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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.
By now we had finally arrived in Newark and I quickly guided my mother to the street where the apartment was located.
“Oh Lord, Hunter, couldn’t you have found a nicer neighborhood than this?” she asked. “The houses seem decent enough, but most of them could use a new coat of paint. You would think people would take better care of their property, but then again I suppose they’re too busy working to think about things like that. What a shame.”
“This is a really nice neighborhood, Mom,” I replied, pushing back; “and the apartment itself is even better. This street is a lot quieter than most of those where students rent and the place is really convenient, a lot closer to campus than others.”
“I like the trees and, look, it even has a little park over there,” I added, pointing out the park Cameron had first called my attention to. “If you want to get a little fresh air while you study, you can sit over there on one of the benches and read.”
“Oh, well, if you’re content to live somewhere like this, I guess I shouldn’t complain, should I?” she responded.
“No, you shouldn’t, mother,” I replied, a display of defiance I knew I would regret down the road at some point.
I directed her to a spot in front of the place; once she had parked, I grabbed some of my things and led her up the stairs to the apartment. I dumped everything on the floor outside the door and searched for my key. Then I opened the door and let her in.
Looking around, I remember being stunned by what I saw. The windows were covered with curtains, the floors with warm rugs, and the walls with tasteful paintings. A grandfather clock stood in one corner and the rest of the living room had been completely furnished. There was a leather couch, a couple of matching chairs that seemed plush and luxurious, a wooden coffee table with elaborate carvings, two matching end tables, and a couple of lamps to read by.
“Good Lord,” my mother exclaimed. “I thought you told me this place was empty, Hunter.”
“It was,” I responded; “at least it was when I left here a week ago. This room was totally empty. There wasn’t anything on the floor or walls; and the windows didn’t have curtains, that’s for sure.”
Walking across the living room, we turned and entered the kitchen. A small table with a couple of chairs had replaced the emptiness there; and some kind of overhead rack with lots of copper bottomed pots and pans hung from the ceiling. A quick check of the cabinets revealed the place now had dishes and silverware, the kind you saw at Crate and Barrel rather than Target.
More artwork hung on the walls, but they were colorful metal pieces appropriate for a kitchen; scenes of bakers at work, a master chef directing his staff, and people dining and having a good time.
The bathroom had been furnished as well and here the artwork made the place appear warm, cozy and welcoming.
The whole thing was incredible. The place was decorated better than my parents’ home.
“This must be my new roommate’s stuff,” I finally said to my mother. “I told him he could bring whatever he wanted, but this is unbelievable, Mom. This place almost seems homier than home.”
“Well, if you’re right and these things came from your roommate, all I can say is he has excellent taste, Hunter.”
“This furniture is expensive,” she added. “This is Stickley and I can tell you right now Stickley does not come cheap. And none of that artwork on the walls came cheap either. Some of it looks like it could be original.”
“I don’t know who furnished this place. It certainly wasn’t you. But whoever did this has money and knows how to spend it wisely.”
It was right around then the door opened and Cameron walked in.
He must have seen how astonished I was by all of this because he immediately panicked.
“It’s too much, isn’t it?” he apologized. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. I thought I was just bringing a few things and then when I got here and unloaded the stuff, uh, well, I could see I had brought a lot more than I should have.”
“I’m sorry, Hunter. I’ll rent a trunk and take some of it away; all of it if you want. I shouldn’t have brought all of this without checking with you first.”
“No, it isn’t a problem,” I responded. “It’s a surprise, that’s for sure, definitely a surprise. But it isn’t a problem.”
“Mom, this is my roommate, Cameron; Cameron Harper. Cameron, this is my mother.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Mrs. Allen,” he replied, offering his hand to my mother. “Hunter talked about you so highly last weekend when I met him; and I can see he was right.”
I hadn’t said a word about my mother to Cameron the previous weekend, but I could see she was obviously charmed by him so I kept my mouth shut and didn’t try to correct him.
“Well it’s very nice to meet you, Cameron,” she replied. “I must say I’m surprised, shocked even. Hunter certainly made a wise choice in a roommate, one who obviously has excellent taste, unlike my poor boy. I think this could be very amusing. Perhaps you’ll succeed in civilizing Hunter in a way his father and I have never been able to do.”
“Really?” Cameron responded. “I mean, I thought I was the lucky one when I met your son last weekend. I was impressed with the place he had found immediately. It’s so much nicer than the other student rentals; and then, after talking with him, I felt fortunate to have met him. He’s smart and cosmopolitan, exactly the kind of roommate I was looking for.”
