There may have been three or four hundred people gathered on the shore of Lake Canterbury that evening as the sun sank below the western horizon; and, I was acutely aware of each and every one of them as Anthony strode up to David and his friend. What would people think? And, why was David sitting in that guy's lap that way in front of everyone? Sure, the boulder they were sitting beside hid them partially from most of the crowd, and as I watched them, one wouldn't really get much impression of anything nefarious if they were given just a quick glance. And really, there was no reason for most of the people there to pay much attention to them. Even so, I was very uncomfortable with Anthony marching over there, not only because of what I was afraid was going on between David and his friend, but because David was so weird; I certainly didn't want anything to do with him. However, Anthony seemed fiercely determined. He was marching as if he were saving the world from some horrible fate. He certainly was Fiona's son!
I just about died when he declared to the startled couple, "I am Anthony Macintosh and I am going to be your friend!" He might just as well have announced, "I'm President Ford and Bugs Bunny is a communist!"
The redhead merely had a curious look on his face. David looked at Anthony as if he were insane and, then, at me, eyes narrowing in distrust, as if I were pulling a gag of some kind.
"What is this?" he asked. "Some kind of joke?"
I shrugged behind Anthony, raised an innocent eyebrow, and held my hands out, palms up, to indicate that I had no idea what was happening.
"I know this must seem strange, but Jon has been telling me about the way you've been rejected by everyone and it's a bloody shame."
David looked as if he had been slapped in the face. First, shock came over his features and then, shame. He looked down. The teenager looked shocked as well, turned his head to David, whispered something, and then hugged him. He looked up at Anthony in anger.
"Look, we're having a nice evening, and we don't need anymore of you assholes causing trouble for Davy. You and your friend just get the hell away from here or I'll make sure you never . . . "
"Wait!" Anthony said emphatically. "I'm serious! I'm not trying to cause you any pain. I don't know what Jon has done or said in the past," and he gave me a withering look which shamed me to my core. "But, I am in earnest."
Earnest? What was this? Masterpiece Theatre?
The teenager's look of anger softened somewhat, but he continued to watch Anthony with suspicion as David tentatively looked up at my friend.
"Look. I'm English and when we first moved to America last year, all the kids in my school had great fun at my expense. I don't mean to embarrass you, David, and I'm sorry if I have. But, I know what its like to be an outcast. I need friends in my new town and I think you do, as well. I would like you to be my friend."
He held his hand out to David, whose wide-eyed look of shock would almost have been comical if the gratitude showing through was not so painful for me. Suddenly, I was proud of my friend, and very ashamed of myself.
David held out his hand and shook Anthony's. Then Anthony looked up at the teenager and extended his hand to him.
"You go to St. Andrew's, don't you?" he asked the redhead.
"Yes," the teenager said, taking Anthony's hand and smiling. "Stephen Kissinger."
"My dad's Father Macintosh."
Stephen smiled and then looked over at me. I was too ashamed and embarrassed to say anything or approach.
"Who’s the spook?"
"That," said Anthony with a reproachful smile and a wink, "is my friend, Jon Hughes."
I waved half-heartedly. Stephen smiled knowingly.
David was looking at me. Actually, he seemed to be examining me. It was that look he always had, like he was studying people. It always weirded me out.
"He doesn't like me," David said in a matter-of-fact way.
"Yeah, I do!" I responded defensively.
Stephen smiled again and said, "No, you don't. But, you just don't know Davy. Once you get to know him, you'll see what a cool and special guy he really is and what a good friend he can be."
Anthony and Stephen smiled at each other. David was still watching me. I looked at the ground and then took a deep breath.
"Listen," I said as I stepped up to the three of them. "I'm . . . I'm sorry. I guess I've been a jerk like everyone else."
"That's OK," David said. "It doesn't really bother me. Maybe we can be friends now."
Anthony smiled at me and then turned back to our new friends.
"Listen, Jon's grandfather is over there in that blue Lincoln with a trunk-full of really brilliant fireworks. You two want to join us as we shoot them off?"
Despite my resolution to try to be friends with David and Stephen, I was not at all comfortable with this wild-looking boy parading around half-naked in front of my grandparents. I gave Anthony a quick look, which he understood but, I could tell, did not agree with. David saw it, too. I suppose he didn't want to push and it made me feel even more like a jerk.
"Yeah. Mr. Hughes always has really cool fireworks every year, but I think Stephen and I can just sit over here and watch. Thanks, anyway, though." And, as he said that, he seemed to snuggle up closer to Stephen. It made me feel funny to see it, kind of jealous in a way, though I didn't know what I was jealous of, and kind of like the way I felt when Anthony and I were loving each other.
