STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2002 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

The Cooksville Chronicles are a series of interrelated short stories set in a fictional small town in Illinois. I created the series to be read independently, although there are some continuing themes.

The Cooksville Chronicles

The Photograph

September 1933

I was twelve when Dad dragged me to Dr. Henline’s office for the humiliation of my life.

It started innocently enough a few days before. Dad and I were weeding in the truck garden. Our family had planted almost the entire yard with fruits and vegetables to sell in Bloomington. We also kept a henhouse for eggs and raised bees. Our lot was just on the outskirts of Cooksville. We held a little over five acres. It was hot for September.

"Better keep drinking water," Dad advised me. "Don’t need you getting dehydrated. Then you’ll never be of any use." Dad was a very loving man.

In retrospect, I guess his behavior was understandable. The Great Depression had caused him to lose his job in Bloomington. We all helped out in the truck garden; mornings before school, evenings after school, and weekends. If it were up to Dad, he would have taken us out of school to work, but compulsory attendance laws prevented that. Plus, Ma nixed the idea immediately and Ma always got the final word.

"The only way out of here is education," she declared. She should know; she only completed eighth grade.

On a hot day like that, usually we sweated out most of the water we drank. All of a sudden, though, I felt the urge to relieve myself.

I stepped over the rows of radishes to a corner of the field. No need to trudge back to the house just to pee. I pulled out my manhood and began.

I heard Dad following me. He unbuttoned the front of his overalls, pulled out his own tool, put his left hand on his hip and sighed deeply. For a time, the only sound heard was the sound of pee hitting the dry ground.

I heard Dad’s voice. "Boy, what’s wrong with your tool?"

"What do you mean, Dad?"

"It looks swollen. What have you been doing? Sticking it in the Electrolux?"

"No, Dad!"

"Well, then what’s wrong? Are you sick?"


"Can’t afford you bein’ sick," he stated the obvious. "I just hope it isn’t a hernia."

He finished peeing and tucked himself back into his overalls and turned to me. I was paralyzed. I had finished peeing, but still stood there with my dick in my hand. I was embarrassed. My Dad was looking at my thingy!

"Just not natural," he mumbled to himself. Sweat formed on my upper lip because I thought, for a split second, he was going to touch it.

"We’re taking you to Doc Henline’s office Monday," he declared. "He’ll probably take a bushel of tomatoes in trade."

"It’s all right, Dad," I pleaded, getting even more nervous. "It doesn’t hurt."

"Just the same. Put that thing away before the fire department comes by and mistakes it for a hose." He turned away abruptly and tramped back to the work at hand.

Monday morning I was sitting in Doc Henline’s waiting room wearing my Sunday best. Doc’s office was on the second floor of the Wood block in Colfax. There wasn’t a doctor in Cooksville anymore. On the floor beside my dad was a bushel or our best tomatoes. We knew Doc loved tomatoes, and the tomatoes we grew were the best. They were rich and red and juicy.

This was the way families made do during the Depression. We bartered for the things we needed. Cash was rare indeed. Most of what we earned from the sale of our fruits, vegetables, honey and eggs went to pay the mortgage. The only bank in Cooksville had survived the Crash of ’29 but my parents never had much saved anyway.

My mind began to wander to the reason that Dad brought me here in the first place. I was mortified about displaying my private parts, even to kindly Doc Henline. Those stories you hear about farm kids running around bopping each other are mostly malarkey, at least in my experience up till that time. Cooksville School didn’t yet have an indoor gym, although the WPA was constructing one just north of the main school building. Oh, sure some of us boys, including my brothers Jerry and George, would go down to the Mackinaw River to splash around. But we always wore something. Usually we left our underwear on. That was the influence of Reverend Wood. It was immodest to run around naked, he told us. It invited temptation. Most everyone listened to the good Reverend and followed his advice. There was one exception. He was Curtis Baity. He used to pull out his thingy and display it in the huge bathroom in the basement of the school. My heart always used to beat a little faster when he did. It was sort of like a car crash; I wanted to look but I knew I wasn’t supposed to.

I can still hear his hoarse, fierce whisper between the sounds of dripping water. "Touch it. I won’t tell anybody. Come on." I never did, although I wanted to.

One Sunday Reverend Wood took us older boys aside and warned us against the sin of masturbation. Besides me, there was Tom Richardson, Kenny Gustafson, John Walsh and my cousin Scooter. Since I was twelve at the time I didn’t have much inkling of what he was talking about. Plus, I’m the oldest boy in our family, so I didn’t have the benefit of an older brother’s experience. Masturbation certainly wasn’t something I could talk about with my father. Reverend Wood frightened us by telling us never to play with ourselves; it was dirty and a sin. Being the good Protestants we were, we knew the ultimate judgment was left to God. But the Reverend warned us that God knew all and saw all and that if we masturbated, the flames of Hell awaited.

I could safely say that by age twelve, I hadn’t seen the dicks of many other fellows my age and definitely not touched another’s. It was a sin.

Doc Henline appeared in his white coat. Doc had to let his receptionist, my cousin Edna, go some time before. He simply couldn’t afford to pay her. Most families were paying Doc in goods and services.

