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tutoring jerry

Chapter Seventeen - Meet, Greet, Dance, Barf, Sigh

Ty and I stumbled into the kitchen, tired and groggy. Mom and Dad looked a little uneasy, since they didn't know how things had gone with us. They knew we had shared my bed instead of him sleeping on the couch, and I'm sure they were curious as to how things stood. I would have been, if I were them.

Our condition mirrored the charcoal skies outside. We could barely hold our heads up, let alone try to give them any reassurances that everything was ok-- kind of. I mean, everything was kind of ok, like, he seemed to have forgiven me, but everything wasn't ok in my head. I was consumed with guilt.

That dream. God, it was so... vivid, so real, so evil and cold. I sat there still almost speechless wondering how my mind could possibly create such evil. It made me wonder about myself, wonder if I was really as nice and sincere as I thought I was. Eating my cereal at the quiet table, everybody focusing on their own thoughts, I looked around guiltily, having to remind myself that I was the only one who'd had the dream; they wouldn't know I had those unspeakable images and thoughts in my head.

Dad was distractedly reading the paper, while Mom was swirling her weight loss shake around in her glass and watching the slimy foam cling thickly to the sides and ooze slowly down. Ty was gripping the spoon handle in his fist, shoveling Wheaties into his mouth and dripping milk down his chin. He caught himself and glanced around self-consciously. He slowed down, looked at how I held my spoon and tried to copy me. After a fumbling try or two, he gave up and held it in his fist again but ate slower.

Pretending to read it, I positioned the cereal box to hide my face and sank further into my guilt as I realized I didn't want him there. His presence was a constant reminder of what I'd done to him and what I still felt for him, and it interfered with what I really wanted to do: wallow in Jerry's love. I know that sounds cold. I know that, dammit! I didn't want him gone permanently or anything like that, I just wanted some time to kinda figure things out and, yeah, to get to know Jerry better. I still wanted to be Ty's friend, and yes, I still loved him. I dunno, I was sorta depressed and didn't know what to do, and the dark, cloudy day didn't help my mood.

I was just so overwhelmed and reeling from all that had happened. Everything seemed to have fallen into some big soap opera-- only on fast forward. All I needed now was to get amnesia, or find out Jerry was my dad's love child or something. But really, I wasn't able to keep up with things, couldn't digest it all fast enough. I was desperate for life to slow down! Give me a chance to breathe! Give me some time to absorb all these incredible changes in my life. Pace things a little, please!

Nobody really said much at the table, or as we gathered up our things and walked out to the car. But as we strapped ourselves into our seats for the drive to school, Ty presented me with a partial solution, "Ummm... I think I'm gonna head back down to Galveston... stay at Jet `n Celia's for a while."

I started the engine. "Yeah?"


"What you gonna do, hitch-hike?"


"Oh." This wasn't good. I mean, I was ready for him to go there for a while-- and hopefully come back or something-- but I had always viewed hitch-hiking as dangerous, and didn't like the idea of him putting himself at risk, even though I was aware that was how he always got around. And I couldn't be sure just how well he had adjusted, even if we had really seemed to work through things last night. Then I remembered, "Well, uh, Jerry and I were talkin' about goin' down and stayin' at his parent's beach house this weekend-- `course that was when I thought I'd hafta go down there and look for you."

"You were gonna look for me?" He looked over at me with a surprised hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth.

I glanced at him and smiled back. "Well of course I wanted to look for you. I was freaked out at how you disappeared into thin air. I had to talk with you, y'know?"

"Cool," he mumbled.

There was silence for a bit, then I said, "Uh, if we still go down there, we'd be goin' sometime after school, like maybe around five or six. If ya want, I could give you a ride."

"I'm useta hitchin'," he waved me off as if he didn't want to be a bother.

"Well, it's a whole lot better if ya have just one ride, isn't it?"

"Yeah, guess so."

I quickly found out that Tyson wasn't interested in hanging around wasting a day at school, but I convinced him to stay till I could let him know if Jerry still wanted to go down there. I decided I would give him a ride regardless, and just come on back if Jerry no longer wanted to go.

It took me until the break between first and second periods before I found Jerry. Talking fast, I told him Tyson had showed up and was gonna go and said I'd really like it if Jerry was ok with me taking him down there. Jerry was not just a little anxious about me being alone with Tyson, and I had to give him a very brief rundown of what happened last night. He freaked out at hearing that I had blacked out, his near-panic reaction was really touching, but I let him know I was okay, we were cool, all that. He still looked concerned and I could tell he sensed things weren't all settled for me, but as we started trotting away from each other to not be late, he shouted back, "Okay, Galveston it is."

Lunchtime we met away from the masses of students on the commons, back behind F-Building, and I had more time to talk and get him feeling more comfortable with the idea. I told Jerry all the details about last night, leaving out most of the conflict and guilt I was feeling-- which he knew I was feeling-- and the dream, which I still felt uncomfortable about. I knew I would tell him all of it later, but I wanted to do it when it felt right, like maybe after I figured out just what it all meant to me

Jerry had told Dave where we'd be, and he showed up just as I finished, all smiles, and talked with us for a bit. When we got back to the subject of the trip, he thought it sounded great. I could tell he wanted to come and be with us, even though I really wanted it to be just the two of us, and so did Jerry. But as we talked and Dave's enthusiasm for a Galveston trip escalated, we both gave in and let it evolve into a group trip rather than a romantic weekend getaway; we'd have that another time.

The thing that struck me as we talked with Dave was how Jerry and I were communicating so much with just glances and body language, or just a word, that both of us knew covered a whole conversation. My parents did that kind of thing all the time, but they had history. I got goosebumps at one point and just felt so much love. I had to force myself to stop staring at him with such obvious stars in my eyes, as a few people were walking by us and hanging around not too far away.

Jerry giving me soulful, smoldering glances-- and consequently an erection I had to hide-- didn't help. Dave even commented laughingly, "God, you two, go get a room! You're practically fucking each other right here with your eyes anyway." Jerry and I both blushed and laughed with him.

A couple of Jerry's jock friends from the basketball team happened by and tried to get him and Dave to come with them and hang out over by A-Building with their group, not acknowledging my presence as they talked. When they declined, the guys walked on but stopped about thirty yards away and looked like they were discussing us, glancing back over their shoulders with suspicious-- and I thought hostile-- looks. Jerry and Dave were facing me and didn't see this. I didn't want to say anything and risk Jerry confronting them, so I just ignored them, and they moved on. Jerry had just gone on with the conversation without having seen the kind of looks they had been giving.

I had assumed we would be going in separate cars, but Jerry all but insisted we ride together. We discussed getting Tyson to ride in the same car, and Jerry declared he wanted to let Tyson know he was over it all and that he was welcome to ride with us. He finally convinced me to take him to Ty so he could speak to him. I reluctantly agreed and Dave asked if he could come and stand back out of the way. He said he just wanted to see Tyson, to confirm he was who he was thinking he was.

Ty had been waiting in back of the cafeteria, not wanting to see Jerry anymore than Jerry had wanted to see him. He stood up with a defensive posture when he saw us approaching, Dave trailing behind. His eyes darted between us nervously, though we were smiling. He relaxed a little when we got to him but looked warily at Jerry.

Jerry tensely offered his hand for a shake. Ty looked at it like it was a deadly snake at first, but finally accepted it and shook reservedly. I called Dave over to introduce him, and Ty looked at him with recognition from their shared class. "I've seen you. You're in my history class," he said with no inflection.

Dave nodded and flashed a surprisingly shy smile that was just too cute, "Nice t' meet you, Tyson." He held Ty's hand a little longer than anyone expected, and Ty looked uncertainly at him, then looked back at me and gave a look like, `What's going on?'

I realized I hadn't even mentioned Dave in our conversations last night, so Tyson had no clue who he was, let alone that he was gay too. But I was sure he was much more concerned about why I had brought Jerry to meet up with him.

I started, "Uh, Ty..."

Jerry interrupted me, "Tyson, uh, look, I want you to know I don't have any kinda hard feelings or anything like that. I wanna say... I know you care about Danny an' all." He kept eye contact with Ty, "Mainly, I hope you'll still be friends with him, like, I don't want you to think that I don't want y'all to be friends." He broke their eyelock and looked at me, "What I'm sayin' is, please don't stop bein' Danny's friend cuz a me, ok?" He looked back to Ty, "And if... like, if you don't just hate me... I mean, I'd understand that, but if you gave it a chance, we could probly be, like, friends, too."

