Chapter Seventeen


We were still asleep when Keith called. Grams knocked on the door and called Derrick. He struggled awake and staggered out of bed. After he had managed to crawl into his robe, he opened the door and went to answer the phone.


While he was gone, I found my robe in my backpack, pulled it on and went to get rid of a a full bladder. Before I finished, Derrick joined me and as he did said, “That was Keith. He wants to know if we wanted to go shopping. Said if we did, we'd need to get moving and get to the mall before students who are sleeping in get there.“


“What does he mean 'who are sleeping in?' I thought WE were sleeping in.“


“Well, we're awake now. Want to go shopping?“


“I need to.”


“Well, let's get showered and grab a bite to eat. I'll tell Keith we'll be ready to go in three quarters of an hour. Kay?“


“Kay,” I groaned as Derrick went back to the phone. I went back to his room, grabbed my DOP kit and went back to the bathroom. Derrick came in shortly and after he made sure the door was locked, we got in the shower and before long Derrick was holding me as I collapsed from his bringing me off. I returned the favor after which we actually got a quick shower and brushed our teeth.


We got dressed, grabbed a bowl of cold cereal and was ready to go when when Keith arrived out front. He gave a blast of his “country” horn which, I am sure, violated all sorts of noise ordinances, set the neighbors' teeth on edge and woke a few of the College Park dead.


When we got in the truck, Keith suggested we take MARTA to Lenox to avoid traffic. “First day of the Christmas break so you know the streets will be full shortly.”


Since Keith had roused us from bed early, we were at the mall a few minutes after it opened and before it was filled with vacationing high school and college students.   


After we had been together for awhile I said, “Guys, I'm going to split. I'll meet you in the food court at the California Pizza place in an hour.”


As soon as we separated, I found a bench and sat down to think about my Christmas list. I still have gifts to find and buy, even though I had a few already.


Before school was out, Derrick had given me a picture of him in his basketball uniform and I had taken it to art class where I matted and framed it. When I showed it to him he said, “Hey, would you do one for me? I'll give it to Mom and the Major. Would cost me little and I know he'd go ape over it.”  


I did a nice job on the photo and Derrick was happy with it. Which gave me an idea for a few more gifts. I had wonderful pictures of Keith lying on the rock overlooking the river in North Carolina. There was also one of me. I matted and framed the picture of Keith for him. I did one of me on the rock for Mom and Dad. I had one for Derrick as well, but wanted to get him something else. I couldn't think of a thing.


“Well,” I thought, “I guess I'll just walk around until I'm hit by something, like a flying brick, maybe.” I was just walking through the mall, not really thinking, when something caught the corner of my eye. I had just passed a jewelry store so I went back to check out the window.


Derrick had commented on the cross I wore all the time and said something about getting one, but never had. I went inside and looked over their collection and finally chose a silver one, very modern in design. I wanted a unique chain for it and found one among the store's large selection.


When the clerk offered to gift wrap the cross and chain, I said, “Sure.” Anytime I can get a gift wrapped for free, I do it. When the clerk looked at the card I had written, she asked, “You have a girlfriend named Derrick?”


“Hardly,” I replied, and she looked embarrassed.


When I met Keith and Derrick, they were ready to go as was I. We did have pizza before leaving the now crowded mall for College Park.


Dad had said something about going to North Carolina for Christmas, but the weather turned bad and the idea of being in a cold house didn't appeal at all to Mom—or me for that matter. Dad had talked about winterizing the cabin, but we never got around to it. When we decided not to go, Mom said, “Maybe next year if you two will get the place ready for winter.”


Mom said she was going to invite Grams and Derrick to have Christmas dinner with us. I knew Grams would come up with some excuse, she always did, but this time I boxed her in. I delivered the invitation personally and told her she could either come willingly or I'd hogtie and carry her, which I could do easily since she was so tiny.

