The following contains 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 encourage such behavior: nor does he condone the violation of any laws. Please respect yourself and your partners. Please do not copy or distribute this story without the knowledge or permission of the author.
    This story contains some elements of a previous story of mine, The Secrets of Waldo. If you would like to read other works by me, go to the Nifty Home Page and click on the FreeThinker link under 
Prolific Authors. I am also writing another story entitled A Curious Set of Misfits in the Nifty Young Friends section.
    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 Zorofsky Theater in Greenwich Village. There is no Austin Evening Reporter, and the city of Sheffield is completely fictional, (well, at least the American version! I ask the residents of Sheffield, England to forgive me for suggesting that their city is fictional!) All characters in the story are fictional and any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This is fiction and a fantasy. It did not happen.
    Any use of racial epithets is not intended to be offensive in any way, but is used to show the state of mind of the character using them. The author rejects all forms of bigotry and racism, as the story will show.
    The lyrics to "Love Is All Around" were written and performed by The Troggs, 1969.

    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.

You may also check out my new blog, ChrisThinker, where Free Minds and Free People get together to freely discuss  anything we want! Politics, art, music, religion, whatever.

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

Chapter Three
In Which Brooks of Sheffield Sees Things May Not Be What They Seem

    Zhenya Koronov was delighted by American breakfast food. He had been in the United States for almost a year, moving from Washington to New York and, now, to Sheffield, and had never ceased to be amazed at the wide variety of foods available in this remarkable and astonishing country. But, nothing delighted him more than Pop Tarts. He could not eat enough of them. Every morning, his father tried to convince him to eat Total or Wheaties or even Malt-o-meal, but he was steadfast. Malt-o-meal reminded him too much of breakfast in Moscow or Prague. Cereals were just too bland. For Zhenya, it was Pop Tarts or nothing.
    As he placed two additional blueberry Pop Tarts in the toaster and carried his now toasty raspberry tarts to the breakfast table, his father turned on the small black and white television on the counter by the giant refrigerator. Three televisions! In one house! And, one in the kitchen! Even for the elite in Moscow, that was unusual.
    As Zhenya sat down, his father turned to The Today Show. Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs were laughing about something with Joe Garagiola. That was something else that Zhenya was not accustomed to, people on news programs smiling and laughing. All one ever saw on Vremya, were dour faced old men and sour older women reading statistics about increased wheat production or the visit of some Commissar to a factory in Minsk.
    “So my son,” asked Zhenya’s father between bites of his Cream of Wheat, “what will you play for your audition?”
    “’Dance of Wolves,’” he replied proudly. “It will be first time I have ever performed it. Is perfect and I shall amaze Teacher Stern!”
    His father smiled and placed an affectionate hand on his son’s shoulder.
    “You do not fear could seem to be showy or bragging, since you are Dmitri’s great-great-nephew?”
    Zhenya thought about this.
    “Teacher Osborn mentioned who I am in my Social Studies class, but Teacher Stern did not. I do not think he knows who I am and I hope I can get first chair because I have talent and not because of who I am. Also, there is boy who loves Ice Prince and it would make him very happy to hear me play it! And, I would think it honor to play piece that has not been played in Soviet Union since Revolution.”
    “This boy who loves Ice Prince, is he your friend?”
    “Perhaps. I don’t know. He confuses me. He says he loves music of Dmitri Koronov and plays violin, but he is also very angry boy. I like him, but he scares me, too.”
    “What is he angry about?”
    Zhenya was thoughtful as his blueberry Pop Tarts popped up in the toaster. As he went to the counter to retrieve them, he said, “His father died in Vietnam. But, he supports imperialist invasion and…”
    “My son,” his father interrupted, “you cannot call it ‘imperialist invasion.’ Just call it Vietnam War. You do not want to offend anyone.”
    Zhenya nodded as he returned to his seat.
    “He hates war in Vietnam, but likes war in Vietnam. I am confused by him.”
    His father nodded.
    “When I was soldier in Great Patriotic War, I saw many like your friend. War is very hard for the family. You must be patient with him.”
    Zhenya nodded.
    “You remember my brother, Sasha, was killed at Stalingrad. Misha was only boy then and he was so very angry because he worshiped Sasha.”
    Zhenya watched his father closely. He was surprised. His father rarely mentioned Zhenya’s uncle, who had disappeared when Zhenya was just a little boy. But, his Uncle Misha, if mentioned at all, was spoken of carefully and fearfully.
    His father coughed and stood, picking up his half-eaten bowl of cereal.
    “I must prepare for my lecture.”
    He leaned down and kissed Zhenya on the top of the head.
    “You must make Dmitri Koronov proud. You already make Alexei Koronov proud!”

    As Ethan approached the corner of 18th and Richmond, he smiled when he saw Zhenya emerge from the front door of the big brick house carrying his book bag and his violin.
    “Hey, Zhenya!” he called as he waived. He hurried to meet him in front of the house. He noticed the hesitance in Zhenya’s demeanor, but smiled. He knew that most kids in Sheffield weren’t accustomed to someone such as him, but that didn’t matter. Ethan saw it as his mission in life to open the eyes of those around him to new ideas and different possibilities. He would eventually win Zhenya over as a friend, even as he would eventually win Robby over, once he figured out what made the complex Texan tick.
    “Good morning,” Zhenya said formally as he met Ethan at the sidewalk.
    “Hey, Comrade! How’s it going?” Ethan replied jovially, the breeze tossing his pony-tail over his left shoulder.
    Zhenya looked at him seriously as they began to walk toward the school.
    “Please, do not call me ‘Comrade.”
    Ethan looked hurt.
    “I’m not your friend?”
    “Oh, no! Is not that reason!” he said quickly. “You are my good friend. But, I am not Communist and not in Soviet Union. I am happy free American, now.”
    “Oh, I get it!” Ethan replied with relief. “Coo1, man. I understand. So, how do you say ‘comrade’ in Russian?”
    “Tovarisch,” replied Zhenya, patiently.
    “Tovarisch. How about, ‘hi’?”
    Ethan grinned mischievously at Zhenya.
    “Privyet, tovarisch!”
    Zhenya grinned.    
    “I make… new rule for you. You can call me tovarisch.”
    Ethan grinned as they approached the crosswalk at Sycamore. There were dozens of other kids milling about along 18th, waiting for the Safety Patrol to stop traffic and let them cross.
    “Are you Communist?” Zhenya asked.
    Ethan grinned broadly and, with a dramatic flourish of his free arm, declared, “I am not Communist. I am nothing! I am everything! I am Ethan!”
    Zhenya giggled and the two crossed with the horde as the Safety waived them on.
    “There is… um, R-r-robby,” said Zhenya, trilling the “r” as he pointed to the figure of the red-headed boy climbing the steps to the front door. Ethan nodded.
    “I have surprise for him,” Zhenya added as they passed the flagpole. “I am playing his favorite piece for my audition today! Do you think he will like?”
    As they climbed the steps, Ethan replied carefully, “I think it will definitely make an impression!”
    As they entered the foyer, Zhenya said, “Nye ponimayu.”
    Ethan raised a curious eyebrow.
    “I don’t understand,” Zhenya replied in English with a grin.
    “Ah! Well, it means, I guess… that you should go ahead and play it.”
    Zhenya smiled and they made their way through the crowd toward their lockers.
    However, when they were a classroom away, Zhenya suddenly found himself shoved against a locker, dropping his violin and book bag. Ethan looked up and saw Matt Hunter, the tough looking kid with the shaggy reddish-brown hair, marching onward and laughing with another kid dressed similarly to Matt in tight, faded jeans, tattered black canvas sneakers, and flannel shirts. Neither was carrying a book bag.
    Ethan made a mental note as he watched them recede down the hall before helping Zhenya up.
    “Why did he do that to me?” Zhenya asked.
    Ethan shook his head and smiled.
    “Don’t worry about it. It’ll be OK.”
    They deposited their violins in the music room and then returned downstairs to drop Zhenya’s book bag and Ethan’s backpack in their lockers before going to Home-room.
    Zhenya dropped into his desk by the door and arranged his textbook and note-book. Ethan sauntered on across the front of the class, nodding and smiling to Mr. Osborn, who was sitting behind his desk, going over his notes for the day. Ethan dropped into his seat and turned around to survey the class. Robby was looking at him suspiciously from across the room. Weird kid, thought Ethan. But, that’s what makes the world so cool. He smiled and waved. Robby looked surprised and then, quickly nodded and turned, his face almost as red as his hair.
    I need to get into that kid’s head, Ethan thought to himself.


