The following may contain scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read this in your jurisdiction or if you feel you may be offended by doing so, please read no further. The characters portrayed in this story may engage in behaviors that would today be considered unwise and unsafe. The author does not condone such behaviors nor does he encourage the violation of any laws. Please respect yourself and your partners. Please do not copy or distribute this story without the written permission and knowledge of the author.
    This story contains some elements of an earlier work entitled The Secrets of Waldo. If you would like to read other works by me, go to the Nifty Home Page and click the FreeThinker link under Prolific Authors. I am also writing another story entitled A Curious Set of Misfits in the Nifty Young Friends section, which has not yet been included in my listing under Prolific Writers, but which you can find by clicking here.
Note: the Russian composers mentioned in the story, Dmitri and Alexander Koronov, as well as the playwright Alexei Koronov, are completely fictional, as are the numerous compositions alluded to, for reasons that will become apparent later in the story. There is no Austin Evening Reporter. All characters in the story are fictional and any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Use of the word "gook" is not intended to be offensive in any way, but it used to show the state of mind of the character using it. The author rejects all forms of bigotry and racism.

    I would like to know what you think. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to my address: chriswriter@, (this is not a hyperlink). Thank you so much for reading my story and for the wonderful support you have given me over the last three years.

Courage and Passion
By FreeThinker

“The school-boy, above all others, is not the simple being the world imagines. In that young bosom are often stirring passions as strong as our own, desires not less violent, a volition not less supreme. In that young bosom, what burning love, what intense ambition, what avarice, what lust of power, envy that fiends might emulate, hate that men might fear.”
Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister and novelist, Coningsby, 1844


    The brutal Texas sun stood high in the afternoon sky as Robby and his friends furiously pedaled their bikes along the dusty winding road leading to Mt. Bonnell, their sense of excitement heightened by the knowledge of the danger and the certainty of severe punishment should they be caught by their parents. Robby’s had expressly forbidden him from ever crossing the MoPac railroad tracks, but the temptation of climbing the highest point in Austin was just too great for a ten year old boy egged on by his friends.
    Robby took the lead as they rounded the last bend, racing to reach the parking lot at the foot of mountain, his red hair falling across a freckled face tanned from a summer of exposure to the sun. He raised his arms in triumph as his green Schwinn Stingray skidded to a halt beneath the cedars lining the parking lot. The others blew raspberries at him as he grinned. The parking lot was empty and the boys didn't bother to lock their bikes as they left them unattended under one of the cedars and began the arduous climb up the precipitous steps.
    This was not the first time Robby had climbed Mt. Bonnell. He had done so frequently with both his Cub Scout pack and his dad. He loved to sit on the numerous large, flat boulders at the top and gaze out at the spectacular scene below as his dad sat in thought, smoking one of his Pall Malls. In fact, if he had to choose, Mt. Bonnell was probably his favorite place in town, even more so than swimming in Barton Springs.
    As on the bikes, Robby took the lead as the boys climbed, stopping only once along the way to catch his breath. It was a sign of the endless competition among the boys that they stopped only once, none wanting to show any sign of fatigue to the others; and, once again, it was Robby who raised his arms in triumph as they reached the top. He strolled to a point overlooking the rolling Texas Hill Country to the west of town and let out a whoop over the narrow, twisting Colorado River below.
    As the others horsed around on the boulders and concrete benches, Robby and his best friend, JT, circled around to the south, where they could see the city spread out below. Robby sat down, his arms wrapped around his knees, and gazed out at the Austin skyline dominated by the dome of the Texas State Capitol, (the biggest in the country, naturally), and the tower of the library at the University of Texas. JT sat beside him and looked up as a 727 roared overhead to the west from the airport by I-35.
    “Braniff,” JT declared authoritatively, squinting as he watched it pass.
    “Uh uh,” Robby objected. “Continental. Remember? ‘The proud Bird with the Golden Tail.’ Braniffs are all weird colors like orange and turquoise and stuff.”
    They turned their attention back to the city below.
    “So, when’s your Dad coming home?” JT asked, his eyes looking toward Barton Springs and Clarkesville.
    “Another week. He’ll be through in Saigon tomorrow and then he’s going to the Philippines to interview the pilots at the Air Force Base there. Then he’ll come home.”
    JT nodded.
    “It must be pretty exciting being a newspaper reporter.”
    It was Robby’s turn to nod.
    “Yeah. And, if this story turns out good, Dad says he might have a shot at getting’ on with some really big paper like The New York Times or one of the TV networks, like CBS.”
    “Doesn’t he want to stay in Austin?”
    Robby shrugged.
    “I guess he wants to be the best reporter he can, so if we have to move to New York, I guess we have to.
    There was a hint of melancholy in Robby’s voice, which was not lost on JT.
    “You don’t want to move, do ya?”
    Robby grinned at his friend.
    “Are you crazy? I love Austin. It’s the coolest place in America. Janice Joplin’s from Austin. Heck. President Johnson’s from Austin.”
    “Yeah,” his friend replied. “I seen his plane once when he was here.”
    “Yeah? Well, I saw him at that barbecue place on 12th St. once. And, he even shook my hand!”
    Unable to surpass that, JT fell into silence again as the other boys threw rocks over the western side. Another 727 approached from the east, but curved to the north before passing overhead.
