Yard Boy

by Backwoods Boy

Chapter 7

At five o'clock on Saturday, Tiago arrived at the Thomson residence wearing red, Baywatch swim shorts. Arthur was at the grill. Nick, wearing colorful board shorts in keeping with his wannabe-surfer image, stood nearby talking with Connor, in his white Speedo as usual. Nick looked up with surprise and then, deciding it was best to be civil, gave Tiago a quick smile. Tiago smiled back. Carolyn took him by the arm.

"Arthur, I'd like you to meet Tiago, my landscaping associate I told you about. As you know, he's also been helping his uncle and cousin care for our lawn. Tiago, this is my husband, Arthur."

The two shook hands, and Arthur replied. "I'm pleased to meet you, Tiago. Carolyn is impressed by your expertise."

Tiago hoped that remark didn't have a double meaning.

"I'm glad to meet you too. Should I call you Arthur?"

"Certainly. We like to keep things informal."

Carolyn turned to introduce Tiago to Nick, but Tiago interrupted her.

"Nick and I met a few days ago. It seems his mom was Juanita's doctor a few years ago."

Carolyn looked at him. "The twins?"

He smiled. "The twins."

Carolyn laughed. "It's a small world. And the twins are absolutely delightful. They were such a hit at the game."

Nick replied. "I've never seen them, unfortunately. Perhaps I should stop by and visit with Juanita."

Carolyn smiled. "You should. I've never seen such adorable boys."

Unnoticed, Kenzo had arrived, wearing swim trunks with an unusual pink and blue yin yang design.

"They're not always so adorable. I live next to their grandfather, and probably see as much of them as Tiago. They're very full of mischief sometimes." He glanced at Tiago. "Sort of like their older cousin."

That drew laughter from all the rest. Carolyn took his hand.

"It's good to see you, Kenzo. Arthur, do you remember Kenzo? He looks after the pool, very well I might add."

Arthur waved. "Hello, Kenzo. I'm glad you could make it."

Kenzo waved back. "I appreciate the invitation for a very special birthday." He looked at Connor who'd been quietly taking all of it in. "Happy Birthday, buddy. I hope it's been a good day."

Connor smiled happily. "It's been super. Kenzo, this is my friend Nick. He's known me longer than either you or Tiago. Nick was my babysitter for years, and now he works for my dad."

Nick reached out his hand, and Kenzo took it. "I'm pleased to meet you, Nick."

Nick smiled. "As am I, Kenzo."

Arthur had been listening. "You know, Connor made the guest list for this evening. I was a little puzzled at the time, but now I understand completely. Connor has a diverse group of very good friends. I'm pleased you all could make it."

Carolyn spoke up. "Yes, thank you all for coming to help celebrate Connor's birthday." She smiled at Tiago. "Or should I say, Chico's birthday."

Nick looked puzzled. Kenzo knew about the nickname. Arthur spoke up. "Chico?"

Carolyn informed him. "It's a nickname Tiago gave him, and you better get used to it. Thanks to the twins' presence at the game this afternoon, it's spreading like a virus."

Arthur looked at Connor, who stood with his hand on Tiago's shoulder, smiling happily.

"I love the nickname, Dad."

"Then I love it too, Son. Chico it is. And I think the hamburgers are ready,"

Dinner conversation revolved around Connor, as was appropriate. Nick told embarrassing stories of his early years. Kenzo related how they'd become friends over his two years at the pool.

"I hope this doesn't embarrass Chico, but I feel like he's my little brother."

Connor beamed. "That's perfect!"

It was Tiago's turn. "I'm the newcomer to Chico's circle of friends, but we've become close very quickly." He looked at Carolyn. "Is it time for gifts?"

"It's the perfect time."

Tiago grinned at Connor and handed him a wrapped package. "Chico and I are gonna become much better acquainted over the coming weeks. This will explain why."

Connor opened the package, his cargo shorts and polo shirt. He held up the shirt.

"As of Monday morning, I'll be working for Hernandez Landscaping. This is my uniform shirt."

Everyone cheered and applauded. Arthur took a close look at the name and smiled.

