Kyle wiped sleep from his eyes as he strolled into the dining room and plopped down in a chair. His mother had knocked on his bedroom door a half hour earlier than normal and announced that there would we a ‘family meeting’ at breakfast. Such meetings were usually reserved for dinner.
His father was already at the table. He was wearing a dark blue, three-piece suit with a striped red tie. He put his paper down when he saw Kyle. “Morning, Son,” he said cheerfully.
“Morning,” grumbled Kyle as he took a napkin from the table and placed it in his lap. “Why are we having a meeting so early in the morning? I’m not even awake yet.”
His mother came from the kitchen carrying a platter with scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. “Wait until Melissa comes downstairs,” she said. She then walked over to the stairs and hollered up to Melissa that she had exactly two minutes to get downstairs.
Minutes later, Melissa walked in. She was still in her pajamas. “What is going on?” she mumbled as she sat down. Mrs. Caldwell sat down and began placing breakfast into everyone’s plate. When she was done, she sat back and nodded at her husband.
Mr. Caldwell cleared his throat, looked at Kyle and Melissa and said, “I guess you wonder why we’re having breakfast together this morning?” Kyle giggled when he looked over at his sister as she rolled her eyes.
His father took a bite of a link sausage before continuing, “I’m going to be on a business trip for a week,” he announced. “Your mother is prosecuting a big case, and she’ll be getting home late at nights.”
Melissa asked sarcastically, “So why is this any different than the other times?”
“Because,” replied Mr. Caldwell with an angry tone, “there are going to be some different rules around here, that’s what.”
Melissa’s eyes narrowed as she asked, “What kind of rules?” Kyle was just as curious, but he decided to let his sister do the protesting.
He put his fork on the table and stared at Melissa. “Beginning today, there will no more free hand-outs.”
Melissa asked skeptically, “What’s that mean?”
Mr. Caldwell looked at his wife. “We give you both a very generous allowance. In the past, we’ve never had any expectations from you. We just gave it to you.”
Melissa’s eyes narrowed as she asked, “And now?”
“And now,” replied Mrs. Caldwell, “you’re going to earn it.”
For the first time, Kyle asked, “How? What do we have to do?”
“First,” replied his mother, “You have to maintain good grades in school. We don’t expect you to be ‘A’ students, but we don’t want to see any grades below a ‘C.’”
“Fair enough,” thought Kyle. He already made good grades, so he assumed that this demand was directed at his sister.
Mr. Caldwell spoke again. “We are also going to assign you chores to do around the house.”
“You’re kidding me,” mumbled Melissa. Kyle thought his father would get angry with her, but it seemed he was choosing to ignore her. He then informed her that she was to begin helping her mother prepare evening meals. On the nights that their mother worked late, Melissa was expected to make dinner for Kyle and her. She would also have a plate waiting for their mother when she arrived home. Kyle and Melissa were not to wait anymore until she got home to fix dinner for them.
Melissa stood and hollered, “You’re kidding, right?” She looked down at Kyle. “You expect me to make him dinner?”
Mrs. Caldwell shouted, “Sit down, Melissa!” Melissa hesitated a minute before plopping down into the chair. “And the answer is yes, unless you want to wear the same clothes to school until you graduate.”
Kyle looked over to see tears in his sister’s eyes. “This is so unfair,” she grumbled.
His father cleared his throat, “Now, Kyle.”
He looked expectantly at his father. “Yes, Sir?”
“I would have you do outside chores,” he stated, “but we have a landscape firm who handles that. So when the weather warms up in the spring, you are to keep the pool clean.” He smiled slightly and added, “Since you now have friends who I assume will be coming over to use it.”
Kyle’s face reddened as he replied, “Yes, Sir.”
“In the meantime,” he continued, “I want you to keep the garage clean during the winter.” Kyle happily nodded his head. It appeared he was getting off easier than his sister.
