Nick's Story

by Nick Brady

Chapter 13

I came straight home from school and got back to the apartment just after 4:00. Nobody was home yet so I went up to see if Jack was around. Since he started college I didn't see him much any more. I knocked on the door a couple of times but there was no answer. I tried the knob just in case, but it was locked.

Back downstairs I went into the bedroom and decided to take a shower. I pulled off all my clothes and dropped them in my dirty clothes basket, then picked out a clean pair of briefs and grabbed my towel and stepped across the hall into the bathroom. I closed the door and locked it, then turned on the water and let it run until I had it adjusted just right.

I stood in the stream of hot water and felt it flow over me. I turned around slowly and let the water play all around. It reminded me of the great shower at Joseph's with the two heads and the brief time we spent in it together. I wished for Joseph to wash my hair as he had done then, and felt my cock start to lift up. I could imagine Joseph behind me and me leaning backwards against him, feeling his cock press into the crack of my ass.

I worked shampoo into my hair and scoured my scalp with my fingertips, imagining that they were Joseph's fingers, or maybe that it was Joseph's hair. The water from the shower rinsed the soap out and I could feel the soft lather running down my chest and stomach, down my back and over my ass.

I palmed my dick in my fist and began to stroke it. I wanted to be with Joseph so bad it hurt. It seemed like he was on my mind constantly. Facing the shower I let the hot water play over my cock while I stroked it faster and rolled my balls around in my other hand, hunching into my fist as I stroked, imagining that it was Joseph's hand or maybe his dick in my hand.

It only took a few minutes and the tight feeling of electricity began to rise in my balls and pulse through the end of my cock, releasing spurt after spurt of cum to swirl around in the water going down the drain of the tub. No matter how familiar that sensation was, it still lifted me up into a feeling of pleasure and ease. When the pulsing stopped, I pushed my fingers down into my scrotum and milked out the rest of my load until I felt empty.

I took the bar of soap that laid in the little basket that hung from the shower head and began to soap myself all over, especially under my arms and over my crotch. It always felt good to rub my soapy fingers through my crack and over my ass hole. Finally I scrubbed the same areas under the stream of water to rinse away any trace of soap, being careful to stretch my foreskin back to rinse out any soap that might get trapped in there. Turning off the water I reached out for the towel and dried off standing in the tub so the floor didn't get all wet.

When I was through I stepped out of the tub and pulled on my briefs. Wiping the fog from the mirror I picked up my hairbrush and tried for the millionth time to brush my hair. I tried parting it on the right, on the left, then in the center, slicked it back, brushed it forward. No matter what I did, if I shook it a little it drew up in a mass of orange curls. Giving it up, I toweled my head again and just shook it. I had let it grow pretty long over the summer and now that school was started I decided I should get it cut short like I usually did.

All the time I was messing with my hair I was wondering if Joseph would like it better one way or another. I kept thinking about him. It occurred to me that even though I had just jerked off I was still thinking about Joseph. Why couldn't I get him out of my mind?

I threw my towel over my shoulder and slipped back into the bedroom. I could tell that Kevin had come home because his school books were piled up on the bed. How could someone I had shared a bedroom with for my whole life be so hard to figure? He kept asking about Joseph, and last night he was looking at me like he was checking me out. Actually, Kevin was a nice looking kid, but the idea of doing anything with him didn't seem right to me. Yet it seemed like something was on his mind. Whatever.

I put on clean clothes and went into the living room where Kevin was kicked back on the sofa. As usual he had turned the TV on but was stretched out on the sofa reading something. He looked over at me as I walked in.

"Hey," he said, "You smell better than usual. How did the bicycle work out?"

"It was OK." I flopped down in the easy chair. "It's a lot quicker than the bus."

"Cool," Kevin looked at me for a moment as if he was thinking about saying something then turned back to what he was reading.

"I ride by Joseph's on the way home," I said without planning to.

"Yeah? Maybe you could stop and visit."

"Well, I was thinking that."

Kevin didn't say anything, he just looked thoughtful and nodded his head, smiled a little and looked back at his reading.

Later at supper Mom asked about riding my bike and I told her the same thing, that it worked out fine and the ride took me close by Joseph's house.

"Don't be making a pest out of yourself," she cautioned.

"I won't. He is going to see if it's OK for me to stop by for a little."

Mom surprised me by saying, "If you think you are going to see him tomorrow you can take his clothes back to him."

