Red Cherries

by Benjamin J. Conner

Chapter 3 "Being close to Josh"

The next day we met at their house again and Josh introduced me to his mother.

"Mom, this is Sam."

"Hi Ms. Nolan."

"Hi Sam. I remember you from last year. You've grown."

"Yeah, thanks Ma-am."

"What are you two up to?" she asked looking at her son.

"Nothing special, just skateboarding."

"Wonderful. Sam, it was very generous of you to give your old skateboard to Josh."

It was obvious that she wasn't happy about it, so I tried to be as polite as possible.

"It was nothing Ms. Nolan, I don't use it anymore and now I've got a new one. I'm sorry that I didn't ask before and hope it was ok?"

"Yes it was, especially now you've explained. You're a nice young man. When will you both be back?" she asked.

"I don't know....for dinner?" Josh answered.

"What about lunch? It's Sunday and I thought we could spend the time together."

"Can Sam come over for lunch?"

"Of course he can. Lunch will be ready by 1 o'clock."

"Thank you Ms. Nolan."

"You can call me Marie if you want. Do you like pizza, Sam?"

"Pizza is great, I love it."

"Good, so you two be back by 12:30."

"Yes mom, see you later!" Josh said as we both headed for the door.

"One moment! Here, take a sandwich and be careful!" she said as she handed it to the smaller boy and kissed him on his cheek, which he didn't seem to like in front of his friend.

"Bye Ms. Nolan.....Marie..."

Josh's mom seemed to be a little bit reserved regarding me but perhaps it was only because he never had a real friend - just like me.

When I remember that time, Josh and I had much fun being together along the days; most time we would be around our house or in the garden, skateboard in our driveway or out on the streets. Sometimes we would sit down on our boards to relax and talk to each other. Josh was a really nice person. He was always interested in what I thought or felt about this or that; what my favorite color and food was or which music I liked. We both started to care for the other and for some reason grew together in a very short time.

When you ask me today, I still can't say how this happened, but there was a bond between us from the very first moment we met each other this summer. I felt good having him around and he did feel the same. When we were apart, we both looked forward to the next day to be together again.

Back to where I was; the morning went by. The pizza Ms. Nolan prepared was excellent and the three of us gobbled it down in no time.

Afterwards we lounged in Josh's room. It was a little room with only one window to the back of the house; the sun was shining and warmed us, while we lay on his bed next to each other full from our lunch.

His bed wasn't nearly as wide as mine and he had no TV in his room. But in all its Spareness it was neatly arranged. Josh had some truck posters on his walls. The bigest one had a gleaming golden tractor unit on it with our company logo on either side of the driver's cab.

"Was that your dad's truck?"

"Yeah, it was."

"It looks awesome. Where was the picture taken?"

"I've no idea, but I guess it's somewhere around Las Vegas."

"Cool.....do you miss your dad?"

He paused for some time, before he answered.

"Yes......every day."

"How was he?"

"I don't wanna talk about him."

I turned to the left, angled my left arm and supported my head looking at Joshua. His eyes slowly filled with tears but he had a strained expression on his face and stared at the ceiling.

When a tear left a wet trail on his right cheek, I felt sorry about asking him about his dad but wasn't able to undo the damage. I tried to cheer him up a bit.

"Come on, let's bike!"

"I told you, I don't have a bike."

"You can take mine and I use my dad's!"

"No, I don't want to."

"Why not, what's wrong?.....listen, I'm sorry that I asked about your dad, but please come with me."

He didn't say anything so I poked him into his ribs and he jerked with a little giggle. That was all I needed to know and started my tickle attack jumping on top of him. He wiggled, squeaked and laughed for all he was worth begging me to stop, but I wouldn't let go, because it was too much fun to see him happy again. It was my way to make him forget about his dad and get back down to earth.

"Okay okay, I'm coming" he said exhausted.

I still had a firm grip on his wrists while he was pinned down looking into my eyes.

