Tales from Bentonville
By David Lee
Copyright © 2005, 2016
Copyright © 2005, 2016
At school on Monday, everyone was talking about Jerry's near-death experience. Most of the kids who knew John Tracewell, even slightly, assumed that he had intentionally tried to kill Jerry. The rest took their word for it.
An unexpected outcome from the accident was that many of the kids felt sympathy for Jerry. A number of them wondered what they could do to help him. Someone on student council suggested a fund-drive to buy him a new motorized bike. The vehicle was not insured against collision and everyone figured that John Tracewell's insurance wouldn't cover replacement costs.
Alex Albers was behind the whole thing, but wanted to remain anonymous. He, his brother, and Joel were active in collecting donations at lunchtime once the principal gave the okay for the fundraiser.
Many of the kids and staff dug into their pockets to contribute what they could. If all 450 kids in high school put in a dollar, Alex calculated that there would be enough to buy a new machine with some money left over. However, he knew that some kids didn't have much spare change with Christmas approaching. So, he put a couple of fives into the pot. When Alex wasn't looking, Joel slipped in a twenty. He was surprised at how good it felt to be helping someone else.
When they got to the table where Dan Tracewell was sitting, Dan pulled out a five-dollar bill and thrust into the collection box. Alex's face turned hard.
"We don't want blood-money. You can take it back."
"Please keep it," Dan pleaded. "I want to do this. I need to do this. I've been a real asshole to Jerry."
Alex looked at Allen and Joel for advice. They both shrugged. Alex's expression softened a little as he stared at Dan. Dan dropped his gaze as if in submission.
"Okay, you've been an asshole alright!" Alex said as he turned to go to another table. "This better not be a ploy to get Jerry to ask the judge to go easy on your stupid brother."
Dan shook his head.
Some of the girls who had second lunch period took over the duty after Joel and the Albers twins went on to their afternoon classes. By the end of the day, there was a grand total of $257.36. Alex gave the money to the principal's secretary for safe keeping so that no one would assume he or anyone else was making off with the funds. They would try again tomorrow to collect the rest.
As happens in small towns, someone got wind of the story and contacted a TV station in Cosgrove. The station management thought that it would make a great human interest story on a slow news day. The Honda dealer in Cosgrove saw the report and got into the act by calling the Bentonville high school principal the next day to offer a new moped at cost. Jerry would be taken care of.
Jerry saw the same newscast as he sat in front of his TV at home on Monday night. His eyes were filled with tears of joy on finding that his schoolmates would care enough, about a new kid with an unfortunate surname, to help cover his loss. Maybe the move to Iowa wasn't so bad after all. Maybe things were getting better.
John Tracewell sat at home on Monday night. Although his parents had come up with the bail, they were none too pleased with him at the moment. They couldn't imagine why he was turning out the way he was. This extra expense was going to cut into the money that they could spend on having a good time. How could he be such a nuisance?
John knew that he was in deep shit. He was going to have to straighten out. His court-appointed lawyer had told him to take whatever deal the prosecution made. If he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, the DA would not press for an attempted murder charge.
Of course, the district attorney knew that the charge would be hard to prove. He also knew that it would be difficult to show that John had been driving under the influence of drugs although it was fairly evident that he had been. When John was arrested, the garage at his house was reeking with the odor of marijuana smoke. He had claimed that he did that to calm his nerves after he had accidentally hit the moped. Again, it would be difficult for the authorities to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was lying.
There was an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance, but the amount of grass in John's stash prove to be just under the limit for being charged with possession with intent to deliver. John might go to jail for a couple of years or he could get off with a suspended sentence for the hit and run. Since Jerry didn't die, the penalty wouldn't be as great as it might have been, but John could be expelled from school and be forced to get a GED or go elsewhere to finish his senior year - whatever the outcome of the trial.
On Tuesday, Jerry was welcomed back to school like a war hero returning from overseas duty. Kids who had shunned or ignored him in the past were suddenly saying "hi" in the hall and asking how he was feeling. A number of girls wanted to mother him. In part, this was because of his celebrity status thanks to the TV report.
At Lunch, several kids offered to carry his tray and to have him sit at their tables, but Jerry chose to sit with the kids who had befriended him when it wasn't the "in" thing to do.
The welcome he got from Trent, Sara, Dane, Colt, and the Albers twins was genuinely friendly without being over the top. They chatted about things besides Jerry's ordeal. He was pleased. He didn't want pity. He wanted to feel like he was part of a normal group doing the ordinary things high school students did.
