Halloween! It would probably be the last Halloween trick-or-treating for me. I was 13 years old, and I thought I was a little old for that sort of thing, but who could resist free candy?
I was with four other boys, all about my age. We were the only boys our age on the island. We had talked about not going. We didn’t get a charge out of dressing up anymore, but we decided to wear minimal costumes and go one last time─for the candy.
I was dressed as a doctor, wearing a white jacket and a stethoscope borrowed from my father, who was a veterinarian.
After we had visited just about every house on the island and were walking back to the village center, we passed a dirt road. I lived near it, and I’d known of the road for years but never been on it. Very occasionally, I’d met a pickup truck driving in or out of it, so I assumed that there must be a house up the road and around the bend, but I’d never investigated.
“Hey guys,” I said, “I think there’s a house up here. Let’s check it out.” Chattering and laughing, we walked up the dirt road, which was covered with fallen leaves and bordered by a stone wall on the right. About 100 yards up the road the trees formed a dark tunnel, making our walk just a bit spooky. We laughed and joked nervously in a show of bravado. We were a happy bunch and fortunately we all got along. Living on an island with a finite number of eligible friends could be a problem, but it wasn’t for us.
When we rounded the bend, we saw a typical two-story New England white house overlooking the ocean. There was a light on in an upstairs window and a couple more on the first floor.
We stood on the front steps, and I knocked on the door.
Silence. No answer.
I knocked again. Still no answer.
At last, on the third knock the porch light came on and the door opened.
“Trick-or-treat,” we all called out.
The man at the door looked confused for a minute before he asked, “Is this Halloween?”
I couldn’t imagine someone not knowing what night it was, but I answered, “Yes, sir.”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “I don’t have any treats in the house. What sort of a trick are you going to play on me?”
“Oh, that’s okay,” said Robby. “We won’t do any tricks. Maybe next year we’ll send you a reminder a few days ahead.”
We all laughed at that, and the man smiled. “I’ll try to do better next year,” he said and closed the door.
As we were returning toward the curve in the road, I looked back and noticed that someone was silhouetted at the upstairs window. I sensed that it was a kid, although I couldn’t be sure. That’s odd, I thought, I don’t know who that could be. I know all the kids on the island who are about my age.
Back home later, I explored my treasures, picking out the candies I liked best and giving the rest to my older brother. He hadn’t walked all over the island the way I had.
As I lay in bed that night waiting for sleep to come, I again wondered about the person in the window. Boy or girl? My age? Or perhaps older or younger? Even if they were older or younger, I should know who they were. After all, the island kids took the ferry over to the mainland together to go to school. Well, all the middle and high schoolers did, and I was pretty sure the person in the window was too tall to be in elementary school. I decided that I’d return to the house the next day, which was Saturday, and try to solve this little mystery.
In the late morning after I’d had breakfast, I was back on the dirt road. I often whistled as I walked, and I was doing it then. As I approached the house, I saw someone in the same window. This time the light wasn’t on behind them and I could make out some features. I still didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl, but I did know that they were close to my age and I’d never seen them before.
This time it only took two knocks on the door before the man opened it.
“You again?” he asked. I couldn’t quite make out whether he was annoyed or not. “What do you want this time?”
I told him how I’d seen the person in the window the previous night and again a few minutes ago.
“I’m quite certain the person’s about my age, but I know all the kids on the island my age. So, who is he?”
“I don’t want to talk about him.”
Well, at least now I knew the mysterious kid was a boy. “Does he have any friends? I’d like to be his friend if I could.”
“That’s not possible.”
I thought for a moment. It was clear that I wasn’t going to get past the door. “Okay,” I said, “would you please tell him that Philip came to say hello and I’d like to meet him.”
The man didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no either. He simply looked at me for a moment and then closed the door.
Dissatisfied, I walked back home pondering what to do next.
We went to church on Sunday mornings, but I had the afternoon to myself. After lunch I walked up the road again, whistling, and knocked on the house door.
In a few moments, the man opened the door. “Again?” he asked.
“I’m nothing if not persistent,” I said. “Did you deliver my message?”
“To be honest, I had to, because Xander asked me about you.”
“So can I see him?”
“I doubt it very much, but you can try.” Holding the door open, he let me in and said, “You’ll have to ask him if he’ll let you go up the stairs.”
How very odd, I thought. I stood at the bottom of the stairs and called, “Xander, it’s Philip. Can I come up?”
After a little silence, a quiet voice asked, “Will you leave when I tell you to?”
Curiouser and curiouser, I thought. Aloud I said, “Yes.”
“Okay,” he replied.
“Go slowly,” the man advised.
I climbed the stairs and went to the door of the boy’s room. I walked in and started to move towards him when he said, “Stop there.”
I stopped. I was going to ask why, but I decided I needed to let him lead.
He looked at me and I looked back. He was indeed about my size. He was slender but not skinny. His face was enchanting. Even though he wasn’t smiling, his mouth turned up a bit. His hazel eyes set off his darker complexion and his long, chestnut-brown hair. His nose turned up just a bit at the end. Damn, he’s cute, I thought.
Meanwhile, I could see him studying me as closely as I was him.
“Why did you want to see me?” he asked at last.
“Because I didn’t know you yet and I thought I might be your friend.”
He thought a moment and said, “Okay, I want you to go now.”
I was surprised. Had I said something to upset him? I didn’t think so, but I had promised I would leave when he told me to, so I turned to go.
Looking back over my shoulder I asked, “Can I come again?”
“Maybe. In a few days.”
I went back down the stairs and met the man, who I assumed was Xander’s father, in the hallway.
“You’ve accomplished a small miracle,” he said. When I looked at him quizzically, he went on, “You’re the first person, other than me and a few doctors, who he’s talked to in the last eight years.”
“Why won’t he talk to people?” I asked.
“I don’t want to go into that right now. Did he say you could return?”
I nodded, stretching Xander’s “maybe” into a “yes” in my mind.
“Okay. Then I’ll see you soon.” He opened the door and I left. As I walked, I looked back at the window, and sure enough, Xander was there. I waved and he gave me a little wave back.
On Monday as we waited for the ferry, I told my friends about Xander. They were as puzzled as I was. “I can’t imagine not talking to anyone for eight years,” Robby said.
