Oliver of the Adirondacks
By Dashiell Walraven
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My mother skated over and hooked her arm into mine, steering me away from the others. .
"Hold me close Oliver," she said with a smile, "I'm freaking freezing out here." I smiled back and we fell into a familiar rhythm as we skated away from the other guests. We'd been skating outside for a couple of hours. A bonfire roared and spit just at the shoreline, several kids and their parents gripped mugs of hot chocolate or coffee as they sat on logs, warming themselves. Overhead, the cold sunshine of the morning were being replaced by low hanging, slate grey clouds. There was a bite to the air, but it was still.
"Mom?" I asked, "Will we go visit Neal and his family this year?"
"Oh I don't know," she said, "It was very nice of them to offer, but Hartford is not exactly a stone's throw away, we'd have to take a room somewhere." She left off the part about it being expensive, but I understood. I tried to not let my disappointment show. We skated at a leisurely pace, toward the middle of the cove, the noise of the other skater's conversations sounded distant and echoed off the surrounding mountains. Mom steered me into a long, lazy circle, our skates making a solitary hiss on the ice. "Oliver," she said quietly, leaning her head toward me, "I was just wondering about something."
"Huh?" I looked over to her, my hair hanging over one eye. She brushed it away and tucked it behind my ear.
"Oh my goodness Ollie, we have to get your hair cut," she chuckled, "look at this mess." She paused and looked into my eyes. "Ollie, darling..." she hesitated, "do you have any girlfriends, or anything like that?" I felt my face flush, and I turned to stare up the face of the mountain; I saw the opening of the Indian cave, jutting from the cliff above, and I remembered what Garrett and I had done there. I turned back to look at Mom.
"Uhm... no," I stuttered, "I mean, not like GIRLfriend girlfriend, just like, you know... friends." Mom nodded, looking down the long, icy length of the lake. The point where the lake bent around a mountain, was lost in the cold grayness of the day, as the weather slowly closed in.
"What about that Lizzie Barnstable?" Mom inquired, tossing her head toward the guests milling about near the shoreline. I looked over, and saw Lizzie vaguely silhouetted against the fire, clutching a mug and bringing it gingerly to her lips.
"Mom!" I exclaimed, "Seriously?"
"She's very nice," Mom said, "I see her looking at you. One could certainly do worse than have Lizzie-Bee for a girlfriend, she's very sweet."
"Mom," I said very seriously, "She's nice, but... I mean... Mom!" She smiled at my flustered speech. My face burned at the cheeks, I knew I had flushed crimson.
"You are so handsome when you're embarrassed, " she giggled, "just like your father."
"Looks like we might get some snow," I said, looking down the valley to the ever more low-hanging clouds. Mom patted me on the shoulder.
"Way to change subject, son," she grinned wickedly at me, "nice try."
"Aw Mom..." I said, digging a toe-pick into the ice, stopping our forward momentum, "do we have to talk about this?" Mom swung around on my arm, and stopped in front of me.
"Just tell me, has your father spoken to you yet about doing stuff with girls?"
"You know..." she said looking around for a second, "like, `sex' stuff?"
"Mom, I..." my words dried up in my throat. She narrowed her eyes and her look bore right through me. Panic came over me as the memories of my activities with Neal and Garrett played through my mind. It felt like she had opened my skull and plucked the memory directly from my brain. Oddly, amidst the terror washing over my belly, I felt a surge in my loins.
"Oh my goodness..." she said, trying to make sense of my expression "don't tell me you've already had sex with a girl!". My mouth moved but nothing came out but a pathetic squeak. The inscrutable look on Mom's face made it difficult for me to figure out her thoughts. Her eyes were wide, perhaps anticipating my answer, but it almost looked like she had a proud little smirk too; all very confusing. I breathed a little sigh; at least the way she phrased the question meant I wouldn't need to lie.
