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(sequel to My 11th Summer)
By: Kewl Dad
Chapter Twenty Six
Takin' the good with the bad
Since Johnny's folks weren't due back till the next day we had one more night together at least. Of course we hoped for more, maybe talking them into letting Johnny stay till the weekend or me coming out there, but we really didn't know what to expect.
That night we ate out at The Spot Cafe since mom would need to go grocery shopping before she was ready to cook for us, and I had the Swiss steak, which was one of my favorites. Johnny had roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy and we shared our food while my mom and dad watched us with amused looks.
"You two remind me of some old married couple," my dad said almost causing me to choke on the bite of corn I'd just shoveled into my mouth.
Fortunately Johnny saved the day, "Well, we been friends longer than some folks been married so I guess our friendship is pretty special."
"That's right," mom said with a loving look for both of us, "I've never seen two boys so close as you two are, and I like to think you'll be that close forever. Even when you both get married and have a family I bet you will still be friends."
I wanted so badly to say, When we marry each other you mean, but of course I couldn't, and instead I just nodded.
"You know Robert and I been talking," Johnny began, and I stopped chewing and looked at him with horror. What was he up to? I wondered, fearing he was about to spill the beans about us.
"Oh, about what?" Mom asked buttering a piece of cornbread.
"Well, about maybe rooming together when we go to college. I know that's a ways off, and I'm not even sure my folks can afford for me to go, but I might be able to work my way through or something..."
"I think that's a great idea," dad said smiling warmly, "I know Robert has talked about going to Tahlequah, and since it's close to home, we're all for it."
"Have you discussed going to college with your parents?" mom asked diving into her bowl of stew after breaking some cornbread up in it.
"Not lately, but I know dad is making more money now and well...my grades are pretty good, and I'm hoping I can find a way to go. I'd really like to study art. I know it's hard to make a living as an artist, but maybe I could be an art teacher or something and paint on the side."
Mom gave Johnny a loving look, "I've seen some of your drawings, and they're very good. I think a career in art would be wonderful, and if that's what you want to do then I'm sure you'll find a way. I suggest you talk to your folks about it when you get a chance, I think they will be very open to the idea of you going to college."
I wondered if mom knew something we didn't, or if she was just being nice, but I figured she was right, it couldn't hurt to at least run the idea by them.
After we ate, dad drove us to the Dairy Queen and we had ice cream then headed on home. We were tired after the long trip and truthfully we hadn't slept all that well the whole time we were at the Cousins' house.
We said goodnight around nine and after a long hot shower we headed off to my room to enjoy our last night together.
"I'm really gonna miss waking up next to you every morning," I said near tears.
"I know, me too," Johnny said laying his arm across my chest and pulling me to him, "but we weren't expecting to have all this time together, so we should feel happy and lucky that we did."
"Yeah, you're right. We'll have other times together. I just wish...you know? That you at least lived close by again."
"Yeah, me too," he sighed, "but that's the way it is, and I can't do anything about it."
"I know. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to spoil our last night together."
"You didn't," Johnny said leaning in to kiss me, "We still got the whole night ahead of us and I'm as horny as a goat," he chuckled.
"Well, what are you waiting for then," I laughed, "show me how horny you are."
We kissed and made out for a long time that night, neither of us wanting to rush things, and when we finally got to the good stuff we were desperate for each other.
Johnny brought me to a spectacular orgasm with his talented mouth and then made love to me, causing me to spew again when he hit that magic place inside me. When I blew, my butthole clenched shut and squeezed his pecker and that was all it took to finish him off.
We lay there for a while just cuddling and kissing and somewhere along the way we fell asleep. However we awoke a few hours later and brought each other off again by hand as we lay face to face, covering each other with our sticky cum. We pressed together afterwards, and rubbed around in our cum as we kissed before we finally got up and padded off to the bathroom to pee and clean up a little.
This time when we went to sleep, it was the sleep of the dead, and I don't think either of us moved the rest of the night.
Morning came with the promise of sunshine and typical Oklahoma summer heat, but we languished in bed till mom finally pounded on the door and told us breakfast was ready.
Mom and dad had slept late too and it was almost ten o'clock when we finally climbed out of bed and took our morning piss before joining them at the table.
"Did you boys sleep well. You look tired," mom said with concern.
"We slept just fine," I said trying not to blush while thinking about what we did besides sleep, "I guess we're just behind on our sleep from being away from home and all."
"Yes, I guess you boys did burn the midnight oil every night we were there. Well, you can get back into your routine now and then you'll have to start a new one when school starts," she chuckled.
"You're evil mom," I protested, "mentioning school on a day like this."
"Which reminds me, Carl we need to go back-to-school shopping for Robert sometime this week or next. He needs new clothes and new shoes, he's growing so fast I can't keep up."
"Awww...mom, can't it wait," I groused, "You know I hate shopping."
"Unless it's for toys or model cars," dad laughed, "It won't hurt you to spend a few hours trying on new clothes and shoes. You should just be glad we can afford to buy you things. Some kids aren't so lucky."
Boy, dad had a way of putting things into perspective. He was right, sometimes I was an ungrateful little shit, and right then I felt about six inches tall.
