Castle Roland

Rock and a Hard Place

by Hans Schreiber


Chapter 27

Posted: N/A

Justin Time to Help

"Hey Justin."

"Hello, umm, Kyle, right?"

"Yeah, right. How was school?" I answered, getting up and walking over to the fence.

"Like usual. We had our team meeting in PE. I made the varsity cross country team."

"Oh wow, congratulations. So you're a runner? I like to run to stay in shape for wrestling. Maybe when I get all healed up, we can go running together some."

"Healed up from what?" Justin asked.

I stammered a bit and decided on taking the vague route, "I had a minor operation. I'm recovering fine though. I came here to stay with my mom while I recover."

Justin immediately picked up on my reluctance to be specific and didn't press. "Glad you're doing better. So how long will you be staying around?"

"I'm not really sure, but it's looking like a while. I start school at CCAB on Monday. What's it like?"

Justin brightened up when he heard that, "Really? Awesome! It's pretty good, except of course for the obvious drawback of no chicks. It helps the academics I guess, without the distraction. I can show you around on Monday, if you want."

"That'd be great. So do you know what their wrestling team is like?" I asked.

"They're undefeated but they've never won a meet." Justin answered with a little grin.

"Cool. Wait. What?"

"Think about it. They're undefeated but they've never won a meet," he repeated with a slightly larger grin, obviously pleased at his riddle.

"Oh. I get it. You don't have a wrestling team, do you?"


"That was clever. I have to admit. But it's way disappointing. Besides track, what other sports are there?" I asked.

"Basketball. You could try out for that. We need a good center."

"You haven't known me long enough to do short jokes," I answered, smiling along with him to let him know I wasn't really upset.

"Why don't you come out for track if you like to run?" Justin offered, being serious again.

"Maybe. Are there spots?"

"Sure, you just have to join and pretty much everyone goes to the meet in some event. It'd be cool to have you on the team. Do you think you'd like to run cross country?"

"I don't know," I answered honestly. "You guys are crazy with how far you run."

"Yeah, but it's what I owe this fabulous body to." Justin struck a pose and I laughed.

"It's pretty fabulous all right, but it's just a little weird that your calves are larger than your waist," I commented, getting even for the basketball crack. Justin laughed along with me.

"So what else are you into besides running a zillion miles a day?" I asked.

"RPG mostly. And I like to study languages. I'm learning Chinese and Russian right now and I take Spanish at school. What about you?"

"Me? I barely speak English, but I guess I have to pick a second language to take my junior and senior years. I'll probably take Spanish. I used to be totally into wrestling. That's what I love most, but it looks like my career may be over in that, at least for now. I spend a lot of time working out. We had a full gym in my garage at my old house. I was on the debate team at my old school and I was pretty good at that."

"Cool. My friend, Adam, is on the debate team. He's coming over later. I bet you'll like him."

"Cool. I was worried about going to school Monday not knowing anybody. I'm glad I found you."

"I hope you're still glad after your first day," Justin said.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"We're not exactly the popular crowd that I'm guessing you're used to being part of. We're not total geeks or anything, we're just the silent tweeners."

"Tweeners? What's that?" I asked.

"You know, we're in between the cool studs and the weak geeks. We're cool enough not to get picked on but not cool enough to talk to. We're just there, in between. Tweeners."

"Hmph. That's a good analysis. You're a pretty deep thinker. I like it. I don't mind being a 'tweener' for a change, to be honest. It seems like it might be a nice change of pace."

"Yeah, it's okay. We just hang with ourselves, doing our own thing until we graduate and take over the world - employing the geeks and enslaving the popular dorks when we do." I laughed but he seemed actually pretty serious about what he'd said. Then he looked at me seriously and asked, "You got a girlfriend?"

"No. Actually, I was supposed to take a girl to our Fall Formal at my old school tomorrow night but then I had this medical problem and I haven't been able to get a hold of her. I was maybe wondering if I could borrow your cell phone to make couple calls with. Would you mind?"

"She's not your girlfriend?" Justin asked.

"Who? Oh, my date for the dance? No, just a girl I dated only once before. We're not going out or anything, but I need to let her know I'm still planning on going tomorrow. I just need some help."

"That's cool. Sure. Here's my phone." Justin handed me his phone and I took it. It was almost electrifying to be holding a working cell phone in my hand again. My heart actually started to race in anticipation of contacting Scotty, William and Gina.

