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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.
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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 24, 1016: I am having major problems uploading files to my WordPress Media Library. After much time and effort, I was finally able to get the pdf version of this chapter uploaded tonight. However, the solution I used is not a viable one for the long term. Unless things change, I may have to abandon my WordPress sites. If that happens, I apologize, but I simply cannot afford to invest any more time and effort in managing these sites than I already do. I spend far too much time already and it simply isn’t worth the effort anymore.
It was Friday evening and I was on my way home from McDonald’s. I had been working there full-time ever since graduating from high school in May. It wasn’t the greatest job in the world, but it was better than working for the old man. And now, after another crummy week flipping burgers, I was glad the weekend had finally arrived.
Tommy was walking home with me. He had been working at the Transcript forever and could have gotten a ride home with his father that day. But because he was my best friend and knew how frustrated I was, he had stopped by McDonald’s to keep me company the final forty five minutes before I could hang up my apron and go home.
I had sneaked him some fries while the boss wasn’t looking to show my appreciation. He had nibbled on them while waiting for me. And now at last we were finally on the way home and I was tired; more than tired, really. I was frustrated.
Part of it was the job. As much as I hated flipping burgers, I hated being on my feet all day at least as much. More importantly, it was August and only a matter of weeks before Tommy would be leaving for college. Once he did, I’d be on my own; alone.
Tommy had always been the smart one, the ambitious one, the hard worker. And now he was about to get the chance to do what he wanted to do. He was going to study journalism and then become the reporter he always wanted to be.
There was a part of me that was happy for him. Knowing what he wanted to do when he got older, he had studied hard in high school and it had paid off when he got accepted at the University of Massachusetts.
Me? I hadn’t even bothered applying to college. I was just an average student in school, maybe even a below average one. I had never really applied myself when it came to the books. If it hadn’t been for Tommy helping me out, I probably would have flunked out.
I’m not complaining. I just wasn’t into studying that much, but now I was finding out how hard it could be when all you had to show for your life was a high school graduation certificate. My father had offered me a job at the mini-mart he owned on Union Street and he probably would have paid at least as much as McDonald’s. My mother would have made him do that.
He wanted me to buy the place and run it when he retired in ten or twenty years. But that would have meant spending all day with the old man and I wasn’t interested in doing that. He was always on my ass about one thing or another. That being the case, taking the job at McDonald’s had seemed like a no-brainer at the time.
But I was wrong about that.
I had only been working there flipping burgers a couple of months, but it hadn’t taken me very long to figure out just what a dead end job it was. I was only making minimum wage; and even though my parents weren’t charging me rent for my room at home, I was barely making enough to survive.
I couldn’t even afford my own apartment or car!
“So what do you think I should do?” I asked Tommy, breaking the silence that had engulfed us after we left McDonald’s.
It wasn’t the first time I had asked him that question and by now I was pretty certain what he would say.
“Have you thought some more about joining the Navy?” he asked.
I had thought about that and already knew the answer, but I let him make the pitch still again. He had already made it several times.
“You know, now that the war is over, the chances of getting killed are pretty slim,” he said, trying to put a positive spin on things.
Both of us knew some of the older boys in town who had died in the war.
“It’s not like Nixon can do anything about it either,” he added. “They’re going to impeach that bastard any day now; and as much as he would probably welcome some foreign distraction to avoid that, he’s too weak to do something like that. At least that’s what my father says.”
“I mean, being in the service isn’t that bad, Jimmy, especially the Navy,” he continued. “You get to see the world and learn a trade in the process. You could even make a career of it if you wanted. A lot of guys do. What’s so bad about joining the Navy?”
“I hear you,” I replied, “but it’s still risky. Even if they impeach Nixon, there’s no guarantee they won’t send the troops back to Vietnam if something happens; or start a new war somewhere else for that matter.”
“I don’t want to end up like Walt Johnson and some of the other guys from town; getting my ass blown off. I heard Walt was shot up so bad they couldn’t even open the casket when they waked him.”
“And it’s not like I enjoy being bossed around either, Tommy. You know what I mean? I’m not very good when it comes to taking orders. I like being in charge. Giving orders, not taking them.”
“If that’s the case, how about making a career at McDonald’s?” he asked, abandoning his first line of attack. “If you work hard, maybe the owner will make you a shift manager and who knows what could happen after that. I know how much you hate the place, Jimmy, but you’d probably be happier as a manager. You’d be giving plenty of orders then.”
“That dude hates me,” I responded; “says I’m shiftless and lazy. He’s the one that’s lazy. He never lifts a finger to help us out even when the place is mobbed. There’s no way in hell I’m going to work at McDonald’s the rest of my life.”
