Palouse by vwl





Chapter 24

Idanha – September 1992

A Month Later


Idanha School is designed to create an intensive initial impact for boys, teach them positive behavior and communication skills, and integrate strong work habits with effective interpersonal functioning. The beginning of the boys’ stay is comprised of teaching the basic lessons of the outdoors–personal responsibility and awareness of how their behavior affects others and their environment. It is also a beginning for them to gain self-esteem which is based on internal feelings instead of their external world.

During the latter part of the year the boys are motivated to move from a state of awareness into a state of action, turning it into positive personal habits and healthy, productive living. The concept of acting positively and taking accountability for personal behavior instead of living reactively to the external world is emphasized during this part of the year. The boys spend time focusing on teamwork, cooperation, resolving conflicts, interpersonal skills, and service.

 – Idanha Wilderness School brochure


            “Dad, where are we going?  Why did you wake me so early?”

            Stan drove on, saying nothing. Greg sat in the back seat of the van that Betty usually drove. He didn’t know what was happening, either, except he had seen his parents packing Micah’s clothes and personal effects the night before while Micah was still out at Amelia’s. He was surprised, though, when his father woke them at 5 a.m., told them both to dress and get ready for a drive.

            Micah looked around the van, seeing several suitcases stacked behind the back seat. “Dad, I don’t understand. We’ve been driving for six hours, and now we’re on a dirt road going God-knows-where.”

            “Maybe God does know where, Micah. Your mother and I can’t handle your behavior anymore. Your grades have fallen. You stay out to all hours of the night with Amelia. You’ve abandoned your career in music, which we all thought meant something to you. You are so talented; you are so smart. How can you waste what you have? When you came back from the wilderness trek, there was barely one week of changed behavior, and then you reverted to your old ways. Betty and I decided that something needed to be done more permanently, so we enrolled you in a boarding school for the year.”

            “On some dirt road in Idaho? What kind of boarding school is this?”

            “It’s a small school for troubled youths. It’s run by our church. There are thirty boys, with three teachers. Everybody works – cleans, cooks, takes care of the grounds, raises a garden. It’s supposed to be good academically – and spiritually, which is important to your mother. We want to see you straightened out.”

            “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be ‘straightened out’. I want to live my own life. It’s my senior year. Greg, tell him how important the senior year is.”

            Before Greg could join the argument on his brother’s side, Stan said: “Micah, you have no choice. You are 17. You are still under a court probationary order; we think you are in danger of breaking your probation. We have decided that you will go to this school for the next year.”

            “Greg, tell Dad not to do this. I didn’t agree to this court order. I thought I was done with it. We didn’t even discuss this. I didn’t get any say in this decision. Tell him I’m needed on the basketball team. Tell him that you’ll keep an eye on me. Anything.”

            Greg was as shocked as Micah by the announcement that they were taking him to this school in the middle of Idaho. He wasn’t sure why he had been brought along, except maybe to help calm Micah if things really got out of hand.

            A fog of dust rose behind the van, obscuring the road behind them and drifting against the trees on the sides of the forest road. The dust of the vehicles that traveled this road before had formed a cake of light brown on the cinnamon bark of the trees that walled the road. From time to time there would be side roads marked with Forest Service road numbers. Every once in a while, they would cross a dry creek bed that wouldn’t see water until the next spring runoff. The air smelled of pine. There were a few lingering wildflowers lining the ditches alongside the road. From time to time, a startled chipmunk would have to scurry from the center of the road to the ditch alongside, annoyed at having to move.

            In any other circumstances, the terrain could be called beautiful, but Micah would have none of that. He felt as if he’d been betrayed, captured without his consent and shanghaied to some God-awful place in the middle of nowhere – even more in the middle of nowhere than Endicott.

            “How many days do I have to stay at this school?”

            “Not days, Micah. For the whole school year – till you graduate.”

            “What!! I want out.”

            “There’s nowhere to go, Micah, and we’re only ten miles from the school. You can get out there.”

            “I’ll run away.”

            “The nearest town is 60 miles away, and it’s not much of a town at that.”

            Thirty minutes later they rounded a bend and approached a group of buildings that formed a U around a large green lawn. At the open top of the U was  the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, across which a steep, tree-filled bank rose several hundred feet above the river. The rustic buildings made the place look like a forest-setting resort, which it was before being sold to the church for a school; in the summer, the church still operated the resort for river rafters.

