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    Jdonley75
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Empty Spaces Between Us - 1. Chapter 1

A banging noise on his bedroom door startled Tyler out of a dead sleep and sent him rolling and tumbling onto the floor. “Tyler! You need to get up or you’ll be late for your first day!” The urgency in the voice helped the fog in his mind clear faster than it usually would. He stared up at his alarm clock. Just past six in the morning. He’s supposed to be there in less than an hour. Rubbing his eyes to force himself awake, he stumbled to his feet. The pounding on his door became more frantic as the woman’s voice nearly screamed his name.

“I’m up, Ma, I’m up,” he said just loud enough to get the pounding to stop. He turned to the small dresser in his room and pulled out a blue pair of briefs. He always felt that blue was his lucky color and today he figured he’d need all the luck he could get. He pulled them up his legs and made sure he shifted everything inside, so he’d stay comfortable. It was late Spring, and the weather was probably going to get warmer as the day progressed. Despite that, he grabbed a pair of comfortable jeans and a white t-shirt. After pulling on a pair of socks, he was all set for the first day of his new job.

He unlocked his door and went into the tiny bathroom to brush his teeth. He hated this trailer. Ever since his parents divorced, when he was a child, he and his mom were forced to live in this crappy mobile home in this crappy small town that had less than ten thousand people in it. The only time he didn’t actively hate living here was when he was in high school and the walk to and from the trailer park was bearable. But high school ended two years ago and since then he was struggling to find a job to make ends meet. His mom worked, but he wanted more. He wanted to have his own place and have his own dreams. Two months short of twenty-one, it seemed like nothing has worked out the way he had hoped. He didn’t get the baseball scholarship he hoped for after graduation. They had next to no money and he couldn’t see himself taking out loans just to go to college when he didn’t have a car to get there. And his father didn’t seem to care about any of it since he hadn’t heard from him in a couple years and only got a crappy twenty bucks in a Christmas card since he got out of high school.

He checked himself out in the mirror. Still trim from years playing baseball. He had a little scruff on his face but decided to keep it, so he didn’t look like he was still a little kid with his freckled cheeks and tanned skin. When he shaves, people have commented that he still looks like he’s seventeen. His eyes were hazel with a little green in them. The girls in school always thought he was handsome. He never much cared what they thought, though. He had kept mostly to himself with the exception of a couple close friends to hang out with, but he still kept his secrets to himself. Now, all those friends are gone off to college and he was left behind. He kept up with them online over Facebook, but he noticed the longer they were away the more interested they were in their studies and the new friends they were making. After two years, messages back and forth became less and less frequent. After all this time, he took the hint that their friendships were pretty much over.

Pushing those thoughts aside, he left the bathroom and stopped in the little kitchen to make some toast so he wouldn’t be hungry all day. His mom was already dressed for her job at WalMart. Her dyed blonde hair was short and straight as usual. She had a few more wrinkles around the eyes and mouth than she used to when he was in high school. But living on the edge of poverty for years hadn’t robbed her of her smile or her compassion for her son. “You nervous,” she asked as she drank her coffee at the small counter.

“A little,” he replied while he waited. “Not sure how good I’m gonna be working a construction job.”

“Mr. Adams is a nice man,” she said. “Always willing to help someone who needs it. That’s why he told me he’d hire you on the spot, once I told him all about you. Just be polite and do what you’re asked to do.”

He sighed and frowned. “Think I can make enough in a couple months to get wheels of my own?”

She shrugged. “I dunno, hun. Only one way to find out. This’ll pay better than that gas station job though.”

He remembered how humiliated he felt watching people he used to go to school with stop into that gas station. The looks of recognition when they saw him standing there, wondering why he was working a shitty job when they were living it up. They weren’t rude really, just… the pity in their eyes annoyed him. It was worse when one of the guys he used to secretly have a crush on came in. No way would they ever be interested in him, seeing where he ended up after high school. Not that it mattered. They were all straight anyway. “Well, we’ll see. Maybe I can make enough to take a couple classes at the junior college up in Butler.” The toast popped up and he slathered some peanut butter on it, letting it melt slightly before he ate it up.

Coleen watched her son, feeling bad about his life and having a father who practically ignore him his entire life. Even as bad as things were money wise, she was always proud of her son and loved him. She did everything she could to keep him on the right track and she was rewarded with a polite son who was never disrespectful to her or anyone. She was grateful she’d gotten old Sam to give Tyler a chance. “Don’t be late on your first day, sweetheart.” She gave him a small smile that lit up her eyes as she watched him shove the last bits of toast into his mouth.

“I won’t.” He went to grab his boots and wallet before he gave her a peck on the cheek. “Love ya, Ma.”

“Love you too. Relax and just be yourself,” she called after him as he stepped out the door.

Tyler walked at a brisk pace out of the trailer park and onto the street, making sure he kept moving but not tire himself out as he walked the ten blocks to the Adams Construction Company building. He was thankful it wasn’t hot already so he wouldn’t show up already sweating. He ran a hand through his close-cropped, dirty blonde hair, thankful he kept it short since it was nearly impossible to manage any longer than it was now unless he wanted to have a completely unmanageable cowlick sticking up from the back of his head.

