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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. August 17, 2015: I forgot to mention that no one is editing this story for spelling or grammatical errors. Some grammatical errors like sentence fragments may be intentional because people don’t speak in perfectly formed sentences in real life. But I always appreciate it when people call errors to my attention so I can fix them if need be.
THE OPENED DOOR
Lunging toward the opened door, a boy stepped aside and allowed me to enter; as soon as I had, he quickly closed the door behind us and locked it.
“Thanks,” I said, gasping.
His timing had been perfect. Within moments I heard campus security enter the building. There was silence briefly and I wondered whether they had seen where I went. The next thing I recall was hearing voices coming from some kind of device sitting on a small table next to a chair in the room.
“We think he may have slipped into Wigglesworth, but we’re not sure,” one of the voices said. “The officer from the Cambridge Police Department who spotted him isn’t certain it was the kid we’re looking for or which entrance he used. He only caught a brief glimpse. If it was him, he may try to hide in the basement; or he could still be out in the Yard somewhere nearby.”
“We’re going to tighten security at the gates, check the basement and building perimeter, and keep an eye out for him. We’re also going to do a room check of the entire building to make sure he didn’t slip into one of the suites.”
As I listened to all of this I was still panting; still trying to catch my breath after running so much. Then I heard boots ascending the stairs and a knock on the door of one of the rooms nearby.
“Campus security,” a voice exclaimed, gruffly. “We’re looking for a drug dealer. Did he slip into your room?”
I couldn’t hear the response or what happened next and wasn’t certain if they were searching the rooms. Feeling helpless, I just stood there waiting.
“Over here,” the boy who had let me in said; “and watch your head. The ceiling is slanted.”
Taking me by the hand, he led me to a closet on the opposite side of the room.
“You can hide in there,” he said, pointing.
There wasn’t a lot of room in the closet, but I was able to squeeze in. Within a couple of moments I heard a knock at the door.
“Shh,” the kid said, holding a finger against his lips and then closing the closet behind me.
The next thing I heard was him opening the door to his room.
“What’s up, officer?” he said.
“We’re looking for a drug dealer, son. We think we spotted him entering the building and we’re doing room checks. Did you hear anything unusual or did he try to force his way into your room?”
“Nope,” the kid replied nonchalantly. “I was just on my way to bed, at least until I heard all the commotion outside. But he didn’t force his way in here, that’s for sure.”
“Do you mind if I peak my head in and take a quick look around?” the cop asked. “If your door hadn’t been locked, I’d have to search the whole place. But I just want to take a quick peek to reassure myself he isn’t holding you hostage.”
“No problem, officer,” the kid replied. “But I doubt he got into any of these rooms forcibly. You know how secure these doors are being so close to Massachusetts Avenue.”
“I do,” the officer replied. “But not everyone keeps them locked like you.”
Looking through a small crack in the closet door, I could see the cop poke his head in, look around quickly and then withdraw.
“Be sure to keep your door locked tonight, son,” the officer said. “He’s still on the loose and there’s no telling what a drug dealer like him will do. He may be armed and he’s definitely dangerous. If you hear anything unusual, give us a call. We’re going to keep the Yard on lock down until we locate him. But don’t worry; we’ll get him.”
“Thanks, officer,” the kid replied. “I already feel better knowing campus security is on top of this; and I’ll be sure to let you know if I hear anything suspicious.”
With that the door closed and I heard the lock snap back into place.
Not sure what to do, I decided to stay put for the time being, at least until the kid gave me some indication it was okay to come out of the closet. I was in there for perhaps five or ten minutes before he pulled the door open.
“You can come out now,” he said. “They’ve just left the building.”
“How do you know that?” I asked, nervously looking around.
“I know because I have this scanner I built,” he replied, showing me the same little black box from which I had heard the police speaking before.
“I built it myself and it’s kind of neat. It picks up all the local police frequencies. Here; listen for yourself.”
He turned up the sound and I could hear the traffic going back and forth between the cops working the building, the Yard, and headquarters. They were even reporting on what the Cambridge Police Department was doing to help out.
“Um, well, that’s cool,” I said. “You’re a genius, dude, and an angel from heaven as well. Thanks for opening the door and letting me in; I was about to give up.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied.
“By the way, why did you do that exactly?” I asked. “Why did you open the door and let me into your room? And why did you hide me and lie to the cop doing the room check?”
