Copyright © 2016
by David Lee
by David Lee
Twelve students and their sponsor took about a 15-mile roundtrip stint on a nearly deserted road for their first cycling club ride on a Sunday afternoon. Several could have gone twice the distance, but a few were very happy when they got back to the school grounds again. To the person, they expressed their thanks to Michael for the good time they'd had.
"Um, Grandma wants to know if you'll join us for supper," Joe said when they were alone again. "She makes awesome fajitas!"
"Should I call her on my cell to let her know?"
Maria's fajitas were, hands-down, the best Michael had ever tasted, and he told her so. Her refried beans were to die for! The rice was superb too. She beamed when he complimented her on her cooking.
"My beans are probably to die OF; they should come with a hazard warning," she joked. "My mother taught me to use real lard because they don't taste right if you do them in a vegetable shortening."
"I'm sure that amount of animal fat won't kill me. Besides, I've heard that some of the substitutes are harder on our bodies than the natural stuff."
Their dinner was completed with vanilla ice cream and sopapillas. Michael sat back and patted his stomach at the end of the meal.
"If I ate like this all the time, I'd have to ride 15 miles every day just to keep from turning into a blimp!"
"You're so trim; I could feed you things like this all the time and you'd never show it," Maria laughed.
Michael would enjoy dinners with Joe and his grandmother several more times during the summer. He hadn't planned to be a regular guest, but he found himself in the position of tutoring Joe in preparation for taking the ACT exams, and Maria used her home cooking as a way to thank him for his extra work.
Joe had always assumed that college would be out of his reach, even though his grades were high. His family wasn't even close to the middle-income range. However, Michael convinced him that there was aid-money available for people who applied for it.
"You have all the qualities the scholarship committees are looking for in a poster-boy for their organizations. You're smart, good-looking, clean, honest, trustworthy — the whole nine yards."
"But, maybe I'm not loyal and brave," Joe giggled.
"You're those things too. I think you could be an Eagle without even joining the Scouts."
"If you think I could get a college education, I'll work my butt off to make it happen!"
"Ah, there's another quality I forgot to mention, dedication!"
After a few sessions of working with Joe, Michael thought he should open it up to others who would be seniors next year and who might have aspirations of getting a college degree. It would look good on Michael's vitae sheet, and he could avoid the appearance of favoring one particular boy.
Reaching all of the prospective kids turned out to be a chore because most families didn't have Internet connections. The few who did, could use online tutoring services if they wished to. Most of the rest didn't have the interest.
Michael ended up with two students in addition to Joe. Peter and John were eager, but their grades weren't as high as Joe's. However, the coach was bound to do what he could for them as well. He was happy to have them because people might question the respectability of being alone in the apartment with a solitary boy. Ever since the Jerry Sandusky scandal, adult males working with boys came under additional scrutiny.
The small table in Michael's kitchen became their workstation most days. Maria would have offered her house, but she usually had little ones to babysit. Daycare was her way of making ends meet.
If a session ran longer than anticipated, the young coach would feed them lunch or give them a snack, depending on the time of day they worked. All of that was on his dime, but the boys began to bring things like fruit or cheese and crackers to share. They may not have been rich, but their families had their pride.
Sometimes when they needed a break from their intense studies, the four of them would go for a short bike ride. Seeing them out having fun, made some of the other kids, who'd turned down the tutoring offer, feel a bit jealous. They had assumed it would be all work and no play.
When Michael administered practice tests in late July, all three of the boys scored above average, but Joe was in the 99th percentile. His off-the-charts score was an indication that the instrument wasn't measuring his true ability. Michael was probably even more ecstatic than Joe was!
Michael was also busy with his own educational pursuit, taking an online class. Somewhere in the midst of helping these kids, he'd had an epiphany. He decided to begin a masters' program in counseling. He had taken almost enough hours in the area for a minor in his undergrad years. It wouldn't require a lot of additional coursework for him to move in that direction. Helping kids find their futures excited him more than anything in his current field of history. "Let the dead bury their dead," was an old biblical saying that rang in his head.
Because of all of the online classes the university offered in that field, Michael could get his Masters within a couple of years. He thought that he should wait to complete the program until he decided if he would remain where he was, or possibly apply to teach in a larger district. One of his advisors suggested he might stand a better chance of being hired with a BA+ rather than with an MA. She said that while districts loved touting all of their teachers with post-graduate degrees, they were reticent to hire people at that level because of the extra money they'd have to pay. Once he had the job, he could finish and move up the salary scale. Hypocrisy reigns in many circles.
Seeing how well his charges had done on the practice test, Michael arranged for all three of them to take the real exam in late August. He covered the modest fees out of his own pocket without telling them.
If they scored well, they could begin the application process to a college or university. If they didn't show up reasonably high, they would have another chance at testing later in the school year. They might set their sights on junior college in the meantime. Either way, Joe, Peter, and John were enthusiastic about continuing their education past high school. In each case, they would be the first in their family to go that far.
