The Ball Boy

A novella


Lucas Boulderguard

Copyright © 2017

Random Deliveries

After my dad died, packages showed up at our house for months afterward. Little trinkets he had ordered. Tools. Fishing gear. Lawn furniture. Things no one knew to cancel. 

My days passed in a haze of depression and prescription drug abuse. The accident that killed my father nearly stole my right arm. After the surgeries, the pins, the clamps, the needles, I persisted in a Percocet bubble with a cold glaucoma glaze over the world. I spent most days just trying to prove to myself that I was still alive, but then one of dad's packages would arrive.

New deliveries brought mixed feelings. Whenever a delivery man showed up at our door, it felt like Dad was smiling down on me. I'd open a box to find something very dad-like inside and it made me feel like he was still there with me. Inevitably a hangover effect followed. Fishing poles I didn't know how to string. Lawn furniture I didn't know how to assemble. Hunting gear I'd never use. It all made me feel that dad never had a real son and that he was somehow disappointed in me. Did Dad know what a piece of shit I was? Had he known that all along and merely lacked conviction to say it?

Once guilt grabbed a hold of me, I shoved Dad's deliveries into a closet or the garage. I'd go back to my magazines or trying to teach myself to paint left-handed. I'd try to push thoughts of Dad far from my mind.

One afternoon in April, a motorcycle growled in front of the house. I waited for the rider to move on, but the motor idled and died. A kickstand scraped against the driveway. I raised my head, tearing myself away from my canvass of blobs and streaks. Waited and listened. Footsteps approached the house. The porch creaked.

I moved toward the window as the doorbell rang. Peeked through the curtains and a little chord played in my thoughts. Quiet piano music played beneath a weeping cello as a ray of sun shown through the clouds.

"The hell?"

In the white glare of afternoon sunlight, stood a guy about my age, a shade of nineteen. His shaggy blond hair danced on the breeze and his baseball shirt, unbuttoned to his navel. Tight jeans and a Duffel bag slung over one shoulder.

The artist in me saw the form and function in him right away.  Hoisting man-sized shoulders above a boy’s narrow waist, his body became a lesson in geometry and geography all in one. Lines, edges, slope, the angle of a collar bone, the curvature of his pecks, gentle valleys, and stomach ridges.

If I had a type, he was it. He was the kind of guy who always made me do a double-take when he passed; the kind of guy I secretly watched in my rear-view mirror; and sometimes, when I was alone, I'd touch myself thinking about a guy like him. Of course, no one needed to come right out and tell me that it was a fantasy. Guys like him didn't go for sissies and drag queens. They went for—well, girls.

Despite his motorcycle parked in our driveway and his half-buttoned shirt, I couldn't help thinking that he was selling something. In my Percocet haze, it hadn't occurred to me that no one makes sales calls in jeans that are tight enough for you to count the wrinkles in his cock.

I'm not sure how long I zoned out. Mouth gaped open. Heart thumping. My own cobra peeking its head up from slumber. He glanced up at the window and our eyes met. Dazzling blue marbles and one of those smiles they put on toothpaste boxes. He made a cowboy nod at me, like waving 'hello' without using his hands.

"Shit" slipped out of my mouth. He caught me in the act of mentally undressing him. I tore my hands from the curtains, and they fell shut in front of me. I shuffled toward the door, feeling obligated to at least acknowledge his visit. 

His Stetson cologne drifted through the door as I opened it. I leaned out, and he cut me in half with a glance. Something about his dreamy eyes made me feel that he can see into my soul. Could see all of my secrets. All of my guilt. All of my pain. But would he judge me for them? 

I waited for him to speak, but he just stood there with a confused expression on his face.

"Uh... can I help you?" I finally asked.

"I'm Caleb Cardova." I detected a slight drawl in his voice as he extended his left hand.

"Hi, I'm... Gage." I took his hand and the warmth of his skin overthrew any doubts I harbored. His strength seeped into me the way a cobra's spits is venom on you before it strikes. My mind went to work with his touch right away. What his hand would feel like if it slid up my arm. What his hand would feel like if it cradled my neck. What his hand would feel like if it caressed my cheek...

"So is your dad home?" He asked as he pulled his hand from mine.

"Huh?"  I stepped back and scowled at him.

"Your dad. Is he home?"

"Uh, no. No. No, he's... Are you selling something?" 

His cheeks reddened. "Uh, no, I'm... from the Thunder Hawks. I'm...”

I stared at him blankly. If Caleb knew my father, he obviously hadn't heard what happened. "Dad's..." My eyes filled with tears. I looked away from him and paused out for a moment.

"We met back at sign-up," Caleb said. "Did he tell you I was coming?"

I raised my eyes to Caleb again. Blinked away tears. It dawned on me that Caleb was yet another of my dad's unannounced deliveries.

"Hey, you alright, man?" Caleb asked.

"I'm fine." I sniffled, holding the door open for him. "Just allergies. Come on in."

He stepped into the foyer and glanced up the staircase. "Nice place."

I bit my lip, trying to put the pieces together on the fly. Vaguely, I remember Dad spit-balling the idea of us being a Host Family. Host families work like student exchange programs, but you host a minor league ball player instead of a foreign exchange student.  Somewhere along the line Dad's "why don't we?" became a "yes, we will." And either Mom never knew about it, or it slipped her mind when everything fell apart on us.

Rugged, masculine, handsome. Dad would've really like Caleb. "Welcome home." I said.


He glanced at my sling. "Hey, what happened to your arm?"

I could tell he was just making conversation. Trying to get to know me. He obviously didn't know, so he went...there.

"Um..." My eyes watered. "Me and my dad were in a car accident a while back." I shifted my gaze to the window.

"What about your dad? Did he get banged up too?"

I turned away from him. My shoulders shuddered. A sob rose from my chest.

"Hey..." is all he could say.

"Dad's dead."

"Oh shit! Gage, I'm sorry. I didn't know...Shit, Gage!" He wrapped his arms around me in an awkward backward hug. His hands pressed against my chest. And between my sobs, I remember thinking. Yes, like this. This is how I want you to hold me, but without the tears next time.

We stood in the foyer longer than I cared to count. Swaying back and forth, Caleb, the stranger, held me. "I'm okay," I finally said, but I wasn't okay; I was merely at a place where I could get by with another round of pills. 

He let go of me and I scooped his Duffel bag from the floor.

"What are ya doing?" He asked.

I glanced at him and saw for the first time that a tear ran down his cheek as well. "Showing you to your room," I said.

"Look, Gage... Coach didn't know about your dad, or... he never would have sent me here. I should go."

I shook my head. "No..."

Caleb appeared so lost. Out of his element.

"Stay," I finally said. "Dad would want you to stay."

"But your mom?"

"She wants you to stay too."

A Room Across The Hall

I caught a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla as I stepped into the guest bedroom and dropped Caleb's bag on the bed.  Terracotta walls, Italian tile floor, and blue curtains.

An oak chest of drawers sat against the wall with a mirror on top. I caught my reflection. Short brown hair and brown eyes. At five-eleven and 130 pounds, I would have had a decent build if I hadn't lost so much weight after the accident. 

Here's your room. Sorry there's not any decorations," I said. 

It's fine," he said. 

Caleb placed one hand on the bed and kicked off his shoes. His bare feet schlapped against the tile and my heart stuttered at the mere sight of them. High arches and pale white nails that a jeweler could have hand-crafted with a file and a cloth. Tendons pulled in his feet as he stretched them. His calf muscles flexed.

He unzipped his Duffel bag. Fished out a pair of DIESEL trunks and khaki shorts and tossed them on the bed. He finished unbuttoning his shirt.

Whatever impression I made on him, he must not have picked up on a gay vibe. That, or he genuinely didn't give a shit. He undid his belt and peeled his jeans down in front of me, but it wasn't a sexy striptease sort of way. It was a dudes in a locker room type thing. Straight ball players change in front of each other all the time, shower even, and don't think anything of it. But I wasn't one of his baseball buddies and just that little glimpse of him was enough masturbation material for a month.

"So where ya from?" I asked.  I tried to make small talk with him, so it didn't seem like I was inspecting him, which I was.

"Killeen, Texas."

He finished peeling off his jeans and stood in his white trunks and opened shirt.

"Near Austin, right?"

"That's right." He slipped off his shirt and let it fall to the floor. My eyes beheld a specimen from a Greek art exhibit. Perfect lines. Perfect symmetry. Deep ridges. Dark shadows.

"Ya do anything besides playing ball?"

He hitched his hands on his hips and a desire to touch him whelmed within me—not just to feel the heat of his flesh but to explore the dangerous grooves of his torso with my fingers. I wanted to follow the edge of his spine through the small of his back and I wanted to explore the little valley where his butt cheeks began to separate. But since I couldn’t touch him, I looked away. 

"Well... I did landscaping here and there. Taught martial arts when I wasn't pitching ball."

"Oh, so you don't just look like you can break a dude in half. You actually can?"

He smiled and snatched his clean underwear and shorts from the bed.  "I'm a lover not a fighter."

I drew a deep breath through my nose. Held it for a second. A question burned the tip of my tongue, but I didn't want to seem like I was coming onto him.

"So... you have a girlfriend then?"

He chuckled a little and shrugged. "Guess you can say we're on a break."

I glanced into the mirror. More than anything I wanted a good glimpse of his man-bump, but I didn't want to seem like I was staring directly at it.

"What about you? A handsome guy like you... The chicks gotta be practically throwing themselves at ya."

I snickered. "Not exactly."

He stepped toward the bathroom, turned away, and peeled his underwear down. Looked back at me. "You gotta job or anything?"

I nodded and told my first lie. "I'm a server at a restaurant downtown." Of course, I had a job and worked downtown, but I was hardly a waiter—at least not in the traditional sense.

"Well, I'm gonna grab a shower."

I nodded, as Caleb started into the bathroom. The sight of his tight round cheeks was enough to make my skin crawl. I didn't get a glimpse of his meat, but as he walked it smacked loudly between his thighs. The fact that it was long enough and heavy enough to make such a loud noise made me shiver.  

He shuffled into the bathroom and, as much as I wanted to, I stopped myself from following him. I stepped out into the hallway and pulled out my phone. Texted Mom with one hand.

ME: mom, Caleb's here.

MOM: who?

ME: That's what I thought.

MOM: Who's Caleb?

ME: Another one of dad's deliveries.

MOM: what???

ME: Dad signed us up to be a host family for the Thunder Hawks.

MOM: Shit!

ME: That's what I said

MOM: What did you tell him.

ME: Uh, welcome home.

MOM: No way in hell. Neither of us can handle that right now.

ME: He's cool, Mom. I think it'll be alright.

MOM: Well... we'll talk when I get home.    

But Mom hadn't seen Caleb yet. Letting him stay with us wasn't a favor to the Thunder Hawks or even Caleb; it was something we both needed.

I could practically hear Dad in the background. "Damn, check out the arms on that boy."

Wine Night

Leaning against the island in the kitchen, the pipes sang through the house as Caleb showered.

I crouched to fetch a bottle of wine and noticed a moist spot in my briefs. The head of my cock slipped past the elastic band and rubbed against my thigh.

"Fuck me!" I needed to relieve some pressure if I hoped to talk to Caleb without exploding.

I grabbed a bottle of Vino Tinto and sat it on the counter. Fumbled through the drawer until I found the corkscrew. Twisted and pressed the corkscrew into the cork. Yanked and listened to the satisfying pop as wine sloshed from the bottle.

Something about the sound of the popping cork caused an image of Caleb's naked butt cheeks to flash through my mind. His shifting thighs. His arching back. His heavy schlong slapping against his thighs.

"This isn't happening." I sat the bottle on the counter and shuffled across the dining room. My cock was positioned in such a way my head rubbed against my thigh as I walked. With the image of Caleb looping in my mind, a single glob of cum squirted down my leg as I reached the patio door.

I stepped out onto the lanai and checked my shorts. A wet spot spread across my shorts and warm jizz trickled down my leg.

The pool filter kicked on and water sloshed against the side of the pool. I knew what I needed to do. I wandered to the shallow end, leaned against the railing, and peeled my shorts and underwear down with one hand.

