Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?
Father Darcy and Jason stepped out of the office to find Tim Phillips in the foyer, sitting on the very uncomfortable sofa, waiting for Jason.
“Well, Tim, I’m returning your son in one piece. You have a wonderful son, and I know you are aware of that. I would like to congratulate you on the way you and Betty are raising Jason.”
“Thank you father; we are aware that we are very lucky to have a son like Jason. Thank you for meeting with him this morning.”
On the way to pick up Ron, Tim asked Jason about the meeting.
“So, do you think the meeting was useful?”
“Yeah, I do. It wasn’t what I expected. No fire and brimstone because I’m gay. We talked about what I need to do to reconcile being gay and Catholic, and what to tell Mom so she’s comfortable that I’m not about to be excommunicated or burned at the stake or something like that. I liked Father Darcy. He’s a cool guy. He asked if he could call in a year and set up another meeting, and I said yes. I think it’ll be a good idea. I might even bring Ron along.”
Tim didn’t say anything. Knowing teens, he wasn’t positive that Jason and Ron would still be together in a year, though he certainly hoped so.
“Dad, did you get the soft drinks?”
“Yes. I went to Beverage Outlet because they have refrigerated six packs of sodas. I brought our big cooler chest and there’s ice in it along with the cans I pulled out of the six packs and bottles of Coke I pulled out of the eight packs. And yes, I got your root beer.”
Jason grinned and watched the building and houses they passed by.
When they got to the Cantham’s, Jason got out and grabbed his gym bag.
“I’m gonna change to my board shorts and flip flops. Can you take my khakis, shirt, and shoes home and put them in my bedroom?”
Jason ran up to the front door to be greeted by Ron, who grabbed him and pulled him into the house. There he gave Jason a big kiss on the lips.
“I take it your folks aren’t home.”
“Yes, they are. They’re in the back yard having an iced something or other and enjoying the be-you-tee-ful, warm spring weather. I’m ready, let’s go say goodbye to my folks and split this joint.”
“I’m not ready. I don’t want to wear this stuff,” Jason waved his hands a couple times from his neck to his knees and back, “to Leshawn’s. Let’s go to your room and I’ll change.”
“Oooo… can I watch?”
“Yes, you can watch.”
Ron opened his mouth, stuck his tongue out so it hung over his bottom lip, and made heavy breathing sounds. Jason ignored him.
Once in Ron’s room with the door closed, Jason stripped naked, pirouetted a couple times, then put on his swimsuit, his board shorts, a sleeveless T, and his flip flops. When he finished, Ron flopped onto his bed, panting loudly.
“Oh my god! I just saw heaven! You are so freakin’ hot, Jason Phillips!”
“Just remember what we promised your folks. Hey, speaking of your folks, let’s go say goodbye to them so we can split this joint and go to Leshawn’s!” Jason chuckled, and Ron got up off his bed, grabbed Jason’s arm and pulled him out of his bedroom and out to the back yard.
On their way out Ron reminded Jason of something. “Remember we blew up the promise we made to my folks last week.”
“Oh. I forgot. I think I’ve suppressed it because I hate lying about stuff.”
“It’s not a lie. We didn’t really have, you know, real sex. We just messed around a bit.”
They went through the family room and outside onto the patio. “Hey, Mom and Dad, Jase is here and we’re leaving for Leshawn’s. Bye. I’ll be home around seven or whatever.”
“Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Cantham,” Jason called out, “Bye, Mr. and Mrs. Cantham!”
“Hi, Jason,” Tammy Cantham replied. “Ron, you call when you’re ready to have us pick you up, and if you’re going to be home later than seven o’clock, okay?”
“And,” Tammy interrupted him, “let me know if you’re going to want dinner when you get home.”
“Okay, will do. Gotta run. Jase’s dad is waiting for us out front. See ya!”
“See ya!” Norm Cantham shouted from across the yard where he had found yet another weed to pull out.
The drive to Leshawn’s was full of chatter. Ron talked about his morning, Jason talked about the cold sodas in the cooler chest, Tim reminded them to wait a half hour after eating before going back into the pool, Jason and Ron talked about the music on the radio, Jason kept changing the station which Tim, several times, said drove him crazy and to at least let one track finish before changing a station, Ron said he had more information about what they were going to eat but it would be more fun for Jason if it was a surprise so he wouldn’t tell him what it was. By then they’d arrived at the Cross residence. They were running up the walkway when Tim hollered at them.
“Hey! These sodas aren’t going to get into the house by themselves. And Ron and Jase, you two forgot your gym bags.”
Everything got sorted out, the sodas delivered, Jason and Ron’s gym bags were retrieved from the back seat of the car, and Tim was able to make his exit.
“Hi, Mrs. Cross!” Jason said as he and Ron carried in the cooler with the sodas.
“Hi, Jason. How are you this beautiful day?”
“I’m fine. I’ll be better once we get into the pool.” Jason grinned.
“Hi from me too,” Ron added. “Should we take this cooler outside or would you prefer we leave the sodas in here?”
“Oh, please, take them outside. I don’t want wet feet traipsing around in my kitchen whenever one of you boys gets thirsty. And how are you, Ron?”
