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SUMMARY: Two boys growing up together in an idyllic beachfront community share a passion for baseball. One excels at the game and plays it with reckless abandon; the other, less talented, studies the game and those who play it, hoping someday to share what he learns with others. Best friends since childhood, the two have seen how baseball can bring them closer together. Now, having just graduated from high school, it’s about to show them a crueler side of the game. Baseball is about to separate them even though neither wants that to happen. You can find a longer synopsis of the entire story here. Please note that italics are typically used to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.
WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Unless otherwise indicated by context, all of the characters, leagues, stadiums, teams and clubs portrayed or mentioned in this story are fictional, not depictions of real people, leagues, stadiums, teams and clubs. Please note that the story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you do not like or approve of such discussions or it is illegal for you to read such material, consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting that you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.
NOTICE: This story is my property and protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. It may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author. However, you may not use this work for commercial purposes or to profit from it in any way. You may not use any of the characters, leagues, stadiums, teams, clubs, or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon the story in any way. If you share this story with others, you must make clear the terms under which it is licensed to them. The best way to do that is by linking to this web page.
NOTES: Please check these notes every week. If there is something I want to alert you to as I post each chapter, this is where I will I do so. This final chapter of Part I is told from Ethan’s perspective.
SUMMER BOYS, SUMMER DREAMS
Somehow I managed to get through the talk I had to give that day and then Mr. Jennings led me through the milling crowd to a smaller room down the hall where a bunch of reporters had gathered. He had given me a long list of questions they might ask and some suggested answers, and I pretty much stuck to the script he had provided for the next twenty or thirty minutes as they peppered me with one question after another.
“Ethan, tell us where you were when you got the news?”
“I was at home with my Mom, Mr. Jennings, and my best friend, Hunter Allen.”
“Did you have a preference for which team selected you?”
“You don’t really have any choice in the matter and I would have been happy to be drafted by anyone. But Baltimore has been the team I rooted for since I was a boy so I was glad to be drafted by them. Being drafted by the Blues is something special.”
“Are you satisfied with where you were drafted, Ethan, in the fourth round; or do you think you should have been selected higher?”
“I didn’t really have any expectations as to where I would be drafted. I think being drafted at all is an honor. So, no, I didn’t have any expectation of being drafted higher and I’m real happy with where I was drafted.”
“Do you expect to sign with Baltimore or are you still considering going to college?”
“Um, well, going to college has always been one of my dreams and one of my Mom’s dreams as well. So I haven’t made a final decision. But we’re going to look at whatever the Blues offer carefully and give it a fair hearing.”
It went on and on like that for what seemed like forever; and then, when I didn’t think I could stand answering one more question, Mr. Jennings stood up, called an end to the press conference and quickly led me out of the room.
“You did really well, Ethan,” he said. “You handled those reporters like a seasoned professional.”
“Thank you,” I responded. “Some of the questions seemed kind of silly, especially toward the end.”
“If you decide to sign with Baltimore, you’ll be answering a ton of silly questions throughout your playing career,” he replied. “It’ll be part of your job and it’s a big part of it. Reporters can be friends or enemies, Ethan. They have a job to do; and since they can’t make up the news, they depend on people like you to help them do their job. If you do that, help them out, they’ll return the favor and try to help you do your job on the field by giving you good press.”
“It’s a two way street, son; one hand feeds the other. Like I said, you did just fine today. Stay humble, tell the truth, and smile all the time. You’ve got a terrific smile so they’ll love you.”
By then we had reached his car and headed back to the house. It was just me, my Mom, Mr. Jennings and Hunter. We sat around for another hour or so going over the events of the day; and then when we had talked about that as much as anyone could stand, the four of us went out for an early dinner, which Mr. Jennings paid for.
I remember wondering how the guy could afford to do all of this without getting paid and with no assurance I would ever make it to the major leagues or remain his client if I did. But I was grateful to him for everything he had done for me over the last fifteen months.
