|This story is a work of erotic fiction involving
teenage boys. All the usual rules apply. If you shouldn't be reading this
now then don't continue on.|
Copyright Notice - Please, this story is Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002 by TheEggman Enterprises and The Glass Onion site owner/operator retains all rights. You may distribute, copy, print, staple or spindle this story however you like, provided this copyright notice remains intact and you do not change the story in any way. Also you may not charge any fee to anyone to distribute or access this story.
I groaned in displeasure as I made my way downstairs to start the coffee machines. The sun was just thinking about making an appearance, peeking over the mountains were a few hesitant beams. Hesitant, well, theyíd be bold if theyíd had their caffeine, I grumbled to myself. I canít believe I let Goose talk me into this, give up caffeine, what was I thinking? I began the process of brewing the morningís coffee and then headed back upstairs. I headed for the bathroom and showered quickly, then shaved and dressed for another workday. I headed for the kitchen and put some bread into the toaster and then went to wake Goose.
I knocked on the door to his room and called out to him that it was six thirty and time to get up for work. He groaned from the other side of the door. I shook my head as I walked back to the kitchen. He wanted to work mornings with me so he could have the rest of the time off with his friends, which was fine. He was just as much a morning person as I was though, and that was working against him. Tristan, my dog, came trotting, well, waddling into the kitchen and sniffed his bowl.
"Hey, buddy beagle," I greeted him. "Want to go out?" He looked from the dish to me and back again before ambling toward the door where I let him out. He trotted down the steps to the back yard and went about his morning routine. Thank god he wasnít a morning dog.
"Goose! Get up!" I called out and was rewarded with the sound of his door opening and the bathroom door closing. At least he was up. We had talked about his summer before school had ended. He needed money and I needed some help around the shop. I should have known it all wouldnít go smoothly though, we had argued about the name of the place before we even got set up. I said it should have something to reflect the literary side of the business. He wanted to call it the period. I overruled him. We ended up calling it the Java Script, and after we added a few computers for Internet use, it made an interesting double meaning. At least I thought so, Goose still wanted to call it the period.
With the end of the school year Goose and I had worked out his schedule, unfortunately he had to be up earlier than he had during the school year, which he didnít like at all. Not that I blamed him, but I did need the help. The business was doing pretty well, paid for itself anyway. Rich stopped in for coffee most mornings and we talked for a bit before he had to face the dayís legal issues. Occasionally the Mayor would stop by for a quick cup and a look through the shelves. The book business was a bit slow, not as many folks reading anymore, but it did all right. There was always a morning rush of people on their way to work or school. And then there were the kids that came in the afternoon. They were a good crowd, noisy sometimes, but they were all good kids. They had their Lattes and whatnot, and a few sampled the ice creams from the soda fountain counter.
There was a scratching at the back door and I went to let the dog in. He ambled over to his dish again and then regarded me when it was still found to be empty.
"Ok, ok. Iíll get your breakfast." I grinned at him. He was not amused. As I got his can of dog food out I heard the shower shut off. Good, he was almost done. I fed the dog, which looked at me as if to say, ĎIím not eating that!í I then grabbed my toast and then went down to the shop. I opened the blinds to the day and unlocked the door. I walked over to the decaf machine and got a cup of coffee. Maybe I could fool my body into thinking it was getting the real thing? Probably not. I was glad the madness of the book signing was over, what a stressful event that was. Matt had gone home to Tim and I hadnít heard a word since. Well, I guess that must mean they are happy, right? The dog came down the stairs, as was his morning custom. Heíd wait to see if there was something better to eat here before eating what was in his dish.
I went to the front door and retrieved the morning paper and sat down with the comics. Rich strode in a few minutes later and poured a cup of coffee and then sat across from me bleary eyed.
"Morniní," he mumbled. I returned the greeting, as it was. Goose pounded down the stairs a few minutes later, grabbed milk from the cooler, and sat with us.
"Hi, Sheriff," he said perkily before swiping the sports page. Rich eyed him warily and I could read that thought. Anything that cheerful this early was definitely dangerous or up to something. Since the source of the cheeriness was a teenager, either one could apply. Tristan wasnít far behind Goose and he headed right for the table and proceeded to whine for whatever we had. The local bakery driver pulled up to the front door and I walked out to greet him out on the curb as he opened the back of the truck.
"Morning, Sheridan, howís things?" I asked.
"Not bad, not bad at all, Dave. How about you? Howís your first day without caffeine?" He smirked as he pulled a rack off the truck. I flipped him the bird and he laughed.
"Hereís your order, sign here please." I signed for the order and watched him get back in the truck and head off to his next stop. Too bad I still donít have the nerve to ask if heís gay or not, I thought to myself. I reached for the cart and Rich scared the hell out of me.
"Heís cute, why donít you ask him in for coffee or something?" he asked from the doorway. I nearly had a heart attack!
"Rich! Jeez, donít do that to me!" I said, trying to catch my breath. He just laughed, clapped me on the back, and headed out to his vehicle. I grabbed the bakery cart and headed into the shop to put all the fresh stuff into the cases. Goose came over to help but I could feel his eyes on me.
"What?" I asked warily.
"Nothing," he said.