Michael encouraged Joe to send letters of inquiry to several schools, including Iowa State, his alma mater, even before he had his official ACT results.
"You're a good athlete. It doesn't hurt to have coaches looking at you early. I can give you an excellent recommendation. My word might not carry weight at some of those places, but I know it will at ISU. I keep in contact with my former coaches there."
"That would be awesome, but it's quite a distance from here. I don't want to be that far from Grandma and, um, you."
"If you can get a good scholarship, you'll need to suck it up and do what you have to do. You're mature enough to make it without seeing us daily. With Skype and all, we can keep in touch."
"But it won't be the same."
"That's for sure, but we all have to make a few sacrifices along the way. That's the harsh reality of adulthood!"
"Maybe I want to stay a boy then."
"I'm afraid life doesn't give you that option either."
Just before Joe's 17th birthday, a life insurance check came in the mail. He was the sole beneficiary of a policy his mother's employer had taken out on her many years ago. The value of it was only $10,000, but that seemed like a fortune to Joe.
He discussed it with Michael and Grandma over the dinner she had prepared to celebrate his practice test results.
"I could do a lot of good with this! I could pay off your house, and maybe get us a better car."
"These are temporary things that will depreciate. Your education will have a far greater payoff in the future. You need to save it for college," Maria insisted. "Even if you get a full-ride, there are lots of additional expenses. I can keep up the payments on this place, and the car should last awhile since it's been fixed recently."
"If you want my input," Michael said, "I'd put most of it in a trust fund for a year or two. You might get better aid money if you don't look like you have a lot. Given tuition fees these days, that amount would evaporate like a water drop on a hot skillet."
"I thought the saying was, 'like spit on a griddle,' but you're politer than I am," Maria laughed.
Michael drove his three summer students to the community college campus 30 miles away to take the ACT's. On the way, he treated them to a second breakfast at McDonald's to boost their energy. All of them had egg and sausage biscuits. None forgot to thank him.
When the results came back a few weeks later, all three were pleased. Soon after that, the letters from colleges and universities began to pour in.
Peter and John scored high enough to receive letters of acceptance from several schools. Most included some scholarship money. Based on his test scores and his athletic ability, Joe could have a free-ride at Iowa state. He really had no choice but to go there if he wanted to graduate debt-free. It was a dream come true! He still hated to be parted from Grandma and Michael — especially Michael.
Maria hosted a small birthday party for Joe just after school started. The guests were John, Peter, and Michael. They all brought small gifts which were things that Joe would find helpful in college — highlighters, pens, and notebooks.
Probably, the latter would rarely be used once Joe bought the laptop he'd been yearning for. Maria and Michael both thought it would be a good use for a little of the life insurance money he'd received.
Joe decided that he'd think of it as a gift from his mother for his 17th birthday. He would be among about 10% in his class to own one. He wouldn't flaunt it but he would use it at home to type up his papers, and sometimes at school when he wanted to get on the Internet and there wasn't a computer free. Occasionally, he would go to Michael's apartment to use his wireless connection. In those instances, Michael always made sure Maria came too.
In addition to cross-country, Joe and a few others rode their bikes together with Michael at times. There wasn't a lot of leisure for Joe since he was still working a few hours at the farm like he'd done between tutoring sessions in the summer.
Farmer Bob had been very good about working around Joe's schedule. Much as he would like to have had the boy there 10 hours a day, he felt that Joe would have a brighter future if he could continue his education in college. So many of the kids in the community didn't have the drive or the opportunity.
To make up for Joe's absences, he hired a couple of other boys. It seemed to him that it took two of them to do what Joe could do by himself!
Another school year was off to a fast start. There was no tradition of homecoming activities because there was no football team. However, two of the churches got together to sponsor a Halloween dance for the kids. They liked the idea of providing a constructive activity to help curtail the pranks that sometimes accompanied the night.
Michael got drafted into helping as a chaperone for the occasion. He really didn't mind, though it took up an evening which he might have used for coursework. Since he was known, and respected, by about every kid in the high school, he didn't have to act like the "bad cop" to get them to behave.
Joe was a good dancer because he had a natural sense of rhythm, and 'his Grandma Isabel had taught him the basic ballroom steps when he was little. Michael encouraged him to attend the party even though he didn't have a date.
He spread himself around among the girls so that none of them would feel like he was ready to be anyone's boyfriend.
When one cutie subtly let him know he could take her to bed, he reminded her that he was college-bound, and wasn't going to let anything or anyone sidetrack him from his goal. She was miffed, but didn't make an issue of it. If she had, it would make her look like a slut.
Joe was happy that he had an excuse so that he didn't have to hurt her feelings by telling her the truth. She didn't turn him on at all.
Michael went to be with his family again for Christmas. Instead of staying there the full time, or going to Chicago (though Jonah had wanted him to come since he'd kicked Clive to the curb), he went back to his apartment on the 29th of December. No one was happier with that situation than Joe. He found several reasons to come over, and he asked his grandmother to invite Michael for meals.
