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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 - 2. Chapter 2

Spring gave way to Summer and Tyler was sweating under the hot morning sun as he worked alongside the other guys who were putting up an outer wall for a new house. Tyler had come to like some of the guys he worked with over the last few months despite their age differences. Most of the men in the work crew were well over thirty years old which left him feeling like the little kid most of the time. It was a little embarrassing at first but over time the guys came to appreciate his dedication to learning the job. The older guys were sometimes raunchy and told jokes that some might see as offensive, but Tyler mostly turned a deaf ear to it just to keep things going smoothly. Despite his efforts, there was always this uncomfortable barrier that kept Tyler from sharing more about himself with them, so he kept most of his conversations to talking about baseball and the job. He wasn’t sure what if anything about his own personal life he should mention so he kept that to himself.

They were working today to get the frame of a house into place before they could start on the roof the next day. Other teams were getting the interior walls completed for supports and contractors for plumbing and wiring were going to be coming in by the end of the week. It was hard physical work, but Tyler found he enjoyed it. It strained his muscles and forced him to work harder than he used to which only helped him to improve his self-esteem. Andy was helping with the interior, going over the plans with Troy who happened to be on site that day. Tyler found that curious since he’d never seen Troy out on any other site, he had worked on in the past few months. Maybe it had something to do with Andy calling in sick the week before? He didn’t feel it was his place to pry, so Tyler kept his opinions to himself.

Tyler also tried to ignore some of the more disturbing comments some of the other men said about Andy’s wife. None of them said anything outright but what he did hear made him think Andy and Stacy’s marriage wasn’t a very happy one. He’d never seen the two of them together for him to form an opinion one way or the other, but he often wondered why a guy as nice as Andy seemed to be married to someone like her, if what he heard was true. In the last few months, he’d come to see Andy as a friend. More than the other guys he worked with. Yeah, Tyler could admit he was attractive, but it wasn’t about his looks. He was just a nice guy and he didn’t seem to treat him any differently than he treated the others.

He and his co-worker Jim set the frame for the wall in place and held it while two other men bored the holes to secure it to the foundation. Once that was done, they set about working on the next side. As he moved through the inside of the house, he caught a piece of Troy’s conversation with Andy. “I think he’s ready. He’s been cooped up for months. If any of the guys have a problem with it, that’s just too bad.”

“You’re not gonna get any argument from me,” Andy muttered. “I think it’ll take a bit to convince him that, is all I’m saying...”

Tyler kept moving, keeping his eyes ahead so he didn’t look to be eavesdropping. As he moved over to the side, he set to work, helping to build the next frame for the third side he heard Jim, one of the older men on the work crew, muttering softly to Craig next to him. “You hear them talkin’ in there?”

Craig nodded. “They’re talking about the lush, I bet.” They were both what Tyler would think of as redneck wannabes. They talked a lot of bluster and acted tough but he knew they’d be the first to back down in any real fight.

“Fuck,” Jim spat. “Don’t need his fat ass around here. More trouble than he’s worth.”

“I think they got him got dried out. That’s why they haven’t mentioned him in a while.”

Jim said so softly Tyler could barely hear him. “Stupid faggot doesn’t need to be stumbling around here and getting the rest of us killed.”

Tyler kept his eyes focused on getting the nails into the beams to finish the work on the frame. He tried to remain calm, but he couldn’t ignore the cold chill that crept up his back. He’d never heard Jim talk like that or use that word before. From now on he knew he’d have to keep more distance between himself and the two of them.

He kept himself busy, pretending he didn’t hear what the others had said and focused on his work to get the third and then the fourth and final wall up for this section of the house. Troy left not long afterwards as they all took a lunch break. Troy went out of his way to make sure all the teams were outfitted with enough water and anything else they needed in the blazing heat of summer, so no one suffered from heat stress or heat exhaustion. In front of the house they were putting up, a row of coolers sat filled with bottled water and cold towels for anyone who needed them. Most workers on their first few days would eschew them so as to not give the impression that they were weaker or less capable than the others on the crew. Those same workers would see the older, more experienced crew members freely stop to cool off when needed before returning to work. That, plus their own discomfort usually dispelled the notion that those who needed it weren’t as hard working or as tough as the others.

Tyler got his small cooler out of Andy’s truck for his lunch break and moved to a shaded area under a tree before sitting down and opening it up to eat. Two bites into his sandwich, Andy moved over to join him quietly as he leaned back against the tree. They hadn’t spoken much that day with all the work they were doing. Tyler had acclimated well to the job under Andy’s tutelage and patience, helping him learn the skills he needed. The bigger the job an employee did at the company, the more they were usually paid. Without even being aware of it, Tyler was already moving towards being one of the best employees they had.

