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    Aceinthehole
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The Golden City - 24. A Day in the Life

Chapter 24: A Day in the Life

The rest of the night was the quietest I think I’ve ever seen Adam be. He just seemed so, reflective. A faint smile stayed on his face as he silently laid back on the couch and watched whatever movie he and Dizzy had put on. Every now and again he’d catch my stare, but never said anything. It was like he was at peace. Like tonight had helped show him something.

When it was finally time for bed he made sure to stop me outside my bedroom door. “You know,” He nervously began. “I can tell Mason to skip your game if it makes you feel uncomfortable.”

“I’m totally cool with it.” I shook my head. “Plus, he’s kind of funny. I think it’d be cool to have him around more.”

“You’re sure about that?” Adam asked, but I could tell he was thinking about a lot more than just tomorrow.

“Positive.” I happily nodded my head. “Me and Dizzy really do like him.”

“I’m glad.” Adam’s faint smile grew. “Tonight was really cool Artie. I don’t usually like surprises, but you nailed it. You,” He nervously began once more, carefully planning out his words. “you have a special way of connecting with people. Sarah would be really proud of that.”

“She’d be proud of you too.” I replied, reaching out and giving him a short hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow at my game?”

“I’ll be there.” He said, taking one last look at me before disappearing into his room.

I felt a proud smile take over my face as I went into my own room and got ready for bed. To think, I’m finally breaking down that big bad wall Adam built! I know, it’s felt like this before, but there was something different about tonight. It was almost like he was proud of the way it went. Like it had been something he was waiting for.

--

--

The whole next day at school I couldn’t help but think about that conversation with Adam. I wonder what he meant when he said I connect with people. Before I moved here I was always the quiet kid, and I guess, I kind of still am. But somehow I have so many more friends than I did in Texas! From Dizzy, Ky and Charlotte to the baseball team, it just feels like I’m meant to be here. But that just happened, didn’t it? It’s not anything I did, is it?

“Artie.” A few of the guys cheered as I finally made it down to the school lobby in my gear.

“Ready kid?” Jose asked, always being the first teammate to pull me into conversation.

“Always.” I teased as we all began to make the short walk towards the field. “You know if I’m still leading off today?”

“We’re never moving you from lead off.” Jose shook his head. “Maybe we could bat you before clean up if you keep getting on base, but right now you’re the fastest guy on the team.”

“I don’t know about that.” I uncomfortably swayed my head.

“You are.” One of the other guys encouraged. “You’ve got wheels kids.”

“Which is good because you don’t have much power!” Another team member playfully teased.

“Yeah.” Jose agreed with a nod. “We gotta get you in the weight room more.”

“I can lift as often as you guys want me too,” I began with a smile. “but trust me, I’ll never gain a pound.”

“Then I guess we’re lucky you’ve got hustle.” Jose supported, not wanting me to doubt myself.

Yet as I saw the familiar group hanging out near the entrance of the field I couldn’t help but miss Jose’s words. “Kill ‘em today Artie.” Dizzy cheered before he, Ky and Charlotte slipped into the nice high school stadium.

“You really friends with that kid?” One of the guys asked me as I noticed Jose staring off.

“Well yeah, we’re kind of dating.” I admitted with a blush.

“You’re nuts.” The guy doubled down with a playful smile. “He’d drive me nuts.”

“I always thought he was funny.” One of the other guys encouraged. “He jumped through a window during Jacob’s class.” He explained as the group around him began to laugh. “I thought Jacobs was gonna lose his shit.”

“What do you think Jose?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“About?” Jose asked, as he continued to stare at where my friend group was standing.

“Nothing.” I shook my head. “You alright?”

“Your one friend, she dating anyone?” Jose prodded as he drew some Ooh’s from the team.

“Maybe.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Depends why you’re asking.”

“She’s fine!” Jose remarked, continuing to live in his own world

“You always did like those artsy girls.” Someone teased as they gave him a light shove.

“Chill.” He laughed, finally turning back to me. “If you can, put in a good word for me. I don’t play with girls, I promise.”

“No, he’s one of those genuine guys.” Another one of our teammates complained.

“He doesn’t believe in hook ups.” Someone else mocked in a laugh, clearly enjoying the chance to pile on Jose.

“I don’t.” He insisted. “You guys are a bunch of pigs.”

“Oink oink motherfucker.” One of the guys cheered causing the team to explode into laugh as we finally reached the dugout.

“Alright men,” Coach Reynolds quieted us down as we all piled in. “you’ve had your fun and games, it’s time to get serious now.”

