So Cal Summer 69

by Flip McHooter

Chapter 14

"Boy, what the hell are you doing here?" This was Ace again, this time much louder, and causing the lofty, pudgy tattoo artist to look back and forth between all three of us. His face was unreadable.

"Oh, hey Dad. Hi. I didn't see you standing there. Ryan and me are… a… um… gonna go see a movie."

"Is that so? Seriously, you boys came all the way down here to this side of Pasadena just to see a movie. Exactly what movie were you planning on seeing? Midnight Cowboy? Or maybe the Jungle Book?"

Ace looked pissed, but the tattoo dude was starting to smirk.

"Um, well, actually, we were going to try and get into that theater over there," he said, pointing to the triple X-rated theater next door to the tattoo shop.

"You were, were you? Well, whaddya think about that, Sonny?" Ace said, stepping back and looking at the grinning tattoo artist.

"I think it's kinda cute, Mr. M. These here boys wanna go see some big lady parts. Looks ta me like they wanna get them some ed-u-katin."

"Unbelievable. Is that what you're doing here, Jake? You came all the way down here for that?" he asked, then turned to look at me. "And you, you look familiar. Where have I seen you before, kid?"

"I live next door to Jake. I'm Ryan." Thinking fast I added, "This was my idea. Don't get mad a Jake. He just wanted to see the pussy…I mean, the movie too, and he came with me to keep me company because I didn't want to come down here all by myself."

"Well how about that! My little boy has grown up," Ace said, starting to laugh and look over at Sonny again. Just as quickly as he started laughing he stopped dead in his tracks, turning back around to give Jake an icy stare.

"Exactly how do you think you were going to get in there, boy? You're not even close to being old enough to get in, and it's not cheap, either."

"I don't know. We just thought we'd give it a try. Like Ryan said, they probably just want to make some money so we figured they'd let us in when nobody was looking. We really didn't give it much thought."

"They're perky lil' kids, ain't they Mr. M? I'm a thinkin' they got 'em some big 'ole donkey balls."

"It appears so, Sonny, it appears so. Come with me boys. Let's go see what happens. Don't be surprised if you get booted out the door on your asses. Then you can get your butts out of here and back on home where you two belong."

We followed Ace down the sidewalk, sneaking a few glances at each other, not daring to say a word. Neither one of us wanted to go in the theater now. We should have listened to Coach Brian when he told us not to come down here. Man, were we ever stupid. What the hell were we thinking?

As we reached the front of the theater, Ace stopped for a second. He looked all around the sidewalk, making me wonder what he was searching for. He quickly marched right past the crusty old lady in the ticket booth and straight to the front door, opening it for us to go through first while he quickly pushed us inside. We stood uncomfortably in the lobby for a second or two until Ace spotted a creepy looking old guy lingering behind the candy counter.

"Wilfred, go find Mr. Jimmy and bring him here to me. Please. Now."

"Yes sir, Mr. M. On the double. I'll be back in a jiffy," he sniffed, wiping off a dust of white powder from his nose with the back of his gray-haired hand.

My mind was whirling now. How does Jake's dad know all of these strange people? And what's he doing in Pasadena? And did that old guy just sniff up a line of coke? Guess that's why they called it a candy counter.

While we were waiting for Mr. Jimmy, and because we were too scared to talk, I took the opportunity to glance around the lobby area. The place had definitely seen better days. It looked like it could have been an old vaudeville theater with the fancy doo-dads still decorating the walls and rafters. It had an enormous ornate ceiling that was beautifully painted with stars, sky and dark blue clouds. It looked like it hadn't been touched in over fifty years. Beautiful antique glass light fixtures in bright colors hung from the ceiling casting an eerie glow.

What made this look different from Disneyland, though, was all of the coming attraction posters of naked women, boobs and pussys front and center, trying to look all sexy like, making you want to come back for more. Looking down, the carpet was a filthy crimson and black palm-tree print that was loud and crunchy underfoot. The tall walls were covered in a dark red velvet fabric, and the counter was made of cheap, wine-colored plastic with silver stars. I guess all of these red colors make people get all randy and horny. Some sort of old elevator/Las Vegas music was playing softly in the background, muffling the non-stop moans and the "oh yeah's" and the "do-me's" coming from the movie playing on the other side of the massive doors.

