by Nick Brady
There was still some daylight when I pulled my bike to the back of Trinity Episcopal and chained it to a tree. I slipped in the rear entrance and started down a little corridor, looking for Joseph. I had not got far when I heard him call my name, and turned toward his voice into a small utility room with a sink and a pop machine.
It was Joseph. "Hello there. I had intended to be in the hall when you walked in but stepped in here for a minute."
"No sweat. I just walked in. Where do we go?"
"We rehearse in one of the larger class rooms where there is a piano. Then we are supposed to get here an hour early on Sunday morning to go over the anthem with the organ. It's a little different than singing with the piano."
I didn't see anyone around but Joseph and myself. "Where is everybody? Who else is in the choir?"
Joseph smiled. "You sound eager. Actually we are almost 20 minutes early so nobody is here yet but the choir director. Come on and I'll introduce you."
We went up a short flight of stairs and down a corridor to where I could hear the sound of a piano. We entered a fairly large room with several rows of chairs facing a piano. At the keyboard sat an earnest looking middle aged woman with round owlish glasses and a head full of wavy gray hair held back with a hair clip. She was pounding away on the piano while pausing every few moments to slap at the page of a hymn book that was trying to flip to the wrong place. We watched her for a few moments then Joseph stepped up to attract her attention and cleared his throat.
"Good evening." he said rather loudly.
The lady froze and turned towards Joseph, her hands poised over the keys and her eyes wide open under raised eyebrows. "Joseph!" she observed.
Joseph smiled, "Sorry to interrupt you Mrs Tailor but I wanted to introduce you to our newest choir member. This is my friend Nick Brady."
Her face broke into a warm smile and she extended her hand. "Hi, it's very nice to meet you Nick. I'm Julia Tailor."
I took her hand and shook it. "Nice to meet you. But I don't know whether you will want me in the choir or not. I have really never sung before."
She continued to smile and shake my hand vigorously. "If Joseph brought you then you must have some potential. Joseph knows his music. What do you sing?"
Joseph answered for me. "He is rather new to this but I believe he will make a fine tenor. He might want to sit next to a strong voice."
"Of course," Mrs. Tailor said. "If George is here tonight you can sit next to him. We'll see how it works out." She reached towards a stack of folders on top of the piano. "Here is a folder of the things we are working on. Why don't you look at them with Joseph."
I took the folder and Joseph and I sat down to look at it while Mrs. Tailor went back to her pounding. Joseph started going through the manuscripts trying to tell me a little about some of them. I looked at all the lines of music with lots of little black notes running up and down and had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.
"I don't know if this is going to work or not," I said.
Joseph laughed and closed the folder. "Well the music has the words on it and you can read that. The notes you will learn by listening. Just like London Bridge."
I took a deep breath. "I'll give it a shot."
After a few minutes some people started coming in and Joseph made a point of introducing me to all of them. He named me and introduced me as his friend, to which they all smiled as if they were genuinely pleased to meet me. A short balding man was introduced as George and I was to sit next to him. Joseph, I found out, was a baritone and sat immediately behind me. When I asked what a baritone was Joseph explained that sometimes he sang with the tenors and sometimes with the basses.
When everyone was there we began by quickly going over the hymns for the coming Sunday. Then we worked on several anthems and spent most of the time on the one that was to be sung on Sunday. I basically tried to follow the words while I listened to George. I don't think I sang more than a few notes but began to get a feel for what they were doing. George was very patient and tried to point out where they were and help me understand. When we finished I thanked him and he was more encouraging than honest. At least by keeping my mouth shut I didn't screw anything up. I was a little discouraged but Joseph said not to worry about it, that I would pick things up as we went along.
After it was over we went back to the room with the pop machine and each got a cold soda. "I don't think I am quite ready to suit up." I said.
Joseph laughed. "No, you might want to wait a few weeks before you jump in. Then we will find a choir robe for you."
I laughed too. "If Mrs Tailor tells me that they don't have a robe in my size I'll take the hint."
"Oh I think you will do all right," Joseph said. "I can't imagine that you would accept defeat so easily."
