The Foxwood Chronicles
“Jesse! Get your God-damn ass down here! Now!”
His heart jumped and his stomach constricted horribly as he lay on his bed. He closed his eyes and bit his lip.
“Jesse, God-damn it! Get down here!”
Slowly, Jesse rose. He walked over to his cheap stereo and turned off Aerosmith. Nervously resigned to his fate, Jesse trudged across the floor of his room and out into the hallway. As he neared the stairs leading down to the front hall, he could hear his father ranting angrily with his mother in the kitchen. He could not hear everything, but the word “queer” seemed to come through loud and clear.
Oh, God, he thought to himself.
The front door opened and Jeremy entered. He saw his older brother descending the stairs and smiled. However, as soon as he saw the look on Jesse’s face, he froze.
“Quick. Get up to your room,” Jesse warned in a whisper. “Don’t say anything.”
Accustomed to Jesse’s attempts to protect him and knowing he was serious, the younger boy quickly tip-toed up the stairs and ran to his room, quietly closing the door behind him.
Jesse reached the front hall and, clutching his hands nervously, proceeded toward the kitchen. His mother was standing at the sink washing lettuce. His father was seated at the kitchen table, a bottle of Pabst already open. His tie was loose and the sleeves of his white shirt were rolled up. Large sweat stains discolored the shirt under his arms. His eyes were red and full of fury. It was a scene with which Jesse was only all too familiar.
“What the Hell are you doing hanging out with queers? And, what the Hell are you thinking when you mouth off to a policeman?”
The anger in his voice warned Jesse that this was to be no ordinary dressing down. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his mother concentrating fiercely on the lettuce, her head and hands trembling.
“I’m not hanging out with queers. We just…”
“Don’t lie to me! Fred saw you in that fairy Holland’s gay bar by campus. And, he said you were pretty mouthy to him. I won’t….”
“It’s not a gay bar. It’s a coffee house and he sells…”
His father stood and Jesse instinctively stepped back, stopped in his retreat by the door frame.
“Don’t interrupt me and don’t contradict me. You know, shit, everyone in Foxwood knows that Chris Holland is a God-damned queer. And, he opened that damn place so he could get all the queers in Foxwood together and recruit kids like you to be queer.”
“Dad, we were playing tennis over at the college and we were hot and we wanted something to drink and…”
“Why weren’t you playing at the club?”
Jesse wasn’t certain how to answer that.
“We… just wanted to try something different. I guess we…”
“I pay good money to get us into that club. You can God-damn well use the place. Besides, with all the queers that roam around that damn college, I don’t want you hanging out there, either. And, you aren’t to see that damn Vanderlyn fairy anymore, either. If I see you anywhere near that God-damn queer, I’ll beat you senseless. You understand me?”
Jesse knew it was hopeless to argue. He looked down at the floor and sighed.
Jesse heard his father sit down, his breathing heavy from fury and beer.
“And, another thing. When a policeman speaks to you, you answer back with respect. I’m not going to have a son of mine…”
“Dad, you know Fred’s a jerk. You said so, yourself. He just likes to swagger around and give everyone a hard time. We were just…”
His father jumped up and before Jesse could protect himself, he slapped the boy’s face, knocking him to floor. Jesse shut his eyes and held his face as he crouched at his father’s feet. His mother turned fearfully and started to speak, but remained silent. His father stood looking down at his son in contempt and then turned to the refrigerator. He threw the empty beer bottle away and removed another from the refrigerator. Walking out of the kitchen, he barked, “Hurry up with dinner. I’m starving.”
Slowly, Jesse stood and looked at the floor in shame. He was too embarrassed to look his mother in the eye, but she rushed over to him when they were alone and hugged him.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” he whispered.
“Honey, you didn’t do anything.”
“Yeah, I did. I pissed him off. I didn’t mean to. I just wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry.”
She hugged him tighter and whispered, “Just go up to your room. It’ll be OK.”
He nodded and slowly walked into the hall. Creeping slowly toward the stairs, he could hear his father in the den cursing at Dan Rather on the television. Quickly, he climbed the stairs and ran to the bedroom.