To me being a sports agent seemed like a hard life, one for which there wasn’t a lot of reward; and yet looking at the guy, he seemed totally caught up in the whole thing and genuinely happy for me. Hunter had been suspicious of him at first, thinking there had to be some catch. But now, after spending a lot of time with him over the course of a year, I sensed Mr. Jennings was reliving his own youth through me somehow.
He would never admit that, I recall thinking; never permit himself to think he was anything other than a businessman making an investment in me. But just from working with him for so long it was obvious it wasn’t an act; he genuinely liked me and I felt the same way about him.
If I ever do make it to the majors, I’m not going to be one of those guys who dump their agents for someone else, I vowed.
I had even taken to kidding Hunter about that lately, telling him his chances of ever becoming my agent were rapidly disappearing as I got to know Mr. Jennings better. But he had taken it in good humor.
“The dude’s too good, Ethan,” he had agreed. “He knows what he’s doing and he’s exactly the one you’re going to need when it comes time to negotiate your big league contract. Me? I suppose I can always sell pencils on the street outside your luxury condo in downtown Baltimore once you make it; tell people how I was your best friend and future agent once, only to be tossed aside for someone else.”
It made me laugh hearing him say that.
“I’ll buy one or two of those pencils,” I volunteered.
But the only reward I got for saying that was having to duck when Hunter tossed a pencil at me.
The days that followed were mostly a blur. Everything seemed pretty much normal for the first week or so. Mr. Jennings had told me Baltimore would make an offer fairly quickly, that they would want to get me signed and playing as soon as possible. So it didn’t come as a surprise when my Mom received a call the following week from him. Baltimore wanted to come by on Wednesday and lay out their proposal for me.
When they made it, it came as a shock. They were offering me a signing bonus of $500,000, more money than I had ever imagined making. It took my breath away although I did my best to remain calm as they spelled out the whole offer. If I inked the contract, they were going to assign me to their Class A affiliate, the Delmarva Heat, located in Shoreham, Maryland, just forty miles southwest.
To me that was huge. I had feared I might end up in some small town hundreds of miles from home and never have an opportunity to see my Mom or Hunter that summer. I realized getting home would still be a problem even from Shoreham. The Heat pretty much played every day so it wasn’t like you had the weekends off or anything. Still, it was on the Delmarva Peninsula, close enough that I wouldn’t feel totally abandoned.
Hell, Hunter and my Mom might even get over to see me play this summer, I recall thinking.
The point is I liked that part of the offer almost as much as the money.
When Baltimore finished spelling out their offer, they didn’t press for an immediate decision. Mr. Jennings had told them we would want at least twenty-four hours to think it over; and after their representative had left our place, I was shocked when he told me their offer wasn’t good enough.
“They’re trying to lowball you, Ethan,” he said. “I don’t know why the teams play this game, but they know perfectly well we aren’t going to accept this. They can do better than that, much better.”
I remember being a little worried about that.
“Um, well, I don’t know, Mr. Jennings,” I said. “They’re offering a lot of money and I like the fact they plan to assign me to their affiliate in Shoreham. That’s a lot closer than I expected to be. I mean is there a chance they might withdraw this offer if you tell them we’re not going to sign?”
“They could withdraw it,” he responded. “I’ve been in this business too long to say there’s no chance of that happening. But I would say the chances of them doing that are between slim and none. You’re one of their top five selections, Ethan. They didn’t pick you as some afterthought in the last round of the draft.”
“Not signing one of their top five draft selections after spending a year getting to this point? I don’t think so, Ethan.”
“The thing you have to understand is it’s a game, just like baseball. If they get you to sign their initial offer, an offer they’ve deliberately set low, they win and you lose. I’m not going to sit here and tell you we can bargain them up to a million dollars. But we can definitely get them to go higher and to sweeten the deal in other ways as well.”
“You’ve trusted me up to this point and I don’t think I’ve steered you wrong. You need to trust me now. I’m going to do right by you, Ethan.”