“You either come peacefully or I'll carry you and make you eat in the kitchen.” She knew what I meant. Derrick said Grams was of the old school and couldn't imagine “colored folk eating at a white woman's table. Colored folk get sent to the kitchen to eat,” she told him.


Derrick and I wanted to spend Christmas Eve together, but he was unwilling to leave Grams alone. When she found out, she insisted he “go and do what you want to do. I'll be ok. It's not as if I don't spend a lot of nights here by myself.” I was sure she was simply stating a fact, not complaining.


Keith called--with Janice gone he was lonesome--and asked about our going to midnight service somewhere. I wasn't about to go to St. John's in College Park and suggested we go to midtown to St. Philip's Cathedral.


The music was wonderful and the service beautiful, but long, and it was almost 2:00 before we got back to College Park. I took Derrick home and before we parted, gave him his gifts. When he opened them he was obviously pleased and gave me a great Christmas kiss.


Having opened his gifts, he asked me to fasten the cross and, when I had, he took a small box from his pocket. “Merry Christmas,” he said, handing me the box. When I opened it I was very, very pleased. It was a beautiful silver ring with a Celtic designed engraved around it. “It's a symbol of friendship and love and you are my friend and I love you beyond measure,” he said as he slipped it on my finger.


Christmas morning we opened presents at our house. We had a rule about how much could be spent on gifts which made shopping or getting gifts a lot more fun. Mom and Dad were thrilled with the photo and I was more than thrilled with my gift, a CD of the music from “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” and a boxed set of Tolkin's Lord of the Rings.


As soon as the presets were opened and we had breakfast, I went to pick up Derrick and we went to Keith's to exchange gifts. I gave him the framed photo and Derrick gave him a photo of Janice he had matted and framed after I taught him how. Keith gave each of us a bottle of massage oil. “Trey suggested you two liked that flavor,” he smiled when we opened them. “He assures me it can be licked off and is tasty.”


Keith had gotten a new computer game and we had to try it out before going to pick up Grams. He went with us as his mom and dad were coming later for Christmas dinner. We had a good crowd for the event.


Keith left for Mississippi on the 27th and Derrick and I decided we could brave the cold so we went to North Carolina. The weather turned out to be quite mild and with the propane heaters, we fared well. Of course, we had to practice a new way of making love--under the covers. When Derrick kicked off the covers in the heat of the moment our first night at the cabin, he found his ass quick-frozen which cooled his ardor more than a little bit!


After that first night, we got out a foam mattress and placed it before the fireplace and made love there. A much better arrangement and one we took great advantage of.


We debated going back to College Park for New Years, but after talking to Mom and Dad, decided to stay. We didn't have a TV at the cabin--thank goodness--but did have a radio. We found a FM station playing romantic music and danced in the New Year and then made love, “That's the first time I've had you this whole year,” Derrick said as I was resting in his arms after he had given me the pleasure of being united with him.


We slept late and expected to take it easy getting ready to leave. When we got up, however, the sky was dark and looked stormy. I  turned on the radio and as soon as I heard the weather forecast, suggested we get a move on. “There's a winter storm warning for this afternoon and evening,” I told Derrick.


An hour and a half later we were on our way. Turns out we needn't have rushed because the storm never developed, but I had always rather be safe than sorry when it comes to betting on the winter weather in the Carolina mountains.


I was reluctant to go back to school, but go back I did. I hated January because we had Thanksgiving, then Christmas break, then back for a couple weeks of second semester before MLK's birthday holiday. It took forever to get second semester off the ground. Add to that dull, gray skies of January and no one was a happy camper. Derrick, Keith and I talked about baseball as if talking about it would bring it closer.


After we got back from the long MLK birthday weekend we started working out. All three of us stayed in pretty good shape, but after Thanksgiving, we hadn't worked out and it was  beginning to show.


The Bluegrass group Keith and I had played with broke up late fall and we didn't have that to look forward to. Keith was the first one to comment on how short tempers were around school. As soon as he had, I started noticing it and also noticed something else, something with potential for disaster.


