Best Friends Son

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Best Friends Son
Best Friend’s Son (I) Burt’s Son – Part One

He was giving me that look again. Like he did, frequently. Only this time the little bitch had taken off his shirt – so who the fuck wouldn’t look?

And when I say little, I mean big.

And when I say bitch, I mean stud.

But all summer long he’d been giving me that stare, like I was about to jump his brawny ass and he was gonna cold-cock me if I did. Which he said he would, if I ever touched him, which would have disqualified him from the job site, except he was my best friend’s son, and this was a favor I was doing, because ….

Well – dude was my best friend. Had been since the service. His dad, I mean. And we’d been tight ever since, given what we went through in Kuwait and then, at the tail end, right when we were about to exit the service, in Afghanistan.

He’d had the k** between those tours.

Anyway – where was I?

Oh yeah – doin’ my best friend Burt a favor.

I mean – it’s not like I didn’t owe him. I owed him, big time. But we weren’t like that, him and me: keeping a list of chits we had to call in.

See – he was the one that had my back when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still going strong. Motherfucker alibied me without him even knowing I was gay – that was when the Inspector General’s office came sniffing around. That was back when real homophobic assholes were in charge: crazy-assed-Christian-fucks that would run purges on their little piece of God’s Universe.

I hadn’t come out to him yet, but he said he’d figured it out, especially during my drunks. So, when they let me off the hook because my “Best Friend Burt” said that I’d “blacked out” and he’d “taken me back to the barracks” (even though I was railing ass down at the sex club), I knew I had to come clean. He was cool with it. Totally.

“I don’t care what you fuck, son,” he said, smiling at me like he did. “You’re my boy, right? Brothers, like we said.” Then the fucker hugged me like he did: like I was his k** or something, even though we were basically the same age. Big he was – hell, bigger than me and I am not a small dude. He always held me tight when I let him.

“I just wish you’d stop being so wound up about it, Drew,” he whispered in my ear, stubbled chin scratching my neck in a way that pretty much felt like the best thing ever. “You gotta love yourself, buddy. Like I love ya. That’s all. Just – you know – be who you are.”

I know all you cranked-up-cocksuckers that are reading this are getting ideas, and I’ll admit I’ve had a few of my own. But it wasn’t like that with us. Hardly ever. I mean – hardly. There was that one night when we both got fucked up and the next thing ya know, we were making out. That was hot as fuck. I always took him for a ‘lay-back-and-let-ya-suck-it’ kind of straight dude, not a making-out kind of bro. But, that was when I was drinking, so I don’t remember much after that. About that night. I blacked out again.

I woke up with him next to me that morning, me naked, him in his shorts. I wondered what – if anything – happened. He was looking at me again, with those eyes of his.

“Drew,” he said, putting his hand on my chest.

My throat was dry – I was hung over, bad – eyes all grunky.

“Huh?” I said, wondering if I’d puked somewhere – wondering how we got here.

“I wish you’d learn to love yourself, bud. Like I love you. You’re gonna kill yourself – and that’s gonna kill me.”

I just shook my head, trying to come to. He got outta bed and I watched his beautiful butt stroll into the bathroom, turn on the shower. “Get in here, fucker, the only way out of this hangover is through it.”

He shoved me in the shower, and helped me clean up, but he got quiet after that – distant – and I knew why. So when I called him three months later, in a crying jag, from side-street where I’d wrapped my car around a telephone pole, he came to me, dragged me out, and took me to my first meeting. It was a rough go – not gonna lie. But he never strayed from my side and after a few failures, I got sober. It’s been ten years now, and every year, on the anniversary of that day, he calls me – usually he comes and visits, and we have a weekend together, kicking it like we do, him smiling at me like I’m his little brother, though I’m not that much smaller than him, like I said. I’m a big fucker, except when compared to Burt. Though he’s been packing on the dad-meat lately, so now he’s even bigger. Got a bit of a gut on him that I tell ya – winds me up, sometimes, if I catch it the right way.

