Chapter 12A The Golden Thread - Thursday July 20, 1995

Written by Charles Well <> and Sarge AKA Aldric <>

(C) 2018)

The original Kids of Indian Spring (KOIS) story by Jonas Henley can be found here: and if you wish to read Jonas Henley's account of the 1968 Mackey Choosing Ceremony, look here:

Also see map.pdf and Springer Families.pdf in the Sandy Jacobs folder on Nifty. There is also an extensive family tree of the Mackey family available as well.

This story is about sex between boys and is therefore a total fantasy. It was written by an adult for the entertainment of other adults. No children or animals were either involved or harmed in the writing of this story. Please leave now if you are not supposed to be here.

Writing the continuing saga of the Kids of Indian Spring has become a real community effort. My co-author on this chapter was Sarge AKA Aldric. His ideas, drafting, hard work, and constant support in too many areas to mention made this chapter possible.

Please consider a donation to Nifty for allowing us to have this resource to share our stories. To donate go here:

Comments or suggestions may be directed to either of the authors mentioned above. We welcome feedback from readers. It's the only payment we receive for many hours of hard work.

1833, Southern Ohio

It hadn't been a bad year for Donal. Better than most of his young life. Born to Irish parents, he'd never really had a childhood. Liam, his father, was a drunkard. His mother, Cara O'Shaunessy, believed in magic. Yet none of her magic could keep her husband from beating their only child. He left home eleven years ago, when he was just 12, and had never looked back.

There wasn't much for him in Virginia, where he'd been born, and he made his way north, getting by, by working when he could and stealing when he couldn't. He worked far more often than he stole. When he was fifteen, he joined up with militia that were pursuing a band of Mohawk heading from New York into the territories. He managed to survive a massacre when the band of Indians had set a very good trap, and out of the 38 men and 4 boys in the unit, he was one of 12 men and 3 boys who got away.

But he now had a musket, and tracking skills, and took off to the west, learning to hunt, fish, and snare along the way. He worked with a group of French men for a summer, picking up enough of their language to converse with them a bit when they chose to not speak English. They also spoke a language they called Cayuga, from one of the Iroquois Nation tribes, and he learned a bit of that too.

He didn't drink or gamble or pick up women in towns. Instead, he carefully guarded his money, not spending it unless he needed to, and keeping others from knowing that he had any. He dressed in clothing he made himself, and never looked like anyone who had much of anything.

He'd heard that the government had opened land across the Ohio River for purchase, and he hunted and trapped his way in that direction. Two days after crossing the river, near a point called Devil's Backbone, he came across the first Indians he'd seen since the day of the massacre.

It was a woman, or teen more likely. She had one child, a boy of about 5 with her. He approached her slowly, warily, as he'd seen plenty of tracks in the area. She was lying in the shade of a tree along a spring-fed stream.

He called out to her in English, and then in French, and finally in the Mingo language spoken by the Cayuga and Seneca tribes. She responded in a dialect that was close enough to the Mingo he knew that he could understand her.

The boy backed off as he approached, and he ignored him. She had dark olive skin and green eyes. Her hair was straight and black, and was tied behind her head. She had beads around her neck, wore leggings made of deer hide. Her torso was uncovered, and he could see she'd been hit below her left shoulder by a musket ball.

Between Mingo and French, they were able to converse. She told him she'd been unable to keep up with her people, but her warrior, the boy's father, would come back for her after the battle.

Donal lifted her slightly and looked at her back. Not a musket ball, it had come from one of the new rifles, and it had gone through her, leaving a much bigger hole in her back, lower down. She had either been shot by a man on a horse or while she was kneeling on the ground. The wound on her back was already showing signs of infection.

He built a small fire and boiled water from the stream and cleaned her wounds the best he could. He used old towels to bind them, and then heated some rabbit he'd snared earlier that day.

She called the boy over, and ordered him to sit and eat, and she took some of the broth and one or two pieces of the rabbit.

He decided he would stay until her warrior returned. He got blankets from his pack and the boy curled up with her under them as the sun set. She said the boy's name was Otetiani and her warrior's name was Nootau.

"He is Algonquian, named for roux. My name is Orenda, it is because I have magic power."

Donal knew enough French to know that roux meant red-haired, a very unusual trait for the natives. But the Algonquian tribe was from the North East, where many red-headed English and Irish lived, and he was probably a part-breed.

By the second day it was clear she was dying. Even she knew it, and would not eat.

"Why waste the food" she said to him. "You are a good person. You attempted to heal, not to hurt. What will happen to my son?"

"Where is Nootau, his father?"

"He will come. The warriors went to the west. I will wait here for him to return."

"I will care for Otetiani until he does," Donal said to her. "Tell me what I must teach him."

She lasted two more days, and when she died, he built the scaffold for her body and lit a small fire under it, as was the Iroquois custom. The fire was to burn for 10 days. On the second day, three warriors came. None of them had red hair. Donal didn't resist when they took his musket and knife. They inspected the body, and smoked tobacco, which they offered to Donal. He didn't smoke but knew it was a respectful thing, so he joined in.

They talked to the boy in a language Donal didn't speak, but it was obvious they were asking about him.

They told him her man had gotten separated from them, but would return. They would stay until the ceremony was done, and thanked him for taking care of Otetiani and Orenda. His belongings were returned, and he was asked politely to leave, which he did after saying goodbye to Otetiani.

A month later he met a man named James Mackey who was trying to pay off a debt he incurred from buying a large section of land from the Ohio Company. He looked at the survey map and chose a section of land east of the stream and just north of where he'd left the Iroquois woman.