I liked Doc Henline. He was always very nice to me and he never talked down to me.

"Hank?" He had a booming voice. "Come on in." He turned to Dad. "Why don’t you wait here a minute, Ed? We won’t be long."

Dad was half out of his seat, but slowly sat back down.

"Handsome young man," Doc said with a couple hearty pats on my back on the way to his examining room. "Have a seat on the table. How old are you now?"


"And how are you feeling? Any pain?"

"No, not at all."

"Step up on the scale, please." He squinted at the numbers on the scale. "One-thirty. Pretty average for a boy your age. Let’s check your height. Step over here to the lines." He squinted again. "Hmmm. Five foot five. You’ve grown almost six inches since the last time I saw you, son. My guess is that you have a lot of growing in you, yet."

"OK, my friend, have a seat again." When I was seated again on the examining table, he looked at me seriously. "Hank, I don’t know if you know this, but when doctors begin their profession we take an oath. This oath says that I can’t discuss your medical records with anyone. Do you understand?"

I nodded.

"Your dad tells me he’s concerned about your genitals. I’m going to ask some questions and I need you to answer as honestly as you can, OK?"

"OK," I agreed.

"Any problems?" He asked me. "Any unusual discharge? Are you urinating blood?"

"No, Doc." He wrote this information on a clipboard.

"Have you had nocturnal emissions?"

"What?" I was alarmed.

"Wet dreams?"

"No. Not that I know of."

"Do you masturbate?"

"No, sir," I answered immediately. "Reverend Wood says it’s a sin."

He muttered, "Still living in the dark ages."

"Pardon me?"

"Nothing. OK, Hank, you’ll need to stand and pull your trousers down."

I stood and my hands hesitated at my fly. My cheeks grew hot. Like I said, at that time, I was just not used to exposing myself. I guess I was a bit of a prude up till then.

Doc Henline made no comment at all about my equipment but his face told the whole story. Like twin moons rising over the horizon, his eyebrows arched over his half-glasses in surprise when I exposed myself.

"Yes, well…" he cleared his throat nervously and fought a smile. Within seconds, his smile faded as he regained his professional demeanor. But his smile lingered in my memory. He told me to turn my head and cough while he placed his fingers under my scrotum. With his fingertips he made little circular motions in various places around my groin.

"I’m checking for hernias," he told me. That was another thing I liked about him. He always explained what he was doing and why.

He took my limp pole in his hand and looked at the tip. I shuddered. No one had ever touched my thingy but me.

"Just relax, Hank." He continued his visual exam for a few more seconds that seemed to stretch into days.

"OK, son. You can pull your trousers up, now. I’m going to call your father in, OK?"

He opened the door and I heard his footsteps to the waiting room. "Ed, could you come back for a moment?"

Dad came in, nervously twirling his hat in his hand.

"Ed, I examined him, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his development. I see no signs of hernia or any other abnormality."

"But he’s abnormally big."

Doc Henline grinned for the first time. "Yes, he is. He’s very big for a boy his age, and my guess is that he’s going to continue growing in that area. He’s just barely started puberty."

Dad had a look of relief on his face. "Won’t it cause trouble later?"

Doc considered this. "I would recommend that he wear some sort of support if he participates in sports or does any heavy lifting around your place. That will prevent a hernia. Be very careful about keeping it clean, son. That will help prevent any infections. And Hank, don’t go sticking it anywhere it’s not supposed to be until you’re married. Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Seems to me, that this is a Cooper trait. Am I right, Ed?"

"I’m not sure." Dad probably didn’t know what Doc was talking about. Of course, he did know about hybrid seeds, but his limited education couldn’t apply it to human genetics. "I’ve heard tell about some of the other Cooper men. I haven’t seen it for myself."

"Well, just between us men, I have. I’m not going to name names, but this sort of thing is genetic and looks like our young man here just got the right chromosomes. He’ll just be a very big man. I don’t see any indication of hernia or illness. He’s healthy as an ox."

He slapped my back a few more times. "Good to see you again, Hank. Take care and stay healthy." To my dad he said, "I’ll waive my fee for the exam today, Ed."

"Thanks, doc."

"But, could you leave just a few of your delicious tomatoes for dinner tonight?"

School had started again two weeks ago. I actually looked forward to school for several reasons. First, school offered relief from the drudgery of working in the fields with my family. I was glad to help out but it was hot, backbreaking work. Even though I still had to work the fields after school and on weekends, school released us from the everyday work.

I liked school. I was a good student, and I was hungry to learn. I especially loved history and geography. I loved learning about ancient cultures and faraway places - places I was unlikely to ever visit.

Finally, the kids in Cooksville were getting a new gym at our school. Actually, the gym belonged to the whole community. The school board presented the plan to the Works Progress Administration almost as soon as the agency was formed. To everyone’s surprise, they not only accepted the plan, but also added to it. The WPA said that the whole community could use the gym for recreation. So, they enlarged the dimensions of the original modest gym and added a stage, a vestibule and locker rooms.

