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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. November 16, 2015: Chapter 16 is narrated by Holden.
THE OPENED DOOR
Sean and I spent Sunday morning together in bed, sometimes talking about the previous evening, our plans for the summer, or whatever happened to come to mind. But most of the time we just cuddled and kissed and explored uncharted territory.
“You know what?” I exclaimed at one point, coming up for breath after visiting an especially exotic region.
“I feel like I’m on a voyage of discovery here, just like Darwin.”
“I heard Darwin was seasick a lot on that trip,” Sean responded, laughing. “But, hey, feel free to continue exploring. I suspect you’re having more fun than he did. I know I am.”
He was right. The more I explored his body, the more I realized what a fantastic and pleasurable journey I was on; and I could tell from Sean’s moans he was enjoying the trip as much as me, if not more.
In the course of our explorations, each of us discovered parts of the body that were especially sensitive and erotic. For me it was my neck and my nipples; for Sean it turned out to be his ears and armpits. Our toes were sensitive for both of us; and of course there were other parts of our bodies, the parts framed by our hips, that were the most sensitive of all.
We spent a lot of time exploring those parts.
As we took turns making each other feel good that morning, what eventually happened wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was that it happened more than once. Finally, realizing we needed more than liquid nourishment, the two of us reluctantly climbed out of bed, promising to return to it much earlier that evening than we had the previous night.
We lingered over lunch in the Square and then decided to take another long walk along the Charles. Sean was talkative at first, but then turned quiet. It made me wonder whether he was having second thoughts about what we had done.
“Is something wrong?” I asked, concerned. “Are you sorry about what happened last night or anything we did this morning?”
“Not at all,” he replied. “Meeting you has been the best thing that ever happened to me, Holden, and I loved spending the night with you. It was unbelievable; the whole weekend has been incredible. But tomorrow I have to go back to work and that’s depressing. Tony will be screaming at me all morning; as for Warren, I don’t know how much more I can take of the dude.”
“He used to be satisfied with just goosing my ass, but lately he’s been touching me everywhere. Friday was the worst; he tried to shove one of his hands into my pants and feel me up.”
“I don’t think I can take much more,” he continued, “but lately he’s been giving me a raise every month. I’m almost making as much as the managers now and he keeps pressing me to become one of his managers. But everyone knows what that means.”
“I think I told you once my father works for the Justice Department in Washington,” I said. “He’s the head of the Civil Rights Division and I’m going to talk to him about this. What that dude is doing sounds like sexual harassment to me; and if I’m right about that, he’ll probably tell me you should get a lawyer and sue the bastard.”
“Thanks,” Sean responded. “I appreciate the support, but I don’t have the money to do something like that; even if I did, I’m not sure I would. I mean, the thing is, not selling pot anymore, I need both of those jobs now more than ever so I can get a place for Kev and me in the fall. But it’s getting harder and harder to go to work every day when I have to put up with shit like that all the time.”
“That’s the point,” I said. “No one should have to put up with that, not even gay people. But, like I said, let me call my father and talk to him about it. I’m sure he’ll know what to do better than me. In the meantime, just forget about it and enjoy the walk. We’re together. That’s the important thing.”
It was the truth, but it wasn’t the whole truth. Knowing what Sean was going through made me angry and once we got back to my place I immediately called my father. The two of us talked a long time. I didn’t tell him everything, of course; I didn’t tell him I was gay and had met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was too soon for that and I need to do it in person.
But I told him what was happening to Sean and my father only confirmed what I already suspected. More importantly, he gave me the help I was looking for.
“What did your father have to say?” Sean asked the moment I rejoined him.
“He said you’ve got a pretty powerful case against Warren and he gave me the name of a friend of his who practices law in Boston. The guy specializes in discrimination cases like yours. My father says he’s the best there is in the northeast. He thinks you should call the guy and let him file suit on your behalf.”
“I don’t know, Holden,” Sean responded. “Lawyers are expensive. Warren has the money to hire a bunch of lawyers, but I don’t.”
