Circumstances by Cole Parker

Chapter 5


Sometimes things happen that you think you’ll never be able to live down.
But is that really true?


Note: Explicit language and graphic descriptions.


We were sitting at their kitchen table, all four of us. Mrs. Jenks had made cocoa. I felt like an idiot.

I’m 14. If you wake up crying from a nightmare at someone else’s house, and you’re 14, you feel like an idiot. You can take my word for it.

Mrs. Jenks had finally taken her arms from around me when I’d stopped crying and told both of us to come downstairs for cocoa. Then she and Mr. Jenks had left. I don’t know if they thought it would be embarrassing for me to get out of bed with them there. Probably did. I had boxers on, but they didn’t know that.

It wouldn’t have bothered me, their seeing me in my boxers. I was already so embarrassed that that wouldn’t have made me feel any worse.

Gary got a robe for himself and then another one for me. What kid has two robes? He did, but told me the one I was wearing was an old one he’d grown out of. Well, he was bigger than I was, so it made sense. He was about five and a half feet tall and probably weighed 140, 145, whereas I was just 5 feet tall, if I stretched, and had just broken 100 pounds a couple of months ago, though I hadn’t had anyone to brag to about it.

The robe fit pretty well.

We went downstairs into the kitchen where we sat at the table. When it was ready, Gary’s mom brought the cocoa to us, then put a bag of marshmallows on the table. She stopped after she’d put my cup in front of me and leaned down to give me another hug. Not just a brief one, either. I didn’t mind.

When she was the last one seated, she said to me, “Tell me about it.” The concern I heard in her voice almost had me tearing up again. I wasn’t used to people caring about me.

I put a marshmallow in my cup, stirred the cocoa a little, blew on it, and took a sip. Wow! It was really good.

“I think I know why I had the nightmare,” I said at last.

None of them spoke, but they were all looking at me. Stange, but that didn’t make me nervous at all. If a bunch of kids, or teachers, looked at me like that, I always wanted to run and hide someplace.

“The TV was on.” Still no one spoke, so I continued. “A movie came on and the man and woman were arguing. I was asleep, but heard it. And I think it registered, just like it did when I heard the real thing. I think I reacted like I used to, too.”

I looked down at my cup, and saw it was empty. I wondered who’d drunk it. Mrs. Jenks got up and poured me another. I smiled at her. She hugged me even longer this time before sitting back down and smiling at me. “Go ahead,” she said. How’d she know I had more to say?

“My parents fought a lot. Yelled at each other. It made me feel. . . .”  I had to stop. I drank some cocoa.

When I could, I said, “Sometimes they did it right in front of me. It made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything at all, that I didn’t matter, that what I felt didn’t matter, if they could fight like that right in front of me. And sometimes it made me feel like I was the reason they fought. Maybe I was. My dad. . . .”  I had to stop again, and it took me a moment to regain my composure. When my voice would work again, I said, “My dad yelled some things I overheard. Things about being happier when he was single. When. . . .”  I gulped back tears. “When he didn’t have a kid.”

I stopped again, and couldn’t help it. My eyes started dripping, and then she was there holding me again.

I cried a little, then said, “I want to finish.”

So she sat back down, I sipped a little more cocoa, and said, my voice shaking but fighting through it, “Every time they’d fight, it would hurt. I’d go up to my room, but I could still hear them. It finally ended. My dad left. They got a divorce, and he said he didn’t want any part of custody, he didn’t want to see either of us again. He hasn’t, either. Or even called or written.” 

My voice was getting stronger. “I was a mess after they finally got the divorce. I used to cry a lot. I was eight, and you’re not supposed to cry when you’re eight. My mom would get angry with me; she yelled at me for not being more of a man, and that made it worse. She sent me to a psychiatrist, and I talked to him. Several times, even though my mom had a hard time paying for it. He helped some. He said I had serious self-esteem problems, that I didn’t have much feeling of self-worth, and that I blamed myself for my parents fighting and splitting up. He was right about all that, but I already knew that. Having him tell me didn’t help much, didn’t make anything better. 

“That was a few years ago. I’m a lot better now, but when people argue, or yell at each other, or at me, I can’t really handle it.”

They were looking at me and I could tell they didn’t know what to say. How to help. I didn’t know, either.

