My Crimson Year - 4. Chapter 4
Let me tell you about drama class. When we picked our curriculum for the new year, only Math, English and Technology were required studies. The county had a whole raft of other stuff we could choose from to fill out our schedules, and Donnie and I both had taken stuff we liked and felt was good for us, like Twentieth Century History, and Earth Science. Of course there was Health Science - a fancy name for gym - which for us pretty much meant football. That left one class left to be filled, and there was a lot to choose from there.
Donnie was the one that picked it, though. "How about Theater?"
I had laughed at first, thinking he was kidding. "How about Introduction to Ant Farming?"
This was before we had become boyfriends. Well, officially. Even so, I should have sensed that he was serious.
He bumped his shoulder against mine. "I'm not joking. It looks like fun."
I looked to where he had the course open in the curriculum guide. It basically said that the class taught the art of stage, as well as all of the skills necessary to produce a performance behind the scenes. Lighting, sets, wardrobe, casting - even stage direction. Students would create, produce, and perform several productions over the course of the school year.
I had squinted at Donnie, still not a hundred percent sure he wasn't playing. "Yeah? Which part looks fun?"
He laughed. "Come on, Andy. Use your imagination. Don't you think it would be fun to work behind the scenes, with the lights, maybe, or the sound?" He stared at the curriculum book, and then I could see the little fires in his eyes. "Maybe even act in a play. Get dressed up, and have some fun in front of a big crowd?"
"No," I said immediately, feeling stage fright at just his description. "You know I hate crowds."
He laughed, and gave me a playful nudge. "What a pussy! You play football in front of hundreds of people."
"Yeah, and I got a helmet on, and pads, and a uniform that looks like every other uniform, and I don't have to stop when I'm running and look at all those people and say Shakespeare stuff, either."
Donnie shook his head. "Look, it says right here that the instructor, Mrs. Zimmerman, places a focus on 'modern drama by the best playwrights in the world'. I'm sure that means no Shakespeare."
I stared at him. "You're serious."
"Yeah. I think it would be fun."
I made a rude noise with my mouth. "Then you do it. I'll take the ant farming."
He looked disappointed, and I immediately felt badly. Shit. Donnie and I did everything together, and what I had just said was like saying I didn't want to be with him. I then remembered when I had suggested we go out for the football team, and that Donnie had been less interested than I, until I had put my face close to his and smiled, and said, "please, please, please!"
And look at us today.
But Donnie had simply nodded at my answer. "Okay. I'll do it by myself."
Well, what could I do? I'd smiled, leaned closer, and whispered, "You didn't say please, please, please."
He remembered then, and grinned, and pushed his face closer, with his blue eyes full of light, and said, "please, please, please!"
So, Theater - forever 'drama class' thereafter - became our last elective class.
And, as it turned out, one of our favorites.
Mrs. Zimmerman was revealed to be this always-smiling, chubby little lady with dark hair and an expression built in that said, lights! camera! action! The first thing we all noticed after taking our seats the first day of class - after the fact that every seat was not taken, that is - was that Mrs. Zimmerman described everything as if it was taking place on a stage. The first thing she did was cover her eyes, whirl a finger in the air, and point. When she uncovered her eyes, she was looking at Molly Nash, who had reared slightly back in her desk seat, eyes wide.
"What is your name, young lady, and future star of stage and screen?"
A low murmur of laughter had traveled around the seats, as everyone focused on Molly's discomfort at being in the spotlight.
Mrs. Zimmerman glowed. "I am so pleased to make your acquaintance, Ms. Nash. Would you be so kind as to assist me by handing out that stack of books to the class?" She pointed to a fair-sized stack of textbooks standing on her desk. Molly had made a small face, and then eased herself slowly up out of her seat to comply. Mrs. Zimmerman watched her, as if expecting greatness at every step. Molly went to Mrs. Zimmerman's desk, heaved up the pile, formed a very evident oh my god! with her face at the weight, and turned and walked to the first desk.
