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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.
The end of the day was usually a mixed blessing for me. Having put in my time at Fat Boys, I was only too happy to hang up my apron and get out of the place. Most of the time, however, my evenings were equally busy.
Sometimes I would ride the T into Boston to buy or sell tickets to upcoming sporting events. There was money to be made doing that, sometimes very good money indeed. But since the cops in Boston liked nothing better than hassling scalpers like me and I had already been hassled enough for one day, tonight I was on my way home instead.
I would have to come back to the area later that evening, but I was glad to be on my way home. I was using the time to clear away some of the day’s negative vibes, especially my encounter with Warren.
That dude thinks he can get away with anything, Sean. You shouldn’t have to put up with shit like that just because you work for someone; and you shouldn’t have to be screamed at all the time like Tony does either.
Like I said, however, I was happy to be on my way home in spite of those dudes. Not that the place I was headed to on Tremont Street was really our home. It was just an apartment in a large house we shared with three other families. The six of us had been living there forever.
There were my parents, of course, and my three younger brothers, all of us Catholic. My mother was especially devout, bless her heart; unlike me, she insisted on practicing all of that mumbo-jumbo the Church liked to preach. When she was younger and just married, she had even relied on the rhythm method. Me and my brothers were testimony to just how effective that was.
Not that the Church cared very much. Fertile mothers who were devout and oversexed fathers were the recipe on which our parish was built. I loved my mother and brothers, but didn’t much care for my father. There were a lot of reasons for that, including the fact the man was lazy and had never earned enough money to rent an apartment suitable for six.
The place was too small and cramped.
I mean, here I was, eighteen years old and I didn’t even have a room of my own. I had to share one with Kevin; and now that I was out of high school and working for Tony and Warren, my father was making me pay room and board on top of everything else.
It was like I was a kid again, shoveling snow and then handing over everything I earned to the old man at the end of the day. He would tell me we were part of a family and everyone had to contribute. Then he would give me a few nickels and dimes to make me feel grateful; and I did feel grateful because it had made a big impression on me knowing I was part of a family.
But I wasn’t buying it anymore. We may have been family, but he was a lousy father. He didn’t care that I wanted to go to college; that I wanted Kevin and my two younger brothers to go to college as well. The only thing he wanted was whatever I earned so he could sit on his ass and drink beer every night. I wouldn’t have begrudged the man except, the more he drank, the more obnoxious and belligerent he became.
On top of that, he was taking more from me than my friends had to give to their parents; a lot more. He didn’t know I had my own business now and I wasn’t about to tell him. He would have wanted a share of that as well, but it was the only thing that allowed me to save anything at all for college.
So there I was on my way home knowing I would have to get up the next morning and do the same shit all over again; day after day, week after week, month after month.
Getting up early to sell papers for a couple of hours down at the kiosk; I hardly made any money from that. From there on to Fat Boys; you try standing on your feet eight hours a day making sandwiches for ungrateful customers and a boss who likes fondling you.
The truth is I pretty much hated my life, but at least I was on my way home. I was looking forward to a little peace and quiet at the end of the day.
Rounding the corner on to Tremont, I could hear the raised voices as I approached the house.
Oh, Jesus; not again, not tonight.
Opening the door, there the three of them were; my father and Kevin screaming at one another while my mother hovered nearby trying to prevent them from coming to blows. Somewhere upstairs my two youngest brothers were cowering in their room, listening to all of this shit and wondering whether this was what being part of a family meant.
“Get the fuck up to that room of yours right now,” my father bellowed. “If I have to tell you again, I’m going to give you a whipping, Kevin; one you won’t forget anytime soon.”
“I’m not your slave,” Kev screamed back. “I’ll go upstairs when I’m good and ready.”
Turning and looking at me, my mother pleaded for help.
“Oh thank God; you’re home, Sean. Do something please. They’re going to kill one another.”