As he made his way down the street, he kept his head tilted down to avoid any unwanted attention or stares. It had become a sort of survival routine of his. The embarrassment of being the only kid in his class living in a rusted-out trailer park felt like a constant burden to him. He also was doing it unconsciously to avoid checking out any guys he walked past. He wished he didn’t do it, but he was twenty and his hormones were still churning. That and he was still a virgin which was another point of embarrassment to him. Checking the time, he picked up his pace, wanting to try and get there a little early to hopefully make a good impression. He never met Mr. Adams when his mother mentioned him for the job. She just knew him as a nice guy from the area she occasionally had conversations with when she was working at WalMart. She mentioned her son to him and after a few minutes he told Colleen the boy could start work the following Monday if he wanted.

And there he was, early Monday morning standing in front of Adams Construction Company with seven minutes to spare. He noticed a couple trucks parked near the back and saw some lights on, so he decided to go in and see if Mr. Adams meant what he said to his mother. As he stepped inside, he heard some muffled laughter coming from down a narrow hallway that lead to the back of the building. The reception desk near the entrance had a blonde woman who looked a little older than himself, though it was difficult to discern with the amount of makeup she had on. She looked him over and awarded his appearance with a professional smile. “How can I help you,” she asked with a pleasant voice.

“Good morning,” he replied. “I was told to start today. But I’m not sure…” he trailed off, suddenly realizing he had no idea what to say or do.

The woman seemed unphased, as if this happened often. “Did you talk to Sam or Troy?”

“Oh, ah, Sam. I guess… It was more like my mom talked to Sam, really.”

“What’s your name, kid?”

“Ah, Brewer. Tyler Brewer.” he felt his palms sweating a little. He was getting a bad feeling about this.

“Alright.” She opened a drawer in her desk and pulled out a piece of paper and put it on a clipboard before she held it out towards him. “Fill this out and I’ll go find one of the boys.” He took the clipboard with a nod of thanks and sat down. Looking it over, he realized it was an application. His movement halted as he came to understand that he was just now applying for the job. Wasn’t he supposed to start today instead of just apply? He was about to ask when he heard the woman walk towards the back of the office out of sight.

Left with no choice, he began to slowly fill out the employment application, feeling his chest tightening. Had he known he was just applying for the job he wouldn’t have already quit his last job. Now, he had to wait for interviews and background checks and probably a drug test to before he started working. All of which could take weeks. He wondered if he could call and get his old job back while he waited but figured he already burned that bridge when he just suddenly quit without giving them a notice. All he wanted was to be able to make a better living. He wasn’t lazy or dirty or a drug user. He just wanted an honest chance in life. So what if he’s gay? He doesn’t act any different than anyone else his age and no one in school ever suspected watching him play shortstop on the high school varsity team. He looked just like anyone else and he knew he could do good things if someone just gave him a chance.

Tyler filled out the application slowly. Being so young, there wasn’t much to tell beyond his name, address and the last place he worked. The woman hadn’t come back yet so he stood up and placed the clipboard on her desk and went back to sit and wait while trying to ignore the feeling that he had made the worst decision of his life.

A minute or two later the woman walked back down the hall again. “Sam isn’t in the office today,” she said as she picked up the clipboard he left on her desk. “But Troy will be with you in just a minute.”

“Thank you,” Tyler replied. He did his best to not appear disappointed, but he lowered his head to stare at the floor. He wasn’t getting the job today. Probably never was. Sam was probably just being polite to his mom. Now, he had no job and no prospects. Pride was the only thing keeping his tears at bay. There was no way he was ever getting out of this town.

“Tyler?” A man’s voice broke him out of his thoughts, and he looked up at a tall man with short brown hair and kind eyes. When he saw Tyler’s face he smiled politely and waved his hand. “Come on back.” He turned to the receptionist and said absently, “thanks, Stacy.” The woman at the desk nodded her head and went back to what she had been doing as Tyler was led down the same narrow hallway. He could hear some banter of what sounded like a group of men towards the back but before they got that far, Troy stopped at a door and opened it, leading Tyler into a small office. Once the door was closed, Troy went around the desk in the room, motioning for the young man to take a seat as he plopped down and looked at the paper in front of him. “Brewer, huh?”

“Yes, sir.” He sat up straight and tried to look professional despite his appearance.

“Well, you finished high school,” he muttered as he scanned the paper. “That’s better than most of the other guys who work here.”

The man was silent for a few moments as he read the sheet, giving Tyler a chance to look around the room. It was mostly file cabinets with one small window facing the parking lot. The desk had a few pictures on it and a few more were stuck against the cabinet behind Troy with magnets. Mostly pictures of what appeared to be his family. Wife and two kids. Both boys. One of them seemed almost a baby in the pictures. There were other pictures too. A bunch of guys in caps and gowns. One of them looked like the guy sitting at the desk only much younger than he looked now. “I might have misunderstood Mr. Adams, sir. Or at least maybe my mom did when she talked to him.”

