Stories of Man/Boy Love

Parking Lots, French Fries, and Changes
 by W. Edwards

THE CAR SMELLS of square fish and french fries.  Jared has made a reasonable effort to keep the paper packaged food balanced on his lap, with, I must say, better than average results.  I steal a french fry.  When he feigns mock anger, I laugh when it becomes obvious to us both his mouth is too full of fish sandwich to voice anything but an offended grunt.  A large soft drink sweating between his legs is raised to the task, and soon after, we are exiting off the freeway in the direction of the airport, with Jared feeding me the rest of his fries one by one, faster than I can chew and swallow them.  He's done this before.  It amuses him, I think.  At 12-and-a-half, his thin lanky frame is showing signs of rapid, turbulent changes, and soon I suspect, I'll no longer reap the benefits of his small stomach, which has never fully lived up to his extra-large fast-food eyes.  Soon I'll be lucky to lick the wrappers.

We've been making this trip off and on since I met him, nearly six months ago.  As usual, we appear to be the only ones around as we leave Richardson Road, and pull into a narrow street, then immediately into a short access driveway leading to a field blocked by an old rusty gate.  It is just before five in the afternoon.  In the evening there are often others parked on the street across from the North/South runways, and near where we are now.  We park at the foot of the gate protecting the field where nothing grazes, and nothing grows.  Jared is already up on his knees, leaning into the back seat, getting the binoculars.  I half wince, half smile as I notice the crushed fries on the seat between the knees of my blue-jeaned friend.  I say not a word.  He always tried so hard.

Minutes later we are out of the car.  Jared steps a few feet away to pee into a bush, instructing me not to look, and then throwing a sly smile and a glance over his shoulder to see if I am.  I pretend indifference as his hips sway to and fro, painting leaves and branches in boyish amusement.  Soon we are both searching the southern sky for incoming planes.  Three have already passed overhead since we've arrived.  Soon they'll be landing roughly every three or four minutes, a little less than half a mile from where we are watching them come in.

We sit on my car's hood, our backs against the windshield, faces aimed toward the sky.  Using the binoculars, the giant passenger jets look positively terrifying as they drop out of the sky and sweep directly above us in deafening, thundering consistency.  Even without the field glasses, the planes are nearly on the ground as they fly over our spot.  We've only recently taken to using them on these afternoon trips, and the effect is incredible.

I watch Jared now as he spies, then follows in, the next 737; mouth slightly agape, and sockless feet stuck in penny loafers clicking together, giving away his excitement.  He's never been in a plane before.  I wonder how his brain records these magnified silver monstrosities.  He's never, at least to me, expressed a desire to fly in one.

We watch close to 20 jets arrive before Jared signals his restlessness by covering the lenses of my binoculars with his hands as a jet rumbles overhead.  He slides off the hood of the car, stretches, and gets inside.  Soon after, I hear the radio leaking from the sun roof.  I get down myself.

Only three hours ago, we were at my place, immersed and entwined, naked, forging pleasurable paths to blessed release.  Me once, him twice.  Now he waits for me, reclined with seat back, and jeans unsnapped, his hardness reaching skyward, straining against white underwear.

The sun is pouring into the windshield as we drive up Price Avenue towards Jared's neighborhood.  His hand and mine share the stick shift most of the trip back.  We ride in contented silence till we near his street, and yet another goodbye.  I squeeze his hand.  He squints at me and grins.  He is content with our relationship.  No worries.  Can that possibly be true?

I pull into the church parking lot a few blocks away from his house.  He says he'll call me tonight.  Jared opens the car door slightly, unhooks his seat belt, and quickly gives me a kiss before getting out and running the length of the parking lot and into someone's backyard.  An odd sense of relief and sadness washes over me as I head towards home.

I love this boy.  I am scared for us both.  I miss him already.

The Dream

[three weeks later] I am standing atop a sand dune, sparsely covered with patches of grass.  .  .  the twilight sky is blood-red and purple as I stare in the direction of this great white house on the beach; nestled between the sea and a ribbon of road that is black and nearly invisible.  .  .  Suddenly I see Jared.  He is running from the house.  .  .  running towards me in a long night shirt and bare feet, screaming and crying.  .  .  Now his father appears, leaning out of a second story window of their house with a rifle trained on the boy, taking shot after shot at his son.  I scream at the top of my lungs and wave my arms frantically at this man in the window.  "Shoot at me goddammit!  shoot at me, not Jared!.”  .  .  I rush out to help him, and we stumble towards the sea, gasping for breath and crying.  .  .  Jared keeps falling.  I carry him into the water with his head on my shoulder, fighting the waves until I'm too weak to hold him any longer.  He is dead.  As I fall I close my eyes and allow the cold black water to swallow us and take us, together, out to sea.  .  .  and I wake up.  My alarm clock is ringing.  I've got to piss, but I don't move.  I just lay there with my heart pounding in my chest, swallowing hard, and stare at the gray ceiling as the dream fades.  .  .

