I couldnt. Tonight. The big "couldnt." My lover wanted to, and so did I, but I couldnt. He tried everything, and nothing. He never gave up. He played, pulled, licked, caressed, blew, stroked, fingered, toyed, teased, sucked, scraped, wiggled, rolled, kneaded, rubbed, squeezed, kissed, nibbled and lapped. Nothing. Not for two fucking hours. Non-fucking hours. So he talked. He held me and talked. He held me in his arms, and just said things that were soo calming. And after a while I turned my head to his breast, and began to suckle. That was it. I responded, and he took it from there. And when the moment came, it wasnt an orgasm so much as a release. From a bondage that Im still trying to shed.
I got to Snyders just before 2:00 and waited at the counter for Becky. She was right on time, wearing shorts, a yellow top and sandals. Becky is one of the cutest girls I know. She has short hair, sort of a dark blonde. I dont think she likes her hair cuz she keeps changing it, but I do. Shes got a nice body, but she isnt what Id call beautiful. Shes cute. We met in second grade when I had a crush on her. I pushed her down on the playground. She dumped sand in my lunch. It was a match made in heaven. We started playing, and my folks would take me out to her farm a lot. She taught me how to ride a horse and milk a cow. Riding was more fun. They dont have dairy cows any more.
I ordered a malt to work on my sucking muscles, and Becky got a cherry Coke. As we waited, I said, "So, lets talk." I know, Im a brilliant conversationalist.
"Not here," she said. "Lets go for a walk."
"Its a hundred degrees outside."
"No, its not. Lets walk along the river. Its shady there."
Our town is small, about 10,000 people, but the downtown is real nice. In the middle is a three-block long park along a creek. Everyone calls it a river, but its not wide enough to be a river. I guess it sounds better to walk along the river than to walk along the creek. Wapsniboshnu River. Or creek.
Theres a walkway along the creek, covered by trees with benches scattered along the way. Theres usually a bunch of people, but on a hot afternoon like that one, not many folks want to be a way from the air conditioning, We pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Sucking hard (woohoo!) on my malt, I held the door open for Becky and we walked toward the river.
"Thanks for coming to my party last night."
"It was a great party. The best one ever. I cant believe we have to start school Monday."
"Yeah, I know. Im not ready. Summer wasnt nearly long enough."
"No, especially since you and Danny..." I cut her off.
"Why the hell is everyone so wrapped up in that damn fight? Danny and I got over it. Why cant everyone else? It was a disagreement, we didnt speak to each other for a few days, and we patched things up. Why cant everyone get over it?"
She looked at me. Id been yelling.
"Sorry," I said.
"But, Justin, everyone knows how good a friends you two are. You guys never fight. And this one seemed to be so bad. I mean, you guys are always together. And then you werent. And it was a few months, not a few days. And I guess its because no one knows what you fought about."
"And youre not going to find out."
"Okay, okay. I didnt come here to talk about the fight."
"I know. I wanted to talk to you anyway about what you said at the party last night."
"You mean when we were dancing the last dance? Dont you wonder why I danced it with you instead of Kyle?"
"Well, now that you mention it."
"I told him I was going to. Mainly because it was your birthday."
"Mainly? Any other reason?"
"I just wanted to talk to you. I wanted you to put your arms around me to see if there was anything there," she said.
"Its not twenty questions, Justin. Dont repeat me."
"Repeat you?" We both cracked up.
"I wanted to see if you felt anything for me. Before I get any more involved with Kyle. I wanted to see how you held me."
"And how did I hold you?"
"Like a good friend. But not a boyfriend."
We sat down on a bench in the shade. "Well, you could have just asked," I said.
"Huh-uh. Youre too nice, Justin. If you thought I was dating Kyle, you would let me, even if you wanted to date me. If you thought it was what I wanted, youd say you werent interested in me. That you just wanted to stay my friend. But I knew if we danced to that song, you wouldnt be able to hide it."
"So what didnt I hide?"
"You were very open. You held me like a friend from second grade."
"I know. And nothing more than that."
"Well, thats a lot, dont you think?" I said. "Thats a long time to be friends."
"Not for you. Youve been friends with Danny, Greg, Kyle and Richie longer than that."
