Jack in the Box

Chapter 57


Michael Waters - Arlington Road : December, 2000

Melanie's house was a surprise. It was on a corner lot close to the road and presented a great face to the neighborhood. The house was built in the 1770's and had been restored and modernized a few times. The place was impressive: the outside decorated for Christmas, lights all around, wreaths in the front windows and big garlands around the doors. It was a pretty place, probably more so than usual with the fresh snow.

She lived there with her parents and three younger sisters, all of whom were very pretty, though they didn't look much alike. That the whole family loved Davy was clear from the moment we got there, especially Melanie's dad. Then again, he seemed to love me and Tony too, so maybe he just craved some male company.

Mr. Chandler called himself a 'road warrior', who sold computer systems to corporate Connecticut, and looking at their house told me he did his job well. The room we were in was large, and the ceiling was low, which made it seem larger and cozier at the same time. There was a Christmas tree in one corner, and it was elaborately decorated to occupy Annie's and Paulina's excited attention for a while.

I like old houses. They always feel cozy, and this one was no exception. There was a big fireplace with a fire going, comfortable colonial style furniture, and beautiful old wood floors made with varying width planks. It was a neat place where I felt at home right away, and I could tell that Tony did, too.

The thought struck me that the family fit the house, or maybe the house fit them, but the whole evening was almost like a movie. Melanie's family was obviously close, and they all went about entertaining us in an effortless manner before dinner, then fed us an absolutely wonderful pork roast with the best and darkest gravy I ever had. I'm not overstating, even though I was already in a state of bliss when we arrived.

Annie and I had taken a 'nap' when Davy took Bob and Bally home, and my impressions from the other night were only strengthened. I was using my spare thoughts to devise a pill-taking time for Annie that wouldn't be intrusive.

The drive back to Davy's was filled with chatter about how nice Melanie and her family were. At Davy's house we all headed off to our rooms. Annie decided to hold off on her pill until later.

Heh. Fun stuff.

When Annie did finally take her pill, she was out like a light within a half hour, and I wasn't tired enough to fall asleep. I stayed there for awhile, thinking about things, then got back up and paced for a minute before deciding to go downstairs to watch tv for awhile. Alone in a dark room, in a dark house, I put on Annie's robe and headed out.

I went to the kitchen first for something to drink, thinking nothing about the light being on in there. It was often left on at our house.

My bare feet made just enough noise that Tony, who was sitting at the table drawing, looked up the moment I walked in, and we were both startled, me by his presence, him because this was the second time he'd seen me in a girl's pink bathrobe. He was wearing sweats and an undershirt.

I asked, "What're you doin' up?"

Tony's funny sometimes. I could see him physically and mentally make the decision to not say anything about the bathrobe, and he looked back at his paper. "Just sketchin'," he mumbled, and looked back at me, still trying not to smile too evilly, "What about you?"

"Me?" then I laughed, "I just thought how much I like this robe, thought I'd show it off." I struck a pose, "You think it looks good?"

Tony reddened, then laughed, "You're nuts, you know that?"

I sat down opposite him and asked, "Whatcha drawin'?"

He shrugged, "I don't know, Melanie's family, I guess." He showed me what he was working on, adding, "It started out just her." He raised his eyes, "They were nice, don't ya think?"

I sat back, remembering. "Yeah, real nice people." I looked at Tony, watching him get back to drawing, and I was suddenly filled with emotion, feeling like an intruder. "Want me to leave?" I asked. "I didn't think you'd be here."

He looked up again, "You kin stay." He smiled, "I like company. Just let me finish, then we kin talk."

I didn't respond, just watched those hands put a whole family on a piece of plain old white paper, in a pose they'd never made. If Tony's art was amazing, his memory was incredible. When he was done drawing six people, he had them all in the right clothing, wearing expressions that were just what we'd seen.

Tony's art was kindly, not flattering, and always had an element of humor. He drew them sitting at the table, the two youngest girls in a brief argument that I barely remembered happening, and he caught the whole intensity of a family together. I grinned when I saw it, "You got it again, Tony!" I smiled at him, "You always get it!"

Tony smiled sheepishly and didn't say anything, then, "I want it, Mike. That's how I want to live. Exactly like that."

"?"

His smile went away, "I mean it. That's a family, not one kid comin' twenty years after the last one. A house, nice things ... I loved it, Mike."

I looked at Tony, trying to figure out what he was saying. Who wouldn't love it? It occurred to me that he was thinking of what little his parents had, how much he already had, and I felt bad. I said quietly, "I loved it too, Tony. Don't go feelin' bad, 'cause everybody's different." I tried to cheer him up, "My Dad says you're supposed to want better for your kids than you got yourself." I reached over and touched his hand, "You do for you, Tony. Your folks have a nice enough life. Don't go feelin' guilty that you can have what they didn't, 'cause that's just what they want for you."

Tony put his elbows on the table, chin in hands, and looked at me, a sad smile forming. He finally whispered, "I know, I know," then his hands sunk, and he leaned his face down on them, "I don't know, sometimes." His eyes lifted to mine again, "I just don't know, Mike. It don't seem fair!"

I said, "It seems fair enough to me. Doin' well ain't a bad thing, Tony."

"Yeah, but Daddy ..."

I interrupted, stretching to find words, "Don't compare, Tony. Just don't, okay, 'cause that's not fair. Your folks want you to do better than them. That's a law of nature, I think." I suddenly grinned, "Ain't nothin' in that law that says you can't do way better!"

Tony gaped at me, then it turned to a grin. "Yeah, way better!" He laughed, "I like that!" then he turned serious again." I hope I remember to treat my kids' friends like that. I really felt welcome there."

I smiled, "I did, too, Tony. No more welcome than I feel at your house, though, and nobody cooks better than your ma."

Tony seemed surprised, "D'you mean that?"

"Yeah, I mean it. I like your place, and you all treat me nice."

