The Road to Everything: How we became a family
Edited by Steven Keiths
High school wasn’t that bad. You hear horror stories about hazing, bullying, homophobia, racism, classism, sexism and everything else reprehensible to the civilized world, but I didn’t experience much of it. Burlington, Vermont is a liberal city. Most kids’ parents and the school administration won’t tolerate that shit. I knew there were gay kids in school but I kept my distance. I guess I was scared.
Mikey and I had a few classes and lunch together. I had English and world history in the morning while Mikey had world history and then English. We were together for earth science, lab/study hall and lunch but split up for the rest of the day until last period: physical education. We met a few new people and hung out with some of our friends from middle school. Our parents’ suggested that we join the cross country team to stay in shape and prepare for our black belt test so we did. Life became busy and I eventually stopped thinking about Jimmy and Johnny every day.
Since I was at that age—raging hormones—I was worried about undressing in the locker room. Thankfully, many other students had the same concerns, so few took showers because it would mean getting naked and getting naked with other guys was “gay”. When we changed, we only stripped to our underwear—boxer briefs for me and silk boxers for Mikey.
High school settled into a regimen of classes, cross country practice, martial arts, homework and hanging out with Mikey. We met up at school whenever we could, even if it was just a quick fist bump pass in the hallway and we alternated having dinner at each other’s houses. The first break in our routine was the first school dance—Homecoming.
The more I thought about the dance the more I realized that I didn’t want to go with anyone. It didn’t feel right to take a girl I wasn’t interested in to the dance, so I convinced Mikey and a bunch of people on our cross country team to volunteer with the student council. They needed volunteers to help set up beforehand and to clean up afterwards. I figured we’d be too busy to get dates and we could hang out our teammates during the dance and I was right. Most of the cross country team ended up dancing together as a group. We switched partners often and it was fun, especially when I was able to observe Mikey. I love watching Mikey dance.
Our martial arts experience gives us a really good understanding of what our bodies are doing at all times and during middle school Mikey and I practiced group dance moves in front of the big mirror. It was kind of lame, but the results paid off. We only have to see a move once or twice and we can copy it but Mikey also instinctively knows how to combine dance moves to look awesome. I usually just copy whatever Mikey does when we go out.
It was mostly fun dancing as a group. Mikey and I were surrounded by girls as soon as everyone saw how well we could dance and although it annoyed me a little I knew it couldn’t hurt my image to be surrounded by some of the hottest freshman in school. Mikey’s dancing combined with the constant body contact among our group had me hard and horny pretty quickly. A few of the girls were quite flattered and I wasn’t going to burst their bubble or my reputation by telling them the truth. The chaperones kept us from grinding but that didn’t stop some of the girls from trying. I took frequent breaks to make sure I didn’t come in my pants and Mikey usually joined me. The few times he didn’t I ended up thinking too much.
I wish it was me dancing with Mikey right now. I thought, as Christina—one of the best female freshman runners rubbed against his side. It’s not fucking fair that all the straight kids can dance with whoever they want without being judged.
I wasn’t in the mood to start dancing again, but I didn’t want to watch Mikey with Christina either, so I went to the bathroom. When I came back, Mikey was resting at our table.
“Where’d you go Paulie?” he asked as he handed me a glass of punch. It was the ‘Fancy’ high school party punch, where they combine sprite and concentrated juice in a large plastic bowl with some orange slices floating around.
“The bathroom,” I answered, “since when do I have to tell you when I need to take a piss?”
“You know I worry about you,” Mikey said with a wink. “Hey listen, I was talking to the junior class president, Anthony Nerelli. He said that they have enough volunteers for cleanup after the dance. We don’t have to stay.”
“Oh, cool. You want to go now? I’m tired and we have a busy day tomorrow.”
We said goodbye to our teammates and called for a ride home. We weren’t going to spend the night over because we’d be spending most of the weekend together away from family at our cross country meet or at open mat time in our dojo preparing for our black belt test. Homecoming passed by just as quickly as it came up, and we were back to our rhythm.
