Kaiser's Pack - Next Gen

by Bensiamin

Chapter 2

Saturday night, Jerrod and Roger went for pizza and then to the movies, as David and Jackson were meeting Will and Sam for dinner and then going to a jazz concert on campus at Lewis & Clark. When they got home, they found Jackson laying on the couch with his head in David's lap. They were listening to an early Miles Davis album, and Kaiser was curled up in front of the couch with his chin on one of David's feet.

"You guys look totally romantic," Roger said as they both walked into the living room and settled in the armchairs.

"This has always been our favorite position, right, Lover Boy?" David asked softly.

Jackson nodded and said, "Yep, all the way back to 1977. The best feeling in my life back then was laying like this with my Sexy Man stroking my hair. Of course, the advantage of laying like this is that you can feel something else happening when the mood is right!"

Jerrod wiggled his eyebrows, smiling widely. "I didn't know you called him your Sexy Man."

"Back then I was a kid, and he was a man, and he was the sexiest man I knew. He still is, at least as far as I'm concerned. How was the movie?"

Jerrod glanced at Roger, who said, "It was okay, not great. Kind of romantic, you know. But it was missing an important part."


"Yeah. It was missing two gay boys. It gets tiring having to keep doing the mental gymnastics when you're watching a guy and a girl."

"Romance is romance, isn't it? Are you feeling more romantic now than you were before you went?"

Jerrod nodded, and Jackson said, "Well, there you go."

David asked "Have you caught up on the sex since you got back from Pendleton? I mean what you missed because of the twin beds. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. I've got to figure out how to interject that into the conversation the next time I talk to Michael's mom!"

Jerrod grinned and said, "Just don't embarrass us. We were a study in good manners, right selle ?"

Roger nodded and then added, "Yeah, we were. However, to David's point, we still haven't caught up, so let's get busy before the romance wears off."

Jackson said he'd give Kaiser his final walk, and the boys bid them goodnight with broad smiles.

Jerrod was already in bed waiting when Roger walked in from the bathroom naked. He smiled widely, and said softly, "Will you stop and stand there for a minute?"

Roger looked up knowingly. He wasn't an egotist, but he knew Jerrod loved his blonde hair and blue eyes, and got turned on seeing him naked. He shook his head so that his longish hair swept around his face, and then stroked his chest and belly, finding himself chubbing up as his fingertips moved into his pubes.

"You're beautiful," Jerrod said. "Last night was soft and sexy, but I want us to do something different tonight."

"Sounds like a plan to me," Roger said in a soft and sultry voice, and he stepped to the bed and climbed on it. He crawled forward, straddling Jerrod's legs, leaning down and kissing the outline of his cock through the sheets. He glanced up at his boyfriend and said softly, "Ready for action! I like that." He pulled the sheet down and watched Jerrod's cock stand up.

"Love it," he said, leaning forward and licking the head.

Jerrod groaned as he felt Roger's mouth slowly surround his cock head.

Roger swirled his tongue a couple of times, then lifted off, and said. "I've got an idea for something different. Want me to drive?" He smiled lasciviously and Jerrod nodded back. He slid forward and moved up Jerrod's torso, placing his hands on Jerrod's shoulders. They'd maintained constant eye contact, and then Roger gave him a kiss with a lot of tongue and lifted his chest high. He was doing a push up off Jerrod's shoulders, and he felt his cock slide along Jerrod's groin, their cocks rubbing together. Jerrod looked down and stared at their two cocks and his eyes widened as Roger started softly thrusting.

Their cocks slid past each other, and Roger whispered, "Lube." Jerrod smiled and nodded, grabbing the bottle off the nightstand, and squirting some in his other hand. Then he grasped both of their cocks. They both felt the slickness suddenly increase and Jerrod held his hand like a tube as Roger continued to slowly thrust his cock over Jerrod's. Jerrod felt his excitement rising and saw the pleasure and purpose in Roger's eyes.

A minute passed, then two as their breathing increased along with the intensity of their feelings.

