There was silence from the other side of the picnic table. David glanced at Jackson and smiled.
Jackson looked straight at the boys and said, “You’ve got to know going in where you are publicly. If you don’t, you’re likely to make a mistake. We’re not telling you what you should do, but I will say this. Jerrod, you only recently sorted some major stuff out in your life, to your credit. On top of that, you are one of the luckiest dudes on the planet because you also came out of this summer with a top-notch boyfriend.”
He looked at Roger and said, “The same applies to you, you became a terrific friend to Jerrod, and you came out of this summer with a top-notch boyfriend.”
Jackson waited a few seconds for that to sink in, then continued. “That said, here’s what I can tell you I know, and that is that Roger has known he’s gay for quite a while, but I don’t know if he’s out at school. Jerrod only recently got in touch with being gay, and he wasn’t out at school last year. You’ve got to think about this going in so that you both agree about how you’re going to handle it and why. If you do that, then you’re on the same page and the odds are there will be no surprises and no missteps.”
The silence from the boy’s side of the table continued for what seemed like minutes, but actually was less than thirty seconds, and then Jerrod said, “How come I didn’t think about that. Am I a total dumb ass, or what?”
David jumped right in. “No Jerrod, you’re not a dumb ass. Neither of you are. If we read the tea leaves right, you’re both in love. So, you’re thinking about each other in the now. The difference is that Jackson actually lived through this, even if it was twenty years ago, and we’ve had to talk to lots of kids about it, and that includes ones who worked it out in advance and those who didn’t and then had to spend a lot of time picking up the pieces and putting it back together.”
Jackson extended an arm across the table, palm up. It didn’t take long before Jerrod and Roger both placed one of their hands on his. “This is just planning ahead, that’s all. Figure out what you want to do and how you’re going to do it before you get there. We wouldn’t be talking about this stuff, you know, if we didn’t love you both so much!”
The boys were quiet, the implications beginning to set in.
David said to them, “Listen, it’s not that hard, and it’s not the end of the world either. Let me tell you a little story about what happened to us. After we’d fallen in love, and I was the minister of that church in Newberg and Jackson was still a senior in high school, and under-age, we were fortunate to develop very close friendships with two ladies. One was Jackson’s music teacher and choir director, and she also directed the choir at church, so we got to know each other quite well. The other was a Registered Nurse and a real pro. Like I said, we all became close friends, and here’s the point. Because of their professions they were both mandatory reporters. That is, they were obligated under law to report to the authorities any sexual abuse or violations they learned of. They had encouraged our friendship, but one week out of the blue they invited us to their home for dinner, and at the end of the evening they had ‘the talk’ with us. They asked if there was more to our relationship than meets the eye. We were both blown away, and Jackson said he almost threw up, because we both figured we’d been busted, and it was over. But what happened was they immediately told us they didn’t want us to answer the question they’d asked us. They didn’t want to know. In fact, they said they could not know, because if they did know they’d have to report us.”
David stopped and the boys were looking at him in disbelief.
“True story, including the part about thinking I was going to throw up,” Jackson said. “But here’s the deal. We thought we were working so hard at the mechanics of hiding our relationship, making sure no one knew, all that stuff. But we forgot one little detail. We were in love, and that’s what they saw. That’s what they understood that we were clueless about. The fact is that when you love someone, you tend to show it. So that’s what we’re trying to tell you that you have to think about and plan for.”
Jerrod and Roger glanced at each other and their faces were somber.
“This is not like being in jail or something,” David added, “we’re just letting you know that you have to decide how much of your relationship you’re going to show the world and have a plan on how you’re going to operate.”
Jerrod said, “Thanks, Uncle David. I can see how this could totally have turned into a train wreck if you hadn’t rung our bell about it.”
Roger added, “Good plan. We’ll talk about it and figure out what to do. Eric and Kim are out and both in the Gay Straight Alliance, and everyone knows they’re together, but our situation is different with Jerrod transferring in from Philly and what he sorted out this summer.”
Together they cleared the table and washed the dishes, and then Jerrod said, “Can I ask all of you if it’s okay if we talk about the out or not stuff together?”
He looked at Roger who said, “Cool with me,” and Jackson spoke for both of them when he said, “Sure, we’d be honored.”
They settled in the living room and Jackson asked if they were up for another classic ‘80s album. They both nodded and he said, “You probably don’t know Bruce Hornsby and The Range, but I’ll bet you’ll recognize his biggest hit song when it plays.”
He cued up the album and as he sat on the couch next to David, said, “Where do we start?”
Jerrod looked at them all and slowly said, “You know what I went through this summer, and how fucked up some of the stuff I did last year was. I got through it and am back here because of you guys, but I just, I don’t know… I’m nervous. I just don’t want to screw it up again.”
Roger pulled Jerrod close in a hug, asking softly, “How do you mean screw it up again?”
“Well, all the acting out I was doing was because I was denying I was gay. I’m never going to deny it again. But I feel like I still haven’t worked it all out ‘cause I left school in Philly last year with all that shit hanging over my head, and now I’m starting school again, but here, and there’s just so much that’s unresolved, or, I don’t know… maybe I don’t know what I’m trying to say.”
