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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 23, 2015: Chapter 17 is narrated by Sean.
THE OPENED DOOR
It was Tuesday morning and I had just finished work at the kiosk. Crossing the street, I made my way to the bench where I liked to hang out on my break. Sitting there, I savored what had happened that morning. It had been an eventful day for me already, no doubt about it.
Tony had been in his usual lousy mood when I arrived at the kiosk. Having already decided what I was going to do, I ignored his usual morning jibes. Picking up the papers he had set aside, I started to walk away. I figured that would cause a reaction and I was right about that.
“The magazines, asshole,” he screamed. “Every morning it’s the same thing with you, Sean; every morning I have to remind you to take the fucking magazines. Do you know how annoying that is; having to remind you every day?”
It was the opening I was looking for.
“I don’t know, Tony,” I responded. “How annoying is it?”
He looked at me intently for a moment and I could see the veins in his head begin throbbing even more rapidly than usual. I wondered whether I had gone too far in baiting him. If looks could kill, I would have been on my way to the morgue just from his glare.
“Always the wise-ass, Sean; is that it? I can’t count on you for much, but I can always count on you to give me lots of lip. Well, no, forget about it, Sean. I’m not going to let you give me a heart attack. Just pick up the magazines and get to work; and, by the way, you need to sell more of them, asshole. You’re not selling enough of the magazines.”
“You know what, Tony?” I responded, pushing back. “You’re right about that. I’m not selling enough of them because I could never sell enough of anything to satisfy you. But here’s the deal, dude; I won’t be selling any this morning. I’m not selling those magazines anymore. If you want to sell them, fine, but don’t ask me to peddle them for you. I’m not going to do it.”
“Who the hell do you think you are, you little shit?” he replied, enraged. “Do you think you’re the boss or something? I’m the boss around here, asshole. You work for me; and if you don’t want to sell those magazines, I’ll find someone who does.”
“Fine,” I said, setting the papers down, taking the money pouch off, and looking at him. “You do that, Tony. You find someone who works as hard as I do for as little as I do and puts up with your shitty personality to boot; like I told you, I’m not going to sell those pervy magazines anymore. And if you want to fire me and find someone who will, be my guest. But you better fire me quick because I’m out of here. I quit.”
With that I turned around and started to walk away.
“You can’t just quit like that,” he shouted. “What the hell am I supposed to do with all these papers and magazines if you quit? You need to give notice before you do something like that, Sean. It isn’t fair.”
I had to laugh when he said it. Tony talking to me about fairness was like the pot calling the kettle black. I turned around and looked at him.
“If you want me to stick around and sell papers today, I’ll do that,” I replied. “But not the magazines; like I said, I’m not selling them anymore. If you think you can find someone who can do this job better than me, go ahead and do it. But here’s a clue, Tony. No one wants this job. Both of us know that; and even if you could find someone who’s willing to do it, they wouldn’t sell as much as I do or put up with your rotten personality as long as I have.”
“That’s it, Tony. You have a choice. I’ll stick around today if you want; if not, I’m fine with leaving right now, but one way or the other you’ll need to find a replacement for me by the end of the summer. I’m going to college next fall and I won’t have time for this job anymore once I start.”
“It’s going to be hard finding a replacement for me, Tony,” I continued; “and it’s going to be even harder if you insist on calling whoever works for you an asshole in every other sentence that comes out of your filthy mouth. In any event, that’s not my problem; it’s yours. What do you want me to do?”
Tony stood there glaring at me for a couple of moments. Finally, realizing he didn’t have a choice and knowing how hard it was going to be to replace me, he made his decision.
“Jesus, such a freaking prude; but never mind. I need you to stick around today, Sean.”
Retrieving the money pouch and the papers I had set down, I walked away. Three hours later I was finished and returned everything to the kiosk.
“Will I see you tomorrow?” Tony asked.
“Do you want to see me?”
“Um, well, I guess. You’re a good worker, Sean. I know that; and as for calling you asshole and names like that, I’m sorry. Don’t take it so personal for Christ’s sake; I don’t mean any of that. It’s just the way I talk. Knowing it bothers you so much, I’ll try to do better.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll be here tomorrow morning at the usual time. Like I said, though, you need to start looking for a replacement. It won’t be easy.”
And that was the end of that. Being the practical businessman he was, Tony had made his decision, just like I had.
The whole thing had been satisfying when it played out originally; now, having gone over it again in my mind, it was just as satisfying.
I had spent much of the previous evening thinking about things and finally realized Tony and Warren were bullies who liked taking advantage of people. They were able to do that because most people were afraid to push back.
