By John Yager
This is the sixth chapter of a series and I know many of you have been following it as the earlier chapters have been posted. I've received comments from many of you and appreciate all you have had to say. Thank you for your encouragement, suggestions and criticism.
A point which many of you have shared with me, and in much larger numbers than has been the case with any other story I've posted, has to do with how this story parallels your own experiences. I hope that means that I've struck some common ground here. In every case I've been touched by what you've shared with me. I sincerely appreciate your confidence and trust.
Andrew has continued to provide proofing and editorial help, for which I am sincerely grateful.
This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. Any similarity to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. This is a work of gay erotic fiction. If you should not be reading such material or if such material is not to your liking, please exit now.
This work is copyrighted © by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.
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"What about them?"
"Well, it looked as if they were doing some pretty heavy necking last night."
"Probably not as heavy as it would have been if we'd not been along."
"So do you think they're doing it?" I'd asked. Since I'd started dating Joyce I had developed a sudden interest in everyone else's sex life.
"I guess by `doing it,' you mean are they having sex?"
"Embarrassed to say it, Rob," she teased.
"Yeah, kind of."
"Well, get over it. Your embarrassment, I mean."
"I'm trying. This is all still new to me."
"Having a girl friend, double dating, all that?"
"Well, to answer your question, yeah, probably."
"So you really think they're doing...I mean, you think they're having sex?
"Didn't you say they'd been dating since junior high?"
"At least. They`ve known each other all their lives."
"So, yeah, they probably are having sex. Either way, I guess it doesn't really matter."
"Yeah, Rob, it doesn't really matter."
"So how do you figure?"
"Well, as a comparison, if you and I were `doing it,' which we aren't and won't, it could make a huge difference."
"Considering what we talked about last night, I agree it isn't likely." I grinned at our private joke. It earned me a playful jab on the shoulder.
"Really, Rob, you and I want to go on to college. We want to get out of this town. We both have at least an idea of what life might offer us. But Debbie and Rich will probably get married as soon as they graduate from high school next spring. If they go to college, which they probably won't, they'll go together, live in one of those married student apartments and be as happy as a couple of bunnies." She took my hand as we rounded the corner onto Pine.
"So you're saying their life would be more or less the same whether they are having sex now or not?"
"But for us, it would be a potential disaster."
"Yes, definitely." She smiled up at me as we turned to go up the steps to our house.
We lived in a house my grandparents had built in 1927. They almost lost it in the Great Depression, but held on, raised my dad and his two sisters there and left it to my folks when they died. I can't remember living any place else. It's a two story bungalow with one bedroom down and three up, very typical of Spring River.
As we entered the front door, the odors of lunch wafted from the kitchen. My folks had driven home and gotten there before Joyce and me. I could hear their voices as they finished things up.
My brother Ted was home for the weekend and he and his girlfriend, Betty, were sitting on the sofa together looking at the Sunday paper.
"Hi, slow pokes," Ted said as we came in. "Did you enjoy the walk?"
"Yeah, big brother, we did," I grinned at him.
He grinned back. Betty smiled but said nothing.
Ted always said she'd make a great wife.
"Do you think I could help your mother in the kitchen?" Joyce asked. She'd met Ted before and knew Betty from last year at school, so no introductions were necessary.
"I don't know. Let's go see." As we headed back through the dining room I saw that the table was set. In the kitchen Dad was carving roast beef Mom had left in the oven while we'd been at church.
"Hi, Mom. We're home and Joyce wondered if we could help get lunch on the table."
"Thank you, dear, but we're almost ready. Go get your brother and you kids sit down." She was taking hot rolls out of the oven as Dad carried the platter into the dining room.
I retrieved the big pitcher of iced tea from the frig and the six of us settled around the table for lunch.
