The following contains scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read this in your area or if you feel you may be offended by doing so, please do not continue. This story is complete fiction and any similarities between the story and reality are purely coincidental. There is no Madison, Oklahoma. Some of the characters in this story may engage in behavior which could be construed as illegal or unsafe. This is not an endorsement of such behavior. The author does not condone the violation of any law, not does he encourage unsafe behavior. Please do not copy or post this story without the knowledge or consent of the author.
Please send any comments to my new address, chriswriter @ operamail.com. Thank you for reading my story. If you like it, please let others know about it.
If you would be interested in reading other stories I have written, you may find them under the Prolific Writers link on the Nifty home page. They include A Canterbury Tale, The Moon in Your Eyes, Odyssey, Centennial Park, and The Secrets of Waldo. I hope to resume The Secrets of Waldo when I have completed A Curious Set of Misfits, and I invite you to check it out. If you would like me to resume it, please let me know by writing to my current address: chriswriter @ operamail.com. Thank you very, very much!
A Curious Set of Misfits
“Sitting on the side. Waiting for a sign. Hoping that my luck will change.
Reaching for a hand that can understand someone who feels the same.
When you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin.
So you don't stand out and you don't fit in. Weird.”
Hanson. Copyright 1997, Jam 'N Bread Music
David Griffin shivered as he wheeled his bicycle around his Dad’s Hudson and out of the garage. His sweatshirt wasn’t enough to keep him warm in the cool early morning air; but, within an hour, carrying a few dozen Sunday newspapers on his shoulders, he would be a bit warmer. He mounted his bike and pedaled down the driveway and onto the street. As he rode west toward downtown Madison, he looked up through the branches of the trees along Seminole Street. He could see the three stars of Orion’s Belt rising in the western sky. In a couple of months, it would be in the evening sky. Orion was his favorite constellation. It signaled the arrival of his favorite time of year and of his favorite holidays.
The town was silent. He could see no lights in any windows, hear no sounds save for the few birds awaiting the rising sun, and the creatures of the night singing their mating songs. However, a block from Main Street, he saw lights pierce the darkness and heard the rumbling motor of the Magic Empire delivery truck bringing its load of newspapers. He hurried and turned onto Main Street just as the truck stopped in front of the Rexall Drug Store. The other paperboys were already waiting as the driver stood at the back of the truck and dumped his bundles of the Tulsa Sunday World on the sidewalk for them.
One of the boys grinned at Dave as he tossed a bundle of papers. Dave grinned back as he caught the papers and set them down next to his bike.
“Forgot to set the alarm,” he said as he sat down on the sidewalk and opened the bundle. But, when he heard a couple of the guys chuckle, he looked up to see one of them grinning nastily and making a pumping motion with his hand.
“Aw, come on, Tom. Cut that out,” he said blushing.
“I know someone else who’s gettin’ some tonight,” another boy said pointing up at a glowing window on the second floor of a building down the street. The others looked up.
“Who’s that?” one of them asked.
Tom, the boy who had teased Dave a moment before, said, “Sterling Jordan, that guy who runs the newsstand in the hotel? He lives there. Guess who’s up there with him?”
Dave pretended not to pay attention, glancing down at the paper and the headline about Governor Dewey still leading President Truman in the election campaign. But, he was listening closely. David Griffin was a good Catholic boy. He ignored sex as much as he could, gave into temptation only when he absolutely couldn’t resist any longer, and then conscientiously confessed and atoned. It was a sin, but he was still curious.
“Is it that blond in the coffee shop?” one of the boys asked. “You know, the one that looks like Veronica Lake?”
“Not likely,” he sneered. He looked secretively at the others and grinned.
“It’s Johnny Tracy!”
“You gotta be kiddin’! Tracy and that guy? Tracy?”
Dave said nothing. Johnny was a friend, a fellow altar boy at St. Augustine’s. He was a nice guy. He would not believe something like that about his friend.
