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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. August 26: I’m still at the beach and hopefully having some fun. Right now I plan to be there through Labor Day. If you’re reading this, I was successful in scheduling this chapter to appear online this evening. Although I probably won’t be back until next Monday evening, please feel free to post any comments you have or to send me an e-mail. I won’t be able to respond until I get back, but I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this chapter or what you did to have fun this summer.
SUMMER BOYS, SUMMER DREAMS
The next day’s game turned out to be closer. The Legends didn’t appreciate losing at their house in front of the home town crowd, especially to a last place team that had just put a serious beat down on them. But we won again anyway, 2 to 1, thanks to an outstanding pitching performance by Luis Rodriguez.
That made the bus ride to Louisville more tolerable. Everyone seemed to have a good time except Dylan and the ride itself passed quickly enough. I was in an especially good mood. Winning has a way of doing that for you and being named the starter didn’t hurt either. I wanted to keep winning and to be part of the reason for that.
We finally arrived at the Red Roof Inn on the outskirts of town a little after 8 p.m. After checking in and dropping our bags off, I joined D.W. and some of the rest of the guys at a little restaurant not too far from the hotel. We had one of those leisurely late evening meals where a couple of guys put everyone at ease with their war stories, some of which seemed hard to believe.
I had a good time just blending into the background. I felt like I was beginning to be accepted by the rest of the guys. Eventually we split the tab. It hadn’t eaten up our per diem for food and I was glad to pocket a little extra cash as we headed back to the hotel.
I was feeling kind of bloated by then and recalled hearing Mark inquiring about the exercise room when we checked in earlier. Stopping by the front desk, I asked where it was. The young clerk on duty provided the needed directions and I was able to sweet talk D.W. into coming along to keep me company. Having someone to talk to while working out always made the time go faster.
The exercise room was located in the back of the hotel, down one long corridor that connected us to another and then still a third around a corner. As we made the turn, I spied Andre Taylor standing there by himself near the entrance to a men’s room.
Andre was our center fielder, a big, strapping, dude who covered a lot of ground out there. He had a powerful and accurate arm, but never seemed to have much to say in person. He was one of the few black players on the team and usually kept to himself pretty much. But I knew he was on the fringes of the crowd that hung around with Dylan.
“What’s up, Dre?” I asked, as we approached.
He just kind of grunted and didn’t really respond.
“Hold on a minute, Ethan,” D.W. said. “I need to take a wizz.”
As he headed toward the bathroom door, Andre stepped in front of it, blocking his way.
“This one isn’t working,” he said. “You’ll need to find another one.”
That seemed kind of weird to me. It was as if Dre was deliberately trying to keep the two of us out of the place for some reason. But D.W. just shrugged his shoulders and started to head back in the direction from which we had come in search of another restroom.
It was right about then that a commotion broke out inside the bathroom. The next thing you knew I heard a young voice shouting.
“Stop it,” he was screaming. “Leave me alone. I don’t want to.”
I knew immediately it was Brady and looked over at D.W. He had stopped, turned around and was headed rapidly toward the door.
“What’s going on in there?” he asked.
“Nothing you need to concern yourself about,” Dre replied.
“I think I’ll decide for myself,” D.W. said, moving to brush past Andre. “Get out of my way, dude.”
For a moment Dre just stood there blocking his path; then, for whatever reason, he decided it wasn’t worth it.
“Okay, go in if you want,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Then he just walked away.
Following D.W. into the bathroom, I was stunned by what I saw. There was Brady down on the floor trying to keep three guys from the team away from himself. Most of his clothes were already off and he was struggling to keep his briefs on while Dylan just stood there laughing at what was happening.
“What the hell is going on here?” D.W. said, letting his voice rise to get everyone’s attention.
“It’s no concern of yours, D.W., or of that faggot friend of yours either,” Dylan responded, stepping between his friends and the two of us in order to block our path.
“But if you have to know, a couple of us were talking about pooling our money and getting a stripper to come out here later tonight to put on a little show for us,” he continued. “Brady happened to walk by while we were talking about it so I asked him if he wanted part of the action. He gave us that stupid answer of his, how he liked boys, not girls. One thing led to another and Brady offered to show us how much he liked boys and that’s how we ended up down here.”
“That’s a lie, Dylan, and you know it,” Brady shouted. “I didn’t offer to do anything like that. You just said how sorry you were for always picking on me and how you had a present for me to make up for what you’ve done in the past. You said it was in your room and that’s the only reason I came down here with you and your buddies.”