    “TWA,” said JT. Robby nodded.
    “So, aren’t ya afraid ‘bout your Dad goin’ to Vietnam?”
    Robby looked out across the city, his face taking on a thoughtful expression. After a moment, he replied, “Naw. I mean, I wish he was home, but he’s staying in Saigon and he’s not goin’ out where all the fightin’ is.”
    He paused for a moment, and then added quietly, “He’ll be OK.”
    However, before the conversation could proceed further, one of the boys from behind called, “Hey, let’s take-off. I wanna Coke!”
    JT turned around and yelled out, “Wussie,” but Robby stood suddenly and said, “Yeah, I’m ready.”
    He stood and looked out to the east toward Anderson Rd. He never could see his house from up there, but he always tried.
    “I gotta piss bad,” one of the boys declared.
    “Me, too,” said JT. The boys gathered near a cedar and unzipped their pants. Robby joined them and in a moment, several streams were pouring down into the dirt and needles. A couple intersected and after a few seconds, the boys laughing and crying out in mock pain, a swordfight with the streams ensued With their bladders depleted, the boys zipped up and descended the “mountain.”
    It was mid-afternoon when, after each of the boys had split off from the group and he was shouting his good-byes to JT that Robby noticed a ‘68 Volare pull up in front of his house as he approached. He recognized it as belonging to his father’s editor at the Austin Evening Reporter. Robby pedaled over to the side of the car as an older man with a wrinkled shirt, his tie undone and his thinning hair uncombed, wearily climbed from the car.
    “Hey, Mr. Sternbeck!” Robby said as the man closed the car door, it seemed with great pain. Robby had always liked his father’s boss, a funny man who did the most hilarious impressions of Richard Nixon and President Johnson, John Wayne and Elvis. However, it was clear that Mr. Sternbeck was in no mood for impressions. Robby stopped and a funny, tight feeling grew in his chest.
    “What’s wrong, Mr. Sternbeck?”
    The man looked in the boy’s eyes, his own red and swollen.
    “No,” said the boy softly.
    “Son, is your Mama home?”
    Robby glanced toward the driveway and saw the wood paneled Country Squire station wagon and nodded. The man sighed and began to walk toward the front of the car. As he passed Robby, he placed a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder.
    Robby sat on his bike for a moment as Mr. Sternbeck slowly trudged across the lawn. As he heard the muffled doorbell from inside, Robby slowly rode into the driveway and dropped his bike on the lawn. When he heard his mother’s scream from inside, he dropped to the grass and buried his head in his hands.


    Zhenya sat in the ancient chair, his feet wrapped around the scarred and battered legs, and gazed out the window at the surging crowds on the Narodny. He wished he were among them. They seemed so happy, so joyful, so full of purpose as they made their way through the streets of Prague toward Wenceslas Square. He saw in their faces something he never saw at home in Moscow. He saw expectation, he saw dreams fulfilled. He saw freedom.
    His chest seemed about to burst as he searched through the throngs of young people for Stefan. He had to know what was happening and Stefan could tell him. For more than half a year, since his father had taken his position at the Charles University of Prague to teach Russian Literature, Stefan, a student of his father’s, had been his violin tutor, his confidant, his friend. It was Stefan who had whispered of the changes coming to his country, how Czechoslovakia was gradually cracking open the shell of oppression that Zhenya’s homeland had imposed on them, how Dubcek was leading them out of the egg and into life. That was how Stefan had phrased it and, listening to him describe it, Zhenya could feel the joy in his friend’s voice and he wanted to be part of this rebirth.
    However, he knew it was not possible for the son of Alexei Koronov, Hero of the Soviet Union and one of the greatest playwrights of the Twentieth Century. Even more, he was the grandson of Alexander Koronov, one of Stalin’s favorite composers. He was slo the great-great nephew of Dmitri Koronov, one of the giants of nineteenth century music, composer of the great Christmas ballet, The Ice Prince, and the moving and beautiful St. Petersburg Symphony. He was as trapped in his world by who he was as by where he was.
    He looked down at his lap at the two most precious items in his life, the century-old violin that had once belonged to his famous great-great uncle and the leather bound book, its cover faded and torn. There were secrets in that book, secrets the Soviet authorities would kill to suppress. The secrets were precious and he wanted to share them with Stefan for someone must know them. He feared telling his father. After all, he was revered by The People. He dined with Brezhnev! They lived in the finest area of Moscow and he attended a special school reserved for the children of the elite. Would his father ever risk that position?
    He sighed as he looked out across the roofs and steeples of Prague. Such a beautiful city; and, about to be such a free city.
    The knock on the door startled the boy. He nearly dropped his
his book and his precious violin as he jumped. He looked fearfully at the door, as all Russians did when one was not expecting a knock.
    “Zhenya! It’s me!”
    The boy carefully placed his precious artifacts on the table beside him and ran to the door. He flung it open, revealing the smiling face of his beloved Stefan. He threw his arms around the young man.
    “Stefan! What news?”
