STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by male-to-male romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2000 by archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Pocketful of Stars

By archer

Chapter 1

When I was a boy -- wait a sec, I’m still a boy -- technically. But, I hate the term boy. I’m fourteen. I don’t want to be called a boy anymore. I prefer young man. Guy is good. Kid is OK. Teenager if you’re as old as my grandma. Even student. But not boy.

Sorry about that. I get off the subject a lot. It’s one of the things you’re going to have to get used to. I generally get back to the original topic.

I guess I’d better tell you a little about myself. My name is Joe Ryan. I live in Bloomington, Illinois. I’m finishing eighth grade at Bloomington Junior High. I’m going to high school next year. My parents are divorced, and I live with my mom and two sisters. Their names are Carrie and Cindy. I’m the only boy -- oops, now I did it -- male in the house. It’s very lonely and I hate it. I also hate when my mom refers to me as the man of the house. My dad lives in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. I miss him a lot. We were very close. Not that I don’t love my mom. I just want a guy around.

Oh, yeah. What I look like: well, girls always call me cute. I hate that word. Cute. Reminds me of baby rabbits. I’m about average height for a fourteen year old, and average weight and I have brown hair and blue eyes.

So, back to my story. This took place about the time I was six or seven. My whole family went to the beach. I think it was in Michigan, but I really can’t remember exactly where it was. We rented a cabin right on a lake and there was a big, sandy beach. We went swimming every day.

My dad is an astronomer. No, not astrologer. Those are bogus people who think that they can predict the future by the position of the stars and planets. No, my dad studies stars and planets and time and the Big Bang and all sorts of stuff. I think it’s reallly interesting stuff. I may want to be an astronomer when I get older, but you have to be good in math. And I suck in math. I’m much better in reading and English and writing. More about that, later.

I’m doing it again, right? Getting off the subject again. Ok, I don’t want to confuse you. I’ll stick to the topic.

We’re all on the beach one sunny, hot afternoon. The girls were scared of the water, but my dad and i splashed around and had a great time. The water was cold, though, and we got out after a while. I was wearing cutoff jeans because I was so skinny. See, when I was younger, I was really skinny. I was so skinny that my mom had a hard time finding clothes for me. Before we went on vacation, she tried to find a bathing suit that fit me, but they were all too big. She bought one anyway, and hoped that the drawstring around the waist would help keep them up. Was she ever wrong! We went to the public pool in Bloomington a few days later and they kept falling off me when I jumped in the water. Talk about embarrassing! So, before we went on vacation, she took a pair of my old jeans and cut the legs off. She said I’d grow into the trunks eventually.

Dad and I got out of the water. He sat on a towel on the sand. I can still remember how hot the sand was. It burned my feet! I was a bit cold from the lake, so I sat in Dad’s lap. Remember, I’m just a little kid!

He put his arms around me. He said, “I love you, Joe.”

“I love you, Dad.”

He picked up a handful of sand. “Did you know that there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on this beach?”


“It’s true. Remember the time we looked in the telescope?”


“There were more stars in the telescope than the grains of sand I’m holding.” He opened his hand and the sand slipped through his fingers.

“Wow! Is that true, Dad?”

“Yes, son.”

“Why can’t I see the stars sometimes, Dad?”

“There’s a lot of reasons. It could be clouds are blocking them. Or there’s too much light around.” He stopped talking for a minute. “But always rembember, they’re still there. And they’re still inside you.” He poked me in the ribs.

I giggled. “I don’t get it.”

“You have stars inside you, even when you can’t see them in the sky. Because you are a star. You are part of the universe. You are loved and love is the whole universe. So when you love, you are the stars and sky and universe.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but it sure sounded cool.

He picked up more sand. “I’m going to put some stars in your pocket.” He slid some sand in the pocket of my cutoff jeans. “Pretend it’s stars. Whenever you can’t see the stars in the sky, remember they’re in you. And if you can’t remember the stars are in you, just reach in your pocket.”

That night, as my dad put lotion on my sunburned back, he sang to me:

                                Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
                                Save it for a rainy day
                               Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
                               Never let it fade away

I’ll never forget how his fingers felt on my back. It felt so good, I got a boner. If anyone tells you that little kids don’t get boners, they don’t know what they’re talking about!

My mom tried for years to break me of the habit of putting sand in my pocket. She’s do the laundry, and the sand would get everywhere.

Mom is putting on her makeup in our small, cramped bathroom. I watched her as she carefull applied a cover to hide the dark circles under her eyes. She looked tired. She had worked a full day at Dinah’s Diner. Yes, Dinah’s is as tacky as it sounds.

“Mom, I have to go to the bathroom,” I remind her.

She flashed me a quick smile. “I’ll be done in a minute, Joe.” She took a puff from her cigarette. I watched the bluish smoke as it curled up toward the light fixture over the sink. Mom is a really good-looking mother, for her age. Lately, though, expecially after the divorce, she has started to look really tired. I think she is working too hard. I wonder how she pays all the bills.

I’m beginning to wonder if a person’s bladder can burst. That would be painful!