            The largest building formed the bottom of the U. Its broad shake roof sloped down to cover a building-wide front porch, complete with porch swings, a stained-pine, plank floor and split-log furniture. At one end of the building, a tall, river-stone chimney rose above the roof ridge. Two of the buildings just to the left side of the main building looked newer, though there had been an attempt to make them fit into the rustic environment. One held two classrooms, as Micah soon would learn, and the other contained a generator for the hours in which electricity was made available. There had been no wires along the road to the school, so all the electricity was generated at the school.

            The rest of the U was taken up with cabins, and several more could be seen in the background between the U and the large trees. Each cabin contained two dormitory-style rooms, each one housing two students. Behind the whole complex was a forest of tall Ponderosa pine. The place was idyllic as a summer resort, but it was a school for troubled boys who would have to live together through the rest of the seasons of the year, including a mountain-bitter winter.

            Stan pulled the van up in front of the main building as a burly, tawny-bearded man stepped off the porch. Stan got out, and they shook hands. Micah stayed behind, not willing to accept what was happening to him. Greg sat in the back seat, unsure whether to get out or stay with his brother.

            “Greg, you knew this was going to happen,” Micah accused as his father talked with the burly man.

            “No, I swear it. This was just as much as surprise to me as you. It’s not fair. I’m almost as much a rebel as you are. They picked on you. Do you think Mom and Dad maybe just wanted to split us up?”

            Stan was signaling Micah to get out of the van and join them. Micah just sat, pretending he did not see his father. Stan and the burly man came up to the van. Stan’s anger showed in his face, and Micah had an urge to taunt him some more when the burly man came up to the door.

            “I’m Steve Rhodes,” he said, offering his hand after Micah felt forced to open the window. “Welcome. I’m looking forward to having you here for this year. I think you’ll learn a lot – academically and otherwise.”

            Greg got out of the other side of the car and introduced himself.

            “Have you had lunch?  We’ve got food in the main lodge, and then I can show you around the complex before you go off,” Steve said, addressing Stanley. “I know you have to get on the road in order to get back to Washington before too late tonight.”

            “Sounds good to me,” Greg piped up before turning red from the embarrassment of being so forward.

            Steve laughed. “I’m sure you need to be fed. I suspect you’re a bit nervous, Micah, but I hope you can still have a bite. We’ve got some really good apple pie for dessert, in any case.”

            If glares made sounds, then there would have been no ability to have a conversation around the table. However, Steve and Stan started talking about fishing, Micah fumed, and Greg tried to digest all that was happening, feeling a great sadness for Micah and the sudden loss of what had been a growing relationship between them over the past year. It was going to have been a great senior year for them and the basketball team. That year was not to be.

            Steve gave them all a tour of the facilities. “You’ll be in Cabin 7 on the north side with Casey – Casey Newman. He’s a year behind you, but as you’ll see, that doesn’t make a lot of difference here. Casey’s over there now, so I’ll take you and your family over so you can meet him.”

            “Whatever,” Micah muttered, earning him a harsh look from his father.

            The cabin was one of the last buildings before the Salmon River. It had a small porch wide enough only for two side-by-side doors, labeled 7A and 7B. Steve led them to the one on the left, knocked briefly and went in, apparently without waiting for an answer. Micah noted that and figured he had to make sure there was an interior latch so he would avoid, well, embarrassment when he was doing very personal things. He expected that Casey would have the same need for privacy from time to time.

            All the shades on the windows had been pulled, letting only a seepage of orange-amber light through. There were no lights on in the room. When Steve flipped them on, they saw Casey in his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. Casey was a good-looking, delicate boy with honey-blond hair hanging straight over the edges of his face, an aquiline nose and lips that had a natural pout. He was slight and probably always would be.

            “Casey, I’d like you to meet Micah, your roommate for the year.”  Casey nodded at Micah and eyed him and Greg closely. “This is his father, Stan, and his brother Greg. Casey came in yesterday.”

            “Pleased to meet you, Casey,” Stan said, holding out his hand for a shake. Casey didn’t respond.

            “Same for me,” Greg said, but getting a nod in response.

            “I’ll leave you to get set up,” Steve announced as he went out the door. Casey stayed put while the Kingmans brought in Micah’s suitcases and boxes. Stan and Greg helped put the clothing in the dresser and closet, while Micah put his personal items where they would be convenient. Strangely, it made him feel he was moving in to yet another hotel room in another city where he would be playing a concert piece the next day. He felt no sense of “home” in the cabin. Besides, there was no violin.

