Tales from Bentonville
By David Lee
Copyright © 2005, 2016
Copyright © 2005, 2016
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break seemed interminable to the teens at Bentonville High, but it didn't take very long in actuality. Winter concerts and a number of sports events helped to pass the time.
Alex continued to go to Joel's place to be tutored every week. It did help him focus on the work - well most of the time. Sometimes he really wanted to stare at Joel; just drink in the beauty of this lithe, handsome guy.
He was to the point of not needing help, but he wasn't about to admit that. If he did, what excuse could he use for their sessions together? He had come to cherish that time.
Joel was aware that Alex didn't need that much help. Hell, Allen could probably provide it now. But Joel didn't want that to happen. If he couldn't hold this stud in his arms, he could at least enjoy the closeness and the scent of the guy he had come to care about deeply. Joel sighed every time he thought of Alex. Damn! Why did life have to be so complicated?
Most of the students turned out for the home basketball games. There was little other entertainment in Bentonville. In the game against their archrivals from Hampton, it was Dan Tracewell's three-pointer that won the game in overtime just as the buzzer sounded. The home crowd went wild. The good-looking young man was hugged and "high-fived" by his coach and teammates. Like his older brother, Dan was sporting a new clean-cut look that gave him new status at school.
Dan was second-string and would never have had the chance to play in this game had not a senior forward fouled out in the third quarter. In a small school, the bench isn't too deep. The young sophomore had jumped in and proved his worth. His ribs had healed nicely and he had trained hard. He had held back nothing as he helped his team to victory.
For the first time in his adolescent years, he felt good about himself without needing to be spaced out on pot. When his teammates and coach let him go, he got affectionate swats on the butt from John and Darrin who had watched his every move on the court.
Miss Charlotte was there too. Darrin had invited her to go with John and him because he knew that she didn't get out as much after dark since her night vision wasn't what it had been. She had been delighted to be asked to join the men who were younger than her grandchildren. They treated her as a friend rather than a meddlesome old lady! When John had opened the front passenger door for her, she had insisted on riding in back.
"Young men should be up front, not old ladies," she had laughed.
"Nonsense!" was John's joking reply - using her favorite exclamation.
The humor wasn't lost on Lottie, but she got her way and sat in back regardless.
When Dan joined them after he had showered and all were going out for pizza, Miss Charlotte feigned fatigue and asked to be dropped off at home. She would have loved to have accompanied them, but she wanted the young people to have their fun without having an elderly person put a damper on it. Besides, the Pizza Hut would be crowded and noisy. She was ready for some quiet.
Since it was a Friday night, Dan had packed a few changes of clothes in order to stay over with John and Darrin. That was becoming the usual arrangement. Dan wished it could be permanent.
On Saturday, Darrin took the Tracewell Brothers to the mall in Coralville. It was the biggest one in the area and filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas. He slipped each of them a couple of twenty dollar bills to buy whatever they wanted for Christmas. It took the boys a few hours of exploring before they made any purchases. Both of them sneaked off to buy something for Darrin. It wouldn't be a big gift because they had little money. But it would be a great gift because it was from the heart. John had some good ideas of what Darrin would like.
On Sunday morning, Darrin asked if anyone wanted to go to First Lutheran with him. He was quite surprised and pleased that both brothers said that they would. Neither had had any church experience other than the occasional wedding or funeral; however, they were willing to go if only to please their host.
"I'm not pushing you guys," Darrin insisted. "I didn't start going back to church until last year. I blamed God for taking my family away from me. But, I heard Pastor Swenson on a radio spot talking about bad things happening to good people. What he said made sense. He said that God doesn't MAKE the bad things happen. If God controlled everything and made it happen a certain way, we would have no free-will. I think I get it. Anyway, I stopped being pissed with God."
"I've never known the Dude well enough to be pissed at him, I guess," John joked. "Do you think the walls will fall down if I step into the church?"
