Chapter 18

by Michael Peterson

Be advised that in the following one will find graphic sexual depiction between minors and minors and adults. The story is fiction but based on real characters, events, places and situations. There is no relationship between the names used and that of any real person.

Tuesday the ninth of November, 1954, my fourteenth birthday, Father Barrett advised me at the end of Latin class that Mr. Rowley, the freshmen student counselor, wanted to see me again, immediately.

'You best do what he asks, Mr. Lloyd,' remarked Father Barrett without looking at me then, with a swirl of his cassock, turned and headed down the hall.

Math class was in five minutes. Concerned whatever Rowley wished wasn't going to be in my best interests, I debated ignoring his call. But, that would be in defiance of Father Barrett, a dangerous move.

I rushed down the hall and around the corner to the Student Counselor's Office and straight to Rowley's open door.

'You called for me, sir? I have math right now.'

'I've already spoken to you math instructor. He knows you're going to be here. It's for the tests we discussed. I spoke to your father and he wants you to take them. We can do it right now, only takes about forty-five minutes so you'll just miss one class. Please sit down.'

There was a growing pressure in my chest. 'My father isn't in charge of me any more. My grandfather is. He's the one you have to talk to. I've got to go to class.' I turned and headed for the main office door.

Rowley was fast on my trail. 'Mr. Lloyd! Come back here right now!'

I turned and spoke more forcefully that one should to a school official. 'No sir! I am not taking any tests unless my grandfather says so.'

'Malcolm, these are just simple personality tests. There is nothing to be concerned about.'

'You have to talk to my grandfather.'

'Your father is in charge of you, Malcolm. He put you here and is registered as your parent, not your grandfather.'

There was an anger building in me that was becoming increasingly difficult to contain. I'm sure it was evident. 'My father is not in charge of me any more. I don't care what your papers say. Call my grandfather!'

I raced out the door and headed at a trot for math class.

Rowley didn't pursue.

Tommy found me after math. He caught my agitated state immediately. 'What's wrong with you?'

'My father is trying to force me to take those stupid tests that Rowley wants me to take. I know, I think I know what they're really for.' There was a doubt, a very small one, about the possible reason for the tests but I stowed it right there. 'Crap! No one else I know has had to take them. My fucking father is trying to prove, you know. That son-of-a-bitch!'

'So what happened?'

I told him of the encounter at the counselor's office and Father Barrett's admonition. Francis joined us as I began.

'So why's Barrett want you to take them?' asked Francis. 'He talk to your father?'

That was a disturbing thought.

'I don't know. My father's not supposed to have anything to do with me now, just pay for school, nothing else.'

Tommy tried to talk about other things during recess but worry over what the morning's confrontation could lead to distracted me completely. I considered calling my grandfather at his office but it was time for history class before I made a decision.

It was hard to concentrate on history, my favorite subject. Minutes after it began, class was interrupted by Charles Rowley knocking on the door. I turned my back to him but knew that would do no good.

I went to the hall expecting demands, threats but the student counselor's expression was one of pain, confusion.

'Malcolm, uh, your, a, grandparents were in an automobile accident. Your aunt's on the way here to pick you up.'

I stopped breathing. My gut felt like it was filling with cold water which then seemed to rise into my chest. 'Are they okay?' I knew they weren't. It was written all over Rowley's face.

'I'm not sure what their condition is. I think your aunt will tell you. Why don't we wait in my office?'

'No. No. I'll wait in front. What time is she coming?' I pulled out my pocket Timex. It was ten forty-nine.

'Uh, not long. Maybe ten minutes or so. Would you like me to wait with you?'

I didn't answer him, just walked slowly down the hall, tortured by terrible visions of my grandparents' battered, dead bodies being removed from the twisted wreckage of their Chrysler. My head was swimming by the time I passed the rector's office near the main door. I had to grab the door frame to keep from falling down. The loss of my grandfather would be catastrophic. He was my real father is so many ways. He was the most secure part of my life. He loved me completely, without any reservations, certainly none due to my sexual orientation or friendship with Freddy. In fact, he was as much a father to Freddy as to me. He was Freddy's only real father, the man who was the guarantee of his life and future. He allowed us to be together. We made love a floor above him. He was the man who rescued me from the horrors of living with my father. Losing him was unthinkable. He had to be okay. My aunt was coming. I could stay with her until my grandparents were well again.

I sat then stood on the single step leading to the main door, pocket watch in my sweaty palm. I checked it every half minute. The second hand hardly seemed to move. I struggled to push out any thoughts that either of my grandparents was dead but they kept creeping back in like water under a door.

My aunt finally drove up to me. Her face told me the situation was awful. I stood to get in the car. She got out. I began to cry. She came and wrapped her arms around me. I could hear the tears in her voice, 'He's gone, Malcolm, we've lost him. I, oh, Malcolm.'

I think I nearly screamed, or maybe I did. My arms around her held me up as I cried uncontrollably. I felt her arms grip me. My world, the wonderful world filled with the love of my grandparents, Freddy, my close friends, was shattered. My real father was gone, would never talk to me again, hug me, encourage me, lift me up.

Then a chill entered me, worse than the cold I'd felt earlier. Where was I to live? My aunt didn't have the power over my father that my grandfather did. My mother would want me that very day. I wished I'd died in the car with my grandfather.

We sat on the step by the door. 'And Grandma?'

'They don't know. They're doing all they can. We just have to wait. There's nothing we can do but wait.'

We sat there, arms around each other, my head in her chest, and cried together, oblivious of others coming and going through the door.

Mr. Rowley approached us. 'Would you like to come inside? You can use my office.'

I only partially heard his words, my aunt looked up at him but said nothing.

'Malcolm, Miss, you can use my office...'

'No, thank you. We need to go.'

She rose, dragging me with her, and led me to the passenger side door.

The ride to the hospital was miserable. I tried to look out the window but couldn't see through the tears that wouldn't stop falling. I appealed to a God I didn't really believe in to save my grandmother. The request wasn't entirely unselfish. A dread of being forced back into my father's house was growing in me. Finally, unable not to ask it, I turned to my aunt. She was wiping tears from her eyes.

'Can I stay with you tonight?' I pled meekly.

She reached over and sought out my hand. 'I don't know, dear. I'll try.'

Her use of 'dear' sent a chill through me. It was a family term, one used by my grandmother all the time too but I was most accustomed to hearing from my mother.

'Is my mother at the hospital?'

'I don't know. We couldn't get hold of her. Maybe.'

The hospital wasn't far from my grandparent's house. My aunt led me to the emergency room. Her husband was there in the hall, leaning against the wall. He came to us and gave my aunt a long hug, then put a hand on my shoulder. He whispered something to my aunt. Her head sank into his chest. She reached out and pulled me to her. I looked at my uncle.

My aunt's muffled voice said, 'She's gone too, Malcolm.'

I was crushed, weak, no longer able to cry. I slipped down the wall and sat on the floor, knees up, tears wetting my pants.

A pair of black shoes appeared in front of me. It was Father Duncan from my grandfather's church. He said nothing. Someone sat beside me. It was Freddy. I embraced him with all my strength.

'What're we gonna do now, Freddy? What're we gonna do?'

'I dunno,' was his sobbed answer.

The priest spoke to my aunt and uncle while Freddy and I sat pressed against one another on the floor, locked in dark thoughts about the terrible turn our lives had taken. I remembered that Freddy's education was guaranteed by some kind of bank account my grandparents had set up for him. And, of course, he had his own home and wonderful mother. I tried to think of how I could arrange to stay with my aunt but the grief over the loss of my grandparents didn't permit any rational consideration of anything. I was already missing my grandfather's warmth and words. I started to cry again.

After a while, we all were moved to a small chapel where the priest prayed with us. More people arrived, friends, business acquaintances, a couple of older neighbors. The word passed around that my grandparents' only son was flying in from out-of-state and would be arriving in a few of hours. Someone bought sandwiches, Tasty Kakes and cartons of milk.

My mother finally arrived at five fifteen. She looked frantic as she rushed to me. There were no tears, just worry in her eyes.

'Oh Malcolm! What are we going to do?' She embraced me so hard that even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't have hugged her back.

