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?
When Jason’s mom got home he asked her about using the pool on Saturday.
“I don’t see any reason why you can’t use it. You said the only ones coming over will be Ron, Steve, and Scott? So there will only be four of you?”
“That’s right. Jen and Devin can use the pool at the same time as us and there’s plenty of room for six of us so it’ll be okay. When we sit around and talk Jen and Devin can sit somewhere else and talk about their project, and vice versa. There’s lots of places around the pool or on the grass or on the patio.”
“It’s alright then. Just let Jen know that you asked me.”
“Okay, will do, Mom.”
Jason went upstairs to his room and phoned Scott.
“Hi, Scott. Sorry it’s so late, but my mom and sisters went shopping and just got home. Anyway, I got the okay for the pool on Saturday. Does your mom want to talk to my mom about you coming over Saturday?”
“No, why should she?”
“I don’t know. What I do know is that my mom wants to find out where I’m going when it’s someone new. I guess she wants to make sure someone will be home when I’m there, or that the kid isn’t an axe murderer or something. Moms can be weird that way. At least my mom can be.”
“Maybe it’s because my mom trusts me because I’m older. Anyway, I’m glad it’s all set for Saturday. What time should I be at your house?”
“How about eleven? That way it’ll be warm enough to get in the pool.”
“Eleven is good. Is there anything I can bring?”
“Just your Speedo, and flip flops for walking around. Do you want to play tennis?”
“No, the pool will be fine. But what about something to drink or eat?”
“You could bring some sodas. We’ll get a couple extra-large pizzas.”
“Okay on the sodas. I’ll bring some cash to help toward the pizzas.”
“That’s not necessary.”
“Yes it is. You’ve never seen me eat, have you!” Scott laughed.
“Oh. Well in that case, we’d better get three extra-large pizzas. Is there anything you don’t like on a pizza?”
“Those little fish, I don’t like those. They are too fishy and too salty for me, and it always seems like I’m chomping on their bones.”
Jason laughed. “You mean anchovies. I don’t like them either, so my mom never orders them.”
“Good. So I’ll be there on Saturday at eleven.”
“I’ll call Steve and let him know too. Now I’m going to get going on my homework. I’ll see you at school tomorrow. Bye, Scott.”
“Yeah, I need to get to my homework too. Bye, Jase.”
Jason assumed the rest of the week would really drag, but it didn’t. Everything moved along as usual. Get up, shower, eat breakfast, brush his teeth, walk to school with Jen, Thea, and Ron, go to Homeroom, go to morning classes, meet Ron and Steve and sit at their usual table with their friends for lunch, go to afternoon classes, walk home, do homework, have dinner, etc. etc. etc. He did that on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then on Friday after school they went to the basketball game with Alcosta.
Ron and Jason found seats behind the timekeeper’s table in a group that occupied the first four rows.
“See, it pays to arrive early,” Jason told Ron.
“I agree. These are really good seats.”
The game was in the Hillcrest High School gym, so most of the kids sitting in the bleachers were Hillcrest students and were very enthusiastic. A handful of Alcosta High School students sat on the visitors’ side, surrounded by Hillcrest fans. Ron kept looking for Art and Larry, but so far they hadn’t shown up.
“Hey, Jase,” Ron said, “Art and Larry aren’t here. I guess they don’t want to lose a one-dollar bet.”
Someone poked Ron in the back. He turned around and saw that Art and Larry were sitting in back of him.
“Looks like I was wrong, Jase. Art and Larry are here, and they decided to sit on the winner’s side.”
“As if!” one of the twins said, and they both laughed.
“You planning on sitting on our side?” Jason asked.
“Nope. We came in and saw you and decided to come over and bug you. By the way, do you know if I’m Art or Larry?”
“You’re wearing a black T so you’re Larry,” Ron stated.
“Damn, he’s good,” Larry said to his brother.
“Yeah,” Ron said, “not only do I remember how to tell you two apart, I remember our one-dollar bet on the outcome of tonight’s game. One crisp, new one-dollar bill.” He grinned, then bumped Jason with his elbow. “Right, Jase?”
“Yup,” Jason replied.
The Hillcrest bleachers were filling with students and parents. Marcus and Leshawn, Steve and Kevin, Mike, Todd, Jayden, Greg, and more friends of Jason and Ron filled in the rows in back of them. Art and Larry seemed to be comfortable sitting in the Hillcrest section.
“You guys really going to sit here and watch the game?” Ron asked.
“Yes,” Art replied.
“How come? Don’t you want to be on the Alcosta side with your friends?” Jason asked.
“Nope,” Larry replied.
Leshawn finally noticed that Art and Larry were sitting in back of Ron and Jason. He looked past Marcus and Steve and shouted at Kevin. “Hey, Kev, look who’s here,” and pointed.
Kevin looked where Leshawn pointed. “Hey, guys,” he called to Art and Larry. “Good to see you, but why are you sitting in the middle of the Hillcrest cheering section?”
“It’s a long story, and we’ll tell you after the game, okay?”
“Sure. We’re going somewhere to grab something to eat after. You want to join us?”
“Yeah, that’ll be great,” Larry replied.
The Hillcrest team came on the court for their warm-up, and everyone on the Hillcrest side shouted their approval.
Jason leaned across Leshawn. “Hey, Marcus, what’s Alcosta’s record?”