"No Mom, I have not had sex with a girl." Blinking in a sudden gust of bitter wind, I realized, to my great horror, that my penis was beginning to stiffen and poke down the leg of my long johns, as flashes of my liaisons with Neal still flickered in my mind. I silently thanked the Lord for the many, thick layers of winter clothing.
"Are you sure?" she asked, searching my face for evidence of deceit.
"Mom," I said as matter-of-factly as I could manage, "I think I would have remembered that."
"Fair enough," she said, as if done with it, "but if you ever start thinking about it, make sure you and Dad have a talk about things. I want grandchildren one day, just not soon." With that, the conversation was over. So went most of the serious conversations with my mother; not much dancing around the subject. She knew when the topic of conversation had exceeded my ability to tolerate further discussion; she made her point, and then left me to stew on it. She again took my arm, and we started to skate back to the shore. We passed Lizzie-Bee, who gave a coy, little wave to me. I returned the wave, and found myself smiling, the color again filling my cheeks.
Neal skated over to me, his short, black hair peeking out from beneath his wool cap, his ears red from the cold.
"Oliver! Speed skate in 3, 2, 1!" he yelled. Without any further warning, he took off, out of the cove and toward the center of the lake, skating furiously. I growled and took off after him, not to be outskated in spite of Neal's unfair advantage. Instead of trying to match his frantic sprint, I took up long, flowing strokes, settling immediately into a swaying rhythm that maximized my speed while conserving energy.
"Oh geez, there he goes," I heard my father say as he receded into the distance, "Watch this you guys, Neal's already lost this race." I smiled to myself, my father's confidence boosting my strength. Neal was making a classic amateur's mistake, pumping his legs madly, pushing off on his toe-picks. Chunks of ice sprayed out every time he dug in and pushed off, not really delivering any forward momentum. Within moments, my sure and steady pace accelerated me to top speed, and I easily rocketed past him, nearly bowling him over in the process. Having overtaken him, I stopped skating altogether, and simply let my inertia glide me to the small island in the middle of the cove. There, I turned, waved to him, sat down and waited for him to pull up in front of me. He bent over at the waist, wheezing and blowing out clouds of steam, I could see a rivulet of sweat stream down his temple.
"Dude, what the hell?" he laughed through his gasping breaths, "you got rockets attached to those blades?"
"Nope, but I am on the speed-skating team at school."
"Ha!" he shrieked, "no fair!" I shrugged, he was, after all, the one who started the race to begin with. Still bent over, with this hands on his knees, he look up at me, through his bangs, and flashed me that 100 watt smile of his. "You gotta show me how to do that."
"You sure you got it in ya?" I teased, "you sound like an old jalopy the way you're breathing." He managed to stand up straight and flip me a middle finger. I giggled at that and stood up.
"Don't rely on your toe-picks like that, turn your back blade perpendicular to..."
"Cross-ways, like so." I crossed my back blade, set the edge against the ice, and easily pushed off. Neal emulated me, and gave a strong push, gliding forward. I found myself making a mental note of how nicely that stance accentuated the little bulge in the front of his jeans. "Okay now," I demonstrated, "move into a rhythm like this, making your strokes long and powerful."
"You never complained about my strokes before," he giggled mischievously. I grinned and blushed as he started to match my stride. Soon, we both were making rapid headway across the ice, simultaneously skating with one arm behind our backs, the other swaying with each stroke. About midway between the island and the gathered guests at the cove's shoreline, a frigid wind howled down the valley and across the ice, nearly knocking us from our skates. I hiked up my collar around my ears and decided that when I got to shore, I was done for the day. I could see the other guests turn their backs to the artic blast.
Suddenly, I recognized a feeling of overwhelming dread filling my stomach and chest. I know the sensation intimately, and remembered that it represented no real danger, it was my body reacting to something the lake was doing. I called out to Neal, but before I could explain, it happened. A loud, low, cannon like report boomed through the valley and reverberated off the surrounding mountainsides. The ice shook beneath our feet and screams rose from the guests as they scrambled for the safety of the shore.