“I’m great, ‘specially since spring break started today.”
Mr. Cross came in and had overheard the part of the conversation about spring break. “No tons of homework, no long, detailed projects to do during the break?”
“No sir! Not for me or for Jase, either.”
“Well, that’s good,” he replied, “it’ll give you enough time to study for midterm exams, won’t it?”
Ron stood looking like he’d just been told there was a firing squad waiting for him. Mr. Cross busted up laughing. “Got another one of ‘em, Donna!”
Jason explained, “Ron, we had midterms back in March. Mr. Cross was just pulling your leg.” He looked at Mr. Cross. “Who else did you get with that mean, nasty, awful joke?” Jason couldn’t help grinning, and Mr. Cross started to laugh.
“You’re not going to believe it, but I got Kevin. And Leshawn, too! Now, Kevin I can understand ‘cause he’s new here and this was his first week at Hillcrest. But Leshawn? That was so funny!”
Mr. Cross turned to Ron. “How ‘bout you boys take the cooler chest outside and set it in the shade near the picnic tables. Sorry if I got you all worried for nothing, Ron.”
Ron smiled. “It was pretty funny. Until Jase reminded me I really couldn’t remember that we already had our midterm exams.”
“Well, you boys head on out and get into the pool. The hot tub is ready too, and it’s got those jets to help work the kinks out of your muscles.”
“Okay, thanks Mr. Cross, thanks Mrs. Cross,” Jason said, pulling on his end of the cooler chest to get Ron moving.
There was a big grove of trees in the Cross’s backyard just off the kitchen. Two picnic tables with benches along both sides were positioned under the trees so they were shaded from the afternoon sun. Jason and Ron put the cooler down in the shade near the end of one of the tables. A walkway led around the trees to a large open area with grass and the pool. That’s where Jason and Ron headed, carrying their gym bags.
Leshawn and Kevin floated upright at the side of the pool, the water reaching almost to their chins, about halfway between the shallow and deep ends.
“Hey, Leshawn!” Jason called out. “Hi, Kev!”
“Hey, guys,” Ron added.
The two boys pulled themselves out of the pool and walked around to greet Jason and Ron. They, in turn, stood slack jawed, staring at Leshawn. He wore a pair of pure white Speedo briefs that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Every lump and bulge of what Leshawn had inside those briefs showed in full detail. And there were definitely a lot of lumps and bulges to show.
“I don’t freakin’ believe it,” Ron whispered to Jason. When he didn’t get any response, he looked at Jason who stood there, with his mouth open, just staring at Leshawn as he continued around the shallow end of the pool to greet them. Ron poked Jason with his elbow, hard, and whispered, “Stop staring!”
“I can’t,” Jason replied, out loud.
Ron finally noticed Kevin, following Leshawn and laughing, even though he tried to stifle his amusement. Kevin, Ron noticed, wore a pair of loose electric orange board shorts that were even more noticeable than Leshawn’s. Of course, Leshawn’s had those lumps and bulges and Kevin’s didn’t.
Jason finally stopped staring at Leshawn’s groin and looked up at his face. He saw Leshawn chuckling and grinning and obviously enjoying the impact he had on his guests. He rushed up and, since Jason was closer, grabbed him in a big hug, pressing their bodies together, getting him wet.
“Like my Speedos?” he whispered in Jason’s ear, then turned and grabbed Ron and whispered the same to him.
“You gotta be kidding!” Jason told Leshawn. Your folks let you wear these? They let you buy them? I mean, they can see you, they can see everything I can see, and I can see everything!
“Yeah!” Leshawn replied. “Cool, ‘eh? Kev bought them for me when we went to the mall this morning.”
“I paid for ‘em,” Kevin responded, “but you picked them out. I told you they were too… too everything!” Kevin busted up laughing.
“No,” Ron retorted, “they are too little and too thin and they barely hide anything. In fact, they are sexier than if Leshawn stood here completely naked.”
That made Kevin laugh even more.
“I mean, my folks wouldn’t let me wear something like that!” Jason said.
Ron asked, “Your folks are okay with you wearing these? They must be, because they can see you! They’re really okay with you exposing yourself like that?”
“And showing off every lump and bulge!” Jason added. That started Kevin into another laughing fit. Jason pounded him on his back when it seemed like he actually might not be able to breathe.
“Yup. My dad said it’s my grave and I’ve dug it. My mom agrees with my dad. So this is what I’m wearing today.” Leshawn raised his arms and slowly rotated around showing everything the Speedos showed.
Kevin had stopped laughing. “He wanted me to buy him a pair of white ones you could like totally see through when they’re wet. At least these Speedos aren’t transparent when wet.”
Jason put his hands on Leshawn’s shoulders and held him at arm’s length. “I didn’t know you were an exhibitionist, Leshawn.”
“Hey, there’s a practical reason for these. I like them because they hold everything in. My board shorts, sort of like what Kev is wearing, leave my junk too loose. I didn’t want to wear a jockstrap because I don’t like the way they make my junk feel when I wear them at school, they’re too tight. These Speedo swim briefs, on the other hand, are perfect. They have a big pouch thingy in front and I can gather everything inside and arrange it. When they’re wet they do show my bulges, but when they dry they don’t. Like now,” Leshawn looked down at his Speedos, “see, they don’t show as much as they did before.
