“There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
We waited until it got dark before we decided it might be safe to leave our hiding place. The lights were on in the house, but we didn’t see anyone moving about the yard.
“Come on,” I whispered to Charles as I stood and took his hand to help him up.
He asked, “Where are we going?”
I pointed to a nearby barn. “Let’s see if we can find a place to sleep in there.” I looked up into the sky, and I didn’t see the moon or stars. “I think we might get some rain soon. We’ll get wet if we stay here.”
We carefully made our way to the barn. I kept watching to see if anyone looked out the window to see us. Once inside, I looked around. I noticed a ladder that led to the loft. Even though I had never been in a barn before, I had a friend who told me he used to help his grandfather when he would visit in the summer. He said he used to enjoy playing in the hay loft. I wasn’t sure what we would find, but it was worth taking the risk rather than being discovered.
We climbed the ladder and sat on a bale of hay. Looking around, the loft was half-filled with bales. It was hard to see since there was no light except for one light downstairs that cast a small glow above. We jumped when we heard a strange noise coming from a rafters above.
“What’s that?” Charles asked as he grabbed me and held me tightly.
I replied, “An owl, I think.”
“Do they bite?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.” I kissed him gently on his cheek. “We’re going to be okay.”
He trembled in my arms. “I don’t think so,” he cried. “I’m so scared.”
I began to yawn. “I’m tired,” I said. “Let’s spread some of this hay into a bed and try to get some sleep.” He nodded, and we quickly made a makeshift bed. We lay close to each other and snuggled.
“What’s going to happen to us?” Charles asked worriedly.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t want to go back to home, and I definitely don’t want to go back to Pastor Simpson’s house.”
“Me either,” he replied. “But I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
I put my arm around him and pulled him tightly to me. “Let’s get some sleep, and we’ll leave early in the morning before the sun comes up. If we’re not too far from town, we’ll go to Ricky’s house. His dad can help us.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “He’s a pretty cool guy. He’s been like a father to me. Besides, he knows Ricky is gay. He’ll know what to do.”
“His dad knows he’s gay, and he doesn’t care?” asked Charles in amazement.
“Yeah,” I said. “I told you he’s pretty cool.”
Charles sighed and replied worriedly, “I hope so.”
We tried to sleep, but we both tossed and turned. “I can’t sleep,” grumbled Charles. “This is too uncomfortable.”
“I know,” I agreed. “I can’t either.”
I sat up and looked down at Charles and asked, “You want to do some stuff? It might help us sleep.”
“Do some stuff?” he asked. “Like what?”
“This,” I giggled as I reached down and grabbed his crotch and began rubbing him.
“Oh,” he moaned as he began to harden. He reached over and started rubbing me. I was already hard.
I stood and removed my shirt. “Let’s get naked,” I giggled. “No one’s going to see us.” Charles hesitated before he rose and started getting undressed. When we were naked, I approached Charles and hugged him. Our erections pressed against our bodies.
“Mmmm,” I moaned. “I like this.”
He pulled me tighter and said, “I do too.” He gasped when I dropped to my knees and engulfed his dick in my mouth.
“Wait,” he said softly. “I want to do you too.”
“I got an idea,” I suggested. “Let’s lay down and do each other at the same time.” We carefully lay on the hay and got into a 69 position. I took his dick into my mouth as he did the same to me. It was a different feeling, and we were both enjoying it.
We were so engrossed in what we were doing that we didn’t hear someone enter the barn and climb the ladder. Suddenly, a flashlight shone upon our naked bodies. “Hey!” a youthful voice asked, “What are you doing up here?”
Charles and I panicked. We quickly grabbed the nearest piece of clothing and attempted to cover our naked bodies. The person stepped off the ladder and looked down at us. “I asked what are you doing up here?” I couldn’t see the person speaking because of the light of the flashlight.
