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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 For 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.
It had been years since I had sex with Jimmy or anyone else for that matter. After he left I had done my best to sublimate my sexual urges by focusing on work. When the need for sexual release became overpowering, as it did all too often, masturbation had provided the necessary relief. But now Jimmy was back living with me and I was thinking about sex all the time.
Even knowing Jimmy was infected with a deadly disease didn’t help as much as you might think. Yes, it was scary and knowing the risks involved in having sex with Jimmy was holding me back. But it did little to stop the urge to do so. If anything, the urge seemed to become stronger with each passing day.
At first I was embarrassed by the desire, even ashamed of myself. I felt guilty thinking about sex so much.
Jimmy is dying, Jeff!
He’s dying and all you can think about is your own need for sexual gratification?
You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re supposed to be an adult.
How can you be so self-centered, so selfish, when the person you love is dying?
Grow up for crying out loud!
When that didn’t work I tried to persuade myself that what I was feeling was normal, something anyone who genuinely loved another person would feel.
You and Jimmy experienced a deep and powerful intimacy years ago and there’s something almost primeval about that.
Everyone has a need for intimacy, Jeff. It’s normal.
You just have to keep your baser instincts in check. Just remember that Jimmy is very sick and has moved on from all of that.
He has more important things to worry about than sex.
But trying to be noble didn’t help either. It just made me wonder.
Why, Jeff? You’ve done just fine all these years without having sex.
Why this sudden interest in sex?
The answer was obvious, of course. Jimmy was back in the house, still as cute as ever, as sexy as ever, with those killer eyes and enchanting smile and that hot body of his that drove me crazy whenever I looked at it.
I wanted him.
I wanted my legs up in the air.
I wanted him inside me.
I wanted to make love to his cock with my mouth in the morning like we had done so often when we were living together before.
Like I said, I tried to deny it, to suppress it, to forget about it; to tell myself it was just the residual memories from a time long ago and that those memories would fade soon enough. But instead of fading they only seemed to grow more intense and powerful with each passing day.
It was driving me crazy.
It didn’t help knowing I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling. In the therapy sessions for couples that Jimmy and I attended at Whitman Walker, it was a recurring point of discussion. More than the physical effects of the disease, it was the loss of intimacy that others seemed devastated by as well.
Although I was feeling the same thing, I refused to be drawn into those discussions. I was embarrassed for one thing and didn’t want Jimmy to know the effect his presence was having on me. And yet, like I said, no matter how much I berated myself, how much I tried to tough it out, I couldn’t get over it.
I wanted to be fucked and that scared me.
It scared me because of the disease I could see taking a toll on Jimmy with each passing day. But it also scared me for another reason. The truth is I didn’t know exactly what Jimmy had done all those years we were living apart; how many guys he had been with or whether he had enjoyed having sex with them more than me.
Why does it matter, Jeff? He’s living with you now, not someone else.
And yet, as much as I realized the lust was still there for me, I wondered whether Jimmy felt the same way; whether he wanted to have sex with me as much as I did with him.
One evening Jimmy begged off attending one of our therapy sessions together. He wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t about to bug him about it. But I felt like I needed to go to lend support to the other participants. So that’s what I did.
And then, as the discussion progressed, there it was again, the ten ton elephant in the room; the devastation being wreaked on so many lives by the loss of intimacy.
Without Jimmy present, I finally gathered the courage to join in.
“I don’t know,” I said, “maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like every time we revisit this topic it’s always the guy without AIDS who brings it up. Why is that? I mean, I know those of you with AIDS are quick to nod your head and agree that the loss of intimacy is a terrible thing. But I can’t recall one of you ever raising it on your own.”
“Is it different for you?” I asked. “Is the loss of intimacy more just a theoretical thing; not the heart-pounding, gut-wrenching, loss it seems to be for your boyfriends?”
“It’s pretty heart-pounding and gut-wrenching for me,” a younger boy named Michael finally replied. “But I really don’t like discussing it that much. I always feel guilty whenever we do.”
“Why?” I asked. “Why should you of all people feel guilty?”
“Because I feel like having the disease is my fault and that I’m depriving my boyfriend of the companionship he needs,” Michael replied. “In my head, I know we can’t have sex, at least the kind of sex we used to; the kind both of us enjoyed so much. Because if we had that kind of sex the chances I would transmit the disease to my boyfriend would be high and that would be even more devastating for me than having the disease myself.”
