Kaiser's Rodeo

by Bensiamin

Chapter 9

The boys were silent, momentarily stunned by what they'd just heard.

"Mom, I didn't know, I mean…"

"You didn't need to know… I mean know formally. You've been going through your own changes, haven't you? Hopefully, you experienced it in how your dad and I acted and accepted you and went to work to support you however we could."

"Oh, I did, that's for sure. Stew and Todd can't believe it, how together you and dad are compared to their parents."

"Well, give them time. Maybe their parents will come around, too. Stew's parents were at David's session, remember?" She looked at Nate, "I don't want to turn this into a lecture or anything, but can I say one more thing?"

Nate nodded.

"You already know more than most young men your age about identity and you're working through the changes you are currently going through, and that's wonderful. I'm here to help you and support you however I can… and so is Michael's dad and grandpa. I want you to understand one other thing that goes along with identity. It comes from educational theory, and I've been discussing it with David on and off. It starts with the concept that for students to learn and succeed they have to be able to flourish, and to do so they have to be assisted to possess three things. One of them is understanding their identity, and I can tell you that my understanding of identity is now an order of magnitude larger than it was thanks to David. That said, however, there are two other elements that are necessary if students and people are going to flourish. They are purpose and belonging."

She paused to let the words sink in. "Are you following me?"

"I guess, but what does that mean?"

"It means that to flourish you have to have all three. The idea behind flourishing is that to become a whole and complete person, to reach your fullest potential you have to overcome challenges and obstacles. We all do, that's life. Identity is talked about a lot more these days than when I was your age, and purpose is a given for most people. Meaning that it's acknowledged that people need to have a purpose and that purpose gives meaning to their life. Are you with me on that?"

Nate nodded, and this time when Michael squeezed his hand, he lifted it up and kissed the back of it.

"Belonging is the third element, and what you just did is a perfect example of it. You've lived in this home with us for two weeks, yet the level of your sense of belonging is such that you can kiss the back of Michael's hand in front of his mother. If you were both in school together, would you do that in study hall? Tomorrow at lunch at the rodeo grounds will you do that?"

Nate kind of winced and made a face, and Michael said, "I'm with you, I probably wouldn't either."

"But here, you belong, and you belong in a way that you're fully accepted and supported. That was one of the realizations for me when Jerrod challenged me to get involved in GSA. I'd been an effective teacher, and I thought of myself as open-minded and forward thinking and accepting of LGB students. However, it wasn't until I accepted my son was gay that it suddenly hit me that if even half of what I'd heard about bullying and second-class treatment was true, that was going to happen to my son, and that probably meant he didn't or wouldn't feel like he belonged at his own school. So, I had to do my part to address that and try to make things better at school. And if I was going to do it at school, then I had to absolutely assure that he felt he one hundred percent belonged here at home."

"Wow! That's pretty heavy."

"Yes, and it's a lot to process, Nate. So not to worry, there's no quiz in the morning!" She chuckled. "Just understand that they all work together, and if you remember just one thing let it be this: to feel complete you have to have a well-formed identity; unless you have purpose in your life you'll feel hopeless, and to avoid feeling lonely and unloved you have to belong. Our job is to make sure you feel like you belong, both of you, so you can work on the other two."

She paused and smiled as she looked at the two boys in front of here. "Alright, lecture over. I think you need to go take a shower, Nate. Meanwhile I'll finish dinner, and after dinner you need to call home."

Nate smiled softly, feeling the emotion well up. "Thanks for being my second mom." He pulled Michael's hand and said, "I need to get that shower. Come on."

He pulled Michael down the hall to their bedroom, shut the door behind them and pulled the older boy to him. "That was heavy, but I feel better already."

"I was spooked when I first walked in, but then I realized it was all okay. How did you get into all that?"

"We were just talking, and it got to our relationship and how it was going, and I said something about working on my stuff, and pretty soon she's talking about the changes I have to be going through and I shouldn't fret about it. Kind of like you said I was overthinking it. Then when you came in, you heard the rest."

Michael pulled him toward him so they could kiss, and then said softly, "Everything I heard her say was right on. A bunch applies to me, too, so I've got to think on that. Meanwhile you to take a shower, you smell!"

"I thought sweat was supposed to smell sexy?"

"Maybe fresh sweat, but yours has dried. Anyway, go shower and then I get some cheap thrills when I can watch you get dressed!"

