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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.
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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. Sick, home alone (mostly) and in need of much tender nursing; and yet laboring away selflessly to bring you the latest chapter! Send chicken noodle soup, comments, and other much needed nourishment quickly.
SUMMER BOYS, SUMMER DREAMS
I don’t know whether it was the excitement of finally moving into a place of my own or the anticipation of going home to Rehoboth Beach, but I had another huge game that afternoon. By now I had my timing back and had overcome some of the initial awe that came from knowing I was playing professional ball. I had begun to realize I could play at this level and that added confidence made a big difference.
I went five for five at the plate that day, including a couple of doubles and my first home run at Fisher stadium. The home run was special because it was my first and tied the game early on, but it was the second double that actually drove in the winning run. In the field, I was comfortable with D.W. and could tell he felt the same way about me. Although he was struggling at the plate, he was the best third baseman I had ever played with and just being out there in the field with him was fun.
“Good game” was all Grady said to me after we finished up around 4 p.m. It was a little disappointing. I had been hoping for something more after a game like that, but I felt better when Mark and the rest of my friends on the team made it a point to tell me how well I had played that day.
“You were running on all eight cylinders, which is four more than my pathetic excuse of a car has,” D.W. said.
The whole thing was a terrific appetizer, but now the main course for the day was about to be served. While Grady drove Brady home to pack, D.W. and I headed back to his place. I already knew he liked his host family and their place was very nice. He tossed a few things into his travel bag, then stripped off his jeans and slipped into a pair of shorts right there in front of me. I tried my best not to stare.
I had already told D.W. we wouldn’t need to go back to Mark’s place to get anything. The truth is I had plenty of things still at home and wouldn’t need to bring anything along with me. In fact, I was looking forward to bringing some things back to Shoreham from home. It would save my Mom a trip and I would have my stuff sooner rather than later.
Our next stop was at Coach’s place. Brady was already waiting outside and Grady was there with him when we finally pulled up. Brady tossed his bag into the back seat and climbed in while Grady leaned down and stared at D.W. and me through the open window.
“I appreciate you boys inviting Brady along on your trip to the beach. We haven’t been there in a long while and I hope the three of you have a good time. I need to mention Brady takes medication twice a day to help keep him calmed down,” he continued, handing the bottle through the window to me. “I would be grateful if you made sure he took it, once before going to bed and then again in the morning.”
“Sure thing, Coach,” I said while D.W. nodded his head in agreement.
“And I guess the other thing I should mention is Brady needs to get to bed early or he’s grumpy the next day.”
“Am not,” Brady interjected from the back seat.
“You are too,” Grady replied. “In any event, I’ve told Brady he has to do what you boys tell him to do. Take good care of him for the Missus and me and we’ll see you tomorrow night.”
“He’s in good hands, Coach,” D.W. replied.
And with that the three of us were off on our little adventure.
We made good time on the drive down to the shore that afternoon and got to Rehoboth Beach about 5:30 p.m. My mother wasn’t home from work yet, but we had already discussed several things over the phone. Leading D.W. and Brady up the stairs, I showed them around the top floor. Eventually we ended up in my room.
“Okay, listen up,” I said. “As you can see, both of you can have your own bedroom in this house so you’ll need to decide which one you want. They’re both pretty nice; if you can’t agree, we’ll do it the old-fashioned way. We’ll flip a coin.”
Brady jumped up on to my bed and rolled around on it.
“This is a big bed, Ethan,” he volunteered. “D.W. and I don’t need our own bedrooms. There’s plenty of room for all three of us in this bed. I think we should share it. It would be like camping out, which I’ve never done, and that would be fun. What do you guys think?”
I remember shaking my head when he said it.
“You forget I’ve been staying at your place, Brady,” I responded. “I know exactly how much you toss and turn every night. We have enough beds for everyone. If this is the one you want, I can sleep in one of the other rooms.”
“Oh, jeez, you shouldn’t have to sleep in some other room in your own house, Ethan,” D.W. said. “I mean, does he really toss and turn that much? My little brother and I used to share a bed like this a long time ago. It looks like there’s room enough for at least two.”
