Trials and Tribulations
Joey and I slid into Mr. Banks' truck for the ride home from the hospital. Joey got in the front seat, and I in the back. It wasn't unusual for Uncle Steve to fill in when dad had something else going on.
For as long as I can remember, I've called Roger's dad Uncle Steve and his mom Aunt Alice. However, just as I had adopted the Banks, Roger called my dad Uncle Sam. I used to laugh at dad being called that when I found out that the government was called Uncle Sam as well, but I grew out of it. Now, I don't think about it much when Roger calls him that, except, here I'm thinking about it now. I guess, I'm thinking about anything else I can, because I'm nervous about the upcoming talk Joey and I are going to have when we're alone.
I really like Joey. Okay, maybe I more than like him but I'm just not sure what we are, or where we're going. This had me more than confused, and I'm not sure what I want at the moment. Two days ago I was worried about not being outed myself, and now here is Joey. How far am I willing to go? How does he feel? Where does he want this to go? How far is he willing to go? What kind of a relationship could we have in a place like Pine Hills, if we wanted one? It helps that my dad is supportive. But how far will he go in his support? I know how people can be around here. Nurse Nancy surprised me, my dad did too, but they had to be the exceptions to the rule, didn't they?
I was so lost in my thoughts that Uncle Steve had to keep calling my name. I found him watching me in the rear view mirror and blushed. I felt awkward, being so wrapped up in my thoughts, and him watching me.
"Andy, your dad and the others have gone down to the court house to do all the paperwork. Once I drop you two off, I'm heading down there too." He then turned to Joey, who sat in the passenger seat of the Dodge Ram 3500. Uncle Steve wanted to make sure Joey feel at ease with everything that happened today. "Joey, as I told you back at the hospital, I want you to make yourself at home. This will be your home for as long as needed. Alice is home and waiting for you two, along with Roger. Roger knows what's going on, and he's glad to have you with us, too."
"Thank you for the ride home Uncle Steve, we'd been bored sitting around Dad's office." I said.
He glanced back at me in the mirror, and I could tell he was smiling, just from the look in his eyes.
"When you boys get in the house, grab Roger, and take a look at the spare bedroom. Decide what needs to be done to make it feel more like it belongs to you, Joey; after all, it is going to be your room." Uncle Steve paused, and his voice became stern, as he continued, "We'll go by your house later Joey. That way we can pick up your clothes, school books, computer, and anything else that is yours." I could tell from Uncle Steve's voice that he wasn't thrilled with Joey's parents either.
He pulled into the driveway of his home and turned to look at us, "Any questions?" he asked, looking back and forth between us.
"No Sir." We both answered at the same time.
"Okay, off with the both of you. I'll be back before too long." He paused a second, putting a hand on Joey's shoulder, "Joey, I meant it when I said I want you to feel like it's your room. Whatever we need to do for you to feel comfortable here, we'll do what we can."
"Thank you, Mr. Banks." Joey's voice was cracking with the emotions he was feeling. I could even see tears in his eyes. "Everything you guys are doing for me means more than I could ever explain with words." He quickly unfastened his seatbelt, leaned over the console, and hugged Uncle Steve.
Uncle Steve patted him on the back, "I told you back at the hospital, you don't have to call me Mr. Banks. You can call me Steve, or even Uncle Steve, like Andy does, if you want. Okay?"
"Yes, sir... uh… Uncle Steve." Joey said with a smile, as he sat back in his seat, trying out the name for the first time. We both laughed and got out of the truck. I grabbed the bag of stuff Nurse Nancy gave him for dressing his injuries and looked at him after we closed the doors. He was looking a little shy, and unsure, again.
"Come on. Let's find Roger, cuz." I smiled, and I wrapped an arm around his shoulders. A grin lit up Joey's face and his eyes sparkled as he looked at me.
"Okay." Joey's smile faded, and his face took on that worried look again. "I'm not going to be a drag on Roger's social life, am I?" Joey walked slowly, looked down at the sidewalk, and somewhat afraid, towards the front porch.
"Why don't you ask me?" Roger was standing at the front door, with a huge smile on his face. We had been so wrapped up in our conversation that his comment caused us to look up at him. He walked out and threw his arms around both of our shoulders, pulling us into a three-way hug. "Just how could you be more of a drag on my social life than Andy already is?" Laughing, he pulled us both inside.
After stepping into the foyer, and stopping to take off our shoes, I turned to Roger who was already bare footed. "Roger, your father asked that we show Joey the guest room. He wants to know what needs to be done to make it into Joey's room."
