Marco in the Park

by Nick Brady

Part 3

We woke up Sunday morning covered by a light sheen of sweat. Despite the open window it was going to be a warm day and it was already muggy. I rolled over and looked at Marco. I expected him to be asleep but saw that his eyes were open. He was lying on his side looking back at me.

"Good morning." I said.

"You look good," he said. "I haven't really taken the time to look at you before."

"Pretty good for an old guy, huh?"

"You aren't that old. You look good, you know, like you are fit. You have a nice body." His eyes were directed at my morning erection.

"Thanks. I try," I smiled.

Marco reached over and felt of my erection, not to get anything started really, just to check me out. "You are furry," he observed, running his fingers over my belly.

"Hey, I thought I took care of you last night," I said.

He grinned. "I thought I took care of you."

I stroked his hair. "It seemed to work out. I think that part of this arrangement will be OK."

He snuggled up and kissed me on the neck. "No complaints from me," hen he stopped and asked. "You got stuff to make pancakes?"

"Yeah, I think so. You want me to make pancakes?"

"I'll make them," he offered. "I make good pancake." Without waiting for an answer he hopped over me and headed for the kitchen.

I could hear him banging around looking for what he needed. "Look in the cabinet to the right of the sink. The griddle is in the oven," I called to him.

I pulled on some running shorts and walked in to see a naked boy mixing pancake batter, a box of Bisquick open on the counter with the carton of milk beside it. He seemed to know what he was doing.

I pulled a cast iron griddle from the oven and set it on the stove, turning on the gas burner. "Here, want some margarine?"

"Yes, thanks," he put a pat on the griddle to melt. "I like to cook them in butter. It makes the edges crispy," he told me.

"Right, me too." We had something else in common.

I got out a bottle of pancake syrup while he began to stack large pancakes on a pair of plates, three cakes to the plate. I started the coffee and set the table. In a few minutes we were ready and began to devour his efforts.

"Good cakes." I complimented the chef.

"Good old Bisquick. You can make all kinds of things with it, even biscuits," he grinned. We washed them down with coffee and I started a second pot.

He leaned back and belched. "I need to do laundry."

"There is a load in the basket. We can do them together."

"Where is the laundry room? You got soap?" He was all business.

"Laundry soap is under the sink, washers are on the first floor," I told him. "They are coin operated."

"I got some quarters from last night," he said and stood, gathering up the dishes to rinse them in the sink.

"Leave those for later," I instructed him. "I can show you where the washers are."

He went in the bedroom and returned with the basket of dirty clothes. He had added the towels from the bathroom. "Anything else?"

"Well, you might want to put something on," I called attention to his state of undress.

"I will," he grinned. "You ready?"

"Yes, but we aren't in that big a hurry. Let me finish my coffee." I pulled out the cigarettes and laid them on the table. He took one and waited while I lit up and handed him my lighter. We smoked and drank coffee for a few minutes.

"I'm a pretty good cook," he informed me.

"You make good pancakes," I agreed.

"I can cook other stuff too. Whatever you want."

I laughed. "I can cook. I don't expect you to do everything."

"Well sure, but I like to cook. I really don't mind. And I will clean up my own mess too," he assured me.

I finished my coffee. "I appreciate that. We will end up sharing a lot of things I guess. We can figure that out as we go." This was definitely a good sign. "You about ready?"

Marco jumped up and went in the bedroom, returning in a pair of gym shorts and sneakers. "Ready."

He grabbed the laundry basket and started down the stairs. I picked up the box of soap and followed, admiring his backsides as he went ahead of me. We were off to a good start but I had to wonder if this would fade after he went off his initial best behavior. Time would tell.

Down in the laundry room we tossed our combined dirty clothes in a washer and fed it coins. We managed to get it all in one load without crowding. He had his work jeans and white shirt and the socks and underwear he wore the day before. I had only a little more. I spotted his white shirt with some Spray & Wash before we threw it in.

We sat back and smoked while watching the soapy window. He had picked up the Sunday paper and pulled out the comic section and read it, then handed it to me. While I chuckled at the comics he started looking through the help wanted.

"Are you serious about finding a second job?" I asked.

"Sure, if I can find something that pays anything. Flipping burgers is not high on my list," he answered.

"What else can you do? I mean, what are your job skills?"

He didn't look up from the paper. "Anything that pays good. I never waited tables before Luigi."

