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SUMMARY: Two boys from dissimilar backgrounds, one trying to stay out of jail, the other privileged and seemingly destined for greatness. Thrown together by chance and only imperfectly aware of just how much they need one another, the boys struggle to connect across the many divides that separate them and slowly begin to recognize they may share more in common than they could have ever imagined. And yet whether they’ll be able to overcome their fears, doubts and insecurities and open up to each other remains to be seen. 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. 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.
Leaning against the wall, everything came flooding back. Like all of my days, today had started with me and Tony arguing.
No; that’s not right, Sean.
That may be the first thing that comes to mind, but the day actually started an hour earlier.
“Time to get up, Sean,” she said, gently rapping the door and voicing the all too familiar words.
It was my mother and she was waking me up like she had done all my life; gently and with a sweet voice that made the idea of opening my eyes and facing another day a little more bearable.
I didn’t want to get up, of course, but what choice did I have? I needed to make a living; and it’s not like it was her fault I had to get up after all. She loved me; loved me enough to get up every morning even before I did because she wanted something to be there for me before I headed off for the day.
I had told her a million times she didn’t need to get up for me like that; that she should sleep in the extra hour before getting Kevin up for school. But by now I realized I was wrong about that. She had been raised a certain way by her mother, just as her mother had been raised the very same way by her grandmother.
Making sure her sons had something warm for breakfast every morning made her happy; except for going to church most days, not very much else did.
Opening my eyes, I looked around. The sun was already creeping into the room.
“I’m up, Mom,” I responded, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, Sean.”
Hearing her walk away, I climbed out of bed. I had deliberately waited until I was sure she was on her way down the stairs before doing that. I was naked after all and wouldn’t have wanted her to see me like that if she had to open the door to rouse me.
Pulling my clothes on quickly, I made the bed and headed down the hall to clean up. The empty bathroom was the only good thing about getting up at that hour. An hour later and everyone else in the family would be fighting for it. It was the only bathroom in the place we rented and there were six of us after all.
Staring into the mirror, I could see there was no need to shave.
Shit; the rest of the guys shave every day, Sean. Why are you such a freak?
Eventually, finished making myself presentable, I returned to the bedroom. Looking around, I saw Kevin had kicked off the sheets during the night like he usually did. He was just lying there face down on the bed, totally naked. Looking at his back and arms, I could see the beginning of muscles starting to come in.
You’re filling in nicely, Kev. Bobby’s going to appreciate that.
Soon enough my eyes drifted down to his butt. It was fully exposed for me to see. Sometimes I wondered whether he did it deliberately to taunt me, but for now I found myself smiling as I stood there staring at it.
It was a cute butt, no doubt about it; twin peaks that were round, smooth and firm and tightly guarding the valley that separated them from one another.
Leaning over, I rearranged the sheets to cover him up.
“Are you staring at my butt again, Sean?” he mumbled, half asleep, half awake.
“In your dreams, Kev,” I lied.
“You’re the one that dreams about it, Sean,” he replied. “Both of us know you want to do it to me.”
“Go back to sleep, you little perv,” I replied, tousling his hair but not entirely sure he was wrong.
“See you tonight, Sean,” he replied.
“Maybe,” I said; “I should be home after work, at least for a little while. That’s assuming I don’t go into Boston to sell some tickets for the games this weekend.”
I already knew I had other plans for later that evening, but I didn’t want him to know about those.
Exiting our room, I walked down the stairs to the front hall. For a moment I considered slipping out the door before my mother could notice.
Good luck with that, dude.
“You need to have something for breakfast, Sean,” she called out from the kitchen, already aware of my presence.
“I’m not that hungry, Mom.”
“You will be if you don’t have something to eat.”
Knowing better than to argue the point, I walked to the kitchen.
“I made a couple of slices of bacon for you this morning, Sean.”
“Bacon is too expensive, Mom,” I protested even as I gobbled them down.
“Not for my oldest son,” she replied. “You need something warm in your stomach; besides, I know how much you love your bacon.”
Gulping down the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice she had set out for me, I grabbed the bagel she had also prepared, gave her a kiss on the cheek and headed for the door.
“Thanks, Mom. I love you. You’re the best mom in the world.”
“Have a good day, Sean,” she said, smiling at me.
