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.
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Pocketful of Stars
By Nick Archer
A little while later, Dad told me he had to pick something up at the observatory where he works. He asked me if I wanted to go with him, but I said I was tired from all the travelling that day.
I think Dad felt sort of guilty about leaving me alone, like he felt like he had to entertain me. Well, I had a plan to entertain myself.
I went upstairs to the loft.
I loved looking at the collection of coffee table type books they have up here. Last time I was here, I think I spent a whole afternoon looking at them. There were big, heavy books about astronomy, architecture, movie musicals, and the history of Chicago. Theres one old book called Male Bonding. Get your mind out of the gutter! Its not anything like that! Its a picture book of groups of men, like sports teams and work groups and things like that. It starts at the turn of the century. I like the old black-and-white pictures of guys posed around a steam engine or in a warehouse. The thing that turns me on is that theyre all touching each other! They have their arms around each others shoulders. Some of them are even holding each other! That is so sexy to me! I wish I could do that or someone would do that to me. As the pictures progress toward the current time, theres less affection shown, but more skin. I like the pictures of swim teams or Olympic gymnasts. Very sexy!
I got a boner thinking about one particular picture. It seemed to be all shirtless bodybuilders posed around a fire engine. Then I got an idea. I trotted downstairs and pulled my magazine out from the dresser and I grabbed a washcloth from the bathroom. I was going to jack off in the loft!
If youre a guy, you probably will understand this: sometimes the place where you masturbate can add to the excitement. Know what I mean? OK, I would never, ever jack off in public or in front of someone. Why? Well, thats a stupid question! Im not a pervert and I dont want to get arrested! And I dont jack off in the bathroom, like some guys. Jacking off in the shower doesnt work for me because the water is too distracting. The water gets cold or its too hot, or the water pressure is wrong. Forget it. Josh told me that sometimes he jacks off on the toilet. That is sort of uncomfortable for me, and with one bathroom and three other women in the house, I would probably get interrupted. Besides, I have my own room at home.
Ive done it in the living room before, besides the other night with Josh. I jacked off in the tent several times. And of course, I did it on the train. That was hot! Once I did it in the locker room at one of the indoor pools at ISU! Remember I told you about my Big Brother? Well, once he took me to the pool at Hancock Stadium. When we were done and dressed, I forgot my watch. He waited in the lobby while I went back to find it. The locker room was empty except for this guy showering. He was probably a college student. He was facing the dressing area, letting the water run down his back. He had the most beautiful body and he had a huge dick! I watched him for a few seconds, and he started to play with it! He must have thought he was alone. Anyway, I hid behind some lockers, where he couldnt see me and pulled my own out and jacked off right there! I wonder if the janitor found my cum!
All of a sudden, I had a brilliant idea! I was going to jack off in the loft. But I didnt have to wrestle with the big, heavy book. I had other reading material! I went to "my" bedroom and got my magazine that was still in its brown paper bag. I grabbed a washcloth from the bathroom and trotted back upstairs to the loft.
I opened a futon in the loft and laid on it. I flipped through the pages quickly, glancing at all the models. They were all so beautiful. I opened it to the pages that featured the model that looked like Paul and began.
It didnt take long at all. When I was finished, I felt relaxed and good. I wiped up the mess with the washcloth and rolled over on the futon and fell asleep.
By the angle of the sun coming in through the skylights, I could tell it was evening when I woke up. I could hear Tad and dad talking quietly in the kitchen below.
Tad said, "I just hope Dennis doesnt persuade your son to do anything hes not ready for."
Dad laughed. "I guess you dont know Joe very well, then. He has a mind of his own. So whats going to happen at the hearing later this week?"
"Were going to decide what to do about Dennis. All my younger brothers from Peter on down were pulled out of the house. Most of them went to foster homes, except for Dennis and Anton. Anton went to St. Lukes. Dennis is going to come here for the rest of the summer, then hell probably go to St. Lukes." Tad sighed. "I wish he could live here."
"I know you do. I want my own son to live here, too." I didnt know this! This was getting interesting. I crawled on my belly closer to the railing. "All Joe has to do is say the word and he could come to live with me. In Illinois, if the child is over fourteen, the judge will usually grant their request, if its in the best interest of the child."
"Dennis told the judge he wanted to live with me."
"Youre his brother, not his parent. I was talking about divorce cases."
"The judge probably would have if you wanted him to."
"One of us would have get a foster parent license. To be honest, I dont have time to go to the classes."
I decided this was the time to make an entrance. I slid the magazine back into the paper bag and stuffed the rag in my back pocket.
"Hi, sleepyhead!" Dad said when I got to the bottom of the stairs. I had to get rid of the magazine, fast. Even if it was in the bag, there would be questions.
"Hi," I said nervously. "Ill be right back." I quickly stuffed the magazine in the top drawer. Back in the kitchen, I tried to smile casually.
