Summers End

by Ryan Bartlett

Chapter 3

Alec

I didn't realize how far Summers End was from the actual town of Nantucket until that bike ride. I'd been half asleep on the drive from the ferry the night before and as we pedalled along the country road I swear my legs were punishing me for neglecting my running. Once we left the compound we passed what looked like a country club and then there was nothing for at least a mile. At least it seemed like nothing to me but Thomas jabbered excitedly about everything we saw.

"That over there is Great Point Lighthouse. It was built in the 1700's but had to be rebuilt a few years later when the original was destroyed by fire," said Thomas.

"Fascinating," I panted. It annoyed me how much better shape he was in. We looked to be about the same size but he clearly got more exercise then I did.

"It is fascinating. That lighthouse marks the juncture at which the currents of the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound meet."

"What's so fascinating about that?"

"Well, it's important for shipping. There have been some famous shipwrecks not far from here."

"Like the Titanic? I thought that was way out at sea."

"It was. But about 50 miles south of here is where the Andrea Doria collided with the Stockholm. The Andrea Doria sank and 46 people died. There's a staging point in town where you can charter boats to dive the wreck," Thomas explained.

"I guess that's kind of cool," I admitted.

"Yeah and over that way," Thomas pointed southeast, "is where the Argo Merchant went down causing one of the largest oil spills in history."

"Anything good ever happen here?"

"Sure, lots of stuff. If you look over there, do you see that house?"

"Yeah."

"That's Peter Benchley's house," said Thomas.

"Who's that?"

"He wrote Jaws."

"Really? That is kinda cool?"

"Martha's Vineyard is about 30 miles west of us. That's where they filmed the movie," said Thomas as he stopped his bike at the top of a hill.

"Why are you stopping?"

"Thought you might want to check out the view."

I pulled alongside him and discovered that the town of Nantucket lay at the bottom of the hill. We could see everything from the village to the other side of the island. I'm glad we stopped to take it in. It was beautiful.

"What do you think?"

"It's beautiful. Thanks for stopping," I smiled.

Thomas smiled back then pedalled off and returned to jabbering.

"Nantucket was first settled by European's around 1641. The name Nantucket is an old Algonquian word meaning "in the midst of the waters." Whaling used to be big here but declined in the mid-1800's after The Great Fire."

"Great Fire?"

"Happened in 1846. I don't recall what sparked it exactly but it was fueled by whale oil and dry lumber. It took out most of the town," Thomas explained.

"You sure know a lot about this place."

"Well I grew up here," said Thomas.

"My mom said you went to boarding school."

"I do but I didn't start until junior high. I attended elementary school right here on the island," he explained.

"Boy I'm kind of jealous," I admitted.

"Why's that?"

"My mom and I move all the time. I think I went to 9 different elementary schools," I explained.

"Wow, how do you stand that?"

"I guess it's because I don't know any different. Mom's a journalist; she told me just last night for maybe the millionth time, she has to go where the stories are."

"That must be tough sometimes," said Thomas.

"Sometimes but what can you do?"

Thomas didn't answer me but he seemed to be thinking about it. By that time we'd reached the village and it seemed like there wasn't anyone Thomas didn't know. He exchanged hello's with a traffic cop, the butcher, a couple coming out of a coffee shop, a guy walking into the barber and a score of others until we finally stopped on the edge of town near some rundown old house.

"Ok, how do you know all those people? I mean yeah we live in the city but I don't even know my neighbors let alone the whole town," I exclaimed.

"Well, I grew up here and it's a close knit community. There are only ten-thousand year round residents, the rest just come for the summer."

"The rest?"

"You know, tourists and stuff. The island's population rises to about fifty-thousand in the summer."

"Wow. Anyway, what's this place?" I asked, gesturing at the old house.

"Mr. Russet's house," said Thomas, as he walked up the seashell path and knocked on the door.

I heard what sounded like wheezing and then a tiny old man opened the door. He looked to be about a hundred years old. He had a mighty hump and breathed heavily into an oxygen mask. Despite the mask his face brightened into a warm smile when he saw Thomas.

"Well howdy stranger," said Mr. Russet as Thomas hugged him. "Who's your friend?"

"Hi Mr. Russet. This is Alec. He's a guest at Summers End."

"Nice to meet you young man," the old man smiled and shook my hand.

"Yeah, you too," I nodded.

"Mr. Russet taught me how to play the piano," Thomas explained. "He taught all of the Lodge children."

"Well tried too," the old man smiled. "I'm afraid young Tommy here is the only one that ever really took to it."

"Are you any good?" I asked Thomas.

"Well…" he hesitated.