Stepping free, I stuck one foot into the water and worked my way down the steps until the tip of my semi-hard dick touched the water. I eased my body forward, letting my junk float on the surface. I closed my eyes and let myself relax as sticky strands of cum rinsed gently away.

I waded out further until the water came to my navel. Holding my arm carefully above the water, I spun around. I had half a mind to stay there all evening, but I needed to make dinner before Mom came home. And when I looked up at the house I saw the light on in Caleb's room. Only then did it occur to me that if he ventured a glance out the window, he'd see me. Naked and hard.

I grabbed the railing and pulled myself onto the steps. Pushing and splashing, I hurried out of the water. I'm not sure what was racing through my mind. A horrible mesh of lust and fear. On some level, I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to know every square inch of me, but it was still too soon.

Snatching my shorts from the deck, I hurried to the chairs. Mom kept a fresh stack of towels on a drink table just in case. I grabbed one and dabbed away at the wet spot on my shorts.

Eventually the spot faded. I flung my underwear and towel into the bin and slipped my shorts back on. I wrapped another towel around my shoulders, opened the glass door, and stepped back into the kitchen. I listened. The pipes no longer sang.

I shimmied back to the island, fetched two wine glasses, and filled them. With all the pain medication I was jacked up on, I wasn't supposed to drink at all. I took a sip anyway. 

I grabbed a mixing bowl and tub of flour, but I wasn't sure what to make. Didn't know what Caleb even liked, since we never had the likes vs dislikes discussion. 

I grabbed a cookbook from the counter. Cracked it open in front of me.

"Whatcha makin'?"  Caleb called from the doorway.

I glanced up at him. Wet hair. No shirt. Khaki shorts. Bare feet. I clasped my wine glass and gulped a huge drink. I questioned at once the wisdom of free-balling in sweat shorts in front of him. 

"Do you like lasagna?" I asked.

"I could FUCK a lasagna!"

I grinned playfully. "Okay, you can fuck it if you want."

He grabbed the mixing bowl and made a humping motion with his hips. I busted a gut laughing, and he leaned against the counter.  His arm mere inches from mine.

There was nothing flirtatious about the way he stood, but he was in my space in a way that I didn't mind. A little too close for mere acquaintances. At that moment, he just seemed like a really good friend and that's what I needed.

"Sorry I cried all over you," I said.

He waved his hand. "No worries, Gage... We're all just sinners underneath."

I raised an eyebrow. Confused. Alarmed. Worried. We're all just sinners underneath? What the hell did that even mean? Was he about to Jesus-Freak me?


When mom came home, we were on our second bottle of wine. The aroma of lasagna, tomato zest, and basil hung in the air.

I glanced out from the kitchen, trying to hide my fuckedupness. Wine on top of Percocet meant I was over the moon.

Caleb hovered so close to me that I felt heat rising from his body. He pressed his forearm against my shoulder and leaned into me.

"Hi, Mom," he called and let out a laugh. He may have been a little tipsy at that point.

She stopped in the foyer and glanced at him over her glasses. Her stodgy librarian routine was an act that I knew all too well. I knew as soon as she looked at him that he was staying. It was more than just a look; she stopped just shy of ogling him.

Of course she was old enough to be his mother, but Caleb wasn't her son. More than anything, she was still a woman and Caleb was a page torn from a magazine.

"You must be Caleb," she said, walking to him with outstretched arms. 

"Mrs. Garfield..." He leaned forward and gave her a granny hug.

"Please, call me Jacky."

She rested her gaze on me for a moment. "How much have you had to drink?"

"Just one glass."

"Caleb, how much has he had?"

"I just opened the second bottle," he said.

I kicked at his shin with my heel. Hard enough for him to feel, but not hard enough to bruise. "Caleb!"

"What? I'm not gonna lie to your mom."

"We'll get along famously," she said. Mom sat her briefcase on the catch-all and stepped into the dining room. "Smells delicious."

"Lasagna," Caleb said. "I helped."

Mom threw me a questioning glance. Usually, I won't let anyone help me in the kitchen. "Lasagna's hard to make with one hand."

We hunkered around the table, sipping wine.

"So, Caleb... tell me about the Reds?" Mom asked.

"The Reds! You played for the Reds?"

Caleb blushed. "Just three innings. That's how it works in the minors. You can go up and down a lot."

"Up and down?" I asked.

"He means that they call you up to the majors," Mom made a thumbs up gesture. "And then they send you back down... back to the minors."

"Mom knows a lot about baseball."

"Not a lot. Some. It's hard to live with a sports nut for 20 years and not have it rub off on you." She snatched her wine, took a swig, and looked out the window.

"I'm sorry about your husband," Caleb said.

"Me too."

"Caleb met dad at the ballpark last year," I said.

She nodded. "So, how long have you played baseball?"

"Off and on since I was eleven. Didn't get really serious until high school when I started hanging out with this kid on the baseball team."

And that's when he started talking about Devin, the kid from his baseball team. He couldn't shut up about him. The way he threw a ball, the way he ran the bases, the way he wore his hair, the way he sunburned in the spring, the way he laughed, the way he sang... Devin, Devin, Devin. He talked like he was practically in love with Devin (which meant there was hope for me, ) but it was also discouraging (because maybe there wasn't any room left for me).

I took a gulp of my wine. "Tell us about your girlfriend."

"What girlfriend?" His cheeks turned a shade of pink.

"Earlier you said you were 'taking a little break'."

"Oh, her name's...Stacy." I noted the pause as he sipped his wine and told us his first lie. "She played in the band. Picked up a music scholarship."

"So she's at college then?" Mom asked.

Caleb nodded. Looked away. Maybe somewhere out there in the world there really was a Stacy, but she was never his girlfriend. Something in his voice and his facial expressions told me he was lying. I could think of only one possible reason. Caleb had more in common with me than he realized.

"How are the Thunder Hawks this year?" Mom asked.

"They're... good. Really good."

"And you're a pitcher?"

"That's right."

"I bet you're good," she said.

"I'm, uh.... well, sometimes my nerves get the best of me."

Yeah, I bet.”

Between listening to him gush over Devin and lying about Stacy, my head was spinning. I pushed myself back from the table. "Well, it's about that time.”

What time?” Mom perked up like a Doberman.

I gotta get ready for work."

"Work? You work tonight?" Mom seemed alarmed. After losing my dad and nearly losing me, the world became a trap to her—something conspiring in the background to finish the job it had started.

"Yes, I told you."

"Must've slipped my mind.” She shook her head.

"Well, I gotta get ready."

I lumbered out of the kitchen and strolled down the hallway.

The Dog House

Showered and freshly changed, I grabbed my knapsack and headed toward the door. I paused at the dinning room and waved, “see ya later.”

Caleb glanced at the clock. "Its' an odd time to be starting a wait shift, isn't it?"

My jaw dropped and I shook my head. What the hell was that? For the first time since I started working at The Dog House, someone called 'bull shit' on me and I wasn't sure what to say. What made it any of his business?

"Oh, Le Gran Repas stays open late," Mom chimed in. 

Truth is: I didn't work at Le Gran Repas. I only told Mom I worked there, because it was an expensive enough restaurant that she'd never try to surprise me by showing up and asking for a table. I had actually been working at The Dog House, a gay club, since right after high school.

"Well, maybe I'll stop by sometime," Caleb said.

Mom chuckled and patted his hand. "After you get to the Bigs, Caleb. Le Gran Repas is ridiculously expensive." 

Caleb looked me over carefully. Jeans. Button-up.

"So, it's casual then?"

I glared at him coldly a little put off that this ballplayer was already criticizing the way I dress. I think maybe on some level I knew that he bought the Le Gran Repas story as much as I bought his story about the band-girl, Stacy.

"I change when I get there," I said, which was true. I changed when I got to work, but not into a tuxedo with a cummerbund; I changed into a strapless gown, heels, and a wig.

"Well..." He nodded and waved with two fingers. "Adiós."

I waved, walked out the door, and climbed into Dad's old truck, a mint blue 1971 Ford. The title was technically in my name by then, but I still thought of it as Dad's. Every time I drove it, I felt like he was right there with me (so close I'd could almost smell his Old Spice).

When I drove the old Ford, it not only made me think of Dad, it also made me feel like someone else (someone masculine). With its high ride and powerful engine, I also felt like I was a missed shave and a bad hair day away from a hunting trip.

As I cranked the ignition that evening, I glanced over at the passenger seat. Instead of my father, I saw Caleb. My mind drew a little picture of him with his tight muscular ass poking into the seat. Leaned back, he placed his arm on the back of the seat.

Caleb might as well have come along to work with me. I saw his face at every stoplight. He smiled at me every time I glanced in the mirror. An imagined conversation took place between us in my head.  About each other. About life. About baseball. 

The attraction I felt for him was unquestionable, but attraction's a one-way street. The ones we cast our eyes upon aren't always looking back. I remember watching the athletes in high school as they walked around like gods—gorgeous and radiant. Sooner or later, I'd always cross a line with them. I'd glance at them for a few seconds too long, or my questions would dig a little too deep. It always ended with a body check into a column of lockers or a "whoa! I'm straight!" With Caleb, I hadn't crossed the line yet, and part of me wondered if there was a line with him at all.

I thought about how he talked of Devin. Passionate and animated. He went into the smallest of details. It was so much more than "Devin played baseball, and he was really good." If he changed a name and a few pronouns, one would think he was talking about a girlfriend.

By the time I pulled my truck into the lot behind The Dog House, I had more questions than answers. I staggered across the parking lot, through the back door, and into the green room. I glanced at the line-up. "Fucking door duty! Again!"

Before the accident, I used to perform on stage nearly every evening, but there's something less than sexy about a drag queen with her arm in a sling. Fortunately, they kept me on the schedule, but mostly as a hostess. While hostesses dress in full drag, they don't get any tips.

"Hey, Khmer. What's with you?" Chloe Midia called to me. Already dressed and in make-up, she sat on the sofa, smoking her cigarette.

"Hey, Chloe." I waved back at her. There's usually a tragic irony to drag queen names. Chloe Midia. Chlamydia. Mine was Khmer Rouge and you had to either be old or a history buff to get it. The Khmer Rouge killed millions of Cambodians in the 1970s, but younger people just hear Khmer like "Camaro" without the 'o' and 'rouge,' another word for make-up.

"Perks fucking with your head again?" She asked. She knew all about the Percocets I'd been downing ever since the accident; she even bought a few off me.

I shook my head. "Dad had another delivery today."

"Another package? What was it?"  I could hardly hide my grin. She stood up and glided toward me. "Well?"

"It wasn't an 'it'. It was a 'him'." I said.

"The hell?" Her face became a question mark.

"My dad signed us up to be a host family for a minor league ball player. Never said anything, or... I don't know. Maybe it just slipped our minds."

"Host family? What's that?"

"It's kind of like a student exchange program, but with ball players," I explained.

She took a drag off her cigarette. Blew smoke. "That's weird. Why don't they get their own apartments?"

"Minor league players don't make shit. Like less than minimum wage."

"So, they just camp out at your house then?"

"Well, it gives host families something to look at."

Her face lit up with a smile.

I told her everything. Every last detail down to the squirrel in his jeans. I told her how he got me so worked up that I shot my load without even stroking it. I told her how close he stood to me. I told her how I called "bull shit" on his Band-Girl story.

"You be careful, girl," she said.

"Careful? Why?"

"Honey, a fling's a fling, but you've got feelings for this guy."


"Well, he's a ball player. Living with a host family. You know he's not sticking around, right?"

Of course, he's sticking around. He's...”

Khmer, they move those guys around all the time.”

"Fuck you, Chloe." I meant it in the best possible way, of course. Sometimes a friend turns on the light and helps you see what you don't really want to see. Even if my suspicions about Caleb were correct, he could be called up to the big again or traded. Whatever I was daydreaming about was just that—a daydream.


Shortly before sunrise, I slipped through the front door and tiptoed to my room. Mom was used to my coming and going at odd hours, but I tried not to wake her.

I went to my room, kicked off my shoes, and unbuttoned my jeans. My belt buckle made a thud as it clanked against the floor.

"Hey, Gage." His voice croaked quietly from the dark hallway.

I gasped, drawing in a whiff of his cologne. "Shit!"

"Sorry, dude. Didn't mean to scare you." 

"You're still up?" I stepped out of my jeans and started unbuttoning my shirt.