“Game time!” Someone shouted as hoots and hollers began to ring out from the group.

“Hell yeah it is.” Coach Reynolds agreed as the normal electricity began to run through the group. Slowly but surely everyone grew serious as we all put our game faces on. Guys still goofed around with one another, but it was a lot quieter and encouraging than before. Just enough to push someone’s buttons while at the same time showing you’ve got their back. And that, it’s what I’ve really grown to love about being on this team.

It wasn’t much longer before I found myself throwing on a helmet and grabbing my bat. Just like every game before a notorious country song chosen by my teammates began to blast over the speakers. I know they probably just picked the most popular country song they could find for my walk up, but god damn did they nail it.

’Cause a country boy is all I’ll ever be.” I quietly sang to myself as I scanned the crowd and found both Adam and Mason sitting a row in front of my friends. I gave a nod to Adam before I stepped into the batter’s box and began to focus on my breathing.

“You from the south number twelve?” The ump asked me, knowing it would be another moment or two before the pitcher properly took the mound.

“Texas sir.” I replied, looking back towards him.

“I expect a show from you tonight then.” The ump teased before letting me focus back on the moment. After another moment I lifted my bat up to my shoulder and the pitcher stepped up. I took one more breath and before I knew it, found myself starting another close at bat.

I drew some hollers from my dug out as I fought off every close pitch and worked a full count.

“Keep battling!” Jose shouted as the eighth pitch of the at bat came my way. “You’re wearing him out.”

I nodded but called time to regain my composure before the next pitch could come my way. Yet as I picked my head back up I noticed the pitcher staring me down, and I happily mirrored the look back.

As the next pitch finally came my way I noticed it heading right for my arm before breaking away and flying behind me.

“You’re a big man, ain’t ya?” Jose immediately began to shout at their pitcher.

“First batters got ya rattled!” Another teammate shouted, as they began to rally around me.

“No!” The ump shouted towards the mound. “We’re not pitching like that today! Don’t make me warn the benches already!”

This time I made sure to initiate a stare down as I pulled the bat up to my shoulder. This time when I saw the pitch coming in I locked in and drilled it right past the pitcher and down the middle of the field. I felt a proud smile cover my face as I comfortably took first and pointed towards the bench.

I heard some shouts from the crowd, but ignored them. I know they’re trying to help, but I don’t need any encouragement right now. If I play my game right now, we could take over early.

As the next batter stepped up I made sure to keep the focus on me. I took a bigger lead than normal and grabbed the pitchers attention whenever I could. Finally, as my teammate went down two strikes I made a break to steal second. Rattled even more by my actions the pitcher over threw his catcher and once more easily gave me a base.

After another heated stare down he tried to recompose himself, but my plan was already running in full affect. With a swing of his bat my teammate launched the next pitch deep into the outfield, sending me home and putting him on second.

I could feel the energy building as I made it back to an exhilarated dug out. Suddenly their shouts felt a lot more real, and soon enough we had a five nothing lead in the first.

“That’s cause of you!” Coach Reynolds shouted, giving me a strong push. “Artie’s set the level boys, you all better play up to it.”

I tried my hardest to hide my smile and play serious, but it just wasn’t working. Pretty soon the tension building on our end turned into nothing but pure excitement as we continued to run the score up. I couldn’t help but give the opposing pitcher a small wave goodbye from the dug out as we chased him off the mound. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the best sportsmanship, but it’ll fuel my team, and that’s what I’m here for!

I managed to play solid in the field, and even draw another single and walk before we walked away with an 8-2 win. Yet, my stats didn’t really seem to matter all that much to me. I was a lot more focused on getting my team started, or just having fun with the game!

“That’s what getting off to a strong start does for you!” Coach shouted as we all huddled in close. “Artie gives us a hell of an at bat to start, then you all rally around him. This is what a winning team does, and it’s what this team has done so far this season. I know going into it, we had a lot of doubters, but this team can make the playoffs. I strongly believe that.” Coach encouraged as everyone began to shout. “Now enjoy your Friday night, you all earned it.”

“Hell yeah!” Jose gave me an excited shove as we finally made our way out of the dugout. “Another game, another rally started by Artie Price.”

“I just play my game is all.” I shrugged as a blush began on my face.

“You do a lot more than that.” Jose shook his head. “You’re our spark man, and we’ve been missing that for a while.”

“Lots of season left.” I shrugged, but quickly noticed Jose’s attention drift to Charlotte as my group patiently waited outside the stadium. “I could introduce you two right now if you want.”

