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SHDWriter

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  1. SHDWriter

    Chapter 31

    We arrived at Foxrun High School at around 2:45, greeted by the sight of dozens of other busses from around the state disgorging competitors all decked out in suits and nice dresses, debate teams carrying catalog cases full of evidence, speech teams rolling large stacked Extemp file boxes on metal carts, and the drama kids pantomiming their various characters. All business, we hurried into the school and located the cafeteria, which was the epicenter of tournament activity. I saw a few kids from different areas whom I knew from middle school tournaments, and went over to renew our acquaintances, chatting amiably until I saw Mr. McRory gathering our team together, a stack of poop-books -- our slang for the booklets containing tournament schedules and sectioning -- in his arms. He handed them out to us and I admired what a nice job Foxrun had done with their presentation. In middle school, the sectioning sheets had been a few pieces of ditto paper stapled together, but these were really nice volumes, spiral-bound with an embossed version of the school crest and "1981 Foxrun High School TFA-IQT" in a distinguished-looking cursive font on the cover. TFA-IQT stood for Texas Forensic Association - Individual Qualifying Tournament. It took so long to say "tournament" (and "tourney" sounded impossibly posh), so we all generally called tournaments IQTs. I flipped to the list of schools to find our code so I could figure out the sectioning. Polk was school 21 at this IQT, and I knew that I was assigned the letter G, with Raymond and Robin being A & B, Kathy C, Carter D, Jim and Roger E & F, Mark H, Cindy I, Linda J, Pablo K, and so on. I was rather surprised to see that there were forty-eight high schools participating, some of them -- like Chamberlain -- with so many debate teams that they had competitors coded up to 14ZZ. I flipped to the first day's scheduling, which read as follows: Friday 3:00 - Deadline for late registration. 3:15 - LD, NCX, CX, CCX Rd. 1 4:15 - LD, NCX, CX, CCX Rd. 2 5:15 - LD, NCX, CX, CCX Rd. 3, DA Prelims. 6:15 - Extemp draw for ME & WE Prelims. 6:45 - DI, HI, OO, ME, WE Prelims 7:40 - Impromptu draw for first speakers in prelims. 7:45 - LD, NCX, CX, CCX Rd. 4, PR, PO, IMP Prelims 8:45 - CX Double-Octos, LD, NCX, CCX Octos. 9:45 - DA Quarters, CX Octos, LD, NCX, CCX Quarters 10:45 - DA Semis, CX Quarters. The debaters began to hustle to their rounds, while I could relax a little, as Linda and I wouldn't be up with our Duet until 5:15. I saw that all the individual qualifying events had been crammed in at 6:40, and checked the sectioning to see if I would have time to get from one room to the next without running. Luckily, I was speaking first in the Oratory room and fifth in the Humorous room, so I wouldn't have to bolt. I decided to go watch Pablo's first LD round to lend him support. He was going to need it. I raised my eyebrows as I saw his debate bracket. Room 241 - 21K vs. 14A. Holy shit! Pablo was going up against Chamberlain's best debater, Bobby Merman, who had stunned the tournament world the previous summer by winning Nationals as a sophomore. This was going to be brutal, I thought, as I raced upstairs to Room 241. He would need all the encouragement he could get. When I slipped into the room and headed for a seat near the back, it was almost full. All of Chamberlain's non-debaters were crammed in, along with Bobby's legendary coach, Len Donovan and his wife T.C., who coached drama at the same school. I had obviously missed the coin-toss to determine sides, as I saw Pablo furiously scribbling at his table to the left -- my right -- of the podium, the side reserved for the Negative position. He would be the bleeding-heart liberal this round, letting Bobby play heartless prick. Bobby was checking his evidence cards methodically, his wire-framed glasses sitting low on his aristocratic nose, his jet-black hair perfectly combed without a single stray to ruin the professional effect. His suit was Brooks Brothers, his shoes were Armani, and the glasses had to be some ridiculously expensive designer brand as well. Chamberlain was a very wealthy school, its students probably the most well-heeled public school kids in San Antonio, and Bobby was flaunting his wealth and class. There was no telling what kinds of things gave you an edge in public speaking, but appearance was definitely high on the list. The time-keeper held up the "10" card, signaling the start of the debate and Bobby's ten-minute 1AC (first affirmative constructive) speech. He was, as usual, polished and poised, clearly outlining his case in support of the resolution, with each point perfectly supported by carefully-selected evidence cards. As the time-keeper flashed the 0:30 card, he brought all of his points together in a stirring, emotional conclusion, ending with another perfectly-suited quote. Pablo's 1NC surprised me with its eloquence. I had never seen him speak before, and had to admit that he was extremely effective, making a strong counter-argument to Bobby's case. It was only during the 3-minute cross-examination period when Bobby began to show his true championship form, grilling Pablo relentlessly and pointedly about the ramifications of his position, that I began to worry. Bobby's five-minute 1AR (first affirmative rebuttal) was ruthless, picking apart every point of Pablo's case, and astutely building on a couple of his nervous answers to the cross-examination to paint Pablo as just what he'd feared -- a bleeding-heart liberal whose "insistence on subsistence" would tax the country into ruin and create a permanent underclass. Pablo's cross-examination of Bobby and subsequent rebuttal was not nearly as strong. In fact, I felt he was being overly-deferential to Bobby, perhaps a bit star-truck at debating the reigning National Champion to attack his arguments as strongly as Bobby had gone after his. While Pablo's case -- that society needed a safety-net to prevent people from falling through the cracks and that supporting Bobby's position would create a "culture of cruelty" -- was okay, it's not the argument I would have used. It was too bleeding-heart and not pragmatic enough, and the judge was an older male who didn't look as if he was buying it at all. It also surprised me, since Pablo seemed to be a staunch conservative. I knew he supported the resolution personally, and perhaps that led him to make a negative argument which was basically a collection of every bad stereotype about liberal thinking. Debaters had to be prepared to make strong arguments on either side of an issue, and I felt that Pablo was hurting his chances by not putting out more reasoned and substantial points. After their second rebuttals, Bobby and Pablo shook hands and thanked the judges, ending the round. Bobby looked confident, Pablo looked whipped. I joined him at the Negative table, helping him put away his notepads and evidence files. Pablo seemed happy that I had attended, but as soon as we left the room, he looked at me ominously and shook his head. "He kicked my ass right back to Polk," he muttered. "I hate this topic." "Aw, you weren't that bad," I said. "I really like your speaking style, and your 1NC was really good. You also finished strong. That Jefferson quote is great." "Yeah, not good enough." He walked away dejectedly, trying to get psyched up for his next round, which was only a few minutes away. I decided to go outside for a cigarette, where I found Kathy and Mark smoking by the school flagpole. "Well, hello, Little One," purred Kathy. "Come to join us in a life of vice and crime?" "Too late." I lit a cigarette, grinning. "How was your round?" "Dude," said Mark excitedly, "she kicked ass. She debated some little dipstick ROTC kid from FMA and wiped the floor with him." FMA was Foxrun Military Academy, which had a reputation for being very good in team debate -- Novice Cross- Examination (NCX), Cross-Examination (CX) and Championship Cross-Examination (CCX) -- but pretty terrible in Lincoln-Douglas. While the CX events focused on hard facts and policy proposals, LD was more values-oriented, and there was a general belief that its more abstract, philosophical focus was antithetical to the military mind. No one ever worried about FMA or LMI (Lorrimar Military Institute) when it came to LD Debate. "That's great," I said to Kathy. "You think you can go 4-0?" Unlike the other events, debate had four rounds of pre-scheduled preliminaries, after which the best competitors, by record and qualitatively-assigned speaker points, would break into the single-elimination bracket. This tournament would break to octofinals, which meant that 16 debaters out of about 200 would make the cut. A 3-1 record would be risky, and 4-0 would be the standard. "I'd better go 4-0," Kathy replied haughtily, French-inhaling her cigarette while pointing to the poop-book in her hand. "I am paired with some real turkeys." As Kathy stubbed out her cigarette on the flagpole and prepared for her next debate, Mark gave me a sidelong look with a shy smile on his face. "Can I come watch your Duet round later?" he asked. "Sure you can," I said. "We'd love to have you there." "Great!" he exclaimed joyfully, and followed Kathy off to her round. I finished my cigarette and wandered back into the cafeteria, where I sat next to Linda and Carter. "Are you ready, Rick?" Linda asked. "I'm ready," I said. "We're gonna blow them away. Who are we up against?" Linda checked the poop-book for our section. It looked like this: Room 136 - Section XIX 1. 31C & 31D 2. 5A & 5L 3. 36C & 36 H 4. 21G & 21J 5. 3F & 3H 6. 19A & 19E "So there's a couple of A's in there," I said. "What school is 5?" "5 is Brookwood and 19 is Cartwright," said Carter. "19A is Bill Miles, but you don't have to worry about him, because he's mostly a speech guy. And Brookwood is mostly ODBAs." "What's ODBA?" I asked. Linda laughed. "ODBA means Over-Dramatic Black Actors. Brookwood always does these really over-the-top Gospel-type plays with these really ridiculous intros. It's like something you'd see at a black church in Alabama." "That's true," Carter added, "but don't get cocky. The judges seem to eat their shit up." "How many teams break?" I asked. Middle school tournaments tended to be much smaller than this one, with usually only four sections of teams in prelims, breaking three teams to semis, then three to finals from each of the two semifinal sections. This tournament had twenty- four sections of teams in the prelims, which meant 144 teams. "They're breaking two teams to quarters, three to semis, two to finals," said Linda. "Not too bad. I'm glad they're having quarters. Otherwise they'd just be breaking one, and then two to finals. I hate hate hate tournaments like that. One false move and you're screwed." "Well," Carter pointed out, "have you looked at Humorous?" We did. All thirty-six sections of it, breaking one to semis and one to finals. "Damn," I said. "We're good, but are we that good?" "I guess we're going to find out," said Linda, looking out the window of the cafeteria nervously. "And guess who's going to watch us?" I turned around to follow her gaze, and there, in the parking lot, was a dilapidated black Dodge Charger, with its driver nowhere to be seen.
  2. SHDWriter