I couldn't think of anything to say. I hoped my aunt or someone else would speak to her, get her away from me. After a few moments, another arm pushed between us, across my mother's shoulders and pulled her from me. It was my aunt. She led my mother to a pew across the aisle. I sat back beside Freddy and watched. They spoke for a while then my aunt called the priest to them and the conversation went on.

Aunt Martha rushed in. She came straight to me. I stood and we cried wordlessly for a while in each other's arms. My aunt, mother and the priest looked over at us for a moment.

Aunt Martha said nothing for a while. I guessed she had the same concern as I about where I'd be living and, as I, had no solution.

My aunt came alone to our pew. 'Malcolm, would you like to stay with your Aunt Martha tonight? I can take you. We can stop at your grandfather's and pick up some of your things. You don't need to go to school tomorrow if you don't want. You probably shouldn't.'

I looked across at my mother. She was talking to the priest. Did she know what my aunt was offering? It didn't seem possible that I'd be allowed to live with Freddy but it did strike a spark of hope in me, a spark that was all but extinguished when my mother said on leaving, 'I'll see you tomorrow, dear.'

In her car, I asked my aunt, 'You think I can live at Freddy's?'

She was silent for a moment, then answered, 'No, I don't think so, dear. I told your mother you'd be staying with me tonight. Your father is working and doesn't know what happened yet. When he does, well, you know.'

Too well I knew. My defender was gone. What power I had over my father went with him. None of the other families involved in the Washburn affair would want to give up the money which certainly by then had been at least partially spent. Any charges I made on my own, coming from a known homosexual, would be dismissed and only serve to anger my father, probably putting me quickly into a military boarding school which, of course, I wouldn't accept. I'd run away. My education would be over, my future obliterated. That might happen anyway if my father tried to restrict me too much, something which, tragically, was likely.

I had to find a way to live somewhere else.

That evening, Aunt Martha was what a mother was supposed to be. She sat with me, catered to me, talked to me, held me.

'Malcolm,' she said at one point, 'I know you mebbe bettah than anybody 'cept Freddy. I know one a the things you's thinkin' about is running away again. If you ain't thinkin' it now, you gonna think about it when yo' fathah does somethin' that gets you all riled up. Well, I want you to listen real good to what ahm gonna say now. You got just two yeahs 'til you be sixteen and free a him. I know that sounds like one long time but it ain't when you thinks 'bout the res' a yo' life. Tha's two yeahs aginst prolly anothah sixty o mo'. When you is sixteen you come on down heah an' live wi' us an' keep on goin' ta school and college.' She hugged me tightly. 'Don't do nothin' tha's gonna ruin yo' whole life. It would jus' break mah heart ta see you unhappy 'cause you din't finish yo' edycation. Ah loves you jes' like mah Freddy and you know that.'

'And I love you.'

Freddy and I slept pressed together, this time with me behind him, one arm under his head, the other over his chest. I worried that it would be the last opportunity for a long time for us to sleep together. That sleep took a long time coming but it stayed when it arrived.

It was after eight when I opened my eyes. Aunt Martha had gone to work at Bobby's and the girls were in school. Freddy had remained still so as not to awaken me. The fixings for an egg, sausage and bread breakfast were on the table. The stove was warm. Freddy added a couple of pieces of wood and we fried our eggs and sausage.

He was silent as we ate then, 'What're you plannin' on doin', Maacum?'

'Well, I'm not going to that house until I have to. Maybe my aunt can convince them to let me stay with her.'

As I said it I knew it wasn't to be. Freddy just looked at the yolk he was wiping up with the last piece of his bread.

'Okay, I promise I'll try really hard and do whatever he says. It's just that, well, it's just so hard. Everything's wrong no matter what I do. And, what if he tries to beat me again.'

'He isn't gonna try nothin' like that. You're too big.'

I was easily just a few inches short of my father's height and possibly stronger. He would be surprised at my size since he hadn't seen me for almost a year. I figured Freddy was right then worried what he might try to do in place of a physical punishment. It seemed sure he'd think of something.

Freddy and I spent the morning at the stream, sitting on a large rock, a fire blazing in front of us, the sleeping bag unzipped and wrapped around us like a blanket but open in front to let the heat of the flames in. We talked about our first days there, especially the time I fell in the water and he made a fire to dry my wet clothes. He didn't mention that it was the first time we had sex.

There was a note on the door when we got back around lunchtime. It was from my aunt. She wanted me to call her as soon as possible. She'd be home by one. It was twelve forty-five. We'd probably only missed her by fifteen minutes. We both knew what reason for the call.

We ate our soup slowly. We probably wouldn't be seeing each other for a while.

I made the call from a payphone outside Benson's Confectionary Store at the streetcar turnaround.

'Your mother wants to speak to you. I promised to have you at the funeral home at four.' She suggested Freddy and I go to my grandparent's house, get cleaned up and dressed. She'd pick us up at three thirty and stop by for Aunt Martha at Bobby's afterward.

At my grandparent's, we gathered up all my belongings and stuffed them into three suitcases from my grandfather's closet. I called a taxi and had him deliver us to Bobby's. Aunt Martha was there.

'Oh Maacum, why you bringin' all that heah?'

I was developing a plan to put off returning to my father for a while, perhaps for good. Basically, it involved not being available, hiding quietly. I would find a way to go with my aunt that night and go to school the next day, Thursday, so as not to get too far behind. A couple of my classmates were moderately friendly with me. I'd explain what happened and ask them to let me borrow their notes during recess and lunch. I'd come straight to Bobby's after school, sneaking past my mother if she was there at the end of the school day. Friday was the funeral. If my father didn't come, as I expected he wouldn't, I'd sneak away from there at the first opportunity and get back to Bobby's for the weekend. All the while, I'd work on my aunt to arrange for me to stay with her. It was a long shot but better than just giving up. And, I could see how hard my father tried to pull me back into the house. It would let me know how much I could safely resist.

'I'm not going back with him until I have to, at least until after the funeral.'

She gave the same soft lecture she had the night before. I remained silent.

Bobby knew about the accident from the call to Aunt Martha the day before. He'd figured what my situation would be.

'You know you can stay here if you need to,' he told me.

A man at the funeral home door asked for my coat. He hadn't requested those of Freddy or his mother. I gave him a dirty look. I wasn't about to give it up anyway.

Mother was in the hall outside the viewing room. Aunt Martha spoke to her first. Mother didn't look at her but once as they parted. She didn't seem upset by what had been said. Before she could get to me, I went into the viewing room. The closed caskets were placed parallel to one another so people could pass between. I started toward them but then couldn't. The tears flowed. I didn't want to get near them as they were, inside boxes, probably badly broken up.

Aunt Martha came and took me forward. 'They in heaven now, Maacum, but they heah too. You can talk to 'em. Now, go ahead.'

I felt eyes on me as I stepped between the two lustrous wood caskets. I touched one. It did seem to calm me. For some reason, what entered my mind there was Georgie's thoughts on the Great Spirit and how he'd take them up with Him as long as he could find them. I wondered if my father would permit Georgie to visit with me over the Thanksgiving holiday. My grandfather had planned to take us and Freddy places that weekend. I leaned against the coffin, yearning to hear my grandfather's voice, feel one of his strong hugs, the ones he gave almost every time we were close to one another, his arm across my back, his hand gripping my shoulder.

Mother stood in the back of the room, alone, waiting. I decided to get it over with, hear what she had to say, knowing I was probably expected to go home with her.

'Your father and I both know how much you loved my parents and how difficult this is for you. But we love you too and want you with us now. I know I've told you things would be different before but they will truly be this time if you help us make them different. You father...'

'Just let me stay here a little longer, mother.'

My uncle who lived in the Midwest introduced himself, patted me on the shoulder, seemed at a loss for words, and moved on. At least he didn't call me 'dear'.

I sat in the chairs to the left of the caskets, Freddy and Aunt Martha to one side, a door out to the other.

My aunt came to sit with us, beside me. We slid in one seat.

'Your mother wants you to go home with her.'

I dropped my head.

She sighed then, 'Malcolm, maybe it won't be as bad as you expect.'

'Why can't I stay with you?'

'Oh Malcolm, because your parents want you. I know all about what happened. Daddy told me but, well, oh,' she shook her head, 'I'd take you in if it was possible. You must know that but, well, I can't go against your father like Daddy did.' She paused again. 'Oh, I'll talk to her, but just for tonight.'

