When I arrived back home, dinner wasn’t quite ready, so I helped Mom do some cleaning up while everything finished cooking. Luckily I had wrung out my clothes sufficiently before coming inside so I didn’t get into any trouble for dripping everywhere. Well, mainly. My shoes were pretty soaked and so were my socks but that was easy to solve. I placed my shoes over a heater and tossed my socks in the laundry.
The kitchen was quickly filling with wonderful dinner smells. It was to be roast pork and mashed potatoes mixed with a mushroom sauce. It smelled really good! The kitchen was spotless and the dinner table was set and ready to go. When dinner was nearly ready I realized that Dad was nowhere to be seen again.
“Hey Ma, where’s Dad been?” I asked in a bit of disappointment.
“Ummm… hard to say exactly. Last I heard he was in Edmonton seeing the plans to some building being revised. He was pretty angry when he had to go—going on about how no one ever follows the plans right,” she explained.
“Oh wait… That sounds familiar. I thought he would be home by now is all,” I replied.
“Well, all things considered, he’s really enjoying the new job. I can’t understand a thing he shows me, but his boss keeps going on about how gifted he is.” Her face drew up a lonely gaze.
“Aw, Mom, it’s okay. Looks like you’re beginning to miss him, huh?”
“Yeah, well, he was off on the road quite a bit in Ontario, and with school we barely saw him. I just really hoped that now that everything was all set and done, we’d have more time together,” her eyes were beginning to become red and watery.
“He’ll be home soon. They started him on a few really big projects. Once he’s done with them it’ll calm down. I mean, how many big ol’ buildings can they build, right?” I attempted to assure her… despite not really knowing for sure. But to seal my sincerity I comforted her with a long warm hug.
“Aw, thanks, sweetie,” she said, wrapping her arms around my shoulders. “Well guess it’s just me and you again for supper. Wish I was thinking earlier. We’ll never be able to finish all of this. Too bad James isn’t here… Should have invited him for dinner,” she began to ramble.
“He’s already off eating dinner now,” I said while going over to finish whipping the potatoes.
“Well, too little too late. Or in this case, too much too oblivious,” she giggled.
“Yeah well, we can eat this again tomorrow and save you some cooking time,” I suggested.
“You hate leftovers,” she recalled.
“Yeah, but this stuff reheats pretty good. I can make an exception this once.”
“Oh! I forgot to tell you. Your dad has the fifteenth to the twentieth off. We’re going to go to Edmonton for the weekend,” she announced quite happily.
“Really!? Awesome!” I replied in excitement, just before I realized that meant leaving James for almost an entire week.
“Don’t worry about James,” my mom said, as if reading my mind, “We were going to invite his family to come over to dinner. If they can’t go, that will ease them into letting James come along. I wouldn’t want you to be stuck and bored with me and your father all week.”
“Right on!” I said, feeling right-as-rain again. Geeze, I’m such a drama queen…
“Well go wash up; dinner should be ready now.”
“Okay,” I replied and ran to the washroom to wash my hands and face. God… this washing thing was becoming a routine. We never once did this back in Toronto. Huh… I kind of like it.
“Come on Adrian!” my mom yelled from the dinner table.
“Oh wow! I’m coming!” I said with a chuckle as I rushed to dry my hands and get back to the dining room.
“So what did you and James do outside? You guys were awfully loud,” asked Mom.
“Haha, him and his brother filled up two wagons worth of water balloons and attacked me. It was so unfair,” I giggled.
“Oh, I didn’t even know James had a brother. How odd. We really don’t talk that much. I feel like I should have known that. How old is he?”
“He’s eight… I think. His name is Austin. He’s a little brat, but nice enough. Seems like a handful though.”
“Eight year olds always are. Did you know that James’s dad works with yours?”
“Really? James never mentioned what his dad did, actually. I don’t think I can remember even meeting his dad yet. His mom’s a nut, though, haha, she’s got that house looking like one of Picasso’s paintings. It’s great,” I explained maybe a little too fast.
“Huh, makes sense. Your dad says she paints. She must have been inspired. But, yeah… His dad is the general contractor to the builds your dad designs.”
“Oh wow, that’s so weird. Dad used to be a contractor. What are the odds of that?”