"Don't let him con you," Mr. Russet chuckled. "Tommy's one of the finest pianists I've ever trained."

"Awesome," I smiled and Thomas blushed.

"If we're lucky maybe he'll play something for us," Mr. Russet hinted. That's when I noticed his grand piano. I don't know how I missed it before the instrument dominated the tiny living room.

"Maybe but not until I see my buddy," said Thomas.

"I'll be right back," smiled Mr. Russet.

"Your buddy?"

"You'll see," Thomas grinned.

Before I could say more the largest dog I've ever seen came bounding into the room and attacked Thomas with slobbery kisses.

"Down Nanook," Thomas commanded.

The massive dog sat at his feet and whined.

"Ah-ah, say please," said Thomas.

The dog made some kind of guttural sound and then Thomas produced the baggy full of bacon from his pocket. I've always been a little nervous around big dogs and I thought this beast might rip Thomas's arm off to get that bacon but he sat calmly as Thomas fed him piece after piece.

"What is that thing?" I exclaimed.

"He's not a thing," said Thomas as he got down on his knees and hugged the big dog. "Nanook's a Siberian Husky. Aren't you boy?"

Nanook barked his answer and Thomas buried his face in the dog's neck.

"How did he get so big though? I mean this guy's huge!"

"He's a freak," said Mr. Russet.

"He doesn't like that word," said Thomas, covering Nanook's ears.

"Tough shit," laughed Mr. Russet. "That's what he is. His momma was a tiny little thing by comparison. Sometimes a pup is just born that way."

"Wow."

"You wanna pet him?" asked Thomas.

"I don't know. Me and big dogs don't usually get along so well."

"Ah come on, he's harmless," said Thomas.

"Alright," I sighed and held out my hand. Nanook sniffed it tentatively and then started rubbing his head against my fingers.

"He wants you to scratch his ears," said Thomas.

I did as Thomas instructed and as I scratched Nanook's ears the dog practically purred in delight.

"Here, give him the rest of this," said Thomas as he handed me the baggy of bacon and set off for the piano.

Thomas opened the lid on the piano before taking a seat at the bench. He played a few notes then cracked his knuckles and played a few more before announcing he was ready.

"Any requests this morning?"

"How about a little Sonata Number 23?" asked Mr. Russet.

"Gee nothing like starting me off with something easy," Thomas grinned.

"You don't need anything easy," said Mr. Russet.

Thomas closed his eyes and sat for a moment. At first I thought maybe he'd forgotten the song Mr. Russet had asked for but just when I was about to ask him what he was doing his fingers began to fly across the keys. I've ever seen anyone play the piano so fast before. I'm not much for classical music but I think I'm good at recognizing talent when I see it and Mr. Russet was right, Thomas was AMAZING! I sat there feeding the big dog bacon and stealing an occasional piece for myself while Thomas played song after song at the old man's request. When he was finished I was completely blown away.

When it was time to go Mr. Russet begged us to stay but Thomas said we had to be heading back. He reminded the old man that he'd be back in a few days, gave Nanook one last scratch behind the ears and then we walked out to our bikes.

"What?" asked Thomas when he got on his bike and found me staring at him slack-jawed.

"Dude, you rock!"

"Nah, I've just had good teachers," Thomas blushed.

"That was insane! That first piece you played, I can't believe how fast you were going."

"Well that piece is called the Appassionatta. You can't play something passionately slow," Thomas smiled.

"Whatever, that was cool."

"Thanks."

"So you come here a lot?"

"Sure. I like visiting with Mr. Russet. He taught me for a number of years and now his arthritis is so bad he can't play anymore. I come and play for him."

"Thomas, that's really nice of you."

"Hey it's not all for his benefit. I get to play with Nanook."

"You really like that dog huh?"

"I love dogs. I've never been able to have my own. Mrs. Lodge is allergic."

"You know something Thomas, you're full of surprises."

"Yeah?"

"Well you're sure not the uptight preppy I expected when I met you this morning," I grinned.

"That's ok," Thomas smiled. "Most of the military school guys I've met are total pricks but you seem pretty cool."

"How did you know…Wait, the hair right?"

"It's something of a dead giveaway," Thomas grinned.

"Yeah well I used to go to St. Albans until I got kicked out."

"What did you get kicked out for?" Thomas inquired.

"Got caught blowing the choir," I smiled and pedalled off.

Thomas

"You did not!" I blushed.

"Maybe," Alec called over his shoulder.

I pedalled after him but he didn't say anything else about getting kicked out of school. I couldn't believe he said what he'd said! He just admitted he was gay or at least I think he did. I mean you can't blow girls but the way he said it and the smirk on his face, I wasn't sure if I could take him seriously. Alec was cute in a way I'd never known before and I wanted him to be gay so badly I felt like maybe I was projecting onto him.

