"I'm always happy to see new faces among the employees," Mr. Connors said. "It takes a great deal of energy to keep this place running efficiently. You've all read the rules so we don't need to go over that again. Farnham is growing in popularity and we have a mission to give the customers the best entertainment in town.
"We have some new video games this year and I encourage you to play them in your free time so that you can tell the kids how they work. Now just a word about the illegal activities that have been spotted around town.
"Last year we had a spate of pickpockets, con artists, and worse preying on the customers. If you see anything suspicious I want to know about it. Look for adults loitering around the entrances, especially if you spot them arriving without any kids in tow. The city will have several plain clothes detectives working the boardwalk as usual so if you spot something tell me and I'll turn on the warning light."
Over the years Eric had noticed the stoplight bolted to the corner of the building, and like most customers just assumed that when it was green the arcade was open, but it had another purpose. There were switches in each of the ticket booths that could change the light from green to red. The employees were told that the police could see that light blocks away and it would summon help in a quiet manner.
The welcoming speech had only lasted twenty minutes and then they were given the walk around tour. All the rides had an emergency cutoff and those were discussed. Breaker panels were located here and there and they were displayed. Mr. Connors told them he had just one final item and it was the most important piece of equipment in the building. He opened a door to reveal the custodial closet which held the mop buckets and cleaning supplies.
"Clean up duties will rotate daily so everyone gets the chance to maintain our shining image to the public. Keep the restrooms clean, we all have to use them. Enough said? Now go hang up your uniforms and dinner will begin at six for those of you who wish to eat. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon."
Playland uniforms consisted of six red and white Polo shirts with the employee name above the breast pocket and the Playland logo on the back. It paid to advertise, so Mr. Connors encouraged everyone to wear the shirt even when they weren't working. Eric had brought four pairs of khaki shorts in the military style with lots of patch pockets.
It was barely five o'clock and the sun was still a good way from the horizon when Eric put his uniform shirts in the locker and looked over at the second bed. A suitcase lay there, but it wasn't even unpacked. So the mysterious roommate had finally arrived. A thump out in the hall and a tall gangly boy stood in the doorway with a trunk between his legs.
"Hi…you must be Eric," He said. "I'm Freddy Taylor."
Freddy? The boy looked like a Freddy. He was easily six-foot four with red curly hair and large flat ears which stuck out from the sides of his head. But he had a winning smile and Eric immediately liked the guy.
"What did you bring in that trunk?" Eric asked.
"Tools of my trade," Freddy said. "I'm a magician."
"Really? That's cool, have you seen Mrs. Connors?"
"Yup, just left the office where I had to apologize for being late. I didn't get to the orientation so did I miss anything?"
Eric shook his head. "Nothing you can't pick up later, it was just a pep rally."
Freddy slid the trunk into the room and pushed it up against the far wall. "I hope this doesn't get in the way," He said.
"No, that's fine," Eric replied. "What made you bring all your magic stuff?"
"Mr. Connors is going to allow me to perform for the little kids on rainy days. That might give me the biggest audience I've ever had."
There was a knock on the door jamb. "Dudes, are you planning to stay in tonight?" Neil asked. "Terry and I are going out to see the sights."
Eric looked at Freddy. "Do you want to see the sights?"
"Sure, I'm from Pittsburgh, I've never been here before," Freddy replied.
"Saddle up, gents," Neil said. "The ladies are waiting to meet us."
Neil left and Eric smiled. "Terry and Neil are here this summer for the women. They both have a one track mind so you'll have to forgive them."
Freddy laughed. "I don't mind, it's all fun."
An evening on the boardwalk usually brought out the crowd after the heat of the day was over. But it was still early and the major portion of the holiday crowd had yet to arrive. Most colleges had already ended their spring semester and a lot of the students had come straight to the beach.
Terry and Neil were already wearing their Playland shirts, a sure way to attract the attention of the young ladies on the beach. It took about twenty minutes before they hooked up with two girls and Eric watched them head for a walk along the shore to get acquainted.
"So much for them," Eric laughed. "Are you hungry yet?"
