The Road of Dreams

by Geron Kees

Chapter 5

They left the barn and headed back to the house. Brian was aware of a change inside himself - a new awareness. They were somehow four now instead of two. It was weird to think that the secret he had carried so long was now known by so many others. And that they were others that accepted him for who he was. It wasn't the same as being out, but it was a hell of a lot less of a strain than going it alone.

And, in some ways, it was exciting, too. There's nothing harder than thinking you are the only one in the world facing what looks like an insurmountable problem. To realize that not only are there others just like you, but that they are functional and dealing with the same problems that you are - it's heartening beyond words. Makes the world look like far less of a lonely place.

As they walked back down the wide dirt path towards the house, Brian couldn't help counting in his mind the people that now knew he was gay. Chris, of course, had been the first to know. And then Jeff, and shortly after him, Ed had learned of it. That was a story in itself. But Ed prized his friendship with Brian above anything so mundane as sexual preference, and Ed's San Francisco upbringing had caused the discovery that Brian was gay to bounce off the walls of important things and stick rather to the floor, there to be relegated to things to be stepped over lightly.

And now there was JohnyG and Gary. That was five people that knew that Brian would rather sleep with Jeff than any girl on the damn planet. He grinned to himself in the moonlight, wondering how many others would one day know. Coming out wasn't something he could consider right now, or even anytime soon. But the world was getting a little better each year, and Brian could almost imagine a time when being gay might not matter to anyone.

Almost imagine - but not yet.

Jeff turned to JohnyG as they walked. "Hey, either one of you seen that guillotine we keep hearing banging away? It's supposed to be upstairs in the back of the house."

"Nope," JohnyG returned immediately. "We meant to go look, but we got side-tracked by a little matter of some plants. But I do want to see the guillotine. I heard they had a little show that went with that." He grinned. "Wanna go take a look?"

Brian nodded. "Shit, yeah. If it's half as cool as everything else we've seen, it will be worth it."

JohnyG put out a hand to stop them. "Then we can go another way." He pointed at the porch along the back of the house. "Through the kitchen. There's something pretty cool there, too."

They reversed course and headed for the moonlit porch. The three steps up to it were wide and beaten-looking in the soft moonlight, and evidenced a noticeable sag in the middle from generations of usage. The boards creaked alarmingly under their weight, but flexed only slightly beneath their feet. The wood was still strong here.

"Lotta oak in this house," Gary said, an admiring tone to his voice. "If this place had been built of pine it would just be a pile of sticks now."

They crossed the porch, passing more car seats loaded with people in various stages of consciousness. Most seemed awake, but had decided that a point about three feet in front of their noses was the most fascinating thing they had ever seen. A few sipped beers, and damned if there weren't still a few passing around a bong.

"Diehard bunch here," Jeff commented, grinning at Brian.

"No lie," he returned. "I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one place who think they're home in their own bedrooms right now."

They arrived at the door into the kitchen, and JohnyG pushed it inwards. They went in, and Brian immediately stared about in awe at what he saw. Jeff nodded in agreement at his look, and gave a low whistle. "Awesome, huh?"

The kitchen was impressive. Huge would be a better word. The inner wall towards the middle of the house was all of stone, into which was carved the enormous shape of a walk-in hearth. A small fire was going in a grate obviously plucked from a much smaller fireplace - you could roast a bull in this one and not be pressed for space. The kitchen seemed even larger than it really was - all the rooms they had seen in this house had nine-foot ceilings. Once upon a time, that had been common.

Against a side wall was an enormous counter, it's top a huge slab of some dark wood - obviously intended as a cutting board. Next to that was an equally immense cast-iron stove, black, with an ornate oven door set into the center of the front of it. The stove had all sorts of odd-looking protuberances, doors, and brass accents on it, and looked like it weighed nothing short of a ton. For a moment Brian imagined the thing making its way over mile after mile of dirt roads in the back of a large wagon, until it had finally arrived at this place.

Amazing, what these people once did.

The kitchen was stunningly well-equipped with shelves and cabinets, everywhere about, though the doors of the cabinets were long gone. Several open doorways seemed to lead into pantries or other storage. There was no furniture, but there would certainly have been room for it, back when. Brian could imagine a large, long table in the center of the room, laden with food in various stages of preparation. That this had once been the home of a large family he no longer doubted.

The most amazing thing, though, was that there really were a half-dozen quarter-kegs of beer here, each one sitting in a huge metal washtub loaded with water and ice, the taps standing up in the air and looking like old-fashioned gasoline pumps. A small table nearby held tube after tube of red plastic cups, each one able to hold the equivalent of a sixteen-ounce bottle of beer. And by the looks of it, there had been a lot more of the cups originally.