The main work to start with the next day was clean up after Saturday's rodeo. It hadn't been a large event, so it only took a few hours with lunch in the middle. They sat down together, and a few minutes later Ashley and another girl came over to their table and asked if they could join them.

After a minute of talking about the painting and the food, Ashley said to Nate, "If you play Little League, how come you're not in summer training? Cindy and I have summer training every Tuesday and Thursday."

Nate smiled at her and said, "The reason is the surgery I had a few months ago." He then proceeded to tell her about Perthes disease and the hip surgery he'd had.

"So, you two met at the hospital in Portland? I didn't know that. Michael, I knew something happened to you last year, but I didn't know it was cancer. I'm glad you got past it." She turned back to Nate, "but you can't play baseball this summer?"

"No, I've got to ease back in slowly and that meant a few months of physical therapy, and now general conditioning, and maybe I can play again in the fall."

"That's a bummer. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't play softball. Isn't it the same for you, Cindy?"

She nodded and Nate found himself thinking 'her identity is a softball player.'

Ashley went on, "Cindy and me and some of the kids working here and a few others from the school team, including some guys that play baseball, throw the ball around, just in fun, on Friday evenings. You should come join us some time. No biggy. Nothing competitive, just fun."

Cindy giggled.

Ashley did too, and then said, "Well, nothing competitive, except it's fun to see just how many of the guys that play baseball I can strike out with an underhand fast pitch. You'd be amazed, but I'm betting your eye-hand coordination is so good it would be no problem."

Michael had just been listening but found himself thinking 'and you're able to draw that conclusion from what? How he fills a garbage bag and handles a paint brush!' Then he realized he was being defensive and banished the thought. When he rejoined the conversation, he realized that Ashley was inviting them both to join them on Friday after work if they wanted. He felt stupid for being so petty.

They went back to work and had most of the interior wood walls of the main rodeo arena repainted in white by the time the day ended. On the drive home Michael said, "So, do you think she can strike you out?"

"What? Oh… I don't know. I've never played softball. You know, we always thought it was for girls and old folks. But have you ever seen fastpitch up close? Those pitchers can really make that ball fly, but it's bigger than a baseball, so it should be easier to track and hit."

They turned to other subjects and agreed they had to call Jerrod and Roger after dinner and get an update on Chloe's training and how their week had gone. It was a great call, and they were thrilled to hear that Chloe was making good progress, growing like a weed, and now was almost perfectly house-trained and learning commands. They filled in their friends on the camping trip and how cool it was to have two gay friends around whom they could be completely natural. At the end Jerrod said, "Want to say hello to David? He's right here but Jackson won't be home till later."

He handed the phone over and they gave David a quick update assuming he'd heard half of the conversation with Jerrod and Roger. Then on the spur of the moment, Nate said, "I was talking to Michael's mom last night and she talked about you a lot."

"Oh, really? All good I hope?"

"Oh yeah, it was mainly about identity and how I'm working through what my identity is now that I'm here with Michael."

"Well, that's normal, you know. I'm impressed that you're doing that work already. Most people your age just go with the flow, follow their feelings, and then have to circle back and deal with it later. You're not just the typical teenage baseball star, you know?"

"Get off it! But thanks for saying that. I've been trying to work on my stuff, and Michael's been real patient with me." He paused and blew Michael a kiss and then went on, "She was also talking to both of us about purpose and belonging. I never realized how important the belonging part is."

"Truth be known, she's helped me a lot with that, too. I mean I've spent years on identity and its implications, but the terminology from educational theory about flourishing and belonging are quite important, and they're easy to understand, don't you think?"

"Totally. I could immediately see how I struggled with it, and how Matt did too. You know, like how after I started getting Perthes pretty much the whole baseball team dropped away… which pretty well said I didn't belong… or didn't matter. But any way, the mindblower was Michael's mom telling us how her identity has changed and how that happened after Michael came out and how much you helped her. It was very cool."

"Well, that's good to hear."

"Yeah, and it means you don't just help kids like us. You're also helping adults, too. Just saying, you know!"

"Well, you've made my day, Nate. Now I'm even more looking forward to all of us coming up there for Labor Day. Are you going to be ready to come back to Portland?"

"Not much choice, there's school. But it'll be hard. It's such a great summer."

Eventually they rang off, said goodnight to Michael's parents, and headed down to their room. Monday was a workday, and another week would be underway.