"Oh yeah, the ones I borrowed Sunday when I went to church with him," I remembered. "And I left my baseball uniform and cleats over there. I need to pick them up too. So is it OK if I stop by for a little while?"

"I suppose, but don't wear out your welcome."

"I won't. I promise I'll be back before supper."

Mom gave me a thoughtful look, "I don't remember you having a friend quite like Joseph."

Kevin piped up, "Joseph is pretty cool. He knows a lot about baseball, doesn't he Dad?"

Dad looked mildly surprised at being brought into the conversation so directly. "Yes he does. He may not play baseball but he has a good understanding of the game. He is a very intelligent boy. Very well mannered too"

I looked over at Kevin and he almost winked at me. I couldn't believe it.

Mom went on, "Now that school has started it seems like everything is happening at once. Next Monday is Labor Day and we need to think about what we want to do with a long weekend. Then Nicky's birthday is the 15th of September and Kevin's is a week later. You boys will be 12 and 14, it doesn't seem possible. We'll have to think of something special for you.

I would be the same age as Joseph, at least for a little while. I wondered when his birthday was. I made a mental note to ask him the next time I saw him, and that would be tomorrow after school. Things were beginning to work out.


As soon as school was out I stuffed the books I needed for the evening's homework into the ruck sack next to the brown paper package that Mom had used to wrap up Joseph's clothes. I ran out the front door and looked at the flagpole for Joseph but he wasn't anywhere in sight,

I jogged over to the bike rack to be sure that my bike was still there. No problem. Either my lock and chain had discouraged anybody from messing with it or it just didn't look worth stealing. I unlocked it and dropped the lock and chain into the last spare corner of my rucksack. By the time I pushed it back to the flagpole I could see Joseph coming out the front door.

"You really did ride your bike," Joseph said. "How did it go?"

"No problem. It's a lot faster than riding the bus. Is it gonna be OK if I stop at your house?"

"Yes," Joseph smiled, "I talked to mother last night and she thinks you are wonderful."

"Really?" I replied.

Joseph laughed. "Well maybe I'm the one who thinks so, but Mother has expressed concern that I seem to have so few real friends and thinks you will be good for me. I quite agree, don't you?"

I found myself grinning broadly, "I'll do my best."

"Really though, I do have to spend some time working on my piano. I'm afraid you will soon get bored with that. It's not like listening to a finished piece at all."

"That's OK. I can do my schoolwork while you practice then I won't have to mess with it at home. Maybe you will be good for me too."

"Oh I hope so," Joseph laughed shyly. Just then the Lincoln drove up and Joseph picked up the case he used for his books and said, "Then I will see you in a few minutes?"

"I'll probably beat you home," I grinned, jumped on my bike and took off.

The big Lincoln pulled out and drove down 41st street while I went up Delaware as fast as I could. When I pulled into the curving driveway of Joseph's house there was no car in sight. Had I really beaten him home? Just then I heard a voice from above. I looked up and there was Joseph looking down on me from his balcony at the side of the house.

We just barely beat you" he called, "Come around to the kitchen."

I walked my bike around to the kitchen door and leaned it against the porch. The door opened and Joseph was standing there with a paper grocery bag in his hands. "Here's your baseball uniform."

I laughed and handed him the package Mom had prepared. "And here are your clothes."

"Well, we've taken care of the first order of business," he chuckled. "Please come in."

We walked into the kitchen and Joseph asked, "Are you hungry? Would you like a snack?"

"Sure, whatever you've got."

Joseph looked around the kitchen. "I could make you a sandwich, or I see that Alice has laid out a nice bowl of peaches and some almond cookies."

"I can eat whatever you can eat. Fruit and cookies is fine."

Joseph picked up a small tray from the counter on which were several fresh peaches, a plate of cookies, a pair of white cloth napkins and a paring knife. He motioned for me to follow him into the big room where the piano was. He put the tray on a low table in front of a sofa and sat down, motioning with his hand to sit down next to him. We both took a peach.

Joseph crossed his long legs at the knee and laid a napkin across them. He scored his peach longways in four sections and pulled the fruit away from the seed, laying it on the tray and arranging the peach slices on the napkin. Then he looked at me and offered me the paring knife. By this time I had already gnawed about half the peach from the seed and was wiping the juice from my chin.

Joseph smiled but never hesitated, "Would you like a cookie?"

