Eric awoke with the sunrise again, but not without regret. He had been dreaming, and although the subject matter had been sexually exciting, it was also very confusing. He slid out of bed and reached for his gym shorts and shoes. Freddy was still fast asleep as Eric left the room and headed for the bathroom.
His boxers were soaked clean through from the orgasm that had awakened him. Okay, that had not happened in a long, long time, probably not since eighth grade. He slid out of his messy underwear and cleaned himself off with paper towels before donning his gym shorts. It took only a minute more to rinse out his boxers and hang them in his locker to dry.
The sky was overcast when he reached the tideline, but the sun would soon burn that off and give them a nice hot day. He had to run and clear away the cobwebs in his mind, although he was pretty sure the thoughts would not disappear that easily.
It had all started with that hug from Alan, but his dream had spun it out into a hugely detailed sexual encounter. They had kissed and groped one another with haste before the fantasy became more detailed and time seemed to slow to a crawl.
Eric had never done any of the things his fantasy allowed him to do, but it sure seemed real. He had worshiped Alan's body as their clothes came off; heating them both up before they sprawled on the floor.
His feet pounded out the distance on the packed sand above the tideline and slowly Eric's thoughts came back down to Earth. He didn't often remember his dreams, but then this one had been exceptional.
Connie had always been the resident Dr. Freud at school and she would probably have a field day with the details of this dream. Thank goodness she wasn't around. The images Eric could understand since they weren't too different from the things he had seen on the internet.
Eric was way out beyond the dunes by the time his head cleared and so he turned back. It would be a long day and somewhere in it there would be time with Alan. He would have to be careful and not assume any untoward intimacy. If they were going to develop a relationship it wouldn't happen quickly. There were just too many obstacles to overcome in a week. Besides, hadn't he promised to help find Alan a girl?
Eric groaned at the thought and turned to cross the loose sand towards Playland. Freddy was up and in the shower when Eric joined him.
"Been out running I see," Freddy said. "Where were you last night?"
"I went over and met Alan's family," Eric replied. "Nice people, especially the grandmother."
"Always pays to keep the granny happy. So, a busy day ahead…I'm starved."
Busy couldn't begin to describe the mob that descended on Playland once the doors opened for the day. There was a line for the Elephant Ride all morning and to Eric it seemed as if every kid in town under the age of five wanted a ride. One of the things he quickly learned was not to lift too many of the kids out of the cars because by noon his back was sore. By the time he caught his first break period there was still no sign of Alan.
Eric grabbed a cup of juice in the upstairs kitchen and made himself a bacon sandwich with the morning leftovers. He had returned to the floor of the arcade ready to face an afternoon of chaos when Alan walked up with Beetle in tow.
"I'm a little old for your ride," Beetle said, once again shaking Eric's hand.
"I know you could ride the carousel horses, and I think you might ride along with Alan on the bumper cars. Then again, you might be tall enough to go it alone, why don't you go see?" Eric suggested.
"Cool," Beetle said and went off to get his height measured.
Eric started the Elephant Ride and Alan moved up beside him to watch.
"I'm sorry," Alan said.
"Sorry for what?" Eric asked.
"I didn't mean for you to feel like you need to pimp me off to some girl. Maybe I said too much last night."
Eric smiled. "No apology necessary, you were just being real."
Alan was silent for a moment and then he nodded. "Thanks…I was worried."
"I still am," Eric said. "Look, I don't know much about this girl business. I'm not sure what it's going to take. Do you have preferences?"
"Not really, but they have to be smart…someone I can talk to," Alan said.
"Not like that I suppose," Eric said, nodding across the arcade towards Terry who was standing with two young ladies. Alan turned his head and took in the view.
Both girls were in tiny bathing suits but were wearing long sleeved men's shirts with the tails tied around their waists. To say they met Connors rules of a shirt and shoes in the arcade would be pushing the point. There was an awful lot of skin showing.
Terry seemed to be in an animated conversation with them both, but his eyes were focused on their cleavage. He managed to glance up and caught Eric's eye, giving him a wink in acknowledgement. The ladies finally turned away and Terry walked over with a smile.
"Did you see that?" Terry asked, ignoring Alan's presence. "That little blonde wants to polish my knob tonight and the brunette…well, let's just hope they work as a team. I couldn't choose between them."
"I'm sorry to see you suffering with such a dilemma," Eric said.
"Life's a bitch…uh oh, Connors is giving me the eye…see ya," Terry said.