"Couldn't sleep." He stepped closer to me.

"What's wrong?" 

He shrugged. "You..." He pointed to his upper cheek just below his eye. "You have something on your face."

I wiped at it with the palm of my hand.

He shook his head. "Didn't get it."

I wiped again.

"Still there."  He reached for my face with his hand. I froze. His fingers curled along my jaw line as his thumb rubbed against my cheek.

My cobra started to rise from its basket before I even realized what was happening. Caleb wiped my cheek, but it felt like he was caressing me. More than that, it shattered whatever notion I held of there being a line between us. I'm sure it's written somewhere in the Straight Dude's Handbook: "Thou must never wipe the face of another man... especially not in a caressing manner."

He pulled his hand away and "shit" slipped out of my mouth. In my confusion, I wasn't sure what I was saying "shit" about. Because Caleb broke one of the straight dude rules? Because my wood was visible through my underwear if he bothered to look? Or Because a line of my mascara smudged his thumb?

I cleaned up after the show and thought I had removed most of my make-up. Nonetheless, I didn't expect anyone to be up when I came home, and I didn't expect Caleb to find my mascara streak in the dark.

I spun away from him, bolted into the bathroom, and slammed the door.

I turned the hot water on, grabbed a washcloth, and held it under the water.

"Gage?" Caleb called through the door.

"What?" I shouted. Irritation evident in my voice.

"Just wanted to make sure you're alright."

I patted at my eyes with the wash cloth. "I'm fine, Caleb."

"Just seemed like you're freaking out."

"I'm not." But I was totally freaking out.

"Just thought maybe it was your medication or something."

A sigh rose from my chest. "Yeah... Sometimes my medication makes me a little jumpy, but I'm fine now."

I rinsed the rag and wipe again at my eyes.


"Yeah, Caleb?"

"We're cool, right?"

"Of course, we're cool."

"Okay... Good night."

I listened as his footsteps moved away from the door, but I knew I couldn't just climb into my bed and turn the world off. There's no way I could sleep with all of that still inside of me.

I glanced down at my underwear. Saw my boner like a captured animal trying to break through the fabric. Caleb's touch stirred something inside of me. Something both magical and toxic.

My cock sprung up and smacked the sink as I jerked my underwear past my thighs. It had been a while since I had been that hard. With the water still running, I lathered myself with soap.

I closed my eyes and recalled Caleb's thumb against my cheek. I stroked myself and imagined his other hand pressed against my chest. A moan rose from deep inside of me as my cum splattered against the mirror.

Dizzy and breathless, I saw my face in the mirror. My eyes practically glowed. And I knew then that Caleb was a habit I wouldn't break easily.

Coffee & Eggs

A downside to being jacked up on pills was that sometimes I'd wake in a fog. I'd have trouble remembering what I did the day before, or, if I remembered, it all seemed so dreamlike that I wasn't sure if it really happened.

I rolled over and blinked at a blade of morning light peeking through my curtains. Caleb hung in my mind, like a dream. That's all he was. Something my mind cooked up while drugs sizzled through my synapses.

I sat up in my bed, wrapped my arms around my knees, and sighed. My chest felt heavy as I stared at the window. With the cold light of day shining through, I knew Caleb wasn't real. Things like that didn't happen in "real life". He was something my mind made up as a way of dealing with things. A lucid dream of some sort.

I lowered my feet to the tile, stood up, and went into the bathroom for a piss. When I came out of the bathroom, I caught a whiff of coffee and eggs. I sniffed at the air. Mom should have already left for work.

Believing that I was home alone at that point, I wandered down the hall in only a pair of black boxer-briefs. I paused outside the kitchen as the scraping of a spatula against a skillet carried through the house.

"Mom," I called.

"No, Gage. It's me."  His voice spilled over me like cold water.

He poked his head out of the kitchen and saw me leaning against the wall.

"You alright?"

"Yeah... Just... I'm gonna put some clothes on."

He shrugged and stepped back into the kitchen. "Don't worry about it..." Coffee sploshed into a mug. "We're both dudes."

I stepped into the kitchen. Leaned my hip against the counter. Caleb handed me a cup of coffee.

"Thanks". I ducked my head to the mug and took a sip. As I did, my eyes rested on the crotch of Caleb's khaki shorts. Set aside the fact he was well-endowed, the fabric of his shorts tented outward at a sharp angle. Make no mistake about it: Caleb had a major case of wood.

He scooped the skillet from the stove and emptied scrambled eggs onto two plates. He handed me a plate and started for one of the bar stools by the island.

"Caleb," I called.

He turned to me and raised an eyebrow.

"Maybe we should talk."

Confusion spread across his face. "What about?"

I handed my plate back to him. He glanced at the eggs and then back at me with a what's wrong? face.

I'm not sure what came over me, or why I was struck with such sudden boldness. I reached my hand over and flicked my middle finger against the head of his engorged penis.

His eyes became pancakes.  He pulled his hips back and leaned forward, nearly dropping the plates. "Dude! What the fuck?"

I tore my eyes from him. With his strength, he could have pounded me to a pulp if he were so inclined. "That's not morning wood," I said.  "You've been up too long."

He shuffled to the island. Set the plates down.

"I'm sorry, Gage."

I glanced at him, and he trained two earnest eyes upon me. His pupils dilated and a tear hung in the corner of his eye.

"What for?" I asked.

"I..." His voice quivered as he spoke. He lower his gaze to the floor. "I don't know if I'm gay. I really don't."

"It's okay," is all I could really think to say. He held up his hand.

"But I...I'm really... really attracted..." He raised his chin. Looked at me with his shy pitiful gaze. " you."   

"Caleb." I threw my arm around him. Pulled him into me. Kissed his neck. His ear. His cheek. His lips.

His hand slid to the nape of my neck.  Our lips locked. His tongue dance slowly against my own. I felt the powerful suction of his lungs and the pounding of his heart as his chest pressed against mine.

For the longest time, we held each other. Felt each other. Kissed each other. Pausing only briefly for gulps of breath.

His hands slid to my hips. He pulled his lips from mine. As easily as he'd handle a pair of dumbbells, he curled me, lifting me onto the island. He leaned in against me. Pressed his lips against my chest. My nipple. He kissed the spot beneath my rib cage. My stomach. Then in one swift motion, he tore my boxer-briefs to my knees as my cobra sprung from its basket and smacked against my stomach.

He raised his gaze to mine. Grinned. "That's quite a dick." And before I could utter a word, my striking cobra head slipped between his furled lips until I felt the caress of his warm tongue. His eyes watered as my head slipped past his tonsils, but he didn’t choke. He drew in a deep breath and I felt the suction of his powerful lungs once again. I closed my eyes. Tilted my head back.

His left hand slid across my butt, squeezing my cheeks together. A soft moan escaped my chest. Then his right hand found its way to my balls. Gently, he rolled them and massaged them between his fingers while his mouth moved up and down my cock. 

Of fuck.” An uncontrollable wave of ecstasy grew within my body.

He squeezed softly on my balls as my legs trembled.

Oh... Oh...”

His powerful middle finger slid across my taint and gently massaged my hole.

My cock sank deeper into his throat. He pressed a hand against my belly guiding me backward onto the island.

Caleb…” I started to tell him I was about to cum, but his finger slid inside of me and only a gasp came out. 

He slowly turned his finger inside of me as my load exploded into his throat.

For the longest time, neither of us uttered a word. Naked beside each other, we sat listening to the quiet honesty our bodies. His deep and easy breathing. The way his shoulders rose and fell with each breath. The way his abdomen expanded and contracted.

My eyes fell over his body. The chest, the shoulders, the abdomen, the thighs… all of that I had seen before and never really given much thought about. His genitals remained a carefully covered secret until that moment.

So? How big’s your dick?” I reached for the button of his khakis. Fumbled with the button with one hand until it slipped loose.

His shorts fell to the floor as the most beautiful dick I'd ever seen throbbed in front of me. His was porn star cock. Thick as my wrist, nine straight inches, and a blue pulsing vein. No curves. No dents. No scars.

I reached over and curled my fingers around it and my middle finger could not touch my thumb. I didn't stroke it; I just held it the way you'd hold someone's wrist. Shook it a little. 

I bent forward. Kissed my lips against the bottom of his head. I cupped his chicken eggs within my palm. Before his dick reached my throat, he erupted. His body shook and shivered. His head tilted back. His eyes clenched shut as I swallowed his cum into my gut.

A New Normal

He let go of me the way a fighter lets go of is opponent after the match his called. Slow. Reluctant. Cautious.

He climbed to his feet, pulled his shorts up, and buttoned to them. "Guess we're gonna have to bleach the counter."

I chuckled. Rolled over and found my underwear wadded on the floor. There wasn't any point in putting them back on.

Strolling naked through the house, I headed toward my room with my underwear in my hand.

I caught my reflection in the mirror as I stepped into the bathroom. Sweat dripped down my chest. A puddle of cum clung to my lower stomach.

I usually let the water run for a few minutes before I get in the shower, because I like the water really hot. I stood there for a minute while steam filled the bathroom and the mirror fog. Heat rose from the tub.

All at once I felt a blast of cooler air as the door opened behind me.

Caleb’s hands found my shoulders, and he slid his hand down to my wrist. “Come on,” he said as he stepped into the shower. That line between us—the dimension of physical privacy—had disappeared.

I pulled the curtain closed behind me.

He grabbed the shampoo and I grabbed the soap. His poured a glob of shampoo in his palm and raised his hands to my head. I soaped his chest, shoulders, and armpits, while he lathered my hair with one hand and his own with the other. 

That's not the first time you've done that," I said.

He shook his head and I think we both understood that I meant "With a man?"

There may have been an occasional Band Girl along the way, but he had sucked cock before. He was good at it and maintained a certain finesse that you don't see with first-timers.

"I messed around with a few guys in high school," he said.

"Devin?" I asked.

His eyes widened. His head pulled back a little as if I had slapped him. "Uh... no. No actually." He shook his head.

"But you liked him?"

"Actually... I think I was in love with him," he said.

"What happened?" I asked as I brushed suds away from his eye.

He shook his head. "A one-way street." 

"That sucks."

He grabbed the soap from me and began lathering his crotch. "I'm gonna wash my own junk," he said.

"That's fine."

"It's not that I don't want you touching me—I actually like it when you touch me—but I don't want to cum twice in one morning. I'll be drained all day." 

Once he finished lathering himself, he slid the soap under my balls.  I took it from him. "Actually I better take care of me too."

"It's different when I'm with you," he said.

"How so?"

"It's like a hit off a joint... Or yoga...  It's like I get this energy from you that makes me feel like a god or something."

I leaned forward and kissed his lips. "Because you are."

He kissed me back and climbed out of the shower. As I shut the water off, he wrapped a towel around his waist and waltzed out of the bathroom.

I dried off. Combed my hair. Brushed my teeth. When I came out of the bathroom, Caleb had already dressed in his baseball uniform and leaned against the doorjamb of my room.

I sat on the corner of my bed and gazed up at him.

"I gotta be going. Practice."

I nodded. "What time is it?"

"A little past noon. Why?"

I curled my fingers around the edge of my cast. "Haven't taken any medication today."

"You feel alright?" He asked.

"I do actually. I feel good."

He smiled and I felt like the sun was peeking through the clouds again. All warm and fuzzy.

He scooched toward me. Leaned down and kissed my cheek. "I'll see ya later."

I watched him moving away from me in his white baseball uniform. His black cleats. His hat turned backwards. I remember trying to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had happened, but no one knocks the lock off the liquor cabinet just to take sip. My appetite barely whetted, I long to discover the mystique of Caleb Cardova.

I listened as the front door closed and a few moments later the motor on Caleb's bike began to purr. 

Private Lives

I sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall. Random thoughts passed through my mind like bubbles rising to the surface of a stream. No rhyme or reason. No connections. My dad. Caleb. Ben Harnes, my best friend in middle school. Art. Painting. Music. Drama. Dance. Baseball. Traveling. Swimming.

As the blade of light shifted between the curtains and my shadow moved across the wall, I had that "what do I do with myself?" conversation. Paint another picture? Work out? Search for colleges that accept C-average high school graduates with poor SAT scores? Or...