“Nah.” He quickly rejected. “I’m nasty right now, Monday if you can,”

“Stop by Mrs. Mowry’s homeroom and I’ll see what I can do.” I smiled as he gave me another pat on the back.

“You’re the man Artie Price.” He encouraged as we went our separate ways.

“So, was the game worth going to?” I began as I reached Adam and Mason.

Mason nodded his head as he looked me up and down. “I was expecting you to be a leadoff hitter, but I didn’t think you’d be “that” kind of player.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, as he carefully thought it over.

“I just didn’t expect you to be such a competitor.” He shrugged his shoulders and let out a laugh. “You play with a lot of edge.”

“Does he?” Adam asked, not noticing the same thing.

“You started just as many stare downs as that pitcher.” Mason observed. “And I saw that wave you hit him with.”

“Just doing what I need to.” I blushed with a proud smile.

“I like it.” He approved, glancing to Adam before looking back to me. “It’s good to see you’re a heart and soul kind of player.”

“So I guess this won’t be the last game you go to?” Adam asked as he drew Mason’s attention.

“If that’s cool with Artie.” Mason led as I nodded once more. “Then there you have it.”

“Alright.” Adam laughed as a grin started on his face. “Why don’t we talk about this more over dinner?”

“Actually,” I began, looking over to Dizzy. “Dizzy and I we’re thinking we’d grab dinner with everyone and that you guys could just start your date night a little earlier.”

“We’re getting ditched?” Mason laughed, as his eyes came back to me.

“Don’t take it too hard.” I played along. “We’ve just decided to go with another choice tonight. I’m sure you’ll have more luck next time.”

“High schoolers are mean.” Adam teased, but I could tell he was excited to have even more one on one time with Mason. “Seriously though, are you guys okay on your own?”

“Mhm.” I hummed as he quickly took out some money. “Take it.” He insisted as he forced the money towards me. “Have a fun safe night.”

“We will.” I nodded as I finally got the money into my hand. “You two too, you know.”

“Oh please.” Adam dismissed.

“Don’t miss your curfew!” I shouted as they began to walk away. “You have work tomorrow!”

“They grow up so fast.” Dizzy taunted as we watched them turn the corner. “Wait, weren’t they taking us to dinner? Don’t they owe us!”

“Relax, Adam left us money for dinner.” I rolled my eyes. “But I told them we’d rather go out with Ky and Charlotte so they can have space.”

“Fine.” He exhaled, turning back towards them.

“Wait!” I exclaimed as I grabbed his arm. “I didn’t actually mean that stupid!” I exclaimed as a blush formed on his face. “Unless you’d rather,”

“No.” He quickly shot down. “A night alone with you sounds perfect to me.”

“You have the night planned after all, don’t you?” I teased with a smile.

“I do.” He confidently lied. “Just not the dinner part.”

“Alright, well how’s take out sound?” I asked, but could tell I had lost him to his own world.

“Just fine.” He replied as we finally rejoined the group.

“Great game.” Ky encouraged as we all began to walk towards my house. “You really do work hard.”

“You do.” Charlotte agreed as she lightly bumped me. “I totally thought you were going to get in a fight though.”

“No one was going to fight me.” I giggled as we began to walk slightly ahead of Ky and Dizzy.

“You don’t know that.” Charlotte shook her head. “What would you have even done?”

“Stood my group.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Until the guys could get my back that is. I mean, Jose, he would totally kick their asses.”

“Which one’s Jose?” She asked, shooting me a confused look.

“The one I’m always talking to, my best friend on the team.” I tried to jog her memory.

“Well yeah, I remember you talking about him.” She rolled here eyes. “But I don’t remember what he looks like.”

“He’s in our gym class.” I sighed, realizing just how hard setting them up would be.

“Doesn’t ring a bell.” She shrugged her shoulders.

“I’m surprised, he’s kind of your type.” I tried to encourage. “Totally muscular and friendly.”

“I learned a long time ago not to pay attention to boys who don’t pay attention to me.” She lied as she let her eyes drift away from me.

“What if this one pays attention to you?” I temped as she immediately looked back at me.

“What are you trying to say Artie?” She asked as her gaze narrowed in on me.

“Well maybe this one notices you.” I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s just a maybe.”

“What do you know?” She pressured. “Remember we promised no secrets!”

“It’s not really a secret.” I swayed my head. “Just maybe I can introduce you two Monday morning.”

