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SUMMARY: What if you were homosexual but refused to admit it to anyone, especially yourself? The year is 1971 and fourteen year old Jimmy Barnes has discovered growing up in a small town can be boring in a way not even the solitary masturbation sessions he enjoys so much can relieve. When his best friend takes a job at the local newspaper, Jimmy finds himself on his own for the summer. What follows is a decade long saga with numerous twists and turns, a tale that’ll reveal the best and the worst of the nineteen-seventies and beyond.
WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Unless otherwise noted, all of the characters in the story are fictional; any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. While some of the places described or mentioned in the story are fictional as well, others may be real. However, some liberties may have been taken with the truth to enhance the story. 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 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 or fictional places 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’s something I want to alert you to as I post each chapter, this is where I will I do so. June 3, 2016: If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to read this post and watch this ten minute film or public service announcement before starting the story. Doing so will give you a better appreciation for the era in which the story is set and help you better understand why the lead character, Jimmy Barnes, behaves as he does. It will also help explain why he’s named Jimmy Barnes, a not unimportant feature of the story.
It was Sunday afternoon and my parents and I were just finishing lunch. I was planning on spending the day with Tommy. We were best friends, but he had a summer job now and we hadn’t seen much of each other lately because of that
But even though I was looking forward to going swimming with him, there was something else on my mind at the moment. In her rush to get me up for church in the morning, my mother had gotten me out of bed before I had a chance to whack off.
Now I was about to explode. I desperately needed the relief only a trusty right hand could provide. The best way to do that at home during the day when my parents were up and about was by taking a shower. The bathroom was one of the few places in the house that provided the needed privacy.
“I think I’ll take a shower before Tommy comes over,” I said, looking across the table at my mother and smiling at her. “We’re going swimming this afternoon at the Fish Pond.”
“That’s nice,” my mother said, nodding at me and returning my smile. “I haven’t seen Tommy in ages since his father got him that job at the Transcript. Does he like it, Jimmy?”
The Transcript was the local newspaper in town, the only source of free comics for me. Most of the comic strips it ran were lame though. Joe Palooka was one of my favorites although most of the time there was too much talk and not enough boxing for me.
“He does,” I replied, standing up in an effort to hasten my departure for the bathroom. “He likes it a lot.”
“You’re going swimming?” my father interjected, stuffing another roll in his face.
“Yeah,” I replied. “We haven’t done something like that together in a while. Is there a problem, Dad?”
“Is there a problem?” he said, staring at me across the table and repeating the question. Repeating questions was Dad’s favorite way of letting you know he was unhappy about something.
“Yeah; there’s a problem,” he quickly added, answering his own question.
I could tell Dad was getting ready to enlighten me from the tone of his voice, which also revealed he was in a lousy mood as usual. Knowing better than to challenge the old man, I just stood there waiting to hear whatever he had to say.
“Who the hell takes a shower before they go swimming?” he asked. “Is the water that comes out of the shower somehow better than the water at the lake? Will it get you cleaner somehow or refresh you more?”
“Uh, well, no,” I replied, knowing the real reason I was taking the shower had nothing to do with getting cleaned up. “I suppose not.”
“Then why are you taking a shower?” my father said, pressing his point. “I pay the city an arm and a leg four times a year for the water that comes out of the shower. It isn’t free. You take more showers in a week than my brothers and I took in a month when we were growing up.”
“Oh Carl, don’t exaggerate,” my mother chimed in. “You and your brothers didn’t even have a shower growing up. You took baths.”
“You’re missing the point,” my father replied, glaring at her. “Why does he need to take a shower if he’s going swimming?”
“I dunno,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. “I was just feeling kind of icky and thought a shower would make me feel better.”
“Yeah; I bet it would make you feel better,” my father said, staring intently at me. “You like feeling better, don’t you, doofus?”
It was like he knew exactly what the shower was all about; that I was going to whack off while taking it and wash the evidence away. Somehow he knew.
“Oh now, don’t be like that, Carl,” my mother said, coming to my rescue. “I don’t see anything wrong with the boy taking a shower. It’s not like a shower is going to bankrupt us.”
“And just how would you know that?” my father said, turning to her. “You’ve never paid a bill in your life. I pay the bills around here and it’s getting harder every week. Business was down again this week at the mini-mart even though I’m keeping the place open later at night to compete with that freaking Big Y.”
The Big Y was a new supermarket that had opened its door recently in the shopping center behind St. Joseph’s High. It carried a lot more stuff than my father’s mini-mart and had lower prices to boot. The competition it provided was intense and had forced my father to make a lot of changes over the last year to remain competitive.