If you didn't grow up in the South you probably don't really understand the importance of Sunday Lunch. I know a big meal after church was a normal thing for families everywhere. Maybe it still is. But in Mississippi in those days, it was more than a meal, it was an institution. It was a ritual. Ted and I used to kid between ourselves that even if the Bomb was dropped or the Mississippi River dried up, our mother would manage somehow to put Sunday lunch on the table.
It was the one meal of the week when we all routinely sat down together with Dad and Ted and me wearing our coats and ties. Mother was always in the dress she'd worn to church and the menu rarely changed. We always had either beef roast or baked chicken, an assortment of overcooked vegetables, hot homemade rolls and some sort of cake or pie for dessert.
Dad said a blessing and we all responded with an Amen.
There was the usual polite conversation while the food was passed. Dr. Johnson's sermon would get a good going over and any news or gossip we'd heard at church would be exchanged. I later learned that while the menu was somewhat more varied at the Lynn home the routine was not all that different. The one major difference between lunch at our house and theirs was that there was wine on the table, not iced tea.
"So when are you two heading back to Oxford, Ted?" I asked when there was a lull in the conversation. We'd both been out late the night before and had hardly talked.
"We'll have to leave about four," he said from across the table. Ted lived in his fraternity house. Betty had pledged a sorority, but being a first semester freshman and still a pledge, was living in a dorm. As soon as she could, she'd move into her sorority house.
"Are your classes going well?" Joyce said.
"Okay, I guess," Ted responded. "I guess I'm going to go ahead and declare a business major. I don't have to do it until the end of next semester but I don't see any reason to wait."
"Good idea, Son," Dad agreed. "You know what you're doing so you might just as well make it official"
"What are you studying, Betty?" Joyce asked.
"Oh, I`m just taking the usual freshman classes, but I think I'll be going into the elementary education program."
"I think that's a very sensible major for a young woman, Betty," Mother said. Mother was very much in favor of sensible majors.
"Rob said you were planning on going back east for college, Joyce," Ted said.
"Yes," Joyce said, smiling across the table at Betty and him.
"Do you know what you'll study yet, dear?" my mother asked?
"Oh, yes. I intend to study classics and art history, Mrs. Ballinger."
Everyone was silent for a moment. "I don't suppose there's much demand for that around here," my father said.
"No, sir, probably not," Joyce smiled as her hand found mine under the table.
My family might not have been too excited about Joyce's academic interests, but they were clearly impressed by her. She was beautiful, she was the only daughter, and only child, of a local physician. Dr. Lynn might have only been in practice in Spring River for a year, but he was already well regarded. It didn't hurt in my parents' view of things, that the Lynns lived in one of the nicest houses in town. All told, my family was also impressed that Joyce and I were going steady. For a guy who had never dated before, it was as if I was starting at the top.
Later that afternoon Joyce asked my mother is she could help in the kitchen. That in itself was worthy of some points in my mother's estimation. I wandered in as Joyce was putting something in the refrigerator, her back to me, but clearly in plain sight of my mother. It was the perfect set-up for the little routine we'd practiced just the night before.
I walked quietly across the kitchen and put my arms firmly around Joyce's waist. She protested a little, just as I knew she would. I leaned forward and gave her a brief kiss on the cheek. Mother made a little humming sound behind me and I knew she had seen the whole thing.
Our efforts were also rewarded by a few comments from my father later that evening. I had walked Joyce home and came back to the house to find Dad alone in the living room reading the papers. We subscribed to the local paper and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Dad said he needed it to keep up with the big city competition but it certainly made for a lot of clutter.
"Sit down, Rob," Dad said as I came in. I did as asked, and he went on. "Joyce seems to be a very nice girl."
"Yes, sir. She's great."
"Your mother told me you and she were causing a few sparks in the kitchen after lunch."
I tried to look appropriately embarrassed, but had trouble hiding my amusement. "Well, sir, just a few."
"Well, young man, it's been my observation that if there are a few sparks in public there may be a whole lot more in private."
"Well, Joyce Lynn is a very nice girl, Rob. She certainly comes from a very respectable family."