Eric brought the ride to a stop and several kids made their exit.
"Who was that guy?" Alan asked.
"One of our college boys," Eric replied. "Nice enough except that he thinks with the head between his legs."
"I noticed that…does he know those girls?"
"Not at all and I don't think he cares," Eric said. "He sees women as something to satisfy his cravings and little else."
Alan sighed. "That makes what I want sound rather sordid, doesn't it?"
"A little…maybe…yes," Eric said. "If all you want is a quickie to prove a point then I'm sure there are lots of girls around here who will oblige you. I just think it's a little rude to chat up a girl with only one objective in mind."
And there the discussion ended as Alan took his brother off to the rides and the afternoon marched on. Alan had promised to return at six o'clock and they would have time to continue the conversation in a more private setting.
Eric saw them again and again over the next few hours. It seems Beetle did make the grade and so could ride by himself in the bumper cars. But eight years old was still too young to be wandering around the arcade alone so Alan had to stick with the boy.
At three o'clock Eric took his break and found Beetle being coached by Freddy in how to use the Rat Race video game. The boy was standing on one of the kiddie booster boxes so he could hold the steering wheel and see the screen. Alan stood there amused as his little brother and Freddy cringed and groaned, suffering through each and every car crash.
"I hope you drive better than that," Eric said, sliding in behind Alan to watch.
"I do, and I have a license, but my father is not in that 'I'm buying you a car' phase yet. Beetle has yet to grasp the idea of brakes."
Beetle crashed the car in the game one final time and Freddy laughed. "You have a serious case of road rage, little man."
"I do," Beetle agreed. "But I'm used to my Nintendo where you can blow things up before they get in the way."
"Why don't you go shoot some ducks for a little while, we have to go home soon," Alan said.
"Okay…you coming, Freddy?" Beetle asked.
Freddy grinned. "I suppose, for a while anyway."
Beetle led the way across the aisle to the shooting games and Freddy followed along.
"Your roomy is now his personal trainer it seems," Alan said.
"Freddy likes kids so I guess this is the perfect job for him," Eric replied. "Are you coming back tonight?"
"I am," Alan said. "Freddy said something about playing golf."
"Oh yeah, we can do that. Do you have dinner with the family tonight?"
"No, Thank God…they're going down to some restaurant in Rehoboth and then out to a club so I don't have to tag along."
"I thought your father didn't like Rehoboth because of the queer factor," Eric said.
"I think Mom chose that restaurant just to goad him. He really can be an intolerable bore with his stupid attitudes. So let me take the brat home and I'll come back in my golfing clothes."
"Works for me," Eric said.
He watched Alan and Beetle make their way towards the boardwalk and disappear into the crowd.
"Cute kid," Freddy said from behind him and Eric turned to look.
"Yes, he is."
"Which one are you talking about?" Freddy asked.
Eric shrugged. "Both of them. Beetle is like an open book, but Alan…"
"Give it time," Freddy said.
Eric finished his work day and took a quick shower. Shorts and a clean Playland Polo shirt seemed like the proper golfing clothes…he wondered what Alan would wear. Freddy had promised to meet up with them by seven-thirty and Eric left the dorm to wait on the boardwalk for Alan's return.
By six-thirty they were pounding the boards through the milling crowds of the holiday weekend. Eric led Alan up Atlantic to the Daisy Chain restaurant for their dinner. It was too early for a crowd to gather and so the patio out back was fairly quiet and the hamburgers were always good.
"Is it wrong for me to think I might want sex from some strange girl and nothing else?" Alan asked.
"I think it depends on her motive as well," Eric replied. "If all she wants to be is a receptacle for your cock without even knowing your name then I'd say there is everything wrong about that. I've always thought sex was supposed to be part of an emotional attachment between two people."
"This isn't going to work out the way I thought," Alan said.
"But you want to try, I understand that. There's a whole body of knowledge on the subject in your head, but that's just the mechanics when what you really want is lab time, a chance to experiment."
Alan smiled. "That pretty much sums it up…what about you?"
"I'm in no hurry, never was the pushy type…and to be honest I plan to try everything before I reach a conclusion."
There, Eric felt like he had said something profound, and now he waited for Alan to answer.
"You're braver than I am," Alan replied.
"Probably not, I only take chances on the playing field."
Alan put down the remains of his hamburger and looked Eric right in the eye. "Would you sleep with a guy?"