"I love you. This is so intense, I can't… I won't be able to… oh god, I'm going to cum."

Roger smiled widely, his eyes glowing as he continued to thrust. He watched his boyfriend's breathing pick up further, his eyes widen and then felt him begin to buck up into him, followed by his groans as he reached his climax. Jerrod didn't move his hand, and Roger kept thrusting into it. His climax came shortly behind Jerrod's, and then he collapsed onto his chest. When he caught his breath, he kissed the side of Jerrod's face, slowly sliding his belly against him. He was purposefully rubbing the cum between them, trying to keep the sensuous feeling going as long as possible.

Finally, Jerrod said, "That was amazing, but it's getting too much. We've got to stop."

Roger did and hugged him tight, kissing the side of his face again as Jerrod whispered. "That was over the top. What happened to go slow and take our time?"

"We went slowly. We took our time. There's no rule that we can't go again, you know!"

Sunday at Doernbecher was a usual day, meaning they saw a few patients they'd visited the previous Sunday, and met new ones who were just as needy and just as happy to spend some time with Kaiser and talk to new friends. Monday morning when they pulled up in front of Matt's house, he was out the door within a few seconds, smiling as he came down the sidewalk.

As he closed the back door of the Cherokee, he said, "Howdy, guys. Thanks for this. Picking me up is so cool of you."

"Did everything go as planned with Nate? All systems working as expected?"

Matt chuckled. "Yeah, we did a dry run yesterday… well, not a dry run, if you know what I mean. Anyway, it worked, and it was just like we wanted it today. So, Nate's all set. What's that saying about the early morning routine?"

"You mean that old military one, 'shit, shave and shower?' Is that it?"

"Yeah. So, Nate's peed, pooped and fed and should be good till noon." He started laughing at his own joke.

The boys laughed along with him. Roger taunted him about being a regular comedian, and they settled into the drive to school. They split up as they walked across the parking lot, and Jerrod said, "See you back here at the start of lunch."

When he got back after fourth period, Matt was already at the Cherokee. "That was quick."

"Yeah, I just had PE, and the gym is closer than the classrooms. Where's Roger?"

"He said he had to spend some time in the library, so he's grabbing a fast lunch and then doing some research for a paper. He'll catch up after school."

They heard Nate sing out a 'hello' as the y walked in the front door, and he had a wide grin on his face when they walked into the bedroom.

"Are you holding up okay, bro?"

"It's getting close. I'm not dying to piss, but I can feel it getting close."

Matt looked at Jerrod and said, "Mom said she'd make lunch before she left for work. Will you sort that stuff and bring it back here, and I'll assist Nate with his bodily functions?"

Jerrod grinned and nodded, and Nate threw back the sheet so Matt could pick him up. Jerrod found the note Matt's mom had left, and came back with sandwiches, chips and drinks. They talked about school and Matt said they'd have his homework assignments when they came back after school.

"First time in my life I'm looking forward to homework," Nate commented. "I like to read, but even that's getting boring."

Nate's teachers knew he would be recovering from surgery at the start of the quarter, and they all had his homework assignments prepared, and Matt and Jerrod just had to pick them up. As they handed them to him that afternoon, they all kidded around with Nate and then did a quick homework review with him. Then Jerrod said, "Time to go. Roger and I have to walk Kaiser. Happy homework!"

The pattern had been established, and the next morning Matt was waiting on the curb when they arrived. As he slid into the back seat he said, "All systems go!" They all laughed. That afternoon was the first meeting of the tennis team, and just like Eric had told them, it wasn't a competitive session to qualify for the team, but the coach made it clear they would be competing for standing on the team. Jerrod grinned at Roger and gave him a thumbs up, whispering silently, "You'll do great!"

The next morning, they knew something was different when they pulled up to get Matt. He came out of the door in a hurry a few seconds after Jerrod pulled to the curb. He looked flustered or excited, and as he got into the back seat, Jerrod said, "All good?"

"Yeah. All good."

"And, what," Roger asked.

"What? Well, now that you ask… I got some mail yesterday."

