Jamie's Gift

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 3

"I felt the while a pleasing kind of smart.
The kiss went tingling to my panting heart.
When it was gone, the sense of it did stay;
the sweetness cling'd upon my lips all day,
like drops of honey, loth to fall away."

(John Dryden)


Loving to run,
Running to love

The walk to school that morning was the most pleasant, beautiful and relaxing journey to school I ever had, all because of Jamie Long! He held my hand and I held his and I didn't care who saw it or how they felt about it! Just having him with me seemed to wipe away any worries or cares I had, except caring for him. Knowing he was in the school building would make my day much more enjoyable, fulfilling, and ripe with anticipation! I was looking forward to Art class, Choir, lunch, and hopefully running with him. That proposition, however, just might be a bit of a problem since we didn't know if he wanted to, if Chief Kraft would let him (after all, we did have somewhat of a sullied reputation as far as he was concerned we thought), or if Coach Schroeder would think it wise.

The other three Horsemen were waiting for us in the cafeteria. We put our back packs on a table and started through the self-serve line. Our breakfasts are buffet style so we're allowed to pick and choose what we wish and are charged a standard rate to our food service debit cards. It makes it easy for the food service staff to fix a breakfast for us, but I sort of pick and choose what days I want to eat at school. Today, I opted for a small scoop of scrambled eggs, a couple of sausage links, a couple of scoops of fresh fruit, a carton of orange yogurt, and a carton of one percent milk.

Jamie, standing right behind me almost mimicked me in what I chose, except for the sausage links. I asked him why no sausage, and he responded quickly,

"I like sausage patties better; Grandpa Long says the links look like fried dog peckers!"

"Fried what?" snorted Scottie almost dropping his tray.

"Peckers, but my cousins call them 'doggie dicks'."

Okay, I ate mine right away to get them off of the plate! The other three Horsemen didn't take any; I guess the thought of munching on fried dog peckers just didn't appeal to them either! We headed to our table, found a seat, and sat down to enjoy our breakfast, I hoped! I really like orange yogurt, so I opened mine and scooped up a spoonful, poked it my mouth, and savored its taste as I swallowed it.

Jamie seemed a bit hesitant about trying his once he opened the container.

"You know what that is, Jamie?" I asked wondering if he'd ever had any before.

He nodded, "Clabbered milk!"

"What's 'clabbered milk?'" asked Chris, full of curiosity but also just a touch of angst, hoping it wasn't something really, really yucky that might make him barf, especially after the dog pecker remarks! Chris has a particularly touchy stomach sometimes; like, if he'd break through the toilet tissue while wiping his ass and it was a bit sticky, he just might toss his cookies!

"This stuff!" Jamie answered and popped a spoonful in his mouth.

His eyes widened, he withdrew the spoon, and Chris prepared to bolt from the table just in case Jamie might consider spewing! I didn't think Jamie had that "I think I'm going to throw up look" on his face, but, hell, you never know and Chris wasn't going to take any chances, so I asked him if there was a problem with the yogurt.

Jamie licked his lips and shook his head no; "I never had it with orange stuff in it. It doesn't taste like the kind Grandma Long makes. This is better although hers is pretty good too. Sometimes she'd put pears or peaches she'd canned in it and once in a while some sweet cocoa."

Chris settled back down at the table, a relieved look on his face.

"Just where did you live, Jamie," Derrick asked, "where people called yogurt 'clabbered milk' and made it themselves?"

"On a farm," Jamie answered, "in Caudry, Missouri with Momma and Grandma and Grandpa Long. It wasn't a very big farm I don't think, but we raised everything we needed. We had a couple of milk cows, some beef cows, pigs, chickens, and some ducks and geese. We had a really, really big garden and some apple, pear, cherry, and peach trees in the orchard," as he finished the yogurt and started on the fruit and eggs.