D.W. looked at Brady, then Dylan. I had never seen the dude angry before, but I could tell he was angry now.
“You are unbelievable, Dylan,” he said. “Were you born a piece of shit or is it the result of all the hard work you put in at it?”
“Fuck you, D.W.,” he responded. “This is none of your business.”
“The hell it isn’t,” D.W. replied.
“Come on, Brady,” he added, looking over at him. “Get your clothes on. We’re leaving right now.”
“No one’s going anywhere until that little cocksucker blows me,” Dylan responded. “There are too many damn faggots on this team,” he added, glaring at me.
I was surprised when D.W. pushed Dylan out of the way. He pushed him real hard and you could tell he was just about ready to deck him.
“Get one of your asshole friends to do it for you, Dylan,” he said. “Brady’s leaving with Ethan and me and you better not try to stop us if you don’t want to get hurt; and I do mean seriously hurt, you scumbag. If you ever try to do something like this again to Brady, I’ll kill you. Count on it, you fucking douchebag.”
“And the same goes for the rest of you guys,” he added, looking at them.
Usually D.W. was about the most relaxed and laid back person on the team. I had never seen him angry like this before and was pretty certain I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his wrath right about then.
Apparently Dylan was smart enough to sense the same thing because he just shrugged his shoulders and stepped back, allowing Brady to join D.W. and me.
“What the hell did you think was going to happen when Grady found out about this?” I said, looking over at Dylan.
“That old fool,” he responded, angrily. “He shouldn’t be bringing his retard kid along with us on trips like this.”
“I’m not retarded,” Brady screamed. “And I’m not stupid either.”
With that he grabbed his pants and shirt and retreated toward the door. While he put his clothes back on, D.W. and I stood there preventing Dylan and his friends from getting anywhere near him. By now the rest of the guys had sheepish looks on their face as if they were embarrassed by everything that had happened.
I remember thinking they were like a lot of guys I knew growing up, followers who would let someone like Dylan talk them into doing things they never would have done on their own. Being young and horny, the thought of getting their cocks sucked by anyone had addled their brains. I didn’t hold them responsible for what had happened, but I lost any respect I had for them that evening.
After Brady had finished dressing, we walked out of the bathroom. Abandoning my plan to work out, I followed D.W. and Brady back to the lobby. The three of us sat down and stared at one another. Finally I broke the silence.
“Um, well, are you okay, Brady?” I asked. “Did anything bad happen before we showed up?”
“No, not really,” he replied. “I mean, I thought we were on the way to his room to get my present when Dylan said he had to pee. Everyone followed him into that bathroom. Then he told me he had heard I was a good dancer and asked me to show him some of my moves so I did; and then the next thing I knew the other guys jumped me and were taking my clothes off. That’s when you guys arrived. Thanks. I was glad for the help.”
“Well, sure, we were glad to help,” D.W. said. “But what happened tonight only proves what all of us already know; that Dylan’s a nasty son of a bitch. You need to stay away from him, Brady.”
“I will,” he promised. “I usually do. It’s just that he was being so nice to me this evening, at least before we got to that bathroom. He was apologizing to me and telling me how sorry he was for all the things he had said and done in the past. I figured I should give him another chance, especially since he just lost his starting job. Everyone deserves more than one chance, don’t you think?”
“Maybe,” I said. “But Dylan just used up his last one with that little stunt. In any event, it’s getting kind of late. We’ll walk you back to your room.”
When we got upstairs, Brady turned and looked at the two of us.
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to my Dad about this. He didn’t really want to bring me along on this trip, but I told him it was part of my job and he needed to stop treating me like a little kid. He might change his mind if he finds out what happened, but I’m old enough to fight my own battles now.”
I wasn’t really sure how to respond to that; if it had been me, I would have told Grady. But D.W. had a different view.
“Okay,” he responded, looking over at me. “We won’t tell your Dad. But keep in mind you have a lot of friends on this team and that Ethan and I have your back, Brady. You can count on it; can’t he, Ethan?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “Like I said at the beach, we’re the three musketeers, all for one, one for all.”
And then I pulled out my imaginary sword, pointed it at Brady, and did my little dance.
“Thanks guys,” Brady said, rolling his eyes at me.
Then he slid his key card into the lock, opened the door, and was gone.