“After my dad left, we didn’t have much money. To keep up the mortgage payments so we could keep the house, my mom had to go back to work. She’s a lawyer, but she had to start over, and didn’t have any money to start her own practice. She finally found a job at a big firm. Starting out, lawyers don’t get much money, but they do get to work long hours. She started as an associate in the office and wasn’t even on the path to make partner when she began. I don’t think she is now, either. She had to earn that partnership path when she first started, and maybe she hasn’t done that. I don’t know. She doesn’t talk about it. She’s just angry all the time.

“Anyway, after she finally got the job, she was gone most of the time, and when she was home, she was tired, and she was unhappy how things had worked out, and she needed someone to vent her anger at, so I began to get blamed for stuff that wasn’t my fault, and it became a habit for her to criticize me, and, well. . . .”

I didn’t say anything else, and looked at the empty cup for a while, and then felt my head drooping.

Gary came over and said, “Let’s go back to bed.”

I looked up at him. “You still want me to sleep here?”

He didn’t even answer. He just took my arm, helped me up, and we went back up to his bedroom. He got in bed, then I crawled in after him. He said, “Roll over on your side, away from me.”

Well, I should have figured that. I’d sleep with him tonight, as far from him as he could make it, then tomorrow, he’d say, “So long,” and that would be it. So, I rolled over, away from him.

Then he rolled over, too, and pressed his body up against my back and held me tight to him. In the three seconds it took me to fall asleep, I was too exhausted to do anything but enjoy how good it felt.

 

∫  ∫  ∫

“You’re not nuts, you know?”

I didn’t answer. I thought I was a little nuts. I was happy he didn’t think so, however, and I didn’t want to argue the point.

We were in the bathroom, I in my briefs, he in his boxers, brushing our teeth.

“You’ve had a crappy life so far, but you’re not nuts. Do you have nightmares often?”

“No.” I frowned. “Sometimes. Not often. I’ve had a bad week. Maybe that’s part of it. But I think it was the TV. The people were yelling at each other. I don’t like that.”

He nodded and spat.

“You’re, uh, not going to tell anyone, are you?” I asked. 

“Duh!” he said, sarcastically. “You think I would?” He sounded annoyed, or mad. I hate mad. I looked at him in the mirror, trying to see if he was really mad. 

“No,” he said, making it very clear, “I won’t tell anyone. Didn’t you think I meant it when I said I wanted us to be best friends?”

“Yeah, but that was before you knew how messed up I am.”

“You’re not that messed up. You deal with things just fine, as far as I can tell. If I’d been faced with everything you have, I’d be a basket case. No father—well, no father anymore and the one you had said he didn’t like you—a critical, bitchy mother, no love in your home, then everything that’s happened this week? Jesus!”

I wasn’t used to people taking my side, or complimenting me. I never quite knew how to react. I had to figure it out, intellectually, as emotionally it made me all fuzzy. I thought for a moment, then smiled and said, “Thanks.”

He met my eyes in the mirror, then put his arm around my shoulder and hugged me to him for a moment.

I was glad it was just a moment, because I felt some tingling when he did that. There wasn’t anything sexual in his hug, he was just being a friend, but my body wasn’t good at making fine distinctions like that.

We got dressed and went downstairs. His mother was at the stove, and the smell of bacon and coffee filled the kitchen. When she saw us, she smiled and then poured some pancake batter onto a griddle.

When we were eating, Mrs. Jenks poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down with us. She watched me eat for a few moments, took a sip of her coffee, then asked, “Do you want me to talk to your mother?”

I swallowed. “No, but, uh, thanks.” I get embarrassed easily. So shoot me. She was watching me, so I had to keep talking. “You have to know my mother. She’s very intense, very focused, very assertive. I think that’s one reason my father left. There were lots of reasons, but she wouldn’t give an inch on anything, and he kept telling her a marriage was about sharing and compromise and being a team, and she never made any effort to do any of those things. So he had had enough. It’s taken a long time, but I don’t blame myself for it anymore. Well, maybe I’m still working on that a little. But I know it was their problem, maybe mostly her problem, and I didn’t have much to do with it.”

Gary spoke up then. “You told me things were better with her now.”

