I’d figured it would take maybe a week before the school reported my absence to the police and then maybe another week before someone actually went to the house to investigate, and then all hell would break loose. It didn’t occur to me until much later that the school district probably didn’t even have a valid address on file. Dad always picked the mail up at the post office, and I’d even gone in with him and watched him open our mailbox with a key. Knowing the cheapskate my old man was, he wouldn’t have subscribed to a post-office box unless we couldn’t get mail at home. Realizing that we’d probably been squatters in an abandoned house, it was likely that we didn’t even have an address at all. Dad had to use something in the way of an address to register me at school, to collect welfare checks and food stamps, and to apply for Medicaid, but unless someone actually came to the house to check, the address coulda been on the moon, for all I knew. Perhaps he’d invented a bogus address and then forwarded everything to a post-office box. That would have been just the sort of thing Dad would’ve done.
When it came to packages, Dad always had everything sent to the UPS Shipping Center over on State Street. That’s what he did with my bike. They knew him there and sent him a text whenever something came in, and then he stopped by with our ancient Chevy Suburban and brought it home. I didn’t even know you could get things delivered to your house. I didn’t even know there were other shipping companies like Federal Express until much later.
What I didn’t know was what would happen if a truant officer went to our address and found there wasn’t even a house there or that the address didn’t exist at all. Would they mount an all-encompassing search for our whereabouts, or would they assume we weren’t legal residents in the first place and quietly let the matter drop? What did they do when it came to homeless kids? Homelessness wasn’t just a problem in the cities. We had drifters come through town all the time, and some of them had children. What did the police do when it came to the children of the migrant workers? Some of the farms couldn’t function without migrant workers, and their children were enrolled in our schools. Did they have an address? There were so many things I didn’t know, and I couldn’t assume I wouldn’t find my face plastered all over the news media someday. Perhaps I’d be lucky and Dad’s body would never be found, or it wouldn’t be found for years. Perhaps he’d already been found. No matter what, I still needed to get as far away from Indiana as possible, and so I continued my journey.
I’d figured I’d get to Hannibal in about three days. According to the GPS, the cycling time would be 26 hours total, which I could do in three days if I rode eight hours, forty minutes every day. However, I’d failed to account for weather and a blinding, late-winter snowstorm just past Charleston, Illinois, that made travel impossible. I actually had to backtrack into town and hunker down in the Lincoln Garden Family Restaurant. At least I didn’t starve. When the snow gave way to pouring rain, it became evident that I wouldn’t be going anywhere until the next morning at least, and camping out was not an option. Since Charleston was the home of Eastern Illinois University, I was able to get a room at the Student Union. I was surprised they didn’t ask for any kind of I.D., but then I looked like a miserable, drowned rat, and the guy at the desk probably felt sorry for me. In any case, it was cheap as lodging went, but then there was only a sink in the room and a communal bathroom down the hall.
I’d lost an entire day because of the snowstorm, and although there wasn’t a place I had to be, the slow pace was impeding my ability to get far away from Indiana, and it was draining my cash. One thing was for sure: I couldn’t continue spending a hundred dollars a day on food and campsites. The scary thing was that no matter what I did, the money wouldn’t last all that long. I would literally run out of money by early summer. At some point I’d hafta find a way to earn some cash, and it certainly wasn’t gonna be from prostitution. The first thing I was gonna hafta do was to minimize my expenses. I couldn’t afford to eat three meals a day in restaurants, no matter how reasonably priced they seemed to be. Even so, I still had to take care of myself and eat well enough to keep up the pace on my bicycle. Otherwise, it’d defeat the purpose. I couldn’t live on junk food, after all.
