Copyright © 2016
by David Lee
by David Lee
By the time he arrived at the farm, Joe was calm and relaxed again, though he wished he'd brought along a granola bar to chew on. His stomach was growling.
During those few miles, he had replayed in his mind what had transpired in the locker room. He realized that it had been wrong of him to tempt his coach. Normally, he tried to keep his libido in check. However, today he'd been horny to the max. Even seeing Michael in his coaching shorts had turned him on. That bulge had made him certain that Michael was hung like a horse. At least, he'd been able to confirm his suspicion!
Then, when he'd felt so guilty, Michael had let him know it was okay. He loved the man more than ever! He might have to postpone what he desired to do, but he would be an adult and suck it up. He could scarcely wait until he could suck something else!
Bob Johnson greeted him warmly, as usual.
"How 'bout a snack before you start? I'll bet you burned a lot of calories at practice today and then riding out here. I don't know how you do it all. I knew you were our school's best runner, but I had no idea your grades were so good until I read the sports page."
"Thanks, and I do feel a little hungry today," Joe blushed at the compliments.
"Caddy just pulled several loaves of fresh-baked bread out of the oven. We'll put butter and cheese on a few slices and wash 'em down with cold milk. I remember how I could eat at your age, and still stay trim."
Joe was thankful for the food. The adrenalin he'd expended watching his coach blow his load had sent his blood-sugar level into a tail-spin. This would tide him over nicely.
Later that night, a few blocks apart, a man and a boy climbed into their respective beds, naked and hard. Both relived their afternoon experience as they moved speedily toward another orgasm.
When it was over, they wiped up with their underwear and quickly fell asleep. Their dreams were punctuated with images of each other.
On Saturday night, Maria invited Michael over for dinner again. She made fajitas, knowing that was his favorite. She was grateful for everything he'd done for her grandson, but beyond that, she loved him like a son. She wished that someday he could be a part of her family.
Michael had wondered how Joe would react when in his presence again. The kid had been thoroughly embarrassed the day before. Would the evening be awkward?
He had his answer the moment he entered the house and received a hurried, but loving hug at the door.
Conversation around the table was easy and friendly. Michael felt like he was with family. Things between Joe and him hadn't suffered because of recent events.
When Maria sent Joe to the store on his bike to buy the ice cream she'd "forgotten" to pick up, she told Michael that her income tax refund had come, and that it was far more than she'd expected.
"I can repay you for your loan toward Joe's bicycle now."
"I don't want to be repaid. It was a gift! That money should go into your car fund. You know the one you have isn't gonna last forever."
"Okay, if you insist, that's what I'll do then. You love my grandson, don't you?" she said, looking at him evenly.
"Does the prospect scare you?" he replied, not denying the fact.
"Not at all!"
"It scares me! What if he goes off to the university and finds someone cute who's closer to his age?"
"He loves you."
"But long-distance relationships often don't last, especially when you're young."
"Joe will be loyal. You've given him a new life. If you're really worried, perhaps you could visit him some weekends, or find a way to shorten the distance between you."
"Perhaps I can. I can't help noticing how casual you are about the idea of two males caring about one another. You were raised Catholic, weren't you? Didn't you hear quotes from Leviticus?"
"I still take the sacraments and I have faith in God. But, I don't put much stock in some of the Church's positions. Some of the priests get up in the pulpit and preach about what a sin it is for two men to lie together. Then they take off their vestments and use altar-boys for their pleasure, sometime in the sacristy! I do not understand such hypocrisy!
"But, to get off of my soapbox, I see hope for the future because Pope Francis is beginning to open the church doors to gays and lesbians as well as people who've been divorced and remarried. He seems to think that a moral code should be applied with common sense, and not be turned into stones to hurl at those who don't exactly fit into the black and white world the church used to maintain."
"I agree with you, and the Pope, totally. You have the right attitude. It's not a merciful God who condemns these people; it's the humans who stray from His ways who want to punish others.
"Um, not to change the subject, but did I hear you refer to your grandson as 'Joe' instead of 'Jose'?"
"Yes, it's what he wants and I'll respect his wishes. He'd change his last name to 'Bartacek' given half a chance," Maria grinned.
"I'd be in favor of sharing my surname with him, but I hope he'll learn to embrace his heritage."
"I do too. At least I'm teaching him to make your favorite Mexican dishes. Did you notice how much of the meal he prepared tonight?"
"Yup! He's gonna make someone a fine husband…"
"You might consider being that someone."
This year, Michael had several boys who competed well enough to participate in the Drake Relays in the spring. The relay team, which included Joe and Peter, took second in the state. The boys were as thrilled as if they'd won the lottery. Achieving those results against students from much larger districts was a coup. The label, "Cinderella-team" was attached to their names in many articles and sportscasts.
The honors reinforced Michael's faith in Joe's abilities. He knew that his favorite student was capable of competing at the college level in the coming year. Joe was on his way!
Graduation was a solemn occasion for the seniors of Franklin High. In some of the larger schools, kids looked for ways to be rowdy, but for the students of this small community, it was a sacred occasion. It marked their passage to adulthood. Many of them would enter the workforce soon. Some would take a year or two of junior college, but few would go on to a university.
