Warning!  This story is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the fictional characters and any live person is purely coincidental. This story contains fictional descriptions of sexual activity between consenting minor youth. If you are under the age of 18, and/or if you are offended by this content, and/or if it is illegal in your jurisdiction to possess or read such material, please leave now.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be transmitted or reproduced in whole or in part in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Author or Publisher, except where permitted by law. Copyright (c) 2015 by Flip McHooter.

 

Please send your comments to Flip at 1977.flip@gmail.com both good and bad.

 

The Problem With Milo, Chapter 4

 

 

That afternoon, I was at the store bagging for checkout stand number five. It was my favorite place to be inside the store, because my friend, Tracy, was there ringing up customers, like most of the weeknights and Saturdays I worked. Our store was old-school, run by some sweet-old folks from The People of the Temple, up the road a ways in this not-so-secret community that's been there, for like, ever. Least, that's what I heard. One cool thing was that employees who worked on Sundays and Holidays got double pay, which none of the super-stores and big grocery chains do anymore. Since I was one of the newer guys, I very rarely got scheduled to work those days. That was fine with me. Usually, Sunday was the day you could find me at the beach trying to catch some waves, my pup Floki sticking her head out of the sunroof of my car, watching me intently.

 

Anyway, everybody knew Tracy, so we had a lot of regulars. Actually, I should say, we had a lot of male regulars. She's pretty, sure, and nice, but it's mostly because of the size of Tracy's tremendous tits, to be perfectly truthful. They're ginormous. The funny thing is, Tracy's completely oblivious to this.

 

As for me, I would get some bored and desperate house-moms checking me out every so often, not a big deal, although some of the Botox Cougars can be frightening to look at. A couple of older dudes, too, although, they're quiet and usually only stare. Honestly, the ones that freak me out the most are the older guys standing next to their wives and checking me out. Creepy. For the most part, I don't pay all that much attention to anyone, or much of what's going on in my line with all these different people. I leave that up to Tracy to sort out. Smile and bag it. That's my motto.

 

Like I said, Tracy and I make a good team, her being bright, bubbly and bodacious, which leaves me, fast, pleasant and generally accurate. Oh, sure, I'm friendly and I smile, only I'm not like her I can't talk to everybody like I've known them forever. I'm not like that. The great thing is that time always seems to fly right on by when the two of us work our shifts together. Except, that wasn't the case now. My mind was on everything that happened earlier this afternoon with Milo, Izzy, and Cass, and not at all on my job like it should be. Tracy noticed right away and called me out on it a couple of times, though she didn't make a big deal of it until right now.

 

"Mason," she said, and apparently I didn't react quickly enough, since I was gawking off into space, looking at the brand-new banners over the deli department advertising some new gluten-free pork belly panini, as I shoved miscellaneous stuff into some old dude's red, white, and green reusable bag from the new Pupuseria two blocks down the street.

 

"MASON!" This time, she turned around and hissed at me. "What's your problem tonight, sweetie? You put Mrs. Cavendish's manhole covers in Mr. Thompson's bag."

 

"Huh?" I said, snapping back to reality. "What are manhole covers? Some new cookies? When did we get them? I don't remember seeing the memo."

 

"Oh, god!" She reached over the counter, with a forced smile as she re-arranged the sacks, grinning at the two middle-aged customers and wishing them good night. Turning back to me, she said, "Maxi-pads, doofus. Come with. We're taking a break."

 

She locked her drawer, switched off her light and marched me quickly through the surprisingly hectic store for a Friday night. Tracy pulled me out the back and onto the deserted and breezy loading dock, the whole while not saying a peep to me. Finally, after lighting up a Blu e-cig, she looked knowingly at me and said, "Out with it."

 

"Is it that obvious?" I said, loosening my green apron a bit, because I was so wound up and this thing felt like it was strangling me. I felt exhausted, and not in a good way. Sort of like when you have a disappointing day of riding ankle busters.

