Football player

TOUCHDOWN

by Alan Dwight

alantfraserdwight@gmail.com

Part 1

St. Francis’s was a small high school with only about 200 students. During my freshman year there, a middle school, with another 30 or so seventh and eighth graders was added. My parents wanted me to go there because they thought I’d get a better education than I would in the local high school. I wanted to go there to play football.

I loved St. Francis’s from my first day. It had an upbeat spirit which my public middle school never had. I soon learned that the spirit came from the faculty, all of whom were positive, encouraging, and understanding. The students were friendly, even those who didn’t know me. At first that was everyone.

Historically we had one of the best football teams in our state division. Two years before I began there, the team won the state Super Bowl.

As a freshman, I immediately went out for the team. My mother wasn’t sure I should. She had heard stories about injuries, especially concussions, in high school football. Mom said she’d worry the entire time I was practicing or playing.

The team doctor had retired after the previous season. Dad, who was an internist, volunteered to be the new medic. That satisfied Mom, sort of, but I could see she was still worried.

The team began to practice in late August before the school term began. My start was not auspicious. I was small and I had little in the way of developed muscles. I could run but there were others on the team who were bigger and faster.

My younger brothers, Benny, aged nine and Marco, aged six, both said they wanted to be on the team when they were old enough. Marco thought he should be on the team right away because he’d be too little to tackle. After the first couple of practices, Coach called me aside. Like all the rest of the school faculty he was positive and encouraging.

“Don’t worry about your size,” he said. “You’ll grow. Most of these guys were small when they first showed up. Oh, and work on your running. You’re fast for your size, and with practice you should become even faster.”

I went home on cloud nine. Coach had singled me out to encourage me. I resolved right then to run every morning before school and again every afternoon after the daily practice. There was a track around the football field. The first morning I ran I could barely get around the track once. After a month, I was able to run a mile without losing my breath. My legs grew stronger, and I became known on the team as a future pass receiver and running back.

I was thrilled the day we were issued game uniforms. We had two sets, one for home games and one for away ones. The school colors were blue and red. I put on my home-game uniform and stood in front of the mirror, imagining myself to be six foot two and over 200 pounds.

Our first game was against a small public high school. As we ran onto the field that Friday night my heart was beating like thunder, and I wondered when I’d get into the game.

I spent the entire game, all four quarters, sitting on the bench. The coach had stressed how much we could learn by actively watching the game, so I watched the running backs and the wide receivers, beginning to understand how they tried to evade tacklers.

We didn’t have a practice the Saturday after a game, so I went into our backyard and practiced the moves I had observed. My brothers watched me and laughed, but I didn’t really care. I knew they were envious of my being on the team.

Later, I looked out at the backyard from my bedroom window and saw Marco going through the same moves I had. From that day on, when I went into the yard, Marco was right with me, imitating my every move.

During practices, I watched the running backs and wide receivers, and I continued to imitate their moves. What I couldn’t imitate was how the running backs found gaps in the defense to plow through.

The coach began to insert me into plays during practice. I was getting faster all the time, and I caught a few passes from the wide receiver slot. Plowing through the line as a running back was more problematic for me. The first time I tried I was slammed to the ground by a defensive tackle. The second time, I ran straight into the right guard. One time when I couldn’t see an opening I tried sweeping around the end, only to be demolished by a linebacker.

Every game my freshman year I sat on the bench. I never once got into a game.

During the summer I ran on the track every day. Sometimes Marco ran with me. Other times there were team members running and I found I could outrun most of them.

By the time practice began in August of my sophomore year, I had grown some and I had begun to bulk up. The school didn’t have a weight room, so I worked on exercises ─ sit ups, pull ups, pushups, squats, and always, running.

The first day of practice, when we ran wind sprints, there was a new sophomore, Patrick, on the field. He was faster than me, at least for the first 20 yards or so, but he was also smaller than me, so I could easily beat him at a quarter mile. A football player doesn’t run a quarter mile at a time in a game, however. At the most, he runs 100 yards and most often less than that. At first, I was discouraged, fearing Patrick might take my place, but by the next day I was seeing him as a challenge. Sometimes we’d meet at the track in the mornings and challenge each other. It was a friendly rivalry. We’d run hundred-yard dashes then finish with a quarter-mile run. Some days he would beat me; some days I would beat him.

One morning as we were sitting on the grass catching our breaths, Patrick asked, “Why did your parents name you Bailey?”

“That was my grandpa’s name. I like it because nobody else around here has that name, so if someone says ‘Bailey’, everyone knows who they’re talking about.

During our third game of the season, when we were ahead by six touchdowns, Coach called out, “Bailey, take Walker’s place at wide receiver. I raced onto the field, putting on my helmet as I ran.

Coach sent in the plays from the sidelines. I knew the plays for both the running backs and the receivers just from watching and practicing. The first play from scrimmage I helped block the other team as our running back took the handoff from the quarterback and plunged into the line for no gain. The second play was mine, a play-action pass. When the ball was hiked, the quarterback faked a handoff and dropped back looking for receivers. I ran 15 yards towards the other team’s end zone. The pass came right to me. I was so excited I momentarily bobbled the ball but managed to gain possession before I turned and saw the safety racing towards me. I took a step to my left then did a 360 spin to my right and the guy flew right past me. I was free and ran to the end zone. Nobody touched me. At the sideline Coach patted me on the back and said, “Good job. I didn’t know you had that move.”

