Warning: This story is for 18 year olds or older and contains descriptions of sexual contact between teenage males. If it is illegal for you to read, or you find the subject objectionable, read no further. All characters are imaginary. I hope you like it. Mail me or visit Eliot's Space



Chapter 10, Jumping Puddles

Rainbow Party

The first time I heard a mother of girls talk about the teenage oral-sex craze, I made her cry. The story she told me -- about a bar mitzvah dinner dance on the North Shore of Chicago, where the girls serviced all the boys on the chartered bus from the temple to the reception hall -- was so preposterous that I burst out laughing. The thought of thirteen-year-old girls in party dresses performing a sex act once considered the province of prostitutes (we are talking here about the on-your-knees variety given to a series of near strangers) was so ludicrous that all I could do was giggle.

It was as though I had taken lightly the news that a pedophile had moved into my friend's neighborhood. It was as though I had laughed about a leukemia cluster or a lethal stretch of freeway. I apologized profusely; I told her I hadn't known.

The moms in my set are convinced -- they're certain; they know for a fact -- that all over the city, in the very best schools, in the nicest families, in the leafiest neighborhoods, twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls are performing oral sex on as many boys as they can. They're ducking into janitors' closets between classes to do it; they're doing it on school buses, and in bathrooms, libraries, and stairwells. They're making bar mitzvah presents of the act, and performing it at "train parties": boys lined up on one side of the room, girls working their way down the row. The circle jerk of old -- shivering Boy Scouts huddled together in the forest primeval, desperately trying to spank out the first few drops of their own manhood -- has apparently moved indoors, and now (death knell of the Eagle Scout?) there's a bevy of willing girls to do the work.

In talking with people, I found only one verifiable account of a girl servicing more than one boy at a party. But the army of school administrators and teachers and parents and girls I spoke with


convincingly reported an astonishing change in the sexual behavior of middle- and upper-middle-class girls. Fellatio, which was once a part of the sexual repertoire only of experienced women, is now commonly performed by very young girls outside of romantic relationships, casually and without any expectation of reciprocation. It used to be that a hopeful recipient of fellatio had a lot of talking to do -- to persuade, and very often to instruct, his partner.

Nowadays girls don't consider oral sex in the least exotic -- nor do they even consider it to be sex. It's just "something to do." A friend who attended a leadership conference for girls from some of the country's top schools told me, "Friendships haven't changed a bit since our day. But sex has changed a lot." One of the teachers, from an eastern boarding school, told the students that when she was young, in the 1960s, oral sex was considered far more intimate than intercourse. The kids hooted at the notion. "It's like licking a lollipop," one pretty girl from a prestigious girls' school said, flipping her hair in the ancient gesture of teenage certainty. "It's no big deal."

Somehow these girls have developed the indifferent attitude toward performing oral sex that one would associate with bitter, long-married women or streetwalkers. But they think of themselves as normal teenagers, version 2005. For a while, whenever I passed groups of young girls, I looked at them anew. Were these nice kids -- the ones playing AYSO soccer and doing their homework and shopping with their moms -- behaving like little whores whenever they got the chance? It was like some weird search for communists -- was the sweet, well-spoken daughter of a friend actually a blowjobber? I looked at the small girls in my children's schoolyard -- as cosseted and protected and beloved a group of children as you will find anywhere on the planet -- and tried to convince myself that in a matter of five or six years they would be performing oral sex on virtual strangers.

Compromises, Saturday, July 17th

Daniel shadowed Denver around the house. It was the first place Denver had taken him to that approached or exceeded the Hawk home in style or wealth. The two-story Colonial was three blocks closer to the river than Denver's place and only one block off Alexander Drive and the riverfront properties. At Denver's suggestion they had walked the length of the park that bordered the small coulee that dipped down to the river. Daniel had noticed the odd jogger and a few packs of well-dressed children scrambling up and down the steep slopes. He could easily imagine little Denver building forts in the deeper tangles on a hot summer night. The imposing white house backed onto the park and Denver had led him through the back gate.

Denver threaded his way through to the kitchen where a keg of draft stood hemmed in by a crowd. Clearly if the keg had had a mind to bolt for the door the watchful guards would efficiently wrestle it back in place. Daniel discovered Greg and Chow among the watchful crowd. He let Chow pour off a glass for him and smiled tentatively at Greg.

“I'm a tool with a short handle.” Greg began suddenly and as Daniel stood puzzling out the remark Greg grabbed his hand and squeezed it once. “I worship my senior as a god.” Chow thrust the glass of draft at Daniel and nudged Greg playfully.

“Dustin Wells makes him say that.” Daniel understood and glanced to where a weedy senior stood absorbed in a conversation with a younger girl. “So do you have to do anything?”

“Not really” he located Denver across the room. The distance made him nervous. Daniel had expected to find a smaller gathering. Denver had promised to introduce him to an older crowd he could rely on when school started.

So what's happening?”

“Did you go to that camp again?” Daniel nodded before taking a sip. “Arlo and Chris said you don't tell them much.” Daniel wondered briefly what Arlo and Chris had actually told Greg. “You're still pretty tight with Arlo I hear.” Daniel decided it was safer to say nothing and sip his beer. He was still awkward around Greg. “Do you figure we will get in the same classes next year?”

“I don't know. It's a really big school.” They shifted ground to sports. Greg was confident. There would be no trouble making teams in ninth grade. Looking at the taller and better built boy, Daniel understood his confidence. Greg was as big as a tenth or eleventh grader. He was less sure about his own chances. Their conversation was interrupted by Denver.

“I'm a tool with a short handle. I worship my senior as a god.” Greg chanted to Denver. Denver let Greg shake his hand.

“I'm sure you are. Sorry guys, I need to pull Daniel away for a while.” Daniel was glad to go. Seeing Greg was a reminder of grade eight with its desire for Mandy and her continued love for Greg. Did Greg even care that she still wore the silver bracelet he had given her at Christmas? Daniel knew he should have given it to her himself. Greg had never even paid him back.

“Maybe you should come up with something for me to say.” Denver grunted and asked Daniel what that might be. As they threaded their way into the dining room Daniel tried a phrase. “I have a big tool and I'm not a virgin.” He was still quite proud of the fact; and disappointed Amber had shown no interest in doing anything more than make out since.

“I have a cute butt.”


“You can say that instead.”

“Oh man” Daniel's heart sank “Are you serious?” They were heading toward a group gathered around an older high school student.

“I am nine centimeters and I have a cute butt.”


“That is stretching it.”

“I can do that.” Daniel was not sure if Denver was serious until they joined the group and Denver jogged his elbow. Daniel coughed a little beer before announcing “Hi, I'm fifteen centimeters and I have a cute butt.” Denver made no comment on the modification.

His announcement was met with little response. An older guy sitting in a chair looked him over.

“For a c-note your ass should be gold.” He was the first person to comment on the price Denver had paid. Daniel blushed, but the remark had been a friendly one.

“So where is your freshie Colin?” The senior pointed toward the living room. Daniel caught sight of girl attended by two friends and a crowd of admirers. Daniel was impressed. “Nice” Denver commented. “And well over two hundred.” It made Daniel feel a bit better about the money Denver had spent.