"No problem my man, it's this way Joey." Turning to Joey, and taking him by the arm, he led him down the hallway. "On the right is the living room, stairs lead up to bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and on the left as you can see, is the dining room." Roger gave him a brief layout of the house as we went. "This next door here," Roger opened the door, with a smile like a realtor. "Is the den, family room or TV room, whatever you wanna call it? There's also a door, back there on the right that goes back into the living room. The door to the left, across the hall, is the main bathroom on the first floor." Walking Joey on down the hall, "This room here, on the right is Dad's office, and the room on the left here, will be your room." He said opening the door to Joey's new bedroom.
I knew the room well. It was where I crashed whenever I had to stay over with Roger, during my dark days, after my mom died. There were times I couldn't be around anyone; and the Banks, even Roger, understood my need to be alone when I stayed over, while my dad was away at some conference. Don't get me wrong though, I slept in Roger's room most of the time when I spent the night here.
"This is cool. I've never had a room like this before." Joey stood and looked around the bedroom quickly. I could tell Joey was surprised at the space in here. I watched as Joey looked at the bed, the open closet, and paused at the window. He backed up; staring out into the yard, his eyes grew larger. "Wow! You have a swimming pool, too?"
"Nope, I don't have a swimming pool." Roger smiled widely, and then pointed back and forth at Joey and himself, as he continued. "We do. But, Andy does as well. His is a little bigger." I loved how Roger was making Joey feel at home. I knew Roger was an awesome friend to me, but he was going all out, turning on the charm and wrapping Joey in the welcome mat.
We spent the next forty-five minutes taking down pictures, moving the bed and night stands where Joey wanted them, and moving the dresser and chest so he could watch the TV on top of the chest. As we were finishing up, Aunt Alice came in, looking like she had been outside working in her flower bed.
"Roger, I'm disappointed in you. Why didn't you tell me Joey and Andy had arrived?" She stood just inside the doorway with a smile, obviously, not really mad at Roger, but playfully wagging her finger at him. Then she turned to Joey, reaching out her hand to him. "Hello Joey, I'm Alice."
Joey smiled, took her hand and shook it, "Hi Alice, thank you so much for giving me a place to stay."
"Oh, my dear boy, you are welcome," she pulled him into a hug. There were tears in both their eyes as they hugged. "Are you getting the room the way you want it?"
"Yes, ma'am. I've never had a room this big before." Joey's voice had taken on that shy tone again as they stepped apart.
"Do you have a personal computer?"
Joey looked down at his shoes, like the answer was written on them. "No Ma'am. Dad always said I never needed one."
Aunt Alice put a hand on top of each of his shoulders and waited for him to look up at her. "Joey, I know you need one for school work. So, after we get you settled in here, either tonight, or tomorrow after school, we'll go by Wal-Mart or check online about ordering you one. We also need to get a desk for it. That's why I asked if you had a personal computer." The look on Joey's face was one of shock and surprise. Alice just smiled at Joey, reassuring him that everything she said would come to pass.
My heart was busting with pride with how the Banks family were treating Joey. I was starting to feel like, maybe, being from a small town wasn't so bad after all. I mean here was a family taking in a complete stranger and making him feel like a part of that family.
"Hey, I have an idea," I started, getting everyone's attention. "I have a lot of posters I'm not using, and an old stereo out in the garage you can have; to add a little personal touch, if you want, at least until you get your own, Joey."
"That's awesome, Andy! Can we go look now?" Joey was almost bouncing as he turned to Aunt Alice.
"Sure, you boys go do what you need to do, and watch for Steve." She smiled as we rushed past her.
Stopping long enough to get our shoes on, we raced over to my house. I led us around to the garage door in the back, unlocked it, and walked in, turning on the lights. Walking over to where I had my old stereo stored, I pointed to it.
"Joey, it's not an off the hook stereo, but it has a CD player, FM, and AM radio player as well. It's all yours if you want it."
"Thanks, Andy. I don't even have any CD's, but having a radio will be sweet." Joey stood there looking thankful.
The more I learned about him, the more I felt for him. I mean, the stuff I took for granted, Joey had never even had. I felt guilty, I had two stereos, one I had stored away and wasn't using. And from the sound of it, Joey didn't have CDs, never mind a radio system.
"Andy, you guys head up and look for posters while I'll take the stereo and put it in Joey's room. He can decide later where he wants it." Roger got right to work as he picked up one of the old Bose speakers and started towards the door.
"Wait, I'll open up the main door for you," I said, and headed over to the door opener, pushing the button, "and when you get done, we'll be up in my room."