One thing I’d noticed was that the biggest bang for the buck in terms of restaurant food was breakfast. Hearty breakfasts seldom cost more than ten or twelve dollars, and if I took care to avoid carb-heavy items such as pancakes, they were rich in protein and high in nutrition. Some places even had breakfast buffets where you could eat all you wanted for under fifteen bucks. A buffet meal like that could keep me goin’ all day, and although a lot more expensive than the toast and cereal I’d get at a sit-down restaurant, it was probably the most efficient way of fueling my teenage body. I could then supplement my breakfasts with cheese sandwiches or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, with ingredients purchased at groceries along the way. If I stuck to that routine, I could manage to feed myself reasonably well for fifteen to twenty dollars a day.
Lodging was a bit more difficult. I’d bought a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress with the intent of sleeping under the stars for free. Unfortunately, the stars didn’t provide a place to take a dump, nor a hot shower in the morning. Until it got hot out, I could probably get away with showering once or twice a week, and for that, I’d stay in a campground, which typically cost around $20 or $25. In more severe inclement weather, however, even sleeping in my tent wasn’t possible, as everything got soaked. When that happened, I needed to rent a cabin, and even at a place like a KOA campground with communal facilities, that cost around a hundred bucks.
Then there were the unexpected expenses, things I couldn’t budget for at all. A good example of that was when my stuff was stolen, setting me back close to a thousand dollars or the freak snowstorm that forced me to spend an extra day along the way. The next major expense came when I got to Taylorville, a town of close to twelve thousand folks. As such, it was bigger than my hometown of North Vernon, but smaller than Seymour. I approached Taylorville on Illinois route 29, coming up from the tiny town of Pana. My intent was to follow 29 through Taylorville and then turn west on 1500 North Road and head to Kincaid, bypassing Springfield altogether.
It was a good plan if I’d been paying more attention to the road and had seen the broken glass in time to stop. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been and I didn’t, and by the time I passed over it, I had two completely shredded bicycle tires and inner tubes. I had spares for both, and it took me a couple of hours to change them, but it would have been risky to have continued on my way without a new set of spares. I stopped in a couple of gas stations and received the same answer: that I’d have to get those in Springfield. Not even the Walmart Supercenter had them, and so reluctantly, I continued up Illinois 29 to Springfield.
Springfield is the capital of Illinois and the place where Abraham Lincoln got his start as a lawyer and in politics; also, it’s where he’s buried. It’s kind of small for the capital city of one of the larger states, with a metro population of 212,000, making it not that much bigger than Bloomington. It sure felt bigger, though, perhaps because there were so many state agencies and businesses associated with the state government. Now, Indianapolis was more like what I thought a capital city should look like, and Indiana wasn’t even a very large state. In fact, Indiana was the smallest state west of the Appalachians in terms of land area – one of those little factoids we all had to learn when we studied Indiana History.
Entering ‘bicycle repair’ into the GPS yielded several listings for Springfield and even one for Chatham. I would’ve gone to Dick’s Sporting Goods, but the Yelp reviews were terrible. I decided to go to Velocity Mile, ’cause it had thirteen reviews on Yelp, all of them five stars, but then I noticed that it closed at 5:00 p.m., so I was too late. There weren’t exactly any campgrounds in Springfield, and the Red Roof Inn refused to give me a room without an I.D. It was just as well, given how much the cheapest room cost. I couldn’t exactly camp out on the grounds of the State House, so I used the GPS to locate a wooded area in Lincoln Park. I even got a chance to see Lincoln’s tomb.
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Washing up in the restrooms of the Visitors’ Center at the Lincoln Tomb, I headed back into the city the next morning and grabbed breakfast at McDonald’s, right between Burger King and Domino’s. At least I knew what I was getting, and it was cheap.
I got to Velocity Mile when it opened at 8:00 and asked about replacement tires and inner tubes for my bike. I brought the bike inside, figuring they might need to see it to fit it with the right ones, but the guy took one look at the bike and then lifted the whole thing, pannier case and all, up onto the counter. His name tag read ‘Larry’.