“I love my boyfriend,” he continued. “I want what’s best for him. I certainly don’t want to kill him by transmitting this disease to him. And yet I feel guilty. I still love my boyfriend as much as I ever did; and yet I know he’d be better off without me because then he could find someone without the disease and be happy again. As it is, he feels compelled to stay with me because I’m sick. That makes me feel guilty.”
“I don’t feel compelled to stay with you, Michael,” his boyfriend interjected. “I stay with you because I love you; and I feel guilty too, not knowing whether I was the one who gave you the disease or not. But the memory of what we used to have compared to what we have now? It’s not easy. I just wish I could push time back to before you were diagnosed so we could have the happy times again.”
And then he started to cry. Leaning over, Michael hugged him.
Why is that? I recall asking myself.
Why is it always the person without the disease who seems the most broken up about it, Jeff?
Is it because the person with the disease knows there will be a definitive end for him in the not too distant future while the person not infected will have to live the rest of his life with the knowledge of what’s been lost?
“I’m sorry I raised the question,” I said, apologizing. “I shouldn’t have.”
“It’s okay, Jeff,” Michael said. “I’ve spent a lot of time watching you in these sessions; wondering exactly what you were thinking and feeling. You miss it, don’t you, Jeff? You miss the intimacy you used to have with Jimmy.”
“I do,” I replied.
“You need to talk to him about it,” Michael said. “You can’t keep it all bottled up inside you. You need to talk to Jimmy about it. He’ll understand.”
“I don’t want him to understand,” I said. “I want him not to be sick. I want the two of us to make love like we used to.”
“Talk to him, Jeff,” Michael said once again. “You’ll never know how he feels without talking to him; and you’ll never know what’s possible either if you don’t. That’s what condoms are for, aren’t they, Russ?” he added, smiling at his partner.
“Yeah,” Russ agreed. “But it’s not the same.”
“And it’s not recommended, of course,” Ned interjected quickly. “Condoms can break.”
“I don’t understand what you guys are talking about,” I said, confused.
“Oh, that’s right, you weren’t here a couple of weeks ago when we had our discussion about condoms, were you, Jeff?” Ned said. “I forgot you weren’t here. The point is, we had a long and somewhat heated discussion a few weeks ago about whether using condoms would prevent the transmission of the disease.”
“No one knows where it started, but word seems to be going around on the streets these days that condoms protect against infection. There are some people in our group who are convinced that’s the case and that medical professionals and people like me are trying to prevent you and your partners from having sex by downplaying their effectiveness. Others disagree and feel like condoms provide a false sense of security.”
“We didn’t reach any consensus,” Ned continued. “I think most of the medical people and counselors like myself believe using condoms is better than having completely unprotected sex like some people are. But, like I said, condoms break. They also come off if not applied correctly. And people forget to use them in the heat of the moment, of course.”
“So there’s definitely a risk of infection, especially compared to abstinence, which is what most of the counselors here at Whitman Walker preach.”
“And it isn’t the same either,” Russ added. “Condoms are a barrier to the exchange of semen. I understand that, but they’re also a barrier to intimacy.”
“But they’re better than nothing, Russ, aren’t they?” Michael said, smiling.
“Yeah,” Russ said. “They’re better than nothing.”
“I don’t think it takes us very far to continue this discussion,” Ned said. “I don’t want to stop a discussion if people find it helpful, but it’s just something everyone will have to decide for themselves until we get some more definitive guidance from the government or the medical profession.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” someone in the back of the room volunteered.
“Has anyone thought of asking the Surgeon General’s office about this?” I asked.
“Uh, well, I don’t know,” Ned said. “That’s a good question, Jeff. But from what I’ve heard the Surgeon General is pretty conservative.”
“More to the point, he’s being kept out of the loop by Reagan’s political appointees,” the same person who had spoken up before volunteered.
That ended the discussion of the topic for the evening, but later I approached the guy who had spoken up. He was new to the group.
“Uh, well, excuse me for asking, but you seem to know more about what’s going on with this disease than most people,” I said. “Do you work for the government; and if so, are you working on AIDS?”
“Maybe,” he replied. “I work for the Health and Human Services Department, but I’ve already said more than I should.”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Silence kills. I work up on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress. We would like to see the government doing more about this disease than it is, but finding out what it’s already doing is hard. I’ve attended a couple of briefings for Hill staffers given by the Administration, but we never learn anything. I’d like to give you my card and ask you to call me if there’s something you think I should know.”
The guy took my card, but left without promising anything and I never saw him again after that. Like many people, he attended one session and then disappeared into thin air.
When I finally got back to my place that evening, I decided to go for a walk. I walked all the way down to the Mall and back. I tried to make sense of what I had heard about condoms during our discussion, but the more I thought about it the more confused I became.
