In Skater's Time

by Rick Beck

Chapter 11


I'd left work just before three, and I skated straight to the patch of lawn, just beyond the mall. Three boys already had the patch of grass staked out, and once again, I sat on the curb, a few feet away.

As I anxiously waited to see if I had been stood up, I got myself noticed.

"You're that guy with a letter for a name," the boy closest to me said, turning his head to look at me.

I thought I recognized him.

"My name is Zane. My friends call me Z," I said,

"Cool," he said. "I'm Jones, and this is Kenny and Toad."

Kenny gave me a half wave, looking around his friend to make eye contact. I waved back.

"You waiting for someone? You look like you're waiting for someone," Jones said.

"Free!" I said, trying to sound casual.

"Freebee! He's cool," Kenny said. "You moved here from back east, I hear. I bet this is way different from that."

Maybe I wasn't as invisible as I thought I'd been. Word definitely was getting around, even when most guys didn't talk to me, but did I act any different around new guys? I was sad to say I didn't. Now I knew what that was like from the other side. Now, I faced the prospect of having the night of my life, and then, getting stood up. It had been so perfect. I should know better than to get my hopes up. California was proving to be very disappointing. I could go back home.

"He skated by a few minutes before you showed up," Jones said. "He said hi, but he didn't stop. He'll probably be back."

I was delighted to hear that. Free hadn't blown me off. If he did that, I'd have reevaluate last night, and I didn't want to do that.

"I was at work. I told him I'd be here around three," I said.

Jones and Kenny stood up, dropping their boards on the sidewalk.

"See you, Z," Jones said.

"See yeah," Kenny said.

They were fifteen, maybe sixteen, still having the lanky look most boys sported, until they began to add a bit of weight, which moved them closer to looking like men, but not so close they'd started working on a tougher persona.

Toad sat put, leaning back on his elbows. He smiled. I smiled. He was in the same age range, but his chest was fuller, and his thighs were thick with muscle and black hair.

"I don't bite," Toad said in a pleasant enough voice.

I stood up and I sat down next to him.

"Nice day," I said.

"I collect frogs. Hence the name Toad," he said, before I asked.

"Living frogs, or dead frogs?" I asked.

He laughed.

"Living. Frogs are amphibians. They are valuable in telling us about our environment. I find them far more interesting than butterflies or bees."

"Butterflies and bees?" I asked.

"Other species that are leading indicators of what's going on in the environment. You keep your eye on them for changes in behavior, but they're far more delicate than frogs. I tried to keep bees, when I was a kid," he said.

"What happened?" I asked.

He smiled broadly.

"I got stung. I was a a kid," he said, still looking a lot like a kid.

"Oh!" I said.

"My name is Clark Cassidy. I got to go. Free will be back. He ran around with my brother in high school. Free is one of the good guys, in case you're interested. He treated me like I was a real person, and not just a kid. You'll see. He'll be back," Toad said, dropping his board and moving away from me.

I was alone on the patch of grass on the far side of the mall, but not for long.

"Hey, hot stuff," Free said, as he skated up five minutes later.

He handed me a lemonade. He was holding a drink of his own.

"Not bad stuff. I think it's real lemonade," Free said. "How are you?"

"I'm great now. You shouldn't be buying me stuff, Free," I said, sipping from the straw he'd added to my drink.

"I shouldn't. After the fantastic time you showed me last night? It's the least I could do, hot stuff. I can't remember the last time I came twice in ten minutes, and it wasn't just an ordinary coming," he said, smiling broadly. "I was afraid you'd blow me off for someone new."

"You know how many guys I've done that with, Free?" I asked.

"I bet plenty. You've got talent in that department. I'm usually done, after one, and had you kept going, I might have gone for three."

"You, Mr. Free, are my first. In fact, I can say without hesitation, you're the first guy to make love to me."

"I thought you and Gordo had a thing going," Free said. "I was a little reluctant to take up with you, but your smooth style, when you put Ace down, had me reconsidering. You're a fire cracker, Z, and you lite my fire," he said. "I've been so busy trying to survive, my fire had gone out."

"Free, you're the hottest guy I've met. Since I've been here, I've looked for companions, and Gordo was the only guy to give me the time of day, and not so much lately. He's like the wind, you know. He comes and goes. We aren't involved, but I did do a thing with him. Just so you know."