"We grew up together. If youd lived in the neighborhood, Id have been your friend that long, too."
"But youd still be just a friend."
"Thats all I am to those guys."
"All but one," she said, looking away from me out over the river. Creek.
I sucked too hard and choked. After coughing and spluttering, I managed to gasp out, "No, I like all of them. Theyre all my friends."
"I know they are all your friends. But I think ones a better friend than the others."
"Well, yeah." I was scrambling. I knew I could still talk my way out of this. "Everyone knows Danny and I are best friends."
"Justin, stop it."
I looked at her, sort of pouting. I thought if I could give her my little boy pout shed stop. It worked a little. She smiled.
"Youre cute," she said. "I sorta wish it could be different. I like Kyle a lot, but I could fall in love with you in a minute."
"Why dont you?"
"Because I wouldnt get it back. At least, not right now."
"Becky," I said, suddenly tired. "Just come out with it. Are you mad at me?"
"No, Justin, Im not mad. Im not sure how to react."
"Well, tell me. Maybe I can help."
"Its hard to say. I might be wrong, but I dont think so. But if I am, I dont want to make you mad. I dont want to lose you as a friend."
"Becky, weve been friends since second grade."
"You and Danny have been friends forever and you broke up..." She gasped and put her hand over her mouth. I gently eased it away.
"Becky, just say what youre thinking." Tears welled up in my eyes.
"Oh, Justin. I could see it in your and Dannys eyes last night. Are you two -- I dont know -- boyfriends?" She held my gaze, and I held hers.
Until tears covered my eyes. I stood up and walked away from the bench. My greatest fear had become known, and only a few weeks into our love. It hadnt taken any time at all. Becky had seen it. Had Kyle? Greg was pretty curious last night. Were they all talking about it, wondering about it? Had Becky and Kyle talked about it?
"Justin," Becky called. "Wait. Justin."
I kept walking. Away from the situation. Away from my life. Away from, I dont know. Away from the insecurity. The sin? Nah. Pastor Ridgeway said God wanted us to be happy. But I wasnt very happy now.
Becky caught up to me and took my hand. She guided me to another bench.
"Justin, I havent told anyone what I think. But Im right, arent I?"
I stared into the grove of trees on the other bank of the river, and barely nodded. She pulled my head to her shoulder. I didnt break down and cry, I just sat there, tears slowly trickling, afraid of what was going to happen.
"Nothings going to happen, Justin," she said softly. I wished with all my being I could believe her.
"Yes, it is."
"Justin, youre the best boy friend I have. Not boyfriend, boy friend. In fact, youre one of the best friends I have. Im not going to tell anyone, Justin. I can keep a secret. Im happy for you. Its something to be in love."
"Im scared, Becky. If you know, everyone is going to be able to figure it out."
"They are if you two keep acting like you do. Like at the party last night. You two couldnt keep your hands off each other. I was so relieved when you started dancing with girls, just so you two would stop. Is it love, Justin? Or is it infatuation?"
"I think its love. I know it is on Dannys part. Hes told me how long hes loved me. I cant figure out why, but he keeps giving me reasons. Hes thought this out for a long, long time. Me, I think its love, but its so new. Hes paying all this attention to me and telling me these things, and Ive been like his brother for all these years and now I see him completely differently, and yet I dont and I dont know for sure. I tell him that I love him and I do. But I dont know if its the same kind of love he has for me."
Becky sat silent on the bench, watching the water trickle past. Its not a deep creek --er, river -- and sometimes when kids are down here with their parents they go wading in it. Its perfect for slipping your shoes and socks off and walking through. The bottom is smooth in some spots, but right where we were there were rocks, and the water rushing over them made that gentle gurgling that makes water so relaxing. I love water. Remember? The swimming hole near our homes? Where I first realized I felt something unusual for Danny? And where Danny apologized to me? Water plays an important part in my life. And now here I am with Becky, along a creek, the water singing to us, as she tells me she knows. She knows.