Tyson didn't know how to react. He looked back and forth between Jerry and me several times, took in Dave in a couple of his passes, figuring out that Dave was at least quite comfortable with us being gay, if not gay himself. Then he gave a look like he thought we were all full of shit anyway.

He squinted off into the distance and thought for a moment, then turned back to Jerry with just a hint of contempt and said, "Well... I don't think..." He thought better of it, shook his head slightly and started again, "Um, I'm probly just gonna go hang down in Galveston for a while, anyway." He glanced at me, but returned to Jerry and said, "Don't..." He smirked and looked down, mumbling, "This sounds so..." shaking his head in wonder at what he was about to say. He looked back up at Jerry and fixed his gaze, "Treat `im right, `k?" A look came over his face that said he wasn't sorry he said it, that even if it sounded corny or clichéd, he meant it.

My stomach knotted up as I watched his eyes. I couldn't quite decipher all the feelings that raged through my system in that moment... and didn't really want to try, they would just be confusing.

Jerry nodded a respectful affirmative, let some air into the moment, then said, "So... Danny and me, oh, and Dave too, we're goin' to Galveston, I think around six or seven. My basketball practice ain't over till five. Want a ride to your friend's?"

"Nah, I wanna get goin' in a bit. I'll hitch."

"Aw come on, Ty," I pleaded, "Ride with us? I wanna see Celia and Jet again, so we'll be goin' there first anyways. Please?"

The sky was a mass of fast moving, roiling black clouds and it smelled like rain, though it hadn't yet. He looked up at the noon darkness and weighed the prospect of standing in the rain on the freeway, shrugged his shoulders and sighed, "What the fuck, ok."

Jerry and Dave headed for their next classes, as their lunch was over. Tyson and I went to the snack bar, and I bought our lunch from the vending machines. I shoved fifty bucks into his pocket over his protests. I just wanted him to have something to go on. I was glad he didn't seem to view it as me trying to buy him off cheaply for my guilt, like I was expecting him to, because that truly was not it at all. I think he knew that. We finished out the last half hour of lunch with just a little small talk. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it wasn't the camaraderie we'd felt in the kitchen last night, either.


Being so tired, and with a full stomach from lunch, I wanted to sleep through my next class; dunno how I managed not to-- but I did catch myself dozing a few times. Luckily, considering how tumultuous my life had been since all this began, I was still acing all the classes I was taking.

I thought about how I needed to actually spend some time tutoring Jerry, soon. Some of the finals would be starting next week. `When will we find the time? Will I be able to concentrate on English when we're alone together? Will he? I pictured us sitting together the way we had those first couple of weeks. `Oh, man, I can't imagine getting any work done like that,' Flash images of the fantasy we'd discussed went through my head. `But it sure would be fun to try, heh heh.'

As I walked down the hall after class, I saw Dave, who made a beeline for me and pulled me outside by my elbow away from others, whispering urgently, "Man, I gotta tell ya, Tyson is fucking hot, dude! How'd you do it?" I looked at him questioningly, and he grinned, "How'd you get two of the hottest fucking dudes in this school to fall in love with you, man?" I blushed about ten shades of red and lowered my gaze without answering-- but had an embarrassed little grin on my face as well. Hey, I was more amazed than anyone else. "Is he, like, gonna come back up here anytime soon?"

Glad he changed the subject, I tried to sound serious, "Uh, I dunno, Dave. I just don't know what he's thinking now."

"Well, can ya, like, kinda let him know I think he's, like, really sexy? No! Wait! Oh, man, that sounds so..." He was flustered, and shook his head vigorously, "No, no, just tell `im, uhhhhhh... I'd like to get to know him. Better. A lot." He grinned so big his bright white teeth blinded me, "Somethin' like that, would ya?"

I hadn't even thought of Dave and Tyson getting together. Yes, I felt a little pang of jealousy, but mentally slapped myself and grinned. "Sure, Dave, I'll tell him." I couldn't help but tease him a little though, "I'll tell him you told me you wanna suck his dick."

He jerked his head back in bug-eyed shock, then busted out laughing. "You'd better not say that! Well... Even if it's true, don't you fucking dare!" He laughed some more, adjusted his crotch and leaned in close with an evil leer, asking conspiratorially, "Is it nice? Big? I bet it is, huh." I blushed, tried to look around like I wasn't going to answer, but subtly nodded yes. Dave hissed in through his teeth, "Goddamn, he's sooo fucking hot! He acts so... I dunno, like a guy, y'know? You'd never in a million years think he was gay, would ya?"

I shook my head in agreement, "No, I wouldn't of guessed it. In fact I didn't think he was till he told me... well, kissed me, then told me."

Dave sounded awestruck, "Oh, no shit?! He was like, all, like, romantic about it? No shit?!"

"Oh, man, he was real tender, at first, well, all the time... even when he's-- I can't believe I'm sayin' this to you!" I blushed and turned away somewhat.

The late bell sounded just as I said that and Dave whooped and took off in a sprint toward his next class as raindrops started falling.


I met Tyson at D-Building after my last class and we went home and took a little nap while it rained. Mom came home a bit early, followed shortly by Dad, so we got up. They were happy to hear that Tyson would go and stay with his good friends where he was safe; not so happy that I wanted to go stay the weekend with Jerry in Galveston. They looked at each other with that `Well, he is eighteen now,' look and said ok; but then Mom insisted that she wanted to meet Jerry now, especially if I was going off with him for the weekend.

Oh shit. I didn't really know why I was so nervous about them meeting him, but I was. Part of it was that I knew Jerry would be very reluctant to meet them. He was afraid they'd hate him for what he'd done to me, no matter how many times I'd reassured him that they understood why it all happened the way it did. That, and I knew he was simply afraid to be around any straight people who knew he was gay at this point. It was scary, being gay... and being in love and being gay... and not expecting anyone to understand or accept it. None of us had any experience with all this, so I understood that because I felt it too, even with my new circumstances at home.

I still wasn't all that comfortable around my parents yet either-- and they weren't entirely comfortable with me, or, for that matter, Tyson yet. It wasn't bad uncomfortable, just that kind of atmosphere of not knowing quite how everyone was supposed to respond to things while feeling the new and very foreign situation out. Mostly, every time I saw my dad, I would be wondering each minute how he was feeling about me, what he was thinking, had he really accepted me yet; did he picture me having sex with Jerry, or Tyson, every time he saw me? That thought was very embarrassing to me, mainly because I know he assumed that I took the `woman's' role... and I thought that shouldn't matter, but couldn't help that it did to me.

Not that it mattered so much as that I thought it made me more gay in his eyes, that it seemed less `manly' than the top role. I had this ridiculous image of Dad being more ok with it all if he thought I was the `man' in the relationship-- when in reality, I didn't know if he even thought of things like that.

My parents and I had been trying damn hard to act at ease and project a positive attitude to each other. I assumed that, sooner or later, we'd get past all this. But for now, every moment in their presence was anywhere from a little to a lot awkward.

I whined and asked them to put this meeting off until later, telling them I didn't think he was ready. They assured me they would be nice, but they definitely wanted to meet him before I went off for a weekend with him. They were always so damned unified in these things!

I called Jerry and told him he would have to come in and meet the folks when he came to pick us up. He freaked. At first he said forget it, he just wouldn't go. After I pleaded and reasoned with him for several minutes, he finally agreed to meet them, but he swore to me that if they `lit into him' he'd just run out the fucking door. I told him I'd leave with him if they did anything like that-- but I knew they wouldn't.

Nevertheless, I was so nervous I was shaking and sweating as Ty helped me pack an overnight bag and asked if we could stop by his folk's place before going to Galveston, so he could get the last of his things. He said he planned on never going back there to stay.

"Sure, no problem," I mumbled, as I kept stuffing things in my bag and yanking them back out, stressing over what to take and suddenly completely hating every single thing I had to wear.


We had just finished dinner and everyone was leaving the table when we heard Jerry pull up. Tyson snickered to himself at how we all turned our heads nervously toward the front of the house, like some scene in a suspense or horror movie. We all knew he was coming, but no one was sure if they were ready for his arrival.