"Kody," I sighed. "Just ask, itís better than you shooting me those strange looks all morning," I said.
"Well, I was wondering why you donít offer Sheridan a cup of coffee? What could it hurt?" he asked.
"I take it back, go back to your strange looks," I replied, reaching for the next tray of baked goods.
"Dad, itís not like youíre ugly or something, and heís not bad for an older guy," he began.
"What do you mean older, heís my age, for crying out loud!" I said irritably.
"Yeah," he grinned, "older."
I shot him a warning glance and returned to arranging the croissants and bagels. He walked across the room to the coffee machines and emptied the pots into the insulated dispensers and started fresh pots. I finished the baked goods and wheeled the cart into the back room and returned to double check that everything was in place. Satisfied, I sat back down with my wanna-be coffee and picked up the paper. I was surprised to see Jordan come in with Wolfie.
"Hey, guys, bit early for you, isnít it?" I asked.
"Weíre going fishing for the day!" Jordan told me excitedly. Wolfie smiled down at him as he went to say hello to Kody.
"Sometimes I need to remember to take time out for the things that are really important, and a day off fishing is indeed a very important thing, especially to that boy." He grinned.
"Coffee?" I offered.
"Yes, I brought a thermos and weíd like to get some of those baked goodies to go with it." We went over to the counter and he perused the caseís contents. "Such delicious things they make over there, my, my. So howís Sheridan?" he asked absently. I almost dropped the box of gloves I had in my hands.
"What?" I asked quickly.
"Oh, well, Kody saidÖ" he began.
"Goose!" I yelled out, "Get your tail feathers over here!"
"Now, donít get so upset! He just said he was cute and heíd caught you looking a little too long once in a while," Wolfie soothed. Kody came from between the bookracks with a half grin.
"Yeah, Dad?" he asked. I leaned across the counter and smiled my sweetest smile.
"Sonny, if you tell another soul my personal business, Iíll make a feather duster out of you," I said.
"Um, ok," he said and retreated across the room. Once he reached a safe distance Wolfie grinned at me.
"So is he dating anyone?" he asked.
"Who? Sheridan? I donít know! He delivers baked goods, thatís all. Makes a delivery in the morning and a pick up at the end of the day," I said somewhat irritably.
"I just thought there must be some reason why this shop is the first stop in the morning and the last in the evening," he mused before pointing at baked items to take with him on his fishing trip.
"Well," Goose called form across the room, "he must not like him then, Dadís not a nice guy in the morning." I grabbed an orange from the fruit display on the counter and threw it at him as he ran for cover, giggling. Tristan began to whine as he saw the items being bagged and not a one hit the floor. He was great for that anyway, never had to sweep with him around. I glared at him.
"Never work with kids or animals," I muttered as I rang up Wolfie's order and he departed with Jordan in tow.
The morning rush was just that. It started not long after Wolfie left and was a groundswell of humanity. Kody and I stayed very busy filling orders and ringing people out so they could get on their way. It felt good to be so busy and to see satisfied faces head out the door, even if they had a bad day at work, they had a good cup of coffee in them first thing. A few times I had to stifle a yawn, my body was not fooled by the decaf from this morning. We got all the best people in here, Dewey Arnold from the High School, Kevin Banks from, well, the bank. Once in a while Marc from Puerhaven stopped in as well. And Bubba was a regular with his boys, Ian and Jeremiah. They made a really nice family, and quite often Rich came in with them. The boys seemed to be doing well since their rescue, and it was always nice to see them smiling as they came in. I think Kody was always pleased to see both of them, but Iím not supposed to talk about that! Rich Bondi, the judge, was also a frequent customer. I was always interested in seeing his car as it wasÖ Unique. I did, however, survive the morning and after Kody swept up and emptied the trash he went out for the afternoon.
I sat in one of the armchairs and relaxed for a minute. Lunchtime was slow; anyone in town went to Lusiadís if they went out for lunch so I had some time to catch my breath. Tristan had settled on one of the couches and slept with a small snore escaping him from time to time. I simply relaxed with my decaf and tried to think happy thoughts that didnít include caffeine. The mayor stopped in around one thirty to browse the new titles section, along with a few other customers that I didnít know. Hizzoner got himself a coffee and sat down in the armchair facing mine.
"Afternoon, Dave," I said.
"Hi, Dave," he replied. After a quick glance at his watch he continued, "I am officially on duty and wanted to talk to you about something, or rather someone."
"Mention baked goods, your honor, and youíll wear your java," I told him. He gave me a confused look before continuing.
"Actually, Rich Bondi called me this morning. Another runaway was found this morning at the bus stop." He stood and began to pace. "He seems to be ok physically and mentally. Heís not real big, nice kid pretty much. See, the thing is since I have Joe I donít have any space, and our other foster families are full up at the moment so I thought I would check with you," he said, glancing at me. "We can get your Foster license passed through pretty quickly, I am sure, and I can ask Rich to grant temporary custody until that time," he finished. I groaned mentally.
"You know, I gave up caffeine this morning," I said as I got up and headed for the counter, "And after a few choice comments this morning, I realize I should never have stopped. I mean, I threw fruit at my kid this morning, and now my hearing is whacked out. I could swear I heard you ask me to take in another kid. I am ready to strangle Goose as it is!"