"Come on up, I need to get the numbers off my laptop. Hey you don't know a place nearby where I could get a phone charger do you?" I asked.

"There's a Ralph's Market with like a drug store on one end of it that would probably sell them. It's just down the road on the way to CCAB." Justin pointed in the general direction of the store and school.

"Great. Thanks."

I headed toward my apartment and Justin stopped at the door and said, "I'll be right back. I need to go leave a note for Adam to come over here. He usually shows up about this time before my mom gets home. I don't want him to think I ditched him."

"Okay, cool. I'll leave the door slightly open so you can just come in when you get back. My mom's not around right now either. She's over at the church helping out the Reverend."

"Helping him do what?"

"Get ready for some kind of taping of a cable TV show. I guess it's like those Evangelist shows you see on cable sometimes where they all talk in a southern accent and pretend to heal people on stage."

"Oh, I know about that. My mom's going to it. We go to Reverend Rick's church. I think a lot of the other staff members at the school are going too," Justin said. "Reverend Rick's on the governor's board. Luckily, she's not making me go with her. Church on Sunday is enough for me."

"Your mom is on the school staff?" I asked.

"Yeah, how else do you think we could afford the tuition? My mom teaches English there, so I get free tuition. Can I ask a personal question?" Justin asked tenuously.

"Sure, what?"

"If you can afford to go to CCAB, how come you guys are living here?"

"Well," I began, "that's a long story. I'll tell you about it sometime. Right now, though, I really need to make some calls before my mom gets home."

"Okay, sorry. I was just being nosy. My mom says I have a problem with that. I'll be right back." Justin sprang off like a graceful gazelle, disappearing in a flash. I left the door just barely open and rushed to my laptop. I plugged the charger into a wall socket beside the couch and pulled the screen up with my thumb then hit the power button. I watched impatiently as the familiar red, blue, green and yellow logo faded in and then back out. I entered my password and hit enter. It's so hard to wait for a computer to boot when you have something you are anxious to accomplish.

I had just opened up my contact list backup and started jotting down important numbers into a note pad from my backpack when Justin tapped on the door and pushed it open. He was followed in by a fellow 'tweener,' who I assumed to be Adam. It hit me how Justin's description of a 'tweener' fit Adam perfectly. He was neither tall or short, skinny or fat. His hair was dishwater blond, well trimmed and parted on the left. His face was very non-descript and his eyes were blue or maybe green. He dressed neatly, but not stylish and I was surprised that he hadn't shown up in school uniform. If I walked by him in the hallway at school, I would definitely not pay any attention to him.

"Hi. You must be Adam," I said smiling up at them.

When he answered me, I discovered the most remarkable thing about him. He had an exceptionally deep, melodic voice like you hear from radio DJ's. "Yeah, I'm Adam." Then looking at Justin he asked with a poorly disguised hint of annoyance, "So how long are we gonna be over here?"

"Not too long, don't worry, we'll have plenty of time for what you want to do," Justin answered.

I got the feeling I was stressing Adam out because of the disruption to some plans they must have had. I could also sense that whatever the plans were, I didn't fit into them. I knew it shouldn't bother me since I was a completely new guy and they didn't even really know me yet, and I was kind of imposing myself on Justin to use his phone, but it still stung just a bit to know I was being excluded. I decided they were probably planning on getting online and doing some RPG gaming and I know how fanatical some guys get over that. Maybe they had to do it before Justin's mom got home and made him do homework. I wondered what it would be like to live with an English teacher. Couldn't be any worse than living with my crazy mother, I decided.

I quickly dialed Gina. Justin picked up The Hiding Place book and was glancing it over. Adam sat on my couch/bed and picked up the Rubik's Cube that Officer Milsap had given me in the hospital when I was bored to death and began fiddling with it. I was slightly annoyed at that since I had been working on it for several days and he was undoing all the progress I'd made.

"Gina, it's me, Kyle."

"Kyle? Kyle Davis?"

"Yeah, your date for tomorrow night, remember?"

"Oh, uhh, yeah. How are you doing? Are you out of the hospital?" She asked with an odd tone in her voice.

"Yeah, I'm doing fine. Sorry for not calling sooner, but I haven't had any access to a phone. I'm working it all out so I can still take you to the dance tomorrow. I'll pick you up around eight, okay? I'm not sure what we're doing after the dance, but we'll probably be going to Scotty's house instead of mine. That okay?"

