The Emmett’s Bay Country Club has a posh golf course that has hosted several major golf championships where the top pros have performed. I know the course well as my dad is a long-time member. I spend a lot of time there in the summer. Dad has a pretty important job, Sales Manager of a division of a large corporation. A club membership is one of the perks of the job. He needs the membership to entertain potential and actual customers. It’s a family membership. I use the club as my summer headquarters.
When you’re 14, you need time to play and time to be by yourself. A lot’s going on at that time of your life. Well, it is with me, so I suppose that’s true for other guys my age. You’re feeling things you started to feel last year, and maybe even earlier, but now you’re not just feeling them. They’re stronger than ever; they seem to be taking over.
Which is why I need some time by myself.
There are a few other kids my age around at the club, and we hang out some. I play tennis on the courts there, video games inside in the playroom at the club that’s set aside for kids, and splash around in the pool with the guys, too. But most of them are gone after dark. That’s when Dad is wining and dining clients, which he does about four times a week—yeah, tough job, huh?—and I tag along with him. I love him, and this way I get a few minutes alone with him, driving over there. He understands me more than Mom.
Home is boring, and Mom and I don’t see eye to eye much these days. She doted on me when I was growing up, and now that I am most of the way there, it’s difficult for her. I see that, but still . . . She feels her worth as a woman is very much tied into raising kids. I am her only one. I don’t need or want the closeness with her now that I had been fine with a few years ago, but she’s reluctant to let go. It’s natural for a boy my age to want separation, want independence. She hates it.
She struggles to continue controlling me, and I resist. I try to be nice, try not to be disrespectful, try to keep sarcasm to a minimum, but neither of us is very happy with the other these days. Rather than being under her thumb at night, I go to the club with Dad when I can. Even at night when he’s entertaining. Especially at night. I don’t stay with him once we arrive at the club. He goes his way, meets his client, does his job, and I go my way. Alone.
I eat dinner in the coffee shop. They know me there; I’m great friends with the two cooks and three wait-staff people: two college-age boys and an older woman. I even go behind the counter and into the kitchen and help out, or goof off with them. The coffee shop isn’t very busy after dark when all the golfers are off the course. It closes at 8:30. The bar and dining room are both open till 11.
That leaves me free as a bird and on my own when the coffee shop closes. Dad will finish up usually around 10 or 10:30. I can ride home with him then, or I can walk. We live close enough to the club that it’s easy for me to do that—it’s just a 15- or 20-minute walk. If I am going to ride with him, I’ll be at his car when he comes out. Usually I walk.
So what do I do after the coffee shop closes?
That’s my time. My special time. What I usually do is spend the last hour or so before 8:30 anticipating. I picture myself walking out onto the dark course, acres and acres of tended lawns, two small lakes, three creeks and a significant number of woodsy areas, all there to make the golf more interesting and difficult. They also make the course more beautiful. And it’s all mine; there’s no one else out there. Just me and the enveloping darkness.
I do have to be careful to avoid the sprinklers that come on automatically on timers. I’ve memorized the timing.
It’s now 8:35 and I’m no longer picturing. I’m doing. I walk out the back door of the club onto the terrace there, a deserted terrace at this time of night. There are two terraces: the one I’m on is behind the coffee shop; the other one is behind the dining room and has tables with covering umbrellas. I can hear faint voices and the clink of ice against glasses from where drinks are being enjoyed.
I move off the terrace onto the 18th fairway. I have my choice of where to go, and as I do this often, I pick a different route most times. Depends a little on my sense of urgency.
I’m on the 18th fairway tonight because that’ll get me to the woods off to my left quicker than any other of the routes I could take. I want quick tonight because tonight the urgency I feel much of the time is stronger than usual. Maybe you have to be 14 and a boy to understand it.
I’m in the woods in only two minutes and undressed one minute later. The warm air kisses my skin, and my heart is beating much faster than the quick walk should have caused. It wasn’t the walk that makes it beat faster.
I’m only a few feet into the woods, but safe enough; it’s dark, no one’s around, and I’m screened by trees and bushes.
