This story is a continuation of the story of Kevin Foley, Rick Mashburn, and their "sons," Tim Murphy and Kyle Goodson, that started in "Tim."  It is about gay men and gay boys, and it contains descriptions of sex.  The sex is never intergenerational.  If you are offended by descriptions of gay sex, or if the law in your area forbids you to read them, please exit the story.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it.  I appreciate feedback, and you can send it to me at

--Brew Maxwell


Chapter 2

(Kevin's Perspective)

I was really bored when my phone rang.  Business had been decent for the last couple of months, and I had plenty to do, but I just didn't feel like doing it.  When my assistant told me Kyle was on the phone, I perked right up.

"Hey, buddy," I said.  "What's up?"

"We need you."

There was a seriousness and urgency in his voice that let me know somebody was in trouble.

"Is anybody hurt," I asked.


"Where are you?"

"We're at work," he said.  "We found a boy who's in trouble, Kevin, and we don't know what to do about it.  He's sixteen, and he's gay, and he has to have sex for money.  He's naked in the room, and he's got this bar between his feet and handcuffs around each ankle.  He can't walk with it on, I don't think."

"Where are his parents," I asked.

"His mom is dead, and I don't guess he has a dad.  This guy who used to be his mom's boyfriend sort of has him prisoner.  Herman, the motel manager, got me and Tim to go buy him some food.  That's how we discovered him.  He hadn't eaten since Sunday."

"Is he sick or anything," I asked.

"No.  I wanted to call the police, but he begged me not to do that.  He said the guy would kill him if I did that and he found out about it.  Tim and I don't know what to do, but we know we have to do something.  We can't just leave him in that room."

"No.  You're right.  I'm glad you called me.  I'll be there in about ten minutes.  Let me talk to Tim."

Kyle put Tim on.

"Hey, buddy.  Are you all right," I asked.

"Yeah.  Kyle's about to shit his pants, he's so scared.  But you know me.  I'm the brave one."

I heard flesh hit flesh, and Tim said a loud "owww," which was immediately followed by laughter.  God, I love those kids, I thought.

"You better come quick to save Kyle.  I'm about to throw him off this balcony."  More laughter from their end.

"What room," I asked.

"236," Tim said.

"Be there in a minute," I said, and I hung up.


I saw them on the balcony when I drove into the parking lot.  The lot was crowded, and it took me a few minutes to find a parking place.  Once I did, though, I hurried up the outdoor stairs to where the boys were.

"Hey, little brothers," I said when I got up to them.  I put an arm around each of them and hugged them.  They smelled good, healthy, clean, like boys are supposed to smell.

"Hey, big brother," they said in unison.

"What have y'all gotten us into here, boys," I asked.

"I don't know," Kyle said.  I could tell he thought the situation was serious.

"Well, let's go talk to him," I said.

"He's naked," Tim said.

"And he's hard," Kyle said by way of elaboration.

"Thanks, guys.  I think I can handle it," I said.

They both giggled.

I was kind of surprised at how barren the room looked when I first walked in.  Then I realized the bedding was all gone, and there weren't any curtains in the room.  The room smelled like pot smoke.  There, on the bed propped up against the headboard, was a very nice looking boy of about sixteen.  He was, indeed, naked, but he wasn't hard, as I had been led to believe he would be.

"Hi," I said.

"Are you a cop," he asked.  "You have to tell me if you are, you know."  His voice was awfully defensive sounding, and it was pretty obvious he had been around the block a time or two.

"No.  I'm not a cop.  I'm a friend of these guys," I said, gesturing with my head toward Tim and Kyle.  "Their big brother, in fact."

"Big brother," he asked, incredulously.

"Well, honorary big brother," I said.  "My name is Kevin.  What's yours?"

"Justin.  Why are you wearing a tie?"

"I was at work when they called.  I wear a suit and tie to work every day.  I'll take the tie off, if it bothers you," I said, thinking, If it bothers you as much as it bothers me in this heat.

"No.  It makes you look really handsome."  He moistened his lips seductively.  Justin was quite a piece of work, he was.  He didn't know me from Adam, and there he lay, buck naked, flirting with me.

"Tim, would you get Justin a towel, please, son," I asked.

"There aren't any," Kyle volunteered.

"You guys go down to the office and see if they have a hacksaw.  I'm going to get him out of this thing," I said, referring to his shackles.