He smiled a little when he thought that over, then whispered, "Thanks, Mike. I guess I never thought about it much. It's just ... I don't know, nuthin' special. You don't think it's weird there?"

"What, your house? It ain't weird, Tony, it's prob'ly the cleanest place in town, and it always smells great. I always feel ... I don't know, comfy there, I guess. I feel like safe."

His eyebrows went up, "Safe?"

I said, "Yeah, like it's a place bad things don't happen." I shrugged, "I don't know what I'm talkin' about. I like your folks, I like your place, and I especially like you."

He studied me, "You really like my ma 'n pa, too?" He coughed, "Nobody ever said that to me."

Tony looked like he could cry, so I said, sounding as happy as I could. "Your folks are fine people, Tony. Truly fine. Your dad's a big strong guy, hard workin', honest as the day is long. Your ma's ... sweet, I guess ... just a real nice lady." I smiled at my own lack of words, then Tony smiled back hesitantly.

"Thanks, Mike." He frowned, "I guess I always been kinda ... embarrassed by 'em."

I sensed what he was trying to say, and tried to make light of it. "Not your everyday, all-American family?"

Tony gulped, then chuckled, whispering, "Not hardly."

His eyes searched mine for the real truth, and I'd already spoken it, so I leaned forward, "I mean it, Tony. You have your art, and it's only smart to get what you can from it, because it's worth somethin'. I don't know where art comes from, but it must be ... within!" Eureka! I had the word. "If it comes from within, then your folks gave you your within, so they can't feel bad if you go all the way with it." I grinned, feeling like a salesman, and hoped that Tony would buy it as an explanation.

He did, I think. He looked at me thoughtfully and muttered, "Yeah … yeah!"

Tony smiled kind of mysteriously, and I leaned over and bopped his shoulder. Tony looked at me innocently and said, "Stay there. I wanna draw you in that robe."

Mortified, I cried, "Don't you dare! You already got a whole state thinkin' I like girl's clothes!"

Tony was back. He grinned, "You mean you don't?"

I let him get away with it, fingering the robe a little, "I kind of like this thing." I smiled, looking down at it, "Pink's nice, don't ya think?"

Tony gave me a sly look, "I like it enough. Maybe I kin get one for myself. Then we can match."

I looked for something to throw at him, but everything was too hard. I ended up laughing, then Tony and I just looked at each other for the longest time. It was neat. We had each other pretty well figured out, and we were friends of the first order. We could just look and settle on our own thoughts, and that's what we did.

I had no idea what Tony was thinking, but I was thinking about how much I'd come to admire him ... his honesty and ingenuity, what a fine friend he was.

We just sat there, friends thinking our own thoughts, and it was enough to occupy us. I was tired by then, and finally said, "I'm goin' to bed. See ya in the mornin'."

I stood and Tony smiled, "Yeah, see ya then."

I turned around, "You're not goin'?"

He said, "Nah, not yet."

I said, "Well, I am." I pointed at him, " If you ever draw me in this robe, I'm gonna hafta hurt you, ya know."

Tony smirked, "I understand," then picked up his pencil.

I almost sat back down, but got a glass of water instead. We said good night again, and I headed back upstairs to Annie. She stirred when I got back under the covers, then twiched at my cold touch, but she didn't really wake up all the way.

I still didn't fall asleep, and after awhile there was enough light that I could see Annie's face, at least a little. I couldn't look for long without wanting to kiss her, so I did, and she responded in her sleep. I couldn't believe it, and it was the most wonderful feeling I could imagine. I hoped I was giving her nice dreams as I finally drifted off myself, my lips brushing hers.

I dreamed that night myself, about me being Melanie's dad, welcoming her friends to our home and entertaining strangers as if they were old friends. Like most dreams, it was convoluted, and my bike turned up missing in there, causing a big frantic search that involved a train and a taxi cab. Mostly, though, I was a fifteen year old father, married to Melanie's mom, with four daughters close to my age. There was also a parking lot in the back yard with an amusement park, and an underground brook, where some lady hit her head on a rock. I think most dreams are just brain drains, but that one may have wed something to that good gravy.

Annie woke me in the morning and went into the bathroom. I was a little groggy from a restless night and not much sleep, but not groggy enough to not watch when she got out of bed. Oh Lord, that girl did something to me. See, when they were giving out birthday suits, Annie got this real special one, and it made her look special even when her hair was all disheveled from sleeping, her movements all lazy from just having woke up.

I'd only been disappointed once by that girl, and it was minor. Well, not that minor. She'd dragged me to the mall for Christmas shopping, which might have been okay if it was only the two of us, but no. Paulina and her sister, Maria, were there with us, as were my two sisters, and two other girls. That's right! Me and six girls, all teenage girls.

Annie was all occupied with girl talk, so I pretty much followed behind the bunch of them. Not bad so far. I could wander around aimlessly forever to be with Annie. It was this godawful noise they created that did me in. They'd be going along, just talking, then suddenly this collective giggle would arise from them, and it hurt my ears. It wasn't anything like Annie's happy giggle when I said something funny, no, no.

This was a hysterical giggle that would wake the dead, more of a laughing scream rising from deep within the core of girldom. They couldn't have been more raucous if they were burning at the stake, and after a few hours that possibility seemed less remote to me. It was frightening, that much I can say, and I'd probably be raving mad right now if I hadn't been rescued by the combination of Clay and Hector, who were there buying things.

That's right: They were buying things, not shopping for them. They both had lists, and they'd find a likely store, go in and find what they were looking for, pay for it and leave. Down and dirty, plain and simple.

I begged off from Annie, and she didn't mind. We hadn't said boo to each other since we got there anyhow, and my ears needed a rest.