“Maybe I’d like that.” She nodded her head. “You really think he’d like me?”

“What’s there not to like?” I supported as I forced a smile on my face.

“I love you Artie Price.” She laughed as we finally reached my house. “Do you guys want to grab dinner with me and Ky?”

“I would,” I hesitated as we patiently waited for them to catch up. “but Adam is out tonight and we just,”

“I get it.” She cut off as my cheeks began to turn red. “House to yourselves after getting all that testosterone flowing in the game.”

“Why do you have to make it sound so weird?” I groaned as my blush grew brighter.

“I couldn’t help it.” She giggled. “Is he as good as his reputation says?”

“Charlotte,” I sighed, but could feel her eyes focusing in as he grew closer. “Yeah.” I submitted, drawing a loud laugh from her as they finally arrived.

“Come on Ky,” She began as she regained composure. “I think I’ve decided where I want to eat tonight.”

“I don’t even get a say?” He groaned, looking at us for help.

“Nope.” She shook her head.

“Well do those two at least,”

“Nope.” She repeated, grabbing his arm and dragging him towards the bus stop. “Bye boys!”

“Bye.” We managed out as Ky gave us a wave before trying to pull away from her.

“What was that about?” Dizzy laughed, letting me lead him up the stairs.

“Nothing.” I shot back as he shot me a curious look. “She’s just hungry.”

“You told her we have the night alone.” He grinned as I finally got the door open.

“Our conversations don’t revolve around dating you.” I rolled my eyes, letting my bag fall off my shoulder the second we stepped inside.

“You totally told her!” He continued to pressure. “You probably told her we’re gonna hook up! Well jokes on you,” He began in a playful voice. “because we’re not.”

“That’s fine.” I replied, trying not to pay his game too much attention. “Because I didn’t tell her anything.” I continued to deny.

“I hope not, because you’d look like a liar.” He crossed his arms and took a seat on the couch.

“Okay.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Then why don’t you order something while I go shower?”

“I will.” He insisted as I handed him the money. As our eyes connected, I could see his stubborn attitude growing but simply turned away. He can say what he wants, there’s no way I’m admitting what I tell Charlotte!

“You know,” He began realizing I wasn’t going to give in easily. “I could use a shower too, maybe if you just shared what you told Charlotte, we could save water.”

“I didn’t tell her anything. Besides, it doesn’t sound like you’re in the mood.” I played stupid as I flashed him an innocent smile. “I don’t want to force you or anything.”

“Come on Artie.” He pressured as I headed towards the stairs.

“What?” I asked, continuing to play dumb as I unbuttoned my jersey on the way to the stairs.

“You think you’re so slick.” He teased, letting himself sink further into the couch. “You think you’ll take off your shirt and get me to drop it. It’s not working!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I shook my head, pausing on the stairs “If this is still about Charlotte, I didn’t tell her anything.”

“Okay.” He forced out, but as I continued to walk up the stairs I could hear him start to follow. “So if it wasn’t about us, what were you talking to Charlotte about?” He asked, stopping in the doorway of my room.

“It’s private.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Why are you being so weird?”

“Because I see through your lies Arthur Price!” He shouted, trying his hardest to start another game.

“Maybe I see through your lies too.” I teased, looking over to him.

“Yeah right.” He rolled his eyes.

“I see through your games too.” I continued to taunt, this time unbuttoning my baseball pants and letting them drop.

“I’m not playing any games.” He tried to insist, but I could tell I had him on the ropes.

“Alright, then I look forward to whatever you order.” I smiled, making sure to kiss him on the cheek as I pushed by him. I refused to turn back as I walked towards the bathroom but knew his eyes were on me.

“I hate you so much.” He sighed, drawing a loud laugh from me.

“You had me worried there for a minute.” I smiled as he followed me into the bathroom. “I almost thought you weren’t in the mood.”

“I’ve been in the mood since you walked down the stairs this morning.” He admitted, slowing his pace as he took his own clothes off. “For the record, I don’t actually care what you tell Charlotte, because I tell Ky the same stuff.”

“You better not.” I giggled as he pulled me in close.

“I do,” Dizzy began to tease. “he asked me to record our next session for him.”

“Session?” I repeated, slightly pulling away.

“What else do you want to call it?” He smirked. “I mean I don’t blame him. How could you not want to see me in action?”

“I could think of a few reasons.” I mocked, pulling him in close once more.

“Ha ha.” He sarcastically bit, before leaning in and stealing a kiss from my lips. “I can’t think of any at all.” He began as he threw on his low flirty tone. “You may be new, but you’re a natural.” He continued, knowing exactly how to wrap me around his finger.

