By Dashiell Walraven
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"Oliver, honey, wake up," Mom's voice seemed to come from another time and place. A shimmering cloud of silvery static, sort of like what you see on the television when no channels are coming in, rose from my consciousness. Blinking, tried to raise my head from the pillow, only to be greeted with a sickening wave of nausea. I flopped back down, wondering why I was in bed to start with.
"What happened," I groaned, "I feel awful sick."
"Stay quiet a moment," she said soothingly, "I think you must have fainted. Your father and some others helped carry you to your bunk." I moaned as I remembered what happened and a fresh wave of heartache washed over me.
"Oh God, Mom," I choked, "Garrett's dead."
"Shhhh," she hushed, "Garrett is not dead Oliver, but he's badly hurt and he's very cold. The doctor is with him now and is trying to stabilize him so we can get him to a hospital." My heart leapt and I sat up abruptly, much to my stomach's distress, but I didn't care.
"Really?" I gasped, "he's not dead?"
"Yes, really," she nodded, "his is very sick, but for the moment anyway, he is still with us."
"Oh thank God," I cried against her shoulder, "when I saw him, I thought sure..."
"I know dear, " she comforted me, "I know." She brushed my hair from my eyes and rubbed my temples for a moment, it felt amazingly good. I closed my eyes and asked,
"How long was I out?"
"Not long, my dear, perhaps a few minutes."
"Can I go see him?"
"I don't know honey," she said, "what say we go find out." I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and stood up, I felt a little wobbly. After a deep breath, I steadied myself and followed Mom down into the great room. Neal came rushing over but pulled up short, trying to read my expression. I smiled weakly, he grinned back. In that moment, I wanted to just bear-hug him, but we stood awkwardly apart; neither one of us wanting to seem foolish in front of the others.
"You okay?" Neal asked softly.
"Yeah," I muttered, "I'm good." Mom mussed both our hair and gave a little chuckle.
"Wait here a second, Oliver," she said, "I'll go find out if you can check on Garrett." She slipped into Garrett's room. I stood there, looking after her for a few minutes, before my father came out and walked over to us.
"I'm sorry Oliver, the doctor is still working, we shouldn't bother him."
"Dad..." I said, crestfallen, "... please? I won't get in the way, I just want to see him. Please?" My father considered it for a moment and then nodded.
"Okay, you and Neal can come in, but stand against the wall, and don't interfere. Okay?"
We both nodded and followed him toward the room. My mother met us at the door with a very perplexed look on her face.
"What's wrong?" Dad asked her.
"I'm not sure," she said in quiet concern, "I don't understand all this stuff, but the doctor is taking his clothes off."
"What?" Dad's eyebrows shot up, "You mean Garrett's? We cut those off already."
"No, no," Mom interrupted, "HIS clothes, the doctor. He said something about having to warm Garrett up. He's going to get into the bed with Garrett."
"I guess that makes sense," Dad shrugged, "I have heard people of doing that to transfer body heat."
"Probably would be the most direct way to accomplish it."
"Yes, but..." Mom looked at me and Neal for a moment, and then to her feet.
"What?" Dad asked, a little exasperated.
"It's just that," she whispered nervously, "well... it seemed that when you walked out, he must have thought I followed you... and he... uhm..." Dad stared at her, and cocked an eyebrow. "Well it looked to me like the doctor was..."
"Was what?" my father was losing patience.
"Well it looked like the doctor was touching Garrett, you know... down there." She made a brief, discrete hand motion to indicate one's private parts. My father's eyes narrowed and he strode through the door. We stood there, my mother, Neal and I, and listened to the hushed dialog from within.
I could barely hear my father and the doctor talking. A heavy thump and more low mutterings followed, but I couldn't make out what they said.
"Oliver and Neal," Dad's voice carried through the partially opened door, "come in here please." As we entered, my father stepped away from the underwear clad doctor, who smoothed out wrinles in his undershirt, "I see your point , sir," the doctor said, adjusting his glasses, "perhaps it would be best."
"Oliver," my father said, "I have a very special favor to ask of you and Neal." I was staring at Garrett's still form on the bed. His shallow breathing barely moved the bedclothes and his face still bore a deathly pallor. His bloodied nose looked cleaned up, a clean dressing with a small, bloody dot stuck to his forehead over his left eye, held by a crudely made cravat torn from linens. "I need you both to get undressed and get into the bed on either side of Garrett, so you can warm him with the heat from your bodies."
Neal was already pulling his sweater over his head before I could register Dad's request. Seeing Neal disrobe kicked my brain back into gear, and I started taking my clothes off as well. For a moment, I felt very self-conscious with my mother in the room, but when Neal shucked his briefs without hesitation, I followed his lead. We lifted the covers and started to climb in.
"Easy," exclaimed the doctor, "you must be very gentle or his heart could stop!" Very gingerly, we both climbed into the large bed, and slid up next to the left and right of Garrett's frigid body.