            The room was large enough for two single beds, two dressers, a table in front of a small, curtained window at which two could study facing each other, and a small wood stove. Besides the few electric lights, there were brackets on the walls to hold lanterns. The floor was wooden and covered with a Navajo-patterned throw rug. A small bathroom, little larger than a closet, was reached through a door near the entrance; it contained the toilet, a small sink and a shower hidden behind a white plastic curtain. It wasn’t a cabin space that anyone would want to explore. It was a summer-camp room intended only for sleeping which had been converted to fall/winter/spring school use.

            Given how late it was getting, Steve asked Stan and Greg to stay for dinner and spend the night, but Stan begged off, saying he was needed back at the farm. So, in mid-afternoon Stan and Greg climbed into the van as Micah stood nearby and watched, a look of pain on his face. Greg opened the van door and ran up to Micah to hug him once again.

            Micah had turned his back on his father. Micah took a secret pleasure in spurning his father, but it was tinged with a deep sadness. He wanted to hug his father; he wanted his father’s reassurance; he wanted his father to take him back to Endicott. He had not felt so alone since he said good bye to Mamma M in Phoenix, eight years earlier. He felt abandoned. It was almost as if he was going to yet another foster home, except, down deep, he knew this time there was a backup place for him in Endicott. The last hug from Greg and the tears in his father’s eyes told him so.

            When he got back to the cabin, Casey was still lying on his bed staring at the ceiling. He’d barely moved all day. 

            “What are you – some kind of zombie?” Micah asked after many silent minutes in the room.

            No response.

            “Look, we’ve got to live side by side in this fucking place for the next few months. I don’t care if you don’t say a word. Hell, I don’t care if you’re an asshole. Just don’t bother me, okay?”

            No response.

            Many more silent minutes passed as Micah finished sorting out his belongings and inspecting the room that he had already inspected once.

            “I’ve got to get out of this room. Just don’t touch any of my stuff.”  Micah shut the door hard as he left the room.

            What a jerk! Casey said to himself. As if I’d want to touch any of his stuff.

            Outside, a bell rang, announcing dinner. Casey rose from his bed and went to the main building, where he took a seat at the end of one of the picnic-style benches that hugged the long dark-wood tables. About half the spaces were filled. Micah chose a place at a different table from Casey. Steve entered from somewhere in the building, said grace, and the meal began. Micah found it to be pretty good. It was more like home and less like the buffets at the cocktail parties where he had played. More meatloaf and less concert-trip giant shrimp. It certainly was a step above Endicott High School’s cafeteria. Some consolation.

            On the next day, the last of the boys arrived. In late afternoon, all the boys were summoned to the main house for an orientation. They sat at the dining-room tables and faced a podium where Steve held forth. Steve introduced the other two young instructors, Sam and Jacob, then passed out class and work-detail schedules to each of the boys.

            “I want to explain some things about this school. We are largely self-sufficient, except for food, and we’d be self-sufficient in that if school lasted over the summer – the growing season. We have a generator for electricity, and it usually works, but we don’t turn it on all the time. When it gets cold, we rely on wood fires. You’ve seen the stoves in each of your cabins, and you can see the big pot-bellied stove in the main house.

            “All the wood for those stoves will be gathered by you, starting tomorrow. For the main house, you will see your name on the work-detail list about once a week. For heating the cabins, it’s up to you. If you don’t gather wood for your cabins, well forgive me, Lord, for my language, you’re going to freeze your butts off. Also, your stove heats the water for your showers, and you will come to class freshly showered and shaved – if you are old enough to shave.

            “Your work-detail list has you helping in the kitchen, both before and after meals, helping my wife, who is the cook. Three or four of you will be detailed to help there every day, so that means you will working with her about once a week. On other days, you will help with the grounds. In winter, there will be snow to shovel.

            “Breakfast is at 7:00 on weekdays and 8:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Lunch is at noon every day except Saturday, when we have a 2:00 Sabbath dinner. Dinner is at 6:00 every evening except on the Sabbath when there will be snacks and sandwiches available after sunset. Church is at 9:30 on Saturdays. 

