So Cal Summer 69

by Flip McHooter

Chapter 19

It was super early Saturday morning, just before the first light shined over the mountain tops. The crickets had stopped chirping, but the birds hadn't started their morning song. I had woken up to the scary moans and cries of Jake having a bad nightmare. During the night, I had let go of Jake and rolled over on my back, my arms crossed over my chest like a statue. Jake, however, had stayed in a fetal position and when I opened my eyes, I could barely make out the form of his snug body in the dim light, pushed deep into the soft, flannel sleeping bag. Sometime during the night either Jake or I had kicked off the top sleeping bag, and it was lying bunched up on the floor. He had balled himself up so tight that I could roll him across the floor like a bowling ball if I had wanted to.

I leaned up against the treehouse wall to listen to see if I could make out anything he was saying. There wasn't much to hear, save for a couple of 'no's' and one 'get away' which bothered me a little bit. I was trying to remember what you're supposed to do when someone has a bad dream. Do you wake them up, or let them sleep it off? Maybe I was confusing this with sleepwalking, which my little brother still did sometimes.

At any rate, he was starting to cry now. He'd moved around and was stretched out, and was flailing his arms and legs all jerky-like. He must have woken up Sloan because I heard her whimpering over in her corner of the treehouse. I couldn't stand to see him like this anymore, so I rolled over and wrapped my arms tight around his flopping arms and scissored my legs around his jerking legs, then pulled him in real tight. He was putting up a pretty good fight until I started calling out his name, quietly at first, then louder because he wouldn't respond to me. Finally, he woke up with a jolting start, relaxed his body for a second and, completely surprising me, burst into tears and started sobbing like a little baby.

"Jake, Jake, mellow out, bud. I'm right here. I've got you, man. It's all gonna be okay."

"No Ryan, It's n-not. I'm so s-scared," he said, starting off a whole new round of sobs.

"C'mon, Jake. You're starting to freak me out, buddy. It was only a nightmare, just a scary nightmare! I'm right here, and nothing's gonna hurt you, ever. I won't let anything happen to you, I promise."

The sobbing started to taper off, but then the hiccups started. Sloan got up, stretched, and gave herself one of those good long shakes that only dogs can do that start at her head and ended at her fluffy tail. After she was through, she wandered across the treehouse floor and over to us. Standing at the foot of our sleeping bag, she watched us for a second, then stuck out her tongue and started to lick the bottom of Jake's bare feet hanging off the end of the sleeping bag. He didn't notice at first, but when she started licking between his toes, he cried out in surprise.

"Your goofy dog is, hic, licking my toes, and, hic, it tickles," he said, trying to smile.

"Sloan, go lie down, girl," I said in a quiet voice. "She just wants you to feel better. Jake, are you okay now?"

"I think so."

"Do you want to tell me what the dream was about?"

"Yeah, hic. It was so weird. I remember it was really dark, and I was somewhere outside all by myself. I don't know where I, hic, was, but I knew someone was chasing me. Then I re, hic, member that I fell down in the dirt and then someone grabbed me from behind, by my hair. They wrapped their arms, hic, around me tight, and then everything went black. The next thing I remember was being in a dark room, and, hic, I was real dizzy, like the floor kept moving or my head, hic, was spinning all around. I was chained to a chair real tight, and I had a gag in my mouth. I couldn't move very much. I could hardly see because I was so dizzy. Then, hic, I heard somebody say something, and then they were yelling at me and then they said they were going to hit me. They slapped me so hard across the face that I fell over on the smelly floor taking the chair down with me."

He paused for a few seconds when the hiccups finally stopped, and then I heard him starting to sniff, so I guessed he was crying again. It was still dark outside, and I couldn't make out his face. "Go on Jake. Tell me the rest so you can get it all out. Let it go so you'll feel better," I said softly, rubbing his bare chest with my hand but still holding him tight.

"Okay, but just keep holding on to me, please Ry?"

"Yeah, buddy, I'm never ever gonna let you go. Ever. That's a promise," I said, into his ear.

