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 man-to-man 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 2001 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings, 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 Nick Archer

Chapter 12

I am pedaling the bike as hard as I can to try and catch up with Dennis. My heart is pounding, my legs are starting to ache and the band of my baseball cap is wet with sweat.

"Wait up for me, asshole!" I yelled.

He looked back at me and grinned a devilish grin at me.

Just then, a blur crossed his path. It was another kid on a bike. Dennis swerved to miss him -- or her or it -- and the next thing I knew he was on the grass on the side of the street.

Tad’s bike was on the side of the road, the front wheel still spinning. Dennis was on the grass on all fours.

I hopped off, jumped off my bike and knelt down next to Dennis. My stomach tightened into a knot. Please, God, don’t let anything happen to him. "Are you OK?" The breath had been knocked out of him and he struggled to breathe.

He winced in pain. For a short second, I wished it was me that was hurt and not him. I would have done that for him - I would have taken his pain for him. He sat down on the grass. His left knee looked like raw hamburger that had been left out on the counter overnight to defrost. It was red and brown and oozing blood down his calf. His palms were also scraped up and bloody. For a sec, I thought I was going to puke when I saw it. I didn’t because I swallowed hard, but there was still that bitter taste in my mouth.

Maybe the other kid could go get help. I glanced up, but he was already down the block. He didn’t look back at us at all. Then, he slowly came to stop about a block away. He paused for a moment as if thinking about his next move, and then turned his bike around and rode back to us.

It was Troy! He was wearing the same Milwaukee Brewers baseball cap he had when I met him. I noticed something else that I didn’t notice last time - his deep blue eyes.

By this time, Dennis had caught his breath. "Why don’t you look where you’re going, asshole?" he said to Troy.

"I-I-I’m sorry," he mumbled lamely. "Are you hurt bad?"

"What does it look like?" I asked him sarcastically. I was worried about Dennis. If I had run into Troy under different circumstances, I would have been a lot nicer. He was such a hunk! And he looked particularly good today in a blue tank top and baggy mesh basketball shorts. You know how I feel about mesh basketball shorts! He looked like he had gotten more sun since the last time I met him.

"I live pretty close to here. You could come to my house and call your dad and clean up. Nancy can clean up your knee."

"How far is it?" I asked skeptically.

"Over there," he pointed. "Upper Loch Vista Drive."

I should have known. Upper Loch Vista was one of the fancier streets in Williams Bay. The houses were big, new and expensive. They weren’t on the lakefront, and just in case you don’t know, the closer to the lake the house is, the more expensive it is. But, the houses on Upper Loch have great views, so they are almost as expensive as if they were right on the lakefront. I had never been to anyone’s house up there. So, really, I’m just guessing about the view part. Hey, I can make an educated guess, can’t I?

"Can you walk?" Troy asked Dennis. Troy pulled up the bottom hem of his tank top and wiped his forehead with it, revealing his stomach. And what a pretty stomach it was! He had a six-pack! And if that weren’t enough excitement, the elastic band of his underwear was peeking over the top of his shorts. Haynes. I didn’t know they made guys underwear in aqua! You gotta have a lot of balls to wear aqua underwear in gym class.

Dennis interrupted my thoughts when he moaned in pain. I focused my attention on him again. He winced as he flexed his knee. "I don’t know if I can walk."

I held out a hand to him, wrapped my hand around his wrist so I wouldn’t hurt his palm, and pulled him to his feet. "You can use your bike as a crutch."

He had to climb a steep hill to get to Troy’s house, and I was worried about Dennis. But if his leg hurt, he didn’t complain about it. Still, I could see the pain in his face. His eyebrows creased together. He looked like such a little boy for a few minutes. He looked like he wanted someone to hold him and tell him everything was going to be OK. If we were alone, I would have done it in a second.

"I remember you," Troy said to me.

"Yeah, I remember you, too." I don’t really think he remembered me, but at least he pretended like he did. What a jerk, I thought. And you hurt my boyfriend.

I was not going to be impressed with his house, this much I had already decided. I hated showoffs and people who flaunted their money. But when we walked up his driveway I have to admit I was impressed.

The house was a two-story house with brick on the outside. It was long and low and close to the ground. There were lots of windows. I could tell that even though it was new, the builders had been very careful not to hurt the old trees that grew in the yard.

We left the bikes in the driveway and walked around to the back of the house. There was lots of water to see. There was the sparkling blue of Geneva Lake spread out below us like a shimmering blue carpet. And there was a huge built-in pool surrounded by a wooden deck.