Summer

Jared is spending a month at his grandparents house near Lake Erie, away from the South Carolina heat.  Away from me.  A ritual of summer for him.  A month of hazy loneliness for me.

I am laying in bed, drifting somewhere between sleep and consciousness when the phone rings.  The machine picks it up, and I'm suddenly wide awake as I hear the voice of a telephone operator tell my caller that he has reached an answering machine, and asking him if he would like to try again later?  I scramble out of my bed and fall onto the receiver.  "I'll accept!" I scream at the voice.  "I'll accept!"

"Hey," he says.

"Hey!" I say back.  "You remembered!"

"Yep."

"Did you have any trouble calling collect?"

"Well, I didn't remember the area code, but the lady knew it when I told her where you lived," he said.

"Damn!  It's good to hear your voice!  Can you talk- I mean- is anyone around?"

"They're out at some flea market with my sister.  I just got up."

"Watcha been doin?" I ask.

"I dunno.  Nothing really.  It's boring.  My friend moved."

"Your friend?"

"Yeh, you know- the kid who had the go cart- David."

"What about your bike?  Didn't you tell me there's a shopping plaza near there?"

"Yeh," he sighs, "but it's boring."

"You sound lonely buddy.  Are you?" I ask.

"Maybe a little.  I dunno."

We talk for nearly an hour.  I learn he's been agreeably lent out to various neighbors by his grandfather for lawn work, which had thus far netted him about 70 bucks, minus the 20 he said he's spent on video games at the plaza.  I also learn his grandpa lets him drive his old Ford up and down the long driveway while he watches on the porch.  Suddenly I am a little less lonely for him.  For me.  At some point, I tell him I miss him, and in an embarrassed, silly-sweetened tone, he tells me he misses me, too.  A verbal disguise he can't pull off, as sincerity leaks through.  I abruptly need to be there with him.  I don't mention this.  Instead, I remind him he'll be home soon, and we spend the next few minutes making plans, and this makes us both feel better.

He tells me there is a picnic table under a weeping willow tree deep in the backyard where he masturbates sometimes when his grandparents are watching the news in the late afternoon.

When I inquire into what I'm guessing is a lack of privacy in his sleeping arrangements, I'm told matter-of-factly: "I do it then, too," as if I should have known.  Suddenly, he wants to go, with promises he'll call again.  I understand.  Both of us soon to find and touch each other in the rapturous erotic imagery of our memories, alone in our beds, or perhaps, for one of us, under a weeping willow.

 Blue Flash Dots

(approximately a year and a half later)

A steady cold rain continues its relentless assault as I pull into the Quik Mart parking lot, already crowded with customers anxious to get off the road for awhile.  Jared is standing near the pay phone, huddled against the ice freezer left unused by customers more interested in hot coffee and soup-to-go on this dreary winter afternoon.  Dressed in a sleeveless parka and bright yellow hooded sweatshirt underneath, he still looks cold.  When he sees me his face brightens, and he quickly gets in with muddy heights and jeans -- a testament to his journey to here from his house.  Soon I am watching him rush around in the store, money in hand, buying himself a pop and some cheese crackers, and surprising me with some bizarre beverage for myself, as is our routine.  Returning to the car, I am offered my change without comment.  He never asks to keep it.

Jared just wants to drive around.  He says he's got to be home early, as his family is having "a stupid portrait made" for a Christmas present to his grandparents.  He wants to meet again tomorrow, but I tell him I've got to work, and can't make it.  This is met with silence.  Since we live so far apart, and since Jared has to call me because I can't very well call him, our schedules have frequently clashed.  We've both made sacrifices.  That hasn't always been easy.  But it's always been worth it.  Now it's getting harder, especially for Jared.

"I'm hungry," he says.

We stop at a little dumpy fish place we often frequent on our way back to his neighborhood.  Shrimp for me.  Fish sandwich for him.  He plays a video game while I wait at the table for our order.  He returns as the food is delivered.

We eat in silence, listening to the chatter at the lunch counter.  We share a smile as we listen to the moronic prattle drifting from a couple of bored waitresses parked on stools that have seemingly disappeared under them.

"Jared?  Is something wrong?"

"No."

"Come on, man, what's buggin you?"

"Nothing.”  He looks at me long enough to see this hasn't satisfied my interest.  "Nothing!" he says again, flashing an annoyed smile, as if to appease me.

"Is there something you want to talk about?" I ask, not giving up.

"No.  That's not it.”  Both of us knowing what "that" is.  "That" is to us the embodiment of existence.  Our status in the world -- questioning the rules over the phone.  Learning each other's fears in whispers under the covers in quiet moments after making love.  "That" is being safe, while affirming each other's right to exist in this wonderful yet often grotesque world.

For months I've put off seeing Jared has changed.  His yearnings are now that of a young man; his world expanding, while I remain static and stagnant in his eyes, trapped in the slower-moving existence of adulthood, now terrifyingly close to his own evolving experience.  This is going to be hard, but I've got to ask.

"Jared?  So you want to let things slow down between us for awhile?  You know, like, take a breather or something?"

"I dunno," he whispers.  "Maybe."