Jeremy was sitting nervously on the bed, clutching his hands as Jesse walked in. He said nothing as his brother closed the door. Jesse smiled reassuringly to his little brother and then turned the stereo back on as R.E.O sang “you take it on the run, baby; if that’s the way you want it, baby, then I don’t want you ay-round.” He stepped over the air conditioner in the window and turned it on.
“Dad’ll get mad,” Jeremy warned quietly.
“Fuck him,” Jesse said softly. Jeremy’s eyes grew wide, but he said nothing. Jesse lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. How much more could he take? But, if he wasn’t around, his Dad would go after Jeremy. He couldn’t allow that. He had to protect his little brother.
Dinner was quiet and uneventful. No one seemed to be in a mood to talk. Jesse had little appetite, but he was afraid not to eat his usual amount. His mother was nervous, but struggling to maintain a smile and some semblance of normality. His father seemed quiet; Jesse thought it might be possible he felt that he might have gone too far earlier, but doubted that he could ever admit to doing so.
After dinner, he went outside to play catch with Jeremy and the two almost seemed to forget the earlier unpleasantness. However, as the evening progressed and the sun sank first behind the house and, later, below the treetops, Jesse grew quieter and more anxious. When Dylan came by to see Jeremy, Jesse excused himself and returned to his room. After half an hour of worrying about what Ryan wanted to talk about, he could take the anxiety no longer.
Trying to act as normal as possible, he descended the stairs and passed the den, where his father was drinking another beer and watching the beginning of Hill Street Blues. Unnoticed, he slipped into the kitchen and gave his mother a hug as she sat at the kitchen table reading the Ladies’ Home Journal. The crickets were competing with the cicadas as he stepped out the back door and crossed the backyard. The corner streetlight came on as he passed underneath it and turned the corner. His anxiety seemed to peak as he came to the garage behind the Athertons’ house. He paused for a moment and bit his lip.
He knew, he just knew Ryan wanted to ask him if he was gay. Would he lose Ryan as a friend, the best friend he had ever had, the friend who had always been there for him, the friend in whom he had confided everything, everything except one secret.
Jesse jumped and turned. Ryan was just coming around the corner of the garage behind Jesse from the alley.
“Oh, um. Hi.”
“What’s the matter?”
Jesse swallowed and shrugged, struggling to act as normal as possible.
“Nothing. I… well, it’s Dad.”
“Come on. Let’s go to the tree house.”
The boys walked across the thick grass of the Atherton back yard, dodging Brandon’s abandoned bicycle in the middle and climbed the rungs, Ryan glancing back furtively at the house. Once they were safe in the tree house, Ryan kicked off his sneakers and leaned back against the plywood wall. Jesse followed suit, trying to avert his eyes from the sleeveless blue tee-shirt that revealed his best friends strong arms and hinted at the strong pecs in his chest. Ryan watched him for a second.
“Listen,” said Ryan with a kind smile. “Before you say anything, maybe this will help.”
He pulled a small metal canister from his pocket and opened it. Inside, Jesse could see several joints and his eyes grew wide.
“Ryan! You don’t smoke pot!”
His friend shrugged.
“I know. But, well, I thought it might make things a little easier. Besides, it’s not like we do it all the time. Besides, Danny gave me a discount.”
He paused and then grinned. “You and me are helping him with the lawn again next week.”
Jesse rolled his eyes and Ryan pulled a Bic lighter from his other pocket.
“Who is this guy, anyway? Tom Sawyer?”
Ryan handed the joint and the lighter to Jesse, who lit up and took a big hit. The boys were silent as they handed it back and forth and by the time it was history, both boys were staring off into space with dazed looks on their faces. After a very long moment of silence, during which the dusk finally descended into darkness, Jesse muttered, “Fuck man. What’s in that shit?”
Ryan slowly looked up and grinned stupidly.
“Yeah, he said it was pretty good.”
After another long moment, during which Jesse gazed at Ryan’s bare feet and started feeling his cock begin to swell just a little, Ryan said softly, “So what’s up with George?”
Jesse frowned and shook his head,
“Dad found out about this afternoon and blew a gasket. He doesn’t want me hanging out around Chris anymore. And, he’s pissed off that I mouthed off to Fred.”
“Shit, he bad mouths Fred. Everyone knows Fred’s an idiot.”
Jesse shook his head again.
“I know. But, you know how Dad is. Oh, and I can’t hang around Evan anymore, either.”