So, Anthony and I ran over to my grandparents' car and helped my grandfather carry the boxes of fireworks over to the staging area by the bandstand and the shore.
The show that night was magnificent. The explosions, the fountains of light, the bursts of joy in the sky and in my friend's eyes made me feel the first real happiness since . . . since . . . well.
And, later that night, after my grandparents, seeing how happy I was, had asked for and received permission from the Macintoshes for Anthony to spend the night again, we lay in my bed, held each other, kissed, made love, and cried with joy.
Sunday morning, Anthony made his "debut" as an acolyte at St. Andrew's. Kevin Flynn was more than happy to take a sabbatical and, even though Anthony would have been more than able to fulfill his duties at assisting Father Enfield and Father Macintosh with the Eucharist, the saintly Donny was not about to relinquish his role. So Anthony and I were the tapers and stood on either side of His Holiness during the processional as Father Mac preceded us with the incense and Father Enfield and the choir followed.
I had never seen a more beautiful site than Anthony Macintosh in his acolyte's vestments, his shiny black hair glowing in the candlelight, his face turned up at the altar in a look of holy ecstasy. By the end of the service, I was almost convinced that if such a beautiful and good person as Anthony could exist, he might just as well be proof of the existence of a divine force in the universe.
Over the next few weeks, Anthony and I were inseparable, riding our bikes all over town, swimming in Old Hunter's Creek, hanging at the library, harassing the soda jerk at Ben Franklin.
We would sit in the shade of Sunset Hill behind campus and read for hours, and, once or twice a week, sleep over at the other's house and love each other at night.
One Thursday afternoon, toward the end of July, Anthony and I were looking for a cool place to chill out and think. We decided to sneak into the church. After saying hi to his Dad and paying our respects to Checkpoint Charlie, we snuck into the sanctuary and sat in the choir. It was so peaceful and quiet. I lay my head on Anthony's shoulder as we sat and thought.
"I've decided I'm going to be a priest," Anthony whispered.
He paused. "Mum wants me to be a lawyer or a politician and change the world. But, the thought of sitting in the Commons or being a solicitor or a barrister just turns my stomach. I think I could do a lot more good working on one person at a time. Maybe be a vicar in some inner-city church in Liverpool or Manchester."
"You mean you might go back to England?" I asked, my heart stopping and my stomach constricting. Anthony looked at me and smiled.
"England's my home. It's where I've lived most of my life. I like America, now that I have you for a friend. But, England's my home."
"You can't go back!" I declared in a panic. "I love you! What will I do? You're my special friend!"
Anthony looked at me sadly. "Maybe we won’t feel the same way when we grow up. Maybe what we do with each other is really wrong and when we get older we won't do it again."
I didn't know what to say. I had been plagued with these doubts since that first day in my grandmother's basement, but I had never heard Anthony acknowledge that he had the same doubts.
Suddenly, I felt the whole world crash around me. Anthony was going to move back to England and he knew, as I knew, that what we were doing was wrong. But, I loved Anthony. I loved what we did. Anthony was everything to me now. He couldn't move back to England. We couldn't stop what we were doing. It wasn't possible that any of this could be happening.
And then I realized it was happening again. Every time I loved someone, they were taken from me. There really was a God after all, and he was punishing me for being a sick freak. First he took away my wonderful parents and my sweet brother. Now, he was taking away my only real friend. God hated me.
I looked away. I couldn't look at Anthony. My eyes fell on the altar.
I started crying. I was furious. Anthony tried to hold me, but I shook him away.
And, then I saw Mrs. Runnymede. She was standing in the door leading from the sacristy. And, she was crying.
I was stunned into silence. I would normally react in fear at the sight of The Guardian. But, I saw genuine pain in her eyes and I gasped as she came up to Anthony and me.
She wrapped her arms around me and held me close to her. Not even my grandmother had held me in such a motherly way. No one had since . . .
I melted into her and after we had both cried ourselves out, she reached out to Anthony and brought him into the hug.
"Let me tell you two young men a story," she said as she wiped her eyes. "It was during The War and I was assisting in the clinic at RAF Bluethorpe when a handsome young American pilot came through. There were so many handsome young American pilots, all so brave and confident. But, he was different. He was the handsomest man I had ever seen, so courageous and strong. He was a pilot of a B-24 that had been hit by the Nazi's and he had piloted it back home and crash landed."
