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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. September 14, 2015: Chapter 7 marks the unofficial end of Part I of this story. As the story narrator will shift back and forth in Part II, you may want to check these notes each week from now on to keep track of that.
THE OPENED DOOR
By now I had never been more confused in my life. It seemed like Holden could get me to do whatever he wanted just by smiling at me.
That’s crazy, dude. You can leave whenever you want.
It’s not like he’s cast some kind of spell over you, Sean.
Just relax, dude; relax and have a good time.
Lighting the joint Holden had handed to me, I inhaled deeply and passed it back to him. He was inhaling more carefully now having learned his lesson the previous night; only holding the smoke in his lungs as long as he could and then exhaling slowly.
“Now it’s your turn, Sean,” he said. “You need to tell me everything about yourself.”
“I already have,” I responded, trying to deflect the question. “I’ve told you about my family and my different jobs. There isn’t anything else to tell you about.”
“Of course there is,” he said. “Tell me about your girlfriend.”
Interesting, Sean; he’s trying to draw you out about girls just like you did with him.
You need to be careful, dude; keep him guessing.
“When you work as many jobs as I do, there isn’t time to have much of a social life,” I replied. “I don’t have a girlfriend, at least at the moment. I don’t think it’d be fair to ask a girl for a commitment like that under the circumstances; do you?”
“Uh, well, I don’t know, maybe not; but you had one back in high school, right?” he asked, promptly tossing the ball back to me.
“Not really,” I said. “I dated occasionally, of course; but between studying, playing sports, working part time, and babysitting my little brothers, I was pretty busy back then.”
“I see; but what if you had more time?” he asked, taking a new tack. “What kind of girl would you have been interested in?”
You’re good, Holden; I’ll give you that. You’re good at this; just not as good as me.
“Jeez, I don’t know,” I responded. “Knowing I didn’t have the time, I’ve never given it a lot of thought.”
By now I could tell he was frustrated by my efforts to avoid being pinned down.
“But you like girls, right?” he asked, determined to get an answer from me.
“Of course,” I responded. “I try to like most people, including girls. Don’t you?”
That was pretty damn good, Sean, I recall, congratulating myself; that should keep the dude guessing.
“Um, yeah, of course,” he responded. “I try to like most people too.”
“But let me ask another question,” he continued, abandoning his effort to pin me down about girls. “Where did you go to high school and what was it like?”
“I went to Cambridge Latin,” I said. “It’s not very far from here actually. It’s a pretty diverse place with lots of interesting people and some pretty good teachers; probably not as fancy as that private school you went to, but I liked it.”
“What was your favorite subject?”
“That’s easy,” I replied. “Math; I love math.”
“Really?” he said. “That’s interesting; of all the subjects I’m taking at Harvard, that’s the one I’m having the most trouble with. But I guess I told you that already, didn’t I?”
“You did,” I replied. “And I’m still willing to help if you want.”
“Thanks, Sean. I appreciate it, but I don’t think anyone can help at this point. It’s really hard.”
“I understand,” I replied. “I always found math challenging. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. But suit yourself, Holden.”
“You look pretty athletic,” he said, changing subjects on me again. “I mean, you run fast so you must have been on the track team. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world myself. I never played sports in high school, but I like them. I’m not a sissy, you know.”
Coming out of the blue, that surprised me.
Defensive a little, aren’t we? I never thought you were, Holden.
“I was on the track team as a freshman,” I responded, “then the swimming and wrestling teams after that. The swimming team wasn’t the greatest, but our wrestling team was pretty good. We almost made it to the state championships two years ago when I was wrestling in the 113 pound weight classification. I weigh more now, of course; even back then I had to starve myself to wrestle at 113 pounds.”
“Wow,” he responded. “It’s hard to believe you were ever that small. You’re really well put together; I mean, uh, physically that is. I mean, what I’m trying to say is, you look perfect at whatever you weigh now; there isn’t an ounce of fat on you.”
“But, uh, what’s your favorite sports team?” he added, quickly moving on.
