My Friend Ethyl and the Haunted Mansion

(or how to humiliate a bully)

By Altimexis

A Sequel to Going Out for Halloween

A Crossover Story for Bed, Breakfast & Boys

Posted October 28, 2017


High school. Grrr! It was bad enough that I was starting high school, but I was starting high school in a new school district – a school district where I didn’t know anybody. After years of working the PM shift at Saint Vincent’s Hospital, Mom got a big promotion and was now the nursing supervisor for the Urology Department. That meant working days instead of evenings, and she was in charge of hiring and firing the other nurses who worked in the Urology Suite. It also meant spending a lot of her time helping Urologists do things to guys’ penises that I didn’t even want to think about, but hey, the pay was pretty good. More than good. It meant finally being able to afford to buy a house.

So after talking with a realtor and going to a lot of open houses, we just couldn’t find anything we liked in the same area where we lived. As an inner ring, upscale suburb, any area that was decent was way too expensive for us. We couldn’t afford the down payment and besides which, I’d be going to college in four years. We needed to save for that too. The neighborhoods that were affordable were kind of seedy. As Mom put it, they had way too many pickup trucks in way too many driveways.

We could have kept on renting, but Mom was young – she’d had me when she was just a teenager herself. If she bought something now, she’d own it, free and clear, by the time she retired. No, buying a house was definitely the thing to do. It was only fair that she build up equity. Mom left the decision to me, since it would be my life that would be the most affected. We both agreed we wanted a house and not a condo. Of course I’d be the one to cut the grass and keep up the yard, but I’d get paid for that, and I could sure use the money.

Unfortunately, if we couldn’t find a house we liked in our area, I’d have to change school districts, which meant leaving all my friends and my boyfriend Josh behind. My friends were all fourteen – actually, I was still only thirteen myself – so it would be years before any of us could drive, and public transportation was barely existent, and pretty shitty at that. The one saving grace was that I’d be starting high school in the fall, so I’d be starting at a new school, regardless. But I’d sure as fuck miss all my friends, and I’d be heartbroken at maybe losing my first and only boyfriend.

Mom and I must have spent weeks looking at houses in different neighborhoods, looking for just the right one. We both agreed that the wrong house, or even just an OK house, would be worse than no house at all. We were determined to find a nice house that we could afford, with enough room for maybe a future brother or sister, in a good neighborhood with good schools. Left unsaid was that it had to be in a reasonably gay-friendly neighborhood. This being the Midwest, we didn’t expect much more than tolerance, but I’d be miserable going to school with a bunch of rednecks whose favorite pastimes were reading Leviticus and target practice shooting guns at their favorite fruit. I came out last year at Halloween and I was proud of it. I even helped start a GSA in my middle school. There was no way I was going back in the closet.

But that actually left out quite a few neighborhoods we might have otherwise considered – some of them very nice ones. After all, what good would it be to live in a McMansion in an upscale neighborhood if all the other kids attending my high school lived in trailer parks? In the end, we decided to live in the city in an older, established neighborhood. The houses in the neighborhood we liked weren’t exactly cheap – city living was considered cool these days and all the houses were unique. There wasn’t a tract house in sight.

For what we could afford to put down, we got a really sick-looking three-bedroom castle. Seriously, the exterior was stone and it looked to be at least a foot thick. The vestibule looked like a turret with a curved staircase going up to the second floor, and there were little cubbyholes around the wall as you went up the staircase, where you could put stuff, like little statues and things. It looked crazy cool – I loved it. The best part, though, was a real wrought iron gate between the living room and dining room. Like I said, it was a castle.

Fortunately, one of the previous owners had added onto the back porch and enclosed it to make a family room with a first-floor bathroom – otherwise we’d have had to huff it to the second floor, just to take a leak. They’d also added on above it to enlarge the master bedroom, giving Mom a walk-in closet and her own master bathroom. That meant that, at least for now, I had the main bathroom to myself. Further, they’d added central air, which I really appreciated during our hot, muggy Midwestern summers.

The best news of all was the high school. Our house was in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, which meant going to Broad Ripple High. Broad Ripple was a magnet school for the arts, and it had a very active GSA. If I had to switch schools and to switch school districts, Broad Ripple was the high school to go to. My chances of finding a boyfriend there were better than excellent.

But that only reminded me of how much I missed Josh, my current boyfriend. Yeah, we spent a lot of time talking about how we could stay together, back around the time of eighth grade graduation. By then we already knew I was moving to Broad Ripple. The trouble was that his mom still worked the PM shift at Saint Vincent’s, and my mom had just started a new job with erratic and unpredictable work hours. Neither one of them could be counted on to drive us to see each other, and we sure as fuck couldn’t afford Uber. Bus service between Broad Ripple and the suburbs was virtually non-existent – not that I would have cared to ride with some of the characters who rode the bus anyway. And the four miles between us might as well have been four hundred miles when it came to walking or riding our bikes. The roads between us were busy streets and highways with no bike lanes and in a lot of cases, no sidewalks either.

Sure, there were plenty of ways to stay in touch – and we would, at least for now – but Facebook couldn’t take the place of a kiss, and even though we’d only recently gone beyond giving each other hand jobs, phone sex was nothing more than masturbation. In the end we decided it would be best if we both started over. We’d both be starting new schools with lots of new potential boyfriends. But man, thoughts of moving sure put a damper on things.

I could have spent the whole summer moping around but, thankfully, that didn’t happen. My friends wouldn’t let it happen. For one thing, the move didn’t occur until the end of July, so I still had a solid couple of months to spend with all of my friends. Our townhouse complex had a really great pool, so I spent a lot of the time shirtless and soaking up the rays. My best friend, Carl, lived in a townhouse right across the street from me, so a lot of my time was spent just messing around (not that way) and shooting the shit. Intellectually I knew that someday I might pay a heavy price for my youthful indiscretion, but it sure as hell felt fantastic to be outdoors in only my shorts or a swimsuit, and I loved my deep dark tan.

And then there was my camping trip with Josh. Oh man, my camping trip with Josh! A whole week camping in Eagle Creek Park, just the two of us. Sure, it was still within the county, just a few miles from home, but intellectually it was a whole other world. In a way it was comforting to know we could get home quickly in an emergency, but we knew we wouldn’t need to, and we didn’t. We made sure our camping spot was isolated and far enough away from the nearest neighbor, so that we wouldn’t disturb them.

We had a decent four-man tent, which gave us plenty of room to spread out, even though we didn’t need it. As soon as we put up the tent, we set up our sleeping bags on the air mattresses, and then zipped them together. Yeah, when we weren’t on the water in a rented row boat or canoe, or in the water swimming, or hiking the many park trails, or fishing, we were in our tent, exploring the wonders of raw, teenage gay sex! We were both a little scared to go all the way just yet, but we did learn the fine art of the blow job and how to enjoy a long, drawn-out 69. Not that all our fun was in having sex, but we sure made the most of our time together. It was bitter-sweet time, as we’d never again be able to enjoy sex together, or even making out. Scarcely a week remained before the move, and then our communications would be limited to texting, Facebook and Facetime on our phones. Then we’d both start our lives in separate high schools and, inevitably get new boyfriends.

It was a tearful goodbye when the moving van showed up at our townhouse. We hugged, and kissed and cried, right up until Mom said we had to leave if we were going to meet the moving van at the new place. I don’t think my tears stopped until the next day, but then there was way too much stuff that had to be done. There just wasn’t any time to mope around.

