I got out of the hospital as soon as my parents got there. All I really had was a nosebleed that had dried up hours ago. The staff was really busy, so after I got my face washed and looked at, all I had to do was assure them that I didn't have any pains anywhere, and they let me go without ever being signed in. They told my father if anything seemed wrong later to bring me back or call our own doctor.
I was getting all hugs from my parents, but I guess I wasn't responding very much.
"Mike, baby. Are you sure you're alright," my Mom asked.
They both stopped dead in their tracks with the shock. My Dad grabbed me in a bear hug."Oh, Mike! Oh, my God, Mike! Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. Have you seen his parents?"
"No. My God! Do they even know yet? Oh, Michael, I'm so sorry. I know how you felt, and I can't believe he's gone. You loved him so much! We loved him, too, Mike. I hope you believe that."
"I know, Dad. What am I gonna do? I missed him so much when he was just in another class or something. Now he's gone. I can't stand it! I'm so afraid."
It's strange. My parents were holding me and crying, trying to say soothing things. I wasn't crying at all. I felt panic more than anything. I looked around and other families were in similar situations. Parents hugging their kids, those who had not been hurt too badly and weren't being worked on. Other people were frantically trying to find information on their own kids. The place was a madhouse. Some people paced around, some sat sobbing on benches, some were belligerent and demanding information from the staff. I wondered how Jens and Pat had made out. They were the two worst hurt.
Suddenly, Jack's parents came out of a side room. They were with a nurse and a state patrolman, and had obviously just learned about Jack. Their grief wrenched the whole place into a sudden silence as they were led past us. Mom and Dad followed them, still hugging me close. We followed them right into a private room that was set up like a little cozy living room, with regular furniture and lamps and curtains on the window. The Murphys turned around and saw my parents and me. My Dad hugged Jack's Mom, Jeanine and my mother hugged his Dad, Gerry. They were all crying, my parents softly and Jack's in great body-wracking sobs. My Mom and Mr. Murphy pulled me into their hug. The patrolman and the nurse just stood there, waiting.
Mom and Dad started saying soothing things, and the crying finally quieted down a little. The nurse explained that state law required an autopsy for accidental deaths and that they would prefer a signature. She had a clipboard, and Gerry took it and her pen. She pointed to a place and he scribbled his name, then started crying hard again. The nurse explained to Jeanine that the hospital would release the body to a funeral home, and they could give permission at whichever one they chose.
The cop offered them a ride home, but my Dad said we lived next door and would make sure they got there ok. The nurse pointed out a water pitcher and cups and asked if anybody needed anything else, then she left with the patrolman. We were alone, but I remember thinking how much a job like the nurse and the patrolman had must suck. They were going to have to do this a lot tonight. Could they possibly be used to it? I sat in an armchair and wished everything would go away. Gerry came over and kneeled in front of me, just staring with his bloodshot eyes. I looked back at him. He pulled me forward so my head was on his shoulder and started crying again.
"Oh, Mike ... you poor kid. Just when you thought you had everything figured out. I feel so bad for you. It's so hard ... to believe this, to understand it. Promise you'll never forget Jack? He loved you like he loved life itself."
"I won't forget, I promise. He's part of me and I'm part of him. Don't worry, he'll never go all the way away."
When everyone had calmed down a little, my Dad got Mr. Murphy's keys and drove his car home, and the Murphy's came with Mom and me. It was pretty quiet all the way. Mom kissed me and went into the Murphy's house with them. Dad went home with me. He asked if I needed anything, and I said I just wanted to be alone. He said he was going to talk to my sisters and then go join my Mom. I took a shower and went to my room and laid on my bed to think things through. I was staring at a picture of me and Jack on my dresser. I tried to put our short life together in sequence so I'd always remember how it had been.
Looking at the picture was hard at first. It was just us two clowning around with big grins on our faces. I kept thinking of the mess that Jack had become on the bus. I had to convince me that the picture was the real Jack and that thing on the bus had just been what was left over. Gradually, the beauty in the picture started to win out over the horror on the bus. Technically, it's not a great photo. The colors are a little washed out and it's not well centered, but it did capture the essence of the Jack that I knew. His reddish-brown hair, his wide-set hazel eyes showing both intelligence and humor, his smallish teeth, his very red tongue. This was the boy that I loved. That I would always love.
I began to mentally chronicle everything that we'd ever done, everything that had happened to us since he moved in next door. I've already written about the first few years, how we never got to know each other until I tried to commit death by mailbox in front of his house, and how we got to be friends after he patched me up. I'll pick back up the day after my Dad came to get me at the Surdiak's house, after he threw me out for being gay.
