Posted July 28, 2021

The Brilliant Boy Billionaire

The Amazing Journey of a Remarkable Kid, by Altimexis

PART FOUR – The Executive Suite

Chapter 6: Driver’s Ed

“Mr. Gordon, are you aware that Freeman Drive is not a one-way street?” Ms. Livingston asked. It was our first day of driving on the road in driver’s ed, and Jimmy Gordon was having trouble sticking to the right side of Freeman Drive, a residential street that ran in front of Bellevue East High School. We’d completed an extensive course of classroom education, passed a written exam that was far more rigorous than the one administered by the DMV, and spent countless hours behind the wheel of a driving simulator, where we’d been challenged by every sort of unexpected mishap a driver might encounter. We’d successfully avoided striking children that suddenly ran out into the street – eventually. We’d practiced driving in heavy freeway traffic and passing tandem semitrailers on narrow two-lane roads while going uphill. However, even to me it was obvious that the simulator didn’t come close to mimicking the way a real truck creates so much wind that it can literally blow you off the road. I’d experienced that firsthand on my bicycle the very day I fled my home in Indiana.

Grouped with two other students and an instructor, we’d spent hours in the school parking lot, manipulating our Kia Cadenza around an obstacle course that would’ve challenged the most experienced driver. The Cadenza was a full-size sedan that was larger than any car I expected to drive. Perhaps the theory was that if one could drive a boat of a car on the road, a subcompact would be a piece of cake. I wondered why they didn’t have us learn in an SUV since so many of us would be driving SUVs and trucks, particularly in Nebraska. I asked our instructor about that, and she explained that with a lower center of gravity, a traditional sedan was safer for a novice and yet more difficult when it came to judging distance. Driving a sedan forced us to learn to see with our brains as well as with our eyes, as Jimmy was demonstrating so well today.

Finally, it was time to practice driving in real-life situations, so we were venturing out onto the suburban streets that surrounded the school. These were mostly residential streets lined with tract houses and the occasional parked car. Having taken the last session of the day, most of us were middle-class kids who were working at full-time jobs during the summer. Jimmy was the youngest, as his fifteenth birthday was not until the end of the summer. Actually, I was even younger, although no one could ever know that. Jimmy worked as a stock boy at the Family Fare Supermarket, within walking distance of the high school. I had a feeling that Jimmy kinda wished he wasn’t in the car, as it was embarrassing after mastering the obstacle course to be driving on the road so poorly.

Ms. Livingston was taking it all in stride, however, which made it easier on all of us. She was a kindly silver-haired African American woman who knew how to deal with a carload of three white teenagers whose bravado exceeded their skills. “Jimmy, you don’t want to have to figure out where the lanes are when there’s a car coming the other way,” she reiterated. Jimmy responded by practically coming to a halt, then slowly inching his way to the right until he was nearly driving on the curb. Fortunately, the streets had a soft, rolling curb as was typical in suburban neighborhoods including where the Gonzalez family lived.

“J.J., would you like to give it a try?” Ms. Livingston asked.

“You like to live dangerously, don’t you?” I replied, which got a laugh out of her. Actually, I’d been practicing with Rob ever since my disastrous attempt at driving in the Twin Creek parking lot. I got in on the driver’s side while Jimmy got in in back next to Mel, the third student in the car. I quickly adjusted the seat position, mirrors and even the steering wheel to my taste, and of course, I fastened my seat belt. Putting my foot on the brake, I released the parking brake, put the car in drive and checked to make sure no one was coming. I eased the car up to just under the speed limit, turning left onto West 20th Street as instructed. I turned left again onto Madison Street and proceeded down the street, again sticking to the speed limit. Ms. Livingston complimented me when I slowed down upon spotting a couple of young kids playing in their front yard.

She asked me to park behind a car that was parked by the side of the street, so I pulled right behind it and put the car in park. Clearing her throat, she clarified that she meant for me to parallel park, which I then proceeded to do. These were all things I’d practiced with Rob, and I felt comfortable in doing them. Asking me to get out and let Melany drive, I shut off the motor and said, “And that, my friends, is how it’s done.”