Even after the move, the summer was awesome. Not that moving is fun – it didn’t take long to discover that moving is a lot of work, and it puts a strain on any relationship – but Mom and I worked pretty well together as a team, and getting to set up my room from scratch was fun! It pretty much took the rest of the summer to get the house in shape and even then, there were still boxes stacked up in the living room and in the basement, but by Labor Day, our house really started to feel like a home.

Mom bought me a brand-new battery-powered electric mower and had the sales clerk show me how to use it. He was pretty cute, too. Compared to a gas mower, it was really, really quiet, but it was a push-type mower, with the emphasis on push. Mom thought using it would be good exercise for me, but it left me with aches and pains in places I didn’t even know I had muscles.  I quickly learned the location of every rock, hole, and buried tree stump in the yard. And even though the mower was supposedly designed to cut the grass into a fine mulch, I found I still had to do a fair bit of raking afterwards.

I found that yardwork meant a lot more than mowing the grass. I had to weed between the shrubbery and the flower beds, water and fertilize the grass, the trees, the shrubs and the plants, and I had to edge and trim, and keep everything looking neat. I learned the hard way that if I got lazy and didn’t do everything every week, I’d have four times the work the next week. I guess it was nature’s way of punishing laziness.

Thanks to all that yardwork and in spite of the time spent indoors unpacking, by the end of the summer, not only had I maintained my tan, but I had a decent set of muscles to compliment it. I was as self-conscious as any teenager, but even I had to admit that I looked hot. And already I had a couple hundred dollars extra in my wallet. Sweet!

The downside to all that unpacking and all the yardwork was that I hadn’t yet had a chance to really explore the neighborhood, nor to meet any of the neighbors. There were other kids my age in the neighborhood – I could see that. I saw them from my bedroom window, and I even waved to a couple of boys when I was outside working on the yard, but it was always at a distance. There was an incredibly hot-looking boy right across the street from us, but we never seemed to be outside at the same time and so we had yet to meet. Assuming he went to Broad Ripple, that would soon change – probably in less than an hour if we both rode the bus.

Yeah, today was the first day of high school and like every other kid about to start the year at a new school, I was petrified. I literally groaned aloud as I roused myself from bed, shut off the alarm on my phone and straightened my bed a bit. I’d stopped wearing pajamas or anything else to bed when I was eight, so Mom caught an eyeful as I made my way to the shower. I knew a lot of kids were self-conscious about such things, but she was a nurse and had seen far more willies than I cared to think about. Seeing me in the nude was nothing new.

Waiting for the water to be hot enough to shower was something I was still getting used to. Unfortunately, today that just gave me a bit more time to think about all the things that could go wrong in my new school. I was gay, out and proud as any thirteen-year-old, soon to be fourteen. There could be problems. Broad Ripple was a school for the arts and it had an active GSA, but this was the Midwest, after all. I’d already planned to wear one of my rainbow shirts and my double-Mars pendant, and last night I dyed my hair lavender. I wanted to leave no doubt about my orientation, but was I carrying it too far? Was I over the top? Would I pay the price in drawing attention to myself – unwanted attention?

And then there was the way I talk. I knew I was different from the other kids my age. Mom says they could put a picture of me next to the definition of the word ‘precocious’ in the dictionary, and I’d long known she was right. You ask most kids how they feel, and they’ll reply, “I’m good.” I just can’t bring myself to say that. The word is “well”, dammit. The correct phrase is, “I’m well,” but it sounds super-dorky to say that. Why can’t I be like the other kids and speak like an ignoramus? It’d be so much easier if I could bring myself to sound like a troglodyte, but I can’t. This is who I am and I just have to live with the consequences. Just as with being gay.

The feel of the water cooling down brought me back down to earth as I realized I’d long finished my shower. Still, the hot water didn’t seem to last all that long. It was barely enough for two people. I’d have to talk to Mom about maybe adding a hot water heater upstairs – maybe one of those high-efficiency flash models. But I was stalling again. Drying myself off, I put on my deodorant and splashed on a little of the cologne Mom gave me for Christmas. I noticed that the hair above my lip was getting to be ever more apparent, but I still didn’t have enough facial hair to begin shaving yet. It would probably be several months before I would.

After gelling my hair and getting dressed, I grabbed my book bag, which contained only a notebook, and headed downstairs. Mom had breakfast waiting for me. Already on the table was a plate with a couple of pancakes, some sausage links and a couple strips of bacon. Next to that was a glass of orange juice and a pot of much-needed coffee. Sitting down, I grabbed the coffee and poured myself a steaming mug-full before I did anything else. I’d been a coffee drinker since I started middle school. After smothering my pancakes with syrup, I looked around and realized the paper wasn’t there.

Looking up at Mom, I asked, “Didn’t the paper come this morning?”

Smiling, she replied, “I expect it did. Would you care to bring it in?”

That was another thing I was having trouble getting used to. Unlike in the suburbs, the mail was delivered right to the door through a mail slot – that was nice – but the newspaper, rather than being tossed onto the door step, was haphazardly tossed into the yard. Groaning and getting up from the table, Mom actually kissed me on the cheek as I went by. Why do mothers do that?

It was already a warm day, even at this early hour, so I didn’t bother to wear any shoes. I enjoyed the soft feel of the grass against my bare feet as I walked through the yard, practically to the street to retrieve the paper from where it had been thrown. Returning inside, I pulled the paper from its plastic sheath and started to scan the headlines as I walked back to the kitchen to finish my breakfast.

As I sat back down, planning to read the front section of the paper as I finished my breakfast, Mom spoke up, reminding me that I no longer had breakfast to myself. “My, you’re getting so tall, Billy.”

Rather than answer her, I shrugged my shoulders, indicating my indifference. Truly, I was tall for my age. I was taller than a lot of my friends who were as much as a year older than I. I was still only thirteen, yet I’d already reached six feet. Mom, I guess, was pretty average at five-six, but according to her, my dad had been a basketball star. I never met the man – he was only a boy when he knocked Mom up, actually – and given that he’d wanted nothing to do with his kid, the feeling was mutual on my part.

Although I tried to return to reading the paper as I ate, Mom went on, “Are you excited about starting high school, Billy?”

Dropping the paper onto the table in frustration, I responded, “Actually, I think I may go by William, or maybe Will from now on.” Billy was a little kids name, and I wasn’t a kid anymore. I didn’t feel much like a Bill either, though. I guess I liked the sound of the name William most of all, but even to me, that sounded a bit formal. Perhaps to my teachers I’d be William, but for my classmates, I’d be Will – I just hoped no one got the idea to turn it into Willy, especially given my sexuality.

“Just don’t expect me to change what I call you overnight,” Mom replied. “After all, I’ve been calling you Billy for nearly fourteen years. But the choice is yours to make.”

“Then let’s make it Will,” I said. “Will suites me better than Billy or Bill.”

“You do realize you’ll be Will Watson,” Mom pointed out.

“Which is why I’ll go by William in class,” I replied with a smile. Then after a pause, I put down the piece of bacon in my hand in disgust and added, “I think I want to be a vegetarian.”

“Really,” Mom exclaimed. “Whatever brought that on? After all, you love your meat.”

Even though it was my mom saying it, I couldn’t help myself as I snorted coffee out my nose. We both ended up laughing hysterically before I calmed down enough to answer her. “Killing animals for food is just plain wrong, Mom. Just thinking about where these sausages came from kind of makes me feel sick.”

“What about dairy?” Mom asked. “Are you thinking about becoming a vegan, or just a vegetarian? And what about fish, or poultry?”

“Wow, I hadn’t thought about that!” I exclaimed. “I guess dairy is OK, since they don’t have to kill the animals. It’s still exploitation, but I love yogurt too much. Poultry’s definitely out. You know what the chicken farms are like. Even for so-called free-range chicken. And there’s all the antibiotics and hormones they use. It’s not just unethical, but it’s downright unhealthy to eat animals.