We finished our soda and then went outside. Alice was waiting in the big Lincoln so he slid inside and I jumped on my bike. It was dark by now and I rode the short distance back to the apartment by the light of the street lamps. It had cooled off a little and I felt like I was flying on the 10-speed. It was fun to ride at night, feeling the wind against my face, and smelling the fumes from traffic mixed with the frying meat smells from passing restaurants. I had a pretty good feeling about the choir. I wasn't going to be great shakes as a singer but I was going to do something new, and I was doing it with Joseph.
The next day at school I hurried out of my 6th hour gym class and walked quickly to the East end of the school, not even stopping to throw my books in my locker. I got there just as the classes were emptying out into the hall. I didn't know which room Joseph's math class was in but positioned myself so that I could see in both directions. In just a moment I saw Joseph walk out of a room about half way down the hall and I headed for him. Before I caught up with him I saw a scruffy kid follow him out and say something to him. Joseph turned and before he could really react the kid elbowed him into the lockers.
I walked up to hear Joseph say, "Leave me alone! I haven't done anything to you."
"What's the matter sissy boy?" the other kid snarled, "you stub your toe, faggot?
I felt a hot flush of anger pass over me and stepped up next to Joseph from behind. I quickly glanced both ways and didn't see anybody who looked like a teacher.
Looking at the kid who had pushed Joseph I snapped, "Watch where you're going."
The kid looked at me with surprise. "What?"
I said, "Don't mess with my friend."
The kid curled his lip in disgust. "Who the fuck are you?"
I was standing with my arms folded across my chest slightly bent forward with my weight on my toes. I raised my left hand up above my head and glanced up at it. "Watch out Jeff," I said quietly.
When he looked up at my hand I stepped forward quickly and popped him square on the nose with a hard straight right, rotating my fist like my Dad had told me that boxers do. The force of the blow knocked him off his feet so that he sat down hard on his ass with a look of total amazement on his face. He didn't try to stand up but sat there stunned with a thin trickle of blood running from his nose.
I shoved my hands in my pockets so that I looked as innocent as possible. It happened so quickly that only the people in the immediate area saw what had happened. They laughed at him as I leaned over a little and looked the kid straight in the eye, "Don't mess with my friend, OK?" Then I turned to Joseph and said, "Let's go."
We walked away quickly while the kid was still sitting on his butt in the middle of the hall. When we got outside Joseph looked at me with his eyes very wide. "Are you OK? How did you do that?"
Until right then I had been very cool and calm. But now that it was over I got kind of excited. "That worked out pretty good didn't it? Never underestimate the element of surprise," We both laughed loudly, savoring our victory.
We got to the flagpole just as the Lincoln appeared in the distance. "I can't believe you did that," Joseph said. "You rescued me. Just like in a movie."
"Aw shucks, twarn't nothin," I said with a silly grin.
"No, really," oseph said with a catch in his voice. "I am in your debt. No one has ever intervened on my behalf before. At least not like that."
"Hey, it's OK," I reassured him. "It's not that big a deal really."
Joseph looked at me with a very intent expression. "It is to me," he said, and turned to the Lincoln as it pulled up beside us. "Are you stopping by the house?"
"Sure," I said. "I'll be right behind you."
When I got to Joseph's house he and Alice were still standing in the garage. The Lincoln had been held up by the after school traffic around the school and I initially had slipped far ahead of them. I took a couple of short cuts and was not far behind when they turned into the driveway.
"Hello. You can really move on that thing," Joseph said.
"Stand back, I'm coming through," I laughed breathlessly. "This bike really gets me around a lot faster."
Joseph shook his head a little, "Nothing stops you does it Nick?"
Alice looked at me and said, "Joseph says you helped him with a little problem. Thank you so much."
I didn't know what Joseph had told her so I just said, "No problem Alice."
Once we were in the house we ate a piece of pie that Alice set out for us and then Joseph motioned for me to follow him up to his room. Once we were inside he closed the door and turned to face me.
"What's up?" I asked. "What did you say to Alice?"
Joseph shook his head. "I had to tell her something yesterday because she had to wait for me to get out of the office. I told her that there was this boy who had been rude to me and that we had words. On the way home just now I told her that you had talked to the boy and it was all settled now," Joseph chuckled in an embarrassed way. "You did settle it didn't you?"
I laughed, "I made him sit down and think about it didn't I?"