    Chapter 30

    The rest of Wednesday night passed fairly uneventfully. I went home around ten, did a little homework, and fell asleep after thinking over all of the things which Taine had told me earlier in the evening. I went over to Linda's house on Thursday after school, and we rehearsed our Duet for the next day's tournament until we felt like we had it completely down and had regained the effortless spontaneity of our first run-throughs. There's a certain rhythm to acting, where the first rehearsals are about getting the characters to the right physical place, the right emotional pitch, and so forth. The middle ones are about hammering in all the nails and cementing every gesture, expression and intonation, so those run-throughs tend to be the least spontaneous. Finally, right before it's time to perform, the last rehearsals are about regaining the spontaneity which was lost during the cementing process, so the piece feels fresh and new again. We felt that we had achieved that spontaneity at around nine o'clock on Thursday night, so we decided to call it quits and work on our individual events separately. I hugged Linda goodbye, then jumped on my bike and rode home, where I ran through Titanic and my oratory for the next ninety minutes. When I felt I was sufficiently well-rehearsed, I called Taine to tell him goodnight, then went to sleep. I awoke excited and ready for my first high-school tournament, donning my tailored three-piece charcoal grey suit with blue pinstripes over a white button-down shirt and my lucky dark red tie, which had seen me through several impressive tournament showings in middle school. Slipping on my shiny black Italian loafers -- a gift from my grandmother in Maryland -- I examined myself in the mirror and deemed myself ready for action as my pre-tournament tape blasted from my stereo, another ritual carried over from middle school. Fame! I'm gonna live forever Baby, remember my name! Fame! Grabbing my school books in one hand, I pumped my fist in the air with the other as the cassette spooled to the end and began to rewind. I was psyched, confident, and ready. Now all I needed to do was get through my morning classes, as the school bus which was taking our team to Foxrun wouldn't leave until 12:30. The classes dragged for me, as I couldn't wait to get going. I was bursting with energy by the time I zoomed through the lunch line and made my way to our usual table, where Taine was looking at me with an amused smirk. "What?" I grinned as I pulled out my chair and sat down. "Look at Mr. Fancy Pants," Taine teased. "You look like you're ready to go sue somebody." I laughed, as I had completely forgotten that I was wearing a suit and tie. "Well," I joked, "if those judges don't vote me through to the finals in every event, I'm gonna sue them for extreme stupidity!" Taine shook his head and returned his attention to that day's lunch, which appeared to be a breaded shoe pretending to be a veal cutlet. I forced mine down and most of his as well, happy that I had bought an extra carton of chocolate milk that day. The cutlets were filling, but hideous. "I don't know how you eat so much and stay so skinny," Taine commented. "You should weigh 300 pounds." "Would you still love me if I weighed 300 pounds?" I asked. Taine grinned. "More than anything," he said. "What about if I weighed 300 pounds? Would you still want to be with me?" I looked into his eyes, a loving smile playing on my lips. Last night's deep conversations had brought us closer than ever, and I was going to miss him that weekend. "More than everything," I replied. "Hey, listen, if I make it to the finals tomorrow, do you think you and Sly might want to come watch? It's open to family and friends, and I know Rex and Tynah won't come." Taine nodded somewhat sadly, knowing that the day that Rex came to watch me "dancing around the maypole" would be a cold one in Hell. "Sure," he said. "Foxrun's not that far away, and I know my Dad will want to see you perform as much as I do." "Great! It'd really be awesome to have you both there. It'll give me extra inspiration!" "You don't need any extra inspiration. I haven't seen your Duet, but Titanic and the speech are both damn good. You'll do great." "Thanks," I replied, genuinely moved by his support. I hadn't had much encouragement in my tournament activities outside of the actual forensics team, and it was really good to finally get some, especially from Taine. That's why what I said next was so wrong, so stupid, and so unforgivably thoughtless. What I said was, "Oh, yeah, and if you come, do you think you can maybe not wear your hat in the auditorium? It's kind of frowned upon." Taine's eyes narrowed, and he looked as if I had hit him with a brick. He stared at me for a moment, and even then I didn't realize how much I had hurt him, or even why he might have been hurt. "Fine," he said quietly, returning his attention to his french fries. "Great!" I blithely stumbled on, oblivious as a metal post. "It'll be really cool having you there...if I get to finals, that is. Well, listen, I gotta go, Babes. Have a great day!" There was no response. The brim of the cap had come down, and I had been dismissed, so I jauntily strolled out of the cafeteria to meet the rest of the team outside by the bus, not a care in the world for the damage I had just caused. I wouldn't learn it until later, but I had just added another sharpened barb to my sweet, wonderful boy's painful and wounding wires. * * * * * Raymond and Robin were practicing their debate arguments in the parking lot when I arrived, while Carter and Linda were already seated on the bus, cooing sweet nothings to each other. I boarded the bus and moved quickly past Kathy, but she grabbed my arm, stopping me next to the seat she was sharing with Mark. "Ready to make a big bang, Little One?" she asked suggestively. "Yeah," I said absently. "I think I'm ready." "Good," she cooed. "Maybe if you get a trophy, Mark and I will give you a prize of our own." I looked over to see Mark licking his lips, an expression of lust in his half-closed eyes as he rubbed the crotch of his jeans. I knew he couldn't afford a suit, and felt bad for him, knowing that he'd never advance at the tournament dressed as he was, regardless of how well he might perform. "Mmmm," he groaned, staring at my groin. "I love virgin dick." I laughed, rolling my eyes and shaking my head as I moved toward the back of the bus. There were a few people on the bus whom I had never met, as the Speech and Drama teams didn't mingle very much with the exception of Kathy and Raymond, who were competitive in both areas. I nodded to one intense-looking young debater who appeared to be my age, and he smiled at me, pleased to be meeting a fellow freshman. As he did so, some of his index cards fell from his lap and landed at my feet. I bent over to help pick them up and was slapped on the ass by Cindy Romaine as I did so. "Whatcha doin', Rick?" she asked with a grin. "Showing off your goods already?" Cindy was a gorgeous, petite blonde with a perfect figure and golden, tanned skin. She was also just as frisky and naughty as the boys in the Drama department, a fact which tickled and delighted me. If there was one woman on the planet I would have wanted to have fun with all night long, it was Cindy Romaine. "Only for you, Cindy," I replied with a leer. "Only for you. No, I was just helping...uhm..." I looked down at the freshman debater for help. He grinned and extended his hand for a shake. "Pablo Silverstein," he said. "Rick Spivey," I replied, shaking his hand. "Are you only doing LD?" Pablo was clearly a Lincoln-Douglas debater, and some of our LD kids only entered tournaments in debate, mostly because they thought it would look good on college applications. "No," Pablo said, "I'm doing Extemp as well. I was going to enter Oratory, but my speech really wasn't ready and Mr. McRory thought it might be better to wait. What are you doing?" "Humorous, Oratory and Duet," I answered. "I was thinking about maybe taking Debate class next semester. LD looks really fun, not all complex and crazy like team debate." Cindy rolled her eyes and went back to practicing her Poetry Reading selection. "It is fun," Pablo said, "but not this topic. You'll be glad you waited." "What's the topic?" "'Resolved: the economic health of a nation is more important than the social programs for its citizens.' What a pain in the ass. If you have to do the affirmative, you pretty much look like a heartless prick, and if you get the negative, you look like a bleeding-heart liberal. It's a really bad topic." "Doesn't it change at some point in the season?" "Yeah," he said. "Not till January though. The next one is something about victims' rights in felony cases. We can research it together if you want." "That'd be cool," I said, and as I left Pablo and wandered to the back of the bus, I decided that Debate would definitely be on my class list for the spring. "Hello, Mrs. Premise!" I trilled to Carter, who grinned back as Linda looked to the heavens for guidance. * * * * * The bus took off at 12:45 as planned, heading for Foxrun, where we would gather in the cafeteria to receive our tournament sectioning guides -- known to us as "poop books" -- before heading to our first rounds of competition, scheduled for 3:15. Eventually, everyone stopped practicing and just relaxed, Roger and Jim blasting heavy metal from Roger's giant portable radio. Well I've said it before, and I'll say it again You get nothing for nothing: expect it when You're backseat driving, and your hands ain't on the wheel Carter went up to join Roger and Jim, completing their air-guitar trio as they rocked out and banged their heads, which looked pretty funny in their awkwardly-fitting suits. It's easy to go along with the crowd And find later on that your say ain't allowed Oh that's the way to find what you've been missing "Boys will be boys," Linda sighed, then turned to face me. "How's your boy?" "He's good, thanks," I replied. "He and Sly might come see us if we make the finals, so let's be really good in prelims and semis!" "Rick, my darling," said Linda, patting my knee reassuringly, "you have the best Duet partner in the world, and I will never let you down. Your boy will see you shine like a flaming comet in the heavens." "I do not flame," I said, pretending to pout. "I am your he-man Duet partner, and I will fill the auditorium with my massive, manly balls." Linda threw an arm across her forehead, pretending to faint. "Oh, Mister Spivey, not that! My delicate feminine sensibilities will be crushed by your enormous gonads!" We Drama kids were an odd breed. The bus rolled on to Foxrun, with me laughing hysterically in the back with Linda, not realizing that I had left behind a very upset, frustrated and hurt Taine Maxwell back at Polk High. So I'm heading out to the highway I got nothing to lose at all I'm gonna do it my way Take a chance before I fall A chance before I fall!
  3. SHDWriter

