Chapter 8
Brittle as a Bird
Allen slept against my shoulder for about an hour before he awoke. He sat up and
looked over at me. He seemed a little disoriented as he tried to figure out what I was
doing in his apartment.

“You feel all right?” He nodded, got up and went into the restroom. A minute later, I
heard the shower running. I watched a movie on the television until I heard a loud
thud.

“Damn!” Allen shouted. I jumped from the sofa and rushed to the restroom. The
door was unlocked, so I opened it. Allen was lying naked in the tub. It appeared he
had fallen and hurt himself.

“Are you okay?” I knelt down and peered into the tub, examining his body for any
injuries.

“I don’t know,” he responded nervously. “Help me up.” He held out his hand, and I
helped him out of the tub. He stood naked in front of me while I examined his body.

“Nothing seems broken,” I announced. He winced when I put my hand on a red spot
on his back. It looked like the beginnings of a large bruise. “Does that hurt?”

“Yeah,” he winced again.

“Let’s get you dry and then to bed.” I grabbed a nearby towel and started wiping his
body.

“I can do that myself.” He sounded irritated, but he didn’t stop me. He almost
purred when I started drying his wet hair.

“That feels good.” His eyes met mine. They were wet with tears. “It’s been a long
time since someone has wanted to touch me.”

I had to choke back tears as I continued to wipe his body dry. When I reached his
midsection, I wasn’t sure what to do. It didn’t bother me to dry his cock and pubic
hairs. I had been with so many men over the years, it was just another one to me.
However, I wasn’t sure how he’d feel.

I ran the towel over his ass, and then carefully brought it around to the front. He
didn’t say anything as I ran the towel over his cock and dried his pubic hairs. When
he started to stiffen, I stopped and ran the towel down his legs. When I stood back
up, his cock was erect. It jutted out about six inches from his body. Unlike his body,
it was thick and fat.

“That isn’t broken,” I laughed as I looked down at his erection. He grabbed the towel
from my hands and wrapped it around his body.

“What do you expect,” he said embarrassedly. “Let me rub my hands over your
body and see if you don’t get a hard-on.”

“Maybe later,” I laughed. “Right now we’d better get you to bed.”

I followed him over to his bed, letting my eyes wander over his naked body. He had
the green towel still wrapped tightly around him, and I could make out the outlines
of his thin ass.

Allen would be a very good looking guy if he had some weight on him. I’m sure that
a few years ago he was what some people would describe as drop-dead gorgeous.
His brother Gene was extremely attractive, but I would bet that Allen, when he was
our age, probably had any guy or girl he wanted.

Even though his hair was short, you could still tell that it was blond. And his eyes-
those blue eyes. Even though they were now sunken inside a fragile face, you could
still see the intensity they possessed. I had met only a few people whose eyes spoke
to you. Allen was one of those people. He didn’t have to say a word for someone to
know how he was feeling. His blue eyes said it all.

“Uh, Joey.” I looked up and saw Allen grinning. “Like what you see?” My face burned
with embarrassment after realizing that my gaze had been transfixed on his ass.

“It’s all right,” I kidded. “I’ve seen better.”

“I’m sure you have,” he said playfully.

As if to tease me further, he dropped the towel, walked over to the dresser and
removed a clean pair of boxers. He looked over and seductively put them on, slowly
edging them upward until they covered his nakedness. He then walked over to the
sofa and sat down.

I walked over and sat down beside him. “I thought you were tired?”

“I am, but I don’t feel like sleeping,” he replied. “I do too much of that now.”

I looked over at him and our eyes met. I tried to read what he was feeling, but this
time his eyes didn’t give him away.

“Are you going back to school tomorrow?”

“I don‘t have much of a choice,” I laughed. “If I don’t, Star will drag me there.”

“I guess you know her pretty well,” he responded. There was a moment of silence.
“Why did you quit? Star says you’re really smart.”

“Too much shit,” I said.

“That didn’t answer my question.” He looked over and stared at me. I knew he
wanted me to give him a better reason.

I let out a sigh. “You have a year?”

“How about the condensed version?”

I then spent the next twenty minutes telling him my life’s history. Normally, I would
never have told someone I hardly knew the details of my life, but I felt comfortable
telling Allen. I told him things that I’d never said to anyone else, not even Ticker.

Tears appeared when I told him about my relationship with Uncle Mike. I’d never
told anyone that I had loved him. He made me feel special, and I loved him for that.
Even though I knew what we had done was wrong, I still loved the close contact I
had with him. Talking to Allen, I realized for the first time in five years, that was
something I really missed- and needed.

