sit down Mickey?”

“No he won’t,” Mama Bentolli said. “He’s going to meet your mamma.” Mama Bentolli took me by the hand and headed farther into the house. I felt like a fly that had been saved from a spider. That feeling of spider and fly would increase each time I was with Rachel’s family.

Late Saturday afternoon, Grandpa announced that we were going to go to confession to be ready for mass the next day. “We don’t go to mass,” I told him.

He looked down at me and said simply, “You stay at my house; you go to mass.”

I bit my lip. “Grandpa, I’ not a Catholic. I never had any instruction or taken communion.”

He was appalled. “I’ll talk to Father Richard and see what we can do while you are here. You were christened. You are Catholic. They don’t do much instruction these days anyway. Not since Vatican II.”

“Grandpa, I’ll go to church with you while I’m here, but nothing else. No classes. Nothing like that. That’s not what I came to Chicago for.”

He sized me up, considered, and then shrugged, “OK, Mickey. Alright. But I am going to talk to your mother. It is not right that you cannot take mass. A man needs to be right with God.”

Great, that was all I needed, a little more guilt. I decided to let Grandpa and Mom fight that one out. I’d fight Mom if I had to.

That night, it being Saturday, Mom called. I talked to her and Maggie, and I talked a long time to Davey. When I told him about going to a ball game, I promised him that sometime I would take him to one.

The next morning, Grandpa woke me. I really wanted to stay in bed; I hadn’t been to mass in years. In the shower, I considered the question, “Would I be more comfortable meeting hostile extraterrestrials or going to mass?”

When I stepped from the shower, there was a knock at the bathroom door. I wrapped a towel around my waist and opened the door. Grandpa came in wearing boxers and a sleeveless undershirt and carrying a razor and shave cream. “Have you learned to shave yet, Mickey?”

I shook my head, not sure I wanted to learn to shave.

“I didn’t think so, because of that peach fuzz growing down from your sideburns. You don’t really need to shave yet, but I’m going to teach you so you know how when the time when you need to shave for a date.” He winked at me. “Come over to the sink here.” Grandpa turned on the hot water.

“Now get your face wet with the hot water. It should be hot, but not too hot.” I did. “Hold out your hand.” I held it out and he squirted shave cream onto my palm. “Now spread that over your beard…um, your face.”

As I held the shave cream and thought about where to spread it, Grandpa rinsed the razor and stepped behind me. We looked at each other in the mirror and both pausedt. I wondered if he saw it too. The reflection might have been an artist’s conception of the same man as a boy and as an old man. Oh, my black hair hung down all thick and stringy from the shower. And standing next to Grandpa, it came home to me that I still looked more like a boy than a youth. I would always look young for my age.

But the long, tapering necks were the same. The short oval shape of our faces was the same. And the large eyes; the eyes were the same, wide set over high cheek bones; mine clear and bright, while his were wrinkled and a little sad. A smile slowly spread across his face, followed by a smile slowly spreading across mine. I applied the lather.

Clearing his throat, he said, “Now when you shave, don’t shave against the grain like guys do when they try to get a really smooth shave. With razors these days, you’ll get as smooth a shave going with the grain and you won’t irritate your skin. You see a guy with a red face; he’s shaving wrong. Here, I’ll show you.” Grandpa demonstrated under my right sideburn. The razor didn’t hurt at all and I liked him standing behind me, shaving me. Later, I realized I had something else to teach Davey.

I decided that Grandpa must have talked to the priest. We sat on the aisle at mass and when the priest walked out the aisle afterward, I got a heavier than normal dose of holy water, and a smile.

That afternoon, after a big family dinner at Mama Bentolli’s table, I left with my uncle’s family for a week of camping in Wisconsin. I rode on one end of the back seat of their van, Rachel sat in the middle, and my seventeen year old cousin, David sat on the other side. Casually, subtly, Rachel began to touch me as she talked. By the time we got to the campgrounds, she had touched me almost everywhere except my crotch and I only saved that by keeping my hands over it.

She almost spoiled the drive. I was fascinated by the pines, towering over a thick undergrowth of ferns. The way sunlight came down in scattered rays to fall in golden pools among the ferns called to my spirit to leave the car and in my imagination, I splashed through those golden ferns. Davey was with me and we ran naked, hand in hand, the ferns brushing our legs. His smile seemed so natural there.

Over the road, the sky was deep blew, dotted with high, cotton puff clouds. The air in the car was warm, but when I cracked my window, the air outside was cool, and smelled of evergreen woods.

Once we got to the campgrounds and had the tents up, we changed to our swim suits. I changed with David and saw that ample endowment was evidently a Bentolli trait.

Rachel was one of those girls who was too plump for a bikini and didn’t know it. As I stepped from the tent, she walked past in a way that I was sure was meant to be seductive. Instead, I thought of the Muppet show and the skit, “Pigs in Space” and I thought “Pigs in Heat,” and chuckled to myself as I realized that Rachel reminded me of Miss Piggy. She smiled back and I worried that Miss Piggy might think of me as Kermie.

