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 2002 by Nick 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 Nick Archer

Chapter 17

The first whole week of August, it was just me and Dad at his house and I was happier than I’d been in a long time. Dad was so much more relaxed when Tad wasn’t around. And he had more time for me. That’s a big plus.

I found that I didn’t miss Dennis all that much. I almost didn’t care anymore. Ok, I’m lying. I did care. But Dennis didn’t love me the way I loved him. And that hurt me the most.

But now I had Troy. True, I wasn’t having sex with him. But we were having a hell of a good time.

I went swimming at his house and finally met his parents. They were very nice, if a bit stiff and formal. Dad took us swimming at the beach. That was a blast! He was in such a good mood. He acted like he was fourteen himself. He dunked us and splashed and played Marco Polo with us.

On Tuesday night, Dad suggested we go to the show. Troy suggested we see Pulp Fiction, but Dad refused.

"Why not?" I asked

"Because it’s R-rated."

"C’mon dad. We’ve been to R-rated movies before."

"It’s extremely violent."

Troy spoke up, "So is Speed." Speed was the other movie option at the Geneva Theater. The third screen was showing Lion King, and although Disney tries to entertain parents and kids, two fourteen-year-old boys would rather die than go see a Disney movie.

Finally, Dad explained, "Quentin Tarrentino is a homophobe, and I refuse to support him and his work." He pressed his lips together tightly.

Troy didn’t say anything but raised one eyebrow and glanced back and forth from him to me.

We did go to see Speed that night, which is a great movie, if you haven’t seen it already. In the darkened theater, I sat between Dad and Troy. Dad had his arm around my shoulders. My left leg brushed up against Troy’s leg in the dark. At first it was an accident. Then, I started to do it on purpose. He never pulled his leg away from mine and I think he moved it closer once or twice. OK, it was a cheap thrill.

Years later, I watched Pulp Fiction on video, and although I didn’t see any evidence of homophobia, I thought it was the most pretentious movie I had ever seen. I hated it.

Those were the highlights of the week. The rest of the time, Troy and I just hung around my house, or I was at his and we played Playstation or watched videos, or just talked.

I started to feel closer to Troy than I had ever felt toward Josh. We talked about everything. He knew when I was being goofy (which is pretty often because I’m 14) and when I was trying to be serious.

It was as if I was driving a speeding car with Troy. We were driving away from Dennis and I watched him become smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. Finally, Dennis disappeared.

Thursday night Tad called and talked to my dad. They had a huge fight. It made me really uncomfortable to listen to the yelling.

When Dad got off the phone, he called to me. "Can you help me unload the dishwasher?"

"Sure, dad." It’s a 14-year-old’s job in life to complain about chores. Or at least do some serious whining. But, that night, I agreed right away. I knew better than to piss him off any more than he already was.

Dad crouched to put the pots away in a lower cabinet. "Son, the judge decided against Tad getting custody of Dennis."


"Primarily because Tad is too young. But also because Dennis has a lot of problems and she doesn’t feel Tad will be able to handle Dennis by himself."

I absorbed this news as I sorted the silverware into the silverware drawer.

"Either way, Tad is moving out. He’s coming up with Dennis and a friend to pack the rest of their stuff and move back to Chicago."

"What’s going to happen to Dennis?"

"He’s going to start school at St. Luke’s in the fall."

"Where’s that?"

"It’s in the south suburbs. I’m not exactly sure where it is." He poured out the shot glass that sat in the top rack. The shot glass was the indicator as to whether the dishwasher had been run. If it was full, the dishes were clean and ready to be put away. Dan trained me to always pour out the shot glass when I put the clean dishes away.

Dad continued, "I’m telling you this because you need to be aware. Dennis will not be a very happy camper when they get back."

"When are they coming?"

"Sometime Saturday afternoon, then the party is Saturday night. They’re going to pack the cars up and leave on Sunday."

"Where’s everybody going to sleep?"

"Good question."

"Since Troy is coming to the party, can he stay overnight?"

Dad grinned, "Sure, I don’t have a problem with that. He can sleep with you. Dennis can sleep on the couch. Tad and his friend can sleep in the loft." He opened the cabinet that held the glasses and started to put them away. He mumbled, "Tad sure as hell isn’t sleeping with me."

"What?" I smiled.

"Nothing," he muttered.

I smiled wider, "I heard that."

"Fine, but you don’t need to repeat it to anyone." He poked me playfully in the ribs.

I put away some Tupperware bowls. "Dad, can Troy stay over Friday night, too?"

Dad laughed. "Always going for the gusto, aren’t you? I think one night is enough."

"Awww, please, Dad?"