"Well, umm, not really."

"Why? You still want to go, don't you?"

"Yes and no," Gina answered.

"Well is it yes or is it no?" Both boys in the room had stopped what they were doing and were staring at me like I was on some kind of soap opera. Adam had set my Rubik's cube down and was staring at my urine bottle with a look of disgust.

"Kyle, look I didn't expect you to call me. I thought you were like long gone. I have another date. My mom arranged a pity date for me with my cousin from another school."

"Well now you don't have to do the pity date. Your cousin will be relieved probably. Just call him," I said.

"I can't. It's all planned and well, listen Kyle, it's like this; I can't really see you anymore. Since word got around about what you did and all, my parents don't want me anywhere around you. I'm sorry."

"Oh. I get it. But just for the record, all that crap you heard was lies. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't get charged with any crimes and I'm not dangerous. It was all a huge screwed up mess. I never should have even gone to Juvey, and I didn't start any trouble with the gangs. They just jumped me. It'll all blow over. What if I tried to explain to your mom or dad?" Justin and Adam were staring wide-eyed at me now.

"No Kyle. Please don't call back." The line went dead.

"Fuck." I punched Justin's phone off.

"That sucks," Justin said. "What was all that about Juvey and gangs?"

"Oh, I'm not really supposed to talk about it, and it's kind of a long story. I'll tell you sometime but not now. I've got another two calls I have to make. Is that okay?"

"Two?" Adam whined. Turning to Justin he said, "Dude, your mom will be home before we get to do our thing."

Justin shot him a look that said, "Shut Up!" Then he looked at me and said "Sure, dude. I'm glad I can help you out."

I quickly called Scotty. He didn't answer and I realized he would still be in wrestling practice. I left him a text. "Scotty. Its Kyle. Borrowed phone so don't text back. Gina cant go 2 dance. Imma cummin anyway. C U there. Cant wait 4 R special time after it. Cya cutie. Hugz." When it indicated that the message was sent, I erased it from Justin's phone. I'd noticed that Adam was snooping around my stuff again and while I was calling William, Adam lifted the lid to the toy box and peered in. His initial look was one of puzzlement and then realization of what he was looking at dawned on him. I slid over and pushed the lid shut. I held the phone to my ear with my shoulder and moved the box over to the side of my couch.

"That's my mom's," I said. I hope I sounded convincing. It was true but he had to think it was weird either way.

I also got no answer from William. He often just kept his phone off. It wasn't like he had a big friend base calling him. I quickly typed out, "It's Kyle. On a borrowed phone so dont text back. Been thinking of U. Hope UR good. C U at dance. Kyle."

After erasing that one also, I quickly dialed my dad. "Dad, it's me Kyle."

"Kyle, I've been wondering when you were going to call. How are you doing, Son?"

"Okay. It sucks being here with Mom. She's crazy and she's gotten all fanatical religious."

"I'm sorry. You just have to hang in there. So what about the dance tonight? Have you given up on it or did you still need a ride?" Dad asked me.

"I still need a ride, but it's not tonight, it's tomorrow night. Can you come get me around seven so I can get to the dance around 8:30 or 9:00. And then maybe I can spend the night at Scotty's and you could give me a ride back home on Sunday morning?"

"Kyle, you told me it was tonight. I've arranged my schedule all around it. I didn't want to disappoint you and I made a lot of effort to get free tonight."

My heart sank. "Why would you think it was on Friday? Formals are always on Saturday. Can't you just change it around?"

"No Kyle, I can't just rearrange it at this late hour. You told me Friday and I went through a lot of effort to schedule this. You'll just have to miss the dance. Besides, I'm sure your mother will never approve of you spending the night at Scotty's house. She doesn't like him for some reason."

"Dad, please. This is so important to me. You owe it to me after getting me stuck in Juvey and getting this whole mess started." I pled.

"First of all," he began with clear, barely controlled anger in his voice, "I don't owe you anything. And you started the mess that got you sent to Juvey. That is not all my fault. And contrary to your belief, the entire rest of the world does NOT revolve around you. If you want a ride tonight, the night you told me you needed one, I'll be there. If not, you're out of luck. Good-bye!" He didn't even wait for a rebuttal argument. He just hung up on me.

I pressed the off button with a shaky finger and handed Justin his phone back. "Thanks man," I said sadly.