He paused and put down the paper. "You two have only been dating a few weeks, right?"
"Well, we don't want to see things moving too fast."
"Your mother and I were talking about this art and classy major she says she wants to do."
"Well, whatever. What, exactly, would you do with a degree like that?"
"Teach, I guess, or work in a museum."
"Well, that might be all right, then. We don't have a museum but they're always looking for teachers at the high school."
"I think Joyce would look for university teaching positions, Dad, not high school."
"Well, I know her folks aren't from around here, so I guess she isn't all that interested in spending her life in Spring River either."
"No, sir, probably not."
"Well, something to bear in mind, Rob. We wouldn't
want to see you settling too far from home."
I resisted saying more and the conversation ended. But once again, I was reminded of how differently my family and I saw things.
A week before Homecoming, Joyce told me she was spending Saturday night at the Campbell's house. It was a sort of bunking party for the Homecoming Queen and her two attendants, Pat Campbell and Debbie Peters.
I knew some schools only announced the finalists for the "Homecoming Court" in advance of the actual event. Then the announcement of the queen and king comes as a big surprise at the Homecoming dance.
At Spring River, we'd always done it differently. The names of the queen and king and the two couples who were going to be the attendants, were all announced a few weeks in advance. There were no surprises that way, but at least the girls could choose their dresses and make other plans with greater ease. It was traditional for the queen to wear a white formal and for her attendants to wear pastels. I sort of thought Joyce and Pat and Debbie had something up their sleeves, but she hadn't said anything and I hadn't asked.
What girls did on occasions like that, and why the three of them were inclined to spend the night talking about the big event, was a mystery to me, but I figured Joyce knew what she was doing.
The day after Joyce told me about the bunking party, Rick Carlson came over to me in the locker room after football practice. Rick and I had known each other since childhood but he had never been among my closest friends. That had begun to change since Joyce and I had started going steady. He and Debbie liked to double date with Joyce and me and I kidded him about just liking the big backseat of my Dad's Buick.
"You hear the girls have stuff going on together this weekend?" he'd said as I toweled off after showering. Rick was naked, too, and I couldn't help notice how well his body was filling out. He and I had been part of a bunch of guys who'd gone skinny dipping together during the summer since we were kids, but the guy was definitely putting on muscle.
"Yeah, Joyce told me."
"So what do you think, you want to hang out?"
"Just you and me?"
"Yeah. If Danny was here we could ask him, too, but he isn't."
Danny Carter, who'd gone steady with Pat Campbell for the last year or so, was a freshman at Mississippi State in Starkville. He'd be back for Homecoming weekend, but not before.
"Sure, what do you have in mind?" I hurriedly thought of films showing and realized there weren't any I hadn't already seen with Joyce.
"I have an idea," he said. "Just keep Saturday
free and I'll let you know."
The next morning, as we were walking to school, Joyce brought it up. "Debbie said Rick asked you to do something with him Saturday."
"Yeah, he did."
"Any idea what he's got in mind?"
"Nope, he just said he'd tell me later."
"Probably male bonding. You know, kicking over outhouses or seeing who can drink the most beer."
"Oh, that sounds great! Maybe I'd better tell him I can't make it."
"No," Joyce had grinned, "go. Guys need to do that sort of thing."
On Thursday Rick asked me if I was still on for the weekend. "Yeah, I guess so. What do you have in mind?"
"I needed to ask my uncle before I suggested it, but he has a cabin down near Wayside. We can have it for the weekend."
"The weekend? So this isn't just for Saturday night."
"I think if you check with Joyce you'll find out she is tied up Friday evening too. The girls have something going on. I think they are going to have fittings for their dresses. I figure we might just as well head out tomorrow after school and leave them to it."
"I don't know if I can take a car for that long. And besides, I'd have to be back Sunday morning."
"No problem. My uncle has an old Ford we can use. He calls it his fishing car. And no further than the cabin is, we can drive in any time you want."