    When the bell rang announcing the end of First Period, Robby took his time closing his notebook and preparing to leave class. He watched Zhenya stand formally and pick up his notebook. He saw Ethan’s casual saunter toward the door and the smile he di-rected at Mr. Osborn. He looked down at his desk and sighed.
    “Mr. McDonnell?”
    Robby looked up and saw Mr. Osborn watching him with a kind smile. He picked up his text and his notebook and walked up to the teacher’s desk.
    “Have you read any of your father’s stories from Vietnam?”
    Robby looked down at the desk in embarrassment and shook his head. Mr. Osborn put a gentle hand on his shoulder.
    “I understand. It was probably too difficult for you.”
    “I used to couldn’t wait for the paper to come in the afternoon so I could read my father’s stories. But, most of what he wrote from Vietnam they didn’t print until after he was killed and… I guess…”
    Mr. Osborn picked up a manila  envelope and handed it to him.
    “I Xeroxed the articles for you. I saved them when they came out last year because they were so good. They really made the point of how meaningless this war had become.”
    Robby looked up at his teacher in shock.
    “Your father was a hero.”
    Robby took the envelope.
    “Why don’t you wait until you get home to read them.”
    Robby smiled shyly and nodded, slipping the envelope into his notebook.    
    The boy was confused by his feelings as he walked  from First Period Social Studies to Second Period French. He had sat in the middle of his row all during First Period glancing up at the back of Zhenya’s head, wanting to tell him what he would be playing for his audition, wanting to see the pleasure and excitement in the boy’s face, wanting to be his friend; yet, there was the suspicion that Zhenya wasn’t who he said he was. He couldn’t make up his mind and it was driving him crazy.
    Added to that frustration, however, was Ethan, sitting by the window, constantly looking over at him, the sunlight making his golden hair glow, that huge warm smile with those giant adult teeth in that boy mouth, the laughing eyes which seemed to see right into his mind. God, Robby hated him!
    And, God, Robby was hard.
    He held his notebook across the front of his pants as he entered French. Zhenya and Sean were already seated. Ethan was leaning against the blackboard chatting with a girl. Robby forced himself not to look. That smile. It seemed to be working some kind of magic on the girl because she seemed to be in some kind of dream state as Ethan grinned and raised an eyebrow at her.
    That eyebrow seemed to say so much. Robby was not looking. No. He would not look. He sat down and forced himself not to look.
    He looked. Ethan was still talking to the girl, but his eyes were locked on Robby’s. That toothy grin was not directed at the mesmerized girl, but at him. That eyebrow rose inquisitively not at the silly female before him, but at Robby.
    Robby had never been harder.
    He was breathless.
    His hands were trembling.
    “Are you ill?”
    Robby turned and saw Zhenya looking at him with concern.
    “Are you ill?” Zhenya repeated.
    Robby felt his face burn with embarrassment.
    “No. No. I’m just fine.”
    Zhenya seemed unconvinced, but smiled in response. Sean, seeing Robby’s face, had followed his eyes to Ethan. He put his hand to his mouth, covering a smile, and blushed.
    When Madame Creneau entered and shot a revolted look at Ethan, the boy grinned and walked on to his desk, falling into it and playfully punching Sean in the shoulder.
    “Bonjour,” she declared after calling the roll. “You will now turn to your partner and practice yesterday’s lesson.”
    Ethan and Sean turned their desks around to face Robby and Zhenya, but as Sean and Zhenya practiced saying “Bon après midi,” Ethan glanced down at the manila enve-lope in Robby’s notebook. Robby was surreptitiously looking at Ethan’s face, his dick now almost painfully hard. Ethan read the words printed on the outside of the envelope.
    “’Patrick McDonnell, Vietnam, August- September, 1968.’ Are these the articles your father wrote?”
    Robby nodded.
    “Mr. Osborn thought I might like to read them. He said my father was a hero.”
    “He was. He was famous. Didn’t you know?”
    Robby looked down at the envelope.
    “Mom never said anything much and my grandparents get too upset when we talk about Dad. I know Mom was mad that he went and…”
    He stopped. He couldn’t trust himself not to start crying. Quickly, he looked at Ethan and said, “Bon soir.”
    “Bon soir,” Ethan repeated as Madame Creneau approached.
    “It was not until the bell rang for the class change that Robby had a chance to speak again to Zhenya.
    “Hey, Zhenya!” he said, allowing his excitement to overcome his suspicions about the Koronovs. “Guess what I’m going to play for my audition in Orchestra, today!”
    Zhenya smiled, but then realization crept over his face as his smile faded. Robby didn’t notice, however.
    “’The Dance of the Wolves!’”
    Zhenya paused for a moment and then smiled faintly. Almost everyone in the class had stood by then and were making their way to the door. Ethan was taking his time closing his notebook and picking up his French text. Sean, not understanding the drama playing out before him, gathered his materials and quickly left before he might be called upon to join a conversation.
    “That is good,” the Russian boy replied. “I want to hear it. I know you will do good job.”
    He turned and left. Robby watched with a puzzled look as Ethan paused at the front of the row.
    “I thought he’d be excited to hear it,” Robby said.
    “I told you he was going to play it.”
    Robby felt irritated at Ethan and unconsciously aimed his frustration at him.
    “OK, know-it-all. I just thought about it last night and thought it might be too obvious and that he’d choose something else. I guess I was wrong. He’ll probably blow me away. I’ll probably be last chair.”
    They emerged into the hall.
    “He said he wanted to play it because he thought you would like it. You wanted to play it because you thought he would like it. I think that’s kinda cool. You two want to be friends. That’s neat.”
    Ethan smiled and opened his locker.
    “Don’t say anything to him.”