"Pretty wild, huh?" JohnyG asked, grinning at them. He went and snatched up a cup, gave the nearest tap a try, pumped it a few times when it seemed slow to respond, and then filled a cup until a white foamy head started spilling over the side. Then he held the cup out to all of them. "Anyone?"

When no one immediately moved, Gary stepped forward and took the cup.

"How about you two?" JohnyG asked, his eyes moving to Brian and Jeff.

The each took a cup, and then waited for JohnyG to fill one for himself.

Brian took a swig off the cup, gasped at the frothy goodness as it tingled its way down his throat. Nothing like beer on tap - cold beer on tap, at that. He was already past his normal limit for beer when he was driving - but this was a special night, and he decided to loosen the rules just a little.

"You think that's cool, wait until you see this," JohnyG continued. He motioned for the others to follow him over by an inner wall to the right side of the kitchen. Three tall, floor-to-ceiling built-in storage shelves confronted them, each separated by about a foot and a half of blank wall space.

"Notice anything funny?" JohnyG asked, while Gary smiled and tried not to laugh.

Obviously, they were meant to see something different here. Brian stared at the three units, at first not seeing anything unusual about them. They were built into the wall in the same fashion as the bookcases beside the big fireplace in the front room; wide shelving units with maybe a foot of space between each shelf. They all looked, wait.

He noticed then that the center shelving unit was different. The shelves in each end unit were all set into a squared space, with the shelves the same width all the way across. But the center unit was different. The shelves were set into a half-round space, each shelf curving along the back edge until the ends met at the front of the shelf. At the same time, Brian noticed that there were the remains of hinges along the left edge of each unit - the shelves had once had doors over them, maybe with glass in them.

What was weird was that all the hinges had been on the left, which meant that any handles used to open the doors covering the shelves would have been on the right. Yet the center shelving unit had a large, white handle fastened to the left side - in the actual frame of the cabinet, outside the hinges, not where a covering door could possibly be.

"The shelves are curved in the middle unit," Jeff said then. "And there used to be doors, too."

Brian nodded, and pointed at the handle. "That looks out of place, too."

JohnyG grinned, stepped forward and grabbed the handle, then leaned back and gave it a pretty good pull. There was an ominous creak - and then the entire center shelving unit slowly turned outward on hidden hinges, revealing a narrow staircase behind that went upwards for about eight steps and then turned to the right.

Brian and Jeff both stared, while Gary laughed. "Maid stairway, or for the butler, or whatever. It goes up into the hallway upstairs and comes out behind another hidden door."

Now - this was some cool shit here. For a second all Brian could think of was all the old movies he had ever seen in which the spooky old house had secret passageways and stuff in them.

"Any more like this?" he asked, stepping forward and peering up the steps. The stairwell was not lit, and fell into twilight at the landing where it turned to the right.

"No one has showed us anything else," JohnyG returned. "That doesn't mean there isn't, though. But - come on. Let's go up."

JohnyG let go of the shelf-door and started up. Gary followed. Brian grinned at Jeff, indicated that he should go next, and then followed his boyfriend. Behind him, the shelf-door, now on its own, swung slowly closed behind them. Brian reached the landing, made the turn, and for a second thought he was going to need his lighter; but then a light appeared up ahead, and he could see the others framed in the lighter rectangle of another open doorway. They exited the stairwell, one by one, and then Brian reached the top step and stepped onto another small landing.

He came out into the upper hallway. He had emerged through the wall in the middle of the hallway, which was dressed in faded white paneling. The door had opened outward along the lines where the paneling joined, and when Brian took his hand off of it, it also began to slowly swing close. A white projection that could just as easily have been a coat hook could serve as a handle to reopen the door if needed.

"Weighted, or something," Gary explained, smiling. "Amazing it still works after all these years."

"This place is just wild," Jeff said, laughing. Brian grinned, enjoying seeing the delight in his boyfriend's eyes. Everything that made Jeff happy had the added bonus of making Brian happy as well.

JohnyG went off down the hall, and stopped where a side hall met the main one. "Wonder which way?"

He'd no sooner said that then they heard a shriek from the other end of the side hall - JohnyG immediately grinned and turned into it. The rest of them followed. They could hear voices ahead, and there was a milky light spilling out of the doorway at the end of the short hallway.

"Please don't kill my love!" a shrill woman's voice called.

There was a sinister male laugh. "It's too late! His fate is sealed!"

The four of them turned into the room and stopped. The lights were down in here, confined to a couple of spot lights whose beams climbed the wall in the back of the room and cast a cool, eerie luminescence across the ceiling. Another spot was focused on the action in the center of the room. A small knot of people stood before an ominous-looking contraption that reached all the way to the high ceiling. A guillotine, like in old horror movies. Twin uprights held what looked like a steel blade between them, the blade's leading edge angled sharply downward. A rope was attached to the wooden block in which the blade was mounted, and the rope looped over a pin and ran down the side of the contraption to a metal circlet jutting from its side.