My Mom and I talked about it that evening; and although the whole thing made me nervous, we ended up agreeing he was right. Mr. Jennings had done an excellent job for us so far. He was the one with experience as a sports agent. Whatever might happen, it seemed like a mistake to start second guessing him at this point.
So we turned down the offer and put the matter in his hands. A week passed, then a second; by now the end of June was coming into sight. And then it happened. Baltimore put a new offer on the table, this one for $650,000 plus a $100,000 college scholarship fund that had been missing from their initial proposal. I would still be going to Shoreham to play for the Delmarva Heat. In fact, once I signed, they would want me to report within twenty-four hours.
“This is the best we’re going to do, Ethan,” Mr. Jennings explained. “So now the decision really does come down to you. You don’t have to accept it. You can decide to go to college and re-enter the draft in a couple of years. I can’t predict the future so I have no idea what kind of offer you might get if you do that. But this is an excellent offer and it’s a fair offer as well. You’ll just have to decide for yourself what you want to do.”
“How long do I have to make up my mind, Mr. Jennings?” I asked.
“Not very long, Ethan,” he responded. “They’ll be annoyed if we drag this out now. I would say think about it overnight and then let me know tomorrow by noon. We already have the paperwork and my lawyers have gone over it. There aren’t any gotchas hidden away in the fine print. If you decide to do it, I can bring it over at the end of the day for you to sign. Then you can report to Shoreham the following morning.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I know my best friend Hunter has been organizing a little farewell get together for me with some of my friends; and of course you’re invited to attend as well although you don’t have to. My Mom isn’t and I know you’re very busy.”
“Can we do Hunter’s party tomorrow night, Mom, if I decide to sign?”
“We can,” she replied. “There may be a few people who won’t be able to come, but we’ve been telling everyone this was going to have to be a last minute, spur of the moment, going away party, and I’m sure most of your friends will be there.”
“Okay, that’s it, I guess,” I said, turning to Mr. Jennings. “We’ll let you know for sure tomorrow by noon. But as you may have guessed, the answer is probably going to be yes. I just need a little time for my Mom and Hunter to pull this party together. They’ve been working on it real hard and I want to be sure I don’t pull the rug out from beneath their feet. I’m looking forward to it.”
Hunter and my Mom were there the next evening when Mr. Jennings came by with the paperwork. They watched while I signed. When Mr. Jennings handed me the pen, I remember thinking back to a story one of my history teachers had told about Abraham Lincoln. When it came time to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln took a deep breath and steadied his hand because he didn’t want anyone to think he had hesitated when he signed it.
I wasn’t signing anything near as important. But like Mr. Lincoln, I took a deep breath before signing.
Later on I asked Hunter and my Mom whether my hand had shaken when I was signing; and they said no, that my hand had been steady and I was proud of that because just about all of the rest of me was shaking right about then; my knees, my heart, everything.
But now it was over and done and there was no going back. I had packed my bag earlier that day, sorted through my baseball gear deciding what to take and what to leave behind, and now there was nothing left to do except to head off to the party Hunter and some of the rest of my friends were putting on for me.
I had resisted the idea when he first raised it. To me it seemed like there had been too many celebrations these last few weeks and the thought of still another one was hard to swallow. I wasn’t really in a celebrating mood.
But when I told Hunter that, I could see the disappointment on his face. For whatever reason, this was something he wanted to do real badly; and so I had relented and told him we could. I had helped him put together the list of those to invite. Then, with some help from my Mom, Hunter had pulled the whole thing together not even knowing the exact night it would be held.
Now we were about to head off to the place he had chosen, but before we did my Mom pulled him aside. She wasn’t going with us. She knew she would be kind of a fifth wheel at a party like this. But, even now, she was still my Mom.
“Hunter, this was a terrific idea and I was glad to help you put it together. But tonight, more than ever, I need you to be Ethan’s best friend. You need to protect him tonight. If you see anyone at that party drinking, if you see anyone passing around or using illegal drugs, you need to get him out of that place and back here immediately. The last thing in the world we need on this of all days is for Ethan to be arrested and charged with underage drinking or whatever.”