 

"Yeah, it is. Bob's starting to notice, too. You don't want to piss him off tonight because he's going to be doing schedules later on when it slows down. If you keep spacing out like this, he might move you to a different checkout stand. And I certainly don't want Peggy bagging for me again. Her perfume makes me want to vomit a little into my mouth every time I get a whiff." I wanted to add `like your cigarette', but I kept my mouth shut.

 

"I know, I know. Me too. I'm sorry. I agree, motorcycle oil and peonies don't mix. The thing is, I'm not sure I can tell you all of it in ten minutes. There's so much to it." I didn't want to go through today's drama one more time. I mean, I've replayed it over and over and over in my head at least a thousand times. I wanted to finish my shift and see if I could meet up with Milo. But he hadn't texted or called me, and it was starting to get late. And that was starting to suck. Big time. Guess that's why my mind was wandering.

 

"Well, give me the short version then. We can sort out the details later on."

 

"Sure, um, okay. See, it's like this..."

 

"No! Better yet, let's try it this way. Girl problem?"

 

"No. It's not that. Can't we talk about this later?"

 

"No. Car problems again?"

 

"No."

 

"Not another broken board?" she asked with concern. I had wiped out recently, getting all scratched up and ended up busting my favorite ride when we had some serious killer hurricane swells sliding up the coast from South America last month.

 

"No, thankfully," I said. "Not that."

 

"No? Okay, that's good," she said, as she took in another vape. "Is it a money problem? If it is, just ask me and I'll totally help you out, sweetie. All ya gotta do is say the word. You know that."

 

"No, it's not that. Thanks, anyway."

 

"No problem. Are you sick? Is it a tumor? Chlamydia? Burning discharge?"

 

"NO! Oh my god! What's with you tonight? What are you smoking in that thing?"

 

"Not your family again?" she asked quietly, totally ignoring me. Tracy had heard some of my stories about my asshole brothers when I'd slip up out of the blue, and she'd met my parents once or twice when they came into the store when I first started working here, trying to take advantage of my store discount. Tracy was not impressed, and I think my parents felt out-classed by our fancy store.

 

"No, not that either. Can you please, please, give it a rest? Let's go back to our stand and get this night over with, all right?"

 

"No way! I'm not stopping now. Floki, your dog?"

 

"No, she's okay. If you must know, it's kind of like a girl problem, only different."

 

"Well...okay. Oh. Ooooh. Scandalabra! No way! I knew it," her voice quietly trailed off for a second, while she disconnected the dots and connected all the dashes knowingly in her head. All I could do was roll my eyes. I felt defeated all of a sudden, and she noticed. "Oh, baby. Come here." She quietly pulled me into a smothering hug, which she seemed to do a lot to people around here. Me? I wasn't a hugger. Nonetheless, it felt good. That's the other reason we had so many regular male customers: she loved to hug everybody, especially the guys. That's as far as it went with her, as far as I know. She said she had a boyfriend, however, she never talked about him and nobody around here had ever seen him. "I had a strong feeling about you, but I didn't want to bring it up in case you weren't ready to talk about it."

 

"How come practically everybody knows about me, except me?" I whined, and started to hiccup. I hated doing that, because that meant I was close to tears, and I wasn't going to do that. Not here, not tonight, not ever. "Seems I'm always the one that's last to the party."

 

"I wouldn't know, Mason, honest. If I knew I'd spill. I guess it takes everybody a different amount of time to figure these things out. I mean, I guess that's all there is to it. I can tell you this though. Call it love, or infatuation or a simple boink, but whatever you got going on isn't any different than what a straight person, or a bi-girl, or a tri-Nepalese monk goes through their first time. Your first attraction always seems like the best thing in the world, and the worst thing in the world, all rolled up into one big lump of commotion."

 

"If you say so. It's just that I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure all this shit out, and I want to do it right. Suddenly, I'm on the verge of being able to deal with it, but it's scary, maybe. Too dramatic. And you know me. I don't do drama very well."