“I’m guessing pretty good. The company that hired your dad is locating all of their major employees in this town for some reason. The deals on houses here are amazing.”
There wasn’t much more said after that. We both became absorbed in our dinners and felt no need to speak. I hadn’t eaten much all day so I wouldn’t have paid attention if she had said something anyway.
After helping with the normal dinner clean up, I retreated to the den upstairs to watch some television while I waited for James to call. There wasn’t too much on as usual. Maybe I was too picky, who knows. But now the sun was becoming a nice red and orange tone, and the heat of the day was beginning to fade. It must be getting late…. Huh, James never called. In a bit of sadness and maybe some induced worry, I picked up the phone to see what was going on.
“Hello?” answered the voice of James’s mother.
“Hi Mrs. McDowell. Uh… is James around?” I asked shyly.
“Of course dear, hold on I’ll grab him for you.” Her tone was always so lively, and it made me smile.
“JAMES!!! ADRIAN’S ON THE PHONE!!! PICK UP NOW!!!” I heard her yell, as she snapped the last few words at him and returned to the receiver. “He’ll be right with you, Hun,” she said calmly.
“Okay, thanks Mrs. McDowell,” I replied while trying not to laugh.
“Hello?” James had picked up the phone.
“Hiya bud. What’s going on?” I asked trying not to sound too pathetic.
“Oh, hehe, sorry I was supposed to call and got distracted. Time got away on me,” he replied.
“It’s okay, uh… guess it’s getting too late to do anything, huh?” I said sadly.
“Nope, we’re gonna have a fire out back soon, I was gonna call and see if you could come outside, but forgot to do it before we went to the store.” I could almost see his excited, cute little body just by hearing his tone of voice.
“Oh that sounds awesome! Do I need to bring anything?” I asked, trying to tone myself down a bit and put on my poker face.
“Umm nope, but you’re meant to ask your mom to come, too,” he added.
“Oh, well okay. I think my mom would like that. She’s been all weird since my dad’s been gone,” I explained.
“Yeah, same with my mom, actually.”
“Oh hey! Did you know that our dads worked together?” I questioned with some excitement.
“Yup, my dad’s the architect and your dad’s the general contractor. That’s so weird, my dad used to be a contractor too,” I explained.
“Gee… Why didn’t we know this? We really got to talk about things more, hehehe. So weird,” James’s tone seemed confused.
“Yeah no kidding. We’ve been so stuck on our inner monsters and our outer ermm… fun… That we don’t talk about anything else.”
“Not true! We’ve just had better things to talk about other than our boring families,” he pointed out.
“Haha, I guess. But I’m gonna round up my mom and ummm… What time should we be over?” I asked.
“Uh… Give us about fifteen minutes we should be ready soon. My mom likes things perfect… Which is scary, ‘cause you’ve seen her idea of perfect.” He giggled.
“Haha, I’m gonna tell her you said that!” I teased.
“FINE! Go ahead! I’ll make up some awful lie to tell your mom when you guys get here. And because you can’t see me… I’m poking my tongue out at you right now!” he threatened.
“Well… Ummm… I’m mooning you right now! Take that!” I smiled.
“Umm… Already did. Haha but thanks for the visual, see you in a bit,” he then hung up.
“Hey MA!!!” I yelled the moment I hung up the phone.
“WHAT!?!” Her voice was a little louder than I thought it would be.
“Uh… Want TO COME TO A FIRE WITH ME?” I yelled back… that was a bit abstract, guess I should go downstairs and talk, hehe.
“What!? Come here! You’re NOT MAKING SENSE!” she finished yelling and turned her head to see me enter the family room where she was sitting on the couch.
“Mrs. McDowell invited us to a fire in their backyard, want to come?”
“Oh how nice, when did they want us there?” she replied with a smile.
“In about fifteen minutes, heh… James was supposed to call a while ago and forgot.”
“Wonderful! Yeah, okay. Let me just grab something to bring,” she said as got up and disappeared into the kitchen.
“He said we didn’t need to bring anything,” I attempted to assure her.
“Well, it’s rude to go somewhere empty handed,” she told me as a matter-of-factly… Mothers always seem to know everything.
“Okay then. Well uh… I’ll just wait here,” I flopped on the couch and started hopping channels.