I don’t think I had more than fifteen minutes of free time a day for the entire first semester of freshman year. Whenever we weren’t doing schoolwork or cross country we were training for our black belts tests. The tests at our dojo were grueling. We had paid a fee for the test and the certification you received upon its successful completion. Unlike “Mcdojos”—karate schools where they only care about your money and not your skills—paying the fee didn’t mean you were automatically going to pass at our dojo. If you failed you didn’t have to pay the fee again but you needed to wait six months before you retested. To obtain a lesser ranked belt, the tests lasted between half an hour to an hour. Black belt tests take well over two hours. Our sensei wouldn’t let us test until we were ready on a technical level. However, getting in shape was up to us. The final factor for receiving a black belt is simple—if you pass out, you fail. The goal of a black belt test is to work someone to the point of exhaustion and see what skills he can use out of instinct and determination.
We practiced, worked out and prepared for months and I was confident we would be able to pass. The only thing I worried about was injuries. It’s not uncommon for a testing to end with a trip to the emergency room, and many participants will leave with a sprained ankle or wrist and some nasty bruising.
Black belt tests are always on a Saturday. Mikey and I needed to tell our Coach Evans we would miss the cross country meet that day and there was a possibility we would be out of commission for at least a week. Coach wanted to know why the test took so long and why there were so many injuries so we described it to him. The first part of the test starts with a mile run, 50 pushups, 100 crunches and 30 leg lifts. Then we need to demonstrate our knowledge and mastery of every striking technique we’ve ever learned with our hands, feet, elbows and knees. After these exercises we move on to kata-patterns of memorized movements. These movements have practical uses in combat and are useless unless you learn and practice the bunkai or the meaning behind the kata forms.
In part two of the test we do a set of 21 “one-steps”. These are memorized defensive strikes from a thrown punch. After that we move on to jujitsu. The first part is a demonstration of our jujitsu technique. We need to show at least 10 different ways to defend against a punch, front choke, tackle, head lock, push, arm grab, cross arm grab, double arm grab, a choke from behind, handshake, bear hug and hair pull. Then we need to defend against random attacks. Attack and defense is at full speed and power and if you lose control for even a short moment serious joint injury can occur.
Next we have sparring with head, hand and foot gear. We fight full contact in three-minute rounds against five people with no rests in between rounds. With the six people vying for a black belt, we would be at it for at least an hour and a half.
If you haven’t passed out and you didn’t lose your spirit and technique during the test, you pass. This is the rigorous training it takes to achieve the black belt rank, but it’s only the beginning. Our sensei holds on to our certificates for a full year and only after you’ve proven that you have earned it do you receive proof of your rank. It will take another year of training to earn a full black belt. After explaining the test, coach was amazed at all the work and time it took.
Mikey spent the night before the test at my house for some pasta carbo loading. The next morning we hydrated, ate breakfast and headed to the dojo. We arrived thirty minutes early, changed out of our street clothes and began stretching. By the time we started Mikey and I were fully warmed up and ready to begin.
My black best test was one of the most mentally and physically exhausting things I have ever done. I had never been so tired in my life. The nervousness and intense energy of the test sapped my energy, and I was in very good shape. We both passed but we did sustain some injuries. Neither of us, nor any other students needed to go to the emergency room, but I had bruises on my arms and legs from blocking strikes. I almost bottomed out with my energy during the third round sparring and spent most of the three minutes turtling up and conserving my energy. The tester fighting me was from another dojo. He was huge and he could hit like a Mack truck. He started to really telegraph his strikes trying to overpower my guard and in the last 30 seconds of the round I deflected one of his punches and swept his leg.
Mikey had a massive bruise on his right thigh from his sparring as well. One of his kicks was a little too slow and his opponent caught it and smashed the top of his thigh with an elbow strike. Adrenaline allowed him to finish the rest of the sparring but he definitely favored that leg for the rest of the test. After acknowledging our hard work, our sensei advised everyone to drink plenty of water, rest and to massage our muscles if they cramped up.
Our post-test ritual was well established. Mikey’s family had a hot tub, so I would go home, shower and then I’d go to his house to soak in the hot tub. After that we would order pizza, watch movies in his room and fall asleep.
My mom would drop me of at Mikey’s so I hurried through my shower. I wanted to get into the hot tub as soon as possible so I was all business. I didn’t even take the time to jerk off I was so exhausted.
During the ride to Mikey’s house I fielded questions about school, karate and sports from my mom. Friends and family are allowed to watch the test so she didn’t have many questions about how the test went. She asked the standard filler questions most moms ask their sons and I answered her on auto-pilot. I was at my physical, mental and emotional limit and when we finally arrived I was relieved.