"Grandma Long used to make biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast sometimes," he said with an almost wistful yearning in his voice. "They were so yummy even without the sausage gravy with just butter and grape jelly on them. Sometimes we had oatmeal with thick cream on it and sometimes we had corn bread and syrup."

Jamie paused, sorting out a particularly red, plump strawberry from his fruit and plopping it into his mouth before continuing!

"Grandpa Long always said we didn't need a lot of money to live good! Momma worked in a lawyer's office in town so that helped, I think!"

With that remark, the rest of us just sat quietly, remembering how much we had and took for granted, while our new friend, my boyfriend I was beginning to think, had much less but was just, if not more, happy!

"Is that where you went to school before coming here?" Chris asked breaking the silence.

Jamie nodded, cleaning up the last of the fruit on his plate. "I rode a school bus to town to the high school and got on another smaller bus that took me to my school in another town not far away. My new daddy said I wouldn't have to do that here and he was right!"

"Jamie," I said, slipping my arm around his waist, "I think Chief Kraft should be called just "dad" or "daddy" since he's not really your "new daddy" now you're here with us and he's married your mom. Right?"

Jamie grinned, pleased we'd think it was okay for him to do so, but added, "That'd be nice; I never knew my real daddy so I saw Art Kraft as my 'new daddy.'"

Our conversation was interrupted by Coach Schroeder stopping at our table.

"Did the Horsemen have a good run this morning?" he asked.

Scottie smiled and replied, "Sure did Coach and we plan on running again in the morning, but," and he stopped.

"But, what, Scottie?"

Chris piped up instead; "Would it be okay with you if we asked Jamie if he wanted to run with us?"

Man, that brought Jamie to instant attention, eyes wide, big shit-eating grin across his face, and opened his mouth as if to say something, but I interrupted, saying, "Only if he wants too and if his dad would agree!"

Jamie was damned near beside himself, he was so excited to think we WANTED HIM to run WITH US! "I'll ask my dad," he chirped up.

"I already spoke with Dean Kraft earlier this morning," Coach Schroeder interjected, "and he thinks it'd be a great idea, if you boys don't mind."

"We don't mind," we all chimed.

Coach Schroeder's announcement concerning speaking with Dean Kraft struck a happy chord with all of us, especially me! Jamie was just as excited, but I could also see some confusion on his face. As we left the cafeteria, Jamie and I walked to his room and locker, leaving the others to find their way to their own. Jamie stopped in the hall near his locker, pulled me close so he wouldn't have to speak too loud, but I also suspect he just liked having me close to him; I know I did!

"Whit," he asked breathing softly in my ear, causing my lower section to become instantly alert and standing at attention, "why did Coach Schroeder call my daddy, 'Dean'? His name is 'Art!'"

I had to take a leak, so I motioned him to follow me to the boys' restroom down the hall. While we stood at the urinal, cocks out, me pissing almost straight up so I had to bend the little soldier in order to hit the urinal, and him not, just holding it and looking at mine, I tried to explain why. He started to chub a little, his foreskin beginning to retract, viewing my fading erection, so I said,

"Jamie, pay attention to what I'm saying and stop licking your lips and staring at my cock!"

"But I like looking at it! I'd really like to touch it but it'd be wrong to do here in the toilet. Some other boy might get mad and punch me!"

Maybe that's happened before I wondered? Who was I to talk, I could barely keep my hands on my own and off of his, much less my eyes. I just wanted to snuggle up to him, lick and kiss him all over, and taste the soft, warm flesh of his foreskin before slipping my mouth over the hardening shaft and bring him to a mouth-filling explosive orgasm! But that wasn't to happen here and I didn't know if it would ever happen! What I wanted and what I got may be two different things, but I doubted it! I resolved to take my time and let Jamie begin to love me the way I was starting to love him.

It took some doing, but I was able to finally get him to understand his dad and Derrick's dad were "Deans," as in a title like Mr. or Mrs. and only had something to do with their jobs and not their names. It finally dawned on him when I said, "It's like calling a minister 'reverend,' okay?"

