The following week was far from routine and a happy break from the harassment we had experienced since the prom. All of the old Clan had AP English test Monday morning, so we could take off Monday afternoon. But all had important non-AP classes in the afternoon, so we decided we'd not take advantage of the “Morning AP-Afternoon Free” policy. Since the morning exams started at 8:00, we were in the test room before school began, so there was no morning gauntlet to run. AP exams were over at 12:00, but tests had to be turned in, counted, and all before we could leave, so lunch was scheduled for 1:00, after all the other students were back in class. Monday afternoon, a sizable number of AP students got together right after school to talk about the exams, so few were left to taunt when we finally emerged. Since there were only a few, they were afraid to start anything. Surprise, surprise!
None of us had an exam on Tuesday but, even then, the taunting was not what it had been the week before -- until we left school. A crowd had gathered just outside the campus and started throwing things when we left the campus -- rotten things, a few bags of shit and such. I suspect as much at AP students as at us “fags” since being smart wasn't cool.
Nothing to cause any real physical damage until the very end when some rocks were thrown, one hitting Sandy, breaking the skin on his forehead. Of course that bled like a stuck pig, as head wounds always do. Michael would, I am sure, have stopped his truck and waded into a pile of people-trash had Sandy not been bleeding. Instead, he rushed Sandy to the emergency room, with Bobbie, Susan and John right behind. Justin and I debated following as well, but realized he was in good hands and we had a job at Sanford's.
Adam, Justin and I had told Mr. Sanford we'd work Tuesday and Thursday after school since we'd have very little in terms of schoolwork. We had nothing in AP classes except exams, for which cramming was pointless. Even after exams we'd just be killing time in those until graduation and school was pretty much winding down in all classes, especially for seniors.
Michael called the store to let us know Sandy was OK. The rock had opened his scalp, but a couple butterfly strips had taken care of the gash. “Sheriff Anderson came by to tell us he was on the lookout for those involved, especially for the rock throwers. Doubted he'd be able to locate the one who threw the rock which hit Sandy. If he can, he'll be charged with aggravated assault, but any involved could be charged with assault. He's, again, putting someone at the school and Mr. Agnue said since we were ‘in process of passage to and from school,’ any involved would also be liable to punishment as if they had been on campus.”
Wednesday morning we all, including new Clam member Michael, had one of two calculus exams. As soon as we arrived in the classroom, Michael told us Sandy was doing OK, but had been “a bit frightened at being left alone this afternoon since John is taking the afternoon off after his morning AP. Sorry to cut our afternoon short... I'm still meeting you at the boat, right?” I nodded. “...but I'll have to be back in time to pick up Sandy after school. Mr. Thurman is driving him to school, but can’t pick him up.”
“Why don't you leave Sandy your truck key and a note so he can drive himself home?” Justin asked.
“Do that and we can eat a decent lunch downtown and then go to the boat. My treat,” I added.
“Sounds good to me, unless you two need the time alone,” Michael replied.
“Oh, I think we might manage that tonight,” Justin grinned.
“Sandy has a truck key,” Michael said, then dashed off a quick note to leave for Sandy just as the exam began.
As I’ve said earlier, calculus is not my strong suit and I was sweating the exam. I guess Mr. Agnue was right about passing the exam with a good score included a lot of things, but luck was definitely one of them and I was lucky! The exam was not easy, but it wasn't impossible either. After the exam, we made a quick stop by the receptionist's desk, dropped off the note for Sandy, reminded her someone should make sure Sandy had no trouble after school and headed for downtown.
Elizabethton is not blessed with places to eat: a few Mexican, Chinese and burger joints and a diner, the Blue Bird Cafe and the only above-average place -- the Cedar Dock. Not five star by any means, but at least a three-and-a-half or maybe four. Not a place students often show up and certainly not on a school day. Nonetheless, I decided we'd ‘do lunch’ and not just grab fast food.
Out from under Clarisa's eye, I knew Justin would head for red meat, practically raw. The nearly raw was OK with Clarisa, but she limited our red meat intake because, young and active as he was, Justin’s last physical suggested he might have cholesterol problems down the road and Mom and Clarisa were already on cholesterol-lowering drugs. When she announced the new lower red meat diet, Justin told her if it wasn't for the protein I gave him, he'd probably be anemic. Needless to say, that got him a Clarisa swat on the butt!
As soon as we had been seated, Ms. Clark came to the table. “Justin! Marc! What are you doing here? On a school day? If you're ditching I'll have your hides.”
“Finished for the day,” Justin grinned. “Ms. Clark, I'd like you to meet a good friend, Michael Duncan. Michael, Ms. Clark. Ms. Clark was a close friend of my mother's. She has known me since day one.” Turning back to Ms. Clark, he said, “We had AP calculus exam this morning and have the afternoon off. Marc's treating us to a decent lunch.”