“We ain’t doing anything,” I replied nervously. “We were just trying to get some sleep. Honest. We wasn’t going to steal anything.”
The voice asked, “Matt? Is that you?”
My heart started pounding. Whoever had discovered us knew me. He had caught me having sex with Charles. “Who are you?” I asked nervously. Again, I thought we were in serious danger.
He shone the light on us and ordered, “You two get dressed. You got a lot of explaining to do.” He continued to shine the light so we could find our clothes. We dressed as quickly as we could. When we were done, the person approached us.
“Sit over here on this bale,” he instructed as he shone the light on us. After we sat down, he sat opposite us. I still couldn’t make out who it was until he turned the flashlight and shone it on his face.
“Pete!” I shouted. “What are you doing here?”
He giggled and replied, “I live here, Stupid. What are you doing here?” He shined the light onto Charles’ face. “Hi Charles.” Charles timidly waved at him.
Pete Williams is a classmate, but he isn’t someone I would call a close friend. He’s extremely athletic, and he plays on three team sports: football, basketball and track. I’ve admired him from a distance since we were in grade school. He’s the guy everyone wants to know, but if you’re someone like me, you don’t have a chance. Most of his friends are other athletes or pretty girls who hang around him hoping that he will notice them.
He’s also probably the most handsome boy in our class. If you walk through a mall and see a poster in a clothing shop showing a boy wearing the latest fashion, it would be Pete Williams. He has curly dark brown hair, brown eyes, a dimpled smile on an athlete’s body. Pete is the kind of boy every mother wishes her daughter would date. Even though he’s never had a steady girlfriend that I know of, it’s been rumored that he has had his share of leaving a long trail of old lovers.
He sat the flashlight between us, so we could see each other’s faces. His brown eyes twinkled with excitement. I wasn’t sure how to read him. He didn’t seem upset that he had just caught two boys having sex in his hayloft, but again, he might be waiting to hear our excuse before he decided what to do.
“I’ll ask you again,” he said without seeming angry. “What are you and Charles doing in my hayloft having sex?”
“We didn’t know it was your barn,” I apologized. “We’re not here to steal or anything.”
He smiled a broader smile. “You still ain’t answered my question, Matt. Why are you up here in the hayloft?”
I looked worriedly at Charles. How could I ever begin to tell Pete why we were in his hayloft. Even if I did, he probably wouldn’t believe us. “Well?” he asked. I looked again at Charles, and he nodded his head.
I asked, “Are you sure?”
“Maybe he can help us,” replied Charles. “What do we have to lose?”
Pete asked, “Help you with what?”
I looked Pete in the eyes and asked, “If we tell you, you promise you won’t tell anyone?”
He grinned and replied, “I can’t promise anything until you tell me. But yeah, you can tell me.”
“Okay,” I sighed. I spent the next ten minutes telling Pete about the situation we were in. I confessed that Charles and I are gay, and then told him how our parents had sent us to Pastor Simpson for conversion therapy. He shook his head in disbelief when I told him how Pastor Simpson had taped Charles and me having sex, and now he was threatening to show the video to our parents. I finished by telling hm how we had broken the window and escaped. When I was done, my face was stained with tears. I looked over at Charles and he was also crying.
“So,” I said as I took a deep breath. “That’s why we are here in your hayloft.”
“Damn,” he hissed. “Jesus Christ, what you guys have been through.” I wiped tears from my face and nodded.
“The past few days have been a nightmare,” I cried.
He rose from the bale of hay and said, “You guys hang tight. I’ll be right back.” He took the flashlight, climbed onto the ladder and disappeared.
Charles started to weep. “I bet he’s going to call the sheriff, and we’re going to be taken back to Pastor Simpson’s.” He rose and started pacing around.
“What are you doing?” I asked worriedly.
“I’m trying to find a way to kill myself,” he wailed. “There has to be some rope around here someplace.”
I rushed over and took him in my arms. “Don’t, Charles,” I cried as I held him tightly. “We can’t give up.”