“I’m done now.”

“Who are you going out with tonight? Frank? Barry?”

“Well,” she said in a tone that told me she was controlling her anger, “if you must know, his name is Mark.” She starts to put her makeup away. The plastic makeup cases click together as she deposits them in the zippered bag she keeps her makeup in. “But frankly, I don’t see that it’s any of your business.” She put the makeup case on the back of the toilet tank.

“You’re getting taller every day,” she commented as she left the bathroom.

I guess my bladder didn’t burst after all.

My two sisters are plastered in front of the television. They’re watching a show I can’t stand. I had wanted to watch something else. I guess I lose again.

Mom walked into the living room, making her rounds. It’s sort of a ritual with her. She went through the house, checking to see if the windows are doors were locked. She left a list of emergency phone numbers on the refrigerator. Once again, I’m stuck babysitting. And the worst part is, I don’t even get paid.

“Are you going out tonight, Mom?” my sistet Cindy asked.

Carrie anwered, “No, she’s going out to get milk.”

“Why are you all dressed up to get milk?” Cindy is only eight, so some of her stupidity is understandable.

I said, “She’s not really going out to get milk, stupid. She’s going out to get Mark.”

“Who’s Mark?” Carrie asked.

Mom tightened her lips. “None of you business. Do you have your homework done?”

Carrie sighed, “Yeah I did it at school.”

“Good. Now remember: Don’t cook anything, don’t let anyone in, and go to bed by ten.”

“Mom,” I interrupted. “I need that six dollars for that yearbook by tomorrow.”

“Good luck.”

“What do you mean?”

“That means I don’t have the money. I wish I had it to give to you.”

“You’re always broke.”

“When you work for a living, then you can criticize.”

I decided to live dangerously. “You seem to have enough money to go out with Mark.”

She flashed me one of her dirtiest looks. You know the one: If looks could kill I’d be six feet under right now. “That’s none of your concern..” She opened the front door, then turned and pointed a finger at me. “Don’t fight with your sisters. “

After we heard the screen door slam, Carrie turned to me and asked, “I wonder who this guy Mark is?”

“Don’t know. She wouldn’t say much about him.”

“Well, I want a new daddy,” Cindy added.

“You are so stupid,” I told her. “Besides we already have a father.”

“I’m telling mom you told me to shut up and you called me stupid.”

“Shut up, stupid.” I slammed into my bedroom.

I like my room. It’s pretty messy, and my mom is always yelling at me to clean it up. But I like it messy, it feels more comfortable. There’s dirty clothes on the floor, and I make my bed about twice a year. There are papers and books everywhere. No one can say it doesn’t look lived in. Once in a while, Mom gets on a clean-room kick. She wants it to look like something out of House and Garden. You know the ones I’m talking about; they’re so clean and neat that no normal person could possibly live there.

I sighed and plopped on the bed. Another boring night. My stupid sisters weren’t going to give up the TV.

I went over to my bookshelves. There was an old picture in a macaroni frame I made in Cub Scouts. I spray painted it gold. The picture was taken about five years ago when everyone in my family was smiling. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Dad is in the picture. I look a lot like him. Brown hair and blue eyes. Mine was blond when I was younger, but it got darker as I got older. It still gets light if I’m in the sun a lot.

Both my parents look young and happy. When I went to see my dad in Wisconsin two summers ago, he had grown a beard, and it made him look a lot older. I told him I didn’t like it. He told me it wasn’t any of my business.

I guess a lot of things aren’t my business anymore.

I looked out the window that faces Illinois State. I could sneak out the window and be back in by ten. I’ve done it before. If Cindy found out, she would tell my mom. It’s not worth the trouble.

Most of the buildings at ISU were dark. If the University students were still here, I could call my Big Brother. He was a pretty cool guy, most of the time. He took me roller skating and to the movies a few times. I liked going over to his place. It gave me an excuse to get out of the house.

But he’s gone now. ISU finished classes the first week of May. That was about two weeks ago.

I had an idea. I could go upstairs. I like to go upstairs. When my parents got divorced, my mom got this big old house. There are three bedrooms downstairs, plus a big room upstairs. Carrie sleeps up there.

I climbed the stairs quietly. Carrie doesn’t like me coming up here. But she can’t see me because the stairs are in back of the house. Sometimes my mom calls this an efficiency apartment. I can’t see where she gets the name efficiency because it’s too small to be an efficient apartment. There’s a small room that’s supposed to be a bathroom. There’s no fixtures in it now. You can see where the toilet, sink and shower stall are supposed to go, because the plumbing is still there. I’ve been trying to convince my mom to put the fixtures back in, so there’s no threat of bursting bladders, like tonight.

I hear the front doorbell ring, and I look out the front window to see if I can spot who is at the door. I forgot that the roof of the porch blocks the view. So I run down the stairs.

“....but he can’t come out.” I hear Carrie say to whoever is at the door.

“Oh, yes, I can,” I correct Carrie. I see it’s my best friend, Josh.