“He does,” I replied. “On the other hand, he usually falls asleep pretty quickly so I suppose one of us could climb in there with him after he’s fallen asleep. Three of us would make for a tight fit though.”
“Think about it,” I added, looking over at D.W.
“Now as for dinner, it was really too late to ask my Mom to pull together anything good for us this evening. So we’re going to order in if everyone is fine with that. Could be pizza or Chinese or whatever; it’s your choice.”
“I like pizza,” Brady volunteered.
“That’s fine with me too,” D.W. agreed.
“And I took the liberty of inviting Hunter over to join us,” my mother said entering the room behind me.
I hadn’t even heard the door opening down below.
“Welcome home, Ethan,” she added, hugging me tightly.
I remember being a little embarrassed being hugged like that in front of the guys and she must have sensed that because she quickly let go.
“Well, be like that,” she said.
“You may be some big baseball player to these boys,” she added, nodding at D.W. and Brady, “but you’re still my little boy to me.”
And with that she planted a kiss on my cheek.
“Ooh, look at that,” Brady shouted. “Ethan’s Mom is kissing him.”
It wasn’t so much what he said, but the way he said it. Both D.W. and I started to laugh.
“Mom, this is D.W. Pierson,” I said, making the introductions. “He plays third base for the Heat and is one of my very best friends on the team.”
“And this is Brady Foster,” I added, trying to mess up his hair; unsuccessfully it turned out as he was quick enough to elude my hand.
“You met Brady the day we arrived at the stadium and basically, if you haven’t figured it out already, Brady runs the entire stadium operation and is another one of my very best friends.”
Brady beamed at that introduction and I was glad it made him happy.
“Nice to meet you boys,” my Mom said. “I’ll leave you alone for now and start getting the table set. Hunter is coming over around 6:30 p.m. after he gets off from work. I swear I never see that boy at all these days anymore. He seems to be working all the time. In any event, I’ll call the pizza shop around 6:10 p.m. Should I order a large and a medium or two large?”
“With the way Brady eats, definitely two large,” I replied. “What do you guys like? Pepperoni? Onions? Mushrooms?”
“All of those sound good,” Brady volunteered.
“Those are fine with me too,” D.W. added.
Hunter and the pizza seemed to arrive at about the same moment that evening. I handed the delivery dude a couple of twenties and gave the pizzas to Brady to bring into the house. Then I hugged Hunter.
“Man, it’s great to see you, buddy. I’ve missed you.”
“Likewise, dude,” Hunter replied.
I introduced him to D.W. and Brady and then the four of us joined my Mom at the dining room table. I guess we must have been hungry because it didn’t take very long for us to devour the pizzas.
“What do you have planned for the evening?” my Mother finally said, looking over at me.
“I thought we would head down to the boardwalk, maybe spend some time at Funland,” I replied. “Then, depending on how long we’re there, we’ll probably just wander around; you know, visit some of the shops and maybe get something more to eat later on.”
“Or we could take in a movie,” I added, looking over at the guys. “It’s whatever you guys want to do.”
“Going down to the boardwalk sounds cool,” D.W. said. “I mean, I can take in a movie anywhere, but it’s not every day I find myself in a beachfront community with a real boardwalk.”
“Boardwalk, boardwalk,” Brady started chanting, causing Hunter, D.W. and myself to start laughing.
“Okay, the boardwalk it is, I guess.”
As we were leaving the house, my mother pulled me aside.
“I know you want to have fun with your friends and catch up with Hunter,” she said. “But I hope you won’t stay out too late. I want to catch up with my baby boy as well,” she added, giving me a peck on the cheek.
“We won’t be late, Mom,” I said. “I promise. You know this place. Everything starts shutting down after 10 p.m. so we should be home soon after that; and I promise I’ll spend as long as you want catching up when I get back.”
“Good,” she said, placing her hands on my shoulders and turning me around. “Now go show your friends a good time.”
We wandered down to the boardwalk and eventually got to Funland. As kids, Hunter and I had spent a lot of time hanging around the place; and because he was still a kid in so many ways, I was hoping Brady would like it as well.
