Mrs. Howe has just dropped the four boys off at a very upscale residence in the posher district of the town. Trevor Michael Hamilton Jr. (Richie-Rich) has invited them for the day. Michael has some thoughts about this house ...

Chapter Fifteen

I watch Mom Howe continue out the immense circular driveway after dropping us off. Actually I am looking at all the immaculately trimmed shrubs, bushes and topiary lining the drive. There are two men with power trimmers and a third with a leaf blower circulating amongst the greenery. Wow, as fancy as this place looks, I'll bet those are full-time gardeners.

The house is a two-storey affair that looks like it was copied from one of those old-time plantations in the South - you know, with the big columns in the front and the huge, covered front entrance.

"Jeese-us," Scully says. "What do ya want to bet a maid or a butler meets us at the door?"

"I'm pretty sure it won't be Mrs. Hamilton in curlers and a housecoat; that's for sure," Jeremy responds with a grin.

We all giggle. It's more of a nervous titter than anything. This place is pretentious enough to make ya feel like a spit-ball in a Seminary class. I feel like I should be wearing a tux rather than my boardies and a tee-shirt.

"He's your friend, Scully," I tell him, "you should be the one to announce us at the door."

I just said that to get a rise out of the Weasel. Normally, just the thought of being in the limelight like that would have him hightailing it for the bushes. I think Kyle realized it too, just as soon as I said it. He reached over and wrapped his arm around Scully's shoulders - to keep him from doing his disappearing act.

"We'll both ring the bell, Skull," Kyle says, casting me the evil eye. I give him my 'Mr. Innocent' grin right back.

We walk up onto the broad entrance and Kyle and the Weasel are searching both sides of the door for a bell. There is no button in evidence.

"Ahemm," Jeremy says. "I think you're supposed to use the knocker, boys."

Kyle looks at Jeremy and grins. He says ...

"Now how will my playing with my titties get us inside the house, Jeremy?"

"What? Oh, I get it ... play with yer knockers. Yeah, yeah ... you're quite the comedian, Kyle. Now use the damn door-knocker ... goofus."

Scully has to reach up in order to put his hand on it but he manages to smack the knocker against the door. We can hear chimes inside the house when he does it. Huh ... the knocker is actually a doorbell - pretty ornate, all right.

Soon we can hear what sounds like a couple of pairs of bare feet pounding against tiles. Then a voice rings out, clearly Trevor's ...

"We'll get it, Maria. It'll be our friends."

The door swings inwards to reveal Trevor and Marc standing in the doorway. They are wearing nothing but swimming suits and paint-ball masks. Me, being the smart-ass that I am, immediately quip ...

"What's with the masks ... are you afraid of getting a little water splashed into yer faces, ya wussies?"

"Ha ha!" Trevor replies. "Come on in, fellows. Mi casa es su casa."

"What did he say about his ca-ca?" Kyle asks. That gets us all laughing. The tension has pretty much cleared.

Holy frog breath! You should see this place! There's this big curvy staircase in front of us and a huge-ass chandelier in the center of this two storey room. I'm no architect so I can't really give it justice. Let's just say it was like ya see in the movies. We all do a little whistle-in-awe sort of thing and walk around craning our necks. Marc laughs at us.

"Haa, haa! That's just the way I was the first time I saw this place. Now ya see why I call him Richie-Rich don'cha? Come on, Richie, let's give 'em the grand tour."

"What should we do with this stuff first, Trevor?" Scully asks - meaning our paint-ball gear and swim stuff.

"Let's just go straight out to the patio and you can set that stuff down." Trevor answers.

We follow Richie and Marc down a corridor beside the curvy staircase and come to a set of French doors. Richie opens them up and we step out into a manicured back yard that is even more impressive than the front yard. It's huge for one thing. I can see an eight or ten foot high chain-link fence off in the distance that must be a tennis court. Closer in there is a pool that's easily the size of the community pool. It has a bitchen looken water slide. I guess the Weasel's wrong on this one: the pool is outdoors and not indoors. There's a smaller pool next to it that must be an in-ground hot tub. There is an immense patio area with about ten patio tables with umbrellas. It looks like an outdoor café. They could probably feed forty to sixty people easy.

"Wheew," Kyle whistles. "Your folks must do a lot of entertaining, Richie."

"Actually not, Kyle. This house isn't really ours. It's a company house for the use of the overseas branch manager - that's my Father, of course. And my parents do a little entertaining - company stuff, you know. When my Father's home they mostly like to just do family stuff with the three of us - well, four, actually, since Marcus is usually here."

"Yep," Marc says. "Just call me the adopted son."

They both giggle at what must be a private joke. Then Trevor says ...

"Put your gear over by ours and then check our guns out. Tell us what you think, because the salesperson said they were top of the line."

We wander over to one of the tables that have equipment setting on them. Jeremy gives a whistle while picking up one of the guns. He says ...

"Look at this, guys. It's a Tippmann X7! This baby can shoot up to 20 balls per second on full automatic! And check out the magnesium receiver - its so light!"

Our jaws are hanging down to the ground. Oh my God! These are four hundred dollar guns - easy!

The four of us just look up from the guns to Trevor's face. I'm sure he can see the astonishment written all over us. He's beginning to blush and look uncomfortable. He isn't really a pretentious sort of guy. I don't think this little rich boy is a braggart by any means. Jeremy sees his discomfort as well and starts chuckling. Then he says ...

