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 8

The headlight of the train was a bright spot on the horizon and it glinted off the rails as it approached the Normal station. It was cloudy and cool that morning, but the rain had stopped. Carrie and Cindy were still in bed at home, but Paul and Josh were there to see me off.

The train was actually on time. I was carrying my backpack with a change of clothes, books, my Walkman and tapes. Just before we left the house, Mom brought me a box of Ho-Ho’s she bought at the bakery thrift store. I love them. I could eat the whole box by myself. She gave me her secret smile. It said, ‘I wouldn’t have done this for your sisters.’

The train sounded it’s horn as it got closer to the station. My mom gave me a hug (I allowed it because it was so early and no one would see it.) "Be good. Listen to your father. Clean up your room. Go right to Northwestern Station downtown and don’t talk to anyone." Jeez, now she was reading to me from the Mom Textbook. "I’ll call once a week on Thursday just to say ‘hi’. I love you."

Paul said good bye next. He hugged me tight. "Good-bye, buddy. Thanks for everything."

"What have I given you?"

"The belief that I could start over again."

With the squeal of metal, the train slowed to a stop in front of the station.

Josh held out a tape to me. It was a Sony tape that had been recorded. "I almost forgot to give this to you."

"What is it?"

He shrugged. "Just some songs I recorded from my sister Janet’s collection." Janet listens to alternative stuff, so who knows what might be on the tape? Our eyes met.

All of a sudden, he flung his arms around me. "I’m going to miss you."

"Awwww!" Mom said. "Isn’t that sweet?"

Thanks, Mom, I thought. As if it weren’t awkward enough hugging my best friend for the first time.

I released him before he let me go. "I’ll be back in August."

"But, who will I get in trouble with all summer? John Stevens? Besides, it won’t be the same. You won’t be the same."

"No, I hope not."

"All aboard!"

The conductor helped me climb aboard. I sat on the right side of the coach so I could watch them on the platform. They were waving and smiling. I saw Josh wipe a tear from his eye. Out of the other side of the train, I could see Watterson Towers, the tallest dorm building in the world, disappear.

The train was strangely empty that morning. Mom thought it was going to be crowded, which is why she made the reservations early. We all thought it was going to be crowded, since it was the day after a holiday.

The plan was to take Amtrak to Chicago. The train was supposed to arrive at Union Station at 10 AM. Then, I would walk north on Canal Street for a few blocks to Northwestern Station to take a commuter train to Harvard, where my dad would pick me up. I love that name, Harvard. I told everyone I was going to Harvard.

Up ahead in the car was a family. I’m guessing they were on vacation. They’re supposed to be having a good time. But they’re not. I wanted to strangle the four kids.

Kid: "I want something to eat!"

Mom: "You just ate."

Kid: "But, I’m hungry!"

Mom: "Shut up!"

On and on it went. When I become God, kids under ten are not going to be allowed in public unless they can act like human beings. Look at my sister Cindy. Perfect example.

I was staring out the window at the endless corn and soybean fields. I pulled my Walkman out of my backpack and slid the earphones over the baseball hat I was wearing. On an impulse, I pulled out the tape Josh had given to me. On the cover of the Sony tape, his sister had written the titles and artists of each song. I could tell it was Janet’s handwriting – Josh’s handwriting is very sloppy and I would recognize it instantly. As I expected, there were a lot of alternative artists, a few rap and hip-hop and just a handful of songs I recognized.

A conductor approached me. He was wearing an Amtrak nametag that said "Michael." He had brown hair and shiny blue eyes. He was very good looking, but you could tell he was trying too hard to be good-looking. Know what I mean? Everything was perfect. The nametag was on straight and his moustache was trimmed perfectly. Maybe he had to do it because of his job, I don’t know. Still, he wasn’t as handsome as Paul was.

"Could I see your ticket, sir?"

I pulled the ticket out of my backpack and handed it to him. He studied it and handed it back to me. "Thanks. Are you traveling alone?"

I smiled proudly at him. "Yes."

"Well, I’ll keep an eye out for you."

I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. I’m old enough to ride the train to Chicago by myself, and I can take care of myself. But he certainly was cute!

Then, he winked at me! It was going to be an interesting trip.

I started to get bored looking out the window, and my mind started to wander.