"Sure," I took several cookies that Joseph handed to me on a napkin. "Thanks," I said and used the napkin to wipe the peach juice from my face then put the cookies and the rest of the peach on the napkin.

I looked around and noticed how quiet it was in the house. "Where is everybody?"

"Mother is at some meeting this afternoon. Alice picked me up from school. She is around somewhere. She generally leaves me alone when I practice."

"You mentioned Alice before. What does she do?" I asked.

Joseph smiled and shook his head a little. "Alice does everything. Officially she is the house keeper. She cooks, cleans, buys the groceries, looks after everything really. My sisters are both older than I am by 10 and 12 years. When I came along it was a surprise. I guess mother decided she was past tending to babies so they hired Alice to help."

"Alice sounds like a lot more than just the housekeeper," I observed.

"Yes, she has been looking after me for as long as I remember. I..., she is very dear to me."

"Alice is like..., like your Mom kinda."

"Well yes, but it wouldn't do to say that," Joseph lifted his index finger to his closed lips for emphasis.

I thought about Joseph and his family as I finished the cookies and reached for another peach. This time I used the paring knife to slice and eat it neatly.

"You're really in a different situation than I am," I observed. "You've got everything you could want but you're all boxed in."

Joseph looked down at his napkin, "Yes, I know."

I really wanted to understand how Joseph felt about all this. "Are you cool with the way things are? I mean, you have to work really hard at your music. Is that because you want to or because they make you?"

Joseph gave me a very thoughtful look. "It's amazing what you are able to see sometimes Nicky."

"Actually it's both. I love the music, but it is terribly demanding. I want to be able to perform at a high level, play with good orchestras, make recordings. But to be able to perform at that level comes at a very high price. It demands a great deal of work on my part, and some very good coaching. Even if I work as hard as I can, I might not have what it takes because I simply lack the raw talent or the mental and physical endurance required. It's a challenge, Nicky."

"I have discussed this with my parents and they are very supportive. They have arranged for a private teacher who has been very helpful for me, and as you can see have provided a wonderful instrument for me to play. Having made that investment they expect that I will keep my part of the bargain. So I devote a great deal of time to my music, avoid things that might endanger my playing, like baseball, and try not to be too much of a bother."

It was hard for me to relate Joseph's situation with my own. "So what would happen now if you were to change your mind, or if you found out you couldn't do it?"

Joseph laughed. "Oh, that's a very good question. I suppose we would live through it but it would be very awkward. All the pieces of this little puzzle are supposed to be in place. I wouldn't want to try and move any of them."

"It's hard for me to understand all this. It almost sounds like you are a prisoner."

Joseph smiled. "Oh not really, it's not as bad as all that. Actually I suppose I'm rather content with it all. Mother and Father do love me but they are very busy with their own lives and don't have much time for me. But neither do they bother me with many demands on my time. I have the run of this place and can spend as much time on my music as I want. It might be awkward if I didn't much care to play, but I have rather a passion for it."

"That's great if that's what you want," I said, "But I would feel awfully cramped up staying in just one place all the time, even if it was as nice as this one is, and maybe lonely."

"Ah yes, there it is," agreed Joseph. "I do get lonely. I keep busy and try not to think about it, but sometimes I feel terribly alone. I've never been as gregarious as you are Nick, and it is hard for me to make friends. Sometimes I tell myself I should be more outgoing and try to act like `one of the guys', but it never rings true for me. I just end up looking weird and find myself even more isolated.

"Let's face it Nick, I am weird. I mean, what do 14 year old boys talk about with each other? Sports, girls, cars, rock and roll, who can whip whose ass? That's not who I am. I want to talk about music they never heard of – or that I am struggling over a piece of music that is horribly difficult to play and why my hands won't fall right on the keys. Who wants to hear about that? What's funny is that girls seem drawn to me. They want to sympathize and mother me and tell me how sweet I am. Maybe they know that I am not attracted to them and feel it's safe to befriend me. Or else they see me as a challenge to their powers of seduction.

"But all of that just serves to put me more out of place with guys my age and sort of confirms my weirdness. I guess I am basically a solo act. Maybe I am supposed to be alone so that I will focus on my music and not be distracted. Blair told me not to worry about all that, just to focus on my strong features and be myself. It's all about accepting myself the way I am and making the best of it I suppose. To the extent that I have been able to do that, I would have to say that it works better for me. At least until recently."