Bullies count on that, people putting up with whatever they dish out. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have much to lose and now I was glad I had stood up to Tony.
Looking up, I was surprised to see Holden walking toward me.
“And just what’s a good looking dude like you doing sitting outside on a bench like this?” he asked, smiling at me.
“Hmm . . . waiting to be picked up by some Harvard cutie maybe?” I replied.
“Consider it done,” he said. “How’s the day going, Sean?”
“It’s been different,” I responded, giggling. “I had a long talk with Tony this morning and I’m planning to talk to Warren this afternoon. I’ll tell you how everything goes when I come by your room tonight. How’s it going for you?”
“Great,” he said. “I brought the paperwork over to Professor Jeffords this morning and delivered it to him personally. He looked through it and said everything was in order. He especially liked your petition. He thought it was quite moving. He also told me they’re going to review it this Friday and he thinks it’ll be approved. I can’t believe it, Sean; I can’t believe you’re going to be going to school here next fall with me.”
“Me either,” I replied. “I haven’t mentioned this to my parents or anyone else for that matter. I’m not going to do that until it’s a done deal. I’m still worried something could go wrong. I mean, that’s been the story of my life pretty much up until now.”
“This time is going to be different, Sean,” he said. “This time everything’s going to work out just fine.”
“I hope so,” I responded. “I’m trying to stay positive, but I’m human. Sometimes I worry about things.”
“I understand,” he said, “but try not to. With Professor Jeffords backing your application, everything should turn out okay. By the way, the reason I came over is to tell you I won’t be able to have lunch with you today. Something came up.”
“That’s too bad,” I replied. “I was looking forward to it.”
“Oh, there’s one other thing I should mention before running off,” he added. “I bumped into Roger this morning. You wouldn’t believe it, Sean. It’s like night and day. He’s been apologizing profusely to me about that run in we had. I was suspicious the first time he did that a few days ago, but he was going on and on about it again this morning when we talked.”
“The only thing I can think is they’ve finally found the right medication for him. Like I told you before, he’s always been a bit of Jekyll and Hyde character, but it seems like Dr. Jekyll is finally in control. He’s been so nice to me; and like I said, he keeps apologizing.”
“When I saw him a few days ago, he asked me where you worked because he said he wanted to come over and apologize to you. I was suspicious about that so I didn’t tell him. He gave me his cell phone number and asked me to give it to you. He wants you to call so he can apologize.”
“I didn’t make any promises, but I also forgot to mention any of this to you. In any event, he raised it again this morning. Here’s his cell number.”
“Roger’s a jerk, Holden,” I replied, taking the piece of paper he was holding out toward me. “I understand he may have a split personality, but I kind of doubt dudes like Roger can ever change.”
“I hear you and I’m not going to insist you call him,” Holden said. “But it’s been several days now and he’s still being nice. That doesn’t fit the usual pattern with him. He usually can’t last being nice more than eight hours, if that. So the fact he’s been nice several days is encouraging.”
“In spite of everything he’s done, I feel sorry for Roger and I’m willing to accept his apology,” he continued. “He helped me out with a lot of things when we first got to Harvard. It’d be nice if you could give him a little reinforcement. Like I said, I’m not going to insist on that. I’ve done my duty by giving you his number. You can decide for yourself what you want to do.”
“Okay;” I responded. “I need to head off to Fat Boys soon. I’ll think about what you said and whether to call him. I don’t trust the dude personally, but I’ll think about it.”
“That’s all I can ask, Sean,” he said.
“In any event, I’ll come by your place tonight at the usual time,” I added. “Hopefully I’ll have good news to report and we can celebrate.”
“Can you stay overnight?” Holden asked.
“I wish,” I said, sighing, “but doing that during the week is impossible with all the fighting going on back at the house between Kev and my father. Maybe this weekend I can stay again.”
He took it pretty well under the circumstances.
“Just be sure to stop by,” he replied. “I’m going to need some kisses to make it through the night without you.”
Later that afternoon my cell phone buzzed while I was on break.
“This is Sean,” I answered. “What’s happening?”
“I love you, Sean,” Holden whispered into my phone seductively.
Hearing him say that aroused me and I could feel myself stiffening.
“That’s it?” I said. “That’s why you called?”
“Isn’t that a good enough reason to call the love of my life?” he asked.
“Um, well, sure;” I replied; “of course; and I feel the same way. But, um, I think we should discuss this later tonight. You can’t just say something like that and not expect it to cause a reaction; if you know what I mean?”
