The following story is for adults and contains descriptions of sexual contact between teenage males. If you are a minor it is illegal for you to read, or if you find the subject objectionable, read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my over-active imagination. I hope you like it. Mail me or if literary analysis interests you visit Eliot's Space.



by eliot moore

Chapter Fifteen

Christmas Lantern

Understanding the Theme of "The New Kid"


No one in this story states the theme. The author lets the facts speak for themselves. But a good reader will realize that the author had something to say about behavior and human character. See if you can arrive at the theme by answering these questions.

Name: Daniel Murrell
Date: Nov. 4,
1. At the start of the story, what did Marty need that he was clearly not getting?  
At the start of the story Marty needed to play stick ball with the other boys. Gelberg and Eddie didn't want to let him play because he was really bad. He also really wined a lot. It sounds like Marty didn't have many friends.
Do you think he wined because the boys did not accept him?
2. Whom would you blame for Marty's situation? Why?

I blame Marty. Marty whines all the time and he is bad at sports. The other boys don't want to play with him because he is bad at punchball. He lies to them when he drops the ball and throws it to the wrong boy.

Daniel, don't you think the boys should have been more understanding?
3. In some ways the "new kid" might have been a natural friend for Marty. Why?
bad at sports too.
incomplete sentence
4. Why then did Marty treat him as he did? (The answer is not a simple one. Consider Marty's past, his needs, the effect of the behavior of the other boys.)
I am afraid you may be right. Could Marty have done anything different?
Marty was happy because he was not the new kid now. He could give the new kid a hard time until the next new kid came.
5. Do boys in real life treat each other as Marty and the new kid were treated, or does this story give a false picture? Do girls behave the same way or differently?

please watch your language. You know some words are not appropriate in school.

Girls are much quieter that boys - even you Daniel!

We like to burn each other all the time. Guys who are not athletic get left out of the game. My friend Simon doesn't play basketball so nobody wants him on their team. Girls can be bitches to each other. They never get into trouble because the teachers don't notice them. Most teachers just pick on the guys.
6. Can you think of ways in which such treatment can be prevented or stopped? Or will children always behave this way? Explain your answer.
You can not stop bullying. Some things are really mean and someone should stop them. Teachers should not allow bigger students to hurt new students. Moms and dads should probably pay more attention to what is going on.
you used the word bullying
7. Keeping in mind the answers given to the proceeding questions, try to state the theme of the story in a few carefully worded sentences.
Teasing happens all the time. If you are a good sport the teasing will not be bad. If everyone thinks you are a cry baby then they will give you a really bad time. Marty and the New Kid were sucks and they were afraid of the other boys. When the other boys got burned they just laughed or gave a good one back. Nobody likes a cry baby. You have to be tough. In the end Marty found out he was tougher than the new kid so he was happy about going to school.
I see your point Daniel. Taking care of yourself is important. Do you see how bullying just keeps going?

For Composition

Do you recall any incident in which a young person was cruelly treated by other young people? Describe the occasion, and tell how you feel about it.

People are cruel to each other all the time and I do not like it. I try to be nice to people if I can. I do not like bullys. When I join a team the veterans usually give rookys a hard time. Usually it is stuff like throwing them into the shower or making them clean up. The gangs in elementary school get into trouble all the time. You really have to watch out for them everywhere. One guy I know had to be beaten up by the others so that he could join the gang. That is intense. The hazing in high school is really bad here and I don't think that is fair. I have friends who have been beaten up really bad and nobody does anything about it. They are afraid to tell anyone. Sometimes the seniors expect freshmen to do really gross stuff or they hurt them. Of course not much has happened to me, but I feel bad for the guys who get hurt. I guess I don't have any stories to tell you. I think it is cool that you let us come late to class.
Sometimes you have to tell someone or the problems don't stop.  


Handwriting on the Wall, Friday, November 5th

"It's cold Arlo." Laine glanced around the garage attic. There was an old mattress near the trap door. He reached down and took the top magazine off of a pile.

"It'll be okay. We have a sleeping bag." Arlo held it up and then dropped it on the mattress. Laine flipped through the Playboy and considered the centerfold.

"Your girl friend?" he held the picture up so Arlo could see. "She's good looking."

"Not as hot as you are."

"Thanks" Laine tossed the magazine back on the pile. The attic had all the hallmarks of a jack-off hole. Laine knew all about finding privacy. He had to jack off in the shower. His little brother was a heavy sleeper, but he would notice Laine if he tried anything in the bedroom. "Let's go back inside to your room Arlo. I can be really quiet, honest."

"There are too many people around." Arlo moved closer. Laine accepted Arlo's kiss and thought about how lucky he had been to find him. "What do you want me to do, lover boy?" Laine gave in and they undressed and slid under the open sleeping bag. He liked the feel of Arlo against him and he twined his legs around the other boy to share warmth while their crotches pressed together. It was cold in the attic and Laine found it took the edge off of the pleasure of being alone with Arlo.

Laine loved Arlo. They had so much in common. They were both athletic and shared the same view of the queens in the drama club. There were a few differences he supposed. Laine did not lie about his sexuality, but he was cautious about it. Eighth grade had been just too hard on Laine. After he had outted himself he learned that the best way to survive was to suppress his attraction to the other boys and go head to head against them in the sports. He did not want to be defined by his sexual orientation all the time. Arlo was busy flaunting his new-found gayness. It sometimes made Laine uncomfortable. Arlo had convinced him to wear an embarrassing costume to the Halloween dance. Despite his boyfriend's larger size Laine had played Batman to Arlo's Robin. They stood out in the crowd and it had been difficult hiding their feelings for each other. Laine had envied the straight couples their freedom to dance and hold each other. He had been forced to content himself with brushing against Arlo and feeling Arlo's breath on his neck when he leaned close to whisper something in his ear.