“What about going to work for you father then?” Tommy asked, hesitantly. “It’s not like it would be forever. He’s going to retire some day and then you’d be your own boss.”
He already knew what my answer to that would be.
“No way,” I responded, emphatically. “I’m not going to work for that man. Hell, even if he was easy to work for, which he isn’t, what kind of life would that be? Running a freaking mini-mart? There isn’t any future in that.”
“People aren’t going to pay more for stuff from a mini-mart when they can get it cheaper at one of the big supermarkets. Ever since the Big Y opened down the road, it’s cut into his business a lot. He’s always bitching about the Big Y.”
“I think he can hold on for a couple more years and then sell the place and retire,” I continued. “But I’m not interested in buying it from him. That’s a dead end. I don’t think places like that will be around anymore in twenty years.”
“Maybe you could take a course or two at North Adams State?” Tommy suggested, tentatively. “In a year or two you could save up enough money to go to Berkshire Community or even UMass; and by then you would have gotten some of the requirements out of the way.”
“I’m not as smart as you, Tommy,” I responded. “You know that. I know you think I’m smarter than I am, but, hell, I doubt I would have gotten through high school without your help. Which I appreciate by the way. Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate it and I’m happy to see you going to college. I know how important that is to you. But I’m just not that smart.”
By then both of us knew we had exhausted the topic. It wasn’t the first time we had discussed my future. Both of us knew how it would end, but each of us kept hoping something new would emerge if we talked about it again.
It just never did.
“Damn; I’m going to miss you, Tommy,” I said. “I mean, I’m really happy for you even though I’m going to miss you a lot. I know how much you want to be a journalist and you’re going to be a great one too. I know it. But you’re going off to UMass in a couple of weeks and I’m going to be stuck in this two bit town without a best friend for the rest of my life. What am I going to do?”
Just thinking about it was depressing, but Tommy always knew how to cheer me up and he quickly played his trump card.
“It’ll work out,” he responded. “You’ll find something to do. You need to get yourself a new girlfriend, Jimmy. That’s why you’ve been so depressed lately. You’ve haven’t been getting your rocks off for months. That’s enough to drive anyone insane.”
“And it’s not like it’d be a big problem finding a new girlfriend,” he continued; “not for you. All the girls are crazy about you, Jimmy. You know that. Find yourself a new girlfriend and that’ll solve all your problems.”
“It isn’t that bad a life,” he added, grinning at me. “All the girls put out for you.”
He was only partly right about that. Like he said, lots of the girls had the hots for me. If you counted hand jobs and getting sucked off as sex, I had done pretty well for myself with the girls.
But only two had let me into their pussies, including my last girlfriend; and while I liked that, at least mostly liked it, she had dumped me just before Christmas the previous year and I hadn’t been in any big rush to find a new girlfriend given my experience with girls.
“Yeah; you’re right about that,” I replied. “It’s probably time for a new girlfriend. I mean, it isn’t as easy as you think these days what with it being summer. But some of the girls still come by McDonald’s to flirt with me. It wouldn’t take much to find a new girlfriend.”
“But you know what, Tommy? All the girls are the same. No matter what they tell you, they’re all looking to get married. They want a husband to support them so they can get pregnant and have babies; and then once they have them, they’re not so anxious to put out anymore. They’re all the same that way, Tommy.”
“Hell, take care of a girl?” I added, scoffing. “I can barely take care of myself. I’m too young to get married and there’s no way I’m ready to be a father, at least not anytime soon. Maybe in a few years.”
“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I like having sex as much as the next guy, but I’ll be spending half of what I make at McDonald’s on rubbers if I get a new girlfriend. I hate those things; it’s like swimming in your socks and underwear at the lake. You get cooled off, but it isn’t much fun with something clinging to you once you’re finished.”
“But what choice do you have? There’s no way I’m letting myself get trapped into marriage by some girl. You got no choice. You got to use rubbers.”
“No one’s saying you have to marry them, Jimmy,” he replied. “But you can have a lot of fun with them until they figure out you’re never going to propose to them.”
“They talk about that, you know,” I said. “They talk about the different boys when they get together by themselves. Melissa told me that once. They talk about which of us is open to getting married and who the best husbands and fathers would be.”
“Of course, every girl thinks she’s special,” I added, grinning at him. “No matter how many girls you’ve dumped, every one of them thinks she’s the one; that she can make you propose and turn you into an upstanding husband and father.”
“That’s because you’re so good at making them think you really like them, Jimmy,” Tommy added, winking at me. “I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is you have the magic touch. They all believe you’re so sweet, so sincere; so cute and adorable.”