I nodded. “After you said what you did to her, she did realize what she’d been doing, and we talked, and that helped. It helped a lot, right then. She’s been trying. She is a little better now, but she’s still the same person she’s always been. A person can’t change just like that, not when they’re like she is.” I stopped and turned from Gary to look at his mother. “She’ll never be a soft, loving, supportive mother. She’s not criticizing me so much now, unless she’s tired, and she listens better now, but, well, she’ll never be like you, Mrs. Jenks.”

I blushed a little, saying that, but she got a really warm smile on her face, then got up and hugged me. Man, I could get used to those hugs. It embarrassed me, but not so much that I wanted her to stop doing it.

Gary and I went back upstairs after breakfast. We played a video game, and he was his usual cheerful self. As I sat playing with him, I kept glancing at him. I couldn’t help but think about how different we were, how self-confident he was, how outgoing, how happy. The fact he was handsome with a great body kept seeping into my consciousness, too. Maybe too much.

I guess thinking about all that affected my play, and he noticed.

“Hey, that was an easy target and you didn’t even shoot at it. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. I just didn’t see it.”

“You missed some other things, too. You’re not paying attention, are you?”

“Am too.”

“Well, not to the game. What are you paying attention to?”

I looked at him, he was staring at me, and I dropped my eyes. “I don’t know. Let’s do something else.”

He was silent for a moment, then put down his controller and turned off the game. “OK. Want to go to the mall, hang out there?”

“NO.”

He wrinkled his forehead. “Why not? Everyone goes to the mall.”

“I know. Everyone but me. I don’t like crowds much.”

He looked like he wanted to argue, and then his face changed. He stood up, so I did too. “I know. Let’s go swimming.”

“Swimming? I don’t have a suit, and I’m not much of a swimmer anyway.”He pulled his tee shirt up over his head. I could see he was beginning to get some pit hair. I wasn’t. 

He threw the shirt onto his bed and reached for his belt. I was just staring at him, and he noticed.

“Get undressed. You can’t swim in your clothes.” He laughed, showing it was a joke.

He unbuckled his shorts and dropped them to the floor. He was wearing boxers, a blue pair today. He sat on the bed and started to unlace his sneaks. I hadn’t moved.

He got his sneakers off, then his socks, and then stood up and put his thumbs under the elastic of his shorts, one thumb at each hip, and slid them down and stepped out of them.

He turned to look at me, then said, “What’s the matter? Why aren’t you undressing?”

I blushed. “Uh. . . .”  I didn’t have a reason! What could I say? 

I knew what I should say. Sometime, sometime really soon, I needed to tell him what I was. To say, “Gary, I’m gay. And I’m attracted to you.” I should be honest and say that. The longer it went that I didn’t, the worse it would be when I did. I knew that. I also knew this wasn’t exactly the right time to tell him, him being naked and me not being naked, him being naked and me not being naked but standing there staring at him.

“How can we swim naked with your mother here?” There! I’d figured out something to say!

He laughed. “We’re not going to swim naked. You don’t need a suit because I have one for you.” He walked to his dresser, found two suits, and tossed one to me. Then he put the other one on.

He went into his bathroom and came out with two towels. By then, I’d removed my tee shirt.

I’m not sure people realize what a young teen just beginning puberty, especially if he’s just beginning and is already 14, feels about his body. Embarrassment is probably the best way to describe it, but it’s a little more complex than just that. You don’t really want people looking at you, or saying things like, ‘Man, are you skinny’, or ‘how come you don’t have any hair?’, or things like that. At the same time, your hormones are slushing around in you and you get hard easily and you’re pretty proud of your dick since it doesn’t look like a little boy’s dick any longer, but you don’t really want anyone to see it, yet you sort of do, especially if they’ll be saying something nice about it, and you have the thought that maybe they will if they see it, and as I say, it’s complex and I’m not sure I even understand it. And I am one.

Gary came over and sat on the bed, and didn’t really have anything to do but watch me. Which I didn’t want him to do because of the embarrassment part, and because I was afraid I might get hard, which would probably mean I wouldn’t have to put off telling him about the gay thing. It would be kind of obvious. 

Why did I always end up with circumstances like this to contend with?

I didn’t know what to do, and it was now or never, I had to do something, and so I did what I probably should do more of. I spoke, and I spoke honestly.

“How come you could just get naked in front of me like that and not be embarrassed?”