Unbelievable, I recall thinking; knowing I work for Tony and Warren, the woman still actually thinks I can have a good day.
“Thanks, Mom. I’ll try.”
Harvard Square is a twenty-five minute walk from Tremont Street; west on Broadway to a left on Ellery, then right on to Harvard Street. That leads you past the walls surrounding the Yard and directly on to Massachusetts Avenue. From there it’s a straight shot up to the Square where I worked selling papers at the kiosk.
It was the same route I had been walking ever since graduating from high school the previous year; like I did every morning, I stopped momentarily at the Dexter Gate entrance to Harvard and looked up at the words carved above it.
TO GROW IN WISDOM
For some reason just staring at those words every day gave me goosebumps and reconfirmed how much I wanted to go to college. I had thought about that for years, even talked to my guidance counselor about it once my senior year.
I definitely wanted to do it; partly because I didn’t want to be poor like my father all my life, partly because I wanted to grow in wisdom, and partly because I wanted to set the right example for Kevin and my two younger brothers. I was always after the three of them to do well in school, especially Kevin.
Sometimes he would roll his eyes when I pushed him too hard, but I never backed off.
“Do you want to end up like Pop, Kevin?” I would ask whenever I thought he could be doing better. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life working and never having anything to show for it?”
“Look around this house, Kev. We don’t own it. We share it with three other families. The landlord never makes any repairs so the place is falling apart. Our furniture is crummy. There’s only one bathroom so everyone ends up fighting about who gets to use it first in the morning. The two of us have to share a bedroom that would be small for one.”
“Do I really need to explain all of this, dude? You’re as smart as me, Kevin; not as good-looking but as smart, maybe even smarter. You can get good grades if you try and that’s what you need to do because getting good grades is the only way you’re going to avoid ending up like Pop.”
That was usually all I needed to say because Kevin hated the old man. I didn’t blame him for that. I probably disliked Pop just as much, but someone had to keep the peace in the family and my mother counted on me for that.
The point is I wanted Kevin to go to college and wanted to set the right example for him by doing that myself. But college costs money after all and I didn’t have any; nor did my parents. Even if they had, my father would never have spent a dime to help me or anyone else go to college.
“College is a waste of time,” he used to say all the time. “Join the Army; they’ll teach you a trade that’s actually useful for something.”
But I knew the real reason he wanted me to join the Army. He was counting on me to send most of the paycheck home to support him and the rest of the family; and I probably would have except for the rest of the shit that came with the job.
No way, Sean; do you want to get your head blown off in one of those stupid wars they’re always starting?
So I didn’t do what my father wanted. I did what most of my friends did when we graduated from high school. I got a job; more than one actually. I figured I’d save the money I earned and go to one of the nearby community colleges in a year or two.
It seemed to make sense at the time. And yet now, approaching the kiosk, I wondered whether I was just kidding myself. As hard as I worked, I still didn’t have much put away.
“Morning, Tony,” I said, trying to be polite. “How are you?”
“How the fuck do you think I am, asshole?” he responded. “I’ve been here since 4:00 a.m. busting my butt trying to make a living. You ought to try it sometime.”
By his standards Tony was having a pretty good morning. He wasn’t screaming and yelling at me yet like he usually did.
He would soon enough.
Tony was my boss. He had been selling papers and magazines from the kiosk in Harvard Square forever. It was the perfect location for that, right next to the entrance to the transit station people used every day.
He had made a good living from the kiosk over the years, but now everything was changing. People weren’t into paying for the news so much anymore when they could access it online for free. Although he didn’t really need an excuse, that was excuse enough to put Tony in a lousy mood every morning.
Honestly, I had never seen the dude in a good mood.
If I hadn’t disliked him so much, I would have admired Tony’s efforts to keep the place afloat in spite of his moods. It was actually kind of fascinating watching him look for different ways to diversify the business and keep it profitable.
It was the only thing he cared about in life. He didn’t care about his wife, his kids or his customers. He cared about me least of all. What Tony cared about was making money and I could understand that. I wanted to make money as well.
That was why I was working for him after all, every morning from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., five days a week and sometimes on Sundays as well.
