PT 19


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Hey y'all! IT'S NOT OVER! Heh heh. A lot of people thought the ending to the last chapter felt like an ending to the story. Well obviously, with this posting, it's not. There are several chapters to go. I know, it's been a long time. No need to offer excuses, but I have good news: The next chapter after this is already nearly finished and so is the one after that, so I can actually promise they will be posted in a reasonable amount of time.

A few people guessed that the song I referred to at the end of the last chapter was "Woodstock", written by Joni Mitchell, a goddess of folk rock. But the version of the song I wrote that piece to was performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; (David Crosby being the sperm donor for Mellisa Etheridge's baby, for those too young to be familiar with his music) Neil Young being the one I referred to as one of my all-time favorite artists.

I forgot to mention that I've added a pic of the character Dave to the pics of Danny, Jerry and Tyson on my website at: www.geocities.com/desertmac2000/ <http://www.geocities.com/desertmac2000/>

Well good news! TJ is now also hosted on two other websites besides Nifty, and they are: http://www.superdrewby.com/ and http://www.eroticdreams.us/main.html (copy and paste if these links aren't active to visit them and check out all the kewl features they offer) Both sites are great and both offer other fine stories as well. Superdrewby also hosts my short story, Bobby's Tale. I want to express my appreciation to Drew and Dreamy for hosting my stories on their excellent websites!

On Superdrewby, I especially recommend "Reclaiming Austin" by BillyTK. This is an excellent story, which is also hosted here on Nifty. Not only that, but Billy is an awesome guy who has become my friend (but really, I'm recommending his story because it's REALLY good, which is how I met him, by writing to tell him I thought it was so good.)

Thank you Bill for your always tremendously helpful editing!!!

Let's check in on the boys...

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Tutoring Jerry pt19


We were awakened around 9:30 Sunday morning by the beat of the bed in Dave and Mark's room thumping rhythmically against the wall; Jerry had been joking last night when he said the bed was fastened to the floor. He was spooned up against me but rolled onto his back and chuckled at the banging. I turned over, lay my face on his chest and my knee across his thigh, remembering last night under the stars, all the wonderful emotions and the magical love we shared. I thought of my `breakthrough' and how differently I viewed the world this morning. I rubbed my hand around my Starwarrior's chest and sighed contentedly as I watched my fingers play through the curly golden brown hair. He had his arm wrapped around my shoulders and hugged me into him, gently stroking up and down my side and kissing the top of my head, inhaling the scent of my hair with a satisfied sigh.

Waking up in Jerry's arms was a wonderful event for me, a reward beyond measure-- which I was in no condition to appreciate yesterday morning. I stretched like a cat and emitted a most contented sigh of my own as I listened to his heart beating the rhythm of a happy man.

But the steadily increasing force and tempo of the pounding on the wall prevented us from dwelling in our serenity for long. Picturing what was going on in the next room made my eyes wander down to the wide head of Jerry's morning wood, poking out from just beneath the sheets. Apparently he too was being inspired by the sounds of lovemaking in the next room. The cylindrical cyclops was imploring me, bouncing around, saying `Hello! I like you! Will you be my friend? I'll be your friend if you kiss me!'

Well, you know, being the good neighbor I was, I couldn't just ignore him. I didn't want him to feel all neglected when we could clearly hear other neighbors putting their happy morning woodies to good use...

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When we finished, the beach house was quiet. Then I heard a shower start up over giggling and the thudding of four feet in a tub.

After we all got cleaned up and presentable, everyone made it to the kitchen, where Jerry and I managed to cook up a decent breakfast. We both liked Mark. He seemed like a nice guy. Dave couldn't take his eyes off of him, nor the smile off his face-- not to mention the unmistakable afterglow of an energetic fucking. We offered to take Mark skiing with us, but he had to get back to the hotel, as his friends-- also his ride-- planned on getting back to Houston in time to go to the Sunday afternoon beer bust at Dirty Sally's, so we gave him a ride to the hotel. They exchanged phone numbers and a quick kiss before he got out.

Dave was all bubbly and hyper, talking ninety miles an hour non-stop during the ride back. We were so happy for him, not just because he'd finally gotten some lovin', but because he also seemed to really like the guy. He was animated and very generous with his compliments as he talked about Mark. He said he was planning on going into Houston next weekend to see him, but wasn't sure he could wait that long.

I teased, "So you've found you a man, huh? You in love?"

He hesitated a little and smiled shyly, "Well... no, I'm not in... we'll see. I need to work on him a little."

I didn't ask what he meant and he didn't elaborate.

When we got back, I told Jerry I wanted to call Celia's while he and Dave went to get the boat ready for skiing. I was surprised when Tyson answered the phone. I asked if he would like to come skiing with us and he declined.

He added, "Look, Danny, uh... I don't-- I can't do the social thing with you right now, y'know? I mean..."

My heart sank. I'd been so afraid of this happening, but I'd had a gut feeling it probably would. I was silent while he fumbled for what he wanted to say.

"It's like... Well... I can't handle seein' you with him just yet, ok?" I could hear the struggle in his voice, how hard it was for him to say this, "It kinda makes me... It kinda makes-- I just can't do it, ok? Not yet. Give me some time, Danny, ok?"

I tried to keep the sadness out of my voice, "Ty... I understand how you would feel that way, but..." I didn't really know what to say. I had that empty feeling that he was saying he never wanted to see me again at all. If he wouldn't socialize with us, at that moment, I couldn't see any way to be around him.

There was a long, uncomfortable silence before I could go on. "Remember what we said that night, Ty? How we said we both still love each other and weren't gonna be like everyone else about this?"

He mumbled, "Yeah, I remember..."

"I still want us to be in each other's lives somehow. I still..."

"I'm tryin', Danny. It's just hard." He sounded depressed. "At the Kon Tiki, I was... Every time I'd see him kissin' and holdin' you I just..." he trailed off.

I understood him on some level, even though I hadn't experienced the depth of jealousy he was feeling. I felt jealousy every time I had seen Glen feeling and kissing on him, even though I knew Glen didn't have his heart. But I knew that what Ty was feeling was that more intense kind of jealousy, knowing Jerry did have my heart, and I didn't know how to overcome that, except maybe with time. People always say time heals all wounds, but I didn't want to imagine the time between now and that healing.

A light bulb came on and I got a little upbeat, seeing a way to steer this conversation away from that heaviness, "Hey, for one thing, Dave wants to get to know you. He's hot as-- I mean, umm, I didn't mean to say it quite that way, but..."

Having just dropped Mark off at the hotel had completely slipped my mind. What an idiot I was! But it had slipped my mind because all I could think of at that moment was how to keep Tyson in the picture.

Apparently, it worked. His interest was piqued, "Dave, huh? So, what, you're sayin' he told you he's hot for me, huh?"

"Well, he's told me... I mean, he'd like to get to know you... well, ok, he's 'hot' for you."

He sighed, "But he's a fuckin' jock, dude. I don't do jocks. It's against my religion." We both chuckled. "No, really, I don't get off to all these rich jock dumbasses who think they're better than everyone else and bully people an' shit like that."