"Oh, that's wonderful," Mrs. Zimmerman told Molly, as the girl began walking up and down the rows of seats, slapping the volumes down on every occupied desktop as she passed. "If I were out in the audience now, I would just be struck by your inner anger at being called upon to carry that heavy pile of books around, and your annoyance at being singled out the very first minute for a position of responsibility."
Molly stopped, blinking at Mrs. Zimmerman. The whole class had grinned, but wasn't sure what to make of what they were hearing.
Mrs. Zimmerman had glowed some more, and swooped back and forth in front of us. "Observe, people, how authoritatively Molly has placed the books on each desktop, the slow and methodical pace of her movements, the wonderful glower she wears, even though the pile gets lighter with each step she takes. The audience can feel what is going on inside her, without her having to say a single word." She stopped moving and clapped lightly." A bravura performance, Molly! You are definitely in the right place to make use of your wonderful talents."
There wasn't a single drop of acid in it, either. Mrs. Zimmerman looked wonderfully delighted, actually. Molly suddenly grinned, and went back to handing out the books, looking far happier, while the rest of us decided that we had us a teacher maybe worth listening to.
"This is the power of emoting," Mrs. Zimmerman went on, now that she had our attention. "Or acting, to those who will watch your performances someday. Emoting is the method by which we convey to others what we are thinking and feeling, without obviously standing there and telling them. Some people have the gift of doing this brilliantly on their own, while others have the quality within, awaiting just the smallest push from someone else to bring it forth." She gave a little bow, and a big smile. "That is my job, and why I am here."
I had looked over at Donnie, in the seat next to mine, and grinned, letting him know with my eyes that I was pleased he had suggested this class. If anyone in that room glowed after that, it was Donnie.
In the weeks that followed, we learned a lot about staging a play. We read scripts, and we learned how to interpret stage direction. Donnie and I were interested in the mechanics of production, and with some other kids learned to operate the lights and sound equipment installed in the school's theater. Everyone was walked through the processes so that they would understand them, and those interested in learning more were allowed to play with the equipment during rehearsals of our first play, The Kid With the Magic Fingers. Mrs. Zimmerman informed us that we would do a number of plays throughout the school year, several of which would be major productions open to the public, running for two nights a week for several weeks, and charging for entry. Other plays would show only twice, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings during a given week, and then it would be off to something new. The two-timers would be presented at matinee prices and fall about every two weeks during the school year.
Donnie and I were relieved at the scheduling, because our week nights were free. Football practice was confined to a couple of hours after school, with games held on Saturdays. It left us little free time, which made our Sundays together even more important. But we were together at all other times, too, so what the hell?
Mrs. Zimmerman showed us the several sites online where she could get plays for us to produce. We couldn't just do anything we wanted, because plays were protected by the same kind of copyrights that protected books and movies and stuff like that. Many current plays couldn't be done at all, because a play had to run the whole process of Broadway or off-Broadway production and then film first, before its owners would license it for school production. And as licensing a play for school production was about the same as saying its usefulness as a money maker in other venues was over, it took a while for that process to be complete.
Mrs. Zimmerman had to pay for a performance license for whichever play we chose to produce, which came out of her budget for the entire year. Fortunately, school performance licenses were very reasonable, and Mrs. Zimmerman's budget fairly generous. Old standbys like Our Town and You Can't Take It With You were inexpensive in the extreme to license, and still pretty popular after all these years, and many school theaters still produced them to save money for other projects during the course of the year.
But for our first project we wanted something that would get the kids in and get them interested. We all watched as Mrs. Zimmerman showed us through page after page of plays, almost none of which we had heard of. She said that plays written exclusively for the school market were common, and that they were generally aimed at specific levels of kids. We were allowed to hunt through all three levels - elementary school kids, middle school kids, and high school kids - but the first category was pretty simple and the last category was subject to veto if the subject material was considered too advanced for our age group, so we stuck pretty much with the middle school stuff to begin with. There was a large fantasy section, and so of course we wound up looking there.
