On the last day of Driver’s Ed, we each took a victory lap around downtown Omaha on Interstates 80 and 480, in traffic, crossing over the Missouri River twice. We headed back to the school and hugged each other as Ms. Livingston signed the spot on our learner’s permits that indicated successful completion of a course at a qualified driving school. I couldn’t believe how fast the summer had gone by.
Only half my weekends were free, and so I’d spent two more full weekends with my boyfriend since the barbecue. Each weekend spent with Shaun was an experience. We watched all the Star Wars movies and the original Star Trek movies, Shaun taught me how to play some video games – he was right, he was ruthless – listened to the music from Hamilton and enjoyed some incredible meals that he prepared himself.
When it came to sex, however, Shaun was insatiable. There was damn little that boy wasn’t willing to try. I’d had some phenomenal sex in my short time with Greg and I’d honed my skills with Sammy, but Shaun took it to a whole other level. I loved him with all my heart and each sexual act was an act of love. More than that, sex with Shaun was fun! I liked to bottom, and he liked to top, but that was only one of many variations on a theme. We both liked feet and we both liked armpits, but I never would’ve thought to try some of the kinky things Shaun liked, but eating cum-covered popcorn from our laps, midnight skinny-dipping in the pool, and covering each other with peanut butter and licking it off our favorite spots were simply amazing.
We never learned about these things in sex education, and outside of the Nifty Archive, you just didn’t see gay-themed stories involving such things on the internet or for sale in the Applazon e-bookstore. I couldn’t help but wonder why not. Was it wrong to play with each other’s balls with our feet? Guys played football all the time, so why not footsie boy-ball? And peanut butter was a wholesome, delicious food that had occupied a prominent place in kids’ lunchboxes since the dawn of time. What was wrong about smearing it all over your boyfriend’s asshole prior to rimming? What was wrong with peanut-butter head?
‘Johnny, what did your mommy pack for lunch today? Maybe we can trade!’
‘Let me check, Jimmy. Looks like I’ve got peanut-butter head. How about you?”
‘I’ve got a peanut-butter rim job. Maybe we can share!’
Yeah, that would really be entertaining in the grade-school cafeteria. Come to think of it, that might be fun for role playing. We were gonna hafta buy peanut butter by the case. Come to think of it, I saw a case of Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolatey Dreams Peanut Butter in the Applazon delivery station. Maybe I could order a few cases using my employee discount. Maybe we could try Mighty Maple, Pumpkin Spice and White Chocolatey Wonderful, too. We could establish the sexy-peanut-butter-flavor-of-the-month club.
“J.J.?” Ms. Livingston said, I think for the third time. My mind had been elsewhere, and it took me a minute to remember where I was.
“Your certificate?” she apparently repeated as she held out a signed certificate of completion to me. It was suitable for framing if anyone so desired, but mine would be kept with other important papers in a file drawer. After she handed my certificate to me, I hugged Ms. Livingston tightly and thanked her for putting up with us, as did the other students. Afterwards, we all decided to go out for dinner to celebrate. Jimmy suggested Umami, a moderately priced Japanese restaurant nearby. I’d never had Japanese food before, but I liked to think I kept an open mind when it came to food, as I had ever since I left home. The restaurant was a sushi place, which meant we’d all be eating raw fish. I’d had pan-seared tuna in Springfield, which was mostly raw, and it was delicious, so I was game.
We had the choice between sitting at a table or at a counter right in front of the sushi chefs. Although I was tempted to sit at the counter so we could watch our food being prepared, we all opted to sit at a table, which gave us more of a chance to talk. I was surprised that even with all the raw fish right out in the open, there was virtually no smell at all. A whole octopus was in a tank, and that kinda grossed me out. Octopi were reported to be relatively intelligent, but then so were cows, and I ate beef, so I needed to keep an open mind. I wondered if I should become a vegetarian, given my feelings about such things. Maybe not until I was out of my teens, as burgers were a staple of teenage fast food.