“Derrick, can I ask you something? Well, I know I can, but will you promise to hear me out and be honest with your answers?


“Of course,” Derrick responded, then added, “You sound really serious.”


“I am. Don't get me wrong, Honey Bear, but do you get the feeling sometimes that we're just having sex for lack of anything better to do or because we think we should?”


Derrick didn't answer for a long time and when I started to speak he put his finger across my lips. He was looking very thoughtful and finally said, “Sugar Bear, I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but yeah, I think you are on to something. And it's not just about our having sex. I think I am just going thorough the motions at school, working out, everything. It's like I'm marking time before something worthwhile happens.”


“Well, what are we going to do about it? Are you willing to just drift?”


“No, I'm not. I think there's a lot of things playing into our situation.  First of all, there's these gray, drizzly skies. I am ready to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over my head when I wake up and see another gray day.”


“Yeah, well, but that shouldn't make our loving gray.”


“Tom, if you're depressed than it makes everything gray and I think we are talking minor depression here.”


We talked a long time, settling nothing, but at least getting something out in the open which had been bothering me.

The fall and winter sports banquet was held the weekend following the MLK break and Derrick's mom and stepfather were flying down for it. Wednesday night before he was sleeping over and asked me to go with him, but I knew that could cause a real problem and told him so. He agreed, but said he didn't care, he was tired of hiding in the closet and was ready to announce to the world that he loved me.


I told him I loved him for that, but before he did something like that, he needed to think of others involved. “You can be sure your stepfather hasn't changed his mind about faggots and especially about honkies who made black boys faggots. You know he'll stop your allowance and helping with the rent. Grams will be left holding the bag. And let's be honest, he'd be ready to kill me and if he couldn't, he'd find some way to make my life miserable.


Derrick agreed with everything except the possibility of my being killed. “Little strong there, I suspect,” he smiled, “but if he could find a way to make your life miserable, he'd do that. If anyone gets killed, it'd be me or he'd cut it off, making both of us miserable!”


Nothing about our situation had changed, I guess, but our talking and getting things out in the open definitely helped. Our loving that night was great, as good as it had ever been.


The first Thursday in February dawned bright and downright warm, one of thse February surprises the Atlanta area gets most years. When we got to Keith's place, Derrick suggested we go to the river after school if the weather held. “Can't” Keith said, “I have an early date with Janice. There's a lecture thingy at Spelman she thinks I'll enjoy. But why don't I drive so if the weather holds, you two can enjoy the river?”


“Sounds like a plan,” Derrick said.


When we got out of school, girls were running around in their shirt sleeves as were the boys--if they hadn't taken their shirts off. It was very, very warm for January. We even put the top down, the first time since late October.


As we were heading for the river, Derrick asked me to stop by a strip shopping center where he got out and went into a drug store. When he came out he held up a bag, a huge Derrick smile splitting his face. When he got in the car, he said, “Do I ever have a present for you!”


When we had driven as far as we could down the river road, we put the top up and locked the car, then started walking down the trail along the river. After we were well past the beaten path, Derrick took my hand and we walked to the sand spit hand in hand, me behind Derrick since the path was practically nonexistent and we couldn't walk side by side.


Reaching our destination, we pushed through the bamboo and walked onto the sand spit. It was so isolated and hidden I never really knew how Keith had found it.


As soon as we were inside, I spread one of the blankets I had been carrying and Derrick and I lay down and were soon engaged in some passionate kissing. I opened his shirt and started working on his great nipples with my tongue and mouth. Derrick was soon moaning under his breath as he ran his fingers through my hair, holding my mouth close against his chest.


I slid his shirt off his shoulders without stopping my work on his nipples—which were very hard under my tongue. Somehow or other, Derrick managed to get my shirt unbuttoned and off, he then lay back and I stopped long enough to get his belt undone and his pants off. He worked on mine while I teased his cock with my teeth through his snow white briefs.


