Matt and Tim II
The following Thursday, the GSA again met in the lunch room. The students seemed to aimlessly wander about. It was obvious everyone felt the loss of Jim. It was almost as though they had lost any direction they once had. They slouched in chairs and on benches. Some had literally reclined on the tables, staring at the ceiling. There were mumbled voices in a steady drone, yet they lacked the excitement of previous meetings. Most of the snacks set out were barely touched.
Matt made his way to the front of the room. He hadn't called anyone to attention, but others seemed to look his way. He set a single sheet of paper on the podium. He gazed out at the others. The room began to quiet.
"...Mmm....people......You know I get up here every week and give some report, some statistics or news concerning the gay community......Well, this week....I really don't have anything! I guess I could have dug a bit deeper but I just couldn't stop thinking about Jimmy. I didn't have my mind on what I was doing.
"I realize it's a bit late in the year....yet....we still have about four months to go. We're going to have to have some kind quick vote here. We really don't have time for nominations and speeches and all that stuff...
"Jimmy said he'd sort of guide us along. It's just he's going to have to do it between classes, out in the halls. He's got to be home within a half hour after school. I guess his parents really have him under their thumb. I don't understand it. He always gave me the idea they were so much more open-minded about this. I don't know what happened to them so quickly!"
"His church!" someone called out, "...His bigoted preacher!"
"...Umm....yeah. He mentioned that."
He paced around in thought for a moment.
"...Jimmy always said it....'Don't argue with people!' And I've really got to go along with that. It's not going to solve anything! Just try to walk away from that. I know....it gets really hard at times, but we've got to be careful. We want a positive reflection on our group here. I think we're going in the right direction here. We want people to see we can do good in the community. And I think this whole PARK THING is a good idea. We've just got to be careful with our actions. Keep reminding yourself of that. It's like Tommy said last week....no drugs, alcohol, speeding or DWI's. We want to keep a positive image with the town. That's going to be hard to do. Lots of those people out there are just looking for something to bitch about!...
"...Okay....so now....this president thing! I'd say we just get together and all agree on someone to continue in Jim's place."
"How about you?" Sherry put in.
This was answered by applause and cheers.
"Oh gee!....No! I can give reports 'n stuff, but I'm no good at leading! "
"Awh, come on! You'll be fine!"
"Now we'll write down on a piece of paper here, who you think will be best for the job and we'll just go with that. Okay?"
The crude ballots were collected in a small cardboard box. Tom stood at the front of the room as Sherry stood near the chalkboard to keep tally.
Tom drew out the first paper.
Sherry wrote his name on the board with one tally mark below it.
He drew out another.
"YES!....And write your name down up there!"
Tom continued to draw slips from the box. Matt had returned to a bench beside Tim.
Matt placed his hands over his eyes.
"Oh shit!" he whispered forcefully to Tim.
A minute later it was clear by the tally marks on the board, that Matt was the new president.
"Matty....you won by a landslide!"
"No!....NO!....I can't do this!"
After several minutes of convincing, Matt seemed to relent.
Matt slowly, reluctantly went to the front of the room.
"...Oh gee....Oh gee....umm....I'm really nervous here!..."
"Matt!" Tom yelled out, "Remember our saying, 'We're all friends here!' Nobody's gonna throw knives at you!"
"Oh gee!....I'm soooo nervous."
"Matt," Mr. Heath put in calmly, "All you really have to do up there is sort of keep discussions on topic. The students here have a way of going off topic. I'm sure you'll do fine...
"Now why don't you all get back to the subject of community involvement. "
"...Umm....Yeah....umm....oh gee....umm....I'm so nervous..."
Matt took into a sudden rush for the door.
"...I GOTTA GO PEE!"
The room suddenly broke into a roar of laughter. Students began to smile again. Some went for snacks. Mr. Heath couldn't avoid a chuckle himself.
Matt entered minutes later with a slight blush.
"Everything okay?" Sherry asked.
Matt stood at the front of the room. He bowed his head, arms out at a slight angle, palms forward.
"...Oh gee," he gasped, "I JUST MADE IT!"
After another round of laughter, the room quieted.
"...Okay....umm....Sherry....What's the art department have on this waterfall so far?"
Sherry stood at her table and held out a drawing for the others to see.
"Okay, we've decided on this three-tier waterfall...
"Now we can't very well do something like this in the classroom!....Principal Emerson said we can use the garage downstairs...
"I'm sure you all know we'll need plaster, epoxy and concrete. We'll also need drills and masonry saws......These tools will need water for cooling. I've already been told this is going to be very messy at times. We'll have to clean the place up, spotless! If Mr. Emerson gets one unsatisfactory report from maintenance....we're out of there!"
Matt and Tim entered the house through the garage. They stomped snow from their feet in the utility room and removed their damp shoes. They hung their jackets from hooks. Matt opened the door to the kitchen. Ayumi stood there with a large grin.
"Good afternoon, MISTER PRESIDENT!"
Matt covered his eyes again.
"Awhhhh!....How did you hear about that?!"
"Timmy texted me......We knew you were coming, so Gramma baked a cake!"
On the kitchen table was a sheet cake with 'Congratulations' written on it.
"Awhhh! Gram, you didn't have to do all this!"
"Oh now, hush up....Oh my stars! HOW I enjoy spoiling MY BOYS!"
"Don't get too close to that cake," Ayumi put in, "That's for after supper!"
Clara waved her curved finger in the air.
"...And I made some bread pudding for desert as well!"
It was early the following Sunday morning. Sherry sat before a small make-up table in Jenny's room. She had her shoulder length blond hair up in a net. Jenny was lowering a dark brunette wig onto her head.
"Gee, I love this Cher!....For being cousins we don't see enough of each other!"
"Well, it's our goofy schedules at school. We're in tenth grade now and we've had two classes together since junior high! I think the school does that on purpose!"
Jennifer had assisted Sherry in transforming her into a shy, conservative younger girl. She was about to start applying make-up as Sherry pushed her hands away.
"Jen!....No make-up!....I've got to go into church looking.... sweet ....not looking like a....a hooker! "
"...This IS for sweet!....I'm not gonna paint you up like a tramp!"
Minutes later Sherry stood at the door.
"Okay," Jenny said, "Two blocks down, one to the left. The church is right there. You can't miss it!"
She carefully hung a bag from her shoulder.
"Okay, Cher....I gave this old purse to Tommy...
"See this brass piece here that looks like a decoration?....Well that's the lens! The camera is hidden inside the purse. All you have to do is flick this switch right here. Try to do it as casual as possible."
Minutes later, Sherry shyly walked down the isle of the church. People already sitting, took notice of her traditional dress and conservative manner. Many smiled in approval. She quietly took a seat in a pew near the isle. She opened the bulletin and scanned down to the sermon.
"Decadent America!......Oh, this should be very interesting."
She looked up at the altar. A large bronze cross was mounted to the wall above. Above this was an arch with words written in Old English, "By Faith Ye Are Saved."
She glanced along the ceiling to see dim lamps glowing in frosted globes which hung by chains.
It was here motion was detected a distance up the isle. She glanced quickly.
Jim was between his parents, walking in. They each seemed to have a tight grip on his upper arms. He simply glanced down at the floor.
"Gee....I think the only thing missing is he's not skidding his feet on the carpeting. I can see it in his body language. He doesn't want to be here..."
The organ music suddenly increased in volume as everyone stood for the first hymn. Sherry took cautious glances across the isle toward Jim. He had shrugged off this parent's hold on him and had remained seated.
"I've....I've never seen Jimmy like that. I can tell he's really pissed!...
"I hope he doesn't recognize me......Then again, I don't think he'd say anything."
Later, the preacher took up his position at the pulpit, he raised a worn, dog-eared Bible.
Sherry casually reached into her purse and tripped a switch. She heard nothing, nor saw any indicating light come on. She drew out a lace handkerchief and pretended to blot her nose in a dainty manner.
"Oh I hope this thing is working!....Tommy's pretty good at things like this. Gee, he built a small computer in science lab when he was just fourteen! He should have won at the science fair! They said his project was disqualified because he went over the allotted cost of materials! That was rotten!..."
"Sodom and Gomorrah!" the preacher bellowed, "We've all read it! We've all heard the story!"
Sherry tried to adjust her purse as it hung over the wooden arm of the pew.
"Oh gee! I hope I'm doing this right. I'm bad enough at cameras when I'm using a viewfinder ! I wish we'd had more time so I could have practiced with this."
The preacher continued in a loud, angry voice. He pounded his fist on the pulpit. He'd occasionally rush from one side of the raised altar to the other. He shook his fist and waved his Bible.
"Decadence, my brothers and sisters! This entire country is sliding into a huge cesspool! We're seeing heat waves!....droughts!....floods!....blizzards! God is punishing this country! We must wake up!....We must return to Him! We must turn our backs on all these radicals! God has warned us about false prophets!...
"...These....these CHILDREN OF SATAN! We must resist them! We must silence their hateful speech! We have to protect our precious children from this!"
He continued on, his arms made great sweeping motions. He shook his fist at one time then spread out his fingers, clawing at the air.
"...Yes! These sick homosexuals out there are trying to seduce YOUR children! They'll stop at nothing to convince them anything! Today our schools are teaching our children that this is perfectly NORMAL! ......It's nothing of the kind! It's EVIL! A man shall not lie with a man! It's against the Word of God!"
"Why do I always think of Alex and Bob when I hear this stuff? Sure they're.... boyfriends. So what? Their good people! They practically fight with each other over who's going to pick up someone's dropped textbook or notebook. They....they wait out there in the freezing wind and cold....the rain! Just waiting for Tori to come down that lift on the bus. They push her wheelchair up that slippery walk. They help little Paulie up when he falls on his crutches. Lots of times they playfully fought with each other who was going to carry him inside! They make people smile and laugh. They want everyone to feel included. They're so....so sweet !"
"...And those homosexuals are going to molest your CHILDREN! They're going to rape them! They don't care! Morality doesn't mean a THING to them! We've taken God's law away and substituted MAN'S law! God says these depraved people should be STONED TO DEATH!"
"Oh boy! What was that in Deuteronomy?....I can't recall the exact chapter....If a man rapes a young woman, he has to pay her father fifty pieces of silver and has to marry her! I wonder how he'd like his daughter marrying her rapist ! Oh what a BIGOT!...
"I'm trying to keep this camera on him. He's pacing around up there like a caged animal. He's all red in the face....No. Purple! I can see where Jimmy was expecting to see him growing horns! Oh he's so scary looking! False prophets? He spews such vicious hatred up there and warns us of false prophets?"
"...We've got to STOP this country's slide into hell! We've got to return to the Word of God! This is the truth, brothers and sisters! This book I have in my hand here!"
" Oh yeah, truth!....The world is flat....The world is at the center of the universe. Everything orbits the earth! When are people going to understand they don't know everything?...
"Oh gee, I remember way back to Sunday school. We had a wonderful teacher! The reverend's wife ! She always told us to ask ourselves, 'What would Jesus do?' Oh yeah. Stone little boys and girls because they loved someone of their sex? How can people believe this crap?! Where does all this....this hate come from?....God?....Jesus? Umm....I don't think so."
"...Yes people! The schools today actually have organizations that teach our children that these perversions are perfectly normal! "
Sherry noticed an evil glance from the preacher toward Jim.
"Yes!....Their teaching your sons that kissing other boys is perfectly normal! And they're teaching your daughters the same thing! They teaching them ANYTHING GOES!....That it's cool and that's it's the latest fad! They're recruiting our children into a life of DECADENCE! Sick perversions! Do you really want your children living that homosexual lifestyle?! They're pushing their gay agenda down the throats of our innocent children! We must stick together today! NOW! More than ever before! We've got to get this country back onto the right moral path!"
"Oh that man is either insane or he's awful deep into the closet! How do people like coming here every week and actually enjoy listening to this....this anti-Christian HATE? This....this isn't love ....this is malicious HATRED! This....this is SATANIC!"
"I'm telling you parents to keep a tight rein on your children today! Wolves in sheep's clothing! We've been warned!....Know what your children are doing out there! Know who their friends are! Know that they're being exposed to this filthy propaganda!"
"Oh yeah!....Filthy propaganda?!....Including everyone. Acceptance. Being someone's friend . Someone who a week ago, was considering suicide because they felt so lonely. Oh gee, we're so evil! Oh yeah, our message of love and acceptance just doesn't fit in with any of this....Yeah, Jimmy's right....we've made progress, but we've got a long ways to go!"