"Who is Caleb Cardova?" I glanced at my laptop. The word 'snooping' never came to mind. I thought of it more as investigative journalism, even though I had no intentions of actually writing anything. In the era of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, information was easy to come by.  Minor League baseball stats were readily available, especially for someone who had played in the Bigs.

I opened my laptop. Brought up Google: Caleb Cardova. The first results that came up had nothing to do with baseball. "Killeen Teen Takes First at State Karate Championship". I vaguely remembered that he said he taught martial arts. I clicked on the link just to make sure it was him. Sure enough, my Caleb stared back at me.

I browsed a little of his background. How he had trained since he was six. Held a third degree black belt. Was a hopeful for the U.S. Olympic team. I clicked my way back to the search results.

Another link read "Killeen High School Pitcher Has Big League Dreams". I clicked on the link and read a few lines. The article was about a Devin Mueller. I glanced at the picture and saw Caleb standing with his arm around Devin. Caleb's name in the captions must have been tagged in the search.

I squinted at the pitcher, staring carefully at Devin. Sure, there could have been another Devin on Caleb's team, but somehow I just knew that this is the guy he was so in love with. Tall. Dark haired. A face that could have been made of porcelain. It was easy to see why Caleb was so attracted to him.

Curious and maybe a little taken by his good looks, I decided to dig deeper. Backed up to the search page, typed: Devin Mueller.

"Shit," slipped out of my mouth as my eyes fell on the first search result. "Tragedy Strikes: Local Baseball Star Killed in Collision."

My hand trembled as I clicked the mouse. I didn't really want to know what happened to him, but never in the history of nosy minds has someone stopped at the headline. I opened the link.

It was all there. His baseball picture. A picture of a banged up Ford Focus. A mother, a father, a younger sister, a younger brother. Condolences from his coach. A quote from Caleb. An indication that alcohol may have been involved. But the part that sent a shiver up my spine was Devin speeding in the wrong direction on a one-way street. He swerved to miss an oncoming car and collided with a telephone pole.

I closed the laptop and held my face in my hand. Sighed. I'm not sure why expected a ballplayer to be so metaphorical. When I asked Caleb what happened to Devin, he said "a one-way street". I assumed he meant that Devin didn't feel the same way about him. It never occurred to me that he was being literal.

"Fuck..."  My brain flooded with a torrent of emotions. The image of the busted up car flashed through my mind and it wasn't just Caleb's sadness but my own. It all rushed through me again—my own accident. Tires squealing. A bang! The car rolling end over end. Blinking at my dad through blurry vision, and realizing that my father was gone. And maybe that's all Caleb saw in me. Someone surviving. Someone alone in the most terrible way. Someone with a huge gaping hole inside that could not be filled.

I launched to my feet. I couldn't sit there. I couldn't stay still with all of that inside of me. I bolted into the bathroom. Found my pain-killers. Took four.  But that wasn't enough. I darted out of my room and toward the liquor cabinet. I wasn't going to drink myself into oblivion, but my thoughts felt like poison. I had to quiet them.

I stepped into the kitchen. Stopped. Two plates still sat on the island. Our eggs uneaten. And the only thing I could think about wasn't about trading blowjobs on the counter top; it was that Caleb was hungry. And I didn't want him to be hungry. I didn't want him to be sad. I didn't want him to feel empty. I didn't want him to be alone.

I swooped down and snatched a bottle of wine from the rack—one of the cheap ones with a twist-off cap.

I stormed to the glass doors, slid it open, and stepped out onto the lanai. The sun shown warmly on my shoulders as I twisted the cap off the wine bottle. I stared up into a crisp blue sky. Raised the wine bottle. "Dad, I really miss the fuck out of you."

The Storm

Cold rain tapped against my cheek and roused me from my coma.  A dried string of vomit hung from the corner of my mouth. My body clung to the plastic strips of the lounge chair.

I pushed myself up with my arm. Lowered my feet to the ground. My underwear, the only item I wore, soaked with sweat and rain.

An empty wine bottle teetered on the edge of the drink table. A puddle of vomit had dried on the patio stone beside it.

"Fuck..." I glanced at the sky. Unable to tell by the light what time it was, or how long I had been out.

I staggered to the glass door, slung it open, and stepped into the kitchen. Leaned against the counter. I fumbled for the faucet and ran cold water. Stuck my face under it. Lapped in gulps of water.

I cupped water in my hands. Rinsed my eyes and washed my face. Grabbing a dish towel its holder, I stumbled to the island. Patted my face dry.

My cell phone sat there. Blinking. 

I hit the screen with my thumb. Text messages.

UNKNOWN: Hey, Gage. It's Caleb. ur mom gave me ur #.  <05:52 PM>
UNKNOWN: Hey, Gage. Are you there? <05:54 PM>
UNKNOWN: Man, my bike broke down. U think u can come and get me? <06:01 PM>
UNKNOWN: gage? <06:03 PM>
GAGE: Where u at? <6:53 PM>
CALEB: sunoco station.<06:53 PM> 
GAGE: where? <06:54 PM>
CALEB: sunoco on bell tower road. <06:54 PM>
GAGE: oh... wtf u doing way out there?  <06:54 PM>
CALEB: taking a ride <06:54 PM>
GAGE: in the rain? <06:55 PM>
CALEB: wuznt rainin when i left lol. <06:55 PM>
GAGE: K, on my way. <06:56 PM>
CALEB: thx man <06:56 PM>

I dropped my phone back on the counter and electric pain sizzled up my arm. Winced. Maybe it was the rain, or maybe I fell on my injured arm in my drunken stupidity. Nonetheless, it throbbed.

In my room, I took two pills. Slid into jean shorts, an IMAGINE t-shirt, sandals. Snatched my keys, my wallet, my phone, headed for the door.

Took two more pills when I climbed into my truck. Two more when I bounced over the railroad tracks at the edge of town.

By the time the old SUNOCO station came into view, I lost count. I zigged and zagged across the yellow lines and let off the gas. I swerved into the parking lot and skidded to a stop beneath the rusty tarmac. The filling station had been closed for five years by then—the doors chained and the windows boarded. 

I shoved the gear-changer into park and leaned against the steering wheel. I was so zonked out at that point that I even forgot what I was doing there. I sat with my eyes closed. Listening to the rain clattering against the cab, the wipers clapping, and the defroster blowing. The damp air chilled my skin and, despite having taken enough medicine to kill a horse, my arm still throbbed. I winced as the passenger door creaked open.

I hoisted my head. Looked at him. Steam rose from his body as the cold rain fell on him. Soaked through and chilled to the bone, he shivered.

He took one look at me. "What happened?"

I forced a grin. "Not sure..." My words garbled. 

He watched me for a minute.  "Why don't you let me drive?"

I shrugged. "Finebyme."

"Alright, lemme get my bike loaded."  He circled around the truck.

I glanced in the rear-view mirror and watched as he lowered the tailgate. I wondered how he'd manage to load his motorcycle into my truck. I had no idea how much it weighed, but I knew it was too heavy for him to dead-lift.

He leaned over beside the truck and walk around a thick plank board. I'm not sure where he found it, or if it had been sitting around the station. Nonetheless, he seemed to have thought everything through.

He made a ramp with the plank, walked over to his bike, grabbed the handlebars, and pushed it toward the ramp. He ran with the bike to give it a little momentum, lined up with the plank board, and shoved it up the ramp. The truck sank a little lower as Caleb and his bike rolled into the bed.

Caleb shimmied the bike sideways and laid it on its side. He hopped over the side of the truck and landed in this kung fu pose. He closed the tailgate and came around to the driver's door.

"Buddy, why don't ya slide over?"

I shimmied and slid over into the passenger seat, while Caleb unbuttoned his baseball shirt. He slid it off and rang it in his hands.

I couldn't tear my eyes off of him. If he was hot in his baseball uniform, he was absolutely sizzling in a wet uniform. His mop of damp hair clung to his face. Beads of water dripped from his chin and rolled over his shoulders and chest. The soaked fabric of his pants hugged his junk like a peel on a banana.

He glanced up at me. Grinned. "Why are you looking at me like that?"

"You're so fucking gorgeous it hurts."

He dropped his wet shirt on the floorboard. Pushed his hair from his face. Smiled at me. "No one's ever looked at me the way you do."

He twisted sideways and threw his butt onto the seat. He leaned out and grabbed the door.  With his arm fully extended, his shoulders raised, his back twisted, I realized just how well-built he was. Like Thor reaching for his hammer.

He closed the door and turned to me. He covered my hand with his. "You alright?"

"I know," I said.

He looked at me like he was trying to divide odd numbers in his head. "You know 'what?'"

"That Devin died in car accident."

He pulled his hand from mine. "Well, uh..." He looked away from me like he was ashamed of himself. Fumbled for his seat belt. "That's true."

"Did he love you back?"

"I..." He slammed his fist against the steering wheel. "Why? What the fuck does it matter?"

"Sorry... Just thought maybe..."

"What? That I want to talk about it?" He yelled.


"Look..." A tear slipped out of his eye. "I'm sorry to yell at you. But it was some...hard shit. And for the longest time I just wanted to... die. And I never let myself think about that shit."

"Okay. I'm sorry. I'm... sorry."

He leaned his head against the steering wheel. Sobbed.

"Oh, Caleb..." I slid my arm around. He fell into me. Buried his face against my chest. Sobbed. "I'm sorry, Caleb."

"It took everything I had to tell I felt about...him. And he just looked at me... And sneered.  Called me a fagot. For a minute I thought, he'd hit me, but he hopped in his car, and sped away. And that night... he wrecked. And it's all my fucking fault...

"No, Caleb."

"It's all my fucking fault."

"No it isn't."

I held him against me while he sobbed. Until the last tear had dripped from his eyes.  I held him while the windows fogged over. While rain spattered against the cab. While my painkillers wore off. I held him. Rocked him. And only after the sun was down and the rain was gone did we make the slow drive back into town.

Good Night

Caleb backed my truck into the driveway. "You have any tools in the garage?"

"Dad had all kinds of tools and shit." I reached over and hit the Jesus-button on the sun visor and the door began to raise. 

I opened my door, slid down from the truck, and went into the house. While Caleb unloaded his bike, I slipped into the shower. Hot water. Soap and suds.

When I came out of the shower, Caleb stood in my doorway. Still damp from the rain.

"You fix your bike already?"

"Just unloaded," he said. "Too tired to work on it tonight."

I nodded.

"Yeah, I'm zonked out too."

He chuckled.

"What?" I flopped down on the bed.

"Don't think I've ever heard anyone use the word 'zonk' outside of a cartoon," he said.

"It's a word, asshole! Look it up."

"I believe you."

"Well, I'm gonna grab a shower." He patted his hand against my stomach, smiled, and left.


Eyes closed. Breathing deeply. Belly lifting and falling with each breath. I drifted along the blurry line at the edge of sleep.

Suddenly, my mattress shifted. The scent of apple shampoo and soap hit my nose. My eyes sprang open.

"Sorry," Caleb whispered.

Wearing only red DIESEL trunks, he sat at the edge of my bed.

I propped myself up on my arm. "What's going on?"

"My first game with the Thunder Hawks is tomorrow."

"I know..."

"I haven't been sleeping well," he said.

" want a sleeping pill?"

He shook his head. Bit softly at his lip. "Do you think I can sleep with you?"

It was no secret that I wanted to sleep with him. Not just the little romp we had in the kitchen. I wanted him inside of me, but not then. It was too soon and I was too tired. "I'm zonked, Caleb."

"No, I don't mean sex. I mean lie next to you. Hold you. Breathe when you breathe. So... I feel... safe."

"Uh..." I wanted to ask him why a strapping karate-fighting ballplayer didn't feel safe in his own bed, but it didn't matter. I wanted him near me. I grabbed the edge of my comforter and held it up for him to slide under it.

He snuggled beside me. Slid his arm beneath my head. The other around my waist. I turned into him. Rested my head against his chest.

"Good night," he kissed my forehead.

"Hey, Caleb?" I whispered.


"I..." Stopped myself. I wanted to tell him what I felt, but I knew there were rules about that sort of thing. Maybe not rules I knew well or understood, but there were still rules. Caleb had just arrived. I had barely scratched the surface of who he was. Yes, we had shared tears, held each other, and exchanged blowjobs, but it was too soon to tell him I loved him.