“Yeah,” added in Mason, “but then, you have trouble keeping quiet for eight minutes, as our teachers would certainly agree.”
I waited until Wednesday before I returned to the house at the end of the dirt road. As I approached it, a woman came out, calling back through the door, “Thank you Mr. Martin.”
So now I knew their last name.
She looked at me curiously as she climbed into an old pickup truck and drove away.
Mr. Martin answered my knock. As I went to the bottom of the stairs, he said, “You need to ask him each time if you can go up.”
I nodded and called, “Xander, it’s Philip. Can I come up?”
“Okay,” he replied, so up the stairs I went.
I stopped in the doorway to his room and said, “Hi.”
“Hi,” he answered.
“Can I come in?” I asked.
Just stand there,” he said, so I stood.
“Why do you want to be my friend?” he asked.
I thought a moment before replying, “I thought you might be lonely up here, and I wanted to be able to talk with you.”
“Don’t you have any friends of your own?”
“Sure. I’m a pretty friendly guy. But you can never have too many friends. So can I be yours?”
“I’ll think about it, but I want you to go now.”
I said goodbye, turned and went back downstairs, where Mr. Martin met me. He asked what we talked about, and I told him.
“You’re right,” he said. “Xander hasn’t had any friends in years. Are you going to come again?”
“Yes,” I answered. “Probably on Saturday.”
He nodded, opened the door, and I left. It being late in the afternoon, darkness had begun to fall, and I could barely see to find my way home. I’ll have to bring a flashlight next time I come this late, I thought.
I thought about Xander during the rest of the week. He puzzled me, but his father appeared to be encouraging me. I hoped so.
On Saturday I returned to the Martin home. As usual, I stood at the bottom of the stairs and asked if I could go up. When I received permission, I went up to the door of Xander’s room.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” he responded.
“Can I come in?” I asked.
He nodded and motioned to a chair which he had apparently placed near the door for me. He sat on the bed, looking steadily at me. After a few moments, he said, “You told me last time that you wanted to be my friend. I’ve never had a friend. What does it really mean to be a friend?”
“Well,” I said, “I guess the key idea is that we accept each other, and we share. We like each other so we share our ideas, but we also share our feelings, like being sad, or happy, or angry, or excited, or any others.”
“How do you do that?”
“Mostly we do it through talking, I guess, but as we get to know each other we can often figure out what our friend is thinking by how he acts or what he says.”
“How do you feel now?” he asked.
“Happy that I’m here talking with you,” I said.
I noticed an odd expression on his face. He looked like he was suddenly very anxious.
“Okay. It’s time for you to go now,” he said.
I stood and told him I’d be back on Sunday. He nodded and I left.
When I talked with Mr. Martin and he asked me what had happened, I mentioned the anxious look Xander had. “That’s a big part of his problem,” his father said but didn’t explain.
So, he gets anxious, I thought on my way home. Who doesn’t occasionally?
I knew that there must be a shorter way to the Martin house by cutting through the woods. That way would form the hypotenuse of a triangle with the roads forming a right angle. Sunday afternoon found me walking through the woods to the Martin home. I went a little off the first time but found the house with no problem.
I went through the usual ritual of asking permission to go up, and when I received it, I walked up the stairs to Xander’s door.
“Can I come in?” I asked.
“Yes. Sit in your chair.”
Oh, I thought, he’s giving me orders and he’s assigned the chair to me. I considered saying ‘So what if I don’t?’ but I didn’t. I went in and sat in my chair.
“What did you do yesterday after you left me?” he asked.
I told him about our pick-up baseball game in a vacant lot.
“I don’t know how to play baseball,” he said.
“Maybe someday I can teach you,” I said.
After a silence he asked, “Has my father told you what my problem is?”
“No,” I replied.
“Ask him,” he said. Was that a request or another order?
“I think you should leave now,” Xander said, so I stood up, told him I’d be back on Wednesday, and went downstairs.
When I told Mr. Martin what Xander had said, he sighed and invited me into the kitchen, where he offered me a Coke. He got himself a glass of iced water and we sat at the kitchen table.
“When Xander was five,” he began, “he was in a terrible accident. His mother was driving the car and his older brother was in the seat next to her. Xander was strapped in a child’s car seat in the back.
“As they were driving down a road, an eighteen-wheeler came towards them. For some reason it veered into their path and slammed into their car straight on.
“Xander called to his mother and brother, but they didn’t answer. I imagine that they were dead. He was crying but he managed to get himself out of his car seat. He tried to open the door but apparently the accident had jammed the doorframes enough so the doors wouldn’t open.
“The front end of the car burst into flames and Xander was trapped and panicking. Fortunately, the truck driver grabbed the truck’s fire extinguisher and went to the car. Seeing Xander inside pounding on the window, the man used his extinguisher to break the glass. He hauled Xander out, put him well away from the flames, and tried to put out the fire, but before he could, the car exploded and he was killed.
“Xander sat on the edge of the road until the emergency vehicles arrived. The EMTs checked him over and could find nothing seriously wrong with him. Since he was clearly the only one who had survived the accident, they put him in the ambulance and drove him to a hospital.
“The police were able to trace the car through its license plate and called me.
“When I got to the hospital, Xander had been X-rayed and pronounced physically okay, but he was catatonic.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” I said interrupting him. “I don’t know what that means.”
“Well, when I went into his room, he was staring at the wall, his body was rigid, and he couldn’t or wouldn’t talk. I sat with him, holding his hand. The only reaction I saw was that tears began to flow out of his eyes.”
Oh, dear, I thought.
“Over the next days and weeks, the doctors treated his condition with a sedative which often works in such cases. Slowly, his body began to relax, and I could see his eyes moving around the room, but he still didn’t speak.
“When he was finally eating by having food spooned into his mouth, the doctors decided they couldn’t do anything more for him and sent him home, where I continued to follow the prescribed treatment.
Xander refused to get in the car, so finally a doctor sedated him, and he rode in an ambulance.
“For a long time, he didn’t talk. I spent hours sitting with him and holding his hand.
“At last he began to talk, single words at first, like ‘water’, or ‘hungry’, or ‘pee pee’. Over time, he improved, but he had frequent panic attacks. He would suddenly become very afraid, often when there didn’t appear to be anything to fear. I wanted to take him to a psychologist, but he wouldn’t get in the car, so I paid a psychologist to come to the house. I’m afraid it didn’t help much.
