by David Lee

Chapter 12

It was toward the end of the first week of school that Bryan and Zeke had their first encounter with Rusty. Mr. Swanson, the new tech director, had asked the boys to get a ladder and replace a couple of light bulbs that were out of the reach of anyone but a seven-footer. They were going after the ladder when Rusty called for them to stop.

"Come over here, you two," he thundered.

Other students sort of froze in place to see what would happen next.

"We can do this without a fuckin' ladder if we work together."

"Rusty, watch the language," Mr. Swanson interjected.

"Okay, sorry."

A moment later, Zeke was perched on top of Rusty's massive shoulders replacing bulbs as Bryan handed him new ones. The task was accomplished in a fraction of the time it would have normally taken. Mr. Swanson was pleased and Rusty was smiling.

When he put Zeke gently down again, Zeke slapped Rusty's upturned palm and said:

"Hey, thanks for the lift, Shrek!"

Again, other students nearly stopped breathing expecting an eruption.

"No problem, little buddy. Hey, I've never had a nickname. I think I like it! You can all call me Shrek from now on."

There was a collective sigh of relief throughout the room.

Gym class was the last period of the day. It alternated with a study hall, so today was the first day to dress for it and actually do some physical activity. Archery would be the featured sport for about the first third of the semester while the weather was warm enough to be outside.

Zeke was good at most things, but archery was not proving to be one of them. Bryan was wiping his butt. Zeke was not discouraged, however. He would do his best and maybe he would get as good as his bud after awhile. Coach Thorpe told him not to feel bad. He said that Bryan was evidently a natural.

In the shower, some of the kids noticed the lack of tan lines on the boys and began to rib them about it.

"You're just jealous that we got to go skinny dipping," said Bryan good-naturedly.

Then someone started making fun of Zeke because of his sizeable equipment. The fact that he was a small kid made his above average dick look even more impressive. One junior boy, Bobby, called him Donkey.

"You must be a donkey since you have a donkey's dick. You're a freak of nature, freshman. Zeke the freak!

"What's the matter, you got penis envy, stubby?" was Zeke's bantering reply.

In an instant, Bobby balled up his fist and lunged at Zeke who deftly sidestepped the bigger boy at the last moment. Just then, Rusty came in to take his shower. He picked up Bobby by putting one hand under his throat and the other between his legs and lifted him against the wall as easily as he would have a small child.

"You got a problem with my little buddy?" he growled.

"N-n-n-no," Bobby whined.

"Good! Don't you EVER fuck with my guys!"

After setting him down again, Rusty calmly began to take his shower making sure he thoroughly soaped the hand that had come in contact with Bobby's ass while a very shaken Bobby hurried into the locker room to get dressed.

"Thanks, Shrek!"

"No problem. Anybody hassles you guys; they answer to me. But you know, "Donkey" might be a good nickname for you. You've sure got plenty, and Donkey is one of Shrek's buddies."

On a pleasant Saturday afternoon in mid September, a small group of people gathered in the cemetery for a short service. Grace Ann and Craig were there, of course. Zeke had invited a few more people and all but Todd showed up (he was back at college). This included Bryan and his parents. Zeke was pleased and surprised that they had come.

Pastor Liz read some brief scriptures about the promised resurrection of the dead and said a few words of comfort. Then, Zeke carefully placed the urn with his father's ashes into the hole that the cemetery maintenance man had dug. Each person sprinkled a handful of dirt over the urn. Pastor Liz then said a prayer and invited everyone to join her in the Lord's Prayer. Zach Adams now rested with his wife in a grave marked by a nice stone with both of their names as well as their dates of births and deaths. A solemn Zeke walked quietly back to Craig's car knowing that he had done his best to honor his father and his mother.

Once school was in full swing, things moved rapidly. Before anyone could believe it, it was almost time for homecoming festivities.

Bryan and Zeke were sitting at lunch with Ben, Adam, and some other kids discussing the parade that would be held before the big game and the dance that would follow.

"You guys got dates for the dance?" Ben asked.

"No, do you?" Zeke responded before he thought.

Then he blushed.

Ben said, "Yeah, I'm going to take Adam or maybe he's going to take me. Hmm…, guess we'll take each other."

A couple of the kids looked around wondering what was going on.

"We're tired of people saying things behind our backs," Adam piped up. "We're boyfriends and we don't care who knows it!"

One kid picked up his tray and moved to another table. The rest stayed put. A girl, who had overheard the exchange, complimented them on their bravery.

About that time, Bobby (who some guys now called 'stubby' behind his back) tripped a nerdy looking little freshman boy, sending his food and his glasses sliding across the room. Laughter broke out at some of the nearby tables.