Jack knew I was back home because my Mom had called his house, but it was too late for him to come over. He was there the next day at dawn like we were going fishing or something, but it was a school day. He made sure I was ok, then told me about his desperate search for me for the last two days, how he'd loaded up his bike with everything he could think of and gone looking for me in all our usual spots, then places we'd only gone once or twice. He said he'd cried and cried because he thought I'd hurt myself, or worse. He'd ridden miles and miles with about fifty pounds of food, blankets, a tent, a first-aid kit, lights, whistles - the whole nine yards. He never thought to check people's houses, because my Mom told him she'd called everybody ten times.
He was crying. "I thought you were gone, Mike. I just didn't know where else to look. Why didn't you let me know? I wouldn't have said anything."
I hugged him and started crying, too. "I was such a mess. I was just feeling sorry for myself. I thought everybody here hated me, and I just wanted to die. I'm sorry ... I was hurtin' so much I never thought about anybody else. I'm so sorry, Jack." We were both holding onto each other and crying. My Mom found us like that, and told me I could skip school if I wanted, but Jack would have to get his own permission. We went to his house and his parents said it was okay.
We went into his room and I had to tell him everything that had gone on, and how I felt that it was really a one-time thing with my Dad and I thought we were going to be fine.
"So what did you do to set him off? Just go in and make an announcement or something?"
I told him everything that had gone on that night, which all happened in about half a minute.
"Jeez, Mike. You ever hear the word subtle? You got the tact of a freight train."
"I'm an idiot."
"I didn't say that. Just some things need a little buildup is all. Like a little hint, maybe?"
"I know. I heard it from Mr. Stark, from Dad, from Mom ... even my little sister."
"Mike, I gotta tell you something. Tell me if I got subtle down right. You know how you said you loved me ... that you were in love with me?"
Jack just looked at me for a moment. I couldn't guess what he was about to say. I repeated, "Yeah, I remember."
"I feel kinda bad, but it scared me at first. Then, when you disappeared I knew I felt the same. More, even. Michael Waters, I LOVE YOU!" He hugged me to him and we both started laughing and crying at the same time. I'd felt so awkward when I'd told him, so afraid he didn't feel the same way. Now he did, and I was feeling a whole lot of emotions that rushed to the top together. Relief, happiness ... make that joy, and love. Real love. I could feel it bursting from my toes to the ends of my hair.
Jack looked at me, with happy tears on his face. "Want to kiss me?"
"Yeah." He made his mouth into a little 'O' and leaned towards me. I did the same thing. Our mouths met in this little sucking circle and when we broke off we made a sound like a big smooch your grandmother would give. We both giggled. It hadn't been very sensual, but it had felt good. We tried again, this time looking less like a pair of doughnuts. Jack tilted his head and we started to kiss for real, or at least as real as we could figure out.
We laid across the bed, adjusting positions until we were both comfortable. My right arm and his left arm were a bit pinned down, but we began stroking each other with our other hands. I ran my hand through his hair, then down his neck and across his shoulders. He felt so good to me. So warm and solid. And he was pretty much feeling me in the same way. My hand went all over his back, then back up on his shoulders, then into his hair. I had a terrific hardon, and remember wondering if he did too. I let my hand wander down past his belt and started feeling his ass. It felt so wonderful ... so soft and firm at the same time, so round. His hand got to my butt after a bit, and I started to get hot. I was beginning to tremble, and my breath was getting harder and harder to catch. I finally broke the kiss and fell on my back.
"HOLYSHIT!" I was panting. He put his hand on the inside of my thigh and started stroking me gently, almost going to my crotch, then moving back. I was going crazy. "DOITJACK!" He immediately started stroking my privates. At the first touch I think I jumped halfway to the ceiling and squealed something. When I stopped bouncing, he was still feeling me, and any idea I may have had about thinking this through left my head. I reached for his crotch without really considering the distance. My hand landed a little hard and his eyes bulged.
"Ow! Jesus!" Then he grinned and kissed me again. His hand got my zipper down. I did the same. I put my hand on his dick through his underwear just when he did it to me. We both jumped. I couldn't get his button undone, and he couldn't get mine, so we both broke off to do our own. His voice had gotten a little husky. "Keep going."
We both sat up and started pulling our pants off. I still had my sneakers tied on, and I yanked everything off together Jack did, too. I could see his boner in his underpants now, and didn't wait to grab it. He took hold of mine, too, and for a couple of minutes we jerked each other off with our briefs on. He reached under the elastic of mine and I jumped yet again when I felt the skin of his hand on me. I didn't do the same thing this time, I just reached down and pulled my underwear down to my knees. Jack started stroking all over, then took me in his hand. We started kissing again, and I began just gently cupping his equipment through his underwear.
He broke the kiss and grinned at me. He was still stroking jerking me, but much more slowly and gently. "I love you, Mike. I really do. This is for you. From me."