    Chapter 10: Jessica

    Love the tease with the peanut butter sandwich. I totally fell for it and was sure he was about to send Geil to the hospital. Curious about Daniel and Joe. Great chapter, thank you.
  4. SHDWriter

    Chapter 29

    Tonight's the night we'll make history, honey, you and I And I'll take any risk to tie back the hands of time And stay with you here tonight "I was feeling pretty weird about this whole thing," Taine said as he rolled back on his bed, looking up at the ceiling once more. "This whole you-me thing. I mean, I'm not gay. I don't think of boys that way, their bodies. I like girls with nice racks, nice asses...curves...boys don't do anything for me. But all of a sudden we're kissing, and cuddling and having sex with each other, and I really like it with you, I do, but I was confused. So I talked to my dad about it." "You talked to Sly?" I was more than a little surprised. Taine was the last boy in the world to share his feelings easily, particularly about sex. Hell, this was the first conversation we were really having about sex, and I was astonished that he had spoken about his concerns with Sly, a man whom he still obviously had very mixed emotions towards because of the way he felt abandoned throughout his childhood. "Yeah," said Taine. "I mean, he already knows about us, and I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to Linda, so my dad was pretty much the only one I could talk to. You're not mad, are you?" "No, no, Babes, of course I'm not mad," I reassured him. "You should talk to Sly. He's your dad, and he wants to be a part of your life, and that means having these kinds of talks. I wish I could talk like that to Rex, you know?" Taine seemed to take this in for a moment, processed it, and finally appeared to accept it before continuing with his story. I wanted to cuddle up next to him to listen, but considered the subject matter and decided to move a few inches back from him to give him some physical -- and psychological -- space. "Come here," he said, pulling me close to his chest, a slight tone of exasperation in his voice. "This isn't like that." Needing no further encouragement, I snuggled into his arms to listen, feeling his heart beating beneath my ear as I rested my head gently on his chest. "So, anyway," Taine continued, "I went over to him the other night while you were at home having your dream. He was out by the pool, drinking a margarita, like he usually does at night. I sat next to him in the deck chair to the side of his, and we just stared at the pool for a while, looking at the patterns in the lighted-up water against the darkened yard. Finally, my dad turns to me and says, 'something on your mind, Taine?' in that low, deep growl of his, just like that, you know how he does it...'something on your mind, Taine?'" I smiled against his shirt. Taine certainly knew how to paint a picture with words. I felt like I was there with him as he continued his story... * * * * * TAINE'S STORY So I said, "Yeah, Dad, there's something I'm kind of confused about." And he kind of nods his head and sips his margarita, which had all these little crystals of salt all over the rim, and they kind of fall off into his lap a little bit while he's nodding his head, and I was feeling all knotted up and I wanted to hand him something to wipe them off but...I just kept talking while I had the nerve. "It's about Ricky...Rick, I mean," I told him. "All this, I mean...what's been happening between us." So my dad looks over at me and kind of smiles, and says, "You wanna know what it all means." "Yeah," I admitted. "Being able to spend time with Rick and be around him is making me feel better about things than I've felt for a long time. I can be myself around him, or as much as I can be myself around anyone. But...I'm also feeling things when I'm with him, even when I just think about him, that I've never felt before. I'm a little confused. It's kind of scary, and I'm not sure what it really means, I mean...what it says about me." So my dad, Sly...he pats me on the knee real dad-like and then he leans back in his deck chair. I kind of got the feeling that he was relieved to have a father-son talk with me that was actually about me. You know, not about him or my mom or any of that stuff that happened after my little sister died. "Tainey," he says, and I hate when he calls me that but I didn't say anything, "you're fifteen. You're going to have crushes. You'll like a boy, you'll like a girl...the next day it'll be somebody new. While you're crushing on them, they will seem like the most important person in the world, and you'll think that you can't live without them. And then it's someone else. That's what being fifteen is." I sighed, afraid that -- as usual -- he just wasn't getting it. But then he surprised me. He paused, thought for a second, then said, "I think what you're saying to me is you have feelings for Rick, romantic feelings?" I started to nod, then said softly, "Yes." He nodded back. "These feelings are probably a little scary to you, but don't be scared. Be Rick's friend. Spend time with him, be good to each other, and what happens will happen. You'll either feel a spark, feel something more and decide you want to be together, or you'll be friends. Maybe you'll be best friends for the rest of your lives, maybe you won't. Things will work themselves out, and sometimes what that becomes will change over time." He leaned forward in his deck chair then, looking at me intently. His voice was serious, and urgent. "But experiencing them is something you need to do, Taine," he said. "Don't be afraid of life! It's got crazy highs and crazy lows, but if you don't let yourself be there for them, you'll regret it. Believe me." I did believe him, and I knew what he was getting at, but I didn't want to think about that right then. I had something else I needed to ask him before I lost my nerve. Well, I thought, here it goes. "But Dad, what if that means, well, might that mean I'm gay? What if we feel the same way about each other? What then?" "That might happen," he said casually. "Sure, it could. Or you might just have a strong friendship. Seems like you win either way. Don't rob yourself of experiences because you're afraid of what could happen. If you're gay, you're gay. You can't change that if you are, but what you can do is decide that you're going to experience what life has to offer. Live your life, Taine. I don't want to see you avoiding life because you're afraid of how messy it might be...like I did...or for any other stupid reason." I leaned over and hugged my dad, hard, and just held onto him for a minute. Then I pulled back and looked at him, finally seeing him for what seemed like the first time. "Dad, thank you," I almost whimpered. "You have no idea what that means to me. You're there for me, and I really need that right now. You're right, I'm scared, scared of a lot of things. The kids at school, my own feelings, that Rick will get tired of me, how complicated this is going to be, whether I'll even feel the same things I'm feeling now next week. But one fear I won't have now is that you'll be upset or disappointed. Thanks. You're just the best. I love you, Dad." "Me too, Taine. Hey, I want you to tell Rick tomorrow that he can spend the night, and when you do, you have the best time you can with him. He wants to be your friend, you can hear it in the way he talks to you. Let him be." He smacked his knees with both hands and got up from his chair. "Okay, that's enough advice for tonight. The office is closed. Now, how about some ice cream?" * * * * * "And so we went and ate some ice cream," Taine shrugged. "My Dad thinks ice cream is like medicine. But what he said was the real medicine." He turned back on his side, and I adjusted my position to face him. There must have been some lingering concern in my eyes, because he got a similar look, holding me close and kissing me. "I know," he said. "I know I didn't really tell him how strongly I feel about you. But I think he knew, and that was just his way of expressing what he needed to tell me. Listen, Ricky, the reason I'm telling you all this is to explain something to you. I was nervous, I was scared...I pushed you away. And I was even more scared after you made love to me on Sunday. With the kissing and the hugging, I could pretend we were just good friends...I could pretend that you didn't feel what you feel for me, or that I feel what I feel for you. But once we did all that...I couldn't pretend anymore." He paused, looking deeply into my eyes, and all I saw there now was love. "I can't pretend anymore," he said quietly. "That's why I talked to my Dad, and that's why I...uhm..." "Fucked the hell out of me last night?" I giggled. "Babes, I have to hand it to you...when you make a decision, you don't do it halfway. You go all out." "Or all in," Taine grinned naughtily, chomping theatrically at my neck as we laughed and rolled around on the bed, enjoying each other's closeness and intimacy. Suddenly, he raised his head and became serious again. "Ricky," he said, "there's one more thing I want to tell you before you go." I sobered up and looked at him, a bit concerned by his tone. "What is it, Babes?" "Well," he said, "this isn't going to be easy. It's going to get out somehow, because I don't think we've been careful enough. I know you don't look around as much as I do to try to figure out what people are thinking, but they're already starting to look at me, and I don't think it has anything to do with what happened with Kevin. This is Texas, Ricky. I do love you. I really do, but I don't know if I can handle what might happen if everybody finds out. I don't know if I can do this at all if everybody finds out. Things are rough enough for me as they are." His eyes suddenly looked very mature, very wise, and almost pleading with me to understand. I did, and took his hands in both of mine to assure him how seriously I took his concern. I know you feel these are the worst of times I do believe it's true When people lock their doors and hide inside "Taine," I said, my voice thick with emotion. "I love you more than anything or anyone in this entire world. I would never do anything to hurt you, or to cause you to be hurt. Look, I don't want to tell everybody either. Just because I might have known first, or took the initiative with you doesn't mean I'm Harvey Milk, running around and proclaiming our love from the rooftops. My mom doesn't even know, and that's the only reason I'm even going home tonight. Don't you think I would rather stay here with you?" "I do," he said, "and I would really love that. But I just needed you to know..." Rumor has it it's the end of Paradise But I know, if the world just passed us by Baby I know, you wouldn't have to cry, no, no "I know," I said, and kissed him. "I promise you, Taine. The only people who know are people who need to know. That's Linda, our dads, and us. Okay?" "Carter knows," Taine replied. "Do you think he'll get stoned and tell somebody? What if he tells Roger? Roger's still mad at you about that orgy you had with Kathy behind the elementary school." "He won't say anything," I said emphatically. "It's just you and me, Babes. But if anyone does find out, I swear to you that I will handle it, and it will be okay." Taine shook his head sadly. "You can't promise that," he said. "I know how my life works, Ricky. This isn't going to be 'happily ever after.' I don't get those." "You haven't gotten one yet," I corrected. "What do you think about trying to change that?" The best of times are when I'm alone with you Some rain some shine, we'll make this a world for two Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime Taine just looked at me with a sad, faint smile. I could tell he wanted to believe me, wanted to believe in us, but with all of the bad breaks he'd had, he was finding it very difficult to have faith in anything. "Well," he said at last, "we've come this far. I don't want to stop now." He took me in his arms then, and I took him in mine, and together we made everything okay. We'll take the best, forget the rest And someday we'll find These are the best of times These are the best of times
  5. SHDWriter