The gym stood beside the original double foursquare school built in 1896. The main entrance of the new gym had an arch, which echoed the arch over the main doors of the school building. The two buildings were constructed of red brick. The similarities ended there. The new gym was built in an Art Deco style. All the corners of the building were rounded. The windows were tall and narrow with the brick between the windows laid to resemble streamlining. Two tall, graceful brick towers flanked the arched entrance. Atop each tower was a flagpole piercing the sky.

Us kids had to contain our excitement for a bit longer. The gym was supposed to be ready by the beginning of the school year but, of course, construction was delayed. Actually, the work was mostly done. There was still some electrical work and some painting and finishing still to be completed. Most of the WPA workers had moved on to the next project. They had been housed in empty ISNU dorm rooms in Fell Hall and bussed to the project every day.

Every couple of days, me and some of my friends would gather at the front doors, which were propped open to allow air into the gym. We couldn’t enter the gym, but a friendly worker named Hal would usually take a few minutes to talk to us.

The completion of the gym thrilled me and made me proud of Cooksville. We were going to have a regular schedule of Physical Education. Three times a week! It was a miracle! But it also represented terror, for me at least. The principal had already announced that the older boys and girls would have to take showers after class. Needless to say, I was horrified at the thought of exposing my body.

We had a bumper crop of melons the summer of ’33, despite - or perhaps because of - the hot weather. The hot weather continued that September. We had managed to keep them watered through a Rube Goldberg system of hoses and pipes. Melons need lots of water. Because we had our own good, deep water well, all we paid for was the electricity to pump the water. We usually planted the muskmelons, honeydew, cantaloupes and watermelons along the perimeter of our property because the creeping vines would easily overtake the entire yard if given the chance.

My cousin Harold was more commonly known as Scooter. He was thirteen and in my seventh grade class because he was held back in first grade. People often mistake us for brothers, even twins, because they say we look so much alike. Personally, I didn’t see it, but we do both have blond hair and blue eyes, like my younger brothers and a lot of my cousins. We were about the same height and weight, although Scooter had really shot up over the summer. Ma said he’s beginning his growth spurt. I wished it would start happening to me.

Scooter was from the other branch of the Cooper family. There are good Coopers and bad Coopers. I’m from the good Cooper branch. We’re church-going folk: Hard working, trustworthy and clean. Scooter was from the bad Cooper branch. Relatives on that side were drinkers, brawlers, lazy and shifty. Ma referred to them as common.

Word had it that Scooter’s father, my Uncle Bill, distilled moonshine and sold it. I didn’t know if that’s true or not, but I knew I was never allowed in their barn. Their still was the worst kept secret in Cooksville.

The last of the melons were ripening fast, and Dad needed help bringing them in before they went bad in the fields. So in addition to my younger brothers, Dad enlisted Scooter’s help. If Scooter came by every day until all the melons were in - a task that probably would take about four or five afternoons of work - Dad promised to pay him the heavenly sum of ten cents. It was a lot of money for a kid back then.

Every day, Scooter would walk home with me from school and we’d work in the fields. Scooter, my brothers, Dad and me would be filthy and sweaty from our labor. So before we could go into the house, we’d shower in the makeshift shower stall Dad rigged up in the barn. Ma refused to let us into the house before we cleaned up. She would feed us all a hearty supper and then Dad would drive Scooter to his family’s farm due north of town.

"Sure is hot for September," Dad mumbled as he shaded his eyes with his hand and scanned the western horizon. Dad is always worried about the weather. He knows lots of weather lore and usually he can predict what the weather is going to bring. I sometimes teased him that he should work for the Weather Bureau.

The early thirties brought drought to many parts of America. In some parts of the heartland -- Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska -- the land had been reduced to dust. The dust was picked up by the wind and carried across the country. Here in Illinois had even received an occasional dusting of topsoil that had desiccated and blown away.

We all pulled off our shirts in the hot sun. I watched the play of muscles across Scooter’s shoulders and back as he worked his way methodically picking the melons and placing them carefully in neat piles.

"You and Scooter put this last bushel of melons in the barn. Jerry, George and me will take our showers first." They marched toward the barn. Shortly, we heard my brother Jerry squeal, "It’s cold!" Well water tends to be very cold after only a few seconds.

We hefted the last bushel of melons to the barn. They still smelled sweet from the late afternoon sun.

Scooter grabbed a melon from the bushel. "Take one," he encouraged.

"I’d rather wait for supper," I told him. I thought he intended on eating it.

"We’re not going to eat it," he leered.

With a melon apiece, we snuck around to the garage. Dad stored the plow and the tractor in this rickety building. It felt cooler in the shade and it had the smell of gasoline and motor oil.

He put his melon down on the ground and reached for the button on his trousers.

"What are you going to do?"

"You’ll see." Before his pants hit the dirt floor, he extracted a pocketknife. Every boy and man carried a pocketknife in those days. His was swell. My Aunt Janice brought it back from the Chicago World’s Fair for him.

He stood there in front of me in his boxer shorts. They were tented out in front. He opened the knife and cut a large hole in the side of the melon. Juices from the melon dripped onto the dirt floor of the garage. The sweet smell of melon overcame the gasoline scent. He pulled the circle of rind out and tossed it aside.