And that would be a problem how exactly, Mom? I recall thinking.
But I didn’t mean it, of course. Striding forward, I stepped between the two of them.
“I’m sure the neighbors must love the free entertainment the two of you are providing,” I volunteered, “but I’m not. You’re embarrassing Mom and scaring the boys and I don’t want to hear any more of this shit. Kevin, get that ass of yours upstairs.”
He glared at me for a moment trying to decide what to do.
“I’ll do it for you,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, “not for him. I’m not his slave, but I’ll do it for you, Sean.”
With that he turned and headed toward the stairs.
“We’ll talk about this again tomorrow, you little shit,” my father screamed as Kevin retreated.
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Kev responded. “I’m tired of all this bullshit. I’m out of here tomorrow, once and for all.”
“Good riddance,” my father spit back. “Leave tonight for all I care. It’ll be one less mouth I have to feed.”
“He didn’t mean it,” my mother said, following Kev toward the stairs. “Your father loves you, Kevin, just like I do. This is your home. It always will be.”
“What the hell is this all about Pop?” I asked, trying to divert his attention to me.
“It’s about that asshole brother of yours,” he said. “If he thinks he can live in this house and disobey me, he’s got another think coming. I didn’t put up with that shit from you, Sean, and I’m not about to start now.”
“I understand,” I said, trying to smooth things over. “But what started this?”
“I told him he needed to clean out the garage tonight,” my father responded. “There’s too much shit piling up inside the garage and we need to get rid of some of it. He said he would do it tomorrow, that he had plans for the evening, but I told him I didn’t give a shit what plans he had; that it was a big job and he needed to get started tonight.”
“I made it clear what I expected, Sean, but the little shit tried to sneak out of the house while I wasn’t looking. Fortunately, I caught a glimpse of him skulking away and made him come back. I just finished telling him he was grounded for a week for disobeying me and needed to go to bed early as well.”
“He had plans for the evening, John,” my mother chimed in, turning her attention back to the two of us. “His friend invited him over to watch the Red Sox game on television tonight. You know how much he loves the Red Sox.”
“I don’t give a shit what he loves,” my father responded; “and I don’t like him hanging out with that friend of his either. I have my doubts about that kid and I don’t want my son hanging around with him. You never know what might happen.”
By now everything was becoming clear. A couple of weeks earlier my father had asked me whether I thought Kevin’s friend Bobby was gay; except that wasn’t how he put it, of course. What he had asked was whether I thought Bobby was a fairy.
To say the least, Pop wasn’t an enlightened thinker. He detested gay people. He didn’t know Kevin was gay, of course; if he had, he would have been apoplectic and kicked him out of the house. He didn’t know I was gay either. It was the main reason I had never told Kev or anyone else.
Unlike Kevin, I had a way of soothing my father. Knowing how homophobic he was, how nasty and violent he could be when he drank, I felt like I could better protect my brothers from him by keeping the whole thing secret.
I hadn’t told my father Bobby was gay even though I knew that he was. But I hadn’t lied either; I had just told him Bobby was a good influence on Kevin and that was the truth. And yet now it was clear Pop harbored some lingering doubts about the kid and needed to be reassured again.
“Listen, Pop, I know you have doubts about Bobby, but I don’t understand why. It’s like I told you before. He’s a good boy and a good influence on Kevin. He’s an altar boy and attends Mass most days. Father Anthony speaks highly of him; just ask him after Mass this Sunday if you go.”
“Yeah, he’s quiet and shy and not especially outgoing around adults,” I added, “but that’s just his personality. I don’t understand why you’re so worried about him.”
“He wears a fucking earring, Sean, just like a girl for Christ’s sake,” my father spit back.
He hadn’t mentioned that detail before, but now the whole thing was clear to me.
“That’s it, Pop? He wears an earring? That’s what you’re worried about?”
“You don’t think I should be worried?” he responded. “What kind of boy wears an earring like that?”
