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    Altimexis
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Crossroads: Tales from the Heartland - 6. A Fresh Start

The sound of my alarm clock was a very rude awakening to the fact that summer was over. The first day of school was always an exciting time for me as I was a pretty good student, but it also signaled the end of carefree days and the escape from the constant teasing and taunting that went along with school. Ever since I could remember, I got teased for being different, but I wasn’t the only one. Almost all the other kids had parents who worked for a living. Me, well, my parents were young and still in school. In fact this would be the very first year in my life that I had a parent who was finally working full time.

’Course the main reason for that was that my dad was a doctor and it takes a long time for doctors to finish learning how to be doctors. Mom was 28 and Dad was 29 years old and, since I’m twelve, obviously that means they were only sixteen and seventeen when I was born. They conceived me when Mom was only fifteen and Dad was sixteen, when they were both sophomores at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis. Although they won’t talk to me about it and I don’t really want to know, I’m pretty sure they were doing it with each other since they were not much older than I am now. They started dating in the seventh grade - the very same grade I was about to start. Obviously they used protection or I would have been born a whole lot sooner.

“Corry, are you up?” Mom shouted through the door as she knocked. She knew better than to open the door as she did when I was little. Since my twelfth birthday I’d been sleeping in the nude, sometimes on top of the sheets, ’cause I get hot real easily. Having Mom see me naked like that was definitely not something I wanted and she sure got an earful the first time she checked in on me after I turned twelve. I got a good talking to about telling my mother to ‘get the fuck out’ and, in return, she agreed that I was nearly a teenager now and needed my privacy.

“Yeah, Mom, I’m up,” I shouted back as I dragged myself out of bed, tugged on yesterday’s boxers from off the floor and headed across the hall to begin my morning ritual. Although the other kids teased me for having such young parents, particularly when I started middle school and sex was on everyone’s mind, I loved my parents. It took a lot of courage for them to have me so young. It would have been much easier for them to have had an abortion. Fuck, I wasn’t sure I would have had me under the circumstances.

The thing was that my parents really, really loved each other. They weren’t just high school sweethearts - they were middle school sweethearts and, by the time Mom became pregnant with me, they’d already been dating for more than three years. My parents have been together longer than most marriages last. Hell, they got married in high school, right before I was born, as a sign of the commitment Dad was making to raising me, even as he pursued his career. Mom and Dad stuck it out through the toughest of times, through the end of high school, Dad’s years in college and medical school, and through his internship and residency. Man, we hardly ever saw Dad during those last few years and when we did, he was half asleep.

Mom, for her part, was a stay-at-home mom while Dad worked on becoming a doctor. My grandparents, Mom’s parents, raised me while Mom and Dad finished high school, ’til I was sixteen months old, then Mom stayed home with me and raised me until I entered the first grade. At that point Mom went to school part time in the nursing school at IUPUI, the Indianapolis campus for Indiana and Purdue universities, which was also where Dad went to medical school.

Mom took her time working on her nursing degree, ’cause she didn’t want it to interfere with her time with me, but last year she came to the point in her training when she had to go to school full time. She was down to her final year and it was time for her to do her clinicals, which meant working full shifts in hospitals. She thought about postponing it and doing her clinicals after Dad finished the final year of his residency in Family Practice, but I told her in no uncertain terms to go for it. I was eleven and entering middle school and I could take care of myself.

It was a nice thought but my parents weren’t having any of that. A number of my friends were ‘latchkey’ kids, but my parents weren’t about to let me be on my own until I was at least twelve. So with a little financial help from both sets of grandparents, they hired a baby sitter for me. Actually, the grandparents had been providing financial help all along, but hiring someone to take care of me, even if he was just a kid, took even more money. So they hired Jeff, a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore, to watch me until Mom got home from doing her clinicals.

Sometimes Mom had to work nights and during those times, I either stayed over with one or other set of grandparents or, in the few instances when they all were away, Jeff would stay the night. I shuddered thinking about that as the hot water cascaded over my naked body this morning in the shower. It brought back some memories I wished I could forget. The thing was, I enjoyed the things Jeff and I did - just not the way he made me do them. I still woke up at night sometimes, gasping for breath thinking his hands were around my neck.

I’d always liked Jeff and thought he was a cool kid but what he did to me was not cool at all. I never did tell my parents about it - not even after Jeff died. I still felt a lot of guilt about what happened during his final month in high school - that maybe somehow I could have helped him in spite of the way I hated him for what he did to me.

“Morning Mom,” I called out as I plopped myself down in one of the dining room chairs. The house we were renting was too small to have an eat-in kitchen, but that was OK. It would be a very long time before we could pay off Dad’s student loans and I’d prolly be in college by the time they could afford to buy a house. The important thing was that my parents loved me without question. No matter what, Mom always took the time to prepare a real breakfast for me.

“Could I have some coffee?” I asked with the most innocent expression I could muster.

Turning around to look at me, she answered, “I know some of your friends are probably already drinking coffee, but you’re only twelve. Not ’til you’re thirteen, young man.”

Shrugging my shoulders, I started in on the orange juice, pancakes and sausage Mom had prepared for me.

“Are you excited about starting the year in a new school?” Mom asked.

Again shrugging my shoulders, I replied, “More like terrified, actually.” I was being honest. After all, what kid isn’t terrified on the first day in a new school?

Again turning to look me in the eyes, Mom responded, “Honey, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Just think of it as a fresh start. I know last year was hard on you with all the teasing and bullying but, here in Kokomo, things will be different. For one thing, Dad’s a real doctor now and that alone should lay to rest all the comments about you being your parents’ teddy bear.

“Besides that, I’ll finish my masters degree the end of this year and, then, I’ll join Dad as a nurse in his practice while I work on certification as a nurse practitioner. Once I’m an NP, we’ll have a lot more money… maybe even enough to buy a house.

“Besides, most of the kids are going to be as frightened as you feel and worried about what you think of them,” she continued, “not about the fact that your parents are so young…”

“Give it time, Mom,” I countered. “Eventually the teasing will start again.”

“Only if you let it get to you like before,” Mom challenged. “When the kids see you don’t care what they think, what little teasing there may be will stop. Show them a new, confident you and they’ll respect you. Like I said, this is a fresh start… a chance for you to start anew. No one here knows about what happened in Indianapolis and, unless you tell them, they don’t need to know. And who knows… maybe you’ll find a girlfriend.”

With a laugh, I answered, “Perhaps…” but my laugh was a nervous laugh. All last year, all the boys talked about, was girls. That’s all they talked about - well, that and sports. Truthfully, at eleven I don’t think any of us really knew what we were talking about when it came to the opposite sex. However, as we turned twelve and as hormones started to kick in, what had been just talk seemed to turn into an obsession for most of the guys - but not for me. No, I wasn’t interested in having a girlfriend. On the other hand, I wasn’t really interested in having a boyfriend either. Maybe I was just a late bloomer. What I really wanted more than anything was to have a best friend. That was something I’d never had before and I wanted it real bad.