"Well, I had hoped to back into it a little more gracefully, but yes, thatís what Iím asking. And hey, Kody is a great kid, and I know you know that. He got good grades, Dewey says, and he made the All-Star team for baseball. Rich certainly hasnít had any run-ins with him," Dave tried to say in a reasonable tone.
"Rich doesnít live with him," I grumbled.
"Dave, in all seriousness, the shelter is a ways off yet. The boy has nowhere to go, and you have the extra room. I know you havenít had any caffeine today butÖ" the Mayor smiled. "Please, consider it. I can bring him by later. You know, for ice cream. You guys can meet and letís take it from there, ok? Sounds good, Iíll see you this afternoon!" he said and was out the door before my jaw opened. Hey! I think I just got railroaded! I stepped behind the counter to get the cups refilled and the ice cream cones topped off. Another kid around the house? Well, I guess thatíd help cover afternoons, huh?
The bell jingled over the door and I turned to greet the person and found Kody coming in with some kids in a local band. They were pretty good too, and I think Kody was sweet on the blond, but who knows with him? I thought Joe was going to win his heart, but Kody came to talk to me and worked out that he really wanted to be Joeís friend more than anything, since it looked like he hadnít had too many of them and heíd probably need one. Besides, if they dated or something and broke up, thereíd be hard feelings and then it wouldnít be easy to be his friend, he had reasoned. And then there was TJ who he had fallen for pretty hard, and was naturally crestfallen to find out he was dating Ian, who wasnít far off in the looks category. And now there was Andy, the cute blond with the green eyes. Now what poor love-struck Kody didnít see was the loving looks Andy and Jay exchanged, almost the same as the drummer Ben and the singer Chip. Paul, or Mouse as he was known, and Kevin appeared to be single however, but Kody, like myself, had a weakness for blonds. Which of course leads us to Jordan, who was too young really for consideration. But Iíll tell you this much, heartbreaker in the making!
The kids approached the counter and I felt a sense of doom as only teenagers can exude.
"Whatís up, guys?" I asked as I added sugar cones to the dispenser. Tristan sensed impending food and headed for the boys.
"Well, we were thinking," Mouse began.
"Well, thatís always a dangerous thing," I said with a smile. He returned the smile and plunged on.
"We thought it might be cool if your store had some live entertainment, you know, one night we could come down and do a small show or something," he said, trailing into shyness.
"Live band, huh? Donít know if I have ever heard of that at a bookstore before," I remarked.
"Dad, theyíre good," Kody said.
"I am not questioning the talent, Goose. Just the venue." I looked at Mouse, "You realize if I agree to this there has to be noise level limits, pre-approved play set and so forth. I canít have screamingly loud music, it doesnít attract the bookish types," I said.
"Yeah, but kids will come in to hear and they have money from their parents to buy ice cream and stuff. We could put up some posters, one night only, you know?" Kevin replied with some enthusiasm.
"Well, " I began as I continued to fill the cones and other supplies, "there is also the problem of where a stage would be, and itís not a huge place, you know."
"We could rearrange a little just for the show," Andy said thoughtfully. He was the roadie/manager for these guys, I think.
"We could start by putting that ugly chair away for the night," Kody began.
"I like that chair!" I said. He just grinned and went on.
"By moving the couch near the window and taking the table off to the side we have enough room for the equipment and the patrons," he finished with a flourish.
I felt a little cornered; obviously this had been discussed before they laid siege to me. Who ever heard of a concert in a bookstore? I told them Iíd think about it and Kody grinned as if to say it was a done deal. I was tempted to say no just to spite him! The band ordered sundaes and I filled each order and they occupied a corner of the room, trying to work on a play list for their potential gig. I have to admit; it was kind of intoxicating to be around their enthusiasm. Eventually the Mayor returned with a boy in tow about fourteen or so. He seemed very shy, almost painfully so.
"What can I get for you gentleman?" I asked.
"What do you say, Charlie? What looks good?" the Mayor asked his young companion. The boy slowly eyed the sundae menu but failed to voice an opinion. "I think Iíll have coffee flavor, does that come with caffeine, Dave?" he asked me with a wink.
"I donít know, but donít say it so loud, might have to start eating ice cream instead of coffee if it does," I replied wryly. "Dish, sugar cone, or wafer cone?" I asked.
"I think a dish will do," the Mayor replied. Kody stepped behind the counter and tugged his apron on. Before he could ask the new fellow his name, which was what he was up to, I am sure, TJ breezed in with Ian. Kodyís eyes were fixed for a moment and I knew he still had something for TJ, even if he was dating Ian. Kody recovered and smiled down at the new kid as TJ and Ian made their way to the band members.
"Hey, Iím Kody. What can I get for you?" he asked warmly, smiling down at this fellow known as Charlie. Charlie didnít respond except to get very red. "You like Cookies and Cream?" Kody asked undeterred. Charlie nodded yes and Kody asked if he wanted a dish or a cone.
"Sugar cone, please." Charlie said softly.