"Well, I guess I should get home in time to change for church. I'm going home with Joyce after the service for lunch with her folks."
"Oh, this is sounding serious, Rob. She's taking you home to meet the parents!"
"I've met them already. No big deal, just lunch."
"Well, from what I've seen of you two, it's getting serious."
I didn't answer. I was still learning and had no idea how to fend off comments like that.
"So are you okay going out to the cabin after school tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I guess so. We don't have football practice
or a game on Saturday so we might just as well enjoy it."
Joyce was all for Rick and me heading off for the weekend together. "I get the feeling you've never really had a close friend, Rob." She looked at me as if she expected me to deny it. When I didn't, she went on. "Rick is a nice guy. You should get to know some guys better. Just go and enjoy it."
"Okay, Joyce, I will, but I do feel very uncomfortable with it. I just don't know how to relate to guys like Rick."
"Do you realize how funny that sounds coming from the captain of the football team?"
"Yeah, I guess so, but it's true. He'll probably want to talk about Debbie all weekend and I never know how to respond."
"Just smile and don't say anything. He'll probably think you know everything there is to know about girls and be asking you questions before the weekend is over."
"Oh, great. Then what do I say?"
"Just smile knowingly and say `Rich, there are some things you just have to learn for yourself.'"
"That might work. This afternoon he made some comment about us, about how serious we seemed to be getting. I almost panicked."
"Well, just keep mum and let him think whatever he wants."
"Yeah, I guess that really is the best advice."
Friday was a warm day and the forecast was for a warm weekend. Rick and I loaded up our stuff after school and headed south on Highway One. By five o'clock we were at the cabin. It wasn't much but I figured it would be fun for a couple of days. There was one big room with a couple of old sofa beds and a fireplace. At one end there was a kitchen with a gas range and a refrigerator which made a deep rattling noise when we turned it on but never seemed to get too cool. We brought along two gallons of milk and there had been no mention of beer. Maybe Joyce was wrong about male bonding.
"Let's get the rest of the food in, then maybe we can go for a swim," Rick said after we got the place opened up. It smelled stuffy, as if it hadn't been used for a while.
"I think we should just leave the food in the ice chest, at least until we see if the frig is really going to cool down."
"Good idea. I hate warm milk."
We got the rest of the stuff in and carried in wood for a fire. It was warm but we both figured it would get cool later.
"You ready for a swim?" Rick asked when we finished.
"Sure," I responded. "I didn't bring a bathing suit. I guess we don't need them."
"Nah, there's nobody around this time of year." It wasn't like we hadn't seen each other naked before. Summer skinny dipping and locker rooms should have made it more or less normal for me, but it didn't.
"I guess I didn't expect it to be warm enough to swim this time of year."
"I know. You can never tell, though. The water may be cold."
"Is that the river or what?"
"It's a lake, one of those bow lakes, you know, an old channel of the river that got cut off in floods when the course changed."
"Well, let's give it a try." I began pulling off my shoes, followed by my shirt and jeans. "I brought a towel," I said as I rummaged in my canvas duffle bag."
"Keep it for later. There are a bunch in the cupboard."
Rich walked across the room wearing only his jockeys and removed two big beach towels from a cabinet I hadn't noticed before. It was hidden behind the pine paneling so that the doors were almost lost in the larger expanse of wood.
"Here," he said, tossing me one of the towels. "Lose the undies." Rick took off the rest of his clothes and then went into the little bathroom, returning with a bar of soap.
I pulled off my jockey shorts, wrapped the towel around my waist and followed him out the door.
We went across a small screened porch and down three steps to the grassy slope. The old screen door banged shut behind us. It was a hundred yards to the water's edge but Rich made no effort to cover his naked body. His towel hung precariously over his left shoulder as he walked along in front of me. No tan lines, I noticed. Like me, the hot summer afternoons of skinny dipping had left his body with a glowing, uniform tone. He really did have a great body, I thought again as his tight butt bounced along in front of me toward the shore. With the towel slung casually over his shoulder he looked like one of those classical statues of an athlete, ready for the games.