I was having trouble following everything Joseph was saying. He was right about being different but I didn't think he was weird. "Who is Blair?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I don't think I have mentioned him before. Blair Fischer is my piano teacher. He teaches at The University of Tulsa and takes a few private students. He studied under Ruth Slenzenska at Southern Illinois, and she studied under Vladimir Horowitz. Blair is really wonderful. He picks most of my music for me and helps me with the fingerings, and is terribly patient with me while I am learning a new piece. And he does more than that, he teaches me about music -- how it is structured, why some things work and others don't. He has opened me up to a lot of different things that I would have never discovered on my own. And more than that, I think he has given me confidence in myself, a better appreciation for my abilities and helped me understand what kind of potential I have and what I must do to realize it."

Joseph had become very animated while he was telling me about his music and his private teacher. He was now sitting up straight and gesturing with his hands and his face was alive. "You don't look very sad and lonely right now," I said hopefully.

Joseph laughed aloud and fell back in the sofa. "No, you see I am happy when I am in my own little world aren't I? The problem is that when it is time for me to come out of it I find that I am all alone," he chuckled, "Maybe that is what keeps me there."

"I'm here," I said.

Joseph's face softened. The smile remained but it took on a wistful look. "Oh yes Nicky, you are here, and for the first time I can remember I don't feel alone. I'm not sure why you are here or how long you will remain, but I am so very happy that you are here right now."

As I looked at Joseph I felt full, a little short winded, and both happy and sad. I didn't understand him really, but I saw such great intensity and talent there, such a deep desire to be understood. Maybe his music was the best way for Joseph to connect with other people, to communicate with them, to be understood by them. He was opening up his soul, showing me the passion that was hidden there and I was very touched by what I saw. I wanted to tell him I understood, wanted to find the right words to let him know how I felt about him, but all that would come out was, "I love you Joseph."

"Oh Nicky, don't say that," he almost whispered. "I don't dare to hope for that. I don't know that I would know how to respond to being loved in that way."

I opened my mouth but nothing else would come out. I didn't understand what I was doing either, I just knew that I had this overpowering desire to be near Joseph, to listen to him talk, to hear his music or whatever else he loved. I just wanted to be part of all that but I didn't know how to say it, so I just sat and looked at him and felt my eyes grow wet.

"Oh Nicky, I've hurt you. I'm so sorry. I love you too, I just have no experience for dealing with something like this."

I leaned over to him and wrapped my arms around his waist, pressed the side of my face to his chest and hugged him tight. Joseph took me in his arms and held me close, kissing my hair and patting me with his hands.

After a minute he let me go and sat back. "It wouldn't do for us to be seen like this," He stood up and sat back down in a chair opposite the sofa. When he did I could see that his cheeks were wet. "We need to make some plans If we are to be together," he said. "Come with me."

Joseph picked up the tray and the napkins and took them into the kitchen with me following right behind. In the kitchen was a short stout woman wearing a brown dress and a white apron. She had olive skin and long black hair shot with gray tied back into a bun at the back of her head. When we walked into the kitchen she turned from the sink, took the tray from Joseph, and her face wrinkled into what looked like a permanent smile.

"Alice, this is my friend Nick.

"Nice to meet you Alice," and I extended my hand.

Alice smiled even broader, set the tray on the counter, wiped her wet hands on her apron and took my hand and shook it firmly. "Oh Nick, I am so happy to meet you. Joseph has told me so much about you."

Joseph flushed just a little, "Thank you for the tray Alice, that was very thoughtful. Nick and I are going up to my room for a bit. I'll be back down shortly."

Alice lowered her voice just a little and said, "You needn't be in a hurry Joseph, your mother will not be home for dinner and I'll be busy here," Then she smiled again and I knew I liked Alice a lot. Joseph gave Alice a shy smile and walked out of the kitchen to the hall.


I followed Joseph up the stairs to his bedroom. Once inside, he closed the door and turned to face me. I thought for a moment that he was going to say something, but he just looked at me with a questioning look and raised his hands a little, palms up. I stepped up to him, slid my arms around his waist and pushed my face into his neck and held him. He wrapped his arms around me and I could feel his wet breath on the back of my neck. I could also feel his erection pushing into my belly through his slacks and I pushed into him as I put my hands on his butt and pulled his hips toward me while I moved from side to side.