My level of anxiety only increased as I boarded the school bus and took a seat by myself. Except for the sixth-graders, most of the kids on the bus had been going to Central Middle School for at least a year now and even the sixth-graders knew each other from growing up together. Then it came as a surprise when a kid who looked like an eighth-grader asked in a voice much deeper than mine, “Are you saving this seat for someone or can I sit here?”

He was incredibly good looking - I mean he was stunning. He was tall and he had a square jaw and kinda short, curly dark hair that looked perfect on him. My heart beat faster just thinking about the possibility of him sitting next to me.

Coming to my senses, I realized he prolly just wanted to sit there to talk to his friends in the row in front of me or behind me, so I said, “Sure, go ahead.”

“Since you’re sittin’ alone,” the boy went on, “I take it you’re either new like me, or you’re a loner. You don’t have the look of a loner, though,” he continued. “If you are, you haven’t gotten the ‘don’t fuck with me’ look down at all,” he said with a smile and I couldn’t help but smile back and laugh with him. Was this hot-as-blazes boy really talking to me? What? Did I just call a boy hot?

What the fuck was I gonna say to him? Then I thought to myself, ‘What the fuck, I gotta say something,’ and so I replied, “As one of my teachers used to say, ‘You’re a very perceptive young man.’ Yeah, I’m new here. We moved here from Indianapolis.”

“Really? So did I!” the boy practically shouted, but then he got a subdued sort of look and said, “Well, actually I’m from Fort Wayne, but I ended up in Indy over the summer before moving up here. It’s a really long story…” He looked so sad, almost in pain when he said that and I decided not to pry. If we somehow became friends, he’d tell me about it when he was ready.

“By the way, my name’s Jay,” he went on as the smile returned to his face.

“Corry,” I replied as I extended my hand. The feeling that seemed to pass between us when we shook hands was something new to me. Sure, I’d shaken lots of hands before but, somehow, this felt different and I got a really weird feeling in my stomach too.

“So are you in the eighth grade?” I asked, assuming Jay was thirteen.

He shook his head, however, and replied, “Nah, I’m still twelve and in seventh. You?”

“I’m in seventh grade too,” I replied, “but, man, you look so much older. I thought you were thirteen for sure.”

“I’ve always been tall for my age,” Jay answered, “and my birthday’s in October. I’ll be a teenager in only six weeks.”

“Wow, my birthday’s not until June, right at the end of the school year.”

“In a lot of ways I envy you,” Jay responded. “I’m in the ‘High Achiever’ program, but I’ve always felt like I was held back. If I’d been born a couple weeks earlier, I coulda started kindergarten when I was four instead of five.”

“Yeah but, tall as you are, I’ll bet you didn’t get bullied,” I countered.

“Not really,” Jay answered, “although there were problems at home I’d rather not talk about. So you got bullied? A lot?” he asked.

“All the time,” I replied. “I’m small, I’m smart… I’m in the ‘High Achiever’ program too… and my parents are real young, so I got teased a lot for it.”

With a genuine look of concern on his face, Jay responded with, “No one should halfta go through shit like that.” Then with a look of determination, he continued, “If anyone here gives you a hard time, you come to me. No one fucks with my friends.”

I tingled inside when he used the word, ‘friend’. Had I really made my first friend at Central Middle School?

“Course with the right person, a ‘hard time’ could be a lot of fun,” Jay went on with a sly smile, and then we both burst out laughing. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much,” he went on.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Hard times have a way of ‘popping up’ at the worst possible moment, like when the teacher calls you to the front of the class to solve a problem.”

“Or when you pass someone you like but don’t want them to get the wrong idea,” Jay added, “or when you’re tryin’ to change for gym class, or just standing at your locker.”

We both laughed hysterically. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sitting on the school bus, making sex jokes with a new friend on the way to my first day at a new school. One thing struck me, twice Jay mentioned getting hard because of someone you liked without mentioning girls specifically. Could it be that… no, I wasn’t gonna go there.

Jay’s locker and mine weren’t near each other, so I was kinda surprised when I saw him again in homeroom. We sat next to each other and talked a bit more before the bell rang. Of course the teacher did the obligatory ‘tell us about yourselves’ thing and Jay’s turn came first. After what he’d said on the bus, I was really curious about what he’d have to say.

“Hi, my name’s Jay and I’m twleve years old,” he began. “I’ll be thirteen next month, so I’ll prolly be one of the first in this class to become a teenager.

“I’m originally from Fort Wayne, but my parents were killed in a car crash about a year ago. My only other living relative, an uncle, has a serious illness, so I went to Indianapolis and stayed in a church-run group home for a while before being placed with foster parents here. The McKenzies are awesome. They really love me, and I love them. They’ve been supportive of me from the very beginning, which is really the way parents are supposed to be.”

I couldn’t help but think that that was a strange thing to say but, after what he’d apparently been through, I couldn’t say I blamed him.

“I don’t really have any hobbies except maybe video games,” he continued. What twelve-year-old doesn’t like video games? “I like to read, too. My passion is animals,” he continued, immediately getting my attention. “I’ve always been around animals and I really love them and working with them. My dad was a vet and I think maybe I’d kinda like to be a vet someday too.”

Wow! Maybe it was fate that brought Jay and me together on that bus, ’cause I wanted to be a vet too.

I listened to what all the other kids said until it was my turn, and then I began,

“Hi, my name’s Corry and I’m twelve years old. We just moved here in July. My dad’s a doctor. He went to med school in Indy, and did a residency in Family Practice. Some of you may know Dr. Rollins, who just retired, and his partner, Dr. Hussein, who was looking for someone to take over Dr. Rollins’ practice. That’s why we came here.”

Then taking a deep breath, I decided to take a leap of faith and be honest with everyone from the get-go. They’d all figure it out soon enough anyway, so why not head them off at the pass? Mom was right in a way - being confident was more important than anything in stopping the teasing and making friends.

“Now I imagine a lot of you are thinking, wait a minute… if my dad just finished his residency, he must be really young, and you’d be right! Mom and Dad were teenagers when I was born. They were high school sweethearts and I was what they like to call a ‘love child’, which embarrasses the heck out of me.” The moment the words left my mouth and the kids laughed, I knew I’d gone too far, so I decided to tone it down a bit and I continued, “They didn’t plan to have me so young but I’m glad they did. They’re great parents! They got married before I was born ’cause they really do love each other and they wanted me to have a father growin’ up.

“Mom stayed home and took care of me when I was little, while Dad was in school. We lived with my grandparents… my mom’s parents, that is, until we moved up here. When I started school, Mom went to IUPUI part-time to work on a degree in nursing and, when we moved here, she transferred to IU Kokomo. She hopes to earn her Masters Degree and become a nurse practitioner, and then she’ll join my dad’s practice next spring.

