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The following contains descriptions of graphic sexual acts between consenting underage boys. It is a work of fiction and has no basis in reality.

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1) You're not 18 or over.
2) If it is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
3) If you don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or having sex.

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What We Are - Richie’s Story
By: R. Ryan

Chapter 12: Friday Night

After Lindy left, Richie sat back down at the table to finish his Pepsi. He began to think about what he would do with himself for the rest of the day since the dance had been canceled and Lindy wouldn’t need any help choosing clothes for tonight. Then he remembered Kyle and Lindy discussing Kyle’s party. Even though he hadn’t heard the entire conversation, he remembered that Kyle’s party was still on, and that Lindy didn’t know if the girls would feel like going. He found it interesting how the lives of so many people could be affected in the wake of a tragedy like this. Well, even if the girls didn’t want to go, he still wanted to, and he hoped that Lindy would feel the same way. When he finished his Pepsi, he decided he would use the rest of the afternoon to continue his research.

As he logged on to the computer, he wondered how he would feel if he were outed by rumors like Phil Peterson was, and Sean Mullins may have been. He had no way of knowing how he would react, but he was sure that he wouldn’t kill himself. Then he thought of what Lindy had said about talking to a counselor. On the surface it sounded like a good idea, but he wondered if the counselor, because of his training, would somehow figure out that he was gay. It was his concern over this more than anything else that made hesitant.

He spent the rest of the afternoon going through most of the bookmarks he’d compiled when he began this project. He learned a few things that day, including some information that supported what Lindy had told him about homosexuality being genetic. But he also found that the studies in this area were relatively new, and for the most part, incomplete. This caused them to be denounced by many in the scientific community as untrue, or at the very least, unsubstantiated. He also found data from many different studies that put the size of the gay population at anywhere from 10 percent, to as high as 25 percent. Here he agreed completely with Lindy - that the actual figure had to be much higher, certainly higher than any survey would indicate. He added a few more links to his list for future reference. Among these was one for the Nifty Archives, a web site that was described as having a large collection of gay erotic stories.

Finally, he decided to check out some of the links that he was sure were gay porn sites. Just as he was about to click on the first one, however, he heard the familiar sound of the back door opening. Noticing it was quarter past five, he was sure the noise he heard was Carl getting home from the work. Surprised at how fast the time had passed, he quickly cleaned up the documents folder before logging off and shutting down the computer. Once everything was shut down, he quietly slipped back into his room to wait for supper.

The bulk of the dinner table conversation that evening centered around the unfortunate suicide. When questioned, Richie told his family that he didn’t know who Sean was, but left out any mention of the rumor about him. Instead, he went on to tell them that the dance had been canceled, and that school had been let out early. Finally, he told them about the letters being sent out by the school. He made no mention of his possible interest in getting counseling, though, nor did he say anything about his actions following the assembly.

Since he repeatedly assured them that he was fine with everything, Carl and Richie’s dad were confident that the tragedy wasn’t affecting Richie enough to raise undo concern. His mother, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so sure. Rather than voice her concerns now, she decided to keep a close eye on her son over the next few days, watching for any changes in his actions or personality.

When Richie had the kitchen cleaned up, and the dishes in the dishwasher, he grabbed the cordless phone off the wall and headed for his room. His first instinct was to call Lindy to find out about Kyle’s party, but before dialing the number, he changed his mind. Rather than make Lindy think his call was a panic call, he decided to wait for Lindy to call him as they had planned. Staring at the phone in his hand, he felt the overwhelming need to talk to someone, and he began to nervously pace around his room. Finally, he decided to call Kevin. After all, he hadn’t even seen Kevin since last Saturday, and he was curious how he and Stephanie were handling all these recent developments.

Pulling the map out of his wallet, he punched in Kevin’s number. When there was no answer after 7 or 8 rings, he decided that his mother was probably out of town, and that Kevin was most likely with Stephanie. Punching the off button on the phone, he continued to pace about his room. Before long he began to feel closed in. His room suddenly felt unbearably hot, causing sweat to form on his forehead. Not able to stand it any longer, he decided to go for a walk to cool off.

