SUMMARY: At a time of national turmoil, the lives of four boys become connected as each struggles to accept his sexuality and to address the challenges he faces in life. To the extent the boys succeed in coming to grips with those challenges, it may be in ways that prove surprising or troubling. This story is also being published on my blog and you can find a longer synopsis there. While some events, locations and features in the story have been moved forward or back in time for dramatic and other purposes, it takes place during an era when prejudice against homosexuals is rampant and the gay revolution in America is still in its infancy. Italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

WARNING: Sex is not the primary focus of this story. If you're looking for erotic content, you'll do much better with other stories on Nifty. While sexual content is secondary and incidental, the story does include some scenes that depict sex and violence, sometimes graphically depending upon the characters and circumstances involved. For that reason, the story is intended for mature audiences only. If you do not wish to read such material or it is illegal for you to do so, please look elsewhere. The story remains the property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author, but you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not use any of the characters, bars or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon this story in any way.

AUTHOR NOTES: This is my first effort at writing a story. As a general rule, I only plan to publish one chapter a week, usually on Thursdays. The latest chapter will always be posted on my blog before being published here. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be ignored. If you would like to let me know what you think, feel free to contact me at Thanks for reading the story. I hope you enjoy it.

THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 21, Josh discovers his mother has taken the car into town so he is unable to drive Tommy back to the bus stop. Upset about that, Tommy eventually accepts Josh's invitation to stay for dinner. Later, in his room, Josh encourages Tommy to take off his clothes so he can wash them for him. Suspicious, Tommy misinterprets the suggestion as an invitation to have sex. Josh is finally able to clear up the misunderstanding and persuade Tommy to trust him, but only with some difficulty. Josh puts Tommy's clothes, which surprisingly include a pair of pink panties, into the washing machine. When Josh's Mom returns home, the two boys have dinner with her. After helping her clean up, they go back to Josh's room where they share some surprising secrets. Josh outs himself to Tommy while Tommy tells Josh he is having sex with Coach Johnson as a way of avoiding spending time at home with his parents. Much later in the evening, Josh drives Tommy home. Discouraged by what he has learned, Josh decides to try to help Tommy even though the younger boy has not asked for his help.


Part II - Innocence Abused

Chapter 22

When I got home that evening, I couldn’t get what Tommy had told me out of my mind. I knew I needed a plan and that it had to be one Tommy would agree with. I remember tossing and turning most of the night trying to come up with one, but it was hard trying to figure out exactly how I could help.

By the time morning arrived I was exhausted. Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed and get to school early that day. I waited near my locker, hoping Tommy would come along. By then I had already decided to invite him back to my house that evening. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was the best I could do right then and it would keep Tommy away from the people who were abusing him.

Tommy never did show up, however, and by the time the bell rang for first period I was worried. I wasn’t sure what to do at that point, but decided to skip my first class. I was hoping he would eventually show up. When he finally did, no one else was around and I could tell he was surprised to see me there waiting for him.

“Why are you here, Josh?” he asked. “I thought you had English class now.”

“Do you want to come over to my place tonight, Tommy?” I asked, ignoring his question.

“My Mom is cool with having you come over again and you can stay at our place from now on if you need a place to hang out in the evening. It isn’t a problem at all. I mean, you could even sleep there if you wanted to. Or I could drive you home just like I did last night if you prefer. But you would be safe at our place with me and my Mom, Tommy.”

Tommy just stood there momentarily staring at me. It was hard to know what he was thinking.

“I can’t do that, Josh,” he finally said, shaking his head. “But thanks for the invitation. And be sure to thank your Mom again for supper last evening. It was really good.”

“Why?” I asked, upset he was rejecting my offer. “Why can’t you come to our house?”

“Because your Mom will start getting suspicious if I’m there every night for one thing,” he replied. “You know that as well as me, Josh.”

“Plus she’ll want to feed me and I’ll end up sending the two of you to the poorhouse with the way I eat, for another,” he added, smiling at me. “Like I said, I really appreciate the offer, Josh. If it means anything, you’re the closest thing to a best friend I have. But, the thing is, I’m just trying to get to May. When May rolls around, I’m out of this place for good. I’m going somewhere else and starting a new life for myself.”

“Where?” I asked, surprised by what he had just told me.