I had no idea what he was planning to do with the melon, but I watched with fascination. He closed the knife, set it on a fender of the combine, and set the melon down again. He stuck his thumbs under the waistband of his boxers and pulled them down to his ankles in one swift motion. His stiff tool stuck straight out from the rest of his body, surrounded by a lot of hair. He had a lot more hair around it than me, I noted to myself. His dick is nearly as big as mine, I thought. Why, then, did Dad make such a fuss about mine?

He took the melon in his left hand and his tool in his right. Then he stuck his dick into the melon! Once it was in the fruit, he put both hands on it and started pumping his manhood in and out of the hole.

"Ohh!" He moaned. "That feels good." He pulled the melon closer to his body so that his tool was completely buried in the melon.

"You should try it," he told me. I could feel my cheeks flaming red and my heart thumping in my chest.

I pulled out my own Tom Mix pocketknife and cut a hole in the melon I had smuggled into the garage.

Suddenly, we heard Ma’s voice yelling out the back door. "Hank? Scooter? You two slowpokes better get a move on. I’m gonna serve supper without you."

Scooter giggled nervously and tossed the melon aside. It landed on the floor of the garage with a hollow thump.

Ma’s voice continued: "I don’t hear that shower running. You two better get cracking!"

"Coming, Ma!" I shouted. I prayed my voice didn’t sound like something was up. We heard the screen door slam shut.

Scooter pulled his trousers up. We were both still giggling nervously as we ran from the garage to the barn. We sat on the ground of the barn to unlace our boots. Then we quickly stripped off our clothes. I didn’t even think about covering myself or turning my back like I usually do. Ma had spoken, and we both knew she was as serious as a heart attack.

Since we knew that the water was going to get cold quickly, if it wasn’t already icy, we had to wet our bodies, soap up with the cake of Ivory that sat nearby and step back under the icy needles of water to rinse.

Scooter took a deep breath and shut his eyes tightly. "Here goes! Oh Lordy! That’s cold!" He gasped.

I followed suit. When I opened my eyes, Scooter was already soaping up his body by rubbing the soap directly over his skin. The cold water caused our scrotums to retract close to our bodies.

For some reason, Scooter waited for me to soap up before rinsing off. I felt his eyes on my body. Even though my skin was chilled from the cold well water, my cheeks grew hot with embarrassment.

I knew exactly what he was looking at.

"Damn, Hank! You’re hung like a horse! And I thought mine was big!"

The combination of his raspy voice lowered to a whisper, the mild cuss word and the comparison to a farm animal made me grin nervously.

Then, he reached over without so much as a by-your-leave and took it in his right hand. He took a hold of it as casually as if he was shaking my hand.

"Damn!" He repeated.

"It’s dirty to feel another boy’s dick," I whispered to him.

"Horseshit. Don’t listen to Wood. Besides, how do you think he got those ugly daughters?" He answered his own question. "He screwed his ugly wife."

He started stroking my dick as my skin returned to normal temperature. It got hard right away.

"I’ll bet you jerk off a lot," he husked. I never jerked off before, but I wasn’t about to admit that to him.

He stopped the motion for a moment and opened his hand to admire it. It lay quivering across the width of his palm. It was more than double his open palm. He shook his head and smiled. "Damn," he repeated for the third time. Scooter always was very eloquent.

Scooter picked up the cake of Ivory and rubbed it over his right palm. After he replaced the soap to it’s place, he wrapped his hand around my dick again and began stroking it slowly.

"We should stop," I protested lamely. "Ma’s waiting supper for us." The protest was hollow; I didn’t want him to stop. Not in a million years. Scooter knew it, too.

He increased the speed of his strokes. My thing was so hard; I thought it was going to explode. It began to dribble some clear liquid to the wooden floor of the shower stall. I panted. I felt like a stone was forming deep in my crotch. I moaned some more.

His own tool became hard. "Go ahead," he nodded with a flick of his eyes downwards. "Touch mine."

I stretched my arm tentatively to his pole. As soon as I wrapped my hand around it, I felt like I was going to pass a stone. The sensation moved up from my crotch to my dick.

All of a sudden, I saw stars. "Oh!" I grunted. A thick viscous liquid shot out of my dick.

"Wow! That was a lot of sperm!"

Is that what that was? My knees got shaky and I put a hand on the wall of the stall to steady myself. My breath came in short bursts.

"One good turn deserves another." He thrust his hips toward me. "Now, you have to do that for me," Scooter said with a grin.

Before I could begin stroking, Ma’s voice sounded again. "This is the last time I’m calling you two!"

We rinsed off, dressed haphazardly, and ran to the house, laughing and giggling all the way.

I learned two essential things that September day.

First, I learned the potential of my cock. Until that time I neither had masturbated nor had a wet dream. I learned that stroking made it feel good and that ejaculation was a goal in itself. From that day on, masturbation became a constant obsession. I experimented at night in my bed after I was certain my brothers were asleep. I tried masturbating at different times of the day; in the early mornings before school and in the middle of the day on weekends. I became more adventurous and tested different places to masturbate. The first place I tried besides my bedroom was the garage; the scene of the crime, so to speak, where it all began. I masturbated in the barn and the cellar at home. I did it on the banks of the Mackinaw River near our swimming hole. I even did it at school in the boy’s toilet.