"No way! So, was it postmarked Eugene or Corvallis?"

Matt grinned, and Jerrod enjoyed watching the big smile wash across his face in the rearview mirror.

"As a matter of fact, it was both."

"Come on, man. Cut the suspense. Did you get accepted?"

"Yeah, to both." Matt's voice was elated.

"And the scholarship?"

"Don't know yet, this was getting admitted. It's a start, though. Without that there's no scholarship."

"When will you know about the scholarship?"

"I don't know. I'm going to ask our coach to call and see what he can find out. He knows the staff in both programs."

They both gave Matt a high five as they got out of the Cherokee and walked across the parking lot. At noon, Roger was joining them for the Nate run, and Matt said he'd talked to the football coach who'd call in the afternoon. "Maybe there'll be news later."

Lunch was a repeat of Monday, zip home to take care of Nate and then it was back to class. On the drive home after school, Matt said the coach told him he couldn't get an answer for him but expected to hear back the next day. Then he asked, "If you're doing this with me and Nate, who takes care of Kaiser?"

"We've got our system," Jerrod replied. "Most Tuesdays and Thursdays David can drive home for lunch, and on the other days our neighbor lets him out in the backyard for a little while. I'll tell him you were thinking about him when we get home."

Matt chuckled and they all went inside to harass Nate for a few minutes before the boys headed home to walk Kaiser.

The next day at lunch Matt came across the parking lot at lunch with a smile on his face.

Roger asked him what was up?

"Coach thinks I'm going to get a scholarship."

"Yahoo. Which school? How much?"

"Both schools. Don't know how much yet. Coach said they haven't finalized them. I'm holding out for a full ride."

"That will be fantastic."

"You don't know, man! I'm pretty sure Mom couldn't afford it otherwise. If I can get a full ride on tuition and books and stuff, she says she can handle room and board."

"When'll you know all the details?"

"Probably next week. I've been living on the edge waiting to find out. I don't know if you guys could tell, but it's been hectic."

Jerrod reflected on that statement for a few seconds, then said, "You've done a really good job of handling it. I mean, of keeping your stress hidden." He caught Matt's eye in the rearview mirror. "You know," he continued, "stuffing it so no one else knows what you're going through."

Matt stared back at him. "I didn't want to lay it on you guys, you've helped so much, you know, I'm supposed to handle my own… " the sentence kind of faced away.

"Matt, you're in the Pack now. It doesn't work that way. We're here for each other. Why can't you tell us what you're going through? I mean this is college acceptance, not the end of the world, but we didn't know it was that stressful. I'm going to have to report you to Kaiser!"

He could see Matt's face go blank, then smile softly and then heard him say, "Oh no! You can't do that? Kaiser would kill me. Maybe throw me out of the Pack!"

Roger turned in his seat and looked at Matt and said, "So, you'll get with the program. Like no secrets? We help each other if we need something. Transparency? You know that's what Kaiser expects."

"Yeah, I do. It's just that I've been doing this shit by myself for a long time and it's all new to have friends who care and want to help."

He'd glanced at Jerrod in the mirror, and heard Jerrod say, "I was there last year. Let it go."

Matt said, "I'm working on it." He paused. "Do you guys really tell each other everything?"

"Yeah," Roger said, "though to be honest, since he had to beat me up about not being transparent about my epilepsy and stuff, we haven't had any problems. But that's the way we all operate."


Jerrod glanced and Roger already anticipating how he was likely to reply. He smiled and nodded, and saw Roger look back at Matt.

"Yeah, everything. Including what kind of sex we want when we sleep over at each other's houses. You know like if I really want to…"

Matt had interrupted him. "Too much info! I get it. I don't need to know about your sex life." He paused, then added, "At least you've got one."

"Yeah, what's up with that? How come you don't have a girlfriend? We haven't seen you date even."

"I date every once in a while. It's just not a regular thing. You know, school and sports and helping Mom out and stuff."

