Falling Off a Log

By Driver

Chapter 23

I punched Scott on the arm. "You bastard! You little prick! YOU KNEW! How could you ask me over on breakfast weekend? You're really turning into a slime ball!"

"Wanna blow me?" This was a term we'd learned the true meaning of about five minutes ago.

"FUCK YOU, Scott!"

"Wanna fuck me then?" We'd also just learned how that worked between men. Jeez - I was going to have to learn all new swear words!

"NO I WOULD NOT! Don't you remember what your butt-hole does for a living? You're a disgusting little pervert!"

"I love it when you talk dirty to me."

That did it! I jumped on him and started tickling until he couldn't breathe anymore. He was helpless. I finally rolled off and discovered I had a boner. I undid my pants, pulled it out, and began stroking.

"Ooooh! Did widdle Scotty give big bad Joey the bone?"

I wilted. Pulled my pants back up. "Scott. It was the ice cream. And you're turning into the biggest prick ... scratch that ... the biggest asshole ... scratch that, too. Shit! You can be a real jerk! Let's go eat."

We climbed out of the loft and started walking towards the house. I took Scott's hand in mine. I could act mad at him, but I'd never actually been mad. Him either. We could tease each other until we were blue, but the worst that had ever happened was one of us would get exasperated like I just had.

When we got inside the clan was gathering. It was worse than I thought. His brother Mack had two friends staying over and the twins each had a friend. That made fourteen people. If nobody else showed up. My mental calculations told me that meant about three dozen eggs, four pounds of bacon, and about three loaves of toast. Plus juice. Milk. Coffee. Tea. Butter and jelly. Whatever. Scott was sitting across from me, and I could see him counting, too. When he stopped, he looked at me. I scrunched down and stretched my leg out onto his chair. Then I pushed my foot right into his balls. Little prick!

We went to bed early as we had to get up around four. When the alarm went off I went very groggily into the bathroom and took care of business. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, but it was too early for a shower. Scott was way better at this. He had to get up early every day to do farm stuff.

We went into the kitchen and started to get things ready. I went to throw some bread wrappers in the trash bag under the sink, but it was full so I pulled it out and took it outside to throw in the trash can. It was still pitch black out, so I turned the porch light on. There was a heap of orange cloth on the porch that I hadn't noticed yesterday. When I was coming back from the garbage can, it moved. I must have screamed because it suddenly jumped. Then it started to stand and take human form. It was Nick! He was wearing an orange parka that had to be eight sizes to big for him.

"Nick! What?"

"I musta fell asleep."

"What're you doin' here? How long ya been here? Come inside."

Scott's Mom was just inside the door. "What happened? Who screamed?"

"That would be me," I said.

"What happened? Are you hurt?"

"No - I just got surprised is all." She looked past me and saw Nick.

"Who? Oh, Nick. Come inside baby. Are you alright? What happened?"

"Sorry. I ran away last night. I didn't know where to go. I knew Joey was here, else I'da gone to his house. I slept on your porch." He looked terrible. He started to cry.

By now, most of Scott's family was standing there looking at the intruder.

Scott's Mom scooped Nick up and led him upstairs. She looked down at everybody and told us to go back to what we were doing. She'd handle things.

I went back into the kitchen with Scott. Dave stayed to help us. Everyone else disappeared. Nobody said anything, but I could tell Scott and Dave were as scared for Nick as I was. I had an empty feeling in my stomach that I knew food wouldn't fill. I had a friend in trouble - big trouble, apparently - and no experience to guide me. The only kind of trouble Scott and I ever got into was being late or breaking something. Nick's problems were beyond anything I'd ever had to deal with. I was just about to call and wake up my Dad when Scott's Mom came into the kitchen. She said she'd take over for me and for me to go up and talk to Nick. He was in Scott's bedroom. As I was walking up the stairs, I really wanted to call my father. To ask what I should do. To ask him to come and do it for me.

I went into the bedroom and Nick was sitting on the bed, leaning against the wall. He didn't look any better. I don't know how to describe sadness, but his whole being was the picture of it. If you couldn't see his face, you would have still known he was a wreck. His whole body said it. He looked ... wilted, like spoiled lettuce or something. And his face. No color, no expression, and his eyes had this scared look in them. Horrified was more like it.

I sat next to him in the same position he was in. I took hold of his hand. I couldn't think of a thing to say, so I just sat there with him. I patted the back of the hand I was holding with my other hand. I leaned into him a little. We sat. Waited. I knew I should say something, but I couldn't think of a thing. After what must have been a very long time, I turned and kissed his cheek.

"Thanks, Joey." Almost a whisper.

"Okay, now?"





"No. Joey ... you're the best person I ever met. I really love you."

Uh-oh. Didn't Dad just warn me about this? Nick must have seen my expression, because he punched me a little on the arm.

"Not like that, Joey. Not like that. You just remind me ... of my Dad." Then he really broke down crying. Great heaving sobs, until I was crying, too.

He cried for a long time. I waited until he finally quieted down. I said "I'll be right back."

Hell, we were both teenagers. I ran down to the kitchen and filled two plates with bacon, eggs and toast. I got a couple of glasses of OJ and some silverware. Scott's Mom gave me a tray. Nobody asked or said anything. I hurried back upstairs. Nick hadn't moved much.

"You gotta eat!"

"I'm not hungry."

"Bullshit. Get over here." I put the tray down on Scott's desk. "I gotta eat, anyhow. You can watch." I started crunching on a piece of bacon. "It's real good! They smoke their own."

He came over and picked up a fork. He took a little bite of egg. He chewed it! Egg! Who chews eggs? Then his meal disappeared so fast I thought Kreskin must have been in the room. He started eating off MY plate. I threatened him with my fork. He laughed. Somewhere in my head I was thinking 'thanks, Dad'.

I told him we could go downstairs for more. He wanted to wash up. I showed him the bathroom. He wanted me to stay with him, so I did. He washed his face forever, then used my toothbrush. When he was done he turned and hugged me so tight I thought my eyes would pop. He looked a lot better. Happy, kinda. Like a little kid looks happy after his bruise has been kissed.


"I guess."

"Still hungry?"

"What you mean STILL, White Man?"

We laughed. And went downstairs to the kitchen. The crowd had thinned. Scott, his brother Dave, and his Mom were the only ones there.

"Any food left?"

"Nope. If you want more you'll have to shoot it yourself," said Scott's Mom. Then she laughed and started filling up two more plates.

Scott started to laugh as Nick scarfed down another plate. He laughed harder when I had to warn him away from mine again with my fork. "You're gonna bust your gut, man! Did Joey mention what we charge for this stuff?"

Then Nick started to laugh, but something went down the wrong way and he started to choke. Scott's Mom came over and bopped him on his back until he stopped. Then he started laughing again. We all did. Like it was totally hilarious that he'd have to pay for his meal.

I was still laughing, but as I looked around at everyone, I felt very proud of myself. I was thinking that for once, I'd done the right thing. I'd helped a friend who was in trouble. Somebody I really didn't know that well yet.

Of the millions of things I could have said or done, I'd chosen something that worked. Chosen's the wrong word - I hadn't considered options. I'd just gone with my gut feelings. Now, as I watched Nick, Scott and Davey joking around I felt such a feeling of warmth and pride I thought I'd burst. Scott's Mom came up behind and put her arms around me. "Nice job, Joey," she whispered. "Nice job."

Nick saw us and came over. He tried to hug both of us. He looked me in the eye.



"You got jam on your nose."

... continued

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