Three years later, with a small farm and a cabin in place, he married a strong-willed woman named Helen O'Keefe, and together they had three wonderful children. He returned every fall to the spot where he had left the Iroquois woman, and wondered if her warrior had ever returned to her.

8:00 am, The Tucker Residence Thursday July 20, 1995 - Witch's cabin

Malcolm and Kelley had finally set today as the day they would join Seth and go to the witch's cabin as Grandma Corbin had instructed. Kelley was just finishing breakfast and was about to leave when Ashton came into the kitchen. Without even looking at anyone, the small boy said, "Check the fireplace," and then got the plate their mom had ready for him.

"I guess I'd better check," Kelley said as his mom shrugged her shoulders. Ashton was long known for saying things before they happened, and members of the family just accepted it.

But after a thorough search in and around the fireplace, Kelley could find nothing unusual. It was past time for him to leave, so he told his mom he was going to spend some time with Malcolm (but not where that time would be spent) and hurried out.

His knock didn't get an answer, and Kelley had learned that it was customary and okay to just enter the house. Mr. McEwen was on the couch, snoring loudly, and Kelley went to Malcolm's bedroom. It was the first time he had ever been there.

The room was rather spartan. There were no posters or paintings on the walls, and Kelley remembered being told that Mr. McEwen didn't appreciate his son's painting. The room had a bed, an old dresser with one drawer missing, and nothing else. He went to the bed and gently nudged Malcolm.

"Hey," Malcolm said as he woke. He rubbed his eyes and sat up. "Is it time to go?"

"Yeah, I'm even a little late. You okay?"

"I, uh, my dick, shit," Malcolm said. He pulled back the covers and Kelley could see a large wet spot on the front of the briefs Malcom had on. "I guess I had a wet dream like a fucking little kid." He was clearly embarrassed by it.

"I have them too. Go take a shower, I'll wait outside."

"You can wait here, I don't mind." Malcolm got up and removed the soiled briefs and left them on the floor. He walked naked to the living room and checked on his dad before going to the bathroom. Five minutes later he reappeared, wet from a quick shower, and opened one of the drawers on his dresser.

Kelley saw that he had very little in the drawer. Two pairs of nearly clean briefs and a couple of pairs of socks. Malcolm put them on and dressed in the clothes that he had worn the day before. Kelley was about to ask what happened to the weeks' worth of clothes he had given his friend, but guessed that maybe he was too embarrassed to wear them. He decided to save that conversation for later.

"Are you going to get anything to eat?" Kelley asked as Malcolm was tying his shoes.

"There isn't much here until my dad gets to the store. I'll be fine."

Kelley did his best to hide his reaction to Malcolm's private life. It was obvious the kid did his own laundry and perhaps his dad's too, and it was probably also him who somehow managed to buy food.

"My mom would tan my backside if I let you head out without something to eat. We'll go back to my house. She won't mind."

"It's okay, we're already late. Seth, uh, he understands how things are."

Kelley took that to mean that either Seth or his dad would have something for him.

When they arrived Mr. Mackey wouldn't let them out until he ensured that Malcolm had a complete and nutritious breakfast, and provided the same to Kelley without even asking why he was there. Tuck ate again so that Malcolm wouldn't feel as bad.

"What are you boys up to this morning?"

"Just the usual dad," Seth said. "Mostly just me and Malcolm forcing Tucker over a log and fucking him a few dozen times at least."

Kelley choked and had to cough to clear it, but Seth, his father, and Malcolm all laughed.

"I don't think your new friend is well versed in our typical morning banter," Mr. Mackey said.

"Oh, by the way dad, I was at Grandma Corbin's recently, and she told me to remind you that you haven't visited her for a while."

"You need to be careful up there," his dad said, this time with a serious voice. "Things aren't like normal. But thanks for passing that on, it has been too long. I'll make a point of paying her a visit in a few days."

An hour later, they were deep into the woods north of where Tucker lived.

"I don't know how the Koch boys are going to react to you," Seth said to Kelley. "Probably not good. Try and be cool. We're headed to Andy Koch's house. You know them?" he asked Kelley, who shook his head.

"There's three boys, Arthur, Austin, and Adan. If I can convince them to help, we'd be better off with Arthur. He's 15, same as his cousin Adam, but not as stupid. All the Koch boys are tough pieces of shit and fight dirty, so don't start anything. But they respect people who respect them."

Ten minutes later they could smell wood smoke, and Kelley could see a clearing ahead. He'd never met anyone named Koch, so he guessed that like many of the very deep Mackey they didn't go to school.

As they broke out of the shaded woods and into the sunshine, Kelley was surprised at how hot the morning had already become. Two kids were wrestling shirtless in the backyard of a large cabin.

"Hey," Seth said to make sure they didn't sneak up on the boys. "Got a job for Arthur if he's home."

"He ain't. He and Andy took off to work the, uh, anyway, they ain't here. Why is he here?" the bigger one asked, pointing at Kelley.

"He's Malcolm's friend," Seth said. The boys had gotten up and walked up to them.

"He might be Malcolm's friend, but to me he's an asshole," the larger of the two said.

In less time than it took to blink, Kelley was right in front of him, holding both of the kid's wrists.

"My name is Kelley Tucker. You can call me Tuck, or Tucker, or even Kelley, but if you call me asshole again we're going to have problems."

Austin Koch was thirteen, tall and strong. He had long black hair that hung down to just above his eyes. He hadn't even seen the other kid move, and no matter how hard he pulled, he couldn't move his arms an inch. All he could think was, "Holy shit, I don't want to fuck with this kid."

"Sorry, Tucker" Austin said and his wrists were immediately released.