The next couple of days, I lost track of how many times Rachel groped me (yeah, she got to my crotch when I wasn’t expecting it) or backed into me or sat in my lap uninvited. She kept calling me her “cute little cousin," and her family seemed to think it was all innocent. Well, I am a boy and all the wiring works. She started getting me hard and she knew it. Believe me; she knew it.

But in moments away from her, I enjoyed the woods and the blue lake. I spent a bit of time alone, just thinking. And only sometimes about Davey. Twice, when I was away from everyone, I pulled down my suit to enjoy a JO in the great out doors and I didn’t even think of Davey then. Instead, I concentrated on the feelings, the breeze on my balls, and the thrill of being "au natural."

One afternoon Rachel woke me from a nap, “Come on, Mickey. The guys are going hiking and David said to bring you. I got up groggily and put on my shoes and followed her into the woods. When we were well back in them, she turned on me and had her hand in my pants before I could say, “Gee!” and my pants off before I could say, “Whiz!” She backed me to a tree and kissed me while rubbing my privates with her hand. When I got hard, she said breathily, “I thought so. I knew you were hung, you fuckin little stud.” She kissed me again and then stepped away and began to “seductively” remove her bikini. I almost went soft as I watched. But I stroked and kept it up. When she lay down on her back and spread her legs, I knelt between them and tried to figure out where to “put it.”

Leaning forward, I poked a couple of places with my cock, and then Rachel reached down to guide me in. There was no denying that the long, slow entry into that wet warmth felt incredible. But next thing I knew, she had me all wrapped up and she was the one doing the screwing. I had an undulating animal under me; her breasts against my chest were the fulcrum; everything else moved. It felt, well, damn good, except for not being able to breath, she held me so tight. In my ear, she whispered, “Don’t cum inside me. I don’t wanna get pregnant.” Well that almost killed an erection, but we kept going.

When I said, “Rachel, I’m about to cum,” she grabbed me harder and screwed more wildly. I couldn’t help it; I poured my whole load into her. And she kept screwing until she arched under me and wailed out her own orgasm.

Well she had fun, it felt good, and I came. But it wasn’t exactly an experience to make a gay boy straight. After that, I tried dodging her because the last thing I wanted was to get my older cousin pregnant. But the last night, I let her lead me into the woods one last time.

What is funny is that Rachel did get me damned horny and the effect was that I started spending as much time as I could watching guys swim at the lake or walk through the campground. I undressed every one of them and occasionally thought of Davey.

In the two weeks after we returned to Chicago, Grandpa took me to the Fields Museum, the Navy Pier, the Planetarium, and a dozen other places. I kept thinking how much Davey would enjoy each place and wished he was with us.

The one thing I didn’t think Davey would enjoy was Grandpa’s chess games. Grandpa was addicted. The more we played, the more I won, the more he wanted to play. My stay ended with an almost day long chess marathon at a table in the park.

“I would have never figured you for being such a cutthroat, Mickey,” he complained when I took his queen. He puffed his cigar, lifted his eyes in momentary enjoyment, and then fixed me with them.

I grinned, “You keep saying that, Grandpa, but I’m only taking advantage of the opportunities you give me.”

“Ha! That’s like saying Custer gave the Indians 'opportunities.'”

“Didn’t he?”

Grandpa studied the board. “You know, Mickey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something.” He moved his remaining bishop. I moved my queen’s rook.

Grandpa huffed. “When you are playing an older person, you are supposed to think longer before you move. Don’t make it look so easy that you are winning.”

“That’s what you wanted to talk to me about?”

“No, I wanted to talk to you about Davey.”

I felt my ears flush and my pulse quicken. I kept my eyes on the board. “What did you want to say about Davey?”

He made a show of studying the board, and said, “When my mom became sick, my aunt looked after her. Mom was sick a long time and my aunt stayed with her the whole time. When my mom died, what do you think my aunt did?”

I thought, “She went to Disneyworld?” but said, “I don’t know. What did she do?”

“She found someone else to take care of. Her life had become so tied up with my mom that when Mom died, it left a big hole.” He started to move a pawn, and changed his mind. “You see, Mickey, when someone spends a long time taking care of another person, like you take care of Davey, your lives get all tangled up together.” He moved the pawn after all.

“I don’t take care of Davey,” I said, and decided to wait a pointedly long time before I moved.

“Oh, don’t you? I’ve been listening to you this last month, and it sounds like you do. My thought, Mickey, is that you and Davey each have your own lives to live and someday you will each go your own way. Friends can stay friends forever, but they live their own lives. The only person you stay with forever is the woman you marry. I just think it sounds like you and Davey spend a lot of time together. Maybe a little less time together would be good.”

I moved my queen. “Check.”

Grandpa frowned. “Have you been listening to me at all?”

“Sure,” I said absently, “I waited a long time before I moved.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Oh, yeah, you said something about wanting me to marry Davey.”

Grandpa rocked back in his seat. I looked up at him from under my eyebrows and smiled.

Grandpa chuckled, “I think there is more of your dad in you than I thought.”

At the airport, Grandpa and I hugged a long time. Then he extended his hand. As we shook (and I gave him a firm grip), he said, “Thank you for coming, Michael.”