“Why should I be embarrassed? I’ve been getting undressed in front of guys in the locker room for three years now. Haven’t you?”

“Not really. Showers haven’t been mandatory until this year, and we’re allowed to wear underwear in them. A lot of us do that, then change to dry ones in the locker room still covered with a towel.”

“Why? What’s so embarrassing? You’ve got a dick like everyone else, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but everyone’s different. Mine isn’t very big, and I’m not as far into puberty as most guys my age.”

“So it’s because you’re shy? And maybe that self-esteem issue you talked about?”

“Yeah. You see how skinny I am. The rest of me isn’t any better. It’s embarrassing.”

He looked at me, at my bare torso, appraising it. Then he said, “Get naked so I can see. If we’re going to be friends, best friends, we shouldn’t have secrets, not unimportant ones like that at least. You’ve seen me. Let me see you.”

I swallowed and just looked at him. What he said made sense. If he saw me naked, right now, I wouldn’t have to worry about it after that. It’d be a done deal. And I trusted him. There was something about him that encouraged that. Even if he thought I looked funny, or babyish, or something, he’d be polite.

So I undressed. I wanted so badly to turn away from him when I lowered my briefs, but I didn’t. I just lowered them, stepped out, then stood there. Trusting I’d remain soft. With him eyeing me. Eyeing the goods.

I didn’t get hard. Probably my nervousness saved me. But it really wasn’t an arousing moment. I was too worried about what he’d say, or how he’d react.

He looked, scanned over me with his eyes, then raised his eyes to meet mine. “So? What’s to worry about? You’re thin. You probably don’t eat enough. Don’t exercise enough. But you don’t look like one of those starving children you see in advertisements. You just look skinny. You don’t have much hair yet, but you’ve got some, which means in a few months you’ll have a lot more. Your dick isn’t as big as mine, but it looks just fine to me. It fits with the rest of you. I’m no great expert on dicks, mind you, but in the showers I’ve seen all kinds, circumcised, uncircumcised, big, little, fat, skinny, red, dark, freckled, whatever. Yours is fine. Since you’re just starting puberty, it’ll grow bigger than it is now. In any case, how big it is when it’s soft isn’t as important as how big it is hard. Now, if you want me to evaluate that. . . .”  He stopped, wiggled his eyebrows at me, and laughed.

I knew what he meant. He meant it as a joke. If he were gay, he’d have put more innuendo into it, more question than statement, maybe some tension, maybe, well, something. He’d meant it to be funny, not as a come-on.

I put on the bathing suit, and he said, “You look fine, Keith. Really. And I admire your courage in showing yourself to me when you didn’t want to and were afraid of what I’d say.”

He punched me lightly on the shoulder, then grabbed the towels, and we went to the pool.

“You don’t need a suit, and practice will make you better, and we’ll have fun, and it’ll be just the two of us. Jeeze, Keith, you have reasons not to do anything at all. Stop with the excuses. We’re going to have fun. Now take your clothes off.”

 

∫  ∫  ∫

He pulled his tee shirt up over his head.  I could see he was beginning to get some pit hair.  I wasn’t. 

He threw the shirt onto his bed and reached for his belt.  I was just staring at him, and he noticed.

“Get undressed.  You can’t swim in your clothes.”  He laughed, showing it was a joke.

He unbuckled his shorts and dropped them to the floor.  He was wearing boxers, a blue pair today.  He sat on the bed and started to unlace his sneaks.  I hadn’t moved.

He got his sneakers off, then his socks, and then stood up and put his thumbs under the elastic of his shorts, one thumb at each hip, and slid them down and stepped out of them.

He turned to look at me, then said, “What’s the matter?  Why aren’t you undressing?”

I blushed.  “Uh. . . .”  I didn’t have a reason!  What could I say? 

I knew what I should say.  Sometime, sometime really soon, I needed to tell him what I was.  To say, “Gary, I’m gay.  And I’m attracted to you.”  I should be honest and say that.  The longer it went that I didn’t, the worse it would be when I did.  I knew that.  I also knew this wasn’t exactly the right time to tell him, him being naked and me not being naked, him being naked and me not being naked but standing there staring at him.

“How can we swim naked with your mother here?”  There!  I’d figured out something to say!