“Misunderstood how,” the man asked, looking up at him.

“Well,” he faltered, not wanting to sound ungrateful for the interview. “I guess we figured I was already hired.”

“Yeah,” Troy said casually. “You are. But we still have to do all the paperwork and stuff. So, you need an application and have to fill out tax forms and other stuff. I also need to know I can trust you and that you can pass a drug test. That’s about our only real requirement here. You’ll be working in situations where it’s not a good idea to be high or drunk. You might slip and fall God only knows how far.”

“Oh! So, all this...” Tyler could feel a little sliver of hope return.

“Just formalities.” Troy grinned at the boy’s face as it brightened up. “I had to call my dad first just to double check and make sure you were who we were expecting. Do you go by Tyler or Ty?”

“Tyler, sir, if you don’t mind.”

“Fine by me as long as you call me Troy.” He kept his tone pleasant. From the looks of him, Troy figured the kid was a little uneasy. “We’re not all that interested here in who’s in charge, Tyler. We just want you to do the job you’re assigned, be safe and be mindful of everyone else around you.”

Tyler nodded. “I understand, s-... Troy.” He blushed a little and looked down at the floor.

Troy noted his reaction and politely didn’t laugh. This kid definitely seemed to scare easy. “What I’m gonna have you do today is tag along with a team who’re replacing the siding on a house here in town so you’re not going to be far from home. You’re gonna watch and stick close to the guy in charge and keep the area clear of any clutter. When we work on someone’s house, we want to leave it better than the way we found it. So, no nails or pieces of metal are to be left on the ground. Got it?”

Tyler nodded again. “Got it.”

“Alright. I’m gonna get a swab of your mouth and send it to a lab for drug testing, though I’m pretty sure you’ll pass that fine. I’ll introduce you to your team and then we’ll go from there. Oh,” he suddenly remembered as he stood up. “You have a driver’s license. Do you have a car or truck?”

Tyler blushed slightly. “N-no. Not yet.”

Troy suddenly stopped as he was pulling something out of a cabinet and looked at him curiously. “How’d you get here then?”

“I walked, sir.”

“You walked? From where?”

He hated this question more than any other question he gets asked. “Grand Oaks park.” It was neither grand nor did it have any oak trees. Tyler always thought someone named it that as some sort of cruel joke.

Troy pulled a drug kit from the cabinet. “Oh… Your parents live there?”

That was his second most hated question. “My mom and I live there, sir.”

He could tell he hit a nerve. “Nothing wrong with that. One of my best friends used to live there.” He went over to the young man and opened the pack. “Where’s your dad?”

“He lives in Trenton. He left us when I was six.”

Troy held up a stick with a cotton tip. “Open your mouth, please.” Troy carefully rubbed the cotton tip against the inside of Tyler’s cheek before removing it and sealing it in a small sterile bag. “All done. Let’s go meet your new friends.” Troy lead him out of the office and down the hall towards the back of the building.

Tyler stayed quiet as he followed. He hated thinking about his father, and he hated that he and his mom were poor because of him. No use dwelling on it now. He had a job to do. Troy opened a door at the end of the hall that opened into what appeared to be a breakroom with six men sitting around, all older than Tyler from the looks of it. The men’s banter quieted down as they all turned to look at Troy and then to him. Their gazes weren’t unpleasant, but he did feel a little unease.

“Ok, boys,” Troy spoke up with an air of authority he hadn’t used while talking to Tyler privately. “This is Tyler, our new guy. He’s never been on a work crew before so help him out and make sure he learns something other than how to bullshit like you guys do.” The last part was received with scattered chuckles. “Andy, I want you to stick close to him, show him how to keep your work area clear and then get him back here safe.” A dark-blonde haired guy with muscled arms covered in tattoos and a bearded face nodded and smirked as he looked over at Tyler.

Troy gave them their assignment and then walked out of the room, leaving Tyler standing there, looking uncertain. The blonde haired man, who seemed to have a perpetual smirk and mischievous green eyes, stood up and walked up to him, clapping him on the shoulder. “Tyler, huh? I’m Andy. Troy was stupid and put me in charge of this group for some reason. Why don’t you ride out with me and we’ll get started?” The other men got up and headed out to their trucks with Tyler following close behind Andy.

As he climbed into the passenger seat of Andy’s truck, he noticed the two baby seats in the back of the cab. He settled in and got his seatbelt on as Andy was doing the same. “Thanks for the ride,” Tyler said, trying to sound comfortable.

“No big deal,” Andy replied with a smile before starting up the truck. “We’re working in town today. Shouldn’t take long really. So, what did you do before this?”

He kept his eyes on the view through his passenger side window. “Uh, I worked at the Sunoco station next to the highway.” The ten blocks to get to work today was nothing compared to the miles he had to trek to work when his mom wasn’t available to take him.