After a while he said, "I guess I must have passed out when I fell over with the chair and hit my head. The next thing I remember was that I had smashed my head real bad on the floor because blood was trickling down my face and I could taste it in my mouth. My face stung, too, where he hit me. I still couldn't see who it was from down there on the floor, but I could sense that they were still standing over me, watching. They unchained me from the chair but retied my hands behind me to a pole, so I couldn't really move. One thing that I do remember very vividly was the smell. Either the guy reeked, or the room I was locked in stunk like hell. It smelled like fish! I was really scared because I didn't know what they were gonna do to me. I don't think I had any clothes on and I felt so dirty."

"Was there more than just one guy?"

"I think so, but I only saw one guy, and I couldn't really see his face. I guess I just sensed that someone else was watching what was going on from behind. Anyway, like I said, I was chained to a pole so I couldn't really move around all that much. Then the guy started to circle around me and started yelling at me again, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. It was like he was talking in Russian or something. He had a big bowie knife and kept pointing it at my face and holding it up under my chin. That's when I got terrified and started to yell 'no' and I tried to get away."

"What happened next?"

"I don't think anything. I just remember being incredibly scared. That's when you woke me up." After a couple of deep breaths, he asked me, "Ryan, what do you think it means?"

"I'm not sure. I've heard that dreams don't always mean what you think they mean. Sometimes what you think is something completely different, or completely the opposite. Do you remember having dreams like this before?"

"When I was a little kid I used to have them sometimes. Nightmares. Especially when my parents would fight or when my dad was yelling and being mean to us."

"You don't think me buttfucking you last night had anything to do with this, do you?"

"Oh no! I loved that. My butt is still all tingly," he said, looking up at me and finally giving me a real smile.

"That's good. Geez. I wish I knew somebody who analyzed dreams and could tell us what this actually means," I said.

"In our old apartment building there was a scraggly old lady who did psycho things like that, reading cards and fortune telling and other weird stuff. She looked kinda scary, but she was always nice to us," Jake said.

"You mean like a psychic?"

"Yeah, that's it. She used to do that from the bedroom of her apartment. A lot of crazy people would always be coming and going from there. She must have been good at it because there were always a lot of people visiting her. I bet she would know what this means."

"It probably doesn't mean anything. I get weird dreams too, sometimes, but not nightmares like you just had. The dreams I get are really colorful, like in full-on Technicolor, and really, really vivid. I remember one where I was in Morocco or someplace like that, trying to get out of the Bazaar, in the little stores, and then all of the alleys turned into a bunch of octopus arms with faces on them that started wrapping around themselves. Crazy, huh?"

"I'll say. That sounds more like a bad acid trip."

"No shit. So, are you okay now?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. Thanks for being there for me. I'm glad you're here, Ry."

"Me too," I said, yawning. We snuggled there for a while, not really saying anything, staring up at the treehouse ceiling listening to the early morning sounds. I still had my arms wrapped tightly around Jake until he started breathing normally again.

After a while, I asked him, "What do you want to do this morning? The sun's not up yet, but it will be any minute. Want to go for another naked nature walk?"

"Yeah, but if we're gonna suck on each other, you need to wash your dick off. It's got my butt all over it."

"It's cool. I washed my hands and dick last night in the sink, but I can do it again. I didn't want to go to bed with cum and goo and butt juice on me. C'mon, let's get up. I've got to take a wicked piss."

After cleaning off in the sink again, the three of us got down out of the treehouse and walked over to the ravine to relieve ourselves.

"I can't pee. My dick is too hard," Jake complained.

"Really? You can't piss with a hard-on?"

"No, Mr. Smarty Pants, I can't. Can you?"

"Sure. Watch and learn," I said.

I could piss when it was kind of hard, but not with a full-on raging boner, and I had to concentrate for a second to get the flow going. Once I relaxed and got things moving, I put my hands on my hips and leaned back, my almost hard cock sticking straight out and pissing like a Grecian fountain. Jake just stood there in amazement, watching me.