"What?" He nudged me.

"I hope you have a good game tomorrow."

He kissed me on the lips. "Thanks... You're coming. Right?"

"Of course."

"Hey, Gage?"


"Are we boyfriends?"

I slid my hand across his stomach. Squeezed the head of his cock through his underwear. Giggled. "Do you want us to be?"

Laughing, "hell, yeah!"

"Then, we're boyfriends," I said.

"Good night, Gage."

"Good night."

I closed my eyes and a feeling came over me like I was on a boat drifting away from the shore. Above me, the stars passed, but it wasn't just me. There was an 'us'. Together. Beneath the stars. Listening to the waves slosh beneath us. Rocking back and forth. Up and down. Further and further away from the shore until it was gone.

Caleb & Gage

I woke first. Found my legs tangled together with Caleb's in an inexplicable vine. I wouldn't have minded staying wrapped up with him all morning, but a strong urge to pee battled my morning wood for occupancy of my cock.

I twisted my body away from him, leaving my legs tangled. I rolled halfway over.

"Fuck," slipped out of my mouth.

Light from the hallway showed into my room. A strip of Scotch tape held a sheet of paper to the door. From across the room, I could read the crudely written letters: "Caleb & Gage".

The opened door and the jointly-addressed note could only mean one thing. My mom had stopped by my room. She saw me with Caleb.

I had been out since I was fourteen. She knew she had a gay son—no great shock there. She most likely did not know that she had a gay baseball player as a guest in her home. She likely did not expect a gay baseball player in her son's bed.

Caleb gasped before I even knew he was awake. Sat straight up, yanking his legs free from mine. "Dude!" His voice was sharp and filled with fear.

"Don't worry, Caleb."

"She knows!"

The alarm on his face brought me down to his level—a level I hadn't been on in years. Maybe he told Devin how he felt about him, but I wondered if he told anyone else.

"Oh," I said.

"What do you mean 'oh'? Your mom knows about us!"

"Caleb, it's okay! Really."

I rolled to the edge of the bed. Planted my feet. Everything had happened so fast and I didn't realize that Caleb was hardly waving the rainbow flag around in the dugout.

It was different with him. A lot different. In ways, I imagined, harder. I was a walking-stereotype. Fine art, theater, and dance. People would be shocked if I told them I was into girls. Caleb didn't strike me as someone who was putting on a show. He was naturally athletic. Really good at sports. For lack of a better term, he was butch. People are drawn to him because he's good-looking and charismatic, but gay? I doubted he pinged many gaydars.

"You're not out, are you?" I asked.

He shook his head. 

I lifted myself from the bed and shuffled into the bathroom. There wasn't much point in modesty, so I left the door open while I squared myself in front of the bowl.

"What am I going to do?" He called to me.

"You're gonna... I don't know. " I lifted my voice over the sound of piss hitting water. "I've never"

"You haven't always been out," he said.

"No," I shook the last few drops of piss my slit. "but I've also never been good enough at any sport to play professionally." I stepped over and leaned against the doorjamb. "I mean there's dancing, but—guess what? People kind of expect you to be queer."

"Ughhh!" Caleb buried his face in his hands. "I just... I have to... I have to come out."

I bit my lip. Let out a little sigh. I had nothing that I could really say to him. As much as I wanted to host a little Pride parade for him, the gravity of his situation fell heavily on me. I never had anything to lose by being out. I didn't follow sports, but I couldn't recall a single queer ballplayer pitching a no-hitter and then running over to the stands to smooch his boyfriend.

"Caleb, I never had anything to lose, like you do. I was always obvious. I don't know what to tell you."

I circled the bed. Stopped in front of the door. Glanced at mom's note.

Caleb & Gage,

I work late this evening, but I will try to make it to the game. I will go directly to the ballpark from work, so I will see you there. Caleb, best of luck on the game. I know you'll do well. Gage, try not to distract Caleb too much. He needs to keep his head in the game. LOL.


"What's it say?" Caleb asked.

I shook my head. Grinned. "She says I distract you."

Caleb leaped from the bed and wrapped his arms around me. He grabbed my basket with one hand and shook it. "You do distract me. With your big beautiful dick."

Laughing. "You're so fucking queer."

He gobbled at my neck and swooped me off my feet. "What did you call me?"

I grabbed his shoulders as he hoisted me in his arms. "Queer."

He kissed my lips and carried me down to breakfast.

Breathing Fire from The Dragon

Caleb's text messages started after lunch—vague at first and pointless.

CALEB: hey man whats up? LOL

ME: nothing, u?

CALEB: really nervous about the game tonight

ME: you'll be fine. Don't over think it

CALEB: hey, do you think we can meet up this evening? Before the game?

ME: Why?

CALEB: I wanna talk

I didn't answer right away. I really was trying to let him keep his head in the game.

CALEB: well?

ME: ok


I parked in the lot of K.C. Crowley Box Co., an abandoned factory across from the ballpark. Texted Caleb and watched as he made the steady march across the highway and onto the parking lot. My heart pumped harder as I watched his swagger. His hair dancing in the wind. His thighs rubbing together. His junk bouncing in his tight ball pants. His shirt tattering and lifting.

By the time he approached my truck, the head of my cock had slipped out of my briefs and was stiff against my thigh. I slung my door open and slid down from the truck in a wide stance.

Hey, man. Thanks for coming,” he said.

Yeah, no problem.” I tried to play it cool.

We strolled around the factory and wandered into the woods a little way. A trail wound around until it came to an old railroad trestle. I strolled out a little ways and sat down on the edge. Dangled my feet off the trestle.

So what do you want to talk about?”

Caleb picked up a rock and chucked into the creek below. “I don't know what this is.”

This?” I glanced around. “It's a railroad trestle.”

No, not this. I mean...” He closed the distance between us. Dropped his butt onto the trestle. Reached over and flicked the head of my dick through my shorts. “This.”

I cupped my crotch with both hands. Grinned. “Well, the reference books at the Three Rivers Public Library generally refer to it as a penis.”

He chuckled. “Oh, I see. You've researched it then?”

A little.”

And what do they call this?” He leaned over and kissed my lips. I pressed my left hand against his chest. He wrapped his arms around me. We reclined against the trestle.

You wake something... inside me.” His breathing was so labored he could hardly speak. He kissed my neck as my hand slid to his groin. “Like a dragon... that's been shut up in a cave for so long...he's forgotten that he's a dragon.”

And me? Am I a dragon too?”

He grabbed the waistband of my shorts. Popped the button. “Definitely.”

I kissed him. His lips. His neck. His shoulder. Tore his shirt open. Kissed between pecks. Sucked his nipple between my lips.

Gage...” He moaned. “Gage, the dragon...who breathes fire.”

He clutched my throbbing dick between his fingers. Pumped it a couple of times. Pulled it out of my underwear.

I kissed his abs. Caressed his navel with my tongue. Moaned.

Give me your fire, Dragon,” Caleb said.

He slurped my cobra into his mouth and ran his thick tongue along the length of my shaft. I felt my head bump the back of his throat as he drew a deep breath. My cock slid further down his throat. My eyes clenched shut. I rested my hands on his shoulders. 

He balled his fist and pressed them against the sides of my butt cheeks. I moaned again.  “Oh, Dragon. Breathe my fire!”

He pressed his thumb between balls and moved it in a slow circle.  I let out another moan as my cum erupted down his throat. Caleb took his mouth from my dick. Swallowed. Kissed my balls.

I lowered my face to his crotch. His throbbing dick stuck out the top of his baseball pants and twitched like the minute hand of a clock. I kissed the head of his dick. 

No,” he said softly. Lifted my head away from his crotch. “Not me.”

Confused and a little hurt, I looked up at him. “Why not?”

I'm going to hold it all inside, Caleb. With your my belly... I'm going to fly into that ballpark and set the world on fire.”

Didn't know what to say. He settled beside me. Rested his head against my chest. His hand on my stomach. “Your heart is beating really fast,” he said.

I could barely catch my breath to speak.

You think I'm a freak?” He asked.

I nodded. “A little.”

I think we're both dragons.” He leaned over. Shoved my softening dick back into my underwear. Zipped me. Buttoned me.

I kissed him again. We climbed to our feet and made the slow stroll back to the ballpark.

The Magic Lingers

Spinning. Dizzy. Intoxicated. My whole body hummed in the afterglow of sex. Like smoking a blunt or popping pain killers, my mind broke through base level clouds and soared into hyperspace. The mere thought of him swam through me like a chorus to a catchy song—pulling me back through the moment again.

Drenched in my own sweat, I climbed the bleachers to the nosebleed seats of Maynard C. Helton Memorial Park. Throbbing hard again, I sat still as the dragon grew inside of me. A small part of me—the cynical part that makes fun of people's grammar—wanted to quip how ridiculous it all was. However cheesy it was, I felt something growing inside of me. Something immensely powerful. Something that had been buried for a long time. Something that only Caleb could find. And however terrified I was I had never felt quite so alive as I did then.

I kept my eyes on him. Couldn't even blink. And I felt like we were both connected by some sort of spell. As far as I knew, we were the only two dragons in the entire world. Each breathing our fire and spinning a sacred magic that only the two of us could see.

The basemen took their bases and Caleb emerged from the dugout like a gunfighter at high noon. Poised, confident, ready to strike down outlaws. He roughed his ball. I exhaled as he inhaled. His shoulders rose. His fingers found their way into the horseshoe seam of the ball. He wound up and launched a beautiful cutter into the catcher's glove.


For three innings, my eyes only saw Caleb. Every tilt of his chin. Every crane of his neck. The way he angled his feet and leaned toward the batter's box. The shift of his hips. The way he hoisted his shoulders. The way he handled the ball like a baker tossing dough. He was a piece of music.

Enthralled by his presence on the mound, I hardly noticed the time that passed. The sun was mostly gone and the stadium aglow in white lights when Coach Reinhert walked out to the mound and brought him in. He had played as long as the rules would allow. Didn't give up any hits.

I'm not sure what I expected—certainly not a Rocky Balboa moment where Caleb screamed my name into the crowd. But he didn't look up. He didn't wave. He put his head down and moseyed quietly to the dugout.

A sigh rose from my chest. Mostly because whatever magic I felt at the beginning had worn thin. I nearly laughed aloud at the dragon nonsense. What was I? A child? Caleb was a good guy. A good ball player. A guy relieved to have his first game with his new team behind him. He was a guy. Like any other. Horny. Confused. A guy whose balls ached because he had been all riled up with no release. Caleb wasn't any damned dragon. Neither was I.

I stood to my feet. My shirt mostly dry. My shorts riding. I took out my phone as I strolled toward the exit. Shot him a text message.

ME: You were great!

I waited a minute for a reply. Nothing came. I didn't think much of it at the time. He was busy and wanted to keep his head in the game. Probably didn't even have his phone turned on. I slipped quietly out of the stadium and drove home. 

The Dog Returns

I glanced at my phone as I made my way through the back door of The Dog House. No messages from Caleb. No messages from Mom. Wasn't sure if we missed each other at the game.

"Go home, whore!" Chloe shouted at me as she launched from her make-up chair. Cigarette in hand. Her smile gave her away. She snatched a newspaper off the vanity and shoved it at me. "I saw what you did! I'm mad at you!"

"Mad about what?"

"Trying to sneak this delicious Sex God for yourself."

I glanced down and saw Caleb's picture staring back from the front page of The Three Rivers Current. The deal with small towns is that it doesn't take much of a celebrity to make the front page. And, yes, minor league ballplayers, who've played three innings with the Cincinnati Reds count as celebrities.

His featured picture, donning his Thunder Hawks jersey and cap, seemed rather recent, but when I turned the page for the full article, they had his high school pictures, his pictures from Pacific Bay, and even the backstory of how he was karate champion.

"Oh, honey," Chloe slid her arm around my waist and pulled me to her. She smooched my cheek. "I tried to tell you to watch where you step."

"I'm watching..." I said.

She pulled my face into her gloved hands. "Are you?" She gave me a questioning glance. "Because you have that look about you, girl. Like you just popped your cherry."

"Chloe, I didn't."

"You sure?"

"I...well..." And seeing how she was the fairy godmother of queens at The Dog House, I told her everything. The blowjobs, the cuddling, the sleeping together.