Point is – Burt saved my life. More than a few times. And you know what? On the field, I saved his. So – we owe each other, but that’s because we love each other. And that’s because we’re brothers. He’s the only brother I ever had – I’m the only brother he ever had – we both come from family’s with lots of girls and fucked up dads So …

So, when he called and was all fucked up, of course I said yes.

“Don’t know what to do, Drew. Motherfucker has worked my last nerve. I gotta kick his ass out, but can’t have him on the street. I need you to take him, bro – get his ass working. See what you can do. I’m seriously this close to killing him, and you know how I get when it comes to killing. You know how I get, Drew. You know.”

And, I did.

It was all I needed to hear, basically.

So I drove up that night, stayed in a shit-bag hotel half-way, got on the road early and was at his house by noon. The k** was sitting in the driveway, on his trunk. He didn’t look at me – even spit sideways while I walked by. The door opened – Burt was there, red in the face.

“Get him away from me, Drew. Now. Like – now. We can talk later – ya gotta get his ass outta my sight.”

I saw the eyes. Burt’s eyes. It was all I needed to see.

“Right, bro. Try breathing, buddy. I got this. Just – take it easy, ‘kay?”

He nodded, trying to maintain control.

“I love you, Burt. So I love him. I’ll see what I can do.”

His fists were clinching.

“I got this.”

Then I turned, whistled to the k**, and got in the truck, waiting for him.

“You gonna help me with this?” he said, petulantly.

“Nope.”

So he threw it on the flatbed, where I’m sure it made a dent, which pissed me off. I heard the door slam and looked up, hoping Burt wasn’t bulling down the driveway, but he wasn’t – he was probably gonna go break some things. He liked to do that when he was angry: break things.

The k** got in the cab. Here’s the first thing he said:

“If you get all faggy on me, I’m gonna beat the shit out of ya.”

That made me laugh.

“Little bitch,” I said. “If you were the last piece of ass on the planet, I wouldn’t let you close to my cock. I got self-respect. You should try that, sometime. Respect I mean.”

“Fuck you.”

“Bad start.”

“Don’t you fucking touch me, ‘kay? I don’t want you hugging me like you do my Paw – fagging out on him – it’s fucking sick.”

He spit out the window and that was the only words we said on the twelve-hour drive back to my place.

Except at the truck stop.

“You got any money,” I said, pulling out my half of the bill.

“No,” he said, trying to be all tough about it, but unable to hide his shame.

“Fucking loser,” was all I said, slamming down twenty dollars too much and walking away from the counter. I looked back, saw him eyeing that extra twenty.

“Don’t you even think of taking that cash, son. Don’t you even fucking think about it,” I growled, loud enough for at least five Truckers and one unhappy businessman to catch wind. I’m not stupid. The k** was an ox. I would need back-up to take him down.

At that moment, Lucille came out of the kitchen. I whistled at her.

“Better take that cash, lady-lay,” I said. “Otherwise “Loser” here will try to stiff ya.”

A big fat smelly motherfucker got up from his table, standing next to the k**.

“He ain’t taking her tip. Not on my watch.”

The boy burned – then turned, and followed. When he slammed the door to the cab I thought the fucking truck would come apart.

“You fuck with my truck, you’re dead,” I said.

And I meant it.

That was two and a half months ago. I put the k** to work on the site (and down the hall in the guest room) and the number of words we shared could probably fill half a page – at least in the first few weeks. He periodically called me a faggot – asked whether I was fagging out on him.

I never took the bait – not once. It was just a far too easy ploy. He was working on an excuse to get kicked out of the house – off the job – and me beating the shit out of him would be a damn good excuse. So – naw. The ‘fag-calling’ didn’t work.

About three weeks in I noticed that the k** had skills. Some of the guys – my best ones – caught wind that he was a special case. A few of them knew Burt so they pieced it together. They didn’t take shit from him, but they took him under their wing – to the extent that he would allow it (which was barely). Even so, he learned quick and like I said, fucker was an ox. So, there was always shit for him to do – even if most of that shit was shit work. But you know – someone’s got to do it. And having muscle on the site is always a plus. Some of my guys were hittin’ middle age, so the less they had to haul loads, the better it was for everyone.

