Saturday morning Cameron was up and dressed, and in Mr. Harris’ car long before he normally ever got up on a Saturday. He was dressed in an outfit he would never have worn before on a Saturday, let alone any other day of the week. The wool sweater itched around his neck, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d worn a belt.
They spent the morning visiting an old lady, at least Mr. Harris did. He did every little chore the lady needed done which included washing dishes, washing windows and vacuuming which was all he had time for in the two hour visit.
At 11:00 am they pulled into the driveway of a small run down house just a few houses away from the Harris’s. One Cameron had never even really noticed before. He stepped out the car with Mr. Harris and followed him up to the front door.
Mr. Harris knocked and a moment later the door opened and Cameron’s eyes widened seeing who was on the other side.
“Oh. Hello Mr. Harris.” Cole said half smiling what looked to Cameron like a forced smile. His eyes raked over Cameron and the annoyed look that had been on his face after seeing Mr. Harris deepened. Cole stepped back from the doorway and motioned them in. Cameron smiled at him as they walked through but Cole was too busy looking at the floor to notice it. Something Cameron himself was quite accustomed to doing nowadays.
He followed Mr. Harris into a dark living room hearing the door close behind them. There Mr. Harris knelt down in front of a woman in a wheel chair. Her head was hanging down and she looked to him to be asleep but when Mr. Harris touched her knee she made groaning sounds.
“Why don’t you go ask the boy if he needs any help around this place?” Kyle’s father ordered him.
Cameron nodded and turned out of the room. He walked past the doorway and into a small but clean kitchen. The appliances all looked like they were from the fifties but were sparkling clean. Not seeing Cole there he walked through the kitchen and looked out the door on the far side.
It led into a small back yard that held a small garden and a tree and one of those bench swings. He saw Cole sitting on the swing. He wasn’t swinging though, just sitting there staring into space his feet firmly on the ground holding the swing in a stationary position.
Cameron opened the back door and stepped out onto the small stairway. He walked down the three steps and onto the back lawn. He wasn’t sure what he was going to say but had wanted the chance to talk to Cole since that day in the library. Cole turned his head and looked at him the moment the door closed on its automatic hinge.
Even though his eyes narrowed again Cameron walked right up to him and stood a few feet in front of the swing.
Cole still looking up at him squinted into the sunlight. “I thought your last name was Jamison?”
Despite the sunlight Cole’s eyes widened. “So you are here voluntarily? That’s not your dad, and he didn’t’ make you come?” He laughed a small bitter laugh. “Sure didn’t have you pegged for one of those saintly do-gooders.”
“Oh don’t worry about that, I’m not.” He had to chuckle himself finding it a little funny that he had to defend himself against not being a do-gooder.
“So why are you here?”
“I live with Mr. Harris. His son is my best friend.”
“You know Kyle?”
Cole nodded and moved over a bit on the seat giving Cameron an invitation to sit down. “He’s been here with his dad.”
Cameron took the seat his thigh brushing up against Cole’s, which sent an excited tingle through his body. He hadn’t realized how much he was missing sex until that moment.
Cole turned and looked at him. “How come you live with Mr. Harris?”
“I got in trouble. My father kicked me out. He took me in.”
“So now you gotta make the rounds with him?”
Cameron nodded. “You sound like you don’t like him much.”
Cole shrugged running his sneaker-clad foot along the gravel that was under the swing. “We don’t need him. I don’t know why he thinks he’s gotta show up here every week. And he looks at me like I’m some leper.”
“Does he know you’re gay?” Cameron asked figuring that’d be why.
“No I don’t’ think so. I generally have a good sense of who it’s okay to tell and who it isn’t. Besides, I’ve hardly ever talked to him. Only when he gives me the third degree about if I’m taking care of my mom like I’m supposed to.”
A gentle breeze blew past Cole and Cameron inhaled his fresh scent. It was clean and smelled so good. He closed his eyes for a moment taking it in then quickly opened them shocked at himself for letting a guy’s smell over take him so thoroughly. God, he couldn’t like this guy now more then ever. He wasn’t going to lose his place to live and he didn’t need the complications love brought.