“I’ll have to give some thought to eating fish. Overfishing is a big problem and I’d like to do my part, but fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein. And I love salmon, and shrimp and seafood in general. I may have to rethink my ethics when it comes to fish and seafood.”

“How about leather?” Mom went on. “Are you going to stop wearing leather?”

“You’re not going to make this easy, are you?” I replied. Looking down at my feet, I continued, “I suppose I could wear canvas sneakers, but they don’t protect nearly as well as sneakers with leather uppers… and they get wet! Besides which, I love the leather jacket you got me after you got your promotion. I guess I’ll just have to forget about where those things came from.”

“If you do choose to be a vegetarian, Will,” Mom responded, “I’m afraid you’ll be on your own when it comes to preparing your dinner. I can handle a vegetarian breakfast, and I’m sure you can get a vegetarian lunch at the school cafeteria, but there’s no way I’m learning how to cook vegetarian food for dinner.”

Rather than telling her the truth – that I was already on my own for dinner – I decided to just keep my mouth shut. Her new work schedule had changed everything. On the plus side, she was always home for breakfast and had taken to preparing a decent breakfast for the both of us every morning. On the minus side, she was no longer home for dinner much of the time. The one thing I’d been able to count on when she worked the PM shift was to come home to a nice home-cooked meal and to sit down with her and eat it together.

Now, the earliest she ever got home was six o’clock and it wasn’t unusual for her to come home closer to midnight. Even by six, I would have died of starvation. I was a teenager after all. So with the new job came the new reality that I now had my Mom in the morning, but that I was on my own in the afternoon and evening. I’d already taught myself to cook some simple things like chicken parmigiana and salmon Florentine with a mean hollandaise sauce, and so I’d learn to prepare vegetarian dishes. It would be a challenge, but it would be fun!

“It would be a shame to miss the bus on your first day of high school,” Mom stated, interrupting my thoughts.

Looking up at the clock, I shouted, “Shit,” as I quickly downed the rest of my breakfast, excluding the meat, drained my coffee mug, grabbed my book bag and toed on my sandals. I slipped a breath strip into my mouth as I opened the door, wished Mom a good day at work, and headed outside.

As it turned out, my bus stop was directly across the street, where the boy lived that I’d been spying since we moved in. He wasn’t there yet, but there were a couple of girls and a boy there waiting, so I knew I was heading for the right place. One of the girls was clearly older, like maybe sixteen or seventeen. I thought that most kids that age either drove themselves to school, or were dropped off by their parents. I would have preferred being dropped off too, but my mom worked in the opposite direction and, besides, there was no way she could have picked me up. The school district had a stupid rule that you either rode the bus both ways every day, or you rode it not at all.

The other girl was still a little older than me, but not by much. I would have guessed she was fourteen or fifteen and probably a sophomore. The boy, on the other hand, looked to be young, as in what the fuck was he doing in high school young. He didn’t look like he could be any older than eleven. Maybe twelve if he was young for his age and hadn’t started puberty.

As I approached the group, the younger girl exclaimed, “Damn!” before I could even open my mouth.

“Damn?” I queried. “That’s sure a funny way to greet the new kid.”

“Not if you’ve been salivating over him since he moved in,” she replied. “I’ve been watching you do the yard work and you are definitely one of the hottest boys in the school.” Then she blushed a deep, dark red, and of course I blushed too.

“What about me?” interrupted the boy in a high-pitched, girly voice.

“I hate to break it to you, Will, but hot isn’t exactly the term I’d use to describe you,” the girl replied. “Cute… definitely cute, but as young as you look, you just aren’t hot. Maybe when you start puberty…”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” the boy interrupted. Then turning to me, he continued, “What I meant is that, since you’re obviously not interested in dating Sharon, would you like to date me?”

“Oh!” I responded. “I ah…”

Holding up his palm to may face, he interrupted me and said, “Before you say it, I’m not too young! I know I look like I’m ten or eleven, but I’m not. I’m thirteen – almost fourteen. I’ll be fourteen on Halloween. I’m a true millennial, born at the end of the twentieth century.” What the fuck? He was born on the same day I was, and his name was Will!

Then turning back to the girl, he went on, “And I have started puberty. I’ve been getting wet dreams for over a year now, and I jerk off… all the time. Several times a day!” Then he colored up furiously and said, “Fuck! Did I really just say that?”

“Yeah, you did,” I responded. “For what it’s worth, I do too, several times a day.” Then coloring up, I corrected myself. “Well, maybe two or three times a day, or sometimes four.”

“I can’t believe you boys are having this conversation,” chimed in the older girl for the first time.

“I can’t believe we are either,” the boy answered. “It’s not the sort of thing I discuss before I’ve gone on a first date with someone. Not that I’ve ever been on a first date with someone.” Then turning back to me, he continued, “Sorry… I guess I got carried away. I know I’m not in your league and you’re probably not interested in dating some freshman guy who looks like he’s just starting middle school rather than high school. Just forget it, OK?”

Damn, this kid was really getting to me. He wasn’t what you’d call hot in any shape or form, but he was one of the cutest boys I’d ever seen. And I really liked his personality. I mean, I really liked him. He shared my name, my birthday and he was as precocious as I was. Most kids were turned off by the way I talked, but this kid talked the same way! Maybe it was fate that brought me here, but I wanted to get to know him.

“Will,” I began, “you’re not going to believe this, but we’re the same age. The same exact age. I was born on October 31, 2000, two months before the start of the twenty-first century.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he replied. “You look like you could be fifteen! I can’t believe we’re the same age!”

“Opposite extremes of the bell-shaped curve,” I responded.

“The fifth percentile and the 95th percentile,” Will agreed. “I can’t believe we were both born on the same day, and on Halloween!”

“And it gets even weirder,” I went on. “My name is Will, too.”

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” the shorter boy replied. “So if you’re Will Two, I guess that makes me Will One,” he added with a grin. “At least it’s not Willie. All through the eight grade, they called me Willie. Little Willie Williams, the fag boy of Broad Ripple. They didn’t even know I was gay. They still don’t, but I do plan to come out. I want to date. I want a boyfriend, and that isn’t going to happen with me still in the closet… even if everyone already assumes I’m gay, because of my being small, and because of the way I talk…”

“I talk the same way,” I interrupted.

“I noticed,” he responded with a grin.

“And I’m gay too… sorry ladies,” I added.

“I wonder if all gay boys talk this way.”

Smiling, I replied, “Not on your life. No one else talked like I did at my old middle school. About a dozen of us were out and we had an active GSA, but I was the only one who knew the difference between being good and being well.”

The younger boy’s face lit up as he exclaimed, “I hate it when people say, ‘I’m good.’ Most of them are definitely not good. A lot of them are bad. But they feel well. It’s well, not good!”

Both girls rolled their eyes at that. Obviously, they’d heard the diatribe before, but it sure as fuck felt great to find someone else who felt the same way I did.

Suddenly, a yellow school bus appeared from out of nowhere and came to a stop right in front of us. At that exact moment, the front door of the house where we were standing crashed open and the boy I’d been ogling all August came running down the driveway.

He was hot as ever, dressed in tight-fitting designer jeans and a dark red wife beater. The wife beater sported the logo of one of the most expensive designer brands, and he was wearing a pair of Nike’s that had to have cost at least $200. Even his belt was designer and expensive, and shit, he was wearing an Apple watch – the Edition, which cost twenty grand! My entire outfit cost less than what he paid for his wife beater. The boy was way out of my league.