John and Dan were surprised to see a number of familiar faces at First Lutheran. Besides the minister whom they had met before, there was Jerry looking like an angel in his white acolyte's robe seated near another similarly, clad kid from school. In addition, they recognized Jerry's family, Carrie and her family, Miss Charlotte, and some school kids that they didn't know by name, but knew by face.
In the middle of the prayer of confession, John nearly choked up on the words: "Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open us to a future in which we can be changed; and grant us the grace to grow more into your likeness..." What some people were mouthing unconsciously, John was taking to heart.
In his homily, Pastor Swenson talked about being called by God. He said that being called didn't mean that a person had to be a minister, but that he or she was being asked to be the best person they could be in their lives and in using the talents they had been given. He invited each one to look inside to see how God could use them to help right the wrongs that they saw in the world. Would each person consider making the world a better place for others as well as for themselves?
"Remember," he concluded, "God seeks us before we are even aware that we need him."
John and Dan remained in the pew while Darrin went to the rail to take communion. Neither of the Tracewell's had been baptized. Both were thinking that maybe they had missed something in their lives besides loving parents.
Judge Gerick didn't miss the fact that John was in church and that he appeared far different from the ratty-looking teen who had had tea with Lottie recently. If this was a real transformation, the judge would have a difficult time sentencing this kid to an adult prison. The nice looking young man would be eaten up in a place like that.
Colt and Dane were excited to have Wade and Roger arrive two days before Christmas. Sharon and Dwayne came early on Christmas Eve Day. That evening, they exchanged presents after dinner. All would attend services with Greta later that night.
The boys got a few new clothes as well as a couple of gift certificates from their parents. Greta had given them both sturdy, light-weight luggage. Toward the end of the gift exchange, Wade gave the boys a couple of envelopes. Inside were plane tickets and a note from Wade and Roger. It explained that the four of them would be going to Mexico for a week beginning the day after Christmas. Now, the guys understood why they had been pushed to get their passports early.
Their destination was an area south of Cancun. There was a huge area of beaches with the possibility of snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours, and sight-seeing adventures. The resort where they were booked had suffered mild damage in the last hurricane season, but had been rebuilt and was ready for the onrush of winter tourists.
The boys were thrilled. They had overheard Joel and Alex talking about going to Belize over break and had been somewhat jealous if truth be told. Neither Dane nor Colton had ever been outside of the United States. Few people in Bentonville had either. They would be the envy of their peers. They just had to try to keep cool and not act like world travelers.
The boys were surprised that all of the family had been able to keep the secret until that moment. No one had slipped at all. DJ had even talked about taking them to the health club over break.
Everyone bundled up and faced the chilly evening to go to church. Wade and Roger weren't that regular about participating in organized religion, but they went with the rest of the extended family because it gave them a warm feeling. They felt welcome in the church that Greta attended. They knew that it had been good for Dane and Colt. They were touched by the readings and choir selections. It seemed like the right place to be.
That night, Dane and Colt made love as quietly as possible because Wade and Roger were staying across the hall again. It was difficult, but since their mouths were both stuffed with hot sausages, they managed.
At this point in their relationship, it wasn't all horny, hot sex. They really, truly loved each other and did their best to please each other. The pleasuring began slowly and gently. They bathed each other's nearly hairless balls lovingly. Each used long, sensuous sucking strokes to stimulate his partner. Their juices were roiling long before their final release. Toward the end, their heads were bobbing steadily and quickly.
When their orgasms hit, it was almost unexpectedly fast even though they had teetered on the edge for several long minutes. It felt exciting; like the initial drop when going on the parachute jump at an amusement park. There was a moment of free-fall followed by the familiar expulsion of hot cum.
After giving each other's softening dick a quick tongue-bath, the two drifted off in each other's arms.
On Christmas Eve day, Dan felt that he probably should spend at least part of the evening with his parents. He wasn't sure that they would care, but he wanted to give them a chance. Given his success in basketball, they might be proud of him.
He was hoping that they might invite John and Darrin to come for dinner or possibly that they would take all three out to eat in Cosgrove. He would speak to his mother about it and try to get something going.