At first he didn’t seem terribly interested, as if trying to prove he was an adult and beyond someplace for kids like Funland. But it didn’t take long before he began to loosen up; and once we finally got to the bumper cars, he became completely enamored of the place. There was something about being in one of those cars that turned him into a demon and neither D.W. nor I stood a chance as he repeatedly crashed his car into the two of us.
While D.W. kept Brady entertained with several more turns on the bumper cars, Hunter and I stepped outside and gazed at the ocean.
“So what’s it like?” he finally asked. “I mean, playing minor league ball.”
“It’s hard to say exactly,” I responded. “I’m still learning and trying to decide what I think. At first, when the coach had me riding the bench and I didn’t know anyone, I hated it. But now that I’m starting to play more and have gotten to know some of the guys, I guess it’s not too bad.”
“I mean, it isn’t exactly a job and it isn’t exactly pure fun like it was when we played Little League together. It’s somewhere in between I guess. But the main thing is I’ve missed you a lot, Hunter. I think about you every day.”
“Tell me about it,” he replied. “Ever since you left, it seems like all I ever do is work. I mean, I’m logging a lot of overtime at the job and that’s great in terms of being able to put some money aside. That’ll come in handy this fall when I start college, but it makes for a boring life without you around to keep me sane.”
“You seem to have made some new friends though,” he added. “You’re probably lying through your teeth. Unlike me, I bet you’re having lots of fun.”
“It can be a real grind at times, Hunter,” I said. “It’s like everything else in life. You fall into routines. Get up in the morning. Go to the stadium. Work out on the weights, then have lunch. Spend some time out on the field getting loose. Come in and take a nap or whatever. Have something to eat before the game. Play the game. Go home and go to sleep. Then get up and do it all over again.”
“It gets boring after a while, especially when your best friend isn’t around to break the tedium.”
“Am I still your best friend, Ethan?” he asked.
“Why would you even ask something like that?” I replied. “Of course you are; you always have been. You always will be. You know that as much as I do.”
By that time D.W. and Brady had finished up with the bumper cars and joined us so that put a crimp in the conversation. The four of us tried a few more of the rides and played some of the arcade games. Then, bored, we headed south down the boardwalk.
When we reached the end, the sun was beginning to set, but a large crowd down at Poodle Beach was still visible in the distance.
“Looks like there’s a big crowd tonight at Poodle Beach,” Hunter volunteered.
“What’s Poodle Beach?” D.W. asked, curious.
For a moment neither Hunter nor I said anything.
“Um, well, it’s nothing really,” I said, glancing over at Brady, then back at D.W. “It’s just a place where, um, guys hang out; you know?”
“I see,” D.W. said, and I was pretty certain he had caught my drift. Fortunately, the whole conversation seemed to have passed Brady by.
We turned around and headed back in the direction from which we had come. I took the guys into a couple of the shops and turned them loose to pick up souvenirs or whatever. D.W. mentioned he needed to get a swimsuit, but we decided to wait until the next day. Later still I showed them around town. Eventually we ended up at Candy Kitchen.
The moment we entered the place, Brady’s eyes exploded. With all the candy the place stocked, I thought we would have trouble getting him out of the store. But somehow we managed to keep his instincts in check and soon enough we were headed back to my house. As we approached it, Hunter seemed a little anxious to be on his way.
“I can walk you back to your house,” I said.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” he replied. “I have to be up early so it’s not like we would have any real time to talk; besides, it wouldn’t be fair to leave your friends alone like that.”
As much as it bothered me, I knew better than to argue with him so we said our good-byes for the evening and Hunter headed back to his house.
Back at mine, I marched Brady upstairs, watched while he brushed his teeth, and then made sure he took his medicine.
“So where do you want to sleep?” I asked.
“I want to sleep in your bed,” he replied.
“Okay, that’s fine,” I said. “I’ll sleep in one of the other bedrooms.”
“No, we’re on a campout and you and D.W. need to sleep with me. Please?”
I wasn’t sure what to say so I tried to avoid answering.
“I’ll think about that and see what D.W. thinks,” I said. “Sweet dreams, Brady.”
Then I went down to the living room and checked in on D.W.