At first, I felt a tremendous amount of guilt about it, because of my sheltered, religious upbringing. Gradually my feelings began to subside when I soothed my conscience with the thought that Scooter was doing it as well. I extrapolated that most boys my age were also masturbating. Masturbation became a way to release tension and stress. It relaxed me. I felt like I had a sweet, sexy secret that no one else, besides Scooter, knew about.

Only once more, the following summer, did I get up enough nerve to ask Scooter more questions. We were at his house.

"Every fellow masturbates," he stated with certainty.

"Even if they’re married?"


"How do you know?"

"Follow me." He led me to the outside of their house, around the corner to the window of the bedroom he shared with his older brother. The bottom sill of the window was conveniently at eye level. We peered cautiously into the room. Frank was on top of his bed with his cock in his right hand. He was flogging himself to beat the band. His legs were tense and spread as he did. Scooter flashed me a triumphant look.

"How did you know?" I mouthed to him.

"He does it every day at about this time," he whispered.

While spying on Frank helped relieve some of the guilt I had about masturbating, it did nothing to alleviate my second discovery.

Because the other thing I learned about myself was that I was homosexual. This would never do.

How I knew this at twelve or thirteen years, I can’t really explain. Of course there was never any mention of the topic in the books I read, the radio programs I listened to or the Daily Pantagraph.

I did know that I loved the sight of other boys and men. I got hard simply when I spotted another shirtless boy. I fantasized about their cocks. And swimming at the river became problematic because I would have a perpetual erection. I would watch the other boys in their wet underwear and could clearly see the outline of their penises through the cloth.

I thought that God would forgive my masturbation but not my homosexuality.

The gym addition to Cooksville School was finally finished that October. There was a grand opening ceremony with a lot of speeches. Ma said that the new gym stuck out like a sore thumb in tiny Cooksville, but I thought it was aces. With it’s Art Deco architecture, it looked like a sleek ocean liner docked in the middle of the prairie.

Inside, the Federal Artists Project had painted huge murals on the walls. There were murals in the vestibule, over the stage, and over the bleachers.

Once the hubbub died down, and the newness wore off, us kids finally got to use it for regular gym classes.

The principal of our school did double duty as the gym teacher. That was common in small, rural schools. He announced he was going to check to ensure that every student took a shower after Physical Education. How he was going to check the girls, he never told us. I do recall that it was the topic of much conversation among the boys.

Also, hot showers were a great luxury in the thirties. We had running water at home, of course, and a bathtub. It took a lot of time and hot water to fill the bathtub. Besides the shower in the barn, we didn’t have a shower. We bathed once a week or unless it was absolutely necessary. Falling in some chicken droppings in the hen house was considered a reason to take a bath more than once a week. Ma also used the bathtub to bring down fever. She would have us sit in tepid water and soak.

I managed to either shower after most of the other boys or keep my back turned while I changed or a combination of the two. The locker room was huge, at least to my eyes. The lockers were arranged in U-shaped alcoves with a common bench in between. Our classes were small, and there were seldom more than a dozen boys in the locker room at a time.

Of course, one of the boys in the class was Scooter. To my everlasting gratitude, he kept his mouth shut about my size.

Until the week before Christmas, that is. It wasn’t Scooter’s fault. We had been engaged in a heated dodgeball game. Mr. Laesch lost track of the time and we were late. He could have dispensed with showers, but we were all hot and sweaty. I actually wanted to take a shower. I stunk.

"Make it snappy," Mr. Laesch commanded. His voice reverberated off the tiles in the shower room.

Unthinkingly, I stripped my clothes off and joined the other eleven boys in my class in the shower room at the same time. In my haste, I had forgotten to delay my shower until the other boys were done.

I shut my eyes while the hot water ran over my back. When I rubbed my eyes open, eleven pairs of eyes were staring at me.

Scooter threw up his hands. "I didn’t say anything."

"Lord in heaven, Cooper!" Jimmy Wilson shouted over the running water.

"It’s a monster!" John Walsh added.

I immediately spun around to the wall. I wasn’t sure who started it, but I heard them chanting, "Horse, horse, horse." Their voices echoed in the shower room.

My cheeks flamed with embarrassment. As I pushed through them and to my locker, where I tugged on my underwear as quickly as I could. Tears stung my eyes. I hated this. I cursed my own body. I cursed the other boys - they were stupid, anyway. Like I had anything different from them.

I carried the shame and humiliation of that day for a long time. The chants of "Horse" may have died down but they still echoed in my mind. I vowed never to expose myself again, physically or emotionally. I turned into myself as if I had some kind of private disfigurement. Seeing as I was pretty introverted to begin with, I almost turned into a hermit. My social life revolved around my immediate and extended family. I buried myself in books and the radio.

I lost myself in shows like The Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, and The Maxwell House Hour. I listened to Lux Radio Theater and all kinds of music while doing homework. I especially liked mystery and suspense shows like Suspense, Lights Out and The Shadow. It was escapism, pure and simple.

Ma was fitting me in one of my dad’s suits for my eighth grade graduation. She shook her head and clucked her tongue. "You’re just growing like a weed, boy. Don’t know what you’re growing on." I had grown at an amazing rate. As an eighth grader, I was a few inches taller than Dad.