"He didn't require experience?"

"I told him I had experience," he said and looked up at me. "I did OK, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did great," I chuckled. I had to grant the kid was resourceful.

"Marketing position, good pay, training provided," he read to me.

"They want you to sell magazines," I suggested.

"Forget that," he shrugged and looked some more.

"Experienced forklift operator, $15.00 an hour, benefits," how about that?

"You have to have a license and probably they do better fact checking than Luigi."

"Oh, OK." He looked some more.

"Bicycle courier, Part time. Mercury Courier," he read. "What's that?"

"That might be worth looking into. Can you ride a bicycle?"

"Sure. I don't have a bike right now, but I can ride real good. I used to do BMX stunts and stuff," he explained. "What does a courier do?"

"You are basically a messenger boy. One place gives you a document or small package to express to another place. It is for things that need to be delivered in a hurry."

"Cool. I saw a movie about that one time. Does it pay?"

"I think it can if you hustle. People call a service to get a courier, they give you an address and you go get whatever it is and boogie over to where it goes. The service will pay you to make the delivery and the recipient will likely tip you if you are quick about it."

Marco looked interested. "Hey, I can do that. Do you have to ride a long way?"

"I imagine if you are expected to use a bicycle it will be intra-city, maybe across town but local."

"What do you think?" he asked me.

I laughed. "If you hustle you might make some money at it. The sooner you finish one delivery the sooner you can make another. They will use the guys that are fast so if they like you they will keep you busy. Plus, you can choose your hours. All you really need is a cell phone and a bicycle once you get started with them."

"That will work! But I need a bike. I bet I will have enough to buy a cheap bike after I get paid tonight."

The washer stopped and we tossed the damp laundry into a spin dryer and started watching a different glass window.

"Actually, I think the courier service might be a good fit for you," I suggested. "The thing is that you will need a pretty decent bicycle. A BMX won't cut it. You need both speed and reliability. There are lots of different kinds of bicycles and some will be better to use as a messenger bike. I couldn't really advise you but a good bike shop can."

"I don't know. How much would that cost me?"

"I thought a minute. "The bike won't be cheap, plus you will need a good helmet and maybe pads, I don't know. I'm guessing about five or six hundred dollars all together, maybe more. It would be like an business investment, really."

Marco looked thoughtful. "I understand. But I won't have that much for a week or so. Besides, I want to give you something for staying with you, you know, like rent and groceries." He picked the paper back up and kept looking.

"Hang on Marco. Before you give up on the idea, let's talk about this. Why don't you call the courier people and then look at bikes tomorrow when the bike shops open to see what they have. There are a couple within walking distance of our apartment. Tell them what you are looking for, see what they recommend, and we can talk about it. We might be able to work something out."

Marco frowned. "I don't want you to loan me the money, Marty. I need to do this myself."

"Let's see where you are after you get paid tonight. I might invest in you a little. This is part of that mutual trust thing, OK?"

Marco hesitated. "I would hate for you to feel like you have to do this."

"If I did loan you the money, would you pay me back?" I asked him.

"Well sure, but...." He was thinking.

The bell on the dryer dinged and we loaded the warm clothes back in the laundry basket. The conversation went on pause as he carried our clean wash back upstairs.

We sat next to each other on the couch and sorted out out stuff into mine and his piles. There was not that much there. "What do you think?" I asked him.

He was quiet for a minute. "If I need to borrow from you, I will pay you back as soon as I can," he said. "I can pay you some interest too."

I just looked at him. "I appreciate that. But this is an investment, not a loan. If we are to make a go of this, it is in my best interest for you to be successful."

He had finished sorting his small pile of clothing and sat looking at it. "That's really nice of you Marty."

"You already said I was a nice guy. Besides, it is what friends do for friends."

He picked up his things and took them into the bedroom, put away his socks and underwear and was getting out the iron and ironing board when I joined him. I sat on the bed and watched him press his black jeans and white shirt.

"OK. I'll go look at bikes tomorrow and we can talk about it when you get home from work," he said. "I can walk to Luigi's this afternoon and back home after work," he said.

"No, I can take you, and come get you," I insisted. "I would rather you not walk back here late at night."

He was quiet a minute then said. "Thank you, Marty."

I went in the kitchen and fixed us a sandwich and pulled out a bag of chips and a couple of sodas.

I asked. "How well do you know the city? I mean the layout of the streets and like that?"