"Tiago, I detect the making of a good publicist."

Tiago smiled back. "Thanks, Arthur, but it's only the mischief Kenzo warned you about."

After the laughter subsided, Nick handed Connor his wrapped gift.

"Connor, I mean Chico, this is sort of a trip down memory lane. I hope you'll treasure it."

Connor opened the gift, and tears came to his eyes. He held up a copy of Charlotte's Web.

"When Nick used to babysit, he read stories to me, sometimes from books he brought along with him. He read through this one more than once because it was my favorite. And I remember him saying it had been his mother's. Thank you, Nick. I'll treasure it forever."

He handed the book to his mom, who was reaching towards him. She looked at the book and opened it.

"Nick, does your mother know about this?"

"Yes. Even though she'd given it to me years ago, I checked with her."

Connor looked puzzled. "What made you ask that?"

Carolyn looked at him. "Because it's a signed copy of the first edition. It's well-used and worn, so it's not a museum piece, but this is a very special gift."

Connor's eyes opened wide. He gave Nick a big hug.

"That makes it even more special. I'll send your mom a thank-you note."

Nick smiled. "She'd appreciate that."

Kenzo now spoke up. "This is almost like a Dickens tale. We've had the gift of the past and the gift of the future. Now for the gift of the present. But it was too large to wrap. Chico, if you'd go to your room for a few minutes I'll have Tiago and Nick help me with it."

The three guests went to Kenzo's van, carried the parts of a water basketball set to the pool, and put the net up on one side of the deep end. Carolyn retrieved the birthday boy from his room. When Connor saw the net, he squealed with excitement. Kenzo put a hand on the younger boy's shoulder.

"Chico and I have water sports in common, and this is one of them. We've talked about it a lot. Now we can do it. Happy Birthday, little bro."

Connor gave Kenzo a big hug. "This is so cool, big bro. Thank you so much."

Carolyn gave him a hug too. "This is great, Kenzo. And I have a suspicion it's now time for a game."

Nick and Kenzo played against Tiago and Connor. No score was kept, but the game continued until nearly dark, and finally ended when the players had no more energy to continue.

When the guests were toweled dry, it was time to end the party. Nick put on his t-shirt and reached for his phone.

"I'll call Mom to pick me up."

Kenzo responded quickly. "I can take you home, Nick."

"You're sure it won't be an inconvenience?"

"Not at all."

Tiago reached for his bicycle, but was interrupted by Carolyn.

"Tiago, why don't you spend the night with Chico? I know he'd love to make that part of his birthday celebration."

Tiago grinned at Connor. "I think that's a great idea."

Hand in hand, Kenzo and Nick walked along the Riverside Park trail. The warm evening breeze carried faint hints of the pine-mint-honey scent of eucalyptus.

"Connor told me you speak three languages."

Kenzo smiled. "Four, but three was enough for Connor to know about. I'm the descended product of two wars, Japanese-American on my father's side and Vietnamese on my mother's. And growing up in the barrio, Spanish was an easy addition. It is true what they say - the more languages you know, the easier the next one is to learn."

"Do you realize how much Connor adores you? By the time I met you tonight, I already knew you intimately."

"We've become well-acquainted over the last two years."

"Connor has always seemed lonely to me, hungry for affection."

"Yes. He has everything, yet he has nothing. Tiago may well be the best friend he could have right now."

Nick stopped, surprised. "What makes you say that?"

"Connor needs a family - more than two parents who are immersed in their careers. I've known Tiago and the American part of his family for a long time. They have nothing, yet they have everything. You must stop by and visit Juanita and Ricardo. You'll see what I mean."

"So, as a single child, were you lonely? I was placed in the middle with two siblings on either side. Lonely wasn't in my vocabulary."

Kenzo laughed. "I didn't have the chance to be lonely either, but my resource was a host of cousins and a constantly changing sea of friendly neighbors."

Nick smiled at him. "You have the heart of a poet and philosopher, including your references to Dickens. Why did you decide to start a pool maintenance business?"

