Never Forget

by AZ Story Guy

Chapter 5

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright 2015. This work is protected under The United States Copyright Laws © 17 USC§§ 101, 102(a), 302(a). All Rights Reserved. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

"WHERE DO YOU THINK that one's going?" Eric asked.

His friend sat silently beside him.

No answer.

The two boys were at their usual spot on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River.

Eric hadn't been able to spend a lot of time with Marky over the past month and it sucked. Now he had time available. And he planned to make it the best time ever with his yet still unconsummated lover....

It had been a month since his Dad had dropped the bombshell.... They were moving again. As soon as school ended. In about another month. The news hit Eric like a sledgehammer. All his plans for the Senior year were gone.

He had argued with his Dad. Violently. Almost to the point of trading blows.

Marky had not taken the news well. Like that should surprise anyone....

Both boys were completely in love with each other. They both knew it. And still were afraid to make the next big step. Yet they were inseparable. Everywhere anyone could find Eric, Marky was never far away. It was a textbook picture of innocense and cuteness.

Eric had planned for the two boys to have their first sleep over. Marky reluctantly agreed. He was terrified.... Not of what might happen, but of falling further for Eric with an obvious brick wall headed their way.

The older teen had other plans for their sleep over. The past month HAD been Hell on him but now.... It was settled!!! He had a bombshell; actually more than one surprise, to drop on Marky......!!!!!!

"Hey! Are you ready to go?" Eric asked.

Marky was sluggish in answering. Usually the younger teen was a dynamo of energy, a picture of effervescence. More spirited and energetic than Eric, which said a lot because the older boy was likewise a very high energy person; however that afternoon Marky was lethargic and unresponsive.

Eric had noticed his friend's attitude shift. In the beginning he too had been drained of life. Faced with moving AGAIN, and more importantly losing Marky forever, nearly drove him insane. He fought back. Futilely. Eric's Father was adamant.

Today was different, though. The last two weeks had seen Eric gain new strength and surprisingly a new ally. Even though he watched Marky emotionally drain over the thought of Eric leaving, the older teen had to wait. To be sure. Before saying anything. Of giving false hope....

The sun was dipping towards the horizon. Bands of orange and red clouds streaked across the horizon as evening approached, signaling the start of another weekend.

No school for two days! Marky spending the weekend with him!!!! It was going to be the best time of his; of their, lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marky broke the silence and spoke, "Maybe I should... Maybe... Maybe you should just take me home!"

Eric's head spun and he stared at the boy. Their eyes locked as they had so many times over the past months. Volumes of silent thoughts exchanged between the two teens. Both Eric and Marky had discovered how to communicate silently with each other. There was often no need for vocalization. They were in perfect, synchronized harmony.

Marky's beautiful brown eyes betrayed his thoughts. Hurt. A deep, continuing pain seared through his brain. Eric would be leaving soon and it was killing the younger boy. Deep inside the reality of their impending breakup was tearing Marky to pieces.

Eric saw the moistness in Marky's huge puppy dog eyes. He couldn't wait any longer. To Hell with his plans. He loved Marky. Seeing his friend hurt like this was too much.

"My parents are going to be gone all weekend!" Eric said softly.

Marky raised his head and stared at Eric.

"Oh?" the younger boy said softly.

The eyes. Eric was filled with energy and excitement. He couldn't wait any longer... And he couldn't stand to be the cause of watching Marky suffer.

"Yeah so it would just be you and me!" Eric replied in an equally soft voice, "All weekend alone .....together!"

Marky fought back a sniffle.

"What happened? Did someone die or something?" he asked quietly.

Eric took a deep breath.... This was IT!!! He was scared as Hell. Eric knew HE loved Marky, but what if?????

"NO!" Eric laughed, "Mom is helping my Dad move!"

The younger teen's head shot up and he stared at Eric's face.

His older friend has a Cheshire cat grin on his face.

Marky was confused.

"Move?" he said in an uncertain tone, "Are... are you leaving early?"

Eric smiled.

"No, Marky... I'm not going anywhere. EVER!"

Marky's eyes flew open wide.

"I promise! I'm going to be here for my Senior year. And more!" he finished.