The other sour note to the fun at the Halloween dance was meeting Arlo's friends. Laine had fallen into a conversation with Daniel. Laine had wanted to make up for his bitter thoughts at the football game. They had talked about everything and nothing while Daniel's girlfriend chatted across the small gym with a swarm of girls and Arlo had slipped out to talk with Peter about something important. Daniel's costume revealed what his football uniform had. The renaissance mask covered as much of Daniel's face as Laine's Batman hood, but Laine had enjoyed watching Daniel's lips and his exposed chest. They had leaned in over the table, feet touching beneath the table, hands close together sharing their lives. Daniel had a nice voice too. When Laine thought about it later he did not understand Arlo's fit of jealousy when he returned with Peter. Daniel was clearly wrapped up in his girlfriend. He had hardly said three sentences in a row without using her name, and Laine loved Arlo. A few small touches across the table to emphasize their words meant nothing. After a strained three way conversation Arlo had dragged Laine into the hallway. It still hurt Laine to remember it; being pushed into a locker by his boyfriend and told this other boy was also Arlo's lover. Arlo had actually slept with him after they had gotten together. Laine had not taken that well at all. It was their first fight. Making up a day later had been the best. Arlo had promised that Daniel was history. Laine had given himself to Arlo after that.

Nobody could be as close as they were. Nobody had the fun they did in class or the cafeteria at lunch. Laine would sit close to Arlo while he whispered funny comments about the people around them. When they were on their own things were perfect. The special times with Arlo made up for the rest. Arlo's older friends; Laine wasn't comfortable with Arlo's friends. Laine would think about it Saturday nights. His parents didn't let him out much. Arlo didn't tell him much about the parties he went to on the weekends.

Arlo was the inventive partner. Laine would have been content to lie close and feel his lover's body close to his all night. Kissing Arlo's sweet body satisfied him. Saturdays while Arlo was out with his older friends Laine contented himself with stories. Mostly, he found himself reading stories about boys who found each other. That is what he had with Arlo.

Arlo guided Laine into the world of sex. He was a confident teacher and Laine was an eager student. "I'm ready for you to get inside me." Laine rolled over on his stomach and lifted a leg. Even in the cold Laine could smell the musty aroma of the old mattress. He tried to ignore the depressing surroundings. Arlo's body was heavy on his; his lover's thick cock teased and tickled his ass.

"I've got surprise for you Laine."

"What, have you grown an inch?" Laine giggled. "You're big enough kido." They didn't get to make love very often. Mostly it was furtive moments in Arlo's bed after school, or Laine's bathroom. Laine wanted Arlo inside him. When he gave himself to Arlo it was special. Only his lover knew him. Laine felt Arlo's sweet head begin to push against his tender hole. This was love, being with your best friend and opening yourself to him. Laine felt a sharp pain as Arlo pushed into him. "Yikes!" he laughed as his body jumped. "Hey dude, you forgot to grease up. You must be really wound up."

"No man, this is going to make it feel better. We start dry and later the sensation is going to be incredible, just wait." It hurt. Laine arched his back and found he was tensing up for the first time since they had started getting serious with each other "Half way there boy."

Laine tried to twist around a little. "No, come on Arlo, you're hurting me. Please get off." Arlo pressed down on Laine's shoulders driving his body back into the musty fabric. Laine bit into the dusty pillow to keep from screaming.

"Trust me Laine; I know what I'm doing. Oh fuck, oh fuck, yeh, yeh, your hot and tight." Arlo ended with a strong push and ignored Laine's final protest. He left his cock buried deep for a minute. Despite the cold Arlo was sweating.

"Jesus Arlo, what were you thinking?"

"Now it gets better." Arlo put his hands on Laine's shoulders and began to stroke his cock in and out of Laine. It didn't get better. Laine struggled to lift his head. His anus was on fire and it brought tears to his eyes. He tried to relax, and allow the experience to turn him on, but it didn't happen. Arlo gave a final thrust and groan, "Yes, oh yes" and then Arlo collapsed on top of Laine. Their cheeks touched and for a while the only sound was the labored breaths of two teenage boys. Laine felt Arlo's cock shrink between his buttocks. "What did I tell you? Did you like it rough?"

"No" Laine was hesitant. Arlo's excitement was obvious. He didn't want to ruin it for his lover. "I guess I just wasn't ready for that, sorry." Laine felt inexperienced and inadequate. He had been dreaming of sex with another boy for years; wondering what it might be like to open himself to another person put his trust in another person. Arlo had been like a soothing cloud burst after a long drought. Now Laine felt unsure.

"We'll do it again some time." But Laine didn't want to. Arlo gave his cheek a kiss and slid off of Laine and out from under the warmth of the sleeping bag. Laine watched him as he picked up a rag and wiped himself off. The cold shrank Arlo's cock and pulled his balls tight against his groin. Arlo looked down at Laine before tossing the rag away. "I'm sorry; I'll be more careful next time." He stretched his hands up to the rafter and stretched. "Fuck me Laine."


Dark Reflections, Thursday, November 18th

Daniel felt he was getting to know the school's odd corners really well. He would have such good memories to look back on. The conference room was new to him, but the situation was all too familiar. Up until a minute ago he had been having a good week; maybe even a good two weeks. Now he was faced with a new senior and his unfamiliar freshie. The twelfth grader approached him and he reached out to take his shirt off. Daniel pushed his hand away and the senior punched him lightly in the stomach before grabbing his collar. "Is it going to be easy or hard?" The senior loomed over Daniel.

"I'll take my shirt off if you want."