The Kid With the Magic Fingers was a semi-musical, about a boy named Cody who has a head injury and finds afterwards that he can play the piano like crazy. I liked it right off because I play piano, and so felt a kind of a special link to the material. It had fantasy elements, and a dream sequence that was utterly cool, and we voted for that play out of a pool of three available that fit the first matinee budget. The music that went with the play was mostly classical, and Mrs. Zimmerman had CDs that she said the sound crew would play while the actor playing Cody faked it at the keyboard. To demonstrate this, she had Jeff Nabely sit at the keyboard of the prop baby grand onstage, and had Ellie Caprically run some stuff on the sound machine.
"This is what theater is all about," Mrs. Zimmerman told us, giving us a brief glow. "To make real what is not, and to bring the audience into the illusion along with us."
Jeff started to 'play'. The piano was a dummy, built by the woodworking shop a few years ago for the theater. It looked real from the back, but its guts were all air. Ellie started the classical piece, which I had heard before but couldn't identify right off. Brahms, maybe. My mom and I had played mostly more modern stuff over the years.
Jeff tried, but he hadn't a clue as to what he was doing. He looked more like a mad scientist at a lab table mixing a formula to revive the dead then he did someone playing a piano.
I raised my hand, and Mrs. Zimmerman looked at me. "Yes?"
"He doesn't look like he's really playing," I said. As if to accent that observation, Jeff - who had heard me - stopped what he was doing, and the music continued on, without a player, until Ellie noticed and paused the CD.
Jeff just shrugged and grinned at the rest of us. "I'm just fakin' it, man. I don't know what it should look like."
Mrs. Zimmerman canted her head to one side and looked at me. "Are you speaking from certain knowledge?"
Aw, man. Sometimes I am just as bad as Donnie - don't know when to shut up. "Well...I can play, if that's what you mean."
Mrs. Zimmerman's eyes should have warned me. "Really, Andrew? How long have you played?"
I kind of cringed at that - only my grandmother called me Andrew. "Would you call me Andy, please?" I answered instead, ignoring the big grin from Donnie, who was seated across from me at the planning table.
Oh - that. The planning table was just this really long table backstage - long enough that all of us could sit at it, with Mrs. Zimmerman at the head. During production the table doubled as workspace for the prop and costume people, but during the planning stages it was like the war room at the Pentagon.
Anyway, Donnie grinned, and I cringed.
Mrs. Zimmerman smiled. "And where would Andrew Lloyd Webber be today if he went by Andy?"
I frowned. "I dunno. Maybe out playing football?"
She laughed, but nodded. "Okay, Andy it is. And now - my question?"
My mom played piano, and I had become interested very early, at about six years of age. "About six or seven years," I admitted.
Her eyebrows went up. "Really?" She stood up, and motioned at me. "Come here a moment."
Everyone rose, and we all followed her down the back steps to the room by the prop department. An upright piano stood against the wall there. "Please demonstrate...Andy."
Until that point, Donnie was the only person I had played around except for mom and dad and Dottie. Donnie was musical, too, and could make some fairly decent noise on his guitar. Sometimes we made noise together, and had a lot of fun doing it.
I looked around at all the faces, then back to Mrs. Zimmerman. "In front of everybody?"
She smiled. "More ears to appreciate you, is all it is, Andy."
Donnie was next to me, and he gave me a gentle push. "Go ahead. You can do it."
I grimaced, but sat on the stool in front of the piano, raised the lid, ran up and down several octaves from middle C on the board, noted that some of the semitones sounded off a bit. "It's a little out of tune," I said.
Mrs. Zimmerman's eyebrows raised at that. "Really? We'll get that fixed."
I licked my lips, feeling nervous. "What should I play?"