"Coming right up!" Kody said with a smile and started preparing the order. Well, at least heíd be quiet around the house, I thought. Yeah, in case youíre wondering, I had already given up. I know when I have been beat, besides, whatís the old saying about not being able to fight city hall? The Mayorís newest housemate Joseph walked in just then and came up to the counter. Mayor Eggman tossed his arm around him casually and asked if heíd like ice cream too. Naturally he did, the boy loved ice cream. He placed his order and as he did Tristan made his way from the couch to Josephís side and began sniffing his bare leg. Joe giggled and tried to step away but the beagle was clearly on a mission and followed his every move.
I tried to shoo him away but he would not be deterred. Joe went to sit on the couch with the mayor and Charlie when Tristan made his move, in a flash he was on Joeís leg humping for all he was worth. Joeís face went so red and I rushed across the room after my dog. Charlie was giggling madly and Tristan fought me as I dragged him out the back door and put him in the yard. As I returned out of breath to apologize I saw that Charlie was talking animatedly to Joe and the mayor about Tristanís transgression, he seemed happy and the wall of shyness had broken. Imagine that, dog humps leg, breaks other boyís silence, film at eleven. I headed back to the counter and was intercepted by Jay, the bassist, with a hastily thrown together play list.
I stepped behind the counter and looked over the list as he watched anxiously. The list was fairly quiet stuff, not too bad. This wasnít a bar after all.
"When is this little gig supposed to happen?" I asked, eyeing him.
"You mean we can?" he said excitedly. I looked at him for another moment and then nodded my head and he yelled out to the others that they were on. They came over and I guess they had been holding their breath about it. Kody gave me a quick hug and called me a soft touch. Yeah, yeah. We made plans for a show in two weeks time so they could brush up a bit and have time to copy posters or something to advertise and tell their friends and family. More kids began to show up and once again the shop was mobbed. The computers were in use, the quiet murmur of conversation could be heard in the reading area and I started the fire in the fireplace with a remote. I just loved that! As the crowd settled I went over and had a seat with the mayor and Charlie.
"Dave, I was just telling Charlie about your shop. Charlie likes to read quite a bit, he even brought up the idea of working afternoons for you since you seem to be so busy," the Mayor said.
"Well, good help I can use. And reading is a good thing as well," I replied. Rich walked in and grabbed a cup of coffee before joining us.
"Man, am I glad the day is almost over," Rich said before looking at me. "You seen Ian today?"
"Yeah, he was in here with TJ earlier. I donít know where they went though; they might be in on the computers. Check with Goose." I replied and Rich got up to go check the computer room.
"So, Charlie, do you have a last name or shall we all call you just Charlie?" I asked. He grinned at me.
"My nameís Charlie Chase. Am I going to be staying with you?" he asked, suddenly getting shy. Well there it was, out on the table. I could see from Daveís expression this was another situation he had hoped to ease into gracefully. Oh well, I guess when youíre in politics you donít have many truly graceful moments.
"Well, as long as you donít have any bad habits, I guess," I replied, eyeing him.
"Like what?" he asked.
"Well, like picking your nose and putting the boogers on the ceiling or something." He giggled. "Or wearing the same socks and underwear for a week or two, and no eating bugs. Thatís a big rule of mine, Tristan would be jealous Ďcause he chases down all the bugs," I finished. He was giggling and tears were running down his face as he clutched his sides. I prodded him and asked if he had any of those habits and he shook his head no while he continued to laugh. Satisfied, I told him he could move in.
The days seemed to pass quickly. Charlie settled in pretty well, he was still a pretty quiet kid but he did his own laundry and worked well in the shop. He made friends quickly as there was a steady flow of kids coming through the doors of our little shop. The show was scheduled for a Wednesday and on Tuesday I got a strange visitor. Or maybe a first time visitor, I should say. He showed up in a beat up pickup truck, unshaven and a hat pulled low over his eyes, and wearing mirrored sunglasses.
"Hi there, you Dave?" he asked.
"Guilty," I replied, extending a hand.
"Nice to meet you, Iím Lance," he said shaking my hand. "This group of guys that practice out at my place said they had a gig here and I wanted to come check it out, you know?"
"Yeah, good kids." I said, "Should be a pretty good show, I think."
"No doubt, theyíve been practicing non-stop. I was just wondering why they picked a bookstore," he said, looking around the room. "Not that itís bad, in fact it looks like the acoustics should be kind of nice in here," he said, walking over toward the middle of the room.
"Well, two reasons," I said. "One, as my kid puts it, I am an easy touch. Second, I think my Kody is sweet on Andy, the blond that kind of manages them. It looked like there was something going between him and the bandís bassist though, so I think heís barking up the wrong tree there."
"Not too lucky in love, huh?" Lance asked as he sat in an easy chair.
"Well, it just seems as though heís late in love. He liked TJ and he was taken, he liked Joe but he decided heíd be a better friend to him than anything else. Then there were Mattís boys, but of course that was only a few days. And now this boy. I feel bad for him, but what can you do?"
Lance nodded in agreement. The bakery truck pulled up outside and I grabbed the rack from the back room with all the extras and headed for the door when Sheridan surprised me by coming inside before I was out of the stockroom.
"Hi, Dave," he said with a small wave.
"Hi, Sheridan. Um, little late today, huh?" I asked nervously. Goose came pounding down the stairs into the shop. He smiled at Sheridan.
"Hey, Sheridan! How are you doing?" he asked cheerily. I smelled a setup.