    Chapter 9: When You Were Young

    My, but Daniel is good at playing the good son... I like that you wrote this whole scene without making him have one of those "mask-slipping" moments that other writers tend to use (badly) in stories like this. Usually, those are so obvious that you start wondering why the family is so daft as to not notice and, having had some experience with sociopaths myself, their masks really don't slip as often as some writers think. Your story, on the other hand, is quite believable and a joy to read for fans of the "cuckoo in the nest" genre. Great stuff!
  6. SHDWriter

    Chapter 28

    Wednesday was our last big after-school practice before the Foxrun tournament, which would be my first of the year, since I had been suspended for the one at Chamberlain. The team had done fairly well at that one, considering that we were only one of seventy-two schools participating. Carter qualified in Humorous Interpretation, placing second, and Linda had placed second in Poetry Reading, but that wasn't a qualifying event. Our speech team had done better. Kathy Witcher had placed third in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, qualifying for state because one of the two finalists had pre-qualified at another contest that we hadn't attended; Robin Powers had qualified with a second place in Men's Extemporaneous Speaking; and we had three other finalists besides. But Polk managed to place second in the overall sweepstakes because of one guy: Raymond Steadman. Raymond was a tall, handsome African-American junior who was quiet and dignified in his personal life, with a great sense of humor. He lived around the corner from me and had a younger brother on the basketball team. His father (whose name was also Raymond) was a fit, athletic war veteran who ran every morning despite his scarred, burned and withered left leg, which -- due to some unspecified combat trauma -- was little more than a thin stick, scar tissue wrapped around bone. I admired his perseverance and athleticism in the face of such an injury. When Raymond Steadman Jr. opened his mouth at tournaments, pure gold flowed out. He nabbed first place in Original Oratory at Chamberlain, bolstered with a quarterfinals appearance in Lincoln-Douglas Debate (losing only to last year's national champion by the luck of the draw) and topped it off with a first place in Dramatic Interpretation, a cutting from the football drama Brian's Song which brought the audience in the finals room to tears. Raymond was our big weapon that year, and no one doubted that he had a very good chance of winning State and moving on to Nationals in at least one event. The team was still teasing Kathy that day in Mr. McRory's room, as she -- despite her obvious debate skills -- had a rather amusing speech impediment, causing her to pronounce her "r"s as "w"s, particularly when she wasn't paying attention to it as closely as she did in competition. Apparently, at the Chamberlain tournament, she had gone to check the "break sheets" posted in the cafeteria, which announced the contestants who had moved from one round to the next, and noticed that Raymond Steadman and Robin Powers had both advanced to the final round of Original Oratory. Upon making this discovery, Kathy had exclaimed in surprise, releasing a sentence which sounded like this: "Wow! Waymond and Wobin in the same Owation wound! Woo, what a wough woom!" This became the mantra of our forensics team for the rest of the year, spoken in hushed tones whenever both Robin and Raymond made the finals in something, which was fairly often, or just any time we needed to get a cheap laugh at Kathy's expense. Her response was always a haughty toss of her hair, after which she would turn on her heel and leave the room, pointing at the trophy table as concrete evidence of her speaking skills. Secretly, I prayed that I -- Rick -- would make the finals with Raymond and Robin at one tournament, just to extend the joke's potential. I ran through my Humorous Interp of Titanic and joined Linda for our Duet of Same Time, Next Year, impressing Mr. McRory enough so that, after he gave us our final notes, he took me aside and said, "Rick, you're showing a lot of promise for a freshman, and I really want you to try out for the play next week." I agreed that I would and hurried off to follow Linda to the school parking lot. She was still talking to Carter about something or another, and I noticed them smiling intimately and leaning in to each other as the afternoon sun kissed their golden-blonde hair, seemingly blessing their incipient romance. They moved apart slightly when they saw me approaching, and Carter gave me a big shit-eating grin. "Hello, Mrs. Premise," he trilled, in the high-pitched British accent of Monty Python. "Hello, Mrs. Conclusion," I exclaimed in return. Pointing at Linda, I continued the bit: "There's a penguin on the television set!" "Hmm," Carter went on in character. "How d'ya suppose that got there?" Linda cut us off, having heard us do this particular bit numerous times, but laughed anyway just to be polite. "You guys are so funny," she said, "but we have to get going. I'm starving." "I'll call you later," Carter said with a wink, and ambled off to blaze up with Roger and Jack Delman, his two senior stoner buddies. Neither Roger nor Jack ever really had much success at tournaments, but they enjoyed the experience so always entered regardless, usually in Prose, Poetry or Impromptu Speaking, the less-demanding version of Extemp which didn't qualify for State either. Linda and I began walking toward her car, and both of us were happily surprised -- if a bit puzzled -- to see Taine leaning against the hood. I ran up and hugged him, sneaking a kiss in the otherwise empty parking lot. Practice had run until six o'clock, and I hadn't expected my Babes to still be around. "Taine!" said Linda, giving him a big hug, "Have you been waiting here this whole time?" "Naw," Taine demurred. "I went over to the mall and had some Orange Julius." "For an hour and a half?" Linda teased. "You guys..." Taine blushed and I grinned happily as we piled into Linda's car. Orange Julius or not, Taine still had plenty of appetite for sweets when we stopped at the nearby ice-cream parlor so that Linda and I could have some burgers. Taine ordered a gigantic strawberry shake, topped with whipped cream, multi-colored sprinkles and a giant maraschino cherry. Linda giggled as the waitress -- dressed as if it was the 1950s -- deposited it in front of him, along with a steel shaker containing some extra pink goo. I went to hold his hand under the table, but both of Taine's perfect paws slapped themselves around the glass, the cap lowered over the straw, and half of the giant shake disappeared into Taine with a loud slurping sound. Linda and I both giggled as the brim of the cap raised to expose my Babes' confused expression. He looked at us with puzzlement. "What?" he said, "I like strawberry shakes." Which only made us giggle some more. There was nothing more adorable than an adorable boy who didn't realize exactly how adorable he was. * * * * * Linda dropped us both off at Taine's house, where I called Rex to let him know that I'd be home later. After some minor grumbling about how he'd had to feed the birds while I was "dancing around the maypole," as he termed my Drama activities, Rex assented. I gave a quick wave to Sly, who was watching the news in the living room, and followed Taine up the stairs. Tossing our book bags together in the corner of his room, Taine and I flopped down together on his bed, side by side, and shared a long and loving embrace, nibbling at each others' lips in happy reunion. It seemed now as if any time at which we were not joined physically was an interruption of our special bond, and we had to re-establish it by hugging and kissing until we felt that the magical unity of our souls had returned. Neither of us had ever known such close connection, such complete intimacy with another human being, and we valued it highly, cherishing and nurturing it with great attention and care. What we had was not the typically lust-centered teenage experimentation -- which even led countless straight boys into each others' arms and beds when the hormones were surging -- but something profoundly spiritual, which joined us through our adolescent angst, our inner fears and hopes, and even through our dreams. "I had a dream about you a couple of nights ago," I said softly as we lay on our sides facing each other. "Tell me," Taine said, his eyes intent and expectant. I felt as if Taine was always somehow starving for information about himself. I don't think he was confident enough in his perceptions of who he was or how he fit into the world to rely on his own observations. Human interaction was strange and confusing to him, and he often needed it interpreted and contextualized before he would be at peace. He needed additional data, in other words, and was always curious about how his thoughts and actions were seen by others, especially in dreams, which he valued highly, and especially if those dreams were mine. "I dreamed about the drawing you made," I said. I told Taine about the dream, and he listened to me intently as we lay there, one of our arms around each other's waist as the other was clasping each other's free hand between us. When I had finally finished recounting my dream, I snuggled closer to Taine, resting my head softly into his neck as I cuddled his warm, slender body next to mine. "What do you think it means, Babes? The drawing, the dream...what does it mean?" Taine was silent for a long time, but I wasn't alarmed, as I knew he was digesting, processing what I had told him, gathering his thoughts and emotions, searching for the right words to carry the burden of explanation from deep within his soul to the outside world, which at that moment was represented by me. At long last, he pulled away from our embrace, looked me in the eyes, and slowly stroked my hair and the side of my face, never breaking contact, with his other hand held firmly in my own. I gazed deeply into his eyes, studying his expression with expectant admiration. I was lost in the moment, almost forgetting my question as my breath was once more taken away by Taine's sheer heartbreaking beauty. With a long expression of concern drawn across his perfect face, he studied my eyes as if searching for understanding, for encouragement...almost for permission, it seemed to me. I nodded my head slightly, and that appeared to be enough. "I really want to talk to you about your dream," he said softly. "I also want to tell you what that picture I drew means to me. But after that, I want to be able to talk about a conversation I had with my dad. Is that okay, Ricky?" "Of course it's okay, Babes," I said sympathetically. "You can tell me anything and everything, you know that." Taine rolled slowly onto his back, and I propped myself on an elbow and leaned over him, still hugging him to me with my other arm. He looked up at the ceiling, took one more deep breath, and began to speak. "I'm trapped in that cell," he said. "Abandoned by my father, who just left my family alone in our grief after my baby sister died as if we didn't matter, and by my mother, who left me alone later by dying just when I needed her the most. I've always felt isolated, and imprisoned in that isolation. I feel like I'm imprisoned all the time, shackled by the barbed wire, and it's slowly bleeding me away. All those barbs on the wire, they're my past. Those razor-sharp barbs are everything that ever hurt me, and I bleed from every one of those wounds all the time. Every minute of every day. Do you understand?" He turned his head to look at me. I nodded, unable to speak. Taine acknowledged my nod, then turned to the ceiling again and continued. "I'm not surprised the barbed wire sliced you up," he sighed. "I told you that my past would hurt us both. In the picture, I drew your shadow in an open doorway, as if you could free me from that cell. But your dream is much more likely to come true than my drawing. The door closes, you're locked in with me, and we both get hurt...really hurt. And it's going to happen soon, Ricky. What came up behind you -- that monster or whatever it was that you dreamed about -- that thing wasn't in my picture, but it was real. And it's coming." He kissed me then, and I melted into him, but both of our minds seemed to be elsewhere. My mind was on my dead dog, the misspelled note written in Foxy's blood, and the black Charger. What Taine was thinking, I cannot say, but I held him as tight as I could while we each mulled over our own dark fears of what might be coming next. We laid together that way for a long time, until Taine finally pulled away, looked back toward the ceiling, and began to tell me about his conversation with his father.
  7. SHDWriter