 

"Yeah, that's true," she said, releasing me, "I know what you've been through. So! Who is he? Do I know him? Is he cute? Is he older? Taller than you? Younger? No, probably not that. No! Wait is he a sugar daddy? Yes! Filthy rich and drives one of those shiny Fisker Karma's? A thug rapper that likes his meat barely cooked? C'mon Mason, spill it. I want to hear everything."

 

"I'm not sure yet if this is anything at all. It's all happening too damn fast. And like, since today, it seems everybody knows, and we haven't even been together for like, ten hours. He said he was going to text me, or maybe call, only he hasn't done either one yet. I'm getting bummed. It's all so messed up."

 

"Okay, calm down, sweetie, calm down. We'll figure this out together. So he's a guy from school, I'm guessing. Is he hot?"

 

"Yes and yes. A baseball jock. Play's shortstop for our team. He's totally awesome, too, from what I've heard, but I've never seen him play. And yes, he is super-hot. And nice, and sexy and holy shit! Oh, god. He smells so good, too. Like sweet and savory, and...and...something I can't put my finger on. He's someone I'd never thought I'd be with in my wildest dreams. I would never have thought he'd be into dudes, especially a surfer dude like me. The weird thing is, I've known him, or I should say, known about him, since like forever. He lives down my street."

 

"If he's so cute, do him already."

 

"It's not that. Not like that at all. This is so new I don't even know what my type is. Besides, I kind of want it to be more meaningful than just `doing' him. I totally wasn't ready for all this drama. I guess in the back of my mind, I figured that when I finally did do the big deal, I'd be at UCSB or UCSD with one of my hot, older professors or my surf coach, you know. Some hot verge-of-balding wanna-be-young-again dude. Some guy that would teach me all of the tricks of the man-on-man tradecraft."

 

"So what's the problem?"

 

I let out a deep breath, totally frustrated, but ready to spill. The good thing with talking with Tracy is that we could talk about anything and everything. "We ended up at his uncle's house. He wanted me to do him. And I'm totally down with that. Plus, he made it real easy for me. I could have walked away. But I didn't. Honestly, it was actually nice. At first, I thought it was gonna be a simple hookup with a hot, horny guy, but then it got all super-steamy and really, really, good. See, when we were primed and pumped and finally ready to go, everything crashed and burned."

 

"Uh-oh. What happened?"

 

"Why do you want all these details?"

 

"I'm living vicariously through you, sweetie. I want to know all about it. And besides, men-on-men is so freakin' hot! Like boob-on-boob sex is to straight guys. So this is super exciting for me. Besides, I want to help you work this out."

 

"Oh, god," was all I could say.

 

"Walk with me times almost up. We'll whisper. When you guys didn't do it, where did you leave things with him?"

 

"Right before lunch ended. About one-fifteen, I guess. I had to jam to get my car out of the lot because we ditched to skip the assembly and have a long lunch. We also got interrupted by his sister who barged in planning on have a little sexy hookup of her own, by the way. Shit! You won't believe this. Guess who her hookup was?"

 

"Rob, of course." She didn't even have to think about that.

 

"No. Guess again."

 

"Do I know `em?"

 

"Yeah, you do. It was Izzy," I said.

 

"Izzy? Little Izzy? Oh wow! I would have thought it would've been Rob."

 

"I know. No shit. Anyway, they sort of caught us, well, not caught us exactly, but it was enough for them to figure out what was going on."

 

"Oh, my god. I so want to hear all this. Go in there. Hurry," she said, pointing to the big freezer door. "Tell me what happened when you got to his uncle's house."

 

"Okay. Well, once he convinced me he was serious about being gay and wanting to mess around with me, we decided to go to his uncle's house, which was totally awesome by the way. See, he had figured out I was gay, like you did, Izzy did and probably everybody else in town by now. Um, we did some tequila shots first, and a quick dip in his outrageous pool." I said quietly, letting my mind think back to this early afternoon. I enjoyed wandering around behind the dairy case back here because it always sharpened my senses since it was so frosty in here. Got me and my head through some slow nights.