Clay and Hector were just what I needed, because I also had a list, and questions for Clay. I had the wooden flowers for Annie, and I'd tried to write a poem for her, but that was a bust. I wanted to get her something else, and that's when Clay suggested an emerald, which I thought was way out of my league. Most were, but I found the little stud, I could afford it, and I had fun buying it. Thusly steeled, I bought out the rest of my list, had money left over for the necklace, and had more packages than Annie when we met back up.

I tried to gloat, but she said, "Honestly, all you guys do is buy things. That's not what it's all about!"

Rats.

When Annie emerged from the bathroom, she was prettier than when she went in, and she was brightly wide awake. I wouldn't call myself a morning person, but I liked new days, and I could tell that Annie did, too. I went into the bathroom marveling at the possibilities offered by another morning.

We got to the kitchen later, and Davy was there with a cup of coffee and the paper. He didn't seem too happy, and I wondered about that as I went to the refrigerator for juice. I had to stop in my tracks. Taped to the door was a picture of me in a pink bathrobe, drawn in crayon as a young child might. It was labeled, "Mice Waters" and signed, "Mice is nice all in pink. Love, Anton," all in different color letters.

I groaned, then leaned my head against it and laughed. Mice? I kissed the paper, whispering, "Thanks, Tony," then got the juice.

Davy was still in a funk, and I looked at what he was reading. More kids had been shot. These two seventeen and eighteen, and the paper was speculating that a full-fledged gang war was on, that this was retaliation for the death of Sammy Alvarez.

I was suddenly chilled, and I felt a hundred pounds heavier when I plopped down in a chair. "What's it mean?" I asked Davy.

He pushed his hair back with both hands and said grimly, "Who knows?"

I asked, "Did you know these guys?"

He shook his head no, looked back at the paper, and muttered, "They're still all shot up, whether I know them or not."

I looked at him, worried, not used to seeing Davy depressed like that, or him being so unresponsive. I was trying to think of something to say when Davy slammed the table loudly and said, "This really sucks, Mike! I know you're not used to it, but I have to get this off my chest!" His eyes narrowed, "I know who did this! I'm sure of it, just like I'm sure of my name!" His eyes flared, "What really sucks is that I'm used to it, that somewhere somebody's cheering it, that somewhere else, somebody's ready to avenge."

His eyes turned to me, "I hate it, Mike, I really hate it. Nobody gave Sammy or these other guys the option of talking it out over a pizza, they just shot them up with no care how much damage they'd do" His gaze steadied sadly on me, "Give me a hug, Mike. I really need one."

Filled with worry, I stood and pulled Davy up, and we hugged wordlessly. I glanced at Annie, sensing her silent participation. I felt helpless, because Davy was distressed by something I knew nothing about. Guns and knives. Jesus Christ, it was kids shooting kids and I had no frame of reference to even think about it. Shit like this didn't happen, it just didn't, but it did! It happened right here, right in Davy's back yard, and there wasn't a thing I could do to make it better for him.

All I could do was hold on, and Davy seemed to be holding on for life itself for some time, but he gradually pulled himself back together, eventually just laying his chin on my shoulder and whispering, "Thanks."

He pushed himself away and looked for pans while Annie and I looked at each other, both of us uncomfortable. There had been three murders in Morton in our collective experience, all by the same lady, who had killed her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law one night, then shot herself, and the whole incident was still the topic of much speculation after six years.

Sudden death was a hard topic for me, anyhow. I knew the ways an accident could cut people up, but gunshots were foreign territory to me, and I could not picture being led to my grandmother's grave and shot in the back of the head. Especially with the horror of knowing what was coming.

Oh Lord, this day wasn't off to a good start. The phone rang and Davy picked it up, asking me to watch the food on the stove, then he walked out of the room.

I looked at Annie, and she just looked back at me. It was one of those times when there just wasn't anything to say. We didn't know the players, but we saw the toll it was taking on Davy and felt bad.

I got the bacon and sausages out of the pan when they looked done, then we just waited.

We could hear Davy's voice from the other room, but not his words, and we were surprised when he came back looking better, a little smile on his face. "Breakfast ready?" he asked.

"Um, almost, the meat's done." I didn't know what to say, so I asked, "Scrambled eggs okay?" as I started to stand.

Davy said, "I'll make the rest, sit back down." He pointed at my chair, and I got the message to leave the cooking to him.

When I sat, Davy turned to us. "I'm going skiing." He kind of winced, like we might throw something at him. "I have to, guys. I need some sanity to start with, and this is the best snow in a long time." His face was funny right then, and I could tell he was trying to say the right thing and not disappoint us at the same time. His shoulders sagged, and he looked hopefully at Annie. "It's not heavy exercise, Annie. It's fun, just gravity and slippery doing their things." He grinned, "You'd make a great snow bunny! It's just a little hill."

Annie, unsure of herself, was cute. "Um, can you define little for me?" she asked, smiling. "What is a little hill in Connecticut terms, as opposed to Morton terms? All I see around here are cliffs! They're everywhere I look. Is a little hill a short cliff? If so, I think the Jacuzzi might be a happier choice."

Davy looked at Annie, then me, then back at Annie, then he laughed, and it was good to hear. "Jesus, skiing is a fun thing, that's all. It's not very strenuous, not even in the extreme!"

He was funny. He planted himself in the middle of the kitchen and started mimicking a skier's movements, saying things like, "Whup! Tree! Don't want to hit that!" and, "Okay now, we're at the bottom, best to stop before that building stops me," then he made this sideways movement, grinning, "See?

Annie stared at him, "Just like that?

I piped up, "I don't know, Davy. It ain't right. Annie ain't right. You go, we'll be just fine."

I half expected Annie to protest, but she didn't, instead smiling at Davy, "Mike's right. Another time, maybe, then I'll try it." Her smile stayed, but it became sad, "Right now, I'm already on my mother's ill-will list for not rushing home, and I don't want to push it." She smiled at him, "Do what you have to do to put your own mind right, we'll be just fine."

Paulina walked in and asked, "Who's mind's not right? Something smells good."