“I am sweet and sincere,” I protested. “I’ve never had sex with a girl I didn’t care about; at least care about some. I just don’t want to get married. Why can’t they understand that? Why can’t they just enjoy spending time together and having a good time in bed? Sex is about having fun. What’s so hard to understand about that?”
“But no,” I continued. “It’s like they’re on some kind of clock. The minute you start dating them the clock goes off and they’re only willing to give you so much time before you pop the question. If you don’t pop the question on their timeline, they don’t want to put out anymore.”
“Well, you would know,” Tommy said, grinning at me. “I may or may not be smarter than you, but you’re definitely number one when it comes to bedding the girls. Just how many have you slept with, Jimmy? Inquiring minds want to know.”
“You know I’m not into kiss and tell, Tommy,” I replied, evading the question. “But it’s not as many as you and the rest of the guys seem to think. I mean, yeah, sure, I’ve dated a lot of girls, but I haven’t had sex with all of them.”
Two really, I recall thinking. Melissa had been the last, but she broke up with me just before Christmas when I told her no; that I wasn’t planning to pop the question anytime soon.
“No one believes you, Jimmy,” Tommy replied, laughing. “All of the guys know you’re lying about that; that you’ve slept with a ton of girls. But I admire you for that; for not telling which of them put out for you. Whatever else you may be, you’re a gentleman. That’s probably why so many of the girls like dating you. They know you won’t go around spreading rumors about them.”
“Damn straight,” I said. “Girls pick up on that you know; they pick up on guys who like flapping their mouths. They won’t date them.”
“It pays to be a gentleman,” I added, grinning at Tommy.
By that time we had finished trudging up the hill and reached his house.
“So look, Tommy, what about tonight?” I asked. “Do you want to drive over to Petersburg and get blasted with me? If you don’t want to drink, I have a few joints as well. We could smoke them together.”
Petersburg was a small town just across the border in New York State that kids from the surrounding towns in Massachusetts and Vermont descended on every weekend. You could drink in New York at eighteen and by now I was spending most of my weekends and a lot of my paycheck there.
“I would, but I have a date with Jill tonight,” he responded. “We’re going to the movies.”
I mean I was happy for Tommy. He would have a good time that evening, at least at the movie. Jill wouldn’t put out for him even if he tried, which he probably wouldn’t. Tommy was shy about stuff like that. He didn’t really know how to seduce a girl; even if he did, he probably wouldn’t have.
He was too nice for one thing. But more than anything else he was focused on the future; going to college, getting the degree, and then becoming a reporter and rising through the ranks. He was ambitious, no doubt about it, and he wasn’t about to let some stupid girl stand in his way.
He liked girls as best I could tell, but mostly as friends. He would go to the movies or take in a game with them or whatever. He might even dream about doing something with them when he whacked off at home late at night.
But actually do something with a girl? It wasn’t going to happen and sometimes I wondered whether he even wanted it to happen.
But I didn’t tell him that, of course. He was my best friend; knowing he was going on a date, it was important to boost his ego.
“That’s great,” I said. “Just don’t do anything with Jill I wouldn’t do,” I said, winking at him.
“Oh, I won’t; I won’t,” he replied, returning my wink with a grin.
We had the kind of friendship where you did things like that; where I would let him know I thought he was some kind of Don Juan with the girls and he would pretend he was even though both of us knew nothing would ever happen.
It was the code of boyhood; and even though both of us were toward the outer edge of boyhood by now, we still adhered to the code rigorously when it came to the subject of girls.
Turning, I started to walk away.
“Hey, Jimmy,” he said. “I forgot to mention something.”
“What?” I asked.
“You’ll never guess who’s back in town.”
“Jeff,” he replied; “Jeff Landry.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, surprised. “What’s he doing back here? Wasn’t he working on some advanced degree or some kind of shit like that at UMass?”
“He was and he got it,” Tommy replied, “and now he’s working for some guy running for Congress; some Democrat. My father interviewed him for the Transcript today.”
“It’s funny,” he continued. “I was looking at my father’s schedule for the day like I always do and saw he was going to be interviewing Jeff at 2:00 o’clock. I mentioned to him how I knew Jeff and he brought me along to the interview. It was kind of interesting actually.”
“Like I said, he’s working for this guy named John H. Bresnahan; Jack Bresnahan is what he goes by. He’s the Democrat running for Congress this year and my Dad says he has a pretty good chance of being elected.”
“Jeff’s his coordinator for Berkshire County and I think he must be pretty close to the guy because he was explaining his position on all the issues, not just passing out position papers like your ordinary campaign flunky.”
“Did he recognize you?” I asked.