“You must have met someone pretending to be my son, Cameron,” she replied, “perhaps some alien from another planet. Hunter? Cosmopolitan?”
She started to chuckle.
“You obviously have a delightful sense of humor, but it’s very nice of you to say that about him to his mother. It makes me feel like I haven’t been a complete failure in raising the boy.”
The whole thing was annoying; not all that different from the way she often treated me in front of others, but annoying nonetheless. I wanted to say something, but decided to bite my tongue.
“Did you decorate my room as well, Cameron?” I said, taking my annoyance at my mother out on him.
“Of course not,” he responded. “And, like I said, I really apologize for the rest of the place. If I had any sense at all, I would have never done something like this without checking with you. But it’s just a bunch of stuff after all, nothing important. We can figure out what stays and what goes together.”
“Like I said before, it isn’t a problem,” I replied, shrugging my shoulders. “It’ll save me the bother of having to look around for stuff at some of the local consignment shops; and it’ll save me a ton of money as well. I’m not complaining.”
And I wasn’t. Yeah, sure, maybe I wasn’t into curtains, furniture, pots, pans, and dishes, but it was no skin off my nose if I didn’t have to pay for the stuff. And while I wasn’t an expert, I actually liked the artwork on the walls. It seemed like we shared similar tastes in stuff like that.
“Mostly I’m just afraid of actually touching any of this stuff. My mom says it’s expensive and I’m pretty clumsy at times. I’m afraid I’ll break something so I hope you have good insurance; either that or lots of patience.”
“You don’t strike me as the clumsy type, Hunter,” he replied; “and I wouldn’t want you to worry about touching or using any of this stuff either. If it was that important to me, I would have left it back home. I just thought I would bring a few things to get us started; and then the next thing I knew the place was pretty much filled up. So whatever happens is my fault, not yours.”
To me he didn’t seem to be faking it, pretending to be sorry when he really wasn’t. He seemed genuinely embarrassed about the whole thing, but I didn’t mind. It was just one less thing I had to think about and I was actually glad he had done it, at least secretly.
I wasn’t about to tell him any of that, of course. It’s always good to have a roommate indebted to you for some reason, even if it really should be the other way around.
“Well, I did bring some things for my room,” I continued. “I guess I should bring them up.”
“I’ll help,” Cameron replied immediately. “I’ve spent most of the last few days trying to figure out the campus. Figuring out where to bring stuff from your car should be a lot easier,” he added, grinning.
I didn’t have a lot of stuff so it only took the two of us a couple of trips to get everything into my room. My mother was already off in a corner unpacking some things.
The first thing I pulled out was a picture of me and Ethan playing in the surf. I placed it on the nightstand beside my bed.
“That’s a great picture of you, Hunter,” Cameron said standing at the door to my room. “Who’s your friend?”
“Ethan,” I responded; “Ethan Williams. He plays minor league baseball. We went to school together. Actually we pretty much did everything together growing up. He’s my best friend even though I never get to see him anymore.”
“Tell me about it,” he responded, sighing.
“Not that I’m implying anything,” he quickly added and I could tell he was worried I might think he was suggesting Ethan and I were something more than just friends.
“Not a problem,” I said. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to be on guard all the time around me, Cameron. Like I told you last weekend, it isn’t a problem for me and I hope it won’t keep us from becoming friends.”
“I hope so too,” he responded.
Then he smiled and left the room.
“What was that all about, Hunter?” my mother asked.
“Nothing, Mom,” I replied.
“It must have been about something,” she said, determined to press the issue.
“Nothing you need to concern yourself with,” I responded.
I mean, the truth is my mother was nosey and I didn’t feel like it was important for her to know Cameron was gay. It wasn’t a problem for me, but it would be for her and it wasn’t any of her business in any event.
It didn’t take very long for the two of us to get things unpacked; and then after sitting around and talking with Cameron for a while, I figured it was time for us to have lunch before she headed back to Rehoboth Beach.
“I’m hungry, Mom,” I said. “Let’s have lunch over at Taverna before you head home.”
“Are you going to invite your roommate to have lunch with us?” she asked. “I’ve enjoyed talking to him. Unlike some people I know, he answers my questions with fully formed sentences, not a series of grunts I have to spend time deciphering.”
She wasn’t looking at me when she said it so I rolled my eyes, stuck out my tongue, and pretended I was strangling her with my hands behind her back. I could see Cameron had been surprised, both by her remark and my reaction. When she turned back to me, he touched his hand to his mouth, hunched his shoulders, then grinned at me from the other side of the room.