“I didn’t lie,” he said, shaking his head and grinning at me. “He asked whether you tried to force your way into my room. You didn’t. I let you in voluntarily.”
“Okay; I get it,” I responded, snickering.
It was the kind of answer I would have given.
“So you told the truth, at least technically. But why did you let me in?”
“I have my reasons,” he said, shrugging his shoulders even as he continued fiddling with the knobs on his little invention.
That made me even more curious. Letting me in wasn’t something I would have done if the situation had been reversed.
“Would you care to share one?” I asked, deciding to press the point.
“For now why don’t we just say I need a pot dealer,” he responded. “If you don’t already know where you are, this is Wigglesworth Hall; it’s one of the residence halls here at Harvard. I’m a freshman at the college and everyone I know at this place seems to have their own personal pot dealer; except me. I figured I probably should have one as well, but I didn’t know how to do that until you showed up so fortuitously.”
“Sometimes I get bored in the evening and entertain myself with this scanner,” he continued. “I happened to be listening earlier tonight and heard them start broadcasting about you. I never figured you’d get from Everett and Oxford all the way down here. I expected them to have you in custody before you reached the Yard, let alone this side of it. “
“Congratulations on that,” he added. “You must be a really fast runner. In any event, the next thing I knew they were saying how you were somewhere in the Yard. By then it was getting exciting, what with you being so close. When I heard someone racing up the stairs in Wigglesworth, I thought it might be you. That’s when I opened the door and decided to help you out.”
“Uh, well, thanks dude,” I replied. “I appreciate it.”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Sean,” I replied, wondering whether I should be telling him that. “What yours?”
“Holden; it’s kind of an unusual name. My parents named me after a character in a famous book. But I don’t suppose you would know about that so I guess it doesn’t matter.”
“The Catcher in the Rye; is that the book you’re talking about?” I asked.
“Really; you’ve read it?” he responded, seemingly taken aback.
I remember being annoyed by the question.
“No, dumb-ass,” I replied. “I stopped in at Widener on my way over here and checked it out so I’d have something to read later tonight.”
“Sorry,” he responded, suddenly blushing. “I didn’t mean to come across like I was patronizing you.”
Whether it was the blush, the apology, or something else entirely, I remember feeling sorry I had jumped all over him like that. He was a good looking kid and was just trying to be friendly after all.
“That’s okay,” I replied. “I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s been kind of a stressful day for me. Where are you from, Holden?”
“I’m from McLean, Virginia. Are you from Cambridge?”
“Yeah, I am,” I responded, looking around to see if there was some other way out of the room.
Why the hell are you telling him all about yourself, Sean?
Are you planning to ask him out on a date next just because he’s so cute?
“I’ve seen you before you know; more than once actually,” Holden suddenly volunteered. “I never forget a face, especially one that interests me. Sometimes I eat at Fat Boys and I’ve seen you there. You work at the place, don’t you; behind the counter next to whoever mans the cash register if I recall correctly?”
I remember being surprised and not entirely pleasantly. Knowing my first name and that I was from Cambridge was one thing; but if Holden knew where I worked, he would be able to turn me in to the cops whenever he wanted.
“If I answer that question I might have to kill you, Holden,” I replied glaring at him and trying to look as menacing as I could. “Look, I appreciate you letting me in here and hiding me, but you heard what that cop said. For all you know, I could be armed and dangerous.”
I mean, it was stupid to say something like that. I wasn’t armed or dangerous; and I certainly wasn’t going to kill the kid no matter what, especially after he had helped me out. But I figured I should try to scare him so he wouldn’t have second thoughts about turning me in to the cops.
“I know you must think I’m some kind of nerd and easily scared,” he replied, grinning, “but you’re not armed and you’re not going to kill me; at least I don’t think you will. You’re just another townie trying to make a buck selling pot; and even if you were armed, it wouldn’t make very much sense to kill a new customer. That wouldn’t be rational, Sean.”
“Maybe not,” I said, recognizing he had a point. “But I could still beat the crap out of you if I wanted.”
“Oh please do,” he replied. “Everyone else does; my parents, my fellow students; everyone I know in the world loves beating up on me, Sean. I must be a masochist. If you don’t know what a masochist is, they’re people who love pain. Go ahead and beat me up if you want.”