Tony was right behind her, and he looked warily at the refrigerator, then appeared to begin inspecting the wallpaper. I thought it was funny, and looked at Paulina, "Mice have lotsa mental problems, you know."

Tony's shoulders started quivering, but everyone else turned blank stares to me. I announced innocently that Davy was going skiing, and that got Paulina's attention, which is all you needed in most situations where you wanted the attention away from you.

Tony turned to me, with what I can only call a mousy grin on his face. His eyebrows went up in a question, and I just smiled at him. He'd got to me again, and I knew, I fucking knew, that forever after that day, at least in certain circles, I'd be Mice Waters, hard 'C'.

Paulina and Tony both wanted to go with Davy and his friends. I had other ideas, and resisted the mild pleading to go with them. We could have sat in the lodge, which sounded nice, but finally decided to just stay at Davy's.

They left right after breakfast, leaving Annie and me to clean up, which we didn't mind doing. We actually cleaned up more than the kitchen, me vacuuming with a nifty built-in one, while Annie shined things up and generally straightened things out. We didn't spend a lot of time at it, didn't work hard at all, and ended up in our bedroom, which was a happy turn of events.

We fell onto the bed and got some nice, healthy exercise, which culminated in an absolutely mind-shattering mutual orgasm. We were both out of breath at that point, gulping in air while our hearts beat like a pair of kettle drums. When she calmed down enough to talk, Annie whispered, "I may have been safer skiing," which made me laugh.

"Safer maybe, but if you feel anythin' at all like I do, you know right in your heart you'd never get that from skiin'"

She grinned, "You feel it in your heart, do you?"

I rubbed noses with her, "Yep, right inside, kind of all over." I took her hand and started gently touching it to random parts of my body, saying at each stop, "I feel it right here ... here, too." I brushed her lips with mine, "It's like all of me loves all of you. Even my little eyebrow hairs love you."

She giggled, "You're so cute when you're being silly," and nuzzled me.

We cuddled and talked for awhile before Annie dozed off. I stayed for awhile longer, then got up to clean myself off. I didn't really want anymore sleep, so I pulled on my underwear and Annie's robe and went to Davy's room to see if I could remember what he showed me so I could get to my email on his computer.

I didn't remember how, and I felt the fool when I started to shut the machine down. There, right smack dab in the middle of the desktop screen, were four icons, one for each of our emails, and mine was labeled, 'Mike Mail'. Duh!

I had just clicked on the icon when the doorbell rang, so I ran downstairs to answer it. I opened the front door, and nobody was there, and while I was looking out, the bell rang again. I opened the storm door and looked around, then at the little button, but there was definitely nobody there, yet the bell rang a third time.

Worried that maybe sex could get too good and really hose up my brain, I finally decided to check the other door.

Lo! There stood Guy, all ready to ring the bell again. "Hey, man!" I said as he walked in, "What brings you here?"

He smirked, "Annie said I should come to call sometime, so here I am." He bowed, "I have come to call, whatever that means."

He was a little hyped up, and it was good to see him there. He was looking at me kind of funny, and I finally realized it was that pink robe again. Instead of blushing, I stroked the fabric of an embroidered flower and smiled, "You like this, don't ya? Wanna try it on?"

Guy was quick. He looked down at my naked legs and smirked, "Yeah. Take it off."

I said, "You're bad. C'mon in," and led him to the family room, snickering.

When we sat down, I said, "Annie's takin' a nap, we gotta keep it down."

Guy whispered, "I can't keep it down around you, Mike," and leered happily at me.

I giggled, "Easy, boy. Want a coffee or anythin'?"

"Not a coffee, maybe just some water."

"I'll be right back," and I headed for the kitchen, deciding that I didn't want anything myself.

I gave Guy his water and sat on the sofa with him. "I'm glad you came over, we never got to talk the other night. I'm sorry 'bout that, but I couldn't get off the phone."

He asked, "It was important?"

I didn't want to get into it, "Yeah, kind of, I guess. It's a kid whose mother just died, and he's way messed up over it."

Guy moved from the other end of the couch, just close enough to touch my shoulder without stretching. "That's sad. Did you help him?"

Guy's concern seemed real, so I said, "I don't know. Ever know anyone you just plain didn't like?"

Guy nodded.

"Well, that's Phil. I never liked the kid, now I'm thinkin' it's me and not him." I sat back, putting my hands behind my head, and stared out. "I don't know." I became aware of Guy's hand on my shoulder, and it was now stroking almost imperceptibly, and it felt really fine.

I moved into the motion a little, and asked absently, "How's it goin' with Seth?"

Guy sighed, "I like Seth, he's a good guy."

"That's all?"

I could tell that Guy was staring at me, so I turned my head to face him while he said, suddenly smiling a little, "We, uh ... we did something last night." His eyes searched mine, then he asked in a hoarse whisper, "Can I ask you something personal?"

God, Guy's face was a special one, probably the most expressive I'd ever seen. Right then he was confused, and he may as well have had a question mark for a head, it was that clear. I smiled, "Sure. Depends on how personal it is if I'll answer."

Guy nervously shuffled his butt a little closer to me, so that his hand was on the back of my neck, still twitching, which gave me a shiver. Guy leaned in close, "W ... when you were with Jack, did you ... um, did you ever suck his dick?"

I debated answering at all, then finally whispered, "Yeah, lotsa times."

Guy's expression turned immediately from confusion to curiosity, "And ... and you liked it?"

I smiled dreamily, remembering, "Yeah, I liked it. I loved it."

Guy persisted, "Is that because you loved Jack, or because you just loved doing it?"

This felt like a dream. Guy sounded like Dr. Service, and I didn't mind telling him how I felt. "Guy, I loved Jack so much ... I hope someday you find what it's like. I was a chicken about sex compared to him, but I loved him more'n I can say, and that dick was just another part to love. If you're askin' if it's dirty or somethin', you'll hafta ask someone else, because with me and Jack it was too plain beautiful to be dirty."