"Yes you did," Joseph smiled. "I hope he decides to leave me alone after this."
"He probably will," I assured him. "Once you call a bully's bluff that is generally the end of it. If not, I will have to talk with him again."
"Nicky," oseph said, looking very serious and putting his hands on my shoulders. "You are the bravest most wonderful friend I have ever had or ever will have. I don't know how to thank you." Then he pulled me close and hugged me tight.
I held him close and pressed my ear into the side of his neck. "Hey, it's no big deal. It's not like he was gonna kill you or anything."
"No, it IS a big deal." Joseph said, kissing the side of my face. "I'm not surprised that you knocked him down. I could have guessed that you could best him. But he was labeling me a queer and you stepped in and defended me. To some people, that paints you with the same brush. It is terribly brave of you to do that."
I turned my face to kiss Joseph on the neck. "I didn't even think of that. I just wanted to make him leave you alone."
"Well, you are my hero," Joseph said, putting his face very close to mine. "And I love you for it. I love you very much Nicky."
I answered by kissing him full on the lips and holding him even tighter. He made a little whimpering sound and held the back of my head while he kissed me very passionately. I could feel the blood rush to my head and to my cock as it began to rise rapidly. I could feel Joseph press against the length of me and it made me terribly horny. All of the emotion of the encounter with the bully now surfaced and turned itself into a desire to be intimate with Joseph. I could feel his long cock pressing against my groin and put my hands on his butt cheeks to pull him closer to me.
The moment was shattered by an insistent tap on the bedroom door. "Joseph? Will you be coming down soon?" His mother called through the closed door.
Joseph and I jumped apart and Joseph answered, "Oh yes Mother, we will be right down."
We both quickly adjusted ourselves and Joseph opened the door to see his mother turning to go down the stairs. He closed his eyes and shuddered as he motioned for me to follow him downstairs.
Joseph's mother was standing in the piano room downstairs when we came in. She said to Joseph, "I'm sorry to bother you dear, but I wasn't sure where you had gotten off to and I need to discuss something with you."
"Yes of course Mother, what is it?" Joseph said as I felt the hair rise up on the back of my neck.
"Your father is going out of town this weekend to a golf tournament and is simply insisting that I go with him. I know we had planned to go over to Oklahoma City but he just insists. Alice will be here and I wondered if you minded too much being left alone on short notice."
"Of course mother, that would be lovely for you and Dad to have a weekend together," Joseph said, not missing a beat. "I'll be just fine. Perhaps Nick can stay over and keep me company."
"Ah, sure," I said quickly, "I'll have to ask my parents but I might be able to do that."
"Oh good then,that's settled. I will leave some money so you can call out for something if you like," Joseph's mother said cheerily. "Well, I will put some things together and leave you alone," Then for my benefit, "Joseph needs to practice."
As soon as she left Joseph and I looked at each other and laughed with relief. "I thought we were busted," I said quietly.
"So did I. Father mentioned the golf tournament some time ago but I had forgotten about it. Do you think you can stay over?"
"I don't know. Can I use your telephone?"
I took the offered phone and called home. Mom answered and was not thrilled with the idea. "You slept over there last weekend," She objected. I explained about the golf tournament. "You have been over there with that boy every day. I think you need to give it a rest." She said firmly.
"Tomorrow's Saturday. What about tomorrow night?" asked. "I could stay over and keep Joseph company and then go to church with him in the morning."
She wavered a little. "Well you need to come on home now and we can discuss it with your father at dinner."
That sounded like my best shot. "OK Mom, I'll be home in just a little while."
I hung up and turned to Joseph. "I can't tonight but I think I can tomorrow night. We have to discuss it with my father," I said with a wry smile.
"Good, good," Joseph said. "That will be lovely if it works out."
"Alice will be here?" I asked.
"Yes, but she is officially off duty on the weekends unless there is a party or something like that," Joseph explained. "She will be around and in and out, and will sleep in her quarters over the garage. If I need her for something I can call her but otherwise she is invisible."
"That sounds pretty cool," I smiled, and then laughed out loud when Joseph returned my smile with a wink.
"I guess I better go so you can practice," I said.