"Wow, that's so fucking bitchin. Wish I could do that," he said, leaning next to me. Then he grabbed my fat dick and started flinging it around like a fire hose that got dropped on the ground and had a mind of its own. We both started laughing at the sight of my pissing hard-on spraying all over the place. Once we were done and had shaken the dew off, we headed up the trail, Sloan hot on our heels.

It was a nice morning and luckily not all that chilly. We had grabbed our Keds, but nothing else, and marched up the canyon for ten or fifteen minutes or so. Once we got to my favorite rock in the sandy clearing, we jumped up on the flat spot and stood to look out over the quiet valley below.

"It's so bitchin that we can hang out naked all of the time, Ryan. You know, we're fortunate to be able to do this."

"I know, it really is cool," I said.

"Hey. Tell me again what's up the rest of the trail."

"My dad took me all the way up there once when I was little, and I've gone up there a few times by myself since then. It just winds up the side of the mountain. It gets pretty steep, and you have to watch where you're going, so you don't slip and fall off the side and tumble down into the ravine. Well actually, up there it's more of a big canyon than a ravine. At the top, there's an old cement pumphouse that dates back to the 1890's when this area was all farms and orchards," I said.

"Maybe we can hike up there sometime and check it out. I bet it's cool." After we had finished looking around we settled down, and Jake asked, "So what do you want to do, my fat bonered friend?"

"I don't know, my skinny long-dicked friend. How does a nice sloppy blowjob sound?"

"That sounds great. I love being naked outside like this. It makes me feel sexier somehow, with the wind blowing through the hair on my balls and flowing over my bare ass," he said.

"I know what you mean. Even before I could shoot my wad when I was Jordy's age, I'd come up here and get naked and run around and play with my dick. I guess there's something about nature and the breeze blowing over your balls that make this feel extra good, like when you get goose-bumps all over your arms. It makes my ball sack tighten up and feel funny. Hang your legs over the side of the rock and lean back. Close your eyes and enjoy the ride," I said, jumping down on the dirt.

"Okay. Hey, wait a second," he said, leaning over and sticking his butt out at me. "I've gotta rip a fart."

It was a real good one too, so good in fact that Sloan cocked her head and stared up at him with a quizzical look on her face.

"Dude, that was wicked! I wish I had a match. If we lit that one up it would have been a super-big explosion."

"I know. I guess when you fucked me last night some air got caught in my butt or something. C'mon man, suck me!"

I positioned myself between Jake's thick legs and got to work on his dick. It had bonered up and was leaking a string of cock juice out of the tip. I loved that stuff and lapped it all up. The Breakfast of Champions, I thought to myself. I ran my lips all along the sides of his shaft, getting his boner all nice and slippery. After learning how to suck a cock all the way down from that salesman at the sporting goods store the other day, I stuck my tongue out and slowly guided Jake's long dick into my mouth. It tasted nice and salty as I sucked it in deeper so that soon, my nose was buried down all the way in his downy soft, pubic hairs. It smelled so good down there.

"Oh, man, Ry. I love it when you suck up my whole dick like that. It feels so bitchin."

"I know. That guy at Stillman's Sport Shack taught us some useful tips."

"No shit."

I didn't reply and instead started to bounce up and down on his hot rod while rubbing the inside of his thighs with the palm of my hands and fingers. I'd rub my hands up his thighs and slowly wrapped my thumbs and forefingers around his baggy balls and hard shaft, trapping the blood inside and making his cock throb and drip with pleasure. The good thing about being out here on the rock was that he was in that magic position where his cock and my mouth were at the same level, and I could easily suck on him.

I bobbed up and down on his hard cock for a while, and then I felt the tell-tale signs of his impending explosion. I stopped and concentrated on licking and sucking his balls, then all around his perineum, just before his hole. I didn't want to go any further because he'd probably blow another righteous fart at me. I moved back up a little and started to nibble on his rubbery ball sack again, pulling the loose skin into my mouth and biting on it gently between my teeth. His ball sack seemed to be getting shaggier, and that really turned me on.