“Don’t be so smug, young man,” Ms. Livingston countered. “Before long we’ll be driving in traffic on busy city streets and on the highway. I guarantee you’ll have heart failure the first time some idiot cuts you off.” Having seen what Rob had to deal with every day on our commute, I didn’t doubt it. It was already dusk when we finished our session for the day. The state required a number of hours of nighttime driving, and I guess driving at dusk counted toward that requirement.

The other student in the car was Melany Blackford, a sixteen-year-old soon-to-be-sophomore who worked at Stella’s Hamburgers, a burger joint that was a popular hangout for both middle- and high-school students. Melany was rather well-endowed, which had proved to be quite a distraction for Jimmy when he was first trying to get the hang of the obstacle course. Poor Jimmy kept flirting with Mel, but she was used to the attention shown by boys and did her best to be friendly without leading him on. She was out of his league, and he was clueless.

One time when it was just me and Mel in the car, I mentioned that I admired her restraint in dealing with Jimmy. She responded, “It happens all the time. I didn’t ask for big boobs, but they run in the family, and since I have them, I might as well use them. Doesn’t work on gay boys, though.”

Laughing, I replied, “I’ve been out since I was thirteen. You can’t exactly find a boyfriend if you spend your life in the closet.”

“I wouldn’t know what that’s like, and I wouldn’t want to find out,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s worse, having boys fall all over you or having to worry about getting your face bashed in for holding hands with a boy.”

“My foster brother found that out the hard way,” I added. I’d told everyone I was in foster care. It was much easier than trying to explain why I lived with the Gonzalez family. “He’s just twelve and his boyfriend’s barely fourteen. They went to see Avengers: Endgame at the Marcus Twin Creek Cinema a couple months back, and they were holding hands coming out of the theater when a group of five boys who go to Bellevue West jumped them. Poor Henry ended up with a black eye.”

“That’s terrible,” she responded. “Did they catch the boys who did it?”

“Yeah,” I answered. “Some other kids came to the rescue, and they told the police who the attackers were. Because it was a hate crime, the police didn’t let them off the hook, either. The boys all had to do eighty hours of community service. I bet that threw a real monkey wrench into their summer plans. For what it was worth, Darren thought his boyfriend looked sexy with a black eye, but it’s faded now. They’re a really cute couple and have been friends since Henry was in the fifth grade and Darren in seventh. Looking at them, you’d think they’re the same age ’cause Henry’s voice has already changed, and he has peach fuzz on his upper lip, but Darren’s a late bloomer. At least they’ll both be in high school next year.”

The high school was an easy half-hour walk from our home, so I always walked home after driver’s ed. Fran always saved some dinner for me; I didn’t have to worry about starving. As I thought about it while walking home one evening, I realized how much my attitudes had changed since leaving Southern Indiana. I’d grown up just outside a small town in a rural community where everything pretty much revolved around farming and the businesses that supported it. I guess technically I was a townie, even though my dad and I lived in the middle of the backwoods in a dilapidated shack, but I shared far more in common with the farm boys with whom I attended school than with kids who lived in even the smaller cities, places like Bloomington and Springfield. Now, the thought of living anyplace with less than a million people seemed outlandish. To think I once actually avoided traveling through cities for fear of getting caught. Now, I wouldn’t mind visiting a place like New York. Hell, I’d actually look forward to it.

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A lot had happened during the summer in terms of my living with the Gonzalez family. After I literally threatened to move out, Jerry finally agreed that I could contribute something to my room and board. They loved having me living with them, and I loved them all truly. Jerry tried to argue that I was only sixteen and was effectively like a foster son to them, but as I pointed out, foster families were paid by the state for their expenses. I was earning $140k annually – actually considerably more if one considered my benefits package. It was only right that I contribute. However, Jerry balked when I suggested paying for an addition to the house.