"Ok enough of this tour-guide stuff," said Alec, bringing my attention back to him. "Is there anything fun to do in this town?"

"Uh, well, we could go back to the compound. I could take you out on one of the boats," I offered.

"Now you're talking," said Alec as he stood up on his bike and pedalled faster.

An hour later we returned to Summers End and while James kindly stored our bikes and helmets, I took Alec around back and down to the boathouse. He was clearly disappointed when I walked past the three vintage Chris Craft speedboats and selected a 20-foot sailboat with a small outboard motor for in port maneuvering.

"All these boats and you want to go out in that?" said Alec.

"We don't have a lot of options."

"You've got three speedboats right there," he pointed for clarity.

"Three speedboats and no license," I pointed out. "Come on, this will be fun. I promise."

"Alright, I guess we don't have a choice," he sighed.

"Here, put this on first," I handed him an orange life jacket.

"I can swim."

"Me too but if we get stopped by the Coast Guard without life jackets Mrs. Lodge will be rather upset."

"This just gets better and better," Alec grumped as he put on his life jacket and climbed aboard the boat.

Alec's ever present grin was replaced with a cute little frown as I used the outboard to get us out of the boathouse and away from the shore. We weren't going more than one or two miles an hour but that would change once we hoisted our sails. We weren't in the fastest boat Summers End had to offer but it was a windy day and we'd pick up a lot of speed once we were off the beach.

A hundred yards from shore I felt the wind pushing the boat more than the little outboard could compensate for. I shut the motor off but Alec didn't even notice. He as sitting with his chin in his hands watching the shore with those big blue eyes. I thought it was time to cheer him up.

"Alright Mr. Carstairs, prepare to come about and hoist the mainsail," I ordered in my best nautical lingo.

"Huh?" said Alec with a raised eyebrow.

"We're going to come about, that means I'm going to turn us into the wind. Watch the boom when I do so you don't hit your head. Once we're in position, take that rope next to you and pull it until the sail is up," I explained.

"Oh, right, got it," said Alec, sheepishly. He clearly hadn't been around many boats.

"Alright, coming about now! Get that sail up," I ordered. You have to give very clear instructions on a sailboat.

Alec pulled on the rope with all his might and when the sail was up, I had him tie it off on one of the metal cleats. The sail billowed for a second but when it caught the wind I felt the boat rise out of the water a bit and glide along the waves as we picked up speed. It was a small boat and we weren't going very fast but it was enough to cheer Alec up. He took all of my orders and made a pretty good first mate as we spent the afternoon touring the island.

"What's that over there?" said Alec, pointing at a lighthouse on a deserted beach.

"That's Sankaty Head Lighthouse," I shouted over the wind.

"Can we stop for a while?"

"Ok," I replied.

There's a protected cove nestled close to the lighthouse. I showed Alec how to strike the sail and then used the outboard to move us in close. I had to keep an eye on our depth so as not to run aground on some shallow sandbar. When we finally stopped I moved to the bow to weigh anchor. I'd just finished tying us off when I heard Alec shout, "Wahoo!" I turned in time to catch his underpants with my face and peel them away as he splashed naked into the sea.

"Fuck its cold!" he shouted when he surfaced.

"I could have told you that if you'd asked," I admonished while still holding his briefs.

"Whatever, jump in!"

"I didn't bring my suit."

"Clearly I didn't either or you wouldn't be holding my underwear," Alec giggled.

I rolled my eyes at the little garment and then tossed them on top of his shirt and shorts.

"I don't know," I mumbled. I was nervous about being naked with him.

"Come on, there's no one around, just me. It's not like you've never been naked with another boy before. Right Mr. Big Time Prep School Baseball Jock?" Alec snickered.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean," I demanded.

"Don't you take showers after games and practice?"

"Well, yes."

"Ok, so get your ass in this water with me," Alec insisted.

"Fine!" I shouted if for no reason other than to get him to stop nagging me.

"This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy," I muttered to myself as I stripped down and dumped my clothes next to Alec's.

I didn't want to waste my time standing around on deck letting Alec look at my dick or worse, notice him looking and get hard, so I dove right in.

"Fuck its cold!" I shouted when I surfaced.

"I could have told you that if you'd asked," said Alec, mocking my voice.

I stared at him for a couple of seconds then reached out and dunked him under the water. He was laughing when he surfaced and quickly launched a counter attack.

"You're so dead when I catch you," Alec shouted.

"Gotta catch me first," I giggled and swam away.