"Not all that well," he admitted.

"I have a city map. Why don't you start looking at it and try to get your bearings, especially the city center," I suggested. "It's not bad. The city is mostly laid out in a grid with named streets one way and numbered streets the other."

I found the map and he sat on the couch and studied it until time to get ready for work. "I think I can do this," he said after a bit.

I smiled at him. "Sure you can."

I dropped him off at Luigi's at a quarter of 4:00 and drove back to the apartment. I was feeling better about this all the time. I definitely had not acquired a freeloader. He wanted to be independent. It would not hurt to give him a hand up.

I looked up the address of two bike shops within walking distance, recalling that I knew a guy that worked at one of them. Wayne was an alright guy. I might give him a call later. I knew a little about bicycles but not nearly as much as he did. We would see.

Marco called at 9:30. "I should be off at 10:00, but might be a little late. It depends on how quick Luigi is with his check book."

"I'll be outside," I assured him.

At 10:20 Marco came out with a smile on his face and handed me an envelope that felt kind of heavy. "That is tonight's cash tips plus the tips from Friday. I forgot to pick them up when you kidnapped me," he grinned.

"Loot!" I tossed the envelope in my hand.

"And a check!" Marco waved another thin envelope at me.

I decided to wait until we got home to ask how much that was. "Home," I thought to myself. That already feels right.

Back at our kitchen table I opened a pair of sodas and we sat down. First I had him count out the cash. It was $205.25. With the money from the night before, he had $327.75 in cash. He was all smiles.

"So how much is the check?" I asked.

"I don't know. I haven't looked," he said.

"Let's open the envelope," he made a show of holding it up and opening it like it was an academy award. "Ta-da! Wow, $320.50! What is that?" He closed his eyes and made a mental calculation. "$648.25! I'm rich!" he laughed out loud. "Hey, I can buy a bike with that!"

"You are off and rolling," I laughed with him. "Way to be Marco. You are doing great!"

He looked very surprised. "You know, I really had no idea you could make that much money waiting tables. That is pretty good."

"It is more than I would have guessed.Luigi's is a nice restaurant and does a lot of business. I know that you will make more on weekends than the weeknights. Maybe that first weekend was just exceptionally good for some reason, but if you can average five hundred dollars a weekend that is a heck of a good part time job."

"No kidding." Marco had sort of a dazed look in his eyes. "I wonder what a bike courier can make? Not so much I bet."

"I couldn't tell you," I admitted. "You should ask Mercury Courier what you might expect. I have a friend at one of the bike shops that might be able to give you some advice too."

"OK. I will check that out tomorrow. This sounds like fun," he said. "Where are the shops?"

"There are two in this area and I think they're both pretty good. The guy I know is Wayne at 'City Cycle'. The other place is 'Road Bikes'. I wrote down their addresses and phone numbers."

"It is 11:00 PM now and I have to be at work by 8 o'clock in the morning," I said. "I'm pooped and really need to get to bed pretty soon."

"I'm tired too, and coated with olive oil and garlic butter," Marco joked. "I'm going to take a shower." He smiled, dropped his clothing and walked into the little bathroom. I suddenly felt the need to shower.

I undressed and followed Marco into the bathroom, my eyes on his beautiful ass He stepped in and began to adjust the water. Repeating our previous ritual , I stepped in behind him and waited while he wet himself under the shower head. He stepped aside and I replaced him. This time he took the bath gel and began to wash me, starting with my hair, then down my body.

When his face came level with my cock he took me into his mouth and began to suck. I took a double fist full of his long black hair and held on as my knees buckled He stood up and laughed at my wide eyed expression, then turned and backed into me, rubbing his butt against my erection. I wrapped my arms around his waist and he pulled my hands down to grasp his dick. He hunched himself into my fist and wiggled his ass.

Smiling, he took the gel and lathered his own hair then laid his head on my chest, inviting me to wash him. Working my hands through his hair was such an erotic activity. I ran my fingers through the long black strands and arranged them over his back and shoulders. Taking the suds in my hands I rubbed around his back and down the crack of his ass, over his chest and stomach, across his hips and down the length of his shapely legs, pressing my face into his luscious pubes, pulling the end of his cock into my mouth. He wrapped his arms around my head and hugged me close, leaned over and kissed the back of my neck. We stood and rinsed, then shared a towel, drying each other, turning, wiping, rubbing the rough toweling into all the damp places.