I made no move to catch up with him as he moved across the grass toward an old pier which stuck out about twenty feet into the lake. As he approached it, he began to run. He dropped his towel and the soap on the end of the dock and did a shallow dive into the dark water.
He surfaced about ten yards out and called for me to come on.
"How cold is it?"
"You don't want to know."
I figured he was right. It would be worse if I took it slow, so I followed his lead and dove. I surfaced about five feet from him. "You bastard, it's freezing," I wailed. Rich just laughed and dove under.
I saw the lighter form of his body in the dark water as he came up under me, lifting me on his shoulders and tossing me further out into the lake.
"You asked for it," I cried as I came up, took a deep breath, and dove after him. I managed to grasp him around his waist and pull us both under. We were evenly matched and neither of us could restrain the other for long.
When we came up again, Rich bolted for the dock. I first thought he was trying to get away from me, but he just reached up to retrieve the soap. His left arm came back as if he was making a football pass and he tossed the white bar in my direction. I'd forgotten he was left handed.
The soap missed me by five feet and skipped across the surface of the water before slipping under. I thought it was lost but it sprang to the surface again.
"Good thing it's the floating kind," I called to him as he swam back toward me.
"Yeah, good thing. They're saying you'll make All State Quarterback and you can't even catch a fucking bar of soap."
"Can't catch a wild throw, buster. Besides, keep talking like that and I'll have to wash your mouth out."
"Don't you worry about my mouth," he laughed. "Just get yourself clean. That's as close as we'll get to a shower this weekend."
"The bath isn't working?"
"My uncle turns the water off for the winter so the lines don't freeze. We can flush the toilet by carrying up buckets of water from the lake, but that's about it."
"What about cooking?"
"Same thing, we just have to boil it."
I ran the soap over my chest and under my arms and tossed it to Rich. He did the same, then tossed it back again.
"Go ahead, wash all over. You stink."
"So do you, man. How does Debbie stand it?"
"She doesn't complain," he grinned but we both washed our bodies rather thoroughly, standing in the chest deep water. I realized it didn't feel so cold any longer but wondered if we'd freeze once we got out into the late afternoon air.
We swam back toward shore and climbed up an old wooden ladder onto the pier. I watched as Rich began to dry himself, his body glistening and his skin covered with goose bumps. I realized he was also watching me, running his eyes over my body, openly, appraisingly, as I also dried off.
"I guess Joyce must be a very frustrated girl," he said with a grin. He was staring at my crotch and I realized my cock had shriveled from the cold. His was just as small.
"Debbie must be as frustrated as Joyce, fellow," I responded, looking him over with equal openness.
"Maybe we'll have to warm them up."
He spread his towel on the rough planks and stretched out on his back, letting the last rays of the sun play over his body.
The pier was just wide enough for us to lie side by side. Rich had spread his towel as far to one side as it would go without him being in danger of slipping off. I took it as an invitation to join him, and spread my own towel next to his.
I stood there for a moment looking down at him, at the beauty of his nakedness. He in turn was staring up at me.
"The sun feels good," he said.
"Yeah," I said, "I thought we'd be freezing.
I turned and dropped into a crouching position, then rolled back so that I was lying on my back next to him. There were only inches between us.
I remember when I was a kid in my first gym class. I must have been about eight and I was scared to death when I had to get naked in front of the other boys in the locker room. I told Ted about it and he said all guys felt that way.
When I was about eleven or twelve, I started swimming with a bunch of other boys at a little lake behind our houses just the edge of town. We never wore swimming suits, just rode our bikes out to the lake and went skinny dipping. Then we'd lie in the sun and dry off before dressing again for the ride home.
