Sometimes things happen that you think you’ll never be able to live down.
But is that really true?
Note: Explicit language and graphic descriptions.
This was the first time with someone else for both of us. What I mean to say by that is, we didn’t do all the things I’ve read about on the Internet. Just kissing, being new and with someone I liked, was almost too much for me, and while I didn’t really think I’d have been happy just stopping after we did that, I’d like to think I could have accepted it.
But I was gay, and realized I was starting to fall in love with Gary, and so I think I was much more emotionally into what we were doing than Gary was. There was a different dimension to it for me than there was for him, and so what I was feeling was more intense. Gary was into it, emotionally involved I mean, but it was the physical part he was most into. I could have been happy stopping, going to bed and just reliving the kissing, with visions of more to come tomorrow dancing in my head. Gary wanted more right then. That’s not to say I didn’t, too.
We undressed, and saw each other fully hard—he was incredibly beautiful—and then he hugged me, and we kissed some more. I was lying on him, and he was lying on me, and we were squirming around, so it isn’t surprising we never even got to playing with each other’s equipment. We both were too excited for that. I think that was more true for me than Gary. I know I finished first. Not by all that much, though. We both really liked it.
We lay there together, our hips touching, breathing hard, and I learned what that word I keep reading in romance novels means—yeah, I don’t only read classical literature like I’m supposed to. The word I mean is ‘afterglow.’ It always seemed a corny word before, but I understood what it meant, now.
Finally, he rolled over, propped himself up on his elbow, and asked in a sort of dreamy voice if I was ready to sleep. I nodded at him, smiling. We were already undressed. We went into the bathroom together and brushed our teeth, still naked. Somehow, after what we’d done, that felt right. More than right.
We brushed, and I looked at him in the mirror, and he looked at me, and suddenly we both burst out laughing for no reason at all, spraying toothpaste foam all over the sink and mirror. I rinsed and spat, and he did too. I wanted to take his hand, walking back in to the bedroom, but somehow I was afraid he’d think that was too gay.
He turned off the light and we got into bed, still naked. I’d never done that before, but it too felt right. “Roll over like last time,” he said, and I did, and he spooned up against me. I didn’t fall asleep immediately this time. I lay there feeling how right this was, right for me at least. I liked the feel of his muscular bare chest against my back, his legs pressing against mine, his arms around me, and his parts up against my butt. I liked that a lot.
I woke up in the morning hard as a rock, but there was more than the usual reason for it this time. I was still on my side, he was still spooning me, but his hand was wrapped around my boner, and he was very gently moving the skin up and down, up and down. I had no idea how long he’d been doing that, but I woke up just about ready to explode. And then did about ten seconds later.
“You awake?” he whispered.
“I am now,” I giggled. Then he rolled over and I, with the most amazing feeling that this was all somehow normal—wonderful but normal— did the same thing to him.
We showered together, then got dressed and went downstairs. His mom was in the kitchen, ready to put French toast in the pan. I could smell both bacon and sausage, and saw a bottle of real maple syrup on the table. Yum!
Gary’s mom made enough for everyone, and we ate. I was starved. I never got food like this at home, and somehow I seemed hungrier than usual anyway. Neither Gary nor I said much, but he kept raising his eyes from his plate to look at me, and I was doing the same thing to him.
“OK, what’s going on with you two?”
I looked up, and his mom was peering at us over the rim of her coffee cup. She didn’t look mad or suspicious, just curious, and maybe a little amused.
“What do you mean?” Gary asked, all innocence.
“Something’s going on. Last night you were both acting squirrelly, and now this morning… well, something’s different.”
Gary looked at me, turning his head to do so, which meant his mother couldn’t see his face. He looked at me, and winked!
It was all I could do to keep a straight face. But I managed. Fear played a role in that, I’m sure.
He turned back to his mother and said, “What are you talking about?”
She shook her head, then grinned at him. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell me. I’ll figure it out.”
I hated it when it came time to go home. I really wanted to stay another night, and not just because of what I knew we’d do. Being at the Jenks’ house gave me a feeling I’d never had before. I was treated like a son who was loved and respected, something I never got at home. I saw the relationship Gary had with his parents, and it made me sad. I was a nice kid. I wasn’t rebellious or a troublemaker. I did what I was told to do. How come there was always so much tension and shouting and anger and judgment in my house, and no love at all? Why couldn’t I have what Gary had?
