Chapter Sixteen


Even though we had been in North Carolina the week before, Mom asked if

I'd like to go back Labor Day weekend. She said I could, of course, ask Derrick to come with me--”Keith as well, if you like.”


“How about a real house full?” I asked. “I'd like to ask Josh and Janice. I know Keith would like to have Janice along. Derrick and I had lunch with Joe this week. He and Trey are back and off this weekend.”


“Queen Joyce?” Mom asked without answering me.


“She'll not be back for another month. She liked Australia and New Zealand and plans on staying 'Until I get ready to come home,' she told Trey and Joe when they left her in Sydney.”


“Well, your Dad and I planned to ask LaLisa and Alex. Could be a bit crowded. What do you think?”


“Yeah, I guess it would. All the guys could sleep upstairs. With pads and sleeping bags, it would be comfortable and there's sure room. That would leave the downstairs for you and Dad and the Andersons.”


“That's fine, but what are you going to do with Janice? She's NOT going to be sleeping with five men....”


“I suspect she'd only be sleeping with one,” I grinned.


“Not on my watch and in my house,” Mom said. She knew I wasn't serious and I knew she was.


“I guess that's a problem—unless she wouldn't mind sleeping in the tent.” When I was a freshman, I asked for a tent and got a really nice pop up one—large and roomy too. The summer following my freshman year, I put it up between the cabin and the river and slept there when the weather was pretty. Since then I had only used it a few times, so it was still in good shape. “Since it's a popup, we could set it up on the porch, if she's willing.”


“Check. If she's willing, ok. Otherwise, I'm afraid Keith will just have to be lonesome or stay home.”


I called Keith and told him the plan. “Why don't you check with Janice and Josh and see if they are free and interested?” Keith called back an hour later and said both were interested and excited.


“Janice doesn't object to sleeping outside in a tent?” I asked, making sure he had discussed that with her because otherwise there could be fireworks.


“She's fine with it so long as there's indoor plumbing and she doesn't have to sleep on the ground.”


With the cabin overflowing, there was no lovemaking going on over the weekend—at least among the young folks!! It was a great weekend nonetheless. We spent a great deal of time swimming--usually in short spurts followed by time on the rock in the sun to get warm.


Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day and unusually warm for North Carolina even in late August.  At supper Dad said there was a full moon and suggested we go  to the moon watching rock. I was pretty sure I knew what he was going to say and glanced at Keith when Dad made his suggestion. Keith didn't exactly smile, but I knew he didn't mind and, I guess, to make sure I knew that, he said, “Great idea, Mr. McCarter. I'd love to show Janice that.” Yeah, Keith can be a very considerate young man.


We all grabbed blankets and started the hike to the rock. The trip was slow, but hardly easy. The older folks paused several times to catch their breath and Mr. Anderson asked once if the view was worth the climb. Dad laughed and said, “If you can get your old bones to the rock, you can decided.”


The night was beautiful and both Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were awed by the night. The moon was still below the horizon and the sky was aglow with stars. “You'll never see this anywhere in the metro area,” Mom said. “Too much light.”


“The stars look close enough to touch,” Janice said. When we reached to rock, we all found a place to sit, the younger crowd, at least the couples, sitting with one between the legs of the other. Mom and Dad and the Andersons were sitting side by side, holding hands.


Trey and Joe were sitting kinda sideways to the moon and Trey noticed Josh sitting by himself. “Promise I don't rub off, Josh, so come on over here.”


Josh smiled and went over to Trey and Joe. “You can lean against my partner,” Joe laughed,“but keep the hands off.“ Josh sat back to back with Trey and we all watched as the moon peeped above the mountain in front of us.


We were all very quiet, I am sure busy with our own thoughts. I  was thinking about the connection between this place and two very important men in my life: Keith ,with whom I had shared sacred time here, and Derrick, who had not been with me as I struggled with our relationship. I suspected Joe and Trey were also thinking of that magic night when Keith's healing began.


After the moon was well up in the sky, Mom and Dad and the Andersons left, leaving the rock to the younger crowd. After a few minutes, Trey said, “Joe, this young crowd makes me feel old.”


“Well, you are old,” Keith said. “You must be at least twice as old as I am.”


“Then I guess you'll have to piggyback me home,” Trey said, “'cause I am surely too old to walk”.