Kyle looked over at his mother when she started talking. “Both of you have been wanting to get your driver’s license.” Kyle nodded his head. “In six months, if we see that you are following our simple rules, and that you two are getting along, then we’ll let you get your permit.” Kyle started smiling broadly. He always assumed he would have to argue with his parents to let him drive. Melissa had been arguing with them for over a year to get her driver’s license.
His father sat back and looked at his children. “Any questions?”
Melissa defiantly asked, “What if we don’t do it?”
“That’s not an option,” replied Mrs. Caldwell with a cold stare. “Besides, I don’t think you would like the consequences.”
They continued to eat in silence. Kyle could tell by the grumbling noises coming from his right, that Melissa was upset. He smiled to himself as he wondered what meal she would prepare for dinner that night.
After Melissa and his mother left the table, Kyle remained behind. He looked over at his father who had picked up the paper and was reading it. “Dad?”
“Yes, Son?” His father replied as he looked over the top of the paper.
Kyle nervously asked, “Would it be okay if I had some friends over to spend the night on Saturday?”
Even though he already knew the answer, he asked anyway, “Who?”
“Donnie, Andre and Buddy,” he replied. “I’ll get the sleeping bags out of the basement for them to sleep in.”
“Sure, Son,” his father replied as he lifted the paper so Kyle couldn’t see his broad smile.
* * * * *
Donnie picked Kyle up at 7:45, fifteen minutes earlier than normal. School started at 8:30, so they always had time to go to the cafeteria to grab a milk and stale donut. Donnie was all smiles when Kyle climbed in the front seat.
“Why so early?” Kyle asked as Donnie pulled out of the driveway.
Donnie responded, “I told Buddy I’d stop by and get him.”
Kyle seemed surprised. The night before, Buddy had talked about dropping out of school. “You sure he’s going back?”
Donnie looked over and grinned. “I talked him into it last night on the phone. We talked until after two. I wouldn’t take no for an answer.” He told Kyle how he had convinced Buddy that not going back would show weakness. He also assured him that he and Kyle would be there for him if he needed them. Kyle readily agreed; although he jokingly said he wasn’t sure how much good he could do.
“I also solved his lack of funds,” stated Donnie. “He got into this whole mess because he didn’t have money.”
Kyle gave him a puzzled look. “How did you do that?” Donnie explained how he talked to his father that morning before he left for work. He convinced him to hire Buddy to wash cars in the lot after school. Since his father had an inventory of over three hundred new and used cars, there was always a demand for someone to keep them clean.
“It won’t be a lot of money,” added Donnie, “but at least he won’t have to sell drugs anymore.” Donnie’s face was grinning with pride that he had been able to help Buddy.
Kyle told Donnie that he had called Andre, and they spoke for over two hours. “What did you talk about for so long?” he asked Kyle.
“Just stuff,” replied Kyle.
Donnie looked over, grinned and said, “You’re starting to like him, aren’t you?”
Kyle’s face reddened as he admitted he did. After their long conversation, they realized they had a lot in common. They enjoyed the same kind of foods, movies and music. Well, except Kyle wasn’t too familiar with whom Madonna was. They laughed when Andre described for him how they had been dancing to her music since he and Buddy were ten.
Buddy was waiting outside on the sidewalk when they arrived. To Kyle, it looked like he had spent time getting dressed. His hair, which was normally unkempt, appeared as if it had been styled on top. His clothes weren’t baggy, either. His face, however, still showed signs of the beating. His eyes were slightly black from the broken nose. There were also noticeable bruises on his forehead and cheek. He bent over with laughter when he saw the lettering on the car.
“I thought you guys were lying,” he laughed as he climbed into the back seat. “Get much attention?”
Donnie raised his finger and flipped him off. “Get much of this.”
Buddy laughed and said, “Maybe later.”
On the way to school, Buddy talked about his apprehension of returning to school. “Maybe I should wait until the bruises on my face disappear.”