"Yes, I suppose you should," Joseph said. "Let me know how your discussion goes and I hope to see you tomorrow. If you come early enough we can go to a movie or something."
"I'll call you in the morning," and ran my finger quickly down the center of his chest. "Take it easy."
Joseph smiled and pursed his lips. "Hmm, I hope to hear good news. Until tomorrow then."
I jumped on the bike and rode hard all the way home, mentally rehearsing my arguments for the dinner discussion.
As soon as I got home I asked Mom about staying over at Joseph's on Saturday night. I could tell she had some problems with it.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Nicky, you have been with that boy almost constantly for the past two weeks. I just don't remember your wanting to do that before. I guess I don't understand."
"But he is really a neat guy Mom," I tried to explain, "He is different from any friend I have ever had before. And you have said that we are good for each other. Besides, if I don't stay over he will be all alone, well except for the housekeeper, and I will see him at church Sunday morning anyway."
Mom didn't answer directly, she just looked at me in a very thoughtful way. "I'll discuss it with your father."
That was not the same as saying that 'we' would discuss it with Dad but the conversation was over. I went into the bedroom where Kevin was sitting cross-legged on his bed working out his math homework. He looked up at me as I walked in and flopped down on my bed.
"Hey," he said.
I didn't answer.
"What's up?" he asked, "You look a little pissed."
"Aw, nothing" I grumbled. "Well, Joseph's parents are going to be away this weekend and he asked me to stay over to keep him company but Mom is wigging out."
Kevin cocked his head to one side a little. "You really like Joseph a lot, don't you?"
Something about the way he said that made me feel defensive. "What do you mean by that?"
Kevin slipped his note paper into his math book and closed it in his lap to look me in the eye. "I mean that since you met Joseph you don't seem to think about much else but being with him. I guess you really like him a lot. That's what I mean."
"So is there something wrong with that?" I snapped.
Kevin stared at me for a moment as if thinking of how to respond then opened his math book and looked back at his homework. I felt bad about snapping at him but was filled with a sense of anxiety. What did he mean? What did he think about me and Joseph? Did he suspect that we were lovers? Damn, this was my brother. I cared what he thought.
"Hey, I'm sorry," I said sincerely, "I didn't mean to sound like I was pissed at you. I guess I do care what you think."
Kevin looked back up at me. "Are you asking me?"
I could feel my heart start to pound as I said, "Yeah, I'm asking. What do you think?"
My little brother laid his book next to him then leaned back against the wall. "I think that you like Joseph a whole lot, that maybe he is the best friend you have ever had. I guess that you like Joseph in a different way than other guys. I don't know exactly how it works, but he is really important to you."
My hands started to sweat and I felt my skin prickle a little. "What do you mean a different way?"
Kevin took in a deep breath and let out a long sigh. He had been looking me right in the eyes like he usually did when he talked to me and then he looked away. "I don't know Nick. It just seems different with you and Joseph."
I wanted to ask him to say more but was afraid of what he might say. I held my breath and waited.
Kevin looked back at me and his eyes locked on mine. "Nick," he said, "You are my big brother. I have always looked up to you and respected you. You are a good athlete. You make friends easily and people like you. You are gung-ho about everything. I admire you. But more than that you have, I don't know, a good heart."
"A lot of my friends talk about what assholes their brothers are, but you have always been decent to me. If some guy gave me a bad time, you would be all over them, I know that. I think I'm lucky that you are my brother. It sounds pretty dorky to say this, but I love you. I'm not saying that you can't do any wrong, but if something or someone is really important to you then I am cool with that. I guess what I am saying is that whatever is up between you and Joseph is OK with me. You are my brother and I can take you like you are."
As Kevin told me this his voice got soft and thick and his eyes clouded a little. It took me a minute to realize what he was saying, then I got it. He guessed there was more than a casual friendship between Joseph and me, but no matter what, he was cool with it. I felt a flood of relief.
My lips trembled a little as I said, "Thanks Kevin. I didn't know you felt like that."
"You feel the same way about me Nick. You are just too cool to say so."
A lump formed in my throat, "Yeah, you're right, I do. And I'm glad you said it."