"Sure, no problem. Sorry it's not working out for you to go to your dance. You want to hang out with me and Adam tomorrow instead?" Adam flinched a bit.

"No thanks. I'm not giving up yet. I'm on a fucking mission to go to that dance, one way or another. Everything's been coming together up until now. I just need a pumpkin. Hey, by the way, what's your cell number?"

"Justin, let's go man. It's getting late and we're running out of time." Adam sounded like an impatient child.

"Chill, will ya? You can have the first turn again today, all right?" Then turning to me, Justin said, "My number's 555-324-8770. We got to go do some stuff. Sorry. Will you be okay?"

I was still shaking, partly from sadness and partly from frustration and anger. I had to find a way to the dance and I had to get with Scotty afterwards. It was all I could think of. I'm sure Justin could read how upset I was since he seemed like a really perceptive guy. It was sweet of him to be concerned.

"Yeah, go do your thing. I'm fine." Then I noticed the keys to the Audi on the end table next to the completed Rubik's Cube. I picked it up and rotated it slowly around. "Wow. You solved it."

"Yeah, it's easy once you figure out the pattern," Adam said modestly.

I picked up the keys to the car and asked Justin, "Do you think the Ralph's store has a key maker?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

"Dude!" Adam said, nodding his head toward the door.

"Okay, okay. Geez, you're like a little kid," Justin said to him. Then addressing me, Justin said, "See you later, okay?"

"Sure. And thanks for lending me the phone. You have no idea how much I've missed mine."

"Cool," Justin said as he was being dragged by Adam out the door. I stuffed the keys in my pocket, ran to my mom's room, and extracted my dead cell phone along with a hundred dollars from her drawer. Then, I did a fast walk to Ralphs Market. I had to walk because the one time I tried a slow jog, my sore balls screamed at me to stop it. I was thrilled to find a key duplicating machine behind the service counter and the clerk gave me no problems over my age. I paid for the key, stuck the duplicate in my pocket, and got directions to the electronics section. There was a rack with multiple chargers and I found a number of them for Samsung and began scanning for my model number. I was just about out of hope when I pulled the last one off the back of the bottom stack. There it was. "Yes!" I shouted out loud and an old woman shot me a questioning look.

My last stop was to the display rack right next to the pharmacy window where I selected a package of Trojan Thinsations and small bottle of lube. I paid for them right there at the pharmacy counter and again, the clerk paid no real attention to my age. I took my package and almost skipped from the store. I was on cloud nine.

I arrived home and unlocked the door. I pushed it slowly open and stepped into Hell's fury. "Where in the hell have you been?" My mother literally screamed at me. I stepped back into the outside landing and thought about fleeing.

"I just walked to the store. Why?"

"I was worried sick about you. I just walked all the way home from the church and all this stuff is scattered around, there's no note, and you're missing. I thought maybe the gang had found you!" She was still screaming.

"Mom, I'm sorry. I didn't think. I should have left a note. I'm sorry. Calm down, okay?"

"That's about right. You didn't think. You never think. Well, it's about time you started thinking. You are officially grounded young man." I started to laugh. I couldn't help myself. At first it was just a snort and a chuckle but the more her ridiculous words sunk in, the harder I laughed. That only made her angrier. "What is so funny?"

"Grounding," I blurted. "Grounding. What the hell is there to ground me from. I'm living in a one bedroom apartment with my mother with no TV, no internet, no friends and a ripped open ball sac. I can't play sports, go anywhere that I can't walk and I'm bored out of my mind. Just exactly what do you plan on grounding me from?" I got some courage and walked inside, shutting the door, amused at the frustration building in my mother's face. I walked over and plopped down on the couch and said, "I know, how about you send me to my room without supper? Wait, this is my room and this is my bed and you're probably not planning on cooking me any supper anyway." I folded my arms in defiance.

Mom started to quiver and tears burst forth. I suddenly went from feeling indignant to feeling a bit of a brute. I had been pretty harsh in my tone. I could understand that she could have been honestly concerned about my safety. "Kyle, I don't need this right now. Look at me, I'm a mess. I have to get ready to attend Reverend Rick's premiere cable show taping and he is planning on inviting me onto the podium. I'm going to be on television and I look a complete mess. This is your fault."

"I'm sorry I scared you. I'm sorry I didn't leave a note. Go get yourself ready and I'll fix us something to eat," I offered.

