Life Goes On - 2. Chapter 2
Around quarter to four Friday afternoon, we gathered in a circle at Doug and Brian’s entryway. Derrick softly smiled, “See ya later,” and then leaned over to give Mike a goodbye kiss. Without prompting, he then gave hugs to Prez and I. Opening the front door, he sighed, “Later dudes.”
The moment the door closed again, Mike asked, “What’s happening tonight?” He then grinned, “Shaving? It’s gotta be growing back by now.”
Prez nodded and laughed, “It’s getting itchy too!”
Looking away innocently, I reached into my shorts and scratched.
Mike nudged me and chuckled, “When mine grew back last summer, I swear I felt like Al Bundy, constantly scratching myself and adjusting my dick.”
I snickered, “Derrick wouldn’t scratch it for you?”
Shoving me hard and knocking me off balance for a moment, Mike sneered, “He sure did; just not as often as I really needed.”
Prez giggled at us then asked, “Ya wanna go camping Mike?”
Brightening up, Mike asked, “When and where?”
I answered, “Tonight, at the Angeles National Forest.”
Mike groaned, “Oh man, Shaun and Gill are supposed be here around seven.”
Prez smiled, “Its cool, dude. Keith’s dad will be with us this time anyway.”
I reminded, “And you’d have to have Derrick meet us there.”
Mike slowly nodded, “Yeah, we’ll try to make a Yosemite trip though.”
Prez hollered, “Yosemite?”
Grimacing, I slammed my eyes shut. Reopening them, I glared at Mike and softly grumbled, “Nice goin’, shit-head.”
Wide-eyed, Mike hopped back away from me and giggled, “It was a secret?”
Tugging on my shirt, Prez smiled, “We’re going to Yosemite? Really?”
Slightly disappointed, I nodded and asked, “Surprised?”
Rapidly nodding, Prez fluidly slid against me and passionately kissed me. I closed my eyes until we broke the kiss. Turning to Mike, Prez smiled and held up the lickity-split signal.
Mike snickered and opened the door for us. As we walked towards him, he reminded, “Give a ring tomorrow – my house, not here.”
As we passed the threshold, I nodded and Prez gleefully said, “Probably around noon, bud.”
Stepping outside and hearing the door close behind us, I asked, “Did you forget that you and my dad need to get together?”
Prez shook his head and explained, “Mike seemed a little torn for a second there. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned camping.” We got in the 4Runner and he sighed, “I guess it’s better to invite than not to invite, huh?”
I nodded, “We let him off the hook easy too. Mike will be fine with Shaun and Gil. Doug and Brian might be around too.”
Prez started the engine and we both reached for the gear shifter. I lightly rested my hand on his as he engaged first gear and pulled away. He effortlessly shifted into second gear and our arms moved in unison. Wondering if the weight of my hand was interfering with his shifting, I asked “Is this too much?”
Obviously uncertain, Prez glanced my way. I looked down at my hand on his and he quickly said, “God no! Leave it right there.” Shifting to neutral as he approached an intersection, Prez smoothly tapped the brakes and smiled, “When are we going to Yosemite?”
I giggled, “Pretty soon.”
Stopped at the intersection, he loudly whined, “Come on!” I shook my head and buttoned my lip. Grumbling, Prez pulled away. He asked, “For our anniversary?”
I shook my head and chuckled, “Oh no. I want to be alone with you, naked in the house that entire weekend.”
He hummed provocatively then asked, “July?”
I grinned and reminded, “I’ll need a credit card to make reservations.”
Prez uncertainly repeated, “Reservations?”
I nodded, “The Park is really busy and they only allow so many visitors to each section. We have several choices. We could hang out by the giant redwoods?”
He joked, “They might remind me of your giant red wood and we’d never get out of the tent!”
I snickered and said, “I was thinking, for your first trip, that we’d start at the valley. If you want, we could get a hotel room. Or, they have canvas tents right there in the valley. They’re all set up with cots, sheets and blankets too. From there, we could see the biggies like Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Vernal Falls.”
“I like the tent idea. We don’t need a hotel room.”
“There’s plenty there too, Prez - a grocery store, a gift shop, a camping supplies place and a huge pool to cool off in after a long day hiking.”
Bouncing in his seat happily, Prez shouted, “Sold! Let’s go now!”
Squeezing his hand, I cracked up.
Instructed to keep mum, I couldn’t warn Prez about the questions my dad would ask while preparing him for the trial. I wanted to say something, but the questions my dad expected from Jake’s defense lawyers revolved around homosexuality – at the personal level. For my dad, it was important that Prez not know the sort of questions he would be asked. That way, my dad could coach him more effectively.
The defense lawyers could get away with this line of questioning by saying that it was relevant to the case. But the more likely purpose would be to upset each of the four of us – to get us to say something stupid while under oath so that the jury would have reasonable doubt and thus, find Jake not guilty of a charge. If they could, the defense attorneys would try to make the attack appear to have been a homosexual fantasy gone awry.
Believe me, Jake was not fantasy material to any of us.
There were so many charges against Jake: carrying a concealed weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and finally, attempted murder – to name only a few of the worst. Jake was looking at twenty years in the clink if he was found guilty of premeditated attempted murder.
Of course, our attorneys wanted to have Jake tried as an adult. That would make the various sentences more severe. The defense attorneys wanted to have Jake tried as a minor and most of the charges dropped or reduced. Since April, attorneys have been bantering back and forth. Even though no agreement had been reached, my dad mentioned that one could occur at any time. Our attorney’s wanted the maximum punishment for Jake with the least emotional trauma for all parties.
Prez parked the 4Runner in front of our house. We got out and I retrieved the Macy’s sacks from the backseat. Reaching for each other, we walked hand-in-hand to the house. Stepping inside, we found John, showered and dressed, but still sitting on the sofa. A legal pad and pen were on the coffee table. We said hello. While Prez greeted Rush, I went over to my brother and asked, “How’s it goin’?”
John snarled, “This sucks.” He picked up the pad and showed it to me. The date was at the top. Along the side were time stamps and beside each were the programs John watched. Underneath each title were little essays about the program. There were only movies on the list – probably assigned by my mom. Prez took the Macy’s sacks from me and went to our room with Rush trotting along side.
I sighed, “I know it sucks bro. But maybe, if you show some effort, you might get a reprieve from the couch sooner rather than later.”
“I’m all for that!” John loudly agreed. “But what do they want?” John hollered and pointed at the pad. “That’s what the movies were about.”
I frowned, “Is that really what mom and dad asked for – summaries of what the movies were about?”
Confused, he shook his head violently and whined, “Character interaction. What does that mean?”
“Exactly what it sounds like – it takes two or more to interact, right?” John nodded and I said, “So take notes on really intense scenes; then maybe in another movie, a romantic scene or a comic moment and what made it funny to you. Take special notice of facial expressions and tone of voice. Like that.” Prez came over and looked at the pad. I asked, “What do you think?”
Slightly startled, Prez shrugged, “I don’t think this is about writing, John. I would suggest taking short notes as the movie progresses, a phrase here or there about this or that, just enough to remind you of the scenes so you can talk about it with them.”
“You communicate every day with us here at home.” I smiled down at my brother and said, “Sure, you try to be a wise ass… Are you playing that scene when you’re out and about?”
John shrugged, “How are you supposed to be with strangers?” Then he hollered, “Especially when the dude was a total dick! We weren’t in anyone’s way! And we didn’t know there was a cop in there!”
I sighed, “It’s his store, dude. If he bugs you so much, then don’t spend your money there. Go some place else. And if the clerk asks you once to move along, don’t make him or her ask twice. It’s sure not worth being belligerent, is it?”
John shrugged, “What’s bull-igerant?”
“Showing any form of aggression,” I answered.
“Is hanging for more than a minute or two really worth a fight?” Prez asked. He then shrugged, “Step outside, git yer shit together and move along.”
John hollered, “They accused us of frightening off customers; by just sitting there in the shade!”
Prez softly said, “Some older people get scared, John.”
Shaking his head sadly, John huffed, “It’s not Roll A Geezer week. I think they cancelled it.”
Prez roared, but quickly covered his mouth then wandered off to the kitchen with Rush bouncing around at his feet.
I giggled, “See! It’s so stupid and definitely not worth this kinda hassle so why even go there? And if this particular dude is such a dick, then don’t even buy a soda from him, go somewhere else.”
“Some people just take advantage,” John mumbled. “They treat us like we’re not even there sometimes, but then other times, we’re like criminals or something. What’s up with that?”
I tried to explain, “It all depends on the person, bro. Like someone might not see you and jump into a line before you. So you nicely say, ‘Excuse me, we were here first.’ They might apologize and step back or they might cop an attitude. Don’t let yourself get angry though. Try a smile and few extra innocent blinks and softly tell them that they’re being rude. Sure they’ll go off, but the important thing is you haven’t gotten just as angry. When a manger or store security comes over to find out what the problem is, they’re the ones that are out of control – not you.”
Prez returned to us and asked, “Is there anything that we do that bugs you, John?” I was only slightly surprised that Prez had asked the question and smiled at my lover then turned to John. Prez prodded, “Really, man. Now’s your chance. What is it?”
John hummed, “A couple of things.”
He paused, but didn’t crack a smile. I suggested, “Too much sex, huh?”
John grinned, but shrugged, “Unless you wake me up, that doesn’t make me angry. Really frustrated sometimes, but mostly, that’s not a problem.”
“What is it then?” Prez repeated.
John sighed, “It’s the touching, the hand holding and grabs and stuff – all around the house – no matter who’s around.”
I giggled and Prez grinned, “Honestly, that’s the most difficult part to change.”
Nodding, I asked, “What has Tommy said about us?”
“That’s the other big thing,” John admitted. “Tommy can’t believe that either of you are gay. You’re two really good friends most of the time; just talking and joking around, jamming with the band or whatever. You just don’t appear to be gay most of the time. But then you get closer, kiss and disappear into the bedroom for an hour or so.” John giggled, “You need to turn up the stereo or TV volume more if anyone’s in my room, ya know? Besides me and Tommy, Drew and Corey have heard you while we’re in our room.”
I turned to Prez and asked, “Does that bug you?”
“Not a lot,” Prez smiled, “I love you and everyone that knows me needs to know that. But I do understand that that’s not the preferred way to come out. We can turn up the volume a bit more.”
Reaching for my lover’s hand, I turned to John and asked, “Anything else?”
Pointing at us, John snickered, “It’s what you’re doing right now! It’s how you are! It’s what you wear! Aren’t you supposed to be…? I dunno, more like chicks?”
Smiling at one another, Prez and I tried to hold it in, but snickers broke loose and turned to laughter.
Prez roared, “I’ll buy some magenta and pink T-shirts!”
“Don’t forget some really loud plaid shorts!” I breathlessly chuckled.
“Then maybe ballroom dancing lessons!” Prez breathlessly suggested and I lost it.
We sat on the love seat and composed ourselves. Prez started, “John, there are some huge men, every bit as big as Schwarzenegger, that are gay. There are pro ball players that are gay.”
I added, “And there are cops that are gay, and construction workers, and office workers and every conceivable type of person. All of them have different interests, different sexual desires. We’re just like straight people in every way except for one.”
“We’re more attracted to guys than girls,” Prez simply stated and I nodded.
Turning to Prez, John blushed and softly asked, “Why haven’t you, ya know, tried to cop a peek at me?”
Wide-eyed for a moment and obviously stunned, Prez then sighed, “Lots of reasons. Because Keith is enough for me. Emotionally and physically, we’re committed to each other. Secondly, you’re my brother-in-law. So is Drew. I don’t look at either of you as anything more than brothers. And let’s not forget that you’re four years younger than me and just starting puberty. For all those reasons, you’re not even on my gay-dar, John.”
“We’ve made our choice,” I assured both John and Prez.
John then turned to me and asked, “Have you ever looked…”
I hollered, “John! You’re my kid brother! I’d have to be pretty fucking hard up to choose you or Drew as a fuck buddy. The relationship we’ve always had is the only one we’ll ever have.”