    The tall figure guided the boy back into the room and gently closed the door. He placed a cautionary finger to his lips and pointed toward the couch under the picture of Chairman Brezhnev. The two sat down and Stefan wrapped his arms around the boy, who snuggled in close. Zhenya thought Stefan the most handsome man in the world with his American blue jeans and tight, white t-shirt. His thick dark curls hung over his ears and down his neck. He reminded Zhenya of pictures of those English poets, Shelley and Byron, decadent poets forbidden by the authorities but given to him by Stefan, who wanted him to know of the beauty and joy of the world outside the chains of the Soviet empire.
    “My sweet ice prince,” Stefan whispered as he ran his fingers though the blond hair atop the boy. He kissed Zhenya’s forehead and the boy opened his eyes.
    “Please, Stefan! Tell me! What’s the news?”
    Stefan closed his eyes and Zhenya became alarmed as he saw the new and sudden pain in the young man’s eyes.
    “Why, sweet Zhenya. You and your father are leaving Prague tonight.”
    The boy pulled back in horror.
    “Stefan! We can’t leave! It’s not true! I… can’t leave you! I… I love you.”
    “And, I you, my sweet prince. But, we have received fearful news, news of danger. Your father must leave this city and he must leave it tonight. And, he must take you.”
    There were tears in Stefan’s eyes as he spoke. Zhenya’s suddenly filled with tears, as well.
    “No! I can’t leave you! I can’t go back to Moscow! I’ll die if I have to go back!”
    Stefan held the boy tightly and whispered in his ear, “You’re not going back to Moscow.”
    “B-b-but, where?”
    Stefan breathed in the sweet smell of Zhenya’s hair as his tears fell to the boy’s head.
    “To freedom. To America.”
    Zhenya pulled back in shock, his eyes wide. America? How was this possible? It couldn’t be. Not he. Not his father. Not Alexei Alexandrovich Koronov! He would never leave the Revolution! Besides, the authorities would never allow it!
    “We must pack your things now. Come.”
    “But, Stefan! What about you! Are you coming with us?”
    Stefan froze for a moment before standing. Without looking at the boy, he softly said, “No, my little Zhenya. I must stay here and defend my homeland. I must fight for the freedom of my people.”
    Zhenya stood.
    “I will stay and fight with you!”
    Stefan saw the defiance in the young boy’s eyes and felt the tears form in his own again.
    “No, sweet prince. You must go with your father.”
    He wrapped his arms around the boy again and added, “Tonight, the tanks will come and we must be prepared to fight for Dubcek, for freedom, for Czechoslovakia.”
    “The tanks?”
    Stefan nodded.
    “From Poland and East Germany and Hungary. That is why you and your father must leave immediately, while you still have the chance. The arraignments have been made. Your father is attending to the final preparations as we speak. Now hurry. Where is the book?”
    Zhenya’s poor mind was in a whirl. With confusion, he asked, “The book? What book?”
    “You know what book, Zhenya. Please. Where is it?”
    Zhenya pointed to the table by the window.
    “But, how do you know of the book?”
    Stefan smiled.
    “Come. This is a treasure and it must make it to America. As you must. As your father must. Come.”
    As Stefan carried the violin and the book to the bedroom as if he were holding sacred relics, the door opened and Zhenya’s father entered the room with a pleasant looking man, tall and dark-haired, with a comfortable smile on his face.
    “Papa!” Zhenya asked fearfully. “Is it true?”
    “Yes, my son. Now hurry. Stefan has much to do.”
    The man beside him grinned at Zhenya and said in a strongly Americanized Russian, “Yevgeny Alexeivich. I’ve heard great things about you! You’re going to have a wonderful life when you get to America! You’re going to be a famous man some day.”
    “This is Mr. Bennett from the American Embassy,” his father said as he strode past to the bedroom. Stefan followed with the violin and the book. To Stefan he said, “The car is outside. We have very little time. You must meet the others.”
    Moments later, they emerged from the room with two suitcases and a violin case. They stood at the door. Zhenya still in a state of confusion looked in agony at Stefan. The young man avoided the boy’s eyes, looking instead at those of the boy’s father.
    “Comrade Professor…”
    “Good Stefan. Do not call me ‘Comrade.’ I hope never to be called ‘Comrade’ again!”
    They smiled at each other. Suddenly, Zhenya ran to Stefan and threw his arms around him. The two held each other as Zhenya’s father and the man from the American Embassy waited, the American checking his watch.
    “My little ice prince,” Stefan whispered. “You will be a great man in America someday. You will accomplish great things. Remember your Stefan.”
    Zhenya cried into the young man’s t-shirt. Stefan pulled him away and knelt before him, their faces just inches apart.
    “You must be brave, my Zhenya. You must have courage. You and I will both face great danger tonight. But, you will soon be in Germany. And, from there you will fly to America. I shall stay here and fight the Soviet tanks and my friends and I will build a true socialist democracy here, free of the oppression of the Soviets. And, someday, when you are a man, you will come and play your violin in a free Prague and I will be there to lead the bravos!”
    The American touched his father’s arm and nodded toward the door. His father gently pulled the boy to the door. Zhenya fought the tears as they stepped outside.
    “Good luck, Professor,” said Stefan from inside.
    “And, to you, my boy. And, to you.”


    “The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!”