She gasped. "Girl, if a blowjob's enough to impeach a President, it's enough for a Dog House queen to consider a home run."

"And then he just asked me 'are we boyfriends?'"

"Shut up!" She pressed her hand to my lips. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

She snatched the newspaper from me and smacked me in the face with it.

"What was that for?" I asked.

"For being a silly little cunt, Khmer!" She shook the newspaper in my face. "You've seen this shit, right?"

I nodded.

"Girl, what do you think will happen?" She asked.

"I don't know."

"Well, I do. This boy's this close to landing a major league deal. Do you really think they're gonna a silly Three Rivers drag queen fuck that up?"

I knew what she was saying. Thought the same thing myself.

"Khmer, they're not gonna fly you to away games or put you up in the club house. They're not gonna let you fuck up his endorsement deals by telling the world what a faggot their pitcher is!"

"I know."

"Do you?" She asked. "Girl, you need to get your head out of your ass and your dick tucked away before you get your heart broken."

I didn't have the words to tell her that it was a little late for that. I hadn't given him the words yet—the I-love-you—but I felt it anyway. My heart was bound to break.

"Be careful, Khmer. Don't wanna see ya get hurt." She snapped and turned. Made her way back to her make-up chair.

I checked the line-up. Door duty again.

I made my way to the couch. Slid out of my shorts and slipped my feet into a pair of white hose.


My night started slowly. I only sat fifteen tables.  Lulls of ten minutes would pass without a single person passing my station. I kept a copy of The Three Rivers Current folded in front of me. When I caught a moment, I'd read a bit, scanning for pieces of information I might have missed. 

By midnight, twenty minutes had passed without hearing a peep from anyone. I was nearing the end of the article.

"Don't believe a word of that garbage. I hear he's terrible."

Like a mime portraying an ice statue, I froze. I did not bat an eye. I did not raise my head. I knew that drawl. I knew that voice. That voice whispered to me in the dark. I didn't need to look at him.

Surprise is what you feel when someone throws you an impromptu birthday party. I felt more like one of the creeps on To Catch a Predator when the investigator walks out and asks "what the fuck?" Maybe I wasn't a predator, but I was caught on so many levels. Caught with the newspaper was the easy part.

I harbored no delusions of him not recognizing me. If the cast on my arm didn't give it away, my eyes would the moment I looked up at him. My only questions were: how much did he know before he walked through the door? And how should I play it?

I wondered whether to stay in character as Khmer and own my performance, or if it would be better to level up and say "hey, Caleb."

I drew a deep breath. Relaxed my shoulders. Blinked my eyes. Caleb had baseball; I had theater. It was my show, and there remained one rule of show business that I did not have to explain to anyone: THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

A smile crept across my face. My tongue postured in my mouth ready to project my crisp London accent. I raised my head slowly. Met his gaze. Held it. It took everything I had to hold it, because he was decked out in a gray suit that made me want to pounce on him. But I held it all the same. "Well, good evening, kind sir. And thank you to coming to our house."

I extended my gloved hand to him. He clasped it. Kept his eyes on mine as he leaned forward. Kissed my hand. "It's good to be here."

"Will you be dining alone this evening?" I asked.

"Unfortunately, yes. I ditched my teammates at a bar and my boyfriend..." He shrugged. "He had to work."

"So a table for one then?"

He glanced at the bar. "Maybe I'll just sit over there. If it's alright with you."

"Of course."

Caleb stepped over to the bar, sat on a stool, and cast his gaze upon the stage. Once he was seated, I slipped out into the vestibule, and made my way back to the greenroom.

The Morning After

Gasping and covered with sweat, I sprung up in my bed. A musky scent rose from my damp sheets while my room appeared like a black-and-white photograph from the 1970s.

My bed was empty, so Caleb must have crawled into his own.

I peeled off my soaked T-shirt and flung it on the floor. I sat there, breathing heavily, and questioned myself. "What the hell did I do?" I held my own during the initial encounter with Caleb at The Dog House, but when I went to the greenroom, I never returned.  An hour later, I looked out, and he was gone.

I glanced at my phone. The little light that blinked when I had messages remained dark. I grabbed the phone anyway as if to argue with it. Thumbed the screen. No messages.

"Oh, fuck!" I rolled to the floor. Landing with a thud. Planted my feet and launched toward the hallway. I slung open my door and saw Caleb's door standing wide open. His bed empty.

All the alarms in my head began to blare at once. Had I freaked him out? Was he hurt that I ignored him at the club? Why didn't he come home? Where was he? Fucking shit! Did I really fuck this up? 

I staggered backwards and fell back on my bed. A caustic cocktail of fear and sickness swam in my gut. I thought about Caleb wandering the streets alone. Sleeping in jail. Banged up in a hospital room. I don't know why I panicked but I did.  

Caleb probably went back to drinking with the team. Followed one of them home to their pad and crashed on the floor. My mind raced back to the trestle. Caleb's dragon bullshit. What did I really expect from him? Was he really even my boyfriend?

I climbed to my feet and lumbered into the bathroom. Staring into the mirror, my eyes were the only indication that something was off. The pupils were dilated—nearly overtaking the green—and red veins stretched across the whites of my eyes. My skin was neither flush nor pale. It was my normal complexion—sun-bronzed across my forehead, nose, and cheeks. My lips red and moist. But behind my forehead, I sensed the early signs of a headache.  

I let cold water run in the sink, as I tore open my medicine cabinet.  The Percocet bottle was exactly where it was supposed to be, but as I reached for it, there was agonizing silence. The rattle—the sound of pills bouncing against plastic—wasn’t there. I turned off the water, and glanced at the shower. I thought that standing beneath a shower of warm water would soothe my head. 

I turned the knob letting the warm water run. More than anything, I needed to jerk off. I peeled off my underwear and felt my cock grow stiff within my grasp. As I stepped beneath the shower, the soft spray dampened my hair. Water ran over my face. I closed my eyes.

Feeling blindly for the soap, I lathered my left hand. Wrapped it around my shaft. Slowly, I cranked my meat, twisting my wrist with each beat. My heart quickened. Endorphins pumped through my body. My pain eased.

As I continued to stroke, my feet slid wide apart, and I stooped forward at the waist. Ughhhh!” my fist trembled and my whole body shook. Cum erupted from the slit of my engorged cock.

Once the last drop of cum was squeezed from my dick, I turned off the water and climbed out of the shower. My clothes—khaki shorts and a polo—sat on the sink, folded and waiting.

I dressed quickly. Checked my phone again—don't know why. Whatever thoughts I had of Caleb were far away. I snatched my keys and headed out the door.

The Weird Kind of Weird

I followed Bell Tower Road pass the Sunoco where Caleb's bike broke down, passed the old horse farms, and navigated the truck along the windy stretch of road that led down to the river.  From there, I crawled back toward the city.

When the art district came into view, I thought of Jay Kay. He was a rather thin cub who frequented The Dog House. Shaved head but a burly black beard that hung to his collarbone. Always wore leather pants and vest that showed his thin arms and birdcage chest. He worked as a guide/ticket-taker at Peni Giganti, an Italian art gallery on Fifth Street.

Without really thinking about it, I tooled around the block until I found a parking space. I wasn't sure if it was Jay I wanted to see or the gallery. He bought me drinks a few times and seemed like a really nice guy. But there was something a bit off about him. Something I couldn't put my finger on.

Long story short, I circled the block. Went through the front and found the ticket desk empty. I glanced around. Didn't see anyone at all.

"Can I help you?" I recognized his voice, but I didn't see him.  I turned all the way around and locked eyes with Jay as he came down a flight of stairs.

He reached the foyer and came toward me.

"Hey, Jay." I called to him.

He stopped in his tracks. Squinted at me. It occurred to me that Jay had never seen me without a long black wig, a sequin dress, and tits.

"Khmer?"  He held his arms open and rushed to me. Threw his arms around me and hugged me. "You... uh... what's the opposite of 'clean up nice'?"

"Uh, dirty down bad?"

He cackled. Slapped my back. "Hey, I've never seen you as anything other than Khmer. So, this is...different."

I glanced around the foyer. Not much art to look at. "Well, you always told me to stop by if I was in the neighborhood. So..." I help up a finger. "Ticket for one."

"We're the only ones here, so... your ticket is on the house."

He stepped behind me to the main door. Twisted the knob and locked it. A dozen alarms went off in my head at once. I didn't say anything. Just stood there. Glanced at the door.

"Uh, right this way."

He walked beside me as we descended a ramp into a dim gallery. "Holy fuck!" It wasn't necessarily the good kind of 'holy fuck'.  Lots of white sculptures of men with exaggerated endowment. The whole exhibit celebrated the male anatomy and caused one to ponder such questions as: what does a man do with a cock bigger than his arm? Hunt trolls?

Jay stopped in front of a statue of a man with hunched shoulders. A dick as thick as his thigh ran all the up the torso of the statue, wrapped around his neck, and choked him. The sculpture's wide-eyed face and opened mouth seemed to beg for a breath of air.

"My favorite," Jay said.

I simply nodded. Didn't want to argue with his assessment of great art.

"Khmer," he called me by my drag name, "will you do something for me. He turned toward me, hitched his hands on his hips, and widened his stance.

"Jay..." I shook my head. "Look, you're nice and everything, but I'm kind of seeing someone now." I actually had no clue what was going on with Caleb.

"Oh, no. Not that!" Jay waved his hands. "I didn't want you to suck me off or anything."

I snickered. "Then...what can I do for you?"

His gaze fell to my feet. "It's just you're walking in those sandals. And your feet! They're just fucking amazing!"

I made a half-grin/half-sneer. Unsure of what he was getting at. "Thanks, Jay."

"And I was wondering if you wouldn't mind...kicking me... in the balls with them?"

"The fuck?" slipped right out of my mouth.

"I know, I know, I know... Weird. But... would you?"

"Why, Jay? Why would I do that?"

"Because... It'd make so... happy."

I stared at him. Shook my head. I had read about guys like him, but I had never met one.  I didn't really know what to say to him.

I knew the world was filled with all different flavors of weird shit. I was a drag queen for fuck's sake. But save for a few blisters my club routine didn't cause me actual physical pain.

"Look. I should go," I made a half-turn for the door.

"No! Please! Just one kick!"

"Jay why do you want me to hurt you?" I asked.

"Because... it's the ultimate rush!"

Part of me felt shitty for being so judgmental, but causing pain was so far over the line.

"I'll pay you!" He reached for his wallet. "Fifty dollars!"

"I don't want your fucking money, Jay."

"A hundred."

"No, Jay."


"Fuck!"  Maybe he just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I didn't like him as much as I thought I did. Maybe I just didn't care. "Just shut up!"

I stepped toward him. Lifted my foot in front of his crotch. Lined up my toes and gently tapped his balls through his leather pants.

He shook his head right away. "No, Khmer! A real kick!"

I turned toward the door. Took one step. His hands seized my hips. He yanked. Twisted. Spun me around.

"Asshole!" Something in me snapped. My whole leg flew toward his crotch like a striking serpent. POP! My toes plowed into his balls with enough force he rocked onto the tips of his toes. His breath whooshed from his lungs as his mouth gaped open like a fish. His eyes watered and his hands cupped at his balls. He collapsed forward and landed on his knees with a THUD!

I drew my foot back. Gawked at him. I had no idea what to do. What to think. I had never hurt someone so badly before.

His hands slapped against the gallery floor. He heaved. Gagged. Heaved again and vomit spewed from his mouth.

"Fuck, Jay! I'm sorry."  I started to crouch beside him, but he held his hand up. Gave me a soft shove.

"No," he croaked. "Don't ever stoop for me."

"But Jay! You're..."

He leaned forward. Placed both hands on the floor. Kissed my foot. "Thank you, thank you, thank you." He grabbed my ankle and slid my sandal from my foot.

"Jay, that's enough."

He slid is tongue between my toes.

"Stop now." I said softly and pulled my foot away.

He raised his head and looked into my eyes. "That was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me."

I slid my foot back into my sandal. Spun. Dashed out of the gallery.

An Empty Boat

Once inside my truck, I locked the door, put my head against the steering wheel and squirmed. 