Guy's head landed on my shoulder, and he started idly fingering the embroidery on my robe with the other hand. "Seth sucked me last night. It was nice. Real nice, and I got off real hard." He wiggled around until he was tight up against me, then said, "I tried to do it back and ... and I couldn't."

I asked seriously, "He's that big?"

Guy hesitated, "No, it's big, but not huge. I just couldn't, Mike ... wouldn't, I don't know. I mean, it was right there, and I couldn't make my mouth open. I felt petrified!"

I was a space cadet right then, entwined with Guy when I shouldn't have been, feeling those bones that felt so like Jacks, getting intoxicated once again by his singular scent, and talking about blowjobs and our relative ability to deliver them. I never, except to Dr. Service, talked about what Jack and I did sexually. Now I wanted to, not for Guy, but just to hear it, because I was all horned up.

I mumbled, "That's all we did was suck, 'cause I was a coward about screwin'. I guess I know what you're sayin'. Jack wanted my dick in his butt, but I never did it. I liked to suck his dick, though, and he sucked mine. I liked it the first time, an' I liked it every time." I reached over and cupped Guy's crotch gently, eliciting a gasp from him that should have given me fair warning where I was headed, but I knew. I wanted to go there ... had to go there one more time.

Guy pushed my hand away, saying something about Annie, but it soon found it's way back to him, and he sighed into it, stroking me wherever he could reach.

Not two hours earlier, I'd had the orgasm of my young life with the girl I loved more than anything on earth, who loved me back just as much, and who I trusted to always love me. Those thoughts were heavy on me, powerful and strong, screaming reason to me, but still my fingers found Guy's zipper and struggled it down. I liked dick, too, and it had been a long time, and as Guy's found it's way into my hand, my face moved close. My head felt ready to explode. Here it is, right in front of me, a dick ... Guy's dick. I gulped looking at it, wondering if Jack's would have been the same size now. Maybe, maybe not, but I was bigger, too. I opened my mouth, wet my lips with my tongue, worked some spit into my mouth and ..."

"What are you doing?"

I jumped up so fast I hit Guy's jaw, which was precariously close, with the top of my head. I looked around hurriedly, and nobody was there, and I was sorely confused. That hadn't been Guy's voice, nor Annie's or Jack's. My own inner voice? It never sounded like that before!"

I leaned forward, away from Guy, and dropped my face in my hands. Why? Why did my life have to be the fucked up one? I needed Guy like a hole in the head right then, but he had his hands on my shoulders, and was asking what was wrong.

"I'm still a fuck up," I said. "That shouldn't have happened."

Guy didn't say anything. I pulled myself together and went into the bathroom where I splashed cold water on my face and looked in the mirror. I was half-expecting to see two of me, but it was just me. Still, I could see the fucked-upness in my own face. I had to push back a sudden feeling of nausea, wondering how cruel I could be to a stranger if I could do something like that to Annie.

I was still weak. I needed Dr. Service again, and I found myself worrying that I always would. What was with all this sex stuff anyhow? I know I'm different, but this was the first time I felt such a powerful both-way need, ever.

Disgusted with myself, solidly embarrassed about wearing Annie's robe, I went upstairs to change. Luckily, Annie was still sleeping, so I pulled on a t-shirt and my jeans and went back down, probably blushing when I saw Guy.

He looked at me glumly, "Better now?"

I didn't know what to say, because I was afraid of myself right then. "Guy ... listen ... I'm truly sorry, okay? I like you and ... I guess I got carried off somewhere." I looked at him earnestly, "It can't be, Guy." I dropped my eyes to the floor, "It just can't."

He was beside me in a second, leading me back to the couch, his hand on my shoulder when we sat back down. He suddenly hugged me tight, then immediately let me go. "Mike ... I ... ah, I don't know what just happened." His hand gave my shoulder a squeeze, "I like you, Mike, I really do ... a lot. I didn't come here for sex, though, just to talk about it." He paused for a long time, "The same thing just happened to you, didn't it? Like you just couldn't do it, even though you wanted to?"

I shook my head. "I could'a done it, I wanted to do it. I don't know what happened, Guy, there was this sudden noise in my head." I looked at him and decided to open up. "Guy, I never told you, but you feel exactly like Jack did ... I mean, you have the exact same body!"

His mouth opened to say something, but I went on, "Beyond that, you ..." I smiled at him, "you really smell fantastic, just like the guy next door to me, and it's like totally sexy or somethin' to me."

Guy stared for a long moment, then cracked a grin, "So, what say we back up a few minutes? We could start all over again."

I shoved his shoulder, "I'm serious, Guy. I'm scarin' myself." I tried to convey how serious I was through my expression. "I love Annie, and I don't wanna mess it up, but I just wanted to ... was ready to, and ... I don't know what the end is there."

Guy sighed and leaned back. "What about me, Mike? Don't I count somewhere here?"

Oh, Lord! I looked at him and said, "I don't have the answer, Guy. You count for sure with me, I really like you. Shit, I was just a half inch from suckin' your dick, 'n I never got that from you!"

Guy turned it back, "Oh, sure!" He was smiling, "That's what it's all about? I have to suck your dick first, then you'll suck mine?" He gave my crotch a squeeze, then laughed, "It's gotta be hard first, spaghetti dick! Either wake this thing up, or let's never talk about sex again!"

I laughed and nuzzled his cheek with my nose, "That second part sounds good." I kissed that same cheek, "Thanks, Guy."

He sighed heavily, "Can I ask one more question? Then I promise no more."

"Go ahead."

"Did you cum in each other's mouths?"

I nodded.

"What's it taste like?"

I felt better, and grinned, "Guy, I never seen jizz on any menus, and I can't say I recommend the flavor." My grin widened, "It's all in the delivery system!"