“Meanwhile, I decided that we could no longer live in our house; it had too many painful memories. I looked for one that was rather remote where we wouldn’t be bothered. I found this house and bought it. Then I had the problem of how to transport Xander here. I finally convinced his doctors to give him a sedative again and he rode in an ambulance.
“And here we are, eight years later. He’s definitely better than he was, but he still has frequent debilitating anxiety attacks. These happen especially when he feels that something is not in his control. That’s why you have to ask him for permission to see him, and it’s why he tells you when he wants you to go. He might not really want that, but he feels an attack coming on, and asking you to leave is his way of exerting control.”
“Oh, my,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you, but don’t ever say that to Xander. It will remind him of the accident and he’ll probably regress.”
“That’s a lot to think about,” I said.
“Yes, but you seem to be making some progress with him, certainly more than the psychologist did. I think it’s because you are very calm and accepting and you’re doing what he asks you to do.”
I thanked Mr. Martin for the information and left for home.
In the ensuing days, I realized that I had taken on a huge responsibility. I talked with my parents about it. My mother wanted me to stop visiting the Martins. My father said that if I did, I’d probably feel very guilty about letting Xander down. At last they agreed that I could go if it didn’t depress me too much.
So, on Wednesday, I walked through the woods to Xander’s house. When Mr. Martin opened the door, I put my flashlight on the hall table, received permission, and went upstairs. Again, Xander told me to sit in my chair.
He looked at me for a moment and then asked if his father had told me what had happened. It was the nearest I ever heard him come to mentioning the accident. I told him that he had.
“What did you think?” he asked.
That was a hard one. I couldn’t say I was sorry. I couldn’t really say that I understood, because there was a lot in his story to comprehend that I really hadn’t digested yet.
At last I said, “He helped me to understand some things but nothing changed me from wanting to be your friend.”
He nodded and smiled a little.
For once I took the initiative, asking, “Xander, do you ever leave this room?”
He looked for a moment like he was going to panic, but he got hold of himself and said, “I go downstairs to eat with my father when Janet isn’t here.”
“Is Janet the woman I saw leaving here one afternoon?”
He nodded. “She cleans and does the laundry and fixes suppers for us. I clean my own room and bathroom. I don’t ever go near her or talk with her. That would scare me.”
On Saturday I returned once again to Xander’s room. I sat in the chair and asked him if he ever went outside.
“No,” he answered.
“But do things always need to be in your control? If you sat out in your backyard, what would be scary?”
He thought a minute and then said, “I don’t know. Maybe nothing. I’ll have to think about it more.”
“How do you get away with not going to school?” I asked. “I thought the law said you had to.”
“My father homeschools me. It’s all arranged with the school district superintendent.”
Before I left, he said, “Father and I want you to come to dinner.”
I thought that was a huge step for him, so I agreed. Mr. Martin and I set the date for the next day, Sunday, after I got home from church.
When I arrived, Xander was downstairs playing with some cards.
We sat at the kitchen table and Mr. Martin served spaghetti and meatballs. I said it was one of my favorites and Xander agreed it was his favorite too.
We talked during the meal, although Mr. Martin and I did most of the talking. When we finished, Xander invited me back to his room. As I sat in my chair, I was struck by an odor which I had detected before in his room.
“Xander,” I asked, “can I ask you a personal question?”
He looked uncertain how to answer for a minute but then replied, “You can, but I might not answer it.”
Taking the bull by the horns, I asked, “How long have you been jerking off?”
He looked puzzled and asked me what the word meant.
“You know,” I said, making a pumping motion with my hand near my crotch.
Immediately, anxiety overcame him, and he told me to leave. I did, but on the way out I said, “You don’t need to be afraid, Xander. All boys our age do it.”
When Robby and I were on the ferry to school Monday morning, I told him how I’d asked Xander about jerking off and how he’d begun to panic.
“Of course he did,” said Robby. “That’s a pretty private thing to bring up.”
“Yeah,” I said, “and it was stupid. It’s just that I smelled spunk in his room and impulsively asked it.”
“Will he ever let you go back?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t say I couldn’t. I hope he’ll let me back.”
Wednesday afternoon, I made my way back through the woods wondering what my reception would be. But when I stood at the bottom of the stairs and asked if I could go up, Xander said yes.
In his room, I sat in my chair and said rather hesitantly, “Hi.”
“Hi,” he responded.
“Are you mad at me for asking that question?” I asked.
“No, but I really panicked when you asked.”
“I’m sorry. I was impulsive and didn’t think it through.”
He nodded and was silent for a bit before he asked, “Is it true that all boys do it?”
“Yes. I think all boys our age and older do,” I said, hoping that was true.
“How did you know I did?”
“Frankly, I smelled your spunk.”
He looked puzzled and asked, “What’s spunk?”
“It’s what shoots out of your cock when you jerk off.”
“Is my cock my penis?”
“I never heard that word before. Can you tell me what spunk is for? What does it do?”
Oh my, I thought, he really doesn’t know anything. “It’s the male’s part of what makes a baby,” I said.
“Oh. I don’t know how that works.”
“I think you’d better ask your father,” I said, trying to weasel out of my predicament.
“I can’t,” he said.
“Really, you can. He was a boy once and he will certainly understand.” Xander didn’t say anything. “Do you want me to mention it to him?”
Xander paused and then nodded hesitantly.
Later, when I met Mr. Martin downstairs, I told him that I thought Xander needed to be told about sex.
He sighed before asking, “Why do you think so?”
I didn’t want to give away the whole conversation, so I just said, “He’s beginning to ask questions, but he’s unwilling to ask you.”
He nodded and said he’d “have the talk”.
The next time I saw Xander, he said, “You told my father, didn’t you?”
“Thank you. I couldn’t ask him about sex, but he talked with me. He was very kind and assured me that my questions were perfectly normal. He also said I could ask him questions any time.”
I was pleased that things had worked out well.
In the weeks that followed, Xander and I talked more and more. I realized at one point that he was no longer telling me when to leave.
One day, as I was sitting in my chair, he said, “Come here.”
Yet another order, I thought, but I walked over to him.
He stood facing me and asked, “Can I touch you?”
Is this a big step for him? I wondered. When I nodded, he reached out and touched my arm, gently. Then he took my hand.