“I told my father you’d say that and he says you won’t have to shell out any money upfront,” I replied. “If you have to sue, the guy will take the case on commission. But my father doesn’t think you’ll have to sue if you don’t want to. He thinks the whole thing can be settled out of court. He gave me his friend’s number and promised to call him. He’s going to fill the guy in on the details.”
“But you’ll need to follow up tomorrow morning,” I added, handing Sean a copy of the phone number. “I think you should call the guy when you can. He won’t charge you. Besides, what do you have to lose?”
“Um, well, I’ll think about it,” he replied, taking the slip of paper from me. “I appreciate all the help from you and your father.”
The rest of the day passed too slowly, the evening too quickly; and then Monday morning arrived much too soon. I walked Sean down to the Square, but turned back into the Yard before he crossed over to the kiosk where he worked.
I wanted to kiss him desperately at that point and think Sean wanted the same thing. In the end, we settled for a fist bump and shy smiles and then went our respective ways.
Maybe we won’t let what others think inhibit us someday, I told myself. It can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
We had agreed to meet outside Fat Boys at 7 o’clock when Sean got off work. When he finally emerged ten minutes late, he looked flustered
“Is something wrong?” I asked, concerned.
“Not really,” he replied. “Warren wanted to talk to me again about becoming a manager. I spent most of the time trying to keep his hands off of me. That’s why I’m late. ”
“Did you call that lawyer like my father suggested?” I asked.
“I did,” Sean responded, surprising me. “I called him on my break between jobs. He was nice and explained my options pretty clearly. I thought about talking with Warren about it this afternoon, but figured maybe today would be different. It wasn’t. It was the same old shit. I need to think about it some more, but I may raise it with him tomorrow.
“You should,” I replied. “And you should stand up to Tony as well. You’re a hard worker, Sean. There are lots of jobs out there for someone as smart as you; someone willing to work as hard as you do.”
“I don’t know about that, Holden,” he said. “But I’ll think about it. I’ve pretty much reached the end of my rope with both of those dudes.”
Finally we reached Robinson Hall and climbed the stairs. Within moments we were in Professor Jeffords’ outer office.
“You’re welcome to go in, boys,” his secretary told us as she gathered her things and prepared to depart. “His last appointment was two hours ago. He’s been waiting for you since then.”
I knocked at the door and a big booming voice urged me to enter so that’s what the two of us did.
The moment he walked in and looked at the walls Sean’s eyes exploded. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. There was too much to take in, let alone comprehend; too many small items that told too many big stories, too many pictures of too many heroes, past and present. His eyes darted in every direction and seemed unable to settle anywhere.
“Unbelievable,” he muttered as he wandered aimlessly from one thing to the next.
By that time Professor Jeffords was by his side and the two of them were jabbering at one another like two small boys on Christmas morning trying to decide which toy to open next. It went on like that for at least fifteen minutes and I was delighted to just stand there watching the two of them. They were happy; and seeing them happy made me happy as well.
Eventually I sat down on the couch. Soon enough Sean joined me while Professor Jeffords plopped down in his chair across from us.
“So I take it you like my little collection of memorabilia?” Professor Jeffords finally said.
“It’s incredible,” Sean responded; “just incredible.”
“Well you’re welcome to come back for another look any time. Of course, it’d be a lot easier to do that if you lived in the Yard and I was your faculty adviser. What do you think, Sean? Is that something you’d like to try?”
“I don’t understand,” Sean replied, confused. “What do you mean, live in the Yard and have you as my adviser?”
“Well, yes, I can see how that would be confusing,” Professor Jeffords continued, smiling. “Let me explain. Holden’s filled me in on your situation, Sean; told me what you scored on the SATs, showed me your grades from Cambridge Latin, and filled me in on some other details.”
“He and I have been talking and think you should become part of our little community here at Harvard. The question is whether that’s something you’d like as well?”