In spite of it being February--and only warm for February and not all that warm, we were nevertheless soon both naked and giving each other great pleasure with our mouths. We had both given up trying to get all of the other our mouth and concentrated on learning new ways to use our tongues. I could drive Derrick wild by “flicking” the head of his cock with mine and he had a few marvelous ways of doing things to me.


After bringing each other to the brink of no return several times, Derrick reached out and got the bag he brought from the drug store, took out a tube of lube and handed it to me. He tore open a condom with his teeth and handed it to me as well. I squirted lube in its tip and started rolling it on Derrick's hardness with my mouth, a trick I perfected after I found it drove Derrick wild.


As I did that, my ass was in the air and Derrick was lubing me well. I was more than ready when he turned me on my back, place my legs over his shoulders and entered me slowly, carefully. Once inside, he was perfectly still for several minutes, then began slow thrusts in and out, hitting the magic spot frequently.


I sensed I was near a climax and could sense Derrick was as well when he pushed deep inside me, stopped and held me close, kissing me gently. After resting several minutes, he started moving again. Soon I felt him push deep and then his cock pulsating inside me, pushing me over the edge.


Derrick rested, his body covering mine, until his limp cock slid from me. When it did, he took wipes he had purchased at the drug store and cleaned me up, then himself.


“You are one wonderful smart dude,” he said as he took a second blanket I had brought and covered us. “I wondered why the second blanket and now I know.” I lay, looking up at Derrick who was resting on an elbow, gazing into my eyes. “You are my beautiful, wonderful, smart Sugar Bear, Tom. How could I ever have found you?” He kissed me, passionately and soon we were both very hot and I was very ready when Derrick prepared me for entering him.


As hot as our love and loving was, too soon after I slipped from Derrick, being nude, even under a blanket, on a Georgia river in February was not pleasant. Once again we cleaned up and then got dressed.


While I folded the blankets, Derrick very carefully wrapped the trash from our love making in a fresh wipe and put it in the bag from the drug store after pocketing the rest of the condoms and the lube. He had a real thing—which I admired in him—about cleaning up any mess you made in public places. I had laughed the first time he said something about that when we had made love on the sand spit. “I hope to heavens this is not a public place. I'd hate to get caught with my pants down here.”


“Not likely,” he replied, “but this is a public place, nevertheless.”


We walked slowly back to the car. Exchanging kisses from time to time until we reached a path along the river bank used by fishermen.


The one day of decent weather made a change, a big change, in my outlook and in Derrick's as well. I wasn't sure whether it was the weather or the great love making on the river, but our love and sex life took a definite turn for the better.


Don't know about his sex life, but Keith was definitely more upbeat after one day of sunshine--or maybe it was attending a “lecture thingy” with Janice.


Derrick and I were paying attention to our love making to be sure it didn't become routine and, surprisingly enough, a routine helped. I was sleeping over at Derrick's one night a week now and he was sleeping over two at my place. Sometimes I'd stay at his place a second night during the week and we made love on those days we knew Mom and Dad would be late getting home.


Neither Derrick nor I could figure out what Grams thought about our being together. If she thought it was anything out of the ordinary, she never said so.


The week after our time at the river, we started conditioning for baseball in earnest. I know that helped our spirits.


We had many of the really good team members from last year back and those of us who had been younger had developed and matured since last season. It looked as if we really had a winning team ready to go.


Our first official game was an away game at Independence in north Fulton, almost eighty miles from East River. It was the next to last Friday in February and Derrick's mom and the Major were flying down for the opener. They arrived at noon and rented a car to drive to Independence.


When we came on the field, they were both cheering and carrying on big time. Their behavior caused heads to turn and embarrassed Derrick--and me as well. I wondered if the Major had been into the booze and when I mentioned it to Derrick, he said, “You can bank on it. He's awake; he's into the booze.”


I guess we were a little cocky because we were not playing well at all and it looked as if we might get our asses beat. At our next at bat, the Major came down to the dugout and was giving Derrick hell for playing so poorly. The coach finally told him to go back to his place in the stands or he'd have him put out of the park.


