Shade was backstage painting a mountain scene on one of the stage props. I stood and admired him as he worked meticulously on the project. Others were nearby, but he seemed to be in his own little world.
I approached and knelt down beside him. He didn’t even look over, but kept painting a blue sky. He reached for a brush, and feathered in a few clouds overhead.
“That’s beautiful,” I said.
He replied coldly, “Thanks.”
I didn’t know what to say. How do you just tell someone you like them when you’ve never had any experience? My heart felt like it was thumping outside my chest. My hands were shaking so badly, I had to put them inside the pockets of my jeans.
I continued to stare at Shade’s face. He attempted to ignore me, but occasionally he would glance out of the corner of his eye to see me watching him. Finally, he put down his brush, turned toward me and asked, “What do you want, Casey?”
“I dunno,” I stammered nervously. “I thought maybe I could help you.” I attempted a smile. “I am the assistant stage manager.”
He stared into my eyes. I think he was trying to understand my nervousness. He reached for a small brush and a can of black paint. “Can you draw birds?”
“I don’t know,” I responded nervously. “I’ve never tried.”
He handed me the brush, and then he reached for a blank sheet of paper laying nearby. “Let me show you,” he said. “Drawing birds is easy.”
“For you,” I laughed. It surprised me when he took the brush and placed it in my hand. He then covered his hand over mine and placed the brush to the paper.
Our bodies were pressing together as he dipped the brush into the black paint and brought my hand to the blank paper.
His voice quivered as he whispered gently into my ear, “Watch what I do.” He then guided my hand as we drew a bird in flight. We then drew another and another. Soon, it appeared like a flock of birds in the sky.
I looked into his face, smiled and said, “That’s amazing.” When he loosened the grip on my hand, I placed my hand over his and squeezed it tightly. He looked down and smiled.
As I held his hand, I said softly, “There’s something about birds. They are so free.”
He looked deeply into my eyes, smiled and repeated, “Yes, so free.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I said softly, “I love it when they sing.”
He took my other hand in his and squeezed it tightly. “If you listen carefully,” he whispered, “you can hear them singing.”
A tear escaped my eye and slowly drifted down my cheek as I replied, “I can hear them singing.”
We closed our eyes and pressed our lips together. His kiss was gentle and soft. It was a perfect first kiss. Years from now, when we are old and our hair gray, I will remember that kiss, and I’ll remember the moment I first fell in love with Shade.
We jumped apart when we heard someone behind us loudly clear their throat, “Ahem!” When we turned, Megan was standing looking down at us with a wide grin on her face.
“It’s about time,” she said as she walked over, knelt down and kissed us both on the cheek. She took Shade’s hand and helped him to his feet. “Now maybe I can get some homework done without Shade spending each night talking about you.”
His face reddened as he extended his hand and helped me to my feet. Megan looked down and smiled when she noticed that we continued to hold hands.
I pulled my hand away from Shade and looked nervously around. Shade reached for my hand and gripped it tightly. “Don’t worry, Casey,” he laughed. “We’re in theater. No one in here cares.”
I was surprised when two students approached with a problem. They didn’t even seem to notice that we were holding hands as he helped them. When they walked away, he looked over, grinned and said, “See. I told you.”
Megan hurried away when Max called out to her. Shade and I went back to finishing the mountain scene. Only this time we worked with our bodies pressed closely together. Occasionally, we’d look at each other and smile.
I drew several birds into the scenery. Each time I did, I swear I could hear the birds chirping loudly.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Shade wanted to drive Lane and me home, but he had to go to work right after school. He said he was already on probation for being late three times, and if was late once more, he would be fired. He did walk me to my locker. We wanted to kiss goodbye, but there were too many students around. It may have been safe to do it backstage in the theater, but two boys displaying affection in a crowded hallway was dangerous.
Shade grinned as he backed away and murmured softly, “I’ll dream about you tonight.”
I laughed and replied, “It will be more like a nightmare.”
“Never,” he smiled as he turned and rushed off down the hall.