The silence was hard to bear. Was she putting together a tirade against me? She was going to tell me how sinful Danny and I were. She was going to call me a monster, a freak, a fag. She was going to laugh at me, maybe slap me, humiliate me. She was going to pity me and mock me. She was going to say all these things to me, and then never, ever speak to me again. Shed light me up like a super-nova and then let me die. Shed feel embarrassed because she wanted to love me and I turned out to be gay. She could never have me. I was unnatural. I was contemptible. I was evil.
"You must be hurting so much," she whispered.
She was going to lash out, vent her fears and anger and....huh?
"You must hurt so much, Justin."
"Because of your confusion."
"Im not confused."
"You just said you are. You didnt say those words, but thats what I heard. You dont know if you love Danny as he loves you. Justin, its what Ive gone through with you, and I know the hurt."
"Becky, Im so sorry," I said, and wrapped my arms around her.
"No, its okay. See, I found out that my love for you isnt the same as yours for me, and I was able to move on. Youre stuck. Youre still searching."
"No. I mean, I love Danny. I love being with him, touching him. Um, kissing him."
She smiled and looked at me. Her eyes looked at mine, then moved down to my mouth.
"Hes lucky. Youre a great kisser."
"No, you are. You should give Kyle some lessons."
"Ill pass," I said, faking a gag, and we both broke out laughing. "I had good practice."
The afternoon sun blazed down on our small town. It was comfortable in the shade, though.
"When do you have to meet your folks?" I asked.
"Were staying in town for dinner and a movie. Theres not much to do on the farm till the crops are ready to harvest. I can stay here all afternoon if you want."
"Because youre helping me sort out some things that no one else has been able to." I sighed. "Becky, the only person Ive been able to talk to about this is Danny, and, well, hes not exactly impartial in the matter. Besides, every time he looks at me I..."
"Yeah, I know. Hes got great eyes."
"Anyway, I sure as hell cant tell the other guys, and the rents. Can you imagine the explosion if I tell them?"
"Really? I like your folks. I think theyd be okay -- ummm, after the shock wore off."
"But I cant tell them. Theyve got the marriage working right now, and I dont want to do anything to upset that."
"Im not sure. He said some pretty liberal things the other day in church, but Im not sure how hed react if he found out Im in love with another boy. He might not be all that liberal."
"Then its just me?" she asked.
"Well, youre the only other person who knows, I think. But no, Im not going to make you listen to me spill my guts. You dont need that."
"You might need it."
"Geez, Becky. Youre 15. Who needs this shit at 15? Sorry. Who needs this stuff at 15? You sure as hell dont."
"Well, you seem to have to deal with it."
"Me and no one else. Its my burden."
"Justin, you need someone to talk to. Ill be that person."
"Its not fair. Not to you, not to Kyle. Spend your time with him. And if it doesnt work out, spend it with someone else. Go and be happy."
"Im your friend, arent I?"
"I hope so."
"Okay, and youre my friend?"
"Then lets make a deal. You talk to me when you need to, and Ill talk to you. We arent going to be boyfriend/girlfriend, so its perfect. When we have problems with life, well help each other. That way whoever were dating wont have to suffer the burdens of our poor souls." She laughed at that last part. Hmmmm. I could fall in love with her. But I could never be her lover.
We sat quietly for a few minutes, then I said, "You know something? You havent used the word "gay" yet."
She looked at me, searched my face. She just looked at me for about half a minute. "Neither have you."
"Well, umm, I guess Im a little scared to."
"I am, you know."
She looked at me again. "Youre Justin. Thats all I know. Youre in love. Youre having some trouble coping with it. Youre my friend. This is your first true love. Youve got questions. Youre unsure of yourself, and were sitting here in the shade talking about it. Wed probably be talking about it if youd fallen in love with Wendy or Michelle. And if youd fallen in love with me youd probably be talking to Danny about it. Ive already been talking to Megan Frankhoff about Kyle, and were not even in love yet."
"If Id fallen in love with you Id be telling EVERYONE about it. Now I cant tell anyone."
"So were talking."
"Youre Justin. Youve discovered love, and right now its with a boy. Maybe it will be forever. Maybe someday youll love a girl. Its too early to put a label on it."
Ill never love a girl, I thought, because by the time I do, Becky will be taken, and shes the only girl I could fall in love with.