"It's okay, Richie. We just never met anyone before that could afford to buy such an expensive toy! But I'll say this for ya - you're a pretty good guy not to get Marc here a cheaper version. I think I'd a bought him a sling-shot myself ... har, har!"

"Bite yer tongue!" Marc tells him. Then he wraps an arm around Trevor and says ...

"There's no way my Richie-Rich would down-grade his bro. Besides ... he really, really likes the way I thank him." And he wiggles his eye-brows at Trevor.

"Har, har, har ... snort, snort!" We're all busting up at Trevor's obvious embarrassment. His Marky-warky has just painted a pretty clear picture of their relationship. And even though Trevor is blushing he's grinning back at us. Then Trevor wiggles his eyebrows and that gets us going all over again.

I think our day in the hot-spring yesterday has loosened everyone up and there isn't a whole lot of need for false airs here. We all pretty well know everyone else's feelings for their particular partners. And just to make sure that we're all comfortable with that idea, Jeremy reaches over and gives me a smooch on my cheek. This causes Marc and Richie to break out in broad grins and then I hear a squeak on my left. I turn my head to see that Kyle has lifted the Weasel up to his level and has a lip-lock on the little bugger. Har, har! The next thing ya know we all have our arms wrapped around our own boy-toys and are doing some tongue battling. Then from behind us we hear ...

"Ahemm," as someone clears their throat.

I'll tell ya what ... six boys become detached from one another in about a nano-second. It probably looks like a stoplight convention with all the red faces. As we swing around to face the 'ahemm-er', we see a short, plump lady in a maid's uniform. Her brown face is grinning and she's obviously enjoying every minute of our embarrassment.

"Well, Señor Trevor, I was going to offer to bring your guests some refreshments - but I see you are busy trading your bubble-gums back and forth ... hee, hee, hee! So ... what kind of wine goes with the bubble-gums ... haa, haa, haa!" Then Trevor speaks up ...

"Stop it, Maria. You're embarrassing them. And poor Scully will probably run away again ... hee, hee, hee."

Trevor looks over at us. "It's okay, guys. Maria has caught Marcus and me a number of times so I don't think she is surprised that our friends aren't any different from us."

"Madre mía - the only thing that would surprise me would be if your friends were girls, niño ... hee, hee, hee."

She has her hands pressed up against her rather plump cheeks and she is chortling quite heartily. I can see from the sparkle in her eye that she is amused rather than repulsed by the behavior she's just witnessed.

Jeremy, the smart ass, quips up with ...

"I don't know, Maria. Do ya serve a white wine or red wine with a dish of tongue?"

"Har, har, har ... snort, snort ... hee, hee!" That broke whatever tension was remaining. Trevor reaches over to Maria and gives her a kiss on the cheek. She, in turn, gives him a body squeeze that has his eyes popping out of his head.

"Well," she says, "I'll bring you niños some lemonades - maybe some cookies too."

The sweet lady turns and heads back towards the house. She only gets a few feet away when she turns and says ...

"Oh, Señor Trevor, I forgot. Your madre and padre said to tell you they will be a number of hours yet. You are to make your guests feel at home and give their excusa."

"Thank you, Maria."

Trevor turns to us and says ...

"My Mother thought she would be here to meet the boys who taught us the fine sport of paint-balling. She and Father have been trying to get me interested in manly sports since forever."

"Yeah," Marc quips, "I guess before I showed up old Richie's idea of sports was playing jump rope with the girls next door ... haa, haa."

Trevor smacks him on the arm then asks him ...

"What's wrong with jump rope, Marcus? American boxers do it all the time."

"Yeah," Marc grins at him, "but then they drop the ropes and punch the shit out of each other."

Trevor, grinning, retorts with ...

"I don't think the neighbor would take kindly to my punching the shit out of her daughters ... ha, ha!"

Marc's reply is to grab Trevor around the shoulders and wrestle him to the grass. Now he's grinding his chin into Trevor's sides and belly accompanied by some outrageous squealing and heel thumping by our little Richie-Rich.

"Who's yer daddy?" Marc asks over and over as he continues to tickle and torment his friend. Trevor is so out of breath from squealing and laughing that he can't answer, which just prolongs his torture.

I look over at Jeremy as he is watching this obvious love-play of our hosts and I see that he is grinning broadly. I reach over and wrap my arm around his waist and squeeze him against me. We grin at one another then turn our attention back to the struggling, laughing duo on the ground. I can hear Kyle and Scully laughing and cheering at the side of us.

Ya know... Jer and I should feel out of place here. I mean, these guys are all two and three years younger than us. We shouldn't even have anything in common with them. But I feel closer to these boys than anyone of my own age - with the exception of my huggy-wumps of course.

I watch these two, playing lovingly together on the ground, and it absolutely floors me that they are only ten years old. Hell, when I was ten - sex was nothing more than a word to giggle at. But shoot, this probably isn't a sexual thing with any of these guys anyway. They just happen to have a strong attraction for another boy. That doesn't mean it has to be sexual does it? Heck, I don't know. I don't think I even had a sexual thought until my dick woke up a few months ago. I must be an awful late bloomer compared to these boys. So I guess, in a way, that makes us all pretty even. I mean, Jer and I are late bloomers and these guys are all early bloomers, so that makes us equals ... right? Anyways, I know I am feeling really, really good standing here, holding my sweetie, watching these two playing so intimately with one another.

