It was getting dark when we finally arrived to drop Andrew, Harley and Freddy off. I got out and gave Andrew a big hug. “What about me?” Harley seemed hurt that I had turned to get back into the car without saying goodbye to him.
“Sorry,” I said as I reached down and picked him up. He giggled when I raised him above my head and did a raspberry on his stomach.
“That tickles!” he screamed as he tried to pull away. I put him down, and then Andrew ran up to me.
“Do me!” Since he was much larger than Harley, I had trouble lifting his body. Gabe noticed me struggling to lift him, so he walked over and helped me. He did his back while I did his stomach.
“Stop!” he laughed. We did it again before finally putting him down. He grabbed Harley’s hand and they ran into the house.
Gabe turned to Freddy and me. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not ready to call it a night. It’s Saturday, and we don’t have school tomorrow. Why don’t you guys come home with me, and we’ll stay up all night.”
Freddy looked over at me. When I didn’t respond, he told Gabe, “I’m kind of tired. Maybe we can do it some other time.” I realized he was disappointed that I didn’t want to join them. I looked at him and smiled.
I said challengingly, “I’m game if you are.”
He grinned and asked, “You sure?” When I nodded, he said, “Let me go get some clothes to wear. I’ll be right back.” Gabe laughed when he raced into the house.
We explained to Aunt Barbara what was going on. Gabe phoned his dad to make sure that he had permission for us to spend the night. “All set,” he informed me when he closed his phone. Just then, Freddy came running from the house carrying a plastic bag.
“Shotgun!” Gabe shouted as he jumped into the front seat. When Freddy got into the back seat beside me, he looked over and smiled.
We stopped by my house to pick up a change of clothes. “Do I need pajamas?” I looked over at Gabe. In the past, we had always just slept in our underwear, but I didn’t know if we would with Freddy joining us.
“Naw.” He looked over at Freddy and grinned. “We’ll just sleep naked.” Freddy’s eyes widened.
“What?” Freddy asked excitedly.
Gabe grabbed me and we laughed uncontrollably. He turned back at Freddy and asked innocently, “You do sleep naked like me and Richie, don’t you?”
“I’ve...never...” He started to stammer. We laughed even louder. I walked over to the dresser and pulled out a pair of pajamas.
“Party pooper,” Gabe said disappointedly. Freddy let out a sigh of relief.
Gabe’s mother and father were in their bedroom when we arrived. He went to talk to them while I led Freddy to the family room. I walked over and turned on the big screen television.
“What do you want to watch?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t care.”
“You’d better decide now,” I warned, “because when Gabe comes back and we aren’t watching something, then we’ll be looking at sports the rest of the night.” I quickly turned it to the movie channels. When he saw something he liked, we sat down on the sofa beside each other.
Gabe glanced over at the television when he entered and frowned. “I thought we could watch some college basketball.”
I turned to Freddy. “He wanted to watch this movie, right?” He looked at me and nodded.
“All right,” Gabe sighed as he toed off his shoes, sat down on the floor and rested against the sofa. I could tell he was disappointed, but Freddy was a guest and he didn’t want to be rude.
We had been watching the movie for about ten minutes when Gabe’s cell phone rang. He looked at the number and turned to Freddy. “It’s Sasha.”
“Hey!” he said excitedly, “I didn’t think you’d call. Is Cindi with you?” He turned to Freddy and gave him a thumbs up. He then jumped up on the sofa, pushing Freddy towards me. “Yeah, he’s here. Hold on.” He handed Freddy the phone.
I listened to them talk and giggle for several minutes before getting up and leaving the room. Most of their conversation was about the good time they’d had at the park.
I went into the kitchen to get something to drink. When I returned, Gabe was trying to set up a date with Sasha. He said he was going to talk his mother into driving him to where she lived.
I turned and again left the room. I walked out the back door and stood on the patio. I could hear an owl hooting in a tree in the backyard. I looked up and saw the old tree house Gabe and I used to play in. His father and mine had spent a weekend building it for us when we were seven. We had spent many nights in it.
Gabe also gave me my first introduction to sex in the tree house when we were twelve. Late one night, when he was sure his mother and father had gone to bed, he pulled out a flashlight and a magazine.
