Posted August 21, 2021

The Brilliant Boy Billionaire

The Amazing Journey of a Remarkable Kid, by Altimexis


Chapter 7: The Big Apple

Even though it was after 10:00, there were people waiting to be seated, so we waited more than twenty minutes, during which the wonderful smells of the food were making me insanely hungry. While we waited, we were able to look at the menu, which was quite extensive and included everything from simple deli sandwiches to hamburgers to full meals. One thing it was not was cheap, but then Junior’s was world famous, this was New York where everything was expensive, and this was a tourist area on top of that. I was thinking of getting the beef brisket, which was one of their specialties, when Shaun said, “I gotta get a Reuben.”

“What’s a Reuben?” I asked.

“You’ve never had a Reuben?” Shaun responded in obvious surprise. “It’s a classic deli sandwich made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and thousand-island dressing on rye bread. It’s grilled and served with a pickle.

“Sauerkraut?” I asked in confusion. Why would anyone put sauerkraut in a sandwich?

“Trust me, it’s delicious,” Shaun emphasized. “You’ve absolutely gotta try one. They also make them with turkey or pastrami if you prefer or with a combination of corned beef and pastrami.”

“What if you order the combo and I order the turkey, and we can share. That way we can get a taste of all three meats,” I suggested.

“That’s a great idea,” Shaun agreed. Then leaning forward so only I could hear, he added, “Unfortunately, they don’t make ’em with my favorite kind of meat, though.” I had an incredibly hard time holding back from laughing my head off out loud. “I’m having mine with the potato salad, which is made with redskin potatoes. I’ve never had that before, and it sounds like it’d be good.” Shaun commented.

Looking at the menu again ’cause I was really hungry, I asked, “What’s matzoh-ball soup?”

“It’s chicken soup with a matzoh ball in it, or if you order the bowl, two or three matzoh balls. Maybe we could get a bowl and share it,” Shaun suggested.

“That sounds great, but you still haven’t told me what a matzoh ball is,” I complained.

“Oh yeah. Sorry,” he apologized. “It’s a dumpling made with matzoh meal and egg. Matzoh meal is a bread crumb made from the unleavened bread the Jews eat during the holiday of Passover.”

“There hardly were any Jews where I grew up, so I don’t know what Passover is,” I replied.

“Surely you’ve heard of the Exodus from Egypt,” Shaun asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

“When God freed the Jews from Egypt, there wasn’t time for the bread to rise before they began their forty-year journey to the promised land, which is why matzoh’s flat,” Shaun explained. “Every year they have a spring feast where they don’t eat any bread other than matzoh for a week, and there’s a fancy meal with prayers and wine.

“The last supper was a Passover Seder,” Shaun continued. “Jesus was celebrating Passover when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. The communion wafer’s based on Matzoh, and of course the communion wine is sweet, like Passover wine.”

“That’s the first time I’ve heard you talk about religion,” I responded. “My dad and I never went to church, and I wasn’t raised to believe or not believe anything. Now, I guess you could say I’m an agnostic.”

“My dad and I are atheists,” Shaun replied. “My grandparents on his side are pretty religious, but I just don’t believe in God. The only religion with a creation story that’s halfway compatible with science is Buddhism, but even that seems contrived. Why is there a need for a creator when there’s a scientific explanation for everything?”

“J.J., party of two,” the host called out. We rose and went up to the podium, and the host took us to a small table for two, shoehorned among a line of similar tables. I guess they were trying to fit as many people into the space as they could.

“Playing devil’s advocate,” I countered, “what’s the scientific explanation for what existed before the Big Bang? What is the origin of life? How were the first proteins transcribed from DNA when there were no ribosomal proteins to transcribe them?”

“You know those questions don’t have answers, J.J.,” Shaun responded. “Are you suggesting the answer is that there had to be a god?”

“Not at all,” I replied, “but that’s the difference between being an agnostic and an atheist. An atheist has absolute faith that there’s a scientific explanation for everything, even though science can only explain that which can be tested. The best anyone can come up with in the absence of a creator is to suggest that the universe and life originated by pure chance. Maybe it did, but we can’t know. It’s so much simpler to just say, ‘I don’t know’ and forget about trying to explain how we came to be here.”