I heard a snap and turned back around to see a very tall, extremely-skinny distinguished looking black man with a giant afro coming towards us as he slipped out from behind a red velvet curtain off to the left side. Of course, he was wearing a dark-maroon plaid suit, red shirt, and red tie.

"Mr. M, what brings you back so soon? It's always magnificent to see you again," the guy said. What a fucking suck-up.

"Jimmy, this is my son Jake and his friend. I don't remember his name, not that it matters."

"Ryan."

"Right. Anyway, they would like to watch your movie this afternoon."

"Oh, I see," he said, clasping his big hands together and pausing for dramatic effect, giving us the once-over. "Ordinarily, I'm not quite sure I could accommodate such fine upstanding young gentlemen such as these, and seeing them here standing in front of me I must stress the term young. However, if you can vouch for their upstanding virtuous qualities, I would be most honored to graciously allow them to enter into my unique establishment, free of charge, as a courtesy to you, Mr. M."

"That would be fine Jimmy, and most generous," Jake's dad said. "I don't believe that they will cause you any trouble. If they do, kick them out on their asses and let me know about it right away. I'll be in the neighborhood until tonight. Let them watch the movie and then maybe let them take a peek into the back room. But under no circumstances are they to, how should I put this, mingle about with any of the other patrons here on the premises.

"And boys," he said turning to us, "I want you out of here in an hour, no longer. Follow Jimmy's instructions completely. If you don't, I'll hear about it and be most unhappy. When you leave, go out the side exit and go straight home. I don't ever want to see you in this neighborhood again. It is not safe here downtown for children. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Dad," Jake answered.

"Yes, sir," I followed.

"Okay then. I'll see you later. I'm swamped right now, and I've got an important situation that needs my immediate attention. Jimmy, thanks for this and I owe you one. I promise you that I won't forget it."

"Nary a problem, Mr. M. I will take earnest care of these dandy, fine young gentlemen. Do not concern yourself with their well-being."

"Fine. I'll be seeing you then, fellas," Ace said, giving us both a hard stare one more time and pointing his finger at us. With that, he disappeared out the door.

"So, my fresh-faced and fledgling young friends, am I correct in my assumption that you would appreciate viewing some exquisite adult entertainment?"

"Yeah, we sure do!" Jake said, obviously glad his dad was gone. "What's playing?"

"Well actually, I've got a girlfriend and she wants to go all the way so I thought this would be a good place to see how to do it, so she doesn't think I'm a virgin," I rushed out and said way too quickly while continuing with my lie, hoping that Jake got it and wouldn't say something stupid to get us both into any more trouble. "And I didn't want to come alone, so I brought Jake with me. Can we just go in and watch a little of the movie and then we'll take off? We promise that we won't cause you any trouble."

"That sounds entirely satisfactory to me, gentleman. As this appears to be your first experience in this exotic setting, I must advise that before you cross the threshold into the auditorium, in attendance are certain patrons who may, shall we say, be quite enthusiastic by what is transpiring up on the screen. Seeing such handsome young men such as yourselves enter, they may want to sit next to you to try and engage in some rather spirited and unsavory behavior. May I suggest that you sit some distance apart from the other patrons and be attentive of your surroundings as you view my discerning cinema? Please refrain from participating with those individuals, and if need be cordially suggest that they move themselves along."

"I sorta think I understand what you're trying to say," I said. "I don't think we want to get involved in any of that kind of stuff, Mister, uh, Mister –"

"Jimmy."

"Bingo."

"What's in the back room that my dad was just talking about?" Jake asked, not paying any attention to anything that Mr. Jimmy had just told us.

"Ah, yes, that. On your exit from the auditorium, I suppose that you may want to choose to continue your enlightenment to further broaden your minds with the rather colorful and multifaceted side of human sexuality. I believe that in the numerous audiovisual compartments I have assembled in the rear of my institution are examples of some quite exceptional and extraordinary collections of rare and enthralling films representing sexual fantasies that young gentleman such as yourselves could never quite imagine and may actually appreciate viewing. Please feel free to partake in those erotic visual spectacles if you both so wish. You may find some of them quite stimulating. But please, excuse me for saying this, and as crass as this may sound, favor me by refraining from – how should I express this – pulling out your reproductive organs and manhandling them.