“You’re too much, Pop,” I said, laughing. “You need to go by Cambridge Latin some day and take a walk around the place. Lots of boys wear earrings today.”
“You don’t wear one, Sean,” he responded. “Kevin doesn’t wear one; and I don’t want some fucking fruitcake persuading him to wear one either. It’s unbelievable, Sean; a boy wearing an earring? If a boy wore an earring like that when I was growing up, my brothers and I would have beaten the shit out of him.”
That was true enough; bigotry ran deep on Pop’s side of the family.
“We don’t wear earrings because we respect how you were raised,” I lied, “but kids are different today. Things change, Pop, and you won’t be doing Kevin any favors if you refuse to deal with that. There are tons of kids into booze and drugs these days, a lot of them at Cambridge Latin. Would you rather have Kevin be friends with them just because they don’t wear earrings?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, shaking his head. “I don’t understand these kids. When I was growing up, boys were boys and girls were girls. That’s the way it was. I just don’t want Kevin turning into some pansy. Is that asking too much?”
“You don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to Kevin, Pop,” I said. “You can be proud of him. If I thought for a minute Bobby was a bad influence, I would beat the crap out of him. You know that. But kids don’t behave exactly the way you and your brothers did anymore. You’re going to have to learn to live with that if you don’t want Kevin to end up hating you.”
Which he already does by the way, you jerk.
“But, no; you have nothing to worry about, Pop; trust me. And you don’t have to worry about Bobby either. Both of those boys are as masculine as me.”
Nice touch, Sean, I said to myself even as I tried to avoid smirking.
None of it really addressed his concern, but I could see his anger abating. He didn’t like it, but knew I was right; that kids were different these days.
“I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. I don’t understand this younger generation.”
“I understand,” I said, reassuring him again. “But Kevin and Bobby are friends and they’re good for one another. Trust me. Kevin is going to turn out just fine.”
In spite of you, you bigoted son of a bitch!
“Okay; maybe you’re right,” he said. “But he shouldn’t have disobeyed me tonight, Sean. I told him to clean out the garage and he needs to do that.”
“Sure, Pop; I understand,” I replied. “But from what Mom says, he and Bobby had been planning to watch the Red Sox game tonight. When was the last time you saw some fruitcake watching a baseball game?”
“Fruitcakes are into ballet and that kind of shit, Pop,” I added, playing to the man’s ignorance. “The point is you caught him by surprise. And, really, how much could he have accomplished tonight after all? It makes more sense to do something like that during the day right after school.”
“Maybe you’re right,” he said.
“Look, Pop, how about meeting me halfway? If Kevin apologizes, could you lift his grounding? You need to be fair. Kevin was wrong, but you overreacted. You don’t want to end up making your own son hate you.”
Any more than he already does; which is a lot.
“I’ll think about it,” he replied; “assuming he apologizes, of course.”
That was good enough for me. Persuading the old man to think about something usually meant he would do it. He was just too hardheaded to ever actually say he would.
“Thanks,” I replied, walking away. “I’m going upstairs now.”
“Sean,” he said, calling after me.
“You need to get a haircut, Sean. A bird could build a fucking nest in that mop on you head. You’re beginning to look like a girl; get a haircut for Christ’s sake.”
“Sure, Pop,” I lied; “maybe this weekend.”
Kevin was on his bed by the time I got to our room. His back was turned to me. He didn’t say anything, just ignored me while I climbed onto my bed. I knew he was angry; more than angry, really. He was boiling mad and about to explode.
Partly he was annoyed with me because I was the one always telling him not to let Pop know he was gay. Not being honest like that bothered him even though he understood at some level I was right. But he wasn’t mad at me; not really. He was mad at Pop and mostly just giving me the cold shoulder for not siding with him downstairs.
Knowing saying something would bring all of his anger flooding out, I cleared my throat.
“Um, look, Kev . . .”