“I really like what my dad does, bein’ a doctor and all, but I’ve seen what doctors go through and it’s not for me. The long hours… the phone calls in the middle of the night, student loans that cost more than the rent for our house, and insurance companies that pay pennies on the dollar… it kinda takes the fun out of it, you know?

“What I really want to do is be a vet,” I said as I smiled and looked right at Jay. “I love animals. I have a cat who’s been mine since I can remember and I’ve always admired the people that kept her healthy. I think that how we treat animals is as important as how we treat each other, and I want to be a part of that.”

When homeroom let out, I went in search of my first period class, which was English. Although I’d studied the school map in advance and looked up where all my classes were, it was different trying to find the classroom by searching through halls filled with kids. I finally found it just as the bell started to ring, and dashed inside, followed a split-second later by Jay. I guess he had trouble finding the room, too. Nearly all the seats were taken except for a couple of seats in the front row, so that’s where we sat. I hated being in the front row and cringed when the teacher passed around a sheet of paper with a space to write our names next to the seat we were in. I guess this was gonna be my seat for the semester, or maybe even the whole year.

After passing out textbooks and reading lists, she explained how the class would work and how we’d be graded. She then asked us to open our textbooks and called on me to start reading. Yeah, it really sucks to be in the first row. The story was called The Red Badge of Courage and it was by someone named Stephen Crane. I’d never heard of him but, as I started to read aloud, I was immediately transported to another place and time.

It was a war story but it was unlike any other war story I’d ever read. When it mentioned blue uniforms, I realized it was about the Civil War, but it was told from the viewpoint of ordinary soldiers… soldiers who spent their time waiting and wondering, not knowing if or when they’d see any action. I found myself slipping into accents as I read the soldiers’ lines. The dialogue just seemed to come naturally to me. Before I even realized it, I came to the end of the first chapter.

“That was very good, Corry,” the teacher began. Then with a laugh, she said, “Actually, I intended to have all of you take turns with the first chapter but Corry was doing such a fine job of conveying the emotion of the scene, I couldn’t bring myself to make him stop.” Then turning to me, she added, “You had better join the Drama Club, young man. I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The Drama Club? I’d never acted before in my life!

The teacher went on, “Jay, what did you get out of the scene described in the first chapter?”

“A sense of confusion and boredom,” Jay began. “It was so different from all the other war stories I’ve ever read. When people think of war, they think of action and chaos and fear. This wasn’t like that. These soldiers were bored out of their minds… so bored that they would have welcomed seeing battle. It made me feel like I was one of the soldiers. The scene seemed so real.”

“Stephen Crane was an incredible writer,” the teacher responded, “but he died so young… he was only 28 when he died… yet in his short life he wrote some incredible stories, this being the best known.” Twenty-eight - whoa! That’s Mom’s age. “It’s sad to think of what he might have been able to write had he lived, but it’s amazing to think what he did accomplish in his short life.

“Good authors generally write about what they know. It is from experience that we tell our best stories. Crane didn’t do that. He was born twenty years after the Civil war and he wrote The Red Badge of Courage without any war experience whatsoever. It wasn’t until he served as a war correspondent in the Spanish American War that he witnessed first-hand just how accurate his portrayal of war actually was…”

As the teacher spoke, she drew the students into the discussion, asking questions that made us think. She was a really good teacher and I knew I was gonna like her class. I was kinda glad I was in the first row after all. I really hated it when the bell rang - I was enjoying myself so much! Of course she assigned us the next two chapters to read that night, so we could discuss them in class the next day, and I was looking forward to it.

“That was really wicked, the way you read the story in class,” Jay said with a smile as we exited the classroom together.

Shrugging my shoulders, I replied, “It was a really good story. I really got into it, you know?”

“Yeah, I do know,” he responded. “I usually like reading fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings, but this was way cool.”

“I like reading too,” I admitted. “Mostly sci-fi, but also fantasy.”

“Cool,” Jay replied with a grin on his face, and then he asked, “What class do you have next?”

“Gym,” I replied.

“Me too!” Jay responded.

At least finding the gym was a lot easier than finding our last classroom and so we got there before the bell rang. The phys ed teacher gave us the usual talk about being on time, in our gym clothes, when the bell rang. He told us that we had to take showers after class - no exceptions - which elicited a round of groans from everyone, but I didn’t mind. I was kinda looking forward to seeing everyone naked and I was beginning to think I knew why - and that was scarin’ the crap outta me.

We were all assigned lockers and given our gym clothes, which were in the school colors. He told us that although we weren’t required to wear a jock strap at our age, he recommended that we all get one, particularly if we wanted to have children someday. That got us all laughing, but it sure drove home the point of why we needed one. I decided I’d ask my Mom to take me shopping that evening so I could buy one.

My next class was Algebra while Jay had Science, and then it was time for lunch. The line for food was long by the time I got there. Then I saw Jay get into line and I got in line right behind him. His face seemed to light up as he said, “Hi, Corry,” with a grin on his face. I couldn’t help but grin back.

“Jay, I’m really sorry about your parents,” I began, thinking about what Jay had said in homeroom.

Rather than answer me, however, he looked down at the floor and responded with, “That’s quite a story you told yourself Corry. It took guts to open up like that.”

“More like stupidity,” I replied. “I realized as soon as I said it how saying I was a ‘love child’ was really over the top. It’s just that I got picked on so much all through grade school for having such young parents. For a long time I felt ashamed of them.”

“Whatever for?” Jay asked.

“Kids picked on me because I was different… because my parents were different. They humiliated me for being born to a teenage mom, as if I had a choice! It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how much courage it took for my parents to have me. Mom could have easily had an abortion but she didn’t. Dad could have easily split but he didn’t either, ’cause he loved my mom. They’d been a couple since the seventh grade and although they won’t tell me, I’m pretty sure they started having sex when they were, like, thirteen. They were really in love with each other.

“They must have used protection or I would have been born a lot sooner. Mom got pregnant when she was just fifteen and my parents got married when they were sixteen, right before I was born. For twelve years they’ve given me a loving home, even though Dad was busy as fuck the whole time.”

“That’s a really sweet story,” Jay commented.

“I wish the other kids saw it the way you do,” I replied.

By now we had gotten through the lunch line and were looking for a place to sit. Most of the tables were already full and, since we were both new to the school, we had no idea which tables were acceptable places for us to sit. Spotting a small table by itself with two chairs, Jay asked, “You wanna sit there?”

“Sure,” I replied, actually looking forward to spending my lunch alone with Jay.

“Corry,” Jay began quietly after we were seated, “What I said in homeroom about my parents… it wasn’t entirely true. They weren’t killed in a car crash, although in many ways, I wish they had been. I’d be way better off if they really were dead.”

“Your parents are alive?” I asked in disbelief as Jay nodded his head. “Jay, why the fuck did you say they weren’t?” I asked.

“You know how I said my uncle was sick?” Jay asked and I nodded my head. “He really is sick, but not the way you think.