Mom called us for dinner and Kevin and I talked and joked at the table like usual. Nothing was said about my staying over with Joseph and I didn't bring it up. Mom was going to talk to Dad about it and they would let me know what they decided. I had the feeling that things were going to work out like they were supposed to and just let it go at that. That night I laid in my bed listening to Kevin breathing in his sleep and felt very thankful for him. I guess neither of us would trade brothers.
At breakfast. Mom said that she and Dad had agreed that I could spend the night with Joseph. Just like that, no discussion, no nothing. They would pick us up after church and we could all go for pizza in honor of all the birthdays.
"All right!" Kevin said. "How about 3 large pizzas, one for me, one for Nick, and one for Joseph?"
"I suppose you wouldn't mind sharing with your father and I?" Mom laughed.
"What about Jack?" I asked, "Can we invite him?"
"Of course," Dad said. "That Jack is a fine young man. He is doing a lot of good work for me."
I didn't say much. Things were going too well to risk messing up. I did get permission to call Joseph to let him know and he suggested that I come over early enough so that we could ride bikes together. I got this Oked then got my homework out of the way. I didn't want any trip ups.
At about one in the afternoon I put on my bike helmet, strapped my gym bag of clothes to my bike and rode the 10 speed over to Joseph's. He was sitting out on his little balcony and saw me ride up. By the time I had the bike parked he was outside to greet me.
"Hi Nick. I'm so glad you could come early. We will have time to do something."
"Yeah, I can't believe it went so smooth. What do you want to do?"
"Well, for now...," Joseph laughed, "It is really a beautiful day. Would you like to go bicycle riding?"
"Sure." I agreed.
"Are you sure?" Joseph asked, "I mean, you ride every day, maybe you are tired of it."
"I don't ride with you every day. Let's go, I like to ride."
Joseph stepped inside the garage and opened the electric door. He grabbed a helmet and pushed his bike out closing the door behind him. He was all ready to go.
"You go first Nick. I'll follow you. Show me how you go home."
I straddled the bike and grinned. "Try and keep up."
I tossed my bag onto the steps then took off down Joseph's driveway and through his neighborhood to 31st street, then West towards the river with Joseph right behind me. I was used to riding fast and had to watch behind me to make sure he was keeping up. Those long legs were pumping.
We stopped at Riverside and waited for a break in the traffic then walked our bikes across to the Rivertrail that ran between Riverside Drive and the Arkansas River itself. The Rivertrail was neat. It started up near downtown and ran for miles next to the river in a kind of strip park. There were play grounds for little kids, soccer fields, Frisbee golf courses, and picnic areas all down the length of it. The trail was always a good place to ride a bike, or jog, or roller skate.
I turned north towards downtown with Joseph right behind. Just before the pedestrian bridge was the underbrush where Tony and I had sex last summer. I wondered what Joseph would think if he knew about that. At the bridge I looked back and Joseph looked like he was fading a little so I stopped and waited for him.
"How ya doin'?" I asked.
Joseph braked to a stop and put his feet down. "You ride fast," he puffed, a little out of breath.
I laughed, "I'm used to riding. Want me to slow down?"
"No, that's all right," Joseph said gamely, "Just keep me in sight."
"Hey, don't worry, I won't lose you. I wouldn't want to do that."
Joseph took a long drink from the water bottle he had clipped to his bike. "Are we going to where you live? I've never seen your apartment."
"Sure, we are headed that way," I suddenly had a twinge of concern that Joseph would be pretty disappointed with our little apartment. It was nothing like the big house he lived in.
"Is that where Jack lives too?" he asked.
"Yes, he lives on the top floor. I think I told you that he is doing some remodeling for my dad in exchange for his rent."
"You told me that," Joseph said. "It must be nice having Jack in the same building with you."
"It would be if I ever saw him. He is either at school or working. I guess he works on the apartments in the middle of the night. I hardly ever see him.'
"Jack is wonderful," Joseph said sincerely.
"He is. Oh, I forgot to tell you. Mom wants us to get together after church tomorrow for pizza. You know, since we all have birthdays so close together."
"Oh, that will be fun. A birthday party. It will be fine if I leave Alice a note telling her where I am," Joseph looked very pleased.
I laughed with him. "Yeah, it will be fun. It was Mom's idea too."