The senior spoke to the other boy. "Jerk wad, you have been pouting like a little girl ever since I caught you lying to me last weekend. Did you think I wouldn't notice you at the fucking movie theatre with that chick?" Daniel watched the other boy flinch. "Is that the way to treat me after all the beer I pulled for you? Is that the way you treate me after I set you up with that gash? " He turned back to Daniel "Make out with each other. Pavan, you start." The senior turned to Daniel "What's your name?"

"Daniel" he replied reluctantly. Daniel eyed the other ninth grader cautiously. He had pulled his shirt off. He's good looking thought Daniel. Daniel ignored the senior and when Pavan seemed to hesitate, he reached out and started kissing him. Pavan put his arms on Daniel's back and kissed him back tentatively. They both stopped after a moment and checked with Pavan's senior hoping they had done enough to satisfy him.

"Suck face, dip shits"

They resumed kissing. Daniel was conscious of the boy's warmth and unconsciously let his hands wander over Pavan's back. Pavan held him by the small of his back and their groins touched before they slid away, calves pressing slightly into each other. Daniel found his cock growing and it intensified his desire to kiss the boy. Daniel knew Pavan had an erection too. "Start making out with the hands again." Daniel forgot his usual fear that a teacher would come in and find him. Pavan slipped a hand down to Daniel's cheeks and Daniel responded to the fire that suddenly coursed through his veins. "That's enough; you two faggots are going to jizm all over your pants in a minute. Let's leave him to whack off by himself."

Daniel watched Pavan step away. "The next time you want to see your girl friend, just tell me the truth, okay?" Daniel heard the boy murmur agreement.

He was slipping his shirt around his shoulders when the door opened again. Pavan lingered a moment at the door before coming in. Daniel ignored him after the first look. "Hey, I'm sorry about that." Daniel ignored him as he came close. "No hard feelings?" Pavan put a hand softly on Daniel's shoulder. Daniel looked at the handsome boy without a word. He didn't know what to say. He let Pavan put a hand behind his neck and draw him close for a final kiss. Pavan turned and left him alone with his thoughts.

Daniel feared the seniors. He hated the embarrassing minutes in school where someone might see him. But he didn't know how to handle the turn-on kissing and touching some boys gave him. Daniel sat and looked at his hands. "Guys turn me on," Daniel commented to the empty room. He had never said it to himself before. That's what it had been with Arlo and Denver. I must have wanted Arlo. Why would I nail him if I didn't? I was turned on by Jake too. He was catching himself looking at the guys in the hallway the way he always looked at the girls. Mandy might drive the thoughts away for a while, but he knew that in some classroom his mind would now drift off to Pavan, Denver, or one of the other boys he had been forced to neck with. Daniel didn't know what to do with his feelings. They were something he wasn't sure he could control. He wasn't sure if he wanted to control them. One thing was for sure though; he had no intention of having a boyfriend like Arlo and Denver and he had no intention sharing his feelings with Mandy.


Fighting the alligators without a paddle, Thursday December 2nd

You could look forward to some kind of a break at Christmas. Four months was a long time to be a fugitive. There was less of the frantic pressure Daniel had felt in September, and he had tried to be a good sport. Most seniors were good natured about it and left him with his self respect. Some would tousle his hair and tell him to say hello to Denver. Daniel was beginning to believe being Denver's Freshie was just adding to his grief.

Daniel pushed his binder into the bag and checked his phone for messages. Everybody was supposed to turn their phones off, but it was too tempting. Daniel wished Mandy or Simon had a phone. Simon sent him messages from girl friend's cells. There was a message, but it wasn't from a friend. After he had been lured into a trap he had established a code with his friends. Seniors stopped short of stealing his phone; however, they often played with it while he was being harassed. Chantal had been drawn into one such trap. After what they suffered together, the easy going girl had stopped talking to him.

Daniel couldn't be the obliging Freshie all the time; once every week or so someone wanted to trap him into something or face a humiliating beating. At the start of school he tried to stay out of Freshie Court. He had his first trip to court in October when he hit a senior for asking him to run around the track naked. The court was sympathetic to him and he was assigned to clean a hallway during noon wearing a clown suit. Sometimes Daniel and Simon thought the school supported the freshie court because it kept the school clean. Before Halloween Mandy ran foul of the court, she and twelve other girls had to paint a spirit mural near the library in bathing suits. Daniel watched impotently with a crowd of appreciative boys. The school PR machine made sure the local press picked up the story. Riverview High students were the most civic-minded in the city, and they knew how to have fun too.

Arlo was sentenced to wearing drag for a week because he was caught skipping school with another boy. His parents grounded him and both freshies and about thirty other ninth graders cleaned tables in the lunch room. The eleventh grader was not punished. Simon and Daniel were not sure, but they thought Arlo might have been getting into drag a bit too much. Unlike the other boys and girls he kept coming with increasingly sluttish outfits. Daniel didn't care what Mr. Petri had said about being tolerant of cross-dressers, it really made him uncomfortable watching his friend vamp it up for the school. Arlo's boyfriend had looked uncomfortable in his dress. Daniel had avoided the boys, but he had smiled sympathetically at Laine. Laine had looked different with short blond hair.

Daniel moved down the crowded hallway lost in thought. He had to be honest about that too. Arlo wasn't his best friend any more. In fact Daniel spent so much time running it was hard to keep friends. His experience with Chantal was common. The few times he got comfortable with a classmate they would get caught by some rude twelfth graders and forced into something embarrassing. After you have touched a guy or kissed him on the mouth, you either become really good friends or you start avoiding each other. Daniel was avoiding too many people.

He had this sad double life. Friends after school were strangers in the hallway until they made it into a safe classroom. He continued to try to avoid Mandy at school because he didn't want her to know how big a pussy he could be in front of the seniors. It broke his heart to have her see him dragged off. As the months passed he began to steer clear of Simon for the same reason. Simon seemed to have no fear of the seniors. He made Daniel feel like a suck.