Sometimes winning can be contagious and this was one of those times. I’m not sure why, but everything seemed to come together for us on that road trip and we swept the next four games against the Sluggers. A couple of them weren’t even close.
Everyone was suddenly hitting now; even D.W. was on fire at the plate. Our starting pitchers seemed to have total control of their stuff and the relief staff chipped in by doing a great job mopping up at the end of the games; and now that I was starting full-time, I was playing even better.
Four days later we were back on the bus again, facing a long 540 mile trip to Hagerstown. It was one of those early morning departures guys usually like bitching about; and yet everyone seemed totally relaxed and I didn’t hear a single complaint.
Winning has a way of bringing out the pranksters, however, and I became one of their victims later that morning. I was just standing there talking to one of the guys when Nicky came up from behind and shoved the shaving cream pie in my face. Everyone started laughing and then the bus descended into chaos. Guys were using whatever they could to squirt their best friends even as the noise level continued to rise.
Thru it all Grady just sat there up front letting it play out. I guess he figured we had earned the right to blow off some steam and he seemed happy enough to let us do it.
Eventually we settled down. It was going to be another one of those killer trips and I wondered how we would perform that evening after being on the bus for nine or ten hours. But I never got to find out. That afternoon around 2 p.m. Grady stood up and made an announcement.
“Okay, listen up everyone. I just got a call from Jack Shannon on my cellphone. Jack’s the manager of the Raptors and a good friend. Apparently it’s raining like hell up in Hagerstown and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. The bottom line is they’ve decided to postpone the game; they’re still trying to figure out when we can reschedule it.”
“In any event, we’re going to be heading directly back to Shoreham. The good news is we’ll get back a lot earlier than planned, probably sometime between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The bad news is we’re not going to stop so you’re stuck on this bus for at least another four hours. Please try not to destroy it; otherwise I’ll have to dock your pay for the repairs.”
We pulled into Lloyd H. Fisher Stadium sometime after 6:30 p.m. that evening. By the time everything was unloaded from the bus it was closer to 7 o’clock. Ever since Grady made his announcement it had been in the back of my mind that perhaps I could make it to Zachary’s final Little League game after all, at least if the bus got back in time.
Knowing the game would start at 7:05 p.m., I quickly transferred my stuff to the back of D.W.’s car. He had agreed to give the two of us a ride back to Mark’s place, but I had already told him I had other plans.
“I’ll see you back at the house later tonight, Mark,” I said. “I’m heading over to Noel Field to take in a Little League game.”
“Jeez, Ethan, you’ve been on this bus for almost twelve hours. Aren’t you tired at all?”
“I am, but it’s just something I want to do and tonight’s the last night I can do it.”
“That must be some hell of a game,” Mark added, shrugging his shoulders. “I’m going to bed when I get home. I’ll sleep all night after a trip like that. It was a killer.”
“It was,” I replied; and with that I headed off quickly toward the field up the road.
By the time I got there the top of the first inning was already over and Zachary’s Kiwanis team was at bat. The scoreboard indicated their Rotary opponents hadn’t scored in the top of the first and there was already one out in the bottom half of the frame. I could see a runner on second; then Zachary emerged from the dugout and headed for the on-deck circle with his bat.
The boy at the plate took a swing at the next pitch and grounded out. That brought Zachary to the plate with two outs and he promptly singled to left field. Unfortunately, it did no good as the runner on second base was thrown out trying to reach home plate. It wasn’t even close.
From there the game proceeded as most baseball games do; slowly. The two pitchers for the opposing teams were having a good night and hardly anyone was reaching base. In the field Zachary was easily handling everything hit in his direction. He was good and I remember being impressed with his play.
I don’t think he knew I was there and that was fine. When I wasn’t playing, I liked blending into the crowd and just cheering for whoever was.
Somewhere around the third inning I noticed a man approaching the bleachers. At first I thought he was limping and felt sorry for him, but soon enough it became apparent he was staggering. As he started climbing the bleachers, the smell of beer was overpowering. I was glad when he climbed all the way to the top. Even though Mark and some of the rest of the guys seemed to drink it a lot, I still wasn’t much of a fan of alcohol.
The Rotary was at the plate when I saw Zachary make an odd little jump in the field, kind of a cross between a skip and a hop. It was the kind of thing players did when they were nervous or bored or just trying to stretch their legs. To me there was nothing all that unusual about it, but apparently the dude at the top of the bleachers didn’t like what he saw.