“Brady still wants the two of us to sleep with him in my bed,” I said, laughing. “But he’s probably already asleep so feel free to take either of the other bedrooms I showed you. If he isn’t and insists on you sleeping with him, that bed of mine is big enough for two. You could probably sleep with Brady until he settles down and falls asleep and then make the switch if you want. I need to spend some time catching up with my Mom.”
“I’ll see where he’s at when I go up,” D.W. replied. “I mean, I had a lot of fun tonight down at the boardwalk. I’m really glad we did this, Ethan. I’ve slept in a lot of different beds over the years and even with my little brother when I was younger so any of those beds will be fine. Don’t worry about it; between the game and what we did tonight, I’m tired. I’ll be asleep in a flash no matter where I rest my head. In fact, I think I’ll go to bed now.”
“Okay,” I said. “See you tomorrow then. I’m going out to the kitchen to talk with my Mom. You won’t hear us except maybe when we go upstairs to bed if you’re still awake by then.”
With that, I turned, walked out to the kitchen, and settled myself down across the little table from my mother.
“So what’s it like, Ethan?” she asked, and I remember laughing.
“Hunter asked the exact same thing,” I responded. “So I guess I’ll give you the same answer.”
We talked for a long time after that and eventually I guess we just talked ourselves out.
“It’s been hard not having you here,” she said at one point, sighing. “I need someone here to take care of.”
“Tell me about it,” I said, picking up on one of Hunter’s favorite lines.
There wasn’t very much left to say so I kissed Mom on the cheek and the two of us walked up the stairs. Looking in on Brady, I could see he and D.W. were sharing my bed so I headed over to the second bedroom. It wasn’t until I climbed into that unfamiliar bed and began thinking about things that I fully realized how much I had missed my Mom and Hunter.
It was just too easy to get caught up in stuff down in Shoreham and end up forgetting about the things that really mattered in life.
You need to do a better job staying in touch, Ethan.
But I also knew that was easier said than done.
I think I must have fallen asleep pretty quickly, but sometime in the middle of the night I felt someone nudging me. It was dark, but when I opened my eyes I could tell immediately it was Brady. He was trying to shake me awake.
“I’m scared, Ethan,” he said. “I’ve never been away from home before. D.W. was there for a while, but he said he needed to go to the bathroom and never came back. I need you to come sleep with me.”
I wasn’t sure what to do at that point, but it was apparent Brady needed some comforting. I pulled myself out of bed and walked back to my bedroom with him. Like I had told D.W., there was plenty of room for two in that bed so I rolled over to the edge like I was used to doing.
“You need to hold me, Ethan,” Brady said.
That made me a little nervous. I wondered whether I could do that without becoming aroused. I mean, yeah, sure, Brady was still a kid in some ways, but he was a good looking boy as well. If things had been different, I would have been attracted to him. But knowing he was different I wanted to treat him like the little brother I never had.
“Oh, look here,” I said, scrambling out of bed and walking over to the window sill.
“I have a friend here named Mr. Bare Ass. He looks kind of sad tonight, Brady. Do you think you could hug him and make him happy again?”
“Sure,” he responded. “I can do that. But you still need to hold me tight. I’m a little sad too being away from my Mom and Dad.”
I could see he needed to be held so I handed him Mr. Bare Ass, then climbed back into bed. Rolling over, I wrapped my arms around him and tried to pretend he was a girl I had somehow been forced to sleep with.
“That’s good,” Brady said, snuggling tightly against me; and then he sighed and closed his eyes and he was back asleep in a matter of moments. The thing I had worried about hadn’t happened and that made me happy because I wanted to provide the comfort Brady needed as long as it didn’t go beyond that.
I was the first of the three of us up in the morning. I guess I was used to the routines of our home and I had heard my mother get up at some point as she got ready to head off to work. I climbed out of bed and went downstairs and waited for her in the kitchen.
“Good morning, Ethan,” she said, when she finally joined me. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“I wanted to get up and see you off, Mom. It reminds me of a lot of good times.”