As we heard his car door close, Tyson broke the tense silence, "Uh, I'm gonna wait in your room, cool?" I nodded and stood in between the dining and living rooms while Tyson disappeared and Mom put the last dish in the sink. Dad stood in the living room, trying to decide between sitting down and getting back up when Jerry came in, or remaining standing to meet him.

I jerked a little when the doorbell rang, lurched for the door and knocked over an end table, sending whatnots, magazines and a lamp sprawling, breaking the ceramic lamp base.

"Oh shit!" I blurted, kneeling down to pick up the mess, uprighting the table.

Mom, without commenting on my cursing, calmly said, "Danny, why don't you go ahead and answer the door. Don't worry about that right now."

I stood up and opened the door with the lamp in hand. "Hi. I broke the lamp," I announced, flaunting my astounding capacity for stating the obvious.

Jerry looked puzzled and more nervous than I, but there was also a look in his eyes that I came to learn was his, `I'm determined to do this.' look. "Oh," was his elaborate response.

I opened the screen door and he stepped in. He cautiously stepped over the rubble while I closed the door. I turned to see looks of surprise on Mom and Dad's faces as they looked him up and down-- and I swear, both of them paused a split second longer at the bulge in his Levis.

It hit me that I'd never described him to them. Even though I'd told them he was on the basketball team and the swim team, they just didn't expect such a big guy. They didn't expect someone so tall, muscular, sexy and gorgeous-- yeah, that's my interpretation of their looks, but I know it's accurate.

"Uh, Mom and Dad, this is Jerry Loring." I motioned to him. "Jerry, Mom and Dad."

Dad straightened his back and shoulders as he stepped over, extending his hand, "Ben Dresden. Nice to meet you, Jerry."

Jerry shook his hand firmly and confidently. I didn't fully appreciate it till afterwards, the way he held my father's gaze. The look, the expression, was all but defiant, almost daring my dad to show or say anything negative about us. I couldn't believe it! In the phone call, he'd said he would be ready to run out the door at the drop of a hat; yet here he was, confidently staring my dad down-- not that Dad was challenging him or anything that I could tell-- saying with his eyes and body language that I was his and he was ready to fight for me, from his two inch height advantage over my dad.

What the hell, I'll go ahead and say it: It was a `Man to Man' look, and my dad, as they say, was the first to blink. This only lasted five, maybe seven seconds at the most, but that's a very long time in this situation, while still shaking hands, barely two feet apart. I held my breath the entire time and the fine hairs on my neck and arms stood on end.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Dresden," he finally said as he let go of my dad's hand.

Dad seemed a little taken, "Uhhh, call me Ben, please." He smiled and gestured to Mom, "And this is Lydia."

Jerry shook her hand gently and looked her in the eyes as well, "It's nice to meet you too, Mrs. Dresden."

Mom actually batted her eyelashes, "Oh, please, call me Lydia. I'm so glad to finally meet you, Jerry. Come, have a seat." She gestured to the couch and asked, "Would you like something to drink?"

"No thank you, ma'am." Suddenly, it looked like his nervousness came back in spades, as if he'd pulled off the introduction triumphantly but used up every ounce of his composure in the process. I watched him ball his fists to stop his hands from trembling and he looked like he wanted to bolt for the door now. That's when it sank in what he'd pulled off in that handshake with Dad.

Even though he showed nervousness again, I could see he'd made an impression on Mom, and especially on Dad. A twitching smile was plastered on my face while I debated whether I should take his hand and lead him to the couch to sit, or just try for a quick exit. But I knew without having to ponder it, that there was no way we would be leaving before they had a chance to talk at least a little with him. I dreaded every possible thing I thought they might say or ask.

I mean, what would Dad say? `So, you're the one fucking my son in the ass, huh? Aren't you a bit big for that?' No, sorry, I know, that's absurd and tasteless-- but it did cross my mind. Ok, well, `Are you really in love with him, or are you just using him to figure things out?' That was a possible one. Or they could say, `We believe you love Danny, but you'd better not...' Hell, I didn't know what they'd say, but I had a million possibles jerking my thoughts around as I ushered Jerry to the couch and tried to sit close enough to show we were a couple, but not so close as to cling like Saran Wrap to him.

Mom tried her best to be the good hostess and put him at ease, "Are you hungry, Jerry? We just finished dinner and there's a ton of food left."

"Oh, no thank you, ma'am. I already aten-- eaten," he corrected himself. "I've already eaten."

I laughed nervously and Jerry blushed, but grinned. That seemed to help, and my folks smiled too, acknowledging the tension in the air. So Dad went ahead and started the conversation, taking control, sounding every bit `The Dad'.

"So, um, you two are going to Galveston, huh? Where's your beach house located?"

I guess Jerry wanted it to sound a little less intimate, `cause he replied, "Yes sir, but our friend Dave is going to be with us too, and maybe Tyson-- well..." He flinched a few flustered blinks that obviously that wasn't going to happen and went on, "But no, uh, it's at Jamaica Beach. I'll write down the address and phone number for you."

"Yes, please do. Our best friends, Tom and Amy Barber, have a cabin at Jamaica Beach." I could tell Dad was thinking, `Probably not in the area your folks would have one, though.'

"It's nice there." Jerry fidgeted and tried to keep a tight-lipped smile on his face.

"So you're on the basketball team..."

"And the swim team, and he does boxing, Ju Jitsu and-- that other one," I enthused nervously.

"Tae Kwon Do," Jerry supplied in a mumble.

"That's impressive. So, are you gonna play college--" He cut himself off abruptly and calculated that that was enough of the pleasantries. He didn't want to drag this out any longer than we did, so he cleared his throat and started again, "Uh, Jerry, we wanted to meet you, because it looks like you're going to be-- like you're, uh, dating. And well, Danny thinks you're afraid we won't like you because of the things that have happened, the way..." He stopped himself again and decided to put it differently, "We want you to know we understand how difficult it must be to figure all this..." His cheek twitched, "...these things out. We're trying to figure it all out too, y'know. We don't understand everything yet. Well, I don't understand everything yet. Lydia's got a better handle on it than I do." He nodded with a little smile toward Mom, sitting on my right side.

Jerry stared at the edge of the cushion between his spread knees as Dad spoke. His face was deep red with embarrassment and I could tell he wanted to shrink into the space between the cushions. There was no escape. He knew he had to listen. Dad was trying really hard to sound concerned and non-confrontational. I leaned into Jerry and could feel heat radiating off of him. My heart was racing, and I knew his had to be even more so. He looked like he was focusing on controlling his breathing as his eyes glazed over. I figured his martial arts training had taught him to do that.

Dad continued, "Look, Jerry, I know this isn't easy to talk about, but, we all have to deal with it now." Jerry looked up at him and nodded slightly, then returned his gaze to the blue and green flower print on the cushion, clasping his hands in a white-knuckled grip in his lap. I decided to go ahead and put my hand on his arm. He surprised the hell out of me by taking my hand in his-- squeezing it too tightly, but I didn't care. That he did it in that moment, in front of them, was just so wonderful to me.

Then Dad went on, "The main thing I want you to know... is that we accept that you two love each other, ok? We also understand that your parents don't agree with your-- they don't accept it... your being gay, and we know that's rough on you." He nodded his head as he added, "But it's rough for them too, Jerry."

Jerry's head and shoulders sank a little deeper. I was feeling defensive for him, and thought, `Well, Dad, if you understand and accept that we love each other, then you pretty well understand and accept all you need to, don't you? So why do this? You can see this is embarrassing the hell out of him! And there's no need to stick up for THEM.' But I also knew it wasn't that simple. There was a pause while Dad pondered what to say next.

When he resumed, it was in a questioning tone, "Are you... Umm, are you, have you figured out for sure, what you want?" Jerry looked up at him, confused. "What I mean is... are you really sure you're, you know, gay? Completely?" He watched Jerry blush even deeper scarlet and turn his head down further, while glancing sidelong at me with a plea for help.

"Daaad..." I moaned, to say that was going too far.