“Um, well, he’s welcome to come along if he wants, Mom. But he’s a college student, you know; most college students don’t have a lot of money to spend on lunch at a place like Taverna.”
“I understand that perfectly well, Hunter,” she replied. “That’s why I’m paying for lunch, as I always do, and I would be more than happy to pay for Cameron’s as well. The conversation alone would be well worth the money.”
“Whatever,” I said.
I think Cameron understood I didn’t really want him to come along, not because his being there would bother me, but because it would make my mother linger. She was obviously taken with him and I’m sure the comparisons she was drawing between the two of us would not be to my benefit.
But mostly I just wanted her gone and Cameron being there would have delayed the whole thing.
“I would love to have lunch with you and Hunter, Mrs. Allen,” he replied. “Unfortunately, I have another engagement that I can’t really break. Perhaps the next time you’re up here though?”
Thank you, Cameron, I said to myself.
“Oh, well, of course,” she replied. “I don’t want to interfere with your plans. You couldn’t have known I was coming unless Hunter called and he would never have enough sense to do something like that. But I will say how delighted I am that you’re going to be Hunter’s roommate. Like I mentioned before, perhaps you’ll have a civilizing effect.”
And with that she walked out the door.
I started to follow, but then Cameron came over and gave me a fist bump.
“Or perhaps Hunter will entice me to join the savages,” he whispered, grinning.
It made me laugh.
“Maybe,” I replied. “We’ll see. I make no promises, but I appreciate the help, both with the apartment and with my mother.”
“Glad to be of assistance,” he said, grinning. “Be good and have fun; and when you’re done with that, go have lunch with your mother.”
In spite of myself, I laughed again.
Getting through lunch that day with my mother wasn’t that hard, mostly because I knew her all too well. I knew she would spend the first half of lunch gushing about Cameron and that she did. As I suspected, Cameron was everything I wasn’t, at least if you listened to her.
He was smart and cosmopolitan and had excellent taste, in clothes, furniture and artwork. Cameron was nothing less than a genuine renaissance man; and because he was and renaissance men were so rare these days, it had been a delight for her to meet him.
I should thank my lucky stars that Cameron was going to be my roommate this year. He was someone I should study; better still, emulate, if I ever wanted to make anything of myself. I was getting older now, she cautioned; would soon be on my own and have to make my way in the world.
The world didn’t look kindly on slackers. Everyone knew that she reassured me. If I wanted to make something of myself for a change, here was an opportunity for some much needed self-improvement.
As far as I could tell, Cameron was perfect. Unlike me, the dude didn’t have a single fault.
That was the easy part of lunch because mostly I could just sit there and listen and nod my head in agreement with whatever she said. She liked Cameron and that was fine. I didn’t have a problem with that. I liked him too.
It was kind of unusual, however. She had never much liked any of my friends, even Ethan. She felt they were below us socially. But knowing how much I liked Ethan and wasn’t about to put up with her ragging on him, she didn’t go out of her way to put him or his mom down in front of me. She tolerated them and tolerated me being best friends with Ethan.
I think she even realized at some point that the only reason I did as well as I did in school was because Ethan pushed me to study. That made Ethan useful; and being useful made it easier for her to tolerate him, to even like him in her own way, which mostly involved refraining from criticizing him.
She had sensed Cameron was different, that he came from a family with money; and since she was mostly interested in money and what money could buy, she spent a lot of lunch drilling the notion he was rich into my head.
The second half of lunch was harder. Having exhausted Cameron as a topic, she turned her attention to me in more detail. As usual, she was not entirely happy with her youngest progeny. I had always known she liked my sister more than me and that was fine. In some ways it was even better because, by absorbing her attention, my sister inadvertently diverted her attention from me.
But my sister wasn’t there with us today. She had graduated from college two years ago and was working at some law firm up in Wilmington. And because she wasn’t there, I had to listen again to the litany of all my faults, physical and otherwise.
“You’re still much too thin, dear, and it’s not because we didn’t feed you properly either. You were always much too fussy an eater and I can’t even imagine what you’re eating up here at the university. But you’re obviously not eating well enough to put on the weight you should.”
Beyond my physical infirmities, there were the mental ones.
“You’re doing sufficient at college these days, I guess, better than I expected actually. But you could be doing so much better if you would just apply yourself more, Hunter. You’re never going to be a genius. I understand that. But you could be above average if you just applied yourself more.”
And then there were the social deficiencies; in some ways they constituted the worst of it as far as my mother was concerned.