One of the topics of conversation was the Halloween dance at the church Dane and Colt attended. Pastor Dan was interested in having some wholesome activities for all of the youth in town. He didn't care what their religious leanings were; he wanted to give them something to do that didn't involve drugs, or vandalism, or getting into some other kind of trouble.
Dane suggested that everyone at the table should go as a group. They would all be welcome to invite a date or other friend if they liked. There wasn't any need to be concerned about pairing up. Everyone could go stag if they wanted to because there would be plenty of other kids to dance with once they were there.
His idea met with universal approval. Carrie smiled at Jerry knowing that she would get a chance to dance with the shy kid. She also nudged Dane with her foot to let him know that she knew what he was doing. Dane grinned at her in response.
At the end of the day on Tuesday, the Cosgrove Honda dealer, trailed by a reporter and camera operator, delivered the new moped to Jerry at school. The dealer's motives were not entirely altruistic. This was great PR! It would cost him buckets of money to get this much exposure on a commercial. More of the kids might want to buy a moped or a car from him if the delivery took place at Bentonville High at dismissal time. The camera would pan on the crowd and all of the parents and relatives would watch to see their darlings on TV. This was good stuff!
The remainder of the week moved along uneventfully for most of the kids in school. For John, who was home, this was not so. First, there was a hearing at which he pleaded "not guilty" because he was hoping for a better offer from the prosecution. Then, he was ordered to stay in his home unless accompanied by a parent. This part really pissed him off. He was, after all, 18 years of age - a legal adult. If he was going to be tried as an adult, he ought to be treated like one. He didn't need to be minded by his parents!
In the middle of the week, he got a call from Nate. The man wanted help with cooking a real batch of meth. Yes, he was aware of John's troubles, but that could be worked around if Nate picked him up late on Saturday night and got him home before dawn on Sunday. In light of his present situation, John refused to go, but Nate threatened to rough-up him if he didn't participate.
"I'm in too much trouble now. I'm not going to do it!"
"Then I'll see that your brother will be hurt bad enough so that he can never play basketball again. You be ready when I come."
The dance on Saturday night was a great success. Most of the kids showed up in costume and had a wonderful time. Dane was not particularly happy to see that Joel was in attendance. Joel was with Alicia Albers (the twin's younger sister). Alex was with a junior girl named, Bethany, who was a cheerleader. Alex and Joel were evidently double-dating. Alex's twin brother, Allen, was with Lori Fredrickson who was also on the cheering squad. The rest of the tablemates were there without dates except for Sara and Trent who were generally viewed as a couple.
Sometime in the middle of the evening, Dane was sitting by himself for a few minutes watching Colton dancing with Alicia who looked at him adoringly. Dane smiled. If she only knew!
His reverie was interrupted when Joel sat down next to him. Dane stiffened, but decided not get pissed off. They were in the church hall and that was no place to start something ugly.
"Dane, I want to ask you, in person, to forgive me," Joel whispered. "I'm really not like that guy in the bathroom that day - at least not when my meds are in synch. Thanks for not busting my face and thanks for not outing me."
Joel could tell that his words were getting through to the other boy by Dane's body-language. The stiffness was being replaced by a more relaxed posture.
"Okay, I suppose I can do that, but you caused a lot of hurt by your actions. You don't know what I went through for a couple of days and lonely nights before it got straightened out."
"Yeah, I think that I do. I had a friend back in Florida that I was "close to" until another guy came between us. It hurt for a long time. I'm over it now because I'm not around either of them to see it. I heard that they cheated on each other and broke up since then. It sucks big-time when I think about it."
Dane allowed himself to smile at Joel and was rewarded by a beautiful smile in return. Try as he would, Dane couldn't hold a grudge against Joel. The other boy had been so sincere in his apology; even to the point of sharing a very personal, painful experience.
"Hey Joel, are you moving in on my territory?" Colton asked quietly.
Neither Dane nor Joel had seen him return to the table they were sharing. Joel was startled. He was experiencing the "fight or flight" thing.
"I'm just giving you crap," Colt smirked as he stood with a hand on Dane's shoulder. "I know where I stand with this guy."
Joel smiled slightly in relief. He still couldn't relax entirely around either of the Johnson boys, but he felt like this was beginning to change. He really wanted to fit in. He rightly assumed that Colt's teasing had been an attempt to loosen them all up.
Dane offered to get them all some glasses of punch and left the other two alone. When he returned, he found that Joel was telling Colt a joke and both seemed to be having fun. It made him feel jealous momentarily, but he vowed to get over that. He had suffered before for jumping to conclusions and he wasn't going down that road again!