Mrs. Zimmerman pursed her lips. "What do you know?"
This wasn't getting us anywhere. I had learned a lot of stuff playing with mom, and I figured that Mrs. Zimmerman, being older, might like some of the same stuff my mom did. So, I selected Crocodile Rock, by Elton John, in the key of G major, and launched into it, trying to tune out everybody watching. It was a fun piece to play. Elton John and Billy Joel were the two guys I had learned to like best from playing with my mom.
Nice thing about fingers, they have a mind of their own. Even if my head was nervous, they didn't seem to be. The music flowed out, from my fingers into the keys, and even I thought it sounded pretty good, despite the condition of the piano itself.
I was just hitting the third verse when Mrs. Zimmerman put a hand out and laid it on my shoulder. I took that as a signal to stop, and did. She smiled at me. "You read music?"
I nodded. She whirled, pointed at Donnie. "Donald, would you go back to the table and bring me the folder from where I was sitting?"
I couldn't help grinning at Donald as he looked briefly appalled at the use of his full name, and his eyes touched mine briefly before he nodded and took off.
"He goes by Donnie," I had to say to Mrs. Zimmerman, who just smiled at me in return.
Donnie was back in a flash, a fat manilla folder clutched in one hand. He handed it to Mrs. Zimmerman, who laid it atop the piano and hastily sorted through it. She came up with a fistful of papers, which she handed to me. "Can you play some of this?"
I looked. And was horrified. Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart...
I could read the music, and I had even played some of it before. But...Mozart? Me?
It was a thick sheaf of music. "All this goes with the play?" I asked.
Mrs. Zimmerman frowned. "Well...the music license is open. What that means is, that while we cannot alter even a single word in the script, we can basically choose any music we wish to go along with it. Cody must simply play well for the story to succeed - what he plays is not important. The classical pieces are included with the package because they are in the public domain, and can be performed free of charge."
"So, we don't have to use any of this?"
She shook her head. "No."
I looked at Donnie, and he grinned.
"So, we can actually play all sorts of cool stuff if we can get the rights to play it? Like - you know - rock stuff, maybe?"
Mrs. Zimmerman smiled. "You interest me. Continue."
"When you showed us that one site where you can get plays, they also had a part where you can get music. I mean, buy the rights to play it, like in a play."
"I know that. We've often purchased performance rights for background music for our plays. It's relatively inexpensive, especially for a limited number of performances."
I grinned. "Well, there you go. I like more modern stuff than Mozart. Like what I just played, for instance." I grinned over at Jeff. "So, while Jeff is out on stage, I could sit here and play for him, right?"
Mrs. Zimmerman actually laughed. "The part of Cody has not been cast yet, any more than any of the other parts. Having you play piano for Jeff - or anyone else, for that matter - seems such a waste when you can play the part of Cody yourself."
Son of a...how stupid could I be, not to see this coming?
"Me?" I gasped, looking back at the stage. "Out there? In front of...people?"
Mrs. Zimmerman actually chuckled. "That is what we're here for, am I not correct?" She suddenly looked thoughtful. "There is a variant version of this play available with songs as well as music." She leaned closer to me. "I don't suppose you can sing as well?"
I kind of locked up - couldn't move. Donnie, my sweet and wonderful friend, did not. "Yeah, he can. He sings great!"
"Wonderful!" Mrs. Zimmerman gushed. "Oh, this may turn out to be much more than I originally planned. Now...let me see. I must go back to that site and secure the rights to perform the songs, and get some music..."
I turned my eyes up to Donnie, who was grinning ear-to-ear.
I nodded, felt my tongue finally detach from where it had been stuck to the roof of my mouth. I raised a hand, waggled a forefinger at Donnie in a request for him to come closer. He did, but held up a hand in front of himself, as if he thought I might hit him. But I had no such thought of injuring him. Or, simply injuring him.
