Brian Goes To College

by Nick Brady

Chapter 17

Copyright © 2015-2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.

Monday came and Brian stopped to give Gunder a ride to class. Gunder walked out slowly and flopped into the car.

"Good morning. You're moving kind of slow this morning," Brian noticed.

"Yes, well I was up late last night," Gunder explained.

"Did your new friends keep you out too late?"

Gunder smiled sleepily, "Yes, they were showing me some places."

"I don't think this will be a tennis day for us."

"No, not today," He frowned, "and I think my friend will come by for me anyway."

"OK, that works out well. I have plans for this afternoon myself."

Gunder nodded but did not appear interested.

The short stories were passed back and Dr. Brown asked for the poems. Gunder took his story and looked at it with a snort. On Brian's paper were some red marks and the scribbled comment, 'Original idea'. He decided he would settle for that.

He arrived at the park on 41st Street a little early and waited for Lanny to show up. It occurred to him that Lanny might forget, but saw him step out of an old VW bus just after four-thirty. He waved and stepped out of his Santa Fe.

"Hey Lanny!"

"Oh, hi. Nice car, is that yours?"

"Yes sir. I like your VW. Not many of those around anymore."

Lanny laughed, "Not many running anyway. I bought it to fix up and have it running really well. The cosmetics are next."

"Are you doing the work yourself?"

"Yes, well these things aren't that complicated mechanically. I bought a shop manual and have sort of taught myself to work on it."

"I'm impressed. What do you plan to do with it?"

"I bought it for little or nothing. I thought if I could get it fixed up I could make a profit on it. Travel money, you know."

"Well good luck with that. I expect a nice one is worth something."

"I hope so. Are you ready for a walk?"

They started down the path and were silent for a few minutes.

"I hate to admit this, but I don't know your name, other than Lanny," Brian admitted.

"Oh, it's Walker, Lanny Walker. And yours?"

"Brian Montgomery. I took my parent's name."

"So, are you adopted?"

"Not legally, but since I plan to live with them from now on, we changed my name."

Lanny smiled. "There has to be a story there."

"Right," Brian laughed, "You want the short version or the long one?"

"Whatever you want to tell me."

"Well, the short version is that when I was in scouts I was helping with some cubs and got to know the parents of twin boys. I ended up staying with them, and they have sort of taken me in. I've been there for about five years now and that's become my home – my family."

"Where were you before? Not to pry, but do you want to tell me about that?"

Brian was reluctant to go into too much detail, but told him, "I just wasn't in a good place. My parents drank a lot and my father had left us. I didn't get on with my mother and was living with a grandmother. It wasn't a very good situation. When I met this family, I kind of started over."

"They had twin boys? How old are they?"

"They were maybe nine when I first met them. They're fifteen now."

"So are they like your brothers now?"

"Right, they are. Actually, I am rather fond of them. It's a nice family. Can you tell me about yours?"

Lanny laughed, "Kind of the generic family I guess. I have an older sister who is in grad school. My mom is a nurse and my dad is an auto mechanic. We do OK."

"Is he helping you with your VW?"

"Yes, he's getting a kick out of it I think. He had one when he was a kid."

"That sounds like fun."

"It is. I'm pretty lucky, really. We all get along. So what do your parents do? You said your dad was an artist."

Now Brian had to decide how he wanted to explain his family.

"Actually," he hesitated, "I sort of have two dads. My parents are a gay married couple. They adopted a pair of twins when they were four, and took me in when I was fourteen."

Lanny took this in without blinking. "I understood that Marco Montgomery the artist is Native American, right?"

"Right, his partner is Marty Montgomery. We have all ended up with his surname. He is a white guy like me and manages a group of computer programmers. They have been married for about ten years."

Lanny smiled. "Not exactly Ozzie and Harriet."

"Actually, we're a pretty normal family, in spite of what you might think."

"No, I think that's great," Lanny shrugged, "I have no problem with that at all. What are your twin brothers like?"

