Legal Notice:

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

Do not read this story if:

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.

The author retains copyright to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.

E-mail responses to this story may be sent to me at

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

Chapter 15: Gull Lake

Richie had no idea what time it was when he woke up in Kyle’s guest room. All he knew was that his head ached, and he had to take a piss. After rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he pulled on his pants, then slipped into the bathroom to relieve himself. When he was finished, he glanced at the clock behind the bar, noticing that it was almost 9:00 am. That question answered, he quietly opened Lindy’s door to find him sound asleep on his back, his morning hard-on tenting his boxers. Smiling, he closed the door again, then made his way upstairs, shirtless and barefoot, to see if Kyle was up.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he smelled the aroma of bacon and eggs coming from the kitchen, so he headed in that direction. As he entered, he saw Kyle, clad only in gray sweatpants, his hair still wet from his shower, obviously preparing breakfast. Kyle turned with a start as he heard Richie approach.

“Hey, Rich, how ya feeling this morning?”

“Other than this headache, not too bad. How bout you?”

“Me? I feel great... not even a headache. Course I didn’t drink as much as you did, either.”

After pouring Richie a glass of orange juice, he tossed him a small bottle of aspirin. “Here, try a couple of these.”

Turning back to his breakfast preparations, he asked, “Is Lindy up yet? Ya think he’ll feel like eating anything this morning?”

“Nah, he’s still down for the count. As far as eating, I don’t know. This’ll be his first hangover, and I’m betting it’ll be a good one, too.”

Quickly, and thankfully, popping two aspirins in his mouth, he gulped down his orange juice. “I’ll take him some aspirin and a glass of OJ and see if he’s ready to meet the world yet. Be back in a sec.”

After refilling the glass with juice, Richie headed back down to the sleeping Lindy. He was still lying on his back, his morning hard-on still standing tall, as Richie gently shook his shoulder.

“Hey, bro, wake up.” Lindy just grunted and remained motionless. Shaking him harder while speaking louder this time, Richie said, “Yo, Lindy, wake up man, time for breakfast.”

This seem to penetrate Lindy’s fogged over brain as he groaned and rolled onto his stomach.

“Oh, God, my head. Is that you, Rich?”

“Yeah, man. You gonna get up and eat with us, or ya gonna sleep all day?”

“I’m not too hungry right now. Besides, my head hurts, and my stomach is doing flip flops. You guys go ahead and let me sleep a while, OK?”

“Sure, no prob, man, but take these aspirin with some OJ. It’ll help your head.”

“OK, thanks,” he said as he sat up in the middle of the bed to wash the pills down with the juice.

Flopping back down on the bed, he mumbled, “Come get me when you’re done eating, OK?”

“Will do,” said Richie as he left his friend for his own room to finish dressing.

When he got back to the kitchen, Kyle already had the table set with two plates piled high with scrambled eggs. Both boys were famished, and wasted no time digging in.

“So, how’s the boy wonder?” asked Kyle.

“Well, he can fog a mirror with his breath, but that’s about all. Too bad, too, cause he’s missing a great breakfast.”

“Thanks, but it’s just scrambled eggs, which is about the only thing I know how to make.” A moment later, Kyle spoke again. “So, what did ya think of the party? Did ya have a good time?”

“The best, man. For sure the best party I’ve ever been to.”

“Yeah? Well, it was OK, I guess, considering the circumstances. Normally there would have been way more people here.”

Still wondering if Kyle had seen him with Lindy last night, Richie watched for Kyle’s reaction as he mentioned their surprise encounter in the hallway.

“I’m sorry if I woke you up last night when I fell against the wall. I guess I was more wasted than I thought.”

“Nah, It’s no big deal. I was just getting into bed when I heard it. I’m just glad nobody got hurt or anything.”

Since Kyle showed no unexpected reaction, Richie pressed on.

“Well, you sure scared the shit out of me when I saw you in the hall. How long were you standing there?”

“I just walked up when you came out of the room. You should have seen the look on your face when you saw me. It was classic.”

“Yeah? Well you’re lucky I didn’t need a crash cart and paddles to get my heart started again.”

Once again satisfied that Kyle hadn’t seen anything, Richie changed the subject.

“Pretty weird, running into Phil Peterson like that.”

“Yeah, that was kinda strange. Blew me away that you knew him.”

“Well, I don’t exactly know him... other than we live on the same street and that he graduated with my brother.”

“Did you know that he and Randy were gay?” asked Kyle.

“Yeah. Well, I knew Phil was, and I figured that Randy was, too, since they met at the Gay/Straight Alliance at UW. Did you know they were gay?”

