After cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we headed into the game room where we got into vigorous video games but were soon bored with nothing to do.
I suggested, "Let's walk into town and see what's going on."
Nathan agreed then ran to his room and then was back in a flash fully dressed in fashionable blue jeans, a Chicago Bears T-shirt, black socks, white Sketcher tennis shoes, a Bears jacket and a wide ear to ear grin.
The day was warm in comparison to the winter cold we had had. Light jackets were just fine as we strolled up and down the streets, peering into this window and that window, wishing for some things as if they were some kind of star or something. But then one of the shops with dolls in the display cases caught my attentions. Immediately, my mind went back to June and Dave's. June had many, many dolls scattered about their home…
"Come on, let's go look … maybe we can find something that June doesn't have. Do you think she collects dolls?" I asked absentmindedly.
"Duh. Did you know you're a dumb shit?" Nathan playfully stated factually.
After tickling his ribs relentlessly for a moment, he led the way into the shop just to get away from my ministrations, I'm sure.
A lady named Linda greeted us, and seeing that we were kids quickly went on the defensive, and followed us around like we were some kind of thieves, or something.
After looking around for a while, by the cash register was a beautiful, beautiful doll. The inscription in its pedestal stated "Shirley Temple".
"Who's Shirley Temple?" Nathan asked Linda inquiringly. I nodded.
"She was a little girl who was in the movies years ago. If you're looking to buy 'that' doll , then you're in the wrong place because there's no way you can afford something like that. Why don't you boys run along now? I'm busy."
"Hey lady, we're just in here to look around. We are looking for a present to give to the lady who is going to adopt us." Nathan shot back.
Her whole demeanor changed dramatically; she became interested in us and our plans, then she went on and talked about the doll, its origins, and the little girl it portrayed. I was convinced that someday, somehow we would acquire it.
I had $50.00 in my pocket… I asked, "How much does this doll cost? It's beautiful."
"Well, it lists for $2,700.00 cash. We've marked it down 4 times… I'm sure we can work something out… say $750.00."
"Okay, thanks. I'll try and figure something out… we want it." I said woefully then sadly, Nathan and I then rejoined the busy and loud sidewalk with people all around.
Half a block down the street, we passed by an old fashioned barber shop, I said, "Let's go check it out. I've kind of been thinking lately…"
"Oh no, Joey's thinking…" Nathan giggled. I chased him around the block, nearly getting hit by cars twice, but car traffic was light and the vehicles were moving slowly through the square so we were in no real danger with our antics.
When we arrived from where we started, we walked into the barber shop. Two customers were inside having their hair cut. One was a guy who was maybe 16 or 17 years old. Vaguely, he appeared to be familiar but I could not place where I'd seen him before. He turned his head in our direction and then he smiled warmly and said, "Hey Joey, how's it going, long time no see, where ya you been?"
It was then I recognized him. His name was Jeff, or so he had said. He had been a high paying snot 'customer' who had liked me to be rough. He always had really, really good shit too, and besides that he had paid some serious attentions to my needs often times taking me to higher sexual highs than Wayne had ever thought of doing.
"Hey Jeff, how's it hanging?"
"A little more off the ears, please." He said to the barber, a man probably 50 years old or older, who had slightly graying hair, short, high and tight, in good shape for an old guy, wearing a pleasing smile on his face.
Nathan spoke up asking, "Mister, do you have a bathroom I can use, please?"
"Sure thing, it's in the back room and down the hall to the right."
Nathan took off after playfully smacking me on the butt and pulling my hair in the process. "You're dead meat." I said then acted like I was taking off after him. He was squealing as he ran down the hall fast and then slammed the door shut.
"He's a live wire… is he your brother?" The man asked giggling.
"I don't claim him." I chuckled then sat down to wait.
Jeff spoke up, "What happened to ya man, I've been missing you?"
"Uhm, , I got sick and was in the hospital for a while a couple times."
"I hope it was nothing serious. Are you okay now?" Jeff asked genuinely.
"Yeah, I'm okay now. Thanks."
Just then, Nathan reappeared, came over and sat down close to me, pulled my ear into his face and whispered, "I've gotta show you something." Then without waiting for me to reply, he took my hands and jerked me back toward the restroom where we went in and then he quickly closed the door.
Concerned, I started to say, "Bro…."
Then I saw what he was pointing to… the bathroom walls were fully covered with still pictures of boys in various states of dress and undress, some were sucking other boys' dicks, a few had obviously men and boys involved in various states of sexual arousal… and whatnot. A 25x20 picture showed a close-up of a very large man's dick inside of a boy's hole… it was real… it was not fake.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up and out, I said, "Come on, we have nothing to worry about. We'll just go."
Nathan said, "Do you know that guy? He seems to know you."
"Yeah, I know him from our old life. I used to come up here and do business… back in our old life."
"Oh, okay, Joey…"
"Don't worry little bro… everything's cool."
While we were in there, I peed, washed my hands, dried them and then we took off for the barber shop area. The customer had who'd been in the chair had left. Jeff was paying however the barber pushed the money back into his hand. Jeff smiled warmly and then reached around the barber and obviously squeezed the older man's endowments. They were both startled when Nathan asked curiously, "What's he doing Joey?"