“It looks like you ran over some broken glass,” Larry began, “and it did a number on your wheels.” Then pointing out some dents in the rim, he said, “You see those nicks? That’s where the glass gouged your rims. You must have ridden over the glass and shredded your tires, and then continued to ride on the rims over more of the glass. It only took a few seconds for the glass to gouge the rims, and of course just riding on the rims bent them out of shape, as you can see here,” he pointed out. “If you don’t replace the wheels, you’ll have to buy new tires every hundred miles or so, if not even more often. You’ve already damaged these tires and they should be replaced. What’s more important is that riding on these wheels isn’t safe.”
Swallowing hard, I asked, “How much do new wheels cost?”
“Let me see if I can even get these wheels for you,” he said, just about sinking any hope of continuing on that day. Tapping some keys on his computer, he answered, “Raleigh’s an imported bike, from the U.K., and these wheels aren’t standard. The newer models can take a standard wheel, but this frame is too narrow. I can get you a set for $175 for the pair, plus shipping.” Ouch! “Ground shipping’s free actually, with an estimated delivery in fourteen days.” Fuck! “Third-day air’s available for thirty dollars, second-day air for sixty and overnight for ninety dollars.” What choice did I have? Each night spent waiting meant spending more of my cash on food and maybe even lodging. After all, how long could I get away with sleeping in Lincoln Park?
“How long will it take you to install them if we order them overnight?” I asked. “And how much will it cost?”
“That Pannier case makes it tricky, since those are very difficult to remove,” Larry replied, “and I’ll need to remove it to get to the wheel. If the wheels come in by noon tomorrow, I can have the bike ready by the end of the day.” Shit! Shit! Fuck! That meant spending at least two more nights in Springfield. “I charge fifty dollars an hour for labor and you can figure about four hours of actual time spent on labor, so unless it takes me less time or unless I encounter something unexpected, you can figure $200 for the job.”
“Shit! It’s not like I have a choice,” I replied, “and of course I’ll need to purchase two pairs of tires and tubes too.”
“You know, I could sell you a decent used bike for less,” Larry suggested. “I just don’t have anything in stock right now. My competitors might, if you’d like me to check. Maybe you’d consider a new bike. I can offer something very similar in trade for about eight hundred, and it would be much easier to find parts for it and to repair it along the way.”
Shaking my head, I responded, “I’m happy with this one. It’s one of the only adult bikes I know of that’s small enough for me to ride now, but large enough to ride if I grow as tall as my dad. Better to stick with it than take a chance on something else.”
“A wise choice, I think,” Larry replied. “I do have bikes that you could grow into, but to be honest, you won’t find a bike that rides as smoothly or effortlessly for under two grand, and then you’d be stuck with the high cost of maintaining a composite frame. Now, as far as the tires and tubes are concerned, however, you really should get yourself a set of puncture-resistant tires,” he added.
“I thought that’s what I had,” I replied, “at least the tires anyway.”
Shakin’ his head, Larry responded, “All bicycle tires say they’re puncture resistant, but you need something made with Kevlar, the stuff they use in bullet-proof vests. The new wheels will take a tubeless tire if you’re interested, but even then, I’d still recommend using inner tubes. Better to replace a punctured inner tube than a tire. You should get Kevlar-reinforced inner tubes too.” Then going to a rack, he pulled off a box and showed it to me. “Especially if you’re traveling in the winter, I’d recommend you get these, the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Bike Tires. They’re from Germany and have much better traction on snow and ice than a standard tire, yet they have an exceptionally low rolling resistance for an all-season tire. I’m not saying you can’t shred them still, but the tires won’t go flat if you do.”
“How much do they cost?” I asked.
“These sell for fifty dollars a tire, and they’re about the same on Applazon, so we’re definitely giving you a fair price on them,” he answered. “You’ll need two, plus two spares, so that’s two hundred for a set of four.”
“And the inner tubes?” I asked.
“The Continentals can be used tubeless, but I’d still recommend using inner tubes, and they’ll cost you fifty dollars for two sets of four,” Larry answered.
Shit, this whole thing was gonna set me back some five hundred, plus tax. When I entered the store, I’d expected to spend about $25 tops. Nodding my head, I asked, “My supply of cash is in Applazon gift cards, though. Do you accept those for payment?”