"Good to see you, Joe," Tad said when I got back to the kitchen. He gave me a hug. "Youre getting so big," he said, slapping my back.
Everybody says that. I wish they could think of something original to say. But I was happy he hugged me. He smelled good, too. I liked his cologne.
"Ready to go to dinner?" Dad asked.
"I could eat a horse!"
They both laughed. "I dont think that will be necessary," Dad said.
The backseat of Dads Eclipse was pretty cramped. He opened the sunroof, and he drove to the restaurant. Dad put a CD in the player. Theyre amazing little things. I struggled to open the case. Dad slipped another CD in the player. Out came Fast Car by Tracy Chapman:
Whenever I hear that song, it reminds me of riding in Dads car with the windows and sunroof open and the wind whistling in my ears.
The restaurant in Lake Geneva was right on the water. We ate in the screened porch. The waitress brought fresh bread to the table and I dove in right away. Then, I spotted a boy about my age sitting two tables away from us. He was gorgeous! He had on a tank top and sunglasses around his neck on a bright orange string. His baseball cap was sitting in an empty chair. His parents probably made him take it off. His parents were older than mine, probably in their forties. His dad looked very distinguished. He had graying hair and was wearing a spotless white shirt with expensive slacks. His mom had a big pile of frosted hair that looked like a woodchuck on her head.
I was suddenly reminded of my table manners, since the boy was facing our table and he could see me. I slowed the consumption of the bread and brushed the crumbs off my chest.
Dad and Tad grinned at me. I watched their hands while I ate. Every time Tads left hand disappeared under the table, so did Dads right hand. I think they were holding hands under the table, but I was too hungry to say anything about it. I just ordered a cheeseburger. I wasnt feeling adventurous. Some people only order the same thing at restaurants over and over again. I dont, usually. But I have to be in the mood to try something new, and I just wasnt feeling it tonight. I was just feeling hungry.
I felt happy and relaxed after dinner. Dad and Tad seemed to be in a good mood, and they smiled at me and each other. I liked the sound of the lake lapping against the pier outside the restaurant. As the sun set, the night started to cool off. I could hear someone in the distance lighting off the last of his firecrackers.
After leaving the restaurant, we strolled the pier to the boat. We stopped at a candy store and got some salt-water taffy, which I cant stand, and some fudge. I think its a law in Wisconsin that you have to sell fudge. Most of the time, I like it. But fudge is definitely a cold weather food. Its great around Christmas. During the summer it sits in your stomach like a lump of lead.
The boat had two decks and was painted all white. It looked like an old-fashioned paddle wheel boat, without the wheel, of course. Usually, the boat has dinner trips. The last run of the night is just a cruise around the lake without any food served.
"Let me guess, you want to go upstairs, right?" Dad said to me.
"How did you know?" I like heights. I mean, Im not going to do a headstand on the end of a board at the top of the Sears Tower. Maybe thats why I like the loft so much, and the back porch, too. The porch is almost like a treehouse.
Guess who got on the boat at the same time? If you said the boy from the restaurant, you are the winner! He was so pretty! He and his parents stayed downstairs. There was only one other couple upstairs besides us.
There were some benches facing each other in the stern of the boat. Tad and Dad sat on one side and I sat on the other. The benches were so close, our knees were touching. For the first time, I noticed how muscular Tads thighs were. Our spot had the best view on the boat. We were just under the roof, and we could see a lot of the sky as the sun set. The Captain began his speech.
"Welcome to the Sundowner Cruise of the Geneva Lake Cruise Line. Im your host, The Captain." Then he started to sing!
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship....OOPS! Wrong cruise."
Dad rolled his eyes. "Oh, Jesus."
I started laughing. "What a geek."
"Sorry about that folks," The Captain said. "Just got a little carried away. Welcome to Geneva Lakes Cruise Lines Sundowner cruise. Notice I said Geneva Lakes. That is the proper name of the lake. Lake Geneva is the proper name of the town. Its Always Been The Place." That is the current advertising slogan for Lake Geneva. "To tell you the truth, folks, I have a bit of a sore throat tonight."
"Probably from all the lovely singing," Tad commented sarcastically.
The Captain continued, "So, Im not going to do a lot of talking. If you have questions, feel free to come to the bridge and ask. My second mate or I can answer your questions. There is a snack bar on the lower lever if you would like refreshments. The restrooms are also located on the lower lever. The trip will take about an hour. Enjoy your trip!"
"Im glad hes not going to narrate," Dad said. "Its time we had our little talk about Dennis."
My heart started thumping. I forced my voice to sound normal and casual. "Sure, dad, whats on your mind?" Uh-oh. Almost too casual.
Tad began "My father is abusive." His fists clenched so tight that his knuckles were white.
"Did he hit you?" I asked Tad timidly.