Tossing the damp towel over his shoulder, he stepped in front of me and reached back to take hold of my erection and tugged me over to the bed. I followed obediently, allowing myself to be playfully led by this boy. It was a game, and I went willingly. No doubt we would play other games where I would take the lead, but this was his turn to be in charge.

Once in the bed he laid back and raised his arms and legs, inviting me to lie on him and cuddle. He wrapped me in his embrace and held me tight, moving against me in a most provocative way. I buried my face into his wet hair and breathed in his fragrance. He smelled like bath gel with a hint of garlic butter. It was very nice, Eau de Luigi.

Then we kissed. Not rough, not passionate exactly, but full of tender affection. This sweet boy was like no one else I had ever been with. He was more than good, more than a just a skillful lover. He took my breath away. He was not playing now, but giving himself to me without reservation. I was not a virgin, but this was like a first time. Neither was he a virgin, but I knew this was a new experience for him too.

He reached under his hips and guided me towards himself, opening the door to let me inside. It was so inevitable that I should enter him that it required no decision on either part. If I were required to explain what happened I would be unable to find the words to do so. We simply melted together and became one body, moving and thrusting against each other, sharing ourselves without reservation. There was no resistance, no hesitation, just the conclusion of what was destined to happen. I made no decision to empty myself into him, he made no decision to receive me, we just joined ourselves together completely.

After the lightning stopped flashing, I looked down at him to see a pool of white on his belly. It was not mine. He had come to the same conclusion as I, and at the same time. It was a single orgasm that involved us both. I felt a terrible urge to tell him that I loved him, that he was the only one I would ever love, and I saw the reply in his eyes. But we seemed not able to speak. It was a moment too sweet to spoil with words so we simply held each other. This was magic, powerful magic and words might undo the spell.

He took the towel that he had brought to bed, and gently began to wipe us clean. Turning towards me, we held each other and felt the waves of pleasure pass between us. From the time we began to shower until we fell asleep, there were no words spoken. There were no words that needed to be spoken. This was bliss.

The next morning the alarm on my cell phone jangled me awake at 7:00. I looked over at the empty bed and wondered about Marco, then smelled bacon. I dressed, stumbled through the bathroom and into the kitchen. There was my beautiful boy standing naked at the stove. He had made biscuits and was turning the bacon grease into gravy, adding milk, salt and black pepper, and stirring it into creamy perfection.

"You need an apron," I told him. "You will burn yourself."

"I'm careful," he said without looking back. "There is coffee in the pot." He added.

I sat down at the table and waited patiently for my breakfast. "Where did you learn how to make biscuits and gravy?" I asked.

"In the Boy Scouts."

"Were you in the scouts?"

"For a little while."

"How long were you in the scouts?"

"Long enough to learn how to make biscuits and gravy." he glanced back at me and smiled.

He set the biscuits and cooked bacon on one plate, laid two more plates on the table and poured the gravy into a cereal bowl. This and a pair of knives, forks and spoons were set beside them and he joined me.

"Chow down," he said.

I began to eat. It was good. "You are a man of many talents," I remarked.

"Thank you," he smiled.

I stopped chewing to say. "I get out of my office about 5:00 unless I get stuck on something. I guess I will see you when I get home."

"Right," Marco nodded. "I will check out that bike shop this morning."

"Which one?"

"City Cycle first. You said you knew a guy there. Wayne, right?"

"Right. I don't know him real well, but he seems like a good guy. He knows about bicycles."

"How do you know him? I mean, were you looking at bikes or something?"

I chuckled. "I've never been in the bike shop. I know him from church."

"Church? You go to church?" Marco looked surprised.

Now I laughed. "Not every Sunday, but often enough."

The look had turned to almost a frown. "We're gay, we're both going to hell, what's with church?"

I wasn't sure if he was serious. "Not all churches preach that kind of thing. I certainly don't believe it."

Marco looked unconvinced. "How far are you from your job? What time do you have to be there?"

"About 10 minutes, and 8 o'clock," I told him. "I have a little time before I go."

Marco picked up the dishes and put them in the sink. "I'll get that before I go. The bike shop doesn't open until 9:00."

I leaned back and lit a smoke. "Thanks for the biscuits and gravy."

"If it's OK, I can fix something for supper so you can eat when you get home," he offered.

"That's alright, you don't have to do all the cooking. Besides, I don't have much in the fridge."