Adan Koch, Austin's eleven-year-old brother was awestruck. He knew that Austin could almost beat Arthur in a fair fight, and this kid had moved so fast you didn't even see it. And his middle brother was backing down without a fight. "Awesome," was his only thought.

Seth was shaking his head in disbelief. He'd heard stories about Tucker, and he'd been warned never to screw with him, but now he'd seen it for himself. He would never have believed it if he hadn't seen it. He recovered, happy for the moment that there wasn't going to be a fight.

"Kelley, this is Austin and Adan Koch," he said. "Adan with a `n' on the end so he don't get confused with his cousin Adam.

"Nice to meet you both," Kelley said calmly, as if nothing had just happened. "Do you know about some cabin that once was used by a witch?"

Their reaction showed that both of the Koch brothers knew exactly what he was talking about, but Austin answered the question.

"Sorry, sounds like some old Springer tale told to keep your kind away from here."

"He's a Mackey now," Seth said. "Malcolm too. You were at the Choosing Ceremony, so you both know that. He doesn't want to cause any trouble and you don't need to be rude."

Austin took a step back, just in case the kid was going to attack him for showing disrespect. "We're not supposed to go near there," he said. Kelley sensed the truth in his answer.

"Why not?"

"Because of spells, and traps," Adan said. "The witch lived there long ago, but the ways she kept people away might still be in place."

"Long ago, when boys used to dare each other to go there. They'd end up waking up somewhere else in the woods with no idea of what happened or for sure where they were," Austin said. "And usually without any money or stuff they had with them."

"Well, I need to go there," Kelley said. The two brothers looked at each other.

"Grandma Corbin told us to go, and to use Koch brothers to get us there," Seth added. "If Arthur and Adam are working the still, then it'll have to be you two."

Kelley sensed that the boys were troubled by the fact that Seth had said there was a still nearby.

"I'm not interested in how your family makes money. There's lots of ways, and none of them are any of my business. I just want someone to escort us to the witch's cabin."

"Alex knows the way better than me," Austin said. "He's one of my uncle Adam's boys. He's fourteen, and real tough. Not that he needs to be tough. I'll make sure he understands."

"Go get him if you think he'll help," Kelley said. "Maybe Adan can get us started and you can catch up with us."

"Adan ain't going," Austin said, much to his younger brother's displeasure.

"I don't want him even close to there. I'll get Alex and be back in a few minutes."

As soon as his brother was gone, Adan said, "I'm not afraid of any old witch. I'll take you if you want to go now."

"Thanks," Kelley said. "But I don't want to cause trouble, and going with you would do that. I tell my little brother a lot of stuff that he can't do and he doesn't like it either. But sometimes he listens, and other times he wishes he had."

It wasn't long before Austin returned with his cousin, and when they did the first thing Alex did was charge at Kelley. He made a feint to punch him in the face when his real attack was to kick the boy's legs out from under him, but he was totally surprised when the boy ignored the fake punch and instead jumped over his leg sweep.

"This is a dangerous game, one I'd rather not play," Kelley said. "I'm Kelley Tucker, or Tuck. You must be Alex." He held out his hand.

Alex had to try one more time. The kid couldn't be that good. He held out his hand to shake but instead ducked his head to drive it into the boy's chest. Only the boy was no longer there, and Alex ended up on the ground.

"Are you done with this shit?" Seth asked, sounding exasperated. "Can we just get on with where we need to go?"

Sheepishly, Alex got up. "Yeah, I guess. I'm Alex." He held out his hand, wondering how the kid knew the first handshake was just to fool him. This time he was sincere, and Kelley shook it without squeezing.

"This way," Alex said. Arthur gave one more warning for Adan to remain behind, and then he and the other three boys fell into a line behind Alex.

It took the better part of an hour to get there. By that time, even in the dense woods it was unbearably hot and humid, and Alex took off his shirt. Kelley could see the teen was solid muscle and knew that if he ever did take a punch from him he wouldn't be able to get back up.

Alex stopped. "We're close, but I haven't been there for years. I think it's this way." He started off several degrees to the right but after a few minutes said, "I guess not. Let's try over there." It took two more attempts before they found the cabin.

It was small, and covered in vines. It was apparent that nobody had been there in a long time.

"Uh, here we are," Alex said. "I don't know about going inside. It might not be safe."

Kelley could sense the other boy's fear of the place, but he couldn't understand why. The cabin was in what was once a clearing but now had new growth trees filling it in. There was nothing hostile about the little shack or the land surrounding it.

"Malcolm and I need to go in. If you've been told to stay away, I understand. We'll be okay." He didn't want to make the other boys feel that they weren't brave enough to go in. As he started towards the door, a reluctant Malcolm was slow to follow.

The door was stuck, and there was no handle on the outside. "Maybe we'll have to use a window," Kelley said, but Alex stepped forward.

"Man, you may be good at school and stuff like that, but up here you don't know crap." He stepped up to the door and found the remains of what had once been a thin rope. Gently he pulled, not wanting to break what remained. Once he'd pulled it a foot or so down, the door opened.

"It's how cabins used to be secured. When you were inside, you pulled the rope in and nobody could open the door. When you went out, you stuck the rope through the hole so you could get back inside."

Kelley entered, and saw the rope, or what remained of it, was tied to a hand-cut block of wood that fit inside two brackets mounted to the door. When the door was shut, the block would rest on the brackets, holding it tightly closed.

Dust and rodent droppings covered all the horizontal surfaces. The remains of plants and herbs sat in dried-out pots everywhere inside.

"What are you guys looking for?" Arthur asked.