What was I going to do about Josh? I started to get hard again just thinking about what we had done last night. I also started to feel guilty. I really cared about Josh and he was more than a friend. I should have stopped him. I should have said no. But, on the other hand, maybe the sex was an extension of our feelings for each other. Or at least it was for me. And I still hadn’t told him I was gay. It was all very confusing.

Then there was Paul. He still had secrets and things he hadn’t told me. Something had happened with the kid that he called Ty-Bo. Maybe they had sex. I wondered about it. Was he gay? I think he was, but there wasn’t anyone to confirm my suspicions.

I couldn’t believe Carrie yesterday morning! I know she was joking around, but she never tried to kiss me before. And she told me she would miss me, too!

I would miss my mom and my Aunt Lynda almost as much.

Michael the conductor came through the car again. He was checking on the other passengers. He worked the car from front to back like a bee pollinating flowers. Finally, he approached me.

"Everything OK, sweetheart?"

Sweetheart? "Fine."

"Can I get you anything?"

"How about a beer?"

"Oh, cupcake, I would have to see your ID. And unfortunately, I can’t accept your junior high ID as proof of age."

How did he know?

"But, I’d be glad to get you a Coke or Sprite."

"How about some milk?"

"Good boy!"

I smiled at him very carefully. "Milk goes best with Ho-Ho’s. And I prefer to be called a young man."

He smiled and saluted. "Yes, sir!" He rolled his eyes and wiggled his hips ever so slightly. "When you get to be my age, being called a boy is a compliment. I’ll be back with the moo juice in a jiffy."

I wondered what Paul would think of Michael. He would probably get a big kick out of him. I pictured him sitting next to me, smiling and making sarcastic comments. By the time we reached Pontiac, he had returned with the milk.

"What are you smiling about?" He asked me.

"Nothing in particular." I was tempted to tell him Nunya! But I didn’t. "What’s good to eat?"

He wrinkled his nose. "I try to avoid the club car." He leaned toward me and whispered as if we had been best buds forever. "Stick to your Ho-Ho’s. Get something to eat when you get to Chicago."


I wondered what would happen in Lake Geneva. I was excited about seeing my dad, and I knew he would take some time off to spend with me. I wondered how Tad was going to act toward me. I only met him once before, and he was sort of cold toward me. And I wondered what his little brother was like. Was he some sort of hellion? I was dying to find out more ever since I talked to my dad and he told me that he needed tender loving care.

I slipped on the headphones again and listened to Josh’s – I mean, Janet’s – tape. There was a song by Tori Amos that I really liked. Janet had written the name on the cover of the tape. It was called Winter.

The chorus really got to me:

He says when you gonna make up your mind

When you gonna love you as much as I do

When you gonna make up your mind

‘Cause things are gonna change so fast

All the white horses are still in bed

I tell you that I'll always want you near

You say that things change, my dear

Maybe it was the lyrics, or maybe the way she sang it, but it choked me up.

"Joliet, Joliet is next," Michael called out.

Only forty more minutes and we would be in Chicago. The scenery began to change slowly. Cornfields gave way to houses, then to factories, highways and more railroads. I pulled out the Amtrak Magazine from the pocket of the seat in front of me.

Before I knew it, I was at Union Station in Chicago. It took a while for everyone to file off the train. I grabbed my bag and trotted down the aisle. When I finally got off the train, I was in the dank and dingy basement of Union Station. I followed the directional signs to the main station. I was glad my mom insisted on sending most of my clothes ahead. This way, I didn’t have to wait for my baggage. That was good because the train for Harvard leaves at 10:30.

I craned my neck looking at the Main Waiting Room. It was built like a Roman bath. Or something like that. I read it in the Amtrak Magazine.

The next order of business was finding the rest room. I had to go! The bathroom was huge! It was about the size of the locker room at Bloomington Junior High. And it smelled bad!

I stood at the long row of urinals. The urinals were the floor console models, as opposed to the wall-mounted ones. The walls were covered in marble. I chose a spot near the end. There weren’t any other guys down there. As I began to pull my dick out, a man in a suit took the urinal next to mine.

Out of the corner of my eye, I kept an eye on the guy next to me. I estimated he was in his thirties. Maybe it was nothing, but I thought I detected some motion. He was watching me! Mind your own business! I might have touched a college student, but not a guy old enough to be my dad. I moved closer to the urinal; I could feel the cold porcelain against my belly.

When I was done, I quickly zipped up. But as I did, I looked at his dick. Hey, he looked at mine!