I pulled his shirt out of the back of his pants and ran my hands up and over his bare back. Raising my face to his, I kissed him on the lips and he melted into me. While we explored the inside of each others mouth with our tongues I brought my hands around his waist and began to unbuckle his belt and unzip his trousers. He moaned and pulled back just enough to let me open his fly and slide his pants down. Joseph fumbled with my jeans and I unbuttoned them quickly and dropped them to my knees. Now we could feel our bare skin press together and my hard cock flipped up to press into his balls and the base of his long dick which pressed hard into my belly. He grabbed my ass and squeezed my cheeks and we ground ourselves together in a kind of dance. We were humping each other with our pants and underwear down around our ankles when one of us tripped and we both fell down on the carpet in a heap, laughing and giggling.

"Maybe we should get out of our clothes," I half whispered.

"Oh yes," Joseph agreed, pulling off his shirt and slacks, throwing them in a heap, then pulling my t-shirt off while I untied my sneakers and pulled off my jeans. He practically dragged me to the bed where he laid back and drew me on top of him. "Oh my God Nicky, I want you so much. I never knew I could want anything so much as I want you on top of me. This so decadent, but it feels so right."

Joseph had his legs spread wide apart with his feet up and his knees bent. I laid between his raised legs and ground my dick into his while I sucked ferociously on his tits. He pushed his chest into my face and rocked from side to side while I hunched our dicks together. He leaned his head over so that his mouth was against the side of my face and stuck his tongue inside my ear. I moved from one side of his chest to the other sucking first one nipple then the other. When I changed sides, Joseph changed ears and all the time our cocks were thrashing against each other.

After several minutes of this we were both breathless. I reversed myself so that my legs were straddled across Joseph's face and my mouth was on his cock. I put both my hands around his long dick and sucked the head into my mouth, swirling around the head with my tongue. Joseph pulled my foreskin back and forth several times then sucked me into his mouth, manipulating my skin with his tongue.

I was looking past his balls at his ass hole. I wet my fingers with spit and began to rub them across his anus. He lifted his hips up and pushed against me so I began to slip my middle finger up his ass. Joseph gave out a muffled moan in response and began to rub at my asshole with his long wet fingers, sliding them up and down along my crack. I wanted to feel him inside me but was reluctant to say so. I began to slide my finger deeper up his ass and increased my suction on his dick. He gasped and threw his head back, releasing my wet cock from his mouth and humped hard into my face. I began to pump my finger deep into his ass and tried to swallow all of his long cock.

Joseph was holding onto the backs of my thighs with his face between his hands panting for breath. My balls were pressing down on his neck, my cock against his chest while I concentrated on giving him as much pleasure as I could. I worked my finger in and out of his ass and gripped the base of his dick with my other hand while I mouthed the rest of his cock for all I was worth. Finally he groaned loudly and began to cum. I wanted to see it so I rolled off to one side, pulled my mouth off his dick and pumped it with one hand while I continued to finger his ass with the other. He arched his back and spurted one long white string of cum after another over his chest and belly, then down onto my hand. When he was almost through I took him back into my mouth and sucked him dry, milking his tube empty. There was enough cum left in him for a good taste and left the slick feel of semen in my mouth. I reached up and scooped his sperm trails into a pool around his belly button and we both looked at it and laughed.

"You could start a sperm bank," I giggled.

"I'm a mess," Joseph laughed. "Please throw me something to wipe up with before the dam breaks and I spill this all over the bedspread." He took the t-shirt I tossed him and mopped up his stomach. "Now I want to do you." he whispered.

I stretched out on the bed with my head on the pillows. Joseph sat to one side of me and began to rub me all over with the palms of his hands. His hands were strong and it felt warm and very nice. As I looked down at myself I could see that I was filling out, getting more muscular. My orange pubic hair was much thicker now and I had fan of red hair under each arm pit. I had a fine coating of red-blond hair on my forearms and lower legs. It was so light that you had to look close to see it but compared to less than a year ago I was practically hairy.

Joseph was running his fingertips over all this and tracing around my pink nipples, the outline of my pecs and abs, and the groove between my thigh and abdomen. As he passed his fingers over my dick and balls he touched only the fine red hair, not the skin itself and it felt almost like a warm breeze moving over me. It made my balls draw up tight and my dick very sensitive and hard.