The restaurant had a sushi dinner that included a variety of different sushi, with soup and salad, but with three of us, it made more sense to order a selection of sushi for the table. I was a bit surprised that it was Jimmy who was more familiar with the different kinds of sushi, but the restaurant was near where he worked, and he’d eaten there a few times before. We ended up deferring to Jimmy to order enough sushi for all three of us.
We started the meal with a bowl of soup that arrived without any spoons. I was about to ask for one when Jimmy lifted the bowl and brought it right to his lips, drinking it down. I followed suit, and it was delicious. Jimmy told us it was miso soup, which was soy-based.
While we waited for the fish, Jimmy and Mel chatted about the classes they’d be taking in the fall, which would soon be upon us. Up until then I’d been circumspect about where I went to school. They’d assumed I went to the Catholic high school, and I let them think that as it was easier than explaining I was almost ready to begin work on my Ph.D. When they asked me about school this time, however, it was difficult to avoid the question. I didn’t like to lie, so I merely said, “Um, I finished high school already. Their mouths hung open in disbelief.
“How is that possible?” Mel asked.
“Please don’t think it weird, but I skipped middle school,” I replied.
“How the fuck do you skip middle school?” Jimmy asked. “You serious?”
“Very,” I replied. “Growing up, I was always way ahead of the other kids, but the last thing I wanted was to be a freak, so I let everyone think I was an ordinary student – an ordinary student with straight A’s anyway. So, my fifth-grade teacher tricked me into taking the eighth-grade achievement test instead of the one for my year. I wondered why it covered things I hadn’t seen in school before, but it was all stuff I knew, so I answered it all appropriately. I aced the test and so they stuck me straight into high school. You can imagine what it was like for an eleven-year-old to start school with fourteen-year-old kids.”
“Damn,” Jimmy responded. “But you seem so normal.”
“I am normal,” I replied. “I’m a normal sixteen-year-old boy who happens to be working full-time at Applazon and working my way through college. I’m a computer-science student at the University of Nebraska.”
“That’s wild,” Mel chimed in. “I hear Applazon pays well, like fifteen an hour.”
“Yeah, but the work’s grueling,” Jimmy responded. “Isn’t that right, J.J.?”
“I’ve heard being a stock boy is very hard work,” I replied. “My foster brother works as a delivery driver, and he says that’s hard enough. The pay is good though, but the fifteen an hour is only half of it. Even a stock boy’s eligible for the full tuition benefit. It’s a great way to put yourself through college ’cause they pay like 95% of your tuition.”
“But you’re not a stock boy,” Mel countered. “What exactly do you do?”
I opened my mouth and then tried to figure out what to say. Fortunately, the sushi arrived, and my compatriots got down to the serious business of eating. Jimmy and Mel picked up their chopsticks, and they each grabbed a selection of sushi and moved it to their plates. In the meantime, I picked up my chopsticks and stared at them, not even knowing how to separate them.
When I continued to stare at them, Mel asked, “You’ve never used chopsticks before? Not even for Chinese food?”
“Hey, I grew up in a small town in Indiana,” I answered. “There were no Japanese restaurants, and the only Chinese places were buffets with regular silverware.”
“Here, let me show you,” Jimmy began. “You start by separating the two chopsticks from each other. Just snap them apart, J.J. They won’t break.” I did as he suggested and he was right, they didn’t break. “Now hold one of them between your fingers like this, then hold the other one between your thumb and index finger. The first one stays still, and you move the second one up and down to grab things between the two.” He demonstrated what he meant, and I tried it myself. I was surprised at how difficult it was at first as the tips kept sliding by each other instead of connecting, but eventually I did get the hang of it, and I forked one of everything over onto my plate.
“Now you have a small square bowl; it almost looks more like a plate. There’s some thin slices of ginger and a wad of green stuff that’s called wasabi. Wasabi is a very spicy Japanese mustard. It comes from a root from a plant that’s extremely slow growing, and the Japanese have eaten it nearly to extinction, so even in Japan, they substitute horseradish and die it green to look like real wasabi. If you ever go to a really expensive Japanese restaurant and are served real wasabi, you’ll know. It has a much more delicate flavor.”