One thing I kept back was my hustling for money. For some reason, the thought of
telling him something like that would make me look cheap. I wanted Allen to like me,
and I wasn’t sure he would if he found out I sucked cock for money.

We sat in awkward silence for several minutes after I finished. I was glad, because I
had become emotional talking about my past. I was on the verge of breaking down,
and I needed the silence to restore myself. I got up and went into the bathroom. I
took a wash cloth and wiped my face off. I didn’t realize that I had cried so much.
Not a sobbing cry, but one of those where tears flow down your face and you don’t
even realize they are there.

When I returned, Allen was coming from the kitchen with two beers. He handed me
one and then sat down beside me, this time our bodies were slightly touching.

I looked over and met his eyes. “Now you.” His head dropped and he sat motionless
for several minutes. Finally, he lifted his beer to his mouth and took a sip.

“You know I’m sick?” He looked over with a sad expression on his face. I nodded my
head without speaking. Again, he sat quietly for a couple more minutes.

“I wasn’t always like this,” he finally said. “When I was your age, I thought I had the
world by the balls. I had it all- friends, money, good looks and a lot of sex. I didn’t
think there was anything I couldn’t do.

I partied a lot.” He looked over and grimaced. “I mean a lot. Alcohol, weed, cocaine,
sex, more sex,” He stopped and laughed. “And then there was always more sex.
Anything you wanted. I fucked, and was fucked, by anyone and everyone. It really
didn’t matter, as long as the sex was good.”

He got quiet and didn’t say anything for several minutes. I figured he had told me all
he was going to. “Then one day I got a cold, and it wouldn’t go away. I ran a fever
for about a month. I just thought it was one of those nagging head colds you get.
You know the ones, they last forever. And this one did.

“My mother finally convinced me to go to the doctor. March 11. I’ll never forget the
date. March 11. He had run some blood tests on me earlier in the week, and he
called me back and said he wanted to go over the results.

“You are HIV positive, he said.” I looked over and saw tears flowing down his face
like they flowed down my face earlier. He wasn’t sobbing. The tears just fell quietly.

“I was twenty.” He buried his head in his hands and cried softly. I put my hand on
his back and rubbed him gently.

He looked up and said sadly, “I was twenty, Joey. Twenty, and my life was already
over.” I pulled him into my chest as he continued to cry. After about five minutes, he
stopped crying and sat back up.

“I lost everything. No one wanted to associate with me anymore. They treated me
like I was some kind of leper.”

He looked over and stared at me. “You know what hurt the most?” I shook my
head. “My family turned against me. My stepfather didn’t want me around. He
thought I was going to infect my little brother.”

“Gene?”

“Yeah, you know him?”

I nodded my head. “It’s a long story. We’ll talk about it later.”

“Fine with me,” he said angrily. “Hateful piece of shit.”

“What about your mother?”

“She’s cool,” he stated. “She comes to see me occasionally. She pays for this place.
My stepfather has no idea. He’d probably divorce her if he found out.”

“Star told me you have AIDS.” I knew the difference between being HIV positive and
AIDS.  

“Not yet,” he replied.   

“You seem to be pretty sick, though.” I let my eyes wander down his thin body.

“It comes and goes,” he replied. “The doctor says I’m brittle as a bird.”

“I guess we all are in some way,” I said thoughtfully.

We sat for a few minutes without saying anything. I was trying to wrap my head
around what he had just told me. It was hard to imagine the guy sitting next to me,
resting his arm against mine, could die from such a disease.

“Why don’t you take your medication?” I remembered Star telling me he refused to
take his pills.

“What’s the use?” he responded sadly. “It’s going to kill me someday, anyway.”

I wanted to jump up and start screaming at the top of my lungs. “You dumb shit!
AIDS doesn’t have to be fatal!  They haven’t cured it, but they have medication that
can control it.”

But I didn’t. I needed to inform myself of the disease first. I was sure Allen could
find a reason to counter any argument I made. I looked over at him. I didn’t want
him to die. I’d just met him and I didn’t want to lose his friendship before it even
had a chance to develop.

“You’re going to do it, aren’t you?” I looked over and gave him a puzzled look.

“Do what?”

“Try to save my life like Star has been trying to do for the past three years.”

I looked over and tears welled up in my eyes. “If I have to, yes.”

“Well, don’t.” He didn’t say it angrily. It was as if he had made up his own mind, and
anything anyone said wasn’t going to change it.