One of the guys chuckled as he started rolling giant rubber bands around the thick bulk of the Sunday papers and slipping them into his bag.
“I wonder if he’s fuckin’ him!”
“Hey!” Dave snapped. “Cut that out. You don’t know that Johnny’s up there. And, even if he is, you don’t know that’s what they’re doing. Johnny’s not like that! He’s a good guy. He’s my pal.”
Tom grinned at him.
“Maybe Griffin and Tracy are… you know…”
Dave dropped the newspaper he was rolling and balled up his fist. Everyone knew David Griffin didn’t get into fights; but, they also knew that if he ever did, he would be serious. Tom held up his hands in surrender.
“Hey, man. Sorry. It was just a joke.”
Dave relaxed, but he gave Tom a sour look.
“That’s not somethin’ to joke about.”
The boys turned their attention to rolling up their newspapers and loading them into their bags. No one said anything until Tom noticed the light went out in the window down the street. He nudged the boy next to him and pointed. Dave pretended not to notice, but when the door at the side of Stanford’s Men’s Wear opened, he was looking intently out of the corner of his eye.
Johnny Tracy appeared in the door wearing a windbreaker. He stopped and looked around, his gaze stopping on the knot of paperboys half a block away. Johnny froze and then Dave could see a figure appear in the shadow behind him. The man placed a hand on his shoulder. Johnny looked back and then turned to walk away from Main Street, up Sequoyah, and out of sight, with the man following closely behind.
The other boys all turned to Dave, who was watching with a frown.
“Well?” Tom sneered.
Dave sighed and went back to rolling his newspapers. With uncharacteristically poor grammar, he mumbled, “It don’t mean nothin’.”
Tom snorted and finished stuffing his papers into his bag.
“Well, I’ll see you slow pokes in the funny papers,” he said as he worked the heavy bag over his shoulders. He climbed on his bike and rode away to his route on the north side. Soon, the other boys were pedaling away, as well, leaving Dave alone as he finished stuffing his papers into his bag.
As he was about to lift the heavy bag and slip his head through the center, he saw some headlights swerving back and forth at the far end of Main Street. He slipped bag onto his shoulders and stood beside his bike as he recognized the beat-up old Ford truck owned by Hank Tharp’s father. A bunch of Hank’s friends were riding in the back and hollering as the truck careened along Main. It was obvious Hank and his pals had been drinking at the Rebel Inn. Even though Prohibition had been repealed nationally fifteen years before, Oklahoma was still officially a dry state and, as Will Rogers once said, would remain dry as long as the Baptists could stagger to the polls. Everyone knew the Rebel Inn paid off the Madison County Sheriff, though, so it wasn’t unusual to see truck loads of young drunks on Saturday nights, (or, more correctly, Sunday mornings), heading back into town.
The drunks yelled something at Dave as they passed, but he couldn’t understand it. He shook his head in disgust, mounted his bike and headed toward his route to the east of Main.
He had tossed about a dozen houses along Fifth and Sixth Streets when he heard the screeching of tires and some yelling a few blocks away. Tharp and his gang must be raising some serious heck, Dave thought as he tossed a paper onto Judge Foley’s porch. He turned onto Shawnee. The library was behind him. A block away was the park. He had three houses between there and the park, but he froze. Up ahead, he saw the Tharp pick-up, pointing away from him, over the curb as Tharp’s gang were jumping and dancing around it, hollering and laughing. This was beyond the normal hell raising one could expect from them.
Quickly, Dave turned around and rode back behind the corner. Watching surreptitiously, he could see the gang finally climb back into the truck and Tharp pull away, roaring up the street.
Suddenly, David Griffin knew what had happened. He closed his eyes and prayed, “Dear God, please don’t let this be what I think it is.”
Sterling Jordan had been walking Johnny Tracy home. Johnny lived up Shawnee from the park, in the white bungalow next to the brown sandstone house at Twelfth St. Tharp and his gang must either have jumped them on their way to Johnny’s house, or they jumped Sterling on his way back after leaving Johnny.