    But, it was a difficult subject to avoid during lunch as the three boys found them-selves in line together. Zhenya and Robby seemed unable to think of anything to say, though Ethan did a good job of keeping the conversation going by himself.
    “So, when the divorce was finished, Mom got a job with a law firm here so she could be close to her mother and Dad stayed in the Village  and teaches poetry at this free university. I get to spend my vacations and holidays with him as long as he promises not to take me to anymore anti-war protests. So, isn’t that cool?”
    Robby was paying little, if any, attention to Ethan, spending the recitation on Ethan’s parental relations trying to think of something to say to Zhenya about the audi-tion. Finally, as a break seemed to come in Ethan’s spiel, Robby turned to the startled Zhenya and said, “Look, I know you were gonna play ‘The Dance of the Wolves’ for your audition and that you were doing it because you thought I would like it and I think that’s cool and thanks and all that. I’ll play something else. I’ve got a really complicated exercise that I’ve pretty much got memorized, so I can play that.”
    “No, no!” said Zhenya with emotion. “You play ‘Dance of Wolves!’ You love it. I can play exercise I have memorized.”
    “No. Dmitri Koronov is your grandfather’s uncle! You have to play it.”
    “Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Ethan interjected with a grin. “Why don’t you both play it!”
    The two looked at each other, neither expressing the fear that Zhenya would play it far better than Robby. Zhenya feared humiliating his new American friend, while Robby feared the humiliation. However, neither would hurt the other by actually verbalizing their worry.
    “You’re dead meat in gym, today!”
    Jack Purvis stopped by the table and grabbed Robby by the collar, spitting in his face as he spoke. His putrid breath made Robby squint with nausea. Ethan and Zhenya both stood to defend Robby.
    “Whadda you pussies think your doin’?” he sneered as he released Robby and stood back.
    “Leave him alone,” said Zhenya with a ferocity that surprised both Ethan and Robby.
    “Oh, yeah? You gonna make me, Boris Badinov?”
    Zhenya seemed to grow several inches as he looked Purvis directly in the eye and said, softly and evenly, “My name is not Bahress. My name is Yevgeny Koronov.”
    Zhenya’s hands were clenched  and he showed no fear to the bully, who merely laughed and replied, “Yeah, well, your just a Russian pussy fag to me. You’re gonna get your ass kicked in gym, too!”
    Suddenly, Mr. Osborn appeared again at the table, seemingly out of nowhere. He placed his arm around Purvis’ shoulder and smiled warmly.
    “Well, Jack. What a pleasant surprise! You know, I was just thinking to myself that we just don’t get to spend enough time together. You know what I mean?”
    “What are you, some kinda fag?” Purvis spat, twisting away from the teacher. Mr. Osborn placed two firm hands on the kid’s shoulders, forcibly turned him toward the door, and shoved him forward. Zhenya watched as they moved away. Ethan looked up at him.
    “Hey, you OK?”
    Zhenya sat, but his face was cold.
    “I have seen people like him before.”
    Robby and Ethan heard something in Zhenya’s voice that stopped them from inquiring. They looked at him for a moment and, then, both silently resumed eating.