She got up and walked toward the rear, wringing her hands. I leaned over so I could watch partially hidden by Freddy. My aunt's head was tilted, her hands still clasped in front of her. Mother nodded slowly, pain on her face. She was refusing the request.

To Freddy, I whispered, 'I'll see you tomorrow. Go to Bobby's after school.'

'Maacum, where...'

I patted his knee as I got up and, crouched over, headed for and out the side door. I ran up the street and around a corner, not slowing to a walk for several blocks. The cold air rushing over my face had been refreshing, felt like freedom. I started running slowly. Blocks passed. The flat turned into a long incline I knew went on for quite a way. I was breathing hard a couple of blocks on and realized I was running hard, fast. People turned their heads as I raced by. I crossed over a major business boulevard, dodging a streetcar and a delivery truck whose driver honked angrily at me.

I muttered, 'Fuck you, son-of-a-bitch' and forged ahead, ignoring the weariness building in my legs. I was free. That was all that mattered. It was less than eight or ten blocks from the beginning of Martin's and Bobby's section of town that I realized that my legs weren't going to hold me up much longer, that I needed to stop and rest. I flopped down on a bus stop bench, feeling better than I had since learning of my grandparent's death. I had escaped my parents for another day.

Bobby's hot shower felt marvelous on my cold flesh. I was still under the water when Freddy came knocking.

'Your mama's all worked up that you left. She went driving all over looking for you but I don't think she knows about here. Shit, wait a minute, I'm comin' in too.'

We showered together, washing each other's backs and ears, using up all Bobby's hot water, only getting out when it got cold.

'Let me dry you,' I said.

He held his arms up. I checked but there was no hair growing in his armpits yet so I tickled him there. He chased me into the bedroom and up onto the bed where his fingers found my ribs. I wrapped my arms around him, trying to pin his arms. His skin was still hot from the water, and felt very smooth. We both relaxed.

I kissed his cheek. 'I love you, Freddy.'

He let me hold him for a few minutes then, 'We either gotta get dressed or under the blanket. I'm getting' cold.'

I rolled us over and yanked at the bedding. We wiggled and squirmed until we were under it. Bobby's oil was down between the mattress and the box spring. I felt for it on the side we were nearest but didn't find it then realized that wasn't what I wanted. I kissed him on the cheek again then slipped down his body, kissing his chest, tummy and abdomen, sliding my crotch down his right leg. His hands held my shoulders gently. He was hard when I arrived. I took him right in, rising up to take it all. His toes rose up against my perineum and balls.

I caressed his sides as I fellated him top to bottom to top, sucking on the head, running my tongue all over and into the slit. He was almost as fast to fruition as he'd been before we grew. I savored his sperm, not swallowing a drop, turning my head slowly around his shaft about half way up as he pumped his fluid across my tongue.

Freddy went off to school in the morning. His mother fretted that I was courting trouble with my father by not going home.

'I'll see my mother at the funeral tomorrow. Maybe I'll go then.'

'You better hope he don't call the police before then. That man don't like it when a body don't do what he wants.'

Freddy came straight from school. We went off to Edward's together where I helped him bag and do his chores. Mr. Johnson wanted to know if I was ready to come back to work. Freddy told him about my grandparents. He expressed his condolences and left us alone.

We had dinner at Martin's where Freddy told them too. Mother called as dinner was near finished. Mrs. O'Malley looked at me and said, 'No, Mrs. Lloyd, we haven't seen him.'

Back at the table, she asked, 'You haven't run away again, have you?'

'Not exactly. I'm just not going to live with them yet, maybe never.'

They tried diplomatically to let me know that I wouldn't be able to sleep there more than once or twice. Dickie wanted me to spend that night with them. It was tempting but I needed to be with Freddy.

There was no sex in bed that night, just some small talk and Freddy's pledge to go along with whatever I decided to do though he preferred that I follow his mother's advice.

'It's just two years, Maacum. And we gonna find a way to be together plenty. We always do. Then you can come live with us.'

The funeral was held at my grandparent's church. Freddy and I arrived early with his mother. There were already a lot of people there including at least a dozen Negroes. My mother came in a few minutes later, looking around. We ducked down in our pews until she went back outside then moved in with a group of Negroes who sat halfway back on one side. My aunt and her family sat at the front along with my uncle from the Midwest. Mother came back in just as the service was about to begin. The great church was nearly half full. She finally walked up front and sat with her sister.

The priest spoke of my grandfather's many years as an altar boy, the respect he held in the business community and his love for his grandson, me, and Freddy and his family and how he and my grandmother had assured the education of all the Jackson children. I heard Aunt Martha sob. Tears fell from my eyes also.

After the Mass, two of the men sitting with us went forward to be pall bearers. One, who knew us from the park, insisted we go with them. Freddy tugged me behind him. The moment we passed her, my mother looked at me with frustration, but couldn't do anything. Freddy and I followed the six men carrying my grandfather. My mother and the rest of the family were behind us. We rode in a black Cadillac limo behind the hearse with some of the pallbearers. The white men smiled uncomfortably at their black counterparts. I felt ashamed for them and sat closer to the black man beside me.

By the time we arrived at the cemetery, it had clouded over. We followed the same groupings. Freddy and I were seated with the family, two seats from my mother, and Freddy's sister Missy. Aunt Martha was behind us. Before the priest could speak, it began to drizzle cold rain. Umbrellas went up. We were under a canvas canopy.

I noticed the white handkerchief going to and from my aunt's face. When the priest began to speak, she leaned her head into her husband's shoulder. I looked past them at my mother. She sat upright. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I felt them well up in my eyes. I also felt a desire to go to her. I felt I may have been part of her anguish. Soon, the urge was too strong to resist. I got up and walked to her. My aunt and uncle looked up, and moved over. I sat with her. She took my hand, I held hers.

When they began lowering the two caskets simultaneously into the graves, Aunt Martha began crying. I looked back and saw Freddy was already with her, holding her, his face pressed into her chest, crying himself. He looked in as much pain as he'd been in the day we were attacked on the railroad tracks many years before. That pushed me over the edge too. The tears fell, harder than the rain that was by then pelting the canvas over my head. Mother put her arm around me. I felt her warmth. My grandparents disappeared into the ground.

We were all escorted under black umbrellas back to the limousines. Mother tried to take me to hers. I hugged her then pulled back, shook my head and went to one I'd come in, with Freddy.

I got out three blocks before the church. The rain had become a light drizzle. My plan had been to head for Bobby's but, considering the uncertainty ahead, decided to go to take a bus to the library then make my regular Friday date with the photographer.

I arrived early. He immediately picked up my somber mood.

'What's wrong? You look like you lost your best friend.'

That was almost too much to take. I had to take a breath to push back the tears. The five dollars was important. The customer had to feel I was ready to perform.

'Nah, just some crap at school.' I gave him a hug and ran my hand between his legs.

It was hard maintaining concentration while sucking and a hard on while being fucked. I focused on Simon's torso while my customer masturbated me during his last slow thrusts as he ejaculated up my colon. Fortunately, he kept up the prostate massage or I'd have never gotten off into his hand.

It was early enough to seek another trick, as the downtown hustlers called our clients, so I went to the park with the book I'd taken out from the library and sat reading on a bench with my hands stuffed in my coat pockets and head tucked between my turned up collar. It was cold but at least the rain had stopped.

I earned five for a vigorous blowjob on an older man who, for a while, I wasn't sure would be able to reach orgasm. His cock kept going soft. What seemed to do it for him was my saliva soaked finger up his ass, a trick I learned from Bobby.

I had dinner with Freddy at Martin's then the two of us spent the night there. Dickie was thrilled. Martin was passionate. There was no call from my mother.

Saturday morning, I worked in the kitchen with Bobby and Aunt Martha. She was very worried what my father might do with me avoiding them.

'You say you ain't runnin' away but that's what they gonna call it. What if he calls the police?'

'I'll be in school Monday, and everyday. Why should he care? He doesn't like me and I don't like him so why should we live in the same house?'

I hustled on the Eastside that afternoon and back downtown after a dinner paid for by my second customer. I blew once and got screwed three times, noisily dumping the greasy load in the bathroom of my last customer.

'Sounded like I gave you a sperm enema. I thought I got off a lot more than usual,' he said when I came out. I didn't disillusion him.