"What? How? Eric??? Are you serious? You're not leaving? We can be together? All the time?" Marky was babbling like a little kid.

"Yes! Just you and me! This weekend. All year. As long as we want!" Eric beamed.

"What.... What happened?" Marky exclaimed.

Eric smiled as he told his young friend what had transpired in the past month.

After Eric's Father told the family they were going to move at the end of the school year, Eric had lost it. He argued with his Father morning, noon and night. Eric's Mother had sat silently on the sidelines, offering little support for either of the men.

It was 1969 and women were still expected to follow the lead of the "man of the house" This was a misogynist, antique tradition handed down through the years and no doubt based in some pseudo religious crackpot notion that the Man was dominant in any family structure.

Eric had threatened to run away. Even though he had nowhere to go, he thought the threat might make a difference. It didn't.

He told his Father he wouldn't leave. That didn't work either.

"The house is going up for sale. You are coming with as. As a family!" his Father replied.

"A family? This isn't a family. It's a fucking joke!" Eric screamed.

His Father had turned beet red and back handed Eric across the face.

"You don't ever use language like that in this house!" his Father yelled.

"Good... Then I'll go outside and scream it so ALL the neighbors can hear!" Eric replied.

A massive fight had erupted over the Davis Family structure. Eric said they didn't have a functional family that planned and did anything together. All they EVER did was play "Follow the Leader." Wherever Eric's Dad had to go, everyone was expected to follow. Like little ducks in a row.

Eric was losing the battle. He was getting more frustrated than ever.

Mostly, he was torn up inside because of the thought of never seeing Marky again.

"You were fighting to stay here just for me?" Marky looked at his friend in shock.

"Of course, Dufus!" Eric grinned.

He continued.

"Then it happened. The strangest thing. Like out of nowhere...!"

In Eric's Current Events class, their teacher, Mr. Underwood, opened discussion about the recent "Tet Offensive" in the Vietnam War.

In 1969 the War was THE hot topic everywhere. It was especially relevant to boys near Eric's age because of the reality of the military draft.

The Tet was a textbook case of a military strategy where a supposedly inferior army ends up kicking the ass of a much bigger force. In this case, the North Vietnamese had initially handed the Americans their ass on a platter. Even though the United States prevailed in the end of that offensive, the determination and ferocity of the North Vietnamese attack - against such a superior force as the American military - left a huge demoralizing impact on this country.

That made Eric think. He went to the public library. He did a lot of research. And then he launched his own mini "Tet Offensive" against his Father.

The strategy used by the North Vietnamese made Eric realize he needed an ally. He sought out the only possible one at hand: his Mother.

Eric's Mom was the classic wife of the so-called 1960s "nuclear family." Born in a family of seven sisters, and of nothing more than a high school education, she followed the predetermined (by, of course, men) "role" as an obedient housewife. She cooked, cleaned and did all the things women were "supposed" to do in the typical 1960s household.

As her son grew into his teenage years, she soon found her role at home was less demanding. So, upon settling in their latest town, she struck out looking for a part time job to fill the increasingly available free time.

She quickly found a nice position as an office manager in an Orthopedic Clinic. It was suited to her perfectly. Women often handled the finances in a typical 60s household. No Excel spreadsheets or computers. They did it all the traditional "old school" way with hand written ledger sheets.

The three doctors who operated the clinic were impressed with the woman's skills and attitude. Eric's Mom was soon learning how to take X-rays and assist the doctors in setting fractures and performing other minor procedures.

She was elated with her new career. Fast forward next to the argument about the newly pending move. Eric's Mom remained predicatively passive, per her preordained role, and said very little.

Eric began talking with his Mom. Not about typical family small talk nonsense. Rather, about how she would be losing her job and then have to deal with starting all over again. In a new town. Hundreds of miles away. In a region of the country where "outsiders" are not always viewed with favoritism.

He knew he needed more to convince his Mother. That's where the library research helped Eric a lot. He spent hours there after school and on the weekends . Which is why he hadn't seen Marky very much. He spent a fortune (for a sixteen year old boy in 1969!) throwing dimes into the public library photocopier for documentation on his research.