"Yes sir, you're right. Thank you for buying me stuff and caring about me," I said sincerely.
"We love you son, and we have always tried to do right by you, so just work with us and we'll get things done right."
"Yes sir," I said humbly, then changing the subject I added, "When are Johnny's folks supposed to be here?"
"By supper time," mom said, "Your father is taking me grocery shopping and we're going to grill steaks tonight and have a sort of welcome home dinner for them."
"Gee, that's nice," Johnny said, sounding impressed, "That's really swell of you guys."
"Well, not to spoil things for you, but your folks have some news for you and we thought this would be a good time for them to share it."
"I hope it's good news," Johnny said looking at my mom and dad for some clue as to what the news might be.
"I think you'll like it, but that's all I'm going to say," she said grinning.
Mikey climbed down and was tugging at my shirt then, and I picked him up and sat him on my lap and fed him from my plate as I finished my breakfast.
I noticed mom watching me and she had a little smile on her face the whole time. She told me years later that she was touched by the love I showed Mikey, and that I always seemed to have time for him no matter what. I guess I just loved him and it didn't seem like a big deal to me at the time, but as I got older I understood what she meant.
As soon as we helped mom clean up the breakfast dishes we were off to reconnect with our friends while mom and dad went grocery shopping.
Our first stop was Donnie's house and as luck would have it Walter was there too. You'd have thought we hadn't seen each other in years the way we were hugging and hanging on each other, but it was really nice to see them again.
I didn't realize how much I'd missed them till I saw there happy shining faces, and I swear it looked like both of em' had grown some since we'd last seen them.
"We should go over to Gerald's house," I suggested.
"Okay, but first come say hello to Larry. He's inside, I gotta put some shoes on anyway."
Larry was lounging on the couch watching something on their old black and white TV, shirtless and wearing cut offs that were ripped up the seam so far you could see his white underwear.
"Whoa, who's that...Robert and Johnny? I thought you guys moved to the hills for good," he laughed, "So how was Arkansas?"
"Nice actually, it's pretty and green, and the water is nice, and my cousins, well second cousins were all nice too. We had a lot of fun."
"What kind of fun?" Larry said lewdly, "Naked fun?"
"Well, yeah," I admitted, "they're a wild bunch, even the girls."
"You fuck a girl while you was there?"
"Maybe," I said blushing a little.
"Damn, I wish I had cousins like that."
"You gotta' girlfriend. Don't she let ya' fuck er'?" Donnie said reappearing carrying a pair of worn out tennis shoes.
"Hell no, she's a Christian girl," he said in a sassy tone, "and won't even let me touch her tits."
We all laughed at the funny voice he was using and he rolled his eyes.
"We're going over to Gerald's," Donnie said once he had his shoes tied."
"Okay, be back by five or mom and dad will kill ya'," he warned.
"We will," I said for Donnie, "Johnny's folks are coming back tonight and we're cooking out at our house to welcome them back."
"Too bad we weren't invited," Larry laughed, "we're having beans tonight."
Donnie and Walter grabbed their bikes and we were off to Gerald's house, laughing and talking as we rode along, and we filled them in a little on our visit to the hills.
When we reached Gerald's house we were surprised to see him sitting on the front porch with his step brother Mike.
"Hey you guys. You're back. I'm so glad, it was kinda boring around here without ya'."
"Hey," Mike said looking up as we rode up on the other side of the fence.
"Hey Mike, good to see you're home," I said trying to be polite.
"Yeah, me too," he chuckled, "I can tell you boys one thing, don't screw up, cause being in a place like Rader ain't fun."
"Sorry," I mumbled, "but now you're home so things are better, right?"
"Yeah, I suppose," he said looking down at the ground.
"What are you guys up to?" Gerald asked then.
"Just came to say hi, we can't stay long, we're having a cookout tonight to welcome Johnny's folks back."
"Oh, so tomorrow it's back to the sticks," he laughed, "that's sad, after all the time you guys had together."
"Yeah, well...we had the summer and that was pretty nice. We'll still see each other a lot."
"Yeah, well...how long till you gotta be back home?"
"We gotta few hours, why?"
"Let's ride downtown and get an Icee then."
"Okay, that okay with everyone?"
It was, and for once everyone even had a dime and I didn't have to bail anyone out. I felt bad for Mike sitting there all alone while Gerald went off with his friends, but I didn't think it was my place to invite him along and he didn't ask to go, so we left him where he was.
After we got our Icees we sat in the shade beside McCrory's and drank them while Johnny and I gave the details about our visit to the hills.
"Oh man, you fucked a girl?" Gerald said excitedly, "Was she hot, did she have nice tits?"
"Yeah, she was really pretty and sexy too, but it was like...I don't know, not that great. It was like...I don't know, like it was just no big deal to her and after it was over I didn't really like it that much."
"Cause you're in love," Walter suggested, "and with her it was just...sex."
"Yeah, I think so,"Johnny said nudging me gently, "with this nut head right here," he added laughing.
"Thanks, I love you too," I huffed, trying to sound annoyed, but loving the fact that he admitted it to our friends.