Freddy was waiting for me when I got back to Bobby's at nine thirty.

'Your mother came to the house this morning. She says if we see you to tell you your father's called the police.'

'They don't know about here and the cops never look. Anyhow, I'm going to school Monday. Runaway's don't go to school.'

'What if your father gets you there and sends you to that military school he's always talking about?'

'Then I'll run away. I've got plenty of money in the bank and can earn fifty dollars a week easy.'

'But where you gonna stay? You can't stay here. They gonna find you here.'

'I'll find some place.'

'Like with Sammy?'

I caught the challenge. 'I know other kids now, some big kids that have apartments or rooms. I'll find a place, don't worry and we can be together plenty.'

'And what about school? You gotta go to school.'

'So I miss two years. When I'm sixteen, I can go back and finish high school. Then I can work and go to college at night. Lots of people do that.'

My ass hurt by the end of three screwings on Sunday. But I'd earned forty-four dollars since Friday. Monday, after school, I planned to go to Butch's to see if his old crowd could be revived. It was easier, faster money and didn't require standing on street corners.

I was at school in plenty of time via my thumb. Economy of lifestyle was my goal: free rides, all the free food I could get without being overbearing, no unnecessary spending. Paul Simpson gave me a childish look as we passed each other in the hall, nearly sticking out his tongue. All my friends knew of my grandfather's death. Bradley got it from Martin at their church and told Pat who told Tommy.

'You okay?' was all Tommy asked after letting me know he was aware of why I'd disappeared from school the week before.


Francis arrived along with Bradley and Bill Timmons, a boy from my class who had become one of our little group. Timmons gave me his notes from Friday. Talk moved to Francis' new girl friend. I tuned it out and copied Bill's scribblings.

Father Barrett held me back when the others entered.

'I knew your grandfather briefly. He was a very good man. Did Mr. Timmons give you his notes?'

'Yes, father.'

And that was that. He nudged me into the classroom and got right into English.

The rest of the day was quite normal right up until a few minutes before the final bell was to ring. Charles Rowley along with the Brother in charge of discipline, a Mr. Filbert, knocked on the door and asked for me.

I was taken, with my backpack, to Rowley's office.

'Mr. Lloyd,' said the disciplinarian, 'I don't know what you are trying to pull with your family but this institution will not be part of it. Your father is waiting for you outside. You are to get into his car and go home with him. I don't want to hear any more of this running away business or you'll no longer be a student here. Am I understood?'

I sighed, 'I did not run away, sir.'

'Then what do you call not living at home with your family?'

'My family died last week. I was staying with friends who don't treat me like I have a disease or beat me or break my ribs.' My voice raised as my little speech went on. I knew it was a mistake as I was saying it but couldn't stop.

'That is not what we have been told. You better...'

'Where is he? I'm going!'

'If he weren't outside, young man, you'd be spending an hour in detention. Right outside the front door.'

I turned abruptly and went out. I saw his car immediately. He was sitting inside. I got into the back. He drove out with a slight squealing of tires.

Twice, he looked like he was going to say something but just flexed his jaw. It was Monday, my running day. I wasn't going to go so easily. A couple of miles from the house, not far from Tommy's house, he stopped at a light. Leaving my backpack on the seat, I got out.

'Get back in here!' he shouted furiously.

'I'll be at the house in half an hour,' I shouted back and ran in the direction from which we came. I knew he couldn't get to me before I could make a couple of turns. I worried that I might have gone too far but, the more I ran, the more I felt justified. He was the bad guy, not me.

Most of the run was downhill, something the trainer at McFarland told us we should try to avoid to protect our joints against the jolts they received when the lead foot stepped lower than the trailing foot. And, it wasn't much work. So, after crossing the bridge and running up to my house, I gave my father's car the finger and continued on up the hill, going from street to street for another twenty minutes until I was soaked with sweat under my winter clothing. I entered the house from the back and went up the rear stairs. My father came storming out of his den and confronted me at the top.

'You think you're a real smartass, don't you? Well, you just get into your damn room and stay there until I call for you!'

I pulled open the gate and started up but he was blocking the way. I stood there, waiting for him to move. He took half a step back. I squeezed past him then stopped.

'May I have my book bag? I've got to study.'

'Well, I sure as hell don't have it.'

'I left it in your car.'

'Then get it, and be quick about it!'

I squeezed by him into the front hall and went down the stairs. He was in his den with the door closed when I came back up.

I stripped and showered then studied on my bed in the nude, even though it was a bit cool in the house.

Mother came knocking shortly after five.

'I'm naked, and studying.'

'Oh, dear, please put something on. We need to talk.'

I pulled the bed spread around me and said, 'Okay'.

She opened the door. 'Oh, Malcolm. Put on some clothes, please.'

'I'm studying, mother. This is comfortable.'

She sighed, walked in and sat in my chair.

'Dear, why do you have to defy your father all the time? All it does is cause more problems.'

'Why does he want me here? I can stay with my aunt or Freddy or lots of other places and I'll be okay. Plenty of people want me, and like me. He doesn't like me. So why does he want me here?'

'Dear, he does want you here. You are his son.'

'He said I wasn't.'

'Oh, Malcolm. You know he was just upset. You just don't give him a chance.'

'Yeah, to break my ribs again then tell everybody I fell down on top of my radio.'

That was the end of the civil part of our discussion. I agreed to do my chores and be home for dinner.

The next day, Charles Rowley was at the door of my math class. My father insisted I take his tests.

'I lost two days last week. I need time to catch up.'

Rowley looked at me, then the instructor who was waiting impatiently at his desk. 'All right, we can wait until Thursday. You can pick the time but I need a couple of hours.'

At recess, I sought out Frank Stillings. 'What are his tests all about?'

He found a classmate who had taken them. 'It's just a lot of questions about what you like, what you would do under certain circumstances, what you see in a bunch of weird inkblots. Just don't say anything weird about your parents or find anything sexual in the inkblots. Hell, I don't know.'

'Why did you have to take them?'

'I got in a lot of trouble back them, talking, screwing around in class. Don't worry, it's no big deal.'

I wasn't so sure about that.

After school, I hitched downtown to the photographer's apartment. He wasn't home. I tried the library's psychology section but didn't know where to look. The librarian was suspicious.

'Are they going to give you some tests? That why you want to know?'

'No, I lied, we were talking about it in class and I'm supposed to write something about them, you know, like what they can find out about a person's personality, like that.'

She became very helpful, taking me to a pair of books that were designed for easy understanding of the Rorschach Inkblot and other tests. I took them both out and headed home, reading in the cars of the men I hitched a ride with. The ride out to my section of town was with a 'John'.

'You hitch a lot. I've seen you before.'

'Yeah, some.'

'Where do you go to school?'

I told him.

'You hitch to school each day? I go out that way sometimes. I could give you a ride if I knew what time you were going.'

That's when the 'John' label occurred to me.

'Where do you live?'

He mentioned an area well west of where we were. That nailed it. It was a quarter to five. There was time for a quickie. I rubbed my crotch and squirmed like I might have had a hard on.

'Something big in there?' he asked.

'Not all that big. Just gets hard all the time.'

He reached over. I moved my hand and let him.

'Feels big to me.' I'd managed a partial erection. He squeezed gently, making it harder. 'You have time to come to my place?

'I kinda need to make some money.'

'How much?'

'Five but, we can do whatever you want. We just gotta be quick. I gotta be back by six.'

'You must be awful good to ask for five. I usually only pay two, three at the most.'

I reached under myself and squeezed.

He made a quick turn and got us to his row house in less than fifteen minutes.

Five minutes later, he was inside me.

I was home by six with a date for the following Tuesday.

My father drove in at six fifteen. We ate at six thirty. He wanted me to eat with him and my mother. The maid put my food on the table. I hoped to avoid any conversation and concentrated on the roast and baked potatoes.

'Are you getting caught up in school?' he asked.

I nodded affirmatively.

'Where'd you go this afternoon?'

'The library to look up something for history.'



'Which TVA?'

'Tennessee Valley, the electric project. We're studying the New Deal.'

I don't think he expected a coherent answer. I hoped he didn't know enough to go on with any further questions. Apparently he didn't.

I begged off desert to study and rushed out.