"Okey-dokey," Jake said. I hoped he understood what the guy was telling us.

"One final item, if I may be so bold. Should the house lights come on at any time, I must insist that you please make haste out the back exit and into the alley and join the public out on the boulevard. Do not look around and please rally away from the structure. Should you be captured by the constables and incarcerated, your father will eliminate me. Literally. Now go and enjoy!" he said, flipping his arms around in some crazy dramatic fashion, then quickly clapping his hands twice like he was some sort of magician. "I will return within the hour, and as I do not expect to continue my relationship with you any further, I must say thank you for joining us today, and I bid you both a fond farewell. Adieu, gentleman."

Once Mr. Jimmy had slinked away from us and disappeared back behind the velvet drapes, I whispered to Jake, "Oh, man. This is so fucking strange. I can't believe this is happening to us. These people are really, really weird. Let's get in there and see some of the movie and then let's get the hell out of here, okay?

"All right. But you wanna get a Coke and some Jujubes first?"

"You moron. Come on."

I grabbed Jake's arm and pushed him through the big doors and into the ornately decorated theater. Standing just behind the closed doors I noticed that it was a lot bigger inside than I had imagined. Once my eyes got used to the dark, I looked up at the screen and saw what had to be a fifty-foot boner moving steadily across the widescreen as it was slammed into an equally large, and dripping-wet cooter. I had to bite my tongue from the craziness of our situation and keep from outright laughing. Thank goodness, we didn't get high before we came in here.

I pushed Jake down a few rows, and we took our seats, making sure that we were away from the handful of people that were scattered around the theater. As we walked by one of the top rows, I was pretty sure that one guy had his dork sticking out of his pants and he was whacking it off in time with the movie. No wonder the floor was so shiny and sticky.

After we sat down and watched the film for ten or fifteen minutes, I started to realize that this was actually rather dull. Sure, the guy had a nice, big hairy cock with a bulbous red head that I liked looking at, but I really didn't want to see him plowing it into some girl, over and over and over again. I honestly don't know what I was expecting, but the dialogue was stupid if you could even call it dialogue, and the music was even more insane. It sounded like Jordy practicing on his toy piano using his feet. Sloan could make better music than that, just by burping and cutting a few farts. I looked over at Jake, who had his arm up and his face half covered by his hand. I couldn't tell whether he was embarrassed or bored, or both. Either way, it was time to for us to split from this freaking place.

I nudged his elbow off the armrest that we were sharing and whispered, "This movie is stupid. Let's go check out that back room to see what it's all about. Then let's get the hell out of here, okay?"

"Yeah, I've already seen this kind of stuff for real before when I took pictures of Lisa and the football team getting it on," he said. "I like watching the guys and their big equipment, but not the girls so much."

We got up and started shuffling down towards the screen where there was a door that led to the mysterious back room. I noticed out of the corner of my eye a grungy looking guy from a couple of rows behind us get up and start to follow us, but when I turned around to shoot him a dirty look, he sat right back down in another seat. Jake and I stumbled along our way down the rest of the aisle and through an archway next to an old emptied-out orchestra pit, and then on towards the backroom door. Once inside, we took a quick look around and saw that the room was filled with what appeared to be tall photo booths like they have at the county fair. Those were the ones you and your friends would squeeze into and take four goofy pictures for a quarter. But these booths were entirely different. Way, way different.

The compartments here were lined up evenly along each side of the long and tall narrow room, at least twenty or so on each side. More of those coming attraction posters were hanging up high above the booths, big tits staring down on us like Gods from above, while their red nipples seemed to eye our every move. Smaller, glossy pictures were hanging on the sides of the booths showing various poses and stills from the different movies you could watch inside. The booths had ratty black curtains that you closed once you were inside so you could have some sort of privacy and keep other people from looking in, or to let someone walking by know that a particular booth was in use.

Luckily, no one was in the hallway that ran down along the middle of the booths, but a couple of the booths had their curtains closed. You could hear some of the soundtracks playing, with more of that cheesy, fuck me-fuck me music. The smell in here was like a bad combination of a stinky, rotting bathroom that hadn't been cleaned in many years, and an old empty dumpster that had been sitting for hours in the hot sun out behind a Chinese restaurant.