“That’s totally weird,” Ron sad, “how do they do that?”
“‘I don’t know and I don’t care!’ Leshawn sang the title line from his favorite Country and Western song, and repeated it several times, twirling around showing off his swim briefs.
He stopped and looked up and down at Jason, then at Ron.
“Guys, you can’t swim in that getup. Strip down to whatever you’re going to swim in and get in the water!”
The Cross’s had a pool house behind their pool with a sitting area and men’s and women’s changing rooms with lockers and showers. Jason and Ron headed over there and got undressed except for their boardies, similar to Kevin’s except for color and pattern.
“Leshawn’s in the pool. Let’s do a dual cannonball,” Ron suggested.
“I’m on!” Jason replied.
“No! Wait!” Ron held Jason back. “Look.” He pointed at a sign next to the door.
No running! No cannonballs!
Perpetrators will be executed!
We don’t swim in your toilet…
Please don’t pee in our pool.
They walked out onto the pool surround and slipped into the water, Jason next to Leshawn and Ron next to Kevin.
“Since no one else is here yet, why don’t you tell us what you said you’d tell us today?” Jason asked.
Kevin looked confused. “Leshawn said he’d tell us something about your sleeping arrangements,” Jason added.
“Um… Kev and I sort of sort of discovered something about each other, ya know?” Leshawn mumbled.
“And that is what?” Jason asked.
Kevin blushed. “We’re both gay.”
“Cool,” Ron said, then grinned and poked Kevin’s shoulder.
“Us too,” Jason said.
Leshawn looked confused, but Kevin caught on.
“You guys are gay? And are you like, boyfriends?”
“Yup,” Ron replied.
“Oh my god!” Leshawn exclaimed. “Now I get it. I knew you guys were, you know, best friends. But I sure didn’t know you were gay and boyfriends too. Now that I know, congrats, guys.”
“Thanks,” Ron replied.
“Yeah, thanks,” Jason replied. “But you really didn’t guess? You knew Ron and I were tight since middle school, and neither of us ever had a girlfriend. I would have thought you’d have figured it out. You should have checked your gaydar.”
“Nah. I have zero gaydar,” Leshawn said, “I’m sure glad Kevin doesn’t have that problem.”
“It took two nights sleeping together for Leshawn to figure it out,” Kevin replied
“Leshawn, and Kev, I would never have guessed you two guys are gay,” Jason told them.
“‘I yam what I yam,’” Leshawn responded, paraphrasing Popeye.
“I agree with that,” Kevin added. “I don’t care what I am, gay, bi, straight, whatever.”
Ron, always one to push the envelope, asked what he wanted to know and he figured Jason wanted to know too. “Are you guys, like, you know, messing around?”
Leshawn started laughing, so Kevin answered Ron’s question, “How do you think we figured it out?”
Ron continued to push for details. “Do your folks know?”
“My dad does,” Leshawn replied. He came in last Sunday morning to wake us up and found us sort of all tied up together. And we’d shoved the covers on the floor. And we weren’t wearing anything. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it was.”
“Especially because we were both um… excited,” Kevin added, “Leshawn’s stuff was totally exposed, and I was partially uncovered.”
“That’s mostly uncovered, Kev,” Leshawn said.
Jason laughed, then asked, “What did your dad say, Leshawn?”
“He stood there laughing at us. Can you imagine? He laughed at us!” Kevin started laughing and Leshawn joined him.
When they stopped laughing Ron asked, “How about your mom? Does she know?”
“Oh, god no. Dad said this was a guy thing, and to just keep it that way. He said he doesn’t care if we’re gay or just horny.”
Kevin shook his head. “You make it sound so easy, Leshawn. Guys, Leshawn’s dad also said he wanted to have a talk with us. I’m not looking forward to that. Talk about embarrassing!”
“Is he going to tell your folks, Kev?”
“No. Uncle Joe’s a totally cool guy. I wish I could tell my folks, but I’m sure it wouldn’t go over very well.”
“Why’d you decide to tell us?” Jason asked. “I mean, I’m glad you did, and I like that you felt you could trust us which you can, one thousand percent.”
“You’re my oldest friend, Jase. I’ve known you since what, first or second grade. I wanted someone I know who I could trust to know this about me. I mean, it’s a pretty important part of me, who I am. Now it’s not like some huge secret we have to keep hidden. And if word gets out we know who to blame.” Leshawn looked at Jason’s expression, sort of shock and fear and unbelief all rolled up into one, and busted up laughing. “You’re so easy to lead down the garden path, Jase!”
“Dufus!” Jason exclaimed.
“You going to tell anyone else?” Ron asked.
“Uh huh. Jayden and Todd, and Doug and Mike, and Marcus. That’s why I invited them. Because they’re all gay too.”
“You already knew those guys are…” Ron started to ask, but Jason interrupted. “Marcus? Marcus is gay?”
“Yeah. Didn’t you know? Oh shit, you didn’t know, did you. Oh, man, please don’t say anything to him, okay? I’ll clue him in when he gets here. Or maybe I shouldn’t clue him in if he doesn’t know about you. Does he?”