“I’m not really sure,” Tommy replied. “I haven’t got it all finalized right now. Albany. Maybe Boston or New York. Or even the West Coast if I can pull that off. I don’t think they ever have winter in California. I hear it’s warm all the time out there. At least that’s what someone told me. But it’s pretty far away so any place will do. I just want to go somewhere else where I can get away from my parents and Coach Johnson and all the rest of the people in this little hellhole of a town.”

“That’s crazy, Tommy,” I said. “How are you going to survive, especially without a high school diploma? You’re not old enough to get a job that pays the kind of money you would need to survive.”

“You should be thinking about going to college,” I added, “not about running away from home.”

Tommy just laughed, staring at me in disbelief.

“You’re kidding, right?” he asked. “Me? College? There’s no way I could ever go to college, Josh. My folks don’t have the money to pay for college and that would be the last thing they spend it on even if they did. They would sooner buy a fifth of Jack Daniels than spend a dime on me. College? That’s pretty funny, Josh.”

“There are scholarships, Tommy,” I told him. “I’m in the same boat as you. My Mom can’t afford to send me to college. But I just got into Williams College and they’re going to pay all the expenses for me to go there.”

“Yeah, I heard about that, Josh, and I’m happy for you,” Tommy replied. “Congratulations. But, the thing is, you’re smart, Josh,” he added, “unlike me. My grades are just average. And you’re a good athlete too. I heard you got some kind of athletic scholarship. But I’m not all that good at sports.”

“There has to be some way,” I said, frustrated. “You deserve a lot more than the shit you’re going through right now. I mean, it’s bad enough the way the kids treat you at school. Add the way your parents and Coach are treating you and I can’t even believe how anyone could handle all of that. It sucks.”

“I’m okay, Josh,” he replied, nonchalantly, as if it wasn’t that big a deal. “In fact, it’s kind of nice knowing someone actually cares. My parents don’t. Coach sure doesn’t. But I’m beginning to believe you do. I don’t know why.”

“You must want my ass really bad,” he added, grinning at me and giving his butt a little shake.

It caught me by surprise and I had to admit he was right about one thing. He definitely had a cute ass.

“Even if I did and I don’t, I’m already spoken for,” I responded, blushing. “It wouldn’t be right. So even if you were right, I can’t have it, can I?”

“Maybe you can and maybe you can’t,” Tommy said, shrugging his shoulders. “I wouldn’t tell that friend of yours if you did.”

“But you better watch out,” Tommy added, his grin growing even wider. “You might be putting your own ass at risk, Josh,” he added, reaching over and patting my rump. But, unlike the rest of the guys, he let his hand linger momentarily before turning around abruptly and walking away.

It sent a chill up my spine and I just stood there staring at him as he disappeared into the distance.

Was that it, I wondered? Was I really just after Tommy’s ass? Was that why I was suddenly being so nice to him?

I mean, the thing is, I had never really paid any attention at all to Tommy until that morning the previous Fall when Jimmy had told me about the rumors going around the school. It was only after that I had taken an interest in him.

And what I had ever done to help Tommy after all? Had I stuck out my neck to defend him against all of the gossip and lies that were making the rounds? Had I defied my classmates by hanging around with him when he really could have used a friend?

No, the truth was that I had never really done anything to help Tommy, at least when he could have used help the most.

Oh, yeah, sure, I had gotten it on with Wayne in the locker room that one morning back then. I hadn’t backed down from his challenge. But that was about me, after all, wasn’t it, my reputation, my social standing at school? It wasn’t as if I was going to fight Wayne because he was torturing Tommy.

No, it was only when Wayne got in my face that I took a stand, to protect myself, not Tommy.

So why all the sudden concern? Why was I making it my business now?

Was Tommy right about me?

And what did he mean when he said that I might be putting my own ass at risk?

I tried to persuade myself it wasn’t true. I loved Nolan, not Tommy. Nolan was better looking than Tommy. I mean, yeah, sure, Tommy was cute, but nothing like Nolan. And what if I was wrong about that after all? What if Tommy was cuter maybe? Nolan was definitely smarter and a lot more sophisticated than Tommy, that was for sure. Nolan was someone I looked up to and admired. I wanted to be like Nolan, not Tommy. The two of us were going to be roommates in college next fall.

