W.A.R. Part Six - Commencement

(2nd edition)

Chapter Sixteen - Idle Hands

by Jeff Wilson

It always takes me a moment when I wake up in a bed besides my own to get my bearings. I found myself thoroughly tangled with Dustin, who continued to sleep peacefully. Sometime during the night, I'd turned around to face him. His arm was still draped over my body, but now he was using my arm as a pillow. Our legs were intertwined. There would be no way to pull myself away without waking him. And I didn't really want to either wake him or disengage myself from his body. Yeah, I know I shouldn't have been so turned on by his touch, but it felt so nice. If anything, I wanted more of his body touching mine, not less.

I inched myself closer to him, so that we were chest to chest and our faces were mere inches from each other. I gently put my free arm around him and drew even closer to him. I gently stroked his back and felt his chest expanding and contracting as he breathed. I leaned my head forward so that my forehead connected with his. I'd never been this close to him, feeling the heat of his body against my skin.

Dustin began to smile and I knew he was awakening. The arm that had been draped over my body began to tense up and pull me in tighter toward him. This was the moment I'd been waiting for. Suddenly, I pulled my arm out from under him and rolled over so that he was on his back and I was on top of him.

"One, two, three... I win!" I said softly.

Dustin laughed. "Congratulations," he said.

I pushed myself up onto my knees and straddled his hips. Both of us were raging hard in our shorts. It was only a few layers of fabric that separated our raging cocks from touching each other. His auburn hair was a mussed up and tangled mess. He had always been a handsome boy, his youthful features made him look a few years younger than his eighteen years. He could easily pass for fifteen. It would take a degree in advanced calculus to count his freckles, though I had certainly tried over the years. He was strong, but his body would never be able to build the kind of muscle he wanted.

While I had him flat on his back, I put both my hands on his chest. He'd been shaving it from the first signs that hair was trying to grow there, a problem I didn't have to worry too much about. His chest was firm, yet I could feel his ribs beneath the muscle. I gently ran my hands over his nipples, and watched the goosebumps rise on his skin. I slowly slipped my hands from his chest to the sides of his belly.

"Don't even think about it!" Dustin warned, too late to stop the tickling that was about to happen to him. We both laughed as I tortured him until he managed to buck me off of him and he stood up.

"You're gonna make me piss myself!" he laughed. His shorts were tenting obscenely. Eight inches is hard to hide when it's fully engaged. Dustin noticed my gaze. "Don't get too excited about this. I just have to take a piss, that's all."

"I do too," I said. "So hurry up!"

If it were Brett, I'd have just gone with him and peed together. But while Dustin and I were even closer than brothers, I didn't think that would be appropriate to stand there with our dicks exposed to each other. What I had already done that morning was dangerous enough, and that was just playing around. Dustin turned me on like no one else except Brett, and I knew that if I wasn't more careful around him I could easily go too far. Dustin left the room and I sat on the side of the bed. I pulled the blankets over my lap, trying to hide my obvious predicament. No, my dick wasn't just hard because I had to piss. I knew the short wrestling encounter I'd just shared with my best friend was as close as I could ever to get to him without falling to my carnal desire for him. Dustin's mere presence tempted me to do things that would have been exciting and fun in the moment, but would have ruined our relationship forever. We could never, ever allow our attraction for each other to lead to anything more than friendship. That was how it had to be.

Dustin's room was always so clean. It had to be when he was younger, or his father would have thrown out whatever had been left on the floor. On the wall was a plaque declaring him the high school league batting champion in 2002, one of the few freshmen to ever win the title. The trophy from his recently-won chess championship found a prominent place among his athletic accolades. There weren't a lot of posters or decorations around the room. He could have never gotten away with anything like that when his dad was around. Even the plaque displaying his excellence with a baseball bat had been hidden away until his father had left the picture. His father would have been enraged to see such a prominent display of Dustin's achievements.

Dustin returned to the room and I took my turn to use the bathroom. I did all my usual morning routines. I checked my sugar and brushed my teeth, combed my hair and washed my face. I'd need to give myself a little more base insulin since I'd spent the night without Navi. Diabetes had become more annoying than anything. Someday they'd figure out how to cure it, but would the supply companies really want to do that and lose all the billions of dollars they made selling us needles and test strips and finger prickers?

I came back to Dustin's room, and to my disappointment he had already dressed. He offered me his room while he went downstairs to get breakfast ready. I found my overnight bag and changed clothes, throwing my clothes from yesterday in the bag and bringing it with me downstairs. Dustin was in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal.

"Oh... Frosted Flakes probably aren't the most healthy thing for you to eat, huh?" he said.