“You think I’m an idiot, don’t you?” I said, annoyed. “You’re just like all of the rest of the students who go to school here. You think you’re so superior. You think I’m too stupid to know what a masochist is.”
“And you’re just like all of the rest of the townies,” he countered. “You think everyone who goes to school here is rich and arrogant and a know it all. You can’t even take a joke. I was joking, Sean, but never mind; that’s neither here nor there.”
“For now I guess you should take off that backpack. It looks like it weighs a ton. You’re going to be here a while so you can take a shower if you want. Once you do, we can smoke a joint together; if you’re not too cheap to share one with me, that is. If you are, I’ll pay you for it.”
By now it was obvious he wasn’t scared of me. He was treating me like I was his best friend in the world.
Give him a break, Sean. He helped you out. He’s trying to be friendly.
Stop being so uptight; give the dude a break for crying out loud.
“Um, well, I’m not planning to stick around very long,” I responded. “I’ll stay until the coast is clear, at least if that’s okay with you; but then I need to get the hell out of here and go home.”
“If you want to be arrested, you can do that,” he said. “You can leave. But you heard what the officer said. They’ve put the Yard on lockdown. That means all the gates are closed and the cops will be manning them all night. The only way in or out of the Yard without identification would be over the wall and they have security on the walls to detect people like you trying to get in and out that way; at least that’s what everyone thinks.”
“If you want to get arrested, be my guest; leave by all means. If it was me, though, I’d stay put until the morning. They’ll reopen the gates then. But, hey, that’s just me. Do whatever you want.”
Annoying as it was to admit, he was right. Knowing that, I figured I should change tactics and do my best to stay on his good side.
“You don’t mind me staying?” I asked.
“Why would I?” he replied. “If I didn’t care what happened to you, I would have never opened the door in the first place.”
“Um, okay,” I responded. “I’ll stay; at least for a while.”
“Smart move,” he said, smiling at me.
Nice smile, I recall thinking; very nice!
In addition to being smart, the dude’s pretty damn cute, Sean. I’ll give him that.
“Here you go,” he said, retrieving a couple of towels from the closet and tossing them to me.
“In case you didn’t notice, you’re sweating like crazy; from all the running I imagine. Whatever the case, you’ll feel better if you take a shower. We can smoke when you’re finished. I’m sure doing that will put you in a better mood after your stressful night; and I wouldn’t mind getting a little relaxed myself. I’ve been on edge for days.”
Why? I recall thinking.
What does someone like you have to be stressed about? Is the check from Dad a day late?
But what I actually said shocked me.
“If you’re as stressed out as me, maybe we should take a shower together.”
From the startled look on his face I could see he was shocked and realized I needed to back off immediately.
“Ha! Ha! Just kidding, Holden, but that look on your face is priceless.”
Why the hell did you say something stupid like that, Sean? What was that all about?
I had no idea.
Slipping the backpack off my shoulders, I held on to it.
“Um, well, a shower would be good, but I’m going to keep this with me in the bathroom,” I said. “It has, uh, you know, it has some things of sentimental value. I don’t like them being out of sight. You know what I mean?”
“Whatever you say, Sean,” he responded, rolling his eyes to let me know he wasn’t fooled in the least. “But, just so you know, I don’t need to steal that stash of yours. If I wanted to, I could buy the entire backpack. But since you seem determined not to trust me, be my guest and keep it in the bathroom with you.”
“It’s nothing personal, Holden,” I replied. “I don’t trust anyone these days.”
“That’s a shame,” he replied, looking deeply into my eyes. “We’re going to need to work on that, you and me, because I want you to trust me. It’ll make helping you easier.”
Helping me? Yeah, right; like you’re going to help me, dude.
More like helping yourself to some of my pot if I leave it out here.
That was the end of our conversation, at least for the moment. Holding my backpack and the towels he had offered, I followed Holden to the bathroom.
“Feel free to invite me to take a shower with you again,” he said, looking directly at me, his face a mask.
Suddenly I recall feeling nervous.
What the hell does that mean?
“Ha! Ha! Just kidding, Sean, but that look on your face is priceless,” he added, suddenly sticking his tongue out at me like Kevin occasionally did.
“I knew that,” I protested, lying. “I knew you were kidding.”