"Oh geez," Neal muttered, "He's really cold!"
"I know, right?" I whispered back to him, "It's like snuggling up to a side of beef."
As the doctor dressed himself, my mother and father pulled up a couple of extra comforters over us. Involuntarily, I started to shiver. I looked over Garrett to see Neal, his teeth chattering, leaning over to press his full length against Garrett's side. We both wrapped our arms across Garrett's chest and lay there, shivering and chattering, willing our combined warmth into him. The adults in the room watched us for a few minutes until my father broke the silence.
"Lay still with him boys," he said softly, "we'll be back in a little while to check on you, alright?" We nodded, still shivering. "Come with me," my father spoke sternly to the doctor, "I'd like to speak with you in private." The adults left the room and in the fading afternoon light, I clung to my friends and silently prayed for the strength to hold on. Presently, our shivering stopped as we became accustomed to Garrett's chilly body.
"Hey Oliver," Neal whispered to me, after we'd been left alone for ten minutes or so, "How long you know Garrett?"
"I dunno," I shrugged, "pretty much all my life."
"Seems like a pretty nice guy."
"Yeah," I sighed, "he is." We were quiet again for a short while, but then Neal started talking again.
"It's just that, he seems special to you."
"Jealous?" I gave a half-hearted grin.
"Naw," he snorted, "I mean... I guess I don't know what I mean." He let the conversation stall for a moment. "It's just...," Neal continued, "I was wondering if, you know, those things you showed me last summer... if he showed you them first." My mouth went a little dry, and I thought about changing the subject, but figured I owed Neal an honest answer.
"Yeah, sort of, I guess," I said, searching his eyes for a clue to what he was thinking. Neal didn't say anything else; he just traced lazy circles with a finger on the back of my hand, where it lay on Garrett's chest. It felt nice, his light touch, and I desperately wanted to be holding him in that moment, rather than the comatose, older boy between us. I suddenly felt very conflicted and confused. I loved Garrett very much, but more like in a big-brother kind of way. I felt guilty for suddenly wanting to clamber over him to get to Neal. Byrying my face in the pillow for a moment, I let a single tear slip out to soak into the fabric before getting a hold of myself again.
Neal lifted his hand from mine, so I looked up, to see him gently brushing Garrett's hair away from the forehead bandage, and exploring Garrett's bushy eyebrows with the tips of his fingers. I watched Neal's face as he gently touched Garrett's battered, but still handsom features. I imagined that my expression had been the same a summer ago, before Neal ever arrived, when Garrett took me up to the rocky outcropping of the Indian cave high above the busy lake, to shed our clothes and bask like lizards in the sun. In that place, I dared to explore him, and he did not push me away.
His body was endlessly fascinating to me. From the strong arms and legs, to the skinny trail of dark hair that lead from his belly button, down below his waistline. I gazed at him, enraptured. The soft folds of skin beneath his arms, and the warm scent of Old Spice that lingered there, the firm curl of his ears and the strong angle of his jaw; all held my attention as I ran my hands over every surface of Garrett's beautiful body. Saving the best for last, I took the most time with his penis. Neither enormous nor very small, it looked like a larger version of my own, minus the extra skin at the end. In the sunlight, the skin glowed and felt like warm velvet. The more I brushed it with my fingertips, the harder and more erect it became. I marveled at how it could be so stiff, and yet the skin remain so cottony soft. When I boldly risked taking him into my mouth, his breath quickened and his belly tensed. Later, he did the same for me, opening a new dimension of delight I had never considered possible.
A soft knock at the door broke my reverie, as my mother and Dr. Reardon quietly padded into the room. The light was almost gone from the room now, and I realized both Neal and I had drifted off to sleep. Dr. Reardon bent over me and felt Garrett's forehead with the back of his hand. He pulled the covers down, I assumed to get a better look at Garrett, so I started to turn away.
"No, no, it's fine," the doctor said, "you don't need to move." He pulled the covers down low enough to press his fingers into Garret's groin. At the same time I realized he was looking down at my naked body, I also saw that I had a raging boner pointing toward Garrett's hip. Instinctively I pressed in closer to hide it from the doctor's gaze. The doctor huffed a little bit and stood up, covering both of us up once more.
"I think he's coming along nicely," the doctor whispered to my mother, who nodded with a smile. As they left, the doctor threw me a wink before walking out. As the warmth of the blanket returned, I lay my head back on the pillow next to Garrett and listened to his breathing. It seemed slower now, and not as shallow as before.
Laying my hand on Garrett's chest, he definitely seemed warmer. I couldn't see his complexion in the darkened room, but I imagined his color was returning. Neal's own soft snoring combined with Garrett's to make me feel sleepy again. My hand, moving almost of its own accord, slowly drifted down Garrett's chest and into the warm, dark brush below. There, it wrapped around Garrett's limp penis. More accurately, my fingers wrapped around Neal's hand, which was already there.