"Come on, Ma, you know you’re a great cook." It was true. She could turn out a delicious meal out of the simplest ingredients. She had several ribbons from the McLean County Fair to prove it.

"Better enjoy this graduation, boy, it’s the last one you’re going to participate in," Dad grumbled. "I need your help around here."

"Oh, no, Dad. He’s going to high school." She looked me in the eyes with pride and love. Although there were compulsory attendance laws on the books, they were winked at if a son was needed to help support the family.

"I need his help around the damn farm! Don’t cross me, Mildred!"

They continued to argue as if I wasn’t in the room. They had argued about this before. My parents loved each other, I suppose, but they sure had a funny way of showing it.

"Tell you what we’re going to do, Dad. He’s going to high school and he’s going to work here on the farm. I talked to the principal. Hank will take one of them accelerated programs. He’ll finish in three years instead of four. Then he can work."

"Think you can do it, boy?" Dad asked me.

All I could do was nod.

The sexual encounters with Scooter reached a peak while we were freshmen. At least once every two weeks we got together for sex. Scooter was more interested in girls, and I knew it, but as he explained to me, "Ain’t none of these girls going to put out. Besides, you’re good."

October 1935

The depression deepened and my parents worried. Ma and Dad seemed to be grumpy almost all the time. I knew that our meager savings were gone. We were living almost exclusively off the produce from our truck farm.

Finding a job was almost impossible; almost a quarter of all men in America were unemployed. The little bank in Cooksville had to reorganize and reopen under a new name.

Because of the accelerated program, I was a sophomore in the fall of ’35. I was pretty shy to begin with and I had no interest in dating girls. In early October, our high school celebrated Homecoming. Ma dropped hints to ask Betsy Wood to the dance, but I always avoided the topic when she brought it up. I had no intention of dating a girl. I had no use for girls.

Instead, Scooter and I planned on seeing a movie in Colfax together. We didn’t want to be the only teenagers in Cooksville not doing anything that Saturday night. It wasn’t a date, we told ourselves. We were simply two dateless cousins going to the movies instead of Homecoming.

Growing up in rural Illinois, kids learned to drive early. It started early with the tractor or plow and gradually extended to the family truck or car. There were minimum ages for driving, legislated by the State of Illinois. But like everything else, rules were bent. Our being able to drive was a benefit for our parents, too. They could send us on errands and give us tasks that involved short driving trips. Dad allowed me to drive around our own land and in and around Cooksville. But driving any further was forbidden. For example, I couldn’t drive to Bloomington. Scooter’s family, since they belonged to the trashy branch of the Cooper family, were much more liberal about Scooter’s use of their old DeSoto. Plus he had an older brother to blaze the trail for him. I didn’t have the luxury of a Frank.

The DeSoto kicked up dust as Scooter pulled wildly into our drive. I ran out to meet him.

"Damn that Scooter!" Ma screamed from inside the house. "You’ll both wind up in the hospital!"

I had bathed and was dressed in the same suit I graduated eighth grade in. I had grown considerably, but the suit had once belonged to my father so it accommodated my growth. Everyone dressed up to go to the show in those days.

Scooter hopped out of the car carrying a brownie camera.

"Take a picture of me, and I’ll take one of you." He handed me the camera.

The shutter captured Scooter leaning on the car. I realized that he had worn his suit with matching trousers, crisp white shirt, and burgundy tie with geometric patterns to look good for me. His blond hair was slicked back. To me, he looked as suave and sophisticated as a movie star.

"One more and then I’ll take a picture of you." He placed his right foot on the running board of the car. With a grin and a gleam in his eyes, he reached to his crotch and adjusted his cock and balls in his trousers. "OK, now." My hands trembled as I snapped the picture.

Ma came out of the house and the screen door slammed behind her. She wore a smile on her face and her housedress fluttered in the breeze.

"Don’t you two look handsome?" She gushed. "Such a waste. You both should be at Homecoming with dates."

"Doris and I had a falling out, Aunt Millie," Scooter explained.

"That’s no excuse," she sniffed. "You shoulda made up with her. You can fight again after homecoming. And you…" she turned her attention to me.

I gave her one of my looks that said, Don’t start!

Scooter came to my rescue. "Well, tonight it’s bachelor’s night out. Just the boys tonight. And I’m going with my favorite cousin." When he wrapped his arm around my shoulders I could smell his Old Spice cologne.

"Give me the camera and I’ll take a picture of you two together." She had us stand in front of the car. We grinned for the camera with our arms around each other’s shoulders. She took two pictures, one for each of us. When she was done, she handed the camera back to Scooter. "Have a good time, boys." As the screen door slammed behind her, she added, "Drive safely, Scooter."

"This is not a date," Scooter mumbled as he drove slowly through Cooksville.

"I know."

Just as we headed out of town, Scooter pointed to rows and rows of blue cornflowers growing in the ditches between the road and the walls of corn on either side of the road.

He pulled the DeSoto over. "What are you doing?"

He hopped out of the car. "Picking flowers."

"You’re crazy."

He picked several of the blue, button-shaped cornflowers that grew wild everywhere. His shoes crunched on the gravel as he walked over to the passenger side with a handful of flowers.

