Justin is accused of doing something he says he didn't do.
Will he be cleared, or will he be found guilty?
We left for Ryan’s house for dinner and the talk with his folks about our Tuesday and Thursday night ‘study’ sessions. I was nervous, worried whether the subject of Ryan and me sleeping together in his bed would come up. Maybe they’d have me sleep in a guest bedroom. That would really suck.
“I’m going to stop at the Bottle Shoppe and get a bottle of wine to take as a thank-you for the meal tonight,” Dad said. “Did you tell me that Ryan’s mother is fixing fried chicken?”
“Uh-huh. It’s really good fried chicken, too. She doesn’t actually fry it; she puts some sort of crumb coating on it with spices then bakes it in the oven, so it’s not greasy at all.”
“What kind of wine are you getting?”
“A white wine, either a Chardonnay or a Viognier.”
“What’s that ‘huh’ mean, Justin?”
“Just that I don’t know anything about wine and that time when you let me taste it I didn’t like it much.”
“Enjoying wine is something you can grow into as you get into your twenties. Beer, too.”
“Enjoying beer will never be something I’ll grow into. As far as I’m concerned it’s just plain nasty tasting. It made me burp when granddad let me taste some of his last summer.”
“It’s best to skip drinking alcoholic beverages until you’re older.”
“I agree with that,” I replied.
We pulled into the parking lot in front of the Bottle Shoppe. ‘Why do stores have to get cutesy with these old English names like Shoppe?’ I thought. ‘Dumb, if you ask me. Of course, nobody would be asking me.’ I couldn’t turn on the radio because Dad took the car keys with him. So I just leaned back and shut my eyes.
She’d seen him last summer, then recently around town from time to time. She would have talked to him if she hadn’t been so shy. He was very cute. Whenever she looked at him it made her get a tingling sensation.
Saturday morning her folks left for Nevada to visit her mom’s mother who lived in Carson City. They wouldn’t be back until Sunday afternoon. So she took the bus downtown to the Broadway Plaza mall. She bought a small frozen yogurt and sat on a bench in front of the shop, paying attention to her cone, licking the dribbles so they wouldn’t get on her clothes. Someone sat next to her, and she turned to see who it was. ‘Oh my god,’ she thought, ‘it’s him!’
“Hi,” he said and smiled.
‘What a great smile!’ she thought. “Hi,” she replied.
“I’ve seen you around,” he said. “I’ve wanted to say hello but I’m… well, sort of shy. Today when I saw you sitting here alone I decided to just go ahead and… well, say hi.”
She grinned. “Me too. The wanting to say hello and being shy parts.”
He laughed. “So we’re the same that way, aren’t we? Being shy, I mean.”
“I think so,” she replied.
“I know your name,” he said. “It’s nice to sort of unofficially meet you.”
“And I know yours, too. And it’s really nice to unofficially meet you, too.”
“You waiting for friends?” he asked.
“No, just hanging around. Nothing else to do today. I’ll take the bus home later.”
“How about we walk over to California Pizza Kitchen and split a small pizza. If you want too, that is.” He blushed.
“Sure,” she said. “Let’s go Dutch and split the cost.”
“That’s so sad,” he said.
“Why?” she asked.
“I thought it would be more like a date if I paid for our lunch.”
She grinned and wiggled her eyebrows. “So you wanted to take me out on a date?”
“Uh huh.” He blushed again.
“Okay, let’s say that you’re taking me out on a date, but we’ll split the cost of our lunch.”
“Okay, if you insist,” he responded with a smile. He stood and put out his hand to help her up.
“Let me throw this away,” she said, and she dropped what was left of her frozen yogurt into a trash container.
“Can I hold your hand while we walk?” he asked.
“That doesn’t make you seem like you’re shy,” she replied. She grinned at his disappointed expression. “But the answer is yes, I’d like to hold hands with you as we walk.”
‘Oh my god,’ she thought, ‘that sure doesn’t make me sound shy either.’
“It doesn’t seem like you’re very shy either,” he said. That made her laugh. “What’s so funny?” he asked.
