SUMMARY: At a time of national turmoil, the lives of four boys become connected as each struggles to accept his sexuality and to address the challenges he faces in life. To the extent the boys succeed in coming to grips with those challenges, it may be in ways that prove surprising or troubling. This story is also being published on my blog and you can find a longer synopsis there. While some events, locations and features in the story have been moved forward or back in time for dramatic and other purposes, it takes place during an era when prejudice against homosexuals is rampant and the gay revolution in America is still in its infancy. Italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
WARNING: Sex is not the primary focus of this story. If you're looking for erotic content, you'll do much better with other stories on Nifty. While sexual content is secondary and incidental, the story does include some scenes that depict sex and violence, sometimes graphically depending upon the characters and circumstances involved. For that reason, the story is intended for mature audiences only. If you do not wish to read such material or it is illegal for you to do so, please look elsewhere. The story remains the property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author, but you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not use any of the characters, bars or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon this story in any way.
AUTHOR NOTES: This is the final chapter of Part I of this story. As a general rule, I only plan to publish one chapter a week from this point on and you'll always find the latest chapter on my blog initially. The next chapter will probably be published here on Thursday, September 15, but you may want to read this blog posting before you decide to continue with the story. As noted before, this this is my first effort at writing a story so comments and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be ignored. If you would like to let me know what you think, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading the story. I hope you enjoy it.
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 12, Nolan and Josh meet Paul, their tour guide at Williams College. Both of the boys think Paul's hot. They attend an information session to learn more about the school and then tour the campus with Paul and Nolan's parents. Asked a question about a rainbow colored flag, Paul eventually reveals to Nolan that he's gay and encourages the boys to return for an overnight visit in the fall. Returning back home to Vermont after lunch and a stop in Bennington, the boys are frustrated that evening because they don't have any condoms. Nolan volunteers to buy some the following day although Josh, fearful the store owner will tell his Mom, bows out of going into the pharmacy with him. Tired out from their trip, the two boys fall asleep quickly.
Part I - Innocence Aroused
After lunch the following day, Josh and I went into town and resumed our workout sessions at his school. I could tell I was getting stronger with each passing day and was looking forward to showing my Dad just how much progress I had made. Even Josh was starting to talk about the difference it was making and I figured he’d know better than anyone else.
After we finished showering and cleaning up the place, we started walking toward Main Street where the drug store was located. As we turned on to Elm, Josh spotted a bunch of kids standing in front of a building on the opposite side of the road. The two of us crossed the street and walked over to where they were gathered.
“What’s up, Jimmy?” Josh asked, turning to one of the boys. “Why’s everybody hanging around this place?”
It was only then I noticed the small sign swaying in the afternoon breeze: Pringle Funeral Home.
“Hey, Josh,” the boy responded. “They’re having a viewing for Anthony this afternoon. I suppose most of the adults will come to the one tonight, but some of us thought we should come over and pay our respects to the family this afternoon.”
“Jeez,” Josh responded, berating himself. “I didn’t even know about this. I mean, yeah, I had heard about Anthony being killed, but I didn’t know the viewing was today.”
“That’s not surprising,” Jimmy responded. “They just delivered the body two days ago and the notice isn’t even going to appear in the Gazette until this weekend. But my Dad heard about the viewing and you know how word spreads in a small town. I tried to call you, but your mom said you were out of town. You’re welcome to join us though. They’re going to open the place up in a minute or two.”
“Do you think I’m dressed ok?” Josh asked the kid. “I’m just wearing shorts and a t-shirt.”
“You’re not dressed any different than the rest of us,” Jimmy replied. “I don’t think the family is going to be very concerned about how we’re dressed. I’m sure they have other things on their mind.”
“I should do this,” Josh said, turning to me. “I’ve never been to a viewing before, but Anthony was always friendly to me and even helped me out a couple of times. But you don’t have to stick around for it, Nolan. I’ll understand if you don’t want to.”
“It’s okay,” I responded. “I didn’t know him, but I want to be there to support you.”
Moments later a man in a black suit opened the door and kids started filing into the place.
“Have you ever been to one of these?” Josh asked, whispering to me.
“Once, a long time ago,” I responded. “I really don’t remember too much about it.”
“What do we do when we get inside?” Josh asked.
“I don’t know for sure,” I responded. “If it’s like the one I went to, you go up to the casket, say a prayer, and then tell his parents how sorry you are for their loss. But you may want to close your eyes when you go up to the casket.”
“Why?” Josh asked.
“Because they may have the casket open and that may not be how you want to remember your friend,” I replied.
“Okay,” Josh responded. “Thanks for telling me that.”