“Could I get you gentlemen something to drink?” a boy who appeared to be my age, my real age, asked as he approached us. His name tag read, ‘Kevin’.

“Actually, we’re ready to order,” I replied. “By the way, I get the check ’cause my boyfriend just turned sixteen.”

“Congratulations,” Kevin responded. “I figured you two were boyfriends ’cause of your shirts. My parents threw me outta the house when I was thirteen —”

“Me, too!” I responded.

“No shit!” Kevin replied. “My parents are Mormons, and having a gay son wasn’t acceptable. I hitched my way across the country. You don’t wanna know how I survived until I was taken in by the True Colors Residence. Now I’m back in school and I got a job, and I’m clean.” I realized that by ‘clean’ he meant drug-free.

“I got lucky,” I explained. “I ended up with a family that gave me a job, a roof over my head and food in my belly. Now, I have my GED and a bachelor’s degree in computer science, I’m employed by Applazon, and I’m working on my Ph.D.”

“And you have a boyfriend,” Kevin added, causing me to grin. “You look way too young to have finished college. Can I ask you how old you are?”

“I’m sixteen,” I replied. “I’ll be seventeen in January. You look awfully young, too. Can I ask you how old you are?”

“I’m fifteen; my birthday was last month,” he replied. “I’d better take your order before I get canned.”

“Okay, can my boyfriend and I share a bowl of matzoh-ball soup?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll get you each a bowl and charge you for only one,” he replied. “There’s always plenty left over when we close at 2:00 AM.”

“My boyfriend will have the combo Reuben with potato salad, and I’ll have the turkey Reuben with steak fries and tartar sauce instead of ketchup. I’ll have the bottomless iced tea and… Babe, did you want something to drink?”

“I’ll have the same,” Shaun replied.

“Did you boys want to order your desserts now or wait until later?” Kevin asked.

“Is there any danger of you running out of cheesecake?” I asked.

“Cheesecake, no, but the specialty cheesecakes, definitely,” Kevin replied. “We’re already out of the chocolate-mousse and the apple-crumb cheesecakes. We only have a few pieces of the carrot-cake cheesecake left, and we’re getting low on the brownie-explosion and the red-velvet cheesecake. If you just want our original cheesecake or the fresh-strawberry cheesecake, we always have plenty of those.”

Wow, so many cheesecakes to choose from. “Babe, did you want to order your dessert now?” I asked.

“I’ve been wanting to try the red-velvet cheesecake, so I’ll definitely put in my order for that,” Shaun answered. I wasn’t sure what red velvet was, but it sounded good.

I’d always liked carrot cake, and so I responded, “You’d better put aside a piece of the carrot-cake cheesecake for me.” Carrot cake was one of the few things my old high school served that was decent.

“Good enough,” Kevin responded. “Your drinks and soup will be right up.”

Once he’d left, Shaun asked, “So you left home when you were thirteen, huh? That means you’re only fourteen, just like I thought.” Fuck! I’d slipped up, big time.

“You don’t understand, Shaun,” I replied. “There’s a significant danger to me if my real age were known.”

Lowering his voice, Shaun asked, “Does it have something to do with your having killed your father? When I suggested it before, your eyes dilated, just like they did now.”

Slumping down in my chair, I replied, “He had his hands around my neck, Shaun. I still have nightmares about it. He really did abuse me, sexually, since I was a toddler. I knew that someday I’d need to leave home but had hoped to finish high school first. I was so close! I bought a Raleigh road bike so I’d have the means to get away, but I lied about the price. He didn’t know I had money from tutoring. I’d laundered the money using Applazon gift cards.” Shaun chuckled when I told him that. “He found the original receipt that was sent with the bike. I didn’t know it was in the box. He was drunk, he had a temper, and he was angry. He tried to strangle me. I was close to passing out, so I kicked him in the nuts and went for his gun. It was him or me.”

Putting his hand on top of mine, Shaun said, “You did what you had to do, J.J. I hope you know you could’ve told me. I know why you didn’t, but no matter whether we’re together forever or split tomorrow, it’s a secret I’ll take to my grave.”

“Indiana would try me as an adult,” I responded.

“At thirteen?” Shaun asked in shock.

Nodding my head, I added, “and the D.A. only cares about getting convictions. He doesn’t like to be bothered with things like the truth or extenuating circumstances.”