"Dave's not like that! First of all, you saw where he lives when we went to pick him up. His mom's a cocktail waitress, Ty! They barely get by, so don't go lumping him in with all those others like that." I was feeling very defensive for Jerry too, as I knew the barb was aimed at him as well. "And you've been around Jerry enough now to know he doesn't act like an asshole like that even if he is a jock and has money. Jerry told me he has never, ever picked on anyone in his life. That's just not part of his personality, or Dave's. I mean, I know what you're saying, and I always looked at jocks kinda the same way, an' I've been picked on by jocks too, but these two really are different, and you should be able to see that by now, Ty-- I mean, you've been with `em to a gay bar, for god's sake!"

There was silence on the other end for a bit, then I heard him sigh, "Yeah, you're right. I guess that alone says they're not like the others, huh," he chuckled. "Yeah, Dave seemed like a cool enough dude, an' he is good lookin' an' all, plus, he's cool enough to get high." Then he snickered and threw in, "I'd fuck `im."

"Tyyyy! How cruuude!" I admonished him playfully as he laughed it up on the other end.

"But, if he's so hot for me, how come he didn't show it at the Kon Tiki the other night?"

"He thought he was, but he's kinda shy around you for some reason-- and it's only around you. With everyone else, he's the opposite of shy. He doesn't know why he gets like that around you, but he does. But he's so into you and talks about how much you turn him on. Anyway, at the Kon Tiki, you just hooked up with Airhe-- Glen-- right after we got there and never gave Dave a second look. He was all bummed out about it."

Tyson laughed. "But, the airhead was pretty fuckin' hot, though, wasn't he?"

"Well, yeah, he was," I admitted. "But Dave's hot and has a brain!"

He laughed loudly, "Hey, give the kid a break! He can't help it if he don't got a clue." We both laughed. "When I went up to him to ask him to dance, he fuckin' sucked my tongue down his throat like a Hoover and put his hand right on my trouser-snake! How could I say no?!"

I couldn't resist, "Oh my god! That's SO funny!" We both laughed till our sides hurt.

When we caught our breath, Tyson said, "But seriously, he does get on your nerves pretty fast. I don't think I'll be callin' him. So... that Dave dude's all hot `n bothered about me, huh?"


Right at that moment I remembered Mark-- probably because Dave came up the stairs to let me know everything was ready. I was freaking out that I had totally put my foot in my mouth trying to set Dave up with Tyson when he was all into Mark now, and I was about to start backtracking at a fast and furious pace, when Dave came over and motioned for me to cover the mouthpiece of the phone.

I told Ty to hang on a minute and covered it. Dave whispered to me, "You talkin' to Tyson?" I blushed and nodded yes, so embarrassed at what I'd just done. He lit up excitedly, "Have ya told him I'm-- that I, you know, I'm interested in him?"

I got a very confused look on my face. "Wwwhat about Mark? Didn't you...?"

He cut me off with a wave of his hand, "Man, the thing is, I think Mark thinks I'm too young or somethin'. He just got out of a relationship and he's got a career an' all, and pretty much made it clear he don't want another relationship right now-- but, he said he really wants to see me again. I was hopin' that maybe if I got to be with him more, he might change his mind. But really, I still like Tyson way more... if he's interested at all."

I grinned guiltily up at Dave. "Well... that's what I was doin'... kinda fillin' him in, like you asked me to before. He didn't know you were interested, `cause you didn't say much to him the other night. I told him you were shy around him, but that you're really into him, too." Right then I heard Tyson's voice over the receiver. Dave mouthed to me `You didn't tell him about Mark, did you?' and I shook my head no. I listened and Ty asked if I was still there. I said, "Yeah, sorry. Dave is standing here asking if I'm talking to you."

"Well, tell `im yeah, and we're talkin' about him," he chuckled.

Dave had pushed his head down near mine and could hear him. His voice full of innuendo, he cooed, "Yeeeah? Well I been thinkin' about you a lot."

Surprised me! Apparently he lost that shyness all of a sudden, maybe `cause it was over the phone instead of face to face. You could hear the grin in Tyson's voice, "Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, I was bummed out cuz we didn't get even one dance the other night. You dance so hot."

"Think so, huh? Well, y'know, if that Glen dude hadn'a jumped my bones so bad, I woulda asked ya to. He was kinda hard t' say no to, if ya know what I mean."

I threw in, "He was real persistent."

Dave looked at me and grinned widely as he spoke to Tyson, "Well, uh, I sure would like the chance to dance with you sometime..."

I beamed a thumbs up at Dave and my cock twitched in my shorts as Tyson's voice deepened and sounded all husky over the phone, "Yeah, well, I'd like to dance with you too... soon."

Dave got all gooey like a schoolgirl (hey, I did all the time, so I'm not making fun of him!), "Yeah? Really? Did I give you my number? I got a car, y'know."

I could hear Tyson laughing as I relinquished the phone to Dave and he brutally pushed me out of the chair and took my place. I gave him a mock `up yours' gesture, laughed and mimed lewdly sexual gestures in his face and he responded with mimed fucking motions while still talking to Tyson through his huge grin.

I left them alone to talk and skipped down the stairs three at a time. I stopped at the landing to watch Jerry looking all sexy and nautical as he stood at the helm waiting for us. My sexy Stud. I pictured him in a uniform and wondered if there was at least a captain's hat on the boat that he could wear. I'd be his `first mate' over all the seven seas...

I told him what was going on upstairs and he laughed, "Hell, it's feast or famine for our boy Dave, huh. He goes from gettin' nothin' to gettin' more than he can juggle all at once." I laughed and Jerry added in a conspiratorial aside, "Now they should have a three-way. That would be hot."

I looked at him with arched eyebrows and giggled. I thought, `Yeah, Tyson, Dave and Mark; I'd watch that!' I also thought about how far Jerry had come so fast in his comfort level when talking about `gay' things and sighed happily.

When Dave finally came down, he was grinning from ear to ear. He hopped in the boat, high fived me and told us he and Tyson were `tight', as he put it. I asked what he was going to do about Mark.

He gazed out over the water in thought as we left the mouth of the channel and said, "Well... we've got a date next Friday. I'll try `n see what he's thinkin', how he feels. I mean, he seems like a great guy, and so hot, so good in-- he's good," he chuckled as he blushed a little. "But I dunno... I get the feelin he ain't lookin' for what I'm lookin' for. It's like... I'm lookin' for someone who wants... somethin', y'know?" He tried to gesture the words he couldn't quite articulate.

Jerry and I both understood completely. He wanted what we had.

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The school week was uneventful but busy. Jerry started coming over to my house to work with me every day. I tutored him in other subjects like psychology and government as well; he was good at math on his own. He would usually stay for an hour or so after my folks got home, as dinner time at his house was seven o'clock when his parents were there, and they were all that week. As everyone relaxed, he started talking with Mom and Dad a little more each day, so they got to know each other fairly quickly.

While I know they knew, or assumed, we were having sex the moment we got home every day, cleaning up and then studying, they never brought it up or indicated that they weren't comfortable with us being there alone. I started washing my own bed sheets and clothes, for obvious reasons, but also so I could keep Jerry's jockstraps in rotation. Since we couldn't sleep together, I found I got to sleep easier and slept better if I had one there on my pillow or just held it and smelled it. By this point, I was sure neither of my parents would ever open my bedroom door without knocking.