John laughed, “See! You’re so un-gay it’s sickening! You’re supposed to be after all dicks, aren’t you?”
Catching his head in his hand, Prez looked up and asked, “Do you get hot for every pair of boobs you see? Even your mom’s?”
John grinned, “Not all of them.”
I smirked, “That’s just stereotypes, John. Don’t believe all of what you see on TV. We’re individuals; males that like to be with other males. The only thing that makes a gay man different from a straight man is who he wants to have sex with. Just like a straight man, we’re looking at the entire person; not just the size of his or her equipment.
“Out of any group of ten dudes, you can almost bet that at least one of the ten is gay - maybe even two. Unless the dude makes moves on you, you can’t really know which is gay.” I then asked, “Do Mike or Derrick seem gay?” John shook his head and I again asked, “How about Doug and Brian?” Again John shook his head. I said, “Most of us blend in really easily.” I wondered, “What attracts you to Kim?”
John smiled, “Well, she’s really cute, and kinda funny sometimes, but she’s not afraid to tell me off either. We have fun together…”
Before he could go on, I interrupted, “And you don’t think I like the same kinds of things in Prez?”
“I sure hope you do,” John answered.
Shaking my head sadly, I frowned, “Of course we do. Because I’ve recognized that I’m gay and have a boyfriend doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to change my wardrobe and entire personality. Not to meet someone else’s expectations of what a gay dude should be.”
John teased, “Speaking of changing personalities, you’re way more fun when Prez is around, you know that?”
I grinned and then turned to Prez.
Prez snickered, “How about we leave the TV and stereo off so you can hear us when we’re at our gayest?” Covering my mouth and chuckling, I watched my brother smirk and shake his head.
“We’ve heard enough,” John affirmed. To prove his point, John began breathing short and fast while softly moaning, “Yeah! Oh yeah! Ooo! Like that! Ah, baby, yeah!” Prez and I doubled up laughing. John loudly laughed, “We can’t always make out whose saying what, but we know what’s goin’ on!”
I chuckled, “So what? We’re in love, bro.” Composing myself slightly, I asked, “As long as it’s not embarrassing to you or your friends?”
“Tommy’s been cool,” John confidently said. “When you two start getting all lovey-dovey, he gets a little weirded out, but only for a minute. When he looks over at me, it’s like, what the hell just happened? All I can do is smile and shrug.”
Prez asked, “And Kim?”
John shrugged, “We haven’t talked about it since that one time, right after the fight. It’s tough talking about.”
“Why?” I wondered aloud.
John sighed, “Imagine talking about sex with Prez, but there’s no chance of actually having sex. That’s way more frustrating than hearing someone else have sex.”
Prez softly said, “You will eventually talk about it with her. If there’s any chance of something really good, I can almost guarantee it.”
I nodded, “If you really want it to be special, you’ll talk about it.”
“I know,” John said, “mom and dad both said the same thing. I just kinda wish it would happen soon. We’ve both gotta be ready though.”
“Don’t rush it,” I advised. “It’s not worth losing a friend.”
Rapidly nodding his head, John agreed.
Tapping my arm, Prez smiled, “Shall we be a little more flamboyant for John?”
I grinned, “On special occasions, I guess.”
“Why am I sorry I mentioned it?” John playfully grumbled. Shifting closer, Prez hung off me, placing angel kisses around my ear, neck and shoulder. It tickled and I uncontrollably cringed and giggled. John grinned, “I dunno if my friends could deal with that.”
I said, “Make up your mind, bro. Do we stay the way we are or try to meet your expectations?” Resting his head on my shoulder, Prez stopped kissing me and waited for John’s reply.
Thoughtful for quite a few moments, John said, “Keep it the same, I guess.” He then asked, “Are you worried about the trial?”
Sitting upright, Prez answered, “Not at all.”
John reminded, “You’ll be telling all those strangers that you’re gay.”
I shrugged, “The fact that we’re gay only mattered to Jake. It was his motive for starting the fight. His unrestrained aggression got him into really big trouble.”
John absorbed my answer for a while. Prez began rubbing my back softly. Smiling warmly, I turned to him. Outside, I heard a car door close.
“Dad’s home,” John softly said. Rush trotted to the front door and snorted loudly.
Prez softly suggested, “Let’s get the camping stuff together.”
Nodding, I stood and offered my hand. Prez took it and stood beside me.
“Don’t leave,” John desperately whined.
I grinned, “Its only dad. Don’t yell or holler, John. That won’t help you get out of the house faster.”
Barely a moment after the final word left my mouth, the front door opened.
Prez turned and smiled, “Hi dad,” then he called Rush.
My dad entered the room with Rush scrambling between him and Prez. He smiled, “How is everyone?” Stopping beside Prez, he nodded, “Good haircut.” Grinning at me, he said, “You look ten years older.”
Stepping up to my dad, I said, “Everything’s set.” Reaching into my back pocket for his credit card and the Macy’s receipts, I said, “We both got sharp suits, shirts and shoes.” Smiling at my lover, I said, “To round out the package, Prez got us belts, socks and ties. We’ll be able to pick up our suits Sunday.”
Taking the receipts from me, he nodded and with his other hand, reached for Preston’s shoulder. “I can’t wait to see them,” my dad smiled. “Let’s see if they still fit next June, when you both graduate.” Looking at the receipts, he softly prayed, “Please let them fit next year.”
Prez chuckled while I grinned and shrugged.
Stepping forward, my dad concentrated on John and asked, “How was your day?”
John shrugged, “Okay.” Beckoning Prez, we stealthily slipped away and into the garage. Heading for the sleeping bags and tents I wondered aloud, “Do you think that Drew and Corey are still interested in coming?”
Prez hummed, “They seemed interested enough the other night. They’ll be along.”
I handed him a sleeping bag and a tent.Then I grabbed the other tent and another sleeping bag. Following Prez back into the house, I reminded, “Bring your little stereo Prez.”
Prez nodded and softly said, “Okay, and my acoustic bass.”
Hurrying down the hallway and passing the living room wall, I saw my dad kicked back on the sofa with John very close. They were reviewing the notepad and John’s little essays. My dad asked, “What were the main characters were in Dante’s Peak?”
Against an entryway wall, we put the camping gear down and started back to the garage. John answered, “The lady mayor, her two kids, the grandmother, Harry and the other scientists.”
In the garage, Prez commented, “Your dad is really something special.”
Handing Prez two sleeping bags, I smiled, “Ya think so?”
Prez nodded, “My dad would’ve just criticized me. I can’t remember the last time my own father sat close beside me on the sofa. But tomorrow’s my turn, isn’t it?”
I smiled and nodded then turned for the two backpacks and bit my tongue. Turning again, I said, “They both know how to punish us. When have you ever seen John willingly watch a movie?”
Prez grinned, “Just about never. He almost always watches sports or sports news on ESPN.”
Starting for the house, I nodded, “They’d never tell me to sit and watch movies. With me it’s books and lectures. Just before my parents let us back out into the daylight, we usually wind up doing yard work around the house.”
“It’s not just a punishment though,” Prez noticed, and paused as we crossed the threshold into the house. Silently we went to the entryway and put the additional stuff down.
I softly suggested, “Get your stereo and backpack while I get the last sleeping bag.” Prez nodded and Rush suddenly tore from the living room to the entryway. The front door opened and Drew stepped inside with Corey in tow.
Glancing at the pile of camping equipment, Drew asked, “We’re not playing tennis tomorrow?”
Prez nodded, “We can do both, can’t we?” Rush bounced around at our feet getting pets from each of us.
Corey’s head tilted uncertainly. “It’s gonna be another scorcher.”
I agreed with Prez. “Let’s play until we’re too hot then.”
Drew sighed, “Okay, as long as it’s a real match.”
Prez chuckled, “Keith and I both have to work tomorrow afternoon, remember?”
I grinned, “We’ll be slaving while you two laze around the rest of the day.”
Glancing briefly at Corey, Drew then looked at me and smirked, “Oh, puh-lease.”
I reminded, “Next summer it’s your turn.”
As if I hadn’t said a word, Drew then waved into the living room at John and my dad before starting for his room. Snickering, Corey followed. Prez shrugged and grinned, “Backpack and stereo.” He then turned to go to our room. I went to the garage and retrieved the final sleeping bag. When I returned to the entryway, Prez was getting the electric lanterns and flashlights from the closet. Facing me and closing the closet door he smiled, “I stuffed clean socks, shirts, undies and our deodorants in my backpack.”
I nodded, “It’s only over-night.” Drew and Corey passed and went to the kitchen.
Then I asked, “Dad, are we eating dinner here or there.”
He answered, “Each presents its challenges. If we eat there, we’re carrying another large cooler. If we eat here, we’re putting up tents in the dark. Pick your poison.”
Prez shrugged, “I’m not too hungry.”
Returning with a chomped apple in his hand, Drew loudly mumbled, “I’m starfin’.”
Corey grinned, “I can wait.”
I nodded, “Me too,” and Drew snarled as he chewed.
My dad smiled, “How about we pickup something on the way? Go ahead and load-up the Suburban.” Standing, he said, “Let me just change clothes.”
Drew stuffed his apple in his mouth then he and Corey helped Prez and I with the camping gear. John whined, “Please, dad.”
Shaking his head, my dad said, “Sorry; it’s bad timing. If I let you come too then I’ll wind up in the doghouse, John. Next time, I promise.” Moments after we stepped outside, my mom’s car passed the house. She slowly pulled into the driveway and parked beside the Suburban.
Getting out of the car and reaching for her bag, she cheerfully said “Hi! I love driveway greetings, but it looks like you’re all moving out.”
I grinned, “Just overnight.”
Flashing quickly between Drew and I, she queried, “And your brother?”
Shrugging, I answered, “Not very happy,” and Drew nodded.
Prez offered, “We had a chat with him. He expects us to be more effeminate, but would like if we showed less affection.” He then smirked, “I don’t think we have much of a chance of changing either.”
My mom adjusted her purse saying, “I know a doctor that’s very effeminate. He’s married to a stunningly beautiful woman and has four children.” She stubbornly huffed, “I don’t know where he gets these ideas. There’s no way I’ll allow him to become a hooligan. I’ll ground him until he’s eighteen and talk him to death first.” With a determined stride, she started for the front door. Prez and I climbed up on the rear bumper. Silently loading the Suburban, Prez and I shared devilish grins and so did Drew and Corey.
The moment the front door closed behind my mom, Drew let out a tremendously long breath. “Omigod!” he huffed, “I’m so afraid for John that I have to pee again!” We all cracked up laughing. Handing me another sleeping bag, Drew nervously giggled, “Grounded and trapped alone with mom? With luck, he’ll cry himself to sleep by nine.”
Shaking my head, I grinned, “Its better we’re not around to hear it or see it,” and stuffed the sleeping bag into the back of the truck. Only a minute or so later we finished loading the Suburban. Prez and I stepped down off the bumper.
Drew smiled and whined, “I really gotta go, but I don’t want to go in!”
Backing away from Drew, Corey giggled, “You can go alone this time.” Prez’s eye’s widened and he roared. Smiling widely, Corey spun around and shoved him.
Taking my brother by the shirt, I said, “We’ve gotta grab some drinks and the cooler,” then led the way to the house.
Amazingly, we walked into the house hearing John’s soft sobs. He was sitting between my parents on the couch. Drew went to the bathroom and I dashed into the kitchen. From the fridge I grabbed bottled water and juices, cans of soda and finally two bottles of Bass Ale for my dad, adding ice as I filled layers. I heard the front door open and close. Drew had taken a leak and hot-footed it outside again – the weasel! I closed the cooler lid and my dad stepped up beside me. “All set?” he asked and rambled, “Sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, extra clothes?”
Lifting the heavy cooler, I grunted, “And plenty of fluids.”
He then lifted a duffle bag and reached for my shoulder. As we passed the living room, he said, “We’ll be back by noon. I have my cell.”