When he entered the kitchen of his family's home, the acrid odor of stale cigarette smoke hit him like a brick wall. He had forgotten how bad it was. Since he spent a lot of time away, he was more sensitive to the smell now.
From the living room, an old familiar face appeared. It was "Uncle Marv." Dan could feel his gorge rise as the man hurried across the room toward him. Marvin wrapped his arms around Dan.
"Give old Uncle Marv a big wet one, son."
Dan pulled back and slugged Marvin as hard as he could. The surprised man lay on his back rubbing his cracked jaw as Dan picked up the still-burning butt of Marv's cigarette. He came menacingly toward the man on the floor.
"Hey little, Marvin, this is your 'Uncle Dan.' You know how to please me don't you? Pull down your pants so Uncle Dan can show you what happens to bad boys who don't do what Uncle Dan tells them to."
Marvin was skittering away from Dan like a crab on the beach, his eyes bright with fear. He found that he had backed up against a wall and could go no further. Dan pressed forward, the cigarette between his thumb and fingers pointing out like a weapon.
"Pull your nasty old weenie out because I'm gonna burn it the way you did mine, you worthless piece of dog shit!"
"Now, Dan, you know that was an accident. I was helping you with your pajamas and it slipped."
With that, Dan kicked the supine man in the ribs with a resounding thud. There was no snapping sound, but Marvin yelped in pain.
"Get away from him," Dan's mother ordered. "You're a bad as you brother! I've called the sheriff to have you arrested. I hope they send you off to reform school. Look at the way you have both turned out after all we've done for you."
"What the fuck did you ever do for me MOTHER? Other than bring us into the world and let us be molested by this fucking pervert, what did you do for either of us?"
"Daniel Otis Tracewell, you apologize to Uncle Marv and help him up right now."
"The Hell I will! Do you have any idea what he did to John and me? He used us! He had sex with two innocent little boys. He's a fucking monster."
Marvin broke into the screaming match at that point.
"Now, Marian, I'm sure that Dan doesn't mean those awful things. He's just upset for some reason. You don't need to call the cops."
"They are on their way. I think I hear a car in the drive right now," she said.
As Dan's mother let Deputy Anders in the front door, Marvin was edging toward the back door. He tried making a run for it, but Dan tackled him at the last moment.
"Okay, what's going on?" Anders demanded of the two on the floor.
"Just a little misunderstanding," Marv offered. "We can sort it out by ourselves. There's no need for the law to be involved. I don't want to hurt this boy's chances of staying on the basketball team."
Dan stood up with a determined look in his eyes. He was not going to let this bastard off the hook even if he never played ball on any team again.
"This piece of shit molested me and my brother when we were little. I bet he's done it to others. I'll file charges right now if you take us to the station. I can't stand the thought that he might fuck-up some other innocent kid."
"Well, let's all go to the station and get to the bottom of this," the deputy commanded.
Marvin Wold knew that he was in trouble. Even in this hick town they could probably check up on him. He was toast. He pretended to go along quietly until they were outside. His car was parked at the curb, and he made a lunge for it before Anders could stop him.
However, just as he had managed to get the door open, the deputy got a cuff on one wrist and was struggling to attach one to the other hand. Dan grabbed Marv roughly and forced him into a position that allowed Anders to finish the job.
"Thanks son," he said. "Since this man seems very eager to get out of here, I suspect that everything you've told me is true and that we have reason to invite him to stay.
As Marv had feared, it was only a matter of seconds before his face and profile came up on the sheriff's computer screen once they got to the station.
"It looks like this guy is a real piece of work," Sheriff Larkin nodded. "We'll probably have to send him back to Indiana. I have a strong feeling that he's violating his parole. I'll phone them to see what he has left on his sentence and then we can decide how to proceed with your complaint."
"Is it okay if I call John?" Dan asked.
John arrived a few minutes later. Darrin was on duty until 5:00, so John had to walk since his car hadn't been released yet. When he came in the door and saw Marvin, his face became as hard as stone.