"Maybe this year I'll find a girlfriend," Gerald said wistfully, "I'm really kind of looking forward to starting school again."
His statement was met with boos and disbelieving looks, but truth be known, in a way I was kind of looking forward to school myself. At least I'd have my friends around, even if Johnny wasn't one of them.
"Hey, anyone seen Ben lately?" I said suddenly remembering our younger buddy.
"Yeah, he was over at my house yesterday. He was wonderin' when you boys were coming back." Walter offered.
"We should ride over to his house and see if he's home," Johnny suggested.
We finished our Icees and deposited our cups in the trash barrel at the curb and rode the short distance to Ben's house and knocked on the door.
His sister answered the door and as soon as she saw us she looked back and yelled, "Ben, it's your friends," then to us she said, "He'll be right out. You all can wait on the porch."
"Wow, she's pretty hot," Gerald said after she was gone, "How old is she anyway?"
"Too old for you," I chuckled, "she's almost a woman."
"So? I bet she's experienced," Gerald said lewdly.
We were saved further conversation as Ben appeared in the doorway and threw himself at me and Johnny as if he hadn't seen us in years.
"Hey you guys, I'm so glad you're back. It's been so boring since you left."
"Yeah, we just got back last night. Man, you look taller, did you grow?" I asked looking him over. He was still the same cute boy we'd left two weeks ago, but somehow he looked different, older or something. Maybe it was just because I hadn't seen him for a while.
"What are you guys doing?"
"We were just getting reacquainted," I said, "Let's ride down to the park and sit and talk. We gotta while before we have to be back."
Ben grabbed his bike and after telling his sister where he was going we rode off to the park. The pool was open now and I wished we had time to go swimming, but that could wait for another day. We still had a while before school started and the pool was open two more weeks.
We sat on a picnic table under a shade tree and me and Johnny filled Ben in on our adventures in the hills adding a few more details to the story we'd already told the others.
"Wow, girls..." he said in awe, "I didn't think girls liked that stuff."
"Some do," Johnny said, "just not any of the girls we know here, but I bet there are plenty who would do stuff if you just knew who they were."
"Yeah, that's why I want to go back to school," Gerald said, "Now that we're older the girls will be starting to get interested in boys and I'm hoping to find one who wants to mess around."
"Good luck with that," I laughed.
"I'm so lovable," Gerald goofed, "how could the girls resist me?"
He was cute, and I knew he was sexy from experience, but I didn't know enough about girls to know what they looked for in a boy. Maybe it was more about being nice and romantic. Johnny and I were certainly romantic, but not with girls.
"Hey, I saw Larry Kating the other day and he has a new girlfriend," Donnie said suddenly, "some girl from church camp. He says he's in love," he laughed pretending to swoon.
"Yeah, wonder how long that will last till he's back wanting to fool around?" Johnny laughed.
"Yeah, it's not like this is his first girlfriend. He's tried it before," I offered, "and then he was back."
"I'd still want to do stuff even if I had a girlfriend," Gerald assured us, "cause I know girls aren't gonna wanna to that kind of stuff."
"I don't know if I like girls that much," Ben admitted, "after being around my sister for so long I've decided they're all crazy."
"Not all of em', our friends Chrissy and Evelyn are nice girls and lots of fun. Heck, they like a lot of the same stuff we do."
"Yeah, we should go see them if we have time," Johnny added.
"Yeah, if not today then tomorrow...if you're still around."
"I probably won't be. I bet I have to go home with mom and dad tonight, but we'll see."
We visited for about an hour then rode Ben back to his house and Gerald to his. Mike was still sitting on the front porch and he looked happy to see Gerald again. We waved goodbye to them and rode on to my house and by then my mom and dad were home.
We went in so Donnie and Walter could say hi, and mom fixed us a glass of Kool-Ade which we took out back and drank on the porch.
It was almost three by then and we still had plenty of time, so after we finished our Kool-Ade we decided to ride down to the girls' house and say hello.
Chrissy was at a friend's house, but Evelyn was home and she seemed happy to see us. She told us about what she and Chrissy had been up to and we gave her the non sexy version of our visit to the hills.
"Are you and Rodney still together?" I asked with a smile.
"Yes, he was over yesterday and we went to the movies last Saturday. He's so nice."
"He better be, or we'll cream him," Johnny laughed.
"Oh, you boys...so silly. I can take care of myself."
"I bet," I said rolling my eyes and we all laughed.
We didn't stay long, but I felt good about reconnecting with one of my oldest friends. I didn't even mind when she insisted on hugging all of us goodbye, and in fact it felt kind of good. It was nice to know we could be friends with a girl and not have all the romantic stuff get in the way. I think Evelyn understood that Johnny and I were different, but that didn't mean that she couldn't love us in a different way, and we loved her too.
We split at Donnie's house, promising to get together soon, and rode back to my house and were surprised to see a car we didn't recognize in the driveway.
It was a new Buick, dark blue with white trim and it had Kansas plates.
"Wonder who that is?" Johnny said as we rode up, "you got folks in Kansas?"
"Just uncle Kenneth, but I don't think that's his car, unless he got a new one."