Still comforting John, my mom nodded, “Have a good time.”
We stepped outside. My dad walked slowly and softly said, “John’s very upset. There are other friends he wants to invite over, but can’t because he doesn’t trust them enough yet. He’s still afraid for all of us and wants to be able to defend us all.”
I shook my head and said, “In all this time I’ve hardly ever noticed more than a curious stare when I’m out with Prez. John really doesn’t need to be so worried about it.”
My dad nodded as if that were expected and softly said, “He’s honestly ready to take on the world. When his friends mock gays, John wants to punch them out, but he rarely ever says anything. But I expect that to change pretty soon. When he does, I hope he uses words and not fists.” We got closer to everyone waiting by the Suburban and my dad loudly asked, “What’s for dinner?”
Drew hollered, “Pizza!” For a flash of an instant, I thought Corey was going to be ill. Holding eye contact with him, I watched his expression brighten and he quickly smiled.
Prez said, “Burgers would be good.”
Drew nudged Prez and hissed; “Pizza!” Then he turned to Corey and said, “Tell him.”
Corey giggled and shrugged, “I’d be cool with a big salad.”
I lifted the cooler and put it in the back of the truck. Turning to Drew, I grinned, “Burgers.” Drew frowned and huffed impatiently.
Heading for the driver’s side, my dad said, “Pizza and burgers it is.” Seeing me beside the passenger side front door, my dad suggested, “Let Drew and Corey ride shotgun. You and Preston would fit better in the back seat.” Hearing that we would have the whole back seat to ourselves, Prez flashed me an excited grin that I’m certain my dad saw. We got in and buckled up. I reached for my lover’s hand and quickly kissed it. My dad started the engine and slowly backed out of the driveway.
My dad took side streets to the 118 freeway. After only a few miles, he exited and cut across more side streets to get us onto the 5 freeway. Prez and I chattered about the route my dad was taking. By staying off the crowded freeways he had saved at least an hour. The next thing we knew, my dad was pulling into a shopping center just off the 5 freeway. At one end of the building was a Round Table Pizza and near the opposite end was a Burger King. Passing me a twenty, my dad said, “I’ll join Drew and Corey at Round Table Pizza. You’ll probably finish eating before us so meet us there.”
I nodded and Prez smiled, “Thank you.” As we turned and went our separate ways, Prez softly giggled, “I only have about ten bucks on me!”
I grinned, “Is it burning a hole in your pocket?”
Prez shrugged, “Not really. There’s still about sixty bucks in the dresser drawer.” Pausing and bouncing against me, he chuckled, “Just enough for a new desk chair, I hope!”
Taking his hand, I stopped him in front of Burger King and waited for a family to pass. Then I leaned closer and whispered, “After the tents are up and we chill out for a while, we’re going for a hike.”
Prez smiled and softly asked, “Someplace private?”
I nodded, “As isolated as we can get.”
Smiling widely, Prez inhaled deeply through his nose and chuckled, “You smell so-oo tasty.”
I said, “I don’t smell Paco Rabban on me, only the Drakkar you’re wearing.”
Prez nodded and grinned, “Same here.” He then confessed, “I got so hard slow dancing with you earlier. I’m glad that didn’t happen at the prom!”
I chuckled, “A hike alone may not be enough. Maybe I’d better request the smaller tent for us,” and led my love into Burger King.
Once inside and waiting in line, Prez asked, “The two tents aren’t the same size?”
I shook my head and answered, “One is nine feet square and the other is twelve feet square.”
Prez nodded and moved forward to place his order. Then he stepped aside and I placed my order. I paid for our dinner and then we went to fill our empty cups. Prez went for the pink lemonade and I got Sprite. We then sat and waited for our order. After taking a sip of his lemonade, Prez asked, “The smaller tent was for your parents?”
I nodded, “We used to all fit in the one big tent. A few years ago they added the smaller tent and let me and my brothers have the larger tent.”
Prez asked, “How often did you go camping as a family?”
I shrugged, “Almost every summer, as far back as I can remember. We didn’t go last year. We didn’t go the year Drew and John got the measles either.”
“Wow!” Prez excitedly said. “They both got them at the same time?”
I nodded, “First Drew and then John. They both missed about a month of school. Drew had to redo second grade. John passed kindergarten, but got left back the following year.”
Prez said, “I just assumed that the school district changed age requirements or something.”
“That’s why Drew is only two years younger, but three grades behind me,” I explained. “When they got over the fever and the itches, they were still weak and would sleep a lot. Starting first grade, John was way behind, but I don’t think they hold kids in kindergarten.”
Prez grinned, “Twelve years of school is enough for me.”
I nodded, “It was a big deal for them, but they’ve both gotten over it. And they’ll be driving during their sophomore year.”
Our order number was called and I stood. Prez also started to stand, but I gently held him down and smiled, “I’ll get it.” I went to the counter and showed my receipt then picked up the tray and turned around. Prez had turned in his seat and was watching me. He watched me walk all the way back to our table. Taking my seat, I softly giggled, “Are you that hungry?”
His inviting smile spread across his face and he seductively answered, “Really hungry.”
Stunned for a moment, the other patrons faded away and I only saw him. Another customer walked past our table and brought me back to reality. Desperate to hold him and taste his sweet flesh, I reached for his hand and softly whimpered.
Prez leaned forward and softly giggled, “Maybe camping wasn’t such a good idea?”
I sighed and squeezed his hand then silently mouthed, “I am so hot for you.”
My lover nodded and silently transmitted, “I can’t wait for wild sex in the woods.”
Letting him go, we unwrapped our burgers. Prez picked up a few French fries and put them in his mouth. While he chewed, I concentrated on his jaw muscles and his lips then, as he swallowed, I watched his Adam’s apple move up and down his throat. Omigod! I wanted to jump over the table at him! Instead, I smiled and took a bite out of my Whopper. Prez paused and watched me before taking a bite out of his burger. Under the table, our legs slid closer. I love the feel of his legs against mine. In the air conditioned restaurant, the warmth of his flesh was amplified. Well into our meal, we realized what we were doing and smiled then warily glanced around the dining room. It didn’t seem that anyone else was noticing us. Prez grinned then picked up an exceptionally long French fry and seductively put it in his mouth. He slowly sucked it most of the way in, but then blew it back out of his pursed lips. He gleefully repeated the process and I cracked up, squeezing his leg tight between mine.
Minutes later we finished eating and Prez wiped his mouth then leaned across the table. I met him halfway and he whispered, “I’ve got a rather large problem.”
Grinning at him, I nodded, “Me too.”
He softly giggled, “But do you have to pee?”
I snickered, “No,” and leaned back.
Prez sighed, “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” and started to stand.
Noticing the bulge beneath his shorts and snaking down his leg, I joked, “Make it a very few minutes or I’ll be coming in there after you.”
“Promises, promises,” Prez grinned.
I watched Prez walk to the restrooms. Once he stepped inside, I picked up my cup of Sprite and realized that I felt pretty chilly. The air conditioning was cranked to its coldest setting. Putting my cup back down, I noticed a light gleam of perspiration on my arm. Realizing that it was the way we ate that got me sweaty, I leaned back and grinned. If we weren’t in public, we could’ve had each other for dinner!
I thought that maybe I would switch seats at our dining room table at home. I’ve loved sitting beside him the last year, but the idea of sitting across from him and watching my lover eat thrilled me to the core.
Prez stepped out of the restroom. As he got closer, I concentrated on his shorts. There was no visible bulge along his left thigh. At that moment, all I wanted was to see his dick soft and make him hard again. As Prez approached, I stood and picked up our tray of trash. He had combed his hair and washed his face while in the men’s room. Stepping up beside me, Prez softly snickered, “You got me all hot and sweaty.”
Dumping the trash and stowing the tray, I smiled, “You cleaned up, I see.”
He snickered, grabbed my hand and hurried us back outside. “I had to do something before trying to leak!” Prez giggled.
Wrapping my arm around him, I cracked up picturing Prez nonchalantly loitering around the men’s room then standing at a urinal, willing his erection down so he could piss.
Soon we were at Round Table with my dad, Drew and Corey. They shuffled over in the booth, allowing Prez and I to sit while they finished eating. My dad and brother were sharing a large pepperoni pizza while Corey concentrated on a salad.
Looking down and to his right, Prez asked, “You don’t like pizza any more, Corey?”
Corey looked up and grimaced, “I used to, but lost my taste for it.”
Through partially eaten pizza, Drew grumbled, “You’re loosing your taste for a lot of stuff.”
Corey turned and argued, “But I’m gaining new appreciation for fruits and veggies. And look! Is that chicken I see in there?”
Drew looked over into Corey’s plate and nodded, “All pushed off to one side.”
Corey huffed impatiently, “I’m eating it.”
My dad reminded, “Fill your bellies now. It’ll be at least twelve hours before we eat anything substantial again.”
Corey said, “I brought some apples and oranges.”
And Drew added, “I brought some granola bars and the box of Wheat Thins.”
My dad turned to Prez and my baby smiled, “I brought my radio and my bass.”
Then my dad faced me and I shrugged, “The cooler of drinks.”
“And I’ll get some firewood at the market around the corner,” my dad offered. “It sounds like we’re set. I’ll show Drew and Corey how to setup the smaller tent while you show Preston how to setup the other one.”
Mostly to see Drew’s reaction, I asked, “Who’s sleeping in which tent?” Drew snapped his neck turning to me, stopped chewing for a moment and glared across the table.
Prez smiled, “We got dibs on the big tent!” Hiding my confusion, I looked at Prez and he winked. He was using reverse psychology; making it seem that we wanted the large tent when the fact was we wanted the smaller.
My dad reminded, “Only two can comfortably fit in the small tent, but four could fit in the larger.”
Corey turned to Drew. My brother swallowed and shrugged, “Ya wanna sleep in the big tent?”
Corey nodded and my dad teased, “Guess I’ll be left to deal with the coyotes and mountain lions alone.”
Drew became perfectly still and I joked, “Keep an ear open for those rattlers too.”
My dad nodded and smiled, “Absolutely!”
Turning to Corey, Drew wondered, “Maybe it would be best if we buddied up?”
Letting Drew off the hook, my dad chuckled, “That’s always the best idea, but for this one night, I think I’ll survive alone.”
Drew argued, “But we could take the smaller tent and you could sleep with Prez and Keith.” Amazed that Drew had publicly suggested sleeping alone, Corey’s eyes widened. Drew asked, “What? That way no one’s alone when a hungry coyote comes around looking for a snack.”
Prez covered his mouth and snickered.
Looking around the table at each of us, Drew blushed and smirked, “Okay. I get it.”
“No coyote would come near five humans around a fire,” my dad assured. “If we leave some food out after we go to bed, sure they’ll come sniffing around. Just make sure everything’s packed away before we sack out.”
Finished eating and wiping his mouth, Drew glared across the table at me. Our eyes locked. He was plotting someway to get me back. I grinned, “What? It was a simple and reasonable question!” Drew nodded and smiled then finished his soda. Prez and Corey cracked up, leaving my dad grinning, but wondering if he would get any sleep at all.
Corey put his fork down and wiped his mouth. There were only three or four small pieces of chicken left on his plate. Seeing that Corey was finished, my dad reached into his shorts pocket and left a few bucks tip on the table. Then we all shuffled out of the booth and my dad handed me his keys saying, “Let me hit the men’s room real quick.”
I handed his keys to Prez and smiled, “I’ll be out in just a few minutes.”
Corey turned to Drew saying “I’ll be right out,” and then followed my dad and me to the restroom.
Drew and I went out to the truck. I unlocked it, started the engine and turned the air conditioning on before sliding into the back seat. I bluntly, but carefully asked Drew; “Do you want to be alone with Corey tonight?”
He spun around in the front seat so fast it startled me! He scanned me for a few moments then grinned, “You have a plan?”
I then told Drew about Keith’s plan. “Keith and I are going for a walk together. We might not be back for an hour or so.”