"No. My endocrinologist chewed me out pretty good last time I saw him. Told me I had to watch my diet better."

"That sucks. I don't know what I'd do without my Frosted Flakes. They're gr-r-r-r-r-reat!" he said, doing his best Tony the Tiger impression. "You can look through the fridge and see if there's anything you like. There's not much though. Sorry. Even with just the two of us money's always tight around here."

Dustin noticed there was an envelope with his name on it on the table. "All right! A birthday card from grandma!" He opened it and found money inside. "Fifty bucks! Sweet!" He tossed the card aside without reading it.

"That was kind of rude. You didn't even read the card!"

"My grandma still thinks I'm eight. Look." Dustin handed me the card. It was definitely a child's card. "So, yeah, I did read it. It only took me half a second, that's all. She does send me the most money though. It's nice to finally be able to keep it instead of my dad taking it to buy beer."

"I don't even have grandparents anymore," I said. I'm down to my mom and her sister's family."

"Yeah. Hey, how's your cousin doing?"

"Which one? Brian or Jesse?"

"The older one, Jesse."

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, Em's going to need a new boyfriend and she's already kissed Jesse at that party we had at your house on Christmas Eve a few years ago."

"Jesse's already got a girlfriend, though," I laughed. "So you're really going to tell her, huh?"

"Why wouldn't I? She has a right to know. It's not like it's going to surprise her. She might be disappointed, but not shocked. I don't think anybody will be all that surprised."

"What about you? What are you going to do now?"

"I don't know. Don't see why I need to change anything. You think people will care which team I'm batting for? Maybe I'll just make myself available for a good time and see what happens. Heck, I'm already in the gay club! I can't see myself settling down with just one person like you and Brett though. At least not yet. I'm not really relationship material. I stand by what I said last night, love is a joke. I just want to get laid, that's all. Doing guys is what I do best. I'm probably not the best boyfriend material."

"What if you find the right guy? Doug Sanders seems like a nice guy."

"Or I could go for Aiden," Dustin suggested.

"Ugh! God no!"

"Why not. He's a cute little guy. He's got spunk. I'll bet I could make him squeal. He'd shoot that spunk all over himself."

"Stop!" I interrupted. "If you fuck that little dork I'll disown you."

We both laughed. "Now it's a challenge. You know, I never officially asked Em to be my girlfriend. Technically, I don't have to tell her shit. But I will. Last night was just what I needed, Billy. I really appreciate you being here with me."

"I'll always be here for you, Dusty. You never have to be alone. You'll always be my best friend."

Dustin smiled. "I'll remember that when you become someone important. Maybe you can bail me out of jail sometime when I need it!"

We played some board games the rest of the morning and then I took him out to lunch. I would have gone to Janet's Diner, but he insisted on Taco Bell, so that's where we went. I blame him for having to spend most of the evening in the bathroom. We did have a good time though.

I told Brett all about my sleepover with Dustin when I saw him on Sunday afternoon.

"Dude, he wasn't fooling anybody with that Emily fling. I knew he was gay years ago," Brett said. "I just hope she takes it okay. It might have just been a fling for Dustin, but she really liked him. I tried to tell her a long time ago that it would never work out between them."

"Yeah, I sort of always knew he was gay too. I guess he just had to admit it to himself. So did you finish your research on Buffa..."

"Shhhh!!" Brett silenced me before I could finish. "Not while my mom is here," he whispered. "And no, I'm not quite ready yet. When I am we'll talk."

"Okay," I whispered. "Are we aloud to talk normally again?"

"Yeah," Brett laughed. "Next Thursday I'll get re-examined and they'll probably give me a lighter cast that'll let me get out of the house and use crutches. After that, I'll tell you everything. Until then shut up."

"Okay. Are you ever going to shave again? You've got the mountain man look going right now. All you need is a flannel shirt and a pick axe."

"Maybe I'll keep it to annoy you. You should see my chest. Maybe I'll let that grow and do the gross chest hair sticking out of the top collar of my shirt thing."

"Oh God, please don't!" I begged.

"One thing I need to do is go on a diet and get moving after sitting on my ass for six weeks. I feel so fat right now. I guarantee I've gained twenty pounds. I'll bet I'm over a hundred ninety pounds when they weigh me. I'm finding that I jiggle a lot more than I used to. My ass doesn't quite fit in my shorts like it did before."

"I still think you're handsome," I said. "There's just more of you to love."

"Well, if I get too fat, I'll just squeeze my chest together and let you titty-fuck me."

"Oh that's sick, dude!" I laughed.

"It'd look like a hairy hot dog."

"You're going to make me barf," I said. Brett just laughed.