I guess I must have been staring, though, as little Will grabbed me by the arm and pulled me toward the bus. He pulled me right up the steps and pushed me into an empty seat near the front of the bus, and then sat down next to me.

“Whatever you do, don’t look up,” little Will whispered in my ear. “Look out the window or look at me, but don’t look up. Let him pass. Please, just let him pass.” The poor boy sounded so pathetic, but the panic in his voice kept me quiet as I stared out the window.

Finally, as the bus pulled away, I looked at Will and asked, “What the hell? What’s the deal here?”

“I know he’s good looking and you probably think he’s sexy,” little Will replied, “but underneath that pretty face and those designer clothes is one of the worst bullies you’ll find anywhere. All through grade school, he made my life miserable.”

“What about middle school?” I asked.

“Lyle may be a bully, but unfortunately, he’s smart,” the boy replied. “We both went to the Sidener Academy. It’s a second through eighth grade city school for high achievers, located over in Glendale.” Again, little Will blushed. He was adorable when he blushed. I was falling for this boy, and falling hard.

“Ordinarily, I’d say he’d probably leave you alone,” Will continued, “but if nothing else, he’s homophobic. With the purple hair and your rainbow shirt, he’ll make you a prime target. You need to watch your back, Will Two. Don’t let Lyle and his cronies catch you alone.”

Changing the subject, I asked, “So you’ve decided to call me Will Two?”

“Well, you can’t just be Will, because I’m Will. I’m the original Will, I’m Will One, or just plain Will. That makes you Will Two.”

“And what’s with William Williams?” I asked. “I mean, what were your parents thinking?”

“They thought it sounded cute,” Will answered. “Obviously, they never went through being teased in school. ‘Wee Willie Williams, the fairy of Broad Ripple,’” he added in disgust.

Leaning up close so only he would hear, I responded, “Actually, I like Willie.”

“Asshole,” he replied as he punched me in the arm, but then he added, “actually, you can call me Willie if you want. I kind of like it when you call me Willie. Just don’t let anyone else hear you call me that, or it’ll stick with me for another four years. Around other people, just call me Will, and I’ll call you Will Two.

“So you’re saying you like my Willie?” he asked in jest.

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet,” I replied.

“But you’d like too?” he responded.

“That depends,” I answered with a smile and a blush. “If it’s as small as the rest of you…”

“Jerk,” Willie replied. “It may not be eight inches, but it’s big enough, and it expands quite nicely,” he added with an even deeper blush. “I’ll have you know it works as well as anyone’s. Besides, for all I know, yours may be tiny.”

“I’m tall and mine looks just right in proportion to my body,” I countered. “My boyfriend sure never complained.”

“You have a boyfriend?” Willie asked in surprise.

Had a boyfriend,” I answered. “Leaving him behind was hard, but we both agreed that staying together just wouldn’t work. We keep in touch, but we both hope to find new boyfriends in high school. Actually, I think I’ll be thrilled when he does. Josh deserves to be happy.”

“Were you in love with Josh?” Willie asked.

“I used to think I was,” I replied, “but he was my first boyfriend and I think I was more in love with the idea of having a boyfriend than I was with Josh. When you got down to it, we didn’t really have all that much in common, other than that our mothers both worked the same shift at Saint Vincent’s hospital. He doesn’t even talk right,” I added with a smile.”

“You like the way I talk?” Willie asked.

“Perfectly,” I replied.

“So, your mom’s a doctor?” he asked.

Looking indignant, I replied, “Don’t insult me. My mom’s a nurse! And what do your parents do?” I asked.

“My dad’s a pediatrician,” he replied. Oops! “and my mom’s his bookkeeper, she does all the billing and runs his office.”

“If you’re dad’s a doctor, what are you doing living in our neighborhood?” I asked.

“Pediatrics is the lowest paid medical specialty,” he answered. “Your mom probably makes nearly as much as my dad.”

“Oh,” I responded. There wasn’t much else I could say to that.

Then after a longish period of silence, I clarified, “I used to go by Billy, but now that I’m in high school, I don’t feel like going by Billy or even Bill. That’s why I decided to go by Will. It just feels right. But you can call me Billy if you’d like. From you, Billy would be fine.”

“I like Billy,” he responded. “But around others, I’ll call you Will Two.”

“Asshole,” I replied as I punched him in the shoulder.

“Fuck, that hurt!” Willie exclaimed in a whisper. “Remember, I’m smaller than you.”

“I’m sure you are,” I replied in jest.

“Jerk,” he responded.

By now we were pulling up in front of Broad Ripple High and Willie said, “Quick, let’s compare schedules.”

Putting them side-by-side, I noted, “Well, we’re in different homerooms, but we share the same lunch period, thank God. At least neither of us will end up eating alone”

“There are worse things than eating alone, Billy,” Willie responded. “Like sitting down alone, only to have Lyle and his friends sit down and surround you, and torment you all lunch period. And because it was a two through eight school, the tables were long benches like you have in grade school, so there was no possibility of sitting down at a small table. I took to waiting until I saw an empty spot that was already surrounded with kids, and then sitting there so Lyle couldn’t sit down next to me. I spent my lunch periods eating with total strangers, but never making any friends.

“That must have been awful,” I replied as I looked at our schedules. “Hey, we have gym together, just before lunch!” I noted as I wiggled my eyebrows.

“You won’t think there’s anything sexy about me when you see what a klutz I am when it comes to sports.”

Laughing, I responded, “I may look like an athlete, but I’m just not interested in sports. At all! I’m afraid I’m not much to look at in gym class, either.” Continuing to look over our schedules, I added, “Hey, we’re both in pre-calculus together. I guess we’re both pretty smart.”

“And we have drama together, which should be way cool,” Willie noted. “Looks like that’s it, but three classes plus lunch isn’t bad. And we have the same teachers for a lot of the other classes, even though they’re not during the same period, so we can study together.”

“I can totally get into that,” I replied. “And other things,” I added. Damn if he didn’t blush again.

“So you want to go out sometime?” Willie asked in parting. “Broad Ripple Village is within walking distance. There are a lot of sick restaurants and clubs there that are gay-friendly. And we can catch a bus from there to Glendale to catch a movie, or if you’re into it, cruise the mall.”

“Forget the mall,” I replied, but a movie sounds nice.”

“So the faggot got himself a boyfriend,” a deep voice boomed at us from the aisle. We’d obviously stayed on the bus too long and Lyle had caught up with us.

“Yes, the faggot has a boyfriend,” Willie responded. That was news to me – not that I was objecting. “So if you’re wondering, yes, I really am gay, and from now on, I’m out and proud.”

“Nothin’ to be proud of, faggot,” Lyle responded. Then turning to me, he asked, “and what’s your name, faggot?” To think I used to salivate over this guy!

Rather than play his game, I stood up – way up, and looked down into his face. Lyle was tall for fourteen, but I still had a good three or four inches on him. “I may be gay, but I’m not a faggot. Call me that again and you’ll be picking your teeth up off the floor. Same goes for you if Will tells me you’ve been picking on him, too.

“My name’s Will too, as it turns out. Remember that name, as we’re going to be the kids that stand up to you. I know your kind. You’re nothing but a gift-wrapped turd. You’ve got a buff bod, and you wrap yourself in designer clothes, but they can’t cover up the fact that you stink on the inside.”

“I’ll get you for that, faggot,” he practically shouted in my face.

“Not if I get you first, bully,” I replied. “The trouble with bullies is that they’re nothing without their cronies in tow. Unlike most of your victims, I can fight. You’d just better pray I don’t catch you alone in the boys’ room someday.”