"Oh, hey, Kody. Good, thanks. Just heading back for the night and, uh, thought Iíd get a cup of coffeeÖ Or something," he said.
"Well, Dadís the expert on coffees. Iíll let him service you!" Kody said with what looked like a small wink.
"Youíre Kody, huh?" Lance said, getting off his spot in the chair. "The Kody they also call Goose?"
"Uh, yeah, thatís me," Kody replied.
"Nice to meet you, Iíve heard a lot of good things about you," Lance said as he held his hand out. Kody took the offered hand and shook it.
"Do I know you?" Kody asked.
"No, not really. The guys in the band practice out at my place and theyíve told me how you thought up this little gig here. I appreciate it, they need to get out and play. Show folks what they can do, you know?" Lance replied.
"Oh. Wait, you mean youíreÖ" Kodyís mouth dropped.
"Yeah, not so loud, huh?" Lance asked.
"Um, yeah. Right, no problem. Thatís really nice of you to let them practice out there, and the show here should be real good. Weíre going to put up posters for it," Kody replied, trying to stay calm as requested.
"Yeah, well, theyíre pretty good guys, and decent musicians too. Theyíre working on a special tune for you, ya know," Lance said, adjusting his hat and withdrawing the keys to the truck from his pocket.
"They are? I thought the play list was already set?" Kody said.
"Well, they thought it was only fair. íSides, I think they know youíre sweet on someone," Lance said with a small smirk.
"They what? Oh, wait a minute, you canít be serious!" Kody said as his cheeks flared red.
"Anyway, should be interesting. Iíll try to drop in tomorrow and give Ďem a listen. Later, Kody, really nice to have met you," Lance said before waving to me and departing.
"Well," I said to Kody, "Looks like youíve been caught looking again." I smiled.
"So have you." Kody said, nodding at Sheridan before ducking out the door. I felt my own cheeks redden and I turned to face Sheridan.
"Sorry about that, heís at an awkward stage. You know, the one where his mouth is never closed," I said sheepishly.
"Thatís ok." He smiled. I leaned against the counter, more for support than anything else since my knees suddenly didnít feel up to the task of holding me up.
"Ah, so, how about that cup of coffee?" I asked. Ok, it was more like a mumble, but I asked it, that was the point!
"Actually, I have to get the truck back but if youíre not busy later onÖ Lusiadís has a seafood special tonight?" he half stated, half asked. My heart was in my throat, was he asking me on a date? Oh Yes!
"Sure, that sounds nice. What time do you want to meet?" I asked, hopefully not betraying my nervousness.
"Say seven thirty?" he asked. I nodded and he waved with a small smile and headed out to his truck. It started and shut off and he came back in. I looked at him in confusion and he smiled sheepishly.
"Forgot the cart," he said.
"Oh!" I exclaimed as I let go of the baking rack and he wheeled it up onto the truck. He waved again and was gone. I went behind the counter, whistling to myself. Charlie popped out form the bookracks.
"You have a date?" he asked.
"Why do you sound so surprised?" I asked as I ran hot water and soap into the deep sink for the coffee machine parts.
"Iím surprised Ďcause you took so long! Youíve had your eye on him at least since Iíve been here," he said as he sat in an armchair with a book from the shelf.
"And I suppose you would have moved faster?" I asked while taking the coffee machines apart.
"Well, yeah. Whatís the worst that can happen? He says Ďno thanksí?" he stated. I eyed him for a minute before speaking.
"Why donít you help me get this place squared away?" I asked. "Now that I have the date I donít want to be late, huh?" Charlie grinned and shook his head.
"I can finish here, why donít you take your time?" he said with a devilish grin. I sat down across from him and regarded this boy who was settling into our lives so well he felt as if he was always there. In fact it was remarkable how seamlessly he fit in.
"So what do you think of Baysville, kiddo?" I asked him.
"Itís like a dream for me. Of all the things that were said and done in my hometown, I think the worst thing was the feeling of being alone. All the boyfriends and girlfriends going somewhere hand in hand, getting in trouble for kissing in the halls. I wanted that too, I wanted to have someone to experience all that with. Now Iíll at least have a level playing field," he said in a very serious, solemn voice. I sat stunned at the mature statement this boy had just made. I think he spoke for quite a few gays when he said that, it was a universal constant.
"Do you think Iíll find someone?" he asked suddenly.
"Charlie, thatís a tough question. Even straights go through their lives wondering if they will ever meet mister or missus right. But I think coming here probably improved your chances." I looked at him for a minute before speaking. "Do you ever miss Georgia? Your hometown and family?"
He appeared to consider his answer and then replied in a measured tone, "I guess a part of me will always love that part of the country, and yeah, they were my parents no matter how bad they are. So I guess a little bit of me will always love them. But I know I would have died if I had stayed there. I know I would have eventually killed myself or just died inside and walked around like other people, but with no motivation or feeling in my life. And then I may as well have been dead." The serious tone convinced me of his words and a chill ran up my spine.
"Well, Iím glad you decided to come here then," I said, feeling quite stunned.
"Me too, Iím happy and I feel like you and Goose like having me around," he said before standing. "Could I have a hug? After that I think I need one," he said. I stood and embraced him, rubbing his back soothingly as I did so. After a few moments he pulled away.