“Your hand’s warm,” he said. He turned it over, looking at the palm, and then he said, “You can touch me if you want.”
I reached out and took his other hand. There we stood, holding hands.
“I like this,” he said, smiling. Then he pulled me to him and hugged me.
I was surprised, but certainly not displeased. I hugged him back, holding the hug as he got used to it.
“This feels good,” he said.
I nodded and said, “It’s something that friends sometimes do.”
“What else do friends do?”
“Well, sometimes we put an arm around our friend’s shoulder.”
“Like this?” he asked, moving his arm up to my shoulder.
I nodded. I hoped he didn’t ask for more details because I couldn’t immediately think of what else friends did unless they were gay, and I certainly didn’t want to go there. Fortunately, he didn’t, so we stood with our arms around each other’s shoulders as he got used to the feeling.
The next time I visited him, he met me at the door and gave me a hug, which I returned. He smiled and said, “I’m glad you came.” Progress was being made.
Christmas was coming, and I wondered what I could give Xander as a present. I wanted something that he would like but wasn’t too expensive. I didn’t have that much money and I didn’t want to embarrass him. I thought about asking his father, but I really wanted to do this on my own.
I had observed that Xander had shelves of books, but we hadn’t talked about them much, so I wasn’t sure what he liked. I finally got him the first two Harry Potter books, hoping the scary parts wouldn’t freak him out.
In the afternoon of December 24, I went through the woods to his house carrying my wrapped gift. He came downstairs when I arrived and hugged me. I hugged him back and handed him the gift.
Looking crestfallen, he said, “But I don’t have anything for you.”
“I’m not giving you a present because I expect one back,” I said. “I’m giving you this as a celebration of how far you’ve come since I first met you.”
He looked as though he didn’t really buy that idea, but at my urging he went into the living room, sat, and removed the wrappings. Holding up the two books, he read the titles aloud.
“Those are two of my favorite books,” I said. “Have you read them?”
“No, I’ve never even heard of them before.” He stood, walked to where I was sitting and hugged me, saying, “Thank you so much, Philip.”
“You’re very welcome,” I said hugging him back. “When you’ve read them, we can talk about them together.”
That got us into a discussion of books we had read. We each had some which the other didn’t know and we agreed to share. We went upstairs and he gave me two to read.
Through the following months, I visited as often as I could. Sometimes, snow or schoolwork prevented me from going. Once Xander said he worried about me when I didn’t visit him, so from then on I called his father when I couldn’t go to their house.
Xander had become a hugger. Whenever we were together, he hugged me. One day he asked, “Why is it that when we hug my penis gets hard and I feel excited?”
Oh, my, I thought, and wondered if he could feel my hard cock too.
“I guess it’s just something that happens to boys our age when we hug,” I said. “Does it bother you?”
“No,” he said. “Actually I rather like it.”
We said no more about it that day, but the next time we were together, we hugged once again. Then Xander, looking anxious, leaned in and gave me a quick kiss on my mouth. It was the first time I’d ever been kissed on the lips, and at first I was startled, but then I realized I liked the soft feel of his lips on mine.
He pulled back hastily and asked, “Are you mad at me?”
“No,” I replied, “I was just startled. Did you like doing that?”
With no more conversation, I pulled his head to mine and kissed him firmly on his lips. At first he was a little tense, but then he relaxed and we held the kiss for what seemed like many minutes but was probably only one or two.
When we pulled back, he asked, “Are boys allowed to kiss like that?”
“Well, some people would be upset if they saw us, but others would not. I believe that if you really like someone and you want to kiss them, it’s okay, no matter whether it’s a boy and a girl, two boys, or two girls. The important thing is that you’re expressing your feelings to your partner.”
“What do you think my father would say?”
“I have no idea, but I don’t think you should tell him for a while.”
“But that would be dishonest.”
“No, dishonest would be if he asked you whether you kissed a boy and you said you didn’t.”
He thought about that for a bit and then nodded. “Okay, so we’ll say nothing.”
“Right, I said, “and we make sure to do it only when there’s nobody else around.”
In late April, I was walking through the woods to the house and enjoying the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the trees which were leafing out. Okay, I said to myself, today’s the day.
When I was in Xander’s room and we’d hugged and kissed, I said, “Come with me.”
“Just follow me and you’ll see.”
He took my hand and walked with me down the stairs and through the kitchen to the back door. I put my arm around his shoulder and said, “It’s a beautiful day, and we’re going to go outside and enjoy it.”
“I can’t,” he said, looking alarmed.
“Xander, you can do this. There’s absolutely nothing out there to harm you. I’ll be with you all the time and, if necessary, I’ll protect you. Do you trust me?”
“I don’t know,” he answered.
“I’m going to open the door and we’ll just stand here for a moment.”
I could see him trying to decide whether to trust me and go out or to run back upstairs. Still with my arm on his shoulder, I reached out and opened the door. The wonderful scents of spring wafted to us. I could feel him shaking, but then he said, “That’s nice.”
I took his hand gently and said, “Come,” as I moved to the doorway. He held back a moment but then he moved hesitantly forward. Soon, we were standing on the back porch, still holding hands. I suggested that we sit on the steps. We sat side by side, arms around each other’s shoulders.
I watched him look around at his backyard, at the trees and the plants, including some early-blossoming flowers. I felt his arm give my shoulder a little hug and I hugged him back.
We sat in silence for a while before I asked, “How are you?”
“Okay,” he answered. “Why was I afraid to do this?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Is it scary now?”
He shook his head.
I stood up, holding his hand, and said, “Come.”
“Just around the yard.” Again he was hesitant and held back a little, but slowly he walked with me as we circled the yard.
I looked back at the house and could see Mr. Martin watching us through the backdoor.
“I think I want to go back in now,” Xander said.
“Fine,” I agreed, and we headed to the door.
In the kitchen the three of us sat at the table and talked. I could see that Xander was very pleased with himself, and his father and I both smiled.
“Can we do that again?” Xander asked.
“Absolutely, if the weather’s good,” I replied.
When it was time for me to leave, Xander and his father both hugged me and both said, “Thank you.” I almost floated home.
The next time I was with Xander in his room, as we hugged and kissed, I pulled up the bottom of his T shirt and began gently rubbing his back.
