CHAPTER ONE

The dream started the way it usually did.
David Sciuoto saw himself at thirteen, sitting at the piano bench, practicing a classical piece that should have been beyond him and would have for most children his age. But David loved music and it loved him back, and when the eyes saw the symbols they relayed the information to his brain and the brain forced the concept into the mechanical movements of fingers to create sound for the ear.
Some parts of the piece were difficult, but only because his hands werenít quite large enough for the rapid succession of movements over the keyboard. But that part of him that understood music took over, and he managed to keep a pace and flow that most his age would never have; that many older and physically more capable would never find. David wanted his fingers capable of producing the sounds as they were meant to be heard. He was good. Not good enough for the concert circuit, but good for a gifted amateur. He was happy with that.
David felt the hand on his shoulder-Griffís hand-gently rubbing him as he played. It made David feel uncomfortable at first, but heíd gotten used to it. That didnít stop his mind from shuddering even if his body didnít.
The large hand on the back of his neck began to rub slowly and began to glide casually down, splayed fingers stretching and gently in contact with Davidís ribs - barely touching - until the thumb slipped into the small gap between Davidís pants and the small of his back. The hand lingered, thumb inserted, a casual and unconscious thing.
David continued to play while Griff offered soft words of encouragement in his resonant, southern voice. Gradually the thumb began working up the material of Davidís tucked-in white shirt until a touch of flesh showed, and the thumb softly nuzzled the boyís back, toying. Then with an amazing nonchalance, the thumb somehow found its way under the elastic lining of Davidís white jockeys. The other fingers slowly moved from the boyís waist to spread over his buttock, and gradually begin to probe and fondle until they formed themselves and molded around his cheek, slowly kneading the soft flesh under the blue, wool-worsted of his uniform pants. David could hear the breath - harder, more strained. Mr. Robinsonís--Griffís--voice sounded raspier than normal. Griff usually had a slightly melodic, slow southern drawl.
"Youíre doing so well today, Davey. Really, youíre so much more advanced than most of my other students. I really think this is one of those days when you deserve a special treat - Danny Doucette's coming over and Iím going to team the two of you from now on, since you boys get along so well. Itíll really be wonderful, youíll see. Especially for recital dates. The two of you can stay here the night before so we can get an early start in the morning without disturbing your parents."
David stopped playing and sucked in his breath at the touch. He felt himself being drawn closer to the man almost three times his age, and his fingers left the keys when he looked up into the smiling face of Griff Robinson. Griff was thirty-six. David was halfway to fourteen. Old enough to know he shouldnít enjoy the feeling of someone -- another male -- touching him like that
The second hand slowly crept up Davidís white shirt, releasing a few buttons before drawing away the blue school tie with the school initials embroidered in gold. "Itís a good day for it, Davey. Itís a Friday, and Annaís at her sisterís for the weekend. In a little while Danny comes over for his lesson. I know you like it when Dannyís here, Davey. The two of you always look so handsome together-but I think you and I should have some time together first, donít you?"
Griffís hands trembled but his voice held steady as he undid the rest of Davidís shirt, and then slid a hand under the fabric to caress his thin chest. A thumb and forefinger tweaked a nipple, and David sucked in his breath; then the hand was withdrawn and David felt it tugging at the buckle on his belt. He liked the feel of hands on him. He wished Danny were here now though. Heíd rather have Danny next to him.
The hands gripped him firmly while they tried to work his pants open and David started to shake. At the same time he started to harden, his body reacting to a stimulus his mind told him was suspect. He wanted to run away, but the touch, the warmth of the handsÖ He heard a scratching sound at the door and looked up as it swung open and Danny stepped into the room.
Danny was Davidís age, but smaller and thinner, with non-descript brownish hair and eyes such a pale blue they were almost gray. He looked younger; his oversized clothes and odd haircut just added to the little boy look. David was scared of doing things with Danny when they first started, but finding out they were the same age made him feel better. David liked what they did together. More than he liked what Griff was doing. David shook. Danny looked at Griff warily at first but his narrow face split into a wide grin when he saw David.
David felt another set of hands on his right shoulder, shaking him. He hated it when Griff just grabbed. He lashed out, snarling.
"David? Whoa! Baby, are you alright?"
David Sciuoto slapped wildly at the hands as he woke up and his eyes began to dart around the darkened room. His skin felt damp, clammy. He saw Alan Curranís small, thin face instead. The imprint of a wrinkled pillowcase marked the boyís pale skin in the half-light created by the moon. Alan was scowling, rubbing the hand David just slapped. David was in shadows, and Alan couldnít see the fear or anger in Davidís face.
"Easy, Davey. You were drawn up tight in a ball again, and shakiní. Whatís the matter? You haviní another bad dream?"
Davidís eyes shot wildly around the room. He looked for a blond-oak upright piano and bench that werenít there, and a plaid sofa that opened out into a bed. But it wasnít a finished recreation room in the cellar of a fiftiesí saltbox colonial in one of Haverhillís post-war developments. It was his own bedroom, safe in the upscale Bradford district of Haverhill, Massachusetts. He could feel the strain in his muscles, and the sweat on his body suddenly felt cold. David uncurled himself with effort, trying to ease the tension in his back and arms, and stretch out his legs. He reached over and gently rubbed Alanís hand. "Iím sorry, Toto. I didnít mean to slap you."
Alan Curran shook his head. "I donít care about that. Whatís with you lately? Youíve been jumpy as hell for the last month! This is the third time weíve slept together since we went in for Boston Pride, and youíve done the same thing. Whatís goiní on?"
David shook his head. "Itís nothing, Alan."
He reached out and pulled Alanís small body closer to his own, his hands running briefly over his back. David felt the light tickle of the hair on Alanís arms on his own chest, the fuzzy pelt rubbing against his legs. He forced a smile. "Jesus, no wonder Iím sweating. Iíve been curled up with a hair rug again all night." He leaned in and kissed Alan on the mouth. Alan squirmed in closer to David, but swatted him on the buttock and David jerked his head up in surprise.
"Iíll smack that thing harder if you make another crack about the hair on my arms and legs. Just be satisfied thatís the only place it grows in heavy."