“Nothing but the best for us Denver” Daniel noticed Denver was coming across differently. When he spoke with Colin it was like they were in a snobby clique together. Denver and Colin were flashing their money around. It was a side to Denver he did not see when he was with Amber, Amanda and Mark. “What's your name kid?”


“Breck” The girl looked at him with a practiced flip of her hair. “Daniel” He pointed at Daniel and she studied him for a moment with a cool look. Ice Queen, Daniel decided. She gave him a smile that had more warmth. I must have made the grade he concluded. She waved him over and he gave her a friendly nod back. Denver delayed him with a few introductions. They were names Daniel thought he would have some difficulty remembering. He knew he was supposed to connect with them. When he could break away he detoured back to the keg for a refill.

Breck made room for him on the couch by asking one of the other ninth graders to shift onto the arm rest. That felt a little wrong to Daniel so he ended up on the floor beside a pair of older boys. “Vince, Dan, Tiffany, Samantha, this is Daniel. What school did you go to?” Daniel noticed she had not introduced everyone.

“7th Avenue” He turned a little and smiled at a thin girl with long hair. She smiled back at him. Daniel was going to introduce himself to the girl and a chubby boy standing beside her, but his attention was drawn back to Breck.

“Daniel is high cost, aren't you?”


“Daniel” her tone was self important “you are a member of the exclusive C-Club” Her eyes quickly shifted around the small circle that seemed to be her world at the party.

“How's that?” Daniel was fascinated by her beauty. She could have been a fashion model. Except for Amber Klein, the girls he knew did not seem to wear makeup. Breck and her companions had heavy lipstick. He felt a little intimidated by her.

“You are worth a hundred dollars.” Said that way Daniel felt a little pathetic.

"Breck was over two hundred." contributed the girl named Tiffany. Daniel guessed he was supposed to be impressed. All he could think about was the games he could buy for two hundred dollars. He was also saving for his own car now and two hundred dollars would give him about... two hundred and thirty-nine dollars toward a cherry red Mustang. He could not see spending that kind of money on a girl.

"Samantha saw you at the freshie party." Daniel turned to the guy on his left. He looked too old to be in grade nine. The damn party was going to follow him around everywhere he went. "Last year it was pretty bad."

"It was pretty gross this year."

"Colin wouldn't take me." Breck sounded put out by it. "He said it was too rough."

"It was rough." Daniel felt like he had broken every promise he had ever made to himself that night. To top it off he had screwed his chances with Mandy. It was a subject he would like to drop before someone remembered too many details. He started to relax as the conversation shifted to other topics. He listened to the five of them talk about people he did not know from the school they had all gone to. He gathered that all three girls lived across the river from him. They seemed like nice people.

Daniel drained his beer and decided he was ready for another. He asked the others if they were interested and took a few orders before he headed back to the kitchen. Greg and Chow were still guarding the keg and he stopped to share a few more words with them. When he had four glasses he realized he could not handle them all. He tried to juggle them unsuccessfully until a soft voice whispered, “Here, let me help you.” Daniel turned around found the thin girl beside him.

“Thanks” he passed her two of the glasses. “Hey, did you want a glass?”

“Thanks” she blushed and looked down. Daniel poured off another glass and pinched two by the rims so that he could manage three.

“I’m Daniel” he introduced himself unnecessarily.

“I’m Raina”

When they returned to the circle Daniel distributed the drinks. He noticed the heavy-set boy didn’t have a beer so he offered him the one he had fetched for himself. The boy smiled briefly at him and accepted the drink. Left without a drink, Daniel headed back to the kitchen. When he returned he brought an extra. The boy had taken his place so he sat down near the girl. She joined him on the plush Persian carpet. “That’s Aiden” Raina offered. Daniel thought the boy was as captivated by Breck as he was.

Raina sat on her legs with the plastic glass of beer propped on one knee. "I remember you."

"From the warehouse party?"

"No, I was there, but I didn't see you. There were a lot of people there, pretty crazy. I'm glad you didn't see me. Marsh had me in this awful costume" she blushed and hid her embarrassment behind a quick sip of beer. Daniel imagined she had looked pretty good. He didn't remember her though. "I was at that party where all you guys dressed up."

"God, that's embarrassing. We all looked pretty bad." He had found it a bit funny at the time, but sitting in Colin’s posh living room he realized the whole thing had been completely gay.

"No you were cute with the skirt and wig. I envied your outfit. It looked nice." She smiled at the thought.

"One of Denver's girl friends helped make me up." He was sorry she remembered him that way.

"We danced together for a while."

"I feel stupid, I don't remember you." Daniel sat cross-legged holding both beers in his hands. He had been drinking the first one quickly to get rid of it.

There was a sudden burst of laughter from the three girls and Raina glanced at them. "I'm not much to remember." She covered her confession with another sip of her beer. Daniel couldn't think of anything to say. It left an awkward silence he knew he should fill. He wondered why talking with girls was so hard. Aiden did not seem to have a problem. Daniel listened as the other boy tried to join the conversation. They were talking about the seniors; or rather they were listening to Breck talk about her senior. She was impressed by his wealth. Marissa or Tiffany would interject with a word about features of the house.

Daniel was about to try and repair his conversation with Raina when Colin gave a shout from the dining room. "Freshies haul ass in here, we need you guys." Daniel helped Raina to her feet and followed everyone to where Colin, Denver and three other twelfth graders sat amidst cards and poker chips. "We're going to play strip poker." Colin glanced at the other seniors. "Settle up before we begin boys." There was a momentary redistribution of money during which Daniel gained the impression Denver had been the big looser. "Freshies, go stand with your seniors." Daniel moved behind Denver and bit his lip. Aiden, Breck, Tiffany and Dan were also in the game. The other ninth graders did their best to blend into the safety of the crowd.

"Are you any good at poker?" he asked Denver anxiously.

Denver shrugged, "not really."

"Great" Daniel whispered with a sigh.

Daniel watched the play. The first hand Denver folded with a seven and a two. Colin raised one and three of the others folded. The seniors were just getting use to the idea and the bidding was still cautious. Dan's senior raise it to two after the flop and Colin casually pushed it up to four. The other senior called and Colin won with two jacks.

"So what happens now?" Dan's senior voiced Daniel's silent question.

"Your freshie drops four items."


One of the older kids called out "No way. They'll be dropping dimes and pennies all night. It's got to be clothing." There seemed to be general agreement around the room. The five freshies exchanged glances.

"Okay, clothing it is." Dan thought for a moment and then took his shoes and socks off. Daniel cursed himself. He had dropped his shoes at the door when he came in.

“I have an idea” Daniel hoped Denver’s idea would save him some embarrassment. “The clothes have to go in the pot as we bid.”

“There isn’t enough room on the table.” They considered Denver’s suggestion for a while. Daniel could see the seniors liked the idea.

“So if you win a hand the kid gets the clothes back.”

“Right, but it might not be their own… could be interesting.”

“Make room at the table.” Cards were shifted around for the next hand. Daniel sighed and resigned himself to the game. He had played strip poker with his friends many times. It could get exciting in a pervy sort of way. This was a little different.