He got up and pushed me down flat, then got alongside me and started to kiss the end of my dick, just barely stroking my balls as he did. He started to lick it - just the tip. I could not believe the sensations that were flowing through me. I couldn't begin to describe them if I tried. It wasn't just my dick that felt what he was doing, it was my whole being that was experiencing this. There was no sudden music, there was no lightning, there were no stars suddenly exploding. There was just this intensity that kept building through all of me.
When I thought it couldn't possibly be any stronger it doubled, then doubled again. Then he suddenly took all of me into his warm, wet mouth. He started moving up and down on it, licking up and down with his tongue as he went. I was engulfed by him. He brought his finger down between my legs and applied a little pressure there, then relaxed it. On the second poke, I exploded without warning. My whole body just started quivering and I came right in his mouth. I was twelve-and-a-half, so I'm sure it wasn't much, but I knew I'd never shot anything like that before.
I was sweating and had goose bumps all over. I was stiff as a board. I'd been grasping the bedcovers so tightly that my hands hurt.. Every muscle in my body was tensed up to the max. Jack let me out of his mouth and laid down beside me, looking at my face until my eyes opened.
"How was I?" he asked, smiling gently.
I had to swallow air for about a minute. I pulled him into a hug with our heads on each other's shoulder.
"Oh, Jack!" My hand went right for his crotch, and he was still rock hard. I was gasping for air, and my heart was pounding. "Jack, I ... Jack. I can't breathe!"
"Pretty good, then?"
"Good. Very good. Better than good. Fantastic! Amazing! That was ... wonderful!" I thought about asking him if he was mad that I came in his mouth, but the soft smile on his lips and the love in his eyes told me he wasn't. Not at all. I had to try this!
"I want to. Just tell me how."
"Just keep your teeth to yourself. You really don't have to do it."
"Yes I do! I want to!" I got up on my knees and started tugging on his underpants. He lifted his butt, and I pulled them down. He made a little yelp when the elastic yanked on the end of his dick, but in about a second I was confronting his rod. I realized that I'd never seen another hardon besides my own. We were about the same size, but he had a little bush of hairs that were almost black whereas I had a tiny patch of blondies, just like on my head. I ran my fingers around the hair just to feel it, then took his pole in my hand and stroked a few times.
I looked at Jack's face when he made a little gulping sound, then turned my attention back to the business at hand. I leaned closer and closer. Looking at him. It seemed so perfect and was hot it felt in my hand. His breathing had gotten quick and shallow. I moved my head closer, closer. I could smell him. Nothing strong, just kind of sweet. I wet my tongue, touched it to the very tip. dick. He bounced up and almost stuck it in my nostril. I gripped his shaft tightly, my hand leaving only about an inch exposed. I worked up a good mouthful of spit, then opened my mouth and lowered it down on him.
I closed my lips around Jack, trying to remember to hide my teeth. Jack was beginning to make a noise, though I don't know how to describe it. It wasn't a moan or a groan, almost like a snore, though that's a terrible way to put it. More like a purr, though that's not it either.
I was trying to, er, savor what I was doing at the same time I was trying to remember what he'd done for me. I tried to repeat his performance, but I kept gagging if I went too far. I almost stopped to asked him how to do that His purr had changed to loud rapid breathing. He suddenly gasped his way into a powerful orgasm, and I was filled with new sensations.
When Jack started to relax, I moved back up beside him and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. We laid there just looking at each other for a while. I smiled, then he smiled. He started to giggle and I did too. Our giggles turned into laughter, and in a moment we were into genuine hysterics. We were twelve years old and what we'd just done suddenly seemed like the silliest, funniest thing we'd ever thought of. When we finally calmed down I put on what I imagined to be a stern look and said, "I'm glad you found that amusing," then I burst out laughing again. I started to choke a little and sat up. We were still dressed from the waist up and had underpants halfway down our legs. This sight also struck my funnybone, and I went into hysterics again. Jack couldn't have known what set me off that time, but he joined right in.
We finally both calmed down and started getting dressed. When I stood up, Jack said I reminded him of a doctor's office joke where the doctor tells a patient to strip to the waist and the patient asks 'Up to, or down to?' I must have been giddy because this sent me off again, and it took me about ten minutes to extricate my sneakers from my pants.
Jack finally got a little serious. He looked right at me. "Mike ... thanks. That was great. That's the way things should be. When I did stuff before, it was always just me. It was exciting, I guess, but it was never fun. I really do love you, but love should be fun, shouldn't it? Nice blow job, by the way."
"Nice? That's all it was is nice? Did you ever have a better one?"
"I'm sorry. I never even had another one. How's amazing sound? No .. fantastic! I can't believe you're bein' so loose with this!"
"Fantastic sounds better. Loose?"
"Yeah. I thought you'd be all worked up or something, and you're grinnin' like an idiot."
"That's because I liked it. And I was worked up when we were doing it, then I was just happy. Happy makes me laugh."