    The surging crowds moved forward, chanting their refrain, anger and defiance in their faces as the police stood their ground, their nightsticks at the ready. From two blocks away, Ethan stood beside his parents, watching in awe and horror. His parents held his hands tightly and he could feel the anger in their hearts translated through their grip and it added to his concern and fear. Across the street, a film crew was setting up their camera, but the reporter kept looking fearfully up the street. Ethan watched as the cameraman spoke to the reporter. The reporter’s eyes roamed around the scene until they fell on Ethan and his parents huddled in the doorway of a shoe store. Their eyes met as the man looked at Ethan in shock. The boy nudged his father and pointed to the man, who held out his hands in a gesture of amazement before pointing at the demonstrators down the street about to confront the police of Chicago. Ethan's father turned.
    "Emily, this may not have been a good idea."
    "And, just what was the tip-off, Morgan? The thousands of protestors screaming obsenities or the hundreds of policemen armed with billyclubs and mace?"
    Ethan watched his father sigh as he looked around.
    "I just didn't think. I thought it would be instructive for Ethan to see the fascists in their natural habitat. I thought we would be safe here on the fringes.”
    Ethan’s mother rolled her eyes.
    “Morgan, we’ve been on the fringe since we met. That’s the problem. You’re always on the fringe.”
    “Emily, is this really the best time to recount your laundry list of recriminations? We need to get Ethan back to the Kopinskys’.”
    “Not now, son. You know, Emily, every time we face a crisis, you never have the grace to wait until after the crisis…”
    “Not now, Ethan! Can’t you see we’re trying to figure out what to do?”
    “Dad, look over there. I think there the police are coming from behind.”
    Ethan’s parents both looked up the street in the direction opposite of the police and protestors they had been watching. There, turning a corner was another phalanx of police in riot gear and they did not seem to be in a forgiving mood.
    Holding Ethan’s hand, his mother took off in a furious walk toward the line of police, Ethan dragging his father behind them.
    “Someone has to wear the damn pants in this family,” she was muttering. “This is what happens when you let poets make decisions.”
    As they approached the line of marching police officers, Ethan became even more afraid. From behind the line of police, several small objects flew through the air, arcing over the police and flying past Ethan and his parents. When they hit the street, they exploded into clouds of white smoke and mist. Almost immediately, Ethan’s eyes began to burn. A second later, he began to cough and, then, to choke.
    “Mom! It’s tear gas!”
    Even as he spoke, his mother stopped and watched in horror as the line of police in front began to charge, their shields before them and their nightsticks in the air. Ethan's father muttered, "Oh, my God," as he took hold of his wife and son and through them against the nearest wall. He pushed them down and covered them with his body as the police rushed.
    Ethan was choking from the tear gas as he held his arm over his face. He felt his parents holding him against the concrete of the wall and sidewalk. He heard yelling and screaming, profanities and insults as the police rushed by. Suddenly, he father cried out in pain and was pulled away from him. In horror, he saw his father sprawled on the sidewalk, desperately covering his face as two policemen kicked him and beat him with their nightsticks.
    "Stop!" he screamed, jumping up and attacking one of the officers. The man roughly shoved him aside as he continued to kick Ethan's prone father.
    Suddenly another policeman shoved the other two away and stood between them and Ethan's family. The first two cursed and ran on, joining their brothers up the street in their attacks. The new comer, when he saw it was relatively safe, turned and knelt beside the prone figure of Ethan's father.
    "What in the Hell are you people doing?" his mother screamed as she, too, knelt beside her husband. The police said nothing, but took a handkerchief from his pocket and began to wipe the blood on Ethan's father's face.
    “Ethan! Ethan! Are you OK?”
    “I’m OK, Dad!” the boy cried as he tried to hug his father.
    "My God," he muttered. "I have a ten year-old son! What's the matter with you people?"
    "Why would you bring him down here?" the policeman demanded as he continued to wipe the blood away. "Didn't you know it was dangerous?"
    "Well, I didn't expect the police to go on a rampage!" He tried to sit up. From up the street, there were screams of pain and anger, of hatred and fear as the police and demonstrators clashed.
    "Come on," the policeman said, trying to help Ethan's father stand. "We've got to get you out of here. Can you stand?"
    His father nodded uncertainly and proceeded to stand. More policemen were rushing up, but when they saw Ethan, they veered off toward the melee up the street. The wind was blowing the tear gas away, but Ethan was still coughing and his eyes burned terribly. He hugged his father and his mother wrapped one her husband’s arms around her shoulder to help support him. They began to walk away from the pandemonium.
    “I will make sure you people pay for this,” she spat at the policeman.
    “Mom, he’s helping us,” Ethan admonished.
    “Good luck finding a lawyer,” the policeman said softly.
    “I have one,” she replied. “Me.”
    The policeman looked at her as if she were crazy.
    “You? You’re a lawyer? A woman?”
    Ethan could hear his mother getting ready for her usual speech about how women were just as intelligent and mature and emotionally stable as men and that there was no reason why a woman could not do any job a man could do. To head her off before it started, he pointed toward a truck with a large red cross on it and yelled, “Help! We need a doctor!”
    Two men and a nurse came running toward them and as they led his mother and father away, the policeman tapped Ethan on the shoulder.
    “What the Hell were you doing down here?”
    “My father wanted me to see this. He wanted me to see history.”
    The policeman shook his head and sighed.
    “You should be home fishing or playing baseball, not protesting the war and betraying your country.”
    Ethan stood up proudly before the policeman and declared, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. My father taught me this.”