Jeremy looks over at me, his face beaming with contentment, his eyes so brown and glittery behind those stupid glasses and my heart just swells up with these unbelievable emotions. We just wrap our arms around one another and pull in close.

My heart really swells when I look over at Kyle and Scully. Scully is leaning back against his Kyley bear and Kyle has his arms wrapped around him. They are both watching the commotion on the ground and are giggling. It's pretty obvious the Weasel has found himself a keeper.

"Shriek, shrieeek ... all right, all right ... you're my daddy ... you're my daddy" Trevor finally manages to squeal out. Marc quits torturing him and lies, panting, with his head on Trevor's bare stomach. I have to admit, Trevor is one outrageously good-looking kid. That long, blond hair is splayed all over the grass and those emerald-green eyes have a glitter to them from his excitement. His huge smile causes two perfectly formed dimples in his rosy cheeks. I'm starting to feel a bit like a pervert here as I feel my body responding to the sight of Marc resting his head on Trevor's belly with one arm on a thigh and the other on his chest. I look away only to see Kyle with his face pressed against Scully's face. He is giving him little kisses on the side of his face and neck. Scully's eyes are closed and his expression says he's somewhere between heaven and cloud nine. Thank goodness that's when Jeremy takes the opportunity to grab me by the sides of my head and pull me into him for a lip-lock. If I'm going to get a boner I want it to be from my own huggy-wuggy.

"Madre mía, don't you niños ever come up for some air sometimes? I am thinking I should maybe throw a bucket of cold water on all of you ... no?"

"Haa, haa, haa!" Trevor is laughing. "Don't worry, Maria. I'll make sure everyone keeps their drawers on in front of the neighbors. But I'm not making any promises for inside the house."

Maria is shaking her head as she sets down a tray with a pitcher of lemonade, some glasses and a plate of cookies.

"Do not forget, hijo, the gardeners can turn up in some unexpected places. You do not want to be shocking them."

Trevor and Marc are picking themselves up from the ground. Trevor has a bit of a sheepish look on his face when he replies to their housekeeper ...

"You're right, Maria. My guests and I shall use a bit more decorum in the future."

Maria gets a broad smile and pinches both Trevor and Marc on their cheeks.

"You are both good boys and I could just eat you up."

"Now, now, Maria," Marc says, laughing, "ya don't want to be shocking the gardeners ... ha, ha, ha."

"Oh, you silly thing," She answers. "I am going back to the kitchen. Lunch will be ready at noon. I will give you a bit of a warning so you can all wash up. Do you want to eat out here or in the house, Señor Trevor?"

"Well, Maria, we will probably be swimming in the indoor pool so why don't we eat there?"

Indoor pool? Jeeze ... life can sure be tough can't it? I mean ... the rich have all these difficult decisions to make, such as, do we swim indoors or outdoors today? Holy molly - during the hot part of the summer we just ran through the sprinklers to cool off. I think I could like living here.

"All right, hijo, I will page you on the intercom."

As Maria wanders back to the house Trevor starts filling up glasses with lemonade. We all grab chairs and pull them up to one of the tables.

"So, Richie" Kyle asks, "why are we going to swim in the indoor pool?"

Trevor starts handing out glasses of lemonade and we each grab a couple of cookies. He tells Kyle ...

"My folks have already turned off the heat to the outdoor pool. The one inside is smaller but a lot more comfortable to swim in this time of year. Besides, we already got used to skinny-dipping together and we can do that indoors if you guys want to."

We are all looking back and forth to one another, grins on our faces.

"I don't know ..." Jeremy replies, "I don't think I want my skinny hanging out when Maria comes into the room."

We all giggle and Trevor tells him ...

"I'll see to it that she stays out of the pool area. She can call us on the intercom when lunch is ready. Besides, we need to take advantage of my parents being gone. They won't be back until late in the afternoon."

There are some more grins being flashed back and forth and no one raises any more objections. Looks like we will all be waving our skinnies in a bit!

We have a good old-fashioned belching contest to go with the lemonade. Kyle is a little less enthusiastic in his belches this time. I guess he doesn't want a repeat of his up-chuck performance of last night ... har, har! Marc wins when he belches and farts at the same time!

"Oh, gross!" Richie complains. "Now we won't know if it's your breath or your butt we can smell, Marcus!"

Har, har ... snort, snort. Marc rubs the bridge of his nose with his middle finger while looking towards Richie. He grins at him and says ...

"You've never complained about smelling my butt before, Richie."

Har, har, har! That one gets us all going. Poor Trevor is blushing like crazy. If Marc was my boyfriend I think I would throttle him for giving away that tidbit of information.

I pipe up with ...

"Kissing it and smelling it are two different things, Marc ... har, har, har!"

"Careful, my friend," Trevor warns me, "don't forget I have a gun that will shoot 20 balls per second. And since God only gave you two balls then I can shoot them both at least ten times each before you fold up and die!"

Har, har, har ... snort, snort ... heheheh. I am clutching my balls like I did last night and begging for forgiveness.

"Oh please, Richie. Jer's Mom is going to neuter me and you're going to shoot me in the balls. I need to buy a cement jockstrap."

Scully laughs and shoots lemonade out of his nose! Now he's having a coughing and laughing fit. The rest of us are just laughing at poor Scully. Kyle pipes up with ...