 

"Skinny style?" She grabbed my arm, both for warmth and to get me moving to the other door over by produce. I never ventured over to produce if I didn't have to. The guys over there were, for lack of a better word, icky. Seemed like they were always fondling the melons or something tawdry like that. I hoped they washed their hands afterwards.

 

"Of course, skinny style," I smiled, thinking back to how erotic that was and wishing we were both still there in the warm water, sitting on the steps and kissing and rubbing our naked bodies together.

 

"Baby, that sounds super magnificent, and I want to hear more about it, but we don't have the time now. We need to get back to our stand before Bob comes looking for us."

 

"I know. Okay, so here's this: What should I do? Should I call him? What if he decided he doesn't want to see me again, especially after we got caught by his sister and Izzy Alvarado?"

 

Suddenly, like everything else today, we were caught off guard.

 

"Call him, will ya please? And get the hell back to work, all right? Both of you!" boomed Bob the assistant night manager from somewhere behind us. Scared the crap out of us. He was a big, greasy, intimidating kind of guy with a huge stomach that stuck way out over his belt and stretched his husky-man white polyester shirt to the bounds of decent taste. "Why in the hell is it always the gays? No personal offense or anything, Mason, it just seems to me like that's all you see on television lately. Gay guys adopting kids or surrogating their own now. Gay lawyers hooking up with a jury member to throw a case. Gay guys getting married. Gay guys getting naked at that thing they do down on Main Street every year. Even in the vampire shows, blast it, and I love those cable shows. Anyway, I'll tell you something like I'd tell any other employee: Please keep your after-hours life from spilling into your work hours. I need everybody focused. We have head office inspections coming up and I want everybody to be ready and on their toes. That goes for whether you're gay, straight or Canadian."

 

"Sure, Bob. Sorry."

 

"Don't be sorry, just get back to work."

 

"Don't worry about him, sweetie," Tracy whispered as he walked away, "he can't stand Justin Bieber, either."

 

"Oh, great," I whined. "Everyone's going to know about me before this day is over."

 

The rest of the night didn't go by fast, nor did it go by slowly, either. Tracy looked at me occasionally, though, giving me reassuring smiles. We kept a comfortable pace, and Tracy joked with the customers, trying to include me in as much as possible. I was able to keep my mind off of Milo for most of the time. That is, until we clocked out and I looked at the time. It was nearly nine twenty-two, and I still hadn't heard from him. I pulled out my phone and stared at it once again. Nothing. I thumbed through the screens until I came to his number. For some reason, I couldn't do it. I couldn't take that wave. I'd probably do the same damn thing if I ever got out to Shark Park. I was starting to piss myself off.

 

"Do it already, Mason. Or don't come back tomorrow," Bob said, startling me again in his big, booming voice. He came up behind me and grabbed the phone out of my hand.

 

"Hey!"

 

"I'm serious. What's this guy's name?"

 

"Milo," I asked. "Why?"

 

"This is why," he said as he punched Milo's digits from my contact list, and put the phone up to his ear. I wanted to snatch it from him, only he was my boss, and I didn't think I could get away with it without getting sacked. "You'll thank me for this later, I promise."

 

"Why are you doing this?" I asked.

 

"Because, when I was in college, the girl I didn't call back is some other guy's wife now, and I got stuck marrying this screeching boar of a woman with terminally bad breath and constant PMS." He stopped and raised a finger, "Oh, yeah, hi," he said, clearing his throat. "This is Bob. Is this Myron?" He looked at me strangely. "No?" I was practically coming out of my skin.

 

"It's Milo, MILO!" I screeched.

 

"Oh, yeah. Milo. That you? Uh huh, good. Sure. No, no, just his boss. Yeah, I know. Duh, right? It's his phone, and, well, he can explain it. Here, he wants to talk to you," he said, cracking a stupid grin and handing me the phone. "See you tomorrow, kid," he said as he went into the back, whistling some chirpy Will Lexington tune.