He leaned closer, his grin still large, and I nodded at him.
"I'll kill you later," I whispered.
* * * * * * *
We wound up not making it a full musical, thank heavens. The cost to sing the parts instead of speak them was just a stupid amount more, just because the dialog had been reworked into not-so-great songs that then came under a different licensing scheme. And, Mrs. Zimmerman soon determined that her class was not anxious to sing - for their first performance, anyway. So, we went back to the play as written, much to everyone's relief.
Buying the school performance rights to the piano versions of some rock songs - especially the older ones - turned out to be really reasonable in price. Once you dropped the vocals, it seemed, stuff really got cheap. There were five places in the play's script where Cody went a little wild playing music, and instead of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin, and Brahms, I substituted piano from songs by Elton John, Swedish House Mafia, Bob Seger, Billy Joel, and The Beatles. A little up, a little down, a little fast, a little slow. But all cool.
There were a dozen short takes, which I filled by copping a little key work from songs by One Republic, Ingrid Michaelson, Adele, Train, The Fray, Fastball, Ben Folds, James Blunt, and Avicii. A bit of a mix, if you wanna call it that.
The final scene, during the dream sequence, required something special. My mom helped me to cobble together a shortened version of Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen, retaining the hymn arpeggios in the verses and the pumped classical in the bridges. It turned out awesome, and I practiced it for a week at the house before admitting to Mrs. Zimmerman that it was done. The first time I played it at rehearsal, I went a little crazy. And not just me. Mrs. Zimmerman said it would bring the house down.
"We'll word-of-mouth this play all over the school, but people won't know how tremendous it is until they hear it and see it. The Wednesday night show will get the word out, and I'm predicting that the Thursday show will be a sellout.
The school theater held 450 people. That was 900 eyes, all watching us. Watching me. I was scared shitless.
But, the oddest thing seemed to happen. The more we rehearsed, the easier it got. The more I played in front of the class, the more I felt I could play in front of an audience. My fingers seemed to have no stage fright at all, just a desire to play.
Our first play was where everyone learned how to do stuff, and it took us nearly two months to get the sets done, the wardrobe made, and the special effects engineered. The latter consisted mostly of dry ice to make fog, and a rig with pulleys suspended from the overhead that would allow Cecil to drop down from the 'sky' - the catwalk overhead - to land before Cody in the dream scene. And some colored lights, and eerie sounds. Atmosphere, as Mrs. Zimmerman said, smiling. But on a budget.
Donnie got the part of Cecil, Cody's best friend. He actually read the part well, and was better than Jeff, who really kind of made it clear he wasn't trying to get the role, anyway. He had his heart set on being a special effects guy, and had already shown a knack for modifying things to make them better. There were two other good guy parts, each of which seemed to be the focus of the remaining guys that even wanted to act. The class had quickly split into a few people who wanted to be onstage, acting, and the remainder that wanted to be behind the scenes, which was most everybody. That I was one of the latter did not matter to Mrs. Zimmerman, who seemed to think I wanted to act because I had so stupidly stuck my neck out on the block. She said it didn't matter, anyway, because everyone in the class was going to be onstage at some point during the school year. All of us were going to have the opportunity to bask in the spotlight. Ugh.
Donnie wanted the role of Cecil, not just because he was one of the guys that wanted to act, but because he got to be with me for most of the play. And, in the finale dream scene, Cecil and Cody hug each other, and Donnie made no secret of the fact - at least when we were alone - that he was delighted at the prospect of getting to hug me in front of so many people and have a reason to get away with it. And Mrs. Zimmerman said we were perfect together, and that we seemed to have a good rapport between us that would come across on stage. Ellie Caprically was standing nearby when Mrs. Zimmerman said this, and laughed out loud. "Yeah, you think?"
I liked Ellie. She had a great sense of humor and she was smart, and always fair in dealing with people. I don't know if she had heard that Donnie was my boyfriend, but she did know he and I were best friends. She made it clear that she liked both of us, and I'm pretty sure she got back that the sentiment was returned.