“I am not apologizing to that man, Sean,” he said, interrupting me like I knew he would do. “I’ll clean out the garage tomorrow, but I am not going to apologize to that son of a bitch. You can forget about that. What do I have to apologize for? I’ll spend all afternoon cleaning the place out and putting things aside to toss; and then at the end of the day when I’m finished, the asshole will decide he doesn’t want to throw anything out after all.”
“You know that, Sean. You know I’m telling the truth.”
“I do,” I replied, softly.
It had happened before many times, including to me more than once. It was deliberate; one of the ways Pop liked to prove to his sons who was the boss in our house. The man could be pathetic that way.
“He hates Bobby because he thinks he’s gay and he’s right, Sean,” Kevin continued. “Bobby’s gay and I am too and we’re not ashamed of it either. I’m going to tell him first thing tomorrow morning and nothing you say can change that.”
“And then what?” I asked. “You know how insecure the man is because you’re smarter than him; how homophobic he is. He’ll toss your ass out the door. Where do you plan to live, Kevin? I’m working two jobs and I can’t even afford to move out of this zoo myself.”
“Where the hell are you going to live? You’re fourteen years old for crying out loud.”
“Maybe Bobby’s parents will take me in,” he responded, although it was obvious from the tone of his voice he knew that wasn’t true.
“Oh, yeah, right, Kev!” I said. “Bobby’s independently wealthy parents; they’ll be happy to take you in. NOT! If you’re counting on someone taking you in, forget about it. All the people we know are barely making it themselves. They live from paycheck to paycheck like us. They don’t have the money to take you in. Sorry to disillusion you, Kev.”
“Okay,” he responded, defiantly. “Then I’ll move into Boston. I’m sure someone there would be happy to take me in. In fact, I already know one dude who would probably do that if I needed a place to stay. He’s an old dude, but cool. I think he would do it if I asked.”
“Perfect,” I said; “some old perv in Boston who likes little boys; is that it, Kev? Yeah, I’m sure there are lots of pervs in Boston who would be happy to take you in, but guess what Kevin? They’re not going to share you with Bobby. They’re going to want exclusive dibs on that little ass of yours.”
“And what about school; do you really want to end up like Pop? Do you really want to be poor all your life? If you want to avoid ending up like Pop, you need a real education; not the kind of education you’ll be getting on the streets of Boston.”
“Look, Kev, I know how hard it is living here with the old man,” I continued. “If I could get a place myself, I would get you out of here in a flash. Believe me; I would. But I can’t, at least not for now.”
“The point is you need to bite your tongue and deal with the man unless you prefer being grounded and not seeing Bobby for a week.”
I paused momentarily to let that sink in; knowing how much Kevin liked Bobby I figured it would soften him up.
“What sense does that make when you can handle the whole thing with a few well-chosen words,” I continued: “I should have handled things better last night, Pop. I’m sorry about that. I’ll clean out the garage today after school just like you asked.”
“How hard is that Kevin? You wouldn’t even be apologizing to the man; just telling him you could have handled things better. Even you know that’s true.”
“I’ll think about it,” he said.
I remember laughing, silently. As much as he hated the old man, the two of them were alike in some ways. Both of them were hard-headed. Both of them needed to win.
Thinking about it, Kev would realize I was right; that I had given him a way to smooth things over without actually apologizing. In the end he would do that if only to prove to himself how much smarter he was than Pop. And that was just fine with me because I already knew that he was.
We spent the next couple of hours talking about nothing much. By the time I had to leave, Kevin had finally calmed down.
“Look, Kev, I have to go back up to the Square for a little while.”
“Why?” he responded.
“Uh, well, I just remembered a friend invited me over to watch the Red Sox game with him tonight. I’m late, but I can still catch the last couple of innings if I leave right now.”
“Is he cute?” Kevin shot back.
“Give me a break, would you, Kev? It’s just a Red Sox game; it’s not like I’m meeting someone to mess around with.”