He sighed but looked me square in the eyes. "I’ll say this: I can tell how close you two are. And how well you two get along. He’s good for you. You’re good together." Finally, a smile spread across his face and the dimples in his cheeks appeared. "I’ll think about it, Joe."

I had to be satisfied with that.

Dennis was leaving. And to be honest with you, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Tad is leaving. He’s a bitch. No wonder my dad got all stressed out when Tad was around.

But Dennis? I guess I would miss him. I would miss that sparkle in his eye. I would miss his laugh. He could always turn my mood around when he laughed. I would miss his boldness. I smiled when I thought about all the times he grabbed my dick in front of Tad just to see him go off.

But would I ever forgive him?

The next morning was Friday and Dad had the day off of work. When I opened the bedroom door, I could smell the coffee and I knew Dad was up. But I couldn’t see him anywhere.


There was no response.


"I’m up here," he called down from the loft.

When I reached the top of the stairs, I spotted him sitting cross-legged on the floor looking at the bookcases. Beside him was an open cardboard box. He smiled at me and then went back to whatever he was doing.

"What are you doing?"

"I’m packing up Tad’s books for him."

"Oh." I sat on one of the futons. I noticed a mug of coffee sitting on the small table next to it. I picked it up and took a sip.

"Go get your own, if you want some coffee," he said to me. "I never realized how many books were mine," he said as if he were talking to himself. "Tad never did like to read."

"Why are you doing it for him? Why doesn’t he do it himself?"

"I offered."

I was confused. Tad was leaving. I thought that would mean that they wouldn’t be speaking to each other. "Why?"

Instead of answering, Dad mumbled to himself, "I can’t remember if this is his book or mine."

"Is it because you want to get rid of him? Is that why you’re packing his books?"

Dad looked at me and smiled. "No, actually, we’re still pretty good friends. We just have different goals and we want different things. We’re just not going to be…" he stopped himself. I heard the hesitation in his voice. Damn! Just when he was starting to open up to me!

"You’re not going to be lovers anymore," I finished for him.

"Yeah," he agreed with a little smile, although this time he didn’t look at me. I could swear I saw his cheeks get a little red.

I watched him for a while as he scanned the books on each shelf. He had a method. He worked across each shelf from left to right and then down to the next one. Neither of us said anything for a while.

But I was curious. Was Dad’s relationship with Tad like my relationship with Dennis? How was it alike? How was it different? What could I learn from my dad? How could they stay friends?

"Are you going to keep in touch with Tad?"

Dad smiled, reached over and touched the tip of my nose with his finger. "Mr. Nosey." He looked back at the half-full box of books and the smile faded from his face. "Friends aren’t like trash. They aren’t disposable. I’ve lost some friends - people I really cared about - to AIDS." He opened the cover of a book and then closed it and put it in the box. "More than that, Joe, I think it’s important that we try to be on good terms with all people as much as possible. I don’t mean that you should be a pushover. But just remember that just because you don’t love someone doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends. Or at least friendly. I like to think I’m still friends with your mom."

He looked at me. "Do you understand?"

"I think so."

"Ok, good. I’m glad we had this little talk." He swatted my leg playfully with a book. "Ok, now go and let me try and get this done. Find something to amuse yourself for a while."

Just as I stepped on the top step of the stairs, he called me. "Here’s a book you might want to read."

I took the book from his outstretched arm. Trying Hard to Hear You by Sandra Scoppettone. It was yellowed around the edges.

I curled up on the couch and turned on the TV. I wasn’t really watching the TV, but I liked the background noise. I’m a teenager - God, I hate that word - and I like as many different forms of media going at once.

I can’t really describe the feelings when I started to read the book. The description on the back and the cover picture gave me an indication of what the book was going to be about. I looked at the copyright date - 1974. This book was older than me!

The book told from a girl’s point of view. She lived on Long Island with her divorced mom and younger sister. Jeff is her best friend, and he lives next door. That summer Camilla and her friends get involved in a summer theater production. Camilla notices that Jeff is pulling away from her and thinks the cause is a guy by the name of Phil, who is home from college.

I read quickly - I’ve always been a good reader. And I liked the book. Before I knew it, it was almost noon. Dad came downstairs carrying a box.

"Can you help me carry a few boxes down?"

Not exactly my idea of fun - plus I was absorbed in the book. I groaned.

"I’ll take you out to lunch."

"Are you trying to bribe me?"

"Oh, bribe is such an ugly word. Let’s call it an incentive."

A while later, we were whizzing down Highway 50 toward Lake Geneva. I was going to bring the book along, but Dad told me I had to leave it. He said it was rude to read in a restaurant.

"Where do you want to go for lunch?"

"Can we go to that restaurant that you took me to the first day I was here?"

