The following is fiction. It contains some scenes involving sex. If reading such material is against the law, please do not read this. The author expressly wishes all laws to be obeyed and does not encourage illegal behavior.
I have been enormously gratified by my readers’ response to my first two stories, 8th Grade and Prom. Your comments to me have been exceedingly generous and deeply appreciated. Many of you were kind enough to send along story ideas, and some of these ideas have been incorporated in Tim. I cannot thank you enough for your interest and suggestions, even if I cannot acknowledge your participation by name. There are too many of you and I used bits and pieces of what was suggested to the extent even I am confused!
Some gay sex is included in this story as it is a visceral part of and helps illuminate the whole. The story is not principally about sex, and if your interest lies in reading about sexual activity, you will find this story disappointing and uninteresting to the extreme.
Those of you that have read my first two stories know that I like writing romantic tales of young boys learning who they are. This story has a somewhat darker and more troubling theme, and may have a message that is objectionable to some. I think the majority of you will enjoy it.
I love hearing from readers. It’s the reward I get for writing these stories. Any comments will reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I rode my bike to the park, wondering what I was doing. I’d worked so hard for so long to stay apart from everyone. Now, just because Terry Kauffman asked me to, here I was riding to the park to meet him. It was nuts. Yet, I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to meet him. I guess I wanted to get on with my life. Being alone all the time sucks. It sucks big time. Trying to live in your head doesn’t work, eventually. I guess I’d become fed up with it. I was ready for something different.
The park was really pretty, but it was a park and so kids my age didn’t hang there much. It wasn’t a mall, it didn’t serve food, it didn’t have a movie theater or an arcade or other teenagers and it was outside. But I liked it a lot and because hanging with other kids wasn’t something I did, I spent a lot of time there. The bridge was an old stone bridge that crossed a slowly meandering creek that ran through several acres of woods that comprised the rear portion of the park. There were actually three bridges that crossed the creek in various locations as it flowed through the woods and then through part of the park as well, ending in a small lake. But when someone said, “the bridge,” everyone knew he meant the stone bridge. It was sort of a landmark. It was built of large native stones mortared together and had the classic arched shaped. Because it was usually shaded by large trees, it had lots of moss covering the lower parts of it. The combination of the nearby woods, the shade, the slowly moving creek and the moss-covered picturesque stone bridge made the area of the bridge very popular, and random benches had been installed in the area so people could sit and just soak up the pleasant environment.
There was a paved path leading to and across the bridge that became a gravel path as it entered the woods. I rode my bike to the bridge, then dismounted and walked it across the lawn to one of the nearby benches. It was that time between late afternoon and early evening, still late summer, and the area was deserted. Other than bird songs and chirps, and the scuttling of squirrels and maybe other small animals and the soft gurgling of the creek, the park was silent. The bridge was far enough from the city streets that no traffic sounds reached me.
The day had been warm and the beginning of twilight had not yet been accompanied by a drop in temperature. I was wearing shorts and a polo shirt. No jacket. Riding here had warmed me so that I was lightly sweating. I propped my bike against the back of one of the benches and sat down. It was 21 minutes since I’d hung up.
I didn’t have to wait long. Within a couple minutes, I could see someone riding a bike coming up the path, and it quickly resolved into Terry. He was dressed much as I was, although he had on a tee shirt. When he reached the point on the path closest to my bench, he stopped and walked his bike over to me.
“Hi,” he said cheerfully. “Have you been here long?” He smiled his 500 watt smile.
“Nope. Just got here.”
“Good. Tim, thanks for coming. I don’t know why I was so uncomfortable talking to you on the phone. That isn’t me. Now it’s like I’m making a big deal out of this and making it mysterious and all, and it isn’t like that. Hey, can I sit down?”
He was still standing, holding up his bike, looking at me. I told him sure, sit down, and he did, laying his bike on the lawn by mine.
“OK, I’ll just get to it then.” He looked at me with slightly raised eyebrows, as if asking if that was all right with me. I nodded very briefly, not sure if my permission was being requested or not.
“Here’s the deal then. In our Citizenship class, we’ve been given an assignment. Everyone has to talk to someone they don’t know, spend some time with them, get to know them. Then we have to, like, interview them, ask questions, and write an in-depth report on them, almost like a biography of them. Mr. Charles told us the purpose of the assignment is so the shy kids––well, he didn’t say it like that but that’s what he meant––in the class are forced to interact with people they don’t know to get them to overcome being shy or at least learn how to approach people and develop some social skills, and also so all of us can learn about the lives other kids have led. This is to acquaint us with other lifestyles and other ways to grow up that are different from our own. You know, different cultures and family traditions and like that? I know, I know, I’m sounding like a teacher, but it’s easier to say it like he did.