Everyone was silent for awhile and then Janice said, “Keith, a penny for your thoughts.”


I wondered what Keith would say. I was pretty sure what he was thinking would be a surprise to the newcomers. I know mine would be.


“I was thinking about the last time I was here. Joe and Trey were here then too. They had brought beer and, well, to tell the truth, they left and Tom and I stayed. Man, what happened...”


I hoped no one heard my sharp intake of breath which greeted that statement!


“We got so drunk Joe and Trey came, got us and put us to bed without our knowing it. Remember Tom?”


“Some of it I remember well. Part of it was and is a blank,” I responded.


“Tell you one thing, I've not been drunk since and suspect I give it long and hard thought before ever getting that drunk again.”


Sunday was another beautiful day and we enjoyed it thoroughly, and I was sure we all were reluctant to leave when Monday noon rolled around and it was time to leave. I had told Mom Derrick and I would close up the house—it was more than just a matter of closing and locking the door since we didn't know when we'd be back.  The water system had to be shut down, drained and antifreeze put in the toilets and other things stored so animals couldn't get to them.


After everyone had gone, we closed down the house except for closing and locking the door. As I returned to the living room after going over my checklist, Derrick smiled and said, “This will always be a special place for me, Sugar Bear.”


“And for me,” I replied, taking him in my arms and kissing his sweet mouth. Before I knew it, we were making love on the couch in the living room, each giving the others manhood serious pleasure with our mouths. After giving our lover our gift, we kissed, cleaned up, closed and locked the door and left.


“I'm already thinking about coming back,” Derrick said as he slipped into the seat beside me.


Monday Derrick and I picked up Keith for school. When we reached East River, there was a lot of greeting classmates we hadn't seen since we left school last June. We all were ready to get back to school, having worn out the pleasures of summer. Well, we wanted to be back AT school, but too soon, the first bell of the year rang and we were IN school, a different situation all together.


Everyone was herded into the gym where the principal welcomed us and then shot the bull for fifteen minutes, mouthing platitudes which he didn't mean and probably didn't understand. After he ran out of the usual BS, he turned the mike over to Mr. Richardson, one of the counselors. We all knew his speech as well, a speech to  “my seniors.”


When Derrick first heard him speak last year, he said, “That man gives being queer a bad name.” It was easy to see what Derrick meant. Mr. Richardson grossly overweight--Mom said once, “Seems to me at forty-five or fifty, it's time Richardson lost his baby fat.”  Additionally, he was overdressed—well, flamboyantly dressed I guess would be a better word. Dad said he managed to protest any chance he got about being accused of being gay. Truth of the matter was, no one knew, but he sure acted like a flaming queen, a flaming drama queen.


Anyway, he was always senior counselor for some reason. In other schools, the counselor assigned to a class stayed with it through graduation, but at East River, Mr. Richardson was always senior counselor. I think he wanted to be so he could make a big production out of graduation. One thing about it, though, he managed to round up piles of scholarship money for graduates.


Mr. Richardson led the seniors out of the gym and to the auditorium to get homeroom assignments. “Derrick and I would be making that trip next year,” I thought to myself.


Ms. Steinberg, a new counselor had been introduced earlier as junior counselor. She went to the mike and said, “Juniors go to their last year's homeroom where you will be given your schedule and other pertinent materials. If you are new to East River, the schedule you were given when you enrolled has your homeroom listed as first period,” Ms. Steinberg said then added, “If you have not registered previously, follow the signs to the counseling center.


When Derrick and I got to our old homeroom, we discovered--and were delighted--we had been assigned to the same homeroom and had several classes together.


Keith was assigned to a new homeroom, but asked Ms. Steinberg about a reassignment. “I told her if I'm not in the same homeroom with Tom it'll complicate our transportation situation,“ he laughed. ”Ms. Steinberg is no dummy and responded, 'Very well, I'll make the switch, but I'd love to hear how a homeroom affects transportation. Must be a very complex issue.'”


Both Keith and I had decided we had our vehicles in good shape and we only had one more year in high school so grades and classes were important as we looked to college. During the summer we had met the shop teacher and he told us we could sign up for his continuing ed evening class and use the shop when we needed it. Not having shop gave us a couple of periods for extra classes. We were taking two math classes--one zero period already. With AP history, AP English, third year Spanish and PE, we still had two classes to fill. When we decided we'd not take shop, we had gone to the school the week before and changed shop to an advanced computer class and an art class.