“It’s no wonder you ran,” Shaun responded. “Is there a danger they’ll find you from your prints or DNA?” Shaun asked, and so I told him the whole story about how we were squatters and how I wasn’t even sure my dad’s body had been found. I explained about trashing my room to make it look like I was abducted and about tossing the gun into a cave.”

“What about the casing?” Shaun asked.

“Casing?” I asked in return.

“The shell casing,” Shaun explained. “Depending on the kind of gun, it’s either ejected right after the gun is shot or when the next bullet is chambered. Only revolvers don’t eject the casing ’cause they’re multi-chambered, and they simply switch chambers after each shot. Shotguns don’t either and have to be reloaded manually. Rifles and some handguns need to be cocked, which ejects the spent casing and chambers the next bullet. Semi-automatic weapons always eject the shell casing and chamber another bullet every time the gun is fired. That includes most handguns.”

“What is the shell casing?” I asked.

“Oh, I guess we’re gonna hafta get real basic, then,” Shaun answered but then stopped when Kevin brought a bowl of soup for each of us as well as a basket of crackers. A moment later he brought us each an iced tea. Cutting one of the three matzoh balls in my bowl of soup, I scooped a piece of it up with some soup and brought it to my mouth. “This is pretty good,” I exclaimed. “A bit bland, but tasty.”

Picking up the pepper shaker, Shaun sprinkled some pepper over the soup, saying, “Traditional matzoh-ball soup is very bland, which makes it very good for a sick stomach, but it needs pepper.” I sprinkled some pepper into the soup and tasted it. Shaun was right.

“Now, about shell casings,” Shaun continued, “the bullet is just a piece of metal. A gun works like a cannon in which exploding gunpowder propels the bullet into your victim. With modern guns, the bullet comes as a cartridge inside a shell casing with gunpowder already loaded behind the bullet. Otherwise, you’d still need to load a gun the way they used to load a musket, tamping down the gun powder and then adding the bullet every time. If the police have the gun, they can compare a bullet fired from the gun to one recovered from the body of the victim. However, if they have the casing, they can sometimes trace it back to the gun that fired it, even if they don’t have the gun. Most crooks know to pick up the spent casings. You’d make a lousy crook.”

“Shit,” I exclaimed. “I didn’t see anything that looked like a casing though. Nothing that looked like it didn’t belong there.”

“With any luck, your dad’s gun didn’t eject the casing, so it was discarded along with the gun. It’s also possible it rolled under a piece of furniture, though. But you were in the system in Missouri, right?” Shaun asked. “Surely they took your fingerprints.” I nodded my head. “If they found your old man, they would’ve found you from your fingerprints by now.”

“Yeah, but I stole another kid’s identity before I moved to Omaha,” I responded. “A kid who, along with his whole family, was killed in a car crash. I sent for a copy of his birth certificate and used it to get a Social Security card, my GED and now a driver’s license. That’s identity theft, and it’s a federal felony.”

“At least, you’ll be in the clear when you turn eighteen,” Shaun countered, “for real, at least.”

“There is that,” I responded with a wan smile.

“Are you willing to tell me your real name?” Shaun asked.

“Adam,” I replied. “My real name’s Adam, but no one else can know.”

“I’ll still think of you as and call you J.J.,” Shaun affirmed. “I’ll carry your secrets to my grave. All of them.”

Kevin returned and brought us our dinner platters. Not only was there a Reuben sandwich on each patter, but each one had a serving of two pickles, potato salad, steak fries with tartar sauce, and coleslaw. He took away our empty soup bowls.

“Wow, this is something,” Shaun exclaimed. Then, picking up half of his sandwich, he passed it across to me, and I passed him half of mine. “Tartar sauce?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s really good on French fries,” I replied. “It’s way better than ketchup.” Taking a bite of my turkey Reuben, I was surprised at how excellent it was. “Wow, this is good!” I replied. “It’s outstanding.”

“Toldja,” Shaun replied. The two of us went about the serious business of eating without saying much. After all, teenage boys have their priorities. I was already pretty full from the soup, and adding the sandwiches and sides to that wasn’t helping. By the time Kevin took our platters away, I was very full, but we still had our cheesecake coming.

“Could you give us some time before you bring us the cheesecakes?” I asked.