"What are you doing?" Josh asked.

"Nothing, looking at you."

"And?"

His chest went up and down and I started to feel that tingling inside of me again. His blue eyes and the perfectly drawn face really were an eyecatcher. His soft skin I could feel with my hands made me nervous.

I let go of him and jumped off the bed.

"Come on, let's go and get the bikes, I know a great place to go to by the river.

Josh was allowed to stay out until 7 pm as long as we both were together. Sad enough, that time went by so quickly. We played around in the woods and dipped our feet into the river enjoying the warm summer day and the refreshing water.

I know this sounds strange but whenever possible I watched Josh. We both were lying in the green grass nearby the little forest close to our house. Josh's eyes were closed. Rays of sun made it's way through the trees and lit up his profile which I tried to draw on a white paper in my mind. Light and shadows were perfectly balanced. His fluffy blond hair and the little nose which was pointing towards the sky had become very familiar to me. Sometimes I got lost in a day dream while I observed him doing nothing, but not this day; we had to leave shortly.


"Hey my love." Marie greeted her son back home.

"Hi mom."

"How was your day?"

"Great, it's soo cool to have a friend."

"Yes I can see that in your face. You haven't been so happy for a long time now. And you look so cute when you smile."

"Mo-oom!"

"What? Am I not allowed to say that you are cute to me?"

"Ok you are, but only when we are alone!"

"I promise. What did you do?"

"Many things - It's so much fun when Sam and I are together."

"You really like Sam, don't you?"

"Yes I do."

"That's good. Now come here I need a bear hug."

They both cuddled up for the evening and spent the time together watching TV. Now and then Marie stroked through Josh's hair, before he fell asleep on the couch, covered with a woolen blanket.


During the next couple of days we met every morning and spent our time together until evening. Marie came over to our house on Tuesday evening to introduce herself to my parents. I don't know what they talked about, but from this day on Josh would stay at our house for lunch during the week and my mom happily served us with marvellous food.

We all had a great time and my mother had accepted him as a family member in so many ways. My friend opened up and felt free around our house. Marie also changed - she was really nice to me whenever I met her. Everything was perfect.

Josh and I were enjoying the others company very much. Even my dad got to know him and thought he was a very polite and smart kid though he acted a little shy around him at first.

Thursday morning, my new best friend was at our house before I got up, for the first time. Usually I would pick him up at their house and we would start from there.


"Good morning Ms. Duncan."

"Morning Josh. How are you?"

"I'm fine thanks; is Sam at home?"

"Yes he is, but I'm afraid he is still sleeping."

"Wow, it's nearly nine o'clock."

"Come in!" she welcomely invited the boy who followed my mom to the kitchen after silently closing the door. She was already preparing lunch.

"Can I help you?" Josh asked.

"That's very nice of you, but you don't need to."

"I like to help." Josh said as he stood on the other side of the kitchen counter with an eager expression on his face.

"What if you go upstairs and wake my little sleepy head while I prepare some hot chocolate for the both of you."

"Yeah that sounds great, thank you Ms. Duncan."

Josh looked into her eyes and paused for a moment.

"Sam has the same eyes as you."

"I take that as a compliment." she said smiling.

"Yep" he said before turning around, dropping his shoes in the hallway and walking upstairs in a slow manner. He tried to avoid any loud steps.

'He's soo sweet' she thought and returned to her hot chocolate duty.

He opened the door to my room and silently closed it behind him. Before approaching the bed, he took a brush from the study desk in the first room. I was snooring weakly and my upper body was exposed.

Josh prepared for his little tickle attack, bent over and softly brushed over my nose with a sheepish grin on his face.

I of course had no idea and slowly woke up feeling something on my nose. You know these kind of situations when your senses open up to the environment, but you still are in some kind of trance. After scratching my nose I put my hand back under the blanket again, checking if everything was still there. As most boys, I liked to have my hands down in my boxers - it was warm and felt good.