Jake and I walked down the gummy and dirty linoleum-lined hallway looking at the pictures on the sides of the booths, whispering comments to each other. We were both amazed by the huge variety of the films. Shit, I didn't know people did this kind of stuff, and for a quick second I pictured my parents doing some of these things, and then just as quickly pushed that thought right back out of my head. Yuck and double yuck! My friend from grade school, Scott, used to tell me about his parents making a lot of noise when they would bang, but I never heard my parents doing it, and I'm kinda glad that I never had.

One poster had a picture of two women with a gigantic double-headed plastic pink phallus sticking in both of their cooters at the same time. A lot of the posters showed various groupings of men and women, some with more women and some with more men, usually with the women having a dork stuffed into her mouth and another one up her quiver at the same time. Most of the men were older dudes, but the women were almost always very young looking, like from our high school. Quite a few showed one woman eating out another woman, usually with big grins on their mugs. That must be a favorite for these patrons, but it sorta grossed me out. Some had petite women dressed up as young school girls with shaved pussies riding big monstrous black cocks. One even showed a woman smiling at the camera while parting her pussy lips and looking like she was pissing or squirting some type of pussy juice all over a guy's hard dick and balls. Double and triple yuck!

Finally, we found a couple of booths down at the end that had posters advertising naked men standing alone in different poses, flexing their muscles. None of the guys looked young like us, and instead, they were either long-haired hippie dudes or buff loggers or hairy macho truck driving guys. Some were dressed as cops or firemen. They mostly looked butch, but they all had big cocks or really big ball sacks or both. Since they all had huge members, I figured that when I got to be twenty-one me and Jake's dicks would be that big too. Maybe that's how you can tell if you're queer or not – you have to have a gigantic member. Maybe I'll ask Lisa if that was true when we got back home. It was funny that the other womenie posters showed some of the sex scenes, but the posters with just the guys had them standing around in poses with their hard-ons sticking out, but not fooling around with each other. It was also strange to me that only one guy had an uncut cock, and of course, that was the one Jake wanted to see.

"Let's go in here!" Jake said. "This one looks like it could have been filmed on my uncle's farm."

We both squeezed into the booth while I shut the curtain closed behind us. It was a tight fit, and I could feel the excitement flowing through Jake's thigh. We sat there for a second trying to figure out how this thing worked, and then I finally realized that you had to put coins into the machine in the slot under the little window to play the movie. I told Jake to put in a quarter to start the machine.

Once the film started to play, we saw two big, and I mean big, hairy-chested guys with massive hard-ons and hairy bushes standing in the back of an old rusty pick-up truck parked behind a garage or an old shed as they pulled on each other's dicks. There was bluegrass music playing in the background, which made me want to laugh. I thought again that I was glad Jake and I hadn't smoked a doobie before we came in here, or we would be in even bigger trouble and probably would have gotten kicked out by now for laughing.

One guy had long, curly blond hair and a big full mustache, while the other guy was shorter and had black hair cut short. He was actually quite a bit shorter than the other guy but was way more muscular. He was hairy all over, too. He had some sort of leather strap tied around his dick and balls. He was the one that was uncut like me. They stroked each other's dicks for a minute or two, and then the black-haired guy got down on his knees in the pickup truck bed and sucked down the other dude's cock. He sucked it all the way down his throat in one fast move, his nose stuck right up into the guy's pubes, the blond guy's hairy ball sack swinging around and hitting him smack on his chin. Wow, I thought. Far out! That looked hot, and I knocked my leg into Jake's. I wanted to try that. Just then the movie shut off. Shit.

"Hey, what happened?" Jake asked.

"I don't know. I think you have to put in another quarter. Maybe it only plays for a little while. That was cool looking, huh?" I whispered.

"No shit. Let's see what they do next."

"Keep your voice down, man. I don't think that we're supposed to be in one of these booths together," I said.

He put in another coin, and the machine started right where it had left off. The black-haired guy was still sucking the blond guy's big dick all the way down his throat, then pulling all of it out, and then slammed it all the way back down again. He was really fucking the guy's mouth. They did this for a few more times, and then they changed positions.