“I’d love to, but I can’t,” Kevin replied. “Take a look at the door.” When I did, I was shocked. It was nearing midnight, yet there was a long line of people waiting to get in, let alone waiting inside.

“Are you always this busy?” I asked.

“This is actually pretty light for a Friday night,” he replied. “You got here just ahead of the time that most of the shows get out. A lot of folks decide to get a bite to eat afterwards. A lot of them are just getting here now, or they’re going to our restaurant on 45th Street. Most just come for cheesecake and coffee. Speaking of which, did you guys want any coffee? Tonight, it’s on the house.” Kevin obviously meant that he wouldn’t charge us for it, but we both had had enough caffeine and shook our heads. “In that case, I’ll be back shortly with your cheesecakes.”

“Fuck!” I said quietly when I saw the size of the pieces Kevin brought us.

“Definitely,” Shaun agreed. “Would you like half of my cheesecake, Babe?” he asked me.

“Only if you’ll take half of mine,” I replied.

“Deal,” Shaun agreed, and we exchanged the lower halves of our cheesecake. The pieces were so big; they were lying on their sides and consisted of layers of cheesecake alternating with either carrot or red-velvet cake. I took a bite of the carrot-cake cheesecake, and I actually moaned. It was orgasmic. Of course, Shaun and I were sensible and just took a few bites of our desserts. Yeah, right. We finished the whole thing. I could barely move when we got up to pay for our meals. I left Kevin a pair of twenties, which was nearly a 50% tip. He more than deserved it, and he needed the money more than I did.

After leaving the restaurant, we started walking down Broadway. “Oh, Krispy Kreme!” Shaun exclaimed as he pulled me in that direction. “I hear their doughnuts are really good, and they’re open!”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I replied.

“We could pick some up to eat for breakfast in the morning,” Shaun suggested.

“I don’t wanna think of food at all for the rest of the night,” I countered.

We walked down Broadway a little way, but other than restaurants, bars and souvenir shops, very little was actually open. People might not ever sleep in NYC, but they didn’t shop after midnight. Perhaps they did that online. The lights of Times Square were crazy though. There were video displays several stories high that were bright enough to make it look like daytime. Shaun said there were many spots like this in Japan and much of Asia. To me it just seemed like such a waste in the era of climate change.

We headed back to the hotel for a night of making love. We got undressed and slipped under the covers and started making out like crazy.

The next thing I knew, light was streaming through the windows. At first, I was totally disoriented until I remembered flying to New York yesterday afternoon. My baby was in bed next to me, snoring away. Picking up my phone, it was already 9:00 AM, and we only had two days to see everything, including two Broadway musicals.

Shaking Shaun’s shoulder, I watched as his beautiful eyes fluttered open. “Am I such a boring lover that you fell asleep on me?” I asked.

“Wha…whadaya mean?” he responded. Then trying to make sense of where we were, he asked, “Where are we?” Then starting to remember. “We’re in New York,” then added, “Oh fuck! I fell asleep, but then so did you!”

Sitting up in bed, I pulled him into a hug and said, “But that’s just it, my love. We didn’t fuck, but there’ll be time for that later. Let’s get going! We slept for eight hours, and there’s so much to see.”

“Okay,” Shaun said. “Let’s do it!” The bathroom was modern but small, and there was only a shower, so we took our turns in the shower and at the sink, with Shaun taking the time to shave. It was still in the low sixties with a high expected in the mid-sixties and sunny. What a contrast to Omaha! We wore fresh t-shirts with our shorts but wore the same corduroy shirts we wore last night. Walking hand in hand, we stopped first at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

“You can have one and only one doughnut,” I admonished my boyfriend. “We’re having an authentic New York brunch, and I don’t want to spoil your appetite.”

“Okay,” Shaun said as I purchased doughnuts for both of us. M&M’s World was right across from us when we got out, so of course we had to take a look. It was cute, but there were other things to do. We walked down Broadway, stopping to look in some of the shops along the way. Most everything was way overpriced and touristic. Moreover, I could order all of it from Applazon and not have to schlep it back to Nebraska. When we got to the Times Square subway station, I looked up the information on subway fares and noted that a tap-to-pay system was being rolled out and would be implemented at all subway stations by October next year. So much for that. A lot of folks would’ve just opted to take taxis or Ubers everywhere, but I was on a budget. Not only that, but I’d read online that weekend gridlock on the streets of Manhattan was legendary and that the only way to avoid it was either to walk, which often was faster than driving, or to take the subway.