    The policeman looked at the boy with amazement.
    “How old are you?”
    The policeman shook his head.
    “God help us when you grow up.”

Chapter One
Brooks of Sheffield

“'And who's this shaver?' said one of the gentlemen, taking hold of me.
'That's Davy,' returned Mr. Murdstone.
'Davy who?' said the gentleman. 'Jones?'
'Copperfield,' said Mr. Murdstone.
'What! Bewitching Mrs. Copperfield's encumbrance?' cried the gentleman. 'The pretty little widow?'
‘Quinion,' said Mr. Murdstone, 'take care, if you please. Somebody's sharp.'
'Who is?' asked the gentleman, laughing. I looked up, quickly; being curious to know.
'Only Brooks of Sheffield,' said Mr. Murdstone.
I was quite relieved to find that it was only Brooks of Sheffield; for, at first, I really thought it was I.”
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1849-50

    "'You’ll never take me alive Brooks! By this time tomorrow, I’ll be sipping champagne on the Riviera!’
    ‘Not so fast, Porkov! You forget the champagne at dinner tonight! I anticipated your betrayal and took precautions!’
    ‘What? No! You… didn’t!’
    ‘That’s right, you Commie! The CIA always gets its man. When you weren’t looking, I put sleeping powder in your glass! Any moment now, you should…’”
    “Robby! Get your ass down here! Now!”
    Robby McDonnell slumped in his chair and sighed. Why did she have to yell at him at this particular moment? He was right at the climax! One more page and his story would be complete and Brooks of Sheffield would once again have gotten his man.
    He placed his black Flair pen neatly in the center of his spiral notebook and looked out the window in front of his desk. From his room on the second floor of the large, old twenties-era house, he could see his younger brother and sister playing some incomprehensible game with several neighbor-children under the giant maple tree. He knew why his mother was yelling for him. She wanted him to go outside and stop “hibernating” in his cave. She wanted him to leave his beloved reading and writing, his only solace in the difficult world into which he had been thrown this dreadful and painful year, and “act like a normal kid,” which meant not writing his stories. She might as well ask him to cut off his right arm.
    “Robby! I know you can hear me! Get your ass out of that room now, before I come up there and drag you out!”
    “I’m coming!” he replied. He closed his eyes with distaste at his mother’s foul-mouth. She had always used profanity and coarse language, but it had grown significantly worse in the last year. With a sigh, he pushed back his chair and gave a wistful look about the room, his refuge from the turbulence of his family life. He gazed at the National Geographic map of the world above his bed, at the framed copy of the Austin Evening Reporter with the first front page story his father had written for the paper. He looked at the shelves of his beloved books, the music stand and his violin, at the neatly organized desk with his father’s college dictionary and thesaurus and… the framed picture of his father standing in front of the historic front entrance to the Austin Evening Reporter offices. He quickly sniffed and turned as his mother bellowed, “Robby! God damn it! Get down here! NOW!”
    As he descended the stairs to the foyer, he heard a woman singing on the television in the living room, strange in that his mother usually watched her soap operas in the afternoon as she did her housework. As he entered the living room, his mother was removing magazines and knickknacks from the coffee table. The Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon blared from the television; that explained why As the World Turns was not on.
“I want you outside,” his mother barked as she sprayed lemon Pledge on the coffee table.  “You’ve spent the whole damn summer holed up in your room and as you’re white as a sheet. I don’t want you going to school tomorrow looking sick and pale. Now get out there and get some sun.”
    Robby knew better than to argue with his mother. She could turn instantly and it could get very ugly. Wordlessly, he turned toward the foyer.
    “And, turn the damn TV off. I can’t stand Joey Heatherton.”
Robby turned the volume knob on the old Zenith until he heard and felt the click and the picture dissolved into a dark green.
    "And, don’t sulk!” he heard as he turned the corner.
Go to Hell, he thought angrily to himself as he opened the front door and stepped outside from the air-conditioned comfort of the house into the late summer heat. Of course, he would never have actually verbalized those sentiments. No, Robby McDonnell kept his feelings to himself. That’s what you were supposed to do. Stay in control. Never let your feelings out.
    As he stood on the front porch, one of Brian’s friends tossed a football at him. His little brother always seemed to have friends at the house. So unlike, Robby, Brian was always cheerful and jovial. Their father’s death didn’t seem to affect him nearly as much as it had Robby. Brian always rolled with the punches and came out laughing. Robby suppressed a momentary sense of resentment at his brother as he reached out and missed the ball. It wasn’t right that he should feel resentment toward his brother for something that was just his nature. Besides, would his father have wanted Brian to be as morbid as Robby?
    The football crashed into the glass of the screen door. The boys laughed at Robby as he quickly picked up the ball and lamely threw it back in their direction. Quickly, Robby sprinted off the porch and across the yard before his mother could appear to vent more anger.
    “Hey, Brainiac!” his brother called out to him, holding the football. “Wanna play?”
    “Naw,” he replied. “Thanks, anyway.”
    “Aw, come on. You never wanna do anything ‘cept write your stories and read.”
    Robby smiled at his brother and shrugged before turning and walking on toward the sidewalk. Brian shrugged and tossed the ball to Megan, their little sister.