This time the blond with the mustache sucked down the other guy's smaller dick, but he wasn't as good at it as the first guy was. I guess sucking dick takes some practice. He mostly licked around the head and slurped on his dangling ball sack. He did lick and pull and bite on the black-haired guy's foreskin, though, which was something that I liked when Jake did that to me. One time he made a special point of pulling down the guy's foreskin and slapping his cock all over his face and rubbed it around on his mustache. If that was my dick, I think that might have hurt a little, because my dick is so sensitive on the tip, but I didn't know exactly. I wondered if mustache hairs are real scratchy. This looked like something else to try sometime when we were older and could grow big hairy mustaches like that.

The next part showed the blond had turned the other guy around and pushed him forward, so his hands were leaning on the top of the rusty truck's cab, his legs spread out in a wide stance. The camera moved to the side so you could see the blond start licking and kissing the black-haired guy's ass, and tickling him with his big furry mustache. The black-haired guy's ass was really hairy too, which I found different. They were both really getting into it, the black-haired butt guy bending over more and sticking his ass out even further so the blond could get in easier and lick all around the bulls-eye, his floppy cock and balls bouncing all around. He really slobbered all over the dude's hairy hole, his mustache getting all shiny and wet. You could see the tip of his tongue starting to really get in there deep. Next, he stood up and then, damn! The machine stopped again.

Putting in another quarter, Jake whispered to me, "This is so fucking hot. We're gonna try some of these moves when we get home, dude. I'm gonna grow me a mustache like that."

"Yeah, like you can."

The film started playing again, and now the blond guy was standing up behind the black-haired guy. He started spitting into his hand and wiping it all around his hard cock, getting it good and slimy and slick with his saliva. It looked really big, but it was probably a lighting trick or something like that. He spit on his finger this time, and then jammed that finger right into the black-haired guy's hairy asshole. He really fingered it around, in and out and in and out, not being very gentle, either. The ass guy seemed to love it though, because he kept bending his knees lower and sticking his butt out even further like he was gonna pinch a loaf or something. Blondie pulled his finger out, spit on them once again, this time sticking two fingers in the guy's butthole, twisting and turning just like before. Without warning, the blond pulled out his fingers, leaned over and dropped a big glob of spit onto the tip of his cock, aimed his hard, throbbing member at his friends exposed butthole and jammed it right on in, up all the way, in one fast move pushing the guy forward towards the cab's window.

"Ouch," Jake said.

They really fucked, and I mean fucked. I guess the ass guy loved it because his hard dick was dripping loads of precum out of his piss slit, and was bouncing all over the place. Just as the fucking got faster and more intense, the damn movie machine stopped playing again.

Putting in another quarter, the fucking in the back of the rusty-red truck resumed. Slamming and slamming, I thought that the blond guy was going to fuck the black-haired dude right through the damn window. The blond pulled out, and then the film changed to a scene where the blond was standing on the ground in the tall grass while the hairy guy was on his back in the pickup's bed, his fingers clamped tight to the edge of the rusty tailgate to hold him in place. His uncut cock and balls still had the leather strap tied around it, and the blond was pulling the strings, making his friend's super hard cock and tight balls dance around all over his chest. That looked like it hurt and it didn't turn me on much. His dick was so red it looked purple, and sorta scared me like he was going to stroke out or something. After a while, he let go of the strap and grabbed the guy's furry legs and hoisted them high onto his shoulders, then buried his cock deeper in the guy's asshole one more time in one fast thrust.

Apparently, they liked fucking this way, because the blond guy was really ramming it in, standing in the grass and holding up the guy's legs straight up in the air by his ankles. Sometimes the blond guy would pull his big hard cock all of the way out and then, just as fast, shove it right back in the dude's butthole all the way. The furry black-haired guy was really working on his own cock now, stroking it fast with one hand and twisting and pinching his firm tit with his other hand. They were really going at it now, moving so fast it was like a blur. Then they guy getting plowed looked like he was about to –

"Fuck! Not again." I said.