Returning to the kitchen, he hung up the phone on his way to the back door to put on his jacket. Then, remembering how the wind had picked up earlier, he decided to bundle up a little. Leaving his jacket for the moment, he took his Radison High sweatshirt from its hook and pulled it over his head. Next he slipped his feet into his Sorel’s, pulled his stocking cap on till it covered his ears, then completed the package by putting on his jacket and his Hotfingers gloves. Figuring he was ready for anything Mother Nature had to offer that night, he began to open the door when he heard his mother’s voice from behind him.

“Richie? Where’re you going, honey?”

Turning to face his mom he said, “I thought I’d go down to Lindy’s and hang with him for a while since nothing else is going on tonight.”

Although he was sure he sounded convincing, he detected a hint of concern in his mother’s eyes. He didn’t like to lie to his mom, but if he told her that he was going for a walk, which he never did unless he was upset, he was afraid she would become unnecessarily worried about him.

“I won’t be too late,” he said, hoping to reassure her.

“OK,” said his mom. “I’m glad to see that you dressed warm, too. The temperature is only 8 degrees and dropping, and God knows what the wind chill is out there.”

“I’ll be fine, Mom. See ya later,” he said with a smile.

With that, he slipped out the door, pulling it shut tight behind him. Standing on the steps, he hoped his mother believed his story, and wouldn’t call Lindy’s looking for him.

As he stepped onto the driveway, his last thought prompted him to return to the door and stick is head in, catching his mother just before she left the kitchen.

“Changed my mind, Mom. I’m going over to Kevin’s, instead. Bye.”

Then he quickly closed the door before she could question him any further. He felt better now because he was, in fact, going to head over toward Kevin’s house, so he didn’t really lie to his mom. Even if Kevin wasn’t home, it was the walk itself he wanted, the destination didn’t really matter. Besides, if he hadn’t changed his story, and Lindy called him, everybody would start to panic.

Pulling his collar tightly around his neck against the cold wind, he headed out to the street, then turned left toward the park. This time as he passed the Peterson house, he didn’t look at it, nor did he even think about Phil, he was thinking about Sean Mullins instead. As he walked through the park, grateful for the chill of the night air on his face, he thought about all of the craziness that had entered his life in the past week. He thought about his friends, about his sexuality, and about Andrea.

When he stopped briefly at the top of the hill overlooking the Hockey Rink, he thought he detected a slight movement on the unlit ice below.

‘Could it be?’ wondered Richie, a smile beginning to cross his face as he tried to focus his eyes on the moving figure.

CRACK came the now familiar sound of stick against puck. THUNK, came the second sound, the sound of puck against end boards directly below him.

‘Yes!’ thought Richie, as he watched the lone, ghostlike figure, glide swiftly below him to send the puck back out to center ice. ‘Who else would be crazy enough to be shooting pucks in the dark by himself in this weather.’ There was no doubt about it, it was Kevin.

For the next few minutes, Richie stood at the top of the hill, a broad grin on his face as he watched Kevin skate from sideboard to sideboard, then up and down the length of the ice. At times he would go all out, pumping his legs as hard as they would go, then slow his pace to a leisurely, more relaxed one. No matter what his pace, he was graceful and smooth, always in control, each movement executed with purpose and precision. Only when Kevin snapped the puck into the empty net, then stopped to lean on the goal-post to catch his breath, did Richie speak from his perch at the top of the hill.

“Any punk can put the puck into an empty net.”

Startled by the familiar voice, Kevin lost his balance, almost falling as he snapped his head in Richie’s direction.

“Rich? What the hell you doin down here, man?”

Laughing at Kevin’s near fall, Richie began to make his way down the hill toward the ice.

“Oh, just watching some clown hockey player who doesn’t have enough sense to come in from the cold.”

“How long you been standing there?” asked Kevin as he skated over to meet him.

“Not long,” he said as he reached the top of the drift piled up against the boards. Then, sitting down on the piled snow, he dangled his legs over the boards. “Needed to get out of the house for a while, so I sorta wandered down this way.”