A minute later I felt a tickle on my chest and it seemed to move. I thought it was a fly or so. Again my hand was needed; I waved it away, scratched myself and tried to sleep on.

A little giggle was heard, but I wasn't sure, so I opened my eyes and saw Josh who was about to come closer with a brush in his hand. He nearly doubled over when he saw me waking up.

"Awww come here you little twerp...I'll get you for this!" I said jumping out of my bed.

Josh had his eyes wide open as he saw me coming, screamed and tried to get away from me, but only made it a few inches. I grasped that little jerk and pushed him backwards on my seat cushion before my hands went for any spot on his body where he might be ticklish.

We both laughed out loud - ok he was more squeaking and yelling at me to stop but he deserved it.

"STOP IT, PLEASE! I can't breathe...." he begged.

I let go of him and got up reaching him my hand. He had a huge grin on his face and again started to laugh. For me it was a clear sign, that he fooled me with that I-can't-breathe-thing and I jumped him right again. This time he struggled and tried to push me away from him. I knew that I was stronger, but gave in and let myself fall over backwards. Josh immediately pinned me down and had his knees on my arms, which hurt a little, but I didn't show it.

He must have noticed that it hurt me and skidded down my body a little to let my arms free but I didn't move them. With his hands he slowly indicated that he was going for my ribs to tickle me and I got ready to fight him, but he only put his palms on my bare chest.

"What're you doing?"

"I'm feeling your heartbeat.....it's fast."

"You're crazy!" I said with a meek voice but still didn't move. I was enjoying it in some ways.

"And you're calming down, feel it?"

"Yeah, how did you do that?"

"I learned that from my mum. When I get excited she puts one or both hands on my chest and thinks of a slow heartbeat."

Josh's eyes were gleaming as he was staring at me.

"Come on, let me get some clothes on and then we're outta here!"

"Your mom awaits us with hot chocolate!"

"Nice one!"

I dropped my boxers and looked over to Josh who watched me. After I put on a fresh pair of them, a shirt, shorts and some socks we went downstairs, where I kissed my mom good morning.

"How did you sleep?"

"Excellent until this jerk here came in and tickled me with a brush."

"Hey, watch your language!"

"Sorry mom, it was meant to be funny."

Josh leaned in and whispered

"Ahh I see, you can curse as much as you want uh?"

We smiled at eachother and I stuck out my tongue towards him before I took a deep sip from my mug.

"Come on we can sit down on the terrace. Mom, can we have a sandwich?"

"Magic word?"

"Please, mom?"

"Sure you can. You go out I'll bring it to you."

When I opened the door to our terrace I looked up and the sun hit me directly in my eyes.

"Fuck, I'm blind."

"Really?" Josh said with a worried tone in his voice.

"No, of course not, what are we going to do today?" I asked expanding the sunshade to provide us with some shadow.

"I saw your drawings on your desk. They're really cool."

"You think so?"

"Yeah, and I wondered if you can show me how to draw?"

"Sure, I can do that, but you have to practice a lot!"

"I will."

We both looked out on the garden. It was really huge compared to many other's. Some trees and bushes; green grass everywhere with a low white fence around it. In the middle there was a football and a goal waiting for someone to use them.

"Have you ever been fishing?"

"No, my dad always wanted to do that with me."

"What if we go down to the river and try to catch some fish?"

"What are we doing with it afterwards?"

"Nothing, throw it back in."

"Then why catch it?"

"It's fun, believe me. You'll see."

"Here you go gentlemen." my mother said as she put a plate with two cheese and bacon sandwiches in front of us which we happily ate.

"Thanks mom."

"Thank you Ms. Duncan."

Another half hour of morning chill out later we carried the tableware back into the kitchen and placed it on the kitchen counter.

"We're going to the river fishing."

"Didn't you forget anything?"

"Oh yeah, it was great mom, thank you."

She looked to the plate and our mugs with a simple "Dishwasher!"