I could not imagine Mrs. Runnymede either young or in love, or capable of passion. But then, I could never have imagined her capable of hugging two twelve-year-old boys, either.
"Well, as soon as the war was over, Walter Runnymede and I were married and he brought me home to the States and I've been here ever since. I lost Mr. Runnymede in a stupid, senseless motor accident, just as you, young Master Hughes lost your own parents. I know the pain you feel. But, Master Anthony, I never thought of going back. I love England, the gardens of Kent where I lived as a young girl, the beautiful cathedral in that other Canterbury where I worshiped with my family, the white cliffs of Dover where we watched the Jerries as they flew over to drop their hellish bombs on London. But, this was my home. I came to love it as much as England and you will, too, Anthony Macintosh."
Anthony looked down at his hands. Mrs. Runnymede brushed her fingers across his cheek.
"Perhaps," she whispered, "you may learn to love it as much as you love your friend."
We both looked up at her and saw tears in her eyes. She squeezed our shoulders.
"Walter and I had one son. Peter. He was a sweet and sensitive and intelligent lad who loved his mother and father. He loved his life, he loved his church. He was an acolyte in this very church, just as you two lads are today. There never was a better, more generous boy than Peter Runnymede."
She paused and removed her arms from us long enough to remove a hanky from her pocket and dab the tears from her eyes.
"He had a friend, a special friend, who made him very happy. They were both good lads and both served in this church. They both went off to Vietnam." She paused. "And, neither of them ever came home."
There were tears in my eyes as I tried to think of Mrs. Runnymede's son, a boy our age in the late fifties and early sixties, wondering if he felt the same fears, the same joys with his friend as Anthony and I did. I tried to think of that young man in the jungles of Southeast Asia. I turned to Anthony. He, too, had tears in his eyes. We hugged.
Suddenly, Mrs. Runnymede stood up and declared in her usual stentorian voice, "Young men should not be in the church without permission." And, with that, the Battleship Runnymede stormed out of the choir.
Neither of us knew what to say. We looked into each other's eyes, we smiled, and we stood. Hand in hand, we walked out of St. Andrew's.
I don't know what prompted us to walk north from First Street to Third, instead of down First to my grandparents' house. But, slowly we strolled along the tree-lined sidewalk, stepping over the places where the squares of concrete had been pushed upward by the growth of tree roots. The afternoon was incredibly hot and no one was outside. The only sound as we sought protection from the late afternoon sun under the shade of the ancient oaks and maples was the hum of the air conditioners in each house, struggling to keep up with the demands of summer.
Anthony and I stopped in front of a large three-story house with a cool looking tower and a funny, slanted roof.
"What an odd house," he commented as he examined it. "It would be such fun to live there, wouldn't it?"
"That's David Goldstein's house."
"Is it? Let's go see him."
"Listen," said Anthony emphatically. "We're going to be his friend. I'm ashamed we haven't seen him since that night at the fireworks. Come on."
But, just as Anthony was speaking, he heard David softly say, "Hi." We looked up and he was peeking out the window in the tower, waving tentatively.
"Hello!" Anthony shouted. "May we come in?"
"Just a minute."
And, momentarily, the jungle boy, clad only in his cut-off jeans, feet bare, his long, mousy, dirty-blond hair flowing down to his shoulders, appeared at the front door.
"Come in," he said, holding open the screen door. We entered the foyer and I looked into the living room to the right. It seemed both neat and disheveled at the same time. A strange, spacey-looking woman sat on the couch and smiled winsomely at us.
"How sweet of you to be Davy's friends," she seemed to sing. I didn't know what to say. Anthony smiled confidently.
"We're pleased to be his friends. And, to meet you, Mrs. Goldstein."
"Hmmmm" she seemed to sing as her head fell back on the pillow behind her and a beatific smile came over her face.
"Come on," David said as he began to walk toward the kitchen. "You want any sun-tea?"
I didn't realize how dehydrated I was from the heat and the iced tea was just what I needed. When we were finished, David commanded, "Here, follow me," and he lead us out the back door, through the mud room and out into the backyard. He pointed up at the apartments above the garage.
"That's where I live. With Stephen." And, he started walking toward a stairway on the side of the garage.
"You LIVE with Stephen?" I asked incredulously. "You don't live with your parents in the house?"
"Well, I suppose I officially live with them," he replied as he climbed the stairs. "But, since Stephen and I fell in love with each other, I spend most of my time here with him."
I was stunned. It took a great deal of effort, but I tore my eyes away from David's butt as he climbed the stairs ahead of me and turned around to look at Anthony with wide, questioning eyes. My friend simply grinned and shrugged.