“Why?” Ryan asked with mellowed outrage.
Jesse paused and carefully replied, “He doesn’t want me hanging around ‘queers,’ he says. I guess he thinks Chris or Evan are gonna turn me queer or something.”
Jesse paused and waited a few seconds before glancing up at Ryan. His heart sank when he saw how his friend was smiling and looking downward, obviously trying to work up the courage to say something. Suddenly, he glanced up, as if he had changed his mind, and said, “Speaking of which, I gotta tell you something about Evan. We need to talk about him.”
Jesse breathed a sigh of relief and asked. “What?
Ryan crossed his legs and leaned forward.
“I was talking to Adam last night when you went inside to get Jeremy and Adam said that him and Evan were in love.”
“I know. That’s pretty weird.”
“Well, you know how Adam is. That doesn’t mean that they’re like, you know, doing it or stuff. He could just mean that they’re really close. You know Adam had to be teased a lot before he moved here. He’s probably thrilled shitless to have a friend who doesn’t laugh at him, poor guy.”
Ryan shook his head.
“No. He means that they’re like boyfriends.”
Jesse frowned again.
“He just came out and said it?”
“I guess he doesn’t understand that people hate gays.”
Jesse looked away and took a deep breath. Ryan continued.
“So listen. I want to know what you think. I’m afraid that because Adam is so innocent and doesn’t like understand things that maybe Evan is taking advantage of him. You heard Evan talk about his life back in LA.”
“Do you really believe all that? I mean, everyone in California claims to be a movie star.”
Ryan thought for a moment and then replied, “Yeah, I think Evan’s pretty much telling the truth. I really think he knows the people he says he does. But, anyway, Evan’s a lot more experienced than Adam and I’m pretty sure he’s gay. He just has to be. I mean, the way he was flirting with Chris, this afternoon.”
“Yeah, that was pretty fucking obvious.”
“And, the way he swings his butt and shit. And, what’s up with him and Michael? I bet he tried to put the moves on Michael and Michael turned him down.”
“I bet it was the other way around.”
“I don’t know, but somehow, someone did something to the other. Maybe they got it on in the locker room or something.”
Jesse started getting harder thinking about how pretty Evan was with his beautiful blond hair and his beautiful slim legs and his beautiful perfect face and…
“Well, so we know Evan’s gay. I just don’t think it’s right if he’s getting it on with Adam. I think we need to say something to him. What do you think?”
“To Evan or Adam?”
Ryan thought for a moment.
“Maybe we should talk to both.”
Jesse paused and then nervously suggested, “You know, maybe Adam really does know what’s going on and he really is gay and he wants to get it on with Evan. You know, Adam really is smart.”
“Yeah, but being smart and being… well, you know, knowing stuff, being mature, they’re are different. I think we need to make sure. We need to protect Adam if Evan’s taking advantage of him.”
Jesse said nothing. He merely looked out the door of the tree house toward the neighbors’ house. There was a lone light on in the bedroom upstairs and, through the open window, he could hear a hint of the theme music of the Ten O’Clock News.
Jesse had feared that Ryan was going to confront him about being gay. Now, it seemed that Ryan just wanted to talk about Evan and Adam. Jesse was relieved, but the pot was making him horny and reckless. Ryan seemed to have a pretty negative attitude toward gays, in general, though he liked Evan. The two of them had had fun the last Saturday night jacking each other. Maybe, if they were stoned, maybe Ryan might want to do it again. But, before Jesse could start the slow dance of maneuvering the situation around to where he might make the first move, or that Ryan might be encouraged to make the first move, Ryan coughed and spoke again and Jesse’s heart sank.
“Well, Jesse, there’s really something else I want to ask you about.”
Despite being so relaxed from the pot, Jesse’s hands constricted nervously. He could barely breathe when he whispered, “What?”
Ryan paused as if he were afraid to proceed further. This merely added to Jesse’s anxiety. He gazed at his beautiful friend, at the tanned skin, the straight shiny black hair hanging down in his eyes, the strong arms resting on his upraised knees before him. He felt a surge of lust despite his anxiety.
Ryan leaned forward and looked down at the plywood floor.
“Jesse, you and me are best friends, right?”
Jesse merely nodded.
“We’ve been buds for like forever.”