They both looked back toward Nathan and me. Their expressions were that of surprise but they recovered quickly.
Jeff smiled wider and said, "Don't worry about it, everything's kewl. Joey, ya want to get together later?"
"Not today, we're headed home. My bro hadn't ever seen an old-time barber shop before. It was good to see you though."
The barber fully turning around to face us said, "Well, how about a haircut, young man? Have you thought about getting a trim job, your ends are split, and well, it looks a little wild…?"
I walked over to the mirror and indeed found that what he had said was true. If the truth was known I'd thought about getting my hair cut off because it was one more thing that seemed to tie me to my past. I looked to Nathan. He shrugged his shoulders then went and took a seat.
The barber smiled. Jeff went and sat down with Nathan. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Sure. I've been thinking of cutting it all off. Do you style… I've kind of been thinking about getting it cut short and spiking it in front. Do you do that?"
"Of course, I'm familiar with the newest styles guys like to wear these days, I'm not THAT old." He chuckled.
He motioned for me to sit in the barbers' chair and then began to pump it to a high position. Nathan grinned. Jeff smiled.
The barber, Mike was his name, then put this cape like thing on me and then began cutting, snipping here and there and everywhere. Locks of hair began falling down the cape like thing that was covering my clothes. Every now and again, Mike would reach down and brush away the hair gathering in my lap. A few times, he needlessly put some pressure with his hand against the hair effectively sending twitches through my dick and up into my belly, and beyond. I'd squirm unconsciously trying to get away from his advances.
I looked to Jeff… Nathan and he were talking animatedly, and neither was paying any attention to the attentions I was receiving.
One time, Mike, when he was brushing away the hair in my lap took hold of my prong and quickly squeezed it firmly causing me to jump. I pushed his hand away quickly and said, "Haircut, remember? And not that head sir. This one ."
"Right. Yes." He replied huskily then continued trimming my bangs. Our eyes met… he was longing… and I knew precisely what he was longing for, I knew the type, I knew what to look for - and I saw it, and I sensed it… I guess it was like a second nature, or something.
Mike continued to snip, trim here and there, ministering to my haircut needs without another 'incident'. When he made up a batch of the gooey stuff used to spike hair, he whispered in my ear, "Would you be interested in doing some movies… the pay is good. I think you would like to do it. You are a fine looking young man."
"What kind of movies?" I asked knowing exactly what he was talking about yet I wasn't all that interested.
"The pay is good. One hundred dollars per hour, two fifty for two hours, one thousand for an entire day, or evening…. and double it if your brother joins you."
"Uhm, what do I have to do?"
"Just be natural. You're photogenic, you both are."
Quickly, I got to thinking… June and Dave's birthdays were coming up… the Shirley Temple doll came forefront to my mind, but I didn't have the money to buy it, and I couldn't ask Dave to pay for it… I then thought on the other side - I wouldn't do sex and I wouldn't do drugs and I wouldn't drink, no matter what. That was my old life.
"No drugs. No sex. No booze." I replied.
"No drugs. No booze." He said hesitatingly.
"Fifteen hundred dollars for four hours; take it or leave it. My brother's not involved." I said, not believing that I had said what I had just said.
"Fifteen hundred dollars for three hours with your brother take it or leave it." Mike countered.
"One thousand for two hours… without my brother and that's final. Take it or leave it."
"Seven hundred fifty with your brother for one hour take it or leave it."
"Two thousand five hundred for one hour with my brother with no sex, drugs or booze... that's my absolute last deal. Take it or leave it."
Nathan looked up at me away from Jeff… he smiled shrugging his shoulders. Jeff looked at me, wiggled his eyebrows several times.
"How does that look, Joey? You look like a movie star if you ask me." Mike said smiling. He pulled out a mirror then handed it to me. After he moved the chair around so that I could see all angles, I found that he had done a really good job, and I really liked it.
"Movie star, right, of course." I mused out loud, mainly to myself.
Jeff got up, pulled the blinds in the shop, locked the door, grabbed the broom and began sweeping up the floor. He stopped when I got down from the chair then said, "That's some wicked good looking hair… hey Mike, we ought to donate it… you know for those kids who have cancer and stuff."
"That's a good idea, Joey?"
"Yeah, that's fine, kewl." I replied and reached down to pick up large locks of my hair. Nathan joined us and soon we had a small sack full. Mike closed it up with a stapler then sat it on the table between the chairs for customers waiting or for their visitors who accompanied them to the barber shop.
"I live just up the hill. It's about 5 minutes from here." Mike said excitedly.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed a bulge about the size of Nathan's cockhead pressing against the fabric of his jeans. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, he giggled then looked down at my crotch. I reached deep down into my front pocket and adjusted that which was causing my jeans to clearly show its interest and excitement. I wiggled my eyes and nodded to Nathan, hopefully indicating for him to do the same thing. He's a smart kid in that he rearranged his stuff so that the interest and excitement he too was obviously feeling would not be 'so' obvious.