As David opened the screen door and we entered, I was pleased at how neat and orderly the room seemed, far more so than the house we had just visited. It seemed to match the personality I had conjectured Stephen would have. David sat down on the chair at the desk while Anthony and I sat on the fold-out bed, which was neatly made. There was a model of a sailing ship on the desk.
"So," I asked curiously, "you and Stephen are in love?"
"Yeah," David answered as if it were the most natural question imaginable.
"Like boyfriend and girlfriend?"
David giggled. "No, silly. More like boyfriend and boyfriend."
Now Anthony giggled.
"But, what about your parents?" I persisted. "Don't they know?"
"Sure. They don't care. They like Stephen. They think he's a stuff-shirt, but they like him. They're happy he loves me."
I was completely blown away by this. And, I said so. David giggled again.
"Remember Mrs. Runnymede and her son?" Anthony said almost chidingly.
I thought for a moment.
"David—" I started.
"Call me Davy. I hate David. It’s what the teachers and everyone at school call me when they aren't calling me 'Freakle.' I really like Davy better from my friends."
Anthony squeezed my hand, right in front of Davy. I started to pull my hand away, then thought better of it. It actually felt nice to hold his hand in front of someone else.
"Davy," I continued. "Do you and Stephen, you know, like, do stuff together?"
Davy grinned. "Yeah! Its great! We build model ships and planes and stuff. We go walking around town together and go to the planetarium and the museum on campus. And we listen to his radio. Stephen loves classical music and he's teaching me all about it. I really like Mozart because his music sounds so happy and fun. And, we like to go over to the lake and cuddle and watch the sunsets. He's really romantic about stuff like that. He's the coolest guy in the world."
A part of me, for some strange reason, felt a little jealous of Davy, jealous that Stephen was doing that with him and not me. The realization of my jealousy hit me like a ton of bricks, but I tried to skip over it with my next question.
"That sounds really cool and Stephen sounds like a really cool guy. But, I meant, like...." I was starting to get the feeling and I was a little embarrassed to ask this question, but I had to know. "You know. Do you like, do stuff, in bed."
Davy grinned really big.
"Oh! You mean sex."
"Yeah, all the time. Stephen is so cool."
Anthony tugged at my hand.
"Why are you so interested in that?" he asked. My penis was hard as wood and the feeling was almost making me shake. I didn't know why I was asking. I suppose I wanted to know if Anthony and I were the only ones who did stuff, sex-stuff, like that. I couldn't articulate it, though. I merely shrugged.
"Don't you two do it?" Davy asked.
I hesitated and Davy added, "You are boyfriends, aren't you?"
My eyes must have gotten big, because Davy started laughing, as did Anthony.
"Yes, we are," said Anthony. I looked at him as if her were crazy.
"Well, we are," he said, looking at me smiling.
I had to shrug and admit, "Yeah, I guess we are."
"Stephen thought you were."
I wasn't certain I liked the idea that someone could tell Anthony and I were boyfriends. We all three sat and looked at each other until we each started giggling.
"So," I asked tentatively, "like, what do you do?"
Davy smiled. "We hug and hold each other a lot. Stephen loves to hold me and I love it when he does. He makes me feel so good. When he gets home from work, we usually sit on the couch or the bed and snuggle and hug and kiss. He's the best kisser in the world. And, sometimes, he like, beats me off."
"You know," he said, making a tube of his hand and moving it up and down. "Beatin' off." Suddenly, I understood.
"You two do that?"
"Oh, yes!" Anthony responded enthusiastically. "We love it. Jon does it so well! Sometimes it feels so good, I think I'm going to die!"
I blushed at this compliment as Davy grinned.
"Yeah. I love it almost as much as when Stephen sucks me."
Now, this surprised even Anthony.
"Suck?" we both said in tandem.
Davy looked surprised.
"Don't you two suck each other?"
We both continued to look at him with confusion on our faces.
"Your dicks. Don't you suck each other's dick?"
"Gross," I said with distaste.
Anthony looked distinctly uncomfortable at the thought, but he did not seem as disturbed about it as I. Davy shook his head.
"You two don't know very much about being gay, do you?"
"I'm not gay!" I replied indignantly.
"Yes, you are," said Anthony. "I know I am. I thought you loved me."
"I do, but...."
"And, you like to, well, you know...."
I was getting even more uncomfortable. Anthony put his arm around me and pulled me close. I was embarrassed, uncomfortable, guilty, and feeling very, very excited. I didn't want Davy to see us doing this, yet the feeling was growing so strong in me and the fact that Davy was watching made it seem even stronger.