Guy gaped at me, then let out the loudest laugh I'd ever heard from him, a real funny one, and it was loud enough to wake the dead. Loud enough to wake Annie, anyhow, and she came down the stairs in the same pink robe, asking, "What time is it?"

That was something I truly didn't know, and the clock on the VCR was blinking '12:00', so I said, "Noon, I think."

"Hello, Guy," Annie smiled. "What brings you here?"

Guy was so funny. "Oh, I just came to call." He looked at me, perplexed, "You both have the same robe?"

Annie glanced at him as I stood, asking, "Anybody hungry? I'm kinda hungry."

Guy muttered, "I guess you are," garnering a warning glare from me, then we headed to the kitchen, where there wasn't a lot left. We ended up with tomato soup and tuna sandwiches, me having the heel of the bread. Davy clearly had some shopping to do.

Annie and Guy were nice to each other, and I had to cut through my own worry to realize they really liked each other Why wouldn't they? They were of an age, both good talkers, both funny. They had a great conversation over our little lunch, and I held back from it mostly, just to hear what they said.

It should have been enough, their combined funniness, and I laughed a lot to their words, but I couldn't get over my horniness. My stupid brain had this vision of me in Annie with Guy's dick in my mouth, and all of us getting off at the same time.

I looked at Annie, then Guy, and they were both beautiful to me.

I had to cool it. I knew I'd have to tell Annie about that little episode, and I considered doing it right then, while Guy was still there, just so I could make him squirm. I decided not to do that, because I was the problem, not him. He had only come to call, after all, and I'd been the one to jump him.

I did think to ask Annie for her thoughts. When there was a break in their chatter, I said, "Guy came here with a problem, Annie."

Guy's eyes suddenly got as big as his glasses, and he sucked in air while Annie glanced at him in concern, then looked back at me, the question on her face.

I was serious enough, and I knew I could say things to Annie that most people might not bring up with a girl. "Guy got together with Seth yesterday, and there was this ... um, I forget the word ... sexual somethin' ... dysfunction. That's it."

Annie glanced at Guy, while I stayed focused on her, kind of afraid to chance looking at him right then. Annie was kind, "That's so sad," she said, caressing Guy's hand. "You just couldn't get it up?"

I said, "Annie, that wasn't the problem! He couldn't get it open ... like he had lockjaw or somethin'!"

Annie's eyes went wide, then she gasped, "Oh. Oh!" She tried not to giggle, I witnessed her struggle, and she barely kept it down. I still hadn't looked at Guy, but I could see his hand, which Annie was stroking with her fingers. "I suppose that would present a problem to a gay boy," she said thoughtfully.

She stroked her chin with her other hand, staring at Guy, then turned sharply to me, revelation in her eyes. She leaned towards Guy, "Why don't you have Michael show you? I'm sure it's just a mechanical reaction, one that you'll easily master." Her eyes glinted, "See? Just the thought of it is helping."

I finally looked at Guy, totally shocked by Annie's words, and his face was devoid of any color, unlike my own blush, which I could feel. He was staring at Annie, mortified, I think, and his mouth was forming an almost perfect 'O'.

I whined, "Annie …" and she turned to me. "What're you talkin' about?"

"I'm talking about you teaching your friend about manly love. I certainly can't!"

I said, stupidly, "Whattya mean ya can't?" and immediately regretted it.

Annie glared at me. "Do you honestly want me to show him? He's your friend!"

We just stared at each other, and Guy muttered nervously, "Want to be alone for this?"

I nodded while Annie said, "Please."

When he was gone, which took no time at all, I asked, "What are you doing?"

Annie looked at me, then smiled and looked down. "Taking a chance, Mike." she whispered. "I know how you are, and I can see how you feel about Guy." She looked up with a sad smile, "You have needs that are all your own. How can I say I love you while denying you part of yourself?"

I reached over and took her hand gently, studying her face. She was dead serious. I said, "I can't, Annie, I just can't."

She bit her lip, then gave me a soft look, whispering, "Yes you can, and I think you have to." Her look turned pleading, "Do it for yourself, Mike, for you and Guy. It's not cheating if I want you to do it." She leaned forward and kissed me, "I know you'll come back, and I'll be right here waiting."

I said, "This is real strange, real strange."

Annie smiled, "It certainly is. Now go, before I change my mind. I'll stand guard."

I gulped, "You're gonna watch?"

"Hmm," she grinned, "I'll watch if you want."

"Oprah!" she said as my jaw hit the table. "Now go have your fun, and be gentle!"

I sagged, "I can't, Annie. You're makin' me crazy here."

She said gently, "You're not crazy, Mike. You're the most loving person I know, and you have more love than I can possibly absorb. Can you sit there and honestly tell me you don't want to do this?"

I looked away, "No, I can't."

"Do it, then. Charge your batteries, just be careful. And look at me."

I turned back to her hesitant smile, and it broadened. "I've told you I love you Mike, a million times now, and I love you for who you are, all of who you are. You have some love for Guy, so go give it to him." She grinned, "Make him half the lover you are, and he'll have boys coming out of the woodwork, and I'll be safe once again." She stuck her tongue out, "See? There you go, my motives are purely selfish."

I didn't know what to say or do. I just stared, circular thoughts in my head that wouldn't sort themselves out. Annie finally stood up, saying Oprah should be on, and she left. In a moment, Guy was standing there, a baffled smile on his face.

I just gazed at him until his presence fully impressed itself on me, and then smiled shyly. I stood up numbly, and took his hand as I walked past him. He asked, startled, "Really?"

One last check. I stuck my head in the family room, where Annie was curled up on the sofa watching television. I said, "Um, we're ..."

She put her finger in front of her mouth and went, "Shhh," so I guess she knew what I meant to say.

I stared at her until she looked up, and when she smiled I knew she hadn't been kidding.