“When I was seven, he started doing things with me…” Jay started to say, but then tears started to overflow his eyes. “Fuck, I thought I was over it,” he went on. “This is sooo embarrassing.”

My eyes opened wide as it sunk in what Jay was saying, and then I asked, “You mean sex things?” Jay merely nodded his head as the tears continued to flow. “That fucking asshole!” I practically shouted, but keeping my voice low so others wouldn’t hear us.

“Fucking’s the right word,” Jay responded, which only made me get angrier.

“You mean he raped you… in the ass?” I asked and he again nodded his head. “Fuckin’ monster! Did you tell anyone?” I asked.

Shaking his head, he answered, “I knew it was wrong, Corry, but I was just a little kid. I didn’t know what to do, so I put up with it until last spring. Only then did I realize just how fucked up my life had become. I finally got the courage to tell my parents, but they didn’t believe me! They accused me of lying and, when I didn’t back down, they accused me of being a homosexual pervert that seduced my uncle.”

“What! That’s crazy, Jay. Fuckin’ crazy!” I exclaimed.

“That was just the beginning,” Jay continued. “They wouldn’t get off my case. They kept calling me a lying faggot and said I was going to hell. Then they told me that I was gonna go live with my uncle.”

“Fuckin’ idiots!” I responded.

“You really like to say ‘fuck’,” Jay noted, smiling for the first time since he broke down.

“It’s my fuckin’ favorite word,” I responded with a giggle, and he giggled too.

“Mine too, fucker,” Jay added as we continued to giggle.

Getting more serious, I asked, “So what did you do then?”

“I ran away,” he replied. “I had to. No fuckin’ way was I gonna go live with my fuckin’ asshole uncle.”

“Man, I can’t imagine running away,” I responded. “So how did you end up here?” I asked.

Just then the bell sounded and he said, “It’s a bit of a long story, so I’ll tell you later,” as we got up to drop our trays at the tray return.

It turned out that, with the exception of Math and Science, Jay and I had the same classes. We shared the same bus route and our houses were only about a half-mile apart, which was an easy bike ride. We ended up spending our afternoons together and did all our studying together, sometimes at his house, sometimes at mine.

For Jay’s thirteenth birthday, rather than having a big party with friends neither of us had, I spent the night at his place. It was my first sleepover with anyone, ever. We both wore only boxers to bed and stayed up most of the night talking, finally going to sleep as it was getting close to dawn. It was as we were both crawling under the covers of Jay’s double bed, that I leaned forward and kissed him briefly on the lips and said, “Happy birthday, Jay.”

I wasn’t sure why I did that and I immediately regretted it, fearing it would cost us our friendship, but Jay replied, “Thanks, Corry,” with a smile that lit up his whole face.

As I drifted off to sleep, I still wasn’t sure why I kissed Jay, nor how the kiss might change our relationship. The one thing I knew was that it made me tingle all over and that I really, really liked it. Fuck! No doubt about it. I was gay.

That was just the first of our weekly sleepovers, although we never kissed after that. I guess we both felt a bit guilty, wondering what it had all been about. Even so, we became inseparable and pretty much spent every Saturday night together. Either I would stay at Jay’s house or he would stay at mine.

It was during one of our sleepovers in February at my house that I asked, “Jay, how did you deal with it?”

“Deal with what?” he asked.

“How did you deal with being molested like that?”

“I never really did,” he answered. “It wasn’t until last year that I even told my parents and look how they reacted! I ran away. I had to, but I never really got over what my uncle did to me.”

“You never did tell me how you got to Indy,” I pointed out. “You said it’s a long story and I’m a good listener.”

Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Jay responded, “Like I said, I ran away but I had nowhere to go. I had less than forty dollars in my wallet and forty dollars doesn’t buy shit. It wasn’t enough money to buy a bus ticket, let alone live off of.

“So anyway,” he continued, “I decided to try to hitchhike and I started walking to Toledo.”

“Toledo! Ohio?” I asked.

“Do you know of another one?” Jay responded with a laugh. “It turns out it’s a little over a hundred miles from where I lived. Even if I covered twenty miles a day, it would have taken me nearly a week to walk there. ’Course the plan was to hitch a ride, but the state police patrol all the major highways and by stickin’ to the back roads, I wasn’t likely to find a decent ride. I figured I’d check out all the truck stops and gas stations along the way, since most of them were on the old highway and not the new one anyway.

“What I didn’t realize was that it’s a long way between truck stops and the heat was relentless. I was sweatin’ buckets and there was no shade at all. Early on I stripped off my shirt. I had to.”

“You musta been hot,” I said without thinking and then I blushed furiously when I realized what I’d said. I’d been thinking about how hot he musta looked, shirtless with sweat pouring down his body. I got a boner just thinking about it.

“I was hot,” Jay replied. “It felt like it was over a hundred degrees!” Thank God he didn’t take it like I meant it!

“So I came to my first truck stop and I nearly caught a ride with an older guy, but he looked really creepy and I decided against it. Another trucker then warned me away from him, tellin’ me that he likes boys and demands they have sex with him in return for a ride.”

“That sucks, Jay,” I responded.

“Yeah, I imagine so,” Jay added, “and prolly other things too,” and then he started laughing hysterically. Finally I got it and I started laughing hysterically too.

“When a state trooper showed up, I knew it was time to move on and so I hit the road again,” Jay continued. “Soon I came to a roadside park by a river and so I went for a swim…”

“You had a pair of swimming trunks?” I naïvely asked.

“Nah, I went skinny-dippin’,” Jay explained, which only fueled my excitement, “then I ate a snack I’d brought with me and I continued on. It wasn’t until the early afternoon that I reached the state line and shortly after that that I reached my first real town, the tiny town of Antwerp, Ohio.”

“Never heard of it,” I responded.

“Nor had I,” Jay stated with a laugh. “So I took advantage of the stores there to buy some supplies I’d forgotten to pack… non-essential things like socks, deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste… you know, the luxuries of life,” he said with a laugh, and I laughed right along imagining what it was like to go through what he’d gone through.

“So on my way to Antwerp, I had a lot of time to think,” Jay continued, “and I realized that while I hated what my uncle did to me and I sure as fuck didn’t want to do anything with creepy old men like that trucker, the only way I could make money… was to sell my body.”

“You mean you thought about becoming a prostitute?” I practically shouted in surprise.

“No, of course not,” Jay replied, “but Corry, I needed a break and I realized that if I were to make it on my own, I might need a little help from an adult or two. If that meant takin’ it up the ass one more time so I could get to the right people, then maybe that’s what I was gonna halfta do.”

“Man, I can’t imagine doin’ that,” I responded. “Not willingly, anyway.”

“I didn’t want to either,” Jay said, “but walking along that blazin’ hot highway, the sweat pouring down my body, blisters formin’ on my feet and gettin’ sunburned all over, I came to a decision. I would take it up the ass if I had to in order to survive.

“So anyway, after doin’ my shopping, I checked out a large Sunoco station near the new highway and that’s where I met Scott.”

