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Once we were home Loren ran upstairs to hit the toilet. Maddy asked me if Ely and I had hit it off.

I told her I thought so and asked if it showed that badly.

“Just a bit sweetie, but don’t let it worry you. I got the feeling that Ely feels the same way.  You guys forget about the rearview mirror and I saw him looking at you in a very special way while you talked with Loren.”

I guess I must have given myself up because she warned me that I needed to take it easy with Ely.

“You know he’s stayed with us when his Mom was working extra hours during the spring home selling season. I don’t suppose you’ll mind sharing your bed with him if he does come over.”

“Probably not” I smirked.

“Well Loren is staying with Jamey this weekend so he won’t intrude on you.”

“Loren doesn’t bug me at all; he just needs a little reassurance sometimes. He’s a good cuddler and I haven’t got tired of that yet,I probably never will.”

Maddy walked over to the stool I was sitting on and hugged me from behind. She put her cheek against mine. I heard here sniff and grabbed a paper napkin from the dispenser and handed it to her.

She wiped her eyes and kissed my cheek and went back to preparing the evening meal.

We heard Bob’s truck roll up and he came through the door in his uniform. All the cop gear made him look even bigger.

He kissed us both and asked about Loren.

“He’s upstairs on the toilet, it seemed urgent.”

“I’ll bet he bought the Hummus in the cafeteria. The stuff goes right through him.”

“So Porter, I have news for you. The prosecutor would like to send someone out and depose you with an eye towards prosecuting Albert. Are you willing?”

“You bet; they need to lock that loony up.”

“Okay, I’ll let them know. They’ll want to schedule something in the next few weeks.”

“Do I have to go back?”

“No, she said they’d send someone here and do it at the local courthouse.”

“Will I have to testify?”

“Eventually, unless he pleas out; which is pretty likely.”

“I heard from Evan today, he’s better and his ear is healing. His parents told him to tell me they were sorry about cutting him off from me.”

“I’m very glad to hear that he’s doing well. It was unfortunate that your relationship got sacrificed by all this.”

“Do either of you believe in fate or karma or anything like that.”

“Well it’s difficult to deny the way things sometimes happen seem to be influenced by some force.”

“What would have happened if you didn’t have to fix that guys tractor?”

“I would have been on the road sooner and we would never have met. Is that what you’re driving at?”

“Yeah, sort of, I mean I would have continued south and maybe someone not like you could have picked me up and then bye, bye, Porter. I’d be in a shallow grave by now or being used up in L.A. like you said.”

“But I did have to fix the tractor and so you think that proves causality of events?”

“I don’t know; I feel like something brought us together and I want to honor that somehow, I just don’t know how.”

“That’s usually a question for later in life but my answer was to do as much good in the world as I could. I know that sounds simplistic but who says it has to be complicated.”

“Is there anything I can read that isn’t full of thou shalt nots; maybe something simple?”

“I have a book on Taoism that’s not overloaded with theology. For the record, I don’t dispute the existence of God or Gods if you will, but when humans get involved and regulate the people’s access to a particular God it’s not a good thing. I just don’t want to base my code of behavior on a book that was written more than three hundred years after the supposed events occurred.”

“I get that Bob and I understand you want me to do my own thinking but what I’m talking about is bigger than that. I’m just trying to get my brain around it.”

“Welcome to the human condition Porter, I really admire your brain baby.”

“Were you talking about the Bible before?”

“Yes I was.”

“Really three hundred years? Are you saying oral tradition is not reliable?”

“Absolutely, have you ever played the game “Telephone” at school or a party?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Okay, this is going to seem weird but I presume you watch the Simpsons yes?”

“Sure everybody does.”

“Okay, there was an episode where the teachers went on strike and Bart was trying to kill a deal Skinner was offering. So he whispered into a person’s ear on one end of the picket line and Krabapple says something about “Purple monkey dishwasher” and then they all go nuts. Do you remember that?”

“Yeah, okay oral tradition can be flawed I get it now.”

“Porter you are a very bright individual, never let anyone tell you different.”

Maddy dropped me at school the next day and I scanned the crowd for Ely, we spotted each other at the same time and waved at each other. I trotted over to where he was.

“Hi Ely, what’s up?”

“Just waiting for school to start, Mike and John are out sick and I have to get their homework for them.”

“What’s wrong with them?”

“Food poisoning, Mike had dinner with John and the take out was bad they figure. John’s Mom and sister are sick too. His brother ate somewhere else and he’s been taking care of them. They’re all getting better now but it might be a couple days before they can come to school.”