Brian looked over at Jeff, who gave him a grin that said cool!, and walked over to the end of the crowd. The others followed him around the end of the group of people, and then they could see the base of the guillotine. A woman stood on the other side, dressed in old-fashioned clothing, her hands clenched to her chin. She wore a look of horror and despair worthy of every "b" movie actress that ever lived. Her haunted eyes were focused on the man who was bent down before the guillotine, his head imprisoned within its stock.

Well - at first glance it looked like a man. But as Brian's eyes took in the scene, he realized that there was something a little off about the poor guy tied up and imprisoned and waiting to have his head removed. The man's body bent just a little bit unnaturally before the guillotine, suggesting that the clothing he wore was filled with something other than a real human body. And, there was the fact that the hair on his captured head appeared to be painted on, like an old department store mannequin's; but otherwise, it was just a little ghastly to see him there as he was, and imagine that the wide blade suspended above his head might be real.

The front of the guillotine just beneath the poor soul's head was a grisly red in the spotlight, and glistening, as if this new fellow was but one in a long line of executions that moonlit night. Someone had put some effort into building both the guillotine and the scenario, and Brian could only shake his head and grin at the originality of the entertainment at this party.

"Please don't!" the woman wailed miserably.

She was talking to a man who stood by the side of the guillotine. He was dressed in a black robe and a black hood, through which his eyes appeared as small white lights behind narrow slits. The robed one's hand was on a small lever, which, if yanked back, would catch the ring to which the end of the rope holding back the blade was tied, and pluck it cleanly from the side of the upright.

Brian hazarded a gaze at the watching crowd - about evenly split between guys and chicks, all of whom looked stoned off their asses, and all of whom looked caught up in the moment.

"You're too late!" the black-hooded one yelled, looking directly at Brian and his companions. And with that, he yanked back upon the lever.

The ring popped free, and the blade dropped like a shot, hitting the stops with a solid thunk. The mannequin's head flew forward, accompanied by an absolutely shocking and unexpected geyser of red, which sprayed in every direction.

A little bit hit Brian's face, causing him to gasp and step back. He wasn't the only one: everyone standing near him also got sprayed. A girl in the crowd screamed, and one of the guys jumped back so fast he stepped all over a guy standing behind him.

"Shit," the executioner said then, looking around at the anguished woman crying for the life of her love. "A little too much ketchup, babe."

The wailing woman dropped her hands from her chin. "Oops. Sorry, hon."

Brian caught his breath, and grinned. A tiny bit of the red ichor had touched his lips, and now he tasted the unmistakable flavor of tomato.

A commotion to his left suddenly drew Brian's attention. The guy that had stepped back into the other one had turned about and had his hands up before him, and was shaking his head. "It was an accident, man. I said I was sorry."

The man behind him had a large wet spot on the front of his shirt, and down the front of his jeans, and there was a crushed red plastic cup in a pool of lather at his feet. The smell of beer was in the air, and Brian realized then what had happened: when the blade had dropped and the fake blood had sprayed everywhere, the guy in the front row had jumped backwards, squashing a full cup of beer against the front of the man standing behind him.

That fellow looked pissed. He was tall and beefy, in his early twenties, maybe, with long, curly dark hair and a mustache. The man who had bumped him was shorter and slender, and maybe a year or two younger. A young woman - obviously his girlfriend, was grasping at his arm and trying to pull him back.

The man with the wet shirt wasn't having that. He had reached out and grabbed a fistful of the smaller man's shirt.

"You stupid fuck, look what you did to my clothes."

The smaller guy licked his lips. "I couldn't help it, man. When that stuff went flying, I just jumped."

The executioner now focused on what was going on and turned to look. "Lighten it up over there. It's a show, man. Put your feelings away, or leave."

"Hey, fuck you," the curly-haired guy returned, his face reddening. He jerked his arm, dragging the smaller guy in his grasp towards him.

JohnyG took a step towards the action. "It was an accident, the man said. Shit happens."

Curly-hair looked at JohnyG, obviously getting even angrier at all the interference he seemed to be getting now. "Mind your own business, pygmy, or you'll be next."

JohnyG laughed. "You don't want any part of me. I'll hurt ya."

Curly-hair's eyes narrowed in fury. There was a slightly confused look to those eyes, which bespoke of a number of beers imbibed before the last fateful cup had become part of his evening wear.

Gary stepped up beside JohnyG. "Watch your manners, friend, or you'll be dealing with both of us."