“Am I actually good?” I asked, having a hard time not playing right into his hand.

“You’re the best I’ve ever had.” He encouraged, and just like that our focus was no longer on the shower.

For all the games he plays, for all the times he wants to do nothing but make people laugh, well, he also has this other side hidden away. This flirtatiously overwhelming side that smooth talks me right into his plans. There’s no doubt he wasn’t even trying with his game downstairs. Because now, well he knows exactly how to speak my language.

“You know,” Dizzy began as we finally started to dry off. “we can just do this all night long.” He let out a laugh as I shot him a serious look. “Honestly, I could go another few rounds with you.”

“You’re such a bullshitter.” I cackled, knowing he was just as tapped out as me.

“I’m not.” He insisted with a smile. “I look at you and it’s like, damn.” He continued to compliment. “Just look at you.” He continued but let out a sigh as I began to get dressed. “Why are you in such a rush?”

“Because you decided to order the food already.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m sure the delivery man does not want us to open the door and him find us in bath towels.”

“Maybe not him.” Dizzy stepped up and pulled me close once more. “But anyone who doesn’t want to see you in a bath towel is a fool.” I let him hold me tightly for a few more moments until I realized if I didn’t pull away now I never would. “So close.” He complained, realizing how difficult it was for me to snap out of his spell.

“Put some clothes on.” I rolled my eyes and started to head towards the doorway.

As Dizzy finally got changed I rushed down stairs just in time to catch the delivery man. When Dizzy came down to join me, he carried that same flirtatious energy he used to win me over. At first, I thought he was looking for round four, but pretty soon I realized he was just trying to be sweet. That he was just trying to make our night alone even more romantic.

“Alright.” I began as we finished up dinner. “So what’s the plan for your big rebellious night?”

Dizzy shrugged his shoulders and stood up before quietly making his way towards the kitchen. There was some clinking of glasses until he finally returned with a wide smile and the leftover of Adam and Mason’s wine.

“That’s your big plan?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

“This and a movie.” He replied, placing everything down on the coffee table. “You can even pick.”

“Really.” I pressured in a laugh. “What are we doing tonight?” I watched the smile fade from his face as he scrambled to think of something else. “I mean this is fine,” I quickly tried to correct. “if this is what you wanted to do, I’m okay with it.”

“I just figured it’d be a fight to even get you to take a sip of wine.” Dizzy shrugged, shooting me a confused look. “Plus I thought you’d like a quiet night in.”

“We’ve had a ton of quiet nights in.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I want to see what a night in Dizzy Armstrong’s shoes is like.”

“Well I can do that!” He exclaimed as he jumped to his feet. He quickly grabbed his dark green flight jacket off the table before handing it to me. “Here.”

“What’s this for?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

“You want to be me for a night, that’s how it starts.” He teased, motioning for me to put it on.

“When’s the last time you washed it?” I cautiously asked as I threw it on. “You wear it like every day.”

“You wash jackets?” He asked as he threw on my sweatshirt.

I rolled my eyes but felt a smile overtake my face. “What’s next?”

“That Artie, is a surprise.” He smirked as he led me towards the door. “This is your chance to back out.”

“Well I’m not.” I shrugged my shoulders, but felt my heart race in my chest as my mind flooded with different warnings. What the hell are you doing Artie? You’re a good Christian boy, remember that? You never get in trouble! You’ve never even had a detention! And now you’re going to dive headfirst into a San Francisco night with Dizzy?

“You can’t say no to whatever we do.” He teased, seeing how far he could push me.

“You’re not getting rid of me.” I forced out, refusing to let my worries keep me from my first real adventure.

“Alright.” He accepted, pushing the door open and leading me out. “Prepare for a new side of San Francisco.”

I nodded my head but stayed quiet as he grabbed my hand and led me to the bus stop. As soon as we hopped on the bus Dizzy refused to tell me where we we’re going. Instead he took out his headphones and handed me one. Just like always fast paced punk music blasted through as Dizzy prepared for another day in his life.

“Don’t freak out,” Dizzy warned as we hopped off the bus and began to walk down the street. “I just need to grab a backpack.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, but the second he stopped in front of a familiar house I froze. “No.” I quickly began.

“What did I say about saying no?” He asked with a wide smile.

“Yeah, but, but you didn’t say we’d be stopping at your house!” I cried, trying my hardest to keep my voice down. “What if your mom’s boyfriend is home?”