Daniel found his way to the auditorium where Mandy had said she would meet him. He sat by himself in the back row and watched Mandy on the stage with her drama friends. Conrad was always there beside her. Daniel didn't know why he got his back up with that guy. They were like two tom cats hissing at each other all the time. Mandy would not stop slinking around him either. He had to give some credit to her new circle of friends; they let her play her game of looking dull. Conrad saw right through the act and shielded her from curious eyes. Daniel wished he had older friends like that. Daniel felt the competition from the boys. She went to plays with Victor and Carlos in her drama club. She went for sodas with Conrad. Mostly they were grade tens and elevens. Some of them were pretty cool he thought dejectedly. She never asked him if he would go with her. She didn't seem to realize he would go anywhere if it meant he could be with her. She confused him.

He kept absently picked at a loose thread on the back of the seat in front of him. Daniel could never bring himself to say a kind word about Conrad, he was just too much of an asshole; but after her drama rehearsal one day he had tried to show her he was still interested in her drama. He had suggested they stay and watch Victor's play practice. She didn't want to. As they walked out of the school he tried to reassure her that he thought Victor and Carlos were okay. He didn't want to be like Greg. He had to trust her. Daniel realized he spent too much time stressing about whether he could keep her. She had listened to him praise her friends all the way to her house in silence. She never suggested she would invite him along. He thought he was getting nowhere with her until she drew him to her room and he found they were making out. Maybe he had said the right things after all. Guys were so much easier to understand.

This was going to be his first Christmas with Mandy. He'd been buying her a Christmas present ever since they met. In grade six he had wandered the mall looking for something she might like. It was the first present he had tried to buy a girl and he really had no idea what to get. He had settled on a little Christmas bear. He didn't know how to give it to her. Finally on the last day of school he slipped it into her desk with a scrap of paper with his name on it. She sat at the back of the class so he never saw her face when she found it. He had spent the rest of the afternoon avoiding looking at her. It wasn't like he wanted to be her boyfriend or anything; it was just, she was nice and she smiled at him.

In grade seven he had given her a tiny bottle of perfume. He wrapped it carefully and since they were good friends by that time it was okay to hand it to her. She gave him a fancy tin of candies. They traded their gifts amid the swirl of gift exchanges; not a moment to capture in memory. He and Arlo were visiting her house by then. Daniel saw his bear on her bedroom shelf. It was propped up against a zoo of other animals. Daniel was fascinated by the girls in his class by that point and he found out he was popular with them too. Mandy's family room would be full of boys and girls watching movies together. He tended to compare the other girls with her. Daniel had parties too. Mandy usually came. He introduced her to Greg at one of his parties.

Christmas had been hard in eighth grade. Greg had made him go shopping for Mandy's present. Daniel would know what she would like, they were good friends. By Christmas Daniel had realized he liked Mandy. Each time he found something good for Greg to give her, he wished it was his present. The three of them went bowling with one of Mandy's friends and Daniel had watched while Greg gave her the present. Just as he had known, she loved the thin silver bracelet with the inscription he had helped Greg buy. Daniel held off giving her his present until a day later after school. They had been oddly shy with each other as they exchanged gifts. He didn't want to spoil what she had with Greg so he just bought her a scented candle. She gave him a small brass compass. It had his name engraved on the back. Daniel had hated Greg.

Now that she was his girl friend he found that it was not easier choosing a gift. She had told him to simply buy her a CD and gave him some titles she was interested in. He had bought one, but it didn't seem very special for their first Christmas together. His mother had suggested he take her to a play. He was thinking about it. He saw Greg from time to time. They had ended up in different Learning Communities. Greg was as oppressed as most of them, but he had found another girl friend. Daniel could never understand why he had dropped Mandy. She smiled at him from across the auditorium and he decided he would chance sitting with her at lunch tomorrow. He could probably handle another dose of Conrad.


Check your Oil, Saturday December 11th

Daniel slammed the bathroom door shut and locked it before he slumped on the toilet. His belly and groin ached from the beating he had just taken from the two seniors. He turned quickly and vomited the taste of Frank out of his mouth. He didn't feel better. A hard punch to the graffiti-covered divider only left him with a throbbing hand. He sat and leaned his head against the broken tile. The tears started and he couldn't stop.

Frank and a guy he did not know had caught him on his way back from Mandy's place. Just an unfortunate coincidence, he was glad she hadn't been there. Nobody had seemed to care when they had dragged him off the bus. The kid behind the counter had shrunk down as they hustled him past the shelves of junk food and pushed him in the bathroom. He thought they just wanted to make him miss his ride; but of course Frank wanted a blow job. Daniel fought for a bit, and then gave up.

His phone rang. He let it ring for a bit and then pulled it out of his inner pocket. They hadn't taken it when they stole his money and bus pass. It was Mandy. He drew a deep breath and answered her call. "Hey Mandy, what's up?" he tried to keep it up beat.

"Did you get home okay?"

"Almost there, don't worry about me. " he squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. The toilet smelled of puke and piss and he needed to get away from it. He wished he had remembered to put some money in his shoe. He kept the conversation going as he started the ten-block walk home. It was cold and he hadn't planned the walk. The wind bit into him and he huddled into his winter jacket. He wasn't going to phone anyone. He had to handle this by himself.

* ** *

Daniel struggled with his sheets fighting back. Small noises escaped like sobs as his head tossed back and forth on the sweat drenched sheets.