The mystery was solved as soon as we entered the house though and Johnny took one look at his mom and threw himself in her arms.
I guess even as much as Johnny had talked about dreading his folks return, he had missed them, and suddenly he was like a little kid again as he bumped around them and got reunited.
"Oh my, Johnny you have grown an inch since we last saw you," his mom said wiping tears from her eyes.
"You look fit son," his dad said, "did you have a good summer?"
"Yeah, the best. Hey, what's with the new car?" he said suddenly remembering the shiny new Buick out front.
"Well, the old car finally gave up the ghost and with the raise I'm getting for managing the paper plant I figured we were due a new one."
"Wait, what? You're gonna be the plant manager? Uh, where...not in Kansas? Please say we're not moving to Kansas."
"No, son, but the higher ups like the way I helped out with opening the plant there and while I was away the manager here quit and they offered me the job at almost twice what I was making, and I said yes."
"That's wonderful," he burst out, giving his dad an awkward, but heartfelt hug, "Congratulations dad, you really deserve it."
"Thanks son, there's more news too," he said looking amused, "Since I'm going to be busy managing the plant, I won't have time for the farm anymore...so your mother and I have decided to sell the farm and move back to Pryor. So...it looks like you'll be going back to school here come fall."
Well, let me tell you, there was a lot of hooping and hollering and jumping around after that as Johnny and I bumped together and celebrated the good news.
"It will take a while to wrap things up and find a house here, but we're hoping we can be moved before school starts. If not, Robert's folks have agreed to let you stay here till we get settled. That way you can be registered here for the new school year," his mom said.
"So no matter what, I'm going to school here with all my friends again," Johnny said excitedly, "Man, that's the best news ever."
"Poor Caleb," I said suddenly, "now he's gonna be out there all alone."
"Oh yeah, I hadn't thought of him. Yeah, I'll miss him. It was really nice of him and his grandparents to take care of Peck while we were gone too. I can't wait to see that old dog, but I'll hate saying goodbye to Caleb for good."
"Oh, well...I think we can figure out ways for you boys to stay in touch. He can come visit us in town or maybe you can go visit him. I know his grandma just loves you boys to pieces," his mom said.
"Yeah, thanks. So...when can I get a ride in the new car?"
Johnny's dad took me and Johnny for a little ride in the new car and it was really something. As nice as mom and dad's Impala was, the Buick was a lot nicer and roomier too. The air conditioner blew air so cold we got the shivers, and the plush seats seemed to just swallow us up.
We ate steak, baked potatoes, and salad that night, and my mom had even baked a chocolate cake and wrote 'Welcome Home, and Congratulations' on it in white icing.
We celebrated till almost ten o'clock and I kept dreading the time that Johnny had to leave, but his folks decided that he could stay one more night. Then tomorrow my folks would drive us out to their place and we would go over to get Peck and say hello to Caleb and his grandparents.
It was strange that we didn't have sex that night, but it just felt right as we lay there in each others arms and talked about our future. No way had we anticipated such happy news and we were bubbling over with excitement.
We both hoped his folks would find a house nearby, but as small as Pryor was, there really wasn't any place that would be too far away to ride our bikes. With his dad's new salary they could certainly afford a better place than they used to have, but it all depended on what was available and whether they were planning on renting or buying a house.
We talked quietly about all the possibilities and eventually we fell asleep in each others arms and slept peacefully for the first time in a long time.
After breakfast the next day we drove to Locust Grove and as we pulled up in the driveway of the farm house, Johnny's dad came out to greet us.
"Good morning," he said shaking hands with my dad, "Why don't you and Mildred come in and have a cup of coffee," he offered.
"That sounds fine to me," my dad said.
"We're gonna go over to Caleb's," Johnny said after saying hello to his dad, "and get Peck, if that's okay."
"Sure son, go ahead, and be sure to thank Caleb and his grandma and grandpa for watching him for us."
"I will, see you later," Johnny said, and we were off to Caleb's.
As we walked the well worn trail that connected the two farms we talked about how surprised Caleb would be to see us, and how excited Peck would be to see us after so long.
"That old dog ain't worth much, but I sure do love him," Johnny said sounding excited to be reunited with his first best friend.
"He's a good old dog, never causes no trouble. Sometimes I wish I had me a dog."
"Well, he's kind of old but if he lives till we go to college maybe we can take him with us," he laughed.
"He's not that old is he?"
"Dog years are different, like 7 dog years for each human year, and I've had him since I was 6, so he'd be like 56 in human years, that's pretty old."
As we helped each other through the barbed wire fence at the edge of Caleb's farm we were filled with a new excitement at seeing our old friends and took off running as soon as we were clear of the fence.
We bounded up to Caleb's front porch and I guess the clatter we made brought his grandma to see what was going on.
"Land sakes," she said smiling, "Just look at you two, you've done grown an inch or two."
"Hi, is Caleb around? We come to say hi and to tell him some news and to pick up Peck."
"Oh, dear," she said frowning, "Come inside boys, we have rather bad news for you I'm afraid."
We followed her without speaking, but deep inside I had this horrible feeling that something awful had happened to Caleb, but I was too afraid to ask.