When I arrived at school the following Monday, Emily was the first person to meet me, even before I got out of Brett's car.

"Hey Em, how's..."


Emily punched me in the mouth so hard I saw stars. I almost lost my balance!

"What the fuck was that for?!?!" I asked.

"You are the worst excuse for a human being I've ever known in my whole life William Aaron Roberts!"

I checked my lip to see if I was bleeding. Fortunately, I didn't have braces anymore. I would have a bit of swelling though.

"What did I do?"

"You slept with my boyfriend, you pig!"

"No, I didn't! Did Dustin tell you I did?"

"He told me everything! How you couldn't wait to get me out of the house so you could have your way with him! How you hung out together in your underwear! How you convinced him to be gay! You have done some low-down, dirty things in your life, but this is the worst thing you've ever done! I'll never forgive you for turning Dustin gay! We were going to have kids and be a real family! But now he's gay because of you!"

"No! You're making no sense. I didn't turn anybody gay!"

Just then, Dustin appeared. He was carrying a box in his hands.

"Here you go, Billy. Here's that toaster you earned for turning me gay."

"WHAT?!?! I didn't turn you... I... Why are you guys laughing?"

"Is it too late to tell you April Fool's?" Emily asked. "We just wanted to mess with you. Dustin told me about your conversation. It's okay! We had a really good talk. Deep down, I always knew Dustin wasn't meant for me. Now I know why."

"Yeah, if anything, I think we're even closer now than we were before," Dustin explained. "We just wanted to tease you a little bit."

"Jesus, did you have to hit me so hard for a joke?" I asked.

"Well, you'll eventually do something that makes me want to hit you," Em said.

I went through the morning with a swelled-up lip. Dustin just laughed at me when he looked at me. I didn't think it was very funny. I just got beat up by a girl. Joey had quietly returned to school after his ten-day vacation. He looked like he'd lost about ten pounds while he was gone. He barely acknowledged anyone and mostly kept to himself. I tried to talk to him, but he said he had things he needed to do and fled from me.

Dustin laughed when he sat down next to me for lunch.

"I'm glad you find my pain amusing," I said.

"Oh, dude, that was hilarious. You really thought Em was mad at you."

"She played the part well," I replied. "I don't know why you two have to be such jokers."

"I was born on April Fool's Day. Joking is part of my DNA."

Emily sat down beside Dustin and they shared yet another laugh.

"So what's the deal with you two now?" I asked.

"It's amazing what the truth can do to a relationship," Em replied. "I'm sorry I hit you so hard, by the way. I didn't mean to bust your lip. You're taller than I realized."

"That's probably about as good of an apology as I'm going to get from you, so I accept it. I'm just surprised you're taking it so well."

"Billy, I've known you two for my whole life. And I've known Brett so long it seems like forever. I just want you three to be happy. No one will be happier than me when Dustin finds the right person to fall in love with. Dustin told me everything about the park and his father. I wish I'd have known back when it happened. Everything makes so much sense now. I think we're closer now than we were when we were trying to make something work that had no chance. Now we can just concentrate on being best friends."

"Yeah, we're still going to go to the prom together," Dustin added.

"Must be nice to be able to go to a school event with someone you love and not get punished by the school board for it."

"If you really loved Brett you wouldn't let anything stand in your way, even if it costs you everything," Em said.

"Easy for you to say," I replied.

On Thusday, Brett went back to the hospital to get his leg evaluated. I wasn't surprised to get a phone call inviting me over when he got back home. When I walked into Brett's house, I was surprised to hear piano music coming from the living room where Brett had been confined for the past month. I walked into the room to find Brett sitting at the piano working through some music. I hated to interrupt him because I enjoyed just listening to him play. After a few minutes of playing, he hit a sour note and stopped.

"Fuck!" he said, slamming his hands on the keys.

"That wasn't bad for being the first time you've played in over a month," I said, letting him know I was there.

Brett spun around on the piano bench and smiled when he saw me. The huge plaster cast that had been on his leg was gone, replaced with a new red fiberglass cast that allowed his knee to move. He had a metal brace on his knee, and a set of crutches was laying on the floor next to him.

"This is the new model, out just in time for spring!" Brett told me. "It'll let me bend my knee when I'm able to do that again in a few weeks. And I get to sleep in my own bed tonight! Oh! Notice anything else?" he asked, rubbing his chin.

"You shaved," I observed.