Jamie nodded his head, thought a minute as he slowly stroked his stiffening cock, and replied, "Daddy's still the Chief' too, isn't he?"

"Yep; put your cock away before you can't," I said with a snicker.

Jamie looked down at mine saying, "You're getting stiff again, too, Whit."

By god I was so I tucked it into my pants and Jamie sort of hunched over so he could clear the zipper in his and put his own stiffness to bed, gave each other a hug and headed for our first classes.

During Art class that day, Jamie stayed in his usual place, near the front and close to a window, but during Choir, he asked the choir director if he could sit next to me and the teacher approved it. After all, we're both tenors!

Our walk home after school was nice, just the two of us, young men in love, I thought or at least I hoped, holding hands, talking about school, running in the morning, and just anything that came into mind. We had to stop several times for Jamie to investigate something of importance; once a bird's nest in a low lying shrub and another time the way the sunlight backlit an oak tree. He could always find something that seemed to fascinate him, studying it as if he was committing what he saw to memory!

At his door, I wanted to kiss him, his lips were so inviting, light pink, moist from his tongue, a quirky almost inviting smile on his face, and a twinkle in his eye. Man, Jamie Long could turn me on so fast it was unbelievable! I refrained, but I wasn't certain how long I could hold out!

His goodnight call came at the same time, nine o'clock, which I figured must be his bedtime or at least time to get ready for bed, but it ended much differently.

"Whit," he asked, "see you in the morning?"

"Yeah, Jamie; I'll drop by at six."

"Whit?"

"Yeah, Jamie!"

"Goodnight!"

"Goodnight, Jamie!"

"Whit?"

"What, Jamie?"

"I love you!"

My heart damned near burst with joy at his words! I so much, at that moment in time, wanted to hold him, kiss him, feel his warmth against me, and indulge myself in the pleasure of just being with Jamie Long, but distance and the hour prevented it, so I responded,

"I love you too, Jamie," adding, "and always will!"

He was waiting, sitting on the front steps, dressed in tee-shirt, running shorts, and running shoes. The first thing I noticed, after his bright welcoming smile, he didn't have a jock on and the end of his pecker poked out from the right leg of his shorts. Did you ever walk by a bakery or a candy shop where they made fresh candy and fudge and the aroma of something sweet and delectable wafted out into the air, making your mouth water and desire to consume whatever making that smell just about overwhelm you? Looking at Jamie Long did that to me!

He was up and on his feet quick as a cat and had his arms wrapped around me, hugging me tight in greeting! I was learning Jamie was a very tactile person, seeking and enjoying the closeness of body contact, hugging, touching, having an arm around me or mine around him, holding my hand, and I loved it! I would've continued the hug, but we had to run to school to join the other three.

Breaking free, I hollered with a laugh, "Let's go, Jamie," and we took off jogging down the street, heading for school. He kept pace with me, talking about how his daddy really was happy about him running with me and the guys and how happy his momma and daddy were I was his friend. I was pretty damned happy myself to have Jamie for my friend as well!

They were waiting for us and after a brief, "good morning" and a couple of fist bumps, Scottie outlined our run.

"We're going to run neighborhoods this morning," he said quietly, "since Jamie is new and we don't want to over stress his legs."

It was the nice way Scottie had in saying things that made him a great track leader. He was telling us we didn't know how well Jamie could run and we didn't want to embarrass him if he couldn't keep up, so pace ourselves. In the back of mind, I didn't think we needed to worry, but I've been wrong many times in my young life!

Off we went; up through campus, back into the city streets and avenues near campus, running so we faced traffic if we should meet any. As we ran, Jamie chattered, asking questions, wanting to stop, but didn't, to look at something he found interesting, asking me if we could walk that way home sometime to see the "whatever" again. Before we knew it our run was over and Jamie seemed no worse for wear.

Jamie and I jogged the back to his house and I told him I'd be back down to pick him up for breakfast after he showered. I did, and our day began as another delightful day with Jamie ever since -yesterday?