“That really sucks.”

“Yeah it does, it’s just you and me today.”

“Hey Ely before I forget, would you like to come stay with me this weekend. Maddy said your Mom had back to back open house things going on. I don’t know what that is but it sounds like you’d be on your own.”

“I’d like that, Bob and Maddy are so nice and Loren’s a neat little kid.”

“Yeah they are.”

“Um why um, oh never mind, I’ll ask you later. But I’m in unless my Mom says no and that’s just not gonna happen.”

The knowledge that I would get to spend the weekend with Ely really buoyed my spirits.

“Hey, you know this is a short week right?” Ely said.

“No, Why?”

“Teacher training day.” said Ely.

“That just means the weekend will be longer.”

“You need to confirm with Maddy though so we don’t screw this up.”

“I can do that.”

“I won’t be here for P.E. Mom is picking me up for a doctor appointment.”

“Are you sick?”

“No just a physical.”

“Cool. I have one scheduled for next week.”

The rest of the week drug its way past and Ely would stay over starting Thursday night. Mike came back Wednesday and John showed up Thursday. Both of them looked pretty weak.

Maddy picked us up from school and we went by Ely’s house to get his bag.

“Where’s Loren?” Ely asked.

“He’s staying at Jamey’s house; they’re camping out in the basement with Walter.”

“That sounds so cool; I never got to do anything like that. My Mom always said no.” I commented.

When we got back home we carried in some groceries for Maddy and took Ely’s bag and book bag up to my room.

“Oh cool, you’re next to Loren; I’ve stayed in this room before. Do you want me to sleep in here or use Loren’s bed?”

“It would be difficult to talk if you’re in the other room but if you’re uncomfortable….”

“Oh no; I just didn’t want to assume.” Ely said.

“Um, you don’t like um wet the bed or anything, do you?” I asked and then grinned.

“Yeah but I usually have to stand on my chair and arc it in.” Ely said trying to suppress a giggle.

“Dude, you were supposed to say no so I could say what you said.” I was giggling too.

“Too bad, you’ll just have to try something else.”

I flopped on my bed hanging my legs off the side and Ely did the same.

“We should do our homework now so we don’t have to think about it for three days.” I suggested.

“I guess they didn’t want us to have any fun tomorrow, the only classes that we don’t have work for are history and P.E.”

“Well history does have a reading assignment but I’ve already read most of the book. I kind of like history. I said.

“Huh, me too; what era do you like best?”

“I suppose the Roman empire and their occupation of Britain I guess.”

“That’s cool, I like the late nineteenth century but the industrial revolution was cool as well.”

“So eighteenth and nineteenth then? I guess it depends if you consider James Watt’s refinements to the steam engine to be the beginning or the looms that were powered by water wheel.” I said.

“Okay, you out nerded me; damn.”

“I was actually asking your opinion but I’ll take it.” I said, grinning.

“But I thought the Romans were your favorite.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t know other stuff. So should we start with algebra?”

“No, I need to get out of these school clothes and into something comfortable.”

“Did you bring a negligee?” I grinned at him again.

“Oh, just a pink teddy and some silk panties.” Ely could take it and hand it back and I respected that.

“That’s so funny man; most guys I know would get all defensive, I think you are pretty cool.”

“Thanks, it’s nice to have someone to spar with. Mike and John are nice guys and they have my back but they aren’t in any of my classes for a reason.”

“You must not lord your brains over them, they seem to like you just fine.”

“We’ve known each other since kindergarten. I only help them when they ask for it and then I just tell them how to find out what they want to know, I don’t do it for them.”

“Yeah, I’ve been through that, eventually they start resenting you for being …I was going to say smarter but I think I’m just better at learning stuff than they were. I had a friend who could pull apart an engine but couldn’t convert fractions to decimals. I couldn’t do that. I showed him the basic method for conversion and after that he was happy.”

“How old were you and how old was he?” Ely asked.

“We were both almost twelve.”

“Were you close friends?” Ely asked.

“We were only friends a little while, his Dad got a new job and they moved. It seemed like every time I had a chance to have a best friend something got in the way. Either they moved or we did. But I mentioned him because he was smart in a way that I wasn’t. But he did get me interested in four wheel drive trucks.”

“Like the Bob monster’s?”

“Hey, Bob’s no monster.”

“It’s okay, I love Bob, He’s done a lot for me. It’s just what we call each other. I’m the Cab monster and he’s the Bob monster. Cab is short for Cabel and that’s my first name.”

“If I tell you my first name will you promise not to laugh?”