On Friday at lunch, Ashley and Cindy sat with them again. The work crew had spent the morning putting up porta stalls to handle the additional animals expected to the next day's rodeo, and then putting down sawdust for bedding. By lunch they were all hot and sweaty. It didn't take Ashley long to ask if they were going to join them and their friends to play some ball after work.

"We meet at the city park about five o'clock, and only play around for an hour or so. Then most of us go to the Dairy Queen for something to eat. Sometimes we go swimming in the river."

Nate looked at Michael and raised his eyebrows. Michael smiled and said, "Your call. It sounds like fun. I can call mom and tell her we won't be home for dinner tonight."

They talked more in the afternoon as they dragged the arenas and then helped set up the equipment for the various rodeo events for the next day.

Michael called home and his mom thought it was a fun idea, and they told Ashley they were in, but they hadn't brought a change of clothes, so they'd be in Wranglers and boots.

She beamed. "No worries. It's not competitive. We just play for fun, and we'll give you a handicap for trying to run bases in cowboy boots! Next Friday bring some shorts and sneakers. We'll have fun, you'll see."

They all met at the city park after work, and Michael recognized everyone even though he only knew half of them. They introduced Nate and how he was spending the summer with Michael. Only a couple of guys raised an eyebrow, but Michael noticed and wondered what that meant.

Ashley kind of took charge when they chose teams and there were a few extra mitts so Michael and Nate were covered when they were fielding, though they were on opposing teams. Somehow Michael had ended up on Ashley's team and Nate was on the other. Michael figured she just wanted to prove she could strike him out. And she did! It turned out to be hard to get a good foot plant with cowboy boots on, to say nothing of running to beat a throw to first base.

Michael was struck out by the pitcher on the opposing team, but Ashley hit a drive that got her to third base and the next guy up hit one between first and second base and that got Ashley home for their first run. It was fun and no pressure other than basic competition that comes with team sports. They all headed for the Dairy Queen when it was over, and all sat outside talking about softball and life as the sun began to set.

On the drive home Michael asked how she struck him out?

Nate's forehead wrinkled and then he said, "I'm still trying to figure that out. I know she was out to prove she could, and that's okay. I'm usually a pretty good batter, almost always get a hit. I've never played softball before, have you?"

Michael shook his head.

"I'm thinking a lot of it is just practice, meaning getting used to the difference, and that a big part of it is the underhand pitching. They rotate and pitch really fast, I give them that, but the ball isn't going as fast as a baseball. But because it's pitched underhand, it's rising as it comes toward the plate. Most baseball pitches are thrown pretty much horizontal, even if they drop before they get to the plate. I think that's what I've got to focus on and get used to."

"I've got to say, I'm glad she struck you out."

"Really? Why's that? Are you on her side?"

"No, but I was worrying about your hip if you got a hit and started running the bases in those boots. You've been really careful so far, and you don't need an accident."

Nate thought a minute and then said, "You're right. I would have gone for it and not thought about the boots. Next week we bring shorts and sneakers, right?"

"Yep. Are you feeling like you're missing baseball?"

"Actually, no. It's fun to play something like this as an alternative. But I'd much rather be doing what we're doing this summer instead of playing ball in Portland."

"Doing what we're doing?" Michael wiggled his eyebrows.

"Well, that, too. Don't you feel that way?"

"I feel that way all the time!"

At dinner, Michael's dad announced that the last two fields had been baled and Saturday he was looking to the boys for help with stacking. They headed down to the barn when they got back from watering the cows, and Michael explained that this part of the haying operation was manual. After Michael's dad tipped the hay bales upright from the bale stacker, there was an upper loft that hay bales had to be manually tossed up to.

They watched the hay stack get positioned, and the tractor pull away. Then Michael said, "We're basically tossing the top half of the stack up to the loft, and then we'll do the bottom half with the bale conveyor. We agreed no accidents this summer, right? So, the deal is I'm down below. I'll toss the bales up to you and then put them on the conveyor to be carried up to you. Because we do a grass and alfalfa mix, the bales weigh about sixty pounds. That's too much for you to lift up from here. I'll get them up to you, and then you can drag them across the loft with the hay hook and only have to lift a max of three feet for the final stacking."

Nate smiled. "I'm not going to argue with you, 'cause I know I'll lose, and if I get too difficult you'll get your dad or grandpa involved and then it'll be worse. So, yes, boss… I'll do the light work up in the loft."

It was hot in the barn with the sun beating on the metal roof, and they worked shirtless, stopping every once in a while, for a water break. About noon Michael's dad tipped up a stack and they heard the tractor shut down.