    Robby wasn’t nervous as he entered the locker room to change into his gym clothes for the first time. Neither seemed Ethan, whose locker was on the opposite side of the room from Robby. Zhenya seemed a bit concerned. As he sat on the bench with his gym bag, careful not to look in any direction other than down. Sean was terrified , trem-bling on his bench, his hands almost unable to untie his shoes.
    Robby unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it from his shoulders. He glanced out of the corner of his eye with curiosity at Jason Huffnagle, the eighth grade hero quarterback of the Emerson Wildcats. Jason was such a handsome young man, so confident, so friendly. In the two days he had been at Waldo, as the students referred to the school, he had heard so much about Jason Huffnagle; and, now, here he was sharing a bench with him in gym.
    Jason stood and slipped his pants off. Robby’s eyes glanced quickly at the lump in Jason’s briefs. It was certainly bigger than the lump in his own, even now as he realized with horror that he was getting hard. Quickly, he looked back, slipped his pants and briefs off, and pulled his jock and gym shorts up. Careful that no one would see, he slipped the elastic band of his shorts over his lengthening dick and pulled his t-shirt over his head and shoulders. Jason had already run out of the locker room by the time he finished tying his gym shoes. With that hurdle out of the way, he sighed with relief and headed toward the gym.
    As he reached the door, Ethan came up beside him, his dark blond ponytail falling down to his back. Robby shook his head.
    “You know Coach is gonna have a kitten when he sees you didn’t cut your hair.”
    Ethan shrugged and smiled.
    “We’ll see.”
    As they emerged into the gym, most of the boys were milling around in the center, all in their white shorts and white t-shirts with the Emerson Wildcat logo. Only their canvas gym shoes, in red, blue, black or white, seemed to show any individuality, except for the variety of the shapes and sizes of the various boys. Some, like one black haired eighth grader, were tall and skinny, as if they had just shot up over night. Others, mostly sixth graders, still looked boyish, though some had feet that seemed too large, or arms that seemed too long. Zhenya was chatting with a tall, slender boy whose dark brown curls almost covered his ears. Robby recognized him as a sixth grader, but he shared none of his classes. Sean was desperately trying to prevent the cinderblock wall from collapsing. As Coach emerged from the office, all became quiet, except for Purvis, who was saying something to Matt Hunter, the shaggy haired tough kid whom Robby sat next to in Third Period. Purvis was looking dangerously at Robby and softly speaking with fervor, though Matt was shaking his head. Robby quickly turned away.
    “All right, ladies!” Coach yelled. “Line up and answer when I call your name!”
    All the boys gathered in a line and responded when called upon. When Coarch came to “Spencer,” and Ethan replied, “Here,” there was a pause as Coach glared at the boy. After a couple of seconds, he resumed the roll call and then put the class through ten minutes of calisthenics before sending them outside to divide up into two teams for foot-ball. But, as the class was running for the door and the sunshine, Coach called, “Spencer! My office! Now!”
    Ethan shrugged and grinned at Robby as he turned and ran in the opposite direc-tion. Robby found himself, surprisingly, concerned  about Ethan. Well, for a drug-addict, long-haired, hippy, he wasn’t too bad.
    The boys divided up into two teams; Zhenya and Robby found themselves on op-posite sides. Sean was the last to be picked and he lethargically joined his side. Zhenya lined up in front of Robby, who tried to explain as many rules about American football as possible to the Russian boy. However, Jack Purvis lined up next to Zhenya and simply watched Robby with amusement until the ball was in motion and everything declined into chaos. Robby found himself on his back with Purvis on top, laughing. Zhenya jerked Purvis off him and muttered something in Russian.
    “Hey, you stupid fuck! We’re on the same team!” Purvis spat as he shoved Zhenya down.
    “Leave him alone!” Robby yelled climbing up. “He doesn’t understand.”
    “Well, fuck! He oughta know we’re on the same fuckin’ team!”
    The look of fury on Zhenya’s face was frightening to Robby, who held up a hand and said, softly, “It’s OK, Zhenya. It’s all part of the game.”
    Zhenya gave Purvis a murderous look, but lined up with the other boys. Robby noticed Jason Huffnagle on the other team at quarterback, the same position he played on the Emerson varsity team, watching, yet remaining aloof. Robby knew he was giving him a chance to settle issues on his own before getting involved, but it made him feel better that there was someone watching out for him.
    The ball was hiked and once again , the lines of boys degenerated into chaos. Jason threw the ball and someone well behind Robby caught it and ran for a touchdown as he and Purvis struggled against each other, even though, as far as the game was concerned,  there was no reason.
    “You’re a fuckin’ fag,” Purvis spat as he gave Robby a final shove. Robby had no idea what the word “fag” meant. Until the day before, his first day at Waldo, he had never heard the word. None of his friends in Austin had ever said it. Then again, neither he nor any of his friends in Austin had ever used the “f” word, either. However, Robby got the impression that “fag” was a pretty bad insult and one that no one should take lightly. He decided that he had had enough from this jerk.
    “Why are you calling me a fag?” he demanded as he grabbed Purvis’ t-shirt as the bully walked away. Several boys stopped their line up for the field goal to watch with interest and hope, anticipating a good fight.
    Purvis jerked and knocked his hand away.
    “’Cause you’re taking up for this Russian piece-o’-shit. Whaddaya do? Suck his dick?”
    Robby had never heard anything so vile. He was stunned and before he knew what had happened, he had popped Purvis in the mouth. The bully fell to his knees and was holding his face when Robby stepped up and gave him a kick between the legs. Purvis folded together and lay writhing in the dirt.
    Jason Huffnagle  stormed over.
    “You don’t kick a guy when he’s down. Purvis is an asshole, but that wasn’t right. Get over there.”
    He pointed to the other side and Robby, suddenly ashamed of himself, walked away as Jason helped Purvis up. Jason said something to him, but Purvis angrily jerked away and staggered to the locker room. Zhenya followed Robby to the other side.
    “You did good thing,” he said to his friend.
    “No, I didn’t. Jason’s right. You don’t kick a guy when he’s down.”
    Zhenya scrunched up his face.
    “You have strange fight rules in America.”
    “My Dad would have said that it’s not cricket.”
    “Cricket is insect, right? They don’t fight.”
    Robby smiled, but immediately looked worried as he saw Ethan emerge from the gym and squint up at the brilliant mid-afternoon sun. His fists were clenched and his steps were halting and careful. Robby knew why and he felt a sudden anger, not at Ethan, but at the Coach.
    Jason saw Ethan approach and pointed to a place on the other team, Ethan smiled, despite his obvious discomfort. Several boys chuckled as he approached Robby.
    “Did he give you swats?” he asked angrily.
    Ethan simply smiled and shrugged.
    For the remainder of the period, the game proceeded without incident. Robby completely forgot about the incident with Purvis and his earlier fear of embarrassment in the locker room. He and Zhenya accompanied Ethan to the locker room. But, as they walked, Robby’s fears returned. He remembered the stiffy he had gotten with Jason Huffnagle changing beside him. What if it happened again?
    As they entered the locker room, they each went to their own lockers and began to undress. Some boys were already naked and heading to the shower. Robby found himself glancing secretly as he untied his shoes and slipped them off; and he was amazed at what he saw.
    Aside from an occasional glance in the boys room or as his friends stopped to pee when out on their bikes, Robby had never really seen other guys’ dicks close up before and he found it fascinating. He was amazed at the things he saw. As he slipped his t-shirt off and dropped his shorts and jock-strap, he turned and faced the shower, feeling strange and, yet, excited at the thought of being naked in front of so many other boys. He was nervous, as well, but that must have been what kept him from getting hard, he decided. His dick was certainly bigger than normal, hanging downward a bit and slightly plump along the base, but it was not like it had been earlier.
    The array of boys’ dicks before him was amazing as he walked into the shower. Some were surprisingly big, not hard, just big. Fat and long and hanging downward. The older boys, the eighth graders, all seemed to have fairly large dicks, some with lots of hair around them and on their balls. The younger guys, the sixth graders, didn’t seem to have any hair on their dicks. Robby noticed Ethan standing under one of the shower nozzles soaping his body and carefully avoiding his red butt. From where he stood, he couldn’t see Ethan’s dick and he didn’t want to seem obvious.
    It was then that he glanced up and noticed almost all the boys were carefully looking ahead or upward as they washed themselves off. However, like him, almost every single one of them was looking out of the corner of their eyes at the other boy’s dicks. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to check out everyone else’s equipment, but didn’t want to get caught doing so. Robby didn’t feel so badly.
    It was incredible. Jason Huffnagle’s dick was big. It was fat and hung downward from almost black hair all around the base. It swung back and forth as he soaped himself up. He also had hair under his arms. Robby was fascinated. Another eighth grader’s dick was thick, but pulled inside somewhat. The cone was almost inside the skin, which was bunched up around it. It seemed to be trying to hide inside his dick hair. Another guy, a seventh grader in the corner who had dark golden hair like Ethan’s, not as long, but cov-ering his ears and touching his neck, almost chubby, but not quite, seemed to be showing his dick off. He was facing the middle of the shower as he soaped his body. His dick hung thick and long downward from a patch of long, silky, dark blond hair. Robby watched it for a few seconds and then realized, with shock, the guy was getting hard! Right there in the middle of the shower! And, he wasn’t trying to hide it!
    One of the eighth graders laughed.
    “Fuck! Melville’s gettin’ boned again.”
    “Man, Zac, don’t you ever give it a rest?”
    “Jeez, Zac, is that thing always hard?”
    Zac grinned and thrust his hips outward as his dick reached its full expansion, throbbing and pulsing in the steamy air as a dozen naked boys watched, its fat shaft jerk-ing upward with Zac’s heartbeat, the fat helmet at the end wet and red and bobbing right at him. Robby was stunned that no one was insulting him.
    “You guys are just jealous you don’t have Superdick!” Zac declared with a huge grin.