Neither JohnyG nor Gary were large - JohnyG was smaller than Brian and Jeff, in fact. But their courage was certainly admirable enough. Brian stepped up next to JohnyG. "Three of us."

Well, four. Jeff was right there alongside Brian in the next heartbeat, looking ready for action.

A somewhat smaller man, beer in-hand, who was standing next to curly-hair and who had been watching the proceedings uncertainly, suddenly looked alarmed. He reached out and placed his free hand carefully on curly-hair's arm. "Come on, Frank. It was an accident."

Curly-hair - Frank - looked down at his clothing. "Fucking beer all over me." He sounded like he just couldn't quite believe it had happened. But his eyes came back up and surveyed the now four young men arrayed against him. There was no fear in his eyes - just maybe the sudden realization that things were moving too quickly. He sighed, thrust the fellow in his grasp back from him. "Get away from me."

That guy's girlfriend was of the same mind, and grasped him and started pushing him towards the hallway. "I'm sorry!" the guy called again, as they left the room.

Frank rubbed his face with a hand, rubbed his eyes, then looked back at JohnyG. "Go on. I'm over it."

JohnyG nodded. "No hard feelings, man. It's a party. It's supposed to be fun."

The smaller man next to Frank nodded at them, took Frank by the arm, and guided him towards the hallway. "I can do it," Frank mumbled, shaking him off. But they left, which was all that mattered.

JohnyG immediately turned to Brian and Jeff and grinned. "Couple of roughnecks, are ya?"

Brian laughed. "Look who's talking. Seemed to me like you thought you could kick that dude's ass all on your own."

Gary reached out and gave JohnyG's shoulder a small, fond shove. "He probably could."

"Sorry about that, you guys," the executioner said then, pulling off his hood to reveal a slightly stoned looking longhair with a beard and mustache. "We were a little too heavy on the condiments."

The woman across from him raised a hand. "My fault. Sorry about that. When you do this act fifty times in a single night you get a little careless with the ketchup."

Everyone laughed.

Longhair sighed. "Okay, let me put this all back together. Next show's in ten minutes, y'all." He turned back to the guillotine and started pulling the blade up by its rope.

The watching crowd began to disperse, and in a moment they were filing out of the room. A couple of people went to examine the guillotine and talk to the executioner and his girl - but Brian and the others were pretty much left alone.

The first thing Brian did was turn to Jeff, and reach out to squeeze his arm. He grinned at his boyfriend, just to let him know how much he had loved seeing the other boy stand with him in the bad moment with Frank. Jeff grinned back, pleased with Brian's reaction.

JohnyG sighed. "You two are so fuckin' cute it hurts," he whispered.

Brian and Jeff laughed.

"What now?" Brian asked, looking from face to face. He glanced at his watch. It was only just ten - still time for some more fun. "Jeff and I probably should be looking for the people we came with," he decided out loud, feeling a little guilty now about the way he and Jeff had ditched the others.

They heard a noise in the hallway, and speak of the devil - Ed and the girls came through the doorway and into the room. Jeff reached out and gave Brian a fond push. "You're spooky, man. How'd you do that?"

Brian smiled and stuck his tongue out, and Jeff laughed, his eyes twinkling.

Ed's face immediately lit up. "Fuck. There you are! I thought you'd left or something."

Brian laughed. "My car's still out there. All you had to do is look."

"We did," Annabelle said, smiling. "I knew you weren't leaving your car behind." She came over to stand near Brian. "You have goop on the front of your shirt." She stuck out a finger and poked the front of the green tee-shirt he was wearing. Brian looked down then, and noticed the fine spray of red - it looked almost black on the green shirt - that he had received when the mannequin's head had come off.

The others looked at their own shirts then - all four of them had received some spray.

JohnyG sighed. "There goes this shirt. Ketchup is hard to get out."

Brian explained to the others what had happened with the execution of the mannequin. He learned then that Ed and the girls had seen the performance earlier - they had returned only to see if Brian and Jeff were there.

Ed leaned forward then. "Anyone feel like a few hits? My buzz went flat while we were looking for you guys." He even looked at JohnyG and Gary. "You guys are invited, too."

Brian actually thought that was not a bad idea. He looked at Jeff, his eyebrows raised in a silent question. Jeff shrugged, and then nodded. "Sure. It's a party, right?"

Ed looked happy. "Well let's go find a place, huh?"

They adjourned to the hallway, where Ed and the girls were surprised with the hidden door and staircase. The clomped down the steps, laughing, amazed at how cool something as simple as a house could really be.

"Yeah, they don't build 'em like this anymore," Jeff agreed, as they reentered the kitchen. They paused long enough to grab cups and fill them with beer from the taps. "This place has got all kinds of little extra frills," Jeff continued. He grinned. "High ceilings and big rooms, secret stairways, and guillotines in the upstairs bedroom."