"No, no, Skull! Richie said paint-ball gun ... not squirt gun ... haa, haa, haa!"

Scully still isn't able to talk so he answers with his middle finger. Jeremy brings us back to earth when he asks ...

"Hey, Trevor, did you invite Timmy or the Hughes twins today?"

"Yep," Marc answers for him. "I got hold of Timmy on the phone. I guess his folks are pretty religious and they expect him to spend most of the day with them going to church services. Then he told me that Scooter and Possum were going out of town to a cousin's birthday party. "

Jeremy starts laughing and says ...

"Scooter and Possum are sure some funny little dudes. They fight at the drop of a hat and then soon they're kissing and making up."

"Yeah, but they'd rather be kissing Timmy," Kyle says with an eye-brow wiggle.

That gets us all giggling. The twins were so open from the very first time we met them about their feelings for Timmy. It's too bad they can't be here, they are a lot of fun. Of course when Trevor's parents show up they might have a heart attack if they heard some of the language that comes out of their mouths when they fight one another. Their language is strong enough to pop a boil on yer butt. Kyle changes the subject when he says ...

"So, do you guys have some targets to set up? I really want to know what it's like to shoot a four hundred dollar gun."

"Well ... we were wondering," Marc says, "how bad would those things hurt at like a hundred feet away if they hit naked skin?"

"They'd still sting pretty good at that distance and would leave a red mark ... why?" I ask.

"Trevor and I want to volunteer to be the targets ... that's why," Marc says with a grin.

"No way ... really?" From Kyle.

"Yep!" Marc responds. "Only ya all have to agree to take a turn as well. Here's the deal. We go up to the end of the property where not a soul that can see us. There's a big open area. The target has to strip to the buff, put on his mask and try to dodge the shots. And ... only one person at a time gets to shoot. The person shooting gets a full hopper of ammunition - that's two hundred balls - and he has to fire them all on full automatic."

We're all looking at them like they're nuts.

"Dude ..." I say, "at full automatic it will still take ten seconds to empty that hopper. Ya might be able to dodge for awhile but ... man-o'man ... ya're still going to get hit."

Trevor's been getting whiter and whiter as this conversation has progressed. I have a feeling that this is some kind of a dare between these two ... maybe a bet that Trevor lost. Marc seems really enthused, though.

"Okay, okay ..." Marc responds, "then once ya actually hit the guy then ya stop firing. That should prevent a slaughter. And Richie and I will volunteer to go first - BUT - only if everyone else agrees to take a turn."

We are all looking back and forth. Trying to decide if we have the courage to go through with this. We are each waiting for someone else to volunteer first - and hoping like hell that no one else does. From the look on Trevor's face I believe he's hoping the same thing.

"Oh, what the heck," Scully says, "die young and leave a good looking corpse - I say."

Auggghhh ... the little shit! Now there's no way I can look less brave than a ten-year-old. I gulp and say ...

"I guess I'm in."

Kyle and Jeremy are quick to volunteer after that. No one wants to look like a wuss. Although Kyle is looking at Scully like he thinks the kid's a quart low on oil and he'd like to be the one to painfully shove the dipstick up his ass.

"Grab the guns, guys, and follow us!" Marc shouts as he grabs the huge tub of paint-balls. He slips the mask on his head and starts trotting ahead of us. He looks back to see that Trevor is being a little slow on the uptake.

"Come on, Richie - don't be a wussie. You know what we agreed."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know." Trevor says, with no enthusiasm at all. He does slip on the other mask though and trots up beside Marc. The two of them head off and leave the rest of us to follow. Jeremy and I each grab a gun and the rest of us follow our hosts at a more leisurely pace.

"You do know what those paint balls are going to feel like on naked skin don't ya, Scully? I mean ... even at a hundred and fifty feet they would sting like the bejesus. And what if ya get hit in the balls." I ask him.

"I know, I know," he says. "I figured you guys were going to volunteer because ya couldn't let a couple a ten-year-olds make ya look chicken. So I figured I would say something first so I would look braver. But to tell the truth, I was mentally kicking myself in the butt even as I volunteered."

Kyle says ...

"Well remind me to kick you in the butt for real, little buddy. You get to go first amongst us four, ya know."

Scully gulps and says he knows. The fart-knocker ... I wouldn't have minded a bit not volunteering for this. Oh well, in for a dime, in for a dollar, I guess.

"What do ya call those guys that like pain, Jeremy?" I ask.

"You call them freaking idiots in my book!" Kyle responds.

"Ah ... masochists, I think. I think it's the sadist that likes to cause pain and the masochist that likes to receive pain," Jer answers.

"Well, I think our Marky boy must be some kind of masochist, then."

"I don't know, Mic." He says. "Marc never really got shot yesterday except in the face mask. I don't think he really knows what those things feel like."

"Well, he's about to find out!" I tell everyone. "As the best shot here, I want to be the one who fires on Marc. Anyone want to flip me for it?"

Everyone just giggles but no one challenges me. Okay, Marky boy, if ya think ya can dodge two hundred balls firing at twenty rounds per second - I'm about to open yer eyes!

We catch up to Trevor and Marc where they've set down the jug of ammo. Marc has even peeled his bathing suit off and he's standing there in the buff. All he's wearing is a paint-ball mask and a grin. 'Hmmm ...' I'm thinking, 'I wonder if I can hit that cute little tally-wacker from a hundred feet?' But I quickly change my mind because I do like the little bugger after all.