“I know the people you’ve invited are very nice and very responsible young people. But sometimes word of events like this leak out and people who weren’t invited show up; and since I don’t know who that might include, I need you to be Ethan’s best friend and make sure nothing bad happens to him.”
“Absolutely, Mrs. Williams,” he responded. “You can count on me. What kind of best friend would I be if I let something like that happen? I know the people we invited. They’re not into that kind of stuff. Maybe someone will crash the party, but I’ll definitely be on guard. You can trust me, Mrs. Williams. I won’t let anything bad happen to Ethan; never have, never will.”
Later, when everyone had arrived, Hunter stood up and said a few words to open the party.
“So when I was thinking about this party the one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want a bunch of people standing up and giving stupid speeches.”
He paused momentarily.
“That was going to be my job this evening.”
A ripple of laughter spread across the room.
“We’re here tonight to have some fun so I’ll keep this brief. When I first had the idea for this party, I thought maybe we should roast Ethan because I know a few secrets about him I’m sure he wouldn’t like to come out tonight.”
“Just like I know a few about you, Hunter,” I interjected.
“Right;” he said, grinning, “and that’s why I decided against the roast idea.”
That brought forth still more laughter.
“And I didn’t really want this to be a farewell party because we’re not here to say farewell to you, Ethan, at least I’m not.”
“What this party is mostly about is for us to let you know we have your back. You’re our friend; and whatever happens in Shoreham or wherever you end up down the road, we’re here for you, Ethan. We always have been. We always will be. And, like I said, no matter what happens, you’ll always have friends here in Rehoboth Beach you can count on.”
“Now in talking about this whole thing we decided not to get you a gift or anything, mostly because, unlike you, we’re poor so any gift we bought would be pretty insignificant given that signing bonus you got.”
That brought still more laughter.
“But in spite of that decision, I, as your best friend, did get a gift for you, Ethan. Actually it’s not for you but I’ll get to that soon enough. The point is, I wanted to get something and I thought about it long and hard and finally it came to me.”
“Not many of you know this, but Ethan still has a teddy bear in his room even though he’s seventeen, soon to be eighteen, and practically an adult now; and even those of us who know he has a teddy bear don’t know exactly where it came from. It’s one of those little mysteries about Ethan that have never been cleared up exactly. But we do know the bear’s name, at least I do.”
“Oh, Jesus, you’re not really going to do this, are you, Hunter?” I finally interjected, pleading. “Please don’t do this.”
“Shut up, Ethan,” he responded, and by now everyone was laughing because they knew something was up.
“Now, the thing is, Ethan’s Mom thinks the name of the bear is Mr. Burris even though she doesn’t have a clue why Ethan named the bear that. But I do. You see, that bear really isn’t named Mr. Burris. That’s just a name Ethan made up for his Mom because he didn’t want her to know its real name.”
“The real name of Ethan’s teddy bear is Mr. Bare Ass. It’s one of those bears you can win over at Funland that usually come wearing a little top and a little pair of shorts. This one has the top, but no shorts, and that’s why Ethan decided to name it Mr. Bare Ass, aka Mr. Burris to Ethan’s Mom.”
By then everyone in the room was laughing hysterically, partly because of the story itself but also because Hunter was making all these theatrical gestures in telling it.
“So this afternoon, out of time and still stumped about what to get Ethan and figuring he might bring that bear with him to Shoreham because he loves it so much, I stopped in at Funland and spotted one of those bears, which I won fair and square I want you to know.”
“I didn’t steal it or buy it. I won it the old fashion way by financing some little kid who kept playing until he won enough tickets for me to get the bear. That kid was good at those arcades, damn good, and it didn’t take him very long.”
“I gave the bear to the kid as his reward with one small exception. I am now the proud possessor of a pair of little shorts for Ethan’s bear,” he added, holding the shorts up for everyone to see.
