Chapter 18

a home run ... just like the story itself :-)

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Summer Boys, Summer Dreams: Chapter 18

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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. September 9, 2013: I realize this is a long shot, but if you’re familiar with the University of Delaware and the community where it’s located, Newark, Delaware, please contact me via e-mail as I could use your help with some of the chapters in the next part of the story. You can e-mail me here.

SUMMER BOYS, SUMMER DREAMS

Part II – Summer

Chapter 18

When we finally got to my house, my mother greeted the two of us warmly and we quickly unloaded the car. She had also prepared a snack, one we devoured equally quickly. While Mom talked to D.W., I took the opportunity to pick up the kitchen phone and dial a familiar number. I was hoping to hear his voice, but Hunter didn’t seem to be answering for some reason so I was reduced to leaving a message.

“Hunter, it’s me, Ethan,” I said. “I’m back home and ready to rock and roll. I brought D.W. along with me. He’s going to be here for the next month or so. Give me a call when you get this message. I want to get together today and start catching up on things right away.”

When I was finished, my Mom looked over at me from across the table where she and D.W. had been chatting.

“Hunter left for Newark yesterday, Ethan,” she said, quietly. “I guess his classes start tomorrow and he wanted to get moved in and prepared. He came by yesterday and told me to say hi when you got here.”

Shit, I remember thinking.

I mean, yeah, sure, I knew Hunter would be starting at the University of Delaware soon, but somehow I figured it would be later, after we had time to catch up.

“Well, that’s a bummer,” I said; “and a hell of a way to start the off season.”

But there was nothing to do about it and I wanted D.W. to have a good time. We spent the rest of the morning getting settled in and visiting with my mother. After lunch we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the boardwalk.

The weather was nice and the beaches still somewhat crowded, but D.W. and I found a place off by ourselves and just lay in the sun soaking up the rays for the rest of the afternoon. It was relaxing, exactly what both of us needed. But I remember getting more and more anxious when I didn’t hear from Hunter. He never called that day; in fact I never heard from him until the following evening.

“Sorry,” he said when he finally returned my call. “What with getting settled in here, buying books, figuring out where my classes are, and then actually going to class, I’ve been busy. Sorry I wasn’t there when you came home, but it’s not like you’re alone after all, is it? You said you brought D.W. along. Given the weather, I imagine the two of you have been working on your tans, not sitting in some god awful dorm room by yourself like me trying to figure out what the hell I have to do next.”

There was something about the way he said it that made me think Hunter was pissed at me for some reason. I didn’t want him to be.

“True enough,” I said. “D.W. is here, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss you, Hunter. I mean, I know I’m being selfish, but I was hoping we could get together and have some fun just like the old days before you headed off to college.”

“Well, you know, the old days are dead and gone,” he replied. “It’s sad, but you know what they say. Stuff happens and then you die.”

Hunter sounded depressed and that was getting me depressed. I needed to see him, the sooner the better.

“Listen, Hunter, is there any chance you can get home this weekend? I really want to see you something bad.”

“No can do, Ethan,” he responded. “Things are just too crazy up here. It’s going to take forever to figure this place out. It’s already driving me insane. I don’t see how I’ll be able to get home before next month at the soonest.”

“That won’t work,” I responded. “I have to be in Arizona next month and part of November. There’s some kind of Invitational league the Blues want me to play in. I need to see you before I leave.”

“What about me and D.W. driving up this coming weekend to see you? Or maybe the following weekend if that doesn’t work for you. I mean, I need to see you and catch up with what’s been happening in your life. It’s important.”

We talked about it a little while longer and finally Hunter agreed to come down the last weekend of September, the weekend before I was scheduled to take off for Arizona. That was much too long of a wait as far as I was concerned so it wasn’t great. But it was better than nothing.

I told D.W. about our plans.

“That’s cool,” he said. “I have to go back to Shoreham that weekend in any event.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Brady’s birthday is that Saturday. He asked me to come by and spend the weekend with him. He’s turning eighteen and wanted to do some guy things together away from his Mom and Dad.”