Fortunately, Mom's schedule was Monday through Friday at that point, but on Tuesday, we had barely finished showering and gotten dressed when she came home early. She stepped just inside the open door of my room to say something, sniffed the air, wrinkled her nose and left quickly. We were mortified! We knew the room reeked like hell of sex. Jerry couldn't look her in the eyes again until the next day. After that, I made sure to spray air freshener each time. A little smile crept across her face the next day when she poked her head in to say hi.

Regardless of that incident, it seemed my mom got more gaga over Jerry each day, and Dad enjoyed talking sports with him, fulfilling a little need or whatever that he'd never gotten with me. Sometimes, it was almost like they competed with each other and me for Jerry's attention.

I was also busy getting rigged up with electronics. Dad had the extension phone installed in my room that he'd mentioned, and on Tuesday he brought me home an awesome Kenwood stereo system with dual cassette that he'd repaired, with big speakers that he said I was never to use to their potential. Heh heh, sure Dad, sure, I'll never crank it up... while you're here.

Dave also came over Tuesday after Jerry and I had finished `STUDying'-- well after Mom came in the room-- and as soon as Dad brought the stereo home and hooked it up, we all went to Baybrook Mall and bought a shitload of cassettes. Jerry and I bought each other a `going out' shirt, too.

After Jerry left Wednesday evening, I went to the store for some paper supplies for an essay I had to write, and on the way back I saw Ron and Rachel Green arriving home, so I stopped and talked with them and helped unload groceries. Carly was excited to see me and I made her wobble around dizzily, playing `flying Dutchman' in the front yard with her for a few minutes until Ron called her inside to go to bed.

They were both so happy for me as we sat at the same kitchen dining table I had cried my heart out to them at, while I animatedly told them all that had happened since I saw them last.

They said Ron's birthday party was this Friday night and they definitely still wanted me to come, and they definitely wanted me to bring Jerry. They held no animus toward him at all and understood the conflicts he'd struggled with, saying something to the effect of: It's a beautiful thing when a person does overcome these things and gets to experience his or her love, when so many don't and fight themselves for years, or even all their lives.

I said I would bring him, even though I hadn't asked him yet, and went a step further, asking them if I could bring my parents. I told Rachel that they really wanted to meet them. They were delighted that I wanted to bring my folks and said they very much looked forward to meeting them. I hugged Rachel and Ron each tightly as I was leaving and told Rachel once again how grateful I was to her for saving my life that day. She had the grace to accept my gratitude without dwelling on her important role in the events.

Jerry ate dinner with my folks and me on Thursday and we all sat and talked about college and what the two of us wanted out of life. He told them some of the things his mother had said to him about being gay when she caught us. They were very sympathetic, but they also tried to explain where she was coming from, and I almost got angry. But they convinced me that they were just trying to explain how parents feel, not excusing the vile things she had said.

And that was just a part of the conversation. The rest of it was wonderful. Jerry speculated on when and how he was going to tell his mom what was going on. I hadn't pushed him on that point since that day in the boiler room, and by this point, I was totally ok with him making the decision as to when and how he did it. Mom and Dad offered to talk with her about it too, if he thought it might help. One big happy family, huh? It was awesome.

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Apparently, Brenda had been very effective with her scheme, as there were no problems with anyone at school. Jerry still walked with her sometimes, and she played the part of the `happy girlfriend' pretty well. It was strange to watch. He said he felt strange doing it, but that he was also happy that she seemed to be coming to grips with his `change' and was actually being pretty nice. He said they talked about it all some, and she was a lot less freaked out about it now. She still didn't approve and was still mystified that he could prefer me to women, but he said she was a lot less openly disgusted by it all. He was still committed to taking her to the senior prom a few weeks away. I hadn't planned on attending the prom, and still didn't. It wasn't something that appealed to me in the first place, so I never felt `left out'.

Dave and I started hanging out together a lot at school, talking about all kinds of things, cruising guys discreetly and rating them, becoming really good friends fast, real comfortable with each other. It just felt like we had always been friends. He had a long talk with Mark by phone Monday evening and said he was going to spend Friday night at Mark's in Houston. He was so stoked he could hardly concentrate on anything else.

Jerry and I made a conscious decision not to be seen together much at all at school-- though we would sneak off together for lunch every other day. But I was suddenly making all kinds of new friends, so I figured it must be my new outlook on life. I sometimes had to consciously tone down my enthusiasm while talking with others, and would remember how I used to be and just laugh to myself. Life had never looked so good to me.

Arriving early, I told Mr. Janke one morning all about how everything had worked out, and even told how we'd met another gay student and become friends. Naturally, I didn't tell who it was. As I talked, I could see genuine happiness for me in his eyes. He told me he was so glad to see the effects of it all on both Jerry and me, but he cautioned us to be careful at school. I told him several times in that conversation how much his understanding and support had meant to both of us, and especially to me. He said his offer of someone to talk to still stood if I ever needed to, anytime.

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On my recommendation, after Ron had shown me his little greenhouse out back the other night, Mom and Dad bought Ron an African Violet and a nice bottle of wine for his birthday. Jerry and I got him a Craftsman Workbench setup for his garage.

Rachel and Ron greeted the four of us warmly at the door and we stepped just inside as they set the gifts on the credenza with the others. We could hear lively conversations going on around the corner in the kitchen area-- where, apparently, most socializing and discussion happened in the Green household. I introduced Mom and Dad to them first, and they were all the type to hug, so they did.

But before I could get to Jerry's introduction, Mom took Rachel's hand in hers and looked into her eyes, "I'm so glad to finally meet you. I just want to say this to you right now: I know we'll never be able to truly express to you how very grateful we are for all you did for Danny, Rachel." Her voice began to waver with emotion as she said, "I don't even want to think of what might have happened if you hadn't been there for him. Both of you. I wish there was something, anything I could do to show you how deeply grateful we are to the two of you. You're angels, without a doubt, and we thank you both from the bottom of our hearts." With that she embraced them both, and Dad joined in the group hug. Everyone teared up, not just me.

Ron spoke for both of them, saying quietly in my mom's ear, "Danny is a very beautiful and special person. We're lucky he came into our lives."

Jerry stood beside me watching this and hung his head. I could see that he was feeling a wide range of emotions, but mostly remorse and guilt because of his part in the events they were referring to. I knew the images and emotions of that morning in the yard next door were flooding through his mind, as well as the pictures he had created in his mind's eye of the day Rachel intervened and saved me.

I didn't want him to think of this beautifully affirming moment that way, in that context, and I knew nobody else in the foyer wanted him to either. That wasn't anyone's intent-- and no one else realized it was having this effect on him but me. I clutched his huge bicep with one hand, reached up and pulled his head down to mine with the other, whispering reassuringly in his ear, "I love you so much."

He looked at me with a flicker of relief, but the anguish still showed in his eyes. He nodded and forced a smile; I felt so bad for him. They all eventually released each other and started wiping their tears away, with a couple of giggles here and there to release the emotional tension in the air, as people tend to do in situations like that.

Rachel then fixed her eyes on Jerry, stepped over and said, "Jerry, welcome. I'm so glad to finally actually meet you." Her eyes were warm and her smile genuine.