Brian grinned at him.

"Not to mention the fact that this place was an ongoing build for a hundred years or so," JohnyG pointed out. "Every son that became a man and then master of this place put his stamp on it." He smiled. "Plus, back in those days, the after dark entertainment seemed to result in a lot of kids later on. They apparently needed all this space."

They filed out the back door onto the porch, where groups of slightly zombified people still sat on the car seats or the floor of the porch. Several people actually noticed them as they went by and nodded, or even smiled and waved.

They headed out towards the cornfields - not so much because there was anything there to draw them - but because there seemed nowhere else to go. The moon had risen higher overhead and hung now like a ghostly lamp in a sky filled, everywhere away from that brilliant orb, with stars. Sugarloaf mountain was plain to see now, a massive mesa of tree-covered stone jutting up suddenly from the fields to the west of the house, with the gentle rolling shapes of foothills to either side. There were lights on the mountain, too, swaying and bouncing - eerie and otherworldly in their presence. Brian knew that it was likely partyers unconnected with their present surrounds - they had themselves climbed the mountain at night in order to stand atop it and drink beer and stare at the stars, never realizing that this place - this house and its history - were even here. The mountain had been a party place for years, and now Brian wondered what those distant, flashlight-carrying teens thought of the eerily-lit house and grounds down in the fields to the east of them. Did it look as creepy from afar as it did up close?

There were people everywhere about them as they walked, sitting, standing, in groups, or just pairs. Talking, laughing, or just motionless and staring. If the party had in any way diminished in size since they'd arrived, it could not be told from the numbers around them.

Ahead of them, in the cornfield, someone screamed.

Their group stopped as one, a stunned silence overcoming all of them. Brian was aware of a lessening in the great murmur of sound from the direction of the house, as people everywhere stopped what they were doing and turned to look.

Ahead and to their left, the edge of the cornrows parted, and three people came running out, picking them up and putting them down with a fervor that bespoke of a real and urgent hurry to be moving on. A moment later, the rows parted again, and another figure bounded out, obviously in pursuit of the others. The pursuer was dressed in a black robe and a black hood, and was carrying a scythe, that implement's blade winking coldly in the equally cold moonlight as the devilish figure ran. Brian simply gaped, his muscles bunching to run; but some quixotic impulse holding him in place.

The three in flight pounded past Brian and his group, their faces paradoxically twisted into grins of epic proportions. A moment later, the apparition chasing them pounded past, huffing a bit at the strain, briefly whipping the scythe at them in a small salute. "Party on!" the demon yelled, in a gravelly voice, that sounded just a little bit drunk.

Brian suddenly laughed, and so did the others.

"I thought that was real for a fuckin' minute!" Ed said breathlessly, waving his beer around and then taking a huge swig off it.

JohnyG nodded. "No shit. I was feeling in my pocket for my cars keys, man!"

Brian just shook his head, remembering clearly his impulse to run for his life.

Jeff nudged him. "Scare ya?"

Brian grinned at him. "Hell no. I always piss in my pants when I party."

Annabelle, standing beside him now, grabbed his arm and pulled gently, smiling hugely at him, her eyes capturing wandering beams of moonlight. "I was hiding behind you, Brian."

Brian nodded. "I'd have been hiding behind me, too, if I'd been able to move."

"These people are nuts," Missy proclaimed with certainty, edging over closer to Ed. "What will it be next? Werewolves in the bathroom?"

"Speaking of which, I need to take a piss," Gary said quietly, glancing at the rows of corn. "I hope there's no pecker-grabbing ghouls hidden in there." He moved forward and to the side, approaching the corn slowly, obviously scoping the place out.

JohnyG grinned after him. "I need to do that, too."

There was a general nod of agreement among them all, even the girls. They split up, each taking a small section of cornfield for themselves.

Brian plunged into his section, passed through a couple of rows, and then unzipped and let fly. Gawd, but that was good! He felt like he drained at least a gallon from his bladder, and then sighed happily and closed up.

They finished, regrouped, and walked along the edge of the cornrows in the direction of the mountain, looking for a suitable place to reenter.

Which presented itself almost immediately. A wide gap appeared in the corn to their right - obviously a tractor lane between plots. They turned into it, facing the moon again and having the way before them well-lit by its presence.

"The moon is just awesome tonight," Brian had to say, looking up at it. "I can't remember the last time I saw it so bright."

There was a general nod of agreement.

"He's here for the party, too, to make it better for us," Annabelle said, her face aglow as she stared upwards. Brian smiled at her, reached out and squeezed her shoulder. She turned to look at him, and her smile bloomed. "What?"