    He had to admit that it actually was a beautiful day. It was like Austin. It reminded him of his "childhood,” or what he thought of as his childhood, the time before he lost his father. The heat felt good as he walked down the sidewalk toward the school at the end of the block. He didn’t know where he was going, but a walk was probably the best way to get some sun and escape from the rigors of his family.
    Most of the houses along Sycamore Street were similar to his family’s, old, large, red brick with wide porches, small yards, and huge trees looming protectively over them. Roots from the trees had pushed up the sidewalk in places, making it dangerous to stroll down them if one didn’t pay attention, which Robby wasn’t. He tripped over one of the broken slabs of concrete that was sticking up a few inches, tearing the front of his right sneaker. Well, he thought ruefully, yet another reason for his mother to yell at him.
    As he recovered his balance, he saw, out the corner of his eye, a bicycle passing by on the street. Great, he thought. I always have to have an audience when I make a dork of myself. However, the guy riding the bike, a teenager, probably fourteen or fifteen years old, just gave a good-natured grin. His longish strawberry-blond hair blew in the breeze across his forehead and Robby felt a strange feeling. He blushed and smiled and then looked down at the concrete as he walked on. The teenager rode onward then turned east at the corner.
Robby looked to the south at the long red edifice of Ralph Waldo Emerson Middle School. The following morning, his summer vacation would end. He would enter the sixth grade and join nine hundred other students lamenting the end of their freedom. Actually, Robby was almost looking forward to the start of school. It would be an escape from home and a stimulation to his mind.
    As he approached, he saw a boy sitting on one of the concrete benches in front of the school that circled a small flowerbed in the middle of which stood the school’s flagpole. The boy was just slightly chubby, in Bermuda shorts much like his own, and a yellow pullover similar to his own green shirt. His thick hair hung to the top of his ears and swept across his forehead. It was almost as impossibly blond and his skin was pale. He held a thin paperback, but he wasn’t reading it. He was staring off into space, possibly gazing at the dogwood across the street. Robby fought an urge to say hi and introduce himself. He could count the number of times in the three months since his family had left Austin and moved to Sheffield that he had ventured out of the house, and not once during those few forays into the outside world had he met anyone his age. He knew no one. It was such a change from the previous summer. He had to admit that it would be nice to have a friend, but something stopped him from waving at the boy. Perhaps, it was the way the boy seemed oblivious of his existence.
    Robby turned onto 18th Street and started walking west, unprotected by any trees and, thus, in full exposure to the blinding sun. He knew very little about the neighborhood to which they had moved. Indeed, he knew very little about Sheffield, other than what he had picked up on his family’s few trips to visit his grandparents here. They lived a mile to the west, in the hoity-toity part of the city.
    Up ahead, a couple of blocks away, was Providence Avenue. Perhaps there was something interesting there.
As he approached the corner at Richmond Avenue, he heard a violin. It wasn’t a recording. He could tell it was live and it was very good. Robby loved the violin and had played it for several years, ever since their neighbor in Austin, Mr. St. Charles, had introduced him to it in Kindergarten. He paused at the corner and leaned his seat against the red fire hydrant, listening to… what? It was cheerful and… Russian sounding. Well, that was a contradiction in terms, cheerful and Russian. It had to be something by Dmitri Koronov, his favorite composer and creator of one of his favorite works, the Dance of the Ice Prince, a beautiful ballet he had once seen performed on the PBS channel back home.
    This was something new, something with which he was unfamiliar, yet the style was unmistakable. Who was playing this? He guessed it was someone fairly young as there were a few mistakes, minor and probably not noticeable to someone who didn’t themselves play. The music stopped and then repeated. Yes. Someone was practicing. Robby wished, suddenly, that he were in his bedroom, playing his own violin. There was something soothing about getting lost in the music, in concentrating on the playing, in working on the style, in trying to imagine what the composer was saying and how you could express it in your own way.
    The same piece started over a third time and Robby decided to continue on with his walk. He would remember the house, though. Perhaps, there was a boy living here who could be his friend, who would understand him and sympathize with him, who could share his love of music and beautiful things. Or, maybe it was just a girl.
He came to Providence Avenue and looked up and down the busy thoroughfare, waiting for a break in the traffic so he could run across. Up the street, six blocks to the north, he could see the huge looming hulk of Sheffield Central High School, where he would probably be going in three years. To the south, at 24th St. rose the towers of St. Luke’s Hospital and the Sheffield National Bank. He could see several firemen in the intersection, probably collecting money from the people stuck at the lights for the Telethon. A helicopter whoop-whooped overhead, flying toward the hospital.
    He waited, the heat of the sun on his pale skin, a few strands of red hair blowing across his forehead and tickling his skin. When a break opened in the traffic, he sprinted across the street to Lake Windermere, a park consisting of a green space at both ends and a small lake, a couple of blocks long and one block wide, in the middle. A chain-link fence surrounded the lake, which was lined with a number of old-fashioned light-poles. A large fountain in the center of the lake threw several streams of water into the air as dozens and dozens of ducks circled around, lorded over by two magnificent, regal swans. The houses around the park were even bigger and fancier than those in Robby’s neighborhood on the other side of Providence Avenue. The boy walked over to the fence and watched as several ducks, all different in coloring and size, swan toward him and quacked expectantly, waiting for Robby to toss them the bread he hadn’t brought with him. Robby grinned and quacked back at them, doing his best to imitate Donald Duck.