“Yeah, I’ve known Randy was for years, so I guess I assumed Phil was since they were roommates.”

A few minutes later, both boys had finished their breakfast. While they were cleaning up the kitchen, Lindy stumbled in, holding his head in his hands and groaning.

“Hey, bro, feelin better?” asked Richie.

“No,” said Lindy, “I think death would be an improvement.”

“Here, try this,” said Kyle with a chuckle as he poured Lindy a fresh glass of orange juice, “It’ll help to settle your stomach.”

“Thanks,” said Lindy as he took the glass and plopped himself down in a chair. “We goin home soon, Rich? I think I need to go back to bed for a while?”

“Soon as I help Kyle clean up the party mess. That is if he doesn’t mind giving us a ride.”

“You can help if ya want, Rich, but we’ll just pick up the big chunks and leave the rest for the housekeeper on Monday.”

“Speaking of Monday,” said Richie, “what time did you say you wanted to leave for the cabin?”

“I figure we should leave about seven. That way we’ll have time to get up there, check the place out, maybe take the sleds for a spin, and still be back before midnight.”

“What are you guys talking about?” groaned Lindy.

“We’re going to my dad’s cabin tomorrow,” said Kyle. “Wanna come?”

“Tomorrow? Oh, man, I’d love to, but I promised Nancy I’d go Christmas shopping with her.”

“What did you mean when you said sleds?” asked Richie, truly not understanding.

“Snowmobiles!” said Kyle, “We have two of ’em up there. You ever been before?”

“Fuck no!” said Richie, beaming with anticipation, “The only thing I know about them is what I’ve seen on the TV commercials.”

“Then you’re in for a real treat, man. The trails up there are awesome.”

While Lindy stretched out on the couch to nurse his hangover, Kyle and Richie gathered up the plastic cups along with most of the rest of the trash lying around, and emptied the ashtrays. As soon as they were finished, and Kyle was dressed, they all climbed into his car and headed out. When they stopped in front of Lindy’s house, he thanked Kyle again, then staggered up the driveway, leaving the other two laughing at his condition.

A minute later, Richie climbed out at his house while Kyle gave him some last minute reminders for their trip the next day.

“Remember to dress warm, Rich, and ya might want to bring along a change of clothes, just in case. I’ll pick you up about seven, we’ll run past Mickey D’s for some breakfast, then hit the road.”

“Sounds like a plan, dude, see ya then.”

After clearing the lake trip with his parents, who gave him twenty dollars for food and emergencies, Richie spent the rest of the day watching football. Although there were some pretty good games on, his mind kept drifting off with thoughts of Kevin and the great time he had at his house on Friday night. Then he thought about Kyle, and about how much he enjoyed himself whenever they were together. He couldn’t help but think how much better it would be if Kyle were gay, or even bisexual, or whatever, like Kevin. Finally, he decided that it didn’t really matter that much. Even without the sex, he liked just hanging around with Kyle, so he looked forward to the trip like a little kid looks forward to Christmas.

Around seven o’clock, he packed his swim bag with a change of clothes, then called Lindy to see how he was doing.

“Hey, bro, how ya feel tonight?”

“Good, finally, after sleeping on the couch all day. Man, you gotta stop me if I ever get out of control like that again. My mom thought I was coming down with the flu or somethin.”

“Well now you know what happens if ya overdo it, so you’ll pace yourself better next time.”

“You got that right. So, you all ready for your trip?”

“Oh yeah, I can’t wait. Too bad you can’t go with. Can you believe it, he’s got snowmobiles up there. It’s gonna be a blast.”

“Yeah, well it’s a long winter, maybe we can do it again sometime. I sure as hell can’t blow Nancy off and go. Besides, I really wouldn’t want to do that anyway, ya know?”

“Hey, I understand, bro,” said Richie, “I wouldn’t want ya to... there’ll be other chances. Like you said, it’s a long winter. I’ll fill you in on the details on Tuesday.”

“OK, have fun and I’ll talk to ya when ya get back.”

“Thanks, Lindy. See ya.”

Later that night, as Richie watched the late news, his upcoming trip caused him to pay more attention to the weather report than usual. Although the winter so far had been mild, there was now talk of a huge storm front moving in from the west. Even though it was being fueled with moisture from the Gulf, and promised to result in heavy snowfall, all of the computer models had its path calculated to be far to the south, barely clipping the southern edge of the state. Since he and Kyle were heading north, Richie quickly discounted its importance.