“Oh my,” he said when we broke the kiss, “that feels wonderful.” Then, as we kissed again, he did the same for me. Soon we were without our T- shirts and hugging skin to skin. Again, this was a first for me, and I was happy that he enjoyed it, too.
In the following days, going very gradually, I managed to get Xander to stay outdoors longer, first in the backyard and later as we walked down the road to the bend.
One day he asked, “Is this the way you come?”
“It used to be, but now I come through the woods because it’s shorter.”
“Isn’t that scary?”
“No. There’s nothing to be afraid of in these woods,” I replied. “There are no big animals. The path is clear and there’s no way to get lost, and even if I did, the woods aren’t very big so I could just keep walking until I came out somewhere I knew.”
The next time we were together, I said, “I want you to come to my house and see where I live.”
“You want me to walk through the woods?”
“Yes, but you won’t be alone, and I’ll take care of you.”
I had hoped that by then he had learned to trust me, and it seemed that he had. We told his father where we were going. Xander took my hand, and I could feel him trembling, but he walked with me through the woods to my house. As we walked, he looked around and said, “This is almost like magic.” As I introduced him to my mother and father, he was almost rigid, but he got through it. When I took him to my room, he looked it over carefully, taking special notice of my books.
We sat on the bed and I asked, “How are you?”
“Good,” he answered. “I can’t believe I did that.”
After that, we walked every time I visited unless it was raining. I began to extend the walks, and soon we were going all the way to the village. It took some persuading to get him to go into any of the shops. The first one we went in was the drugstore, which still had a soda fountain. We sat on stools and drank milkshakes.
The next time we were alone in his room, we went through the ritual of hugging, kissing, and then removing the T shirts. I knew he was hard, and I was too. I slowly kissed his chest, tonguing his nipples. When I got to his belt, I knelt in front of him, opened his fly, and pulled out his hard, circumcised sex. He moaned but didn’t tell me to stop, so I slowly moved my head down and licked the tip of his cock. Again he moaned. I licked all up and down his cock, giving special attention to the sensitive area just below its head.
I knew it wouldn’t be long, and suddenly he said, “I’m gonna shoot.”
“Go ahead,” I said, and almost immediately my mouth was full of his warm, tasty juice. He shot several times. When he finished, I swallowed his spunk and then cleaned off his cock with my tongue.
When I stood I asked, “How did you like that?”
“It was a thousand times better than doing it myself,” he said, grinning. “I bet this is something else I shouldn’t share with Father right now.”
“Correct.” I said, grinning back.
“Do you want me to do it to you?” he asked.
“Maybe next time,” I said. “Let’s go for a walk.”
I knew I was gay and had known for some time, but I didn’t know about Xander. Was he seeing what we did as male sex or only as an extension of what he’d been doing with his hand? I decided I really needed to find an answer to that question before I encouraged him to go farther.
One day, I brought Robby to the Martin home with me. When we entered the house together, Xander took one look and began to shake.
“Let’s go out on the back porch,” I suggested.
Sitting on the steps, the three of us talked. At first, Xander was very hesitant, but he finally began to relax and join the conversation.
At one point, Robby asked him, “Do you think you might go to school this fall?”
“Oh, no, I could never do that.”
“Well, I don’t know anybody there.”
“You know me and Philip,” said Robby. “You could ride with us on the bus, and we’d introduce you to everyone.”
“The bus? You ride on a bus? I could never, ever do that.”
Oh dear, I thought, I’d forgotten about the bus.
Aloud I said, “Maybe someday you’ll be able to. After all, If I’d suggested a month ago that we walk through the woods or walk to town, you would have said that you couldn’t do it, but you can.”
“Yeah, but riding in a car or my father’s truck or a bus is totally different.” By then he was shaking.
“I understand,” I said quietly, “and it’s not something that we’ll even think about again for a long time.”
Slowly, he began to calm down.
“I’m sorry, Xander, I didn’t mean to upset you,” said Robby.
“That’s okay, I know you didn’t. It’s just that every time I think about riding, I remember the accident, and I get really scared.”
School began in the fall, and I was officially in high school. On a Friday afternoon, just after I’d arrived home from school, my phone rang. Caller ID told me it was from the Martins.
When I first answered, I could hear Xander crying. “What’s wrong, Xander?” I asked, but I guessed he didn’t hear me.
Telling Mom that Xander had some sort of problem, I hurried through the woods to his house. He was standing outside, and his father was lying awkwardly on the ground.
Xander rushed to me and gave me a hug.
“What’s happened?” I asked, hurrying over to his father, who lay motionless.
Kneeling down beside him, I asked Mr. Martin if he could hear me. I got no response. At once I called Mom and told her what I’d found. She said she’d be right over in the car.
By the time she arrived, Mr. Martin was beginning to moan. I told him Mom was on the way.
While we waited, Xander told me that his father had been cleaning out the rain gutters on the house and must have fallen off the ladder.
Mom pulled up and got out of the car. She knelt beside Mr. Martin and asked him what hurt.
“My leg and my back and my head,” he moaned.
Immediately, she called for an ambulance. Fortunately, we had one on the island as well as a single EMT.
We waited for the ambulance, Mom saying that it looked like Mr. Martin had broken his leg.
Soon, we heard the siren in the distance. We followed its progress by the sound it was making and heard it pull into the dirt road before it emerged around the bend.
The EMT said he’d already called the ferry to be prepared for a trip from the island. He bent down and looked at Xander’s father. Then he got a board out of the ambulance. Warning that it was going to hurt, he and the ambulance driver, who was an off-duty fireman, lifted Mr. Martin as gently as they could and laid him on the board, securing him with straps. Then they lifted the board and placed it on a gurney which they proceeded to load into the ambulance.
They had said that we could cross on the ferry with the ambulance, so Mom got into her car and urged us to get in.
“I can’t,” said Xander.
“You can and you will,” I said. “If you don’t do it right now, I’ll lift you bodily and throw you in. This is your father we’re talking about. This is not about you.”
Xander looked at me for just a moment, then, trembling, he climbed into the backseat, and I climbed in next to him, helping him with his seatbelt.
Mom drove as fast as she dared, and when we arrived at the landing, the ambulance had just driven onto the ferry. Mom followed, and soon we were moving across the water between the island and the mainland.