"Who the fuck does that?" I shook my head and patted my cheeks. Whatever had just happened to me—whatever you call that—was the creepiest experience of my life. All of it was just too much for me. The weird pain fetish. The vomit. The foot kissing. The toe sucking. The way he groveled and crawled. His profuse "thank you, thank you, you..."

I cranked the ignition, slid the gear into drive, and squealed out of the parking space like a redneck at a tractor-pull. I had no idea where I was going. I just drove Bell Tower Road along the river, making a little dance with the truck as I hopped the hills and turned the curves.

Twenty minutes later, I found myself trolling the docks of the Backwaters, an inlet off the river where the locals fished for bass. The stragglers on the docks could have been extras in a movie.  They moseyed along, doing their boat-dock schtick, lugging tackle boxes, casting their lines, sipping coffee from thermoses—nothing particularly out of the ordinary about them.

The docks passed from view and the road hugged the edge of the inlet where the waves babbled against the rocks.  A view of the waters opened up and a little ways out, maybe fifty yards, a little white boat drifted by itself. No one was in it.

It struck me like an oil painting in a gallery—a desperate smear of insidious pastels. I pulled my truck to the side of the road and gawked at it. It wasn't so much whether the boat was pretty or ugly; raw emotion hung over it and seeped into every crack. It's quiet power nearly swallowed me whole.

I thought of how I felt when I was with Caleb. When he slept beside me and we held each other. How I felt like I was drifting away with him beneath imaginary stars. I remembered the breathing, the warmth, the heartbeat—the simple music of being together. And how it felt when the shorelines no longer mattered, because Caleb was all the dry land I needed.

It had been too long since I had talked to him. Since he had touched me. And I feared that I had lost him. It hit me like a punch in the gut, because I knew if he wasn't with me, I was simply drifting alone. And to be alone was to be lost.

Panic grabbed a hold of me. I felt my life leaking from my body. Soon to be a ghost, an empty shell of a person, wandering lost, I mashed the accelerator. I couldn't bear it.

I sped along Bell Tower Road, taking the curves dangerously fast. The farms, the ponds, the groves all passed like a video game until the factories near the ballpark came into view. Traffic thickened and slowed like pine sap in January. I caught the first traffic light. The one after that.  

Stopped, waiting for the light to change, I glanced at my phone. The little light blinked at me.  I grabbed my phone the way a sailor lost at sea grabs the radio when he hears a voice crackle through the static.  I fumbled and nearly dropped the phone as I hit the screen with my thumb.

UNKNOWN: Khmer, thank you. That was totally fucking awesome!

"Ickkk!" I pressed delete. Scrolled through until I found the thread with Caleb. Clicked new.

ME: Caleb... Haven't seen or heard from you. Are you alright?

Pressed send.

Hit new.

ME: Btw, sorry about last night.

Pressed send.

I watched my phone like a total eclipse of the sun. No chirps. No blinks. Nothing happened.

A horn blasted at me and I raised my eyes to the street. The light had changed and traffic crawled forward.

At the intersection, I zipped left. Turned into the alley behind the bank and followed Wino's Craw—a collection of service road and backstreets—to the ballpark.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw Caleb's motorcycle—apparently fixed. Whatever dramatic stories my mind conjured up with hospital rooms and jail cells ended. He was alive and mobile.

I found a spot. Parked and set the brake. Listened while the engine died.

"Answer your fucking messages, dude." I whispered. I slung my door open, slid down from my truck, and made  my way into the ballpark.

Don't Ever Come Back Here

When I approached the dugout, the players gawked at me like villagers in a bad Sci-Fi movie. Their faces—some sneering, some disbelieving—seemed to cry "outlander". Caleb was nowhere among the half dozen dirt-caked hombres.

The stench of sour sweat rose to the top of the steps as I paused in front of the dugout. Looked around the field.

"You come to play ball?" One of the players grumbled in a thick rancher accent.

I shook my head. "Looking for Caleb."

He chuckled and made an expression that what somewhere between and sneer and grin. "Yep, I betcher lookin' fer Caleb, alright."

I wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean. So, I just shuffled on by.

"He's over there!" One of them yelled after me. "By the first foul pole."

I nodded as if I understood where the foul pole should be and kept walking.

"Fagot..." One of them yelled as a collective laugh rose from the dugout.

I passed the fence behind home plate and gazed upon their cowboy coach gripping the chain-link. White-knuckled and eyeing his players like he spotted coyotes near his roost.

I followed a stretch of grass around the backstop and my eyes fell upon Caleb. His back was to me as he warmed up his arm. Pitching a ball back and forth with a catcher. The lost panicky feeling that took me hostage by the Backwaters lifted at once.

I moseyed to the fence and watched him for a few pitches. When the catcher tossed a ball back to him, it hit the dirt next to his foot and bounced past him. He turned to stop it and that's when he saw me. His face lit up like the fourth of July, but his wide smile and beaming eyes quickly faded.

A love-bird whistle carried from the dugout. Their cackling too. Caleb's expression hadn't gone unnoticed.  He mumbled something and trotted to the fence. 

"Gage?" Caleb's eyes darted toward his coach, and he spoke like he just let a swear word slip in a church. "You shouldn't be here."

"You're dry land," I muttered.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

It hadn't occurred to me that I would be crossing a line.  To me it was just a place where people play ball, but to Caleb it was his office, his job. His office. His work.

"I just wanted to see you. I was... worried."

"There's nothing to worry about. Go home," he said.

"I just hadn't heard anything..."

"I lost my phone,” he glanced back at the dugout. “Can we talk later?"

I nodded. Turned away fully aware that I couldn't kiss him.

"Hey, Gage?" He called. I glanced back.  "It's not you, okay? I'm in deep shit with the coach."

"About what? You're fucking awesome out there."

"We'll talk later."


I shuffled along the grass path and passed behind the backstop again. The coach spat a long streak of tobacco juice on the ground as I approached.  He kept his eyes on the ground as I walked behind him.

"Boy..." He growled like a Western Sheriff staring down an outlaw. Since no one else was within earshot, I could only assume he was speaking to me.

I stopped. Turned my head toward him.  

"Best not make a habit of hangin' 'round here."  

"Sorry, Coach Reinhert."

"We'll have scouts at the game tonight," he said.

"That's nice." I wasn't sure why he was telling me this.

"I can't stop ya from comin' to the game, but I don't wanna see ya anywhere near Cardova."

"Excuse me?" My voice shot up an octave.  

"I made myself clear."

"I'm..." I started to remind him I was Caleb's host family.

"I know who ya are, kid and I'm not stupid. Now, steer clear."

I had a dozen different things on the tip of my tongue, but it wasn't a subtle point he was making. Caleb was right; I shouldn't have come.  

I dawdled back toward the parking lot. When I approached the entrance gate, I glanced back. Coach stood face-to-face with Caleb. His face beet red and hand gestures flew like an opera singer. Caleb was standing at the business end of a hissy fit.

The Slaughter

I went to the game for Caleb, not for the Thunder Hawks. I never claimed to understand sports, but I understood body language better than most people. When someone's music is out of sync, I can tell.

I watched Caleb warm up as the bleachers filled with fans. He lobbed bricks. Wild chaotic pitches that missed the glove half the time.

When game time drew near, a Latino woman in tight jeans, a Thunder Hawks cap, and a CARDOVA jersey passed in front of the bleachers. She kept her eyes on Caleb the whole time as she made her way along the fence by the first baseline.

"What... bullshit!" I threw up my hands as I watched her terribly orchestrated community theater.

She leaned across the fence. "Hey, baby!"

Caleb raised his chin and smiled at her. He tucked his glove under his arm and trotted over to the fence. He hugged her with one arm, and she hugged him with two. A quick peck on the lips. He held her hand for a moment, and they chatted until the announcer came over the loudspeaker. "Ladies and gentlemen, will you please rise...." Caleb kissed her again. Turned and trotted to his teammates, who were already taking off their hats.

The original Cover Girl stood by the fence, her eyes fixed on Caleb while the national anthem played. The crowd cheered, and she blew him a kiss before she turned and made her exit.

I almost left right then. It had never been more clear to me that Chloe was right. The Major Leagues had their eyes on Caleb, and the people in the big box weren't about to let me fuck it up. I don't know how they knew about me—maybe it was a mere suspicion or maybe Caleb let it slip—but I knew full well that the girl in the CARDOVA jersey was damage control. But none of it mattered.

Caleb walked his first batter. Gave up a hit on his second. The third hitter loaded the bases. Cover Girl screamed through the fence. "It's okay, baby. Strike him out!"

The fourth hitter swung at his first pitch and missed. "Strike one!" The next pitch was high and wide. "Ball one!"  When Caleb let loose his third pitch, I closed my eyes. I'm not sure how I knew—but I just knew—that it was off.

Ka-pow! A distinctive thump fell on my ears. It wasn't just a good hit; it was a grand slam.

As the fourth runner crossed home plate, I opened my eyes. Saw Caleb standing out there on the mound like a sad Charlie Brown. Shoulders slumped. Head down. Arms by his sides. A hush fell over the crowd.

"It's okay, baby!" Cover Girl shouted, but it wasn't okay. Scouts didn't come to see a pretty "girlfriend" and her bad acting. They came to see a promising pitcher. Not one who gives up four runs in the first inning.

His next at bat wasn't any better. The batter hit a double. And that's when Coach Cowboy made his slow march to the mound. Caleb was done.

Moving On

I sat at the edge of the pool. My legs dangled in the water. I sipped a glass of red wine while I downed a couple Percocet. Nothing really hurt at the time—at least not physically—but I couldn't stand the raw ends of my emotions.

Mom came home and saw me sitting by the pool. She came out and stood beside me.

"I heard we lost the game," she said.

I shrugged. "I left in the bottom of the second."

She giggled. "Listen to you. Bottom of the second? You're starting to sound like a real...sports nut."

"I hate sports, but with Caleb it's like watching a dance. It's art with all of his lines and movement... And..." I sighed.

"I know, Gage. I know how you feel." She stooped beside me. 

"I mean... I'm an idiot for getting in too deep...and too fast. I know it's too soon for I-love-you, but whatever budding love feels like... I think it feels like this, only mixed with utter fucking hopelessness."

"Oh, Gage." She dropped beside me and put her head against my shoulder. "It's not hopeless."

"Yes, Mom. It kind of is. All these coaches, managers, major league bullshit..." A tear slipped out of my eye. "They're not gonna let this happen."

She let a laugh slip out. Covered her mouth. "Gage... if it's real love, they won't be able to stop it."

"They can sure as hell make it difficult."

"I'm hungry," she said, changing the topic. "How about pizza?'

"No, I'm not hungry."

She climbed to her feet and glanced at my wine glass. "Take it easy with the vino."

She walked back to the house and, just as she opened the door, Caleb's motorcycle purred on the street.

Grabbing my wine glass, I turned the bottom up, finishing the last of it in one big gulp.  I pulled my feet from the pool and made a big puddle on the deck. Large footprints trailed behind me as I sloshed toward the house.

I snatched a towel, wiped at my legs and feet. I set the towel down and stamped my feet on top of it before trudging into the house.

"Where is he?" I asked Mom.

She pointed. "Upstairs."

I marched up to his room and found his door closed. Paused. Knocked. "Caleb?"

"Yeah?" Caleb called.

When I pushed the door open, he had his back to him. His Duffel back sat open on his bed, and he shoved socks and underwear into it.

I wrapped my arm around him. Hugged him from behind. "You alright?" I asked.

He twisted around and hugged me tight. Buried his face in my shoulder. "No." Tears ran down his face.

"Caleb, man... It's just one game."

"No, it's not... I don't care about the fucking game."

"There'll be other games."  

He lifted his head from my shoulder and gazed into my eyes. "Coach is moving me. To a new host family."

My voice shot up an octave. "The fuck? Why?"

He shook his head. "Don't know."

I took a step back. "And you? You're going along with this?"

"I don't have a choice, Gage. Baseball's all I have.”

I pounded my fist against the wall. "Fuck!"

"And Coach says I can't see you anymore."  

"No! Fuck that, Caleb! That's bullshit! He can't tell you can't see me."

"No, but he can tell me whether or not I'm on the team."  

"Why do you even want to play for those assholes?"

"It's baseball, Gage. It's fucking baseball." He zipped his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and stormed out the door.