"Whoo hoo!" I hollered at the top of my lungs, arms upraised, "ice shift!" My voice was lost in the screeching of the wind and the general clamor of the guests falling over each other and running up the shore. I leisurely glided to the shore's edge, where my parents were helping kids and adults alike get their bearings.
"What the devil was that?" one woman cried.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph..." grunted another fellow, picking himself up after being trampled by several others.
"Oh my God!" another woman shrieked, "she's bleeding!" I looked over and saw Lizzie latch onto a little girl's arm, holding pressure on a two-inch cut that was bleeding pretty good. The girl started crying, and several adults gathered around and started ministering to her. The crowd seemed to come to the same conclusion at once, enough of all this winter fun, let us go inside. I tossed some shovelfulls of snow on the small fire, extinguishing it in a billow of steam and smoke. I turned, and looked at the people marching up the shore to the trail leading back to the lodge. I squinted through my fogged glasses, but didn't see Neal. I shouted for him, but nobody turned back to look at me, except for Neal's father.
Looking toward my small cabin in the woods, I thought I saw a shadow on the porch, and figured Neal had retreated there for some reason. Trudging up the trail, I called after him, but there still came no answer. About halfway to the cabin, I saw him, leaning his head against the outside of the door, his fist pressed up against the door jamb, his shoulders were moving like he was laughing.
"Neal?" I said, "What gives?"
"Go away!" he hollered, his voice thick and moist. I stopped dead in my tracks, unsure of what to do.
"Neal?" I asked again, "are you crying?"
"Go the fuck away!" he turned toward me, "leave me alone!"
I stood there, stunned, paralyzed and hurt beyond belief. I felt tears well in my eyes, along with a surprising flood of hot, bitter anger. Fine, fuck you then, I wanted to say, but I didn't because just then, Neal's father strode past me purposefully. I figured he must have heard Neal's outburst because his jaw was set in such a way that made him look very, very angry. I turned and fled down the path, retreating to the lodge with Neal's painful words still burning in my ears.
Back at the lodge, I said nothing to anybody, and set about doing the daily setup for dinner. Neal had been my constant companion for this activity ever since he arrived, so it felt suddenly lonely to be doing it without him again. I put on my apron, and started rolling up silverware in napkins. The activity was sufficiently mindless that I began trying to fathom what had just happened. One moment, Neal and I were the best of friends, and the next, he seemed angry at me. No matter how I turned it over in my head, it didn't make sense. I wondered if he were upset at being bested in the skating race, but he seemed alright with it directly afterwards. All smiles and jokes, Neal even accepted a quick lesson on the way back. The events surrounding the ice-shift blurred as I replayed them, the screaming adults and kids, and mad scramble for the shoreline. I vaguely remembered seeing a shadow of a person racing up the beach, to the trail leading to my little hunter's cabin, but I wasn't sure if I'd actually seen that or if my mind was filling in the details for me. I sighed, feeling very heavy-hearted.
"Can you use some help?" asked Lizzie, wrapping an apron around her waist.
"Uhm, sure," I shrugged, "just getting stuff ready for dinner." Lizzie busied herself, the silverware dancing in her slender fingers as she arranged them and then deftly wrapped a napkin around each set.
"My parents own a restaurant," she said, "I help out there a lot." I nodded, but remained otherwise silent as we continued our work. "That girl Carolyn, she's gonna be okay, was just a little cut."
"Really?" I said, raising an eyebrow, "looked like it was a coupla-inches long."
"It was," she nodded, "but one of the men here is a doctor, and he stitched her up well as you please."