“And just which one of your many friends are we talking about, Sean?” he asked. “The last time I checked you told me you didn’t have time for friends.”
“Stop grilling me like Mom, Kev,” I responded, not wanting to lie to him anymore. “I don’t have to tell you everything that’s going on in my life.”
“You don’t,” he said, “but I know anyways. I know everything, Sean. But never mind; you can go if you have to. All I’ll say is that we never used to have secrets, you and me; we used to tell each other everything. But ever since you started working, I hardly ever see you anymore. I miss that.”
“Um, well, I’m sorry, dude,” I replied. “It’s been hard on me too. But you know why I spend all my time working. I’m trying to save some money for college and not just for me; for you too.”
“Don’t lie to me, Sean,” he responded. “I know you want to make money so you can go to college and maybe help me out as well if you can. But that’s not why you’re going back up to Harvard Square and you’re not going up there to watch some baseball game either. I’ll let you go for now, but we need to talk about why you’re going back. We need to talk about that soon.”
“Okay,” I replied, softly. “Let’s talk about it then; soon.”
Kevin hadn’t said a lot, but he was smart; a lot smarter than me in many ways. He knew I was gay even though I still denied it to him.
How much more does he know, Sean?
Knowing how smart he was, I wasn’t sure and that made the walk back toward Harvard more difficult that evening. It also caused me to start thinking about things again.
At some point after I started working for Tony and Warren I realized I was never going to make it to college unless I supplemented my income somehow; and not just by scalping tickets either. That helped some, but not enough to make a real difference.
Then someone mentioned to me how he peddled a little marijuana on the side to earn money and how the suppliers were always looking for guys like me to help grow the business.
That’s how I got into pot. It also explains why I was standing there near the garage at the corner of Oxford and Everett Streets at 11:00 o’clock completing still another transaction with my suppliers.
“There you go, Sean,” the dude said, tucking the last bag of pot into my backpack and helping lift it on to my shoulders. “You’re good to go. We’ll see you back here next week; same time, same place. Just don’t forget to bring our money. We’re not running a charity here, Sean. It’d be a shame if something unfortunate happened to you.”
It was annoying.
I had been doing business with these dudes for months now and had never missed a payment. They knew that, just like I knew he was right. They weren’t running a charity. They already took the biggest share of the profits just for supplying me with the stuff; and because they provided the upfront financing that allowed me to pay them back after I sold it, my share was reduced even further.
But tonight was different. This was going my biggest stash ever, the one that would earn me enough to start paying for the marijuana upfront and bump up my share of the profits. After another shitty day, things were finally starting to look up.
“Thanks,” I responded. “It’s always nice to see how much faith you dudes have in me.”
“Nothing personal, Sean; it’s just business.”
I was about to respond when I heard the distinctive whoop and saw the red light on top of the vehicle begin flashing.
“What the fuck?” my dealer said, yanking open the door to his car and jumping in.
“Get us out of here,” he screamed to his partner.
With that the car sped off, tires screeching, exhaust belching from the tailpipe, a police vehicle in pursuit.
Looking around, I saw a couple of cops approaching from some distance away. One had his gun trained on me.
“Lie down on the ground and put your hands behind your head, son.”
No way, dude; there’s no fucking way I’m going down like this.
Turning around, I bolted down Oxford Street toward the Plaza.
“Stop,” one of the cops shouted.
But I wasn’t about to stop. They were campus cops after all. Unlike the Cambridge Police Department, I doubted they’d shoot. For all they knew I might be a student and shooting a student was frowned on at Harvard; at least, I thought it might be.
Fortunately, I was right about that. The one dude holstered his pistol and joined his partner in pursuit, trying to chase me down. But by now I had an excellent head start and was running as fast as I could. Having been on the track team as a freshman in high school, I was pretty certain I was running a lot faster than those out-of-shape dudes.