“Scott?” I asked.

“Scott,” Jay reiterated. “He’s a drug salesman,” he started to say but, when I didn’t say anything, he laughed and added, “Actually, he’s a pharmaceutical representative or, rather, a drug rep. He travels throughout Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, selling doctors on prescribing certain drugs…”

“Oh yeah,” I responded, “Dad gets at least a visit or two from a drug rep every week.”

“Anyway, Scott and I got to talkin’ about the weather, ’cause I wasn’t wearin’ a shirt and it was hot as blazes out and I hadn’t even bothered puttin’ my shirt on to go inside to use the restrooms, and I ended up asking him for a ride.”

“You asked him for a ride?” I asked for confirmation, incredulous at Jay’s boldness. “You asked a total stranger for a ride to Toledo?”

“Yup, that’s exactly what I did, Cor,” Jay responded. “There was just something about him that told me I could trust him. And besides, he was hot… smokin’ hot,” he added. “Just the way you thought I was hot,” he said as he shoved my bare shoulder. I couldn’t help but blush again, not that Jay could see it in the dark, but I had no doubt that he knew I was blushing. He did know what I meant, after all.

“So you went with a total stranger to Dayton, just because he was hot?” I asked.

“Basically, yeah,” Jay confirmed, and then elaborated, “Scott was young. Although he was 22, he looked like a teenager. If he’d told me he was sixteen, I’d have believed him. It scared the shit outta me, but I kinda had a feeling he liked boys. Although I didn’t mean to and I didn’t understand it at the time, I guess I flirted with him a bit. I was just being me and I didn’t even realize I was doin’ it, but it was enough to talk him into not only taking me to Toledo, but to Dayton and Cincinnati, too.

“It was a fair trade… several free meals, a couple nights with a roof over my head and even a day spent at King’s Island. In return, he got what he wanted, which was torrid sex with a hot twelve-year-old boy. Turns out his parents sent him to one of those programs to make gay kids straight, only all it did was fuck him up and now he can only enjoy sex with teenagers. It’s pretty fucked up I know, but we both got what we wanted.”

I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around what Jay was telling me and I blurted out, “I can’t believe you had sex with a strange guy.”

“I was desperate, Corry,” Jay replied, “and scared. Actually, I was terrified. I know Scott musta felt it when he got in bed with me, but it didn’t stop him from putting the moves on me. At least it wasn’t like havin’ sex with some older guy or even my uncle. Scott looked more like a teenager than an adult and he was sexy as hell. More important, he was gentle. He sucked me off and, when I didn’t object, he showed me how to suck him. He never did make me take it up the ass and he did a lot of kissin’ and cuddlin’. After I got over my fear, I actually liked what I did with Scott. I liked it a lot. By the time we got to Cincinnati, I looked forward to havin’ sex with him. The thought of it still makes me hard.”

What Jay was tellin’ me blew me away. I couldn’t imagine going through what Jay had but, then again, I really had. The difference was that Jay had a choice and I didn’t. Then again, did Jay really have a choice either? Regardless, he was my best friend and I respected him. He’d done what he had to to get where he was going and, in the end, his experiences had brought him to me. And he said the thought of sex with Scott still makes him hard. Did that mean Jay was gay? I really, really hoped so, but I was too scared to ask and so instead I responded, “So how did you ever get to Indianapolis?”

“When Scott was done in Cincinnati,” Jay started to answer, “he told me he had to go to Indy, which made me nervous. I was afraid of what might happen if Indiana CPS got a hold of me, but he had clients in Indiana and couldn’t put off seeing them.

“I offered to stay with him like, forever, but he figured he’d end up going to jail if he tried to foster or adopt me, and he pointed out that I still needed to go to school. So we went to Indy and Scott hooked me up with the same halfway house that helped him out. The Reverend Slater, in turn, arranged for me to be fostered by the McKenzies.”

What a story! Jay had confided in me like no one ever had before. With nervousness, I realized it was time to come clean with my best friend.

“I never told my parents, either Jay,” I began as I sensed Jay’s face change to a look of concern as he realized what I was implying.

“Corry?” he asked. “What happened?”

With tears in my eyes, I said, “It was last year, when my mom was doing her clinicals in nursing school and had to go to school full time. My parents thought I was still too young to be left home alone and so they hired a neighborhood kid, Jeff, to take care of me. Jeff looked after me from the time I got home from school until Mom or one of my grandparents got home from school or work.

“Sometimes Mom had to do her clinicals at night,” I continued, “and there were a few times when both sets of grandparents were out of town… those times, Jeff spent the night…”

“How old was Jeff?” Jay asked me as he squeezed my bare shoulder.

“He was fifteen,” I replied, “and a sophomore at Shortridge High School.”

“That’s where my parents went to school,” Jay interrupted.

“No shit!” I replied, before I continued, “I’ll never forget the first time. Dad was on call, Mom had an overnight clinical at Methodist Hospital and my grandparents had to go out of town for a funeral. All four of them. Before then I always liked it when Jeff stayed the night ’cause he didn’t treat me like a kid and he seemed to be cool. I felt safe with Jeff. Little did I know…

“Anyway, we spent the evening playing video games like we always did. At one point we started wrestling, which was nothing new. I think he always held back, ’cause he was so much bigger than me and could have easily pinned me right away. So we were wrestling like usual and then he started tickling me. We were both only wearing shorts. I’d never given it much thought before but Jeff always went barefoot and he usually took his shirt off. Back then I thought he was cool and I guess I wanted to be like him, so I did too.

“So we were wearing almost nothing, on the floor wrestling with each other, and Jeff was tickling me. I could feel his boner and he obviously felt mine. We both usually got boners when we wrestled and I guess it felt good, but I never really thought about it before. I was only eleven.

“Jeff was tickling my belly when he suddenly reached down and grabbed me through my shorts. It felt really good when he did that and I thought to myself, ‘Fair is fair,’ and so I reached down and grabbed him too. Jeff got a funny look on his face… kind of a half-smile… I guess you call it a smirk… and then he asked, ‘You wanna get naked?’ Even at eleven, the thought of getting naked felt so wicked and exciting, so I nodded my head. Jeff… well he felt huge and I really wanted to see it.

“So we both slid our shorts and our boxers off and I couldn’t help but stare at Jeff. His boner was fuckin’ huge. Suddenly, he went down on me! I was shocked. Not that it didn’t feel good, but I just wasn’t ready for it. In no time at all I came for the first time in my life. Not that I could squirt yet, but the feelin’ was so intense and overpowering, and kinda strange. Even still, I knew right away that I wanted to feel that way again, and again and again.”

“Did it make you worry you were gay, Corry?” Jay asked.

Nervously, I replied, “I still worry about it, but I don’t think there’s too much I can do about it.” Then swallowing hard, I added almost silently, “I’m pretty sure I am gay. I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure. I don’t really feel anything for girls…”

“Do you feel anything for me?” Jay asked, getting right to the crux of the matter and worrying me that he’d stop being my friend if I told the truth. Tears made their way down my cheeks as I barely nodded my head but then, something wonderful happened.