There were sophomores in the stands who began chanting, “Bailey! Bailey!” and soon the rest of the spectators took up the chant.

I sat on the bench next to Patrick. I was glowing.

“Where did you learn that move?” he asked.

“By watching,” I answered. “Coach said I could learn a lot by watching.”

When we again gained possession of the ball, I was disappointed that Walker went back in, but I watched closely for the rest of the game.

Before we got into the car, Marco jumped into my arms and pounded my back. On the way home, Mom and Dad congratulated me, Benny had positive things to say, and Marco was ecstatic.

Patrick and I chatted often, usually about football. I would say we were friendly rather than friends. In some ways we were adversaries, both competing for the same prize ─ a starting place on the team. We knew neither of us would gain the prize that year, but we were hopeful time would change that.

Occasionally, one or the other of us would get into a game for a few plays, but only when our team was well ahead.

The first time Patrick caught the ball in a game, he headed towards the goal line, but he seemed to slow down as he ran, and a safety caught him well short of the end zone. Our team stalled and had to punt.

It was shortly after that game that I began to get some funny looks from other players, and they started to shun me. I had no idea why. When I found out why, I was stunned.

Benny was the one who clued me in one day. “There’s a rumor going around that you’re gay,” he said.

I felt a chill go up my back. Whoever heard of a gay football player? I asked myself.

“Where did that come from?” I asked.

“No idea,” Benny responded. “Maybe one of the other players.”

How can this be happening to me? I wondered. Who would start a rumor like that?

Benny said he’d ask around and see what he could find out. He knew a freshman on the team who might be a source of information. When he asked the freshman, all he learned was who had told him the rumor, not who had started it. Benny was not about to give up. He went to that person and was told the rumor came from another player. That player passed him on until at last one of the boys said, “It was Patrick.”

I couldn’t believe it. Patrick and I weren’t exactly friends, but we were teammates. When we met as usual at the track the next morning, I asked Patrick if he had started the rumor.

“No,” he said. “I’d never do that. What do you take me for?”

But I wouldn’t let it go. “Face it,“ I said. “I never had a problem on the team until you came along.”

“I’m not the only new player on the team,” he replied. “Why don’t you ask the others?”

I didn’t know what to do. Should I just ignore the rumor and hope it would pass? And besides, what’s wrong with being gay? I asked myself.

Not knowing what to do, I went to my father.

“Are you gay?” he asked, and I decided that since the subject had arisen, it was a reasonable question.

“No,” I replied, but continued, “at least I don’t think so.”

“Well, Bailey, while I don’t believe there are out gay players in the NFL, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any who are gay. In fact, with the number of players in the league, statistically it’s probable that there are some. If I were you, I’d just go along playing my game hard and ignore the rumor.”

But that wasn’t always easy to do. One day during practice I tackled Martin, a running back, and landed on top of him.

“Get off of me, homo,” he said, shoving me. Soon there was a little crowd around us. I really wanted to hit him, but with all his equipment on he wasn’t a good target.

One of the other players pulled me off Martin and we resumed practice, but all the boys on the field had heard what was said.

I thought about quitting the team, but I knew Dad wouldn’t let me even if I wanted to. He was big on commitment. He would tell me that I had committed myself to the team and I couldn’t leave.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became with Patrick. Others had confirmed that he had started the rumor, and despite his denials I thought he had.

The morning after the incident with Martin, I was on the track with Marco when Patrick joined us. Again, I challenged him, and he denied having said anything.

“You’re a liar,” I said, and pushed him to the ground, where I pounced on him and began punching him. I felt a large hand pull me off him and, looking up, I saw Coach, who looked anything but happy.

“What’s this about?” he asked. “Teammates don’t try to beat each other up.”

I told him about the rumor and that Patrick had started it.

“Patrick,” Coach asked, “is this true?”

“No, sir,” Patrick responded.

“Liar!” I said. There were tears in my eyes. I wiped them away with my balled-up fists.

In the afternoon, Coach called all the boys to him and told us to sit on the grass for a team meeting. He asked the boys about the rumor, and said, “It makes no difference to me whether a boy is gay or straight. What matters to me is whether the boy is a good teammate and works hard.

“But,” he went on, “I won’t have any boy on my team who lies to me. Clearly this rumor has upset players, so we need to get at the origin of it.”

The boys were silent. He looked each one of us in the eyes and waited for a response. At last, one of the seniors said, “Sir, Patrick started the rumor. I heard him tell Martin.”

“Is that true, Martin?”

Martin was silent for a bit but finally said, “Yes, sir. That’s what Patrick told me.”

“And you told others?”

“Yes, sir.”

Looking at Patrick and Martin, Coach said, “Both of you, get your things together and leave the field. You have damaged the team enough with your lies and tales.”

“But, Coach,” said Patrick.

“No buts,” responded Coach. “Just go!”

Silently, the two boys left the field and headed for the locker room.

Dad, who came to the practices as well as the games, was looking on with a bemused expression. I looked over at him and shrugged my shoulders. He nodded.