He cleared his throat. “So uh… that’s your mom then?”
Cole looked down at his pants and nodded.
“What happened to her?”
“Car accident, like two years ago. Remember that scar you were asking me about that night we met?”
Cameron hesitated not remembering the night well enough and Cole went on. “No probably not.” He sighed and rolled his eyes but continued anyways. “My whole family was in that car. I had a brother and father. They died and my mom is like she is now. They all call me the lucky one.” He kicked at the dirt and shook his head then stared off thoughtfully into space. “I don’t see it though.”
Feeling really bad for Cole, he tried to think of some great consoling words or some great wisdom filled saying to come up with but couldn’t manage a thing. “You said you just moved here why did you move?”
“So you live here with her too then?”
Cole shook his head. “No, but this was her house. She died. We didn’t have any money and were living in a shit-hole apartment in Virginia. When Gram died she left everything to my mom even though they hadn’t been on speaking terms in years.”
“So if your mom is how she is, then you must have had to handle everything?”
“No not really.” Cole looked over at the house then at Cameron. “There’s goodie-goodies everywhere. I suppose I’m glad they were there to help me with what I had to know for the will and paperwork and all that, but it’s still frustrating that no one thinks I can do this on my own. I’m fully capable.”
Cameron nodded and half smiled. “I don’t think it’s that they don’t think you’re capable. I just think they want to help out.”
Cole’s dark green eyes glinted disbelief. “No, I don’t think that’s it.” He gestured to the house, which Cameron noted was badly in need of a paint job. Its gray paint was peeling off everywhere. “Especially that Mr. Harris in there,” He shook his head. “I don’t know how you live with that guy man. He drives me insane.”
“Well I’ve only been with him five days. I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to do it either.”
“I bet he’s real strict huh?”
Cameron nodded. “I’m not sure if he always is, but he is with me since I’m only staying there cause I got in trouble.”
“Ahh,” Cole nodded the light going off in his head. “You must have been with Josh on Tuesday night huh?”
Cole started chuckling and shaking his head back and forth. “Man you guys are dumb!”
Though he knew he should have been pissed at being laughed at and being called dumb, Cameron found himself laughing right along with Cole. When he stopped laughing a couple minutes later he wiped at his eyes and looked back at Cole who seemed a little surprised he’d been laughing so hard.
“I’m supposed to be asking you if you need help with anything.”
Cole rolled his eyes. “Did you not listen to a word I’ve been saying here?”
Cameron nodded thoughtfully an idea forming in his head. “Yeah, but I do see a lot of things we could do to fix the place up, like a coat of paint for one. Maybe, if we can come up with enough stuff to do I can be saved from do-gooding for other people and just come over and help you.”
“What’s the difference if you do-good for me, or others?”
“I like you. I’d like to hang out with you more, but being that I’m grounded I can’t leave the house. And I think maybe if I’m over here volunteering I could get out of the house more.” He was very pleased to see a smile form on Cole’s lips.
“I’m still mad at you.”
Cameron nodded understanding that. “I’m sorry about that night Cole.”
“No, not so much that night as you not remembering it. Hell I had a great time that night. I just didn’t realize you were so drunk. I also didn’t realize you did that thing on a regular basis.”
“How did you know I did it on a regular basis?”
Cole shrugged and tilted his head to one side. “Well I just didn’t figure I was the first one night stand you had.” He paused and took in a deep breath. “I mean seemed to me you knew pretty well what you were doing.”
They sat in silence for a moment enjoying the warm spring day and the breeze that was gently blowing over them. “I don’t want to be your boyfriend Cameron. I don’t know if that’s what’s on your mind, but I don’t want that. I certainly don’t want to be your fuck buddy either. But I do think I want you as my friend.”
Certainly happy with that as he didn’t want a boyfriend either Cameron nodded. He wouldn’t mind a fuck buddy, but felt for some reason that Cole was too good for that anyways. Besides he didn’t want to do anything to risk his stay at the Harris’s. “I’ll talk to Mr. Harris tonight. If I’m lucky I can come back here tomorrow and we can get to work.” He paused then looked at Cole. “We really gotta work though. He’ll want to see progress.”