Before I jumped back on his long shaft, I took in a good long whiff of his musty boy scent. It smelled like a heady mix of sweat, love juice and something else I couldn't quite place. I'd have to try and figure that out. Then, taking the big stick all the way down, I tried something new and started humming a tune that I heard recently and was stuck in my head. He really seemed to like that, and before long his balls had shrunk up closer to his body, and he was starting to wiggle his body around a little. He had been watching me do him, but now his head was slung back and rocking from side to side, his mouth open and his eyes closed. He was moaning in pleasure, something that he always did just before he shot a big load of steaming white teen-boy juice.

"Ry, baby, here it comes. This one's for you, man."

I took a chance, and deep dicked him this time and was rewarded with three good blasts of sizzling cock juice that went straight down my throat and on into my stomach. I was so happy that I could finally do that! I pulled up and took just the head in my mouth and sucked out the rest of Jake's seed. It was so tasty. When I had sucked out the last of his load, and when his dick started to get too sensitive, I released my prey and looked up at him. What a sight: Sitting back on his elbows, his head tipped to the right, eyes closed and a big smile of bliss on his face. The early morning sunshine was lighting up his features, and he looked so hot and satisfied. My man was fucking boss!

Apparently, he could sense that I was staring at him because he opened his eyes to look at me, and once he focused on me, his smile grew even bigger.

"What, you goof? Why are you staring at me?"

"Do you know how sexy you are, Jake?" I asked.

"How do you figure?"

"Well, you just got your rocks off, and every muscle in your body is relaxed. The sun is shining on you, lighting up your long, wavy golden-brown hair in a way that makes it sparkle. You've got one leg up and your thighs are spread, showing off your beautiful dick and big balls, and your cute little pucker is clenched up tight. Cum is still leaking out of your pee hole from your half-hard cock and glistening in the light. I wish I had a camera. You make me so hot, dude, I can't stand it sometimes."

"C'mer you. I love it when you talk like that," he said, bending down and planting his lips on mine. Then he pried my lips apart with his tongue and started to occupy my mouth, licking and tasting every nook and cranny, searching for the last remnants of his hot teen load.

"That kiss just got me all boned up again, Jake. Hurry up and let's change places."

"Okay," he said, standing up on the rock and stretching his back.

I sat on the rock while Jake jumped down and got between my legs. "How did you do that thing with your throat to make my dick feel so good?"

"I did something new. I pretended that I was singing to your dick. I was singing Bad Moon Rising, and your dick was the audience. Jake junior was loving it!"

"No shit. That was so bitchin. My dick and I love that song."

"You know, Coop taught me a new word the other day, and it has to do with that song. He called it a mondegreen, and it means something like misheard or misquoted. I think it's French or something. Anyway, the lyric in that song sounds like 'there's a bathroom on the right' when he's actually singing 'there's a bad moon on the rise'. Isn't that weird?"

"Yeah, that's trippy. How does he know all that shit?"

"I don't know. He's just full of useless information like that," I said.

"He sounds like a good guy for Lisa. I just wish they would become friends. Maybe more."

"Yeah, I know. Me too. When they're ready, it'll happen. I can see it."

"Do you know any more of those monkeygrams?" he asked.

"What? Oh, you mean mondegreens? Yeah. Lemme see. How about excuse me while I kiss this guy?"


"Okay, what?"

"I said okay, you can kiss me!" he yelled.

"No, you chowder head. That's a line from Purple Haze. 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy' is really 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky'."

"Oh yeah," he giggled. "Jimi Hendrix. You got another one?"

"How about the Stones You Can't Always Get What You Want?"

"Okay, buddy, sock it to me!" he laughed.

I cleared my throat to start singing in my raspy voice, "I'll never win a Grammy for this but here goes. You can't always get what you want, you can't always get what you want, but if you gripe sometimes, you just might find, you turn into seeds! Oh Yeah, Baby!"

"That one's funny, so funny in fact that I had to rip another fart."

"I got wind of it. I think you better suck my dick now."