Wanting to be fully rested for the trip, Richie went to bed immediately after the news. Even after a gratifying jack-off while thinking about Kevin, he was still too wound up with excitement to fall asleep until well after midnight.

By six thirty the next morning, Richie was up, showered, and dressed. Anxiously awaiting Kyle’s arrival, he paced back and forth across the living room, glancing out the front window with each pass. Just before seven, Kyle pulled into Richie’s driveway behind the wheel of his dad’s Suburban. Even before he could turn off the engine, Richie was tossing his bag and Sorel’s into the back as he climbed up onto the passenger seat.

“Whoa, Kyle, you never stop surprising me, man!”

“How’s that, Rich?”

“I don’t know. It’s like you own a really cool car, and now you pull up in a really cool SUV. Where does it all end, bro?” he said with a wide grin on his face.

“Man, you sure know how to make a non-morning person wake up, ya know that, Rich?” said Kyle as he smiled back, “I think we’re gonna have one helluva good time today.”

With that, they headed to the closest McDonald’s for breakfast. Rather than waste any time going inside, they went through the drive-through instead. After loading up on Egg McMuffins and hash-browns to eat on the way, they headed north, out of town on the interstate.

As they cleared the northern suburbs, the view of the bustling metro area changed to farm houses and rolling, snow covered fields. Richie realized that this was the first time he’d ever been this far from home. Apparently the excitement of this new experience showed in his expression, causing Kyle to ask him about it.

“So, Rich, ever been up north before?”

“Hell no,” answered Richie. “We’ve already gone farther than I’ve ever been before.”

Laughing at this, Kyle said, “Well, you’re gonna love it, man. It’s definitely God’s country up there.”

“Do we take the interstate all the way up?”

“Nah, we follow this for about an hour and a half, then we take Hwy. 18 for another forty five minutes or so. After that, the rest way is on back roads and shit. The scenery’s pretty cool, too, once we get off the interstate.”

Then, looking at Richie again, he noticed the wide eyed look on his face, so he smiled as he reached over to squeeze his knee.

“Relax, man, enjoy the ride.”

Richie felt the jolt again, the same jolt he always felt when Kyle touched him, and his dick twitched in his Levi’s.

As excited as he was, though, the lack of a full nights sleep, coupled with the monotonous hum of the tires against the pavement, soon had Richie fast asleep. It wasn’t until they slowed to turn onto Hwy. 18 that he finally woke up.

“Where are we?” he asked as he blinked the sleep from of his eyes.

“Just left the freeway,” said Kyle, “How ya doin, sleepy-head?”

“Oh, man, I can’t believe I slept all this way. Some great company I’ve been, huh?”

“Hey, don’t worry about it. Just having you along, awake or asleep, is better than making this trip alone. Besides, now that you’re all rested, you won’t be tired when we get there.”

Just then, Richie noticed the snow that was falling. By the looks of the road ahead, and the surrounding area, it appeared as though it had been falling for some time.

“What’s with this snow, man?” he asked. “The weather report said a big storm was coming, but it was supposed to pass far south of the city.”

“Don’t know,” said Kyle. “Let’s see what’s on the radio about it. Shouldn’t be too hard to find a weather report up here. The locals around these parts depend on the snow to make a living this time of the year. It brings the tourists in from as far east as Chicago to go skiing and snowmobiling.”

Tuning in the strongest of the few local radio stations in the area, Kyle shrugged his shoulders as they listened to country music while they waited for the weather report. It wasn’t until a half hour later that they heard what they were waiting for.

The huge storm that was supposed to miss them entirely had shifted to the north. The National Weather Service now predicted eight to twelve inches throughout the entire state. Although Richie was irritated by the news, since it meant he would have to shovel the walk tomorrow, Kyle’s face showed a look of concern that wasn’t lost on his passenger.

“What, Kyle?” he asked, “You look worried, man.”

“I don’t know, Rich. Eight to twelve inches can pretty much shut things down around here for a while.”

Then, looking at the clock in the dash, he thought for a moment before continuing.

“We’re not too far from Gull Lake now, so we’ll just stop in at Harry’s Sport Shop and ask him what’s going on. He’s lived up here like forever, so he’ll know what’s happening better’n anybody.”

A half hour later, they came to a sign that read ‘Gull Lake - Unincorporated’, located at the edge of what appeared to be no more than a large clearing in the middle of the forest. At the center of the clearing was a single building with a single gas pump in front, and a sign above the door that read ‘Harry’s Sport Shop’. After checking the gas gauge, Kyle pulled to a stop next to the pump before switching off the engine.