Still turned mostly around, Drew got comfortable and smiled, “We can have the smaller tent?”
I shrugged, “Or you can take Corey for a walk first?”
Drew slowly shook his head. “Dad would get suspicious, I think.”
He was right and I knew it. I grinned, “You get the smaller tent and you dudes cover for us while we’re away.”
Drew grinned, “No sweat.”
I reminded, “Keep it really quiet, dude. Sound travels really well outdoors. Never mind your dad hearing, Keith would tease you for a month if he hears so much as a whimper.”
“I’m gonna get him for asking about sleeping arrangements,” Drew warned.
I chuckled, “It was your dad that mentioned wild animals.”
Drew nodded, “But Keith mentioned rattlesnakes too! He knows I hate snakes!” Drew’s body convulsed briefly and he explained, “Lizards are no problem, maybe because they have legs; but snakes just slither around.” Obviously freaking himself out, Drew stopped right there.
Curling my lip in disgust, I confided, “I hate slugs; slimmy friggin’ things need to consider growing a shell, like a snail.”
Drew giggled, “I’ll get Keith back; maybe not tonight, but soon.” He then asked, “Are you getting John back for the whoopee cushion?”
“I’ll bet John believes he’s off the hook by now,” I smiled and Drew nodded. “Soon dude,” I assured.
Suspiciously, Drew asked, “Are you gunning for me too?”
I shook my head and answered, “But I think Corey deserves a shot across the bow, don’t you?” His eyes slowly widened and so did his grin. I wondered, “What might be a good warning?”
“Ice on his neck in the middle of the night!” Drew laughed.
I shook my head. “It’s been done.” Noticing Keith approaching with Mr. Hundser and Corey following, I said, “Here they come. We’re cool, right?”
“You bet,” Drew assured and then giggled, “Enjoy your walk.”
“I definitely will,” I assured seconds before Keith opened the car door. He slid in beside me and stole a kiss. Once he buckled up, I slid close and whispered, “Drew’s hip for tonight.” Drew then slid out of the front seat and let Corey in. Mr. Hundser joined us and put the truck in reverse.
Once we were moving gaily forward again, Drew turned on the radio. Leaning close, Keith whispered, “Drew’s just gonna let us go? After I teased him?”
I nodded and whispered, “It cost us the small tent.” In the front seat, Drew was trying to tell his dad to sleep with me and Keith.
Keith hummed and frowned, “That leaves us with my dad.”
I whispered, “We have to sleep separated any way.”
Keith’s head tilted then he shook his head and softly explained, “Two sleeping bags completely opened up, one on top of the other.”
“Oh cool,” I said. Then I whispered, “Is there still a problem?”
Keith softly chuckled, “If he starts snoring there will be!”
“I heard that!” Mr. Hundser growled. Drew and Corey chuckled. “You can all stop trying to pawn me off,” Mr. Hundser grinned. “Did you forget I was a teenager? You four take the large tent and I’ll be fine in the small tent.”
Drew loudly joked, “Mom would kill us if we let you get attacked by a bear or a mountain lion.”
“A bear?” Dad loudly chuckled.
Corey giggled, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”
Mr. Hundser shook his head sadly and affirmed, “You’re both out of control. There aren’t bears around here.”
“Just snakes!” Keith teased. Drew spun around and glared menacingly at his big brother. Corey and I bellowed.
Facing forward again, Drew softly complained, “I don’t want to sleep with them.” Corey leaned forward then threw himself back and roared laughing. Soon, Corey was hiccupping and we all started laughing at him.
Keith’s dad pulled into another shopping center. Parking the car, he said, “I’ll be back in a flash,” and hurried into a supermarket. Bouncing his eyebrows playfully, Keith loudly said, “Let’s go to bed early, Prez.”
I grinned, “Alone in the small tent.”
Corey snickered and Drew grumbled, “Dreamers. Ignore them.”
Pushing the front seat, Keith dared, “Admit it. You want to sleep with us.” Drew spun around and Keith snickered, “Hoping you might be able to cop a peek?”
“Copping a peek is one thing,” Drew said, “but you dudes are nudists!” Keith and I cracked up. Facing forward again, Drew yelled, “It’s not difficult to see when it’s hanging out in plain sight! Like a few months ago when you hurt your hip?”
Keith hollered, “I couldn’t reach the blankets!” Corey howled.
“Uh huh,” Drew nodded, “keep telling yourself that.”
Falling over a bit onto Keith, I looked up and chuckled, “Where was I during this?”
Keith snickered, “In the kitchen getting us a snack, I think.” Then he fell over onto me laughing, “You were rubbing medicine on me and left me there with the blankets at my feet.”
I cracked up and Corey started hiccupping through his laughter again. I noticed Mr. Hundser stepping out of the store with firewood in his arms. Keith obviously noticed too and said, “Pop the tail gate, Drew.”
Moments later, the wood was stowed and Mr. Hundser returned to the driver’s seat. Corey was still hiccupping. Mr. Hundser smiled and asked, “Would you like something to drink, Corey?”
Corey tried to compose himself, but still hiccupped, “No-o thanks.”
Taking hold of the wheel, Mr. Hundser said, “If you change your mind, there are drinks in the back.”
“I’ll be fine,” Corey assured. He then sucked in enough air for two grown men and held his breath.
Mr. Hundser backed out and we were on our way again. Only minutes after we got on the 5 freeway, we were following the ramp onto the 14 freeway. And then, a few short minutes later, we saw the sign for the park’s entrance. Turning to Keith, I wondered, “Is there a full moon tonight?”
Keith hummed, “Half moon, I think. The stars should be really clear.”
Mr. Hundser drove towards the right and soon we were turning into the park. We pulled up beside a small booth and stopped. An extremely handsome park ranger stepped out. He was a large man; probably about six feet two inches tall and close to two hundred pounds. I’d guess in his mid to late twenties. Powerful arm muscles lay beneath his tanned flesh. His green shirt appeared to be fresh off the ironing board and clung tight to his torso. Similarly, the crease in his slacks seemed sharp enough to accidentally cut a finger on. He smiled as he approached the Suburban and my heart leapt. I turned to Keith and noticed that he was also drinking in the tall ranger. Noticing me watching him, Keith’s eyes briefly widened and he tried to seem uninterested. Everyone in the car was turned to the left.
“Hello,” the park ranger smiled, “welcome to the Angeles National Forest.”
Mr. Hundser said, “Hi. We’d like a campsite for the night.”
The ranger nodded and said, “Fifteen dollars please.” Keith’s dad reached into his shorts pocket and handed the ranger cash. The ranger turned around and went back to the booth. This man had an ass every bit as cute as Keith’s! Nervously, I turned away. But Corey, Drew and Keith were still looking to the left. Smiling widely, I playfully nudged Keith.
Bouncing his eyebrows, Keith whispered, “Here he comes again.”
My brain tried to force my mouth to say, “So what?” but my head quickly snapped to the left.
The ranger handed Keith’s dad change and a few pamphlets then said, “Lot twenty-four.” He then tilted his hat and stepped back. Dad drove forward and once the ranger was behind me, I looked ahead. Drew sighed. Corey giggled and playfully bounced against Drew. Grinning madly, Keith leaned over and whispered, “What a hunk!”
Startling us all, Mr. Hundser loudly chuckled, “Okay! The sexual energy in this car has quadrupled.”
Corey giggled, “That dude was gay,” and Mr. Hundser roared laughing.
Nudging Corey hard, Drew playfully argued, “You mean you hope he’s gay.”
Corey laughed, “He was! I don’t know how I know it, but I do know it.”
To my surprise, Keith nodded and agreed, “He’s gotta be the most popular dude in the county!” I whacked his arm hard. Rubbing his arm, Keith chuckled, “You noticed him too, don’t try to deny it!”
I wouldn’t have denied it, but I did feel guilty sitting next to my lover and felt my face heat up. Keith reached for my hand. I squeezed it tightly and looked deep into his eyes. And Keith was looking deep into mine. I considered looking away, but heard his thoughts.
“I’m sorry baby. He was hot, but not as hot as you.”
“I understand and I’m sorry too. You’re way sexier than him.” I could almost imagine Keith four inches taller and in his twenties. My lover could work out and become every bit as massive as that park ranger. I pictured myself climbing Keith in a future sexual interlude. Shivering at the thought, I promised myself that I would bring up the park ranger later, when we were alone. It was obvious that we were both holding stuff back because Corey, Drew and Keith’s father were in the front seat.
The next thing I knew, the Suburban was stopped and Keith’s dad parked. It was a really beautiful spot, I noticed as I unbuckled and got out of the car. We all met at the back of the SUV and unloaded only the tents. Keith looked inside the bag he was holding and said, “This is the larger one. We’ll set this one up.”
“At least ten paces from the fire,” Mr. Hundser reminded and handed the bag with the smaller tent to Drew. Smiling up at his dad, Drew shrugged. “I’ll supervise,” Mr. Hundser assured.
Moments later, Keith and I chose a spot near the trees. I held the sack and Keith pulled the tent out of the bag. A bunch of long aluminum tubes fell to the ground. Keith explained, “Once we get the tent unrolled, we’ll start sliding the tubes together. They’ll form a brace that holds up the tent.”
I said, “Cool,” and we started unrolling the tent. When the tent was almost completely unrolled, Keith looked up and around for a moment or two. I wondered, “What are you doing?”
“Just noticing where east is so I know where the sun will come up,” Keith answered. He then peeked under the final folds of the tent and suggested, “Let’s turn it to your left a little, Prez.” Nodding, I picked up my end and Keith picked up his. We turned the tent a few feet then laid it back down on the ground and unfolded it completely. It was huge!
I glanced over at Drew and Corey. They were just starting to raise their tent. Keith and I went over to the pile of aluminum posts and started snapping them together. “One for each corner, four posts long,” Keith explained. “The rest make the final center post.”
Squatting down, we continued assembling the tent posts. I softly said, “I’m sorry, Keith.”
He looked over and asked, “Why?”
“The park ranger.”
Keith grinned, “Don’t be sorry, baby. We all noticed him – even Drew!”
I sighed, “I know; I always do this whenever we see someone attractive. It feels wrong.”
“That’s not wrong, Prez. Taking action would be wrong,” he affirmed. We started placing the posts. Since I was quiet and thoughtful, Keith softly said, “I’m committed to you, Prez. We have a good history, even with a few shake-ups along the way. I know you would never risk what we already have on a fling, no more than I would take that chance. But we’re human, after all.” Quickly, I looked at him again and he admitted, “He was hot! I really wanted his shirt to suddenly fly off of him. I’ll bet he had an awesome body.”
I nervously giggled, “I would’ve fainted.”
Finished placing the posts, Keith and I stood near the center of the tent. My lover reached for me and pulled me to him. He whispered, “When I make love with you, I am fully involved in you and what we’re doing.”
Squeezing him tight, I said, “I don’t think I could get hard if any one else were on my mind. I’d feel so guilty that I’d be lucky to get a decent chubby goin’.”
Keith nodded and kissed my neck then whispered, “Same here. You are my fantasy lover, baby.”
Finally relaxing in Keith’s warm embrace, I whimpered and said, “I can still smell the Paco.”
Keith heaved in my arms and softly chuckled, “Drakkar mixes perfectly with your natural body chemistry. Every time I let myself stop and notice it, I get all wobbly.”
Pulling back, I looked at his smile and into glazed over eyes. I nodded and chuckled. Then his hand encircled my ear and I pressed my head against his hand. “I love you,” I desperately sighed.
Kissing me, Keith affirmed, “For the rest of our days, Prez.”
I melted and covered his lips with small soft kisses. Drew came to the tent door and grinned, “It’s starting to get dark and we need kindling.”
Snickering between kisses, I thought, kindling, huh? Keith started breaking up too, at least partially because I hadn’t stopped kissing him. Drew wandered off and Keith firmly took hold of my hips then ground his crotch against my hip. He definitely had another erection. I really wanted to see it and play with it.