When we finally got inside the building, another man in a black suit started pairing us up, two by two. We turned to the left and slowly began filing toward the viewing room. The place was quiet, eerily quiet, and cool. Unlike the farmhouse, this place was air conditioned. To me it seemed too cool and I remember feeling a chill run up and down my spine.
By the time we got to the viewing room a lot of people were already inside, just standing around, talking to one another but really softly.
It took a little while, but eventually it was our turn to walk up to the casket. It was closed and I remember thanking God for that. We wouldn’t have to look at the body, which would have been creepy. I never understood why they wanted you to look at something that had all of the life sucked out of it.
Instead of being open, they had a bunch of pictures sitting on top of and surrounding the casket. They revealed a very good looking boy, mostly with a big smile on his face but occasionally posing more seriously, especially the ones showing him in his Army uniform. I remember being totally overwhelmed by the smell of the flowers. The smell was almost suffocating. I tried to breathe through my mouth, not my nose.
Then, after saying a short prayer for a boy I didn’t even know, I stood up when I thought the time was about right, prompting Josh to stand up as well.
We turned around and I kind of pushed Josh over to the left where two older women dressed in black were sitting. They were surrounded by a couple of younger women and a small boy who couldn’t have been more than seven or eight. He was fidgeting a lot, just like boys that age always do. You could tell he didn’t want to be there and I remember feeling sorry for him. I didn’t want to be there either, but I thought Josh could use the support.
As we approached the elderly women, I could see they were holding rosaries in their hands. I let Josh walk up first and heard him tell the two women how very sorry he was for their loss. They talked for a few moments, then Josh turned and walked away.
I approached these women I didn’t even know wondering what I should say.
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Mam,” I said, first to one, then to the other.
“Did you know my Anthony?” the older of the two asked.
“I didn’t,” I responded.
“But my friend over there, Josh,” I said, pointing to him, “he knew your son very well. He’s told me a lot about him,” I lied. “I wish I could have had the chance to know him.”
And the truth is, right at that moment I kind of wished I had known Anthony. He seemed like a really nice kid from the pictures.
“Bless you,” the woman said and I could see the tears forming in her eyes and about to stream down her face. She looked away momentarily, trying to compose herself. When she turned back, the tears were still there but she was able to keep them in check somehow.
I clasped her hand in mine, then turned and walked away, shaken.
I exited into a room where a lot of men were standing around. Josh was talking to one of them so I walked over to him.
“My cousin was a hero,” I overheard one of the men say to Josh. “He believed in this country and he wasn’t afraid to die.”
I remember wondering how he could possibly know that. He hadn’t been there when Anthony died. None of us had been. How could he possibly know what the boy was thinking as the last precious moments of his life slipped away?
I remember hoping someone was there with him when he died, that someone had been holding him, comforting him, telling him he was loved and would be missed, as he prepared himself to begin a journey no one could accompany him on.
A few moments later Josh and I turned around and walked out of the place.
“I just don’t understand it,” Josh said as we resumed our walk toward Main Street. “I mean, a year ago I was talking to Anthony and now he’s dead. Why is he dead, Nolan? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“Me either,” I replied. “Somebody in Washington makes a decision and the next thing you know . . . .”
I didn’t finish the thought. I didn’t really know how to finish it. So I just shrugged my shoulders instead.
As we turned on to Main, I stopped Josh.
“Umm, well, do you still want me to do this?” I asked him. “I’ll understand if you don’t.”
“No, it’s okay, Nolan,” Josh responded. “It’s really sad what happened to Anthony, but it makes you stop and think about things. One day you’re here, the next you’re gone. It makes you really appreciate how precious each day is.”
“Okay,” I responded as we approached the drug store. “Why don’t you wait outside here. I’ll be back in a jiff.”
Pushing open the door, I entered the store. It was one of those places where they had mirrors hanging from the ceiling so the staff could see everything you were doing. I remembered being a little annoyed at that, but I was on a mission and I wasn’t going to let some damn mirrors prevent me from buying those condoms we needed.
I didn’t want to seem too anxious so I decided to casually check the place out. I wandered up and down the aisles looking at different things. I even stopped at the magazine rack and checked out a couple of those. Finally, I was able to locate the aisle where the condoms were kept. It came as a pretty big shock when I did.
I mean, the thing is, there were lots of them, at least a gazillion and probably two or three gazillion to be honest. Different brands. Different sizes. Different colors. Different types. Different materials. It was confusing as hell and I remember just standing there forever totally stumped, trying to figure out which one to get.
Was Durex better than Trojan, I wondered? What about Lifestyles? I mean, give me a break, I was sixteen years old and barely had a life! If I got those, would I suddenly have a whole new lifestyle? And would it be a better lifestyle than the one either Durex or Trojan could provide?