Andy nodded as he drove along. “Well, I’d say this pays a little more.” After a few moments of silence, Andy added, “don’t let the other guys rub you the wrong way. They can be assholes sometimes but they’re not all that bad. They just like to talk shit. If any of them give you any trouble, just let me know.”

“Thanks,” he smiled feeling a little relief. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all. “So, how long have you worked here?”

“About three years ago after I finished my last tour in the corps.”

“How’d you get hired?”

Andy chuckled. “I called up Troy and said, ‘gimme a goddamn job so I can feed my wife and kids.’”

Tyler smiled a little. “He’s a friend of yours, then.”

“Yeah…” he said with a smile and, Tyler noted, a little affection in his tone. “We’ve been friends as far back as I can remember. Him, me and another guy. The three of us and a couple other guys have been friends for a real long time.”

“Do they all work here with you and Troy?”

“No…” Andy was quiet for a moment. “Jacob still does from time to time, but he mostly stays at home these days. The other two... they don’t live here anymore. Hell, one of them I haven’t heard from in years. Not even sure where he is.” Tyler had the feeling he stepped in an uncomfortable topic, so he didn’t ask any more questions.

Thankfully, Andy pulled over to a stop just next to a house in a section of town Tyler had never been to before. They got out as the other guys in the team pulled up and Andy started directing Tyler to start opening boxes of siding, soffit and the rest of what was sitting on the ground near the house. The old siding had already been removed and the men were starting to put up new insulation to nail to the house before adding the siding. As the morning sun started to creep over their heads, the six man team had the entire ground level of the house covered in new pink colored squares of insulation and were on ladders working their way up the house. Andy stayed on the ground, explaining to Tyler how it all fit together as he watched and slowly started to pick up dropped nails or pieces of insulation the others cut off and let fall to the ground around them.

It was mostly grunt work and fetching things for the other workers. Hours were spent standing around, trying to look like he was useful. He didn’t get to know the other guys all that much, but Andy seemed to go out of his way to engage him in conversation. They didn’t have much in common but they both enjoyed baseball, so Tyler was able to talk to him about that and his time playing in the varsity team at their mutual high school. By noon, everyone on the work team stopped for lunch. The men had started from the ground and worked up to put on the insulation but were now working back down as they applied the new siding to the house.

It was then, when the rest of the guys pulled out coolers and took our sandwiches and drinks that Tyler realized he didn’t bring anything to eat. Watching the others and listening to them talk while they started in on their lunch made him feel embarrassed. It wasn’t that he didn’t think about it this morning, he just didn’t have any more money to spare. He moved away slightly from the others, hoping no one noticed while he looked around for anything to clean up to keep himself busy.

“Hey, Tyler.” He stopped and groaned inwardly. Andy’s voice sounded across the yard and he slowly turned around, hoping he didn’t look as ashamed as he felt. Andy was motioning him towards him where he was standing next to his truck and Tyler obediently came over to him, not saying anything but rather waiting until he heard what Andy had to tell him. Andy looked the kid over and immediately felt bad that he didn’t just walk up to him. Tyler’s face was blushing red and his eyes were trying to look everywhere but at him. Andy put a hand on his shoulder, trying to reassure him as he pulled him in close and muttered in a private voice, “did you forget to bring your lunch with you today?”

Tyler thought maybe he could get away with claiming ignorance and nodded. “Yeah. Guess it just slipped my mind this morning.”

Andy nodded and opened up the door to his truck. “Well, climb in and we’ll go get it. Shouldn’t take long and you can eat it on the way back.”

He hadn’t expected that offer and his eyes gave his lie away as he tried to make an excuse. “Oh… Well… It’s no big deal… I can just eat it when I get off work.”

Andy’s eyes narrowed a little, but his voice wasn’t accusatory. “Ty… Exactly how broke are you?”

“Well… I’m not broke really… I just…” He wasn’t sure what to say. Three dollars weren’t going to get him anything to eat nearby.

Andy sighed, motioning to the open truck door. “Get in,” he said with only a mild hint of his frustration before he walked around the truck to climb in and start it up. Tyler was afraid he’d angered Andy as they pulled away. Andy stayed quiet until they pulled up to the “McDonald’s” in town and turned to Tyler. “What do you want?”

Tyler’s eyes widened slightly, unsure of what to say. “I… I don’t really have any cash on me.”

“I know that part. What do you want?” Andy’s voice let Tyler know he wasn’t getting out of this with his pride intact.

He sighed, dejectedly and mumbled, “Just a Big Mac is fine…”

Andy looked at him for a second before poking his head out the window and placing the order for two Big Mac meals. After he got them, he put the bags on the space between their seats and the sodas in the holders before he drove off again back to the job site. About halfway there, he stopped and pulled over to park and shut the engine off before he pulled out the food and handed it over to Tyler. “Here, Ty.”

He took it, knowing he didn’t have much of a choice. “Thanks.”

Andy looked at the obviously embarrassed kid and chuckled silently to himself. “We don’t know each other very well. We’re gonna have to fix that.”