"Well sorry doesn't help now does it? I'm not going to be able to fix this. I'll just look a mess in front of everyone and all because of your thoughtlessness."

"Mom, give it a rest already. I can't change it. I made a mistake, all right? Just go get ready."

"What did you go buy anyway? And, where did you get money?" I had to think fast. I definitely didn't want her to check in the bag.

"I just went to get a charger. Officer Milsap said I should have one, remember. He loaned me the money to get one. He lives here in town and said he'd come check on me and get his money back. He told me about the Ralphs Market down the street which is where I went." I reached in the bag and pulled out the charger to show her.

"Well that's ridiculous. He is stepping way beyond his bounds. I might have to call his superiors."

"Mom, just leave it be." I started to panic that she would call and get Officer Milsap in trouble over my little lie.

"What else is in the bag?" she asked.

"Just some stuff for me. Don't you need to get ready?"

She must have picked up on my discomfort because she insisted on seeing what else I had bought. When I realized she wasn't going to be dissuaded, even after attempting the 'none of your business' approach, I tossed her the bag. She peered in and gasped. "Kyle, why did you purchase these? What have you got planned?"

"Mom, really. I don't want to talk about it."

"Well you most certainly better talk about it? Are you planning on meeting up with that nasty Scotty fellow?"

"Why would you say that? I have a date for the Fall Formal tomorrow with Gina," I lied. It was an easy lie since I was supposed to have a date with her. "I just wanted to be prepared in case I got an opportunity after the dance for some action, if you must know."

"You will not have these. You will not be engaging in sexual promiscuity while you are under my charge. You are no longer living with your father with his distorted values. I'll return these to the store tomorrow and get the policeman's money back. I can't believe that you had the poor judgment to purchase such items with borrowed money. I'm ashamed by your immoral behavior lately."

"Oh really? You're actually going to lecture me on sexual morality? You? The woman who left her husband and moved out on her family to sleep around with Reverend Rick? You're going to lecture me on sexual morality? No. No way," I fumed.

"I am not sleeping around with the Reverend. How dare you accuse me of that?"

"Oh, I don't know, how about his clothes in your closet and dresser or his deodorant, razor and toothbrush in the bathroom?" I said, watching her expression for a reaction. She flinched.

"Just because he keeps a change of clothes and some toiletries here to freshen up when he visits does not mean we are having sexual relations. You just have developed a dirty mind from those nasty friends of yours." She was a terrible liar and she was trembling slightly. I decided to pull out the heavy artillery.

"Really? Well then why are you taking the birth control pills? If you're not having sex, what possible reason would there be for them?"

She stood there looking trapped like a scared rabbit in a corner. After a lengthy pause full of nervous twitching and stammering, she said, "I'm not on birth control pills."

"Mom, I snooped in your drawers. I saw everything. Stop lying about it. I even found your toy box." I reached to the side of the couch and held up the box. I lifted the lid and displayed the rubber dildo, lube, and other sex items.

She'd had time to formulate a lie. "Well, for your information, the doctor prescribed those pills because of a hormone imbalance. And, and, and you should not have been snooping through my room. You are forbidden to enter my bedroom ever again. Reverend Rick and I are not having sexual relations, but I am going to marry him after the divorce with your father is final. You owe me an apology for jumping to such a ridiculous and crude conclusion. Give me that box. Those items are for me. I needed something to satisfy my womanly needs since your father was so woefully inadequate and gone so much of the time."

"Oh please, you really shouldn't try to lie. You're really not very good at it. You can have your toys back, but give me my condoms and lube that I bought. I need it for tomorrow night." I said boldly, refusing to back down.

"You are not going anywhere tomorrow night. You are staying home. You will not be getting these things back. I am returning them. Things are different here, Kyle. You don't get to do or demand whatever you please. You will thank me when you're older for bringing discipline back into your life. Now you have really made me late. Do something useful and make us something small to eat while I get ready. You've become such a trial and a burden to me."

To my annoyance, she grabbed the toy box from my hands and stormed off to get ready for her big television debut. I breathed a sigh of frustration and opened up a can of tuna and some more Campbell's soup. I started eating it by myself since Mom was busy primping in the bathroom. She came out at the last minute and slurped a few spoonfuls of soup, took two bites of her sandwich and declared that I had made her too late to even eat. She launched into a search for her car keys. They were in my pocket.