"Well, you better get going. Iíll get this place picked up," he said, heading toward the counter.
"Charlie?" I said.
"Yeah?" he said, stopping to face me.
"We do want you here," I said, smiling before going upstairs to get ready for my date.
I was a few minutes early and went ahead and got a table since it looked to be filling up quickly. Not surprising really, Lusiadís was the only place in town to go for a decent meal, if you asked me. I ordered a beer to sip while I waited and tried to relax. I still couldnít believe this was happening. About fifteen minutes later he came through the front door and I waved him over. He sat down a bit out of breath.
"Sorry Iím late, had a small problem at the bakery, kind of held me up." He said.
"Oh thatís ok, no problem. What happened out there? Nothing serious, I hope," I said by way of conversation.
"Well," he began, a sheepish smile crossing his face, "my grandparents run that place and they argue like, well, like an old married couple." He chuckled, "Grandma was pissed because Grandpa was being friendly to this cute young thing in the store today, so she was throwing dough and pastry at him in the warehouse." He grinned. My jaw dropped and I laughed out loud.
"Speaking of married couples arguing, they had a story in a New York City paper one time about a couple that was fighting over the TV remote. It ended when the wife, 86, shot her 87 year-old husband." I chuckled.
And just like that we were off in conversation, and it just seemed to go on and on in a comfortable easy pace. After dinner we sipped coffee at the table and gradually migrated over to the bar where we continued to talk. It was amazing how we could talk and talk without seeming to tire! As the night approached one oíclock I told him I really had to go as I had to open in the morning, and he replied he also had to get home as he had a route to run in the morning. We hesitated outside before closing the night with a kiss, and what a kiss!
I got home and couldnít sleep; I was up until three thirty when I finally drifted off happily with sweet dreams on my mind.
I awoke at nine thirty scrambling since I knew I was late and I had missed the whole morning crowd. I stepped out into he kitchen to find a note taped to the fridge.
We switched off your alarm so you could sleep and we covered the morning. Hope you had fun! =)
K & C
I smiled to myself; I had some good kids here on my hands. I took a nice hot shower and then pried the dog out of bed and put him out back. That was the only reason he was out of bed anyway. If I didnít get him up when I got up heíd never move from that padded spot. I snugged my clothes and then headed down to the shop, it was ten fifteen. I spotted the boys who were dealing with the very end of the morning stragglers. I thanked them, gave them each some cash and kicked them out for the day. I also cut off any questions right away. I finished wiping the counters and sweeping as Sheridan walked in.
"Hey, what are you doing here? Not that Iím complaining!" I said by way of greeting.
"I have these things called sick days at work, and it was a good day to take one, let me tell you," he replied as he yawned and sat at a table.
I got two cups of coffee and sat down with him. He mumbled thanks as he sipped the brew.
"So I hear thereís a concert here tonight?" he asked.
"Yeah, Kody talked me into letting these guys play here tonight. Theyíre good kids, I donít mind really. Besides, Kodyís sweet on one of them so I think this is more like a personal favor to him. And let me tell you, if I were Kodyís age Iíd be after Andy too." I replied.
"Think he has a chance?" Sheridan asked.
"No, unfortunately the bassist, Jay, seems to set the rhythm for Andyís heart, so Kody is out in the cold again. He just doesnít know it yet," I replied with a sigh.
"Poor kid. How come you know and he doesnít?" He asked.
"Well, heís so blind right now that he canít see the same looks heís giving Andy are the looks Andy and Jay give each other." I replied.
"Ouch," he winced. "That has to be tough on him," he said taking a sip of his coffee.
"Yeah, I feel bad for him, but what can you do? Itís life and I can say that now, I know heíll get over it and move on. But when his heart breaks, it wonít be so easy to say that to him. Again." I sighed.
"What do you mean again?" he asked. I went through the list of Kodyís loved and lost and as I went on I saw Sheridanís face grow long with sympathy. We sat in silence for a bit, and it was a comfortable one. The only sounds were the pendulum on the clock and the sipping of coffee, the murmur of the coolers doing their magic on the ice cream. Time passed slowly and as the first of the afternoon customers came in Sheridan offered to help out with the set up for the show. I thanked him and resumed my spot behind the counter and began waiting on customers. The band showed up while the place was really hopping and Sheridan helped them move things around to accommodate equipment. There were several groups of kids there, hanging out and waiting for the show.
I watched Kody working with the band to set up, and as he worked he took every opportunity to make contact with Andy. I sighed to myself and tried to make ready to pick up the pieces later. The Mayor walked in with Joseph and ordered sundaes, which they adjourned to the house with. Rich walked in with Bubba and the boys. They placed their orders and after they sat down, Rich popped back over to me.
"Dave, you have a permit for the after-dark noise?" he asked. I stood slack jawed, I had no idea I needed one and said as much.