“Thanks Mom,” I said. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Honey. See you tomorrow and don’t forget about the family dinner with the Smith’s in the evening.”
“I won’t,” I replied.
I waved goodbye as she pulled away and walked up to the front door. I let myself in—we have keys to each other’s houses—and I headed straight to the hot tub. I dropped my bag next to the stairs and walked through the living room and kitchen to the back yard and the Jacuzzi. Mikey was already there.
He was very quiet—thinking again with his head back and his eyes closed. I stripped to my bathing suit and slid in across from him. After relaxing for a minute or so, I went back to one of my favorite past times—Mikey watching. I admired his chest, arms, the curve of his neck and his facial expressions. He was so peaceful; his entire body was relaxed as the bubbles lapped at his beautiful body. He looked as if he was asleep but I knew he was thinking and not zonked out because he wasn’t snoring—although we denied it for years, both of us were light snorers. I knew from observing him in the locker room that under the bubbles he had an incredible six pack and that his torso had a perfect V-shape. His chest was still perfectly smooth then, but his faint treasure trail was one of the most enticing parts of his body. To this day, it’s my fourth favorite physical feature on Mikey.
My own body was beginning to bulk up but as hard as I tried I couldn’t get a six-pack unless I tensed y abs and held my breath. I read somewhere that you need less than 1/16th of an inch of fat on your stomach for six-pack abs to be visible, and that some people are just born with them. Lucky bastards. I had the line down the middle of my stomach, but it wouldn’t be until college that my six-pack developed and became noticeable.
All those thoughts about Mikey’s body began to affect me below the waist, so I stopped watching him and closed my eyes to rest and think. My mind wandered to different topics but for some reason I started thinking about the twins again I let a sigh escape and Mikey finally broke out of his reverie.
“What’s the matter?” He asked.
“Nothing,” I replied, “just relaxing after the test.”
“If you say so,” Mikey answered, sensing that I didn’t want to discuss it at the moment.
We talked about the testing until the pizza arrived. Mikey got out of the hot tub to pay, while I went upstairs to his room. Since Mama and Pop S were at a party, we decided to eat in Mikey’s room. His room is large enough for a queen sized bed, his dresser, a TV and his desk. There were martial arts and sports posters covering the walls. His furniture was stained teak wood and his bed spread was dark green or “turtle green” as we used to call it. One of our first fights was over who’s favorite color was better, red or blue. We caused such a ruckus that eventually Pop S settled the argument by telling us that green was the perfect color because both Leonardo and Raphael are mostly green, not blue and red.
After a few minutes Mikey came up and we ate quietly. I was feeling moody and I guess Mikey didn’t want to break the silence. We eventually ended up watching Rush Hour.Uncharacteristically, few words were spoken. We would usually talk during home movies. The silence was abruptly broken when Mikey let out a yell and grabbed his leg.
“My entire left leg cramped up, everything hurts: my toes, my calf muscles and my quads.”
“Is that your bruised leg?”
“No. I hurt my right leg. My left must be cramping because I used it to over compensate.”
Mikey and I used to give each other shoulder and back massages in grade school, but we stopped in middle school because an older kid called it gay. I hesitated for a second before I suggested, “You want me to massage it out?”
“Please! I’m dying here,” he begged.
“Take your shirt off and lay on your stomach.”
“Hurry up,” he urged jerking his shirt up over his head. “After you finish I’ll give you one.”
Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I moved to the foot of the bed and started the massage.
I saw his pointer toe was crossed over his middle toe and I knew from experience that that hurt like hell. I began my massage there. I physically straightened the toes and rubbed them until I felt the muscles and tendons relax. Mikey let out a relieved sigh. I don’t have a foot fetish but like Vincent said in Pulp Fiction,“There’s something sensuous about giving a foot massage.” I was as hard as I’ve ever been. Plus, everything about Mikey is sexy.
“Great,” Mikey groaned, “now the rest of the leg.”
The cramps in his calf and thigh were incredibly tough and tenacious. I kneaded and rubbed with most of my strength to remove the many cramps all over his leg. In some areas I needed to use my elbow to work out the tautness. Mikey groaned as I worked the cramps out and I got even harder. Can you blame me? He was groaning because of me. He was groaning because I was touching him.