“I was up a little earlier this morning,” she said, “and started the chicken cacciatore. The sauce and the chicken should be ready around 6:00 p.m. It’s up to you, but there’s enough for Hunter as well.”
“I’ll be sure to invite him,” I responded.
D.W. and Brady slept in late that morning. D.W. didn’t get until 10:30 p.m. Brady was still asleep at 11 o’clock when we finally decided we needed to get him up if we were ever going to accomplish anything that day.
I had put a few things out for breakfast for the two of them to nibble on, including Brady’s medicine; and then, when we were finished, we headed back down to the boardwalk again.
“Like I mentioned, I need to buy a swimsuit,” D.W. said, “at least if I’m going to go swimming today.”
“No problem,” I replied. “I know just the place. It has the biggest and best selection and the prices are decent.”
When we got to the shop D.W. looked around, grabbed a couple of suits, and retreated to the dressing room. The first he tried on were baggies. I didn’t like them at all.
“Try something on that will get some attention,” I chided, tossing him a suit I had found that I thought would look good on him.
D.W. retreated back to the dressing room and eventually emerged wearing the suit I had tossed him. It was definitely skimpier, no doubt about it; and liking what I saw, I gave him a little wolf whistle. D.W. turned red and stared into the mirror.
“Now that’s perfect,” I said. “You look totally hot in that.”
“Oh, jeez, I don’t think I can wear something like this, Ethan,” D.W. replied. “I’m embarrassed just looking in the mirror.”
“I don’t want to hear it,” I said. “That suit is perfect. The girls will love you. Besides, what happens in Rehoboth Beach stays in Rehoboth Beach,” I added, grinning at him.
I thought we were finished, but then Brady suddenly piped up.
“I want to get a new swimsuit too,” he said. “This one I’m wearing is old and boring. My Dad gave me some money to buy a new suit. You guys need to help me find one.”
“Do you know your waist size?” I asked.
“No,” he replied.
I found a salesman and he measured Brady.
“His waist is 26 inches,” the guy said. “That’s a boy size and the suits for boys are over there,” he added, pointing.
We walked over to where he had pointed. A lot of the suits featured cartoon characters like Batman, Sponge Bob and others.
“How about this one,” I said, holding up a suit that featured a large S covering the crotch and a small picture of Superman along one hip.
“These suits are for kids,” Brady said. “I want something that makes me look hot like you and D.W. do in those suits you’re wearing.”
Both D.W. and I burst out laughing at that.
“Um, well, and why is that?” I teased. “If we find you a suit like that, are you going to be trying to kiss all the girls down at the beach? Are we going to have to watch you like a hawk all day to make sure you don’t run off with one of those girls?”
“No,” Brady replied, placing his hands on his hips and staring at me as if I was totally clueless.
“I’ve never been kissed by anyone except my Mom and Dad; besides, I already told you I like boys, not girls, and I want the boys on the beach to like me too.”
I remember being surprised; if it had been anyone but Brady, it would have made me wonder. But since it was Brady all it did was leave me confused.
D.W. was standing there behind Brady and I looked over at him to see what he thought. But he just shrugged his shoulders as if he didn’t know what to do either.
Not having a better idea, the three of us headed back across the store to where they kept the men’s swimsuits and started looking for ones that were size small or extra small.
“How about this one,” D.W. said.
I liked his taste, but it seemed really small and that made me wonder.
“Um, well, do you think Coach and his wife would approve of that tiny thing?” I asked.
“I’m old enough to decide what swimsuit to buy, Ethan,” Brady interjected; and with that he snatched the suit from D.W. and walked into the dressing room.
When he reemerged several minutes later, I remember gulping.
“Um, well, that’s pretty damn hot,” I said, glancing over at D.W., who seemed to be blushing; “maybe a little too hot to be honest.”
I mean, the thing showed off Brady’s junk perfectly and I remember being surprised that Brady seemed to be pretty well endowed in the junk department. It was the first time I had seen him half naked like that and he had a pretty nice body even if he was on the small size in most respects.
“Well, if it makes D.W. blush, then I guess it’s perfect,” Brady replied. “I like it when he does that. He’s cute. And there’s nothing you guys can do about it either because I have the money to pay for it.”