    He became lost in thought as the ducks circled around before him. Realizing there was no food to be had from the strange boy by the fence, a number paddled away, quacking irritably at each other as they returned to the fountain in the center. Robby watched several turtles sunning themselves on the large, flat boulders that lined the lake. A fish jumping in he water several yards away awoke him from his reverie as an ambulance roared past behind him on Providence.
    Slowly, he strolled along the walkway that lined the fence and the lake, gazing at the huge, fancy homes across the street. As he ambled on along the walk, his mind began to imagine what might be happening inside those respectable mansions, what types of people would live there, what kinds of challenges they would face, what joys they would have, what tragedies they would endure, what stories they could tell. Perhaps, he could find a plot for his next story in this setting, a story about the banker in the colonial house who murdered his wife and dumped her body in the lake, or the woman in the art deco house who embezzled money from the charity she ran, or...
    Robby stopped as he came to the western end of the lake. There was a large green space here. A moving van was parked in front of a house opposite, but that is not what caught his attention. In the very center of the green space, between two large oaks, sat a boy about his age. That, in itself, was not cause for attention, but the fact that his thick blond hair was long and that he seemed to be meditating was.
    The boy was wearing only what appeared to be cut-offs. No shirt or shoes. Well, it was summer, for another day, at least. His body seemed tanned and built, not overly muscled, but he wasn’t exactly skinny, either. His thin eyes were closed and his puffy pink lips formed a slight smile as he sat with his legs crossed in what must have been an uncomfortable position. The feet were inverted upward, rather than the normal downward. He was sitting up, his back straight, arms outward with his hands on his knees. Very strange.
    He was obviously a hippy. A little young to be a hippy, but he was definitely a hippy. Probably one of those jerks who protested against the war every Saturday over at the college.
    Robby suddenly hated him. He looked at the boy with absolute disgust, sitting there with his long hair and his hippy shorts and meditating. Probably some weird Eastern religion, instead of being a good Christian.
    Suddenly, the boy seemed to relax. He slumped down just a bit and opened his eyes. He looked up at the clear, blue sky and smiled before looking around. His eyes fell on Robby, standing by the chain-link fence surrounding the lake. He cocked his head slightly and a toothy grin appeared on his face.
    Robby quickly turned away and faced the lake, leaning on the metal bar along the top of the chain-link fence. He suddenly felt funny, strange, angry. The boy was one of those hippy kids, probably from the area over by the college where all the students and the teachers and the hippies lived. He probably did drugs, too. He hated him.
    And, his dick was hard as steel.
    Robby clenched his fists and gave a last, furious look at the boy. He saw an expression of shock come over his face, but it didn’t matter. To heck with him. Robby strode away along the fence as the walkway curved back to the east and toward his home.
    Why was his dick getting hard all the time, Robby wondered angrily. And, why would it get hard looking at the darn hippy kid? Why would it get hard when he was feeling such anger and rage?
    He stormed up the sidewalk toward Providence Avenue, his mood ruined, his peace and serenity destroyed. He hated the war, the war that had taken his father; but, he hated the hippies even more. His grandparents told him the hippies were helping the Communists who killed his father. Scum.
    Robby was so full of anger at that moment that, as he reached Providence Avenue, he was completely unaware of any traffic as he stepped off the curb. A horn and the screech of braking tires brought him back to reality. He looked in shock at the approaching Ford Fairlane and, when he realized what was happening, he jumped back up on the curb. The driver, an older man with gray hair, shook his fist angrily at Robby as he passed. The boy simply looked downward in embarrassment and shock. Waiting for a break in the traffic and for his breathing to return to normal, Robby consciously tried to calm down until he was able to cross the street.


    Robby sat on the edge of his bed, the only light in his room coming from  the small lamp on his nightstand. It was a warm night and there was no breeze from the open window beyond his desk. Even with short sleeves and shorts, his pajamas were almost too warm. He looked down at his bare arms and frowned. The skin was a little pink, but not tanned. He shrugged. Well, at least he wouldn’t be completely  ghost-like when he started school in the morning.
He used to have great tans when he went back to school when he lived in Austin. Everyone had a great tan in Austin. It was always beautiful weather and everyone was always outside. Well, almost always. It got cool sometimes in January or February, but not like it would in Sheffield.
    Robby sighed. He missed Austin so much. He missed his buddies, riding his bike to forbidden places around town, eating at Threadgill’s, swimming in Barton Springs, watching the bats come out from under the Congress Avenue bridge in the evening. He missed JT and his bluff and bluster, the way he was always trying to sound more impressive than everyone else. He missed the way people spoke in Texas. He missed his Dad. He missed his old life. Things were happy then. Things were the way they were supposed to be. They weren’t supposed to live in a fancy house in Sheffield; they were supposed to be in their old, average house in Austin. His mother wasn’t supposed to be going out to bars and meeting men two or three nights a week; she was supposed to be at home, taking care of him and the kids, like normal mothers. This wasn’t the way life was supposed to be and every time he thought about it, his heart ached and his stomach felt tight and he wanted cry; but he didn’t. Boys didn’t cry. He kept it in.