Nate asked for some help with his homework when they dropped Matt off, and Roger spent fifteen minutes helping him understand how to transform equations for Algebra.

The next morning, Matt thanked them for challenging him about being honest with them about what he'd been stressing about. "I thought about it last night, and even talked to Nate about it, and basically it's nice to have friends. I mean friends you can really talk to about stuff. You know, your problems, not just football and all that stuff."

Roger grinned at him. "Spoken like a member of the Pack!"

After school, Matt wasn't at the Cherokee when Jerrod and Roger got there. He came jogging across the parking lot a minute or so later. He looked flustered, but just said 'hi' and got in the back seat.

Jerrod looked at him in the rearview mirror after he pulled into the street. Matt caught his eye and held it for a few seconds and then said, "I've got to tell you guys, don't I?"

"Tell us what?" Roger said, turning in his seat.

"That I just had a run in with a couple of guys on the football team."

"Well, yeah, that's what friends are for. What kind of run in?"

"They were, well… they were giving me shit about turning gay because I've been hanging out with you guys and not them."

"They're accusing you of being gay," Jerrod said, "because you're riding with two gay guys so you can take care of your little brother who's recovering from surgery? Were those guys born without brains?"

Matt laughed. "That's funny. It makes you think so, doesn't it! I think they're just jealous because you've got wheels and they don't, plus it's something they can harass me about."

"And what did you say."

"I told them they were full of shit and that they could go fuck themselves."

"Themselves, or each other?"

Matt went blank, then started to grin. "That's good! I should have told them to go fuck each other. That would have really pissed 'em off."

"Well, maybe it's better you didn't. You don't want to make a big deal out of this," Jerrod said. "I hadn't thought what some people might think about you riding to and from school with two gay boys."

"Who cares! We know why we're doing it."

They pulled up to the curb and Jerrod said, "Remember, we're just dropping you off today 'cause we've got to get Kaiser and go meet Sean. Say 'hi' to Nate."

"Got it. See you in the morning."

Friday morning Matt told them that Michael had called Nate again the night before. Jerrod expected it to be taken as a positive thing, but Matt made it sound negative.

"So, Matt. What's the problem? What's wrong with them being friends?"

"Well, nothing, really."


"What do you mean, but? Well, that kid's gay, right?"

"Is that a problem? We're gay. The three of us are friends. Are we turning you gay?"

"What? No. But, you know it's different. We're older."

"Oh, so being gay only happens to younger kids? That doesn't even make sense. What's the problem?"

Matt was quiet, then said, "It's just that, when I was younger like Nate…" He stopped mid-sentence as Jerrod parked the Cherokee. "Oh, nothing. I guess it's just me being paranoid. You guys are right. It's cool he's got a friend. No one from Little League is calling him or coming to visit, so what's not to like, right?"

Jerrod pulled into his usual parking spot at the back of the student lot, and they walked together across the lot. Just as they got to the door, they ran into two members of the football team who stopped and looked suspiciously. It was clear they were wondering how it was possible that Matt was having anything to do with two gay boys.

Matt stared them down, and Jerrod saw the emotions flash across his face and watched him swallow hard. "Hey you guys, I want you to meet Jerrod and Roger. They do dog therapy work at Doernbecher where my little brother had surgery last week, and they're Nate's dog therapy team."

He turned to Jerrod and Roger and said, "This is Tom and Steve." Then he turned back to Tom and Steve and said, "I've learned a lot in the last few weeks, and these two are good guys."

Roger stepped forward with a hand extended and said, "Hi, you guys." They looked startled, but had no choice, and shook his hand and then Jerrod's too.

After they separated from Matt and headed for their classes, Jerrod said, "Was that totally weird with Matt earlier, or what?"

"It was. It's like some strange kind of homophobia or something. And like he thinks Michael will turn Nate gay over the phone!"

"Well, Nate has told us he had a crush on that kid on the team, and he's been really clear to Matt about liking Michael and them being friends."

"Yeah, but! It's weird, that's for sure."