    Chapter 7: To Impress

    Everything Daniel does makes me chuckle an evil laugh. Is that a bad thing? I can only imagine what sort of monstrous plot he has in mind, or the fireworks when it all comes together. This is a delightfully wicked story.
  8. SHDWriter

    Chapter 27

    I must have fallen asleep too at some point, because when Taine's shifting awakened me some time later, it was dark outside. I opened my eyes and hugged him close, kissing the first thing in reach, which happened to be his right nipple. I traced my tongue around and it and felt it begin to stiffen between my lips. I continued to trace my way up the side of his chest with my tongue, dipping it into the valley of his armpit and lapping at the silken hairs. "That tickles," Taine giggled sleepily, and pulled me on top of him. We shared a long, tender kiss, its gentleness quite in contrast to the frenzied passion which had knocked us both out with satisfied exhaustion more than an hour ago. Taine wrapped his arms around my lower back, resting his hand on my smooth, round ass, which now belonged only to him. I felt as if, with his rough and insistent fucking, Taine had removed from my front, my rear and all points north any lingering emotional traces of Jeff's cold and painful invasion, of Kathy's smarmy blowjob, of Mark's smirking kiss, or even of... THAT OTHER THING. That other thing from two years before, which I always did my best not to think about, even as the image of that steel trash can lid, smeared with my blood, invaded my dreams. In my mind, I had become a virgin again, and had then been retaken and claimed solely by Taine, the man whom I loved. And that was just fine with me. "What are you thinking," mumbled Taine, studying my face as I raised myself slightly on my elbows to admire him. "I'm thinking that I'm the luckiest person in the world," I replied, covering his lips, cheeks and chin with light, playful kisses which made him giggle again. I flicked the tip of my tongue into that adorable dimple and grinned. "That was a pretty cute railing you gave me," I smiled. "I told you that I'd show you 'cute'," Taine chuckled. Then his eyes grew serious and concerned. "How was it? I mean...I've never done that before. I didn't hurt you, did I?" I closed my eyes, smiling and shaking my head no. "Did I look like I was hurting? You were fantastic. You could never hurt me, because I want you inside me. It only hurts if you don't really, truly want it. Did I hurt you on Sunday?" "No," he said softly. "You were so sweet and tender, and you took it slowly enough that it didn't hurt at all. In fact, it felt better than anything I've ever felt in my life. It's just, I'm not as experienced as you are, and I was kind of rough..." I silenced him with a long, gentle kiss. "I didn't tell you the news," I said. "What news?" Taine asked. "Well," I replied, stretching languorously along his body, "I've decided that you made me a virgin again and then marked me as yours and yours alone. From this night forward, I have no experience with anyone except with you. I've never had an experience except with you." He looked down at me as I kissed his neck and clavicle, genuinely moved. "I love you, Ricky," he whispered. I hugged him tightly to me, breathing in his light, wonderful boy-smell, and thought I must be the happiest guy alive. "I love you, Taine," I murmured, stroking his hair while rubbing my head softly against him. "You're everything I ever wanted and never knew. You're what I was praying for all those nights when I was a kid, standing in the yard and looking up at the moon, yearning for something, someone to make me happy and take away the pain. God answered me by sending an angel, and that angel is you, Taine. It's you." Taine wrapped his arms around me and squeezed me to him as tightly as he could, and I felt a lone tear fall on my cheek. I looked up at him, concerned, but he was smiling. "I don't want to say it," he said. "Because you told me how you felt when Jeff said it." I frowned, and then it dawned on me what Taine meant and I broke up laughing. "This is different," I snickered. "We've been cuddling and kissing and sleeping on each other for almost two hours. You can say it." Taine scrunched up his lips, refusing to say a word. His eyes twinkled with mischief. Finally I rolled off of him and groaned in mock-exasperation. "Fine," I said, rolling my eyes. "I'll say it. Let's go take a shower." Taine grinned, slapped my ass, and then bolted from the bed and raced me to the bathroom, both of us giggling all the way. We got to take our time with our shower that night, and it was almost better than the sex. I let Taine decide on the water temperature, as it was his house and I didn't want him to get scalded by my usual showers, which Rex referred to as "Rick's Baptisms of Fire." We stood facing each other, completely naked and vulnerable, but daring to trust another human being with this level of intimacy for the first time in either of our lives. Slowly, carefully, and with heartbreaking tenderness, we washed each others' bodies, each of us exploring every inch of the other, softly explaining our scars, kissing frequently and lovingly, and looking into each other's eyes with awe and wonder, as if we had discovered amazing and wonderful new lands, their beauty and mystery opening itself up to us, and us alone. We soaped and cleaned each other's skins as if they were the most precious and delicate gifts that we had ever received, our fingers and washcloths gliding gently and soothingly across each other's magical and glistening terrain. We ended up just standing together under the warm water for a long time, foreheads bent together, our bodies touching lightly from chests to thighs and our hands cupped lovingly around each other's cheeks. * * * * * After we had patted each other dry with a pair of thick, luxurious towels from the bathroom closet, Taine told me that he would be right back and disappeared down the stairs, naked as the day he was born. Chuckling at the sight of my beloved streaker zooming downstairs, I returned to the bedroom and lay down on my stomach, burying my face in Taine's pillow and inhaling its sweet scent. In a few minutes, I heard Taine's feet pounding up the steps. I looked over my shoulder at him, and he gave a seductive leer as his eyes locked onto my smooth, round ass. "Keep that up and you won't have to get me drunk," he said, a little out of breath. That was when he pulled his hands from behind his back with two glasses full of ice and a dark amber liquid. "Whatcha got there, Babes," I asked. "Are those cocktails?" "Yes, they are," Taine announced, padding over to the bed and handing me one of the glasses. "Bacardi and Coke, to be precise. Dad's got a full bar downstairs. I squeezed some lemon in it too...gosh, I sure wish Bacardi would invent a lemon-flavored rum." "Sly lets you drink?" I asked with surprise as Taine climbed into bed next to me, sitting cross-legged by my side. "Not really," Taine smiled, taking a sip of his drink. "But what he doesn't know won't hurt him." I grinned, lifting myself on my elbows so that I could taste my drink. It was wonderfully cold and fizzy, very sweet and with a slightly sharp alcoholic tang. I knew that at the tender age of fifteen, I had found my drink for life. "This is really good," I said, and then I felt something cold and wet at the nape of my neck. "Hey!" I twitched at the freezing sensation, nearly spilling my drink, and looked back over my shoulder. Taine had taken an ice cube, and was slowly, teasingly running it down my back, tracing the line of my spine methodically downward as the ice melted, until he finally deposited the small remains of the cube in my hairless crease. I smiled expectantly as Taine set his cocktail on the nightstand and bent forward, the tip of his tongue lapping the trail of melted ice water from the small of my back all the way back up to my neck, which he began kissing and sucking passionately as he slowly climbed on top of me. I turned around slightly, reaching my left arm up to wrap around the back of Taine's head as I angled my face back over my shoulder to meet his sweet kiss. I started to roll over onto my back, but Taine stopped me by placing a warm hand firmly between my shoulder blades and leaning to whisper in my ear. "I want to try it this way," he said, in a low, tender voice, his breath in my ear sending delicious shivers throughout my entire body. With no further ado, my cocktail joined Taine's under his bedside lamp, our bodies melded together, and we bent our backs to the night. * * * * * I awoke at dawn to the sounds of Sly banging around in the kitchen downstairs. I was sure he was preparing his standard enormous breakfast, and I was starving to get some before school. I was on my right side, Taine curled tightly around my back with his left arm holding me close and his soft breath tickling the small downy hairs on the back of my neck. If I had a choice, this was how I would want to wake up every morning for the rest of my life. It was then that I noticed that Taine had spent the entire night with his beautiful boy-part inside me. The thought filled me with contented happiness as I turned over carefully and felt his warm, soft penis slowly slip from my body. I gazed at Taine with my heart bursting with love, kissing him lightly across his lips and sleep-warmed cheek. "Babes," I whispered. "Time to get up. Let's get some breakfast before school." Taine scrunched up his beautiful face and buried it in my neck. "I don' wanna," he protested sleepily. "Come on, tiger," I teased. "You've gotta keep your strength up if you're going to make what happened last night into a habit." Squinting one eye against the warm sunlight streaming into his window, Taine opened the other and looked at me happily as he broke out into a huge yawning stretch which consumed his entire lithe young body. I couldn't resist stroking his tight, warm belly as he did so, inadvertently tickling him and causing him to laugh. "I do want to make a habit of it," he growled seductively. "But next time, it's your turn. I miss having you inside me. It feels great." "Yes, it does," I agreed, taking him into a passionate embrace. "We'll just have to take turns." We kissed deeply and for a long time before Taine finally pulled away reluctantly, his stomach growling. He smirked bashfully and pointed to it with raised eyebrows. "I guess we better go eat," he said. "It's almost 7:00." We quickly dressed and made sure our schoolbooks were in order in our backpacks. I strolled over to Taine's bedroom window, which overlooked the street, and took a quick glance outside to make sure it wasn't looking like rain. As I scanned the clouds, my eyes traveled down to a black Dodge Charger parked across the street. Before I could make out the driver's face through the half-open window, he had rolled it up and pulled away from the curb, tires squealing as the car raced up the street. "Come on," said Taine, already heading for the stairs. "Chow time!" I turned and followed him downstairs to breakfast, a growing sense of uneasiness replacing the blissful state to which I had awakened.
  9. SHDWriter