Cole actually laughed a sweet and warm laugh. “Yeah, no shit.” His eyes raked over the back of the house and the back lawn. “It sure would be nice to get this placed fixed up though, and since it’s helping you out too I guess I can accept the help without being an ass about it.” He looked down at his watch. “We got a while before you guys leave. Want to get started now?”
“Sure.” Cameron stood up and they went into the house. Cole grabbed a pen and notebook out of his backpack off the kitchen table and they made their way through the house and outside writing down stuff that two teenage boys would be able to fix, or work on themselves.
After two more stops, at two more houses, Cameron and Mr. Harris walked into the Harris home at almost six that night. Cameron was having a hell of a time waiting to talk to Mr. Harris about his plan but knew he would have a better chance of getting his wish if he followed the rules and didn’t bother the man until the weekly meeting in his office.
As soon as they walked in the door Mrs. Harris called them into the dining room where the rest of the family was all getting food on the table. Starving, not having any lunch other then a few cookies at one little old ladies house Cameron pulled off his jacket and joined the rest of them as they sat down at the table.
His favorite part of living with the Harris’s was the incredible meals. He’d never tasted anything as yummy as all the stuff she’d cooked. He helped himself to a large piece of chicken as the plate was passed around then added a spoonful of mashed potatoes and a spoon full of peas. Kyle tossed him a roll grinning at him, as his father reprimanded him for bad table manners.
Cameron kept quiet while Kyle bickered with his father, not yet having spoken a word at the dinner table. The conversation went on around him but he never seemed to be included in any of it. He wasn’t about to just pipe up and butt in unless asked to and thus far he hadn’t been asked to or even asked a question while they were eating.
After dinner he helped with the dishes, like he did every night. Tonight though, instead of sitting at the table under the watchful eye of Mr. Harris, he got to go up to Kyle’s room. Though they’d been living in the same house for five days, Cameron hadn’t seen or talked to Kyle any more than usual, as his parents were keeping him so busy.
“You want to watch a movie?” Kyle asked as Cameron flopped down on his bed.
“It’s not Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables is it?” he asked rubbing his hands over his eyes as he laid down on his back pulling his knees up in the air.
“No, but it’s not Debbie does Dallas either.”
Cameron snorted out a laugh and propped himself up on his elbows. “Yeah a movie sounds good.”
“I got this one with you in mind.” Kyle snickered as he sat back on the bed with the remote control. The bed being huge there was plenty of room for the both of them.
Cameron groaned. “I’ve had enough moral values for one week.”
Kyle held the remote in his hand but didn’t press play. “It’s not so bad is it?”
“Nah, just different I guess.”
Kyle who was sitting against the headboard of the bed looked down at Cameron who was lying down. “If you could choose right now would you stay here, or go back home?”
Looking up at the ceiling Cameron thought about it. Something he really hadn’t thought about up until that moment. He figured because he just hadn’t had the time. The thing he’d hated about his father’s house was the fact he didn’t even exist to the other people that lived there. He sure knew he existed in the Harris home but certainly didn’t feel that wanted. Sure they were all nice but he couldn’t shake the feeling that they were all a little put out by him being there; which made perfect sense. They had their own family, and here he was some friend of their kid just moving in.
He didn’t mind all the work he was doing, but did miss being able to do what he wanted whenever he wanted to do it. He didn’t miss the drinking or drugs too bad, but sure missed the sex. He didn’t even miss Josh or any of the other people he had hung out with at parties.
He had a different feeling about himself. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but that day with Cole was just an example of it. He had actually dared to go up and talk to him; where as a week earlier he would have felt too ashamed. He still knew what he had done to Cole was wrong, but instead of hiding from it and avoiding the situation he felt the responsibility to make it right, and the confidence to do it.
He looked back at his friend as Kyle clucked his tongue. “Wow, I didn’t know it was such a difficult question.”
Cameron grinned at him. “Sorry, and yeah I think I’d stay here.”