“Oh, I see,” he said. “Hardening up, are we? It’s good to know you’re so easily aroused, Sean. I’ll have to remember that when I see you tonight.”
“You do that,” I responded. “But you’ll pay a price if you do.”
That was the end of our conversation and it was a timely ending for just then Warren wandered by, looked at the bulge in my pants, and smiled.
“Wow,” he said, grinning at me. “If I had known my presence was going to produce that kind of reaction, I would have come out here sooner.”
Don’t delude yourself, Warren.
Reaching over, he goosed my ass quickly. I was used to that by now. But instead of leaving it at that, he pulled me back against his groin and went for the complete grope instead.
There were no customers around at the moment, but the rest of the guys were there and saw what was happening. By now all of us were used to that, at least used to the goosing. Still, it was embarrassing being groped liked that in front of the guys.
“If you’re going to do shit like that, Warren, how about doing it where we’ll have a little more privacy?” I said.
Surprised, he raised his eyebrows like he usually did when something caught him off-guard. I could tell he hadn’t been expecting me to say something like that.
He looked at me oddly for a moment, licked his lips, and then smirked.
“Sure,” he said; “whatever makes you comfortable, Sean. My office should be private enough for us to get to know one another better. Jonathan, get your ass out here; now.”
Jonathan was the manager for the day and he quickly emerged from the little cubby near Warren’s office in the rear of the place.
“What’s up, Warren?” he asked. “Did Sean screw up again?”
“No,” Warren replied. “For once he seems to be doing everything right. Why don’t you take his place behind the counter for now; Sean and I are going to have a private conversation in my office to see if we can come to some kind of understanding.”
“But I’m the manager,” Jonathan protested. “Managers don’t work the counter.”
“Managers do whatever I tell them to do, Jonathan,” Warren replied. “You know that and you do a damn fine job of it too,” he added, rubbing his groin.
That caused Jonathan to blush. Confused, he hesitated for a moment.
“I said get that ass of yours behind the counter, Jonathan. Now!”
I wanted to roll my eyes, but was able to suppress the reflex. Strangely enough I felt bad for the kid, but I knew he wouldn’t push back. Like most of us, he needed the job and would do whatever Warren told him.
With Jonathan ensconced behind the counter, Warren and I disappeared back to his office.
“Well, well, well,” he said, looking at me once we got there. “Finally wising up, eh, Sean?”
“Good for you,” he added, rubbing his hand against my cheek. “You’re much too cute to waste behind the counter.”
“I am wising up,” I said. “In fact, you know what, Warren? I’ve gotten so fucking wise I spoke to a lawyer yesterday. You know what he told me?”
“I have no idea, Sean. What did he tell you?”
“He told me what you’re doing at Fat Boys is sexual harassment and that I should sue you for every penny you have. He thinks the case will be a slam dunk, especially once some of the other guys who work here become part of the suit.”
“I don’t think that’ll be much of a problem given how little you pay us, Warren, especially once I tell them how much they stand to collect if we sue. But I told the lawyer I wanted to have a talk with you before I did something drastic like that.”
“Here’s what I think, Warren,” I continued. “You own this place and we work for you, but that doesn’t give you the right to harass us; to treat us like we’re your boy toys. That’s not just wrong; it’s illegal. So here’s the deal, dude. If you ever touch me or anyone else in here again without their consent, we’ll sue you. We’ll sue for everything you have. Do you understand?”
By now Warren’s face had gone white. It was obvious he understood what I was saying, but for a moment he tried to bluff his way out of trouble.
“Don’t threaten me, Sean,” he responded. “I have more money than you and more lawyers too. You don’t scare me with your threats. I didn’t get this far in life without knowing a thing or two. Hell, I bet you didn’t even talk to a real lawyer. If you talked to anyone, it was probably some student at the Law School; or more likely still, one of those dudes at Dewey, Cheatham & Howe. That’s the only lawyer you can afford, Sean.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Warren,” I shot back. “I actually talked to two lawyers. One is the head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department in Washington.”
“Here’s his card,” I said, shoving the card Holden had given me into Warren’s hand. “The other lawyer is a personal friend of his and he’s going to take the case on commission because he likes putting dudes like you out of business.”
“I’m not threatening you, Warren,” I continued, calmly. “I’m just telling you what I’m going to do if you don’t wise up; so, yeah, by all means, talk to those lawyers of yours. Tell them the truth and see what they think because the truth will come out one way or the other if we end up taking you to court. And you know what?”
“I suspect both of us already know what those lawyers of yours will tell you, Warren; so what’s it going to be? Are you going to start treating us with the respect and dignity we deserve; or would you prefer to settle this in court?”