“We better top off the tanks while we’re here,” said Kyle. “Can’t never be too careful round these parts, pilgrim.”

His last remark, especially his John Wayne impression, made Richie laugh since it fit in so perfectly with the music they were privileged to endure.

Both boys got out, stretched their legs, then Kyle led the way up to the store. As they entered, they saw a rather stout elderly gentleman, sporting a full gray beard, wearing coveralls and a straw cowboy hat, sitting on a stool behind the counter.

“Harry, you old rattlesnake, how the hell are ya?” said Kyle.

“Well as I live and breathe,” said Harry as he stood and held out his hand for Kyle to shake, “Kyle Jacobson. Haven’t seen you in these parts in quite a spell. How ya doin, son.”

“Pretty good, Harry, thanks for asking,” said Kyle, “Harry, this is a friend of mine, Rich. Rich, meet Harry, oldest living resident of Gull Lake.”

“Hi, Harry, nice to meet you,” said Richie.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, too, son.”

Then, with a good-natured smile on his face, he turned back to Kyle. “Lord it’s been a long time since I seen you, boy. So, what brings you to Gull Lake... other than to harass old Harry here?”

“Me and Rich are on vacation from school, so we came up to check on the cabin. You know, make sure it hasn’t burned down or anything.”

“Well, I sure hope you boys ain’t planning on goin back to the city before tomorrow.”

Richie, who had started to browse around the shop, caught this remark, and quickly focused his attention back to Kyle’s and Harry’s conversation.

“Aw shit,” said Kyle, “I’m guessing your referring to the snow storm, huh?”

“Yup,” said Harry, “Matter a fact, if you was to leave right now I doubt you’d get back to the freeway before you’d have to stop and wait it out. Which ain’t too good since there’s no place to hole up between here and there.”

Richie was getting a little frightened now, and for some reason, the story of the Donner party flashed through his mind.

Turning to face Richie, Kyle said, “Well, bro, looks like we’ll have to rough it out at the cabin tonight.”

Then, detecting the look of genuine fear in Richie’s face, he put his hand on his shoulder and said, “Hey, not to worry, bro. We’ll be fine. Trust me on this, OK?”

“Um, sure,” said Richie, far from convinced. “If you say so.”

“Good,” said Kyle with a smile.

Then he turned to Harry and pulled out his Visa card. “Harry, I think we’re gonna need a few supplies, if ya don’t mind... and if we could borrow one of your gas cans, that would be cool, too.”

“Sure thing, son. You can take one of those ten gallon ones over there,” he said, pointing in the direction of the front door. “That should give ya plenty a gas. How ya fixed for diesel fuel for the generator?”

“I know we’re good there. Dad and I had it topped off after that big thunder storm went through when we were up here to get the place ready for the winter.”

“Sounds like you boys are all set then.”

“Great,” said Kyle. “Rich, why don’t you take the gas can out and fill it up for us... and top off the tanks in the truck, too, while you’re at it. Meantime, I’ll pick up a few things from Harry here.”

Before answering, Richie pulled the twenty dollar bill his dad had given him from his wallet and held it out for Kyle.

“Here, Kyle, put this in the pot. I know it isn’t much, but it’s all I got on me.”

“No can do, bro. This trip was my idea, so it’s my treat. Now go get the gas started, I want to get to the cabin before it snows much more... and quit looking so damn worried, would ya?”

“OK,” said Richie with resignation as he stuffed the twenty back into his pocket.

As he gathered up the gas can, a thought occurred to him.

“Say, Kyle, would ya add a toothbrush to your list for me, if Harry here has any that is.”

“Oh yeah, good idea, dude. I’ll be needing one, too, plus a few other things you just reminded me of. Harry? You got a pen and piece of paper? I think I need to make a list here.”

That was the last thing Richie heard as he stepped outside to tend to his gas pump duties.

The snow was coming down much faster now, but since there wasn’t any wind, the scene reminded Richie of a Christmas time Budwieser commercial, the only thing missing was a sleigh being pulled by a team of Clydesdales. Despite the serenity surrounding him, however, Richie was very nervous about what he and Kyle were in for as the storm got worse.

Just as he finished filling the last of the tanks for the truck, the can already full and waiting to be loaded, he saw Kyle coming out of the store carrying a large cardboard box of supplies.

“Hey, Kyle,” he said as he returned the nozzle to the pump, “Does Harry have a phone in there? I should call my parents and let them know what’s goin on. I’d hate for them to see the weather on the news and start to worry about us.”

“Good idea, but you can use the phone at the cabin. Even if the lines are out, which happens a lot up here, my cell phone’s in the truck, and I know for sure that it works from here. C’mon, lets pay for this stuff and get goin.”