Standing in front of Richie while he leaned on his stick for support, Kevin said, “Well I’m glad ya did, man, I haven’t seen ya all week and I’ve been wondering how you were doin.”

“Oh, I’m fine. The bruises are all healed, and everything seems to be working all right, if ya know what I mean.”

“Well I’m glad to hear that,” laughed Kevin. Then, pulling his right hand from his glove, he offered it to Richie. “C’mon, let’s go over to the benches where it’s more comfortable and you won’t freeze your ass off on the snow bank.”

Pulling off his own glove, he grasped Kevin’s hand to steady himself as he stood. When he did this, he couldn’t help but notice how wet with sweat his friend’s hand was. A little concerned that Kevin might have been overexerting himself in this subzero weather, he looked into his face as they turned to move toward the benches. His concern grew when he saw the huge amount of sweat that plastered his hair to his forehead, and glistened from his upper lip. Stopping in mid-stride, he turned Kevin toward the light for a better look. Truly worried now, he gently wiped his hand over Kevin’s forehead, then held it up for him to see.

“How long you been out here, bro?”

“I don’t know, an hour, maybe more,” he answered, shrugging his shoulders and wiping his forearm across his face.

“Yeah? I’d be guessing more, way more,” said Richie.

Then, pressing his hand against the front of Kevin’s jersey, he could feel the soaking-wet material of his sweatshirt underneath.

“Well, practice is over Hatcher. You‘re benched.”

As they made their way to the benches, Richie began to admonish him. “What the fuck is the matter with you, man? You know it’s too fucking cold for that kind of a workout. I’d be surprised if you didn’t already have pneumonia or somethin.”

“Gees, coach, I’m sorry,” said Kevin, trying to sound like a dumb jock. “I must a lost track of time or somethin. Us hockey players ain’t too bright, ya know.”

“True that, but even a dumb hockey player should know better’n to pull this kinda shit.”

Neither boy could contain himself after Richie’s last remark, and both started to laugh out loud. When finally they were seated where Kevin had left his bag, Richie became serious again.

“Now pick up your shit so we can get you home where it’s warm. God! I can’t believe you, man! What the hell’s with you, anyway? Is this some kind of new skate till you drop program, or what?”

“Hey, lighten up a little would ya, Rich? I got a lot on my mind. I just forgot to watch the time, is all.”

“Yeah? Well enough people have died around here, already. I just don’t wanna see your name added to the list.”

This comment made Kevin stop unlacing his skate and look over to Richie. “You’re talking about that kid, aren’t ya. That Sean Mullins kid, right?”

“Yeah,” said Richie as he shuffled his feet on the ice, “I can’t seem to get him out of my mind.”

Lifting his other skate up to his knee to loosen it, Kevin said, “I know what ya mean, man, I keep thinking about it, too.”

“Really? Did you know him?”

“Nope. Don’t even know what he looked like.”

With both skates now loosened, Kevin scooted his butt down the bench away from Richie, then swung his feet up onto Richie’s lap.

“Here, pull these off for me, would ya?”

“Sure,” said Richie.

Grasping one of the blades in his right hand while he held onto Kevin’s calf with his left, Richie pulled the skate off with one quick jerk. When he felt the sweat-soaked sock that was revealed, he frowned at Kevin again as he repeated the procedure with the other skate. While Kevin stuffed his feet into his shoes, Richie wiped off his skates before tossing them into his bag. When he had all his gear packed, Kevin stood to pull on his warm-up jacket while he made a final check of the area for any forgotten equipment.

Satisfied, he said, “I guess I’m ready. Let’s go.”

As they moved off towards Kevin’s house, Richie reached up to Kevin’s shoulder, and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“I’m sorry, man. For raggin on you back there, I mean. I don’t know why I did that.”

“Nah, don’t worry about it, Rich,” answered Kevin as he reached up to squeeze the hand that remained on his shoulder. “You were right. I shouldn’t have been hitting it quite so hard when it’s this cold, so I guess I deserved to get yelled at.”