“The answers to your questions are no and yes. No, Ron and I didn’t know about Marcus. Yes, he does know about us and so do Doug and Mike. Jayden and Todd don’t, though. Are you sure Marcus is gay? I mean, he’s had plenty of time to tell us and hasn’t said a word, even when Ron and I told him after the GSA meeting. How come you know about him?”
“He told me at the beginning of this year by accident. He asked if I planned to join the GSA, and I said yes, and he asked me if I thought it would be okay for him to join, and I said sure, why not? I thought he meant because he’s straight, he thought I meant I knew he is gay. It turned into a big mixup with neither of us knowing what the other meant until it was too late and we’d mutually outed ourselves. I busted up laughing and poor Marcus looked like he might bust out crying.”
Ron looked confused and a bit irritated. “Wait a minute, wait a minute! Something doesn’t make sense here. You know and we know about Doug and Mike and Jayden and Todd being gay. Add that you know about Marcus being gay and we didn’t. So how come me and Jase are here since you didn’t know about us being gay?”
“I told you, Ron,” Leshawn said, “I invited the two of you over because I’ve known Jase forever and I’ve known you almost as long, that’s why I wanted to tell you. I didn’t plan on outing any of those other guys, including Marcus, to you. But you knew about Doug and Mike and Jayden and Todd, so I assumed you knew about Marcus. Shit. This is as complicated as when Marcus and I talked about the GSA. I should just keep my mouth shut.” Leshawn didn’t look pleased with himself.
“I have the solution, Leshawn,” Kevin announced. “When Marcus gets here take him aside and tell him you know everyone else is gay, except the twins, and the ones here who don’t know he’s gay are me, Jayden, Todd, Jason, and Ron. Since you’ve known him all these years and you wanted to let him know about you and me being gay since the two of us are like together. Tell him no one will find out from you. Tell him it’s always been his decision whether to let anyone else know, and you think he should tell the five of us.”
“Now, that makes sense!” Ron announced. But I have another question. How about your twelve-year-old cousins? Are they going to start wondering about the rest of us?”
“First of all, they aren’t twelve. My mom still thinks they’re little kids and they aren’t. Tomorrow’s their fourteenth birthday and so this is sort of a pool party and birthday party all rolled up in one. They’re freshmen at Alcosta High. And my mom decided to invite them to my pool party. They’re super smart, they skipped fourth grade. Besides, they’re nice guys, you’ll like them.”
“I take it they’re straight?” Ron asked.
“Hell, I don’t know but I assume they are. I don’t see them often but we always have a lot of fun when we get together. I’m gonna have Kev aim his infallible gaydar at ‘em and we’ll have a decision within a few minutes of their arrival.”
“My gaydar isn’t infallible, Leshawn. The only thing it is, is better than yours which doesn’t mean much.”
Mrs. Cross opened the back door and interrupted their discussion. “Leshawn,” she shouted, “Marcus is here. I’m sending him out.”
Leshawn turned to Kevin, Jason, and Ron and whispered, “Okay, everyone play dumb about this gay stuff.” Seeing Marcus come out of the house he called out, “Hey, Marcus! We’re all over here in the pool! Come on in and prepare to get wet!”
Kevin looked at Jason and Ron and rolled his eyes. Jason understood that Kevin thought trying to keep the ‘gay stuff’ on the quiet might turn out to be a problem.
“Hey, Marcus! How you doing?” Jason shouted from the pool.
“Ditto,” Jason replied.
“Hi, Ron,” Marcus said as he walked past the pool on his way to the pool house.
“How’re they hangin’, Marcus?”
Marcus laughed. “Same as always, Ron, same as always. I’ll see you guys as soon as I change into my swimsuit.”
Jason turned around and watched Marcus go into the bath house to change. Then he turned back and growled at Ron. “’How’re they hangin’?’” Jason stage whispered, “That was one of the least brilliant things to say to Marcus!”
“Hey, I say it all the time,” Ron retorted.
“You only say it when you want to get in my pants!” Jason replied.
“But getting in your pants would be so much fun, Jase. You just never let me do it.”
“Hey, keep quiet. If you guys keep this up, then you’re going to tip off Marcus.” Leshawn whispered.
“Leshawn, he already knows Jase and I are gay and are boyfriends. I don’t know why we have to keep that part quiet,” Ron said.
Jason splashed Ron and tried to look mad but ended up grinning. “Can’t you just keep the gay stuff quiet for a while?”
“I don’t see why we can’t talk about you and me, Jase,” Ron replied, pouting.
“Well, that went well,” Kevin said through his laughter. “No ‘gay stuff’ was there, Leshawn?”
“Shush up!” Leshawn replied.
Unfortunately, Marcus had returned much faster than anyone thought he would.
“Shush up about what?” he asked, standing right in back of Leshawn. The four boys turned around and stared at him. He wore a pair of very skimpy bright yellow Speedos with a dark blue stripe down each side. Like Leshawn’s Speedos, they left nothing to the imagination, even when they were dry.
“Oh, my god!” Ron exclaimed. “You’re freakin’ hot, Marcus!”
Marcus made a little bow and chuckled. “Thank you, thank you! I always try to please my audience.”