I thanked Gary’s mom with probably more emotion than she was ready for when she was dropping me off at home. She looked at me, reading my face, then reached out and gave me one of her smothering hugs, and held it a while. While hugging me, she said in my ear, “You’re welcome at our house any time, Keith. You’re quiet as a church mouse, you’re polite, and I think Gary is learning manners by watching you. I like having you there. You’re good for Gary, he’s happier since he’s gotten to know you, and you’re good for me, too. I like you because of who you are, Keith. I’m really glad you’re Gary’s friend. Come anytime you want. Don’t wait for an invitation.” Tears came to my eyes, and I had to disengage and hurry into my house so she wouldn't see them.
I walked in to find my mother waiting for me, an anxious expression on her face. She had something to tell me, and I could tell she expected me not to like it.
“Where were you?” she asked, and I knew something was wrong. Her hair looked disarranged, and her personal grooming was always impeccable. She was angry, too, and her question didn’t make any sense.
“You know where I was. I was at Gary’s”
“Don’t you dare take that tone of voice to me. I deserve your respect! You should have been home hours ago!”
“There was no special time set for me to get home. Why are you so upset? I didn’t do anything wrong. You’re trying to pick a fight!” I was angry now, and she could hear it. I’d never yelled at her in the past, but just recently I’d started doing so. I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t able to hold in my anger now as I had in the past. So, when she yelled, I was beginning to do it too. She didn’t like it.
“I forbid you to talk to me that way! Go to your room!”
I managed to control my temper. “I was going there anyway. When you calm down, maybe you can talk rationally.”
“That’s it! You’re grounded! No more going to Gary’s house. Just school and home. I’m fed up with you.”
She had some file folders in her hands, and she slammed them down on the little table in the entryway where we put the mail. Her face was red, her eyes squinting.
I walked around her, feeling shaky. I hated fighting, hated arguing, hated confrontation. I’d had to listen to it way too much growing up, and it always made me feel small and worthless and powerless.
I climbed the stairs up to my room. I stopped, took a breath, then sat on the bed. The feelings I’d had at Gary’s house, the things his mother had said to me in the car, all were gone. I’d reentered my real life.
I got on my computer, surfed around, but my stomach had the tight feeling I was so used to, and I couldn’t concentrate.
Eventually, my mother came upstairs and stood in my doorway, just watching me. I knew she was there but didn’t look at her. I didn’t need another fight.
Finally, she turned and walked away, but then came back. “Keith?” she said.
“Yeah?” I kept starting at my computer monitor.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. You’re right, I did know where you were. You didn’t do anything wrong. I was upset, and I took it out on you. I do that a lot, don’t I?”
“It hurts, you know. When you do that.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just that. . . well, I’ve had a bad day. A very bad one. They’re cutting back in my office. They’ve let some staff go, and they’re reducing the associates.”
“You got fired?” The tightness in my stomach got worse. If she lost her job, I didn’t know what we’d do.
“No. No. But. . . well, they want. . . .” She stopped and turned around, not looking at me. She stood like that for at least a minute. Then she turned back to me.
“They want me to work out of our San Diego office for the next few months. There’s a job there for an associate. They said they hope there’ll be work for me back here when I finish with that assignment. But they said they can’t promise it.”
She looked at me, her eyes red, and I got up and went to her and hugged her.
Hugging her was much different from hugging Mrs. Jenks. Mrs. Jenks was a little stout, and that extra padding, her enthusiasm for hugging, and the love that seemed to emanate from her like warmth from an oven on a cold day, made you feel like you were being enveloped by a comfortable, welcoming pillow. My mother was slender, her muscles were hard, and there wasn’t much tenderness in either her heart or her hug. I got the impression, the few times we hugged, that she was putting up with it, but not enjoying it.
I hugged her, and I felt her shudder. When I let go, she looked at me for a moment, then silently turned and started back towards the stairs. She stopped, however, and called back to me, “Things might be hard for a while. I need your help. Be here when I need you, and do what I say. You might start with cleaning up your room.”