“Jeez, why didn’t you mention that,” I said. “I would have been happy to go with you.”

“I don’t know,” D.W. said, looking over at me. “Sometimes Brady is crazy. I asked him whether he wanted me to bring you along and he just said he wanted to spend the weekend with his big brother doing stuff, like going to the movies or whatever. I don’t know how it got started exactly, but we’ve been big brother and little brother for a while now even though he’s not that much younger than me.”

“I figured I should humor him. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you. He likes you a lot. But he’s seen a lot of dudes pass through Fisher stadium over the years and, well, sometimes it rips him up when they leave. He’s thinking you may not be back because Grady’s told him that. So he’s withdrawing to deal with the hurt in bits and pieces.”

****

We spent the next couple of weeks doing nothing much at all except letting our bodies heal from all the nicks and dings they had acquired during the course of the season. Eventually D.W. got so bored he started joining me for my workout sessions although he never did much exercising himself.

He headed off for Shoreham the Friday afternoon that Hunter was scheduled to arrive home on the bus; and while I was sorry I wouldn’t get to see Brady and perhaps Zachary as well, I was looking forward to spending some time alone with Hunter.

We had agreed to meet at his house around 7 p.m. that evening. Anxious to see him, I arrived a couple of minutes early.

“Oh my Lord, look who’s here,” his mother said, greeting me at the door. “My goodness; if it isn’t Ethan Williams. Isn’t this a pleasant surprise? I haven’t seen you in . . . well, forever. Where have you been keeping yourself, Ethan? And what’s this I hear about you playing professional baseball? When is that going to start?”

“It already has, Mam,” I responded. “In fact, I just finished up my first season.”

“Well isn’t that something,” she said. “That must be wonderful for you. I hope you’re enjoying it. Hunter could never do something like that, of course; that’s for sure. When it comes to sports, Hunter was always average, just like in everything else. Sometimes I wonder whether he’ll ever excel at anything.”

I wanted to tell her she was wrong, but knew it was hopeless. It was almost as if Hunter had disappointed her by ever emerging from her womb.

“But never mind, Ethan. That’s neither here nor there. He’s taking a shower upstairs. Honestly, I don’t even know why he came home from school this weekend or whether he’s expecting you. But you’re welcome to go up and see him.”

I walked up the stairs to his room. I had been there a million times. I knocked and Hunter invited me in. He was standing there in front of the mirror, a towel wrapped around his waist, combing his hair to get it just right.

“Hey, buddy,” I said.

We exchanged a high five and then I reached over and embraced him lightly. He smelled wonderful and the touch of his skin against my chest aroused me. I pulled back and turned around before he could see the effect he was having.

“I guess I should let you get dressed,” I said. “I’ll wait downstairs.”

“You don’t need to wait, Ethan,” he said. “It’s not like it takes forever for me to get dressed.”

Before I could say anything he stripped off the towel and slowly walked over to the bed where he had laid out his clothes for the evening.

I just stood there staring at his naked butt as he approached the bed. He grabbed a pair of briefs, turned around so he was facing me and pulled them on slowly.

What was happening was driving me crazy. I remember sucking my breath in, trying to get control of myself, trying to avoid staring at what I wanted to stare at. If anything, Hunter looked better than ever. I had always loved his string pole body even when we were much younger. Other guys used to make fun of it, but to me it was perfect for Hunter. It gave him a distinctive look, one that aroused and attracted me. And now that it was beginning to fill in, he looked even better.

I just stood there staring at him without saying a word as he stepped into his jeans and zipped them up, then pulled on a t-shirt.

“Looking good,” I offered, but I noticed there was a catch in my voice and wondered if Hunter had noticed it as well.

If he had, he didn’t say anything about it.

“So what do you want to do tonight?” is all he said.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “It’s your first night back home. I’ll do whatever you want to do.”

“Will you really?” Hunter replied, and for a moment it seemed like he was almost smirking at me.

I remember wondering what he was thinking.

“Sure, whatever you want,” I said. “I just want to hang out and spend time with you; you know, find out what’s going on in your life, whatever.”