Then he found what turned out to be a real "gold nugget." Texas' school rankings... were abysmal. Eric smiled as he read about the (compared to his school) dismal course offerings.

For his senior year, Eric had pre-enrolled in a journalism class, allowing him to write for the entirely student-produced newspaper, a data processing class (laugh as one might today, in 1969 any public school offering access to such an opportunity was far above the curve!) affording the ability to use the school's "main frame" computer (a lot of readers will have to look that one up!). And a class in printing and phototypesetting.

All of those options would go away when the Davis Family moved to Texas. The choices there were auto or wood shop and ROTC........

He was ready for face "the enemy" (sadly, that enemy was his own Father).

"When Mom found out about the schools there, she got pretty pissed!" Eric told Marky, "then I think she also realized what she would be giving up with her job!"

He added, "The piece.... the FINAL crowning piece was when she talked to a patient at the clinic! Oh boy! I wish I knew whoever that person was.... He was from Texas. Dallas... But he had lived all over the state for most of his life and he said it all in two words, 'Don't go!'"

Eric went on, "So the shit DID hit the fan. Instead of me and Dad arguing, now it was Mom and Dad. Thanks to me, I guess, she had finally found her voice; she laid out her thoughts pretty brutally. The bottom line was why should we... meaning herself and me, have to give up everything AGAIN to start over AGAIN. She told Dad HE was the 'breadwinner' of the family so it was HIS job to 'earn the bread.' Doing whatever it took... Without ripping the family apart!"

"WOW! She said THAT?" Marky asked.

"No shit YES!"Eric laughed, "So..... the Texas job is out. Dad is going to work in Kansas City. He's there now with Mom..... looking for an apartment for him. We're.....!"

Marky's eyes widened. He stared at Eric.

"So you're not leaving......!" he started to say.

"NO!" Eric laughed, "I'll be here all next year. Mom and I get to keep our house. Nothing's changing. Especially for us!"

Marky started to cry.

"I can't believe.... Did you do all this for.....me?" he started to ask.

"For BOTH of US!" Eric replied, "We get to stay together as best friends!"

Eric was dying to say next what he was thinking and scared as Hell at the same time.....

"But what about after next year?" Marky asked.

Eric smiled. He loved how this boy could see so far ahead at his youthful age. He also had somehow anticipated the question.....

"I'm putting my college plans on hold... Well... Maybe changing them a bit.. But no matter what.... I'll be eighteen next July and if I have to I'll get a job. Work at the Revlon plant. Do anything to stay here......!" he said.

"Why would you want to do that?" Marky asked, "Screw your college chances and everything....!"

"Well... I can't very well go off to school and leave the most special boy in my life behind!" Eric said.

"There!" he thought, "I finally said it!

Eric took a deep breath and moved to "Part Two." The first part, about winning the battle against his Father, had been relatively easy and fun to explain. It had been Hell to fight the battle but telling Marky about it was so simple. Now he had more to tell Marky. Close and intimate things from one boy to another....

He knew it was time not only to acknowledge who and what he was, but how he felt for Marky. Eric also knew he had been playing a little dance with his friend for almost a whole year. A radio show late one night pushed Eric over the edge. He knew he had intensely strong emotional and sexual feelings for Marky. He also could read Marky like a book (Ed Note: the actual term "gaydar" didn't enter the common language until the 1980s). He didn't know why or how he could sense Marky like he did... He just knew he was right...

The precipitating event came one late Sunday night (actually early Monday morning) while he had been hidden under his covers, with his flashlight and transistor radio, listening to far away Top 40 stations. Since it was such a "dead" time of the week, many stations signed off for maintenance or simply because in 1970 no one was awake at that hour of the morning. Well, not enough to justify remaining on the air....

He had stumbled across a radio discussion show with two doctors and a legislator. Eric had no clue why he stopped to listen... He never did figure that one out.. Maybe it was because he heard the word "homosexual." Hearing that on the radio in 1969 or 1970 was a big deal.

It was a Canadian station. That excited the teen because it seemed so "otherworldly" to him. He quickly became entranced with what he heard next....