“You know, Hunter, your sister is dating a young doctor up in Wilmington. He’s a very impressive young man. You, on the other hand, never seem to have a date; and I suppose that’s not surprising in some ways because you’re not the best looking young man in the world. But you’re not the worst either. If you would just try a bit harder to be nice to the girls, I’m sure you could find a very nice young lady for yourself.”
“You’re in college now, Hunter, you know; in fact, this is your last year of college. There are lots of young ladies looking to meet young men, and even you could find a nice one if you made the effort. But it’s like everything else. You’re just too lazy to make the effort, Hunter. You need to work on that.”
Or maybe I’m gay like Cameron, mother, I said to myself. Did you ever think about that? That maybe I was gay or bisexual or whatever? No, of course not; something like that would never cross your mind, would it, Mom? People like that don’t exist in that private little universe you inhabit, do they?
I wanted to say it. I wanted to spit it out and see how she dealt with that. But it would have only prolonged the torture. I would have had to sit there for another hour at least reassuring her I was just kidding; that, no, I wasn’t gay, bisexual or whatever, didn’t know anyone who was gay, bisexual, or whatever, and frankly was just as revolted as she was by the very notion that anyone could be gay, bisexual, or whatever.
The truth is we had been over all of this ground together many times before in my life. When I was much younger, it used to bother me and I would try very hard to improve myself because I wanted my mother to like me. But nothing I ever did back then changed anything with her. It was hopeless and by now I was used to her criticism and mostly just let it slide.
I would demur softly from time to time, occasionally present some evidence that challenged whatever she was saying; but it was only when the criticism became especially egregious that I went for the full blown defense. Today had been nothing out of the ordinary. It had been an unusually average savaging and I remember being amused by that thought.
I’m not the only one in this family that’s average, mother. Your effort to tear me down today was actually pretty lame. Can’t you do better than that, mother?
But I knew defending myself would only drag things out and I was anxious for her to be on her way that day. I had only asked her to come along because I figured I needed some help furnishing the place. But now that Cameron had taken care of that, I wanted her gone.
Eventually we finished having lunch and she paid the bill, complaining as I knew she would about how her food hadn’t been cooked the right way and the silverware had to be changed because of the spots and whatever else came to her mind at that moment. She tried to stiff the waiter on the tip, but I was able to convince her that none of this had been his fault after all and he was just trying to earn a living.
She drove me back to campus and I pointed her in the right direction and provided the obligatory kiss any dutiful son would have provided. And then with a few final observations on my failings, she was gone and I was relieved because I knew the number of occasions she would show up in Newark again my senior year would be limited. Hopefully, the next occasion would be when I graduated.
After my mother had left, I walked over to the University Center to check out what was happening. I knew there were some things I needed to pick up that afternoon, but decided to wait until I was ready to head back to the apartment before doing so.
No sense lugging stuff around needlessly, Hunter.
There wasn’t much going on at the University Center, at least not at the moment, so I picked up a copy of The Review, the campus newspaper, and made myself comfortable on one of the couches. I glanced through it for a while to see what was new and what I had missed over the summer. As I suspected, I hadn’t missed a whole lot and not very much new was happening.
Turning to the classifieds in the back of the paper, I eventually reached the ISOs and started glancing through them. One in particular caught my attention.
Assistant Professor of Political Science, new to campus, in search of student in need of part time work. Applicants must be available to work a minimum of fifteen hours each week during the Fall semester. Spring semester renewal possible but unlikely. Excellent pay. Political science major a plus but will consider others. Prefer students in their junior or senior years. If interested, please inquire at 347 Smith Hall. Equal opportunity employer.
I already knew living off campus this semester would be more expensive and I would need to find some kind of part time job to help with the finances. The advertisement wasn’t very specific about what the job entailed so I wasn’t sure I would qualify. I was also a history major. But I was minoring in political science as well and I was a senior. It seemed to me I met enough of the qualifications to pursue the thing a little further.
The notice had included a telephone number to call to learn more about the job. But Smith Hall, where the Department of Political Science and International Relations was located, was just across the street from the University Center, behind Ewing and Kirkbride Halls.
Not having much else to do on a Sunday afternoon, I carefully ripped the notice out of the paper and decided to head over to Smith to see if I could find out more. I knew the main office wouldn’t be open on Sunday, but was hoping there might be a more detailed explanation of what the job entailed on one of the bulletin boards over there.
The building was open and I found my way up to the third floor. I was just standing there checking the main bulletin board when this older dude wandered by.
“Can I help you, young man?” he asked.