He was in his underwear and he had to get to the front door. Mandy was waiting for him and he knew that if he didn't get there in time the vampires would reach her first. She didn't know about them and someone had to warn her. It felt stupid to have forgotten to dress before he came to school. He was self conscious; people seemed not to have noticed yet. The hallway was really crowded and he didn't want to force his way through. Arlo came running up with Simon. They shouted that the vampires were right behind them. They all launched themselves off the ground and gently floated up toward the high ceilings. Whenever they started drifting down they peddled their feet a little to gain altitude. They drifted over the heads of the students rushing beneath them. Daniel knew they were moving too slowly. He tried to grab at the lights and sprinklers. When he caught one he pushed himself hard and drifted down the hallway. It was hard going down stairs and Daniel had to scrabble along the ceiling. His head would brush against the dusty paint and if he pushed too hard with his hands he would drop dangerously down to the grasping hands below. Only by peddling furiously could he regain altitude. He was like a helium balloon bouncing along the ceiling. He lost track of his friends. As time went on he became increasingly frustrated with his progress and he began to panic. It was taking more effort to concentrate on maintaining altitude. He kept forgetting to peddle and then he would have a moment of frantic movement to check his fall and start to rise again. He couldn't see his pursuers. He simply felt their presence behind him, grasping, wishing to drag him down. As he fought the fatigue he wondered where Mandy was.


A One way street, Thursday, December 16th

23 2 Straight and Circular Pulses

We can generate a straight pulse, like the long bow waves caused by a passing boat, by dipping a ruler into the surface of the water of a ripple tank. The motion of the pulse is such that its crest always remains parallel to a line marking its original position. The distance between parallel lines is measured along a perpendicular; thus the direction of motion of the pulse (also called the direction of propagation) is perpendicular to the wave crest. This direction is called the normal crest. In Fig. 23-3 the crest of a straight pulse is shown as a solid line. Its position at a time later is shown by the dashed line. The direction of propagation is shown by the arrow.

We can also produce circular pulses in the ripple tank simply by dipping a finger into the water. During the time interval, the pulse has expanded to form a larger circle. We cannot assign a direction to the whole circular pulse, because it moves in all directions. Instead, let us look at a segment of the circular pulse which is small enough to be considered straight (Fig. 23-5). The direction of propagation of such a segment is along the radius and away from the center of the circle. This direction is normal to the crest of the wave, just as the direction of propagation of straight waves is normal to their crests.

Denver stretched his legs beneath the cramped desk and his legs protested the confinement as they had regularly since grade eight when he had finally outgrown the school desks. Except for a brief respite in ninth grade, he was resigned to the uncomfortable fit. Denver listened to Wendy's answer with half an ear. She was an unlovely young woman without the redeeming qualities of Claire's sharp wit. The answer made no sense and Denver didn't join the general ridicule. Mercifully, Wendy was a stubborn soul blissfully unaware of their impatience. He was vaguely aware of Miss Nelson's reflexive glance in his direction. She could usually count on some reasonable response from him. She would have to muddle on without him. He was taking a break. Wendy suddenly reminded him of someone. He tried to place a name with the sense of familiarity. Wendy straightened her binder and pushed her heavy frames up her nose. The loose arm of her sack-like sweater fell away from her pudgy wrist. Denver twisted around and caught Claire's eye. He finally recognized her model for Mandy's disguise.

Thinking of Daniel's young girl friend simply depressed him further. He flipped a page and absently copied the heading and added December 15th. He wasn't comfortable around her. It didn't seem to make it easier that he understood exactly why he never relaxed around her. To begin with she reminded him of Beth. Then there was Daniel and Mandy's close relationship. Denver didn't see them together very often. Other freshies traveled in groups, but when he saw Daniel in the hallway he was usually alone. Mark said Daniel ate lunch by himself unless a friend, usually Simon, joined him. Yet when Daniel talked with Denver during the resource time, or at the Brass Lantern it was clear Mandy was his best friend. The girl slipped into Daniel's conversation unconsciously. Denver was aware that the partners talked daily. It was easy to imagine they shared a relationship similar to his with Beth. Mark did not like Beth slipping into Denver's conversation. He had trained himself to avoid that. He liked to work through the highs and lows of his life with both of them, but he realized the matters closest to his heart were shared with Beth. She knew how he felt about his emotionally distant mother and Karl, his surrogate grandfather. He could be uncertain with her. When she was still in high school he would tell her about his romantic relationships. The gap between them had seemed so great; Denver had just been flattered that a senior would take such interest in him. As he got older the gap seemed to close and they had to acknowledge the attraction growing between them. The girl was an ever present echo of her older cousin and the choice he rejected when he fell for Mark.

Mandy wasn't always good for Daniel. Like in an old musical review from the 30's a male actor got sidelined by some brutal seniors the day before the festival. There was panic in the cast. Of course Daniel had known the lines. The teacher had been skeptical until he had run through a scene, then she fell on him like he was her own long lost son. Mandy had been happy and Denver had not. Even Mark had tried to talk Daniel out of going on stage. He wouldn't let Mandy down and insisted on doing the part. Daniel's friends and most of the ninth grade football squad had shown up to see him do it. It wasn't a big part, but as usual, thought Denver, he shined through. His friends did what they could, but a few days after the production was over he ended up paying for it anyway. He had missed a day of school from the attention that day.

Daniel was so like him it frustrated Denver. Despite Denver's best intentions the boy seemed bent on dealing with the year on his own, just as Denver had. If a stick 10cm long were placed horizontally in the ripple tank shown in Fig. 23-2, about how long would its shadow be? Denver automatically consulted the page and recorded the first answer. Kyle Warner interrupted his thoughts by leaning across the aisle and pulling his notebook around. Denver watched his anorexic classmate as Kyle consulted his work. Kyle was an ass. Kyle could always be counted on to enjoy the most juvenile forms of freshie hazing: Pouring milk down a boy's pants, slapping a young girl's butt, and simple wedgies were a scream to Kyle. He resented Denver's criticism deeply and always ignored him. He did not seem to have a problem stealing answers from him though. Denver pulled his notebook back and considered the next question. In what direction does a straight pulse travel with respect to its crest? There was Claire and a handful of others in the room who sympathized with Denver's freshie mad on; otherwise he was surrounded by indifference and a collection of Kyles. He needed to remember to keep his cool around everyone.