And what about size. Did I need the regular size or the large? Exactly how large did you have to be to need large? They didn’t explain that on the package as best I could tell, and they didn’t seem to have any labeled small either for that matter, which seemed closer to the truth for both me and Josh. We were still growing after all.
Latex, synthetic or lambskin? Which was the best? And what did ribbed mean? Or spermicidal for that matter? That sounded kind of dangerous actually, like something that would drive my sperm to want to commit suicide. I didn’t think I wanted those suckers committing suicide on me or Josh for that matter so I pretty much ruled those out.
Like I said, I remember just standing there totally dumbfounded. I had no clue what to do.
“May I help you?” the elderly man in a blue jacket asked. Totally confused, I hadn’t even noticed him approaching and certainly didn’t want some old dude who probably hadn’t had sex in a gazillion years helping me out.
“Umm, well, probably not,” I mumbled. “I’m just kind of looking here. You sure carry a lot of condoms. But I don’t see my brand,” I added, trying to let the guy know I wasn’t just some dumb kid who didn’t know anything.
“And what brand would that be, son?” the man asked.
Shit, I remember thinking. Come on, Nolan, think up a name.
But I couldn’t.
“Umm, well, I mean, it’s kind of a specialty brand, I think,” I replied. “I think it’s only sold in New York City where I come from,” I added. “You probably wouldn’t have it here in Vermont.”
“I see,” the elderly man said. “Well, you know all of these are pretty much the same, son. There are only a few real differences. Do you need the regular size or the large?”
“Umm, well, I think I probably need one of each,” I said, still confused by the distinction.
“One of each?” the man asked. “I see. Are you getting these for yourself or someone else?” he continued.
“Well, I’m getting some for myself and some for a friend,” I responded.
By now I was getting more and more nervous about being interrogated about those damn condoms by some guy who looked like he might croak at any moment.
“I’m rather large myself,” I continued, “but my friend, he’s somewhat smaller than me, if you catch my drift,” I lied, winking at him.
“Not that I’ve ever actually seen his penis, of course,” I hastened to add, suddenly concerned the man might wonder why I was going around looking at some penis that wasn’t my own. “So I can’t be sure exactly. But I think he might be smaller.”
“My suggestion would be that you try the regular size, son, especially if your friend is young like yourself,” the man said. “And you’ll probably want the latex since they provide the best protection of all. The only other main difference is how many you need. The more you buy, the cheaper the cost.”
“Of course,” I replied. “That’s what I was planning to do all along. Why don’t I get this large box of Lifestyles Ultra Sensitive,” I added, grabbing the biggest box I could see on the shelf, the one labeled Value Pack.
“That box contains 40 condoms, son,” the elderly man cautioned. “Are you sure you’ll be needing that many?”
“Oh, sure, of course,” I blustered, trying to come across as confident and self-assured. “I’ll probably use the whole box up this weekend and have to come back for more next week.”
“Really,” the man said, staring at me intently. “Well, whatever you say. That would be a good choice then, the box of 40, I suppose. Hopefully it’ll see you through the weekend. Will there be anything else you’ll be needing?”
“Umm, well, perhaps you could suggest a good lubricant,” I replied. “I think I’ll probably be needing something to make things go a little smoother, you know,” I added, winking at him.
“I see,” the man said. “Well perhaps I could suggest this tube of K-Y jelly. It’s very good at making things go smoother,” he added, handing the tube to me.
“Oh, yeah, that’s the one I use,” I replied, trying to impress the guy. “I just forget the name sometimes.”
“Sure,” the man said. “I understand. It’s really not that easy a name to remember. I forget it all the time myself. Anything else you’ll need?”
“Well, yeah,” I said, glad my ordeal seemed to be coming to an end. “Now that I think about it, why don’t you give me a couple of root beers. I tend to get thirsty from all the energy you use up, you know,” I added. “And there’s nothing like a root beer to hit the spot after, umm, you know,” I added, winking at him again.
“That’s definitely a very good choice,” the man said. “We can get those for you over at the counter.”
When we finally had everything together, the man rang up my purchases.
“That will be $20.93 with tax,” he said.
Fuck, I remember thinking. I only had a $20 bill with me.
“Umm, well, maybe my friend and -- my girlfriend I mean -- maybe my girlfriend and me could split a root beer,” I said. “I only have $20 on me.”
“I see,” the man said. “Well, tell you what, son, I’ll settle for the $20. If you come up with another dollar in the next couple of days, feel free to stop by and pay the balance. Or just bring it along after the weekend if you need to buy some more condoms.”
“Well, thank you, sir,” I replied, relieved. “That’s very nice of you. And I promise I’ll bring the dollar to you the next time I’m in town. You’ve been very helpful.”
With that the elderly man put everything into a bag and handed it to me. By then I just wanted to get the hell out of that store so I turned around and walked away as quickly as I could. I could feel his eyes following me all the way to the door.