"Oh man. I can't stand this any more. I'm almost out of quarters, and we need those for the bus ride home. Plus, I'm about to blow my load. My shorts are soaked with so much dick juice I'm gonna have to untuck my shirt to hide it. This day has gone from cranky to sexy to fun to bad to weird and now horny. Ry, let's get the hell out of here and go home and get naked and make out before I blow my load all over the inside of my shorts!"

"Okay, Roger that, buddy. But remember that Mr. Jimmy said we have to go out the back way into the alley. Let's hurry so we don't run into your dad or any of his fascinating friends. I think I'm about to blow my wad, too."

I opened the curtain and stepped outside slowly to make sure that the coast was clear. But unfortunately, leaning against the booth next to ours was the sleazy, creepy guy who had started to follow us down the aisle from inside the theater. Jake followed me out, and not noticing that I had stopped, ran right into my back, once again.

"Hi, sweet boys. Did you fellas like the movie? Looking at those big bulges in your shorts tells me that you did. That clip on the farm is one of my all-time favorites, and I especially like the blond guy with the big mustache," he said with a leer. "The black-haired guy can sure take it, can't he?"

"Um, no, we really didn't care for it. In fact, we're leaving because it's just too weird here and we need to get home," I said.

"Are you sure? That's a gosh darn shame. Don't be such party poopers. I can guarantee you that the three of us could have some of that fun like those guys were having all on our very own. Maybe you boys could come back to my sexy love palace. I would love to film you two naked and then maybe, you could have your own little movie playing in here. I bet you like to do that with each other, huh? I live real close – just around the corner actually, and I've got a great big bed. Who knows, you could become famous porno stars. I'm sure that Mr. Jimmy would be delighted to add you to his collection. He's always looking for fresh, new faces and hard erections. If you're received well, he might be willing for you to do a live gig or two up on stage sometime. Then you could earn some big, big tips, too. Lots of dough in that, for everybody. What do you say?"

"Ah, no thanks, we've got to go," I said again, starting to move around him.

That didn't work when he stuck out his arm to stop us. The leer disappeared from his face and was replaced by anger. "Are you sure? I promise it will be fun and I'll definitely make it worth your while. I'd really like to see your naked bodies and your hard dicks and smooth asses. Can I feel your dicks just once?"

"No. I'm positive," I said raising my voice.

"How about if you yank out your cocks and let me take a quick look at them?"

"Fuck you! I said no, asshole. We have to go," I said, totally pissed off now.

"Well, okay, if you must. If I see Mr. M I just might mention I bumped into you and tell him what films you boys were watching."

We stood there speechless for a second, letting what he had said sink in. When it hit Jake, he let out a growl and went apeshit ballistic. He pushed past me and grabbed the little creep by the front of his shirt, pushing him hard up against an all women fuck-fest booth. My friend told him, "I don't want you to say shit to my old man. We were just looking at all of the different films. If you say anything to anybody about it, I'll make sure you never talk again. Got it?"

"Okay boys, simmer down, simmer down. I understand. You're shy, that's all. Well, I'll be see'n you later then," he said as Jake backed off to let him go.

As the guy started to slink back into the theater, I heard him say under his breath, "Like father, like son."

I don't think Jake heard that, but it made me wonder again what Ace was really all about.

"Jake, that was fucking awesome. What got into you, man? I've never seen you like that before," I said, yanking him down the hall towards the exit and into the dirty alley behind the theater, out into the bright sunshine. "You could have gotten hurt. What if he had a knife or something? What would you have done then?"

"I don't know. I guess I've just had enough of this shit that's been going on with my dad and his so-called friends down here. Remember when I told you about the guy that I punched in the nose at our apartment? Well, that's the same thing just happened to me here. I don't know why it happens because I'm usually pretty cool and mellow. But when someone pisses me off like that, and I mean really pisses me off, I just go wild. I go from zero to a hundred in like two seconds. I guess I'm just trying to protect us. Let's get the fuck out of here."

"All right, Batman, let's go."