“What do those show when they’re wet?” Kevin asked.
“Ah, it’s for you to find out!” With that Marcus jumped over Leshawn and into the pool, causing a wave that drenched the other four boys.
“Oh, you are so going to get it,” Ron shouted. He dove under the water and found Marcus who had just come up for air after his dive. Ron grabbed both sides of Marcus’ Speedos and yanked down, pulling them below his knees. Then to escape he swam to the other side of the pool and pulled himself up onto the coping and sat there laughing.
Marcus finally pulled his Speedos up and back on. He turned, looking for Ron, and saw him sitting on the edge of the pool.
“Prepare to be pantsed, Ron!” he shouted.
Ron stood up. “You have to catch me first!” He then ran around to the other side of the pool. Marcus took advantage of the steps at the end of the pool as a shortcut and climbed out to chase Ron.
“No running! No horseplay!” Leshawn shouted, grinning.
Ron stopped suddenly and turned to face Marcus who ran into him before he could stop. Ron grabbed Marcus, holding him tightly against his own body. Marcus tried to get away, but Ron was stronger and held on. Marcus reached down and tried to pull off Ron’s board shorts but couldn’t because of the way Ron held the two of them together.
Leshawn walked up and slapped Ron then Marcus on their butts.
“Cut it out, you guys. I’m calling this a draw. Marcus got us all wet with his dive even though we were in the water. Ron pulled Marcus’ Speedos down even though none of us got to see anything interesting before Marcus pulled them back on. Now you two play nice. That’s an order!”
“I agree,” Ron said, letting go of Marcus.
“Yeah, so do I,” Marcus added.
Ron lowered himself into the pool, and Marcus started to do the same but Leshawn grabbed his arm and whispered, “We need to talk, in private.” Leshawn and Marcus walked to the pool house and Jason could see them sit down inside. He turned away because he didn’t want Marcus to freak if he saw someone watching him and Leshawn talking.
“I’m thirsty,” Kevin announced. “Let’s get something to drink.”
“We brought in a cooler full of sodas,” Jason told him. “Ron and I put the cooler over by the picnic tables.”
“Okay. Let’s go,” Kevin replied.
They got out of the pool and headed to the picnic area. Ron opened the cooler chest. “Let’s see. We have Barq’s Diet Root Beer, regular Coke, and Diet 7-Up. What’s your poison, Kev?”
“A Coke, please.”
Ron handed him a plastic bottle of Coke. “Jase, I assume you want your regular?”
Ron handed him a can of root beer and took one for himself.
“I feel like cooling off. My brain’s starting to cook. You guys want to sit here in the shade?” Kevin asked.
“Sounds like a good plan, Kev,” Jason replied.
Ron and Jason sat across from Kevin. They drank their sodas for a couple minutes, then Kevin put his bottle down and let out a deep breath.
“Oh man, I needed that. I didn’t realize how thirsty I got,” he said.
“Maybe they’re bad for us, but I think a root beer or a Coke is better when I’m thirsty,” Ron added.
They sat without saying anything more for a few seconds, then Jason decided to ask a question he’d been wondering about. “Kev, when did you figure out you’re gay?”
“Nothing like asking me a tough personal question without any preliminaries,” Kevin replied. But he grinned, so Jason figured he hadn’t gone too far with his question.
“I was ten years old and in the sixth grade. All of us were newbies, because sixth grade is the first grade in middle school, and we were all at a new school. I didn’t know many kids because my elementary school was split between two middle school attendance districts. I think maybe twenty kids from my elementary school went to Hayes Middle School, and all the rest went to Lincoln.
“So I looked for someone who could be my friend, and I figured someone on my bus would be good because they’d probably live near me. A kid with reddish blond hair got on a couple stops from mine. He looked sort of familiar, so when he walked down the aisle I smiled and he smiled back and I moved closer to the window and he sat down next to me. His name was, of course it still is, Jeffery Manning. We were both from the same elementary school but never had any classes together. Anyway, we got to know each other and became best friends.
“It didn’t take me very long to figure out I liked him a lot more than just as a best friend. Turns out he felt the same way about me. We discovered we were on the same page one day in my backyard playing two-man tackle football.”
“Two-man what?” Ron asked.
Kevin grinned. “Two-man tackle football. I probably invented that kind of football. It means the one on defense tries to grab and hold onto the one on offense every play. So, on about the third play Jeffery tackled me and grabbed my crotch. So I grabbed his crotch. We laid there hanging on to each other’s crotch grinning like idiots. It was fantastic. We’re still best friends and still grab each other’s crotch but without having to play two-man tackle football. How about you two guys?”
Jason and Ron looked at each other. Ron grinned and pointed his finger at Jason, so Jason shrugged his shoulders and answered Kevin.
“We met when we both were in the sixth grade in intermediate school. We’ve been boyfriends since the start of eighth grade. That’s not really very long though, like a little over a year and a half.”
“Cool,” Kevin said. “Did you know you were gay when you were in sixth grade?”
“Yes,” Ron replied.
“No,” Jason replied. I didn’t figure it out until I started seventh grade. That’s the first grade where we had to take PE and take showers. It was a real eye opener for me.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
Kevin laughed. “For me, too. We had to take showers starting in seventh grade too, when I went to Hayes. I was like a kid in a candy store. No, like a kid in an ice cream shop. Lots of flavors to lick.”