If Tony had just been your ordinary son of a bitch, I could have put up with the dude. But the man was a hypocrite and that made me dislike him. Not that there was much I could do about it, of course; I needed the job. But doing it was definitely harder these days.
Over the many years of its existence, the kiosk had gained a reputation for the extensive array of newspapers and magazines it carried. Things like The Economist; serious shit you couldn’t find elsewhere that gave the place a certain upscale cachet and attracted the kind of people I admired. It was one of the reasons I had taken the job in the first place; the chance to rub shoulders with the best and the brightest.
But a couple of months earlier Tony had started peddling adult magazines from the back of the place. We’re not talking Playboy or Penthouse here. He had been selling those for years. But now he was selling hardcore porn as well because that’s where the money was; at least that’s what he liked telling me all the time.
And once he started doing that, it wasn’t long before he began making me peddle some of that filth to the people he liked to call Square scum.
It wasn’t a term he used affectionately.
“All these assholes hanging around the Square are scum,” he would say. “They’re into this kind of shit, Sean; girls having sex with dogs, dudes fisting their boyfriends. They’ll pay good money for these magazines and you need to sell them or I’ll find someone who can.”
“Who’s going to buy shit like this, Tony?” I asked, disgusted the first time he told me to peddle the stuff.
“I don’t give a fuck who you sell them to,” he replied. “Sell them to your friends at Cambridge Latin or all those fruitcakes and perverts at Harvard. Sell them to your brothers for all I care. Just sell them!”
What a hypocrite, I recall thinking.
Here he is, always bitching about how people don’t have morals anymore. How all the girls are sluts who don’t care if they get pregnant because they can take a pill the next morning or get an abortion at the Clinic; how all the guys are faggots who suck dick and do other things he finds disgusting.
But selling dirty magazines to people; to kids; to my brothers for Christ’s sake?
That was just business for Tony; that had nothing to do with morals, nothing at all.
Picking up the money pouch and papers he had set aside for me that morning, I started to walk away. I should have known better.
“Don’t forget the magazines, Sean,” he shouted, grabbing my shoulder and pointing at them. “I’m running a business here, not a charity, and the papers don’t cut it anymore. You sell a ton of papers, but you could sell twice as many and it wouldn’t make any difference.”
“Selling the Boston Globe and the New York Times doesn’t pay the bills around here anymore. You need to sell the magazines; that’s where I make the money to keep this kiosk open. I keep telling you that, Sean, but nothing ever changes with you.”
“Those magazines are disgusting, Tony,” I replied, pushing back for a change. “They have no redeeming social value at all.”
“Who the hell died and made you the fucking Chief Justice, asshole?” he screamed. “Like I keep telling you, those magazines are the only things that keep this place open. You wouldn’t have a job except for the magazines. Stop being such a fucking puritan for Christ’s sake.”
“Oh yeah, right,” I responded. “This coming from the man who always complains how all the girls are whores, all the guys fairies.”
“Shut the fuck up and get to work,” he replied, dismissively. “I don’t pay you to give me lip, scumbag. I pay you to sell papers and magazines, especially the magazines.”
So I did what I always did because I needed the job.
I shut up.
Gathering up the papers and magazines, I began walking the Square. I followed my usual routine, the one I had developed the previous year after graduating from high school. By now I knew exactly when the trains arrived and departed and where to position myself to have the best chance of selling something to all the people coming and going.
That’s what I did for the next three hours that morning. It wasn’t the most challenging job in the world, but I enjoyed being out in the fresh air when the weather was nice. You got to watch Cambridge come alive every morning and I liked that. It was the best time of day for me in many ways.
I felt almost human.
What the job was really about was selling yourself as much as anything else and I was good at that. You had to smile and joke with the customers to get them to stop. Once they did, you could usually sell them something; if they kept moving, it was hopeless.
The weather didn’t always cooperate, of course, and that affected how much I made. People didn’t like stopping to buy a paper when it was raining; and it was tough keeping things dry as well, especially myself.
I didn’t make a lot of money working for Tony. I got a commission on what I sold; more on the magazines, less on the papers. I also got an hourly wage but it was less than the minimum. Still, it was money and mostly money honestly earned, at least until Tony started having me peddle the magazines.