He just shook his head, and their eyes held contact for a moment. "Nothing. Just a nice thing to say."

The lane in front of them suddenly opened out into a larger area. Here was a sizable open square of land, from which other tractor lanes radiated to each of the four compass points. In the center of the square of open land was a well-head, with a small pump house beside it and a fixture to which could be attached hoses. The equipment looked a little rusty and unused - but that did not mean it wasn't functional.

Along the front of the little pump house was a row of crates - more ancient equipment? - which looked perfect for sitting on.

Ed made an appreciative noise. "Ready-made party spot, y'all. I'm gonna sit my ass down and see about making friends with this here bong."

They all found spots to sit on the line of crates, and Ed busied himself with filling the bong's bowl from a small baggie. Brian just smiled - Ed's pockets were always home to a few empty baggies - Ed never knew when they would be needed.

They had all finished their beers by now, and Brian collected empty cups and inserted them into one another for easy carrying. No way was Ed going to go off and leave them in the field.

Ed pulled out a lighter, handed the bong to Missy. "Ladies first."

Missy grinned, taking a moment to look at Annabelle, who smiled in conspiratorial fashion; and then Missy put the tiny bong to her lips while Ed offered some flame.

The bong was refilled, and made its way slowly down the line. After everyone had had a good hit, Ed refilled the bowl and got one of his own.

The bowl had been well-filled each time, and Brian was definitely feeling the results. He had a hell of a buzz - more than he liked to have - but this was an unusual party and he felt like stepping out a little wouldn't hurt him just once. He leaned back against the pump house wall, watching the cornstalks across from him wave in the night breeze.

Annabelle was to his left, Jeff to his right. He was a little surprised to feel Annie settle against him and sigh; when he looked at her she had her eyes closed and was smiling. Her head moved back and forth gently like she was hearing some inner music; and then it tilted and leaned against Brian's shoulder. He grinned, resisting the urge to put an arm around her and give her a squeeze. No use implanting a message that might stick around to haunt him.

Brian was more surprised when, a moment later, Jeff settled against his other side and leaned his head over against Brian's. For just a second he felt a panic inside - what if someone saw them? But no one jumped up, no one pointed - and it was suddenly a very simple touch to Brian - two friends with a buzz just kicked back together. A severe case of what-the-hell hit him, and he just sighed, relaxed, and went with it. Being stoned could be used to explain away almost anything. He closed his eyes, smiled, and drifted away...

Some time passed, but he wasn't sure how much. Brian opened his eyes, hearing a sound. A group of people walked past them, giving them a cursory look, even smiling. They kept going though, not wishing to disturb them. Brian smiled at them and closed his eyes again.

Some more time passed. Brian began to become more aware of the two bodies pressed against him, the two heads leaned comfortably into him. He knew why Jeff was there - Jeff loved him. Jeff was his boyfriend. He also knew why Annie was there - she kind of loved him, too, although it was a fondness that had never really been allowed to grow. Brian kind of loved her back; they had been doing a little dance of emotions together for a couple of years now. In another world they would have been lovers - a world more kind than this one. But at the same time, Brian just loved Jeff, and Jeff was his lover - and what wasn't kind about a world that had given them that?

Brian moved slightly; neither Annie nor Jeff responded to it. So, slowly and carefully, Brian turned his head to the right, his cheek sliding against Jeff's, until his lips came around and made contact. He kissed Jeff - just a small one, just a quiet one. He felt a twitch in Jeff's cheek, and then the other boy smiled.

Brian couldn't help grinning. The pleasure of what he had just done was outweighed only by the thrill of it. He had just kissed Jeff in the wide open, in full moonlight, with people right beside him who didn't know that Brian would even imagine doing such a thing. The amazing thing was that the world did not end, the skies did not fall, and the cornstalks around them continued to wave gently, as if they had noticed nothing improper happening at all.

Because Brian had done nothing wrong. He had just briefly and very quietly told someone how he was feeling, and that person had just as quietly responded with a smile. In that moment - one he would remember for the rest of his life - Brian realized the difference between being wrong and being unaccepted. When you were wrong, you simply were wrong. There were shades of that - degrees of incorrectness based upon the distance you wound up from being right. Everyone was wrong at some time or another - everyone human, that is.

Being unaccepted was not being wrong. It just meant that others looked at what you were or who you were or what you had done, and could not find it within themselves to allow for it, because it conflicted with what they believed or thought. Acceptability was a learned thing, though: Brian could kiss Jeff in front of a thousand toddlers, and the most they would likely have to deal with would be a sea of smiles. Unacceptability was connected to many things inside the human mind, not the least of which was the threat factor - that little bit of arithmetic inside our heads that totaled up how closely everything we experienced threatened everything we believed. People took comfort in their beliefs, for they were the framework which held together the world in which they lived. Threats to that framework were not accepted lightly, because it meant that an analysis of what we believed was in order, and therein lay another threat to our comfort. Our beliefs were not readily edited once formed and set into place.