"I ate a candy bar on the road," Freddy said. "I was so late leaving town I didn't have a chance to stop."
"I have pizza coupons, let's go use them."
They sat in a booth at Nicola's and waited for their extra-large with everything to be ready. Freddy's eyes were everywhere, looking at people and the trappings of the beach. For some reason that made Eric think the guy didn't get out much, but he didn't know anything about Pittsburgh.
"Are you still in school?" Eric asked. He judged Freddy to be only a few years older, maybe nineteen.
"I go to Carnegie Mellon…this fall I'll be a sophomore," Freddy said.
Yup, nineteen, Eric thought. "That's a great school, one of the best."
"Yeah, my father graduated from there which made it easier for me to get in. A business degree just seemed easy enough, but I still don't know what I want for a career."
"Maybe you'll be a magician?"
Freddy smiled. "No, I doubt that. Magic has been my hobby since I was a little kid. When you look as goofy as I do you have to do something to keep your opponents laughing."
"That bad, huh?" Eric asked.
"Pretty much," Freddy said. "I was almost this tall in seventh grade so I've heard all the jokes. Suppose if I had played basketball things might have been different but I'm a tennis player, or at least I was. Physical prowess always seems to trump the accomplishments of our mind. And that's my sad commentary on life."
"Magic is your escape," Eric said. "That must take a good deal of dexterity."
"It does, but it's not considered athletic. I can juggle five balls for an hour and walk a tightrope while doing it, but no one sees that as a discipline like sports. I studied my craft at the hands of Donatello, but you probably never heard of him."
"No, the name isn't familiar," Eric admitted.
"His fame is in Europe, but he retired and lives in Pittsburgh. Magicians all have trademark tricks in their act and usually take those secrets to the grave. But he worked in circuses all across Eastern Europe and so he made me learn the rope walking and juggling. Any skill that teaches balance and concentration helps with the sleight of hand tricks."
As if to prove his point Freddy reached in his pocket and pulled out a large silver dollar. He placed it on his knuckles and rolled it back and forth across the backs of his fingers. Eric smiled, knowing that must take lots of practice.
Freddy placed his other hand over the coin and snatched it away, opening his palm to reveal two coins. He rolled these on the backs of his fingers and then snatched them into his left hand. He opened his hand and Eric expected to see three coins but there were none, they both had completely vanished.
"Wow, you're good," Eric said.
Freddy smiled and turned his hand over so Eric could see the coins pinched between his fingers. "It amuses, but my other tricks take a lot of props. No rabbits in the hat I'm afraid, I don't do animals or birds, too difficult to maintain."
"If you don't want to be a professional magician, why did you choose business?"
"My father is a bank president, a rather wealthy bank at that. I suppose I did it to please him since he's paying for my education. But I don't want his money for anything else, I won't be owned."
"I know what it's like, although I don't have the same pressure to perform," Eric said. "I'm only a senior."
"Prep school?" Freddy asked.
"Yeah, the best in town."
"I knew we had something in common…" Freddy started to say but then the pizza arrived. There was little conversation as they both dug into the food.
Eric didn't plan on discussing his rich family life with anyone this summer, but it seems Freddy had opened that door. They finished the meal and returned to the boardwalk heading north.
"What's in the other direction?" Freddy asked.
"Several blocks of boardwalk and the businesses taper off into housing. That part of town is where most of the locals live, and then beyond that are the sand dunes. That's where Terry and Neil will be trying to take those girls."
"Ah, the local lover's lane I imagine."
"Close, if you like sand up the crack of your ass," Eric laughed.
"The voice of experience?"
"Me? Oh hell no…not yet anyways. Girls make good friends, and that's all I've discovered so far. Do you have a special lady back in Pittsburgh?"
"Like you, they're just friends," Freddy said. "Where are we headed?"
"Putt-Putt Golf. I was told there's supposed to be some kind of tournament there this weekend."
"I love that game, are you any good?" Freddy asked.
"No, I only play when I come down here," Eric replied. "One of their employees told me I ought to sign up for the tourney. Maybe they have a prize? But I imagine we'll be pretty tired, this is the busy weekend at Playland."