“Hey, shortstop, what the fuck was that all about?” he shouted at the top of his voice. “You looked like a fairy or something. Do you play queer like that all the time?”
It was nasty and several people, including myself, turned around and stared at the guy. He just snorted out a laugh when he saw us staring at him, but shut up. I remember being grateful for that.
In the bottom of the inning the Rotary brought in a new pitcher, a left-hander, and he retired the first two batters without any problems. That brought Zachary to the plate again and he stepped into the box. He was batting left handed this time so his back was to those of us sitting in the bleachers along the first base line. I remember thinking he had a cute little butt.
He took the first pitch for a called strike, which apparently infuriated the dude sitting above.
“What are you, blind or something, you dumb fuck?” he screamed at the top of his voice; “swing at pitches like that, you freaking idiot.”
Zachary stepped back from the plate and just stood there, frozen in place, without looking around. By then I had had enough. I stood up and walked toward the guy.
“I’ve seen a lot of obnoxious fans in my life and you’re right up there with the best of them, dude,” I said. “Do you think you could keep your mouth shut and just let the kids play the game?”
Several of the fans nearby nodded their agreement and I was glad I had spoken up.
“Do you think you could mind your own fucking business, asshole,” he responded.
“This is my business,” I said. “I’ve played Little League ball myself and the rules don’t allow anyone to abuse the kids verbally. That includes fans. This is a game, sir, not life and death. Why don’t you try to enjoy it?”
“Why don’t you shut the fuck up?” he retorted.
By that time the umpire had called a halt to the game and he and the managers from the two opposing teams were approaching the fence.
“Sir, this isn’t the first time we’ve told you you’re not welcome at these games if you’re going to shout stuff like that. I’ve called the police. I expect they’ll be here in five to seven minutes. You can leave on your own or wait around to let them escort you away, but we won’t resume playing until you’re gone.”
That brought a big round of applause from the crowd sitting nearby. The guy hesitated for a moment, as if he was about to say something more. But then he just got up and left.
The rest of the game was more of the same. Both teams were playing well but neither had scored. And then in the bottom of the last inning, with another runner on second, Zachary laced still another ball, this time all the way out to the center field fence. It was deep enough that the throw to the plate wasn’t even close. Kiwanis had won, 1 to 0, and I was happy for Zachary.
I descended the bleacher stairs and started to walk away. Then I heard Zachary’s voice behind me.
“Hey, Ethan, did you like the game? Did I play okay enough for you?”
“You did,” I said, turning around and looking at him as he stood there behind the fence.
“You played good enough for anyone who enjoys the game. Truth be told, you’ve got me worried. I’m getting nervous about my job.”
“Good,” he said, grinning. “I’m glad I didn’t disappoint everyone. Wait up for me, Ethan. I’ll be right back.”
He went back to the dugout, gathered up his stuff, and came sauntering back over to me.
“We used to go for ice cream after we won a game when I played Little League,” I said.
“Yeah, well, times change and none of those guys would want me tagging along in any event,” he replied. “Do you want to walk back to Mark’s place together? I know some shortcuts and it really doesn’t take all that long.”
“Sure, that would be good,” I replied. “Our game in Hagerstown was rained out and we were on the bus twelve hours. I’ve been sitting in these stands since then. I could afford to stretch my legs some.”
Zachary led me on a long winding path that threaded its way through woods at various times. At one point he stopped and looked over at me.
“This should be good,” he said.
“Good for what?” I asked.
“For the two of us getting naked and having some fun.”
“You know, I don’t recall being this obsessed with sex when I was your age, Zachary,” I said, even though I knew I wasn’t being entirely truthful about that.
“Don’t you have a friend your own age you could mess around with?” I added.
“No; as a matter of fact, I don’t,” he replied. “Besides, I think I’m into older men like you, Ethan; guys who are more mature and looking for hot young studs like me. You know what I mean?”
“Oh, jeez, thanks, Zachary,” I said. “You’re just all compliments tonight, aren’t you? You sure I’m not too old for a hot young stud like you?”
“There’s only one way to know for sure, isn’t there?” he said, suddenly reaching over and patting me on the butt.
“You’ll never know then,” I responded. “I have no interest in getting bitten to death by a bunch of bugs out here tonight so we best be moving along.”