            “For recreation, there is the lawn till the snows come, there are games in this main-house living room, and there are trails that go up and down the river. That’s the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, by the way. Most of the year, it’s fairly tame, but in the spring it can get high and dangerous. There will be no games or hiking between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. As you can see, the bookshelves are filled with almost any variety of books, and we encourage you to borrow them to read here or in your rooms. There is no television, there is no CD player in the main lodge, but we have a VCR when the generator is operating.

            “Are there any questions?” Steve looked around the room and saw no hands. “I see no hands now, but we on the staff are always available to help you if need be. There is a brochure on the end table that explains our program in more detail. Please pick one up.

            “Classes start tomorrow at 9:00. Good luck, all of you. Dinner will be served in an hour, and you will meet the three other schoolmates after they finish helping my wife in the kitchen.

            “Now, I want you to go around the room and introduce yourselves. Tell everybody your name, how old you are and where you’re from.”

            The boys came mainly from Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with a sprinkling coming from the west side of Washington and Oregon. When it came time to introduce himself, Micah realized he was relieved that the boys weren’t asked to say why they were there. He thought he saw the same level of relief on the other faces. He expected he’d find out soon enough why they were there, and he was ready to say why he thought he was there. Micah did find out that Casey came from Prineville, Oregon.

            The next few days were filled with classes, shyness, homework and not much camaraderie because the boys didn’t yet know one another. After classes in the afternoons, the boys were taught how to split and stack wood.


Chapter 25

Hot Springs – Early October 1992

A Month Later


            “They found it,” Steve said to his wife with a grin on his face. “It’s always gives me a kick when they ‘discover’ the hot springs.” It had been several weeks – several wonderful early-fall weeks – since school had started. The boys’ shyness of the first days had worn off, and the typical teenage boys’ sense of discovery and adventure had taken over. Two of the boys had discovered the hot springs while they were hiking along the river trail early one afternoon. They had noticed the steam coming out of the creek, and when they touched the water it was really hot. The hot water of the spring flowed into the colder water of the river, mixing there into a warm spa-like pool.

            They quickly told some of the others. Then, some other boys discovered that there were rocks arranged in a semicircle in the Middle Fork, holding some of the cold water away from where the hot spring water flowed into the river. They didn’t know that summer rafters had already discovered the place and had moved the rocks to create the spa-like pool, the temperature of which could be regulated by rearranging the rocks. Since there were only boys around, it was easy enough to use the pool: just strip naked and jump in.

            The boys tried to act as if finding the hot springs was a secret. Steve laughed to himself that each year the boys found that same secret hot springs and river pool. And he realized that he never saw any swimming suits, so he figured what they were doing.

            Eventually, a boy would let it slip that there was a secret hot spring in the river, and Steve always managed to look surprised when he was led to it. What the boys didn’t realize in September was that the “spa” was there even through the coldest of winters. The boys, however, would quickly learn to be rearrange the rocks, and the natural spa would be used throughout their school terms there.

            Even Casey got curious one day, and he took off one afternoon to follow the trail along the river to the springs. Several boys were in the pool, stark naked.

            “Come on, jump in,” a naked Micah shouted from the water, almost civilly, Casey noticed. Had he forgotten to be a jerk for a moment? But Casey was obviously nervous about something; he looked at the boys in the water and then headed back toward the camp.

            “I’m going back. I’ve got homework to do,” he announced as he left. Micah shrugged his shoulders, mumbled the word ‘asshole’ and then lay back in the warm water, enjoying the risqué feeling of being naked, of engaging in horseplay with the other boys, of listening to the dissonance of male teen voices, like tones of the brass section warming up before a performance.

* * * * *

            It was just a few weeks after school started. The leaves on the alders and cottonwoods had turned to fall colors. Micah was heading to the dining hall. Casey was six or seven yards behind him. Standing astride the pathway was Lance Snyder – known mainly by his last name – a second-year student and, from what Micah could tell from observing what had happened recently, leader of a bully pack. Snyder had slicked-back, black hair and a heavy beard-shadow, making him look older than his seventeen or eighteen. He wore a black t-shirt and Levi’s. The weather was warm enough that he didn’t need a jacket.

            Not wanting to give ground, Micah walked up the pathway until Snyder was blocking his way. “Excuse me,” Micah said, pushing forward. Snyder’s hand shot out and rested on Micah’s chest.

            “I know about you. You’re some hot-shot, has-been, half-breed fiddler that got caught slumming with some regular guys.”