“Jerrod, I think what you’re trying to talk about is what’s called closure,” David said softly. “In psychology it usually refers to no longer feeling emotional attachment or pain about a relationship or change of events. You’ve had both, but the termination happened out here, not in Philly. You haven’t seen or talked to the other fraternity brothers that were involved in the initiation stuff, or the breaking and entering. You haven’t seen that other frat brother to resolve or end the relationship you were in for a while. It all just ended while you came out here, and now that you’re going to finish high school out here, there almost certainly won’t be the typical closure to all that stuff. It’s more like you got whisked away, but all the feelings and emotions are still there. Is it something like that?”
Jerrod’s face was flushing, and he could feel himself getting emotional and he nodded, softly saying “Yes.” He was chewing his lower lip and looking at the floor, even though Roger had his arm around his shoulder.
“Jerrod.” David stopped, waiting for Jerrod to look up.
“I’m doing it again, aren’t I?”
“You are, but it’s okay. This is heavy stuff. I will say this to you. You are perceptive enough to recognize that there’s some stuff here that remains unresolved. The fact is that unless you choose to go back to Philly and meet with all those frat brothers, there isn’t going to be closure to that part. You’re really lucky you got closure with the man who’s house you broke in to. I’ll say to you that that may be the most important one. The rest of it was frat brothers doing crazy stuff that you got involved in, and the relationship with the other brother turned out to not be a relationship at all, right? You may have gotten each other off, but otherwise it was a one-way deal, and he was willing to deny it and drop you when the chips were down. There are some things in life about which we just can’t get closure. I was never close to my parents, though like everyone else I wanted to be. The first year Jackson and I were together they both died in a car accident. Guess what? No closure. It wasn’t possible because they were dead.”
Jerrod was quiet, processing.
“So, you’re telling me it’s all in my head?”
“No. I’m telling you that some things in life can’t get resolved, that sometimes we can’t achieve the kind of perfect closure we’d like to have—but the emotions are real and still there. When that’s the case, then we have to accept the fact, reconcile ourselves to it and move on. That’s all we can do.”
“That makes sense.”
“We all have our share of this stuff, Jerrod,” Jackson said. “I went through it with my step-dad. He was pretty much an asshole, but one day he was there, the next he was gone and in jail. Will and I went through it with Will’s first boyfriend who committed suicide. Closure isn’t possible when someone suddenly dies. You just have to reconcile yourself to the reality. It may be painful, but that’s the deal, and it usually works out.”
Roger had remained quiet, listening intently but not saying anything. He squeezed Jerrod’s shoulders and Jerrod snapped out of his introspection and looked at his boyfriend. “Sorry, I guess I got caught up in my stuff.”
“Jerrod, no worries. Your stuff is my stuff as long as we’re together. Everything David and Jackson just said made perfect sense to me, and it may be that you’re still a little too close to it to sort it out. Does that make sense to you?”
Jerrod thought a bit and then nodded his head. “Yeah, probably. Once I got my shit sorted out this summer, and then we got together, I didn’t have to deal with any of that stuff back there…well except for flying home to meet the homeowner…but I already knew how that was going down. I guess you’re all telling me I’ve still got some stuff to sort out but not to like dwell on it.”
Roger had been looking at David and Jackson while Jerrod was speaking, and they both smiled at him softly, so he felt they’d given him the go ahead to continue.
“Yeah, but mainly just emotions to sort through. This was kind of a roller coaster ride for you this summer. So, can I make a suggestion?”
Jerrod seemed to perk up with that question, turned to Roger and gave him a quick kiss and said, “Absolutely. I want to hear your suggestion.”
“It’s simple. We start school on Tuesday as two individual seniors. Eric and Kim and a few other gay kids know I’m gay. The three of us all attend the GSA at school, but you don’t. You don’t come out. No one needs to know you’re gay till you’re ready. No one needs to know we’re together till we’re ready to tell them. The only dudes who know are Eric and Kim, and they’ll be totally supportive and not say a word. You need to work through this stuff. You may have forgotten, but you haven’t even told your parents for certain. Just work it through and do it when you’re ready. You know why it’ll work?”
Jerrod was smiling softly, but shook his head.
“Because we’ve got these guys.” He nodded at David and Jackson. “The most caring and loving support group on the planet. And we’ve got this house where we can be us. And I know my parents will be cool at our house, too. We don’t need to be out at school till you’re ready.”
Jerrod felt his smile widen and his eyes moisten. He pulled Roger in for a hug and kissed the side of his head. He looked at David and Jackson and said, “Am I lucky or what? I’ve got you guys. That means I’ve got the coolest uncle, and his boyfriend is like the older brother I never had. And them I’ve got Roger. Thanks. That’s all I can say. Thanks that you understand and are helping me sort through this stuff.”
When the boys got into bed, Roger pulled Jerrod over to him, so he was holding Jerrod in an embrace with his head lying on Roger’s shoulder. He softly said, “liebling, can I ask you something?”
Jerrod didn’t respond right away, but then said, “The more I know you, and the more I understand you, the more I love you. You can ask me anything.”
“Last night was a total mind-blower for me. I mean the way you made me feel, made love to me. It seemed like what you really cared about, almost like all you cared about, was me and how I felt. It was like you weren’t even thinking about how you were feeling about getting your rocks off”
Jerrod was a little embarrassed as he answered. “That’s what I was focused on because you’re my boyfriend, and also because of what happened going back to Philly and having that conversation with my Dad and having my parents start to seem like they accept me for who I am, and then having the guy whose house we broke in to not only forgive me, but want to help me. It made me realize something about giving. That guy didn’t have to do what he did, but he did it to help us kids. And then when we had that walk, he was entirely focused on understanding and helping me. It blew my mind when I finally realized it. So, I was really lucky. Lucky to have landed here with David and Jackson, lucky that we found Kaiser, and lucky you knew Eric and Kim, so we met and now you’re my boyfriend.”