Derrick didn't have either the background or desire to take the two math classes Keith and I were taking, but he was taking one of them along with AP history, AP English and PE with me and Keith. Additionally, he was taking third year French. He wanted to take the advanced computer class, but his schedule wouldn't let him so he ended up in an art class--different from the one Keith and I were taking--and a family management class. As soon as Keith and I saw that, we sent him straight back to Ms. Steinberg. “Tell her you are NOT an outlaw and don't want to waste your time,” Keith told him.


Seems Ms. Steinberg had taught family management and had seen it was being used as a dumping ground for incorrigibles at East River and put her foot down. I heard she had told the principal, “There will be decent family management classes if I have to teach them myself!” She assured Derrick the class would be worthwhile and it was. He learned he loved to cook and was getting good at it.


The way Ms. Steinberg got a handle on the misfits was to show up in the classroom two or three times a week. She seldom appeared without leaving with a student in tow. A parent conference was scheduled and the student allowed to cool his or her heels in in-school-suspension until the parents showed up. By the end of the first six weeks, Derrick swore it was the most orderly class he had.


Everything was new and different for about three days, but by Friday, school was old hat again. By then any student could tell you which classes were worth sitting through and which were a waste of time.


Derrick got very excited about his art class and was doing some really good work. I was proud of him. He spent a lot of time in the computer lab after school aswell and, for all practical purposes, was doing the advanced computer class.


With school and homework,  time for pleasure was scarce, but Derrick and I did manage to find time to make love a couple times during the week. We always got home before Mom and Dad and while they never said, “Ok, Tom, have all the sex you want,” they certainly knew Derrick and I were not stopping at a goodnight kiss now and then.


Once my parents became principals there was a calendar posted on the frig with a their week's assignments since, as principals, they were often late getting home. Before I had simply looked at it, but paid little attention beyond whether supper would be early or late. I had my chores to do around the house which I did as soon as I got home. After that, I was free to go to the park, whatever, so long as I was back home by “7:30 or dark, whichever comes first” unless I needed to get home earlier to prepare or start supper.


When I was first allowed to be home and not have to go to child care--I was twelve--Mom and Dad sat me down and we worked out the rules. When it came 'round to when I had to be home, there was some discussion and then Dad said, “Rebekah, how about the old Berea rule?”


“Berea rule?” I asked.


“When we were at at Berea, women had to sign in their college dorms and the rule was ”7:30 or dark, whichever comes first.“


Well, back to why I paid attention to Mom's and Dad's schedules these days. Both stayed at school late at least twice a week. They were almost never home before 6:00, but occasionally one or the other escaped. As soon as the week's schedule was posted, I made a note of it and gave Derrick a copy. Those days they would be coming late, we'd drop off Keith, go to my place and make love--unhurried, tender love. We both agreed grabbing a quickie wasn't for us.


Derrick did sleep over at least once a week. We didn't sleep over at his place since he was afraid Grams would figure out we were lovers and didn't know what her reaction would be.


Mom and Dad both told me--separately--they'd prefer I close my bedroom door when I was with Derrick. “Will probably save all of us some embarrassment,” Mom had said.


At least once a week Keith, Derrick and I went to the river to talk, trade tales, just loaf. We liked for Josh and Janice to join us and they did occasionally, but not often. We either had to drive to Atlanta University Center to pick them up or they  had to take MARTA and that was an hour each way given the change in trains and all.


In early October, Keith asked about driving my car. Seems he had picked up the twins in his pickup a couple of times, but Josh told him Janice was being kidded--no, more than kidded, harassed--about dating an oreo[Author's note: An oreo is a chocolate cookie with white filling thus, an African-American who “acts white.”]. “I know she doesn't really give a flying fuck,” Josh said. “She's getting a belly full of some of the snobbery at Spelman, but I know you just as soon not give her grief.”


“You think those high class African-American girls will think you are less an oreo in that redneck car than a redneck truck?” Derrick asked. I had thought the same thing, but definitely didn't want to get involved in a class and race thing.


“Well, if they do, they can just suck my dick,” Keith said, using one of his favor expressions of contempt for someone.