“I can answer that,” Art said, getting everyone’s attention. “We’ve won seven and lost seven in league, and we won six and lost four non-league games. We aren’t very good. But we did beat Campo twice.”
“Hey,” a guy sitting a couple rows up hollered, “why are guys from Alcosta sitting here?”
Ron turned around. “They’re our friends, and maybe they go to Alcosta but they’ve seen the error of their ways and they decided to sit on the winning side. You have a problem with that?”
“Alcosta students should sit on the Alcosta side,” the guy retorted.
Leshawn, hearing the exchange, stood and looked at the guy. “Hey, Brisco, these guys are my cousins and they can sit anywhere they want. Got it?”
“Sure Leshawn,” the guy replied, “I just wanted to make sure they weren’t here to cause any trouble.”
“Trust me, they aren’t here for anything like that,” Leshawn told him.
“Who’s that guy?” Jason asked Leshawn.
“Ryan Brisco. Sometime he goes off the deep end. He’s harmless, and basically a good guy.”
“Is he on the football team?”
“Yeah. This season he was our backup center and sometimes played guard.”
“Hey,” Marcus called out, “check it out!” He pointed at the court. Porter Nash and Doug Lin were shooting from the three-point line, and were being fed balls by two team assistants.
“What are they doing, Marcus?” Jason asked.
“That’s called intimidation, Jase, they want to scare Alcosta. I’ve been keeping count, and both Doug and Porter have only missed three each. Hang on a sec.”
Marcus stepped in back of the timer’s table and crouched in back of Gary Saxton, the Hillcrest statistician. They talked a bit, then Marcus returned to his seat.
“They’ve each made twenty-two three-point shots and missed three. It’s a friendly bet. Whoever has the best score after trying forty shots buys the other guy a burger at George’s after the game.”
“Hey,” Jason said, “that’s where we’re planning on going after the game. If that’s where the team’s going we’d better get there as soon as we can to make sure we can get a table and enough chairs.”
Everyone agreed and concentrated on the three-point contest. The Alcosta team stopped their warm-ups and watched along with everyone else in the gym. Doug ended up winning the contest making thirty-six out of forty shots. Porter made thirty-four out of forty. When it was over the two guys shook hands and laughed as they walked back to the bench.
Ron turned around and waved at Mike Nakamura. “Your boyfriend did good, Mike.”
“He better have,” Mike said. “If he’d lost he’d never have heard the end of it from me.”
Larry leaned down and whispered to Ron, “Is Doug Lin gay?”
“Yeah, he and Mike are gay and are boyfriends.”
“They’re out at school?” Art asked.
“Yup. There are a lot of guys who are out at Hillcrest.”
Art turned to Larry and grinned. Ron’s attention returned to the court when the horn sounded announcing the coin toss.
Porter Nash was in the lineup as the starting center for Hillcrest. Of course, Doug Lin was a starting guard as usual. The game got underway and after the first quarter with Hillcrest leading 31 to 12 no one had any doubt that Hillcrest would win the game. At the half Hillcrest led 59 to 27. To start the second half Coach Larsen started his second string lineup, and rotated his first, second, and backup payers to try to keep the game under Hillcrest’s control yet not make it a blowout. The final score was 98 to 58, much to the delight of the Hillcrest fans and the disappointment of the Alcosta fans.
Ron turned to Art and Larry and held out his hand.
“One crisp, new one-dollar bill, please!”
“Oh, the embarrassment of crushing defeat, and the inequity of gambling!” Art grumbled. “Never again will I allow myself to be dragged into a wager where the odds are so completely stacked against me.”
Larry elbowed his brother in the ribs. “Enough with the speechifying, Art. Just pay Ron his dollar. His team earned it for him.”
Art pulled an envelope out of his shirt pocket and handed it to Ron. Across the front it read, ‘To the Winner’ and when Ron opened it there was a crisp new one-dollar bill, as promised.
“Thank you, thank you!” Ron stated, “I appreciate this modest addition to my savings account.”
“Come on,” Jason said, “let’s get going otherwise George’s will be filled and we won’t be able to get a table.”
Ron poked Jason. “You made a poem!” he declared, then he started laughing, and kept repeating, “We won’t be able, to get a table!” as they walked out of the gym.
“Dufus!” Jason retorted.
By the time they got to George’s it seemed to be over half full, but they saw most of the bigger tables weren’t occupied but had ‘Reserved’ placards on them. Marcus walked up to the counter and said something to the cashier. She walked into where the tables were and Marcus followed, waving so the other guys would follow him. She led them to two of the large tables and took off the placards.
“These are your tables, Marcus.”
“Thanks, Bethany,” Marcus replied.
“Sit down guys. If you’re wondering what happened here, I called and made a reservation for us, two tables that seat eight each. Those other two tables with reserved placards are for the basketball team.”
“How did you do that?” Leshawn asked. “George’s doesn’t take reservations.”
“They do if it’s for eight or more,” Marcus replied. “Also knowing the cashier helps too. Bethany is my cousin.”
The rest of their group arrived, including Doug Lin and Porter Nash.
“Where’s the rest of the team?” Marcus asked.
Doug answered, “Some of them are going to a party at Lee Tyler’s house. His folks are out of town. Some of us aren’t into that kind of party. There’ll be beer and I don’t drink.”
“I don’t either,” Porter added.