“Hmmm… Well, we got some hotdogs… No marshmallows, though… Do you know if she drinks? I could bring some wine or something…”
“Geeze Ma, it’s only a fire… Nothing fancy,” I giggled.
“I know, but I wouldn’t mind a drink or two… I was just kinda hoping she would join me, otherwise I would feel silly drinking on my own… Might look bad too.”
“Wow… it’s looking bad just listening to you worry over nothing,” I teased, while Homer Simpson sang something about Margy finding him a turkey.
“Oh shut up!” she snapped jokingly.
“OOOOOKay then… Hurry up, we’re gonna be late… and you’re gonna end up bringing half the kitchen.”
“Funny. Well this should do. Let me just grab my shoes,” she placed a bottle of champagne on the counter and a dozen frozen wieners.
“Mom… You’re a nut. Who brings frozen hot dogs and warm liquor to a fire?” I teased; God this is going to be interesting.
By the time we finally left the house, my mom was muttering something about looking like a bum while trying to sort her hair and balance her unique party selections in her hands at the same time. Austin was scurrying back and forth with the little wagon from earlier that day, only this time it was filled with wood, like the energetic bugger that he was. James was squirting a pile of logs with some fire starter stuff, while his mom sat in a chair beside him telling him to take it easy and that they weren’t launching a rocket…
“Hi James. Hi Mrs. McDowell. This is my Mom,” I pointed while trying to stand in front of her gifts.
“Nice to finally meet you, Mrs. McDowell,” my mom said while clumsily shifting the hotdogs to the other hand and extending the now-free one toward James’s Mom.
“Please call me Lyn. I don’t think I’m that old yet. Besides I hate formalities,” she said and stood up to give my mom a hug instead of taking her hand.
“Sorry, I get nervous meeting new people… Well officially anyway,” Mom explained. “I’m Patty, short for Patricia,” she announced herself. It was so weird to think that my mom actually had a name… It’s not like moms are actual people… and I’m so glad she can’t read my thoughts.
“I would have guessed, hehe, Lyn is short for Lynda if you didn’t guess that. Now sit down and relax,” she demanded with a friendly smile.
“Oh, here, I didn’t know what to bring… so, this is what happened,” my mom smiled as she handed Mrs. McDowell the frozen wieners and the warm Champagne.
“Gee heh, umm thanks,” James’s mom smirked. “I could use a drink.”
“Oh good. I was a little apprehensive bringing that. I wasn’t sure if you were religious or anything.” I could see the relief sweep across her face.
“Geeze Mom, if perspiration had a solid form… it would be you,” I teased, making sure to sit out of reach of her swings.
“Adrian!” My mom swiped her arm toward me.
“Hehehehe, nice, Adrian; you’re gonna die before the end of the night,” James giggled.
“What’s perspination?” Austin inquired.
“It’s sweat, dear,” Lyn explained.
“I suppose I am a bit drenched. It’s quite humid out here,” my mom admitted shyly. I love the way she got so nervous in front of company. She never acted like herself, and ended up embarrassing herself over stupid things… Of course, guess I didn’t help all that much.
“James, can you throw these hotdogs in the microwave for a few minutes and bring out some glasses and a bucket of ice?” Lyn asked James in more of a demand.
“Sure thing Mother Dearest,” he replied, smiling at me.
“I’ll come and help,” I offered.
“All right, well since you’re both going, bring out some soda and those marshmallows,” added James’s Mom.
Me and James rushed inside and turned toward the kitchen. The room was filled with all sorts of weird paints and brushes along with a few empty bottles of beer. The smell of oil based paint and turpentine filled my lungs and caused my eyes to water a bit.
“Oh wow, gotta love that smell,” I thought out loud.
“Yeah, my mom’s attempting to remodel her art room so she decided the kitchen would be a perfect place to stash all of her supplies,” James explained while rolling his eyes.
“She can be a bit strange sometimes. Her bipolar disorder makes it worse this time of year. But it’s not too bad. She seems to have it under control quite well. The meds don’t hurt either,” he giggled.
“Bipolar? What’s that?”