“No, but if they’re legitimate and not stolen, I can make the exchange myself,” he answered. “There’s no danger of them going to waste in my household,” he laughed.
“One more thing,” I asked. “Is there a place where a kid can stay in town? Maybe a campground?”
“The closest campground’s in Riverside Park, which is a long walk from here,” he answered. “But son, are you a runaway?”
Shit! How was I gonna respond to that? He’d surely know I was lying if I told him I wasn’t. Why else would I be on my own? When I didn’t answer, he continued, “The reason I ask is that my son ran away a few years ago, when he was twelve. He made it all the way to Chicago. I shudder when I think what could’ve happened to him. I had to do a lot of soul-searching when he told me why he’d run away. I’d never realized how my religious beliefs caused me to say things Jesus would’ve never condoned. We spent a lot of time talking about it and healing. As a result, my son learned to trust me and talk to me rather than trying to solve his problems himself.”
“Why did your son run away?” I asked.
“That’s something you should really ask him yourself,” Larry replied. “He can do a much better job of explaining it than I ever could.”
I had to say something. I had a feeling his son ran away because he was gay, but what if it was something else? It was pretty obvious I was a runaway, but what if Larry turned me in? I was afraid to take a chance, but he might turn me in anyway, and as they said, it’s better to be caught telling the truth than caught in a lie. Perhaps I could get away with telling only part of the truth.
“My dad tried to kill me,” I began. “He had his hands around my throat, and if I hadn’t kicked him in the nuts, I wouldn’t be alive today.”
“Not that killing your kid is ever justified, but was there a reason for it?” Larry asked.
Nodding my head, I replied, “There was. Maybe even the same reason as your son had.”
“Do you think maybe he’d listen if you called him?” Larry asked.
“Even before now, my dad never listened to me,” I answered. “You shoulda heard how he talked about blacks, Latinos, Asians, Jews and gays. He’s a hate-filled man. With what happened, I can’t go back there. Never. I can’t take a chance on what might happen to me.” Of course, all of that was true. I just left out the little detail that I’d shot and killed my father.
“Although I never threatened Greg, I’m sure he felt the same way about me,” Larry countered. “Parents mean well, but they sometimes say things they don’t mean. Are you sure your father really feels that strongly about gays?” I guess I’d kinda made it obvious where I’d been going with this. That, and it was pretty obvious I wasn’t black, Latino or Asian. If I was Jewish, so would’ve been my dad.
“I’d say tryin’ to strangle me with his bare hands was a pretty good indication,” I answered.
“That’s such a shame,” Larry responded. “Our children are our most precious possessions. Throwing a child away is worse than discarding all the precious jewels in the world. I think you should go to the authorities, but I understand how you might be worried about being sent back there, so that’s a decision that’s up to you. In the meantime, if you’d like, you can stay with my son and me while waiting on your bike repair.”
“Are you serious?” I asked in surprise. “I couldn’t possibly impose like that.” Actually, I was still worried that Larry might be thinking of turning me in.
“Consider it my way of paying it forward,” Larry countered. I’d heard that phrase before, but never really knew what it meant. “Let’s just say it’s my way of paying the people back who watched out for my son. And it might do both of you some good to talk to someone else who’s been through a similar experience.
“I wouldn’t mind having your help in the bike shop today, and I’ll even buy you lunch. Then I’ll introduce you to Greg when he gets out of school, and the two of you can spend the rest of the day together. We’ll feed you again tonight, provide a roof over your head and do the same tomorrow.”
It was a really nice offer and Larry seemed genuine in making it, and with nothing better to do over the next two days, I accepted.
Larry actually let me do a lot when it came to fixing the bikes that came in. He was very patient, too, and showed me which tools to use and how to do everything the right way. I learned a great deal from him on how to fix bikes, so I was the one who frankly got the better deal. Lunch was takeout from a place nearby called Turbo Fire Pizza, and Larry sent me to pick it up. It was right across from Domino’s Pizza, but it was way better.