Dave quickly pedaled up the sidewalk toward the park, praying, his heart beating faster than it ever had. Struggling not to panic, he searched around he grounds of the park, his eyes sweeping past the swing set, over the slide, and beyond the picnic tables until they came to rest on a dark rise by the flagpole.
“Johnny!” he yelled. He jumped off the bike and struggled out from under the bag. Dropping it to the ground, he tore across the grass.
Sterling Jordan lay in the grass, doubled over, moaning quietly, his clothes covered with blood, his face almost unrecognizable. Dave gazed in horror. Sterling gurgled as blood seeped from between his lips. His eyes met Dave’s and flickered, and then he died.
“My God, Dave. What did you do?”
David Griffin sat behind the wheel of his LTD, slowly driving up Shawnee as he and Bill Patterson gazed around, searching for Eric. The boy’s parents had been terrified and angry and confused when the two men stopped by their house. They didn’t know where Eric had gone. They had confronted their son with Mr. Llewellyn’s allegations and Eric’s father had seen a flicker of shame on the boy’s face. That was all he needed to scream recriminations at his son, who had turned and staggered numbly out the door. Minutes later the police had come for Eric; and, then, Dave and Bill had arrived.
“Eric’s a good boy,” Dave said to the distraught couple. Eric’s father sat in a chair in the living room, still wearing the torn work jacket he had entered with, clutching his hands.
“I know he is, but… I just don’t understand… I just don’t understand…”
Now, as they cruised through the neighborhood, Dave was relating to Bill the horrifying events of that dreadful Sunday morning twenty-one years before.
“Well, I ran to the closest house and banged on the door until someone came. They called the police and an ambulance. I called Dad and he was there before the police.”
Dave stopped at a corner and looked ahead. He didn’t move for several seconds.
“Dave?” said Bill softly.
Dave sighed and slowly drove forward.
“Dad didn’t want me to tell them anything about seeing Tharp and his gang. I didn’t actually see them beating and kicking him, but I know it was them. I saw them dancing around the truck but Dad didn’t want me to say anything. He was afraid it would look like we were taking sides with a known pervert and he was afraid of what people would think. He didn’t want to hurt the damn insurance agency.”
Bill said nothing as the slowly cruised through the neighborhood. He heard the disgust and shame and self-recrimination in Dave’s voice. He reached over and patted his friend on the shoulder.
“You were sixteen and you did what your father told you to do.”
“They got away with murder.”
Both were silent for several minutes as they searched the area. A block from Fourth Street, they stopped. Both watched as Hank Tharp’s pick-up sped past on its own search for Eric.
“This is why we have to find Eric. They’ll kill him and I’m not going to let this happen again,” he said softly, but with conviction. “And, I’m not going to let them get away with Sterling Jordan’s death, either. It’s time for the truth to come out.”
Bill remained silent for a moment, and, then, asked, “What about the statute of limitations?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think there is one for murder, but I’ll leave that for the police and the prosecutors.”
“Aren’t you afraid for your family?”
They were approaching the park on Shawnee, the same park in which the younger David Griffin had found Sterling Jordan. Suddenly, Dave hit the brakes. Quickly he pulled to the curb and jumped out of the car. Bill watched as his friend sprinted across the street. Then, he saw Eric sitting at the picnic table. The boy jumped as he heard Dave call his name. He stood and appeared ready to run.
“Eric! It’s OK!” Dave called. “I’m here to help!”
As Dave approached, it was obvious the boy had been crying. He looked utterly devastated, utterly defeated.
“I didn’t do it,” he muttered as Dave approached. “I didn’t do it.”
“I believe you, son. Daniel told us what happened.”
Eric looked startled at the news.
“Is he OK? How is he? Did he hurt him? Did he hit him?”
Dave looked around as he heard a truck engine a block over. He grabbed the teenager’s arm and pulled him toward the car.