The lunch run was uneventful, but Matt was late coming out to the car after school. He arrived a few minutes later looking ruffled. As he climbed in the back seat, Jerrod could see a red welt on his face.

"What happened to you?"

Roger turned in his seat and then said, "Oh fuck! Were you in a fight or something? Was it those two guys from this morning?"

Matt blushed and then collected himself. "Yeah, it was. I was in the Coach's office and ran into them on my way out. They started acting snarky and I called them on it and then they started playing like they didn't know me. You know that 'Who's that? Can you hear someone talking?' kind of stupid shit. I told 'em they were being stupid, and they said at least they weren't hanging out with the gay kids. That really pissed me off and I tried to tell explain to them again that you're my friends and Nate's dog therapy team and you have a car. They just laughed at me and said, 'Yeah, right!' Then they wanted to know which one of you sucked my cock."

Jerrod was offended and could see Matt was bright red with anger. "What?"

"Yeah. Can you believe that? That they'd be so fucking low to say something like that? We've been on the football team together for four years, and they're giving me this kind of shit."

"Then what happened?" Roger asked.

"Oh, they made some lame remark about what real friendship was and that now they could see I'd been lying all along and was probably gay, too. Ssa yhit like that."

"And what did you do?"

"That's when I lost it."


"Yeah, I was trying to keep it together. You know, 'cause we know what's going on and those dudes have their heads up their asses. But that last comment was too much. I was standing in front of them, you know, close to them, and I just lost it. I told them they were total losers and shoved them both up against the lockers and was about to tell them they'd better never say anything like that again, and that's when Tom took a swing at me."

"No way!"

"Yeah. It was just a glancing hit on my cheek. And you know what, they're lucky because just then the coaching staff came out of the main office and pulled us apart. If not, I would have had those guys. They're not that good, and I could have handled both of them."

"Matt. You know that's not the solution, right?"

"Yeah, I know, but I got angry and lost it. It was totally fucked. Anyway, let's get out of here, okay?"

Jerrod headed out and they drove home. After Matt took Nate to the bathroom, they settled down to catch up with him. That's when he looked at his older brother's face for the first time. "What the fuck happened to you?"

"It's a long story. I got in a fight with two idiots on the football team?"

"What? Why?"

Matt was initially quiet, then said, "Because they were telling me I was turning gay because I was riding with Jerrod and Roger. But really it was because Jerrod and Roger are now my friends, and they were dissing them, and if I've got to choose, I'll choose friends in Kaiser's Pack over those two pieces of shit any day."

They talked for a couple of minutes about what might happen next, then Jerrod said he and Roger had to go to walk Kaiser.

"We'll see you guys tomorrow afternoon, and we can talk more then."

That night at dinner Jerrod filled David and Jackson in on what transpired at school with Matt. They discussed it, and David had some thoughts on the unresolved tensions that clearly were going on in Matt's inner life. Jackson said, "I think it's pretty commendable that the guy who started out bullying the gay kid on the ski team chose to stand with you and Roger when push came to shove."

Jerrod grinned and said, "Literally and figuratively, right?" Jackson chuckled and nodded in agreement, and then Jerrod continued, "I've got a big favor to ask you. Will you come with us tomorrow afternoon? What you said before about what Gary went through might be just the kind of thing he needs to hear about."

"Sure. We'll have our honey-do list done in the morning, and as long as you promise me it won't take all afternoon, I'll come along."

They met Eric and Kim in the morning at Lewis & Clark, happily exulting that they were able to play again, and especially on the weekend while pretty much everyone else on the tennis team wasn't because it was raining. "Ah, yes," Eric said, "indoor tennis courts. One of the perks of higher education!" They spent time working on service drills and volleying, and they played two doubles matches.

After showers and lunch, they loaded into the Cherokee while David went shopping. Matt met them at the door and was surprised to see yet another adult with them.

"Matt, this is Jackson. We asked him to come along today 'cause he's really been interested in Nate's recovery. He was in college with Coach Sam when she had her hip injury."