Jesse nodded again.
“We’ve always been there for each other. When I almost drowned in the Nimitiq River, you saved my life. When your Dad, well, you know, we always let you crash at our place. I mean there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you and vice versa.”
Jesse took a breath.
“Ryan, what are you trying to say?”
“Jesse, you know you can tell me anything. I mean anything. Right?”
Jesse couldn’t take it anymore.
“Ryan, I love you.”
Ryan froze, his eyes wide and locked on Jesse’s face. Jesse continued.
“I always have. As long as I can remember. I love you, man. You’re the coolest, most decent guy I know. You’d never do anything to fuck anyone over. You’d never cheat. You don’t lie to your parents. Well, I mean, you don’t lie about the important stuff. I mean, you’re one of the good ones. And… you’re hot man. You’re the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. Yeah, you turn me on. Your arms, your body, your face. You’re a stud, man. You’re hot. And… I love you.”
Ryan’s eyes fell to the floor. He opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it. He did this several times. The silence was more than Jesse could bear. He took a breath and said, softly, “I guess I’ll go. I’m sorry. I won’t ever bug you. You don’t have to worry about me ever saying anything to anyone or doing anything.”
He started to get up when Ryan looked at him and said, in a hoarse voice, “Sit down.”
Jesse’s hands were trembling as he sat back and looked apprehensively at his friend.
“Jesse, I’ve been wondering for awhile if you were gay, the way you always seemed to get off on us messing around when we were kids. Then, last week, you seemed to look at Evan in a weird way. I caught it a few times when you weren’t looking. And, those questions to Chris Holland this afternoon.”
Jesse shook his head.
“I’m not gay. Well, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t like perv over every hot guy I see. I mean, yeah, Evan’s cute and all. Shit, you know that. But, I don’t want to do it with him. You’re the only guy I look at.”
Jesse could never have imagined having the courage to say anything of this nature to Ryan before and he was grateful they were high. Ryan, for his part, was thankful he had bought the joints from their friend, although it was taking him longer to think of what to say now that Jesse had anticipated him and thrown him off his guard. The two were silent as Ryan thought until, finally, he looked up.
“Jesse, I always figured we’d be friends forever. I always figured we’d go on dates together and go to college together and get married and our families would be best friends and we’d have kids and they’d be best friends and maybe my son would marry your daughter and… I don’t know. I…”
Jesse fought the urge to cry. He could feel it in his chest and throat. He took a deep, shuddering breath.
“Ryan, dude, I…”
"Jesse, you’re my friend. We’ll just have to work through this. Does your old man suspect anything?”
Jesse looked at his friend in shock, his eyes wide and his mouth open.
“Your Dad doesn’t like think you and me are like getting it on, does he?”
Jesse looked about the tree house in confusion.
“I… I don’t think so or he would have said something. You know Dad.”
“Yeah, the son of a bitch.”
Ordinarily, Jesse would have called his friend on insulting his father. However, it just didn’t seem appropriate at that moment. Besides, he agreed with him.
Ryan reached across and put a hand on Jesse’s shoulder.
“Dude, we’re still friends. You’re still my best friend. I’m not gay, and I’m still trying to get laid with Debbie before the end of my sophomore year and I’m still planning to get married and all. But, we’re still friends. We’re still buds.”
He held his fist up for a moment and Jesse looked at him with an expression of infinite gratitude for a long moment before raising his fist. The two boys knocked their fists together in a symbol of their friendship and Jesse sniffed. Ryan was embarrassed.
“Just don’t make me listen to Broadway show tunes. OK?”
Jesse smiled gratefully as Ryan pulled another joint from the metal container.
“Here’s to being buds, no matter what.”
He lit the joint and, after taking a big hit, passed it to Jesse. Slowly, they passed it back and forth until it was too small to hold. Ryan placed the remains in the metal box and closed it.
“Wow,” said Jesse quietly. Ryan sat back and spread his legs wide, relaxing against the wall, his eyes half-closed as he looked at his friend with a knowing smile.
“So, Jesse, you really think I’m hot?”
Jesse looked over at his friend in surprise. Without thinking, he replied, “Oh, yeah. Dude. You are one hot fucker.”