We needed to purchase MetroCards and there were two options, a 7-day-unlimited card for $33 or a pay-per-ride card that cost $2.75 per ride with one bus transfer included. I wasn’t planning on taking any buses. I figured we would ride between eight and twelve times. Common sense should’ve told me that unless we rode thirteen times, there was no possibility a 7-day farecard made any sense, but in the name of expediency – and perhaps stupidity – I purchased a couple of 7-day-unlimited farecards. When I made the purchase at one of the kiosks, however, it charged my credit card $34. It turned out I had to pay an extra dollar to purchase a blank farecard, which was refillable. However, by the time we got back to New York, we wouldn’t even need farecards anymore.

We started out by taking the subway shuttle from Times Square directly to Grand Central Terminal. I’d read online that the Grand Concourse is stunning inside. Beyond a doubt, it was. We both took lots of pictures with our phones, but I could’ve done without the logo of the Applazon Shoppe, which took up the entire west end of the concourse, so prominently displayed in most of my photos. We then took the subway to Delancey Street on the Lower East Side and walked two short blocks to Russ & Daughter’s Café. Since it’s a kosher-style restaurant, I’d checked to be sure it was open on Saturdays, and it was, but they didn’t take reservations.

“Russ and Daughters?” Shaun asked as we entered. “I’ve heard of them. They’re famous!”

“That’s why we’re eating here,” I responded. Shaun and I both ordered the classic bagel and lox, and at the suggestion of the server, tomatoes, onions and capers, which are traditional garnishes. I also ordered latkes, which are potato pancakes; knishes, which are potato pastries, and cheese blintzes for the table. Oh, my god, the food was good. I’d had bits of smoked salmon in cream cheese as a spread on a bagel before, but that gave only a taste of lox. Contrary to what I was told when we went out for sushi, nova lox was nothing like sushi. With the cream cheese, tomatoes, onions and capers, it was one of the best things I’d ever eaten. The other things were good, too.

From there we took the subway to Fulton Center and walked the short distance to the Oculus, a very weird looking… I wasn’t sure what to call it, but it looked like a white fish skeleton sticking up out of the pavement, and inside there were a lot of high-end shops including another Applazon Shoppe. We then followed the signs to the One World Observatory, and after I purchased the tickets, took a high-speed elevator to the top. Everything looked so small from so high up, but the city itself seemed to spread out forever. In a sense it did, as New York effectively merged into the other East Coast cities, from Boston to Washington.

Coming down from the observatory, we took an elevator up to Brookfield Place, a very high-end mall of boutique shops, then walked along the trails of Rockefeller Park, hand in hand as we enjoyed the views of Jersey City across the water. We crossed back over West Street and went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which was very moving. Of course, neither of us was alive when 9/11 happened, but it wasn’t that long ago. Afterwards, we took the subway to Christopher Street for the next part of our adventure.

We exited the subway to find ourselves facing brilliant white statues of same-sex couples. There was a plaque for the Stonewall National Monument, and across from the monument was the actual Stonewall Inn, which was still a functioning gay bar. We weren’t allowed inside past the door, but it was cool to see the place where the gay-rights movement got its start. From there we walked a block down Seventh Avenue to the world-famous Bleecker Street, which we walked down into the heart of Greenwich Village. We followed Bleecker Street along much of its length, occasionally stopping in the shops to browse. It was nice to truly feel at home, with many same-sex couples in evidence. Contrary to what I’d expected, we weren’t in the majority, but we were a very significant minority, and we were out and proud.

At Broadway – the very same Broadway that passed through the heart of Times Square and continued into upstate New York – we turned right and crossed over into SoHo and continued west on Prince Street, passing yet another Applazon Shoppe. When we got to Sixth Avenue, we took the subway to Fourteenth Street and walked a block to the north on Hudson Street. In so doing we walked past our fourth Applazon Shoppe of the day. There sure were a lot of Applazon Shoppes in New York. I loved my Applazon gadgets, but why so many stores? A million folks lived in Manhattan, as did in metro Omaha, yet we only had one store, out near where Shaun lived. Perhaps it had more to do with the number of people that worked in Manhattan and the tourists and all the wealth. Chelsea was a really cool area that was also a popular place for gays. We browsed the shops in Chelsea Market and then climbed up to the High Line, an old, elevated rail line that’s been turned into an urban park and walking trail.