Jerry looked pretty miserable, but glad to meet her at the same time. His voice cracked a little on his first word, "I-it's nice to meet you too." Neither seemed sure whether to shake hands or hug and there was some awkward starting and stopping, then they went ahead and hugged. Jerry held her in the hug longer than anyone expected, then struggling to say it in a humorous tone, he said, "And I'm the sorry S.O.B. who's the reason you met Danny." He released her, looked her in the eyes and said, "Everything Mom said goes double for me." Wearing a tenuous smile, he wiped the tears from his eyes.

Everyone smiled and chuckled with relief. Mom pulled Jerry's head down and kissed him on the cheek. He blushed and smiled gratefully at her and then shook Ron's hand. Ron grabbed him in a hug, stepped back and shook his head, drawing everyone's attention to Jerry's muscular arms and chest, snickering, "Man, I was just glad I didn't end up having to try to break it up that morning." He pointed at Jerry's arm as he turned and said, "This guy could break me in two." Everyone else laughed-- as Ron was a pretty big and strong guy-- and Jerry blushed even more, with a big sheepish grin on his face.

And with the timing of a scene change in a movie, a twenty-something guy who was obviously the male version of Rachel's beauty-- thin runner's body, styled auburn hair, silvery gray eyes, and upturned little nose-- stepped into the foyer with a margarita in hand and party hat strapped on his head.

Robert beamed at the group, all of us just finished or still wiping our eyes, but smiling. He struck a pose and used his Bette Davis voice, "Dahhhlings, the party's in here! Laughter and smiles are mandatory, though, so dry those eyes and join the fun," gesturing back behind himself as a very handsome man walked into his finger, stopping and raising his hands in mock surrender.

We were all introduced to Robert and his lover, Bill. Wow, what a handsome couple they made! Bill was dashing, tall, dark and handsome as they come, and he had charisma to spare. We were led on in and introduced to Ron and Rachel's best friends, Blake and Diane, who both worked at NASA with Ron, as well as Jenna, a fellow artist who worked with Rachel organizing art shows, calling herself Rachel's unofficial agent.

Carly was there for the cake and ice cream and got to sit in her daddy's lap and help blow out the candles, squealing with delight at the applause. Her babysitter, whom Jerry and I had both seen at school but didn't know, came to get her around eight o'clock and took her to her house to spend the night. Little Carly had a hard time deciding which she would rather do, stay with all her favorite people, like her two uncles, Robert and Bill, or go to her first slumber party with her babysitter and her best friend.

After they left, we all talked and laughed, and gradually got pretty tipsy, as Rachel and Jenna kept the blender roaring and the margaritas flowing. Robert had some really funny stories to tell from his acting `career' on stages all over Houston and the state. And the general conversation was fun, stimulating and all over the map. It was the first time in my life that I was in a situation where I was on an equal social footing with my parents, and that was an interesting little phenomenon in and of itself. That each of them talked to me just like anyone else in the room when our conversations would intersect around the table was a really great feeling.

After a while, as people migrated from room to room, everyone checked out Rachel's studio room in awe at one point or another. I ended up standing with Robert in the kitchen and could see Jerry talking with Rachel in the living room and they looked like they were having a serious conversation. Dad was talking with Ron and Bill at the table, while Mom stood by the TV talking with Blake and Diane. Steely Dan was playing on the reel-to-reel while Jenna played with the Green's tabby, named Fruit Loop-- which fit him perfectly. The young cat was insanely funny, cracking everyone up. He would do flips, forward and backward, or arch his back and bounce sideways on stiffened legs, looking like he was freaked out, then fall down and do battle with Jenna's bare foot or one of Carly's dolls.

Robert gave me an issue of This Week In Texas, the state wide gay bar guide, and The Montrose Voice, a gay weekly newspaper. He told me what it was like to live in Houston, in the Montrose, being openly gay; what it's like to be a stage actor. He loved to be dramatic, and could come off as just a bit too eaten up with it all at times-- but then he would give a look or say something that totally let you know he was only having fun and really didn't take himself seriously.

Then Robert suggested we step out onto the back patio so he could have a smoke. We sat down in lawn chairs and looked at the stars for a minute or so. The night was warm, bordering on hot, and a little humid. Robert took a long drag off his cigarette, licked some salt from the rim of his margarita, took a sip and said, "So, you've been there too."


"You were about to `check out', the second time you ran into my big sis."

"Oh... yeah." I hadn't expected him to talk directly about my suicide attempt, though I had assumed Rachel had told him all about my two traumatic visits to her house and all that. She had told me she wanted me to meet her brother and talk with him so I would see someone who's been there and now was in a long-term, loving gay relationship. "She told you everything?"

He nodded yes and became introspective, "You know... once you've come that close, or even actually tried-- like I did... it changes you. Anyone who's been there... we all see life differently after that, kinda like people in car wrecks who have near death experiences. I mean, it's the same thing, really; it's all `near death'. Afterwards, if we find happiness, love, it's more precious. We hold onto it more fiercely; we'll fight harder for it than the rest of them. You know what I'm saying? Do you feel that?"

I nodded my head, thinking, trying to contrast how I felt about these things before and after that point. "Well, uh, it's kinda... I didn't... It's like, I didn't know happiness or love like that before Jerry, so I don't have the comparison, really. I was... very alone, before him."

I looked over at him and admitted, "I didn't fight for it when he, uh, dumped me. I didn't know how. I didn't think I had the right to fight for... something so... I mean, he was feeling, at that point that it was `wrong', and I guess I accepted that. I couldn't fight that, when I couldn't even say I was sure about it myself." I took a deep breath.

"But mainly, what I realized last weekend is: I didn't think I deserved love. When I was thinking about killing myself, that, I realize now, was what made me decide to do it. It wasn't just having lost the love I'd found, or the loneliness, or thinking that I was stupid for loving him in the first place-- it was not ever feeling worthy of it. I couldn't handle the thought of going back to that lonely existence I had before Jerry."

"That was a lot to deal with, and we don't get an instruction manual," he sighed. "So, have you come to accept yourself, that you're a good person who's lovable?"

"Yeah, I think so, finally. Hell, up until last weekend, as happy as I was that we were back together, I still thought I didn't deserve Jerry, love. Maybe I was still blaming myself for being gay, y'know? Like, punishing myself by denying myself with, like... emotional self-sabotage or something, I dunno. I mean, everything around me was telling me it's wrong, abnormal, people hate you for it and all that. And I was like, `How do you ignore that? How do you fight all of that? How could I ever really feel good about myself?'"

He nodded his head knowingly, "Welcome to the club, Danny. We're part of a large membership of which too few of us know each other. I think every gay boy and girl goes through this and has these same dilemmas in one degree or another. Those who get through it come out stronger for it. Some never work through it, and tragically, too many just check out. I've had friends who did. You and I are among the lucky ones. We got to the edge and survived, and found love in spite of it all. But as far as `fighting for it' after he dumped you, I was referring to what you have now, post-attempt. What I'm saying is: if anything should challenge your relationship from now on, you'll fight harder for it-- and believe me, there will be challenges from lots of different angles. And I really do believe that having been to the edge makes us stronger, emotionally. Once each of us gets past it and come to realize we are not sick or wrong, despite what the others say, we're ready to take life by the horns and live."