"Oh," I said, "that's good." I cast a sidelong look at Lizzie, as she turned to get another tray of silverware, and noticed how long her legs looked. Just about my height, her brown hair fell in a luxurious, flaxen sheet, almost to her waistline. Every casual shake of her head resulted in languid waves which rippled down the length of her lustrous hair. There could be no doubt of her beauty, but if you cut her hair short like Neal's, I thought she'd still look like a boy. Well, except for the breasts, they were starting to be more visible. Actually, more visible than I'd previously noticed since I'd only been seeing her in heavy, winter clothing. There, in the kitchen, she wore a clingy sweater; the way the apron slung over her neck, it sort of accentuated those breasts. I realized I was staring only when I looked up and saw her catch my eyes. I turned back to my wrapping duties with the tips of my ears burning, but not before seeing her smile a little bit. I looked up through window into the lodge, only to see my mom grinning from ear to ear.
"Mom sent you in here didn't she?" I asked evenly, not averting my gaze away from my meddling mother. Lizzie giggled a little.
"Yup," she said with amusement, "she said you might need some help. You don't mind do you?"
"Naw," I shrugged, "it's good. Thanks."
"Doesn't Neal usually help you?" she inquired, "where's he today?"
"Dunno," I shrugged again, "he's mad at me or something, I guess."
"Mad?" Lizzie looked up at me, "what the devil would he have to be mad at you for?" I shook my head silently.
"I dunno," I sighed, "it was like all of a sudden he's swearin' at me and stuff, telling me to go away."
"Bummer," she said, "must be getting his period or something." That made me snort, and we ended up dissolving into a fit of giggles. Our laughter filled the room, and I could see my mother out of the corner of my eye, elbowing my Dad. I didn't care; let her think what she wanted, I was just grateful for the company and the chance to laugh at something. Still, the laughter felt temporary, a little hurt lingered in the pit of my stomach. Neal hadn't yet re-emerged since his angry-looking father marched his tearful, sniffling, sorry-looking son, into their room. Even as his words still stung me, I worried about him, and wondered what really happened.
Dinner service was mostly unremarkable. The food was, of course, Mom's wonderful cooking, but as I sat there, Neal's absence was conspicuous. An awkward silence surrounded me as everyone else made small talk and passed platters of food around. Finally, Neal's father broke the silence; he was filling a plate, which he handed to me.
"Oliver," he said, "do me the favor of taking this to Neal in our room please."
"Me?" I asked, suddenly anxious.
"Yes," he said, trying to look friendly, "he's probably very hungry by now, and I think he has something to say to you." I sat there, unsure of what to do. My dad poked me in the side with a not-so-subtle elbow, and nodded his head toward the plate.
"Don't be rude son," he muttered, "take the plate." Mutely, I accepted the plate, gathered some fresh silverware and a napkin and walked slowly up the stairs to the second level. Glancing over the railing, I saw most everyone was watching me, but as soon as they saw me looking at them, they returned to their animated conversations around the tables. I turned and looked down the hallway, squared my shoulders, and walked up to the door. It was slightly ajar, so I pushed the door with the toe of my shoe, it squeaked loudly on its hinges.
"Neal?" I whispered, "You there?"
"Yeah," came his quiet reply.
"Your Dad asked me to bring you some food," I said as I walked in slowly, closing the door behind me with my elbow, "he thought you might be hungry." Neal was lying on a bed, looking miserable, as if he'd been crying for years. His eyes were blood-shot and moist, his face streaked and his nose looked puffy and raw. I set the plate on the stand next to the bed and stood there dumbly, not knowing what to say.
"What?" he said, glaring at me, and then turning his face away from the light.
"I, uh..." I wasn't sure what to say, "did you want some, uh, water or something." Neal was quiet for a moment, it seemed to me like he was trying to ignore me, or pretend I wasn't there. "Alright then," I let my hands fall to my side, "I guess I'll go then." I turned to walk out.
"Oliver," he started, his voice husky and low, "I uh..., um..., I'm sorry." I stopped but did not turn around.