Mother stuck her head in and told me I had to do the driveway and front walk the next afternoon so I should come straight home from school. That wasn't what I had planned but seeing Freddy the following afternoon was more important than spending time with Bobby and Martin.

Exercise was done over my Latin vocabulary. I said a word in Latin on the up swing of a push up and the English translation going down then did the same with the book to my chest during sit ups. Pull ups were studyless because I had to do them using the door frame. I only managed seven. My fingers couldn't take it.

There was no time to study the psychological test books by the time I'd completed my homework. However, I got in some time with them on the way to school, immediately looking up the word 'homosexual' in the indices. The first didn't have it. The second had a single reference in the section on the Rorschach. It didn't by any means give specific signs the testing psychologist but mentioned consistently vague answers as being an indicator of homosexuality.

The vagueness of the comments concerned me. That homosexuality was discussed at all even more so. Since the book I had in my hand was hardly a complete text on the test, the fact that homosexuality was mentioned indicated to me that a more complete book, the kind studied by psychologists, would have a lot more to say. The inkblots could well identify my sexual preference, provide proof to my father of my true sexual interests. That was not something I could allow.

By the time Rowley came to Father Barrett's classroom to pick me up, I was determined not to take the tests no matter what the results of my refusal.

Rowley was very frustrated then dropped a bombshell he likely didn't know existed.

'Oh Malcolm, I don't understand why you don't want to do this. My God, boy, if you'd just done it a couple of weeks ago your grandfather would have had his heart attack at home or maybe not ...'

It was probably the horror on my face that stopped him. 'What?' I asked anxiously.

He seemed unsure what to say.

A horrible thought was forming in my head. 'Was he coming here, when...'

'Well, you said to call him.'

A searing guilt tore into my brain. I fell back into the chair I'd risen out of. Did I allow this latest battle with my father, my refusal to take some stupid test, to be the cause of the loss of the two people who loved me the most? Was I responsible for my grandparent's death? Did I, in fact, kill my grandfather?

I grabbed at my hair and pulled as hard as I could but felt no pain in my scalp. I tried to stand but knocked the chair away and fell back against it then onto the floor. I got to my knees and began hitting myself openhanded on the forehead.

Rowley tried to restrain me.

'Get the fuck off me!' I shouted.

He let go. I stood and looked for the door, unsure where it was. After locating it, I grabbed at the handle but had to struggle to find a way to get it open. I ran down the hall, out the front door and across the drive and open grass ahead.

How could I have done anything so terrible? Why didn't I just take the stupid tests? Fuck my father! He already knew. Everybody knew. There was nothing to hide. Why didn't I just take the stupid tests?

I got to a large tree and stopped in front of it, staring at the bark, oblivious to the cold entering my body. The bark was ragged, dark, nasty looking like, I was sure, the inside of my horrible, selfish brain. I had killed my grandfather, the one who so unselfishly and unreservedly loved me. I embraced the cold tree. I wanted, needed to die.

I heard Rowley's voice from behind me. 'It was an accident, Malcolm. The heart attack was going to happen anyway. It had nothing to do with you.'

His words helped me redirect the rage inside me. I turned and faced him. 'Why couldn't you just leave me alone. I'm queer. So what? It's none of your business, none of my father's business. I do good in school. I don't get in any trouble. I do my fucking chores. I've got plenty of friends. Why can't you people just leave me alone?' I screamed those last words.

Rowley frowned then, 'Let's go back inside, Malcolm, and talk. Things aren't as bad as you think.'

'Jesus, you, Jesus! You think, Jesus!' I pushed past him, convinced he understood nothing of my situation. I went straight to my locker, had to work the combination lock three times to get it open, snatched my coat and headed away from Rowley and his office to the door out at the other end of the building.

Father Barrett must have seen me go past his door. I heard him call out from behind as I reached the turn in the corridor. 'Lloyd! Get back here!'

I ignored him and went out, breaking into a run as I hit the grass. Rowley was right to a certain extent. It wasn't all my fault. They shared the blame, but a blame I shouldn't have had any part in.

There was no direction to my running which quickly slowed to a trot. The guilt and anger, suicide and murder bounced back and forth in my mind like an erratic ping pong ball inside a spinning box.

I found myself on the main street by which I came and went to school. A bus came by. I took it and went downtown though with no particular goal in my tortured mind. I ended up at the end of the line in the southern part of the city, got off and began walking back toward downtown eight or ten blocks away.

It was cold. A light wind made it colder. I pulled my unbuttoned coat tight around me. By the time the scent of sea water reached me as I passed the harbor, my thoughts were more orderly though no less unhappy.

My insistence on battling my father at every turn was to a great extent responsible for the death of my grandfather. Rowley was right about heart attacks happening when they were going to. My grandfather hadn't followed the prescribed diet to prevent one. But he well might have survived it had he not been in his car, probably hurrying to come to my aid, due to my pigheaded resistance to Rowley's demands.

But the root cause of it all was my father's unreasonable insistence that I live with him. He didn't like me, didn't approve of me, certainly didn't appreciate anything about me. So why the insistence that we share the same house? It would have been easier for both of us if we had no contact with one another.

Was my mother behind it? That didn't seem likely as she knew our proximity was a guarantee of conflict, often violent.

If he would just leave me alone, forget I existed, we'd both be so much better off. I could go to a public high school and a state college. Basic expense money was no problem for me. I had plenty of places to live, plenty of people who loved me, cared enough to provide me a home.

The basic question of what to do at that point was unresolved, in fact, hardly dealt with by the time I reached the library and the warmth and security it had come to mean to me. Inside, I went to the literature section and sat at one of the thick wood tables and tried to forge a plan for the next two years of my life.

The librarian for that section, a kind, soft spoken young woman who by that time knew me fairly well, sat in the chair beside me.

'Anything special on that fertile mind of yours today?'

My smile took some forcing but was genuine once in place. I did like her. 'No, just thinking.'

'No classes today?'

It was a loaded question. I didn't want to lie to her but neither did I want to air any laundry. I shrugged my shoulders and hoped she let it go at that.

'Well, if there's anything you want, I'll be at my desk.' She pointed her thumb back over her shoulder.

I considered going to Bobby's and talking to Aunt Martha but knew she'd tell me to go home until I was sixteen. Bobby would be too busy to talk. I wondered if the photographer would be home and went to his apartment fifteen minutes away. He wasn't home. Hunger asserted itself. I had money in my pocket, more than enough for a meal but had disciplined myself to seek free food as much as possible. Running away was a distinct possibility. Funds had to be conserved.

I went to the park on the off chance a customer might be there and willing to spring for a meal and a few dollars for some sack time. There were lots of people, most off for lunch, but no faces I knew. Out the north end was a high priced restaurant I'd been taken to twice. I sat on the steps of the brownstone beside it and tried to look available and hungry.

After a while, a waiter came out with a customer and gave me a smile but nothing more. A short time later, a chunky man in a vest stepped through the door and stared straight at me. I stared back as pleasantly as the cold seeping up through my rear end would allow. The man raised an eyebrow then went back inside. A moment after, one of my older customers peered out and motioned me to come over. I was off the stoop and up to the entryway in fewer steps than there were stairs.

'Hungry, Tommy?'

'A little,' I lied.

'Well, join me and I'll fill you up', he said with a friendly leer.

Before the food he ordered came, the vested man sat at our table. 'So,' he said with a teethy grin, 'you're the famous Tommy Mack is so high on.' He spoke with an accent that sounded French but might have been put on.

I stuffed my hands between my legs and grinned back at both men, expecting to be filled and paid twice that afternoon.

He asked the standard questions about how old I was, where I lived and studied and how I was doing in school. Using my best English and sitting straight, I gave my standard deceitful answers though my grades were nearly as good as I claimed. François, as my friend called him, appeared appreciative of my answers and manner though skeptical of my claim to sixteen years.

'I'm small for my age,' was my response to his 'really?'.

'Mack tells me you have a wonderful, well developed body. Is that true?'

I grinned, trying to feign humility.

'Well, you are really very young for me but I'd love to see those muscles he's always raving about.'

With a tummy full of delicious meat strips and a variety of greens, I went off with the two men to Mack's apartment two blocks away. Mack, by the way, liked to fuck and was fairly good at it even though it seemed certain he was well past his seventieth year. At times he was faster than many but he was always kind and slipped five dollars into my pants pocket before we began.