Alas, the sun was setting and there was a fire to build. When we stepped out of the tent, Keith’s dad was sitting on a large log before the fire pit and enjoying a Bass Ale. He swallowed, tipped the bottle in our direction and smiled at Keith. “Thank you,” Mr. Hundser said.
From the color of the sky, I guessed that we had about another half an hour before the last rays of sunlight faded from sky. Drew and Corey had successfully pitched the other tent. They were returning from the Suburban with their backpacks and sleeping bags. Passing them, we went to the truck where Keith and I retrieved our backpacks and sleeping bags. We put our stuff in the big tent then went back to the truck for another electric lantern. Drew and Corey were already gathering twigs and small branches. Keith and I went in the opposite direction.
Keith asked, “Do you feel guilty when we’re looking at newsgroup pictures?”
I thought for a few moments then answered, “No. We haven’t done that in a long time, but still, that’s different somehow. Really, the pictures are entertainment; chances for me to learn what you like and for you to learn what I like. Lusting after a guy I’ve never met before though… especially while you’re there… it always makes me feel bad. Our sex life is awesome, Keith. Sometimes it’s more a physical need. Other times it’s to fill an emotional need. Both are fantastic for me.”
Picking up a few branches, Keith said, “And sometimes it’s for both the physical and emotional – like last Friday. That was so much fun! And then it got really intense.”
I leaned over to pickup some twigs saying, “I don’t understand it. I’m so happy with our life that I feel guilty when I compare it to my life with my mom. If we’re so happy, why are we looking at other guys?”
“I don’t really know, Prez. Because some dudes are that attractive? Or maybe it’s just because of our ages, ya know? We are about a year from our sexual primes. It bothers me a little too sometimes, but then I get to be alone with you, like we are now, bouncing these ideas around and making up for high testosterone levels. And hopefully later, we’ll make love. Then we’ll sleep together. I’m looking forward to all of it still.”
I absorbed what Keith said then smiled, “Me too, babe.” We picked up more branches, sticks and twigs silently for a minute or two. I then said, “I do know that I love you, Keith.”
Smiling widely at me, Keith said, “And it’s so much more than a physical attraction.”
“You were so polite around my mom last year,” I recalled. “I think that’s what first attracted me to you; that and your twisted sense of humor.”
“I’ll admit that I was physically attracted to you at first,” Keith said. “Then it was your accent. During the next few days, I really fell in love with you. The more I learned about your past the more I loved the present and hoped for a future with you.”
He had never told me that he was physically attracted to me first. My face suddenly got warm and I broke out in a light sweat.
Our arms full with branches and twigs, we started back to the campsite. Glancing briefly his way, I grinned, “I’m a bit surprised you were attracted to that ranger. He wasn’t really the lanky type you usually like when looking at newsgroups.”
Keith giggled and shrugged, “He was clean shaven, confident, handsome, neat and tall; quite a package.” Then he bounced against me and admitted, “Tall, lean and lanky is my preference… since I met you.”
I giggled, “I’m not that lanky, am I?
Keith smiled, “Enough for me, lover.”
Barely a minute later, we stepped out of the woods and returned to our campsite. The remaining three electric lanterns were already lit. Mr. Hundser smiled, “I was almost ready to start searching for you.”
Keith suggested, “Let Prez setup the fire, dad. I’ve learned how already.”
I smiled at my lover and Mr. Hundser asked, “Have you ever made a campfire before, Preston?” I shook my head and he asked, “Ever seen one made?”
I replied, “Nope.”
“It’s not difficult at all,” Mr. Hundser began. “This park has campfire areas already surrounded by stones. All Drew and Corey have done is clear away excess leaves and brush.”
I smiled and wondered, “Am I rubbing two sticks together?”
Shaking his head Mr. Hundser answered, “We’ll be using twentieth century technology.” He then turned to Keith and said, “Get a lighter from the backpack, please.”
Keith nodded and then started for the large tent. While Keith was away, his dad showed me how to setup the kindling loose, so it could breath. Returning with a long fireplace lighter, Keith handed me a log. I arranged the logs into a little pyramid and then stuffed more kindling underneath. Handing me the lighter, Keith said, “It’s not too windy tonight. This should be a snap.” Soon, I got one small section of kindling lit and Keith instructed me to light another. Moments later, the kindling was snapping and flames were lapping at the larger logs. Soon we turned the electric lanterns off.
There was something deep within me that found the campfire relaxing and mesmerizing. For the first few minutes, we all silently watched the flames spread across the logs. Mr. Hundser tossed more kindling at the fire then, when the log pyramid collapsed, he carefully added another log. “This is where our species started,” Keith’s dad said as he sat back down, “making tools and harnessing fire for light and warmth.”
Drew smiled, “We’ve come a long way since then.”
Mr. Hundser shrugged, “Some would argue that we’ve spent too much time and effort on sciences and too little in the arts and philosophy.”
Grinning, I asked, “Would you be one of those arguing?”
Holding eye contact with me, he smiled and answered, “I appreciate what science has done, but realize that logic can’t answer all of life’s questions.”
“Imagine what it must’ve been like,” Corey whispered. “Not knowing why the sun rises and sets. Not knowing why the moon changes its face during the course of a month.”
Drew added, “Having to gather crops and hunt to have something to eat.”
“My dad used to go deer hunting occasionally,” I said. Corey winced and Drew grimaced. I smiled, “Skinning and cleaning it was absolutely gross.”
“It’s necessary to control the population,” Mr. Hundser informed Drew and Corey. “Sadly, we’ve exterminated all their natural predators like wolves.” Then he turned to me and asked, “Nothing went to waste?”
“Just the bones,” I answered. “My dad knew a taxidermist and would sell stuff to him. The guy also made moccasins and other clothes from the skins.
Corey snarled and asked, “You didn’t have a dead deer’s head hanging off a wall in your house, did you?”
I snickered, “No. My mom wouldn’t allow it. I’d bet that he’s got one now though.”
“Gross!” Drew and Corey howled. Mr. Hundser smiled while Keith and I snickered.
Keith leaned over and softly said, “I’m gonna get your stereo.”
I nodded and said, “Before it gets any later, let me get my bass out too.” We stood together and went into the large tent to retrieve our twentieth century toys. We paused for a quick kiss before returning to the campfire. Sitting down again, Keith turned on the radio. Will Smith’s Getting’ Jiggy With It was playing. I quickly deciphered the bass part and played along.
Corey started jiggling his buns around. Drew said, “I’ve never heard you play that tune before.”
Without missing a beat, I shrugged, “I haven’t, but it’s not that tough really.” A few minutes later, Moving On Up by M People began playing and I started to work out the riffs.
Mr. Hundser grimaced, “Can we please have something more conducive to the surroundings?”
Drew giggled, “Dad!”
“I’ll listen to newer music,” Mr. Hundser grinned, “I even like some of it. It’s just not appropriate right now.”
Picking up my little boom-box, Keith snickered, “Lemme see if I can find some Sinatra somewhere.”
Corey giggled and Drew yelled, “Oh no! Please, not again!”
Mr. Hundser turned to me and grinned, “You were listing to Sinatra?”
Taking a break from my bass while Keith scanned stations, I nodded, “On the way to the beach the other day.”
“Talk about the wrong music at the wrong time and place,” Mr. Hundser softly snickered.
Keith admitted, “Great slow dance music. Prez got the CD today while we were at the mall.”
Drew groaned, “O-o-omigod!” and the rest of us cracked up. Keith spun the dial again and found KLOS where The Stray Cats’ Stray Cat Strut was playing. Listening for a few moments I then found my key center and started mimicking the walking bass line. Near then end of the song, Keith asked, “You’ve never played that song before either, have you?”
I snickered, “Nope. I told you it was getting easy.”
“Amazing,” my lover softly smiled. “You didn’t always play exactly what was on the record, but you never once sounded way off or out of key.”
Our eyes locked for a few moments during which I silently thanked him for the compliment. The song ended and a commercial break began. I said, “I think I’ll suggest this song to Mike. He could sing it. With some work, he could probably play it note-for-note too.”
“It’s got that swing feel too,” Keith noticed, and then asked, “It could be a stepping stone into jazz, couldn’t it?”
I nodded, “It probably could, yeah.”
Looking over the fire at his dad, Keith said, “Prez used to play in school jazz bands when he lived in Texas.”
“It shows,” Mr. Hundser smiled.
Corey leaned closer to Drew and whispered. Drew nodded and softly said, “Okay, let me get us some light.” Standing up, Drew said, “We’re gonna find the latrine.” Corey got up and followed Drew into the large tent. I got up to return my bass to its case. Drew reached for lantern. Moments later, we stepped out of the tent.
Mr. Hundser asked, “Do you remember where you’re going, Drew?”
Drew nodded, “There’s two of them.” He pointed to his left and then to his right.
Keith’s dad nodded and said, “Don’t take too long.” They started walking towards the dirt road.
Corey smiled, “Regularity is a side effect of all the fruits and veggies.” We chuckled at Corey’s joke.
Bouncing against Corey, Drew grinned and said, “We’ll be right back.” Before they disappeared from sight, I saw Drew move the lantern to his left hand and take Corey’s hand.
Stunned, I turned to Keith and softly asked, “Did you see that?”
Tilting his head curiously, Keith smiled, “What?”
“Drew reached for Corey’s hand.”
Mr. Hundser chuckled, “And that surprises you?”
Poking at the fire with one of the larger branches, Keith said, “He’s probably figuring out that it feels good and worth the chance.”
“You two have been good role models,” Mr. Hundser said. We paused to smile at each other then Keith’s dad reminded, “We’ve said it before.”
Keith smiled, “We’re really not going out of our way dad.”
Once again surprised at his humility, I grinned, “You did stop to talk with John this afternoon.”
“That wasn’t much of anything,” Keith shrugged. “He was bummed out.” Turning to me he recalled, “You were the one that asked if we were bugging him.”
I nodded, “It had to be asked. Should I have waited for you to ask it?”
Shuffling closer to me, Keith wrapped an arm around me and whispered, “Definitely not.”
Mr. Hundser wondered, “When you asked John that, what did he say?”
I chuckled and Keith answered, “He expects us to be more flamboyant, like some of the gays on TV.”
I giggled, “At the same time, he’d rather we showed less affection around the house.”
Squeezing me tight, Keith smiled at his dad and said, “What I said earlier is true. Most people are just confused when they see the two of us holding hands.”
Loosing it, I laughed, “Like the guy at the pharmacy last night!” and Keith snickered insanely.
Grinning and shaking his head sadly, Mr. Hundser said, “John believes that he’s got to be tough; tougher than the two of you and Drew and Corey too. Believe me, if either of you were effeminate, it wouldn’t affect John’s need to prove himself. I could easily see that making matters worse.”
“He’s got nothing to prove though,” Keith loudly said.
Rapidly nodding, Mr. Hundser agreed, but stipulated, “He’s at that critical age; everything for him needs to be proven.” He was silent for a few moments, appearing thoughtful. Then he brightened up. “I don’t want to just talk about John tonight though. I want to hear about your plans.”
Keith smiled, “Things changed a little recently.”
I offered, “The other night, Derrick told us that he and Mike would like for us to all stick together after high school. They want to go to the Musician’s Institute. It’s sort of a trade school, but they also have degree programs. It’s honestly something I’m considering.”
“That presents some interesting options,” Keith explained. “We could all go to the same school and get a place together. While Prez, Mike and Derrick concentrate on their instruments, there’s a course in recording engineering I could take. It would get me working a decent job quicker. And Prez still wants to go to college after that.”
Mr. Hundser asked, “Have you considered a junior college?”
Keith shrugged, “Not much. If I’m going to go that route, I’d just as soon do four or five years and get a bachelors degree.”
Nodding, Keith’s dad suggested, “If you do wind up going to a trade school, an associate’s degree in the same field would carry more weight for your employers.” Keith shrugged and his dad advised, “Always try to take advantage of what’s presented. That’s really the key; latching onto good opportunities.”