Kyle’s continued insistence on getting to the cabin as quickly as possible didn’t help to calm Richie any as they went back inside to pay the bill. He felt even worse once they were back on the road again, if ‘road’ was even the right term to describe the route they now traveled. To Richie, it was little more than a path, barely wide enough for the Suburban. It wound around through the dense woods, occasionally carrying them up and over hills that no passenger car could ever handle.

“Good thing you brought the truck instead of your car, man.”

“Oh, that was a no-brainer, Rich. I would never try to take my car in here, even in the summer.”

Richie’s anxiety and fear continued to build, and he was getting a little bit irritated at Kyle’s continued lack of concern.

“So then maybe you can tell me how the fuck we’re going to get back out of here. I mean, like this is a great truck and all, but even as dumb as I am, I know it ain’t good enough to get us back out after the storm goes through.”

“Not to worry, bro... got it all covered,” said Kyle as he began to climb another hill.

The flippancy of that last remark was just about all that Richie could take. As they crested the top of the hill, he turned to Kyle with fury in his eyes, and practically shouted.

“God damn it, Kyle! Would you stop treating me like one your dumb blonde bimbos, that follow you around, taking your word for everything cause they can’t think for themselves.”

This remark caused Kyle to stop the truck at the top of the hill and look over to his passenger with a shocked expression on his face. Richie lowered his voice somewhat before he continued.

“Look, man, I’m real new to this kinda shit, OK? And I don’t mind telling you that I’m more than just a little bit scared right now. So if it isn’t too much trouble... if you have everything covered like you keep sayin... could you please just tell me ‘how’ you have it covered. I’m not totally stupid, ya know. I think I’m quite capable of comprehending any explanation you can give me here.”

There was an unfamiliar silence in the truck now, as the two boys just stared at one another. A moment later, Kyle turned off the engine, then stared out through the windshield. Without the truck running, the silence became deafening. When Kyle didn’t respond, Richie began to wonder if he’d gotten too carried away, and gone too far with his outburst. He was about to apologize when Kyle turned to face him.

“Jesus, Rich, I’m really sorry, man. I had no idea this whole thing was affecting you this way. I guess I’m just a little bit insensitive sometimes. When I know I have everything under control, I just assume that everyone should take my word for it.”

“I can understand that, but... “

“Whoa, before you say anything, let me explain how we’ll get out tomorrow, OK? My dad has a standing arrangement with Harry’s nephew, who owns a small construction company that does some snowplowing for the county in the winter. He has a couple of plow trucks and a front end loader, and he keeps this road cleared for us all winter. I checked with Harry before we left, and he assured me his nephew would be out here as soon as the storm is over. OK?”

“OK, but what about all the other shit. I mean, with this storm and shit, I picture us a week from now... our bodies being discovered by some rescue team, huddled together like Popsicles in some tiny shack in the middle of nowhere.”

Kyle smiled broadly at this, with a gleam in his eyes that lit up his face.

“Rich, I might not be too bright, and I know that I’m insensitive sometimes, but ya gotta at least know me well enough to know that I would never put your life in any kind of danger. I’m sorry for not telling you more, but after what you said this morning, I kinda wanted to wait until we got up here to show you this.”

“Show me what?” asked Richie, now calmed down quite a bit, “And what did I say this morning?”

“You said how I never quit surprising you. Well, surprise!”

With that, Kyle pointed out through the windshield to the bottom of the hill in front of them. When Richie looked down, his jaw dropped to where his chin was nearly resting on his chest. There, spread out below them, surrounded on all sides by tall majestic pine trees, was Gull Lake, it’s frozen surface covered with virgin snow. It was a scene so beautiful, that even the worlds most competent artist would find it impossible to capture it on canvas.

When his gaze wandered over to where the road dipped down the hill, then passed close to the shore line, his eyes came to rest on the cabin. To call it a cabin would be an understatement, no where near the tiny shack that Richie had imagined. It was more like a log home, almost as large as Kevin’s house. Richie just sat and stared at it, not moving or speaking, totally in awe of what he saw.

“So, what d’ya think?” asked Kyle. “Am I forgiven?”

When Richie made no response, but continued to stare out the window, Kyle reached over and began to gently massage the back of his neck.

“C’mon, Rich, say something, would ya? Yell at me again if you want, but at least say something.”

Finally, roughly pushing Kyle’s hand off his neck while he continued to look out the window, Richie spoke.

