Outside the Foul Lines - Book I

by Rick Beck

Chapter 5

Mowing More

Mowing my neighbor's lawns hadn't led to anything more exciting than cool sun tea and fresh baked goods served to keep up my energy. It would have been just as easy for my clients to ignore me as pamper me, but in mid-summer afternoons, after my encounter with Devon, my thoughts were of a more spicy dish.

I'd been mowing lawns for years and the most exciting thing I'd run into was Mr. Marsh's terrier humping Mrs. Blaney's cocker spaniel. When I stopped to take a break one afternoon, I'd seen Nancy Macy kissing Dennis Greene in the swing behind her house. I wished I'd been attracted to girls at that age. Though still in elementary school, they held hands as they swung, oblivious to the observer who watched them.

Boys may have been able to love one another as companions and best friends, but romance wasn't allowed. Even Ryan's deep desires for another boy's touch wasn't accompanied by an affectionate embrace or any need to be emotionally close. He resisted touching me except when it was leading to one of our intimate encounters.

I wondered if I'd ever share tender affection with the man I loved. I questioned if I'd ever have a man to love. I was still waiting for a second guy to come along and take my mind off the emptiness I felt. There wasn't anyone I'd looked at twice as a potential lover. I wasn't sure if it was because of how Ryan had treated me or if I really was that hard to please.

While the mowing of lawns didn't lead to anything exciting in an erotic way, it did lead to odd jobs done for our older neighbors whose kids were far away. They called me when the faucet leaked, the toilet wouldn't stop running, or when a just-out-of-reach light bulb needed replacing.

I weeded their gardens, trimmed their hedges, and took a stab at repairing their small appliances. It was all routine. Not one cheap thrill to be had in all of Statesville. At least that had been my luck so far. I wasn't even sure what I was looking for, but I was certain I'd know it when I saw it, and after all that waiting and wondering, it wasn't long before I saw it the summer before I left for State.

I was out mowing lawns late in June. The summer heat settled into our valley; it was hot and even more humid than usual. My shirt clung to me as I sweated out the sun tea. I made it to Mr. William's lawn without going home for lunch. It was too hot to eat and the sooner I was done the sooner I'd be sitting in a tub full of cold water.

There were no great thoughts of discovery in my mind as I rounded the corner of the house to mow the side yard and near about ran into the ladder leaning against the house. I didn't immediately realize it, but I was in luck. Devon from the next street over was two thirds of the way up the ladder, painting.

Making a quick maneuver around the ladder, I avoided what might have been a nasty accident. I checked back over my shoulder for another look at Devon. Clad only in a pair of seriously cut-off cutoffs, he steadied himself on the ladder and looked back at me.

"Hey, Dooley" he shouted over the noise, "How about a hand?"

I was tempted to applaud, but instead I finished the pass I was making before coming to a halt next to the ladder. I tapped the off switch with my toe and found myself looking up into the leg of his cutoffs. Devon had failed to incorporate underwear into his wardrobe. Socks either, but I wasn't interested in his feet.

Devon looked down as I looked up. All he could see was I wasn't wearing a hat. But I was wearing sunglasses, and that furnished me with plenty of opportunity to stare undetected into the shade created by his cutoffs for any points of interest. It wasn't the kind of thing I looked for but it was the kind of thing I noticed.

"Find what you're looking for? I can take them off if it'll help you see better," Devon said without sounding angry.

It didn't take long to realize that he didn't have to see my eyes to know what I was investigating. In other circumstances, it was the kind of thing that could have unnerved me, but Devon and I didn't exactly travel in the same circles.

Rumors came to mind about how he'd had his way with most of the girls in our neighborhood who could be had. Devon was the little bit bad, little bit dirty boy always on the prowl for available girls who fancied the rumors. I didn't see it myself, or much else in the shady shorts, but my crotch tightened as I sensed the powerful presence of something just beyond my reach. I wasn't about to turn my back on the peek show, since this was the best show in town.

A vision of my mother came to mind. She was pointing Devon out to me at the mall the summer I was fourteen. She instructed me never to associate with "that boy." I wasn't certain she'd heard the rumors or if it was the rings and the shorts cut off suggestively short so the young girls would giggle when he passed.

My mother was a bit put off by boys with earrings in their ears, so Devon never had a chance with her or me, until that day in Mr. William's yard. I'd never been so close to forbidden fruit. The air was a might thin up on that ladder as my own shorts became unable to hide what resulted from my keen interest in his shorts.

The rings he wore were the source of much speculation about his weirdness. I was more intrigued by rumors of the ring he had installed in his dick. It made no sense to me that anyone would put one there, but the thought of it both concerned and excited me in some odd way that I tried not to think about. Did he do it himself, or much much more thrilling, did someone do it for him? Were any of the rumors true? Seeing for myself seemed to be a way to satisfy my curiosity and the idea had me blushing as well as throbbing as time stood still.

"After you find what you're looking for, how about handing me the can the paint if you don't mind," Devon requested.

Moving down the ladder, I wiped the sweat off my face so I didn't drip into the paint bucket before I took it to him, stopping just below his thighs to hand it up.