Keith squeezed me tight and smiled, “I think I’ve learned that lesson.” The logs in the fire popped and shifted. Carefully, Keith added a log to the stack and then I leaned forward and added some more kindling. I sat beside Keith again and he softly asked, “Did Derrick say that MI had a vocal school too?”
Stunned, I turned to him and nodded, “He mentioned it, but I’ve seen the ads and know they do.”
Humming thoughtfully, Keith then said, “Maybe it’s an opportunity worth taking.”
What could I say that Keith didn’t already know? I turned slightly and leaned against him.
But Mr. Hundser heard his son and agreed, “Take advantage of your natural abilities. Even if it doesn’t become your career, it is something you’ve always enjoyed. It could become a lucrative hobby.” He then turned to me and smiled, “What do you think?”
My smile broke into a chuckle and after several moments’ careful consideration, I uncontrollably laughed; “I think I need to sexually molest your son!” Keith’s dad roared laughing and I turned to Keith.
Keith chuckled, “So much for sneaking away for a quickie!”
Across from us, Keith’s dad grabbed his belly and stomped his feet, laughing hysterically at us. At least a minute later, he eventually heaved, “Tell me that’s not how you broke the desk chair! Go ahead, prove it!” Turning to each other, Keith and I busted up.
In the distance, I saw the beam of a flashlight coming down the road. While Keith and I had calmed down a bit, Mr. Hundser was still laughing loudly and wiping his eyes.
Moments later, Drew and Corey were stepping closer to the fire. Drew suspiciously smirked, “We heard you laughing way down the road.”
“What did we miss?” Corey smiled.
Keith snickered, “You tell us what we missed!”
“You were gone an awfully long time,” I chuckled. “Did you have a tough time finding the toidy?”
Noticing Drew’s disapproving frown, Keith’s dad tried to compose himself. Drew sat beside his father and softly grumbled, “We went to the latrine and came right back again.”
Wrapping an arm around Drew, Mr. Hundser breathlessly assured, “We weren’t taking about you or Corey.”
Before Keith’s dad caved completely, Keith and I stood. Taking my hand in his, Keith said, “We’ll be back in a while, dad.” Turning on an electric lantern, Keith aimed it and Drew and then Corey. The confusion written all over their faces was priceless.
As we walked away from the campsite, I turned to Keith and wondered, “Is there poison ivy or oak around here?”
Squeezing my hand, Keith shook his head and snickered, “I wouldn’t risk that. The damn pubes itch enough.”
Wrapping my arm around his waist, I admitted, “I love your family, Keith.”
“Even John?” Keith grinned.
I nodded and smiled, “Even John. I can barely wait for you to meet my aunt’s family.”
“Once the trial’s out of the way, any time you want to set it up, Prez.”
“I hope that the trial doesn’t take very long.”
“Two or three days, my dad said.”
“Can you imagine the four of us talking for three days? How many different ways can it be said? Jake was itchin’ for that fight.”
Keith sighed, “I know baby. Tomorrow night, after you sit down with my dad, we’ll talk about it.”
“I’m sorry,” I softly apologized, “I only want it to be over.”
We turned left down a dirt path and Keith assured, “Its okay, Prez; a couple of more days.”
After a few silent steps, I wondered, “Do you think Jake’s been lonely in the hoosegow?
Keith loudly laughed, but quickly muffled himself and chuckled, “I’m sure that Jake’s going to learn a few things about man-to-man sex.”
“It cracks me up,” I ranted, “most straight guys think anything around the anus is off limits, but they call us fags! I say, they should give it a whirl! They need to stuff a nine-by-three dildo up their butts and tell me who’s more of a man!”
Keith roared and I grinned triumphantly. Bouncing off me, Keith pointed at a short tree stump and breathlessly laughed, “Not for beginners!”
“Like those huge dongs at the store in North Hollywood!” I giggled.
“I’ll never be able to take something that big up my butt!”
“I wouldn’t even want to try!”
We happened upon a break in the trees. Keith turned off the lantern for a moment and whispered, “Do you see any campfires or lights over there?” Glancing to and fro, I shook my head. Keith turned the lantern on again then we started across the field.
The night sky was clear and trillions of stars twinkled. It reminded me of Texas and I told Keith.
He asked, “From your home town you could see the stars this clearly?”
I nodded, “Most of the time. The valley is way brighter than Sherman was.”
“Do you miss it, Prez?”
“Which? Seeing the stars or Sherman?”
“I get to see the same stars all the time. And some parts of California are very similar to North Texas. But there’s so much more around here. There’s the ocean and the mountains; I guess it’s the variations I like so much about LA. How far are we from the valley?”
Keith shrugged, “About thirty miles, I’d guess; maybe less.”
“And it’s entirely different here. Last year, as my mom and I were crossing the California desert, I couldn’t believe how long it took. When people think of California, they think of the coastal cities - LA, San Diego and San Francisco. But California has it all – ocean beaches, mountains, valleys, deserts and forests. I’ve really grown to love it here and don’t miss Sherman at all.”
After a few silent moments, Keith said, “I think we need to stay around LA after we graduate, Prez. At least for a little while. Your life has been a series of changes for a long time. I’d just like you to be able to call someplace home. Six months doesn’t make a place home.”
I nodded and asked, “Would you want to live with Derrick and Mike?”
He shrugged, “Its not them I want to come home to, but yeah, we could try it for a while. But once we make that move, we stay put for at least a year. I’d be happier with two, actually.”
“Derrick said that most of the courses at MI are eighteen month programs. And that would give you time to decide on college and a major.”
As we entered the trees again, Keith asked, “Are you disappointed, baby?”
Stopping and turning to him, I warmly assured, “Not at all. Musician’s Institute has been a possibility since I met with the guidance counselor at school.” I gave him a deep kiss then reached for his hand and we started walking again. I asked, “Would you be interested in the vocal school or the recording school at MI?”
Keith shrugged, “Probably the recording school. It would get me a better job faster.”
“We’ll be working our way through our lives, babe; all through our thirties and forties and fifties.”
Keith snickered, “And I shouldn’t be so anxious to start a career?” I shrugged and Keith softly wondered, “I don’t know why. Last year, I got the job at Blockbuster on my own. My folks didn’t tell me to, I just noticed the help wanted sign and filled in an application. I wanted to be able to afford a car and more importantly, a boyfriend.”
Though I know I had asked it before, I couldn’t recall the answer and asked, “When did you start working there?”
“The beginning of May last year.”
I hummed, “Soon after you came out to your family.”
He nodded, “And about six weeks later, I met you.”
“You set short term goals and met them. What’s the next step?”
Keith stopped, leaned against a tree and turned off the lantern. Pulling me into his embrace, he softly smiled, “Dunno.”
I grinned, “Enough planning?”
He nodded and licked my neck then gently nibbled my ear lobe. Instinct took over and we started making out. More than a few minutes later, while I was on my knees, enjoying his tasty meat and fingering his hole, I realized that we hadn’t brought any lube. Letting him out of my mouth, I looked up and told Keith. Guiding me up and then kissing me deeply, Keith replied, “Its okay. Let me show you.” Holding onto my shoulders, he stepped out of his shorts. Then we reversed positions and I leaned against the tree while my lover knelt down and groped my package. I had gotten really hard making love to him and Keith smiled up at me then set about removing my shorts. Nibbling at my CK’s, Keith softly hummed, “You smell so damn sexy, baby.”
I giggled, “There’s no Drakkar down there.”
Slipping his fingers under the waistband of my undies, Keith smiled, “That would ruin it.” My boner sprang free and Keith caught it in his mouth.
In a few minutes, I warned Keith that if he didn’t slow down, I would lose it. My lover let my cock out of his mouth. He then began caressing my hips and buns. Soon, I noticed extra pressure on my left side while he was pulling at right side. He whispered, “Turn around, baby.”
Kicking my shorts off, I did as he said, but softly reminded, “We only showered once today.”
Taking a bite out of my left cheek and making me jump, Keith giggled, “It don’t smell too funky. I’ll manage.” Keith started licking and nibbling my butt while sliding his wet fingers gently over my hole. Soon he stood, but remained hunched over my ass. At first, I felt only his tongue waging between my cheeks. But then I felt warm spit flowing down his tongue and across my hole. Keith rubbed the spit across my hole and I relaxed completely under his careful administrations.
He then moved behind me and held me upright against him. “Do that to me,” he softly said. I whimpered and shoved my ass backwards, trying to capture his erection between my cheeks. His wandering hands caressed my front, but carefully avoided my bouncing woodie while I continued to rub myself against him like an affectionate kitten. Getting the hint, Keith reached down and held his stiffie, aiming for my hole. Leaning against the tree, I pushed back and felt him enter me. That was all I needed; the velvety soft feeling of his hard dick inside me sent me into convulsions. In moments, we were going at it. I grabbed my chubby and started stroking. It was too good. Being outdoors made it too dangerous. In minutes, Keith was chanting and I was rambling incoherently. Pushing off of the tree, I reached back for Keith. He buried his head into my shoulder and whimpered. I held his head in place and quaked violently as I exploded. Ramming into me a few times more, Keith grabbed my hips and grunted, shooting his seed deep inside me.
After another almost simultaneous orgasm, we remained together for a long few minutes afterwards, cooing appreciatively and chuckling breathlessly. Then Keith reached for my deflating wiener and suggested, “Round two?”
I giggled insanely, but noticed that my dick was not quite as tired as the rest of me. Turning around, I nodded and reached for his cock. Keith was still pretty hard. We kissed then I moved out of the way so Keith could lean against the tree while I wet his ass. By the time he was ready, so was I. I moved into position behind him. As Keith had done, I held my stiffie at the target and let him push back onto me. We went slower this time, but still I managed to make Keith shoot another load against the tree in less than five minutes. Breathlessly he insisted, “Shoot inside me lover,” and pushed back against me again. I was close anyway, but held onto his hips and slapped against his buns until I finally whimpered and let my orgasm overtake me. Matching my thrusts, Keith pushed back against me and groaned, “I love you so much, Preston.”
Unable to reply verbally for a few moments, I massaged my lover’s back and tried to focus again. Keith stood up and my dick slipped from his hole, but remained buried between his cheeks. Exhausted, I held onto him and cooed, “I love you too Keith. I want to spend my life with you, only you.”
Turning slowly, Keith nodded and took me in his arms. We kissed and held onto each other for another minute or two before admitting that we were tired and needed to head back to camp. I turned on the lantern and we started gathering our clothes then got dressed.
As we started back, I commented, “Ya know, I was thinking that maybe we didn’t need to have sex tonight; that cuddling would’ve been enough.” I glanced his way and Keith squeezed my hand tight. Stealing a kiss, I smiled, “I’m glad I didn’t mention it before though.”
Keith giggled, “That was awesome! I felt like I was shooting for at least a minute there.”
“Really?” I happily smiled.
Pausing for a moment, Keith reminded, “The dildos have proven one thing for me, Prez. Size does not matter. It’s the experience – the sharing…”
“The bond,” we simultaneously agreed and started walking again.
I then offered, “It’s everything we do together, Keith. All day long the reasons why we should make love add up.”
“I know,” Keith started, “some days I feel like we can let sex pass, but other days, I just can’t do without.”
I wondered, “What made you want it tonight?”
Keith smiled brightly in the dark and answered, “Just you baby. You’ve been so together the last two days, since visiting your aunt. Have you had any flashbacks?”
I nodded, “But they’re not sad and I’m not over analyzing them. Like earlier when I noticed the stars. Should the stars go out because my mom died? They’re just as beautiful now as when she was alive. Wednesday morning was the last really intense one. The house was quiet when I got back from the vet. I was planning on returning to bed anyway, it just hurried me along.”
Wrapping his arm around me, Keith smiled, “Run to me whenever you need to, okay baby?” He then asked, “What made you want to tonight?”
“The way you were at the mall and with Mike and Derrick and then later with John. All the stuff you’ve been doing the last few days; not just the singing, but at the mixer and PC too. I don’t take any of that for granted, babe. It’s not enough for you to just be there; I need you to be involved somehow so that its fun for you too.”