"Okay," he said, still laughing and squeezing my bouncing boner. "What song should I sing?"

"How about Ride My See-Saw by the Moody Blues? When I hear that song now, I think of you riding my see-saw."

"Oh, baby! I can really dig that. Take a free ride, take my place, have my seat, it's for free," he sang as he settled in between my legs and started fisting my dick. Then he grabbed it like a microphone and started singing the song again and bounced his ass around. "Ride, ride, my seeeee-sawwww."

"Dude, just suck on it. If you keep singing like that we're gonna have all kinds of weird animals coming around here and wonder what we're doing. You sound like a gorilla on Quaaludes."

"I'll gorilla you, mister," he said giving my dick a hard squeeze.

"Okay, okay! I take it back."

Jake jumped on my dick for real now, pulling back the foreskin and sucking up the head real good. I was so horny that I had a pool of pre-cum nesting just under my 'skin, and Jake was busy slurping it all up. Then he started to use the tricks that the salesman had told us about – the same ones that I had just used on him. He opened up his mouth real wide and then stuck out his tongue a little ways, taking my fat dick in his mouth. His mouth was all wet and slobbery, and he was able to really coat my shaft with his saliva, mixing it up with my leaking dick juices. God, I thought, this feels so fucking awesome! I wanted to stay out here in the warm sunshine with my dick buried in Jake's mouth forever.

"Dude, ride my see-saw. Oh, yeah, ride it, man!" I groaned to myself.

Because he was in such a great position to suck my dick, he seemed to be able to add more and more of it in his mouth with each thrust. My fat cock was really slipping in and out of his lips easily now when he started to hum. Oh man, that felt so freakin' good! I began to match his downward thrusts by pushing my dick into him. He almost had the whole thing in his mouth! It looked so hot. My legs wide open in the morning sky, my dick disappearing deep into his hot mouth. How cool was this? Then he started to hum that great song a little bit louder. All too soon I was about to blow.

"Hey, man. I can't take much more of that. When I shoot, can you take it with my dick way down your throat?"

"I'm not sure. I don't want to choke or hurt your dick."

"Then just suck on the knob, and I'll jack it off into your mouth. Keep my load in there and then let's kiss and we can share it again, okay buddy?"

He didn't say anything, but I guess he figured it out. He deep throated me as best he could a couple of more times, and then when he felt I was at the point of no return, he slid back up onto my knob so he could catch my hot load. It took me only a few more seconds to pump my seed into his burning, waiting mouth. Oh, God, that felt so good. So good, in fact, that I couldn't watch anymore and I had to flop back against the rock and arch my back as my hips pushed my steaming load out of my nuts, through my hard boner and into Jake's waiting mouth.

Once I was through with my spasms of lust, I leaned up and grabbed Jake's cheeks with both of my hands, tenderly placing my lips on his. He had a glimmer of excitement in his eyes as he parted his lips into my hungry mouth, delivering my hot, steamy sperm and swirled it around with his sticky tongue. Man, this was so sexy! We swapped and swirled my hot load with our tongues until there was nothing left. Sad that there wasn't anymore, we finally broke our kiss.

"C'mer you! Crawl on top of me," I told Jake, once we were done slurping on my seed.

He climbed up the rock and slowly lowered his hot body down on top of me. We kissed that way, out in the wild, naked save for our shoes, in the early morning sunlight. Two fifteen-year-old boys, without a care in the world, sucking face and grinding our hot sweaty bodies into one another. After a while, not really wanting to interrupt the moment, I told Jake that we should head back or we'd be out here all day.

"Hey, bud. We better get going. We need to take a quick shower because were both dirty and stinky. And we've got a busy day today," I said.

"No problem-o. Do you think your dad is really going to let me drive the Camaro?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Because my dad would never do anything that nice for me. He always promised me and Lisa lots of things, but he never came through. You're lucky your dad is so cool," he said, as we got up and started walking back down the trail.