“Probably not,” I replied, handing him the slip of paper. “I saw this notice in the latest edition of the campus paper and was checking to see whether there would be more information about the job on one of the bulletin boards over here.”
He glanced at the thing momentarily, then handed it back to me.
“That would be Dr. Guerin,” he said. “She’s new to the department this year and comes highly recommended. She’s going to be teaching constitutional law, legal theory, and the Supreme Court. I think I saw the light on in her office when I passed by a few minutes ago. You might want to check to see if she’s there. She could fill you in if she is.”
Then, giving me her office number and pointing me in the right direction, he sent me off on my way.
He had been right. The light was on in her office and sign on the door identified her a little more fully.
Dr. Nicole Guerin
Assistant Professor of Political Science
I knocked on the door and a voice from within invited me in.
I was surprised when I saw her. I had been expecting someone older and dowdy like most of the rest of the female professors I knew on campus. But Professor Guerin was younger, not much older than me to be honest; and she was good looking as well, very good looking. Most of the guys I knew would have called her hot and I remember thinking her classes would probably be oversubscribed with guys that semester.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“I hope so,” I responded. “My name is Hunter, Hunter Allen, and I’m a senior here at the University. I was just over at University Center reading the campus newspaper and I saw this notice for a part-time position as a research assistant.”
Walking over, I handed the notice to her.
“And, well, I came over here looking for more information and someone told me you were the person I needed to speak to. I’m majoring in history, but I’m also pursuing a minor in political science and I do need the work. I was wondering whether you could tell me more about the job.”
“Sure,” she responded. “Feel free to sit down.”
While I seated myself, she started to fill in the details.
“I’m at the beginning stages of writing a book about Supreme Court nominations. Part of the book will involve a content analysis of the hearings and floor debates surrounding those nominations. One of the things I want to explore is how the type of questions asked of Supreme Court nominees has shifted over the last three decades; and I’m also looking for how often certain words and phrases appear in the hearings and floor debates surrounding their nominations.”
“The person who gets this job will be expected to go through lots of congressional hearing records and floor debates and write down exactly where the words and phrases I’m looking for appear. Eventually I’ll get around to reviewing those hearings and records myself, but it’ll help if someone has already scouted out the territory and pointed me in the right direction.”
“It’s going to be tedious work, not especially challenging, but not especially taxing either. It’s important work, however. I need someone who can follow instructions, is diligent, and who doesn’t miss what I’m looking for while reading a lot of material that may be somewhat less than interesting at times.”
“Does that sound like something you would be interested in doing and could handle?”
It didn’t seem all that hard to me, boring perhaps but not especially hard.
“Sure,” I responded.
“It sounds interesting actually,” I added, lying. “Getting paid to do something like that would be fascinating, I think, and the topic is certainly an important one; timely too.”
I could see from the look on her face that she liked my response.
But even though she was good-looking, sexy, and young, in her mid-twenties I thought, she wasn’t an airhead like some of the professors I had met over the years. She knew a thing or two about how students tried to flatter their teachers to gain whatever edge they could and she wasn’t ready to hand me the job simply because I had just finished subtly flattering her.
“I’m glad you look at it that way, Hunter,” she replied. “Tell me more about the political science courses you’ve taken and your history courses as well; and more about yourself, of course. I’m interested in learning more about you as a person.”
I wasn’t sure what she wanted to know about me personally, but I spent the next fifteen or twenty minutes filling her in on my course work as best I could, smiling a lot, and trying to flatter her whenever I could without being too obvious about it. She had a lot of questions, including some personal ones about where I came from and what I liked doing in my spare time. That made the whole thing easier.
Eventually she told me more about the job, including what it would pay. It was going to pay more than most on-campus jobs, a lot more, and that only heightened my interest. Having the extra money would come in handy. By now I definitely wanted the job.
Having gone the extra mile to please her, I was hoping she would tell me I had landed it at the end of the interview. But she didn’t. She just said several other people had already left messages on her answering machine inquiring about the job and that she planned to interview them during the coming week.
“After I complete the interviews this week and narrow down the possibilities, I’m going to conduct a little experiment,” she said. “Are you available to participate in it late Friday afternoon? It’s going to take about two hours; once it’s over, I’ll let people know who I’ve selected for the job the following Monday.”
“Sure, I’m available,” I responded. “I’m looking forward to it. Where are you going to hold this experiment?”
“Meet me at my office here next Friday at 4 p.m. and we’ll go from there,” she replied. “It’s been nice talking to you, Hunter. I look forward to seeing you again next week.”