The next week – the week after I figured out that the k** had some skills – might actually be good at this – well, on the ride home from a long day, he said, “You pay for shit.”

I replied: “I pay for attitude, and yours sucks.”

“That’s just an excuse so you can be a cheap faggot.”

One of these days I’ll need a medal for not kicking his ass. Someone make a note of that. I really wanted to drive this little prick right off a fucking cliff in that moment. But – you know – I didn’t.

God grant me the serenity to accept the fuck-tards that I cannot change, the courage to suffer insignificant shit-birds, and the wisdom to not kill my best friend’s son.

“Ask around, ya fucking loser. Ask the guys. They’ll tell ya.”

And that was the beginning of a slight change. Because I gave the guys a heads-up and of course the k** asked, and of course he learned that I paid better than any other contractor in the city. He also learned he was the only guy on site at minimum wage. And he learned that every single one of my crew would have fired his ass three days after he started – if they would have hired him at all – because he was … you know – a fucking loser.

Asshole.

Prick.

Or, as Arnie said, “Bitch,” loud enough for me to hear it on the other side of the project. “You’re a little fucking bitch, k**. And, you’re lucky to be here. Drew would have fired your ass weeks ago the way you prance around here like your God’s gift to construction. You don’t even know what you don’t know, ya fucktard. Ten times I’ve had to pull guys off of shit because all they wanted to do is beat the crap out of you. When the fuck you gonna learn respect? When the fuck you gonna see this is the best canlı bahis şirketleri shot you got – and it’s a goddamn good one.”

“Fucking bitch,” Arnie said, turning and walking away.

The k** just stood there, in the middle of the site, completely humiliated.

Arnie had had enough. And he made sure everyone heard it. And those that didn’t hear at on site heard about it that night at the bar. I’m sure of it.

Of course – I’m not sure if this is what he intended, but Arnie is a sly fucker, see. Lots of experience. Could run his own company but never wanted to.

“Fuck that shit. Payroll. Taxes. Fuck that. Just want to be left alone to do the work.”

So – that’s what I did. He was basically second-in-command but I never gave him that title. He hated titles. “Fuck titles,” he’d say, down at the bar belching. “And fuck you, ‘Boss’” he’d say, laughing his head off. But – he did the best work of any guy on the site … and had respect.

Anyway – like I said – not sure if it was Arnie’s intention, but a week later I see the k** slow-walk up to him, whisper some shit. Arnold just listened, squinting at the k** like he’d never met him. After a time, though, he nodded, and just like that, Arnold had the assistant he’d been begging me for all summer.

Two weeks later Arnold comes up to me at lunch, mouth full of sandwich, and says, “You should give the k** a raise.”

“Calls me a faggot,” I said, in reply.

“Well – I was only thinking a couple of bucks an hour. Maybe three,” he said smirking.

“You making a ‘Queer as a Three Dollar Bill’ joke, Arnie?”

“Naw – I’m too stupid to do that,” he said, choking on his sandwich, laughing.

But, he stood his ground and of course I upped the pay. Arnold doesn’t tolerate fools, so if he said the k** deserved more money, I wasn’t gonna argue.

Driving him home, a week after that, I handed him his check, like I did, every pay period. He opened it – and his eyes got a little bigger. He even blushed. No ‘thanks’ came out of his mouth, but I could tell he thought about saying it. I guess that was a start.

Of course, I chose this moment to discuss personal economics: Meaning that the loser was eating me out of house and home, and starting this weekend, he was paying for half the groceries. That twisted his shit up, real good, given the raise he didn’t get a chance to celebrate. Face got all red. I swear that tears were about to pop.

Entitled little bitch.

“Look k** – you don’t have to. You can just starve if ya want – or go to Micky D’s. I don’t give a shit. But I’m not paying for your meals any more. Out here in the real world, the rest of us actually pay for our food. It’s called capitalism. You may have learned that – oh, right, I forgot. You dropped out. Well – I’ll get ya a book. You can read all about it.”

“Faggot,” he mumbled.

“Loser,” I replied, not mumbling at all.