For one thing, neither Jerry nor Fran was convinced we needed an addition at all. There were three older teens almost certainly leaving home within the next couple of years, including Rob, and four if I was included. Once that happened, there’d be enough room for everyone to have their own bedroom. It was hard for me to argue with that, except I knew from my conversations with Rob that he intended to stay at least another four years – until he got his degree. Celia had also decided on living at home while she went to the Metropolitan Community College. Camilla was thinking of doing the same.

More at issue was that I hoped to buy an electric vehicle once I had my license and would need a place to plug it in overnight. Rob and the girls parked their cars on the street, but the addition of my car and the need for a charging station meant kicking Jerry’s or Fran’s car to the curb, which hardly seemed fair.

After looking at our house on Google Maps from all angles, we reached a compromise on modifications that would provide some additional space without leaving the ’rents with too much space someday as empty nesters. In front, we’d widen the driveway, providing space to park two cars off-street in front of the front door. There was plenty of room for this without significantly detracting from the appearance. We’d be paving over existing lawn, but we wouldn’t lose any trees or shrubs. On the back side of the house, we’d add two extra bedrooms and expand the existing bathrooms on both floors. I’d wanted to add two extra bathrooms, but as the ’rents pointed out, bedrooms could always be repurposed for other needs, whereas bathrooms could not. Life would be messy as hell for a few months while the work was going on, but then Rob and I would have our own bedrooms, as would the older girls. I expected I’d still end up sharing with Sammy quite often, though, whenever Darren slept over with Henry.

We interviewed several architects and contractors and looked into their references. I asked all the architects about the risk from flooding, and all but one of them minimized it, pointing out our distance from the river, the ability of the forest to absorb floodwaters before they reached our house, and the fact that we’d survived the recent flood without any damage. The one who thought otherwise responded, “You’re not in a flood plain yet, but FEMA is in the process of revising their flood maps, and I can just about guarantee you’ll be within the new fifty-year flood zone just because of your proximity to the river. There are people who are nowhere near water who flooded, so FEMA’s going to err or the side of caution, and you’ll be caught in their net. Taking measures to mitigate flooding could save you a ton on flood insurance in the future.

“We already know your basement floods and was built with that in mind. Let’s assume it’ll only get worse and plan a more flood-tolerant basement. The current concrete block is fine, but I’d remove the old linoleum flooring and cover everything with epoxy paint. Add a laundry room upstairs to your plans so you can have your washer and dryer above flood stage. You might want to store all your power tools in sealed, waterproof containers.

“We can extend the patio and add a three-foot high flood wall behind your patio and swimming pool and grade the land behind it. It would be decorative and would likely save the lower-floor bedrooms from flood damage as long as the river doesn’t crest any higher than ten feet over flood stage. More than that and all of Bellevue will be in trouble. Also, I’d put a three-foot flood wall inside the garage. As with the basement, we can make the garage flood-tolerant and make the door to the house watertight. We want to protect the bedrooms. You can always drive your cars to higher ground.” The cost of adding flood protection to the overall cost of the renovations was quite reasonable. We hired that architect.

Actual construction began in late July and proceeded well into the fall. The construction was staged so as to minimize the disruption to our lives. They started with the exterior work first with the addition of the flood wall and with putting up the shell for the addition to the back of the existing house. The upstairs addition contained a new master bedroom with double walk-in closets and a wraparound terrace with stairs leading down to the existing deck. The downstairs addition contained two new bedrooms, each with sliding glass doors providing direct access to the patio. Rob’s existing bedroom lost its access to the patio but gained a side door with access to the back yard. Once that work was done, Fran and Jerry moved into their new master bedroom and after a trip to IKEA for new bedroom furniture for me, Rob and I moved into the two new downstairs bedrooms. Henry moved back in with Sammy.