Marco smiled. "Hey, I like cook, and I have some money that's burning a hole in my pocket. Let me fix supper. We can take turns if you like."

"How can I refuse? Fix what you like, I'll eat almost anything as long as it's not greasy."

"I cook healthy, and I thin you'll like it."

"Right. Well, I need to get to work. If you need to get hold of me during the day, it's OK to call my cell phone. If I don't answer, leave a message or text me, and I'll get back to you."

"We are connected," he said, looking serious.

"How do you mean?"

"We are already starting to look after each other, you know what I mean?"

I nodded. "I know what you mean. I would have to say that we are off to a good start. Maybe we both want this to work out.,How do you feel?"

"Happy." he smiled. "I feel really happy."

I left him sitting there, and drove myself to work. In the office parking lot I made a phone call. On the second ring I heard:

"City Cycles, Wayne speaking."

"Hey Wayne, this is Marty, from church?"

"Sure, what can I do for you Marty?"

"I am sending a kid to see you. His name is Marco and he wants to talk about a messenger bike. I just wanted to tell you that he is a really good kid and could use a break. See what you can do for him, OK?

"Sure Marty. I will see what I can do. Advice is free, you know."

"That's it, you doing OK?"

"Never better. Talk to you later. Bye"

Once in the office I was consumed by the busyness of that world. here were brief times we I did not think of my Marco, but he was always in my head.

At 3 o'clock my cell phone dinged and I saw a text from him. "Wayne is a good guy, cul8r"

I texted him back. "cul8r." We were speaking in a new tongue.

I got back to the apartment at 5:30 and walked in to the smell of food. Marco was standing at the stove, dressed in jeans and t-shirt this time.

"What's for dinner?" I asked, walking up behind him and sniffing.

"I hope you like fish," he said over his shoulder. "It will just be a minute. I hope you're hungry."

I sat and sipped at a soda while Marco put the finishing touches on our dinner. The table was properly set with plates, cutlery, and neatly folded squares of paper towel for napkins. Soon the air was filled with a wonderful aroma. I looked over just in time to see the lid come down over the frying pan.

"Damn, Marco. What are you creating over there? It smells wonderful!"

He looked over his shoulder and shot me a grin. "Nothing complicated, really."

After a few more minutes of exquisite waiting, he served us dinner: Poached salmon, baked sweet potatoes, and a nice green salad with Italian dressing. I looked it over. The salmon had a nice sear to the outside but was just cooked through, very moist and tender. The baked sweet potatoes had been split and popped open with a cube of butter melting in the center. The green salad was a toss of shredded lettuce, baby spinach, sliced tomatoes and avocado.

"Marco! This is amazing," I gushed. "Where did you learn to cook like this? Not from your mother, I think."

He laughed. "No, all my mother knew how to do was burn toast and order pizza. My friend's dad showed me some things."

We tucked into the food. Between moans of appreciation I asked. "Tell me about your friend's dad. Is this where you used to escape to at night?"

"Yes. He was a good guy. There were four kids in the family and usually a couple of their friends at supper time and they always just fed whoever was there. I think his wife was a good enough cook, but he enjoyed cooking and did a lot of it. She liked to bake. She would always have a pie or a cake for dessert, and cookies in a jar," he was smiling as he recalled his time with that family.

"So he taught you how to cook like this?"

"Right. He always said that good food was all about starting with fresh ingredients and paying attention to what you were doing. He claimed that he never spent more than 30 minutes fixing a meal. And he didn't like fancy stuff, you know, lots of weird ingredients and fussing around. He cooked all kinds of things and it was always good."

"I thought you learned how to make biscuits and gravy in the Boy Scouts?"

"Well I kind of did. Grant, his name was Grant, he had a scout troop and I wasn't really in scouting but he let me tag along on some camp outs. That man could cook anything in a Dutch oven. He made a pineapple upside down cake in a Dutch oven one time," Marco shook his head.

"It sounds like you knew them for a long time. I thought you and your mom moved around a lot."

"We did, but it was always in the same part of town. Grant and his family lived in the same house as long as I knew them."

"Do you still keep in touch with them?"

He hesitated. "Well, not so much lately."

"Why not? Did something happen?"

Marco sighed and looked up from his plate. "His wife divorced him and he moved away about a year ago.

I was surprised. "That sounded like the ideal family. What happened?"