I look around our immediate area and can see we are in some kind of equestrian field. There are low wooden fences for horse jumping and in the center there's a low brick wall. The dried and cracked soil around the brick wall seems to indicate that there was a small pond there at one time. It seems pretty obvious that no horses have been trained here in some time. The entire field appears to be about three hundred feet deep and entirely surrounded by trees and thick brush. I can see what Marc meant about being private. Trevor sees me looking around and says ...

"The original builder of the estate was obviously into show horses - a British thing, you know. None of the managers have been so inclined, however. Marc and I think this would be a really good area to build a paint-ball field. What do you guys think?"

"Heck, yeah!" Jer and I answer together. Kyle says ...

"You've got some fences to hide behind already, ya just need a few more places to fire from and it would be excellent. We could play here this winter when the snow gets too deep to hike up to our special meadow."

We all do some high fives over that idea. Shoot, we could actually make our paint-ball wars a year round thing. Besides, Richie-Rich has an indoor pool that sounds almost as good as our hot springs. It's probably better actually cuz our hot spring doesn't come with maid service.

I turn to Marc who is dancing around and anxious for this to begin. I ask him ...

"Are ya sure ya don't want to wear yer swim trunks, Marc? I mean, even at a hundred feet a shot in the wanger is going to hurt like crazy."

He just shakes his head and gives us a dare-devil grin. I can kinda see how he's related to Sammy Smith now, he's a gutsy bugger.

"Okay, bud. Have it your way. Run up to the other end and we'll yell when it looks like about a hundred feet or so."

Marc takes off running and I start dumping balls into the hopper on one of these guy's guns.

"Let him get about two hundred feet guys." I say. "We may as well give him every advantage we can. That's further than even this sweet gun can fire in a straight trajectory. I'll just have to shoot high and try to get the correct arc."

Jer, Kyle and Scully start yelling at Marc and are telling him that he is far enough. I look up and see that two hundred feet is a bit more distance than I had in my minds eye. But these guns are top of the line and I'm sure they are firing at least three hundred feet per second velocity. I still have no doubt that I can hit the dude. I just have to lead him correctly.

I drop down on one knee and prop an elbow on the opposite knee. I have pretty good stability now. I aim towards Marc and raise my sights up about tree height level. Jer yells out ...

"Ready?" Marc nods his head yes. Jer makes a chopping motion with his arm and I depress the trigger.

The sound coming from this gun is almost like a hum. The balls are flying out so fast that ya can't hear the individual pops or anything. You can also see a line of green balls flying through the air like tracers from a machine gun. It's definitely a beautiful thing to behold. I feel myself charged up with excitement as I watch the balls reach the height of their arc and commence to drop towards the ground. It's under two seconds of firing time now and the balls are nearly at the target. Marc starts running full tilt to his left. I swing my gun slightly in the direction he is running. The balls are hitting the ground short of his distance so I raise the barrel a bit higher while moving the gun to chase him down. Paint-balls are making mini-explosions in the distance.

We are probably four seconds into the firing sequence now and Marc still hasn't been hit. Now he is starting a circle-around maneuver. He is heading towards us and then circling back to run in the opposite direction. The balls chase him down but land a bit high because he ran forward a ways. I continue my sweep into the opposite direction now, following him. We are a good six or seven seconds into this and I imagine Marc is starting to feel a bit cocky by now. I figure it's time to quit playing cat and mouse. I quickly sweep the gun forward of where he is running - firing where he will be rather than where he has been. After sweeping a bit forward of his direction I then reverse myself and sweep backwards. If I'm right, some balls should catch him from both directions. I hope I'm right because the gun is making a whirring sound now and nothing is emerging. I have just shot off two hundred rounds in under ten seconds.

I stop firing and just watch the results catch up to my efforts. The line of balls that were chasing right behind Marc speed up dramatically and, suddenly, we can see a burst of green exploding across his side and chest. Marc skids to a halt with both his hands covering the area we saw take the hits. He's facing toward us now.

"Ow, ow ... son-of-a-bitch!" we hear him yell.

The balls continue to sweep past him and then reverse direction. They are heading towards him again. You can see them exploding on the ground in a direct collision course for him. But Marc has stopped looking. He is concentrating on what must be some very stinging welts right now. The line of explosions catch up to him and we see two more green explosions find their mark. The first one hits his hip and the second ... oh, my God! RIGHT IN THE CROTCH! Oh ... that poor little bastard! His hands have dropped from his chest to his balls. And now Marc has dropped to his knees.

I realize I'm holding four hundred dollars worth of equipment in my hands, but that doesn't stop me from dropping it as I start rushing towards Marc. Everyone else is running with me.

Marc was strangely quiet when the paint-balls collided with the Marc balls. But he isn't quiet now. He is making a sound like an air-raid siren - one high pitched wail! There are probably volunteer firemen in the next county running for the fire house right now! The gardeners, on the other end of the estate, are probably shaking their trimmers and blowers - thinking the sound is coming from their equipment. I'll tell ya what ... this is one blood-curdling scream!

Still on his knees, holding his nards, Marc is pitching forward and lands ... "smack"... face-mask first on the ground. This doesn't seem to make any perceptible change in the volume of the siren-like scream piercing the air. Only now he is slamming his pelvis into the ground like he's dry humping the earth. He's trying, I suppose, to pound the pain out of his system.