Joseph leaned back on one elbow and put his face close to my crotch, blowing soft warm air over me, moving the fine hair again and making me shiver. He lifted my cock from against my belly and slowly pulled the foreskin down, stretching it tight so that it looked as if I were circumcised. He brought it up again covering the head and pulled the tip out to a point and stretched it out until the tight skin lifted my scrotum a little. He held it out beyond the end of the head with his hand and began to run the loose pucker of foreskin over his face very gently, brushing it against his lips, and his eyelids, and his cheeks, finally pressing my dick flat against my belly again and kissing it just above my balls. He did all this very slowly and gently and lovingly. He began to lick each testicle, gently sucking one and then another into his mouth and washing it with his tongue, all the while moaning very softly.

When he pulled my dick out away from my belly again he began to suck it slowly and gently. He managed to get it all in his mouth and used his tongue to stroke it and move it from side to side. He pulled the skin back with his hand then sucked it back over the head with his lips. I pulled my knees up and spread my legs wide for him. He took his free hand and began to finger my ass as I murmured my approval. Then he wet his finger and slipped it just inside my ass hole as if to see what that was like. I raised my hips up to let him know I liked it.

Joseph slid his long slender middle finger up into my ass and began to move it around in a circle while he sucked me harder. I ran my fingers in his dark hair and thrust up into his mouth. He continued to finger fuck me and suck my cock harder and faster until I was about to shoot, then he raised his head and began to stroke me with his fingers. His hands were so strong and sure, caressing every tiny part of my dick, the groove down the center, the ridge of my cock head beneath my foreskin, the faint circular ridges around the base, lightly pinching the tip of the cock head at the top of the stroke, all the while moving his long finger around and around the inside of my ass, pressing on the prostate, stretching everything so gently.

When the electric surge came up I brought my knees up to my chest lifting my ass up as high as I could so that Joseph could drive his finger in as deep as possible. He brought his face very close to my balls so that I could feel his hot breath on them as he gripped me tight and pumped very fast. The first spurt hit my chest, the second my chin, and the rest laced my chest and belly with long white ropes of cum. Joseph continued his rhythm until I couldn't take it any more and cried out for him to stop. He withdrew his finger and stretched my foreskin back tight, then engulfed my cock with his mouth and let it rest there pulsing in the warm wet space. When the intensity subsided a little he gently sucked the rest of the cum from me and let my softening dick fall back onto my belly and kissed it.

"That doesn't taste bad at all," he murmured, "I suppose it's an acquired taste."

Joseph sat up and let me stretch my legs out straight. He scooped the cum from my neck down to my belly and pooled it around my navel.

"Another deposit for the bank," he smiled, then used the same T-shirt to wipe me dry, wrapping a single layer of the cotton around his finger to clean out my belly button.

When he was finished he dropped the shirt to the floor and stretched out beside me. I took his hand and we rested for a couple of minutes, taking in deep breaths and letting them out slowly.

"What are we gonna do?" I asked. "I don't think this is gonna work every day."

Joseph laughed. "Unfortunately not. Certainly not if Mother is here. Even if she is not, for that matter."

"Hey Joseph," I said, "I really meant it when I said I loved you."

Joseph gripped my hand tighter. "I believe you Nick. I want to say I love you too, but I'm not sure I really know what that means. I don't know that anyone has ever loved me with any great intensity. Certainly not in the way that we have shared love together.

"I do know that I care more for you than anyone else in the world. I know that I think about you constantly to the point of distraction. I know that you are to be the most attractive, charming, and exciting person I have ever known, that I am very lonely and discontent when we are apart and deliriously happy when we are together. I know that in the few times we have been together I have experienced the most intense excitement of my whole life, and that in addition to my physical desire for you, I admire and respect you.

"Saying I love you is so easy and it can mean so many different things to so many different people. What I feel for you is deep and complicated Nicky. I don't know if saying `I love you' covers it adequately."

I looked over at Joseph, "Do you analyze everything so carefully?" I asked. "Sometimes when something is right you just know it."

Joseph looked at me and shook his head. "Perhaps it is my nature to make things complex as it is yours to make them simple. Perhaps that is why we compliment each other so well."

I looked at Joseph and told him, "Sometimes when there is something I'm not sure about, maybe something I'm kind of scared of, my Mom says I try to talk it to death. Do you reckon that's what you are doing?"

Joseph smiled. "I don't know, Nicky. Maybe so," inally, Joseph sighed and said, "We need to get back downstairs pretty soon. What time do you have to be home?"

"We usually eat at 6:30 but I should be home before then. What time is it now?" I asked.