He pointed his cigarette at me and said, "Honey, life is too good a drama to waste it being dead! We can play with the script or we can be slaves to it. Either way, I've decided it's one big improv theater experiment that's just too juicy to let some amateur stand in for you if you don't show up on opening night. If you take it all too seriously, it starts feeling like you're singing Italian opera and don't understand the words-- you never know what's going on and you feel like you're on the outside looking in, like no one is ever gonna let you in on the joke. It's all about how you approach it. It's all just theatre, dahhhling, so play with it!" He swept the air grandly with his margarita. "At least, from what Rachel tells me, you don't have a shitload of religious guilt dragging you down, like I had."

I laughed, and smiled at his way with words and imagery. I had watched him all evening, observing his mannerisms. Aside from at the Kon Tiki, I had never been around an effeminate guy before. This was the stereotypical image of gay guys and it was intriguing to me. I was wondering if it was inevitable that I would somehow naturally evolve into it over time, though I couldn't imagine that-- not that I was turned off by it or anything like that. I just didn't feel like I could ever be comfortable in that skin. "Yeah, I'm glad I don't have that to deal with. And my parents being so great about it all-- after their initial shock-- gave me a lot of hope, too. So... how was it for you? I mean, what pushed you to the edge?"

He sighed, "Well, like you, a guy broke my heart-- men are such pricks, god love `em-- but unlike you and your note, my parents found out by overhearing me getting dumped, right on our front porch in the middle of the afternoon-- on a Monday, no less," he smacked his lips and shook his head. "I was being pretty dramatic and loud, I must confess, but I was always the dramatic sort. Seriously, darling, how could they not have known something was up, when at ten years old I was staging little plays I wrote in our back yard and dressing in drag to do the women's parts so the boys I roped into doing it had to kiss me? And they did! Especially Denny Gartner. I had such a crush on him. First dick I ever sucked." He fanned his face as we both laughed and I blushed. "I know now that by the time of Connor, I was wanting them to know about me, but didn't have the balls to just tell them. But I was so tired of denying it to everyone except Rachel and Connor, and being picked on in school, `cause everyone there could tell I was queer as a three dollar bill."

His voice lost the humor for a moment, "So, my dad came out the door, called me an abomination and punched me in the nose so hard I flew back over the porch rail; then he threw a chair at me. Connor, the dick who was in the middle of telling me," he lowered his voice an octave to imitate Connor, "he `just don't wanna be queer no more', ran back to his mommy as fast as his too-butch-for-words body would take him," he chortled. "He showed up two years later at the Midnight Scum and has been fucking and sucking his way through the men of Houston ever since!" He shook his head at the memories.

"But back to that day. Dad went back inside, came back out a few minutes later with a bunch of my clothes and crap rolled up in a sheet, threw it at me and told me to get the hell outta there and never disgrace his door again. The whole scene was right out of a bad gay off-off-Broadway play, honey. I don't know where Rachel and I got our talents. Mom and Dad are both lousy performers." He smiled crookedly, found a salt patch on the rim of his glass with his tongue, licked it and nursed his drink.

"Wow, to have both your lover and your parents reject you at the same time..." I shook my head, staring down into my own drink, watching the slush slowly become translucent as it melted in the heat of the night. "Man, that must have been really devastating."

"Yes, it was," he replied solemnly. "I was seventeen and didn't understand anything, except that I was in love with a boy who couldn't love me back, and my parents, my own parents, within the space of a few minutes, went from loving me to hating me with a passion. And I felt like it was all my fault, of course-- like you, like all of us feel at some point-- that I was the one who was wrong about everything, that I didn't deserve love and happiness. But I did think I deserved the emotional and physical pain, especially when my mom and dad both told me I was sick and was gonna burn baby, burn in Hell!" he raised his glass to the sky in a mute salute.

He resumed, "Lemme tell ya, I was a sight, honey, stumbling down the street with my Scooby Dooby Doo bed sheet full of my shit slung over my back, bloody nose pouring, crying hysterically, with dear loving Mom and Dad yelling at me from the front porch, neighbors watching and listening to them condemn me to Hell, thank you very much." He laughed.

I couldn't help but laugh along with him at the picture he painted in my mind, because I saw his parents standing on the porch, fists raised and cursing him, but using Scooby Doo's dog voice. So I raised my fist and said, "Rou rill rurn rin rell!" We both laughed a while, since it was so much easier than thinking about what it all meant, when the people you love, especially the people who brought you into this world, suddenly hate you for something you didn't even understand yourself and certainly didn't choose.

When the laughter died away, he said, "So I went to my sister's apartment while she was at work and took all of her roommate's sleeping pills. Well, my mom called Rachel at work and told her what had happened and told her how evil I was and how she was never to talk to me again or Satan would jump into her body from mine, just like in The Exorcist. Rachel knew I would go to her place, and when I didn't answer the phone after a reasonable amount of time, she knew I'd done something stupid and came home in time to call an ambulance and save my life."

I shook my head and took a drink. "Oh man, that sends chills down my spine. I guess me `n you are in a very exclusive little club: The `Saved By Rachel Club'."

We clinked our glasses together again, watching a minor shower of salt fall from the rims onto our hands and Robert added, "It's not quite as exclusive as you might think, Danny. She's saved more people than just us two." I gave him a curious look. "You'll probably never meet some of the others she's saved. Oh, not all of them from suicide, but she's saved them from themselves, from self-destruction. Ron is one of them. Whenever you get the chance sometime, get him to tell you what insane hell he was living in with the deranged people in his life when he met Rachel. The story will blow you away and I guarantee you'll cry your eyes out. If you knew him then, you'd never believe it was the same person standing behind this wall inside this house right now, laughing and talking and loving Rachel and Carly with every ounce of his being. You listen to his story, then you'll really understand the power of love, my friend. Rachel's an agent of God for the dispossessed."

Chills went down my spine again. "Wow. I wonder if he would tell me about it."

"Oh sure, he doesn't mind telling it at all. I told him he should write a play about it. I would kill for a part like that. `Course," he splayed his fingers, and inspected his nails, "I'd have to butch it up considerably to play Ron, but, you know..." He wagged his finger at me, "Don't look at me like that! I can do butch!" He squared his shoulders and snapped his fingers.

I laughed heartily and tried not to spill my drink. When I settled down, I asked, "What was he going through? What was so...?"

He smiled at me and said, "He can tell you about all that. We came out here to talk about you. But I see that you're very happy now with your extreeeeemely hot and sexy hunk of a man, who I can see loves you so bad it hurts," he laughed wistfully, "Ahhh, young love-- not that I'm old, mind you. I'm only twenty-six, thank you very much."

I laughed, and toyed with saying, `Eeew, that's old!' just to see what he would say. Instead, feeling my buzz, I chose a topic I could talk all day and night about, "Yeah, Jerry's so gorgeous. He loves me. And Bill! You've got you one hell of a sexy man there too, Stella!" -- I'd heard him use that name this way earlier, so I figured it must be a `gay' term of endearment, like `Mary'. I thought I sounded a little more sophisticated by using it.