“You called me Michael,” I said surprised.

He smiled, “Do you mind. I would like to call you Michael.” He said it as if he was giving me a title. Was he saying, he thought I was worthy of Dad’s name?

Whatever he meant, I hugged him, “Thanks, Grandpa.”

Then Mama Bentolli gave me a big hug, took my face in her hands and got it all wet with her sloppy kisses. I didn’t board the plane until I had to; I would miss them.

I just missed Davey when I returned to San Antonio. He had left that morning to spend his two weeks with his granddad in Houston. However, Davey left a surprise for me. He had kept up with our yard work. Mom and Maggie helped him master the mower and he worked our jobs, and I’m sure, kept us from losing them.

At our next Family Supper, I thanked both Mom and Maggie for helping him. Then I asked a favor I had been thinking about, “I’m getting older now, and what with starting high school and all, well, Mickey is a kid’s name. I would like to be called Michael.”

Mom turned to Maggie and flashed her that adult, ‘Isn’t he cute’ look. Maggie smiled back. It was humiliating, but at least they both agreed to call me Michael.

A thought had been growing in my mind, an idea, and that first week back I acted on it. I found a good music store and inquired about guitar lessons. Might as well use my savings for something productive.

I found the guitar room in the back. The only person there was the guy working the counter. He had to be a musician. I mean, he had thick hair that hung half-way down his back, two earrings, and a ‘What am I doing up in the day time?’ look to him. He woke up a bit at my question, though. “Right on, young dude, wanna learn some fucking chords?”

“No! I wanna learn how to fuckin play, not just strum cords.”

“That’s cool, dude.” He thought a second, and then said, “You need Knox.”

“Who’s Knox?”

“Teaches at SACC. He’s the best, dude. He’ll teach you ‘magic’ on the ol’ guitar strings,” The guy began picking an air guitar, feet close, rolling his pelvis in small little thrusts like some guys do when they play. I always liked those moves. That’s how I wanted to move when I played. It was far better than the wide stance, aim the guitar like a long, hard cock way.

“Will Knox teach me to move like that?” I grinned.

The guy laughed loudly. “Knox? Shit no. But I fuckin can.” He stepped out from behind the counter and did the air guitar thing again. “Like this, dude. Do it.”

I tried to mirror his moves, but it wasn’t working; too jerky. “That sucks,” he laughed and walked around behind me. He placed his hands on my hips and said, “Do it now.” He began humming a cadence.

So I did and he tried to force my hips the way they should go. “Shit man; you’re too fucking tight. Loosen up.” He tried again to force me into the moves. “Dude, that’s poor.” Finally, he sighed, "Shit!" and then he stepped up so that his crotch and belly rested against my butt and back. He put a hand on my stomach and one on the side of my butt. “Move with me, dude.”

Well that was hardly a move to loosen me up. But as he moved, so did I. I rested my butt back against him and let his pelvis do the work. I began to get the feel of it, and the wondered if he was getting hard like I was. Our movements slowly became more sexual, grinding, and I ‘loosened up’ big time. “Yeah, babe,” he breathed. “That’s the way. That’s how to move it. That’s fuckin hot!”

His chest pressed my back and I felt his breath on my neck. His hand dropped down my front and fell over my crotch, “Shit, dude. What’re you packin?

Just then, a mom and her young son walked into the room. We froze as she looked at us horrified. The musician/clerk stepped away from me to go back behind the counter and I quickly turned to hide my boner.

“I’ll get you the phone number for that instructor,” the guy said loudly. He pulled up a notebook from under the counter and a pad of paper, and made a big show of writing down the number. He handed it to me, and I saw it had two phone numbers; after the first it said “Knox” and after the second, it said, “Mark – Me!” He winked when I looked up at him.

“Thanks, Mark,” was all I could manage to sputter out. The mom and her son moved farther into the room and I sidled out the door, hiding my still thick cock.

I found a phone and called right away. Knox had time, we negotiated. I felt I could afford a lesson every couple of weeks, and we arranged to meet.

Knox turned out to be a short, squat man with a blond ponytail pulled back from beneath a bald pate. He had a happy, cherubic face and long painted fingernails. And he could play the guitar, he could really play. We took an instant liking to each other and he took much longer on the first lesson than he was supposed to. I decided he more than liked me when I kept catching him looking at my body instead of my playing.

And then he had me come in right away for a free, bonus lesson after I purchased two books he recommended. My guitar playing took a huge step forward in just those two lessons.

And no, I did not call Mark. But I thought about it. And I saw him whenever I went into the store. He always winked.

I went with Maggie to pick Davey up from the airport. It had now been six weeks since I had seen him. As I watched him hug Maggie, I decided that Davey had grown even taller. He was now close to my height.

He smiled at me while he hugged his mom. I was struck that somewhere along the line, his beauty had become that of a youth, rather than a boy. It must have been happening before I left for Chicago, but I hadn’t noticed. Now, seeing him after being apart, I noticed. His face was a little longer, his body more lithe. He looked good. Davey turned to me next and we gave each other a back clapping hug. “I missed you,” I said. He smiled and I smiled back.