Dad smiled. "Schooner’s? Sure."

We were seated on the deck area again. The lunch menu was a little less expensive - but still, it was pretty pricey

"What can I order?"

"Anything you want."

But I wouldn’t, and Dad knew it. He really knows me pretty well. I was loving this. I always liked going out with just Dad or Mom and no sisters. It almost never happened, though.

All during lunch, I kept thinking about Dennis. I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to see him again. Why didn’t he love me? What was wrong with me? What could I have done differently? What was the real reason Dad didn’t want to take Dennis as a foster son? Why couldn’t Tad get along with my dad? I felt so out of control. And I hated that feeling.

I ordered a burger and Dad ordered a Reuben sandwich.

I wrinkled my nose. "How could you eat that?"

"It’s delicious."

"But it has sauerkraut. Yuk."

"Mmmmm," Dad teased me. "That’s the best part."

He put the dripping sandwich on his plate. "Are you OK? You’re so quiet."

"Yeah," I lied.

"Just checking."

I was in my own little world. And I wasn’t sure if I liked this world.

As we drove back, we passed the public beach in Williams Bay. My eyes started to sting when I recalled all the time I had spent there with Dennis. I remembered when he pushed me into the water and I dunked him. Everything was so much easier back then. How did everything get so complicated all of a sudden?

A few stray tears fell down my cheeks, and I turned my face out the window so Dad couldn’t see me crying. But I think he knew anyway. He slipped in the New Order Substance tape. Blue Monday blared from the speakers. He winced and turned the volume down a bit.

I swiped at the tears and managed a smile.

When we got back to the house, I resumed my position on the couch, only with a blanket this time. The air conditioning was a bit chilly. Dad disappeared into his bedroom. I assumed he was going to take a nap.

The book held me in its spell. Everything seemed to fade away, and the fact that Dennis was leaving escaped my mind. I had to find out what was going to happen next in the book. I also wanted to find out if there was going to be any sex scenes. Hey, I’m a horny boy - ooops - well, you know what I mean. And my only sexual outlet was leaving.

When Camilla discovered that Jeff and Phil were in love with each other, the shit really hit the fan. About this time, I got up and fixed myself some iced tea, and peed. As an afterthought, I grabbed a box of Kleenex. The door to Dad’s bedroom was still closed.

I cried as I read the last chapters. It was such a sad ending - not the ending I had hoped for at all. But it was an excellent book. I piled the used tissues on the coffee table.

When I turned the last page Oprah was on TV, and I knew it was late afternoon. I added the book to the glass of iced tea, the box of Kleenex and the pile of snot rags on the coffee table. I pulled my legs under me and closed my eyes.

"Hi, sleepyhead," dad said from the kitchen. "How about homemade pizza for dinner?"

It was dinnertime already? I glanced at the clock on the VCR. It was ten to five. I wiped my cheeks with my hand.

I didn’t hear Dad walk over to the couch. He almost startled me when he sat down next to me and put an arm around my shoulders.

"Are you OK?" he asked quietly.

I shrugged.

He picked up the book and turned it over. "How did you like the book?"

"Excellent. I didn’t know they had books like this in medieval times."

Dad poked me playfully in the ribs. "Very funny." We sat there for a long moment, not saying anything. Jeopardy! was on TV, but neither of us was watching it. I could feel his eyes search my face. "It’s going to be OK, Joe," he said quietly.

I wasn’t so sure. My heart felt like lead.

"Am I right that you’re not going to be keeping in touch with Dennis?"

"No," I said simply. I felt the tears threatening again. This is really awkward, I thought. I’m not sure I wanted to talk about my boyfriend - former boyfriend - with my dad.

"Do you have any idea what a terrific boy you are? Sorry, I meant to say young man."

"Oh, Dad." I was embarrassed, but I smiled anyway.

"You are. You’re intelligent, sensitive, creative, and you have a great sense of humor. And you’re very handsome. You take after your old man in that respect."

I rolled my eyes and chuckled. "What-ever."

"You are," Dad insisted. "And you won’t be single forever. You’ll find someone who really cares about you."

But I didn’t want to find someone else. I wanted Dennis.

"You’ll get over him," Dad said quietly. "Although, you never forget your first love."

I started to sniffle. Dad kept his arm around my shoulder but didn’t pull me any closer. "What about Troy?"

"What about him?"

"Well…you two spend a lot of time together."

"He’s a friend, Dad. That’s all. He knows, though. We talked about it."

"And he’s OK with it?"

"Sure. Things are different now. Things were a lot different than when this book was written." I glanced at the TV. Double Jeopardy! had just started.

"Dad," I said after a long time. "I’m sorry about Tad."