"I'm sorry, Jerry. I'm sorry," he emphasized. "I hate to put you on the spot and embarrass you like that. It's just that, I'm sure you realize now what Danny went through, how close he came to... I just want to make sure-- I mean, I just want to know you... mean it. We couldn't go through-- Danny couldn't go through..." he trailed off and looked down at the arm of his La-z-boy, trying to gauge if he'd been too blunt, or if he really had the right to even say or ask these things. I couldn't guess what images were going through his mind at that moment.

Jerry looked up at him for a moment, glanced at me, then Mom, and started to say something, but stopped. He was breathing hard, trembling slightly and hurting my hand. Then he looked my dad in the eye and spoke very low, but you could hear a pin drop in the room, so everyone heard, "I love Danny. I do mean it... sir."

Dad started to say something, but Jerry continued, in the same shaky voice, fixing his stare back down at our intertwined fingers, "I don't know how to tell you how sorry I am for how I treated him." Tears welled in his eyes, but didn't spill out. Of course, seeing them brought them to mine too. Even sitting right next to him, it was hard to understand the rest of his faltering statement, "I honestly love him, an' I'll never hurt him again. I promise."

Dad stared at him with narrowed eyes, like he was trying to read his soul. His eyes looked a little watery as well. After an hour-long moment, "I believe you," he said thickly. He stared at our hands on Jerry's thigh and added, "I'm sorry I... put you through that. I just, wanted to hear it from you." He looked at Mom then and they had a conversation with their eyes.

After another eternal moment, Mom said, "You boys drive safely to Galveston, and make sure you never swim alone, or on alcohol, ok?" That was the signal that this little drama was over. I exhaled. Apparently, Jerry had measured up, and we were free to go.

"Yes, Mom."

"Absolutely, Mrs. Dresden," Jerry croaked. "Thank you."

Everyone stood at once and Jerry and I all but ran for my room. We almost knocked Tyson over as he was backing away from my slightly open door. He mouthed a wide-eyed, `Whoa, dude!', having listened to it all.

We were a solemn crew as we zipped up my bag in silence and headed out. Mom and Dad both said goodbye and have a good time, getting a promise from Jerry that we'd be back early enough Sunday evening to rest up for school.

We drove around the corner, past Ron and Rachel's house in silence, left at the stop sign and down to the pocket park we'd stopped at that morning. He pulled over on the wrong side of the street, threw open his door and sprang from the driver seat about five feet onto the grass. Ty and I stared at him from the car as he jumped up and down and shook his body like a wet dog from head to toe, yelling, "AAAAAGHHHHH!!!" at the top of his lungs-- which with his deep bass voice could probably be heard all the way back to my house.

Three little kids playing on the monkey bars thirty feet from him jumped down and ran the other way and one of them started crying, as their mother, on the other side of the park, came barreling toward us to defend her children from this raving lunatic. Jerry turned and walked calmly back to the car and slid into his seat. The woman stopped in her tracks and just looked baffled. He started driving again and we all just watched the road ahead of us as we wound our way through Friendswood to Dave's apartment building.

Dave was leaning against the hatchback of his Pinto, waiting, still wearing sunglasses, even though the sun was setting. He held a plastic Kroger grocery sack containing his swim trunks and whatever else he was bringing. I stepped out and let him into the backseat with Tyson.

He couldn't contain his excitement, yelling, "Let's parrrDEEE!!!" as soon as I closed the door. When he got only cursory responses, and a look of annoyance from Tyson, he amended his enthusiasm to a meek, "Or not. What's up? Why..." He probably figured Jerry and Tyson were not getting along or something, and imitated Gilda Radner's Saturday Night Live character, Emily Litella, "Nevermind."

I peered around the back of my seat at him, trying to keep him from feeling awkward, "Sorry, Dave, we just came from The Inquisition. Jerry had to meet my folks and let Dad interrogate him."

He arched his eyebrows and nodded his head knowingly, "Ohhhhhh."

Tyson piped in with a snicker, "Had to prove his intentions were honorable."

Silence for a moment, then Dave asked cautiously, "So... they cool with you two?"

I reached over and squeezed Jerry's thigh and said with a snicker, "Yeah, they love him like a son-in-law now."

Jerry cut his eyes at me and `hmph'ed with a smirk. Tyson laughed out loud, shaking his head.

When we got to I-45, I said, "Looks like it cleared up. The weather, I mean." I looked up at the sky as the sun sat behind us.

Jerry responded in a fairly cheerful tone, "Yeah, I think it's gonna be a nice weekend."

He pulled off the freeway at the League City exit to go to Tyson's trailer, following my directions. We were very relieved his dad wasn't there, and the three of us waited in the car while Tyson went inside.

Jerry let out a long, heavy sigh.

"I'm sorry about that, Jerry, really. I didn't know he was gonna say all that."

"Yeah, well... it coulda been a lot worse."

"I think they liked you. I think the way you did with Dad when you shook hand, like, made an impression."

He chuckled to himself, "Yeah, all the way over there I kept practicing what I was gonna say. I was gonna barge in there an' just tell them all about how I loved you and there was nothing they could do about it an' all that." He shook his head, mumbling, "But, after that handshake, I just lost my nerve."

"Well, they weren't opposing you anyway, y'know. They just wanted to meet you and find out how you feel about... you know, everything."

"Yeah, that's what threw me off, I guess. I expected this confrontation, but they seemed nice from the start. I didn't know what to do after that. But man, it was so hard to talk about the things he... to answer him an' all."

"But it looks like they liked you. They woulda pulled me off to the side and warned me or something, or even told me not to go, if they didn't like you."

"I liked them too, actually. I feel strange around them, but I guess that's just cuz they know about us, and were talking about it, out in the open. It's a weird feeling, them knowing, and being kinda ok with it."

"Yeah, it is. An' I think, in time, they'll get totally comfortable with it-- I hope. Man, when I think of how scared I was of them finding out, about me, and all this..."

"Like I said before: you are a lucky mother fucker, dude," Dave offered.

"The luckiest," I replied.

Tyson came back out shortly with a backpack, which apparently held all of his worldly possessions, but he looked very distressed. I figured his mom had started something with him.

"What's a matter?"

"Oh, man... Mom told me Chris is gonna get outta Boy's Town and come home in a week or two, some kinda deal his caseworker got him."

"Your little brother, Chris? Oh, that's great, Ty!" I exclaimed, then did a double-take because of his somber face. "Isn't it?"

"He's comin' back here," he sounded depressed.

It dawned on me what he meant then, of course. "Oh. Yeah, drag." Jerry listened silently, glancing at me and back to Ty in the rearview mirror every little bit as he drove back toward the freeway.

"What am I gonna do, Danny? I gotta help him! I can't stand by an' watch them fuck him up worse than he already is, man. It's like, up until I got kicked out the first time, I always stood up for him, ya know? Like, I'd jump in an' take it from my old man to let Chris get away. We were so close..." He got gloomier. "But like, after I, came out," he spat sarcastically, "I wasn't hardly around to stick up for him or help him out, and look what happened."

"Uh, how did he react to you being gay?"

"Oh, he kinda... he didn't understand it, y'know? Hell, he was only fourteen back then. But, like a month after I got outta the hospital an' all, I came back just to see him one day. We talked a long time, up in our tree fort, `n he finally told me he still loved me anyway, an' he didn't really care about all that. He was like, `We're brothers, always, no matter what.', y'know?" He was silent for a minute, then mumbled, "It was pretty emotional, that day. We cried together." He went inside his head for a moment, then came back, sounding like he was thinking out loud, "And like... outta all the people I knew back then, he was the only fuckin' one I really gave a shit if he cared about it. He's the only one I really wanted to, you know, needed to accept me. I told him that, too. He was the only one I loved in the whole fuckin' world back then."

"Yeah, I can understand that," I nodded. "I wish I had a brother. I always wanted one. For a long time, when I was little, I used to pray for one every night."

"No shit?! Oh man, me too!" Dave added.

"Man, I ain't talked to him since he got busted and put in there. I wonder... what they done to him."

"Whattya mean?"

Ty narrowed his eyes at me, understanding that none of us knew anything of that scene. "Places like that... they can fuck you up bad if you're not real fuckin' strong. He ain't real big. He's only sixteen. It's all about who's the baddest mother fucker. The baddest fuckers run things, an' everyone else, well, they're either part of a gang, or they get used and abused by them. I just don't know where he `fit in', y'know? If ya ain't a badass and don't got any friends in there, you're fucked. Man, little dudes get passed around in Juvie..."