"Yes, sir," my boys said at the same time.

"So, what are you going to do?  Are you going to fuck me," Justin asked.

I was quite taken aback by that question, but I decided I could be just as tough as that kid could be.

"No, I'm not going to fuck you.  In fact, I'm not even going to touch you.  Lose the tough guy stuff, okay?  Those two boys don't need that, all right?  We ain't your tricks, man.  If you're lucky, we might become your friends, but you have to meet us half way.  Nobody here is interested in sex with you."

"Yeah, you say that, but..."

"But I mean it.  Where do you come from?"

"Alabama," he said.

"That's a big state.  Did you live in a town?"

"Outside Birmingham," he said.

"Why did you come here," I asked.

"He got into some trouble on a drug deal.  He's a fugitive."


"The guy I'm with," he said.

"A lover," I asked.

"Shit, no, man.  He's fucked me a bunch of times, and he's made me suck his cock, but he ain't my lover, that's for damn sure.  He's more like my master."

"Voluntary," I asked.

"No way.  This thing on my legs ain't kink.  It's to keep me from running.  That's why I ain't got no clothes and this room don't have no sheets or towels or curtains.  Hell, he even ripped down the shower curtain to make sure I couldn't cover myself to run."

Justin spread his legs a little, and he started getting an erection.  His body was filthy, and his body odor was pretty powerful.

"I thought I asked you to cool it with the sex stuff, man," I said rather gruffly when I noticed it.

"I ain't doing it on purpose, Kevin.  I'm only sixteen, man.  It just happens, you know?"

"I know, buddy," I said.  "I'm sorry I yelled at you."

He smiled a shy smile at me just then, and I wondered if maybe I could get somewhere with that kid.

Tim and Kyle came back into the room just then, empty handed.

"Herman couldn't find a hacksaw," Kyle said.  "Do you want me to go home to get one?"  They both saw Justin's erection, and they looked at him with utter contempt and anger.  They were protecting me, and I knew it.

"Leave him alone, guys," I said.  "It's just a 'free bone.'"  That was our term for the spontaneous erections they got constantly.  I hoped they understood Justin wasn't putting the make on me, at least not at that moment.

"Do y'all know what a hacksaw looks like," I asked.

"Is it a power saw," Tim asked.  "My dad has a power saw, but it's part of this big table thing."

"No, that's not it, Tim.  Kyle, let me see your phone, please."

I dialed Rick's cell phone number, and it directed me to his voice mail.  I dialed his pager number, and I entered the numeric code we had worked out for when we absolutely, positively had to talk to one another right at that moment.  We had only used it about a dozen times, so I knew he would know it was urgent and get back to me as fast as he could.  Sure enough, Kyle's phone rang in less than a minute.

"What?  Where are you?  Is everything all right?"  He was almost breathless.

"I'm fine.  The kids are fine."  I told him where I was and that I needed him to bring me a hacksaw and a couple of extra blades as soon as he could.

"Are you breaking in or breaking out," he asked.

I couldn't help laughing at what he said.

"Breaking out.  Now get your ass over here on the double!  Please?"  He laughed at what I said.

In just a few minutes Rick knocked on the door, and Kyle let him in.  He did a double take when he saw Justin on the bed and the rest of us sitting around.   He looked at me, at Tim, and at Kyle.  He was wearing one of those faces that made me laugh and, under different circumstances, get hard at the same time.

"Er," he said.

"It's a long story," I said.  "Just cut that thing off his feet, okay?"

"Okay, but if this is some kind of foot fetish situation and he floods my face, I'm out of here," Rick said.

Justin laughed immediately, and I laughed, too, when I figured out what he had said.  It was totally lost on Tim and Kyle, and, frankly, I was glad it was.

"Can we have a towel or something," Rick asked.

"Tim and Kyle, go get some towels from somewhere," I said.  "Better yet, run home and get some clothes for him."

"Yes, sir," they both said.  They were out of that room in an instant.

"What's your name, buddy," Rick asked.  I was absolutely amazed at how gentle he sounded.  Rick was an imposing guy by any stretch of the imagination, and hearing him talk to that boy like that warmed my heart.

"Justin," the boy said.

"Hey, Justin.  I'm Rick the Liberator."  They shook hands.