Daniel lost his shirt and socks in the next round. In the third round he lost his pants. It did not seem to take long. Denver was lucky in the next round and Daniel got his pants and a shirt back. The five card players were evenly matched and the ninth graders were kept busy adding and removing clothing.

Aiden's senior pushed it to the next level when he raised the bid to five. The players stopped for a minute and dropped their cards. "He’s only got four things on and we were not going to play underwear" Dan's senior pointed out.

"We'll go underwear, but it should count for three."

"No way, it counts for one."

"That still leaves you short man."

"Okay, Aiden does a trick."

"Like what?"

"Aiden kisses Breck."

"If he wins maybe, but what if he looses?"

"Aiden kisses the loosing hands." There was general agreement.

"Let's not use the underwear, let's go right to the tricks." Denver's suggestion was immediately jumped on by the five freshies and met with boos from the assembled crowd. Daniel was down to his boxers and did not want to go any farther.

They played the hand out and Aiden was forced to kiss the other freshies. It was a familiar challenge from the other parties and the boys and girls did it as quickly as they could. Denver won the next hand so Daniel recovered his clothes. He accepted another beer from Raina who had moved over to his side of the table. Greg and Chow seemed to be getting a kick out of his discomfort.

The seniors became more aggressive after that. Tiffany gave Daniel an awkward lap dance and for the next four hands Daniel lost his clothes and started doing tricks. "I raise you two and Daniel lets Breck see the family jewels." When it was down to two players the seniors had turned to challenging the tricks. The two victims exchanged a short look. Daniel felt like everyone was staring at his crotch.

"I call" Denver never even looked at Daniel. He lost the hand and Daniel did the first two tricks on his list. Kissing all the ninth graders in the room and kissing Denver. When he was done he turned to Breck. His face was burning and his cock was starting to grow. He was not sure which would have been worse; letting her see his boner or having his cock shrivel up in fear. Breck did not seem to be embarrassed at all. As the crowed leered with anticipation she gingerly pulled the front of his boxers out and took a long peek at him. When she was done she met his eyes and mimicked a look of awe that generated hoots around the room. It was Daniel's worst moment and after that the game quickly collapsed.

Daniel escaped from the crowd and searched out a bathroom. He had a load and it was almost painful to let it go. He had just grabbed his clothes and carried them with him. The bathroom was a momentary refuge from the seniors. A limestone counter ran across one wall and Daniel looked at himself in the big mirror. His cock was still outlined against the soft fabric of the boxers. He looked at his stomach and chest. Well, at least he was not fat like Aiden. He moved to the toilet and watched the heavy play of urine around the bowl; not much hair there. Breck would not have been impressed. He jerked his pants on and pulled the t-shirt over his head.

When he opened the door Breck pushed him back into the bathroom. Tiffany and Marissa followed her in. He fell back uncertainly. He tingled as they giggled together. "We're going to give you a rainbow." Breck did not even ask him. He was tongue tied as she let her fingers flutter over his chest. As her friends stared she opened his pants and hooked her fingers into the band of his boxers and pulled everything down to his knees. Daniel wanted to kiss Breck but she ignored his advance and grasped his penis. She began to squeeze and pull on it. Daniel was captivated. He leaned back against the sink. Marissa watched the action and began smearing more bright purple lipstick on her lips. Daniel was not sure what the girls were planning but he could not believe his luck. Three hot girls wanted him in a Penthouse-worthy story of three on-one action. Arlo would never believe him. Breck expertly worked his cock occasionally rubbing his sack. Daniel was hard when Marissa jostled Breck aside. She swallowed him and pressed her lips against his tight flesh. At the first touch he pressed back into the cream limestone and arched his back. She had taken him deep into her mouth and the warm breath from her nose washed across his belly.

Tiffany took her place and left a pink ring above the purple marks of Marissa’s lips. Daniel found he was trembling as her tongue caressed the tender skin below his glan. Marissa had stayed on her knees next to Daniel and they shared a giggle that almost made Tiffany release her grip on Daniel’s extended flesh. He jumped a little as her teeth gently sank into him while she worked to regain control of his penis. The girls exchanged conspiratorial glances as she covered him with lipstick.

Daniel was breathing heavily when Breck took her place. She gave him a cool glance before flipping her hair out of the way. When her lips touched him his belly convulsed visibly and his scrotum shrank. He was ready to burst and Breck seemed to know it. She held his penis in a grip directly below the flair of his gland and he could see the coating of lipstick she applied as she swallowed him far enough to coat the remaining two centimeters of shaft. He began thrusting instinctively into her mouth caught in the animal urge for orgasm. She placed a hand on his belly and held him still. The warm contact against his flesh sent him over the edge and he began ejaculating. Breck pulled off immediately and the girls stood back as in quick succession three streams of his fluid jetted out and onto the bathroom tile. The final stream landed on Daniel’s thigh where it glistened against the fine hairs.

As Daniel recovered Breck took a glass of beer from Tiffany, swished it around quickly and then spit the taste of the fourteen-year old out of her mouth. Nothing had been said since the girls had pushed him back into the bathroom. Daniel was at a loss for words. He felt he should say something. The drunken girls simply fell together and laughed. They were sharing a joke or relieving the tension of embarrassment of the moment. Finally they turned to the door ignoring him as he still leaned against the vanity. As Breck passed she seemed to notice the spill on his thigh and scooped a little up with her little finger. She smiled at him and smeared the semen along his jaw with a satisfied smile before whipping her hand on her jeans and following the other girls through the door.

Daniel came out of his trance and closed the door before turning to pull his pants up. His boxers were wet with the last of his semen and he checked his face before leaning on the vanity to consider what had just occurred. He found it unbelievable. In the late night over cards he and his friends might have talked about rainbow parties but none of the girls Daniel knew would have done it. A braggart like Simon Marks might claim to have had one, but none of Daniel’s friends would believe him. Daniel examined his face. Maybe he was good looking. He had never thought he was hot. Greg, with his height and muscles was a stud girls would go for. Daniel did not like his baby face or his thin arms. Breck had not commented on his sparse hair. Still, maybe he was wrong. You stud you; he winked at his reflection and smiled. Stupid crooked little smile, it did not look sexy, it just looked lame. He stared at his eyes and suddenly realized how odd his eyebrows looked. They did not match his hair. He sighed with frustration. “Thanks girls that was sweet” even with the good acoustics in the bathroom his voice was high pitched. Jesus Christ, Daniel thought to himself. He tried it lower, “do me Breck”, it sounded worse. Someone pounded on the door and he stopped frowning at himself. He took a sip from his forgotten beer and gave himself one last look including his damp groin in the sweep. Lighten up boy; he told himself, three hot chicks just sucked you off at a kegger. Not bad for a little freshman. Arlo was going to be so green when he told him.

Daniel was on a high as he cruised the house checking out the action. Denver stopped him as he was passing through a back room and he stayed to talk with some of the senior’s friends for a bit. The sex made him feel mature and connected with the high school scene. The older boys and girls were funny and as his head buzzed with beer he felt affection for the older teenagers who had invited him into their circle. The stress of being a freshman seemed to have drained away with his orgasm. This was going to be his year he thought happily. He drained his beer and thought he had better head back for another. It was so much better being on the inside of a party. No more hanging on the fringes while Arlo’s sister and her friends had the fun.