"Come on boys, it's lunch time."

They ate and then the debate was a quick nap or straight back to work? The nap won, and then they were back at if for a couple more hours that it took to fill the loft.

As Michael stowed the bale conveyor, his dad called from the tractor, "You boys did a great job. Seems to me you should head up to the reservoir and cool off and relax!"

They nodded at him and walked up to the house to get out of their hay-covered clothes. Ruby came along and they all had a fun time swimming and hanging out on the bank with a few other neighbor kids and their dogs.

Monday was mainly a cleanup day at the rodeo, and Wednesday they hauled all the old siding from grandpa's loafing shed to the dump. Nate had asked why not just burn it?

"Because this is a ranch with animals, and we'd never get all the nails out, and after the burn the nails would be in the ground… and sooner or later a cow or a dog or one of us would step on the nail. Not a good thing to do. We'll make a dump run and dad will be happy, and then he'll owe us one. He owes us one for doing the haying, and after this he'll owe us twice, and I'm thinking we should go camping again next weekend. What'a ya think?"

"Sounds like a killer plan to me. Are we asking Stew and Todd?"

Michael grinned and said, "It sure worked out well last time. It was fun being with them, right?"

Nate nodded and grinned back, and they had a plan.

It was now early August, and the days were already starting to shorten though the daytime heat wasn't letting up. Friday was setting up for another small rodeo event. At lunch Ashley was teasing Nate about striking him out, just like she had on Monday. When they all met at the park after work, they chose teams and again Nate ended up on the team playing against Ashley's. The competitive feeling was still in the air, though it was good-natured.

As they walked to the ball field Ashley was next to Michael and Nate. "So, Nate? You think you can get a bat on one of my pitches tonight?"

"I've been working on figuring that out. Michael and I have been dissecting your style. I think I've got it worked out."

"Oh, good one!" She grinned at them. "I know you're good 'cause you've got great form. It's mainly adjusting to softball, don't you think?"

"That and adjusting to underarm pitching!" He grinned at her.

She didn't strike him out, but though he got a hit off of her, it was a slice and the shortstop caught it before he got halfway to first base and threw him out.

Ashley tipped her cap to him as he walked back to the bench, and Michael breathed a sigh of relief. He had visions of what could go wrong if Nate hit a boomer to the outfield and raced around first and second and then third trying to get to home plate.

Ashley's team won again, and they all headed down to the river and hung out on the bank while a few went in the water. Nate asked if they should bring swimsuits next Friday.

"Can do, if you want, but I'm betting shorts will pretty much dry off by the time we drive home, and anyway the Scout has vinyl seats so wet shorts won't hurt anything." They ended up going in for some splashing around and then all relaxed on the bank in the sun before the headed to the Dairy Queen.

Sunday afternoon they decided to head down to the Bike Pit and Pilot Rock for another four-wheel go. They were on their third lap with Nate driving when after a turn he said to Michael, "That felt weird, like all the brakes weren't there."

Michael felt the same thing when he got back behind the wheel, and when they talked to his dad about it over dinner, he said the logical thing was what Jerry said might be the next thing—needing new brakes. "Why don't you call him and see if you can drop it off at his shop tomorrow while you're at work. Maybe he can work it in and get it done tomorrow. If not, drop it off and I'll pick you up after work, and take you into town when it's done."

They were able to drop it off before work, but it wasn't ready till Tuesday afternoon, and true to his word, Michael's dad drove them into town. Jerry told them it was worn brake shoes and a small hydraulic fluid leak on a rear wheel. "The pads finally reached the end of their life. The lining was all but gone on the left front, and almost as bad on the right. You're all set now, though! Keep an eye on the coolant hoses, too. You've got four in there, the two that go from the engine to the radiator and the two that go to the heater in the cab. The radiator hoses are showing some cracks and you don't want to be springing a leak."

After they paid their bill, they drove to the western wear shop to buy a couple of Wrangler shirts and talk to Stew. The shirt decisions were easy, and Stew took his break, and they all went outside to sit in the shade and talk. Stew was pumped about another camping trip the coming weekend, certain that Todd would be up for it, too.

"You guys getting along as good as it sounds?"

Stew grinned. "It's been great. Like I said when we came back from last time camping, we just needed something to kick us in the ass and get over the worry of being a gay couple in cowboy country." He paused, then went on, "Speaking of which, you know the County rodeo is the last weekend of this month, and then the next weekend is the Round Up?"