I leave my shoes on. I’m going to walk around, and in the woods and even in the fairways you never know what you might step on.
I touch my skin all over, lightly, gently, erotically. I’m almost unconsciously moving my hips, in and out. Why do they do that so automatically? Never happened when I was nine. Oh, how innocent I was at nine!
I allow my senses to take over. I succumb to the feelings that are intoxicating me. The night seems to envelop my nakedness. I have to be careful or my heightened sensitivity will end too quickly. I stand still, welcoming the surfeit of sensations, enjoying the tactile effects of the night’s ambiance.
My routine varies with the weather and my mood. Sometimes I make these outings brief, like when my need is too great. While patience is a virtue older boys may have, I’ve never acquired it. And then sometimes I’m more adventurous, and the desire to take a risk heightens my excitement and overrides my impatience. What if someone sees me? How to explain myself? Awful thought. Awful. And exciting as all hell.
I have worked out what I’d say if I’m caught. I’ll just ask, “Weren’t you my age once? Didn’t you ever feel the seduction of a soft summer night? Surely you understand, don’t you?”
Tonight I feel like doing more than just standing here and bringing myself quick relief. I’m kinda proud of myself for the way I handled Mom tonight, getting away without seeing the disappointment in her eyes that is frequently there when I leave her alone in the house. I said some kind, complimentary words, and she was smiling when I left. I’m still feeling some of that pride, and it makes me more capable of risk-taking than usual.
I look around carefully from the edge of the woods, then step out onto the fairway. I walk on the grass, staying a step or two from the safety of the woods. There’s no breeze and the night hasn’t cooled much from the day. As I move, I create my own breeze, and it tickles me all over. I touch my skin lightly, gently rub myself here and there, and it adds to my excitement.
The eighteenth green is just ahead. Should I? I do. I leave the sanctuary of the trees and walk to the middle of the green. Anyone coming my way now, there’d be no way I could get back to the trees without being seen.
I sit down on the finely cut grass. It tickles my bare bottom. I touch myself and feel the urgency return. I give in to it for a moment, only a moment, then stop myself. Not now. Not here. Later.
I walk off the green. A sand trap lies in front of me. I think about walking across it and leaving a set of bare-feet footprints in the sand for someone raking the trap in the morning to see and think and wonder about. But it might make him suspicious enough to scout out the course on other nights, and I don’t want to encourage that. I don’t enter the sand trap.
I decide to jog back up the fairway, conscious of being a long way from my clothes. The jog makes things bounce. It’s a different feeling for sure. Although, the early excitement of being naked out in the night air is waning, and with it my arousal, I know from experience it’ll take almost nothing to revive it. In any case, it’s not gone completely, just somewhat. I jog down the middle of the fairway, and when I get back near where I left my clothes, I leave the fairway and enter the woods.
I find my clothes undisturbed, but then, with a target in mind, I walk through the woods and emerge a few minutes later on the 6th fairway. It’s a long dogleg stretch. I walk down it, feeling my arousal growing, and see the green ahead that seems to beckon me. It’s tucked into a secluded spot at the end the fairway. This green is a long way from the clubhouse. It’s also a favorite spot for me. Maybe my favorite on the entire course.
I walk to the green, my excitement building. I pass a small lake on the left. A creek supplies it, and another at the end keeps it from overflowing. There’s a continual burbling sound, the only sound in the stillness of the night.
I like the beauty of this location; I visit here often. I have to cross a stone bridge to get to the green which is surrounded by tall pines and azalea bushes and feels like it’s in its own niche, private and beautiful. It feels like it’s been waiting for my company and is happy I came.
I lie flat on my back on the green, wiggle a little to escape the itches from the grass, and reach for myself, now fully restored and ready for action.
I start. I’m very good at this; well practiced. I start slowly. Letting the feelings build. Changing hands. Stop for a moment. Start again. Not going too fast. Pressure building.
I hear a voice.
Luckily, with this green cut back into the trees around it, it only takes me seconds to be among them, now hidden. My heart now has two reasons to be racing; my breath is coming in shallow gasps.