“I promise to try not to laugh but you’ve got me pretty wound up so give it a shot.”

“It’s Forrest.” I said.

“Oh man, you had me worried; I was thinking of dead puppies and kittens so I wouldn’t laugh and it’s just Forrest? They could have named you Beauford Blue.”

There was no containing that, I screeched out giggling and so did Ely.

Maddy rapped on the door and told us to get out of our school clothes if we were going to roughhouse.”

“We were just laughing about something that was really funny.” I managed to squeak out.

“Okay then but remember what I said.” She closed the door and I heard her on the stairs.

Ely sat up and started pulling his shoes off. When he finished that he stood up and pulled of his sweater and shirt and undid his pants. I on the other hand just stood there.

“Aren’t you going to change? Dude we undress next to each other all the time in P.E. now you’re shy? I’ve even seen you with a boner.”

He was right, it didn’t take me long to get down to my briefs and tee.

I got a nice look at his butt when he bent over to get his shorts. It was a bad idea because my body started to respond. I practically ran to my dresser to get my own shorts.

Bob and Maddy had taken me out to get new clothes before I started school and it wasn’t Walmart crap either. I figured if I didn’t wear them out Loren or some other kid might get some use out of them. I should mention that I wasn’t really tall at the time but Ely was the same size and build, I guess that’s why I liked him right away, well that and he was really a kind soul. Mike and John were each at least half a foot taller and much bulkier and I don’t mean fat. Ely was agile and a fast runner just like me, we used it to our advantage too. Especially in two on two basketball; I couldn’t shoot that well but I could pass and Ely would put it in. I could get in and steal the ball pretty good as well. We made a good team.

“Those are nice shorts, are they fleece, can I check them out?” Ely asked.

I was expecting him to feel the leg since they went to mid-thigh on me. But he pulled the waist band back and stuck his hand in and felt the fabric inside. The back of his hand was right up against my briefs and my junk.

“Um Ely?”

“That’s really nice, I like fleece, and my sleepers are fleece too.”

Then he removed his hand and went to my desk. “Cool computer, it looks new.”

I must have sounded like Scooby-Doo when I replied, “Huh, what computer?”

“Ely stepped aside and there on my desk was a new Toshiba laptop, I touched the space bar and it woke up and my name was on the screen and the password window was waiting for input. I looked around and then partly closed the screen and a Post it with my name was written on it. I entered it and the computer came to life. I just stared, finally my wits caught up to me and I bolted out the door and down the stairs.

Bob and Maddy were sitting nonchalantly at the kitchen island smirking. Bob pulled out his pocket watch. He carried one because bands that fit him were hard to find and he tended to destroy wrist watches quite quickly.

“Forty-eight minutes, what have you guys been doing up there?”

“Um we were um, is that for me to use?”

“It’s yours; it has been set up with your name. You are also the administrator so you can do the rest of the set-up and if you want to change the name feel free. I just thought you were a little touchy about the other one.” Bob told me.

I couldn’t speak, I had a huge knot in my throat and my eyes were overflowing. I really didn’t want Ely to see me cry but I couldn’t help it. Bob stood up and put his arms around my shoulders and Maddy came in on the other side.

“It was time for you to have what you need Sweetie. We can’t expect good grades if you don’t have the tools you need.”

My throat relaxed enough so I could push out thank you’s for both of them.

“Okay now head on back up there; and do your homework and then remember the horses.”

“I will, maybe I should take care of them first, they need their stalls cleaned and they need to be fed.”

“I’ll help, let’s go get our jeans on and get it done. We can shower after that and then do homework.” Ely chimed in.

“You don’t have to, it’s my job.”

“That’s okay, I like the horses. They’re cool.”

 

The chores went fast and we were back in my room in a very short while.

“Do you want to go first?” I asked.

“Why not go together; we shower together all the time at school.”

“Um okay.” I said with some trepidation.

“Are you worried you’ll get a boner?”

“I always worry about that when I’m naked with guys.”

“Dude everybody gets boners, at our age it happens pretty regular. I almost always bone up in the shower except at school unless we’ve been outside in the cold. Then everybody has one.”

“I guess, I’m just…I don’t know.”

“I promise you that you will retain your virtue.” Ely said with a southern accent.

“Dude! That’s bizarre.”

“Thanks,” Ely said as he tossed his briefs on top of his bag and walked to the bathroom.

“Our shower didn’t go as I had dreamt for several nights running, we didn’t kiss under the torrent of water as it cascaded down our sinewy bodies. In fact, except for scrubbing each other’s backs we didn’t touch. We both boned up and there wasn’t much difference between us in that department.