“You look like you had a rough night,” Tyler commented to Andy. He’d noticed earlier in the day Andy’s eyes were a little bloodshot and he’d been less talkative than he normally was.

“Yeah,” he muttered, scratching his beard. “Didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Tyler nodded. “What was Troy doing out here this morning? Never saw him at a site with us before.”

Andy’s lips raised in one of his customary smirks, though his eyes didn’t seem to sparkle like the normally did. “Don’t worry about it, Nosey.”

Tyler chuckled. “Sorry. Just curious.”

“Nothing to worry about. You’re keeping your job.” Andy took a bite out of his food and remarked, “Troy’s been real impressed with you. Not even six months now and you seem to be learning faster than most of the asshats that’ve been here for years.”

“Oh. Well, thanks,” he kept his face obscured to hide the red tint of his cheeks. He’d never received praise like that in the past.

“We got a guy…” Andy said after a while. “Good guy. Had some trouble but he’s worked it out. He’s gonna come help us finish this house starting tomorrow.”

“How come we need him?”

Andy was quiet for a moment. “He’s good at what he does. Just… be nice to him. A lot of the guys here aren’t gonna be too happy with him around.”

Tyler nodded, already having heard what some of them had said. “Okay.” They ate quietly for a few minutes before Tyler’s curiosity piqued again. “Hey, I was wondering… What happens after it gets too cold to do anymore construction work?”

“Indoor remodeling,” he said dismissively. “Snow removal. Lots of stuff to do inside. Trust me, you’re gonna learn a lot if you stick around. Some guys don’t. They come back the next Spring or whenever. Based on their last year’s work, they usually get rehired no questions asked. Some guys go south to keep working. They mostly are the single bunch. I guess, if you wanted, you could hitch a ride with one of them and keep on working.”

“I can’t leave Ma,” he said frankly. “She’d be lost without me.”

Andy smirked again, shaking his head. “My mom moved away. Back home with her family in Ohio. She calls... Sometimes visits.”

“You don’t go see her?”

“Stacy doesn’t like long car trips,” he replied with a shrug. Tyler could hear the disappointment in his voice. It sounded like the same voice Tyler used when he thought about his dad.

Out of nowhere, Andy suddenly blurted out, “hey, how come a young kid like you doesn’t have a girlfriend?”

Tyler paled a little and searched for an answer. “Um… Guess I just… haven’t been looking. Most of my pay is to keep up with the bills and we’re just now getting to where we’re a little comfortable. Haven’t really had time to do much else other than work.”

Andy smirked a little and nodded. “Seems reasonable. At some point you’re gonna want to get laid. Whatever you do, don’t stick your dick in crazy.”

Tyler giggled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Seriously, though…” Andy paused for a moment. “I never hear you talkin’ like the other guys. Not that that’s a bad thing. Just sayin’ sounds like you just work and not do much of anything else.”

He kept a firm grip on his fear of being discovered. Andy sounded like he was fishing for the truth like he already knew. When he answered, he did his best to appear casual. “That really is about all I do. Watch some TV. Read. All my friends moved away, and they don’t come back much since they graduated.”

“Lost your best friend…?”

Tyler was getting uncomfortable talking about this. He wasn’t used to someone asking him personal questions. “Guess so,” he said with a frown. Hazarding a glance over at Andy he saw a faraway look in the older man’s eyes.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “Been there…” They were silent for a moment before Andy muttered, “time to get back to work.” He got to his feet and took his stuff back to his truck before heading back up to the half-finished house.

Tyler watched him, realizing maybe Andy was maybe needing the talk for himself more than for Tyler’s benefit. He mostly ignored the banter with the other guys the rest of the day. When he could spare a moment, he checked on Andy who’d been unusually quiet the rest of the day. Every time he glanced his way, he found Andy staring at the plans for the house. A few times he thought he saw Andy’s jaw clench under his beard. That was when Tyler got a sense that Andy probably wasn’t coming to work the next day.

Hours later, with the walls up and the tarps over the frame to prevent any excess moisture settling into the wood, Andy called it a day, knowing they couldn’t really do anything else until the struts for the roof arrived tomorrow. It had been a productive day and they were ahead of schedule. Assuming the weather held, they could get the house done by the end of the month.

Tyler helped put away the equipment before heading to Andy’s truck. Just as he was about open the passenger door, Andy put his hand on Tyler’s shoulder. “Hey,” he said said in an oddly strained voice, “you got a driver’s license, right?” Tyler looked at him oddly and nodded. Andy seemed a little relieved and held his keys out to him. “How about you drive us back to HQ?”