We ran all week and not once did Jamie falter! In fact, he seemed to delight in running and didn't seem to get winded or wear out! On Friday, Scottie announced we'd run the cross country route we ran for home races and for track practice; from campus, down to the county park, along the Little Poplar River (which we all called "Little Pee Creek"), and circling around, back to campus along another jogging path. Ordinarily, the freshmen cross country team ran the junior varsity length of just a little over two miles and the varsity team ran a little over three miles, but today, Scottie decided we'd run the varsity length.

We ran and visited, as we had all week, learning Jamie had numerous cousins, his mother was the youngest of four - three older brothers; he did have some girl cousins, but most of his cousins were boys and older than he was; he didn't like the school he'd gone to because "some of the kids were mean and say nasty things," and "another boy would poop his pants during lunch time when he was served something he didn't want to eat," and "teacher would make him sit on the pot before lunch," but "It didn't do any good," Jamie said in exasperation as we ran.

He didn't have physical education like we did or ever shower naked with people he didn't know; the nearest movie theatre was in a neighboring town; he didn't have a cell phone or a laptop like he had now and his new daddy was teaching him how to use both.

As we jogged along the Little Pee River, Jamie matter-of factly- stated there were only three of his cousins who had a bigger cock than he did.

"I can believe that," muttered Chris, "you're hung like a horse!" but we kept running.

I was fearful Jamie would ask, "You want to see?" I already had a hard-on from earlier and now, watching his cock flopping about, up and down, back and forth, in his running shorts as his legs and feet hit the ground didn't make it wilt any. I really should tell him to wear his jock strap, but really didn't want his magnificence contained!

When Jamie asked why we called the river the "Little Pee" and Scottie explained it, he thought it was hilarious once he put it altogether. Once decided in his mind, Jamie explained his older cousins would take him skinny dipping in the river that wasn't too far from his grandparents farm; "that's going swimming without any underwear on," he advised, knowledgeably, not certain, I'm sure, we'd understand the term; of course we did, but acted enlightened anyway!

"But you had to watch out!" he announced seriously.

I fully expected him to say one of his older cousins would step up behind him, bend him over and shove a hard pecker-boat up his butt hole heading for a boat landing or port, or put him on his knees and ask him to open his sweet lips and make like a large-mouth bass and take the bait, but he didn't. Instead he told us how sometimes the little sunfish would try to nibble on his pecker as they swam.

"We go fishing there too," he continued, "and catch some big catfish. My cousins would clean them and give some to us and keep the rest, except I always got to keep the ones I caught, but if I caught more than they did, I shared 'cause they always shared with me. Grandma would deep fry the pieces of catfish and we'd have catfish and hush puppies."

"You ate baby dogs?" squealed Chris, clearly aghast and gagging at the thought!

"No, you silly goose," Jamie jibed, "they're made out of corn meal and really, really good. I don't think little puppies would taste so good."

After a few more strides, he added, evidently thinking it through, out of the blue, "Puppies are too cute to eat anyway."

About a block from school, where we intended to stop, Scottie said, "Let's see who can get to school first!"

I whispered to Jamie, "Run as fast as you can and I'll catch up!"

We thought he had a rocket up his ass! Jamie beat all of us by twenty yards or more, jumping up and down, giggling, laughing, pleased with himself, shouting, "I won!"

He most certainly did! Jamie wasn't the only one pleased with the outcome; we knew we had a real runner on our team!

Over the weekend, Jamie and I chatted back and forth over the phone, but didn't get together, much to my regret! His mom and step-dad took him shopping, had some errands to run, and go to church. Sunday was a day, it seemed, for family type of activities in his household, although I did know none of his step-dad's or his mom's family were in the area. I did give him a call Sunday night to remind him of track practice Monday after school. Coach Schroeder made it very clear to the Four Horsemen, Jamie was to be at practice and we were going to make certain he was.