Hunter looked away, then just walked over to his chest and grabbed his wallet.

“I guess we can do what we usually do,” he said, “just wander around aimlessly until we can’t think of anything else to do and then go home.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I responded.

We walked downstairs and then out to the street.

“Do you want to go over to the boardwalk first?” he asked.

“That would be good. The boardwalk is always good.”

We had done this a million times before, but to me it never got old. It wasn’t about the boardwalk or the shops or the food joints. It wasn’t about the beach, the ocean or the people. It was about being alone with Hunter.

We walked for a while without saying very much.

Finally we reached a bench away from everyone else and sat down next to one another. I turned and looked over at him.

“Wow! This so great, seeing you again,” I said. “I know it’s only been less than three months, but I’ve really missed you Hunter.”

“Have you really?” he replied. “I mean, you’ve always been the most popular kid on the block wherever you were, Ethan. I bet you have a million friends already playing ball over in Shoreham; the guys on the team, the fans, whatever. I haven’t made very many friends yet up at school; none really.”

“I have a couple of friends,” I said, “but you’re still my best friend, Hunter. You always have been. You always will be. Is that so hard to believe?”

Hunter looked at me for a moment, but said nothing. Then he sighed.

“You know sometimes I wish we had never grown up, Ethan. Back when we were younger everything was simple, everything was perfect. We would spend hours and hours here at the beach just playing together and I remember being totally happy back then.”

“And, then, I don’t know what happened exactly. I guess we got older and life got more complicated somehow. I don’t know why. It just did. And now you’ve gone off to Shoreham to play ball and you’re going to be a big star and me? What am I going to be, Ethan? I’ll probably end up selling cars or something like that here in Rehoboth Beach for the rest of my life.”

“Whatever I am, I won’t be anything much, at least not compared to you. My mother’s always telling me that; how I’ll never amount to much.”

“Don’t talk like that, Hunter,” I responded. “You always put yourself down like that and your mother’s wrong. I don’t know why you listen to her. What’s so great about being a ball player? It’s not like I did anything special, you know. I was born with some natural talent for playing baseball. Hell, I didn’t even want to go professional back when Coach first raised it. You were the one who kept telling me to go for it.”

“I wanted to go to the University of Delaware with you. Be roommates, go to class together, whatever, but no. You were after me. Said I was a natural and should sign the contract. So I signed it, as much to make you proud of me as any other reason. And what’s the result? I’m over in Shoreham and you’re up in Newark. I’m not a happy camper, Hunter. I miss you. But no matter what happens, you’ll always be my best friend.”

“Yeah, I know; I miss you too, Ethan,” he replied. “I miss you a lot. When I was working so many different jobs this summer, I didn’t have much time to think about it. But now that I’m at the University by myself, I think about it a lot. It’s depressing not having you there, especially given how much we had talked about it when we were younger.”

“But it’s like I said. It’s as if the powers that be want to mess everything up. They don’t want people to be happy so they turn you into an adult and make you get older. Sometimes I wish I could chuck the whole thing and go back to playing out here on the beach with you like we used to.”

It was hard hearing him say all of that. Right at that moment I thought we were closer than we had ever been in our lives and I wanted to tell Hunter I loved him. I had always loved him and now I wanted to take him into my arms and kiss him and not care if anyone saw me doing it.

You need to tell him, Ethan. You need to tell him right now.

I wasn’t sure how to do it exactly, but somehow I summoned the courage to begin.

“It doesn’t have to be that way, Hunter. Not everything about being young was so great. I mean, when we were younger, other people made all the decisions for us. My mother and your parents, of course; but the teachers, the coaches, the people we worked for, they decided all of the important stuff.”

“But we’re older now. We’re practically adults. We get to be in charge of our own lives for a change; maybe not everything, but a lot more than when we were kids and a lot of the important things too like who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.”

“Do you remember that time back when we were freshmen in high school and we were playing that video game and you cheated to win and then we ended up in a wrestling match?”

“Yeah, I remember, kind of,” he replied. “Do you still hold that against me, Ethan? I mean, it’s not like it was the first time I ever cheated to win a game against you.”