The boys’ departure seriously thinned our receiver ranks, and I found myself on the starting offense by default. That wasn’t the way I wanted to earn the position, but it was what happened.

On Friday night, I ran onto the field with the rest of the offense and lined up a little apart from the right end. Except for blocking, I didn’t see any action until the second half, when a play-action pass was called.

As I had done before, when the ball was hiked, I ran forward, stopped, juked, and headed for the far end zone. The quarterback, Phil Arnold, launched a pass, leading me perfectly, but this time the safety had recovered from my fake and was running step-by-step with me. As the ball came towards me, the safety jumped and intercepted the pass. Instinctively, I tackled him before he was able to run the ball back.

Phil was dismayed and I heard him swear as he got to the bench.

“Not your fault, Phil,” I said. “I was just outplayed.”

“I never even saw him until it was too late,” Phil responded, as he sat disconsolately. “I should have put more air under the ball. You were ahead of that guy.”

I did catch some shorter passes, and we won the game by three points, but it was close until, with time running out, Phil, who was also our kicker that year, kicked a field goal on the final play.

As people began to leave, Marco ran onto the field and hugged me. “You did good!” he said.

I smiled at him and hugged him back. He was my biggest fan. In his eyes, nothing I did was wrong. We walked off the field hand in hand.

When I rode my bike to school Monday morning, there was a boy I didn’t recognize hanging about near the front door. I had the uncomfortable feeling that he was watching me.

He was slender and blond, with blue eyes, red lips, and the palest skin I had ever seen. I wanted to reach out and touch it, but instead I walked past him to my homeroom. He followed me and came into the room right behind me. He handed the teacher a note and took a seat right behind me.

Mrs. Kagwin, the teacher, asked him to stand. She introduced him to the rest of us as Nils Berger.

As we rose to go to our first class, Nils tapped me on the shoulder. “I watched you play last Friday night. You did really well, especially for a sophomore.”

“Thanks,” I said. For some reason, Nils made me uncomfortable. Well, that wasn’t exactly what I was feeling. Again, I wanted to reach out and touch him, stroking his smooth, milk-white skin, but I was disconcerted and fled, quickly leaving the room and heading to our next class.

Because the sophomore class was quite small, Nils was in most of my classes, and the sight of him haunted me all day. At lunch he managed to sit at a table with me and my friends. He didn’t say anything, but I could feel his eyes on me, constantly.

As I lay in bed that night, I got a boner just thinking about him. It wasn’t my first that day, but now I was free to allow my feelings to come out. I wanted to kiss his red lips. I wanted to touch his pale skin. I wanted to see what the equipment in his groin was like.

You’re sick, I thought. I tried to forget about him, but I had to do something about that boner. I slowly brought it to a pulsing climax. Despite my resolve, I couldn’t help picturing him the entire time.

Oh God, am I queer? I wondered, feeling both physically satisfied and emotionally guilty. What would the team say if they could read my thoughts? I was pretty sure most or all of them jerked off. That’s what boys our age did, but I doubted they thought about other boys as they did it.

The next day, Nils was again waiting inside the front door of the school. I felt my cock stiffen. Trying to cover the bulge in my pants with my notebook, I hurried to homeroom. He stayed right behind me.

As the two of us entered the room and took our seats, Nils asked, “Why don’t you take PE?”

“Football players don’t have to. I have a study period instead. That’s true with other sports, too.”

I realized that Nils habitually wore black ─ a black shirt and black pants ─ which made his pale skin even more startling. As soon as he left the school building in the afternoon, he unbuttoned his shirt almost down to his navel. He was very sexy, and I couldn’t get his pale torso out of my mind.

By Thursday morning I had decided I needed to act.

When I arrived at school, sure enough, he was waiting for me inside the school door.

“Hi,” he said.

I walked up to him, looked him in the eyes, and almost chickened out. But I managed to say, “What is it you want from me? Why are you always hanging around me?”

If possible, he grew even paler.

“I’m sorry,” he replied. “I didn’t realize I was upsetting you.” Then he asked, “Is there somewhere that we could go and talk after school?”

I thought for a moment and said, “No. I have practice.”

“How about after your practice?”

I sighed, "Then I have to go home, clean up, and have supper with my family.”

Maybe on Saturday?”

I could tell he wasn’t going to give up, so I agreed to meet him at a coffee shop not far from my home. I did want to clear things up with him.

Our Friday night game was at St. Paul’s, a bigger school than ours, but their team wasn’t as good, and we won handily.

Saturday morning, I rode my bike to the coffee shop. I got some hot chocolate and sat at a table in a corner where we might be able to talk without being overheard. When Nils arrived, he ordered spiced tea and took a seat across the table from me.

We sat looking at each other. His black shirt was once again unbuttoned. Taking my eyes off his naked chest, I asked, “So, what did you want to talk about?”

He looked at me and suddenly his face glowed red, a contrast to its usual pale hue.

“I ─ I didn’t see the game last night because I couldn’t get a ride, but I saw the one the week before, and I ─ uh ─ I thought you really did well. Then, when you came over to the bench and took off your helmet, I ─ well, I decided I wanted to get to know you.“

Just sitting across from him, so close, my heart was beating faster than usual. I was having other problems as well, physical problems. This was all new to me. I didn’t know how to handle it. I’m sure I became almost as red as he did.