By then even I was laughing. Hunter had obviously thought through all of this carefully and was now in the final stage of totally humiliating me in front of our friends.
“Now all of you are sworn to secrecy about this, of course. You can never tell Ethan’s Mom the real name of the bear because it would be too shocking for her to know her precious little boy named his teddy bear Mr. Bare Ass. But when Ethan makes it to the major leagues and reporters start nosing around back here trying to find out something interesting about him, you’ll have this little story to fall back on; and every one of you can now use it to blackmail Ethan into getting you free tickets to ball games or whatever else you want to extract from him.”
As he walked over and handed me the pair of shorts, everyone gave Hunter a big round of applause. The whole thing was a little embarrassing, but I remember thinking Hunter had found the perfect way to win the last battle between us and I was impressed, genuinely impressed.
“I’m touched, Hunter,” I said, accepting the shorts from him; “and on behalf of Mr. Bare Ass, I’ll just say a profound thank you for finally putting an end to this tragic situation.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, winking at me and grinning.
“And so with that said we can officially let the good times roll because that’s what this is all about, letting loose and having a little fun.”
And that’s what we did for the next two hours. We ate a lot of food, threw some of it at one another, and spent a lot of time just talking to each other like the friends we were. It was a fun celebration, I guess, but not as much fun as I thought it would be. To me there was a cloud hanging over the room that evening, a cloud that was about to engulf and separate us from one another; and even though I did my best to hide it, I felt sad.
In the end, the whole thing broke up earlier than Hunter had planned and he was fine with that. I guess everyone was partied out from everything that had happened the last few weeks. Hunter understood that and didn’t try to keep the thing going artificially.
As we headed back toward my house, Hunter seemed quieter than usual. I didn’t feel like I had a lot to say either, but finally spoke up.
“Come on,” I said. “Let’s go over to the boardwalk and take a walk one last time.”
So that’s what we did. We walked to the boardwalk and then turned south and continued walking until we reached my favorite spot. It was still pretty early in the season and the evening was cool and not many tourists were out and about. If anything, the place felt abandoned rather than alive; we had it pretty much to ourselves.
Scrambling up on to the fence railing, the two of us just sat there staring out at the ocean as we had done a million times before.
We sat there a long time without saying very much. Occasionally one of us would mention how the waves seemed to be kicking up or how people seemed to be littering the beach more than when we had been younger. And then, suddenly, he brought it up.
“You know, in all the years I’ve known you and in spite of being your best friend, you’ve never told me exactly why this is your favorite place on the boardwalk, Ethan,” he finally said. “Every time I’ve ever asked, you just put me off. If I ask tonight, will you do that again?”
“Probably,” I said. “I’ll tell you some time though, Hunter. I promise.”
“When, Ethan?” he asked. “I mean, you’re leaving tomorrow to start playing ball. I may never see you again. If you don’t tell me tonight, when will you tell me?’
It was hard hearing him say that and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. For a moment I thought about finally telling him the truth.
I wanted to.
I wanted to tell him I loved him.
But it just didn’t seem right to lay something huge like that on him at this late stage of the game.
“Um, well, I’ll tell you when I, um . . . I’ll tell you when I make it to the major leagues; how about that, Hunter?”
“Oh shit, don’t toy with me,” he responded. “You’re the one that keeps saying you may never make it to the majors; and even though I know you’re wrong about that, I also know it’ll be a couple of years before you do. I can’t wait that long, Ethan. I want to know now. I want to know everything. I want to share everything we’ve never told one another over the years.”
He was trying to bridge some chasm that seemed to be opening between us, but it was too late.
Both of us knew that.
“Um, well, I won’t tell you the whole story, Hunter, but I’ll tell you this. A long time ago, back when we were fourteen, I met someone here by accident; and just meeting that person helped me to understand myself better, to know who I really am.”