She took our drink orders while Michael and I perused the menu. When she returned with the drinks, she asked if we were ready to order and Justin responded, “If you'll not tell Clarisa, I'll have....”
“Twelve. Marc's paying.”
“Filet, grilled asparagus, wild rice and a caesar?” she asked. Justin nodded.
“Oh, you're the football Michael. I didn't recognize you in regular clothes. What would you like? Or do you need a minute?”
“What Justin's having sounds very good, except could I have potatoes?”
“Oven roasted? I'd recommend those.”
“And how do you want your steak? Justin's is almost raw. Wouldn't go more than medium.”
“Medium it is,” Michael responded.
“May the chef butterfly it?”
“I guess,” Michael answered, but looked puzzled.
“When you get that fine piece of beef more than medium rare, it can be cut so it cooks without ruining it,” she responded to his puzzled look.
“Oh,” Michael said, “sure, butterfly it.”
Ms. Clark turned to me and said, “This one you never know. He's definitely not a one-thing-always man.”
“You can say that again,” Justin said, and squeezed my thigh.
I blushed and then said, “I'll have the scallops with bacon.”
“Have a Greek village salad, well, if decent tomatoes are available now.”
“First decent ones came today. You know all this will take a while?”
“Sure,” Justin replied.
“So relax and it'll be ready when it is ready.”
I nodded and Ms. Clark left.
“So, how was your cal exam?” Justin asked, looking at Michael.
“Not as bad as I expected; not as good as I had hoped.”
We talked about the exam a bit, then drifted on to other things without Michael saying why he wanted to spend time with us, but we were, after all, in a public place. In the middle of our conversation, the salads arrived. “Wow! that looks great,” Michael exclaimed, looking at my salad. “Never heard of a salad without tons of lettuce.”
“The a Greek restaurant owner in Asheville suggested it to a friend who couldn't eat greens,” I told him. “I love it except it has to have great tomatoes. These are good, but in a couple months, I'll have Clarisa fix one. Then you'll really say wow.”
Almost an hour later, we finished our meal by having real strawberry shortcake and headed for the boat. On our way, we stopped by a convenience store and picked up ice, drinks and crackers for later in the afternoon. While Michael and Justin stowed those and got cushions from below, I did a check of the boat and engine. All was shipshape, but I did decide to go ahead and gas up before we left the marina. I turned on the exhaust to make sure there were no fumes in the engine room, then started the motor as Michael and Justin settled themselves on the stern bench.
A quick stop by the fuel pump and then I turned the bow toward the mouth of the inlet. While I enjoyed the sheer pleasure of being under sail, the steady throb of the engine below was also comforting. The forecast was for steady winds of five to ten knots with mostly sunny skies -- evidenced by the clear blue sky above us with only a small number of white, puffy clouds above us. Once again the weather was being our friend.
“No storms, as promised,” I laughed as we approached the mouth of the inlet and I upped the throttle.
Michael grinned and said, “Just the way I like it, but you're sure?”
“Weather radio on,” I responded. “We'll have warning should anything change.”
Only minutes later, we were under full sail and we three were sprawled out on the benches in the stern -- the boat was practically sailing itself -- when Justin, very subtly, asked “OK, Michael, what's the problem?” He and I had talked and wondered so much about what was going on with Michael that, I guess, it seemed like an open topic already.
Michael seemed not to notice the abruptness and responded, “Well, it's Sandy, well, Sandy’s and my relationship and, I guess, some worries I have. Since you two have been living together and everybody knows it, thought you might be of help. You know Sandy is only seventeen, nearly eighteen, but not eighteen yet, ah, right? So we don't, I mean I won't, do anything except a lot of kissing and all -- well, we do jerk each other off -- and, well, that really pisses Sandy off. He says, “We can at least suck each other's dick. Girls do it to guys all the time and you know it.” But, well, then that kid in Georgia was sent to prison for ages for statutory rape when all he did was let his girl give him head. I mean, Sandy's ready to fuck like bunnies anytime, any place, and, well, that's a problem too. I mean, I have trouble with Sandy being all over me in public, like Sunday when we first came aboard with you two and he pulled my shorts down and when I said something, he went ahead and kissed my dick.”
Clearly Michael was embarrassed and if there was any question, his blushing gave him away, along with his stammering. Michael looked up quickly, blushed even a deeper red and said, “Don't get me wrong. I love it when we are in private, but I am not as outgoing as Sandy. And even in private, he knows I don't want to go too far, but he gets me so hot! Guess I have you completely confused. Not so strange, I guess I am too.” he stammered to a stop.
“Maybe I can help,” I said. “Seems one worry you have is that Sandy is too young for sex.”
“Legally,” Michael nodded.
“Good news and bad news and good news,” I responded. “Good news is the age of consent in North Carolina is sixteen. Age difference is a factor when someone charges rape, but that's not a problem with you two since you are just a year, year and a half older than Sandy and neither likely to accuse the other of rape! Bad news, regardless of age, sex between two guys or two girls is illegal, period. It's called a 'crime against nature.' That applies to any sex act involving anything other than vaginal intercourse. Even some married couples have been charged in the past.”
“But you and Justin....”
“Fuck like bunnies sometimes, slow and easy like elephants at others. Both love the other’s cock,” Justin laughed, leaned over and kissed me, tongue clearly extended.
“So you could go to jail for making love to Marc, right?”
“So far as the statutes are concerned, yes.”
“That's by statute,” I added. “There have been several attempts to get the law repealed -- especially since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled laws against sodomy between two consenting adults in private are unconstitutional -- but the North Carolina legislature... Well, dear old dad and his ilk find it a great campaign issue, so they're not about to vote to repeal. Don't know what he will do if he ever admits I'm really gay and not just under the evil influence of that ‘queer Indian faggot’, as he calls Justin.” Justin and I laughed. “Anyway, at least one North Carolina judge agreed with the Supreme Court, duh, and threw out a case. Some websites list the law as 'invalidated by the courts' and I suppose that is true. Anyway, unless you're making love on the courthouse lawn or such, probably no worry. Justin and I certainly never worry about that.”
“OK, I promise no fucking on the courthouse lawn,” Michael chuckled, “and I’ll try to keep Sandy from trying it.”
“So, have you talked to Sandy about how you feel about public affection?” Justin asked.
“Not exactly public affection,” Michael replied. “I mean, holding hands and a quick kiss in some places are OK but, for example, even after our dancing and all at the prom, my parents are, I’m sure, still in the dark. When they brought it up, I passed it off as a prank played on old Miss Stevens and they got a good laugh out of that, but just holding hands or a kiss in front of them would bring down the wrath of God. I know showing affection, serious affection and attraction, in front of you two is OK, almost expected, I guess, but you saw what happened Sunday when we got on your boat. I asked him not to when he started undressing me in front of you and Marc.”
“And he pulled down your trunks and kissed your cock,” I nodded.
“But have you talked with him other than asking him to stop when he actually crosses the line so far as you are concerned?” Justin asked. “For example, have you impressed on him what would happen if he just decided he needed to kiss you in front of your dad or mom? And it is, I think, more about him than about your relationship, about how you two express the love you have for each other. Anyway, wanting it only his way is kinda selfish,” Old Tactful Justin said. While I agreed, I wouldn't have put it so bluntly. “Have the two of you really talked?”
“Not really. I guess I need to do that. Well, there's one final thing. I guess all the other was important, but mostly I was putting off the biggie.” Michael sighed, sat looking down, then started speaking slowly, still looking down for a couple minutes. “Remember when we were talking prom night and I told you a guy tried to fuck me, hurt me and scared hell out of me.” Justin and I both nodded. “Well, that's kinda what happened but, to tell the whole truth, well, he tried to rape me. Like I told you, he kept shoving fingers in my ass, not just with too little lube, with no lube. The more I told him he was hurting me and telling him to stop, the worse he got. He had long since stopped drinking beer and was downing the hard stuff, so it was no surprise when he decided to ram his cock up my ass, his limber dick couldn't do it. 'I'm going to fuck your goddamn ass one way or another,' he said, 'I'll get your fucking ass opened up and asking for my cock.' With that, he had grabbed the beer bottle I left on the nightstand and headed for my ass with it.
“He out-weighed me and, I think, sober he could have taken me pretty easily, but he was really drunk. I was on my stomach with his knee in my back, but I managed to turn enough to slug him. He grabbed me by my hair, pulled me back, put his foot in my back and kicked me across the room. You know the rest, except my ass was really torn up. I was bleeding pretty bad, but couldn't tell my parents and was afraid to see a doctor. I was in pretty severe pain for several days. Taking a dump was hell.
“Anyway, I'm a scared bunny when it comes to fucking. I am terrified I'd hurt Sandy if I tried to fuck him. To tell the truth, the very idea makes me sick to my stomach,” Michael said. Then he quickly added, “Not because I think it's nasty and dirty or such as that, but because I am so frightened of maybe hurting the man I love more than anything. And being fucked? The very idea makes my ass pucker. So, you see, I have a real problem.”
“Let's forget about fucking for the moment,” Justin said. “Promise we'll come back to it later.” I knew what would be included in that ‘later’ bit. Justin would not let Michael get by with talk about fucking without some discussion of the difference between fucking and making love.
“Have you talked to Sandy about that?” I asked again.
“Just about being afraid I'd hurt him. I'm scared he'll think I'm just making excuses if I told him I'm afraid of him.”
“Seems to me you and Sandy need to do some serious talking,” Justin said. “I mean if you want a real relationship, that means open communication. Sandy needs to know how you feel about displays of affection in public, what is acceptable to you and what is not. Actually, I think he needs to realize that's true with all couples. Society sets some limits and, frankly, they are tighter on us than on heterosexuals. Not fair, but TWLI, that's the way life is. Sandy is obviously enjoying his freedom to be Sandy after the life he led before his family threw him out. I suspect he'll be less demonstrative as time passes, but he'll never be as reserved as you are, Michael. Doesn't mean there are no bounds, but it does mean he'll likely embarrass you from time to time simply being Sandy.”
“He'll also bring you a lot of joy with his less reserved approach to life,” I added. “After all, you love him because he's Sandy and not a robot you have created.”
“So, you need to talk about reasonable bounds, ones that are acceptable to both of you. Be especially clear about absolute no-nos such as no show of affection in front of your parents.”
“I see that,” Michael replied. “I guess that goes for fucking too.”
“Yeah, but there's a great deal more involved there,” Justin said. “The first step I'd recommend is maybe changing your attitude about it. Making love and fucking are two different things in my book. I guess fucking, to me, is getting MY rocks off. It's focused on me and what I want. I make love to Marc. My focus is to let him know how much I love him -- totally, mind, body and soul -- and to show him that through sex. Wonderful and, by the way, a hell of a lot more pleasure than fucking 'cause Marc's doing the same when we make love, using his body to convey his love for me.”
“Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with talking about fucking,” I quickly injected. “Just need to be sure of what you mean when you talk about it. 'Fuck me, baby, fuck me,' can very well be a part of love-making, or it can mean, cram it up my ass 'cause I get my rocks off by being fucked. Don't get me wrong. Anything -- everything -- we do certainly includes lust! But we do it because we love each other, not just because we lust after each other’s body but, as I said, of course we do, lust, I mean!”
“Tell me about it,” Michael laughed.
“All that being said,” I said, “there's still the question of being frightened. Justin and I spent time to prepare ourselves for our first time....”
“And we prepare every time with foreplay, which is also making love,” Justin added.
“Yeah, and the watchwords are slow and easy.”
Justin and I then passed on some of the wisdom we had received from Antwon, Sharky and Captain Miles. After we had about talked ourselves out, Justin said, “And by the way, Michael, you don't have to have anal intercourse just because you're gay. Some, like moi love being a bottom. I love having Marc's cock inside me. Others don’t can for giving or receiving.”
Michael got a surprised look on his face and blurted out, “But I thought you'd be the man....”
“Whoa! Hold it!” I said. “We are definitely both men!”
“You know what I mean,” Michael said.
“Yeah, I do, but you're wrong. We are two men -- two men -- making love and that never changes regardless of which of us is doing what.”
“Yeah, I see what you mean,” Michael said, a bit chagrined.
“Anyway,” taking my cue from Justin, I added, “I am not at all as fond of being the receiver except, well, occasionally, but I do like being inside Justin. So if you're afraid or not ready or whatever, let Sandy know that. Just like in everything else, no means no and until you are ready, it's no. Talk! You and Sandy gotta talk!”
“Oh, and a couple other things,” Justin said. “You definitely need to see someone -- maybe you and Sandy together -- to work though your fears about making love. Check with Fr. DeBruhl. He can recommend someone.”
“You’d talk to your minister about being afraid of fucki... making love?”
“Sure,” Justin said. “Why not... oh, yeah, I guess I wouldn’t to most ministers, but Fr. DeBruhl? Sure. Also, do you have a doctor you like and who will accept you as a gay man?”
“I doubt it,” Michael responded. “I’d never let my doctor know since I do know he goes to church with my family and I’m sure believes homosexuality is a sinful choice, not the way I was born.”
“You need to change doctors. Check with Sandy. Dr. Macon is definitely gay-friendly and you need a doctor you trust.”
We three fell silent for several minutes, then Michael gave a huge sigh and said, “Thanks, guys, thanks.”
“Anytime,” Justin replied for the two of us. “Now let's get this boat moving!” Justin trimmed the sails and I maneuvered to take full advantage of the wind and soon we all just enjoyed the sound of the boat slicing through the water. Later, we started working with Michael and his learning to sail.