With that settled the three of us headed down to the beach. I found a good spot and had Brady and D.W. stake out our claim while I headed over to rent an umbrella and some beach chairs.
We spent the rest of that afternoon just lounging around like beach bums. While D.W. and I snoozed, Brady played in the sand. Later he decided he wanted to go for a swim so I applied a ton of sunscreen and followed him down to where the surf was pounding the sand. There was no way in hell I was going to tell Grady I had let his son drown so I kept a close eye on him most of the afternoon.
Later, after he woke up, D.W. joined me; once he did, Brady took pleasure in making sure both of us got soaking wet, even trying from time to time to tug D.W.’s swimming suit off in the surf. Unsuccessful, he tried mine at one point and almost succeeded. Fortunately, D.W. came to my rescue; then the two of us lifted Brady up and tossed him around in the water.
By now he was laughing hysterically and begging for more. One thing led to another and eventually the three of us were wrestling in the water, trying to avoid being pulled under by arms that appeared out of nowhere; amidst the shifting alliances that generated, D.W. and Brady finally succeeded in subduing me and began tickling me mercilessly. Soon enough I was the one laughing hysterically.
All in all it was a fun afternoon, but I guess time must have passed quicker than any of us appreciated because soon enough it was 5:30 p.m. and time to head back to my house.
When we got there, my Mom was already home, putting the finishing touches on what I knew would be a great dinner. A lot of people make chicken cacciatore, but most just dump a slab of fried chicken on top of the spaghetti and let it go at that. Unlike them, my mother had carefully cut pieces of chicken and let them marinate in her special homemade tomato sauce all day.
It was one of my favorite dishes and I set to work complimenting it with my own special version of Caesar salad.
Hunter timed his arrival perfectly and soon enough the four of us were devouring everything in sight on the table, much to the amusement of my mother.
Later, after dinner, we went out again, wandering from shop to shop. I was impressed when Brady picked up a small piece of jewelry for his mother and one of those boats in a bottle for his dad. Then, just before 9 p.m., the four of us went back to my house.
“You guys go in and get your stuff together,” I said. “I’m going to walk Hunter back to his place whether he wants me to or not.”
With that the two of us set off and soon enough we were at his house. A million things were racing through my mind that I wanted to share with him. But I knew we needed to get back to Shoreham as well.
“Um, well, I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch as much as I should have, Hunter. What with not having a cell phone or access to the internet, it’s really hard; and it’s not like those things are the same as being here in any event. I wish I was going to college with you. I wish we could be roommates.”
“Tell me about it,” he replied. “I know what you mean. Hell, dude, let’s not drag this out; it’s too depressing. Just give me a freaking kiss and be on your way.”
For a moment I thought he was serious and stepped closer to him. I stood there staring into his eyes wondering what to do.
“Just kidding,” he finally added, tapping me lightly on the shoulder to break the trance I had fallen into.
“I knew that,” I replied, stepping back.
“But you better be careful, Hunter,” I added. “Someday I may actually do it when you say something like that and then where would you be?”
“Where would I be?” he responded, sighing. “I’ll have to think about that and get back to you.”
I don’t know what you’re thinking, Hunter, but I’m thinking I would be in seventh heaven if you ever let me do something like that.
When I got back to my house, D.W. and Brady had already put their stuff in the trunk of his car.
“We have to leave now, Mom,” I said, and I could see it was ripping her up as much as the first time we had done this. The only difference this time was she wouldn’t be driving me to Shoreham, wouldn’t be able to delay the moment of parting.
I decided it was best not to drag things out. I grabbed the things I had packed for the return trip and tossed them into the trunk. Then I kissed my mother good-bye and gave her a hug. This time Brady didn’t say anything. He just looked away, giving the two of us a private moment alone and I was grateful for that.
As we prepared to head off, I remember thinking it hadn’t been nearly long enough for me and I think D.W. and Brady felt much the same way. But there was nothing any of us could do about it.
“I hope we can come back here again sometime,” Brady said. “I had fun.”
“Me too,” D.W. added. “Thanks for putting us up, Mrs. Williams, and thanks for that terrific meal.”