When it came time for school to let out, Larry took me to the high school, which was nearby, and introduced me to his son, “Greg, this is —” then laughing, he continued, “I just realized you never told me what your name is.”
Without thinking, I replied, “Adam.” Shit, I gave him my real name.
“I know that’s probably not your real name, but Adam it is,” Larry responded. “Anyway, Adam’s going to be staying with us for a couple of days while I fix his bike. I thought maybe the two of you could spend a little time together.”
“Yeah, that’d be great,” Greg replied as he shook my hand. As Larry left us to return to the bicycle shop, Greg suggested, “So, maybe we could go to our house while Dad finishes up at work. The store closes at five, but there’s always stuff he has to do afterwards, so he usually doesn’t get home until around seven.”
Greg continued talking as we walked the short distance to his house. “So, I’m guessing you’re a runaway? You don’t hafta answer that, but I’m sure Dad told you how I ran away two summers ago… actually it’s closer to three now – right after I turned twelve. What he wouldn’t have told you is that I was convinced Dad would never accept having a gay son. He’d never out me like that, even though I’m out now anyway. It’s so much easier that way.
“So, Adam, is that why you ran away? Do you mind telling me if it’s ’cause you’re gay?”
Nodding my head, I replied, “My dad tried to kill me. He tried to strangle me. He had his hands around my neck, and I was close to passing out, so I kicked him in the nuts and got away.
“Man, I can’t imagine,” Greg responded as we approached a small, one-story house. I noticed the name ‘Hofstetter’ on the mailbox. Pulling out a chain from under his shirt, he revealed a key that he used to unlock the door. Opening it, he stepped inside and beckoned me to follow, closing the door behind us. Toeing off his sneakers, he added, “Please take your shoes off inside the house, okay?”
Grimacing a bit, I said, “I’m on day three for my socks and underwear, so I warn you that it might not be pleasant.”
“Probably no worse than the locker room in gym,” he countered, and so I toed off my sneakers. The smell indeed wasn’t pleasant.
Scrunching up his face, Greg said, “I think I can spare a fresh pair of socks,” with a laugh. Leading me inside the house, he took me into what I presumed was his bedroom, opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of socks which he tossed my way. Pointing to a hamper in the corner, he added, “You can throw your socks in there, and we’ll wash them before you go.”
Pulling off my socks and tossing them into the hamper, I sat on his bed to put the new ones on when I realized that Greg had removed both his shirt and jeans, and was standing in front of his dresser wearing only his boxers and socks. He must have seen me staring at him from my reflection in the mirror as he turned around to face me. “I usually change out of my school clothes when I get home, but if that bothers you, I can put something else on.”
“You mean you strip to your underwear when you get home from school?” I asked.
“Actually less,” he answered with an intense blush. “Of course, I wouldn’t do that while you’re here.”
“I bet you usually come home and jerk off first thing,” I responded with a smirk.
If anything, Greg’s blush grew even more intense as he replied, “Guilty as charged. I usually look at some porn, jerk off, do my homework and then get dinner ready, dressing just before Dad gets home. But with you here, I probably should put some clothes on first.”
Laughing, I replied, “But won’t that make it harder to jerk off?”
Then, getting a devilish look in his eyes, he asked, “You wanna join me?”
Now it was my turn to blush as I grinned and nodded my head. I knew he was probably joking, but why not call his bluff, and then I remembered how underdeveloped I was. “I’m thirteen, but I haven’t started puberty yet,” I interjected.
Chuckling, Greg answered, “Since your voice hasn’t changed, I figured as much. Don’t worry if you don’t have any pubes yet either. I’m sure your equipment works just fine.” The lack of hair was exactly what had me worried.
Grinning, I pulled off my shirt and my jeans, and then dropped my boxer briefs as Greg pulled off his socks and boxers. “Sorry, it’s been a couple of days since my last shower,” I added.
Making exaggerated sniffing noises, Greg responded, “Actually, I like the way you smell. It’s very sexy. Can I touch you?”