“No,” I said. “Of course I don’t hold it against you. But what else do you remember about that?”

“I don’t know,” he responded. “Wasn’t that the time you told me you were gay?”

“It was,” I responded.

By now my heart was beating a hundred miles an hour and I took a moment to try to calm myself down before telling him the truth.

“Man, that totally freaked me out at the time,” Hunter suddenly volunteered. “I mean, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and for a moment I thought you were telling me the truth. I knew you couldn’t be gay, but that’s what you said and I was too stupid to realize you were trying to teach me a lesson about not using nasty words like faggot. It was a good lesson, but, man, you scared the shit out of me back then.”

“Did it really bother you that much?” I asked, taken aback by what Hunter had just said.

“Back then? Absolutely; I’d like to think I’ve gotten better about stuff like that, but sometimes I wonder. I mean, honestly, I was surprised to see how many gay people there are on campus up at the University; and, the thing is, it seems like a lot of them are totally out. They don’t try to hide it all. I mean, that was a big surprise.”

“Not that’s there’s anything wrong with it, of course. You were right back then. People shouldn’t be judged for what they do in bed. But, you know, I guess it’s kind of hard to know how to react to stuff like that when you’ve never actually met anyone before who’s gay.”

By then all of the courage I had summoned to tell Hunter the truth had disappeared. It was obvious the whole thing still made him nervous and it made me wonder what I had been thinking when I decided to tell him.

And what would be the point of telling him after all?

For as long as I could recall, I had been clinging to the hope that maybe Hunter was bisexual and would somehow be open to taking our friendship to another level. And yet, even if he was bisexual, something he obviously wasn’t, what was he going to do? Drop out college? Follow me around the minor league circuit?

Even if we could have done something like that without destroying my career, which we couldn’t, it wouldn’t have been fair to Hunter; and, besides, I couldn’t risk his friendship if I told him the truth. I couldn’t risk his scorn or losing him and yet it seemed like I couldn’t have him either. I felt like I was trapped somehow and didn’t know what to do.

“We best stop,” I finally said. “I mean, if we keep this up, I’ll end up crying and we just have this one weekend at home together, Hunter. I want it to be fun for you, just like the way you recall it being when we were younger.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” he said. “I want it to be that way too. So what’s the agenda, Ethan? What are we going to have fun doing specifically?”

That was pretty much the end of it. We spent the rest of the evening wandering around town and the next day taking in the beach and the boardwalk, the shops, Funland, all of the things we had done as kids; and just talking, talking about what it was like to play ball in the minor leagues, what it was like being in college, talking about Rehoboth Beach and whatever crossed our minds.

D.W. came back on Sunday and the three of us hung out together for most of the afternoon. Finally, he offered to drive Hunter back to Newark so he wouldn’t have to take the bus and we could have some more time together.

The three of us piled into his car and got there quickly enough. Hunter gave us a tour of the place, took us to the Trabant Food Court for pizza at Topio’s, and then showed us his dorm room. It was kind of small and depressing, not anything like what I had always pictured it would be in my mind.

By then it was getting late and it was time to leave and somehow D.W. understood Hunter and I needed some time alone. He made himself scarce.

I was grateful to him for that. Eventually, after we had said our good-byes, Hunter walked me down to the lobby.

“You know, it’s not like the end of the world,” I said. “Yeah, I’ll be in Arizona through the middle of November, but then I’ll be home for the rest of the winter. Even if I get a job, I’m going to be bored out of my mind so we’ll definitely need to get together and have some fun.”

“Sure,” Hunter said. “We need to do that. And I want to wish you the best of luck out in Arizona. D.W. was telling me what a big deal that is, how it shines the spotlight on you and could help you get to the majors a lot quicker. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “But you know what. I’ll tell you what I told D.W. and Brady. I would rather be back east with my friends; and like I keep saying, you’re my best friend of all, Hunter. So, yeah, I know you’ll probably have a girlfriend by the time I get back and you’ll be wanting to spend all of your time with her.”