“We’ll come back,” I reassured them. “I mean, we’re like the Three Musketeers, the three of us; all for one, one for all.”
And with that I pretended to draw a sword and pointed it at Brady.
“Lead on, Sir. D.W.,” I said. “Sir Brady and I await your command.”
“You’re weird, Ethan,” Brady responded, shaking his head.
That caused D.W. to laugh.
“The kid has a point, Sir Knucklehead.”
The drive back to Shoreham that evening was uneventful. Traffic was light and we made good time. Brady fell asleep in the back seat of the car, but I was glad we had brought him along. He seemed to have enjoyed himself and I remember thinking that perhaps his parents were grateful for having a day off from looking after him.
“I think Brady had a good time,” I volunteered, as D.W. followed the road south along the Coastal Highway.
“He wasn’t the only one,” D.W. responded. “I had a fabulous time myself. Your mom is a terrific cook, the town is fun, and just spending a day in the sun without a care in the world was exactly what I needed to get mentally recharged for this upcoming road trip.”
“And, yeah, you’re right. I think Brady really enjoyed it. But, man, that swimsuit he bought? It made mine look like I was straight out of the Puritan ages. I don’t know, Ethan. Sometimes that kid surprises me; or maybe I should say scares me. I hope Grady doesn’t get a look at it anytime soon. He’ll be on our case for letting him get it. That’s for sure.”
“By the way, have you ever been on a long road trip before? I mean, I know you’ve been up to Hagerstown. But this trip is going to take us through five different states. Man, we’re going to be on that bus forever. I’m getting too old for that shit.”
“You’re nineteen years old, D.W.,” I responded, “less than a year older than me. There’s no way in hell you’re too old for, quote, “that shit,” unquote. Minor league ball depends on guys like us to put up with all of the shit. We’re the cannon fodder on which major league baseball is built.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right about that,” D.W. sighed. “Oh, well, just remember to pack enough changes of clothes so you don’t smell by the fourth or fifth time on that bus. Some of the guys don’t and it’s a problem. By the time we get back to Shoreham from this trip, that bus will be really stinking.”
We took Brady back to his home first and Mrs. Foster thanked us for taking good care of him. Then we headed out to Mark’s house. It was sometime after 10 p.m. when we finally arrived.
The place was dark.
“It looks like Mark must still be up in Baltimore,” D.W. offered. “Maybe you’ll have the place to yourself for the evening.”
“He did say something about coming back tomorrow morning,” I responded. “Um, well, do you want to come in and, uh, well, I don’t know; maybe we could have a beer or something?”
I don’t know why I said it exactly. I guess seeing everyone in swimsuits earlier that day had aroused me a little; and I remember thinking how lonely I was and how it would be nice to be able to get close to someone for once in my life. I liked D.W. He was very good looking and he was a hell of a nice guy.
D.W. just looked at me, curiously.
“When was the last time you had a beer, Ethan?” he asked, smiling.
“Um, well, so I’ve never had a beer before in my life. Mark keeps a ton of beer at the place. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if we shared one or two. I would pay him back and, well, you know, we could talk; you know, get to know one another better?”
I could see he was entertaining the offer and for a moment I thought he was about to accept. But then he abruptly declined.
“I better not,” he replied. “One beer and I would probably be totally wasted and that wouldn’t be smart. I’m like you. I’m a virgin when it comes to drinking booze.”
By that time D.W. had pulled up in front of the house. I jumped out and unloaded the trunk.
“Do you want me to help you bring that stuff in?” he asked.
I was tempted to say yes, but I knew it was late and D.W. was probably tired from all the driving he had done.
“No, I can get it,” I responded.
D.W. looked over at me. For a moment I thought he had something important he wanted to share. But then the moment was gone and he offered up another thought.
“I can swing by and pick you up in the morning if you want,” he offered. “Like I said, be sure to pack extra stuff. This is going to be a really long road trip.”
“Thanks but no; that would be out of your way,” I responded. “If Mark isn’t here by the time I need to leave in the morning, I’ll just catch the bus that comes by.”
“Suit yourself,” he responded; and with that he was off.