At the far side, the ambulance and Mom both drove off and headed to the hospital. The ambulance siren was going, and Mom followed along right behind so she couldn’t get cut off by another car.
I looked at Xander a few times. At first he looked panicked, but as we rode, he began to calm down. I noticed, however, that he was looking down at the seat in front of him, not out the windows.
Mom parked the car, and we went into the emergency room. We were told that Mr. Martin was in the examining area, and we’d have to wait. Meanwhile, we were asked if we were related to him. “I am,” said Xander quietly. He was given some forms to fill out. When he was unsure of an answer, we tried to help him. He returned the form to the desk and we sat waiting… and waiting… and waiting.
As we sat there, Xander suddenly giggled.
“What’s funny?” I asked.
“I was trying to imagine you throwing me into the car. You know you’re not big enough to have done that.”
“I know,” I laughed, “but what I said worked, didn’t it?”
At last, a doctor came out and asked if we were with Mr. Martin. He took us into a conference room where we all sat.
“He’s got a pretty bad concussion,” the doctor began. “His leg is definitely broken and he’s having it X-rayed right now. I’m concerned about his back, which he said was very painful, so we’ll do some imaging of that too.”
He looked at Mom and asked, “Are you his wife?”
She explained that we were neighbors and the only person related to him was Xander.
He thought a moment, and then said, “When we’ve got all the pictures we want, we’ll bring him back here to the emergency center where you can visit him for a few minutes before we take him to surgery.”
“Is that for his leg?” I asked.
“Yes, and possibly his back.”
I didn’t think that sounded good to any of us. The doctor left and again we waited.
At last, a nurse came out, asked for us, and said we could see Mr. Martin for a very few minutes. “He’s pretty heavily sedated,” the nurse said, “so he may not respond at all. Don’t be disappointed. Once the sedation wears off, he’ll be able to talk with you, but not tonight.”
We went into the cubicle where Xander’s father was. He was lying on a gurney, moaning a little. At our suggestion, Xander went close to him and said, “Father, can you hear me?”
Xander tried three times with the same results. The doctor came in and said they were going to move him to an operating room.
“I see on the form you filled out, Xander, that you listed your phone number. Is that a cell phone?”
“Yes, sir. It’s actually my father’s.”
“Well, this surgery is going to take a while, so I suggest you go home and get some sleep. When he’s out of surgery and I know something, I’ll give you a call.”
Xander thanked the doctor, and we left for home. On the way home, Xander again stared at the seat in front of him. He was anxious, but I couldn’t tell whether it was because he was riding in a car or because he was worried about his father. Perhaps it was both.
We had to wait for the ferry to carry us across. While we sat, Mom said, “Xander, when we get to your house, I want you to pack up some clothes for a few days so you can stay at our place. You shouldn’t be alone right now.”
Xander nodded and thanked her.
I wondered where he would sleep. We didn’t have a guest bedroom. There were three in the house. I had one, my parents had one, and the third was their office.
As though reading my thoughts, Mom asked, “Phil, do you think you can share your bed with Xander for a few days?”
Xander and I looked at each other. He smiled a little and I grinned.
“I’m sure we can manage, Mom,” I said.
At Xander’s house, I went in to help him. He found an old suitcase in his father’s closet and filled it with everything he thought he’d need, although I had to remind him about toiletries.
Before we left the house, Xander went to the kitchen and took the casserole which Janet had left for the Martins’ supper. He wrote her a note, telling her what had happened and where he was. Then we took the casserole and the suitcase out to the car.
In my house, I went with Xander up to my bedroom and helped him distribute the things he’d packed. I noticed that he had brought some pajamas. Darn, I thought.
The casserole proved to be plenty for the four of us, so when Dad got home, we dug in as we told him what had happened. The casserole was good, and Mom produced some ice cream and cookies for dessert.
We visited for a while, but both Xander and I were tired, so we went upstairs to get ready for bed.
As we walked into my room, Xander’s phone rang. He answered, then listened for a bit before saying, “Thank you,” and hung up.
There was a knock on my door and when I answered, Mom was there asking if Xander had heard from the hospital.
“Yes,” he said. “The doctor told me that both of the bones in my father’s lower leg were broken. He said that they put in a metal plate to hold his tibia together. The good news is that there doesn’t seem to be any real damage to Father’s back or head. They’ll be treating him for muscle spasms to see if that helps him, and they’ll keep watch to be sure there are no aftereffects from the concussion. They’re going to keep him in the hospital for a few days, partly so he can recover from the surgery and partly to give him time to recover from the concussion, but for now, everything seems okay.”
As Mom left, Xander and I continued to get ready for bed. He took his pajamas and toiletries into the bathroom while I undressed and put on a pair of pajamas. I didn’t usually wear them anymore, but I decided it would be better while he was with me. While I was eager to pursue our sexual experimentation, I thought that this wouldn’t be the time.
We settled into bed, back-to-back. I must admit I was pretty horny, but I managed to control myself, and soon we were both asleep.
In the morning, Xander was already up and dressed when I woke up. He told me he’d taken a shower, so when he went downstairs, I took mine and dressed.
At breakfast, my parents and I chatted. Xander was quiet unless he was asked a question. I knew his moods and understood that he was simply thinking.
Mom drove us to the hospital after breakfast. We arrived just as visiting hours were beginning. We got directions to Mr. Martin’s room, rode the elevator up to the fifth floor, and went in. He was lying on his back. His breakfast tray was still there, and it didn’t appear that he’d eaten anything.
He looked at us and was puzzled for a moment because he’d never met Mom. I introduced them and he thanked her for bringing Xander. He didn’t seem to have a memory of what had happened after his fall, so Xander and I filled him in.
Then Xander asked, “Did you eat any breakfast?”
“I’m not hungry,” he replied.
“But you have to eat to keep up your strength. C’mon, I’ll help you.”
Mr. Martin sighed, raised his bed some, and Xander began spooning in cereal and handing orange juice to him.
“This reminds me of when I was five and you fed me,” said Xander.
His father protested with each bite, but Xander cajoled him into eating, bite by bite. He was as patient as his father was impatient. His father asked him two or three times to stop, but Xander wouldn’t let up until all the food was gone.
We stayed for a little while and then deciding that he needed to rest, Xander told him we’d be back later. We went down to the cafeteria and had an early lunch. I told Xander I thought he’d done a wonderful job getting his father to eat.