“I had been wondering about that for a long time, but meeting that person made everything clear to me. That’s the first thing that makes this place so important; and the second thing followed quickly after that. The second thing was realizing not just who I was but what I wanted; and I’ve wanted that for a very long time now.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever get what I want. But if I make it to the major leagues, I’ll tell you what I want and then you’ll understand why this place is so important to me, Hunter. And I guess by telling you I’ll find out if I’m ever going to get what I want as well. But I think I already know the answer to that too.”
“That’s crazy talk, Ethan,” he replied, quickly. “I don’t understand what you’re saying. Tell me now. If you tell me now, you’ll find out now. Why wait until you get to the major leagues?”
I looked out to the sea again and for a moment I thought I wouldn’t be able to answer his question. But finally, looking over at Hunter, I smiled at him.
“Because if I make it to the major leagues, I’ll know anything is possible in life; and knowing that will give me the courage to risk everything.”
He just shook his head. He didn’t understand what I was saying.
Like I often did when I wanted to spill my guts, I had escaped by turning cryptic and confusing. I mean, it was our last night together. I had been keeping a secret from him all these years; if we were going to be separated now, I didn’t want to risk having him walk away thinking being my very best friend all these years had been a mistake, a waste of his time.
He didn’t understand what I was saying; but he didn’t press me to say more either.
“Okay,” he sighed. “I don’t like it, but I’ll give you the space you need. Tell me on your own schedule, Ethan, whenever you’re ready to tell me.”
“Do you want to head back to your house now?”
“Um, thanks for the offer, but I’m thinking maybe I’ll stay here a little while longer, Hunter; just by myself.”
We slipped down from the railing and just stood there looking at one another momentarily. I remember being surprised when he hugged me. He had never been demonstrative like that before. I remember liking the feel of his arms around me and then becoming embarrassed and ashamed and having to break off the hug when it began to produce the reaction I should have known it would have.
Why did I always have that reaction whenever Hunter was around?
It wasn’t like he was trying to make me have that kind of reaction. Hunter was straight, I knew that; totally straight. He was the best friend anyone could ask for and this was how I responded to his friendship?
After that he had said he would miss me and I had turned it into some kind of lame joke. He had responded in kind and, not wanting to part, we had gone back and forth with the insults a little while longer; and then I had told him how much I appreciated having him as my best friend and how much I would miss him as well.
He had looked at me strangely for one moment, as if he wanted to say something. But then the moment had passed.
“Okay, this is it, I guess;” he finally said, “at least for now.”
We shook hands and he abruptly turned and walked away quickly.
I stood there and watched as he walked away; and when he had gotten far enough away so he wouldn’t hear, I let the tears and the sobs that had been building within me break loose.
“God damn it, Ethan, you did it again. You fucking asshole; you let the dude walk away, just like you always do.”
Hunter had disappeared into the darkness by now.
He was gone.
And knowing he was gone brought everything back one more time.
What I mostly recall was how beautiful the two of them were, how perfect they seemed together, how happy they looked as they walked away from me, south toward Poodle Beach.
Somehow I knew they were gay the moment I saw them, but it wasn’t just the direction they were headed that made me think it. There was something more that told me the three of us were alike, just like something more told me they were in love with one another.
I had been waiting all of my life to make love with someone who was like me and I knew they were like me and I had decided between them easily enough.
The older one was good looking and ripped. To me he seemed to be the perfect best friend for anyone, mature in the ways of the world, self-confident, someone who would fiercely protect his younger companion. But it was the younger one I wanted to hold me, to kiss me, to make love to me.
He was perfect, the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life, his body totally smooth. He was incredibly hot and sexy; just looking at him had made me go hard and I remember being ashamed and embarrassed about that. And yet somehow I knew he wouldn’t make fun of me for reacting like that, that he knew the reaction he had produced because it had happened before with others. It was something that no longer startled him.
He was used to boys and men reacting this way and wouldn’t make fun of me.
I knew it.
I had been wondering for a long time whether I was gay or just going through some kind of phase; and yet the moment I had seen them approaching me that day I had realized things were never going to change, that I was like them and wanted to be like them, wanted to be with them; that I wanted the younger of them to make love to me.