"Other people will put a label on it. Becky, Im scared. When people find out..."
"They wont. Not if you two behave yourselves."
"I dont know if we can."
"You have to, or face the consequences."
"Its not fair."
"No, its probably not, but this is what you two have chosen for yourselves, and you know the risk. You know it up front, Justin, and fair or not, you cant ignore what might happen."
"It didnt happen with you."
"Im a cool chick." We both laughed a little.
"Others have survived, Justin, even thrived."
"How do you know?"
"I just do."
"You think we can survive?"
"Yes, if you keep your mouths shut."
I conjured up an image and looked at her. I MUST be transparent, cuz she looked at me a moment, and her eyes got wide, she jumped a little and said, "Eww, gross! I didnt mean....oh, gross. Geez, Justin." She did a little shiver.
"See, you arent okay with it."
"Well give me a little time to get used to it."
I came up with another image of a rainy Sunday afternoon....but I didnt even look at her this time."
The sun had reached its fullest intensity, and it was getting hot, even in the shade.
"How were you able to tell about me and Danny?" I asked in almost a whisper.
She thought for a moment.
"Like I said, you two were touching each other all night last night. He had his arm around you as you were opening your birthday presents."
"He always does that."
"Okay. But I could also see it in his eyes. And in yours. Especially yours."
"What! What did you see? Exactly what did you see?"
"You didnt just look at his eyes. When you looked at him you looked at his whole face, his mouth, cheeks, nose and eyes. And youd hold a stare for longer than any two boys that I know."
"How could you pay so much attention to us?"
"Justin, I love you. I was watching you all last night. I dont know, I guess I notice these things about people. I like watching people, their eyes, their faces. Its just a habit. Last night I was watching you, and I saw all those things."
My heart sank again at those words that she loved me. I couldnt repay her. I was hurting her.
"Dont worry, youre not hurting me." Damn! How does she do that? "I want you to be happy."
"Do you think anyone else noticed?"
"I doubt it. Greg, Kyle and Richie arent all that bright in that sort of thing. Believe me, Jolie Carter has been trying to catch Richies eye for about two weeks and shes about to buy a seeing eye dog to give him. I think if anyone notices itll be Greg. He seems to be a little more sensitive. Nothing like you and Danny, thought. Both of you are sensitive guys. Ive known that for a long time."
"How about Kyle? Hell find out."
"How?" Then she looked at me sharply. "Not from me, he wont, Justin Reynolds. Give me some credit." She was getting mad. "Why would I tell him? I said I wouldnt. Im good for my word. Just because Im dating some guy Im not going to spill my guts to him. Jeezuz, Justin. I cant believe you dont trust me. Dammit. Here I am spending all this time with you talking about your first love and its not with me and youre giving me your confession and you wont trust me. I should slap you."
"Becky," I kept trying to say. "Becky." She went on. "BECKY!" I shouted. She stopped, startled. "Becky. Im sorry. I wasnt thinking. I know..."
"No, you werent thinking. Thats the problem with you, Justin, you gotta stop and think. About everything from now on."
"I know you wont tell on us, Becky. I know. Im sorry. And yes, Ill have to start thinking."
I tried to think. It wasnt working. Sweating, I stood up and wandered over to the riv...water.
"Wanna go wading?"
"No, you can if you want."
I took off my sneakers. I wasnt wearing socks. A walked into the water. It was refreshing, almost cleansing. Sweet. It came from a nearby spring, so it wasnt loaded with chemical run off from the farm fields. I mean, you couldnt drink it. I knew from experience that boys peed in it all the time upstream. But by here all that was diluted and it was nice to wade in. Suddenly I slipped, lost my balance, and landed flat on my butt in the water. Becky laughed, a pure, friendly laugh. It made me laugh, too, till I noticed blood in the water. Id cut one of my toes open on a rock.
Becky saw it too and ran over as I came out of the water and sat on the bank. I tried to squeeze the cut closed with my fingers, but since it was wet, I couldnt get a grip. Becky took a handkerchief out of her pocket, put it over the toe, and held it tight to stop the bleeding.
Here I was, soaking wet from the waist down, injured, my foot in her lap, my life in a heap.