And yet there was something about Tommy and my sudden concern for him that wasn’t entirely innocent. Deep down inside, I knew that. There was some sexual attraction I had to admit, maybe even more than I wanted to admit.

But why should that change anything I wondered? I was never going to have sex with Tommy. I knew that for certain. And the truth is Tommy needed help now more than ever. He was in way over his head and didn’t even know he was about to drown if someone didn’t help him.

No one else was going to help him, that was for sure. I was the only one who knew what was happening and might be able to help. But it sure didn’t look like it would be easy to help Tommy right about then. He didn’t seem to want any help at all, let alone mine.

Later, after school, I remember hiding out in the woods near the bus stop and just watching. Sure enough, a car came by around 5:30 and I could see Coach Johnson inside. Tommy opened the door and got into the car. Then the car made a u-turn and the two of them sped off down the road.

After supper that evening I asked Mom whether I could call Nolan on our phone. I think she must have known I was upset about something. I hardly ever asked to do that. Whatever she was thinking, she said yes without even asking me why. And she even gave me some space to talk to Nolan in private.

“Hello,” the voice on the other end of the telephone said. “Can I help you?”

“It’s me, Mam,” I said, “Josh. Is Nolan there and could I speak to him if he is?”

“Nolan, it’s Josh,” his Mom called out.

He got to the phone in a flash.

“Josh,” he said. “What a terrific surprise. But why are you calling me?”

“Um, I need to talk to you about something, Nolan,” I replied. “Right now. Could you call me back on your cell?”

“Sure thing,” Nolan said, hanging up, then calling me back immediately.

“What’s up?” he asked when I picked up the phone.

I took a deep breath and then told him the whole story from beginning to end. Except for the part about being a little attracted to Tommy.

“What do you think I should do?” I asked, once I had finished.

“That coach of yours is a real monster,” Nolan said. “He needs to be stopped. You’re just going to have to persuade Tommy to turn him in to the Sheriff.”

“How?” I asked. “I’ve already told him that and he says he won't do it.

“Well, what do you think is stopping him from doing it?” Nolan replied.”

“Two things mainly,” I responded. “First, he doesn’t think anyone will believe him, that it'll just be his word against Coach’s. Plus he’s also concerned about his parents. His father has a violent temper. If he finds out, he’s going to beat Tommy bloody, then toss him out of the house, if he doesn’t kill him first. At least that’s what Tommy thinks. Those are the main things, I think.”

“Well, I can understand why he would be worried,” Nolan replied. “Ordinarily, it would just be his word against the Coach’s. But we could provide the backup Tommy needs. We know what happened last summer. We have the recording. You’ve seen Coach picking Tommy up in his car. So it wouldn’t just be Tommy’s word.”

“The problem is, this could be bad for you and for me too, I suppose,” Nolan continued. “First off, we would have to tell the whole story to our parents. That would be hard for both of us, I suppose, but especially for me. I don’t think my parents will be happy at all if I tell them I’m gay.”

“And the other thing is, it might affect your chances of going to college. I’m not sure.”

“How?” I asked, suddenly concerned about what I was hearing.

“Think about it, Josh,” Nolan replied. “That asshole coach of yours gave Williams a really strong recommendation. If he gets arrested and they find out about it, they might have second thoughts and decide to toss his recommendation out. I’m not sure how that would affect the scholarship you got.”

I had to admit that put a whole new light on the situation. I didn’t really want to jeopardize my chances of going to college and I vaguely recall reading something in one of the documents Williams had sent me about my scholarship being contingent on staying out of trouble.

But I also didn’t want Tommy to keep being abused either and to me that was more important.

“What about his parents, Nolan?” I asked. “How do I persuade him that, deep down, they really do love him after all and will do the right thing if he goes to the Sheriff?”

“I don’t think you can do that, Josh,” Nolan responded. “First off, it sounds like his parents are almost as bad as that coach of yours, maybe even worse. If he does turn the coach in, I would bet he gets put into a foster home or perhaps even some kind of juvenile facility. I don’t see the authorities letting him stay with his parents if everything he says is true. And that’s probably not something he’s going to be very happy about either unless he has a pretty good idea of where he’s going to end up and agrees with whatever they have planned for him.”

It was right about then the idea came to me.