At the conclusion of the service, Sherry had considered rushing out.
"No! I don't want to draw attention to myself. Some of these kids here might recognize me. I'll let others go first. I'll stall a bit here."
She placed her handkerchief back into her purse. Drawing out her cell, she turned it on, pretending she was reading and sending a text. As the crowd neared the door, she noticed a sign for the restrooms.
"I'll go hide in there for a bit. Stall around for a few more minutes."
As she neared the restrooms, she noticed a side entry. Quickly looking around, she noticed nobody was looking her way. She quickly went for the door, only to find it locked. She twisted the tiny lock on the knob and silently walked out.
Matt and Tim sat at their usual table for lunch on Monday. Scooter and Toby quickly joined them. Soon Ethan and Ryan sat.
"...So Ethan," Matt began, "...Umm, you don't have to say anything private, but how'd things go with the psychologist?"
"...Well, she doesn't think I'm exactly bi....like everyone else thinks."
He began to organize his tray before him.
"...She thinks I'm gay......but....questioning!...
"...It's like I told her though. All these boys I talked to....they all tell me that they kinda knew....I mean all along! They felt....different! Well, I never felt like that. And I even told her that I never really thought about any of it! She just thinks that my change didn't start until last fall. She thinks I'm like a year behind everyone else. But I mean lots of boys eventually....change. Some sooner, some later."
He held out his hand to Scooter and Toby.
"Even Scoot 'n Tob here admitted it....well, kinda. They were eight years old when they were kinda huggin' and cuddlin' and stuff. Okay, they didn't exactly understand it at the time....but they still kinda knew! I never went through any of that!"
"Well, I didn't either!" Ryan put in.
"Well okay, but when it....kinda happened......You knew about it! Like almost instantly."
"Well, not really....I think....well, it wasn't exactly umm....questioning with me. I think I was kinda trying to deny it to myself. I knew all of us went through like kinda stages. Well, that's all I thought about it at first....It was a phase I was going through!"
He paused, picking up his burger and glanced at Ethan.
"Well until last fall....When I saw you!"
"Rye!....You saw me all through seventh grade!"
"Well, yeah! And we kinda hung-out around school and that. It was last fall that I really....umm....noticed you!......That library thing!....Our history papers?"
Ethan could only blush and begin eating.
Jim suddenly approached the table. He was without a tray or even a juice or soda.
"....So Matty! Congratulations at being elected!"
"I wasn't elected!......I was....railroaded!"
"Oh don't be like that. You'll do fine....
"So word's out that you wanted to see me today..."
Matt got to his feet and dug a flash drive from his pocket. He sat down and pushed it across the table toward Jim.
"And this is?..."
"THAT is a video of your preacher goin' through his homophobic rant yesterday!"
"Well, it's been kinda edited to fit the size of the flash. We couldn't get the whole twenty minutes on it, but we got the highlights of it...
"Now I can't mention names here. I'm not going to get anyone in trouble...
"We want you to play that for your parents. Tell 'em you don't know anything! You found that in your locker after lunch today. Umm....tell 'em you were informed by a note that's just a copy of the video. Tell 'em the kids are on your side here. Tell 'em if they don't let you go to the next GSA meeting, that video is going out onto the Net!"
"And what good's that gonna do?"
"...Do you seriously think they'll want a video of your preacher on the Net?! I mean screamin' and bitchin' about the gay agenda?! If we gotta use it....I hope it goes viral!"
Jim seemed to grin slightly.
"...Well, I guess it's worth a try, huh?"
He sobered as he took thought.
"...Gee, I've had to drop out of everything! My parents say they can't trust me anymore! I think I'm grounded until I graduate! They never used to be like this. I still say it's that hate-monger preacher that's put all this shit into their heads! My parents are not independent thinkers! They're those 'go along with the crowd' people. If someone in any position tells them something....Oh! It's the gospel truth!"
He gazed at the flash and grinned a bit.
"I'll....umm....definitely give it a try!"
Matt entered the lunch room again for their meeting on Thursday night. Everyone seemed to be engaged with some particular project. The room buzzed with activity. Tim followed into the room. Both were looking for a glimpse of Jim.
"Doesn't look like he's gonna show, huh?" Tim put in.
"Yeah, he's usually the first one in here!"
"Did he say anything to you today?"
"I never even saw him today!"
Tom walked up to them.
"Hey Tom!....No practice tonight?"
He shook his head with a somber expression.
"Look guys....Umm....You know how I like sports. It's just that this year I'm not doing all that well. I....umm....I'm kinda dropping out of that."
"Oh shit, you can't do that!"
"Nah!....I think it's just because I've got too much else on my mind right now. This outreach program you've started here. This is great! I really want to be a part of all this! And I don't mean just the gay kids. You're doing great with the others as well."
He glanced around cautiously and motioned for a table.
"Look guys....Bottom line here...
"My uncle died Tuesday."
"Well now....he lived out-of-state. My dad's brother. I really didn't even know him! I think I met him twice all my life at weddings or whatever...
"I think his wife is really....umm....out of it! I mean she's under a doctor's care right now. It was too much of a shock to her......My parents are taking her in and my cousin too. Well, at least until they kinda get on their feet again. Umm....my cousin is thirteen and she's deaf! My aunt doesn't want to take her out of the deaf school. That's where all her friends live. She'd be so alone around here! I can see her point. How could she make new friends? How could she even communicate?"
Cinnamon dropped a tray of snacks on the table as she sat. Her shiny black hair hung in ringlets over her shoulders.
"Oh shit, Tommy....I umm....I was going around with snacks....I couldn't help but catch that."
"Oh, that's okay."
"Look......I don't like to talk about it....but I had a sister who got hit by a car when she was ten years old. She didn't hear it coming......She was deaf."
She arranged the bowls of snacks on the tray.
"Me and my brothers and sisters all kinda learned signing, right along with her! I'm sure I could kinda help her out."
"Oh gee, that would just never work out. She needs a deaf school! How could she possibly learn anything here?!...
"I'm gonna talk about it to Principal Emerson tomorrow. Hey, who's better connected with education around here?"
Friday evening, Matt sat alone at the desk in Tim's room. Tim had another appointment with his orthodontist.
"Oh, I just want to get this math out of the way!...
"Why am I thinking that?....Force of habit?....I actually like it now!......And it was Timmy who helped me. Oh gee, I want so bad for him to become a teacher! It would be great!......I think even I'd like that!....Teaching!....Yeah, teaching science! Oh gee, I can just imagine the math I'll have to take to be able to do that. But I really think I'll like it! Science is considered just too geeky today. Gee, we need science more today than ever before!"
A half hour later Tim came rushing in.
"Matt! My mom forgot milk and bread. She ran back out."
He quickly switched on his computer.
"Matty....I think we got trouble!...
"I was talking to a kid in the waiting room....That vid of that nasty preacher? Well, it's not exactly gone viral, but it's linked on lots of social sites. And someone hacked into the town's Website! They put the video on there! And they had all kinds of comments on there like we're some kind of swamp-water village and all!"
As his computer came on, he quickly keyed in the town's site.
They gazed at the monitor.
"This Site is Down For Maintenance."
"Oh shit....Oh shit," Matt gasped, "You KNOW who's gonna get blamed for this!"
"Yeah. That's just what I was thinking."
"Move over there. I'm sending out an e-mail to all the GSA members! We're going to have an emergency meeting Monday after school. I'll tell 'em it's only going to be fifteen or twenty minutes."
Ethan and Ryan sat on the bed in Ryan's room. They operated game controllers.
"Wow! These new controls really run smooth, huh?" Ethan said.
"Well....yeah but....umm....They get even better after they've been used a bit."
Ethan paused the game.
"Rye....I really don't think you're paying a whole lot of attention here."
He turned to Ethan with a shy smile.
"...Well....umm....I was just thinking....My mom's gonna be gone for another hour or so. Maybe we could sorta....get together. I just love it when we have those make-out sessions."
Ethan dropped his control in his lap. He appeared serious.
"...Well I like 'em too......I mean, they're HOT! It's just that I don't think I'm exactly in the mood for that right now."
He placed his arm over Ryan's shoulders and rubbed his chest with his other hand.
"...Right now......I'm just feeling one of those....sorta....extra close moments."
He stretched out backwards, drawing Ryan on top of him.
He drew him into a tight hug as he kissed his cheek.
"...I ahh....really started thinking about stuff with that library thingy. I noticed your eyes for the first time. I never notice stuff like that! I couldn't tell you what color anyone's eyes are!...
"And then over at Harvey's. Well, I kinda know that Jenny is sorta the....match maker around school. She was soooo excited about getting us together. But....it didn't exactly feel like we were going to....you know....kinda hangout. It....it....Oh shit, Rye! It kinda felt like a....a date! And I was just sooooo nervous!"
Ryan lifted his head from his shoulder with a pink face.
"That's exactly the way I felt!"
"Oh yeah!....And I was really nervous too...
"Oh I had such a hard time getting dressed that day. I really can't afford all these fancy designer clothes. I think I tried on everything in my closet and dresser! Nothing looked good! Something just didn't look right about anything I put on. Then, I thought well, why not just put on my Christmas clothes. And it kinda made everyone feel good that I liked the stuff."
"The scarf was the best!"
"Oh you an' that scarf!"
"Oh Rye!....I'm telling you....That was HOT!....'n cute....'n sweet, just all kinda mixed together! And I wasn't the only one to notice! I keep telling you that it didn't look like a necessity....It was more of an accessory! Even Matt 'n Tim said that. Oh gee, I just wanted to hug you sooooo bad there in Harvey's. Well, I mean....not like all over you! But I sure wanted to hug you in there. I don't think you ever looked cuter to me ever!"
He gave Ryan another deep hug for several seconds and began stroking his back.
"...Yeah....I....ahh....kinda like this feeling I've got right now. I can't explain it! I can't think of words to explain it. I just feel this nice....warm....closeness with you right now."
Ryan placed his forearms on Ethan's chest and gripped his shoulders in his hands. He placed his head beside Ethan's. Ethan felt his head nod.
"...Yeah, ahh....I kinda feel that too! I can't explain it either! This is nice."
He kissed Ethan's cheek.
Matt and Tim entered the school lunch room directly after their last class Monday. Glancing around, they noticed about half the members present. Matt went directly to the front of the room. He hadn't taken any thought of speaking to a group of students. He felt no nervousness. His mind was occupied with other thoughts.
"Is this everyone?....Are others still coming in?"
Everyone seemed to shrug.
"...Well, I just got a quick announcement to make......Just kinda spread the word around to those who aren't here today..."
No podium had been set up and no tables had been pushed aside. Matt took a deep breath. He stood beside a table.
"...I don't know how many of you are aware of that video that's been posted on the Net...
"I found out the town's Website was hacked. It was down all weekend. Now I'm not gonna accuse anyone here of doing that......It's just if you know who it was, tell 'em to STOP IT!...
"This isn't some high school prank! This is very illegal and all of us could get into trouble if it's traced back to the GSA or even one of our members! We don't need this! We don't want any negative publicity. That's the whole point of our outreach program. We want to make a positive impression on the community. We want to do positive things around here."
He noticed another group of students straggle in and take seats.
"...I don't even remember the name of the college! I'm sure you all saw it on the Net. The Pepper Spraying Incident! The students were just sitting down. They had no weapons. They didn't chant. They didn't threaten anyone!......Yet a cop was pepper spraying all of them in the face!..."
He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts.
"...Now if they had sticks....rocks 'n clubs....if they were yelling nasty or threatening things....the people who saw this video would be happy they were being sprayed. It would have been called self-defense or something like that!......But they couldn't do that with this vid! The students were totally PASSIVE! There was no need to do that to them!...
"PEOPLE! That video spoke more loudly than any violence could accomplish! And it was something positive for the students! They accomplished MORE by doing NOTHING!......And that's just what I'm asking from all of you!...
"If you're walking home out there....and someone yells 'fag' or 'queer' or 'cripple' or 'weirdo'......Just turn your back on it!....Please?"
He sat on the corner of the table and held his arms out.
"...Yeah!....I know it gets rough at times. It's awful hard to just keep quiet! But we've got to do it!......Whenever you're faced with stuff like this....Think of this Pepper Spraying Incident!......I want you to keep just one word in mind....PASSIVE! Just comply....Let's not have any violence or snide remarks on our side. If we don't DO anything, we can't be held responsible for it! And people are just looking for an excuse! Well, let's not give 'em one! We're working on a POSITIVE image! We could paint every public building in this whole town....and one violent incident will counteract it all!...