"You're right, this isn't a vacation. But at least we can go watch."
Ocean Avenue was one of the last streets to intersect the boardwalk and Putt-Putt had nearly the whole block for the artificial golf course. Eighteen holes of silly zigzag approaches, hills and holes all covered in green outdoor carpeting and surrounded by real trees and flowers. A player would have to shoot through obstacles that included a windmill, a mountain, and a mechanical gorilla that tried to swipe the ball into a pond…fun stuff.
Freddy looked over the fence with anticipation and Eric almost laughed at the child-like smile on the guy's face. It all looked pretty deserted at the moment, perhaps it was still too early to play. They walked to the entrance and entered the caddy shack which held the soda machines and snack bar.
Over on one side was the counter lined with golf clubs and baskets of colored golf balls.
"Eric…so you did decide to drop in," Jack called from across the room.
"I wanted to show Freddy the place, he's never been here before," Eric replied, surprised that the guy remembered his name.
Jack carried a box over the counter and set it down before offering his hand to Eric and then Freddy.
"Jack Perkins," He said as he shook Freddy's hand. "So your first time in here or in Farnham?"
"Both," Freddy said, looking around the room.
"I guess we're open for business if you want to play," Jack said.
Eric looked at Freddy who shrugged. "We do," Eric replied. "I'm afraid we won't have time for your tourney this weekend, we'll be too busy."
"I figured that after we talked," Jack said. "But we have all summer ahead, you'll get another opportunity. Let me get you some clubs."
Eric chose a club from the assortment on the counter, but one look at Freddy and Jack pulled a longer one out from under the counter.
"Are you going to keep score?" Jack asked.
Eric laughed. "Probably not, this is Freddy's game…I'm just the novice."
"Practice makes perfect," Jack said. "Go have some fun. I still have some work to do."
They left the building and walked to the first hole which was a thirty-foot putt with a turn in the course. A par two that took Eric three taps to negotiate, and then a final putt to sink the ball.
"I was never much good at geometry," Eric laughed, and then stood amazed as Freddy sank the shot with one hard tap, a bounce off the sideboard, and a short roll to drop in the cup.
"I loved geometry. Fair warning, never shoot pool against me," Freddy said, and they moved on to the next hole.
It was a good thing they didn't keep score, Freddy slaughtered him with some more amazing putts. But they were down to the final hole before Freddy looked up at the shack and saw Jack watching them through the window.
"Where did you meet Jack?" Freddy asked.
"On the boardwalk this morning, he told me about the tourney," Eric said, lining up his final shot.
"He's gay…you know that, don't you?" Freddy said.
Eric missed the shot and then sighed. "I wondered, but I don't know anything about that stuff. How can you tell?"
"The way he looks at you. Gay guys don't look at my goofy face with interest, but this guy likes you. It's in his eyes."
"I…I didn't notice. Are you sure about that?" Eric asked.
Freddy gave him a weak smile. "I'll tell you about it sometime." And then he sank his final shot with one putt on a par three. "Can we leave now?"
Eric thanked Jack and reached for his wallet, but Jack waved him off. "That's your free game. I see Freddy is the real pro so you better come back and get in some practice."
"Thanks, Jack. I'll have to wait and see how much free time Playland leaves me," Eric said, and then he followed Freddy out the door.
They walked up a block to the end of the boardwalk and stood at the railing looking out at the beach curving off into the distance. People were walking along the shore and Freddy slipped off his sandals before he headed down the steps and across the sand to the water.
So Freddy thought Jack was gay and that somewhat confirmed his own thoughts. He didn't know where this knowledge came from but he wasn't about to ask. As it turned out he didn't have to.
"I grew up in a part of Pittsburgh called Shadyside," Freddy said as they joined the crowd walking along the tideline. "Old neighborhood, lots of huge Victorian homes and we had one of them near Mellon Park.
"School was just a place I had to be every day, and with all the bullying it wasn't a very friendly place to me. By the time I was in sixth grade my father decided I needed an outlet for my energies so he signed me up for tennis lessons in the park. Turns out I was pretty good at hustling after the ball with my long arms and legs.