The smile that filled Kyle’s face made Cameron happy, just knowing he had made his friend happy. Kyle pressed play on the remote control and they spent the next two hours watching Stand by Me. Exhausted at ten o’clock Cameron went straight to bed after the movie.
Cameron was actually relieved when he was called into Mr. Harris’s office Sunday night. The whole day had sucked. Church that morning had given him a sour feeling in his stomach that lasted all day long. He didn’t know how he was going to sit through that preacher’s rantings every week. He swore the only thing the man thought was wrong in the world was the queers. He supposed it had something to do with the upcoming elections and the fight between two governors, one pro gay rights one adamantly against them. Something he would have had no idea of if he hadn’t heard every little detail in church that morning. Apparently the pro-rights potential governor was worse then Satan himself.
He seated himself across from Mr. Harris who was seated behind his desk going over in his head what he wanted to say.
“You’ve had a very good week Cameron. I’m very impressed.” The man started out smiling at him.
Cameron half smiled back feeling awkward about being complimented, and certainly not expecting it.
“I haven’t really got any grievances or things to discuss with you, so do you have anything you’d like to say to me?”
Clearing his throat Cameron sat up a little straighter and took a deep breath. “I had a question actually.”
“Well you know that lady? The one in the wheel chair and her son?”
Mr. Harris nodding putting his hand to his chin he rested his elbow up on his desk. “The Parkers? Yes.”
“Well I noticed they really need a lot of work around their place. Like the house needs painting, the lawn needs landscaping, a lot of rooms inside need to be repainted.” Encouraged by the man nodding he just spit out the question. “I want to help the son fix it up, but I think that’s gonna take more then two hours a week. I was wondering if I could just go there and work rather then go to all of your other stops with you.”
Mr. Harris scratched at his chin then leaned back in his chair. Cameron couldn’t tell by the look on his face if he was for it or not and waited as patiently as he could.
“You sure the boy is going to let you help? He’s pretty independent I know he doesn’t like me showing up every week.”
Cameron nodded feeling even more hopeful. “I already talked to him about it. He seemed all for the idea.”
Starting to look a little suspicious Mr. Harris leaned forward again. “Do you know this boy? From school?”
“He goes to my school, but I’ve only seen him once or twice. We’ve never really talked before, other then yesterday.” He let out the breath he had been holding when the man nodded looking like he accepted the answer.
“Okay,” Mr. Harris said after a minute. “I don’t have a problem with it if he doesn’t. You can go there on Saturdays and spend the day. Sunday you’ll still be doing rounds with me though.”
Though he’d really hoped for both days Cameron nodded, glad to get Saturdays at least.
“Is that all you wanted to talk about?”
“Everything’s going okay for you here?”
“Yes sir,” he didn’t miss the surprised look on Mr. Harris’s face and was surprised at how happy he felt about it. Maybe the man would realize, or see he wasn’t the lazy jackass he was sure the Mr. Harris thought he was.
Ken Harris checked his watch then looked back up at Cameron. “Well it’s almost nine then. You better go up and get ready for bed. There’s school tomorrow.”
Nodding Cameron stood up still thinking the 9pm bed time was ridiculous, but he couldn’t knock how well rested he felt every day. It was far better then being out drinking until 2am, then staggering into school still half drunk the next morning.
Another week passed and before Cameron knew it, it was Saturday morning the day he had been waiting all week for. He hadn’t seen Cole at school at all that week, and was really looking forward to seeing him again. He got up at six with the help of the alarm Mr. Harris had given him saying when he handed it over that he was responsible for getting himself up in the mornings. He had always gotten himself up in the morning; the problem had been it wasn’t always on time. He figured the number of tardies he had at school went well into the double digits.
He took a ten-minute shower, got dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, and then walked down over the stairs. Mrs. Harris was at the stove cooking what had to be bacon by the heavenly smell that filled the lower floor of the house. Mr. Harris was at the table reading his newspaper.
Mr. Harris lowered the paper and looked him over. “Going to get an early start?” he asked sounding mildly impressed.
“Yes sir, I told him I’d be there around seven.”
“I’m surprised he’s going to get up that early. Many times when I show up at 11 he looks like he just got out of bed.”