“Look!” he said excitedly as he lit up the magazine cover. I read the words, Playboy. There was a picture of a scantily clad girl on the front. He had me hold the flashlight while he opened the pages. My eyes widened when I saw the images of naked girls.
“Where did you get this?” I squealed.
“Shhh!” he warned. “Mom and Dad will hear us.”
“Where did you get this?” I asked again. “You’re going to get in trouble if your dad finds it.” My eyes wouldn’t leave the naked images before me.
“I found it in the street,” he said. “Some perv must have thrown it out.”
“Well,” I replied, “you’re a perv now.”
He looked at me and giggled, “So are you.”
We thumbed through the magazine several times as our small cocks throbbed inside our pants. Gabe and I had seen each other naked many times, so it wasn’t unusual for us to strip our clothes off. We had heard boys talking about jacking off at school, but we had never done it. That night we did, several times as we looked at the pictures of naked girls. Neither of us was able to cum, but it was still a fun night.
I sighed when I thought about how much our lives had changed. Gabe was still interested in girls, but I wasn’t. Suddenly, I felt lonely. I felt that I would never again be happy.
I looked out over the backyard and at the tree house. The ladder was still there that led up to it. I walked over and stood on the first rung. I tested it to make sure it would still hold my weight. It seemed sturdy, so I climbed up into the tree house.
“Ouch!” I muttered when I hit my head on the ceiling when I tried to stand up. I realized I hadn’t been in it in years. It smelled musty. There was a full moon, so I was able to see around me. I picked up a dirty towel with the tips of my fingers and started laughing. It was Gabe’s cum rag. He told me when he was thirteen, he would come up here and jack off so his mother wouldn’t walk in on him in his bedroom.
I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes. ‘I wish I was seven again,’ I thought. ‘Life was much simpler then. Mom was alive and Dad...’ My thoughts trailed off to a happier time.
I remembered the weekend that Dad and Mr. Dyson built the tree house. Gabe and I had helped them unload the wood from his Dad’s truck and carry it to the tree. We watched excitedly for hours as they climbed around on ladders and tree branches making our new place of adventure. We imagined playing Tarzan while our fathers laughed above us.
I relived the moment when they added the ladder and announced that it was ready for us. We jumped and screamed with delight as we jumped into our father’s arms and hugged them tightly.
But that was long ago.
I must have been in the tree house for about fifteen minutes when I felt the tree house begin to sway. I thought it was Gabe coming to look for me, but I was surprised when Freddy’s face appeared in the small doorway. He squinted his eyes and looked into the darkened room before he saw me sitting against the wall.
“You all right? he asked worriedly. “Gabe thought you might be out here.” When I didn’t respond, he pulled himself into the tree house, crawled over and sat down beside me.
He looked around the dimly lit room. “This is kind of neat,” he remarked. “Did you and Gabe build this?”
“No,” I answered. “Our dads did.”
We sat in silence for a couple of minutes before I spoke. “Why are you always following me?” When I looked over at him, he shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t know,” he replied. We stared into each other’s eyes briefly before he looked away.
“I thought you and Gabe were talking to those girls you met today.” I tried not to sound hurt, but I wasn’t sure I could hide my feelings.
“Yeah, well,” he laughed nervously. “Gabe is still talking to Sasha.”
“Why aren’t you talking to Cindi?” I was curious why he still wasn’t on the phone to her.
“I told her I had some other things to do,” he responded.
“Don’t you like her?”
“She’s all right,” he said as he shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not really looking for a girlfriend.”
“I don’t know,” he sighed. I could tell by the tone of his voice he didn’t want to say any more. We sat silently for several more minutes. Finally, he started to get up.
“I guess I better go,” he said sadly. “I’m sorry I bothered you. I kind of figured you didn’t like me.”
He was about to climb down the ladder when I stopped him. “You haven’t exactly given me a reason to like you.” He climbed back in and sat down beside me once again.
“I’m not the enemy, Richie,” he stated adamantly. “I don’t like what’s going on any more than you do.”
“Yeah,” I said angrily, “but you’re in my room while I’m staying with my aunt and uncle.”
“I’m not in your room,” he informed me. I gave him a puzzled look. “When they moved your things out, I started sleeping in the family room in the basement.”
I turned toward him. “Why?”