"I sure wish I knew what it was that I did to you," I said quietly. I heard him sniff, and blow his nose. "Was it the race?" I asked, "because I'd have let you win if that was it."
"No," he said, almost with a laugh in his voice. I turned to face him, anger was beginning to seethe in my chest.
"Then what was it?" I demanded, "what made you tell me to fu..." My voice broke, I realized I was yelling, and I didn't want to cry in front of him. I squared off again and spoke in a lower voice. "Why did you tell me to `fuck off'?" I hissed, I felt my fists clenching at my sides. Neal sighed heavily and scrubbed at his eyes with the heels of hands.
"Oh man," he said, resignedly, "that thing on the ice..."
"I thought you said it wasn't the race."
"Not the race, the thing, you know, that happened, like the earthquake?"
"That?" I asked, incredulous, "That was no earthquake, just the ice shifting. Happens all the time."
"Yeah well, that's what my dad told me," he said, folding his arms across his chest.
"So?" I still wasn't following him.
"It scared me is all." He looked away again, as if the admission shamed him terribly, I was confused.
"Okay." I stood there, by the bed looking down at him, trying to read his expression for any clue about what was going on, without much success. Another few moments of silence passed between us. "So..." I ventured, "it scared you, I can understand that. I got scared the first time I heard it too, thought the world was gonna end or something."
"No Oliver," he said in a clipped tone, "I mean, it really scared me."
"I know," I agreed, "I saw the look on everybody's face."
"Scared the shit outta me."
"I get it," I said, somewhat impatiently, "it scared the shit out of you..." I stopped, and looked right at him with a raised eyebrow. I gulped. "Seriously?"
"Yup," he nodded gravely. I felt the breath go out of me, and sat down on the edge of the bed next to him; he shifted over some. "Screamed like a chick in a psycho movie and filled my drawers like a little, fuckin' two-year-old baby."
"No way!" I gasped in horror, "Dude, that's awful!" He lay there grimly staring at the ceiling, his embarrassment making him angry at himself.
"Yeah, so anyways," he said blandly, "that's why I was being such a knucklehead, `cause I didn't want you see me with shit-stains all over myself."
"Oh geez," I breathed, "I am so sorry dude, I totally get it."
"Do ya?" he asked, doubtfully.
"No, I do, I understand," I assured him in all seriousness, "I think I'd have reacted the same way if I turned out to be a total pussy." His eyes shot wide, he sat up and socked me in the arm with a great big smile.
We both laughed out loud as I rubbed my bicep where he punched me. I made a big pouty face, stuck my lower lip out and started to fake-blubber about my arm hurting, and the next thing I knew, Neal tackled me on the bed with a roar of affected rage, attempting to get me in a half-nelson. I evaded his grip easily and flipped him over on his back, sitting astride him and pinning his shoulders to the bed.
"Nice try, Nimrod." I stuck my nose in his face and growled. "You haven't eaten yet, your powers are weak." With a grunt, he made a half-hearted try at throwing me off, but then gave up and lay there, looking up at me with those sparkling, dark eyes of his, grinning madly. Beneath, I felt the ridge of his now hardened cock, pressing up into my butt-crack; he flexed it for me to make sure I knew it was there. I shifted my weight and felt him beneath me, he half-closed his eyes, lifted his chin and turned slightly to my right. A vein pulsing gently in his slender neck drew my gaze, which followed it down past the collar where his clavicle bulged under the cloth. Bending over at the waist, I leaned down and touched my lips to the base of his neck.
A small moan sounded low in his chest; I felt him throb underneath me. I stuck my arms beneath him and stretched my legs out, pushing my pelvis into him, my own stiffening penis bulging out against his. Outside, I heard a burst of laughter in the conversation around the table. Neal breathed out heavily and drew in a sharp intake of breath as my tongue traced down, across his collarbone and I kissed him gently there. Neal spread his legs, and wrapped them around my legs, grinding against me insistently. His lips found mine and he began frantically sucking and chewing on them. His arms wrapped around my chest and he seemed to be trying to press himself into my body. We lay there, fully clothed, grinding our hips together, our breath coming in soft grunts and gasps.