“Lemme introduce everyone,” Doug said. “These are the guys from the basketball team who decided to come to George’s. Besides me there’s Porter Nash,” who waved when Doug pointed to him, “and the rest of the guys are Wil Crites, Tony Perez, Greg Parker, Frank Lessing, Rob Fratini, Bill Presley, Dana Emory, John O’Reilly, Ian Stark, and Jim Warey. And Gary Saxton who’s our scorekeeper and statistician.” Doug pointed to each of them as he said their name, and they stood and waved.
“And who are you?” Art asked.
“I’m Doug Lin. How about you guys introducing yourselves to the team?”
No one else seemed eager to start, so Marcus took the lead the same way that Doug had.
“Okay, you guys on the team all know me, I’m Marcus Benson. I’ll point out each of the others here. Jason Phillips, Ron Cantham, Leshawn Cross and his cousin Kevin Cross, Mike Nakamura, Steve Graff, Art and Larry Grant, they’re twins and go to Alcosta High through no fault of their own, Todd Brooks, Jayden Allen, and Greg Derringer. The two girls are Linda Garner and Bev Martin who are on our girls’ basketball team and who you guys probably know.”
Wil Crites stood up. “How about we mix our groups. I have to be with this bunch from the varsity basketball team all the time. So half of us will move to Marcus’s table and half you guys and one of you girls move over here. How about every other kid from each table move to the other?”
Everyone thought that would be a good idea and the transfer was accomplished with only a moderate amount of confusion. Jason and Ron were separated, Ron moving to one of the team tables. Jason ended up with Porter Nash on one side and Frank Lessing on the other. Both played center, Porter at six foot seven inches and Frank at six foot five inches. He looked up at Frank then at Porter.
“Sitting between you two makes me feel like a little bush growing between two tall trees in a forest. I wish I was as tall as you guys.” He grinned, and Porter and Frank started laughing.
“Being tall,” Porter said, “has its disadvantages. Like my mom is always calling me to go downstairs to get something down from a shelf she can’t reach. My bed isn’t long enough for me to stretch out unless I scoot all the way up to the headboard or sleep corner-to-corner. I definitely need a new extra-long bed!”
“That’s so true,” Frank said. “I’m the one who has to store stuff in the top of our garage. It’s hard finding clothes I like, and what’s in the big and tall shops is designed for adults, not teens. I’d look like a real dork if my mom bought me that stuff.”
“Not just clothes, but shoes, too,” Porter added. “Tall guys have bigger feet. When I go to the barber for a haircut he has to stand on a stool and that looks weird. And the desks at school aren’t made for anyone over six feet tall.”
“Urinals aren’t mounted high enough and toilets are too low,” Frank said. “The showerhead and mirror in my bathroom at home are mounted way too low, so I have to stoop down to take a shower and comb my hair.”
“Most doors are six foot eight inches tall, and with shoes on I’m almost six-eight. So even if there’s enough space I’m starting to duck whenever I go through a door,” Porter complained. “When I went to buy stuff to go skiing I had a hard time finding gloves big enough for me.”
“I’m too tall for some of the rides at amusement parks. That’s so bogus,” Frank groused. “And I’m too tall to sit in the driver’s seat in most cars. No fancy sports cars for me!”
“When I go to a movie,” Porter said, “there’s always some idiot behind me that tells me to take off my head or sit on the floor, and they think they’re being real funny. Then I stand up and turn around and stare at them and they shut up or move.”
“So don’t be so ready to get real tall,” Frank told Jason. “You might think it’s cool, but unless you play basketball there are a lot of disadvantages.”
Jason nodded in agreement with what Frank told him, but still wished that he could be as tall at these two guys. The disadvantages sounded minor in exchange for being tall. He wondered what some of the other advantages there might be. One was probably being better endowed. He’d have to ask Marcus, who probably saw these guys both suiting up before a game and showering after. He started to laugh, but Porter and Frank were talking to others and didn’t ask him what was so funny. If they had, it would have been very embarrassing.
After they said their goodbyes and left George’s, Ron saw Kevin leaving with Art and Larry. He wondered what was going on, but maybe it was family business. He also realized that the twins never explained why they decided to sit on the Hillcrest side.
When Jason came down for breakfast the next morning he decided to turn on the pool heater and leave the cover on. That would warm up the water enough to make it comfortable to swim by eleven o’clock. He came back into the house and walked into the kitchen. No one was there, so he got some cereal and rinsed some blueberries and put them on top, then added milk. He got a bagel and the peanut butter, sliced the bagel and put it in the toaster oven, and sat down to his breakfast.
He wondered where his mom had gone. Usually she would be up by now. He checked the time, eight thirty-five, and shrugged. The blueberries were wonderful and added a lot of flavor to his cereal. The toaster oven beeped and his bagel was done. He grabbed the two halves and added a thick spread of peanut butter. He looked at the coffee maker. The pot was about half full, so he filled a mug about half way and ate the rest of his breakfast. After he put his dishes in the dishwasher and returned the milk and jar of peanut butter to the refrigerator, he went outside and checked the water temperature. Still not quite warm enough to retract the cover, so he went inside and got his Kindle and went back outside. The sun was warm so he pulled off his board shorts and T and used them as a cushion and sat down to read.
After a while he heard the phone and ran inside to answer.
“Hey, Jase, when do you want me to come over?”
“Hey, Ron. Any time. How about now?”
The next thing Jason heard was the doorbell.
“Hold on, there’s someone at the door. I’ll be right back.”
Jason put down the phone and rushed to the front door and opened it.