When we were older and could drive, we started going further down toward Glen Allan, to a bigger lake with an old floating dock out in the water about three hundred feet from the shore. We'd kept that up ever since and I'd certainly spent a lot of hours lying naked in the sun with Rich and a bunch of the other guys. It had gotten so normal I never thought anything about it.
I guess it really is different growing up in a small town. I'd known most of the guys I played football with since we were kids. We showered and ran around naked in the locker rooms, getting into all kinds of rough housing and horse play together. It just seemed like a regular part of growing up.
But this was different. For one thing, Rich and
I were alone. We were lying close together on the pier, our bodies almost
"I guess I don't have to worry about Joyce being frustrated, after all."
Rich's teasing roused me from a near doze. I turned to look at him. He'd risen up and was resting his head on one hand, looking down at me.
"Your cock, dickhead," he grinned.
I rose up just a little and looked down to see my crotch. My cock had lengthened in the warm sun, reaching its full length, if not its full girth and hardness.
"Check out your own dick, cockhead," I parried, nodding toward his lengthened rod.
"So I guess you don't get any complaints from Joyce," he grinned.
"Nope," I said, hoping he didn't press the issue too far. "It looks like I don't have to worry about Debbie, either."
"Well, it's a good thing. You know you two are considered the best bet for an early marriage by the rest of the guys on the team."
"Sure, they're running a pool," I teased. "We're figuring on you two getting married within a month after graduation and then being the first out of the gate with a kid within nine or seven or six months."
Rich gave me a punch on the shoulder but didn't say anything.
"Well, are we right?" I asked after several minutes of silence.
"Probably, Rob, and it scares me to death?"
"Yeah? And all this time I figured you had the makings of a happily married man."
"Well, it's what Debbie wants and what our folks seem to want."
"Well," I said, moving down so I was sitting on the very end of the pier with my feet hanging down toward the water.
"Yeah, I guess so. We get married, I go to work for my dad at the creamery and by the time I'm thirty we have a big bunch of kids. It's what my folks did and Debbie's folks did and I guess it's what she and I will do."
"Not all bad, Rich."
"No, not all bad." He'd continued to lie on his back on his towel, but then he moved down to sit beside me, our thighs pressed together, his skin hot against mine. "I guess it just scares me. It's like my life will be over by the time I'm twenty and all I'll ever know is me and Deb and Spring River."
I leaned back, my legs still hanging off the end of the pier, and lowered my back onto the rough planks. I didn't know how to respond. He was right, after all and, I realized, it would scare me, too, if that's how I saw my own future.
What I did see for myself was a little unsettling, too, but I couldn't share that with Rich. I gazed up into the azure of the evening sky, thinking about how different his life was from mine. There was a deep, almost frightening call from across the lake and I looked across the water to see a huge, blue-gray heron flying low over the far shore. It looked like some prehistoric creature, half bird, half reptile.
I reached out and placed my open palm against Rich's muscular back. I didn't move my hand to stroke him, just kept it there, a point of contact, a token of friendship.
Rich was still sitting on the end of the pier, his elbows on his knees, looking down into the water. I felt a tremor run through his body and a deep sob escape his lips.
I sat up and put my arm around his shoulder. He sobbed again. Our legs were pressed together again, skin against skin from hip to knee, my arm around his naked shoulders. It again struck me how warm he felt.
Rich sobbed again, and then, as if a pattern had been established, he began to sob again and again in an almost predictable rhythm. I'd never heard a guy cry like that and it scared me. All the while, we sat there, my arm around him, both of us looking down into the darkening water.
After a while the rhythm of his sobs slowed and then stopped. He was silent for a moment. Then, his voice a little shaky, he said, "Oh, gees, Rob. I'm so fucking sorry."
"It's okay, man."
I looked up to see the sky had changed from deep blue to gold. The sun was setting behind clouds along the horizon, sending brilliant, flickering beams across the sky.
"Sun setting over Arkansas," my mother liked to say.
To be continued.