New York Holidays

Christmas Storms — Part One

A Three-Part Story by Altimexis

Posted December 5, 2018

 

“George, are you telling me it was the co-op that fucked up?” Frank Moore asked. He was incredulous.

“The co-op management, in any case,” the assemblyman’s attorney answered. “The contractor acted in good faith, based on the information provided.  They requested an upgrade to 220-volt, 120-amp service and of course, they assumed that that’s what they got. A simple check would have shown 110-volt service on each of the lines, but with one red wire and one black one, the presumption by any licensed electrician would have been that the polarities were opposite. The management should have informed them when they requested the upgrade that the building didn’t have 220-volt service. What they got was an upgrade to 120 amps, but it was still only 110 volts. They just added a second 60-amp line and used a different color wire.”

“So we sue the co-op, which means suing ourselves?” Frank responded.

Placing her hand on her husband’s arm, Julie Donahue Moore warned, “You can’t do that, hon. Your opponents would have a field day. Even if the co-op settled the suit, it would get back to the news media that we’d sued our neighbors over a clerical error. Can you imagine?

“She’s probably right, Frank,” George chimed in. “It really was a clerical error when you get down to it. The contractor requested 220-volt service and assumed that that’s what he got. The administrator in the management office who signed off on the upgrade, failed to notice the mistake when she sent on the request to add a second powerline. The co-op’s electrician proceeded accordingly, and your electrician didn’t know.”

“But that ‘typo’ might well end up costing us tens of thousands of dollars!” Frank objected. “Maybe more. Already we’ve spent over thirty thou, and they keep discovering more horrors as they go. They thought they could get by pulling additional wires through the existing conduit, but much of the original conduit was replaced during the renovation and the only way to add additional wires is to break open the walls. It’s a fucking disaster.”

“It’s all about appearances, honey,” his wife interjected. “You’d be holding everyone responsible for someone else’s mistake. A lot of your constituents live in housing projects and are constantly being blamed for the city’s own screw-ups. To them it would be like the city coming after them for the city’s own ineptitude. You’d be challenged in the primary, and you’d very likely lose.”

“So we eat the cost ourselves?” Frank responded.

“It’s just a case of bad luck,” George added.

“Doesn’t insurance cover any of this?” Frank asked.

“The contractor was bonded and insured, but it could be tied up in court for years and you’d probably still lose. The contractor acted in good faith. Your homeowners’ policy specifically excludes damage from electrical issues except when they result in a fire, and even then, you’re only covered for fire damage… not the underlying faulty wiring.”

“But the policy cover’s pluming issues,” Frank objected. “I checked.”

“Leaky plumbing can do a lot more damage, flooding not only yours but your neighbor’s apartments, all the way down to the ground level. You have to have insurance for plumbing, just as the city requires inspections of new plumbing. They don’t inspect new wiring. As I said, it’s just bad luck.”

“This could be an opportunity, Frank,” Julie chimed in. “You remember how the realtor said the place had been on the market for a while and sold for a lot less than they’d expected? We didn’t care that it had a tiny kitchen and a lot of wasted space. Remember how the realtor said the walk-in closets, attractive though they are, actually hold less than the smaller closets they replaced? We could make it a lot better by starting over.”

“You mean gutting the place?” Frank asked in surprise.

“We’re not the ones who live there, you know,” she responded.

It only took a moment for Frank to understand what his wife was saying. For them, the co-op was an address within the district Frank represented. For all practical purposes, they lived in Albany most of the year and only commuted back into the city to take care of their constituents’ business and to see their son. When he was home-schooled, Seth traveled with them wherever they went, but then he got into Stuyvesant and that wasn’t an opportunity to be missed. Seth was only thirteen, but he was very mature for thirteen and wise to the ways of the city. He could take care of himself with only a little help now and then.

And there was the matter of Asher. Although the relationship was only just over a month old and high school relationships rarely last, there was something about the interaction of the two boys that made it clear their relationship was different. Ash wasn’t going anywhere, and Frank and Julie loved him every bit as much as if he were their own son.

“It would be a chance to give the boys their own place,” Frank agreed, “and to give Asher a kitchen he could be proud of. Someday it’ll be their place anyway.”

“Are you thinking of giving it to them when they’re older?” Julie asked.

“It would be a great wedding present,” Frank suggested.

“They may not even stay in New York, and they’ve talked about starting their own family,” Julie pointed out.

“Those boys’ll never leave New York,” Frank said, and Julie laughed in agreement. “Maybe for college, but they’ll be back. I’d be willing to bet they’ll both go to Columbia or NYU anyway, though, and live here the entire time. Seth’ll go on to get his law degree and follow his old man into politics. Maybe he’ll even be the mayor someday. And Asher’ll get his MBA and open his own restaurant. It’ll be the best in New York.”

Laughing, Julie added, “You’ve got the rest of their lives all planned out, don’t you?”

“It could happen,” Frank claimed. “Maybe by the time they have kids, the place next door will be available and they’ll be able to expand.”

“Or maybe they’ll be more sensible and buy an apartment in one of the new buildings planned along the river,” Julie suggested.

“If you’re going to give your son the apartment, we’d better talk about doing it in such a way that incurs the lowest tax burden,” George interjected.

“We should talk to the boys and involve them in the planning stage,” Julie threw in.

“Definitely,” Frank agreed. “Ash’ll have his own idea of how to plan out the kitchen.”

“To be sure,” Julie agreed. “We better talk to Gary and Bernice, though. If we gut the apartment, Seth’ll be staying with them for at least the rest of the school year. We need to pay them for what he eats and so on.”

“They’ll never take it,” Frank countered.

“Then maybe you can make it up to them by helping Gary get his Cajun restaurant off the ground,” Julie suggested.

“I have to be careful with that,” Frank responded. “Neither of us benefits if there are allegations of corruption. But yes, I’ll find a way to make it happen.”

 

Meeting Kyle Goldstein had been the best thing that ever happened to Freck… and the worst. Looking down at his notebook, he’d been doodling again, with several drawings of the boy in various poses. There were some close-ups of his face, both frontal and in profile. There was a large drawing of him in the pose of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, and some drawings of him doing ordinary things, like tying his shoes or pushing his hair out of his eyes. There were drawings of him shirtless and drawings of him dressed up in a tux, even though Freck had never seen him dressed either way. There were even a couple of nudes, drawn strictly from his imagination.

The trouble was that the page should have been filled with notes. This was an AP chemistry class and there should have been reams of chemical structures and equations. The way his classmates were diligently writing something down just before the bell rang, it was evident they were either writing down an assignment or material that would be covered on a test. He’d have to find someone to ask later.