"Know what else these are called?" He handed me one through the open window. He answered his own question, "Bachelor buttons."

Scooter snapped one of the stems just below the head of the flower. He stood on the running board and reached in through the window and pulled the stem through the buttonhole on my lapel. "I reckon a little advertising wouldn’t hurt." He chuckled at his own comment as he gave my lapel a couple satisfied pats. "There. It looks right nice."

My eyes got misty as I gaped at the flower on my jacket.

"Just remember," he said as he climbed back into the car.

"I know, I know…it’s not a date." As I fastened a bachelor’s button to his jacket, he pulled out a flask of moonshine and took a heroic swig.

Wordlessly, he handed the flask to me. I almost never drank; in fact I disliked the taste of alcohol. But I figured it might help me to relax a bit. The clear liquid burned its way down to my stomach.

Our destination was the Palace Theater in Colfax where David Copperfield was playing. I was interested to see how the movie compared to the book that we were required to read in English class. Scooter didn’t really want to see the movie. I’m sure part of the reason he didn’t want to see it was that he didn’t finish the book. But the movie version had W. C. Fields as Mr. Micawber. We were both curious to see that casting oddity.

"Scooter! Slow down!" My heart was thumping wildly in my chest. Outside of town, Scooter always drove like a bat out of hell. He never slowed at intersections.

He turned his head to me and grinned.

"And watch the road!"

"Who are you, my mom? Relax!"

"What’s your hurry?" In those days there was no specific starting time for movies. The operators simply ran them continuously. Between the main film they showed newsreels, shorts and cartoons. This gave the projectionist time to rewind the film.

With a screech of tires, we pulled into a parking space about a block from the theater. "We’d better take these flowers off, or people will really think we’re queer." I stuffed my bachelor’s button in the pocket of my jacket.

The ticket seller, the fat wife of the theater owner, gave us stern looks as we paid our dimes. She probably made a mental note to keep an eye on the Cooper boys. We couldn’t afford popcorn or candy, so we bypassed the concession stand and seated ourselves in the cool, dark interior. We sat in adjoining seats on the left side of the theater and were just about the only people that Saturday.

A newsreel was flickering across the screen.

The newsreel featured a story about the Civilian Conservation Corps. Images of fit, tanned, shirtless young men moved across the screen. My imagination kicked into high gear. The story began with pictures of President Roosevelt signing the legislation into law in ’33. The CCC was only supposed to last for two years, but Congress had just extended it for two more.

This looked like fun! You only had to be seventeen to enlist. You could learn a trade, too! And enrollees were paid forty dollars a month, although most of it was sent directly home to the families.

The images of that newsreel stuck in my mind for a long time.

"This is boring," Scooter sighed as he slouched down in his seat.

"No, it’s not. Watch the movie," I hissed back.

He sighed loudly again. He pulled out the flask again, took a drink and handed it to me.

After a few moments, I felt his hand on my knee. I picked up his hand and moved it. This was not the time or place. Besides, I was trying to follow the plot of movie.

After a few more moments, his hand again was exploring my leg and working it’s way up my inner thigh.

"Stop it!" I took hold of his hand, but didn’t release it immediately.

His fingers wove themselves between mine. We sat there holding hands in the dark theater for the rest of the movie. Holding hands seemed to satisfy him for the moment because he stopped squeezing my knee.

"I hated it," Scooter grumped as we drove home in the dark. We were just east of Colfax. He was steering with his knees as he unscrewed the flask again.

"You hardly watched it. I thought it was nifty. And be careful, will you?"

It was about seven miles from Colfax to Cooksville. There was one main paved road between the two, but there were a lot of country roads that were paved with gravel. He pointed the DeSoto onto one of these. Dust kicked up as Scooter drove. He pulled the car abruptly over to the side of the dusty road and switched off the lights. The moon was almost full that clear, crisp night and the unharvested corn paralleled the road like a wall.

He grinned at me in the darkened car. "It was a fun night. Even if I didn’t like the movie."

"Thanks for going with me, Scooter."

"Aww! It’s nothin’!" He grinned that devilish grin at me. "’Sides, I expect to get repaid." He pulled out his tool and began stroking it.

"Come on," he whispered. I leaned over and took his hot tool in my mouth. He moaned and stroked my head.

So this is it, I thought. This is what he had planned all along.

"Take yours out," he told me as I sucked. It was a struggle to unfasten my pants in the position I was in, but I finally freed my dick. I sucked his hard pole until he was almost ready to shoot. By this time, I could read the signs his body gave when he was ready.

"Stop," he told me. "I want to suck you."

It was the first time Scooter had ever reciprocated. I heard him gag a bit on my big tool and I felt the scrape of his teeth once or twice. Scooter had not done this before. Still, he was trying and I was overwhelmed with his efforts.

"I’m going to shoot!" I warned him. I thought he would take his mouth off. Instead he swallowed my load.

He sat up in the driver’s seat, spread his legs and beat his meat furiously. I could see a tiny droplet of my sperm on his chin in the moonlight. It’s my sperm, I thought and that thought excited me all over again. He let out a loud grunt as he shot his load. We wiped ourselves up with our handkerchiefs and tossed them out the window to hide any evidence. We drove the rest of the way home in silence.