Perhaps if we had spent more time together that summer, my head would have been on better. But when Maggie dropped us off at that huge, Spanish style high school the first day, and we saw all those cool kids standing around talking; I mean really good looking guys, and girls too. Well, I wanted to look cool too. I wanted to look like I “had it together.” Which was hard to do with Davey crowding me. It felt like every eye was on me and Davey. “Don’t walk so close, Davey. We don’t want to look weird.”

Davey looked a little stunned, and stopped in his tracks. I had continued on a couple of steps, but came back to him. “Look, I’m sorry. It’s just that we’re in high school now. We need to…you know…look cool. Come on. Let’s find our classes.”

Davey stood there looking at me as if I had hit him. “Come on, Davey, snap out of it, OK? I just meant not to walk too close together. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or anything.” I grabbed his arm above the elbow and dragged him forward.

I’ve heard of kids that age not wanting to be seen with their families. Maybe it was that same kind of thing I felt about Davey. As I thought about trying to put a little space between Davey and me, I told myself I needed to follow Grandpa’s advice and help Davey follow it too. I needed to help him get his own life, and I needed to get mine; high school was a good place to start. So once I deposited Davey in class and made sure he knew where to go after that class, I quickly beat it out of there and on to my own first period.

In my second period class, I sat next to Chase. He was a tall, well-built guy with curly brown hair. He had a fantastic butt and an interesting face. Ok, his face was rather plain, but nice. He his nose was a little long and his mouth a little small. But his brown hair gleamed, and he did have a fantastic butt. We liked each other. And since we were both in accelerated classes, we saw a lot of each other that day.

When Davey and I walked home from school together that afternoon, and I told him about the excitement of my first day in high school, he was quieter than usual. I decided to take the bull, or Davey, by the horns. “Look, Davey, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings this morning. But we’re in high school now. Little kids hang all over each other, but not guys our age. We just need to walk a little farther apart…” and I realized we were brushing shoulders like we always did when we walked, so I moved away to illustrate. “We just need to be cool. OK?”

Davey kept his head down and said nothing. “Come on, Davey. Don’t be like that. It’s not like we aren’t still best friends.” I clapped his back. Davey gave me a sad smile and I decided he would just have to get through on it.

That first couple of weeks, Davey and I walked to and from school together though I split from him as soon as we got there and met him for the walk home, off campus. He stayed at my house studying each afternoon while I practiced guitar, until Maggie called that she was home. At school, I was glad Davey gave me space. At lunch, he let me eat with the friends I was making and found other places to sit.

At home, he didn’t say much. “Are you mad at me, or something, Davey?” I finally asked him.

He hung his head, “No, Mickey. I’m not mad.”

I didn’t press it. He seemed to be adjusting well enough to high school, and was doing just fine on his own. It was good to have less responsibility for Davey, I decided. So what if he was a little unhappy. I was a little unhappy too. High school is supposed to be tough, right?

When Chase asked me to sleep over that second Friday night, I didn’t even think to tell Davey until we were walking home from school that afternoon. Davey said he was fine with it, though he might have sounded a little disappointed. Even if he was, I needed to get out on my own; make my own friends. Chase didn’t know to invite Davey because I had never told Chase about Davey, on purpose.

Chase was into strategy board games. When he found out that I knew nothing about them, he gave me a crash course…all night. Toward dawn, he took one of the couches in his living room; I took the other. Before he lay down, he stripped to his boxers. I tried not to be obvious as I stared, but Chase’s body was something else. He must have been out in the sun all summer because his skin was deeply tanned, and the fine hair of his legs and arms was all gold. He had muscles…everywhere. He lay down onto his side and closed his eyes, covering only his feet with a throw blanket. I stripped to my briefs and climbed under another throw blanket, covering up so that his Mom and sisters wouldn’t see me in just my underwear if they woke before I did.

As Chase’s breathing slowed, I studied the curve of his hip, his relaxed strength, the muscles of his neck, and I wondered how to find out if a boy was gay, or at least open to “messing around.” The fly in his boxers hung open provocatively. In the dim light of the one lamp we had left on, I could just make out some pubic hair.

As Chase’s breathing deepened and it was obvious he was asleep, I began wrestling with the temptation to sneak over to check out that open slit in his boxers. The temptation won. I got down onto the floor and quietly crawled over so that I could try to peek in. I moved my head up, down and around, but couldn’t see more than the soft skin of a flat belly and the top of his pubes. I could see the outline of his cock and balls farther down his boxers where they were lying over his leg. I tried to gently pull his fly open wider.

I moved my nose close to the slit. He smelled good; a little like I did down there. Carefully, I extended a finger and lightly touched his cock through his underwear. It felt thick like one of those cocks that always stayed a little thick, even when soft.

He snorted, and his breathing changed. I scrambled back to my couch. I covered myself with the throw and tried to sleep, but sleep came slowly.

I came home around lunch time and had barely walked in the door when Mom called me to the phone, it was Knox. “Hey, Michael. I’ve a couple of tickets to the Jonathan Martin concert tonight and my friend who was going with me backed out. How about it? Wanna take in a guitar concert? The guy’s terrific; plays everything from bluegrass to Spanish classical…I’ll treat you to supper.”