“That place is going to drive me out of business, woman,” he continued; “and if I go out of business how the hell do you think we’ll pay the bills around here? Every penny counts and the water isn’t free. But, yeah, go ahead, doofus; take your shower. Just be quick about whatever you’re doing up there. Maybe I’ll come up and take a shit while you shower. What do you think about that, doofus?”
“Oh Carl, leave the boy alone,” my mother said. “He’s at an age where boys like their privacy. He doesn’t need his father going to the bathroom while he’s showering. Besides, I need you to help me move a few things into the garage.”
Turning around, I walked toward the stairs.
“Five minutes,” my father shouted. “That’s more than enough time for your shower.”
“Fine,” I said, annoyed.
Stripping down, I stared at myself in the mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Just seeing myself naked like that was enough to bring on a stiffy. Climbing into the shower, I turned away from the door and began stroking myself. Almost immediately I heard someone climbing the stairs.
“Five minutes,” the familiar voice bellowed again.
Fuck, I recall thinking. He’s ruined everything.
Knowing my father, it would be just like him to walk in on me and I didn’t want to be caught whacking off if he did. Frustrated, I decided to give up. But I still had to take the shower, of course, so I turned on the water and started cleaning myself.
I wonder why he hates me so much?
My father had never liked me as best I could tell. Not that it mattered to me; I mean, who cared what some overweight, out of shape, butcher with a lousy personality whose biggest accomplishment in life was owning a mini-mart thought after all?
Everyone else liked me and that annoyed him, me being popular like that. Sometimes I even wondered if that’s what I liked most about being popular; that it annoyed the old man so much. Why I was popular is another story entirely. I never could figure it out.
It wasn’t because I was smart, that’s for sure. I wasn’t.
Lots of people were smarter than me, including Tommy, but I did good enough in school to pass. That was partly because Tommy helped me out a lot and partly because I was the kid who made everyone laugh with the funny answers I gave to the questions the teachers asked.
Hell, even the teachers laughed most of the time; and because I could make them laugh, they went out of their way to help me out with the books. I just wasn’t into books that much. Except comic books, of course; I liked reading those whenever I could borrow them.
I never had enough money to buy them myself, but being popular meant having friends willing to share them with me and I liked that.
The Batman comics were my favorites. I liked to pretend I was Robin because he had a way of getting Batman to calm down and that was a good thing. Batman was much too intense. He would have gone off the deep end without someone like Robin.
It was kind of the same way between me and Tommy. Okay, not exactly; Tommy didn’t have a temper and he wasn’t violent like Batman, but he was intense enough in his own way and I could calm him down whenever he got uptight from wandering around inside his mind too long.
But that’s beside the point. The point is I wasn’t popular because I was smart. And it wasn’t because I played sports either even though I did. I played most of the different sports and was better than average in all of them, but I was never the star of any of the teams I played for.
I never tried to be. Some of the boys I played with were very competitive. Unlike me, they wanted to be the best player on the team and that was fine because being the best wasn’t important to me.
I was content to be as good as I was and the players who wanted to be the best liked me for that. They knew I was pretty good, but not really a threat; and since I could make them laugh as well, that made things better for everyone on the team.
Older people would always say how cute I was whenever they ran into me and my mother, and I suppose that might have been part of it. It didn’t hurt, that’s for sure, especially with the girls. But it didn’t seem like a good reason for being popular because no one had any control over how they looked and I wanted to feel like I was somehow responsible for me being popular.
Not that I was stuck on myself, of course, but there were times when I wondered why I was popular. One time I asked Tommy why he liked me and he said it was because I was easy-going and fun-loving and made him laugh.
To me that was probably as good an explanation as any; that people liked me because I was happy go-lucky, lived in the moment and never worried about anything.
Worrying about stuff was a sure way of driving yourself crazy. Tommy was a good example of that. He used to worry about his grades all the time. I never understood why. He was very smart and I admired him for that, but for some reason he drove himself nuts worrying about grades.
I guess it was because he was so interested in his future. He liked to think ahead to when he was all grown up and what he would do once he was. Unlike me, he had it all planned out and I was happy for him because knowing what he was going to be doing when he was grown up made him happy.
Me? I preferred having fun in the here and now. I figured the future would take care of itself whenever it rolled around.
So I think that was probably it; that people knew I would make them laugh or help them have a good time and they would never have to worry about anything when they spent time with me. And maybe also because I treated everyone as a friend and people liked that.