“Man,” Mikey sighed, “you’re the best. Can I get a quick back and shoulder rub?”
I couldn’t resist. It was bonus time. I straddled his lower back and when I began kneading his shoulder his groaning increased. It was too much for me. I started leaking pre-cum almost instantly, and to make sure Mikey wouldn’t notice I raised myself up on my knees. I massaged up and down his back working out the knots and when they were all gone, I kept going. It had been years since I had enjoyed this kind of contact with Mikey and I wanted to savor the smoothness of his skin and the intricacies of his muscles. Mikey gradually relaxed more and more, his groans becoming grunts and sighs and before I knew it, Rush Hour was over and he was asleep. I got up to turn off the TV and lay on my stomach beside Mikey. I felt ready to bust a nut, accompanied with a little guilt for perving on my best friend.
As soon as I started to drift off to sleep, Mikey woke up. I didn’t feel like talking so I ignored him and pretended to sleep. The bed moved as Mikey got up and soon I felt his hands massaging my feet. His touch sent goose bumps all the way to my neck, but I still didn’t want to talk so I didn’t react. He moved up my leg to my calves and I started to get a hard on again. When he finally moved up to my thighs, I pushed his hands away.
“Cut it out man. I’m sleepy,” I complained.
“You don’t want a massage?” Mikey asked incredulously. “I loved mine. It’s only fair if I give you one too.”
“I don’t want one,” I muffled into my pillow.
“Are you sure? It feels gre…”
“Leave me alone man.”
There was a pause and then I felt Mikey lie down beside me. I felt like shit for snapping at him.
“What’s wrong Paulie?” he asked. “Something’s been bothering you for a while. Tell me what it is.”
“Nothing’s wrong.” I said.
“Paulie I’m your best friend. We’re closer than brothers,” he pleaded. “I know something’s wrong. Just tell me so I can help.” I was in trouble now. Mikey was using his serious tone. He knew something major was going on and he was concerned.
“Nothing’s wrong.” I repeated.
Undeterred, Mikey brought out the big guns as he draped his arm over my shoulders.
“Come on Paulie-boy. Tell me what’s wrong. I promise I’ll try to help you. You’re driving me crazy with this I-don’t-want-to-talk-shit. So, tell me what’s bothering you. Please, Paulie-boy.”
The use of my childhood nickname finally got me. The last time Mikey used that phrase was when my paternal grandma died. We were ten years old.
It was my first experience with death and the shock of it changed me. I guess I grew up a lot during the week after her death. She died suddenly one summer night-a heart attack in her sleep and I’ll always remember the morning I found out.
After the funeral, I stopped letting everyone call me Paulie-boy. From now on my name was Paul. Mikey decided he wanted to be Mike or Michael and we stopped responding to our “old” names. Paulie-boy was the vulnerable kid who cried at his grandma’s funeral. Paul was a man and nothing could hurt him.
I knew he wouldn’t let up unless I gave him something. Our night time conversations were sacred. We didn’t have them often but using our old names signaled that we needed to have one. How the hell would I get out of this?
I’m such a coward, I thought.
“Mikey I… I feel weird saying it but I keep thinking about those kids, the twins we met a few months ago.”
“Johnny and Jimmy?” he asked.
“Yeah. I don’t know why but I just can’t stop thinking about them.”
“Me too. It felt a little bit like we were looking out for them, you know? Like we were family.”
“Then why are you sad?”
“No idea. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“It’s... it’s because you’re gay, isn’t it?”
“What?” I said, beginning to panic.
“Just tell me the truth,” he pleaded. “Are you gay?”
“I... I...” I’ve got to get the hell out of here I thought as I bolted off the bed. Mikey won’t be able to chase me with his leg cramp.
I sprinted out of Mikey’s room, slamming the door behind me and flew down the stairs, now in full blown panic mode.
Oh god, he knows. He knows and I panicked so there’s no denying it. Will we still be friends? Will he out me to everyone? What am I going to do?
I had just made it to the front door when I heard a loud thud at the foot of the stairs.
“Ah fuck,” Mikey cried out. “Paulie, help! I cramped halfway down the stairs and fell. I can’t stand up.”
He knew I wouldn’t be able to leave. There was no way I’d be willing to abandon him if he was hurt. I turned around to help him, worried that it could be a trick but not willing to leave in case Mikey wasn’t faking. He was on the ground, clutching his leg and I could tell from his face that the pain on his leg was real. At the very least he wouldn’t be able to catch me if I ran away.