"Are you feeling ashamed about us?" I ask quietly.

"No!  It's not like that!  It's just -- I'm scared sometimes, you know?  Like, what if we get caught and then everyone finds out?  I mean, like, they won't understand.  It ain't just what we think, you know?" he pleads, looking up at me.  There are tears in his eyes.  I don't know what to say.

We've talked about all this before, but now it has taken on a new cathartic significance for him.  He's right.  His world has expanded into the realm of standards and conformity and all the related bullshit pressures of an intolerant society.  He wipes his eyes on his sleeve and waits for a reply.  For me to make sense out of this for him.  All I can say to him is: "Yeh, I know.”  Suddenly he is embarrassed and even a little relieved, as our waitress waddles over wanting to know if we'd like some dessert.  After a few moments of looking over the menu once again, we order pie and ice cream.

We don't discuss it further, but a weight has been lifted from us both, and our moods improve as we gobble the pie.  We have taken a turn.  He knows now what I've never really been able to tell him -- to explain to him.  But now he also knows I can't explain away the hate in the world, or take away the things he's afraid of.  We talk while we eat.  Jared has already finished his pie and ice cream, and reaches across the table to snatch my remaining fries one by one.  He tells me about a job he might get at a putt-putt golf place in the summer.  I sense he's been wanting to tell me about this for awhile, but had hesitated.  I realize he is cutting ties, and I am waving from the shore, wishing him happiness on his voyage.  I want desperately to take this boy in my arms and hug him tightly.  Instead, I reach across the table and ruffle his hair in a quick gesture, and get up to pay the check, with Jared close behind carrying our coats.

We drive toward Spruce Falls and Jared's home.  The sky's utter grayness has enticed the street lights into premature fluorescence long before dark.  Traffic is slow going, and we drive in silence, listening to the radio, content, yet strangely melancholy.  Suddenly, Jared wants to stop at a Walgreen's we passed less than a mile back.  Visibly excited, he won't tell me why, saying only that it's a surprise.

We arrive minutes later.  Jared runs ahead of me to the store entrance while I jog behind, avoiding the larger puddles along the way.  Once inside, I understand, and quickly share, the source of his excitement.

With Jared sitting on my knee, I fight to keep our balance as he pulls the curtain closed, and feeds a couple dollars into the machine.  We wait, holding our breaths, for the first flash.  The first one will be my favorite I think to myself as I watch our reflection in the black glass that hides the camera recessed behind.  We made silly faces, peace signs behind each others' heads, and even managed to stop laughing long enough for a few serious shots, our eyes getting crowded with floating blue flash dots as we record ourselves behind the dirty brown curtain.  For the last shot, Jared positioned his head right next to mine, and using his hands like a vise, held our heads together ear to ear, both of us smiling at the absurdity of our reflection in the glass while the flash went off for the last time.  Five minutes and six dollars later, we have 15 little black and white photographs on three strips.  Some are blurry, but most have come out pretty good.  I use the scissors chained to the booth to separate the pictures from their rows of five.

Out in the car, we continue to look them over.  Without comment, Jared takes the last one -- the one with our heads squished together -- and places it in his pocket, giving the rest to me, as if he knows what I am feeling.  As if he knows a week from now -- a year from now, I will need them more than he.  A gesture of understanding I don't fully appreciate at that moment, and won't until later that week.

The rain refuses to let up as I pull into the church parking lot, driving as close as I can to the edge of the blacktop in some vain attempt to keep Jared from getting soaked any more than he's already going to.  I feel like crying when we say goodbye.  He can't look at me as he gets out of the car and begins his ascent into the neighbor's brown wet grass.  I watch him go, and he suddenly looks back towards my car, just for a moment, before disappearing down a gravel driveway.  For a long while, I sit and stare through the windshield, looking at nothing, and listening to the wipers squeak back and forth in mind-numbing, comforting regularity.

Later that night, shortly before midnight, he calls.

"Hey," he says when I pick up the phone.

"Hey!" I say.  "Are you OK?"

"Yeh.  Are you mad at me?" he asks quietly.

"Mad at you?  Why would I be -- no, no, Jared, I'm not mad at you.  I just -- I just want you to be OK."

"I'm OK," he chirps.  "Really."

He seems content to let me do most of the talking.  I tell him things I wanted to say earlier today, now somehow made easier through the blessing of telephone circuitry.  We had talked often throughout our relationship.  About evolving needs he and I would both have, and that things wouldn't, and shouldn't stay the same, no matter how much we wanted them to.  But somehow I knew saying these things again was what he needed me to do.  Before long he was yawning, causing me to do the same.  He promised to call again sometime.

He did.  Wanted me to drive him and a friend to a baseball card shop one day over Christmas break.  I was glad to do so, and equally glad to see him.  We had a good time looking at cards, and later stopping for ice cream.  They both thanked me for the ride, and Jared said he'd call again.

He never did.

From the NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol.  15, No. 8, Pgs. 29 - 31, Dec 1994.
Copyright © NAMBLA, 2008

          Home     
Stories of Man/Boy Love