Tales from Bentonville
By David Lee
Copyright © 2005, 2016
Copyright © 2005, 2016
Dane and Colton were worried about Dustin as well as Dave. They assumed he must be hurting too. He certainly hadn't ended the relationship of his own accord. Having witnessed how much those two cared for each other, it was a no-brainer.
Their repeated efforts to contact Dustin did no good. He never answered any of their emails. They were hesitant to phone because they knew his father was recuperating at home and would likely be around to monitor his calls.
It was early in February before Colt had a chance to see Dustin. They were slated to compete against each other in the district wrestling tournament. Colt wasn't sure what he would do, but he felt he had to say something.
On the night of the big match, many of the townspeople from the competing teams were assembled in the large gym at Cosgrove. The districts were being held there to accommodate the big crowd and to provide a neutral venue for the event. The Cosgrove booster club was quite happy to be running the concessions because it was bound to be a money-maker.
Naturally, Dane went to support Colton, and DJ drove Dane over because he wanted to be there for Colt too. They invited Trent and Sara along since the pep bus was overcrowded and this would give the couple some semi-private time in the back seat. (At least that was Dane's thought, if not DJ's.)
Dane was surprised to see Dave in the bleachers, and asked him to join them. Dave did, but joked that he didn't want to get beaten up if he cheered for the opposition. Dane promised to be a good sport, however the match turned out.
When Colt and Dustin squared off, it seemed like a perfectly even match. That was true for several minutes until Dustin heard Dave in the crowd urging him on. It brought back too many memories which were sweet and painful at the same time. Tears filled his eyes; his strength fled and Colton easily pinned him.
Dustin's coach yelled at him for giving up. He acted like the boy had intentionally thrown the match. Colt felt awful for the kid who was both his worthy opponent and friend.
Colt offered his hand to help Dustin up, and Dustin accepted it. Colt pulled him up and embraced the tearful Dustin.
"Come on, Bud, let's go talk." Colt suggested soon after the referee had raised Colton's hand in the sign of victory.
Dustin followed him to the locker room a few minutes later. Both were finished with their part of the competition. They might catch some flak from their coaches later for bugging out, but neither was concerned about that at the moment.
"You're hurting as much as Dave is, aren't you?"
Dustin nodded. He couldn't talk, for fear of losing it completely.
"We've got to do something. Do you want me to ask my Uncle DJ to talk to your Dad? They're both veterans; they've been through the same kind of shit. DJ knows about you guys and about Dane and me and he is totally cool."
Out in the gym, Dustin's father, Gary, was making a scene after his son's defeat. He was cursing everybody and everything. The security man was about to escort him out when DJ intervened.
"Let me talk to him. He's an old friend of mine," he told the officer.
Gary Fagan was still seething, but cooled down as DJ led him to the cafeteria which was open to serve refreshments. DJ got them both a Pepsi and settled them in a corner away from the few other people in the large room.
"Do you want to talk about it?" DJ asked.
Gary kept his head bowed while he allowed his emotions to cool. DJ didn't push him. He knew the feelings of anger and frustration that welled up in men who had seen the horrors of war. His own nightmares had faded considerably in recent months, but he hadn't forgotten what it was like.
Finally, Dustin's father raised his head and spoke.
"He was a normal, red-blooded American boy until that queer got a hold of him. Now he's a wuss. His grades are going down. He has no appetite. He can't wrestle worth a shit! Damn!"
"When did these 'symptoms' begin? Were his grades slipping in the fall term? Was he less of an athlete then?"
"Well, no, I guess not. I got his grade reports and he was doing well then. He did okay in cross-country too."
"Okay," DJ continued. "What has changed in that time?"
"I got nearly blown up. I suppose that has been stressful for my kid too. I don't know. What is the world coming to? I caught my kid cuddled up in bed with that queer. I know he was asleep, but he had his arms around him. I think they were naked. I couldn't stand it. I waited until the queer had gone home and then Dustin and me, we had a long talk about what's right and what's wrong."
"And that's when his grades went down and he became listless?" DJ probed.
"Yeah, it all happened about the same time."
"Do you suppose that possibly you caused the change in him by tearing him away from his good buddy - someone he feels very close to?"