“It’s a disorder lots of people get. It’s mainly genetic though. Ummm, how do I describe it. Sometimes she’s really depressed and anti-social, and other times she’s really happy and hard to keep up with. Right now is a middle faze where she’s close to normal, near the fall she gets all down and winter, normal again… finally in the spring it gets weird and she’s all hyper and happy. That’s when she decorated the house…” James explained.
“Wow that’s weird. I get a bit depressed near the end of fall, I guess, but it doesn’t really last that long. Guess it’s not quite like that.”
“Actually that’s pretty close. It happens to everyone; it’s just people with bipolar disorder can’t shake it off as easily… or something like that. I wouldn’t quote me on it really.”
“Hmm, okay, I don’t quote that much anyway,” I giggled a bit.
“Where did she put those stupid marshmallows, anyway,” James pondered while spelunking through the pantry.
“Ummm, they’re right here James,” I said, picking them up off of the counter.
“Oh well… All-righty. Good job, Sir.” He then turned and grabbed a small cooler and chucked a bag of ice in it, followed by some soda.
“Nice… Oop! Here,” I took the wieners and placed them in the microwave and turned it on for three minutes.
“GAH! Aren’t you supposed to take off the plastic!?” James panicked and opened the microwave door.
“Umm… Nope… It says Microwaveable…” I giggled while I ran my fingers under the label stating its packaging was microwaveable.
“Shut up! I can’t keep up with all your fancy new-age real-world food. My mom shops here in OakPoint.” He returned the hot dogs to the microwave.
With that now done, I wrapped my arms around James and gave him a nice long hug, followed by a yummy kiss on the lips. His arms quickly found their way on my hips and one even against my butt. He ran the palm of his hand gently on my behind, and the silky feeling of my shorts caused me to sprout an instant erection. James giggled a bit while kissing me gently.
“You bumface! We got to get back out there right away!” I announced while stepping back and showing him what he had done.
“I can’t help it. Those shorts are awesome,” he giggled. “And they show all the right parts so well.”
“Oh really,” I said, feeling myself go a bit red, and pretending not to know how good the shorts looked on me… I’m not conceited. “Well, maybe we can get alone a bit later.”
“I hope so,” he smiled at me as he stepped back and grabbed the cooler, followed by the wieners from the microwave.
“Oh yeah, the glasses,” I said as James pointed at them on the counter near the sink.
“Now come on, let’s go. Uh, are you decent to go back outside?” he smiled and looked down at my shorts.
“Yeah I’m fine, you big meanie. Now shut up, let’s go!”
“Oh wow, demanding; I think I like it,” James teased and skipped out of the kitchen.
We hopped out the door and ventured off to the rest of the crew by the almost fire. James had forgotten to light it… My mom and James’s mom seemed to be getting along quite well. Austin however was looking bored, as he had finished collecting all the wood and was now stuck listening to the adults talk about things he didn’t care about.
“It’s about time you guys got back here,” Austin snapped.
“Sorry the hot dogs were being stupid,” James giggled faintly.
“Yeah, and James was scared to melt the microwaveable packaging…” I teased.
“Shut up!” James giggled.
“You want to light that heap of an abomination you boys call a fire?” Mrs. McDowell asked.
“Oops, sorry Mom. I forgot.” James smirked, grabbing the matches from his pocket.
“Good job genius.” Austin teased.
“You’ll have to excuse him, he’s not all here,” I added nudging Austin’s shoulder.
“Yeah, I know,” he giggled.
“Hey! You two! Am I gonna have to separate you?” James warned.
“Maybe later, but not right now,” I decided.
“Well… Okay then.” James struck a match and tossed it onto the logs. The wood nearly combusted into ash as an eruption of out-of-control flames roared into the air, startling James in the process and he jumped back and rolled heels-over-head away from the fire.
“AHHH!” James yelped.
“I told you to ease up on that stuff you nut,” Mrs. McDowell laughed.
“I know, but it was fun at the time,” he replied while checking to make sure he still had all of his hair.
“Good job, genius, that was awesome! Do it again!” I congratulated.
“Are you kidding? I was almost a marshmallow!” he smiled faintly, showing me the tiny singed hairs on his arm.
“You really should be more careful,” I replied with actual concern, but tried to hide it with humour.