“Sure. Hold on." I covered the mouthpiece and called out, "Mom, is it OK if I go with my guitar instructor to a concert tonight?"

There was a brief pause before she called back, "OK."

"What time?” I asked.

“Let’s see. The concert is at eight over at Trinity. How about if I pick you up at six and take you for some Japanese food down on Broadway?”

“Great. I’ve never had Japanese.” Then I asked, “How do I need to dress?”

“Do you have a shirt and tie? A guy your age can get by with just a shirt and tie. Pants too, of course,” he chuckled.

“Yes, but I’ve only worn a tie once. Neither my mom or I really know how to tie one.”

“I’ll come inside when I get there and tie it for you. Tell me where you live again.”

When I hung up the phone, Mom stepped from the kitchen, “Davey came by looking for you this morning. Twice. I think he finally took the mower and went over to do the Nixon’s yard.”

I shrugged, “I planned for us to do that tomorrow. But that’s fine. We still have a couple of others we can do tomorrow.”

“Did you want to go help Davey finish the Nixons? I can hold lunch.”

“How long ago did he leave?”

“Maybe an hour.”

“No, he'll have done most of the work by the time I’d get there. I let him do it and keep all the money. Besides, I think I’ll take a nap. We were up all night playing a war game Chase has, and I need to rest before the concert tonight.” I turned for my room.

“Oh?” Mom said in her not entirely approving voice. “That’s nice.”

I went to bed and woke up about four. Well, my body woke up. My head and eyes were still considering the idea. When I stumbled into the kitchen for a wake-me-up pop, Mom said, “Davey looked for you when he brought the mower back. He went on home, if you want to give him a call.”

I rubbed my forehead. “Nah, I don’t really have time to do anything with Davey. Knox is taking me to supper before the concert and he’s going to be here about six.”

Mom frowned at me, “So you’re going to miss Family Supper? You could have told me.” She ran some water into a measuring cup. “I think I need to meet this Knox.”

“He’s fine, Mom.” I took my pop to the living room.

Six o’clock Knox showed up looking sharp in a sports coat and knit turtle neck. I introduced him to Mom, who kept looking at Knox’s long, painted fingernails and his ponytail. I held up my tie to Knox, “Can you help me with this?”

“Sure. Do you have a mirror? I know it sounds funny, but I’m use to tying my tie in a mirror. I’m not sure I can do it backwards.”

I laughed and led him to my bedroom where I had a full-length mirror on the back of my closet door. I stood before it and Knox came up behind. My black hair had gotten almost as long as Davey’s. I could just see Knox’s eyes over my shoulder. He pressed his body against mine trying to reach to tie, and finally gave up, laughing. “Can you squat down or something?”

Instead, I knelt. Knox leaned down over me, resting his arms on my shoulders as he worked. Mint on his breath almost overpowered the scent of his expensive cologne. I could feel his breath on my ear. When he finished and turned my collar down, I quickly stood. Knox looked me over approvingly, “You clean up good, Michael. You are very good looking boy.”

If I were to pick a food that was opposite of Italian, it would be Japanese. But I liked it. I found out what sushi was and decided it was OK. I loved sukiyaki. Knox finished his meal and was sipping his tea as he watched me. He chuckled and said, “I’m looking forward to showing you off tonight.”

“Just don’t ask me to play anything,” I responded between bites.

He laughed and then quietly watched as I ate. When I picked up chopsticks to practice on the last couple of bites, Knox said, “Michael, would it bother you if some of the people we meet tonight are gay? There are a lot of gay musicians you know.”

“No,” I shrugged, secretly excited. “How will I know if they’re gay?”

He laughed. “You’ll know with some of them.”

“That’s cool.”

He let me finish the last bite, then asked. “Would you mind, Michael, if your guitar teacher is gay?”

Whoa. I kept my head down and said, “No. Of course not.”

Knox said quietly, “You are a remarkably beautiful boy. I really am going to enjoy showing you off to my friends tonight.” He chuckled, “You are going to make some guys very, very jealous.”

I said nothing.

He leaned forward in concern. “I’m sorry. I guess that was a stupid thing to say. If you are uncomfortable with my being gay, Michael, I can take you back home. I’m sorry. It’s just so easy to talk with you, I guess I got carried away.”

“No. I’m Ok. Really.” I looked up at him and smiled..

“You sure?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “It will be fun to be shown off.”

Knox grinned broadly, “I will show you off, my boy. I will.”

I mulled things over as we finished, and then when we walked to the car, and as we headed to the auditorium. When we were almost there, I said, “Knox, I’ve never told anyone and you can’t either, not anyone, but…I think I might be gay too.”

His head jerked around and he looked at me, open mouthed.

I looked away, and said, “I’m thinking it might be nice to have someone to talk to about it, you know, gay stuff…if you don’t mind.”

“Sure, Michael. I’d be glad to talk with you; to help any way I can…Oh, shit. I missed the turn.”