“It didn’t seem right,” he said. He reached out and gently touched my arm. “Look, Richie. Mom and I have been fighting ever since we moved into your house. I’ve been against this since the beginning. I even called my dad and asked him if I could come stay with him.”
“Where does he live?”
“Tokyo, Japan.” He looked over and frowned. “He’s a contractor for the Defense Department. He told me he wouldn’t fly me there. Besides, he has remarried and has a family over there.”
“Oh,” I replied, not knowing what else to say. We sat again in silence for several more minutes.
“How can you put up with him?” I finally asked. If he wanted to leave, then he must feel the same way I do.
“He’s not a bad guy.” I sat up and looked at him. “We got along pretty good for a while.”
“You like him?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Yeah, until...” he stopped and closed his eyes.
“Until that night I saw you on your bike.”
“We were eating in a restaurant and you came by on your bike,” he said. I recalled that incident. It was the first time I had seen him with her.
“Mom told me he was married when they met,” he informed me, “but I didn’t think about it until I saw the hurt look in your eyes.” He let out a deep sigh. “Things kind of changed after that.”
I couldn’t believe that both of us felt the same way. Seeing him with her, Freddy and Harley that night had been the beginning of my hatred for him. Now it appears that Freddy had experienced a similar feeling.
He looked at me. “Mom really loves him.” I sat back and crossed my arms defensively. “She tried to explain to me that she never meant to hurt your mom.”
I started to get up. “I don’t want to hear this,” I said as I started to crawl toward the door. He put his hand out and grabbed my arm.
“Please, Richie,” he pleaded. “Let me talk. I don’t want you to hate us.” I hesitated before scooting back and sitting down beside him.
“Mom said when she and your father met,” he continued, “he told her his marriage to your mom was over. He was still at home, but they had agreed on a separation.” I knew for months that he was sleeping downstairs while she slept in the master bedroom. I just thought they were angry at each other.
“My mom and I fought a lot back then,” he confessed. “I even called her a whore once.” He gave me a puzzled look when I started laughing. “What’s funny?”
“Never mind,” I said as my laughter subsided.
“The next thing I knew,” he continued, “we were moving into a downtown apartment with him.”
“Yeah,” I sighed, “I know.”
“Things were going along pretty good for about a year, and then suddenly everything changed.”
“It’s when your mother got sick,” he replied. “I think it really broke him up.”
“He sure didn’t act like it,” I said angrily. “He never once came around when she was dying.”
He sat up and looked at me. “He wanted to, but your mother told him she didn’t want to see him. I heard him tell Mom that every time he would call, she would hang up on him.”
“I’ve heard enough,” I said angrily. I started to leave but he again stopped me.
“You have to believe me, Richie,” he pleaded. “Why would I be lying to you?”
“Because you’re on his side!” I shouted. When I started to crawl away, he grabbed my arm with both hands.
“He loves you, Richie!”
I raised my hand to hit him, but he stopped me. I started to cry hysterically. “He hates me!” I screamed. “If he loved me, he wouldn’t have left me when I needed him. I had to take care of her by myself. I was just a kid!” He pulled me into his arms. My head fell into his lap as I cried uncontrollably. He gently ran his hand over my head.
“People make mistakes.” His voice shook with emotion. I continued to cry as he rocked me in his arms. After a few minutes, I sat up and wiped my eyes dry.
Freddy asked worriedly, “Are you all right, Richie,”
“No,” I answered. “I don’t think I’m ever going to be all right.” When I sat back against the wall, Freddy scooted nearer until our bodies were touching.
I looked over at him. “If he loves me like you say he does,” I asked, “then why has he been so mean to me?”
Freddy laughed nervously. “You haven’t exactly been the easiest person to live with. I guess you kind of pushed all the wrong buttons.”
“But he hit me!” I screamed.
“And he shouldn’t have,” he said angrily. “But sometimes you deserved it.”
“Yeah,” he laughed nervously. “Like that time you said you’d been fucking Mom all night. I wanted to come across the room and hit you. I would have if your dad hadn’t pushed you out onto the deck.”
“But still...” I sat back and remembered that night I had come home after drinking. I had tried to get him to hit me. I looked over at Freddy. “Sorry I said those things about your mom.”
“It’s okay,” he replied. We sat silently for a few minutes. He kept looking over at me. Finally, he spoke. “Can I ask you something?”