“This is a joke, right?” Sean replied, looking at Professor Jeffords first, then me. “Me; a student at Harvard? You have to be kidding. There’s no way something like that could happen.”
“It could if you want it to,” Professor Jeffords said. “But it’s something you have to want first.”
“Um, look,” Sean responded, shaking his head. “I don’t know what Holden told you exactly, but, yeah, I do want to go to college someday. That’s why I’m working. I’m trying to save up enough money to go to one of the community colleges in the area, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.”
“As for Harvard, even if I wanted to, I could never get into a place like this; and if someone made a mistake and I managed to get in somehow, I could never afford to go here.”
“I hear what you’re saying, Sean, but you’re wrong,” Professor Jeffords replied. “I serve on the Admissions Committee at Harvard and I can tell you right now you would get in if you applied. Your grades and SAT scores leave little doubt about that.”
“Ordinarily you’d have to wait until next fall to apply. As I told Holden last Friday, however, there’s a special procedure that allows you to petition Harvard’s Board of Overseers for admission right now. The Board used to make the decision itself years ago, but more recently it’s delegated the responsibility to determine whether you’re qualified for admittance to the Admissions Committee.”
“Once the Committee makes its decision, the Board routinely ratifies our recommendation; at least that’s been the practice the last couple of times this happened many years ago. The bottom line is your home free if the Admissions Committee decides you’re qualified; and I already know your grades and SAT scores are good enough to get in.”
“And once I tell some of my colleagues on the Committee you’re a Red Sox fan as well, that should clinch the deal because they’ll want to shut me up before I get on a roll about that,” he added, chuckling.
“As for your financial situation, there’s a scholarship that comes with admission to the College under this special procedure so you won’t have to worry about that. Everything will be taken care of. You won’t have to take out any loans. That’s not how we do it at Harvard, especially if someone is struggling financially.”
“The point is, if you want to start college this fall, you can; and of course we house freshmen in the Yard. That should make it easy for you to come see me whenever you want; and I certainly hope you will because it’s possible there are a few things you could teach me about baseball. But ultimately it’s about what you want, Sean. What do you think? Is this something you want?”
Come on, Sean, say yes; please? I pleaded, silently.
“I dunno,” Sean responded. “Honestly, I don’t know what to think about all of this. It’s confusing. I mean, I guess you’re not joking. That would be cruel. But I don’t see how this could be possible.”
He stared at the floor momentarily, then asked a question out of the blue I wouldn’t have expected in a million years.
“Uh, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but would I have to live in the Yard if I applied and got accepted?”
“Why do you ask that, Sean?” Professor Jeffords replied, puzzled.
I was puzzled as well.
“Um, well, it’s a long story and I don’t want to bother you with all the details, but I have a brother and, uh, he can’t live at home anymore so I need to find a place for the two of us to live in the fall. As much as I want to go to college, it’s more important to me to find someplace for my brother and me to live.”
“I was just wondering if maybe I could go to college and somehow work enough hours to be able to rent a place for the two of us.”
“I see,” Professor Jeffords responded, and I could tell by the tone of his voice and the sudden change in the look on his face he was struggling to control his anger. “Your brother is Kevin Tierney, isn’t he?”
“He is,” Sean said, surprised, “but how did you know that?”
“Kevin’s a student of mine at Cambridge Latin in their honors program. I’ve talked to him after class on many occasions and to his best friend as well. I know why he can’t live at home any longer, but I can assure you, Sean, it won’t be a problem.”
“We can find some way to do all of these things; to get you admitted to Harvard where I think you belong and to find a place where Kevin can live safely. I give you my word on that, Sean, and if you ask anyone who knows me at all, they’ll tell you I’ve never broken my word; never!”
It was obvious from the vehemence with which he said it that Professor Jeffords had quickly connected the dots I would have been aware of myself if I hadn’t been so blinded by my love for Sean. And yet as quickly as he had become angry, he calmed down.