What kind of pool was it? How the hell should I know? I’m a midwestern boy - oops - I mean guy. It’s not like this was California or Florida or even Texas. Big built-in pools are still kinda rare around here. Well, not rare, but unusual. Oh, you get what I mean! Not every house on the block has one. Why not? Because basically, they’re useless nine months out of the year.

"Nancy!" Troy yelled as soon as he was in the door. To Dennis, he said, "Sit here." He disappeared into another part of the huge house calling Nancy’s name.

Dennis and I exchanged looks that said Some house! I’m no expert on real estate or the construction industry, but I’ve watched enough This Old House to know when I’m looking at real marble on the floor. And granite countertops in the kitchen. There was expensive furniture in the dining room and expensive cabinets in the kitchen. And there was white carpet in the dining room! Mom would hate the carpet, I thought. If we lived here, she’d change the carpet right away.

I sat in a chair next to Dennis at the kitchen table and smiled at him bravely. I patted his shoulder. Troy appeared in the kitchen with the person I guessed was Nancy.

Nancy was a big girl. She carried a brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a box of sterile cotton, another box of bandages and a dispenser of medical tape.

"Oh no, that knee don’t look too good, eh?" Nancy had a heavy Wisconsin accent. All her vowels were very round, especially the ‘O’ sounds. It was sort of similar to a Canadian accent. She knelt down on the floor in front of Dennis. "Ok, sweetie, this might sting a little. I’m going to clean out the wound."

Dennis sucked in air through his teeth when she applied the peroxide.

"I know, it hurts, it stings. Sorry about that," she apologized sincerely. She looked at his palms. "Why don’t we go over to the kitchen sink so I can clean out the boo-boos on your palms?" she chirped. Boo-boos?

This time Troy helped him to his feet. "C’mon big boy," Troy grunted as he helped Dennis to his feet again. Troy placed Dennis’ arm around his own shoulder. I noticed Dennis’ fingertips slip under Troy’s tank top. I wanted to yell, Body language, Dennis!

Nancy was calm and efficient as she patched up Dennis’ wounds. She was a big old farm girl. She was very friendly and pleasant. She was wearing thick glasses that magnified her small blue eyes. She had a pretty smile and nice, straight teeth. Really, the only thing wrong with her, besides the fact that she was old enough to be my mom, was the fact she was big enough to have her own zip code.

I deduced she wasn’t a member of the family. Then, who was she?

"Would you boys like a Coke?" She asked us after Dennis limped back to his seat at the kitchen table. He made it back to the table on his own, which was a good thing because if Troy had to help him again, I just might have something to say about it.

"Yes, please."

"Where do you boys live?" I was almost ready to correct her about using the word boys when Dennis answered her question.

"On Congress Street."

"How are you getting home?" she asked.

"Very carefully," I told her.

"Oh, no. I can’t let you go down that steep hill again. I’ll drive you."

"What about our bikes?"

"You could leave them here. They’ll be safe here. When you come to pick them up, we could go swimming in the pool."

"Yeah!" Dennis was very enthusiastic about the idea. Much more enthusiastic than I was.

"Oh, that sounds like a good plan. OK boys, let’s get you home now."

I was not looking forward to telling my dad about the accident. He was probably going to be more concerned about his stupid bike than about us!

Dennis must have been thinking the same thing. "My brother is going to be pissed," he said in low tones to me. "His bike is all scratched up."

"Do you want me to come in and explain to him what happened?" Troy asked.

"Oh, no. It would only make things worse."

"No, it wouldn’t. It was all my fault. My dad will buy him a new bike, no problem."

"But….." I tried to protest.

Just then, Nancy pulled into our driveway. Only my dad was home. Tad’s car was missing.

"It’s really no problem," he said as he got out.

"Dad?" I called.

"What’s all the shouting for? Oh, hi, Troy, nice to see you."

"Mr. Ryan, it was all my fault."

Dad looked confused. "What was?"

Dennis gestured to his knee. "Oh, no, Dennis! Are you OK?"

"Yeah, Nancy patched me up pretty well."

"Nancy is our housekeeper," Troy explained. So that explains who she is, I thought.

"Thank you, Troy. That was very nice of you and your housekeeper."

"Dennis’ bike was scratched up in the accident. I’d like to pay for any damages."

Dad shook Troy’s hand. "We’ll take a look at it and see what the damages are. It’s an old bike and Tad hardly ever uses it."

"Still, the accident was my fault, and I’m responsible." God! I thought. This kid really knows how to suck up to adults.