Eric could hardly breathe…what was Alan asking? This wasn't some silly question out of the blue because the look on Alan's face was serious. What could he say in reply?
"I don't know any guys who would have me," Eric said, "and I definitely don't have any experience in that direction."
"Do you think it's important to find out? I mean if a guy doesn't have any experience should he sleep with both sexes to find out what's right for him?"
"I suppose it would depend on the guy and what he wanted to do. I'm not ready to go all the way with a guy…I don't even know how that's done."
Alan gave off a small nod as if deciding something. What a strange turn this conversation had taken, but then Eric was beginning to understand that Alan was far more complex then he first estimated…and prone to changing subjects on a whim.
"What do you and Freddy talk about?" Alan asked.
Eric had to smile. "Gay sex."
"What? Freddy isn't…"
"I don't know what Freddy is, but I like him. He's a very complicated person and that has great appeal to me. He plays tennis."
"I tried that, didn't work out. So why do you talk about gay sex?"
"He has gay friends. I never told you this but I think Freddy is still a virgin, so there has never been any gay sex in his life, or any other kind for that matter. But sex with him would be a very intense experience that I would never even think of trying…he's hung like a horse."
Alan grinned. "Literally?"
"I don't think a twelve-inch ruler would be an adequate way to measure his largesse."
"Oh My God…well, that's terrible, isn't it?"
"I think you and I and Freddy have way more in common than we'd like to admit," Eric said.
"My cock is nowhere near twelve inches…oh, what did you mean?"
"A bit of honesty? I don't think any of us knows what we want, but we'd like to find out…and two of us have a better chance of doing that, Mr. Morgan."
"I suppose you're right, Mr. Tolliver."
The miniature golf course was mobbed, as was every other type of amusement business on the boardwalk. Jack was behind the counter with two other employees when they made it through the doors and faced a long line. Eric looked around and saw no sign of Freddy, but Jack waved when he saw them.
"Your buddy is already out on the course giving lessons," Jack said.
If Eric had any doubts about Jack's sexual orientation they had dissolved when he saw the way the man looked at Alan. Hungry eyes, but then rather than laugh it off Eric felt jealous. That was a new feeling and he immediately decided Jack was someone to avoid.
Alan was oblivious to it all, or so Eric thought. It wasn't until they had paid the admission and obtained the equipment that Alan led the way out to the course.
"Who is that guy?" Alan asked. "Do you know him?"
"His name is Jack which is pretty much all I know. But I think he's gay."
"He is all of that. I know that look."
"I'm sorry," Eric said.
"I don't think older guys should chase after guys like us. I mean…I get it. They want something they can't have. I don't feel threatened…it's just creepy."
Eric nodded, but then he saw Freddy standing at the practice green surrounded by several young girls. He was wearing a Playland shirt and that was probably the attraction for this young crowd. Alan followed Eric's gaze and broke into a smile.
"Freddy is a chick magnet," Alan said.
"Some of those chicks haven't reached puberty yet," Eric said. "Don't you go looking at that stuff…that is creepy, my friend."
"I am not trolling for middle school girls. Maybe they have older sisters."
"And if they do those are the ones parents won't take their eyes off of because of guys like us. Freddy on the other hand seems harmless…at least with his pants on."
Alan laughed. "You are so bad."
Freddy seemed almost embarrassed by the attention he was getting from these young girls, but Eric could see several parents standing on the sidelines watching. Freddy lined up three golf balls and explained a proper grip on the club. Then one-two-three he sank each ball in the hole about fifteen feet away.
The girls applauded, the parents swooped in to take them away, and Freddy looked up with a sigh.
"I didn't know that was going to happen. One girl asked me if I would show her how to putt and the next thing I knew there was a crowd."
"It's the shirt, Freddy. But you are such a sexy animal," Eric said with a smile. "Alan thinks you're a chick magnet."
Freddy grinned. "Don't I wish, but my charms don't seem to work on the older women."
"My grandmother would like you," Alan said, and then he ducked as Freddy grabbed for him.
They played several rounds even though Freddy scored lowest on each hole. There were several attractive young ladies who gave both Eric and Alan some observable focus, but then so did the parents who accompanied their daughters.
"This is a complete bust," Alan said after the third play around the course.
"These are all tourists with families looking over their shoulder. You won't be able to make a play with any of them," Freddy said. "So where do the locals hang out?"
"I know, but I'm not sure we should go there," Eric said.
"There are three of us, what could go wrong?" Alan said.