Squeezing me tight, Keith assured, “It is fun, Prez. I’m easily amused, you know that.”
I chuckled, “Too bad we can’t make a living amusing ourselves!”
“In the porn industry we could make a killing,” Keith joked.
I laughed and playfully suggested, “Right after we turn eighteen?” Keith cracked up and nodded enthusiastically.
We started across the field again. Looking up at the sky, we saw a shooting star and watched as it disappeared behind the black canopy of treetops.
Keith asked, “Did you make a wish?”
I nodded and asked, “Did you?”
He grinned and nodded, “Tell me.”
I chuckled, “You tell me yours.”
He shook his head and asked, “Were we part of the wish?”
I nodded and beamed at him. Coming to a stop in the middle of the field, we embraced. Silently, I prayed that I would always make him this happy. As if he had heard my hopes, Keith briefly picked me up and huffed, “I love you so much.” After he let me back down, I kissed him hard and then picked him up. Holding on tighter, Keith laughed hysterically. “I’ve been wondering when you’d try that!” he roared as I set him down again.
We started walking again and I chuckled, “I like it when you pick me up.”
“And I like picking you up,” Keith admitted. “That way I can show you off.”
Silent and happy, we crossed the field and entered the woods again. Returning to our previous conversation, I offered, “Whatever makes you happy will make me happy, Keith. If you’re really interested in recording engineering then go for it. But you’ve always had interest in movies and how they’re made.”
Keith nodded, “I do, but I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’ve never wanted to try out for school plays.”
“That’s mostly because of the stage fright though, isn’t it?”
He shrugged, “That and the poor plays they choose. How many times can Death Of A Salesman be done?”
“I’ve always wondered about actors that consistently choose to play the antagonist; like Christopher Walken or Jack Nicholson? They’re probably really nice people in real life, but manage to act deranged or evil, as if it were perfectly natural.”
“I doubt I could play that part. Or act like I was in love with someone that I didn’t really care about.”
I said, “But you are a good judge of scenes; the lighting, the background, the actors’ abilities to get into their characters. That’s direction and production, isn’t it?” Keith nodded and I prompted, “Check it out then. I’d love to write the music for your movies, babe. What a team we could be.”
“We could,” Keith softly agreed. He then said, “I know what doesn’t interest me: policeman, fireman, paramedic or doctor; none of those public service sorts of jobs. I don’t want to be a lawyer or psychologist, like my folks. I don’t want to sit at a desk shuffling paper or computer screens. I want something where I know I’ve contributed something real that makes a positive impact.”
Squeezing his hand in mine, I smiled, “That’s a fantastic goal, babe.”
After a few silent paces, Keith wondered aloud. “That leaves the arts, doesn’t it?”
I shrugged, “Or the sciences. You like geology stuff on the Discovery Channel.”
Keith nodded, “Partially because of where we live. Back in 1992, we felt the Big Bear and Landers quakes and those cities are sixty or more miles away. The 1994 Northridge quake was a rude awakening for everyone. The ground shook violently for about twenty or thirty seconds at four in the morning that day. I thought someone broke in the house and was kicking my bed. The power went out and the emergency nightlights all turned on. When I got out of bed, I noticed dust floating down from the ceiling. My brothers were in the hallway. Drew looked like he had seen a ghost. As soon as the ground stopped shaking, he hurried to the bathroom. My parents came running out of their room. While my mom checked on us and surveyed our bedrooms for damage, my dad checked the furnace and the water heater in the garage. We had all just sat down in the living room and started to relax when the first aftershock hit. Needless to say, we didn’t get back to bed that morning. But we also got a few days off of school!”
I snickered, “And I haven’t felt the ground move once in a year!”
“It goes that way sometimes,” Keith grinned. “Mostly, it’s like a rolling wave sensation; the ground picks you up and sets you down again. The blinds and curtains may sway a little bit and you feel sort of dizzy. If you’re busy, you won’t even notice it. But big quakes over six on the Richter scale definitely get your attention.”
“Was anything broken or destroyed that day?”
Humming affirmatively, Keith answered, “Lots of photo frames and table lamps tumbled to the floor. A few glasses and tea cups fell from the kitchen cupboards. Nothing horrible, ya know, but enough to make a mess. Lots of stuff moved around though. Drawers had opened themselves, stereo components shifted on the shelves. That’s why my folks put those latches on the kitchen cupboards and have everything else held down with Velcro tape. Big things, like my mom’s china cabinet and the living room entertainment center, are anchored to wall studs.”
Approaching the main dirt road back to our campsite, I grinned, “I’m such an earthquake virgin!” Keith chuckled and I said, “Part of me wishes for just a small tremor so I can feel it just once.”
Keith stopped and grinned, “It’ll happen, when Ma Nature is good and ready.”
I nodded and asked, “Why’d we stop? We’re almost there.”
Holding me still and moving behind me, Keith said, “I know.”
Feeling his hands slide down from my shoulders past my waist to my thighs, I twisted and turned to see him. “What are you doing?”
Then I felt Keith’s head push between my legs. He said, “Brace your self, Prez.”
The next thing I knew, my lover had lifted me off the ground. “Christ!” I loudly laughed as I tried to maintain my balance on Keith’s shoulders.
Standing and with his hands on my thighs, Keith giggled, “You okay up there? Your nads are getting squished, are they?”
I chuckled, “My nads are fine! Now let me down before you hurt yourself!”
Keith started walking and shook his head. “Nope; I’ve wanted to do this for a year. Tonight, I’m going to do it.”
I howled. A warm, pine scented breeze blew through me and I suddenly felt my mom watching us. Blushing insanely, I begged, “Please, Keith. Let me down before you get hurt.”
“I’m perfectly fine, Prez. I lifted you with my legs and I’ll set you down the same way… once we get back to camp.”
I giggled, “You’re insane.”
He nodded and hummed as if he already knew that and it didn’t matter in the least. We passed a newly occupied campsite, but only saw a light inside the tent. As we approached our campsite, I heard Corey ask, “What’s that?”
Seconds later, Drew pointed and hollered, “Omigod!” As we approached the fire, Corey howled. Drew snickered and shook his head sadly.
Mr. Hundser focused on Keith and smiled, “Is this a statement?”
Keith nodded slowly then affectionately smiled up at me.
I softly giggled, “Can I please get down now?”
Keith said, “Pass me the lantern,” and I handed it to him. Then he passed the lantern to his dad and he stepped a few feet back from the fire. Squatting down, my lover offered his hands and guided me down to the ground. Turning to him, I stepped forward and finger combed his hair then kissed him, grazing my teeth playfully over his bottom lip.
As we took seats around the fire, Corey giggled, “When’s the wedding?”
“As soon as we’re able,” Keith quickly answered and I happily nodded.
“We’ll get there,” Mr. Hundser assured. “It’s going to take some education.”
I nodded excitedly then asked, “What were y’all chatting about before we interrupted?”
Drew and Corey turned to each other, but said nothing for a long few minutes. Then Mr. Hundser softly said, “Honestly, we were telling ghost stories.”
Turning to Drew and Corey, I said, “Don’t stop because of me. If you’re interested, I think that I might be able to tell a few.”
Keith leaned closer and whispered, “Don’t push it, baby.”
“I’m not frightened of my mom,” I clearly said. “She was just watching us.”
Stunned for a moment, Keith glanced across the fire. Facing me again, he grinned, “When?”
“Right after you picked me up,” I giggled.
Keith chuckled, “Yeah, she would’ve had something to say to both of us, I’m sure.”
I smiled, “In a flash, she was giving you hell for picking me up and me for sitting up there on display.”
Drew smiled and warned, “You’re freaking me out, Prez.”
I chuckled and said, “She’s been around our house a lot. Every time I think of her and sometimes, she reminds me of something spontaneously. The other night, while I was at my aunt’s, I got a little emotional at one point. My aunt was standing beside me with her hand on my shoulder. She and my uncle were trying to make me feel better. Soon, I pulled myself back together and thought my aunt was still behind me, with her hand on my shoulder. When I turned and looked, she was several paces away, at the stove. But I could still feel the pressure of a hand on my shoulder.”
Wide-eyed, Corey softly droned; “Whoa!” Wiping his eyes, Drew forced a smile. Mr. Hundser and Keith were smiling and watching me though.
After a few awkward moments, I said, “Well, who’s got the next story?”
Keith shuffled closer and held onto me. He grinned, “I can’t beat that one!”
Mr. Hundser chuckled, “Have you ever heard of the Winchester Mansion?” I shook my head and he softly started, “Sarah Lockwood Pardee married William Winchester of the Winchester Rifle Company in 1862. Their only child, a six-month-old daughter died in 1866, and William died of tuberculosis a few years later. Sarah Winchester visited a Boston psychic who told her the deaths were revenge from the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles, and that Sarah could escape the spirits' wrath by moving west and building a house that would never be finished.
Pausing for a moment, Mr. Hundser glanced at Drew and Corey. They were obviously entranced. Keith’s dad then softly said, “Sarah Winchester took her twenty million dollar cash inheritance and thousand dollar-a-day income and moved west to California in 1884. She bought an unfinished eight-room farm house near San Jose that is now known as the Winchester Mystery House. She soon started building on the house; twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and she never stopped! For the next thirty-eight years, the house grew, swallowing up everything around it including the barn and water tower. In the end, she created a sprawling structure covering six acres with one hundred and sixty rooms, thirteen bathrooms, six kitchens, forty staircases, forty-seven fireplaces, two thousand doors and ten thousand windows.
“Sarah Winchester was the first to report spirits in the house. In fact, she spoke to them nightly, ringing a bell at midnight to summon them. A second bell rung at 2:00 a.m. told them it was time to leave. However, it seems that someone might need to ring a bell around the place again.
“The unusual goings-on reported in the Winchester House include organ music in the Blue Room where Sarah died, a couple lingering in the corner of a bedroom, cold spots in Sarah's bedroom, and apparitions of Sarah. Perhaps one of the oddest is the smell of chicken soup coming from a long-unused kitchen. Since Sarah Winchester's death, several psychics have reported feeling cold spots and seeing red balls of light that fade and explode. Psychic Jeanne Borgen visited in 1975 and reportedly took on Sarah Winchester's appearance for a short time. Authors Richard Winer and Nancy Osborn spent the night there in 1979 while researching a book and were awakened by footsteps and piano music. Staff members have also reported seeing apparitions, hearing whispering sounds, seeing lights going on and off and security alarms being triggered from inside the house.”
After a few moments, Keith moaned eerily. Drew and Corey nervously giggled. I chuckled, “We have got to go there!” and Keith cracked up, falling against me slightly.
Standing up, Mr. Hundser yawned and said, “I’m gonna call it a night. If you still want to play tennis tomorrow, I’d suggest sacking out soon. Good night, boys.”
We all said goodnight and I watched Keith’s dad crawl into the small tent. He took his hiking boots off, unrolled his sleeping bag and closed the tent flap.
Keith glanced at his watch. It was only a few minutes after eleven. That meant our little trek into the woods lasted about two hours. Keith asked, “Are you tired, baby?”
“I should be, but I’m not,” I answered. Drew and Corey stood and moved around the fire, closer to us.
Keith teased, “Scared?”
Corey nodded and smiled widely. Sitting down beside me, he asked, “Do you really feel your mom around?”
Drew sat at the end of the row and said, “That’s not very nice, Cor.”
“I’m not frightened of my mom,” I softly repeated. “I’d give anything for just fifteen more minutes with her. Just to say what never was said. If she appeared before us right now; I’d run to her in an instant.”
The fire loudly popped and we all jumped.
Keith softly snickered, “It makes me crazy when you do that.”
Turning to him, I nervously giggled, “I didn’t do that!”
Shaking his head sadly, Keith grinned, “Just an amazing coincidence, like the traffic lights or our English final.”