All along I had assumed that having any form of sex with Jimmy was out of the question, but now I wasn’t certain about that.
Finally, exhausted, I made my way up the stairs to the front door, opened it, and went inside. The place was dark and I could tell Jimmy was already in bed. Making my way to the bathroom, I brushed my teeth, stripped off my clothes, and headed for the bedroom.
Lifting the sheets, there was enough light for me to see the outline of Jimmy’s body. The two of us had taken to wearing pajamas since deciding to sleep together, as if a cloth barrier would somehow save me from the disease.
But just looking at Jimmy’s body beneath the sheets that evening produced an erection. I remember being embarrassed and quickly slipped into bed, naked, without putting on my pajamas.
“Oh hi,” Jimmy said, stirring in bed, half-awake, half-asleep. “I didn’t hear you come in. What time is it?”
“It’s after midnight,” I replied.
“Midnight? Where have you been?” Jimmy asked.
“I was, uh, I was . . . I was at the couples session at Whitman Walker and then took a walk after I got home. I walked down to the Mall and back.”
“Really?” Jimmy said. “That’s a pretty long walk. Is something bothering you?”
“No; everything’s okay,” I replied, trying to reassure him.
“What happened at the session?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing much,” I replied. “Mostly the same old stuff that we’ve been over a million times; except for one thing that was new, at least to me.”
“What’s that?” Jimmy said.
“There was, uh . . . there was a discussion of condoms,” I said, trying not to betray any emotion.
“Really?” Jimmy said.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Michael mentioned it at one point; and then Ned said there had been a long discussion about condoms a few weeks ago when I wasn’t there.”
“Didn’t you go to that session without me?” I asked.
“I did,” Jimmy responded.
“Were you there when they discussed condoms?”
“I was,” he said.
“But you didn’t say anything about that to me?”
“I didn’t think it was important,” Jimmy replied.
“I see,” I said.
At that point the room fell silent. Jimmy turned around momentarily, kissed me on the cheek, and then collapsed back on to the bed.
“Hug me,” he said.
Rolling across the bed, I spooned up behind him. From the way we were positioned I realized Jimmy had to be aware of my erection, but he didn’t say anything. I remember wondering what he was thinking.
“Do you ever think about it?” I finally asked, frustrated by his silence.
“Think about what?” Jimmy replied.
“About sex,” I said.
“Sometimes,” he responded.
“Can I ask something or would you rather go to sleep?”
“No; you can ask whatever you want, Jeff.”
“Uh, I was wondering whether that’s why you left; because I didn’t satisfy you sexually and you found someone who could?” I asked, giving voice to a thought that had been haunting me ever since Jimmy moved back in.
Rolling over, Jimmy leaned on his elbow and looked at me.
“No; that’s not why I left, Jeff,” he replied. “You always satisfied me sexually, at least when we were living together. Things changed after I left, of course.”
“How?” I asked.
“Uh, well, in lots of ways,” Jimmy said. “I mean, after I left, I had sex with a ton of guys over the years. Not initially; at the beginning, I was with, uh . . . I was living with Bobbie and Charles and that’s a long story, one I’d prefer not to go into right now.”
“But after I left Bobbie and Charles I was on my own for the first time in my life; and I didn’t have anything except a high school degree, a cute smile, and a body guys seemed to like. So that’s pretty much how I made my way in the world, by sleeping with different guys; and obviously that’s how I got this disease as well.”
“I learned a lot of new things sexually after I left you, many of which I ended up liking, but I never felt as connected to anyone as I did to you, Jeff. I’m not lying about that. It’s the truth. I love you.”
“So why didn’t you come back then?” I asked.
“Because I was ashamed I had dumped you in the first place. I felt bad about that. And I was in New York, of course. That’s where Bobbie and Charles lived most of the time and so that’s where I lived after leaving you, at least initially. Coming back to Washington didn’t seem like an option at the time.”
“I see. Uh, well, can I ask something else?”
“Sure,” Jimmy replied.
“You said you had done things sexually after you left that we never did together and that you liked them. Can I ask what they were?”
“Why does it matter, Jeff?” he asked. “I mean, it’s not like it would change anything. I have AIDS. We can’t have sex. What’s the point of talking about things I liked years ago?”
“I’m just curious,” I said. “Like I mentioned, I’ve berated myself a lot for not satisfying you. I wish I had been a better lover for you.”
“You’re blaming yourself again,” Jimmy responded. “I don’t understand why. The truth is I’m the one to blame for what happened. I should have probably never come to Washington with you in the first place. I was young and had too much time on my hands and then I became friends with Eric and Bobbie.”