“Anyway, I tried to think of who I could talk to and realized I knew and talked to almost everyone at school. Mr. Charles was very specific: we had to talk to a student at school we’d never met, never had any contact with. A complete stranger. Probably this isn’t too hard for most kids, but it is for me because almost no one at school is really a stranger. It’s just the way I am, I go out of my way to meet and talk to everyone. I like doing that and I do it all the time. Every day. Do that every day, every school year, and pretty soon there aren’t that many strangers around.”
He took a large breath and looked out at the park. We were still the only ones around. He continued explaining to me. “So, I began looking around, trying to find someone to be the subject of the assignment, and I looked around a lot before I noticed you. But I caught sight of you across the quad a few days ago, and I’d swear when I did you were looking at me. I’d never noticed you before. I asked who you were, and I had to ask four kids before I found someone who knew your name. This was a few days ago, like I said. Since then, whenever I’ve seen you, I’ve tried to walk over to talk, but somehow, by the time I’ve worked my way over to where you were, you weren’t there any longer. Very strange. I’ve almost got the feeling you were doing it on purpose!” He laughed a little, thinking how preposterous that was, I guessed.HHHHHHHHHHH
Actually, while I could understand how he might feel that I wouldn’t try to avoid him––who would try to avoid him, for God’s sake?––I could also understand why he wouldn’t notice me in the past. And it wasn’t just that I tried to be inconspicuous. Even without that effort, I wasn’t very noticeable. I was naturally slender––an unkind soul might resort to the word “skinny”––and I was also short for my age. And I was also a very plain kid. What percent of kids are extremely striking looking like he was, maybe 5%? 3%? And then there are the good looking kids, then the ones that you take notice of because they appeal to you in some way or some characteristic stands out, and then the plain kids, and then the ones if I were to be brutal and unfeeling I could call the ugly kids, but to be more PC, the looks-challenged kids. I would probably be just holding up outside the last category, maybe squeaking by in the category just above that. In other words, if I had to get by in life on my looks, I wouldn’t be eating lobster dinners very often.
I was just a very plain, very ordinary kid that wasn’t noticed for his looks, his body, his sparkling personality or for any other reason, really. Mr. Unnoticeable, that was me. I had slightly unmanageable, curly dark brown hair that wouldn’t cooperate no matter what I tried to do with it. I had a sprinkling of blemishes on my face, not enough to warrant scornful looks but enough to keep my ego firmly in check. My features were regular but uninteresting. My eyes were brown. Not a deep, expressive, variegated, ever-changing and mysterious brown. No, just brown. There are movie stars and there are extras. I was an extra. I was one of the people hoping desperately for the beautifying effects of age, while at the same time realizing most kids are their handsomest at 16. I was 16. This may well be as good as it gets. A terribly uninspiring thought.
I had the opportunity to break in when he was chuckling at the preposterousness of me avoiding him, and I took it to ask a question. “So why did you want to talk on the phone instead of just telling me all this in the locker room?”
He got a slightly embarrassed look on his face, and actually looked down for a moment. He forced his eyes back to mine before speaking. “Well, it occurred to me that if I said what I just said to you on the phone, you could be offended by it. I mean, I was sort of implying a couple things about you that you could take as insulting. I didn’t mean them that way at all, please believe me when I say that, but you could have been embarrassed by hearing me say them, you know, about me knowing everyone but you, about other kids not knowing your name and all, and if you were embarrassed, I thought it might be easier for you if you didn’t have to look at me, or feel me looking at you. But then, when I called you, I realized that I needed to be able to face you and judge your reaction to what I was saying. And you needed to be able to judge how sincere I was.”
He looked nervous again. I realized it took him some real courage to say all that, to open himself up that way. I admired him for being able to do that. From all I’d seen, watching him, I really did think he was a nice guy who had empathy for others, and what he was saying certainly didn’t suggest anything different.
“Tim,” he continued after a pause, sincerity coloring both his voice and eyes, “I’d really appreciate it if you’d work with me on this. I know we don’t know each other, but we’re not supposed to if we follow the rules of the assignment. We’ll spend some time getting to know each other, hanging out or whatever, and then when you’re comfortable with me and ready, I’ll interview you. I have a lot of in-depth questions I’ve been given to ask, but, that’s all there is to it. Will you do it? Can we do this together?” He got a sort of hangdog, pleading look on his face that was adorable. I doubt very many people ever said no to anything he asked.