Rick went to work with his hacksaw on Justin's shackles.  The handcuffs were made of steel, but cutting them was the only hope we had of getting that contraption off Justin.  He got the first side cut through in about fifteen minutes.  When his right leg was free, Justin stretched his entire body in a way he hadn't been able to do for days.

"God, almighty, that feels so good," he said.  

"Are you cramping, buddy," Rick asked.

"Yeah, a little bit.  I can handle it, though.  Just keep cutting."

The spermlets returned just about then, and they had clothes for Justin.  Since both boys wore briefs, that's what they had to bring to Justin.

"What, no boxers," Justin said, teasing.

"Shut up and put the fucking briefs on so you can get that thing out of my face," Rick said.  He was teasing, too, and Justin laughed.  

Rick had been in the room less than a half hour, and already he and Justin had bonded in a way that I knew I probably never would with that kid.  Justin put on the briefs, passing the bar through the left leg hole, and then he put on the khaki shorts the boys had brought for him.  I assumed the clothes belonged to Kyle, but they just as well could have belonged to Tim.  His growth spurt was well underway, and he, Kyle, Rick, and I were almost identical in height.

Rick worked another twenty minutes on the other handcuff, sweating profusely, and finally Justin was free.

"I feel like I ought to hug you, man," Justin said to Rick, when he was all through.

"That's allowed," Rick said, and Justin hugged him hard.  "All right, now let's get the hell out of here."

"How am I gonna pay," Justin asked.  "I don't want the cops on my ass for skipping out on the room bill, that's for sure."

"You're not going to pay," Kyle said.  "The stay was complimentary."

"What," Justin asked.

"Watch this."  Kyle picked up the phone and dialed the front office.  He asked to speak to Herman.  He told Herman that room 236 was a comp.  He was showing off for us and for Justin.

"A 'comp' means it's complimentary.  He doesn't have to pay."  His voice sounded just a little impatient when he said that.


"I'll talk to him about it, Herman.  Don't worry, man.  It'll be fine with him.  Just do the books, okay?"  Kyle made a facial expression that said "Sheesh" and communicated his frustration with Herman's thickness.


"No, I'm not paying.  Nobody is paying.  It's free, Herman.  Just enter c-o-m-p where you would ordinarily put the charge.  They'll know what that means."  His frustration was mounting, and when he spelled the word, Rick and I giggled.  Tim was watching and listening intently as his boyfriend tried his power play. 


"I know you are accountable to corporate, Herman.  But guess what?  I am corporate.  I own this place, Herman, or at least I will in a few years.  Just go with me on this one, okay?"


"I know you're the general manager, Herman.  And I know I'm just the beach boy and Tim is just the pool boy.  I know that.  But I also know my dad, Herman, and you really don't."


"If you get the fucking police after this boy, Herman, I will key your car.  I will poison your cat.  I will make your life miserable, and that's after I convince my dad you've been embezzling from US.  Do you now think you can type c-o-m-p?"  Kyle was red in the face, and I was doing everything in our power to keep from laughing our asses off.  Rick no longer looked amused.  


"No, I really didn't mean that.  I'm sorry I said it."


"Yes, I know you have two little kids and a third one on the way, Herman, but please don't call the police on my friend."  He had switched to a pleading tone.  


"That didn't hurt, did it?  Thank you, Herman.  And have a nice day.  Bye."  Kyle hung up the phone.  "Jesus Christ!"

Everybody in the room had listened with rapt attention, and Tim and I applauded when he hung up the phone.

"Was Herman a little recalcitrant," I asked.

"What does that mean," Kyle asked in return

"Hard to get along with," I said.

"Yeah.  What's it to him?  He doesn't know my dad like I do.  My dad don't give two farts in a windstorm whether he comps this room or not."

Rick, Tim, and I did know Gene Goodson, Kyle's dad, and we knew Kyle was absolutely right.

"You're right, Kyle, but you challenged Herman's authority, didn't you," Rick said.  "You were acting like you were the boss, and you're not.  Herman is.  You really are just the beach boy."

Kyle thought for a few seconds about what Rick had just said.  

"I guess what I did was pretty shitty, wasn't it?  Trying to pull rank because I'm the boss's son when I don't have any rank to pull."

"No, what you did in saving Justin's ass wasn't shitty at all, buddy," Rick said.  "But the way you did it was maybe just a little shitty."

Kyle's eyes started to fill up, and I knew that crying in front of Justin was absolutely the last thing he wanted to do.