“How do you know that, Jimmy?” I asked.
“We were stationed at the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo for several years,” he answered. Now, his taste for Japanese food made sense. “The easiest way to eat this is to fill that bowl with soy sauce like we’ve done, but instead of trying to pick at the wasabi, mash it and mix it thoroughly with the soy sauce. That’s way easier for a novice than trying to use it a piece at a time.” I did as he asked. “Now, grab a slice of ginger with your chopsticks and lay it on top of a piece of sushi, then pick up the piece of sushi with your chopsticks and dip it in the soy sauce and pop it into your mouth.”
It was much easier said than done. The first time, I dropped the sushi when I first tried to pick it up. I tried again and got it as far as the soy sauce when I dropped it again. Finally, I managed to get it into my mouth. It was a bit spicy, but the explosion of tastes in my mouth was incredible. It was easily one of the best things I’d ever tasted. “Wow, that was good!” I exclaimed.
“That was salmon,” he told me. It’s funny how people don’t think anything of eating lox with bagels, which is smoked raw salmon, but get weirded out by eating it in sushi.” The Rodriguez family often had bagels with a cream-cheese-and-lox spread on Sundays, but I’d never actually had actual lox. I wasn’t about to tell them that, though.
“Well, that was very good,” I reiterated.
“Now try the California roll,” Jimmy suggested. “You don’t find it in Japan, but it’s popular in America. It’s made with crab and avocado.” He was right, it was excellent. “Next I’d try the spicy tuna. It’s the red one.” I was surprised that tuna was red, but then I remembered that the ahi tuna in Springfield had been red, too. The tuna was easily the best thing I’d tasted so far.
I continued to sample the different kinds of sushi as Jimmy told me what each one was. Some things, like the shrimp, were pretty obvious, but most were not. There was one called a Philadelphia sushi that contained cream cheese that tasted almost like a dessert, and another was striped on the outside with multiple colors of different fish that, aptly enough, was called rainbow sushi. Jimmy explained that they didn’t have those in Japan, either, but they’d become very popular in the U.S. He also explained that most of the sushi chefs in America were Korean because Japan had occupied Korea during the Second World War, and the Koreans were forced to learn how to make sushi. How ironic. All I knew was that I had a new kind of favorite food.
It was a great evening, and we split up when the restaurant closed at 9:00. Fortunately, they never again asked what I did at Applazon.
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On Saturday morning, I did something I didn’t usually do; I got up early. This would be my fourth weekend with my boyfriend, but even that wouldn’t have justified getting up before noon. Usually, I would’ve stayed over on Friday night anyway, but I had more important things on my mind. I’d finished driver’s ed yesterday, but first there was the little issue of getting my driver’s license – and my car! In Nebraska, one ordinarily had to wait six months after completing an eligible driving course before getting a provisional driver’s license, but I had a signed certificate from my employer for an application for a hardship exemption. It certified that I was an essential employee and had no other means of transportation to and from work. Because there was no public transportation that could get me anywhere near the warehouse Applazon was renting for our project, I was eligible.
The nearest DMV branch was in Bellevue but not nearly within walking distance. Jerry decided to go with me anyway rather than just dropping me off, just in case an adult’s presence was needed. It was a good thing he did, too. I knew that a guardian’s signature wasn’t needed to obtain a provisional driver’s license, but that didn’t mean the workers at a particular DMV branch were aware of the rules. I spent more than two hours in line, waiting just to present my documents for review. I had my learner’s permit, which had been signed by my driving instructor, as well as a certificate of completion from the driving school. I had a completed application for a driver’s license as well as two forms of documentation as proof of residence: an Applazon paystub and a bank statement from the Applazon Credit Union. Finally, I had a completed application for a hardship waiver to allow me to get my license six months early, along with the supporting documentation from my supervisor at Applazon. There was no need for completion of a written exam or a road test, as those were completed through the driving school. Even though not necessary, I had proof of insurance coverage, too. According to all of the information on the DMV’s own website, I had everything needed for a sixteen-year-old to obtain a driver’s license.