Setting my backpack down where it would never be out of sight, I pulled off my shirt and started to unbuckle my pants. Behind me, I heard Holden turn and walk away. Knowing he was gone, I stripped off the rest of my clothes and climbed into the shower.
He had been right again. Running like that I had worked up a sweat and getting cleaned up was refreshing, especially after such a long day. As I stood there letting the water run off me, I remember laughing to myself.
I could buy the entire backpack, he had said.
What a joke!
I mean, I was carrying enough pot around in that backpack to easily sell for $4000. There was no way in hell he could buy all of it from me.
When I finished showering, I dried myself off, pulled on my clothes, and returned to the room from which I had come. Holden was hunched over his scanner listening to what was going on.
“Have they captured me yet?” I asked, grinning at him.
“No, but they still think they have you bottled up in the Yard and they’re right about that. Like I said before, I think you should plan on staying the night.”
Not being sure what I was going to do, I didn’t respond.
“Have you decided whether you’re willing to dispose of a little bit of the evidence?” he added, looking at me and grinning again. “I’ve heard smoking pot helps you sleep like a baby. It’d be good to find out. Being so close to Massachusetts Avenue and all the street noise, I don’t usually sleep very well; especially lately.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “It probably would help you sleep like a baby, but pot has a pretty distinctive smell. If someone in this dorm calls it in, that could bring the cops back here in a flash. I kind of doubt you’d like that. I know for sure I wouldn’t.”
“Residence hall,” Holden said, correcting me. “Dorms are called residence halls here at Harvard; at least technically. As for campus security, they don’t seem to care very much whether we smoke weed as long as we do it discreetly. Our parents pay the bills after all and the campus police aren’t really interested in arresting kids like us who smoke; just guys like you who sell it to us.”
“It isn’t fair I suppose,” he continued, “but since when was life fair? As for the rest of the kids in this building, they could care less than the cops. Some of them smoke themselves. No one cares, Sean.”
“Okay, but what about your roommate?” I asked, not entirely reassured. “How will he feel about it when he shows up? He might call the police.”
“He probably would if he was still here,” Holden replied. “But he decided to take an extended leave of absence after he was caught cheating on a paper he turned in last month. I have this place to myself for now so it’s just the two of us.”
“Really,” I said, relieved to know no one else would be showing up. “Um, well, maybe one joint would be okay if we keep the windows open. Usually I don’t even smoke, but you did me a favor so the least I can do is return it; and, like you said, it’s been a stressful evening.”
With that I pulled one of the bags from my backpack and began rolling some joints. He watched while I did it, then got up, opened the windows, turned off the lights and put on some music. We had similar musical tastes and I thought he made a pretty good choice for us to get high on. Sitting down on the floor, I motioned for him to join me.
Lighting the joint I had rolled, I inhaled deeply and handed it to him while holding the smoke in my lungs. I wasn’t planning to get very high because I needed to keep my wits about me, but a little buzz would be fine.
Imitating me, Holden inhaled deeply as well and started coughing immediately.
“Have you ever smoked before?” I asked, pretty certain I already knew the answer to that.
“Not really,” he said, unable to stop coughing.
“But it’s on my bucket list of things to do before I die; which could be any moment now,” he added, gasping for air. “How can you smoke this stuff without coughing?”
“The secret is not to inhale too quickly or hold it in too long,” I replied. “Let your lungs get used to the stuff first; once they do, you’ll be able to inhale more and hold it in longer.”
“That makes sense; thanks for the lesson, Sean,” he said. “You’d make a wonderful TF.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, confused by the term he had used. “What’s a, um … what’s a tf; is that what you said?”
“It stands for Teaching Fellow,” he replied. “They’re graduate students working toward an advanced degree here at Harvard that one of the professors has taken under their wing. Most of the large introductory courses use them. We have classes with the professor offering the course once or twice a week and then one or two sections a week with the TF.”
“It’s supposed to give us a more personal experience,” he added, “but I haven’t been that impressed with any of my Teaching Fellows so far.”
“What a shame,” I replied, not trying to conceal my sarcasm. “Life is so hard at times; isn’t it?”
“Go ahead,” he said; “feel free to mock me. What goes around comes around, Sean. Count on it.”
Then, switching gears, he turned the conversation in another direction.
“So how did you settle on being a drug dealer as a career choice?”