 

"Mason! Mason is that you? Are you all right?"

 

"Hi, Milo. Yeah, it's me. Everything's super. Trying to keep it real, is all. Couldn't be any better."

 

"You don't sound like it. How come you aren't outside yet? I thought you said you got off at nine. It's already like nine-thirty."

 

"I do. Hey! Hold up a minute. What did you say?" I said, practically pissing my pants, making a fast dash for the side exit where the employee's parking lot is.

 

"Oh good. There you are. You look so much better than you sound. I'm over here, sitting on your car," he said, waving at me from across the parking lot.

 

I clicked off my phone and ran as fast as I could over to my beloved Mini. I didn't slow down until I was ten feet away, and came to a screeching halt. Milo was sitting on the fender, all cleaned up, sans his trademark hat totally weird and was beaming at me. Plopped next to him on the dirty hood were two leaky Java Chip Frappuccino's.

 

"Hi," was all he said.

 

"Yeah, you said that once before, earlier. Is that some kind of line?" I asked, not the least bit worried. Guess he hooked onto some new phrase and ran with it.

 

"No," he said, way too quickly, and smiled even bigger, his dimples deep and dark, and as mischievous as ever.

 

I walked over in front of him and quickly stopped. I took a hard look at him, my mind whirling with a thousand crazy thoughts all good. Man, did he look great! All cleaned up and dressed sharply, his curly brown hair all product'd up and looking phenomenal under the harsh glare of the halide lights planted around the perimeter of the lot. And here I was, all grungy from working the last six hours. I could feel my long hair going crazy all over the place. "I so want to kiss you. Right here. Right now," I growled, poking his hard chest with my finger.

 

"So?" he said, looking me up and down, settling in on my eyes. He probably didn't realize he was hypnotizing me with his crazy smile. "Why dontcha?"

 

Saying that his kiss was out-of-this-world-un-fucking-believable-and lasted-a-lifetime would be a catastrophic understatement. It was so much more than that. And something I could never adequately describe. So I won't even bother.

 

"What are you doing here? I thought you were gonna text me or something," I said, once we broke off our kiss. I was standing between his muscular legs with both my hands on each of his meaty thighs. He hooked his ankles behind my knees and reeled me in tighter. It felt so good, so awesome being here with him like this. Safe from the world.

 

"Yeah, I was. I wanted to surprise you. I couldn't stop thinking about you like every freaking minute! It was driving me crazy. And I knew if I called you it would make it even worse, you know, because I'd have to wait the same amount of time before I could see you again. Besides, I didn't want to get you in trouble texting you at work. So you know what I did? I caught up all my homework, and even did a special-credit report for lab. I think I have it bad. Bad for some guy named Mason, that is."

 

"Oh, god! Me too. I have the same problem, only my guy's name isn't Mason. It does start with an M though. Dude, you're all I could think about today, and it totally disrupted my work," I said, shoving his hard shoulder. "Shit, I kept getting into all kinds of trouble. I started freaking out because you didn't text me or whatever. I was thinking you didn't want to see me because of what happened with Izzy and your sister."

 

"That's stupid, Mase, and you know it. But, yeah, I was royally teed-off when they bounced in like that, and I can't say I like your friend Izzy very much. We were having such a great time in the pool, and in bed I...well, I couldn't believe you were there with me, naked and all. I was so damned mad we didn't get to do what I wanted to do."

 

"Yeah, I know, me too. Can I tell you something?"

 

"Sure, I'm all ears."

 

"I see that," I said, grinning.

 

"Everybody can. They can see them from Mars," Milo moaned, but I don't think he was all that self-conscious about them. Besides, they looked epic on him and gave him character.

 

"No, they can't, you idiot. I like your ears. It's part of what makes you so darn cute. Where's your hat?"

 

"Wanted to look nice for my hot new boy."