"You low-life son-of-a-bitch!" he spat. "You promised that you would leave Dan alone. You told me that if I let you use me, you wouldn't do it to him. You fucking asshole!"
Sheriff Larkin wasn't happy with the scene or the language, but as long as no one was being injured, he allowed John to unleash his venom. Personally, the sheriff would like to have made a punching bag out of this monster for hurting these kids.
After John's rage subsided, he felt weak. When Dan put his arms around him, he couldn't hold back. Both brothers sobbed until they had wet each other's shirts through.
The Indiana authorities informed Larkin that since Marvin Wold had violated his parole agreement, he would be put back in prison to serve the remaining 25 years of his sentence. They would be happy to file additional charges since the crimes against the brothers had occurred in that state. They asked if Iowa would keep Marv as their "guest" until after Christmas because they were a bit short-handed and couldn't send someone immediately to pick him up. The sheriff said he would be more than happy to have Marv as a boarder over the holiday.
Dan and John were surprised when Darrin arrived at the sheriff's office. It seems that Larkin had called the emergency squad to see if they could allow him to come as long as he kept his pager on in case he was needed. Because it wasn't a busy day; the sheriff's request had been granted.
Darrin's appearance triggered more tears as he pulled the brothers into a three-way hug. Both boys spilled their guts about most of the things that "Uncle Marv" had force them to do. The quick-thinking sheriff had whipped out a recorder to get every word.
When they were all talked out, Darrin suggested that the three of them, accompanied by Deputy Anders, go over to confront the boys' mother with the facts. The sheriff agreed that it would be a good thing to have "the law" present in the discussion, which he assumed would turn into a shouting match at the very least.
Marian Tracewell was not at all happy to see the delegation on her front step. She nearly didn't answer the bell.
"Aren't you going to arrest this boy for assault?" she asked.
"You should be arrested on charges of neglect and child endangerment for allowing your children to be abused!" Darrin shouted in return.
It might have escalated from there, but Anders stepped in.
"If your son beat the living daylights out of that pervert, he should get a gold medal rather than a reprimand. Did you know that Marvin Wold was serving a 30-year sentence for child molestation? He was let out on parole after five years, but he skipped out and will be going back to serve the rest without any chance of parole. After what your sons say he did to them, I'm guessing he could die in stir."
Marion Tracewell didn't seem to get it. She kept ranting about how Dan had spoiled her Christmas and how the boys had been such a disappointment to their parents. Her husband would be very angry when he got home. She finished by saying that she wished she never had to see either one of them again.
"I'm going to make that wish come true." Darrin said in a deadly quiet voice. (He sounded like "Dirty Harry" saying: "Make my day!") "Dan, I want you to pack your things - everything. Don't leave so much as a dirty sock! You're moving in with John and me. You're going to a place where someone will care about you."
"Yeah, you probably want to do to him what he claims Marv did to him," Dan's mother sneered.
"Woman, you're lucky that I'm a gentleman or I would slap that look off your face so hard you'd find yourself in the middle of next week!"
Darrin's words and the vehemence with which they were delivered produced an effect nearly as strong as a physical blow. Marion retreated into the kitchen while her sons gathered Dan's possessions and Darrin and the deputy waited in the living room.
Dan had a little too much stuff to fit into Darrin's car along with three guys, so Anders helped load the rest into the patrol car. He was sure that the tax-payers wouldn't mind paying for a few miles of transportation on a mission of mercy at holiday time. Hell, he'd throw in a couple of gallons of gas on his own. If anyone complained, they could stuff it!
By the time they got Dan's possessions into Darrin's already over-crowded apartment, it was nearing 5:00 p.m. Darrin's pager went off and he called in immediately. It was his supervisor telling him not to come back in because nothing was going on. And, she wished him a Merry Christmas.
Minutes later, the phone rang. It was Lottie Webber this time.
"A little bird told me that I might find three young men who would have supper with me. Emma and I are going to make a light meal of soup and sandwiches. We're going to the 7:00 o'clock service, so dress accordingly if you want to go. If not, I would like you to stay here until we come back."