“I’m tired.” He got up, walked over to the bed and crawled into it. I turned off the
light and lay back on the couch. A few minutes later I heard him snoring lightly. I lay
awake the rest of the night. His story had affected me greatly. If there was a way, I
was going to try and keep Allen alive.


When I awoke in the morning, Allen was still sound asleep in his bed. I got up and
stretched. My back was killing me. The springs to the couch were worn, and my
body had sunk into an unusual position. Sleeping on a blanket at the lake was more
comfortable.

I went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. I had to wait several minutes
until the hot water made its way to the tap. The hot water heater must have been
located in the basement of the building.

When the hot water emerged, I removed my clothes and took a long shower. It had
been several weeks since I had cleaned myself other than swimming in Sullivan Lake.
I had forgotten how relaxing hot water falling over my body felt.

Afraid that I would use all the hot water before Allen had a chance to take a shower,
I turned the water off and stepped out of the shower. As I was drying off, Allen
opened the door and peered in. His eyes immediately wandered down my naked
body before I had a chance to wrap the towel around me.

His face reddened as he stared at me. “Like what you see?” I asked, remembering
what he’d said the night before.

“Yes,” he stammered. “Actually quite nice.” It was my turn to blush. Being naked in
front of someone didn’t bother me. In fact, I was proud of my body. I’m not
athletic, but all the walking and swimming I do keeps me fit. I am also blessed with a
rather large cock. I’m not huge, but I’m larger than most guys I know. I measured it
once when I was fourteen. It was over seven inches then, so I’m guessing it is
probably about an inch larger now.

Usually when I have sex with someone, I try to please them. The few times I’ve let
guys do me, they were genuinely pleased when I unzipped my pants and snaked my
cock out.

“What do you want for breakfast?” Allen asked as he continued to look at my body.

“What are my options?” I was trying to wrap the towel tighter around my body.

“Toast or muffin?” I looked in his face and he appeared to be happy, not the sullen
figure from the night before. I guess when he said his health comes and goes, today
might be a good day.

“Muffin,” I responded. “You make any coffee?” I loved drinking coffee in the morning.
It always seemed to perk me up.

“Damn,” He smiled. “What am I now, your bitch?”

“You wish,” I replied playfully. To taunt him, I grabbed my cock and pressed on it
through the towel. His eyes widened when I did this.

“Being your bitch may not be too bad.” He closed the door and I dried myself off.  
I thought about the exchange we’d had. By the way he looked at me, it was obvious
he was interested in me. I knew I liked Allen. I had since the first time I saw him on
the bridge.

However, I didn’t know if I was sexually attracted to him. I guess, since Uncle Mike,
I had refused to let myself be drawn emotionally to someone. I felt that Allen may be
breaking down those barriers. There was also something else. He was HIV positive.

It’s rather unusual, but after all the anonymous men I’d had sex with over the
years, I never thought about being infected with a sexually transmitted disease. I
guess it’s like the girl who thinks that if her boyfriend pulls out before he cums, then
she  won’t get pregnant. I just felt that as long as I didn’t let a guy fuck me, I was
safe.

I started to put on my old clothes, but they smelled too badly. Star said she was
bringing me some of her brother’s clothes, so I didn’t see any sense in getting
dressed. I walked out of the bathroom with the towel still wrapped around me.

Allen was sitting at the table sipping a cup of coffee. “Do you always come to the
table naked?” He once again ran his eyes over my body.

“I’m not naked,” I teased. “But if you’d like me to be.” He began to blush as he
looked at his cup of coffee.  I stood up and started to unwrap the towel from
around me.

Allen suddenly jumped up from the table. “Stop teasing me!” he shouted angrily.
Even though his words were harsh, his eyes displayed a look of hurt. He went in the
bathroom and slammed the door. A few minutes later, I could hear the shower
running.

I felt terrible because I had upset him. He had been the one to instigate the
playfulness. I couldn’t understand why he suddenly became angry when I decided to
play back. I had no intention of hurting him, but obviously I had.

I heard a key turn in the door, and then Star came walking in. She smiled when she
saw me sitting at the table.

“You stayed the night. How did things go?”

“All right,” I replied sadly.

“Uh, oh.” She poured a cup of coffee and then she sat down across from me.

“What happened?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Everything was going well, and then he became upset.”

“He does that,” said Star. “I’ll talk to him later. I’m sure you did nothing wrong.”

“I hope not,” I said sadly. “Allen’s a pretty nice guy. I’d hate to do something that
would make him mad at me.”

Star sat back and studied me. I began to feel uncomfortable. “What?”

“Nothing,” she smiled. “Nothing at all.” I hated her doing that. It’s like when
someone has a secret, and they won’t tell you what it is. I wanted to stick my
tongue out at her, but I realized how childish it would be.