Tyler stared at him for a second before finally taking the keys. “Uh… sure.” Andy said nothing just got in the passenger seat with a sigh and closed his eyes. Tyler walked around the truck, got behind the wheel and started the truck up and headed back to the office. Tyler did his best to keep his eyes on the road and stayed within the speed limit. Every so often, he would glance over to find Andy staring blankly out the side window. At one point, he saw Andy’s leg bouncing up and down like he had developed some sort of nervous condition. He couldn’t understand what was making Andy look so lost. He wanted to be his friend but at the same time didn’t know what to do or say.

The two of them arrived back at the office and headed inside. Tyler passed the keys back to Andy as they walked in, with Andy going past him and through the door that lead to the front of the building. After filling out his timesheet, Tyler headed through the door and into the small locker room where some of the employees stored their stuff. Being employed there for long enough, he’d been encouraged to keep his work boots stored here in a locker along with other things. Then he could change into shoes better suited for the long walk home.

He was just finishing up and heading down the hall when he overheard Andy’s voice raise through the closed door of Troy’s office. “What do you mean she left early?!” Tyler paused for a moment. He looked up and down the hallway. No one else seemed to be left. For some unknown reason he chose to stay and wait, hearing the muffled conversation on the other side of the door.

“I don’t know what else to tell you. She told me she had an appointment to keep and just left. I didn’t think to ask where she was going.”

“You didn’t see her with anybody?”

“No. I’m sorry, I didn’t think to check.”

“Not your fault. How the hell am I gonna get the kids home?”

“Just go to David’s and wait around long enough. He’ll ask you to stay for dinner. That’ll give you time to calm down. And you do need to calm down.” Tyler felt a pang of remorse in his chest for Andy. Figuring he wasn’t needed, he walked out and headed home. He tried not to think about what he’s heard and how Andy looked. But it was hard to forget. Andy was pretty much his only friend in his life at the moment. He wanted to help but he felt powerless to do anything useful. Feeling guilty for no other reason than he didn’t know what to do to help, Tyler quietly slipped out of the office and headed home.

As his shoes crunched through the remnants of gravel leading from the street to his mom’s trailer he sighed and looked around the trailer park. There were so few left that had anyone living in them now. Maybe a third of them the last time he hazarded a guess. None of that mattered though. He was getting paid again at the end of the week and maybe this paycheck he could have enough saved up that he could get a truck or at least a car. He didn’t mind going to sites with Andy, but it would be nice to have his own transportation. He was going to be twenty-one soon and he’d like to be able to go out and celebrate it with someone he actually liked.

He went up the three short steps to the trailer door and stepped in. Despite all the concerns for his friend, his lips lifted in a small smile when he saw his mom sitting in her customary spot in her recliner. “Hey, Ma.”

His mother was smiling up at him as he walked in the door. “You look like you put in some hard work today. Wanna take a shower and then we can go grab some dinner?”

“Sure,” he replied. “Gimme a few minutes and we can go wherever.” He went to get a change of clothes before stepping into the bathroom for a quick but thorough shower. He decided to spike up his short hair a little, wanting to look nice if not for anyone else at least to make himself feel better. He needed to shake off the worries about the bills and everything else that had been on his mind for the past couple months.

Colleen drove them to a local Italian restaurant not far from home. When they sat down a young woman near Tyler’s age came up to take their order. She was polite and friendly, but Colleen noticed her eyes were mostly on Tyler. She suppressed a grin as she watched her son order for the both of them since they’d been here enough times that he knew what she was going to order anyway. She was so proud of her son. Her only regret was that she wasn’t able to give him a better life growing up.

His father hadn’t shown much interest in Tyler since their divorce. He paid his child support but rarely spent time with him. He used the fact he had moved back to New Jersey as an excuse whenever Tyler had wanted to see him when he was a child. After years apart and Tyler came into his teenage years, he came to understand that his dad wasn’t interested in being his father. The contact became less and less frequent. Once Tyler was eighteen, it pretty much stopped there. Colleen couldn’t remember the last time either of them had heard from him.

“She seemed pretty,” Colleen remarked after the waitress left their table.

Tyler just shrugged. “Guess so.”

“You guess so?” Colleen giggled softly. “Sweetheart, don’t you think it’s time you at least tried to find a girlfriend?”

Tyler unconsciously squirmed in his seat. “Ma… Let’s not get into this here.”

She looked around casually before replying. “I’m just worried about you, honey. You’re young and handsome. You have a decent job now. You don’t give yourself enough credit. I’m sure she or any other girl your age would love to go out with you.”

Tyler was saved from having to answer right away when the waitress returned with their drinks. But the reprieve was only temporary at best, he knew. Eventually, he would have to tell his mother the truth. Maybe he should tonight? His nervousness started to show on his face, and he could feel his cheeks start to get warm. “It’s ok, Ma. I’m fine.”

Colleen eyed him dubiously but saw his unease and decided to let the matter drop. “Alright, sweetheart. Any plans for the big day next week?”