"Yes, but as time went on, he got worse."
"Which are you? I mean, I know you have a lot of brothers and sisters."
"Im the second oldest. I have an older brother Victor, then me, Ben, then my sisters Eileen and Lisa. Then comes Peter. Dennis is number seven. After Dennis, theres my little brothers Art and Anton. After us older kids started moving out of the house, he got a lot worse." Tads face was a picture of rage. "The fucking bastard!"
Dad patted his thigh. "Its OK, Tad." Dad continued the story for him. "Dennis ran away for a time and he lived on the street. He stayed with us off and on."
This was really hard for me to imagine. Although my parents were divorced, I could never imagine living on the streets. "Where did he stay? How did he survive?"
Dad got a thoughtful look on his face. He leaned forward, and put his elbows on his knees so that his face was closer to mine. He touched my knee with his fingertips ever so discreetly. I knew exactly why he did it. He wanted me to pay attention.
"This is where Im going to trust you, son. I think you are mature enough to handle this information. Im telling you these things for two reasons. First, I want to be honest with you. Second, I want you to be careful with Dennis. He may want to do things with you that you arent ready to do. Do you understand?"
I wanted to scream, LET HIM! But I didnt. I knew exactly what my dad was trying to tell me.
"Son, you are a very handsome young man."
I blushed. "Oh, Dad."
"You are. And Im sure Dennis will think so, too. You see, Dennis is gay." Then, he stopped. For a long time. So long, in fact, that I started to squirm in my seat.
"So?" I finally said.
"Its not a problem for you?"
"No way, Dad. We had a speaker about it at school. We learned about homophobia and racism all that. Besides, some of my homies are, shall we say, min-or-i-ties. Ive got Jorge and Mario and Antwon. Theys my homeboys! Course, I got Josh, too. Now, hes your basic white boy."
They both laughed. My little comments werent meant to be racist at all. They did exactly what I wanted them to do lighten up the situation and change the subject if only for a second.
They both seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. "Im glad you feel that way, Joe. He really needs all the friends he can get. Hes had a very tough year."
"You said that before. What exactly do you mean?"
Dad glanced over at Tad who nodded slightly. Dad told me the whole story. Dennis had run away from home. He hooked up with a sixteen-year-old kid named Scott, who showed him how to be a prostitute. Dennis started showing up less and less at his own house and staying with Scott and the guy who owned the house and acted as his pimp. This guy, whose name was Ted, also took nude pictures of Dennis. Back in April, Dennis was with a client in a fancy hotel. The client had a heart attack and died while Dennis watched. Dennis had nowhere else to go, so he ran to his brothers house.
Dennis didnt tell them about the dead man at first. They found out later. Dad and Tad arent really sure what happened next. They went to do some grocery shopping and left Dennis at home. While they were out, they think he saw a news report about the dead man on TV. Anyway, Dennis tried to commit suicide while they were shopping. He took some pills with alcohol. When Tad and my dad found him, he was almost dead. They rushed him to the hospital, where they revived him. For the next two months, he was in a psychiatric ward in a hospital.
I didnt know what to say. Of course, I was excited about his being gay. But I just didnt know what to do about the suicide part. I never knew anyone who tried to kill himself before. Would he be different? Would he want to talk about it?
We were nearing the boat dock again, when Dad finished up his thoughts. "Theres three things we need you to do. First, remember when we talked on the phone a few weeks ago?"
"I remember, Dad. Could you be a little more specific?"
He cleared this throat nervously. "About safe sex. Im not encouraging you to have sex, son, I want you to understand that. I think you are too young. And I dont want you to go back to your mom and tell her that I gave you permission to boink."
I laughed at the work boink. "No way, dad."
"Believe it or not, I was once your age. I know you think Im old and broken down now. I remember that boys your age sometimes experiment with...their bodies. If you do..umm...experiment, please be discreet about it, and please be safe. I love you and I dont want to lose you. If you have any questions, ask me."
My cheeks were burning. Im sure they were bright red. Good thing the sun was almost down. "I dont think I would be comfortable asking," I mumbled. I mean this was my Dad. I couldnt picture myself asking if giving head is a safe sex act.
"Is there someone else you can ask?"
"I dont know anyone else here."
"I introduce you to some kids. Theres a kid on the boat here your age. I know his parents." He was getting off the topic, and he knew it.
"I know what he could do," Tad offered. "He could write a note on the computer and one of us could answer it. Maybe we could set up an email account for him."
I brightened up. "Yeah! I like that idea! I wont feel so weird."
Dad laughed. "Good idea, Tad. Ok, thats settled." I saw him wipe his forehead. Then, it struck me; This is difficult for him, too. "The second thing is not to let Dennis talk you into doing anything that you will feel uncomfortable doing. Do you understand what Im saying?"