“It’s a Friday night,” Dizzy rolled his eyes. “he’s out drinking.”

“And if she’s home?” I asked, with a skeptical look.

“She’ll probably try to have some big deep talk but I’ll just tell her I’m not ready.” He shrugged as he began to walk towards the door. “It’s still my house Artie. Besides, I could use some more clothes.”

“Fine, just please, hurry.” I encouraged and just like that he quickly made his way to the door and slipped inside. The longer he spent in there the faster my heart began to race, until finally he appeared with a big smirk on his face.

“Told you it’d be fine.” He teased as he grabbed my hand and started leading me back up the street. “I thought you were going to be brave tonight.”

“I am going to be brave.” I forced out. “That just felt like a big risk, ya know?”

“I guess so.” He swayed his head. “But it all worked out, plus, I even nabbed us a surprise for later.”

“Is it alcohol?” I exhaled in a heavy breath.

“You’ll see.” He giggled, stretching his shoulders to make his bag rattle.

I rolled my eyes, but things grew quiet again as Dizzy began to weave us between alley ways. “Alright.” He began in a whisper. “Put this over your face.” He instructed as he handed me a black face mask.

“What’s it for?” I hesitated as he slipped a yellow one over his own face.

“Why? You getting scared again?” He teased, even with the mask on I could see the grin on his face.

“No.” I lied, quickly throwing on the mask.

“We’re just gonna tag.” He finally answered. “Nothing big either, just start it tonight.”

“Oh.” I exhaled as he reached into his back pack and took out a few cans of spray-paint. “How do you know we won’t get caught?”

“I don’t.” He spoke, just as confidentially as ever. He flicked the cap off of a green can and just like that, was off to work. “Want to try?” He asked but I just shook my head.

“I’m not an artist.” I replied, watching in awe as he started to put a piece together.

“We’re all artists.” He began to lecture as he switched to a red. “Your art may be on a field, and mine may be in an alley, but that’s okay. We’re still artists.”

“You sure about that?” I asked, seeing what else he’d say.

“Of course.” He nodded without hesitation. “It’s how we express ourselves. It’s how we show who we are. It’s how we declare we’re alive!”

“And what about those people who don’t express themselves?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“They stopped living.” He shrugged his shoulders, starting to shape out a large rose. I felt another smile grow on my face as I sat back and just watched him create. I couldn’t tell you how long we were there, maybe it was just thirty minutes, maybe it was two hours, but there was something magical about the way Dizzy worked. Something magical about seeing him finally take something serious.

“There you go.” He exhaled as he stood up and took a step back. “A flower for my man.”

“It’s beautiful.” I played along as I wrapped my arm around him.

“It needs one last touch.” He decided as he uncapped a black color and got to work again. Before I knew it he drew the familiar tornado from his bedroom before a plus sign and a rigid cowboy hat. “Now it’s perfect.” He stated as he took another step back.

“You’re really good at this, you know that?” I supported as he began to pack up his stuff.

“Then you need to see some more.” He shook his head. “Because this is nothing!” He exclaimed before excitedly zipping up his bag, grabbing my hand and pulling me away. Once more we darted through quiet alleys before we finally remerged at a busy street corner.

“There.” He pointed out to a large mural on a wall. “That took a good month, and a lot of creativity.”

“How didn’t you get caught?” I exhaled, amazed at a vivid depiction of a sunrise over the city, a small tornado sitting in the corner.

“That’s where the creativity came in.” He replied without putting too much thought into it.

“You’re not going to share?” I asked with a fake pout.

“Let’s just say, people hate street art until you bring it home to them.” He cryptically answered before leading me back towards the bus stop.

“You had to add San Francisco so they’d keep it.” I quickly solved with a proud smile.

“A good artist never reveals his tricks.” Dizzy said, keeping his eyes straight ahead.

“Isn’t that magicians?” I teased in a laugh.

“We might all be the same thing,” He spoke, keeping his upbeat attitude. “Because damn do I make some magic happen with my spray paint.”

“You’re so cocky.” I shook my head, before leaning over and landing a kiss on his cheek.

“What was that for?” He blushed, finally looking over to me.

“For my rose.” I answered as his smile grew.

We let things grow quiet once more as we patiently waited at another bus stop. “Hear that?” Dizzy asked as sirens began to sound. “They’re looking for us.”

“Really?” I asked as my heart began to race, but as his laughter filled the air I couldn’t help but give him a shove. “Jerk!”