Monday, on our walk to school, he was just as excited as I was about track practice starting. He'd been running the past week with us and, from his reaction and participation, just loved it! Of course, having him with me either running, walking, or on the phone made me feel pretty damned good too! We both chattered about how much fun cross country track would be for him running with the Horsemen.

"Can we have five Horsemen?" Jamie asked as we neared the school door.

"I don't think so," I answered carefully after thinking how I was going to answer the question without crushing him. His face fell at my answer, but I continued, "There were only the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse mentioned in the Bible, but there was no mention of the strongest and fastest horse of all time!"

His face brightened, his eyes full of wonder and excitement again. "How fast?" he asked.

"Oh, faster than greased lightning," I responded, using one of my father's phrases.

"Maybe faster than pig shit shooting down a drain spout?" he fired back.

"Jamie," I snorted with a laugh, "where in hell did you hear that?"

"Well," he began in his slow, almost southern drawl, "when I was young, my grandpa wasn't feeling very well, but he still had chores to do and I used to help him. We just finished gathering eggs- did you know hens peck the devil out of your fingers when you stick your hands under them to take their eggs?"

Not waiting for an answer, luckily since I figured anybody but Jamie sticking his hand or anything else he had attached to his body near my pucker would probably have a bloody nose, he continued, "Anyway, I heard grandpa say, 'Jamie hold the egg basket, I got bad tummy cramps,' and then said something like 'dammit' or something like that and POOPED HIS PANTS, standing right there in the barnyard!"

We both roared in laughter but he wasn't done and I don't think his grandpa was either.

"So, I says, 'cause I didn't want him mad at me, 'Grandpa, couldn't you hold it?' and he said, "Jamie, honey, it would've been like trying to stop pig shit shooting down a drain spout with a teaspoon!"

By the time he finished, we were outside his room and locker and I didn't have a chance to ask him what the consistency of pig shit was since I wasn't a farm boy or ever saw a pig shit, for that matter. Frankly, it wasn't high on my list of priority things to do in life!

As we parted to go to our classes, Jamie asked, "Whit, what is this most amazing horse called?"

"Pegasus," I replied over my shoulder, "I'll show you in Art class."

Jamie's first class of the day was reading and reading was the major source of his disability; that and math, plus being insecure, an introvert, bashful, slow in putting sentences together sometimes, especially if he was excited or frightened. I'd bet he'd fuss all through reading class and I'd probably regret not telling him more, but if he had problems reading, I could help him, if his folks approved.

I checked out a book on Greek Mythology with stories and several pictures of Pegasus in it from the library on the way to Art class. When I opened it and showed him the pictures of the winged horse, Jamie was just all agog! He asked me to read him the stories, but I begged off, promising to come over after supper when our homework was done, if my folks and his said okay.

During physical education we were introduced to the first student teacher of the school year, Mr. Delaney. He would also be helping Coach Schroeder with cross country track. For some reason, he struck me as a person who really didn't like kids. Mr. Delaney said very little during class, just watched. We heard, actually Derrick heard, Delaney had been a state champion cross country runner in high school, but didn't participate in the university team the whole three and a half years he was in college. When he did speak, it was with a gruff voice, with a not very friendly inflection!

The other three Horsemen agreed with me and thought it odd he hadn't been out for track while at the university. We thought once a runner always a runner, at least until they got old- like thirty or so! All Jamie said was, "I don't like him; he looks at me funny and I think he's mean!"

During track practice Coach Schroeder said he was going to have us run the cinder track at school for this week, so he could help evaluate our running style and make suggestions. There was about twenty-five or so out, so it would take some time. It also helped determine if everyone had the staying power to remain out for cross country.

After the first day of track as Jamie and I walked home, he asked if he could see where I lived. It wasn't far out of the way, so we walked to my house. We stood out front while he looked it over very carefully, smiled, and said "thanks" before we started on our way to his house. He stopped every time we crossed a street or turned a corner (fortunately, there weren't many) and looked back. I had a faint idea what was going through his head; he was forming a map in his head from my house to his and could follow it back once he had it stored away!