“We talked about this last night,” insisted Donnie. “The longer you put it off, the harder it will be. It’s like riding a horse, when you fall off, you get back on again.”
Kyle started laughing and asked, “Have you even been on a horse?”
“Well, no,” admitted Donnie. “But that’s what Dad tells me.” Donnie and Kyle tried to convince Buddy he was doing the right thing. It was obvious he was nervous when they pulled into the school parking lot.
As they walked into the building, several students stared at him. Buddy started to turn around, but Donnie grabbed his arm and held it. Everyone stared when they walked into the cafeteria with Donnie escorting Buddy toward the seats where he and Kyle normally sat.
There was a hush as the three boys passed Brad and his friends. Brad looked up into Buddy’s face, and then hung his head. Donnie could feel Buddy trembling as they walked past. When they sat down, the cafeteria started buzzing with excitement.
Donnie handed Kyle a five-dollar bill and told him to go through the line and get them something to eat. Kyle wasn’t hungry, but he knew Buddy might have been. After buying three milks, two orange juices and three honey buns, he returned to the table. Donnie was still trying to assure Buddy that everything would be okay.
When the bell rang, Donnie escorted Buddy to class. Since Kyle and Buddy were in the same class second period, they arranged for Kyle to go by Buddy’s first period and walk with him to class. Buddy protested, “I’m not a baby.”
“We’re not treating you like a baby,” replied Donnie. “We’re treating you like a friend.” Buddy stopped protesting after that.
The morning went well for Buddy. Other than a few comments, most students seemed sympathetic. Students who had normally ignored him attempted to at least say hello or nod their head. When they entered the cafeteria for lunch, hardly anyone paid them any attention- except Brad. Donnie noticed him staring across the cafeteria several times, but he didn’t say anything to Buddy. He was afraid if he did, Buddy might decide to ditch his afternoon classes.
Kyle made sure he arrived early to fifth period. He wanted to sit beside Buddy. Buddy seemed relieved when he saw him, and they worked together on an assignment. At the end of the period, he said to Kyle, “I’m glad you and Donnie came to visit me in the hospital. I was really planning to quit school when I got out.” He looked at Kyle and grinned. “Maybe it won’t be so bad now,” he said happily.
Donnie was heading to the exit at the end of school. Kyle and Buddy would be waiting for him at his car. Suddenly, someone gripped his shoulder and stopped him. It was Brad. He asked, “Can we talk a minute?” When Donnie frowned, he added, “Please?”
Donnie wasn’t afraid of Brad. They had attended school since the first grade, and at one time, he considered him a good friend. They had been on the same little league team for four years, and he used to catch for Brad. However, when he was outed in the seventh grade, Brad became one of his worst tormentors. They hadn’t spoken in years.
They walked over to the lockers, and Brad nodded to some of his friends as they were leaving. Donnie asked, “What do you want Brad? I have things to do.”
He stared intently into Donnie’s eyes. “Tell Buddy I appreciate him not filing charges against me.”
Kyle responded angrily, “He wanted to, but it wouldn’t have done any good. If he admitted he was in the neighborhood selling drugs, they would have arrested him.”
“Listen, Donnie,” said Brad as he looked around to make sure no one was listening. “I was going though a lot of shit. Melissa was acting like a real bitch, and Joy was pressuring me to date her.” He shook his head and said, “Man, all I wanted was a little, you know?”
Donnie started to walk away, but Brad stopped him again. “Things got really out of hand, okay? Mom and Dad were on my ass about my grades. Coach was on my case because he thought I wasn’t playing good enough. My buds were giving me weed, and I knew I shouldn’t be messing with that stuff.”
Donnie interrupted him. “Why are you telling me all this?”