“That was a really rotten thing to do, Kyle.” Then turning to face his friend, with tears of both hurt and relief in his eyes, he said, “I was like, totally freaked here, and you just kept leading me on, like it was some sort of fucking game or something.”

In an effort to keep his anger under control, Richie looked down at the floor of the truck between his feet.

“Believe it or not, I really don’t know you well enough to know you wouldn’t put us in danger, Kyle. I mean, I know you wouldn’t do it on purpose or anything... but I really thought you were leading us on some crazy story book adventure with absolutely no clue as to how dangerous it was.

I guess I see you as someone who’s had everything given to him... someone who just charges ahead and does what he wants, the rest of the world be damned. It’s like you think, ‘I’m Kyle Jacobson, and I’m rich and bullet proof, so look out cause here I come.’ Well I’m not rich, or bullet proof, and I gotta know, or at least have some sort of a clue about what I’m getting into before I do it.”

Had Richie been looking at Kyle right then, he would have seen tears in his eyes as Richie’s words cut through his heart like a knife. It was a long time before anyone moved or spoke. Outside, the snow was falling heavily now, and the windows of the Suburban were almost completely covered as the wind began to whistle through the trees around them.

“It’s getting pretty bad out,” said Kyle, as he started the engine and turned up the heat. “We better get down there and get settled in.”

Neither boy spoke again as Kyle eased the truck slowly down the hill, then to the left, along the lake shore. When they finally stopped, they were at the left side of the double car garage at the rear of the cabin. It was located fifty feet from the back of the cabin, and about twenty feet to the left of the generator shed.

It was nearly one o’clock in the afternoon now, the atmosphere surrounding to two boys tense as they began to unload the supplies. Throughout the next hour, they worked in near total silence. They stored their supplies, double checked the supply of diesel fuel, then checked to make sure the power and phone lines were still working. When they were finished, they went into the main room. While Richie stared at the falling snow through the picture window, Kyle went to the thermostat where he bumped it up from its unoccupied setting to a much warmer seventy degrees.

“You can put your stuff in the guest room if you want Rich, I’ll build a fire in the fireplace and it’ll be warm in here in no time.”

Since Richie didn’t move or say anything, Kyle shrugged his shoulders, picked up his bag, then carried it into the master bedroom.

When Kyle had left the room, Richie sat on the couch under the window, where he gazed out at the windswept snow as it swirled and danced around the trees between the cabin and the lake. He knew that he had overreacted earlier, that he had said some cruel and hurtful things to Kyle, and he felt terrible about it. He also knew that he had to apologize to him. He knew he had to clear the air between them, or what promised be a fun time earlier, would be a miserable one at best. Gathering his resolve, he stood just as Kyle returned from the bedroom.

“Look, Kyle, I’m sorry, man... for what I said up there on the hill.”

“Forget it, Rich,” said Kyle as he knelt by the fireplace and began to stack in some logs for the fire.

“No, I won’t forget it, Kyle. What I said to you up there was cruel, and totally wrong. You’re one of the nicest and most caring guys I’ve ever known, and you sure as hell didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I wouldn’t blame you if you never forgave me for what I said, but I hope I can somehow convince you that I truly don’t believe that about you. I won’t try to make any excuses, because there aren’t any. I only want to say that when I said those things, it was because you had me scared... I mean really scared... and I’m sorry.”

Kyle had stopped stacking logs now, but instead of turning to face Richie, he remained motionless, gathering his thoughts as he stared at the half built fire. Then, standing up, he brushed his hands off on his jacket as he turned to face his friend.

“You’re right, Rich. What you said to me was cruel, and it hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t deserve it... and it doesn’t mean that what you said was wrong, or that you were wrong to say it, either. No one’s ever talked to me like that before, and if someone had, maybe none of this would have happened in the first place.

You said you were really scared up there, and I should have seen that. The signs were there, but I didn’t see them... and the reason I didn’t see them, is because I was too occupied with trying to impress you. I had to impress you because I was scared, too. Scared that, if I didn’t keep trying to impress you with my money and shit, I’d lose your friendship.

You see, Rich, even with all the advantages I have, including my looks, I’m pretty insecure when it comes to forming friendships with other people. So, I do what’s easiest for me... I buy them, just like everything else I have. Well, it took your honesty to make me see how fucked up that is. In those few minutes up there on the hill, you showed me that true friendship can’t be bought, it has to be earned. So don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t apologize to me for being honest, either. All I ask is that you give me the chance to start over, to earn your friendship like I should have done in the first place.”

The cabin was so quiet now, that the wind outside sounded like a freight train, and the boys could almost hear each other’s heartbeat.