Marco shrugged. "I don't know all the details, but I know he drank a lot. It wasn't always obvious, but he usually had a drink going. I think maybe he got handsy with some of the boys in his scout troop."

"Really? Did he ever do anything to you?"

"No!" Marco said emphatically. "I know he liked it if I hugged him and he was always very friendly, but he never bothered me. I mean, not like that."

"So he was a good guy?"

Marco nodded his head. "Yeah, he was good to me. I really liked him. I think he got in trouble with a kid named Austin."

"Who was Austin?"

"Just a kid in his troop. He was a few years older than me. I know he was a horny bastard, and he had a big mouth." Marco shrugged like that was all he wanted to say.

The food had been devoured and now we were just sitting and talking. "You ready for dessert?" He asked, brightening with a smile.

"Really? What's for dessert?"

"Apple pie. Well it's just a bakery pie, but it looked good. Want some?"

"Bring it on." Marco was on a roll.

He cleared the table, leaving our forks, and came back with two slices of pie.

"You know, this was a really nice dinner, Marco. But salmon is expensive. We can't afford to eat like this all the time."

"It wasn't that bad," he assured me. "But anyway I wanted this to be special."

"It was very special. Thank you." I gave him a big smile. "I had guessed that I might have to look after you. It looks like you are taking care of me."

"I was thinking that we could look after each other," he said and looked thoughtful. "You know, this is what I have always wanted."

I didn't quite know what to say. I kept thinking I wanted to tell him I loved him, but knew that once said, that could not be unsaid.

"My turn to do the dishes," I stood and took the pie plates to the sink.

"You wash and I will dry," he bargained with me.

We stood at the sink while I washed the dishes and handed them to him to be dried and put back in the cabinet. When they were put away and the cooking utensils stashed, we sat on the sofa to talk.

"I don't have a TV," I said. "I bet you like to watch TV."

"Not so much. My mother had the TV going all the time, but most of it was like Jerry Springer crap. The only thing I ever watched were ball games, but that's no big deal" he shrugged. "Grant had a TV but we never watched it."

"Grant was important to you, wasn't he?"

Marco sighed."I guess he was about the closest thing I ever had to a dad."

I put my hand on Marco's shoulder. "Where is he now?"

"I don't know," he shrugged again. "He moved somewhere."

"If he was still there would you have gone to him? I mean like you have come to me?"

He shook his head. "No, that wouldn't have worked out. I wouldn't want to live with him. I'm not looking for a father. I'm almost 17, I don't really need that now."

We sat quietly for a few minutes. "I'm glad you are here," I told him.

He looked at me. "So am I. I will make this work out, you'll see. You will be glad I am here with you."

"I think I already am," I admitted. "But you don't have to knock yourself out all the time. I am OK with your being here."

I ran my fingers through his hair, pulling it back from his face. "So tell me about the bike shop."

"Oh, right. Wayne remembered you. He says hello. He talked to me quite a long time."

"Did you decide anything?" I asked.

"I did, but I wanted to talk to you first."

"Hey, this is your decision," I reminded him.

"I know, but I wanted to talk to you about it. Whatever I decide is going to affect you if I am living here."

"I understand. Tell me about it."

"OK. First of all I called Mercury courier service and asked about the job. The guy said that there are two options. They will pay a set hourly rate to do deliveries, or a commission based on the value of the each run. The hourly rate is basically minimum wage which is what now, $6.50 an hour? I guess that might appeal to somebody who is hoping to sit on his butt most of the time."

"Doesn't sound like you," I suggested.

"Not hardly. But the by the run should be better. They don't pay the same for every run. I guess there is some sort of scale that people pay for the service which depends on the value they place on prompt delivery."

"How does that work?" I asked.

"He told me the customer calls and says he has something that has to be delivered real quick. If you can do it in his time frame he will pay a premium, which means the courier service makes more, and I make more. The service will refer those kinds of runs to couriers who establish a reputation for being fast and not messing up. Then you get to be an elite courier I guess. Sounds kind of fun."

"I don't know much about being a bicycle courier but I have heard it is pretty dangerous. What happens if you get run over?"

"Actually, we talked about that. I guess there is a small chance you might get run over by a truck or something," he grinned. "The courier service recommends insurance. You don't have to take it out, but they strongly encourage it. They don't provide the insurance but I can buy it through them for $50.00 a month."

"What does it cover?"