Brad shrugged his shoulders. “I know you guys are tight. I just want you to tell him I’m sorry. Okay? Maybe the cops didn’t do anything to me, but my parents have me on lock down for the next year. Man, I can’t go nowhere, not even out to the movies. Coach kicked me off the team. That ruins my chance for an athletic scholarship.” He said sadly, “Man, I really fucked up- big time.” He put his hand on Donnie’s shoulder. “So tell him I didn’t mean it, and he doesn’t have to worry about me. Okay? Same for Kyle. I don’t mean him any harm either. Okay?”
Donnie thought about saying something sarcastic, but he looked at the sadness in Brad’s eyes, and he knew he was being sincere. There was nothing he could say that would make Brad feel any worse than he already felt. “Yeah, sure. I’ll tell them,” he replied as he turned and walked away.
* * * * *
Kyle was excited when he got home from school. They had picked up Andre at his home, and then they all went out to an arcade to spend a couple hours playing video games. Donnie and Kyle kidded Buddy and Andre by telling them they were taking them on a first date, so they insisted on paying for the games.
Buddy asked Donnie, “What do I have to do in return?” Everyone laughed when Donnie wiggled his eyebrows.
Kyle also asked them if they wanted to spend Saturday night at his house. He assured them that he had discussed it with his father. “We can rent a couple of movies, play video games and do other stuff.”
Andre giggled and said, “I think I like the sound of doing other stuff.” It was agreed that Donnie would pick up Andre and Buddy and then arrive around six.
Melissa was in the kitchen attempting to fix dinner. As soon as Kyle walked into the house, he heard her holler out, “Dammit!” Cautiously, he made his way to the kitchen. He laughed when he saw his sister’s face and arms covered in flour. Three chicken breasts were on the counter.
He jokingly said, “You’re supposed to cook the chicken, not roll around in it.”
Melissa wiped her brow with her arm. As she did, more flour splattered on her face. Kyle grabbed a towel and wiped it off. “Thanks,” she muttered.
Kyle asked, “Would you like me to help?”
Melissa looked anxiously at him and asked, “Please?”
Kyle pulled a Betty Crocker cookbook off a shelf. He thumbed through it until he found a recipe that he thought might be easy to prepare. He and Melissa spent the next half hour following the directions for chicken kiev. Later, when they took it from the oven, it smelled wonderful. Kyle found out how they could bake potatoes in the microwave, and then they steamed some frozen broccoli.
Kyle set the table in the dining room while Melissa prepared their plates. She covered another in foil and placed it in the refrigerator for their mother when she came home later. “This is good,” mumbled Kyle as he took another bite of his chicken.
Melissa smiled and said, “We make a pretty good team.” Kyle nodded his head. “We better be careful, though. Mom is going to want a meal like this every night.”
“Right,” agreed Kyle. “Tomorrow night it will be tuna fish sandwiches and potato chips.” Melissa held up her and high-fived her brother. Later that night, Mrs. Caldwell raved about what a wonder meal that they had made. She was also delighted that Kyle and Melissa seemed to be getting along much better. Hopefully, she thought, things were beginning to return to normal.
* * * * *
Kyle stood at his bedroom window peering down below at the street. It was 6:13, and Donnie hadn’t arrived with Andre and Buddy. He had been eagerly anticipating the evening. The night before, his mother took him to the store to get snacks and beverages. At the store, she laughed when Kyle placed three bags of chocolate chip cookies in the grocery cart. “Just how many cookies can you boys eat?” Kyle didn’t tell her that Andre said they were his favorite snack. He had also stacked up on potato chips, popcorn, dill pickles (Donnie’s favorite snack), dips and ice cream.
He had spent the day getting ready. He felt like a twelve year-old girl having her first slumber party. He had brought four sleeping bags from the garage, but he stacked them in the corner until the guys arrived. He wasn’t sure how the sleeping arrangements were to be. He wanted him and Andre to share his bed, but he was afraid that Donnie and Buddy might get mad if they had to sleep on the hard floor. He thought it would probably be best if they all slept on the floor together.