He spilled a little beer as he poured it off into his glass. Greg and Chow were still keeping guard, but they had sat down amongst the strewed remains of plastic cups. Daniel had stopped to listen to them wrangle through a stupid conversation about girls from their school. It hit Daniel that he had passed beyond them in some way. Girl magnet that Greg was, Daniel figured he had more notches on his cock than Greg now. Not a virgin Greg boy, way up on you for blow jobs I’ll bet. It flashed through his mind that Mandy might have done stuff with Greg, but he quickly pushed the thought away. When he focused back on his friend’s words he realized Greg was actually talking about French kissing with Mandy. Daniel listened for a moment, “Yeh, well she really liked you Greg.” He had meant to tell him that he should not talk about her. It just did not come out that way.

“Yeh, she loved my body that’s for sure. Couldn’t get enough of my manhood if you know what I mean. Christ even the fags want my manhood now. ” Chow laughed, but he glanced at Daniel uncertainly.

“You really hurt her man” Daniel pointed a finger at Greg and a little beer sloshed out of his glass. He had not liked the fag comment either.

“Get over it Murrell, I squeezed that rag dry.” Greg giggled and nudged Chow. Daniel shook his head. How could Greg be so callous? Mandy deserved more respect. She was Daniel's friend; Greg needed to understand how wrong he was. Daniel waved his glass around as he tried to find the words.

“No man, she’s fine. Don’t talk that kind of shit. She still cares about you man” He was almost whispering it as he tried to get him to understand. It was like every time Daniel saw her she had that damn silver bracelet on and when she thought he was not looking she would finger it. If she saw him watching she would smile at him like she was still happy. It broke his heart sometimes. He looked at Greg with a hurt look, “Love always man, that’s what you said.”

“Fuck, those were your words Murrell” Greg giggled “move on dude. Get a girl friend or something. She’ll be fine. Some sophomore or junior was probably going to take her away from me anyway. Lighten up boy.” Greg's words stabbed at him, he knew that it was true; Mandy would find an older boy friend. Daniel moved toward Greg a little trying to think of something to say when Denver caught his arm and gently pulled the beer away from him.

“Come on Daniel, let’s take a break.” Daniel glanced between Greg and Denver a moment trying to focus on what he had been about to say. He gave it up finally and let Denver lead him out of the kitchen. He threw an arm up over Denver’s shoulders suddenly happy to be with his senior. Denver smiled down at him, “just how many beers have you had kid?”


“That’s what I figured” Denver steered Daniel toward a quieter room at the back of the house. They ended up in yet another circle of people Denver expected him to remember. Denver sat on a broad couch next to a twelfth grade girl who turned out to be Raina's older sister. She was Samantha's senior. Samantha's brother was Raina's senior. The two seniors were in a relationship. She made it clear they were looking out for their sisters. Daniel stood listening for a minute and then collapsed on the floor against the couch next to Denver. Connections, brothers and sisters looking out for each other; Simon Marks was not that unique. Arlo's sister should have hooked him up with a friend. Daniel was lucky Denver had picked him. Daniel pressed his shoulder against his senior's leg for a moment.

Daniel really wanted a chance to tell Denver about the girls in the bathroom. His cock got thick again just thinking about the three girls in the bathroom. Life rocked and partying with Denver was sick. He had never thought the chicks would go for him like that. He always got along with the girls, he was usually invited to their parties, but it had never been like this.

Daniel noticed Raina by the wall watching him. She smiled back at him. Vince and Dan wandered in from the hallway with Aiden trailing behind them. Daniel watched as Aiden was sidetracked by Raina. He wondered if they were friends. He had a hard time seeing the heavy set boy making out with a slender beauty like Raina. He watched the pair whisper together. The beer had not been sitting well with him since he had confronted Greg. Greg's comment had echoed his fears about Mandy. They had been friends for so many years; he could not imagine losing her. But would she ever take him seriously? The knot and nausea eased a little. Why wouldn't she? He had learned that girls did find him attractive. Older girls like Amber had introduced him to sex and he had just been blown away by Breck and her friends. Maybe Mandy felt that way about him too. The summer had taught him a lot about himself. Vince and Dan disturbed his thoughts as they sat down next to him.

"How's it going? You're...?"

"Daniel Murrell"

"Right, Murrell. Good party isn't it."

"Sure. Colin runs a nice kegger."

"First party on this side of the river?"

"No, Denver's place, you know."

"So you live like where?" Dan rethought his question, "I mean what school did you go to?" It seemed to be the standard opening line for ninth graders. Maybe the girls could start on their clothing or something; the guys were at a loss. "You're kind of down town aren't you?" That sounded a little like the private school knobs in his apartment building.

"I was at 7th Ave" Daniel knew his building sat amidst a jumble of low rent buildings pressed into the river by the business district. He had always been conscious of this and parading his money around school led to hard feelings. "I'm just across the river." He wondered where they lived. He really did not know much about this area. He did not think it was very big. "Did you go to the same school?" Dan and Vince nodded. It really did not matter now. They were all freshmen at Riverview. His mom had warned him he was jumping into the deep end. It was like stepping off a cliff; there was a swift drop into cold black water without any idea of how deep you would sink and only the conviction that you would eventually surface. "So did you both know Breck?" Vince shook his head.

"No, I think she said she lived near West Gate Mall." Daniel was a down town boy. He was vague about the geography of the city. Occasionally his mom had taken him out to the West Gate Mall and the box stores. He had even been to a movie out there with Arlo. It seemed to be a long way to come for school. "Marissa went to Emma Wallace."

"I know that school." It was slightly more familiar territory. He probed the boys about sports and learned they were just spectators. They shifted to the neutral ground of professional sport and the university football team's chances in the fall. Without Breck's shadow on the conversation he found he was able to connect with them.

"Hey, check this out." Daniel looked down the hallway where Vince and Dan had turned to stare.

"What is it?" Daniel could not figure out what had caught Dan's interest. Then he got it. The three girls were coming out of the bathroom again in a giggling clump. Seconds later Aiden came out and headed toward them. Daniel felt cold.

"I figured they wouldn't go down on him."

"Yes, you owe me."

"No way man, those bitches are scanks." Daniel ignored their comments. "I don't mind telling you that was my first blow job."

"They could do me again." Daniel did not acknowledge Aiden when he sat down beside them. He glanced once at the smug expression on the boy's face. He needed some fresh air.

Daniel mumbled something to the three boys, walked unsteadily toward the sliding door and then out into the darkness of the back yard. He was conscious of voices around him so he steered toward a quiet section of the fence. Suddenly he leaned against it and heaved. It took four painful spasms for him to empty his stomach. Finally he spat out the last of the bile in his mouth. How could he have been so stupid? He had been fooling himself for weeks. He was no babe magnet. He was just the guy all the girls liked as a friend. He tried to shake the buzz out of his head. The sweat was cool on his forehead.