“I can’t go back,” Charles replied as he buried his head in my shoulder and sobbed. We jumped when we heard the barn door close below us. Soon, Pete was coming up the ladder. He placed a bag on the floor before climbing into the loft. He grabbed the bag and brought it over to us.
“He alright?” he asked as he looked at Charles still clinging to me and sobbing loudly.
I nodded and replied, “He’s really scared. He doesn’t want to go back.” I looked worried at Pete. “You didn’t call the sheriff, did you?”
“Hell, no!” he spat angrily. “I wouldn’t do that.” He pointed for us to have a seat on a bale of hay. “Sit down.”
After we sat, he placed the bag in front of us. He reached in and pulled out a six pack of Coke, a big bag of potato chips and a box of crackers. “Sorry,” he apologized, “but it is all I could find right now.” He smiled and added, “I figured you are hungry.”
“You have no idea,” I said happily as I reached for the bag of chips, reached in and took a handful. I then handed the bag to Charles, and he began eating hungrily. A few minutes later, the chips and crackers had disappeared.
“Thanks,” I said appreciatively as I wiped my mouth with my sleeve. “We were hungry. We had a few apples off your tree, but that’s all.”
He smiled and replied, “Those are some good apples. Mom makes apple pies with them. The rest we can for the winter.”
We sat and stared at each other. I think Pete was as confused as I was as what should happen next. Finally, he asked, “What are you guys going to do next?”
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t have a clue. There’s no one who can help us. We were going to try and get to Ricky’s house tomorrow and see if his dad could help us.”
“Ricky Fowler?” he asked. I nodded my head. “Isn’t he like your best bud?” I smiled and nodded my head again.
“I don’t know what his dad can do, though,” I responded worriedly. “He’ll just call my dad to let him know I’m okay. Dad will come get me and take me back to Pastor Simpson’s.”
“That guy sounds like a dangerous asshole,” he spat angrily.
“You got that right,” I replied.
“Well, you’re not going back to him,” he assured me as he moved closer and stared into my face. “Why don’t you guys try and get some sleep. Give me some time to think about this. I may have an idea.”
“What idea?” I asked.
“Can’t say yet,” he replied. “I need some time to work something out.” He put his hand on my arm. “Trust me, okay?”
I nodded my head. “What do we have to lose?”
“Okay,” he said as he headed toward the ladder. “I’ll be back in the morning with something else for you guys to eat.” He started grinning widely. “Just keep your clothes on this time. I don’t want to come back up and see what I saw earlier.” He laughed and climbed down the ladder.
We lay down on the hay and snuggled closely. The temperature had dropped quite a bit since we first entered the barn. I could feel Charles trembling slightly. I scooted nearer and put my arms around him.
He sighed and asked, “What do you think is going to happen next? Do you think we can trust Pete?”
“We have to,” I replied. “Right now, we don’t have a lot of options.” He nodded his head and relaxed in my arms.
“This is nice,” he said softly. He looked into my eyes and smiled slightly. “You’re the only good thing that has happened.” I leaned down and kissed him gently.
“I know,” I said. “I wish we had met under different circumstances.”
He frowned and responded, “You’ve known me for years, Matt.” He tried to pull away, but I held him tightly. “You could have spoken to me anytime.”
“I was wrong,” I confessed. I kissed him again. “But now, we’re together.”
He pulled away, and this time I let him. He sat up and stared at me. “Are we, Matt? Are we really together?”
“Sure,” I replied, but I knew he was expecting me to say more.
“And tomorrow what?”
“What do you mean, what?”
“If we get out of this mess,” he asked suspiciously, “Will you continue to be my friend, or will you go back to ignoring me again?”
I knew what he was asking, but I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted to hear. We had become very close because of what we were experiencing. There was a strong bond between us. However, Charles was right. Could I be seen holding his hand? Could I kiss him in front of our friends? Could I confess to Ricky what Charles and I had done? Would Ricky understand?