At his house I told him to check with his folks to see if I could come over after supper and give me a call if it was okay. I'd bring the book with me and we'd read the stories and look at the pictures. As I said goodbye, I did something I'd wanted to do ever since I met him; I leaned over and kissed him on the lips. It wasn't a very passionate kiss, just kind of a peck on the lips! It surprised him, but not enough to stop him from kissing me back!

That simple, short kiss electrified my very being, cementing me to Jamie Long for life! Never, never have I felt so happy, so humble, so in love and from the big grin on his face, Jamie was affected the same way! With a wave and a skip, I jogged home just delirious with happiness, my heart full and beating with the rapidity of a young lover. I kissed him and he kissed me back! Could life be any better than this?

Jamie called shortly after I arrived at home letting me know his mom approved, so I said I'd be over after dinner, around seven or so, and reminded him to get his homework done. He laughed and said he would, adding, just before he rang off, "I love you, Whit!"

"I love you, too, Jamie!"

I hustled around, practiced the piano, did my homework, asked my folks if I could go over to Jamie's after dinner, assuring them Jamie's folks approved, and promised to be home around nine. Putting the Greek mythology book in my backpack, tucked in a flashlight, just in case, and started off. It would be fairly light out until nine, but it never hurt to carry a light. I'd rather be looking like a dork, carrying a flashlight, than decorating the front grill of some truck or car who's driver didn't see me.

I rang the doorbell and Jamie answered, standing there in the open door, all giggly, happy, and so fucking beautiful! His mom stepped up behind him, gave me a nice smile when I said "hello," and followed Jamie down a short hall to the family room. I'd never been beyond looking in at the foyer from the lawn or porch before so I had no idea they even had a family room. It was toward the back of the house and overlooked their fenced-in backyard.

Jamie led me to a couch, I plopped my butt on it, opened the backpack, took out the book, set the backpack aside, and leaned back, ready to open it and read. Jamie sat beside me and with a questioning look on his face and seeing my nodding answer of approval, snuggled up beside me, lifting my arm over his head and shoulder so he could rest his head on my shoulder or breast while I read. I breathed deeply of him, smelling of boy, sweetness, a touch of cologne, and to me, damned erotic and lovely! I so much wanted to touch him, run my hands and fingers across his bare skin, feeling his nipples, lightly stroking his tummy, and finally reach down under his jeans and underwear until I encountered his stiffness and wrap my hand around it, if I could; but I resisted, remaining satisfied, if not slightly frustrated, with the contact we presently had!

He looked up at me, grinned, and breathed just as deeply of me, then really settled in, completely at ease resting on me, but anxious to hear the stories of Pegasus, the Winged Horse. I opened the book to the section I'd previously marked; the first page displayed a picture of Pegasus, white, large feathered wings extended, hooves darker than the body, legs angled as if he was galloping across the sky assisting the actions of his wings, so very elegant and graceful in every sense, soaring through the sky, Bellerophon on his back, legs locking him in place on the stallion's back, wrapped around his stallion, ready to do battle or journey in royal fashion, speeding onward to whatever destined by the gods!

We both looked at the picture; I tried to describe what I saw and Jamie, artist that I now know he is from art class, traced, with his finger, the various parts of the picture, the clouds, Bellerophon, and finally, Pegasus!

"Beautiful, isn't he!" he exclaimed softly.

"Just like you, Jamie," I responded, looking into his face and then his eyes when he looked up away from the picture. He blushed, smiled with embarrassment, pleased how I felt about him. When he didn't move his head, I took a chance, knowing his mother and possibly is step-father were not far away, and moved my lips to his, pressing against them, opening just a bit to allow my tongue to gently caress his soft, warm, moist lips in every declaration of love I could muster through this gesture. The only problem was, the action so inflamed me, the sensation shot right to my cock, bringing it tight up against my belt, but remained confined in my jeans. When I saw him squirm, reach down and adjust his own bulge, I knew the kiss had the same effect on him!