“That’s easy,” I replied; “the Red Sox. People in New England grow up rooting for them; but up until a few years ago, you could pretty much count on them breaking your heart. They would be competitive for much of the season and then collapse come August or September.”
“A few years ago they finally put the curse of the Bambino to rest and won the World Series. I guess that broke the ice because they’ve won a couple more since then. We’ll have to see about this year though; I’m worried about them.”
By that time we had finished the joint. Looking around, Holden picked up one he had rolled and handed it to me.
“Come on, baby, light my fire,” he said, giggling. “I’m ready for another.”
I remember rolling my eyes at him and shaking my head.
“Where does this fascination of yours with ancient dead celebrities come from, Holden?” I asked. “Last night Marilyn Monroe, tonight Jim Morrison; by the way, you don’t look anything like him either. “
“But you do,” he shot back; “at least that mop of hair on your head looks a little like his.”
It made me laugh.
“If that’s what you think, you’re losing touch with reality sooner than you did last night. You don’t need a second joint, Holden. One is enough for you to get buzzed; and I really do need to get going in any event.”
I started to get up, but Holden quickly reached across the divide separating us and put his hand on my shoulder.
That surprised me.
Even more surprising, he was staring directly into my eyes; staring intensely and in a way that compelled me to hold his gaze.
“Don’t leave, Sean.”
It wasn’t so much the words, I guess, but the look in his eyes. They made it clear he didn’t want me to leave and that made me wonder whether I wanted to do that myself.
“I don’t know, Holden,” I replied, looking away momentarily. “I really should go home. I mean, I stayed last night because I didn’t have any choice. But I never talked to my mother today; I just told my little brother to tell her I’d be home tonight. She’ll be really worried if I don’t show up.”
He didn’t say anything, just continued to stare into my eyes in a way I found mesmerizing.
“I’ve told her a million times not to worry,” I continued, trying to persuade him, “but she can’t help it. That’s the way she is.”
“You could call her and let her know you’re with a friend,” he suggested, trying to be helpful.
“Uh, no; I don’t think that would be a good idea. She’ll have a million questions and I’ll never be able to get off the phone.”
“It’s just that . . . I don’t know,” Holden replied, obviously frustrated. “There’s so much more we need to talk about, Sean.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“You know, stuff; important stuff,” he replied, falling silent momentarily even as his eyes continued to hold me captive.
“I know,” he quickly added, startling me. “Remember how you told me you scalp tickets to those Red Sox games?”
“I do, but what’s that got to do with anything?”
“I was wondering if I could I buy a couple of tickets from you and take you to a game sometime?” he said.
“I’ve never been to a real baseball game, a professional one, and I don’t have a clue how to go about buying tickets to one either. But if you’d sell a couple to me we could go together; sometime soon I hope. That’d be fun.”
You’ve never been to a baseball game, Holden? What the fuck have you been doing all your life for crying out loud?
“Um, well, sure,” I said, surprised by what I had just heard. “I guess we could do that sometime; maybe. I mean, I’ve got a bunch of tickets for the upcoming series this weekend that I was planning on scalping, but I could take you to a game on Saturday if you want. It’d be my treat.”
What the hell are you doing, Sean? the inner voice immediately screamed.
You paid good money for those freaking tickets, dude. They could turn a handsome profit for you.
What the hell are you doing giving them away to some rich kid from Harvard? If you’re going to take him to a game, make him pay the going rate for Christ’s sake!
“Really?” he said, interrupting the debate going on in my head.
“Um, sure,” I replied, realizing it was too late by then to back out without looking like a cheapskate.
“I would love to do that, Sean,” he continued; “I mean, go to the game with you on Saturday; and I can pay for the tickets too. You shouldn’t have to spend money on me. You’re saving for college. I’d be happy to pay for those tickets.”
Do it, Sean, the voice pleaded; and be sure to add a commission as well, a tidy one.
The offer was tempting, no doubt about it. Like my inner voice had suggested, I could make a nice profit selling the tickets to him. The Sox were playing a weekend series with the Yankees and the pair I had for Saturday were in a prime location; along the third base side and close to the field.