Allen came out of the bathroom naked. He was drying his hair, and he didn’t know
that Star had come into the apartment. She casually looked over, unaffected by his
nakedness. She then looked over and caught me wandering my eyes over his body.
When I looked up, she was smiling again.

“What?”

“Nothing,” she replied. “Nothing at all.” She giggled when I did stick my tongue out
at her.

Allen quickly dressed, and then he returned to the kitchen. I stood and gave him my
seat. He sat down without saying a word.

“We’d better get to school,” I said. I wasn’t in a hurry to get to school, but I
suddenly felt uncomfortable around Allen. I had experienced mood swings for years,
but it was different seeing someone else do it. I also didn’t know how he felt about
me. For some reason, he suddenly seemed to resent me being in the apartment.

“You can’t go naked,” giggled Star. I looked down at Allen, expecting him to say
something snide, but he acted as if he didn’t even hear her. She handed me a bag
filled with clothing.

“I’m sure you’ll find something that will fit you.” I went into the bathroom and
opened the bag. The clothes were clean, and it appeared they had never been worn.
I became angry when I retrieved a receipt from the bottom of the bag. It was dated
the day before, and it was for $88.72. Star had gone out and bought me new
clothes after she left last night.

“I wish you hadn’t done this,” I said as I walked out of the bathroom in new jeans
and shirt.

“Do what?” she asked innocently. Her face reddened when I held up the sales receipt.

“Another Star moment,” Allen said sarcastically. He was sitting at the table drinking
coffee. I looked over and tried to get some reaction from him, but he seemed to be
ignoring me.

“Come on.” Star grabbed my hand and led me to the door. “We’re going to be late if
we don’t hurry.”

“Whoopee!” I shrieked. “I can’t wait.” Star slapped me on the shoulder as she went
over and kissed Allen on his cheek.

“Bye,” I said. He looked up and nodded, and then he turned his head and took a sip
from his coffee cup. Star gave us a puzzled look. I know she couldn’t figure out
what was going on. To be honest, neither could I.

Since the weather was nice out, we decided to walk the mile and a half to school. It
meant that we might be late, but I didn’t care. I really didn’t want to return anyway.
I just didn’t know how to politely tell Star.

“How bad is it?” I asked after we were about half way to school.

“How bad is what?”

“The gossip.”

“Oh.”

I knew by the tone of her voice it wouldn’t be good. Since I hadn’t really planned to
return to school, I hadn’t considered how I would react to the stares and
comments. Star reached down, grabbed my hand and squeezed it. I knew she was
trying to allay my worries, but it was useless. “I can’t do this.” I pulled her hand
away and turned to leave.

“Don’t Joey,” she pleaded. Tears started to appear in her eyes. “Don’t do this to
yourself. You’re too smart to just throw your life away. If you give up now, then
they win.”

“I don’t care anymore,” I insisted.

“Yes, you do,” she said emphatically. “If you didn’t care you would have left years
ago. But you stuck with it. You’ve got the best grades of anyone in our class. That
to me doesn’t sound like a guy who wants to quit and throw it all away.”

“You don’t understand.” Tears started to appear in my eyes. I knew what she said
was true. Even when I tried to drown myself, my last thoughts were that I’d never
be able to achieve something; even if it was to prove my own man wrong.

“I don’t understand.” She reached out and took my hand again. “I doubt I ever will.
But one thing I know is, you can’t quit. You’ll never forgive yourself if you do.”

I went over to the curb and sat down, putting my head in my hands. Star sat down,
pressing her body close to mine.

“I haven’t given up on Allen,” she cried, “and I’ll be damn if I give up on you.”

“What did I ever do to deserve a friend like you?” I pulled her into my chest and
cried softly. I was overwhelmed by the concern she had for me. I wasn’t used to
letting people into my life, but somehow Star had been able to carve out a little
section of my heart.

After a few minutes, she pulled away. She looked into my tear-stained face and smile
gently. Then she put her finger to my face and wiped my tears away. It only made
me cry even more. It reminded me of how my mother used to wipe my tears away
when I was a little boy.  After a few minutes, we got up and continued on to school.

I stopped and hesitated before entering the school. My heart was beating rapidly.
Walking back in would probably be one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do. It
meant I had to face all my problems again. It would have been easier to just turn
and walk away, and I probably would have if Star hadn’t been at my side.

I reached down, took her hand and squeezed it. After taking a deep breath, I began
the approach back to my life.


Chapter 9                                  Return to TMJ