Knowles Arcade was located in an old gas station building off Atlantic Avenue and one block west of the fire station. This was an area few tourists ever visited, but Bobby Connors had brought Eric here on several occasions. The arcade and pool hall was a valued local hangout for the teenagers of Farnham, and outsiders were not welcome.
Some of the local boys in town knew Eric from past summers, but only in the context of his friendship with Bobby. The local girls hung around there as well and if Eric showed up there with Freddy and Alan they would be viewed as poachers of the local skirts.
The relationship between the local kids was complicated, and even more so between the sexes. A lot of the boys worked for the tourist trade in the shops and restaurants along the boardwalk and coveted their time away from that nonsense. Some of the girls worked in and around town, but they had a slightly more adventurous attitude when it came to tourist boys.
By wearing the Playland shirts Eric and Freddy would be subject to a grudging acceptance, but Alan had no such disguise. He didn't look like anything besides a rich tourist boy, which of course was true. If any of the locals discovered Alan's identity as the grandson of the richest person around town, and perhaps the state, there would be problems.
They walked up Atlantic amid the tourist crowd and Eric knew he had to let his friends know what they were walking into.
"First off, Knowles is a local hangout and probably on Mr. Connors no-go list for the employees. That didn't stop his son from taking me there, but we never talked about it with anyone."
"Then why are we going there?" Freddy asked.
"The local girls hang out there and our shirts will amuse them. But we probably won't have to go inside, and with Alan in tow that might be a good idea."
"So you plan to walk past the place but not go inside?" Alan asked.
"Even the girls have cars, and from what Bobby says they provide their own condoms if they decide to let you in the back seat."
They reached Division Street and the tourist crowd suddenly vanished. There were few businesses that catered to the visitors beyond this point and so they had no reason to be out this far. The fire station was across the street and they passed several of the men sitting in chairs outside the stationhouse doors.
The traffic to and from the downtown area still filled the street, but this was the beginning of the neighborhood populated by the year-round residents. Eric could see several groups of kids standing on the sidewalk ahead and knew there would be a few in the parking lots around the building.
The police station was on the other side of Atlantic and within sight of Knowles which kept the disturbances down to a minimum. The cops left the kids alone unless they attracted attention, and so any drinking that went on was done in cars and out of sight. Everyone knew the deal and tried not to openly break the rules or notice that they were being broken.
Eric and Freddy walked on either side of Alan as they approached the building. It wasn't something they planned, but it was probably a good idea. Freddy had discovered a cache of golf balls in the bushes back at the Putt-Putt course and he was holding four of them now.
"What are you planning to do?" Alan asked.
"Attract attention…isn't that what you want?" Freddy said and he started to juggle the balls.
Several of the guys standing in front of the door began watching Freddy and Eric had to admit the guy was fast with his hands. It took less than a minute for several girls to join the watchers. Freddy didn't say a word but he was the center of attention.
He tossed the balls higher and higher and then seemed to grab one and toss it away to the side with his right hand, now there were three. He repeated the trick and then there were two and finally one until that too vanished. Two of the girls clapped and there were smiles in the crowd.
"Where did they go?" One of the girls asked.
"Here," Freddy said, holding up his left hand which held all four balls. "I didn't toss them…I just made you think I did."
"What else can you juggle?" She asked.
"I don't do chainsaws if that's what you're asking, too risky."
"Don't I know you?" The girl asked, looking at Eric.
He had been standing there the whole time trying to remember her name. "Valerie, isn't it?" Eric said.
"Yeah…you're Bobby's friend."
"Yup, Eric. I came down here and discovered he's off in Crisfield picking crabs for the summer."
"He is? I wondered where he went off to. So who are your friends?" Valerie asked.
"This is Alan, and the one with the magic hands is Freddy."
"Working Playland, huh?"
Eric smiled. "Gotta be somewhere, and the Connors are nice people."
He did nothing to correct her misconception that all three of them were working at Playland. Everyone knew they weren't locals, but at least they weren't considered tourists. Alan seemed to relax as several more girls walked out of the parking lot and joined them. Eric smiled as the girls looked them over and then zoomed in on Alan.
Perhaps the boy would get lucky, Eric thought, and then the cops arrived. Loitering was a favorite reason to push the town kids around and whenever a dozen teenagers gathered in front of Knowles it was a guarantee of police presence.
It was all pretty senseless since the kids had nowhere else to hang out. The cops went right to the group of boys standing in front of the door, and then Eric felt a hand tug on his arm. Three of the girls urged them into the back parking lot and away from the cops.