“You’re no fun at all,” he countered. “I know you want me as much as I want you and I’m not going to stop until we do it together. Count on it, Ethan.”
But he relented and led me off once again.
As we walked, I remember thinking about what he had said. If anything, I was as frustrated and horny as he was. Yeah, sure, I had been having sex with Mark, but it hadn’t been all that satisfying. Something was missing that I sensed wouldn’t be missing if I had sex with someone like Zachary who was gay like me.
Passion; there’s no passion with Mark. Everything’s too mechanical.
Unlike Mark, Zachary knew what he wanted and wanted it passionately and I was pretty certain it was the same thing I wanted as well.
What would be the harm? I recall asking myself.
And yet I knew it would be wrong to do anything with Zachary.
He needs a big brother more than a boyfriend.
Everything would change if we ever had sex and that made me sigh. But I promised myself again to do the right thing.
By the time we arrived back at Mark’s place I was anxious to get to bed.
“Are you going home now?” I asked.
“No, you saw how my Dad was at the game earlier tonight,” he responded. “I’m just going to hang out for a while until he falls asleep in a drunken stupor like he usually does.”
For some reason I hadn’t put two and two together. I knew Zachary and his father didn’t get along, but I hadn’t realized the guy in the stands was his father. It made me wonder how any man could be that cruel to his son. Suddenly the thought of leaving Zachary alone by himself bothered me.
I didn’t want him to be alone like that, not after everything that had happened that evening.
“Yeah, I understand,” I replied. “It’s a nice night. I don’t much feel like going in either yet. Do you mind if I hang out with you?”
“Really?” he said. “You’re not too tired?”
“No, not really,” I replied.
We spent the next couple of hours just wandering around. Zachary showed me a lot of places where he liked to hang out; interesting places, some of them beautiful, the kind of places kids find exploring on their own that adults never even realize are there.
Hunter and I had done the same thing years ago and suddenly I recall missing Hunter so much just thinking about that.
When Zachary finally decided it was safe to go home, he gave me a high five.
“Thanks for coming to the game, Ethan. It was a surprise to see you in the bleachers at all, let alone standing up to my father like that. Most people just sit there and don’t do anything until the ump finally has had enough. You’re the best friend in the world.”
“And thanks for hanging out with me too. It means a lot.”
“No problem, Zachary,” I responded. “All the walking will help me get to sleep. We’ll have to do it more often.”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” he replied. “I like walking. I walk just about everywhere.”
“But I like, um, other stuff even more,” he added, touching his groin and grinning.
“I think walking is probably a better exercise for someone young like you.”
“That’s your problem, Ethan,” he retorted, and by now his grin had become a smirk. “You think too much. You’re a shortstop and a pretty decent one too. Didn’t they ever teach you to go with your instincts?”
Knowing I wasn’t going to win a duel of wits with Zachary, I tossed in the towel and kept my mouth shut.
We didn’t even have the following day off as a reward for that bus trip. Our only consolation was that the Gastonia Braves had spent the previous day traveling as well to get to our stadium from their home in North Carolina. Their trip was the shorter one, but they were tired as well and both teams showed the effect of travel that night with sloppy play. But we won again and kept our win streak going, at least for a little while longer.
By now the days seemed to be passing more quickly. The games were blending together, as were the bus trips. It seemed to me my life was consumed with baseball in a way it had never been before when I was growing up and just playing for the fun of it. It had become a grind, a test of endurance.
Fortunately, Mark was there to help keep me sane through the whole thing. I was doing him most nights by then and that helped, I guess. He had even gotten to the point of using his hand to help me get off. He still wasn’t into the kissing though and that was disappointing.
Labor Day was rapidly approaching and with it the end of the season. It was time to think about what would come next. Originally I had been planning to go home to Rehoboth Beach after the season was over. I figured I would get a job, put some money away, and spend as much time as I could with Hunter.
But now everything had changed. Mark and I were together, kind of; and even though I had mixed feelings about that, I began wondering what would happen once the season was over. One night I decided to ask.
“Um, well, the season’s winding down pretty fast now, Mark,” I began. “What are your plans once it’s over?”
“Me?” he responded. “I’m heading up to Baltimore to spend some time with Jen. I’m looking forward to that. Later on I’ll probably head south to Florida and play some winter league ball down there. Why do you ask?”
“Um, well, I guess I was wondering if maybe I should plan on going down to Florida as well; assuming you want me to, of course. It would probably be tough to get through the winter without seeing each other, don’t you think?”