Matt looked like he didn't really understand the logic, but smiled in acknowledgment, and brought them inside. "You know where Nate's room is." He turned to Jackson, "Do you want to meet my mom?"

"That's a good place to start." Matt led them to the kitchen where Matt's mom was busy cooking. She wiped her hands and shook hands with Jackson when he was introduced. "So, you're one of the men that Jerrod lives with. You seem to have a positive influence on him. He and Roger are great young men, and it's so thoughtful of them to drive Matt so he can take care of Nate during the week."

"They are both great young men," Jackson replied. He looked at Matt and continued, "And, from what I hear, your oldest son is a great young man, too!"

Matt looked shocked, and his mom concurred with Jackson's observation and then said, "And then there's Kaiser. He's some dog. It's almost like he can work magic with children."

"I can attest to that fact, Mrs. Willis," Jackson said. "He has been known to work magic on occasion, and it's not limited to children."

She smiled at him and said, "Call me Laurie. Let's go see Nate and say hi to the boys and Kaiser."

Jackson stopped just inside the door to Nate's room, next to Matt. They watched Laurie say 'hi' to everyone, including Kaiser, and introduce Jackson. A conversation immediately got started about the tennis match in the morning. There were too many people in that conversation for them to join in, so Jackson caught Matt's eye and nodded toward the hall and then said, "Can you get me a glass of water?"

Matt nodded and Jackson followed him into the kitchen where he sat down at the counter and sipped the glass of water Matt handed him.

"I'm glad to finally meet you. I've heard a lot about you."

"Most of it not good, I'm sure. I'm sorry I gave Jerrod so much shit for so long."

Jackson smiled at him. "Have you figured out already that he's a pretty unique guy?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I know he was responsible for saving your life on the mountain that day, but what I mean is that apart from the actual bullying part, he never had a bad thing to say about you. It was always positive comments about your athletic abilities, or stuff like 'there's a brain and a heart in there,' or 'there's a conscience in there,' things like that. He mainly saw the good things about you. You're only thinking about the bad, aren't you?"

Matt was at a loss for words. Who was this middle-aged man who could just walk into his house and start talking to him like this?

"Don't freak out, Matt. At our house there's no hidden agendas, we're all totally honest with each other, especially about the important stuff in life. So, it just means that I know a lot more about you than you'd normally expect."

"Yeah? I guess you mean transparency, right? Jerrod and Roger and I were talking about that the other day." He paused, then added, "So, you know a lot about me?" It was clearly a leading question.

"Yeah. Like I know you're a good-looking young man. You're a really good athlete. You're a person who can recognize when they made a mistake and apologize. You are an amazing older brother who has stepped up to wipe his little brother's ass when he needs to take a dump. Stuff like that."

Matt had to fight to suppress a grin and said, "What! They told you all that?"

"Sure did. Jerrod also told me he told you I had to wipe my partner's butt when he had a torn rotator cuff way back when, so I know you know, too! We're all kind of one big happy family, sort of. I guess that's part of being in Kaiser's Pack.

"Oh, right! Stupid me. You'd be in the Pack too, of course. And David, too, right"

"Sure are. I even know you used to play baseball like your little brother, and could have been another Bo Jackson, except you decided to quit and ski instead."

Jackson saw Matt wince, as if he was shying away from something. "I don't know about that. I just decided baseball wasn't my thing anymore, and skiing was."

"Well, either way, I'm impressed, and I'm happy you guys are all on the same wavelength now."

"I'm still getting used to it. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I do. It takes time. David and I haven't had anyone living with us for fifteen years and then along comes Jerrod with all his problems and there goes last summer."

"What'a ya mean 'all his problems?' Jerrod always seemed pretty together to me."

"You mean even if he was gay?"

"No! Well, yeah, and I'm sorry about that. I'll never get over all that. Harassing them and then they're the guys that save my ass."

"I heard about what Eric said. That must have hurt?"

"It did. That's when I realized how screwed up I was. That I'd become such an asshole, they said why bother."

"But Jerrod didn't, did he?"

"Nope. He was the real deal."