I was heading to get Lane when someone stepped up beside me. I looked over as Megan wrapped her arm around mine and walked beside me.
“I couldn’t be any happier,” she remarked with a smile. “Two of my favorite guys are finally getting together.”
She laughed when I said, “I really liked Shade, but I seriously thought you two were dating. I didn’t want to come between you.”
She stopped and looked up at me. “Shade is a really good guy, Casey.”
“I know that,” I replied.
“But he doesn’t realize it,” she said. “You’ve met his mom, right?” I nodded my head. “He comes from a really poor background. It’s just the two of them. His father left them when he was just a kid.”
“My father left me when I was small,” I said.
“But you don’t come from where he’s coming from,” she stated sadly. “His mother works her ass for all day for very little money. If she didn’t work at the diner and get the food they throw away at night, they probably wouldn’t have anything to eat sometimes.”
“I don’t understand why they have so much trouble if it is just the two of them,” I responded. Even though Mrs. Shade was a waitress, it seemed like she should make enough money to take care of both of them.
Megan hesitated a moment as she looked at me. Finally, she sighed and said, “There’s more to the story.”
I gave her a puzzled look and asked, “What?”
She held my hand and squeezed it. “You’ve got to swear on a stack of Bibles that you won’t tell Shade that I told you.”
“Told me what?” I asked. “You haven’t told me anything.”
She then looked around and whispered, “Shade was sexually assaulted when he was six years old.”
“It was a neighbor they trusted,” she continued. “It went on for about a year before he finally told his mother what was happening.”
“Jesus,” I muttered. “That’s awful.” My heart was breaking for what Shade must have gone through the past few years.
“That’s not all of the story,” she informed me. She looked around the hallway before continuing. “When his father found out what was happening, he went next door and beat the guy to death.”
“What!” I shrieked.
Tears started to fall down her cheek. “Shade was just a little boy when it happened, but everyone in town knew about it because it was in all the newspapers and on the television. My parents tried to keep it from me, but most of what I know is what Shade has told.” She squeezed my hands tighter. “His father has been in prison since he was six. His mother is saving almost every penny she makes to hire a good attorney so she can try to convince the court to have another trial.” Megan fell against me and started sobbing. I wrapped my arms around her and held her while she wept.
After a minute, she stepped back and wiped her eyes. “Please don’t tell Shade I told you,” she pleaded. “I just thought you should know the whole story. Shade will never tell you.”
“I promise,” I assured her.
She smiled slightly and then reached for my hand. “We’d better go get Lane. He’s probably wondering where you are.”
I asked, “You’re going with me?”
“Of course,” she giggled. “I gotta see my adorable little Lane.”
Lane rushed up to Megan and hugged her when we approached. “Megan!” he squealed. “Are you walking home with us?”
“No,” she laughed as she knelt down and kissed him on the cheek. She stood and took hold of his hand. “But I’ll walk you to the exit.”
He yelled excitedly, “Yippee!” as he started skipping beside her. I followed behind and smiled as she started skipping with him.
We were standing at the exit saying goodbye when I heard someone call out my name from down the hall. I looked and saw Rodney jogging our way.
“Hey,” he said as he approached. Lane ran over and hugged him.
“Why are you here?” he asked his older brother.
Rodney ruffled Lane’s hair and said, “I wanted to see Casey.” He looked over and said appreciatively, “I want to thank you.”
I gave him a puzzled look and asked, “Why? What did I do?”
Just then, Rodney noticed Megan. “Hello,” he apologized as he extended his hand to her. “I’m Rodney, Lane’s older brother.”
Megan giggled as her face reddened. “I know who you are,” she said. “I’ve attended a few basketball games.” I laughed when she scanned Rodney’s body, and then added, “You look better in those tight basketball shorts.”
Rodney tried to stammer out something, but he was too embarrassed to say anything. I laughed at Megan’s comment, and Rodney’s inability to reply. Feeling sorry for him, I asked, “What did you want to thank me for?”