"It's not like, health insurance. It just covers injuries while I am riding for the courier service. The guy said it might sound expensive but if I do get hurt it will pretty much pay for everything."

"I think if you are going to do this you will need to protect yourself. That's what is called the cost of doing business."

"Yeah, that's what the Mercury guy said. I will take it I think," Marco agreed.

"So I guess the bottom line is, what can you make?"

"I'm not interested in anything that just pays minimum wage. Trying to establish myself as an elite courier would be more fun and pay better. But still, it isn't that much, maybe $12 to $15 an hour. But then sometimes you can get tips on top of that."

"Does that sound like something you would like to do?"

"I'm really thinking about it. Let me tell you about my conversation with your friend Wayne."

"OK, shoot."

"Wayne was very positive about being a courier. He suggested that it might pay better than I thought if I got really good at it. Then we talked about bikes."

"What does he recommend?"

He told me that what I wanted was a fixed speed bike. It has only one gear which is kind of a high gear, but they are very tough and reliable. I never had a multi-speed bike anyway, so that sounds OK by me.

Marco began to show some excitement. "The thing is, in the center city it is pretty flat, so you don't really need low gears, especially once you get moving. See, a bike can dart around and get through traffic when a car would have to slow down or stop. The idea is that you get to rolling and don't slow down. That's why couriers use bicycles."

"You know, that does sound like it could be dangerous."

"Well, I guess it could be, but not so much if you keep your eyes open and are careful. I mean, the bike does have good front and rear hand brakes, but if you are quick and evasive, you can dart around or through most things."

I started to laugh. "I can see that this might appeal to you."

"Oh yeah." He was grinning from ear to ear. "It sounds like fun. Not to mention that it is great exercise. Think of what great shape I will be in."

I was shaking my head. "So what sort of investment will you have to make in equipment?"

"OK!" Now Marco was really getting wound up. "He has an entry level fixed speed bike for about $450 dollars. Wayne suggested a State Trooper, State is the make and Trooper is the model. He says it is a really solid bike and will hold up under a lot of pounding. Not bad, but he has a better deal."

"The bike to have is a State Contender. It has a lighter frame and better components and sells new for $650.00, but! He has a used one that he says is just like new. This guy bought it for a road bike then decided he wanted something else. It has a 52 cm frame which is just the right size for me."

Marco paused and gave me a serious look. "How well do you know Wayne?"

"I just know him from church. We aren't buddies or anything. But I do know that he is a stand up guy, Why?"

"Well, he will sell me this like new $650.00 bike for $300.00 and I think that's a pretty good deal."

"It sounds like a terrific deal. Did you offer him a blow job or something?"

"No!" Is he gay?" Marco looked surprised.

I had to laugh out loud. "I don't think so. I was just kidding you."

"Well, what do you think?"

I thought a minute. "Maybe there is something wrong with it."

"Not that I can tell. I rode it out to the street and around for a few blocks. It rides so smooth, Marty. It just glides along so nice!"

"You like it," I suggested.

"Oh yeah!" he grinned. "I love it! And the best part is that it is still under warranty and they will take care of anything that goes wrong during the first year. Providing I don't wreck it or something."

It was such a joy to see him excited. "It sounds like you have already made up your mind. It does sound like a great deal."

"Yeah, I guess I have decided to do this," he grinned.

"Don't you need some accessories, like a good helmet and whatever?"

"Right, a helmet and bike shorts, maybe some knee and elbow pads. A good bicycle lock for sure. Like another $150.00 worth of stuff. I will figure that out when I get the bike."

"For a total investment of $450.00 dollars, right?" I summarized. "You already have the money and don't require any loans from anybody. You have thought this through. If nothing else, you will have a cool bike to ride. What's the problem? I think you should go for it."

Marco jumped up from the kitchen table and started bouncing up and down with joy, his long hair flying around in all directions. The savvy young businessman had morphed into an excited little kid. He grabbed me in a big hug and smashed a kiss into me.

"Thank you, thank you!" He cried.

"Wait, slow down. Don't thank me, I haven't done anything. This is all your deal!"

He continued to bounce. "But I couldn't do this without you. I am so free! I feel like I can do anything!"

He buried his face in my neck and I held him tight. "This is all you, Marco. I am very proud of you for working all this out. I believe you can do anything you set your mind to."

He kissed me again. "I am going to make you really proud of me Marty. I promise!"

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