That said and done, we went out through the back door and then walked two blocks to the south and arrived at a large mansion with pillars adorning its front porch area. The place was impeccably well kept. The building was inviting. I looked at my watch; it read 12:20pm. I said, "The time starts now. Not negotiable. Nathan and I always stay together, understood?"
One hour later we were walking down the street toward our home when Nathan said, "That was easy. I like your haircut, Joey. That was really kewl. I hope we get to do it again."
"Yeah, I guess. Don't get used to it though. I want to get out of that life, and I damn sure don't want you to be involved, do you hear me?" I said harshly.
"God, don't have a cow. All we had to do was jack off. They didn't make me do anything I didn't want to do. They didn't make you do anything either."
"Nathan, don't you fucking understand anything? That guy does not make that kind of money cutting fucking hair. Didn't you pay attention to that camera equipment … they were high dollar shits, top of the line."
"I'm just a kid, I don't know about that shit. Have you ever done that before?"
"No Nathan!" I shouted clearly angry with myself for putting Nathan into the position that he had been put into. He had not heard, or did not pay any attention to moaning and other subservient noises consistent with varying states of sexual arousal coming from those rooms where we did the 'photo shoot'.
As soon as the words left my mouth in the way they had came out, I regretted them immediately.
Nathan took off running after looking at me with a deep down hurt in his eyes and clearly on his face. I took off and finally caught up him a block later. I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him into me. He was fighting and punching me trying to get away, but, I held fast until he calmed down. I continued to hold him. Finally, he wrapped his arms around my chest and squeezed tightly.
"I'm sorry bro. I should never have done what I made you do. I'm mad at myself, not at you. I'm not mad at you bro. I love you dude. I was a bad brother for taking you there, for putting you in danger."
"What do you mean by putting me in danger? We weren't in any danger, were we? Were you in danger, Joey?"
With tears streaming down my cheeks, I replied, "Bro, I know some things that you don't. Just trust me on this one. And NEVER, EVER go back to that house… do understand me?"
"Yeah, just don't have a cow. I won't go. If we go back, I'll go with you, okay, I promise."
"We're not going back, bro. Come on. Just trust me."
Nathan wiped the tears from my eyes and face with the hem of his shirt then we took off down the hill for town where we stopped in at the doll shop where I bought June the doll for $750.00 and some change. We then took off for home. Nobody was home yet so I quickly went to my room and sat the doll case in the back corner of my closet, put some clothes and junk around it so that it would not be seen.
I was itching all over from the haircut so I took a shower and then used the tube of 'do' stuff and redid the spikes in my hair. When it was just right, I went to my room and got dressed in clean, hair-free clothes.
A couple of hours later, June, Dave and Derrick returned. As it were, Nathan greeted them just as we had planned, and I waited in my room to make a grand entrance.
Happily, when everyone was gathered in the kitchen with their eyes covered adequately, I entered the kitchen and Nathan told everybody, "Open your eyes!"
June covered her mouth with her hands. She was smiling wildly, walked over and pulled me into a deep, deep hug then whispered, "I like it. I like it a lot. You look so handsome… you look like a movie star!"
I choked, coughed and sputtered. Nathan's eyes glazed over then he giggled wildly, "Yeah, a movie star, definitely, he's the type." I shot him a look that said I'd kill him later on (LOL, a figure of speech know between older and younger brothers!)
Dave readily approved. Derrick said that he was going to get his hair cut in the exact same way, and then asked where I'd had it done, and who had done it.
After a pregnant pause, I replied exactly where and who had done it. Derrick looked at me intently, Dave took a deep breath, June nodded approvingly and hugged me again and then announced we were going out to eat since she was not on call and had no critical patients to be concerned about.
Dinner was great… we went to a high priced Japanese restaurant where the chef cooked the custom dinner on the table area directly in front of its customers. I was amazed with the speed, dexterity, and theatrics they perform in preparing the meal… I was impressed by its sights and sounds, and the meal was superb.
After dinner, we went to a movie and returned home well after midnight. We were all very tired, and after good nights, I went to my room, shucked off my clothes, got into bed then jacked off a really good one and fell fast asleep.
The following morning, I was awoken by a presence in my room. Quickly, I turned over in bed only to see June standing there with my pants in her one hand and a wad of cash in the other one. She said, "I came to get your clothes so that they could be done in the laundry. I found this, Joey . Where did it come from? I need to know right now, right now this moment."
Disappointment, and perhaps anger, was clearly written all across her face. Her eyes did not waver away from mine, while mine did waiver from hers. She did not move. Her eyes never left mine, not for one second.
"Can I get up? I'm not dressed…"
"I DON'T CARE if you are dressed or not… I want know where this $1,800.00 came from, and I want to know NOW!" June hissed angrily.
Everything from the day before passed before my eyes. Immediately, fear, dread, shame, guilt and a sense of loneliness and despair came and threatened to engulf my mind, body and spirit. My morning wood withered away on its own volition; I broke out in a cold sweat; my heart felt like it was going to explode out the front of my chest so I covered it up with the blanket thinking that it would keep the mess to a minimum; my full morning bladder lost all control; soon the flow showed through the blanket and thoroughly drenched the mattress I was lying on. She did not waiver. She didn't even twitch. Her stance changed not one bit.