"I don't know," Malcolm said as he started picking up pots and looking behind them.

"Then where should we look?" Alex asked.

That question stirred something in Kelley's brain. "The fireplace," he said, and moved towards it. He was joined by the others and looked on the mantle, inside the fireplace, and around the floor, but found nothing. Kelley started tapping on the stones that separated the hearth from the floor as the others did the same higher up. But none of them were loose or hollow. Kelley was perplexed. Ashton was never wrong. But there was nothing in, on, or around the fireplace.

"Boost me up," Seth said.

Kelley put his hands out and bent low and Seth put one foot in them and lifted himself up to the mantle and began brushing off the dust, making Tucker sneeze and almost dropping him.

"There's something written here," he said. He rubbed it a bit more. "It says, uh, `It was the epok of belief'. What the hell does that mean?"

"Epoch," Malcolm said. "Not epok." He paused a second before reciting, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

Everyone stood back and looked at him.

"It's from a book my mom used to read to me, before she left."

"She read that when you were, what, 4 years old? And you still remember it?" Kelley was stunned that Malcolm could quote that. It was a side of Malcolm, like his ability to draw, that he had never for a moment suspected.

"She left me the book. I read it from time to time. Mostly in the winter when it's wet and cold outside.

"Malcolm can read?" came a small voice from the doorway. They all turned to see Adan Koch standing there.

"I'm going to kick your butt," Austin said. "I told you to stay at home."

"What does it mean?" Tuck asked before Austin could carry out his threat.

"I guess that everything exists in doubles," Malcolm said. "Good and evil, light and darkness, hope and despair."

"I still don't get it," Alex said. "Why carve a bit of that into the mantle?" Are belief and incredulity really opposites? I can believe in incredible things. Like that a witch lived here."

Kelley, who was good with words and their meanings, was about to argue, but something caught his eye. A little glimmer of light, hidden in a dark shadow in the corner. Light and dark. Opposites, yet pairs. He went to the corner.

"Malcolm, I know you have a lighter, you always do," he said. "Bring it here."

Malcolm came over and knelt down next to him and flicked the wheel on the lighter. Then he saw it. A bit of golden color, just barely sticking above a crack in the floor board where it met the wall.

"Here, use this," he said, handing his knife to Kelley.

"When did you start carrying a knife?" Kelley asked as he used it to try and pry up whatever it was that they could see.

"When I decided that my life sucked and I made the decision to become an asshole that everyone would hate. I guess I don't need it anymore now. I almost pulled it that day you were going to smear my face onto the pile of dog shit but I was too scared of you. You can keep it, I don't need it anymore."

The coin popped up and rolled an inch through the dust before falling over, making a loud clunk as it hit the floor, betraying its weight.

Amid the oohs and ahhs from the other boys, Kelley picked it up. He spit on it and then wiped it on his shirt.

"It says it's worth 20 dollars," he said. "It has a picture of some old lady on the front and has the year 1873 on the bottom."

"Don't tell anyone you found that," Alex said. His voice was soft, but his words carried weight.


"Just don't. Trust me. Don't show it to anyone. Get rid of it. It's evil." Alex turned to his cousins. "We're done here. You guys don't ever tell anyone what you saw. Not your brother, and not your pa, nobody. No one, got it?"

Austin and Adan knew enough about Mackey traditions to know never to mention this now that Alex had told them not to. They didn't question his wisdom or knowledge; they just agreed not to and meant it.

Alex wouldn't say another word about it, other than to tell Kelley, "You found it. It's yours. Letting anyone know you have that would break the record for being stupid. Be very careful what you do with it, and my advice is to get rid of it as soon as you can. Throwing it into a lake is probably the smartest thing you could do." He turned to the other boys. "Unless you guys think you can find your own way back, come on. I'm leaving."

9:00 am, The Jacobs House - Thursday July 20, 1995

Sandy had just returned home from his sleep-over at Sheldon's house. He had achieved some of the things he wanted. He got to know the 17-year-old a lot more and the older kid went out of his way to make him feel comfortable. They had spent several hours on the computer typing up the old Mackey rules and bylaws, and now Sandy felt he had a pretty good idea how to use the word processing program they had used. They had also discussed Sandy's ambitions to get a seat on the Council. Sheldon was enthusiastic about the idea and promised to help in any way he could. He had also mentioned that Raymond had him and Kelley Tucker marked as potential future leaders. Apparently, the two older teens had already discussed it and there was a general policy of encouraging some engagement of the younger guys in Mackey affairs. At the mention of Kelley's name, Sandy asked him about the information Sheldon had on his friend.

"Like your family, my parents are big supporters of Old Uncle Elijah's water park development. Our families stand to make a pile of money if it goes ahead. But Mr. Tucker opposes the idea and so Elijah thought it would be good to have something to hold over Hal Tucker if we needed it. What could be better than to make his son a Mackey bottom? But neither I nor Uncle Elijah figured on Tanner Mackey."

"Kelley said you told the council about stuff he'd done with other guys," Sandy said tentatively. He had to be careful. Sheldon seemed to have tried to divert the question. He might need support from him some day and didn't want to piss him off.

The older boy was quiet for a few seconds. "Some kid, I'm not saying who, had some friends in Coolspring and told me he'd heard about a number of non-Mackey guys that Kelley had sex with. I told the Council about it because I was worried that word might get around. But Raymond ordered it to be fixed and so Hiram, Darrell and I have spent the last few days going around Coolspring and Sweetwater warning kids off from ever mentioning anything they know about Kelley Tucker. There were a lot of them." Sheldon giggled nervously.