The three girls had not cared about him. How many boys had the girls invited to their little party, four? There had probably been more. Daniel twisted away from the mess on the flowers and stumbled back onto the lawn. He bumped into a heavy piece of lawn furniture and winced. It looked like a good place to rest so he sank into the chair. Amber had just done a favor for Denver. He had thought he was so hot, such a stud at fourteen. Do the kid, give him a thrill. Daniel threw a hand over his eyes. Was that what Breck had been doing? It was all freshie pranks. He had played strip poker for the seniors and Colin had rewarded him with a blow job. It stripped the joy from his life.

He had to be honest with himself. All the times he had been out with Mandy and Greg double dating with Mandy’s girl friends. None of them had lasted. It was like they never took him seriously. He was just Mandy’s friend to them, just a friend. Daniel opened his eyes and looked back at the glowing windows of the house. He should forget Mandy. Greg was right, she was going to find a junior soon and he would have to watch as she fell in love. Maybe she would finally take off the damn bracelet he thought irrelevantly. They would still be friends, for a while, and then they would drift apart. Daniel needed something to drink. He needed to wash the bitterness out of his mouth.

Daniel took long pulls at his next glass. He tried to shake off his depression. He needed to surface. He noticed Riana near the kitchen door. She smiled at him and it came to him that Riana seemed to like him. He approached her and on an impulse gave her an awkward kiss on the lips. She surprised him a little by kissing him back. Daniel looked around the room and took in the crowd. He whispered in Riana’s ear and they slipped out the back door and into the night.

Alleys, Saturday July 31st

Hazing Blogs
Received July 29th

It concerns me that people have so much time on their hands. You and many other groups are what is partly wrong with this country today. We have lost any form of identity or rights of passage. The fact is you’re the ones I feel sorry for.

Leave these damn people alone if they want to haze their new school mates then it will be done and there is nothing that you can do. It is people like you that have made it impossible to have any fun in recent history. Don't get involved in something that isn't any of your business. If people want to become members of a team or be part of the school... they know that there is some sort of process that they must go through. If there is a law passed against it the activities will continue just as they do now. Just because marijuana is illegal doesn’t mean no one uses it. In closing leave these people alone because I think you are all just a bunch of people that were the ones who were never picked to play with all of the other kids in school, and the one who always got cut from the team. This is probably your way of trying to get back at the ones who made you an outcast and a “loser” in high school. So leave them alone.

Received July 29th

There are many individuals who don't mind participating in hazing rituals. One way to avoid any problems is to have individuals sign a “pre-hazing” agreement whereby the individual is consciously aware of what is expected and fully agrees to participate and assumes all responsibility.

I do agree some hazing may be dangerous. Just as some driving is. Did automobiles become outlawed? NO. So don't presume you speak for everyone and are doing a great service. Some people think you should stick your noses up your butts. I participated in being hazed in grade nine and it was my decision. So butt out.

Daniel realized there was a car following him. Denver had warned him that after six he might have to worry about seniors cruising for Freshies. The sidewalks were busy the shops were still open so he had thought it would be no big deal to walk over to the Brass Lantern by himself. He didn’t want to panic and tip them off that he had seen them. He thought there were three of them in the car but he didn’t want to look around to be sure. He tried to walk casually while he thought through his options. He had his cell phone so he could step into a store and phone his mom or Denver. He didn’t think he’d have to go that far and besides, he hated the idea of loosing the freedom to walk the streets. He saw a book store and paused to look in the window. The car pulled up behind him. It was an old boat. A brown and yellow Grand Prix and he could see there were three guys. It was hard to see details in the window’s reflection, but he didn’t think he recognized them. Guys his age walked the streets all the time without getting jumped so they must have recognized him from a party. “Stay in the car assholes, stay in the car.” If they got out of the car they might just hassle him a bit right there on the street, or they might drag him back to the car before anyone walking by could react. They were double parked so he’d have time to react if they started to get out.

He glanced down the street and didn’t like the layout. They could pull in close at the bus stop and there was nowhere to duck into. If he slipped into the book store he could exit into an alley. He considered that for a moment. That could be dangerous if they came after him. If he turned back then they would be on to him. From the alley he would have to run two blocks to make the back door of the Brass Lantern. It was a long two blocks and he was no sprinter. If they figured out what his plan was they would be able to turn at the next corner and cut him off. He had to move.

Daniel went into the book store without a glance backwards. He knew he was in hot water now. The hunt was probably on. He wandered to the back of the book store. He was feeling a little foolish when he crouched down beside an old lady and duck-walked into the back room. He started moving then. He burst through the back door and started running up the alley. “What if I’m wrong? What if they weren’t following me?” He felt stupid panicking like this. He stopped and tried a door on the opposite side of the alley. To his infinite relief it opened and he was able to slip out of the alley and close the heavy door behind him. He slid back into the shadows and looked back out into the alley through a dusty window. His heart was pounding in his throat and he couldn’t swallow. The Grand Prix cruised by a minute later. They were after him. He’d got out of the alley just in time. He went through the backroom and found himself in a ladies store. He didn’t know what the guys in the Grand Prix were going to do, but he decided to chance the street and run for the restaurant.

Daniel started an easy jog up the street, weaving between the other pedestrians, glancing over his shoulder from time to time. The seniors had guessed his movements, but this time he had an advantage because they were on the wrong side of the street. Traffic might slow them down so he picked up his pace. He wanted to get across the intersection before they could cut him off. “Fucking bastards” why did they have to do this? Daniel could never understand bullies. Where was the fun in scaring the shit out of kids younger than you? Why would he want to fuck over some younger kid like they wanted to do to him? It just seemed evil to Daniel.

The traffic light was going to be against him, he could feel it. The traffic was not heavy so he took a chance and ran across the street in front of a few cars.

He glanced back searching for the Grand Prix. It was heading directly at him through the traffic. Christ they ran the red light! He started to sprint. He heard a car door open as he plowed through the door of the first shop he came to. It was a game store he frequented. He was close to the Brass Lantern but he didn’t want them to know where he was going. If they figured out his hangouts they would eventually nail him. He didn’t even break stride but ran right through the back door and turned up the alley. He hoped it would take them a moment to regroup before they resumed the chase. He tried a few doors along the alley in a growing panic and his heart skipped a beat when one eventually opened for him. He glanced back as he dived through the door and saw a guy in a leather jacket three paces back.

“Hold up kid!” Daniel shot a bolt home and headed for the front door. He tried not to upset any suites as he made for the front.

“Hey Daniel! Where are you going?” It was old Mr. Teller, a regular at Karl's restaurant.

“Hey Mr. Teller! I gotta run!”

“Whose that pounding on my back door?”

“Nobody! Just ignore him!” He glanced up and down the street, saw there was no Grand Prix and ran for the front door of the Brass Lantern two stores down.

Denver closed the till and looked over at the boy trembling in the doorway. Daniel came up to him and Denver wrapped his arms around him. He could feel the little guy’s heart pounding. “I asked you not to walk over here by yourself” he scolded gently. “Karl, I’m going to take a break, okay?” He took Daniel back into the kitchen and they sat down on the frayed couch Karl had added for Eddie’s comfort. Denver put an arm around Daniel’s shoulders to calm him while he listened to the story. It was much the way he had expected.