Damn, I didn’t know they made them that big! I started to get hard, but I stuffed it in my shorts.

The air outside the station was cooler than in Bloomington. It smelled like a city. I could smell the busses.

I crossed Adams and began to walk north on Canal. Mom had gone over the route with me at the kitchen table. She used a Rand McNally map. There was a ragged man asleep in a doorway. Something deep inside me wanted to stop and help him. But what could I do? I didn’t have much money with me. I couldn’t refer him to someone who could help.

I almost got run over by a taxi on Monroe Street as I gaped at the Sears Tower. After that, I tried to do as little gawking as possible. I didn’t want to appear like a tourist.

The new building that Northwestern Station was in looked like an old-fashioned blue refrigerator. You know the ones I’m talking about? The ones with the rounded corners and no separate freezer door.

Once I was inside, I followed the directional signs to the ticket counter and purchased a ticket to Harvard. Since it was midday, it wasn’t too busy. I had a couple minutes to wander around. A newsstand caught my eye.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a magazine rack as big. At least the bookstore in Eastland Mall doesn’t have one this big. They announced that a Barnes & Noble Bookseller was opening in Bloomington not too long ago. Maybe they’ll have a magazine selection this large!

But they won’t carry these titles! On the top row, there were magazines with the titles Macho, Inches and All Man. I was much too afraid to look through them. My hands got cold and clammy. I tried to look through a People magazine, but I couldn’t. I had to buy one. I picked one called Measure. On the cover it had a guy that looked like Paul. That was all I needed.

I could feel a bead of sweat on my forehead as I handed the magazine to the clerk. I knew he was going to ask me for some age identification. I knew he was going to tell me to put it back. But I was going to take a chance, and I would have never forgiven myself if I didn’t at least try.

The clerk looked bored with the whole thing. He was probably just glad I wasn’t a shoplifter.

He took my money and put the magazine in a plain brown bag. I hurried out of the store. I had to make the train to Harvard.

Safely on the upper level of the commuter train, I pulled my magazine out. I was alone on the upper level. I only flipped through the pages, but I liked what I saw. I looked around nervously. The lower level was almost empty, too. My dick was stiff in my shorts. I wonder.

Quick, Joe, I told myself. I pulled my dick out and partially hid it with the magazine. What if the conductor comes to check your ticket? The guy who looked like Paul was the centerfold. I started stroking myself quickly. Images of messing with Josh on the hide-a-bed in the living room ran through my mind. I glanced at the magazine again. I couldn’t moan, but I did grunt. I came a lot, which is surprising because I had cum the night before. I caught the cum with a newspaper another commuter had left on the train. I wiped up the rest of the mess with a sock I had in my backpack.

I spotted Dad waiting for me on the platform before the train stopped.

Dad looked good. He had shaved off his beard. He hugged me tightly. I let him do it. Jeez, all this public hugging is going to give me a reputation.

"Hi, son. I’m glad you’re here."

"Hi, dad. Me too."

"You are getting so big. Look at the size of those feet. What size are you wearing?"

"Eleven," I mumbled.

"You could go water skiing, without the skis!"

"Oh, dad."

I liked his new car. It was a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse. I was impressed.

"Hey, Dad, can I ask a favor?"


"I want to get a T-shirt with Harvard on it. That way, I can show people that I’ve been to Harvard."

He threw his head back and laughed. He understood what I was doing. I liked the play on words, and he understood why I wanted the T-shirt. He stopped at a little store in downtown Harvard that had all sorts of T-shirts. Harvard is famous for it’s Milk Days festival. There used to be a lot of dairy farms around here. Dad grinned from ear to ear as he paid for the red T-shirt with white letters that spelled out Harvard. I happen to know that Harvard’s colors are red and white. On the back it spelled out in small letters ‘Illinois.’

It was only about fourteen miles from Harvard to Williams Bay. Dad drove north on Highway 14, and then we crossed the border into Wisconsin. He drove through Walworth, Wisconsin. The town’s claim to fame is that Kikkoman Soy Sauce is brewed here. Then, we turned west to Williams Bay. Williams Bay is more down-to-earth than Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva was sort of a resort town for Chicago’s rich and famous at the turn of the century. Williams Bay was named for George Williams and there is a small college there. Aurora University recently bought it. George Williams College is known for it’s outdoor and environmental education. Soon, we arrived at my dad’s house.