Darrin took a quick poll of his buds and found that they were happy to go to Miss Charlotte's and to church afterwards. (They were ready for anything that would distract them after their dreadful afternoon.) He conveyed the message to a delighted old lady.
Then the guys scrambled to get themselves presentable. Three nearly naked young men crowded into the small bathroom was quite a sight. They did their best to do a quick wash-up and apply fresh deodorant before dressing and checking their hair.
That which Miss Charlotte had termed a light meal turned out to be a bountiful supper. For some reason (that she hadn't question), she had felt the urge to make a large pot of home-made ox tail soup with vegetables and barley. It had been on the stove all afternoon filling the house with its rich aroma. When Sheriff Larkin had called her about the plight of the Tracewell boys, she knew why the soup had been needed. She and Emma had already planned to eat together as they traditionally did. Now, it would be a party!
Tomorrow, they would roast a large turkey. At the time when she had purchased it, Lottie had been rather upset that there were no smaller birds to be had in town. Now, she saw the reason for the bigger one. She and Emma would feed these young men again tomorrow. She would see that they had a good Christmas. She would share the bounty that God have provided her. She still had a purpose in life - in this town.
The early Christmas Eve at First Lutheran was heavily attended by families with young children and older people who didn't want to drive late at night. Dan and John welcomed the music, scripture readings, and candles that took their minds off of their own lives for the time being. They were greeted by members of the congregation who went out of their way to make the young men feel welcome. It felt good - like they belonged. Before they left, Jerry came up and hugged all three of the young men.
After they had dropped Lottie and Emma off at their respective homes, the three guys went back to Darrin's messy apartment. The disarray was, of course, created by the addition of Dan's things and the fact that there had been not time to deal with finding a place for them.
Darrin sensed that the heavy mood of the afternoon was about to close in on his two friends again, so he proposed "playing sleepover."
"Let's pull the two mattresses off of the beds in our room and put them together on the living room floor. I'll make popcorn while you guys put blankets and pillows down and we'll watch a video. Then, we can shower and all sleep out here together."
The Tracewell boys couldn't remember ever having a real sleepover and thought it would be fun. They might be a little old for this, but Hell, it was Christmas Eve! They pitched in to make one huge king sized sleeping area while Darrin took care of the eats. They all sprawled on the floor watching an old movie while munching on the treats.
Later, Darrin suggested that Dan take his shower first so he could give him a backrub to help him sleep. Dan did as he was asked. John watched the massaging process for a while before going to take his shower.
When John returned, he saw that Dan had fallen asleep on the far side of on of the mattresses. He asked Darrin if he could have a massage too. Darrin complied. John loved the feeling of human touch. He craved it. For most of his life, he had known contact to mean hurt or punishment rather than love. This felt good - like someone cared. He moaned lowly in appreciation.
After John seemed to be dozing off, Darrin got his own shower. He came back to slip into bed next to John who was in the middle. John was not asleep. In fact, he had been lying awake waiting for Darrin to return. When Darrin got into bed, John said that he would like to return the favor by giving Darrin a backrub. Darrin turned over and lay on his stomach while John tried to replicate the moves Darrin had used on him.
For Darrin, it felt surprisingly good. John was a quick learner. Darrin found himself uttering some contented sounds. John smiled in the knowledge that he was pleasing Darrin. He wanted so much to please him.
As John moved up to work on Darrin's shoulders a second time, he and Darrin were both aware that a hot, firm part of John's anatomy was brushing against Darrin's butt. Darrin felt a flood of warmth spread throughout his body beginning at the contact point. John pulled back hastily realizing what had happened.
"I'm sorry," John muttered. I'm not trying to do anything bad."
"I know," sighed Darrin. "Don't worry about it. Everything's cool."
A few minutes later, Darrin fell into a contented sleep. John lay awake for a while contemplating the day's events and his feeling toward Darrin.