“You always were better with the girls than me, Hunter. But you better make a little time for me, too. I want some of you too, whatever you can spare.”

“No problem,” he said. “What with working all the time, I haven’t had any social life at all since you left for Shoreham. And now that I’m at school and trying to stay on top of things, I have even less of one; so it’s not like that’s going to be a problem. Besides, there’s always going to be time in my life for you, Ethan. It’s a two way street, you know. You’re my best friend too; always have been, always will be, at least as long as you want me to be.”

“That’ll be forever,” I responded.

I gave him a hug and then the two of us walked outside to where D.W. was waiting. I shook Hunter’s hand, climbed into the car, and gave him a thumbs up as we drove off. My eyes were glued to the mirror and I could see Hunter just standing there, alone and seemingly forlorn.

I could understand what he was feeling. I was feeling exactly the same thing.

****

At some point Hunter was no longer there in the mirror. I stopped looking and allowed my mind to drift off. I began thinking about some of the fun times the two of us had shared together growing up. And then I finally looked up and realized we were miles from the University of Delaware campus. We had been driving in silence for a long time.

“Oh, jeez, sorry,” I said, looking over at D.W. “I guess I was on some kind of trip down memory lane there and not being very good company on the drive home.”

“No problem,” D.W. said. “I was thinking about stuff too.”

“Um, well, I guess I never asked how your weekend went with Brady,” I replied. “Did the two of you have a good time?”

“Pretty good,” D.W. volunteered. “It was interesting; a little weird actually, but I had a great time and it was lots of fun. That’s what I was thinking about, trying to make sense of the whole thing.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied. “I mean, when I got to their place Friday night, Grady and his wife weren’t even there. I guess Brady had told them to go out and have a good time that evening because he wanted to cook dinner for me. The thing is, the kid is actually a pretty good little cook. I was impressed. And I was even more impressed after dinner when he cleaned up the table and put everything in the dishwasher and started it running.”

“Once he was done doing all of that, he asked me whether I wanted to go to a movie with him. It was kind of hilarious actually. He had made this list of the different movies we could go to and he went over that with me to see which one I liked best. I told him we should go to the movie he wanted to see because it was his birthday, not mine. But he insisted so finally I selected one and off we went. When we got there, he paid for the tickets and bought the popcorn and made me pick out where we would sit.”

“I mean, the whole weekend went like that, Ethan. There were times when I felt like I was a freshman in high school going on my first date with a girl except it seemed like I was the girl and Brady was trying so hard to do everything just right to please me. Like I said, it was funny.”

“In any event, just before I left on Sunday morning to drive up here, it finally came out what he was up to. He asked me whether I had ever considered getting a place of my own in Shoreham. Apparently Brady had talked to his Mom and Dad about moving into his own place. He feels like he’s old enough and he wants to be on his own; and he’s even looked at a few places around town and figured out where he would like to live.”

“It’s amazing actually. He’s figured out how much money he needs to make it work; and just like the rest of us, what he really needs is someone to share the expense with him and he was wondering if I would do that.”

“He said he had gotten the idea by watching you and Mark and how he thought the two of you had become even better friends after you moved in together. And then he showed me this budget he had worked out and refined with Grady’s help. He had it all figured out pretty much. He had the rent and the utilities and all the rest of it. It was impressive how he had planned it all out and was able to tell me exactly how much I would need to put up.”

“What did you tell him?” I asked. “It sounds like it could be interesting, you and Brady living together.”

“I wasn’t sure what to say so I told him I would think about it. I mean, I don’t know, Ethan. I love Ed and Mary, the people who’ve put me up at their place the last two years. They’re really nice people. But, you know, I’ve been doing that for two years now and it’s starting to get old. Lately I had been thinking about trying to get my own place. But you know how I put everything off and never follow through.”

“I couldn’t do it on my own, of course, not with what they pay us to live on; but it would be nice to have a place to call home, not just a room in someone else’s house.”

“What do you think I should do, Ethan?”

I wasn’t sure I should be giving anyone advice. What did I know after all? But D.W. clearly wanted my opinion so I tried to do what I could to help him figure it out.