Joe was among those privileged ones in the latter category. He had the grades, test scores, and the financial assistance necessary to attain a higher standard of living through additional education. He had his ticket to rise from the general poverty of the area.
Joe had the highest total grade-point in the class, but he was awarded the honor of a salutatorian instead of the valedictorian. Franklin had a policy that only those who spent all four years there were eligible. Someone in the past had felt that kids might transfer in from schools that had lower standards.
Ironically, Joe had a four-point average in all of the classes he'd taken at Franklin, while the girl who got the top honor had a total of 3.95. The title wouldn't affect his success one way or the other at the university, but he was the one who should have received it.
For him, the only positive note was that he didn't have to give a speech. He had come out of his shell in the past year and a half, but he still didn't like speaking in front of a large crowd.
All of the seniors looked good in their caps and gowns. Some of the schoolboard members had balked at the notion of subsidizing part of the cost. The kids could simply wear whatever dress clothes they had. Mr. Prentice knew some of his students were dirt-poor, and he insisted that no one should have to feel ashamed of their attire for this once-in-a lifetime occasion. The robes tended to put them on a more level playing field.
Joe looked especially good in his blue robe. The color accented his blue-black hair.
Maria almost cried when she realized how grown up he appeared. He would be out in the world all too soon! She prayed that he would succeed.
A few of the kids would have their own graduation parties, but most would go to the big one sponsored by the same two churches that organized the Halloween dance. Many of their parents would chip in what they could to help defray the cost. Maria happily made her contribution.
There was lots of food, a volleyball net set up on the town square, and a section marked off for playing flag football. Most of Sunday afternoon was spent in celebration.
It seemed like half the town turned out, but miraculously, the food didn't run out. Father Brown had offered to bring loaves and fishes in case it did.
Summer moved along more rapidly than any of the students wanted it to. The teachers would have been happy to slow it down too. Michael took a slightly heavier course-load online, while still maintaining the cycling club. He also had four new students who wanted to be tutored for the ACT exams. Fortunately, Joe, John, and Peter rotated times around their jobs to help the younger ones. It freed Michael up a bit, and allowed the guys to pay forward what they'd received from him. Michael was thrilled! He had heard from some missionaries about students in Brazil doing that very thing to help those coming up, just as others had helped them. His guys were starting the same tradition in Iowa.
Joe's motives were, perhaps, not entirely altruistic. Being a tutor allowed him to spend more time with the man he loved. Even if he couldn't share his bed, he could at least breathe the same air.
In early September, just after Joe's 18th birthday, Maria and Michael helped Joe pack his belongings into Michael's SUV to head for Iowa State. Maria's car wasn't big enough to take his stuff and the three of them as well. Besides, it wasn't 100% reliable for the distance they had to travel.
(A week before, Joe had been contacted by his assigned roommate to see if they could share equipment instead of duplicating everything. Kevin was bringing a fair sized bar fridge, and Joe said he would supply the microwave. He hadn't mentioned that he would have to buy it, but was relieved that he didn't need to purchase a fridge as well.)
Joe got to the dorm first, and chose the bed he liked best. Maria began to make it up with the new extra-long twin sheets and a new blanket, while the guys carried up the rest of his belongings. All of his new acquisitions had been paid for with life insurance money. Joe was reminded of his mother often in the process.
The last thing to unload was Joe's bike, which he quickly secured in one of the racks, using two cable locks. There were fancier ones parked nearby, but he was taking no chances with his prized possession.
While Joe was taking care of that, Michael moved his Subaru out of the half-circle drive so that someone else could have the spot. He had to park a couple of blocks away, due to heavy concentration of vehicles that always accompanied the moving-in process.
Michael and Maria stayed with Joe in the room for a while. They were there long enough to meet Kevin and his parents. Kevin seemed like a nice kid, but he made Michael's gaydar alarm go off. How would Joe live in the same room without being tempted? Oh well, what would be, would be. Joe would have to navigate his own way through his college experiences. Michael had better not act jealous or he could really mess things up!
Kevin's parents left the minute his belongings were unloaded. They had to drive back to the Chicago suburbs, and wanted to get a start on their six-hour trip.
Michael took Joe, Kevin, and Maria out for dinner at a reasonably-priced steak house he had frequented when he was in school and his family wanted to treat him to something a cut above cafeteria fare.
Everyone thanked Michael for picking up the tab; Kevin was especially demonstrative. His hug set Michael's gaydar off again. Damn!
When it came time for Maria and Michael to leave, Joe followed them down to the car. The sky had clouded over, and it looked like the threatened storm would move in any minute. Joe welcomed the early darkness because it would screen something he wanted to do.
Joe hugged his grandma, giving her a kiss on the cheek. Then, he hugged Michael with tears in his eyes.
"I love you," he whispered in his ear, "and I'm gonna miss you like crazy!"
"I love you, too," Michael replied softy. "Please don't forget about me."
"You know I won't! You're the best thing that ever happened to me. We'll email or Skype often."
Then, for the first time, Joe pulled their faces together and they kissed.