After we had gone through the back door and into the alley, we started walking down De Lacy Street instead of Fair Oaks and crossed Colorado Boulevard at the corner. Jake had calmed down enough to borrow a dollar bill from me to toss into the guitar case of the Vietnam vet who we saw earlier and was still playing his six-string on the sidewalk. Then, just to be safe and to make sure we didn't run into anybody that we had just met, we walked down two extra blocks to Arroyo Parkway to wait at that bus stop to take us back home. Sitting down on a bench in front of Johnny's Playroom was an old dive bar next door called the Hunt Club. Somebody had crossed out the 'H' in the sign and used spray paint to paint it over with a 'C'. All we needed now was for someone we knew to drive by seeing us sitting in front of the Cunt Club.

We were quiet for a long time, and when the bus finally came, we hopped aboard silently. Jake took the window seat, and I slid in quietly next to him. This time the bus was a little bit more crowded since it was close to quitting time for the office and factory workers in the area who might be working half-day or had the early shift. We rode in silence for a few more minutes until I couldn't take it any more.

"Jake, are you doing okay?" I whispered, hoping nobody would hear us.

"Yeah, I'm just thinking about my dad. What was he doing there and why does he know all of those weird people? Now that I think about it, he never talked much about his work other than to say that he was a businessman. My mom never asked about what he did, and Lisa usually avoided him altogether, well, so did I, but still, you'd think we'd know what he did to make a living. Now, I'm not so sure that I want to know."

"Yeah, I was sorta wondering how he knew all of those freaky people. He knew all their names, even the old grizzly guy behind the counter at the theater snorting coke. And did you notice how they treated and respected him? I think if he told them to hop around on one foot and rub their head, they'd do it. Maybe he's just a landlord or something, and he goes there to collect the rent."

"I don't think so. Today is the twenty-seventh, and usually, rent's not due until July first. That's still a few days away. I remember from living in our apartment how the landlady would be at our front door first thing in the morning on the first day of every month with her grubby hand sticking out to collect the rent. That was the only time that we saw that old bitch. She would never fix things, but she sure was there to take our money."

"Well, when we get home let's ask Lisa. Maybe she'll know."

We rode the rest of the way in silence, watching the crummy area turn into nicer, taller buildings and fancy department stores. When we got off the bus, I glanced over at our bikes and was happy that they were both still locked up. "Let's go in Thrifty's and get some ice cream. I think we should call Lisa to see if she wants to come down and get us. It's too hot to ride up the hill, and it will take us forever to get home. Do you think she'll mind?"

"Nah, I think that's a groovy idea. Here's a dime for the phone. I'll go get our cones. What kind you want?"

"Just a chocolate dip," I said, heading over to the pay phone on the wall.

Lisa was a good sport to come and get us, not really wanting to miss her Dark Shadows show, but once I told her that we had run into her dad, she grabbed Jordy and were at the Thrifty's parking lot in just over five minutes. Of course, Jordy wanted an ice cream cone too, so I gave him some money to grab one and meet us back at the microbus. While we waited for him, the three of us had a quick pow-wow about seeing her dad, and of course, she wanted to hear the entire story, from the very beginning. But Jordy was back by then, so we decided to go home, and the three of us would meet up in the pool house later on, and we'd play catch up. We unlocked our bikes and tossed them into the back of the bus and climbed in. Everybody was lost in their own thoughts going up the hill, except for Jordy who slurped noisily on his tutti-frutti ice cream cone.

The ride up the hill was quiet and uneventful, and surprisingly even the radio wasn't playing. Since the folks weren't due home for a few more hours yet I had to figure out how to ditch Jordy, in a nice way of course, so the three of us could talk. We really needed to figure out what Ace was all about.

"Hey, Jordy. Why don't you give your friend Chris a call and see if he wants to play? Maybe you can go over to his house and mess around with his Hot Wheels and show him some of your new cars. The three of us need to talk about something boring that you wouldn't understand."

"I don't want to. I want to hang out with you guys."

"Jordy, if you go over to your friend's house I'll give you a super-secret surprise after dinner when you come back, okay?" Lisa asked him.

"All right. But it better be good."

"Oh, it will, I promise," Lisa said, giving him a wink.

"Hey sis, does Uncle Gus have an old rusty-red pickup up on his farm?" Jake asked.

"Um, maybe, I really don't remember. Oh, wait! Yeah, way out in the field by that old tractor shed I think. Why?"

"Oh, nothing, just something that popped into my head."

Could this day get any stranger?

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