In the next phase, the upstairs bedroom hall was extended through what had been the original master bedroom, and the remainder of the old master bedroom was converted to another bedroom, similar in size to each of the existing girls’ bedrooms. after another trip to IKEA, Celia moved into the new bedroom leaving Camilla a bedroom to herself. Hillary and Lindsey continued to share. That left the bathrooms to be dealt with. What had been Rob’s and my bedroom was now empty and windowless. First, a hallway was carved out of one end, providing access to the two new bedrooms, but even that left twice as much room as the existing downstairs bathroom, tiny as it was, so the architect designed a new bathroom out of the space, with a double shower, a bathtub, a double vanity, a toilet and a urinal. The three of us boys started using the new bathroom as soon as it was finished.

Next, the girls took over what had been our bathroom while their bathroom was gutted and extended into what had been the old master bedroom closet. That gave them a double shower, a bathtub, a double vanity and two toilets, one of which was hidden in its own alcove. Finally, Jerry and Fran took over the old boys’ bathroom downstairs while the master bath was gutted and expanded, giving them both a shower and a jacuzzi along with a double vanity and a toilet. Once the new bathrooms were all done, the original downstairs bath was gutted and converted into a laundry room. The addition cost the Gonzalez family a small fortune, but the added space and better space utilization made it well worth the time and effort in the end. The flood-mitigation measures would prove themselves far sooner than anyone could’ve expected.

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As my time on the road in driver’s ed progressed, I began to think seriously about buying my own car. Even after paying the Gonzalez’s a thousand bucks a month, retroactive to when I arrived, I still had money in the bank and would have even more by the time I got my driver’s license. The one thing I was certain of was that I wanted an electric car even though Trump had eliminated the government subsidies for most of them. I was obsessed with fighting climate change, and in fact, one of the reasons I felt good about working for Applazon was their commitment to net-zero energy usage. Of course, that didn’t include the energy used to ship items all over the globe, but it was a good first step. However, Omaha wasn’t California, and there wasn’t much of an infrastructure for EVs. Finding dealerships with stock on hand was difficult, let alone arranging for a test drive.

I should have realized that no dealership would let a teenager test-drive a vehicle without a valid driver’s license. Most were reluctant to let a teenager drive a vehicle, period, even if one had the money to pay cash. I spent a lot of time reading reviews online and was really interested in the new Jaguar I-Pace, but I worried about getting parts for it, even though there was a dealership in Omaha. Besides which, $70k was a hell of a lot more than I wanted to spend on a car. I also liked the Audi e-tron, which had great reviews, and it was based on the guts of the Tesla Model X, which meant that parts should be readily available. As one of the most popular luxury brands in America, I had multiple dealerships to choose from, but $77k for my first car was very obscene.

The Hyundai Ioniq electric was much more reasonably priced than the others, but it’s 170-mile range was a nonstarter. That wasn’t even enough to get me to Kansas City for a visit with the Rodrigues family. Ditto for the Nissan Leaf. The Chevy Bolt was a possibility, but I was willing to pay a bit more for such features as all-wheel drive, collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control and heated seats, to better weather those cold Omaha winters. Was I sounding like a spoiled rich kid? I certainly hoped not. The Kia Niro EV was definitely of interest if I could get one. The BMW i3 was too small and had too short of a range. Ditto for the Mini Cooper SE.

That left Tesla, and I’d loved Mr. Winters’ Model 3. The long-rumored Tesla Model Y was gonna be almost exactly the same car in a crossover design, but It wasn’t expected until late 2020, with delivery of the first vehicles not until 2021. A year and a half was just too long to wait, so I decided to stick with a decked-out Model 3 sedan. There was a choice between rear-wheel drive and two-motor, all-wheel drive, but I considered the former to be a non-starter, even though it cost quite a bit less. It just didn’t have enough range. The all-wheel-drive model was priced similarly to other luxury sedans, but the cost over time was considerably less, given that electric power cost about a third as much per mile as gasoline and that electric vehicles required half as much maintenance. There was also a performance model for another $8k, which pushed the price to considerably more than I wanted to spend, but the zero-to-sixty acceleration was a heart-pounding 3.2 seconds. It was a lot of money for a kid to spend on his first car, but it wasn’t like I was a spoiled rich kid. I had a good job and was working hard to pay for the car myself.