            Micah stared at Snyder with contempt in his eyes. “Yes, I’m half-Navajo and proud of it, and I’m…I was a violinist, not a fiddler.”

            “La-di-da. Vi-o-lin-ist. How sophisticated. He admits to being an Injun, though.” Snyder pointed at Micah and turned to the three other boys who stood a step behind him, laughing on cue. Micah’s ire started to rise at the offensive remarks. “And your fuck buddy here?” Casey had caught up with Micah and was standing beside him. Micah hadn’t noticed Casey until Snyder said something.

            “Let’s see,” Snyder put his hand to his chin as if in contemplation, “his folks don’t want him at home. Now, why wouldn’t they want him at home – unless he was gay.”

            Casey’s face started to redden in embarrassment as he took a half step backward, and tears rose in his eyes. Micah started to move forward, leaving Casey to fend for himself and hoping Snyder was done with him.

            “Where the hell do you think you’re going? Abandoning your already-abandoned roommate?” Snyder said. “I’m not done with you – or your teary-eyed, boo-hoo buddy.”

            Snyder shoved Micah back against Casey. Casey steadied him as he stumbled. Now Micah was really angry, and Casey, the enemy of his new enemy, became a friend. Snyder couldn’t be allowed to bully them. Micah felt a need to face down a problem that would last the rest of the year unless he did something, and he decided to put Casey under his protection.

            He was thinking quickly before the situation could deteriorate even more. Snyder’s cronies were sidling toward Micah and Casey, apparently itching for an escalation. Something Snyder had said to Casey triggered a thought, and Micah realized that he had the telling response.

            “So, Snyder, how do you know all this about us – unless, of course, you’ve read our files. Now, let me think,” Micah put his hand to his chin and mimicked Snyder’s contemplative pose while looking at Casey, “how would you get access to our files unless you got into the school office when nobody was there?  Hmmm. My guess is that you were not authorized to look at those files. Were you authorized?”  Snyder’s confident expression started to waver with a flicker of his eyes. “Which makes what you did a breaking-and-entering crime. I suspect, further, that if somehow Steve learned that Lance Snyder had read those files – and probably some other boys’ private files – that Lance Snyder wouldn’t be a student here any longer. Of course, maybe that wouldn’t faze Lance Snyder; maybe he wants to get kicked out.”

            Standoff sought, standoff found. It was obvious from Snyder’s face that the prospect of getting kicked out worried him. Maybe Idanha had been his last chance; maybe he feared his family, if he still had one that talked to him.

            “I tell you what, Snyder baby, if you leave Casey and me alone for the rest of the year, I’ll forget about this little bully show and your reading of those files.” Micah held Snyder’s eyes. “If you want five minutes to think about it, go ahead.” Micah could see Snyder going over the possibilities.

            “Okay,” Snyder said after a minute. “But now I hate your guts. It’s only a standoff – between you two and us. No, between you two and maybe the rest of the guys on my side.” He turned his back and walked away, his buddies following him.

            Micah rolled his eyes. “I guess we’re stuck with each other now. We have to watch each other’s backs, Casey. Which means, I guess, that we need to make peace.”  Micah offered his hand, which Casey accepted.

            “Does this mean that you’re going to stop being a jerk?”

            “If you stop being an asshole, yes.”

            They laughed, which broke the ice in what had been an uneasy relationship and headed off to dinner, sitting across from each other for the first time.

            The word jerk rankled Micah, though, because he knew Casey was probably right. He had been taking his bitterness at being at Idanha out on Casey.

* * * * *

            Micah and Casey were back in their room after dinner. The electricity had been shut off for the night, and they were getting ready for bed by kerosene light. “Thanks, Micah. I’m sorry I called you a jerk earlier.”

            “We already made peace.”

            “I owe you, though. You could have hung me out to dry and made my miserable life even more miserable than it is.”

            “So, was Snyder right?  Your parents don’t want you at home?”

            There was a silence. “Yes,” Casey responded uncomfortably, followed by a longer silence. “How about you? How did a hot-shot violinist get to Idanha School?” The way Casey used ‘hot shot’ was absent the sneering tone; rather, it was used with a hint of admiration. It was apparent to Micah, though, that the question had been asked mainly to change the topic away from Casey.