Dad shook his head. "I don’t think we need to decide now. Why don’t we exchange phone numbers and we’ll be in touch."

"Fine, sir. An excellent idea. By the way, I’ve invited Dennis and Joe to swim at my house."

"Excellent, Troy. And you are always welcome here."

"Thanks, Mr. Ryan. See you guys," he said to us.

Dennis and I exchanged looks after he left.

"Such manners, and so well spoken. Why can’t you two antisocial lugheads be more like that?" he asked us rhetorically.

"We would be, if you was as nice to us as you were to him," I mumbled without thinking, and immediately regretted it. Dad gave an angry look and his jaw flexed, but he said nothing. I knew that I was in even more hot water.

As if he was handling a boy half his age, dad put his hands under Dennis’ arms and lifted him up to the counter. "Come on, big boy. I want to take a look at your knee." He gave Dennis a playful poke in the ribs.

Dennis giggled and smiled.

Dad lifted the bandages carefully and said, "Mmmm-hh. Looks pretty good. She did a good job of cleaning the wounds out." He spoke in a German accent. "Vell, it lukes like ve von’t haf to amputate."

Dennis laughed and threw his arms around my dad. Dad hugged him in return and patted his back.

A wave of jealousy washed over me for the second time that day. He’s my Dad, dammit! He’s supposed to hug me! Shit!

I had two conclusions: My dad is nice to everyone else but me. And, Everyone loves Dennis, but not me.

I’m going to throw myself a Pity Party. And you’re invited.

You’d think with Dennis’ injuries that we wouldn’t be able to have sex. Wrong! We found a way.

"I can’t even beat off," Dennis said that night, holding up his bandaged hands. "This might be a good time to lend a helping hand."

I grinned. I was more than glad to help him out. It’s strange holding someone else’s dick in your hand. And then I had to figure out how to get him off. I know how I like to jack off. Every guy has his own method and rhythm and grip. I hadn’t learned yet how to give Dennis a hand job.

But, I learned that night! Just when I was about ready to give up and my wrist was starting to ache, he shot a big load. He cleaned himself up and promptly fell asleep.

I held him for a long time. I was unable to turn my brain off and therefore couldn’t get to sleep. I was so confused about so many things. I felt attracted to Troy, and apparently Dennis felt the same way. But I felt jealous when Troy paid attention to him and not to me. How weird is that?

And then there was the whole thing with my Dad. I wanted him to hold me, tease me and poke me in the ribs like he had done to Dennis. But he didn’t. All he did was make sarcastic comments to me. He was such a grouch lately, and I didn’t know why.

After tossing and turning for about an hour and almost waking Dennis up twice, I decided to go out onto the deck. Very quietly, I slipped out the sliding glass door in the bedroom that Dennis and I shared.

The night had gotten cloudy and a low-hanging mist hovered over the lake. The night was so quiet I could hear the waves on the shore of the lake. A single motorboat crossed the lake, leaving a V-shaped wake behind it. I sat there in my underwear and stared out at the lake.

This summer was not turning out the way I planned at all. All of a sudden, I wanted to go home. I stared in the direction that I thought Bloomington would be. I imagined Paul and Josh. I realized all of a sudden how much I missed them. And I missed my mom, and even my stupid sister.

Did you ever feel like crying, just to get it all out? That’s how I felt right then. And so I did. I pulled my legs up onto the chair and wrapped my arms around my knees and let it rip. It didn’t change anything, but it sure felt better.

When I started to run out of tears, I went back into the house, through the living room door this time. In the kitchen, I wiped my face with a piece of paper towel and blew my nose. I poured myself a glass of orange juice and gulped it down.

I’ll tell my dad I want to go home. Tomorrow. He’ll understand.

But as I eased myself back into bed, I thought; Dad might understand, but will Dennis?

The question was still unanswered when I finally fell asleep.

The next day was Thursday, and we were going to add new activities to our Camp Ryan schedules.

OK campers! Today, Dennis has his first counseling session with Ruth. He has to go see her every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the summer. Let me check the camp vehicle roster. The Program Director looks through his papers on his clipboard. Yes, that’s right, Sean will be driving him to his appointments, which are at one in the afternoon. OK, let’s see what else. The PD looks at his papers again. Joe? Joe Ryan, you have to make sure you are in the house at 7PM tonight. That’s when your mom is calling.

All the other campers tease me about my mom calling. "Awww, Joey." "His mommy is calling."

At which point, I would tell them to FUCK OFF!