I try to figure out where the voice came from. Then I hear it again. It’s a little louder. Someone is heading my way. And because there’s a voice, it probably means someone is speaking to someone else. It’s a man’s voice. I take a step deeper into the woods and find a tree to get behind. I know I wasn’t seen; I can’t see them even now.
I stick my head out far enough to see down the fairway. There, coming in my direction, I can barely see what looks like two men emerging through the darkness. Between them is a shorter person. They’re too far away and the night is too black for me to be sure of what I’m seeing.
I hear the voice again, carrying on the night air. “Do we have to do this?” There’s a whining quality to it.
“You want to get caught?” That’s the first man’s voice again; the first voice I heard. The whining man doesn’t answer. They’re getting closer, and now I can make out that the shorter person between them is walking and stumbling and being half dragged; it’s a boy! He’s about my size so maybe about my age. I hear a faint whimper.
Then the second man’s voice again. “But . . .”
“Shut up. No choice here. We have to shut him up. He knows us. He’ll tell. I’m not going to jail. It’ll be quick.”
Oh my God! They’re talking about the boy. Are they talking about killing him? They must be! Then I see them change direction, just a little, but now they’re heading for the lake.
Are they going to drown him? Really? My God! I have to do something.
But what? I’m not brave, and I’m not big. There are two of them! Grown men, and I’m just a boy. But I can’t just let them kill this boy.
Shaking, I step out of the woods but only a yard or so. They still can’t see me. There’s no moon, or if there is, a layer of overcast is covering it, and I have only darkness around and in back of me. They can’t see me, but they can hear me.
“Hey,” I shout. They’re still far enough away that I know I can get away if they come after me. “I can see you. I know who you are. Let him go and run away. I’m calling 911. You’ll have about a five-minute head start. You’d better run!”
The two men are looking in my direction. Then one says, “I see him. I think he’s naked! Some sort of pervert. But he’s naked; he ain’t got no phone! Go get him. I’ll take care of this one by myself.”
“You’ll never catch me,” I shout back, scared and hoping he can’t hear the tremble in my voice. “I do have my phone. It’s in my clothes right here behind me, and I’ll make the call before either of you can get close; I’ll do it as I’m running. Right now is the only chance you have to run. Better go. I’m calling now.”
The two men stare at each other. “Yes, operator?” I yell, my hand to my ear, watching them out on the fairway.
They are undecided what to do, but when I say, “Emergency!” loudly enough for them to hear, they let go of the boy and both start running back toward the clubhouse. That’s probably where their car is. The boy falls to the ground. I wait till I can’t see the men any longer, which isn’t long in the penetrating darkness, then hurry to the boy.
He’s sobbing, lying in the grass. I stoop down and say, “We‘ve got to move. They may change their minds and come back. Come with me. You’ll be safe if you come with me. But it has to be quick.”
I reach for his arm and pull him to his feet. I can finally see him well. I know him. Macy Torres. One of the summer boys at the club. He doesn’t resist but is still shaking when he’s on his feet.
I need to get to my clothes. I do have a cellphone there. I want to use it.
Come on,” I say breathlessly and start jogging toward the other side of the fairway and the woods there. He jogs with me. I enter the woods where I left my clothes, and within a minute find them. I grab my phone, dial 911, and tell the operator there’s been an attempted kidnapping at the golf club. The kidnappers are fleeing, and we need cops here now. I tell her we’ll be at the clubhouse when they arrive.
I get dressed, then tell Macy to come with me. He’s still looking dazed, but asks, “Why were you naked?”
“I’ll tell you later. Don’t tell the cops I was. Or anyone else, okay?”
He looks at me with a kinda vacant expression; maybe he’s in shock. I think I’d be if I’d gone through what he just did. But he hears me and nods.
We get to the clubhouse just as two cop cars arrive. I wave and two cops come over to us. I tell them what I just saw and what I did. They ask Macy for his story.
