Castle Roland

Chapter 24

Published: 25 Aug 16

Tales from Bentonville

By David Lee
Copyright © 2005, 2016

As Darrin and Dan helped John carry his meager possessions into Darrin's small apartment, they could tell that his strength was waning.

"Drop the macho act and let Dan and me do it!" Darrin insisted.

"After today, I don't have a macho bone left in my body." John sighed.

"...Other than the one in your pants." Darrin quipped as he and Dan headed to the car for the last things they had brought from the Tracewell's.

John blushed at Darrin's remark even though no one saw it since he was left alone in the small living room. He wondered if Darrin had seen the bulge in his jeans when he had knelt in front of Jerry, or if there was some deeper meaning in his teasing. Or, was it just meant as a bit of "locker room" humor to put him at ease?

John's mind was in turmoil. His macho image had truly been shattered. He had worn the tough-guy facade for so long that he had grown into the image. Who would have believed that a fragile old lady and a thin freshman boy could have destroyed it? John could have snapped either of them in two with his bare hands. Yet, both had an inner strength – like iron – that was greater than his. And the iron was tempered with compassion.

He bit his lower lip to avoid getting all emotional again. Then he realized that he could cry if he wanted to. No one that mattered would think him a wimp if he did. Some big tears emerged and flowed down his cheeks.

"What's wrong?" Dan cried as he set down a bag of John's clothes.

"Nothing," John smiled through the tears. "Everything's about as good as it can get at the moment."

Darrin stood back with a concerned look on his face. John looked up and motioned him over.

"Thanks for being willing to give me a chance. You're crazy, do you know that?"

"Yeah," Darrin grinned. "I'm a real nut-case."

After Darrin had rearranged his closet and bureau to accommodate John's clothes, he sent out for pizza. He would like to have made a home-cooked meal for John's first night out of the hospital, but he was frankly too tired. It had been a very long day. At least he was off tomorrow and could get rested up.

John seemed to delight in having pizza after several days of a sensible, bland diet. But by the time his stomach was full, he was ready to pass out from fatigue. Darrin quickly pulled out the trundle bed in his room and popped it up. He disconnected the scissor-like bars that kept it snug against the main bed. It could be used almost like a king sized bed, but he thought it might be better to place it across the room with a narrow aisle between. He made the trundle up with fresh sheets and a couple of blankets.

"I'm sorry that you'll have to be in such tight quarters. We might be able to move things out of my little office room and put your bed in there tomorrow," Darrin suggested.

"I have no problem with this arrangement if it doesn't bother you," John replied.

He actually thought that having someone near when he felt lousy wasn't a bad idea. He didn't mind sharing, but felt like he was imposing.

"Well, Dan, I'd better get off of my butt and take you home," Darrin said.

Dan looked forlorn as he tried to work of the courage to say what he wanted to.

"Would you mind a lot if I crashed on your couch. No one will be home until the wee hours anyway. I can call and leave a message on the answering machine - like anyone's gonna care."

"It's no problem for me, but that sofa is pretty short for you. I have an air mattress and sleeping bag that would feel a lot more comfortable."

Dan smiled broadly as Darrin dug the mattress and air pump out of his hall closet. Darrin lined the sleeping bag with a sheet folded in half so that Dan would have a clean surface against his skin. It didn't take long to inflate the mattress and soon Dan had stripped down to his underwear and was snuggly lying in the makeshift bed in the small living room. After he got in, he stripped off his briefs as well. Might as well be comfortable, and besides, he didn't have extra clean clothes to wear in the morning.

Sometime in the night, John cried out in his sleep. He was thrashing around trying to run from someone with a gun. He sobbed as the bullets tore into his flesh and chipped his ribs.

Dan didn't hear him, but Darrin was awake in an instant. He lay on the bed beside John and held the younger man until he calmed down. It was very crowded in the twin-sized bed, but John clung to Darrin as if he were a life-preserver. Since it was chilly in the room, Darrin slid under the covers with John. They remained that way until early morning when Darrin awoke and disentangled himself in order to go to the bathroom. When he came back in, he climbed into his own bed which seemed suddenly cold and lonely.

On Saturday morning, the Johnson's out-of-town company got ready to head to their respective homes. Colton said a tearful goodbye to his mother and then turned to shake Dwayne's hand. Dwayne pulled the boy into a hug instead. Colt felt that this guy just might be worthy of his mother's love. He hoped that they would get together permanently. It was so cool that Dwayne didn't seem to be offended at the prospect of having a gay step-son.