We separated, our mouths only, he scooched up as tight against me as he possibly could, while I read of how the Spring of Hippocrene or the Horse Spring came to be and how the Constellation Pegasus was named. I told him it was a collection of stars and I thought it must be quite magnificent to be named so.

"Can we see it?" Jamie asked.

"I'm not very good at astronomy," I admitted, "but there is an astronomy professor in the Science Department at the university who could help us, I think."

This necessitated a discussion of what Astronomy was and how it related to the stars, but I really didn't go into depth, not wanting to confuse him. He was satisfied there was a group of stars called "Pegasus," I thought he was beautiful, and someday we'd talk to someone who knew more about it and could show it to us.

I heard Jamie's mother, evidently answering a question from someone, say, "The boys are in the family room, Jack."

I had no idea who "Jack" was but when Chief Kraft poked his head in the door, I had a pretty good idea. This guy has more names than Campbell's® has soups!

"Hi, Daddy," Jamie said lifting his head from my breast, "we're reading about Pegasus, the Winged Horse. Whit says that's me when I run!"

Chief Kraft smiled in such a warm and loving way at Jamie, responding, "I'm sure you are," and left us alone.

We continued reading how Belleraphon and Pegasus were on the emblem of the British Airborne Forces in World War II and how Pegasus was used as a symbol of wisdom, fame, and poetry. When I finished, around eight thirty, I heard a soft snoring noise, causing my breast to sort of rumble where Jamie's head lay, warm against me. He rested in innocent slumber, safely on the breast of one who loved him deeply; he was one tired young stallion after school all day, track practice, and now our reading session!

I held the book on my lap and secured Jamie to me with my free arm and hand, cradling his head on my shoulder and breast so he wouldn't slip from me. It felt so right, feeling his breath entering and leaving his chest in a rhythmic, relaxed pattern as he slumbered, his warmth and closeness comforting me, but I knew it had to end; I needed to go home and he needed to go to bed.

I folded up the book and was about to wake him when Chief Kraft appeared in the family room doorway, saw us, and walked over.

Smiling at Jamie, he said softly, "Tired, isn't he?"

"Yes, Sir; track can make you real tired, especially the first few days until you get used to it!"

He nodded, almost knowingly, still smiling and for the first time, I noticed how much Jamie's smile resembled his. Maybe Scotty was right, but in this case, I was beginning to think strange thoughts and none of them made sense! After pausing a moment, he said, looking deeply into my eyes,

"You know, Whit, Jamie worships the ground you walk on! His mother and I can only hope you feel the same way about him. Jamie has some special learning problems to deal with and has come to grips and acceptance of a personal one as well. He really needs a close, close friend!"

My eyes teared up, my throat seemed to clench in sorrow or fear, perhaps both; I was so overcome with emotion. I struggled to speak, to answer Chief Kraft, wanting to tell him how much I loved Jamie Long, yet fearful he'd forbid me from ever seeing him again, if he knew I was gay and loved Jamie in that sense!

Mrs. Kraft walked in, frowned, seeing my distress, walked over, placed her hand on my shoulder, saying, "It's okay, Whit, we know how you feel about Jamie and he feels the same way about you, so feel free to speak to us, okay?"

I choked out, "Chief Kraft, Mrs. Kraft, there's nothing I wouldn't do for Jamie! I think he's the kindest, gentlest, most beautiful person in the world, and I'm so lucky to have him for my best friend. I'd never let anyone hurt him and would give up my life for him! Jamie is like a gift from heaven for me and …."

With that I just had to stop, so choked with emotion I just couldn't continue and Jamie was starting to shift around, getting ready to wake. Chief Kraft smiled a little more, nodding his head, as if assessing the situation, and reaching a conclusion before speaking softly, but kindly to me,

"You really love him, don't you, Whit?"

I nodded.