Sandy decided to accept that, at least for now. He intuitively knew there was much more to the story than he had been told so far, but he would tell Kelley what the 17-year-old had said.

He also thought about mentioning the meetings he and Kelley had with Matty's Dad, but decided to let Raymond take care of that.

However, Sandy did tell Sheldon about the problems he had with Michael Corbin and the conference call with their father on the night of the Choosing Ceremony.

"Interesting!" Sheldon stated. "Raymond told me that Mr. Jack Corbin wants to talk to him, but wouldn't say what it was about. Raymond assumes it has something to do with Chris being made a bottom."

"Well according to my Dad, Mr. Corbin wants you to make Michael a bottom immediately for what he did to his brother, and Harry too the following year."

"That's also very interesting!" was all the 17-year-old said pensively. He agreed to accompany Sandy the next time he went to Chris's house.

"When are you thinking of going?" Sheldon asked.

"Well, it will have to be before the five-day recovery period ends. That's today. So, I reckon, this afternoon?"

"Fine," Sheldon responded. "We'll go in my car. I'll pick you up at your place at 3:15 PM sharp."

After the discussion was completed, Sandy got fucked twice by Sheldon. The first time the older boy had been gentle, but he was a lot rougher when they did it a second time in the middle of the night. However, he did get to fuck Sheldon, three times, at the older boy's insistence. Overall, Sandy thought his sleep-over at the Junior Council member's house was worth it.

The dirty blond went upstairs to the room he shared with Brad and found the 12-year-old on his bed playing on his Gameboy.

"Howdy bro," said the younger boy without looking up. "How did it go at Sheldon's?"

"Fine," Sandy replied with little enthusiasm. He started piling the dirty clothes from his over-night ruck-sack into the washing hamper in the corner.

Brad would normally have pressed for more details, but he strongly suspected what had happened to his brother at the so-called "sleep-over." His friend Sean Mackey had let Brad know, in no uncertain terms, why he had emerged from the Choosing Ceremony with so little wear and tear. And although Sean had always been safe himself from any chance of ending the day as a Mackey bottom because of help from his older brothers Kevin and Jason, he had not fared as well from the checkmark penalties as Brad.

"Are Stevie and Chass still fighting?" Sandy asked when the ruck-sack was empty and everything had been put away.

"No, not really," answered Brad. "I think they've signed a truce or something since Chass had to do that stuff at Tolley's joint. Besides, Stevie had Ethan over last night and I'm guessing they were both far too busy to worry about some little kid."

Sandy smiled. He would check on his two younger brothers a little later.

"Bro?" Brad asked tentatively, looking up from his Gameboy for the first time. "Sean and me have been talking and, like, other stuff... You reckon it would be okay if I, I mean we, did some stuff with Cal, or Judge, or maybe Chris? You know, now that the5-day recovery period ends today? Do you think it would be okay? I mean it'd be really weird and all I go to school with those guys. Well not Judge, but Sean says he's gonna change schools. Still, it'd be weird. But you did it with Kevin and Tanner and they're in your grade. Was that weird for you? And now Kevin's doing it to..." The younger boy never finished the sentence.

Sandy looked over at his brother. "Well Brad, I'm sure it'd be okay if you did. You and Sean have both been through a Choosing and now have full Mackey rights. So why not? It might seem real gay at first, but I reckon you'll enjoy it if you give it a try. I did! Just remember, don't abuse or over-use the bottoms. They're guys with feelings just like you. But that's what they're there for. So go ahead. You don't need my permission."

10:00 am, Eli Corbin's House

Raymond hadn't slept well after the phone call he'd gotten from Sandy. It was dangerous ground, and he'd tossed and turned as his mind wrestled with the problem. Several ideas had come to him, but none of them were especially good ones. The problem was, no matter how despicable Eli had been, he hadn't broken a rule by bringing Matty to the Choosing Ceremony.

But something had to be done, so he made his way to Eli's house to discuss it with him.

"I don't have to worry about anything because I didn't do anything wrong," was Eli's first reaction when Raymond told him his uncle was angry and taking it out on the Mackey.

"You do need to worry," Raymond said, keeping his voice calm. "He is considering notifying the police that you raped his son."

"That's bullshit. It's Mackey tradition, and he knows that. Besides, Sheldon gave me permission to fuck him."

"You could have chosen any boy there, but you chose Matty," Raymond said. "And now, all of us are facing trouble because of it. If he goes to the police, how do you think they will react to the defense of `it is Mackey tradition'?"

"He wouldn't do that," Eli said. "He knows the rules. Every Mackey would be aligned against him instead of fighting each other as they are doing now."

"I have it on very good authority that he will do it. Think! He moved nearly to the city just to be free of Mackey tradition. And you went and brought his son all the way back here, and then fucked the boy. Do you think he's going to forget about that?"

"Shit," Eli said. "I'm thirteen, just a year older than Matty. How much trouble do you think I'd be in?"

"You're missing the bigger picture," Raymond said. "If he does, every Mackey would face the same embarrassing questions. Hundreds of people, including your father, could end up in trouble with the law. And to answer your question, I think you'd end up in Juvie somewhere, and labeled a sex offender when you got released. Is that what you want to be known as for the rest of your life?"

"I guess I need a lawyer then."

"You still don't get it. Nobody outside of the Spring knows about our traditions. The only lawyer you can reasonably hope would help you would be Hal Tucker. And, I suspect, even he wouldn't want to defend you."

"Then what do I do?"

"I think you need to visit your uncle and reach a deal. I'll go with you if you want. You aren't going to get away without some penance, but at least you won't end up in a Juvie Hall somewhere getting fucked by other inmates, the same way you fucked Matty."