The headlights of the car scraped my darkened house. Even Ma hadn’t waited up for me.

I rounded the front of the car and placed my elbows on the open driver’s window. "Thanks again, Scooter. I had a swell time."

He tousled my hair. "No problem, cousin."

I looked for clues in his blue eyes. There were none.

We never kissed and - except for the time we held hands during David Copperfield -- there was seldom any other affection besides a pat on the back or an arm around my shoulders. So while my sexual needs were attended to, my romantic notions and my need for simple affection were unfulfilled. Many nights, I cried out my loneliness in my pillow after my brothers were asleep.

One Saturday morning about two weeks later, Scooter came over to show me the pictures he had developed. My brothers and my parents had gone into Bloomington. We reviewed the pictures and laughed. He gave me several to keep. My favorite was the one of Scooter with his foot on the running board of the car.

Later that morning, we were laying on top of our clothes in the hayloft of our barn. We had just sucked each other again. I sighed with contentment. I rolled over on my side and watched him. His cock had deflated and was nested on his light brown thatch of pubic hair. I watched his lean abdomen rise and sink rhythmically as he breathed.

He shielded his eyes with his forearm against a ray of sunlight that had found it’s way between the cracks of the barn siding. The sunlight highlighted the pale blond hairs on his arm.

I reached over and lay my palm on his chest that was still hairless, like mine.

He opened his mouth and took a deep breath. "This has got to stop soon," he murmured.

I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t expect it. Unrealistically, I’d hoped we’d continue forever. Even if he married that tramp Doris, we could still get together. That was my plan. Obviously, his plans were different.

I leaned over and attempted to kiss him. He moved his forearm from his eyes to his lips immediately. His eyes shot daggers at me over his forearm.

"No!" he exclaimed a little too loudly. "Don’t kiss me!"


"But, nothing! This is it, Hank! I can’t take this anymore! I’m not like you. I like girls." He sat up and reached for his clothes.

"But, Scooter…"

He stood and pulled on his trousers without another word. His eyes shot me one last look before he descended the ladder. Moments later, I heard the DeSoto grind to a start and the crunch of the wheels on our gravel driveway.

I dressed slowly. I was still in shock about what Scooter had said and what he had done. I plodded back to the house. Upstairs in my room, the photos he had just delivered taunted me from the top of my dresser. I picked up the one of Scooter and held it from the top edge between my thumbs and index fingers. I was going to rip it in half.

I only made the tiniest of rips when a flood of tears washed my eyes and I flung myself on my bed. I sobbed for a long time.

I couldn’t tear the picture, even though I was so angry with Scooter. He was such a fool to worry about girls, especially that Doris! I was insanely jealous of her. Scooter was mine! I loved him first. I loved him best.

I was angry with myself, too. I had fallen in love with my cousin.

How could I have been so stupid? It was an impossible situation and I knew that from the beginning. My only sexual outlet was gone! I needed him. But my need for affection scared him away. I cried out of self-pity, loneliness and guilt. I cried out my anger and frustration.

Now I had nothing to look forward to. It was over. Scooter was my only chance at love.

As I continued my studies in high school, I sadly realized that my options were limited. I could leave my family behind and go to live in a large city where there would be others like myself. It would have to be a large city, even larger than Bloomington; perhaps St. Louis or Chicago. I had never been to either place, but I could imagine them. I read all I could about life in big cities and listened to the radio. But it was the Depression, and I couldn’t afford to go. Even if I did, I understood I could never return to Cooksville again. And I really did love my family.

I could marry a woman and might even learn to love her, but sex would always be an ordeal. I actually had horrific nightmares during my teen years about my wedding day and the following honeymoon night.

The last possibility was to remain single and join the ranks of "spinsters" and "eccentric bachelors." It sounded like a lonely existence.

None of the three options were very attractive.

But one thing was clear: Scooter would never love me the way I loved him.

I found the bachelor button in my suit pocket months later; brown and wilted. I almost cried all over again as the memories washed over me.

The newsreel about the Civilian Conservation Corps we saw that evening in October remained on my mind, too. I made it my goal to enroll right after high school. It would get me away from Cooksville and away from Scooter. I couldn’t bear to see him with Doris.

Scooter would marry Doris not long after I enrolled in the CCC, prompted by Doris’ pregnancy. He would never finish high school.

And maybe, just maybe by joining the CCC and getting away from Cooksville I would find someone to love.

I kept all the photos from that evening Scooter and I went to our own personal Homecoming. With a pushpin, I hung my favorite photo over my dresser. It remained there all through high school. This was Scooter, as I wanted to remember him. This was my Scooter: blond, jaunty, handsome in a rugged way, carefree to the point of recklessness, full of himself. The bounty of his crotch - which he had just adjusted for the benefit of the picture - was already promised to the boy behind the camera - trembling and almost too excited to snap the photo.

That photograph, with a tiny tear in the top margin, went with me when I started my new life in the CCC.

It was a photograph of my first love.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other stories here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars in the Young Friends section and Paternal Instincts/Family Instincts/Thicker Than Water in Relationships.

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