"Yeah, I guess I am. I never thought of it that way because they're just always there. Sometimes I take my folks for granted, you know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I do. The thing is, my parents aren't anything like yours. Your parents are bitchin."

"That must suck. But now that you're here, I bet my parents will make you and Lisa like their own," I said.

"That would be so groovy."

We got back to the pool house, took a quick shower and then headed into the kitchen for some breakfast. Everybody was in a good mood, even my mom, and I guess everybody forgot about her little episode with the booze and pills last night because no one brought it up. She was even making my favorite: bacon stuffed French toast. Yum and super-yum.

Everybody laughed and joked around and later, after we had eaten, Jake, Jordy and I headed out to fill the wheelbarrow up with compost, then ran it over across the street. While we were filling in the tire holes, my old man met Mr. Jacobson, and together they took a close look underneath the microbus. Whatever they saw made my dad get pissed off. He came storming back across the street and asked us if we had seen anybody mess with the microbus.

"No, Dad. We didn't. Why are you asking?" I asked.

"Because it looks like the brake line was cut. And the cable to the emergency brake was snapped, too. Something like that wouldn't just happen all on its own, out of the blue."

"Oh, shit," I said, under my breath.

"Who would want to do that?" Jake asked.

"I don't know, son. Maybe it was just a prank," my dad theorized. "Have you or Lisa pissed anybody off that they'd do that to your hippie van?"

"No, sir. Nobody knows we're living here except my dad, and he wouldn't do that to us," Jake said. "At least, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't. I hope not anyway."

"Hey, Dad? Yesterday afternoon, I was letting Jordy's friend Chris out the front door so he could go home with Enzo after they went swimming. There was a car parked down the street with a guy sitting in the passenger seat having a smoke. He seemed to be minding his own business, but afterward, I thought it was sorta weird because he didn't belong here. I didn't see a driver, either. But then I forgot about it. Do you think they might have had something to do with this?"

"I don't know Ryan. I think I'll give that detective that helped us out a couple of weeks ago a call, just to be on the safe side. Seems to me that this is too coincidental," my dad said, the Army MP coming out of him.

"Wiley, I think Daisy saw that car Ryan was talking about. Maybe that cop should talk with her, too," Mr. Jacobsen said.

"I'll mention that to him, Harold. Thanks. I'm going to go in and give him a call right now."

My dad crossed the street and went inside just as Jake, Jordy and I were finishing tamping down the Jacobson's front lawn. Once the grass grew back in, nobody would be able to see any sign of the channels that the microbus made yesterday. We waved goodbye to Mr. Jacobson and headed back across the street to put the tools away in the garage.

"Do you guys think someone broke those brakes on purpose?" Jordy asked us once we were back across the street in the garage.

"No, little man, I don't think so. I wouldn't worry too much about it," I said, not believing myself and hoping that I sounded convincing. I didn't want to freak out the little man.

We put the tools away and then I went into the house to get the car keys so I could back out my mom's station wagon from her slot in the garage. Our second chore of the day was next, and we needed the room to move stuff around so we could set up the weight set. Dad came out of the house a few minutes later and told us that the cop would be here, later on, to check out the microbus. He didn't want it moved in case he thought that someone had tampered with it. Dad went on to say he was going to let Lulu and Lisa borrow the station wagon until the microbus was fixed. He also said that he was going to get his company car early this week and that they were going to be driving it up north in it instead of the wagon. Mom was going to be driving the Camaro, and the thought of that made my eyes roll.

For the next couple of hours, the four of us guys worked and sweated in the garage. We rolled the Austin-Healey along the side of the garage, then covered it up with some old parachute fabric my dad had found in an army surplus store. For added protection, we placed a tarp over the top so it wouldn't leak inside the cabin because the soft top didn't fit real tight anymore. Every now and then I would look over at my dad as he ogled the beautiful little blue car. It must have held some really good memories for him, I thought. I pictured him driving fast down the road with one of his girlfriends from before he met my mom, wind blowing through their hair. Then I thought how cool it would be for me and Jake to go cruising up Angeles Crest Highway with the top down on a hot, sunny day.