Ron stood on the porch grinning and holding his cell. “Am I too early?”
“You dufus! Why’d you call me when you could have used the doorbell button?”
“I did, but there was no answer. What were you doing?” Ron wiggled his eyebrows and grinned. “And by the way, can I come in?”
“Yeah, come on in. In fact, come on out. I was sitting out back reading a story on my Kindle.” As they walked through the kitchen Jason hung up the phone, and they continued outside.
“I called your cell,” Ron said, “but you didn’t answer. So I figured you were in the kitchen eating breakfast and didn’t have your cell. So I walked over. Then when no one answered the door, I phoned your house number. And that’s how we got to where we are right now. But I still have a question. How come no one else answered the door?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know where everyone else is. I suppose I oughta check.”
“Maybe your folks went for a walk, and Jen and Thea are still asleep.”
“Could be. More likely Mom and Dad went shopping. But you’re right about Jen and Thea. Any time they can sleep late they’ll do it.”
“What time is Devin coming over?”
“I thought he was supposed to be here at nine so he and Jen could work on their English project.”
“Well, it’s almost nine, Jase. Shouldn’t you go upstairs and wake Jen?”
“Good idea. I’ll be right back. If you want something to eat or drink, just go in and get it. You know where everything is.”
Jason ran upstairs and saw Jen’s bedroom door was open and the bathroom door was closed. He knocked on the bathroom door.
“Jen, are you in there?”
“Yeah. What do you want?”
“What time is Devin going to be here?”
“Okay. I just wanted to make sure you were up.”
“Thanks for checking, Jase. I’ll be down in about ten minutes.”
As long as he was upstairs anyway, Jason decide to check his folks’ bedroom. The door was open and the bed was made, so they were out and about somewhere. He went downstairs and outside, where he joined Ron.
“Jen’s in the bathroom. She said Devin will be here at nine thirty.”
“What are you reading?” Ron asked.
“Wool. It’s a science fiction story about a future when people live underground in silos.”
“In silos? Like they store grain in?”
“No, these are silos that had missiles in them. But the missiles are gone now, maybe used in a war like World War 3. But I don’t know that much about it yet.”
“Lemme know if it‘s worth reading.”
Ron looked at the pool. “So, when do you want to open up the pool cover?”
“Well, Steve and Scott are going to be here around eleven, so I’d say as soon as one of them gets here.”
“So we have to wait until Steve or Scott gets here before we can go swimming?”
“No, if you want to go swimming earlier we can do that. Only thing is, the water’s not real warm yet.”
“Oh. How about tennis?”
“Sure. We’ll have to sweep the leaves off the court, and get a couple racquets and some tennis balls and we’ll be ready.”
“How about you get the racquets and balls and I’ll sweep the court. Where’s the broom?”
“I’ll get it for you.”
Jason went into the pool house and got the push broom they used to sweep the tennis court and handed it to Ron.
“Here you go. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Jason walked back into the house and saw Jen and Thea eating breakfast.
“Hey, Jase,” Thea said. “What’re you doing?”
“Morning, Thea. Ron and I are going to play tennis. The water’s not warm enough yet to go swimming. Morning, Jen.”
“Morning, Jase. Thanks for turning on the pool heater.”
“No problema. We’re going to use it later anyway. Do you know where the folks are?”
“Nope. Did they leave a note?”
“I didn’t see one, and usually Mom would put it on the kitchen table. Ron thinks they might have gone for a walk.”
“Our folks? Go for a walk? I don’t think so. Are both cars in the garage?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t look. I will when I come back downstairs.”
Jason went upstairs to his bedroom, pulled off his flip-flops and put on socks and his tennis shoes. He pulled his racquet and one Ron used when he and Jason played tennis, and two cans of balls. He went downstairs and outside where Ron had finished sweeping the court.
“Here you go, this is the racquet you usually use, and a can of balls. Which end of the court do you want?”
“I don’t care. How about that one?” and Ron pointed to the end of the court that backed against the side of the garage.
“Okay, let’s practice a bit then we can play until we get tired of it and want to go swimming.” The decision to play tennis made Jason forgot to check the cars in the garage.
While they played a casual tennis match, not really caring who won or lost, Devin Elrich arrived and he and Jen used the family room to work on their English project. Thea came outside and pulled a lounge chair around so she could watch Jason and Ron play tennis.
“Hey, Thea, you want to play?” Ron asked.
“Nope. I’m going to watch, then when you pull the pool cover off I’ll jump into the pool and relax in the water.”
“You just want to see Devin Elrich in his Speedos, right, Thea?” Jason joked.
“Absolutely! I want to see if he’s as sexy as I think he is.”
“Thea! That’s not a nice thing to say!”
“Don’t tell me you and Ron won’t be giving him a good looking over. So there’s no reason I can’t look, too.”
“We’re not going to be giving anyone a good looking over!”
Thea grinned, then wiggled her eyebrows. “Riiight!”
Thea pulled off her shorts and T and laid back on the lounge chair in a Bikini swimsuit. It was orange, actually bright orange, and she looked fantastic. That didn’t make Jason happy.
“You can’t wear that, Thea!” he said.
“It’s too skimpy. If Mom saw you in that….”
Thea interrupted. “Mom bought it for me. So there’s no reason I can’t wear it. And I intend to wear it today, in the pool, and on a lounge chair just like this one.”
By now Ron was laying flat on the tennis court, laughing.