“I saw these two guys selling drugs to an older teen in the clubhouse. I don’t know him. I know the men, though; they work here. They saw me, and I ran but I’m not very fast and they caught me. They asked what I’d seen. I was too scared to lie. I said I saw them selling drugs. They started pulling me with them, walking out onto the course. One of the men asked the other what they were going to do, and the other man said they had no choice. They had to shut me up. He said they’d do it at the lake; it’d look like I drowned accidentally.”
He pauses to take a breath. Or maybe to calm down. It has to be hard for him, remembering all that and how scared he’d been. “Then Lonnie here yelled at them, told them he was calling 911 and their only chance was to run, and they did. I thought I was dead for sure.”
“What are their names?” one of the cops asks, and Macy tells them he doesn’t know their last names but they are Carlos and Don. “They’re part of the grounds crew here; the people in the office will know their last names.”
Macy is the son of one of the club members. I’d actually played tennis with him once. It was dark enough on the course that I hadn’t known who he was till I’d pulled him up from the grass.
My hope is that this is the end of it for us, but it isn’t. They take us inside and they call our parents and have them come to the club. When they arrive, the cops ask us to make statements with our parents present, and we do. Neither of us mentions in our statements what I’d been wearing when I shouted at the men or made the 911 call.
The cops record what we say and tell us the statements will be transcribed and we’ll need to sign them. But that’ll be tomorrow. Right then, we are told we can go home.
~ ~ ~
The two men are caught the next day. They aren’t very smart; they’d gone home, maybe planning to escape in the morning. The attorney for the city, working for the DA, tells us we may or may not have to appear in court, that the judge may allow our sworn statements to be used and so we might be spared the trauma of Macy having to relive this ordeal and both of us having to testify due to our age.
I am given way too much praise for saving Macy’s life. His parents both thank me, and his mother kisses me on the cheek. Very embarrassing.
Finally, later in the day after we’ve been pushed and pulled, asked a million questions by too many people, even a TV reporter (Dad said I could be on TV if I wanted; I didn’t want and didn’t do it) and a bunch of friends, we both are worn out and have escaped to the club. We’re in the coffee shop. We are both treated to giant sundaes by my friends there. They gush over me, too. I’ve been uncomfortable with all this commotion throughout the day.
At our table, I look at Macy, and he looks at me. Alone at last, the first time all day. He could still be in shock, but he doesn’t appear to be; he’s gotten over it. He looks normal to me. He looks down, then meets my eyes. “Thanks,” he says.
There’s such sincerity in his voice, such feeling, that for some inexplicable reason I find myself starting to tear up. Why would I do that? I hate showing emotion! I look away so he won’t see and mumble something about who knows what. I get a grip on myself and realize I have no idea what to say.
I guess he sees my discomfort. He sticks his spoon into his sundae, then waits till I look at him and he grins at me.
“I’m waiting,” he says. “It’s later.”
The mood at the table changes just that quickly. This is more like it! “Huh?” I say, looking lost, but I know exactly what he means and wants.
“You said you’d tell me later. So, give.” He grins again. I’d never noticed how cute he is. Well, no reason to start lying now. I had noticed. How could I not have?!
He is just one of several boys I spent time with at the club this summer, but I’d paid more attention to him than the others. No more time with him, but I’d watched him more. I could tell he was smart, and I like smart. He is good looking, too, and I notice boys like that especially.
I don’t have any close friends. Not close enough to talk to about the things I’d like to. That is my fault, I know. Opportunities were there, are there. I just never take advantage of them.
But maybe, just maybe, this is another one of those opportunities. He asks me about my nakedness with eyes that are sparkling with humor. I can answer that kind of question. I know just how to do it without saying too much.
“Really. You’re going to pursue that? After I saved your life and all, now you want to embarrass me?”
“Of course I do. We’re the same age. We’re both into feeling the same things. I know exactly why you were naked. I just want to hear you say it.” His grin is even brighter.
That makes it easier. I don’t even blush. “You know, then, how you feel some nights? Like there’s this pressure inside you and it builds till you think you’re going to explode. Like you have no choice, you’re not in charge of your body; it’s in charge of you. I get like that, and sometimes I come out here, and, well, wander around a little.”