We had thrown out a bunch of crap, and we were almost done putting together the weight set when Detective Bouner showed up to talk with my dad. They went down the street to Jake's driveway to get a look underneath the bus. We were practically done with the garage, so the three of us kids decided to get in a little swimming until it was lunchtime, and after that, we were headed down to the track to drive the Camaro. That was going to be fun, I thought to myself, and I was looking forward to it. The three of us shucked off our clothes and dove into the cool, blue water. Jordy fooled around in the shallow end like usual, while Jake and I swam our laps. It sure felt good to get out of that hot, dusty garage.

Dad came back fifteen or twenty minutes later and told us that the cop couldn't tell for sure if the microbus was tampered with or not, but he said the detective was going to add it to the disturbance report that he filed the other day when Lulu and Ace got in that big fight. It didn't sound like the cop was very interested, and my dad seemed kind of pissed off. Then my dad ditched all of his clothes and did a big cannonball blast into the pool, making a huge splash, soaking Jordy and making Sloan run for cover. We had a great time playing different pool games, which of course made Jordy laugh uncontrollably, so much that he probably peed in the pool.

We fooled around for about an hour and then my dad left to take a quick shower to rinse off all of the chlorine. He told us we needed to get moving if we wanted to practice driving down at the Racetrack parking lot. He didn't have to say it twice, and in seconds we were in the pool house taking our showers. Actually, we took one together, but no messing around for us this time. Ten minutes later we were standing out in front of the garage next to the Camaro waiting for my dad to show up. It was a beautiful day, a little windy but just enough to blow the smog away. It was cooler today too, which was nice. When my dad finally showed up a few minutes later, the three of us jumped in the car and took off down the hill for Arcadia and the Santa Anita Racetrack.

The racetrack had been built in the early 1930's on what was left of Lucky Baldwin's old Rancho. It was designed in this really bitchin turquoise and white Streamline-Moderne style with a big grandstand and wide, dirt and grass tracks. Lots of movies had been filmed out here over the years because some famous movie stars owned racehorses. Mr. Bailey told me that years ago he and his wife enjoyed hanging out there. Over the years, he had told me lots of great stories about the place. Even the Marx Brothers had filmed a black and white comedy here, and he laughed about Harpo making a pass at Mrs. B.

Loads of awards had been made and records broken over the years, too, and lots of big wagers had been won and lost. But it also had its dark side, too. In the early 40's, the vast, empty parking lots were used for Japanese internment camps, locking up innocent citizens in the old stables, haphazard tents, and cheap plywood cabins during World War Two.

For us though, the parking lot today was a vast, empty, flat area where we could learn to drive and not run into anything or anybody. There weren't any trees or light poles around for us to crash into, which made this the perfect place to drive. I went first as Dad told us about the basics of the Camaro, most of which I already knew. This car was his baby, and at barely six months old, he was loathe to let it go. I remember when he had ordered it from Mission Chevrolet down in San Gabriel and how excited he was when he first got it. It was a Z28 model, red with white stripes and a sharp-looking lip on the trunk deck. He special ordered the Rally Sports package that had these crazy automatic headlight covers. He even went wild and ordered the twin Holley Carb's, which meant that this car could probably beat the shit out of Coopers dad's Shelby GT500 Mustang! Maybe once I got my license, I would challenge Coop to race out at Irwindale Speedway. That would be super cool! The inside of the car was black vinyl and had a four-on-the-floor shifter. Above that were a few gauges and an AM-FM 8-Track stereo that was state of the art and had four stereo speakers, not that you could hear it when it was peeling out.

Once I had settled into the driver's seat, I put on my lap belt and then started her up. I let out the clutch and gave the car some gas. Actually, too much gas as I burned out and left a long line of skid marks fishtailing across the asphalt. My dad didn't get mad and instead had me try again until I got the car's handling down tight. After forty-five minutes or so, I was able to run through the gears with ease. Jake and I traded places, and I folded myself up like a pretzel in the small back seat.