“Oh, yeah,” he replied as he glanced quickly over at Megan before turning back to me. “Thanks for telling me to go talk to Moore. She told me I don’t need physics. She rearranged my schedule so I can cut out after sixth period.”
“Great,” I replied. “She wouldn’t do it for me, but I guess because you’re a senior, she’ll let you.”
“That’s what she said,” he replied.
Megan wrapped her arm around Rodney’s. “Can you sing?”
“No, why?” he replied.
She pulled her arm away and said, “Never mind.” I started laughing because I knew what Megan wanted. She still needed a Mr. Von Trapp for the play.
Rodney ruffled Lane’s hair again and said, “I gotta get to practice.” He turned to Megan. “It was nice meeting you.” She smiled as he turned and hurried off down the hall.
“Too bad he can’t sing,” she sighed after he was gone.
When Lane and I arrived home, I told him I wanted to go to my room and rest before we fixed dinner. Actually, I needed time alone to think. I was still upset by what Megan had told me about Shade’s past. Just when it seemed like we were going to take our friendship to another level, I had to learn about the horrible tragedy he endured as a young boy.
On the surface, he seemed like a normal teenage boy. I admired him because he seemed confident and self-assured. However, after what happened to him must have left some kind of lasting scars. If it did, he hid it well.
Now, though, I was unsure if I could provide him the love and affection he surely needed. I was just beginning to get myself together, and I was depending on a young, twelve-year old boy to help me. How could I possibly help Shade when I needed help myself?
Somehow, I did manage to fall asleep for a little while. I was awoken when Lane came running into my room in just his underwear. He jumped on the bed and threw his small body onto mine.
“Ooomph!” I moaned as he pressed his body into mine. “What is wrong with you?”
He looked into my face, grinned mischievously and announced gleefully, “I did it!”
I asked, “Did what?”
He giggled and replied, “I made the white stuff come out!” He giggled again and then added, “Three times!”
He jumped off the bed, stood on the floor and pulled his underpants to his ankles. He grabbed his small, erect dick and started stroking it. “Wanna see? I think I can do it again.”
I shouted, “No!” He jumped and looked like he was getting ready to cry.
I said more gently, “Pull up your underwear,” I patted the side of the bed and said, “Sit here beside me.”
He pulled up his underwear and sat down. “Now we’ve had this talk before, haven’t we?”
He nodded his head and muttered sadly, “But I made the white stuff come out. Aren’t you happy for me?”
I grinned and gave him a hug. “Yes, Lane,” I assured him, “I’m happy for you.” I held his shoulders and added, “Today you came a little closer to becoming a man.”
He grinned, nodded his head and asked, “I did?”
“Of course,” I said. “And what do men not do in front of other men?”
He thought a minute and replied, “Not play with our willies in front of other men?”
I ruffled his head and said, “That’s right.”
He jumped from the bed. “Okay,” he said as he happily. “But if you ever want to watch me make the white stuff come out, you can.”
“It’s a deal,” I laughed as I patted him on his butt. “Now go back to your room and get dressed. We have to start dinner.”
“Okay,” he smiled. As he left he said, “Maybe I’ll do it one more time before I get dressed.” I laughed and shook my head as he hurried from the room.
I remembered how thrilled I was the first time I came. I was about Lane’s age, and I was taking a shower. My dick got hard as it always did, but for some reason that night it felt different. As I vigorously jerked it off, I could feel a different sensation building up inside my body. I knew what it was because every boy waits for the day it finally happens. When it did, I exploded on the shower wall. I moaned so hard I was afraid my mother would hear me in the family room. When I finished, my knees became weak and I had to sit down in the tub for a few minutes as I caught my breath.
Now, Lane had passed into the new realm of manhood. Soon I would have to sit down and discuss the meaning of the ‘white stuff’ to him. I just hope I can find the right words to make him understand.