“I can go either way to be honest, but I don’t think a lawsuit will be good for business. There’ll be a lot of publicity and probably picket lines manned by some of those students at Harvard. Like I said, I don’t think any of that will help with customers. I suspect a lot of them will find some other place to eat.”
That was pretty much the end of it. Warren may have been gross, but he wasn’t stupid. He understood just how shaky his position was and he promised to keep his hands off of me and the rest of the guys who worked for him.
Not that I was counting on his promise; I figured Warren would take a little time and then think about firing me for some manufactured reason. In the end, however, I doubted he would take the risk. There were too many people who had seen what he had done; and even if he did fire me, it wouldn’t be that big a deal.
Knowing I was going to college in the fall had suddenly become liberating for me and I was happy about that. I felt like I was finally in charge of my life for a change.
After my run-in with Warren, the rest of the day proved uneventful. I finished my shift at 7:00 p.m. as usual, hung up my apron, and made my way to the door. I was proud of myself. For once, everything had gone right that day. I was looking forward to spending some time with Holden before going home.
Crossing the street, I walked up Massachusetts Avenue and entered the Yard through the gate behind Widener Library. Turning right, I started to walk toward Wigglesworth, only to be surprised when I heard the voice behind me.
“Sean, do you have a minute to talk?”
Turning around, I saw Roger looking at me. He had positioned himself in a way that had caused me not to see him when I entered the Yard.
Great, I thought, just great; the last person in the world I want to see.
“I’m sorry to detain you, Sean,” he continued. “I imagine you’re on the way to see Holden. If you’d rather not talk to me now, perhaps we could arrange some time when we could?”
How about when hell freezes over, Roger?
I wasn’t really interested in talking to him. Having said that, I was in a good mood and figured I should try to be polite, if only for Holden’s sake.
“That’s okay,” I responded. “I’m surprised to see you, but we can talk if you want, Roger. Just so you know, I ran into Holden earlier today and he told me you wanted to apologize for your behavior the last time we met. That isn’t necessary. I know Holden’s already forgiven you and that’s good enough for me.”
“That’s very nice of you, Sean,” he replied. “I’m glad you don’t harbor any hard feelings. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. I don’t know why I do things like that sometimes, but I really am very sorry. But that’s not the reason I wanted to talk to you.”
“I want to welcome you to Harvard; prematurely, I suppose, but most sincerely nonetheless. Holden told me about your good fortune earlier today. I thought I knew everything about Harvard, but I have to confess I was surprised when he told me about that special admissions procedure.”
“Congratulations! I imagine you must be very excited about joining our little community of scholars here at Harvard.”
“I am,” I replied. “Assuming everything goes according to plan, of course. There are times when I still worry about that a little, but Professor Jeffords reassured me there shouldn’t be any problem. I hope he’s right about that.”
“I’m sure he is, Sean,” Roger said. “I mean, admittedly, I was surprised when Holden explained the whole thing to me. I had never heard of that and neither had my father when I called him. I don’t know if Holden told you, but my father is a member of the Board of Overseers, the group that will be considering your petition.”
“Like I said, being surprised, I called Dad right after Holden and I finished talking. I asked him whether he was aware of that special admissions procedure. Like me, he didn’t know anything about it. But he called the Dean of Admissions and, sure enough, everything Professor Jeffords told you is true; and, of course, I’ll be only too happy to put in a good word for you with Dad when your petition reaches the Board.”
“Thanks, Roger,” I responded. “From what I’ve heard, the Board usually ratifies whatever the Admissions Committee recommends; at least that’s what Professor Jeffords told me.”
“Yes; he was right about that,” Roger replied. “That’s what my father said as well.”
Hesitating momentarily, Roger finally spoke up again.
“Um, well, I’m not really sure whether I should mention this, but I happened to see you in Stoughton Hall last week. That’s where I live, you know. I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Whenever it was, I was surprised to see you. It made me wonder what you were doing there, not being a student and knowing Holden lives in Wigglesworth.”
“To make a long story short, I asked around and, lo and behold, I discovered you were making a number of, um . . . making some deliveries to some of my classmates. And I have to say I was a little surprised when I learned what you were delivering.”
“I mean, the truth is, I’ve been looking for someone to sell me some pot ever since arriving at Harvard last fall; discreetly, of course. Unfortunately, I’ve been unsuccessful in spite of my best efforts; and, well, ah, I was just wondering if it might be possible for me to obtain some marijuana from you?”