    Robby quickly turned away as he realized that he could feel his own dick starting to swell. He could feel that strange sensation, that urging deep inside him, and he knew it was only a matter of seconds before his dick started standing up and everyone would know that he was getting a stiffy. Somehow, he didn’t think they would laugh over his stiffy the way they were laughing over Zac’s.
    Nervously, Robby rinsed the soap off his body. As he turned to walk toward the door of the communal shower, however, he nearly ran into Ethan, who looked into his eyes with that same infuriating, serene smile. Robby quickly looked away and hurried toward the towel bin. However, as he pulled out a towel he stood to the side and waited a second for Ethan to pull his out. As Ethan was busy, Robby glanced down at the hippy boy’s dick and…
    Robby froze and his eyes grew wide.
    It was incredible. He had never seen anything like it.
    It was hairless, just like his and almost all the other sixth graders. But, it was big. It was as thick as most of the eighth graders’ dicks, certainly hung downward as long as the eighth graders’. And, his balls were fat, much bigger  than the marble-sized nuggets that snuggly clung to him. Robby felt his face burning and involuntarily looked up. He was horrified to see that Ethan was looking directly at his eyes. He had been caught! Ethan knew! He knew that Robby had been looking at his dick!
    Quickly Robby hurried over to his bench, his towel covering his front, and pulled his briefs and pants out of the locker. Faster than he had ever done before, Robby threw his clothes on his still damp body, locked his dirty gym clothes in the locker, and hurried toward the door to the hall, stopping only for a moment before a mirror as he pulled his comb from his right rear pocket. When his hair was straight and in order, he hurried out the door.
    Zhenya was already walking up the hall in front of him.
    “Zhenya! Wait for me,” he called as the Russian boy turned. He smiled as Robby came up, but as they turned the corner and began to climb the stairs to the second floor and the orchestra room, Robby could tell something was bothering him.
    “You aren’t thinking about the fight I had with Purvis, are you?”
    Zhenya shook his head.
    He paused for a second and then, blushing, turned to Robby as they reached the top of the stairs. They moved to the side as kids entered and left the stairs on their way to Seventh Period.
    “What is it, Zhenya?”
    “Is everyone in America Jews?”
    This was not the question he was expecting.
    Zhenya swallowed and looked downward in confusion, his face flaming with em-barrassment.
    “Is everyone in America Jews?”
    Robby smiled and laughed.
    “No. Why?”
    “Are there many Jews?”
    “Well, I don’t know if there are many Jews. I know there are lots of Jews in New York City and I guess there are Jews pretty much all over the country. But, no. Most peo-ple in America are Christians. Lots of Catholics in the north and Baptists in the south.”
    “Then… you are not Jew?”
    Robby scrunched his face in curiosity.
    “Well, no. Actually, I’m an Episcopalian. What’s all this about? Don’t you like Jews?”
    “No, no,” said Zhenya quickly. “I mean, yes, yes. I mean… I…”
    “Hey, what’s happenin’?”
    Ethan joined the two at the top of the stairs. He seemed to be having less diffi-culty walking, Robby noticed.
    “Zhenya’s just asking if everyone in America is Jewish,” he replied as they turned the corner and headed to the music room. Ethan thought for a second and then burst into laughter. Zhenya looked almost offended. Robby just couldn’t see what was so funny, so he asked.
    “It’s… it’s….”
    Ethan pulled Zhenya aside and whispered something in his ear.
    “Um, yes,” he said.
    Ethan whispered some more and Zhenya’s face suddenly seemed illuminated.
    “Ah. I see. OK.”
    What?” Robby said as the other two resumed walking to class.
    “I’ll tell you later,” said Ethan over his shoulder. Zhenya suppressed a grin as they turned into the orchestra room.    Robby sighed and followed.
    Once the class was situated and everyone had their instruments, as the strings were rosining their bows, Mr. Stern announced the strings would audition first, followed by the winds and the percussionists. The auditions would take the rest of the week. Robby wasn’t certain if he was relieved or not that their auditions would come first, but he certainly did not feel confident when he saw Zhenya place his sheet music on the stand before him. As they tuned their instruments, he saw it was the First Violin part for the “The Dance of the Wolves.” Robby didn’t have music. Indeed, he wasn’t playing an actual written part. He had listened to the movement so much that he had improvised the melody on his violin and that was what he planned to play. His heart sank as he realized the teacher might not even allow him to perform his improvisation of the piece he loved so much.
    Ethan saw the disappointment in Robby’s face and nudged him with his elbow.
    “Hey, it’ll work out. Whatever happens is meant to happen. Just smile and enjoy the audition. You’re playing some music you love. Just enjoy playing it.”
    Robby sighed and nodded.
    “Yeah. Thanks.”
    Zhenya, Robby, and Ethan were the only boys in the violin section and the only sixth graders. The others were all seventh and eighth grade girls who seemed to be looking down their noses at the young males who presumed to invade their territory. As the first four played their pieces, Vivaldi, Mozart, and a Strauss waltz, Robby became even more convinced that he had made a mistake.
    “Yevgeny Koronov,” Mr. Stern announced.
    Zhenya nodded and announced, “Second Movement, Ice Prince by Dmitri Koronov. ‘Dance of Wolves.’”
    Word had gotten around so that everyone in the orchestra knew who Zhenya was and that he was playing a piece by his grandfather’s uncle. The room was completely silent, except for Robby’s nervous breathing.
    The piece started quietly, as the snow fell in the forest outside the palace and the Prince trudged disconsolately among the trees. Then it becomes fearful and deep, low and foreboding.
    Robby watched as Zhenya closed his eyes and his arm moved back and forth, the movement of his violin matching the mood of the music. Then, as the wolves burst from the trees and surround the Prince, the music bursts into the scherzo, becoming lively and joyful as the wolves dance about the Prince and invite him to join them. Zhenya’s body was almost dancing as his violin seemed to laugh with the ecstatic wolves.
    Robby wanted to cry. Tears formed in his eyes. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It wasn’t the melody, but he knew the piece well enough to know where Zhenya was at each moment and he knew it was perfect. Zhenya was good. Zhenya had no business in a middle school orchestra in a small city like Sheffield. Robby was crushed. Robby was amazed. Robby was inspired.
    With the final triumphant notes, Zhenya looked up at the teacher, almost breathless from the exertion, and smiled. Mr. Stern’s eyes were wide with wonder and he sat speechless for several seconds before finally saying, “Thank you, Mr. Koronov. That was very good.”
    “Spacibo,” Zhenya replied, forgetting to reply in English. He turned to Robby, his face glowing and saw the tears in Robby’s eyes. He understood.
    Robby took a breath and looked up at Mr. Stern. The teacher smiled and nodded, showing the first emotion he had in their two sessions. The smile and its accompanying wink tried to convey understanding to Robby about how difficult it would be to follow such an audition, but offered as much encouragement as possible.
    The class was muttering in shock among themselves and Mr, Stern had to tap on the music stand with his baton to restore quiet. Then, he intoned, “Robin McDonnell.”
    Robby took a breath. He loved this piece. He had to do it justice. He had to.
    “An improvisation of the melody of ‘The Dance of the Wolves,’ from The Ice Prince, by Dmitri Koronov.”
    Mr. Stern raised a curious eyebrow. Robby saw it and shrugged sheepishly, as if to say, “Yeah, yeah. I know.”
    He took a breath and closed his eyes.
    God, he thought. I know I haven’t been to church since Easter. I know I rub my di… well, you know. I know I get mad all the time. But, please, please, please, let me do good. Please.
    He raised his bow and began. He moved slowly through the snowfall about the lonely and disconsolate Prince. Robby knew how he felt, so alone, his father dead. Robby poured his own emotions into the music. He was the Prince at that moment.
    Then, as the wolves come prancing into the glade to surround the fearful prince, he burst into a fearful and terrified passage that suddenly tore into the joyful and happy scherzo, the true Dance of the Wolves. He, too, was dancing and as he played, he felt the joy of the wolves, the joy of the Prince that he had found friends. Robby wasn’t just almost dancing as he played his violin. He was dancing. From that very first Christmas Day so long before, when he had opened the gift and found the album, from that first moment when his father placed the record on the family’s hi-fi, from the first joyful moment as he heard the wolves dancing joyfully about the Prince, Robby had loved “The Dance of the Wolves,” and this was his moment to show it. And, as he ripped the final triumphant notes from his instrument and almost collapsed in his chair, the class burst into applause. Sweat dripped down his face and he was panting with exhaustion. Mr. Stern was applauding. Ethan was applauding. Zhenya was laughing with joy.
    Tears formed in Robby’s eyes as he leaned back in his chair. His shirt was drenched . His bright red hair clung to his forehead. Ethan slapped him on the back; Zhenya put an arm around his shoulder and hugged him.
    Finally, Mr. Stern tapped his baton and with a broad smile, said, “Thank you very much, Mr. McDonnell. Ethan Spencer.”
    Ethan grinned and rolled his eyes, as if to say, “You really want me to after this?”
    Robby didn’t remember much of the rest of the period. Ethan played the Barcarolle from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman and when the violins’ auditions were complete, Mr. Stern announced, “Well, this is certainly a difficult decision. Each of you is talented and gifted in your own ways and we are blessed with nine very impressive vio-linists. Yevgeny and Robin, you both performed ‘The Dance of the Wolves’ splendidly. Just splendidly. It is obvious that you will both be First Violins. First Chair, however, is difficult. Yevgeny, you played your piece with technical precision. It was technically per-fect. But, Robin, you played yours from memory and it was an improvisation and it was obvious that you love that music. You put your heart and soul into that and it was obvious. It was incredible.”
    Robby was stunned. Could it be? He actually beat Zhenya? He was going to be First Chair? He was Concert Master?
    “This is a difficult decision, but because of your experience and technical expertise, Yevgeny will be First Chair, followed by Robin, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Pamela, Ethan…”
    Robby and Zhenya looked at each other. The emotion was too much. They both smiled. Neither said anything. Their eyes said it all. They were united as friends through their music and this moment.