“Thanks, but I been actin that way all day. Blowing everything way out of proportion, ya know?” said Richie as he dropped his hand back to his side.

“So I heard,” came his answer through chattering teeth as a sudden chill coursed through Kevin’s body.

“I take it you’ve talked to Kyle since school, then.”

“Yeah, he called me this afternoon.”

Neither boy spoke again until they reached Kevin’s garage door. While they waited for it to open, Kevin smiled at Richie. “He said he’d hate to have to take you on by himself when you were that pissed. Said you were one strong guppy.”

“You’re tryin to cheer me up now, aren’t ya.”

“Yup,” said Kevin with a grin, “C’mon in.”

As they skirted Kevin’s mom’s car on their way into the house, Richie continued the conversation.

“So, how are you dealing with it, Kevin? I seem to be the only one at school running around like a crazy person. Is that what it is with me... am I crazy?”

“No, you’re not crazy, Rich,” said Kevin as he closed the door before following Richie into the laundry room, “I’m no shrink, so I can’t tell you what’s going on, but I’m certain that it’s just a reaction to a terrible thing. Like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or something.”

“You playing genius kid doctor again, or do you just watch a lot of ER?” chuckled Richie as he stuffed his hat and gloves into his pockets.

“No,” laughed Kevin, “I’m just trying to tell you how much I don’t know about what’s going on with you. What I am pretty sure of, is that it’s a temporary thing brought on by a terrible thing happening.”

With his warm-up jacket hanging up now, Kevin peeled off his jersey and dropped it on the washer. Looking down at his sweatshirt, then over to Richie, he reached out to him.

“You want to see crazy? Give me your hand.”

Somewhat confused at the request, Richie complied, letting Kevin pull his hand to his chest. Laying it flat on the sopping wet material of his sweatshirt, he began to move it around in a circle.

“Feel that?” he asked. It oozed sweat it was so wet. “Now check out the back,” he said as he turned around.

Again Richie did as he was told. It too was dripping wet with sweat.

Turning around again Kevin said, “That’s crazy, Rich. You were absolutely right about what you said out there on the ice. I had no business working so hard for so long in that kind of cold. It was stupid and dangerous, and before you showed up, I had no thoughts of stopping, either. So if anybody’s crazy around here, it’s me, not you.”

As he turned to the laundry tubs to wring out his jersey, his whole body began to shiver. Noticing this, and remembering how cold Kevin’s hand felt just now, Richie moved behind him and began to massage his shoulders.

“Forget the jersey, Kevin. Let me help you out of this sweatshirt so you can get into a hot shower. You‘re freezing, man.”

“Oh, you are so right about that, Rich,” said Kevin through chattering teeth while he hunched over the tubs. “I can’t remember when I’ve felt this cold.”

Dropping the jersey into the tub, Kevin stood up again and raised his arms as he turned to face Richie. Grabbing the hem of the sweatshirt, Richie quickly pulled it over his head, turning it inside out as he continued to peel it from his arms. While Richie dropped the soaking garment into the tub next to the jersey, Kevin kicked off his Nikes. With his body shivering almost uncontrollably now, Kevin almost lost his balance when he bent over to pull off his socks.

“Whoa, dude, just lean against the tubs and let me get the socks,” said Richie as he steadied Kevin by coaxing him against the tubs.

While Kevin lifted each shaking leg in turn, Richie yanked off his sweat soaked socks and tossed them on top of the sweatshirt. When he turned back to Kevin and saw him trying to unbutton his jeans with his shaking hands, he pushed them away, then popped the button open himself.

“Man, your pants are almost as wet as everything else,” said Richie as he pulled down the zipper. “Now stand up and put your hands on my shoulders.”

As Kevin complied, Richie grasped the waistband of his Levi’s on either side and began to pull them down. Since the briefs he wore underneath were soaked even more than his tight fitting jeans, causing the two garments cling together, Richie decided he might as well pull them both down rather than waste time trying to separate them. What he wasn’t prepared for was the unexpected thrill he felt when Kevin’s dick brushed his face as he squatted down to pull his pants past his calves.