Jason and Ron started laughing, and Kevin joined in.
“Oh my god, the image that gave me! I’ll never be able to go into an ice cream shop for as long as I live without thinking of that image,” Ron said.
“Kevin, you said your folks don’t know you’re gay?” Jason asked.
“Oh, my god, no they don’t! It would be a freakin’ disaster. My life as I know it would probably be over.”
“How about Jeffery?”
“Yes, his folks know about him and about us and they are great. They’re really supportive. Except we can’t be in his bedroom with the door closed.”
Jason and Ron laughed, and Ron explained, “Same at my house. My mom’s a child psychologist so she knows what we’d like to be doing and keeps us from doing it.” He turned and wiggled his eyebrows then bumped Jason’s shoulder. “She thinks!”
Kevin laughed and nodded. “I totally understand. How about you, Jase?”
“I came out to my family just about two weeks ago. Everyone was fine except my mom. She’s finally turned around and she’s fine with me being gay and having Ron as my boyfriend. The best thing, my dad and my sisters were totally fine with me being gay right from the start.”
“Hey, here comes Marcus.”
They watched Marcus slowly walk to the picnic table and sit down next to Kevin.
“I have a sort of confession I want to make to the three of you.” Marcus took a deep breath. “Jase and Ron, I should have told you guys the other afternoon when we were at Pacific Bay with Doug and Mike. But I didn’t and the more time that went by the harder it made it to tell you. I’m gay, too.”
“That’s great,” Ron told him. “I’m glad you had the balls to tell us. A lot of guys would have stayed in the closet and spent part of their life in high school wondering if anyone figured out they were gay. And missing out on maybe finding a boyfriend.”
“I hope you know it doesn’t make any difference to us, right guys?” Jason asked. Ron and Kevin agreed. “And we’re not going to tell anyone else. It’s your decision who you tell. You have to be careful, so you have to know who you can trust. Unless you decide to come out to everybody, like Doug and Mike did.”
“That’s because of the rumors about them,” Ron added, “there aren’t any rumors about you at school. And we’re not the ones who would ever start rumors.”
“Thanks, guys. That makes me feel a lot better.”
“You seem to be sort of cautious about coming out to people,” Jason said to Marcus. “Most of the other guys here are gay and have told lots of people at school including some jocks like Doug and Jayden. I’m just curious, why have you been so reluctant?”
“I write a sports column for the newspaper. I have access to the locker rooms to interview guys. If they found out I’m gay I’m afraid I wouldn’t be welcome in the locker rooms.”
“Jeez, why not?” Ron asked. “Like Jase said, look at jocks like Doug and Jayden. They’re out and no worries from guys on their teams.”
“Think about it, they have boyfriends. it means they aren’t trolling for hot bods in the locker rooms. I don’t have a boyfriend. What do you think they’d say about me if they learned I’m gay?”
“Ah, right. Now I understand,” Ron replied. “Is there anyone at school you like? You know anyone who might be good boyfriend material?”
“How can I tell? I don’t seem to have a working gaydar, if there even is such a thing. That’s why I’m going to the GSA meetings. Maybe I can find someone to at least be friends with who’s gay.”
Kevin thought for a few seconds. “You know, Marcus, I think the more gay guys you know the better the chance one of them might know someone who’s gay and single.”
“You’re probably right. I just have to get over my fear of being outed at school.”
“How about Jayden and Todd? They’re going to be here. Do they know you’re gay?”
“Um… yes, they do. I was interviewing Jayden and he talked about being gay and out at school. Somehow I let it slip that I was gay and not out at school. They’re really cool, and never said anything to anyone.”
“How about Doug and Mike?”
“Nope, they don’t know. At least, I haven’t told them.”
“Then I don’t think they’d know,” Ron told him. “They are very cool guys and I’m sure they’d keep a secret.”
“So are you going to tell Doug and Mike here today?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know, probably not. This isn’t like some big gay coming out party, so I’ll tell them at school.”
“Maybe this might be a better place to tell them,” Kevin suggested. “It’s more private than at school, and they’ll have a week to think about it.”
“Hmm… you know, Kev, I think you’re right. That way if someone says something I don’t have to worry about being outed.”
“What about my cousins, Art and Larry? They might find out about you today. Someone might say something thinking that no one is overhearing the conversation.”
“They don’t go to Hillcrest though, do they.”
“No. They go to Alcosta High,” Jason told him.
“Kev, are they gay?” Marcus asked.
“I don’t think so. But I don’t know. I never met them until I came here from Oregon. This will be my second time getting together with them.”
They heard the back door open and turned around to see Leshawn’s mom holding the door open for two boys who were dressed exactly alike except for the color of their board shorts, one red and one black.
“Leshawn, Kevin, Art and Larry are here!” she called out.
The two boys ran directly to the pool and must have jumped in based on the loud splashing noise.
Kevin stood up.” Let’s put these in the recycling bin and go back to the pool and I’ll introduce you guys to the twins. As you heard Aunt Donna say, their names are Art and Larry, their last name is Grant, and the way you can tell them apart is Art always wears something red and Larry always wears something black. Those are their favorite colors.”