“Thanks. The trouble is, I won’t always be here, and if he doesn’t eat, they won’t release him from the hospital.”
We returned to Mr. Martin’s room at noon, and Xander helped his father eat lunch.
When Mom decided we should leave to give Mr. Martin time to rest, he held Xander’s hand for a minute and simply said, “Thank you.”
“We’ll be back tomorrow,” Xander promised, and we left.
We returned on Sunday and found Mr. Martin sitting up in bed, drinking some juice. As we talked, he seemed to be more alert than he was on Saturday. Perhaps the doctors had cut back on his pain medications. At one point he smiled and said, “I guess it’s lucky I broke my leg. I could just as well have broken my damn fool neck.”
Driving home later, I observed that Xander was more relaxed in the car. Could curing him of his anxiety really have been that simple? I had no idea, but he was certainly a changed individual from the boy I first met in his bedroom, nearly a year earlier.
On Monday, much to my regret, I had to return to school, so Xander and Mom visited Mr. Martin alone. That continued to be the pattern through the week. When I saw Xander at my home after school on Friday, he said that his father would be released from the hospital the next day.
So far, Xander and I had spent each night in bed fully dressed in pajamas. I had taken to jerking off while I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and I wondered if Xander was doing the same. I couldn’t imagine going that long without some relief.
Friday night, I decided to change the pattern. I went into the bathroom first, performed my ablutions without jerking off, and returned to the bedroom.
When Xander returned from the bathroom, he found me standing completely naked. At first he looked surprised and anxious, but as we looked at each other, he began to relax.
“Come here,” I said. He came forward and I hugged and kissed him. I began to unbutton his pajama top. He didn’t resist. When I had it off, I pulled him to me and kissed him gently on the lips before tonguing him. As we kissed, I ran my hands gently over his back and then over his chest.
Standing back a little, I pulled down his pajama bottoms until he stood, like me, naked.
Taking his hand, I said, “Come,” led him to the bed, and had him lie down. His cock, like mine, was so hard it was pulsing.
Without a word, I leaned over him resuming my kiss before licking my way down his chest. I stopped momentarily at his nipples, tweaking them with my tongue before moving down to his stomach and finally his cock. Slowly, I licked it and then took his balls in my mouth and rolled them around gently. Nobody had taught me how to do this. I was simply doing what felt right and natural.
Returning to his cock, I ran my tongue up and down it before taking it in my mouth. Moving up and down his cock, I gave special attention to the sensitive spot right below its head.
It takes longer to tell this than it did for me to get Xander to the point of no return. He shot into my mouth several times. I nearly gagged on his juice, but I held on and swallowed the cum in my mouth.
When I’d finished, I moved up beside him and kissed him once again. Without saying anything, he gently pushed me onto my back and began the same ministrations I had performed on him. The results were incredible ─ so much better than my hand jobs.
We lay for a few moments, side by side, skin to skin. Then we rolled facing each other and went to sleep.
In the middle of the night, I awoke and began to rub Xander’s back again. Soon we were both awake and rampant. The second time we brought each other off we were able to prolong the process some, which felt even better.
Xander woke me about six in the morning. Once again we brought each other off before going into the bathroom, where for the first time we showered together. Unbelievably, we grew hard but decided that if we had sex again, we might not be able to make it downstairs to breakfast. Even so, I felt a little nauseous as I ate, and Mom asked me if I was sick. “No,” I replied as I could see Xander grinning, “I guess I’m just a little tired.”
The three of us drove to the hospital, and after the doctors had given Mr. Martin his instructions and his medications he was signed out and we took him home.
Xander and I helped him into and out of the car and into the house. He said he’d probably sleep on the living room couch rather than trying to get up and down the stairs with his cast and crutches.
“Won’t that bother your back? Xander asked.
“I guess we’ll just have to see,” his father responded.
Xander went upstairs, brought down a pillow and blankets, and we made him as comfortable as we could.
I knew it was time for me to leave and let the two of them work out their arrangements. Xander and I stepped out on the porch. I turned facing him and hugged and kissed him. Neither one of us wanted to part, but we knew it was necessary. I promised I would visit every day, and Xander made me swear to it. Reluctantly, I left and walked through the woods to my house.
As I lay in bed that night, I puzzled over my relationship with Xander. Did I love him? I had certainly enjoyed what we had done the night before, but was that love or simply sex? In truth, I didn’t really think I loved him. Oh, I loved him as a friend, but probably not as a boyfriend. I’d certainly enjoyed the sex, and I was certainly gay, but love didn’t seem to be a part of our relationship. It was simply two teen boys getting their rocks off. I wondered how he felt. I still didn’t know whether Xander was gay or straight. How could I find out? He probably wouldn’t even know what I was talking about.
After church on Sunday, I went to the Martin house, where I found both Xander and his father in the living room playing a lively game of chess. As I watched I realized they were quite evenly matched. It wasn’t a game that I played. When Mr. Martin won the game and suggested I play with Xander, I told him I didn’t know how. Thereupon, Xander insisted on teaching me. Well, I learned how the players could move but not any strategy. Xander ran upstairs and came down with a book about chess and suggested that I read it.
As the weeks passed, Mr. Martin seemed to be feeling okay. His leg had moved from the painful stage to the itching one. He kept a ruler beside him so he could reach down into his cast and scratch some of the itches, but he couldn’t get to all of them.
One day I decided to ask Xander a threatening question. “Xander, now that you’ve ridden in our car, do you think you might be ready to ride the bus to school?”
“I’ve been thinking about that,” he said, “and perhaps eventually I will, but for now I have to stay here to take care of Father.”
I told him I understood but encouraged him to keep thinking about it.
After that, I began bringing boys, one at a time, to the Martin home. Xander had already met Robby, but I wanted him to meet the other boys our age on the island. The first visits, Xander was clearly anxious, but as we got into a routine, and my friends began to make return trips to his home, he started to relax.
At the end of six weeks, Mom drove Mr. Martin back to the hospital to have his leg X-rayed and his cast changed. Xander and I were very grateful for that, because by then his cast stank. He was told that in about four more weeks, he could probably do without a cast, although he’d continue to be on crutches for a while.