"Out on the court I was respected for my ability, and with time I got better. By the time I was fifteen some of the other players were asking me to play doubles, and that was pretty flattering. I know some of them were shocked when they discovered my age, but then I began to understand their concerns when I realized they were gay.
"Several of the guys became friends, and being the curious type I asked them what it meant to be gay. They told me about growing up gay and damned if I didn't identify with the crap they had endured. I was the expert at being picked on for being different and I felt a kinship.
"Of the three tennis players I considered friends, I felt closest to Bobby who was still a grad student. He didn't look at me as if I was some goofy kid and we had some great conversations. But I was a kid, and curious as hell, so I asked him to tell me what it meant to be gay.
"I got the whole picture from Bobby. He told me about his emotions, the concerns, and how his family had reacted when they learned he was gay. He described the feelings and the physical aspect of having sex with another man. I suppose I should have been shocked by what he told me, but then I had asked for it.
"Bobby had a part-time boyfriend, a really handsome guy named Kyle, who I eventually met. But I never felt the least bit strange about having gay friends while I was in high school. Shadyside is one of the few places in Pittsburgh with gay bars and so when I turned eighteen last year Bobby and Kyle took me into one of them.
"I wasn't really comfortable in that crowd, but the place was pretty lively and we only stayed for an hour. It was there that I discovered the looks like the one Jack gave you. Bobby had always joked that if I ever wanted a gay experience that he would fix me up with a nice sensitive guy. But there in the bar I felt the eyes looking at me and I'll never forget what that feels like."
Freddy laughed. "So now you know my big secret."
They plodded along in silence for a while, passing Playland in their walk.
"I wanted to have a gay experience with another boy at school when I was fourteen," Eric said. "But he had the wrong attitude and to tell the truth, I wasn't sure what I wanted."
Freddy nodded. "That's all good, but I still think of myself as a nineteen-year-old virgin…it's pathetic."
"That doesn't make us losers…does it?" Eric asked.
"It does if we don't do something about it. This will be a very interesting summer."
Eric was surprised that he had told Freddy about his feelings towards Charlie, but it had seemed like the right thing to do. Here he was with the whole summer ahead and he was glad he would be sharing it with Freddy.
They were back at Playland by the time it turned dark. They climbed the back stairs to the dorm and were met by Mrs. Connors.
"Did you have a good dinner?" She asked.
"Yes, Ma'am," Eric replied.
"If you're not off to bed then here are some tokens for the games downstairs, go have some fun."
It seemed like the right thing to do, and so Freddy and Eric went back down to join several others engaged in learning to play the newest video games. Terry and Neil were nowhere in sight, but then it was still quite a while until the curfew.
There would be thousands of kids in the arcade this summer, each of them looking for new challenges on the game machines. It made sense for the employees to understand how the games functioned since those questions would be asked. Freddy had that kid in a candy shop look on his face again and Eric could only laugh. But he was even more amazed at the guy's dexterity and skill on these new games.
They played for almost two hours and then climbed the stairs to bed down for the night. Tomorrow would be an abbreviated day, but there would still be quite a mob of customers. Freddy wrapped a towel around his waist and went down the hall to shower, Eric decided to wait until morning to perform his normal bathing routine, but he did go brush his teeth.
Their room had a window that looked out over the boardwalk and the ocean beyond. When Eric turned out the light and slid under the covers he realized that the Playland sign was over their window. Perhaps he should think of it as his window since it was right over his bed. The neon colors bled through the curtain, casting red, yellow and green hues on the wall, it was all very pretty.
A strange room was only the beginning of what could turn out to be a strange summer. Eric was glad he had been honest with Freddy, and the boy had seemed to accept what he had been told at face value. Perhaps all he had was a boyish curiosity about having a gay experience, but Eric knew it had to mean more than that.
Sounds from the other rooms came through the walls and Eric heard some laughter from down on the boardwalk. Ten thousand people would come to Farnham this weekend Mr. Connors had said and that made Eric smile. You would think that somewhere in that vast number there ought to be at least one special guy.
The door opened and Freddy stepped inside, closing it quietly behind him.