“They never try to fool you guys?”
“I don’t know, I met them for the first time last week. You’ll have to ask Leshawn that question. Or ask them.”
“Speaking of Leshawn,” Jason said, “I wonder if he’s in the pool.”
“We’ll find out in a few seconds,” Ron commented.
Leshawn was in the pool with the twins.
When they got to the pool Kevin announced, “Hey, guys, let me introduce a few of our friends. This is Ron, this is Jason, and this is Marcus. Guys, these are the birthday boys and our cousins, Art and Larry Grant.”
“Hi, guys,” Jason and Ron said simultaneously. Marcus said “Hey, there.”
Art and Larry greeted them back. Jason, Ron, and Marcus slipped into the pool and stayed at the edge watching Leshawn attempting to fight off the twins who seemed intent on removing his Speedos.
Ron grinned. The twins were really good looking, like Kevin they were sort of a hot-chocolate brown color, except instead of straight dark brown hair like Kevin, they had tight curly black hair with red highlights.
Marcus decided to kid them about the upcoming Hillcrest-Alcosta basketball game. Alcosta definitely did not have a history of success on the basketball courts, and this year wasn’t an exception.
“I heard you two go to Alcosta High. The rest of us here go to Hillcrest and we have a basketball game against your team in a couple weeks, the Friday after spring break is over.”
“Yeah, I think so,” Art replied.
“We are so going to wipe up the floor of our gym with your team,” Marcus continued.
“Them’s fight’n words, stranger!” Larry said with his voice as deep and Texas-sounding as he could make it.
“Ain’t never gonna happen,” added Art.
“We are unbeaten this year, gentlemen.” Ron added. He decided to boast a bit about Hillcrest’s upcoming games. “We polished off last year’s league champions Livingston two weeks ago. We’ll trounce Cathedral next Saturday, and then do the same to Alcosta the Friday after that.”
“You willing to put a little wager on those specious claims?” Art asked.
“Sure, why not?” Ron replied. “Of course, I could get in trouble for leading you into a bet on a game the results of which are a sure thing in our favor. But hey, life is short and if I don’t make my fortune now, when am I supposed to make it?”
“And what do you expect to make?”
“A buck. That’s my bet. One crisp one-dollar bill on Hillcrest to beat Alcosta on Friday, April twenty-second.”
Art and Larry looked at each other. “You’re on,” Art stated with finality. “I assume we’ll see you at the game. It’s at Hillcrest, isn’t it?”
“Yes. All of us will be there. I prefer crisp new one-dollar bills, by the way. Oh, yeah, no change will be accepted, just a crisp new one-dollar bill.”
“You’re a dreamer, Ron. I feel sad taking a dollar from you.”
“I don’t know about that, Art, but I know I’ve got my money on the best team.”
“You can ask one of the guys on our team, Doug Lin. He’ll be here this afternoon.”
“I’ve read about him in the Times,” Larry said. “He’s really good. He’ll really be here? At Leshawn’s? For the pool party? Very cool!”
Art interrupted. “Hey, Larry, stop praising members of our opponent’s team!”
“If I read about a good basketball player I don’t care where he goes to high school, and I’ll talk about him if I want to.”
“Some Wolfpack fan you are!”
“I’m as good a Wolfpack fan as you, Art!”
Leshawn interrupted. “You guys will find out which team will win in a couple weeks, so stop arguing.”
“Hey, we weren’t arguing,” Art interjected. “We’re just having a nice, friendly discussion about sports. Right, guys?”
The others nodded their agreement. However, somehow it led to a disagreement between the twins about which of them could swim faster. Leshawn decided a race the length of the pool would be needed to settle the argument and hopefully stop the arguing. He made himself the starter. He ran into the house to his room and returned with a canned air horn.
“When I sound this horn it’s your signal to start. The contest is one length of the pool. The judge will be Kevin Cross, who has never told a lie in his entire life. Or so he says.”
That elicited a mixture of hoots of derision and laughter from the others, especially the twins and Leshawn.
The race started, and while it looked like it would be a tie, Art won when he slapped the end of the pool first. Larry yelled “I call a foul! I want the race repeated!” but he was ignored as the others gathered around and congratulated Art, and finally Larry joined in as well.
“Like I always tell him, I was first out of the chute so I’m older and wiser and ready to take on my little brother Lawrence in any fair competition. Of course, being the older brother I’ll get to decide what‘s fair competition,” which elicited a lot of laughter and some harsh words, all in jest. Art looked around with a mock shocked expression. “Are you questioning the fairness of the competition?” He shook his head. “I don’t understand all of you young kids these days. Now, in my days as a fourteen-year-old we got some respect from… Whoa!”
Art couldn’t continue because Leshawn had pushed him into the pool. Everyone jumped in and went after Art. Larry came to the surface holding a pair of red board shorts high in the air. He scrambled out of the pool, made easier because the others impeded Art’s attempt to chase his brother. Larry ran to the picnic area with Art’s board shorts and put them in the cooler chest, making sure to push them down into the ice. Then he ran into the house and the protection of Leshawn’s mom. She’d observed what happened and simply shook her head, then laughed along with Larry when he got to the kitchen.