Tyler looked at the older man and sighed. A little mad at himself. “Yeah. You’re just trying to be nice and I’m acting like a dick.”

“It’s alright. I’ve dealt with worse,” he said with a smirk. “I’m married, so I’ve definitely dealt with worse.”

“How long have you been married?”

“Five very long years. As you can tell from the back here,” he motioned to the back of the cab, “I got two kids. Four-year-old and a twenty-month-old.”

“Cute,” he said with a smile. “What’re their names?”

“Tanner and Blake.” Andy smirked a bit before biting into his burger. “You met my wife already. Stacy. The lady at the front desk.”

“Oh. She seemed nice,” he remarked before he started eating.

Andy chuckled a bit as he swallowed. “Give it time… So, what about you? Why’s a young kid like you seem like you got the weight of the world on your shoulders?”

Tyler looked at him, not sure what to say. He thought about it as he chewed on his burger before answering. “I got me and my mom and nothing else, right now. I wanna live better than what we got, which is nothin’. Don’t have any money to afford going to school. We can barely make ends meet as it is now.” He sighed and shrugged. “I’m not wanting to be rich or anything. I just wanna be able to… at least feel comfortable, you know?”

Andy nodded. “I get it. It’s not easy living from paycheck to paycheck. Your mom doesn’t have a job?”

“She works at Walmart,” he replied dismissively. “When dad left her, she didn’t have any education for anything much more than as a secretary and those jobs aren’t easy to come by around here so, she’s worked there for five or six years now. So, we’re just barely making it. I’m out of school so Dad doesn’t have to pay child support anymore. He used to call once in a while but he’s always too busy for me.”

The sides of Andy’s lips tugged down slightly as he listened. “Well, Ty… Dunno what to tell you. Life ain’t fair sometimes. But, not all the time. Or, so I’m told…” They finished eating and Andy drove back to the work site.

As they pulled up, Tyler worked up the courage to finally say, “Andy? Could you do me a favor and not call me Ty? It’s not something I’m really fond of.”

“So, just Tyler then,” Andy said with a smirk. The boy nodded and smiled a little before he got out of the truck and headed back up to the house to resume work. Andy chuckled to himself as he got out, muttering softly, “now, where have I heard that before?”

The afternoon passed smoothly, and Andy went around the house, showing Tyler exactly how the entire process works and answered any questions he had. He found Tyler to be attentive and it wasn’t long before he was showing enough interest that he had the kid over to the side to learn how they measure and cut the siding to fit the house. By the end of the day the siding replacement was finished, and they started packing up their gear to head home. Tyler was quick to help everyone get the equipment stored and did one final check around the house before he was satisfied that everything had been cleaned up.

He rode back to the office with Andy and they talked a little more. By that time, Tyler was comfortable enough with Andy to feel more relaxed. He started to see Andy more as just another guy than someone who was in charge. He was quick to smile and tell a joke more than be bossy and pushy with everyone like his last boss. Tyler wasn’t completely trusting just yet, but he had no reason to question Andy’s motives.

When they got back to the office, they entered from the same back door they came in. Most of the guys on the team split up and headed to the same large room he first met Andy and the others. “Hold tight for a second, Tyler,” he said, pointing to a seat. “I’ll get Troy here in a minute.” He walked through the area and down the hall to Troy’s office. Tyler sat down and waited quietly. A moment later, he could hear children’s laughter coming from down the hall. He gave the door to the hallway a curious look before it suddenly opened and Andy came walking through with a bag over one shoulder, a small boy holding his left hand an even smaller child in his arms. Tyler noticed Andy’s face looked brighter as he smiled. “See you tomorrow,” he said cheerfully as he walked back out.

Tyler smiled a little, thinking how cute Andy looked with his kids. He was kind of attractive in his own way, even if he was straight. But seeing him with his kids made him even more attractive somehow. He sat there for another minute, wondering what he was waiting for before he stood up again. Just as he got near the hallway door, Troy entered with a bunch of papers in his hands, nearly hitting him in the head if Tyler hadn’t swerved to avoid it. They looked at each other as Troy smirked. “Sorry to keep you waiting. I was stuck on the phone.”

“No harm, no foul,” he replied. He followed Troy, sitting back down where he had been.

Troy pulled some papers out and put them on the table with a pen. “I need you to fill all these out, then you’re done for the day.” He sat there watching Tyler fill out his paperwork for a moment before saying, “Andy tells me you did a good job today. He seems to like you.”

Tyler smirked a bit as he continued his work. “He’s cool. Kinda funny. He said he’s been friends with you forever.”

Troy chuckled. “Yeah… Maybe not forever… Probably when we were four.”

“Four?” Tyler glanced up at him. “That’s like thirty some years ago.”

“Hey,” Troy said with an incredulous grin. “Twenty-six. I’m only Thirty. Andy won’t be thirty until next month.”

“So, how’d you meet?”

“At Kyle’s…” He was quiet for a moment. “His dad runs the apple orchard just outside of town. I guess it was a playdate or something. Never really ended, I suppose…”

Tyler could see the same far off look in Troy’s eyes he saw in Andy’s earlier and decided to drop it. “Where did Andy’s kids come from? Where they here all day?”