    Chapter 26

    It was Tuesday evening, and I lay in Taine's bed upstairs at the Maxwell house, thinking deep thoughts. I was on my left side, most of my weight supported by my elbow as I gently rested my head on Taine's sleeping chest. His right arm was draped loosely around my shoulders and back, and my left hand idly stroked his warm, flat belly. His knees were up, resting his legs across the top of mine as I snuggled him, curled up tightly against his soft, smooth little butt. I was sleepy and content, feeling his heart beat beneath my ear, listening to the soft sounds of his breathing as his chest steadily rose and fell, my mind drifting back over the events of the day. Nothing really terrible had happened on that Tuesday, which was a relief after what we had both been through, but there were a few events worth noting. First of these was Linda's nervousness about the car which had been following her. She was the one who first noticed the beaten-up black Charger as she had dropped Taine and me off at our respective homes the previous evening. Linda was worried, wondering whether the car belonged to one of Kevin Gorman's vengeful friends, who had already brutally murdered my dog, Foxy, and destroyed much of Sly Maxwell's beloved new red Lamborghini. I could see the despondent look on Taine's face as Linda told us of her concerns about the Charger, and I knew instantly what he was thinking: that the black cloud of doom which followed him around, which he was sure spread grave misfortune to everyone close to him, was about to claim another innocent victim. I tried to get his mind off it by pinching his butt right there in the hallway. He leapt off the ground as if electrocuted, but came down with a grin. "What was that all about?" he asked, chuckling. "Someone will see us!" "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke," said Linda. "You two are adorable." "Listen, Linda," I assured her, "Those guys aren't going to do anything to you. It's me they're pissed off at, and Sly for getting them in trouble. I don't even think they're that mad at Taine. They want me." Linda nodded, her fears seemingly assuaged, but her worry for me was written all over her pretty face. She reached out a hand and gently grasped my bare forearm. "Rick," she said in an urgent, quiet tone. "Be careful." I assured her that I would, and then Taine surprised me by speaking up in a firm, confident voice. "Nothing's going to happen to Rick," he said. "I'll make sure it doesn't." Linda smiled indulgently at the suddenly-protective Taine, but I could see by his hot blush that he took it as condescension. He turned and walked off to class without a word. As I was walking down the school hallway between my second and third period classes, the second interesting event of the day occurred. I could see Kevin Gorman, gauze still taped to his head to protect the wound I had inflicted, standing at the door of Mr. Salcedo's history class with his girlfriend, the lissome young cheerleader Tawny Watkins. Suddenly filled with anger about my dog, Sly's car, and the Charger, not to mention my almost-overwhelming rage at him for bullying my Babes, I began to approach him. He and Tawny both looked up from their conversation, eying me suspiciously. Kevin took a half-step around Tawny, sliding in front of her protectively, and looked at me with defiance, but I could see fear in his eyes. "Don't talk to me, psycho," said Kevin, all but shoving Tawny into Mr. Salcedo's room and following quickly behind her. This was new for me, having a guy Kevin's size being so afraid of what I might do that he felt the need to flee with his girlfriend into the safety of a classroom. I didn't know quite what to make of it, and found it somewhat disturbing to realize that I had a slight smile playing on my lips. But...wait a minute. If he was afraid of me, why would he be brazenly killing my dog and trashing Sly's car? Why would he be following Linda around in a beat-up Charger when he and most of his friends drove expensive Mercedes or BMWs? I hurried to my third period class, deciding that I would attempt to process this new information at a later time. After class, I headed to the cafeteria to meet Taine. I found him already sitting at our table, but rather than picking listlessly and silently at his food as usual, he seemed agitated and eager to talk. I slid my tray onto the table, surveyed my leathery chicken-fried steak with congealed country gravy, and raised my eyes to meet his. They were blazing! "Did you see?" he began, his expression animated and upset. "Did you see what Linda did?" I was perplexed. "What did she do?" I asked. "I said I wouldn't let anything happen to you, and she laughed! She fucking laughed!" "She didn't laugh, Babes," I explained. "She was smiling because she thought it was cute that you were being so protective of me." "She laughed!" Taine insisted heatedly. "She was being patronizing because...well, what you said! She thought it was 'cute'. I'm not 'cute,' I'm a man!" "You're my cute man," I grinned, but instantly realized from the defiant look on Taine's face that I'd made a mistake. "Yeah, you'll see how 'cute' I am," he said firmly. I arched an eyebrow in confusion. I was taken aback by the seriousness of his tone, and wondered just what I'd led myself into. Taine's mood seemed to lighten after that, and I eventually told him what had happened with Kevin and Tawny in front of Mr. Salcedo's class, making sure to include my observations about his friends' cars and the fear in his eyes. My thoughtful, deliberative angel took in everything I told him, and I could see him processing it as he slowly chewed his enriched wheat biscuit. Finally, he swallowed the last of the cud-like mass and looked up at me seriously. "It's not Kevin's friends," he said. "I mean, your dog and my dad's car was Kevin's friends, but not the Charger. Not the Charger. I don't know who it is, Ricky, but that doesn't make any sense." "I mean, it could be..." I tried to qualify my statement, but Taine raised a finger to silence me. One thing about Taine which I had come to learn was that he would silently consider the ins and outs of any possibility, but once he voiced his opinion, that was it. It was set in stone and there would be no dislodging it with further consideration. The rest of the day passed quickly, and other than a brief conversation with Linda in which I cautioned her about being too maternal or condescending toward Taine, nothing else happened of note. * * * * * After I got home and fed the birds, I checked with Tynah about spending the night at the Maxwell home. Sly had invited me over, knowing that I had been a good boy the day before and had paid my dues to Tynah and Rex by making my presence known at home, but decided that Taine and I needed to spend some time together. Rex had signed off on my overnight absence, and Tynah considered it for a moment before giving her assent. "Normally, I'd think it was strange for a high school boy to sleep over at another boy's house," she said, wiggling her eyebrows with a suggestive leer. "But you are going through so much lately...I think maybe you two need to stick together for a while." I nodded gravely, not failing to note that Tynah was making a joke of who Taine and I -- unbeknownst to her -- really were. To Tynah, gay people were jokes on television. They were Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly and Rip Taylor. Silly, campy people who jokingly hinted of unspeakable perversions, but in the end were just powder-puff comical creations, throwing confetti and mincing around a stage to delight "normal people." I didn't let my expression reveal my inner thoughts. After all, if Tynah had even considered the true nature of my relationship with Taine to be a realistic option, in the realm of actual possibility, she would never have agreed to let me spend the night, and would probably have dragged me kicking and screaming to her fire-and-brimstone Methodist church to be "saved," whatever that meant. I didn't need saving. I needed Taine. And so it was that I loaded up my backpack with schoolbooks and a change of clothes for the next day and rode my bicycle over to the Maxwell house, scruffy little Meatball yapping and nipping at my heels for as long as his stubby, gnarled legs would let him run. When I got there, I found Sly examining his newly-painted, well-restored Lambo in the driveway. He smiled as I coasted my bike to a stop in front of him. "How ya doin', Rick?" he said with a jovial grin. "Come on inside." He waved me into the house after him, and I dropped my bike by the garage door and followed. Sly had prepared a real Italian feast for us, with lasagna, garlic bread, steaming hot squash and homemade cannoli for dessert. It was all absolutely delicious. Taine was fairly quiet during the meal, but kept giving me strange, sidelong glances and nudging my Reeboks with his Jegs under the table. I wasn't accustomed to this side of Taine, and didn't really know how to react, but kept up a light conversation with Sly all the same. After we had rinsed off all the dishes and loaded them into Sly's wide, modern dishwasher, Taine's dad grabbed his keys, gave us each a semi-crushing hug and a kiss on the forehead, and announced that he was going out for the evening. I blushed, aware that Sly knew full well what we would be getting up to, and was giving us the space to do so. Taine had already taken his shower while I was at my house, so I jumped in to take a quick rinse as well after Sly had left for his date with Ms. Ogretz. I was very much taken with the showers in the Maxwell home, as they were large and spacious, with water just as hot as I wanted it -- I preferred my showers scalding -- and variable strength which I could crank up to the velocity of a high-pressure hose. I dried myself as I left the bathroom, not bothering to put on any clothes. I knew Taine and I had some serious loving to catch up on, and I was eager to get started. I made my way into his room, but didn't see him anywhere. Shrugging, I stretched myself out nude on his bed, my pulsing erection already slapping my stomach in anticipation of our coming passion. It would be only our second sexual experience together, and I imagined that it would proceed much as the first, with lots of kissing and cuddling, Taine taking a passive, innocently accepting and almost shy role as I explored his body with my hands, my mouth and my penis, filling him with slow, lingering pleasure which would continue throughout the night. What I didn't realize was how much Linda's smile had belittled and upset him, and how much my overprotective nature had made him feel that he was being regarded as something less than masculine. My Babes now had something to prove, and I was about to experience the knowledge that we had awakened a sleeping tiger. My first hint of this was when Taine ran into the room naked and pounced onto the bed on top of me, his beautiful cock already stiff and enraged, bouncing off his belly. This was not the bashful Taine of Sunday night, who had been almost demure in his shy acceptance of my physical attentions. This time, Taine meant business. With no preliminaries, he grabbed both of my wrists and gripped them tightly as he stretched above me, knees pushing my legs apart as he knelt between them. Growling passionately, Taine began hungrily kissing and biting at my lips, pressing his perfect mouth into mine. There was a wild, lust-filled look in his eyes as he ravished me, and I -- despite being completely taken by surprise -- was incredibly excited by it. Gazing at me with at with an evil, seductive grin, Taine worked himself down my neck and chest, nipping at my pale throat with his teeth and lashing my nipples with his tongue. When he got down to my right nipple, he bit down hard, then licked the pain away as I gasped with pleasure, feeling his love bite in every nerve of my young body. Taine stopped briefly, resting back on his heels between my outstretched legs. He leaned over and removed a pink bottle from under the duvet, then squeezed some of the baby lotion into his hand, slicking his steely, reddened erection without breaking eye contact with me. I didn't know who this person was in Taine's body, but I liked him. "You're gonna get it now," he growled in a voice deep and husky with lust. I smiled seductively, giving him the okay -- as if he would have taken "no" for an answer, in the ridiculously unlikely event that I would have given it. He slapped a hand between my legs, and I felt the cool lotion between my cheeks as he quickly slid a slick finger into my tight, hairless pucker. He worked the finger around inside me, warming the lotion and driving me crazy. After a time, he withdrew it, still smiling and never breaking eye contact. Roughly, he pulled my legs apart so they were resting across each of his smooth, pale thighs. Then he leaned forward over me, holding himself up with his left hand as he used his right to guide his hard, glistening erection toward my well-lubed opening. Lunging forward with another deep growl, he buried himself inside me. Unlike my experience with Jeff, this intrusion was entirely welcome and only hurt for a second. The pain of anal sex is never at the opening, because the first sphincter is under voluntary muscle control. It's the second, which is under the control of the subconscious, which causes any problems, which is why the passive partner in such endeavors is always told to relax. My feeling was that relaxation had nothing to do with it, and as consumed with passion and lust as I was at that moment, I was hardly what one would call relaxed. No, I thought, you just had to want it. And I did. Oh, I did, and he gave it to me, hard and fast, jackrabbiting in and out of me with long, deep strokes, his tight, beautiful ass clenching beneath my hands as he pistoned his hot, steely-hard rod inside me. I was gasping, moaning, delirious with pleasure as he fucked me, and that's what it was. Taine wasn't making love to me. This was hot, sweaty, X-rated fucking, and he was proving a point to me in the most blunt, primal, and elemental manner possible. And I got the point for the entire long, mind-blowing deep-dicking he was giving me until we both finally came together hard, screaming and grasping at each other's hot, sweaty flesh as we bucked against each other's hips and Taine shot wave after wave of his sweet, molten love deep inside me. The point that Taine had so emphatically made, and reaffirmed with a meaningful look into my ecstatically satiated eyes, was that he wasn't my baby, or my ward, or a charity case. He wasn't some innocent, helpless angel who needed pity and indulgence. He was a man. He was MY man. And, I thought as I curled up against his warm, beautiful body as he dozed, I would love him until the end of my days.
  10. SHDWriter