The doorbell rang and Mr. Cross opened the door for Jayden, Todd, Doug, and Mike who came together courtesy of Jayden’s mom. He announced their arrival as he directed them to the pool and the pool house so they could change. At the same time, he came out and fired up the grill to start the chicken and burgers cooking.
Once the four newcomers were in the pool house changing, Art jumped out of the pool. Leshawn handed him a towel and, using it to hide his dangly bits, he ran to the cooler chest and removed his now very cold board shorts, then ran into the house. The pool was too noisy and too far from the house to hear what happened, but Art came out wearing his board shorts. He was accompanied by Larry, and they had their arms around each other as they walked back to the pool.
“See that, Kev?” Leshawn said. “It’s always like that with those guys. They love to argue and fight with each other, but they always show they’re best friends. I guess that’s because they’re twins.”
With eleven guys the pool was definitely full of male hormones. As a result, some of the guys decided it would be fun to do a bit of dunk-and-cover and surprise the others. Kevin put a stop to it by suggesting they play water polo. Because the pool wasn’t a standard competitive pool — which wouldn’t have a shallow end — they made it a single-end game. Leshawn pulled out a water polo net and installed it at the deep end. They decided to have teams of four players each, alternating which team would be on offense, and the game got under way.
So everyone would have a chance to participate, players would be rotated off each team. They had a great time, and everyone — including those whose skills weren’t as good as the others — had a lot of fun.
Ron had been rotated off and sat on the coping watching the play when he smelled chicken being grilled by Mr. Cross. He picked up Leshawn’s air horn and held the start button for about five seconds which startled the other guys but got their attention.
“I smell food!” Ron shouted.
The pool emptied out and everyone migrated to the picnic tables where Mr. Cross was finishing off the chicken and the first round of burgers.
“Is anyone hungry?” he asked.
The answer “Yes!” was unanimous.
After everyone had eaten so much they were positive they couldn’t eat or drink anything for a week, Mrs. Cross brought out a huge rectangular birthday cake with twenty-eight candles, fourteen for each of the twins, arranged so each twin could blow out his set of candles.
“Okay, here’s now we’re going to do this,” Leshawn announced. “Since Art is the oldest, he goes first. Dad will light his fourteen candles, and then he will have exactly ten seconds to blow them all out. Then it’ll be Larry’s turn. Dad will light his fourteen candles, and then he will have exactly ten seconds to blow them all out. If any are left, the twin with the fewest candles still lit is the winner. There’s no prize for the winner. But the loser has to help my mom clean up in the kitchen. If it’s a tie, both twins have to help my mom clean up in the kitchen. If all of the candles are blown out, then I have to help my mom clean up in the kitchen. Any questions?”
Jason whispered to Ron, “This offers some very interesting mathematical possibilities. Like, do you try to leave one or more candles lit? This should be fun.”
Larry said he had a question. “If one of Art’s candles is still lit and I accidentally blow it out along with mine, what happens?”
“It doesn’t count,” Leshawn said. “Any candles Art leaves burning will be counted against him and we don’t care what you do to blow them out, it won’t count. Any other questions?”
It turns out ten seconds was long enough for both Art and Larry to blow out all fourteen of their candles.
“Poor Leshawn!” Ron told Jason.
“Leshawn,” Kevin announced, “I’m going to help you clean up in the kitchen.”
Leshawn gave Kevin a big hug and kissed him on his cheek. “Thanks, cuz. I love you man!”
Everyone hooted and whistled and clapped. Poor Kevin was blushing and didn’t know what to say. Finally, he looked at Leshawn and grinned.
“You’re a great cousin, Leshawn. Art and Larry, take notice here. That’s how you show your appreciation for something one of your cousins does for you.”
Jason grinned and looked at Ron. “I think Kevin is a great friend for Leshawn. It’s like he has a brother now.”
Ron sat for a few seconds looking at Jason. Then he pulled Jason away from the table and into the trees. “You know, Jase, we talked about how Marcus needed to find a potential boyfriend. How about Leshawn? He doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
“What about Kevin?”
“They’re cousins, and Kev will probably move back to Oregon after this semester.” Ron grinned a sort of nasty grin. “And for the time being it would give Marcus a… I don’t remember the words, but it’s French for a threesome.”
They heard someone behind them say, “You’re thinking of a ménage a trois.”
Jason and Ron turned around to see Kevin standing there, grinning the same kind of nasty grin as Ron.
“Actually, I’ve been thinking the same thing about Marcus. I think he’s real cute, and I plan on talking to Leshawn tonight. It will solve Marcus’ problem about being gay but no boyfriend, and solve the same exact problem for Leshawn.”
Ron, never at a loss for something to say, looked at Jason. “See, great minds come up with the same great ideas. Right, Kev?”
“Absolutely, Ron, absolutely. Now, they are starting to serve the birthday cake, and I was told to collect you guys. It’s a two-layer dark chocolate cake with milk chocolate filling and vanilla icing on top. So, to paraphrase something Marie Antoinette never actually said, ‘Let us eat cake!’”
A big thanks to Pertinax Carrus for catching my typos!
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