"Whoa…nice colors," Freddy said, looking at the walls. "You aren't asleep yet, are you?"
"No, just listening to the night. Turn on the light if you want."
"I'm fine, my eyes are adjusting."
Eric could make out the tall slender body, but the color of Freddy's hair was obscured in the dim light.
"They've got a ton of hot water," Freddy said. "I'm going to like this place."
And with that he dropped the towel from his waist. Eric didn't bother to avert his gaze and the first thing he saw was Freddy's rear as the boy bent over to search in his suitcase for clean underwear. Tall and skinny gave the boy a small set of cushions on the rear end, but like every other feature on Freddy they seemed to fit him well. Then he turned around.
Boys at BPS used to kid one another in the locker room, flaunting what they had or attempting to hide what they didn't. There was no way Freddy could hide what was hanging between his legs. He must have seen the whites of Eric's eyes checking him out.
Freddy smiled and looked down. "I might have been the ugliest kid in middle school but I was the luckiest. You should have seen the looks I got in the showers at the tennis club."
Eric grinned back. "No wonder the gay guys found you attractive…that must have been awkward."
Freddy shrugged, making no attempt to cover his appendage. "Awkward was trying to avoid getting erections in a pair of tennis shorts." He put a hand under his penis and lifted it. "Lucky this fits nicely in a jock strap, but if I get aroused there's no hiding the beast."
"If the girls discover what you have…"Eric started to say.
"Nope, they can't seem to get past the face. Did you ever see a photo of John Holmes with an erection?"
"Who is he?" Eric asked.
"A porn star with a bad reputation, but his tool was legendary…I heard it was sixteen inches long."
"No way," Eric laughed.
"It's possible. But he did films, became a prostitute to men and women and died of AIDS. I saw one of his straight films and it was pathetic. He had a hard time getting it up and the girl couldn't handle the length. I don't want a sex partner who's there just to view the freak show."
"Aw, Freddy…don't look at it like that. You have a gift a lot of guys would envy."
"Yeah, but that's the issue. So far only guys seem to appreciate it," Freddy said.
Freddy pulled on his boxers and slid into bed. The dorm seemed to settle down for the night, at least there was no noise out in the hallway.
"Do we have an alarm clock?" Freddy asked.
"Probably won't need one," Eric replied. "Our window faces east so I imagine the sun will wake us up."
"Wake you up maybe, I can sleep through a hurricane."
"I'll wake you up for breakfast," Eric said. "Good night."
"Night," Freddy replied, followed by a moment of silence. "Thanks, Eric."
"You're welcome." Eric didn't have to ask, he understood what Freddy was saying. They were now officially friends.
Eric awoke to the wisp of a dream fading in the morning sunlight. There had been this boy who looked a lot like Charlie and they were lying on the beach in the hot summer sun. He rolled over and opened his eyes.
"Gaaah," Eric said as the strong morning sunlight made him squint. Damn. He sat up in bed and parted the curtain. The sun was a fiery orb on the horizon leaving a blazing trail across the water straight at his window. Yeah, so much for needing an alarm clock, but he looked at his watch on the nightstand and saw it was only six-fifteen.
He rolled out of bed and glanced over at Freddy. As if he needed any more proof of what he saw between the boy's legs last night there was this large tent in the sheets. Eric smiled, certain that Freddy would be embarrassed if he caught someone looking.
Eric grabbed his towel and shaving kit before heading down the hall to the showers. There was a mini-locker room just inside the door with the bathroom on one side and the shower room on the other. It had to be pretty early for most of the guys since he was the only one there, and then it hit him.
Eric returned to the room and slid on some gym shorts and a T-shirt before pulling on his sneakers. He walked quietly down the hall and let himself out the back door. It took only two minutes to walk around the building and cross the boardwalk to the stairs. One look told him others had much the same idea, and he ran across the sand to the tideline.
He looked at his watch and noted six-thirty. He would run for only an hour, go back to shave and shower and still have time to wake Freddy for breakfast. A group of four men passed him heading north and Eric followed.