He didn’t have a clue how much those tickets had cost me or how much more they’d fetch if I scalped them on game day. But I did; and knowing we were talking serious money, I also realized I should take him up on his offer.
I just didn’t.
“I can pay for the tickets,” I replied, surprising myself. “You can buy the food and drinks. They’ll probably cost as much as the tickets,” I added, knowing it wasn’t true.
“It’s a deal,” he said, giggling with delight. “Thanks, Sean; I owe you for this.”
“You do,” I said, surprised to see just how happy I had made him.
“I accept cash, checks, Visa and MasterCard,” I added, disgusted with just how much money I was about to lose on the deal.
But that last remark only caused him to start giggling even harder.
Pressed by Holden, I lit up that second joint although I was careful to stretch it out. I held on to it longer and smoked more of it, trying to let him maintain a buzz without getting very much higher. But in spite of my best efforts, he was giggling more soon enough. Almost anything I said set him off.
Looking up at the clock, I was surprised. It was almost one o’clock.
Shit! You should have left earlier, Sean. Now Mom’s in bed and she went to bed worried and it’s too late to even call home and tell her you’re on your way.
You’re going to pay for this, dude. She going to ream your ass big time the next time you set foot in the place.
For a moment, I thought about leaving.
It won’t be so bad if you’re there when she wakes up in the morning, Sean; if you leave right now, she might even hear you come in and fall asleep relieved.
I was about to do that when I noticed Holden had slumped over on to the floor.
Oh, Jesus, not again, Holden. I don’t have time to put you to bed again.
But even as the thought crossed my mind I realized I didn’t have much choice. I could have left him there, of course, slumped on the floor. He was out of it, totally gone, and it wouldn’t have killed him to sleep on the floor for one night. But it just didn’t seem right somehow to leave him like that.
Struggling to get him to his feet, the two of us staggered down to his bedroom for a second night. Turning the corner, I remember being surprised because his bed was in perfect order. I wouldn’t have to mess with that again. Like the previous evening, however, I ended up having to strip off his clothes and put him to bed.
Always the good big brother, Sean; and the dude’s not even your brother.
Thinking he was asleep, I turned and took another look at the picture of the two boys on the wall.
“Do you like it?” he asked, out of the blue.
“Um, sure,” I replied. “It’s, uh, I don’t know; interesting. Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” he replied.
“Is that some kind of famous painting or something? I mean, I don’t know anything about art, but there’s something about that picture that’s different somehow; unusual. I just figured it must have been done by some famous artist.”
“Not really,” Holden responded, giggling. “It’s actually something I painted myself. I like painting and I have a ton of paintings back home, but that’s my favorite and I decided to bring it to school. Why do you like it?”
“I dunno,” I said. “Those boys just seem so content, so happy; like they don’t have a care in the world. I can’t explain it exactly. I just do. But I’m surprised to hear you painted it. You’re very talented to be able to do something like that.”
“Thanks for the compliment,” he said. “Most of the guys I know who’ve seen it don’t like it for some reason. I’m glad you do.”
“Did you, um . . . did you have models you used while painting it,” I asked; “I mean, nude models?”
“No,” he replied. “I was sixteen when I painted it and wouldn’t have had a clue where to find models, let alone nude ones; and even if I had known where to find them, I would have been totally embarrassed to try painting something like that using models.”
“The truth is simpler. I was frustrated one evening and sat down and painted the whole thing in maybe thirty or forty-five minutes.”
“Frustrated about what?” I asked.
“About not having a best friend,” he responded. “So I decided to make one up. The boy on the right is supposed to be me. The boy on the left, the one I have my arm around, he’s just a representation of the best friend I wanted. That’s why their backs are turned to us; not having one, I couldn’t visualize the face of my best friend. I just knew I wanted one.”
“I see,” I responded, not sure what to say in response.
“I could now, though,” he continued, staring pointedly at me.
I looked away, embarrassed.