I followed him to the stairs. Halfway down, he stopped. Glanced at my mom standing in the foyer with her arms held out. "What's going on?" She asked.

"Thank you for everything, Jacky, but I have to leave," he said.

"What do you mean? Leave?" She asked. "You just got here!"

"It's Coach's call. I'm sorry." He glanced back up at me.

"Gage, I'm so fucking sorry. It's not you, okay? It's not you. It's baseball."

He bounded the rest of the way down the stairs. Stopped in front of my mom and gave her a half assed, one-armed hug. "Again, so sorry."

He hurried to the door. Opened it.

"Fuck you, Caleb!" I shouted at him.

He paused. Glanced up at me. Tears streamed down his face.

"And fuck baseball too!"

He turned away from me, stepped through the door, and closed it behind him. 

A few moments later, his bike began to hum. I sat down on the top of the stairs and listened as its drone faded into the distance.

"Gage, I'm sorry," Mom called up to me.

"Don't be sorry, Mom. It's baseball! It's fucking baseball!" I launched to my feet, stormed into my room, and slammed the door.

It Dropped So Low In My Regard

I became that moment in a Greek tragedy, where the chorus sings the hero's fall. I became that moment when Romeo shouts at the night sky, "defy you stars". I became every song ever sung by Simon & Garfunkel, Counting Crows, and Janis Joplin. I became Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost. I became Jack & Coke. Already a mess, I became a humongous one.

My coping mechanisms were well-known, and, yes, many were used—a cocktail of Michael Jackson's Jesus Juice, pain pills, hatred, tears, and rage. In a cacophony of fury and despair, I busted out the front door and onto the street and,  forsaking the motorized contraptions of lesser gods, I ran. With only one arm to swing and an awkward gate, I became Cinderella with one shoe,  dashing down the street too late for her ball. I ran to nowhere and everywhere at once.

I hit the intersection where McKinley Avenue emptied into a four-lane and, without regard for oncoming traffic, I crossed the screaming lanes. I dropped over the hill behind the shopping center, crunched through the weeds, found the sidewalk again and kept running. Through the alleys, the side streets, the service roads, until shiny black waters glimmered beneath the moonlight.

Winded, wheezing, dizzy, I staggered to the river's edge and drew a deep breath. In the utter despair of screeching violin music and circling buzzards, the thought crossed my mind of tossing my mangled carcass into the swift waters, where at last I'd take my refuge with the bones of Jimmy Hoffa and the Burka Woman from the Grassy Knoll.

I raised my gaze to the hillside behind me, as if to say "goodbye old world," and glimpsed the flood lights from Terrace Heights. Though the name sounded so quaint and magical, it was a housing project overrun by drug addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes—Chloe Mydia among its many inhabitants.

I turned all the way around and could practically hear Chloe screaming at me with her infinite drag queen wisdom: "Oh, for fuck's sake! You're not the only guy to ever get dumped!"  I shuffled away from the river bank and headed toward Chloe's. If there were answers to be had, she'd have them; and, if there weren't any answers, she'd let me snort a line of coke off her ass, and then she'd suck my dick.

I climbed the hill in the dark. Slid a few times. Fell back on my back once and laid there a minute, cussing at the moon.  I got back up, because I grew up on Rocky movies and gay eighties films where everyone slow caps at the end.

I emerged into a parking lot of broken down cars and men in white tank-tops swigging malt liquor from the bottle.  I passed dark balconies and patios lit only by the orange cherries of cigarettes, Black & Milds, and weed bowls. I stepped around a puking woman on the sidewalk and climbed onto the landing of Chloe's building.

A shirtless man with a bloated beer goat and visible signs of cirrhosis stumbled out onto the landing, staggered, and nearly fell. I tried to walk around him, but he shuffled in front of me, reached up, and put his hands on my shoulders.

"The fuck, dude?" I said to him. For a moment, I thought his balls might be the second pair kicked that day.

He drew his lips close to my ear, as if to tell me a secret. "Can I tell ya something, kid?"

"Uh, sure..."

"Jesus Christ is coming, kid. He's coming here. That's the good news. The bad news is you're not ready."

"Okay, thanks for the update."

He patted my arm and shuffled out onto the sidewalk.

I climbed up to Chloe's door and knocked fast and furious.

"Coming," she called.

I felt the floor shake as she hurried toward the door. The light in the peep-hole dim as she stepped in front of it.

"Holy Fuck!" She called.

She fumbled with the lock. The door swung open and I stood face to face with Greg, who was buck naked and stoned.  Greg was Chloe and Chloe was Greg; they both filled out the same tax return as 'Greg'.

"Jesus, Chloe!" It wasn't her nakedness that shocked me; she swung a pretty hefty dick between her thighs. Seeing Chloe as Greg wasn't anything new for me, but I'd never seen Greg completely naked.

"Khmer, what the fuck are you doing here?"

"I didn't know where else to go," I said.

"Caleb?" She asked.

I nodded. She reached out her hand, grabbed my wrist, and pulled me inside.  Closed the door. Locked it.

"Let this be a lesson to ya, girl," she said.

"And what's the lesson?" I asked.

She snatched a kimono from the love seat, wrapped it around her. "You can't fall in love with the cookie-cutter people. They'll break your heart every time. You can fuck them—make them pay you—but you can't love them."

"Caleb's not a cookie-cutter.” I raised opposition, but I wasn't really sure what she meant by 'cookie-cutter'.

She snickered. Lit a cigarette. "Honey, Caleb is king of the cookie-cutters. They all have store-bought lives, and they live the same one over and over. Sad really."

"You don't think it's possible to break out of that? I mean couldn't a cookie-cutter be something...different?" I asked.

"With what? There's no dough." She walked to the end table, stuck her fingers inside a coffee mug, and pulled out a plastic bag.  Tossed it on the coffee table.

"Dough?" I thought maybe she meant 'money'.

"I mean there's nothing to work with, Khmer. It's like this. If he makes the Bigs, this town will throw him a fucking parade. No joke. Marching band, fire trucks—everything. They'll load him up on a float with pretty women and carry him down the street."

"What fuck does that have to do with dough?"

"Hear me out. Fathers will take their sons out of school to watch him drive by. Veterans in uniform will salute him and pin the flag on his chest, because to them Caleb Cardova is a man."

I shook my head. "Still lost."

"No one takes their kids to watch a faggot ballplayer ride by with his flaming boyfriend."

My mouth gaped open, but there was nothing to say.

"There's not enough of a life left over for him to be someone else and you will always be collateral damage.”


Now you wanna snort this with me?”

I nodded.


She grabbed my hand and tugged me toward her bedroom. "I'll suck you off, but I don't fuck friends. Okay?"

We stepped into her bedroom, and she closed the door behind us.

Rising Up from Nothing

The three-fingered dawn poked between daisy-print curtains and nudged me.  My eyes opened on a beige ceiling and I had that moment: "when the fuck did I paint the ceiling?"

Tilting my head, my gaze fell upon a throbbing case of morning wood pointing toward heaven and a trace of cocaine below my belly-button.

"Chloe," I called, but she was gone or not home yet; I wasn't sure which was the case.

Vague memories swam in my mind like ghosts of an ancient civilization. Groggy and numb, whatever pain I experienced, seemed in the distant past. For a moment, I couldn't remember why my arm was in a cast or why the green seats of Maynard C. Helton Memorial Park hung so prominently in my thoughts.

I found my shorts, my shirt, and my sandals beside the bed. I was pretty sure that I had sucked Greg off, but that he hadn't fucked me. I slipped my hand between my legs, reach across my taint, and prodded my asshole with my middle and ring fingers. Tight and dry. Nothing had been in there for a while.

I couldn't find my underwear—maybe Chloe kept them for kink or payment. I slid into my shorts and enjoyed the freedom I felt. I climbed into my shirt and stuck my feet into my sandals.

I walked softly through Choe's apartment just in case she left a trick asleep on the couch. I let myself out the door into peace and quiet. At the bottom of the steps I found Mr. Jesus reeking of rum and passed out on his side. I stepped over him and walked out onto the sidewalk. Not a creature stirring anywhere.

I followed the road out of Terrace Heights past bread-boxes houses and boarded windows. At the bottom of the hill I staggered inside a Dunkin' Donuts. Coffee black. A jelly roll.

I stopped out front and glanced at the newspaper box. Caleb stared back at me, of course. His sad Charlie Brown self. After my fugue state and frying every synapse of my brain, the game seemed like it happened in another lifetime, but the headline reminded me of what I needed to know: CARDOVA STUMBLES.

"You're goddamned right; he stumbles." I gulped from my coffee and moseyed along the sidewalk.

It seemed like the walk home was all up hill. By the time, I reached the shopping center, sweat dripped from every pore of my body.

When I hit, the button for the cross-light in front of McKinley Avenue, a pang of guilt hit me. I thought about my mom and how I must have completely freaked her out by the way I ran out in the middle of the night. By then, the fog had lifted from my mind and I remembered why my arm was in a cast. I recalled how the bones sometimes throbbed, but I also recalled something that hurt so much worse than my arm. I remembered why my father's miserable piece-of-shit son was fucked out of his mind half the time and didn't know if he was coming or going. And it just fell on me, like grand piano, that if my dad was there, he'd be so ashamed of me he wouldn't be able to look at me.

The cross-light blinked and I jogged across the crosswalk. I stopped at the bottom of McKinley. Fished out my cell phone. Five missed calls. All Mom. I thought about calling her, but I didn't feel like talking. I hit Messenger.

mom, i'm fine. i'll be home in a few
thank God. u had me worried.
sorry... I know i'm an asshole
we can talk when i get home.
U at work?
where else?
c u this evening.
I love you

I stared at the phone for a moment and fought the urge to text Caleb. I had no idea what I'd say to him, but I didn't really want "Fuck you, Caleb" to my last words to him.

I remembered how he said he lost his phone, so I'd only be sending a message into dead space anyway.

I marched up the hill. My eyes fixed on the Sutter house. When I was a kid, an old woman lived there. She'd sit on her porch every day and shake her head at me as I zipped by on my bike. Whenever I saw her, I'd pedal as hard as I could. I knew that as soon as I passed her porch, my house would come into view and I'd could coast the rest of the way home.

When I neared the corner of the Sutter House, I thought about breaking into a sprint and seeing how fast I could run. Old habits die hard I guess. But I didn't. I just kept walking at a brisk pace. I reached the top of the grade and strode past the edge of the Sutter porch. Froze.

My eyes fell upon my house and a familiar yellow motorcycle parked in the driveway. He sat on the porch digging at his cleats with a stick.

"Ca..." I started to yell, but stopped myself. I wasn't sure why he was there. What he wanted. So, I forced myself to walk.

Steady even steps until I reached the edge of my driveway. I stopped. He raised his head. Smiled and a soft white glow spilled over the Earth."Gage!"

He leaped from the porch and sprang across the lawn. He grabbed me in his arms, hugged me, lifted me off the ground, and spun me all the way around.

"Caleb..." I patted his back. "What are you doing here?"

He squeezed me and set me down. "I was at practice this morning, Lobbing bricks left and right. And my mind wandered off."


"I had the most intense daydream. I dreamed that I was at the World Series. We were up by a run in the bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded, but they had two outs and two strikes. I throw him my fast-breaker. He swings. Misses. And that's it! We won the world series!"

I shook my head. "I don't get it. Why are you here?"

He raised his hand to my face. His fingers settled along my jawline as his thumb caressed my cheek. "After I snapped out of my daydream, I walked over to Coach, handed him the ball. Told him I quit."

I could hardly believe what he was saying. "Quit? You can't just fucking quit!"

"Yes, Gage, I can. Baseball isn't all I have, or at least I hope not. What I mean is...if playing baseball means I can't be with you, then I don't want to play it anymore."

I peeled his hand from my face. Stepped back from him. “I don't want you to give up baseball for me.”

Gage,” He grabbed my shoulders with both hands Pulled me into his arms. “I meant what I said back there on the trestle. You awakened this dragon inside of me and you're the only World Series that I need.”

Caleb.” I could barely speak.

I love you, Gage.”

I grabbed his face in my hands. Kissed him. Long and hard. “Does this mean we're boyfriends?”

He grinned and slid his hand across my thigh. He grabbed the head of my cock through my shorts. “Do you want us to be?”