He smirked a little and shook his head. “Not yet. Just planning on getting my new driver’s license so the bartenders know I’m twenty-one.”

“What about the guys you work with? Have they invited you out to celebrate?”

He gave her a confused look. Not really understanding what she meant. “Uh… No. I haven’t really mentioned it to anyone.”

Colleen sighed as she rolled her eyes. “Well, you probably should mention something to them. I’m sure they’d love to go out and celebrate with you.”

Tyler started thinking about the conversation he heard between Jim and Craig earlier and highly doubted that. “We’ll see.”

“Sweetheart,” she sighed. “Just relax. Tell them you’re turning twenty-one next week and I promise they’ll want to do something for you.”

“Okay, Ma.” He wanted to believe her. But she didn’t know all the facts. He should have told her. It wasn’t like she was going to throw him out or anything. She needed him almost as much as he needed her. This wasn’t the time or place to tell her, though. He’ll wait until later.

Their conversation turned to less important topics after their food arrived. Colleen was always full of gossip from around town and he was only half paying attention when her words broke through his internal thoughts, “... of course, then she sees her husband walking into the store with that tramp, Stacy…”

Tyler looked up with sudden interest. “Wait, who?”

“Carl, Ashley’s husband. She works in the back of the store so he must’ve thought she wouldn’t know he was there with Stacy. But there he was, bold as brass, goin’ in to get somethin’ in the pharmacy. Probably condoms, knowing them.”

“Ok, but, who’s Stacy?” He was hoping he didn’t know who it was.

“Dunno much about her but she’s got this husband who’s a former marine, so I’m told.” His mom shrugged dismissively. “Why? You know her?”

Tyler felt his heart drop into his stomach as he suddenly understood Andy’s outburst earlier. “I’ve heard of her.”

“Well, just goes to show you how some people can be.” She shrugged and finished her dinner.

Not long after, they paid for their meal and headed back home. It was still relatively early so Tyler joined his mom at her request to sit and watch TV with her. He relaxed on the couch while she sat in her patch covered recliner. Both of them silently enjoying each other’s company. Nearly all his life it had always been just the two of them. His mom sacrificed a lot for him, and he was well aware of it. But she encouraged him to always be the best he could at whatever he set his mind too. She made time as best she could to see him play little league baseball and went to all his school sporting events.

As much as he disliked their trailer, it had been his home almost his entire life. He had scant memories of when his mom and dad were married. He could remember when they moved in and all the people that used to live in the trailer park. How weird he felt going from a nice suburban Philadelphia home to this. One of his earliest memories of being here was the night when he was woken to the flashing lights of multiple police cars across from his trailer and hearing the yelling going on as they carted some man away. He’d never been scared at home before but that night he was frightened and after that avoided contact with the others in the trailer park.

Now, however, it was starting to feel like a trap. A sinkhole that he couldn’t escape from no matter how hard he tried. And even if he could, how could he leave his mom behind? She needed him. Sometimes it felt like she was the only one who needed him. He thought about all the guys he used to know he thought were so cute. Or guys who he saw around town. He wondered what it would feel like to actually be touched by one. Be kissed or stripped naked and find out what he’d been missing. Maybe after he’s twenty-one, he can meet someone.

“Hey,” his mom’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “What was it you were going to say about why you haven’t found a girlfriend?”

Tyler glanced over at his mom before avoiding her curious eyes. “Nothin’. Just… I dunno.”

“What’s holding you back, dear?”

“Because I’m poor,” he said bluntly. “Who’d wanna go out on a date with me? I can barely afford McDonald’s at this point.”

“Okay,” Colleen said carefully as she turned her full attention to him. “Well, I don’t think that’s true. Anyone who’s going to love you or want to date you isn’t going to care where and how you live or how much money you make. I want you to be happy, sweetheart. I want you to find a girl and show her just how great of a guy you are and make her go nuts over you.”

“Ma…” Tyler groaned slightly. “I don’t see it happening.”

“Tell me one girl you’ve been interested in in the last couple months and I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to win her over.” Colleen was smiling. A sure sign she wasn’t going to give up until she found the perfect girl for her son.

“I don’t know, Ma,” he said trying to keep his frustration out of his voice. “I just never really notice, I guess.”

“Well, I know a young girl at work who’d love to meet you,” she said. “In fact, maybe I should invite her to celebrate your birthday with you.”

“Oh, God, Ma, don’t.” This was starting to feel like torture.

“Why not…?!” Colleen laughed lightly at his sudden unease. “I promise, she’s interested. And I’ll even stay out of the way if you want me too. I’ll go spend the night at Judy’s house and watch old movies and gossip with her. Her name is Lucy. She’s just a year or two older than you, I think…”


“... She’s really sweet. She’s got blonde hair…”

“Ma, please…” He was starting to feel sick. He couldn’t tell if it was the food or knowing what might happen in the next few minutes.