I looked at my room. It looked like it always did, pretty much OK. I wasn’t messy, and in fact, I didn’t like messy much. It was something that got me yelled at when I was younger. It wasn’t spotless, like Gary’s was, but it looked fine. I sat back down at my computer, but then started thinking, and it wasn’t long before I walked back downstairs myself. I found her at the kitchen table, simply sitting, staring at the wall.
“Mom? Does this mean I have to leave school?”
“Probably. I can’t leave you here alone.”
“But for just a few months? Then come back here? I have to go to a new school where I don’t know anyone for a short time, then come back?”
“Dammit, Keith! We have to face this. In the present circumstances, we have to do what we have to do. We have to face that. What else can we do? For God’s sake, don’t start whining about it! Think about someone but yourself for once. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want any of this! Dammit!”
“Are they going to pay for you to live there? I mean, if they don’t do that, then you’ll be paying the mortgage on this house plus wherever we’re living there. Can you afford that?”
“No, I can’t afford it! But they said this is all they have, and I should feel lucky because they’re not making this offer to some of the other associates. They said the job is there if I want it, but that’s all. No expenses are covered. Things are too tight for the company right now. If I don’t want to do it, they’ll ask one of the other associates they’re letting go.”
“So you’ll have to sell the house?”
“I don’t know! Stop asking me questions I don’t know answers to! Why do you always do that? I’ll see if I can rent it, but who’ll rent a house for only a few months?”
It looked hopeless to me. Both our lives were being torn apart. “When do we have to go?”
“I have a week to decide. I guess I’ll have to see what a realtor has to say about selling or renting the house. I have to see what’s available in San Diego, too. We need two bedrooms, but I don’t think I’ll be able to afford anything that big unless it’s a dump.” She got up and started pacing, and I didn’t say anything else.
I didn’t want to live in a dump. I didn’t want to start in a new school for a couple of months in the middle of the school year. I didn’t want to have any part of any of this. I didn’t want to leave Gary just when I’d found him.
That’s when I had my idea, my brilliant idea. I started to speak, then clamped my lips shut. I needed to think of the best way to present this. The mood she was in was brittle, and I wanted her to say yes to what I was thinking.
So, I said, “I’ll be upstairs. Maybe I can think of a way to help.”
I did a lot of thinking, then got on the phone. After that I went back downstairs.
She looked up at me. She didn’t smile, but then, she rarely did, at least not at me. But I had her attention.
“Am I really grounded?”
She wrinkled her lips into a grimace, and I was afraid she was going to bark yes, but she just shook her head and looked back down at the table. So I took a chance. “You have a lot to worry about, and I’m just in your way. Gary wants me to come back over there so we can finish a game we were playing. If I can stay over there again tonight, you won’t have to worry about dinner for me or me disturbing you. Is that OK?”
She didn’t even bother to look up. She just said, “Yeah, that’d be good, you getting out of here for awhile. Good idea. Go.”
Gary’s mom picked me up fifteen minutes later. Gary wasn’t with her. I got in, and she hugged me again. I really needed that. I don’t have any idea how she always knew.
“Where’s Gary?” I asked her when she’d let me go.
“I told him he had to do his laundry and change his sheets if you were coming over again,” she laughed. “I knew I could get him to do it without an argument if I used you as my carrot.” She grinned at me.
I tried to grin back at her. I tried, and failed, and she saw it.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, her voice low and warm and suddenly worried for me.
“I. . . I want to ask you something, but I can’t. It’s too much, and I’d be taking advantage of how nice you are, and...” Dammit! My emotions overtook me again, and I felt tears starting. I turned my face away from her.
She pulled the car over to the curb and stopped. Then she turned to look at me. I couldn’t look back at her.
“Keith?” she said.
I didn’t answer.
“Keith, what is it, honey? You can ask me anything. Anything at all. Please, honey, I hate to see you all upset and worried. Please, tell me.” She turned to me and put a hand gently on my shoulder.
I turned and suddenly lunged toward her and she caught me in her arms. She wrapped me up, and I snuggled into her. She gave me something with her warmth that I was lacking, something I desperately needed, and I ate it up. It gave me courage to ask her what I wanted to ask. Something I’d never have been able to do without it.