After drying off and putting our light weight shorts back on we dug into homework and it went pretty fast. Ely had brought a speaker that links to his phone and we listened to music. All I can say about that is that Ely has very eclectic tastes when it comes to music. From beats to Bach to the blues and everything in between; it was something we shared in common.

I received a message from Maddy that dinner was ready if I liked tacos; was she kidding with that? We put on our tees and practically ran to the kitchen.

Maddy looked a little down and I asked her about it.

“I’m fine sweetie, thanks for asking. I just miss my baby boy, I know he’s ten years old but this is only the second time he’s stayed away from home for more than one night.”

“I think I can understand that. But he needs that and I’m glad you let him go. I never got to do any of that stuff. No guests and I didn’t get to stay over at a friend’s place either.”

“I know Porter, but it’s hard on us mothers to let go.”

After dinner we went back up so we could explore on my computer and finish setting it up.

“This thing is smokin’ fast man; they really got you a nice one.”

“I know; I don’t understand it.”

“What’s to understand dude, they obviously care about you. Can’t you tell?”

“But why, I’m just a kid Bob met in a truck stop.”

“He must have seen something in you, someone worth helping.”

“I guess so. I’m just not used to people acting that way.”

“So why were you at a truck stop all alone, I’d have been scared shitless?”

I took a deep breath and told him what happened but not why. Of course that wasn’t enough.

“Why would he hit your friend like that, what could you be doing that would make him try to punch you?”

“I’ll tell you but I’m scared you won’t like me anymore but…I have to be honest with you because I really like you.”

“He hit Evan because we were kissing.”

“Jeez what a freak!” Ely proclaimed.

I started to crumble inside and it must have shown.

“Oh shit, I didn’t mean you. I meant your stepper was a freak. He tried to slug you just for kissing? That’s really fucked up!”

Unfortunately his response was too late to stop me from breaking down and I sat on the edge of my bed and sobbed. But then I felt his arm around my shoulders and he pulled me in tight.

“It’s okay Porter, I understand. I’m sorry I said the wrong thing but that guy has to be a major freak. I’m really glad to hear you nailed him in the balls. I hope it hurt a lot.”

We were both quiet while I calmed down.

“Um do you want to sleep in Loren’s room? I mean I understand if you do but I hope we can still be friends.”

“I thought you were some kind of a brain dude. You really missed all the clues? I mean I’ve caught you looking at me with that sweet dopey look you get, John saw you too. Mike tends to be clueless but they’re my best friends in the world and they know I’m gay. They both have my back. I guess you haven’t caught me looking at you the same way.”

“Um what? You’re gay too?” I asked in an incredulous tone.

“Yeah, I’m gay. Isn’t that what you hoped for?”

I started to lean forward for a kiss and he help up his hand.

“Dude, I want to kiss you too, I’ve wanted to kiss you since they assigned me to be your guide. But I find snot just a little gross so could you like, wash your face first?”

It was what we both needed, I started to laugh and I laughed even harder when I got a look at myself in the bathroom mirror. I was a real mess; if I was a girl my mascara would be all over the place. Ely came in to see what I was laughing at now. I told him and he laughed just as hard at the mental image.

“That’s much better,” Ely said, and then he planted his lips on mine but we kept our mouths shut.”

“What’s wrong,” I asked.

“Taco breath,” Ely responded.

“Mine?”

“Ours, we both need to brush dude.”

“It was a nice kiss anyway, thanks.”

“We’re just getting started, let me get my toothbrush.”

A knock at the door interrupted us, it was Bob.

He handed me a post it and told me it was the Wi-fi password. “Take it easy on the porn okay and don’t show any to Loren, I don’t think he’s ready yet. We can talk about some other rules tomorrow. Maddy and I are turning in so keep it down okay?”

“Okay Bob, we will.”

“Give the password to Ely too; I changed it since his last visit.”

“I will, goodnight Bob and tell Maddy goodnight for me too please.”

“You got it Porter,” and he leaned forward and kissed my cheek and then Ely’s.”

I stood on my toes and kissed him back the same way. “Everyone should get a goodnight kiss.” I told him. Ely kissed his other cheek and he went down the hall as I closed the door.

“Did you see his face Porter; you got him right in the feels.”

“Yeah, neat huh?”

We never got around to looking at any porn; we spent most of our time watching Russians crash into stuff or third world construction methods that didn’t quite work.

We finally tired of the computer and climbed into bed. We cuddled up tight and kissed a little and then we were out.

Published March 13, 2019