He was alone in the house as he watched the street below. His mother and Melissa had left a half hour earlier. They were going to dinner at a restaurant downtown and then attend a movie Melissa wanted to see. As they were leaving, his mother winked and told him they’d be home by midnight. “Stay out of the liquor cabinet,” she warned with a smile.
His heart starting racing when he saw the white Focus pull into the driveway. He rushed downstairs and hurried out to the driveway to meet them. “Hey, Guys,” he said as they emerged from the car. Donnie opened the trunk, and each boy pulled out a small overnight bag.
“Ready, Freddy?” laughed Donnie as he headed toward the house. “I haven’t done this since I was a kid. We’re going to have so much fun.”
When they entered the house, Andre and Buddy walked around and stared at the immense rooms. The living room alone was bigger than the trailers they lived in.
“Wow!” exclaimed Andre as he stopped at the top of the stairs and looked down at the foyer below. “I didn’t know people lived like this.”
Kyle pulled on his arm and led him towards his bedroom. “Come on. It’s just a house.” Buddy and Andre glanced at each other.
Andre and Buddy paced around Kyle’s bedroom. “This is all yours?” asked Andre as he examined the computer desk containing numerous video games. “Holy crap!” he shouted as he picked up a couple of games. “You got all the Call of Duty games!”
Kyle stepped up beside him and said, “We’ll play later, if you want.”
“I’m not very good,” confessed Andre. “I don’t have a PlayStation.”
Kyle volunteered, “I’ll teach you.” Andre looked at him and smiled.
They looked over at Donnie when he pulled his shirt off and announced, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting comfortable.” They stared as he disrobed down to his underwear, and then he put on a tee shirt and sweatpants. When he finished, he looked at the others staring at him, held up his hands and asked, “Am I the only one?”
Andre and Buddy giggled as they opened up their bags and dug inside for their sleepwear. Kyle opened a drawer and pulled out an old pair of shorts and a basketball jersey. They laughed as they looked at each other. Donnie started squawking like a chicken. Kyle held his breath and pulled off his shirt. It would be the first time since Jordan that anyone had seen him undress. He dropped his pants and stood almost naked before them. Andre gave him an approving smile before he began to undress. Kyle chuckled when he noticed that Andre’s tighty whities were protruding in the front.
When Buddy noticed Kyle staring at Andre’s erection, he laughed and said, “Get used to it. He stays like that 24/7.”
Andre blushed and replied, “Like you don’t?”
Buddy flicked at his dick and said, “Not yet, anyway.” He glanced quickly over at Donnie to see his reaction. Donnie’s eyes were staring intently at his almost naked body.
“Too bad it’s cold out,” said Donnie. “We could go skinny dipping.”
Andre asked excitedly, “You’ve got a pool, too?”
“Yeah,” replied Kyle. “Hurry and get dressed, and I’ll show it to you.” They quickly put on their clothes and followed Kyle downstairs. He took them out onto the patio to show them the pool. Since the temperatures hadn’t dropped to freezing yet, the lawn care workers hadn’t prepared the pool for winter and covered it. Kyle knelt down and felt the water. “It’s still heated,” he said.
Kyle stood and looked at Andre and Buddy. “You can come over and swim this summer, if you want.”
Donnie said laughingly, “Why wait until summer?” Before he could react, he pushed Kyle into the pool. Andre screamed when Donnie ran at him.
He ran around the pool screaming, “I can’t swim!” Buddy watched and howled with laughter. Donnie caught Andre, picked him up and carried him back to where Kyle was treading water. “Here,” he laughed as he tossed Andre into the water. “He’s all yours.” Andre’s arms flailed as he flew through the air. He hit the water and started struggling to stay afloat. Kyle swam over to him, and wrapped him in his arms.
“Relax,” he said. “I’ve got you.” Andre’s body went limp as Kyle held him above water. Even though the water was heated, the air above was slightly chilly.