Just then Nathan came sauntering into my room. Without losing any attentions to me, calmly she said, "Nathan, please leave, Joey and I are talking. Close the door behind you."
"Okay, sorry." Nathan said then saw the wad of cash that June was holding in her hand then he added contritely, "I think I should stay ma'am."
That broke her gaze away from me. She turned and looked at Nathan, "Go put some clothes on." Then she turned back to me and locked her gaze back in.
"I'm waiting." June said decisively.
After taking a deep breath, I sat up in bed, wrapped the sheet around me and then stood up, walked over to her, looked in her eyes then sincerely and painfully said, "We made a movie. It was my fault."
"What do you mean 'A movie'?"
"What do you mean by 'we'? Was Nathan involved?"
"Uhm, yes ma'am, yes he was."
Just then Nathan, Dave and Derrick entered my room. Derrick sat on the chair in front of the computer while Dave walked over and joined his wife, "Joey and Nathan made a pornographic movie… how much did they pay you Joey… how much was selling your body worth in paper money?" She then handed the wad of cash to Dave.
After counting it out he said, "There's only $1,800.00 here. Joey, you're worth a million gazillion dollars. You far undersold yourself. Nathan is worth a million gazillion bucks... he, too, was far undersold."
"You boys could have been drugged, raped, or even killed." June said worriedly then added, "Joey…?"
"No ma'am. We took no drugs, no way. I promised you and my friends… I promised myself."
Dave spoke up, "What do you mean by 'pornographic'?"
"Uhm, well, they took pictures of us undressing, uhm, you know. I guess we, well, I mean, err well I masturbated…"
"Me too." Nathan piped up.
"On camera?" Dave asked.
"Yeah, on camera, but they didn't do anything else to us, you know…, I mean I wouldn't have let them do anything more… I mean it. And I would have killed them if they had touched Nathan, I swear to God I would have."
"Young man, I don't like that tone of voice and those words. I'm sure you were not dealing with a couple of third graders that you could beat up on the playground, now were you?"
"No ma'am. It was all wrong… and I knew it but I didn't think any harm would come of it or I wouldn't have done it. My intentions were all in the right place, I guess, I mean, well, err, uhm… I'm sorry… uhm, I just peed myself again… may I be excused please, sorry." I said as the pee flowed through the sheet, down my legs and onto the carpet, again. My legs began shaking, they felt like lead weights were attached and holding them in place.
"Joey, you are excused child. Dave, Derrick would you please … Nathan, stay here with me."
With Derrick on one side and Dave on the other side, they helped me walk into the bathroom, "Okay Derrick, thanks. We'll be out in a little while but first would you get Joey a pair of underwear from his dresser and bring them here?" Dave said calmly.
"I'll be right back." Derrick said casually with concern etched on his face.
Dave led me into the shower then turned on the water to get things started then took the sheet away and helped me in once the temperature was just right. After cleaning up, he handed me a towel that I used to dry off with and then he handed me my underwear but I was unable to stand on one leg to put them on so I got out, sat down on the toilet and got them on and pulled up… then sat back down as a wave of extreme sadness took me by surprise.
Dave sat down on the floor then took me in his arms and held me while I cried in my own personal shame and guilt, and for putting Nathan in a dangerous situation. I explained I would never intentionally put him or anyone else in that position. I then told him about the doll and how I had desperately wanted to get it for June's birthday that was coming up soon. He held me tight as I sobbed hysterically after he told me that the doll would have to go back because his wife would not accept a present from me in the way I had acquired the money to buy it. What really drove it home for me was when he said, "Joey, my wife, and your mother if you will allow her to be, is very simple and does not expect very much from any one of us, you and your brother included. She would be just as happy, if not happier receiving one of those plastic rag dolls from one of the local Cheaper-Mart discount houses. Don't give up on yourself, Joey. Now's not the time to do that… no time is the right time. You messed up… I will tell you right now that my wife's anger comes from her fright that something could have happened to you and your brother. She works in a very busy hospital where they see all kinds of trauma and bad things happening to kids. Some nights, she cries herself to sleep at what kids do to each other, and at what she sees adults doing to children, and yes, what children do to adults."
"I'm sorry that she has to see that stuff. But I know that she's a really good doctor." I shuddered violently at thinking of some of the stuff I've seen in my young life while living and surviving the streets on the south side of Chicago. Dave pulled me into his chest and wrapped his arms around me protectively. We sat there quietly in our own thoughts. I started dozing off to sleep but caught myself then said, "I need to go make things right. Would you let me talk to her alone? I mean, I've screwed this up so I need to fix it."
I started to get up but Dave pulled me back down into his lap and said softly, "Joey, you don't have to do this alone. We're all involved as we are family and we don't let our family do things alone whenever and wherever possible. Trust us."
"My friends say that trust is earned. I'm not doing a very good job of earning your trust. I think I need to do this on my own, if that's alright?"
"Joey, you're going to be okay. Those were the words I was waiting to hear from you."
That said, I got up off of his lap, shook as a chill briefly took over my body but quickly warmed back up when he wrapped a towel around my shoulders. Unable to stop myself, I turned around and wrapped my arms around him and held him tightly, for all I was worth. Was I really worth a million gazillion dollars?