But this was not good. This, in fact, was terrible. Of all the things Terry wanted to meet me about, this was about the worst thing I could imagine. Here I was trying to keep my life private and doing a pretty good job of it even if I was becoming terminally lonely in the process. Now, this. Someone wanted to tear the lid off my life and look inside. Not just look inside but poke around a little, too, to see if there was anything interesting hiding in the corners. No, I definitely didn’t want that. Had he wanted, say, help in school in some subject, OK, sure. If he’d wanted to know what city I’d moved from, where my old school was for some reason, or why I had a northern accent, I could tell him. But let him get to know me really well, then ask probing questions about my life, about who I was? There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening!
But how could I tell him that? How could I say no to him? That was a problem. As scared as I was of doing what Terry wanted, I was responding to his warmth, his personality, his charm. I was sitting next to him on a park bench on a warm late afternoon, just the two of us, no one else around, talking quietly to each other, and I was loving every minute of it. I felt something, sitting there with him. It was a feeling of comradeship I hadn’t felt in it seemed like forever, and I didn’t want to let it go. The only negative note in the entire situation was what he was asking of me. His physical presence, the atmosphere, he and I talking, it was like therapy for an illness I hadn’t been aware I had. Being engaged in a conversation with someone that was meaningful and human, and not trying like usual to be off-putting, not trying to create a negative image of myself in that someone’s head, it just felt so good, so right.
If I just told him I wasn’t interested and walked away, it would be rude and I’d be slamming the door on a possible acquaintance that I badly wanted. If I told him OK, I’d be opening a can of worms I had no intention of opening. So, what to do? What would you do?
I tried very quickly to look at the two options, saying yes or saying no. And very quickly I realized that I really, really didn’t want to say no and have him just walk away from me. Spending just a few minutes with him was sort of like eating just one potato chip. I had to have more. I had to. Even if it caused me problems.
I needed to answer him, but had no time to think. So when a solution to my dilemma flashed into my mind, I jumped at it. It’s probably better to think things out, but I was young and foolish. What did I know? Rash actions can lead to unpredictable consequences, but did I consider that? Not for a moment.
OK, so what I decided to do was stupid. I know that now. But what I did was born of desperation and loneliness and not just a little bit because it was Terry Kauffman asking me, with all of his appealing looks and irrepressible charm staring me in the face. And I didn’t have time to think every little thing through to its logical end. So, I told him yes, with my fingers all but crossed.
“Terry,” I answered with my eyes looking down into my lap instead of meeting his, “I’m a little uncomfortable with this, but yes, I’ll try to help you. We can at least give it a try.” I tried a hesitant smile at him, lifting my eyes briefly to catch his.
“Hey, that’s great!” he enthused, and his smile against mine looked like a nova compared to a match. There wasn’t any hesitancy in his. He was elated. He thought for a moment, then added, “Look, it’s probably too late to get started tonight. We have to spend some time together, get to know each other. How about we meet for lunch at school tomorow? Eat together? We can start talking then, and make arrangements to meet after school too, if you can do that. You don’t have a job do you?”
I shook my head. He smiled again. I was getting to like that smile a lot. I’d seen it before, of course. But now it was directed at me.
“OK, great. We’ll talk about all this tomorrow. I should be getting home now. But Tim, thanks, and I really mean it. I’m really looking forward to getting to know you. So, see you tomorrow at lunch then?”
Shyly, and I’m afraid a little reluctantly, which I hoped he didn’t detect, I nodded. He smiled back, then stood up, climbed on his bicycle and rode it over to the path, where he turned, waved at me with his big smile still lighting his face, and rode off.
The shadows were starting to lengthen by now. There were only a few low-wattage streetlights in the park and they were flickering on, and it was just beginning to get difficult to see much in the places where the trees were the densest. I stood up and grabbed my bike. My feelings were all in a muddle. I wasn’t sure what I was thinking. A conflicting mixture of feelings was surging through my head. But there were several overriding individual ones, several that wouldn’t go away.
As I rode home, staying mostly on the sidewalks because it was that time of day when drivers can’t see people on bicycles very well, the questions that were overriding all others were, could I really get away with totally making up an imaginary life history for myself to tell to Terry? How would I get away with it? What if I slipped up and got found out? But way in the back of my head, there was also one little thought that kept popping up. It enthusiastically kept saying, yeah, man, go for it!