His thoughts drifted back to Daniel. Daniel did not say much about his love life. At fourteen, Denver had not had much experience with girls. Kissing in grade eight had been the height of Denver's passion. The rest had been so much cum spilled into an old T-shirt as he dreamed of rescuing conveniently naked girls from vague dangers. He had been convinced holding hands and kissing on the couch had been a good start. Grade nine had been an education for Denver.

As much as he hated the memories and feared for Daniel's safety, he was perversly drawn to the erotic images of Daniel's trials. Denver tapped his pen against the side of his desk. He had too much to work with now: Daniel naked by his pool in the summer light, the long freshie party where he had stood entranced as the willing fourteen-year old necked with sluttish boys and girls before finally blowing that other boy. Even now Denver was getting hard thinking about Daniel getting off all those times.

He replayed the memory of Daniel stretched out on the picnic table, muscles tense, perfect rod stretched eagerly up to be caressed by the warm lips of that drunk girl. He liked to picture Daniel kissing Mandy, his body on fire. Some day Mandy, or another girl would ease that fire. Till then, Denver would be glad to do it for him. He remembered his first time at the hotel in Singapore while his dad was at a meeting. It had been with the equally bored daughter of a business contact. The excitement and fear had been incredible. He had replayed Daniel's loosing his virginity to Amber endlessly in the moments between sleep and waking.

Then there were those forbidden moments he had taken with the young boy. As much as he wished he could take back the night they had together, the memory was burned into his body. Daniel naked on his bed; Daniel had such perfect proportions. In fairness he was not sure who had seduced who. He had been surprised by Daniel's forwardness. He did not think he would have taken it as far as he had. Daniel was so young; Denver could not understand his infatuation for the boy.

Denver jumped a little and sat up to hide his erection when Ms. Nelson put a hand on his shoulder to draw his attention to his nervous tapping. She moved down the row without comment. He glanced at his notebook. The solid line in Fig. A shows a pulse at some moment. The dashed line shows the same pulse a short time later. Trace the figure and draw the normals at the points indicated. It was hard to concentrate with the image of Daniel's light frame straddling his hips. Are any of the normals parallel to each other? He could remember Daniel's weight pressing down and the feel of his palms sliding up the smooth thighs to Daniel's hips. Daniel's sculptured chest and belly had moved gently above his sweet erection. He had seen the excited determination in the boy's face. The night had been a dream.

His cell phone buzzed against his thigh. Cell phones were supposed to be turned off in class, but it was hard to resist. Denver found he could get away with it if he kept the ring off. He pulled it out. He certainly was not without friends and Daniel usually pestered him with useless text messages. Denver slipped it open and checked the display. It was Daniel's phone, but he knew it wasn't his young friend: the bastards. "Having a gd time, wuwh lol" Denver didn't give them the satisfaction of replying. He thought a moment and decided Daniel was in gym class still. He glanced at the clock and realized the period was just about over. Daniel must have been in the change room. Getting caught in the change room was bad. It was usually one of the teams or a senior hunting for young ass. Denver had too many personal memories to work with. He closed his phone. They had taken to sending him these messages about once every two weeks or so. Daniel was so closed mouthed about hazing he hoped it only happened that often. Denver had pestered Daniel for names. He needed someone to hit. Denver had never understood why Daniel thought Denver should not know how things went.

He tried to shut the images out and focus on the work. He had to work tonight and Mark was expecting them to spend some time together. He did not need homework. Figure B shows a pulse at some moment. The arrows indicate the normals to the pulse. Trace the figure and draw the pulse at a short time later.

It took him five minutes to notice the snickering from around the room. He did not understand it until he heard Claire's angry whisper "Get that out of my face you jackass." He realized there was a lot of cell phone action. This was something new, and unwelcome, since he had been a freshie. Cal leaned over and poked his shoulder. When Denver glanced at him he held his phone up so Denver could see the picture. Denver slapped the phone out of Cal's hand.

"What the fuck, asshole. I just bought that." Denver struggled out from under his desk and slammed his text shut. He felt a pressure to get out of the room. It was as if everyone was watching him, willing him to leave so they could relax. He jammed the books into his bag. "You're such a butt-head Hawk. It's just a couple of little faggots." Denver turned toward Cal and grabbed the desk top.

"Denver, don't" Claire's warning came through the red haze before he followed through with the impulse to tip the desk. He did not respond to her. He turned and stalked out of the classroom. He did not feel better when he was free of the prying eyes. A convenient trash can absorbed some of his frustration. He paused to lean against the wall and gather his thoughts. It would be lunch soon. He should skip the next class and make the effort to eat with Daniel. He couldn't do it. The image was too fresh. He knew he would have to face him later during the daily resource period. He needed some time. He went for his coat. Denver was barely conscious of the growing traffic in the hallway as he pushed his way to the door. His phone rumbled against his leg. It might be Daniel; but all he could see was Daniel's wet body and the naked boy bent over the eager curve of Daniel's straining flesh. Denver tried to ignore the pulsing in his groin.


Turning down a second course, Thursday noon

Laine rummaged through his lunch and quietly listened to the other boy's conversation. Occasionally his eyes drifted down the hallway to the doorway into the crowded lunch room. "I think Saul's right Vincent is hotter than Mark. Don't you think so?" Laine wished Hank would lower his voice, or switch the topic to basketball.

"Did you catch the Nick's last night?" A couple of the boys glanced his way.