When I entered my room, June was just finishing up with putting clean dry sheets on my bed. When our eyes met, hers softened… they had unshed tears in them. Quickly, she dabbed the water droplets to keep them from flowing down her cheeks. Her efforts were unsuccessful because they kept coming.
I looked Dave deep in his eyes. He went to his wife, held her in an embrace and kissed her softly then said, "Joey needs to talk to you, okay? He wants to make things right. Come on boys; let's go find something to do."
After they exited, I slowly walked to the door and closed it securely then stood there for a moment or two to get my wits about me, and to ask for guidance and direction from a power greater than myself because I did not know exactly to say to her so that I could make her not cry.
As if she knew what was going on in my mind, she picked out a pair of jeans from my closet and slowly walked over, handed them to me and said, "Here put these on, you look cold, look at those goose bumps on your arms and legs."
The strength in my legs had returned so I quickly pulled those jeans up and then she handed me a white down sweater which I immediately put on. It was warm. She said, "It just came out of the dryer a few minutes ago, I hope it's still warm."
'It's perfect. Thanks." I replied sincerely then without provocation or forethought, I pulled her into my arms and held her tightly as renewed emotions spilled from my eyes and rolled down my cheeks onto her bosom.
When our initial emotions passed, I led her to the bed where we sat down on its edge. I took her hand in mine and said with all the sincerity I'd ever experienced with another human being, ever, "I'm sorry for scaring you. I'm sorry for putting Nathan in danger. I didn't mean to do either one. Nathan is my flesh and blood… he's nothing like my older brothers were, and I hoped and prayed that I would never ever be like them, but I'm not doing too good of a job of being a son or brother. I mean, no… uhm… what I'm trying to say… were you really serious about being our mom, or mother, or something like that… sorry that didn't come out right… I can't seem to get anything to come out right…"
"What's your heart saying, child? The words are there… they may be foreign objects up here … but those words, those feelings are right here . Don't be afraid of them, just let them flow."
"Uhm, okay. Well, my Ma is dead. She died. If I'd have… I mean, she gave birth to me and did everything she could to make me straight and tall… well no, she didn't try to make me straight… I mean…"
"I understand honey. You're gay… that's not an issue because nothing is wrong with you child. You walk a different beat… it takes all heartbeats in the world to make it spin on its axis…"
"She was okay with that although we never did really sit down and talk about it… I guess I just knew… anyway, what I'm trying to say is that Ma was Ma and nobody can take her place, but you have been giving me something that she could not give… I mean she loved me, I know she did… she worried so much, and well I gave her a lot to worry about. What I'm trying to say is that you are touching me in a way that I've never been touched, and you are just being you. I've been watching you and Dave and Derrick… and Nathan too. Would you really be my mom?"
"Only if you will be my son… I've been trying to figure out how to ask you to be my son. I see that we're having some of the same difficulties in getting this to here … I'll really be your mom but only if you'll be my son."
"What if we do it one day at a time?"
"I'm willing to commit to be your mom. I can't see us being on a one day at a time commitment though. What I see happening is that we're making our personal commitments to each other and then we take each thing that comes along one day at a time."
"Okay… I commit to being your son, and then I'll take everything else one day at a time. Is it okay if I call you mom or …"
"Mom will work. Can I call you son, or do you want me to continue calling you Joey?"
"Either one is just fine. Funny, but my mother never called me son, not ever… she'd just call me Joey or child or whatever…"
"Son, let me tell you something. It's something you need to hear. _. Honey, I'll never replace your birth mother. I will never intend to even try. I can't be her. She can't be me."_
"Oh, I already knew that. Ma could not ever make lasagna right, and your tacos - well, they are not Ma's." I said giggling.
"Oh, so you like my lasagna huh?"
"Oh yes ma'am. It's the best ever on this whole entire planet."
After hugs and more hugs, the conversation turned even more serious… at least she had this grave concerned look on her face. Immediately, I felt the fear rise up from the pits of my stomach, and it threatened to take me over but then she put her hand on mine and patted it gently before saying, "Joey, son, I'll never kick you out of your home here. You've already promised to never sell your body in this house… I believe you. You've given me no reason to doubt the sincerity of your promise. You've also promised to not do drugs or drink alcohol in our home, and to not come home high or drunk … you've kept that promise … those are the only things that would immediately jeopardize your staying here. Do we have that understood?"
"Yes ma'am, perfectly." I replied readily, easily.
at the Kitchen Table
Nathan, Dave and Derrick walked out of Joey's room with Dave having his arm around Nathan's shoulders urging him along. They sat down at the kitchen table. The younger boy looked to Derrick and then to Dave. He was deeply contemplating the events that led up to his brother, Joey, and him being called on the carpet just because they wanted to purchase for June a memorable present.
Nathan wasn't at all proud with completely undressing in front of a bunch of men and other boys both younger and older than he but with Joey, his brother, with him he felt safe, or as safe could be. He didn't see anybody doing bad things but he did hear grunts, groans, moans and shouts that he'd not really heard before, although Joey and Wayne had definitely been vocal with their musings in his bedroom back at the apartment where we had lived with Ma and Christopher.