François was suitably impressed with my upper body but impatient to see it all. 'And the rest of you?' he said before I could finish undressing.

'Divine!' he said three times as he caressed my buttocks. 'Well, looks like I'm going to be a cradle robber just like Mack. Do you mind?'

I should have asked to see what he had in his pants before I agreed so enthusiastically. He was hung like Fish, not so long but very fat. It came out of his pants ready to go, at least as thick as anything I'd ever had in me if not thicker, the kind I insisted on sitting over rather than allow the owner to just push it in.

I took the diplomatic approach. 'You are very big, Mr. François. Let me suck it first.'

He smiled at Mack, who was also undressing, and put his thick body up on the broad bed. His equally thick cock barely fit in my mouth. I worried I wouldn't be able to take it and hoped to take him to fruition with my lips.

Mack sat his skinny frame on the side of the bed, oil bottle in hand, and watched me work. I was giving François my special. My head went not just up and down but side to side and around while my hands worked his hairy thighs, abdomen, balls and perineum. Though I tried, he wouldn't allow my finger access to his hole. Perhaps he knew what I was up to.

Eventually, he sat up and began caressing my buns again, his fingers dipping deeper and deeper with each pass of his hand. I felt his hand leave me for a few seconds then return, slippery enough to slip down and deftly inside me. He went right for my prostate, massaging it gently, making me hard as a pepper gin.

He tugged and pushed on my hole, obviously prepping it for a much larger digit.

Finally, he leaned over and whispered, 'Enough of that, let us go for the golden ring.'

It was time to take control. 'You are very big, sir. Let me sit on it. If I can't get it in, I'm very smooth between my legs.'

'Oh, I'm sure you're large enough for me. I'll go in very slowly, don't worry.'

That was a promise too often broken. 'Please, sir, as soon as it's all the way in, we can roll over and you...'

'Would ten dollars help this first time? I do promise to go very slowly.'

Mack piped in, 'Don't worry, Tommy, he's very gentle.'

Concerned it might be a mistake but desirous of pleasing this new and apparently well heeled customer, I slid off and lay face down, my legs apart.

I saw Mack hand him the bottle and felt the bed move as François oiled himself up. The bottle went back to Mack and François straddled me. His great cock pushed between my cheeks and pressed against the opening. I tried to relax as much as possible. The pressure increased. The huge uncircumcised head stretched my sphincter. When it began to hurt in earnest, I reached back and pushed my hand against his hip. He stopped but held his ground. I took a few deep breaths while my muscle opened and the pain subsided. I withdrew my hand. He lowered himself on top of me, holding himself up on his elbows and pushed gently forward. It brought back memories of Kenny's huge dong nearly splitting me apart on my twelfth birthday.

However, this time, my well used hole was up to the intruder. Seconds later, I felt the head slide in then plow forward into my rectum, past my prostate and up into me. I let out a long breath and awaited what was to come, hoping he wouldn't take too long. But, François was a connoisseur, hardly in a hurry to end the feeling of what was probably one of the tighter asses he'd ever been inside.

At first, he slowly rolled around, as deep inside as he could, pushing my innards in every possible direction, a not entirely unpleasant experience for me. The fucking came as an extension of the rolling. He barely pulled out at first, even stopped occasionally though never completely. There was always enough movement that I'm sure he was able to maintain a level of excitement in his member.

François fucked me for at least twenty minutes before allowing himself to reach a climax that, though there was some expansion, didn't hurt as I expected. At the end, he got back to just rolling around inside as he fired off what seemed like quite a large load.

Mack quickly took his place when François then flaccid cock slipped out with no help from either of us. Mack too took quite a while, twice what he usually did, probably because I was so stretched. His orgasm was far more violent than François'. He shook with each discharge while trying to masturbate me. François nudged us over and sucked me masterfully, taking me over the top before Mack was completely unloaded.

When he had taken the last drop of my sperm, Francious slid up beside me and whispered, 'That was the delicious elixir of a fourteen year old. Am I right?'

I could only grin.

After showering, dumping and making a date for the following week, I went back into the cold November afternoon, still undecided what to do. The additional fifteen dollars in my pocket was assurance that I could survive quite comfortably as a runaway. By sharing expenses, I could stay with one of the other teens I'd gotten to know on the meat rack, at least two of whom were runaways themselves though one and two years older than me.

The question was whether I wanted to fall two years behind with my education and then go to institutions with far lower standards than where I was currently studying. I really needed to talk to someone not so much for their counsel than to help me clarify my own thoughts. The obvious person was Freddy.

It was a work afternoon so I went to Edward's. Freddy listened to what I'd learned about my grandfather coming to help me on my birthday, my feelings of guilt and fury at my father for his part in the tragedy, and agreed to stay at Bobby's but I had to clear it with his mother who was working there at that hour.

I listened to Aunt Martha's lecture on the importance of not interrupting my education. She hugged me at the end, probably knowing that she may not have convinced me. Bobby eyed me with concern during her discourse but was too busy to join in.

At six, I called my mother to tell her I wouldn't be home that night but would be in school in the morning and be with her the following afternoon.

'But, dear, your father will be furious. Where are you?'

'With a friend.'

'Oh, dear, Malcolm, you really should come home immediately. I can pick you up if you'd like. Why...'

'I'll be home tomorrow.' I hung up to prevent myself from making the accusation of my father's guilt in the previous week's tragedy. By that time, I was putting most of the blame for my grandparent's death on my father, rejecting more and more the painful guilt that had plagued me all that day.

When Freddy arrived at a quarter to nine, I had convinced myself, superficially at least, that the bulk of the blame for the loss of my grandparents fell full on my father. Had he not been forever looking for ways to hurt me, prove his assertions about me, my grandmother would be fine, my grandfather home recovering from his heart attack. I was ready to pour out reason after reason for not returning home. The two years wouldn't be a total loss as I could study at the library and earn enough money to pay for a good high school when the time came. My father's attacks would continue and likely end up with me taking off anyway.

Freddy headed it all off before I could get out a complete sentence.

'Damn, Maacum! Just ignore the son-of-a-bitch. Do what he says and ignore the bullshit. Damn! None a this is gonna bring back your granddaddy. And you know he'd be telling you to just go to school and ignore your father. It's just two years. We got around him for seven years so far. Two more ain't nothin'.' He hugged me.

'You run away again, I know what you're gonna be doin'. What if you get grabbed by the cops or catch some disease or somethin'. Why don't you just come work at Edward's. That way we'll be together some days, Saturdays all the time, and you won't be getting in trouble and you'll be away from the house a lot.'

'He'll never let me work there with you.'

'Maybe not, maybe he will. Get your mother to talk to him. It's a good job. I made sixty-nine dollars last month. That ain't what you make with that big ass a yours but I don't gotta worry about cops or the clap or somebody seeing me that knows my mother. Just go home tomorrow and say you're sorry and don't say nothin' about it's his fault about nothin'.' He paused. 'Damn, Maacum. I don' wanna lose you. You're my brother and I love you.'

Those last words were the ones that sent me home after school the next day. Mother was there. I apologized for the previous day's absence saying I was just too sad to be around my father but would not do it again without permission. She went on about how things could be different, blah, blah. The same old song and dance. I begged off to rake the dirt and gravel road down to the barn and clean out the trash from the bushes lining the sidewalk out front.

Strangely, my father said nothing when he came home, not even at the dinner table. The talk was of a trip he had planned with my mother for the Thanksgiving holiday. I was to stay with my aunt. I didn't mention that I expected Georgie to arrive the following Wednesday evening.

Saturday morning, things got back to form. Mother passed on an order to clean the main and both small porches. That was going to take all day. A customer would be waiting for me downtown at three. I started early, working furiously, and debated all morning what to do. The large porch was done by eleven thirty. I did the back porch, running out of detergent in the process. At two, I showered quickly and was on my way to the streetcar turnaround by two twenty. There was no streetcar so I hitchhiked to the trolley line and made it downtown by three ten. My trick was waiting.

Usually on Saturdays, I'd have gone for at least three customers but made do with two, begging a ride to my part of town from the second, luckily, a guy with a car. It was dark so I played with his dick all the way as a way of saying thanks. I'd have sucked him too but his cock had been up my ass and he'd only done a cursory cleanup.