"Come on, Dooley," he complained. "Move up behind me so I don't spill it all over you."

The maneuver was dicey. He didn't take the bucket from me until my body was pressed up against his. I was in danger of spilling it on myself as a surge of heat ran up from my crotch and surged out of my face. As he turned to gain control of the paint, our bodies stuck together from our sweat and the heat of the moment. The first chance I got, I began to back down the ladder.

"Not so fast there, speedy. Once I get enough paint in the tray, you'll be taking what's left back down."

I stopped and waited for him to offer me the bucket back. My face came to rest on the back of his leg and my nose was pointed up a few inches under the leg of his shorts. This time his legs were spread with his feet as far apart as the ladder allowed so I could use the space between them.

Now, inches away from the truth, I had a need to know. As he occupied himself with the paint, I positioned myself for easy viewing. There were definite signs of hair and low hanging fruit, which got my undivided attention. The second thing I noticed (on account I couldn't see the ring in the first place) was the smell, which though mildly apparent before, but now with my nose at the opening of the leg of his shorts, was intoxicating. At first it was a rude distraction from the quest on which I'd embarked, but as my nose got accustomed to the musty smell, I realized the smell belonged to the object my eyes were fixed upon. It got my full attention once my nose adjusted to the fragrance. A powerful tingle took over my body while I was pondering Devon's many mysteries.

The aroma weakened my body and caused my brain to vapor lock in the heat of the moment. The more deeply I breathed the better I felt about his body odor. I became excited by our proximity and the sight of his nakedness just above me gave me one rude idea after another. Nothing could prevent me from touching his dangling doodads once I felt him pressing the front of his shorts on my hand while I held the latter in front of him.

It was a triple header of thrills. Devon paid me no mind as he leaned forward to slowly pour the tray full. I don't know how long he held the bucket out for me to take it, but I was preoccupied with everything I had on my plate. It wasn't until he undulated his hips on my hand that I became alerted to my intoxicated brain.

"You could do me here, but I don't come easy and I doubt Mr. William's insurance will cover a sex act on a ladder," he said casually as he held out the can of paint.

"What?" I asked, looking around his shorts. "Oh," I said, reaching for the bucket with the hand he wasn't pressing against.

"You play baseball over at school, don't you?"

"Yeah. I did. Graduated."

"I bet those boys don't bend over in the shower with you around. You don't pretend you don't, that's for sure. No harm in liking what you like, but this ladder ain't the place and this isn't the time, Dooley."

It was a sympathetic scolding, more concerned with timing than substance. It didn't sink in at the time. I was too captivated to think about what he said. I still hadn't ruled out reaching out for him, but I knew better. Yet you don't always know what you know, rubbing against a guy at the same time you're hanging off a ladder. I'd know more once my feet were back on the ground and his smell was out of my nose. But I wasn't ready to climb down yet.

"Go for it. I'm in no position to stop you, and besides, it would sure make painting more interesting," Devon said, painting in careful even strokes, once the paint can was back in my hands. "I'm not wearing it if you want a look at the ring in my dick."

"Oh," I responded, embarrassed by my transparency.

He was giving me an out and I didn't know why. We both knew what was on my mind. It was the first time I hadn't hid my interests, since my once best friend discovered Lucy and then Bonnie.

"I left the ring out but you can cop a feel if you like. It don't bother me none. Something to do," he calculated. "Nothing your buddies ain't done."

"What buddies," I objected, thinking of the lurking nervous twits who frequented the toilets before and after school.

"What buddies?" he repeated. "Timmy and Ryan for starters. You were thick as thieves, weren't you? They copped a feel. Wanted to see how it worked."

"Timmy in a heartbeat. Ryan, never," I objected, having watched our friendship dissolve once Timmy showed up.

"Have it your way. I don't mind. You guys were tight back when we were young," he said, including me in a group he didn't belong to.

"He was my best friend," I remembered.

"Ryan isn't after any long term deal with a dude. Once in awhile is more his style. He gets an itch and looks to scratch it. You'd have complicated his life. He's not beyond curiosity. You'd be surprised at the guys that ask to see it."

I listened without having any more interest in the conversation. I was never as close to anyone than Ryan, but that time was over.

"Not Ryan," I objected.

"You do know your men. No, he was careful to encourage Timmy to get it up, but Ryan was anxious to see what happened to the ring as I rose to the occasion. He stood to one side."

"That's what I figured," I said. "He was just curious. Who wouldn't be," I said too fast.

"He came back later without Timmy. Ryan didn't mind asking for a favor. I could dig it, but if I give a favor, I expect one. The intent needs to flow in both directions."

"He wouldn't," I declared, sensing he had no reason to lie.

"No, probably not."

"We were best friends," I found myself saying.

"Too close is too close. Don't ask me to explain it. Boys are filled with contradictions. Just ask me. I am one."

"But you're always with girls," I rationalized. "Ryan is always with a girl."