Nathan thought it over the top when Joey had looked at him when his brother grasped his penis and coaxed it into a full out erection. It was really good for Nathan to see his brother's sex problems essentially gone. Joey had looked at Nathan and nodded that he should coax his boyhood into excitement. Joey had whispered in Nathan's ear, "It's okay bro. We get hard, we shoot, and then it's over. We get paid then we're outta here."
And so it was. They shot their juices onto the carpet in front of the camera and those people, quickly dressed, collected their money from the barber who in the kitchen was sucking off a kid about Nathan's age, and then took off for the doll shop, bought it, and then headed home where Joey stashed the present in his closet.
Still looking down at the table Nathan said, "Joey and I, well we just wanted to buy her a beautiful Shirley Temple doll. Joey fell in love with it, and so did I. Anyway, I don't think we really did anything wrong."
Dave carefully considered his words before speaking. He reached for Nathan and gently guided his face so that they could speak together. Dave would later teach Nathan to look at the person he was speaking with or from whom he was being spoken to. Carefully Dave said, "Nathan, what you two boys did was wrong. You can't 'earn' your money illegally… it's just not right. There is no gray area when children are engaging in pornography. You do know what pornography is, right?"
Nathan nodded then attempted to lower his head but Dave gently urged the boy to continue to look at his speaker. Dave continued, "Nathan, you and Joey were in danger no matter how you cut it. Did you and Joey know the people who were taking the pictures?"
Nathan shrugged his shoulders, "Well, kind of... I mean the barber dude cut Joey's hair. They were talking while Jeff was telling me about the times that he and Joey had had... it didn't sound bad, I mean well they ran together. He was grateful that the barber dude took him off the streets and got him out of drugs and shit. Sorry. So I really didn't think..."
Dave said assuredly, "That's exactly how they work. They act like friends to you. They hook you into the game by building confidences so that you relate. Then they move in, and because you trust them, within reason, you'll feel safe doing unsafe things. Did anybody touch your penis or your behind?"
Nathan readily replied, "No. Joey told me that nobody would be touching us. Well, I guess Jeff did touch me in the barber shop... kinda... sorta... he brushed some crumbs off my lap... and well he grabbed my dick but just for a second."
Dave said seriously, "Is that all he did to you?"
Nathan nodded, "Yes. I pushed his hand away but he was already done."
Dave asked, "Did Joey see Jeff touch you?"
"No. He was busy... that barber was grabbing his dick. He was brushing the hair out of his lap... but I saw it. Oh yeah, I had to use the bathroom. I was sitting on the toilet and well there were pictures of guys and kids doing stuff... one picture showed a big man fucking this kid. He was a little kid too... like maybe 2nd or 3rd grade." Nathan said, embarrassed.
Dave said, "Nathan, I appreciate your honesty. I need to tell you something... please do not use the F word in front of my wife. That word hurts her feelings. As I'm sure you already know, my wife and Derrick's mother is a gentle, kind person who doesn't deserve to hear that kind of talk. She hears enough of it at the hospital - but that just happens... there's not much she can do to keep her patients mouths closed... but here at home it is a different story, okay?"
Nathan nodded, "I guess I have a lot to learn. We didn't pay much attention... we probably should have. Anyway, okay, well I won't do it again. It didn't seem right but we needed the money."
Derrick said, "I've been down that road Nathan. Jeff and I had full out sex together. We did it under the camera. Anyway, I guess I was about 15 wasn't I dad?"
Dave nodded to Derrick, "You'd just turned 15 a few days before."
Derrick looked back to Nathan and told him how he got roped into doing it more than once, usually two or three times a week. He told him that he also got hooked into doing some drugs because they made him feel what he was doing was okay.
Dave chimed in and said that he was surprised that their enterprise had restarted. Yet, at the same time, he wasn't all that surprised because Mike the barber only got a slap on the hand and Jeff was returned to his parents' home.
Nathan, uncomfortably, squirmed in his chair, rung his hands as if they were wet, a sheen of sweat on his forehead became visible. Dave and Derrick saw what was happening and both got up and did a sandwich hug on Nathan. They held him tight as Nathan worked through his obvious fear.
He calmed down considerably after being reassured that he and Joey weren't going to get booted from the family but that he should learn from the experience and not do it again, no matter what because it was very potentially dangerous.
Nathan said, "We're used to fending for ourselves. We never had money to do anything or buy anything - for anybody!"
Dave said softly, "I'm sorry it was that way for you. I can promise you that you do not have to live that way ever again… unless you just want to when you become an adult and no longer live with us. We can't do much to stop you then but we can and will do something about it now."
Nathan added, "Okay… well, I don't want to do those things … we just didn't have much choice before…"
Derrick chirped up, "Mom and dad got pretty mad when they found out Chris and I were doing those things for money… let me tell you what though… they questioned me severely when I started flaunting money around, and I'm talking amounts of money way beyond what my allowance was… they are pretty smart actually."
Nathan nodded then asked, "How can Joey and I earn an allowance? We really want to buy that doll for mom."