I am in pure panic mode myself and manage to beat everyone to him by a long ways. I drop to my knees next to Marc and, grabbing a hip and shoulder, I throw him onto his back. I'm not being gentle at all in my need to see the extent of the damages. I grab both his wrists and whip them away from his groin - expecting to see a shredded piece of flesh where that cute tally-whacker once hung. But his pecker is still there. And it seems to be in one piece. What I do see is a perfectly circular red mark right at the base of his dick - right where the dick attaches to the pubic area.

I let go of Marc's wrists and fall back onto my heels - a long whoosh of air escaping my lungs. Thank God ... lots of pain but no damage. There's nothing I can think to do for him but help him wait it out until the pain begins to ebb.

Trevor shoots up behind Marc and raises him to a sitting position, cradling him. Everyone is yelling at once - wanting to know the extent of the damage. Marc has replaced his hands over the area of his torment though so no-one else has seen the lack of damage.

"How bad is it ... how bad is it?" they are all yelling at once.

Now ... I've probably told ya before that I can be a total shit ... haven't I? Well, if I haven't then let me tell ya right now ... I have the capacity to be a total shit! And that's spelled with a capital 'shit'. I just have the perverse desire to scare the living bejesus out of a kid that is already in enough pain for twelve of us. Don't ask me why ... it's just cuz I can - and probably because his cocky attitude was begging for it. Anyways, I tell them ...

"Oh my God, guys ... I shot his dick clean OFF ... his nut sack too ... OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD ... snigger!"

From all the yelling and confusion there is a sudden and total silence. Even Marc has quit yelling. People are staring at him bug-eyed and in shock. Marc looks down at the shaking hands that are cradling his poor boyhood and slowly lifts them away - his face a mask of fear for what he is about to discover. What he discovers is an ordinary dick with a big red circle by it. It looks sorta like a happy face wearing a chef's hat ... har, har, har ... snort, snort ... har, har!

"Oh, ya BASTARD, MICHAEL!" he yells, with another string of profanities. It's kinda hard for me to hear it though cuz I've just pitched forward in a laughing fit.

Jeremy says, "Cheeze-us, Mic ... you are a prick!" I just look up at him and nod my head yes ... har, har, har!

Soon everyone but Marc and Trevor are convulsing right along with me. And I think Trevor's having a tough time maintaining a straight face himself.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow ..." Marc's making small whimpering sounds now - the siren-like wails having died down. Trevor, who still has Marc cuddled against his chest, says to him ...

"Marcus! Marcus is there anything I can do to make you feel better?"

Marc stops groaning and nods his head against his buddy's chest. Trevors lays his friend flat on the ground and removes the boy's paint-ball mask. He's looking with concern into Marc's eyes and asks again ...

"What do you want me to do, Marcus?"

"Marc's lips are starting to twist into a smile and he says ...

"Ya need to kiss it all better, Richie-Rich. Ya need to kiss it all better ... heheheh."

Trevor slaps him on the arm and stands up.

"You Bozo, Marcus! I swear ... I never know when I can take you seriously!"

Marc is guffawing right along with the rest of us now. Evidently the stinging has subsided to bearable proportions. Then he looks over at me and, still laughing, he says ...

"One way or another, Michael ... I am going to get even with you today ... dickwad ... haa, haa, haa." All I can do is nod my head 'okay' cuz I'm still convulsing. What the hell, I've got it coming ... har, har, har!

It's a slow moving Marc that eases himself into the healing water of Trevor's in-ground hot tub. We had slipped his swim suit back on him and helped him to limp back to the house. Trevor pointed out the changing rooms by the outdoor pool and the rest of us have donned our swim suits as well. We all ease our way into the hot water. Trevor turns a dial that sends courses of bubbly water-jets swirling against our backs and sides. Hot damn ... too bad our hot pool in the woods don't have these jets. It's like getting an underwater massage. But after awhile the temperature gets to be too much for all of us and we find ourselves sitting on the edge of the tub with our feet dangling inside. I look over at Marc and notice a couple more red smiley faces on his chest, just below his nipples.

"Hey, Marcus," I comment, "looks like yer trying to grow an extra couple of nipples."

He looks down and grins. Then he looks up at Trevor and wiggles his eyebrows.

"Here's a couple more places that need to be kissed better," he tells him.

Trevor says ...

"I'll see if I can get Maria to do it right after she serves lunch."

Marc makes a 'yuck' face and shakes his head.

"So tell me, Marc ..." I say, looking in his direction, "what does yer brother look like with his eyebrows shaved?"

I am waiting for Marc to burst into peels of laughter like he did yesterday when he told us all about his brother's punishment. But the smile slides right off his face and I could swear he's starting to tear up.

"Excuse me," he says, "but I need to go to the bathroom." He climbs to his feet suddenly and jogs towards the house. Everyone is watching him leave and there is a hush over the group. Everyone senses that I hit on a raw nerve somehow. We all look over towards Trevor who has a tear trickling down one cheek. He doesn't make any attempt to get up and go after his friend, probably sensing that Marc needs to be alone for a bit.

"What's wrong, Trevor? What did I say?" I ask him.

Trevor sniffs and wipes the tear off his cheek with the back of his hand.