“Likewise, faggot. You’d better hope I don’t find you alone, or you’ll be history. They’ll never find the body, Will Two.” And then he huffed and stormed off the bus. It was too bad no one else was on the bus to hear it, except the bus driver, who remained silent throughout our exchange.

I could go into the details, but the next two months were life changing for both me and for Willie. It turned out that his parents weren’t around most afternoons and evenings either. Such is the life of the medical professional. But that meant Willie and I were on our own. We studied together, we prepared dinner and ate together. He’d decided to become a vegetarian too, so we both learned how to prepare delicious, nutritious meals that didn’t contain any meat – dishes such as eggplant Oscar, vegetable Wellington, calamari pot pie and salmon divan.

We also made love together. Our thirst for each other was unstoppable. Josh and I had had plenty of experience fooling around, but it was just fooling around. With Willie it was different. There was an intimacy between us that I’d never known could exist. Our parents for their part were aware of our intimacy and seemed to be accepting of it. They knew we were having sex, but they knew we desperately needed each other’s companionship and love. Of course we got ‘The Talk’ and an ample supply of condoms, but we didn’t feel the need to use them. Yes, we were going all the way on a regular basis, but there was little doubt in either of our minds that we were in it for the long haul. We might be young, but we’d found our soul mate and we were in it for life.

At school, Willie and I fit right into the lifestyle of a school for the arts and humanities, as might have been expected. We’d both signed up for drama and landed parts in the first play of the season, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, which was pretty amazing considering it was a five-person play. In extracurricular activities, Willie joined the chess club and I tried out for and made the junior varsity swim team. It was the first time I’d ever tried out for a sport of any kind. I still didn’t think of myself as an athlete and no one was more surprised than I when I made the team. I knew I was a fast swimmer, but fewer than a quarter of those who tried out made the cut.

We also joined the GSA and were quickly drawn into the organization, earning the combined nickname, “Will-squared.” We made many friends through the club, both gay and straight, but became fast friends with a couple of sophomores, Ricky, who was white, and Ty, who was black. They were boyfriends and lived in a mansion over on North Meridian Street that was being turned into a Bed and Breakfast. Rejected by their own families, they were being fostered by the couple that owned the mansion, which was pretty cool. Ty was only thirteen like I was, but had skipped a grade because he was a genius. We double dated with them, just about every weekend. Much as I enjoyed my time with Willie, it was fun being together with another pair of gay teens. They were the only other kids we let call us Willie and Billy.

Unfortunately, not everything was perfect in our little paradise. Lyle was a constant fly in the ointment, and sometimes much worse. There was the occasional shove from behind, the trip in the cafeteria and graffiti on our lockers. Then there was the urine in our lockers, dog shit in my book bag and Willie’s stolen iPhone, found later dumped in a boys’ room urinal. Because Lyle lived across the street from me, the misery didn’t stop at school. Mowing the lawn turned into a constant search for stones and other debris – otherwise I’d be faced with damaged lawn mower blades, broken windows and serious physical injury.

I knew it was only a matter of time before Willie or I found ourselves alone in one of the boys’ rooms, faced by Lyle and his cronies. Unfortunately, my talk of being able to fight was purely a bluff. I’d never been athletic and had managed to avoid fighting all my life, largely thanks to friends who stood up for me. Willie had not been so lucky. More than once he’d been at the end of Lyle’s fists and suffered a black eye or a split lip. Some bullies are all talk and will run at the first sign of a real fight, but not Lyle. There was little question that he intended to get even with us, and he meant business.

We were lucky and managed to avoid a direct encounter with Lyle for over a month. Our luck changed abruptly on October 8. It was a Wednesday and I had a pre-season swim meet up in Carmel. Willie would’ve traveled with us to cheer us on, but the chess team had a home meet with the team from Short Ridge High School. Our junior varsity swim team clobbered our rival at Carmel High, so naturally we went out for pizza afterwards at Keystone Crossing. We didn’t get back to Broad Ripple until after 8:00, and when my calls to Willie went straight to voice mail and my texts went unanswered, I didn’t really think anything of it. I just figured he was exhausted from his chess meet. I didn’t become concerned until the next day, when he wasn’t at the bus stop, but then neither was Lyle. It wasn’t until I got to school that I found out why.

It seemed Willie’s chess meet had gone very well and he’d won all his matches – no surprise there – and helped to lead the team to a resounding victory over Short Ridge. Unfortunately, Willie wasn’t the only one at the high school with a meet that afternoon. Lyle was on the freshman football team and had had a game with our nearby suburban rival, North Central. We were trounced by North Central, no thanks in part to an interception of one of Lyle’s first quarter passes, and to Lyle’s fourth quarter fumble. Needless to say, Lyle was already in a foul mood when he ran into Willie, alone in an out-of-the-way restroom. Lyle didn’t have any of his cronies with him, but he didn’t need them.

Willie did his best to fight back, but he was no match for Lyle, who proceeded to pummel the smaller boy senseless. It’s doubtful he would have stopped there, had it not been for the sound of someone on their cell phone outside the restroom door. With the risk of being caught and the near certainty of expulsion, Lyle did the sensible thing and quietly left the restroom, but not before threatening Willie with far worse to come if he ever told anyone who’d beaten him up.

Willie of course called his parents as soon as he was certain Lyle wasn’t coming back, and his dad wasted no time in arranging for an ambulance to take him to the Emergency Department at Saint Vincent’s Hospital. In addition to two black eyes, a split lip and numerous bruises all over his body, Willie had three cracked ribs, a sprained wrist and a concussion. Even though his parents kept him out of school on Wednesday, word was all over the school that he’d been savagely beaten. Everyone assumed it was Lyle, which was why Lyle had skipped school for the day, but that didn’t stop the rumors. For his part, Willie refused to name his attacker, even when I came by that afternoon.

“What would be the point, Billy?” he explained. “Even if Lyle’s expelled and sent to the alternative high school, he still lives across the street from you and a few houses down from me. You know what he’s like. If I tell, he won’t let it drop until he gets even. He’ll kill me Billy, and he’ll be sure to cover his tracks well enough that they’ll never be able to pin it on him. You know I’m not exaggerating. You know that I’m right!”

Truthfully, I did know, but we couldn’t let Lyle get away with it. If we didn’t do something, he’d continue to torment us for the next four years, and the next time could end up far worse. The one certainty was that there would be a next time.

One of the things we did do was to look into self-defense classes. Ricky and Ty were taking instruction in Karate at a dojo in The Village and urged us to sign up there. With a lot of encouragement from me, Willie came around to thinking it was a good idea, but his injuries would keep him from participating fully until after Halloween.

Although being able to defend ourselves would go a long way toward making us less of a target, it wouldn’t be enough to stop Lyle. He was vindictive and even if he couldn’t beat us directly, he’d find a way to get back at us. And there was still the risk of one of us being caught alone when Lyle had a bunch of his cronies with him. We needed to find a way to crush Lyle – to utterly humiliate him publically and destroy his reputation. Only by emasculating him – by instilling utter fear of total rejection by his peers – would we ever be safe from his retribution. The trouble was, none of us had any idea how we could do that. On-line threats might scare some, but Lyle would just turn them around and use them against us.

It was with these thoughts in mind that Willie and I attended a GSA meeting a week later, on October 15. Willie’s bruises were slowly fading, but he still walked with a limp and clearly was having pain with breathing. Because he had to take a make-up test that day, and because I didn’t want to leave him alone, just in case, we were a half-hour late in getting there and arrived after the meeting was already in progress.