"I wonder if the cop left them in the car by accident. Why don't you go check and I'll look through these bags," I suggested. She huffed off toward the parking lot and I pulled them from my pocket and set them on the end table behind the lamp.

Mom came rushing in looking very upset. "I found them. They're right there by the lamp," I said.

"Oh thank heavens." She snatched them up off the table. Then before she rushed out the door, she asked me, "How do I look?"

"You look great, Mom. Have a good time." She smiled and whisked out the door. In reality, she looked like an over-aged, wannabe teenager wearing way too much makeup for a woman her age. But, I saw no reason to keep poking the bear, so I tossed her the phony compliment she was begging for. I watched her Audi leave the parking area and went straight to her room. I wanted to use the toys again to entertain me for the long, boring evening ahead. She had locked her door. I was glad I'd already retrieved my cell phone and that she hadn't noticed it in my pocket. I opened the charger package and plugged it into my phone. I just stared at the blinking orange light for a while as the life giving current surged back into my dead phone.

I played on my laptop a bit but without an internet connection, I soon lost interest. I stripped naked and plopped down on the couch. I grabbed my jeans off the floor and fished the duplicate Audi key out of my pocket. That was like my pumpkin that would turn into the carriage to whisk me away to the ball, but how was I going to get rid of my mother without her taking the car with her. It was pretty clear that I wasn't going to get her permission to attend the dance, let alone give me a ride. I thought and thought while I slowly stroked my boner.

I tried to figure out what would entice her. I wondered if I could enlist my dad's help somehow, but nothing in my wildest imagination could get them together. Besides, he had to work all day Saturday he'd told me. I thought about what motivated my mother to do things. She liked the limelight. She liked hanging out in posh places even if she had taken a phony vow of poverty for Reverend Rick. From the look of the nice suits and shoes in my mother's closet, Reverend Rick had a taste for nice things. The other thing the two of them obviously enjoyed was sex with each other.

I got an idea, an idea so big that I had to act on it immediately - jacking off could wait. I grabbed my phone and turned it on. I dialed Justin's number and waited impatiently for him to answer. His voice came on the phone, "Who's this?" he asked since my number wasn't in his phone.

"This is Kyle," I said, "I need another favor."

He chuckled a bit and said sarcastically, "Now what?" Then he laughed to let me know he wasn't serious.

"I desperately need internet access. Do you have a wireless I could cheat onto until I can get my own?" I asked.

"Umm, yeah we do. I don't know if you can pick it up over there though. You might have to come over here. So what's the internet emergency?"

"Can I trust you to keep a secret?"

"I'm nosy, but I'm not a snitch."

"All right. To get to the dance, I have to get my mom out of the house, but have her leave the car behind. So I'm actually going to see if I can book her a night at this fancy spa hotel she always wanted to go to in Frisco. I'll offer it as a peace offering gift for causing all the trouble that I have lately."

"Why do you need her to leave the car and how are you going to manage that?" Justin asked.

"I made a spare key for the car so I can drive it to the dance, but I haven't completely figured out how to keep her from driving it," I explained. "Maybe I could flatten two tires or something."

"You can drive already? Were you held back in school or something?" Justin asked.

I didn't know him well enough to trust him with that information so I let him believe I was legally old enough to drive. Then he had a suggestion for the car that was brilliant and he even offered to show me how to do it, since I knew very little about cars. He was right that I couldn't get his signal at my place. His network came up but the signal was really weak, so I packed my laptop over to his place. His mom was gone to the cable show taping and we had the place to ourselves.

"Dude, your bedroom is cool. You're way into military stuff aren't you?" There were posters and photos of soldiers in the middle east, particularly one tall, dark haired soldier. "Is this guy your dad?" I asked.


"Is he still deployed?"


"Oh, I just wondered, because you only talked about your mom. I was sort of assuming you didn't have a dad around."

"Oh. Yeah."

"Am I being too nosy?" I asked.

"I'll tell you. My dad was severely injured in Desert Storm. It messed with his head and when he came home, he was angry all the time. He lives with my grandparents now and my mom had to divorce him." The sadness on Justin's face was deep and I felt bad for bringing it up.

"Wow, I'm sorry man. That must really hurt. Do you see him ever?"