I stopped at the grocery store and bought detergent. When my father coldly wanted to know why I hadn't finished the middle rear porch, I held up the box of detergent.

'I ran out of detergent. I'll do it after Mass. You owe me thirty-eight cents.'

He glared for a moment then fished the coins out of his pocket. I handed him the invoice.

After shitting out the afternoon's receipts, I worked out, showered and ate dinner in the kitchen with the new white maid. No one objected.

Sunday morning, I went to Mass then ate my breakfast in the kitchen. Again, there was no objection. The middle porch was clean by two, including the broad stairs leading up to it and the windows, inside and out, on all three sides. Without saying a word, I went to Freddy's.

Freddy thought I was asking for trouble by being so independent.

He could have been right but, 'If I let him run my life, well, he won't let me out ever. I'll do his chores, but that's all.'

'You ask him about working at Edward's?'

'Freddy, that's just going to make him mad.'

With my aunt's permission, I slept Wednesday night with Georgie and Freddy at Bobby's. Georgie was horny, complaining of having his hand as his only sex partner, and screwed me twice that night with his growing cock, then as big as mine. We had turkey dinner at Freddy's, went to the black business district to hear a jazz band playing Saturday afternoon at a club there and to the park Sunday where we met Freddy's girl friend's family. Freddy made do with holding hands.

Charles Rowley didn't bother me about the tests the following week. Nor were they mentioned by my father or my homeroom teacher. In fact, other than occasional chores ordered via my mother, contact with my father was minimal and unremarkable right up to the Christmas holidays which he planed to spend in Europe with my mother.

I became more relaxed, increasingly confident that the current modus viviendo could be maintained as long as I didn't rock the boat. Hustling was done mostly via dates thereby avoiding hanging around the meat rack where the cops had made sweeps twice during December. I only visited the Eastside scene twice through tng hanging around the meat rack where the cops had made sweeps twice during Deche end of the year primarily to arrange means of communication. One of the three johns gave me his telephone number. The other two set days, times and places where we could meet. They understood that there would be times I wouldn't be able to be there due to chores at home and other exigencies.

Georgie spent most of the holidays with us, going out on three of my dates, earning two bucks a pop for received blow jobs each time, watching me get screwed twice. The last guy was probably proud of his nearly eight inches. I kind of liked it too.

Georgie also echoed Freddy's admonitions to ignore anything my father did or tried to do. 'He's a piece of shit. Just ignore him like Freddy says. In less than two years, you'll be living with Aunt Martha.'

New Year's Eve, Georgie opted to be in the middle with Freddy fucking him while he let Freddy's motion push him in and out of me. Unfortunately, he came well ahead of Freddy and the moment of year change. I was the only one to get off on the minute carefully wanking myself with an ear to the countdown from New York broadcast over my new radio, a Christmas gift from Freddy.

Freddy turned fifteen in March. Bobby catered a wing ding of a party there at his house. Freddy's girl friend and a few others from the park crowd came. Spike, the one guest I was concerned about fit in just fine. Apparently, he considered Freddy a friend. Simon, on the other hand, left early after eating silently. It was the last time I saw him for quite a while.

Bobby lost a couple of customers and had to put up with nasty remarks for weeks to come. Someone threw a rock through his rear window and another painted 'Nigger Lover' on his front door. Brown vs. The Board of Education wasn't a popular Supreme Court ruling with neighborhood residents.

I'd lost a few customers over the first quarter of the year too though mostly because quite a few were always on the lookout for new meat. Others, like Mack, François and the photographer were quite happy to see me each week. The photographer had become a friend of sorts, happy to listen to my travails and concerns, there to offer counsel though it tended to be the old standard stay in school and work hard sort of tripe. Nonetheless, I felt comfortable with him, and, increasingly, François.

The Frenchman, yes, a genuine Frank, was always interested in my schoolwork, insisting I bring my books along whenever we got together, usually Wednesday afternoon's. I learned that the restaurant where we met was his and he usually preferred eighteen to twenty-five year olds a couple of whom I met, one who I knew from the meat rack. His English was very good to a great extent due to his prolific reading. He had quite a library in his apartment over the restaurant, perhaps over a thousand books. When I told him of my plans to leave my father's home when I turned sixteen, he assured me that he'd help with the costs of my education right through college.

'You are a very bright boy and must learn all you can before you start working.'

He was into sexual experimentation, lots of different positions including some with me screwing him. We used different lubricants, some with aromas of everything from roses to cinnamon. My favorite position had me sitting on his lap, facing him, while he rocked in and out of me.

He liked me to do my exercises naked and oiled up in front of him before we got it on. His dick never softened during the forty minute work out.

However, my income had dropped and I needed to find some new clients. The meat rack hadn't been raided since the first of the year so, Holy Week, the first full week of April that year, I returned there and was picked up twice, the second time by a new customer.

Georgie was staying with Freddy and me at both Freddy's and Bobby's but opted to work with Freddy at Edward's rather than go hustling with me when I did. I wondered if he was worrying that it affect his sexual orientation. He didn't screw me until the second night though that might have been due to us staying at Freddy's the first.

Saturday night before Palm Sunday, once again free since my parents were in Europe, I scored three new customers, the second a young man with a new car who took me to his home not far from where my parents lived. He was obviously well off and really liked my muscles.

We got together three more times over the holidays. I debated telling him that we were neighbors but put it off until I knew him better.

Easter Sunday, we went to Aunt Martha's church and enjoyed the music and atmosphere then we all headed for the park for lots of food and softball. Freddy spent most of the afternoon with Linda, his by then serious girl friend.

My parents weren't to be home until Monday night late so I hit the downtown park then the meat rack to add to my swelling bank account which had just passed the two thousand dollar mark.

A customer I hadn't seen for months found me in the park and gave me four for a blow job. I had an early dinner with François who I knew didn't have time at that hour for anything more then headed over to the meat rack. I was alone for over an hour. A former customer, no longer interested in my well known body, waved as he drove by. Mark, an older hustler joined me for a few minutes. We compared earnings over the holidays. He got more than me, at least according to him, but it was somewhat believable. He was a very handsome seventeen with blonde hair and blazing blue eyes and willing to do whatever a customer wished. I found him attractive enough to hope for a liaison one day.

Two other kids, about his age, came on the block as we chatted. They were followed almost immediately by a police paddywagon. I had a library copy of Book One of 'The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire' with me and sat on the stairs, feigning reading it. The cops were unimpressed. One grabbed my arm.

'Hey!' I shouted, 'Let go of me. I didn't do anything.'

'Up on the van, kid or I'll lay the cuffs on you.'

The four of us were lined up, hands placed high on the side of the paddy wagon while the officers searched us. My book was taken out of my raised hand. Money, all I had on me, was taken out of my pocket then returned. The cop patted me down everywhere, even between my legs.

'All right, inside, pretty boys.'

I allowed myself to be led to the rear of the vehicle and then followed the three others inside. One of the teens kicked at the wire fence separating us from the officers in front.

'Do it again kid and you'll have a night stick instead of a cock up your ass tonight.'

I was terrified, not of the police but what would happen when my father learned of this. The boys who had been rounded up previously were back on the streets the next day. The under sixteens had to have a parent or guardian take them out of the police station. One I knew, a fifteen year old runaway, had a customer claim to be his uncle, a claim accepted when presented with a twenty dollar bill, or so he said. I had no one to call and my library card with my real name and address was in the book the officer had with him in front. I felt doomed.

At the station, I was taken to one desk among many on the second floor and asked the obvious questions. I continued to protest that I was just reading a book and had no idea why I'd been arrested.

'In the first place, kid, you ain't arrested. And don't never try to bullshit a bullshitter, Tommy.' He paused his two fingered typing and grinned at me when he said my street name. 'You been hustlin' on that corner since last year. I seen you plenty a times myself. An' don't think no fancy book's gonna fool nobody. Christ, you even got you a library card. Shoulda got it in some other name. You ever read any of the books I seen you carry around?'

'Of course.'

'Really. So what's this one about, smart guy?'

He opened it and leafed through the pictureless pages. He cut me off as soon as I mentioned 'The Golden Age of the Antonines' as the first chapter.

'Okay, I'm impressed. So just answer the questions and we'll get your old man to take you home.'