“But you shouldn’t blame yourself, Jeff,” Jimmy continued. “I loved having sex with you. What I learned after I left are things I didn’t know anything about before leaving. So it’s not like they were something missing from our relationship at the time. I was very satisfied with our relationship sexually.”
“Then why did you leave?” I asked, continuing to press the point even though I realized I shouldn’t be doing something like that.
“I don’t know,” Jimmy replied, sighing. “I guess it was partly because you were becoming less and less interested in having sex with me. Most of the time I just dismissed that as you being tired what with working so much. But there were other times when I wondered whether you were losing interest in me.”
“Why would you ever think something like that?” I asked. “I loved you; and I loved having sex with you.”
“I don’t know why,” he said. “It just seemed like the rest of the boys I knew back then were constantly changing their boyfriends. It was always easy to find someone new; and everyone always said how glad they were after making the change. That their new boyfriend was always better.”
“That was part of it, I suppose. Like they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Or maybe not; I don’t know. It’s hard to explain exactly. But it’s not like you didn’t satisfy me.”
“That’s what I don’t understand,” I said. “If I was satisfying you sexually, why would you leave?”
“It’s complicated, Jeff,” Jimmy replied. “Like I said, we started having sex less often the longer I was in Washington and that was scary. Because what would I do if you lost interest completely? Eric told me I needed a backup plan.”
“So that’s one thing,” he said. “And then I met Bobbie and Bobbie was, uh, different; a lot different from anyone I had ever met. I mean, he was my age and he was cute and he was from Bennington; and he was so masculine at times and then he would turn around and wear girl’s clothes and when he did he could be so feminine.”
“It was confusing because I was never sure whether I liked him more as a boy or a girl. He was beautiful both ways. But like I said, I don’t want to go into that.”
“Why not?” I asked. “Did you and Bobbie have sex?”
Jimmy sighed, then collapsed onto the bed and stared at the ceiling.
“I don’t understand why this is so important to you,” he finally said. “Or what good it does for that matter? Whatever happened doesn’t change what I came to learn; that I love you, Jeff. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.”
“Look, I could tell you the whole story,” he added, “but you won’t like what you hear and it won’t change anything.”
“Maybe it won’t,” I said, “but maybe it would help me understand what happened. I’ve been thinking about this for seven years, Jimmy.”
“Okay,” he said. “ I guess I owe you that much. So the answer is yes; Bobbie and I did have sex. It happened that Memorial Day weekend back in 1975 when you were back in the district with the Congressman.”
“The two of us went to a fundraising event at Hidden Treasures, Forbidden Pleasures and then I ended up staying overnight in Virginia with Bobbie. Charles was away that weekend as well.”
“We started in separate bedrooms, but eventually Bobbie came into the room where I was sleeping and he was wearing these really sexy short-shorts. And then one thing led to another and we ended up having sex. Satisfied now?”
“That’s it?” I said. “That’s all you’re going to tell me; that the two of you ended up having sex?”
Even though I could see it was making him uncomfortable, I was determined to get to the bottom of the matter now.
“Did you fuck him?” I asked. “Did you like fucking Bobbie more than you liked fucking me?”
“No, I didn’t fuck him,” Jimmy responded. “He fucked me.”
“He fucked you?” I said, shocked.
“When we started making out, I thought I wanted to fuck him,” Jimmy responded. “But then it got confusing. We were making out and the next thing I knew he handed me a bottle of poppers and showed me how to use them. I had never used poppers before and they totally blew me away. And then he did something I would have never expected in a million years.”
“What?” I asked.
“He started to rim me,” Jimmy continued, “which is something we had never done before; and it just felt so good, so pleasurable. And then after a while he started tongue fucking me and that felt even better; and finally, after I had sniffed the poppers some more, he, uh . . . he asked me what I wanted to do.”
“By then I was totally relaxed and I don’t know why I did it exactly, but I told him I wanted him to fuck me. So that’s what he did; and, uh, after that we started having sex more often when you weren’t around. I’m sorry to tell you that, Jeff; that I cheated on you before I dumped you.”
“Is that when you decided to leave?” I asked, stunned by what I had just heard. “After he fucked you?”
“No, not right away,” he replied. “For a long time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do because we were still living together and having sex and I liked you. Maybe you think I’m lying, but I did like you. I liked you a lot. But I was afraid to tell you what had happened and how I liked being fucked. I thought you would think less of me if I told you that.”