“I had you there for a minute.” He giggled, as he pulled me in close. “I totally would’ve turned you in.”

“I’d like to see you try.” I provoked as our bus finally pulled up. He flashed me a quick wink before leading me onto the bus, and just like that another trip full of music was underway.

“Home already?” I asked as we pulled up to another familiar stop.

“This next activity is probably best done near your house.” He explained, once more refusing to give anything away.

“Alrighty then.” I cautiously accepted as he led me deep into the park. He took a careful look around until finally deciding on a quiet spot up near the top of the hill hidden by some of the trees. “What are we doing here?” I asked as he began to reach into his bag once more.

“Finally christening you as a true Californian.” He giggled as he pulled out a thin white cigarette.

“No.” I quickly shook my head. “Nicotine gives you cancer.”

“Well lucky for you this is some beautiful, organically grown, naturally sourced Mary Jane.” He explained, offering it to me. I shot him a confused look as I lightly took it from his hand. “It’s weed.” He clarified as he saw the confusion on my face.

“Dizzy.” I groaned, quickly handing it back to him. “No.” I shook my head. “Where did you even get that?”

“From my Mom’s room.” He began to smirk once more. “Come on, you wanted your night of rebellion.”

“Yeah but,”

“But what?” He cut me off. “You were willing to drink wine. You know, you can overdose on alcohol, you can’t overdose on weed.”

“So what?” I rolled my eyes. “Now you’re some kind of hippie.”

“Nope.” He shook his head. “I’ve never actually smoked weed before, but I figure, I figure if you want a night as rebels, I’d give that to you.”

“Aren’t you scared?” I asked, taking another close look at the tightly wrapped roll in his hand.

“A little bit.” He confessed as the smile faded from his face. “But my Mom’s smoked for years and been fine, and from what Adam said at dinner, it sounds like he’s smoked since he was our age.”

“I don’t want to be that kind of guy though.” I nervously began. “Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just, I don’t’ want to smoke my life away.”

“Okay.” Dizzy slowly nodded. “We smoke tonight together and then not again until we’re twenty-one.” I slowly nodded my head as he began to win me over. “Then after that, not again until our wedding day.”

“Wedding day?” I repeated in a giggle.

“You got that right.” He encouraged as his confidence began to return. “Mark it down on your calendar.”

“I will.” I answered as he slowly took out a lighter from his bag.

“So you’re in?” He checked as he began to flick the lighter on and off.

“You told me I wasn’t allowed to say no to anything tonight.” I teased as my heart began to race. “So let’s do it.”

He flashed me a devious grin before he put it to his lips, and began to light it. After a second he quickly began to cough the smoke out and handed it to me. “The best part of this,” He began as I tried to mirror his actions. “is it’s even less risky than tagging. You’re not supposed to, but people smoke all the time in this park and the cops don’t do shit.”

I nodded but was a lot more focused on the burning smoke I was pulling into my body. All it took was a few second for me to start coughing double what dizzy had.

“You alright?” Dizzy patted me on the back as he took it from me. I nodded as he took his hit.

“People think this is fun?” I groaned as he handed it back to me.

“I don’t know about this part.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I think it’s the whole being high thing they like.”

“We’ll see about that.” I replied, as I took my second hit.

Things grew quiet as Dizzy began to play some music from his phone and we continued to go back and forth with the thin cigarette.

“I’m done.” I decided as I handed it back to him and let myself rest against the tree we were under.

“Me too.” He nodded as he licked his fingers and quickly put it out. “So how was smoking your first joint?”

“Joint?” I repeated as the lights around the trees above seemed to slowly pulse.

“That’s what weed cigarettes are called.” He clarified, as he let himself lean against me. “What do you think is up there?” He asked, faintly pointing towards the sky.

“Heaven.” I answered without hesitation. “Just look at it.” I shook my head, looking away from the lights and up to whatever stars were trying to show in the city lit night sky. “You have to see a real night sky Dizzy, this, it barely even scratches the surface.”

“Still kind of amazing though, isn’t it?” He continued to ask. “Think, that darkness, it might just go on forever and ever.”

“I don’t think so.” I continued to reject.

“Why not?” He probed, quickly look back at me.

“Because think about how complicated everything down here is.” I began. “Think about all the veins in your arm, that, that just doesn’t happen by chance.”

“So God did it?” Dizzy tempted, believing he already knew my answer.

“Maybe.” I shrugged my shoulders. “But even if He didn’t, someone had to. Something had to. Just look at all of this,” I kept encouraging. “how could it all be for nothing?”