"Are you mad at me," he asked Rick.

"This is about how mad I am at you Kyle."  Saying that, Rick gathered him into a bear hug.  Tim grinned when Rick did that.

We had spent an enormous amount of time with Tim and Kyle in the previous five-and-a-half months, and there had been many teachable moments like that one during that time.  Once or twice each boy had bowed up when I got on to them, and the other one usually tried to defend his boyfriend when it happened.  When Rick got on to them, as he had more times than I had, they actually seemed grateful that he had set them straight.  That was a tribute both to their strength of character and to Rick's way with kids.

"Let's get out of here," Rick said when they finished their hug.  "This place makes me nervous."


The boys went back to work pushing bottled water and sun screen, and Rick returned to the golf courses and mowing crews he supervised.  I had the pleasure of doing something with Justin.  What to do, I wondered.  I figured that eventually we'd have to make contact with some kind of authorities, but I didn't even know for sure who those authorities might be.  Calling the police was the obvious thing to do, but the kid really hadn't committed any crimes that I knew of, at least not crimes that had victims.

"What's your last name, Justin," I asked as we drove out of the parking lot.

"Davis," he said.  "What's yours?"

"Foley," I replied.  "Do you have any relatives?"

"I've got some grandparents I think, but they don't really know me, or maybe not even that I'm alive," he said.  "My mom ran away from home when she was fourteen, and she never went back home.  They didn't come to my mom's funeral when she died."

"How old were you when that happened," I asked.

"I was eleven."

"Do you miss her," I asked.

"Not really," he said.  "I guess I did a little bit when she first died, but she was usually pretty wasted on drugs, best I can remember."

"What about you?  Do you do drugs," I asked.  I really didn't know what to expect by way of an answer.  He had certainly been forthcoming about his lifestyle and profession, so there was a chance he would be honest about that, too.

"I smoke weed sometimes, but that's all.  No hard stuff for me.  He'd bust my ass for me if I couldn't perform when I'm needed to, and I don't want to be a junkie, anyway."

"You said something about a drug deal gone bad.  What happened," I asked.

 "I don't know too many details, but I do know he killed a guy.  An undercover cop.  He came home covered with blood, and he made me wash him.  Then we hauled ass for down here.  I didn't think that was too smart, what with this place crawling with people from back home, but he didn't ask me."  I could tell Justin was used to talking with adults.  "Where are we going?"

"I'm taking you to my house," I said.  "I'll call the office and tell them I can't come back in today.  I'll stay there with you."

"What's your wife going to say about me being there," he asked.

"I don't have a wife.  You've met my partner.  Rick."

"Your partner?  What do you mean?"

"He's my partner.  My life partner," I said.

"Are you guys gay?"

I nodded.

"Holy shit!  I figured you guys for friends, but straight friends.  This kinda changes things, don't it?"

"What do you mean," I asked.

"Well, at least y'all don't think I'm scum just 'cause I'm gay.  For starters."

"That's true," I said.  "We don't think you're scum just because you're gay.  Some of our best friends are gay."  I had intended that to be funny, but he didn't laugh.

"I guess so," he said rather seriously.  After a pause he asked, "Do you guys do three-ways?"

"You don't really know us, but what do you think the answer to that question is based on what you've already seen of us," I asked.

"It was a dumb question.  I'm an idiot.  Forget about it," he said.

"No, it wasn't a dumb question," I said.  "A lot of couples do three-ways, gay and straight.  We don't judge what other people do.  And maybe some day we'll decide we'd like to try that for variety or curiosity or something.  If that ever happens, though, it will be with another adult, not a kid.  Right now we're totally monogamous, though.  Do you know what that means?"

"It means you just do each other.  That's cool, man.  No shame in that.  I'd get pretty damn tired of the same ole dick up my ass, day in and day out, but if you don't, then I won't judge you, either."

It occurred to me to have a little talk with him about love and commitment and about life being more than random sex, but I realized I wasn't talking to Tim and Kyle.  I had no idea, really, what that boy had been through, and I was pretty sure he wouldn't have many handles from his past to hang those ideas on.  

Driving down our street, I pointed out Kyle's house.

"Goddamn!  That's a fucking mansion.  I been in a place like that a time or two, for tricks."

"That's where Tim lives," I said, "and this is our house."  I turned into the driveway and parked in the garage.  