“Mom’s working late so we can get away tomorrow.” Daniel glanced up at Denver. “I wanted to say goodbye before we leave.” Daniel had been back for a little over a week and they had hung out at the restaurant together a few times and gotten reconnected over dinner. “You’ll be gone when I get back.” Denver’s China trip was set. He was looking forward to it because they would be coming home together. It had been their longest separation.

“Well maybe it’s a good thing you showed up.” Denver ruffled Daniel’s hair. “I have a homework assignment for you to do.” Daniel pulled away and looked at him with disbelief.

“This is summer vacation Denver. I’ve still got three weeks.”

“Well I know you figure this whole mentorship thing is just an opportunity to screw over ninth graders, but there is some value to it. Daniel you’re illiterate. You don’t read shit if it doesn’t have a Nintendo logo on it.” Denver went over and picked up two books and handed them to Daniel. Johnny Tremain and The Outsiders. Daniel counted pages with a quick flip of the thumb.

“Jeez Denver; I can read these when the teacher assigns them. Don’t worry about it.” He made an effort to return them to Denver. The teachers practically read the books to you and explained them about three times. Half the time they watched the movie. Daniel had no trouble with school books.

“These are not on the list to study in grade nine. They are like the books you have to study and I want you to have something to compare them to.” Daniel looked at him with disbelief. “You have two weeks till I get back. I want both books read by then. Be ready for a test.” He poked Daniel in the stomach. “Don’t just watch the movies or download shit from the internet either. If your mom tells me you didn’t read the books then you won’t be able to sit down for a week.” Daniel grinned at him suddenly and jumped across his lap with a big grin on his face.

“You want to start now?” The puppy wanted to play. Denver dumped him onto the floor and leaned down.

“Read the books Daniel.” He got up and started back to work. “You better stay here till I can walk you home. Do you want to help me out?” This was exactly what Daniel wanted so he put an apron on and started into the dishes. Denver watched him for a minute. He thought about the boy’s fright and how quickly he had recovered.

God I hope he can always bounce back like that” he thought to himself.

Daniel phoned his mom at work to let her know he would come home after closing with Denver. When Denver closed the doors at 10:00 Daniel settled on a couch with Johnny Tremain (copyright 1943! There would be no videos of this....) and flipped to the first page. “On Rocky Islands gulls woke. Time to be about their business...” Daniel looked up and saw Eddie and Denver sitting heads close together over their guitars. Eddie was teaching Denver how to play one of his pieces. Denver wasn't very good, but it seemed to be his summer project. He was a quick learner and he seemed to be enjoying the lesson.

The Little Island, Wednesday August 11th

Daniel was determined not to live in fear of the streets. He walked cautiously down the street checking his back from time to time. The break squeal, that two months ago would pass unnoticed, set his heart racing. Sometimes a brown and yellow car would drift by and stop him in his tracks. Luckily, it was not a common color. He was coming home empty handed. In the end he had decided to leave the two games he was trading in on credit. Nothing had appealed to him in the store and he had found out he had to wait till almost Christmas before the game he wanted would be released. In the mean time he needed to play something that didn’t involve dragging people off the street randomly for a beating. Life had begun to imitate art far too much lately.

“Hey gay boy, how’s it hanging?” Simon pulled to a stop and bounced off his seat beside Daniel. Daniel sighed. He had been enjoying his afternoon free from thoughts of freshie year. He stopped walking and turned to Simon with a hurt expression.

“Please stop calling me that.” He couldn’t keep his voice light.

“Drag queen?” Simon tried playfully. Daniel turned away and looked across the street. Simon shifted gears suddenly. “Sorry, it’s just a habit. What are you up to?” Daniel responded to his sudden friendly tone.

“Are you hungry, want a drink or something?” Simon glanced over at The Little Island across the street. Daniel was vaguely aware that the Marks didn’t have much money. Simon’s bike was pretty basic and he had never tossed money around at school. “Hey, my treat”

He didn’t have much money. Simon flushed defensively and almost snapped back that he wasn’t interested in going on a date with Daniel. The words were on his lips before he buried them. Simon was tired of hanging out with the kids in his neighborhood envying the kids across the bridge or in the high rises like Daniel. Daniel was trying to be decent. Simon swallowed his pride, “Sure, why not?” They crossed to the brightly colored hangout. Daniel waited while Simon carefully locked his bike. He paused to check out the people inside before he led Simon to a back booth. When they had settled Simon noticed Daniel had put his back against the wall. “You’re pretty careful” he commented. Daniel looked at him frankly.

“Are you telling me getting your bike dumped in the water is the worst thing that has happened to you?”

“Listen boy toy, you don’t have to teach me about being bullied.” As soon as Simon snapped it out he realized he had broken the implied truce between them. It was just a little hard listening to Daniel feel sorry for himself after two months when Simon had had to deal with bullying his whole life. He was ready to leave if Daniel snapped back at him. Daniel looked at him over the menu.

“You’re right, that wasn’t fair; sorry.” The boys buried themselves in the menus and let the silence drag on until the waitress came by.

“Ice tea” Simon commented and got an evil look for his paltry order. Daniel ordered the same and tossed in a large order of fries. She gave him another dark look before moving off. The boys exchanged a glance. “It’s not exactly Red Lobster here. What did she expect?” Simon searched for a common topic of conversation and settled on Daniel’s earlier question. “I’ve been stopped a few times. I don’t think they know I am in grade nine. My brother won’t let his friends bug me. I guess that is something anyway.” Simon didn’t like to talk about what happened to him. He looked over at Daniel and once again envied him. Daniel was not tall, but he had great looks, athletic body, and he didn’t know what it was like to be small. The seniors treated Simon like a little boy and he hated them for it. “The joke is they think it’s funny to make me kiss the girls; like I’m too little to want to do that.” He hadn’t thought he would tell Daniel that.

“I wish they would treat me like that.” Daniel answered in a low voice. He seemed to study the cracked table top. “I hate what they make me do. I’m not gay Simon; I don’t get a boner looking at guys.” Daniel had decided he had been forced into it at the party. If Denver wanted to do something with him, well that was just part of being a freshie. Arlo had been a huge mistake. His feelings watching Evan in the tent and the boys he saw on the street, that was all just normal curiosity Daniel told himself. He was not attracted to Simon, that must prove something.

Simon was glad when the drinks and fries came. It was a welcome distraction. They ate in silence until Simon noticed Daniel staring at the door. He swiveled around quickly to see what had attracted his notice. Three babes in halter tops and shorts had entered. He followed their progress over to a table near the ninth graders and sat. A red head leaned forward to giggle something to her friend across the table. Simon was treated to the sudden swell of her breasts and the revelation of her nipples through the thin fabric. He watched for a moment and slideways in the booth so that he could continue to look without notice. “Holly Toledo” he commented glancing at Daniel as he propped a leg on the bench to hide his hard on. Daniel kept slipping glances of his own at the three young women.

The three nineteen year olds chattered happily ignoring the young boys. They were beneath the women’s notice as they sat nibbling fries, hoping their erections would fade before they finished. “I should come here more often” Daniel commented absently. Simon snorted some ice tea through his nose and that got both of them laughing.