All during this time, Greg and Junie were being careful. They actually were conspicuous on the field now because they didn't horse around like they used to do, but no one really seemed to notice. Greg, if anything, was even crazier than usual now, driven, I think, by his excitement at finding Junie. Euphoric was the word I came up with, when I looked online for a good word that meant crazy-happy. And Junie...well, the sun still came up every morning in that sweet face of his, and he wore that shine everywhere he went now.
The weekend before the debut of The Boy With the Magic Fingers came, and I was so nervous I had trouble getting through the game on Saturday against the Panthers. I nearly dropped a perfect pass from Mikey, only keeping hold of it by some magical glue on my fingers, and just got the ball across the line as some Panther took me down. It was an away game, played on the Panther's field, and because of the weather the turnout in the bleachers had been minimal. For high school football people would put on three coats and come, but middle school games just didn't have the same power to draw, I guess.
Donnie, on the other hand, seemed unbothered by our coming performance together. He saw my nerves over it, I guess, and was very supportive. It was kind of a role reversal for us - usually I was looking out for him a little, as he worried over the things that we faced each day. But now, he smiled a lot, and hugged me a lot - when no one was looking, of course - and was just very sweet.
After the game, which we won by a three-point lead from a field goal in the last quarter, we stood around in the cold under a gray sky and discussed what we could have done better. Our defensive guys had been just awesome that day, and only the offense had messed up here and there. But winning always seemed to soften any criticisms, and the coach didn't have a single finger to point. After Mr. Duncan gave us his usual pat on the back and described everyone's contributions - which always managed to cover the whole team - he went off to talk to the Panther's coach and left Mikey grinning at us ahead of his usual praise. Mikey made no mention of my near miss on his pass, mostly because, to him, a completion of any sort means it went well.
Afterwards, though, he did come over and pat me on the back. "You need to relax, Andy. You're wound up, and I can see it."
"It's just nerves," Donnie said cheerfully, putting an arm around my shoulders and squeezing. "The play opens on Wednesday evening and he's almost as nervous as I am."
It was a very sweet thing to say, because Donnie had taken to the stage like a cat does to tuna fish - without the smell. In part it was his attitude change in general since we had been acting more openly in front of people; he understood that a lot of people knew we were gay, and boyfriends, and he had gotten used to it being a minimal cause of friction in his daily life. There were still the occasional looks, and whispers; but Donnie had discovered that looks and whispers were ephemeral, and that as long as you chose not to carry them about with you, they didn't stay around to be bothersome.
We had both grown a little into being gay, and found it a warm and comforting coat, indeed.
Stage fright is a different sort of beast than dealing with people's thoughts. Even though it has a reason for being, it's a hell of a lot harder to say why it's there. I was just nervous in front of crowds of people. I didn't know why.
But, as we had rehearsed the play, I had often looked out into the theater and seen people sitting there, watching. The theater was open to students and staff alike, and we'd already found how many of them were interested in what the theater was about. We had deliberately put the word out on what we were doing, and people had responded by coming to see for themselves. But twenty or thirty onlookers is not a full house of 450 people. The quantitative difference played with my head, and my imagination, and even Donnie's loving reassurances that we'd do fine had not completely tamed the beast that had come to sit on top of my nerves.
It didn't help, one afternoon, when we heard someone laughing out in the theater. The play itself was funny, and there were a lot of scenes with humor. But this laughter had come during a serious scene where Cody and Cecil had been talking about their friendship, and Cecil had sighed and said to Cody, "I'd do anything for you."
I had heard, as I was about to say my next a line, a very soft but distinct voice out in the seats, say, "Yeah, I'll bet he would!" Whispered, but way too loudly.