Eric was coming to grips with being a homosexual. But now he learned more about himself and others like him. For the first time in his life he heard "his"definition of the word "gay." He also leaned about the Stonewall riots, where patrons in a New York City gay bar rose up and kicked the shit out of the NYC police. The patrons were tired of being targeted for abuse by the cops...

The show talked about how in Canada there was movement to decriminalize homosexual acts. He was shocked to learn that in the United States homosexuality was considered a mental illness (That would not change until 1974!).

The gist of the panel discussion revealed a new movement was beginning. A push for equal rights for homosexuals.... Or "gays" as they preferred to be called.

Eric didn't sleep much after hearing that show. It had chewed on his mind for days.

"'Gay?' 'Homosexual?' 'Mentally ill?' I feel fine!' he kept telling himself, "And there's no way Marky is fucking nuts!"

It was time. Eric had gone to the mat against his Father for one reason and one reason only. He wanted to end the pretense that he and Marky went through every day. He had NO plan other than that. At least for now. If he was wrong and Marky told him to get lost, Eric knew he would be crushed.

The naive, shy little Missouri Protestant boy took the biggest step of his life....

His last comment to Marky had captured the young teen's attention. Marky's eyes bored into Eric's with a knowledge and depth that seemed to belie his youthful fifteen years of life.

Eric cleared his throat.

"Uh... Marky.... Do you know what 'gay' means?" he asked.

Marky seemed to reflect for a minute.

"You mean like being happy?" he replied.

Eric WAS happy. Thrilled. He was almost there.....But it could all end in a second.

"No," Eric said slowly.

Marky's eyes seemed to beckon to Eric.

"Being 'gay' is like... When one boy likes another!' he explained.

"You mean like best friends" Like us?" the young teen answered.

"No!" Eric said softly, "More like this.....!"

Eric leaned slowly foreword. Looking at Marky's eyes and his face, he could sense that....

Their lips touched. Eric reached out and embraced his young friend. Both boys made little squeaking sounds. Eric pulled Marky close. They embraced and held each other tightly.

Eric could smell Marky's boy essence. Marky was likewise in heaven. He had waited for his older friend to do something like this for months! Now it was finally happening!

The two boys finally "came up for air." Eric pulled back and looked.... with apprehension... at his friend.

Marky smiled.

Eric felt relieved.

"I did it all for you!" he said softly, "Because you're the first boy I ever loved!"

Marky started to cry.

"Ohhh Eric..... I've wanted you ... us ... to do something like this for so long.... I....I!!!!" he sobbed, "I am so happy..... Can... Does.... Can I be 'gay' by being happy and loving just one boy????"

Eric was crying and laughing at the same time as he nodded "Yes!!!"

"You're so... Oh Eric... I don't know what... How to say....!" Marky cried.

"Shhhh! Then don't! Just hold me!" Eric said softly.

Marky pulled back and gazed into Eric's piercing green eyes.

"But what if... I don't know very much about boy things... Like what we're supposed to do!" he said.

Eric could sense insecurity in his young friend's voice.

"So we'll learn. Together!" he said softly.

"But what if I mess up!' Marky replied, "make mistakes?"

Eric laughed, "Well then we'll have to try again. Until you get it right. Practice makes perfect, you know!"

Marky's eyes widened.

"That's why I thought you might .... Well.... We have a whole house and the weekend together .....alone!" Eric laughed.

"Oh!" Marky replied.

Then the meaning sank in.

"OH!!!!" he chirped, "OH WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Will you teach me?" Marky asked.

"We'll teach each other!" Eric replied.

Marky and Eric watched the sun dip below the horizon. Rising, Eric reached down and helped his friend, his BOYFRIEND, his future LOVER, stand up. They held hands together while walking towards Eric's white Tempest.

Eric had no idea what he had managed to accomplish. Likewise, he would never know the entirety of his almost superhuman efforts.

Driven solely by love, Eric had never given up on, or forgotten his friend and, subsequently, another chance at life had been given to Mark Greene. In reality, two lives were saved and as a result, a whole new time line was waiting to be written.

You can choose ....
Where you live
Where you go to school
Where you work
You don't choose who you fall in love with....
When love comes, It can come so quickly, or softly, or so unexpectedly.
Don't let it pass you by.

azstoryguy@gmail.com

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