Close encounters, Saturday August 14th

Daniel sat close beside Mandy while she looked at the pictures of his trip. His shoulder occasionally touched hers. Was she actually leaning toward him a little? He enjoyed the view of her face and tingled at the smell of her hair. He was hardly attending to the pictures on the monitor. He answered her questions and resisted the impulse to kiss the curve of her neck 25 centimeters from his hungry lips. He was conscious of his hard-on and bewildered by her interest in the boring shots of him standing in front of tourist signs. The only good shots were rafting down the river. He thought of the picture he had of Mandy by the pool. It had been his bookmark throughout the trip and it was still slipped neatly into The Outsiders next to his bed. His face had burned when she picked the book up to look at it. When she asked for a soft drink it had been a challenge to slide away from her without revealing his passion. She’d glanced at him then focused on the monitor so she probably hadn’t noticed. He was on the second book of his assignment and he liked it better than the first. He turned the chair around casually when he came back and gave his erection a shield. He leaned on the back of the chair and dropped his chin onto his arms. Shit he had built a wall. What was she going to think now?

His mom had made him read as she drove the car out to the mountains and back. As a reward, she had agreed to do the river rafting with him. He rarely saw her cut loose like she had on the river. He was also secretly pleased that the buff captain of the raft had paid attention to her. His friends called her hot, and Denver was right, she could do better than the accountants she brought home from time to time. He had finished reading Johnny Tremain on the way back from the mountains. Daniel thought of Rab. For some reason he reminded him of Denver. Rab had shown Johnny how to be a man. What was the line? “So that a man can stand up.” Rab had shown that sometimes you paid for doing the right thing too, so had Denver.

He so wanted to put the moves on her. He had never really had a girl friend so he wasn’t sure which moves worked. He was sure that some grade ten was going to grab her and kick sand in his face at the beach. Girls like Mandy just didn’t walk alone much. But he needed Mandy's friendship. She was one of the few things going well for him at the moment. He had his mom, but everything else had become uncertain and new and so testing his chances with Mandy frightened him. If he stepped over the line, he might loose Mandy completely. She was the last sure friendship he had from eighth grade. She smiled at him and put a soft hand on his arm. He glanced at her face. He thought he would burst.

She so wanted him to make a move on her. He’d never had a girl friend. Maybe that was her fault. She’d kept Daniel around as a guard between her and Greg then discouraged her friends from getting too close to him. Amber Klein had called her a bitch for holding onto two guys. She was sure some grade ten like Amber or Amanda was going to grab him. They made her feel like an inexperience child. Guys like Daniel just didn’t walk alone much. But she didn’t want to loose his friendship. She wasn’t sure how he would respond to her. She kicked herself for pushing him at Arlo. Something had happened there she did not understand and did not like. Daniel sent her so many mixed signals these days. He had kept her picture in his book and she thought he’d had an erection just then, but he wasn’t responding to her moves. When she sat close, he moved away. She tried to be patient. If she came on too strong she might loose him to Denver and Marks’ world and then she would be Grace to his Will. He was the only friendship from eighth grade she needed to keep. She put her hand on his strong arm and smiled. His eyes lit up and his mouth curved into a little smile. She thought she would burst.

Night Moves, Tuesday August 17th

Little fish moved in schools these days keeping one eye out for Sharks. Daniel walked behind the boys half listening to their chatter about the movie watching their pushing and shoving. They’d decided to head over to Dairy Queen before they found their ways home. Daniel thought mostly about his date with Mandy the night before.

One indication of how well it had gone was that she had sat in the front next to her mother on the way to the movie, but sat in the back on the way back. Mandy’s mom had to tease him about the beer at Denver’s house. Even though he knew she was teasing, it had reduced him to inarticulate silence for a while. But Mandy had held his hand in the darkness of the theatre and later in the back seat. They’d bumped into friends at the theatre and Helen and Alice had attached themselves to Mandy like grim death. He’d felt them watching his every move throughout the film and his determination to kiss her and maybe say something evaporated in a hail of female chatter. The girls reduced him to brooding silence. When Mandy held his hand behind the popcorn tub his heart lifted. He’d pressed her hand and sacrificed the popcorn rather than let her go. He smiled at the memory, and then frowned; the God damn Grand Prix was back.

Daniel wasn’t sure what to do about it. “Hey guys, wait up a minute.” Simon and Arlo turned around while Gordon and Chris kept walking. Daniel nodded towards the Grand Prix swinging around in the parking lot.

Simon turned toward the other two and called out “get back here guys; incoming.” Gordon and Marsh swung around and the Freshies tightened the circle as the Grand Prix pulled to a stop. There were two guys in the car and Daniel glanced quickly around the busy parking lot to see if they had brought reinforcements. The ninth graders huddled together while a big senior unfolded himself from the old car. He walked over to the four boys alone. Daniel got cold when he realized the twelfth grader was looking at him.

The senior stopped short of the group and pointed at Daniel “get over here kid.” Daniel paused for a moment, glanced at the others and then started forward. Simon surprised him by stepping in front of him and holding him back.

“What do you want with him? You start anything and you’re gonna have to work for it. Right guys?” Simon didn’t get a response from the other three. The senior didn’t look impressed and stepped forward to push Simon away and grab a handful of Daniel’s T-shirt.

He looked down to where Simon was sprawled on the pavement and commented contemptuously “Back off you little turd, this is between him and me. Go over and stand with your bum-buddies and jerk off till I’m done with your friend.” He turned away and dragged Daniel along with him back to the side of the car. Simon brushed himself off and walked back to the others. Arlo and Marsh were fumbling with their zippers while glancing around the parking lot.

“Fuck that you morons, put your dicks away for God sake; Jesus what losers!” Simon turned back to watch Daniel and the senior. He expected them to push Daniel into the car, but the guy just pushed him up against the side and started saying something Simon couldn’t hear.

“That was a neat slip you gave us the other day. You must really know that neighborhood well. All I saw was your skinny ass and the bottoms of your shoes.” Daniel suddenly recognized him as the senior in the alley. The guy was holding his shirt like he was hassling him, but his voice was friendly.

“I was lucky, the door was open or you would have had me.”

“You got that straight. I’m varsity receiver. You wouldn’t have made two meters without the slip you gave me.” He let go of Daniel with a little push that sent him back into the car. He put a finger on Daniel’s chest. “What’s your game?”

“Which ever team I can make I guess. The competition will be tight.”

“That’s a good answer kid. I like your attitude.” He glanced around before continuing. “If you make the freshman football team I’ll watch your back. I’m an assistant coach this year. You have good hands?” Daniel shrugged. He wasn’t sure. “I recognized you coming out of the theatre. If you see me around you don’t have to worry. I don’t have time for all this shit. But the guys I was hanging with play the game hard. They saw you tonight too and sure as shit they are gonna jump you boys pretty soon.” That turned Daniel’s stomach to ice and he looked over at the small huddle of boys; Simon in front with his fists on his hips. Funny how things turn out thought Daniel. “You better take off now kid.” He pushed Daniel away towards his friends. Daniel stopped and turned around.