And yet the person who took my documentation seemed confused. “Is there a problem?” I asked.
“You completed your approved driving course just yesterday,” she said as she continued to scrutinize the paperwork from every conceivable angle.
“Yes,” I replied, “and I submitted the signed learner’s permit and the certificate of completion. Either one of them should’ve been sufficient.”
Then, finally shoving all of the paperwork back at me, she concluded, “You need to wait six months after receiving your certificate of completion to apply for a driver’s license, and then you need to submit certification of total driving hours at that time.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that,” I responded. “I submitted all of that. The driving hours completed are the same as on my certification. There are no additional hours with the exception of the drive to this office here today. Instead, I have brought with me a completed, signed application for a waiver of the six-month waiting period as well as the associated required documentation to support it. According to the information on your own website, that should be sufficient for me to obtain my provisional license today.”
“But you’re not eligible to apply for your provisional license for another six months,” she reiterated, obviously rejecting everything I’d just said as if it were irrelevant. Rather than argue the point, I brought up the DMV website on my phone and scrolled to the relevant section.
Turning my phone toward her, I pointed out, “You’ll recognize this as the DMV’s own website. As you can see, I’ve submitted the appropriate materials for an application for a waiver of the six-month waiting period.”
“There are no exceptions to the six-month waiting period,” she replied. “You need to come back in six months.” She shoved my paperwork back at me forcefully and pressed the button to call the next person in line who was waiting. Great, now I had to deal with someone who’d been waiting two hours themselves and was arriving at the window, expecting to be served even though I was still there.
“Ma’am,” I responded forcefully, “I understand that you may not have seen one of these before, but that doesn’t make it invalid. Like the person behind me, I’ve been waiting more than two hours and did not come here to be turned away in spite of presenting legitimate documentation! If you’re not willing to process my application, could you please either get someone who will or get me your supervisor, because I’m not going anywhere until my application receives proper review.”
“Young man, if she’s done with you, could you please step aside so I can be served?” an elderly woman who was standing behind me asked. I really hated to make her wait. Frankly, an elderly or infirm person shouldn’t need to wait in such a long line. Not in this day and age when everything could be handled over the internet. However, it was my rights that were being violated.
“Sir, you cannot obtain your license today,” the woman at the window insisted. “If you refuse to step aside, I will be forced to have security forcefully remove you.”
“Ma’am, please get your supervisor!” I practically shouted.
“Is there a problem here?” Jerry asked, speaking up for the first time. He’d been standing next to me the entire time and, although not in uniform, was an imposing figure, nevertheless.
“And you are?” she asked.
“Major General Geraldo Gonzalez,” Jerry answered. “Deputy Director at Strat Com. Mr. is a member of our family, even if not by blood. He has been living with us since March and has been on his own for more than a year. He’s sixteen and a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the University of Nebraska, and a concept-design engineer at Applazon. He’s an essential employee and has no other means of transportation to and from work. My oldest son has been providing transportation to him on a temporary basis – at significant hardship to himself. He is himself as a student and does not have much flexibility in his schedule. Mr. meets all of the criteria for a waiver of the six-month waiting period for a provisional license and has provided all of the required supporting documentation. Is there a reason why you have yet to review it?”
“Sir, if you are this young man’s legal guardian, you need to provide documentation to that effect,” she replied. “Otherwise, you have no standing in this office. He cannot obtain his provisional license until six months have passed following the completion of an approved driving-school program. Please explain to him that he needs to leave.” What a piece of work!
“Ma’am, if you were under my command, I’d throw you in the brig,” Jerry responded. “You are derelict in your duties. Could we please speak to your supervisor?”
Instead, she called out, “Officer James! Please remove these gentlemen from the premises.”