“Sweetheart,” Colleen said sweetly, “I just want you to be happy. You could just have some drinks with her and get to know her at first. You might like her, but you won’t know until you try.”

“Ma…” He’d reached an impasse. His mom was like a dog clutching a bone and wasn’t going to let up until she got him the perfect girlfriend. It was either that or tell her the truth. “I…” The words suddenly stuck in his throat. He wasn’t sure how to say it without upsetting her.

“What…?” Her smile faded slightly, wondering why he looked so pale.

“The thing is…” He closed his eyes and prayed this wouldn’t go badly. “I’m… not… really into girls.”

Colleen tilted her head in confusion, wondering why he wouldn’t be interested in girls. “Why wouldn’t you…” She paused as a possibility suddenly occurred to her. “Wait… Tyler, what are you trying to tell me?”

“I’m… I’m gay, Ma.” He lowered his head, waiting for the worst but hoping for the best.

Colleen Brewer sat there staring at him for a moment, trying to wrap her head around this new information. “Oh.” She sat back in her chair, thinking it through, wondering to herself how she hadn’t noticed it before. “Well…” She wasn’t sure what the right way to react was. “So… how long have you known this?”


“How long have you known you’re gay?”

He shrugged. “I dunno. Years, I guess. Since I was like 12.”

She blinked and couldn’t suppress a grin. “And you’re just now telling me?!”

He looked up at her, confused. “Well… I wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

"‘Ma, I’m gay.’ That’s how you tell me.” Her frank tone was softened by her amused smile. “What, did you think I was gonna throw a fit or something? Tear my hair out and wail like a banshee?”

Tyler’s lips slowly lifted in a shy smirk. “Maybe. I dunno, Ma. I just didn’t wanna give you a reason to be upset or anything.”

“You got a lot to learn, little boy,” she laughed. “Well, now that I know, I guess the wedding between you and Lucy is off.” Her laughter brightened Tyler’s mood which she was glad to see when he let out a few soft chuckles of his own. “Just so we’re clear; you’re my little boy still and I love you just as much as I always have. One little part of you doesn’t change who you are.”

“Love you, Ma,” he said, just realizing how much of a weight had been lifted off of him.

“I love you to, honey.” She shut off the TV and got up. “I’m tired and I gotta work in the morning and so do you.”

Tyler stood up and Colleen came up to him and gave him a warm hug and a kiss on his cheek. “Thanks, Ma.”

“Goodnight, precious.” She went down the hall and closed the door to her room behind her. Tyler went around, turning off all the lights before heading to bed himself. When he finally slid into bed, he lay there, thinking of how lucky he was to have his mother in his life.




Tyler was putting on his boots in the locker room when he heard the door open. Everyone else on his crew were ready to go for the day so he was expecting to see Andy coming in to get him to get him. When he turned to look, his mouth fell open slightly. Standing in front of him was a stranger with long black hair. His build was lean with broad shoulders that tapered down to a narrow waist. His short-sleeved shirt was tight against his chest and his jeans gripped his body in all the right places. But the part that made Tyler’s own pants start to feel cramped was the stranger’s bright blue eyes as he regarded Tyler. None of the guys on the baseball team or any of the guys in his graduating class looked half as good as this guy did.

“Hey,” the stranger said in a deep voice that sent a chill up Tyler’s back.

It took Tyler a moment to realize he was being spoken to and another second to muster up a reply. “Oh… Hey.”

The man gave him a curious look. “Are you Tyler?”

There was another pause before Tyler managed to say, “yup.” That’s when he realized he was coming off as a fool and got himself under control. “Tyler Brewer. Are you new here?”

“Not exactly,” he replied. “I’m Jacob. I’m filling in for Andy the rest of the week.”

“Is he okay?”

Jacob just shrugged. “He’ll be fine in a couple days. Anyway, Troy told me to come get you so we can head out.”

Tyler took that as his cue to stand up. He was still staring at Jacob as his imagination went wild with the ideas of what he’d like to be doing with him alone. “Sure. I’m ready when you are.”

Jacob rewarded him with a small smile and said, “well, then, let’s go. We got a roof to put up.”

Tyler obediently followed him out of the locker room and out to a grey Ford pickup that was maybe five or six years old. The door squeaked slightly as Tyler got into the passenger side, but the inside looked clean and well kept. Jacob climbed in and started up the truck. As he pulled out of the parking area, he cleared his throat before saying in a halting voice, “so… how long have you been working here?”

“About four months now,” he replied, sneaking a glance over at Jacob as he drove. Tyler was captivated by his arms. The muscles there seemed to pop up each time he moved the wheel, so much so it held his attention the entire ride. He was about to ask how he ended up supervising a crew when it suddenly occurred to him. “You’re another old friend of Troy’s, aren’t you?”