Josh was waiting for me outside and the two of us started walking back to the farm, quickly. When I looked back, I saw the man staring out the door at the two of us.
“What took so long?” Josh asked.
“It was more complicated than I thought it would be,” I replied. “But I got everything we need. So we should have some fun this evening.”
“Shit, forget about waiting until tonight,” Josh said. “Let’s bring some down to the lake with us,” he added, grinning.
Oh, yeah, I remember thinking. Ever since I did you that first time, you’ve become a lot more comfortable with being gay, haven’t you, Josh?
But I knew he was right so that’s what we did. We brought four and the K-Y and quickly discovered we could probably have used even more. And we used up another two that evening. I remember thinking I really would need to go back the following week if we kept running through them that fast.
After that everything just seemed to speed up. The days started slipping away really quickly and I was becoming more and more depressed as each of them passed. I could tell Josh was depressed as well. Each night we had sex multiple times, then ended up clinging to each other, trying to hold back time. We didn’t succeed, of course, but with each passing night we grew closer and closer. By then both of us knew we were in love for sure.
We started talking about how we could stay in touch. I gave Josh my e-mail address, then took him to the town library to check out their computers. I set up a web-based e-mail account for him and showed him how to log in and use it.
“Maybe you can use the computers at your school too,” I said, “at least until your Mom buys you one. But whatever you use, just be careful what you say. The computers at this library and at school are public computers. Other people might be able to check up on you, especially if they hack your password. So be careful, Josh.”
The other thing we talked about was the phone. I promised to call Josh every Wednesday evening on my cell to see how things were going with him.
“That will be cool,” Josh said. “But just be careful what you say, Nolan. Our phone is in the kitchen so my Mom will be able to hear everything I say. I probably won’t be able to say I love you very much.”
“That’s okay,” I responded. “I know you love me, Josh.”
Still, for all the planning we did, I think both of us wondered whether our relationship would be able to survive being apart. It was going to be hard, very hard, no doubt about it.
“I’m going to apply to Williams for sure,” I said. “And probably UVM, Middlebury, and maybe a couple of others as well. My Mom won’t be happy about UVM, but I’ll just insist it’s my fall back if I don’t get into Williams. That’s where I really want to go. So maybe we could take another tour together this fall. Like Paul said, they even let you stay overnight so you can get more of the experience.”
“I’m going to apply to UVM, Middlebury, and Williams as well,” Josh responded. “I’ll let you know if I apply anywhere else, but I probably won’t since they charge for applying. But if you’re really seriously considering some other schools, be sure to let me know, Nolan. I’ll want to apply to those too.”
We took my Dad over to the school three days before we were scheduled to leave. Josh did most of the talking, explaining how I had been working out with the weights and showing him the charts that documented the progress I had made. It was actually kind of impressive and I was proud of myself.
When Josh was done I asked my Dad whether I could get a membership at the YMCA so I could continue with weight lifting. He said he was open to that, but would probably want me to work with a trainer, at least for the first couple of weeks. I didn’t really want to, but I knew he was just being a protective Dad.
The day before our departure was the worst. Everything seemed to go really fast. We did make it down to the lake and Josh and I were able to swim across it the whole way. I was proud of myself and even prouder of Josh for helping me out. But everything was overshadowed by the gloom of knowing I would be leaving the next day. And our last night together was just the worst ever. I started crying at one point and I could tell Josh was pretty choked up as well.
“I love you, Josh. I always will. And I’ll be back too. Please, Josh, wait for me. Please.”
“I will, Nolan,” Josh replied, his voice breaking. “I’ll be here waiting.”
We had sex, of course, lots of sex. There were only a couple of condoms left by now and Josh offered to let me take them back with me.
“Why don’t you keep them, Josh?” I suggested. “I’m sure they’ll come in handy with that other best pal of yours, goat boy,” I added, trying to lighten the mood.
“Or maybe I’ll just use all of them up tonight doing you repeatedly, sweetie,” Josh responded.
“Oh, please do,” I replied, shaking my butt at him.
We had planned to stay up the whole evening just talking, but at some point both of us fell asleep in each other’s arms. The next morning we went for a walk together while my parents packed up the car.
Just before we got back from our walk, I pulled Josh aside, wrapped my arms around his neck and started kissing him as passionately as I could. I’m not sure how long we stood there kissing, but eventually I could hear my parents calling for me.
I did my best to avoid breaking down in front of my parents and Josh. Josh tried to be brave as well, but I could tell he was really upset. Then, reluctantly, I climbed into the car. As it pulled away, I gave Josh a little wave. He gave me a big thumbs up.
And then it was over. We were on our way back to New York City.
[End of Part I]