“That’s what I was thinking. But it really feels nice holding hands with you.”
He took a deep breath and smiled. “That’s exactly what I was just thinking. The part about holding hands feeling nice.”
While they ate their pizza they chatted about school and what they liked to do. The conversation was a little awkward, and maybe a little embarrassing, since they were two shy teens just getting to know each other. When they were finished and ready to leave, he took a deep breath and asked, “Do you have anything you have to do now?”
“Would you like to see a movie? If you say yes, then I’ll buy our tickets. My treat. No argument. And if it’s okay, it really will be a date.”
“Okay. I’d like that.”
When they got to the theater he asked, “What would you like to see?”
“I don’t care.”
“How about something that won’t be crowded?” He squeezed her hand a little. That made her feel the tingling sensation even more. She shivered a little.
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea, a very good idea,” she said.
‘What am I doing?’ she asked herself. She looked at him. ‘Actually, I know exactly what I’m doing. Mom would be shocked.’
He pointed at a poster. “Look, there’s a Swedish movie with subtitles. The poster makes it look dark and boring. Sounds perfect!”
She laughed. “Uh huh. Let’s do it!”
They went inside and he bought them each a small Coke and one small popcorn to share. “Is sharing a small popcorn okay? I mean, four bucks for a small bag is highway robbery. That’s something my dad says all the time.”
“I’m still full from the pizza. I’ll take a little and you can finish the rest.”
“Okay,” he said. “You want to sit in the back row?”
They moved to the middle of the back row and sat down. “Looks like we’re about the only ones here,” she commented.
The film was dark, but not as boring as they’d expected. It had some full frontal nudity. She wondered how at fifteen years old he was able to buy tickets for a film that had naked people in it.
“You ever see a naked guy like that?” he whispered.
“No. It’s sort of interesting,” she whispered, “except for all that hair on his body. Are all men like that?”
“No. For sure I’m not, just in my armpits and my pubes,” he replied.
She giggled. “That girl sure has lots of pubes, too.”
“I know. The guys at school call that a bush and now I can see why.”
“Girls call it that, too.”
He put his left arm around her shoulders. “Is it okay if I put my arm….”
She interrupted, “Yes, it’s nice.” She reached down and raised the armrest, then scooted to her right so they were pressed together. “I think this is nicer.”
“I think it’s nicer, too,” he said.
They sat like this for a while and the film got boring — there wasn’t any more nudity.
She put her right palm on his left leg. “Is this okay? My arm was getting stiff.”
After about ten seconds he replied, “Yeah, it’s okay. I’m getting stiff, too.”
“You want to move your arm off my shoulder?” she asked.
“That’s not what I meant.”
She thought about what he said, then let out a combination of a gasp and a giggle. “Oh!”
The film finally ended.
As they walked out of the theater she asked, “Would you like to come to my house and hang out for a while?” she asked.
“My folks are gone until tomorrow afternoon. There’s no one at home.”
Now he let out a combination of a gasp and a giggle. “Oh!”
After several seconds of silence, he asked, “What did you want to do?”
“I’m sure we can find something interesting.”
“If you want.”
“Can you stay late?”
“I’ll call my folks and tell them I’ll be staying with one of my friends playing video games. I do that a couple times a month, so it’s no problem. And they never check. How do we get to your house?”
“We take the bus that goes to Larkey Park. We live near there. You have a bus pass?”
They held hands on the way to the bus stop.
I woke up when dad returned to the car.
“They were having a sale. Buy one bottle of wine get a second bottle of the same kind for five cents.”
“Whoa, that sounds like a good deal.”
“It is. Now I have a bottle for Mr. and Mrs. Lerner and one to take home.”
“Is one bottle going to be enough?”
“For me it is because I’m only going to have one glass. I’m driving, and I don’t want to be picked up on a DWI charge.”
“Is that because you’re an attorney?”
“It’s because I don’t want to be driving while intoxicated — ever. And you should remember that as an important rule.”
“You won’t have to worry about me. I see films where people are drinking and they lose control of themselves. I never want to lose control of myself. No booze and no drugs for me.”