Cameron shrugged getting an idea by the tone of the man’s voice that he had as little use for Cole as Cole had for him.
“I don’t think he’s capable of taking care of his mother. I’ve talked to social services and they’ve gone and checked over the situation. But those people are so busy I didn’t get any results.”
Irritated at what the man was saying Cameron tried to hold his tongue, but it was going off before he got the chance. “Maybe because there isn’t a problem. Cole has been taking care of his mom for two years. They seem just fine to me.”
Mr. Harris looked at him incredulously, smugness written all over his face. “And you were able to tell that in your 1 hour visit last week?” he asked folding up his paper and resting his hands on it, looking to Cameron like he was ready for battle.
Even more irritated Cameron leaned forward his eyes locking into Mr. Harris’s. “I can tell Cole loves his mother. It wouldn’t be easy for anyone to take care of her, but he does it, and he doesn’t complain. Why would you try to get them separated?”
Mr. Harris sat back a little and crossed his arms across his chest. “What do you mean separated?”
“Well by going to social services.”
“Social services wouldn’t separate them Cameron. They would just assign a caseworker to see they’re needs were met. I know a nurse comes in every day but I don’t think that’s enough.” He tilted his head to one side and studied the boy for a moment before he spoke again. “Do you think it was social services fault that you are no longer at home? Do you think they separated you from your family?”
Cameron quickly shook his head not liking how this had turned around on him. “No of course not.”
“Why do I get the feeling you think social services is a bad thing then?”
Shrugging Cameron didn’t have it in him to admit why he had bad feelings about Social services. It was part of his past, and the past was just that, the past. He didn’t feel like bringing it all up again. He shrank back a little as the man leaned in closer to him. “Did your dad threaten you with it? Tell you he would call them and put you in a state home?”
His eyes widened as the man’s words were pretty much exact to what his father had told him so many times when he was younger. Maybe he wasn’t giving Mr. Harris enough credit. Maybe the man was smarter then he thought. You could be ignorant and opinionated about a lot of things, but he guessed that didn’t make someone stupid about everything.
The man sat back again sighing. “I’d say by the look on your face that’s exactly what happened. Well I can tell you that Social Services does a lot of good for a lot of people. When they do take a child out of a home it’s for valid reason, and for the child’s own safety.” He paused and Cameron watched as he shook his head. “And I wasn’t threatening you Cameron. When I said I would call them if things didn’t work out here. I was just saying I wouldn’t turn you out into the streets. That I would turn you over to them so I’d know you were taken care of. It wasn’t meant to be a scary thing.”
Cameron nodded fully embarrassed that the man could read him so well. Not only did it embarrass him, it made him nervous wondering if he would be able to tell other things too. Things he in no way wanted him to know. Things that could get him kicked out of this house. He had no intention of being in social services care.
“Do you want some eggs and bacon dear?” He looked up to see Mrs. Harris smiling at him from the stove a spatula in her hand.
“Umm, sure ma’am, thank you.” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had breakfast before 11am other then the past week. Like going to bed early, he thought it was a little ridiculous to sit down to a family breakfast every morning, but couldn’t deny it sure made his stomach happy right through until lunchtime at school.
“So what’s on your agenda today over at the Parker’s?” Ken Harris asked.
Glad the subject seemed to be changing Cameron relaxed a little. “I’m not sure, we made a list last week of what needed to be done. I just don’t know what we are going to do first.”
The man nodded seemingly satisfied with the answer. “I want you home by dinner. Six o’clock. Got it?” he asked picking his paper back up and eyeing the boy over the top of it.
“Yes sir.” He answered just as Mrs. Harris put down a steaming plate of eggs and bacon in front of him. He ate quickly wanting to get out of the house. He was ready to embark on the closest thing to freedom as he’d had in a while.
He knocked on Cole’s door at what he figured to be exactly seven o’clock. Cole answered the door his hair in disarray, and wearing gray plaid pajama bottoms and a white T-shirt. The shirt was a little tight and Cameron’s groin tingled at the site realizing Cole’s body was even better then he had originally thought.