He nodded. Joey and I headed up to my room. Once we got there, I went to my closet and dragged out an old florescent light box filled with posters I had saved over the years. Joey had taken a seat on my bed watching me drag it over.
I noticed Joey's beautiful smile and the way it seemed to be on display just for ME. His deep blue eyes captivated me, and I found myself looking from one, to the other, wanting to capture every speck and tone in them. Eventually, I noticed he seemed to be watching me just as closely, and I was leaning ever closer to him. Joey was just breath taking, and I found I was holding my breath, afraid the wrong move would end this moment. Nervous, I licked my lips to moisten them, and suddenly his lips touched mine. I dropped the box I'd been holding, and let my hands slide up his arms to his shoulders, then his neck, until I held his face in my hands. My tongue caressed his lips until he parted them, allowing me to enter. Our tongues danced and carefully explored each other's mouths. I was in heaven. Then his hands moved to my back and pulled me over on top of him. Now, Joey was lying back on the bed and I lay across him.
I could feel him getting as excited as I was, with our dicks rubbing against each other. I moved my hands up, running my fingers through his mop of blond hair, as our kiss became more passionate. I started rocking, causing our dicks to rub harder together.
Here I was, with the most beautiful boy in the world, on my bed, passionately making out with me; and the best part was, he seemed as into me, as I was into him. I'd hit the lottery. I was quickly pulled from those thoughts as Joey pushed his hands down inside the back of my jeans, cupping my bubble butt cheeks, and was squeezing them! I swear to God, I almost came right then and there. To this day, I have no idea where I found the will power to hold off from filling my jeans with evidence that would be hard to hide.
I must have broken the kiss. For the next thing I knew, Joey was looking at me with a scared expression.
"I'm so sorry Andy." He said with a shaky voice.
"What for Joey? You almost made me cum in my pants." I started giggle like a little kid. Now, I wish I could say I didn't, but color me silly, for I had. I looked him square in the eyes. I wanted him to know without a doubt, I meant my next words to him. "Joseph Matthew Adams, you rock my world!"
He smiled and moved his head up and gave me a quick kiss. He then laid back, looking up at me with a goofy smile on his face, "You're my knight in shining armor. I've dreamt of you so many nights. Andy, you're my dream come to life." His hands were caressing my back as he spoke and I laid my head down on his chest. I could hear and feel his excitement in his rapid heartbeat. "I had almost given up on finding you." I could hear his soft voice, filled with the pain he had been through, as he continued talking. "But, I believe my faith, brought us together. My father has twisted his faith into something evil."
His heart rate was slowing down and he was speaking with more confidence. "I prayed and prayed to God, asking him if I was as evil as my earthly father told me I was for wanting to be with other boys. One night, a couple of weeks ago, as I was praying, I heard a small, but clear voice saying, 'God is love'. I realized I didn't wake up one day and decide to be this way; so if God made me gay, and God is love, then God was cool with me being gay."
I lifted my head, turned, and looked up into his face. He smiled down at me, "Andy, you're the hottest guy I've ever met and I'm starting to think we have feelings for each other."
I turned on my million watt smile. Joey made me feel so special, and I just wanted him to feel the same way.
"I think that's safe to say." I rose up and kissed the tip of his nose, causing him to giggle. Hey! I made him giggle, too.
"Where do we go from here?" Joey's voice had turned serious.
"Honestly, I don't know. I've never dated anyone before, boy or girl. I'm not even sure what we are doing. But, I know I want to be with you every second of the day. I know I want to be there for you when you need me. I know I want to take all the pain out of your life and bring nothing but joy and happiness into it. I know I want to share everything I have with you. I know I want to be in your life anyway you allow me. I know I'd walk through hell in gasoline underwear, if it would help you." Joey giggled at that. "What does all that mean? I don't know if I can put it into words right now."
I laid my head back on his chest and he started running his fingers through my hair. Looking at him, I continued, "I know you have been through a lot already, and even though things are getting better for you, there's still more you are going to have to deal with. You may, or may not, have to testify in court about what your dad did to you, and why. I don't know if you're used to small towns or not, but word will get around about what's happening." I felt the tension in his body, so I knew he was getting nervous about the stuff we were talking about. "But Joey, I'll be there with you every step of the way. I promise."
Hugging his chest, I could feel tears forming in my eyes from holding back what I deeply wanted to tell him, but was afraid to add to his already heavy load. I wanted to ask him to be my boyfriend, but what did I know about being a boyfriend, never mind having one. And what of the promise I made to myself just three days ago, to hide my secret? Well, I guess I blew that with my dad, and with Joey, too; but was I ready to out myself to this small backward hick town? Both dad and Nurse Nancy had warned me to be careful. Now, I was the one feeling sick to my stomach with worry. Almost, as if, he was reading my thoughts, Joey placed a finger under my chin and raised me up to look him in the eyes.