            Micah could have pursued a fuller answer to his question of Casey, but he didn’t think he needed to, because he suspected he knew why Casey’s parents were rejecting him. He turned to answer Casey’s question instead: “My grades were falling. My folks said I was spending too much time with my girlfriend, and I wasn’t spending enough time practicing my violin, and I needed a time to get my life in order.” Micah looked over to Casey’s bed. “They’re partly right, I guess.”

            Micah turned off the lantern, and the boys got into bed. There was silence, and Micah thought that Casey might have fallen asleep until he heard a stifled sob.

            “Casey, are you okay?” Micah asked. “We know Snyder’s an asshole.”

            More silence. Casey spoke up, his voice soft in the silence of the cabin: “It’s true. My folks wanted me out of the house. They thought maybe I could straighten myself out. I suppose being here is better than just kicking me out.”

             Micah thought for a moment whether he should ask the more personal question: “Casey, are you gay? It’s okay if you say yes. My brother is gay.”

            Quiet sobs came from Casey’s bed. “I pray and pray not to be gay, and now I’m trying to cure myself. If I study hard and don’t go to the hot springs and see all those boys naked, I can control myself. It’s hard.” Casey snorted a giggle through the tears. “I  mean difficult.”


            “Look, Casey, since I’ve got your back and we’ve made peace, just talk to me when you need to,” Micah offered, then added with a giggle of his own: “And if you want to go skinny dipping – just you and me – we can slip up to the hot springs.”

            “I’d probably get an erection.”

            “So? I take care of one every day.”

            “You do?  When?”

            “You take long showers, which gives me just enough time.”


            From that day on, there was a marked easing of the boys’ relationship. There was even affection, though not overtly physical. The boys would study and work together on their homework, with each helping the other in areas they were weak. Their grades began to improve as a result of their new working arrangement.

            Evenings, they would go with the other boys after dinner to the lounge in the main cabin for board games, reading and movies – movies that all seemed to be PG rated, few in number and often boring – especially the second and third times they were shown. The games were stacked on shelves at the end of the room. The top of one table held an inlaid chess board in light and dark wood, and a wooden, carved chess set was already arranged on it. There was a foosball table that attracted most of the boys’ attentions. When either Micah or Casey tried to join a game, however, the other boys would glance at Snyder and then decide not to play any longer.

            Being bored with trying to get into group games and being shunned, Micah asked Casey one fall evening if he knew how to play chess, and Casey nodded yes. “My dad and I used to play – before he found out I was gay,” Casey told Micah in a cautiously low voice that the other boys could not overhear.

            So began a long running chess duel between two boys, who turned out to be well matched at the game. A game would start one evening and end several evenings later; the staff and the other boys, after a few threats and glares at Snyder, learned to be respectful and didn’t disturb the chess pieces. The two boys would sit across from each other, their world circumscribed by the area around the chess board as if some undetectable searchlight was singling them out while the rest of the world played on. 

            One late-fall afternoon when they found themselves alone, they hiked the trail to the hot springs. A light snowfall over the previous few days had left an ankle-deep coating of snow. The sun was out and the landscape glistened, but the temperature was nearly freezing. Nobody else was there, so the two boys stripped down, hanging their clothes on a tree limb, and jumped into the warm water, adjusting the rocks to allow less cold river water to mix with the hot springs. As promised, Casey sprang an erection, and Micah experienced a little chub in his penis as well.  That evening at dinner, Casey thanked Micah for suggesting the hot spring and said he had had one of the best times of his life.

            Later that night after the generator had been turned off and lights were out, Micah was lying in bed, quiet but with an anxious erection, waiting for Casey to go to sleep, meantime thinking about his life. The cot on the other side of the room began to shake rhythmically, and Casey’s breathing got heavier and heavier. Micah started to giggle – and to get hard.

            “Sorry, I thought you were asleep,” Casey said. “I was thinking about this afternoon.” He didn’t say he was thinking about Micah’s naked body.

            “I was waiting for you to go to sleep so I could do the same thing. Let’s make a deal. We’re both horny boys; we have our needs. So, once lights are out, let’s not be embarrassed about beating off. Okay?”

            Casey giggled. “Okay. That means I can finish what I started?”

            “That means, also, that I can start and then finish.”

            The next few minutes were filled with the swish-swish of bedding, the sounds of heavy panting, and, finally, the sweet whimpers of satisfaction.

            “Good night, Casey.”

            “Good night, Micah. Thanks for the afternoon and thanks for more normal nights.”