"Passed around?" I was pretty sure I knew what he meant, but wasn't positive. I knew of prison rape from a story on "60 Minutes", but I had no idea anything like that happened in Juvenile Halls.

"Yeah, passed around. Like, the big dudes take the weaker ones, mostly younger ones, who ain't part of a gang an' fuck `em a few times. Then, if they don't make `em their own personal bitch, they pimp `em out to other dudes or just sell `em outright. Once they're `turned out'-- that's what it's called-- they own them, an' make money on `em, an' like, the punk can't fuckin' sneeze without their permission. I mean, they don't just fuck `em in the ass and make `em suck their dicks. Most of the time, they beat the shit out of `em, and humiliate them too, `n make `em do all kinds a demeanin' shit, even make `em wear makeup an' shit sometimes."

He saw the look of horror on my face and continued in a lower voice, "I seen this one kid kill himself in front of the whole fuckin' ward, after he got turned out `n passed around to like ten dudes in a row. He climbed up the pipes in the gym, like fifty feet up, an' everybody fuckin' cheered him on, yellin' at him to, `DO IT! DO IT! JUMP, BITCH!' They all clapped and laughed their asses off when he dove head first and broke his neck." He shut his eyes for a second, and I saw Jerry wince just like I did. "Shit, in just the time I was in there, I know at least three dudes hung theirselves in their cells."

He continued, sounding sad and introspective, "It's fuckin' brutal in there, and it's like... you're watchin' it all, an' ya make yourself laugh with everyone else, so you don't cry for `em in fronta everyone, y'know?" He shook his head and mumbled, "Fuckin' brutal."

"Oh my God!" I'd held my breath during the last of his tale and gasped, "Don't the guards try to stop that kind of thing?"

He laughed bitterly, "Shiiiit, sometimes the hacks watch the gangbanging and laugh; but not when that kid jumped. They woulda tried to stop him from that, just cuz it makes them look bad and causes `em all kinds a paperwork. They were rushin' him, but didn't make it in time. But like, some hacks, when they toss a new kid in there, they'll yell, `New meat!' and watch the guys close in on him. Some of `em get their jollies watchin' it. They even get kickbacks on some of the pimping, like when they take the punks from one ward to another, and they get kickbacks on all the drug deals. And some of them fuck these punks too, sometimes."

He held his index finger up, "One good thing though. I've heard Boy's Town ain't nearly as bad or wild as Juvie in Galveston. For one thing, Boy's Town's in La Porte, it's small an' mostly white, an' they even go to regular La Porte schools with everyone else. In Galveston, it's big and dirty, outta fuckin' control and mostly black `n Mexican gangs, so white boys got it a whole lot tougher there. It ain't good to be in the minority in those places, that's for damn sure."

Dave was staring at Ty openmouthed. I got chills up and down my spine, again. Tyson had told me he was in Juvenile Hall in Galveston. I wondered where he had `fit in', but wasn't about to ask.

"So what're you gonna do?"

"I don't know. I guess I'll stay down there till he gets out an' come up an' get him."

"And do what? Take him to Jet and Celia's?"

"I dunno... I guess. I don't know if they'll want him there or not. I don't know what his attitude's gonna be like now either, y'know? You just don't come outta there the same as ya went in."

"Well, seems like they'd wanna help. I mean, they know what it's like at your dad's house. I'm sure they wouldn't wanna see him be stuck there. Maybe Celia can like, help him... heal some, or something."

"I hope. But like, how can I ask them to feed another face? Hell, I guess I could get a job... flippin' burgers or somethin'." He sighed.

Dave was still sitting there stunned. I could see Jerry thinking, with a painful expression on his face, trying to imagine what it was like for kids with such a life, and so few options. He said nothing for a long time. He and I just listened when Dave asked Ty what Chris was in there for and Ty told that story, emphasizing that Chris had not been the one to hit the guy in the head-- he hadn't said that when he told me-- which was likely why he was getting out early, he speculated. We were all quiet for a while.

This trip was not getting off to a very good start. In fact, it was getting downright depressing!

But then, as we were driving through Texas City, Jerry pointed at the Gay Pontiac sign and jokingly said, "Hey, shouldn't all us gay guys buy cars there when we buy, so we can like, show support?" We all knew it was the family last name of the owners, but it was still fun to look at it that way.

Jerry decided it was time to lighten things up. He said, "Listen to this! This is radical shit." He put in a cassette of The Sex Pistols and I looked at him in surprise. He grinned, pulled a joint out of the glove compartment and lit it. Ty was more surprised than I that he was into that music, and pot. I was pretty sure I had told him Jerry smoked pot, though.

Tyson relaxed a whole lot more and seemed to warm up to Jerry some. He had never even heard the whole album, just a few songs off of it. Both Dave and I had only heard one song from it on the radio. I didn't understand the whole punk scene and what it meant, didn't know much at all about it; except that they liked to jump up and down and throw themselves into each other a lot-- which I found intriguing-- and that I loved the `look', never mind the bollocks.

Ty's only comment, as he yelled over the music: "You ain't like any other jocks I know," said with a grudgingly approving grin. Jerry laughed at the unintentional double entendre, and after a moment, the rest of us got it and laughed too. I heard Dave attempt to talk to Ty a couple of times, though I couldn't hear what he said, but Ty seemed preoccupied, probably with thoughts of his brother, not to mention the music was too loud to carry on a decent conversation.


When we pulled in front of Jet and Celia's, there was only Jet's silver van and one other car out front, and it seemed pretty quiet. Mickey answered the door again; I guess that was one of his contributions to the household. He lit up when he saw Ty and me, then got a somewhat suspicious look on his face when he saw Jerry, hulking behind us, with Dave hidden behind him. Tyson and I had given Jerry and Dave an idea of what to expect here, so a big guy-- bigger than Jerry-- nearly albino white with dreadlocks didn't surprise them.

I started to introduce them as we all stepped into the foyer, but only got Jerry introduced to Mickey, when Celia appeared at the head of the stairs, saying, "Did I hear Tyson's voice? Oh baby, there you are, and Danny! And... Jerry?" more of an observation than a question, asked with a glint in her eye, smiling. She glided down the stairs and embraced Tyson fiercely, hugging him and whispering something in his ear that I couldn't hear.

Tyson whispered back, and I could read his lips as much as hear, "It's ok now."

I looked at Jerry and he looked like he'd seen a ghost. I wondered what his problem was, but was suddenly embraced by Celia and her breasts, zapped with that familiar electricity. I had missed it-- the electricity, not her breasts.

"I'm glad you came, Danny. Are you gonna give me another boost?" she laughed and I blushed. I couldn't think of anything to say, so I just grinned from ear to ear and wagged my head up and down like some village idiot.

She released me and turned to Jerry, whose expression hadn't changed. He looked kind of stunned. I guess she figured he wasn't able to respond to a hug, so she offered her hand, which he numbly took.

He stammered, "Yyyou're, you're... the gypsy."

It clicked instantly, and I knew he was referring to the dream he told me about in the boiler room. I looked at Celia in awe. I had assumed his dream was purely from his own subconscious, figuring his mind had created the gypsy character to deliver the message to his conscious. I looked at her and saw why he had pegged her as a gypsy.

She pretty much looked the part; gypsy, hippy, take your pick. In the time I'd been around her, she always wore long dark dresses or skirts, with halters or billowy blouses. She had thick black flowing hair, wore big dangly earrings and had long dark red fingernails. Sometimes her expressions, her eyes, made her look angelic, and sometimes she looked like a `witchy woman'.

Celia laughed and I saw Jerry look down where their hands were linked. I knew he was getting that zap of energy and wondered how he would respond.

"I've been called a gypsy a few times." She laughed some more and my body hummed with her infectious easy joy and energy.

"No, I mean, in my dream, you were... the one." Jerry was shaken.

He almost looked scared, but was feeling her energy, which I knew felt very positive and uplifting. He just didn't know how to handle this. When I'd told him about Celia and all, he hadn't said what he thought about it, so I didn't know if he thought all of that type of thing was hokey bullshit, or if he had an open mind about it. Well, he was face to face with it now.