“I don’t understand. Taking off my helmet made you want to know me?”

“Yeah. I’ve never reacted like that to anyone before, and I felt like I wanted to know you better. Actually, I need to. I need to get to know you.”

I was stunned. Was he crushing on me? As far as I knew, nobody ever had. My mind was in a turmoil. What should I say? What should I do? I AM NOT QUEER I thought, even though my hard cock was telling a different story.

He looked at me as though he was both scared and hopeful.

At last I said, “I don’t understand, Nils. Are you saying you, uh, like me? I admit I’m feeling really funny being here, talking to you. This is new to me, too. But, well okay, just us talking is as far as this can go.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve already been accused once by a teammate of being gay, and I can’t afford to let that happen again, even by accident, so you need to back off.”

Nils asked haltingly, “A-a-are you g-gay?”

There was hopefulness in his voice, and I immediately said, “No!” perhaps a little too forcefully.

“Oh,” he said, looking down at his tea.

“Are you?” I asked.

He nodded, and I saw a tear run down his cheeks.

We sat in awkward silence.

A few moments later, Mom, Dad, Benny, and Marco came into the shop. Marco bounced over to our table and asked, “Who’s this?” Trust him to put me on the spot.

“This is Nils Berger,” I said. “He’s a classmate.” Then I introduced Nils to Ben, Mom, and Dad.

Ben said a quick hi and took Marco to the counter to order while Mom and Dad pulled up chairs and sat down.

Great, I thought. Now I’ll need to explain why Nils and I are together. But Mom and Dad simply talked with Nils, asking where he was from, where he lived, and whether he was a sophomore. They seemed to get along easily.

When my brothers returned, Nils had to answer the same questions again, but he didn’t seem to mind. He seemed much more comfortable than I felt.

Nils and I both knew our private conversation was over. He soon rose, shook hands with Mom and Dad, and excused himself.

When he was gone, Dad said, “He seems like a nice boy.”

“I suppose so,” was all I could manage.

At the dinner table that night, Marco said, “I liked Nils. He was really friendly, and he didn’t ignore me just because I’m a little kid.”

Benny agreed, saying, “He obviously likes Bailey, too.”

Once again, I felt that cold chill running down my back. This has to stop, I thought. But that night I couldn’t get Nils out of my mind. Although I thought about him as I jerked off, I resolved to let him know we couldn’t have any sort of a relationship.

At school on Monday, I walked past Nils without even looking at him.

“Bailey,” he called. I stopped. When he caught up to me, he asked, “Are you ignoring me?”

“No,” I answered, again not looking at him.

“Are you mad at me?”

“No. Why would I be?”

By then we had arrived at our homeroom. We went to our seats, and I continued to try ignoring him, even though I had said I wasn’t doing that.

I knew I wasn’t being fair to him, but I felt I shouldn’t do anything to encourage him. It would be much better if he got over me and found someone else. Well, better for me at least.

As days passed, I found myself thinking about Nils often. Perhaps thinking was the wrong word. I was still longing to touch him, to hold him, and to explore his equipment.

Again I thought, I’m sick. Maybe I need a shrink. But I said nothing to anybody. My mother noticed that I wasn’t as lively as usual, but when she mentioned it, I just said I was tired.

Should I say something to Nils? I wondered. Every time I saw him at school, he looked at me with an expression of longing which was hard to ignore.

Our final game of the season was against our archrivals, Grenville Prep. By then I was the first-string wide receiver. On the first play from scrimmage, I ran across behind the opposing linebackers and caught a short pass which I turned into a 12-yard gain. In the second quarter, I ran forward from the scrimmage line about 10 yards and turned towards the sideline, where Phil Arnold put a pass out of reach of the defender but right in my hands. I raced down the sideline until I was knocked out of bounds by a safety. We won the game. Again, our team was undefeated, and we were headed for the division Super Bowl in Springfield.

The afternoon before the team left for Springfield, the school held its traditional pep rally to send us off. There were homemade signs and crepe streamers. The students yelled our cheers. Many of them would be at the game on Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, the game didn’t go well for us. The team from Lincoln had a fabulous running back who demolished our defense. He went on to the state university and in time played for an NFL team, setting records wherever he went. We tried hard, but we just weren’t good enough. Coach gathered us together after the game and told us that he was proud of us, but even that didn’t dispel the gloom in the bus on the way home.

Monday morning was a quiet one at the school. Kids stopped us in the halls to commiserate but that only made me feel worse. I didn’t want people feeling sorry for us.

I already had my sights on next year.

It seemed fitting that the sky was gray and heavy with threatening snow clouds. Sure enough, before the day ended it was snowing.

Part 2

Two days before Christmas, our doorbell rang. When Mom answered the door, she called, “Bailey, there’s someone here to see you.”

I trotted downstairs and stopped dead half-way down when I saw who was there. What should I do? I wondered. Should I just tell him to go away?

I shrugged my shoulders and went to the door, where Nils was waiting, holding a colorfully wrapped package. He asked, “Can I come in?” and I realized I was leaving him standing on the front porch. I opened the door wider and stepped back.