    As they emerged from the prison-like school into the bright, warm sunlight, Robby felt as if he were a new person, as if much of the ugliness of the past year had not happened. He almost felt as if he had returned to being the boy he was in Austin, free and happy. Neither he nor Zhenya could stop talking about how amazing it had been that both had played “The Dance of the Wolves” and done so with such success. They were the best violinists in the orchestra. As the came to the sidewalk along 18th St., Zhenya smiled at Robby.
    “Would you want to come to my house? Bring your violin. We can play with each other.”
    Robby suppressed a giggle, though he heard one from behind him. He turned to find Ethan with that infuriating smile.
    “I definitely think you two should play with each other.”
    Robby’s eyes narrowed as he aimed his Martian Death Ray at the hippy. Ethan just grinned all the more.
    “You can come, too!” said Zhenya. “You played piece very good, too. We can be trio!”
    “Yeah!” said Ethan, ignoring the fact that Robby’s eyes had now become swords that were disemboweling him.
    Someone from behind made a comment about Ronald McDonald and his hippy boyfriend. Someone else made a joke about him liking “Reds from Russia” because he had red hair. Zhenya was unaware, though Robby fumed, “What a bunch of jerks.”
    Ethan simply smiled.
    “Ah, don’t pay any attention. Why cares what they think? So what?”
    “Well, because they’re stupid!” Robby objected.
    “So? Is there any skin off your back when they say something dumb?”
    Robby remained silent, but fuming as they came to the corner and crossed the street to Zhenya’s house. He was on the verge of telling Ethan to jump in the lake, but held his tongue. It never worked out when he lost his temper. He was always embarrassed afterwards and it all seemed that somehow, for some reason, it was always his fault.
    “My father is not home yet,” said Zhenya as they walked up the old driveway. Ragged holly bushes lined the walk from the driveway to the steps leading up to the front porch. The house was a large red brick structure with ornate, white wooden pillars in front.
    “Do you like my house?” Zhenya asked proudly.
    “Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Robby replied honestly. It was bigger than his family’s house, almost bigger than his grandparents’ house, and they lived in Riverside! Ethan didn’t seem impressed. He merely smiled as he followed the two boys inside.
    There wasn’t a great deal of furniture in he front room aside from a couch and a couple of chairs. Mostly what he saw were bookshelves, and lots of them, filled with all kinds of books, paperbacks, hardbacks, newspapers, and magazines. It looked almost like a library. Zhenya watched as Robby looked about him in amazement. Zhenya grinned.
    “My father likes to read a lot.”
    “I guess so,” replied Robby.
    “Cool,” said Ethan. He walked over to a shelf and looked over the titles. He pulled one out and grinned.
    “The Stone Stops Rolling,” he said. “My Dad wrote this back when I was a baby!”
    “My father likes to read American poets,” said Zhenya as he turned and looked out the screen door. A Ford Galaxy 500 was pulling into the driveway. “He thinks they are good, but he likes Russian poets better. He says that suffering makes person more… artistic, and Russians have always suffered.”
    Ethan nodded as he put the book back.
    “Yeah, I guess, you’re right.”
    Ethan continued to peruse the shelves until he came to what appeared a special shelf. It held what seemed to be an ancient red leather-bound book between two marble bookends. There was no writing on the spine to identify it. Ethan started to pull it out as he asked, “Hey, what’s this book?”
    Zhenya nearly jumped.
    “Do not touch book!”
    Ethan’s hand jumped back and his face looked surprised.
    “That is very special book. I cannot tell you about book.”
    Ethan and Robby gave each other raised eyebrows. Zhenya looked embarrassed.
    “Maybe someday. I apologize.”
    That’s OK,” said Ethan. “Everybody has secrets. That’s cool.”
    The boys looked out the door and saw an older man with a weathered face and thinning hair approach the door accompanied by a teenage boy with raven black hair and ice blue eyes. Zhenya’s eyes were locked on the teenager.
    “Well,” the man declared with a warm grin, “we have guests! Zhenya, I am pleased to see you have brought friends home! Would you honor me with introductions?”
    Robby smiled at both the man’s formality and his warmth. His smile would, by it-self, have made him feel welcome. Zhenya beamed with pleasure.
    “Papa, this is my friend I told you of, R-r-robby and this is Ethan. R-r-robby and I both played “Dance of Wolves” today!”
    “You did ?”
    “Yes! R-r-robby was bolsha… I mean beautiful. Um… excellent.  I am First Chair and he is Second.  Older studyents are below us! We are going to play together now, this afternoon!”
    “Well, I am very pleased. I am so proud of you, Zhenya!”
    He gave the boy a massive hug that Robby thought might squeeze the very air from him. The look of pride and joy on Zhenya’s face, however, made him glad that Zhenya had gotten First Chair.
    “Ethan also plays violin,” Zhenya added quickly. “He is very good, too. He is Second Violin. You know his father! His father is…”
    “Morgan Spencer,” Ethan replied as if it were no big deal.
    “Is he, now? That is quite wonderful! I met him in New York! You now live in Sheffield?”
    Ethan shrugged.
    “Mom and Dad got a divorce. Dad’s in the City and I spend vacations with him and live with Mom here.”
    After an embarrassed pause, Zhenya said, “Ethan, R-r-robby, this is my father, Alexei Alexandrovich Koronov.”
    Robby and Ethan both shook hands.
    “I saw The Falcon last year at the Zorofsky Theater in the Village!” said Ethan.
    Zhenya’s father smiled politely.
    “I am writing much better play now. It will be play about freedom and art and living. No more propaganda for Khrushchev and Brezhnev.” He said the names of the Soviet leaders as if spitting. Ethan paused for a moment and said, “I hope I can see it, too.”
    All the while, Robby noticed, Zhenya had been stealing glances at the older teen-ager standing quietly and politely behind Mr. Koronov. Robby saw him blush at one point, rather the way Sean did so frequently. The teenager seemed to be glancing surreptitiously at Zhenya, as well. Robby frowned.
    Mr. Koronov noticed the glances in the teenager’s direction and smiled.
    “Ah, Zhenya. I have brought a friend for you. I know how much you miss Stefan. This is Ian. He is the son of one of my colleagues at the college. Dr. North teaches English Literature. Ian plays the cello and we thought he might be a good friend to help you with your music and maybe help you with your English.”
    Ethan chuckled.
    “Maybe you won’t sound like Boris Badinov anymore!”
    Ian chuckled; Zhenya looked perplexed. Robby’s eyes shot the Martian Death Rays again.
    “Who is Bahrees Badinov?” Zhenya asked. “Boy called me that at lunch today.”
    “Haven’t you ever watched Rocky and Bullwinkle?” Ethan asked. Zhenya still looked perplexed.
    “It’s an American cartoon,” Ian explained, his voice so patient, so smooth, so… pretty. Robby instantly liked him. Robby instantly hated him. “It’s about a moose and a squirrel who constantly battle two spies named Boris and Natasha who take their orders from Fearless Leader. Basically, its an American way of poking fun at the Soviets.”
    Zhenya’s brow started to furrow, but Ian, seeing this, quickly added, “I’m sure that there must be cartoons or TV shows in Russia that poke fun at how funny Americans can be sometimes.”
    Zhenya thought for a moment and then grinned.
    “Yes, there…”
    Ethan excitedly interrupted.
    “Oh, please! Say, ‘We must find Moose and Squirrel!’ Please!”
    Robby wanted to slap the snot out of Ethan, but Ian was grinning, as was Mr. Koronov. Zhenya smiled shyly and played along.
    “Ve must find Moose and Squirrel!”
    Ethan and Ian broke into hysterical laughter and even Robby had to fight the urge to laugh.
    “You sound just like him!” Ethan coughed between laughs.
    Zhenya grinned.
    “Maybe I should not change accent.”
    “That’s OK,” said Ian. “Give me a month or two and I’ll have you sounding more American than Ethan and Robby!”
    Zhenya and Ethan both grinned , but Robby wasn’t too certain he was pleased about that. He rather liked Zhenya’s accent, especially the way he trilled the “r” when saying “R-r-robby.”
    “Well, Zhenya, why do you not show your new friends to your room?” Mr. Koronov said. “I shall make tea.”
    “Yes!” Zhenya enthused. “Come!”
    Zhenya, carrying his violin and book bag, hurried to the stairs in the foyer. Robby and Ethan followed with their violins, with Ian behind them. Robby glanced back at the handsome teenager as they climbed the stairs, at his shiny black hair, the almost alabaster skin of his face, the high cheekbones, the thin eyebrows, the sweet smile, the ice-blue eyes that were locked on Robby’s butt.
    Wait a minute! What’s wrong with my butt, Robby asked himself. Why’s he staring at my butt? What’s the matter with this goon?
    There was not much furniture in the huge old house. As the boys passed one of the empty bedrooms, Robby looked in and saw nothing but a table and chair and a large electronic-looking apparatus.
    “What’s that?”
    Zhenya stopped and looked to see at what Robby was pointing.
    “Ah. That is… um…pig radio. Papa likes to talk to pig radio people around world.”
    Ethan laughed again.
    “You mean ‘ham’ radio!”
    Zhenya nodded.
    “Yes. Papa talks to lots of people.”
    Robby broke into his “Brooks of Sheffield” mode as his suspicions seemed to be confirmed. Perhaps, Alexei Koronov was a real-life Boris Badinov. He really was a spy!
    “Can he talk to people in the Soviet Union?” he asked carefully. Ethan noticed the note of suspicion in Robby’s voice.
    “Yes,” Zhenya replied innocently. “But, he must be careful.”
    I’ll bet, Robby thought sarcastically.
    “People he talks to might be arrested by KGB. He helps people escape Soviet Union like Stefan help us escape Czechoslovakia.”
    Zhenya’s face suddenly fell at the mention of Stefan and he quickly turned to lead the other’s to his bedroom in the back.
    “So, how come you were in Czechoslovakia?” Ethan asked as they entered the sparsely furnished room.
    “Papa was sent to teach Russian literature at University. But, real reason is KGB sent him to spy on… enemies of state.”
    A-ha! Thought Robby.
    “But, Papa was, how you say, twice spy.”
    “You mean ‘double agent?’” Ethan asked.
    Zhenya nodded.
    “He was helping the studyents and Dubcek’s people as they try to make Czechoslovakia free country.”
    Zhenya’s face fell again.
    “What happened to Stefan after the invasion?” Ian asked. Zhenya’s eyes became moist.
    “We don’t know. Papa tries to learn. Americansky Embassy try to find him, but can’t. Maybe he is in prison. Maybe… maybe he is dead.”
    Ethan bit his lip. Robby fought the urge to rush over to Zhenya and hug him. Ian, however, did not. He stepped up to the Russian boy and wrapped an arm around him. Suddenly, Zhenya turned to the complete stranger, taller than him, older than him, and wrapped his arms around him, stifling his sobs. Ethan and Robby looked at each other, Robby concerned. Ethan smiled understandingly and Robby felt a sudden flash of affection for Hippykid.
    After a moment, Zhenya pulled back, embarrassed at the display of emotion. His face was level with Ian’s shoulders and the older boy put a gentle hand on Zhenya’s right shoulder as his thumb brushed away the tears on his cheek. Their eyes met and it almost seemed to Zhenya as if they were in love.
    However, just as quickly as the moment began, it ended. Zhenya pulled back and said, “I have idea! “Let us play ‘Dance of Wolves’ for Ian!”
    Robby smiled. “Good idea!”
    Ethan said, “Can I look at your sheet music? I’ve never played it before.”
    “Yes. Ethan is good violinist, too. He is Second Violin in Orchestra.”
    Ian smiled and said, “Ethan looks like he has lots of talents.”
    Robby saw both boys give each other strange, knowing smiles. There was just way too much going on here that he couldn’t figure out.
    Zhenya pulled his music stand from the corner and set it in the center of the nearly empty room. He pulled out the music as the other two prepared their violins. Ian sat on the bed and when the three were ready, Zhenya and Ethan played the First Violin part from the sheet music, Ethan sight reading it for the first time, as Robby played his im-provisation. Robby glanced up several times and saw a strange expression on Ian’s face. The teenager seemed engrossed, watching each boy as if under a microscope. It was very disconcerting for him, but he played on, feeling that he was not giving the piece the love and attention he had in the audition.
    However, when the three played the final triumphant notes and lowered their in-struments, he saw Zhenya’s father standing in the doorway, his eyes moist, a look of supreme joy on his face.
    “My father never allowed us to speak of Uncle Dima. I never heard his music un-til Prague. But, to hear my son play his work today is proud moment. What joy to hear his music played by my son and his friends with such love.”
    Robby blushed and Zhenya’s face glowed. Even Ethan seemed moved.
    “We are truly fortunate that you have such friends here in America,” said Mr. Koronov. “Come. We have tea to celebrate.”