Derrick spoke up to Dave: "Dad, remember that project we have planned out… maybe… well, I don't need all that money… I mean my car isn't all that important… really. Is that something you could do… maybe give them a loan or something… do you know what I mean?"
Nathan had not a clue what Derrick was saying or talking about. He did not understand why Dave suddenly got a rueful look on his face - he didn't realize, because of his young age, why Dave's wheels were spinning.
Dave replied to Derrick, "Let me think about it. Your idea is a good one. Okay, I'm okay with it. Let me talk to Joey and Nathan… and I will pass onto mom the idea of 'hiring' two additional guys to help us do the project so that we can get her input."
June and Joey walked into the room which had gotten quiet because each were in their minds thinking about what had been talked about around the table.
June looked first to Dave and then to Derrick and then to Nathan. Seeing that nobody was going to volunteer anything she said, "So are you guys talking about us… you guys suddenly got quiet, and the looks on your faces are priceless..."
Dave woefully, put-on with mock indignation replied, "Honey, we'd never do such a thing. Now why would you think we'd do something like that?" Dave was trying to keep from giggling… the look on his face was priceless… Nathan began chuckling… Derrick gave his trademark "whatever" facial expression.
June smiled then to Joey she said, "See what I have to deal with on a daily basis, Joey, I mean Son…"
Joey said seriously, "Uhm, I've got something to say but first I need to talk to Nathan. Would you excuse us for a minute, please?"
Mom looked at me curiously for a second then her expression changed to acceptance. She nodded.
We walked into my room and shut the door behind us. Nathan sat at the computer desk. I pulled him up, hugged his frame and then sat down and pulled him down on my knee and wrapped my arm around his midsection and patted his chest affectionately.
"What's up?" Nathan asked curiously.
I said, "For real... we've got a good thing here. I'm straightening things out Nathan... I've got to. I'm sorry for today. Those picture people can be ruthless. Don't you ever go back there or I'll kick your ass."
"Yeah, Dave explained things. He said they'd been busted... and oh yeah, Derrick has done the picture thing only he and another guy were full out fucking for the camera."
"No shit. Hey... uhm... look, it's like this... I mean... you've got a lot of say so... what I'm saying is that I asked June to be our mom..."
"No way dude. Are you fucking kidding? Ma's not even cold yet. I mean... what the fuck!"
Nathan started to get up but I pulled him back onto my lap, held his head by his cheeks like a vice grip. I said, "Nathan, look, they've been real good to us. I've fucked up big time but they haven't given up. We can't live like we have been, Nathan. I'm serious cuz they're giving us a chance."
Nathan jumped out of my lap then walked to the center of the room. He had his head down. He was furiously using his shirt to wipe his face. I got up, walked to him, took my brother in my arms and said, "Nathan, I miss Ma as much as you do... if I would have done something with Christopher before … well Ma might be still alive."
"No Joey, you don't understand. You saw him. There was no stopping Christopher's ass. You saw me..."
"Yeah, I saw you. Nathan, I'm sorry I didn't get there sooner... maybe..."
"Would you fucking stop it! Stop saying that shit. Dude there was no fucking alternative..." Nathan looked down to the floor. He was contemplating, deciding and formulating what he wanted, needed to say next. I remained quiet but I did pull him into my chest, and he allowed me to. He then wrapped his arms around my neck.
While he was thinking I got to thinking. Christopher shot first... if I wouldn't have done what I'd done then likely we would have all died. Although Nathan and Wayne called me a hero... while I didn't and don't believe I should carry that title I could see how they thought so...
My brother looked up and into my eyes. He was waiting for me to say something... "Okay Nathan, please don't call me a hero. I don't feel like a hero having to... to... to take my brother out. Okay... I know there wasn't anything I could have done differently. If things were the same now... I don't see any way out of it. It hurts."
"I know it does. Joey, I'm with you. Sorry I reacted like I did. You saved my life, Joey. I don't know what other word to call you but a hero..."
We heard a knock on the door. Nathan got up to answer it. He turned to me before he opened the door. I nodded so he opened it. June stepped in after Nathan motioned her in. He said, "Uhm, well Joey and I talked. Do you really want us to be your sons?"
"Nathan, we're not pushing anything on you. I'm sorry if you feel pressured but really you aren't being forced to make a decision... but I think you're already a member of this family. I've really grown to love you boys. You've been through so much in your young lives... well, I think we can start fresh now. Nathan, like I told Joey - I can't replace your birth mother. I don't want to replace your mother because it would be wrong. Honey, I am who I am. You are who you are. And your brother is who he is. My hopes are that you both will come to realize that we only want the best for you. Can we at least try?"
I walked to Nathan, put my arms around his shoulders, pulled him in for a sideways hug but remained quiet while my brother briefly contemplated. A big smile plastered across his face. I thought, "Oh shit..." because he uses that same facial expression when he's about to do something ornery. He said, "Okay... as long as you make your lasagna pretty often."
June wasn't fazed. She replied, "Yup, everybody around here likes it. So that means a 'yeah'."
June reached out her arms, wrapped them around our shoulders and pulled us into her bosom.
I said, "Dave and Derrick need to know so let's go tell them. And oh yeah, 'mom' wants us to call her 'mom'."
Nathan said, "Well duh."