“Thank your sir.” He said it like the words meant something to him. It made Duncan feel good. “I’m Daniel, what’s your name?”

“Duncan.” Duncan glanced at Simon still standing his ground like a little Bantam Rooster. “Tell the skinny blond kid he has guts. Too small for football though.” Duncan turned away and got back into the Grand Prix.

Daniel watched as the driver burned rubber accelerating across the parking lot, then he turned back to his friends. He put his arm around Simon’s shoulders to show he appreciated the support he had shown. “We have a problem guys.” He explained the situation and everyone started looking grim. “Do we stay in the open or get under cover?” Gordon and Marsh had not experienced much since picture taking and they were all for staying on the streets and keeping to the plan. Arlo looked like he was going to piss his pants and voted for hiding till someone’s parent could pick them up. The mall wasn’t safe anymore so that meant they had a way to go till they were safe.

“Let’s just go to some block parent’s house and ask for help.” Arlo suggested. This was a little too pussy for the other fourteen-year-olds so it was rejected. Simon turned to Daniel and asked him what he thought.

“I think these guys are whack-jobs with a car and the longer we stand in this parking lot the better the chances are they will run us down. We have got to take away that advantage. These guys will drag you right off the street. I’m not even sure you’re safe in a restaurant.” Simon thought Daniel knew what he was talking about. “Let’s jump the fence into that yard over there.” He pointed towards the closest row of houses. They ran across the parking lot and piled over the fence into the growing shadows of someone’s back yard. The argument continued until Simon lightly punched Daniel’s arm and pointed silently back into the parking lot. A red Mustang had stopped and four seniors were standing around pulling on bottles of beer. They looked like they were arguing about what to do next. Daniel turned to Simon and commented “Well Two-Bit, what’s the plan?” Daniel had decided he was Pony-Boy, Denver was Darry and Mark was Soda-Pop. He had decided Arlo was Johnny, but he did notthink Arlo would like that. As an after thought he decided the name Two-Bit suited Simon. Daniel did not feel like a greaser (face it he had too much money) but the assholes standing beside the Mustang sure came across like Socs.

“What?” Simon looked confused by the nickname. “I say we stick to the side streets and hit back yards when they see us and if they close in on us we start screaming like little girls.”

“Sounds like a plan.” They set off down the street. Arlo stayed close to them and the other two trailed behind. After about a block Gordon and Marsh started thinking they were overreacting. Simon had seen a few things and Arlo and Daniel didn’t feel like telling stories. Gordon and Marsh started fooling around and howling.

“Shut up you guys” Arlo swung on them angrily. They stopped and stared at him.

“You look like you’re going to shit yourself Arlo. Lighten up. Why do we have to take the long way around? It’s going to take all fucking night to get home at this rate.” Arlo was going to throw something back at them when someone grabbed his collar and when he swung around he saw Simon and Daniel running for a back yard. He didn’t even bother to look for what had set them off; he just lit out after them. He caught up with them when they were jumping the fence into the next back yard.

The three boys ran in a broken pattern through five or six yards as silently as they could. Simon set the direction and the other two kept up. Nobody worried about the plants they trampled as they went. Simon finally brought them back onto the sidewalk and slowed to a jog before they all stopped to catch their breath. The other two hadn’t kept up. After a minute they continued in the direction of a bus stop that would take them home. After the close call Daniel knew they should phone for help. “Simon, could we phone your brother?”

“I hate to break it to you Daniel; he’s being an asshole right now. He might pick me up, but he’d leave the two of you here in the street.” Daniel guessed having a big brother wasn’t everything after all. “Arlo: What about your mom and dad?”

“Do we know where we are?” They looked around and realized they were lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Lets get somewhere familiar and then we’ll call.” They headed in the direction of traffic. After a block a figure stumbled out of a driveway ahead of them. The three ducked into a row of bushes to see what would happen. “Marsh” Arlo whispered to the others. They nodded and were about to get up when Marsh started stumbling down the middle of the street. Moments later a senior tumbled out of a back yard and pushed him down on the road. Daniel started up beside him and was pulled back down by Simon.

Simon whispered in Daniel’s ear.“Too late”

The three boys froze in the bushes while the red Mustang cruised past. It stopped and another senior climbed out to join the other. They dragged Marsh to the back of the car and the trunk popped open. The three boys held their breath as someone tried to get out of the trunk. They heard the contact as one of the seniors punched the body back down. Marsh crawled into the trunk beside Gordon. “Fucking bastards” Simon muttered quietly. Arlo sobbed once, and then kept silent. Daniel punched the ground. “Next time I bet they will keep up with us.”

“Next time they will be way the fuck in front of us.” Daniel observed. Arlo and Simon nodded.

“Do you think they will be alright?” Simon asked hopefully.

“No” Arlo and Daniel responded simultaneously. Daniel continued “there’s not much we can do anyway.” They waited for the Mustang to pull away and watched it go down the street. When it passed out of sight they resumed their careful journey toward safety. Ten blocks later they shuffled into a Pizza Hut and Arlo called his parents. Simon and Daniel compared wallets and then slid into a booth to wait for Arlo. When he returned with Daniel’s phone they decided to order some food and ice tea.

Simon offered a toast over the pizza, “To fallen comrades”.

“To fucked over comrades” Daniel offered. The restaurant felt safe. Danger had fueled their appetites and they demolished the food and refills. When Arlo’s dad showed up they were ready to go. He asked the boys where Marsh and Gordon had gone.

“They caught a ride with some other guys.” Arlo replied.

Dialogue before the dawn, Thursday, August 19th

Boner-69 says

Marsh and Gordon didn't have much to say about their little road trip.

Curious George says

i'm not interested

Boner-69 says

wonder if they got raped lol

Curious George says

it's not funny arlo

Boner-69 says

your senior should take you to the parties i go to it would be excellent to party together

Curious George says

i dont want to be there. the seniors are shits. its all a big joke to them, even denver sometimes

Curious George says

school starts soon and i wont be able to avoid them

Boner-69 says

summer went too quickly

<ugly duckling has been invited>

Curious George says

hey mandy

ugly duckling says

I can go to your house after lunch. Are we going swimming?

Boner-69 says

sounds good

TWOBIT-14 says

i wouldn't hang out there if i was you

Curious George says

hey you finally figured it out!

TWOBIT-14 says

lol i read books too ponyboy

Curious George says

how did you guess?

TWOBIT-14 says

well you would be the hero wouldnt you?

Boner-69 says

what are you talking about? lots of people, dont worry

Curious George says


Boner-69 says

swimming at the pool

Curious George says

lets just watch a movie

Boner-69 says

ok how's the cheerleader Simon still have the hots for you?

Curious George says

lay off Arlo

TWOBIT-14 says

not getting enough from your slut senior these days?

Boner-69 says

wouldn't you love to know

Curious George says

save it for the enemy

ugly duckling says

Give me a phone call Daniel gtg.

Daniel reached for his phone in frustration. Every time he tried to do something with Mandy someone got in the way. He really didn't want to hang out with Arlo either. Her line rang busy. In frustration he turned his attention to answering an e-mail from Mustapha. The summer was done and he hadn't got up the guts to tell her how he felt.