Caleb appeared from somewhere and took one look at us and ran to hug us, but he wasn't smiling. He gave us a sad look then turned to his grandma and said, "Did you tell em' yet?"
"No," she said shaking her head, "Go get your grandpa, I think he should be the one to tell it."
"What's going on?" Johnny said sounding worried.
"Sit down boys," she said busying herself getting us a glass of tea and placing the cookie jar on the table, "Help yourselves boys. I've missed cooking for you boys. I made a fresh batch of Ranger Cookies just yesterday."
I didn't feel much like eating, but I didn't want to be rude, and after all I loved her cookies, so I took one and munched on it while we waited.
Pretty soon Caleb returned with his grandpa, and his grandpa asked me and Johnny to follow him outside. I swallowed the last bit of my cookie, but Johnny just laid his down, with only a small bite out of it, as we solemnly followed Caleb's grandpa out the back door.
"I'm sorry Johnny," the old man said as he motioned toward a mound of fresh dirt with a hand made cross pounded into it.
It took me a minute to realize what I was seeing, but when I did I felt as if that cookie I'd just eaten would come back up again.
"I blame myself, I should've checked that fence myself, but there was a small opening in the back of the pen and day before yesterday your dog got out. Me and Caleb chased after him, but he made it all the way to the road, and..." he paused and wiped his face with an old red bandanna, then looked at Johnny with sad eyes, "The truck that hit him didn't even stop. At least it knocked him out of the road and it didn't run over him, but he was dead before he hit. I'm really sorry boy, I blame myself. I knew you'd want him to have a proper burying, so I buried him here, but if you want to move him to your place, I'll help ya'."
Caleb moved closer and placed a hand on Johnny's shoulder, "I'm sorry Johnny, it was my fault too. I shoulda' checked on him more often."
"It's okay," Johnny said in an emotionless voice, "he was an old dog anyway. Stupid mutt," he muttered, "Always running into the road and stuff..."
"Johnny," I said as tears filled my eyes, "I'm sorry about Peck."
"It's no big deal. We're moving anyways," he said to Caleb and his grandpa, "So if it's all right he can just stay buried here."
"That's fine son," Caleb's grandpa said, looking at Johnny with a concerned look.
"You're moving?" Caleb said, looking at me for clarification.
"Yeah, his dad got promoted and he's gonna be the new plant manager at the paper mill so he said they wouldn't have time for the farm anymore and they're moving back to Pryor."
"That's good, I guess," Caleb said, "but I sure will miss you two."
"We'll still see you," I assured him, but this wasn't the time to go into details, I needed to attend to Johnny now, "We'll talk about it later, right now I think we should go back and tell Johnny's folks what happened, right Johnny?"
"Yeah," he grunted, then he turned to Caleb's grandpa and said softly, "Thanks for all you done for him, I don't blame nobody at all. He was an old dog and we had a good life together, but I knew someday he'd be gone."
"I know that dog meant a lot to you son," the old man said gently, "maybe you can get a new dog, a pup that will be around while you finish growin' up."
"No, I don't ever want another dog," Johnny said sounding hurt that the old man should say such a thing, "You can't just replace someone you loved that easy. Come on Robert, let's go home."
With that Johnny turned to go and I gave Caleb and his grandpa a shrug and followed him. Over my shoulder I called to Caleb, "We'll talk to ya' later, okay."
On the way back to Johnny's place I expected Johnny to open up to me, or cry, or show some emotion, but he just walked on ahead as if he didn't even know or care that I was there. It hurt a little, but I tried not to take it personally. After all it was Johnny that had lost his dog and he had to be hurting really bad at the moment. Still, why wasn't he showing it? I was near tears myself, and it wasn't even my dog. If it had been, I'd have been bawling my head off.
I was too young to know about stuff like shock, or delayed feelings, or the way people grieved, but I knew something wasn't right and it sort of scared me.
As we walked in the door I expected Johnny to go directly to his folks and tell them what happened, but instead he marched off to his room and slammed the door.
I just stood there speechless, but the slamming door had brought Johnny's folks and mine and I was left to explain as best I could what had happened.
"Oh no," Johnny's mom said, "that boy loved that old hound dog. I can't imagine what he must be feeling right now."
"Oh dear, that's so sad," my mom said, "I remember that dog was just a pup when Johnny and Robert met. He was more like a member of the family than a dog as I recall."
"Yeah, he was a good old dog," Johnny's dad said, showing an emotional side of him I hadn't seen before. Wiping at his eyes he added, "I should go talk to him."
"Yes, go dear and see if he's okay," Johnny's mom said.
I stood there speechless, ready to cry, then Mikey came over and reached his little arms up to me and I picked him up and let him soothe away my hurt for a moment. It was hard not to be happy around that kid, especially when he was blowing slobbery kisses all over my face.
Later Johnny told me what was said that day in his bedroom, but his dad wasn't in there very long and when he came back he looked upset.
"He won't talk to me, Robert, maybe he'll talk to you," he sighed.
"Okay," I said, "I'll try." I said handing Mikey to mom, "but he was sort of weird on the way back."