1:00 pm, The Jacobs house

Kelley and Malcolm split when they reached the cross road that led to Malcolm's place and Tuck decided to stop and see Sandy as he passed his friend's house.

"How were things up north?" Sandy asked.

Kelley told him about the witch's cabin and the fear the Koch boys had of it. Then he remembered what was in his pocket. "What do you make of this?" He pulled the coin out and handed it to his buddy.

"Wow, this is heavy," Sandy said. "I think it's real gold. It's got a date on it." He wiped it off and looked again. "1873. That's old. Where did you get it?"

"It was in a tiny crack in the floor, I almost didn't see it. And it scared the shit out of Alex Koch. He told me to throw it away. And to never show it to anyone or let anyone know I have it."

Sandy stopped walking. "Just a sec," he said, trying to pull out an old memory. "There was a story I heard once. I'm trying to remember it. Some lady named Tabitha stole a bunch of gold coins from Elijah Mackey years ago. Then she killed herself. Left behind a kid or something."

Now it was Kelley's turn to try and think. "I think I remember hearing someone talk about it once. Maybe my parents. It happened in the old Anderson house years ago. I would have been a little kid when it happened."

"Why would it be called the `old Anderson house' if a Mackey was living in it?"

"I don't know. But in a few days, it's going to be called the Upshaw house. My dad helped to clear the title to it so the Upshaw's can buy it."

"Naw, you must have it wrong. Stephen Upshaw already lives here. His house is near the De La Cruz house."

"No, different Upshaw's. Stephen's got two cousins, Glen and Brent. His uncle and aunt are buying the old Anderson house. They're supposed to start cleaning it up in a few days."

"Anyway," Sandy said, "If this coin was part of the gold that was stolen from Elijah Mackey and he found out you had it, he'd skin you alive to get it back. That's probably what scared Koch. He knew what it was and who it belonged to. There isn't much that would scare a Koch."

"Maybe I should just give it to him," Kelley said. "It isn't really mine."

"You found it, that's good enough for me. But don't you dare let Elijah know you have it. He'd think you have the rest. He's pretty vengeful about it. And I'm serious about the risk if other people know about it. Who else does?"

"Alex, Austin, and Adan Koch. And Seth Mackey. Oh, and Malcolm."

"I'd still be really careful who you show that coin to," Sandy said.

"Yeah, right-on," Kelley replied. "So how did you go at Sheldon's?"

Sandy filled in his friend about what he had learned at the sleep-over and the telephone call he had with Raymond about the Eli-Matty Corbin screw-up.

Kelley didn't comment on the news that Sheldon, Darrell and Hiram had been warning kids off about mentioning his past indiscretions and Sandy knew enough not to probe more deeply.

"I guess we just wait until Raymond has a chance to speak with Eli or until they call a Council meeting," Sandy concluded, not mentioning anything else.

3:15 pm, Outside the Jacobs house

Sandy Jacobs was ready and waiting that afternoon when Sheldon pulled up to the house in his beaten-up old Dodge pickup. The dirty blond joined the seventeen-year-old in the car and then they were off towards the small town of Bartlett, a few miles away, on official Mackey Council business. They were going to see Chris Corbin, one of the 4 new community bottoms selected at the Choosing Ceremony last Saturday. Sandy was looking forward to seeing the expression on Chris's older brother's face when he turned up today with Sheldon Redd in tow. He was pretty sure he wouldn't be black-mailed or shown the door this time. Officially, the five-day recovery period for the new bottoms would end at midnight and no one had actually spoken to Chris as yet about his duties. Sheldon knew the first couple of weeks was usually quite busy for new bottoms. Every boy in town wants to try out the new butts. So he was happy to help Sandy sort this out.

The drive to Bartlett took less than 15-minutes in the car. Before they went inside Sheldon told Sandy he was really excited about having Chris as one of the selectees.

"This kid could be one of the best bottoms we ever had. He has a body that's near perfect and he's tough as nails. I think he's gonna be great."

Sandy just smiled at this, but said nothing. He had known Chris and the Corbin family his entire life. He used to live in this little town until a few months ago after all. Chris was generally a good kid, but like the other Corbins, he could be a pain in the ass at times. And Sandy also felt he now had a pretty good understanding of Sheldon. The older boy was definitely gay, although he never admitted it. But not just gay. Sheldon liked younger boys, but he had very particular tastes. He liked Sandy and they had already had sex and would no doubt do it again. And he knew he liked Seth and Chris, but clearly he wasn't turned on by the likes of Joey or Gabriel Mackey. Sandy already knew which boys were Sheldon's type. They all had well-proportioned, solid, sportsman's bodies, flat stomachs, and the first signs of upper body development. Sandy had this from swimming, although he hadn't done much of it over the summer so far, Chris had his body from all the gymnastics he did, and Seth from long hours of farm work. Another trait all these guys shared was an olive complexion, curly or wavy hair and prominent gluteus maximus muscles. Yes, Sandy was in little doubt that Sheldon lusted over firm round boy asses. Not that he was objecting, if it got him what he wanted.

Chris answered the door a few minutes after they knocked and glared at them in silence. "Well, aren't you going to ask us in?" joked Sheldon happily. "Whadda you want?" demanded Chris.

"Well we just came to check on you and make sure you're ready for your new role that starts tomorrow. And we brought you some stuff. Can we come in and talk?

Chris stepped back and gestured them in. Sheldon was a little surprised at their reception.

As they sat down in the living room Michael, Chris's older brother, stuck his head in and glanced at the group. "Everything OK Chris?"