After another minute we took off again. I dropped the pace a little and Joseph kept up with me until we got to the hill going north on Denver. I looked back and could see he was struggling so I slowed down for him.
"Gear down, down shift your front dérailleur," I yelled at him.
He looked a little confused then nodded and down shifted into a lower gear. "I see, that's better. He stood up and cranked but did not have to stop."
I pointed at the apartment building when we got near it. Joseph caught up with me and we rode around to the back and slipped the bikes into the shed. He followed me in the back door and down the hall to our apartment.
"Well, this is it," I said, and opened the door.
The morning newspaper was piled on the floor and Kevin was stretched out on the sofa with a baseball game on TV.
"Hey," I said.
"Hey yourself," Kevin answered, looking around. "Hi Joseph."
"Hello Kevin," Joseph answered. "How's the ball game?"
Kevin glanced back at the TV with a blank look. "I really can't tell you." he said with a chuckle, "I was asleep."
"Where is everybody?" I asked.
"Well I'm here on the sofa," Kevin said sarcastically, "and Mom and Dad are out plundering a mall somewhere."
"Well, that's what I meant. Me and Joseph rode our bikes over here from his house."
"Way to be," Kevin said, looking approvingly at Joseph.
"I slowed us down a little, but we made it," Joseph said humbly.
"Nah, he did good. Hey, where's Jack?"
"I think he's here." Kevin answered. "Dad said he is working on number 24."
Looking at Joseph I asked, "Want to go talk to Jack?"
"Yes, but while we are here could you show me your room?"
"Sure," I said, not really sure I wanted him to see the little room I shared with Kevin.
Stepping into the bedroom I waved my hand. "Here it is. This side is Kevin's and the messy side is mine."
Joseph stood looking for a long minute just taking everything in, the beds, the dressers, the piles of clothing and books, the stacks of books and magazines on the window ledges.
"Good, good. Thank you." he said and then turned and stepped back into the living room. "Shall we find Jack?"
"OK, 24 is on the second floor. You know, unit four on the second floor is 24, right?" I found myself chattering as we went up the stairs, wondering what Joseph thought about my little room.
The door to unit 24 was open and inside Jack was rolling white paint on the ceiling. He was standing in a sea of spread out newspapers wearing a ratty pair of jeans and a old paint spattered white shirt. A grungy ball cap was stuck on the back of his head and he was squinting at the ceiling through plastic goggles flecked with paint.
"Hey!" Joseph and I said almost in unison.
Jack jumped and whirled around to face us. "Damn! You guys scared the shit out of me."
"Looks like we caught you working," and we all laughed.
"Looks like you did," Jack removed the cap and goggles. "What's going on?"
"Joseph and I are riding our bikes and we decided to check on you."
"I'm glad you did, I haven't seen either of you for awhile," Jack smiled, looking at Joseph. "Good to see you out and about."
"I'm having fun," Joseph said simply.
"Hey Jack. Joseph, Kevin and I all are having birthdays in the next two weeks and we are going to celebrate with a pizza party tomorrow afternoon after church. Can you come?"
"Well I suppose I will have to. I wouldn't want to miss the social event of the season. Where are you going to go?"
"I guess to the Hideaway. I'm going to church with Joseph. Are you gonna be there?"
"I can't believe you guys are talking me into going to church with you," Jack grinned. "But sure. It will do me good to take a break and catch my breath. Are you singing in the choir yet Nicky?"
"Not yet, but I went to choir practice Thursday night."
Jack just looked at me in amazement. "Is that right?
"Yup, and since you are going to church in the morning, how about picking us up at Joseph's and giving us a ride? We need to be early so Joseph can rehearse with the choir and you can go to Sunday School."
Jack laughed again. "Nick, you are the world's greatest con artist. Well OK then, I'll pick you up in the morning. Now if you will excuse me I need to get back to work on the ceiling."
"OK, bye" We said in unison.
"We'll see you tomorrow," Joseph added.
We tramped down the stairs to my apartment and told Kevin the plan for church and pizza. He would relay that to Mom and Dad. Then we decided to head back to Joseph's house. We went back to the shed and took out the bikes and helmets. I rolled out onto Denver and started back to Riverside. It would be a lot easier going back because it was mostly down hill.