"Becky, what am I gonna do?"
"Put a band-aid on it. Its not that bad."
"Thats not what I meant."
"What do...oh, I see."
"Well? What am I going to do?"
"Do you love him?"
"Thats not what you said before. You said you werent sure."
"I know. Last time you gave me a minute to think about it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yep. You did."
"I mean about love."
"Oh. Yep. I think."
She shook her head with a smile.
"So what am I gonna do?"
"Love him. Make him happy. Let him make you happy. And enjoy it while it lasts."
"You make it sound like its not going to."
"I hope it does, Justin. I hope you and Danny are happy together forever. Of course, the odds are against it. First loves and all. But whether it does nor doesnt matter right now. You cant see whats going to happen. You cant worry about tomorrow, because your worries might never come true. So enjoy it today. Deal with tomorrow when it gets here."
"What if people find out? A couple of homosexuals arent going to go over well in this town."
"No, youre right. If people find out, then youll have to protect each other. Youll have to stick together, show each other your love, and stand up for yourselves. I dont know if youll ever be accepted here. I guess if you tough out the first wave you might be able to settle in. But its a small town, and people arent likely to forget. You might have to leave. But if youre lucky, by then youll be ready for college, and youll be leaving anyway."
The blood had stopped and she took away the handkerchief to look at the cut. It was on my middle toe on my left foot. She lifted it up and kissed it.
"You should put a band-aid on that. Its gonna be sore for a few days till it heals."
I slipped my shoes back on, and we walked down the bank a little ways to the next bench.
"Have you two really known each other since you were born?" she asked.
"Yep. Our moms used to have coffee together and they put us in the same playpen. Mom says I came to his first birthday party and he came to mine. It was just sorta natural, I guess. Weve always been together."
"And you never fought?"
"Oh, sure, we fought. Nothing serious, but you know two people cant be together a whole lot without fighting. Id go home mad, or he would, and a couple of hours later, there wed be again, playing in the sandbox or riding our trikes or playing with our trucks or something."
"Until last spring."
"Yeah, until last spring. Thats the worst fight weve ever had. It tore me up inside, Becky." It was confession time again. "Can I be honest with you?"
"I hope so."
"That night at the farm..."
"When you told Danny to fuck off."
"You knew about that?"
"I was standing a little ways behind you."
"Oh, god. Im sorry you heard that. Yeah, that night. When we were making out. Becky, I really liked that. But, um, I couldnt stop thinking about Danny."
"I know that now. I didnt then, and I was mad at you. Thats why I broke up our session. I wanted it to last, but I knew you had something on your mind. It was Danny. Heh. Im glad I didnt even suspect, cuz Id have knocked you into the cornfield." She smiled, but it was a painful smile.
"I dont know what to say."
"Nothing, Justin. I cant blame you. You were in love."
"I thought I was in hate. I was so mad at him still, and I wanted him so bad. I just couldnt see it."
"He means a lot to you, and even when you were mad at him, he still meant a lot."
"Even more than you know."
I told her the abbreviated version of what I had told Greg the night before, about my parents, Dannys mom, Dannys caring embrace and the safe haven Id found.
Her shoulders slumped. "Oh, Justin. Hes loved you since he was six. Maybe even before."
"Not like he does now."
"Only because you were little boys. But thats where it started."
"You mean he loves me cuz he pitied me?"
"Oh, stop it, Justin. No. He didnt pity you. He saw someone who needed help emotionally. It was a whole new aspect to the friendship, and even at six he was able to sense it. It has nothing to do with pity. It has everything to do with a boy who discovers his friend needs help and is willing to give it. And hes been willing to do that over all these years."
"No, because hes gotten something back from you. Hes gotten your physical friendship, and hes gotten hour emotional friendship back as well. Youve always been there for him, too, Justin. Your emotional need came from one obvious source --your parents fighting. But his came from all over the place, and I bet every time he needed you, you were there. It wasnt sneaking over to your house to escape, but it was seeing you every day, talking with you, working things out on the playground or at the swimming hole that he needed. Youve given him as much as hes give you, but spread over a wider space. Did you ever pity him?"
"No. Of course not."