"Andy, with you standing with me, I can go through anything. But, I understand that you have lived here all your life. Everyone knows you. I don't want to cause you any problems. You'll be better off if you acted like we weren't friends. You already have that guy you hit mad at you, because of me, and now I've dragged Roger into my drama. You all have done more than I deserve." His words were laced with so much pain. Joey sighed, and I could see fresh tears starting to fall.
It was at that moment, I decided I didn't give a damn what anyone else in the world thought about how I felt for him. He was more important to me than all the hell this town could muster and throw at me. There was no way I was going to abandon him to the assholes of Pine Hills. We would sink or swim as a team. Joey and Andy would stand together, through anything and everything, forever; reminding me of the words to Chasing Cars.
All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your prefect eyes
They're all I can see
I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things
Will never change for us at all
"Joseph Matthew Adams!" Excited over my decision, I wanted to let the world know how I felt; but I needed to start with Joey. I rose up on my elbows, with our faces only six inches apart. Tenderly I wiped his tears, and looked him in the eyes as I asked, "Will you be my boyfriend?"
Throwing his arms around my neck, he nearly yelled his answer to me. "Yes, Andy, oh my God, yes!" Then he sealed it with a kiss that had me seeing stars and fireworks again. Breaking our kiss to catch our breath, after what seemed like a lifetime, and yet like only a nanosecond, I rolled over, off of him, and to his left, as my right hand found his left; I interlaced our fingers. While up to now it had been fun, I was also worried about all his injuries. The last thing I wanted to do right now was hurt him.
I squeeze his hand, but felt there were things I still needed to let him know.
"Joey, there's things I haven't told you yet, but I want to." We were laying side by side, both of us looking up at the ceiling, holding hands. I was gathering my thoughts, as I tried to tell him my family history, while holding back the emotions the memories brought me. "My great, great, grandfather, on my mother's side, moved here, in the late eighteen hundreds; when, there were very few people around here. He ended up owning a lot of land, land where they found a lot of coal. The land passed down from father to son, until after my grandfather was born, Jeremiah Webb. Jeremiah, and my grandmother, Ethel, only had one child, my mother, Ellen Webb. By the time my grandfather gained control over the Webb's holdings, the price of coal sky rocketed to over a hundred dollars a ton during the Middle East oil embargo against us in the seventies." I looked at him to see if he was still with me, he looked over and smiled.
"He made millions off of it," I continued, "and then later, in the eighties, he sold most of the mineral rights to big coal companies like Bethlehem Steel, making millions more. One night coming home from eating out, they were hit and killed by a coal truck, being driven by a sleepy driver, that had been working way too many hours for a company that had, ironically, bought some coal from my grandfather." It wasn't easy to talk about the things my family owned, never mind my mother's family. I mentally prepared myself to just go on. "I was nine years old at the time. But I was old enough to remember them both very well. He used to take me fishing with him all the time before I started school, and on weekends after I had. I really loved him and looked forward to spending time with him. God Joey, I really miss him still." I was starting to tear up.
"Mom, being the only heir, inherited everything he had, including the huge insurance settlement from the accident. Most people here didn't know a lot about the money grandpa had accumulated, or the settlement amount of the accident. Mom and Dad never changed how they lived or how they treated me." I stopped and swallowed. My mouth felt dry. I was never comfortable talking about money and now I had to tell Joey about the money mom had. "Mom never changed how my grandfather's will was set up, and it left me next in line to inherit the estate. Dad didn't care about the money. He was doing what he loved, and had, by then, been elected Circuit Court Judge." It wasn't any easier to talk about my grandparents or my mother, no matter how much time had passed.
"About three years, after my grandparents were killed, when I was twelve years old, my mom was diagnosed with cancer." Tears were flowing down the sides of my face now, and I closed my eyes, picturing my mom before she got sick from the cancer and chemo. "She went so fast. In a way, I'm glad she did so she wouldn't have months and months of pain. But at times, I was selfish and didn't wanna let go."
Joey squeezed my hand, letting me know he was there for me, and it give me some strength to continue. "She was gone before a year was up." I used my free hand to wipe away the tears as all the pain came flooding back. "It took me a couple of years before I was able to be more like my old self again. I kinda shut everyone out, while I tried to deal with the pain. Dad was always there for me though, no matter what, but mom had been my best friend. I had thought losing grandpa and grandma was bad, but losing her about killed me. I even stopped playing baseball for a year. Dad, Uncle Steve, Aunt Alice, and Roger got real worried about me. They talked me into seeing a shrink and I went to him for about a year. I ended up liking him, and he helped me get out of the depression I got into."