I returned the smile, then backed out, my heart racing. Of all the things I never heard of, of all the things I never once imagined happening, having my girlfriend practically order me to go make it with a guy, a guy named Guy, a guy named Guy who I liked a whole lot, was the last one of them, the first at that other end of the list, where things that never happened lurked.

I was way overexcited. I grabbed Guy and hugged him, then kissed his nose and scooped him right off the floor, carrying him up all the stairs, right to the room I shared with Annie. I thought better about that, grabbed a handful of rubbers from my suitcase, and led him to Davy's room, semi-concerned what Davy would think if he knew, but hell, he was my friend. He'd make do.

I stood there and stared at Guy and reached out to touch his face. He gulped, "This is real? It's ... bizarre."

I said, "So what?" stroking his shoulder. "From what I've seen, most sex acts are pretty bizarre," I leered, "and right now I wanna bizarre your body!"

Guy's perplexed look morphed into a shy smile. "Can we kiss?" He winced, "I mean ... would you want to kiss me?"

I said, "I don't know the rules, Guy, if there are any." I leaned forward and kissed him quickly, then said, "No tongue, okay?" and pulled him to me again, stroking all over his back while we kissed, and his scent sent me off somewhere else.

Oh, God, what an hour we spent. Guy was something, pretty in his way, and gently passionate. For a Hispanic kid, his skin was whiter than mine, while everything else was black, except for a pink mouth and deep brown eyes. He had a great body, too, all slender and muscular, just like Jack. He even had hair on his chest, while I didn't even have serious fuzz there yet.

And that scent! It grew stronger along with his passions, almost overwhelming me, like I was lost in this Jack-laden miasma that poured out of Guy!

Guy had no problem opening his mouth either, other than some tentativeness at first, and the fact that he didn't like the taste of latex any better than I did, but that soon went away, and I guess you could call Guy a quick study.

We cuddled and talked, and I told Guy about Jack, how he called himself a natural-born cocksucker all the time. We giggled about our own techniques, which were probably less than professional grade, but pleasing nonetheless. We were both conscious of the fact that Annie was downstairs and knew what we were up to, and it bothered us less and less. That was because we knew that, while we felt an attachment, now strengthened by some sexual fun, we were destined to be just friends. I don't think either of us could explain where that realization came from, but it occurred to us both at about the same time, and it wasn't sad.

It was Guy's first real go-round with gay sex, and he'd want more for sure. As for me, well Annie wasn't that dumb, which I knew all along, and as good as it had been with Guy, it was way better with Annie. She had let me go, knowing that if I loved her I'd be back, and the boomerang in me was leading me that way with a vengeance.

I was cuddled with Guy, and he was feeling me all over, which felt good. "We better get dressed. They can't ski forever."

His eyes shone in the fading light, and a peaceful smile formed on his face. "Mike ... promise me we'll always be friends."

I smiled, "I'd like that, too." I kissed his nose one last time. "Let's always be friends, Guy." I picked up his hand and sucked a finger into my mouth, then let it out, "Just friends, okay?"

He smiled sweetly, which was his nature, "Okay. Thanks, Mike. Thanks more than I can say."

I sat up, "Don't thank me, thank that goddess downstairs, who must be sick of Oprah by now!"

Guy laughed happily, "I plan to! Annie's probably the neatest person I ever met in my life."

I smiled at the wall behind Guy, "Yeah."

We got dressed, trading underpants just because it seemed sexy to do, then got rid of the evidence that hadn't already been flushed, and straightened out the bed.

Hand in hand, we went downstairs, only to find Annie snoozing on the couch with the early-early news on television. I woke her up with a kiss, not feeling weird anymore because I knew how much she really loved me. She opened her eyes and smiled, then remembered and sat up abruptly. "Oh! What time is it?"

I glanced at the blinking VCR and said, "Noon."

Annie sat up and asked, "What? Still?"

I realized my mistake, then took the opportunity to hug Annie to me, reveling in the feel of her. She smiled, "Have fun?"

I grinned, "Yeah, we had fun. I love you, Annie, more than ever." I tried to sound like a movie guy, lowering my voice, "And you have nothing to worry about now, ma'am! I do believe you've queered me straight." I giggled.

Annie looked happily at Guy, "And you?"

Guy looked frightened at first. Then he grinned like he owned his own oil well. He mimicked me, saying, "I believe you queered me queer!" His eyes crinkled, "You're really something else."

Annie made a gesture, and Guy pulled her from me, giving her a hug that I almost envied. I could hear him whisper his thanks.

He added, "You take good care of ol' Mike, here. He loves you, you know, and that's worth a lot."

With that, Guy said, "I should go."

I protested, "How'll you get home? Stick around, they should be back soon!"

Guy plopped down on the floor, giving me what I took to be a secret smile. "Okay, I'll wait."

Well, wait we did. By the time the red-faced skiers got back, it was six, and they found us talking in front of the fire, our stomachs all complaining.

I was surprised at first by the number of skiers. Nobody had said how many were going. Three people had left the house that morning, now there was a crowd. Melanie and her sisters, Paul and Seth, some kids who'd been at the party the night we got there, Tom and his girlfriend. They all looked sleek in their ski clothes.

I felt good for no reason. There's something about faces on bodies that have been exerting themselves all day, this radiance that I used to see in Jack after a day of biking or hiking, and they all had it.

Tony leapt at me, wearing a coat I didn't know he owned, and he beamed sunshine. "You'd love it, Mike." I laughed because he was bouncing. "We're goin' back tomorrow, an' ya gotta come this time."

I liked seeing him excited, and said, with some purpose, "I like to come. I mean, I would like to come ... I mean, I want to come."

That got my head some serious-feeling smacks from Guy and Annie, but I didn't care because I was hungry. I looked at Davy and said, "Yourrefrigerator is seriously dry, man, and these stay-at-homes are hungry."