"Sometimes I spend a weekend there. He'll be okay like his old self for a while and I start to get my hopes up and then I'll say or do something that will set him off and he'll just start screaming at me for no real reason. So my grandpa has to always be around when I'm there with him. It sucks. I miss him."

I didn't know what to say. "I see. So why do you keep all the military stuff around. Aren't you angry at the army and the war for what happened to your dad?"

"No. I love the military. It's what keeps us free. My dad made a great sacrifice to keep us safe and secure, and well I guess my mom and I made a sacrifice too since we basically lost him. In lots of ways it would be easier if he had just been killed. But he wasn't, and I keep hoping someday they'll find a way to cure him and he can come back to us. It was the damn terrorist extremists who harmed my dad and I want to go fight them when I'm old enough. My mom is freaked out about my joining the army, so I made a compromise with her. I'm going into intelligence where I can serve my country but not be in the battlefield. That's why I'm studying languages and why I love RPG."

"Wow, that's awesome. I'm impressed."

Justin shrugged off the compliment and asked, "So tell me about your covert operation." I decided I could definitely trust Justin, so I gave him the full story behind my coming to live with my mom. He listened without interruption except for an occasional clarifying question here and there. I told him about wrestling and making friends with William and the bonfire and then the party and finally my experience in Juvey. I left out the part about me and Scotty being in love with each other and his offer to give me my virgin impaling after the dance. Other than that, I told him everything.

We bonded quickly and he became an ally. I got online and found the hotel/spa website and booked a room with double occupancy. Justin wanted to know why I did it for two people and I explained that she would want to take a close friend with her. I didn't tell him the friend was Reverend Rick, of course.

"I don't think my mom will want to miss services on Sunday, what time are they held?" I asked, fearing they would be too early.

"Normally, there are services at nine and then again at one in the afternoon. But this week because of the cable show services, the nine o'clock one is cancelled. I think he wanted to encourage attendance at tonight's meeting."

"Great. That would give them time to have breakfast and drive home. This could just work."

"How are you paying for this? Are you rich or something?" Justin asked.

"I'm not, but my dad's a doctor and he's loaded. I just happen to have his credit card information in my wallet from when I went shopping for school clothes. My mom wouldn't take me and my dad didn't have time, so I bummed a ride to the mall with my friend's mom and I bought what I wanted. I just kept his credit card info in my wallet."

"Won't he be pissed when he sees the charge? Shouldn't you clear it with him first?"

"Maybe. But he owes me and it's a hell of a lot easier to get forgiveness than permission on this one." We both laughed at that. I entered the credit card information and printed out the confirmation. "Get dressed and let's go to church."

Justin agreed to take me and I rushed back to my apartment and pulled on my Wal-Mart Chino's and a collared shirt. I met Justin in the courtyard and we did a fast paced walk to the chapel. It was full. The curiosity factor for the cable show taping had definitely brought out the crowd. We found standing room in the back and I watched the last half of the spectacle. It was hard to get into the spirit of a church service because they kept stopping and restarting for the taping process. It was obvious that the process was new and unfamiliar to everyone. I'm sure if they kept at it, they would get it down better. I was moved by the closing choir number and was amused by Reverend Rick's flowery prayer at the end. I did notice that he was wearing pants under his robe and I snickered under my breath over that.

As soon as he said amen, the camera and sound crews immediately started tearing down their equipment. The organist was playing postlude music, but that just added to the pandemonium. People were streaming up to the Reverend glad handing and congratulating him on a wonderful service and my mom was standing next to him glowing and gushing over in the shared limelight. It suddenly struck me like a lightning bolt that all my mom really wanted was to feel important and needed. She'd probably felt that when she was helping my dad get through medical school, but then after he became a successful physician, she was excluded and the glory and satisfaction of his work was all his and that's probably why she turned to all the phony charity work with Reverend Rick. I felt a tremendous sadness over it all. I actually felt some empathy for her.

Justin found his mom and she was surprised to see him there. He introduced me and told her that I had asked him to bring me to the meeting. She was immediately impressed by that and decided that I was a good friend for her son. She mentioned several times how pleased she was that I moved into the complex. I wondered how happy she would be if she knew what my real motivations were. Once the crowd started to thin, I made my way up to the podium. I waited for my turn to meet the new star Reverend and my mom's eyes widened when she spotted me. She was obviously nervous about me being there and took a defensive posture moving in closer to the Reverend.