David sputtered in his drink and laughed, "Oh darling, did you do Tennessee in a school play or something?"

I furrowed my brow and shook my head, searching my memory, "No, but I had a non-speaking part in Oklahoma, in fifth grade."

Robert apparently found this the funniest thing he'd heard in forever. He doubled over laughing and spilled his drink on himself. I laughed because he was laughing and I was buzzed, but I didn't get it.

Eventually, he recovered. "Oh god, my stomach hurts now," he gasped.

"You gonna be ok?"

"Yeah," he shook his head. "Thank you, Danny. Out of the mouths of babes..."

"I don't get it, but I'm glad I made you laugh, I think."

He had recovered enough to speak clearly, "Oh honey, I'm not laughing at you. I really like you, Danny. You're a real sweetheart." He tried to soak the spilled margarita from his jeans with a napkin and compose himself. He reached over and rested his hand on my arm. "Yeah, Rachel wanted me to have this conversation with you, to see where your head's at, to show you an example of a gay relationship that's loving and solid, but I don't think any of us need to worry about you two."

"Well, I'm glad you did talk with me anyway, Robert. I really enjoyed it."

We clinked our glasses together and Robert made a toast, "To all the gay boys and girls! May we at least all `rurn rin rell' together so we can have one big hot eternal orgy! -- boys with boys and girls with girls, of course," he clarified. We laughed and drank our toast. Then we stood up, swaying a little, hugged and went back inside.

I gravitated toward Jerry as he gravitated toward me. When we both noticed Bill had put his arms around Robert from behind as they leaned back on the counter while talking with Ron and Jenna in the kitchen, Jerry casually put his arm around my shoulders. I put my arm around his waist and leaned into his side as we stood talking with Rachel and my dad by the TV. Jerry and Rachel were engaged in a conversation about art in school, while Dad and I were bystanders for the time being.

I saw Dad take this arms-around-each-other thing in, process it and weigh it. He didn't show anything outwardly, but I could read in his eyes that he was trying to decide how he felt about it. Aside from that day Jerry had taken my hand when Dad `interviewed' him in our living room, this was the first time he'd seen us do anything affectionate that brazenly said `couple', `together', `lovers'.

After a bit, Dad's eyes met mine. We looked into each other's eyes for a long moment. He was expressionless and I was beginning to inwardly squirm. I wasn't afraid he'd say or do anything negative right then, but I worried that he was still uncomfortable with us being open about it in front of him and others. I really didn't want to make him uncomfortable, especially at a party that had been so great. And to be honest, I still wasn't sure we had the `right' to express our bond in public-- or more accurately, that I was ready to assert that we had that right. I know, Bill and Robert were doing it, but that was them.

But then, he smiled, winked at me and turned his attention to what Rachel was saying to Jerry.

It was just one of those special moments that I'll never forget. When Dad did that, it just, I dunno, set me free, in a way. I couldn't decide whether it relaxed me with relief, or wound me up with elation, to finally be sure of his acceptance. There were a lot of things he could have said or done since finding out about us, to let me know he was ok with it all, but that one little thing, the wink of an eye-- that had a twinkle in it-- was so pure and simple. No production needed, no speeches, no grand gestures... just a wink, and I knew we finally had his `blessing', so to speak. So what if gay boys rurn rin rell! I had real friends and I had my lover and I had my mom and dad's love and acceptance right here in this life, with this script, playing myself-- and that was good enough for me, and Scooby Doo too.

***** ***** *****

The party ended around one in the morning. No one really seemed to want it to, but I had gotten something from things said here and there through the evening to the effect that, with the little one away at her slumber party, the birthday boy and his artist waif were going to make wild passionate love all night long all through the house. At least that's the impression I got. Ahhh, grown-up's love...

Since it was only the equivalent of a couple of blocks around the bend to our cul-de-sac, we had all walked from our house. When we got home, we all talked about what a wonderful time we'd had. Mom and Dad hoped that they could see Ron and Rachel, and all the others, again, regularly. They only had one other couple they saw socially, and they, to be truthful about it, were extremely boring compared to everyone they had met tonight.

They went on to bed, not used to staying up that late and drinking so much. Jerry and I turned out the front porch light and stood there to say goodnight-- just like a date, I guess, heh heh. We talked in hushed tones.

"You sure you're not too drunk to drive home? You can stay here if you are," I offered hopefully as I kissed around on his neck, licking his Adam's apple.

He sighed, grabbed my ass cheeks, pulled me up into him and kissed me sensually. "Nah, I gotta go home, baby. Like I told ya, I gotta go up to Conroe with my parents tomorrow morning and won't get back til Sunday night. Besides, I wouldn't trust myself to control my urges in there with you-- with your parents right there down the hall. Not good. You know I got no self control with you," he grinned evilly.

It didn't matter that we had had a great lovemaking session just that afternoon. I caressed up and down the denim over his swelling cock with my left hand and whined like a little kid, "But I neeeed it! We could be quiet," I assured him.

He crooked his arm around my neck and laughed, "Yeah, right."

"We could!" I stood on my tiptoes and whispered in his ear, "I need your big dick so bad, Stud. Just let me suck it, just a little, just for a minute. I promise I'll only do it a little. C'mon, baby, I need it! Here, lemme just hold it..."

I unzipped his Levis and stuck my hand into the hot confines. He moaned and squirmed around, "Ooooohhh, don't do that, Danny." He half-heartedly said, "Stop, don't."

I snickered, "You say stop, but you really mean go, don't ya, big guy."

He chuckled, but didn't make a move to stop me. I dug into his underwear and squeezed his thick cock at the base. He squeezed my hand to squeeze his cock harder, "You're starting something you're gonna hafta finish, if you don't stop right now, you bad little boooy."

I teased back, "Oh yeah? You gonna make me finish it, Stud?"

He growled deep and low into my ear, "Yeah, I will... and that's MR. Stud, to you, bad boy."

I giggled and squeezed his rapidly filling shaft. "Why don't we go to your car and you can show me what you make bad boys do, Mr. Stud."

Jerry glanced around, then he grabbed the back of my neck, but instead of taking me to his car he pushed me back into the house. I was startled, and he covered my mouth and made us move stealthily towards the door from the kitchen to the garage. I realized what he was doing and tingled as we stepped in and shut the door silently. He led me over to the washing machine and pushed me down to my knees.

After I drank Jerry's load, I let him out the side door of the garage with a long kiss and snuck into the bathroom to clean up. I crept quietly to my bedroom and slept like a rock.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I was mowing the back yard when Dave showed up at my house at eleven o'clock Saturday morning. I cut off the engine, waved and smiled; then I saw his expression.

"What'sa matter, Dave?"

He lurched around, walking in little half circles, kicking at the fence, visibly upset. He tried to gather his thoughts and finally spoke, "I can't believe how stupid I was!"

"What happened?" I remembered that he'd had his date with Mark in Houston last night while we were at Ron's birthday party and figured that was likely to be the problem. "Something go wrong with Mark last night?"

He raised his voice to almost a yell, "Wrong?! Wrong?! Yeah, a little bit wrong!" He waved his hands around angrily, glancing at the back door and dining room window to make sure my mom wasn't around.