"Jesus Christ!  This is nice, too," he said.  "And Tim and Kyle are your neighbors.  Do they know y'all are gay?"

"Oh, yeah.  Tim lived with us for five months recently while his dad was on a ship with the Navy.  His dad has just been home about two weeks.  He's going to be staying with us for the rest of the summer, too, starting this coming weekend.  His dad has to go down to the University of Florida to take a prep course for his state license exam."

"Does he know y'all are gay?  His dad, I mean?"

"Of course, he does.  He's a very good friend of ours."

"And he still left his kid with y'all?"  Justin was having a difficult time with what he was discovering about us.  I wanted to lecture him about the fact that gay couples could live ordinary, normal, happy lives, but I figured there wasn't much point in it.

We entered the house from the garage into the laundry room, and from the laundry room into the kitchen.

"Damn, this is nice, dude," he said.

"Thanks.  It's comfortable for us."

Justin opened the refrigerator and looked around inside.  He reached in for what I thought would be a coke, and he pulled out a beer.

"You mind," he asked.

"Yeah, I do mind," I said.  "The beer is for the adults.  You can have anything else you see in there, but kids don't drink in this house."

He sort of grinned and chuckled a bit at what I'm sure he considered the eccentricity of an old fart, but he put the beer back and pulled out a coke.

"Hand me one, too, please," I said.

He thought for a moment, and I was pretty sure he was going to hand me a beer.  After a few seconds, though, he handed me a coke.

"Thanks.  Let me show you around," I said.  We walked into the den with our cokes.

"This is the den.  It's where we spend most of our time.  We have a living room and dining room off that way, but they don't have furniture in them yet."

We had a pretty nice entertainment center with all the latest gadgets, and he checked it out pretty thoroughly.

"All this stuff work," he asked.

"Sure," I said.

"Nice.  Nice," he said, nodding his head.  

"This is our bedroom," I said, opening the door.  "And through there is our bathroom, although Rick usually showers in the hall bathroom in the morning to save time."

"This looks like something out of a fucking magazine," he said.  He walked to the door to the bathroom.  "Oh, wow!  This is fucking awesome, dude.  I wonder how many guys could fit in that tub all at one time."  He winked at me when he said that, and I wasn't sure if he was teasing me or flirting with me.

"I know it'll hold two," I said.

He looked at me like he didn't believe those words had come out of my mouth.  Then he grinned.

I showed him down the hall in the other direction.  We passed the hall bathroom and then the guest bedroom.  Across from those were two smaller bedrooms, Rick's room and a room that didn't have any furniture in it.

"Who sleeps in these rooms," he asked.

"This was Tim's room when he stayed with us, and we promised him and Kyle it could be their room when they sleep over with us.  This is just a spare room, and this is Rick's room," I said.

"He don't sleep with you," he asked incredulously.

"Sure he does.  He doesn't sleep in here.  It's where he keeps his stuff.  He comes in here once in a while when he wants some privacy, but that doesn't happen more than three or four times a year.  You can sleep in here tonight."

"He won't mind," he asked.

"No," I said.  "He won't mind.  I suspect Tim and Kyle will spend the night here tonight, too.  They'll want to get to know you."

"They're best friends, aren't they?"

"Yes, they are.  They're very special boys, and Rick and I love them like they were our sons."

"Must be nice," he said rather dryly.  

I wondered at that moment if anyone had ever really loved Justin.  I had a sudden surge of compassion for that kid, and I wanted to hug him the way I had hugged Tim and Kyle on so many occasions and squeeze the pain out of him.  I didn't, though, for fear he'd think I was coming on to him, and that was the last impression I wanted to give him.

"Let's go outside and see the yard," I said.

We went out through the French doors that led to the patio behind the house.  Rick's hard work as a gardener had really paid off, and the yard looked wonderful.

"Goddamn, this looks like a park or something," Justin said.  "This is beautiful, dude."

"Thanks, but Rick gets all the credit for it.  I help by keeping him company and praising the work he does."

"How long have your guys been together," Justin asked.

"It was four years on May fifth," I said.

"Jesus Christ!  Four fucking years!  Unbelievable!"

I didn't respond to that.  I couldn't tell if he admired the fact we had been together that long or if he pitied us for having to endure the same old dick up our asses for all that time.    

"Let's go inside.  I want to change clothes, and I want you to take a shower.  On second thought, I think you probably need to soak in the tub for a while."