Davy grinned, and, dammit, it was that funny Jack grin. "I think these not stay-at-homes are hungry, too. What say we eat? I'm buying." He pointed to Guy, "Call Juan, tell him we're going to Frisco's." then Davy gave me a funny look, like a questioning one, and I didn't know what it meant.

There was some urgency, because we were all hungry, and as soon as ski clothes had been shed, we were on the way, me seated between Annie and Guy in Paul's van.

Seth was up front, but he was twisted around looking at us and talking to us, but mostly checking out Guy. Well, no shit. Guy, unlike everyone else on earth, wore tight jeans, just like Annie's, and I had to struggle to keep my left hand away from him.

We were soon at the place anyhow, and it was Italian again, but not fancy this time, just in a strip mall, and one big, modern room.

It turned out not to matter, because the bunch of us were soon accommodated, and Davy ordered appetizers before we even got a table. When we sat down, he surprised me by saying, "I'm sorry I got upset this morning." He smiled, "I didn't mean to dump you like that, but I had to get out."

"Don't apologize," I said, and smiled. "You can dump me with Annie any day." Then added with a smirk, "Guy, too."

"Skiin's great, Mike." Tony piped in. "I love it." He leaned toward me, "I swear it. I was scared at first, then whoop I'm flyin' down the hill, and it's great." He grinned, "All I could see was you sailin' off the cliff. You gotta come tomorrow."

I looked at Tony, "Give me a second here. You ... you picture me flyin' off a cliff? " I grinned and smacked his head, "If that's what you see, Anton Wolfie, you should picture yourself descending backwards, in ever decreasing concentric circles, 'cause that's where you'll be when I knock your head in."

Davy stretched back and said, "That's how I feel, like I'm always spinning backwards in ever-decreasing concentric circles."

I just looked at Davy. "I was kidding, you know."

Davy smiled, "I know, but I still feel like that."

Paul socked Davy's arm and said, "You're so full of shit, Looms!" He put his hand on Davy's arm, "You whine, but you know how to live, man, better than any of us."

Davy smiled and said, "Sure."

The appetizers came and we shut up as we dug in, and I found yet another thing to love. Mussels. Davy had ordered two huge bowls of them, and soon ordered two more. They were kind of like little clams, but all garlicky, and I couldn't stop eating them, nor could most of us. We had a great meal, even if it was a little sloppy, and my meatballs were as big as my clenched fist.

My eyes lit up when my plate of spaghetti came. It looked like enough for two of me, but everyone got lots of food, and we had a fun time making it disappear. There were lots of skiing stories, and it really did sound like fun. Juan told us about a guy at the gymhe went to who broke his wrist trying to lift too much, then it was back to skiing stories.

When Davy looked at me and asked what I did all day, I didn't know what to say at first, and after a short pause I grinned, "I vacuumed! Didn't ya notice?"

Well, Guy's bite of garlic bread hit Tom square on the forehead when he and Annie started laughing hard. I had to pat her on the back, because she started choking on something, then I started laughing, too, but it was a private joke between the three of us, and I liked that it would stay that way.

The timing was right, everyone was getting full and quieting down, so the conversation got less general, and several quieter ones broke out. I just cuddled with Annie, looking at Guy once in awhile. He was being quiet, looking over at us now and again, and smiling, then paying attention to others.

Davy and Melanie were being private, too, and I liked watching them. Annie leaned into me and whispered, "Davy and Melanie are really cute together, aren't they?"

I kissed Annie's hair and whispered, "Yeah, they are." I leaned into her, loving every inch that I could feel in public. "You really freaked me out before ... lettin' me go with Guy like that."

"Mmm hmm."

"Damn, Annie. Sometimes a real word or so wouldn't hurt."

Annie pulled back an inch, looked me in the eye, her own eyes all deep and beautiful, and whispered, "This isn't the place, Mike, but what should I have done?" She smiled, "If I let you wonder about Guy forever, that's just what you'd have done ... wondered forever." She kissed the corner of my mouth and pinched my ear at the same time, "I had to know, Mike," she whispered, "I had to see for myself if you'd come back."

I turned to her, "Wanna go outside? Get some fresh air?"

She stood almost before I finished, saying, "Fresh air sounds nice." She looked at the others and said, "We're going to step outside for a moment, we'll be right back."

We didn't wait for any comments, just took off and found our coats. We wandered away in the parking lot, my arm around her the best I could given the bulk of our coats.

We didn't say anything for the longest time, just strolled, and Annie asked, "So, did you suck his dick?"

Oh, no. It's good that it was dark, because I'm sure the finest blush of my life came out right about then. "Annie." I warned, " Please don't ask that, not now or ever,"

She leaned into me, "Okay, that's fair." We walked along, "Did he like it?"

"Annie."

"I'm just asking, I can forever wonder about the correct answer, but you could tell me with a single word. I won't ask again."

"Guy liked it, okay?" I growled.

"And you?"

"Stop it, Annie." We were near some snow beside the lot, so I reached down and traced YES into it with my finger, then looked at Annie. "That's the correct answer." I looked into her pretty eyes, which weren't telling me what they felt right then, and they suddenly began to smile.

"That's pretty kinky."

I gaped, stared, then burst out laughing, pulling Annie to me. I kissed her, "I love you, girl. Mice Waters loves you for now and forever."

… continued

I'm sorry this story has taken so long. I started it over 20 years ago, and actually finished it once, but readers weren't ready for it. Since then, I have managed to get sick and stay sick for 14 years running. In the meantime I've lost my mother, father, and my last living brother, as well as my doctor, lots of friends and neighbors, and now my barber. At least I'm retired and don't have to keep up appearances.

With little else to keep me occupied, I've decided to rewrite the ending, and this is the first of four revised chapters that will complete the story. It will probably be my last effort too.

I'm sure I'm whistling in the wind here thinking someone might read this, but if you do then thank you and be well.

Driver

driver.nine@hotmail.com


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