With a deep sigh, I picked up our stuff again and placed it to where my mom wanted it, before we left the house and grabbed my fishing equipment.

"Wait, I've to get some bait, put all this stuff in the backpack there, be right back."

"Mom, can I have some bread we can use as bait."

"Sure and here take the water bottle with you. Don't forget to drink - it's very hot. And here is some sun blocker - use it!"

"Ok thanks, see you later!"

Of course we never used the sun blocker no matter how often my mom reminded us about using it, but I never got a sunburn.

We wandered down the street packed with lots of things we could use for catching the enemy. Josh and I talked about this and that, school and other kids around we could possibly both know. But there was no one.

"You ever had a girl-friend?" Josh asked.

"No, you?"

"No, I don't like girls, they are all giggling around, whispering and making fun of me."

I stopped right away for his unexpected statement.

"You mean you are gay?"

"No, I meant I don't like the girls at school."

"Me neither" was my short answer.

We both didn't say a word anymore until we reached the river. I guess we had to think about what was just said.

After we found an exellent place by the jetty we unpacked our things and got rid of our shoes, socks and shirts. I wasn't very good at fishing but I knew the basic stuff and that was enough for us to catch some fish - at least I thought.

We decoyed the fish with some bread and I prepared some bait balls from the bread to put on the fish hooks.

Showing Josh how to cast the fishing rod was really funny. He never got to cast it farther than ten feet but that didn't matter since the river wasn't that wide.

We sat down on the wooden jetty and held the fishing rod between our legs.

"Mine is longer" I said holding the rod with both hands.

Josh blushed and wiggled with it "Not much."

"I know, I saw it."

"And I saw your's." he said folowed by a moment of silence.

"Did you ever measure it?"

"No, did you?"

"Yeah."

"How long is it?"

"HEY I got one" I said jumping up and slowly raising my rod to let go afterwards and wind up some of the line.

"Get it!" Josh shouted and also jumped up coming closer to me.

I fought for about a minute and the fish was really hard to get closer to the jetty. While I tried to handle that little bugger down there I suddenly heard that unwanted *BING* and the line broke.

"FUCK! You little twat, come back here and surrender!"

"It's only a fish, and you would have thrown him back anyway - you just cut the corner a bit."

I softly pushed Josh for his comment and looked out on the river. He pushed me back a little harder. So did I and with his next push I stumbled and fell into the water. We both were laughing loud as he jumped in and joined me.

We splashed around and dunked each other more than once. I tried to dive and find him in the dark water, but wasn't able to see anthing down there.

"No wonder why the fishes don't bite - you can't see your hand in front of your eyes down there. Come on, lets get dry."

We dropped in the green uncut grass and stretched out.

"That was fun" Josh said.

"Yeah it was, I wonder if I ever see my float again."

"Perhaps for dinner - that'd be awesome."

Once again our laughter resounded in the forrest close to the river where normally nothing was heard but the bubbling water and some singing birds.

An hour later we both were dry and it was time for lunch, so we packed our things and left the silent place slowly walking home. Mom had prepared a delicious roast beef, which we both liked very much.

To follow our routine, we relaxed for some time afterwards enjoying the cooler inside of the house. Being so saturated we both fell asleep but woke up an hour later.

The rest of the day I tried to teach Josh how to draw but we ended up with him sitting in front of me and me drawing his profile which I loved to see for whatever reason.

Sometimes we would sit so close to each other, that our legs touched and I used a finger to examine his profile before I drew it on paper. Josh was immaculate even if he couldn't sit still for more than five minutes.

We enjoyed each other until my best friend had to leave later that afternoon. Before dad came back from work I walked Josh home.

It was a fabulous day. We couldn't think of being apart anymore and were already planing tomorrow on our way back to the Nolan house.

Returning home, I was already looking forward to the next day. After pleasing myself as a usual boy's business I turned off the lights and softly slipped into slumber land.

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