That was a bummer; although, to be honest about it, the longer I sold them, the less I objected. You get used to that kind of shit after a while. To tell the truth, there were even times when I got curious and would look at the freaking magazines myself when the crowds thinned out.
I wonder how that really feels? I would ask, looking at some dude getting his dick sucked off.
How the hell do they do that? I would wonder, looking at two or more people doing something especially bizarre.
And yet, curious as I was, there was a part of me that felt bad whenever I looked at those magazines. My little brother was gay after all and I loved him, but I wouldn’t have wanted him looking at shit like that or knowing I was looking at it either.
Like I said, I loved Kevin and not just because he was my brother. I had two other brothers, Michael and Daniel, both younger than me and Kevin. I loved them as well, but Kevin and I were the closest age wise and we shared a bedroom together.
What kind of example was I setting looking at those magazines? It just didn’t seem right.
You know what I mean?
By the time I finished putting in my time at the kiosk every morning and listening to Tony bitch, I usually felt dirty, exhausted, or sub-human; sometimes all three. So it was definitely good to have an hour off before heading over to my other job.
Usually I would spend the time sitting on one of the benches in the Square just watching people walking around. Sometimes I would even make up imaginary stories about them.
Here’s the world famous economist on his way to Washington to advise the President on needed monetary reforms.
Barack would be smart to listen to this dude. He knows his stuff.
But mostly I would just sit there and try to guess what people did for a living or where they were headed. That was pretty easy with the students from Harvard. They were the younger ones lugging around backpacks filled with their shit.
Sometimes they were passing through the Square on their way to the Yard to attend a class or visit one of the libraries; other times on their way to The Coop or some other store to buy something they needed. Unlike me, they had money and could buy whatever they wanted. Money was never a problem for them; at least it didn’t seem like a problem as far as I could tell.
There were even times when I would slip into the Yard, find a place to sit down, and wonder what it was like going to Harvard; what kind of dreams motivated the students I saw walking around and whether they were growing in wisdom sufficiently every day to make all of their dreams come true?
I mean, that was why I was working after all; to save enough money to attend community college. It wouldn’t be the same as attending Harvard, of course; not even close. But it was my dream; and whether I was sitting across the street staring at the walls that surrounded the Yard and set it apart from the rest of Cambridge or wandering around inside, just thinking about all of that made it seem real somehow; made it seem possible.
You can do this, Sean. You can be smart too. You just have to work hard and save up enough money.
And then reality would intrude and my stomach would growl from having worked up an appetite and I would find myself fighting the urge.
Knowing I needed the money for college, the one thing I tried to avoid during my free hour was spending any money on food. Usually having a quick breakfast at home in the morning was all I needed; and if I was hungry after finishing at the kiosk, I would try holding out until I got to where I worked most of the day, Fat Boys Gourmet Sandwiches & Deli.
You could always nibble on something there if the manager wasn’t checking too closely.
“Come on, Sean; pick up the pace,” Devin urged.
Devin was the manager at Fat Boys that day and the place was already crowded. There was a line backed up out the door, but the sign in the window assured them they would have their food in ten minutes or less. Otherwise it’d be free. Every one of those dudes was timing us, not just Devin.
“You’re moving too slowly, Sean; 40 seconds. You need to pick up your pace or I’ll have to tell Warren.”
Fuck you, dweeb.
I worked at Fat Boys five days a week and sometimes on the weekends as well. Some people believed working there was a step up from McDonald’s; except that it wasn’t, not really. It was just another food joint, one of a ton competing for business in Harvard Square although more successfully than most. People liked the food; I’ll grant you that. The place was always filled.
True to its name, the owner of Fat Boys Gourmet Sandwiches & Deli was fat. His name was Warren Browne and he was pretty young to own a place like that. They said he had opened it after graduating from the Harvard Business School and I never had reason to doubt it.
Warren had a knack for business, no doubt about it. The place had made him a fortune. He also had a thing for young boys like me. Everyone who worked there knew that.
He would only hire boys, cute boys he would insist if pressed, because he was gay and knew you wouldn’t complain when he goosed your ass while making the rounds of the place. It was just something you put up with because all of us needed the job. Not that it was a great job, of course. It wasn’t, at least as far as I was concerned.