"Well, yeah! We work at the rodeo grounds. You got us the jobs, remember?"

"I know! My point is that there will be a lot of out-of-town cowboys for the County rodeo, and the Round Up is a PRCA rated rodeo, so there'll be tons of cowboys from the national circuit in town." He paused again, for effect.

"Some of them are gay," he went on, like he was revealing a national secret.

"No way!"

"Yeah, it's true. Not a lot, but some. I know 'cause they come to the store and, you know, I have to help them with fitting and stuff and get to talk to them. Anyway, it's not a big deal, but just shows there's hope even for gay kids like us in cowboy country."

Michael nodded approval, then asked "Are you staying here after you graduate?"

"No. I'm going to college, and it'll be in Portland or Eugene. Some place more open-minded and liberal than here. I don't know long term, though. Dad assumes I'll take over the business. We'll have to see about that. I want out when I graduate, though."

He looked at Nate, "I envy you, man. You get to go back to Portland in a month."

Nate wasn't sure what to say. Finally, he replied, "Well, it's been a great summer for me, spending it with Michael and his family. Maybe 'cause we're out on the ranch I haven't seen anything, and we haven't had any trouble."

"That's probably it," Stew said. "If you're here in town around the locals you see and feel a lot more. Anyway, I envy you. But I know there's a bummer built in 'cause your boyfriend will still be here, right?"

"Yeah. That'll be hard." He reached for Michael's hand. "We've gotten pretty used to being together, haven't we?" Michael grinned and they all laughed.

Nate drove home and said the brakes felt much better. "Just a tap and you can feel them engage."

After a few minutes, as they turned south on the highway out of town, Michael said, "I'm going to hate it when you leave."

"Me, too. I meant what I said to Stew."

"I don't just mean the sex. I really mean being with you. Touching you and holding you. Sleeping with you and seeing you first thing in the morning."

"I'm with you. I've been thinking about it, too, since we talked to Jerrod and David. We've got to work out a system for when I go back. We'll make it work. We've just got to get through the school year."

"Then what?"

"Well, then there's next summer. I'm hoping I get invited back."

"You will, count on it. But then what? I graduate and you're a senior at your high school"

"I know. Are you still thinking OSU in Corvallis?"

"Yeah, 'cause I more and more want vet school. But I'm also thinking something else."

Nate raised his eyebrows.

"Maybe I could do my freshman year at PSU in Portland and then transfer down to OSU. That way we'd be in the same town. Would that be cool?"

"Way cool. That's where Matt and his girlfriend attend. They could help you get to know the campus." He paused and looked at Michael, "You'd really do that… for us?"

"Absolutely. Plus, we'd be there with Jerrod and Roger and Kaiser and Chloe. What a deal, huh?"

They pulled into grandpa's barn and parked the Scout and walked up to the house for dinner.

Friday was another usual day getting ready for a small event, but the work crew could already feel the tension building as planning for the two big rodeo events of the summer was starting to happen. More portable stalls were being delivered. The parking areas for horse trailers and mobile homes was being mowed. Things were under way.

The Friday ball game was casually competitive again, and Nate got a base hit off Ashley. Afterwards she said his main problem was lack of practice and spent a few minutes just pitching softballs at him. It was a mix of strikes and hits, and then halfway through something changed and he started connecting on almost all pitches. He was smiling, and so was Michael who sat watching, please to see that Nate had figured out what he needed to make it work.

The time at the river was fun and refreshing, with a lot of splashing and dunking. At one point Nate and Michael were standing hip deep talking to each other and suddenly Ashley and Cindy came up out of the water behind them, and with a whoop of "Got you!" they suddenly found themselves grabbed and dunked. Both came up sputtering, but it seemed to Michael that Ashley was holding onto Nate longer than necessary, but then he told himself he was being paranoid. They'd been making plans for their future just a few days before.

They picked up Stew and Todd mid-morning, aiming to arrive at the campground mid-day to secure a good spot, and lucked out again. They were close to the creek, and had their camp set up within an hour, and broke sandwiches out of the cooler for lunch.

The hike they took was a different trail, and they were back by mid-afternoon and headed to the creek to cool off and relax. They were still in the water when a family with two young teenagers came down and sat on the bank watching them and enjoying the view. The teens, a boy and a girl, came down to swim and Michael told them the water temperature was pleasant and to come on in. They splashed around and after a few minutes, Stew and Todd got out and sat on the bank watching and talking. A few minutes later the father yelled at his two children and told them to get out of the water. Michael and Nate looked up at the loud voice just in time to hear him say to his children who were emerging soaking wet, "We're leaving, now!" He nodded at Stew and Todd and added, "Those two are holding hands. We're not sitting around here with a bunch of faggots. God will punish them in his time, but we don't have to put up with it."