As soon as we walked into the lobby, we ran into a group of three guys who were evidently college students of Knox’s. They were cute guys, but all seemed old and intimidatingly mature to a fourteen year old. Joel was a slender Hispanic with a handsome face and extremely thick hair that came well down on his temples. He gave me my first gay handshake. I didn’t know you could give a handshake that would twitch a cock, but Joel twitched mine. Grandpa certainly didn’t teach me that kind of handshake.

Before the concert began, Knox dragged me all over the auditorium, introducing me to his friends. I figured more than a few were gay, since he said he wanted to show me off and that probably did not mean to straights. Some of them left no doubt that they were gay, the way they looked me over. That night I discovered that gays come in a lot of different flavors.

The concert was great. The only problem was that classical guitar music can be wonderful to sleep to. Knox poked me once, and afterward as we walked back to the car said, “Some impression I’m going to make on my friends with my trophy student falling asleep.”

“Sorry,” I said, yawning. “I was up all night with a friend.”

“Oh?” he said, raising an eyebrow.

Flustered, I sputtered, “Playing a war game.”

Knox chuckled, “Maybe I need to get you home so you can go to bed.”

“No. I’ve been thinking, Knox…you’re like the first gay person I’ve ever been able talk to. Can we...can I like, buy you a cup of coffee somewhere and can we just talk for a while?”

Knox grinned, “I know just the place.”

The place was a little restaurant off Breckenridge Park. Once we settled in a back booth and ordered our dessert and coffee, Knox leaned back, grinning, and asked, “What do you want to know?”

“Well,” I had been thinking where to start. “How do you know if you're gay?”

“You’ll know. Sooner or later, you’ll know. What makes you think you might be gay?”

I shrugged.

“Do you like looking at other guys? Do you think about them…sexually.”

I nodded, then asked, “How do you tell if someone else is gay?”

“Oh, well that’s an entirely different and more interesting question. The simple answer is that it takes a while, but you eventually develop gaydar.”


“Yeah, you get to where you just know someone is gay. You send out vibes to each other.”

“Vibes, huh? You didn’t know I might be gay, right?”

“No. But then, you weren’t looking…as in ‘on the lookout’ for guys. Part of knowing someone is gay is how they look at you, or other guys. If you think someone is gay, just watch their eyes. Watch to see whether they stare at guys or girls.”

“Oh.” I digested that. “Anything else?”

“Well, some gays are a little effeminate. But you can’t count on that. Some straights are a little effeminate too, but not many.” He scratched his chin, “I guess the way I usually find other gays is at bars and places gays gather. That would be a little hard for you, though.”

The desserts and coffee came. When the waiter left, Knox said, “That waiter’s gay. At least I think so. He was really checking you out.”

“Oh?” I turned to watch the waiter walk a way. He looked OK, probably in his early twenties. “I didn’t even notice.”

“Well, you need to start watching for that sort of thing. If you had noticed him looking you over, and if you were interested in him, you would look back at him the same way. Then you both would know and you go from there.”

“Where? What’s next? Like do you date or something?”

“Michael, have you ever actually done anything with another boy? You know, sexually?”

I felt my face flush, “Well, sort of. I have a really special friend and we did some things the summer after seventh grade.”

“What sort of things?”

My cock began to stiffen. I moved to adjust myself, and noticed Knox do the same thing. “Well, we kissed, and we sort of rubbed against each other…naked. And we touched each other, but didn’t really jack off.”

“Did you cum at all?”

“Oh yeah. We came a lot on each other. You know, between our bodies.”

Knox nodded, “Well that is called frottage or frotting or frott, rubbing against each other like that. Did you like it?”

“Yeah. A lot.”

“Why did you guys stop?”

“Davey’s sort of special,” I shrugged. “I guess I felt guilty taking advantage of him.”

“Did he like it?”

“Oh yeah. But you don’t understand. Davey is, well, a little retarded. Not much. Just a little.” I looked down, “You must think I’m awful doing that to a retarded boy, but Davey and I have always been best friends and he, he’s really beautiful. I mean, you said I was good looking. He really is. He has long, blond hair. And his face is just perfect, and he has incredible blue eyes, and the smoothest skin, and a really nice body. And he’s always happy. You should see his smile, Knox.” I took a breath, “He really is my best friend. We’ve been best friends since first grade. And he’s really not that retarded. He’s just a little slow.” I paused for another breath.

“But slow enough that you feel like you took advantage of him?”

I hung my head, “Yeah.”

“So you two haven’t done anything since then?”


“And you don’t think he is gay?”

I looked up at Knox and told him, “I was afraid I was making him gay.”

Knox nodded. “So what do you think now? Is he straight? Or is he interested in guys?”

“Davey? I don’t know. He’s hard to read. I’m not sure he’s interested in anybody.”

“Well remember what I said. Watch to see if he stares at guys or girls.”

“I’m going to feel awful if I made Davey gay.”

Knox reached across and squeezed my forearm. “I’m not sure you can ‘make’ anybody gay. Anyway, what’s done is done. You just have to wait and see how things turn out. If he’s that hard to read, maybe he likes you too and you just don’t realize it.”

“Oh, he likes me. I told you. We’re best friends.”

“The best lovers are,” he said.