I heard the phone ring, and I assumed Lane answered it when it stopped. A few minutes later, it rang again. I climbed out of bed, went into the family room to see who was calling. Caller ID said it was Karen’s phone. When I answered it, Karen asked why it had rung for so long. I explained that I thought Lane would get it. I laughed silently when I realized why he probably didn’t.
“Don’t fix dinner tonight, Honey,” she said. I asked her what the special occasion was, but she said she just felt like having Mexican again tonight. I asked her if it would be all right if I stayed home to finish a report I was writing for history. I knew Lane would be upset if I didn’t go, but I had put it off for several days, and it needed to be finished.
“Okay,” she said disappointedly. I assured her that I could find something in the refrigerator to eat. I rolled my eyes when she said the boys would miss me. Fat chance, I thought, that Curtis would even notice I hadn’t joined them.
I went upstairs to tell Lane about the dinner plans. I carefully opened his door to make sure he wasn’t still trying to make the ‘white stuff.’ I was relieved to see him lying on his bed playing a video game. He whined because I wasn’t going, but I convinced him I had to stay behind to finish my assignment. We played a game for about a half hour until Karen arrived.
When my father came home, he changed quickly. Before leaving, Karen told me that she had left a note on the kitchen counter telling Rodney and Curtis where to meet them for dinner. She asked me to make sure they saw it. After they left, I went back to my room, closed the door and began thumbing through a few books I had checked out in the school library for my report.
I heard Rodney and Curtis arrive, and about five minutes later, I heard the garage door shut. I continued to write my report until I dozed off. I wasn’t sure how long I had slept before I heard the shower in the bathroom next door. I figured that the others had returned home.
I left my room to go see them, but when I went upstairs, no one was around. I peeked into Lane’s room, but he wasn’t there. I looked into Rodney and Curtis’s room, but again, no one was home.
I went back downstairs and turned on the television. I could still hear the shower on in the bathroom. I began to hear faint voices, and soon, they became louder. Then suddenly, the voices stopped.
I was confused. I thought I was the only one in the house. I got up from the sofa and tiptoed over to the bathroom door. I listened for a minute, but I couldn’t hear anything but the water running from the shower.
I slowly opened the door, and I gasped, “Jesus!” when I looked inside. The short guy who Mike had introduced me to as Pip on my first day of school, was on his knees giving Curtis a blowjob!
Curtis had his hands on Pip’s head as bobbed his head back and forth on his large erection. Curtis’s eyes widened in fear as he looked over and saw me standing in the doorway.
He shouted, “Get the fuck out!” Pip jumped to his feet and covered his erection with his hands. I can’t begin to describe the frightened look on both their faces. It must have looked like mine did when my mother found me naked in bed with Rollie.
I slammed the door shut and hurried out into the family room. I put my hands on my head and paced nervously around the room. I kept muttering “Holy shit!”
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how Curtis and Pip would react to me seeing them in the shower. Curtis was the last person I would have imagined engaging in sex with another boy. Now that I had seen him and Pip together, I wasn’t sure what he would be capable of doing.
I was getting ready to return to my room when Pip opened the door and stepped out fully clothed. He still had a frightened look on his face as he glanced quickly at me and then rushed across the room and disappeared up the steps.
Suddenly, I heard voices upstairs. It appeared that the others were returning home. I heard Karen say hello to Pip, and she asked if he had come over to watch a game with Curtis. I didn’t hear Pip’s reply, but I heard the door soon shut. I assumed he had left.
Lane came bounding downstairs and saw me standing in the middle of the family room. He ran over and gave me a big hug. “We missed you,” he said. “I had meat loaf and a big piece of chocolate cream pie!”
I was too nervous to even say anything. I kept looking over at the bathroom door waiting for Curtis to come out. Just then, Rodney came downstairs and turned the television channel to ESPN. He plopped down in a chair and asked me if I had completed my assignment.
“No,” I stammered nervously. “I gotta go finish it.” As I was walking to my room, Curtis came out of the bathroom. He had a towel wrapped around his waist.
He glanced quickly at me and hurried from the room as Rodney jokingly told him to “put some clothes on.”