“C’mon,” I said, closing the door and starting back up the stairs. Nils followed, and we went to my room. I suggested he sit on my desk chair while I closed the door behind us.

This is getting dangerous, I thought. What if he makes a move on me? Would I call for help? Would I respond the way my body wanted to or the way my mind told me I should?

Before I could decide, he held out the package and said, “Here, Bailey, this is for you.”

I took it hesitantly, saying, "Thanks.”

“Open it,” he said.

Reluctantly, I opened it. Inside was a New England Patriots hoodie. What should I do? I wondered. After a short silence, I said, “Thanks”.

“I got it at the sports shop in the mall, and it can be returned if you want a different team.”

“No, I like the Patriots. But Nils, I don’t have anything for you.”

“That’s okay. I don’t give presents with a thought of getting something back. If you’ll wear it, that’s all the thanks I need.”

“How did you know where I live?” I inquired.

“I asked around until I found someone who could tell me.”

Great, I thought. Now everybody will know he was asking for me.

There was another awkward silence between us until he said, “Well, I’d better get going.”

I saw him to the door, thanked him again, and watched him walk down the sidewalk. It bothered me how sorry I was to see him walk away.

Over the Christmas holidays we got more snow. It wasn’t a lot, and in January I was still able to ride my bike to school. For the entire vacation I wondered if I should wear the hoodie. I decided to. It was just the right weight for the temperature.

At school, Nils was at his customary post inside the front door. He beamed when he saw the hoodie.

“I wasn’t sure you liked the hoodie,” he said, “or that you’d wear it to school.”

I simply nodded and walked silently to homeroom with him tagging along beside me.

Just before we entered the classroom, one of the girls saw the two of us together and remarked, “Oh, Bailey’s got a boyfriend.”

“I don’t!” I shouted, and then looked around as everyone in the hall stopped and stared. Shit! I thought. I went into the classroom and plunked myself into my seat.

“Sorry,” mumbled Nils as he passed me to get to his seat.

There were days and even weeks after that when we almost never spoke, but Nils’ eyes spoke. Whenever he looked at me there was no way to misinterpret what was in his eyes. I pretended not to notice, but at the same time I began to truly wonder if I was gay. Every night I jerked off as I thought about him. No, I said to myself, you’re just going through a stage.

By spring, I was as fixated on him as he was on me. I longed to touch him, to hold him in my arms, to kiss him. When I saw him at school, my heart pounded, and my cock immediately sprang up. I was afraid people would notice the bulge in my pants, but I kept finding ways to hide it and nobody said anything.

At home, I saw my parents’ concerned looks. One day Marco asked, “What’s the matter with you? You’re not fun anymore.” Benny, who was in the living room with us, nodded in agreement. Mom told them that teenagers had mood swings, which she then had to explain to Marco.

What really upset both me and my parents was that my grades began to drop. I was finding it very difficult to concentrate in class and on my homework.

The winter was hard enough, but ‘in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love’, and I had to acknowledge to myself that I was a mess. At last, I resolved to say something to Nils. But what? I couldn’t tell him about my night-time jerking off sessions, could I?

Without any real idea of what I would say, on Friday I asked Nils to go with me to my house after school. He grinned and agreed.

Outside the school building we retrieved our bikes and rode through the slushy streets to my home.

When we arrived, Mom asked if we wanted a snack, but I turned down the offer and we went up to my room.

Just as we got to the top of the stairs, Benny emerged from his doorway. He hesitated for a moment before saying, “Hi,” and continuing to the bathroom.

I sat on my bed, patting the space beside me for Nils. We remained sitting but said nothing. My heart was again pounding, and I was sweating. We were so close I could feel the heat from his body. I looked up and Nils was looking expectantly. He too looked uncomfortable, though.

“Nils,” I said. Then I stopped. I couldn’t find the words.

“Yes?” he questioned.

“Um, I don’t know what to say,” I offered.

“Well, let me then.” When I was silent, he went on, “Bailey, I ─ I want to be your friend. No, that’s too feeble a word. I want to be your boyfriend. I want us to be together.”

There it was, out in the open.

“Why do you say that?” I asked. “You don’t know anything about me except that I play football.”

“I know lots more than that. I watch you in class, and I love what I see. I can also see that lately you’re not focusing. I think that’s a symptom.”

“Of what?”

“That you’re in love, but I don’t know who with. I wish it was me.”

I said nothing. Remembering my desires to touch him, after a long silence I reached over and stroked his smooth, pale cheek. Then I reached to the back of his head and pulled him to me. My lips found his and he hugged me firmly as our tongues danced. My heart was pounding.

When we broke the embrace, he looked at me and smiled. “Finally,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said. “Finally.”

Just then, Marco walked into the room without knocking and Nils and I hastily pulled apart. “What are you guys doing?” he asked.

“Talking,” I said. I heard Nils snort a little.

“Marco, you can’t just walk into my room without knocking and asking first.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s not polite,” said Nils.

“Oh, sorry,” Marco answered. “I just wanted to ask if I could borrow your ruler.”

I stood up and retrieved the ruler from my desk. Handing it to him, I said, “Here. Just remember what we said.”

“Okay. Thanks,” he replied as he took the ruler and walked out the door. “Well, that certainly broke the mood, didn’t it?” said Nils.