"His mother and I think of him as precious gift as well; one I've often thought since he joined us here I really don't deserve. I just want him to be happy and safe!"

The tears really flowed then, not from shame, not from fear, but because I loved Jamie Long and didn't care who knew, now his mom and step-father knew and were not angry, chasing me from the house and forbidding me to be with him. I knew life would be so difficult for me without him by my side or near me!

Chief Kraft, in a side I never realized existed in him, wiped my face and eyes with his handkerchief, saying, "Don't worry, Whit, we understand and know Jamie will always be safe with you and loved, perhaps more than we might realize!"

Jamie opened his eyes at that moment, looked up into mine and smiled, and then became aware of his folks presence, turned his head, and grinned at them.

"Jamie," I said, "it's time for me to go home and you to go to bed, okay?"

He nodded, extracted himself from my arms, stretched, yawned and stood up. I stood as well, gave him a hug, told him goodnight, gathered up the book, and my backpack and headed for the door. Chief Kraft accompanied me and asked if I needed a ride home, but I told him no since it wasn't far and I had a light. He seemed skeptical, but he also realized I knew my way around. Hey, any kid that could run around campus in his underwear should have more balls than just in his underwear!

Our walk to school the next morning was full of happy chatter concerning the stories of Pegasus, running cross country, and how he loved to run and used to when he lived with his grandparents. This, all while holding hands as we walked, and I loved it!

Cross Country practice was on the cinder track again; Coach Schroeder worked with some of the new runners on the other side of the track and our student teacher, Mr. Delaney, stood on the opposite side, singling out first one and then another boy, barking commands at them, brusquely ordering them to come to the side where he would talk to them, most often in a very aggressive manner. In a couple of cases the boys returned to the track their faces smeared with tears. Jamie would run closer to me each time it happened, seeking security and comfort in my presence!

"He doesn't like me!" Jamie would say. "He scares me!"

I made up my mind if Mr. Delaney called Jamie to the side, he'd have two of us to talk to. I'd made a promise to Chief Kraft and I intended to keep it. A person can be hurt mentally and emotionally as well as physically, and I'd try to save Jamie from each!

Neither Jamie nor I got called out until the third day of practice. Coach Schroeder announced it was our last day on the cinder track; starting the next day we'd be running on one of several routes the teams used.

About our third lap around the track, Mr. Delaney, barked out, "Long, get over here!" as we ran by. Jamie almost skidded to a stop and I did too! One look at Jamie's face showed me he was terrified! Tears were beginning to well up in his eyes and he started to shake.

"Long, I said, get over here; NOW!" growled Delaney aggressively loud.

Jamie reached for my hand and I grabbed it!

"Why is he mad at me?" Jamie began sobbing.

"I don't know," was all I could say and gripped his hand tighter.

"I just want to run with my friends," Jamie pleaded. "Whit, don't let him make me leave; I want to run with you and the Horsemen!"

Looking away from Jamie, I saw Delaney marching toward us like a little general full of himself! Anger on his face and determination in his stride, I thought then Jamie had every reason to be fearful, because this man was going to say something mean and toss Jamie's ass off of the track team! Delaney may have bitten off more than he could chew, I thought.

"What's the problem, Mr. Delaney," I asked calmly, still holding Jamie's hand.

"This doesn't concern you," he snorted, waving his hand, "take off and run if you can get the little queer to let go of your hand!"

There was Delaney's first mistake!

"Don't leave me, Whit," Jamie pleaded.

"I won't, Jamie!" and looked around, noticing the other three Horsemen and much of the squad were gathering around us.

"Oh, yes you will," sneered Delaney.

That was his second mistake!

"No, I won't, Mr. Delaney. Whatever you have to say to my boyfriend, you can say to me!"

"I'll be damned if this school is going to be represented by homos holding hands on the track team. Both of you report to the showers!" he snarled.

That was his third and final mistake!

The Literary works of Nicholas Hall are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America and are the property of the author.

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