"You knew me, in the dream. You knew my name. You talked to me like you were right there with me. You told me to... I can't believe this." I could see the chill-bumps going all over his skin.

He shut his eyes tightly and opened them, blinking rapidly, maybe expecting her to be a different person or something. Tyson was watching, curiously amused, not knowing anything about the dream. I'm sure I looked worried. I still didn't know if Jerry would react with fear or acceptance, once he got over his initial shock. I very much wanted him to like her. Dave was clueless.

"Jerry," She spoke very softly and reassuringly, "I didn't choose to be there that night. It just happens, like, when there's a need or something. When someone I love needs it... it just happens," she smiled and waved her hand like there was nothing she could do about it, but it wasn't a bad thing so why worry. "I don't even always remember those dreams. Someone will tell me I was in their dream and I'll be like, `Oh, cool, was I helpful or anything?'"

Jerry looked a little defensive for a moment, "But... you didn't know me, or love me-- did you?"

She chuckled, trying not to laugh at his expense, "I was talking about Danny, and Tyson. Danny needed you, before he and Tyson got too far, before... Well, let's just say, they both needed you to hear something, to see something in your own heart. I was glad I was able to help." She put her other hand on top of their handshake and said, "And yes, I do love you. I see how much you love Danny. You've come a long way emotionally, real fast."

Jerry looked around and spied the crate I had sat on last Saturday before leaving, looking like he needed to sit down. Tyson was looking at him smugly, clearly pleased and impressed; Dave still had a `Huh?' expression on his face. "Why don't we all go in here?" Celia offered, gesturing toward the living room as she released his hand.

Jerry flushed with embarrassment at showing his shock and confusion, looking sheepishly at the rest of us. He timidly stepped in behind Mickey-- who had watched all this with a huge grin on his face and headed for the living room.

I said, "Uh, this is Dave," stopping everybody in their tracks.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Celia threw up her hands, "How rude of me! I was-- How d'you do, Dave? And this is my good friend Mickey." She gestured his way and offered her hand to Dave.

Dave shook it and then shook Mickey's. "No problem. Nice to meet y'all too." He did a slight double-take back at her as he reached for Mickey's hand, so I know he got that zap. He was flashing his teeth in a big smile. He kept glancing at Celia as the six of us went on into the living room and found seats; you could see that this was all kinda blowing his mind, or at least confusing the hell out of him. It occurred to me that I hadn't said anything to Ty yet about Dave's interest in him. Okay, I'd take care of that later.

Celia looked at Dave with a gleam in her eye and smiled at him as we continued to the living room. I was happy that she seemed to like him.

Meanwhile, Jerry was still trying to figure it all out. He and I sat together on the couch with Dave beside me. Tyson sat with Celia in the loveseat and Mickey overburdened an armchair. I put my hand on Jerry's thigh. He was deep in thought and apparently wasn't the least self-conscious as he put his arm around my shoulder automatically, seemingly without even considering whether it was ok or not. That made me feel good, that he felt that comfortable even in his confusion.

As Mickey got a conversation going, Dave nudged me and whispered, "What was all that about her bein' a gypsy in his dream?"

I leaned into his ear and tried to speak very quietly, "It's kinda hard to explain, but, like, Celia... Well, she knows things, like, she can see, like, the future... in a way."

He looked askance at me, "Oh yeah?"

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders under Jerry's arm, "What can I say? She does. She just knows things about people. She and Ty were both in my dream before I even met them, I swear to God. It's like she's connected to the people she loves, or will love, I guess," I grinned, then added solemnly, "And, like, she warned Ty that his dad was gonna beat the shit outta him, and she even warned him an' me that... that it wouldn't, you know, that Jerry and me would, like, get back together."

Jerry jerked out of his reverie and looked down at me, "She did?"

I thought I had told him that. I looked around and everyone was watching us. I was embarrassed that we had gotten into a private conversation, which was kinda rude, but I answered him anyway, "Yeah... indirectly."

Jerry looked at Celia and started to ask her something, but Tyson jumped in defensively, "Man, Celia's saved my fuckin' life more than once, dude. It don't matter if you believe what she does or not, dudes, everyone who knows her knows she's for real." Celia just watched this with a self-deprecating little smile.

Jerry held up his hand in peace, "I'm not arguin' that, Tyson. I'm definitely not arguin' that. I never had a dream like that one before, that felt like that before, and..." He looked down at me and smiled, then looked up at Celia and said, "Thank you. Thank you for how you... for what you showed me." Then he looked at Dave. "I'm tellin' ya, she was in my dream plain as day and she knew my name and told me or, like, showed me that Danny an' me were meant to be together. She showed me the future, Dave. It fuckin' happened just like that, just as real as I'm sittin' here. I never woulda believed anyone who said somethin' like this happened to them, but, it happened to me, dude."

Dave nodded his head, looking intrigued, and muttered, "Aaawesome."

I swear, I just know the look in Dave's eyes was a debate: whether it would be cool to ask her to tell his fortune or not. I laugh now, but I just know that's what he was thinking. He didn't ask.

What he said was, "So, like, y'all were like, destined to be together? That is so cool, like it was written in the stars or somethin'. Whoa." I beamed up at Jerry and he squeezed my arm and winked at me.

Somebody started up the previous conversation again, though I didn't pay attention for a little while. When I tuned back in, Celia told us Jet was gone to La Marque with John and Kiesha and would be back later that night. While I was thinking about it, I got Celia's phone number and gave her mine, and gave her Jerry's beach house number too.

We all sat there and passed around a couple of joints while Mickey told some hilarious stories about his recent trip to New Orleans-- `Nawlins', as the locals call it-- for Mardi Gras. When he talked about the bars on Bourbon Street, Ty said something about how lame Galveston's gay bars were... except one.

All of a sudden, we were all going to the Kon Tiki. Not exactly Thor Heyerdahl's balsa wood boat, either...

But it was just as legendary.

It was sorta like suddenly everything was whirling around, people zipping in every direction, picking up keys, putting on a shirt, closing a window, leaving a note, something-- everyone except Celia, who calmly moved toward the front door in the eye of the hurricane. Tyson rode with Mickey and Celia in Jet's van and the three of us followed. In no time at all, we were walking up to the nondescript door.


We were greeted by a heavy, bald, effeminate man in a paisley muumuu who glowingly recognized Tyson, Celia and Mickey... and only carded me-- but gave me a Happy Birthday kiss on the cheek and a voucher for a free drink, after seeing my license.

Dark, dirty, sleazy, wild, outrageous, with a dance floor of white acrylic panels lit from underneath, with black silhouettes of raging hardons & balls all across it, flashing strobes, neon, and colored spotlights spinning overhead in the smoke. My first bar of any kind and first gay disco all in one. It was like being on another planet, in another dimension.

It was only 9:30 or so, but the place was packed and hopping. An alternate universe is what it was. There were guys dancing the raunchiest, nastiest dancing I'd ever seen-- TOGETHER. WITH EACH OTHER, HUMPING, GRINDING, FEEliNG, SQUEEZING, KISSING, NIBBliNG, EVERYTHING BUT SUCKING AND FUCKING RIGHT THERE IN PUBliC ON THE DANCE FLOOR. I simply could not have imagined this before I saw it.

I tried to keep my eyes in my head and my chin off my chest. So did Jerry and Dave. But it was old hat for Tyson, Celia and Mickey, who were moving to the pounding disco music as they got us all a round of drinks. They'd all been there a few times, and Tyson more than a few. On the way over, Celia and Mickey had talked about how much fun they had at gay bars. What was that song blaring from every direction at incredibly high decibels... Born To Be Alive!

"Born, (dt dt dt dt) born, (dt dt dt dt) born... Born to be alive..."

Six-foot-three women, black, white, Latin, with big hair, eyelashes like mudflaps, dramatic dresses, Maybelline-coated five o'clock shadows and Adam's apples were prancing around in four inch stiletto heels blowing theatrical kisses to each other while sipping bright red drinks with umbrellas in them. Men and boys in bizarre leather costumes, with bare asses, straps, rings, spikes, collars, chains, caps, chaps, cod-pieces, with fucking hoops or alligator clamps on their nipples were skulking in the corners groping, kissing, spilling their drinks on each other and the floor in clouds of cigarette smoke.