“Without any clothes on.”
I nod. “As that wasn’t a question, I don’t have to answer.” Then I grin at him. This is wonderful. I’ve never been able to talk to anyone before about any of this. It’s scary to, but wonderful as well.
He is silent for a moment, still meeting my eyes. I’m doing the same. Normally I would drop my eyes. He’s pushing into personal territory. I always try to avoid that. I’m not this time, just being careful but having fun.
“I’m not brave enough to do that,” he finally says. Leaving it up to me whether I want to continue talking about this.
“I don’t know about brave. It’s more that the feelings I have are so intense that I have to do something about them. Have to give in. Those kind of feelings, you know? On warm nights? No, I’m not brave; I’m just way too turned on. I have to move, to do something.”
“Sure you’re brave. You didn’t have to save me.” Now he isn’t speaking lightly. “You could have disappeared into the woods. You didn’t. You stepped forward. You were very brave.”
“I’ve never been. I don’t know what I am, really.”
He nods. “You‘re not supposed to. You’re 14. None of us know who we are. We’re just starting to learn that. You found out a lot about yourself last night.”
He stops. I have to say something. I never talk about myself. Never. It seems I have to now.
“I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d just run away.”
“So now you know that about yourself. I learned something about me, too. I’m too compliant. I should have fought. Yelled. Done something. I’d have been hurt if I did, but still, now I have to know that I give up too easily. I guess I’m a coward.”
“That’s not true at all!,” I react strongly with a lot of emotion in my voice. “You had no choice. And more to the point, we’ve been taught all our lives that we’re better off doing what adults tell us to do, make us do. We’ve learned not to fight them. You were just doing what we always do. That isn’t cowardly. I don’t think you’re a coward. You’re not.”
He smiles without much feeling in it. “Thanks. I’ll be thinking about this for a long time, I know. I’ll be remembering what you did, too.”
I take a spoonful of sundae. It has been melting while we were talking but even melted sundae is good. He follows my lead and eats some of his, too.
After a moment with only spoons clicking on glass dishes breaking the silence, I say, “Let’s talk about something else. That’s enough of this.”
“What do you want to discuss? I know! You walking around outside naked!”
I laugh. “Well, that’s a lot better than talking about what happened last night. But what’s to talk about? I did it. I’ve done it before. That’s all it is.”
“That’s not anything! What did it feel like? Did it still feel the same after the first time? Do you get, uh, you know, as soon as you undress?”
“Nosy much?” I say it with a joke in my voice.
“Okay, we’ll talk some more about you saving me.”
“You win! Okay, well, it’s easier to get naked now because I’ve done it before and don’t have the same fear of being caught now. Of course, that fear is part of the excitement, and getting naked out there now and worrying about being caught doesn’t have the same quality it did the first couple of times, but the excitement is still there; it’s just not as extreme. And it’s still there when I’m in here thinking about it before going out. Then I have to deal with what you called the ‘you know’. I get that way here in the clubhouse, way before I’m out there undressing.”
“Wow. Uh, I’m getting that way now.”
My eyes open wider. “Damn! You’re so able to talk about all this. I’ve never been that way. You make it seem so easy. You’re so straightforward and open. I wish I was, but I’m not.”
His eyes are on me, his sundae forgotten. “I’ve watched you this summer, Lonnie. You’re very
watchable!” He grins. “And I know what you mean. You’re very reserved. You never talk about
yourself. And you pull into yourself when talk gets a little raunchy.”
My heart starts beating faster. I stop spooning up ice cream. I can’t meet his eyes any longer. “What do you mean?” I ask. But I know what he means. He’s going to talk about me, and that’s scary. I always shy away from this.
“Lonnie, I know you. You’re the smartest kid out here. You join in with the rest of us, but also keep a distance. You seem guarded. You never talk about yourself. We all do. It’s natural for kids to talk about themselves, what they’re thinking and feeling. But not you. Why?”
I don’t answer right away. I kinda want to; but I’m scared. “That’s kind of invasive, isn’t it?” I finally say, even though talking to him like this feels so good. Like it’s breaking down barriers.