Making friends was one of the things I was better at than most people. I mean, what’s the point of being alive if you don’t have friends? And the best way to have friends was to be a friend, which came easy to me. I liked everyone; everyone except my father, that is.
I guess the point is, unlike my father, I liked people and people seemed to know that and be attracted to me for that reason; and though I didn’t think about it very much, knowing that made me happy and being happy and having fun were the most important things in life I could think of.
Whenever I did think, of course, which was rare. Playing and having fun were a lot more important to me than thinking.
Thinking too much could give you a headache.
By the time I finished my shower and got dressed, Tommy had arrived. Soon enough we were on our way to the lake. Like I said, Tommy and me had been best friends forever, but there were times when he could be a pain in the butt.
As we trudged up Kemp Avenue toward the lake, today turned out to be one of those times. He was complaining about everything, even his new job. That was annoying because everyone knew he loved that job.
In spite of that, he was going on about how hard it was and how little he made and how he didn’t like being cooped up inside all day during the summer; and when he finished with all of that he started complaining about how the two of us never spent any time together anymore.
“I thought we were best friends, Jimmy. You’re always telling me that and I thought we were, but these days I hardly ever see you at all. You spend all your time with Jeff.”
“Am I with Jeff now?” I said, proud of myself for completely destroying his argument.
“No,” he replied, “but that’s only because he has that second job and he’s working right now. If he shows up at the lake later today, you’ll leave me alone and go talk to him. Don’t you ever get enough of that guy?”
“Why does it bother you so much?” I asked. “You’re the one with the summer job, not me. You work all day and then complain you’re too tired to do anything at night whenever I ask. Am I supposed to sit around all the time by myself just waiting for you to get rested up?”
“Besides, unlike Jeff, you don’t have car. That makes a big difference, you know, him having wheels; you can do a lot more in this crummy town when someone like Jeff has wheels.”
It was the truth. Riding around town in Jeff’s car every night made everything better because there was a lot more you could do when you weren’t tied down to the same boring neighborhood.
“Yeah; I bet the two of you do a lot more together,” Tommy replied, placing his fist near his groin and making the jerking off motion.
“Oh brother; is that what you think?” I asked, annoyed. “That I whack off with Jeff? I don’t. Why are you so jealous of him?”
“I’m not jealous,” he responded, “not at all. I just think it’s strange, that’s all. Don’t you?”
“What’s strange?” I asked, confused.
“That some college guy spends all his free time with you. I mean, you’re fourteen after all. He’s what; twenty, twenty-one? What’s the big attraction?”
“I’m going to be fifteen in a couple of weeks, Tommy,” I shot back. “Remember? My mom said she would bake a cake and I could have some friends over to celebrate. If you’re nice, I might even invite you. The point is I’m almost fifteen.”
“Big deal,” he replied; “so you’re almost fifteen. What difference does that make? Jeff’s still older than you. He’ll be a senior in college come fall. You’ll only be a sophomore in high school.”
“He isn’t that much older than us, Tommy,” I countered. “He’s just turned twenty a couple of months ago. He’s the same age as Kevin.”
Kevin was Tommy’s older brother. He and Jeff had been in high school together.
“You’re missing the point,” Tommy responded. “There’s a difference between being in college and high school. When was the last time some other college student showed any interest in you?”
“Just last week,” I pushed back. “Kevin was all over my case for making fun of him. He’s in college.”
“That’s different,” Tommy said. “We’re best friends and he’s my brother so it’s hard for you to avoid him. I still think it’s kind of strange Jeff spends so much time with you. I don’t understand why.”
“I don’t know,” I replied, exasperated. “Unlike some people who claim to be my best friend, maybe he actually likes me.”
“Maybe he does like you, doofus, and you’re too stupid to understand why,” Tommy responded, spitting the words back at me.
Hearing him say that was irritating. Both of us knew Tommy was the smarter one, but he hardly ever held that over me; just like I never held it over him that I was the more popular one, the one with more friends.
“Understand what?” I asked, more confused than ever by now.
“That maybe he’s interested in more than your charming personality.”
“Like what?” I asked, challenging him.
“I dunno,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders. “Like I said, I just think it’s strange he spends so much time with you. It seems like the two of you spend every waking minute together these days.”
“You’re exaggerating,” I responded, trying to dismiss the whole thing.
“No, I’m not; you spend your mornings with him up at Kemp Park, don’t you?” Tommy said.
“Sure,” I replied, “but that’s because I have to be there to help him out with the team. You’re the one who roped me into helping him out with that.”