He tried to mouth off about being a major and she was only a woman. “Women can't coach baseball,” he kept saying. Finally, the coach had enough and called the off-duty policeman hired for just such situations and he led the Major from the field.


We did squeak by, winning by one point.


After we had a debriefing by the coach, we showered and got on the bus back to East River. By the time we reached East River, it was getting dark. I drove, so we dropped Keith off at his place and I took Derrick home. By the time we arrived, it was pretty dark. I knew there was no way he'd be able to spend the night at my place, so I got out to walk him to his door.


We drug the walk out as long as possible as we walked arm in arm. When we reached the steps to his apartment, he suddenly turned, picked me up and tossed me over his shoulder and carried me up the steps.


When we reached the landing, I said, “This is as far as I go. The less seen of me by the Major the better, I am sure.”


Derrick was leaning against the landing railing when he reached out and pulled me to himself. Looking into my eyes and he said, “You are right, Sugar Bear. But one of these days....” Instead of finishing his sentence, he wrapped his arms around me, pulled my lips to his and  sucked my tongue into his hot mouth. He finally broke our kiss, looked into my eyes again and said, “Tom Sugar Bear, I love you more than life itself. I really do.”


In respond, I covered his lips with mine and as I did, the previously dark porch light came on with an awful glare.


The next thing I knew the Major was crashing through the door, shouting “You god damn honkie faggot, you are NOT going to make a candy ass nigger out of my son.”


With those words, he grabbed me by my collar, tearing me from Derrick's arms. As he shoved me toward the stairs, Derrick lunged for him and he turned and shoved Derrick back against the railing.


I had to struggle to regain my balance and as I stood, he shoved me again causing me to lose my balance and as I fell down the stairs, I heard a loud sound like wood breaking. Then my head hit a step and that was it.


When I came to, I was in a hospital bed, not knowing how I got there. I looked around and saw Mom sitting in a chair by my bedside with Dad standing behind her.


“What happened? How'd I get here? Where's Derrick? Is Derrick all right?“


“Derrick's here in the hospital as well,” Dad said. “Apparently, you two were struggling or something on the landing and the rail gave way. You fell down the stairs; Derrick fell from the landing. Don't you remember?“


“No, I remember being with Derrick on the landing. The last thing I remember was the porch light coming on, then I woke up here. How's Derrick?”


“All we knew is he's here in the hospital. The Major had made it clear we are not welcome near him. The only information we have been able to get is that he's in critical condition. Grams told us that,” Mom said.


“When can I see him?” I asked. “I need to see him.”


“Well, maybe when you are allowed up you can,” Dad said. “You were here overnight for observation, but I suspect you'll be going home this afternoon. Maybe you can see him before you leave.”


A nurse came in and told Mom and Dad they should leave and let me get some rest. Mom kissed my forehead and Dad gripped my shoulder then said, “Son, we'll be back after lunch.”


The nurse did all the things nurses do and when I said I needed to go to the bathroom, she said I'd have to have someone go with me. “You had a nasty bump on the head and no one wants you blacking out or feeling faint and falling. That would not be good. So I guess I'll need to tag along.”


I discovered I couldn't pee with a woman hanging on to me and said so.


“Ok, if you'll sit down on the toilet, I'll step just outside the door so I can reach you quickly.”


I did as I was told and thought I'd never finish once I got started.


When I had been helped back to bed, I asked the nurse about Derrick.


“The fellow who fell when you did?” she asked.


“Yes, he's my best friend. How's he doing?”


She didn't answer my question directly as she said, “Someone needs to do something about the decks and such in this town. Your's was the second such accident this week. Oh, your friend is in ICU so I haven't seen him, but you can be sure he's getting all the care he needs. Maybe you can see him when you are released and I'm thinking that will be this afternoon.”


The nurse had just turned to go when Joe appeared at the door with another police officer.