"Good kids really. They are Seminole like Marco and have gotten into dancing at powwows and stuff. They are really pretty good."

"Powwows? Like with costumes and everything?"

"Right, but call it regalia. Costumes sounds like Halloween and they are pretty serious about it. Marco has an aunt who makes some beautiful stuff with buckskin and beading. It's really nice."

Lanny looked over at him and smiled, "You sound like you're proud of them."

"I am. I think I am really lucky to be part of the family. It's the only real family I ever had."

"So do you dance too?"

Brian laughed, "No, I just watch. I do drum for them when they practice at home though. It's pretty cool."

They walked on for a few more minutes. "I don't guess I know any gay married couples. How does that work? I mean is one like the mother and the other like the father?" Lanny asked.

"Well, nobody wears dresses if that's what you mean. They are both very masculine. Marty has a good paying job with a lot of responsibility and works a lot of hours. Marco is a good cook and can set his own hours, so I guess he's the home maker, but it's not like you might think. Nobody who doesn't know them as a couple would guess that either one of them is gay. That's just how it is."

Lanny was smiling, "That's how it should be. I wish everybody could see that. That's cool."

Brian glanced over at him, "So you don't have any problem with gay people?"

Lanny laughed, "No, not at all."

"Why is that funny?" Brian asked.

Lanny shrugged but didn't say anything.

They walked a few minutes in silence. "I guess Louisa and Melissa thought we should get to know each other," Brian said.

Lanny nodded, "That's what I understand. Maybe they thought we had some things in common."

Brian hesitated, "Do we?"

"You mean besides being aspiring writers?"

"Yeah, besides that."

"Is this a personal question?" Lanny asked quietly.

"Only if you want it to be."

"Is this going to be an awkward conversation?"

Brian smiled. "Probably not. I think we both know where this is going."

Lanny laughed, "Probably so. Melissa knows me pretty well."

Brian took a deep breath, "Well I'll just come out with it. I'm gay. If you want to turn and run, go ahead."

Lanny shook his head, "Right, I guess we have that in common, but I don't think I've ever admitted that to anybody else before. Not even Melissa."

"Do you think she's figured it out?"

"Oh, probably. I don't think I fool her. But I'm not ready to tell the world yet."

"Me either. I mean Marco and Marty know because I guess I have to talk to somebody about it, and Louisa knows."

"How does she know?"

Brian shrugged. "Because I told her. She's kind of hard to keep secrets from."

Lanny nodded, "Right, but I think she's good about keeping them. I trust her and Melissa both. I've known both of them for a long time. Keith and Francine, too. We were all in grade school together."

"You guys are really close. I feel lucky to have been included. I've never had friends like you guys before."

"I have to ask you - now that we have shared our little secret with each other, is this going to make a difference? I mean, I would like to be friends with you, but I'm not ready for anything heavier yet."

Brian smiled, "Me either. I'm not looking for any cheap thrills."

"Well," Lanny said, "this has been an interesting conversation."

"Are you OK with this?" Brian asked seriously.

"Yes, I think so. I feel like I can trust you. Let's see how it goes."

"I'm OK with that, and as far as I'm concerned, we don't have to talk about this again, or at least I don't plan to bring it up."

"Like we never had this conversation, right?"

"Right," Brian laughed, "instruct the jury to disregard those remarks."

Lanny barked out a loud laugh. "That's funny."

"OK, enough of this. Tell me about your European boondoggle."

"Oh, that. Well it's been a dream of mine for a long time. I've always wanted to travel. The travel experience will be useful for my writing and the museums there are incredible. There is so much history everywhere you look. I'm pretty excited about it."

"Where are you going?"

"I guess as far as I can. I will start off in England then cross over to France. Then I plan to work my way across Germany and up to Holland. Countries over there are kind of like the states here. It's not that far from one place to another."

"So how does that work?" Brian asked. "Is there a group you travel with or what?"