"Someone mentioned in one of our past meetings that we were....well, kind of tolerated around here. And now we're getting bigger. We're getting more members in here. We're....well we're getting more visible to the community. And there are lots of people out there who just don't like us!......PASSIVE!......Don't ever forget that word. Sometimes the one who speaks the loudest, is the one who doesn't say anything! We're right back to the old saying, 'Actions speak louder than words.' Well, I believe it's true! I'll also agree it takes the longest!...
"Oh we could go out there and picket city hall with the banners and flags....We could throw rocks 'n fire bombs! We could probably get a SWAT team in here! The National Guard!..."
He held his arms out in a silent appeal.
"...Oh yeah....we'll get attention overnight! But that's not the kind of attention we need! The press likes HYPE! It's good for advertising! Their sponsors love it! People want to hear all the nasty stuff going on!....I don't know why...
"Freedom of the press!....Well YES!....I'm all for it! I don't want the government controlling what its citizens read!......Yet....I believe the press has....has a responsibility too! They should be totally neutral in reporting news. That's just not the way it is today with all the PC out there!"
He placed his feet on a bench before him and rested his arms on his knees.
"...This town....is probably eighty percent against the gay community! Now if you own a local news paper or TV station....are you going to report on how gays need their rights?!....Of course not!....You'll be out of business in a month! You've got to report on things that are going to get you more readers and viewers. You've got to put a....a slant on the news. You don't report the news as it is! You report what your customers want to hear! It's SURVIVAL!....It's not freedom of the press anymore."
He turned toward the students again with his arms out.
"...Please!....PASSIVE!....Keep thinking that! DON'T GIVE 'EM A REASON! Yeah!....It's easy to say, huh?......Sometimes when I hear these....these hatemongers out there....I just wanna explode inside!......Oh yeah, allow gay marriage and soon people will want to marry animals!......They'll want to marry building and bridges! I have no idea where they come up with this stuff!......We....we kinda laugh at these people. But it's really no laughing matter! People out there just love to hear this stuff. They think they're doing God's Work! So I guess it doesn't matter if a few gay kids get pressured into suicide! Oh, I keep thinking about all those sweet little....angels out there! Kids that are no longer with us. Some of them are as young as eleven! Their lives were just so tortured....so miserable, that the only way out for them was death! Oh no! They aren't responsible for those tears of anguish on those little kids faces! They deserve being treated like that!
"...Now I kinda understand a little about this......Preaching HATE!....Preaching STONING! Preaching DEATH! Oh SHIT! All the HATE out there!....I understand why it gets to people...
"Please people....no hacking Websites....no violence....Nothing that could have any negative effect on us. Just keep remembering that a good eighty percent of this town hates you!....And I'm not talking about just gay kids in here....You allies are a target too! You're....you're promoting the homosexual agenda!...
"That thing we did with digging out the hydrants....Lots of clubs got credit for that. Except for us. The GSA wasn't even mentioned in the news clip!....or the paper! And if we follow through with this voluntary work program this summer....something just tells me we're gonna meet with resistance along the way. People are going to want to take the credit away from us! In fact, I wouldn't doubt they'll try to make us look bad!....Just do what the adult supervisors say. And do it in a happy, respectful way! Just keep remembering that one word!....PASSAVE! It'll take time, but if we aren't doing anything negative, they can't do anything negative or violent against us! That will help us more than hurt us!...
"Now, I guess that's all I have to say..."
The students remained silent in their seats. One student seemed uncomfortable. He looked up to the front of the room at Matt.
He got to his feet.
"...I'm....umm....sure hoping you don't think I had anything to do with this."
"Landon....I have no idea who did any of this! I didn't mind that little.... expos é on that hate-spewing preacher....but hacking?!"
"I'm the computer geek here! I'm the circuit builder! The....the electronic whiz kid!...
"Now I'm not gonna lie here....Yeah!....I'll bet I could hack the town's site! And if I did, I'd probably have put that preacher's video on there too!.....But all that anti-Christian stuff?....NO WAY!......All those vile words?....Come on people....You know that wasn't me!"
"Landon! We aren't pointing fingers here! I just wanted to get the message out there!....PASSIVE!....And if anyone does know who's responsible for this....just tell 'em to STOP! We don't want any of this! We don't need it. It's just not gonna help us any!"
"Well....just so long as nobody thinks it's me..."
"Oh!....One more thing people. I'll umm....get e's out to everyone on this...
"Last year John was saying that we've gone about as far as we're going to, here at the school. Things have really calmed down. Lots less bullying and name calling. We've made great progress around the school here. Well, that's the whole point of our outreach program! We want to be more visible to the community. We want that positive image!...
"Well, we'll still have meetings every week, but they'll be a bit different...
"We're going to start meeting in the garage! Yeah! We won't exactly have places to sit and all, but we'll be discussing more things concerning our volunteer work. We'll see what we can do on the art projects. And if you're not all that good at that....we'll still need people who can operate brooms 'n mops. Yes, this masonry gets awful messy. They'll be lots of dust and muddy water...
"I don't want to make it sound all work! We can have fun getting together. Out at the park, we'll break for a picnic. We can fix up burgers and franks. We can show those people out there how we all get along. We'll show them cooperation, team work, acceptance and....well....Just a positive influence...
"...Umm....I don't think I really have to mention this, but I'm going to. PDA's! Public Displays of Affection! I don't care if you're gay or straight, but I don't think people are going to want to see any of us....all over each other! We've got to keep that in mind. We have to keep this.... gender neutral! We can be silly! We can have fun. Just remember we need that POSITIVE image. People will be watching us. And people like to be very negative about things. Let's not give 'em a reason! And again!......PASSIVE! Don't argue with people. Just keep silent. You can't argue with someone who doesn't want to!....Again....arguing won't solve any problems. It'll create problems....and probably make things worse!...
"Now, one more thing. We're kids and we're dumb and klutzy! I don't think I have to tell you, insurance for injuries will be formidable! We won't be able to use gas engine power mowers. We'll be given those mechanical rotary things. And there aren't many to go around! So if you have one somewhere or even find a broken one....Bring it in! We've got the weld shop here! All kinds of tools! Hell, we've got the machine shop where we can make a part if we have to! And we'll all benefit with learning things! See if you can find any of those hand trimmers for grass....Pruning shears!....Paint brushes! Even if they're a bit dried up, maybe we can soak 'em in solvent or something. Try to think of anything we can use while tending to the park. We can make some pointed sticks for picking up trash. If you can find one of those gripper devices, we can use it for picking cans and junk from the water. And wear some really old clothes! We aren't going to be putting on a fashion show out there!....We'll get paint on us....grass stain.... maybe even rip 'em! We're going to put out a positive image, and we're going to have fun while we do it!"
It was a Monday morning as Matt sat at the breakfast nook. It was the first official day of summer vacation. He slowly ate a slice of French toast and nibbled on a strip of bacon. His eyes, his entire facial expression was one of distant, deep thought. Tim had rose early that morning for another appointment with his orthodontist. Ayumi had already informed them they may be "a bit late" as she had a "surprise" planned for the morning.
Clara gazed at him.
"Oh my stars, Matty!....Why so glum on such a beautiful morning?! And the first day of vacation no less!"
Matt looked up from what appeared another one of his daydreams.
"Umm....I'm not sad or anything like that. I was just sittin' here thinkin' about how FAST this year went for me! School just seemed to draaaag along all the time. This year, it was almost over with before I knew it!......Oh gee, two more years and it'll be college already!"
"...Oh yes, Matty....And the older you get....the faster those years will pass. You and Timmy have been so active in school this year. And I don't mean just your studies. You've....well, you've been doing things! You haven't been sitting about, moping about how bored you are!"
Matt seemed to smile shyly at a sudden thought.
"Oh, gee, I was just thinking about Timmy coming out of the shower this morning. Hee, hee....He was hopping along in those jeans!..."
Tim had came from the bathroom that morning. His damp hair hung in snarls and swished from side to side. He hopped out into the dining room and into the kitchen doorway. He was pulling on a pair of jeans. The waistline was across his hips as he tugged at them. He walked on several inches of pant legs with his toes extending.
"MOM!....What did you wash these in?....LYE SOLUTION?! You gotta use cooler water or....or run the drier on a lower setting! I think ALL my clothes are shrinking up!"
Ayumi had been aimlessly pacing the kitchen floor. She sipped at her green coffee mug. A knowing expression passed over her face. She smiled.
"...Your clothes aren't shrinking Timmy!....You're growing! I've noticed over the past year you've had quite a....a growth spurt!...
"We measured you last week! My God! You grew three inches in a year! You've put on about twenty five pounds!....You don't look like a bag of bones anymore! You're not a.... little boy anymore. You're growing into a very handsome young man! "
"Man?!....Gee Mom....can't I be a boy for a couple more years?"
She drew him by the arm into his bedroom.
"...Come in here....We'll find something for you to wear."
"Well now Matt," Clara began, "I think the both of you are growing up quite fast. You're not little boys anymore! I believe you've both had quite a....a maturing process in the past year. Ohhhhh yes! Not just physically either. You've both been sooooo mature for your ages. Yet I can see so much more."
She sat opposite him at the nook and sipped from her coffee mug.
"Yes, Matty....It's your body language as they call it. The way you two sorta carry yourselves. You both seem so much more sure of yourselves today. You're getting out there and socializing a bit more. And I still say it's the day you two met. Oh my stars! The both of you sort of helped the other along. You felt comfortable around each other. And....gradually....you started opening up to others around you."
He finished his toast on his plate and set his fork down.
"Oh! I think you could use just one more slice of French toast!"
"No Gram!....Really! That's my third piece! I'm stuffed! Really!"
He was about to stand and carry his dishes to the sink.
"Now you just sit right there and let me take care of this!"
"Gram!....You really make me and Timmy feel bad when you wait on us so much!"
"And I keep telling you how much I simply love this!"
"Well, at least let me put the stuff in the sink!"
"...You sit down and quit treating me like an old lady!"
"...You are an old lady, Gram."
"Oh you little shit!" she replied, playfully slapping the back of his head, "You're getting just like Timmy!"
She made her way to the sink, waving her curved finger in the air.
"Even Mark Twain said, 'Age is mind over matter!....If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!' I keep telling you two, I'm a young lady of seventy!"
She paused for a moment and placed her fingers over her mouth.
"...Oh dear....Make that seventy one!....Oh dear maybe I am an old lady!"
"...Gee, Gram....We really feel bad about this. I'm going to be here for the rest of the year. We don't need you waiting on us all the time!...
"Hey, I got a great idea! Me 'n Tim are going to be off on our own in a couple years....We can't eat cereals and microwaved frozen food for the rest of our lives! You can start taking Saturdays to teach us how to cook! I couldn't fry an egg! And....and you could show us how to make COOKIES! And....and bake CAKES!"
"Oh my stars!....That sounds like such FUN! I'd love every minute of it! We'll do that!......And starting this Saturday too!"
It was here they heard Ayumi's car pulling into the garage.
Ayumi entered with a somewhat silly, crooked smile. Tim followed her, carrying plastic bags with assorted logos on them from the shopping center. Instantly Matt's eyes fell on Tim's hair. It had been trimmed to his jaw. Although it had always been somewhat limp, it seemed to have a bit more body to it.
"Awh shit!....You had your hair cut! .....Oh gee! You aren't going to go all emo on me now, are you?"
Matt stepped closer for a look.
"Come on, Timmy!" Ayumi prodded, "Give Matt a big smile!"
Tim gave him a large grin.
Matt's jaw dropped as he pointed to Tim's mouth. He tried to speak but words wouldn't come out.
Ayumi began to giggle in a high pitched schoolgirl voice. She actually became weak in the legs and had to collapse on a bench seat at the nook. She gasped for air as she pressed her hands to her face.
"Hee, hee, hee....hoo, hoo!"
She began to wipe at tears running from her eyes. He held her stomach as she continued to laugh.
"...TIMMY!......YOU GOT YOUR BRACES OFF!"
Tim continued with a few seconds more smiling. His teeth were pear white and perfectly straight.
"...Yeah!....AIN'T IT GREAT?!"
"Nooooo!....Noooo!....It's not great at all! I loved them! Awh, your Silver Smile is gone now."
Tim placed the bags onto the table of the breakfast nook.
"Yeah!....No more braces!"