"Hello Reverend," I said brightly reaching to shake his hand. Turning slightly to my mom, I smiled and said, "Hi mom." Then addressing the Reverend again, I said, "I talked Justin here into bringing me to attend this big event. I'm glad I came. It was really wonderful."

"Well, that's nice of you to come and to comment. I'm very pleased with it and I'm happy with the size of the audience. I hope the production is well received by the cable audience as well. It's nice to see you again …" The Reverend paused, desperately searching his memory for my name.

My mom jumped in to rescue him, "Yes, Kyle, it was nice of you to come and thank you Justin for showing him the way. I'm glad he has a friend in the apartment complex. Do you regularly attend services here?"

"Yes ma'am. My mother and I attend on Sunday afternoons. But she came tonight also. I wasn't going to, but Kyle wanted to attend so I came with him." Justin politely shook my mother's hand.

"Kyle, I look forward to getting to know you much better now that you are living here with your mother. She has been a wonderful help to me in getting this all put together and furthering the work of our Lord in this part of the vineyard. I'm sure you and I can become good friends. He gave me a warm, gracious smile and I was almost charmed by him and probably would have been if I didn't know a few truth's about what was going on behind the scenes with my mom.

"Listen, I feel bad for being such a problem recently to my mom with all the stuff that's gone on recently." Turning to my mom I said, "I feel like I owe you an apology and well, I had some money saved up for a wrestling camp that I wanted to attend this summer and I guess now I won't be needing that. I was thinking that now this big event is over you might need a little stress relief. I know how hard you worked to help the Reverend make it go well and could see how stressed I made you in the middle of it all. Then, I remembered there was this spa and resort place over near Frisco you always wanted to go to but never could work it out and I got on line over at Justin's house and booked the day and night there for two people and paid for it. I booked a massage and spa treatment for you and a friend, unless you think Dad might want to go with. But, he's probably too busy so maybe you could find a friend to go with you. I know it's kind of impulsive of me, and I was just hoping you didn't have a conflict. Justin said that you don't have morning services this Sunday, so you could still get back in time for church after Sunday brunch at the spa. Will you accept this gift as my apology and peace offering?"

My mother's face drifted from mistrust to pleasant surprise and back to mistrust. "Are you being straight about this? Did you really do that?"

Justin jumped in and said, "Oh yes. I was right there when he booked it. He really feels bad for the way he treated you. I can't imagine how bad he must have been, but he seems like a pretty nice guy to me. Show her the information you printed out on it, Kyle."

I pulled the information that I'd printed from the website out of my pocket and unfolded it. Mom and the Reverend looked it over. I purposely chose pictures of couples walking hand in hand in bathrobes and looking dreamily at each other over a candlelight dinner.

"Oh, I don't know if I could. I mean, there is still so much to do here. I don't really know who I could take with me. What do you think, Reverend?"

"Well, Clovis, from what you've described, Kyle certainly has added a lot of stress to your life lately and something like this could be very good for you. And, it would be wrong not to accept such a thoughtful and humble sacrifice from your son. The Lord loves a contrite heart. I'm sure you could find someone to accompany you. I suggest you accept it."

I struggled so very hard not to burst into a smile. I was pretty sure the Reverend already had someone in mind to accompany her to the resort. We made a little more small talk and then I excused myself saying I really needed to get home and take a pill. My mom offered to drive me and Justin home. On the short ride, Mom questioned Justin about who his mother was and my mom was very pleased to find out that Justin's mother taught English at CCAB. When we got into the apartment, Mom grilled me to the third degree over my change of attitude and blatantly accused me of being up to something. I played the sorrowful, repentant child and she finally bought off on it. She hugged me and said, "My old Kyle is coming back to me already. I knew it was the right thing for you to come live with me." That was an unexpected consequence of my little plan, but I certainly deserved it.

Mom was exhausted and went to bed after she took another one of my pain pills. I was bothered by it but didn't say anything. My phone buzzed and I looked at it in surprise. It was Justin sending me a text. "Dude," he wrote, "that was AWESUM! I can tell I gonna like u! Meet me at 7 for the car stall op."

"10-4 dude. THX" I wrote back. I added Justin as a contact and then pulled out Officer Milsap's card and added his number too. Then I made my bed and fell asleep, gently stroking my dick and thinking about Scotty fucking me nice and tender. I could practically imagine his warm body pressed against mine and smell his intoxicating cologne. "It was almost too easy.

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