Somewhat stunned they watched the family march back up toward the campground, occasionally looking back as if they might be pursued. Michael took Nate's hand and pulled him up and they walked up to join Stew and Todd.

"What's up with those people? That was crazy."

Stew's face had a pained smile. "We're godless faggots, and they can't be around us. It might be contagious."

Todd looked equally uncomfortable. "That's the way my parents used to sound. They've mellowed out some, but I know deep down that's how they still feel."

"I'm sorry, man. We've got it so good," Michael said, "we take it for granted."

"Now you know why I want out of here when I graduate," Stew added.

Just then a Forest Ranger walked down the bank and stopped in front of the boys. "I saw all of that, and I'm sorry it happened to you. It's a free country, and everyone can come here to camp, and unfortunately free speech means they can say anything short of hate speech. Still, it's pretty pathetic and shouldn't happen."

Stew smiled wanly and said, "We live in Pendleton, so we're used to it."

"You shouldn't have to be used to it," the Ranger replied. "That's my point. Sadly, though, we've got a long way to go in terms of people getting over their own bias and bigotry. I hope that family doesn't give you any more grief. I'm on duty till 10:00 PM and I'll make two more passes through the campground just to make sure nothing gets out of hand. In the meantime, know that you're welcome here. It's people like them that have the problem, not people like you."

As the Ranger walked away, Michael said, "He's really cool. That was nice. He didn't need to do that or say anything, but he did."

"Very cool," Stew agreed.

Nate and Todd had been quiet, but then Nate said, "Does shit like that happen often?"

"I wouldn't say often," Stew replied. "Every once in a while, in random places like the gas station or lumber yard or whatever. Like Michael said a while ago, you guys live on the ranch, so you don't have to deal with much of it."

He looked over at Todd, who's hand he was still holding. "Are you okay?"

Todd looked up at him and said, "Yeah, I'm okay. That's why I want out of here, too. Why the fuck should we have to put up with that kind of crap just because of who we are? Because of who we like and want to be with?"

"We shouldn't, is the answer. Like the Ranger said, it shouldn't happen, but this country has a long way to go. In the meantime, we live our lives and have to be careful."

He looked around, squeezed Todd's hand and said, "Are we done here? Let's go back to the campground and start a fire. A nice fire will help us feel better and we'll have good hot embers to cook dinner."

He looked over at Michael. "What's on the menu tonight, Mister Chef?"

Michael grinned. "Mom wanted us to have a great time again, so we've got marinated steaks, potatoes in tin foil to bake in the fire, and a salad she made. All we have to do is add the dressing. And, most important, there's sour cream and chives to go with the baked potatoes. Pretty righteous, right?"

"Damn straight! Let's go start that fire."

They dried off and got dressed, started a fire and sat around enjoying the radiating heat and the orange light. After they'd eaten and cleaned up, Nate said, "Are you going to get your guitar out and play some songs for us?"

"Sure, but I don't have much of a repertoire. I've been singing in choir for years at school, but I haven't been playing the guitar that long. Most of it'll be what you heard two weeks ago."

"That's cool, it was great."

While Stew was playing The Cranberries Linger , they all saw a couple of shadowy forms approach their campfire, and the two young teens from the creek appeared. All eyes were on them, and Stew kept playing and singing, even as the boy said, "Can we listen?"

Michael nodded and they sat down in the ring around the fire and listened to a couple of songs. Then Stew stopped and said, "That's about all I know. Sorry."

"It's okay. You sound great. Thanks for letting us listen. We want to apologize for what our dad said this afternoon. That was gross. We heard you from over where we're camping and told our parents we wanted to take a walk. I figured the singing was from over here, from you guys."

Stew smiled at them and said, "You're welcome. I'm glad you liked the music. And especially thank you for coming over and saying what you did. You two are a lot hipper than your parents, and we appreciate that."

"We're from Ontario, outside of Boise, and it's pretty whacko conservative there. But we've got a GSA in our school and a couple of my friends are gay. I get it. Our folks are just so locked up in their religion that they're clueless."