“It isn’t really a career,” I replied, “more like my avocation. You see, Holden? Even townies know one or two fancy words like avocation.”
“I’m impressed, Sean,” he said. “I really am. But you haven’t answered the question. Exactly how did you settle on selling pot as your avocation?”
He’s clueless, Sean; cute but totally clueless.
He’s probably never had a job in his life; never had to do anything except ask Dad for whatever money he needs.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I replied; “probably on some kind of whim I suppose. You wouldn’t understand. Just think of me as a modern day Johnny Appleseed bringing happiness to you and your college classmates; for a price, of course.”
“Of course,” he responded, grinning. “And a profit I imagine; probably a very handsome profit.”
He was more wrong than right about that. I mean, yeah, the money was okay, but most of it went to pay back my suppliers. It wasn’t all profit like he seemed to think.
“You see, that’s the thing, Holden,” I said. “Everyone remembers Johnny Appleseed for all the free apples he handed out. But at places like Harvard they probably never teach you how expensive it is to run an orchard. Johnny may have been a nice guy, but this is America after all. It’s not like he could do all of that without making a profit.”
“He must have had some expenses,” I added, “maybe even a payroll he had to meet; after all, someone must have been tending all those apples while he was out distributing them.”
“But I suppose guys like you who live in the ivory tower here at Harvard wouldn’t have a clue about any of that.”
“Did you know Johnny Appleseed was a real person who was born near here, Sean?” he asked, ignoring my put down.
Honestly, I didn’t know that. To me he was just some mythical character from a story my mother had read to me as a little kid.
“Not really,” I said. “And I’m not interested in having some rich kid from Harvard tell me all about him either.”
“That’s too bad,” he replied. “He was actually an interesting guy, kind of like you in some ways I suspect; but you’re right, of course. We’re clueless. Would you care to enlighten me about what it’s like out there in the real world? It would help to know, especially since I’ll be joining you there soon enough.”
What the hell does that mean? I recall thinking.
You’re a freshman, dude. It’ll be at least four years before someone like you has to get a job; probably a lot longer if you go to law school or do something like that.
“Um, well, probably not,” I said. “It’d be a waste of time and I doubt you would understand in any event; or care for that matter. What would be the point of enlightening someone like you who can eat all the apples he wants without ever having to worry about what they cost?”
“But you see, that’s where you’re wrong, Sean,” he replied. “I actually do care. If I didn’t care, I would have let campus security hunt you down or turned you in when they knocked on the door; and as for enlightening me, the point is I like you. I want us to be friends. And friends share things like that so they can help one another out.”
You have to be kidding, Holden. Like that’s ever going to happen.
You really must think I’m an idiot.
He was smooth, no doubt about it. He was starting to get high and chatting my head off like we had been best friends forever. But even though I was beginning to relax as the pot took effect, I decided to press him on the point.
“I’m having trouble understanding exactly how that would work, Holden,” I said. “I mean, why do you like me exactly? Why do you want us to be friends? What’s in it for you; or me for that matter?”
“Do you have any friends, Sean?” he asked.
“Me? Sure; of course I have friends. Do you, Holden?”
“Not really; but you know what? If I had friends, I would never ask one of them what’s in it for them; being my friend, that is. I suspect you don’t ask your friends questions like that either.”
“Maybe not,” I replied, defensively, knowing he was right. “But this is different.”
“How?” he asked.
“It’s different because we’re different,” I said, warming to the topic. “I’m town. You’re gown. You’re rich. I’m not. Everything’s always been handed to you and always will be. I have to work to survive. Your father can buy you whatever you want. My father can’t buy a pot to piss in.”
“Look, Holden, I appreciate what you did for me tonight,” I continued. “Honestly, I do. I don’t know why you did it, but I appreciate it; and I’ll be happy to add you to my customer list if that’s what you want. You don’t have to be nice to make that happen. It’s just business. But I’m not an idiot. I know when I’m being played even if I may not know why.”
“You need a pot dealer? Fine; but stop with the liking me and wanting to be my friend shit. It doesn’t compute.”
“I can see this is going to be a lot harder than I was hoping,” he responded. “But I don’t give up easily, Sean. If just being another one of your customers is what makes it work for you right now, fine. You get to decide what works for you. But what works for me is the two of us being friends and that’s the way it’s going to be, at least for me.”
“So how about being a good friend and lighting another joint?”