Sunburned guys in beach shorts, tight wifebeaters and sandals were grooving to the mating dance and eyeing each other, jockeying for position around the dance floor. Long haired street-looking guys in platform shoes, bell bottoms and abalone shell necklaces, looking for a date, were standing shoulder to shoulder with preppie college guys in their Izod shirts, Jordache jeans and Hush Puppies, posing with beers in hand, acting like nothing around them was unusual.

Older men in bright rayon shirts with too many gold chains sat at the bar, filling the ashtrays with Camels and ordering more scotch. There were big manly looking women in sleeveless blue denim work shirts with names like Joe embroidered on them, chatting up college looking girls who mostly looked like they played soccer. A really cute guy was on his hands and knees on a barstool mooning everyone and squealing while his friends laughed and swatted at his butt. The gorgeous bartender, dressed in only very full bright white Fruit Of The Looms who made our drinks, was dancing energetically while he poured from two feet above the glasses, with a cigarette dangling from his lips, while not acknowledging the man in a cheap suit reaching across the bar and stuffing five dollar bills into his elastic waistband.

I looked again at the dance floor and a hot shirtless guy in tight white jeans was humping his dance partner, who was bent at the waist grasping his ankles, bouncing back against his boyfriend's very obvious hardness to the beat. Another guy kept dipping down to kiss the front of his dance partner's shorts while he shook his bootie at a third guy dancing with them and snorted from a small brown bottle. I got a boner. I leaned into Jerry and he wrapped his arm around my shoulders. We knew we weren't in Kansas.

It was homosexual mayhem, OUT-OF-CON-TROL.

We were in Heaven, or a dream. I could not believe what I was seeing all around me. I'd had no clue that people looked and acted like this in public-- and got away with it. I had no inkling there were so many guys who were into acting like this, looking like this. It blew my mind-- in a GOOD way.

But I didn't know how to act. I was excited, intimidated, awed, and moving to the music. I know I looked like I had just come from Kansas, all wide eyed and slackjawed, probably looking like I was missing ma and pa or something.

We were already high, and when Mickey handed me a bourbon and coke, I spilled some on my shaky hand and quickly downed about half of the small but extremely strong drink. It was like, harsh, cheap bourbon with a splash of coke. I looked up into Jerry's face and could tell he was just as blown away as I was. Dave was yelling something into Tyson's ear, pointing toward the dance floor, and Tyson was laughing heartily. Mickey and Celia downed half of their drinks and got on the dance floor with their hands in the air and bodies bouncing.

The rest of us downed our drinks pretty quickly, so Jerry worked his way back to the bar and got us all a second round. Dave and I helped him bring the drinks back to the table we had managed to secure about a quarter of. Someone he knew on the other side of the room waved at Tyson and he went over to talk to them.

After drinking about half of the new one, watching the floor for a few minutes, I looked up at Jerry and yelled, "Wanna dance?"

He looked nervously at me and gave a sheepish grin. "Sure."

We sat our drinks down and wound our way to the foot-high raised floor and climbed aboard the Kon Tiki. We started dancing-- something I had never done-- the way they danced at high school dances. Jerry was looking around at how the others were doing it, and I, for all the excitement at everything around me, could only see him.

He was so fucking hot, so big and sexy. He wore his usual tight flared and faded Levis and a stretchy tight cream colored shirt that showed every bulge and valley of his torso off to the extreme, and I felt so fucking lucky. He watched the other dancers for a minute then looked me in the eye and smiled.

No, not a smile. He grinned an evil, sexy little grin and pulled me by the waist against him and hunched on me to the beat. My hardon had mostly gone down before we got on the floor-- or I wouldn't have asked him to dance yet-- but it sprang back up with a roar as the song became, "Ooooh, I feel love I feel love I feel love I feel loooooove" saturating the air around us with Donna Summer's silky voice.

My grin felt like it was pushing my ears up on top of my head as I humped back at him, totally thrilled to be able to do this with my man in a crowded bar. We gyrated around, connected at the groin, staring into each other's eyes as we carved out our own little universe on the dance floor.

After several minutes of this incredible high, in this sexually charged atmosphere, I was feeling just too sexy and brave. I wiggled free of his grasp on my hips and turned around, backing my ass up to him and hunching, leaning out, with my hands on my thighs and my head and shoulders arched up and back. I figured if everyone else could do it...

Jerry grabbed my hips again and ground his semi-hard cock against my ass in rhythm to the music. That's when I saw the furtive glances and envious looks from some of the other dancers. Well, some of them were not at all furtive. Some of them were brazenly undressing him and sucking his dick with their eyes.

I both went on high alert for predators, and gloated shamelessly at the same time. After a couple of minutes of giving pointed `Look all you want, but I'll fucking bite your grubby little fingers off if you try to touch him!' looks to two guys who kept brushing against Jerry and giving him come-fuck-me eyes, I worked my way back around slowly and danced up on my tiptoes to kiss him. He leaned down, took my head in both hands and kissed me feverishly while still moving his hips to the beat.

My legs went gelatinous. I was so fucking turned on I was about to spew in my underwear. Jerry's tongue took my mouth and made me beg for more. I don't know why, but it was almost like a first time-- well it was, in a gay bar, in front of a bunch of people, who were definitely not shocked or offended. I slung my arms up around his neck as I melted against him and he had to hold me up by my ass cheeks, still keeping the beat somewhat for both of us as he fucked my mouth with his tongue and rotated our joined hips in a sexy sway.

At some point the music changed, and we descended to earth and the dance floor once again. I looked around and saw Tyson dancing with some cute guy wearing only sneakers, a Speedo and a straw cowboy hat. May not sound it, but it was hot on him. Of course, he had a perfect little tanned body too.

Dave was looking a little forlorn, standing next to Mickey with his drink in hand by our table. Celia was at the edge of the hallway leading back to the restrooms and a pool table room, talking to an older man with way more makeup on than her and Elton John type glasses with rhinestones. There were two other guys trying to talk to her and hugging her at the same time. Apparently, she knew a few people there and they loved her too.

I felt sorry for Dave. I had more or less assumed he and Tyson would hit it off and dance together at least, but it didn't seem to be happening. I told Jerry I was thirsty, so we stepped down off the dance floor and made our way back to Dave and Mickey. There was already another round of drinks there for us and we gulped gratefully.

I asked Jerry if he would dance with Dave. He said, "I was just about to ask you if you'd mind if I danced with him!"

He asked him and Dave lit up like a firecracker. He grabbed Jerry's hand and all but yanked him to the flashing floor. You could tell Dave had just been itching to do some of the things he'd seen the guys doing on the dance floor. He was ever so ready to dance nastylegged! He was all over the place. Mickey was laughing and commenting to me about him. Dave did a couple of `body contact' moves on Jerry during this-- ok, he humped on him-- and I felt just a little, I repeat, just a little, tinge of jealousy for a moment. Jerry seemed to take it in stride, neither encouraging nor discouraging Dave's behavior. It was just the atmosphere. You couldn't help but get sexy, so I really was ok with it. I thought, `Hey, disco does NOT suck! This is awesome!'

Celia came back over about then and asked me to dance. So we got out there and got sexy too. With my third drink in me and having danced all that time with Jerry, I was pretty buzzed, hot and sweaty. Everyone on the dance floor was sweating and throwing off heat, and since I wasn't dancing with Jerry and locked in his eyes, I was able to look around at the others, including him and Dave. Everyone seemed so good looking! The musical, sexual energy was just dizzying; and that it was all gay people and gay-friendly people like Celia and Mickey, was simply overwhelming.

We were not the only ones. There were lots of us out there, and we were all BORN TO BE AliVE!!!

Dave danced with a couple of different nice looking guys-- one from Kansas, even-- after Jerry, but Ty stuck with the cowboy hat guy. At one point, Ty asked me, "So what you think of your first gay bar?"

I grinned a drunken grin and said, "UNFUCKING BEliEVABLE! Are all gay bars this amazing?"