He laughed.  “We’re not going to swim naked.  You don’t need a suit because I have one for you.”  He walked to his dresser, found two suits, and tossed one to me.  Then he put the other one on.

He went into his bathroom and came out with two towels.  By then, I’d removed my tee shirt.

I’m not sure people realize what a young teen just beginning puberty, especially if he’s just beginning and is already 14, feels about his body.  Embarrassment is probably the best way to describe it, but it’s a little more complex than just that.  You don’t really want people looking at you, or saying things like, ‘Man, are you skinny’, or ‘how come you don’t have any hair?’, or things like that.  At the same time, your hormones are slushing around in you and you get hard easily and you’re pretty proud of your dick since it doesn’t look like a little boy’s dick any longer, but you don’t really want anyone to see it, yet you sort of do, especially if they’ll be saying something nice about it, and you have the thought that maybe they will if they see it, and as I say, it’s complex and I’m not sure I even understand it.  And I am one.

Gary came over and sat on the bed, and didn’t really have anything to do but watch me.  Which I didn’t want him to do because of the embarrassment part, and because I was afraid I might get hard, which would probably mean I wouldn’t have to put off telling him about the gay thing.  It would be kind of obvious. 

Why did I always end up with circumstances like this to contend with?

I didn’t know what to do, and it was now or never, I had to do something, and so I did what I probably should do more of.  I spoke, and I spoke honestly.

“How come you could just get naked in front of me like that and not be embarrassed?”

“Why should I be embarrassed?  I’ve been getting undressed in front of guys in the locker room for three years now.  Haven’t you?”

“Not really.  Showers haven’t been mandatory until this year, and we’re allowed to wear underwear in them.  A lot of us do that, then change to dry ones in the locker room still covered with a towel.”

“Why?  What’s so embarrassing?  You’ve got a dick like everyone else, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but everyone’s different.  Mine isn’t very big, and I’m not as far into puberty as most guys my age.”

“So it’s because you’re shy?  And maybe that self-esteem issue you talked about?”

“Yeah.  You see how skinny I am.  The rest of me isn’t any better.  It’s embarrassing.”

He looked at me, at my bare torso, appraising it.  Then he said, “Get naked so I can see.  If we’re going to be friends, best friends, we shouldn’t have secrets, not unimportant ones like that at least.  You’ve seen me.  Let me see you.”

I swallowed and just looked at him.  What he said made sense.  If he saw me naked, right now, I wouldn’t have to worry about it after that.  It’d be a done deal.  And I trusted him.  There was something about him that encouraged that.  Even if he thought I looked funny, or babyish, or something, he’d be polite.

So I undressed.  I wanted so badly to turn away from him when I lowered my briefs, but I didn’t.  I just lowered them, stepped out, then stood there.  Trusting I’d remain soft.  With him eyeing me.  Eyeing the goods.

I didn’t get hard.  Probably my nervousness saved me.  But it really wasn’t an arousing moment.  I was too worried about what he’d say, or how he’d react.

He looked, scanned over me with his eyes, then raised his eyes to  meet mine.  “So?  What’s to worry about?  You’re thin.  You probably don’t eat enough.  Don’t exercise enough.  But you don’t look like one of those starving children you see in advertisements.  You just look skinny.  You don’t have much hair yet, but you’ve got some, which means in a few months you’ll have a lot more.  Your dick isn’t as big as mine, but it looks just fine to me.  It fits with the rest of you.  I’m no great expert on dicks, mind you, but in the showers I’ve seen all kinds, circumcised, uncircumcised, big, little, fat, skinny, red, dark, freckled, whatever.  Yours is fine.  Since you’re just starting puberty, it’ll grow bigger than it is now.  In any case, how big it is when it’s soft isn’t as important as how big it is hard.  Now, if you want me to evaluate that. . . .”  He stopped, wiggled his eyebrows at me, and laughed.

I knew what he meant.  He meant it as a joke.  If he were gay, he’d have put more innuendo into it, more question than statement, maybe some tension, maybe, well, something.  He’d meant it to be funny, not as a come-on.

I put on the bathing suit, and he said, “You look fine, Keith.  Really.  And I admire your courage in showing yourself to me when you didn’t want to and were afraid of what I’d say.”

He punched me lightly on the shoulder, then grabbed the towels, and we went to the pool.







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This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don’t want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren’t supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!