Carefully closing up his notebook so that no one would see what was on the page, he deftly slipped it into his bookbag, hoisted it on his shoulder and took off in the direction of his locker. His next class was gym and there wasn’t much time. At least gym would give him a chance to burn off some of the frustration of not being able to see the object of his affection until the weekend, if then.

He knew Kyle was going to be someone special from the moment he’d heard about him from Asher and Seth. Kyle might only be nine — well, ten on Sunday — but the two-year age difference meant nothing if he was as bright as his friends claimed he was. That Kyle was able to recognize and to express an interest in boys proved he was not far removed from puberty, and though it might still be years away, his mind at least was well ahead of the game. Freck didn’t know if Kyle was even ready for making out, let alone for anything more, but it was worth taking it slowly for Kyle. If he was interested, on the other hand, Freck wasn’t sure if getting naked with a nine- or ten-year-old was even legal, although at eleven — nearly twelve — he doubted that the law could do much about it. He knew kids had always fooled around and that kids even younger than them played doctor. Surly the police had better things to do than police the bedrooms of prepubescent boys.

Throwing his bookbag in his locker, Freck headed to the gym for fifty minutes of intense exercise and athletics. Although he was considerably smaller and younger than the others, he did show some development that was evident in the locker room and in the showers, and he had better muscle definition than boys as old as sixteen. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him and his smaller size made him agile. He could dodge, feint, hustle, pass and kick better than just about anyone not on the varsity soccer team, and in spite of his short size, he was amazing at scoring from the three-point range in basketball. He could scarcely believe he’d tried to get out of taking gym — he loved it.

Entering the locker room, Freck headed for his locker next to Ash and his boyfriend, Seth. “So, any plans for the weekend?” Ash asked as they bumped fists. “You gonna see Kyle?”

“I hope so,” Freck answered. “It depends on his dad. He doesn’t want to let him travel alone.”

“But it’s not like he’d be riding the subway alone — not that I didn’t ride it when I was his age. It’s not like he’d even be taking Metro North, which is as safe as safe can be. You’re sending an Uber for him, for Cripes sake. What could happen to him?”

“His parents are very protective,” Freck pointed out. “That’s why he’s still in Middle School when he should be in Bronx Science or here with us at Stuyvesant.”

“But it isn’t even up to his parents,” Asher reminded them. “They signed over his guardianship to my dad.”

“Yeah, but he still lives with his parents, remember. It’s guardianship in situ, and your father would rather defer to his father than create friction.”

“Guys,” Seth interrupted, “we’re gonna be late if we don’t hightail it out there.” None of them wanted detention, so they quickly finished dressing in their gym clothes and rushed to get in line with the other kids.

The teacher was already talking and, fortunately for them, didn’t seem to notice the three boys as they straggled in. The boys quickly became aware that he was talking about wrestling and how they’d be spending the next week on it, right up until the start of Winter Break.

Freck was thrilled at the prospect of wrestling his fellow classmates. He might be the smallest and lightest one there, but he was the fastest, most agile kid and his well-muscled physique often surprised many an opponent. In the past he’d wrestled kids twice his size, and usually won.

Whereas Seth seemed neither elated nor phased by the announcement, Asher appeared to be utterly petrified. Being half-Asian and half-African American in a class that was largely Asian, Asher was of above average size and stature, and should have had no problem getting the upper hand over most of his opponents. But Asher was not at all athletic, nor was he interested in sports. Without the advantage of practice from outdoor activities, Asher wasn’t very coordinated and didn’t even have decent eye-hand coordination. His past experiences in wrestling had been uniformly bad and the resulting fear left him particularly vulnerable to the very injuries he feared the most.

Sensing his friend’s being petrified, Freck went up to Asher and suggested, “Why don’t you and Seth come over after school? I’ll show you some moves that might give you a fighting chance, and if not, I’ll show you how to lose spectacularly without getting hurt. Asher couldn’t help but laugh, and the humor actually did help to alleviate much of the tension he was feeling. His improved mood didn’t last long however — as he was paired up with the boy he disliked the most of anyone in the class. From the leer on Clarke’s face, Asher could tell that, obviously, it was gonna be an exceptionally long gym session.

Freck ended up being paired with Seth, which wasn’t surprising, given that they were both shorter than most of their classmates. Each pair of boys worked with three other pairs, in groups of eight boys on a set of mats. That kept the number of pairs wrestling at any time down to five, which the teacher could easily keep an eye on. Asher wound up being in the same group as Seth and Freck, so they had a chance to watch each other during the day’s session.

The teacher started things going by demonstrating the dos and don’ts of wrestling. Using Seth and Freck, he showed the class the three starting stances, proper ways to take an opponent down, and how a seemingly legal move could turn into an illegal one in the heat of the match.

“Wrestling isn’t about beating your opponent,” the coach continued. “It’s about taking advantage of your opponent and trying to get them to beat themselves. You use their weight against them, getting them under you and then you use your own weight to pin them. I won’t pretend that muscles don’t matter, but you don’t need muscles to hold your own. But if you cower like Bambi facing a lion, then he’ll eat you for lunch. The surest way to get hurt is to tense up in fear. If you don’t think you can go on the offensive, then try to use your opponent’s overconfidence against him. Let him make the first mistake. Then you can pin him with little effort.”

As luck would have it, Asher and his opponent were up first. From the look on his face and his tentative posture, it was evident that Asher was terrified — so much so that the gym teacher noticed and approached the pair before the match had really gotten underway. Interrupting the match, he said, “Asher… your name’s Asher, right?” Asher nodded his head in the affirmative, too nervous to actually speak. “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, but I always end up getting hurt,” he replied, “usually pretty badly. In seventh grade, I ended up with a sprained Achilles tendon and had to wear a boot and use crutches for three months.”

“Well, we’re not going to let anything like that happen here,” the teacher responded. Then turning to the other boy, he said, “Clarke, we already know each other a bit too well from your time in detention. You’re going to help Ash out here. Show him how to wrestle without him having to fear you’ll hurt him. But if he so much as gets a scratch on him, you’ll be spending the rest of the year in detention writing a twenty-thousand-word paper on the effects of bullying on society. Do you understand me?”

“Yes sir,” the boy replied, so softly that he was probably the only one that could hear.

“What was that?” the teacher practically shouted at him.

“I said, yes sir,” the boy said again, this time a little louder.

“Yes sir, what?”

“Yes sir, I’ll show the little queer how to wrestle without getting hurt,” he replied.