This time I knew what he was trying to tell me, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to acknowledge what he was saying quite yet or to admit I wanted to be friends with him too.
“Both of them have cute butts,” I said, looking back at the picture and trying to draw him out.
“Do you think so?” he asked.
“I’m pretty good at that,” he said. “Drawing butts is actually kind of easy. Drawing faces is much harder. I would like to draw yours sometime though.”
He didn’t realize it, but he had left himself open; and while I tried not to say it, I couldn’t restrain myself.
“Really; which would you like to draw, Holden, my face or my butt?”
What the hell are you doing, Sean?
Are you trying to embarrass the dude or tell him you’re gay?
Why would you ask something like that?
Looking over, I could see my question had caused him to blush. I felt bad about that.
“Sorry, Holden,” I apologized. “It seemed funny at the time, but don’t be embarrassed. Sometimes I’m just stupid like that.”
“No problem,” he said; “although I was actually being serious. I like painting. It helps me to deal with my frustrations, but I haven’t painted at all since I got here.”
“You’d actually be doing me a favor if you modeled for me. Not in the nude, of course, and not of your butt; that wouldn’t make any sense. I would want to give you the picture after I painted it and you told me your parents were Catholic. I doubt they’d be as forgiving as mine to see something like that in their house; a picture of your butt.”
It made me laugh and hearing that made everything easier again.
“You’re right about that,” I replied, grateful he was letting me off the hook. “They would be mad as hell. Even worse, Kevin would be on my case in a flash about something like that. He would be mocking me, making fun of my butt. I can hear him now telling me he wasn’t sure which was uglier, my face or my butt.”
“You have a beautiful face, Sean, and an equally terrific butt,” Holden said to my surprise.
I had never blushed before in my life, but suddenly I could feel my skin warming; see it turning red in the mirror.
It was embarrassing.
“Oh yeah; how . . . uh, how would you know that Holden,” I stammered. “I mean, you must be blind to say something like that about my face; and how would you know I have a terrific butt?”
“Um, well . . . uh . . . I wasn’t looking or anything, but it was hard to avoid seeing it when you changed your clothes in my room this morning. I hope you won’t think I was looking deliberately or anything; I wasn’t. It’s just that you were in a rush and, uh . . . oh, heck, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say.”
So there we were, the two of us, and it was hard to tell which of us was more embarrassed.
“Don’t worry about it, Holden,” I replied. “It’s not a big deal. I would be happy to model for you if you want; with my clothes on, of course. And then you could hang whatever you painted in that apartment you’re getting this summer.”
“Does that mean you’re accepting my offer to share the apartment with me?” he asked.
“I dunno,” I replied. “Maybe; I’m still thinking about it. Assuming I’m still alive the next time I see you; my mother is going to kill me tomorrow for spending last night here. I need to get going. She’ll be in bed, but that’ll only postpone my execution until the morning.”
“Are you sure you want to leave at this hour, Sean?” Holden asked. “I mean, I’m not going to stop you if you have to go, but what would be the point? It’s after one o’clock and I’m guessing this room is a lot closer to the Square than your parents’ home. You’re more than welcome to stay.”
He was right. I knew it immediately.
Maybe you should stay, Sean.
By the time you get home and get to sleep, it’ll practically be time to get up. And getting out of the house in the morning won’t be easy either, not with Mom on the warpath.
This place is a lot closer to the Square. Maybe you should stay.
Oh, come on Sean. Do you really expect me to believe any of that? another voice suddenly broke in.
Shut the fuck up! I know what you’re thinking and I don’t want to hear it, not at this hour. It isn’t like that at all.
“Uh, well, I probably would stay except that bed in the other room doesn’t have any sheets or a blanket,” I replied. “I don’t have many requirements in life, but clean sheets and a warm blanket are one.”
“Like I said last night, there’s plenty of room in this bed for two”, Holden responded. “But if you don’t want to do that, I also have some extra sheets and a blanket in the closet over there,” he added, pointing. “If you stay here, it’ll save you time in the morning.”
He was right again. There was no sense going home now; not really. I was tired and needed some sleep.