Jacob’s lips twisted up in a small smirk and nodded. “Yeah. I started working for Sam right out of high school. Worked for him for about... oh, six or seven years. Then I started doing some work on my own for about a year.”

“You got your own business now?” Tyler couldn’t hide his surprise.

Jacob’s smirk faltered a little. “I… well, I did. Mostly just contracting little things. Then I got sidetracked for about a year.” There was an odd silence that Tyler felt was unsettling for a moment that made him look away and out the side window. “Now… Just slowly picking up the pieces.”

Tyler didn’t feel comfortable looking back at him so he missed the melancholy look in his eyes before Jacob blinked and sighed. “So, you came back to do this?”

Jacob chuckled a little. “Wasn’t planning on it. Troy called and he talked me into it and then Sam sweetened the offer if I get this house done in a month.”

“What about Andy?”

"Oh, he’ll be back soon enough. He’s just… he’s having a bad week.”

Tyler had to ask. He couldn’t help it. “What’s wrong with him?”

Jacob sighed and kept his eyes on the road. “It’s complicated.”

Tyler frowned, feeling like he was being dismissed for being too young to understand. “I’m guessing it has something to do with his wife.”

Jacob glanced over at him. “What makes you say that?”

He shrugged and replied, “just stuff I hear.”

“Don’t believe everything you hear,” Jacob said with a frown. Jacob pulled his truck over next to the house they had been working on.

As Tyler got out, he looked around and saw that some of the crew were already on the ladders around the top of the house working to get everything prepared for the long day’s work putting up the roof. Jacob grabbed the plans from the truck and looked them over inside while keeping a careful eye on what was going on around him. Tyler kept himself busy but stayed near Jacob. Partly to see if he needed anything but mostly because he just didn’t want to leave his presence. It felt almost like a gravitational pull kept him in Jacob’s orbit and he either couldn’t or wouldn’t escape.

It didn’t take much to notice the other guys on the crew weren’t fond of Jacob. They did what he told them they needed to do but their body language communicated that they were only doing it because it was their job not because they wanted too. Tyler saw Jacob’s stoic reaction and felt sorry for him. Through most of the morning, he would go to Jacob for whatever assignment he needed done after he’d finished up the last task Jacob gave him. Tyler made sure he got done as quickly as possible without making any mistakes and head back to Jacob for his next job.

It was most telling when noon came around and most of the men on the crew just stopped working and walked away without saying anything to Jacob. Tyler noticed he seemed to just take it in stride. Once most of them had left, Jacob asked Tyler if he wanted to grab some food for lunch together which he was all too eager to say yes too. Jacob drove them to Mc. Donald’s and opted to sit in the dining room so they could cool off after the hot morning spent in the sun.

After getting their lunch and taking a table, they enjoyed a comfortable silence as they chewed on their food. After a few minutes, Jacob finally looked over at Tyler and asked him, “So, what do you plan on doing with yourself?”

Tyler looked up with a confused look. “Uh… I don’t know what you mean.”

“You planning on nailing up siding and shingles all your life,” he asked.

Tyler frowned slightly, not having thought much about the future. “I dunno. I mean… I still got plenty of time to decide on what I wanna do. Right now, I just wanna be able to help my mom and maybe get a car or something.”

Jacob nodded. “Seems reasonable. I didn’t know much what I wanted right out of high school. Well, job wise, at least. I kind of fell into carpentry but I enjoy it.”

Tyler smiled slightly. “Hey, if you’re good at it and you enjoy it, then you must’ve found the right calling.”

Jacob chuckled. “Pretty much. How old are you anyway?”

“Twenty,” he replied with a dismissive shrug. “Twenty-one next Friday.”

Jacob seemed a little surprised. “Really? Wow, you are young. Not that I can talk much. I’m only Thirty.”

“What did you mean earlier today, about ‘picking up the pieces?’”

“Just…” Jacob sighed and shrugged. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes.”

Tyler recognized the look in Jacob’s eyes. It was someone who carried a lot of guilt around. The same look his mom gets when she thinks he isn’t looking. “It can’t be all bad. What are you planning on doing with your carpentry business?”

“Well, it’s not an official business yet,” he replied. “I’m working on getting everything I need to get the building constructed and hoping to be done by the end of August. A lot to do before that and I’m in a hurry. I’m hoping to get Sam’s help. If I can get this house done under budget, then he said he’d help me out.”

“Oh…” Tyler sat back in his seat, understanding now. “Well… I guess that’s a good enough reason for me to work a little harder.” He smirked a little.

“Just don’t say anything to the others,” he said seriously. “They’d love nothing more than to screw me over.”

“How come?”