Shortly before Christmas, Xander gave me the big news. He and his father had decided that he should try going to school. He pointed out that it was fortunate he had met all the boys from the island who were in his grade. In a way, another fortunate thing was that Mr. Martin had broken his left leg, so he could still drive his car with the automatic transmission.
A few days later, Xander and his father drove to the high school. When they went in the door, students were passing between classes, and Xander later reported to me that he was very tense.
Xander said that his father had phoned the school office the day before and had been told that Xander would need to take some placement tests. They were met in the office by a friendly young lady who was to give him the tests. Xander went with her, shaking as they walked. He said that she had noticed the anxiety and asked him if he was okay.
“I think I will be once we get to work,” he had said hopefully.
The testing took place in a small office. The lady asked him which subject he was most comfortable with. He told her he was best at math, so he did that test first. Once he saw it and knew he could do it, his anxiety decreased. Later he took a reading test and a history test. When they got to science, he admitted that he didn’t have much background for that, but he tried to do his best.
When he finished, Xander said, he waited a little for the lady to score his tests and then they returned to the office, where they met Mr. Martin and the assistant principal. The man looked over Xander’s test scores, nodded, and said that he thought Xander would do fine in the ninth grade. Xander said later that he was very happy because he’d be in the same grade I was in. Xander would enter the school right after New Year’s Day.
At Christmas time, Xander and I exchanged small gifts. In the following week, we talked a lot about school and what he could expect.
The first day of school after the vacation, I went early to the Martin house and walked Xander through the woods and to the ferry landing. I knew he was anxious, and I kept assuring him that he would be fine.
When we arrived at the landing, we were greeted by several others, mostly the boys who already knew Xander. I could see him gazing at some of the girls.
He continued to size them up as we rode the ferry. On the bus, Xander and I sat together. He said to me very quietly, “Oh my, I realized today that I hadn’t seen a girl my own age since I was five. They certainly have changed a lot.”
He grinned and we both giggled. I wondered if his reaction might mean that he was straight, but I didn’t say anything.
Xander continued to be anxious as we entered the school. We stopped in the office to get his schedule and locker number before we went to his locker. From there I took him to his homeroom. I introduced him to the teacher and told Xander that I’d pick him up at the end of home room and take him to his first class.
I continued to escort him through the day. Fortunately, we had the same lunch period, and we ate at a table with the boys he knew. He was subdued but did answer any questions directed at him.
On the bus that afternoon, Xander couldn’t stop talking about the day, which he’d enjoyed once he was able to relax.
When we parted at his house, Xander said that I didn’t need to escort him to the landing in the morning. He’d meet me there.
True to his word, Xander was at the landing when I arrived the next day. Not only that, he was chatting up one of the girls, Maryellen Wilson. He looked over, waved to me, and turned back to her. On the bus, I saved a seat for him, but he went to sit with Maryellen. Hmm, I thought, I wonder if this answers the question of whether he’s straight or not. Our sex together had certainly diminished.
Throughout the spring, while he certainly talked to me, he spent most of his time with Maryellen. When I went to his house, I often found him on the phone with her. it was clear to me where his interests lay. Shortly after the April vacation, I saw the two of them in a school corridor, locked in a long kiss.
Okay, that definitely answered it, I thought. I guessed I’d need to keep looking. I wasn’t hurt or anything, and I still loved him as a friend, but it was obvious that he was very attracted to Maryellen.
In May, the school held a series of Spring Socials. While there was music and dancing, the events weren’t called dances because the powers-that-be didn’t want kids to feel they had to dance to have a good time.
Our social was a combined one for the ninth and tenth grades. At first, I’d thought I wouldn’t go. I had nobody to go with and I didn’t really want to be alone. But my parents persuaded me that I should attend, so on a Saturday night in May, I found myself dressed in my good clothes in the front seat of Mr. Martin’s car while Xander and Maryellen sat in the back. I felt very awkward, but Mr. Martin’s chatting with me helped.
At the school, the three of us went into the gym, which had been decorated for the occasion. There was a large table with refreshments and a bowl of punch. Kids were standing around talking with each other, and I joined my usual group of boys.
When the music started, all my friends paired up with girls and began dancing. I stood near the refreshment table, watching.
At one point in the evening, Xander and Maryellen came by and asked why I wasn’t dancing. “I don’t have a date,” I replied.
Maryellen graciously invited me to dance with her, which I did. The music was fast and modern, and everybody danced without touching.
When the dance was over, I thanked her and returned her to Xander. I took up my position near the table and continued to watch.
As I stood there, I became aware of someone standing beside me. I looked up and had no idea who he was. He wasn’t in my grade, and he didn’t live on the island.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” I answered.
“I’m Harvey Detweiler.”
As I introduced myself to him, my stomach did a little flip. He wasn’t classically beautiful, but he was definitely good looking; perhaps ‘cute’ would be the right word.
We stood at the table talking for the next half hour. I noticed that during the faster dances, there were boys dancing with boys and girls with girls.
At last he asked, “Wanna dance?”
It was another up-tempo dance which required no touching, so I felt safe in agreeing. Out on the floor, we bopped around, moving our arms and legs to the music and simply enjoying the physical activity. I realized at one point that I was grinning.
When the dance ended, we went on to another… and then another.
Suddenly, it was nearly eleven o’clock, when the social would end. The lights dimmed, and a quiet, dreamy song began to play.
I started back to the table, but Harvey grabbed me gently and pulled me to him. At first I was uncomfortable, but as we held each other and swayed quietly, I began to enjoy it.
There were two slow dances in a row and we danced both of them. At the end of the second one, Harvey leaned into me and kissed me gently on my lips. My body immediately responded, and we stood holding each other closely and enjoying the kiss which became increasingly passionate.
As the lights came up slowly, we broke our hold, neither of us wanting to be obvious. Harvey looked at me and said, “I’ve been watching you for a long time. I finally decided to take the chance that you might be… like me. Are you?”
“Yeah,” I responded almost in a whisper.
Harvey reached in his pocket and took out a three by five file card. Handing it to me, he said, “This is my contact information. Give me a call.”
Suddenly, all was right with the world. I went home glowing. After Xander went with Maryellen to her door and kissed her briefly, he returned to the car, looked at me, and said, “I hope it turns out really well for you.”
I thanked him and went home to bed, dreaming of Harvey and a glorious future.
As always, I want to thank my three fine editors for all their help and Mike for maintaining the website.