A couple of minutes later, Alex joined the trio. Dane got the sense that Alex was feeling disappointed that Joel was spending time with other people. Dane wasn't sure about the reliability of his personal gaydar. However, he was beginning to suspect that Colt had been correct in thinking that the other two boys in their company might be interested in each other. He would have to watch for the signs. He would compare notes with Colton later.
Dane was surprised when he found himself hoping that Joel wouldn't get hurt by the football hunk. At that point, he really knew that he wasn't staying angry with Joel. He couldn't worry about his wellbeing and hate him at the same time.
Carrie was possibly the happiest girl at the dance. Toward the end of it, Jerry asked her to go to a movie with him on the following Saturday night. He was nervous and blushing the whole time, but he got it done. His face lit up like a Christmas tree when she quickly said "yes." She had toyed with the idea of playing coy and letting him squirm, but decided against it. She really wasn't into playing games. She had wanted him to ask her out and he had done so. She smiled all the way home.
When the dance was over, Alex and Joel dropped off their dates at their respective homes. They had planned to spend the night at Alex's place, but Joel thought it might be awkward to sleep in the same house where his date lived so he had asked Alex to stay with him instead. The two were to be up early enough to go to mass with the Albers family and then to brunch.
Joel had felt somewhat guilty for asking Alicia to the dance because he didn't want to use her for "cover." She was a very nice girl. He was afraid that she might get her hopes up and be disappointed when he didn't want to go steady.
However, it had actually been Alex who had suggested the date. He had told Joel that his younger sister would like to get into the dating scene, but was too shy to get noticed. Alex had acted as if Joel would be doing her a big favor by escorting her to a mixer-type function where she could be seen. What girl wouldn't like to be there on the arm of a guy like him?
"After all, you aren't expected to marry her after one date," Alex had quipped. "It couldn't hurt your reputation to be seen with a pretty girl either."
Joel wondered if Alex had meant that it would be good for his reputation to be seen with a GIRL, period. He had not dated anyone in his time in Bentonville although a number of girls had made it obvious that they wouldn't have minded being in the company of a hot guy with a hot car and hot clothes.
Joel was equally curious about Alex's choice of dates. Bethany came from a very conservative family and would certainly not be likely to "put out" even for a football stud. Joel wondered if both were using the girls as camouflage.
At Joel's grandparent's place, the boys again opted to share the room with the twin beds. They stripped naked without hesitation and climbed under the covers. They talked for a while before dozing off.
"Joel tonight was great. I really appreciate having you as my buddy. I hope that we'll always be friends."
"I feel the same way. I just hope that I don't do something stupid that will make you hate me," Joel replied.
"There's nothing you could do or say to make me hate you; absolutely nothing."
Joel drifted off wondering if absolutely meant ABSOLUTELY. He hoped that it did.
Sometime around midnight when the party-goers were home sleeping, John saw Nate's car idling across the street from his house. He slipped out of the garage service door quietly and sprinted over to the passenger side.
John was scared. Nate was acting very strange. Nate handed John a newly rolled joint which he lit immediately. He needed to ease his mind. This all had a very bad feeling about it.
Bumping down the long lane to the abandoned farm buildings, Nate told John that there was a large bag of pot waiting for him and five crisp hundred dollar bills if the two could turn out a big batch of meth before dawn. John had to do whatever Nate wanted. He felt like he had sold his soul to the devil.
Alex woke up with a start realizing that he wasn't in his own bed. He looked across the room in the gray light of an early fall morning to view the form in the other bed. Joel looked so cute with his hair messed up. Alex wondered if his younger sister would become infatuated with this guy. He hoped not. She was too young to get serious about a guy. Besides, Alex still had hopes that Joel might become interested in him.
Dane awakened early on Sunday morning with the familiar feeling of Colt's morning wood pressed against his butt. The warmth of his lover's body was a source of comfort as well as pleasure. He matched his breathing with the rhythm of Colt's and was soon in dreamland again.
When he awoke for the second time, he could feel Colt's hand working its way slowly over his abs toward his stiff cock. He feigned sleep as he enjoyed the sensation of being fondled. When Colton's head went under the covers to allow him to taste Dane's precum, Dane's moans gave him away.
"Come on you faker, let's make love before we have to get ready for church." Colt giggled.
"Let's piss, brush our teeth, and clean up a little before we start. I can't hold it much longer."