I didn’t say anything. Silently, I reached over and again drew his head towards me. This time we pressed our lips together, hard. I pulled the bottom of his shirt out of his trousers and ran my hand inside it, caressing his back. The skin on his back was as soft and smooth as his cheek was. I couldn’t resist wondering if his butt cheeks were equally soft and smooth. He immediately pulled up my shirt and stroked my back. This time, when I felt the electric jolt up my spine, it thrilled me.

Slowly, I pushed him down so that he was lying on the bed with me looking down at him before I lay down beside him. I knew we were both hard, but I wasn’t sure what to do about that. He knew, however. He rolled over so that I was on the bottom and he was on top of me. Our cocks were side by side inside our pants. Then he began grinding up and down bringing our cocks to a quick explosion.

“Oh, God!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah!” I agreed.

I wondered if Mom would notice the mess in my underwear when she did the laundry.

There was a knock on the door. Nils and I both struggled up so we were seated side by side.

“What?” I called.

“Can I come in?” asked Marco.

“Okay,” I said.

When he entered the room, he looked at the two of us. “Still talking?” he asked.

“Yup,” said Nils.

Marco nodded, handed me the ruler, and left the room, closing the door behind him.

“I’ve never lived with other kids,” said Nils. “Are brothers always a pain?”

“No,” I replied, “and Marco isn’t really.”

We sat for a few minutes holding hands. Then he said, “I’d better be going. Mom will be wondering where I am.”

We stood, but before he left he turned towards me and we kissed again. “Why don’t you come to my house tomorrow?” he asked. “We might not get as many interruptions.”

He told me where he lived and I agreed, telling him I’d get there in the early afternoon. We bounded down the stairs together, and he went out into the darkening afternoon.

Back upstairs I met Benny in the hall again. “Have fun?” he asked.

Oh, damn, I thought. What does he know? Was he spying on us?

In my room, I began to think about the right and wrong of what we had done, and the more I thought about it, the guiltier I felt.

Why did I feel the need to hide what we were doing? Does that mean that it was wrong? I wondered.

That night at supper Benny kept looking at me and smiling. How could he know anything? I thought. He’d only just turned 10.

The next day as we sat in Nils’ bedroom, I said, “I’ve been thinking. We need to find things to do for the summer.

“How about sex?” he asked, arching his eyebrows.

After thinking for a moment, I said, “I have to say that even though I enjoyed what we did yesterday, I’m really uncomfortable with continuing it.”

“Why? There’s nothing wrong with it.”

“Well, if we were at ease with it, why would we hide it from our families? Would our parents think there was nothing wrong?”

“I don’t know your parents well enough to answer that question, but I think mine would be relieved that I’d found someone.”

“Somehow, I can’t see me talking about this with mine.”

Instead of sex, we walked to the coffee shop and sat chatting about unimportant things.

School closed for the summer, and empty days stretched ahead of us waiting to be filled with whatever we chose to do.

My birthday was only a few days later, and I looked forward to being a junior in high school in the fall. I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated, but in those early, balmy days of summer, that problem seemed a long way off.

I hadn’t told Nils about my birthday, and I had no idea when his was.

My family celebrated quietly, with a dinner of my favorite foods plus ice cream and cake.

The next time Nils and I got together, I asked him if he had any thoughts about what he’d do after our senior year.

“I don’t know. My parents want me to go to college, and I suppose I will, but where I’ll go and what I’ll study are both open questions.”

I agreed and told him that he had probably just described my situation as well.

I ran nearly every day during the summer with Marco tagging along. Some days Nils and I swam at the town pool. Other days we went to the park to play in whatever games were going on. We spent time in town and at the mall. Although we hugged and kissed nearly every time we were together, we went no farther. There were days when Nils tried to talk me into having sex with him, but to his disappointment, I demurred. Nevertheless, he kept trying.

Despite all those days that had stretched before us, it was soon time to start football practice again.

Phil had graduated in the spring, and we had a new quarterback, Kevin Otis. He had a powerful arm but lacked the accuracy Phil had.

Coach asked me to give kicking a try, as I had been running and he thought I had strong legs. Punting wasn’t too much of a problem, but accuracy with field goals took a lot of practice. My first attempts were all over the field. In time, I began to put the ball through the uprights fairly regularly. Then it was a matter of increasing my distance. As for kickoffs, I envied the college and professional players who could consistently put the ball into the end zone.

We won most of our games that year, but we didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. I managed to kick five field goals out of eight tries. Most of the ones I missed were farther from the goal posts than the ones I made. I resolved to keep practicing until the snows came, and then again next spring and summer.

There was one problem with practicing, however. Who would retrieve my kicks? At first, I got a teammate to do it, but he wearied of the task and quit. I decided to ask Nils if he would do it. He seemed more than willing, so every weekend we were out practicing until we got a heavy snow in early December.

The snow was deep enough that I couldn’t ride my bike to school, and I began walking. Nils too was walking, so we met on the way and separated at his street on the way home unless one of us was going to visit the other.

Visiting wasn’t always possible during the week because of our homework load, which got heavier in our junior year. When we did visit, we sat hugging and kissing on a bed.