"Marcus feels really bad for his brother now. When he went home last night, Sammy cornered him in their bedroom. I guess Sammy had been crying most of the day. He was feeling really bad about what he did to Marcus."

Trevor is looking each of us in the eyes in turn and he says ...

"Listen, I probably shouldn't be saying this, but ..." and he looks down into his lap. "But I figure since you fellows are all like Marcus and me ... you know, gay I mean ... I feel I can trust you with this."

He looks back up. You can see that he is trying to figure out what, or how much, he can safely say to us.

"Marcus should really be the one to be telling you this. And I think he will feel a lot better if I can convince him to open up. But I will say this ... things aren't really as bad as they may seem between Marcus and his big brother. Well, they aren't now. Sammy opened up to Marcus in a big way and ... well, I think you need to hear the rest from him."

What the heck is he talking about? What does anybody being gay have to do with anything? I am about to ask him when Marc makes his reappearance. He wanders back to sit again on the edge of the hot tub, next to Trevor. His face is dry but his eyes are wet. He was gone just long enough to compose himself.

"Did ya tell them?" Marc asks his friend.

"No ... I think you should though, Marcus. These are your friends and they may be able to help us figure out what to do."

I don't know about the rest of these boys, but I feel like I have a lead weight in the center of my chest. Jeremy probably feels the same way when he reaches over to Marc and puts a hand on the kid's shoulder. "Look, Marc," he says, "Mic and I have only known ya for a day now, but we feel like you're family."

"That's true, Marc, we're all family here," Kyle tells him.

Marc starts tearing up again but doesn't feel the need to slip away this time.

"Oh guys, things have been so bad for Sammy, and I didn't even know. When we were in our room last night he broke down and told me something." He looks up and sweeps his gaze from one boy to another.

"You guys have to give me yer promise not to say anything to him or anyone else. I know ya don't like him, but ya have to make me this promise anyway. I wouldn't tell ya, only I don't know what to do. I really need some help."

Just as soon as Marc says this I can feel myself tearing up. It's true that I haven't any love for the guy whatsoever. But when ya hear about someone breaking down emotionally, ya can't help but have empathy for him.

"Can we swear on this, guys?" Jeremy asks the group. Everyone nods yes and then we all tell Marc that we swear.

"Well," he says, "Sammy grabbed me in a bear hug and started bawling and said he was so very, very sorry for cutting my hair off. He said he was in a rage - but it wasn't even me that he was mad at. Well ... he was mad at me in a way, but not because I laughed at his hair being cut so short. He was jealous that I felt so comfortable being able to love Trevor! I never tried to hide my feelings about Trevor and my folks had a talk with me about gay feelings and stuff. They aren't happy about it but they are pretty understanding. They told me they loved me and support me. They just asked me to promise that Trevor and I would hold off doing grown-up stuff together as long as we possibly could. My Dad says it's possible this could just be a phase and that I'll grow out of it."

Marc stops long enough to take a sip from his coke can. Trevor is rubbing Marc's back and not even attempting to hide the tears that are coursing down his cheek. Marc looks over at Trevor, smiles wistfully and says ...

"What do ya think, Richie-Rich ... suppose we'll grow out of it?"

Trevor returns the smile and gives a little shake of his head. Then he scoots over closer to Marc and wraps an arm around his friend. Marc looks over towards Jeremy and says ...

"Sammy told me that he's gay, too!"

We all take a sharp intake of breath. Sammy Smith ... gay? No way! Mister macho, date all the girls, swaggering, bragging Sammy Smith? You couldn't have surprised me more by telling me that the Queen of England was really a man in disguise.

"He said he's known for a long, long time but just couldn't accept it. He's been trying everything he can think of to try and change himself. He's even had sex with a girl from his school. But he said the only way he could do it was by thinking stuff that he didn't want to think about ... you know ... thinking about sex with a guy. He never tried it a second time cuz it just proved to himself how gay he actually was. So he put on this big, macho front hoping that people wouldn't see the real Sammy Smith. And if he really liked someone, if he was really attracted to them, he would treat them like shit. This was a way to punish himself for having feelings for another guy.

"Wait a minute ..." Kyle says, "he probably picked on my brother Tyson more than anyone else. Does that mean ...?"

"Probably." Marc answers the unfinished question. "He didn't name names but then I guess we can all put two and two together."

"Holy shit!" Kyle responds. "Whatever we do, we can't let this get back to my brother. I mean ... I could tell ya something surprising about Ty, but one thing that's not surprising is that he doesn't have any love for Sammy. I wouldn't want him to use this to hurt him anymore than Sammy's already hurting."

The remark Kyle just made may have gone over everyone else's head but not mine. He said he could tell us something surprising about his brother. Now curiosity is going to drive me nuts until I can get him off to the side and ask him to explain it. What can he tell us about Tyson that would be surprising? Ya don't suppose he's hinting that his big brother could be gay too, do ya? Nah ... what are the odds of that? I mean, two sets of brothers who both happen to be gay? It has to be something else. I'd be less surprised to hear that my sister's a lesbian and our neighbor's poodle likes to fuck rabbits!

"So, what do I do, guys? What if he gets to feeling so bad he tries to do something stupid, like hurt himself, or worse?"

"Marc," Jeremy says, "how did he seem after he told ya all this? Did he act like it was a load off his chest that he finally told someone? Or did he say it like it was a last will and testament sort of a thing?"