“You’d better!” I replied. “And I’d like to touch you, too.”
I’d never touched another boy, and I didn’t know what if anything Greg had done, but we were both eager as we reached out and grabbed each other. Feeling another boy and having another boy’s hand on me was so different than feeling myself. It was amazing. When Greg used his other hand to rub my chest and finger my nipples, it magnified the feelings a thousand-fold. I actually moaned. I rubbed Greg’s chest and couldn’t get over how wonderful that felt. Feeling another boy’s beating heart while I felt the simultaneous throbbing in his member was incredible.
What happened next would forever be etched into my memory. Greg leaned forward, sucked my right nipple into his mouth, and then nibbled on it with his teeth. He moved his head lower and breathed in deeply from my groin. He was smelling me. He was getting turned on by the musky smell of my balls, and that turned me on like nothing else. Then Greg went down on me as he rubbed my balls with one hand and rubbed my chest with the other. I didn’t last long.
“Where the fuck did you learn to do that?” I asked. “Do you do that very often?”
Laughing, Greg replied, “Actually, that was my first time. None of the other freshmen are out, and I’m too shy to go up to guys and take a chance on asking them out on a date. And as to where I learned to do that, remind me to show you my collection of internet porn.”
“Damn, you’re good,” I responded. “I’ll try to return the favor, but I doubt it’ll be anything like what you did.”
“Adam, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want —”
“Believe me, I want to,” I interrupted. In the end, he exploded in my mouth. I had only produced a little bit of clear liquid when I jacked off, but Greg erupted like a raging volcano, filling my mouth faster than I could swallow it all, so I was left with his stuff dribbling out the corners of my mouth and down my chin. I mean, I was barely thirteen and not really into puberty yet, and he was almost fifteen and quite obviously well along, but damn.
I knew we probably shoulda used condoms, even though it was just oral, and realized I should probably keep some in my backpack. I had no reason to doubt that this was Greg’s first time, though. We cleaned ourselves up, and Greg got started on his homework while I took a shower. I realized only after I got out that my clean underwear and toiletries were packed up in the pannier case in Larry’s shop. I located Greg’s deodorant in the medicine cabinet and used that instead of my own. I’d hafta borrow some clothes from Greg until I could retrieve my own. His would be big on me for sure, and for now I wouldn’t bother with clothes. After all, he was still in the nude as he did his homework at his desk.
While he continued with his homework, I took a look at his room and what amounted to a full wall of bookshelves. He was obviously a big-time reader like me and had an extensive collection of science fiction, in particular. He had a lot of classic authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and even Jules Verne. He also had an extensive collection of classics by the likes of Dickens, Hugo and even Tolstoy. On the other walls, rather than posters of rock bands, he had posters of Coltrane, Davis, Armstrong, Fitzgerald and other jazz greats. It was too bad I’d be leaving in a couple of days. I could really fall for this boy.
“Shit fuck, I just don’t get this one!” Greg cried out in frustration.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Geometry,” he responded. “I know you probably haven’t had this stuff yet, but it’s all about proving geometric relationships. Theorem-proof, theorem-proof. I like math, but I hate this shit.”
Looking over his shoulder, I took a look at the problem that was giving him trouble. It was pretty simple actually, but I could see how it would frustrate someone seeing it for the first time. There was a circle with a horizontal line passing through the origin. Above the line were two right triangles inscribed in the circle that combined to form a third triangle, with its hypotenuse being the horizontal line. The various sides were labeled a, b, c and d. “I have to prove that a/b is the same as d/c and c/e,” Greg explained.
“It would be trivial with trig,” I observed. “They’re all three right triangles and you can use the trig functions to prove it. In fact, they’re all three different sizes of the same right triangle.”
“How do you know that the enclosing triangle’s also a right triangle?” Greg asked.