Donnie had heard it, too. We'd both squinted out into the theater, trying to see who had said that. Mrs. Zimmerman had gone to the front of the stage and admonished the onlookers to remain quiet, and it was just after that that we had seen three people get up from the back row and leave.
Dickie Ranshaw, Pete Nicks, and Hank Snowden. Even in the poor light, I'd recognize those idiots anywhere.
I'd kind of forgotten about them. They'd kept a low profile since Donnie had clobbered Dickie on the bus; but we had been aware of them, sometimes just at the edge of things, watching and whispering, and Greg had been telling us about some of the stuff they'd been saying behind our backs. Interestingly, they had not seemed to be able to get others to speak out against us, and I had started to come around to Dottie's way of thinking - that people just didn't care about gay like they once had. So, I had put Dickie and his squad of fucktards to the back of my mind, and even Donnie had ceased to worry about them.
We were in this together, and we both knew it now.
Every now and then Mrs. Hinkie's warning - that people like Dickie did not take kindly to being shown up - came back to my mind; but it had been quite a while now since the incident on the bus, and I had kind of gotten to the opinion that Dickie's failure to rally support against us meant that he wasn't going to be doing anything in retaliation. Guys like him almost never acted alone.
And on the football field, I didn't think of Dickie at all. There we were, another game in the bag, with the year ending in another league championship looking likely.
"I was thinking," Donnie told me, as Mikey went to talk to some of the others.
I managed a grin. "That's always dangerous. What about?"
He laughed. "I was thinking of asking Greg and Junie to sleep over with you an' me tonight."
I had to smile. "Don't you gotta ask me first?"
"I thought I just did." But he leaned closer. "Wanna stay at my house tonight?"
We'd been doing that for years, and recently that practice had taken on a very special new meaning for me. Sleeping with Donnie, all warm and naked against me all night, was a pleasure I had come to love like no other. The sex before sleep was also pretty special, I guess I should say. Not that you probably didn't guess that already.
Greg had sometimes slept over, too, but of course not since Donnie and I became boyfriends. My eyebrows went up at the suggestion that we invite both Greg and Junie. "What are you thinking about?" I asked him.
He shrugged. "Just a cool night with the four of us hanging out together." He smiled then. "That month that Greg wanted is almost up. It's time for him to tell us if he's gay or not."
Ooh. Yeah, I had let that slip my mind, what with everything else going on.
"He's gay," I said, nodding. "He acts like Junie and him are wearing the same pair of jeans."
Donnie laughed. "I know. Fucking Greg is full of shit. I can see he loves Junie just like I can see that Junie loves him. You and me should be the last people he can fool."
Truth, that. I could see the same thing. Greg was even more lively when he was with Junie than he had been before they'd gotten together. And Greg was always with Junie. Even Dottie had made a very casual remark recently about me and Donnie not being alone anymore, but when I had asked what she meant she had just laughed and said I should know even better than her.
I did know. Greg and Junie were feeling the same stuff that Donnie and I were.
I nodded. "It's a good idea. Let's go ask them."
They were over with Jeff and Terry and some of the guys, bullshitting and carrying on. I caught Greg's eye and pointed at Junie, and let Greg get them away from the others.
I looked at both of them, and grinned. They were standing so close together that they might as well have been rubbing shoulders. I had seen a lot of that with them lately, I realized.
"Donnie and me are sleeping over at his house tonight. We wanted to invite you guys, too."
Junie gave a little gasp and looked at Greg. "Oh, yeah, Greg. Let's do it."
Greg looked surprised. "Serious business?"
I grinned. "Would I lie?"
Greg grinned back. "Okay. I gotta ask at home, but you know my folks'll say yes. They always have." He looked at Junie. "What about your mom?"
"She'll let me," Junie said with certainty. "If she knows I'm with you and Andy and Donnie, she'll be cool with it."
They grinned at each other, and there was no missing that they were both thinking about their first time sleeping together.