"Yeah, they just wanna talk." Michael retreated. Sandy wanted to stick his tongue out at the kid, but decided it was below the dignity of a 13-year-old, and he just sat there quietly.

Sheldon went into the speech he had used with the new bottoms in prior years.

"Chris you know who I am and I want you to know that I'm your representative, your protector and I hope we'll become friends as well. I know how you're feeling right now. I was a bottom too when I was your age. You're a little scared, a little nervous and maybe even a little angry. But, it's time to forgive and forget. You need to put those feelings behind you and move on....."

"You gotta be kidding me, right?" Chris interrupted. Sheldon looked a little shocked.

"After what you did to me, you wanna be friends? That's never gonna happen!"

"Chris, I didn't do a thing to you. I didn't even vote. If anyone did anything to you it's the boys who signed your back," said Sheldon defensively.

"Oh, don't worry, I've got those names memorized. But how many of them signed because of you telling them what a great ass I had while you were feeling me up? Huh! How many did you encourage to vote for me?"

Sheldon was stunned as he thought about it. But then Chris continued.

"Have you ever had a dream? Well I did. Ever since I was 7, I wanted to be a gymnast in the Olympics. I worked really hard at it too. I practiced every day. I competed on State level and my coaches all said I could make the Olympic team if I kept working. But that's all gone now. You ruined my life. If I have to spend my time bending over to let fag boys do dirty stuff to me, there'll be no time for practice. You ripped my dream away from me."

"They are not fag boys," said Sheldon defensively trying to get control of the conversation. "They are your Mackey brothers."

"Brothers! HA! I saw them at the Choosing. They laughed and cheered as their friends, cousins and even brothers were being humiliated and hurt. They're no brothers of mine. They made me ashamed of being a Mackey." Sheldon's mind was racing but he could think of no response.

But Chris was far from done. "You think I might be a little angry? Well you're wrong. I'm not angry. I'm full of hate and I will hate you for the rest of my life."

Sandy and Sheldon sat in stunned silence until the 17-year-old got up and said, "You finish here. I'll wait in the car," and he left. Sandy had never heard a kid talk like this before and he'd never seen Sheldon looking so confused and devastated.

The dirty-blond stared directly at Chris and said, "You OK?"

Chris thought a moment and said, "Yeah, it felt good saying what I really think."

"You were pretty rough on him. He didn't invent the Choosings you know."

"I know that, but he ran this one."

"So how come you don't hate me?" Sandy asked. "I was there too."

"Well you didn't tell people to vote for me. You were there cause your little brother was there. You voted to protect him. And I heard you almost started a fight sticking up for him. Wish I had brothers like you. Mine sold me out."

Michael, who had come to the doorway when the shouting started, heard what Chris said and hung his head. For the first time he felt real remorse for voting for his brother. Not because his father was punishing him for it, but because of what it did to Chris.

Sandy really felt sorry for the new Mackey bottom, but he had to finish up the business, so he quickly and halfheartedly ran through the rules and expectations. When he got up to leave, he asked if it would be okay to drop back next week and see how it was going. Chris said he'd like that, and they bumped fists. Then Sandy went out to the car to check on Sheldon.

The older boy was sitting in the driver's seat holding his hands behind his head and staring out the window.

"I can't believe a 12-year-old talked to me like that and I had no answers. Did I really do that much damage to the kid? He said the Choosing made him ashamed to be a Mackey. But it should have made him proud to be an important part of the community. What the hell went wrong?"

"Don't take this so personal. You didn't know about his Olympic dream. How could you?"

"I should have," Sheldon said softly. "I thought I knew all the boys. I thought I did all the homework. You know? Fully prepared. Maybe if I had looked a little closer I wouldn't have a kid that's going to hate me for the rest of his life." Sheldon started the car and they headed off in silence.

When they were half-way back to Indian Spring, Sandy said,

"Don't know about you, but I skipped lunch today. You know that burger joint in Coolspring? Let's go there and get something to eat?"

Sandy understood that he was associating himself with Sheldon for the help he might receive in achieving his goal of getting power on the Mackey Youth Council. But still, he knew the meaning of the word "empathy" and he recognized the older boy was hurting over the reaction he got from Chris Corbin. "Never abandon your friends when they're hurting," his old great, granddad Sam had told him. And he suddenly recognized, for the first time, that Sheldon might actually be a friend, as well as a political ally. "So best if he's not alone just now," Sandy thought to himself.

It took a large order of fries, a thick-shake, and a burger-with-the-lot before Sheldon managed to shake off the more obvious signs of brooding. But still, it was clear the 17-year-old was deeply troubled by Chris and his anger. As they talked, Sheldon brought up the fact that Chris said he had memorized the names of those who voted for him.

"It gave me a chill when he said that. I just don't know what he might be thinking" Sheldon said. "We've got to keep a close eye on him." Then he added, "I hate to do this, but I'd like you to take him under your wing like you're doing with the Brewer kid. It's plain to see that I can't do it right now. Maybe when he cools off a bit, we can patch things up, but right now I'd like you to handle it"

Sandy was troubled by this. Chris was a stick of dynamite just waiting to explode. But the young teen thought, if he truly wanted to get political clout and power, he had to make himself valuable. This was an opportunity to do that. So he agreed. Reluctantly!

9:00 pm, Old Knot

The figure dressed in black had been told to make his way out of the Mackey woods and into the Lower Spring area. Once there, he was to destroy. Sheds, empty houses, occupied houses. It didn't matter. The ten bottles of shine that he had in the pockets of his black overcoat rattled together as he walked down the deserted streets, unsure of where to start.