 

"Oh, yeah? Where is he?" I said, looking around.

 

"Right here," he said, and flicked my forehead, making me laugh.

 

"See, I like this part," I said. "This part right here. I like going slow. I like standing this close to you with our clothes on. I like the way you smell. How weird is that? Don't get me wrong, I totally love the other stuff, too. It's like I'm making up for lost time or something. This sounds faggy, but since I earned my Boy Scout Coming-Out Rainbow badge today, I'm going to blurt it out: I like this romantic side. You waiting for me and bringing me coffee. I like getting to know you. And I want more. Lot's more."

 

"You do?"

 

"Hell yes!"

 

"Hey, Mason! That your squeeze?" Tracy called out from six or seven cars away.

 

Oh shit. Not again. "Tracy, go home," I yelled back, trying not to sound furious at her for interrupting us when I was saying something so profoundly intimate at least to me and somewhat embarrassing. Not to mention that her outburst caught some of the other employees by surprise, who made a point of turning around to see who I was with. I couldn't believe she picked this instant to fucking interrupt us. The only thing I could do was wave and say, "I'll see you tomorrow." She smiled and gave me the thumbs up. What the hell was I thinking, doing this PDA out here in front of everybody?

 

But that wasn't all. Peggy, the store's perfume-challenged bagger and wayward cart chaser, was three spaces away from us across the row, putting on her leathers. When she heard Tracy yell at us, she turned around and watched until Tracy got in her Prius and started to drive away, then Peggy marched quickly towards us. She pointed a gloved finger at Milo and growled, quite out of character for her, and said, "You! Yeah, you. You take good care of our Mason. We all love this kid. You hurt him in any way, shape or form and you'll have to answer to me. And know this: I will fuck you up like nobody's business. You'll look like steaming pile of cat vomit when I get through with you. Got it?"

 

"Yes ma'am," he squeaked out. "I won't hurt him. I promise."

 

"All right. You boys be good," she said, as she walked back to her classic Harley Sporty, but not before she gave me a wink and a tiny smile.

 

"Holy shit," was all I could squeak out. "I fucking don't believe it. This day keeps getting crazier and crazier."

 

"I'll say. Wow, Mase. You weren't kidding about being out. How many people have you told since you left my uncle's house this afternoon?"

 

"With her? And the dozen or so here in the parking lot that just found out? I think that makes seven thousand sixty-five at last count. See, it's not like I told any of them. They keep figuring it out. Shit, even my boss knows."

 

"Yeah, I heard. Why did he call me?"

 

"Because, like I told you," I said, unconsciously running my fingers up and down his taut thighs again. It was amazingly weird how comfortable I was with him so quickly. "I started doubting this thing between us. I was on a downer and he saw me. He overheard what was going on with me when I was talking to Tracy back in the freezer."

 

"What were you doing in the freezer? I thought you were a courtesy clerk," he asked.

 

"I am. Tracy and I were on a break, and I was telling her about my day. Don't worry. She's cool."

 

"K."

 

"Then, when I was clocking out and staring at my phone and debating whether I should call you or not, my boss grabbed my phone and took care of it. Hey do I have `I'M GAY' tattooed on my forehead or something? Or do you think someone set up a hashtag with something like #masonsqueer?"

 

"I don't know why it's happening. It's almost surreal. Unfortunately, we can't stop it and we can't do anything about it now."

 

"Don't I know it. Hey Milo, I've been thinking," I said, changing the subject. "How bad will it be for you if the guys on your team find out? You worried?"

 

"Naw, I'm not. The older coaches might give me some shit, but it'll probably be okay. But, naw, I'm not worried. Guess I'll see on Monday. What about you? Think you'll have any trouble?"

 

"I'd be stupid to think I won't. I'm hoping for the best though. Work didn't turn out to be a problem, actually, so that was good. I'm not too worried about school either. If I have to, I'll pound anybody that gives me shit, but I don't want that to happen. Actually, now that I got Peggy for protection. I can take her with me on Monday. Seriously, I am wondering what to do with my parents, though," I said.