Jay pulled me into a tight hug and whispered into my ear, “When you kissed me last October, it scared the shit outta me, but it felt wonderful. I really hope you are gay, though I won’t hold it against you if you’re not. More than anything I want you for a friend. I want you to be my best friend…

“You already are my best friend, Jay,” I replied into his ear earnestly.

“It’s more than that, Cor,” he continued. “I think I’ve fallen in love with you.”

“I know I’ve fallen in love with you, Jay,” I replied.

Slowly we moved apart so we could look into each other’s eyes. Even though it was dark, what I saw startled me. I finally saw what had been there all along. What I saw was love. Then slowly that image faded to black as our lips came together for the first time since Jay’s birthday. This time, however, our tongues became involved and I nearly came from the sensation.

Jay and I were wearing only boxers as we usually did during our sleepovers. It was pretty evident how we felt about each other as we continued making out, our skin rubbing against each other’s skin as our boners dueled with each other. Our hands roamed freely as we touched and licked and explored each other as we never had before.

I wasn’t sure when the boxers came off and, without getting into details, we both ended up getting up close and personal with each other’s anatomy. It wasn’t until after Jay had spent himself in my mouth that my tears started to flow.

“What’s wrong, Cor?” Jay asked.

Swallowing and doing the best to rid myself of the taste, I responded, “The texture and taste in my mouth, it brought it all back.”

“Brought what back,” Jay asked, and so I resumed my story.

“After Jeff sucked me off, he got a smile on his face and he asked me if I liked what we did, but I just stared back at him. When I didn’t say anythin’, he told me it was my turn to do him and he yanked me up by my underarms and practically rammed his dick into my face. When I still didn’t do anything, he grabbed me by the neck and held my head right in front of him with his dick pushing against my lips. I don’t think he meant to choke me but by holding me by the neck, I couldn’t breathe and so I had to open my mouth.

“Then he started fuckin’ my face, ramming his dick into my mouth and throat until he came. The whole time I kept gaggin’ on his dick but he didn’t even seem to notice except for the one time I scraped him with my teeth. He screamed at me for that, but went right back to fuckin’ my face, and then my mouth was full of his jizz. I knew what it was, but the last thing I wanted was a mouth full of it. With his hands still around my neck, the only thing I could do was to swallow it.

“Later, he apologized to me and kept apologizing. He really seemed to feel bad about what he’d done, but that didn’t make up for it. Then we went to my bedroom and he told me to get in bed, but he wouldn’t let me wear my pajamas. He got in my twin bed with me and held me, apologizing again and again, but he felt me up the whole time.

“And then he really scared the shit outta me. He told me that if I ever told anyone what we did, he’d tell my parents I was a fucking faggot and he’d make sure everyone at my school knew it too. It wasn’t until after he’d fucked up his own life that I realized I coulda wrecked his life every bit as much as he coulda wrecked mine. Anyway, after that night, we ended up having sex just about every day after school. He was always there when I got home and, before I even started my homework, he made me get naked with him and we’d do things together.

“The really fucked up thing was that I liked the stuff we did and even looked forward to it… I just didn’t like the way he was forcing me to do it with him. The feel and taste of your jizz… it just brought back some bad memories is all,” I concluded.

Jay pulled me into another tight hug and we continued hugging for the longest time. Finally, we pulled apart and he asked, “And you never told your parents?”

Shaking my head, I replied, “Never. I was just too frightened, you know? I guess I was afraid they’d find out I liked what we did and that I was gay.”

“That’s just fucked up,” Jay responded.

“Yeah, I know that, but it doesn’t change the way I feel. ’Sides, it doesn’t really matter anymore anyway. In the end, Jeff ended up killing himself…”

“Fuck!” Jay replied.

“He was caught making out with another boy and his life went to hell. At first I thought he got what he deserved but, later, I felt sorry for him…”

“You felt sorry for the boy who raped you?” he asked in disbelief.

“He didn’t rape me,” I countered. “He never stuck it up my butt.”

Shaking his head, Jay replied, “Corry, he still forced you to have sex with him. Fuck, he tried to choke you! That was rape, bud.”

“That was an accident,” I countered. “I don’t think he meant to hurt me. He just wanted me to do for him what he thought he’d done for me.” Then looking away from Jay, I said quietly, “It doesn’t matter anyway. He killed himself back in August. He hanged himself. Maybe he couldn’t live with what he did to me, but I forgave him for it. I think he just couldn’t live with bein’ gay and with the way kids treated him because of it.”

“I still can’t believe you could forgive him like that,” Jay responded.

“I had to, Jay,” I replied. “I did it as much for me as for him. I needed to put it behind me and move on.”

“I could never forgive my uncle,” Jay stated.

“I don’t think I could either,” I agreed. “The way he repeatedly raped you, starting when you were only seven… your uncle’s a monster. Jeff’s head was screwed up but he wasn’t a monster… not really.”

It was an emotionally draining evening and we ended up sleeping in each other’s arms. Remaining in the nude, it was incredibly arousing but, more than anything, we needed each other's comfort that night far more than we needed the sex we’d had earlier in the evening.

After that, we started cuddling up with each other whenever we slept together and, from then on we slept in the nude. I was deeply in love with Jay and he with me. I realized that I must be gay and, were it not for the sex we shared, that thought had me terrified. More than anything he was my best friend and that meant far more to me than anything else.

I celebrated my thirteenth birthday in June, just at the end of the school year. We both had much to celebrate, as we’d gotten straight A’s. At my request, my parents took us into the city to an expensive Japanese restaurant, which was my favorite. Jay had sushi for the first time in his life and he was surprised at how much he liked it. It was funny, though. When we started eating, he thought the wasabi was guacamole and so he put a ton of it on his sushi. It didn’t take him long to realize it wasn’t guacamole!

That night we slept together in my queen-size bed. He was big for his age and eight months older than me, and I still looked like a young boy. He was over six feet tall and I was just over five feet. We were quite a pair!

We got naked and got into bed together as usual, and started talking with each other. I thanked Jay for a wonderful birthday and I pulled him into a tight hug. He hugged me back. Looking into each others eyes and not saying anything, we leaned forward and, once again, we pressed our lips together.

Suddenly, Jay dashed out of bed and opened his overnight bag as he said, “I got something special for you… something else for you to unwrap. The next thing I knew, he was holding up a condom and a tube of lubricant. Where or how he got them I didn’t know. I swallowed hard, not knowing if he wanted to fuck me, or for me to fuck him.

That question was quickly answered, however, when he said, “Please make love to me, birthday boy.” We started kissing again and licking and… well, that stuff’s private. Let’s just say that my thirteenth birthday was really special for both of us.