"So far, anyway," David said with a smirk, and plucked a hair out of Alanís upper thigh. Alan whacked his hand again. "I dunno, though. The day rolls around I have to use a hair brush on you before I can suck a nipple, I might have to go looking for a replacement." He ran a hand over the still boyishly smooth chest and tweaked the nipple just for fun.
In response Alan leaned in to kiss David again, then his body ground in against Davidís. He felt himself hardening against Davidís lower belly, and David stiffening against his own leg. Their positions shifted slightly and Alan spread his legs, and he felt a solid expanse of flesh sliding under, and something wet and hard tapping the tender spot where the legs joined, just before they split to form his buttocks. Alan wriggled against David even more to increase the pressure of contact. Their tongues searched deeper as their hands roamed.
Alan squirmed around onto his back, trying to pull David on top of him but David broke their kiss and pushed Alan away, shaking his head.
"Not now, okay?"
Alan released his breath theatrically and relaxed his grip, and fell back in a limp heap with his arms stretched wide, pounding the mattress with clenched fists. He giggled a little. "I hate it when you do that. Everything else about you says Ďgo for the gold!í, then you shut me down. íSmatter, thinking of trading me in for a new model?"
David ruffled the messy, shaggy hair, and tried to keep the nervousness out of his voice, affecting a calmness he didnít feel. "Nah. It was... it was just a weird dream, is all. And donít give me that look like youíve been deprived lately. Seems to me we had a good ride before we went to sleep."
Alan pulled the blanket back up to his chin, feeling a chill. David kept the air conditioner in his room on a high setting, claiming he loved to curl up under the blankets with Alan. "Thatís right, we did - with me on top again. I was hopiní for a little Ďpro quoí for all the Ďquidí I been giviní you lately."
David nuzzled in close to Alan, forced a laugh. "Youíll get yours in the morning," he said lightly.
"Iíd better," he grumped. "The bedpost is startiní to look good. Yeah, itís been that long."
They lay in the darkness, David listening for the changes in Alanís breathing. They lay front to back, spooned, Davidís smooth arm across Alanís boney chest. Eventually the level of warmth began to peak, and Alan subtly began to edge away as he slipped back deeper into his sleep. He turned face down into the pillow, his left arm hanging over the edge of the bed. Eventually the heavy breaths became deeper, louder, and David listened as they became a low snore.
David carefully edged himself away from Alan, listening carefully for the deeper sounds of sleep. Finally he sat up and swung his legs around, standing. He picked up a pair of green Joe Boxers with red airplanes and slipped them on, then slid his feet into a pair of cloth slippers with rubber soles and crept to the door. He eased out of the room, watching Alan for any signs of stirring then closed the door and crept down the hallway, and quietly made his way down the open staircase in the darkness. David didnít need the nightlights that were plugged in but left them on for Alan, who always slept too deep and spent the first half hour of every day in a fog, stumbling along.
David crept down the winding stairs and into the marble foyer then moved with more confidence once he crossed the threshold of the living room and onto the plush carpeting. He slipped through the living room and came to the French doors into what his mother called the Ďmusic roomí and his father simply as Ďover thereí. He tugged it open, holding his breath as he heard the sharp, metallic Ďchunkí of the ball catch, half afraid it would echo up the staircase and rouse Alan.
He paused, hands behind him pressed against the door, and saw it in the shadows. David walked softly up to the black-enameled baby grand, and ran his fingers over the smooth, cool closed top. He hadnít touched the instrument in five years, avoided this room whenever he could. He stared at the lid for a long time, his body twitching nervously, then carefully pulled the bench out and slid his body behind the keyboard. David tapped the top lightly and stared down for a long time, motionless, as much a part of the still shadows as the piano itself. He finally worked the lid up on its hinge and tucked it slowly into the recess, splayed his fingers over the smooth keys careful not to press down, then poised them as if to play. His eyes closed. He tried to remember what it was like to have music, to be its channel. He tried to imagine what it was like when Russell came by twice a week and the two of them would play and goof together as much as practice, and music was something fun in Davidís life.
Russell was a music education student at U-Lowell, picking up spending money teaching tortured kids the basics of piano. But Russell was animated and fun, and found in the then eleven-year-old David a miracle-a kid that not only liked music, but wanted to learn it and was willing to practice. The two spent hours together working on things, Russell encouraging David. Their lessons frequently ran over time. Whenever David was with Russell, he felt more like he was with a friend than a teacher. And Russell just plain liked working with kids and treated David more like a little brother than a student.
A few times Russell took David with him to music recitals at the university and introduced him around to faculty members and other students. The chairman of the Performance faculty even insisted that David play for him a few times. Dr. Rodderman listened intently, which scared David at first. But at the end the older man smiled, told him he was gifted and that Russell was doing well by him. Then he waved over a younger man whoíd sat a few rows back and introduced him as Griff Robinson.
"Russell will be graduating early, at the end of the fall term," he said in his precise voice. "Heíll be doing graduate work in New York, so youíll be needing a new teacher. Griff here is talented and isnít far from you; I think it would be a good idea for you both to get together."
David looked up at the tall, smiling man with brown hair and an easy smile. Griff spoke with a gentle southern accent and offered his hand and David saw his eyes were a deep brown behind the stylish gold-rimmed glasses. They spoke casually and David found himself drawn to the manís easy manner and soft voice. Finally Griff wrote down his phone number and handed it to David to give to his parents if he were interested in studying with him.
"I only live a few miles from you too. But I teach at home-it just works out better for me that way. Have your parents get in touch with me."
Russell was excited when they got into his old Ford Escort. "Heís damn good, Davey. He only takes about a half-dozen kids at any time, and thatís only for his own satisfaction."
David smiled up. "What is he, one of your teachers?"
Russell shook his head. "Actually heís an engineer at Raytheon or Sylvania, something like that - but heís also got a masterís in music. Plus heís big on setting up small concerts and things for different groups. Iíve heard him play, and heís good enough for the concert circuit easy, but he says heíd rather just do what he likes and doesnít want to have to travel." Russell sniggered. "Plus, Big Business pays a hell of a lot better and more steady than the music business. But he likes working with kids, and he only takes on a few that he considers promising." Russell reached over and pulled Davidís cap down over his face. "Heís not like me - torturing punks like you to get club money for the weekends."
Griff and Davidís parents met and worked it out. Two lessons a week, Tuesday and Friday, with Griff at his house. Griff did a lot of his work out of his home. He was a consultant rather than a direct employee of several engineering and technical companies, so his time was flexible. The Sciuotoís checked out his home and he brought them to his practice room in the basement, nicely finished as a recreation room and soundproofed to keep his neighbors from complaining. They met Griffís Russian born wife, Anna. She was quiet and nervous, but Griff was warm and friendly. Joanne Sciuoto was charmed. Albert Sciuoto liked the man, but still followed up the meeting with a few discreet inquiries about Griff and seemed satisfied.
Russell graduated a month later, and the lessons with Griff began.
For the first two months, it was all very ordinary. Griff didnít like to play around as much as Russell, but he was still easy to get along with and David felt he was learning more. Griff would sit with David closely on the narrow bench as he practiced. David would be conscious of the arm that frequently came up around him and rested on his thigh but dismissed it. Griff was just trying to make them both comfortable on the bench. Besides, he liked the smell of Griff up close to him. He liked the feeling of his hand resting lightly on his leg, and Griffís soft, smoky southern voice giving him instructions so close to Davidís ear he could feel the warm breath. Without realizing it, David found he would snuggle in closer to Griff whenever he could, and Griff never seemed to mind.
"I want you to do something for me," Griff said one day as they sat closely on the bench, and as usual his arm was around David. He squeezed the boy's leg. "I team teach most of my students, I think it helps them to learn. Thereís a boy Iím working with - Danny Doucette. Heís not very good, though."
Davidís forehead wrinkled. "I thought you only took on serious students?"
Griff nodded and smiled. "I do," he said in his low voice. "But-well, Dannyís a special case. Heís had it rough, and sometimes I like to help kids like him. Sort of my own Outreach program, I guess you could say. He isnít much good, but you could help him. And he needs a friend too, and thatís where youíre even more help. Heís a Pawtucketville kid."
Davidís eyes opened wider. Pawtuckettvilleís reputation was well known. It was one of the worst parts of the city, noted for its drug busts and violence. Whenever there was a killing in Haverhill, chances are it happened in Pawtucketville. David had never seen it or even met anyone from there, but he knew the reputation.
Griff smiled his broad, easy smile so wide it made the corners of his eyes crinkle, and spoke in his gentle voice. "I donít mean for you to hang out with him, although that wouldnít hurt. In a lot of ways heís like you. But he might learn more with a smart kid like you to help." He looked up at a small light flashing. David knew it was hooked up to the doorbell, which couldnít be heard in the soundproofed room. "Heís here now. Is it okay with you?"
David shrugged and nodded. A few minutes later Danny stood in the doorway, eyeing Davidís school uniform and seemed embarrassed by his own beat up clothes that sort-of fit him, just on the generous side of sizing. But David thought Danny looked cool, not poor. The baggy, oversized look was something he saw kids in but couldnít get away with in his school. And his mother bought the preppy clothes for him, not the street look. Today he was in his school uniform - blue pants, white shirt, and the despised tie. Shirts tucked neatly, or you got crap from the nuns. David tended to avoid crap if he could. Especially from nuns.
"Get acquainted, guys," Griff said, leaving them together. "We can catch up on Friday. Play with the computer, anything you see down here, okay? Just get to know each other. Stay as long as you like."
The door closed and they eyed one another carefully.
David thought Danny was cute, but didnít use the word aloud. David was thirteen and knew you had to be careful about what words you used when you talked about other boys. Faggots thought boys were cute. You might get away with calling a girl cute, but not another boy, unless it was a baby. But David saw Danny and he felt something leap inside him. He wanted to be Dannyís friend. He thought he was maybe eleven, but Danny was indignant when he said it.
"Iím thirteen, dude!" he leaned in to David and the scowl gave way to a smile and Danny giggled before he whispered, even though Griff was out of the room. "I even got hair around my nuts. Wanna see?"
David did but knew better than to say it. "Damn, youíre so small."
"Short aní skinny maybe, but not small where it counts." He grinned and jumped up, rubbing his crotch. "Sometimes small things come with big packages!" They both thought it hysterical, and David thought it was all a joke until Danny dropped his pants to prove his statement. David turned red and looked away.
"Ah, come on. All my friends check each other out to see how things are growiní. Donít mean itís queer or nothiní."
David blushed even more but looked. Eventually Danny coaxed David into showing his own sparse growth. He grinned. "Not bad, but I think I got you beat!" he crowed.
"Iíve got lots more hair than you," David shot back.
"Whoís talkiní about hair?"
Then they hauled their pants up and spent the rest of the hour playing games on the computer, switching the swiveled armchair for the piano bench and sitting in close together. David was very conscious of how excited he felt with Danny sitting in close to him. Danny was very much on his mind that night when he went to bed.
A few weeks passed, and after the first hour Griff would leave them alone. He made it clear to David that it was alright not to practice, because he wanted him to be with Danny, saying heíd be a good influence on him. And the two boys did get along well. David was starting to look forward to seeing Danny more and more each week.
Then one afternoon after Griff left Danny jumped up from the bench and flicked the lock on the door. "Man, I canít stand it no more. I was with a guy who had some hot sex mags before I got here and I got to get off!" He kicked off his beat up running shoes and dropped his pants and shorts, flopping down on the couch. David was shocked but watched, fascinated, as Danny started. Danny grinned up at David and patted the seat next to him. "Címon, dude. Join me!"
David flushed, began looking around awkwardly. "Maybe I better leave," he said, embarrassed.
"íS okay if you just wanna watch," Danny said and got down to business, which didnít take long. David watched, fascinated by the intense look on Dannyís face and his rapid motion - all the more so since Danny didnít seem to care that David looked or not. When Danny finished he cleaned himself off quickly and began talking about something, David was never sure just what. David nodded when it seemed like he was supposed to and made sounds while the other boy chattered. He kept an eye on the clock, and when the clock ticked the hour he jumped up and grabbed his coat.
"My momís waiting," he said breathlessly and fled up the stairs, barely acknowledging Griff as he raced out the front door.
"Hey, ease up," his mother said with a laugh when he jumped into the car. "Honey youíre all red and flustered. Are you all right? Thereís not something going around at school again, is there?"
David didnít respond to the question. "Mum, can we go right home?"
Jennifer Sciuotoís carefully plucked and lined eyebrows knitted together. "Itís Friday. Your father and I are going out tonight, so I figured youíd like me to pick up a pizza at Kings."
David shook his head, staring straight ahead and holding his book bag on his lap, careful to cover his crotch. "Uh, I can make a tuna sandwich later. Really, can we go right home?"
His mother shrugged. "Well, sure. But you usually love a Kingís Pizza." A note of disdain crept into her voice. "With pepperoni, pineapple and anchovies."
David refused to rise to the bait, so she nodded and aimed her Lexus away from what she considered a low-end neighborhood of cookie-cutter saltbox colonials and ranches where only the landscaping and the house numbers kept you from confusing one home from another.
Sheíd barely put her car into park when David leapt out the door and raced up the stairs to his second floor bedroom. He slammed the door and shot the lock, fumbling with his belt buckle and finally just shoving his pants down awkwardly over his knees and fell back on his bed, reaching down and furiously brought himself to a rapid release, the image of Danny on Griffís old plaid couch doing the same thing burned into his brain as he pounded.
David thought about it all weekend. Heíd seen boys naked before and liked to look, even though he knew better than to let on to anyone he liked to look. And the guys at school saw it as a mark of their manhood announcing that they could finally manage to ejaculate; a few even bragged about and displayed their pubic hairs in the boys room. But David had never seen anyone do what Danny had done in front himÖ although heíd imagined it a few times.
The more he thought about it, the more it excited him. David was forced to lock himself into his room a lot more often than usual that weekend, although by Sunday he was too sore even though he still felt the need.
Monday dragged by at school, and David counted the minutes to his piano lesson, and Danny. The first hour was the same as always, with Griff. Then Danny settled in next to him in the second hour, and Griff left them together. David waited desperately, hinting around to Danny that he really wouldnít mind an encore of the previous Friday.
Danny was cool, practicing his songs and chattering idly, seeming not to pick up on Davidís lead. "Just not in the mood," he said. "Besides, dude -- guys ainít supposed to look!" he giggled.
At the end of the second hour David left but not until his mother actually came into Griffís house to get him.
David was in a black hole of depression the rest of the week. Instead of anticipating the following Friday, David now dreaded it.
He and Danny sat next to each other. As usually Danny sat as close to David as he could, something David had come to like. Then he just stared at David.
"Youíre still thinkiní about it ainít ya?"
David sat back and blinked. "Huh?"
Danny grinned, held a closed fist up and pumped the air. "About me last week. Youíre still thinking about it, arenít you?"
David turned red and angry. "You sayin Iím queer?"
Danny just sat with his grin. Finally David edged away. "Donít sit so close, okay?"
Danny chuckled and put his hand on the inside of Davidís thigh, and David hesitated a moment or two too long before he pushed it away.
The chuckling increased. "Címon, Davey. Youíre like me; I know it. I can tell."
David shot him a frightened look. What did Danny know about him? Or think he knew?
Danny got up from the bench and walked over to the couch, stretching his legs open and patted the cushion next to him. "Címon, Dave. I know you want to. You get hard every time we sit close together, I looked. Itís just you aní me here. Whoís gonna know? We can do it together," he half pleaded. Then his eyes brightened. "Tell you what. Iíll even do it to ya, okay?"
"Do what?" David asked, confused. Then his mouth went dry and his eyes bugged. "You mean, jerk me off?"
Danny laughed first, then bit his lower lip. But his eyes showed no fear. "Yeah, Iíll jack itÖ for starters. But tell ya what -- if you jerk me a little after, Iíll suck it for you. I done it before, dude. Youíll like it. And you donít have to do it back either, itís okay. I like doiní it."
David stood, terrified, watching Danny playing with himself through his baggy pants, and his eyes glued on him. His throat was dry and he felt himself trembling. He eyed the door, satisfied it was locked.
"Honest, dude," Danny said solemnly. "Iíll never tell anyone okay? I swear! Itíll be just Ďtween you aní me. Aní like I said, you donít have to do it back - just jack me a little after, okay?"
Davidís breathing was heavy and his throat was suddenly dry. I mind raced. Itís a sin, he heard in his mind remembering Sister Elizabeth Redemptor explaining sin in Religion class at All Heavenly Souls School. Several sins, really. Thought, word and finally deed. Even thinkiní Ďbout wantiní itís a sin. Talkiní about itís another sinÖ Youíre gonna have to tell it to Father Morency in confession on Good Friday. And what if he tells Sister and she tells the class? I bet thereís an exception rule about this stuff in the seal of confession we donít know about. Thereís gotta be. They got all that stuff covered
Then something clicked in his mind. Well, you already got two sins to confess, maybe even threeÖ so whatís one more? And you can always go to another church before now aní the next Good Friday for confession. Besides, itís not like Dannyís gonna want you to do it back, so you ainít the fag here. And all the guys talk about jackiní, so whatís the big deal with that?
Then the clincher. And whoís gotta know you wanna do it?
David slipped off his black school shoes and fumbled with his belt. Danny reached up and began hauling down his zipper, and tugged the blue pants down. Danny laughed when he saw David spring out at full attention.
"Jesus, dude, youíre already leakiní," he chuckled, closing his fingers firmly. "I knew youíd be into this. I knew you was like me."
David struggled out of his pants, leaving them turned inside out with his underwear still caught in the legs as Danny pulled him down beside him on the couch after skinning off his own shirt and pants. Danny sat naked except for his socks and a leather string tied around his wrist like a bracelet. David was still in his white shirt and tie but Danny didnít seem to care and went to work on David, slowly working his small hand up and down. Then David reached over and gripped Danny, returning the motion awkwardly but thrilled at the feel of the stiffness and the heat. For a few moments he forgot about Sister Redemptor and Father.
Danny locked his eyes on Davidís, and the two of them were lost, enjoying the sensations. Danny was more practiced, but David made up for what he lacked in ability by eagerness to learn and the two boys worked into a rhythm together.
Then Danny pushed David back and dove down.
Davidís eyes rolled into the back of his head and enjoyed the sensations for almost thirty seconds before he realized it was almost too late and he jerked at Dannyís hair to pull him off before it was too late, but Danny fought the hands and stayed where he was, if anything increasing his efforts. Then it was too late.
They lay back on the couch. David was drained, and with a half open eye watched Danny finish the work on himself. He noted again that Danny really was bigger than him especially for a little guy, but then figured it was okay for nature to make up for shortchanging the kid in other ways. When heíd finished and used a wad of Kleenex to wipe up, Danny collapsed next to David and put an arm around him.
Danny giggled. "You taste great. Nice aní salty the way a guy should. But I gotta go."
Danny rose, pulled his clothes on quickly while David watched and left quickly. David fumbled with his own clothing, pondering what heíd just done and hoping Griff didnít come down the stairs.
Heíd think about what happened all that weekend, even at church on Sunday as he sat next to his bored-looking father in a pew. His mother was going to a special Mass that afternoon, so she hadnít accompanied themÖ something David was thankful for, since he skipped the Communion. His father did Communion at Easter, but whenever David skipped his mother always drilled him for reasons why. It would never occur to Albert Sciuoto to ask his son why he didnít go to the altar.
I liked it, a scared David thought, running the details over in his head, and somehow the thirty seconds of liquid fire wrapped around him became hours of writhing with desire on the couch. And I want to do it to Danny. That means Iím a fag. God, what if someone finds out? As he thought about it, he realized that the thought of being a Ďfagí didnít bother him so much as the idea that someone might find out.
The fear didnít last long. After all, it wasnít likely Danny was going to tell anyone what they did together.
The following Monday came, and Griff said he had work to do and couldnít sit in for the first hour, but that they should work together. David and Danny went through the motions, giving Griff enough time to get to the second floor home office in his house and they were off the bench.
Danny was ripping of his shirt. "I been thinking of you all weekend, dude. I been dying to do it to you again."
David had his pants off and was unbuttoning his shirt. "Well, this time is gonna be different alright, Ďcuz you arenít doiní anything to me."
Danny looked up, crestfallen.
"This time, Iím gonna do it to you!" David said eagerly.
Danny shook his head. "You donít have to, Davey - I told you. I like doing it. You donít have to if you donít want to."
David smiled, scared of the words he was about to say and what they meant. "Well, I do want to. And I donít know anyone I ever wanted to do it for more."
A faraway gleam came into Dannyís eyes, and his lips curled at the edges. "I knew it. I knew you was like me." The he jumped up and kissed David on the mouth.
David jumped back, but Danny laughed. "Oh, right. Youíre willin' to stick your mouth down there, but you canít kiss me?"
David started to giggle once he thought about it and leaned in to take his first real kiss, from either girl or boy. When they broke it off, he stood and held the smaller boy in his arms, stroking his hair and murmuring soft words to himÖ and then being boys with growing sex drives, they gave up on affection for physical pleasure.
They stretched out together, naked. David was cradling Danny, who seemed to crave the affection almost as much as heíd wanted the sex.
"I been wantiní to kiss you like that since I saw you on that bench the first time," he said happily. "Tell you what," Danny said. "Friday, tell your mum you might be stayiní a little later, that youíll walk or get a lift home, okay? Griff wonít bother us down here. We can do this all over, and I can take my time with you, okay? Maybe do it twice. But you better hurry, Ďcuz itís time your mum picks you up."
"Shit," David grumbled, checking the clock. He leaned down and kissed Danny on the cheek again. "Can I call you during the week? I mean just to talk on the phone. Gimme your number."
Danny shook his head nervously. "No way, dude. My familyísÖ well they donít like me gettiní calls, okay? Guys start calliní Iíll get whacked." He shuddered. "Everything pisses my old man off. And shit, if he even had a hint of what I like doiní with guysÖ" He shivered again. "Iíll see you on Friday. Just think of me at night," he said with a dirty little grin. "Just like Iím gonna be thinking of you, Ďkay?"
Dressed, David nodded, opened the door, and ran up the steps, yelling a quick "See ya!" to Griff. As usual, Anna was nowhere in sight. Davidís mother was waiting for him in the car. When he got home he sprinted up the staircase two at a time and shot the lock on the door the second it was closed.
David counted every second, waiting for Friday to come, in a state of constant arousal but fighting himself from Wednesday on not to satisfy his urge. All he could think of was being with Danny again. Friday was the slowest day of school David could ever remember. He caught the bus to the stop nearest Griffís house and walked the last half-mile quickly. Heíd already made an excuse to his mother, saying heíd catch a ride or walk. Griff waited at the door.
"Bad news, kid. I have that project I have to get finished, so thereís no lesson today."
Davidís face fell.
"But Dannyís already here, and you two can hang out in the rec room if you want - Iíll be in my office working."
David felt the relief he wasnít being sent home, and this was even better since it meant more time with Danny. He pounded down the stairs, and Danny was waiting, grinning. David grabbed him and their mouths glued together, and they began tugging at each otherís clothes. David got Dannyís pants down first and pushed him back on the couch. Danny demonstrated, and David learned something about foreplay. They continued past the regular two hours they were supposed to spend until they finally dressed, kissed one last time, and left.
Three weeks passed, and each time theyíd spend an hour with Griff, and the next was supposed to be them practicing together, but as soon as Griff left Danny would announce that it was time to change instruments.
Dannyís face always had that same bad-boy grin when Griff left. "Screw piano, itís time for the skin flute, dude!"
Then came a particular Friday. David again said heíd be walking home and his mother agreed. She knew David hung out with another student on Fridayís named Danny, but David didnít say anything about where Danny lived. His mother would freak if she heard David was hanging out with a Pawtucketville punk. But what she didnít know meant David didnít have anything to answer to, so his mother even suggested having Danny come over for dinner one Friday night, and maybe even sleeping over. Having Danny over for a whole night-even sharing his bed-sent a hot flash through Davidís body.
Danny was sitting on the front steps as David came up the path. "No lesson today," he announced. "Griffís got work. But he says we can hang out again."
They made their way to the cellar, and Danny eased the door shut before he came up to David for a kiss. They ground their hips together, David squatting slightly because of the difference in height so their groins rubbed.
Danny broke the kiss, one hand fondling David while the other fished in his pocket. He pulled out a white squeeze tube.
"Weíre gonna do something special, buddy," he said with a leer, handing it to David.
David looked at it, confused. "Whatís this stuff?"
"Itís called KY jelly. Itís a lube."
David still didnít understand, so Danny spelled it out. David went wide-eyed with horror and shook his head. "I canít do that! Wonít it hurt like hell?"
Danny shrugged, still grinning. "I can take it, donít worry. And you donít have to let me do it to you if you donít want. But I want you to do it to me." His face changed, and the grin changed to a pleading look. "Please David? I want you to feel good. Youíre gonna like it, I know you will. And Iíve, uh, tried some stuff before a couple of times. I know I can handle it." He ground his body into Davidís again. "Please David? For me?"
David licked his lips, looking into Dannyís pleading eyes. "We should have condoms," he said uncertainly.
Danny laughed. "You only gotta worry about that stuff if you done it before."
It didnít take David long, and Danny wrapped his arms and legs around David and began to clinch at him.
The second time took a lot longer, and David got into it more and found how much better it was when he took his time, looking into Dannyís face. Their eyes locked together, and Danny smiled up at him. They managed a kiss right before the end of round two.
David lay on top of Danny, exhausted. Then he took Danny the way he usually did, prolonging it as long as the other could manage. They dressed slowly after, and curled up on the sofa and flicked the television on. David cuddled up Danny in his arms. They both liked the cuddling after, and on Fridays they had plenty of time for it.
There was a sharp knock at the door and Danny sprang up to unlock it. Griff was standing there, smiling, holding a disk.
"Got something to show you guys," he said grinning. "This is a VCD Iíve been putting together. You guys are gonna love this."
He popped the disk into the DVD player and the three watched. David caught his breath.
"Iíve got you guys on three different angles doing it, including todayís little hump fest. I even chaptered this." He clicked the remote, and the next scene was David down on Danny, and the way Dannyís body was jerking it was obvious he was climaxing. Then Griff hit the remote again, and it was David on top. Again a flick on the remote and both boys were taking care of the other.
Danny was crying. David cringed. Griff smiled at them, his eyes shining slits, but his smooth, smokey voice filling the air. "I donít know how Davidís folksíll act if they see this stuff, but I know about Dannyís," he said pleasantly.
Danny cowered on the couch, tears streaming, his whole body shaking. "Heíll kill me... Jesus you know what a bastard he is, Griff! Please! Iíll do anything!"
"I thought youíd say that," Griff said slowly, still smiling. "What about you, Davey? I might not show it to yours... but Danny here, his daddy doesnít like him much to begin with. Imagine what he might do if he found out his boy wasnít just a queer, but a queer who likes gettiní his fudge packed? Danny says heíll do anything. What about you? Danny worth it to you enough for you to want to protect him?"
David looked at Danny whose eyes were streaming. David was scared of his parents seeing the video... but Danny was terrified. The smaller boyís eyes begged David. "Heíll beat the shit out of me, man. Heís done it before. Aní -- aní he hates fags."
David licked his lips nervously, taking in Dannyís terrified face and Griffís smug smirk. Griff spoke in his soft, low-key drawl as he leaned against the wall. "What do you say, Davey? You boys be nice to me, and Iíll be nice to you. You guys get to keep haviní a place to have some fun, and I get me a little boy loviní now and then. Plus pictures. I canít get really good close-ups of you boys with the cameras I got hidden in here, but I sure as heck can with you guys cooperatiní."
Danny was shaking, the tears still running down his face. "Iíll do it! Please Griff - donít tell anyone!" He looked desperately at David, his eyes pleading.
David was afraid of and disgusted with Griff. Part of him knew that video could cause Griff a lot of trouble... but another part knew it would cause Danny a lot of pain and suffering. He looked Griff over... the man was good looking enough, kept himself fit. And what he wanted from David was something that David enjoyed doing-at least with Danny. And maybe someone else as long as they were at least close to his own age... doing it with an adult scared the hell out of him. At thirteen, even a sixteen-year-old seemed impossibly old. Griff said he was thirty-six.
"What do you say, Davey? How much does Danny mean to you?"
David narrowed his dark eyes on Griff, hating him with everything inside for the fear he brought to Danny.
"As long as Dannyís okay with it, Iíll do what you want," he said tersely.
Griff smiled again. "Yeah, I had you pegged for the hero type. But itís okay. This is gonna work out just fine. You still get Danny, and I get what I like, too. Now, strip down again boys. I want to get some close shots of you two doiní what you like to do. After that you can go, David." He pointed to Danny and licked his lips. "But you stay."
It went on that way for four months.
The music lessons became no more than fantasy sessions for Griff, where he began to Ďseduceí David slowly at the piano bench. Then Danny would show up, and the three of them would strip. The first few weeks Griff ordered them to do things different ways to each other while he snapped either stills with an old Polaroid camera or recorded the action for later. David never knew, never asked what Griff did with them.
At first it wasnít too bad. David tried to get into it with Danny and ignore Griff. Danny wouldnít talk about what happened when David left and Danny was told to stay, but David had a good idea. He didnít push for details. When they were left alone together, they never had sex anymore. David would just hold the frightened Danny and tell him it would be okay.
Then one afternoon Griff kicked it up a notch.
David and Danny were into a long, agonizingly slow session on open convertible couch, demanding awkward positions while he recorded.
Finally Griff put down the camera and stripped down. He slipped into the bed with them and told them what he wanted done. David held back, but Danny did what he was told and David knew without any lingering doubt what happened to Danny after he was sent home.
David gave in to what was wanted, his body following directions with little enjoyment for what happened. As usual Griff never pushed David to do much. Danny always serviced Griff, and then Griff would please himself by switching his attentions to relieving the boys. If it werenít for the fact that Danny was with him and touching him, David knew he wouldnít even have been able to maintain an erection.
When it was over, Griff leaned back, smiling. David pulled to the farthest corner of the couch-bed, and Danny just lay where Griff had left him, limp.
"I talked to your parents about a special treat for you boys. Thereís a recital in Boston on Saturday-and your familyís have agreed to let you boys goÖwith me. Even better, they say you can stay the night. Isnít that great?"
Danny never reacted, and David just nodded. He knew he couldnít get out of it.
Friday.
They had a long, involved session with Griff snapping away and David trying to force his attention only to Danny. It was a different kind of Friday afternoon. David was sure there would be more than "the usual" stuff.
David focused on Dannyís face. When he looked down, David saw a scared, pinched face looking up - tiny Danny, eyes wide and his mouth open, staring dumbly up at David, telling David it was alright.
"Iíd rather it was you than Griff," Danny would whisper, looking up at David with trusting eyes. "Please go slow, David. He wonít touch me Ďtill youíre finished."
And Griff on the sides with his Polaroid, snapping photo after photo of the two boys, encouraging them, cooing in their ears about how beautiful they looked together.
Griff pushed David off the smaller boy and picked up Danny and rearranged him on his hands and knees with David underneath. When Griff felt heíd taken enough pictures, both boys pretended not to notice him stripping down. When he was naked Griff came up behind Danny.
David heard the small boy squeal in pain and go rigid. His eyes bugged for a moment, then clenched, and finally they opened again, a distant look came in them. They were dull, gray pebbles.
"Keep that smile on his face, Davey," Griff said in his soothing tone. "Itíll be easier for him if you keep him busy. You want to make it good for him, right David? Heís smaller than you are, weaker. Youíre supposed to take care of him."
It took Griff a long time that day. Danny stopped making sounds long before Griff finished, and his head hung down limp. Griff pulled out of Danny and told both boys how wonderful they were together and pulled on his pants, all smiles, and said he was going to get them some sodas and special treats.
The door closed and Danny jerked himself up, tears dried on his face. He leaned forward and grabbed David.
"You got to get out of here, okay? He wants you tonight like he just had me, he told me. Plus heís got some friends coming over."
David blinked. "I donít get it. Old guys like him?"
Danny jumped to his feet, and started gathering up Davidís clothes, tossing them to him. David was happy to feel his cotton briefs back on him and started pulling on his socks.
"Yeah, old guys like him, and older. They been here before, when I stayed here after you got sent home," the boy mumbled, trying to avoid looking at Davidís face. "Thereís gonna be two of Ďem. And theyíll have kids like us with them. Other boys. Oneís about sixteen, aní heís cool. The other oneís in between but heís an asshole. Heís only a year olderín us, but heís way big down there, lots bigger than you or me. He likes it to hurt when he does it with other kids. Not like Griff hurts just Ďcuz heís bigger, this guy just likes it to hurt someone else. Get dressed, Davey," Danny said breathlessly, eying the door. "Get dressed, get out, and donít come back. Ever. If he calls you at home, tell him youíll rat to your dad. Donít believe nothiní he tells you. And donít let him use me anymore to scare you into coming back. Now get out."
"Where the hellís his wife, Anna?" David muttered, not for the first time and pulling on his pants. "Jesus, how can this shit go on every time weíre here when heís married?"
Danny tossed the last of Davidís clothes to him and stood naked, staring at David, his face white with fear. "Annaís just a cover... sheís from Russia aní she only married him soís she could become a citizen-they gotta be married for five years. Well, the five years is up, she got her paperwork and moved off." Danny looked impatient. "Please, David. Get out while you can."
David shoved a leg into his pants, then tried to force his feet into his shoes without unlacing them. He pulled on his tee shirt but not his white school shirt. He couldnít see his tie but he didnít spend any time looking for it.
"What about you, Danny? Why donít you come with me! I can get my dad to protect you. You donít have to be scared."
Danny shook his head but pulled on his shorts again and nothing else. "Thereís reasons," Danny said sadly. "I canít tell you why, but I got to stay."
David was nervous, looking around. "What about the other guys he teaches? I know thereís four more besides us."
Danny shook his head. "Theyíre legit, they only come here for lessons. He says their window dressiní. It used to be just me but -- but he had a feeliní about you. He-he said he already had me figured out, and used me to test you-he watched us with his cameras. Then I went down on you and you wanted to go down on me, so he knew you was a queer too. Even if you didnít wanna do stuff with him, heís gonna make ya... and when you agreed to do it, well -- heís got it all planned now, Davey. All of it."
Danny looked furtively around, pulling a sheet around his waist while David rushed to finish dressing, He swallowed hard. "Iím sorry, Davey. He told me last week, aní I -- I thought maybe heíd leave me alone. But he wants us both now. He told me the others are cominí again tonight, and -- and I canít let it happen to you. I donít want you windiní up like me."
"What do you mean, like you?"
Danny spat the words out. "A fuck toy for old pervs, Davey. Cuz thatís what I am now."
David tried to grab the thin teen by his arm, pull him closer. Danny looked so small, so helpless. "Whatís gonna happen to you, Danny? I mean, your father and everything. Will he tell him?"
A flash of dark anger spread over Dannyís face and he slapped the hand away. His lip curled as he shouted at David. "Donít fuckiní touch me you cocksucker, okay?" He rasped savagely and sprung back, glaring. Then he relaxed, his breathing slowed and he hung his head.
"Iím sorry," he began, his voice quivering. "Iíve-Iíve known what he was gonna do tonight for a week now aní I didnít say nothin... You been set up Davey," he said, with tears running down his face again. "I helped set you up but I canít go through with it! Now please! Just get the fuck out of here!"
David stood horrified, staring at Danny. Then they looked up sharply. Griffís footsteps were coming down the hall. He was heading for the cellar door.
"Just go, David," Danny whimpered. "Donít worry about me, okay? Iíll be alright, honest! But you gotta get out of here. Just donít tell, okay? Donít tell no one what goes on here! Ever! Iím dead meat if you tell! Run out the bulkhead door at the other end of the cellar, I know itís open. Go!"
David grabbed his school bag and charged through the door, running for the bulkhead that lead out of the unfinished part of the cellar. He twisted the metal dead bolt on the door as he heard the heavy footsteps noisily coming down the wood stairs of the cellar. He saw Danny at the door of the finished room, naked, his eyes wide, a look of fear on his face and David fought back the urge to go back and drag the boy out with him. Then Danny slammed the door shut and Griff quickened his pace down the steps.
David ran.
He shot out of the hole in the cellar foundation and out through the small yard, and ran as fast as he could. He heard a voice behind him, knew it was Griffís, but he wouldnít look back. When he couldnít run any more, he stopped to catch his breath. His eyes darted to every car as it passed, making sure it wasnít Griffís. He saw a black Honda Prelude turn down the street that seemed like the right year and his heart fluttered, but there was a woman behind the wheel heíd never seen before and David breathed with relief.
It was a slow walk back to his part of Haverhill. He debated going to his fatherís office instead - the old downtown was actually closer - but David decided too many questions would be asked. The long walk gave him time to calm down, and think through his story. He walked into his house two hours later, and heard his mother in the living room, told her the recital was cancelled, and ran up the stairs to his room. He locked the door, something heíd begun doing more and more over the last few months, but for a different reason. He huddled on the floor a long time, shaking now that he was out of sight. He eyed the phone on his desk next to his computer, hesitated, then picked it up out of the cradle and punched in a number.
Griffís voice.
"I ainít cominí back," he said gruffly. "If you try anything, Iíll tell my dad what you did to me aní Danny. If I ever hear Ďbout Danny gettiní hurt, Iíll tell everybody what you do to your students. Donít never call here, got that? Iím telliní my parents you donít have time for music lessons no more. Now stay away."
David slammed the phone down gasping for airÖ then started to cry.
David sat at the piano bench in his motherís dark music room, thinking of that late June afternoon now a little more than five years ago. Griff never did call the house, and David heard how heíd stopped giving lessons from another of the students he faintly knew. David refused to practice after that day or any other since, and question him as they might, David was stubborn and refused to talk about it with his parents.
"Musicís just faggy," he told them. "Iím sick of kids laughiní at me Ďcuz I play piano."
They stopped asking after awhile. Albert Sciuoto watched his son closely thinking the boy was having troubles with a bully at school, but saw no signs of any physical assault and passed it off as just part of David growing up. His mother hated that David gave up music and watched him closer; but sheíd begun to see signs of something else she suspected, and thought that being called Ďfaggyí was closer to the real problem for good reasons, but didnít want to say anything. She reasoned Davidís new attitude was from something she didnít want to know about, so she wasnít going to pry.
David went about his life, trying to look and sound happy. He knew a lot of people and stayed friendly, but he never let anyone get close after that.
He buried the whole question of his sexuality deep in the back of his head. He dated girls, looked at boys, but didnít want to think about it and wouldnít act out again until the summer before he turned eighteen. But sometimes if someone reached out and grabbed him unexpectedly to get his attention, a rage would run through David and heíd lash out at them although heíd recover quickly. He tucked the memories of his afternoons with Griff and Danny into a deep, dark cave in his mind, sealed the entrance behind a rock then ignored the existence of the rock.
But each night for two years, he combed through the paper, looking for the name of a Danny Doucette, and talked to a kid he knew whoís mother was a duty nurse in emergency admissions at Haverhillís Hale Hospital to be sure he hadnít been admitted. David satisfied his classmate by telling him Danny had grown up abused, and that was enough. His friendís mother never held back on the subject of abused children when she came home.
Each time David rode with someone in a car and he happened to be on Griffís street, heíd eye the white saltbox warily until six months later, when he saw the windows empty and a realtorís sign in front. The problem moved away, and David relaxed.
So he told himself to forget. And did forget.
Until a few weeks ago.
He, Alan and Chris took young Martin along into Boston for the day, for the Gay Pride parade. After the parade everyone gathered at the Esplanade along the Charles River for the fair and an afternoon of music and speeches. It was a good day, especially for Martin. They knew the boy was lonely.
The others wandered off, and David went to get something to drink, telling them where to meet and headed for the food vendors. Thatís when the rock disintegrated and the cave opened, and the wraiths of the past flooded out.
Danny.
Danny still looking impossibly small and childish, his hair died blond and dressed in oversized clothes that made him look even younger. He was no taller than Alan, and a lot of people thought Alan was only fifteen because of his size even though he was close to his eighteenth birthday.
Danny wasnít alone, either. He was with an older and heavier Griff, who held onto Dannyís hand like he was a little boy.
David forgot about being thirsty, and fled. He was silent for most of the day, but everyone was distracted by Martinís jumping around like the kid he was and just figured David was getting tired, even Alan.
David shifted on the piano bench, gently fingered the keyboard, and listened to the small note linger in the air for a moment before he closed the lid on the piano again, then leaned his face down on his arms and wanted to cry. He wanted to cry in deep, jarring gasps. He wanted to cry for himself, for Danny, and even the lost music he loved.
"I always thought you got away when he moved," David murmured, dry eyed but trembling because the tears wouldnít come. "Jesus... why didnít you come to me? Why did you let him keep using you? And why didnít I get you out of there?"
When the tears still wouldnít come after the long wait, David stood and slipped silently from the room, again flinching at what he thought must sound like a thunderclap as the catch on the French door slid back into place. He walked stealthily into the kitchen, splashed some water on his face, and took a drink. He returned to his bedroom after that, looking down at what he could see of Alanís head peeking out from under the covers. He hesitated, not certain if he should slide in or prop himself in the chair.
David fought away the shudder and slipped between the covers. Alan immediately turned into him, rolled over, and nuzzled his head against Davidís chest. He made an odd smacking sound with his mouth -- nothing new, David thought with a smile -- and David put a protective arm around Alan, drawing him closer. Betterín the damn snoring. But Alanís so small... like a little kid. Jesus, is that why Iím drawn to him?
He fought the idea back, hoped sleep might come soon but saw the first glimmering of dawn reflecting off the windows before finally dropping off.
David dreamt of being with Alan. But in the dream, Alan suddenly became a little boy, maybe eight or nine, and David saw himself as an older man.
And Alan kept looking up at him, afraid.