Slightly embarrassed at the chance encounter, Richie stood and slapped Kevin on his bare ass saying, “Now hit the showers, Hockey Player. I’ll be up as soon as I straighten up this mess.”

Without a word, Kevin bounded, naked, from the room and up the stairs. When he was gone, Richie adjusted his stiffening dick and smiled as he hung up his jacket. Returning to the laundry tubs, he wrung as much of the sweat out of Kevin’s clothes as he could before draping them over the edge to dry.

Moments later, when Richie reached the top of the stairs, he heard the sound of the shower. Making his way toward the bathroom, he stopped at the open door.

“How ya doin in there, bro?”

“Almost normal again, Rich. This shower feels sooo good.”

“Good,” said Richie, “I’ll get you some dry clothes to put on.”

“Thanks, I think there’s some clean sweats in my closet.”

Before heading down to Kevin’s room, he stepped up to the thermostat on the wall next to the bathroom and bumped it up a notch, figuring his friend would welcome the added warmth.

When he was satisfied with the new setting, he went directly to Kevin’s closet in search some dry clothes. Before long, he found a pair of sweat pants and a Radison sweatshirt that looked very much like his own. Wondering if he should try to find some dry underwear for him as well, he heard Kevin turn off the shower and decided not to take the time. If he wanted some, he could always get them himself later. When he got back to the bathroom door, Kevin was standing in front of the mirror above the sink, drying his face and neck.

‘God what a beautiful sight,’ thought Richie as he looked at Kevin’s naked body. From where he stood, he had a full view of Kevin’s back, while at the same time, he had a full frontal view reflected in the mirror. When his dick began to stir, he reached out to drop the sweats on the vanity.

“Here ya go, dude. I’ll be in your room when you‘re ready.”

While Richie sat on Kevin’s bed to wait, he pulled off his sweatshirt in response to the rising room temperature caused by the higher thermostat setting. Moments later, Kevin sat down next to him, fully clothed in his sweats and toweling off his hair. When he was done, his body shook slightly as he dropped the towel in his lap.

“Thanks, man, for showing up when you did. I was out there way too long, and if you hadn’t showed up, I don’t know what might have happened.”

“Nah, forget it, dude.”

Then, when Kevin shivered again, Richie grabbed the comforter off the bed and draped it over his shoulders.

“Here, put this around you and keep it there until ya stop shakin.”

“OK, but let’s go into the living room where it’s more comfortable and I’ll make us some hot chocolate or somethin,” said Kevin as he pulled the comforter tightly to his body.

“OK,” said Richie, “on one condition. You sit your ass down and keep warm while I make the hot chocolate. Deal?”


Keeping his part of the bargain, Kevin made himself comfortable on the couch while Richie went into the kitchen. Following Kevin’s directions, he quickly found everything he needed to make two cups of piping hot cocoa. Just as he was about to bring them into the living room, Kevin stopped him by suggesting that he add a splash of Kahlua.

“Isn’t that alcohol?” asked Richie.

Smiling from the couch at how naïve his question sounded, Kevin said, “Yeah, I think it is, Rich.”

“Isn’t alcohol a depressant, and not to be given to victims of exposure to the cold?”

“For a guppy, you’re pretty knowledgeable about cold weather stuff, aren’t ya?” chuckled Kevin.

“Well, if what I just said makes me knowledgeable, then I guess I am, cause that’s all I know. Well, that and when to come in from the cold.”

Smiling more now, Kevin said, “Yes, alcohol is a depressant, but it’s not as if we’re getting drunk or anything. Besides, I think I’m well out of danger, so just put it in will ya?”

It was Richie’s turn to smile this time as he found the bottle and splashed a little into each cup.

“I take it your mom’s out of town since her car is in the garage and she’s no where around. Won’t she notice the Kahlua missing?”