Mom and I have a deal. When I’m babysitting, I can go on the porch. She let me have the privilege in a moment of weakness. I reminded her of what it was like to be fourteen. So, I can visit on the porch, but I can’t step off the porch, and my friend can’t come in the house. A few weeks ago, Josh was here, and I let him use the bathroom. Carrie tried to get me in trouble for that, but Mom is pretty reasonable and let me go with a warning. If I weren’t so mature, I would have stuck my tongue out at her.

I have known Josh since second grade. He lives a block away. We have the most fun together. We team up and make teachers mad. He does all sort of crazy things. Last Fourth of July, we took firecrackers to Carrie’s room and threw them at cars passing on the street. Josh has the craziest sense of humor. He put shampoo in a fountain at the mall. The funniest thing he ever did was the garbage can trick. On Wednesday, which is garbage day around my neighborhood, he went out on a mission. He took nylon fish line and strung it from empty garbage cans on one side of the street to empty ones on the other side. When a car drove down the street, it got caught on the fish line. The garbage cans smacked the doors of the car, and then started dragging behind until the car stopped. I laughed so hard, I almost wet my pants! We were smart enough not to do it on a block where we lived. And it was a lucky thing we didn’t get caught.

He stays overnight at least once a week during the summer. Or I stay over at his house. We joined Cub Scouts at the same time, and quit at the same time. We like the same kind of movies, and video games and TV shows. We can talk about anything. Well, almost anything. He talks about girls, and I listen.

Not only is Josh my best friend, he is gorgeous. Drop dead gorgeous. He’s got sandy blond hair and blue eyes. And he’s a jock. He’s got the sexiest body. He’s got wide shoulders that taper down to a narrow waist. I never tell Josh how attracted I am to him. Like I said, we talk about everything. Except one thing.

You see, I’m gay. At least, I think I am. I think I forgot to tell you about that, sorry. Well, I’m not sure if I’m gay or not. I’ve never talked about it with anyone, or told anyone. I know what you’re thinking. How could a fourteen-year-old guy know he’s gay? Well, I just do, OK? My first wet dream last year was about another guy. Josh, in fact.

I have a Playgirl under my mattress. It was another one of Josh’s brainstorms. He found out that they tear the covers off the magazines and throw the old issues out. One night the three of us raided the dumpster in back of the store. Josh and Kyle were after Playboys bit I found a Playgirl. I took a Playboy too, but I stuffed the Playgirl inside. I threw out the Playboy later.

Being gay is inherited, like being left-handed. I read that in the Advocate. Are you surprised I read the Advocate? It’s at Bloomington Public Library. The article said that the latest scientific thinking is that gayness is caused by a gene. It was pretty interesting. I must have inherited it from someone, and I think I know who.

“Hey,” I say to Josh.

“I talked to Mrs. Blaisdell after school today to check on my grade.” She is our algebra teacher. She’s a real bitch. I’m not doing very well in that class.


“And I’m passing.”

“Cool.” When he didn’t say anything else, I raised one eyebrow. I’m good at doing that. “And?”

“Well, she said that there were other people in the class who weren’t doing so well.”


“And they might have to go to summer school.”

“Yeah, so?”

“You’re one of them.”

I could feel my heart sink and my knees shake. I sat down ont he steps.

“Get out of here, Cindy.” Josh said to her. She was listening by the open window.

“Cindy, I’m going to kill you.”

“I’m gonna tell mom.”

“Not if I tell her about what really happened to the toilet.” About a week ago, Cindy wet her pants and to hide the evidence, she flushed her underwear down the toilet. It plugged up the toilet and no matter how hard i used the plunger, I couldn’t get the drain to clear. When Mom got home, we all acted stupid like we didn;t know how the toilet got that way. Mom tried to plunge it, and finally got it unblocked. But, now I have something against Cindy. As long as Mom doesn’t find out the truth, I could use it to keep her quiet.

“Summer school sucks,” Josh tried to sympathize.

“Tell me. That bitch!”

He put a hand on my shoulder. I love it when he touches me. “I’m sorry, dude.”

“Hey, maybe it won’t happen. I got a 90 on the last test.” I didn’t mention that I haven’t done any homework since Spring Break.

“I’m sorry. I know how much you wanted to go to your dad’s.”

“But I get to spend more” I almost said with you, but I stopped myself just in time.

“I gotta go, dude.”

“OK. Thanks for coming over.” I put my hand on his shoulder. I figured if he could do it, so could I.

After Josh left, I sat on the porch steps. This could ruin my whole summer. I was planning going to my dad’s without my sisters. I was going to spend almost the whole summer there. Summer school lasts at least four weeks. And if I don’t pass, I can’t go to high school. My mom and dad are going to be so pissed!

I just sat there, trying to figure out how to break it to my mom and dad and feeling sorry for myself, until ten o’clock came around and I had to go inside the house.

Thanks for reading! Your comments are appreciated and valued.

Be sure to check out my other story in Nifty Archive; Paternal Instincts in the Gay Male category and the College subcategory.

Or, you can find all my work and the work of other authors at my website. archerland. It is the link in the bottom left corner. ICQ 61283246