“I’m so sorry dude, I’m running way behind. I’m still trying to feed my mom.” He stepped aside and motioned Cameron into the house. “Soon as she’s done it’ll only take me a few minutes to get ready.” He said, as he closed the door and led Cameron into the antiquated kitchen. It wasn’t quite as clean as the previous week but Cameron could tell it was a mess just made that morning and not three or fours days worth of stuff.
He stood just inside the doorway to the kitchen as Cole sat down in a chair facing his mother, who was still sitting in her wheel chair. Cole picked a spoon up out of a bowl of white mushy looking stuff, maybe oatmeal. He half filled the spoon then held it up to his mother’s mouth. Just like Cameron had seen his father’s wife do when his step-siblings were babies. He noticed some of the tension leave Cole’s face as the woman opened her mouth, making him figure she hadn’t been so cooperative earlier as the bowl was still full.
Not feeling right just standing there staring he walked over to the sink. “You want me to do up these dishes?” he asked seeing a pan and a couple glasses a few pieces of silverware in it.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I’m here on work release,” Cameron said chuckling. “so I’d better be working.”
Cole snickered at the table. “Work release? Is it that bad over there?”
Laughing a little himself he shook his head. “No, I’m being a little dramatic.” He looked back down at the sink. “But I would like to do these dishes.”
“Yeah, okay, crazy guy.” Cole chided. “Have a ball.”
Cameron set to work filling the sink with hot soapy water then grabbed a rag and started in.
“We are going to need some supplies.” Cole said still feeding his mother. “I figure when Mr. Harris gets here we can go over to the hardware store. That way he’s here to stay with mom.”
Cameron smiled as he worked the rag over one of the glasses. He knew Mr. Harris was full of crap. Cole was good to his mother, making sure she wouldn’t be left alone, not even for a short amount of time. “You can’t leave her alone at all?” he asked turning back to the sink and looking at Cole.
Cole nodded, stirring the white stuff around the bowl.
“How come you were able to go to that party?” he watched as Cole bit his lip and his face turned guilty.
“Your gonna think I’m an asshole.”
Confused Cameron shook his head. “No, I don’t think so.”
Sighing Cole filled the spoon again and held it up to his mother’s mouth. “She was in the hospital. Nothing major, just routine stuff. It happens about once a month. So I take advantage sometimes, and go out and have some fun of my own.”
“Why would I think you’re an ass for that?”
Cole shrugged. “I don’t know, just sometimes people seem to think I should spend all my time worrying about things. They figure I shouldn’t have any fun maybe.”
“Did someone say that to you?” Cameron asked in disbelief.
“No, not outright, but I know what people think. Sometimes just their facial expressions give it away. Like Mr. Harris, he’s never said anything to me about not thinking I’m capable, but from the looks I get from him I know. Even if he didn’t give me the third degree every week, I’d still know.” He dropped the spoon in the now empty bowl and stood up. He walked up to Cameron and put the bowl in the sink. “I gotta go get dressed. Can you just watch her?”
“Is she gonna do anything?” Cameron asked looking over the woman nervously.
Cole chuckled beside him. “No, I just feel better knowing someone is around if she’s not sleeping and I’m in the shower.”
“Okay, no problem.” As Cole took off up the stairs Cameron turned back to the sink. He finished washing up the dishes; then took the rag and rinsed it out and wiped off the counter tops and the table. He smiled at Mrs. Parker several times while he worked as he noticed her looking at him. He had no idea what her capabilities were. Didn’t know if she could understand what he said if he spoke, so he decided just a few smiles here and there would do.
As Cole had said, she didn’t do anything, just sat there either looking at him, at looking at the wall, or looking down at her lap. It didn’t stop him from being relieved though when Cole walked back in the room, his dark hair still wet from the shower, and sporting a pair of jeans and a dark blue t-shirt.
“Wow, you didn’t have to clean the whole kitchen.”
Cameron who was now sitting at the table smiled up at him. “I just wiped down the counters and stuff. So what do you want to do first?”
“Well I’d really like to paint outside today. I think we should do it before summer hits and its hot and nasty out. In the summer we can paint in here Gram had central air conditioning.” He ran his hand along the stove. “Can you believe it? The woman never bought a new appliance but had central air installed?”