"Stop!" Neal whispered heatedly, into my mouth, "I'm gonna shoot in my pants!" I immediately stopped grinding and lay there stock-still. His breathing returned to normal, and apart from a few throbs beneath me, nothing happened.
"You okay?" I said, somewhat confused.
"Yeah, good," he said, a little breathlessly, "this is my only clean pair left, I don't want have to explain to my Mom and Dad how I shit in one pair and jizzed in the other." I nodded my understanding, and slowly lifted my weight from him. His dick still raged stiff as a board, pushing the front of his pants out, obscenely pulsing with his racing heart. Without thinking too much about it, I just grabbed the tab of his zipper, tugged it down, and dove my hand into his undies to free his penis from it's constraints. "What are you doing?" he whispered.
"Shhhh!" I hushed, "I'm gonna make sure you don't make a mess." With that, I lowered my lips around him and drew him into my mouth. I felt him fall back into the pillows, his knees coming up around my shoulders. I felt the metal zipper tapping against my teeth as I rapidly bobbed up and down, applying as much suction as I could muster. Neal groaned deeply and grit his teeth as I let my tongue charge up and down his length. I could taste him, a sweet, slippery tang coming from the tip as my tongue swirled along the slit opening. He bucked under me, driving his dick deeper into my mouth; I felt him twist the fabric of my shirt up into his clenched fist as his abdominal and leg muscles locked tight. His cock swelled thickly in my mouth and I felt it pulse once before three shots of warm liquid landed on my tongue. Swallowing, I pulled his hips toward me and held him securely in my face until the breath rushed out of him, his muscles relaxed suddenly, and the spasms racing along his dick gradually slowed. As he lay there, his breathing slowly returning to normal, I let his now flaccid penis fall from my mouth. He twitched a little as I stuffed it back into his pants and zipped him up.
"Son of a bitch, Oliver!" he breathed, a little wheeze whistled in his husky voice, "Holy shit!"
"You owe me, big time," I growled at him menacingly.
"Yah," he said, laying back and draping an arm across his eyes, "I guess I do." I sat at the edge of the bed with him for a few moments; there was a quiet knock at the door. I was glad to be sitting down because when Neal's mom walked in, I was able to pull the hem of my shirt out and cover up my still aching, hardon that was pushing out the front of my pants.
"Neal? Oliver?" she inquired, "You two doing okay?"
"Yah mom," Neal said, "We're good, right Ol?" I nodded. Neal was the only one who called me "Ol". Whenever anybody else used a diminutive form of my name, I insisted they use "Oliver" instead. All of the adults in my life understood and respected this. My mom sometimes let "Ollie" slip, but I usually let that go by. It sounded to me like a little boy's moniker and made me feel somehow as if whoever said it, was kind of putting me down, or not taking me seriously. When Neal said it however, it didn't seem that way at all. Anyways, I didn't mind it when he called me "Ol" and I wished there was a way to lovingly shorten his name as well.
"Good," said his mother, "I hate to see friends not getting along."
With my once throbbing dick now subsided, I stood up.
"Well, go ahead and eat your food Neal," I said, patting my stomach with an ironic grin, "I'm kinda full anyhow. I'll be in the kitchen, uhm, washing up, just bring me your stuff when you're done, `kay?"
"Okay, cool," Neal said, "I hope I'm not too late to get a taste of something sweet later." I felt my lips curl into a smirk.
"Don't worry," I said, "I'll save you some, there's always plenty."
Neal grinned mischievously, and his mother looked back and forth, trying to read the obvious subtext between us. Failing miserably, she shrugged her shoulders, patted me on the back gently and walked out of the room. I followed her out and returned to the kitchen, trying my best not to smile like a big old Cheshire cat.