Roger blushed, “Well, I don’t know, it seems like you’re making yourself out as some kind of bad and deviant…”
“Roger, don’t! Don’t go there. I came out here last summer in denial and in trouble and a fucked-up mess. I had done a bunch of stupid and illegal stuff, but David and Jackson saw past that. That’s fab, but they’re smart and adults—they’re supposed to do stuff like that. You’re the same age as me, but you saw beyond all that shit too. The difference is that you’re a kid like me. But you’re a different kind of kid than I was. I was all hung up and trying to be something I wasn’t. But you were just you. Honest and warmhearted and caring, and you could see beyond all my shit and for some reason it didn’t bother you. Maybe you saw it was a front. Maybe you didn’t care. But all I know is that only nine people in the world saw me for who I am and accepted me and loved me, and seven of them I met here in Portland this summer. That’s David and Jackson, and Will and Sam and Eric and Kim. And you. Oh, number eight and nine is Aunt Jane and the homeowner back in Philly.”
Jerrod fell silent, starting to choke up.
Roger hugged him close and said softly, “I know, man. But you know what? I want to say two things right now. First, you need to write that homeowner a letter and thank him, and then keep in touch. People like that are pretty rare, I think. The second thing is this: the first time I saw you at the tennis court, before I knew any of the stuff that was going on in your life, my heart flipped and I was crushing on you and knew you were a guy I wanted to get close to.”
“You did? How did that happen?”
“I looked in your eyes. And, you had this dog with you that you insisted on bringing to a doubles tennis game. Like the dog was so important he couldn’t be left at home. Remember when I told you I’d be happy if you treated me like you treated Kaiser? It was like that. I knew you were a good guy when I saw you with the dog.”
“That sounds like a stretch to me, but you know what? I like the sound of it, so I’m going with your story. And thanks, by the way. Just being with you makes me feel better about myself.”
They lay silently for a few minutes, Jerrod’s face on Roger’s shoulder, Roger stroking his back, and Jerrod enjoying the rise and fall of Roger’s chest as he breathed.
“Well, I for one am glad you feel better about yourself. And, speaking of better feelings, or good feelings, we didn’t get much reading done in the gay sex book today.”
“True, but that’s okay. We’ve got time.”
“We do. It’s also been an emotional evening for you. And, I want to point this fact out to you,” and Roger reached for Jerrod’s cock, and then said, “it’s all soft. Now it’s my turn to inspect you. And by the way, I know you’re all in love with uncut cocks, but for the record, I think your cock is pretty beautiful too. Now spread your legs so I can get in down there and check this piece out.”
Jerrod smiled to himself and kissed Roger as he leaned back against the pillows, and watched as Roger slid down and across his leg so he was lying between them. He first took a close look at Jerrod’s cock, then looked up and smiled, his eyes gleaming as he slid one hand under Jerrod’s balls, softly stroking.
“Like I said, beautiful!”
“I used the enema bulb, I’m clean… for you.”
Roger grinned again. “Me, too. Now, relax.”
Jerrod dropped his head back on the pillow, relaxing his neck, and now only able to see the top of Roger’s head. But he felt Roger lay his cock on his belly and his lips nuzzle against his balls, kissing softly. Suddenly he was aware that the emotional anguish he’d been feeling had vaporized, replaced with the very basic sensation of being sexually stimulated. He groaned softly, and out of his field of view Roger smiled to himself.
Roger had been struck with how focused Jerrod had been the night before on making him feel good, and promised himself he would do the same tonight, to give back to his boyfriend. He was just following his instinct, but began by nuzzling and licking the inside of Jerrod’s thighs just where they joined his torso, and those licks led up the cleft between his thigh and torso, past his scrotum to the base of his cock, and into the brown hair that made up his pubic patch. Following that soft slope had led his tongue onto Jerrod’s abdomen, and now he rubbed his nose in the pubes, savoring his boyfriend’s aroma before he licked back down on the other side. As he ended the second pass, he could see Jerrod’s cock plumping and was happy.
The aroma from the top of Jerrod’s thighs had grabbed him somehow, and as he went back down, he reached for Jerrod’s knees and lifted them, exposing more of Jerrod to him. He kissed and then sucked on his boyfriend’s balls, hearing him groan and then feeling his upper body writhe on the bed, and knew that what he was doing was having the desired effect.
Without really thinking about it consciously, he lifted Jerrod’s knees higher and spread them further apart and could fully see his anus and that delicate patch of skin between it and the base of his scrotum. His heart jumped in his chest like he’d never felt before, and he felt his own cock harden. He didn’t know it was called the perineum, but he was reacting to what he was seeing and smelling, and continuing the unconscious movement, he leaned forward and licked below Jerrod’s scrotum. He heard him moan, and then he moved down and ever so softly licked his anus and upward toward his scrotum in one movement. Jerrod shuddered and Roger knew it was good, and dropped back, and put his tongue on that pink pucker. It quivered and he heard Jerrod mutter, “Oh my god.”