“I agree.” He proudly smiled. “I, I don’t know if I believe in a God, but we’re made from the same materials found out in space. That has mean something.”

I nodded and once more we both fell quiet, simply listening to the music playing from his phone and just enjoying the new sensation. I can’t say I felt this huge overwhelming feeling the way some people describe drugs, I just kind of felt, peaceful. It was like it was just Dizzy and me, and suddenly nothing else mattered.

“I think I want to talk over everything with my Mom.” Dizzy suddenly announced as he turned towards me.

“About smoking?” I asked, not catching on to what he said.

“No.” Dizzy giggled. “Although she would totally be cool with it. God, I want to smoke with her one day too.”

“Not until after our wedding day.” I warned, as our eyes connected.

“Not until after our wedding day.” He agreed. “But I mean, about everything that happened, ya know?”

“Oh.” I finally caught on. “Are you ready for that?”

“I think so.” He forced a nod. “But I, I want you and Adam both to be there.”

“Done.” I supported as I slumped over and began to lay on his shoulder.

“Will Adam be okay with that?” He asked in a faint voice.

“Are you kidding?” I asked with a soft smile. “He’ll totally be cool with it. He loves you man.”

“You’re sure about that?” Dizzy continued to question.

“One hundred percent.” I answered, forcing myself up to give him a light kiss on the lips. “We’ll always be here for you.”

“Is that the weed or you talking?” Dizzy shot me a cautious look.

“Maybe the weed is helping me say it,” I swayed my head. “but I promise you it’s true.”

“You’re something special Artie Price.” Dizzy exhaled, pulling me even closer. “I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t come along.”

“Neither do I.” I admitted without hesitation.

This time when things grew quiet, there was even more peace than before. I could feel our connection growing even stronger with every passing second. If there was any question of how hard we were falling for one another, well I think we’ve finally got our answer. We’re head over heels and neither of us are planning on changing that any time soon.

Copyright © 2018 Aceinthehole; All Rights Reserved.

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I like graffiti art, especially murals on boring walls. But I don't like the territorial tagging. Among model railroaders, the subject is more volatile than religion and politics where many modelers want their miniature world scrubbed clean of any hint of graffiti and many others appreciating the beauty and uniqueness that graffiti adds to their recreation of reality (model railroaders tend to be older and more ‘nostalgic’ than the general population). I think there are at least parallels between graffiti culture and the LGBTQ community – and connections beyond Keith Haring.  ;–)

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I listen to very little country music. Mostly crossover stuff like John Denver (Thank God I’m a Country Boy!), Eagles, kd lang, and a few others. But radio stations in the ‘70s used to play a much wider variety of genres even if they only played the Top 40 hits. Things weren’t quite so walled off and segregated in the good old days.  ;–)

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This chapter highlights how Artie has blossomed since joining Adam's household and how open he's become to new experiences (excepting, of course, for his inexplicable aversion to fish sushi 🤗). He's surrounded by love and friendship, but I can't help remembering that the evil grandparents are still out there waiting to destroy his new life.  The chapter was sweet, but the suspense (waiting for the ax to fall) is killing me!

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49 minutes ago, travlbug said:

his inexplicable aversion to fish sushi

I was born in California and have only lived here and in Hawaii. I refuse to eat fish because we had it so often when I was growing up. I will eat certain types of sushi, but none of the forms with fish or most other kinds of seafood. I’ll ingest my micro-pellets of plastic some other way.  ;–)

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Nice chapter and I am glad that Artie is finding his place in California.   Now just have to wait for the other shoe to drop when the asshole grandparents step back into his life.  Thanks. 

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I think this is one of the best chapters of the story so far. I’m glad that Artie is settling in real well with Adam, he seems to have been awakened since arriving in San Francisco to live with Adam as was spelled out in her will. I’m glad that Artie got the positive attitude that he would see in his mom, and he knows that she wouldn’t want him to be sitting around moping and crying 😢 all the time. Mary gave him the right tools to help him in life and he’s using those tools to make his own way in his life, since coming to live with Adam Artie has made new friends gained a boyfriend and he’s a starter for the school baseball team. Artie even set up a date night for Adam and the guy who waited on them when Adam took him to the first gay tavern in the Bay Area. Great chapter and story, can’t wait for more. :worship: :2thumbs:

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Another great chapter Aceinthehole. 

You have a unique ability to connect and portray  both young and young-adult mind sets.

What  a wonderful story.  I wonder if this serenity is going to be upset anytime soon.

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