He had to move quietly and slowly. There were more people in the woods, even now after dark. He knew that they were looking for anyone near their property. And everyone he saw was armed; boys with clubs, older boys and men with guns. Without specific instructions, he decided there was one task he could complete. A score to settle with an enemy. One who had made his life miserable. He would burn the McEwen house to the ground, hopefully with Malcolm inside it.

And then he remembered the one time he was about to stand up to the prick, Kelley Tucker was there defending him. So not one, but two enemies. He'd burn both houses. He had ten bottles of the volatile white lightning he'd taken from Zach Mackey's still. It would be the last he could get, all the stills now had 24-hour guards. And he was sure that this time the shotguns wouldn't be loaded with rock-salt.

Four bottles for each house. It should be enough. He would do the Tucker place first and then make his way back north to the McEwen house. After that he could return to the woods. Set some snares, live off the land, and wait for things to quiet down or for God to give him more instructions.

11:00 pm, The Tucker Residence

Malcolm had come by just at dark. He was invited in, but said he wanted to talk to Kelley alone.

"You should be headed to bed," Mr. Tucker said. "That was where Kelley was headed, and he should have been there an hour ago. Why don't you spend the night here and whatever you need to tell him you can say in his bedroom?"

"No, I can't stay. I need to go home tonight. I just want to see him for a little while. Please."

Mr. Tucker turned to Kelley, who was right behind him, dressed only in boxers. "Go and put on some clothes, and then you can go outside for a few minutes."

"He's seen me in boxers before dad, I'll be fine."

"I'm going to turn off the lights and go to bed. Don't stay out late, and don't leave the yard."

"I won't," Kelley said. "I'm just in boxers! Where would I go?" He stepped outside, wondering what was up with Malcolm. He was surprised that it was still hot outdoors, and moved towards the garage where he saw Malcolm waiting for him in the dark.

"Kelley, do you remember that night I spent at your house? The first time?" Malcolm asked when his friend joined him. He saw Tuck nod his head. "Do you remember what I told you about jacking off?"

Kelley's blush was hidden by the darkness all around. "You thought about people you picked on as you jacked off, and then were embarrassed because of what your mother would think if she knew, so you didn't do it very often."

Kelley paused, and then the realization hit him. "Wait a second, that was like a month or so ago. Don't tell me you haven't ..."

"I think about that night. What Ethan and I did. What you and I did. And yeah, I jack off."

"Then why are you here?" Kelley asked.

"Because I can't get past the part where I never properly thanked you. I let you think you owed me, even though you said you didn't. But the only blowjob I've ever given in my entire life was to Ethan. I owe you. I realized that when Seth let on that I'd told him about almost fucking you. You weren't even bothered that he knew. I'm here to correct that."

"Malcolm, you don't owe me anything," Kelley said. But he was remembering that night. All that had happened. And the memory of Malcolm's naked body. His dick started to rise, and in just boxers it was immediately apparent, even in the dark.

"I think you're wrong. And I'm not leaving until that snake in your pants becomes a worm. Take the boxers off Tuck. I need to do this."

Kelley understood this need. An obligation. It was what had made sex with Casey so different, neither of them was obliged to do it, neither were gay, they just enjoyed it. But that was over, probably forever. And Kelley was fully hard with the thought. And the realization that with everything he'd done, he'd never had a blowjob. He'd only given. He lowered his boxers and stepped out of them.

"Don't say anything," Malcolm said. "Don't even dream of trying to talk me out of this. I need to do it." He gently pulled Kelley down to the ground, where he felt his friend shiver from the cold dew on the grass. And then he got between his legs and licked the four inches of twitching flesh from base to tip, working his way around it, before taking all of it into his mouth. His tongue continued working as he sucked tight while at the same time lifting his head to slide his lips over the hard flesh.

Kelley couldn't resist. He held Malcolm's head, gently guiding it up and down at just the right speed, until he could feel the explosion start in his balls.

"I'm cumming," he said with his voice pitched three octaves higher than normal. Malcolm didn't pull back. Instead he drove in, and as Tuck started to shoot, he pulled back a bit with each burst, taking it in and swallowing it all.

12:00 am, The Tucker's House - The Substance of the Shadow Part A

"Did you hear that?" Malcolm whispered. He sat next to Kelley after the first blowjob until his friend had recovered and then he had given him another one for good measure.

"No," Kelley said. He was still catching his breath. "What did it sound like?" he asked panting softly.

"Mason jars - filled with... shine," Malcolm said in a soft voice. "It's a distinctive sound. I've heard it before."

Kelley was about to say something when he too heard a noise. "It's coming from near the porch," he whispered. He figured it was probably his dad coming to see why he was still outside, but then he realized his father would have turned on the floodlights in the backyard.

The two boys slowly made their way to the edge of the garage. Kelley leaned his head out past the corner. He quickly pulled back to the side.

"It's something all in black," he said. It was hard to see more in the dark.

"It's the monster!" shouted Malcolm as he too looked towards the figure.

Suddenly, a mason jar of moon-shine exploded against the back of the house. The boys could smell the volatile liquid even from where they stood. Then a bright flame banished all traces of darkness in the backyard.

Kelley screamed as he shot passed Malcolm around the corner and towards the figure in black.

Kelley was stunned by the eerie scene before him. The back of his house was on fire, making it difficult to see. The noise of the rapidly spreading flame and smell of the alcohol fueling the fire was disorienting. And the figure in black was running towards the back steps where there were more mason jars which might explode at any second due to the ever-growing intense heat as the fire took hold. Was this the way the lives of his family and himself would end - in the unforgiving flames ignited by a monster?

To be continued...