When we got to 23rd Street, I asked Shaun, “Are you hungry?”

“Surprisingly, I’m starved,” he replied. “I’ve had so much to eat since we got here. I can’t believe I’m ready to eat again.”

“Hey, sightseeing’s hard work,” I responded. “I’m glad you’re hungry ’cause we have a reservation at a seafood restaurant when they open for dinner at five, and it’s just about that now. I thought we might enjoy eating at a seafood place since Omaha isn’t exactly on the coast. When I looked up the top seafood restaurants in Manhattan, however, the one that came out on top with all five-star reviews was a place called The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, and in spite of the name, it’s in Manhattan and right on our way. When I went to look up the menu, however, I found it’s a tasting menu, and it costs $400 per person. I’m sure the meal would be an experience… even memorable, but there are many fine seafood restaurants and frankly I’d rather spend the money on a Broadway musical.”

“What, you cheapskate,” Shaun complained. “You shoulda taken me to both.”

“Well, if you’d rather, perhaps we can still get a reservation. Unfortunately, we probably won’t get back in time for the musical, though.”

“That’s okay, J.J.,” Shaun said. “I’m sure the place you picked out is fine. You know I was just pulling your leg, don’t you?”

“And tonight, I’m gonna pull your leg – and other parts,” I responded.

“Oh, I like the sound of that,” Shaun agreed.

The restaurant was called The Mermaid Inn, and they had a really extensive menu, but unlike the other place, which specialized in tiny-bite-sized morsels that effectively cost fifty dollars each, The Mermaid Inn was a real seafood restaurant that specialized in the best fish around. I was about to order the simply grilled salmon when I spotted the fish tacos, which apparently are a specialty of the house. I ordered the New England clam chowder, fish tacos, and hush puppies. Shaun ordered the clam chowder, pan-roasted Chatham cod and smoked-Gouda mac and cheese. Because it was happy hour, I ordered the crab and spinach dip for the table to share. Of course, I gave Shaun one of my fish tacos and he gave me a huge portion of his fish. Both were excellent. I shared a hushpuppy with him, and he shared some of his mac and cheese with me. Oh, my god, it was good. Needless to say, we didn’t have room for dessert.

We had an hour before showtime, but It only took about half that to get to the Music Box Theater. We had tickets to Dear Evan Hansen, which started at 8:00. We continued walking the rest of the length of the High Line, right into the brand-new Hudson Yards complex, and took the subway back to Times Square, which was just a few blocks from the theater.

Dear Evan Hansen?” Shaun asked. “That won an award, didn’t it?”

“It won a whole bunch of awards, including the Tony award for Best Musical in 2017. It’s supposed to be one of the best things on Broadway, and I splurged on good seats: center orchestra. I couldn’t afford the very front ’cause the cost is nearly double, but we’re pretty close to the stage.”

The line started moving, and before long, we were at the front of the line and I was handing the sheet of paper on which I’d printed the tickets to the ticket taker, who scanned it with a portable barcode reader and handed it back to me. Now that I knew what was actually behind the running of a data center, I couldn’t help but wonder what Ticketmaster actually did to earn the fees they charged other than providing convenience. Once inside, an usher directed us to the left-middle aisle where another usher directed us halfway down the aisle, at which point a third usher took us to our seats and handed us our programs. Once we were seated, I made quick work of reading the useful content of the program, which was only a few pages among thirty pages of ads. I read about the plot, the history of the play, the national tour and the London company. I read about each of the performers and about the playwright, and I read a slip of paper about the understudy who would be subbing for one of the characters in tonight’s performance. All that information was now in my head, where it would stay for the rest of my life.

“These are great seats, J.J.,” Shaun commented. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” I replied. “You know, this is an adaptation of a book written by Steven Levenson. It has music written by Benj Pasek and lyrics by Justin Paul. It first premiered on the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in 2015, and then off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater in 2016. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won six, including best musical, best actor, best featured actress and best score. The lead is played by Ben Platt, who’s been acting on Broadway since he was a little kid. He also starred in the original Broadway production of The Book of Mormon, which we’ll be seeing tomorrow.”