“No,” he replied absently. “Jacob dropped them off a little while ago. I kept an eye on them until he came in.”

“Oh.” Reasoning Jacob must be a babysitter they all use. He signed the last form and handed them over. “All done.”

Troy did a quick glance at them before putting them in the small file with his name on the tab. “Ok. I’m gonna show you how to fill out a timesheet that you’ll have to do every day, and then you can head on home.”

Tyler got everything figured out and Troy gave him a firm handshake before he headed out and made the slow walk back home. The air was cooling as the sun started to set but not by much. May was nearly over and June would be hotter than it is now. He had to be more mindful crossing the streets on the walk home since there was a lot more traffic. He felt a little better than he had before going to work in the morning, but this was just one day. Maybe, if things could just go right for him for once, he and his mom can get their heads above water.

He tried not to let the negative things affect him as he walked into the trailer park. His entire life up to this point always seemed like a constant battle just to keep up. The older he got, the more frustrated and resentful he felt that no matter how hard he tries, he was probably always going to be just a poor kid with no future other than to go to work and come home to a trashy trailer park with most of them sitting rusted and empty.

When he got to his trailer, he unlocked the door and stepped inside. He flipped the light on and found the front of the trailer much the way it had been when he left. Old, worn furniture, a television nearly as old as he was and a general air of resignation that clung to everything it almost carried its own scent. His mom left hours ago and probably wouldn’t be back until after ten. He wandered into the kitchen and checked the fridge for anything to eat. There was a little bit of milk left and some lunch meat. Beyond that, there were some condiments, so he he made a sandwich, with what little they had. He turned on the TV and plopped down on the sofa as he ate and stared at the screen.

He sighed, feeling less unsure of his future than he did the night before. Maybe, if he watched his money and got enough time on the job, he could afford to get at least a crappy truck. That lifted his spirits a little but then he realized there was rent to pay, electric bills, water bills, phone bills… He’ll need to get some new boots if he wanted to prove he could do the job he was gonna learn to do. It was probably gonna end up taking longer than he hoped. And even then, what was he going to do in the winter? Won’t have much construction to do then.

Knowing there wasn’t going to be a solution to all his problems sitting there, he forced himself off the couch and walked down to his room to undress and take a quick shower. He needed the warm water to clean off the sweat and grime from the day outside. Two years since graduating and he had nothing to show for it. All his friends were sharing how great their lives were out of state and away from this tiny little town on the internet. His thoughts strayed to Andy as he soaped himself up. Thinking how handsome he was, even with the full beard. That didn’t seem to suit him, Tyler thought. But he seemed sweet and caring. The kind of guy Tyler wish he could find.

He rinsed off quickly and got out of the shower. There wasn’t much hot water in the house even at the best of times, so he learned to be conservative with it. He didn’t want to take any more than he had to. He dried off and tied the towel around his waist. Looking down at himself, he started to hope that this job, if nothing else, will get him back to his old self. Standing in place for hours wasn’t a workout and he couldn’t afford a gym membership with no income. Hopefully, they’ll put him to work and he can get his muscle back a little bit at least.

He walked back into his room, shut and locked the door before turning on the little nightlight next to his bed. He tossed the damp towel over a decrepit old chair to dry, grabbed a book and got into bed under the covers. Tyler laid there and read to escape the trailer, his worries and his loneliness.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



Welcome back Jonathan! Didn't miss it this time - picked it up just 28 minutes after you posted.

Great start - I had hoped you were going to do something with Tyler and I was right. Looking forward to more.

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So glad you're back with this new story. If this is any indication, it was well worth the wait. 

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Nice to revisit this world, from a different perspective.

Look forward to the journey you’re going to take us on.   

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3 hours ago, Andre Delport said:

Welcome back Jonathan! Didn't miss it this time - picked it up just 28 minutes after you posted.

Great start - I had hoped you were going to do something with Tyler and I was right. Looking forward to more.

Tyler was kind of the most obvious choice to do a new story about.  

In a way, I kind of feel bad for him because I created him purely to (1) throw off readers and thinking something was going to happen between him and Jacob and (2) Have an extra warm body that looked cute and could give Kyle a slight push in a certain direction that ended up being completely unnecessary because things kind of blew up all over the place the very next chapter.

So, I kinda owed him this story. ;)

Hope you enjoy.

Edited by Jdonley75
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3 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Awesome start, looking forward to reading about Tyler.

Tyler is going to be the primary character through most of the story, but there are going to be other tidbits and loose threads from the previous story that will be addressed here.

This is going to be an entirely different beast in some ways so be patient because it moves a little slower at first.

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1 hour ago, spyke said:

So glad you're back with this new story. If this is any indication, it was well worth the wait. 

Thank you.  It's been slow going through parts mostly because I'm intersecting "The Acquittal" and trying not to collide with it head on.  But, I'm almost at the end of the tunnel and I should be able to complete it in due time.