Cameron returned Cole’s grin. He loved Cole’s grin. It seemed to light up his whole face.
“I ain’t bitching though. I hate summer. Too damn hot, spring and fall are great. And I’d take winter over summer, but if I were to have my wish it would be fall all year round.”
“I agree.” Cameron stated whole-heartedly. “I love fall. Thing is I don’t’ know if I’d appreciate it so much if it was always fall. Like, I really like the changing of the seasons, but your right summer is way too hot.”
Cole nodded as he pulled a notepad and a pen out of a drawer. He walked over and sat beside his mother and across the table from Cameron. “We should make a list.” He tapped the pen against the pad that he’d set on the formica top table. A table that looked like it came right out of the fifties along with the appliances. “You know of what we’ll need. We’ll start with just a list of what we’ll need to paint the outside.”
“Are you going to paint it the same color?”
Cole shrugged. “I hadn’t even thought about that. I guess I’ll have to look when I get to the store.”
“Have you ever painted a house before?”
Chuckling Cole shook his head. “No, You?”
Cameron chuckled as well. “Nope, should be interesting.”
“Well I imagine the people at the hardware store will be able to give us a few tips. I mean it can’t be that hard.”
After concocting a small list which included things like paint scrapers, drop cloths to put over the shrubs and of course paint. They spent the next few hours outside picking up odds and ends directly around the house, anything that would get in the way of ladders. Cole had put a warm looking jacket on his mother and rolled her onto the sun-porch so he could keep an eye on her while they worked.
Each thing Cole did for his mom, made Cameron think of Mr. Harris’s comments that morning. Thinking about how unfair it was for the man to make such a judgment after one hour a week for maybe three weeks. He wondered how anyone could be so pious. He didn’t blame Cole one bit for disliking Mr. Harris. Obviously Cole had things under control, and Cameron could understand how someone butting their nose in every week could be annoying. Hell more then annoying, if it were happening with him he’d be damn pissed.
He furrowed his brow as he raked around the shrubs. It was happening to him. Mr. Harris had waltzed on in taken over his life, and he didn’t once remember being asked what he wanted. The thing was though, even if he had been asked, he imagined he would have jumped at the chance to go live with the Harris’s. Even knowing the work that lay ahead of him, he missed his freedom, but it felt nice living with a family. A family that acknowledged he was alive. One that fed him, and asked how he was doing, and asked him if he had a good day at school. Those might seem like small things to some people, but to Cameron they were wonderful.
He figured that he was happy Mr. Harris had butted into his life, but he completely understood why Cole didn’t feel the same way. Cameron knew he had needed help, knew if it wasn’t for Mr. Harris he could be in an a lot worse place. Cole just didn’t need that help. He could imagine if he was in Cole’s shoes he would have told the man to go ‘fly a fucking kite’ the first day he walked into his house.
He looked over at Cole who was hard at work trimming the shrubs that were right up next to the house. He decided it took a very strong character to live the life that Cole did every day. He didn’t hide from things, or go out and get drunk all the time. He just did what had to be done. Even though he was looking right at him he was so deep in thought he didn’t see Cole had stopped working and was looking back at him.
Cameron blinked and smiled shyly; surprised he was embarrassed, and even more surprised he’d been caught staring. “Nothing, just thinking.”
“Well stop checking out my ass and work!” Cole laughed as he returned to clipping the hedges.
He hadn’t been checking out his ass, but now that it was right there facing him he took a good look. Cole had one of those incredibly pert little butts that he’d heard people refer to as bubble butts. He wanted to walk over and squeeze it and wanted to kick himself in the ass at the thought he had actually seen it naked but couldn’t friggin’ remember it. He wondered if he’d squeezed those cheeks, had felt the soft flesh against his fingers.
Feeling himself stiffen he quickly turned back to the house and got busy with the rake, cursing himself for letting his feelings or rather horniness get away with him. The last thing he needed was for Mr. Harris to pull in while he was rolling around on the ground half naked with Cole; God how he would love to be doing that now, if only circumstances were different.