"Not formally. Probably I will meet some other people who are headed in the same direction, but everybody is basically on their own. You stay in youth hostels then travel by train or bus and stay in hostels or cheap hotels wherever you find yourself. They are all over in Europe."

"Is it expensive?"

Lanny started to sound enthusiastic, "Well, it's not cheap for sure, but it's probably the least expensive way to travel if you don't mind modest accommodations."

"Where do you stay?"

"It depends on where you are. Some of them are like shared hotel rooms, some are kind of dormitories, but from what I understand they are safe enough. No doubt I will run onto some jerks but I think it will be OK."

"How did you find out about all this?"

"There is a lot of information online and I have been reading up on this stuff for a long time. Hostels are pretty humble compared to a nice hotel, but should be OK. Don't expect maid service though. Most places expect you to do your own cleanup. You pack your own sheets and everything. It all has to fit in a backpack, so you have to pack pretty light."

Brian grinned. "That sounds like fun."

"Yeah, it should be."

"You aren't worried about doing it on your own?"

Lanny shrugged, "It would be nice if somebody was going with me but, you know, better solo than not at all. It will be an adventure."

Brian walked along without comment for a few minutes. "What does it take to do this?"

Lanny looked over at him, "Well you have to get a passport of course, but you won't need a visa unless you want to go to Russia or someplace like that. Western and northern Europe is pretty much wide open for students, and hostels are everywhere."

"I mean, what does it cost?"

"Oh, I see. Well it depends on a lot things, what city you're in, the kind of transportation you want to take, how you want to eat. If you buy food in grocery stores and fix your own meals it's a lot cheaper than eating in restaurants. That can eat up a lot of money in a hurry if you don't mind the pun."

"So what's your plan?"

"For me, this is strictly a low budget trip. I plan to use buses or trains when I can, and do a lot of hiking. Meals will have to be sandwiches and soda for the most part, although once in a while I might break down and buy a meal. I don't drink so that's not an expense. Lots of the hostels will give you a plain breakfast and in some you can buy a cheap meal. I'm planning about fifty to seventy dollars a day for everything."

"How long do you plan to stay?" Brian asked.

"Well to tell you the truth, until my money runs out," Lanny laughed. "I

hope to go over there with about five thousand dollars and see how far it goes. I think two or three months if I can stretch it."

"I guess you have to pay to get in the museums and places like that."

"Right, student prices are sometimes cheaper. But it all adds up."

Brian grinned at him, "This is actually a pretty gutsy thing to do."

Lanny shrugged, "Lots of people have done it. I figure I can too."

They found themselves rather far down the trail. "Do you think it's time to turn back?" Brian asked.

"Oh, right. I get to talking and lose track of the time, sorry."

"That's OK, this is pretty interesting."

Lanny looked over at him, "Are you really interested?"

"I don't know. I don't have much money saved up. Not nearly enough anyway. When are you planning to leave?"

"In about two months. That wouldn't give you much time. I should have enough money by then, but I've been working on this for quite a while. I'll travel instead of starting school in the fall. I'll start college at the beginning of the second semester. I was going to work this summer anyway, so that just delays my college for one semester. I guess it's more of a gap semester than a gap year."

Lanny thought for a minute. "You know, a lot of kids get help from their parents, as sort of an educational investment."

"I guess, but I would hate to ask them for that. They've already done a lot for me."

"Right, I just thought I would mention that."

"But you have this all planned out as a solo venture. Would you really want somebody tagging along?"

Lanny smiled, "If you wanted to. I think we could get along. Besides, a lot of times people start off together then decide to go different directions. We could always do that if we wanted to."

Brian shrugged, "You don't know me that well. I might turn out to be a big pain in the ass."

Lanny laughed, "I think we understand each other. I might be able to put up with you."

"Seriously? I'll have to think about it. This is a new idea for me."

"How long before your summer classes are over?"

"The end of next week. I guess I might mention this to my parents, I mean, just to see what they think about it."