Jacob frowned slightly and glanced out the window. “Let’s just say, they remember the person I used to be. The fact that I’m friends with Troy and Andy doesn’t help much either. It’s a long story and I really don’t feel like getting into it.”

Tyler nodded. “That’s fine.” He respected Jacob’s privacy, but he also didn’t want to alienate him either. Something about Jacob seemed to grab his attention. He was obviously handsome but to Tyler, he could see a lot more and he wanted to find out what kind of a man he is.

When the finished eating they headed back to the work site. By the time Jacob and Tyler were getting ready to start in again the rest of the crew showed back up. Jacob started handing out duties for everyone as the work to get the roof completed began in earnest. For Tyler, the day was rougher than he was used to. Mostly because he was working faster than he normally did. He wanted to impress Jacob and show him he wanted to help him. Occasionally, Tyler would look over to Jacob to get his opinion. Jacob would smile with a little warmth in his eyes and nod his head approvingly before going back to the others to make sure the outer walls and insulation were being put up correctly. Tyler could feel his face flush with pleasure whenever Jacob would smile at him. He had a nice smile and it made him look… sexier.

By the end of the afternoon, all the outer walls and insulation had been put up and the roof was covered. By tomorrow, the shingles could start being attached and then they could start work on the siding. That would most likely be two more days of work before that was finished and then it would be several more days to get the interior completed. Jacob was following the plans exactly and Tyler knew they could get this house done in two weeks if everyone pulled their weight.

Tyler rode with Jacob back to the office, feeling more accomplished than usual after a hard day in the sun. “You did good today,” Jacob said with another one of those smiles that made his blue eyes light up and make Tyler’s stomach suddenly flip.

“Yeah… Thanks.” He blushed red as he replied. “Just wanting to help you is all. Since the guys were being kind of dicks to you all day.”

“I don’t let that bother me,” he replied simply and said no more about it.

Once Jacob parked in the back lot of the office building, they went inside together. Tyler was a little surprised to find Troy standing in the room with a pleased smile on his face. “Well, how was your first day back?”

Jacob chuckled and rolled his eyes. “You make it sound like it’s a big deal, dude. We gotta good portion done. I figure at the rate we’re going we should be done in two and a half weeks.”

Troy just shrugged. “I’m just glad I got you out of the house. You’ve been cooped up for way too long.”

Jacob seemed a little embarrassed talking about it in front of Tyler who he barely knew. “I’m fine. Really. My therapist said I’m about as good as I’m going to get.”

Tyler looked over a Jacob with surprise and concern. “Uh… Maybe I should go finish up my time sheet.”

Troy nodded. “Go ahead, Tyler.” He waited until Tyler was out of the room before saying to Jacob in a softer tone. “I’m serious. You need to get out more. I’ve barely seen you in the last nine months.”

Jacob sighed and nodded slightly. “Yeah, I know. David’s been saying the same thing. I just… I dunno. I’m still feel a little… ‘raw’, I guess is the right word to describe it. The guys were being dicks today.”

“Ignore them,” Troy said bluntly. “I’d fire the lot of them if I could. So, how did Tyler do?”

“He’s great,” Jacob said honestly. “He works hard, does his best no matter what and stays attentive. Give him a couple years of experience and he might be running one of your crews.”

Troy smirked a little. “That’s what I keep hearing. I think I might give him some more responsibility.”

“Well, whatever you do, go easy on him,” Jacob cautioned. “He’s still young and I think he’s got issues.”

“Sounds like someone I remember,” Troy said with a knowing look. Jacob rewarded him with a droll look before he continued. “One other thing. Andy mentioned it to me, and I’d like to keep it between us for now. Not sure how he would have figured this out but he’s of the opinion that Tyler’s gay.”

Jacob frowned slightly at the news. “Why are you telling me?”

“I’m not…” Troy grumbled. “I think it would do him some good to know he’s not alone is all. It’s a small town and he doesn’t have any friends.”

Jacob sighed. “We’ll see.”

The door opened and Tyler walked back into the room with a cautious air around him. The two of them turned to regard him with Troy giving him an approving smile. “All set for the day?”

“Yes, sir,” he said with a nod.

Troy nodded. “Ok then. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you then,” he said with a smile before heading out the back door.

A few seconds after he left, Jacob came out and called out to him. “Hey, Tyler. Why don’t you let me drive you home? You’ve been on your feet enough for one day.”

“Oh,” the young man blushed, “it’s no trouble. I do it all the time.”

“Well, then I can drive you home as an extra reward for doing a good job today.”

Tyler seemed a little pensive at first but finally relented. “Well…. If you really want to.”

Jacob’s smile was charming enough to silence any other protest. “I do. Go ahead and get in.” Jacob started up the truck and waited for Tyler to climb in and belt himself in before he backed out of his parking space and started to turn onto the street. “Where do you live, anyway?”