"And he hasnt pitied you. When you slept together, did you sleep far apart or close together?"
"This is getting a little personal."
"Sorry. I had a reason for asking."
"Well, I usually crawled into bed sorta apart from him. He usually came up and put his arm on me or over me."
"Because he needed that sort of support. Not because you needed it, but because he needed it too."
"Why would Danny need it?"
"I dont know. I guess we all need it."
"When you were six did you need it? Nobody slept with you so you could put your arm around."
"No," she said, "but if somebody had slept with me, a friend as good as you are to Danny, I would have. And I probably would have wanted more."
"He gets lots of support from his parents and brother and sister. Its a very loving family."
"Sure. Like I said, his need didnt come from one identifiable source like yours. He just needed you."
She was quiet again, and I could tell she was thinking.
"Has Danny used the word gay?" she asked.
"Yeah, he has."
"And he knows what it means?"
"Well, sure." I told her about our conversation on the couch, in which he told me about the websites hed visited and his fear of dying alone.
"How long has he known he was gay?"
"I dunno. I think hes felt different for a long time. I dont think its been all that long since he put the word gay on it."
"Has he told his parents?"
"Then thats it. That was his need. He needed you close by to support him in his feelings. He felt different. But you were always there to show him he wasnt different."
"But he never told me thats what he needed me for."
"He probably couldnt put it into words for a long time, and then when he could, he was too embarrassed to say it, until the day he did, just after the accident. And that was because he thought youd given him the ultimate support -- you saved his life."
"No, I didnt. Thats silly. He wasnt going to die."
"Well, he thought you did, and when you showed that much love, he was able to tell you."
It was getting too hot to think. My toe hurt and I was thirsty. But I couldnt leave.
"How can you figure all this out?" I asked.
She laughed a little. "I dont even know if Im right. But its a possible explanation."
"Becky? Do you think I made him gay?"
She looked at me quizzically.
"Why would you think that?"
"Cuz I slept with him all those nights."
"Did you ever sleep over at Kyles?"
"Sure. Weve all had sleep overs. Usually at their house because....well, because."
"Any of them gay?"
"Not that I can tell."
"Me either. Especially Kyle."
"I dont wanna know."
"Im not gonna tell. Anyway, theyre not gay. You didnt make them gay. Youre not the Typhoid Mary of homosexuality. Youre Justin. Dannys Danny. Hes in love with you, and it isnt because you slept in his bed a couple of times."
"Hundreds by now."
"The answer is still no. Hes his own person. You didnt make him gay anymore than you made him a basketball player."
Beads of sweat rolled down my back under my shirt. My hair was plastered to my forehead, wet with sweat. Even Becky was getting uncomfortable. I stood up from the bench and held my hand out to her. She smiled at me and took it, and pulled herself up.
We walked back on the sidewalk along the creek, um, river, just sort of ambling along. Her hand was in mine, and it felt so nice.
Just before we came out of the last grove of trees, we stopped. I turned her so she faced me.
"Thanks," I said.
"Justin, you dont have to..."
"Yes, I do. Youve helped me sort out so many things. I think I can start to understand some things now. I was soo scared after we danced last night. I didnt know what you thought you knew, or how you were going to react when you found out you were right. Thats what I have to thank you for. Youre not crazy with anger, youre not scared of the queer boys."
"Justin, shut up with that or I _will _be mad." The tone of her voice told me Id stepped out of line.
"Im sorry. I guess I was trying to shock you. But I really mean it. I dont know how to repay you."
"Just be there when I need to talk. Thats all."
"I will be."
"Justin, just treat him well."
"Ill do that. I promise."
"Hes such a lucky boy."
"So am I, Becky. So am I."
She kissed me on the cheek, and we hugged tight.
"Yes, you are. Ill see you in school Monday."
I walked Becky over to the dress shop, went back to Snyders for my bike, and rode home. Home to fine Danny. Home to show him how much I loved him. Home because I needed him, and because he needed me.
There isnt any sex here in what Ive just written, and yet Im hard and precum is leaking from me. This whole thing has got me aroused. But hes sleeping so quietly I dont want to wake him. Although hell be disappointed in the morning when he finds out.