Jason was stumped. If his mother bought the Bikini for Thea… well, he didn’t care. Well, he did care, but Thea held the winning hand and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
Ron got up and walked over to where Jason stood staring at Thea. Then he bumped shoulders with his boyfriend.
“Cool it, Jase,” he said quietly. “Remember, be Thea’s brother, not her father.”
“I know. It’s frustrating, though.”
“Remember what we talked about a couple weeks ago?”
“Yeah, yeah, I remember. But jeez, look at her!”
“I did. She looks great. Let her be herself, Jase.”
“Okay, I will. It’ll be interesting to see if Jen freaks about what Thea’s wearing.”
“Oh my god, you’ll never learn, will you Jase.”
“Sure, I’ve learned. Don’t be Thea’s father, be her brother. Let Thea be herself. And don’t intervene if someone else, like Jen, freaks about what Thea’s wearing.”
Ron shook his head, totally unconvinced that Jason had learned anything. Maybe that’s part of being a big brother. Thank god he didn’t have any younger brother or sister so he wouldn’t be put to the test.
“Jase, how about checking the water temp. It’s about ten-thirty.”
“Okay.” He pulled the cover aside and felt the water. It felt okay, warm enough for swimming.
“I think it’s good. I’m going to retract the cover.”
Jason went into the pool house and switched on the pool cover power, then went back to the pool to the working end of the pool cover mechanism and pressed the retract button. It took a few minutes, and the pool was ready to use.
“Hey, Thea! The pool’s ready. The water should be warm,” he hollered.
“Thanks, Jase.” She got up and walked to the end of the pool and walked down the steps into the pool then sat down.
“Feels great! You guys oughta come in.”
“We have to wait for Steve and Scott. I can’t open the front door if I’m all wet.”
“Mom can open the door.”
“She’s not home, and neither is Dad.”
“Sure they are.”
“When did they get home?”
“Just before I came outside.”
“Sheesh!” Jason went inside. His folks were sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee.
“Morning, Jase,” his mother said.
“Hi, Jase,” his father said.
“Hi. Where’d you two go so early this morning?”
“We went for a walk.”
Jason grinned. “Yeah.” Then he paused for about fifteen seconds. He knew how long he stood just looking at his folks as they drank their coffee and read the morning newspaper because he watched the clock.
“Steve Graff and Scott Menasco are coming over. If you hear the doorbell would you please let them in and send them out back? Ron and I will be in the pool.”
Betty looked up. “Alright, Jase. What time will they be here?”
“Okay. Anything else?”
“Yeah. I’m curious, where did you go on your walk this morning? Did you see anything interesting?”
“I saw a house for sale,” Betty said, “about five blocks from here. It’s a small house, just two bedrooms, but I thought about your grandma and grandpa living in Roseville. This would be a nice house for them, and they could afford it by selling their current house. I saw a sign that there was a brokers’ tour this morning at eight thirty, so I called my friend Jeanne Wilcox. She a real estate agent, and I asked if we could go with her to see that house this morning. So that’s where your dad and I went on our walk.”
“Do you think Grandma and Grandpa would move here?”
“They’ve both been complaining about how hot it gets in the Sacramento area, so yes, I think they’d move here.”
“But it gets hot here in the summer.”
“It gets a lot hotter in Roseville. Also, they’d have us nearby if they had a problem, like becoming ill or needing a ride somewhere.”
“Cool. How much is the house?”
“The asking price is $419,000. But the house has been on the market for almost six months because the price they’re asking is too high, and Jeanne told us that the seller is motivated to get it sold. The house is vacant, and it looks like it’s in good condition.”
“Wow, that’s a lot of money!”
“It sounds like a lot, but that’s the going price for a condo of about the same size. And your grandparents wouldn’t want to live in a condo. Getting a single-family home for that price is not unreasonable.”
“But a home inspection will be needed to prove that it’s as good as it looks,” Jason’s dad added.
“When are you going to tell Grandma and Grandpa about it?”
“We want more information about the house before we talk to them,” Betty said.
“Okay. It would be cool if they could live near here. You’ve got my yes vote,” Jason told his folks. “I’m heading outside now. I want to get into the pool. Thanks for showing Steve and Scott to the backyard when they get here.”
Jason went outside and dropped his shorts, T, and tennis shoes and socks in the pool house, then sat down on the edge of the pool with his feet in the water.
“Come on in, Jase. The water feels real good,” Thea said.
Ron splashed Jason. “I agree,” he said. “The water’s fine.”
Jason joined his boyfriend and sister in the pool, and they hung out waiting for Steve and Scott.
“Thea, we have some things to talk about with Steve and Scott later. If I ask you, please make yourself scarce so we can have some privacy, okay?” Jason asked.
“No problem, just let me know. You can give me a hitchhiker signal and I’ll know what that means.”
“How do you know about hitchhikers?” Ron asked her.
Thea looked at Ron like he’d just landed on Earth from some other planet. “Duh, I watch TV and there are movies that show people hitchhiking.”
“I just wondered,” Ron said, “because that’s something you don’t see around here.”
The back door opened and Scott came outside.
“Hi, Scott!” Jason shouted. “The pool is great. Come on in.”
Scott laughed. “I think I should change first.”
“You can use the pool house,” Jason said, point to the small building at one end of the pool.
“Okay. I’ll join you in a couple minutes.”
As soon as Scott entered the pool house the back door opened and Steve came outside.