"Yes, I took a real, honest to god shower at the hospital before they put the cast on! A nurse had to help me and stuff, but it felt great! It was honestly the best shower in my life! I'll have this one for next eight weeks, even longer than other one, which sucks but at least I'll be able to walk again. If they could have put a rod in my leg it would have been a lot faster recovery time. This cast is a lot lighter. After this one I'll get a walking boot and lose the crutches, and I'll have to do therapy and stuff all summer. But I can take a crap on my own fucking toilet again! And stand up to pee! If we could just install an elevator here it'd be perfect. I have to go up and down the stairs on my ass."

"What's up with the brace?"

"Well, I totally dislocated my ankle and my knee in the crash. No surprise since I pulled the bones out of joint. I'll probably need the brace for anything sports-like for the rest of my life. I really did a number on the knee. I guess everyone was all so concerned about the bone sticking out of my leg that the knee was kind of secondary. But it'll be the thing that takes the longest to heal. It's really stiff right now. It'll take a month just to be able to put weight on it. Oh! I'll have to show you the gnarly scar on my leg where the bone poked through when I get the cast off! It's pretty wicked!"

"Cool," I said, though I was glad he couldn't show me the scar at the moment. I could still see the accident scene in my mind. It didn't want to give myself any reason to bring back those terrible memories.

"Yeah, I'd be able to go back to school tomorrow, but mom's going to let me wait until Monday so I can get used to the crutches. Don't worry about picking me up because mom's going to take me the first day so she can talk to the principal about making sure I'm caught up. Obviously I won't be able to drive until summer, so I guess you get to keep using the car until then. Maybe we'll go out and get you something to drive around after that."

"That'd be cool," I said. "It was nice to hear you playing piano again."

"Yeah, it felt good. Everything feels good right now."

"So you want me to start taking your stuff back up to your room?"

"Not yet. I want to show you something," Brett said. He scooped up his crutches and I helped him to his feet. He told me it would take some time before he could get up and down easily again. He sat down on the couch and fired up the internet on his computer. There was that map of Buffalo again. Brett clicked on a tab and a new window opened.

"Foster and Bryant?" I said. Brett had opened the website of a law firm from Buffalo, New York. "You looking for legal help?"

"No, A few weeks ago I got tired of looking at porn, so I started digging around the internet. I googled my mom just for fun. There's a bunch of stuff out there about her, book reviews, awards she's won, freaks who claim she helped them... And then I found a picture from her college days." Brett clicked another tab and brought up a picture from NYU. It was a group of award winners from the year 1986. It wasn't difficult to find Brett's mom sitting in the front row. I scanned the picture and found someone who looked just like Brett standing in the back row, almost as if Brett had jumped in a time machine and gone back to 1986. There, sure enough was Jack McKenzie. But Brett didn't point to him, he pointed to the young man sitting right next to Brett's mom. "Check out the name."

"Charlie Bryant," I said.

"That's him, Billy. That's the guy my mom was talking about. That was mom's boyfriend. Look at the law firm again." Brett clicked on the law firm's page again and clicked on the "About Us" tab. A bio of Charles Bryant, Esq. appeared.

I read the biography aloud, "Graduated from NYU, magna cum laude, December 1986... 1986?"

"I was reading it as magnum cum loudly," Brett joked. "That's what I want on my bio. Anyway, it's just like mom said. This guy has to be mom's ex-boyfriend."

I read a little more of the bio, "Married, three kids... He's running for New York State Assembly. So now that you found this guy, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to meet him," Brett said. "And you're going to help me."

"Me? How am I going to help you?"

"Okay, so I called this guy's office and asked for an appointment. I told them I wanted to sue the manufacturer of the dirt bike because of my broken leg. They don't even know I'm not from New York. So I've got an appointment to meet with him next Friday afternoon on the fifteenth. That was the earliest the secretary could get me in. I told them I only wanted to talk to Mr. Bryant, and that my mom was a friend of his in college."

"That doesn't explain what you want from me," I said.

"Dude, I can't drive to Buffalo like this. My leg's not healed yet. But you could drive me."

"You want me to drive you to Buffalo to meet some guy who you think is your father? That's like a six-hour drive!"

"It's only four and a half or so. We can take I-79 up to Erie and then I-90 up to Buffalo. It's practically a straight shot."

"Friday is also a school day."

"Oh come on, Billy! Missing one day of school isn't going to kill you. This is more important than school! This may be my one chance to meet this guy. If he gets elected to the State House, I'll never get a meeting with him. I have to meet him, Billy. I have to know the truth."

"Brett... I mean, what if he's not even the right guy?"

"You think maybe mom's boyfriend is one of the other Charlies who graduated from NYU law school in December of 1986? Right? Except there were no other people named Charles who graduated from NYU law school that year. I checked. This has to be him. I will find a way to get there with you or without you, Billy. If I have to drive myself up there I will."