“Come on. We have to get out of here. Now. We’re going to our house. You’ll be OK there.”
They ran to the car. Eric climbed into the back seat and as soon as the door closed, a set of headlights came to the corner behind them.
“Get down on the floor,” he barked at Eric. “Now!”
Eric immediately complied and seconds later, Tharp’s truck roared past with one of his sons and another man in the back.
“OK. Stay down until we get home.”
Carefully, Dave drove back to the house. Every once in awhile, Bill would look back over the seat and smile reassuringly at the terrified boy. As they pulled into the Griffins’ driveway and stopped, Dave said softly, “Stay where you are until we’re in the garage.”
He climbed out of the car, opened the garage door, drove in, and then closed the door behind them.
Eric walked unsteadily into the kitchen behind Dave and Bill.
“Eric!” Michael yelled as he saw him. Trevor and Tad both ran into the kitchen and the three boys hugged Eric, who fought the tears forming in his eyes again. Michael led them to his bedroom and the adults gathered in the living room. After several minutes of discussion, Dave stood and walked into his son’s bedroom.
“Eric, I think it would be safest if you spent the night here. There’s a warrant out for your arrest and the police are looking for you. The problem is that there are others looking for you, also. Now, we know that you didn’t do anything to Daniel. But, Llewellyn’s a powerful man in town and the police and prosecutors are going to listen to him. I’m going to call your parents and talk to them and then I’m going down to Llewellyn’s in the morning after everyone’s had a chance to cool down some and try to reason with him. Everything’s going to be OK, son. It might be difficult, but it’s going to work out. We believe you and we’re on your side.” He smiled reassuringly at the boy and Eric nodded.
The ringing of the doorbell startled everyone. Eric and the boys looked fearfully at the door, but everyone relaxed when Ricky appeared at the door of the bedroom. Dave smiled at him and left as Ricky looked uncertainly about the room at the several faces. The others looked back, Michael with firmness, prepared to fight for his friends, Trevor sadly, Tad uncertainly. Eric looked down at the floor.
“What do you want?” Michael demanded. Ricky swallowed. He turned around and left. Michael and Trevor looked at each other and Trevor shrugged. The four boys sat down on the floor in a circle, but before anyone could say anything else, Ricky suddenly appeared at the door again, holding a glass of water.
“I read your stupid book. You know, Stranger in a Strange Land. I read about the ‘water brother’ stuff, about how the Martians thought it was the greatest honor to share water with someone. Well, I guess I understand. Look, I’m your friend.”
Ricky glanced backward into the hall to see if any adults were within earshot. Satisfied with their security, he turned back to the others and said softly, “Look, I don’t wanna do any sex stuff, OK? But, I just want you to know that, I think you guys are OK and I want to be your friend.”
He slowly approached the group and then ceremoniously took a drink from the glass. He bent down and handed it to Michael, who looked at the glass and then at Ricky’s face. He smiled.
“Thanks,” he said. “I want to be your friend, too.”
He took the glass and drank from it, passing it to Trevor, who also smiled at Ricky.
“Thanks, Ricky. We didn’t mean to upset you or make you feel weird or whatever. I’m… I’m glad you want to be our friend.”
He drank from the glass and then passed it to Tad, who held it for a moment.
“I haven’t read the book and I guess I don’t know what you’re talking about, but all of you guys have been the best friends I have, except for Daniel, who’s the very very best friend I ever had. And, I guess I wanna be your water brother, too.”
He drank and handed the glass to Eric. The teenager looked at the faces of the younger boys and said nothing. He simply took a sip from the glass and smiled at each of the boys.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
It was almost midnight when Dave and Betsy prepared the sofa in the living room for Eric to sleep on. As he sat on the end and slipped off his shoes, he looked up at Dave.
“Thank you for helping me. Thank you for believing me.”
Dave simply smiled.
“I’m atoning for past sins.”