Michael agreed to eat with them, but only if he could bring something to share. In fact, one night he drove the roundtrip to Springfield to get Chinese carryout. He packed it in his cooler with a couple of bricks he'd heated in the oven to keep it reasonably warm.
Maria and Joe loved Chinese food, and thought it was a real treat.
For another meal, he took them both to a new restaurant in the same town. His guests blanched at the prices on the menu, but he told them he was using money that his family had given him for Christmas.
Winter passed quickly for Michael. He was registered for two online classes which took up a lot of his spare time. Teaching was easier this year because he had ideas and projects from the previous year that he could recycle instead of starting from scratch.
Joe, John, and Peter were busy too. Michael had assigned them a number of books to read which weren't on the school's list of required classics.
He introduced them to "The Kite Runner" and "A Canticle for Leibowitz" which he felt would help level the playing field when they were freshmen next year. He also recommended "A Tale of Two Cities" which wasn't taught at Franklin. They ended up having a mini book club at his place.
Coach Bartacek's track team started off even better in his second year as their leader. An article extolling their success appeared on the front page of the sports section of the Des Moines Register. Joe's photogenic body was included in it.
In turn, the story was picked up by the national news. It came at a time when the legislature was trying to agree to a compromise on school funding. This human interest story of a small school's success helped to gain support for more money for education, especially from the congressmen who were originally straddling the fence on the issue. In light of what was happening in one of their poorer districts, they would look like pikers if they stinted too much.
Despite the increase in spending, Franklin's days were numbered. It would likely have to consolidate with Springfield eventually, making for long bus rides in the near future.
One day in the locker room when the two of them were alone, Joe dawdled about putting his clothes back on after showering. Spring weather was making him feel excessively horny. He stood naked, as he and Michael discussed the effects of national exposure for their team. When he languidly stretched, his beautiful uncut cock, which was nestled in a luxuriant bush, began to swell. It was a mouth-watering sight.
"I think you'd better get dressed," Michael suggested, nervously.
"I'm sorry, I thought you liked how my body is developing," Joe sighed.
"I do, more than I'm supposed to."
"Could you hold me like you did before — when Mom was so bad off?"
"I could, but I'd be in danger of losing my teaching license if anyone saw me hugging a naked student. I'd probably be fired from my job at the very least."
"I can't be responsible for that," Joe smiled wanly. "I guess it's enough to know that you like me."
"I more than like you, Joe. You're the light of my life. I only pray that you'll still want to be around me after you graduate and go away to college. There will be lots of hot young people and a number of them will be interested in having a relationship with you. I'm almost 24; I can't compete."
"I've read some articles on Out Sports, and I know lots of couples are further apart in age than we are. I also can't imagine anyone being hotter than you. I admit being really horny, but what I feel for you is in here (thumping his chest) and not just here (covering his groin).
Michael swallowed hard. At the moment, he was very conflicted. Joe and he had admitted that their feelings of love were mutual, and Michael's body craved the boy like never before.
To keep from doing what he dared not, he hurried to a toilet stall, latching the door immediately. He unbuckled and unzipped, pulling his shorts down to his knees, and freeing his steely hardon from its confinement. Standing in front of the stool, he began to pleasure it gently, the image of Joe's hot body seared into his mind.
Joe thought he knew what Michael was doing, and he had to find out for sure. He hastily threw on his briefs and jeans before he quietly entered the stall next to the one Michael was in, standing on the seat to have a good view.
He knew he shouldn't perve on his coach, but he was mesmerized by the scene before him. He couldn't take his eyes off the swollen beast with its foreskin rhythmically covering and then exposing the purplish-pink head as Michael thrust it into his fist. This went on for a very short time because he was consumed with desire.
Suddenly Michael's body stiffened as he shot his load, the first volley hitting the wall behind the stool, and the rest falling into the water with audible plopping sounds. Watching it, Joe came in his underwear.
While Michael was wiping the residue off the wall with a piece of toilet paper, Joe was seated with his jeans and underwear around his ankles, cleaning up as best as he could. He finished by stuffing a wad of tissue in the crotch to soak up the rest so it wouldn't bleed through.
Joe sat there until his heart stopped pounding, and he heard the locker room door close. Only then, did he quit shaking enough to finish dressing and leave.
In the hall, he found Michael waiting for him.
"Um, I'm sorry," Joe whispered, on the verge of tears. "I don't' mean…"
"It's okay; we're cool," Michael said gently squeezing the nape of Joe's neck.
In response, Joe leaned into him slightly. Both of them would have loved to have shared an embrace and a kiss, but they knew it wouldn't be the proper thing to do.
Outside, they climbed on their bikes and rode to the end of the block where they parted ways, Michael going to his apartment, and Joe heading for the farm. On the way, Joe daydreamed about a time in the future when an encounter with Michael might have a different ending.
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