I found my mind kept directing my vision toward James all evening. Everything he wore looked so good on him. Like right now for instance: he was wearing a blank white t-shirt with some loose-fitting carpenter-style jean shorts… go figure hehe. They just caressed his butt so nicely and bulged in all the right places, hehe. Not to mention his smooth, perfect legs with the bunched down socks over his ankles, resting over the tops of his black skater shoes. The shirt clung to his chest nicely, showing everything just partially. You know, the kind that shows just enough to keep you wondering. I was then snapped back to the real world by the high pitched tone of Austin’s voice.
“Hey, when the sun goes down, are we gonna tell ghost stories?” asked Austin excitedly.
“We’ll see, Austin. You know how you get when you’re scared…” Mrs. McDowell answered.
“I know, but I won’t get really scared this time! Promise!” Austin said in hope to be even partially convincing.
“Adrian could tell you a few horror stories of his very own. He’s had the most-freakiest few weeks possible,” James blurted, which scared the crap out of me.
“Yeah… but let’s not get into that anymore,” I replied nervously.
“Wimp,” James teased.
“Hey! I spent half my summer in the hospital. I want to forget all that,” I stated truthfully.
“Well, all right, but I think it would be a great story. Hey mom, you should tell them some of those legends you read about Oakpoint Bay,” James suggested.
“Maybe. We’ll see how the night goes,” she replied, returning back to her conversation with my mom.
“Why don’t we make some smores? I could go for something yummy!” James suggested.
“That’s a good idea!” agreed James’s mom. “The chocolate is in behind the cooler, James.”
“Cool, and maybe after the moms are all drunk and stupid we can go sneak a couple of beers in the back, Adrian,” James rolled his eyes from side to side, waiting for a scolding response from the mothers, but there was none.
“James, if you think you can stomach a beer, be my guest,” Lyn giggled.
“Really?” James looked confused.
“No I just like to speak,” she said.
“Don’t do it James it’s a trap!” I attempted to save him.
“He won’t drink it. And if he did, he’d spit it out as soon as it touched his tongue,” Lyn giggled.
“Don’t be so sure. My husband did that to Adrian a few years back, and he ended up liking it,” my mom warned.
“Really? Wow, most kids hate it, especially their first billion tries,” Lyn said, shocked.
“Is it that bad Adrian?” James questioned.
“Nope, well I didn’t think so. It was a bit weird the first couple sips. But it wasn’t too bad after that. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to have any more after that, hahaha. I think it scared my dad more than anything,” I explained.
“Haha, that’s great. Reverse psychology isn’t for everyone, I guess,” James decided.
Everyone fell into an awkward silence as we waited for the logs to start to coal a bit more. The fire kept destroying our marshmallows, crickets started to chirp their strange noise throughout our surroundings, and the sun had crept away as the moon took its place in the sky.
The glow of the fire radiated off of our faces, shading our skin an eerie shade of orange. The stars broke out as the clouds scattered across the sky in a frenzy of seemingly random clusters, which always made you wonder, was it really random? Or was there something else? Guess I was right; the country sky is what inspired mankind. Just one glance and a person’s mind wonders to oblivion and back. It made you think that anything was possible and given the events over the last month, that wasn’t so impossible.
“Wow, this stuff goes straight to the bladder,” Lyn giggled, excusing herself for a moment and tip-toeing toward the house.
“So, Mom, having fun?” I asked.
“Yes actually. That woman is remarkable,” she said excitedly.
“Oh God, please don’t tell her that,” James begged and slapped his forehead, while Austin mimicked James and did the same.
“Yeah, don’t,” Austin giggled.
“You little bugger,” James laughed.
My heart began to race as the moonlight shone down on me. There was a high-pitched sound ringing in my ears which gradually transformed into a weird buzzing noise. The world around me became blurry and unreal. Everyone’s voice seemed to be raised to a horridly high frequency. The ringing was becoming more defined; it was the sound of wolves howling off in the distance. It seemed to beckon me, but I couldn’t move. Feeling the sweat reach my brow and the once-blurred vision become a vivid red. My mother’s body was replaced with the blue wire-like obscurity, as a strange yellow blur radiated from her body. Soon everything became dull and out of focus and the howling was only getting louder.