"Well, you do," he said, shaking his head and handing me a few papers stapled together. "Fortunately you have folks who look out for you," he said. I smiled and signed where he indicated and he resumed his position at the table with his family. I watched them for a minute, and felt a pang of jealousy. They all knew what they meant to one another, did my guys know what they meant to me? Kody and I say a lot of things to pick at each other, but under all that was there a real foundation? I hate moments of self-doubt, and this one was no different than any other, I guess. Time flowed and at last the band was ready. The lights were dimmed and I was happy to note the boysí parents were out to support their kids, several kids from school were in attendance and the regular folks in town like Lusiad and Chris, Bubba and Rich, Rich Bondi, Wolfie and Jordan who looked fit to burst with excitement, and lookie here, Charlie sitting with Jordan! Well, he did say the worst he could be told was no, I guess. Kevin Banks was in attendance and even Marc from Puerhaven with his protťgť Khevvyn. The drummer, Ben, tapped his sticks together three times and as the first note was struck, the fire leapt to life behind them. They played in silhouette and gradually the lights for the makeshift stage were brought up to reveal the band. They were completely in sync with one another, Ben set the pace and Jay laid down a bass line that positively made you want to dance, although I was able to control myself. Ok, ok, I admit I tapped my foot, happy?
Kevin brought in the rhythm guitar line and Mouse just plucked here and there as Chip started to sing. His voice carried strength and real power as it filled the room and the crowd responded, swaying in their seats. The night progressed like that with a few interesting twists. At one point Jay had a bass solo for just a few measures that made you heart change rhythm to the pounding of his chords. They finished with their signature song first performed live with Sir Notle at the Center High stadium. Mouse and Kevin leaned against one another and the guitars soared, music growing entwined like ivy. It was stunning.
I watched as the last note tapered from the guitars and the crowd erupted for them, myself included. When they settled a few minutes later, Chip stepped up to the microphone.
"Hey, we are so amazed you all came out to see us play, itís just so awesome to us," he said softly and the crowd clapped again briefly. "We have one last song, and you know we really love to play loud pounding music." He looked at me and I frowned as he grinned, "Well, this song is real quiet, but I had to say that so I could watch Kodyís dad sweat a minute." He chuckled into the mike, and the crowd teased me en masse.
"So for this last song, Andy is going to sing, and Iím going to back him up." Chip said with a grin. A very pale Andy approached the stage with many gestures to get up there and sing. Applause erupted as he stepped into the spotlight and one voice rang above the others ĎMy baby!í. Andy stepped up to the mike hesitantly and began to speak.
"Sometimes we meet people and they find a special place in us. Sometimes that special place isnít the one they want from you, and that hurts them." He inhaled deeply before continuing. "I have this new friend, you see, and heís so cool. He helps the band out, and he got us this place to play tonight. He always makes you laugh, and I wanted him to know how much his friendship means to me." He closed his eyes before continuing. "Even if I donít feel the same way he does about me. This song is called Kody." Kevin and Mouse had switched to acoustic guitars and a slow strum started and Chip began a melodious backing vocal as Andy began to sing in a clear tenor.
"Kody sat down on the Avenue, taps his feet to the humming of the highway." And so the song went on. Kody came to stand with me and I held him while the tears rolled and my heart ached for him. Couldnít Andy have said 'no' in private? Kody broke from me and went upstairs and I let him be for the moment as I still had a full store. I noticed Lance come over while the acoustic song continued to float from the stage.
"I told him I didnít think it was the best way, but you know he just couldnít face Kodyís face, even if he knew it had to be said," Lance said quietly. I regarded Lance for a moment before replying.
"Well, Lance, thatís nice that Andy wanted to spare his own feelings, but did anyone stop and consider Kodyís for a second? Did they consider it at all? His heartís broken, publicly no less, no big deal, I guess happens all the time. Especially to him, so I just have to wonder, Lance." I looked at him squarely, "When is someone going to consider Kody before they break his heart?"
"Iím sorry, Dave. It wasnít my call, the band decided on it. Andy and Jay are a couple, they love Kody to death, the whole group does and they thought it was the right thing to do. I disagreed but they are kids, they have to learn. So donít get pissed at me," he said softly.
"Sorry, Lance. Itís just frustrating, Goose is a good kid. I hate to see him hurt," I replied, looking down at my hands as the song ended and the lights were removed from the bandís eyes.
"I know you do, Dave, I know. And I feel bad for him too," Lance said.
The applause started right away and the band basked in the glow of a great performance, and Andyís debut as a singer. Chip hugged him and mussed his hair while Jay grabbed him from behind and lifted him in the air while shouting in excitement. The kids were congratulated as parents and peers came up to them, hands were shaken and pats on the back were handed out. I noted Charlie left the scene and went upstairs. I checked the nightís receipts and took twenty percent out of the register for the band, I thought it only fair. The people began to filter out and Lusiad reminded everyone that the Bottle was open with a special on drafts, which got a few peopleís attention. The band was busily packing away their things and Lance seemed to have made a clean getaway. Some of the kids from school, Ian, TJ, and Jeremiah to name a few, helped with the rearranging of furniture. I closed the front doors to business and went to clean behind the counters. Andy and Jay approached me, sitting on stools as I cleaned the countertops.
"Um, where is Kody?" Andy asked in a voice full of tremors.
I looked at him squarely. "He went upstairs to be alone," I stated flatly. Andyís face crumpled and my heart softened to him.
"Look, Andy. People have to tell folks they arenít interested every single day." I shrugged, "They usually donít do it in a public forum. Thatís like taking your date to the baseball game and having the giant screen in center field say, ĎHell no, I wonít marry youí," I said to him.
"We didnít mean to hurt him, Mr. Schreiber, but we really couldnít find a way to tell him so that he wouldnít be hurt. Heís soÖ." Jay paused while thinking of a word and Andy broke in.
"Innocent. He didnít even see that we were together. I mean, Kodyís great, I meant everything I said. But Jay and IÖ" he said while looking like a whipped puppy, "we love each other. I want Kody to be my friend, heís a great friend to us both," he finished and sat quietly.
"I donít know what to say, guys. Heís hurt, Iíll talk to him when Iím done here." The rest of the band approached and I fished in my pocket, breaking the money up evenly between them. "Guys, hereís your take on the till tonight. Good job."
"We get paid?" Mouse asked, incredulous. It was so sweet, they all burst out laughing. Sheridan came walking over and let me know the sitting area was all back together. I thanked him and shooed the band out the door. Sheridan lay on the couch, looking exhausted and delicious all at once. I sighed; I had Kody to tend to.
"I guess I better go see how Goose is doing," I said, my voice betraying my desire to stay with him as well.
"Well, how about I get a few specials from Lusiadís for dinner and meet you back here in like a half hour?" he offered. I brightened at the idea and he smiled. I guess it showed.
"Sounds like a plan!" I took him to the front door, and then gave him the key for his return.
"My, my, your key so quickly? We hardly know each other." He batted his eyes and I blushed, shoving him out the door. Goofball!
I headed upstairs and found the boys in the living room on the couch, Kody lying back on Charlieís chest and wiping the tears from his eyes. I sat on the edge of the couch, facing him.
"Goose? You ok, bud?" I asked softly. He looked at me with red-rimmed eyes and my heart broke. He shook his head.
"Dad, is there something wrong with me? I think there must be something, something real bad." He sat up and faced me; "No one wants to date me in a town where there are more gays than you can shake a stick at." His eyes fell to the floor. "Maybe I was better off at grandpaís."
"Goose, thereís nothing wrong with you, baby," I said quietly. He looked at me with those crestfallen eyes and asked.
"You just havenít been too lucky yet, son. Lots of people take a long time to find one, the right one. I know you felt strongly for Andy, and Andy feels strongly for you as well. But heís in love with Jay." I paused. "He didnít want to hurt you, he was singing for you. To show you that it wasnít that he didnít care, heís justÖ taken," I said.
"Just like TJ." he said.
"Yeah. Itíll happen, Goose; youíre a great guy. Youíll see," I said, trying to be reassuring.
"Of course itíll happen, Kody. Look at Dad, he got a date didnít he?" Charlie said to him with a true devilish grin.
"Hey!" I said as he grinned at me and the sun broke through the clouds on Kodyís face. I tackled Charlie off the couch and he called out for Kody to help, which he did, the little ankle biter! We rolled on the floor until we were all breathing heavily and red faced. We lay on the living room carpet, my boysí heads on my chest as I released them from the headlocks I had them in, panting and out of breath.
Sheridan showed up with dinner and the boys got along well with him. We watched a movie and then the kids went to bed. Sheridan and I went down to the shop and had a dish of ice cream before he headed home for the evening. And yes, the kiss was electric and no, I didnít get my key back.
I trudged up the stairs and the beagle was nosing at his water dish. He placed both feet in the dish and began to dig, as if the water would magically appear. I filled the dish and he drank, making a mess. I rolled my eyes and he headed down the hall. He stopped at Charlieís room and nosed the door open. I gazed in and saw him sprawled out and sleeping soundly. Tristan, satisfied, moved to the next door, Kodyís. He nosed the door and I caught up to him after closing Charlieís door. Goose was lying back on his bed, a single lump under his covers as opposed to Charlieís sprawl. I was closing the door when the lump spoke.
"Dad?" he said.
"Yeah?" I asked as I eased the door open a bit. He sat up to look at me.
"I just wanted to say thanks." He looked down at his hands as he spoke again. "I know Iím not your son, but I wanted to sayÖ" he trailed off into gentle sobs. I crossed the room and sat on his bed and engulfed him in my arms, as though they could ward off all harm
"Youíre my son in every way that matters, Goose," I said, softly stroking his hair.
"Dad, I love you," he said into my shoulder.
"I love you too, Goose," I replied.
"Dad?" he asked.
"I canít breathe," he mumbled. I let him go.
"Oops," I said.
Tristan had decided we had just about enough of this and he was ready for bed. He howled at us sitting on the bed and then charged full speed and made a leap onto the bed. He waddled directly to Goose and began to lick his face, and try as he might, Kody couldnít escape that tongue.
"Whatís all the noise?" Charlie said from the doorway, rubbing one eye and yawning around the words. He shuffled over to us and embraced us both before laying his head on the pillow. "Donít leave me outta hugs," he mumbled. Kody lay back down as the beagle mined under the covers and settled at the foot of the bed. Kody lay back and I kissed his forehead.
" I saw that," Charlie said sleepily and kissed his forehead as well.
"Good night, guys," I said as I headed out of the room.
"Goodnight, Dad," they mumbled as they drifted off.
Chapter 15 by Dabeagle