    It had been quite a day for Robby and as he sat at his desk, surrounded by the safe and familiar objects of his room, under the soft light of his desk lamp, he felt a strange sense of peace and serenity that he hadn’t felt in many months, if not since before the death of his father. His homework complete, he was outlining his newest story, “Brooks of Sheffield and the Neighborhood Spy,” in which his hero, twelve year-old Theophilus Brooks, boy genius and secret agent discovers that a Russian defector is really a spy try-ing to recruit students at a local college. He set his Flair pen down on the spiral and al-lowed his eyes to look in the direction of the window before him, focusing on nothing in the inky blackness beyond.
    He felt a bit silly to have thought it possible that Zhenya and his father were Rus-sian spies. It wasn’t quite so off-the-wall to think that Ethan and his family could be So-viet collaborators, but after such an emotional day and after meeting Alexei Koronov, Robby knew he had just let his imagination run wild. Well, at least he had gotten a good story idea out of it all.
    Robby turned on the little Sony transistor radio sitting at the side of his desk. He liked to write in silence because his mind too often became distracted. But, he was tired and a little music might be nice.
    “… so remember, it’s Clearasil when you have to look your best. OK, Sheffield, it’s ten forty-two and you got Randy Andy here on Boss Radio WSFQ and here’s a dedication for all you Waldos out there, from Jason to Jennifer at Emerson Middle School. It’s the new one from The Troggs , “Love is All Around You,” right here on the mighty seven-ninety!”
    Robby wondered if it was Jason Huffnagle  who had called  in the dedication. He seemed to have lots of girlfriends. Maybe one of them was named Jennifer.
    Jason Huffnagle. What a neat guy. He was always cool with everyone. Never pushing anyone around or acting like a bully. He sure looked cool naked, with those cool looking muscles and that cool looking dick. Yeah, Jason’s dick was cool. He wondered what it looked like hard. He wondered if Jason rubbed it the way Robby rubbed his. He probably did. Maybe Jennifer rubbed it for him, too. Oh, wow. What a hot idea. Jennifer rubbing Jason’s dick. Jennifer was probably that blond girl with the big boobies that Jason was talking to by his locker that afternoon. Wouldn’t it be cool to watch when Jason and Jennifer were naked and Jason was feeling Jennifer’s boobies and she was feeling Jason’s dick? That would be so hot.
    Or, Zac Melville! Now that was wild, Zac getting a stiffy in the shower. Not only that, but showing it off, acting like he was proud of it! What did that one guy call it, pop-ping a boner? Robby had never heard that before. It sounded so nasty and dirty and… well exciting. Popping a boner. Popping a boner.
    Robby was popping a boner just thinking about the phrase, ‘popping a boner.” Well, he already had a boner. He had gotten a boner when he first thought about Jason Huffnagle.