We spent the rest of the day knocking around in the woods, stopping every now and then for a quick kiss. We actually spent the next ten months just hanging around when we weren't in school. We really enjoyed each other's company and didn't spend a lot of time with other people. We had sex like that once in a while, but we weren't obsessed by it. It happened when it happened and nothing special led up to it. We were happy just being together riding bikes and fishing, just sometimes the mood got into both of us and we did it. Jack asked a few times if I wanted to stick it in his ass, but I always declined. He did tell me about it and how you needed condoms and all that, which he hadn't used before, and how lucky he was that he didn't get sick.
For his thirteenth birthday I got him a medical encyclopedia. I thought it was a really boring gift, but he loved it. After cake and ice cream with his parents I gave him another little gift in his room. It was three condoms that I got from the vending machine in the men's room at the Mobil station, plus a little jar of vaseline.
"What are these for?"
"So we'll be ready when ... ah ... when I'm ready." I'm sure I was blushing.
"When'll that be?"
"I don't know. Someday I'm gonna want to try it, and I don't want you to miss it when I'm ready."
That moment never came. I kept telling Jack I was thinking about it, and I was. I'm not sure exactly what I was afraid of, but I never got up the nerve to try it, and Jack never pressed the matter. He was forever hopeful, though.
Things were really fine between us until we started high school, which we had been really looking forward to. We hadn't been there two hours when a guy in the hall stopped and looked at Jack.
"Hey, Hoover! That you?"
"Huh?" Jack peered at the guy.
The guy leered at Jack, "Yeah, it's you. What's the matter - don't you remember me?"
"I don't know you."
"Sure you do. You sucked my pud enough times. You always liked mine best!"
Jack was red as a beet. This had to be someone from Westfield, where he used to live. I just looked at the guy and said, "Leave him alone. You don't know him!" I grabbed Jack and we walked away.
We didn't say anything to each other. Jack was embarrassed and I was embarrassed for him.
Then at lunch, Don Holland came over to our table and sat down.
"Hey, Mike. Jack."
"You guys ought'a know this. There's a new kid, Greg Simpson, and he's tellin' everybody that Jack's a queer. You guys just give me the word and Jed and me'll make him wish he was never born."
I looked at Jack. He had his elbows on the table and was holding his head by his hair between his hands. He finally turned towards me and lifted his eyebrows in a question. I knew Don and Jed would probably take care of this guy if we asked them to. I didn't want anybody to get hurt because of a lie, and I knew Jack never wanted to hurt anybody. I finally made up my mind, and I was sure Jack was with me.
"Don. Don't hurt him. Me and Jack are gay, and we're together." I just looked at him. There was no change in his expression, and he looked back at me, then Jack, then me again.
"Fine." He just stood up and walked away.
We sat in silence for a while, then Jack muttered, "This could get ugly."
It got ugly pretty fast. It was mostly wisecracks, but we got them from everywhere. We got pushed around a bit, but nothing that would hurt anything but our feelings. When we went home that night, we talked about what we should do. We decided that since everyone knew anyhow, at least we didn't have anything to hide. The thing that hurt was that everyone was in on it. People who had always been my friends. I don't think half of them really meant what they were saying, but they wanted to fit in with what everybody else was doing. We figured we had each other, and that's what mattered. Let people get used to it and they'd eventually shut up.
They didn't. It went on and on. We just tuned them out the best we could. We even compared notes once in a while. Sometimes even a good insult can be funny, and we managed a few laughs over some of them. We didn't like what was happening, but we were basically ok. Like I said, we still had each other, and nobody was doing anything physical to us.
That changed one day when Don and Jed got Jack alone in a bathroom. Don punched him out pretty badly. He didn't hit his face, but he kept punching him in the stomach. Jed finally got him to stop before he really hurt killed him, but he was just afraid of the consequences. Jack told me afterwards that Don said over and over that it was because he turned me into a fag, too. We never told anyone, but the next day I saw Don and told him that nobody can turn anyone else gay, and to just leave us alone.
That was the only incident of brutality, but the verbal abuse continued right up to the day of the crash. The day Jack died.
As I sat there looking at Jack's picture, I wondered if we should have done things differently. If we'd said something else to Don that first day all the torment would never have happened. Like they say, hindsight's 20/20. If we'd just thought to mention that Jack moved to Morton when he was only ten, it probably would have defused the whole thing right there, would have made Greg Simpson look like a child abuser. If we'd maybe fought back a little, at least some people would have shut up. If we'd even told a teacher or somebody, they might have stepped in. But we'd done it on our own, in our own way. We never brought it home with us, and really never worried over it many times. Nothing affected our grades, and when the school day was over we still had our time with each other. And we still had fun. We put about a million miles on our bikes, we fished, we laughed and we loved each other.
Then I thought about what had happened on the bus that afternoon. I had to tell someone. I know ... Andy! He'll believe me.
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