"Almost always. Not when I paint. Girls are chocolate ice cream. Man I love chocolate. Chocolate chip, mint chocolate, fudge nut chocolate. Chocolate is the best, but I still like strawberry some days, cookies & cream others. I figured that out by eating ice cream. Once you try it you know what you like best, but you can even get tired of your favorite some days."

"Man, I don't know what I like," I admitted in a moment of clarity.

"No?" he laughed, my face almost pressing against the back of his leg. "You know all right. You just haven't figured out the best way to ask for a favor. You'll figure it out in your own time, Dooley. We all do. I just had a hankering to figure it all out when I was way young."

Devon laughed and I held fast to my spot, once I got another whiff of him. I wanted to do plenty. My mind raced from thoughts of touching him and more, but not on a ladder in Mr. William's yard. While Devon invited the contact, I didn't want him to know I would take him up on it, but the spell was about to be broken.

"What's wrong?" Mr. Williams interrupted, turning the corner to interrupt the impulse that was about to take over.

"He's just getting me the paint bucket," Devon said in mid-lean as he brushed. "Thanks, dude. You let time run out."

"Heard the mower quit. Thought you might need gas."

"No, sir. Just handling him the paint," I explained as Devon laughed loudly.

I eased myself back onto the grass, unable to keep from taking one last look upward.

"Mrs. put some tea on the table in the kitchen. Don't you boys get heat stroke out here. It's a scorcher by golly," he said, using a handkerchief on his wrinkled forehead. "Devon, thank your daddy for sending you over. Mrs. Won't let me near the ladder any more. You're a nice looking lad without all those rings, you know?"

Mr. Williams disappeared and Devon started to laugh again, shaking his head.

"What do you think he'd say if I showed him the one in my dick?"

"He'd freak," I said, shaking my head as I imagined Devon flipping it out for Mr. William's benefit. "I'd pay to see that."

"You'd pay to see that? I'll be wearing it next time we meet. You can see it or whatever. It's not a problem for me, dude."

"Okay," I said, not sure how to respond to what sounded like a proposition.

I pulled the cord on the mower about ten times before Devon came down the ladder. He squatted next to the engine.

"Hold off a minute," he said, fiddling with the carburetor.

"Go ahead. Try it again."

"It's hot. Vapor lock," I explained.

"Yeah, try it. I'll adjust the carburetor to lean the fuel some. It'll catch in a minute," he reassured me.

I pulled the cord three times and the lawnmower sputtered, groaned, finally catching as he eased the throttle back up to regular speed. He wiped his hands on his shorts as he stood up and stepped back to give me plenty of room.

"It'll be fine now. Thanks for the paint, Gotta get back to work," he said, watching me as I pushed the mower down the side of the house and away from him.

By the time I cut my way back to the ladder he was involved with painting again, paying no attention to my passing as I moved further and further away from the ladder. I looked up each time I was in the vicinity.

The allure had passed but not my curiosity. My brain was still in a quandary over my close encounter. It seemed like everyone in Statesville was getting lucky but me. The routine of following the mower did nothing to pull me back to a comfortable reality. I still had the urge to go back and talk to Devon, but talking wasn't going to cure what ailed me.

I was drawn to Devon in a way it was impossible to explain or resist. I didn't know him but I wanted to know him, but not casually. I wanted to know him in a way I'd never known anyone. Devon knew what was on my mind and had no qualm s about expressing his own feelings. He'd only just come alive to me in a way that made me feel better about myself. All the rumors I'd heard about Devon, now made him more desirable to me.

Devon followed his own drummer and stood out doing it. I previously avoided contact with him, while my friends discussed his peculiarities. I was made uneasy by what was said, until the day I cut Mr. William's lawn. He'd explained himself in a few sentences and I got it.

I was relieved to mow around the back of the house. I lost sight of him and was able to get my mind back on my work. That's not to say he didn't cross my mind again, and when he did, I smiled.

Something was about to happen that brought it all into focus, after I'd shut off the mower and was leaning on the back steps enjoying a fresh glass of tea Mrs. Williams brought out for me. Drinking the cool beverage, there wasn't anything on my mind. There was the tinkle of ice cubes and the cool liquid soothing my parched throat.

Devon reached over the top of the redwood gate to unfasten the latch to come in for tea, I thought. Smiling large when he saw me I surveyed his face, chest, and finally the black fur below his belly button. My mind rushed back over the feelings he had stimulated within me as he came over to where I sat. I waited for him to join me on the steps.

"Got to go, dude. It don't matter if you like a dude, Dooley, you know," he said, mussing up my hair as he came to a stop to dispensed his wisdom. "It don't matter if that dude ain't me. What matters is how you feel and what you do about it." His friendly words were filled with assurance. "Later, dude. It's been nice trading paint with you." He laughed nice like as he walked away.

"Yeah, real nice," I said, watching him as he passed back through the gate, leaving me craving more.

For the first time in a long time I felt like I wasn't alone. I'd known Devon for most of my life, but we'd never talked or ran in the same circles. In a few minutes of conversation I'd changed my mind about him, realizing it was not his loss but mine. He knew what was on my mind and didn't mind a bit.

How cool was that.

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