“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll stay.”
“Great,” he said. “I was hoping you would. I even left a washcloth and an extra toothbrush in the bathroom if you want to get cleaned up first.”
“That sounds good,” I said. “I think I’ll take a shower actually.”
So that’s what I did. I walked across to the bathroom, stripped off my clothes, and took a shower.
It was refreshing.
Standing there letting the water drench me, I recall thinking I hadn’t told Holden what I was planning to do; whether I was planning to sleep in the same bed with him or make up the bed in the other room with the sheets and blanket he had offered.
What are you planning to do, Sean?
Yeah, sure, the bed was a little tight. I probably wouldn’t sleep very well, partly because it wasn’t my bed and partly because Holden would be there with me. But Holden was already out of it after all. He would be asleep by the time I returned to the bedroom. It’s not like he was going to molest me or anything. And it’d be quicker to do that.
So why are you so nervous about it, Sean?
Suddenly, before even realizing what was happening, I went totally hard in the shower.
Oh, Jesus, great, I recall thinking. That’s just great. If I get into bed with him I’m going to spring a boner; I’m going to make a fool of myself.
Do you really want to do that, Sean; do you really want him to think you’re some fourteen year old kid who can’t control his hormones?
At least try to pretend you’re an adult, dude. Holden is; at least he is most of the time when he isn’t smoking weed.
Later, having dried myself off, I wrapped a towel around my waste and returned to Holden’s room. I was surprised to find him still awake.
He smiled at me as I entered and walked over to the closet he had pointed me toward earlier. Reaching to open the door, I sensed his eyes watching me from his bed and that caused me to hesitate momentarily.
I realized now I could still turn around. I could still walk over to his bed and climb in.
And then all the fears returned and I realized I was wrong about that.
Not tonight, Sean; you don’t even know he’s gay for sure. He could be leading you on, waiting for you to make a fool of yourself.
And even if he is gay, are you sure you’re ready for this; sure he’s ready?
Opening the door, I stared into the closet. It was dark, but soon enough I realized there weren’t any sheets or blanket there. That made me even more nervous.
“I made up the bed in the other room while you were showering, Sean,” Holden said. “I figured that’s what you’d want. It’s late and I know you’re tired from everything that’s happened the last two days. You’ll sleep better in there tonight.”
“Um, well, thanks,” I replied. “I appreciate that.”
Walking to the door, I turned around. Holden had already rolled on to his side facing away from me. For all I knew he might be asleep.
“Uh, well, good night, Holden.”
“Good night, Sean.”
Crossing the corridor, I looked at the bed. As with his own, Holden had done a good job making it up. By now I realized he had done it for me. He hadn’t forgotten what I had told him the previous evening; hadn’t forgotten I was compulsive about the kind of bed I insisted on sleeping in.
Turning off the light, I climbed into bed. Suddenly it occurred to me I was wrong.
I had told Holden I had friends, but I didn’t; not really. I had my mother and my brothers and I loved them very much. I had people I worked for and people I worked with. I had acquaintances and customers. But I didn’t have any friends; not really.
I had been too busy the past year trying to make money and what did I have to show for it?
Nothing really, nothing at all; except for being a lot poorer, you’re not really very much different from Holden, are you, Sean? He doesn’t have a best friend and neither do you.
Admitting that was hard and for a moment I thought about getting up and going back to his room.
But I didn’t.
Restless, I found myself reaching for something to comfort me. It responded immediately. I stroked it gently for a couple of moments; then stopped.
It was funny in a strange kind of way. Here I was finally alone in a room by myself. I had the privacy I was always complaining about not having. And yet suddenly I realized it wasn’t privacy I was looking for.
I was looking for something else; something more than privacy, better than privacy.
I don’t know. It’s just that we’re so different. How could it ever work?
And it’s late after all.
Maybe you’re just tired, dude; maybe that’s what this is all about, being tired.
Just try to get some sleep, Sean. You need some sleep.
And then finally, closing my eyes, I allowed the darkness to engulf me.