"That's what I meant about the kind of person he is. He'll be your best friend for life if you let him. All I'll say is, just be open and honest, don't close down. We all need those kinds of friends in our lives, don't you think?"

Matt swallowed, his eyes moist, and said, "I'm kind of learning that. It feels good."

Jackson heard someone walk in the kitchen and just said, "That's the way it's supposed to feel."

Almost immediately after which Matt's Mom said, "Kaiser is an amazing dog. I can see why Nate loves him. Matt, aren't you glad you're in that Pack, too?"

"You know I am, Mom. But, remember, he's Nate's therapy dog, not mine."

She looked confused, and Jackson said, "You know how it is, Laurie. We figure out at different times in our lives that we all need therapy. Now, tell me about you. Where do you work? How do you manage a household with two teenage boys? David and I have one and we're barely making it. Well, one teenager and one dog, but there's a lot less drama with the dog than the teenager."

Jackson and Laurie talked about raising kids and workplace environments and when Laurie asked how long Jackson and David had been together, Matt decided to leave them on their own and went back to Nate's room. It was just in time, and he got to lift Nate off the bed and carry him to the bathroom to pee. When he carried Nate back there was the expected joking about if Nate was not stable enough to hold his own cock. He took it in good humor and assured them his little brother could handle his own little cock!

Jackson joined them ten minutes later and the conversation turned to Spring quarter, Roger joining the tennis team for the first time, and if Nate was keeping up on his homework.

Nate made it clear that the thing that was making his recovery at home work was Jerrod driving Matt in the Cherokee. Nate grinned at Jerrod. "That's a cool car to have. You're really lucky, man."

Jerrod nodded. "Yeah, I'm lucky. My dad bought it for me so I could safely drive up the mountain for skiing. But the dude with the cool car is Jackson. He's got a 1970 Dodge Challenger that his dad gave him."

That led to a discussion about performance cars, how the Challenger would perform against a newer Chevy Camaro or Ford Mustang. Matt seemed to like being part of the car conversation. At a lull in the talk, Jackson looked at Matt and said, "With ski season over and you not playing baseball anymore, what do you for sports in the spring?"

Matt flinched and then said, "I keep working out and train, but mainly in the spring I help Nate with his baseball." He looked at his little brother. "Right?"

"Yep. Matt's my home coach. He can be a royal pain, but he knows his stuff. We've got a park a block over and he gives me hitting and fielding drills." Pretty soon Jackson caught Jerrod's eye and pointed at his watch. Jerrod remembered they'd promised David not to be all afternoon and said they needed to get going. He reminded Nate they'd be at the hospital the next day, but they'd be back Monday at noon with Matt for the lunch pee break. He looked conspiratorially at Nate. "Have you got it down now? You can really hold it that long? Wouldn't want you peeing your pants with that cast on, you know."

Nate glared at him. "No problem, bro. I've got it down now."

They popped into the kitchen to say goodbye to Laurie on the way out. Jackson stayed behind a minute to talk with her and then caught up with the boys at the front door, where he held Matt back.

"Jerrod told me about your dad dying a few years ago. Losing your dad when you're a kid is tough. I grew up without a dad but then in high school he came back into my life. So, I know something about what you've struggled with. Like Jerrod said, my dad gave me the Dodge Challenger. I mean my real dad who I didn't meet till my senior year in high school. I'll tell you the story sometime, but the point is that I have to take it out for a drive a few times a year, especially in the winter. I'm thinking I'm going to do that tomorrow. Do you want to go for a cruise in an old muscle car?"


"You don't think I'm shitting you, do you?"

"Well, no, but you know."

"I know, and I'm serious. You clear it with your Mom, and I'll be here at 11:00. We'll go cruise McLoughlin Boulevard and maybe head up Highway 26 toward the mountains and see how she runs. How's that?"

"That'd be way cool."

"Great. It'll be a Sunday morning cruise. See you then. Now I've got to get home 'cause I promised not to be gone all afternoon. See you tomorrow."

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[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 (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) 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. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead