I'd remembered him taking the picture. It had been about ten years ago I think. He'd just received a new camera for his birthday and we'd gone out for the afternoon to the local park so he could try it out. The 'we' was me, Tim Campbell, my friend Eddie Connors, and my brother, Will.
Eddie and I had both recently reached twelve years of age. Will was my older brother by just over two years. Will had always tolerated me – no more than that, he loved and protected me and despite the difference in our ages he often included me in things he did. That was why he let us two tag along that afternoon. He'd been taking pictures of flowers and plants and trees – virtually anything that didn't move. He'd already taken a couple of photos of each of us singly and then together pulling faces and generally goofing about.
At some point though we'd both squatted down on the grass sort of knee to knee. I'm on the left with the fairer hair and wearing a blue hoodie. Eddie is on the right with the darker mop of hair that came right down his forehead and almost into his eyes and wearing a cheap blue nylon jacket. Eddie's clothes were always cheap. His Dad had walked out on his mom when he was about six and she had struggled to earn enough to keep the house together, put clothes on his back and food on the table.
And there I was with my eyes closed, sort of nuzzling my hair and forehead into his hair and smelling the shampoo he'd used that morning. I knew what it was as I'd given it to him at Christmas and it had a smell of apples and strawberries. He had his head half turned away as if he didn't want me to do it, but I knew that wasn't true because his hands were stretched out underneath mine gently tickling my stomach. Not enough to make me squirm or pull away, but just enough to make me feel happy at the contact.
Of course when the photos were developed Will had given me a copy and I knew he'd had an extra print made that he gave to Eddie. What I hadn't realized until today was that he'd had a third copy made which he had kept himself. As I didn't know he had it I can only guess at why he did and why he kept it all these years. I suspect he saw something there that I didn't know at the time.
So, how come I'm seeing the picture now? I suppose I've got to go to the end of the story in order to explain that, so you get the beginning and the end now and later I'll come back and fill in the middle.
Today was Will's funeral. It was carried out with full military honors befitting someone who served with pride in the US Infantry. He was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was blown up by an IED. Sadly, so were two other members of his platoon while a further three were badly wounded. It was his second tour of duty in Afghanistan; he already been awarded a Purple Heart on the first.
So his body was flown back to be buried in the town cemetery. To be honest I don't know how much of his body was in the coffin as the casket was never opened. I just hope they didn't leave any of him over there as he was too good for them. His casket, covered in the US flag, was brought from the funeral home by a hearse and conveyed to the grave by uniformed pallbearers. The service was conducted by a military chaplain and a three volley salute fired over the grave by the rifle party before an audio recording of 'Taps' was played. Of course the flag that had been draped over his coffin was meticulously folded as prescribed before being handed to our mother.
Once that ordeal, and that was truly how it had felt to me, was over, the family of which there are not many, and a few close friends came back to the house. Mom had asked me if I would deal with Will's room as she had felt unable to go into it. I was quite glad to have the opportunity to escape up there because I knew virtually none of the assembled company.
I also knew that, like me, Will had had a 'Treasures Box' when he was a kid; indeed I still had mine. I suspected that he might still have his and so it proved. I'd never looked in it before. We had always respected each others' privacy, but I knew where he had always kept the key hidden. I felt sure he would want me to look through it rather than our folks, so that was what I was doing when I found the photo. There were various other things in there such as his graduation certificate, a few school reports, some press cuttings from when he was the school's star running back, a few love letters, some special birthday cards and a few photos. Most of the photos were of course of him and there was just this one of me and Eddie. He'd written something on the back but it was in pencil and had faded over time. As far as I could decipher it read 'The star' or was there a 't' at the end of the second word?
Will and I shared a bedroom. He could have had his own as the house was big enough, but once I'd stopped sleeping in a crib with my parents and graduated to a little bed of my own that had been placed in Will's room. In my younger years I'd suffered a bit with nightmares and Will had always been there to console and calm me when they happened. I guess as I got older it would have made sense for us to each have a bedroom of our own. A few years earlier, after our parents suggested had suggested it, Will and I had a long discussion and decided it made more sense to use the other bedroom as a sort of playroom/study and continue to sleep together. I suppose by the time Will had become a teenager it would have made more sense to turn it into his bedroom, but I guess we'd become used to sharing and were both happy with things as they were.
One morning, not long after that afternoon in the park, I had a horrible shock when I woke up and I started to cry. It was still dark and I guess Will thought I was having a nightmare, although I hadn't had one of those for a couple of years. Having heard me he got out of his bed and after switching on the light on his nightstand, came over to my bed. He placed a hand on my shoulder.
“What's wrong Tim? Not a nightmare?”
I managed to stop my crying enough to answer. “No, I've wet the bed.”
Even when I was having nightmares that had never happened and I was so ashamed
that it could have done it now I was so much older..
“Hmm,” said Will with what seemed almost like a touch of humour in his voice, “I bet you haven't.”
“I have so. Look.” I pushed the comforter down to reveal the somewhat damp boxers in which I'd been sleeping.
Will put his arm round my shoulder and slid into bed beside me, ignoring my protestations that he'd get his own boxers soaked in what I'd passed.
“Tim, what you've had is a wet dream. It happens to all of us and is nothing to do with wetting the bed. Feel the sheet, it's not even really damp. Had you wet the bed it would be soaking.”
I was puzzled, but no longer worried. If Will wasn't bothered by what had happened then why should I be.
“But what is it and why did it happen?” I asked.
“Tim, can you wait for me to explain it to you tonight? We've got to get up soon to get ready for school so there isn't enough time. Just take those boxers off, go and have a shower and then put on a clean pair when you get dressed.”
I struggled out of bed and took them off. Standing holding them I looked at Will and asked him if I should put them in the trash.
He laughed. “No, Tim if you do that every time you have a wet dream it'll get very expensive and Mom will start asking questions about where all your boxers have gone. Give them to me and I'll put them in with my washing. It may even be time for you to start doing your own, or better still I can tell Mom we're going to do ours together from now on. What you think?”
I grinned. “I think I'm gonna have a shower and have a coupla extra lessons today.”
Will looked puzzled.
“You're gonna show me how to do the washing and then this evening your gonna give me a wet dream lesson.”
Will laughed out loud and gave my butt a firm slap as I walked towards the bedroom door.
“For someone who was crying his eyes out a little while ago, you sure are being a smart-assed little brat,” he said as I left the room.
After dinner that evening we cleared the table and did the dishes as usual. Then we went upstairs where Will showed me how to change my bed and we took the bedding and our dirty clothes downstairs and put them in the washing machine, before saying we were going up to our room. That was fairly normal as we used one of our rooms to do homework. Once we'd got in the room Will closed the door and turned the lock. Now we never locked the door as our parents would nearly always knock before coming in, so this had me a little worried.
Will walked over to his bed which was a couple of feet apart from mine and sat on the side facing mine.
“Come and sit opposite me, Tim.”
I did as he told me.
He let out a sigh. “Tim, what happens in this room tonight is just between you and me. You must never tell anyone else as they might misunderstand and that could cause problems for both of us. Do you give me your word.”
I was now really perplexed what was so secret about wet dreams that required this, almost oath, from me? But, I gave him my promise.
He proceeded to explain to me about wet dreams and the fact that virtually all boys had them as they reached puberty, which was what was evidently happening to me. He told me it was nothing to worry about and that in all probability they would stop in due course. Then he added that there was a way to more or less guarantee you wouldn't have one.
He stood up and pushed down his shorts and boxers, took off his t-shirt and sat back on the bed. Of course I'd seen him naked before but never quite like this, sitting opposite me just a foot or so away. I couldn't help but notice his dick which was a good couple of inches bigger than mine, his bigger balls hanging down and the hair where I didn't have any. He put his fingers in his mouth, got them wet and then placed them on the top of his dick. My eyes felt as if they were on stalks, even more so as he ran his hand down his dick and back up while it began to harden and grow. With a few pauses while he added more saliva, he slowly increased his pace until finally I saw his body stiffen. He groaned, and blobs of white stuff shot from the end of his dick to land on his stomach.
It took him a minute or so to recover. When he had he reached under his pillow and took out two washcloths. One he used to clean himself and the other he handed to me with a little grin.
“That Tim was masturbation. Or as it is more commonly known, jacking off, shooting or wanking. The white stuff is semen, but also has many other names. It is what you produced last night although yours would have been much more watery and thus why it seemed you had pissed yourself.”
It took me a long time to find out about all these things little bro and I wanted to save you going through that. But this was a once and for only. You're never going to see me jacking off again, although you might hear me, and I never want to see you doing it. Capische?”
I could only nod – I think. My brain was still trying to take in what I had just watched and learned. It took me some time to fully appreciate what Will had done for me that evening and to realize why it needed to remain a secret between us.
After he'd pulled on his boxers and shorts, Will had one more thing to say to me.
“Nobody really knows what triggers wet dreams Tim, but sometimes it can be because you are having thoughts about something or someone.”
I was sure I colored up when he said that and a glance at Will's face revealed a slight curl of his lip and a glint in his blue eyes that indicated I had. I'd remembered that I'd been lying in bed thinking about Eddie and after that the next thing I could recall was waking to this feeling of dampness in my boxers.
Eddie and I had been friends since our first day at school. He lived in the next street, but although I'd seen him around I'd not had anything to do with him until then. However, on out first day at school our teacher, Mrs Alvarez, had us line up outside the classroom and come in one by one. I was about the fourth to enter and on doing so she told me that every desk had a little card on it with our name and we should find ours and sit there. When we were all sat down she explained she'd sat us all alphabetically as that would make it easier for her to learn our names. In a few weeks, once she knew us all, she'd allow us to swap places if we wanted. So because our two surnames were next to each other on her list that's how we ended up sharing a desk. Who knows if Eddie and I would have become such good friends had it not been for that bit of good luck?
And good friends we did indeed become over the next few years. Especially so after Eddie's Dad walked out about a year later. From then on he spent a lot of time at our house, initially because his mom was out at work when school finished. But then he started to have dinner with us quite often. I didn't realize it at first but my mom was trying to ensure he did get a good meal some days.
It wasn't long after that when he started sleeping over on occasions. At the beginning he'd share my bed. It was a large single and we were quite small, but after a couple of years that became too uncomfortable, so my mom bought an extra mattress that went alongside my bed. It made the room very crowded at night, but Will never complained and seemed to accept Eddie as another brother.
That wasn't the case when I went to Eddie's for a sleepover. He was an only child so there were no brothers or sisters around and he had a double bed! Thus we had plenty of space to roll around on and have pillow fights. The only disadvantage of spending a night at Eddie's was that his mom wasn't much of a cook compared to mine. Still, it was only for one or two nights every week or two.
Eddie and I had similar interests. We both liked reading and got good grades at school. We weren't much into sport unlike Will who was good at all of them. But we were good enough to get by in gym so didn't get picked on when it came to dodge-ball. We weren't exactly inseparable and we did have other friends at school, but we did spend most of our free time with each other.
After that first wet dream I put into practice what Will had shown me. It did seem to work – more or less – as I only had one more during the next few weeks. There was only one problem. When I was jerking off I was nearly always thinking about Eddie. We'd seen each other naked countless times, but now if I got the chance, I found myself trying to catch a proper look at his dick to see how it compared to mine. I was though worried what he'd think or do if he caught me looking.
One Friday night I was having a sleepover at Eddie's. We'd watched a couple of horror movies before deciding it was time for bed. We always showered before going to bed and as usual Eddie went first. He seemed to be taking ages so I walked naked down the hall and into the bathroom. There was Eddie under the shower dick in his right hand stroking vigorously. Naturally my own dick sprang into life at the sight and I started to encourage it, at which point Eddie saw me through the glass of the shower cubicle.
Immediately I knew he'd seen me I turned round and started back towards the door, but before I got there Eddie opened the door of the shower cubicle and said the magic words - “Wanna join me?”
I didn't need no second invitation and that was the start of our sexual relationship. When we'd finished and got into bed he told me that he'd been wanting for some time to see if I was interested but couldn't think how to raise the subject. After much thought he came up with this idea, hoping I'd come and find out why he was taking so long and then how I'd react. Of course now the dam was breached and from that night on whenever we slept in his bed we slept naked so we could cuddle up close. Cuddling led to stroking and stroking led to kissing. It wasn't many weeks before we both knew the other's body very well and how to give each other pleasure. As far as I was concerned there was no greater pleasure than having Eddie stroke my dick.
It must have been a couple of months after that first occasion when it happened. Eddie was at my house for the night and just he and I were in the bedroom. Will was out with some of his friends down the park playing football or soccer. As far as we were concerned he wasn't likely to be back for an hour or more so we started fooling around on the bed. Suddenly the door opened and in came Will to find both of us naked and very obviously enjoying playing with each other. He shut the door and locked it.
“Are you two crazy?” he asked. “What if that had been Mom or worse still Dad coming through the door? What do you think would have happened then?”
We were both stunned into silence. I had a fairly good idea of what would have happened had my dad found us like that. I'd heard him often enough expressing his views about people of different colors, religions or nationalities but his views on those were tame compared to his views about fags.
“S..sorry Will.” I stammered. “We didn't think.”
“No, you damn well didn't. For fuck's sake lock the door if you are going to mess around with each other. I don't mind what you do, but you'd probably be a lot safer if you only did such things when you're at Eddie's place.”
We both sort of mumbled something in reply, got off the bed and went to start getting dressed.
Will chuckled. “Bit late for that now, although I would prefer it if you could at least keep your boxers on in future. I've been meaning to talk to you anyway Tim, so it's probably a good thing Eddie is here too.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Look, I've heard a few kids talking about the pair of you at school. They've noticed how much time you spend together; how you look at each other. Jeeze, you've even started to dress alike. They're beginning to call you twins, but if you keep it up they might come to a different conclusion. Just think about it and try to take a step back.”
With that he grabbed a towel and headed for the bathroom leaving Eddie and me to consider what he'd said. It did make a lot of sense and from then on we did restrict our activities to just when I was at his house. We did wonder how his mom would react if she found out, but Eddie was fairly sure that she wouldn't and even if she did she wouldn't explode. We did though try very hard not to test his theory.
As far as school was concerned we now made a point of not always sitting together when we shared a class, although we did always share the same table at lunch. However, there were other of our friends there and we did sometimes not sit next to each other – we actually found sitting opposite one another was just as good. We also decided to join, separately, a couple of the clubs at school. I enrolled for drama and debate while Eddie joined the chess club.
That meant we didn't always come home from school together. It seemed like a good idea until one winter evening when I got jumped on by three older boys. I was told they didn't like fags and cocksuckers and what was going to happen now was just a warning. Then I was punched and kicked. Luckily I was wearing a thick, quite long, winter jacket which absorbed a lot of the power of the punches to my body and some of the kicks when I was on the ground. But I did take a couple of punches to my face and knew when they ran off because they heard a car approaching, that I had a cut lip and almost certainly a black eye.
I hobbled home and luckily mom didn't see me when I came in so I was able to get up to our room unnoticed. Even luckier still, Will was there. I told him what had happened and he helped me to the bathroom to have a shower and then attend to my injuries. I was convinced nothing was broken – which proved to be the case – so it was a matter of applying iodine and arnica cream to the relevant places.
Will, naturally wanted to know who had done it and I, equally naturally, didn't want to tell him. In the end we compromised and he suggested some names. I wasn't too surprised when he came up with the right ones straight away because the trio involved were known bullies from the year above me. He told me he'd take care of them. I have no idea what he did, but they never bothered me again. That still left the problem of what I told my folks. In the end we came up with the story that I'd fallen down some stairs while leaving school. I'm not sure if they really believed that, especially Dad who wanted to take up the matter with the school. I think he saw the possibility of threatening to sue them and getting some money out of it, but we managed to talk him out of the idea.
And so life continued for the next few years. Eddie and I grew closer and what might initially have started off as 'friends with benefits' had turned into love. We desperately wanted to be open and honest about our relationship, but were scared of how our respective parents would react. In the end it was Eddie who took the plunge first. On the night of his sixteenth birthday his mom had arranged to take us both out for a meal at a restaurant. That was more or less a first for Eddie as on the rare occasions he and his mom ate out it would be at a diner. It was a very good meal and when it was finished we sat at the table drinking coffee. Hesitantly, Eddie said,
“Mom, I've got something to tell you.”
Mrs Connors looked at him, then looked at me, smiled and looked back at Eddie.
“I think I know what that is, son.”
Eddie looked both puzzled and worried. His mom stretched her arm across the table and placed her hand on his.
“Whatever it is Eddie, you will always be my son and I will always love you. If you were going to tell me you're gay, you don't need to. I've known that for the last couple of years. I also know that you're in love with Tim and I'm very happy about that.”
As she said those words she stretched her other arm across the table to place a hand on mine.
So there it was the deed was done. To find his mom so totally accepting was a major surprise. It simply couldn't have gone better. I now wondered how my parents would react when I told them, which I decided I'd do when it was my sixteenth birthday in about two weeks time.
We didn't go out for a meal to mark my birthday which wasn't surprising as we'd never done such things. Looking back afterwards I suspect Eddie's mom may well have arranged that with the intention of telling him she knew and approved of us whether or not he raised the subject.
Instead we just had a meal around the kitchen table, just the four of us. The only thing really different was the birthday cake with its sixteen candles. I hadn't told Will what I was intending to do, nor had I told him about Eddie coming out to his mom as we'd agreed to keep that just between us until I had told my parents. Thus Will looked just as puzzled as my mother and father when after the cake had been eaten I announced I had something to say.
I was expecting a reaction when I simply said, “I'm gay.” I had prepared a little preamble speech, but my nerve failed and that was all I could manage. Mom shrieked. Dad looked momentarily shell shocked before saying, “You're what?” in a loud voice. I repeated those two words and he simply exploded.
“Boy!” He'd never called me boy before so I knew this was big trouble. “Boy, you have two choices. We can go upstairs together and I'll beat this nonsense out of you with my belt. Or you can go upstairs on your own, pack your bags and then walk out of the door for ever. No son of mine is gonna be a cock sucking faggot and live under my roof, not even for one night. What's it gonna be boy? You've got about two minutes to decide.”
As far as I was concerned there was only one option. Will did try to talk him round while mom just sat alternating between sniffling and full crying. I was trying very hard not to start crying myself. I'd not expected my statement to be well received, but I hadn't expected this reaction - to be thrown out of the house with two minutes notice. I knew Will was wasting his breath, so I stood up and said I was going up to pack. After I'd been there a few minutes he appeared and asked what I was intending to do. I told him I was going to Eddie's and also explained what had taken place on Eddie's sixteenth birthday. Once I'd finished he used his cell phone to call Eddie, so I could explain to him and his mom how 'coming out' had gone. She simply confirmed it was okay for me to go there. Will helped me pack a couple of cases, put them in his car and drove me round there, saying he'd bring the rest of my stuff the next day.
And that, until today, was the last time I was ever in the house in which I grew up. Will came round and visited quite often before he went away to college. We also met him at the mall in town most weekends prior to him going away. Because of his status at school we were never picked on even though I think it was fairly common knowledge I had left home and was living at Eddie's house. It was a good thing I had delayed coming out to my parents until I was sixteen. At least at that age I could legally leave home so it wasn't obvious I'd been thrown out.
Eddie and I both graduated, but there was no possibility of either of us going to college. Neither of us were clever enough to obtain a scholarship and his mom didn't have enough money to pay for him, let alone me. With little job prospects in our small town we decided to move to the nearest city. There we were able to find work and rent a small apartment. It was also rather easier to be gay there than back home. We did go visit his mom as often as we could and we've talked about her moving here and perhaps buying a house together. That would be nice, but I think that is a few years away yet as we both have quite low paying jobs. Being a store clerk or a server are not high end positions. But the main this is that we are happy.
Will always came to see us when he was home on leave and we stayed in touch by email and phone. On a couple of occasions when I was sure my father wouldn't be there, I did call home to speak with my mom. She didn't put the phone down or refuse to talk to me, but the conversations were always stilted and meaningless. I always knew she couldn't go against my father's views but I had hoped she would mellow and accept I couldn't change what I am. I was thus slightly surprised when she called me and told me that I was expected to attend the funeral. I'd always intended to go but had thought I might have to stand separately in order to avoid them having to acknowledge my presence. Perhaps things will change now in our relationship, but I very much doubt it.
Today Eddie of course had come with me to the funeral, but stood some distance away. We agreed that would be best in order to avoid any confrontation with my father. Once I've finished here I'm going to his mom's place and we'll spend the night there, just like old times. Tomorrow, before we go home, we'll visit Will's grave so we can properly pay our respects and say a final goodbye together. So, the sooner I finish here, the better. I've just spent a good half hour thinking about the memories that photo brought back rather than getting on with the task.
There is just one more envelope at the bottom of the box. On turning it over I find it has my name on it in Will's writing. I open it and inside is a single sheet of paper. My hands start to shake as I extract it and read...
If you have got this far my much loved brother, you'll know I am not coming back and we are not going to meet again on this earth. I made my choices the same as you made yours. I have no regrets and I know you don't have either. You and Eddie were always made for each other.
Remember what I used to say to you when you were a little kid and struggling to do some things? Yep, that's it – 'Where there's a will there's a way'. My will and a certain other document is lodged with the family lawyer. You will find I have left everything to you.