Approaching the Plaza, a question occurred.
Through the Yard or around it, Sean?
The answer came instantly. If I tried to circle the Yard, still other cops would be able to chase me down in their vehicles. But inside the Yard the cops would have to pursue me on foot. My chances seemed better that way. So I raced through the gate and into the Yard without hesitation.
It was the right choice given the circumstances, but once inside I realized again what a trap the Yard could be. The number of entrances and exits was limited and not all of them were open at night. It wouldn’t take much for campus security to blanket the place, especially if they asked the Cambridge Police to help out.
It wouldn’t happen instantaneously, of course. It would take a while and there was a decent chance I could reach one of the gates before they closed it; at least I was hoping I could.
It must have been the voices in the distance echoing throughout the Yard. They were becoming a little clearer again now; still distant and indistinct but louder.
Damn! How long have you been sitting here on your ass, dude.
You need to get moving, Sean.
Standing up, I knew I had to do something. But that was the problem with Harvard Yard. There was too much open space and too few hiding places, at least good hiding places; ones that weren’t obvious.
Suddenly it occurred to me again I was about to spend the rest of my life in jail with Bubba; or at least whatever the mandatory minimum was for possessing more than a couple of ounces of marijuana.
A couple of ounces?
I remember laughing.
Jesus Christ, dude, you’re carrying enough to get everyone who lives in the Yard high.
They’re going to throw the fucking key away when they catch you.
Don’t just stand here waiting to be arrested, Sean; if you’re going to go down, at least make the motherfuckers work for it.
From my vantage point near the corner of Widener, it was hard to be certain whether the Dexter Gate exit was open. So I looked to my right to see whether the larger and more visible gate directly behind Widener was. That’s when my heart sank.
All I could see were flashing lights and a couple of Cambridge Police Department cruisers blocking the exit. A couple of city cops were standing around chatting with one another and someone from campus security.
For a moment I considered giving up again. I knew it would only be a little while before the cops in my rear caught up. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear their voices shouting at one another. It wouldn’t be long before they were on top of me.
Not knowing what else to do, I pretended to be a student and walked casually from the side of Widener toward Wigglesworth Hall, one of the freshman dorms that housed several customers of mine.
Turn left, Sean; away from the gate that’s blockaded. There’s no other choice.
Having done that, I could also now see that the Dexter Gate exit was closed.
You can’t turn around so be sure to walk slowly, dude. You don’t want to be calling attention to yourself. You still have one card left to play
One of the good things about Wigglesworth was that it had multiple entrances spaced fairly close together.
Yeah, but that’s stupid, Sean, the inner voice volunteered. They keep those doors locked and you don’t have a key to get in.
Shut the fuck up, I replied dismissively. Do you have a better idea?
Being close to Lamont, the undergraduate library, I knew a lot of the students who lived in Wigglesworth preferred studying there late at night. What I was hoping was that someone would emerge from the library and open one of the Wigglesworth entrances. That would allow me to piggy-back my way into the building.
If no one came along immediately, I figured I could buy a couple of minutes by pulling my cell phone out and pretending I was calling someone inside to let me in.
In the meantime, I could think about the best way to run if no one came by at all.
Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a plan, but it was better than nothing.
Suddenly one of the doors opened and a student emerged from Wigglesworth. I had no idea where he was headed as he brushed past me, but quickly raced toward the door before it closed behind him.
“Hey you,” I heard someone shout from the gate behind Widener.
Pretending not to hear, I walked inside. At that point my choices were limited. I could head for the basement one of my customers had told me about that ran beneath Wigglesworth, but didn’t know what was down there; or I could head up the stairs to the one of the floors above.
Figuring the cops would search the basement first if they came looking for me, I raced up the stairs to the top floor.
Looking around frantically, it quickly became apparent there was no place to hide.
I was doomed.
Give it up, Sean. There’s no way out from here.
And then a door cracked open and I heard a voice.