“We’re seeing The Book of Mormon?” Shaun asked.

“Oops, that was supposed to be a surprise,” I replied. “Platt was featured on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2017.”

“I can’t believe you know so much about the play and the actors,” Shaun exclaimed.

“It’s all in your program,” I replied. “I didn’t know any of that until a few minutes ago.”

Shaun’s jaw dropped open in shock. “You really don’t forget anything. You’re an amazing boy, J.J. I’m never letting you go.”

“I don’t ever want to let you go, either, but at our age, no one can make that sort of promise,” I responded. “I love you with everything I’ve got, but there’s a lot that could happen between now and when we’d be ready to begin our lives together.”

“Thanks for putting a damper on things,” Shaun complained.

“Don’t get me wrong. I intend to do everything in my power to make sure we end up together, but not everything is in my power.”

Sighing, Shaun responded, “Sad but true.”

At that moment, overhead announcements began. It reminded me of high school, which in a way was a propos for this musical. When the announcer mentioned turning off our cell phones, it reminded me that mine was still on. I immediately placed my phone into silent mode. I noticed that Shaun did the same.

For a musical about teenage angst, it was surprisingly funny, and the music just worked, although it hit a little too close to home at times. The lights came up way too soon and the ending didn’t make any sense, but then Shaun reminded me that it was only the intermission. The second act was even better than the first, and the music was truly memorable. It was well worth the price I’d paid for the tickets.

When we got back to the hotel, I was determined not to fall asleep while making love. After toeing off my shoes and socks and taking off my shirts and dropping them to the floor, I stretched with my hands behind my neck, my elbows out all the way and my back arched. Even with my shorts still on, it was a very erotic pose that was guaranteed to arouse Shaun, and it did.

Stepping up to me, he put his hand on my chest, massaging my nipple, and kissed me deeply. Coming up for air, I pushed his corduroy shirt off his shoulders, pulled the hem of his T over his head and dropped it to the floor. We went back to making out for the longest time before I pushed him back against the bed and then onto the bed. I got on top of him and then flipped myself around so I was facing his sneakers. Sneakers and socks weren’t my thing, so I pulled off the sneakers and dropped them onto the floor. His socks were sweaty and pungent as I pulled them off and dropped them, too, but his feet had a much more delicate scent, and I inhaled deeply. Shaun was already washing my feet with his tongue, so I did the same, paying particular attention to the space between the toes.

Once our feet were thoroughly clean, I kissed my way up Shaun’s legs and thighs until I reached the hems at the bottom of his shorts. Unfastening his belt and unbuttoning and unzipping his shorts, I pushed them and his boxers down to his knees, exposing his beauty. I could feel him doing the same. Taking him into my mouth, neither of us lasted long.

Flipping myself around, I kissed him deeply, sharing our spunk with each other. I lifted one of his arms over his head and deeply inhaled the subtle, musky scent. “You up for a late-night snack?” I asked.

“I thought that’s what we just had,” Shaun inquired. Rather than answer him, I got up, opened my carry-on and pulled out a small jar of peanut butter. “Fuck, yeah,” he replied.

I opened the jar and smeared some of the peanut butter on and around his nose, and then licked it off. For some reason I found it very erotic. I smeared some all over his dick and balls and licked them thoroughly. He really enjoyed that. I pulled his legs up and applied peanut butter to his hole, and then gave him a thorough rim job. Then I handed Shaun the jar and lay back as he did the same. “I read that peanut butter isn’t the best thing to stick up your butt,” Shaun said. “Something about the potential absorption of bacterial toxins and long-term risk of rectal cancer.”

“Well, that’s too bad, isn’t it?” I responded. “I guess maybe in the future we’ll hafta use jelly instead for rimming and riding.”

“Peanut butter and jelly,” Shaun replied. “What a great solution. I guess one more time won’t hurt,” he added as he smeared himself with peanut butter all over his dick and balls.

Straddling the boy I loved with all my heart, I shoved down forcefully and rode him for all he was worth. There were no more secrets between us anymore. I’d opened myself completely to him, but as I shouted his name and spewed my load as he filled my bowels, it dawned on me that for all he knew about me, I knew virtually nothing about him.

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.