“Hey, Steve!” Ron hollered.
“Hi, guys. Hi, Thea. I’ll use your pool house to stow my stuff.” He headed for the pool house.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if Scott was naked and Steve walked in on him,” Thea said.
“You know, Thea, sometimes you have a dirty mind,” Ron commented.
“Never!” Thea rebutted.
Jason just shook his head. There wasn’t anything to say. ‘Twelve years old and… and what?’ he thought. He decided to do what Ron told him, act like her brother and not her father and let Mom and Dad worry about her.
Scott and Steve seemed to be taking a very long time in the pool house. Jason wasn’t the only one who noticed it. Both Ron and Thea did as well.
“I’m gonna get those guys out here,” Ron stated, and started walking to the pool house.
“Me too,” Thea said.
“Like hell you are!” Jason shouted. “Get your butt back in the pool.”
“Spoilsport,” Thea said, then stuck her tongue out at him.
“When it comes to what might be going on between two guys in the pool house, it’s Ron who’ll figure out what’s going on, if anything, and you aren’t going to see something that you shouldn’t see. If that makes me a spoilsport, so be it.”
After a few minutes Ron, Scott, and Steve came out of the pool house.
“Well?” Jason said, grinning a sort of smarmy grin.
“Scott’s shorts have a tie inside the waist, and the tie got all knotted up when he tried to untie them. Steve was trying to help, but I say he made it worse though he disagrees. Anyway, I found some garden shears in the pool house and used them to cut the knot.”
Jason must have looked like he didn’t believe a word of the explanation, because Ron stared at him and asked, “Really?”
Thea looked disappointed, and paddled to the opposite side of the pool.
“My mom came with me,” Scott said, “and I think she’s still here. I’m going to take my shorts in and see if she thinks they can be fixed.”
Scott ran to the house and walked inside. He didn’t come right out, so Jason assumed that his mother hadn’t left and he was showing her the shorts. Jason did notice that Scott had an amazing, muscular body and a great butt. He heard Thea telling Steve to stop drooling, and that made Ron bust up laughing. Jason shook his head again. ‘Sisters,’ he thought, ‘I’ll never understand them.’
Steve was sitting on the steps at the shallow end of the pool, where the water was waist high on him. Jason walked into the pool and sat next to him.
“Well, what do you think about Scott so far?”
Steve turned and stared at Jason. “I think I’m in love. I know I’m in lust.” He grinned. “Don’t ask me to stand up,” and he started laughing. Jason caught on right away and laughed.
Ron walked over and sat on the other side of Steve.
“Why are you two just sitting here on the steps laughing like idiots? Let’s set up to play some water polo or jump in at the deep end and race over here, or something.”
“I can’t,” Steve said.
“Why… oh my god, do you mean…” Ron asked.
“Majorly. I gotta let this thing deflate before Scott comes out. I don’t want Thea to see me, either.”
Ron grinned. “Thea is on a lounge chair next to the tennis court, so no worries.” Then he wiggled his eyebrows, and continued, “I say you can keep your problem by thinking about how sexy Scott is because he’s hot for you.”
Steve looked delighted. “How do you know?” he asked.
“When I was cutting the tie inside his shorts, I put my left hand inside so I wouldn’t jab or cut him with the shears, and I felt something long and very hard inside. Didn’t you see him blush when I was working on him?”
“No, I was staring at you cutting him in a dangerous place with those sharp garden shears.”
“Here he comes,” Jason said, watching Scott come out of the house wearing a pair of Speedos that left almost nothing to the imagination.
“Hey,” Scott said, “my mom says she can replace the tie. It might not be the same color, but it’s inside so it doesn’t make any difference what color it is. Anyway, she went home, and said I should call to let her know when I’m ready leave.”
He sat down on the coping and dangled his feet in the pool. Ron poked Steve with his elbow. “Stand up,” he whispered.
Steve decided to follow Ron’s command and stood up. Jason watched Scott’s reaction. He looked up when he heard the water splashing, and is eyes opened wide and he grinned and started chuckling. He slid off the coping and into the pool then moved down to where it was slightly deeper and leaned against the side. Steve walked through the water and leaned against the side next to Scott.
Then Scott stage whispered to Steve, “To paraphrase an old Mae West quote, ‘Is that a banana in your Speedo, or is it because you’re glad to see me?”
Ron and Jason overheard what he said and burst out laughing.
“Who’s Mae West and where did you hear that?” Steve asked.
“The Nick at Night cable channel showed some old W.C. Fields movies and Mae West was his costar. She was a very sexy blonde and she had a reputation of being way too sexy for movies and stage shows of that time back in the nineteen-thirties. Anyway, in one of her stage shows, she’s supposed have said a line similar to the one I just quoted. There are lots of other versions besides the one about a banana and they always get lots of laughs. I’m into old movies and I like the banana version the best.”
Scott looked down to try to see the parts of Steve that were under water. “And by the way, Steve, I’m very impressed.”
Steve blushed and turned away. Scott started laughing. “You have to chill, man. Don’t be embarrassed, it happens to all us guys, and that includes me, too.” Then he grinned, “I hope that you got yours because you were looking at me.”
“It was,” Steve said, looking up at Scott. Then he whispered, “You are so freakin’ hot, Scott!”
Jason and Ron were still sitting on the steps at the shallow end of the pool.
“Looks like our job is finished, and very successfully,” Ron told Jason.