We flew down Denver Hill, caught the light at the bottom green, and sailed through it and onto the trail. When we got to 31st there was a break in the traffic so we could just cruise around to Peoria. The light at Peoria was green too so we charged on down through Brookside to the Weber's Root Beer stand where we finally stopped.
Joseph was excited and out of breath. "My goodness, we were flying weren't we? We never stopped."
"Yeah we were. We made it down here in a heartbeat." I puffed. We were both laughing and out of breath. "Let's get a frosty at Weber's!"
"What's a frosty?" Joseph asked.
"You know, a frosted glass mug of root beer. They put the mugs in the freezer."
"Oh that sounds nice. I've never been here before," Joseph said.
"Really? I thought everybody had been to Weber's," I said. "It's just a few blocks from your house."
Joseph looked a little embarrassed. "Well, I've never stopped here."
"Hey, you're here now. Let's get a big one."
We ordered and soon were drinking cold root beer out of heavy glass mugs covered with a thick layer of ice. We sat on the little bench against the wall and talked and joked with each other. Joseph's hair was messed up from the biking helmet and his knit shirt was wet with perspiration under his arms and around the neck. He didn't look quite like Joseph somehow. He just looked like a regular guy.
When we finished the root beer and felt rested we got back on the bikes and rode the short distance back to Joseph's. By the time we got there it was almost six. There was a note from Alice on the kitchen table explaining what she had left for dinner and saying that she would be back from a movie later if we needed to call her. Joseph put the casserole dish in the oven and we went up to his bedroom to shower.
"Would you like to shower first?" Joseph asked.
"I was thinking that there was probably room for both of us in there."
Joseph smiled. "You might be right."
We undressed in the bedroom and threw our clothes in a pile. We walked into the big bath room together naked as jaybirds. It wasn't so much sexy as just comfortable. We had both seen each other naked before so there was not the thrill of discovery. We had been riding bikes all afternoon and were both tired and sweaty and kind of stinky.
The shower in Joseph's bathroom was amazing. It had an over-sized oval tub with water jets around the sides like a Jacuzzi. Suspended above it was a oval brass curtain rod with a while linen shower which hung down just inside the tub. In the center were two large round shower heads which could be adjusted in different directions so it was a bathtub, a Jacuzzi, and a big shower all in one. To me it looked like an indoor water playground.
Joseph turned on the water and adjusted it so it was hot, but not uncomfortably so, then stepped into the big tub. He held the shower curtain to one side and waited for me to step in with him. We each took a shower head and pointed it towards ourselves and let the hot water run over us. It felt really nice.
Joseph took a bottle of shampoo and squeezed a gob in his hand and gave the bottle to me. While he began to wash his hair I squirted some shampoo on my head and did the same. The suds ran down over my face and I closed my eyes so as not to get soap in them. After a moment I felt my hands being pushed away and Joseph started to scrub my scalp for me. I dropped my hands to my sides and let him wash my hair. The hot steamy water rolled over me and the shampoo smelled nice. His strong fingers scratched away all the itchiness from the bike helmet then rubbed the back of my neck and my shoulders. I felt his hands slide over my shoulders and rub over my chest and stomach as he hugged me from behind. I leaned my head back onto his shoulder and held his arms against me.
Joseph kissed the crook of my neck just above my shoulder then stepped back to spray water over my head and rinse me off, using his hands to loosen the soap from my hair until it was all gone. Then he stepped away and bowed his head to me to ask for his turn.
I scrubbed his head as he had done mine. Neither of us spoke but adjusted ourselves to each other. After the shampoo he took a soft wash cloth and soaped it up and began at my neck and washed me all over. He didn't miss a spot, but was more intent on gently cleaning me than playing any sexual games. When he finished he handed the cloth to me and smiled for me to take my turn. I washed Joseph like a mother cleans a child, gently and thoroughly. It wasn't really erotic but was extremely intimate and I was touched by the tenderness of all this.
When we were both washed and rinsed, Joseph turned off the water and bent slightly to kiss me softly on the lips. "I'm hungry, let's eat," he whispered. "We have all evening to play."
I kissed him back and stepped wordlessly after him, taking the soft towel he handed me to dry myself. I felt like a colt being gentled.
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