“I see your face before me
As I lay on my bed
I cannot get to thinking
Of all the things you said”

    Hmm. Did Jason and Jennifer ever lay on the bed making out? Did Jason ever saying cool and sophisticated like that to Jennifer? Would he ever get to do anything like that? Probably not, Robby thought ruefully. Girls were pretty stupid. They just laughed and giggled and acted silly. Now, if he found a smart girl who didn’t act silly and maybe didn’t care if she was popular and had to wear the right clothes and everything. She’d have blond hair, maybe dark blond hair, pulled back in a ponytail. He could lay on the bed with her and make out. He wouldn’t mind that. Yeah. He’d like to make out with… Ethan?
    Oh, my God! That was Ethan he was describing! Gross! God, how nasty was that?

“It's written in the wind
Oh everywhere I go
So if you really love me
Come on and let it show
Come on and let it,
Come on and let it,
Come on and let it,
Come on and let it show”

    Angrily, he pushed his chair back and stood. He walked over to this dresser and pulled out his pajamas. He thought about a shower, but he just didn’t feel like it. He was irritated and feeling rebellious. His mother would get all torqued if she knew, but so what. That’s what made rebellion fun. He’d shower in the morning.
    Darn Ethan Spencer. Always ruining everything. OK, he wasn’t a total hippy-freak loser. But, he sure had to stick his nose into everything. It would have been so nice if Ethan hadn’t come along when he went to Zhenya’s that afternoon. He and Zhenya could have played “The Dance of the Wolves” for Ian and Zhenya’s dad and it would have been so cool.
    Zhenya. Now there was a good guy. Zhenya was going to be a great friend, if Ethan would just butt out, darn it. And, that weird Ian guy. There was something about Ian. It reminded him of Ethan. They gave each other that weird look, too; like they knew a secret and weren’t going to share it with anyone.
    Robby had removed his shirt and was unfastening his belt as he kicked off his loafers. His dick was still hard. In fact, thinking about Ethan and Ian had made it even harder. Man, that was weird. Maybe if he thought about Zhenya.
    Wait, though. He hadn’t seen Zhenya’s dick in the shower. That was weird. How did he miss that?  Well, that was OK. Zhenya wasn’t the kind of guy you would want to think about in that way, anyway. He was a nice guy. Zhenya was special. He and Robby both loved music and they both loved “The Dance of the Wolves.” That look Zhenya gave him after he played his audition piece, it was like they were brothers or something.
    Robby was naked and his dick was still hard and a rock, hard as a bone. It stood up at like a forty-five degree angle. Robby looked at it, feeling a special thrill at being naked and hard. He looked carefully around the base of his dick and around his balls to see if he had any hair like the older guys in the shower, but he saw nothing. He was disappointed, but in a way, he was rather glad. He wasn’t certain he liked the idea of hair growing around his dick. Well, it looked cool on Jason and it looked really cool on Zac.
    He walked over to his bed and laid his pajamas on the cover beside his pillow. His boner leading the way, he went to his desk and turned off his lamp and, in only the ambient light of night from his window, walked back naked to his bed. He pulled the covers back and felt an illicit thrill as he climbed into bed naked, slipping his pajamas under the cover with him, just in case he needed to climb into them quickly.
    The coolness of the sheets against his naked skin was delicious as he wriggled into a comfortable position, his boner pressing rigidly against the sheet and blanket above him. A cool breeze swept over him from the window as the tune for “Love is All Around” continued to play in his head. He wondered if there were other boys who liked the song, or who enjoyed classical music in the way he did, or who felt the things he felt when he lay in bed in the dark. Zac Melville probably got the boners. He seemed like he was probably a sex maniac. Hippy Ethan probably did, too. His dick throbbed as he thought of Zac and Ethan, but quickly tried to put them out of his mind. Zhenya certainly felt the love for music he felt, probably far more so than he. Did Zhenya get the other feelings? Probably not. Zhenya was too nice, too special, too good. He wasn’t  a pervert.
    Was that what he was? Was Robby a pervert? He got hard thinking about how cute other boys were. Did that make him a pervert?
    He felt a sudden wave of disgust overwhelm  him, yet a surge in his dick, as well. Why did he get hard every time he was mad or irritated or feeling badly? Maybe it was his body’s way of giving him a way to change his mind or to think of something else. Maybe his body did it deliberately. Maybe whenever he got mad, all he had to do was think about getting a boner and he would feel better.
    That was sick.
    Well, maybe not.
    Robby sighed. He was too tired to worry about it and his dick was too hard to ig-nore. He reached downward and wrapped his hand around it, sighing with pleasure as a surge of feeling burst from his dick and pushed deep into him.
    “Ahhhh,” he moaned as his hand started rubbing his boner.
    Boner. What a cool word to describe when his dick got hard. Boner. Just saying it, just thinking it made him feel so… so sexy. Yeah. Boner. It made him feel sexy. Gosh, Zac’s boner was sure big, so fat and hard, and he had all that hair around it, kinda blond, kinda brown. It stood up so high, so hard.
    Robby was rubbing his boner so fast. His hips worked into the mattress of his bed as he threw his head back and found himself lost in the marvelous feelings he was pro-ducing.
    Zac looked so much like Ethan, maybe a little shorter and not as slender. But, his hair was the same color and Ethan dick soft looked almost as big as Zac’s hard. Ethan’s dick. Ethan’s big, beautiful dick.
    No. He couldn’t think about Ethan. He could think about Zac,  but not Ethan. No, he couldn’t think about that long, fat dick, how white the shaft looked, how pink the sen-sitive area looked, the cute way the cone at the end flared out, the way it swung back and forth as he stood at the towel bin, the smooth fat balls behind the dick, the smooth skin above his dick.
    Oh, God. Ethan. He couldn’t help it. He felt a surge, a super surge as he gave in and let his thoughts flow over Ethan. Ethan. Beautiful Ethan. His long golden hair glowing in the sunlight, that beautiful, serene smile. He always seemed so serene, so peaceful, so pretty. His lips looked so kissable. Oh, yeah. Kissing Ethan. Oh, yeah. He wanted to kiss Ethan and feel his dick. Oh, yeah. Feeling Ethan’s dick. God, it had to be prettier and hotter than Zac’s boner. Ethan’s boner. Oh, yeah. Ethan’s big long fat hard dick. Oh, yeah, feeling it, feeling Ethan’s boner. Kissing him. Kissing his lips, feeling his boner.
    Robby was wild. He writhed and twisted  under the covers as he wildly rubbed his boner with all the energy he could. He was moaning and he knew he had to be quiet, but he just couldn’t stop until, finally, he felt his whole body seem to explode. He was jerking and quaking and twisting and bucking until, finally, he collapsed, panting and exhausted.
    My God, he thought. Rubbing was never like that! Oh, my God! That was boss!
    He lay for a moment panting, waiting for his breathing to slow until he could think straight. It was only then that he noticed something funny. His hand was wet.
    Oh, no! Did he wet himself?
    He pulled his hand out from under the covers. It was too dark to see. He leaned over and carefully, with only the tips of his fingers, turned the switch on the lamp by his bed. Carefully, he examined his right hand.
    Yes, there was definitely something wet on his index finger and next to his thumb. But, it didn’t look like pee. It was too thick. Not real thick, but thicker than pee. It didn’t smell like pee, either. He lifted the covers up and pushed them down, exposing his waist and his still rigid boner. It stood up stiffly, pointing directly at his face, and…
    …the tip was wet.
    Yes, something definitely had come out of his dick. It must have been during the explosion. He could feel his dick pumping. It was like something deep inside him was pumping. That must have been it.
    He pulled a Kleenex from the box beside his bed and wiped himself off. Turning off the lamp and pulling the covers back over himself, he marveled at the incredible thing that had just happened to him. It was amazing. It sure was something, he was going tohave to do it again. Oh, yeah, again… maybe in the morning… before school… after school… he’d have to check out all the dicks in the shower again… Ethan’s dick… Ethan… Ethan…

And, so ends, finally, Chapter Three, I hop
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