He licked it a little, more, then licked up to that lovely set of balls with the faintest amount of brown hair around them, licked there, and then continued up to meet what was now a raging hard-on standing up from Jerrod’s abdomen and leaking precum. Releasing his knees, he felt Jerrod’s legs drop down beside him as his boyfriend sighed deeply. Roger licked up the bottom of Jerrod’s cock, following the large and fully engorged vein up to the full and purple head and softly licked the precum from it.
“Oh my god, Roger. If you suck my cock now, I’m going to cum, just like that. Turn around so I can suck yours, too.” Roger understood the need to reciprocate and moved on the bed, swinging his body around and settling down to focus on the pulsing cock in front of him even as he felt Jerrod begin to pull the foreskin off the head of his hard cock and slowly stroke it, and then very quickly take the head in his mouth. He knew that if he continued at the same pace, he’d make Jerrod come way before him, so he slowed down, reaching a finger into his crack to rub his anus and then tracing up along his perineum as he carefully licked the head of Jerrod’s cock.
Roger felt Jerrod take his cock fully in his mouth, felt how amazing the sensation was, and took that as a sign to continue stimulating him. He slipped a finger in his mouth to moisten it and rubbed it against Jerrod’s anus as he slowly slipped his mouth over his boyfriend’s cock. He felt the ring relax against his finger and slowly wiggled it in, all the while feeling Jerrod writhe, his hips wiggling back and forth on the bed with what he understood to be sensual stimulation. It only took a minute and his whole finger was in Jerrod’s ass, moving in circles against the soft and moist flesh. He felt the head of Jerrod’s cock against the back of his throat, and then as he stroked what he later understood was Jerrod’s prostate, he heard a huge moan as Jerrod’s thrust toward him, and with a loud cry he started to cum, his hips rhythmically moving against his face.
Jerrod was holding Roger’s cock with one hand and had the other on his butt, and as he began to cum and his anus tightened down on Roger’s finger, he pulled him close, forcing Roger’s cock deeper into his mouth.
Roger felt Jerrod cum into the back of his mouth with a deep and loud groan, and savored the taste, swallowing each pulse as it came. The sensory load was too much, and he too, started to shoot, Jerrod taking each pulse.
When both boys slowly disengaged, they lay spent for a couple of minutes, regaining their emotions and their breathing. Then Roger swung around back up the bed and nestled down against Jerrod’s chest. He watched his boyfriend’s eyes slowly open, glazed as they still were, and heard him say, “Like nothing else.” He wrapped his arms around Roger and pulled him close, whispering in his ear, “I love you. I totally love you. You make me feel so good and so alive.”
Roger was sated and happy. A couple of minutes later, Jerrod whispered in his ear, “How did you know how to do what you did? That was totally mind blowing! I’ve never felt like that?”
“I don’t know, I guess it was instinct. I know it feels good when I have my finger in my ass when I jack off. Was it good?”
“Good? Are you kidding? It was unbelievable, especially after you licked me there and up to my balls, and then with your finger… I don’t know. It was so, so… electric almost. It was just amazing. Was it good for you, too? I wanted you to feel good, too.”
“I did, no worry there. Over the top.”
Roger pulled the sheet up over their shoulders and kissed his boyfriend again, softly saying, “We can talk more tomorrow. I love you.”
“Me, too. I love you so much I almost can’t take it.”
Jerrod again awoke a few minutes before Roger, and lay there watching him, wondering what he’d done to deserve such a wonderful person in his life. Then he caught himself, as David would have told him, it had nothing to do with what he’d done, as if it was a question of deserving it. It just was, it was life, and the opportunity now was to make the most of it.
Roger’s face was totally relaxed, the way he always seemed to meet the morning, and his forehead partly covered with his blond hair when his eyes flickered. Jerrod loved seeing the eyelids flutter and then blue eyes suddenly emerge. He felt like at the beginning of the day, when those eyes first opened, they were like clear and clean windows that let him see deeply into Roger’s being.
“Hello, beautiful. Seeing you and those blue eyes first thing makes me know it’ll be a great day.”
“Thanks, liebling. You kind of make my day, too!”
“We’ve got to get up soon ‘cause you’ve got to get home early, and I’ve got to take Kaiser out.”
“I know. It’s a bummer, but it is what it is.”
“You were an amazing lover last night. Beyond anything I could imagine. Thank you. I never imagined someone would love me that much.”
“Loving you is easy,” Roger said softly, moving in for a kiss, and then continued, “now I’ve really got to go piss!”
The boys were in the kitchen by 7:30, and Jerrod took Kaiser out, then fed him on the return. They settled down at the kitchen table to watch David prepare Gas House Specials while Jackson cooked the accompanying bacon. At one point as they sat holding hands, reveling in the pleasure of being side by side, and simultaneously petting Kaiser under the table, David and Jackson spun in place and started flipping little bread rounds at them as if they were small frisbees.
After the immediate surprise they figured it was some kind of a food fight, and they all finally fell into fits of giggles when they realized that the main beneficiary was Kaiser who was zipping around the kitchen sucking up the bread rounds. Jackson joined them at the table and explained the origin of the bread rounds when they’re cut out of a slice of bread in order for the egg to be fried in the center, and how David’s family had turned the bread rounds into a breakfast food fight routine. “We’ve had more fun with that routine over the years than almost any other. I guess catching you guys by surprise means we went all summer without cooking Gas House Specials. I wonder how that happened?”