“Yes, it does,” Jason replied, “but I’d better ask them to make what they say audience-appropriate. Thea could jump into the pool at any time, and Jen and Devin will be finishing up soon and coming out to use the pool, too.”
“I’ll leave it for you to tell the S-boys. They’re your guests here,” Ron said, dipping his hands in the water then acting like he was washing off any responsibility for talking to Steve and Scott.
“The S-boys?” Jason giggled. “Where did you dredge that up?”
“Steve and Scott, S and S, they’re boys, ergo, the S-boys.”
“Ergo?” Jason shook his head. “Man, you come up with the weirdest words.”
“Hey, ergo is a perfectly good word. It’s short, a lot shorter than its definition, which is ‘therefore.’ Ergo, it’s a great word.”
Jason started laughing, which attracted the attention of Steve and Scott, and of Thea as well.
“I gotta go talk to those two.” Jason got up and swam to where Steve and Scott were standing at the edge of the pool.
“I’d like to ask a favor,” he said. “Jen and Devin will come out soon and get in the pool, and when they do Thea’s going to get in as well. The four of us need to keep our discussions age-appropriate when they’re around. If you want to chat, you can use the chairs over there.” Jason pointed to four chairs under the trees at the other side of the yard.
“Hey, no problem,” Scott said. “I understand.”
“Me too,” Steve added.
“Say, is Devin Elrich in any of your classes, Scott?” Jason asked.
“Nope. What is he, a freshman?”
“No, he’s a sophomore.”
“Yeah, he wouldn’t likely be in my classes. Maybe Spanish, but you know he’s not in our class, Jase. Maybe PE, but he’s not in my class. He could have been in Algebra 2 with me and Steve, but he isn’t.”
“He’s not in any of my other classes,” Steve said.
“Why all this interest in this guy?” Scott asked.
“He’s mega-hot looking,” Jason told them. “He looks like a surfer kid, blond hair with bleached tips, perfect teeth, smiles all the time. Ron’s eager to get a look at him when the only thing he has on is his swimsuit.”
“You’re not jealous, Jase?” Steve asked, smirking.
“Nope. I told Ron, ‘No double dipping.’ That’s something my dad said, meaning that Ron already has a boyfriend, me, and he can look but not leer. And no touching! Especially no touching.”
“Aww, that’s mean, Jase,” Steve said. Then he poked Jason with his elbow. “You know those rules apply to you, too.”
“Yes they do. And that’s a good thing. Say, what are you guys doing tomorrow?”
“I hadn’t thought about that, yet,” Scott said. “Say, Steve, you want to see a movie tomorrow?”
“Sure. It’ll have to be in the afternoon.” Steve didn’t tell Scott that he went to church on Sunday mornings. He wasn’t sure what is reaction would be. That’s something that could be discussed later.
“There’s a movie I’ve wanted to see, ‘Moonrise Kingdom.’ It’s about two kids who fall in love. A boy and a girl, in case you were thinking there’d be some boy-boy action. My cousin saw it and he said it’s a different kind of movie, funny but definitely not a comic book story or a love story or an action adventure flick. But Ryan, my cousin, said there’s a big hurricane scene at the end. Because I’m into movies, I’ve wanted to go see it, and it’s at the Cineplex.”
“Sounds good,” Steve said. “Let’s do it. I’ll tell my mom, and that it’s about a couple kids in a hurricane. That oughta make her happy.”
Ron swam over to where the others were standing in the pool “Hey, guys. There’s Jen and Devin.” He pointed to the patio.
Thea saw them walking over to the pool, got out of her lounge chair, and jumped in and swam over to the others.
Jen and Devin walked to the side of the pool across from the others.
“Hi, guys. This is Devin Elrich. Devin, that’s my brother Jason and sister Thea, you met them the other morning. The others are Ron, Steve, and Scott,” she said, pointing to each in turn.
They all said ‘Hi’ to Devin. None of them doubted that he looked like a surfer kid, a surfer kid with a very hot body.
“Jump in,” Ron said, “the water temp is perfect.”
“Thanks, I will,” Devin said. “I need to change first.” He looked at the pool house. “Can I use that?”
“Sure, there are shelves in the pool house you can use,” Jen said. “Where is your stuff?”
“Oh, I’m wearing my suit under my shorts. I can just put my shorts and T in there.”
He walked over to the pool house, and in about one minute he returned.
Jason’s eyes opened wide. Devin had a really tiny Speedo Bikini swimsuit. It was bright red with two vertical black strips on the left hip. The sides were super short.
“Devin,” Jason asked, “how wide are those pieces at your hips?”
“One inch.” He grinned. “I’ve got three pair, these red ones plus white and black pairs too. I like these red ones best.”
“They don’t hide anything, do they?” Ron asked.
“Just enough so I’m not illegal.” He chuckled.
“Did your mom know you bought these Bikini brief swimsuits?”
“She bought them for me.”
“Oh my god! My folks would never let me wear something that tiny.”
“You think those are tiny?” Jason said. He shouted, “Steve, get out of the pool and stand up, okay?”
“Okay.” Steve pulled himself out of the water and stood on the coping, facing Devin. Devin’s eyes opened wide.
“And you think my suit is small?” he said.
“I know, I need to replace my Speedo. It’s too small for me,” Steve said.
Devin laughed. “Man, you can say that again.”
Steve repeated, “It’s too small for me,” then he laughed.