He could have run track at BPS, but lacrosse was much the same thing. The team ran laps before and after each practice, and lots of wind sprints in between. Eric knew he was in good shape when the sea air filled his lungs and his mind came alive as the flow of endorphins sped through his body.
The four men in front of him kept up a grueling pace and Eric figured them to be from the lifeguard squad. He had grown up looking at guys just like this every summer, figuring what a cushy job they had. But then he had seen several swimmer rescues close up and came to realize they were the fittest people on the beach, and that included the female guards.
Eric ran north until he reached the last block of the boardwalk and turned back. Now he could run south past the end of the boardwalk and out past the dunes. One of these days he might just run all the way down to Rehoboth Beach and look at their boardwalk, or maybe even the gay section of beach.
The runners nodded at one another as they past, at least most of them did. Eric was the youngest one out here and he saw a few smiles as well. He turned back at seven-fifteen and jogged back to Playland. This time he walked across the sand to the boardwalk to cool down. A shower would do absolutely no good if a guy was still sweating, and his shirt was soaked.
He trudged up the stairs and down the hall to the door of his room. Now he could hear water running in the showers, good, someone else was up. He opened the door fully expecting Freddy to be awake, but he wasn't. Eric stripped off his clothing and grabbed his kit.
Tom and Bill were in the showers; two guys he had met at the meeting the day before.
"Hi," Eric said, as he turned on his own shower head. "Either of you see Terry or Neil come in last night?"
Tom laughed. "Yeah, they were flying low and damn near missed the curfew. Great way to start the summer."
Tom was from D.C. and Bill from Trenton, New Jersey. This was the second summer for them both. About half the workers would be return employees and that would make Eric's life easier. He showered away the sweat and then shaved. The beard grew in heavier every year, what a pain in the ass.
He walked back to the room and found Freddy on his stomach. "You awake?" Eric asked.
"Yeah, slept like a log," Freddy replied. "Must be the salty air. Did you go out earlier?"
"Yes, I ran for almost an hour. It's beautiful out there."
"Okay, I'm up," Freddy said, climbing out of bed. He sat back on the edge of the mattress and looked at Eric standing there in his boxers. "Damn, boy, you're ripped."
"I just finished the lacrosse season, that's always a workout. Leave me down here eating pizza all summer and I'll pay for it."
"Those muscles aren't going anywhere. I eat right, I exercise, and nothing happens except I seem to get skinnier."
"Then get dressed and we'll go feed your body before the big day starts," Eric said. "Um, you might want to cover that thing before you head down the hall."
Freddy laughed. "I'll hang a towel on it."
Breakfast was a buffet of goodies, most of it healthy. Eric chose cereal, eggs and melon slices, encouraging Freddy to pile on the calories. Terry and Neil were over in the corner looking like death warmed over, or was it a hangover? They were trying to lay low and Eric figured Mr. Connors might have something to say if he saw them looking like that.
Eric had taken about three bites when Mr. Connors stood up at his table and tapped on his glass with a spoon. Everyone put down their utensils since it seemed obvious what was coming.
"Let us give thanks to the Lord for the work we are about to do and food we are about to eat. Calories on your plate provide the sustenance your body needs to support the working hours ahead. I would like you to consider that prayerful thought feeds the mind and soul to brighten your spirit and bring joy to the heart. In the Lord's name. Amen."
There were mumbled answers of amen around the room and Freddy looked up to grin at Eric.
"My father is a Deacon at our local church. Mr. Connors met him on a church retreat up in Philadelphia, and here I am. Funny how things like that work, but at least I got a job because my parents go to church."
"And when did Mr. Connors get to see your magic act?" Eric asked.
"Um, he hasn't seen it yet, but my father told him about it. Don't worry, I'm good."
Eric laughed. "I suppose you could charm just about anyone."
Freddy smiled. "Thank you, I guess we'll find out."
Eric pushed a broom across a completely clean section of floor, the final touch before the gates rolled up. Freddy was standing beside one of the entrances with a coin changer hooked on his belt and a smile on his face. The carousel at the back began to turn and a sudden burst of music flooded the building.
"Showtime, boys and girls," Mr. Connors announced and the first door rolled upwards. Sunlight flooded the arcade and with it came dozens of kids and a few parents. Eric quickly moved to put the broom away and walked over to his station for the day, the Elephant Ride.