"What the Hell would you know about that?"
"I know what happened to my brother, Wade, when my father disowned him because he's gay. I know that my mother kept Wade from going off the deep end by divorcing our father. I know that I didn't understand for a long time, but I do now."
Gary sat digesting the information DJ had thrown at him. He had a hard time believing the former football jock was defending his gay brother. How could he do that? It just wasn't right.
"I don't know what caused you to go soft in the head, but I've been through the Hell of war and I will NOT have my oldest son turn into one of THEM!"
"You think you're the only one who suffered in this war? I hate to pull rank on you, man, but here goes."
DJ pulled up the leg of his baggy jeans to show his prosthetic leg. Gary's eyes widened noticeably.
"Hey, DJ, I'm sorry, I didn't know. You don't even limp!"
"I'm not looking for anyone to be sorry. I only want you to know that some of the rest of us have been to Hell and back too. That's no reason to feel sorry for yourself or to take out your anger and frustration on your son. If he IS gay, it isn't something he chose. It could even be your genes that made him that way."
Gary's eyes blazed. He looked like he was going to slug DJ. Then his anger cooled as he got control of his emotions again.
"Thanks for the Pepsi, but I can't talk about this anymore," Gary stated as he arose.
"Gary, consider getting counseling. I have. It doesn't mean you're weak. We all need people to lean on sometimes. If you ever want to talk about any of the shit you went through in Iraq, or your kid or anything else, I'll be there for you. Maybe we can sit over a couple of beers some night."
"I'll think on it."
Back in the locker room, Dustin had grabbed his things from the section his team was using and had joined Colt in the shower. They talked while washing away the sweat of competition.
"Please tell Dave I'm sorry. I didn't want to hurt him."
"Why don't you tell him yourself?"
"I can't. My dad would kill me if he caught me taking to Dave. He refers to him as 'that queer' and called me a 'fagot lover' and other things. He was totally out of control. I guess he went to call us for breakfast and found us cuddled together or something. I can't even tell you all of the awful things he said. Anyway, I can't be gay."
"Shit," Colt swore. "You can't be anything but what you are. If you're gay, you can't be straight. You may pretend and get married and be miserable like those guys in 'Brokeback Mountain,' but you can't change what you are or who you love."
Dustin's tears mingled with the hot water from the shower. In his heart, he knew Colton was telling him the truth, but he was just as certain that he had no choice in the matter, at least not at the moment. Maybe when he was older and out of the house; then possibly he could be himself. But he would certainly have lost Dave by then.
Colton and Dustin dressed in silence. They would soon go back to join their teams to witness the rest of the match. Neither guy had anything else to say. Just before they left the locker room, Dustin turned and hugged Colt.
"Thanks for being here for me. I hope your coach doesn't kick your ass for being gone for this long."
"He won't. He's going to be so happy that I kicked your ass that he'll leave me alone. By the way, I'm sorry it ended like that. I bet you could have won if you hadn't been distracted."
"I don't know," Dustin replied. "You're one tough stud for a 'queer'" he snickered.
If some guys said that, Colton might have taken offence and slugged them, but he knew Dustin was making a joke to lighten the mood.
"Takes one to know one," he shot back with a huge grin.
"Yeah, I guess it does," Dustin smirked.
When the boys went back to the gym, Colton went to speak to Dane and Dave before going back to sit with the rest of the team. He told Dave not to give up hope.
"Have you thought about fighting for your man? I know he still cares," Colt whispered.
"Thanks," Dave responded. "I'm not sure how to go about that right now, but you've made me feel better than you can imagine. I'll hold out forever if necessary. Please tell him that if you get the chance."
Colt made his way over to Dustin's team's area before going to his own. He couldn't talk freely with the others around, but he rolled his eyes toward where Dave was sitting and gave Dustin a thumbs-up. Dustin's sad smile let Colt know that he got the message.
Dane was dying to know what his father had said to Dustin's father, but he was going to have to wait until they got home to find out. He couldn't very well bring up the subject with Trent and Sara in the back seat. Of course, their minds were on other things. Sara was leaning into Trent who had an arm around her. She had her hand on the inside of his thigh. They exchanged a few kisses when they thought DJ wouldn't notice. He saw enough in the rear-view mirror to know what was taking place. He could empathize with Trent. After all, he had been a teenager too not so awfully long ago.