Before the lunchroom supervisor, Mrs. Walton could get there, Ben and Adam were helping the boy up and Zeke and Bryan were picking up his glasses and dishes as best they could.

"I'll get you a new tray," Ben offered. "You can sit and eat with us if you want to."

Sam shyly nodded his head.

"Ben, tell Mrs. Nabor what happened and tell her not to charge for his food," the supervisor said. "Now, I want to get to the bottom of this. Who did it?"

Sam just hung his head. He had learned from past experience that you didn't rat on someone or things just got worse.

Mrs. Walton looked at Bobby who was sitting at a neighboring table smirking. She got up in his face and said, "There will be no bullying in this school, Mr. Robert Latham. From the look on your face, I can see that you're behind this. If I catch you so much as breathing wrong, I'll have you in detention!"

Bobby lost most of the smirk as she lectured him. He knew that she would be watching him every single day for the rest of the term. This lady had the reputation of taking no prisoners.

Rusty came over and told Mrs. Walton that he was sure Bobby wouldn't do that again. He was talking to her, but his eyes were burning into Bobby's.

Bobby lowered his gaze.

Shy little Sam Miller ate his lunch in near silence. He answered questions with just a word or two and that didn't make for a flow of conversation. After awhile, the other boys gave up and went back to discussing homecoming.

When it was time to leave, the boys told Sam that he was welcome to eat with them every day if he wanted to. That brought the first smile he had shown at high school thus far.

The morning after the rescue of Sam, Bryan and Zeke became aware that Sam was in math, language arts, and boys' chorus with both of them as well as being in science with Zeke. Sam was so quiet that they had never noticed him before. They made it a point to walk with him between those classes to make sure that no one picked on him. Sam was delighted at having someone notice him. He felt safer and more at ease with his escort; and as a result began to open up.

As Zeke and Bryan were working in the theater class that afternoon, they discussed Sam. They agreed that he seemed very bright, and he was witty. With his off-beat sense of humor he could turn any word into a pun. The boys thought he would be a well-liked kid if he could change his image. He needed to ditch the out-of-style glasses and get a better haircut. Also, he needed to be more laidback.

"Maybe he would be if he got laid," Zeke snickered.

Bryan grinned in return.

Study hall was pretty quiet and most of the students got their homework caught up so they would have the evening free. But as always in the last period of the day, the hands on the clock seemed to slow down before the dismissal bell finally sounded.

Having biked to Bryan's house, the two boys thought that they had better enjoy the pool while they could. Brad would be prepping it for winter soon. There would be few warm days left. As always, when no one was around, they decided to go bare-ass. It felt great to be free after a long week of school.

After showering, the two kids put on their briefs and snuggled in Bryan's bed. They even took a short nap before they got dressed and Zeke rode his bike home.

When the letter came from the court with the official name change, it was anticlimactic. Zeke had been "Zeke Adams" for several months already as far as his friends and the school system were concerned. He looked at the document which read: Zeke Zrudsky Adams. He liked the sound of it. Since he had never been given a middle name, he had decided to keep the Zrudsky part to feel more connected with Grace Ann. He was pretty sure that she appreciated it.

At dinner that night, he proudly showed off the certificate. Gran was pleased to see him so happy. Ever since the memorial service, Zeke had seemed more relaxed and had gone back to his old happy-go-lucky nature. When he was like that, he was a delight.

Tonight, he was in rare form.

"You know, Gran, you'd better start thinking about yourself for a change. You need to get you a man and settle down. I'll bet if you let Craig know you're interested, he 'd jump at the chance to be your boyfriend. After all, you have gone out some."

"And who made you 'Dear Abby' and what makes you think I'm interested?"

"Oh, I see the way you look at him when you don't think anyone else notices. And you go out of your way to fix him his favorite things to eat."

"Well, Hon, I hate to burst your bubble, but what would a sophisticated military man like him see in a plain old maid like me."

"Wife material!" Zeke responded with a grin. "Let's go take him on a date. I can suggest we go out to celebrate my official name change. We can go to the Dairy Queen and I can drive. You'll have to sit in back."

Grace Ann laughed.

"Now that is what I call a romantic date, Cupid."

Despite her joking, Gran was not unhappy to be going out again with the man who lived in her basement. Even if it wasn't a real date, being with Craig was nice. It felt comfortable. He was good company and a perfect gentleman. He wore nice cologne. He always knew how to make people feel good. She wondered why no one had snapped him up. She was about to find out.

When the trio returned from the ice cream run, Zeke excused himself feigning fatigue and went to his room. He was playing match-maker and giving them time without him.

"Grace, have you ever considered getting married?" Craig asked once they were alone.