He shook his head emphatically, "Not even! See, it's like, Houston's got so many bars, over thirty of `em, so there's, like, at least one for every taste and type of scene, y'know? And there's some great fucking clubs in Houston, don't get me wrong, like Numbers, the Old Plantation and the Midnight Scum (Midnight Sun, but known affectionately as the Midnight Scum), but Galveston's only got like three, and the others are totally lame, so everyone comes to the Kon Tiki, and from Houston on the weekends, and everywhere else in the country. You'll never see this big a variety of people at other gay bars. It's the only game in town, dude, and tonight's even better than usual, for not bein' summer yet."

Along about 1:30, we were drunk, sweaty and exhausted. The crowd was pairing-- and grouping-- off and thinning rapidly. Tyson had introduced us to Cowboy Hat Boy, whose name was Glen, whose bronze skin was glistening with sweat, whose hands wandered down to Ty's crotch almost as often as he said, `Oh my God! That's SO funny!' to every single thing Ty said. He was continually in motion, which wouldn't have been so bad, but I was pretty drunk and he was making me dizzy. He was plumb dumb, ok? But he wasn't unlikable. He was friendly enough, and if it was just for sex, he looked like he would probably be very good at that.

I didn't care about very good sex, I was starting to feel all the drinks I had had and took off for the bathroom... well, stumbled off... Dave followed me, stopping me just before the door, in the hallway, "Man, Tyson don't like me, does he?"

"Uhhh, I dunno, Dave." I was staggering and had to pee badly.

I had tried to go earlier, but there were two guys slowly stroking their hardons for each other at the long open urinal, and the stall was occupied. I just couldn't pee, `cause I started getting hard at watching them out of the corner of my eye, trying to act like I wasn't.

I was totally blown away that they were doing this in a public restroom, where anyone could walk in at any moment-- like I had. They were oblivious to me and didn't miss a stroke of their show for each other. What a trip! When one of them reached over and started playing with the other's hard dick, I had hightailed it out of there, freaked out at the whole thing.

"Did you say anything to him about what we were talking about today?"

"Oh man, I'm sorry, Dave, I totally forgot."

"Well it's not your fault he don't like me. Maaaan, shit." He looked so disappointed.

"Did you try talking to him or anything tonight?"

"Yeah, I mean, I tried to say things, but, like... Man, I don't know what to say, y'know? I get all nervous around him. I don't know why. Besides, I never got a chance to say much. He's all into that Glen dude."

"Well, you need to give him some kinda signal, I guess. Something pretty clear. If he's interested, he'll respond somehow."

"I knoooow," he whined. "I tried some signals, but I don't know... Aw man, it don't matter now. Looks like he's gonna go home with that fuckin' airhead."

I laughed, "I hoped I wasn't the only one who thought he was an airhead!"

Dave imitated Glen, "Oh my god! That's SO funny!" and we both laughed, but then he got a desperate look in his eyes, "Why d'you think he don't like me? Am I not good lookin' enough? Should I take my shirt off, like Airhead? I got muscles too! Bigger ones than Airhead!"

I arched my eyebrows, "Dave, you're fucking hot, dude! You're way hotter than Glen, man, trust me. I don't know what Ty's thing is right now. I haven't been able to talk much with him. What about those two other guys you danced with tonight? They were both droolin' over you, dude."

He looked miserable. "Shit, Danny, I kinda blew them off, cuz I was-- I only danced with them to try an' get Tyson to notice me. Fuck! It's fucking closing time now, an' they're both gone! Fuck!" He threw his head back and yelled at the ceiling, "I AM SO FUCKING HORNY!" The five or six guys in the hallway all stopped their conversations and looked at him. He blushed and added, "FOR TYSON!" and covered his face with his hands in embarrassment, while we both laughed and I drunkenly hugged him.

One very `nellie queen', as Tyson called them, a few feet away jutted his hip to one side and crooked his index finger, offering, "Come to mama, baby. I'll make you forget all about Tython, honey. I got sthkills."

Dave shoved me into the very dimly lit restroom and slammed the door behind us. We both fell against it laughing hysterically, giving each other wide-eyed, `Can you believe that?!' looks.

I did my version of Airhead Glen, "Oh my God! That's SO funny!" and we ended up squatting by the stall, laughing so hard we got tears in our eyes, trying to help keep each other from sitting on the very nasty wet floor. The only other guy in the semi dark room zipped up and exited, mumbling something about people on drugs.

Mickey came in after the guy left and stopped, looking down at us embracing each other on our haunches, tears in our eyes, still laughing. Shaking his head, chuckling, he said, "Kids. You can dress `em up, but you can't take `em to town," as he went to the urinal and whipped out his big ol' dick to pee.

We both went right back to laughing and Dave managed to say, "But I got sthkills!" as he waved a limp wrist at Mickey. We laughed even harder and kept pointing at each other, gasping, "Stop making me laugh!" and laughing more.

When Mickey finished, he stuffed that firehose back in his pants and asked, "You need help up?"

We both nodded as we fought for air. He helped us up and helped us walk back out to the others just as they called last call for alcohol. No one in our group seemed to need another drink. Our laughing fit had kicked my alcohol into overdrive, so I had to hold onto the table to stay on my feet. At least three of us asked at the same time, "You ready to go?" of each other. Everyone was pretty drunk, and worn out enough to go. I still didn't get to pee!

As we all staggered toward the door, Jerry and I were behind Tyson, whose arm was draped over Glen's shoulders. Glen was giggling and we could hear, yet again, "Oh my God! That's SO funny!" Apparently, Ty was going to either take Glen to Celia's or go to Glen's place.

I wondered how that worked. I didn't understand how you went about picking someone up in a bar. How did you meet someone, dance a few dances with them and then go home and have sex, without knowing them, without knowing anything about them? It was a mystery to me. Yeah, I'd had sex with Tyson the first night I met him... But, I felt like we had really bonded over the whole day by the time we made love. I really wasn't judging them negatively at all, just trying to figure it all out.

I was actually happy for Tyson, that he was doing something to move on... I guess that's how I felt. But I also wanted him and Dave to get together. For one thing, if they got `involved', Ty would probably come back up our way...

But then he didn't have a place to stay... and his brother getting out of Boy's Town changed everything still more, but I was too drunk to figure it all out at that time.

Dave was trying to keep up a happy face, but I could see he was very confused, frustrated and let down. I felt so sorry for him. I also thought about how, but for timing and uncertainty, it could have been him with Jerry instead of me. I wrapped my arm tighter around Jerry's waist and thanked the universe for all it had given me.

When we got to the car, Jerry looked down at me, squeezed my shoulder and asked, "You ok?"

I rubbed my left hand on his yummy abs and slurred, "More than ok. I'm fugging wooondervul! You know how segzy you are? Well you are! Stud. I love you."

He laughed and poured me into my seat and buckled me in. Then he let Dave tumble and roll into the backseat from the driver side door, lying out on his side. Mickey, Celia, Tyson and Glen all managed to crawl into the van across the street. That's the last thing I remember until waking up in Jerry's arms as he carried me up the stairs to the beach house, where I proceeded to barf all over the landing. At least we hadn't gotten inside. I would have been extremely embarrassed, but my head was spinning too wildly to even consider it. Dave stumbled by us and slipped in the puddle I'd just created but kept his balance. He muttered some expletives and took the keys from Jerry to open the door.

Jerry carried me inside and took me to have a conversation with Ralph, like all great thinkers-- ahem, drinkers-- and I spilled my guts several times to the porcelain companion of all drunks. When it was clear I had conversed all I needed to with Ralph, he cleaned me up with the tenderest of care and carried me to bed. He undressed me, then himself, and laid down, pulling me against him spoonstyle.

I muttered, "I'm zo zorry I barfed all over your steps. I guezz I can't handle... my... ohhhhh."

He chuckled and whispered, "Don't worry, baby, I'll watch out for ya."

"But I'm... don't think I'm up to... you know, doin' anything... uh... in bed... with, you..."

He chuckled some more and kissed the back of my head. "But we get to sleep together all night long. It's the first time since, you know..." He snuggled me in closer to him and said softly, "I got ya here with me. That's all that matters."

Even so, I could feel his nearly hard cock nestled in my crack and it felt soooo good. I reached down and worked it down between my thighs to poke out under my nuts. It was like an anchor, holding me in place while my head listed on a rollicking ocean in the opposite direction from my stomach. I groaned and pushed my pillow up out of the way, falling asleep with my head on his bicep.