“It’s called Thale’s Theorem and the proof is as follows,” I explained. “If you draw a line from the center of the circle to the apex, this angle equals this angle, and that angle equals that angle, but we already know that these two angles sum to 90 degrees, and therefore the apex must be 90 degrees and the bounding triangle is therefore a right triangle. So, by Pythagorean’s Theorem, a2 + b2 = (d + e)2, c2 + d2 = a2 and c2 + e2 = b2. Now it’s simpler to prove that a2/b2 = d2/c2 = c2/e2. If you add equations two and three and plug that into one, you get c2 = de. Divide that by e2 and you get c2/e2 = d/e, divide d2 by it and you also get d2/c2 = d/e. Finally, divide equation two by equation three and substitute de for c2 and low and behold, you get a2/b2 = d/e, and that’s your proof. Of course, with trig you need only show that all three ratios are the tangent of the same angle.”
“There’s no way you’re in seventh grade,” Greg exclaimed, “nor eighth grade.”
“I’m a senior,” I explained, “or at least I was.”
“Damn, I just gave a blow job to a genius,” Greg exclaimed.
“You could also say you were blown by a genius,” I responded, and Greg stuck out his tongue.
“With what happened, I’m surprised you didn’t just off your dad,” Greg thought aloud. When I didn’t say anything at all, he went on to say, “Holy shit, you did, didn’t you!”
It was taking all my effort to keep from bolting out of the house and make a run for it, but everything I owned was in his dad’s bike shop, and without my bike, I wouldn’t get very far.
Putting his hand on my shoulder and looking me in the eyes, Greg said, “Adam, don’t worry about it. Like I said, I’d have done the same thing. I won’t tell my dad if that’s what you’re worried about. He wouldn’t turn you in anyway. I know him and he wouldn’t do it unless he thought you were a danger to yourself or others, but I’m not gonna tell him anyway. I trust you completely, and I can tell that you’re tellin’ the truth.”
“Indiana would try me as an adult,” I finally responded. “Without a history of abuse, they wouldn’t believe me if I said it was in self-defense. They’re more interested in closing cases and getting convictions than in getting to the truth. The irony is that my dad did abuse me. He made me suck him off every day, and sometimes more.”
“Fuck, I’d have cut off his balls and buried them in the back yard,” Greg responded.
“Don’t think that never occurred to me, but that would’ve ended up the same way,” I related. “I’d been planning to run away someday anyway, but he forced the issue when he tried to kill me.”
“Where did you plan to go?” Greg asked.
“At thirteen, I couldn’t have lived alone, regardless,” I replied. “Once I graduated, Dad would’ve put me to work painting houses, like he did last summer. It’s a year-round business – outsides of houses in the summer and insides during the winter. I tried talking to him about going to school and getting a college degree. Even goin’ part-time online, a college degree would’ve meant I could’ve brought in way more money than I could helping him paint houses. The way he saw it, I’d have left home the moment I turned sixteen and he’d have spent money sending me to school and gotten nothing back to show for it. It’s true, but it’s not like he paid me for my work anyway, so I figured it was the least he could do.”
“He didn’t pay you?” Greg asked. “Was that even legal?”
“Of course not,” I replied. “Neither is collecting public assistance or food stamps when you have a decent income, nor applying for Medicaid, squatting in an abandoned house or stealin’ electricity.”
“Gees, sounds like a real scumbag,” Greg exclaimed. “Can I ask what happened to your mom?”
“She died in childbirth,” I explained. “How about yours?”
Sighing, Greg answered, “Mom’s in prison. She set up bogus companies to defraud the state. Dad thought her businesses were legitimate, but then she got caught. We lost our house and all our savings, and nearly lost Dad’s business too. That’s why we live in such a crappy house.”
“Your house is a lot better than the one I grew up in. Looks like we both hit the jackpot for sleazebag parents,” I interjected.
“You can say that again,” Greg replied.
“Yeah, like we both hit the jackpot for sleazebag parents,” I repeated.
“Jerk,” Greg responded as he slugged me in the arm.
“Ow, that hurt,” I complained.
“You deserved it,” he replied.