One of the questions was my phone number. I tried to reason with the policeman. 'Officer, my father will beat me half to death if you call him. He's already broken my ribs once. Please, just let me go home on my own and I promise I'll never go there again, please.'

'Yeah, an' Willy Sutton'll never rob no more banks. Anyhow, you oughta get your ass kicked for doin' that kind of shit. If you were mine, you wouldn't be able ta walk for a month. Now, what's your phone number?'

He threatened to have a patrol car go by the house and bring my father to us. Then he must have realized what kind of neighborhood I lived in. Shit, you're a rich boy. What the hell're you doin' hustlin'? You sure as hell don't need the money? You must like getting dicked up the ass. You queer or somethin'?'

I gave him the phone number but told him my father wouldn't be home until after nine. He locked me in a cage with two of the others and a drunk when no one answered.

The younger one said, 'That kid you was talking to? You see he's not in here with us? The motherfucker set us up. I see him on the street an' I'll kick his ass, the motherfucker!'

He didn't look like he'd be able to beat me much less a well built eighteen year old.

'They call your old man, Tommy?'

I nodded. 'He's not home yet, but they will. He's gonna kill me.'

'Shit, mine too. What's new?'

'Shut the fuck up, you two,' snarled the sixteen year old.

My father came into the room an hour and a half later, looking around until he spotted me. There was fury in his eyes. The officer talked to him for a few moments, had him sign two papers, then came to let me out.

I half expected a hit right there in the police station. Instead, my father walked out of the room.

The cop handed me my book and said, 'Move it, kid. Go with your old man.'

He followed me to the top of the stairs. My father was waiting halfway down.

'Hurry up, boy,' he said through his teeth.

The ride home was wordless until we started up the hill.

'Go straight to your room. Don't say a word.'

I complied meekly. There was nothing else I could do or say, no reason to argue or even blame him. Deny and lie was not an option. The dark concern was what he was planning. I had no doubt he would do something. The only hope was a restrictive punishment that would have a defined end. However, it seemed sure he would be seeking a way to prevent me from ever hustling again. Military boarding school was a distinct possibility. Whatever, I wasn't going to like it. Worse, running away didn't seem the option any more. Hustling was my expected source of income as a runaway, a source that was far more fraught with danger than I'd expected. Were I to be caught again, the police reaction might by itself be more grievous. My father's reaction would be horrible. I felt trapped in a dilemma with no solution, other than my sixteenth birthday.

I expected mother to come in all distraught but she didn't appear until it was time to take me to school. She didn't speak until we were well on the way.

'How could you? What if some reporter had seen you and found out you weren't some urchin from some wretched family. Oh, Malcolm, why?'

Her words liberated me, temporarily. Embarrassment was her only concern. The difficulties of being homosexual didn't concern her. Crap, I thought, I was picked up by the police for hustling. It really had nothing to do with being queer. Girls were nabbed for the same thing. I suppressed the disconnected response on my tongue.

'I'm sorry,' came out on its own. It kind of surprised me.

'Good God! I hope so. Your father is very upset. He's calling the school to arrange for you to take the bus back and forth, and you better be on it or, I don't know. How could you?'

I tried to bury myself in my studies all day. Tommy, Francis and the others knew something was wrong but I shrugged my shoulders at their inquiries and kept my nose to the books. The only consoling thought that day was that a restrictive punishment, taking the bus every day, was apparently my only punishment rather than being sent off to a boarding school, or at least I hoped it was. I had expected a far more draconian response from my father.

His son was not only a fag, he was out on the streets selling his body to strangers, being arrested like a common whore, an street urchin from a wretched family as mother said. My only hope was humility and absolute obedience, at least for the time being.

I stood in line to take the bus. The driver let me off in front of the house. There was a note that I should clean out the basement. I changed clothes and got right to it, working until six. When I came down after showering and changing, my dinner awaited me in the kitchen. I didn't really want to see him either so that was fine.

There was no exercising that night, just study. High grades were a must.

I considered a night time visit to Freddy's but rejected that as too risky. Absolute obedience meant just that. It was my only hope.

Wednesday at lunch, I told Francis what had happened. He knew about my hustling and I had to talk to someone.

'What's your father say? He's got to be pissed, real pissed.'

'Nothing, really. But he's got me restricted to the house when I'm not in school. I gotta take the bus back and forth. I hope that's all.'

'What else can he do? You're not going to court or anything, are you?'

'No, the cop even said I wasn't arrested, just, detained or something. I don't know. I just hope this is all.'

It wasn't.

Friday morning early, before I normally got up, my father appeared in my bedroom with two men in white clothing.

'Malcolm, wake up and get dressed. You're going for a ride.'

For an instant, I thought I was having a dream. A ride? My father never took me for rides. The two men in white stayed near the door. I sat up, trying to piece together what I was seeing. Why were the men wearing white? One of them held something made of thick fabric. It had straps hanging down.

'Let's go, Malcolm. This is going to be good for you, for everybody.'

I was still groggy. Nothing was making sense. I looked from the men to my father. He was standing back from the bed.

'Now, Malcolm! Get up. You brought this on yourself.'

Everything jelled. These men were there to take me somewhere, somewhere I wouldn't like, a place where I'd probably be locked in. I tensed and looked to the windows, calculating if I could withstand a dive through one. They still had storm windows behind them. I'd be cut to pieces and probably hurt myself too much to run after falling off the porch roof to the walk below. I wouldn't be able to stop myself.

I started to get up. The men in the doorway straightened. The son-of-a-bitch was locking me up. Men in white worked in hospitals. This would be a mental hospital. I'd heard of places where homosexuals were locked up, kept away from the public they threatened, out of sight, forever. I would go down fighting, kill my father if I could. Why not? I had nothing to lose. My freedom was gone no matter what.

My clothes were on my dresser in the far corner from my desk. I walked there slowly and started pulling out clothing, all the while thinking of what I could use as a weapon, a lethal weapon, a fast kill lethal weapon. There were scissors in my main desk drawer.

I tossed my pants and shirt over the chair at my desk then went to it and sat to pull on my socks.

'Why are you doing this?' I asked more to stall for time than anything else. 'Does mother know?'

'Just get dressed.'

I stood and pulled on my shirt then leaned over like I was adjusting it. I pulled open the drawer. The scissors were in front of me. No one was moving behind me. I took them in my right hand and stood up like I was going to button my shirt. I took a deep breath. This might be my last act as a free person. I had to do it right. Go for his heart from the side, hope I got between his ribs. I had to get his arm up.

I turned hard and swung for his face. He raised both arms and leaned away, blocking the blow. I swung the scissors from below. He started to fall back. The scissors struck but didn't go in. They were stuck in a bone. I yanked them out and charged, jamming the scissors into him again. It felt like they went in. I pushed hard as I could. He turned as he fell. I fell on top of him, the hand with the scissors was losing its angle, its force.

Hands grabbed me from behind, dragged me off my father, threw me face down to the floor. Someone fell on top of me, holding my arms upward. A pair of hands grabbed my left arm. One of the men sat hard on my left shoulder. I tried to roll out from under. When that didn't work, I kicked up but there was no one there. The scissors were pried out of my hand.

'Look, kid. I don't wanna hurt you but I will if I have to. Now, calm down! Calm down!'

'You little bastard!' shouted my father.

'Fuck you! You motherfuckers!' I screamed as loud as I could. 'I...'

A hand grabbed the back of my neck and squeezed, hard. The pain was excruciating.

'Calm down, kid, now!'

A foot connected with the side of my gut. It had to be my father.

'Fuck you, you son-of-a-bitch!'

The foot connected again.

I struggled but quickly knew I was beaten. These two men knew how to handle a fourteen year old, even one who worked out. I relaxed. Something slid over my left arm. It was the straight jacket. They forced in my other arm and rolled me over on my back. I didn't fight them.

When they had me on my feet and were strapping me in, I stared at my father. He was looking at where I'd stabbed him.

One of the men sat my father on the bed and examined his wound. Blood was on the side of his shirt, but not very much.

'Next time I'll do it right.'

'No next times for you, boy. You're gone, for good.'

'Unh uh. One day, I'll get out. One day.'

He looked at me, off to one side, then back. An expression entered his face I'd never seen on him before. It was fear. He knew I was right, that I'd find a way to escape. He was afraid. I spit at him but missed his face. He turned his head away.

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