He paused and looked at both couples and smiled, then said, "We've got to get back or we'll be in a heap of trouble, but I just wanted to tell you guys that. By the way, if my friends from school were here, they'd say you were both really cute couples. Thanks for letting us listen."

With that they were gone.

"Wow! That was radical, don't you think?

Stew looked at Nate and said, "It is pretty radical. Most kids their age aren't independent of their parents like that. Todd, wasn't that cool?"

Todd smiled softly. "Yeah, it was. It made up for what their parents said, and kind of restores my faith in human nature, you know."

They settled back down around the fire and Stew looked at them and said, "So, you heard what that kid said, right? That we're two cute couples?"

Michael and Nate looked at each other and grinned, then they looked at Stew and Todd.

Michael said, "Well?"

"Well, what?"

"Do you agree. We're both cute couples."

Stew looked at Todd. "Do you agree, that we're a cute couple, and that there's two cute couples sitting around this fire?"

Todd acted embarrassed but nodded. "Yeah. I haven't been told I was cute for a long time. It's kind of nice to hear he thinks we're cute."

Stew smiled widely. "Okay, now that you're all willing to fess up to that, and agree that we're all part of a cute couple, that means you have to be cute as well… don't you think? Since you agree you're a cute couple, and therefore for each of us that means the guy we're with is 'that boy,' do you want to hear the latest song I've been working on?"

"God, Stew! After that set up how could we say anything but yes. What is this, an original composition?" Michael chuckled as he asked the question.

"No, actually it's not original. But it's an acoustic arrangement of an early Tom Petty hit from 1979."

"What? Another old rock love song?"

"Anything wrong with old rock love songs?"

"No, no. Just saying, is all."

"Okay! So, it's a great song, I just modified the lyrics a little, so it fits for us. You know, for us gay boys. You'll recognize the song, and in case you've forgotten it talks about feeling hopeless in the town you live in, wondering why you're doing all the work you're doing, but that even when you're down you just have to think about one thing to fix it all. Are you ready?"

He strummed his guitar and then started his rendition of the old Tom Petty song:

You know sometimes, I don't know why
But this old town just seems so hopeless
I ain't really sure, but it seems I remember the good times
Were just a little bit more in focus

But when he puts his arms around me
I can somehow rise above it
Yeah, man when I got that cute boy standin' right by my side
You know, I can tell the whole wide world to shove it, hey

Here comes my boy
Here comes my boy
Yeah, and he looks so right
He is all I need tonight

Every now and then I get down to the end of the day
I have to stop and ask myself why I've done it
It just seems so useless to have to work so hard
And nothin' ever really seems to come from it

But then he looks me in the eye and says
"We're gonna last forever"
And man, you know I can't begin to doubt it
No, 'cause it just feels so good, so free and so right

I know we ain't never goin' to change our minds about it, hey

Here comes my boy
Here comes my boy
Yeah, and he looks so right
He is all I need tonight

Every time it seems like there ain't nothin' left no more
I find myself having to reach out and grab hold of something
Yeah, I just catch myself wondering, waiting, worrying
About some silly little things that don't add up to nothin'

And then he looks me in the eye, says

"We're gonna last forever"
And man, you know I can't begin to doubt it
No, 'cause it just feels so good, so free and so right
I know we ain't never goin' to change our minds about it, hey

Here comes my boy
Here comes my boy
Yeah, and he looks so right
He is all I need tonight

Watch the YouTube video of an acoustic cover of Tom Petty's Here Comes My Girl by Jeff Parsons


When Stew was finished and the last sounds faded into the darkness and they were left with silence and the ambiance of the fire, the three other boys quietly hooted and hollered, clapping their approval.

Stew unstrapped his guitar and stepped over next to Todd who pulled him in for a huge hug. "That was so cool. What a great vibe. Do you really feel that way?"

"Of course. I told you I was working on a song for you, didn't I?"

Todd grinned and gave him a quick kiss, then looked across at Michael and Nate. "And you guys?"

"It was wonderful," Michael said, "and for the record, I feel that way pretty much every time I look at my boy."

Nate was smiling broadly as Michael gave him a big hug, and Nate said, "You captured it, Stew. The song is a great expression of how we feel and the situation you're in and the joy you feel when you see your boy. It was really neat."

Stew took a breath, waiting a minute before replying and then said, "Thanks, glad you like it. I want to know, though, if that's the way you feel, too?"

"You mean when I see Michael? Yeah! I've been telling him he makes my heart swell up in my chest."

Stew grinned and Todd added, "I'm told that's not the only thing he makes swell up."