“Never mind,” he continued to hold my arm. “Have you done anything with any other boy?”

“No,” I shook my head. “I’m not even sure what to do with another boy.”

“You mean gay sex?”

I nodded.

“Well, there are a lot of things guys can do together. You want to hear about them?

“Yes,” I leaned forward. “Tell me everything guys can do together.”

That night, I got quite an education and before we were done, Knox made a further offer. As we were finishing, he leaned forward and squeezed my arm once more, “Michael, you are a bit young for me, and I could get into trouble doing it, but if you ever wanted me to ‘show’ you gay sex…you know, first hand,” he smiled, “I would be honored to help you.”

“Thanks,” I tried to be gracious. “I’ll think about it.”

Knox suddenly leaned back. “I can’t believe I just said that. That was stupid. I’m sorry Michael. Forget I ever said that, please…well at least until you turn eighteen.” His smile was bittersweet. “You really are very beautiful.” He sighed. “I have a couple of students closer to your age who I am sure would die for the chance to 'teach' you. I just wish I was your age.”

The next afternoon I was watching a Cowboy game when the phone rang. I’m usually the one to answer it, so I grabbed it off the couch end table. “Hello.”


“Yes. Who’s this?”

“Michael Bentolli?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“Joel, dude. We met last night.”

“Oh,” I glanced nervously back toward the kitchen. I heard Mom moving in there and was glad she had not picked up the phone. “Knox should not have given out my phone number.”

“He didn’t. I figured there can’t be too many Bentolli’s in the phone book and decided to go for it. This was the second number I tried.”

“Oh? Why call me?”

“Can’t you guess? Michael, I fell in love with you last night,” he giggled. “You are one hot young stud, dude.”

I was suddenly one flushed, blushing, young stud. “Thanks,” I managed to stammer.

“How bout I take you out sometime? Like this afternoon. Maybe a movie or hamburgers?”

I thought about it.

He lowered his voice, suggestively, “and we could always come back to my place afterwards.’”

I whispered so that Mom wouldn’t hear. “You can’t be interested in a kid like me, Joel. I mean, you’re a college student!”

“You’re kidding, right? An adorable angel like you? I’m dead serious about you, dude. I told ya, I fell in love last night.”

“Well,” Joel scared me, so I lied, “I sort of have a boy friend already.” Well, it was partly true, Davey just didn’t know it.

“Well, so do I. The four of us could, hehe, get together. Is your lover cute too?” His voice thickened. “Maybe we could show you how the older boys play.”

“I don’t think so, Joel.”

“You’d like it, dude. You would. We could show you things that feel soooooo good.”

“I think I better go now.”

“Nah! Can’t we just talk a while?”

“No. I really have to go.”

“OK. I’ll look for you at lessons with Knox.”

“OK.” At least Knox could protect me.

“Cool…you hot little stud. See ya later.”

“OK. Joel.” I kept my voice down. “Thanks for calling…but maybe we better just talk at the studio. My mom might not like me getting calls from college guys.”

“Cool, dude. See ya.”


Joel almost purred, “Bye, Bye angel boy.”

I put down the phone and walked in to the kitchen to get a pop in something of a daze. Mom asked, “Was that Davey.”

“No, Mom. Just one of the kids from school.” I just didn’t say which school.

“Have you called Davey today?”

“No, Mom. I’ll give him a call.”

Just then, the phone rang again. If it was Joel, I was gonna be pissed. “Hello?”


“Grandpa! Hi!”

“How are you doing? I’ve been thinking of you.”

“I’ve been thinking of you too, Grandpa. I’m doin good. How’re you and Mama B?”

“We’re fine, except that we miss you. You spoiled us this summer. You’re going to have to come back again soon.”

“Or you can come to San Antonio and stay with us.”

He laughed, “Mama doesn’t travel too well. She can’t take her kitchen with her. So tell me, what have you been up to?”

“I’m getting guitar lessons now, Grandpa…”

Monday, I began to watch guys’ eyes like Knox suggested. Chase stared at girls. In fact, I couldn’t find any guys who stared at other guys, except maybe Davey, which made me feel bad.

That Wednesday when Davey came to my locker to walk home together, I told him, “I’ve got a yearbook meeting. You can walk on home without me or you can wait here on the benches. It shouldn’t take long. OK? You can study if you want to wait.”

He gave me a sad look. “Davey, it’s just a yearbook meeting. If you want to wait, I’ll come get you as soon as we’re done.”

“Can’t I come with you, Mickey?”

Why did he have to look at me with those, those…sad eyes? “Don’t call me Mickey. I told you. It’s Michael. Please. And the meeting’s going to be boring Davey. Just wait by the lockers.”

“Can’t I come with you…Michael? I won’t be...bored. And I’ll be...quiet. I promise...I’ll be quiet.”

“No,” I insisted. “Leave me alone. You wait by the lockers and I’ll get you later.”

I stormed off feeling really resentful that Davey made that so hard. I looked back as I turned the corner. Davey slumped onto a bench. Talk about feeling like shit. Why did Davey have to make me feel like that?

Sometimes life presents it reality to you in startling moments of sudden clarity. I had one of those moments exactly one week later on the very next Wednesday. Chase and I were walking down the hall after last class when we saw Davey coming toward us. Davey had his head down, and almost looked like he had not seen me. Chase leaned close, “See that blond kid headed this way? He’s retarded. Watch, we can have some fun with him.”

It was like Chase had pronounced some magical spell that woke me from a dream. When he said that, suddenly everything became clear again. That was my Davey he was talking about. My Davey! By the time Davey was close enough, I was really pissed, and before Chase could do something stupid I called, “Davey.”

He turned toward me, head still down, “Yeah...Micheal.”

I put my arm over his shoulder and turned us toward Chase. “Chase, I want you to meet my best friend, Davey Carlson.” I pulled Davey tight against me under my arm and said almost fiercely, “Make that more than a best friend. Davey and I have been best friends since first grade. He’s… like my brother.”

Chase looked like I had gut-punched him. Then a smile broke across his face as he tried to decide if I was teasing him.

“Come on, Davey,” I said. “It’s time to go home.”

On the walk home, Davey was quiet. I wished he would say something, anything, because I hated to say what I knew I needed to. Finally, I asked, “Will you forgive me?”

Davey said nothing and even looked away.

“Davey, you really are my best friend. Way better than a best friend. I know I haven’t been treating you right. Hell, I’ve been treating you really bad.”

Davey wouldn’t look at me. He kept his face turned away.

“Man, I’m sorry. I’ve been so stupid. Will you please forgive me, because…well,” I stopped and grabbed his arm, turning him toward me. When I did, I found tears streaming down his face. I gasped. I gasped as what I had done came home to me. Never before had I made Davey cry, ever.

The bottom dropped from my gut, and all the lofty things I had ever thought of myself came crashing down into a sudden recognition of who I really was and what I had done. I had hurt Davey.

The tears streamed down his face. I stepped closer. “Oh, Davey…I’m…so…sorry.” My throat tightened. My own eyes teared up. “Davey, I’m so, so sorry...How can I ever make it up to you? I…” I wanted to take him in my arms and hold him. But what must he think of me? Shit. What had I done? “Davey...please…forgive me.” I took his hand in mine. “You have every right to never forgive me, Davey. But…I love you. I love you Davey.”

Davey’s mouth twisted with pain and he said nothing, but he stepped up to me and put his arms around me. We embraced, there in the road, and I pulled him tight against me. I was surprised how much hurting him had hurt me. After so many years of defending Davey against bullies, I had hurt him more than all of them combined. I broke down when I realized that and buried my face in his neck, sobbing. “I’m sooooo sorry, Davey.”

Davey hugged me back as hard as I had hugged him. I felt his tears against the back of my neck. And I stood there, just needing him to hold me. And needing to hold him.

Tight in his embrace, I struggled to regain control of myself. I said, “Davey, I promise, I will never, ever let that happen again. You are my best friend and you always will be my best friend and I don’t care if I ever make another friend in my life!” I lifted my face from his neck, and into his ear, asked, “Will you please forgive me.”

Davey nodded against the side of my face.

“You’ll forgive me?”

He nodded again.

I sobbed, bent my head back down, and cried some more. When I could, I said, “Thank you.” As I gave him a final hug, I thought, ‘I’m sorry Grandpa, but Davey and my lives are going to stay tangled. Way tangled.’

When we stepped back from our embrace, Davey held out his hand palm up. I wiped my eyes on my sleeves and wondered what kids would think if they saw Davey and me walking home hand in hand. But if that’s what Davey wanted…I stood up to my full height and took his hand and turned toward my house. After all, I did say that I didn’t care if I ever made another friend in my life.

We walked about one block before Davey said, “My brain…doesn’t…work…right, but…”

“Your brain works just…”


He turned and frowned at me, and held my gaze as we walked. He said, “My brain doesn’t…work…right…but,” he hit the middle of his chest with his free hand, “my heart…works…right.”

His red, wet eyes looked angry and bore into mine. Almost fiercely he said, “I love…you…Mickey.”

I looked at him, a bit stunned. All I could manage to stammer in reply was, “I know.” I looked down to the ground. “I’m sorry…I love you too, Davey.”

He gripped my hand harder in his, and we finished the walk home in silence.

The next morning, Chase came into class after I was already seated. I looked down at my text book and ignored him. He sat quietly down at his desk next to mine. He didn’t look at me, but cleared his throat, “I…” a couple of kids walked between our seats. “Michael, I…” Chase turned, leaned toward me and said, “I’ve been thinking Michael…all night. All fucking night. I decided something--I’m an asshole.” I kept looking at my book. “Go ahead,” he said, “Tell me I’m an asshole. I’ll agree with you. I’m a creep. I’m a shit. I’m scum. I...”

“Gees, Chase,” I couldn’t resist chuckling and looked up at him. “I would have left off after just asshole and creep.”

He looked at me. “I am sorry about yesterday. I feel really, really stupid. I’m sorry.”

“We’re cool.”


“Chase, you have no idea. I’m not in a position to hold anything against anybody. We really are cool.”

“Cool enough for both you and Davey to sleep over at my house tomorrow night?”

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