They looked up to see Donnie undressing. He stood naked on the edge of the pool before diving in. He looked up at Buddy and announced, “You’re next.” Buddy shrugged his shoulders, stripped naked and jumped into the water.
Kyle whispered in Andre’s ear, “You want to swim naked.” Andre grinned and nodded his head. Kyle helped him to the ladder. They climbed up and took off their clothes. Kyle stared at Andre’s erect cock. For someone small, he was well endowed. Kyle was embarrassed because his had shriveled in the water.
Kyle and Andre held hands and jumped into the water. The boys played around for about ten minutes in the shallow water. Donnie and Buddy then swam to the deep end of the pool, and it was obvious they were feeling on each other.
Kyle jumped when Andre moved up behind him, reached around, and grabbed his cock. “You don’t mind, do you?” he whispered in Kyle’s ear. He got his answer when Kyle reached around and gripped Andre’s erection and stroked it a few times.
Donnie hollered out, “It’s getting cold!” He jumped out of the water with an erection. Kyle and Andre looked at each other and giggled when Buddy climbed onto the deck with an erection also.
Kyle laughed and gave Andre’s cock a quick stroke before heading for the ladder. “Well, here goes.” His erection bounced as he climbed onto the deck. After Andre got out of the water, all four boys broke out into laughter and starting swinging their hips.
They ran into the house and up to Kyle’s bedroom. Kyle stopped by the linen closet to get four towels. Once inside the bedroom, they dried themselves off. When Donnie started drying Buddy’s body, Andre grabbed Kyle’s towel and began drying him.
“Hey!” shouted Donnie. “What about our clothes?”
Kyle responded, “I’ll go get them and put them in the dryer.” When he headed out of the room, Andre followed. They gathered the wet clothes off the deck and went to the laundry room in the basement. After putting the clothes into the dryer, Kyle started to head back upstairs.
“Wait,” said Andre as he grabbed Buddy’s hand. “Can I kiss you? I’ve been wanted to kiss you all night.” Kyle nodded his head, and Andre approached and placed his hands around Kyle’s waist. He stood on his tiptoes as he leaned in and met Kyle’s lips.
“Mmmm,” he moaned into Kyle’s mouth. He pulled the towel from Kyle’s waist and it fell to the floor. He then let his drop to the ground, and they kissed as their naked bodies rubbed together.
“God, I never thought this would ever happen,” said Andre as tears filled his eyes. He started to say something else, but Kyle kissed him again. After several minutes of passionate kissing and groping, they decided they should go back upstairs.
When they entered the bedroom, Donnie was lying on top of Buddy on the bed. Their lips were locked in a passionate kiss. They stopped and sat up when they heard Kyle and Andre enter.
“What?” laughed Donnie. “I bet you two were downstairs doing the same thing.”
“Nope,” replied Andre as he grabbed Kyle’s face and kissed him. When he looked over at Buddy, Buddy gave him a thumb’s up.
Kyle went over to his dresser and pulled out four shorts and tee shirts. He handed them to the others and said, “We’d better be dressed in case my mother comes home early.”
Andre got his small bag, reached inside and pulled out a CD. He looked around the room until he spotted Kyle’s stereo on a shelf. “Can I play something?” He looked over at Buddy and winked.
“Sure,” replied Kyle as he took the disc and placed it in the CD player. Soon, Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ filled the room. Buddy pulled Donnie off the bed. Andre faced Kyle and placed his hands around his waist.
“Dance with me, Kyle,” he said as they began to sway to the music. They looked over and laughed as they watched Buddy trying to teach Donnie how to vogue.
“Vogue, vogue, Vogue, vogue, Go with the flow.”
Andre pulled Kyle closer. When he did, their lips met. On the other side of the room, Donnie and Buddy were in a tight embrace.
And the music played...
“All you need is your own imagination, So use it that's what it's for. Go inside for your finest inspiration, Your dreams will open the door.”