    Chapter 25

    Linda dropped Taine off at his house first, and he slipped a sealed manila envelope into my hands before kissing me goodnight and climbing out of the car. "Open that at home," he said. "I love you, Ricky." "I love you, Babes," I replied. "See you tomorrow." I climbed out of the backseat after him, jumping in the front next to Linda as we waved to Taine and drove off toward my house. "I've made a decision," said Linda. I looked at her expectantly, raising my eyebrows. "I've decided," she continued, "that I like Taine. At first I thought he was a little weird because he's so shy and never talks to anybody, but I can see now that he's different around you." "I'm glad you feel that way," I said, "because from now on, we're a package deal." Linda smiled and glanced over at me. "You're different around him, too. You're really crazy about him, aren't you?" "I am," I admitted happily. "He's not like anyone else I've ever met." "He's got a lot of hurt inside," she said. "Are you sure you're up to that?" "I hope so," I said, my fingers running over the envelope. "Somehow, I think that between me, Sly and Rex, we can take some of that pain away, or at least keep him safe while we work through it together." "Just promise me something." I waited, nodding. "Just promise me you won't try to fix him. Boys are always trying to fix everything, but people aren't car engines or kitchen sinks, Rick. Just be there for him and help him to fix himself." I pondered Linda's sage advice, and realized the distinction she was making. As she pulled her car up to the curb in front of my house, I made the promise which she had requested, and decided that I would have to keep it. Giving Linda a goodbye peck on the cheek and thanking her for the ride, I gathered my things and made my way up the steep driveway to the garage. Had I turned around, I might have seen the broken-down black Dodge Charger slowly trailing Linda's car as she pulled away. * * * * * Rex's white Chevy Nova wasn't in the garage, but Tynah's car -- a matching Nova, only bright blue -- was already in its usual spot. After feeding and watering the birds, I replaced the big bag of birdseed in the garage and entered the house through the door to the kitchen. I found Tynah reclining in the La-Z-Boy chair in the living room, still in her office attire and watching a Match Game re-run on TV. I went over to give her a hug, then sat down on the couch to watch the rest of the show with her. We didn't have much in common except for a naughty sense of humor, and the show delighted both of us with its risque questions and answers. "Unlucky Louie said, 'My rotten luck,'" smirked host Gene Rayburn. "'I went on a diet and I lost three inches. Unfortunately, it was off my...blank." "Hoo-ha!" Tynah giggled. "He lost it off his hoo-ha!" I laughed and said "nose," matching only one of the six celebrity panelists, Brett Somers. To my surprise, Tynah's naughty response matched The Bob Newhart Show's Marcia Wallace, whose answer card was covered with a large digital OOPS! to appease network censors. It was good to be laughing with Tynah again, as she hadn't shown much levity since the awful fate which had befallen our beloved dog Foxy the week before. After snickering through the rest of the show, I went to my room to change into shorts and a t-shirt, flicking on the stereo before sitting down to do my homework. As I sat on my bed with my school books and folders in front of me, I decided to open the manila envelope which my Babes had handed me in Linda's car. I broke the envelope's seal and was surprised as I withdrew a thick sheet of artist's drawing paper, revealing an elaborate pencil-sketch. I examined it carefully as the music played in the background. Hello darkness, my old friend I've come to talk with you again I didn't even know that Taine drew, and was impressed by his work. It was definitely a very good drawing, simultaneously obscure and evocative. It showed a boy -- obviously Taine himself -- sitting in a tall, almost seven-foot-high chair in what looked to be some sort of dark, concrete room. Taine's head was downcast, and had hair long enough that it hid his face as he leaned forward in the chair. Because a vision softly creeping Left its seeds while I was sleeping It almost seemed like Taine was crying, or at least that's what I thought he was doing. The perspective was from the door of this room, and a figure's shadow appeared in the dim light from the doorway as it fell across the dark cobblestone floor. And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains, within the sound of silence Because the room was so dark, not much could be seen aside from the chair, Taine, and the shadow in the doorway. There was one other feature, however. Several lengths of barbed wire, crisscrossing the floor of the room, twining up the chair and wrapping around Taine's ankles and wrists. And not just any barbed wire. This wire had grotesquely oversized barbs, pointed and sharp as razors, and they were digging into Taine's flesh, rivulets of dark blood streaming from the wounds down into the shadowy darkness which surrounded him. I searched the sketch for a signature or a date, but predictably didn't find one. Taine was not the kind of artist to sign his drawings. I studied the drawing for a while, trying to understand its meaning, but soon the emotional exhaustion of my long school day, combined with my lack of sleep and draining -- though heavenly -- physical exertions with Taine the night before, sent me into a deep, long sleep. I dreamed about Taine's picture. * * * * * I was in the room with him, and he was still bound to the chair, bleeding from his wrists and ankles. I tried to get the barbed wire off of him, but had only succeeded in getting my own arms and hands sliced up. Painfully, too. This was one of those dreams where I could feel everything. When I finally reached Taine, he looked up at me, and told me that I had to hurry if we were to escape. I redoubled my efforts at freeing him, but that was when the door slammed shut, locking me in the darkened cell with Taine and...something else. As the light began to fade, I heard an awful, wet laughter, low and gurgling. Taine whispered, "It's here, Ricky. It knows you're with me now, and it won't let you go." The slobbering laughter had moved to just behind my neck then, and I felt the barbed wire slithering around my ankles, my wrists... When I felt the wire tighten around my balls, I tried to scream, but no sound had come out. That was when I felt the hot breath on my neck, and the laughter suddenly ceased. Taine looked at me with sad eyes. "It has us now," he said. * * * * * I awoke with a start and took a moment to shake off an eerie, disturbing dream. I was under the covers, and it was dark in my room. The stereo had been turned off, and my books had been moved to the desk in the corner. Tynah must have come in and found me asleep, and done all this while I was dead to the world. I glanced over at the clock-radio on my nightstand, which read 1:11 a.m. I remembered hearing something about how you were supposed to say a prayer for the one you love at 1:11, and it would be answered. Staring into the darkness of my room, I began to pray for Taine. Then I prayed for myself. And, finally, I saved my most heartfelt prayers for that new, fragile being called "Us."
  11. SHDWriter