"Oh shit." I walked over to him and put my hand on his shoulder. "Try to calm down and tell me what happened."

"I'll tell you what happened! That fucker..." He stopped, took a deep breath and started again, trying to calm his voice, "We had a date for last night, right?" I nodded. "So I go and show up at his apartment at eight, just like he told me to, right?" I nodded. "Well I get there and knock on the door, right?" I nodded. "Mark answers the door naked, looking around from behind the door at me and I see the backside of some naked dude goin' into the kitchen! Mark goes, `What're you doing here?' and I go, `We had a date!' I felt so fucking stupid! And he goes, `Oh shit! Why didn't you call before you came?' Can you believe that?! He makes it like it's my fucking fault he forgot about our date and has some dude in there he's fucking and I'm surprised he even fucking remembered me! Goddamn, I felt so stupid! So I'm like, `Well I kinda didn't expect you to forget, so I didn't call. I didn't wanna bug you or anything.' And he goes-- and I couldn't believe this shit-- he goes, `Well you shoulda called first.' And I said `Well I didn't.' and walked away an' he's saying some shit about he's sorry. Then I got mad, and I turned around and yelled, `Fuck you, asshole!' and left."

He was near tears, but more angry and humiliated than hurt. His face was red and he was trembling slightly with his rage, pacing a short track I had cut through the grass and back.

"Oh man, what a drag, Dave. That was really shitty of him. I'm sorry."

"The fucker couldn't even..." he turned away as tears did start falling. "Man, I felt so stupid. I can't believe how stupid I was to think he would-- goddammit!"

I put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "I'm sorry, Dave. That was so wrong. What an asshole! I thought he was a nice guy."

He turned back to me, angrily swiping his tears of humiliation away. "So did I. Man... I'm not real good at this shit, am I."

"Whattya mean, not good at this? You didn't do anything wrong! Obviously, Mark isn't ready to `date'. I mean, you told me he just got out of a relationship and wasn't wanting to, like, settle down or just date one person. But that does not excuse him treating you that way at all! I'm just sayin' you told me yourself you didn't think he was looking for the same thing you were."

"Yeah, you're right. I knew-- or I kinda thought all that. I was stupid for tryin' to think he might be interested in something more with me. But I mean, it was just a date! It's not like I was askin' him to marry me or something, shit! God, I felt so stupid and humiliated!"

I grabbed him in a hug and said, "Dave, Dave, listen man, don't make yourself out to be wrong here. Mark was the asshole in this. I don't care if he wasn't wanting anything more or whatever, he had no right to treat anyone like that. He was the one who was stupid, for passing up someone as great as you, got it? Don't beat yourself up about this, man, let it go. He's an asshole, and it's better you found out now, before you put a lot of effort and emotion into him, y'know?"

He nodded and sniffed, hugged me back tightly and said, "Thanks, Danny. Thanks, man. I knew I'd feel better if I talked to you about it."

We moved and sat on patio chairs in the shade to drink some lemonade Mom had made earlier. I gave him my glass and drank from Mom's. Dad was at the shop as usual on Saturdays. After a minute of silent thoughts, I ventured, "Look on the bright side: with Mark out of the picture, you can concentrate on Tyson now."

He did brighten up. He smiled and thought for a moment. "Yeah, no shit, huh. I really like Tyson-- way better than I liked Mark, anyway. I really think me `n Ty `connected' on the phone last week in Galveston."

"It sure sounded like it to me," I encouraged him.

He looked over at me, concern showing on his face, "Tell me for real, Danny: would it bother you if I got with Ty? I mean, I know you've kinda encouraged it, but... would it bother you deep down or anything?"

I shook my head and replied, "No! Really, Dave, I think y'all would make a great couple! And it's like... I don't wanna lose him from my life, y'know? What I'm sayin' is, if y'all got together, he'd still come up here and I'd see him. I hope that don't sound too selfish on my part, `cause really, I wouldn't want this if I didn't think y'all would be good for each other."

He nodded agreement. "Cool. Yeah, I like Ty. He's sooo hot. But when he was tellin' about his brother on the way down there last week... man, he showed so much heart, y'know? For all he's been through, it's like, he still cares about others and has love, and that makes me like him a lot more than just the fact that he's good lookin' and sexy." He snickered and blushed.

"Tyson is a really, really good person, Dave. He does have a big heart. And if I didn't think-- how can I say this right? If... If I didn't think you were a good person with a lot of love too, I wouldn't even think of encouraging y'all to get together. But I know you're a good person. I love you both, and I think you'd be good for each other. Who knows if it'll work out? But it's worth a try. At least I think so."

He smiled really big. "Thanks, Danny, that means a lot to me." He sat up and said, "Well, listen, I gotta get back home. I gotta go over to Ricky's. You've seen him, on the swim team too, haven't you? Ricky Barton? He's been kinda my best friend this year, and I've been kinda neglecting him since we became friends. It's just that... well, he's so fuckin' straight, y'know? I mean, now that I have y'all for friends and can be myself, it's like, I don't wanna hang out with him much. But I feel bad about that. He's a cool dude an' I like him, but... Anyway, man, thanks a lot, Danny." We both stood and hugged. "I woulda... man, the way I do... I woulda drove myself crazy over last night if I hadn't of talked to you. Thank you, man. And I'm gonna call Tyson later, too."

"Cool, yeah, call `im. And hey, I'm glad I could help. So many awesome people have helped me so much lately, it's a good feelin' to be able to help someone else a little. Uh, have you considered coming out to Ricky-- I mean, since he's a good friend?"

He laughed and waved his hand dismissively, "Oh man, Ricky would just lose it! He ain't ready for that, dude, no way. Or, I guess I should say, I ain't ready for that. He would freak."

He left through the side gate and Mom came out within a minute. "Is David ok? He seemed terribly upset when he got here."

I shrugged my shoulders, not wanting to go into his personal problems, "Uhhh, well, bad date."

"Oh," she nodded. She hesitated a moment, then asked cautiously, "With a girl, or a boy?"

I looked at her with a little surprise showing on my face. I realized nothing had been said that would tell one way or the other about Dave and that she was curious. I chuckled and blushed slightly, I don't know why. "Heh heh, well... a boy."

She nodded. "Ahhh. I kinda thought so, but I wasn't sure. He was a friend of Jerry's, right? But Jerry hadn't... dated any boys, so he didn't..." she left off, obviously wanting me to fill her in.

I told her a short version of Dave and Jerry's history and how he approached me and we all became friends, as well as a little about his mom catching him-- but I didn't say it was his mom's boyfriend!-- and how their relationship was strained but not broken all the way. She was satisfied with that. She just wanted to know and understand what the relationships among us were. She liked Dave and said he was always welcome in our house. She went back inside and I went back to mowing.

***** ***** ***** *****

The rest of the weekend was a drag for me, just because Jerry had to go to Conroe with his parents to visit his uncle. Dave came over Saturday night, though, and that helped. We went to a local straight club in Clear Lake City that had a live rock band. It was fun, and the band was good, doing covers of lots of my favorite songs, but without Jerry, it just wasn't as much fun as it could have been.