“You may have bought some friendships, Kyle, but I know of two that you didn’t buy... two that you earned... and that’s Kevin’s and mine. And in case you don’t know it, your money doesn’t matter to us, either. Although it’s kinda cool that you have it and all... it’s still not important to us. What’s important to us is Kyle Jacobson, and who Kyle Jacobson is, not what he can buy.”

The silence returned for a moment as tears began to well up in Kyle’s eyes.

“That’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me, Rich... and now you’ve got me all misty and shit. Does this mean you and me are OK, then?”

“No, we’re better’n OK, Kyle... we’re better’n OK,” answered Richie, his own tears beginning to fill his eyes.

When Kyle reached out is hand for Richie to shake, Richie never looked down at it, but brushed it aside instead as he pulled him into an embrace. For the next few moments, they held each other tight. With their tears falling on to each other’s shoulder, their friendship became solidly entrenched at a whole new level.

It was Kyle who finally, and reluctantly, broke the moment. Stepping out of Richie’s arms, he wiped the remaining wetness from his eyes with the palm of his hand.

“C’mon, bro, we gotta get some more wood from outside before the snow completely hides the woodpile. Then, after we light this puppy, I’ll give you the nickel tour of the place. I think you’ll like what you see.”

After hauling in two more armfuls of split logs each, and stacking them next to the fireplace, Richie looked on while Kyle finished building the fire. As he watched him light it, he thought about how incredibly close he felt to him since they had their talk. For some reason, he felt closer to him than he felt to Lindy, or Kevin, or even his family. He felt a closeness, a connection, or bond with him, that if asked, he wouldn’t have been able describe. But even though it was indescribable, it was there, it was strong and powerful, and it made him feel better than he had ever felt in his entire young life.

When finally the fire was lit, and needed no more attention, Kyle led Richie to the garage where he had parked the truck earlier. When Kyle flipped on the lights as they entered, Richie’s eyes opened wide with astonishment.

There were no trucks or cars parked in here, nor was there room for any. The left side was filled to capacity with a Bayliner boat so big that the tongue of the trailer rested a mere two inches from the roll-up door. The other side was crammed to capacity with summer and winter toys. There, among the water skis, tow ropes, life jackets, and snowmobile gear, were two double wide utility type trailers. The one at the rear of the stall cradled two Sea Doo personal watercraft, or ‘jet skis’, as Kyle referred to them. The one at the front of the garage sported a matching pair of Yamaha, 485 cc, Phaser II snowmobiles.

While Kyle went to the snowmobiles to fill up their tanks with gas, Richie wandered around like a kid in a candy store, his eyes wide with excitement and disbelief. For just a moment, he felt a twinge of guilt creep back into him for the things he had said to Kyle earlier. After all, it wasn’t Kyle’s fault, if you could even call it a fault, that he had access to all of these toys, and the money he was used to spending so freely. It was his dad who had all the money, and there was no doubt in Richie’s mind that he worked damn hard to get it, too. How could anyone not get spoiled growing up with all of this around them. These thoughts caused him to look over to Kyle where he was now checking the oil levels in the sleds, and he was reminded of something that Kevin had said about him Friday night. He said that with all of Kyle’s money, and high flying party attitude, he was pretty down to earth and serious. If Richie hadn’t believed it then, since their talk a few minutes ago, he had no doubts about it now.

Just as he moved to have a better look at the boat, he was startled by the roar of one of the snowmobiles when Kyle fired it up. Changing his mind, he retraced his steps as Kyle started up the second sled. Once he was satisfied that they were ready to ride, Kyle switched them both off, then looked outside at the wind driven snow, an expression of mild disappointment spreading across his face.

“Well, Rich, I’ve got some good news and bad news. The good news is that the sleds are all set and ready to go. The bad news is that we can’t go out right now because of the storm. The snow itself is no big deal, it’s actually kinda cool to ride when it snowing like this, but the wind is what’s bad.

When it’s blowing like this, it causes two problems, really. First of all, we’d be riding into a whiteout. We could lose sight of the trail real easy, and wander off into the woods without even knowing it... and if we did wander off the trail, by the time we figured it out, our tracks would be covered over, and we’d never be able to find our way back out again. If the wind dies down later today, or even tonight, we’ll for sure go out then. Otherwise, we’ll just have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry, but as much as I want to get you out for a ride, I’m not about to fuck with mother nature.”

“I can live with that,” said Richie with a smile, “Why don’t we go back inside and see if you brought anything up from Harry’s that I can use to make us something to eat. Besides, I want to call the ‘rents’ before they start to freak out and call the State Police or somethin.