Joseph looked at the clock radio on his side of the bed. "It's almost 5:30," he said. Then he sighed again, swung his legs off the bed and stood up. He began to sort through the pile of clothes and put his own back on, tossing mine to me. My T-shirt we left on the bedroom floor.

"How are we gonna do this?" I asked, "How do we manage to be together more? Can I come by here after school every day?"

Joseph looked very thoughtful as he buttoned his shirt and tied his shoe laces. "The thing is that I generally use this time for practice. It would be difficult to alter that. I don't know that I would want to actually. Everything I do has a sort of routine to it. The question is how to modify the routine to include you."

"OK, how do we do that?"

"If you drop by after school, we can have a snack and chat like we did today, then I will need to practice. You can go on, read, do your school work or whatever you want, but I must work for at least an hour and if I am involved in something I should tell you that I may lose track of the time. Not much fun for you I'm afraid."

"That's OK. It will give me some time to do my stuff and at least we can be together. What about other times, evenings, weekends? What can we do together?

"On the odd occasion I might attend a performance or go to a movie during the week but generally I am home doing my own school work or playing with something – like my guitar, or the saxophone, or reading. My life isn't very exciting Nicky."

Having finished dressing, Joseph sat down on the edge of the bed. "We might do something on the weekends. Generally I could be free on Saturdays if I can get back fairly early. Jack used to take me to movies when he lived here. Sundays I am at church and usually sing in the choir."

At that Joseph's face broke into a smile. "Of course if you joined the choir we could go to choir practice on Thursday nights and you could come to church with me on Sunday morning."

"Man, I can't sing for shit," I protested.

"Of course you can. You just think you can't. I can have you singing like a lark. Think about it, we can have some fun doing that together."

"I don't know. I guess I could try."

"There you go. Now we are together at least two days a week, and for a bonus we can probably shame Jack into coming to church with us if we are both in the choir."

I laughed and said, "Yeah, that's a thought, and if we are already together on Sunday morning there is a good chance that we can work something else out for the afternoon."

"That's right. Now we are thinking along the same lines," said Joseph. "Tomorrow is Thursday. If you want, you can come to choir tomorrow evening to see how it goes."

I'll ask my Mom," I said. "I don't think she will object to anything that has to do with church. So what else is going on?"

Joseph said, "This Saturday Mother is taking me to visit some relative who is visiting another relative in Oklahoma City. I don't think I even know them but I guess that's the point of going over there. We should be back Saturday evening though so I would see you in church if you are there. That takes care of this weekend although the next weekend is my birthday."

"Really? When's your birthday?" I asked.

"September 7th," Joseph said. "When is yours?"

"You're kidding!" I shouted. "Mine's the 15th and Kevin's is the 22nd. You will be 15 before I turn 14. I thought I would catch up to you for a little while."

Joseph laughed gleefully. "Ah Nick, you will never catch me. Really that's funny. All our birthdays so close together. That has to raise the possibility for some sort of a birthday party, don't you think?"

"Sure it should," I agreed.

"Well then, we have the beginning of a plan. Now I need to work on some music and you need to get home. We don't want to raise eyebrows."

I followed Joseph down the stairs and through the kitchen to the back porch where my bike was parked. I stuffed my baseball uniform in with the books, zipped up the ruck sack, and tossed it over my shoulders.

Joseph looked at my little dirt bike. "Does that go very fast?"

"Not really." I said. "I need a geared bike really, but it gets me around."

"I got a rather nice 15 speed bike for Christmas last year which I have not ridden much. It replaced an older 10 speed which is now a little small for me. I wonder if you could use it?" Joseph asked.

"Sure. Would it be OK with your folks?"

"Oh, it's just taking up space in the garage. I don't think they would mind. It would technically be a loan although I don't foresee wanting it back."

"Cool. How come you don't ride?"

"I like to ride occasionally, but find it boring to ride alone. Maybe that's another thing you could help me with." Joseph smiled. "I'm sure my parents would agree that the exercise would do me good, that's why they gave me the bicycle. See what a good influence you are on me?"

On my ride home I kept imagining how much faster I could travel on a decent 10 speed. I thought about Joseph and the way he had worked out a plan for us. I admired Joseph for his musical talent and his sophistication, but I hadn't realized how clever he was. Just because he was polite didn't mean he was a wimp. When he needed to he could work things out like he was playing a game of chess. I wondered if chess was another one of the things he was good at.

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