The question was never answered as David served everyone and then joined them. All ate hungrily, and both Jerrod and Roger regularly glanced at Jackson to see what was coming next. Finally, he said, “What?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just that something’s on your mind, given the way you two keep checking me out.”
The boys looked at each other and grinned. Finally, Roger said, “We’re waiting for you to make another comment about residual bliss and then grill us about our sex last night.”
Jackson paused with a perfectly composed straight face, then turned on the classic look of surprise and said, “Oh, that. I’d completely forgotten. Now that you mention it, though, was it another blissful interaction? Come on, you brought it up, so we want all the details.”
“What? All the details isn’t fair! We agreed on that yesterday.”
“We did? I don’t remember that we made any formal agreements. I just said yesterday that I wasn’t going to interrogate you about the nitty-gritty details. However, that was yesterday, and this is today. And, today, you brought it up.” He was grinning now, almost cracking up and struggling to keep a straight face.
“There’s no escape, is there,” Jerrod finally asked?”
“Well, yeah. You know there is. We just run an open establishment here. I’ll just hope that you made a new discovery in your love making last night, and leave it there.”
Jerrod and Roger both glanced at each other, and David and Jackson could see something pass between their eyes, and then they modestly blushed.
“Far out! It happened! Another breakthrough,” Jackson enthused, giving them no mercy.
“It was wonderful, and it was beautiful. Can we leave it there,” Jerrod asked?
“Sure. That’s all I really wanted to know. Having you two around has brought back a ton of memories from when David and I first started having sex.” He looked at his lover, smiling, took his hand, and then said, “And all the new and innovative stuff I had to talk him into!”
“What?” Now David had joined the conversation. “I’ll admit I was a novice and clueless till you got me Silverstein’s book, but I’d argue I was a pretty quick study and came up to speed pretty quickly. Get it? Came up to speed?” He was wiggling his eyebrows, and it only took a few seconds before they all cracked up.
Jackson reached over and put one on his hands on each of the boys and said, “We just care that it’s as good for you as you explore as it was for us. That’s ‘cause we love you, that’s all.”
Jerrod smiled, understanding the dynamic, and Roger finally made his first comment. “Being with you guys is totally new for me. I mean my parents are open and love me and are full of support, but they’re pretty…well, I don’t know. Uptight isn’t the right word…”
“Yeah, that’s it. Conventional. You guys are definitely not conventional, and that’s what makes being part of your life, of this house, of being Jerrod’s boyfriend so wonderful. I just want you to know that’s how I feel.”
Jackson said, “Thanks, Roger. That’s a cool thing to say. We’re honored to be considered unconventional, right David?”
He nodded, grinning, and said, “Oh yeah. Being told we’re unconventional by two young men like you, with the implication that we’re more or less acceptable and cool is about all people of our age can ask for!”
“Wait, I didn’t mean it that way,” Roger stuttered, his blue eyes going wide in surprise.
“Roger, chill. They’re just pulling your chain. They only say stuff like that to people they really care about. I learned that last summer.”
Roger smiled, but his facial expression indicated he was processing. Finally, he said, “I’ve never had a second family. All my parent’s relations are back in Switzerland. I guess I never had close-enough friends growing up. But you know what? I’m just realizing how special it is. I guess there’s always something new to learn, right?”
“Yeah, and we’re honored to be considered that way. Now, finish breakfast so we can clean up and get you home. You’ve got a lawn to mow, and with the sun out and it being warm, you should be able to fire up that lawn mower by 9:00 am.”
Jackson drove Roger home while David washed the dishes, and he waited in the Durango while Jerrod walked Roger into the house to thank his parents for letting Roger stay over a second night. He came back to the car with a broad grin on his face.
“It’s so cool. They’re so cool with us. They said I could have a sleep over with Roger on Saturday night. They’re going to the opera, and that way Roger isn’t home alone. Is that okay?”
“Wait! It’s a weekend, a Saturday night, and you need to ask me?”
“Well, yeah. You’re kind of my guardian, aren’t you?”
Jackson grinned and ruffled his hair. “Technically that’s David, you know, the older man. He’s the one you need to ask. But it’ll be no problem, I promise.”
As they drove home Jerrod was quiet, and finally he turned to Jackson and said, “Can I tell you something?”
“I meant what I said the other night about feeling like you’re my older brother or something. Uncle David is so great and so cool, but you are too, in a different way.” He found himself blushing and choking up.
Jackson reached over and put his hand on Jerrod’s shoulder. “Relax, man. I’m honored. You’ve met my older brother, Gary, and he’s a great guy. But I never had a younger brother, one that I could kind of help and harass at the same time. So, I feel as good about it as you do. I’m here for you, about anything. Any time. Okay?”
“About anything? Even sex stuff?”
“Especially sex stuff.”
Jerrod paused, and then said, “Last night was something amazing. I mean, Roger made love to me. To me! I was blown away that he was so focused on me. We only did oral and ended up in a sixty-nine, but he put his finger in my ass, and it was… I mean I didn’t expect it, and… I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like, and when I came…”
“Jerrod, let me get this straight. Your boyfriend, who loves you like there’s no tomorrow, was giving you a blow job and had his finger in your ass at the same time and you had the most amazing climax of your life. Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“Well, yeah. But how did you know.”