“I would pay, of course; whatever your asking price is, I would pay. Our family is quite wealthy after all so paying you handsomely wouldn’t be a problem. In any event, I hope you won’t feel offended by my asking.”
“Not really,” I replied. “Why would I be offended? You’re not the only one in your class that smokes weed or wants to smoke it; and ordinarily I’d be glad to sell you some. If you had asked a few weeks ago, I could have done that. But I’ve decided to get out of the business. I was probably making my final deliveries if you saw me last week. The bottom line is that I don’t have any weed to sell you. I’m out of the business.”
“Oh, drat!” he said, disappointed. “That is bad news, at least for me. I was really looking forward to getting my hands on some weed, Sean. You can’t begin to imagine how disappointed I am.”
“Well, you know, it isn’t like it’s the end of the world that I’ve decided to get out of the business, Roger,” I replied. “Let’s not fool ourselves. The minute I told my suppliers I was quitting they were on the phone lining up a replacement for me. From what I gather, he’s already on the job. Ask around and you should be able to arrange a meeting with him. I’m sure he would be happy to sell you some marijuana.”
“Of course, I’m not sure you should be smoking it, Roger,” I continued. “When we talked earlier today, Holden filled me in on your, um, mood swings. I’m not sure smoking weed would be the best thing in the world for you. But if you’re determined to do it, you shouldn’t have a problem finding some. It’s all over Cambridge pretty much.”
“I appreciate your concern, Sean,” he replied. “I really do. I hope we’ll become friends once you start here next fall. But Holden probably exaggerated a bit. I think smoking marijuana would actually mellow me out. Do you happen to know who this new supplier is and how I might get in touch with him?”
“I don’t know the dude personally,” I said, “but I do have his cell phone number. If you have a pen, I can write it down for you.”
Retrieving a pen and some paper, Roger handed them to me. I wrote down my replacement’s number. My suppliers had insisted on me having it in the event I got any calls from former customers wondering where I was or, like Roger, how to go about getting in touch with the guy.
“There you go,” I said, handing the slip of paper and his pen back to him.
“Thank you, Sean. That’ll be a big help.”
He hesitated again and I knew there was something more he wanted to say.
“I don’t want to make a pest of myself, Sean, but are you sure you don’t have any marijuana left over you could sell me? I’ll certainly call this fellow tomorrow to arrange a meeting, but I was really looking forward to smoking this evening.”
“I have a friend coming over to my room and I kind of promised him we could smoke. Anything you could provide would help. Even one or two joints would be welcomed; and, like I said, I would be more than happy to pay a king’s ransom.”
You have a friend, Roger? Now that’s a surprise.
I remember shaking my head. The dude was persistent. I had to give him that. Roger wasn’t someone easily deterred when he wanted something.
“What about this?” I replied. “Right after we met I sold Holden a nickel bag of marijuana. The two of us smoked a little, but not all that much. The bag is still up in his room. How about I ask him about us giving it to you? Neither of us wants it anymore and it would probably be smart to get rid of it. I don’t think Holden would object to us giving it to you; no charge.”
“Oh, Lord, that’s much too generous, Sean,” he responded. “There’s no way I’m going to take a gift like that from you. I realize you don’t get the stuff for free. I would definitely want to reimburse you for your expense at least.”
“Holden already has,” I replied. “I sold it to him at cost; $35. So it’s not like I’m out any money, Roger.”
“But Holden would be,” Roger countered. “If not you, I would want to reimburse him.”
By now I was tired of the whole thing. I had already spent way too much time talking to Roger. I wanted to be on my way.
“Look, what’s your room number in Stoughton Hall?” I asked. “I’m on my way to see Holden and I’ll ask him about this. Like I said, I’m sure he’ll be only too happy to agree. If he does, I’ll bring the stuff over to your room before I go home tonight. If you still want to pay, you can. I’ll give the money to Holden tomorrow. Does that work for you, Roger?”
“That would be perfect, Sean,” he replied. “I appreciate it so much; and there’s no need to rush either. As I’m sure you know as well as anyone, college students spend half their nights carousing. I’m no different than my classmates that way. I’ll be there whenever you arrive.”
“Here’s my room number,” he added, writing it down and handing it to me. “If you misplace it for any reason, Holden has it as well. Like I said, you can stop by any time.”
“That’s fine,” I replied. “I’ll see you later, Roger.”
“Ta, ta, for now, Sean,” he said, turning and walking off.
I remember shaking my head again.
Just like Holden had told me, Roger was a strange one. Stopping by his room on my way home would take me a little out of my way. But if giving some marijuana to Roger would get him out of my hair, it would be well worth the time and effort.