Well, I don't know whether Keith told them what they could do or if they did it (no, Janice would have killed a girl or two for touching Keith), but Josh said the harassment didn't let up. Janice was told she could either dump Keith or forget about pledging a sorority.


Sororities count a lot at Spelman. I know Keith was really upset that Janice was being picked on and offered to meet her somewhere so he'd not show up on campus. Janice pitched a fit. “If you think I am going to let a group of snooty girls dictate who I see and how I ride, you can just forget it. Furthermore, you are to drive your own vehicle when you come on campus,” she said.


Janice invited Keith to homecoming and the homecoming ball. Spelman didn't have a football team, of course, but Morehouse did. The two went to the game and Keith brought her back to his place where they got dressed for the dance. Keith's mom had picked out his tux and it was one Queen Joyce would approve, very conservative and Keith fit it like it had been custom make for him.


Mr. Anderson had just purchased a spanking new Lexus which he offered to Keith for the evening, but he and Janice were adamant. They were going in the pickup. Mr. Anderson had a different idea.  He had called me and suggested a plan which Derrick and I though was great.


When it came time for Keith and Janice to leave, Mr. Anderson suggested they go out the front first. “I have a surprise,” he told them. When they walked out the front door, Derrick hopped out of the Lexus, opened the back door and bowed. He and I were both dressed in full chauffeur's livery. Janice burst into gales of laughter. Not to be outdone, ever, Keith bowed to her, offered his arm and escorted her to the car.


Josh was in on the plot and in contact with us via cell phone. He coordinated our arrival for the largest splash. Janice told the girls who were taken aback by her arrival, “Keith is usually so laid back and unconcerned that he never wants to show off, but tonight the old family retainers insisted their sons take care of us as they thought proper.” Put a bit of a scotch on the harassing Janice had endured. When a sorority approached her about pledging, she replied she didn't want to be associated with people who only saw a person's outside “and then get that wrong.”.


East River's homecoming was the week after Spelman's and Keith and Janice were stars. Derrick and I decided we'd not pretend we were straight and get dates, but we were not willing to risk what might follow if we went as a couple. We went stag and both had a great time.


Seemed like once homecoming had come and gone, there was no time before basketball season got underway. Derrick asked me to go out for basketball, but I laughed and said “Don't you know? White boys can't jump.”


“Yeah, maybe not, but I know one who can really hump!” he laughed and I turned bright red.


I urged him to go out for the team and after I convinced him I meant it, he did. He said he had never played organized basketball, just pickup games in a school yard near where he had lived. He made the team and the coach told him he thought he could make a basketball player out of him rather than his being “the nigger to beat” on some school ground.


When he told me that I was horrified that a coach would use the “N” word, but Derrick said it was ok for black folks to call each other nigger and the coach had a point to make, namely that he expected Derrick to become a team player and develop some class along with skill. I still didn't like it but dropped the discussion. Several days later I referred to myself as a redneck honkie and Derrick crawled my case as I had his. The end result was we both agreed we could do without derogatory names, even if used of ourselves and in fun.


By the third game, Derrick was making a name for himself on the basketball court. After the fourth game, he was named student athlete of the week by one TV station and they did a good interview of him in that they focused on his academic achievements as well as his sport. Grams sent a tape of the interview to his mom.


His mom and stepfather were in the bleachers for his fifth game where he scored double the points of any other player on either team. His stepfather had made sure he was well fortified with booze and got very loud and obnoxious. It made Derrick pretty mad.


When I picked up Derrick Sunday afternoon after his mom and the Major had left, he said his stepfather was practically slobbering all over him for the whole weekend. “He told me 'Your mother and I want to increase your allowance so you can dress nice. Anything else you need? Want?' I started to tell the asshole where he could shove his allowance, but held my tongue when an idea started forming in my mind.


“'Well, Major, I could use a more comfortable bed, one big enough. Sometimes when I get up in the morning I'm so stiff I wonder that I'll be able to get around, much less play basketball. Yeah, and some nice furniture—you know when the reporters come around.' He said he would definitely have to get me a decent bed and some decent furniture. Then he asked, 'You ok with reporters coming to the apartment?' I told him I was—I didn't say any had or would, but it was ok by me if they came. Major said he'd have to look into finding a better apartment which was exactly what I wanted.”  