“It’s easy for you to say that now, when you’re fifteen years old. When you’re older you’ll have friends who will drink and there’s a lot of peer pressure to join in.”
“I have pretty strong willpower. I can drink sodas while they drink beer or whatever.”
“Good for you, Justin. I’m proud of you.”
“That’s their house up there on the left with the outside lights on. Ryan told me you can pull into their driveway and park.”
The dinner was wonderful, and so was the conversation. The three adults told funny stories about when they were in high school and college, and Ryan and I told some of the funny and bizarre things that happened at Los Arcos High. After dinner they moved to the family room and sat and talked about how the two boys would approach doing their homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We’ll do it as soon as we get home,” Ryan said. “Well, we’ll probably get a snack to eat while we work. I don’t have enough room in my bedroom, so if it’s okay we’ll bring our laptops down to the dining room and do our homework there.”
That seemed to especially please Mr. and Mrs. Lerner. Ryan struggled in a couple of his classes, and we assured the Lerners that we’d work on our homework individually and then review each other’s answers.
When we were at my house we’d do our homework at the kitchen table. Even though my room was larger than Ryan’s, it was easier to do it on a larger table than using the small desk in my room.
After we were finished talking about the homework arrangements and the subjects we’d work on together, Mrs. Lerner made an announcement. “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you about the sleeping arrangements, Justin.”
‘Damn, here we go,’ I thought.
Mrs. Lerner continued, “I hope you’re a sound sleeper because Ryan snores.”
“I do not snore!” Ryan growled. “Lies, nothing but a pack of lies!”
“You do snore,” Mr. Lerner said. “Should I play back that recording of your snoring that I made a few months ago?”
“I’ll get you some of those breathing strips they advertise on TV,” I told Ryan. “But only if you keep me awake. I’m a sound sleeper.”
“I can attest to that,” Dad said. “It’s almost impossible to get Justin out of bed in the morning.”
“Hey, that’s not true Monday thru Friday! It’s only on Saturday and Sunday that I want to sleep in a few minutes extra.”
Dad shook his head. “More like a few hours extra.”
“Are you three finished insulting us?” Ryan said. “You realize you’re twisting our young minds so we won’t know truth from fiction. Justin, I think we should head upstairs where we won’t hear the old folk’s callous falsehoods.”
“You two better get upstairs before I ‘old folks’ you!” Mr. Lerner joked.
“Humph! We can take a hint!” Ryan exclaimed and led me from the family room and upstairs. When we got there Ryan closed his door.
“That worked out perfectly. And Justin, I don’t snore. Or if I do it’s not all that loud. Just a soft purring like a kitten.”
“We’ll see. If you do snore, we can try those breathing strips.”
“Fine. Now, let’s kiss! I’ve been practically grinding my teeth waiting until we could do just that.” Ryan grabbed me and we spent several minutes kissing and fondling each other. Way too soon we heard Ryan’s dad call us because my Dad wanted to head home.
On our way home I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’m sure glad that the subject of sex didn’t come up.”
“After you went upstairs. They know you two are going to mess around, have sex, whatever you want to call it. They’d prefer that it happen in our homes than have you trying to find some other place to do it, with the possibility of being observed or caught by the police.”
“Sounds like you and the Lerners are very open-minded. Nothing like parents of some of the other kids at school.” I paused for a few seconds. “Of course, most of those are guys and their girlfriends. It does make a big difference when kids have to be sure the girl isn’t going to get pregnant.”
“Yes, you’re right. Still, you and Ryan need to stay monogamous. Don’t have sex with anyone else, boy or girl.”
“Speaking of girls, I wonder when we’ll find out more about Susan and her lies about having sex with me.”
“That’s a good question. I hope it will be soon.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
He left around one a.m. and she got dressed for bed. In the morning when she got up she discovered that there was blood on her panties. She tried to wash it out, but there was still a stain. After showering she put on a new pair and tossed the old pair in the trash. She put some newspapers on top to hide them. Seeing the blood scared her. She had to keep this from her mom, and especially from her dad.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Justin Carver
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