The car was an old Cadillac with lots of interior room. Eric found himself in front with Valerie while Alan and Freddy squeezed in back with the other two.
"Nice car," Eric said.
"My aunt's…she lets me use it," Valerie said.
It was dark back there in the corner of the lot and Eric had no doubts about the kind of things Valerie and her friends did in this car. He didn't dare turn around but all he could hear were quiet whispers in the back seat.
"You down for the summer?" Valerie asked.
"I am…working at Playland is like a vacation from the parents."
"I work a few shifts at Daisy Chain and then usher at Movietime most nights. Two jobs still doesn't help me make much."
"We get minimum wage, but most of the work is boring," Eric said.
"I don't know how you can stand the noise in there," Valerie said. "So…you wanna do something?"
"I thought we were doing something," Eric said. "Are we in a hurry?"
Valerie smiled. "Nope…we have all summer."
She seemed like a nice girl, but she probably had some bad habits if she thought all he wanted was sex. Didn't say much about the boys she hung around with, but in Farnham that was to be expected. Connie would have said the girl was just used to being a cock receptacle, and that was pretty sad.
There were some noises in the backseat, maybe something was happening, but Eric smiled. He would know if things started getting sexy.
"Oh My God," One of the girls in back said.
Yeah, that would be Freddy, but there was nothing from Alan. Would the boy go all the way with a girl when there were four other people in the car? Eric never got the chance to find out because Valerie decided to pursue one of her bad habits, she lit up a joint.
"I'm sorry," Eric said, "I can't be around someone smoking pot." With that he opened the car door and stepped out into the parking lot. Moments later the rear doors opened and Freddy and Alan got out of the car as well. Eric waved good-bye to Valerie through the window and started off back towards the street.
He didn't mean to interrupt anything his friends might be doing, but he couldn't sit there and inhale second hand pot smoke. The athletes at BPS were drug tested which was something the parents and the school insisted upon. Eric didn't know how long traces of drugs lasted in the body, but he wasn't willing to find out.
They reached the sidewalk and Eric turned to his friends. "I'm sorry…"
"Don't be," Alan said. "I can't be around that shit either."
"Yeah, but I thought there might be some progress going on in the back seat."
"She groped me, but I think all she wanted was something to play with…I didn't even have time to learn her name," Alan said. And then he looked at Freddy. "You seemed to be making progress."
Eric laughed. "I guess she freaked when she saw that mighty tool."
Freddy smiled. "She unzipped my shorts and pulled it out, that was enough to freak her out."
"Hey, at least she got to see it…you may become legend in this town before the summer is over," Eric said.
"She got my balls," Freddy said.
"I left the golf balls in the car," Freddy said.
Eric and Alan cracked up as they walked back up to the boardwalk and stepped into the crowd. It was just about ten o'clock, an hour until the curfew at Playland. Freddy begged off and headed back to the dorm leaving Alan and Eric sitting on a bench outside the building.
"I'm sorry that was a bust," Eric said.
"I didn't feel it," Alan said.
"Didn't feel what?"
"The girl, the situation…it didn't turn me on. The experiment isn't working."
"You're too smart to let one failure stop progress," Eric said. "The week is just beginning…"
"I know…I know. I have to think about all this, but what about you?"
"I think self-abuse is starting to look better all the time," Eric said. "The time, the place, it was all wrong. I don't even know Valerie very well. I mean, she seems nice, but nothing will work out between us."
Alan laughed. "What a dismal pair we make."
"Oh, I don't know…I kinda like you."
"The feeling is mutual," Alan said. "I guess I just better go on home…you have to work tomorrow."
"We should make a date to cross sticks on Wednesday since I have the whole day off," Eric said.
"Yeah, that would be cool…a date it is."
"I never kiss on the first date, if I ever had a date which it doesn't look like I'm going to find out about any time soon."
"Hmm, I bet you're a good kisser…but that sounds pretty gay, doesn't it," Alan said.
It was Eric's turn to laugh. "If we keep going like this that might turn out to be the only option."
Alan was quiet for a moment. "I'd kiss you but…well, I don't think we're out of options quite yet."
"Hoo-hah…team spirit?" Eric said.
"No, I'm just not ready to give in to the temptations of the other side yet. Good night."
Eric sat and watched Alan get up and walk away down the boardwalk, disappearing into the late evening crowd.