It is an A-frame building. The front door is on one of the gable ends. There are windows on either side of it. When you walk in the front door, there’s a closet directly in front of you. On the right is the master bedroom with it’s own bathroom. When you go left, there’s the kitchen. The building is divided in half following the roofline. On the right side are the bedrooms and bathrooms. On the left or south side are the kitchen, dining area and living room. All the public rooms are open to each other. Well, the kitchen area has cabinets dividing the space. The really cool thing is that they are open to the roof. Rough wooden beams cross the space to the outside wall. Dad told me they are there for structural integrity, whatever that is. On top of the beams, dad and Tad have put plants, baskets, and other junk with twinkly, clear little Christmas lights. The living room is in the rear. It has two sets of sliding glass doors that open to the porch. I’ll tell you more about the porch in a sec. The second bedroom opens into the living room. This would be my room while I stayed here. The second bathroom opens into the living room, too. And the stairs lead up to the loft.

My two favorite places in the house are the porch and the loft. The loft is underneath the roof over the bedrooms and the bathrooms. It has a railing that goes from the front of the house to the back. It is so cool up there. It’s like being in a treehouse. Dad and Tad use it for their office. They have bookcases, a desk, a chair, a computer and some filing cabinets. There are also a couple futons. I love the loft almost as much as I love the porch. The porch stretches across the whole back of the house. It’s screened, which is helpful since the mosquitoes up here are as big as 747’s. After all, the mosquito is the Wisconsin state bird. Just kidding.

There’s a steep hill in back of the house, then another block of houses, then Geneva Lake itself. Because Dad’s house is up on a hill, it has a view of the lake. You have to look between the big, old evergreens that grow in back of the house to get a glimpse of it. Last time I was here, we would just sit out here after dinner or play a game on the big, round metal table they have out here.

"Welcome home, son," Dad said to me.

For an answer, I hugged him.

"Your box came, and I put it in your room. Maybe you’d like to unpack." He gave me a couple big pats on the back, then let me go.

"Maybe in a bit. I’m hungry," I told him.

He smiled. "That’s one thing I forgot about."

"What’s that?"

"Boys – oops, sorry about that. I mean, young men your age and food." He rubbed his chin. "I forgot to go shopping. I’m sure I can shake up some leftovers. I think there’s some spaghetti from the other night."

"OK, sounds good. Where’s Tad?"

"He’s at work. I thought we could go pick him up and have dinner in Lake Geneva. Then, maybe we can take a lake cruise." Tad works for a small educational software company in Lake Geneva.

"Sounds good to me, dad. When is Dennis coming?"

"Not until the weekend. Tad has to go down to Chicago for a court hearing on Friday. He’ll bring Dennis back with him. So you have me to yourself for a couple days." He ran his fingers through his hair. "Which reminds me. We have to talk about Dennis before he comes."

"Sure. What’s all the mystery about?"

"Well, it’s just that Dennis has had a tough year, and we need to discuss it."

"You said that on the phone." I was dying of curiosity. OK, I was just plain nosey. But you want to know, too, right? "What exactly do you mean?"

He swatted me playfully on the butt. "Go unpack. I’ll warm up the spaghetti in the microwave." He didn’t have to say it, but I knew what he meant. We’ll talk about it later.

I sighed. "Oh, OK."

The second bedroom was undecorated and plain. It had a big, double bed in the center of the room. There’s also a sliding door that leads to the porch. I like this room! I sat on the end of the bed and opened the carton with a knife from the kitchen. On top of the clothes was my old teddy bear!

Oh, jeez! I didn’t know Mom packed this! I picked him up. He looked a few shades lighter than I remembered him. Mom must have washed him. She must have found it in the back of my closet when she was washing my clothes.

I picked him up and smiled. His name is German. Don’t ask. I don’t know where the name came from.

On an impulse, I hugged him close. He smelled April Fresh. He was also soft. I rubbed my cheek against his, kind of like a housewife in a fabric softener commercial.

"I’m glad you’re here, too," I told him.

Stupid me! Talking to a stuffed animal! I placed him in the center of the bed against the pillows, and began to put my clothes in the dresser. I hid my new magazine in the underwear drawer, buried at the bottom.

When I was finished, I picked up the empty box. I’m sure Dad will want to recycle it. I glanced back at German on the bed.

I could swear he smiled and winked at 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 story here on Nifty, Family Instincts, in the Relationships or College sections.


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