Ayumi looked at the bags on the table.
"Oh Matt, I just wanted to mention to you....We'll be going out on Saturday afternoon. Your parents wired more money into your account. We'll be getting some more new clothes for you too...
"I wanted to get the both of you out there today, but Tim insisted he wanted to surprise you."
"Well, he sure did!......Awh gee! No more cute, silver braces."
"I hated those things!....And I don't like being cute!"
"...Well, I didn't like the idea they hurt you whenever you got 'em tightened. It's just they looked so cute!"
"Matty....We're going to be seventeen in two months. I just don't think cute fits into there very well."
"I'm ordering some fake braces off the Net!"
"Go ahead! And you can wear 'em!"
Matt reached up and patted Tim's hair.
"Ohhhh! You....you look so....so different!"
"...I'm not cute anymore?....You wanna move on now?"
Matt hugged him from behind.
"Timmy!....Don't even say that!...
"It's....it's just quite a change for me. Give me a little time."
Clara turned from the sink.
"Oh my stars!....You boys are looking better every day! I was so worried there for a bit. All I saw was bones poking out of you two! I was getting worried there about you two having some digestive problem. You'd both put it away, but you didn't gain an ounce."
Early Tuesday morning, Ayumi parked near a picnic area in the park. The boys got out and ran for the rear of the SUV. They drew out shovels and an old reel mower from the back.
"Okay boys, unless something very drastic comes up, I should be home all day. You just give me a call when you're done here."
"Okay Mom......I think we'll be here kinda late."
Tom and Jenny came over to the car.
"Wow! You got another real mower! We've only found two. People just don't use them anymore. I think they all ended up on the junk piles."
After quick introductions Tim pointed to the cooler.
"Would you help me with this. It's kinda heavy with all the ice!"
Jenny was already running the mower over to another group of students. Several more vans came in. They were obviously parents, dropping off more students with assorted tools, shovels and paint brushes.
There was still a chill in the air with a slight fog rising from the dew-soaked grass. The students gathered around two maintenance men serving as supervisors for the day.
Many of the parents recognized each other and drew together for a quick chat.
The students drew into groups of their own interest. Lawn workers, painters, trash collectors and diggers each had their own tools. It was suggested the lawn be put on a lower priority because of the dampness. The lawn workers would gather up litter for a few hours.
A distance from the work group, a town auxiliary police officer paced around his car. He was overweight with a sagging leather belt around his blue uniform pants. There was a radio hanging from it. Within leather pouches were pepper spray, handcuffs, a night stick and citation forms. The auxiliary unit didn't carry guns or other weapons. He cautiously eyed the students.
Before the students made their way to their work details, they went for their picnic area for tools, trash bags and paint brushes. Jenny was pushing two sticks into the ground with a paper banner between them, reading GSA in large letters.
"...Well this will serve for the stragglers as they come in today. Tori and Paulie will be here painting benches. They'll be able to direct the kids to where they need to go."
Beside her, Tom pushed a thin dowel into the ground with a rainbow flag attached.
It was here a handicapped van drew up. Paul opened the side door. He twisted around and gracefully lowered himself to the ground with his crutches. A ramp extended and Tori ran a motorized chair onto it.
"Hey!" Tom shouted out, "Cool Tori! You got an electric wheelchair!"
As the ramp drew down to the ground, she nodded.
"...Yeah. Too bad it's not mine! It's a rental! Mom and Dad figured I might need it out here today."
Tom indicated an area a short distance away which had cardboard rolled out over the lawn. There were already two park benches placed on it. Nearby were cans of green paint.
"Hey, we set this up just for you two...
"Tori....you can paint on the backs of these while sitting right in your chair. And Paulie can kind of work on the ground to get the seats and legs on 'em."
"Looks like fun!"
"Okay you two," Jenny put in quickly, "You both have cells. Now if either one of you need to use the restrooms....you call me or Tommy here!"
"Oh yeah!" Tori put in, "And your gonna hold our hands while we....go?!"
Paul tossed his head back and struck a manly pose as he adjusted his belt.
"...Well, I must admit I'll certainly need lots of help lifting my junk! Way too big 'n heavy for just one person."
They all broke out laughing. Tori blushed yet couldn't stifle a loud giggle.
"...Oh you guys get so gross sometimes!" Jenny yelled.
The van's driver drew up the ramp and returned to his seat. He looked out the window.
"Well, just give a call when you're ready to be picked up!"
They thanked him and waved as he drove away.
Jenny sobered and presented a serious expression.
"...Now really, people......Those restrooms are going to be all wet and muddy with dozens of us tramping in and out. The floors will be slick. We don't want you slipping in there! Good heavens! You could knock your heads on something and it could be quite awhile before someone even found you! We'll just stand there and wait! Make sure you're okay."
It was here the auxiliary officer stepped up to the group.
"Okay kids!" he nearly bellowed, pointing toward the flag, "That's gotta come down! It's against city ordinance! No flags out here except the American flag, and only during the week of the fourth! And they can't exceed one square foot!"
"Okay!....Okay!" Tom snorted as he pulled up the flag. He twisted the dowel and furled it.
The officer pointed toward the GSA banner.
"...That's gotta go too! City ordinance says no advertising banners in the park!"
"It's not an ADVERTISEMENT!" Tom yelled, "It's for people to know where we are! The ones getting here late!"
The officer drew out a booklet and began mechanically reciting.
"Okay!....Okay!" Tom yelled, "Paragraph one, section one says we'll take it down!"
He drew up the sticks and rolled up the paper banner. Jenny stepped up to him and grasped his wrist.
"...Tommy," she whispered, "...Passive! Let's not start any trouble."
Tori began running her chair toward the painting area.
"Hey, hey, there Missy!....City ordinance twenty-two, paragraph three says motorized vehicles are allowed only on paved roads and not the lawn! I'm going to have to cite you for that!"
"You're gonna ticket a little girl in a WHEELCHAIR?!"
"That's considered a motorized vehicle not a wheelchair!"
"...Well what the FUCK?!"
"TOMMY!....CHILL! I'll go get park maintenance."
Within seconds she returned with one of the supervisors.
"...Oh! Officer!" he called out, "We've given temporary permission for use of these out here. This young lady will be running snacks, drinks and bottled water out to our workers. She couldn't hardly do that over this terrain by using her arms."
The officer nodded, yet his facial expression was one of anger. He crossed the road and returned to his car in the gravel parking area. Leaning up against the car, he began paging through his manual again.
"I swear, that asshole is just looking for something!" Tom snorted.
Jenny drew at his arm, leading him toward the covered footbridge over the stream.
"Us girls are going to start painting on the bridge here. Why don't you go down there and help Alex and Bob fish some of that junk out of the water?"
Wearing shorts and old sneakers, the boys waded about in the water. Each were equipped with a gripper device. Operating the large grip with their fingers, the claws closed around plastic bottles and metal cans. These were tossed aside where other students were gathering them up into special orange plastic bags provided by the park service. The trash was separated from the recyclables. The three boys talked among themselves. Only parts of their conversation were picked up by Jenny.
"...you go out to do a little good in the community and you've got assholes like that just trying to make things difficult!"
"...Tom......It's like Matty said....Chill!......Passive! If we don't give 'em a reason, they can't do anything to us!"
"...And they wanted to ticket little Tori! Like she's racing around on a quad, tearing up the lawn or something!"
"...Tom....Just do as they say......Don't get angry....Don't lose your cool. That's just what they're hoping will happen."
It was mid-morning and the chill had left the air. The overnight dew had evaporated and produced a thick, humid atmosphere. Several boys dug along with shovels. They worked on the trench which would supply the waterfalls with water. The line had been marked with a bright red-orange florescent paint. The early morning banter had become reduced to a silent determination. The only sound was that of shovels digging into the ground and tossing aside clay and gravel. Most of them had removed their shirts and tied the arms around their waists.
"Wow," Matt thought as he gave Tim glances, "Other than swimming, I think this is the only time I've seen Timmy shirtless! Well, outside anyhow....Oh wow!....HOT! Yup, he sure is....umm, filling out!"
He glanced down at himself. He glanced at the other boys. Their skin was still somewhat pale at this early date of the summer. Most all of them were losing their somewhat thin bodies and had begun developing more muscle tissue in their chests and arms.
"Okay....maybe we won't be on the football team this fall but I think we're all filling out some. Gee, I can't even see Timmy's ribs anymore! I remember when I'd squeeze 'em....my fingers would just fit right between 'em in those little dips.
"Oh shit!....He's even got a thin little strip of hair there. Kinda running down from his belly button. Why haven't I seen that."
He nearly caused himself to blush here.
"Yeah, what question to ask......We've gotta have it kinda dark when we....do anything! Gee! Are we still that shy with each other? Oh shit, does he look hot today!"
"Okay fellas!" the maintenance man called out, "We've got to get these ramps up to the pavilion here. The truck's coming in with the fountain!....Err....Waterfalls! He can't hardly drive up that narrow trail there!"
He explained how the truck needed to back entirely through the pavilion to near the pond with it's artificial island in the center. Ramps had to be placed over the two wooden steps.
Soon they heard the roar of the engine. It backed through the only wide opening of trees and through the pavilion. Everyone held their breath as the crane arm missed the roof by inches.
"That's okay boys!....We've already measured that."
The truck made its way down the slope and as close to the pond as was safe. The driver climbed from the cab, waving a paper in his hand.
"Frank!......That dip-shit deputy gave me a ticket! Oversized load and overweight!"
"Don't worry about that! It'll be taken care of. You're here for a delivery!"
"I'm tellin' you Frank....it's a good thing that asshole McCluskey isn't given a gun!......Someone around here would be dead!......U.S. Marshall wanna-be!"
The maintenance man took the citation from him and set it aside for the moment on a wooden rail fence. While everyone was busy watching the crane arm lowering the waterfall onto the mound of the island, Matt made his way up front. He drew out a friend's cell which had a camera. He quickly snapped a photo of the ticket.
A concrete slab had been poured at the top with four large bolts protruding up. Again everyone held their breath as the unit slowly was lowered into place. The two maintenance men guided it over the bolts and it settled down perfectly. Everyone cheered!
"Oh gee!" one boy yelled out, "What if that didn't fit?!"
"We could blame the girls!....They made the plywood template for it!"
Frank had just finished bolting it in place and stood up. He gazed down the trail.
"Oh shhhhit!" he mumbled.
The auxiliary officer was making his way up the trail, citation book at the ready.
"You guys just don't understand, do you?!" he bellowed.
He made his way over to the truck.
"I already wrote you up for for that rig!......Now you have to drive it THROUGH A PAVILION!"
Matt already saw tension building within the group standing there.
Frank climbed down the mound and splashed his way through the shallow pond.
"Look McCluskey! Just give me the ticket!"
"This citation is for the owner of that rig!"
He tore it from the pad and handed it to the driver. The driver in turn slapped it to the hood of the truck.
"Look!......Why don't you just go back into town and ticket little old ladies jay-walking with their aluminum walkers?!"
The officer became red in the face. He drew up on his belt, under his huge stomach and stepped back. He casually walked along the truck and looked under it.
"Ohhhh, what do I see here?....Tires that have skidded over the grass and vegetation here. Nasty, muddy ruts!......I can see I have to cite you for destruction of public property now!"
"McCluskey!" Frank yelled, "Just knock it off, will you?"
"...That's officer McCluskey!....Frankie BOY!"
As they argued for the moment, Matt snapped a shot of the ticket on the truck. He made his way back to the group of boys. He could nearly feel the tension in the air. He quickly held both his arms up in the air. It was one of their signals they had agreed on.
The boys returned to the trench and all sat down with crossed legs. They linked arms and remained quiet.
"Come on now!" Frank yelled, "These kids built this thing and now they're installing it for us! It's to beautify the park some! They're cleaning up the place. They're painting!....mowing! Do you have any idea what this is saving the city? They'll be after that lawn there. Tomorrow morning you'd never even know a truck was in here!"
He simply gave Frank a glare and began walking toward the trail. He glared at the boys on the ground.
"...Little faggot bastards!" he snorted, under his breath.
The boys continued sitting in silence for a moment longer. Matt let out a sigh.
"PEANUTS!....POPCORN!....CRACKER JACKS!" they heard Tory yell.
She ran her electric scooter up the trail.
"Just kiddin' boys!......But I've got cold sodas and water here!"
The boys got to their feet and reached for drinks. Matt searched out Tim. They both stood together and sipped water from plastic bottles. Matt gave him another glance. He leaned in close to him.