    Chapter 3

    This was a very moving and powerful story. Thank you so much for telling it.
  12. SHDWriter

    Chapter 24

    I'm glad you caught the whole "blissfully unaware" thing... and there was reference earlier to Rick's habit of zoning out due to what he believed may have been "an undiagnosed concussion or two." But maybe that's not the only reason that life seems to just happen to him by surprise and with little seeming effect, or why his focus is drawn toward certain events rather than others. I'm not going to give anything away, but let's just say this topic will be revisited in a while.
  13. SHDWriter

    Chapter 24

    Linda parked at the mall across the street from the school and we all walked over together, Taine shaking his head every few steps in a futile attempt to wake himself up for the long day ahead. Once inside the hallowed halls of Polk, we thanked Linda for the ride and each went our separate ways, as we all had different classes for first period. I was expecting a lot of stares and whispers, considering that I had just put Kevin Gorman in the hospital the previous week by beating him bloody with Taine's English book. I certainly got all the stares and whispers I could want, and by the time I walked into Mrs. Colby's English class and took my seat, I felt like I was the talk of the school for all the wrong reasons. That was when I noticed Mike Colman standing beside my desk. Mike was a painfully thin and geeky freshman, brilliant but not what you'd call socially adept. He wore wire-frame glasses which were too large for his small, almost fetal baby face, navy-blue rayon slacks above battered brown sneakers, a light-blue short-sleeved shirt with buttons down the front, and -- God help us all -- a plastic pocket protector in his breast pocket which held two pencils, a pen, a mechanical pencil and a protractor. "So, uhm, Rick," he began in a low, nervous voice. "Hey, Mike," I said casually. I always tried to be friendly to him, not just because no one else was, but because I truly appreciated both his intellect and his wit, which usually went over everyone else's heads with its multi-layered cultural and historical references. "Uhm, I just wanted to say that what you did last week was really cool." Cool? This I hadn't expected. After my walk from the side door of the school to my locker and then to class, I felt like everyone had decided I was some kind of psycho, dangerous and not to be trusted. I cocked an eyebrow at Mike, and saw an unexpected admiration in his eyes behind the thick lenses of his glasses. "That guy is a dick," Mike explained. "He's been picking on me and everyone else since the fourth grade. He deserved what he got, and I'm glad you did it." I gave him a wry smile. "You don't think I'm a psycho?" Mike shrugged. "Takes one to beat one." He took his seat as the bell rang and Mrs. Colby entered the room. She gave me a long stare, causing a few nervous titters and more whispers around me. "Welcome back, Mr. Spivey," she said flatly. "Let's see if you've found some less combative uses for your English text during your vacation." I blushed, and she smiled, and the class laughed, breaking the tension. I started to think that maybe things were going to be okay after all. I was wrong. * * * * * When English class was over, I gathered my stuff and went to Mrs. Colby's desk, handing her some assignments which Taine had gathered for me to complete during my suspension. She accepted them and then looked up at me, pulling her glasses down her nose and staring me in the eye. "As a teacher at this school," she said, "I can't condone what you did to Kevin. But I had him in class two years ago, and as a person..." She fingered the cover of the teacher's edition of our English textbook laying on her desk. It was at least double the size of the student version, heavy, bulky and thick. "...it would have been nice if you'd had this one," she whispered with a smile, then turned her attention to her paperwork. I grinned. Mrs. Colby affected the persona of a grumpy old schoolmarm, but she never failed to delight me when she let it slip. I turned and left the room, a smile still on my face. The smile froze when I heard a deep, menacing voice behind me in the hallway. "Woof, woof, motherfucker." I spun around angrily to see who it was, only to catch a brief glimpse of some giggling girls who had overheard, and a Polk varsity letter jacket disappearing into the crowd of students. It was going to be a long day. * * * * * I managed to make it to lunch, and sat with Taine at our usual table, trying to ignore the stares and whispers. I invited Mike Colman to sit with us, but he merely shook his head, staring at the ground as he made his way to the Geek Table, where protractors, geometers and heated discussions about Dungeons & Dragons had made his life somewhat bearable throughout his education. I looked down at my lunch, then over at Taine. My poor Babes looked so tired that I was afraid he would fall asleep in his food. He held a French fry awkwardly in his fingers, aimlessly dipping it into a pool of ketchup on his tray. "So how has your day been going?" he asked quietly. "Weird," I replied. "I'm a hero to the Geeks and the teachers, and Richard Speck to everyone else." I didn't mention the "woof, woof" to Taine, because I didn't want to upset him. He looked like he had been through enough that morning as it was. I wanted to ask him what had happened, but I knew that Taine hated to be asked how he was doing. He would tell me in his own time. I forced down most of the dark, leathery meat which was advertised as "Salisbury Steak" on the school menu, gobbled the fries, green beans and doughy "strawberry tart," then accepted the remains of Taine's lunch as he pushed the tray over to me. I began working on my second course as Taine finally spoke. He looked at me first, and I really wanted to kiss him, to feel his skin, but I couldn't risk it in the crowded lunchroom. I sent him a message of love with my eyes instead, and his slow blink told me that it was received and returned. He smirked and leaned back in his chair. "Lenny French body checked me in the hallway," he said, "and I got a few nasty looks from people, but it wasn't that bad. I don't think many people remember it was me. That's one of the perks of being invisible." My heart clenched at his words. Even though it was actually a blessing for him that day, I felt bad that Taine was so ignored and relegated to the sidelines, an extra in the movie of his own life. I knew that much of it was by choice -- the ever-present cap with its brim pulled down to shield him from the world speaking to that choice -- but I wondered how much he might secretly hate it. One thing I knew for sure, I thought as he rose and slowly left the cafeteria, is that he wasn't an extra to me. He would always be the star of my show. * * * * * Mr. McRory took me into his office during Drama class, pointing at the bench along the wall. It was painted in "UIL gray," part of the school's practice-set for the University Interscholastic League's One-Act Play contests in the spring. The plays were all performed using the same unit sets: various benches, platforms and blocks fashioned of plywood and painted in the same flat gray color. Mr. McRory was also in standard mode, wearing his usual outfit of Izod, khaki slacks and TopSiders with blue socks. He was no more a real preppy than I was, having attended a public high school across town before studying theatre at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, thirty-five miles up the highway from San Antonio. Still, we both liked the look, and on some days we appeared to have been dressed by the same person, the only difference being that I set off my Izods and TopSiders with designer jeans instead of khakis. While the rest of the class practiced in the classroom, Mr. McRory lit a cigarette and began what I was sure was going to be an unpleasant speech. "Rick," he said, "I'm going to level with you. I was really pissed off at you all week. We needed you at that tournament. You let us down. You let Linda down." "I'm sorry," I said. "You're a good actor, Rick, and everyone here likes you and wants you to be in the play. But I need to know whether this was a one-time thing and we'll be able to count on you for the play and for the rest of tournament season, or if you're going to make this a habit." I studied Mr. McRory carefully before replying. It was only then that I noticed his mustache was gone. Without it, he bore even more of a resemblance to the actor Donald Sutherland than he had with it. "What happened to your 'stache, Mr. Mac?" I asked. It was the wrong answer. "I shaved it off," he said coldly. "Forget it. Go back and practice your Duet." I tried to dial the conversation back, but in vain. Dejected and embarrassed, I rejoined Linda on the Drama Room's makeshift practice stage. "That didn't go well," I said to her, as we moved two chairs to the starting positions for our scene. "Oh, Rick," Linda replied indulgently. "You know Mr. McRory. He'll come around eventually. Just run the scene with me a few times. Show him you mean business. He'll be fine." "Okay," I said, taking my place next to her and facing the imaginary audience for our brief introductory speech. "Doris and George are married," she began. "But not to each other," I joined in. And so it went... * * * * * After school, Linda and I waited for Taine in the parking lot, and talked about this and that. I hadn't had any more run-ins with any of Kevin's friends for the rest of the day, and I hoped that my Babes hadn't either. After a few minutes, he emerged from the building, talking to no one, his eyes downcast as he shuffled from the school. God, I thought. This place must have been Hell for him even before this mess started. As I was getting all twisted up in a sympathetic knot, the cap raised and Taine saw us, smiling brightly. He began to walk faster, joining us at Linda's car. "Hey, Taine," she said. Taine blushed, painfully shy around girls, even Linda, and said "Hey" in a barely audible voice. Linda grinned and gave me a twinkling glance, as if to say, "he's so adorable!" I agreed. We all jumped into Linda's car, happy to have the school day behind us. As I began to get in the front seat, Linda placed an arm across it and gave me a look, gesturing to the back seat with her head and eyes. I smiled at her and climbed in the back beside my Babes, showering him with kisses and hugs as Linda drove down the road toward our homes, a satisfied smile playing on her lips. "You're my boys now," she said. We both looked up at her smiling eyes in the rear-view mirror. What a strange thing to say, I thought. "Are you adopting us?" Taine asked facetiously. "As a matter of fact," Linda replied, "I just might." We all laughed, not noticing the dilapidated black Charger following us slowly down Walden Road.
  14. SHDWriter

    Chapter 2

    It's weird, ya know. On one hand, you're right. On the other hand, this is the first story I ever wrote where I thought "Gee, what happened to Rory and Tony..." so, ya know, there may be more one day. I'll keep them in mind.
  15. SHDWriter

    Chapter 2

    You, sir, already amazed me by pulling out my inspirations. Then you startled and engaged me by suggesting some others, many of which were already there unconsciously. It is very nice receiving positive comments here, but you... you get me. ❤️
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