"Uh… It’s… just down on 2nd avenue.” Tyler started to feel embarrassed and had to look away from Jacob.

Jacob made the turn onto the street. He was three blocks down when he suddenly realized where he was headed. He didn’t know what to say so he waited for Tyler to say something else. Unfortunately, he never said anything else by the time Jacob pulled up at the entrance to the trailer park he remembered only in his nightmares. Tyler interpreted Jacob’s silence as pity at best. His embarrassment turned into full blown shame as he reached for the door handle so he could flee from this horrible moment. Just as his fingers touched the handle, he felt Jacob’s hand on his arm, startling him. “Hey. Which lot number do you live in?”

Tyler looked over at him finally, trying to determine why Jacob asked him. “Eight,” he said flatly.

Jacob nodded and said in a softer tone, “I used to live in number ten.”

Tyler relaxed a little and he offered a small smile. “It’s home.”

Jacob nodded. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

"See you then,” he got out of the truck and started walking up the muddy drive.

Jacob watched him go for a moment. It brought back unwanted memories, but they were tempered by the other memories that reminded him that there was a time when he wasn’t alone. Maybe, it is time he stopped hiding and start living again? And maybe it was time he gave back some of what he had been given.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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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.
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Chapter Comments

15 hours ago, Dathi said:

Well written and well paced, I am really enjoying you story so far.  Thank you for sharing this story, very well done.

I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.  This is just scratching the surface of the story as a whole and Tyler is a pretty complex character.  The pacing is to mostly keep a kind of similar feel from the original book.  Long stretches of time broken up by significant events that drive the overall narrative.

The story really kicks in high gear once things start to move forward a bit more.

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13 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Awesome chapter.


2 hours ago, mfa607 said:

What a great chapter! Thank you! 

Thank you. I hope you guys continue to enjoy what's to come. 

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2 hours ago, Brokenbind said:

If only everyone could have such a supportive Ma.

Tyler has a lot more going for him than he realizes most of the time.

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So now we meet the mysterious Jacob. Wonder if he will be a good mentor for Tyler, or if something more will develop. Lots of possibilities. 

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4 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

So now we meet the mysterious Jacob. Wonder if he will be a good mentor for Tyler, or if something more will develop. Lots of possibilities. 

Jacob is a little different from the previous book.  You'll figure out why soon enough and hopefully see just how much he changes between now and Kyle's eventual return.  He's a little more like his shy younger self in some ways and still finding his footing here in the beginning.

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Posted (edited)

I love the way you are giving the reader just enough information to make it clear that there are issues in some of the characters' lives, but are not as yet letting us know exactly what those issues are (although, of course, that doesn't stop me from speculating at times). Tyler is probably anxious to know what Jacob's back story is, but he's either wise enough, or just too shy, to come out and ask him directly.

I'm beginning to really like Tyler's mother. It's possible that she may feel slightly responsible for the fact that Tyler has had few opportunities in life, but she obviously loves him. Her reaction when he came out to her seems proof of that.

The final paragraph leaves me hopeful. And, hopefully, I'm not going to be disappointed as the story moves forward.

Great stuff, @Jdonley75! :thumbup:

Edited by Marty
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11 hours ago, nix said:

Jacob’s arms is probably my favorite character lol.

The reason why I put so much emphasis on his body is more or less to establish the changes he's gone through.  If you read The Acquittal, his body is quite larger then than it is at this point in his life.  In a lot of ways, his physical appearance is an outward sign of his inner well being.

Also, Tyler has the hots for him and I was able to use that as an excuse to do all of the above because he's going to have a crush on the dark haired quiet man he just met.  And that's just one of many things going on with Tyler as far as his personal life is concerned.

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Those of us who already read The Acquittal know why Andy was able to figure out that Tyler is Gay!

It was important to both Tyler and Jacob that Jacob ask about the lot number. It helped establish that he knew something about the park enough to reassure Tyler that it was okay to tell him the number. That Jacob responded by telling him which lot he used to live on further reassured Tyler that he wasn’t being judged.

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15 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Those of us who already read The Acquittal know why Andy was able to figure out that Tyler is Gay!

It was important to both Tyler and Jacob that Jacob ask about the lot number. It helped establish that he knew something about the park enough to reassure Tyler that it was okay to tell him the number. That Jacob responded by telling him which lot he used to live on further reassured Tyler that he wasn’t being judged.

It was a good bonding moment letting Tyler know he's not the only person who's lived there.


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Tyler's mother is a gem. She accepted his big announcement without any problem. He also is pretty well accepted (by being ignored) by the other members of the crew. My gay bone itches when I consider the relationship working with Jacob, but the course of true love...

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12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our aspects of our lives.

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