“Let me ask you something, Nolan,” I said. “Suppose I could persuade Tommy to go to the Sheriff and turn Coach in. And suppose they took him away from his parents. Do you think there’s any chance they would let him come here to live with my Mom and me?”

“I dunno,” Nolan replied. “Do you think your Mom would be open to that?”

“Maybe,” I replied. “I mean, the thing is, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. I’m going to be leaving for college this fall with you and my Mom will be left here on the farm all alone by herself. She could sure use some help around the place with chores and such what with me gone and all.”

“Yeah, that makes sense,” Nolan replied. “And, the thing is, I bet the state would pay your Mom something for taking Tommy in.”

“Really?” I said, surprised. “The government would do that?”

“Absolutely,” Nolan replied. “I don’t know how much they would pay her, but they would have to pay her something because she would be saving them a ton of money by taking him in.”

“This is really a terrible situation, Josh,” Nolan continued. “There aren’t a lot of good options for someone like Tommy. But, the thing is, I wonder if you talked to your Mom about it whether she could help more than me. That would be taking a big step, of course. You would probably have to come out to her. I know she would be fine with that. But is it something you think you’re ready to do right now?”

To be honest, I didn’t know the answer to that question. There was a part of me that wanted to tell her because it felt so bad having to keep all of it locked up inside of me. But there was another part that didn’t want to tell, afraid at how disappointed she might be with me.

The two of us talked some more that evening, exchanging and refining ideas about how I should handle things in the coming days. Eventually I hung up and went to bed, still trying to figure out exactly what I should do next but with a much better plan than when I had first called Nolan that evening

There really was a chance I could help Tommy now and I wasn’t about to abandon him when he needed help more than he had ever needed it before.

The following day I went back to bus stop and slipped into the woods, waiting for Tommy to show up. It was pretty late when he arrived and sat down on the bench, almost 5:30. Once he did, I emerged from where I was hiding and went right up to him.

“What are you doing here, Josh?” he asked.

“You need to get out of here quick,” he added, glancing down the street. “Coach will be coming along any time now.”

“Fine,” I said. “Let him. I’m going to tell him he needs to leave you alone or I’m going to the Sheriff.”

“What are you doing, Josh,” Tommy said, his voice suddenly becoming more agitated. “You need to leave right now or I’ll be in all kinds of trouble. I can’t handle any more trouble. My bottom hurts so much from the spanking he gave me yesterday I can barely sit down.”

“Go away, Josh,” he said, and I could see his eyes pleading with me to leave.

“No,” I said. “I’m not leaving here, at least not by myself. The only way I’ll go away is if you come back to my house with me. I’ve been thinking about things a lot and I think I know how to solve your problems.”

By now Tommy was frantic, looking down the road, expecting to see Coach’s car showing up at any minute. The pleading was gone. Now I could see fear in his eyes.

“Okay,” he said. “Whatever you say, Josh. I’ll go with you. But let’s get out of here quick.”

With that the two of us walked on to the trail that led to my house. But Tommy stopped about one hundred feet down the trail once we were in the woods.

“I just said I would go because I don’t want him seeing you here, Josh. He’ll be mad. But I can’t go with you. I just can’t, Josh. Please leave me alone and let me take care of this my own way.”

“No,” I said. “We need to talk about this at least once more. Like I told you, I have a plan that will make everything right. If you come back to my house and talk, I’ll listen to what you have to say. I promise I will. But you have to listen to what I say, too. That’s a fair deal, Tommy. All I am asking you to do is to listen.”

Tommy just stood there staring at me. I could tell he wasn’t sure what to do. But right then the car came by and the decision was made for him. Coach slowed down his car. But when he didn’t see Tommy he quickly made a u-turn and sped away. The whole thing was over in a matter of moments and there was nothing Tommy could do about it.

“Oh damn, now I’m going to get spanked again,” Tommy said, clearly dejected. “I don’t think I can take another whipping like he gave me yesterday. I really don’t.”

“So come on, then,” I said. “Let’s go back to my house.”

“Okay,” Tommy reluctantly agreed. “But this is the last time, Josh. We can talk once more and then you need to leave me alone if you can’t convince me about this plan of yours. You have to promise me that. Promise?”

“I promise, Tommy,” I replied; and with that the two of us headed off to my house.