"Yes, I think so. Dont worry. I wont." Privately, I thought that I would be the one to talk Dennis into doing stuff.
"This last thing is the most important. If Dennis says anything at all about hurting himself again, we need to know right away." He put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes. "This is a big responsibility. You guys are probably going to spend a lot of time together, so you will be the first to know."
"Its a little scary, too," I mumbled.
I repeated myself. At the same time, The Captain docked the boat, this time without singing.
Dad sighed. "I know. And Im sorry about that." He lowered his voice, almost as if he were talking to himself. "I guess its part of growing up. Dealing with the parts of life that you would rather not deal with. But I have faith in you." He turned around. Right behind us was the Perfect Family with their son!
"Hi, Dave." Dad shook hands with the man. "I work with Mr. Allbright. This is my son, Joseph."
I shook hands with the man. "This is my wife Marcie, and my son, Troy." I just smiled and nodded to Mrs. Allbright, but I shook hands with Troy. Troy had a crooked smile that looked like he was up to mischief. He had the most delicious shoulders.
Dad said, "Joe will be here for the rest of the summer. Maybe Troy could show him around."
"Sure Mr. Ryan," Troy said in a very deep voice. "Id be glad to."
As we walked to the car, I pointed to the sky. "Look! A shooting star!"
"Cool," Tad said.
Dad started to sing, "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away."
"Dad! Stop it!"
"Stop what?" He asked innocently.
"Youll embarrass me. Besides The Captains singing was enough bad music for one night."
The next few days, I fell into the rhythms of Lake Geneva. Mornings, Tad left for work, usually he was gone by the time I got out of bed. Im not a real late sleeper, but given the choice I sure as hell wouldnt get out of bed at 6:30 like I do during the school year. Usually, Im up by nine or so. I liked the quiet time with Dad before he left for work. Dad had to go to the observatory to lead tour groups at 10:15, 11:15, and 12:15. When he got home we would do something together for the afternoon.
On Wednesday afternoon, we had lunch and he took me back to the observatory for my own personal tour. It was very cool. The large telescope is housed in a huge dome. He had me stand in the middle of the floor. It was wooden, like a basketball court. He stood by a lever and the whole floor rose! It freaked me out a bit. Of course, we couldnt use the telescope during the day, but he promised to bring me back later with Dennis and we could do some stargazing.
Thursday, it rained, so Dad brought some videos home with him. He rented Jurassic Park and Mrs. Doubtfire. They were both about a year old, and I had seen Jurassic Park at the theater. Still, it was good the second time around. Dad made popcorn and we made such a mess in the living room, he had to vacuum.
Friday was blazing hot, so he took me to the public beach. We splashed around and played king of the raft. He let me climb on his shoulders and dive into the lake. It brought back memories of Paul at Holiday Pool. For a moment, I put my arms around his neck and Dad just held me. I like the feel of his hairy chest against mine.
As we left the beach, Dad put a handful of sand in the pocket of my swimming trunks. He smiled and whistled Catch a Falling Star.
On the way home, I could feel the skin on my back tighten as if someone had pulled it too tight. I was sunburned.
The rest of the day, we just kicked it at the house. Tad left work at noon to go get his brother. From that point on, I had a timer in the corner of my mind that counted down the minutes until Dennis would arrive. Lets see: its three oclock so he must have picked up Dennis by now.
Dinnertime came and went without Tad and Dennis. Dad grilled hamburgers outside. He cooked a few extra burgers in case they came back later and were hungry. We watched a video after dinner.
"My back hurts," I complained.
"Go get the aloe from the bathroom, and Ill put it on your back."
The big bottle of aloe looked like jelly. I pulled off my shirt and sat on my dads lap. I thought that he would push me out of his lap and say something about me being too big to sit in his lap, but he didnt.
"Ohh! Thats cold!"
After a moment, Dad said, "Youve been awfully quiet tonight. Whats on your mind?"
"Nothing," I lied.
"Are you worried about meeting Dennis?"
"A little," I answered.
"Did you ever think," he said quietly, "that hes as nervous about meeting you as you are about meeting him?"
This had not occurred to me. "He is?"
"Sure he is. Try not to worry. Hes really a good kid. I think you two will get along well." He patted my thigh. "Time for bed."
"Can I stay up and wait for him?"
"No, I dont think so, Joe. Tad may have decided to stay in Chicago tonight." I didnt argue because I was pretty tired. I stood up.
"Id hug you," Dad said, smiling, "but your back is all sticky."
I didnt sleep very well that night. Part of the reason was that my back still hurt. The other reason was that I had weird dreams all night. Still, I couldnt really remember them in the morning. It was something about Aunt Lynda and having to make a choice between Josh and Dennis. It was weird; thats all I could remember. Did that ever happen to you?
When I woke up, I glanced at the clock. 7:55.
Dennis was here!
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 and College sections.
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