The guard, who’d been stationed at the front door came up to us, but before he could open his mouth, Jerry extended his hand and stated, “Officer James, I’m Major General Geraldo Gonzalez, a deputy director at Strat Com. Mr. here has been living with my family since the beginning of March, and we consider him to be a member of our family. He has a valid application for a provisional license, but Ms. Juarez doesn’t seem to understand the provision for a waiver of the six-month waiting period. She needs reeducation or replacement. Could you please bring us to see the manager of this facility?”
“Certainly, general,” the officer responded. He disappeared for a few minutes and then appeared with a middle-age African American woman, who said, “Good morning, general. What seems to be the problem?” In the meantime, the woman who’d been behind me, stepped up to the window.
“Ms. Vincent, I’m Major General Gonzalez and this is J.J. , who has been living with my family since early March. He’s sixteen and would otherwise be homeless, were it not for our having taken him in. Becoming his guardian isn’t feasible or even necessary. He’s sixteen and can legally live on his own. He just completed driver’s ed at Bellevue East, but he’s not only a high-school grad but a Ph.D. candidate. He’s a high-level engineer and an essential employee at Applazon and has the documentation to prove it. He’s applied for a hardship waiver of the six-month waiting period for a provisional license, but Ms. Juarez has refused to even look at it. She seems to be totally unaware that such a waiver exists, even though it’s documented on your website. We’ve been waiting for more than two hours and have no intention of leaving until he has his license.”
“Could I see his documentation?” she asked, and I handed it to her. She looked it over, signed the applications in the appropriate places and told us, “My apologies for your difficulties. I’ll see to it that all of our staff receive proper education on the waiver program. Regardless, Ms. Juarez should have at least sought the help of her supervisor. I’ll talk to her right now. In the meantime, please proceed to Window 7 and they’ll take care of you.” I couldn’t help but notice that as we stepped up to Window 7, Ms. Vincent retreated back up the stairs without stopping to talk to Ms. Juarez. Yeah right, things were gonna change alright.
At least for me, things proceeded smoothly from there. All of my information was already in the system, including the photograph that was on my learner’s permit. All that was necessary was to pay the application fee and my provisional license was generated on the spot. I was now a licensed driver and could drive anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, subject to local laws.
Handing me his keys, Jerry told me, “Congratulations, J.J. Now, let’s go get your car.”
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“Now initial here and here, and finally sign here,” which I did, “and Mr. Gonzalez, sign here to cosign the acknowledgement of receipt of the vehicle.” After Jerry had signed the last co-signature, the sales manager handed me a pair of key fobs and shook my hand. “Congratulations, Mr. Jeffries, you are the proud owner of a new Tesla Model 3.”
“See you back at the house?” Jerry asked.
“Maybe on Sunday,” I replied.
“We’re counting on it, J.J.,” Jerry responded as he got back into his car. I got into my new Tesla Model 3 and rechecked the positioning of the driver’s seat and mirrors. I’d already checked everything out in detail before I took delivery of the car. With the key fobs in my pocket, the car automatically recognized me and would allow me to turn anything on or drive it away, but with the Tesla app on my phone, once paired to the car, simply having my phone with me would be enough to use the car without the fobs. How cool was that?
There was much left to do. The car had its own cellular connection to the internet, through which it automatically downloaded and installed software upgrades. It also provided a Wi-Fi hotspot. 5G service was available in Kansas City but not yet in Omaha, so I had a standard 4G LTE connection on both my phone and in my Tesla. The moment I activated the car’s electronics, the entertainment system asked if I wished to pair my phone to the car and if I wished to download my address book. I followed the directions for doing both. Although the network was plenty adequate for a streaming service like Spotify or even Tidal, it wasn’t sufficient for Hi-Res streaming. Shaun had copied his entire Hi-Res music collection to a one-terabyte USB stick, which I plugged right in. The large console display immediately asked if I wanted to download the contents of the memory stick to the car’s hard drive.