"Right, you might do that," Lanny smiled.

They walked back to their starting point while Brian asked more about the places Lanny planned to visit, what things he was interested in seeing. The more they talked, the more exciting it sounded to him.

When they got back to their cars, Brian turned and said, "This has been kind of an interesting conversation."

"Sure has," Lanny smiled.

"Want to walk again tomorrow?"

"Why not?" Lanny shrugged.

"OK, see you tomorrow then."

They laughed and parted. Brian had a lot to think about.

When he got home it was time for dinner. They sat around the table talking about their day. Brian simply told them that he had met a friend for a walk. He would save the rest for later after he had time to think.

That night he looked on his laptop for information about hostels and youth travel in Europe. It looked really interesting. He pulled down information about transportation, food, lodging and ways to save money. Lanny had this pretty well figured out. He looked at some of the different hostels, read about walking tours and museums. There was so much to see and do. He knew he couldn't come up with enough money on his own. Would it be right to ask Marco and Marty to fund this thing? He knew the money was there, and figured they might do it, but would it be right? He would have to sleep on it.

After Brian went to bed, the thought of traveling with Lanny kept running through his mind. Here was a new friend who obviously had a lot in common with him. Lanny was rather reserved but had come out to him, and they seemed to trust each other. He found Lanny attractive and his mind raced with the possibilities of traveling with him. Could Lanny be the friend he had been hoping for? He found himself erect and began to fantasize about the possibilities. A handful of tissues soon became filled with his semen.

When he picked Gunder up for class the next morning his friend seemed out of sorts.

"What's up with you this morning?" he asked.

"How did you do on your story yesterday?" Gunder asked.

"It was OK. He took points off for some mistakes I made, but he said it was original. How did you do?"

"I think he was not fair to me. I will discuss it with him."

"I take it that he didn't give you a high grade?"

"I would rather not talk about it, thank you," Gunder looked out the window.

Brian shrugged, "Well there's always tomorrow."

Dr. Brown talked a little about poetry then handed back the poems he had collected the previous day. On Brian's was penciled in red, 'see me after class'. There was no other mark. A shot of fear went through him. What had he done?

Gunder told him his friend would be meeting him for lunch and went on. Brian waited until the classroom was empty to talk to Dr. Brown.

"I am interested in your poem," the professor said. "Is that an original poem? Did you write that?"

"Um, yes sir, I did."

The professor looked at him sternly for a moment, perhaps waiting for Brian to say something further. "I am surprised to see a poem of that quality from a student so young."

Brian said quietly, "It was mine. I wrote it, sir." The expression on his face was open and honest.

Dr. Brown's face slowly broke into a smile. "Then I suggest that you continue writing young man. That was quite good." And with that he smiled and walked out of the classroom, leaving Brian in a state of shock.

Brian found some lunch, attended his Biology class and then headed off to meet with Lanny. When they met, he told him with excitement what had happened. "I can't believe that. It must have been beginner's luck or something."

"I told you that was pretty good. See, you wouldn't believe me."

"I will never doubt you again."

Lanny laughed and said, "Come on, let's go for a walk." After a minute he asked, "Have you thought about the trip this fall?"

"Yes, I looked online at some of the things you mentioned. You seem to have planned this very carefully."

"Well, it helps to be prepared."

"Be prepared sounds like a boy scout. Were you ever in scouting?"

Lanny shrugged, "I was in cubs when I was younger, but never went any farther than that. Why do you ask?"

"I just wondered. I'm an Eagle Scout. That was very important to me."

"I can see that," Lanny said, "I kind of wish I had stayed with scouting now."

"I got a lot out of it," Brian admitted, "I think that helped me keep my sanity when I was growing up."

"So what do you think about trying to go on the trip with me?" Lanny repeated.

"It sounds fantastic, but I kind of hate to ask my parents for the money."

"Well, that's your decision of course. But it would be nice to have a friend with me. I have to admit that doing it alone is a little scary."