“You can cook?” asked Kyle.

“Well, I’m no gourmet chef or anything, but I can probably handle anything Harry could have sold you. For sure I can make more than just scrambled eggs.”

“Great,” laughed Kyle, “Cause I got two pounds of genuine imported ground beef, a gallon of vintage milk, and some carefully aged cheese shipped all the way in from Wisconsin. Think you can handle all of that?”

“That I think I can handle it,” laughed Richie.

They continued to joke about the food as they trudged their way through the deepening snow back to the cabin. After entering the kitchen through the back door, they stepped out of their boots, then Richie headed for the refrigerator. Before he could get there, however, Kyle grabbed him gently by the arm to redirect him toward the opposite side of the room.

“Gotta show ya something else, Rich. It kinda slipped my mind earlier.”

Opening the door located next to the dishwasher, Kyle guided Richie into a room that was about the size of the guest room. Directly in front of them was a hot tub, and to the left of that, was another door that led to the sauna.

While Richie slowly shook his head in disbelief, Kyle dipped his hand into the water to check the temperature.

“Ah, should be roasty toasty in another hour or two.” Then, looking up at Richie, who was still shaking his head, he asked, “What?”

“Nothin, Kyle,” said Richie, as he turned to walk back into the kitchen.

Kyle quickly followed him out saying, “Bullshit, man. C’mon, Rich, spill it. What’s on your mind?”

“It’s nothing, really. I’m just blown away with all this shit. It’s like I’m dreaming, or I fell down the rabbit hole or somethin. I mean, don’t get me wrong here, this place is way cool and everything, it just takes some getting used to, is all.”

“I’m doin it again, ain’t I,” said Kyle, a little ashamed, “I’m kinda showing off again, huh?”

“No, it’s not that, man. I mean, you got all this cool stuff, and I’m really happy for ya. It just takes me a while to get used to it, that’s all.”

“OK,” said Kyle after a moment, “Then I won’t show you where the tennis courts are when we take the sleds out later.”

“You got tennis courts up here?!” exclaimed Richie.

“Hell no,” said Kyle, laughing at the look on Richie’s face as he spoke, “But by the look on your face, I’d have to say I gotcha good on that one.”

“You fucker,” said Richie with a smile as he punched his friend in the arm. “Why don’t you see if there’s anything on that bogus satellite TV system I saw in the other room while I call my parents and make us somethin to eat.”

“Cool,” said Kyle, “But let me fix us a couple a beamers first, to help us relax a little.”

“What’s a beamer?” asked Richie.

“Jim Beam and coke... and don’t worry your guppy head about it, either. I’ll go easy on the Beam.”

While Kyle started to mix the drinks, Richie took up the receiver from the wall phone, and punched in his home number. After two rings, his father answered.

“Hey, Dad, it’s me, Richie.”

“Richie? Oh, thank God!” his father said with obvious relief in his voice. “Where are you, son? Are you boys alright?”

“Yeah, Dad, we’re fine. We’re at Kyle cabin, and everything’s OK. I guess you know about the storm, huh?”

“Yes we do. It’s been all over the news, and it’s got your mother and me worried sick about you. Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yeah, Dad, we’re fine, really. Only thing is, we won’t be able to get out of here until tomorrow after the storm blows over. But don’t worry, we’ll be just fine staying here tonight. We have plenty of food and everything, so there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Are you sure you’ll be warm enough?”

“Oh yeah, there’s plenty of heat, and then some. I’ll give you all the details when I get home. Tell Mom I love her, and not to worry, and I’ll see you tomorrow. OK?”

“OK, son, you take care of yourself, and stay warm.”

“I will, Dad, bye.”

“Bye, Richie.”

Hanging up the phone, Richie smiled at how much his parents truly cared for his well-being, but he couldn’t help but wonder if they would feel the same way if, and when, he ever decided to come out to them.

Taking a quick inventory of the food supplies that Kyle had purchased, Richie began to prepare some cheeseburgers while he sipped on the drink that Kyle had handed him.

Soon they were feasting on burgers and chips, and of course a pair of Beamers, while they checked out the weather channel for the latest news of the storm. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that the storm was moving through faster than expected - that the wind and snow would taper off sometime later that night.

By the time they’d finished eating, and had the dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher, it was nearly seven o’clock. After Kyle made each of them another drink, they both settled down in front of the TV.

As some old movie flickered its way across the big screen, the boys sat back and relaxed, enjoying each others company while the snow outside continued to fall through the darkened, wind whipped sky.