“Come here,” he said when he noticed me. “Help me stand up.”
I walked over to him and bent down. I put one hand around his waist and he put one of his arms over my shoulder for support. Just before we got to the stairs Mikey suddenly wrapped both of his arms around my chest and tackled us to the floor.
“What the...? What about your leg?” I asked from underneath Mikey’s chest.
“Fuck the cramp,” Mikey said angrily. “You’re not running away until we talk.”
Mikey was straddling my body past my guard with his legs wrapped around my chest. I could have probably broken his hold because of Mikey’s injury but the genuine look in his eyes stopped me.
“Alright,” I sighed, “but let’s go back to your room first.”
Mikey nodded and rolled off of me. I helped him stand and we walked into his room. As soon as we neared his bed, Mikey wrapped his arms around me in a big hug and threw us onto it.
“Listen,” Mikey said. He paused and before he spoke again he gave a deep sigh. “It makes me sad too. I don’t think I’ll ever have kids to look after like that.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Mikey only gave that sigh when he had a big announcement to make.
“Well because I’m gay, too.” Mikey answered.
“Wait, what?” I exclaimed. Mikey is gay? Is it a trick? It can’t be. He wouldn’t do that to me.
“Yeah. That’s why I wanted you to tell me. I needed to be sure that you were gay too.”
“I’ve suspected for a while now,” Mikey interrupted. “You’re not obvious or anything but no one watches you as much as I do. You’re as gay as I am.”
“How the fuck did you figure it out? And when were you going to tell me?”
“Not much to figure out. Like I said, I know you. The only time you ever talked about girls was when I brought it up to test what you thought about them and when we’re at the mall you spend more time looking at the hot guys than the girls. I was going to tell you when it was the right time. Now seemed good.”
I couldn’t form a coherent sentence. It was as if the world inverted and everything was crazy. It was like the fabric of my universe unraveled and rewove itself into the pattern I had always wanted. It was now or never. I decided to go for broke.
“Mikey… Mikey I lo…”
“I love you too, “he interrupted. “I think we’ve always loved each other. It just took puberty for us to realize we loved each other in every way.”
“How can you…? When did…? What… Why are you so fucking calm!?” I stammered.
“Because I’ve thought about it a lot; my mom and dad know too. They’ve known for a year.”
“And they don’t hate you?”
“No. They pretty much knew already. It also helps when some of our family friends are gay and out of the closet. You know “Uncle” Lenny and “Uncle” Larry?”
“Of course. I love those guys… Wait, they’re gay?”
“Wow.” I was stymied.
I sat there for a few minutes, stunned with the turn of events until Mikey suggested we go to sleep.
I got up, turned off the lights, stripped to my boxer briefs and slipped under the covers. After steeling myself, I reached over and pulled him close. I was finally able to touch his body the way I wanted to. I wrapped my arms around him, spooning up against him and ran my hands across his chest, brushing his nipples and rubbing across his abs. When I reached his treasure trail my dick grew from half mast to full blown hard on. Mikey positioned his body so that my dick was right between his ass cheeks.
“Sorry.” I said, pulling away from him slightly.
“Don’t be. I love it. Here’s proof.”
He used the extra space to turn around in my arms and pulled me close. The sensations I felt when our hard cocks brushed each other was amazing. He touched his forehead to mine and I could feel his devilish smile in the darkness. When I closed my eyes I could see his face in my mind’s eye. I was certain he was smiling and it was because of me.
“Kiss me,” he demanded, as he pulled me on top of him.
We definitely weren’t experienced kissers but we more than made up for it with enthusiasm and passion. The first time we showed our love to each other was amazing. The French kissing, the grinding, the smell and feel of the intermingling sweat between our chests…. I loved it all. Within five minutes we shot our loads. I lay on top of him for a while after, taking in the moment. Then slowly I slipped off and suggested we get totally naked. I helped him remove his boxers, making sure to sneak a grope in and then he took of my boxer briefs and returned the favor. We spooned together again and before I drifted off to sleep I whispered into his ear.
“I love you Mike. I’ve always loved you; and I’ll love you always.”
To be continued…
Next time: coming out to family and another encounter with the twins.