"I'd heard. I went to school with Gordo. He's immature, acts and looks like a sixteen-year-old. I'm not putting him down. I had no picnic growing up, but Gordo had a nightmare of a childhood. I think he ran away when he was twelve. His father, career military, was a nasty drunk, from the story I heard. His mother lied to the authorities, saying Gordo was a clumsy klutz of a boy, and he broke all those bones on his own. I'm just saying. Gordo is lucky he lived through it."

Free stopped talking, thinking he'd said to much, sipping soda, and looking down the street toward where Toad skated.

"Toad was here. He gave you quite the endorsement. I was afraid you blew me off. Toad said that you wouldn't do that. He said you're a nice guy," I said.

"Yeah, I've got to renew his promotional services soon. I ran around with his older brother. He was in school with me. Toad's maybe fifteen. Gable is nineteen. We were close, but he went into the air force, after he graduated. I've thought about the service as my ticket out of here, but I'm not read yet."

"Anyway, Toad thinks you're cool. Gable?"

"Old movie star. His mother loved the movie Gone With The Wind. Clark Gable starred in it, and her two sons are Gable, followed by Clark," Free said.

"I've seen that movie. Clark Gable is not all that," I said. "I be if he came along today, he couldn't get a job selling tickets to a movie," I said.

Free laughed, letting his hand move on top of mine.

"I want to rip your clothes off and make love to you right here."

"You that hungry, you want to go back to jail. I can buy you lunch," I said.

"What ever you got, Z, I'm hooked on it. I jacked off after you left last night. I haven't been this horny in months. Maybe for a year," he said.

"I should make it home for dinner tonight, but that isn't until six," I said.

"That'll be enough time to get our engines warmed up," Free said. "And after dinner?"

I giggled.

"I'll tell them I'm going out," I said. "They worry I don't go out enough."

Free's hand squeezed mine. Our heads turned, and I was looking deeply into his beautiful green eyes. I didn't care who saw us. I wouldn't rip his clothes off, but I wanted to. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to validate our love in front of God and everybody.

Free was the real deal, and if I had to wait three months to find him, it was definitely worth the wait. I couldn't wait to get to our special place in the woods..

I'd calmed down. Free and I sat holding hands, sipping our sodas, and feeling the warmth of the late summer sun.

"Does everyone know everything about everyone in this place?" I asked.

"Gordo runs his mouth more than a little, Z. The way he tells it, you two are tight, which is hard to believe, because Gordo is a bit of a flake," Free said.

"He's the first guy to show an interest in me," I said. "I found out about the flake part, after we'd tried to hook up a couple of times. It was more like trying to wrestle a greased pig."

"Yeah, that would be Gordo. He's never grown up, and he has no idea what it is he's after. He moves to fast to hold onto anything good," Free said. "That's the truth. I'm the first guy you did that to?"

"Uh huh, and I can honestly say, I've never enjoyed myself more. I thought about you all day."

"Me too, thinking about you," Free said. "Something really nice happened to me last night. I really like you, Z. I'd like to go back and do it all over again."

"In the daylight this time?" I asked.

"Day time, night time, Saturdays, too," Free said, turning his head to look me in the eye as he spoke.

"Let's go," I said, and we went.

It was warm, and I sweat a little, after an hour or so of making love to Free. We'd followed a similar script to last nights passion play. This time I got to see him exploding, achieving lift off, and doing it all over again, but not as swiftly the second time.

We lay in each other's arms, as the sun went from shining on our love nest, to moving behind the trees, allowing us to cool down. If last night was the most magnificent thing I'd ever experienced, today's was more magnificent. Seeing him, his face, his most personal thing he could share with anyone, made it better.

The sweat dried, the shady spot became a little cooler, and we opted to get back into our clothes. We were done there for a time, but even though the sun still shined brightly, when we emerged from the woods, I saw stars in my eyes.

My search, the one with me having no clue what it was I was looking for, had ended with Free. I knew, a couple of love making sessions didn't a lover make, but I knew what did make a lover. While I'd stay with Free forever, if I could, I knew there was a ton of living to be done between now and forever, and the only thing I knew about Free, he was magnificent. If you're going to make love to someone, that's a good place to start.

"Let's go get something to eat," I said, having worked up an appetite.

"Sweet Z, I'm afraid you've caught me a little short. I can go work for Mr. Ramsey for a couple of hours, and that'll earn me the price of a meal."

"My treat," I said. "I'm a working stiff, and you bought me the lemonade, remember?"

"A lemonade does not a meal make. That took the last of my change," he said.

"I want to feed you. I want to watch those sensuous lips bite into something they'll savor. I want you to be satisfied. I don't want you to be hungry," I said.

"How can I not be satisfied, after being with you the last two hours. I'm so satisfied, I might never eat again," he said.