I began to realize that I was perhaps taking advantage of Charles. I cared a lot about him. I wanted him to be safe. But looking at the sad expression on his face, I felt he wanted more. I felt that he may be falling in love.
Love? What am I talking about? I don’t know what love is. I’ve never really experienced it. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever loved my parents. I know I don’t love my dad, and I probably never will. And mom was just, well, mom. However, I don’t know if I can say I love my mother. After what has happened the past few days, I don’t know if I can ever love or trust her again.
I know she’ll say that she was going along with what my father wanted to do. She’ll agree that she was doing what she thought was best for me. But I want her to tell me she did it because she loved me. Yet, I know she’ll never say it.
Charles sighed and lay back down. His thin body was trembling from the cold. Carefully, I made my way to the ladder. There was just enough light below to be able to descend the ladder. Once down, I began to search around the barn for anything we could use to cover us from the cold.
I heard a horse neigh, and I carefully approached his stall. Fortunately, there was a horse blanket hanging over the wooden wall to the stall. The horse surprised me when he peeked out over the wall. I gently rubbed his nose as he nudged my body slightly. I think he thought I was Pete, and that I was going to feed him. After a few more pets, I grabbed the blanket and walked away. As I approached the ladder, I smelled the blanket. It had an earthy smell like horse’s sweat. I shrugged my shoulders. It was either shiver in the cold or endure the strong odor of an animal. I thought the latter option was the best.
I climbed the ladder and approached Charles lying in the hay. It appeared he had tried to find warmth by covering his body with hay. I lay down and tossed the blanket over us. He stirred slightly and pulled the body over him.
“It stinks,” he mumbled.
“Yeah,” I replied as I lay beside him and covered myself. I couldn’t sleep, and I could tell by his movements that Charles was having trouble sleeping, too. I scooted nearer to him and put my arm around him. He sighed and spooned his body into mine. “Are you warm?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied softly. He began to cry as his body trembled. He rolled over and faced me. In the dark, I could see tears glistening in his eyes.
“Matt,” he said almost inaudibly. “I’m in love with you.” I leaned forward and kissed him.
I awoke when I heard voices below. It must have been early dawn because light was creeping in through the wooden barn siding. I listened thinking that either Pete or his father had come to the barn to do morning chores. I had heard cows mooing below all night, so I thought someone might have come in to milk them.
Charles moved beside me. When he noticed that I was sitting up, he rose and asked me what was wrong. “Shhhh,” I said as I put my lips to my mouth. “Someone is in the barn.”
“I dunno,” I replied. The voices grew louder. We couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it appeared to be several people. We jumped when we heard someone climbing the ladder. A heavy man’s face first appeared. As he took more steps, we saw a gray uniform and a sheriff’s badge.
“There they are,” he announced to the others below as he pointed in our direction. “I don’t want any trouble from you boys,” he warned us angrily. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at us. “Just get up slowly and make your way over here. Do as I say, and no one will get hurt.”
I wanted to piss my pants. We rose and Charles gripped my arm tightly. “I’m scared,” he said softly.
I said, “Let’s do as he says.” We started to move slowly and cautiously toward the sheriff. I was afraid if we did anything, he might shoot us. He started to descend the steps and instructed us to follow. When I looked below there were three or four other officers.
When I began to descend the stairs, Pastor Simpson pointed at me and shouted, “That’s him.” When we were on the ground below, we were quickly handcuffed.
Charles and I were separated. He was led to one cruiser, while I was put in the back of another. I stared out the window as the sheriff stood nearby talking to Pastor Simpson. He kept pointing toward the car. After several minutes, he got in his car and drove away.
The sheriff sauntered over to the cruiser and got in. He looked in the back seat at me and scowled. “You’re in a heap of trouble, Boy,” he said angrily. I cried as we drove away.