Seeing Wade off also tugged at Colton's heartstrings. Although he hadn't grown up knowing his biological father, he had developed some genuine feelings for the man. And, he liked Roger a lot too. All of the males had bonded during the past few days. Colt could hardly wait until they could be together again at Christmas. The cottage would be closed by then, but DJ had plenty of room for the big dinner and between Greta's place and DJ's, they had more than enough bedrooms to go around. Wade and Roger could share the room across from the boys as they had before.

The bright spot for Colt that day was that Dave and Dustin would be coming in the afternoon to spend about 24 hours with Dane and him. At first, Dustin had decided not to come. His father had been injured when his Humvee had been hit by a road-side bomb and the family wasn't sure how serious his injuries were. Unlike Dane's mother, Dustin's didn't have the luxury of flying off the Germany to be with her husband. Dustin hated to leave his mother and siblings to face that alone. However, his mom had insisted that he needed to spend some time away with his friends.

"You've taken on the responsibilities of the man of the house since Dad left. You need to relax; be a kid. I remember how refreshed you were after the last time you were with them. This is what you need," she had said with firmness in her voice.

Dustin appreciated her outlook. He was pretty sure that she wouldn't feel that way if she knew why he had come back so carefree the last time. Someday he would have to face that, but today was not the time. His mother had too many worries at the moment without his adding to them.

Dave's father, Geoff, drove the two to the cottage just after noon. Dane and Colt had lunch ready and insisted that he eat with them before returning. He said that he could grab a burger on the way back, but he gave in when he saw that their invitation was genuine.

Over lunch, the five of them talked about school, wrestling matches, the up-coming college bowl games, and life in general. Everyone was trying not to discuss Dustin's father's condition; "ignoring the elephant in the room as it were."

"I know you're trying to distract me, but I have to talk about it," Dustin announced. "I don't know what's going to happen. Dad has a head injury. It could mean that he'll recover quickly. It could mean partial disability, or it could mean he'll be a vegetable. I have to face that possibility."

"You know I'll be with you whatever happens," Dave offered.

"Yeah, I do, but that's gonna be harder if he comes home. You know how he is about gays. There is no way we can hide forever."

Dave reached out and squeezed Dustin's hand. Dustin closed his eyes but not before a couple of big tears escaped from them. Mr. Harrison took Dustin's other hand and covered it with his.

"You know that Norma and I support both of you. If things get bad with your father, you are always welcome to live with us. I'm sure David wouldn't mind that arrangement," he smiled. "I'm looking forward to you as my son-in-law.

Dustin managed a weak grin in return. He knew that Dave's parents would not let him go without a home if his dad threw him out.

After Geoff Harrison departed, the boys began to pick up the lunch things and put them away. Colt asked Dustin to build the fire back up while the rest did kitchen duty. By the time they were finished, the living room was toasty.

As they had done on the last occasion, the couples cuddled on opposite ends of the long sofa. Dane began to unbutton Colt's shirt and Colt helped Dane with his pull-over. Soon the two were naked to the waist.

Dave and Dustin got into the act and began undressing each other as well. It wasn't long before there were four completely naked teens in the room. All were sporting very stiff pricks.

Dustin pushed his lover back on the couch and dropped to his knees so that he could bury his face in Dave's crotch. He swallowed Dave's cock in one gulp. Dave moaned in appreciation.

On the other end of the sofa, Colt was straddling Dane and gently humping against his abdomen where their steely tools were trapped between them. They were both grunting and sighing, expressing their love and lust.

After a few minutes of this, Colt got up and pulled Dane down to the rug by the hearth. There the two wasted no time in getting into their favorite position. Side by side they lay, nursing each other's cocks.

Since the couch was now free, Dustin lay back bringing Dave down on top of him. They kissed and nibbled for a short time before Dave twisted around to give both of them access to each other's meat. From that point, it turned into a marathon of sucking. The only sounds in the room, besides the crackling of the fire, were those of slurping and moaning.

With muffled growls and whimpers, Dane and Colt reached their climaxes. They filled their lover's mouth with big loads of hot cum. Both swallowed and nursed until there was no more to be had.

Their vocal expressions drove their companions over the edge like the sound- track in a porn movie would. The other young men shuddered and began to pump. Dustin could have choked on the flood that Dave produced, but Dave pulled out at the last possible moment and covered Dustin's chest and abs instead. There was a small lake in Dustin's bellybutton. Dave was proud of his copious production. He might not be quite as well-endowed as his three companions, but he had them all beat in juice quantity. The other guys' admiration didn't hurt his self-image one bit.

"Whoa!" Dane exclaimed. "Let me get a rag to wipe that up before it gets on Grandma's furniture."

"No," Dustin cried. "Bring a soup spoon!"

Everyone giggled, and Dane brought both. Watching Dustin scoop up Dave's cum and eat it turned the rest on. They were hard again without even touching themselves. Dustin let Dave lick the spoon. Then, they French-kissed for a while.

All four took a position on the floor with their backs resting against the couch and leisurely kissed and cuddled their partners. The boys never went soft while playing with each other for the half hour before they got seriously horny again.

This time, Dane move away from the sofa and Colt sat between his legs facing him with his legs on each side Dane's hips. This position put their cocks and balls in close contact. Dane reached past his own dick and began to jack Colt's. Colt did the same.

The other pair had never tried this position, and thought it looked very sexy indeed. They loved the intimate feeling. Soon they were flogging each other's meat with abandon.

Dave began to whimper first. Dustin followed quickly. It would have taken a stop-action camera to prove which one came first. They quickly moved into a 69 position to clean each other up so that not a drop was wasted.

Colt and Dane aped their actions seconds later. Finally, all were sated for the time-being. They decided to shower and climb under blankets since the fire was dying down some.

At Darrin's place, the three guys were up early, but didn't rush around that morning. Darrin started the coffee pot and then proceeded to whip up some pancakes from a mix. He had only a quarter of a pound of bacon left, so he micro-waved it all. There wasn't enough in the house to feed guests for any length of time. He would need to get to the store.

Dan helped by getting out plates and mixing up some orange juice from frozen concentrate. Neither would let John exert himself, so he took a shower and got dressed in a pair of sweats before eating.

John and Dan seemed to savor every bite. They ate slowly as if each taste was a delight. It occurred to Darrin that the Tracewell boys had probably not experienced very much in the way of home cooking. He would have to remedy that.

After breakfast, Dan got cleaned up, but had to put on yesterday's clothes. John loaned him clean underwear. Darrin had an extra, unused toothbrush from his last dental visit that he said Dan could keep in the bathroom cupboard to use whenever he slept over. Dan knew from this gesture that he would be welcome in the future. He felt good, like he had another brother.

Darrin notice that John was looking in the mirror unhappily while messing with his poorly dyed black hair. No matter what John did, it didn't please him. He was beginning to tire of the image he had become.

"Why don't you let me call the lady at the salon I go to in Cosgrove to see if she has any openings today?" Darrin suggested.

"I can't afford it if she does." John complained.

"Let me call and we'll work it out, okay?"

The stylist that Darrin went to in the mall was happy to hear from him. She had had a cancellation from a lady who was to get a color job. That left a big hole in her morning. If the guys could get there in 45 minutes, she could do whatever John wanted. Darrin quickly accepted the appointment and told the guys to get ready.

Dan was happy to have a chance to go to the mall. He hated being cooped up in Bentonville all of the time and hadn't been to Cosgrove since John's car was impounded. He would check out the shops to see if there were any bargains while John was getting his hair cut.

At the salon, Darrin found some pictures of hair styles on guys who had the facial type that John did. John didn't look at any of them closely. He knew that he would never look as hot as those guys did. He was an ugly loser. Anyway, Darrin was paying for this, so he let Darrin do the choosing.

After the stylist and Darrin conferred, the process began. First, the lady used some color-stripper to remove the shoe-polish looking dye job that John had given himself. Then, she began to cut. Next, she used a bit of lightener to tip the ends of his hair. Finally, she added gel and worked it into a kind of casual, "messy" style that looked fantastic on him. All this was done with John facing away from the big mirrored wall.

When she was satisfied, she turned the chair around so that John could see the results. His eyes bugged out. He could barely recognize the stud who stared back at him. He touched the ends of his hair in wonder.

"If you don't like it, I can do something a little more conservative," the stylist offered.

"No, no, I love it. I just can't believe it's me."

Darrin smiled broadly. His gamble had paid off. When he settled the bill, he included a handsome tip for his favorite hair-dresser.

Dan, who was sitting in the waiting area, gasped as his older brother emerged looking like a new person. John had always looked kind of scruffy. Now, he looked fantastic.

"I want to get my hair styled too!" Dan exclaimed. "If it can do that much for an ugly sucker like you, imagine how cute I'll look." He teased.

John beamed.

"So, you want to emulate your big bro, huh?"

"Emulate?" Darrin laughed. "Isn't that a rather big word for a high school student?"

"Hey, just because I'm an ugly loser druggy-type doesn't mean I'm stupid."

"No," said Darrin still smiling. "You aren't stupid and you aren't those other things that you listed. You have made some bad choices and you have done some unfortunate things, but that doesn't mean you're that way inside. You can be a new person. We all have choices."

John looked thoughtful as he nodded in agreement. Then, he stepped in front of the mirror once more to glance at his new look. Damn, he was not bad looking!

John drew a number of glances from girls and guys alike as the trio walked down to the food court to have a bite of lunch. After they had eaten, Darrin suggested that they shop for a couple of new shirts for John in order to complement his new hairdo. John resisted, saying that the mall prices were too high, so the group ended up at Target where John eventually picked a few clothes from the sale-rack that were decidedly more attractive than his old wardrobe.

When Darrin mentioned buying a few groceries while they were out, the Tracewell brothers insisted on kicking in some money to help pay for them.

"Guys, you don't have to do this," Darrin said.

"Yeah we do; at least I do," John insisted. "I'm gonna get a job so that I can pay my share. If you are nice enough to put me up, I've gotta pull my own weight around here."

Darrin gave in finally. It wasn't that feeding another guy, or even two, would break him. He had quite a bit in the bank from the insurance settlement, though he had a hard time spending it since it reminded him of his family's death. He let John help because he knew that John needed to. It would be a small step toward becoming a responsible adult.

Dan figured that he had better go to his own home when they got back to Bentonville despite the fact that he didn't really want to. Darrin went in with him in case there was any trouble with the parents. John remained in the car since he no longer felt welcome there and he was tired from the shopping excursion. No one was home. There was a note, accompanied by a few dollars, telling Dan to buy pizza or whatever for supper.

Darrin told the boy to get some changes of clothes and to leave a message telling his parents where he would be for the next couple of nights. Dan didn't even mention that he shouldn't impose on Darrin's hospitality again so soon. He quickly gathered his things, grabbed the cash, and scribbled a hasty note.

Later, when Dan had bedded down on the air mattress, John and Darrin were alone in the bedroom. Both had stripped to their underwear and were ready to go to bed when John brought up something he had wrestled with all afternoon.

"I'm ready to settle up for my new hairstyle," he said blushing. "I could do what I did for Jerry if you want.

"Whoa!" Darrin exclaimed. "You aren't going to trade your body for a favor."

"I guess you wouldn't want me," John said sadly.

Darrin pulled John up from his seat on the bed and hugged him.

"John, you're not cheap! Don't misuse your body. You can't pay back people you've hurt, or people who do things for you, by sucking them off. Look, you're a great guy. Anyone would be pleased to be with you, but not out of a feeling of obligation. When you do it, it's gotta be for love."

John was feeling embarrassed about his offer, but he was feeling nice in Darrin's arms. He had never considered the possibility of loving another guy. He had used a number of them for sexual relief. Hell, he had used a few girls that way too, but found that they didn't give as good head as males. He wondered if he had feelings for other guys or just this one.

If he did fall for Darrin would that screw everything up? Would he be thrown out? Could Darrin ever feel anything for him?

Joel wasn't exactly heartbroken that his parents and brother had to leave on Saturday afternoon. That had been the best schedule for flying home when they had made the reservations. The whole time had been stressful and Joel was glad that he had Sunday to rest up in before having to face school again.

School wasn't all that bad since he was beginning to fit in. Besides, there was the trip to Belize over Christmas with ALEX! Oh, that would keep him happy in anticipation for the next four weeks. He would probably be disappointed. Alex would likely turn out to be very straight and not be available, but Joel could dream. His day dreams were becoming as erotic as his sleeping ones. Those would have been wet ones if he were not keeping his balls pretty well drained.

At the airport, Ward Teague made one more effort to intimidate his father-in-law.

"You will hear from my lawyers as soon as I get home," he threatened.

"Save your money, son. I made sure that what you signed is iron-clad and air-tight. If you pursue this, the real winners will be the legal staff, but I'll still keep Joel."

So, Joel's parents and brother headed for the security gate with a barely civil goodbye. At one time, Joel would have been hurt by this, but not anymore. Rhys put a fatherly arm on his shoulder as they went back to the car. Joel put an arm around the old man's waist and gave him a quick squeeze of appreciation.

On Monday morning, the kids resumed school. John was quite apprehensive about returning. Darrin called work to say that he would be coming in a bit late because he had an important errand. It was true. Going to see the principal with John was as important as anything he could think of.

Mr. Haggerty motioned the pair into his office.

"Welcome back to Bentonville High, John. I understand that you have been in the hospital. Since your brother got assignments from your teachers, I guess that you're not so far behind but what you'll be able to catch up."

"You mean I'm not expelled?" John asked in astonishment. "I have to go to court soon and I may be put in prison for leaving the scene of an accident."

"Well, John, if you have been awake in Government Class, I suspect that you know that a person is presumed innocent in this country until he or she is proven guilty. I take the same view about school. Unless I have good reason to suspend or expel someone, I will give the benefit of the doubt. I have heard rumors that you and your brother have acted like bullies around here. Be sure that I don't find that to be true. I have no tolerance for bullying!"

"Yes, sir," John answered. "I'll make sure that Dan and I both walk the straight and narrow."

Principal Haggerty nodded. He had a feeling that John would likely do just that. If he faced the possibility of a prison sentence, he would probably be a model citizen in hopes that he would get off with a lighter sentence.

"By the way, John, I approve of the new look. It can't hurt to appear clean-cut when you go to court."

"And now, Mr. Holmes, what can I do for you?"

Darrin wasn't used to being addressed as "mister" and grinned when he responded.

"Uh, John is living with me now and I came to give him moral support as well as to report his address and phone number changes."

"That's great. I'm sure John will do well with you as his mentor. Please see the receptionist about the changes. Now, if that's all, I have to go check the lunchroom before classes begin."

John shook hands with the principal before he and Darrin left the office. Outside in the hall, John wanted to hug Darrin, but shook his hand instead. After all, he couldn't look too much like a wuss at school or he might leave himself open to the kind of shit he had dished out to Jerry.

The students at Bentonville High were surprised when they saw John in the hall. Some wondered who the new kid was; the rest couldn't believe the transformation that had taken place with him. He looked and acted entirely different from the person they had known before.

John's teachers appreciated the clear-eyed young man who was beginning to make an effort to participate in classes. He no longer slouched down looking bored. He was actually taking notes and answering questions. They were impressed.

Not everyone liked the new John. At lunch, one of John's former associates started to give Jerry some crap, but John stepped in.

"Leave him alone, Derek," John insisted.

"What's wrong with you? Have you turned into some kind of a pussy?" Derek asked.

"Maybe yes, maybe no," John responded with a hard look on his face. "Either way, I'm tough enough to take care of your sorry ass!"

Derek backed down and left.

"Thanks," Jerry smiled. "I can't believe you did that, but I appreciate it. You really are okay."

John smiled in return. For the first time in a long time, he was proud of himself. He had done the right thing.

"Well," John responded. "You said that I wasn't evil anymore and maybe you were right. I don't feel evil."

Jerry and Carrie joined John and Dan for lunch since John's old acquaintances were now avoiding him. (Most of them had only hung around with him because they figured he had connections to drugs.)

Alex was mystified when he saw the seating arrangement. He decided to sit at the table where Trent, Sara, Dane, and Colt were eating. Joel joined them and was pleased to see that he got a friendly smile from both Johnson boys. Evidently he was no longer on the "Z" list with them.

As Dane and Colt observed their lunch companions, they were more certain than ever that Alex and Joel were destined to become a couple.

A couple of states away, Marvin Wold was thinking about how he would spend Christmas. He had recently been paroled after serving five years in an Indiana prison for indecent contact with a minor. His parole officer had just visited and Marv knew that the man was overloaded with cases and wouldn't miss him for some time if he skipped out. Maybe he'd go visit the Tracewell family in Iowa. He had always been welcomed by them...

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