    But, there was something else, though. Every time he felt angry or depressed or lonely, his dick got hard. Well, not every time. But, often enough  that he noticed a pattern. And, when it did, he would hide in his bedroom or in the bathroom and pull it out and rub it until he got the jerking. And, then, he would feel better. It was a great way to get rid of the stress of life with his family the way it was now. Anytime things got rough or he started feeling badly, he could just rub his dick and, then, he’d be OK.
    Speaking of which, Robby looked down. He could feel that strange, pleasant urgent sensation deep inside him as his dick started swelling and lengthening. He saw the cone peeking out the fly of his green pajama shorts. It was fascinating, (and exciting), to watch his dick get hard. It was start off as this kind of short, thick stub between his legs and then it would start getting long, the wrinkled skin behind the cone smoothing out as it started to get longer and fatter. The thickening would start at the bottom of his dick where it met his lower tummy, them push outward until his dick was straight and stiff as one of those fat crayons he used to have in Kindergarten. Even now, as he watched, it was rising out of the fly of his shorts, getting stiffer and longer and thicker. His heart started beating faster and felt a sense of anticipation.
    Robby leaned back against his pillow and stretched out on top of his sheets, his dick poking rigidly up from his pajamas. It was pointing directly at his face, making him grin. This was his friend, the only friend he had. He had to take care of his friend and let him know how much he appreciated him.
    He reached up and turned the switch on his lamp, plunging the room into darkness. With only the faint glow from the few yard lights and porch lights along the block, Robby reached down and unsnapped his shorts. His dick pulsed as the top flap fell back, revealing his dick in all its glorious stiffness. He could feel a gentle, warm breeze from the window caress the taut skin of his dick and it sent a thrill through his young body. His breath was jagged as he opened his mouth and gazed downward at his rigid boyhood.
    He reached down with his right hand and extended his index finger. His whole body jerked with the shock of the first contact of his finger with the sensitive tip of of his dick. Quietly, he moaned as his finger traced downward across the sensitive area behind the head of his dick toward the tight, smooth sack around his marble-sized balls. He moved the finger all over his balls, noticing that they seemed more sensitive now than they had a few before when he had first discovered the joys and escape of playing with himself. With a sigh, he cupped his hand around his balls and gently rubbed them.
    "Nnng," he moaned as he sqirmed on top of his bed. He replaced his right hand with his left, gently rubbing and squeezing his balls, as he wrapped his right hand around his boyhood. Unable to wait any longer, he began rubbing his erection, twisting his fist back and forth as he pumped it up and down. Gasping with the feeling, he was twisting and bucking on top of his sheets as he pumped, letting the feeling build, revelling in the joy of making himself feel good.
    His mind began to wander as the feeling built and began find himself lost in the experience. He thought of that goofy-looking guy on the bike that afternoon. That longish red hair was kinda good looking. And, that kinda chubby blond kid in front of school was kinda cute, too. He remembered listening to the violin outside that house down the street from the school and wondering if, perhaps, there was a boy in there who might want to be his friend. Maybe...
    Gradually, all the images that paraded past his mind's eye began to morph into one image, an image that irritated him and made him angry.
    Darn it! Why did that hippy kid but his way into his thoughts? Here he was, laying on his bed, his dick hard as a rock, rubbing away and having a perfectly good time making his dick feel super good and that freak suddenly shows up, with his long, blond hair and those slender arms and that straight, slim torso, and that peaceful, pretty, almost angelic smile. He was sure pretty, almost like a girl, yet there was something totally boy about him. Robby wondered if maybe his dick ever got hard and whether he rubbed it to make it feel good. What did he think about when he rubbed? Did he think about good-looking boys? Did he, maybe...
    Darn! Stop thinking about that! Robby released his dick and pounded the bed in frustration. Why was that freaky hippy boy ruining everything?
    Well, he was kkinda cute. Maybe, he did get hard like Robby, Maybe he did rub his dick like Robby did. He wondered what the kid looked like when he rubbed it. What did his dick look like? The boy looked like he might be a little taller than Robby. Maybe his dick was longer, too. And, fatter.
    Robby wrapped his hand around his dick again as visions of Hippykid circled around in his mind, of the tanned, smooth skin, the long blond hair, that toothy grin. Oh, man. That grin was hot. That really made his dick hard. Robby rubbed faster and harder, his dick feeling so darn stiff and so darn good. He closed his eyes as he squeezed and rubbed his balls more and his hand pumped his stiff dick faster. The feelings were growing and Robby was panting, trying desperately not to moan as he pumped his dick.
    Suddenly, the feeling seemed to jump and, throwing his head back, his whole body seemed to explode. He began to buck and writhe about on his bed as his dick pulsed and pumped in his hand.
    And, then, just as suddenly as it started, the jerking ended.
    For a moment, Robby felt the sense of depression, the let down, that it was over. But, after a moment, that was replaced with a relaxed and serene sense of calm. He smiled and closed his eyes, enjoying the wonderful feeling he got after a good rub. Maybe tomorrow, after a day of school, he would see lots of other boys that he could think about  the next time he rubbed, so he wouldn't have to think about Hippykid. Maybe, he'd meet a friend. Maybe the Violin Kid would be cool. Maybe that blond kid would be...

So ends the Prologue and First Chapter of Courage and Passion. If you enjoyed this or would like to comment, please send an email to: chriswriter@ I look forward to your comments! Thank you for reading my story!