This was strictly kiddie fare, the gentlest ride on the premises. Six plastic elephants with internal seats for the three to five-year-old set. It moved at a walking pace which was hardly necessary since the kids were each strapped in place. But the joy on those little faces would make Eric feel happy when he started the ride.
It was like that all afternoon until Eric took his three o'clock break. He dashed upstairs for a bathroom visit and then dropped by the kitchen for some of the snacks Mrs. Connors had laid out. He took his milk and cookies out to a bench along the boardwalk and watched the crowds.
The beach was starting to fill up as people arrived in town and immediately headed for the water. There weren't too many swimmers since the water was still pretty cool this early in the season. But there was lots of skin out there on blankets and towels basking in the late afternoon sun, and perhaps he would see something interesting this weekend.
Eric had pretty much decided that if he did meet an interesting guy that it wouldn't be one of the locals. Last summer he had run around with Bobby enough to meet some of the homegrown boys. They just weren't right and perhaps that was a snobby attitude, but Eric didn't see any of them as being equal.
Coming from a prep school, he didn't find the local public school boys very stimulating and knew that would doom any kind of relationship. But the out-of-towners like himself who might be here for the whole summer were few and far between. That might leave him with a week-long fling and poof, the guy would disappear.
Eric sighed, looked at his watch and went back to work. He couldn't say how much fun it was to run this small ride, but he was sure if he did it for weeks on end that it would grow old pretty fast. A small boy cried when the ride was over and didn't want to get out of the elephant car. The kid's mother urged her son to come on and Eric stepped in to help.
"You know we have to give the elephants a break every hour or they get tired," Eric said.
"They do?" The boy replied. He looked all of three years old.
"Sure thing. We have to give them water and food before they take a nap. Maybe your mom will bring you back later?"
The boy smiled and reached his arms out to Eric's waiting hands. He lifted the boy out of the car and handed him off to a grateful mother. Then he looked up to see if there were any other customers and his eyes met those of a blond haired boy standing by the support pillar.
The boy's eyes held his gaze and Eric smiled. "I think this ride is a little bit tame for you," He joked.
"Yeah, I graduated to the carousel horses a long time ago," The boy replied.
"Just stay off the blue one, he isn't broken in yet," Eric replied, and then he saw the logo on the boy's shirt.
STX made some of the finest lacrosse gear around. The boy's shirt had the STX logo with the name Brunswick woven into the design. That had to be the name of his school.
"You play?" Eric asked, nodding at the shirt.
"State champs last year."
"Oh, cool…what state?"
"Connecticut, I live in Greenwich most of the time, but I'm down for the week."
"Eric Tolliver," Eric said, holding out his hand for a shake.
"Alan Morgan. So…you play?"
"Oh, another big time masochist," Alan said, and they both laughed. Lacrosse was a very tough sport.
"I just started working here because I thought it would give me something to do this summer," Eric said.
"Looks like you're off to a great start on your career as an elephant herder. We just got in an hour ago," Alan said. "We should get together and share horror stories about our team sports."
"I'd like that…are you staying in town or out in Farnham by the Sea?"
"I'm at my grandmother's house down by the end of the boardwalk, and you?" Alan asked.
Eric pointed at the ceiling. "The employees live upstairs, but I'm off every evening at six this week."
"That works," Alan said. "I don't know about tonight. We came down for my grandmother's birthday and the parents have me on a short leash. But I'll try and catch up with you tomorrow."
"Good deal, I'll be here," Eric said, and he watched Alan walk away.
More kids showed up for the ride and Eric tried very hard to pay attention to them, but his mind was still on Alan. They seemed to be the same age which was a plus and they had sports in common. Alan was attractive and…what had made him stand there and stare? Was there some kind of attraction or was it just curiosity?
Out by the end of the boardwalk Alan had said. There weren't many houses out there except for…Oh Lord. Did he live in one of those huge places? His grandmother's house could be one of the two estates on the inlet behind the dunes. Eric smiled…what have you latched onto here, boy?