He lasted a week on Micky D’s before I could tell that bullshit was getting to him. k** had a lot of muscle, see – was a big fucking dude – and Arnie was working his ass off, which was great for his core, but you know – fucker needed protein. You can only go so far on eight Big Macs a day and unlimited French fries. So when I hopped in the cab the next weekend to go shopping, there he was, getting in on the other side.

“Thought I’d help,” he mumbled, making a show of a pile of bills he was stuffing into his too-tight pants. I mean – the k** could stuff a pair of pants, I’m telling ya – but seriously, I wasn’t interested. Not in the least.

(And no – that AIN’T a fucking lie. I wasn’t beating off to him on weekends. I don’t spring for guys who aren’t cranked for cock. Seriously. What’s the point of fucking a straight dude when gay dudes will beg for it and beg for it right?)

Anyway – I just nodded.

“Can we – get some steaks?”

I nodded.

“Chicken, too. Pork chops.”

“Usually, what you do is make a list.”

The k**s eyes lit up, like I’d just explained the theory of relativity to him.

“Good idea,” he said, scrounging in the cab for a pen and an old invoice copy.

I spoke the items while he wrote – as he periodically interjected stupid shit, but what was I gonna do, say ‘no’ to Pop Tarts?

“Oh – and Kool Aid. I like Kool Aid.”

“Fucking Millennials,” I thought to myself, as we drove into the Hyvee.

That night, Burt texted me. We hadn’t talked much. I figured distance was smart. I was right about that.

“You okay?”

“Fine,” I texted back.

“The k**?”

“Asshole,” I replied.

“Ya. Duh.”

Pause.

“He gonna make it?”

“Progress,” I said.

He “Emoji’d” me.

“Don’t get your hopes up, tho. Also – you owe me.”

“Serenity prayer,” he typed.

“God grant me the patience not to kill his entitled ass.”

“LOL” he replied.

Then: “Thanks, Drew.”

“I got this,” was all I replied.

As summer wore on things got – well not, normal – but better.

The Friday night Arnie invited him out with the crew was a red-letter day. He was barely able to hide his excitement as he told me that he didn’t need a ride home. He even asked me to drop by, but I knew this ritual did not need me. There were still boundaries – on site and off – well-structured boundaries. The k** needed me NOT to be there so he could cut loose. And the guys needed me NOT to be there, so they could talk shit behind the boss’s back and let the k** into their cabal. I figured it would be a long night.

“Thanks,” was all I said to Arnie, as I passed him, heading to my truck. “Here – this is for his drinks.”

Arnie tried not to take the bills, but I wouldn’t have it.

“k**’s my responsibility, Arn,” was all I said. “Bonus coming to you, too. You deserve it.”

“Sure as fuck do,” he smiled.

“Get him home safe,” I said. “Straight home. Don’t trust him on his own.”

“Neither the fuck do I, Drew. Neither the fuck do I.”

The k** got better after that. Still couldn’t figure out what made him tick – whether he was smart or stupid – what wound his clock, so to speak. But as long as he was toeing the line, I was fine. Of course, the minute I let my guard down I regretted it. Big fucking mistake that was. The other mistake? Thinking I could take his bullshit all summer and never have it push my buttons

See – Burt had been texting me – leaving messages – asking about his k**. I guess he’d gotten over his anger and wanted an update, but the thing is we were busy, working like dogs, and I figured the less I talked to the dad, the better off I would be with the k**. He was just coming out of his shell and I didn’t need his dad to get in the way of that.

Still, I owed him an update, so late August, as I was about to go on a lunch break, I pulled out the phone and snapped a picture. I figure I’d send it to Burt. The k** gets this look on his face. Then he growls and says, “You takin’ that so you can perv on me?”

I’m like: “Son – I told you – if you were the last piece of ass on the plan-“

“Fucking faggot,” he growled, even louder.

“Had about enough of that shit, son,” I said, stepping up. “Taking his for your dad. He been asking about you –‘

“Bullshit,” he says, knocking the phone out of my hand. “You’re taking it to perv on me – like you do my daddy.”

“Should’na said that son.”

“Watcha gonna do, fag?”