"I guess I stink pretty bad, huh?"

"Let's just say you have kind of earthy smell to you.  You could use a shave, too, buddy."

"Will you take a bath with me in that big ole bathtub in there," he asked flirtatiously.

"I didn't appreciate that question, son," I said in a very serious tone of voice.  "No, I won't take a bath with you.  I think you knew that."

He flashed me a big grin that was quite charming.  I noticed that his teeth, while not perfect, were surprisingly straight and white.

"I was just teasing you, dude," he said.  "Kevin, I mean."

"That's okay, Jus," I said, "but I really would appreciate it if you didn't make remarks like that, okay, man?"

"Okay, Kev.  I understand."

When he called me "Kev," it suddenly occurred to me I might have offended him by calling him an abbreviated form of his name.

"Did it bother you that I called you 'Jus' just now," I asked.

"I can count on one hand, hell, on one finger most of the time, the number of people who even use my name in a week, man.  You calling me 'Jus' is like saying you want to be my friend, you know?  I've never had any friends.  Not one.  I loved it that you called me 'Jus,' Kev.  I really did."

I smiled at him.  He might come across as tough and street-wise and seductive, but under all that he was just a boy.

"Let's get your nasty ass in that tub," I said.

"Will you stay in there and talk to me?  I'm kinda scared, you know?"

"Yeah, I'll stay and talk to you," I said.  Then I hugged him.  He sort of went limp against me during that hug.

He stayed in the tub for almost an hour.  I filled the big tub almost to the top, and I made him get down under the water as far as he could.  I told him to go underwater and wet his hair, which he did.  I could actually see the dirt and grease from his body floating on top of the water.  After ten minutes, I made him get out.  I let the water out of the tub.

"Let's make this a bubble bath, okay," I said.  "Have you ever taken a bubble bath?"

"That trailer we lived in didn't have a bathtub, just a shower.  What do you think?"

"I think you might like this, then," I said.

I had gotten a bottle of Bubble Bath for Men for Christmas from somebody at work two years before.  I rummaged around in the cabinet and found it.  It was still unopened.  I poured about a third of the bottle into the tub as I started the water back running to refill it.  It must have been pretty potent stuff because the bubbles started rising pretty quickly.  Justin laughed delightedly, just as I had when I had taken a bubble bath when I was eight years old.

He got into the tub slowly, afraid to crush the bubbles.  He might have been a hustler in another place and time, but at that moment he was a little kid delighted with his surroundings.

The bubbles started breaking up fast.

"Damn, they're going away," he said.

"That's okay.  Watch this," I said.

I took off my shirt and tie so they wouldn't get wet.  Justin checked me out thoroughly, but I pretended not to notice.  I knelt down at the side of the tub.

"Move your legs over," I said.  

He did as I requested.  I put my hand on the surface of the water and shook it back and forth as fast as I could.  That created those big bubbles that I used to love as a kid, and Justin laughed in delight.

"Let me do it," he said.  He shook his hand as I had, and in a minute he had a huge cloud of big bubbles all over the tub.  "That is so cool," he said.

"Just keep doing that whenever the bubbles start to pop," I said.  "Go under and wet your hair and face.  Rub it in.  The bubbles will get you clean."

He did as I directed.  He came up with bubbles all over his head and face, and he looked like the little kids you see in commercials.

Justin played with the bubbles for another ten minutes, and then he settled down for a good soak.  He was quiet for a little while.

"Why are you doing this," he asked.  "You say you don't want sex from me, so why are you being so nice to me?"

"Has nobody ever been nice to you, just to be nice?  Just because they liked you," I asked.

He thought for a moment.

"No," he said.  "Guys have been nice to me so I would suck their cock or let them fuck my ass, but it was always for sex."

"What about your teachers?  Haven't they been nice to you for no reason other than they liked you?"

He thought for a second.  "Yeah, I guess some of them were, but ain't that what they get paid to do?  Be nice to kids?"

"You can't pay people to be nice to other people, to really care about other people, Jus.  They do it because they...well, because they care.  Teachers are people.  Rick's mom was a teacher.  Now she's the principal of a middle school, and she cares about her students way more than she gets paid.  In fact, I think she would be insulted if somebody thought she cared about her kids at school because she got paid to care about them."

"Well, I don't know that much about teachers.  I ain't been to a whole lot of school," he said.