“Okay; but what about the afternoons?” he asked. “Ricky says you’re spending all afternoon with him at the playground except when your mother puts you to work doing some job around the house.”
Ricky was Tommy’s little brother. He played shortstop on the summer league baseball team Jeff and I coached.
“What else am I supposed to do, Tommy?” I asked. “We used to go swimming in the afternoons, but you’re not around anymore now that your father got you that job at the Transcript. Jeff asked me to help him out keeping an eye on the little kids at the playground. I don’t have anything better to do.”
“And what about after the playground closes?” Tommy continued, pressing his point.
“What about it?” I replied.
“Ricky says the two of you go swimming at the lake every day once it does.”
“Big deal,” I replied. “I’m not the only one who goes swimming with him, Tommy. You’ve gone with us a couple of times when you got off work early; so have some of the other guys.”
“Yeah, but you go with him every afternoon, Jimmy.”
“So what if I do?” I responded, exasperated how he was making a mountain out of a molehill. “In case you haven’t noticed, Tommy, it’s hot out for crying out loud. When did it become a crime to go swimming? It’s fun to cool off at the end of the day, especially when I can get a ride to the lake and back home with Jeff instead of having to walk both ways.”
“What about after dinner?” Tommy challenged, relentlessly pressing his case. “He lives across town, but comes by the school every night and then the two of you go off in his car and do stuff together.”
“So what,” I said. “You’ve driven around town with us some nights; so have Billy, Chris and Matt.”
“Yeah, but you’re the one who spends every night hanging around with him; not me or the rest of the guys.”
“Look, Tommy,” I asked, annoyed, “are you accusing me of something? If you are, spit it out.”
“No; I’m not accusing you of anything. You’re my best friend, Jimmy. I trust you. But sometimes you’re too easy-going and fun-loving for your own good. Don’t you think it’s kind of strange Jeff spends so much time with you rather than someone his own age; or a girl for that matter. Does he even have a girlfriend?”
“How would I know,” I replied, shaking my head; “honestly, I don’t understand why any of this bothers you so much.”
“I dunno,” he said. “It just makes me wonder whether maybe he could be one of those . . . one of those, uh . . . you know . . . one of those . . . .”
“One of those what?” I responded, uncertain what he was trying to say.
“You know; one of those homos,” Tommy said, suddenly lowering his voice even though no one was around to hear him say it to me. “Maybe he’s a fairy, Jimmy. Did you ever think about that?”
I hadn’t thought about that; and not having thought about it, hearing him say it shocked me.
“You can’t be serious, Tommy,” I responded, caught by surprise. “Why would you think something like that?”
“It’s not just me, Jimmy,” he said. “I happened to mention how much time the two of you are spending together to Kevin. He says there were rumors about Jeff back when the two of them were in high school together.”
“Rumors,” I asked; “what kind of rumors?”
“That he was a fairy; I mean, Kevin says no one was absolutely certain of that at the time. But he didn’t have a girlfriend in high school or play sports back then or hang around with the rest of the guys. He was always off by himself. He didn’t have any friends.”
“That’s it?” I replied. “Some people thought he might be a fairy because he didn’t hang around with them?”
“Okay; you’re right,” Tommy continued. “Ordinarily I wouldn’t think anything about it, but then he ends up getting the job for the summer as the playground supervisor at Houghton. I wasn’t suspicious or anything, at least not at first. He seems like an okay guy and Ricky likes him; he says he’s a pretty good coach.”
“But then the two of you started spending so much time together. It just makes me wonder. I mean, has he ever . . . .”
“Oh, never mind,” he said, dropping whatever he was about to say.
“What?” I asked. “Has he ever what?”
“Has he ever touched you or suggested you do stuff together? I mean sex stuff.”
“No,” I replied, quickly. “He never has. I mean, hell, Tommy, I knew Kevin was obsessed with homos, but I didn’t know you were as well. Is that what you think; that I’m a homo?”
“No, of course not,” he responded. “You’re my best friend, Jimmy. You may be a doofus sometimes, but you’re normal. I know that. It’s just that I don’t know what to think anymore.”
“Look, Tommy, I don’t know anything about homos except what you’ve told me, but aren’t you the one who said they dress up like girls; that they walk funny and talk funny and prance around in tutus like they’re ballerinas or something?”
“Yeah, I remember telling you that. That’s what Kevin told me one time.”
“Well, there you go,” I said. “Have you ever seen Jeff dressed up like a girl? Does he talk funny or walk funny or behave like a girl to you?”