He looked surprised at his candor as Ryan started giggling like a schoolgirl. Once he regained control, he started to speak again, but the giggles returned. They were infectious, because Jesse watched his friend fall over in hysteria and couldn’t stop himself from joining him in ridiculous giggling. Eventually, the two were able to regain control of themselves. Ryan’s face was flushed and as Jesse looked at him, admiring the way the sharp blue eyes contrasted with Ryan’s black arched eyebrows and his shaggy black hair, he felt himself suddenly explode into a raging hard-on. The severity of his horniness left him breathless as he looked at his friend. Ryan could feel the heat from his friend and Jesse could see the running shorts Ryan was wearing start to tent in the front. In seconds, they rose obscenely with a small, growing wet spot in the center of the rise.
“So, you didn’t answer my question,” Ryan softly slurred as he gazed at Jesse with his half-closed eyes. “You really think I’m hot?”
Jesse swallowed and nodded.
“Oh, yeah, Ryan. You really are the hottest dude I’ve ever seen. I think about you every time I beat off.”
Ryan seemed to ponder this for several seconds and then, finally, nodded. Slowly, as Jesse watched in amazement, he pulled his sleeveless tee-shirt over his head and tossed it aside. In the ambient light of the night, Jesse could barely see the form of Ryan’s hot, sexy chest; but it was enough to make him breathless. He could feel the tightness in his chest and his mouth became dry.
Ryan watched Jesse look at him for a moment and then, slowly, seductively, he hooked his thumbs inside the elastic band of his shorts and slipped them down his hips. As his rigid cock came into view, Jesse’s mouth slowly opened. Ryan kicked his shorts away and sat naked and open, his legs spread wide, his arms angled out from his body, his throbbing boner standing up in the darkness. The only sound in the tree house was the chirping of the crickets, the muffled voice of the newsman coming from the television next door, and the heavy breathing of the two fifteen year-olds.
“You… are so beautiful,” Jesse whispered.
Ryan sat for a moment, allowing his best friend to freely gaze at his naked body. Ryan could barely contain himself. It was such a turn-on to him to know that Jesse was getting off on him.
“Dude, I’m not gay or nothing, but, here I am. Do anything you want, man. ‘Cept, don’t kiss me. But, you know, anything else, you got it. Have fun, man.”
Jesse looked at Ryan in shock.
“Are you serious, man? You mean, like, anything?”
Ryan smiled and nodded.
“Come over here, Jesse. Feel me. Feel my body. All over.”
Jesse couldn’t believe what was happening. It was every jack-off fantasy he had ever had all rolled into one; well, except for the one where they were making out. But, this was beyond, way beyond anything he could have hoped for. He crawled up on his knees, his boner tenting out his shorts as he crawled over to his friend.
With trembling hands, he reached forward and began to feel and then caress Ryan’s chest. Ryan took a deep breath, reveling in the touch of his friend’s hands on his chest. Jesse ran his hands all over Ryan’s pecs and abs, from his rigid nipples to the thin happy trail leading down from his navel. His right hand slid lovingly along the almost hairless inside of Ryan’s left thigh as his left hand rose and cupped Ryan’s face, gently brushing the long black hair from his eyes and holding his face. Ryan smiled as their eyes met.
“No kissing,” he repeated with a grin. Jesse returned the grin with one of his own.
“That’s cool. Don’t worry.”
Ryan reached up between Jesse’s legs and squeezed the huge rise in his shorts. Jesse groaned and wrapped the fingers of his right hand around Ryan’s rock-hard cock.
“Get naked, Dude,” Ryan breathed.
“Oh, yeah,” Jesse said, his breath ragged, as he whipped his shirt over his head and off. Sitting back beside his friend, he wildly ripped his shorts off and crawled naked between Ryan’s outspread legs.
“Feel my boner, Jesse. Go on. Feel me off. Get off on me, man.”
Jesse’s trembling hands roamed freely all over his friend, from his feet and up his legs to his stomach and chest. He felt the patches of jet black hair under his arms and thought to himself that there just wasn’t a sexier guy on earth. All the time, Ryan’s boner throbbed rigidly between his legs and under the hungry face of his best friend.
“Jesse,” Ryan whispered with sex dripping from his words. “Do you want to suck my dick?”
Jesse looked up at Ryan with disbelief.
“You want me to?”