When we got there, I told my Mom that Tommy would be staying for supper and then the two of us went up to my room. I knew everything I wanted to say, but I also knew I had to lay it out in a logical way that would address each of Tommy’s fears as they arose. So I started with the need for him to turn in the coach and we talked about that for a long time, going back and forth.

At one point I thought that I had him just about convinced he should turn Coach Johnson in. But then he started to balk again.

“There’s something I haven’t told you, Josh,” Tommy said.

“What?” I asked.

“It’s bad, Josh, really bad. The thing is, well, Coach has a lot of videos of the two of us having sex. I didn’t know he was making them, but he finally told me and now he makes me watch them while we’re having sex. And he keeps saying he’ll make sure the other kids see them as well if I say anything. They’re pretty graphic, Josh, pretty embarrassing.”

I didn’t think things could get any worse, but it seemed like they had. I thought about it for a couple of moments and then decided to put the best face I could on it.

“Maybe that’s actually a good thing, Tommy,” I finally said. “Because what it means is that it isn’t just your word against the Coach’s word. If the Sheriff gets hold of those videos, there might not be any trial at all because it would be an open and shut case. If that happened, you wouldn’t have to testify. And those videos would never see the light of day. So, like I said, the videos may be a good thing.”

“I dunno,” Tommy replied. “I mean, the thing is, I agree with you Coach needs to go to jail. I don’t want him messing with any other kid the way he’s been messing with me. And, yeah, sure, maybe everything wouldn’t come out at school. But there’s no way they could ever keep all of this from my parents; and like I said, my father will kill me when he finds out what I’m doing with this guy. He hates faggots and he’s really going to hate it if he thinks his son is one.”

“They’re never going to let him hurt you, Tommy,” I said. “In fact, they may take you away from your parents for your own safety.”

“And what would they do with me if they did that, Josh?” he asked. “Put me in jail?”

“I don’t know exactly,” I replied, choosing my words carefully because I really didn't know for sure what would happen. “You might end up in some kind of youth facility for a little while. But I’m pretty sure they would try to find someone to adopt you. Do you know what adoption means?”

“Yeah, sure, of course I know,” Tommy replied. “Look, I know I’m not as smart as you, Josh, but it's not like I’m a total idiot. I know what adoption means and I”m smart enough to know that that it’ll be a cold day in hell before anyone steps forward to adopt some 14 year old faggot boy like me. And that means I’ll end up in some kind of state run facility for the next four years of my life, maybe even seven.”

“And you know what? That just doesn’t appeal to me at all,” he added. “I’m used to being on my own. I mean, look, I know my parents are nasty, but they pretty much leave me alone these days if I stay away from home most of the time and don’t get in their way when I’m there. It’s been that way for a long time and that’s the way I like it. To me that’s just another reason for not turning in Coach.”

“So, the way I see things,” he continued, “you haven’t convinced me, Josh.”

“Can I ask you something?” I said. “If you knew for certain you were going to be adopted by some nice people you already knew and liked, would that make a difference?”

“Maybe,” Tommy said, looking at me strangely. “If I knew anyone like that, it might. But, like they say, Josh, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

I remember being surprised when he said that. It wasn’t something you heard very often, just an old nursery rhyme my Mom use to recite when I was a little kid.

If wishes were horses

Beggars would ride:

If turnips were watches

I would wear one by my side.

And if ifs and ans were pots and pans,

The tinker would never work!

“Ok, then,” I said. “Let me work on that part of it some more, Tommy,” I replied. “I have some ideas about that and maybe I can come up with a real solution to that part of it if you just give me a little time.”

It was around 10:30 when I drove him back to his house.

“Are you going to leave me alone tomorrow, Josh?” Tommy asked, looking across the front seat into my eyes. “Because, you know, I’ll have to tell Coach to meet me somewhere else if you don’t.”

“I don’t want to leave you alone, Tommy. It’s wrong. But I said I would. So I’ll keep my promise, at least for tomorrow.”

“You have to keep it forever, Josh,” Tommy said.

“We’ll see,” I replied. “It seems to me the only thing stopping you from telling the Sheriff is because you don’t want to end up in some juvenile facility. And I don’t want that to happen to you either. I think there’s a solution to that, but I just need a little more time to check it out. Can you give me a little more time, Tommy?”

“Sure,” Tommy responded, looking over at me again. “Take all the time you need, Josh. I’ve got all the time in the world.”