We went no further until one day in February Nils undid my belt buckle, unzipped my fly, and reached inside my underwear, grasping my hard cock. As he held it, he said, “I can feel your pulse. It’s going lickity split.”

“Nils,” I protested, “we can’t do this.”

Instead of stopping, he pulled my cock out of my fly and knelt in front of me. He took my dick in his mouth and began stroking it with his tongue and lips. When I came, I shot into his mouth. He swallowed and looked up at me smiling.

“How was that?” he asked, climbing onto the bed beside me.

“It was amazing, but we can’t do that,” I protested again.

“Why?” he asked. “Because of your puritanical morals?”

“I’m not puritanical.”

“Well, it seems like it to me. I think you should talk with your dad, the doctor, about what you’re feeling. I bet he’d say it was okay.”

“And if he doesn’t? If he disapproves?”

“Then you’d at least know where you stood.”

I thought about that. I had to admit that even if I felt guilty, I enjoyed the sex the few times it had happened. After a long pause, I said, “Okay, I’ll ask him. If I get grounded or told I can’t see you anymore, it’s your fault.”

I waited for a chance to talk with Dad, but I didn’t get one until the weekend. We were in the car and heading home after my driver’s ed class. I took a deep breath, thinking, here goes nothing.

“Dad,” I said, and stopped.

He looked briefly at me and asked, “What?”

“I need to talk with you...” I hesitated, then blurted out, “About sex.”

“Why don’t we pull into the park where we can talk without my going off the road,” he suggested.

I nodded and soon we were parked near the Little League ball field.

“Okay,” he said, “shoot.”

“That’s the problem.” I giggled.

He laughed with me but then grew silent.

Getting serious, I said, “I’m really attracted to Nils.”

“I figured,” he said.

“Well, we’ve done a little bit of sex stuff, but he wants to do more, and part of me does too. Anyway, after we’ve done something together, I’m sometimes remorseful.”

“Let me understand. You feel guilty?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m not sure what we’re doing is right or if you would approve.”

He thought for a minute before saying, “Bailey, I’m not sure it’s a question of approval or if whatever you’re doing is right or not. What I am sure of is that every boy in the world experiments with sex, usually before he settles down with one person. That’s okay. I did, and I imagine almost every boy you know does, either by masturbating or with a partner. I certainly don’t believe you should feel guilty.”

When he said, ‘I did’, I was shocked. Who can imagine his father lying on a bed jerking off or giving a blowjob? I certainly couldn’t.

“Bailey,” he went on, “I should have had this chat with you a long time ago. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

I nodded. “Thanks, Dad,” I said quietly, still trying to picture him having sex at any age. The thought was a shock.

In the afternoon, I walked to Nils’ home, and he invited me in.

“Let’s go upstairs,” I suggested.

He nodded, turned, and trotted up the stairs with me right behind him.

When we were sitting on his bed, I said, “My dad and I talked this morning.”

He nodded and asked, “And?”

I told Nils everything Dad had said, even what he’d said about himself. Nils listened quietly, but as I talked a grin slowly spread across his face.

When I finished, he reached over and unbuttoned my flannel shirt. Folding it carefully, he removed my T-shirt and then unbuckled my pants.

“Stand up,” he whispered.

I did.

He unzipped my fly and pushed my pants down towards my feet. He pulled them off, then my socks, leaving only my bulging underpants. He slipped his hands into their waistband and gently pushed them down to the floor. I stepped out of them.

Before I could do anything for him, he began stripping. Soon we were standing naked, facing each other, our boners pointing out proudly. He put his hands on my chest and said, “God, you’re beautiful.” Then he pulled me close in a firm hug.

We kissed, gently at first, and then harder, ultimately moving to tonguing. By then both our cocks were dripping precum.

He reached down and took a gentle hold of my dick before kneeling in front of me and slipping it into his mouth. I felt the tension rising. Just as I was really getting into it, he withdrew his mouth.

“Don’t stop!” I protested.

“If I stop for a minute and then start again, you’ll get that wonderful feeling twice.”

He was right. When he resumed, I again felt the tension grow in my groin. I moved my hips forward and back, fucking his mouth gently. The feeling grew and grew until I finally throbbed and spewed my cum into his throat.

As I was coming down from my high, he stood and asked, “Do you know how good you taste?”

I shook my head before I knelt in front of him and took him into my mouth. It was the first time I had a cock in my mouth, and I paused for a moment to enjoy the firm, soft sensations. Soon, he was shooting into my throat. I almost gagged, but then I rolled some of his cum around in my mouth before swallowing.

Standing, I said, “You taste pretty damned good yourself.”

The two of us flopped on his bed and lay front to front, gently kissing and caressing.

When we were hard again, he showed me how to sixty-nine. As we licked and sucked, we climaxed at the same time.

I dozed off after that and I think he did too, but I awoke later when I felt him gently rubbing my back. Soon, we were ready again, and once again we came in each other’s mouths.

I lay back and said, “I wonder if Dad knows what he set off today.”

“I bet he does,” said Nils.

Glancing at the bedside clock, I saw it was almost dinner time. “I’d better get home,” I said.

I hastily dressed, gave Nils a farewell kiss, and headed down the stairs and out into the cold. I walked towards home, but my legs were wobbly. I began to feel giddy, and nearly stumbled. Somehow, I made it but had to sit in our living room and recoup.