In the shotgun seat, Dane did his best to keep up a conversation with his dad that would keep him from noticing the backseat activities.
After Sara and Trent had been dropped off, Dane and his dad talked a little about Gary Fagan's attitude. DJ filled him in on some of the things they'd said.
"He's hurting a lot. I know the feeling - not about your being gay, but about the war. I pray you and your unborn brother don't ever have to go through that. I think about Barry quite a bit some days. He's my example of the young people who have sacrificed their lives in this bloody affair. Sometimes I think Dubya is going to have a lot to answer for if there really is a "Last Judgment."
Dane was quiet for the rest of the short ride. He didn't know what to say, but he reached over and squeezed his father's hand. DJ seemed to get the message as he squeezed back.
February was a month of unpredictable weather. Some days were unseasonably warm only to be followed by storms which played havoc with traffic and created extra business for local body shops.
Several of Bentonville's wrestlers made it to the state tournament. Colton did well, but was beaten in the last event. He still got recognition for doing better than anyone in the school's recent history. It made him proud to be recognized in an assembly when he presented the second-place trophy to Bentonville High. He received a standing ovation from everyone in the gym. It was awesome! Some of the other guys got honorable mentions too. Their coach was proud of them all.
Joel and Alex continued to study math together. Alex's grade in the subject was now in the upper 10% of the class. His twin's achievement wasn't that much higher than his. Joel was still at the top, but he enjoyed seeing his boyfriend pushing closer.
Their study sessions now involved making-out time as well. Sometimes the boys were at Alex's house, but more often they chose Joel's because they wouldn't be interrupted by Alicia or Allen. Allen did his best to give them space, but Alicia felt a twinge of jealousy about how close the guys were, despite the fact that she had dated a couple of other boys since the Halloween dance. Joel was a desirable guy and he seemed to be spending entirely too much time with her brother instead of paying attention to her!
On one of the afternoons when Joel and Alex were at Alex's home, they finished their homework early. Thinking that they were alone in the house, Alex pulled Joel back on top of him on the bed. Joel took that as an invitation for a session of French kissing, and soon the boys' tongues were love-wrestling.
They were so involved that they didn't hear the footsteps on the carpeted stairs. Alicia popped her head into the room. She gasped in surprise at the scene that greeted her. The boys flew apart as she stomped down the hall to her own room. Alex followed her hastily as soon as his mind grasped what had transpired. (His dick had gotten the message and deflated immediately!)
"I'd better leave," Joel called after him.
"No, please don't," Alex responded. "I'm going to need you."
Alex knocked on Alicia's door and asked her to let him in. He talked to her quietly for several minutes before coming back to his room. When he did, he looked ashen, despite his Central American tan.
"She says she's going to tell Mom and Dad and everyone at school. I tried to reason with her, but she's really pissed off that a stud like you would prefer me to her. Does that make any sense to you?"
"I'm not sure I'm worth outing someone over, but if you get thrown out, I know Grandma and Grandpa will let you live with me. It could be nice sleeping together every night like we did in Belize. We'll survive school somehow."
Alex's shaking eased after Joel held him close. He began to relax a little, but he was still dreading the return of his parents.
"Listen, Alex, I'll call Grandma and tell her what's up. I'll tell her that I'm staying until your parents come home. You and I can go out to eat if it blows up or maybe Gram will save us some dinner. You know how much she likes you."
Allen came home a few minutes later. He could tell something was drastically wrong by merely looking at his twin. When he heard the story, he went to their sister to reason with her. She ended up screaming at him when he told her he'd known about the guys for some time.
Lori Albers came home before her husband. Allen kept watch at Alicia's door to allow Alex and Joel to talk to her first. Alex plunged into the subject before she had hung up her coat.
"Mom, I have something awful to tell you. Please sit down."
Lori's mind ran through a quick list of what this could be about. Was one of his siblings hurt? Was someone pregnant? Was someone into drugs? Had there been a fight at school?
"Mom, I'm gay. I'm sorry," Alex sobbed.