From that time on, we were a couple. We were best friends - and boyfriends. Although we didn’t want anyone at school to know about us and I didn’t want my parents to know - at least not yet - we were never far apart from each other. We didn’t really have any other friends anyway, so nothing really changed except how we spent our sleepovers.

Once school let out for the summer, we were pretty much together, 24/7, as they say. Not a day went by that we didn’t make love to each other and we made out all the time whenever we were alone. It was really awesome but I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing. It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other. No, our love was as strong as could be, but sex with Corry felt kinda empty. It was as if Jeff was always there in the room, getting between us. Perhaps Jay’s uncle was there too.

That didn’t stop us from having sex. If anything we put more and more into it as we did just about anything and everything two boys could do. I was scared shitless to bring it up with him for fear of losing him, but I was sure he felt it too.

The summer went by way too fast and, before we knew it, it was time for school to begin. We were in the eighth grade, our last year in middle school. Talk about bein’ in shock - Jay and I went from living with each other 24/7 and making love whenever we felt like it to being together only after school and on the weekends. Not only that but we only had two classes together and we were in different lunch periods, so even in school we didn’t see each other all that much. The one good thing to come out of it was that, of necessity, I started to make other friends in school. I had to - I wasn’t about to eat lunch alone every day. Jay did too.

For Jay’s fourteenth birthday, we celebrated by going camping in Brown County State Park. Besides Jay and myself, we went with two other boys, Eric and Jamie, both friends from school. It was pretty neat - Jay’s parents dropped us off Saturday morning and helped us set up our tent, which was large enough to sleep six. While we stayed in the tent and went hiking and stuff, Jay’s folks stayed in the lodge, leaving us on our own for the whole weekend.

During that time we hiked all over the park, enjoying the spectacular fall colors, we roasted hot dogs and made hamburgers, and roasted marshmallows over a charcoal flame, and we just enjoyed being together and on our own.

When it got dark, we all stripped down to our boxers and got into our sleeping bags to keep warm. It was still pretty early, however, and none of us was really tired yet anyway. I pretty much figured we wouldn’t be getting much sleep on this trip, lying as we were on the ground.

“So there were these four boys who went camping,” Eric began. “They were celebrating one of the boys’ fourteenth birthday,” he added with what I perceived in the dark to be a smile. As Eric continued talking, he wove a tale of four frightened young teens who mysteriously disappeared, one by one until only the birthday boy was left. “And then he heard an evil laugh followed by a disembodied voice saying, ‘Happy birthday, my little morsel,’” Eric said, and then concluded with, “It was the last thing he heard before claws ripped into his stomach and he felt his intestines spill out in front of him.”

“Such a cozy, bedtime tale,” Jay responded with more than a hint of sarcasm, but then he went on to tell his own story of horror about a group of boys who decided to pull the ultimate prank for Halloween, only to be set upon by real zombies in the end. After Jay finished, Jamie told a story about a group of astronauts who were being eaten, one by one, by a mysterious alien on board their space ship.

“Funny, but that story sounds vaguely familiar,” I noted when Jamie had finished. I’d read the book based on the movie Alien a long time ago. I was, after all, a real sci-fi buff. Finally, it was my turn, but I had no idea what kind of story I wanted to tell.

Finally, I had an idea and so I began, “Timmy was only twelve when he decided to run away from home. His home life was pretty terrible, with a father who molested him and a mother who was always drunk. Both of them beat him often and he’d just had enough. It was late one night when his father was in a really bad mood that Timmy received a particularly bad beating, but then Timmy's dad took off his pants and underwear and Timmy knew he was about to be raped.”

As I told my story, I got more and more into it, using voices that sounded like each of my characters. I told of how Timmy stabbed his father in self-defense, then made a run for it. He tried to hitchhike across the country but no one would stop for him. He ran and he ran, all the time hearing the voice of his dead father. It was only when he could run no further that he saw the ghost of his father in front of him.

“‘Son, I’ve come to take you home,’ the ghost of his father said as it stood in front of him.

“‘No fucking way, Dad,’ Timmy replied. ‘Besides which, you’re dead.’

“‘So are you,’ the ghost replied, and then it went on, ‘Timmy, you died when you were just an infant. You died in your crib in your sleep. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, they called it. But then we started seeing you everywhere we looked. Your mother became drunk from it and I tried to frighten you away by threatening you, but you just kept coming back.

“‘I never thought you could physically hurt me until the night you stabbed me,’ the ghost continued. ‘But now that I’m dead too, maybe we can be a real family again. All we have to do is find a way to kill your mom…’”

“Wow, what a story!” Jay exclaimed.

“You should talk, after that gruesome tale you told,” I replied.

“Yeah, but all our stories were just about horror,” Corry countered. “Your story was actually pretty clever. It was great!”

We chatted for a bit, and then Eric asked, “So, are you guys exclusive, or do you like to share?”

“What do you mean?” Jay asked. I was just as clueless myself.

“What he means,” Jamie explained, “is that we’d like to know if you’d be interested in having sex with us.”

“HUH?” I practically shouted as I sat bolt upright in my sleeping bag, slowly realizing what Eric and Jamie were asking.

“You… you guys are gay?” Jay asked in apparent disbelief.

“Well yeah,” Eric answered. “We wouldn’t exactly be talking about having sex with you if we weren’t.”

“Eric and I have been having sex with each other since the sixth grade,” Jamie explained. “Until we met you guys, we didn’t know anyone else who was gay.”

“How did you know we were gay?” I asked.

“Not that it’s obvious to anyone else or anything,” Eric answered, “but, to us, it is. Call it gaydar or just intuition, but we figured it out a while ago. The thing is, Jamie and I are gay and we like each other a lot, but we’re really just fuck buddies. It’s not like we’re in love or anything the way you guys obviously are. We just thought it might be fun to have an orgy with some friends, you know?”

“Even if you aren’t interested in a four-way,” Jamie went on, “there’s no reason you can’t enjoy yourselves while Eric and I have sex. We intend to do it, whether or not you join in.”

Jay and I agreed that we weren’t interested in an orgy, but that we saw no reason we couldn’t have sex while they did. What we hadn’t realized was just how confining the tent was for two couples having sex at the same time. We couldn’t help but bump into Eric and Jamie, nor they into us, and the feeling was incredibly arousing.

As the contact became more and more frequent, I began to wonder if we were being seduced. All doubt vanished when Jamie grabbed me. After that, it became a sexual free-for-all. Without getting into the details, we didn’t get much sleep that night and it had nothing to do with our sleeping on the ground.

Jay and I didn’t have a chance to talk about what happened until he slept over at my place the following weekend. All week I could feel a new tension in our relationship. I think we were both feeling guilty about letting ourselves get involved with another couple. The truth of the matter, however, was that sex with Eric and Jamie had been incredible. Way better than it was when Jay and I were together alone. It was like Jeff had finally been banished from the bedroom and we could finally enjoy sex, even if it did involve another couple.