The storm did hit about the time Michael and Maria got on the road. There was quite a bit of lightning, rain, and wind, but, fortunately, no hail. While his SUV wasn't new, it was in good shape, and Michael would hate to have it battered.
About 40 miles into the return trip, they drove out of the mess. There were even a few bright streaks in the sky from the setting sun. The rest of their drive was quiet and uneventful.
Michael turned on his laptop the minute he got back to his apartment. Opening his email, he found a message from Joe. It took only a minute for him to respond. Soon, they switched to IM, allowing them to "talk" more easily. Joe said he might try to Skype when his roommate wasn't around. He wasn't sure how much he dared say in his presence.
They decided not to be completely open about their relationship, but agreed that they wouldn't panic if people found out. They were adults, and Michael was no longer in a position of authority over Joe. At this point, they were free to share their love if the opportunity arose.
Joe was relieved that Michael had been okay with their kiss. Grandma had already let him know that she approved of their mutual feelings of affection, so he hadn't worried about being so bold in front of her.
Both of them were thankful for Grandma!
Franklin High was definitely a different place for Coach Bartacek since Joe was off to the university. He hadn't had Joe in class all of last year because he didn't teach the government sections that seniors were required to take. Still, when it came to cross-country and the locker room after practice, his presence was greatly missed.
A few of Michael's up and coming track stars hung around like Joe had. Their company helped fend off the loneliness, but they didn't stir Michael's loins. That was good! It reinforced his belief that he wasn't, at heart, a boy-lover. There was only one young man who motivated his desire.
Away at school, Joe was extremely busy as he adjusted to college life. He was participating in cross-country as well as taking a reasonably heavy course-load. Fortunately, he had good study habits, and wasn't on a quest to party and get laid like some of his classmates were. He couldn't understand how they could spend so many hours socializing and still expect to get their work done.
When midterm tests came, they would probably rue their lack of responsibility, but at present, that reality hadn't set in.
Joe could have remained in the room more often to study since he had his laptop and wireless connection, but he felt that the atmosphere of the library was more conducive to staying on task. Besides, he had picked up vibes about Kevin's orientation, and didn't want to get hit on.
Kevin had recently made a new friend named Jordan who, Joe thought, was probably also gay. Hopefully, the guy would become an outlet for Kevin's needs, if Joe's suspicions proved true.
One evening when he had gone to the library right after dinner, someone reported smelling gas in the facility and it was immediately evacuated. Joe would have to break his usual routine. He joined a few fellow scholars at the student union in hopes of studying there. The place turned out to be too noisy, and all of them decided to go back to their rooms.
Joe's unannounced arrival interrupted a tryst between Kevin and Jordan. The scene of boys naked and in the 69 position didn't shock Joe, but it did put a crimp in his study plans.
Instead of appearing embarrassed about being discovered in a compromising position, the two lovers invited him to join them.
"Get your clothes off!" Kevin insisted. "I've always wanted to do a three-way."
"Um, thanks, but I'm not interested." Joe replied.
"Come on," Kevin continued. "I saw you kiss your friend Michael before he left, so I know which way you swing. Don't worry, he'll never know what goes on when he's not here."
"I'm in love with him, and I can't break his trust."
"We're all too young to settle down to one guy!" Jordan exclaimed. "It's stupid to let some dude control your life, especially when he's not around to take care of you."
"He doesn't control me; I love him!"
"Whatever. If you're gonna be a wet blanket, why don't you find someplace else to be for another hour?"
Joe left, picking up his backpack and heading for the lounge. Someone had the TV cranked up watching a football game. Joe fashioned a couple of earplugs from pieces of tissue and spit so that he could block out most of the noise. It peeved him that he couldn't use his own desk in the room he shared. Oh well, better to get his work done than to stew over the inconvenience.
He was finished in half an hour, and used the rest of his time to IM Michael about the scenario with Kevin and Jordan. He didn't want to keep anything from his lover, even if he hadn't succumbed to temptation.
Maria didn't have a computer, and her phone plan didn't allow for a lot of long-distance communication with her grandson. Therefore, she relied on Michael to keep her up to date. Occasionally, Michael would invite her over for supper, and they would Skype with Joe. She loved being able to see and hear him, but she didn't want to intrude into their time together. She always excused herself early to walk the short distance home.
When they were alone, the guys would share things that they could do only in private. Joe had struck a bargain with Kevin so that he had at least a couple of hours a week alone in their shared room. In return, Joe gave him a schedule of when he'd be out. If there were an emergency like with the gas leak, Joe would text Kevin to let him know he was coming back. That would avoid any embarrassment for all concerned.
Joe continued to keep his nose to the grindstone, while his roommate seemed to be grinding with as many boys as he could. As a result, Joe scored well on his midterm exams. He had nothing below a B+, which was a remarkable achievement for a first-term freshman.
Kevin got all D's and F's. His parents came to get him the following weekend. They were going to send him to Harper Junior College until his grades improved. Out-of-state tuition was too much of an expenditure to throw down the drain!
For the rest of the term, Joe would live alone. He had no problem with that!
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