Kenzo reflected for a moment. "Independence, a love of the outdoors, and the influence of Tiago's uncle. I admired the way he had his own business - family business, really. I worked for him for several summers before I graduated from high school. During that time, he took care to point out how hard it was for his clients to find good pool care, and how well I could fill that role. So I became a pool-boy philosopher."

Nick smiled. "It fits you well."

They sat for a while on a bench, watching the moon's reflection on the slowly-moving water. Kenzo leaned over and kissed Nick on the cheek.

"I should take you home."

Nick kissed him back.

"Your home or mine?"

"Actually, neither."

Kenzo parked his van in the alley behind his parents' home. As they walked towards Ricardo and Juanita's home, he pointed out where Diego lived. He inserted his key in the locked door of a shed that Nick was already familiar with, and ushered him inside.

"This is Tiago's summer residence. He shares it with me from time to time, and since we both know where he is tonight, this will be one of the times."

They kissed softly in the darkness of the makeshift bedroom. Then, in the same bed where Tiago had screwed Nick roughly a few nights earlier, Kenzo gently made love to him, slowly bringing them both to the most perfect climax Nick had ever experienced.

"Let's watch something on Netflix."

Connor looked disappointed. "Aren't we gonna have sex?"

"Maybe later. We don't want your parents to hear us."

"What do you wanna watch?"

"Well, now that I think about it, does your mom take lots of videos at your soccer games?"

Connor looked disgusted. "All the time. It's almost embarrassing."

"Do you have some of them?"


"Could we watch a couple?"

"Well, if you really want to."

"I really want to."

Connor sat at his computer and started the most recent video. Tiago stood behind him, hands gently massaging his shoulders, and watched. While Carolyn covered the games completely, she focused on her son, as was to be expected.

"You know, you're really a great goalie. Could we see one from last spring?"


Connor picked one from mid season. They watched for a while. Connor was becoming bored.

"Can we do something else?"

Tiago had seen enough. "How many do you have from the spring season and the summer league?"

"Maybe eight or ten."

"Will you please email them to me?"

"Sure, but why?"

"I wanna look at them some more."

"Okay, but they aren't exactly Hollywood productions."

"Just humor me."

Grumbling, Connor spent a couple of minutes finding the videos Tiago wanted and sent them.

"Okay, are we gonna have sex now?"

Tiago chuckled and squeezed his shoulders. "You're as horny as I am. We can't do it while your parents are here. My place is better."

"Okay, you're right. Then how about if we go out and play another game of water basketball?"

"Great idea. Naked?"

There was a pause. "What if my mom sees us?"

Tiago smiled slyly. "It's what she'd expect to see. What she wouldn't expect is to find us screwing."

"Don't you think Nick and Kenzo make a cute couple? So close to the same age too."

Relaxing in the living room after cleaning up from the party, Arthur took a sip of his martini. He'd learned to read between the lines. Carolyn knew about him and Nick. Had she sent the picture? His private investigator hadn't been able to identify its source.

"What makes you think two boys should be a couple?"

"Didn't you see the way they looked at each other all evening?"

"No, I didn't notice."

"I wonder what they did after they left here."

Arthur was silent. Carolyn was not.

"I bet Kenzo didn't take him home, at least not right away. Maybe they went to the river and took a moonlight swim together. That would be so romantic."

Arthur smiled to himself. Two could play at this game.

"Your committee meeting took a long time Thursday night."

"We had a lot to discuss."

"I'm sure."

He let the silence linger a while.

"How about the other cute couple? Also nearly the same age, but even cuter."

It took a few moments. "Connor and Tiago? Why do you say that?"

"I doubt if they're playing video games right now."

There was a pause. "You don't think that Tiago..."

Arthur had learned to read Carolyn's silences too, and this one was pregnant with meaning. Hopefully, only the silence was pregnant. Carolyn stood up.

"I think I'll refill my glass. Would you care for another one?"

"No, thanks. I'm fine."

Carolyn went through to the kitchen. She could hear the splashing and laughter from the pool. Looking through the window, she observed the game - and the boys' swimwear lying on one of the tables. Arthur was right. They weren't playing video games - they were doing exactly what she expected. The very idea. It was all in his imagination.

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