“It happens to all of us. Look, you probably haven’t had time to get very far in The Joy of Gay Sex yet, but it’s actually quite simple. You got finger fucked and he found your prostate, whether he did it intentionally or not the result was the same, and that blew you over the top. That’s why we gave you guys the book and what we meant about a gay sex talk. There’s some details for gay guys that just don’t get discussed in sex ed classes.”
“Geez, don’t I know it.”
“So, your lover made you feel like you’ve never felt before?”
“You are a very lucky man. And you want to know something else?”
Jerrod glanced at him and nodded his head as they pulled in the driveway.
“You need to hear this. Roger is a very lucky man, too.”
“Really, I mean he’s so together and…”
“Jerrod. Give yourself a break. He’s cool and so are you. Just accept it, will you. You’re a good guy like we’ve been trying to tell you for a while. You deserve this good stuff. And we’re here to help. Do you understand?”
Jerrod was able to get out a very quiet “I do, and thanks,” and hold the tears back. When they walked around the front of the Durango, though, he looked at Jackson and said, “Can I have one of those hugs now?”
He didn’t know why, but as Jackson pulled him tight and his face settled onto the older man’s shoulder, he found himself beginning to cry. He tried to stop it, but couldn’t. The emotion got stronger and the crying more pronounced and he felt more and more embarrassed until Jackson reached a hand to the side of his head and pulled it close to his so he could say softly into his ear, “It’s okay, Jerrod. Just let it go. You’ve got so much emotion bottled up inside you, just let it go. We love you, man. Let it go.”
It took a few minutes, but he finally settled down and the emotion subsided, and the tears stopped flowing. He felt Jackson’s hands on his shoulders, pushing him away a little bit so he could look him full in the face.
“Did you get it all out?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I never cry, I mean I try not to, I mean… I don’t think… I can’t remember when…”
“No explanation necessary. Guess what? Dudes cry, too. It’s not unusual for men to cry. In fact, real men cry because they’re in touch with their emotions. They’re real about them. What you just did is a sign of emotional maturity. It’s not a sign of weakness or of being a wimp or something. When we get inside, ask David to tell you about penthos. It was an eyeopener for me to learn about. Will you do that? He can explain it better than I can.”
Jerrod nodded, wiping away the tears, his eyes still puffy and red. “I love you, Jackson. You guys… I don’t know where I’d be without you.”
“Well, my friend, that would be a hypothetical, and there’s no point in going there. We’re here, together in the here and now, and it’s all on us to make the most of it and help each other to be all that we can be.”
They spent the balance of the day getting caught up around the house, and Jerrod mowed the lawn with Kaiser watching from the back porch. After lunch, all three took Kaiser for a walk at Oaks Bottom Park, and on the way home Jerrod asked David about penthos.
David smiled at him and said, “Sure thing. Jackson told me about you getting emotional and shedding tears, and just know that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Quite the contrary, in fact. To start with, penthos is an ancient Greek word, and many think of it as the gift of tears. It’s origin is religious, in early Christianity, and the word itself can be translated as remorse, repentance or contrition. As a concept, though, it doesn’t need to be directly tied to the original meaning of grief for sin. In that context, though, it is seen as a gift - the gift of tears - and denotes the paradoxical 'joy-bearing grief' of a sinner who repents for their sins and not only has reached a point in self-awareness to understand what they’ve done, but also to have reached a point of emotional maturity to really feel sorry for what they’ve done and be able to express it in tears. Are you with me so far?”
“Yeah,” Jerrod said, “but it all sounds really religious.”
“That was the origin. If you just focus on the last thing I said, you can set the religious sinfulness aside and think of it achieving emotional maturity so that you can see what you’ve done was wrong, feel badly about it, have made restitution of some sort. Does that sound more palatable?”
Jerrod nodded, and David went on. “What goes along with that level of self-recognition and awareness is the emotional maturity, meaning the ability to express your emotions. It can be just as simple as being candid about how you’re feeling about something, or as deeply emotional as shedding tears about it. The bottom line is that it means you’re in touch with yourself and your emotions, and that’s a sign of maturity.”
Jerrod looked at Jackson. “Is that what you meant after I was crying on your shoulder?”
“Sure was, that you’ve reached a level of maturity where you’re in touch with yourself and can express those feelings. You’re not stuffing them and hiding them away like you used to.”
Jerrod looked at both of them, smiling. “Thanks, you guys. I guess that means progress, and I’ve got you two to thank for that.”
When they got home, Jerrod called his parents while David and Jackson cleaned up for the Labor Day cookout at Will and Sam’s. His Mom answered the phone, and the conversation was pleasant, and he updated her on the weekend’s activities, leaving out the sleepover part.
“My, you’ve been quite busy. Back in town and it seems like you’ve been going non-stop. Was it good to be back with David and Jackson and seeing Roger again?”
“Well, Mom, you know. Today’s the last day of summer, and tomorrow is class registration for Roger and me, and David starts back full time at Lewis & Clark too. So, it was kind of get it all in before the homework begins. And, yes, it was good being back here with David and Jackson, and Kaiser. Don’t forget Kaiser! And, Roger, of course. He went on the hike with us yesterday.” Jackson’s thoughts momentarily went to the monumental sleepover and the sex that went with it, and he had to force his mind back onto the conversation.
“I understand, dear. They’re great people, Kaiser’s a wonderful dog, and I’m pleased you have such a good friend in Roger. You two seem very happy when you’re together. Oh, you’ll want to know that we took the boat sailing yesterday, and it may be the last time this summer. We’ll have to see how pleasant Fall is or how early winter comes before we decide when we pull it out for the winter. You Dad missed having you to crew with him this summer. He commented on it yesterday.”