“Yeah, but I want to know you better. I want us to be better friends; good friends. Best friends if it works out that way. Do you want that? Do you? If you don’t want that, tell me.”
I slowly raise my eyes. “It’s scary.”
I don’t answer. The silence grows, and then he asks in a softer tone of voice, “You don’t want to talk about it, do you? But maybe you want to, too.”
“Maybe.” I think I’m trembling a little. Probably the cold from the sundae.
“I feel the same about some things. It has to do with being 14 and horny. Me, I don’t worry so much. You worry. I’ve seen it in your eyes. It has to do with who you are.”
“I don’t know who I am!” I hate the whine in my voice.
“Neither do I. I’m just finding out. That’s what we do at 14. We learn who we are. I want to walk outside naked, too, but I’ve never had the nerve. But I know the feeling of wanting to. I’d like to walk out there, too. Naked, and with you, both of us naked. Maybe even more than just walk.”
That brings my eyes back to his in less than a heartbeat. “You mean . . . ?”
I take a deep breath. Then, almost a whisper, “Are you gay?”
“I don’t know. Are you?”
“I don’t know either!” Then, forcing myself, really forcing, I say, “I might be.” That’s the first time I’ve even come close to admitting this. Maybe even to myself. It’s my biggest worry.
“I think that’s why you won’t talk about yourself. The whole subject scares you? Or perhaps it’s more about people not finding out.”
I’m silent again, and this time he waits me out. Finally, I hear myself saying, “My mother is virulently homophobic. She’s close-minded about many things. It’s like she’s built walls around herself and can only deal with what’s inside the walls. She lives by what she was taught as a little girl. She wants me in there with her, too, accepting all those things that define her opinions, define her.”
“And so you’ve copied her and built walls around yourself, too.”
I’ve never realized that! Is it true? I’ll have to think about this.
We’re quiet then and go back to work on our mostly liquid sundaes. He glances at me occasionally. I do at him, too, but we seem to be avoiding each other’s eyes.
Finally, he grins then and asks how often I go out on the course at night.
I grin back. “I go when the urge is strong.” The eagerness in his eyes makes me laugh. “Well, yeah, tonight, tomorrow, sometime, I’ll go again. And I’d love to invite you along to show you the ropes, but, you know, Macy, you’re probably the shy type. You seem awfully shy to me, unable to say what you want to say, and anyway, there’s no way you could do what I do, just letting it all hang out, free as a bird. Plus, there’s your mom to think about. After last night, your mom won’t let you out anytime soon. Maybe not for a month, or not till school starts again. And even then, it’ll be only with her holding your hand. I think her being out there with us if we were together would make me slightly uncomfortable, probably cramp my style some.”
He giggles, maybe picturing his mom walking with us, the two of us naked. The two of us aroused. His giggle is cuter than his grin. “She’ll let me go. I’ll make up a story for her.”
“You have a plan?” I wasn’t just pretending to be shocked.
“No plan, but I know how I could do it. When the time came that you were going to go out again, you’d tell me, and I’d just tell her you’ve invited me to spend the night, that you get scared at night thinking about what happened and when you do, you hate being alone. I’ll say I volunteered to sleep over with you. I’ll say I get a little scared, too, and it’s only right that I stay with you so we can keep each other company. ”
“That’s brilliant! You’d figured that out? Wow. That might work.”
Then our eyes meet, and his are sparkling again, full of impish nuance. Not a coward at all. “Lonnie, I want to walk out on the course with you some night,” he says. “Naked.”
I have no problem responding. He doesn’t know who he is any more than I do myself. “I’d like that!”
He grins again. “And maybe do more than walking.”
“I hope so!” I say, grinning back, my heart fluttering.
He gets serious again. “I’ve watched you a lot, Lonnie. I’ve wanted to talk to you, but you’re good at shutting people out. I’ve been attracted . . . I’ve wanted . . .” He stops, giving me a chance to respond, and when I don’t, he continues. “Well then,” he says, his voice different, his eyes doing the grinning now, “I do have another question. What are you doing tonight?”