"Who told you that?" Then Nate looked at Michael and said, "You agreed you weren't going to talk about how big my cock is."

Michael choked momentarily, then started giggling, and said, "Well, now that it's out in the open, maybe I should tell them about how it feels when your cock reaches the back of my throat?"

Nate blushed and then said, "Okay, I went too far. Sorry about that." He hugged Michael and then looked at Stew and Todd, "The sex is great, and we're very… what do you call it? Compatible, I guess. I didn't mean to gross you out. But, that said, if you both feel like the vibe in the song when you see each other, I'm hoping you both swell up and have a good time, too."

"We do, and trust me, we will when we get in that tent."

They all laughed, and it wasn't long before they all did head for their tents.

When they settled into their sleeping bag, Nate pulled Michael close and said, "I'm sorry for that stupid remark about my cock. That was dumb."

Michael giggled. "Hey, no worries, it was funny. Now they'll be wondering whether or not you have the biggest cock in town, and you know what? That was the first time you talked about sex with a boy out loud… meaning with some other people around, and it was exciting to hear."

"You don't have sex with a boy on your mind right now, do you?"

"As a matter of fact, I do have sex with my boy on my mind right now." He pulled Nate over for a passionate kiss, and they reveled in the sensuous dance of their tongues. Soon they'd stroked and stimulated each other's bodies, and Michael leaned in and kissed one of Nate's ears and softly said, "Can I ask you something?"

He felt Nate nod and went on. "We've been reading about anal and bottoming and I'm pretty clear that you're not there yet, but I really want you inside me…"

"You do?"

"Yeah. You're my boy. I love you. I want to feel you inside me, feel you be part of me."

"I'm so horny right now that you can probably talk me into anything. You're sure, though?"

Michael was softly and slowly stroking his cock, but he continued, "It's a big step. They even say so in the book."

"Yeah, so what? I know how I feel and what I want, and I'm not pressuring you. You may never want it, but I do. I've been practicing like they say in the book. You know, two fingers and then three. You'll probably have to do that and be patient, but I've been dreaming about what it's going to feel like to have you inside me."

"What do we do?"

"I'm clean and I've got the lube. They said the easiest way the first time is me on my knees. It makes it easier to go in."

Nate sucked on his finger. "You mean going in here," Nate asked as he rubbed his finger on Michael's pucker. "And then my cock is supposed to go in here, like this?" His voice was coy as he asked the question. "And I'm guessing you want my cock to rub on this?" His finger was now on Michael's prostate.

"Oh god. Yeah, all of that. All of that and, and… you, inside me. God, you make me feel so good."

Nate pushed his tongue deep into Michael's ear and then said, "Put some lube on my fingers so I can get started."

Shortly he had Michael relaxed and opened up, and he received one last deep kiss before Michael moved up onto his knees, ready for his boyfriend. Nate knelt down behind him, and Michael reached back taking hold of Nate's cock and guided it against his pucker and then leaned back. There was a momentary flash of pain as Nate began to enter him, but then he relaxed, and the head of Nate's cock was in him, and the pain was gone.

Nate groaned in pleasure, and then softly pushed forward. He said, "Go slow," and then heard Nate say, "Oh, jeez. Oh, wow!" But he was overwhelmed with the feeling of his prostate being rubbed, accompanied by a sense of fullness. The thought flashed through his brain, "He's inside me," but then that was lost in the sensation of the cock of the boy he loved sliding deeper into him. Then Nate was all the way inside him. He was simply overwhelmed by the feelings.

He wished they were facing each other so he could reach forward and stroked Nate's chest and reach for his face. He imagined Nate's expression based on the groans of pleasure, feeling them himself. He dropped his shoulders to change the angle of the thrusts, and then Nate began to take long strokes. Michael could feel the heat build within him as his prostate was intensely massaged.

Nate was lost in the sensations, beginning to feel overwhelmed and starting to pant with the exertion Michael heard the intensity change, loved the feeling of Nate's long thrusts, and felt his own climax near. He'd read about cumming without touching your cock, but it would be a new experience. Then he felt the warmth of Nate's seed pumping inside him, and he was overtaken with his own sensations. Amazingly, he realized he was cuming, shooting onto his sleeping bag. He gasped as he came, and he could feel his ass tighten reflexively around Nate's cock. Then as he felt Nate begin to soften, he felt him lean on his back and wrap his arms around his chest. He'd never been happier.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[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