“Just keep in mind that the little queer’s boyfriend is right here,” Seth responded before the teacher could say anything.

“And the little queer’s best friend is here too,” Freck added.

“Sloth and Freak, the two puniest kids in school,” Clarke replied, perhaps forgetting that the teacher was right there. “I’m trembling in fear.”

“I’ve just about had it with you, Clarke,” the teacher responded. “Failing to respect the other students is an automatic failing grade.”

Just as it was apparent that Clarke was about to say something, the teacher continued, “and I don’t care who your parents are or who they work for. The Mayor may have been able to pull enough strings to get you into the school, but not even he can fire a tenured teacher. Is that clear, Clarke?

Perfectly,” the kid replied.

When it became evident that the teacher wasn’t going to leave, Clarke said to Asher, “Really, Asher. I know we’re not friends, but you’ve gotta understand, things are different on Staten Island. I never met any gay kids before.”

Laughing, Asher replied, “You must not have been looking very hard, ’cause we’re everywhere, and more and more of us are coming out all the time.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Clarke answered, “and about what the teacher said, I may have had a letter of recommendation from the mayor, but I got in without it. My exam score was above the cutoff.”

“And you wouldn’t use your family connections anyway,” Asher replied. “Nor would my boyfriend, and his dad’s one of the most powerful men in the state assembly.

“I didn’t know that,” Clarke responded, “I should’ve realized, he’s Frank Moore’s son, isn’t he?” Asher nodded in reply. “Everyone knows the mayor’s in the governor’s shithouse. The mayor’s a jerk, but then so’s my dad… So am I.”

“Boys,” the teacher interrupted. “You have a game to play.”

Asher and Clarke shook hands, and then got in position. The teacher blew the whistle and the boys started circling. Clarke closed the gap when Asher failed to act, and their arms came together. Clarke swept Asher’s right foot out from under him and the two boys went down on the mat, with Clarke on top. “You coulda kept me from doin’ that if you’d kept your legs farther apart and moved your right leg behind you when you saw me coming at you. But now that I’m on top, you gotta try to turn over onto your stomach. If you can’t flip me, you gotta keep me from pinning you. I can’t pin you if you’re on your stomach.”

It was no use, however, as Asher just couldn’t overcome Clarke’s superior strength and coordination. He had Asher pinned in a matter of seconds. Asher had a reprieve while the other boys had their chance. He couldn’t help but notice how well-matched Seth and Freck were as their match went the longest, and neither boy managed to pin the other.

The next time it was Asher’s and Clarke’s turn, in the starting position, Asher was on top. Even with encouragement from Clarke to take him down, Clarke had no trouble flipping Asher over onto his back and pinning him yet again. In their final match, it was Asher underneath. That time he did remain prone for a time in spite of Clarke’s attempt to flip him over, but then Clarke simply flipped both of them over, shoved Asher to the side and had him pinned in seconds. Asher just couldn’t get control away from his opponent, no matter how hard he tried.

Clarke seemed to be on his best behavior, but Asher knew it wouldn’t last. He could only hope the teacher would have the boys switch partners from day-to-day. Otherwise it was only a matter of time before the teacher wasn’t paying attention and Clarke decided to take advantage of the situation. Ash was dreading the next week in gym class.

With little time left in the period, the teacher blew the whistle and the boys headed for the showers. As usual, Asher, Seth and Freck showered and dressed together before going their separate ways. They met up again at the end of the day in front of the school. “You ready to learn how to lose spectacularly at wrestling?” Freck asked Asher as the three of them headed off together.

“I can already do that,” Asher replied with a wry grin. “I don’t need your help to lose spectacularly. I do that very well on my own, thank you.”

“Well, let me at least show you how to keep from getting hurt, even when playing against an aggressive player,” Freck said.

“As if it wasn’t bad enough to go through wrestling in school, now I hafta do it after school too.” Asher complained.

“But just think, it’s a chance to get nearly naked with your boyfriend and your best friend,” Freck responded.

“That’s the second time today you’ve claimed to be my best friend,” Asher noted.

“You guys have become my best friends,” Freck responded. “Since you had no real friends before you got together with Seth, I was kinda hoping my feelings about you were mutual.”

Stopping in mid-stride, Asher caused the other two to have to stop as well. “You are my best friend, Freck,” Asher responded. “I hadn’t thought of it before, because I’ve never really had close friends. My life has been changing and now I do have friends. Kyle’s a good friend, but I don’t see him every day. I have other friends in school too now, but I would hafta say that next to Seth, you’re definitely my best friend.”

Freck led the three of them to the front of his building, where he was readily recognized by the doorman and all three were granted admission. Once inside the elevator, Freck tapped his key fob to the elevator panel, and then pushed the button for the first penthouse level, the top one of two. Seth wondered if the elevator would open directly to a single apartment and so he wasn’t surprised. Asher didn’t even consider the possibility, and gasped when the doors opened.

Ahead of them was a large open area that took up the entire east end of the floor. There were floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping around them on three sides. Straight ahead were the buildings of Battery Park, including their high school, the West Side. Highway and all of Upper Manhattan, including Hudson Yards, Union Square, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.  To the east was the huge curving glass façade of Goldman Sacks, and to the right of that was tower one of the World Trade Center, and beyond those was the entire Financial District. To the south was the Hudson, Battery Park, the tip of lower Manhattan, Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty. The view was magnificent.

“Fuck, you have my view beat,” were the first words out of Seth’s mouth.

“No, it’s a different kind of view,” Asher countered. “Yours is unobstructed. Freck’s is from higher up, and it’s more up close and personal with all the buildings in lower Manhattan.”

“Yeah, but mine’s unobstructed because it’s surrounded by six-story housing projects. And mine’s a 180-degree view, whereas Freck’s is a full 360-degree view. You can only do that in a true penthouse. Besides, my whole apartment would fit into this living room with room to spare. If the elevator’s in the center of the building, there’s probably five thousand square feet on the floor.”

“Right on the money,” Seth replied, and then asked, “Would you guys be interested in a tour?”

“Are you kidding?” Asher replied.

“So, the apartment’s built on an open floor plan, with the living room, dining room, kitchen, home theater and play room all located in the eastern half of the floor,” Freck began. “The elevator opens into a sitting area, and directly to the right and behind this coat closet is the home theater. And if you were wondering, that’s an 85-inch OLED display.” Walking further into the apartment and to the right, he continued, “The living room takes up the entire east end of the floor, except for the area carved out by the kitchen, which is separated from the home theater by an emergency stairwell, a half-bath and a small pantry.”

Although the views from the living room, with floor-to-ceiling windows in three sides, were spectacular, it was the kitchen that drew Asher’s attention right away. It was entirely covered in stainless steel, with shiny white cabinets and lines that screamed art deco, or perhaps ‘retro’ would have been a better description. It reminded Ash of some modern diners he’d seen, even down to the presence of stools along a counter occupying the entire east side of the kitchen. Many a modern kitchen included a built-in refrigerator, hidden away behind doors that matched the cabinetry, but not here. There were two large stainless-steel doors that emphasized the commercial design of the kitchen. Next to it were three built-in ovens and a built-in microwave. There was a commercial gas stovetop and a separate gas grill, with enough counterspace to make Asher drool. It was his dream kitchen.

“Pretty neat kitchen, huh?” Freck asked.

“I could open a twenty-table restaurant in here,” Asher replied.

“It’s designed to serve fifty guests,” Freck replied, “but when we have that many people, we hire caterers.”

“Just hire me,” Asher responded. “I could handle it.”

“Yeah, right,” Freck replied.

“Seriously, he could,” Seth countered. “Ash is phenomenal in the kitchen. He can cook just about anything Asian or Cajun. He even speaks fluent Mandarin.”

“You serious?” Freck asked.

“He made a full Thanksgiving dinner, including both rotisserie and Cajun turkey,” Seth answered. “That’s how we met Kyle.”

“I meant about speaking Mandarin,” Freck corrected.

My mother’s Chinese American and grew up in Flushing,” Asher began, lapsing into Mandarin Chinese. “She grew up speaking Mandarin and she spoke it to me when I was young, so I speak it pretty well, too. My Dad is Creole, from New Orleans, but he never speaks Creole and I never picked it up. I’m taking French in school, so I can understand it, but I’ll never be able to speak Creole. On the other hand, I can cook a mean Creole.

I bet you get plenty of opportunity to practice your Mandarin out and about Chinatown,” Freck commented in passable Chinese. “It’s too bad your father didn’t teach you Creole when you were younger,” he continued in French.

“You speak Chinese?” Seth exclaimed in surprise, “and wasn’t that French too?”

“Right on both accounts,” Freck replied. “It’s kind of a gift. I pick up languages without even thinking about it. That bit of Mandarin I picked up just from listening to conversations in Chinatown. The only problem with learning a language by ear is that you can’t read or write it.”

“And we all know how easy it is to learn to read in Chinese,” Asher added with a laugh. The others laughed along too.

“Seriously, even Chinese kids have to study it through high school,” Asher continued. “It takes them that long, just to learn the first 2000 characters. I’ve heard it’s the same for Japanese kids, but of course it’s the same written language. And because it’s idiomatic, once you learn it, you can pretty much read any dialect of Chinese, or even Japanese.”

“But I thought Mao simplified it,” Freck countered.

“He did,” Asher replied, “but a lot of Chinese Americans came here before the communists took over, so you see both forms here. Not that it matters much… they’re similar enough that if you can read one, you can read the other.”

Continuing the tour, Freck showed his friends the dining room, which was on the other side of the kitchen. “The wall here separates the play room from the dining room and the rest of the common areas. It helps keep the noise from the play room from reaching the adults. Like I said, the rents don’t really like kids and so we’re meant to be seen, but not heard.” They passed through a door into a large room with comfortable seats, a built-in wall of bookshelves with children’s books, board games and DVDs of popular kids’ movies. “This door leads to the home theater, but as you can see, we have our own TV and sound system in here, and the walls are filled with acoustic insulation.”

Passing through the play room, they passed through another door and found themselves in a U-shaped hallway and on the backside of the elevators. “To the right, next to the elevators, we have our utilities, some storage and closet space, and another emergency staircase. To the left is the girls’ bedroom and bathroom, and the nanny’s suite, which are off-limits to us. And beyond that is my bedroom,” Freck added as he opened the door.

Seth and Asher could barely believe their eyes. To their right was an open door, and a huge and messy walk-in closet and dressing area, with clothes strewn about on the floor. Beyond that was another open door leading to what was obviously an equally large en-suite bathroom. As with the rest of the apartment, it had floor-to-ceiling windows, making it exceptionally bright and open. What was most exceptional, however, was the bedroom itself. Being in the corner, the view was beyond outstanding. It included the tip of lower Manhattan, including the Brooklyn Bridge and Governor’s Island, as well as Staten Island and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The Statue of Liberty was in the foreground, along with the elegant high-rises of Jersey City. The boys couldn’t imagine what it must be like to go to bed every night and wake up every morning to that view.

A king-size bed dominated the room — or was it a California King? There was a wall of books on the one wall in the room that didn’t have any windows or doors, and in the middle of it was yet another flat-screen TV. There was also a large L-shaped desk with a 27” iMac on it. A closed MacBook Pro was also visible next to it on one side, as well as an iPad Pro on the other. Apparently Freck’s parents could afford to buy him a separate device for every purpose imaginable.

“So, guys, what do you think?” asked Freck said as he flopped down on his unmade bed.

Asher was afraid to say anything. He wasn’t poor, but except for the kids that lived in the projects, he was about as middle-class as a kid could be and still live in Manhattan. Manhattan was the land of the rich and, as far as he was concerned, he lived in the cheap seats. What could he possibly say in the face of all Freck’s wealth?

Hence it was Seth that responded. “What I see is a kid with wealthy parents, but underneath all the spectacular views and high-priced furnishings and clothes and toys is a very lonely boy. I can’t imagine attempting suicide, but I can almost see why you might have done it.”

Freck just lay there on his bed. It was a while before he said anything. When he finally spoke, it was with the sound of tears that he replied. “Guys, I have a confession to make. I didn’t attempt suicide… well, not directly anyway. I haven’t even told my shrink, but when I climbed up on top of that SUV and scrambled up onto the wall of the parking garage, it wasn’t with the intent to jump. I did it because I was stoned out of my mind and thought I could fly. However, even then I didn’t really care if I could fly or not. I thought I could but I didn’t really fuckin’ care. If it turned out I couldn’t, well, game over. Just hit reset. I didn’t really give a fuck whether I flew away or died. That’s the scariest thing of all… the apathy.”

When the tears started in earnest, Seth pulled Freck into his arms and hugged him tightly, and Ash put his arm around him from behind. The three boys stayed that way for a while, until the tears finally subsided.

“Freck, I know you said you gave up smokin’ pot,” Asher began, “but did you really? Have you smoked any since then?”

“There have been times I wanted to,” Freck answered, “but no, I haven’t. I did search to see where my parents moved their stash though, but my conscience wouldn’t let me go any further. I knew they wouldn’t have gotten rid of it, and they didn’t. Didn’t take me long to find it either. I know this’ll probably sound strange, but it’s kinda comforting, just knowing it’s there. Knowing it’s there keeps me from seeking another source and maybe getting involved with kids who could make life so much worse for me. The last thing I need is to get involved with hardcore stoners. I can’t afford to go back to being one myself.

“No, I’m glad I know where my parents’ stash of pot is. It’s there if life every seems helpless, but I’ve made a promise and I’m gonna keep it. If I ever feel that way again, I’ll call you guys first.”

“You damn well better,” Seth responded. “Besides, Kyle would never forgive us if anything happened to you.”

Freck’s entire demeanor changed as a smile took over his face. “You’re right about that. I could never hurt him either. That boy’s special. I’m so grateful for you introducing us, and for him coming into my life. Kyle changes everything. What my parents have given me is only money. Kyle has made me rich. Come Hell or high water, I’m gonna find a way to make it so we can be together.”

“I know how you feel,” Seth added. “When I saw Ash standing in my doorway, wearing a white polo, white pants, a sun visor and with a golf bag slung over his shoulder, I fell instantly. My life has never been the same ever since.”

“Asher plays golf?” Freck asked in surprise.

“Not on your life,” Asher answered. “It was on Halloween, and I was dressed up as Tiger Woods.”

After a few moments, Freck started laughing, and then he laughed harder, and then harder still.

“What?” asked Asher.

Finally, Freck answered, “Tiger Woods has never, in his entire amateur, collegiate, or professional career, ever worn a white shirt with white pants, and has never been seen wearing a sun visor style hat. That’s just not what Tiger does.”

“You’re kidding me,” Asher replied.

“Not at all,” Freck answered. “Tiger Woods always wears contrasting colors. His favorite outfit is a red polo shirt with black slacks, but he’s been known to wear blue shirts too, and occasionally white, but if he wears a white shirt, it’s always with dark slacks, and if he wears white slacks, it’s always with a dark shirt. And he always wears a baseball cap… not a sun visor. He’s famous for his baseball cap with his signature logo on it… A large T inside a W. You can buy one like it in any golf shop or online.”

“I can’t believe I got it so wrong,” Asher responded.

“I can,” Seth replied. “After all, you thought the Red Sox was a football team.”

“A football team?” Freck exclaimed. “You thought that, even though they won the 2018 World Series?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Asher explained, “I thought the World Series was a football championship.”

“Haven’t you heard of the Superbowl?” Freck asked.

“Sure,” Asher answered. “Isn’t that for bowling?”

BOWLING?” Freck exclaimed, and then started laughing hysterically. Soon all three boys were laughing — even Asher.

When Asher could finally speak, he said, “So, I’m just not interested in sports.”

“Ya think?” Freck replied, and then added, “Let me show you the rest of the apartment, and then we can talk about wrestling.” That sure put a damper on the mood, at least for Asher.

Exiting Freck’s room, they went through an open door to find a huge bedroom suite with a king-size bed, a sitting area and in the corner, a treadmill and an exercise bike. Through an open door on one side was a huge master bathroom with a walk-in two-person shower and a Jacuzzi. On the other wall were a pair of doors that Seth surmised were his and hers walk-in closets. Truthfully, Seth thought to himself, the room looked more like something from a luxury hotel suite. Not only was the bed made, but everything was in its place. There wasn’t a stitch of clothing to be seen anywhere. Not even a hairbrush left out on the dresser, or a TV remote left on either night table.

Moving on to the next room, which had a queen-size bed, a dresser and a small windowless bathroom, Freck said, “Obviously, this is the guest bedroom. Then entering the last room, “and this is Dad’s study.” With walls of books on either side, a couple of chairs and a desk with a laptop on it, it looked like a generic office, complete with a view that included most of Manhattan. Passing through the other door to the office put them back in the sitting area where they exited the elevator.

“So, not bad for twenty million, huh?” Freck concluded.

“That’s like twenty apartments like mine,” Seth commented.

“Yeah, but you’ve got 90% of the view, and a motherfuckin’ huge terrace,” Asher pointed out. “Freck doesn’t even have a terrace.

“You’re gonna have to show that to me, Seth,” Freck requested.

“Right now, it’s all torn up,” Seth explained. “When the place was gutted, the contractor requested an upgrade to 220-volt service. Rather than telling them that the building only had 110, they simply added a second 110-volt line.”

“Ah,” Freck responded, “So they put in a bunch of Edison circuits with shared neutrals, not realizing that both circuits had the same phase. Yikes, that’s dangerous!”

“You got it in one,” Seth responded, “just like Kyle did,” which caused Freck to grin.

“Still, we should be able to get in after hours,” Freck suggested, “just to see the view.”

“I’ll see what I can arrange,” Seth agreed.

“So, shall we?” Freck suggested as he led them through the door from the home theater to the play room.”

“I guess so,” responded Asher.

“Time to get personal,” stated Freck as he started undressing, stopping only when he was down to his boxers. Asher and Seth followed suit.

“Do we need to worry about your sisters coming home and walking in on us? Or your parents?” Asher asked.

“Shaking his head, Frek responded, “Dad’s in Chicago for the next week, and Mom’s on a buying trip in Paris. My sisters and our nanny are at their ballet lessons and will be until dinnertime.

In spite of his initial nervousness, Asher found himself having a good time. Their gym teacher was a nice guy and quite a contrast to the archetypical gym instructor, but Freck was another kid and a friend. He was muscular but not overbearing, and he took the time to go over move after move, showing Ash how to fake his intent believably and to throw his opponent off-guard with an unexpected move. With Seth acting as his partner, he was actually managing to avoid being pinned at least a third of the time, even as Seth tried his best to pin his boyfriend.

Having gotten themselves sweaty, they showered in Freck’s bathroom, individually, before getting dressed.

“So, there are many restaurants around here where we could eat,” Freck began, “or we could send for takeout. With Seamless, we can order anything from just about anywhere.”

“Why don’t I cook for you,” Asher suggested. “After the way you helped me this afternoon, it’s the least I can do. I could even cook for your sisters and nanny if they’d be interested.”

“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” Freck objected.

“You don’t need to ask,” Asher countered. “I’m offering.”

“He really is an amazing cook,” Seth added. “His food is incredible.”

“Are there any food allergies or dislikes I need to worry about?” Asher asked.

With twin eight-year-old girls in the house, of course there were dislikes, and quite a few of them. Without eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes or asparagus, not to mention shrimp or canned fish of any kind, Asher’s options were a bit limited, but he could still use beef, chicken, fresh fish, corn, carrots, green beans, spinach and mushrooms, as well as rice and potatoes. Making a quick trip to the Whole Foods Market across from their high school, Asher picked out some salmon fillets, fresh green beans, mushrooms, fresh spinach, onions, garlic and rice. He also picked up the ingredients for a homemade tart, topped with strawberries and blueberries.

Back in Freck’s apartment, Asher wasted no time making a basic crust for the tarts from flour, water, canola oil and eggs, and baked it in the oven until golden brown. For the filling he mixed eggs, milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla extract, heated it to a boil, spooned it over the crust and then set it aside to cool in the refrigerator. He washed the blueberries and strawberries, removed the stems from the strawberries and sliced them into thin slices. The fruit went into a bowl and in the refrigerator.

Getting out an electronic pressure cooker he found, he used it to cook the brown rice. He washed and cut the beans and added some cut-up mushrooms and set them to a low boil, and then diced the onions and minced the garlic, and sautéed them with the spinach and mushrooms in canola oil in a large skillet over low heat. Lastly, he set the salmon fillets on the grill and then turned them when ready, grilling them until they were still slightly raw in the center, and then turned the gas down and wrapped them with foil to keep them hot and moist.

As expected, the girls and their nanny arrived at the expected hour and, after the introductions were made, Asher turned up the gas under the skillet and proceeded to sauté the salmon with the spinach and seasonings, placing the six individual servings on a serving platter when they were ready. Before the girls had even finished changing their clothes, dinner was ready to be served. In the meantime, Seth set the dining room table for six and Freck helped Asher drain the green beans and prepare them and the rice to be served.

By the time the girls reemerged, everything was on the table.

“That smells wonderful, boys,” the nanny exclaimed, “but you didn’t need to go to so much trouble.”

“That wasn’t any trouble at all.” Asher replied, “I love to cook, and this is really just a simple meal for me.”

“Ash’s parents own an Asian restaurant on Grand Street,” Seth explained. “He learned a lot from his dad, who’s Creole, and from his mom, who’s ethnic Chinese.”

“Mostly I eat with my folks at their restaurant,” Asher explained, “but sometimes they’re just too busy and I’d have starved if I didn’t learn to cook for myself.”

“You’re going to make a wonderful husband for a lucky woman someday,” the nanny commented.

Clearing his throat, Seth interjected, “Um… that would be me.” Then to be sure he’d been clear, he added, “Ash is my boyfriend.”

“Your gay?” the nanny responded in surprise, “But you’re so young.”

“Frank is even younger,” one of Freck’s sisters stated causing the color to drain from his face.

“You shouldn’t talk about your brother like that,” the nanny admonished her charge. “Not that there’s anything wrong with it and we’d still love him if he were, but you don’t know yet. As you said, he’s too young.”

“No, I’m not,” Freck countered. “But how did you know?” he asked his sister.

Giggling, she responded, “you shouldn’t leave your computer unattended when you go to the bathroom,” and her sister giggled along with her.

Turning bright red, Freck replied, “Oh, you two are sooo in trouble.”

Changing the subject, Asher announced, “I have it on good faith that you like salmon as long as it’s cooked and not from a can, and you like spinach, green beans and rice. So tonight I’ve prepared salmon Florentine, which is just salmon sautéed with spinach and seasonings. It’s one of the first things I learned to make as a kid, when I was even younger than you are. I hope you like it.”

“Like I said, it smells wonderful,” the nanny reiterated.

The girls were actually very polite, and they served themselves. They really seemed to enjoy the meal, as did everyone. They even volunteered to clear away the remnants of the meal when everyone was finished.

“Would anyone like dessert?” Asher asked.

“You made dessert too?” the nanny asked in surprise.

“Nothing special,” Asher explained, “just a fresh fruit tart.”

“Maybe that’s nothing for you, but it sounds like a lot of work.”

“Not really, and it’s my pleasure” Asher replied. Getting up from the table, he got the tart out of the refrigerator and checked to make sure the filling had set. He then added the strawberries and blueberries on top in a concentric pattern, then sliced the tart into six portions and set each on a dessert plate. Adding a small fork, he proceeded to serve everyone at the table. The girls loved it, as did their nanny and the boys.

 

When gym class rolled around the next day, Asher’s dread was at an all-time high in spite of the training from Freck the afternoon before. Freck and Seth kept reminding the boy how easily he’d countered Seth’s moves, even when he was trying to win. In theory, Asher knew he could at least avoid utter humiliation at the hand of his opponent, but his fear was getting the better of him.

Asher had hoped the gym teacher would pair him with someone else, but he wasted no time in telling the boys to form up using the same groups as the day before. The first half of the class would be devoted to practice sessions in which half the boys were on the mats at any time. That meant the coach would be watching a total of ten groups at a time rather than five. He emphasized the boys were just to practice what they’d learned — not to compete with each other in full matches. They were to practice their take-downs from all three starting positions and nothing else, switching off with each other when he blew the whistle in ten minutes.

Asher and his opponent, Clarke, were in the second group and hence Asher had a ten-minute reprieve during which he watched Seth and Freck going at it. Again, the two of them seemed to be very well-matched in spite of the difference in age and size. Asher’s nerves didn’t subside during his brief reprieve, however. They only worsened as the practice session proceeded and, by the time the teacher blew his whistle, he was borderline terrified.

“Remember, Ash, Clarke is driven by his ego,” Freck said as the two boys passed. “He has to beat you, and that’ll be his downfall. Use his confidence against him and use his frustrations to trip him up.” Freck made it sound so easy, but he wasn’t the one facing Clarke.

The two boys squared off with each other in the upright starting position, and then they were flying toward each other. Ash acted on instinct, feinting right when Clarke attempted to sweep his feet in that direction, but then dodging left as he’d been taught by his friends the day before. Off balance, Clarke’s legs went out from under him and he landed on his butt. Point to Ash, had this been an actual match.

“Lucky move, Asshole,” Clarke chided. “You won’t get any more of those.” Ash, on the other hand, was elated. He’d not get a chance like that again, he knew, but at least he’d proven to himself that he could hold his own.

Next, the two boys squared off with Asher on top. This had been an easy and quick win for Clarke yesterday, as he flipped Asher onto his back, pinning him. If the strategy the boys worked out the previous evening played out, not expecting an effective countermeasure from Ash, it was highly likely Clarke would favor the same strategy. Since Asher’s left hand was planted on the mat and his right arm was around Clarke’s waist, he was vulnerable only if he stayed that way. Therefore, when the action started, Asher immediately reversed his arms. It was counterintuitive, and it worked. When Clarke pushed. His body up and to the left, attempting to flip Asher on his back, instead of encountering Asher’s planted arm on the left, he encountered only air. Clarke’s momentum carried him over onto his own back and with his right arm planted, Asher remained prone and on top. Asher might not be capable of pinning Clarke, but at least he’d get a point for the takedown.

“Nice try, faggot,” Clarke said as they both got up. Because he was at the other end of the gym and didn’t hear Clarke’s remark, it was left for Asher to respond, or not. Telling the gym teacher would have been a lose-lose proposition, and so Asher made use of his wit to respond in kind.

“Just like your daddy,” Asher replied with a smile on his face.

Perhaps there was some truth to the matter, or perhaps Clarke had his own sexual inadequacies but, for whatever reason, he snapped. Before either boy knew what was happening, Clarke had thrown a right hook to Asher’s left side, catching him squarely in the eye. Clarke followed this with a left underhand punch to Asher’s jaw, knocking him backwards and knocking him out cold. Not that he could have mounted an effective strategy, but the punches caught Asher completely by surprise.

By the time the gym teacher got there, Clarke was being held by Freck with help from the other boys in their group. Seth was helping Asher, who was already starting to stir, and then he sat up but felt like his head was about to explode. Seth told the teacher what had happened, and the teacher couldn’t help but chuckle and say, “Good one,” when he heard what Asher’s rejoinder had been. Seth and Freck helped get Asher to the school nurse, where an ambulance was called and he was taken to New York Presbyterian’s Lower Manhattan Hospital for a quick checkup and a CT scan of the head. In the past, a knockout might have been handled with all-day observation alone and in school, but the likelihood of a concussion and possibility of a more serious injury demanded a more proactive, cautious approach.

Asher’s parents were called, and his Father came to stay with the boy in Emergency until he’d been cleared for discharge. He then called for a car and took Asher home, staying home with him for the duration of the day. Asher’s parents might be dedicated to their restaurant, but their son always came first.

In the meantime, Clarke was taken to the vice-principle’s office, where he was detained until his mother could travel from Ozone Park in Queens, where she was in a committee meeting, and take him home. Clarke would be on suspension until the end of the winter break, and a 20,000-word treatise on the effects of bullying would be due at that time as a condition of his return to school. This was not his first offense when it came to fighting in school. Further, he would receive a failing grade for the semester in gym class and would have to repeat it. The effect of even one failing grade on his class rank at an elite school such as Stuyvesant would be profound. Only a strong letter of recommendation from a former mayor of New York could overcome his record when it came to college admissions. In any case, the beating he got that night at home was the thing that he would remember the longest. In Clarke’s mind, he was already planning his revenge for that as he envisioned the title of his essay, ‘Bullying Starts in the Home.’ Enough was enough. Let the chips fall where they may.

 

Freck was nervous beyond belief as he paced back and forth in his penthouse apartment. He’d have worn a hole in the carpet if there had been a carpet. As it was, he was dulling the finish of the hardwood floor.

Kyle was on his way — that he knew. He’d gotten a text from Kyle right after the Uber had picked him up. But Friday traffic was the worst. Travel on city streets crawled at a glacial pace as cars, trying to beat the traffic lights, got stuck in the intersection, blocking traffic in all directions. Pedestrians and bicyclists seemed unaware of the signals meant to keep them from doing the same. Between such gridlock and streets overrun with unoccupied taxis and car service vehicles from the likes of Uber and Lyft, even traveling a mile could take the better part of an hour.

At least Kyle would be traveling the West Side Highway until it merged into West Street, but even then, traffic would be heavy and at a crawl. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be any better on Harlem River Drive and the FDR, nor on the Major Deacon Expressway or even Interstate 95, so there was little point in trying to find an alternate route. There were times when no route into or around Manhattan moved very well, particularly on the weekend and particularly on a Friday evening during the holiday season. Freck was beginning to think that Asher and Seth were right. With a train station right in Riverdale, Metro North could have gotten Kyle into Grand Central Terminal in a matter of minutes, and a number four or five train could have gotten him down to Bowling Green at the foot of Wall Street, shortly after that. Bowling Green was at most a fifteen-minute walk from Freck’s apartment.

Still, Kyle was only nine — well, ten this Sunday — and he had no experience in taking public transit at all. Neither had he, for that matter, until Asher and Seth had forced him to take it. Raised on the likes of Uber, Freck had to admit that in spite of the crowds and the bad reputation the failing subway had, it still beat the pants off of anything that relied on the streets above when it came to getting around in Manhattan.

Frustrated, Freck sent another text to Kyle, only to receive a reply that the trip was very slow going and he was still up in Morningside Heights, just passing by Columbia University. Kyle wasn’t even quite half-way there and the worst of the traffic was still ahead of him. He would have at least liked to have talked to Kyle. That would have made the time go faster, but Kyle’s dad had capped his minutes to force him to develop social skills. Asher’s dad had done nothing to change that. Freck had no trouble understanding why they did that, but damn, he wanted to talk to the boy right now.

As Freck paced back and forth, his imagination got the better of him. Was he reading too much into the relationship? Was there even a relationship? Yes, they’d hit it off when they first met and they seemed to have so much in common in spite of the two-year age difference. Yes, they’d spoken with each other by land line every day. Freck was certain that he was in love with Kyle. He could think of little else but Kyle, but perhaps was Kyle too young to experience romantic love? Yet if he was, was he ready for anything physical? Was he even ready to make out with another boy? Was he too young for anything more than that? Would it be wrong to encourage him to get naked? Would it be wrong to touch him in places boys that age aren’t supposed to be touched?

These questions, and more, kept swirling through Freck’s head as the wait continued its interminable course.

With nothing better to do, Freck plopped down in one of the theater seats in the home theater, with his legs draped over the back of the seat in front of him, and he flipped on the TV. The local news was just starting and, with nothing better to do, he mindlessly watched. His brain barely registered the scenes of holiday shoppers, streaming refugees and senseless bloodshed as they unfolded on the giant screen in front of him.

With his mind on autopilot, he was startled with the land line actually rang. Picking it up, it was the doorman downstairs, informing him that he had a guest, Kyle Goldstein. Telling the doorman to send him on up, Freck turned off the TV and leapt over the back of the chair he was sitting in, bounding toward the elevators in a single leap.

Standing in front of the elevators, he was unsure which of the two elevators would be carrying his boyfriend, so he paced back and forth between the two. He didn’t know what to do with his hands, so he clasped them together in front of him, but that meant they were physically pressing on his erect dick. Before he could move his hands or reposition his penis, however, the elevator dinged and the right door opened, and out walked Kyle.