He had held up pretty well until that moment. Lori arose and embraced the young man who towered over her. She held him close patting his back as his tears splashed on her shoulder.
"It's okay, son. Your father and I wondered if it was true or if we were imagining things. We love you. Now what brought this on today?"
Alex looked at Joel for permission before telling his mother about Alicia's finding them in an awkward situation. He explained that they were only kissing and that they were fully clothed. Lori repressed her smile at how much both boys were blushing.
At that moment, Alicia came storming down the stairs with Allen trying his best to hold her back without hurting her. She was uncharacteristically strong in her agitated state.
"Mom, do you know your son is a queer?"
Lori was tempted to slap her daughter, but years of counseling had taught her not to take that route.
"The term is 'gay' young lady! I will not tolerate any slurs in this house for any reason."
"But Mom, I saw them kissing. It's yucky!"
"The boys told me all about it. They were expressing their love for each other. Am I to assume that you've never kissed a boy you liked?"
"That has nothing to do with it! They're both guys, if you hadn't noticed," she retorted with a sneer.
"Please don't take that tone with me, Alicia. I'm quite aware that they're definitely male, and quite handsome."
"Wait until some of the kids at school find out. Their 'handsome faces will be rearranged."
"Go up to your room, Alicia," Lori ordered. "You and I are going to have a talk."
Alicia flounced and pouted, but she did as she was told. Lori spent a couple of minutes composing her thoughts and emotions. Before she left the living room, she hugged Joel and Alex.
"I hope this scene hasn't frightened you away, Joel. I like you a lot. You're always welcome in my house. If you and my son stay together, I'll be pleased to welcome you into the family."
"Wow!" was all Joel could say when she had left.
"Wow, indeed." Alex echoed. "I can't believe what just happened. Will someone pinch me to let me know I'm not dreaming?"
Allen and Joel both obliged, each grabbing a chunk of Alex's butt. He squealed in mock injury and asked Joel to kiss his "owies". Joel promised to do it later in private.
Meanwhile, Alex's father, Brad, came home. Alex did a few deep-breathing exercises to calm down before telling his dad what was going on, and why. His father took the news as well as Lori had. He was neither surprised nor upset. Alex began to wonder why he'd agonized for so long over coming out to his family. Then he remembered his sister's reaction. It made him sad, but he made an internal vow not to let it depress him. He felt about 100 lbs. lighter and he wasn't going to obsess over things he couldn't control.
Allen Albers offered to go for carryout pizza knowing that their mother was probably going to be tied up for a while, and not be in the mood to think about cooking when she got through with Alicia. The boys' dad called to order several large ones and handed Allen the money to pay for them. Joel was invited to stay, so he called his grandparents before riding to Pizza Hut with the twins.
When they returned, they found that Brad had made a large tossed salad and set the table. Lori joined them soon. She told them that she and Alicia had come to an understanding and that they didn't need to fear being outed at school. Alicia chose not to join the rest of the family for dinner, but remained sulking in her room.
After Joel and Alex finished helping Allen clean up the kitchen, they went into the family room with a request.
"Mrs. Albers, I know it's a school night, but would it be okay if Alex stayed with me at my place tonight. It might make Alicia more comfortable," Joel suggested.
"You're welcome to call me 'Lori' or 'ma' or some form of that if you're okay with it. If you're Alex's boyfriend, we don't need to keep it so formal. And, yes, Alex can sleep with you. Just don't keep each other up all night," she grinned as the boys blushed. "I'm sure that Alicia isn't the only one who'll be more 'comfortable' with the arrangement."
Joel quickly called Jane on his cell to let her know of their plans. He was aware that his grandparents treated him like a responsible adult, so he always did his best to keep them informed. It wasn't a matter of necessity, but one of courtesy.
After the boyfriends left, Alicia emerged from her room to raid the fridge. She was hungrier than she was willing to admit. As she warmed some leftover pizza in the microwave, she felt Allen's arm on her shoulder. She tried to shrug it off, but he didn't let her.
"Please don't shut me out and please don't shut Alex out either. He's still your brother and mine. He's still the same guy he was yesterday and the day before. He hasn't changed. It's only your perception of him that has."