“Look, Sean, I know this is a big decision,” Professor Jeffords said. “I understand that. But I spoke to some of the people I work with over in the Admissions Office today about your situation and they provided me with the paperwork you’ll need to fill out if you want to pursue it.”
“It’s not that complicated actually and shouldn’t take very long if you’re interested in filling it out. There are some forms you need to sign so we can collect your official records and then the petition to the Board of Overseers seeking admission.”
“That used to be important, but the Board delegated most of the responsibility for making the decision to the Admissions Committee long ago and the Committee focuses mainly on your grades, your SATs, and the recommendation of the person sponsoring you. I’ll be the one doing that. While the Board will still have to ratify whatever the Committee decides, I’m told that should be pretty pro forma.”
With that he pushed the package of documents across the table. Sean picked them up gingerly and leafed through them. Professor Jeffords gave him a couple of minutes to do that while I sat there with my fingers crossed.
“So what do you think, Sean?” Professor Jeffords finally asked. “I’m not being some kind of humanitarian in suggesting this. I have a personal motive here. If you become a student and you and Holden request an independent study in the history of baseball with me, there’s no way the Department will be able to put a kibosh on it.”
“I’ve been waiting to do that course for a long time now and I think I would probably hold it at my place and Fenway Park. Those would be good settings for it, don’t you think?”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Sean finally said as the realization of what was being offered to him began to sink in. “You’re not just toying with me, are you? I mean, it would be pretty hard if I filled out this stuff and then got rejected; or, worse still, got accepted but didn’t get the scholarship I need to attend.”
“I hear you, Sean,” Professor Jeffords replied. “The scholarship is a done deal if your petition to the Board is granted. I can give you a guarantee on that.”
“I can’t give you an ironclad assurance that the Admissions Committee will recommend approval of your petition to the Board. But I do believe you clearly meet the criteria for admission; and I can also tell you I’ll be going to bat for you when the Committee meets to consider your petition.”
“But there are no guarantees, Sean,” he continued. “Sometimes we have to take chances in life; sometimes doors open and we have to walk through them without knowing in advance exactly where they may lead.”
“It’s just that . . . um . . . I don’t know,” Sean said. “I don’t think I would fit in here. This place is for people a lot smarter than me, richer than me, better than me.”
“I’ve been teaching here for many years now, Sean,” Professor Jeffords responded, “and one thing never changes. Every year almost every student I counsel visits me at some point and tells me they don’t think they belong at Harvard. Holden told me that just last week. He had decided to drop out because he didn’t think he fit in.”
“If everyone who told me they didn’t fit in dropped out of Harvard one day, I would be out of a job, Sean; there wouldn’t be many students here. Look, son, Harvard isn’t easy. If you do it right, the course work will challenge you, but the biggest challenge you’ll face is learning who you are as a person. But I think that’s a challenge you’re ready for and have little doubt you’ll meet it.”
“Go home. Talk to Holden and think about it. He can help you fill out those forms; and if anything stumps the two of you, ring me up at my place.”
“Here’s my card,” he continued, handing it to Sean. “I’ve put my home and cell phone numbers on there as well. Feel free to call any time. The sooner you bring that paperwork back to me, the sooner we can get started getting you admitted and doing whatever needs to be done to put that scholarship in place for you.”
“In fact, if you get it back first thing tomorrow morning, I can probably get your petition on the Admissions Committee’s agenda for Friday. But if you need more time to think about it, that’s fine as well. Whenever you’re finished, just drop those documents off with me or my Secretary. I’ll take it from there.”
He stood up, prompting Sean and myself to do so as well. Then, walking us to the entrance of the building, he thanked us for stopping by.
Sean was still in a state of shock on the walk back to Wigglesworth. He didn’t say anything; and even after we got back to my room, he remained silent for a couple of minutes.
“Are you okay?” I finally asked.
“I’m not sure,” he responded. “And I’m not sure I should fill out this paperwork either. I mean, I would if I was sure we can find some place for Kevin this fall. Do you think Professor Jeffords can really do that?”