"He's just hurting right now," mom offered, "Just give him time. Robert, just let him know you're there for him, but don't push him."
"I know, I know," I said sighing, "I know him better than anyone," I said before I thought. I mean...you know? We understand each other."
Dad laughed, "Calm down, if anyone can get him to open up, it's you son, but just take it slow."
I nodded, afraid to say more for fear I'd really embarrass myself again, then headed off to Johnny's room.
I knocked softly on the bed, but when Johnny didn't answer I pushed the partly opened door open further and peeked inside.
Johnny was laying on his bed, his hands behind his head and staring up at the ceiling. He looked my way when he realized I was there and moved over a bit and I took that for an invitation to come in and sit down.
As I sat down I looked around at the familiar setting and sighed. In the short time Johnny had lived there we'd managed to create some memories there and they were all pleasant until that day.
"Hi," I said lamely, "You okay. Can I get you a drink or anything?"
"I'm fine. Why does everyone think I'm not okay, or all broke up over that damn dog?" he said angrily.
"Sorry," I said recoiling from his backlash.
He calmed down quickly and laid a hand on my leg, "I didn't mean to yell at you. I know you're just worried about me, but I'm okay...really."
"Good," I said, "but it's okay to be sad," I said feeling a little sad myself, "He was a good old dog and you had him a long time."
"Well, now he's gone and that's that," he said softly.
"Okay, but if you ever want to talk about it, or if you start feeling sad and stuff...I'm here for you."
"Okay, thanks. Hey, wanna see if you can spend the night. I don't think I want to be alone tonight," he said sounding small and insecure suddenly.
"Yeah, I'll ask, but I'm pretty sure they'll say yes."
"But for now, just sit with me, okay?"
We stayed there a long time that day and Johnny told me his dad had surprised him by acting so worried about him.
"I'm not used to my dad being like that. It was almost like he was a different person."
"What did he say?"
"Oh you know, he said he was sorry and that if I wanted to talk about it he was there, and stuff like that. He even said he'd buy me a new dog. Why does everyone think I can just replace Peck like that?" he said growing agitated again.
I was confused, first he said it was no big deal that Peck was gone, and now he was acting like it was the worst thing ever and that nothing could fix it.
"Maybe its too soon, but someday. Hey, maybe someday you and I will get a dog of our own, that belongs to both of us."
"Not for a long time," Johnny groused.
He was quiet for a long time and when I looked back over at him he was asleep. I sat there watching him sleep for a long time, my heart breaking for him and for that old dog that was such a big part of our lives. Eventually I got up and walked out to see what the old folks were up to and to ask about staying over.
"He's asleep," I said as I slid into a seat at the table where they sat drinking coffee.
"He'll be all right," Johnny's dad said.
"Yeah, I think so. He wants me to stay tonight, do you guys think that would be okay?" I asked looking at each of the adults in turn.
"It's fine with us," my dad said looking at mom, "if you all don't mind. We can come pick him up tomorrow."
"We have to run back into town tomorrow anyway," Johnny's mom said, "lots to do, so we can bring him back if he wants to come back that is," she added the last part with a chuckle.
"Well, as long as he's not in the way. I know you all have a lot to do," mom said.
"Oh, I'm sure he'll be a big help. If nothing else he'll keep Johnny occupied and his mind off that dog."
"Carl, Mildred, Robert is welcome anytime, you all know that right?" Johnny's dad said in a rare moment of sentiment.
"And you know the same goes for your boy," dad said, "Heck, I feel like we're just one big family after all these years."
"We feel the same," Johnny's mom said smiling, "Our boys have brought us all together over the years."
I was feeling a little uncomfortable at all the gushy talk, but it was good to know that they felt that way.
"I'll go see if he's awake and tell him," I said excusing myself, "Uh, he might be thirsty so I should maybe take him some tea or something, if it's okay."
Johnny's mom laughed, "You know where the glasses are, and there's a fresh pitcher of tea in the fridge."
I fixed Johnny a glass of tea and went back to his room and when I got there he was awake and sitting up.
"Hey, brought you some tea."
"Thanks," he said taking the offered glass and swigging down half of it, "What did they say?"
"I'm staying, your folks are gonna take me home tomorrow when they go into town. Your mom said they had lots to do, probably about the new house and stuff."
"Yeah, I can't wait to get away from this shit hole of a farm," Johnny said surprising me with his attitude.
"We should go talk to Caleb," I said suddenly, then braced myself for the storm that didn't follow.
"Maybe you could call him and have him come over here," he said and I figured that was probably so he wouldn't have to see Peck's grave again.
"Okay, or maybe at the creek. It's hot enough to swim, you feel like swimming?"
"Yeah, yeah, that's a great idea," he said perking up, "Come on, let's go call him."
Caleb answered on the first ring, as if he'd been expecting a call, and agreed to meet us at the creek in a half hour.
Johnny seemed to be back to his old self and even thanked his folks for letting me stay. I kissed my folks and Mikey goodbye since they said they would be leaving soon, and we were off to the creek.
"We gonna skinny dip?" I giggled.
"Don't see no swimmin' suit do ya'?" Johnny said raising an eyebrow, "and I sure ain't swimming in my clothes."