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1 hour ago, FanLit said:

Nice to revisit this world, from a different perspective.

Look forward to the journey you’re going to take us on.   

It's definitely going to be a different perspective and you will get to see the boys as they were before you met their adult versions.  For clarity's sake, This chapter is about 15 months before Kyle comes back home.

For obvious reasons, you will not see much of him.

the journey is one I hope everyone will be patient with.  There's a lot of build up in each chapter and there will be a lot of surprises along the way.

Also, good on you not blowing you lid when Stacy made an appearance.   😋

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1 hour ago, Brokenbind said:

Really looking forward to how this develops

It's going to be a little slower in the beginning because I'm not completely finished yet.  It'll be released once a week per chapter instead of the breakneck speed of the last one.  Which means more time for me to finish and more time for everyone to agonize over what's going to happen next. 

I'd like to call that a win/win. 

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1 hour ago, Jdonley75 said:

Also, good on you not blowing you lid when Stacy made an appearance.   😋

Lol, I had to backtrack to when Tyler first entered the office when I realized who the receptionist was.  He got Blake and Tanner out of the relationship so it was worth something.  Have to admit, Andy without Brian seems a little lopsided, like a Hutch without a Starsky, lol.  

I smiled reading this chapter because just when I thought it would end, there was always a little more;  I like your robust servings.

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8 minutes ago, FanLit said:

Lol, I had to backtrack to when Tyler first entered the office when I realized who the receptionist was.  He got Blake and Tanner out of the relationship so it was worth something.  Have to admit, Andy without Brian seems a little lopsided, like a Hutch without a Starsky, lol.  

I smiled reading this chapter because just when I thought it would end, there was always a little more;  I like your robust servings.

There's going to be a lot of obvious foreshadowing in the beginning because... well...  anyone who read the first knows what's going to happen.  (Or will they?🤔)

Some characters from previous works are going to be more or less specters lurking around the edges which I think makes for a slightly more compelling read.  At least, that's my aim.

As for robust servings... well... I gotta be me.

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Welcome back! I finished reading The Acquittal a week ago and I got sad when I finished the last chapter because I was so invested in the characters’ lives. 

I’m really looking forward to reading Tyler’s story. I actually thought Jacob and him would start dating in The Acquittal, a thought I didn’t like because I was Team Kyle all the way haha. I noticed that the first chapter takes place a year(?) before Kyle’s return, so I guess this series would be a long one. (hopefully not dragging)

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What a great start! I’m looking forward to learning more about Tyler! It’s nice to see the guys make an appearance, Thanks!

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I am excited to be back in this world! Thanks for writing more. I look forward to chapter two. 

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21 hours ago, nix said:

Welcome back! I finished reading The Acquittal a week ago and I got sad when I finished the last chapter because I was so invested in the characters’ lives. 

I’m really looking forward to reading Tyler’s story. I actually thought Jacob and him would start dating in The Acquittal, a thought I didn’t like because I was Team Kyle all the way haha. I noticed that the first chapter takes place a year(?) before Kyle’s return, so I guess this series would be a long one. (hopefully not dragging)

Well, it won't drag.  Much like the last book, time will jump forward from time to time.  I like using that method because of the holes they create that can be filled in short stories that could be worth writing but mostly are just unimportant moments of life.  I'm pretty sure no one would've been interested in reading about Kyle coming home from work every night and typically just playing with Matt, watching TV, writing a few emails and reading for a couple hours before going to bed.  

I spent some time trying to figure out where exactly I wanted to start this story and 15 months prior to Kyle's return seemed like a good start.  It will give Tyler enough time to grow and develop relationships with the others before Kyle comes in and ruins everything.

There's also some other character developments that I felt were seriously needed.  I love all my boys, but let's be honest, Kyle and Jacob sucked most of the oxygen out of the room in the last book.  I'm not saying they won't get their own time in the book (eventually) but this isn't really their story and I need to give some of the other boys (one in particular) more time in the spotlight.

I think everyone will enjoy reading this.  Possibly even more than the last.

So, enjoy the read, and for Christ's sake, feel free to chime in and express your opinion more often. 😋

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12 hours ago, mfa607 said:

What a great start! I’m looking forward to learning more about Tyler! It’s nice to see the guys make an appearance, Thanks!

Andy, Troy and Jacob will be constants in the narrative.  But there will be many new characters that will join the story over time.

I'm hoping everyone will enjoy this new story.

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1 hour ago, JeffreyL said:

I am excited to be back in this world! Thanks for writing more. I look forward to chapter two. 

The beginning will be a little low key at first to just set up Tyler's life and his interactions with others around him.  

I'm still trying my best to keep things as true to life as possible.  Obviously, a lot of repeat characters will be appearing but there will also be a lot of new faces and even some that were hinted at but never actually seen in the past.

Glad you enjoyed the first chapter and glad to see everyone back for another round through my little world.

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42 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

Liked the first chapter. You paint us a good initial portrait of Tyler. I like him; he seems real. 