“You heard the man,” I replied. “He gave you his word and I’m sure he’ll keep it. As for the paperwork, you have to fill it out. It’s part of the requirement.”
“The requirement for being my boyfriend,” I responded, smiling at him.
“I see,” he said, returning my smile. “Then I guess I don’t have much choice, do I?”
While Sean set about filling out the forms, I worked on some of my assignments.
“How’s it coming?” I finally asked about an hour later.
“Professor Jeffords was right,” he responded. “There really wasn’t much to these forms. The big thing was the petition. Do you want to read what I wrote and see if it’s okay?”
“Sure,” I responded, taking the document from him.
It wasn’t long, but it was moving and heartfelt and I was impressed with what Sean had written.
“That’s perfect,” I said, handing it back to him. “Don’t change a word, Sean.”
“I don’t know how perfect it is,” he replied, “but it’s what I wanted to say. I’ll drop it and the rest of these papers off after work tomorrow evening. If Professor Jeffords isn’t there, I’ll slip them under the door.”
“Why don’t you let me drop them off for you in the morning?” I asked. “You heard what he said; if gets them early enough, you might get a decision by the end of the week. He didn’t promise that, but it’s worth a shot.”
“Okay,” he replied. “I don’t see why not.”
“Good,” I said. “Now I’m going to twist your arm to stay overnight.”
“Don’t even try, Holden,” he responded. “As much as I’d like to, I need to go home tonight. I have some things I need to think about and promised my mother I’d be home. She knows I won’t let my father do anything to Kevin.”
“Okay,” I sighed. “I can’t wait until school is over and we can finally move into that apartment my parents rented.”
“Neither can I,” he responded.
The two of us hugged and for a moment I thought I was on the verge of getting Sean to change his mind. But eventually he pulled away. Walking him outside, I watched until he disappeared into the darkness.
I was up bright and early the following morning and got to Robinson Hall well before 8:00 a.m. The door to Professor Jeffords’ office was closed. For a moment I thought about slipping the paperwork under the door, but then thought better of it.
This is too important, Holden. You need to put this paperwork in Professor Jeffords’ hands personally.
Sitting down on the floor next to the door, I pulled out a book and began reading. But I didn’t have to wait very long. Soon enough Professor Jeffords came strolling down the corridor. He was surprised to see me.
“Holden, what are you doing here so early?” he asked.
“I’m here to deliver those forms you gave Sean last night. He filled them out at my room and he would have delivered them himself, but he has a job that starts at 7:00 a.m. and wouldn’t have been able to get here until this evening. I figured the sooner the better.”
“Exactly right,” he replied. “Come in and let me take a look to make sure nothing is missing.”
With that he opened the door, led me into his office, and took the papers from me.
“These look fine,” Professor Jeffords said, reassuring me after studying them for several moments. “The petition itself is quite touching, one of the best essays I’ve seen in a long time. That friend of yours really is an impressive young man, Holden.”
“I talked to the Dean of Admissions last night,” he continued, “and he agreed to put Sean’s petition on the agenda for our meeting this Friday; that was assuming we had it, of course, and now we do. I’m delighted. This will also give me plenty of time to talk to the other members of the Committee about Sean. I’m not anticipating any problems, but it won’t hurt to let them know how strongly I feel about this.”
“Thank you, Professor Jeffords,” I replied. “That sounds great; I’ll be sure to let Sean know.”
Emerging from Robinson Hall, I was in a terrific mood as I started my walk back to Wigglesworth; such a terrific mood I wasn’t even upset when I ran into Roger.
We talked for a little while. Like our previous encounter, he was on his best behavior; and I guess I must have been unusually bubbly because Roger finally commented on it.
“You seem to be in a terrific mood again this morning, Holden,” he said.
“I am,” I replied. “I’m in a great mood.”