"What do you like?" I asked.

"I like you, but we shouldn't wear out a good thing. A couple of times a day should be enough," he said.

"Well, we've done it once," I said. "We'll go eat, and go back and do it again," I said.

"That's an offer I am not capable of refusing. Just this once, you can pay for our meal. I don't freeload on my friends, Z. I won't freeload on you. I do have some self respect.

We ate tacos and burritos. I hadn't eaten Mexican food before. It had great flavors that put a glow in my mouth. There weren't that many Mexican restaurants, where back home, and tasting it for the first time, made it an exceptional meal. I even added a little hot sauce, to see what that was like.

It was hot, but not unpleasant. I was sure it was food I'd grow to love, now that I'd discovered it.

"You wanted to go home for dinner, and now we've had dinner," Free said.

"Initially, they'll think I'm working late, if my father didn't stop at Hitchcock's on his way home from work. It's not a big deal, but they order for three, which includes me," I said.

"Most food stays fresh in the fridge," Free said.

"Yes, it does, and they'll save a plate for me. They keep telling me that I needed to get out more, to make some friends. They won't be worried. They might even be happy I had somewhere to be."

"Your parents sound like good people?" Free said, with a hint of envy.

"They are. I'm lucky that way. Life is no picnic, but I'm blessed with the kind of parents most kids would gladly take," I said.

I wanted to lean over and hiss him so bad. He had luscious lips, and mine were covered in hot sauce..

I was sure it was very late, when I woke up beside Free. It was chilly, and I put on my clothes, and I covered him with the blanket, before finding the path that would take me back to the street. Luckily the moon was overhead, and its light guided me to where I needed to go.

It was after midnight, when I opened the door to my house, and quietly made my way upstairs. I should have gone to the kitchen, and taken out the plate my mother left for me, to let them know I'd come in at a decent hour, but I didn't, and I was too tired to play games with the truth.

I was a working stiff. I had a right to go out at night, and come in late if I decided to. My parents would need to get accustomed to me having a life of my own that would be lived out of their sight and control.

Thinking of Free sleeping out in the woods worried me. He didn't seem to own anything but the clothes on his back and his skateboard, and some bed clothes, and yet he smelled as clean as if he were freshly scrubbed. His clothes weren't at all dirty, and he was happy-go-lucky, like his life was OK.

My life was better than OK. I had it all, and the only thing I might want, and couldn't afford, was a surfboard, but I hadn't even seen the ocean yet. I'd been way too busy trying to make contact with people I could become friends with, and now, I'd met Free, and the ocean was the last thing on my mind. I'd come to California thinking I'd learn to surf right off, but I hadn't heard anyone I met talk about going to surf.

While El Cajon wasn't a low rent district, because nowhere was in California, it was blue color, and lower middle class, when compared to neighborhoods closer to San Diego. It was possible, many boys couldn't afford surfboards. They did the next best thing to surfing, they skated, using skateboards as transportation.

A surfboard is only good, where there is surf, and there wasn't any in El Cajon. It was a trolley ride from downtown, and you could bus and trolley almost anywhere in the area, but I'd seen few surfboards, and then, they were usually strapped to the roof of a passing car.

Because we'd done it so much yesterday, and I did have to work today, Free and I hadn't made plans to meet. I remembered that, while skating to work. I could be late, and skate to see Free in the woods, before he got going, but then, he wouldn't get going, and I wouldn't get to work, and it would start a bad habit.

I'd come to a new place, and I didn't want to start bad habits. I told a man I'd work, if he hired me, and I would. I couldn't keep Free in sight all the time. There were times we'd be apart, and while I worked was one of those times. I had to trust felt the same way about me, as I felt about him. Otherwise, what was the point? We needed to get to know each other. We needed to trust each other, and part of that was going to work, when I'd rather go make love to Free.

I made the same request the following day, to get off by three. It was met with the same reply. The last truck left the loading dock at one, and by three, I'd put up almost all of the stock. I'd swept the floors, and I hung my apron on the hook, by Mr. Hitchcock's office.

"Thanks, Z," Mr. Hitchcock said, as I grabbed my skateboard.

"Your welcome. I'll see you tomorrow," I said, going toward the front door.

Mr. Hitchcock was standing in his office door as I turned, before stepping outside. He smiled. I smiled back, and then, I was on my way to the small patch of grass on the far side of the mall. It was empty this afternoon, and I sprawled upon it, thankful for a few minutes to rest, after a fairly busy day.

A few minutes later, a voice came from the blue.