I just had to say it. I grinned at Donnie, and cleared my throat dramatically. "So, uh, Greg...you guys tasted each other's fapple juice yet?"
Junie's mouth dropped open, and he raised a hand to cover the grin that sprang out of it. Greg's eyes widened, and then he just looked embarrassed.
Donnie laughed. "That would be a big yes."
Greg rolled his eyes, but then smiled at Junie. "Never thought I'd love the taste of that stuff."
Junie just nodded. "Yeah."
Donnie and I laughed, and the four of us headed off together.
Not surprisingly, there was no problem with any of the parents. When you're a kid and your folks get used to you doing kid stuff, like sleeping over at your friend's house, they just don't seem to see the possibilities in that as you get older and discover things like sex. There is a lot of protection in being young. From everything I'd ever observed, it isn't until you get ready to start driving that your parents suddenly look at you again and take a new measure of the possibilities in the things that you do.
Donnie's mom didn't mind at all. I was of the opinion that she felt a little guilty about leaving Donnie on his own a lot, and was grateful for the fact that he didn't seem to mind as long as he had at least me to keep him company. To her, the idea of three friends staying over seemed even better.
She went out on a lot of Saturday evenings, but was never home later than about ten or eleven o'clock. She believed that Donnie was old enough and sensible enough to be left alone a little, and the fact that we were always still there when she got home had, over time, relaxed her. She was going out that night, too, and said she would not be late. It just made things more relaxed for us, especially with Greg and Junie having their first all-nighter together.
We had pizza for dinner, and then went to Donnie's room after his mom went out.
And we locked the door.
I had seen both Greg and Junie naked in the showers at school. They both had nice bodies, and I already mentioned that Greg was on his way to eventually having a mouthful of a dick. Junie was like me and Donnie, okay in size, with a little hair on his pubes, but still smooth all over. He had a really cute butt, the kind you want to stick your face into and just rub. Donnie had a butt like that, too, and I had done my share of rubbing, believe me.
We didn't just close the door and rip our clothing off, but rather turned on some music and helped the others ready their bed. For that we had laid some camping pads side-by-side on the carpet and put a couple of sleeping bags on them for extra padding. One of Donnie's plump winter comforters assured that the guys would stay snug and warm together beneath.
We kicked off our shoes and peeled off our socks. The room was warm and comfortable. Greg and Junie flopped together on the end of Donnie's bed, and Donnie and I sat together at the head with our backs against the headboard.
And we talked.
Greg and Junie had wasted little time exploring sex with each other, and it was fun to hear about their first time. We reciprocated by telling them about our first time, and that led to us talking about the things we did together. Greg and Junie looked wide-eyed at us with some of the stuff we had to share, but the way they grinned at each other also seemed to suggest that they were filing it away with the intent of trying it sometime later. That was funny - to see how eager they were to be together.
We talked about school, and football, and the people we knew. At one point, Donnie just reached over and unzipped my jeans, and stuck his hand down inside. I had to smile at that, because Greg immediately grinned and did the same to Junie. That led to everyone's pants coming off, and then shirts, and then before we knew it, we were all naked. It was extremely hot for me to sit there with Donnie's junk in my hand, and mine in his, and watch Greg and Junie play with each other.
But, soon I just had eyes for Donnie, and then he and I were wrapped up in each other. Greg and Junie went to their bed on the floor, and I was dimly aware that they were doing much the same things together that Donnie and I were doing, but I really was far too interested in Donnie to pay more attention. The evening wound on, grew breathless and exciting, and then warm and cuddly, and the last thing I remember was falling asleep with Donnie snuggled close against me.
I felt differently about Greg and Junie after that night. I think Donnie did, too. They were still our friends - that had only become closer. But now we had something shared, that the four of us understood, that nobody else we knew did. It used to be, you saw me or Donnie, and the other was always there, too. Now, mostly, if you saw any of the four of us, the other three were somewhere nearby.
And I never did ask Greg if he was gay.
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