Alicia sat at the kitchen table munching in silence. What Allen was saying was true. She did still love her brother, but she hated the fact that he had Joel and she didn't! She was jealous despite the fact that her rational mind knew it was silly to take that position about a gay relationship.
"It's not like you to act like a spoiled bitch because Alex got Joel and you didn't," Allen continued. "Joel's a nice guy, not some 'Happy-Meal' prize to be fought over."
His choice of words jolted her. Is that how she looked? Was she pouting like a three-year-old? Was she being bitchy? Maybe she needed a Midol. It was that time of the month.
"You don't really want to see your brother or Joel hurt," Allen stated. "In a moment of rage, you might feel that way. But think of the consequences. This is a small town. I know what happened to Jerry Saxdorf when the Tracewell boys went after him and he isn't even gay. Imagine what would happen if some of the rougher crowd at school like that Derek dude decided to bash your brother and Joel. I would probably get bloodied too because I couldn't stand by and let it happen. I love Alex. He's a part of me. I'd have to have their backs all the time."
Alicia finally looked up at her brother.
"You can't pretend you're not jealous about all the time he spends with Joel besides being in Belize a whole week doing God-knows-what."
"Honestly, I did miss him. When he's gone, it's like my right hand is gone, but we ARE two separate people. We know each other like no one else in the world does or ever will. There's a bond between twins. But, like I said, we aren't the same person. He has to make his life according to his orientation and I have to make mine according to mine. If I were gay, I would never let him go!"
Alicia thought about Allen's arguments. They were sound. She knew he was right. Damn! It hurt anyway to know that the hot stud with the fast car chose her brother over her. Maybe she'd feel better in the morning.
In Joel's room, Alex and he were thinking of turning in early. Their homework was done and they wanted some cuddle time. Jane had checked them when they came in to see that their emotional states were okay and to see if they needed a snack. They had willingly succumbed to a couple of her fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies washed down with glasses of milk. It was genuine comfort food.
Now they were debating taking a shower.
"We had one after gym," Joel stated.
"Yeah, but I'm sure I must smell of fear after that scene at home."
Joel sniffed near Alex's pit and had to agree that his deodorant had failed a bit. Alex offered to let Joel sniff his crotch just to make sure. Joel said he'd take a rain-check on that.
Sharing a shower was not the worst activity two horny teenagers can engage in. They got clean despite the giggling and messing around. Then they sprinted to the bedroom clad only in their towels.
Joel made Alex turn around facing away from him while he ripped off the towel. He knelt behind Alex and began kissing his butt.
"Whoa, what's this all about?"
"Well, I promised to kiss your owies," Joel snickered.
Alex spent a few minutes kissing similar spots on Joel's back-side. Naturally, both guys had throbbing hardons as the game progressed.
Joel went down on Alex. He sniffed audibly to let Alex know that he was making good on the rain check. Then he gently took in most of Alex's hot cock. He wanted to suck all of the pain and anguish of the last few hours from his lover's body. Alex loved it, but didn't want to leave Joel out, so he pulled Joel up until their lips met in a passionate kiss. Then he buried his nose in Joel's armpit. He nuzzled and licked until he had Joel giggling uncontrollably.
Joel pulled himself free to nuzzle Alex's armpit. It smelled fresh, clean, and characteristically "Alex." Tentatively he stuck out his tongue and ran it inside. It tasted like Alex. He could savor that flavor forever!
Alex brought Joel's mouth up to his again and the two kissed deeply as Alex steered them toward the bed. Once in a horizontal position, Alex moved his mouth down toward Joel's prize leaving his own within easy reach of Joel's lips. Joel didn't need to be told what to do. Soon they were slowly, sensuously sucking and licking. The buildup of lust and desire quickly took the boys over the top.
After sharing several deep kisses in the afterglow, Joel got Alex to lie on his side so that Joel could snuggle against his back. Alex was bigger and stronger physically, but he felt small and vulnerable that night. He appreciated feeling protected by his lover. His body relaxed as he fell asleep.
Joel lay awake for a while enjoying the warmth of his guy. He would protect this stud with everything he had. He soon joined Alex in dreamland sensing that he had found what he had been wanting for since the day his hormones kicked in. With Alex, he was complete.
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