He was still raking when Mr. Harris’s car pulled into the driveway. Cole turned to him and rolled his eyes as he set the clipper down and walked up to the man as he was making his way up the sidewalk. Cameron listened to the conversation noting that Cole didn’t waste any time with small talk.
“Cameron and I need to go down to the hardware store. We waited until you showed up so you’d be here with mom. Is that okay?”
Cameron noted that Mr. Harris didn’t seem interested in small talk with Cole either. He wondered if something had happened between the two that he wasn’t told about yet. They certainly disliked each other more then he had originally thought since it was obvious they both did all they could do just to talk to each other. It surprised him that Mr. Harris was letting him work there at all. Panic struck him as he thought maybe Mr. Harris knew about Cole. Of course if that were true, he doubted very highly he would have given permission to work there; unless Mr. Harris thought he was this big confident straight guy that could convert the little faggot.
He almost laughed out loud at that, he was pretty sure Mr. Harris wasn’t quite that naïve about things. Though he hoped the man was naïve enough to believe, and continue to believe he was straight as an arrow.
“I just have to run in and get my wallet, Cameron.” Cole called from the porch steps.
Cameron looked up at him and nodded, then watched as Mr. Harris knelt down in front of Mrs. Parker just as he had the week before. He wondered if he talked to her? He wondered how someone could carry on a one hour, one-sided conversation every week. He didn’t figure he could do it. He could talk to himself okay, but not talk to someone else knowing he wouldn’t get any response. That was why he didn’t bother trying to talk to his father after a year or so of them being alone. He knew after a few tries that he would never get any response.
Mrs. Parker’s reasons for not answering were a lot different then his father’s, but the fact she didn’t talk was still the same. He really didn’t figure he had it in him to do what Mr. Harris seemed to have the ability to do, of course he also got the feeling that he loved to hear himself talk.
He heard the screen door close and looked up to see Cole coming down the stairs, still tucking his wallet in his back pocket. Cameron leaned his rake against the house and met Cole in the turnaround of the driveway. “You got your license?” He asked full of jealousy as Cole opened the driver’s side door to the very large, old, but in good shape by the looks of it, Buick.
Cole his foot already in the car turned his head and looked at him, a smile on his face showing he was amused at Cameron’s surprise. “Well yah, I’m seventeen. You don’t have yours?”
Cameron shook his head as he walked over to the passenger side. It was his own fault he didn’t have his license. The school offered a class all he’d need was two hundred bucks, which he often earned in just one night at the restaurant. He also needed his father’s signature, but hadn’t even gotten to that point. His money always went fast on booze and eating out all the time, and it was all blown before he ever thought about taking it into the school so he could learn how to drive.
The passenger door squeaked as he opened it up giving indication of the car’s age. He sat down beside Cole on the car’s front bench seat another thing that was rare in cars now days. “How old is this car?” he asked as he closed the door.
“1988, it was Gram’s. It runs great though, just took me a while to get used to driving a big old boat like this, but a car is a car. I don’t know what I’d do without one.”
“Did you have a car in Virginia?”
“No, I didn’t need one as bad there though; we lived right in the city. Everything was in walking distance.” Cole turned the key in the ignition and the car came to life. Instead of the banging and clanging Cameron expected, the engine was quiet giving him a new respect for the car, and putting him at ease that they’d make it to their destination and back.
“Does Mr. Harris know your gay?” He asked having to know the answer to his earlier question.
After pulling out onto the street Cole looked over at him. “I never told him. So I don’t think so. Why?”
“Just curious.” He shrugged trying to pass it off like no big deal.
“I wouldn’t tell him though, he doesn’t seem very open minded.”
Cameron nodded. “Yeah, you got that right.”
“I take it he doesn’t know about you then?”
“No way, and he can’t know. I’m sure I’ll get kicked out if he does find out. I’ve been friends with his son forever and I’ve heard the man raving about the ‘damn queers’ on more then one occasion.”
Cole glanced over at him before looking back at the road. “How can you want to live with him then?”
“I need a place to stay, and he’s nice enough in all other respects. Besides I really like his wife and Kyle of course.”