"Nick Allen? I don't have any classes with him." Hank turned to another boy "Doesn't he have a girl friend?" Hank turned back to Laine with interest "Are you telling us he leans both ways?"

"I was talking about the game last night." Why did he bother? He would be better off sitting with the drama geeks. His lunch companions seemed to have no interests beyond celebrating their new-found sexuality. He looked longingly at four boys with athletic jackets walking by. One of them was in his Math class. He was a cool guy. He never talked to Laine. Where were the gay athletes, or at least some straight guys willing to talk to him long enough to find out he wasn't going to make a pass at them? A somber Daniel Murrell walked by with the short guy he seemed to hang with. Murrell had a bruised lip. He always seemed a bit battered. He looked cute. His companion jostled him companionably and forced a smile to his lips. Laine automatically checked out his ass as he moved past. Fuck Arlo; why had he let himself get talked into that Batman costume? He still remembered the first look on Murrell's face. Still, they had had a good talk together after that. Laine turned back to his companions. They were okay he guessed. Arlo had drawn him into their circle and then drifted away when they broke up in November. Arlo had his older friends. Laine stuck with the three boys out of desperation. He hung out with them at lunch and listened while they talked about their lives. The boys just couldn't connect with him. Laine was in it for the sex. He guessed they were too. Hank had the run of his house so it was party central. He felt like an outsider, but he could always find a companion with one of them.

"Hey Arlo, what's new with you?"

"Long time no see Arlo, too good for your old friends?" Laine found it hard to swallow the last bite of his sandwich. More than ever he wished someone had come by to take him away. He watched Arlo exchanging suggestive comments with Hank and the others. He couldn't repress the ache in his belly or the tingle when Arlo's dark eyes shifted briefly to look at him. Laine swallowed painfully. He was conscious that he still wore the choker Arlo had given him after their first time together. It still hurt to see him. Laine tried not to look at his beautiful face. He focused on the hand that held a book bag close to his leg. Arlo had strong hands. Laine had loved Arlo's hands on him. He had to close his eyes to break the connection. He wanted Arlo so badly.

"Laine, can we talk for a minute man?" Laine opened his eyes and tested his strength. He felt his face burn when he looked into Arlo's eyes. He filled his lungs before trusting himself to speak.

"So talk"

Arlo glanced at the other boys before replying, "I thought we could maybe talk alone for a minute." The others knew about their break-up. They dropped their usual banter and listened respectfully. Arlo must have sensed he was weakening. "Give me a chance Laine, please?" He whispered it in the soft seductive voice so familiar from their private moments. The noisy hallway faded away and Laine gave in.

"Sure" Even so he rose reluctantly. He let Arlo lead him down the hall.

"How have you been doing?"

"Same old, same old" they continued in silence. Every group found its place in the tangled pile of red brick and slab concrete. The bottom of the north stairwell was Arlo's. Laine knew they were heading there.

"I miss you." Laine did not have an answer for that. He shifted his book bag uncomfortably and continued in silence. What was he supposed to say? Arlo knew why he had broken it off. "We haven't talked for weeks. I see you hanging out with Peter and the others. Does Peter take care of you?" Laine studied the floor as he listened. He did not like Arlo's tone. "Or is it Hank, good old farmer Hank. Does he plow your furrow Laine?"

"Stop it Arlo; that's not fair. You were fucking around the whole time you were with me." Laine had stopped on the stairs. The anger was close to the surface. He saw Arlo visibly shrink.

"Yeh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say all that." He held out a hand to invite Laine to continue on. "I'm just crazy for you sweet heart. You're killing me." Laine would not take the hand, but he continued on down the stairs. He wondered how Arlo filled his days. In his heart he knew. Arlo had his new friends. They were the same age, but the taller boy always seemed older to him. Laine stopped at the bottom and leaned against the wall. Arlo stared at him with innocence and longing that threw Laine into fresh turmoil.

There were no further words between them for a while. They were drawn together and in the momentary privacy of the stairwell Laine allowed himself to be kissed. It recalled the passion of their first kiss at the freshie dance. Laine parted his lips and tasted Arlo's tongue. He let the boy slip his hand down the back of his pants. He had been a naive boy with vague desires when he met Arlo. Arlo had taught him to love in such a short time.

"Isn't this better sweetie? Isn't this right? Oh baby, what happened to your beautiful blond hair? I thought it looked so good on you." Arlo breathed the words in his ear and nibbled on his tender lobe. "You're letting it grow again." Laine closed his eyes, close to surrender. Arlo's fingers probed deeper toward his hole and recalled the fear and horror he had felt. Arlo was consuming him again. Laine pushed him away violently.

"No" the word was sharp and together they listened to it echo up the stairs to become lost in the general babble of voices above them. "You hurt me Arlo. I was bleeding." He tried to make his friend understand. "I told you I didn't want to." It broke his heart to see Arlo's face. Mingled with the disappointment he could see Arlo's disbelief. He made Laine feel inadequate. "You hurt me" he repeated softly. He reached slowly down to take his bag and then looked at his friend. Arlo had his path. He knew he had to follow his own to something better. Arlo let him walk away without another word.


Christmas Gifts, Wednesday December 22nd

"You're not supposed to just throw the tinsel on the tree in clumps. Put it on one at a time like this." Daniel demonstrated the technique to Mandy. She watched for a moment and sighed.

"God you are so anal Daniel!" His hand froze on the tinsel he was rearranging and looked at her reproachfully. She gasped as soon as she said it and covered her mouth in mock horror. "Sorry Daniel; that was insensitive of me." After three months they felt like an old couple. They certainly had outlasted the other relationships they knew. She looked hopefully at him over her fingers. Daniel didn't want to spoil the Christmas mood.

"Well at least I'm not as anally retentive as Arlo." he went back to fixing her clumps of tinsel while Mandy broke apart on the couch.