“I love that they’re bright yellow. They are real cool, especially because they’re too small. Man, your boyfriend must think you’re hawt!”
“My boyfriend?” Steve asked. “Why do you assume that I’m gay?”
“Oh, sorry!” Devin said, and Jason thought he really did look sorry. “I really screwed up. I saw you and that guy,” he pointed to Scott, “were leaning against each other. I apologize.”
“No problem,” Scott said, then he decided it would be best if he changed the subject. “Look, there are seven of us. Let’s figure out something we can do in the pool. Like pool hockey, or water polo, or something like that.”
“We have a water polo net we can set up at the deep end,” Jason said. “Let’s play water polo. Thea, will you be the referee?”
“Okay. Do I get to use my whistle?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Great. I’ll run inside and get it.” She dried off and put on her flip-flops then ran into the house.
“Okay,” Devin asked, “how do we play?”
Jason and Ron described game play, with an emphasis on how the teams would switch since there was only one net.
Thea returned, blew her whistle twice, and shouted, “Now we have to pick the two teams. Because I’m the referee, I’m going to take on that job. Scott, Jen, and Steve will be one team, and Ron, Jase, and Devin will be the other. To tell the teams apart, I’ve borrowed six of Jase’s T’s, three red and three white. Scott, Jen, and Steve are team red. The other guys are team white.”
She handed the three red T’s to Scott, and the three white T’s to Jason.
“Now put them on and let’s get this show on the road!”
The match got going, not without a lot of mistakes and joking and whistle blowing and yelling from the referee. Finally, they ended up with a semblance of organized teams and the game got more or less serious — well, maybe slightly serious — and a lot of fun.
Finally, Steve shouted, “Stop! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need a break.”
Thea blew her whistle three times, then shouted, “Break time!”
After everyone pulled out of the pool, Jason reminded them that their sodas were in the cooler chests. Except for Devin. He didn’t know about bringing sodas. Since he was Jen’s guest, she went into the kitchen and got an eight-pack of Coke out of the refrigerator to share with Devin and Thea.
Scott and Steve went to the chairs under the trees. Jason, Ron, and Devin sat around the picnic table. Jen and Thea took two lounge chairs and pushed them together. In each case there were discussions, three sets of very different discussions.
Devin asked, “Jen said you two are freshmen. How do you like going to school at Hillcrest?”
Jason grinned. “Of course, Hillcrest is the only high school we’ve ever gone to. But we have friends who go to other high schools and we talk to them and we’re glad we are where we are.”
“And our basketball team is heading for the playoffs,” Ron said. “That is very cool.”
Devin smirked. “I see you guys snagged Porter Nash. When I was at Wilson we played a non-league game against Coronado Christian and they killed us. Porter scored over thirty points, I don’t remember the exact number, but he dominated the game and blocked at least a dozen shots. We were so lucky his folks moved and he transferred to Hillcrest. And now I’m at Hillcrest. Go figure!”
“He played great in our games against Cathedral and Alcosta,” Ron observed. “Our next game is with our arch-rival Campo, at their cracker-box of a gym. They won both games against us last year, but we won the first game against them this year and we wiped the floor with them. But that was at our gym.”
“This’ll be the second Hillcrest game I’ve seen,” Devin said. “If the Campo gym is small, how are we going to get all of our fans into the stands?”
“We’re not,” Jason said. “We’ve been allocated about five hundred seats, and they are going to be distributed in a raffle. Everyone in the school can be in the raffle by entering. So have you entered?” he asked Devin.
“Uh huh. They made an announcement in Homeroom and took the names of the students who wanted to be in the raffle. About half my Homeroom entered, most of the boys and some of the girls.”
“Ron and I entered too. I hope we get tickets.”
Devin sat staring at Jason and Ron, making them think he wanted to say something. The delay almost got embarrassing when Devin cleared his throat.
“Are there many gay kids at Hillcrest?”
“It’s hard to tell. Some are out, like Doug Lin on the basketball team,” Ron said.
Devin interrupted, “Doug Lin is gay?”
“Yup, gay and out. His boyfriend is Mike Nakamura,” Jason said.
“Anyway,” Ron continued, “there are maybe thirty or so gay guys who are out that we know. There’s probably a lot more who are still in the closet or in other grades, but there’s no way to find out how many.”
“Why would they stay in the closet if there are a lot of kids who are out?”
Jason answered that question. “Maybe their folks are religious and think being gay is a sin. Maybe their folks are homophobic. Maybe they’re afraid that their friends will reject them. Maybe they have a girlfriend. Maybe they’re not sure of whether they are gay or straight or bi, and are confused.”
“Do you go to the GSA meetings?”
“Yeah,” Ron replied. “Jase and I are members. So is Jen. The main thing to remember is GSA means Gay-Straight Alliance. You can be gay or straight and you never have to tell anyone which you are.”
“Ron and I are boyfriends, and we’re out at school,” Jason said. “By being out I don’t mean we wear a sign around our necks saying ‘I’m gay!’ but if someone we know asks we’ll tell them we are, and if someone we don’t know asks I respond by saying ‘Why do you ask? Are you gay?’ and either that ends the conversation, or they say something like a friend told them and they just wanted to find out if it’s true, then I decide if I want to continue the conversation or not.”
“That’s a cool way to respond,” Devin responded.
“Can I ask you a question, Devin?” Ron asked.
“Sure. I can’t say whether I’ll be able to answer it or not, but go ahead.”
“Are you gay?”
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