“No,” Tommy responded, conceding the point. “He seems normal enough. But I don’t know very much about homos either; just what Kevin tells me. Maybe Jeff’s just pretending to be normal because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s one.”
“And maybe you’re just pretending to be normal for all I know,” I replied, exasperated again; “maybe I’m pretending. I mean, the whole thing is stupid. Anyone could be a homo if that’s the case. Your brother could be a homo for all we know. He seems to love talking about them all the time, that’s for sure.”
“That’s stupid,” Tommy responded. “Kevin, a homo? You have to be kidding. But maybe you’re right; maybe I’m being too suspicious.”
“You are,” I said. “Like I told you, he’s never touched me or done anything like that. Jeff’s just bored like the rest of us with having to be in this crummy town all summer. He’s just looking for someone to do things with to relieve the boredom; that’s all.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Tommy said. “It’s just we’re best friends and I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“Like what?” I said. “I mean, it seems like Kevin sees homos behind every bush for some reason. I don’t know why. What’s the big deal about homos? I’ve never run into one and I bet you haven’t either.”
“I haven’t,” Tommy agreed. “And, yeah, it’s true; Kevin’s a little obsessed with them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not out there looking for guys like us; just waiting to pounce if we let our guard down. I mean, homos are, uh, you know, different; not normal like us. They want to have sex with boys, not girls.”
“I don’t understand what that means,” I replied, dismissing the point. “I understand how boys and girls have sex. You taught me all about that last year. But how would a boy have sex with another boy? It’s not like they have one of those things; you know, one of those virgina things.”
“Oh for crying out loud; even you can’t be that stupid, Jimmy,” Tommy said, exasperated with me. “I know all you think about these days is popping some girl’s cherry, but my brother says homos are cocksuckers. They like giving blowjobs to other boys. And it’s vagina, doofus, not virgina.”
The moment he said it a light went off in my head. I had never thought about that before; one guy sucking another guy’s cock.
So that’s what they do; that’s what the big deal is all about?
“And, uh, they do other stuff too; worse stuff,” Tommy continued, lowering his voice again.
“Like what?” I asked, curious.
“How should I know?” he responded. “Kevin doesn’t tell me everything, but he says some of the other stuff they do is even more disgusting; although I don’t know how anything could be more disgusting than being a cocksucker. Do you?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Being a journalist is probably more disgusting.”
I said that because that’s what Tommy wanted to be when he got older, a journalist, so I knew saying that would annoy him.
“Would you be serious for once in your life, Jimmy?” he asked, exasperated with me.
“I am being serious,” I replied. “And if it helps, Jeff’s never offered to suck my cock or do anything else like that either. So you don’t have to worry about anything bad happening to me, Tommy. Are you happy now?”
“Yeah;” Tommy replied. “I mean, I know you’re not a homo, Jimmy; I know you like girls. I just wanted to raise it so you’d on guard if he ever tried anything funny. But you’re probably right; if he was going to try something funny, he would have probably done it by now. I’m sorry I even mentioned it.”
“You should be,” I replied, shaking my head. “I hope you haven’t said anything about this to anyone because that’s how rumors get started; and it’d be a shame if you hurt someone’s reputation by spreading nasty rumors like that. I would never do something like that even if I knew for sure someone was a homo. Why do people even care about stuff like that? What’s it to them?”
“I haven’t mentioned it to anyone else and I’m not going to,” Tommy reassured me. “If you trust him, that’s good enough for me.”
“I do trust him,” I said. “Jeff’s a nice guy; I like him.”
“Do you like him as much as me?” Tommy asked.
Suddenly it dawned on me what our entire conversation had been about all along. I should have realized that. Now, knowing how needy Tommy could be at times, I gave him the answer he was looking for while adding my own little twist.
“Of course not,” I said. “We’re best friends, Tommy; always have been, always will be. Hell, I’d even let you suck my cock if you want.”
He looked at me strangely for a moment and I tried to pretend I was serious, but I couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across my face.
“Don’t hold your breath waiting,” he replied, rolling his eyes and sticking his tongue out at me. “I’m not a homo and neither are you.”
By that time we were descending the hill that led down to the lake.
“I’ll race you there,” I said.
So that’s what we did. The two of us raced down the hill and across the street to the lake; and even though I was faster and more athletic than Tommy, I slowed down toward the end and let him catch up. He was my best friend after all and that’s what best friends did.
They didn’t try to show up one another.
They tried to make each other feel good about themselves.