Richie and Jimmy
Driving home I thought about what Gramps said. I remember how proud dad was when I took to football. For him that was a man's game.
"Are you excited about working for Gramps?"
"Yes, I think that'll be great. I can earn some money which will help me with my college expenses. Also Gramps said I could live in the apartment."
"I haven't been in that apartment for years. But if I remember it was a nice three room apartment. It'll be a quiet place for you to study."
The next morning, I met Mike as we walked to school. "How was your week-end?"
"It was good. I went with the folks to my grandparents. Gramps has a three room apartment above his garage that's empty, he told me I could live there while I'm in school. And he's going to let me work at his company this summer. How about you?"
"The week end went very well. Dad said after school is out we can drive down to Florida and I'll get the opportunity to check out FSU. I'll probably work at dad's store this summer. I'm going to miss you."
Mike's dad own a large electronic store. All the kids bought their electronic gadgets from him. "I'm going to miss you also Mike. This will be the first time in 12 years that we have been separated. We must stay in contact."
As I thought about Mike and I being separated, I became a little morose. I grew up with Mike, he was like a brother to me. We did everything together and even had special moments. I think Mike is the only one who ever saw me with an erection. He certainly was the first one I had a circle jerk with.
Arriving at school, we headed to our first class. I wouldn't see Mike again till lunch time. The morning seemed to fly past. When I walked into the lunch room, I was met by Mike and Richie and pulled into the serving line. Richie was all smiles as if he had a secret to tell and couldn't wait.
Sitting down at out tables, "Guess what?"
Mike being the wiseass, "You're pregnant."
Richie reached over a swatted Mike on the side of his head. "I applied to Ohio State and got accepted."
"Really, that was fast."
"Dad's boss is on some alumni group and he called one of the deans and I got a letter in the mail on Saturday saying I was approved for admittance. Dad is going to let me work on the construction site this summer to earn some money. I have a trust fund my mother left me that will cover tuition but I'll need money for housing and food."
"Don't make any commitments for housing. I think I may have you covered."
I could see the questions in Richie's head, "We'll talk later."
Mike look at me, mouthed the word apartment. I nodded, he smiled.
I liked Richie a lot. It would be fun living together, I was sure some of our studies would overlap. Also having someone you know takes away any fears about a new and larger school. I knew Gramps and Gram would have no problem about it but I'm sure dad would have plenty to say.
Graduation was only 8 weeks away. The teachers began to pour on the work, they wanted to cover as much as possible in the next few weeks. If I wasn't studying, I was sleeping. I got together with Mike and Richie on the week ends, otherwise I only saw them at school. We promised to keep in touch and I gave them my address. We exchanged phone numbers and email accounts.
During the last week of school, besides studying, I was packing. I packed all of my clothes that I wanted, leaving those that were too tight or too old behind. I packed my books, photos and of course my computer.
Graduation was on a Friday night, Saturday morning I packed the car and we headed north to Grams and Gramps. I was excited, I would start to work on the coming Monday and begin my relatively independent life. Of course my father had to remind me that I would meet a lot of those fags and to stay away from them. I think that was why he agree to the apartment, he knew the dorms probably were filled with fags. I hated that term. I kept my mouth shut and focused on my new life.
Arriving at Grams and Gramps was always something. I heard them before I saw them, Frick and Frack came running up to the car. I sat there watching them, they sat there waiting till I open the door. Rather than opening the door on the side were they sat, I open the door on the other side. That was a mistake. As soon as they saw the other door opening, they ran around the car and jumped on me. I was laying on the ground looking into 4 eyes and two slippery tongues as they washed my face. I couldn't help laughing. Those dogs acted like puppies and they were anything but puppies. Frick sat on my stomach while Frack liked my face. Then as if they were communicating they changed places. At last Gramps came to my rescue calling the dogs off me.
He helped me up, "Those dogs really like you. They always have, whenever you came to visit they were your pals."