“It sounds like you’ve already decided you want to get a place and realize you need to share the expense with someone else,” I volunteered. “So really the only question is how you would feel about sharing a place with Brady. I loved living with the Fosters. Admittedly, it was only a few days. But I shared a room with Brady and it was fine. He just tosses and turns some, but each of you would probably have your own room; and, if not, well, he falls asleep pretty quickly.”

“I don’t know,” D.W. responded. “I like Brady. He’s a terrific kid and I think he could take care of himself living away from home, at least with some help, but . . . .”

Whatever he was thinking, D.W. never completed the thought. It just drifted off into the silence.

“But what?” I asked, deciding to press him on the point.

“I don’t know, Ethan. I guess it’s a little complicated. I mean, ever since I got here, I’ve always thought of Brady as like my second little brother, someone I needed to protect against all of the world’s big bad bullies, the assholes like Dylan.”

“And you’ve done a great job of that, too,” I interjected; “a terrific job actually.”

“Thanks,” he responded. “That means a lot coming from you.”

“But have you looked at Brady lately, Ethan?” he continued. “He’s almost as tall as you and me now and his body is filling out too. He’s not some little kid. He’s an adult; or at least he’s an adult some of the time. Every now and then he reverts to being a little kid and I love when that happens. He seems so sweet, so innocent, so happy. I mean, it makes me feel good just to watch him when he’s like that. I wish I could be like that myself sometimes.”

“So what’s the problem then?” I asked.

“I dunno,” D.W. said, sighing, then shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t know what the problem is. I want to help. I want Brady to be happy, but sometimes I don’t trust myself. I don’t think I can be a good friend to anyone, Ethan, let alone someone special like Brady.”

“I mean, I left home and left my real little brother in the hands of that religious wacko father of mine and looked how that turned out. I feel so guilty about that all the time. I should have found some other way to deal with my father and protect my little brother; I wanted to protect him so much and I ended up not protecting him at all.”

“That’s crazy talk, bro,” I responded. “You know, you’re just like Hunter in a lot of ways, D.W., and maybe that’s why I like you so much. You remind me of him.”

“But you’re always putting yourself down, always thinking you’re not good enough or whatever; that whatever bad happens is somehow your fault. And it’s just not true; it’s not true at all.”

“If you would only open your eyes, you would see how much people like and admire you. You’re a lot better ball player than you think. I mean, I know you wanted to protect your little brother from your father, but how could you have done that living at home, D.W.? Maybe you can help him in the future because you rescued yourself and made yourself into a better person, a person who might be able to help at the right time.”

“But, more importantly, you’re a terrific human being, D.W. You’re one of the best and I’m really proud to have you as a friend. You just need to stop putting yourself down so much and trust your instincts. They’re good ones.”

“I mean, Brady knew what he was doing when he asked you. He’s not a book smart kid, but he has good instincts and he knows what kind of a person you are. I think you two would make terrific roommates.”

“Do you really?” D.W. responded, looking over at me.

“Absolutely,” I responded.

“Well, thanks for your advice,” he replied. “I really put a lot on what you think. And, you know, I don’t want to sound mushy or anything, but I really, really, admire what you and Hunter have. I wish I had a best buddy like that. I don’t know. Growing up, it seems like we were always moving around from one place to another. I would make friends and then my father would uproot us and we would go on to some other small town and have to start all over again.”

“At some point, you just give up and then you end up like me, a loner. Whatever the reason, I never really got to have a best friend and, well, I just wanted you to know that I’m in awe of what you and Hunter have. It’s not really the same, but I consider you my best friend, Ethan; I mean, you and Brady and me. It’s like you say. We’re the three musketeers and I am glad about that.”

“Like you’re always saying, all for one, one for all,” he added, looking over at me and smiling. “Just don’t expect me to do that stupid little dance you do.”

“I’m glad we’re friends too, D.W.,” I said. “I really am. It’s just so freaking hard sometimes. Next week I have to get on a plane and go off to someplace new and spend time with a bunch of people I don’t know and don’t really want to be with. I wonder if I’m ever going to have a real life; you know, one with people I care about.”