“Hey Will-squared,” Ricky greeted us as we sat down next to him and Ty.

“Hi,” Willie and I replied, and then I asked, “Have we missed much?”

“Nah,” Ricky replied. “They’re talking about having a Halloween dance, but no one can agree on a date. Of course if they do plan something, we’ll go, but Ty and I were thinking of having a party the night after Halloween, just for our closest friends.”

“I kinda hope they don’t do anything,” Ty chimed in, “especially on Halloween itself. I may be in high school now, but I’d still like to go trick-or-treating.”

“You don’t think we’re too old?” I asked. “You know Halloween’s our birthdays… both Willie’s and mine. We’ll both be fourteen.”

“I’ll be fourteen next month myself,” Ty admitted, “but that still doesn’t mean I don’t like dressing up and getting my share of candy.”

“I forgot you guys both have birthdays on Halloween,” Ricky said. “We should do something special, like go out trick-or-treating, then maybe have a sleep-over afterwards, and the party on Saturday could be a combined Halloween and birthday party.”

“My mom usually stays home on Halloween and bakes me a home-made carrot cake,” I responded. “I was looking forward to sharing it with Willie this year. Actually, I was hoping to invite you guys, too. We usually have a little party with my closest friends after we get back from getting our candy.”

“No reason we couldn’t still do that,” Ricky suggested. “Then after that we could have our sleepover. We could do that at your house, but the rents are planning to have a haunted house for the neighborhood kids this year. Next year they’ll prolly be tied up running the B&B, so this may be the last year they can do something like this. Ty and I would kinda like to help out with it.”

“Guys, a haunted mansion sounds like way more fun than trick-or-treating, don’t you think?” Willie countered. “We can still go back to Billy’s for the carrot cake afterwards, but think of how much fun we could have scaring all the little kids. It’d be way more fun than going house-to-house, getting candy we shouldn’t be eating in the first place. After all, Billie and I didn’t become vegetarians, just to fill up on sugar. A lot of candy contains gelatin, you know. Gelatin comes from animal skin. Yuck!”

“You know, I think Willie’s right,” I agreed. “Helping your rents run a haunted mansion would be a lot more fun than trick-or-treating. We could dress up in really scary costumes… maybe as teenage zombies… and scare the hell out of the neighborhood kids. And we can give out candy and still get a share for ourselves. Something healthy like Reeses peanut butter cups.”

“What the fuck’s healthy about Reeses peanut butter cups?” Ricky asked.

“They’re made with peanut butter, obviously,” I answered. “Peanut butter’s loaded with protein and healthy fats, and the chocolate’s full of antioxidants. And of course they don’t contain any gelatin.”

“Well when you put it that way,” Ty responded.

After a few minutes of listening to the GSA officers drone on and on without coming to a conclusion on whether or not to have a Halloween dance, and contemplating our Halloween plans, Willie said, “You know, guys, I just thought about a way we might be able to get even with Lyle, once and for all…”

<–><–> <–>

“You’re not supposed to laugh, doofus,” Willie admonished me, but I couldn’t help myself. We’d spent the last couple of hours helping each other dress up as realistic-looking zombies. After all, it takes a lot of work to look undead. We even sprayed ourselves with fetid-scented cologne so we’d smell the way any fashionable corpse should. Just as important, however, is acting the part and that’s where Willie needed a little help.

“When you’re barely five feet nothing and have a voice more befitting a chipmunk than a monster, walking with a hunchback and emitting what I think was supposed to be a roar just doesn’t cut it,” I explained. “you’re supposed to scare the kids half to death, not make them want to hug you.”

“Oh come on,” my boyfriend countered. “I wasn’t that bad.”

“Oh yes you were,” Ty agreed with me.

“Look, Willie, you’re short,” Ricky chimed in. “Short and young-looking. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but what makes you adorable to Billy makes you look pretty harmless. The last thing you want to do is to hunch over. Instead of making you look scary or intimidating, it just makes you look shorter and kinda silly.”

“But maybe you can take advantage of your size,” I suggested. “A pit-bull may be short and squat, but every bit as intimidating as a German Shepherd or a Doberman when they’re after you. Because you’re more at eye level with the kids, you can get in their face in a way we can’t. You can sneak up on them when they least expect it. While they’re trying to get away from Ricky and me, you can blindside them from one side while Ty freaks them out from the other.”

“And instead of a roar, you should try for a blood-curdling scream,” Ricky added.

“You mean like this?” Willie asked before letting out the most piercing, non-human-sounding scream I’d ever heard. He sounded like a mortally wounded animal, venting a lifetime of rage with its last breath. It almost made me think my boyfriend had been possessed, even though I knew better.

Ty, with his famously dry sense of humor, merely said, “Yes, that should be sufficient.”

We spent the next hour practicing our best zomboid moves, preparing to scare kids, big and small, in large groups and alone. We all agreed that little kids would be treated gently, with care. Middle school-age kids would get the full treatment and any high school-age kids who were brave enough to enter our lair would experience true fear beyond their wildest imagination.

Renovations to make Ricky and Ty’s home into a bed and breakfast were in full swing. The kitchen had already been completely remodeled and was as modern and beautiful as any could be. All the appliances were new and upgraded to handle large groups if necessary. The maid’s quarters had also been remodeled and was now Ricky and Ty’s suite, with its own dining area, entertainment area and study area, as well as a separate bedroom and an en-suite bathroom. It was a teenager’s paradise, and totally cool.

The rest of the first floor of the mansion was in the process of being gutted, including the entry foyer, living room, dining room, library and den. There were bare walls with exposed plaster, partially torn out walls, bare unfinished hardwood floors and windows without curtains, all lit by bare bulbs, giving the whole area an unnatural appearance. Since the walls were all going to be wallpapered anyway, we spray-painted them all flat black, and we blacked-out most of the windows to make it even darker inside. Strategically placed, well-hidden speakers were connected to a computerized sound system of Ty’s design, playing an endless stream of random creaks, moans and screams that would scare anyone. Animated props adorned every corner of every room, with coffins that opened themselves with skeletons inside, witches that seemed to appear out of nowhere, and four real live teenage zombies ready to pop out when least expected.

Ricky and Ty’s foster parents did a fantastic job of decorating the outside too, with special lighting, sounds and animated props. Apparently, the old lady who was the previous owner did something similar to this every year, bringing in kids from all over and not just from the neighborhood. There had been nothing, however, for the past few years, during which she lived out the rest of her life up in Carmel in a nursing home. Now, her niece and her nieces husband, Ricky and Ty’s foster parents, were reviving the tradition of a first-class haunted mansion, and the turnout was expected to be huge.

Even as we were eating a quick dinner, the doorbell started ringing, forcing us to scarf down the last of our meal and get into position. From our vantage point, hidden away in the library, we heard the door open and a few very young voices shouted, “Trick or Treat!”

“Welcome to Meridian Manour,” said Ty and Ricky’s foster dad, Rick, in a very rich, low baritone voice. “You shall have your treat, but not before you are our guest in the haunted mansion. Yes, the resident ghosts must meet you first before they’ll let you leave with your candy.”

The kids actually giggled. We were working so hard to be scary, and they thought it was funny!

“Come with me, my dears,” said Ty and Ricky’s foster mom, Barbara, who was dressed up as a very realistic-looking witch. She led them past the self-opening coffin and the pop-out witch. Even though the kids were still laughing, the occasional scream showed tension in their voices, and just a trace of fear. When they rounded the corner and entered the library, suddenly they came face-to-face with Ricky and me, who towered over them as we moaned and walked toward them using a stiff-legged gait. If they hadn’t been with their parents, who seemed more amused than frightened, they might well have peed themselves in their fright.