I could tell the morning was dark and overcast. I could hear my dad’s voice talking to Tad in the kitchen. Campers, in nature class today we’re going to learn the art of stalking so you can listen to other people’s conversations without being detected. I discovered that this is the best time to listen to them. They talk a lot in the morning before they go to work. And I like to listen to adults talk especially if I’m going to be the topic of conversation.

I very carefully lifted myself out of bed. I stood at the bedroom door and listened to the conversation on the other side of the door. I had to pee, but I had to walk through the dining area to get to the bathroom and they would stop talking if I did.

"...So, you think they’re dancing in the sheets?" I heard Tad say.

"I think it’s obvious that they are."

"You’re not upset about it? You don’t want to stop it?"

My dad sighed. "If we tell them to stop, they’re going to be even more determined to get together. I don’t see how we can separate them."

"You didn’t bring him up here so that he could have sex with Dennis, did you?"

Dad got angry. "Hell, no. Jesus! You know better, Tad. You know Joe’s visit was planned for months. Dennis is here simply because he had nowhere else to go. As we talked about before, I’m not exactly thrilled about the idea of him being here, but it was the right thing to do. He needed a place while the court sorts out what to do with him, and having him here was better than any of the alternatives, including juvenile detention."

Juvenile detention? Whoa! What could he have done to possibly end up there? I moved away from the door, slipped on some underwear, and opened the door just the tiniest crack. I sat down cross-legged on the carpet. I juggled my leg to distract me from thinking about the fact my bladder was full. The smell of the coffee floated through the crack and made my stomach growl. I never drink coffee, I hate the taste of it, but I love the smell when it’s brewing.

I had missed just a little of the conversation.

Tad asked my dad, "Did you know Joe was gay?"

This is getting interesting. Am I gay? How does my dad know if I’m not even sure.

Through the crack, I could see Dad sip his coffee. "I suspected."

"You’ve never talked about it with him?"

"No, never."

"Don’t you think it’s time?"

Dad opened the newspaper in front of him. He laughed a short burst. "When did you get to be such a parenting expert, Dr. Benjamin Spock?"

"I’m not. I just think you need to discuss it with him."

"Why? It’s really none of his business what we do in the bedroom."

"True, but I’m not saying you have to give him a play-by-play account."

"I’m not comfortable. I really don’t want to."

Tad lost his patience. "OK, then, fuck you," he said quietly, and started to get up from the table. Whoa! I never heard them talk like that to each other!

Dad grabbed Tad’s wrist. "Calm down. Don’t be so defensive." He let Tad’s wrist go, but Tad stood there. "Sit down again." Tad slowly sat down at the table. Dad took off his reading glasses and tossed them on the newspaper. "Look, just because I’m gay and my son might be doesn’t mean that I have some magic power to talk to him. Some things are still uncomfortable to discuss." Dad put a hand on Tad’s knee. "What are you so afraid of?"

"I’m afraid they’ll hurt each other. Emotionally, I mean."

Dennis hurt me? No way. He would never hurt me. I strained to listen.

"They might. That’s part of growing up. Everybody has crushes and goes through puppy love." Crushes? Puppy love?

Tad asked him, "What are you so afraid of?"

Dad hesitated for a moment. "I’m afraid that he won’t want to come live with me - I mean - us. Every time I try to talk about serious topics, Joe clams up. He hates to ‘sit around and talk,’ as he puts it. He says it’s boring. And, while he is intelligent and I love him dearly, he can be a bit flaky."

Hey! Wait a fucking minute!

"Still, I think you owe it to him."

I decided to make my grand entrance. Besides, I had to pee and I couldn’t hold it much longer.

As I opened the bedroom door, they pulled away from each other, stopped talking and stared at me.

"What?" I said.

"About time you got your lazy ass out of bed," Dad said to me.

"What a freaking grouch," I mumbled as I closed the bathroom door.

While I was in the bathroom, I decided to take my shower. By the time I stepped out of the steamy bathroom, Tad had left for work. Dad had his face in the newspaper again. The newspaper-with-a-body said to me, "I want to have a talk with you."

"And I’d like to talk to you."

"No, just you and me this time."

I got dressed, and put some gel in my hair. By this time, Dennis was awake. I jumped on the bed, we wrestled and giggled for a while. Dad pushed open the bedroom door and it hit the wall behind it with a bang.

"That’s enough now!" he shouted irritably. Dad and I never did have our little ‘talk’ that morning, and I was relieved.

OK, that’s it for the announcements, campers. Make it a great day.

As if!

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