“I know what you mean,” D.W. responded. “But baseball has gods, Ethan, and they have a special plan for you. You’re going to be one of the chosen.”

“Tell me about it,” I replied, echoing Hunter’s favorite phrase. “And thanks for nothing, buddy. You realize you’re condemning me to being miserable all my life.”

“That seems to be the way it is for all of us, Ethan,” D.W. replied, sighing. “You’re not special that way at all. You’re just another lost soul like me and Brady and everyone else, looking for someone to help you get through the night.”

It was an odd choice of words, I recall thinking, but true, oh so true.

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 18

  1. Your stories are just the best. It seems as if Ethan and Hunter are parting ways due to life choices. It wasn’t to be a romance, at least according to Hunter. Time will tell. Mark and Ethan have had their fling and doesn’t appear to rekindle. Sure mirrors life! Awaiting the next installment to see how things are working out.

    1. Thanks, George. When I’m writing a story there are times when I find myself tempted to go for the easy ending, the perfect ending, and to do so sooner rather than later. In stories the vagaries of everyday life don’t necessarily have to intrude if you don’t want them to.

      But here we have two young men with lots of things going on in their lives at an especially important time of their lives. Like most of us, they don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing. Ethan can’t just pick up and go home whenever he wants to court Hunter. He has obligations to his teammates, his coaches, and the organization he works for. He’s under a lot of pressure, trying to prove himself as a professional ball player; and he’s stumbled into a relationship with someone he likes and admires almost by accident and is wondering how to deal with that as well.

      To expect him to handle everything perfectly would be a mistake. It wouldn’t be true to life.

      We know less about Hunter at this point. He seems to have been working multiple jobs to make money for college. He doesn’t get to decide when the first day of classes will be; and being a freshman, the whole college experience is probably very intimidating for him in many ways. So it’s obvious he’s trying to cope with some things as well.

      In real life we get pushed and pulled in all kinds of directions just like Ethan and Hunter; and sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way we want because of circumstances beyond our control. And then there’s always pure chance.

      What if Ethan hadn’t stopped to catch his breath? What if he had just plunged ahead and told Hunter he had lied, that he really was gay after all? The conversation between the two of them would have been a lot different at that point and every reader is free to imagine what would have happened. But, like you said, it wasn’t to be. Ethan was nervous. Hunter blurted out the first thing that came to mind instead of waiting for Ethan to make his point. And in a moment everything changed.

      And yet ….

      And yet there’s obvious some very strong feelings between these two young men. Because the story is being told from Ethan’s point of view right now, we know he loves Hunter. But what Hunter is feeling is a little harder to say. He’s nervous for sure; but he’s not Ethan’s clone. He’s at a different place than Ethan right now. And so we need to know more about him before we can be certain what will eventually happen.

      In the end, we know there are five parts to this story and so much more to come. It would have been relatively easy for me to end the story right here with a different outcome, the one everyone is rooting for. But I feel there is a lot more we need to know about these two young men and their friends so all I can do is ask readers to be patient. In the end, you’ll have to be the judge of whether I made a mistake in making the story longer. But I think you’ll enjoy a lot of the rest of the story even if it causes some angst at times.

  2. Hi Kit

    I just had a chance to read ch 18 and wanted to let you know that I thought it was great. I thought Ethan was finally going to come out to Hunter, but not to be. Your comments to George were very interesting and would have to agree with you.

    I will look forward to the next chapter.

    All the best
    Tom

    1. Thanks, Tom. There are really no right or wrong answers in any of this. Everyone can have a different take on what could have happened or should have happened. It’s just that I get to provide the only answer that’s posted and I was having too much fun with the story by the time I wrote Chapter 18 to end it right there.

      Everyone gets the chance to decide whether I made the right decision; the longer the story goes, the more likely it is that people will give up on it. But if you’ve liked it up until now, I think you’ll like what’s still to come, at least through the end of Part III.

      But we still have two more chapters to go with Part II and I best get to work on Chapter 19 right now.

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