Jerry and I developed a strategy we hoped would let me test-drive the cars of interest to me. Checking around for availability, we made the round of dealerships, ostensibly to look at cars. We planned to look at the Tesla Model 3, the Chevy Bolt and a gas-powered Kia Niro. There was a waiting list for the EV model, but we were assured we could get one if we wanted it. We also checked out the Audi e-tron, but it was still way more than I was willing to spend. We went to each dealership and asked to see the sales manager with whom Jerry had made the arrangements. The Chevy was the only one I absolutely didn’t like. After looking at each car closely and asking quite a few questions, Jerry asked to test-drive the vehicle. He pulled into a parking lot once we were out of sight of the dealership and I took the wheel. I put each car through its paces until I was satisfied that I had a good feel for ride and handling. I paid particular attention to ergonomics and potential safety issues. The cars were exceptionally well-designed and handled well, although it was harder to get a feel for the Kia, given that gas engines don’t have as much torque as electric motors. I liked the Kia, but I loved the Tesla. Then I tried the performance model and, oh my god, I’d take out a mortgage for one if I had to.

The dealer told us up front that the price wasn’t open to negotiation and was set by Tesla. I’d read the same thing online but was surprised when Jerry negotiated for the dealer to throw in the home charging station with installation and an extended-service contract after the extensive warranty ran out. However, there were extras. The standard model came with a white exterior and black interior. Maybe it wasn’t wise for a teenage boy to choose a red exterior, but damn, it looked hot; however, it added $2k. The optional white-and-black interior looked really cool compared to all-black, probably literally as well as figuratively, but that was another $1k. At least the 20” sport wheels were standard on the performance model.

Jerry was able to add me to the family insurance policy, so that saved a small fortune. He presented the proof of insurance to the dealer, who needed it before I’d be allowed to drive the car off the lot. I wouldn’t be able to register the car until I had my driver’s license, but that step could be taken care of over the phone before picking up the car. The expected wait time was four to eight weeks, which meant it might arrive just about when I got my license. I had to put down $100 as a non-refundable ordering fee, and the dealer insisted on a down payment of 20% of the purchase price, with the rest due upon picking the car up. That was a good thing, as I didn’t have enough to pay the full price yet and didn’t want to take out a loan if I could help it. I paid the order fee and deposit using my phone and signed the contract. Jerry co-signed it and I was on my way to owning my first car.

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Ever since Sammy had a sleepover with his girl, he was no longer interested in experimentation with me. I suspected that in spite of his assurances that there was no way they could get together, somehow, they had. That much was more or less confirmed when he asked for advice on condoms. Apparently, his girlfriend had obtained one from a friend but was too embarrassed to buy any on her own. At least with condoms prominently on display at CVS and with self-checkout, no kid had to go through the ordeal of asking for a box of condoms or handing them to a cashier. I could understand how it might still be embarrassing for a girl to buy condoms, particularly if she was trying to hide it from her parents.

Sammy had not an ounce of embarrassment when it came to his sexuality, and so he didn’t hesitate to ask me questions when we went together to the local CVS, and he didn’t hesitate to ask the pharmacist about the use of spermicides with the condoms. I’d never even considered the use of spermicides ’cause I didn’t have to worry about getting my boyfriend pregnant. While we were there, I picked up a box of Trojans for myself even though I had no prospects for someone with whom to use them at the moment.

Sammy had a summer job working as a junior lifeguard at the local public swimming pool, and with his limited work hours, there was ample opportunity for him to spend time with his girlfriend before or after work. For their part, Henry and Darren were spending nearly all their time together, essentially with the blessings of both sets of parents. I didn’t think anyone thought there was even a remote possibility they wouldn’t end up together, although I knew well enough to know that one should never take anything for granted.