And that, as they say, was that.

See – the problem with the serenity prayer is … well, it just ain’t structured for homophobic losers like Burt’s son. It just … ain’t.

Also – I was hungry. Also – it was hot as fuck. As fuck. So the prayer don’t take all of those factors into play.

(God grant me the serenity not to beat the shit out of an emotionally stunted fucktard, on an empty stomach, on a hot day, right after he calls me a fag for the thirtieth fucking time – all while the little bitch is working on my dime, and barely pulling his weight. Naw – the prayer doesn’t go like that. I mean – sometimes you just got to fuck serenity.)

I decided to beat the shit out of him is what I decided to do, though it wasn’t the most thoughtful decision I’d ever made. It was pretty much split-second.

I was on him. Hard. Quick. The training doesn’t go away. He was big, yeah, and young, but not any bigger than me. Fact is – I had him in height and weight – so he went down hard, but I’ll give it to the k**, he had a deep-seated rage which had been simmering all summer … but when you think about it, maybe his entire life.

So while I had him in size and weight and experience, his muscle was fucking brutal and his rage was worse, and the next thing I know I’m in a full-on, knock-down, drag-out pounding, and while I’m holding my own, I’m running out of steam and this k** is, by no means, running out of rage.

At which point the boys are on us, pulling us apart, Arnie on me, holding me from behind, and about four others guys grappling with the k**, and Arnie’s like, “Dude – Boss – what the fuck –“

“Had enough of his bullshit, Arn – had enough – “

“Cool it – cool it –“ says Arnie, probably thinking about the liability policy – he hated business but was smart about it.

“Can only take so much –“

“What the fuck, k**,” Arnie barked, pushing me away, into the arms of a couple of the crew, who were on alert to grab me. I’m bleeding – from the nose and the teeth – but one of the k**’s eyes is already swole shut and his mouth looks like he’s a Puffer Fish.

“Fucker’s perving on me. Fucker’s a perv.”

“Fuck I am,” I yelled.

“He’s a faggot. Fucking faggot.”

At which point Reginald, who is standing behind the four guys who are holding the k** – and who, to be clear, is the quietest, nicest, sweetest dude you ever met, with the best wife on the planet and five girls who worship the ground he walks on – well, Reginald hauls off and cold cocks the k**, hard, right in the back of the head. k** never saw it coming.

Hell – none of us did.

Reggie is quick when he wants to be.

k** went down like a wet bag of cement.

Someone whistled – one of those long low whistles.

Someone else said, “Damn, Reggie.”

“Fuck,” someone else said, and the k**, who is barely conscious, just kind of blinks on the ground, and you can see the little tweety-birds circling his head, like in the cartoons.

Reggie looks up at me, all shocked at himself, regretful: “Sorry, boss.”

“S’alright, Reggie,” I say, feeling my teeth with my tongue, seeing if any is loose.

“Called you a faggot, boss. I heard him. That ain’t right.”

“Nope,” one of the guys said. Not sure which one.

k** was trying to get up – Arnie stopped him. “Just stay down, k**.”

“Fucking perv,” the k** said. “Perving on me.”

“You perving on him Boss?” Arnie asked, trying to clear the air.

“No – fuck no – don’t do that shit. Fuck – taking a picture for his daddy. His daddy wants a fucking update. Sending him a pic.” Now I’m feeling my jaw. One of the guys puts his arm up under mine, thinking I might keel. And, I mighta – if he hadn’t done that. k** got in some punches – plus it was hot. Hot as fuck.

“Jesus – you know – fuck – internet casino I don’t perv on you guys. You fucking know that. Jesus.”

“That’s right,” Arnie says. “Boss don’t perv on us. That’s his way.”

“Yeah,” Reggie says. “Boss likes gay dudes – not straight dudes. Everyone knows that.” It was the longest sentence Reg had said in months and I don’t mean that pejoratively. He was quiet – like I said. So when he talked, folks listened. All the guys nodded.

“That’s right.”

“Doesn’t perv.”