The kids quickly backed away from us, and then turned, only to come face-to-face with Ty, causing them to turn again, only to face Willie, who let out a very realistic scream. It wasn’t as over-the-top as what he’d have used with teenagers, but it was enough to cause the kids to rush back toward the door, where Rick was ushering in the second group of kids while preparing to greet yet a third group. As busy as he was, Rick took a moment to remind the first group of the treat that awaited them. On a table behind the entryway was a large box filled with plastic bags of cookies, home baked by Barbara. Each bag contained three huge chocolate chip cookies – a very generous Halloween treat by anyone’s standard.

As the evening wore on and the sky turned dark, the kids became progressively older and our tactics scarier. By 9:00, when most people were flipping off their porch lights and packing it in for the night, our haunted mansion was still going strong with a long line of kids waiting to get inside. When it was apparent that all our ‘Trick-or-treaters’ were teenagers, and mostly boys, I got out our most gruesome prop – a very lifelike human head. The head was meant to look like it had been removed very recently from a teenage boy. The skin was very lifelike – for that of a dead boy, that is – with an ashen appearance and very realistic neck bones and muscles sticking out the severed end. The skull on top was open with a jagged edge made to look like it had been bashed in. Inside were glistening, pink, partially-eaten brains, or so it appeared. Fake blood smeared all around my mouth completed the picture. The prop rented for several hundred dollars. The prop was admittedly in very poor taste, which was undoubtedly why everyone loved it.

In deference to the neighbors, we started shutting down the outside props at 10:00, but there was still a long line of kids waiting to get in. I guess the word had gotten around that our haunted mansion was the best thing going in town. We shut down must of the outside lights too, but so long as the line kept moving, people stayed. Barbara had to go into hyperdrive to keep up with the demand for her cookies, churning out batch after batch of them. Ricky, Ty, Willie and I had to modify our routine to deal with a continuous stream of kids coming through. It was a good thing we had the fake head, or it wouldn’t have been nearly so scary.

When it got to be 11:00 and there was still a long line that was growing, we gave everyone who was in line at the time a hand-numbered business card from Barbara and Rick. That way we could keep track of who was in line at the time and cut things off after they had all gotten through. We reasoned that anyone who wasn’t in line by 11:00 couldn’t expect to get in, although Barbara did bake sufficient batches of extra cookies, so they wouldn’t go away empty-handed.

It was nearly midnight when the last numbered card was presented. After that we just gave everyone remaining a bag of cookies and told them to come back next year. It would be much more difficult to stage a haunted house, once the B&B opened, but we’d have to find a way. The event was way too popular not to repeat every year, and I suspect Rick and Barbara would be able to charge premium rates for rooms on Halloween as a result.

Our first priority after closing up shop, however, was to get out of costume! It took hours to remove all the makeup and to scrub the scent of eau de corpse out of our hair and from our skin. At least it was fun to do it with our boyfriends. The plan had been to have a slumber party in Ricky and Ty’s suite afterwards, but we were utterly spent from all the work of running the haunted mansion. We ended up just crashing, and slept until noon the next day. It was only after we got up and started getting things ready for Willie’s and my birthday party that it dawned on us – yesterday we’d both turned fourteen. Cool.

But we had a big day ahead of us, and no time to think about such things for now. Today was the day we were having our fourteenth birthday party, and we were having it at Ricky and Ty’s place, taking full advantage of the haunted mansion. My mom was baking her usual home-made carrot cake for my birthday party. She really appreciated it when I suggested she not take off from work this year, since it was a new job and all. It worked out much better having it ready for the party at Ricky and Ty’s anyway.

Tonight was also the night we were going to take care of Lyle, once and for all. If everything worked out as planned, we were going to humiliate him. He’d never dare show his face anywhere near us again, but a lot of thought had gone into our plans and there was so much that could go wrong. I could only hope that Murphy’s Law was taking a vacation until the next major holiday, Thanksgiving, leaving us to carry out our subterfuge unimpeded.

After another set of showers, we all feasted on a wonderful brunch of lox, bagels and smoked whitefish. “I’d love to take credit for it,” Barbara said, “but I got it all from Shapiro’s downtown.”

After that, it was time to get down to work. After all, it took two hours, just to put on our makeup and get into costume. We barely had time to get everything ready before the guests started arriving at 5:00. Officially the party was to begin at 7:00, but we’d secretly let all our friends know to arrive early for dinner, the gift exchange and dessert, with dancing afterwards when the official party began. Having our friends come early for dinner at least gave us a couple of hours to enjoy ourselves before Lyle showed up with his cronies. And Lyle definitely would show up. We’d been careful to be sure to invite our friends within earshot of Lyle, and there was no way he’d miss an opportunity to crash our party. What better way to get back at Willie and me than to ruin our birthdays?

Dinner was truly amazing, as Barbara served us course after course of a meal that rivaled anything we could’ve gotten in New York. We exchanged gifts before the dessert was served, and Mom got me a brand new iPhone 6 Plus – holy fuck! I thought those suckers were sold out for months in advance. Willie and I got each other matching silver friendship rings – sappy, I know, but so totally appropriate. Our friends got us a variety of things – video games, iTunes gift cards and the like.

Finally, it was time for the birthday cake and mom brought out her world-famous carrot cake, my absolute favorite. It turned out it was Willie’s favorite too. The cake was labeled, ‘Happy Birthday Will2’ and on top were two sets of fourteen candles, so we could each have our own candles to blow out. And after the mandatory, horrendous singing of ‘Happy Birthday’, we did just that.

“Man, this is the best cake I’ve ever tasted!” exclaimed our friend, Bret, after he’d taken his first bite.

“It tastes like cheesecake,” added Tonya. “Carrot cheesecake.”

“You know, I had something similar to this at Junior’s in New York,” Barbara commented.

“Where do you think I got the idea?” Mom replied. “I’ve never been to New York, but I read about it in a review online and knew it was something I could make. It’s really quite simple if you’re an experienced baker. It’s just carrot cake layered with New York style cheesecake instead of frosting.”

“Junior’s has a well-deserved reputation for the best cheesecake in New York City,” Barbara went on, “and I ought to know, having lived much of my life in the city and in New Jersey.” Then turning to Mom, she continued, “Your cheesecake is easily the equal of Junior’s, but really your carrot cake beats theirs hands down. This is easily the best carrot cake I’ve ever had and I want the recipe.”

“It’ll cost you,” Mom replied with a smile and I knew she was serious.

“Name your price,” Barbara responded.

“The recipes for your chocolate chip cookies, your oatmeal cookies, your peanut butter cookies, your white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and your double chocolate fudge cookies,” Mom rattled off without a moment’s hesitation. “Will brought some home with him and they’re easily the best I’ve ever tasted.”

“You sure you don’t want the recipes for my shortbread cookies, my shoe-fly molasses cookies and my sugar cookies too?” Barbara asked.

“Absolutely,” Mom replied. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”

“Don’t you know you’re supposed to negotiate the terms down, not up?” Rick asked his wife with a laugh, and then we all laughed.

“All right, let’s have some dancing!” Willie exclaimed.

“Sounds good to me,” Ty agreed. Up until now, we’d been eating and celebrating in the kitchen, which was newly remodeled and modern. The dancing was to be in the unfinished part of the mansion, in the living room, which was still decorated for Halloween and ‘haunted’, complete with animated props. Willie, Ty, Ricky and I were dressed up as zombies, and everyone else was in costume as well, so the setting was appropriate.