Turning away from him, I snickered and looked at Drew and Corey. They were both grinning slightly and watching me closely. “So I can time the lights,” I said, “and as for our final, I can’t explain that either. All I can guess is that we’ve been practicing silent communications for quite some time and we’re getting good at it.”
Drew wondered, “What happened with the test?”
Keith giggled, “He gave me the answers subconsciously.”
“Not all of them!” I grinned, “Just the last four.”
While Drew eyed me suspiciously, Corey softly giggled, “Cheaters!”
Holding eye contact with Drew, I assured, “There’s nothing to be scared of, Drew. If I really had some amazing power, then my mom would be here with us, so we could finally say goodbye.” I waved my arm around and sighed, “But she’s no where to be seen.” Keith squeezed me tightly. With my strength restored, I affirmed, “Any power I have comes from the memory of her and the love of my foster family.”
Keith gently kissed my ear. Corey giggled and hugged Drew. Blushing madly, Drew grinned, “Now you’re getting mushy.”
I shrugged, “Maybe so, but I said it anyway.”
Wrapping an arm around Corey, Drew softly smiled at me and said, “Thanks, dude.”
“Thank you,” I insisted. “I’m the one that moved into your house.”
“It’s our house,” Drew reminded.
“The dynamics in our house haven’t really changed much since you moved in,” Keith softly assured.
Drew enthusiastically nodded, “That’s right. You fit in with us from the start; from last year’s trip to the mountains and ever since.” He then turned to Corey and said, “Tell him, dude.”
Corey nodded and smiled, “You are part of that family, Prez. I’ve expected to see you there ever since last summer, even before you actually lived there.”
Squeezing me tight, Keith softly said, “Remember what I said about sticking close to home for a year or two?” I nodded and Keith said, “This is why. After a gigantic loss, you’re just acclimating to everything. You don’t need more change. You need some stability; someplace to call home and people to come home to. When we do move out, we’ll be a short drive from home, still in the same county so it will all become even more familiar. Then, after MI, we can decide on which college to go to. You’re excited about Berkeley so we’ll take a few long weekend trips up that way so we can get to know the place before we make the final decision.”
By the time Keith finally paused, I was shivering with excitement. I softly smiled, “That’s an excellent plan,” and then leaned close for a soulful kiss. Behind me, Corey giggled. A moment later, Drew grunted. Curious, I broke the kiss and turned around. Attached at the mouth, Corey was hanging off of Drew. Noticing me watching, Drew gently tried to push Corey away. But Corey got a few extra little kisses in before turning around and leaning against Drew.
In the firelight, Drew’s blush was still obvious, but he smiled widely and wrapped his arms around Corey.
Contentedly, Corey sighed, “This is as much as I ever wanted.” He then smiled up at Drew. I grinned at Keith and he smiled back at me. Silently, we watched the fire for a few minutes.
The logs crumbled and Keith softly said, “If I put another log on, we’re awake for another hour at least.” Simultaneously, we all checked our watches. It was only a little after midnight. Drew and Corey both nodded then so did I and Keith carefully dropped the last log onto the fire.
Settling down beside me again, Keith wrapped his arm around me. “It’s so quiet,” he whispered, “just the crackling of the fire.”
“It’s soothing too,” I softly agreed, “a welcome change of pace.”
Corey whispered, “The air is so clean and fresh.”
Drew grinned and joked, “Except by the latrine.”
“Omigod!” Corey giggled. Wrinkling his nose, he softly said, “Next time, I take a healthy dump before we leave the house!”
Keith chuckled, “When ya gotta go, ya gotta go!”
I snickered, “I gotta go.”
“Really?” Keith asked.
I nodded, “Gotta leak.”
“Oh!” my lover smiled, “Pick a tree, any tree.”
I started to stand and Drew said, “I’ll take a walk with you, dude.” Corey leaned forward to allow Drew to stand. We started down the path past the Suburban and then went across the dirt road. My bladder was bursting so I took the second tree in the small cluster of trees. Drew walked past me and stopped at the next tree. A minute or so later, I finished and stuffed my dick back in my shorts. Patiently and quietly, I waited for Drew. Just as I started to wonder if he was playing with himself, Drew turned around, still adjusting his fly. He grinned, “It took a while to get started.”
I snickered, “I hate when that happens,” and we started back across the road.
Drew then said, “Let’s not rush around tomorrow morning.”
I nodded, “If we get to play tennis, great. If not, we’re on for next weekend.”
“Cool,” Drew smiled.
Passing a few trees and then the Suburban, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Corey was leaning against Keith! And they were both smiling at us, innocently waiting for our reaction.
Coming to an abrupt halt, I softly smiled, “Wait a second, Drew.”
“What?” Drew grumbled. Stopping, he then looked up at me. Noticing my smile, a smirk slowly formed on Drew’s face. “You’ve got an idea?”
I nodded then stepped behind him and squatted down saying, “Climb aboard.”
Glancing back over his shoulder, Drew giggled and spread his legs. Lifting Keith’s brother, I noticed Corey and Keith separating. They stood and came after us. Laughing hysterically, I backed away.
Keith grinned evilly, “You are in it so deep right now!”
I chuckled, “I know!”
Looking way up above my head, Corey threatened, “The longer you stay up there, the worse it will be.”
Still backing away, I bumped into the Suburban. Drew giggled, “Lemme go!” I let go of his legs and Drew scrambled off of my shoulders onto his dad’s SUV. Turning and running, I saw Drew starting to stand on top of the Suburban! Keith was chasing after me; exactly where I knew he’d be. But I was laughing too hard to really run and Keith quickly caught up.
“You are so bad!” he chuckled, and playfully swatted my ass!
Forcing a suspicious glare, I chortled, “And what was going on with you and Corey?”
Hugging me tightly, Keith softly said, “Your sense of humor was the first to return. There’s only one other thing that I can think of that would make everything the same.”
Resting my head on his shoulder, I sighed, “What’s that?”
Pulling back enough to make me lift my head off his shoulder, Keith still held me and looked deeply into my eyes. He sorrowfully said, “You used to dream about me.”
Before October, I used to dream about the two of us all the time. “I know,” I softly said, “but now we’re living our dream every day and every night. She lives in my subconscious now. It’s going to take a while, babe.”
Leading us back to our campsite, Keith said, “I’m sorry, Prez. I shouldn’t have made that comparison.”
I disagreed, “For me, it was a good thing to here. Everyone I care most about knew her too. You all miss her too and, up until very recently, couldn’t or wouldn’t talk much about her. In time, I’ll want to hear those memories, babe.”
Keith nodded and we took the final few steps back to the campfire. There were a few small flames still lapping at the burned logs, but it wouldn’t last much longer. There was a light inside the large tent. Drew and Corey had obviously decided to call it a night. We sat and I sniggled up against him then apologized. “I’m sorry I picked up Drew.”
Keith kissed me then grinned, “You were just getting me back for cuddling with Corey.” For the next half an hour or so, Keith and I watched the fire slowly dwindle. Crickets chirped and somewhere in the distance, owls occasionally hooted. We started yawning and gave up the battle. Keith handed me the flashlight then he started kicking dirt onto the embers of our fire and I followed suit. Before we were left in the dark, I turned the flashlight on. Soon the fire was out. Coming to me and reaching for my hand, Keith whispered, “Let’s just make sure that it won’t flame up again.”
Overtired, I softly snickered, “We’ll have to flame up for John sometime.”
“He’ll be really sorry this Halloween,” Keith chuckled.
“We have to dress in drag; it’s imperative!”
Keith heaved and struggled to keep his voice soft. “My mom will have three daughters for one night.”
I nodded, “That would make her happy.”
“Or scare the daylights out of her!” Keith snickered.
We went to the tent, kicked our sneakers off then ducked under the flap and stepped inside. Drew and Corey were sharing two sleeping bags. They had left a lantern on for us. Hidden behind the cooler and our backpacks, it provided just enough light for us to setup our sleeping bags. We started to undress. Off came our socks and we tossed them back outside with our sneakers. Then we took off our shirts and tossed them over by the backpacks.
Reaching for the button on my shorts, I whispered, “They’re sleeping with their clothes on?”
“And so are you! At least your underwear, please!” Drew suddenly said; scaring the shit out of me and making my heart leap into my throat.
“Aww,” Corey softly groaned, “I was hoping for a show.”
Under the sleeping bag, Drew giggled and nudged Corey. “I told you not to encourage them!” Drew playfully complained.
Smiling at me while he pulled his legs out of his shorts, Keith stood upright then tossed his shorts at his brother!
“Agh!” Drew grumbled, and quickly tossed the shorts back. I let my shorts slip down my legs and I playfully kicked them at Corey. They landed on his face and Keith chuckled.
Tossing my shorts aside, Corey grinned, “They’re blocking the view, dude!”
Still in our undies, Keith and I smiled at each other.
“Do we take our undies off now or under the sleeping bag?” he silently asked.
Tilting my head and smiling at the tent roof, I transmitted; “We already told them that we shaved and Drew didn’t believe us.”
Keith nodded and we simultaneously reached for our underwear. We pushed them down and Corey’s eyes widened. Covering his mouth, he laughed, “Omigod! You really did it!”
Glancing at us, Drew rolled away and grumbled, “Un-fucking-believable!”
Together, we sat down on our sleeping bag. Keith said, “I’d have no reason to lie to you about it,” and we pulled the top sleeping bag over us.
Drew rolled over and asked, “But why?”
Keith rolled over and snuggled against me. Wrapping an arm around my love, I answered, “Why not? It’s just hair and grows back. We didn’t know each other before puberty and just wanted to.”
Throwing the top sleeping bag away, Corey stood and said, “Since we’re all getting comfy!” Then he started to undress. Surprisingly, Drew didn’t say a word or try to stop his boyfriend. I watched Drew intently watching Corey.
Keith grinned, “You go, girlfriend!” and Corey started swinging his T-shirt around. Glancing up at him, I noticed that Corey was very thin. But I reckoned that he was at the awkward age when different body parts grow at different rates. Letting his shirt fly to Drew, Corey then reached for his shorts. “Yee haw!” I playfully encouraged.
“Prez!” Drew shouted and Corey giggled loudly.
Turning to Drew, I grinned, “What? He’s really cute!”
Holding his smile, Drew softly warned, “And he’s mine!” Hearing that, Keith buried his face in my chest and cracked up. Dropping his shorts, Corey froze half hunched over, and glared at Drew. Still snickering, Keith looked up and around the tent at each of us.
We smiled at each other and softly said, “Whoopsie!”
Grabbing the waistband of his boxers, Corey pushed them down. Standing upright, he pointed at Drew and giggled, “He doesn’t even realize what he just said. That’s why I love him; because it almost always comes right from the heart.” He then hurried to Drew and landed a whopper of kiss. Corey shifted, pointing his lily white ass our way, and Drew pulled the top sleeping bag over his naked boyfriend.
“For the record,” Drew commented, “I knew exactly what I was saying.”
“Ooo!” Keith mooed playfully, “I’m tellin’ mom!”
Lying back down, Drew smiled, “Go ahead.”
“Big man,” Keith teased. “Are you going to turn off the light and get undressed too now?
Drew huffed and Corey turned to him saying, “Show ‘em dude. If I could do it, you can.” Corey then softly added, I think you’ve got a killer bod.”
Drew turned to Corey as if stunned. He then stole a quick kiss and tossed the sleeping bag aside. Standing up, Drew giggled, “No strip tease.”
Simultaneously, Corey and I groaned, “Aww,” and Keith cracked up again.
Smirking at his big brother for a moment or two, Drew then turned around. He took his T-shirt off and unceremoniously dropped his shorts. Kicking them aside, Drew then snickered, leaned over the sleeping bags and turned off the lantern. Embracing me in the dark, Keith softly chuckled, “I knew he wouldn’t do it.” A moment later, something flew past me. “Argh!” Keith loudly laughed.
Getting back in bed, Drew snickered, “How’d they smell bro?” Corey and I roared.
Keith giggled, “Skanky, you weasel!”
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