Thank you.  :)

Tyler is very young and will be growing up a lot in many ways.

And so will a few other characters.

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Marty

Posted (edited)

I've noticed a few stories of yours on GA@Jdonley75, and have at least started to read a few of them. Although I've not commented on any of them before, they have all caught my interest, but the ones I have looked at so far have all given me the impression that they may be part of a wider story arc.

I'm getting the impression that this particular story may be the place to start, even though it is as yet unfinished, largely because you say that it is a sort of prequel to The Acquittal (which I haven't actually read yet).

This first chapter has certainly got me hooked. I already feel invested in Tyler's future, and hope that this job turns out to mark a turning point in his life. Loving the description of Andy as well, and it seems he will be a good mentor for Tyler. I'm assuming this is the same Andy from your Staying in the Moment short story. If so it seems as though his life hasn't gone quite as I had expected it to from reading that story. But I like stories that show what happens to people over a number of years; how their decisions, expectations, or just simply their opportunities, may change with circumstance.

I look forward to reading more of this story and these characters.

Edited by Marty
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1 hour ago, Marty said:

I've noticed a few stories of yours on GA@Jdonley75, and have at least started to read a few of them. Although I've not commented on any of them before, they have all caught my interest, but the ones I have looked at so far have all given me the impression that they may be part of a wider story arc.

I'm getting the impression that this particular story may be the place to start, even though it is as yet unfinished, largely because you say that it is a sort of prequel to The Acquittal (which I haven't actually read yet).

This first chapter has certainly got me hooked. I already feel invested in Tyler's future, and hope that this job turns out to mark a turning point in his life. Loving the description of Andy as well, and it seems he will be a good mentor for Tyler. I'm assuming this is the same Andy from your Staying in the Moment short story. If so it seems as though his life hasn't gone quite as I had expected it to from reading that story. But I like stories that show what happens to people over a number of years; how their decisions, expectations, or just simply their opportunities, may chance with circumstance.

I look forward to reading more of this story and these characters.

Actually all of the stories I've written are linked.  "The Acquittal" was the first thing I wrote and tells a specific story all on it's own.  This new story is more or less a before, during and after that.  While many characters are in both (like Andy), you could read that and still enjoy this one as much.  While Andy's "destiny" is pretty well set in the first book, there was a lot of room for him to grow and so this book is just as much for him as for Tyler and also continuing them all on their journey through life towards the later half of this book.

I try to make the lives of my characters as simple and complex as real people.  It's not easy but the rewards are worth the effort.  Andy's life has not gone at all according to plan, but in many ways, none of their lives have (except maybe Troy.  Ah, good old Troy.)  But this book will be shedding light on many aspects that were missed or overlooked because, well, Jacob and Kyle were the focal point of the last book.  This one may be more of an ensemble cast rather than one or two main stars towards the end, for all I know.

Thanks for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy it.

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I am famous (or infamous) with authors for my nit-picking attitude toward stories I read. True, I feel the author's responsibility is to be creative and tell a good tale, but the editor has a responsibility too -- to take care of the pace and grammar of the author's work so that simple avoidable errors do not creep in and destroy the reader's pleasure.

Some authors become exercised when, from time to time, I make suggestions about their work. I find it difficult to convince them that I am making suggestions only to assist them. I am not trying to embarrass them or take over their job. My creativity sucks, but I do have a good background in English Composition and may make a suggestion or two about grammar or spelling; never bout creativity, characterization or the story line -- those are the exclusive property of the author.

In reading this first chapter, I have found an author or author/editor combination that has done an excellent job, both in creativity and in grammar details, congratulations and keep up the good work. You have a dedicated audience.

Mister Will

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2 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

I am famous (or infamous) with authors for my nit-picking attitude toward stories I read. True, I feel the author's responsibility is to be creative and tell a good tale, but the editor has a responsibility too -- to take care of the pace and grammar of the author's work so that simple avoidable errors do not creep in and destroy the reader's pleasure.

Some authors become exercised when, from time to time, I make suggestions about their work. I find it difficult to convince them that I am making suggestions only to assist them. I am not trying to embarrass them or take over their job. My creativity sucks, but I do have a good background in English Composition and may make a suggestion or two about grammar or spelling; never bout creativity, characterization or the story line -- those are the exclusive property of the author.

In reading this first chapter, I have found an author or author/editor combination that has done an excellent job, both in creativity and in grammar details, congratulations and keep up the good work. You have a dedicated audience.

Mister Will

Glad you approve. :) I wrote "The Acquittal" with google as my aid and that's why there's so many errors in it.   This time around, I'm using a real Word program.  I think that's the main reason for the improvements though I've been more attentive this time around as well.  

Definitely can't blame being a newbie on my second time around. ;)

Hope you enjoy the rest of the story.

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My impression is that Kyle will be a constant silhouette off in the background, not really taking part in the story, but affecting the action anyway. Sometimes more prominent, and at other times receding into the distance. Until he shows up in the later part of the story.
;–)

Edited by droughtquake
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