He grabbed my foot and used it to pull himself closer to me and then it was my turn to go under the waves. We spent the next hour playing in the surf, dunking each other and wrestling for dominance. The feel of his sea slick body sliding against mine was exquisite and it took all of my will power not to pop a boner. When we were tired out we climbed back onto the boat. I hadn't thought to bring any towels but the sun was shining and it was a warm day so we lay on the deck to air dry. I was on my back with my feet pointed towards the bow. Alec's head was next to mine but his feet were pointed towards the stern. We lie there as the sun warmed our bodies and the sea rocked the little boat.

"Can I ask you something?" said Alec.

"Sure."

"How did you end up living here?"

"Well, my mother died when I was 5," I started.

"What about your dad?"

"I-I don't know who he is," I blushed. I hate telling people that. The not knowing embarrasses me like it's a shameful secret I'm not supposed to share.

"I'm sorry, that's sad."

"It's ok."

"How did you end up with Mrs. Lodge?"

"She was friends with my grandmother, knew my mom when she was a girl. When my mom died it was Mrs. Lodge and James the chauffer who came to the hospital to get me. She made all the arrangements for mom's funeral and then brought me here."

"That must have been kind of scary."

"It was pretty overwhelming. Summers End can be a little intimidating when you're 5."

"Or 15," Alec giggled.

"You'll get used to it after you've been here a while," I assured him.

"I don't really know my father either," said Alec.

"You don't?"

"Well, I know him but I never see him. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I think I understand. Why don't you see him?"

"He's a colonel in the British army. He lives in England. I wanted to spend the summer there but he volunteered to go to Afghanistan," Alec explained. "Better to risk getting your head blown off then spend the summer with your faggot son, right?"

"Alec, I'm sure he doesn't think that."

"That's what my mom says but I don't know," Alec sighed.

"For what it's worth I've only known you for a day but I think you're quite fun to spend time with," I blushed but turned to face him and met his blue eyes with mine.

"Thanks," he grinned.

"So you really are gay?"

"Yeap."

"I thought you might be joking when you said you blew the choir."

"I was," Alec laughed. "It wasn't the choir, just a choir boy."

"Seriously?"

"I shouldn't have done it in the National Cathedral. That was a mistake," Alec admitted.

"You didn't?" I exclaimed. I was sure he was putting me on again.

"Not the smartest thing I've ever done but have you ever had that feeling where you wanted something so bad you couldn't help yourself?"

"No."

"Well, trust me, it's a trip," Alec giggled.

We both started laughing and when we calmed down our eyes met again.

"Can I tell you something Thomas?"

"Sure," I whispered. His face was so close to mine.

"You're pretty cute."

"I am not," I blushed and looked away.

Alec reached out and tilted my chin back so that I was looking at him again.

"Yeah, you are," said Alec and before I knew it he was pressing his lips to mine.

It was such a soft, gentle kiss and his lips felt so good against mine but I couldn't do it. This was all happening so fast. I'd admired Alec's beauty since the moment I met him and my heart went out to him when he shared his feelings about his dad but this was too much for me. The kiss overwhelmed my senses. I liked it but I was afraid of it and what it could mean for the future. I pulled away from him and practically jumped to my feet. I had my underwear and shorts back on before Alec even had the chance to sit up.

"It's getting late we better get back," I stammered as I put on my shirt and went to start the outboard.

"Thomas, I'm sorry. The way you've been looking at me all day I thought…"

"It's ok. Nothing happened. Let's just go home."

"Ok, if that's what you want," Alec sighed.

It's not what I wanted. I wanted to kiss him again. He was still naked and I wanted to touch him and do things to him that I couldn't mention in decent society. You know the things I mean, all the things 15 year old boys conjure up in their naughty hormone addled minds. But I couldn't. I couldn't face what I knew I was in my heart. I wasn't ready. At least I didn't think I was. Why does life have to be so confusing?

Alec put on his clothes and sat towards the bow. We didn't talk much on the trip back. It was mostly just me giving commands and Alec raising the sails or watching his head when we came about. He looked sad and that made me feel terrible but I wasn't sure what to do. Part of me wanted to get away from him as quickly as I could before my cautious mind lost the battle with my raging hormones.

"So uh, dinner's at 6:00. You should be dressed by 5:45 and um, don't wear those flip-flops again. Mrs. Lodge doesn't like them," I blurted out and then ran off.

I didn't stop until I got to my room. I lay on my bed and thought about the day. I met a handsome boy. I had a great time showing him the island and swimming naked with him. We went sailing and skinny dipping and when it was all over he opened up his heart to me. I kissed a boy for the first time and then I promptly hurt his feelings. God I am so awkward! I grabbed my pillow, covered my face and let out a scream. I had to do something to relieve the pressure before my head exploded!

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