Alex spent most of Christmas Eve Day with his family. He had called Joel in the afternoon and the two had gotten on their computers to IM for a bit after that. It was mostly about the trip they would be taking in a couple of days. Both were excited.
Joel's grandparents had been especially solicitous in recent days. They were trying to make up for how his parents had treated him at Thanksgiving. He knew what they were doing and he appreciated it - even when Grandma gave him a kiss every night before he went up to his room. They were really special. They hadn't treated him a bit differently since the revelation that he was gay.
Weeks before, the boys had arranged for their families to go to midnight mass together. Alex's mother had invited Joel and his grandparents over for dinner that night. Her kids were going to open gifts the next day anyway, so it would not interfere with the family celebration. She had extended the invitation early enough so that Jane hadn't already made preparations for Christmas Eve.
Lori Albers put on a great dinner. She had hired help for the preparation and serving so that she could enjoy more time with her guests. Her husband's income was more than sufficient for their life-style, so hers could be used for additional luxuries.
Money was not the reason that she worked. She would have been unhappy without something to stimulate her mind. Her private practice and her work with the university were important to her. She was a very organized and intelligent woman.
At dinner, everyone had a good time. The Masterson's could visit easily on a number of topics. Joel was very proud and pleased with how his grandparents interacted with Alex's family.
Joel felt a little concerned being seated between Alicia and Alex. She had been his date, but her brother was the one he wanted. He hoped that she wouldn't develop a crush on him.
The conversation around the table was mostly light and filled with the kinds of questions and answers that occur when people are interested in getting to know each other better. They were all well-traveled and had a number of common interests.
Jane asked about Lori's profession and was interested in what she did. She suddenly remembered where she had seen this lady before.
"I remember seeing you on a TV interview! I didn't make the connection because I guess I thought you had a different name.
"Yes, I use my maiden name as my professional name. It keeps a bit of distance between my patients and me since I don't live in the town where I practice and I'm not in the phone book under 'Evans.'"
"You must get a lot of interesting cases. I suppose there are some dangerous people among the ones you see and you probably don't want them to be able to find you." Jane responded.
"Well, not really. Mostly, the clients are people who simply need help in sorting out their lives. Many of them are really quite ordinary on the outside, but lost and hurt on the inside." Lori mused.
The talk turned to other things and soon the younger members of the group requested to be excused. Allen grabbed his twin and Joel and whisked them off to their bedroom ostensibly to try a new video game he had received. (In truth, the brothers had bought it for each other because they both wanted it.)
But Allen had an ulterior motive. He wanted to get Joel away from Alicia, because he sensed that the boy was feeling uncomfortable. At the time of the Halloween Dance, he had felt it wasn't a good idea for his brother's best bud to be dating their sister. If she developed feeling for him and if they had a fight, it could put a crimp into what seemed like a very close relationship. Allen was pretty sure that Alex had a crush on Joel that he wasn't ready to open up about and he could tell by Joel's looks of admiration for Alex that the feelings was likely mutual. Allen would neither push his brother nor hold him back, but he could give them some time alone. He got the two playing the game and then left to do something to entertain his sister while the adults visited.
Alex and Joel discussed what they had packed for the trip and agreed that they had thought of everything. Joel asked Alex if he had a skimpy swimsuit to take and Alex blushingly admitted that he had purchased what he jokingly called a "barely-legal" bikini on the Internet in case he had an occasion to use at the beach. He got it out to show Joel who wished he could talk Alex into modeling it. Joel said that he had one like it that he had bought one time in Florida but had been afraid to wear in public. The boys decided to wear them under their boxer-like trunks when they left the condo in Belize and then take off the outer ones when they were away from the grandparents' view. Both began to get hard thinking about the prospect!
Later, the two families left to attend mass together. After the beautiful service, they exchanged hugs and wishes for a Merry Christmas. Joel and Alicia gave each other a brief, chaste hug. However, the one that Joel and Alex shared had more feeling. Both were thankful for the crisp air that cooled them off.
If you are enjoying this story, let David know: firstname.lastname@example.org