"Me neither," I said skipping along happily, then taking off running I yelled back, "Last one there is a rotten egg."
I knew that would waken the competitive spirit in Johnny and he beat me easily, even though I had a slight lead. Johnny was much more athletic than I was and could have easily excelled in any sport if he had taken the time to go out for any. I was wiry and fit, but nowhere in the same league as Johnny.
Caleb was there waiting for us and when he saw us run up he gave us a big smile. I guessed he was relieved to see Johnny wasn't dwelling on Peck's death and that maybe eased his conscience a little.
"Hi, you guys wantin' to swim or just talk?"
"This answer your question?" Johnny said pulling off his shoes and socks and then his tee shirt.
"Swim," I said, stripping quickly, "Skinny dipping."
"Great," Caleb said dropping his shorts. He was already barefoot and shirtless and he was naked before either of us.
It was obvious Caleb had been doing some skinny dipping without us, because his body was tanned from head to toe. It looked as if he had grown some too, but I didn't have long to look him over before he jumped into the creek leaving us to follow in his wake.
"Awww...the water feels great," I said as I dog-paddled out to Caleb.
"So how was the hills?"
"Oh man, you can't believe the stuff we did..." and between Johnny and me we filled him in on our adventures with the cousins.
"Man, oh man, that's sounds like fun. Don't know if I'd of liked the girl stuff that much, but the boys sound like fun. That boy Zeke sounds like my kind of boy."
"Yeah, I bet you two would have hit it off right away. Hey, speaking of boys...have you seen that one boy, Seth, that we met at the swimming hole?"
"Yeah, actually I did. Me and grandpa were in town and we ran across him at the grocery store. We talked for a while, and he asked me if I'd like to go fishin' with him that weekend and that's what we did."
"Is that all?" Johnny asked grinning.
"Well, you know," Caleb said not going into detail.
"Wait, tell us what happened," I said shaking my head, "we just shared everything with you."
"I...well," he sighed, "we really like each other...at least I think he feels the same way."
"You gonna see him again?"
"Yeah, we talk on the phone a lot and he's been out to the farm once already. Grandpa and grandma seem to like him. They know some of his folks. He don't smoke around them though," he chuckled.
I made a face, "Smoking is nasty, but if you like him then I guess you can figure out a way to make it work."
"Yeah, I don't know if we'll ever be as close as you and Johnny, but we're at least friends, and we have fun together."
"Then that's all that matters. I'm happy for you."
"So, you're moving huh?" he said changing the subject.
"Yep, as soon as we can sell the farm and find a place in town, but if we don't find one before school starts I'll stay at Robert's and go to school there till we find a house."
"Wow, that's neat, but I'll sure miss you around here. I really liked having someone so close, and when Robert came to visit that was even better."
"Well, we're not gonna forget ya'," Johnny said treading water with his hands and causing waves, "We'll come see ya' and you can come see us."
"Yeah, that will be rad, but it won't be the same. I'm happy for you two though, I know it was hard on you being in different towns."
"We had a great summer though," I said smiling, "its like something good is always happening to us. Even when Johnny moved away we still found ways to see each other and then Johnny got to spend all that time with me this summer. It was the best summer ever."
"Yeah, the best...except for..." Johnny said, but didn't finish.
We both knew what he was thinking about and I was torn between pursuing the subject or letting it drop. Fortunately Johnny changed the subject and we moved on to safer subjects.
We swam and talked and got reacquainted and by the time the sun was starting to go down we had just about exhausted every subject and were ready to split up.
Caleb said he had to do some chores before supper anyway, and after we got dressed we hugged goodbye and promised to keep in touch.
Johnny was quiet on the way back to his place, but I didn't feel as worried as I had earlier. I guess he was dealing with Peck's death in his own way and eventually he'd get over it one way or the other.
Mom and dad were long gone by the time we got back to Johnny's, and Johnny's mom was cooking supper. She and Johnny's dad had gone grocery shopping while we were gone so at least we wouldn't starve.
"What's for supper ma?" Johnny asked as he sniffed the air.
"Meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. I made pudding for dessert. I figured you boys would be hungry after skinny dipping," she laughed.
"Mom, why do you think we were skinny dipping?"
"Lands sake Johnny, I was raised on a farm and had two brothers. We didn't know what a swimming suit was till we were grown."
"Well...its not as much fun when you know about it."
"I didn't say a thing," she laughed, "Go holler at your dad, he's out back somewhere, and then wash up. Supper will be ready in about fifteen minutes.
We found Johnny's dad puttering around in the backyard and when he saw us he walked our way.
"Mom says supper will be ready in 15 minutes."
"Sounds good. I'm hungry. I don't suppose you boys are though," he laughed.
"Just starved," I said grinning, "swimming takes a lot of energy."
"Yeah, I guess so," he said looking thoughtful, "You okay son?" he said laying a hand on Johnny's shoulder.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Johnny mumbled.
"Good, I'm glad. You're growing up so fast. I guess I still see you as that little boy that I used to know. I guess you can handle things like a man now."