Surprisingly, Jake was a natural, not burning any rubber and accelerating like he had driven for years. My dad was impressed and told him so, and I got a little jealous but bit my tongue. Jake practiced his shifting, and when he got up to fourth gear, we were doing almost eighty miles an hour. I was totally impressed.

It was getting hot out here on the wide blacktop, and we started to get hungry. My dad suggested that we run down Huntington Drive and go to Twohey's Drive-in for some tasty burgers and onion rings. I always made sure to order their bittersweet hot fudge sundae when we went there. That was bitchin, with lots of chocolate and whipped cream and chopped nuts. Dad didn't like us to eat in the car, but this was an exception because he liked to show off his Camaro and look at the cute girls that were working at the car hop.

We were scarfing down our second burger when Dad said he wanted to talk to us about something important. Actually, he said he had two things to discuss with us. We'd been having such a great time, and I was a little worried about what he wanted to say. Jake was riding shotgun, and I was still sprawled out in the back seat when I saw Jake shoot me a weird glance out of the corner of his eye, letting me know that he was wondering the same thing that I was.

"You know, fellas, that both your moms and I are going away next weekend up to Gus's farm. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be worried about leaving you kids home alone by yourselves, but the incident with the bus and the broken brake line has me a little worried. Maybe it's my training as an MP in the Army, but I'm usually pretty correct when I sense something is wonky. I guess what I'm getting at is that I can't help but think that someone is out to hurt somebody."

"What do you say that, Dad?"

"Well, a lot of things have happened in the last couple of weeks, and taken separately they don't really mean much. But if you put them together it seems like something that could become serious. Ace and Lulu had that ugly fight, and then one night you guys heard something sneaking around under the treehouse. Then the brake line was cut. That one scared the bejesus out of me because you kids could have been seriously hurt by that, or worse."

"So what are you trying to tell us, Wiley?" Jake asked.

"I guess I'm asking you boys if you think Jake's dad or someone else is out to hurt somebody, I need to know about it. Please don't get defensive, Jake, I'm only asking because you know him better than we do, and, well, we've never had any serious problems here before," he explained, finishing up his cheeseburger.

"If I thought that my Dad was going to do something to Mom or any one of us, I would tell you right away. I guess you know that my folks used to fight a lot before, but he never did anything to hurt us physically. He's said a lot of nasty things and yelled nasty words at us over the years, but I don't think he wants to hurt us," Jake said.

"That's good to know, son. I can't imagine a father wanting to harm his children, but I guess it does happen. I just want to make sure you kids are going to be safe and okay. Maybe it's just someone playing pranks." Dad took a deep breath and then continued, "Here's the deal. Since we don't really know if anything is going to happen, I want you boys to promise me something. While we're gone, I want the four of you to stick together. I want all of you to sleep in the house and make sure all of the doors and windows are always locked. Just generally look out for each other. I'm sure nothing is going to happen, but I'd enjoy my trip a little better if I knew you boys were on your toes and watching out for Jordy and Lisa. Does that make sense?"

"Yeah, Dad. It does. We'll be careful, I promise. Jordy won't like it, so maybe you can give him a heads up."

"Yeah, Wiley. We'll take care of each other and make sure the doors are always locked. I'll talk to my sister so all of us will look out for each other. You don't have to worry about us. You guys go and have fun. We'll be okay."

"Good, I'm glad to hear that. I also thought that tomorrow I'd show you boys and Jordan and Lisa a few simple self-defense moves. Just to be on the safe side so you can protect yourselves. What do you think about that?"

"I think it's a great idea, Dad."

"Yeah, me too. Thanks, Wiley. I guess you never can be too careful. Lisa will appreciate it I think, even though she says that she isn't scared of anything," Jake said.

"I'm proud of you boys, you know that? You're both going to be fine men when you grow up." Dad said, sucking down some of his shake and thinking for a minute. After looking around to make sure people in the other cars couldn't overhear us, he said "The other thing that I want to discuss with you boys is awkward for me, so give me a minute to figure out how to say it. It has to do with sex."

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