Marc thought for a few seconds. Then he says ...

"Actually, he calmed down a lot after he said everything he had to say. Especially after I hugged him and told him that I hoped this meant I was going to get the big brother back that I used to have - the one that was kind to me and would do stuff with me. Then he smiled at me and asked me if I'd still want him to be that close again. I just told him he was a dumb ass and hugged him some more."

"There ya go, Marc! You've already given him all the medicine ya possibly could," Jeremy says. "But, tell me, if ya were so worried about him, how come ya left him today to come over to Trevor's house?"

That question seemed to sting him a bit. But he answers by saying ...

"I was going to stick with him like glue today. But he told me he had some things to do that were private. First of all, he said he was going to explain everything to Dad. And he said he wanted to do it alone. Then, he said he had someone else he needed to talk to ... to apologize to. I hope he doesn't do something stupid like announcing to the world that he's gay or something. I told him to please, please think about who he told his secret to. That it was something that would effect the whole family, not just himself. He told me not to worry ... but I can't help it."

Kyle has this blanched, pasty look now. You can almost see fear in his eyes when he asks ...

"Marc, he didn't say who it is he needs to apologize to, did he? And if he didn't, do ya have any guesses who that someone might be?"

"No! I don't know," Marc answers. "I don't know a lot about what's been happening in his life for the last year or so. He's been very close-mouthed. I mean, he used to be very open with me and looked out for me just like he was a second Dad or something. But then he just closed himself off and became a very private person."

Marc looks back and forth between Jeremy and me. He continues with ...

"Now, of course, I know what was happening in his head and why he was pushing people away. He was trying to keep his feelings secret. I guess he thought that if I knew he was gay that I would stop loving him. And that seems so strange: he found out I was gay and that didn't make him stop loving me. He was jealous, yes, but he didn't feel any different about me. But I guess he just couldn't see things happening the other way around."

He looks over to Kyle and tells him ...

"So, Kyle, I don't have any idea who Sammy needs to apologize to. I think you're afraid it might be yer brother, though. So tell me, please, if it turns out to be Tyson, how do ya think yer brother'll act?"

Kyle doesn't say anything for a minute. He seems to be trying to formulate an answer. Finally he just shakes his head and says ...

"I'm not really sure. Ty can be a really nice guy. He's a lot like me - he doesn't like to see other people in pain. But Sammy has been treating him so badly for such a long time now that I can't even guess how he'd react. It would probably depend on how Sammy approached him."

We all sit there for awhile, quietly, each person wrapped up in his own thoughts. I, for one, am having trouble digesting it all. My attitude and feelings towards Sammy have just done a hundred and eighty degree turn though. I just finished going through a period of hiding my sexuality from myself just like Sammy. I can so easily see how Sammy would react the way he has. There is no way I can dislike this guy now - he's so much like me that it's scary.

"Michael," Jeremy says, trying to get my attention. I look over to him. He has this sad, pensive expression on his face. He asks me ...

"Do ya think we have some apologizing of our own to do to Sammy? Do ya think it would help him or would he just kill us?"

Marc looks over at Jeremy questioningly. You can tell he's wondering what we could possibly have to apologize to his brother about. Then his jaw drops as comprehension dawns on him. He asks Jeremy ...

"Are you the guys ... did you guys ... are you the glue guys?"

Jeremy just looks at him for a second or two and then nods his head yes.

Marc and Trevor both suck in a big breath of air, totally surprised. But their surprise is doubled when they hear our little Scully say ...

"Uhhh ... actually, I was in on that as well, Marc. The glue was kinda my idea."

Then Kyle adds his two-cents worth. "Let's don't forget that my brother was in on this too, you guys. There's enough blame to go around. Hell, if I'd known about it ahead of time, I probably would have helped, too."

Marc and Trevor's eyes are as big around as saucers after hearing this. Neither one of them seem to know what to say. Then, all of a sudden, Marc starts laughing like a maniac.

"Oh my God!" he says, when he is finally able to draw a breath. "Sammy doesn't know it, but the boy he's been teasing so viciously has gotten payback! This is good! Hell ... this is great! Maybe now Tyson will be more open to forgiving Sammy - if he's the one Sammy is apologizing too!"

Marc is looking at Kyle as he says this. Hoping that Kyle will agree with him. Hoping that, somehow, this might be a key that will solve some things. But all Kyle can do is to shrug in acknowledgment. Who knows; things will just have to play themselves out.

I am pretty sure that Sammy feels a ton of relief though, after unloading on his brother. I don't think it's likely that he'll do anything stupid. And it sounds like Marc and Sammy's parents are pretty supportive people. Sammy's talk with his Dad should go a long way towards making him feel loved and accepted. I just hope that finding out that both of their boys are gay is something their parents can deal with. It's definitely going to come as a shock, since Sammy has always been so masculine and macho-acting. But for right now, I think our job is to cheer up Marc and let him know we really are his brothers.

Poor Marc. And poor Sammy. There are so many ways things can play themselves out. Let's just hope that cool heads can prevail and people don't get hurt any worse than they already have been.

Once again, I'm thanking you for following the boys' adventures. Please send me some feedback. Next chapter - the boys enjoy the indoor pool and a bit of skinny-dipping. Sammy makes an appearance!

Copyright 2007. No duplication without author's permission. No posting on another web-site without approval. No pissing out the car window - I just washed the car.