"Sure, it's crossed my mind. But most of the guys I dated didn't want to be saddled with a kid who wasn't theirs. Not that I ever felt burdened with Zeke! He became my life. If some guy didn't want to get to know him enough to love him too, I didn't want anything to do with him."

"How about you, Craig, has marriage ever been in your plans?"

"Well, I was married once for a short time. We ran off and eloped. It was all very romantic until I was shipped overseas for a six-month stint. 'Till death do us part' didn't last very long when I was gone. She started going out and found someone else. From what I heard later, she found several 'someone's'. The divorce was quick and uncontested."

"Oh, I am sorry. I didn't mean to open an old wound."

"You didn't. I have gotten over it. It was many years ago. I decided I couldn't expect to find anyone while I was in the service. Now that I'm out, I'm too old to be attractive to anyone. I'm not sure I even know how to date anymore."

"Nonsense! You're a handsome guy. A woman would be a fool not to find you attractive."

"Do you?"

"Do I what?"

"Do you find me attractive enough to date exclusively?"

"Of course!"

Grace blushed at the forcefulness of her last statement.

"Good! Then, I'd like to ask you out to tomorrow night – just the two of us – no Zeke, no Bryan, nobody else. We'll go to the Bistro and have a leisurely meal followed by a night at the symphony."

"Oh Craig, that sounds wonderful. I'll have to see what I can find to wear."

After Craig went downstairs to his apartment, Grace practically skipped down the hall to her room. On the way, she passed Zeke's room and noticed a light under his door. She rapped and he quickly said, "Enter."

As she was telling him about the upcoming date, Zeke began to beam with a knowing smile.

"Zeke, you little rat, you knew about this already, didn't you?"

"Well, maybe I had a man to man conversation with my uncle. Maybe I told him you like classical music. Perhaps, I told him to get off his dead butt and get serious before someone snapped you up."

"Zeke Zrudsky Adams, I'm going to get even with you for this!"

"Promise?" Zeke giggled. "If you buy me a car when I turn 16, I'll call us even."

Dinner was elegant and overpriced. The portions were small, but the presentation was beautiful, and the diners were waited on hand and foot. The waiters were so cute and charming that Grace couldn't help but wonder if they were gay. Then she realized she was just speculating and not being judgmental. She had changed drastically in her thinking in the past several months.

Craig was a good conversationalist making her feel completely comfortable despite the fact that she was in a crowd that was not her usual circle.

Brad and Mary had chosen to dine at the Bistro before symphony also. They stopped by the table to greet Craig and Grace on their way out. Grace felt like she was in a totally new world. Move over Cinderella!

The symphony was even better than she had expected. She enjoyed every moment. She didn't know how much Craig was enjoying it too, until he told her over a drink after the performance.

Grace Ann was never a drinker because of her church and her father's example, but she consented to try a Bailey's over ice. She had to concede that it was pleasant.

Craig said that he wanted to do this again in the near future. If she thought it was okay, he would like to date on a regular basis. Grace thought it would be okay indeed!

Zeke was still awake when Craig brought Grace Ann to her front door. He peeked out the bedroom window to check on them. He saw Craig give her a brief kiss before he said goodnight and went around to his back entrance. Zeke smiled in the dark as he heard his aunt singing as she went to her room.

Back in his basement apartment Craig smiled as he stripped to lie naked on the bed. That kiss, though brief and chaste, had stirred up feelings he had almost forgotten he had. He got up to find the bottle of hand lotion in the bathroom and applied it to his swollen manhood. It didn't take long for him to produce a gusher.

After church the next day, Zeke and Grace were invited to lunch with Bryan's family, but Grace Ann declined. She had a pervious engagement. Craig was taking her to brunch at the elegant new restaurant in the hotel downtown. Zeke loved it!

He and Bryan spent the afternoon playing video games and just hanging out. The subject of homecoming came up again. They discussed it and agreed to go to the dance stag. There would be plenty of girls there to dance with and they wouldn't have to scrounge up dates the last minute. They were both apprehensive about asking a girl out because they were not sure what would be expected of them. They didn't want to be paired with anyone. There were girls that they knew who would date them, but they had cold feet about getting involved. Life as a teen was hard. There should be a guidebook and a compass to help them through the pains of growing up!

Indeed, it would be nice if there were a compass and map for navigatingthe teenage years. Unfortunately, life doesn't come with a user's manual.

Zeke's "compass" began to point rather strongly and Bryan had plans to take care of it. The boys locked the bedroom door and stripped. They slowly, but steadily stroked each other to a satisfying climax. Then, they held each other for a long time. The gentle closeness in the afterglow was awesome. In moments like that, they knew no one would ever be able to shatter their bond.

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