"How long are you prepared to wait?"

"As long as it's necessary to wait," I replied.

Free dropped down next to me. He put his hand on mine. I smiled into the most glorious face of all. I wasn't a fool. I didn't know what love was, but whatever I was feeling for Free, had to be close, because I was sure it would be nearly impossible to feel more than I felt sitting on the lawn next to him.

"You left me. I woke up this morning, and you were gone. I never heard you leave," he said.

"I had to go home. I don't want any trouble with my parents. Life has been pretty nice since we moved out here, and I don't want to open old wounds. My parents are good people, and they've taken good care of me for eighteen years."

"Isn't that what parents are supposed to do?" Free asked.

"I suppose. What did your parents do?" I asked foolishly.

"Not much," Free said. "My mother doesn't know who my father is. Half the time, she doesn't remember who I am. When I was young and stupid, I asked her who my father was. She told me, 'He was probably one of the men dated back then.' So, you see, I never knew what parents do, because my mother did do little."

"How did you manage to survive?" I asked foolishly.

"I relied on the kindness of strangers," he said, not with any enthusiasm.

"I'm sorry," I said, lifting his hand to my lips and kissing the back of it.

"You didn't do anything but make me happy. Not many people make me happy," Free said. "I'm an adult now. Time to put away childish things. I've got to learn to make it on my own, without so much kindness from so many strangers."

"I can help you," I said, having no idea how I'd do that.

"That isn't your job, Z. I've got to be able to take care of me. Don't you understand that?" Free asked.

"Yes, I think I do. What are you good at, Free," I asked.

This time he to give a little thought to his answer. I had time to wait.

"I'm good at had making love to you, because I like you so much," he said.

I was better at making love to you, so you'd know how much I care about you. I

"I wish I was better at making love to you, so you'd know how much I care about you. I can't st can't stop thinking about you, us," I said.

He leaned to kiss my cheek.

Why did I ask so many questions? Why couldn't I simply let things be?

"All we've done is have sex. If you weren't so good at it, so perfect, when you come down to it, we don't know each other," he said.

"I wasn't sure how it worked, once you found someone you really love. I mean what do you say? What do you do, and then I met you, and I stopped worrying about it. What I do is stay close to you. What we do is make love."

"I'm very good at everything we do together, because I really like you. I don't think that will get me through life, because we're so young, Z. If I could, I'd make love to you right here, but I do have some sense. I've never done anything well, except for maybe taking care of myself. I can take care of myself," Free said.

"I'm here to help you with that. I work and I have a little money, and that's a start. We need a starting point," I said.

"That's your starting point. I need to figure out what I can do well, and make a living at it. Letting someone take care of me, isn't taking care of myself. For as long as we stick together, that might work, but what happens if we can't stick together? You see my point?" Free asked. "There needs to be more than sex, not that I'm knocking sex. You have a life, a job, and a family you owe loyalty to. I don't have a job, or a family, but I've taken care of myself. I need to figure out how to do that long term."

"Yes, you do, and there are no guarantees, but we are together right now, and I want to help you decide on what you'd like to do," I said. "Being young is a great thing in most ways, except we have no idea what will happen tomorrow. I'm so deliriously happy right now, it's difficult to put it in words, Free. I've never been this happy before. I've never felt this way about anyone before. I want it to last forever, but forever is a long long time. I want our love to last, and part of it is helping the boy I love. Just like you'd help me."

Free and I sat together on the grass, holding hands for a long time. We looked at each other and we smiled a lot. I got the giggles, and he tickled me, and I laughed loud and long. We rolled over together in the grass, and his lips brushed mine a few times.

Feeling wonderful was, well, it was wonderful. Being with free was wonderful. My life was wonderful, and everything looked different to me. It was like the world had just gotten a fresh coat of paint. It was like every breath of air was filled with rosebuds and honey. It was like nothing I'd experienced before, and I was going to hide this deep in the file marked for gym, so my parents would never find it, if they should decide to look for their son here.

I don't know what will happen, because everything was so good. Things would happen, and I didn't want to be so in love with Free, that I missed things I needed to know about. I didn't want to lose myself in Free, and it was obvious that Free needed to find himself, and not become lost in me.

I don't know what the odds were on love working out. I suppose we had a 50/50 shot at it. If you started out loving each other, that love had to live somewhere inside of both of us. I didn't think love went away. I was sure love changed. I was sure my parent's love had changed, but they were still in love.

That's what I wanted for Free and me. We'd love each other, learn to live together, and never crowd each other.

I wanted to share everything with Free.

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