I was surprised at just how badly I missed even one day being able to talk to him. But at least I had his sweaty jock to sniff and `mouth' while I masturbated... with my legs in the air and the first cucumber I had snuck in a while in my ass, imagining him fucking me, heh heh. After that, I was able to sleep.

On Sunday, Dave told me he had made a date with Tyson for next Friday. He was going to drive down after school and pick him up, then they were going to go to Houston, where Ty promised to take him on a tour of the best variety of gay bars in the Montrose, mentioning six of them. Saturday night, I had shown Dave the This Week In Texas bar guide Robert had brought me, and we counted thirty-two gay bars listed. We both speculated on how many gays and lesbians there must be in Houston to support that many bars.

Contemplating that made us feel less isolated somehow, and even like we were part of a `community'. And of course, there were all kinds of organizations and groups and such too, from discussion groups to help with coming out, to softball, runners, joggers, bowling and other sports, to purely social groups to religious ones.

Jerry called me as soon as they got home Sunday evening. I could tell from what he said that he had missed me as much as I had him. I told him about Dave and Mark, then about Dave and Tyson's date and asked him what he thought about a double date. He liked the idea, so I called Dave and asked him. He called Tyson, but he wasn't there. Monday after school, he called again and Ty agreed to a double date.

The school week was like the last one, busy, but uneventful. My folks just loved Jerry more every day-- and so did I, naturally. And Dave hung out with us more in the evenings too. My house was the obvious meeting place for our little gay club, and after hearing Jerry say it a few times, Dave took to calling my mom `Mom' also. She loved that, and spoiled them both rotten with brownies and cookies and stuff. She commented that she and Dad enjoyed having the house full of teenagers most evenings. It seemed they were quite happy with the turn all our lives had taken. Jerry and I were more relaxed with little displays of affection, though we didn't kiss in front of them, but hands on each other, hugs and things like that became commonplace.

Now... for all my openness with my parents, and all the growing up I had done recently, I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I lied to them and told them I was going to spend the night at Dave's Friday night. I was just certain that they would have said no to going into Houston to go bar hopping and then driving back, no matter who drove.

I mean, the Montrose is in the heart of Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, so I knew my folks would be worried about me getting mugged and stuff. But mainly, the roughly 30 mile stretch of I-45 and I-59 freeway between Friendswood and the Montrose was one of the busiest sections of freeway in the country. We were talking about bar-hopping, which means plenty of drinking (I don't remember ever hearing of the term `designated driver' back then, so that didn't occur to us). All these things are the reasons I felt compelled to lie.

Jerry was very much against me pulling this on my folks, and it took a lot of begging and persuading from me and Dave to get him to go along with it, but he finally gave in to the little conspiracy. Dave told his mom he was going to stay at my house, and Jerry told his folks he was staying at Dave's house. His folks never questioned things like that, and neither did Dave's mom.

So Friday after school, Dave drove down and picked Ty up and Jerry followed me to Dave's apartment complex to leave my car there for the night. We all met up around 7pm at Baybrook Mall. Tyson seemed real uneasy and distracted at first, and I watched him closely to see how he was handling being around me and Jerry again. He rode into Houston with Dave in his Pinto, while Jerry drove me in his Camaro.

What we had decided to do was get two hotel rooms in Houston to crash in after we made the round of bars that Tyson verbally mapped out for us. The hotel would cut out the long drive back to Friendswood after partying. Jerry and I would pay Dave and Tyson's way for the night. Dave had a little money, but not much, and of course, Tyson had none.

***** ***** *****

We got our rooms at a decent motel, nothing fancy, on Richmond, close to Kirby Drive, between the Montrose and the Galleria. Jerry and I changed clothes, while Dave and Ty went to buy some supplies, like a bottle of whiskey and mixer, for when we got back later. We would leave Dave's Pinto there and all go in Jerry's Camaro to the clubs.

Jerry had bought me a really sexy shiny green pullover from The Go Round at the mall on Tuesday and I thought I was hot shit in it-- I was no longer ashamed of my scrawny body, because Jerry loved it. He wore the tight creamy white pullover I bought him that set off his awesome tan and brown eyes, and of course, he was stunning in it.

Before we left the hotel, Jerry surprised me with a little black velvet box. I tingled as I opened it to find a thin, woven platinum chain necklace and little starburst-shaped medallion with a naked long haired boy riding a leaping Pegasus on the front, and "My Starchild Forever" and below it, "JLL" engraved on the back.

Ok, ok, of course I teared up! What the hell do you expect?! -- but I didn't cry! It was just so beautiful, and as I kissed him, I vowed to myself to find-- or have made-- the perfect "Starwarrior" medallion for him as soon as we got back. What I really loved was the way his eyes sparkled whenever he watched my reaction to things he did that made me happy.

Well the bar scene was a real eye opener, to say the least! I was duly impressed with the amazing range of styles between the bars Tyson took us to. I understood what he had meant when he said there was at least one bar for every type of taste in Houston.

Tyson gave us a crash course in S&M, bondage and stuff like that to our wide eyes and open mouths on the way to Mary's. We all giggled nervously at the bathtub in Mary's restroom that Ty had mentioned to me before. Fortunately, there was no one in it at the time, `cause I don't know how well I would have handled seeing a guy all soaked in urine and asking us to spray him with more. I liked to think `live and let live', whatever floats your boat... but I guess I just wasn't ready to see that live and in person. As we walked out of Mary's, Jerry whispered something in my ear about tying me up sometime, though, which set my imagination off on all kinds of little scenarios that surprised me.

We went from there to Baja Sam's and the contrast was dizzying. We sat there in the elegant piano bar having appetizers and one round of drinks, talking and laughing about Mary's. Tyson had relaxed by then and was really getting into being our tour guide and Dave was snuggling into him when he could and giving him sexy eyes every time I turned around. Tyson told us some hilarious tales from his days on the streets of Houston.

So by the time we got to the last stop, Numbers, where all its men's room walls were a floor to ceiling plexiglass covered collage of small pictures of naked men, Tyson had his arm around Dave's neck and Dave had his around Tyson's waist, side by side as we waited a good twenty minutes in line to get in. Even when the occasional car or truck would drive by on Westheimer Road yelling "Cocksuckers!", none of us separated and everyone in line would yell "You got that right!" and all kinds of things back at them and flip them the bird-- and that was a momentous feeling for me, the defiance, standing our ground proudly as gay guys.

We left Numbers about a quarter after one, talking about stopping at Tyson's recommendation, The House Of Pies, for a late night breakfast. He said it was both great food and very, very cruisy, packed with nothing but hot gay men late at night.

We had parked about three blocks west of Numbers on the street behind. We had parked facing the wrong way because the two cars in front of us and one behind us were, so we had assumed it was ok to do that here even though it was not a one way street. Tyson climbed in the backseat from Jerry's side, along the curb, and Dave had just climbed in the backseat on my side.

I remember hearing the gunning of an engine approaching from behind and automatically pulling my door into me a little, as I was still standing, settling the seat back from letting Dave in. I didn't snap that the vehicle was driving on the wrong side of the street when I drunkenly turned to see what was going on, just as the pickup truck headlights swerved within inches of the passenger side door. I just saw this blur of something shiny come at me along with a voice yelling, "HEY FAGGOT!", and the lights went out.

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