After the boys had done what Dane suggested, they climbed back into bed to make out in earnest. Their play turned into passion and soon they were nursing on each other's cock. Although they didn't have a lot of time, they felt no reason to force each other to cum. The slow, sensuous sucking actually sped them toward their goal more quickly than if they had jacked each other furiously. Both felt their triggers trip at nearly the exact same millisecond.
Sated and satisfied, two boys whose breathing was still rapid stumbled into the shower together to get clean before dressing.
When Dan Tracewell awoke on Sunday morning, he went immediately to his brother's room. He was dismayed to find that the bed hadn't been slept in. He had a bad feeling about this. Surely John wouldn't have jumped bail and run off without leaving some kind of message for his younger brother. Dan closed the door and went down to breakfast. He wouldn't tell his parents. They could find out for themselves. He had the feeling that they didn't care a whole Hell of a lot what happened to either of their sons. When he had kids, he wasn't going to be like that.
On Sunday afternoon, Jerry drove his new moped to Miss Charlotte Webber's house. He had promised to visit her and he was bound to keep that commitment. Lottie was delighted that he had come.
"I want to thank you for saving my life; I owe you a lot." Jerry began.
"Nonsense!" she replied. (It seemed to be her favorite word.)
"I would like to shovel your walk and drive this winter to help pay you back."
"Well, young man, I will not let you do that unless I can pay you what it is worth. The guy that used to do it isn't very reliable. I have an electric-start snow blower you can use instead of a shovel. If you want the job, it's yours, but only if I pay you the going rate! Are we in agreement?"
"Yes, ma'am," Jerry answered.
Jerry accompanied Miss Charlotte up to her favorite room. It was a room that exuded happiness and contentment. Jerry felt comfortable there.
He admired her paintings and pottery. She was very good. He had been told that he had talent in those areas, but he felt that couldn't hold a candle to this work.
Lottie gave him a tour of the old house. She was watching him carefully as they went to the various rooms. Sometimes he smiled and at others, he frowned. When they ended up in Robbie's bedroom, Jerry's body gave an involuntary shudder.
"You feel it don't you?" Lottie stated.
"Yes, this is a place of great sadness. Someone died here. Was he close to you?"
"He was my brother. He took an overdose of sleeping pills because he couldn't face the hate that he felt from some other people when they found out that he was different - gay, as we would call it today."
"Jerry, do you know what a shaman is?"
"Uh, is it like a medicine man?"
"Well, something like that. You are thinking of what has been said about American Aborigines. People in all cultures have been recognized as having sensitivity to spiritual things. Some have been called wizards or witches or conjurors, high priest, or whatever. But, really they aren't strange. They simply have another sense that most people don't have; like perfect pitch in music. You have that don't you; the spiritual sensitivity, I mean?"
Jerry turned toward her in amazement as he nodded.
"Yes, ma'am, I have always seen things that most other people don't. It's not like 'I see dead people' or anything like that. I can feel things. I often know when something evil has happened in a place. I don't tell people about it because I have enough trouble over my name. People would think I was crazy!"
"We are kindred spirits," Lottie smiled. "I believe we were meant to meet. You have a gift and I would like to be able to help you understand it."
Jerry let out a big sigh. Charlotte wondered if she had said too much too quickly.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have presumed..." She said.
"No, I'm good with this. It's a relief to have someone to talk to. I thought maybe I really was going nuts or something."
The young teen and the old lady spent a couple of hours comparing notes on the feelings they had experienced. Jerry hadn't realized the passing of the time until he noticed that the sun was going down.
"I'd better get home soon because my parents will worry. They're pretty protective lately."
"Can't say as I blame them! Please call them to let them know you are okay," the old woman said as she handed him the cordless phone.
Before Jerry left, he hugged his "angel." She held on to him in response.
"It's been nice visiting with you Mr. Saxdorf. I hope we shall have this opportunity again."
"Thanks, Miss Charlotte, but I'm afraid my name is 'Sucksdorf.' That sort of sucks, doesn't it?"
"Well, if I know my genealogy, your name was 'Saxdorf' back in the middle ages. I have a distant relative by that name. It was spelled: 'S-a-c-k-s-d-o-r-f' after they came to this continent. Before spelling was standardized there were several variations of it. Someone probably copied it incorrectly in your line turning the "a" into a 'u" and made it into the name you have today."
"Wow, are you sure?"
"You have just made my day! I'm going to tell my parents. Maybe I will get to have a new name after all. I like the sound of Saxdorf. It sounds like the guy who invented the saxophone - kind of 'saxy'!"
They both laughed.
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