I had followed them toward Poodle Beach, tried to work up the courage to approach them, to ask them to let me join them. But my courage had failed me that day and they had disappeared into the crowd and I had turned around and headed back north toward the boardwalk and waited.
I waited hours just for the chance to see them again.
I waited and waited; and with each passing hour the despair I was feeling grew stronger.
Would anything ever change?
Would I ever have the courage to admit what I was, to share it with my mother and Hunter, the two people I cared about more than anyone else?
Was I destined to be alone forever?
At some point I looked out toward the ocean. Crashing against the sand as they always did, the waves seemed enticing somehow. And then, without knowing why, I was walking toward the waves, inviting them to take me out to the sea with them, to end the misery I was experiencing at that moment, the misery that had been my constant companion in life that summer.
But the waves were having none of it. They crashed over me, pushing me back in the direction from which I had come, telling me if I didn’t have the courage to talk to those boys how could I ever have the courage to do something like that?
I remember being embarrassed by the whole thing. I was being melodramatic. There was no way I could ever do something like that.
So I had walked back to the boardwalk and stood there staring at the waves, still hoping against hope for one more glimpse of them. And then, hours later, the two of them had come back from Poodle Beach. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts by then I hadn’t even noticed them approaching.
It was only when the younger boy, the one who was so incredibly hot and sexy, the one I wanted to make love to so much, tossed me his teddy bear that I even realized they were there; and then after a few shared words I can’t even recall because I was stunned just looking at him, they were walking away from me once again. I watched them begin to disappear in the distance just like they had before and just like before I didn’t want them to disappear.
Later, in the dream I had concocted to keep them alive inside me, I recall chasing after them, running as fast as I could and eventually catching up with them. I pleaded with the younger boy to take me back to his hotel and make love to me, told him how hard I had been struggling and how much I needed someone to initiate me in the mysteries of love.
In the dream, he had resisted. He had told me I was too young. He had told me he had a boyfriend and it would be wrong to abandon him. All of the despair I had been feeling for years came crashing down on me like some gigantic tsunami the moment he said it. I had never felt so totally hopeless, so totally forlorn in my life.
And then his friend had said it would be fine if the two of us went back to the hotel together; that there were times in life, circumstances in life, when things just seemed right and that this was one of those times. I remember loving him so much for understanding just how desperate my need was.
So in the dream the younger one and I had gone back to their room at the hotel. We had stood there silently for a moment, just staring at one another. And then he had kissed me gently and begun my initiation into the rites of love.
At some point I realized both of us were naked and my body was tingling with sensations I had never experienced before, sensations that were just so incredibly pleasurable. And then we were coupled together just like I had seen in the pictures I looked at so furtively and I was moaning and he was telling me how beautiful I was, how perfect I was, how much he enjoyed making love to me.
And then when I thought things could never get better he was coming inside me, fulfilling me in a way I had been dreaming about forever, and I knew this was who I was, this was what I had been longing for all my life, and that I could be happy being gay if this was what it was like.
In the dream he had fulfilled me and I was happy at last.
He had been everything I was longing for and more.
And then I opened my eyes and I was back home in my bed clinging to the teddy bear he had tossed me, as if to life, and realized once again only some of it was real. The important thing, the thing that would have made all the difference, was just a dream, something I wished had happened but something that never had happened at all.
Four years ago I had let them walk away and tried to comfort myself with a dream, just like I had let Hunter walk away this evening and would only be with him in dreams from now on.
I remember sighing.
It was always the same in my dreams.
Things never changed.
Everything was always the same in my dreams, everything was always perfect.
Playing professional baseball had never been one of my dreams.
It never would be.
Baseball was just a game.
“Good night, Mr. Bare Ass,” I whispered. “I love you and the boy who gave you to me and my Mom.”
“But I love Hunter most of all, just in a different way, a special way, a beautiful way.”
[End of Part I]