"I would like to do it. I guess I could ask and see what they think about it."

"It wouldn't hurt to ask," Lanny suggested hopefully.

"I guess not. Maybe I will ask them about it."

Lanny smiled without further comment.

"Did you say that you went to grade school with Melissa and the others?" Brian asked.

"Right, and I know them from church too."

"Where do you guys go to church?"

"We are all at St. John's."

"Really? My family goes to St. Jerome's. I guess we have something else in common."

"Yeah? That's cool. I have never visited there. Do you like it?"

"I do actually. I had a very negative view of religion before I started going there with my family, but now I really like it. I like the priest there. Father Hoover is pretty special. He's been a real friend to the family. Marco and Marty were married there and he baptized Sam, Ben and me."

Lanny thought for a minute, "I like St. John's a lot. They have a big organ and a nice choir. I enjoy the services, but our new priest, not so much."

"Why not?" Brian asked.

"I liked the guy who was there for a long time. After he retired we got a new priest. He's OK, but kind of boring."

"Would you like to visit St. Jerome's with me sometime?"

Lanny shrugged, "I might. Let me think about it."

"I guess Louisa was right," Brian laughed.

"How's that?"

"Well, she said she thought we had some things in common – that we would hit it off. I think she was right."

"Louisa is usually right," Lanny agreed.

"So, where do you work?" Brian asked.

"At a Walmart," Lanny laughed, "Not very glamorous."

"Nothing wrong with the Walmart. Lots of people work there. Do they pay you OK?"

"It's not bad. I've gotten a couple of raises. I started out in the stock room but now I'm a checker. Do you work?"

"I was a bicycle mechanic at Wayne's City Cycles for a long time. While I am attending classes I'm not working. My parent's wanted me to focus on school."

"They really care about you don't they?"

"Yes they do," Brian admitted. "It's kind of a new experience for me."

"I bet they would help you with this trip. Do you think so?"

"I think they would if I asked them."

"So ask them."

Brian laughed, "OK, I think I will. You sure you are OK with this?"

Lanny nodded. "I think it would be pretty cool if you went with me. Yeah, I would like that."

Brian made his decision.

That night at the dinner table he brought the topic up for discussion.

"Louisa introduced me to an interesting guy. We have been taking walks and talking a lot," Brian told them.

"Who is this guy?" Marty asked.

"His name is Lanny. Actually I kind of knew him from school, but didn't really know that much about him. Turns out he is a really cool guy." He hesitated a moment. "He plans to take a gap semester and backpack around Europe this fall – stay in youth hostels and that kind of thing."

"Wow, that sounds cool!" Ben said.

"That would be an education in itself," Marco said.

"It does sound pretty exciting. He suggested that I go with him, but I don't know about that. It would take a lot of money."

"How much money?" Marty asked.

"Well, he says he can do it for two or three months for about five thousand dollars."

"Whoa, that's a lot of money," Sam whistled.

"It's no more than a semester of college," Marco guessed. "That would be quite an experience."

"What do you think about that, Brian? Are you really interested?" Marty asked.

"Well yes. It would be a fantastic, but I don't have enough money saved up."

Sam and Ben began to chatter about how cool it would be to backpack like that, and the conversation shifted to what little travel Marco and Marty had been able to do.

"I don't think we've ever been out of the country," Marco recalled. "I can see that being a part of your education. Especially since you are doing your pre-med as part of that Classics program. How serious are you about this Brian?"

"Well yes, I would really like to do it," Brian admitted.

Marty and Marco exchanged glances. "Let us think about it. We might be willing to help you with a trip like this. It might be a good investment in your education."

"Can we go too?" Ben asked hopefully.

"Not this trip," Marty laughed. "Maybe when you are older."

"We have to wait for everything until we are older," Ben complained.

"All good things come to he who waits," Marco advised him. "Your time is coming."

Brian left the dinner table feeling excited.

This could be a great adventure.

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