 

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

 

"Because I don't have any idea how they'll react. I can honestly say I've never heard them say anything about gay people, either bad or good. My brothers were always talking smack, calling everybody fucking fags and fudge packers. So I don't know. I guess, if they freak and react badly, I can always move to Dubai with you guys. I'll pose as Cass's boyfriend."

 

"Hell to the yes! That'd be so f'n awesome. C'mon, let's get in the car and get out of here. What do you want to do tonight?" he asked, arching one of his dark eyebrows.

 

"I don't know. Hey how did you get here? Where's your truck?"

 

"Back at my uncle's house. Cass brought me. She was meeting some girlfriends at some frat party over in I.V. So, let's go. I can't stay up all night with you, as much as I want to. I tutor fourth-graders in math on Saturday mornings."

 

"Oh, that's way cool. Although, I can't stay out too late either. I have to be back here for work tomorrow morning at nine. I'm super starving though. Can we get some Weinerschnitzel? "

 

"Weinerschnitzel? Really? You been smoking some of Izzy's Big Sur Holy Weed on your break?" he said laughing. "I guess I could go for that. Haven't been there in a super long time."

 

"Me either. I overheard one of our customers say they're having the Weiner Nationals out there today. You know, where the wiener dogs race?"

 

"Oh, wow. Really? That would be...different. Um, don't you think that's over by now? It's getting kind of late."

 

"Yeah, I guess. I was trying to be spontaneous. Obviously, that's not one of my strong suits."

 

"Sure it is. If it was earlier, I would be totally down with that. So what about this: In-N-Out?"

 

"Awesome selection my friend. I loves me my animal style. Here, you drive. I'm beat," I said, pulling the keys out of my day pack. "You know how to drive a stick, right?"

 

"Yeah, only it's been a while. I might be a bit rusty."

 

"It's cool. I got a new clutch last month, and honestly, I'm so whipped you can drive there in first gear for all I care."

 

"I can do better than that. You'll see. And once we get some food in you, you'll be all amped up. Here, get in," Milo said, unlocking the passenger-side door and opening it for me. Such a gentleman, and I liked him even more for that.

 

I slipped into the seat and buckled up. I loved my eleven-year-old Mini almost as much as I loved my nine-year-old dog Floki, even if they both had sand in their seats and were starting to smell funny. I worked hard doing odd jobs around the neighborhood when I was younger, saving up so I could buy a car by the time I was old enough to get my license. I had a lot of help from my friend Angus, too. He found me a great deal on a salvaged title. Or a repo. Not sure which. In any event, he checked it out thoroughly and determined it to be an awesome steal. And so far, it has been.

 

It was actually relaxing to have someone else drive for a change. I always seemed to be the designated chauffeur for our crew. Even though they'd chip in gas money once in a while, sometimes it gets old being the same dude who can't party with everyone else.

 

Heading down Padre Street, towards the Heights, I took a quick, stealthy look over at Milo. He was paying serious attention to his shifting, but he had a cute smile on his face and his dimples were slightly showing again. Well, perhaps not a smile, maybe more like a look of contentment. It was exactly how I was feeling. I wanted to grab his hand, but since he needed both hands to drive, I couldn't do that, so I did the next best thing and put my palm shyly on his warm thigh. He quickly looked over at me and smiled at me.

 

"Thanks," I said.

 

"Mmmm. For what?"

 

"This. Picking me up. Earlier. Everything."

 

"Really? I was so worried you'd be angry."

 

"Why would I be mad? Um, dude, either speed up or downshift. And take it easy on the clutch."

 

"Okay, got it. For getting you busted. I bet when you woke up this morning you never thought that you'd be kicked out of the closet, especially this fast."