She fried chicken for dinner, and Gary told her it wasn’t healthy, all that fat, and she told him she’d used canola oil but he probably shouldn’t take the risk of eating it anyway and she’d whip him up a liverwurst sandwich with onions and sauerkraut instead, and offered me both breasts since Gary wouldn't be eating one, and Gary said. . . well, he didn’t just let that go, he came back at her and I was doing as much laughing as eating. His father was, too, and kept winking at me as if to let me know the two of us were sharing something, watching the two of them. Watch them we did, and I forgot all about everything at home for the time being.
After dinner, Mrs. Jenks asked us all to come to the living room. Gary and I sat on the couch, and the other two in arm chairs. When we were all seated, Mrs. Jenks said, “Keith has a problem at home. The circumstances there have changed. I think we can help him by offering him a place to stay for a few months. This needs to be a family decision. What do my two men have to say about it?”
Gary smiled so widely I wondered that his face didn’t split in two, and yelled, “Yeah!” His father was a bit calmer, but said to me, “Of course you’re welcome here, Keith. I’m so happy you came to us for help. Not everyone would have done that. It means you’re as comfortable with us as we are with you, and you don’t have a lot of false pride. Asking for help when you need it is a mark of maturity. Anyway, I like having you here. It keeps Gary happy and out of my hair.”
I looked at them all, then dropped my eyes. Why did I get so lucky as to find these people? And then I realized, I didn’t. Even if I had, I’d have been too shy to do anything about it. They, or rather Gary, had found me.
I raised my head and said, “You guys are wonderful, and saying thanks isn’t enough, but it’s all I can say. I know I’m imposing, but I didn’t know what else to do. I had to find out if it was OK with you guys first before asking her. Now, I have to find a way to suggest it to her so she’ll agree.”
Mrs. Jenks looked at her husband, then back at me. “Why don’t’ you let me try, Keith? If you ask her, she’ll probably automatically say no, for all those reasons we adults always have for something like this. I can deflect those a whole lot better than you can. In fact, I’ll do it right now. No reason to put it off.”
And she got up and walked to the phone in the den.
I couldn’t control my emotions, waiting. I really didn’t want to leave here. I’d finally found someone who wanted to be my friend, and perhaps just as important, I’d found two adults who cared about me. I didn’t want to leave that.
There was something else that was bothering me, but I didn’t know how to talk about it, or who would be the person to unload my worries on. My mother seemed to be. . . well, she was changing. She’d warmed up to me after picking me up at school that day, but then had gone right back to how she’d been, and today had seemed much worse. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind of her sitting at the kitchen table, not doing anything but stare at the wall. I was beginning to wonder if she was OK, mentally.
I got up and started pacing. Gary watched, then got up himself and grabbed my arm and took me outside, onto the patio. It was still warm, and he pushed me into a chair and plopped down into one himself. “You all right?” he asked.
“No. I’m scared.” I could hear a tremble in my voice.
“That she’ll say no?”
“That, but it’s more.” I stopped. I didn’t want to talk about all my fears. I’d sound like a little kid. I didn’t know why he liked me, but whining and crying about my fears wouldn’t help.
“Keith, it helps to talk about things. Let me in on what’s going on. You’ll feel better. And it’s what best friends are for.”
I dropped my head, but just being with him, sitting there, did make me feel better, and I knew telling him would help, too.
“I think my mom’s losing her job,” I started. “She’ll be working in San Diego, and it’s temporary, and if she loses that, I’m not sure she can handle it. I keep thinking, just when things seem to be looking up for me, they’re going downhill for her. She’s all I have, and if she cracks up over this, what’ll happen to me?”
I jumped up suddenly. I was going to cry, I knew it. And I didn’t want him to see.
I ran out into the backyard, wanting to be by myself. I felt the tears start to fall. I had my back turned to the patio. Maybe he’d see I needed time alone.
Hah! No chance of that at all, with Gary. I started to shake, and then he was there, his arm around me. I couldn’t stop crying, even with his arm there. Then I turned, and was against his front, and he was holding me, and I was crying into his chest.
Which is where we were when his mother came out and called, “Keith, I need to talk to you.” She sounded grim.
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