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “Truth be told, you seem to have been in a terrific mood ever since you met that friend of yours; you know, Sean. Ever since the two of you met, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you happier on campus; and seeing you happy makes me happy as well. He seems like a fine young man.”
“Thank you, Roger,” I replied. “I’m glad you finally recognize that. He’s very nice and he’s very smart as well you know. He’s helped me out with my math course and he’s going to be a student here himself next fall.”
“Really,” Roger said; “a student? Here at Harvard you say? Now that does come as a bit of a surprise. How do you know that, Holden?”
“I know because I showed his SAT scores and his high school grades to Professor Jeffords. He’s on the Admissions Committee and he persuaded Sean to apply to Harvard. I just dropped off all the paperwork at his office. Do you believe it?”
“Well, honestly, no; I am having a bit of trouble getting my head around that,” he replied. “I mean, I don’t see how that’s possible, at least for this coming fall. The admissions process for next year’s class was completed last month, Holden. The acceptance and rejection letters have gone out. Perhaps young Sean could apply for admission the following year, but it’s much too late for him to apply now.”
“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” he continued, “but I’m quite familiar with the admissions process here at Harvard. Not only did I go through it like you last year, I hear about it all the time from my father. He’s on the Board of Overseers, you know.”
“Being rich still has some privileges, thank God. My father’s a very big donor and he was nominated for the Board and you know how that goes, Holden. There’s never any real competition for the job, especially if people know you’re a big donor.”
I knew all of this, of course, but I also knew something Roger didn’t.
“Up until a few days ago I would have thought the same thing, Roger,” I replied. “But it turns out there’s a special admission procedure for students who live in Cambridge. It’s a long story, but basically there’s an agreement that allows students from Cambridge to petition the Board of Overseers for admission at any time; and there’s a scholarship that goes with it if the student is admitted.”
“I only found out about all of this a few days ago from Professor Jeffords; and he thinks Sean’s petition will be granted because the Board defers to the Admissions Committee for a recommendation. Being on the Committee, Professor Jeffords is pretty sure Sean will be recommended based on his SATs and his grades. They’ve even scheduled a meeting to review his petition this Friday.”
“Really?” Roger replied. “That’s interesting, Holden; fascinating actually. I’ll have to ask my father about this. He’s never mentioned a special admissions procedure like that. But if what you’re telling me is true, that would certainly be terrific news for young Sean; and for you as well, I imagine, knowing how much you fancy him. Congratulations, Holden. I’m delighted to hear the good news.”
“Thanks, Roger,” I said. “I’m still having trouble coming to grips with all of this myself. But, yes, you’re right. I do like Sean very much and he likes me as well.”
“That’s wonderful, Holden,” he replied. “I’m so happy for the two of you.”
“Thanks, Roger; it’s been nice talking to you, but I need to be running along. I have a class in a few minutes I need to get to.”
“Of course,” he replied.
I turned and started to walk away.
“Oh, drat, one other thing, Holden,” Roger said. “I haven’t heard from Sean and I still feel so bad about that nasty incident the night we first met. I’ve been so hoping he would call so I could apologize. Did you give him my number like I asked?”
I remember feeling awkward. With everything that had been going on, I had completely forgotten to give Sean Roger’s cell number.
“Sorry, Roger,” I replied. “I’ve been so busy I completely forgot. But I’ll be seeing Sean tonight. He’s coming by my room after he gets off work at Fat Boys. I’ll be sure to give it to him then; although, like I said before, I can’t promise he’ll call. He was very offended by what you did. But I’ll do my best to persuade him. In fact, I’m seeing him at lunch today. I may even mention it then.”
“Thank you, Holden,” Roger said. “I appreciate it so much. I really do want to make things right between the three of us.”
With that he let me go and I hurried off to class. It had been a long time since I was glad to bump into Roger, but he seemed genuinely happy for me and that reinforced my euphoria.
Maybe they’ve finally found the right medication for Roger at last. He seems to be doing so much better these days.
I’m glad for him.