“I missed it, too! I don’t have the tan I usually do from being out on the water a lot. What are you guys doing for Labor Day?”
“We’re going to the Wilson’s next door for a cookout. You called at just the right time, as we’ll be walking over in fifteen minutes. Would you like to speak to your father?”
Jerrod said yes, Julius came on, and he repeated much the same information to his Dad. “I heard your Mother tell you we went sailing yesterday, and I missed having you as crew.”
“Yeah, that was nice to hear, and I missed sailing, too.”
“I missed sailing with you. I didn’t think about it much during the summer because I thought you’d be coming back after a month, and then you stayed longer, and now you’ll be there all year. I found myself wondering today if we’ll ever sail together again.”
“Dad, you know we will. It’s not like you’ll never see me again or anything like that. I’ll be home to visit.”
“I know you will,” Julius said softly, “I just want you to know I missed you, that’s all.”
“Thanks, Dad. That means a lot. Mom said you’re about to walk next door, so I better hang up. It’s good talking to you. Thanks for everything, and say hi to the Wilsons for me, okay?”
They rang off and Jerrod headed to take a shower.
Roger and his parents were the last to arrive at Will and Sam’s, and everyone was relaxed in the back yard with the smell of grill smoke permeating the area. As they walked in, everyone looked up and Kaiser trotted over to greet his number two trainer.
As they joined the rest of what was now an extended family, there was the usual greetings and banter. Roger realized that Susan, Eric’s sister, was there too, and went over to say hi and give her a hug.
She hugged him back fervently and said, “Thanks, Roger. I was beginning to think I was taken for granted by all these guys.”
“No way. Jerrod loves you totally. I don’t know about your brother and Kim, but that’s your problem.”
He ducked, knowing Susan would take a swipe at him, and they both laughed.
Will let everyone know that the burgers and brats would be ready in about ten minutes, and when the food was served the youth sat together with Kaiser and the conversation moved to school starting the next day, who’d be taking what classes and what sports. For the first time Jerrod realized he’d be riding a school bus instead of having his Mom drop him off at school.
He looked at Roger who said, “We live far enough apart I think you’re on a different route. Eric is probably on the same bus as you. Kim: you’re on a different bus from Eric, aren’t you?”
Eric confirmed he was and that they met up at school. Roger smiled at Jerrod and said, “See, no worries. We’ll meet at school.”
Susan had been watching the dialogue and interaction, and finally cleared her throat. All the boys turned to look at her.
“So, Jerrod, you and Roger are a real item. Have you figured out how you’re going to do this?”
Jerrod looked at her, just a shade short of horrified. “What do you mean ‘a real item,’ I don’t understand.”
“Yeah, you do. You guys are in love. It’s obvious. At least to someone like me with my highly developed powers of perception! It’s like these two” she said out of the side of mouth, nodding at her brother and his boyfriend. “So, what’s the plan, man?”
Roger jumped right in, knowing Jerrod was still figuring out how to handle things. “Look, we need you guys to help us. And, by ‘you guys,’ I mean you, too Susan. You’re right about your powers of perception. If you can see we’re together, then other people could, too. Jerrod’s just starting school here. He went through an emotional roller coaster this summer. He needs some space, so we’ve decided that he’s going to start school as just another new student. He’s not going to be out as gay. We’re not being public about us being together. Will you guys help us?”
Eric and Kim nodded, like guys do, but didn’t say anything. Susan spoke right into the silence. “That’s going to be hard to pull off.”
“What do you mean?”
“You guys loving each other is as obvious as the sun is out. How are you going to hide that?”
Jerrod finally spoke and said, “Susan, is that for real? We’re that obvious?”
“Well, I can see it. But I’ve got great powers of perception! Maybe it’s not so obvious to everyone else. Ask these two. They’re older than me and seniors like you guys.” She pointed at her brother and Kim.
Eric replied first. “When you guys are together, it’s pretty obvious. You’ve either got to work on toning it down, or not be together that much… if you’re not going to be out and a couple. I get it if that’s how you want to start the year. You’ll be one of the new guys, Jerrod, so why pile on the complications, right?”
Jerrod nodded, and Roger continued, “Thanks. But listen, we’ve already decided what I said, that Jerrod’s not going to be out, and we’re not letting on we’re boyfriends. He’s got to start the year and settle in and be accepted, and that’ll be hard enough to get going. You’ve got to help us, like say nothing, and if anyone starts saying anything, help shut it down, okay?”
They all nodded, grinning conspiratorially, then talking about how they’d handle the details. Eventually David walked by and Jerrod said, “Uncle David, do you know if I’ll be on the same school bus as Eric?”
David paused and said he was pretty sure, but he didn’t have to sweat it the next day because he planned on driving him to school to finish registration, deliver his transcript and then get him signed up for classes, and that would confirm the bus route.
Jerrod smiled his thanks and turned back to his friends. “Looks like that’ll work tomorrow. What’s the first day usually like?”
“Pretty much nothing,” Kim said. “You register for your classes, get checked out for your home room, get a locker assignment, and that’s it. Tell David not to leave you there unless you want to hang with us, ‘cause the buses don’t start running till Wednesday, and you won’t have a ride home.” He finished with a chuckle.