After a short interval, I added, “At least you still have your dad and a roof over your head.”
“And I almost threw it all away,” Greg responded. Then after a thoughtful pause, he asked, “Wouldn’t it have been better to just wait your old man out? You could’ve worked for him for three years and then left home legally when you turned sixteen. You could’ve gotten a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy League school and written your own ticket.”
Shakin’ my head, I replied, “That was my plan, actually. However, the scholarships wouldn’t have been worth shit without his signature. He always threatened he’d start fuckin’ me, once I graduated high school, and I’m certain he meant it. With his temper, he’d have killed me eventually. I’d have never gotten away from him alive. Turned out I was right about that, too. It just happened sooner than expected.”
“I’m curious about what you’re gonna do now, but we need to get started on dinner,” Greg interjected.
“Would you like some help with that?” I asked.
“I can always use some help,” he replied.
I was used to making supper sometimes at home, but that was usually mac and cheese or spaghetti from a box. Greg and I made chicken divan using boneless chicken breasts, fresh broccoli and three kinds of cheese. It smelled incredible. We also made long-grain wild rice and Caesar salad from scratch to go with it – and homemade sugar cookies for dessert. I never knew you could make food like that at home. No wonder Greg had left so much time to get supper ready.
Greg lent me an old shirt, boxers and a pair of shorts from when he was my age, and they actually fit me pretty well. By the time Larry arrived home, dinner was on the table and, except for bein’ barefoot, Greg and I were dressed. Larry disappeared for just a moment, emerging a minute later wearing shorts and a t-shirt too.
Sitting down at the table, Larry said, “I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Adam, but your wheels haven’t shipped yet.”
“What do you mean they haven’t shipped?” I asked.
“I always get a tracking number when an item I order has shipped,” Larry explained. “I get an email, and with FedEx, I get a text. I haven’t received it yet. Overnight shipping means they can deliver it as late as 4:30 p.m. on the next business day, which isn’t until Monday. They could still get it here by tomorrow afternoon if they ship it first thing in the morning and pay for Saturday delivery. We’re not open on the weekend, but I was going to work on your bike tomorrow anyway, to get it ready for you in time for Sunday morning.
“I’m sorry, Adam, but we go to Church on Sunday.” I noticed Greg rolling his eyes. “If your wheels aren’t here by noon tomorrow, I’m afraid I won’t be able to start working on your bike until Monday morning, and I won’t have it ready for you until Tuesday.”
“Crap,” I replied, “If only I’d gotten here a little earlier on Thursday, but it was already after five when I arrived in town.”
“We’re open ’til eight on Thursdays,” Larry interjected, causing my jaw to drop open. “You probably got your information from Yelp, and we’ve been trying to get them to correct the listing to reflect that.”
“I got screwed, all around,” I replied
“If the wheels don’t get here by tomorrow, I’ll make my supplier refund your shipping even if they get it here by Monday morning,” Larry continued. “When they charge that much for overnight shipping, they should’ve made the effort to get it out tonight and they should have paid for Saturday delivery. There’s just no excuse for taking your money and then taking their time.”
“I’d have rather had my bike,” I complained.
“I realize that, Adam, but at least you and Greg can spend the weekend together, and then you can help me fix your bike come Monday. That’s four more nights with a roof over your head and food in your belly,” Larry concluded. Spending the weekend with Greg would indeed be nice, even if it did mean spending some time in church.
“Adam, would you like to say grace?” Larry asked.
Swallowing hard, I replied, “I’m sorry but I don’t know how. My Dad and I were never religious. Maybe it had somethin’ to do with my mom dying in childbirth, or maybe he never believed in god. I’m not sure what I believe, but church has never been a part of my life.”
“Then maybe attending some church would do you some good,” Larry suggested and again Greg rolled his eyes.
Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals is unintentional. Although it takes place in actual locations, in no way are any official policies, opinions or events inferred. Some characters may be underage and at times engage in homosexual acts. Anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of material where they live. The author retains full copyright and permission must be obtained prior to duplication in any form.