“So then you went back to the district in August and I went on that vacation I told you about with Bobbie and Charles; and that’s when Bobbie told me he and Charles were leaving for New York and London and begged me to come along. I don’t know why I did it exactly, but I finally agreed because I thought it would be better for you; that you would find someone you liked more than me.”
“Because what was I after all? I was just some stupid kid from North Adams who happened to be good looking, at least to you. But I wasn’t smart like you. I wasn’t interested in politics like you. Like my father used to say all the time, I was stupid. Nothing; nothing at all.”
“Or at least that’s what I told myself at the time. I mean, being honest, I was attracted to Bobbie, no doubt about it, and I felt like I had to make a choice so I did. But it turned out to be the wrong choice. It turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life”
When Jimmy had finished his tale I wasn’t sure what to say. I was ashamed of myself for forcing him to talk about things better left private.
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, Jimmy,” I finally volunteered. “I shouldn’t have made you tell me all of that. The only thing I’ll say is that, if I had known about some of those things like rimming, I would have done them for you. I would have done anything for you, Jimmy. I loved you. I still do.”
“I know that,” he replied, “just too late. But, like I said, it’s not like I was missing those things before I left. I didn’t know about them at all and it’s hard to miss something you don’t know anything about.”
“What else did you learn that you liked after you left?” I asked, curious.
“I learned a lot, Jeff,” he said, “and I did even more, but what’s the point of going there? It’s not like I’m going to ever do stuff like that again before I die.”
“Are you sure, Jimmy?” I asked. “I mean, I learned tonight that Russ and Michael are having sex using condoms. Maybe we should think about that as well.”
“They’re not having sex the way you think, Jeff,” Jimmy replied. “They’re not fucking. They’re jerking off together in bed and they use the condoms just to make sure there aren’t any accidents. It’s not like Russ is fucking Michael like he used to.”
“I see,” I replied. “I didn’t even think about that.”
“That’s because your mind is always in the gutter,” Jimmy said, laughing. “But, yeah, mine is there a lot of the time too so I understand where you’re coming from. But I’m not sure I believe what people are saying about condoms. Who really knows? That being the case, I’m not sure we should risk it, Jeff.”
“Do you miss it, Jimmy?” I asked again. “I mean, miss having sex? I didn’t think I missed it until you moved back in. But now I miss it so much; sometimes I think I’m going to explode.”
“I miss it, Jeff, but I also realize I love you and I don’t want to do anything that puts you at risk.”
“Even if I’m willing to take the risk?” I asked.
“Think about what you just said,” Jimmy replied. “Would you really be willing to risk your life for five or ten minutes of pleasure?”
“When was the last time you fucked me in five or ten minutes?” I asked.
“Yeah; you’re right about that,” he said, “but it doesn’t really change the point of my question.”
He was right.
“I don’t know,” I sighed. “In my dreams, maybe I’d be willing to do something like that because the memories are just so powerful. But in real life? I don’t know.”
“That’s the thing, Jeff,” Jimmy replied. “A lot of the best stuff about sex is all in our heads. It’s the thinking about it that can make it so powerful. But, look, let’s think about this overnight. I could see us doing what Michael and Russ are doing; masturbating together using condoms.”
“Not that I really want to,” he added. “But I feel bad for you. That was a big part of the reason I didn’t want to move back in here with you in the first place. I figured all those feelings would come back and I don’t want to put you at risk.”
“But I like being back here with you, Jeff. I really do. And I also realize you weren’t the only one who was really horny back then. I was as horny as you, probably more so. So maybe there’s something we can work out if you feel like we need to.”
Then, without notice, he placed his hand on my rump.
“Oh god, don’t do that, Jimmy,” I shouted. “I’ll lose it completely if you touch me like that.”
“You’re such a predictable sweetie, Jeff,” Jimmy said, mocking me. “You’re lucky I’ve reformed; otherwise you’d be in big trouble right about now.”
Pulling his hand away, he rolled over on to his side.
“Hug me,” he said. “And this time try not to stab me to death with that thing of yours.”
After that we never revisited the issue again. Jimmy didn’t raise it and for some reason neither did I. I think both of us realized how frustrating not having sex was. But in the clear light of day the risks proved too much.
Everything had changed for reasons neither of us understood. It was something we had to live with and both of us did. I never asked Jimmy how he dealt with it. As for me, I dealt with it the same way I had done before Jimmy moved back in.
I sublimated. I threw myself into my work. And when that wasn’t enough, I would slip into the bathroom and masturbate. It wasn’t the same, not even close. But like Michael told Russ, it was better than nothing.
If you closed your eyes and tried hard enough, you might even be able to conjure up a memory of happier times.