There was a crucial game the following weekend and Derrick's mom and stepfather flew down again. By game time Friday night, the Major had found a really nice apartment in one of the older homes in College Park. It second floor, but had an outside entrance. Small, but larger than the one they were living in and it had two decent size bedrooms. Derrick told his stepfather not to worry about moving since Keith had offered his truck for the job.


Derrick scored like mad, but when he was named Metro Most Valuable Player of the Week, the sports reporters hardly mentioned that. They were carried away with his playing defense. He was named Student Athlete again as well.


Derrick was definitely attracting attention beyond the metro area and he was only a junior.


East River made it to the regionals, the first time since the school was opened. They made it through the semifinals before losing out to a south Georgia team. Derrick was, nonetheless, named to the state all star team. His stepfather was impossible to be around. Fortunately as soon as basketball season was over, he was no longer seen, having told Derrick “We'll be back when baseball starts.“ He did, however, keep sending Derrick his larger allowance and rent money.


East River expected an invitation to a Christmas Invitational Tournament, but because the school's athletic director didn't complete the proper forms, it didn't happen. I expected Derrick to be disappointed, but he wasn't. “There's next year and I've had about all the basketball I want for now,” he answered when I asked. “Besides, I haven't been putting as much time on the books as I should since basketball started.”


Exams were the week before Christmas break and Keith, Derrick and I spent every free minute together studying. The final day of  the semester was a short one. We only went to school to pick up report cards. Keith and I had all As and Derrick did as well except for a B in French.


Spelman had a winter ball the Friday after we finished the semester and Keith told us we needn't bother with the car routine. “The pickup is fine with Janice and she is all that counts.”


Janice and Josh left for home the following morning and  Keith started moping. His parents told him he could spend New Years with her and then bring her and Josh back to school.


The last day of school, Keith showed Derrick and me a necklace he had bought for Janice. It was a white gold heart which opened. Opened, there was a great picture of Keith on one side and “For my Mississippi love” engraved on the other. He was giving it to her before she left for Mississippi with instructions not to open it until Christmas.


When he show us the necklace, he asked, “What are you two getting each other?”


“I don't know yet,” Derrick answered, “but if I did, I couldn't tell you here in front of my lover boy.


“True, my brother, true,” Keith responded.


I didn't know what I was giving Derrick since I hadn't given it a minute's thought. Until I had exams out of the way, I didn't give anything else much thought.


Once Derrick and Grams moved into the new apartment and gotten a new bed, I slept over at his place some. Not on a regular basis as Derrick was still afraid Grams would find out about us, but the Friday  Christmas vacation started, he had asked me to sleep over. Well, he hadn't asked me to SLEEP over exactly.


After Grams had gone to bed and we could hear her snoring softly if we listened at her bedroom door, we went to Derrick's room, closed and locked the door. Derrick told me Grams had a habit of just walking into his room and shaking him awake. “She did that when I was sleeping on the couch, but as soon as I got a room, I never, ever go to bed without locking the door. And I am damn sure going to make sure it is locked when you are here.”


He checked the door again and we hopped in bed and started making fantastic love.  I guess the stress of exams and all was over and we had not been together a great deal for the past week so we were really getting into it, but it didn't last long before we each exploded in toe curling climaxes.


Afterwards, we held each other, gazing into our lover's eyes and exchanging soft, gentle kisses, but that didn't last. Our love making became more and more passionate as we became more and more aroused, hotter and hotter.


Fearing what Grams might do should she find them, Derrick had no lube or condoms at his place. Knowing that, I had taken the precaution of bringing some along in my backpack. I was rubbing my finger up and down Derrick's crack when he started groaning and said, “Damn, Sugar Bear, I need you inside me!” (It may be noted that after our initial problem, Derrick took to being bottom like gangbusters.)


“I have a surprise for you, Honey Bear,” I said as I rolled out from under him and got out of bed.


“WHERE are you going, Sugar Bear?” Derrick asked, obviously peeved.


I took the lube and condoms from my backpack and tossed them to Derrick. A huge smile spread across his face as he extended his arms toward me.


After Derrick had entered me and given me fantastic pleasure as he brought both of us to a climax, we, again, lay in each others arms before starting with soft kisses again. When we were both aroused again, I entered Derrick and hoped I had given him as much pleasure as he had me.


It was pretty late before we finally went to sleep in each others arms, tired, but happy, from our love making.