"So," Anthony said in a near whisper, "how do you suck a dick?"
I had never spoken that word in that context and I had never heard Anthony say it in that context. It seemed strange, foreign, and incredibly exciting. My heart was racing; I could barely breathe, and my dick was so hard in my shorts, I thought it would break off. Davy was caressing my bare thigh and it was all I could do not to cry out. Davy could see how I felt. He was smiling and a flush came over his face as I noticed a very prominent rise in his tight cut-offs.
"Do you want me to show you?" he asked softly.
I couldn't speak. Anthony could only nod.
Slowly, Davy stood up. The rise in his shorts was quite visible now. Slowly, he unsnapped them, unzipped them, and dropped them to the floor.
I gasped. His penis was amazing. It stood up rigidly, halfway between horizontal and straight up. It was maybe three or four inches long and much fatter than mine or Anthony's. It had the cone at the end, just like mine. And, there were a few brown hairs at the base. That seemed strange to me. Nonetheless, as I looked at it, I thought I would get that explosion of the feeling, just as Anthony and I did after we rubbed our penises or rubbed ourselves together.
Davy's voice had a strange, husky quality to it.
Shaking, I obeyed, as did Anthony.
"Take your clothes off."
I looked at Anthony. His face showed a hunger I had never seen, a hunger I felt and knew we both had to sate. Slowly, I slipped my t-shirt over my head as he removed his alligator shirt. I kicked off my sneakers as he slipped off his sandals.
Davy looked at us as we both seemed to hesitate at the final step. He stepped forward and stood in front of me. He looked into my eyes, paused, and then dropped to his knees. He reached up, unfastened my belt, unsnapped the shorts, and lowered the zipper. I was almost panting, I was so excited. Anthony put his arm around me and then moved behind to hold me. He kissed my cheek as Davy hooked his thumbs inside the elastic band of my briefs and pulled them and my shorts down. As they fell to the floor, my penis snapped up. It was just inches from Davy's face.
His hand inched upward until his fingers wrapped around my rigid thing.
It was almost too much for me. And, then, I screamed. My penis was engulfed in the hot wetness of his mouth.
Anthony had to hold me as I nearly collapsed on the floor. The feeling was beyond anything imaginable as his mouth enveloped my penis. His tongue sliding slowly along the shaft, the heat of his mouth, had me crying and writhing.
"Stop," said Anthony as he let go of me. I fell back on the bed as Anthony sat back smiling. Anthony ripped his shorts off and climbed naked onto the bed, his penis rigid. He crawled between my legs and took my penis into his mouth. He was moaning almost as loudly as I was. Davy was rapidly rubbing his penis as he watched us. I could see Anthony wildly rubbing his own.
Then Davy climbed on the bed and said, "Stop."
Anthony pulled off. I screamed, "No! Keep doing it!" The feeling was too wonderful. I could not imagine ever stopping that feeling. Ever.
Davy pushed Anthony onto his back and crawled between his legs. A second later, Anthony cried out as Davy took his penis in his mouth.
Anthony was twisting and writhing wildly on the bed as Davy sucked his penis. Anthony looked over at me, saw my throbbing penis was just inches away and leaned over. I cried again as he took it into his mouth.
Davy was lying so that his penis was a couple of feet from my face. It was so fat and hard. I had to try it. I leaned over and took it into my mouth and Davy cried out as well.
There we were, three twelve year-old boys, in the throws of the most intense feelings our young bodies had ever known, wildly sucking each other, crying with feelings we had never experienced.
I was the first to reach that point beyond which nothing else was possible. Davy's penis slipped from my mouth and I fell back as Anthony's mouth caused the feeling to explode. And then, just seconds later, Anthony cried out. We both lay there panting as the most incredible feelings we had ever known subsided. Davy grabbed his penis and began frantically to rub it. Moments later, he, too, cried as a few drops of clear liquid squirted from the tip of his penis and landed on his tummy.
We all three lay in the most wonderful, blissful peace. Anthony had the most joyous smile on his face as he looked at me with love.
I was about to ask Davy what that liquid was that emerged from his penis when the super-feeling hit him, when I froze and with horror; I saw Stephen open the screen door.
"Oh!" he uttered as he, too, froze. He took in the sight of three naked boys on his bed, one of whom he loved.
"Excuse me," he muttered and turned around."Hey, Stevie," said Davy without moving. Anthony and I were frantically reaching for our shorts. I was absolutely mortified.