“I’m sure she will, and when the bottle gets too low, she’ll buy a new one. But to answer your real question, she knows I drink a little of it once in a while. But to her, it’s like having a glass of wine at dinner or something. She knows I don’t drink very much and she trusts me to make the right decisions. Now can I have my cocoa please?”

After setting the two cups on the coffee table, Richie sat on the couch next to Kevin and began to massage his thigh through the comforter.

“Are you sure you’re warm enough now? Cause if you’re not, I’ll find another blanket for you.”

“I’m just fine, Rich... and if you promise to stop asking me all the time, I promise to tell you if I need anything. Deal?”

“Deal,” said Richie as he picked up his cup and moved to the recliner.

Taking a sip of his cocoa as he eased himself back into the chair, Richie nodded his approval. After a second sip, he set his cup down, then looked over to Kevin who was watching him intently.

“What?” he asked.

“I was just watching for your reaction to the cocoa. How’s it taste?”

“It’s good. And to answer your real question, no, I’ve never had any alcohol before.”

Kevin almost blew cocoa out of his nose as he tried to stifle his laugh. Just as he was going to speak again, Richie beat him to it.

“Kevin? What happened to you tonight? I mean you seemed fine on the ice, which really surprised me considering how long you were out there, and how soaked in sweat you were.”

“I don’t know for sure, but I think it was probably a mild case of Hypothermia. Problem with that is, if it was hypothermia, why didn’t I feel cold when I was on the ice. I know I would have quit then.”

“Adrenaline?” asked Richie.

“A what?”

“Adrenaline. Maybe you were pumping so much adrenaline through your body, it masked the cold somehow.”

“Are you guessing, Rich, or do you have some understanding about adrenaline, and how it can affect the human body?”

“I’m just guessing, but I do think it does weird things to the body. Look what it did to me at school today. I felt it again when Lindy and I were talking after Kyle dropped us off, ... and again when I was in my room tonight. That’s why I had to get out for a walk. I even felt it some when I was ragging on you about being out so long. I think it makes you feel like overcharged or somethin.”

After Richie gathered his thoughts for a minute, he spoke again.

“How did you feel when you went out tonight?”

“Like I had to skate and skate, and do it as hard and as fast as I could.”

“Kinda like you had a bunch of energy built up, right... and had to get rid of it?”

“Sort of... I guess. So what are you getting at?”

“I’m not sure, but when we were outside, and you were getting your skates off, I told you how I couldn’t get that Sean Mullins kid out of my mind, remember?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, you said you kept thinking about him, too.”

“Yeah, I have. But I don’t get the connection.”

“Maybe there isn’t any. Maybe I’m totally wrong about this, but maybe there’s a big connection.” After a short pause, Richie continued, “Lindy thinks that when the letters from school come out on Monday, I should call the number and talk to a counselor. He thinks this suicide thing has got me all fucked up. Maybe he’s right, maybe I should see a counselor, and maybe you should, too.”

“What, go to a shrink?”

“Yeah, I mean you should have seen me Kevin. Lindy said I scared the shit out of him, and look what happened to you.”

Another short silence.

“What he said about counseling made a lot of sense, too. He said that these guys are trained for this kinda shit, that they may have the answers to all our questions. He also said he’d go with me, so maybe we could get a group rate. What d’ya think?”

“Nah, I don’t know, Rich, a Shrink? I gotta think about that one a while.”

“That’s what I told Lindy. But ya know what? I’m beginning think maybe we should go.”

The boys sat in silence for a few minutes, sipping on their cooling cocoa. After Kevin finished his, he held out is cup.

“How about a refill.”

Draining the last of his, Richie stood up, took Kevin’s cup from his hand and sauntered into the kitchen to make some more. This time he didn’t even hesitate to add the Kahlua. When he returned, Kevin was obviously in deep thought. Setting Kevin’s cup down, Richie returned to his chair without saying a word. Finally, Kevin spoke up.

“Anyway, I’m glad you came by when you did. There’s no telling how long I would’ve stayed out there if you hadn’t stopped me.”