"Oh shit, you look so....so hot today!" he said, drawing him close with his arm.
"...Matty!....Will you watch it?!"
"Come here, I wanna show you something..."
Matt led the way into a dense thicket. He quickly turned and threw his arms around Tim's chest, kissing him.
"Matty!....Wasn't it you that warned about PDA's out here?!"
"This isn't....public! This is private!....Nobody can see us back here. Come on! I need a....a quick boost charge to my battery!"
Tim began to push him away.
"Matty!....You know I don't like this shit when I'm all sweated up like this!"
"Timmy! We just got outta our showers this morning!...Not last month!"
Matt pulled him close and gave him a deep kiss. Tim relented and drew his arms around his neck.
"Mmmmm....mmmm....Oh shit, Matty....I need some more of that!"
As they kissed deeply, Tim's arm began to twist around Matt's neck. His water bottle tilted, pouring water down his back.
"Baaahhhh!....Oh shit, that water's COLD!"
"Oop's....Sorry Matty. I didn't mean to do that."
Matt shivered for a moment, shrugging off the water.
"I'm sorry Matty," Tim began melodramatically, holding his arms out, "...That moment of passion just seemed to overpower all my rational faculties!"
"Hee, hee....That was cute....but I still miss your braces!"
"Oh!......Come on. Let's get back there before someone suspects something."
The boys all picked up their shovels again. Most remained quiet, yet it seemed their rhythm had picked up a bit. They were only feet from the pond now and seemed to get a sudden burst of energy. Matt kept glancing at Tim.
"Oh shit, is he HOT today for some reason!......We should have....umm....did it last night!....Oh! I gotta be careful....Junior's gonna wake up again!"
Already two men were working up the gradual rise of the hill. They dropped sections of white plastic piping into the trench. They'd daub plastic cement to the ends of the pipe and join them together. The process was quick.
Within twenty minutes the supervisor stopped the boys.
"Okay fellas!....That should do it! We'll leave a couple feet here at the very end. We don't want the pond to start draining down the trench!..."
He glanced at his watch.
"Okay....Take a break here 'til two! Go down to your picnic area and have something to eat. At two o'clock....we'll start filling this thing back in. That shouldn't take anywhere near as long as digging it!"
The boys returned to the picnic area. Several park grills were already smoking with fires being started in them. Several small bags of charcoal briquettes were leaning against a nearby tree. The students already there were wearing strange cardboard vests. On the front and back were triangles spray painted in pink.
"What the heck's going on here?" Matt asked Jenny.
"The Pink Triangle!" she said, pointing to her own.
"...Yes. I see that....and?..."
"Remember the Nazis forcing gay prisoners to wear one of these?"
"Well don't look now but that cop is over there in that gravel parking lot. He's pacing around reading that regulation book. I think he just wants to stir up trouble."
"Well, we can't put our sign up! We can't put our flag up! I want people coming through here to see us!....The GSA!......I want to see if there's an ordnance around here against PINK TRIANGLES!"
Matt couldn't resist a slight grin here.
"Right over here. We made a whole pile of 'em!"
More students gathered about. Coolers were opened. The three tables which had been placed end-to-end became covered with an assortment of salads, canned goods and condiments.
Joe and Chris walked by.
"Joe!....Chris!" Matt yelled out.
Matt and Tim took seats at the table.
They approached a bit more cautiously and shy than others would have expected.
Joe leaned over the table slightly to get a closer look at Tim.
"...Tim?" he questioned with a somewhat blank expression.
Tim instantly understood it had been his shorter hair. He decided to give him a large "brace-less" smile.
For a moment, Joe had backed away slightly.
"Awh!....Hey, do you look different with your hair that way!....And you got your braces off too!"
"...Yeah!....Ain't it great?!"
"Noooo! You look cuter with 'em!"
"Joe, I'll be seventeen next month......I don't think cute exactly fits that age group anymore!"
Tim paused as they eagerly took seats across from them.
"I....I had this growth spurt as my mom calls it. Well, I needed new clothes. Nothing I owned fit anymore!...
"So I had my braces taken off the other day. And I was happy! My mom said she was going to help me kinda celebrate by getting me a whole....makeover!"
"Well, you're sure lookin' great, I'll say that!"
It was obvious to everyone Joe was glancing across Tim's more developed chest. He then glanced up at his hair.
"You know what you need to do though now?......Right along the front and a bit to the left......you gotta bleach a blond stripe into it!"
"Shit too!" Matt shot out.
"Hey! I'm not kiddin'! I'll help you!"
"Shit too!" Matt put in again.
"Nah!....It's just not me, Joe..."
Chris held out his hand toward Tim's hair. He slightly oscillated it as though he were taking thought.
"Well, I was thinking of a more blue highlight! With pink along the sides....Ahh, ha, ha!"
"Oh never!......It'll clash with my pink rosé lipstick 'n nail polish!"
Joe pounded his fists on the table.
"That's it!....Pink!....We'll dye your hair pink!"
Matt looked at Tim with a serious expression.
"Remember I was telling you I wished they had a medicine for uncontrollable stiffies?"
"Well, pink hair will DO IT!"
They all laughed again.
Chris seemed to suddenly grow serious.
"...Umm....Hey guys, we haven't been exactly avoiding you....It's my dad."
"No! No, nothing like that...
"He knows about me 'n Joe. I already told you about that. In fact, hee, hee....he says we look cute together."
"No. Really!......Umm, I think he had another run-in with his father. Grandfather says he's neglecting his business too much! Well, Dad said he's going to keep doing just that! Because he's been neglecting me too much!"
He gazed down at the table for a moment.
"Wow! I told you about last Christmas where he said he'd be spending more time with me. He sure wasn't joking! We're doing all kinds of stuff together. Remember me telling you where he thought video games were a waste of time?......Well he went out and bought me more! And he's playing with us! Me 'n Joe! Oh shit he's getting good at it too!"
"Oh yeah! And I can tell it isn't an act with him....It's not put-on! He really wants to spend more time with me. I really think he feels bad being all over the world while a....a nanny raises me. He wants to make it up to me...
"Yup, he said he's all done chasing that rainbow!......Oh! Not our rainbow! The money one......With the pot o' gold at the end!"
They all laughed.
"...Umm....Well me and Joe haven't had all that much time together with school and all. Then there's the fact I go to a private school. We've been really busy with schoolwork and all......So I just wanted to tell you it's not like we've been avoiding you or anything."
"Oh gee, Chris! We didn't think that. We hardly see Scooter 'n Toby either. And they go to the same school we do!....Course they're a couple years younger than us too and we sure don't have any classes together."
Chris held a finger up.
"Speaking of Scooter and Toby......They told us about the river. You guys swimming out there?! Wow! That sure sounded like fun!......Umm....I really don't want it to sound like we're umm....inviting ourselves along, but we'd sure like to go out there with you this summer!"
Tim gave him a serious expression.
"Knock off all that sweet 'n proper manners stuff! Just say it like it is! We'd love it! We'll have a ball out there. And Scooter 'n Toby will be out there too!"
Tim got to his feet and stretched a bit by tilting his shoulders back. Chris made no secret of glancing over his chest.
"...Oh shit!" he gasped.
Joe turned to him.
"That's the same thing I was thinking....Oh shit!"
It was here that Jenny approached the table.
"...Oh gee, Timmy!....When you're shirtless, you sure look HOT!"
"TIMMY!" Matt yelled, "PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON!....'Cause I'm getting jealous!"
Everyone laughed again.
"I'll do that....Just as soon as I go to the bathroom."
He began running across the lawn.
Jenny drew her hands up to her mouth forming a "megaphone," and yelling after him.
"...If you shake it more than three times....you're playing with it!"
Matt covered his red face with his hands.
Some of the students began placing burgers on the two grills which had formed hot coals.
"Well," Joe put in, "Wanna go up and start our burgers?"
"Nah!" Matt put in, "I'll wait until the crowd goes down a bit."
Tom stood before one of the grills wearing his triangle cardboard vest. Jenny came up to him from behind.
"Umm....Tommy....I really think you should take that vest off until you're done at the grill. One little spark and that thing could catch on fire."
Tom nodded in agreement as he removed it. He placed it on the table behind him.
Matt continued talking with Joe and Chris for the moment as Ethan and Ryan approached. They appeared happy. Ryan had come out to his parents that late January and they had taken the news a bit poorly. They set down frozen burgers in plastic bags.
"...Oh gee, Rye!" Matt nearly gasped, "Umm....can I ask how it's going?"
The boys took seats at the bench.
"...Well, it's kinda hard to explain," Ryan began, "...I mean, I read lots of stuff on the Net. Some parents really go off!....Then there's the ones that are just all sort of supportive and that......Well, my parents are kinda like in the middle of it all! I mean, I don't think you could actually say they're pissed or like that. They just kinda umm.... didn't know which way to go with this."
He reflected for a moment.
"...They keep asking me, 'How do you know that?'......How can I answer that?! There is no answer!....You just kinda like....KNOW, right? How do I explain something like that?...
"Umm......I mean it's not like they exactly hate me or like that. They were just a bit confused about which way to go with it."
"So can I ask how things went with your counselor and the psychologist?"
"...Well, I wasn't exactly there for all of that. My counselor kept sending me out of her office. She had me go to the office for some kind of form or something. The office people kept stalling around. Then I was told to go to the library for some kind of book. And it wasn't listed in the catalog....You had to ask the librarian for it!......Then they sent be to the nurse's office for some other kind of form! I think it was just one of those royal runarounds they were doing to me. You know....So they could talk to my parents without me being there! I was getting a little pissed at that. I finally just sat down and said I wasn't going to do anymore running around. I told them what they had to say....they can just say it with me there! I think they knew I was wise to 'em! They just kinda suggested a PFLAG at some college around here. You know....that Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays? Well, it was quite a drive."
Ryan pointed toward Ethan.
"I guess they had Ethan and his parents go too. We both went on the same day. And all the way there, my parents hardly said two words!......I could tell they weren't exactly....well, pissed. I think they were more thinking about stuff. You gotta know 'em. They get kinda quiet when they think about stuff.
"Well, we got there," he continued, giving Ethan a glance, "...and....Oh wow! Everyone just kinda rushed up to us! Right Ethan?....And they gave us hugs and led us around the room. They introduced us to everyone. Oh! There must have been fifty kids there!....Huh, Ethan?......Well, we were kinda expecting lots of college kids to be there. And....well, there were!....Yet there were lots of high school kids there too. Hell! Even some from grade school! Lots of 'em were our age. That made us feel a lot better. We weren't quite so scared.
"...And people....adults....greeted our parents too. And they walked around the room talking to other parents!......And....I don't know exactly what to call it. I could see my parents sorta starting to understand things sorta....Well, maybe not exactly understanding....It was more like kind of a relief on their faces. I think it was because all the other people were there because their kids were gay. I think they felt a little better that they weren't the only ones there! I think they started understanding that lots of us kids are gay....and that we just can't help it!
"...Umm....Well, the place isn't exactly like an auditorium, but it's kind of a big room! And there's like this little stage up front. And lots of speakers were there that night....Sociologists, psychologists, clergy......Even other parents got up to speak! Gee, that's the first time I'd seen my parents smile that day."
He gave Ethan a smile as he squeezed the back of his hand on the table for a moment.
"...Umm....Our parents, I think....still believe this is just a phase or something we're going through. I don't know what's gonna happen....At least they aren't trying to keep us apart or anything."
"...Well, that's cool, huh?" Matt put in.
Through his peripheral vision, Matt saw shadowy figures sit beside him. He turned to look.
"...Scoot!....Tob!....How's it going?"
"Pretty good," Scooter put in, "Well except for our report cards this year. With me it's science....With Tob....it's math! We just made it through this year! Our parents haven't really said anything about it, but they're already hinting around we're going to be doing lots more homework....alone."
Tom felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see the auxiliary officer behind him. He held a citation between his fingers.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to cite you for littering!"
"I'm grilling hamburgers! I'm not littering!"
The officer pointed to a cardboard vest on the ground with the pink triangle on it.
"I saw you put that on the table. You turned your back on it and let the wind blow it onto the ground. You made no attempt at retrieving it!"
"Well I didn't even know it blew off!....I'd have got it as soon as I was done here!"
"Ohhh, that's what they all say!"