“Debbie won’t and like I need a blow-job like super bad and, well, you’re here and all and, well, you know, you’re like queer for me and all and… You don’t have to, but if…. Aaaaahhhhhhh!”
Before Ryan could stop his babbling, Jesse leaned down between his legs. Ryan’s erection was inches from his face. He took a deep breath, savoring the fragrance, the aroma of hot, sweaty teenboy, licked his lips and began to tongue Ryan’s balls. Ryan’s eyes grew wide as he watched his best friend’s mouth make love to his balls. Slowly they pulled up toward his body as Jesse licked and sucked them.
“Aw, fuuuuck,” Ryan said as Jesse’s tongue started in on the base of his erection. “Ah, yeah. Suck me, Jesse. Come on, suck my dick.”
Jesse was frantically stroking himself, crazed from lust and pot as he licked Ryan’s boner like a lollypop. He braced himself with his right hand as his left hand held the rigid cock at the base and squeezed it. He licked all around the head and the sensitive area below it, making Ryan squirm and curse and moan. Finally, neither boy could wait any longer. Jesse opened his mouth and enveloped the head of Ryan’s cock, his tongue sliding all around the taut crown of the stiff boner. Ryan grunted uncontrollably and, supporting himself with his hands beside his hips on the floor, he thrust his hips upward, driving his cock into Jesse’s hot, wet mouth. Jesse moaned and began to work Ryan’s hard-on with both his mouth and his left hand, pumping and corkscrewing his hand around the taut erection as his mouth and tongue made love to it.
Jesse was as turned on sucking and loving Ryan’s cock as Ryan was getting his cock sucked by his best buddy. Ryan’s hands gently held Jesse’s head, twining his fingers in Jesse’s shaggy blond hair.
“Aw, Jesse, that feels so fuckin’ good. Oh, God, that feels so good.”
He looked down Jesse’s body, his eyes landing on Jesse’s pecs as his friend continued to work his cock. Ryan released Jesse’s head and reached under his friend, cupping his pecs just has he had dreamt of cupping Debbie’s titties as she would suck his cock in his beat-off fantasies. Jesse jerked in shock as he felt his friend’s hand on his titties and he cried out around Ryan’s boner as his best friend’s fingers began to pull and twist and rub his rigid nipples.
It was too much for either boy. As Jesse furiously beat his own cock and stroked and sucked Ryan’s, he felt his friend’s boner turn to steal as Ryan thrust upward faster and harder and his grunts and groans became more frenzied and frantic. Jesse sped up the stroking on his own cock when, suddenly, Ryan cried out, released Jesse’s tits, and grabbed his head, fucking his cock deep into his friend’s mouth.
“Uhahhhhh! Uh, uh, uh, uh, oh, fuck, oh fuck, fuck, fuck, aaaaahhhhh!”
Jesse’s mouth was suddenly filled with Ryan’s thick bittersweet cum. He was shocked and ecstatic. Ryan was cumming in his mouth. Ryan was cumming in his mouth. He had Ryan’s cum in his mouth. Ryan was cumming in his mouth.
Jesse lost all rational thought as he desperately beat his cock. His body exploded and as Ryan’s orgasm began to decline and the dark-haired teenager fell back against the wall, exhausted and spent, Jesse held his still rigid erection in his mouth, savoring the taste and texture of Ryan’s teen cream as his own cock spasmed and shot wads of his cum across the plywood floor beneath him.
Ryan cried out when Jesse’s sucking became too intense after his orgasm. He pulled his friend’s head off his boner and Jesse sat up in a daze, breathless and panting. Their eyes met as the fought to catch their breath and Ryan grinned.
“Damn, Jesse. You not bad for a cocksucker.”
“Aw, man, Ryan. Thanks. I never thought it’d be that good. You have no idea how long I’ve dreamed of doing that.”
“Dude, anytime you want to do that again, you just ask. Geez. I thought I was gonna cum my brains out there.”
Jesse closed his eyes and smiled, savoring the memory of the past few minutes and the lingering taste of Ryan’s ejaculation.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Ryan had sat up and was smiling at him.
“You’re my bud, Jesse. You’re always gonna be my bud.”
He out his arms around Jesse and gave him a rough hug. Jesse fought the tears that formed in his eyes.
“Ah, Ryan. I love you, dude.”