Two guys being in love ran counter to the beliefs of many people, who had absorbed from the culture around them while growing up that a loving pair was a man and a woman, whose job it was to produce families to keep the world alive. But Brian realized then that a belief was not a rule, a norm not a requirement. Two guys could be in love, and the universe would go on. Because some people were born to love their own gender, and that was a fact not able to be brushed under the carpet of cultural beliefs. You were who you were by gift of God or nature, and to be anyone else but that person was to be just as much in denial of reality as those who would judge you for being unacceptable.

He turned his head again, and kissed Jeff a second time. Jeff let his head come around, and his eyes fastened on Brian's, full of smiles. Brian looked into those eyes, and leaned forward and kissed Jeff full on the lips. The kiss went on, becoming comfortable, a dose of sudden serenity to Brian's slightly twirling thoughts. The kiss grew in intensity as Brian and Jeff rubbed their faces together in the midst of it, and might have become a kiss of legend had not Brian suddenly felt movement to his other side.

He broke away from Jeff then, turned his head, and there was Annie, gazing up at them, smiling. Brian was briefly amazed at being caught; but in his heightened state that amazement quickly gave way to an odd joy. Because Annabelle was looking at him fondly, in no way with anger or revulsion, and the moon in her eyes turned a cool spotlight on her heart, standing there, waiting.

Brian smiled, and bent his head, and kissed her. It was another kiss that grew, went long, and carried with it a dose of serene satisfaction. He would have been content to let it go on a bit longer, uninterrupted, except that Brian suddenly felt a face against the back of his neck, and then Jeff was kissing him there, even as he kissed Annie up front. Being kissed by both of them at once sent a sudden shiver through Brian's body, and he felt a rush in his crotch, and a sudden lust take his heart.

He turned back to kiss Jeff, and felt Annie rise a little behind him, and then felt her lips against the back of his neck, while a hand came around, found the bottom of his tee-shirt, and thrust up inside. Her fingers brought a gasp from Brian as they slid across the flesh of his chest and then dropped slowly, until a fingertip pressed fondly into his navel and probed gently in a circular motion.

And then, astonishingly, Jeff's hand was there, too, rubbing Brian's belly, and trading touches with Annie's fingers. For just a brief moment Brian was concerned with where this was going, what this would mean; but something in his head was just not up to dealing with the ramifications of what was happening just now, and he sighed, closed down his thoughts, and went with it. Brian felt the intensity of his buzz, knew that he was stoned, and that somehow he was not making good decisions. But he couldn't help himself, could not think of anything that might change what was happening.

He felt Jeff stand up; and then the other boy was pulling Brian to his feet. Annie got up, too; and then the three of them were stumbling through the corn, until they came to a spot that was closed in, and private. And then they were undressing each other, and then they were down on the ground. Someone took Brian's dick and caressed it, even as a weight settled on Brian's chest, and he looked up to see Jeff smiling down at him. Brian smiled back, liking where this was going. He saw then that Jeff didn't have a stitch of clothing on - which was okay, because Brian didn't either. Jeff hunched down and managed to kiss Brian - Brian wanted that, somehow, more than anything. The kiss lasted as their tongues played tag and their faces caressed; and then Jeff was pulling away again. Something warm and pleasant touched Brian's lips - the head of Jeff's dick. Brian smiled, opened up, took it inside his mouth.

All the while, someone else was gently rubbing Brian's dick. He felt that someone bend down and kiss him there, and knew then that it was Annie. Annie had hold of his dick.

At another time and another place, this would have been a signal for Brian to be alarmed. But somehow, here and now, in this place, it only made him smile. He sucked fondly on Jeff's dick, brought his hands up and lovingly caressed Jeff's thighs and flanks, while the other boy gently rocked upon his chest. Brian felt calm, and he felt wonderfully peaceful. This feeling did not change when Brian felt Annie straddle him down lower, nor in any way edge back to alarm as he felt her fumbling with him; and then something warm and tight slid slowly down over the head and shaft of his dick, and he realized with a start then that he was up inside her, that he was fucking a girl for the first time.

Annie got comfortable, leaned forward against Jeff's back and put her hands on his shoulders; and then she was rocking gently, bringing her hips up and down, and Brian was gasping around the shaft of Jeff's dick. But he couldn't help rolling his own hips, thrusting upwards against Annie as she thrust down against him. This was way, way beyond anything he had ever imagined. He focused on Jeff's dick - or tried to - savoring it inside his mouth, loving it with his tongue, while down lower his own dick plunged in and out in Annie's crotch. A vagrant of a thought passed through Brian's mind - a fervent hope that Annie was on the pill; but the thought was no sooner there than gone again, and it was all that Brian could do to focus on what was going on.