I was so afraid that Jay would want to leave me to be with Eric or Jamie or maybe someone else, but I was in love with Jay and the thought of losing him nearly brought me to tears. As the two of us got into bed together on Saturday night, it almost felt like there was someone else in bed with us - not Jeff, not Jay’s uncle - but the so-called elephant in the room.

After a long period of awkward silence, Jay asked, “Corry, what’s bugging you?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing?” I responded.

“Does it have something to do with having sex with Eric and Jamie?” Jay asked and I merely nodded. I could see that he swallowed hard before asking, “Is it that you enjoyed having sex with them more than with me? Are you trying to tell me that you don’t want to be boyfriends anymore?”

“God no!” I replied. “I love you, Jay. I love you more than anything and I want to be with you forever. But what about you?” I asked. “Did you enjoy sex with them more than with me? Do you want to stop being boyfriends?”

“I couldn’t stand it if that happened,” Jay answered. “I love you too. You mean everything to me. It’s just that…”

“Sex with Eric and Jamie was better than sex with just the two of us?” I suggested.

Way better,” Jay agreed. “It’s not that they did anything different than we do, it’s just that…”

“It was way more exciting with them,” I concluded.

“Exactly!” Jay replied. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy sex with you… I really, really do…”

“But you enjoy it more with Eric and Jamie involved.”

“Way more,” Jay agreed, “but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it with them if you hadn’t been there too. I don’t think I’d have liked it at all if it had just been with them and not with you.”

Hearing that made a smile light up my face. Jay had expressed what it was that was my deepest fear - that if he enjoyed sex more with Eric and Jamie, then he wouldn’t need or want me. “I feel exactly the same way, Jay,” I responded.

“Why do you think it is that we both enjoyed sex so much more with Eric and Jamie involved, Cor?” Jay asked. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve kinda felt like there was something missing for a long time now.”

“I’ve felt the same way!” I exclaimed as I realized we felt exactly the same. “Not that I didn’t like it, but sex with just the two of us felt kinda empty, like something’s been missing.”

“Or more like there was something or someone else between us, like maybe my uncle.” Jay suggested.

“Or like Jeff!” I quickly agreed.

“But it sure wasn’t like that last week!” Jay added.

“Last week was perfect,” I agreed.

“Why do you think that is?” Jay asked.

Thinking seriously about it, I responded, “Maybe it’s because we were both raped. Maybe there’s something about having been forced to have sex that makes us crave something we can’t give each other.”

“Fuck, Jay, you make it sound like we need help.”

“Maybe we do, but I doubt getting help would change anything.”

“No, I suppose not,” Jay agreed, “but does that mean we can never be happy unless we have sex with other people?”

“I think that’s exactly what it means,” I answered. “The only way for us to make it as a couple may be if we bring other guys into the relationship.”

“Fuck, what a mess,” Jay responded, but then he added, “Do you think Eric and Jamie would be interested in getting together again?”

“From the way they sounded last week, I think we can count on it.”

“Good,” Jay replied, and then added, “I think we’re gonna wind up spending a lot of time having sleepovers with them.”

It wasn’t easy to organize sleepovers for four young teens but we managed to do it at least once every month or so, spending the night at either Eric’s or Jamie’s house, or them at either mine or Jay’s. Our arrangement with Eric and Jamie lasted for nearly two years, right up until the end of our freshman year in high school.

Eric and Jamie were never really in love with each other. They had a pretty rocky relationship to begin with but, when Jamie decided to come out to his parents, the shit really hit the fan. Suddenly, Jamie’s not-so-religious parents made him go with them to church every Sunday and to attend their church youth group meetings every Wednesday evening. They made him date girls even as they threatened to throw him out of the house if he ever got one of them pregnant.

Needless to say, Eric didn’t react to it very well and ended up outing him and Jamie to the entire high school. Jay and I tried to be as supportive as we could and, as a result, a lot of the other kids showed Eric and Jamie their support. Even though we were prepared to come out as a couple if necessary to help Eric and Jamie, we never had the opportunity and, apparently, no one ever suspected us.

Although most of the kids were OK to them, they got bullied by a few assholes and Eric, in particular, wound up with far more bruises and black eyes than his parents were willing to accept. Unlike Jamie’s parents, Eric’s folks were very supportive of their son and his sexual orientation. Faced with ongoing bullying and a school they felt seemed all too willing to look the other way, they ended up moving to Indy at the end of our freshman year.

Jamie, on the other hand, retreated further and further from everyone. We tried to involve him over the summer and we did have occasional sleepovers with him, but his parents became suspicious and, as we neared the start of our sophomore year, he told us that his parents had forbidden him to see us any more. From then on he dated girls exclusively, biding his time, as he told us, for the day he left for college and could finally live his life as he intended.

Jay and I attempted to engage other kids, hoping to find other sexual partners that could help to invigorate our relationship, but our attempts all ended in failure and frustration. We lost a couple of good friends when they figured out what we were trying to do but, thankfully, they didn’t tell anyone else about it.

In our frustration, we started trying new things to make sex more interesting. We smoked a lot of pot, which certainly made us horny, although it did nothing to make the sex more enjoyable. We tried water sports and some mild S&M and, although some of the things we did were a lot of fun, we quickly realized that inflicting pain on each other only served to bring back a lot of unpleasant memories of Jay’s time with his uncle and my time with Jeff. More than once we confided in each other that what we really wanted - what we needed - was a three-way relationship with an older guy - someone in his twenties. But where would we find a man who was interested in a long-term sexual partnership with a couple of teenage boys?

As spring rolled around and my sixteenth birthday approached, Jay had an appointment with my Dad for a so-called pre-employment physical. We both had lined up summer jobs - me working in Dad’s office and Jay working as a checkout at a local Speedway gas and convenience store. That evening Jay called me excitedly with some news.

“While I was sitting in the waiting room in your dad’s office,” he began, “a young man in a suit breezed in and announced to the receptionist that he was the representative for Walden Pharmaceuticals and he was there for his meeting with the doctors.“

“Yeah, that’s Mr. Fielding as I recall,” I responded. “He’s pretty hot.”

“He’s more than hot, Cor,” Jay replied. “Scott Fielding is a major stud and he’s incredible in bed too.”

“How the fuck do you know…?” I started to say, but then it dawned on me. “Wait a minute. Are you saying that Mr. Fielding is…”

“One and the same,” Jay replied. “He didn’t seem to recognize me, which was understandable. I’m four years older than I was when we met. I’m nearly a foot taller, fifty pounds heavier and I have long curly hair instead of wearing it short like I used to. I’m also way more muscular than I was at the age of twelve. I don’t look at all the same.

“Scott, on the other hand, looks just the same as I remember him. He still looks like a teenager.”

“He does at that,” I agreed. “He looks more like he’s our age, and he’s way cool. He’s a really nice guy. I could definitely fall for him if it weren’t for you. You think maybe he’s just what our relationship needs. Do you think he still likes boys?” I asked.

“I’m willing to bet on it,” Jay replied and as he did, I started to come up with a plan…

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