“He did. We actually talked for a while after my Dad finished the interview and was transcribing his notes and developing an outline for the story. But, yeah, he remembered me; and he even asked about you. I told him you were working at McDonald’s. I thought he might stop by before you finished your shift. As I recall, you and he were pretty tight a couple of summers ago.”
“Did he do that, Jimmy? Did he stop by?”
“No;” I responded. “He didn’t. He was probably just being polite asking about me.”
“Maybe; but the reason I mentioned it was I know your father won’t let you have the car tonight to go over to New York and I knew I had a date with Jill. I don’t know if Jeff still has a car, but maybe he would take you over to New York if he does.”
“He mentioned he was having a meeting with some of the campaign volunteers tonight at their office on Main Street. I think he said it was at 8:00 p.m. You should go by. Maybe you could persuade him to go drinking with you.”
“Who knows?” I said. “I haven’t seen him in years, but I’m pretty tired at the moment. It was a long day and the walk home doesn’t help. I wish I made enough money to get some kind of used car, even a crummy one.”
“Yeah; I understand,” Tommy said. “It was just an idea.”
“Thanks,” I replied.
Walking into the house a couple minutes later, I decided to take a shower. Flipping burgers eight hours a day is a sure fire recipe for feeling filthy when you finish up. I spent twenty or thirty minutes getting cleaned up, at one point even arousing myself in the shower.
But I didn’t follow through on that for some reason. Whacking off just didn’t do it for me that much anymore.
After drying myself off and putting on some clean clothes, I felt a lot better. Having checked myself out in the mirror to make sure I looked appropriately cool like that dude Fonzie on some new TV program Tommy and I liked watching together, I went downstairs and joined my parents in the living room.
Like all the old people I knew, they were planted in front of the television on Friday night and would remain there all evening. I stood there quietly just staring at them from behind.
Is this what you’ve got to look forward to, Jimmy?
Working all day, then plopping your ass in front of the boob tube and watching a bunch of stupid programs before finally going to bed without getting any because you no longer give a shit about anything, including sex?
Then getting up and doing the same thing the next day until you die of boredom and they plop you into a box and bury you?
Jimmy shook his head, disgusted with the prospect.
Be nice to the old man, Jimmy, the inner voice counseled. Maybe he’ll surprise you and let you have the car tonight.
Right, I responded. Like there’s any chance of that happening.
“How’s it going, Dad; how was business this week?” I asked, trying to pretend I cared.
“Lousy,” he said, not even bothering to take his eyes off the television to acknowledge my presence. He just lifted the can of beer and took another swig.
“And if you’re getting ready to ask for the car tonight, Jimmy, you can forget about it. It’s bad enough you never fill the tank when I let you have it, but I already know what you want it for and there’s no way in hell I’m going to let you take it so you can get drunk over in New York.”
“What if I told you I had a date tonight and needed the car so we could go to the movies?” I asked.
“I would say you’re lying, Jimmy; you haven’t had a date in months. I’m not surprised the girls have figured out just what a loser you are. You seem to prefer spending your weekends over in New York these days in any event; wasting what little money you earn on booze and probably on pot too for all I know.”
“You’re never going to get anywhere in life, Jimmy,” he continued. “Your mother told you to study hard in school so you could make something of yourself. But did you listen to her? No; of course not.”
“I offered you a good job at the mini-mart, but did you take it? No; you went to work for that horse meat factory up from the Big Y.”
“That’s the problem with you, Jimmy. You’re stupid. You never make the right decisions. You’d rather spend your time drinking beer or smoking pot; and you expect me to help you out by giving you the car?”
“No way! Get one of those worthless friends of yours to give you a ride over to New York.”
His reaction didn’t surprise me. I knew what he was going to say even before he did.
“I love you, too, Dad,” I said. “And thanks for all the helpful advice.”
“Don’t be a wise-ass, Jimmy.”
“I’m going out,” I said, turning to my mother. “I’m probably going down to Noel Field to see what’s happening there. If I run into someone, I may spend the night at their house.”
“Call if you do, Jimmy,” she replied; “and please don’t go drinking over in New York. You know how dangerous that is and how much I worry about you. I want you to think about those three boys from Williamstown who ended up getting killed driving back from New York two weeks ago. They were drunk and drove their car off the road and into a tree and now they’re dead. I don’t want that happening to you, Jimmy.”
“I know you don’t, Mom,” I said. “I’ll be good.”
“Be sure to call if you plan to stay over with a friend,” she said.
“If it’s not too late to call by the time I decide, I’ll try,” I replied. “I’ll probably be home thanks to Dad, but it might be late so don’t wait up for me.”
Kissing her on the cheek, I walked outside and looked around.
What now, Jimmy?