Turning to face him, and squeezing his hand, I finished telling Joey my story, "I told you all of that so you'd understand, it's not dad that's rich; it's me. I normally don't tell anyone, or talk about it much, especially someone I just met, but you're special. I can feel it, and I know it; besides, you're my boyfriend." When I leaned over, and kissed his cheek, I could see he had been crying with me and could taste his tears. "Just like wanting to be with you, a boy, doesn't change who I am, neither does the money."
Joey spoke up for the first time since I started. He kept holding my hand, and there was concern in his voice, "Who all knows?"
"There are not many that know everything." I took a moment and thought about it. "Roger and his family, and a few others, like lawyers, know it all; but the rest that think they know, only know part of it. I never make a big deal about it, and even if I wanted to, dad wouldn't let me. It's good to know I don't have to worry about money for college and stuff like that. Most of the time, I don't even think about it. I hope it don't make a difference with you."
"Heck no. You could be dirt poor, like me, or as rich as Bill Gates; it's you, not your money, I want to get to know and be with. I grew up in Williamson, West Virginia. Actually, it's not too far from here. You've heard of the Hatfield and McCoy feud?"
"Yeah, everyone has, I guess."
"The Hatfields were from where I was born and the McCoys lived across the Big Sandy River, in Kentucky. Anyway, Williamson isn't much bigger than Pine Hills, maybe a thousand more people. We always lived in the houses the church had for their pastors. Until we moved here, we had lived in the same house after I was born." Joey paused, after clearing his throat, he continued, "I was never allowed to have real friends. No one I could spend the night with or them with me. Dad felt it would be showing favoritism if I spent time with one child, or another, as a friend. Even when Mom did something it was only with a whole group of women from the church. So, I went to school, came home, did my chores, finished my homework, showered and went to bed. During the summer, I was allowed to play little league baseball. But, until Coach Boland, one of my parents drove me to and from practices and games. A lot of the time, if the game was on a Wednesday night, I had to miss to attend church. I've never had much. I still don't. You'll see that when we go to my old house later. I have, like, five sets of clothes and one set for Sundays, which was okay. I wasn't ashamed or anything. It was just what it was. I didn't really know any better; until last year, when I started high school, and some of kids noticed and began to say things. But I knew, no matter what I had to go through, or how bad it seemed, others had to go through more." Joey paused, squeezing my hand again, while looking at me to make sure he had my attention.
"Andy, I know I'm not like a lot of kids our age, maybe even you. Just because my earthly father is a jerk, and has a twisted view of the Bible and God, don't mean God isn't real and won't be there for us in times of trouble. I have no doubt he has been there for me. It was my mistake thinking he had sent Coach Boland to help me. I should have been more, umm, more patient. I want us to go slow and to be careful. I want our first time to be as special as our first kiss. I want to be able to remember our firsts for the rest of my life as fond memories, and not like the memories I have of Coach Boland."
I realized Joey was as nervous as I was with all this, maybe more so. He had been through so much, and all of it seemed painful. I just wanted him to know I wasn't going to make his life any harder. I cared too much about him already to hurt him.
"I promise you, Joey, we can take as much time as you want. This is all new to me. You're the only one with any experience at all. At least for now," I began with a smile and a wink, "I'll let you take the lead when it comes to sex."
Joey smiled, and squeezed my hand. I knew religion was a big part of who Joey was. I wanted him to realize I had my own beliefs as well.
"As for God, I believe in God, too, and that my mother is in heaven. I'm not one that goes to church regularly, but Dad and I do go. We're Presbyterian. I don't know all the differences between our church and yours, but I believe like you do when you said 'God is love'." I pulled his hand to my lips and kissed it. "We'll take our time and not rush into anything. We'll be careful when we aren't alone. And we won't tell anyone about us being boyfriends that we both don't agree on telling; but I'm not going to act like I don't know you and that I am not your friend."
He nodded, and smiled, as he rolled over on top of me gave me another hot freaking kiss. I love this!
As if this day couldn't be anything but one huge Déjà vu, we both heard someone clearing their throat.
"What's going on here?" The voice scared the crap out of us both. Joey quickly rolled off of me, and we both looked towards where the voice had come from. Roger was standing at the doorway staring at us, opened mouthed, while we were still holding hands. It seemed that us being caught together was the order of the day.
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