“You don’t have to go out of your way like that, Ethan,” Mark responded. “You’ll do just fine on your own. I mean, yeah, it’s been terrific spending this summer with you. I really like you a lot and it’s been fun. But, like they say, all good things come to an end.”
“And, hey, winter doesn’t last forever,” he added. “We’ll be back here in Shoreham soon enough, at least I will. It wouldn’t surprise me if you got a promotion and ended up somewhere else. You’ve got a lot of talent, Ethan. You’re going to make it all the way to the top someday.”
He didn’t really have to say very much more. I was getting the message I wasn’t part of his offseason plans, let alone part of his future. It made me wonder about everything that had gone down between us. I had been trying to stay positive, hoping that maybe Mark was the one special guy for me, the one who could take my mind off of Hunter and make the hurt go away.
And yet, while I think Mark genuinely liked me, he had just made it clear he didn’t see things the same way I did.
It made me wonder whether it was my fault somehow, whether there was something more I could do to make him like me more.
“Can I ask something?” I finally said.
“Of course,” he replied. “Anything you want, Ethan.”
“Um, well, how does it compare?” I asked. “I mean, Jen and me?”
“What do you mean?” he said. “I’m not sure I understand.”
The question had caught him off guard, but I wanted him to think about it.
“I was just wondering how having sex with Jen compares to having sex with me,” I continued. “I mean, I’m not trying to make you say whether you like one more than the other. Mostly I was just wondering what was similar, what was different, and how you feel about all of that. You’ve never really said anything much at all about what we’re doing.”
“Oh, jeez, I don’t know, Ethan,” he responded. “I’ve never thought about that. Does it bother you I like having sex with Jen?”
I had been expecting that at some point and decided to be honest about it.
“Not really,” I responded. “I suppose it should, but it doesn’t and it’s not because I don’t think about it. I do. I mean, I think about it sometimes.”
The truth is, I had been thinking a lot about what happened that night Jen drove him back to Shoreham, replaying it in my mind, even wanking at times just thinking about it. As much as it turned me on, it still bothered me I had watched the two of them have sex; and yet having done it, I wondered how that compared to what we had been doing ever since.
“I’m just curious how what we’ve been doing compares to what you and Jen do.”
“Uh, well, I don’t know,” Mark responded. “I mean, what we’re doing, the two of us, that’s just about sex, not love; it’s about two buds letting off some of the tension that builds up given how crazy things can be playing minor league ball. I’ve tried to be upfront with you about that. I mean, I like you. But, you know, it’s just about letting off some steam; nothing more.”
It was hard hearing him say that and I should have let it go. But I didn’t.
“You haven’t really answered the question and I’m still curious; so what’s the same and what’s different?”
Mark sighed and looked over at me and it made me wonder whether I was bothering him by pressing him on the point.
“I don’t know what you want me to say, Ethan,” he responded. “Getting head is great, but it’s just not the same thing as having intercourse with Jen. It’s the difference between night and day.”
I decided to take a chance at that point.
“We could have intercourse,” I said. “Maybe doing something like that would help you decide which you like better.”
“Whoa, Ethan,” he said; “slow down, dude. I have no interest at all in doing something like that. Look, I understand you’re gay and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s who you are and you’re someone I like and admire. But I’m different. I like girls; always have, always will. I don’t want to mislead you about that. If I have, I apologize.”
“Does that answer the question?” he asked.
Mark had been honest and tried to answer as best he could and I realized now where this was headed.
“I guess,” I responded. “I was hoping for something more, but I understand what you’re saying. I’m not sorry about any of this. I just wish I could find someone who likes me.”
“Listen, Ethan, I like just about everything about you and so do most of the rest of the guys on the team,” Mark replied. “You’re honest and decent and treat people fairly. You’re a great friend, an excellent ball player, and a terrific teammate. Sometimes I worry about you because you’re someone special and deserve someone equally special, but I know you’re going to make someone very happy someday. I can honestly say that because I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better. I don’t regret it at all.”
Hearing him say that made me feel good. I nuzzled my head against his chest, curled up and let him wrap his arms around me. But everything was clear now. I knew where I stood with Mark and there was something sad about that.
And yet I didn’t regret what had happened. I had known all along my heart was somewhere else, that Hunter was the guy I loved, but somehow being with Mark had made coping with the separation easier; had made everything easier really.