The two of them were spending every waking moment in our pool out back or hiking in the woods. Sometimes they made dinner for all of us, and they were getting to be decent masters of the grill. Nights were spent in the ‘boycave’ they’d built for themselves out back. Pitching a tent under the deck where they were protected from the rain, they had a full-size air mattress with regular sheets and blankets. They had a small refrigerator stocked with snacks and sodas, Henry’s stereo as well as an iPad that doubled as a TV, and of course power to recharge everything. I didn’t see them wearing anything more than speedos over the entire summer. Not that it was any of my business, but I strongly suspected they were using them because it allowed the freedom to do the things we’d talked about a couple of months back.

The fact that I was sexually deprived at the time only made things worse at work. Actually, things were going very well there from a professional standpoint, and if anything, we were ahead of schedule. Wang, our solid-state engineer, had a team of engineers and technicians working on chip and circuit-board design back in Cupertino while a smaller group in Omaha was working on the interconnects, the backplane design and the chilled-nitrogen cooling mechanism. Shaun, the teenage son of Frank, the chief project engineer, was working as a summer intern with the electronics group.

They’d finalized the design of an Arm CPU that was based on an existing version already in production and in use in other data centers. Initial prototypes had been fabricated and delivered. In the meantime, component layout had been optimized using electronic CAD-CAM software, and circuit-board prototypes had been completed. Once the prototype server boards were finished, they were shipped to us, and Wang’s group of dedicated technicians and interns put them through their paces, both with room-temperature cooling and liquid-nitrogen cryogenic cooling. Designing the components for use at different temperatures and for use with different switching voltages had been essential, as we didn’t want to have to start over if the cryogenic cooling didn’t work or was pulled by Corporate. We lost out on a bit of miniaturization as a result, but the added flexibility would indeed prove itself invaluable.

Priscilla’s team of engineers and technicians was by far the largest, and it was the only one to include graduate students from the university. Of necessity, they were told only what they had to know and were sworn to secrecy. Her team was responsible for designing mockups and prototypes of the two different server-cabinet designs and to test them. A choice was needed ‘yesterday’ as to which would be used in our data center. However, we also had to keep in mind that whichever design was chosen, it would likely be used in future data centers. The smaller design was more versatile, but the larger was more efficient. In order to test them, we’d build mockups and prototypes of both.

Mockups were being made of full server stacks, but at one-quarter scale. This gave the team a chance to evaluate the geometry and spot potential problems. Once they were satisfied with the mockups, full-size prototypes of the toroidal cabinets would be fabricated, fit with simulated server circuitry and a prototype liquid-nitrogen cooling system, and then tested at length. At that point, one of the designs would be selected and a full server stack would be built, fit with final versions of the servers and with the final design of the cooling system. A robotics team would be brought in to design and build the server-replacement infrastructure.

Dom, the thermionics specialist, and Dan, the HVAC engineer, were working together on the liquid-nitrogen cooling system for both the server cabinets and for the building HVAC system. The need for cooling was even more critical at the moment, because Applazon had rented a warehouse that was never intended for uses other than storage. As the summer progressed, the temperature inside quickly rose into the triple digits. Modesty flew out the window as clothing was shed and people wore the bare minimum, bare being the operative word. Even I was down to wearing only shorts and sandals as the temperature continued to climb.

We ordered some portable air conditioners right away, but they barely made a difference. They only succeeded at making a facility that wasn’t fit for human use, merely unbearably hot. We actually considered abandoning the warehouse and congregating elsewhere, the contract be damned, but then Don vowed to tackle the problem head on. There was a vaulted ceiling with a line of vertical north-facing windows at the top. The windows were intended to let heat out, but there wasn’t any effective circulation.