It wasn't that funny now, but Mandy and Daniel had learned the nature of Arlo's new relationship at Halloween. Mandy had proven who was whipped in their relationship by rejecting his plan to go to the ninth grade party as a football player and cheer leader. She had countered with Romeo and Juliet. She made him watch an impossibly old video one evening. Daniel had to admit the chick was hot, but he would have taken poison too if he had to wear the guy's outfit. The fight scenes were good. The guy playing Romeo's friend was a little like Denver. Jake was definitely Tybalt. Daniel remembered surprising Mandy with a few of the lines Juliet had fallen for. He really didn't know what he was saying, but mimicking the guy in the movie almost earned him the love scene from the film. Mandy made the costumes and Daniel had to threaten Simon with his dagger to get him to shut up about the tights. The dagger was the only cool thing about the costume. Mandy had shown a good deal of cleavage though. He had ignored it as best he could while their moms were snapping pictures. Later it had been hard not to simply stare. Daniel had been grateful for the little flap thing she had sewn across his crotch. The spandex would have shared too many secrets.

Arlo and his date had been Batman and Robin in Spandex. Arlo's spandex left nothing to Daniel's imagination. Neither did their constant touching. There hadn't been much modesty left in the ninth grade by the end of October. Ms. Cannon had looked like she was having a fit during the whole party. She sputtered every time another sexy outfit walked into the small gym. She cooed at Daniel's costume and called him cute. Mandy had beamed with pride and Daniel had scowled. Arlo and the other boy had broken up later which was too bad because Daniel kind of liked the guy. Mandy worried about Arlo, but she couldn't get Daniel to talk to him.

The Brass Lantern was quiet. The offices were closed and the Saturday shoppers were over at the malls. Daniel glanced around the old restaurant and felt a glow of contentment. The tree was done. He stopped to take a break and sat next to Mandy. They were mostly past the need to touch each other all the time, but he twined his fingers through hers and felt the now familiar thrill of her touch. Daniel glanced nervously at Hagar the Horrible. Mandy had still not convinced Daniel that he wasn't going to get gunned down for touching her. "Who is the chubby cop?"

"Mom's partner; I wanted him to meet Clair." Daniel glanced at Claire practicing Christmas carols on a keyboard. Karl had listened to her when Denver had suggested the clientele would like it.

Eddie had adamantly refused to sing Christmas carols. "I an I don't play Christmas Mas" he had remarked. Karl and Denver had noticed Eddie had pulled his guitar out and he was amusing himself playing little variations and harmonies on her traditional themes. Mandy thought it was great. Daniel was adopting Karl and Denver's attitude, he wasn't in to Christmas music, and he just thought it was good for business. Daniel gazed at the twinkling tree. He was pleased with the job he had done. Denver had let him do it by himself. The only other nod to Christmas was the stockings Karl had put on the fireplace. Daniel had been touched when Karl had shown him the stocking with his name on it. When nobody was looking Daniel had felt his stocking. There were things in it. He was grateful that Karl had made him feel part of the staff.

Daniel had developed an instinct for recognizing when he was in a paying customer's way. He nudged Mandy and helped her up. Daniel went back to the kitchen to help out. Mandy went over to her mom to continue her new project. Daniel and Denver usually connected at least twice a week at the restaurant. Denver was puttering at the counter preparing for the evening. Daniel silently worked around him. This was Daniel's favorite time. Daniel loved the quiet times together in the kitchen of the Brass Lantern. Daniel caught up with Denver and turned to watch the tall eighteen-year-old work. Daniel would have blushed to use the word love to describe his feelings for Denver. Though Daniel still had physical feelings for him, Denver was becoming like a brother. Daniel was drawn to his experience and knew he needed Denver's approval. Claire's sweet voice and Eddie's guitar drifted through from the dining room. Mandy went to listen and Daniel got busy clearing tables and washing things up. The supper crowd was predictably light.

When the evening was done Daniel caged a ride home with Denver. They sat shivering while the Echo warmed up. They talked of little things; Denver and his dad spending Christmas in Arizona ; Daniel's discouragement over sports. The only team he had made since football was the track team. He was barely keeping his place there. It was all about training. It turned out that fast on the grid iron was pathetically slow on the indoor track. Christmas lights sparkled up and down the street. Finally Daniel blurted out, "I miss you." Denver knew what he was talking about.

"Memories remember? What about you and Mandy?"

"That's great, but I don't think she's ready yet. It's got to be right. You know what I mean?" Denver could respect that.

"Find some one in your class." Denver didn't like the thought Daniel just needed him to help relieve the pressure. "What about that guy you told me about, Arlo? You're just feeling horny."

Daniel tried to block Arlo out of his mind. Denver exasperated Daniel. "I can spank the monkey anytime Denver, I have a lot of material to work with." Almost too much Daniel reflected. He paused before he continued more softly "but I still think about you."

Denver knew that Daniel was young enough to grab sex where he could get it. That was okay though, Daniel was a gentle boy. Like all fourteen-year-olds he was intensely physical. His feelings for Denver came out through contact. Denver knew he had taken advantage of that in September. Denver tried to ignore the large puppy dog eyes.

"Is it Mark?"

Mark was private. Mark wasn't Daniel's business. "No" It was Christmas time and Daniel was offering himself with a bow. "I think about you too Daniel. But it's not a good idea." Denver saw no future in it for either of them.

They drove in silence down the snow filled streets. Denver saw a spot and pulled over near Daniel's apartment. As they were crossing the alley entrance Denver stopped Daniel. "Do you still remember how to kiss?" Daniel nodded mutely and Denver pulled him into the shadows. Their lips found each other in the dark and for a time they were both lost in memories.



(to be continued)


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