My attention was diverted to a strange figure standing at the end of James’s yard by the trees. His eyes glowed an eerie red, but the rest of him was unidentifiable. My heart raced even faster than before as whispers flooded through my mind. Pain began to throb in my sides, while my head began to pound. I could feel the change taking its course. But I couldn’t do it here! I couldn’t take the chance of what might happen. I pushed my eyelids tightly shut, while trying not to make too much movement so that I didn’t draw too much attention to myself.
With the pull of panic ready to take over, I thought of James and those wonderful shorts he was wearing. I crammed my head with thoughts and memories of everything about him. The whispers soon seemed to become muffled as the rest of the world began to return to normal. I think I beat it! Looking over toward the trees the figure was no longer there and the humming sound was now just the faint howls off in the distance.
“Hey, listen to that!” I held out my arm for no known reason. Everyone grew silent, and turned their heads to listen. The crickets were still squealing and a few birds were rustling in the trees. That’s when it happened again, a blood chilling howl.
“Oh wow! Wolves!” James said excitedly.
“There are wolves out here?” Austin asked nervously.
“Yeah, but don’t worry. They stay far away from people,” I assured him.
“They better, I don’t like wolves.”
“What are you talking about I thought you loved wolves?” James looked partially confused.
“I did before, but not tonight,” Austin giggled.
“Oh well okay, I’ll go ask them to come back tomorrow,” James joked.
“Shut up,” Austin chuckled.
I kept noticing James staring at me, it was so distracting. Every time I glanced in his direction he was looking at me! It was so awesome, and made me feel so sexy. Which was weird, I didn’t usually look at myself in that manner. At one point I even spread out my legs and subtly rolled the leg of my shorts up just enough for James to be able to see the leg of my gray boxer-briefs. He shifted slightly in his seat while smiling at me, when dear old Mom had to ruin everything!
“So, do you go to the same school as Adrian, James?” my mom asked.
“Yup, we just never got to see each other there. He’s in grade ten, I was only in grade nine,” James answered.
“Oh, that’s too bad; Adrian could have used a friend at that school,” she replied.
“Well, we’ll be back there in September, so I’m guessing we’ll see each other there now that we know the other exists,” he smiled.
“Unless Mom home schools again,” Austin shuddered.
“Heh, I don’t think I can go back to that. It was so boring,” James’s face became blank.
“Wow, that expression says it all,” my mom said with a giggle. “Your mom mentioned she used to teach.”
“Yeah, she wants to start an art school in the next town. She likes to teach but loves to paint even more,” James explained.
“Well that would be great, then she can have both,” I added.
“Yup, but finding an empty space around here is hard. And having it at the house would just be inconvenient,” Lyn said as she returned to her seat.
“Hi Mom,” Austin greeted her with a smile, “there are wolves in the woods!”
“There are? Cool! Let’s go see if we can find them,” Lyn smiled at Austin.
“Mom NO! They aren’t happy wolves!” A look of fear and panic struck across Austin’s face.
“I’m just teasing, silly. Why don’t you make a smore?” she suggested and tossed him the bag of marshmallows.
The rest of the evening was filled with laughs and giggles, a few stupid and partially scary stories, along with the inevitable crashing of the adults. We said our goodbyes and James tapped my wrist and quietly told me he loved me. I grazed his crotch slightly, giving him a calm but serious look.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I inquired.
“Of course,” he replied.
Upon turning our separate ways and entering the confines of our homes, the rest of the evening was quiet and eerie. Mom went to bed almost immediately, and I was still wide awake. Eventually I settled on watching some stupid movie on movie central. Something about a Minotaur taking over the world: cheesy with bad acting but it did the trick.
I awoke the next morning feeling refreshed and giddy. I stretched out feeling something scratching against my arms and there were crackles and crunches below me. Hmmm, that was odd… Did I fall asleep on a bag of chips? I rubbed at my eyes as they adjusted to the bright light beating down from the sky. The birds chirped and squirrels ventured curiously past my feet… Wait… What?
When my eyes finally came into focus, I looked around. I was surrounded by trees and little critters. I could hear the buzzing of what seemed to be insects flying around my head. Jumping to my feet in a panic I found myself naked in the forest. Damn it! Not again! My attention was diverted to the sounds of the buzzing bugs. My jaw dropped as I felt nausea take over my insides. There, on the ground beside me, were the remains of something… unidentifiable.