"Why are you sorry? It’s not your fault."

"Isn’t it? If I wasn’t coming here to live with you… and Dennis… and…"

"Shh-h-h!" dad interrupted me. "It’s not your fault. You had nothing to do with it. We’ve been having problems for a long time. Part of the problem is our age difference."

I stored all this knowledge away. In the past few days, dad had poured out a lot of information out on me, and I soaked it all up like a sponge. I was learning a lot about relationships. Of course, that all this didn’t make me a man. But it brought me a lot closer.

After we ate, we went to pick up Troy. He smiled widely as he approached the car. He was swinging a Nike gym bag that, I guessed, held his clothes. And perhaps a few other things.

"Mom wanted to say ‘hello’ to you," Troy said to dad.

"Sure," Dad said as he switched off the ignition and opened the door. We followed him back toward the house.

Mrs. Allbright was coming out the front door. She was still wearing her red Realtor blazer with a brass nametag that glinted in the setting sun. She shook hands with dad.

"Hi, Marcie."

"Are you sure Troy won’t be in your way?"

"No, not at all. It’s a pleasure to have such a nice young man at our house."

"Well, your son has made quite an impression on us, too." She reached over and ruffled my hair. I blushed.

"Thanks, he’s OK," Dad said in an offhand way. "And he’s going to stay with me here in Williams Bay and start school at Williams Bay High School in the fall."

"You are?" Troy wrapped his arms around me, jumped up and down and hooted. "Woooo hoooo!"

Mrs. Allbright smiled as she told Troy to calm down. "Really, Sean? That’s great! Well, if you have any problems with Troy, don’t hesitate to bring his butt home."

"Thanks, Marcie, but I doubt that will be necessary."

I was a nice guy, for once, because I let Troy ride shotgun. On the way back to the house, he turned around in his seat and squeezed my hand. My heart skipped a beat when he took it.

"I am sooooo happy!" he exclaimed. "I’m so glad you’re going to be here all year."

I smiled. "Me, too."

A bit later, we were sprawled on our stomachs on the living room floor. We shared a huge bowl of popcorn as we watched Star Trek 6 on video. Every so often, Troy would look over at me and smile. I would look into his blue eyes and wish to God he were gay. Please, God, let there be a chance he’s gay.

But then I remembered that Troy was my friend. I was lucky to have him as a friend. He was a lot nicer to me than Dennis. He didn’t seem to have hidden agendas for our friendship. He just liked me for who I was. Dennis always wanted me to do something for him. Troy didn’t have those expectations. I could just be who I was with Troy.

This was it. This was torture time. It was bedtime.

There wasn’t much of a question that Troy would sleep with me. There was a double bed in my room. I’m not even sure if he knew there were futons in the loft, or if he knew about them he didn’t say anything about them.

I suddenly became self-conscious about my body as I stripped down in front of Troy. His eyes were on me!

"You have a nice chest," he commented, "Do you work out?"

I laughed nervously. "No, not really."

I was on the right side of the bed, which was nearest the sliding glass doors. The only light in the room came from a little lamp on my side of the bed. He was standing on the other side of the bed. He pulled off his shirt slowly and stepped out of his shoes. Then, he walked all the way around my side of the bed and pulled his denim shorts off!

What the hell did he do that for? Underneath his shorts, he was wearing a pair of white boxer briefs. I pretended to not to look and I swallowed nervously. The dim light from the lamp highlighted the outline of his dick on his shorts. I held my breath. Did he have a stiffie?

Oh my God, oh my God. What’s a guy to do? He’s damn near flashing me. He walked all the way around the bed just to pull his shorts off. What is he trying to tell me?

One thing for sure, I’m going to let him make the first move. No sense in jumping his bones and then him spreading it all around that I tried to get into his pants.

Finally, he slid in between the sheets and I turned off the light.

The moment the lights went out, I wrapped my hand around my dick.

"Joe?" Troy’s voice was low, raspy and sexy in the dark.


"Good night."

"’Night, buddy."

I couldn’t sleep. The imaged of Troy’s semi-erection in his white boxer shorts kept dancing through my head.

We had forgotten to close the drapes over the sliding glass doors. I watched as cottony clouds started to obscure the slivered moon. I listened to Troy’s breathing. When it evened out, and I was sure he was asleep, I beat off as fast and as quietly as I could.

Finally satisfied and relaxed, I cleaned myself up and drifted off to sleep.

But one question still echoed in my mind as I reached the shores of Slumberland: Why had Troy put on that little show for me?

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other stories here on Nifty, Paternal Insticts/Family Instincts/Thicker Than Water in Relationships section and The Cooksville Chronicles in Historical.

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