Johnny shrugged, "I'm just fine. I ain't gonna cry if that's what you're thinking."
"There's no shame in tears son," he said completely surprising the heck out of me.
I'd always thought of Johnny's dad as tough and hard. Even when Johnny's sister had died, he had seemed in complete control of his emotions. Of course you never know what someone was feeling inside, and that was true with Johnny right then.
"I guess. We need to wash up, see ya' at supper," Johnny said dismissing his dad as he steered me to the bathroom.
We peed and washed up and by the time we got to the table Johnny's dad was seated. He picked up his tea glass and took a sip as he watched us sit down.
Johnny's mom was busy sitting the food on the table and then she sat down and we began passing the dishes around.
Her meatloaf was really good, almost as good as my mom's, and I hadn't realized how hungry I was till I took my first bite.
By the time we'd finished dessert I was comfortably full and ready to lay around for awhile while my food settled.
We wound up watching TV, but there really wasn't anything good on, so we went to Johnny's room and played cards till we got bored.
We wandered outside to get a breath of fresh air and were happy to find it was much cooler than earlier. There were clouds off in the west and it smelled like rain, but we needed the rain and we didn't dread it.
"I guess we don't need a shower, since we swam today," Johnny said.
"Yeah, I feel clean enough, and its cooler so we won't sweat as much," I said grinning, "when we hit the sheets."
"You wantin' to fool around?" he said grinning back.
"Well, we didn't do it last night. I was sort of hoping we might do something at the creek, with Caleb, but I guess he's into Seth now."
"Yeah, I thought the same thing. I'm glad for him though. Everyone deserves to have a friend like that."
"Yeah, but I doubt it's like me and you."
"You think we're the only two boys ever fell in love?"
"I never really thought about it. I guess Walter and Donnie are sort of like that."
"Naw, it's not the same. They're like really good friends and all...and they mess around, but I don't think they're really in love."
"I guess," I said looking out at the darkening sky. A fat raindrop splattered against the ground and the distant rumble of thunder shook the air, "Does that make us weird?"
"No, just different. I don't think there's anything wrong with us, or that we love each other, but I know most people wouldn't understand."
"Yeah, we're lucky to have such good friends that accept us the way we are."
"I think in a way we may have changed the way they think, just by being the way we are. Does that make sense?"
"I sort of see what you mean. If we hadn't shown them that two boys could like each other that way and do that stuff without it being weird, they might not have did that stuff too."
"Yeah, that's what I think."
The rain began coming down hard then, and we were forced back to the porch where we sat on the wooden swing and watched it for a while before speaking.
"I know it won't be easy, but do you think we'll really be together forever?"
"As far as I'm concerned. Why, you changed your mind?"
"Nope, I can't imagine not having you around," I said laying a hand on his leg, "It feels like I've known you forever and if you ever went away I'm not sure I could go on."
"I feel the same way too, so I guess we're stuck with each other. We'll figure it out, I promise. As we get older it will be easier. We won't have to sneak around as much. We'll have our own place and won't have to worry about anyone catching us."
"Yeah, just four more years and we'll be old enough to do what we want."
"We've been lucky so far, but sometimes I worry about getting caught."
"You think we should be more careful?"
"It wouldn't hurt, make sure the door was locked and stuff."
"Okay, we can do that."
"Okay, well...I'm kinda' tired," Johnny said getting up slowly, "come on, let's hit the hay."
Johnny's folks must've really been tired, because the house was dark and they were already in their room. Johnny and I peed and brushed our teeth and headed off to his room.
Johnny threw the little barrel bolt on his door and began stripping and he didn't stop till he was naked. I was worried at first that we might not be making love that night, but seeing him naked sure got my motor running.
As we slid into bed atop the sheets we rolled into one another and kissed deeply. As I held Johnny in my arms I realized that I loved him more today than I did yesterday, and I knew with certainty that tomorrow I would love him even more.
As we cuddled in the darkness listening to the rain beat against the roof, I was sudden aware that Johnny was shaking. The tears came next and I just held him as he cried for his lost dog.
"Dumb old dog," he sobbed, "stupid dog. Why did he have to do that while I was gone? I didn't even get to say goodbye."
"I know," I said softly, "I'm so sorry. I'm gonna miss him too," I said crying a little too.
As we lay there that night, sharing a common grief, we became closer and the bond between us was strengthened. It was a bond that would last forever, and no matter what the world threw at us, good or bad, we would face it together.
End of Chapter 26
Sometimes we have to take the bitter with the sweet. Now that Johnny and his folks are moving back to Pryor, the boys will be going to school together again, and things will be even better than before. Johnny will come to grips with the loss of his beloved dog and life will go on for the two young lovers.
In the next chapter, Johnny settles in his new home and the boys start 9th grade with a new outlook on life.
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Other stories by Kewl Dad
* Denotes Series, rest are short stories
Dougie's Story #Part 3 of a series
My Best Friend's Dad *Related story to My Son's Best Friends
My Little Runaway #Part 1 of a series
My Son's Best Friends *Related series to My Best Friend's Dad
Tommy Boy #Part two of a series
It's Amazing What Sex Can do for a Guy (as smoothoperator52)