I was silent at dinner that night, but Mom and my brothers kept up the conversation while Dad gazed at me occasionally and smiled.

From then on, Nils and I were constantly together, in school and out. It didn’t take long for word to get around school that we were a couple. But unlike the upset with the football team when I was a freshman, there were no repercussions. When we passed people in the halls, they smiled and we smiled back. When I saw teammates, they either congratulated me or said nothing. I think the team had learned a lesson when Patrick and Martin had been thrown off the team.

With my ambivalence to sex gone, my grades began to rise again.

I practiced football and exercised during the summer, usually with Nils, who began to develop physically.

In August, it was clear that we had another good team. By then I had reached my desired height – six foot two inches, although I was less than 200 pounds. Kevin was still our quarterback and had become a much more accurate passer over his time with the team. I had asked Nils to join the team just to be my holder when I attempted field goals or extra points.

We won the first four games before coming up against a team which almost beat us. We won, but only by an extra point.

Marco continued to be my biggest fan and cheerleader. He had joined me in my summer exercising and was bulking up almost as much as Nils, although he was still much shorter.

By the end of the season, we had again made it to our division Super Bowl.

The day of our game in Springfield, it began to snow. Few of us had ever played in snow. Players on both sides had to adjust to the conditions. Kevin’s hands were cold, and the ball was wet and slippery. He tossed me a few short passes, but I had trouble gaining traction when I tried to turn up field.

With three minutes to play, the other team kicked a field goal and led three to nothing. Their kickoff went out of bounds, so we got possession in a good spot, only about 40 yards from the goal.

Our first play was a quarterback draw. Kevin showed pass but then plunged through the line for a 12-yard gain. With a combination of short passes and runs, we managed to get the ball to the six-yard line with fourth down coming up, clearly our last play. If we kicked a field goal, we could tie the game, but Coach wasn’t a fan of ties and none of us really wanted one either. On the other hand, we didn’t want to lose.

Nils trotted onto the field to hold the ball for a field goal. When it was hiked to him, he held it for a moment and then flicked it back to me. The other team was so concentrated on blocking the field goal that they all converged on Nils. I ran around the end and into the end zone. TOUCHDOWN! And that was how the game ended.

Nils was a little battered as he had been run into by a couple of players, but he picked himself up off the ground in time to see me cross the goal line.

As soon as the horn blew to signal the end of the game, Marco raced onto the field, hugged me, and then ran to Nils and hugged him, too.

The team was euphoric as we rode the bus home. Nils and I sat together, with our arms around each other’s shoulders. Nobody said a word.

Wrinkling his nose, he said, “You stink!” In fact, most of the team did, and the air in the bus was pretty awful.

When I got home, Marco, who had watched us practice the fake field goal earlier, jumped into my arms and hugged me again. He was 10 by then and usually thought he was too old to hug, but that day was an exception. After I showered, taking my time to enjoy the hot water on my skin, we had a big celebratory dinner, and at Mom’s insistence Nils was invited. He joined in with the excited chatter.

He and I slept in my bed that night, but we were both too tired to do much more than kiss and hug.

On Monday morning, kids congratulated us and said nice things about Nils’ part in our victory.

We headed into the long, dreary winter, dreading the rest of our senior year, for there would be more and harder homework, but we survived as most seniors do.

As often as possible when we weren’t at school, Nils and I were either at his house or mine.

One afternoon, Benny, who was by then 13, asked, “Are you and Nils, um, having sex?”

I think I blushed fiercely, but I didn’t want him to go through the same anxiety I had, so I nodded.

“Good,” he said, and grinned as he walked away.

Nils and I both wanted to go to college, but in our junior year we had decided not to go to the same one because we wanted to major in different subjects. He wanted to study ecology and forestry, so he wanted to go to the University of Montana in Missoula. I was going to study business administration in an Ivy League school where I hoped to also play football.

Through our last summer, we usually slept together at one house or the other.

Just before we both flew off to college, I was at his house for the last time. We really had not gone much beyond the sex we had as juniors, but that night, Nils opened the drawer in his bedside table and pulled out some lube.

I had watched anal sex in porn on the computer. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted it, but Nils persuaded me to try it. He lubed my butt hole thoroughly and then put some on his cock before he began inserting it into my backside.

Although he went slowly and gently, it hurt, and I told him so. He pulled back and let me rest before he pushed until he was all the way in.

I still hurt, but it was an interesting feeling having him inside me. When he came, he whispered in my ear, “Touchdown!”

He insisted that I do him, although I was hurting and even bleeding some. The feeling of my hard, throbbing dick in his velvet tunnel was incredible, and I could understand why guys liked it. When I came, I cried out, “TOUCHDOWN!”

In the morning, we exchanged long, loving kisses and promised we’d get together at Christmas vacation. That never happened. His parents moved to another state, and Nils and I never saw each other again.

He was my first love and I thought of him often, even after I found others to love. I guess the first is always special.

Author’s Notes

Carl Nassib was the first openly gay player in the NFL. About 15 other players have come out, but not necessarily until their playing days were over.

Many thanks to my hard-working editors who help to make my stories more accurate and understandable. And many thanks to Mike, for maintaining AwesomeDude.

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