To be honest, it was the closest thing I could think of to working on one of those assembly lines in Detroit where they make the cars. It was hard work as well because the place was busy all day and there was never much down time; and what made it even more annoying was that Warren was a cheap motherfucker.
He didn’t pay any better than McDonald’s unless he liked you. In fact, you were expected to be grateful to have a job working there because Fat Boys was a favorite haunt for the students and professors at Harvard, partly due to the location and partly because of the food.
Warren made you feel like he was doing you a favor just by hiring you; and he probably was because there were ten other dudes who would gladly accept the job if you complained about how little he paid or him fondling you like that.
Some of the guys actually bought all the bullshit and liked working there.
I hated Fat Boys. I hated everything about it.
Most of the day I just stood there behind the counter squeezed between the cashier on my right and two other dudes on my left. The three of us working the counter spent the day putting the finishing touches on the sandwiches as they came off the heating element; one after another, hour after hour, a never ending stream of sandwiches that the customers never seemed to tire of eating.
You wouldn’t have thought it was tough work, but it was even with the breaks we got. Warren’s goal was to have you assemble and wrap the sandwich in thirty seconds or less and then pass it off to the customer. You try doing that eight hours a day, especially with some fucking manager timing you.
But as much as I hated working on an assembly line, I hated the freaking customers even more. Whatever you did, they were never satisfied. There were times when you wanted to strangle them.
Didn’t you hear me say I didn’t want any lettuce at all? What are you, deaf or something, you idiot? I want to speak to the manager.
That was annoying because the customer was always right, the staff always wrong, at least according to Warren; and because that’s what Warren believed, the managers believed it as well, calling you out in front of everyone for being a doofus or even worse.
Of course, I hated the fucking managers at least as much as the customers.
They got to sit on their ass most of the day in their little cubby away from all the smells that became more and more nauseating the longer you were stuck inside. Sometimes they were a little older than me, sometimes a little younger, but none were smarter than me. Most of them were actually dumber.
But they were willing to kiss Warren’s ass; literally kiss his ass, at least that’s what most of the dudes working the assembly line like me used to say. I didn’t know that for sure although I suspected it probably was.
What I knew for sure was that the managers loved telling Warren what a worthless bunch of lazy assholes we were. They were born snitches who would do anything to ingratiate themselves with Warren.
And Warren was the dude I hated the most about Fat Boys.
He was fat and obnoxious and I didn’t like him goosing my ass whenever he walked by. Sometimes he didn’t stop by the place for days because he knew the managers were intimidated by him and would run the business exactly the way he had taught them to run it. And then, when he did stop by, he would mostly settle for goosing whatever boy happened to touch his fancy that day.
But lately he had been dropping by every day and singling me out for special attention; trying to persuade me to become one of his managers. Today had been worse than usual; he had put his hands all over me, fondling my ass and even touching my dick through my jeans. That had made me go hard, which was embarrassing to say the least.
“Jesus Christ, dude,” I told him. “Don’t you get enough ass from those managers of yours?”
“They’re good,” Warren replied, smirking at me. “But I’m thinking you would be even better, Sean. You’re the cream of the crop among the boys I have working for me. You’re the cutest and the smartest and you could be a manager too, you know; a lot better one than the rest of these dudes, that’s for sure. You just have to learn how to be a good boy and take care of business.”
“Not this business, Sean, the sandwich business,” he added, raising his arm and pointing from one end of the place to the other. “I already know you’re smart enough to do that. I’m talking about my personal business.”
He was leering now and I felt dirty as he stood there staring at me.
“Not interested,” I responded, trying my best not to show just how annoyed I was.
I knew that would piss him off.
“That’s your problem, Sean,” he replied, irritated. “You want to make money, but you’re not willing to pay the piper. You want to do it your way. You need to wake up, dude. You could be making a lot more money if you’d get off that high-horse of yours and play the game the way you know it has to be played to get ahead in the world.”
“If you want to get ahead, Sean, you’re going to have to kiss ass. It’s just a question of whose ass you’re going to kiss.”
“Think about it,” he added, giving my butt one final quick pat and smiling at me.
It won’t be yours, Warren! That’s for sure.
That was probably the most annoying thing about working at Fat Boys. You felt degraded all the time and you wanted to tell Warren that, but what could you do after all?
He was the boss.