Ty cued up a playlist from his computer, and soon Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself to Dance was blasting out the speakers on all sides. I wasted no time in taking Willie’s hand and leading him onto the ‘dance floor’. Soon we were all gyrating to the music, refueling as necessary with Barbara’s wonderful cookies and blood red punch that was nothing more than tomato juice over ice. It was an amazing evening, right up until the doorbell rang. Ty wasted no time in turning off all the animated props, scary lighting and sound effects, as we’d need them later.

Not surprisingly, I opened the door to find Lyle with his cronies in tow, all dressed in jeans and T-shirts, rather than in costume. “Out of the way, Will Two,” said Lyle as he muscled his way inside. “As of now, this party is ours.” His cronies followed him inside as they made their way to the dining room, where all the goodies were laid out. They each grabbed a bunch of the cookies, leaving almost none for the rest of us.

Seeing two punchbowls, both containing an opaque, dark red liquid and ice cubes, he asked, “All right, which one’s spiked?”

“You know very well that we’re not allowed to have alcohol at our age,” I replied.

“But which one’s the bowl you guys spiked?” he asked again, this time nearly in a whisper. This question was the one we were counting on.

“We’re all drinking from the one on the right,” I replied in a whisper, with a smirk. I was being absolutely truthful, which I assumed meant Lyle would assume I was lying and that we were imbibing from the left punchbowl. What he didn’t know was that we were all being good and sticking to the non-alcoholic stuff, and that the left punchbowl was indeed the one that was spiked. We were all avoiding the left punchbowl too for another reason – it was spiked with pure alcohol.

A Bottle of Absolute Ethyl Alcohol

Because none of us could purchase alcohol legally, we turned to one of the senior students in the GSA, who was taking advanced chemistry at Butler University for dual credit. With a little help from one of his professors, he was able to procure for us a gallon of absolute ethanol. There were rumors that a blowjob may have been involved, but we weren’t about to ask.

Absolute or anhydrous ethanol is 99.9% alcohol, or 200 proof. It’s as close to pure ethyl alcohol as possible, and completely odorless and tasteless. By mixing that gallon of absolute ethanol with a gallon of V8 vegetable juice and adding red food coloring, a pound of sugar and two quarts of ice, we created a blood-red ‘punch’ that was at least 80 proof! The regular punch the rest of us were drinking consisted of nothing but ordinary tomato juice and ice.

Because of the strong taste of the vegetable juice and the tastelessness of the ethanol, however, although Lyle and his friends would know the punch was spiked, they’d have no clue as to just how strong it really was. Drinking just two eight-ounce servings would be the equivalent of chugging a six-pack of beer. There were forty eight-ounce servings in the spiked punchbowl – enough to get Lyle and his friends solidly drunk. There was no telling what Lyle might do when thoroughly intoxicated but, whatever it was, it would be all over Facebook before the weekend was out, for all our classmates to see. Strategically placed throughout were hidden cameras with infrared strobe lights that could capture all of the action, even in pitch darkness.

We all went back to dancing as Lyle and his crew hurled insults at us, trying to be as disruptive as they could. They were trying to ruin our party, while we were trying to ruin theirs. As expected, it didn’t take long for Lyle to notice Ethyl and to start making his moves on her… except that she was really a he. Eddie, as we knew him, was effeminate to begin with, but he was a knock-out dressed in drag. Between Ethyl the teenage drag queen and Ethyl in the punch bowl, Lyle was going down tonight and everyone would know it.

Patiently we waited for Lyle and his cronies to drain their special punchbowl, but they didn’t even finish of half of it. When it was pretty evident they were all thoroughly inebriated, we put into play the second act of our plan to destroy Lyle.

One of our friends, Carl, was dressed as a pirate, complete with an eye patch and a large earing. At the appointed time, Carl asked rather loudly where the bathroom was. I kindly offered to show him myself, and then led him to Ricky and Ty’s suite. Once behind closed doors, while Carl transferred his eye patch and earing to the lifelike human head prop, I applied generous amounts of fake blood to my face and mouth. Before I returned to the party, Carl let out a high-pitched, blood-curdling scream. Then I walked back into the living room in my stiff-legged, zombie walk, let out a deep, bellowing roar as I bared my teeth and carried what for all the world looked like Carl’s disembodied head.

I thought at best it was a mediocre performance, but Lyle totally freaked and clung to Ethyl for dear life… except that now it was clearly Eddie he was clinging to. Eddie was wearing a drag costume with a break-away top. While Lyle had been distracted by my entrance with Carl’s disembodied head, Ty had quickly removed Eddie's top, falsies and all. The result was that Lyle was now clinging to a bare-chested boy, and we’d caught it all on video.

But before Lyle had a chance to notice, using a remote control hidden in his pocket, Ty activated the pop-out witch, which was situated right next to where Lyle was clinging to Eddie. Suddenly a hideous-looking green-skinned witch leapt out from its hiding place as it emitted a hair-raising scream. Lyle practically jumped out of his skin as he let out a shriek. The spreading wetness in his jeans and formation of a yellow puddle on the floor let everyone know he’d lost control of his bladder, thanks in large part to all the alcohol he’d drunk.

Ricky lost no time in pointing out, “Hey look, Lyle pissed his pants. He actually pissed his pants.”

“What’s the matter, Lyle?” my boyfriend asked. “Are you afraid of a fake head and a Walt Disney witch?”

“Why you fuckin’ sonofa bitch!” screamed Lyle as he lunged at Willie, but Willie was no longer standing where he’d been and Lyle, in his inebriated state, fell flat on his face. Willie and I had only had time to pick up some basics from the Karate classes we were attending with Ricky and Ty, but it was enough to keep Lyle and his cronies off balance.

Soon we had them all flat on their backs and screaming for their lives – even Lyle – as we acted as proper teenage zombies intent on eating their brains. However, all too soon, the gig was up when we all broke into uproarious laughter. Lyle and his posse quickly left, but not before Lyle threatened to make us all rue the day we were born.

But Lyle never got his chance. Tyler spent the rest of the night editing and splicing together the recordings from all of the hidden cameras and microphones. By Sunday morning the footage was all over Facebook and by school on Monday, it was all anyone was talking about.

Lyle and his cronies never set foot in Broad Ripple High School again and only later did we find that they’d all transferred to Short Ridge. Even so, the Halloween videos on Facebook followed them wherever they went. I feared Willie and I might still be the object of Lyle’s reprisals, since he lived in our neighborhood, but that fear evaporated with the appearance of a For Sale sign on their front lawn.

By the spring there was a new family living across from us – a husband and wife and two small children, not yet old enough to be in school. Soon Willie and I were picking up a little extra cash by babysitting for them. The two of us were upfront about our sexuality from the beginning. Fortunately, they had absolutely no problem with letting a couple of gay teens care for their children. They never once considered that we might be sexual predators. Attitudes were changing and It felt great to be accepted.

Before we knew it, it was summer and school was out. All our friends, who were fifteen, were spending their summer in Driver’s Ed, but at fourteen, Willie and I weren’t old enough and couldn’t take it until next summer. Ricky and Ty spent much of their time helping their foster parents get the B&B ready to accept their first guests.

Still, Willie and I found plenty to do to keep ourselves occupied.

The subjects in this story admit to practicing unprotected anal sex because they believe they are soul mates and in their relationship for life. Many adults have difficulties remaining faithful, let alone hormonally-infused teenage boys. Above all else, please be safe.

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope in editing my stories, as well as Awesome Dude for hosting them.

Disclaimer: This story is a fictional account involving gay teenage boys. There are references to gay sex and mild descriptions of sexual acts, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. The reader takes all responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The author retains full copyright.