With that said we walked into the kitchen. Dave and Derrick were talking quietly. They looked up. Dave got up from the chair, walked to us. Mom said, "We need to get the paperwork signed and submitted to the court. Derrick would you please join us for a moment or two? We have something to talk about."
We joined in our first family hug. It was warm and inviting and all encompassing.
Two days later, yet another brightly colored envelope arrived in the mail. Since it had no return address on it, I stacked it with the others sitting on the computer desk, unopened.
Nathan came into my room, flicked both my ears with both of his hands… the battle was on. I had him on the floor in short order and began tickling him without mercy, until he was screaming that he's soon pee his pants… then when a wet spot appeared I relented and let him up. He raced to the bathroom. While he was gone, I picked up the envelopes and examined them carefully, curiously. Finding nothing, I opened each of them up, peered inside and after seeing nothing other than the one with the obscure message, I laid them down on the table.
When Nathan walked back into my bedroom and saw the opened envelopes sitting on the table, he said, "God, you are seriously a dumb ass. Here, let me show you!"
One by one, he carefully thumb tacked each of the eight of them to the wall in a sequence that only he knew to be correct. He then walked over to me and sat down on my knee then began pointing to each of them, from left to right and then from right to left. It was then that I saw that each envelope had a single solitary letter … all put together, they spelled out that which I had always had trouble saying, or even writing out. The full realization about knocked me over like a bowling ball would do to 10 pins when a strike was thrown.
"You're kidding, right?"
Giggling, Nathan piped up immediately and reiterated what he'd been telling me all along, "You're a dumb ass!"
"Maybe so, maybe so, you might have a point. But whose initials do S.M. belong to?" I inquired. While I had put two and two together, I still needed to know for confirmation of my suspicions.
Nathan bounded off my knee and ran to his room. Quickly, he returned and handed me a small piece of paper… it had an email address on it and a phone number. He shoved it in my hand then left my room closing the door behind him.
I opened up the email client. 4 new messages greeted me. One of them was from a user called "S. M." It read:
"Have you got me figured out yet?
"Nathan says you are a dumb ass, ha haa. I know better. You're pretty smart you know. But you're pretty slow sometimes though you seem to be smarter than the average bear. Bye for now. Love you. S. M."
"So, I'm a dumb ass, eh? Slow even? What makes you think that?"
Two minutes later, an IM popped up… I did not recognize the name… Steven M. Richardson.
SMR: Hey dumb ass. It's me.
Me: Who is this? I don't know you.
SMR: Bullshit. You know me very well, ha haa. Very, very well.
Me: Where do I know you from?
SMR: Geez, I didn't believe Nathan, but you are worse than slow… from Chicago! Do you remember… when we…
Me: I don't get it, sorry, gotta go.
SMR: Doctor Joey…
My mind went into overdrive. I was just about to have a conniption fit after racking and racking and racking my brain… Dr. Joey?
Me: I don't know you. You have the wrong person. Gotta go.
SMR: Don't go, Joey. Don't you remember… you and Wayne talked to me, and told me everything was going to be okay?
Suddenly, everything rushed into my befogged and slow brain. Still with questions swirling around in my brain, there was only one way to get my questions answered once and for all…
SMR: Why would you ever think that? You might be smarter than I think.
There was only way to know for sure…
Me: Where was the last place that we all got together?
SMR: The hospital.
Me: Nope, sorry, you've got the wrong person. See ya later.
That written, I reached for the mouse to exit the conversation. I had things to do, people to see, and places to go…
SMR: No, wait.
Me: I've gotta go. See ya sometime.
SMR: You got me drunk for the very first time. Good reasons too.
Me: I got a lot of people drunk and f'ed up…
SMR: No, not like that. Not for the same reasons. Don't you remember when we met at the hospital? That was the last place…
I sat there for an undetermined few minutes trying to figure out these obscure messages that I was receiving from someone I vaguely knew came from but don't know or realize at the same time.
Finally, SMR wrote: You were blind and paralyzed. The hospital, don't you remember? You were awake, finally.
Me: Yeah, I was in the hospital, and yeah, I was blind and paralyzed… but lots of people were there…
SMR: Yeah, Wayne was there, his mom was there, Nathan, Derrick, his mom and his dad… Who else was there? Who never left your side?
Me: I don't know. I don't remember too much.
SMR: You asked me the last place… Manhole. Park. Hurt. You got me drunk…
Thinking quickly… park… hurt… got him drunk… manhole. There was only person I could think of…
Me: Skeeter, this has to be you.
It all came together… I looked down at the little light at the bottom of the screen that notates when someone on the other end is writing. After seeing that it was not lit up, I wrote: "How's your leg?"
SMR: It's all good. Thanks. Joey, I love you.
That said, tears began running freely from my eyes, which were now blurry but not because I was losing my sight again… the tears were from my happiness.
Tears clouded my eyes at finally realizing the meaning behind his words. I remembered the close relationship we'd had before he'd disappeared into thin air. I did love him. I also remembered how I'd not said those words to Wayne and how hurt he'd been... so hurt that our relationship hadn't survived. Three little words stood between Skeeter and I … I said, "I love you too."