 

"Well, yeah. Seems more like getting kicked out of the closet and down three flights of stairs. I'm not mad about that. I mean, sure, I was worried for a second when Izzy and your sister bounced in on us. Now, I don't know. In a way, I think it's good. Less hassle, maybe. We'll see how it goes. But I'm not mad." I gave his leg another sharp squeeze. "I'm glad you flashed me your boner in class. That was wild, and freakin' hot, dude."

 

"I know. I do stupid stuff sometimes, especially when I really, really want something. Like playing ball. I automatically react and don't think."

 

"Yeah, I'm getting that."

 

"So, watcha want?" he asked as we pulled up to the end of the long line of cars snaking out of the lot and out onto the street.

 

"Double-double, animal style, fries and their largest lemonade with lots of ice. What're you having?"

 

"Same. Only I like my fries animal style too. Hey, I like driving your car. I thought it'd be strange since it's so small, but it doesn't seem like it. It's frisky."

 

"Yeah, I like it too. It has lots of room for all my stuff I take to the beach, and I can carry my boards on the roof rack. Plus, it's got a killer stereo. Sorry it's so dirty and smells like wet dog," I said.

 

"No worries. My truck needs a good wash, too. If you're not working on Sunday, maybe you can come over to my uncle's house, and we can wash each other's."

 

"You're talking cars, or washing something else?"

 

"Ooooh, I see where you're going with that. I love it!" he said as he reached over to grab hold of my hand. "Hey, you know that guy? He keeps looking at us like he knows us. I've seen him do like a triple-take."

 

"Aw, shit. That's Rob. Rob Banks. I forgot he started working here recently. Bet he recognizes my car. He's part of our Grove crew. He knows this ride because I'm always driving those guys around. I'm sure he's wondering why you're driving my car. Unless, of course, Izzy ratted me out. He said he wasn't going to, though."

 

"Well, he's sure giving us the stink-eye, that's for sure. Should I be jealous?" he said with a cute laugh, but I think he might be jealous. For some-odd reason, that made me happy.

 

"No, he's as straight as they come. Then again, I thought that about you. And Izzy, too. Guess my gaydar has a Trojan or something."

 

"Why would your gaydar have a condom?"

 

"No! A virus, you dork."

 

"Oh, yeah," he laughed. "Guess I'm tired too."

 

"Anyway, you probably don't know this. Rob says he has this magic purple underwear that gets him all these girls. If it's true, he should patent it. He'd totally make a mint," I said.

 

"I bet." After a couple of minutes of silence, he asked, "So how do you want to play this? You know he's going to say something to us." We were the second-to-next car up, behind a sweet-looking restored microbus, and Rob had made his way over to our side of the drive-thru so he could be the dude who took our money and give us our grub.

 

"Doesn't matter anymore. He'll find out soon enough, even if Izzy doesn't say anything. How do you want to play it?"

 

"I don't care. I'm thinking about joining the GSA club on Monday, so it makes no difference to me."

 

"Are you fucking serious?" I totally wasn't expecting that.

 

"Sure. And I'm going to start sitting at the drama group's table at lunch with all the fancy boys and talk about hair product and Sebastian Castro's latest YouTube video."

 

"You are so full of shit. You're not gonna leave your jock table."

 

"Naw, I'm only funnin' ya. Seriously, I don't care anymore. Maybe we should. Anyway, this is good, you and me, here like this."

 

"I know. I like it too. Hey! Maybe we could have lunch together on Monday. That would be cool," I said.

 

"I'd be down with that. Where would we sit?"

 

"I don't know. Our own table, maybe? We could start our own gay-jock-surfer table."

 

"We could get your friend Peggy to stand watch like secret service," he joked.

 

"Yeah, right," I said. I took another look back up at the window. "Let's see what happens with Rob first, and go with the flow after that." I squeezed his hand once more, then tried to let it go, but he wouldn't let me. After a second, I saw what he was doing. "Fine, we can blow his mind, too. I don't care. But you gotta let go to shift, dummy," I joked.

 

"You sure?"

 

"About the shifting, yes. And the other thing, no, but do it anyway. What the hell."

 

***

 

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