Time passed as the moon gazed down from above, and the corn stalks waved and made tiny sounds of delight in the night.

At some point Brian felt Annie tense, and then she gasped and her thighs tightened against him; it seemed a signal of sorts, and only moments later Brian was gasping himself, his dick throbbing and convulsing as he pumped his cum deep within her. He was aware of his tongue thrusting hard against the underside of Jeff's dick, forcing it against the roof of Brian's mouth; and then Jeff was also shuddering, and Brian felt the warm jets of the other boy's cum as they painted the inside of his mouth. Brian swallowed quickly, taking it as fast as it came, until Jeff gave a little moan and leaned forward onto his hands, his belly hovering over Brian's face.

And then they were done. It had all happened over several minutes of time; but Brian's senses were compressed by his high, and to him it had all been a single moment of the finest pleasure he could ever remember feeling.

Jeff pulled back daintily, and Brian released the other boy's dick from his mouth. He looked up, could see Annie's arms around Jeff's shoulders now, and watched as Jeff raised a hand and gently rubbed her fingers. She made a noise then - a small laugh; and then Brian felt her rise slowly, and felt his softening dick slide out of her. She released Jeff, and climbed off of Brian. Jeff looked briefly over one shoulder, then he was getting up, too, and seating himself next to Brian. Brian sat up slowly, cross-legged, looking at his two friends. Both of them were smiling, their eyes going from Brian to each other, and back again.

Reality started to creep in then, as Brian's high began to wane.

"What the hell did we just do?" Brian whispered, looking at the two of them.

"Fucked the shit out of each other, and a good show it was, too," came another voice. Brian and the others turned to look, and there was JohnyG, Gary, Ed, and Missy, all staring down at them, big grins upon their faces. Missy had her hand to her mouth, a look of plain amazement upon her face; but her smile was somehow accepting, and her eyes twinkled at Annabelle, who simply rolled her eyes and looked as innocent as she could. Ed just beamed, and Brian saw only support in the eyes of his friend.

Annabelle gave a little squeak then, as though just realizing that she was naked, and grabbed at some bit of clothing to hide herself behind; and Brian dropped his hands down to cover his crotch. Jeff did the same, though he was grinning ear-to-ear.

Ed shook his head. "I looked up and you guys were gone. We came looking to make sure you were okay, and here you are having a great little orgy - and you forgot to invite us."

Missy gasped, and reached over and gently smacked Ed's arm.

"What?" Ed said, eying her. "You mean you wouldn't?'

Missy looked again at Annabelle, and the little smile she wore said that of course she would - if she had been asked.

Brian didn't know what to say. Yes, they had all seen Brian fucking Annie. But they also had seen him sucking Jeff's dick. With a start he realized that now there were two more who knew.

But Missy helped him out. She laughed then, and her eyes fastened on Brian's. "I always wanted to see two guys go at it. Thanks, Brian. I'd have never guessed it would be you that would be the one to show me."

Brian didn't know what to say. "I was kind of surprised that that all happened, too."

"Looked to me like you enjoyed it," Missy returned.

Brian sighed. Here was the turning point. He looked at Jeff, and grinned. "I did."

Missy laughed, obviously delighted. "You're walking both sides of the tracks now, kiddo."

Annabelle huffed at that. "Like you should talk, Miss. You sure were happy enough in my bed during our last sleep over."

Missy's jaw dropped, and she squealed. "Annie!"

Brian turned to look at the girl. "What was that?"

Annabelle laughed. "What? Oh, don't look so surprised. It's a lot more common for girls to play, than for guys. I thought you knew that."

"I do now," Brian admitted.

Ed gaped at Missy. "You mean you...and Annie...?"

Missy looked fearful, but nodded.

"Hot!" Ed said, slapping a knee and turning once in a small circle. "Man, that is so hot! Shit, would I have loved to see that!"

Missy gaped, and Brian laughed. "Every guy's fantasy, Missy. Two foxy chicks going at it."

Annabelle reached over and squeezed Brian's arm. Her face glowed as she looked at him. He nodded, mouthed the word foxy again as he smiled at her.

JohnyG and Gary had simply been watching in silence as the friends exchanged words. Now JohnyG raised a hand, and everyone looked at him. "Did I mention that Gary and I are lovers?"

Brian and Jeff both howled, while the girls gaped at the two newcomers.

Only Ed looked unfazed. He shook his head, staring about at the others. "Figures. Everybody's gettin' laid but me."

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