In less than a second the boys were in each other’s arms as their lips joined with an intensity Freck didn’t know was possible. The kiss seemed to go on forever as tongues danced with tongues and passions ran wild. Finally coming up for air, Kyle spoke first, “You don’t know how much I’ve wanted to do that, ever since we met.”

“Not half as much as I have,” Freck answered. The boys went right back to kissing and literally grinding into each other. Even though he was young, Freck could feel Kyle’s dick sticking straight out in front of him, and he was not that small at all. His worries about what the two of them might do evaporated as he realized that Kyle more than likely viewed as much on-line porn as he did. For what it was worth, Freck decided he wouldn’t worry about what was or wasn’t legal for two pre-teens to do. He’d go with whatever felt right… whatever it was that Kyle wanted to do, be it just making out, or full-on boy-on-boy action, which was exactly where they were headed if they didn’t slow down.

Not wishing to cross the finish line before even starting the race, Freck pulled away and said, “You must be hungry, Kyle… for food, that is,” he added with a laugh. “Or perhaps you’d like to tour my apartment before we get something to eat?”

Laughing, Kyle responded, “I was pretty close to coming too. I can’t squirt yet, but I do have orgasms. I jack off a lot, just like any precocious boy does, I think. Yes, I think it’s better to wait until we go to bed. It’s much more fun with a boyfriend than alone with your right hand, or I guess maybe for you it’s your left hand.”

“You’re very observant, Kyle.” Freck commented.

“Actually, I’m not,” he replied, much to Freck’s confusion. “Other than the biggies… Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, Passover… we hardly ever go to temple.”

“That’s very funny, Kyle,” Freck responded. “So I take it you don’t believe in God?”

“If there is a God, she’s nothing more than a highly intelligent being,” Kyle answered.

“You read that one too,” Freck agreed, and then added, “That’s one of the things I like about Star Wars. The whole idea behind The Force… that there may be a sort of collective consciousness shared by all living things. In a sense, God is a creation of life and not the other way around.”

“I’ll try not to barf with the Star Wars reference,” Kyle responded. “Actually, I would agree with you regarding Episode IV, A New Hope, the first Star Wars film released. Then it really was like that, with The Force being more of a spiritual entity than religious or mystical.”

“Sometimes I feel like there really is a soul, you know?” Freck went on. “It almost feels like my consciousness somehow exists outside of normal space-time… that the body really is nothing more than a window to the world for the entity that is our soul.”

“That’s because of all the pot you used to smoke,” Kyle responded, which Freck answered with his middle finger. “Actually, there was a really good story I read on AwesomeDude that proposed exactly that… that our sentience comes from the symbiosis from an extracorporeal life from outside of space-time with our corporeal bodies. It’s an interesting hypothesis but utterly impossible to prove in the here and now.

“I know what you mean, Freck, when you say the body seems more like a window to the soul, which is hardly a new concept, but I think that feeling comes from the fact that so much of our sensory input comes from the head. The eyes, the ears, the olfactory cells and the taste buds are within the confines of the skull, just outside of the brain, where we perceive and interpret their input. When it comes to the sense of touch, nearly half of it comes from the face, and the bulk of the rest comes from the hands. That’s how it’s mapped out in the sensory cortex, and in the corresponding motor cortex.”

Resting his arms on Kyle’s shoulders, Freck looked right into Kyle’s eyes and said, “You really are my equal, Kyle. I may be two years older, but intellectually I think we’re pretty well matched.”

“Chronologic age is irrelevant when it comes to kids like us,” Kyle answered. “I’d feel the same if our ages were reversed. My brother likes to say that I have the brain of someone twice my age, but he also points out that I have the maturity of a kid my age.”

“I don’t think that’s true at all, Kyle,” Freck countered. “You may lack the life experiences that go into making an adult better able to cope with adversity… I certainly know something about that… but your intellect gives you the maturity of someone much older than your chronologic age. We really are well-matched. It’s just a shame you’re going to be going to Bronx Science next year, and I’ll be going to Stuyvesant… and then I’ll graduate and go away to college, and you’ll go to MIT. How will we be able to be boyfriends if we can’t be together again?”

“About that,” Kyle replied, “meeting you has changed everything for me. Given the choice of realizing my childhood dream, but spending the rest of my life alone, or finding a way we can be together… there is no choice.” Pulling away from Freck and walking around the elevator lobby, he went on, “I’m going to try to get into Stuyvesant next year. If I make the cutoff. I’ll challenge as many courses as I can and hopefully, I’ll be able to graduate right with you.”

Turning back to Freck, he continued, “The question is, what do you want to do with your life, Freck? What are your plans for college? Where do you want to go?”

“To be honest, I’ve no idea,” responded Freck. “I’ve always had a plan to graduate as quickly as possible and to get as much advance placement as I can, but it’s hard to decide on a college when you don’t have a clue as to what you want to do for a living.”

“Are you interested in math or science, philosophy, history, the arts, language, medicine, law, politics… what really gets you going?”

“That’s the problem,” Freck answered. “Everything interests me, and I’m good at it. If I could, I’d do it all.”

“So you want to be a professional renaissance man,” Kyle responded with a laugh. “There’s a huge demand for that.” Then getting a more serious look, the added, “We’ll figure it out together. There’s still time, and then we’ll pick a university or universities that meet both our needs.”

“So you’re saying you want to spend your life with me?” Freck asked for confirmation.

“If you’ll have me,” he replied. “I love you, Freck. I’ve never been so certain of anything in my life. I know we haven’t known each other for long, but I can honestly say that I love you. You’re all I’ve been able to think about. My performance in school has gone to shit…”

“Mine too,” Freck interrupted, “and the feeling is mutual. Yeah, there’s a component of lust there too…” he added as he colored up, “a big component… but the main thing is that I want to spend my life with you. I want to enjoy our sunsets together, to go hiking in Alaska, to see the great cities of the word and visit all the top museums, to have you sitting next to me for the New York Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera, and to watch the next Star Wars movie together…”

“I was with you all the way until you mentioned Star Wars,” Kyle interrupted, “but I guess I can make  that sacrifice.” Smiling, Kyle continued, “Now I think you were going to give me a tour?”

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope in editing my stories, as well as Awesome Dude, Codey’s World and Gay Authors for hosting them.

Disclaimer: This story is a fictional account involving gay teenage and pre-teen boys. There are references to gay sex and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. The reader takes all responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The author retains full copyright.