“Well, I feel a little guilty that I stood at the top of the hill and watched you skate for five minutes. Who knows, maybe you would’ve been fine if I’d come down the hill as soon as I got there.”

“Nah, don’t worry about that, Rich. I’d been there so long by the time you got there, I doubt that another five minutes would have made any difference.”

“Yeah, I spose you’re right.”

“Five minutes, huh? You actually stood there for five minutes, just watching me?”

“Well, yeah. What can I say, man, I like to watch you skate. Maybe it sounds weird to you, but to me, when you skate, it’s like watching a well balanced precision machine. Never missing a beat, or a turn, or anything. Is that like, too weird?”

Kevin just shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

“Man, talk about role reversal,” said Kevin, almost to himself as he slowly shook his head.

As if the two boys had the same thought at the same time, Richie’s head popped up as he looked over at Kevin.

“You talkin about what happened tonight, and what happened a week ago?”

“Yeah, were you thinking about that, too?”

“Yup, and it’s all so weird it hurts my brain to think about it. I mean, like what’re the odds, ya know?” said Richie, the Kahlua just beginning to have a slight effect on him.

While Kevin laughed, Richie sucked down the last of his cocoa, then looked up at the clock.

Noticing it was almost ten thirty, he said, “I probably oughta get goin, bro, before the rents put out an APB on me.”

“Why don’t you crash here tonight? This couch is like real good for sleeping on, and who knows, I might have a relapse or something.”

Seeing that Richie was right on the edge of accepting his invitation, he quickly added, “C’mon, call your folks, tell them you’re staying, then make us another cocoa.”

“OK, I will. I really wasn’t looking forward to going back out in the cold tonight, anyway.”

Just then the phone rang, startling both boys. When Kevin began to get up to answer it, Richie jumped from his chair.

“Chill, bro, I’ll get it.”

With that, he snatched up his empty cup on his way to the kitchen and the cordless phone he’d noticed on the wall earlier. Without answering it, he brought it back for Kevin, took his empty cup, then headed back for more cocoa.

“Hello,” said Kevin, “Oh yeah, Lindy, what up? Yeah, as a matter of fact he’s right here. Oh yeah, he’s fine, wanna talk to him? Sure, hang on. Yo, Rich, it’s Lindy.”

Smiling as he returned to Kevin with his fresh cocoa, he set the cup down and took the phone.

“Hey, bro, what up?”

“You tell me, Rich,” said Lindy. “How ya doin?”

“Who me? I’m fine. We’re just hangin out and shootin the shit. Matter of fact, I’m gonna crash here tonight rather than walk home in the cold. Why?”

“Well, I called your house and your mom said you went to Kevin’s. After what happened today at school, I just wanted to make sure you actually got there. I hope you’re not too pissed at me for to checkin up on you.”

“No, man, not at all.” Then, looking over to Kevin, remembering what they had just been through, he said, “Actually, after what happened at school today, it’s kinda nice to know my best bud’s lookin out for me. Did you talk to Nancy yet?”

“Yeah, I did. They still haven’t decided if they want to go tomorrow, but I got a feeling that they won’t. She said she’d call me in the morning and let me know for sure.”

“If they decide not to go, you wanna go anyway?”

“Yeah, I do, Rich. Like Kyle said, it might be what we all need right now. How bout you?”

“Oh yeah, I’m lookin forward to it. We’ll need to find a ride, but that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Cool. Well, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. See ya.”

“See ya, Lindy.”

With that, Richie pushed the flash button. When he heard the dial tone, he punched in his own number. After two rings, his mother answered.

“Mom? It’s me, Richie.”

His use of the name Richie to his mother caused Kevin to giggle from the couch.

“I’m still at Kevin’s. He asked me to stay over, is that OK?” A short pause while his mother spoke, “Good. I should be home sometime before noon. Night.”

Finished with his call, he smiled at Kevin as he punched the off button.

“All set,” he said.

“That’s nice, Richie,” said Kevin in a motherly voice.

“You better watch your mouth over there, Hockey Player. In your weakened condition, I just might be able to kick your ass pretty easy right now.”