With a wink, he turned and left the room. Eric looked thoughtfully at the floor for a moment and then resumed undressing. When he was down to his underwear, he crawled under the blanket and rested his head on the pillow. As he was praying, thanking the Lord for the Griffin family, he paused. He looked at the front door. A strange sound had caught his ears, as if someone had opened the screen. He listened carefully, but heard nothing else. He relaxed and resumed his prayers.
He was about to sink into sleep when he became aware of another sound, distant, far away. A horn, possibly, or…
Madison, Oklahoma was not a large city and a siren was an unusual sound. He listened as it came closer. And, then, he sat up, a look of horror on his face. The siren had stopped. About a block away.
He looked to the picture window and could see a faint red light flashing through the drapes.
“No,” he whispered. “Please, God, no.”
A door opened in the hallway. Michael peeked around the corner.
“Is that a siren?” he whispered.
Eric threw back the covers and ran to the window. Michael joined him and as the teenager pulled back the drapes, his worst fears were confirmed. Down the street, at the end of the next block, an ambulance had stopped. A police car, its revolving red light joining the ambulances in lighting the neighborhood, pulled up beside the ambulance. The two boys watched as a policeman jumped out of the car and ran toward the house.
“Oh, my God!” Eric cried. “He’s killed him!”
Eric ran to the couch and frantically grabbed his pants.
“He’s killed him! He’s killed him!”
Dave and Betsy were suddenly in the living room, Dave standing at the window looking out, Betsy trying to hold the panicking teenager. Michael stood shivering in his pajamas, looking in fear at the scene around him. Dave walked to the front door and opened it, intending to walk toward the street to get a better view. Instead, he stopped and looked down. A white envelope had fallen to the concrete of the porch. He picked it up. It was addressed to Michael, in the careful penmanship of a child. He handed it to Michael, who held it fearfully.
“Open it,” Eric said, his voice trembling. “Open it.”
His hands shaking, he tore the open the envelope and withdrew two sheets of paper torn from a spiral notebook.
Please give this letter to Eric. I couldn’t go by his house and I trust you. You are a good friend. You have been a great friend. Please forgive me for all the trouble I have caused. I did not mean to hurt anybody. I just wanted someone to love me but I messed up. I have done nothing but mess up for my whole life. I will never make my parents happy and now I have messed up Eric’s life for good. I am so sorry. Please don’t hate me. I’m not a bad person. Please please please make sure everyone knows that Eric didn’t do anything and that its all my fault. I’m a sick pervert. Its my fault. I’m sorry.
Please tell Tad that he was always my best friend and not to worry about his brothers being mean to him. They will be gone soon and Tad will be free. Please tell him I love him and ask him to forgive me too.
I know that suicide is a sin and that I will go to Hell, but I will pray for you and Tad and especially for Eric for ever if God will listen to me in Hell..
There was another letter to Eric behind the letter to Michael, but Michael’s tears were too great for him to read it.
“No!” Eric screamed.
Dave and Betsy held him as he tried to run to the door. They held him on the couch as he struggled before he finally collapsed against Betsy, sobbing.
“Michael, come here,” his father ordered. The boy approached as Dave turned on the lamp beside the couch. Dave stood and guided his son to sit beside Eric.
“Don’t let him leave,” he ordered as he quickly walked to the bedroom. A minute later he returned, not in his nightclothes, but in slacks and a shirt. He pulled a windbreaker on and went to the door.
“I’ll call. Whatever you do, don’t let Eric leave this house.”
Betsy and Michael nodded as Jimmy and Patty stood in the door to the hallway, looking on in fear.
Dave closed the door and whispered a prayer as he hurried to the garage.
Michael whispered prayers, as well, as he and his Mother held the sobbing Eric.
And, so, ends Chapter Eleven. A Curious Set of Misfits will conclude with Chapter Twelve. Please let me know what you think by email at chriswriter @ operamail.com. Thank you so very much for the wonderful support I have received for this story. Your email has meant so much to me.