We weren’t allowed to make modifications to the building, but we did have those overhead windows. Dom built scaffolding directly under the windows in the center of the space and supported it with a steel framework from below. Dan ordered a huge commercial air-conditioning compressor and mounted it on the scaffolding. With the compressor directly in front of the center windows, the exhaust heat would be vented outside, with fresh air drawn from the open windows on the ends. Below the compressor, he mounted the largest centrifugal blower I’d ever seen, and below that he mounted a mammoth heat exchanger through which he circulated refrigerant from the compressor. Below the heat exchanger he mounted a three-foot-diameter round duct that ran the length of our space, with twelve-inch-round ducts extending out on both sides of it, terminating in elbows with downward-facing round diffusers. The whole arrangement looked surprisingly professional for such a makeshift operation.

The power required for the compressor and blower together amounted to 80 amps at 240 volts, for a total power consumption of 19.2 kilowatts. The power cables connecting them to the electrical panel were enormous. The panel supported 350 amps at 240 volts, and with the power requirements of all of our other equipment, I began to wonder if that would be enough to meet our needs. In any case, we paid for our electricity, so with the addition of air conditioning, we blew right through our budget. It wasn’t like the AC made the space into an ice box, either. It brought the temperature and humidity down from unbearable to merely uncomfortable. We talked about maybe adding some insulation under the scaffolding to better isolate the compressor from the space below, but the reality was that we probably also needed either a larger compressor or a second one, which would have pushed our electrical usage even higher. Since summer was a finite period and it was more than half over by then, we elected to be satisfied with having an acceptable work environment, and we continued to work scantily dressed.

My work involved attending the planning meetings of all the individual teams, and I spent a bit of my time simply observing each team at work, learning firsthand what they were up to. I spent a fair bit of time with Ibrahim, the software engineer, who was the first person I’d met who could challenge my intellect. We worked together on rewriting the server code, making it more efficient and reliable. It was surprising the number of bugs we found that had been introduced in much earlier versions and then carried over into subsequent versions. Just getting rid of the bugs made a huge difference in speed. I’d showed Ibrahim my earlier work on the web interface for server management, and we both spent quite some time working on it, adding more graphics, more diagnostic functions and incorporating better server-fault prediction and management. It was very satisfying work.

In the meantime, I signed up for online coursework at the university, which I could work on during my downtime. It helped keep me busy and, to an extent, kept my mind off the sex I wasn’t getting. With the credits received in math and computer science from passing the QE, I expected to have enough credits by the end of the summer to get my bachelor’s degree in computer science, paving the way to begin work on my Ph.D. However, even with all the work I was doing that kept me busy, I was scantily clad, overheated, horny as hell and not getting any. That was a bad combination of factors for any teenage boy. I even had thoughts of starting an affair with Ibrahim, even though he wasn’t my type at all, but he was promised to a girl, and I wasn’t about to challenge his relationship with his family, which was very close.

The bigger problem was Shaun, who was gorgeous. He was absolutely my type, and he was around my age, and as far as I knew, he was single. He was the chief engineer’s son, though, which meant he was strictly off-limits – or mostly, if he was straight. Actually, I had no idea if he was gay or straight, and it was that uncertainty more than fear of an improper relationship that kept me from making a move on him. However, that didn’t stop me from looking at him and sometimes staring at him and sometimes getting caught drooling. Most of us had gone back to wearing shorts and tank tops now that the temperature was bearable, but he still only wore speedos with flip-flops at work, and I knew every pair of speedos he had. He looked good in all of them, but the dark, solid colors were the best. The dark-red pair, the black pair, and the navy pair were all worthy of a wet dream by themselves, but the copper-colored pair drove me insane.

Things came to a head just after the July 4 holiday when Frank invited us all to his house for a mid-summer barbecue. A lot of people were taking summer vacations after that, so in a way, it was a pre-vacation fling. Of course, I accepted. I couldn’t exactly refuse the man who was nominally my boss, and it would be a chance to mingle with everyone socially. It might also be a chance to spend time with Shaun – not that I thought anything would happen and certainly not with all those people around – but just the thought of spending time with him outside of the lab was exciting.

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope and vwl-rec in editing my stories, as well as Awesome Dude and Gay Authors for hosting them.

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.