"No, I don't want you to do that. Jeez, it's such a long drive. It'll take all day to get there and back again, and that's not including the time it'll take to talk to him. We won't get home till after dark probably. Even though we're eighteen I'm sure our moms wouldn't want us going on an eight-hour car ride."

"Oh, I'm not telling my mom shit," Brett said. "She's the reason I'm going on this stupid trip in the first place. If she hadn't lied to me in the first place I wouldn't have to do it. You can just tell your mom that you're staying over here after school and then staying overnight. That's the other part of this that makes it work. My mom has a conference in Orlando that weekend and she's going to be out of town. Billy, I don't ask you for a lot. This is important to me. I need you to come with me."

"Okay then," I said. "If it's that important to you, then I'll go."

"Awesome, Billy! I knew I could count on you. I'm finally going to get some answers."

"Yeah..." I replied. I felt like such a dick. I knew Brett was going on a wild goose chase, but I couldn't tell him. My lies had consumed me, and I didn't know how to get out of the web without destroying my relationship with Brett forever. I was beginning to understand why Dr. Reilly and Jack had kept things secret for so long. I couldn't see any way this trip couldn't end badly.

I went home that night feeling so terrible. I knew that things would be forever changed once Brett met with Mr. Bryant. I thought maybe at first I could avoid Brett's wrath by pretending that the news Charlie was sure to bring was a surprise to me just as it would be a surprise to Brett. `Oh no!' I'd say. `I had no idea either, Brett!' Of course, I probably didn't have the acting capabilities to pull it off, and it would mean that I was still lying to Brett, the very thing I'd been preaching to Dr. Reilly would become my life. I'd already fallen too far to the dark side. I was becoming everything I hated. I hated looking in the mirror almost as much as I did on the night I broke my hand.

"Why so miserable?" mom asked as I sat on the couch lost in my thoughts.

"Do I look miserable?" I asked.

"You look like you lost your best friend," she said.

"You're not far off," I replied. "At least you won't be soon enough."

"Oh? What's going on?"

"Nothing you'd care about. I just have made a big mess of my life and I don't know how to fix it."

"What did you do?"

"Are you sure you want to know?" I asked.

"Try me," mom said. She sat on the couch next to me.

"Okay. Why not? It might help to get it out. I... Okay... I know who Brett's father is," I explained. "It's Jack McKenzie."

Mom just sat there stunned. "I was not expecting you to say that! So what does Brett think about this?"

"He doesn't know," I replied. "And I've known for a long time and I haven't told him."

"How long?" mom asked.

"Since before dad died."

Mom continued to just sit there, processing what I'd told her. Finally she spoke, "My God, you really are just like your father!"

"What in the world are you talking about?"

"Billy, your father was the stubbornest man I knew until you came along. There are things about his life I still don't know about, and I was married to him for twenty years. He let secrets eat him up, and no matter how much I asked him he would never open up about things. It was part of his abusive childhood. He had horrible trust issues. I still find money he hid around the house he didn't want me to know about because he won it playing cards. We're not talking about a few dollars here and there either. We're talking hundreds of dollars, and I'm sure there's more I haven't found yet. He didn't think I knew about the card games, but I always did. He felt like he had to hide it because he was embarrassed about how he earned it. Why don't you just tell the poor boy what you suspect? You might find out he already knows."

"It's complicated. When he finds out I've known for so long and not told him, he's going to hate me."

"You know, every time I find another hundred dollar bill stuffed in a gun barrel or a couple hundred hidden under something in the garage, I always think about the times when we would fight over not having enough money. I think about when he was sick and we barely had enough to get by at the same time you grew a foot taller and we had to replace all of your clothes every month. And yes, I get mad at him because we really could have used that money then. You could have worn something nicer than the bargain bin at Goodwill. But then the anger subsides, and I give thanks that your father is still taking care of us in his own way. I can't guarantee you anything, Billy. Brett may very well hate you for the rest of your life for lying to him for so long. You could hardly blame him for being angry with you. But if you give him time, I think he'll see that you weren't trying to hurt him deliberately and that you had your reasons for being a stubborn jackass. You just need to take the first step and tell that poor boy the truth. Hasn't he been through enough?"

"Yeah, I know. I just don't want him to hate me. I feel so stupid."

"Well, I have good news, you're not stupid. What you did was stupid, but that doesn't make you stupid. It makes you human. Congratulations, you're not perfect."

"Wow... I never thought I could ever have this kind of conversation with you. You're alright, mom."

"That's the nicest thing you've said to me in two years," mom replied. "So tell me more about Jack..."

Thanks for reading

Next time: Road Trip