Even as the download was in progress, it showed a listing of all the available albums on the memory stick, listed by artist. For the inaugural drive in my new car, I selected Arne Domnerus’ Jazz at the Pawnshop 2 and was instantly transported to the world-famous jazz club in December of 1976, with the sounds of the audience all around me, and then the music began. The sound system in the Model 3 was outstanding and was rumored to have been supplied by Bang & Olufsen. In any case, it was far better than what I had at home. The only thing closer to a live performance would’ve been if the musicians were in the car with me.
I spoke aloud Shaun’s name and the GPS navigation system immediately plotted the best route based on the information in my address book. Pulling out of the dealership onto the road, I followed the recommended route and eased myself into traffic. It was interesting the way the Tesla simulated the handling of a gasoline engine. Electric motors are virtually silent, which can be dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists who might not see the car coming and wouldn’t hear it. Even drivers rely on motor sounds to clue them in when it comes to speed and acceleration. The Tesla generates artificial motor sounds as a matter of safety. Another problem is that electric motors have excellent torque over the entire speed range and thus have no need for gears or a transmission, but without the momentum of a drivetrain, electric motors don’t really coast; hence, coasting must be simulated.
The car was so much nimbler and more responsive than anything I’d ever driven, not that it would’ve taken much. The trip to my boyfriend’s house was a pleasure and was over seemingly before it began. No sooner had I pulled up in front than Shaun came bounding out the front door and tried to open the front passenger door on my Tesla before I even had a chance to unlock it. No sooner did I unlock the doors than he loaded a fancy picnic basket into the back seat and slid himself into the passenger seat. Our lips met in the middle. We’d been dating for six weeks now, and it just kept getting better and better. It was in the early afternoon on a very hot, sunny day, and Shaun was wearing my favorite: copper-colored speedos with leather flip-flops and nothing else.
“Oh, this is nice,” Shaun began. “Virtually the whole roof is glass. It’s like having a convertible without the wind to muss up your hair.”
Laughing, I responded, “I don’t have enough hair to muss up, but you look cute in the morning with bed head. The entire roof is glass, and it slides all the way back over the rear window, so we can certainly muss your hair.”
I started to reach forward to activate the control to open the sunroof. I guess I could’ve simply asked the car to open it, but I wasn’t used to using voice control yet. Fuck, I worked for Applazon, but I didn’t even have Alesia yet. Before my hand reached the control, however, Shaun stopped me and said, “Let’s hold off on that. The sun’s right overhead, and besides, I wanna see how much the AC affects your range.”
“You’re not planning to have me drive far enough to check the range, are you?”
Laughing, Shaun replied, “I’d like to, but there are other things I have in mind. I love the white-and-black leather interior, by the way.”
“You’re into leather?” I asked in surprise.
“Not at all,” he answered. “Leather’s too hot to wear against your skin, even when it’s cold out.”
“Which is probably the case when sitting in leather seats, especially in the hot sun,” I replied.
“Yes, but at least you chose the white-leather interior with black accents, and with the AC on, it actually feels quite good against my skin. It feels sexy.”
“Not half as sexy as you look in those speedos,” I chimed in.
“Speaking of which, you have GPS nav, right?” he asked.
“Of course,” I replied. “This is a premium car. Maybe not like your Audi, but it has most everything you could want.”
“Here,” he said, handing me a piece of paper. “Tell the GPS to take you to these coordinates.”
“I don’t know if it understands coordinates,” I responded. “Let’s give it a try.”
I attempted to tell the car to display the route to the coordinates Shaun gave me, but the car responded, “There is no public road access to that location. Do you want to go to the closest accessible location?”
“Yes,” I responded, and the Nav system displayed a route that took us to a patch of trees on the left bank of the Platte River.”
“Is that where you had in mind?” I asked my boyfriend.
“Yes,” he replied. “There’s a dirt road that takes you down to the river and a very secluded spot.”
“Okay, then,” I replied and started to drive, the sounds of live jazz still playing in the background.
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.