Frick and Frack walked beside me, one on each side. I scratched behind their ears as we walked toward the house. Of course my hand got licked and when I stopped they would put their heads behind my hands. I concluded a long time ago, dogs are not dumb creatures.
"James, why don't you take your bags to your apartment. The door is open and when while you are gone, Gram and Miss Marie will fix dinner."
It took me 3 trips to get it all in the apartment. I noticed when I entered with the first suitcase, that the smell was different. The place was painted while I was gone. The living room furniture was cleaned and the TV was now a 53 inch TV. The bedroom had drapes on the window, the bed was made and the bathroom utility closet had clean towels, soaps and shampoos. There was toothpaste and several new tooth brushes. When I came down for the next load, Gramps had a big smile and with his help we were able to bring all of my stuff into the apartment in one trip.
"What do you think?"
"Gramps, I love it. It smells so fresh and the colors are right on. I know I'm going to love living here. You know if I go to work for you, I may never leave."
"Your grandmother and I wouldn't have a problem with that. If there is anything else you need, let me know."
"Gramps, do we have internet connection?"
"Yes, there is a modem behind the TV. We better go, dinner will be ready soon and I have some papers you need to sign for employment at the plant. I have the approved copies of the papers you signed at Easter. Unless you want them, I'll keep them in the safe."
I put my arms around Gramps as we walked to the house for dinner. He would look at me and I was smiling. I was happy and I didn't care who knew.
"James, how do you like the apartment?"
"Gram its perfect. I'm really going to like staying there." She just smiled, I knew she was happy for me.
Mom and dad left, I began to unpack. There was a phone call I had to make. I hooked up my computer and went on Skype. I rang the number on Charles's card. Soon a face appeared and it wasn't Charles or Brand. "May I speak to Brandon please?"
Then I heard, "Brandon it's for you."
As soon as Brandon's face appeared on the screen, he smiled and started to laugh. "Where are you? I know you aren't home, Charles come here."
"Well, actually I am home, Brand. I'm now living with Gram and Gramps."
"Really, tell me all."
And I did, about the apartment, about the job and of course about the car. "Does dad know about the car?"
"No, Gramps told me to not tell him. Hi Charles, how are you."
Charles had sat down besides Brand so I could talk to both of them. In answering their questions I told them about working for Gramps this summer, told them about Mike going to FSU and my new friend Richie. I guess I must have said a lot about Richie as Brand asked me if there was a little more than friendship there. I wasn't sure how to answer him. I liked Richie, he was easy to like.
"I don't know Brand I never thought of Richie as anything else but as a best friend like Mike."
"Didn't Mike have a girlfriend?"
"Yes, but I never had time for those type of relationships. My goal was to earn a high grade point average and then I started with AP classes. You always teased me about having my nose in a book."
"Yea, I did. I think watching you study and getting excited about some book you were reading was what convinced me to be a teacher."
"Brand I miss you and I would like to see you and Charles again. Can you come to Gramps?"
"I don't know Jimmy. I don't want to be embarrassed again."
"You won't be embarrassed. Gramps understands that we don't pick who we love, it just happens."
"I'll let you know if we come over."
Signing off was hard to do. Brand and I have been close as brothers. He was always looking out for me. I love him and if he has found happiness with Charles then I love him more and Charles just the same for making Brand happy.
That night as I laid in my new bed for the first time, I let my thought drift to my conversation with Brand. Did I have more feelings for Richie than just being a friend? I loved to look into his eyes, they were hypnotic and seem to draw me in. He had a nice face and a great personality. He could make me laugh at little things. Then it dawned on me, I miss Richie where I didn't miss Mike. As these thoughts went through my head I fell asleep. That night I dreamt of Richie, being with him, talking and laughing with him. Gradually taking his head into my hands, looking into his eyes and then placing a soft kiss on his lips. I woke up, my heart was beating a mile a minute.
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