"You haven't been in school," I asked.

"Not since I was thirteen and got turned out.  Didn't go a hell of a lot before then, either," he said.

"Er, can you read and write," I asked.

"I can read pretty good, but I can't write writing for shit.  I can print, though."

"That's writing, man.  I meant, can you get your thoughts down on paper?  Can you print stuff that makes sense?"

"I ain't wrote much, you know?  I make up things in my head like the stuff I read.  I think I could do it."

"Have you ever used a computer to write," I asked.

"Naw.  I thought they was just for pictures and movies and shit."

"Not at all, Jus.  Why did you think they were for pictures and movies?"

"Well, three or four guys who were some of my regulars took pictures and movies of me, and they put them on their computer.  I seen a few of them.  Ain't that what computers are for?"

I knew if I stayed there another minute I would be in tears for that boy.  I had been sitting on the toilet cover talking to him, but I got up.  I found a disposable razor and a can of shaving gel.  I put them on the edge of the tub for him.  I also set out some deodorant and some aftershave.

"Stay in the tub another little while and use these," I said.

"Hey, did I make you mad at me, Kev?"

I had turned away from him to conceal the emotion I was feeling just then, but I turned back toward him.

"No, Jus.  You didn't make me mad at you.  I'm mad and I'm upset right now because of what people have done to you, but it is totally and absolutely not at you, son.  I'm going to leave some fresh clothes for you on the bed.  Put them on when you finish in here, okay?"

"Okay," he said, and I left the bathroom and closed the door.

I was trembling with rage and emotion when I got into our bedroom.  I quickly found him some underwear, a shirt, and a pair of Rick's running shorts.  I set a pair of old tennis shoes on the floor beside the bed.  He had come to our house barefoot, but he needed shoes.  I picked up off the floor the clothes he had worn to our house from the motel, and they stank and felt dirty to the touch.  They had been clean when he had put them on a short time before.  I took them to the laundry room and started a wash.  Then I went into the den.


He plopped down on the sofa after his bath.  He looked like a new kid, and I was sure he felt that way, too.

"You mind if I check this stuff out a little bit," he asked, meaning the TV, stereo, DVD, VCR, etc., on the entertainment center.

"Help yourself," I said.

I went into our bedroom to change.  I called my office while I was in there and told my assistant I wouldn't be in the rest of the day but that I'd see him tomorrow.  He told me he would be late because his wife had an ob/gyn appointment in the morning, and they were supposed to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time.  I told him that was no problem and that I would be there with him in spirit.  Lucky bastard, I thought as I hung up the phone.

I put on a pair of khaki shorts, a tank top, and a pair of sandals, and I walked back into the den.  Justin was busy with some afternoon TV talk show that featured a great deal of screaming and a whole lot of bleeps.  He seemed enwrapped.  I went out and got the mail, and I flipped through the copy of a sports magazine that had come that day when I got back inside.  I found the page that had the weekly piece by my favorite columnist, and I started reading.  It was about the evils of state boxing commissions, but I could no more concentrate on what I was reading than I could have worked a calculus problem right then.  I was thinking about Justin.

"Fuckin' nigger!" Justin blurted out at the TV.

"Hey, buddy," I said.  "We don't use the N word in this house, okay?"

"There's a lot of shit y'all don't do in this house."  The vulnerability he had exhibited while he was taking his bath was gone, replaced by his brash and rebellious street persona.

"That's right, and as long as you're in this house, you won't do it either."  I used what Rick referred to as my "and I mean business" voice, but I wondered if Justin got the message.

"Do y'all smoke in this house," he asked, back to the uncertain boy with that question.

"Yeah, we do.  I smoke, Kyle smokes, and several of our friends smoke.  You can smoke if you want to."  I tried to make my voice sound like there were no hard feelings from minutes before.

"I know Kyle smokes.  He gave me his pack back at the mo-tel."  He emphasized the first syllable in a way that I mentally identified as "country."  Working in the hospitality industry as I did, I heard ho-tel and mo-tel constantly, but it never ceased to annoy me.  I said nothing, of course.

Justin stared at the TV set as another raucous talk show replaced the one he had been watching.  Around four o'clock I made a pot of coffee and offered Justin a cup.  He accepted it, but without saying "thank you," and we sipped our coffee and smoked our cigarettes in front of the TV.