“I guess, what?”
“When you were in the hospital, what did you say to your father?”
“It was really strange,” he explained. “He came home after seeing you, and we were eating dinner. Suddenly, he started crying. I’d never seen a grown man break down like that. He left the table, and Mom followed him into the bedroom. They were there the rest of the night and never came out.” He stared at me. “The next day they removed your things from your room. What did you say to him?”
I rested my head against the wall and closed my eyes. “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“It’s going to be okay, Richie?” He reached over, took my hand and held it. For some reason, I didn’t feel like pulling away. I turned my hand over and locked my fingers around his.
“Can we just sit like this for a few minutes?” I asked. For the first time since meeting him, I felt close to Freddy, perhaps even closer than I had with Wade. Maybe it was because we had shared similar feelings for the past few years. Maybe it was just because I was tired of being lonely.
“Sure.” He leaned into my body and gripped my hand tightly. After a few minutes, he turned to me with a concerned look. “So, what are you going to do now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Your life,” he responded. He continued to hold my hand tightly. “You ever going to come back home?”
I rested my head on the wall and sighed deeply. “I don’t know.” I sat up and looked into his eyes. “I just want to be happy for a change. I’m tired of living like this.” Tears welled up in both our eyes.
“You’ll find happiness someday,” he assured me. “Trust me.” Tears started to fall down my face. He smiled and gently wiped them away. I thought he was going to lean in and kiss me. I even closed my eyes and waited for it. But suddenly the tree house started to shake. He pulled his hand from mine and quickly scooted away.
Gabe’s head emerged. He squinted to see us in the darkened room. “There you two are,” he said as he climbed in. “What are you doing in here? Jacking off?” He started to laugh until he saw that both of us appeared upset. He moved around and sat down beside me.
“This old place hasn’t changed much, has it, Rich?” He looked at me and smiled. “We had some good times in here.” He looked past me at Freddy. “Did he tell you about the Playboy magazine yet?” Freddy laughed and looked over at me.
“No,” he smiled. “He hasn’t.” Gabe crawled across the room, lifted a small rug and held up a worn magazine.
“Here it is.” He scooted back over and sat down beside me. “Remember this, Richie?” I nodded my head. “We were about ten when I found it.”
“Twelve,” I reminded him.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Twelve.” He handed the magazine to Freddy. Freddy quickly thumbed through it and handed it back.
“Just like Richie,” he smiled as he replaced the magazine back into its hiding place.
“What do you mean?” I asked defensively. “Just like me?”
“Relax, Richie,” he replied. “It’s just that you didn’t much like looking at the pictures either. Me, though.” He made a gesture as if he was masturbating. “I did.”
I laughed and then grabbed the blue towel sitting on the other side of him. “I know.” If it hadn’t been so dark, I’m sure we would have seen his face turn a bright shade of scarlet.
“Hey!” He threw up his arms. “I’m a teenager. We all do it.” He looked over at Freddy. “Right?”
“Um...I... I...” Freddy started to stammer.
“Relax,” Gabe laughed. “You really don’t have to answer that.”
When I saw how embarrassed Freddy was, I tried to change the subject. “How did your talk with Sasha go? Are you going to go out with her?”
“I think so,” he answered excitedly. “She’s pretty cool.” He looked back over at Freddy. “Cindi’s kind of upset that you didn’t want to talk to her. It’s okay, though. I told her you were seeing someone.” He looked back and forth between Freddy and me and grinned.
“What?” I asked when I noticed his grin.
“Nothing,” he laughed. “Everything’s cool.” His eyes darted back and forth between us. “Everything’s cool.”
He scooted over and sat in front of us. “I know what,” he said excitedly. “Let’s sleep up here tonight.” He looked at me and smiled. “It will be just like old times. What do you say?”
“You’re not going to get out that magazine and make me jack off with you, are you?”
Freddy turned to me with a surprised look. “You guys did that?”
Gabe laughed. “Well, duh,” he giggled. “We were twelve. Of course we did.” He started crawling over to the door. “You guys stay here. I’m going to the house and bring us back something to eat.” He turned to me and gave me an evil grin. “I’ll bring back a flashlight.”
He ducked when I threw the stiff, blue towel at him.