“Don’t be an ass, Kim,” Susan said. She turned to Jerrod and added, “Mom picks us up because we get our textbooks before we leave. So, have Uncle David do the registration thing and then he can leave you at school. We’ll all hook up and you can ride home with us. We even give this guy,” and here she nodded at Kim, “a ride home.”
“What happens with Kaiser,” Eric asked?
“It’ll be a test. Uncle David said he’d stop back by the house after he leaves me at school to check on him before he goes up to Lewis & Clark. It’s a fenced back yard, and he’s got his bed on the back porch, and when I get home, I’ll take him for a long walk in the park. We’ll have to work into the new schedule, though.”
He looked at Roger and said, “Don’t forget, we’ve got to talk to Sean’s mother about what the best day’s going to be to meet them at the park.” Roger nodded and said, “I told them last week while you were back east that we’d probably have a new schedule when school started. They’re cool with it.”
“You’re going to keep doing that every week,” Susan asked? “Even with school and stuff.”
“Yeah. It’s important. Sean is a really cool kid, and he and Kaiser are really close. He needs his time with Kaiser. It’s something we’ve got to do. Right, Roger?”
“Oh, yeah! I took Kaiser to meet Sean and his Mom when Jerrod was in Philly last week, and there’s no way that can’t happen.” He paused, reflecting, and then said, “He is a really neat kid. It’s something he needs. It’s probably the highlight of his week.”
Jerrod listened to his boyfriend say that and was proud. He didn’t know if the rest of the kids understood that Roger had a cousin who also had cerebral palsy, but he did. And he knew Roger understood why this was so important, and that made him love his boyfriend even more.
When the cookout broke up, they all said goodbye and the kids high-fived and said they’d meet at school. Sam and David had coordinated on the transportation for the next day, so the adults were comfortable things were under control and with that they headed home.
It turned out that Kim was correct in his assessment. The first day was pretty mechanical and administrative. David and Jerrod spent some time in the administrative office completing Jerrod’s enrollment and getting his transcript from Haverford entered. Jerrod received praise for his overall GPA and the number of advanced placement classes he had taken, and he felt satisfied with that. He completed his class registration and then was sent down the hall to get his locker and home room assignment. At that point David said he was going to leave, and Jerrod confirmed that he’d check on Kaiser on his way to campus.
“Yep, got it. You should be home early today, so he won’t be on his own very long. Do you want anything special for dinner tonight?”
“That chicken with carrots dish would be cool.”
“You mean Dorothy’s Chicken, with the carrots and sour cream?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“That I can do. See you this evening. It’s mainly registration for college students today, too, so if I can get home early I will. It’s a regular workday for Jackson.”
“Got it. Thanks, Uncle David. I’ll do fine and see you later.”
He ended up getting all the first day tasks completed and then Sam arrived and took all of them home for a late lunch.
“Wow, this is like yesterday’s cook out extended to today.”
“Well, it’s pretty much the same drill at all schools today,” she said, “so, I’ve completed my part and am free to serve you kids lunch. Then I’ll take you and Roger and Kim home.
Jerrod looked at Roger. “You want to come home with me, and then we can take Kaiser down to the park and give him a good workout?”
Roger nodded with a grin, and that sealed the deal for the afternoon.
The walk with Kaiser took an hour and they went through all his training drills, alternating between the two to them, and having a great time.
“You know, it’s kind of weird, but he’s got two trainers and he doesn’t seem to mind at all. I remember Angela telling me that most dogs latch onto a single human as their trainer, their main person.”
He smiled at Roger as he said is, and Roger grinned back.
“You know what that means?”
Roger grinned again, wiggling his eyebrows?
“It means you’ve passed the test about being adequately cool. In case you don’t know, that’s dog talk for you’re an alright trainer. It’s kind of the same as guy talk for ‘you’re an okay boyfriend!’ don’t you know!”
“Okay? What the fuck does that mean? Okay? I’m offended!”
Jerrod had seen Roger coming at him looking for a tackle, and adroitly stepped back two paces.
“No, you don’t. No violence!”
“But you just told me I was only okay!”
“No, I said my understanding is that that’s dog talk. I may not be really good at translating dog talk, and since we can’t get Kaiser to translate for us, even as intelligent as he is, I guess you’ll have to come back to my house and show me that you’re more than an okay boyfriend!”
Roger’s face slowly developed a lascivious grin. “I think I can do that. What time is David coming home?”
“Later, but I don’t know what time for sure. It depends on what happens on campus. We’ve got time though. I think it would be kind of important for you to show me that you’re more than just ‘an okay’ boyfriend. We could experiment with that lube they bought us! Then, I can tell Kaiser, and we won’t have to worry about him having the wrong understanding.”
They decided that they couldn’t count on a lot of time with David likely to be home early, so it became a little experiment in lubricated hand jobs. They were both quite amazed and impressed at how effective the lube was at making things slick and sexy.
When David arrived home, he found all three of them in the living room listening to a U2 album. The boys were cuddled on the couch with Kaiser laying at the end, his head lying over Jerrod’s feet.
They all looked up as he walked into the living room, and he softly said, “I guess it’s safe to assume that the first day of school went well for all of you?”
They both nodded, then glanced at each other and grinned and try as they might they couldn’t control it and the grin widened and turned into giggles, and finally Jerrod said, “When we got home we had some time, so we tried out the lube you gave us. It’s pretty amazing stuff!”