"Hey!....LOOK!....I've been standing in that stream all morning up to my thighs in that cold water, retrieving litter out of it! I pulled out plastic bottles! Metal cans!....Glass bottles....Soggy potato chip 'n pop corn bags!....Candy bar wrappers! An old bicycle wheel! And probably ten or fifteen condoms! I'm not out here today to litter! I'm helping to CLEAN THE PLACE UP! And this is all volunteer work!"
"Oh shit. Oh shit," Matt mumbled as he quickly got to his feet.
"Makes no difference! You are responsible for that litter on the ground!"
Tom felt Matt nearly "tackle" him around the chest. He drew him back.
"...Tommy," he whispered, "Chill!....PASSIVE? Remember? Don't give 'em a reason!"
"Okay, okay....I'm cool..."
Tom walked for the vest on the ground and picked it up. He placed it on the picnic table. Reaching into an orange recycling bag, he drew out a tiny jar and placed it on the vest.
"There!....Now it can't blow away!"
The officer gazed at it for a moment and began writing in his citation book again.
"...That's a glass container! City ordinance states that no glass containers are allowed in the park! I'll have to cite you for that too!"
"WHAT THE FUCK?! I gathered all that stuff up! It's not even mine! I got that outta the stream! The city's going to pick this all up tonight!"
Again he felt Matt tackle him and draw him away.
"Tommy, pleazzzze?! Passive! Huh?....We'll take care of this later!"
Matt approached the officer with an obvious imitation of a pleased smile. He reached out for the ticket.
"So sorry officer. We're just dumb kids. We're trying real hard to be mature, responsible residents of this town. We're still learning. In fact, I was just thinking about us all going to the next city council meeting! We'll bring a psychologist along with us. Perhaps they can all get together to help all us retarded kids become more productive, responsible people. We'll even have it video recorded! Yeah! And we'll post it on the Net! We certainly wouldn't want other kids making the same mistakes we have! ......Now you have a pleasant day sir..."
The sarcasm which came out in Matt's voice was nearly an 'acid' to the others ears. The officer began to pale. He raised his hand and pointed at finger at him. Suddenly his arm dropped as he walked away.
"Oh that was GREAT!" Jenny yelled, approaching them, "I got that all on my phone cam!"
"Okay Jen," Matt put in, "Now take a photo of these tickets here. My phone doesn't have a camera."
Within minutes the students forgot the incident and returned to cooking and eating. Tim began walking back from the restrooms. Scooter and Toby were now sitting on the bench with their backs to the table. They munched on burgers and chips. Matt noticed Scooter nudge Toby.
"Check it out!" Scooter mumbled.
Toby gazed at Tim approaching. He'd quit chewing, mouth open.
"Who's that?" Toby gasped, "...Wow, is he HOT!"
Tim neared the table.
"...Scoot!....Tob!....Where you two been?"
"Oh shit!....That's....that's Timmy!" Toby gasped under his breath.
Matt seemed to confront Tim.
"That does it!....Timmy!....PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON!"
"It's too hot for a shirt today!......This morning I was freezin' and now I'm nearly ready to pass out from the heat!"
Toby turned on the bench to face the table. Setting his plate down, he covered his blushing face with his hands.
"...Oh shit....Oh shit....That was Timmy!" he whispered to Scooter.
Scooter didn't reply as he looked up at Tim with his mouth open.
"...Tim!....What did you do to yourself?"
It was here Tim realized they hadn't seen him in several weeks.
"...Hee, hee....It's what my mother calls my makeover!"
He gave them a large smile as he sat.
Scooter pointed toward his mouth.
"You got your braces off!....Oh wow! You hardly look like....YOU!"
They all laughed at this.
"Awhhh," Scooter continued, "I'm kinda with Matt on that. You looked cute with 'em! Awh gee! You look a couple years older since I last saw you!"
"Scoot....I'm going to be seventeen next month!....I keep tellin' people I don't think cute really fits in there anymore."
Scooter continued to gaze at him, eyes running up and down.
"...Well....in a few weeks there....you've gone from cute to HOT!"
"...Timmy!....PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON!" Matt yelled.
Jenny came up to their table with a plate full of burgers.
"...Dig in guys!....Hot off the grill!"
She stepped over the bench seat and set a second plate before herself.
"...I'm going to eat! Tommy's over there playing master chef! He's cooking everyone's burgers! I'm hungry."
She was about to take a large bite of her burger. She made it obvious to Matt her eyes were scanning over Tim.
"TIMMY!....PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON!"
Everyone laughed again.
Matt turned to Tim.
"And why does it take you like fifteen minutes just to take a wizz?!"
"...There was like fifteen ahead of me!......And there's only one....umm.... porcelain convenience in there!"
Jenny munched on a bite of her burger, trying to suppress a bit of a grin.
"...Yeah," she said, "...and the fact he had a hard time finding the stool."
"...What stool?" Matt asked.
"...The one he has to stand on!....So it doesn't hang in the water!"
Several of the boys began choking on their food as laughs and giggles were suppressed.
"Jenny, you're getting raw."
"Oh come on!....Tommy's always using that joke."
"...Well, umm," Scooter began, "Like I was saying there. We aren't exactly avoiding you two."
"We didn't feel like that," Matt put in, "Ahhh....You know I'm living over at Tim's now! Well, during school, we have our own....umm....rooms! And we've both had lots of schoolwork this year. Outside of meetings, we haven't seen much of anyone since Christmas vacation."
"Well......Oh gee!....You 'n Timmy have been soooo good to us! We still talk about the day we kinda met you out there......Umm....Well, not that first day exactly. We were kinda scared about that. It was the next time we kinda met out there by accident. After a bit....we, umm....kinda knew you two really were gay."
"We told you that!"
"Yeah....well, we weren't so sure of that right away."
He suddenly turned to Joe and Chris.
"Oh!....You guys gotta come out there with us this summer!"
Joe gave a slight blush and looked at Chris.
"We were thinking of that too. I hope I can do that. Well, I've kinda got used to an indoor heated pool!"
"The river is warm!" Matt continued "....I'm tellin' you it's really warm! Well, okay maybe not exactly like a pool, but it's great!...
"We sit in that little whirlpool and just kinda talk about stuff. And just kinda let that water circulate around us. And we slide down the spillway! It's really slick!"
Chris seemed to blanch for several seconds.
"Oh it's not some giant thing! It's shallow! You can sit on the bottom and the water's not even up to your shoulders."
Scooter noticed Chris' pale face and decided to tease him.
"...And the spillway! Wow! Is that ever fun slidin' down!......It's just you have to be a bit careful. You gotta go right down the center. If you go too much left or right, you'll get caught in the turbines! Wow! They'll make hamburger out if you!"
Everyone saw Chris seem to blanch again and all broke out laughing.
Chris turned his head toward Joe and back to Scooter.
"Oh shit!....I think I'll pass on that!"
Joe shook his head.
"Chris! They're breakin' your balls! There's no turbines in there. The dam is just for flood control! It's only like twenty feet high."
Again they all laughed.
"...Yeah. I've been out there. It's fun! We gotta try that this summer."
Chris turned his head back and forth, studying the others expressions. His expression was rather apprehensive.
"Seriously!" Tim put in, "It's not dangerous......Shit! Even little Toby went down it!"
Chris looked at Toby.
"...Are there generators in that thing?....Turbines?"
"NO!....They're bein' silly with you! It's all smooth concrete...
"...Well, I'll admit I was really, really scared the first couple times. I didn't like my head goin' under. That scared me. I'm....I'm getting more used to it now."
Scooter grinned at him for a moment.
"Oh yeah!....He didn't like his head going under......Until he saw Matt 'n Tim kissing underwater!....Then he was all for it!"
"Oh gee!" both Matt and Tim sounded out.
"Arruuggghh!" Jenny sounded out, "I'll bet that was HOT!...
"Can I join you boys this summer? I wanna watch!"
Tim held his hand out toward Jenny as he looked at Scooter.
"NOW look what you started!......We go out there for privacy! Now the whole school is gonna know about it!"
"I won't say anything!" Jenny put in, "...So long as you invite me along."
Matt looked up at Jenny.
"...You can come along so long as you don't bring your camera along!"
"I promise....No pictures!"
Matt pointed his finger at her.
"I'm not foolin'!......We don't need those kind of photos all over the Net!"
"...I'd never do that! You know me better than that!"
Matt gave her a sly grin.
"...Well, you can come along but no cameras!......And to be sure....we'll have to frisk you!"
The other boys blushed and giggled.
They all laughed again.
Jenny gave a quick glance toward Tom.
"...I....I bought a new suit this summer. It's not exactly a bikini, but it's rather....brief! If I can't get Tommy's attention, maybe he'll see other boys giving me attention."
"Ohhhh," Matt put in, "The jealousy routine!"
"Oh!....Sometimes I think he loves that junker car more than me!...
"Trust me boys....There isn't a whole lot of places I could hide a camera in that suit!"
Again they all giggled.
Chris remained a bit apprehensive. His head seemed to wobble on this tiny neck as he looked at the others.
"I don't know about this......Whirlpools?....Spillway?..."
"Chris!....It's not dangerous!" Matt shouted out.
He glanced at Jenny for a moment.
"...And we don't swim bare-assed either!"
Jenny hung her head.
"Oh shit!" she whispered.
Chris took on a rather impish grin as he looked at Joe.
"...Joe has a bit of a time with that when we're in the pool at my place....alone!"
"Oh gee, Chris!....Don't gross me out here!" Joe put in.
Jenny sighed as she dropped her face into her bowl of tossed salad.
"Oh shit, would I love to see that!" she said, her voice muffled.
It was here that Tom joined them. He gazed at Jenny, her face in her salad.
"....I've heard of grazing, but that's going too far, Jenny!"
She sat up and looked at him.
"Tommy!....This summer we're going swimming in the river....Down at the dam!"
"Ohhhhh ick!....In that....that brown water?!"
"Well," Matt put in, "it's kinda a red-orange. It's from the iron and minerals in it."
"Oh Tommy!" Jenny continued, "You aren't gonna die if you skip your chlorinated pool a couple times!"
He sat there eying his steak, a knife in one hand, fork in the other.
"...Jenny!....Fish pee in that water!....And shit too!"
They all laughed as she playfully cuffed the back of his head.
"Can't you ever do something exciting once in awhile?! The boys here were just saying about how much fun it is sliding down that spillway. I think I'd love it!"
"The spillway?....All covered with....moss 'n....slimy stuff? And....and probably all....all wormy with....dead fish floating by! 'n all smelly from rotten seaweed....with oil and gasoline in it from the motorboats!....'n..."
"Oh listen to this!....You work on your car with grease and oil up to your elbows!"
"...Well, yeah!....but I don't swim in it!"
"...We're going out to the river this summer! And we're gonna kiss underwater."
"...You want me to kiss you in....in FISH PEE?!"
The boys continued to snicker and giggle.
An hour later everyone began cleaning up. The paper and plastic tableware were collected into large green trash bags. They hadn't even bothered with lining the wire baskets around the area as it was going to be picked up later that day.
"Okay people!" Jenny shouted out, "Let's not miss a thing. We're going to be mowing here in a few minutes and we don't need shredded paper and stuff all over the place."
It was here the auxiliary officer crossed the road and began inspecting the area.
"...Oh shit!....Here comes hard-ass again," someone said.
"...Oh!....You mean lard-ass! I'd like to see him pass a real police physical!"
Matt and the others had been on their knees, literally looking of any scrap of trash, no matter how small. He got to his feet and raised his arms over his head. Others who saw him did the same until all were aware of it. They lined into a semi-circle and sat on the grass, interlocking arms. Two students stood a distance away, making no secret of holding cameras.
The officer walked a short distance farther and stopped. He suddenly turned back toward the parking lot.
"Okay kids!" a maintenance worker shouted out, "They're ready for the digging crew! All the piping is in! We just need to fill that ditch in now!...
"...Okay....What you're doing here is great. And don't worry about any tickets. We'll take care of all that."
The students put up their personal items and returned things to the coolers. They all returned to painting, mowing and trimming.
Within a single hour the trench was filled in. Matt recalled the rut marks the truck had left on the side of the hill overlooking the waterfalls. He and several others filled them in and raked them down level.
On the island, one of the art students guided the plumber in finishing the falls.
"Well, I guess that should do it......How long does that glue take to set?"
"Oh this PVC cement sets up in minutes!...
"I guess we could throw the switch on that pump now!"
"Well....umm....would you mind if I call up the others? I think everyone should be here to see this."
"Well, there's sure no hurry!"
Cell phones rang throughout the park. Students put their tools aside for the moment and gathered near the pond. At the base of the hill several park employees gathered around a concrete lined hole. A conduit pipe ran up from the hole and to the power lines above. A heavy weatherproof switch was attached to another short section of conduit.
The other men stood there, looking down into the hole. There was a new pump connected to the pipe which ran up the hill. At the other end of the pump was a pipe which came in from the shallow stream.
"So where did the pump come from?" one asked.
Frank gazed down at the blue painted pump and electric motor.
"...Some anonymous donor. I guess he just wants to keep quiet about it. He heard about the kids project here and wanted to sort of contribute to it."
"They are some great kids!......I never heard so much, 'yes sir' and 'no sir' in my life. They're really trying to do their part for the town. Really hard workers too. I never heard a bitch from one of 'em all morning. And we had a couple spots with some nasty rocks through them. Really great kids!"
Frank simply nodded with a grin.
As the superintendent of the park, the students had given him the "honor" of throwing the switch for the first time. His cell phone rang.
"That you Charlie?......Yep, ready to go!"
He lifted the heavy toggle on the box. The motor hummed quietly. There was a short pause before a combination of air and water could be heard passing through the piping.
At the pond a worker called out, "IT'S ON!"
Everyone's attention was fixed on the three-tier rock and brick fixture. Soon there was the sound of rushing air, followed by water filling the first tier. It seemed a bit muddy as it overflowed into the second and third tiers. At the bottom, the water rushed into a hidden pipe to be returned to the pond without danger of eroding the soil. Within a few more seconds the water cleared of mud and the falls ran crystal clear. The crowd cheered.
Everyone laughed and joked as they lightheartedly made their way back down the trail. Matt and Tim slowed their pace as others passed ahead of them.
"...Remember our first time up this trail?......It was the morning we first came out to each other."
Tim nodded shyly.
"Oh yeah! I remember that!....That's when that chipmunk shot pass us and I just about shit!....That really scared me! I didn't know what it was at first."
Tim raised his arm and pointed toward a tree.
"I think that's the only birch tree on the trail. Remember this spot?"
"...No. What's so special about this?"
Tim stopped and turned to him.
"This is where you reached for my hand."
"You remember that?!"
"Oh yeah. Ohhhhh you just started blushing so keeuuutt!"
Tim drew close to him and held his shoulders.
"I really liked that!......In fact I had to tease you a bit to keep from blushing myself!"
They looked into each others eyes for several seconds. Matt's hands rose up and held his waist.
"...What I remember is us running back down this trail! It started raining. Wow! We just got back to your garage on our bikes and all hell broke loose!...
"We were talking up there in the pavilion. That's when you really laid that hot kiss on me!....Oh shit! I really thought my legs were going to give out!"
He drew Tim closer. Tim ran his arms around his neck. Their lips touched lightly for a moment then gradually drew deeper for several seconds.
"Oh shit!" Matt gasped, "...Yeah!....Just like that!"
They held each other tightly for a moment.
"Okay....That's enough!" Tim put in, "Well pick up there after our showers tonight."
"Timmy....We took showers about eight hours ago! You don't smell like a goat!"
They held each other tightly as they kissed again.
"Oh gee!....Oh gee! This is almost like that first time up here. Except Timmy doesn't have his....his skinny ribs anymore! Oh! He's just so....so solid all of a sudden! Why haven't I noticed this before? Oh shit, I'm in heaven!"
"Okay, that's enough Matty......Someone's going to come past here. I don't want that rent-a-cop coming by!"
"Awh, I think he drove off after the super came out."
"Well, let's get down there. They can probably use some help with the lawn."
They reached the covered footbridge which separated the picnic area from the untended wooded area. They gazed out over the tiny stream which ran under it.
"I don't think they even started on this bridge yet!" Matt shot out.
"Like hell!" they heard Jenny from below. There was a splashing sound.
Jenny and Rachel came up from below. Each held a large bucket with handles. Both wore old shorts. Jenny had tied her blouse up. Rachel wore an old sleeveless t-shirt. Their bare legs and old sneakers were wet.
"We got the sides out there and way up there," Jenny said, pointing with her brush. "The men are going to get the roof and the bottom of this thing. Well, they're going to spray some black tar stuff on it. All we have left is this inside wall."
Tim looked into the bucket.
"Oh it's some poly-something-or-other."
"Good! It protects the wood, yet it allows it to show through."
"We could really use some help here. It's getting late."
"Oh sure! We've been bustin' our asses all day digging!"
He comically stepped up behind Tim and put his arms around his chest.
"...Me 'n Timmy are going off to find a....more private place!"
Jenny pretended to scan her eyes over Tim as she let her tongue hang out.
Matt quickly stepped back.
"TIMMY! PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON!"
The girls laughed.
Within minutes the boys had found brushes and began working along one wall. They quickly completed the job. Jenny studied it.
"Well the men said to let the floor go. They're spraying it with some tougher, high-traffic stuff late tonight."
As they returned to the picnic area, a park pickup was parked here. They were collecting tools, brushes and any remaining paint and sealer. Many of the students were already stepping into rides. The parents had come prepared with old sheets and blankets for them to sit on.
Tim closed up his phone.
"Mom won't be here for another hour. She had to go to he clinic for a bit to help another doctor."
Although they were both exhausted, Matt managed a sly smile.
"Gee....I guess we'll have to go back up to the pavilion and wait!"
Tim jokingly covered his eyes with his hand.
"Oh gee!....How boring! We'll have to just sit there and wait!....With nothing to do!"
They both smiled and started walking back up the trail.
Matt glanced around and put his arm around Tim's waist pulling him closer.
"I just hope the guys are done working up there. Then we'll really have to sit 'n wait with nothing to do."
Tim smiled and threw his arm over Matt's shoulders.
"Oh gee, Matty!....I'm just so happy we met. I still think of our first trip out here......We had just come out to each other that morning. I had so much to say to you and nothing would come to mind. I still can't recall what it was. You just told me we'd sorta take it one day at a time, one hour at a time! I still wish I could remember what I was thinking that day."
"Well here's our birch tree," Matt put in with a smile, "I'd like to hold your hand if it isn't going to make you blush."
They joined hands, interlocking their fingers.
"Hee, hee....Timmy! You're blushing!"
"Oh gee! I'm not shy or embarrassed....I feel silly!"
The pond was deserted. The ramps had been removed from the pavilion and already taken away. The only sign of the waterfall installation were the muddy tire tracks across the floor.
They took seats at the very bench they had sat on their first time out here. Tim began to unwrap the sleeves of his shirt around his waist.
"Whoa! It's getting cold out here fast."
Oh sure!....Oh sure! Now that we're alone, you decide to put your shirt back on!"
"Matty! It's getting chilly out here in the woods!"
Matt pulled slowly at the shirt. Tim allowed it to pass through his fingers. Matt dropped it on the floor. He held Tim's chest and pressed into him, pushing him onto his back on the bench. He lie on top of him and kissed him deeply. Tim squeezed his shoulders. He wrapped his legs over Matt's. After nearly a full minute, their lips parted.
"Oh shit, Matty!....That was just like our first kiss out here."
"No!" Matt gasped, "It was even better! I'm laying down and I don't have to worry about my legs giving out!"
They stretched out with their chins on each others shoulders. Tim's arms twisted around Matt's neck, his palms pressed to his back.
"Oh shit, Matty! It's another one of those times I just can't get close enough to you. Oh gee! Oh shit!....I think I'm gonna start crying again."
Matt drew up his head, tears on his cheeks.
"...Well, I beat you to it!"
They hugged deeply.
"Oh Timmy....I just love you so much!"
"Oh Babe. I love you too!"
They remained silent for a moment. Tim wiped tears from his eyes.
"Oh!....If we lay here another five minutes, I actually think I'll fall asleep!"
"Yeah. Same here....This was too much today. We didn't do a thing all winter! We've got to get out this summer and get a bit more active."
"...Yeah. Right now I think I'd like to be in that little whirlpool in the river....Just letting the water swirl around us."
"Well, not quite yet. The air's too cold yet"
"Yup, Matty....A nice hot shower and I'll be ready to get into that sleeping bag in the basement. I actually think I'm too tired to even eat!"
After another minute had passed, Matt struggled to sit up.
"Oh, that does it! I've got to sit up. I'm really going to fall asleep here!"
Tim reached for his shirt on the floor and put it on.
Later, as they made their way back through the footbridge, both recognized Ayumi's car. They ran up to it. Ayumi quickly stepped from the driver's seat and opened the back door.
"...Okay, the both of you!......Into the back seat!"
They both noticed an old blanket neatly tucked into place.
"Mom, it's not like we're all paint!"
"Well, I had no idea what to expect."
As they drove along Ayumi talked.
"...I'm stopping in the driveway and you two can go through the dining room. I've got rugs down all the way to the bathroom. You keep your muddy feet on the rugs. The bathroom is all set with your clean clothes."
"What is this?" Tim asked, "...Some kind of decontamination procedure?!"
"That's exactly what it is!......I want the both of you into that shower where you'll rinse all the bugs 'n spiders down the drain!...
"I've put a plastic trash bag in there. Your dirty clothes will go into that. I'll throw them into the washer as soon as the water heater recovers."
The bathroom's atmosphere was hot and humid. Both Tim and Matt took turns washing and rinsing. As Tim backed into the shower stream, Matt raised one foot and began washing it.
"Oh gee, Timmy....I thought this would kinda revive me!......I think I'm getting more tired!"
"Oh yeah. I can feel it in my shoulders."
Matt looked down over himself.
"I'm in the shower with the hottest boy around and look at this!......Junior's staring at my feet!"
"Hee, hee. Don't feel bad Matty. The only thing I've got on my mind right now is something to eat and that nice sleeping bag down in the basement."
He threw his arms around Matt's neck and kissed his cheek.
"Oh! That's going to feel just sooooo good!"
"Hee, hee....We've got a perfectly nice, comfortable bed down there and we sleep on the concrete floor in a sleeping bag."
"I love it, Matty. I feel so close to you in there. I like our little agreement where we won't sleep in a bed until college. It'll be one more thing to look forward to."
As he held Matt's neck, he drew his face close.
"...Mmmm....I think I need a kiss......My battery just needs a quick boost!"
They kissed for a moment until Matt's soapy foot slipped.
"Oh gee, we gotta be careful here. My legs are giving out again. And I don't think this shower is actually reviving me."
He held Tim in a close, tight hug as he gazed at his face.
"...And don't take that the wrong way! I love these moments..."
He hooked his chin over Tim's shoulder.
"Oh gee!....Timmy!....I just love these moments with you. It doesn't have to be all....all hot every time."
Tim lathered his hair with shampoo and rinsed it. The drew it back from his face.
"Oh Tim!....You look so different with your hair shorter......And your braces off."
"Oh the braces were the best!"
Minutes later they dried with heavy towels.
"Let me over there Tim. I gotta sit on the toilet lid to dry my feet. If I try to stand on one leg, I'm gonna drop."
"Well it's not so much my legs......It's my back and shoulders. All that digging! It wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't all the rocks in that one stretch!"
Tim put their worn clothes into a plastic trash bag which Ayumi had placed there.
"Oh! Mom is so scared of bugs 'n spiders...
"We didn't use all that much hot water....I'm throwing these right into the washer on a low water level."
They walked out into the kitchen, both wearing t-shirts and jeans.
"Well what's going on here?....Nobody's home?"
Neither the table nor the nook had been set for supper. There were no kettles on the range. The sink was empty of dishes and cookware.
They glanced out the window to see Clara, Ayumi and Ken seated at a new rosewood stained picnic table on the patio. It was covered with snacks, salads and platters of cheese, meat and assorted garnishes. A distance away, the grill smoked.
"I guess we're eating outside tonight..."
Tim emptied the clothes into the washer in the utility room as Matt went through the linen closet for detergent.
As they both stepped out onto the back porch. Clara, Ayumi and Ken stood up to yell to them.
Ayumi held her hands out and presented a sheet cake on the table. There was a single candle on it.
Both boys looked at each other, their mouths dropping open.
"That's right, Matty! It's been one year exact since our coming out to each other!"
"Yeah! You're right. I just totally forgot about that!"
They drew close to the table and gazed down at the cake. The frosting featured the tent set up on the lawn with the gas charcoal grill off to the side. One flap to the tent was curled back, as though a breeze were blowing. Within the tiny opening could be seen two pair of bare feet, obviously very close together.
"Awwhhh," they both sounded out.
"Yes boys," Clara put in, "...I had my suspicions rather quickly that summer. Oh my stars!....It started out rather slowly, but I could see it! Oh, your touches. They way you two would simply look at each other. You just can't hide that from anyone."
Tim drew the cake close to the edge of the table.
"...Well, actually, Gram....we weren't standing up for our first kiss. And it's a good thing too. I think we'd both have collapsed."
"We gotta get a picture of this!" Matt put in.
It was here Ayumi drew up a camera from her lap.
She set the camera on the table and thought for a few seconds.
"Oh boys!......Remember me telling you how I'd love to clean up after a party? And how I'd love to grill hamburgers during a backyard camp out?....And take pictures of it all?......Well that's what we're doing tonight!"
She got to her feet.
"Now you two stand in front of the tent here."
They turned around astonished. Tim held his hands out.
"I never even SAW this!"
"I didn't either!" Matt put in.
"Well......we planned all this from a couple weeks ago. We were wondering how we could get you away from here for the surprise. Working out at the park was just perfect! It gave us time to set this all up for you...
"Well, we were thinking you could spend the night out here but now I'm wondering. The weatherman said it's going to be cold again this week. So if you get cold you come inside! It's not like we're throwing you out here!"
"No! This will be great!....Huh, Matty?"
"Oh yeah. I'll love it!"
They stood before the tent in a rather rigid pose.
"Now relax some!" Ayumi put in, "Put your inner arms around each other."
They posed for several more photos.
"...Now come on, boys. We need a kissing shot!"
The both looked at each other, a bit red in the face. They kissed lightly on the lips as they held each other.
Ayumi went back for the table with a distant, serious expression.
"...Yes boys......I still have a bit of indecision over all this...
"Oh not you two! It's the hate out there. Please be careful."
"Mom, me 'n Matt don't go around hanging from each other."
"Well," Ken put in, "I'll say it again....Just don't flaunt it. Lots of people out there will just never get used to this...
"Oh, I believe in years to come, this will be more acceptable. The younger generation will be taking over. I can see that already. The old people....the ones sort of stuck in their ways......Well, they'll be passing on. I think things will be changing gradually...
"Yet!......I think there will always be the haters. People will always find something to complain about....hate! Just be careful boys."
They began busying themselves with selecting burgers and salads. They talked into the early evening. Nobody had noticed the patio lights switch on by timer.
Soon they all enjoyed a piece of cake. Ayumi was glancing up with a thoughtful expression.
"Yeah, boys......A couple weeks ago I started thinking about all of this. Umm.... where I kind of caught you two kissing in the garage...
"It was the next day......I brought it up with Tim just after breakfast."
She wiped at her eyes for a moment.
"Oh Timmy!......That story you told me about you and Matt coming out to each other....It was just so....so touching! And I started to think about that. It was the first week of summer vacation for you two. And I thought we could sort of set things up as they were a year ago. We were in Korea at the time. I want to be here this time! We'll have cookouts all week! I just want to be a part of this all."
Matt and Tim seemed to reflect for a moment at the memories.
"...Wow," Tim nearly whispered, "that was really some night, huh Matty?"
Matt shivered for a moment.
"Oh yeah!....Oh yeah!....I was so scared that was going to end it all! I kept thinking if you were straight....you wouldn't want anything to do with me anymore. Oh gee, that was just so scary for me..."
He suddenly reached out and grabbed the back of Tim's hand on the table.
"...I just couldn't find the words! I just kept staring at your mouth. I wanted to kiss you so bad!......And I did! And you just kinda clamped your arms around me. Oh gee, that just felt soooooo good!"
They both seemed to tear-up a bit as they reached out to hug each other. The others found they had to dab their eyes with paper napkins.
As they released their hold on each other, Tim seemed to gaze at the surface of the table.
"Oh gee, Matty......I was trying sooooo hard not to cry that night. I was just so happy!....And then you started! Then you got me goin'. Oh shit! That was sooooo embarrassing for a bit there..."
He looked up seriously at Matt.
"...Umm....After a bit I think we both kinda passed out! Oh! That was the happiest moment of my life!....We were finally out to each other. It was like I could finally....well, relax a bit. I didn't have to lay there thinking about us. I couldn't do it, Matty!....I couldn't say it first. I was just so shy 'n scared."
Matt nodded at the memory.
"Yeah, I was shy and scared too. I talked you into taking one of your pain pills. You were hurtin' so bad that night with your braces. And I got into your sleeping bag with you. You had the chills so bad. And we talked a bit before your pill kinda started kicking in there. You were OUT! All I could do was lay there and think about stuff. I just kinda forced myself to get up the courage to come out to you. Well....hee, hee....I didn't do too good in the words department, huh?"
"It was perfect, Matty!......Everything that next morning was just perfect! I woke up and my braces weren't hurting....And I was kind of hungry again. Well, it was still a bit dark out. I think the sun was just coming up....but that storm moved in really fast. I woke you up to get some snacks and that's when you started gettin'....strange."
"Hee, hee....Thanks a lot!"
"No, really, Matty!......I could kinda tell....I could kinda feel it! Oh HOW I was hoping!....You had to say it first. I was too scared and shy."
Tim glanced down at his plate. He played with a piece of cake with his fork.
"...WOW MATTY!......You keep saying that was a bad night. That you wished it had been a better time and place..."
He looked up at Matt again.
"It was perfect in every way!......So what it was raining! In fact, it was kinda nice. Well, I didn't like the thunder and lightning all that much, but it moved out...
"I already told you I woke up a couple times that morning......I mean after we were out to each other. Oh, I could hear the rain kinda pattering on the canvas....The wind had stopped....the lightning. You were so zonked out! I just kept laying there thinking about what you must have gone through. I had my head on your chest....kinda listening to your heart beating. I was feeling you breathing..."
He dropped his fork onto his plate and reached for his chocolate milk container. His eyes were still distant with his thoughts.
"...I keep telling you that I really, really thought I was dreaming! It just felt soooo good holding you! And I could feel your arms around me. Holy shit, Matty!....You were out cold and yet you were still kinda huggin' me! I could feel it in your arms. And then I'd start thinking if we really had come out to each other. I started wondering if that was all a dream I had......It....it was just too good to be true! Oh, I didn't want to think that was a dream. I wanted it to be real!"
Tim took a long drink of milk as Matt nodded.
"...I thought that too for a few seconds," Matt began, "Well, when we first woke up. Oh gee, it was so hard for me to wake up that first minute. I really felt drugged! I don't think I ever slept so sound in my life! We kind of told each other we'd sorta accepted ourselves a bit before that. And how we both wished there was some kind of medicine we could take....to make us straight again..."
Tim set his milk container down and gazed at Matt. Matt reached out and rubbed his back. He looked at him seriously as his face neared Tim's.
"...If....if they invent that medicine tomorrow......I don't think I want to take it now!"
Matt kissed Tim's lips lightly, then backed away quickly.
"Oh gee!....I don't believe I just did that!"
They all laughed as Matt and Tim blushed. Clara shook her curved finger in the air.
"...Well now I believe it was that very morning I started wondering about you two. Well, as you recall, I was a bit out of it at first. Why it was half-past twelve! And there was no sign of you boys anywhere. I was so frightened you two had suffocated in that tent!...
"Well, it was later in the house when I made you two breakfast. I believe that's when I noticed you two sort of giving each other....looks."
She reflected for a moment with a pleasant smile.
"...Oh yes! I suggested to you boys to go out to the park that afternoon. I told you not to stay indoors and play those shooting games! Well, you sure didn't give me any trouble over that! You got your bikes out and ran right off..."
She forked a tiny piece of cake into her mouth with a smile.
"...So......Did you two have a nice romantic walk out there?"
Both boys blushed again, yet smiled. Matt held the back of Tim's hand on the table.
"...Oh gee, Gram......We....we were both still kinda shy and embarrassed over it all. We actually went out there to....talk. We'd both been giving each other signals and hints sorta....We were both too shy to do anything about it. And Timmy....well, he'd kinda like give me hints sorta....but then he'd kinda do something that sorta well.... counteracted it again! I didn't know how to take him! It was a little confusing for me."
"...I'm sorry Matty....I was shy 'n scared 'n embarrassed. I really didn't know what to do myself."
"Oh you straightened that up in a hurry!....Remember that kiss you gave me out there in the pavilion? Holy shit!....THAT WAS HOT!"
Everyone laughed again.
Although Matt blushed somewhat, he continued.
"...Oh yeah. That was quite a day for us. We were OUT to each other! After all that....that tension and worrying....we could finally relax...
"We were going to cuddle up in the tent that night......Well, we did sorta....but we talked that night. I think we both felt the relief. We didn't last very long before we were both out!"
Tim nodded his head with a smile at the memory.
"...Yeah....and then I had to start crying again. I couldn't help it Matty! I was just so happy and relieved! I couldn't believe it. I think that's when I finally realized I wasn't dreaming!....That it was real!"
The others sat and looked at them for a moment with shy smiles themselves.
"Well, I think this is the appropriate moment," Ken said, getting to his feet.
He entered the back entryway into the utility room. Through the window they saw the light come on in the garage for a moment and switch off again. He returned with a large, flat package.
"This was crated up rather good boys. I'll admit it. I had to check it out myself. We sort of told your parents about our little surprise we had planned for you boys."
He handed it to Matt.
"They were going to send that out to you for your birthday....Well, both your birthdays, being so close. They decided to get it out to you for your anniversary. And that's just the term they used too!..."
He took a seat across from them at the picnic table.
"...They've come a long ways Matty......This whole thing was sort of dropped on them."
"Yeah, I know," Matt said quietly as he worked at the taped paper.
"Well, Ayumi and I have been lots closer to this sort of thing, I'd say even we had to adjust to this a bit ourselves..."
Matt removed the brown paper wrapping to reveal what was a painting.
"Well, Matt....It's not exactly a Rembrandt or Picasso, but I wouldn't doubt that cost a bit."
Even Matt could see it was obviously done in oils.
It was a picture of a tree house supported by two large limbs. There was a crude ladder up the tree which consisted of boards fastened by nails. There was a large open "window" on the side. In the floor of the house was a trapdoor which opened inward. A young boy was leaning up against a wall as he sat on a sleeping bag. In his arms was another boy who had his left arm around his neck. They were in a deep, romantic kiss, their eyes closed. Along the opposite wall was a crude shelf nailed in place. On this were two soda bottles with half consumed candles in them. Wax ran down the sides from flames which seemed to be fluttering in a breeze producing puffs of smoke.
"Wow!....This is really nice!....Really cute!"
It was here a flash went off in their faces. Ayumi drew down the camera from her eye and placed it on the table.
"I'm sure they'll want to see your expression as you opened that."
"Wow!....My DAD got this?!"
"He sure did Matty!" Ken said, "He's come a long ways! He had a lot to deal with over all this..."
He pointed to the painting.
"I really think he's come all the way around now. Especially if he can buy something like that...
"He sent me a letter along with that. He didn't actually say it but I think he wants to make it up to the both of you. The letter was more to me and Ayumi than anything, but I saved it. I think the both of you should read it too."
"Wow!....I really like this! It's not....umm....hot! It's just kinda sweet and romantic. It's not just that the boys are kissing each other....it's the way they're kinda holding each other too!"
He carefully set it down on the table.
"We've gotta hang this up in your room, Timmy. I don't want it laying around where it's gonna get ruined!"
Minutes later they all assisted in bringing items into the house. The breakfast nook and island quickly filled with platters, bowls and plates.
"Okay you two!" Ayumi put in, "....Out to your tent! Enjoy your anniversary!"
"Wow, Mom!....If you hadn't reminded us, I think we'd have forgotten all about it! Well, we'd have probably thought about it later. After we'd missed it!"
Ken entered from the utility room and set the camping lantern on the counter.
"I was going to get a new extension cord for you guys but I forgot all about it. You'll have the lamp here. This should be fine..."
He hesitated again.
"Umm....It's supposed to be rather chilly all this week....Especially at night. Now I don't want it to look like we're throwing you out there! If you two get cold....drag that bag down into the basement!"
"We'll be fine. It was a bit chilly last year at this time too."
The boys gathered up some snacks and reached for their cells on the table. Ken gave them a strange look.
"Are you going to talk to each other over the phones tonight?"
"Hee, hee....No Dad....When Matty wakes up during the night, it drives him nuts if he can't see what time it is."
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]