“He ain’t one of those gay-boys that pervs on ya,” said Seymour, with authority . . . if what you mean by authority is that he’s a full-on-redneck-Trump-voting-gun-toting-Fox-News-watching maniac. But, he lays tile like no other, and keeps his political opinions to himself – except, it seems, when the subject is perving, and he feels the need to set the record straight.

Arnie stood over the k**, who was kind of getting a clue that he’d fucked with the wrong dude, given the fact that they all had my back, and he says, “He ever perv on you, Josh?”

“Nope.”

“Sully?”

“Naw – hell no.”

“Denton?”

“Fuck naw – shit – this is stupid. We gonna get back to work?”

Arnie gave him the look which answered the question and kept going around the circle that had formed, and the answer was uniform.

Then he got to Angelo. Who was last. I thought: “This should be interesting.”

“What about you, Angel? He ever perved on you?”

There was a long pause, while Angie contemplated whether to tell the truth or not – and then he did.

“Yeah. He did. He perved on me early on.”

“See? SEE??? He’s a faggot – a fucking faggot – he’s perving on –“

Arnie kicked the k** in the balls, which pretty much shut him up.

But it also slowed the process considerably, given how long it takes to recover from a ball-kicking, balls being what they are. Anyway though, after about two minutes of writhing, in which several of the dudes expressed various ways that you can recover when you get kicked in the balls – most of which were some variation on “breathe through it” or “that gotta hurt” or “it’ll pass … eventually” or “damn” – Arnie said: “You were sayin’, Angel?”

“Yeah – was saying he perved on me. But that’s ‘cuz I perved on him. Big time. I mean – fuck: look at him. Fucking stud. Motherfucking stud. So I perved on him hard and once we were offsite he perved right back. But – it didn’t work out. So – you know – that was that.”

“Why not?” Arnie asked, curious. Like – this was the one question he’s been dying to ask for a while and now that he had his chance – well, he went for it. Then the other guys chime in and say the same thing: “Yeah – what happened – we been wondering – you guys seemed good for each other.”

I’m like … kind of freaked out that all my shit was out there on the site, but Arnie was in charge and when he took control, best thing to do was step back.

“You wanna tell ‘em Boss, or me?” Angelo asked.

“We’re both tops,” I said, standing on my own two feet now, without any help, using my t-shirt to dab the blood. “We both – you know – we’re tops.”

“We both like to fuck – not get fucked – so … that’s fun for a date or two, while you try to convince the other guy to stick his legs in the air – but it don’t work for the long haul.” That was Angie saying that. The guys all nodded, contemplating the challenges of a duel-top relationship, most of them catching on and appreciating it. Some – well – not everyone on the crew had a PhD, you know? I will say, though, that Seymour seemed fascinated and also relieved. “Well,” he said, to no one in particular, other than Breitbart, “At least neither of ya are the woman in the relationship. Never could figure out how that shit works.” He shook his head (which, while not entirely exploded, was clearly blown a little).

“The point is,” Angie said, “the only reason he perved on me is because I perved on him first, because I think he’s hot. But – that was a one-time thing and he ain’t ever done it again.”

At which point, the k** made his final mistake.

“Fuck – fags everywhere,” he said.

Angie was up behind him as fast as a cat – faster than Reggie’s fist – arm around the k**’s throat and hand though his legs, grabbing his crotch with his huge hand, making the k** whelp like a puppy and begin to cry – like seriously cry.

“That’s the last time I’m gonna hear that word come outta your lips, k**. The last fucking time. I hear it one more time – one more fucking time – I will rip off these balls off and feed ‘em to ya. Got it?”

Arnie tried to say something, but it was useless on Angel – who didn’t take shit from no one.

“And if they prevent me from ripping ‘em off on the site, I’ll come for you in your sleep, you pathetic piece of shit, and I’ll cut them off before you’re awake. Got it?”

“Damn,” said a few of the guys.

“He’ll do it, too,” said Reginald.

“Got it?”

“Uhhhhmmm … yes,” the boy said, defeated now, almost entirely.

Angel pushed him back on the ground and walked away.

“Fuck that loser,” he said. “I’m goin’ back to work. You okay, Bossman?” he asked, looking me in the eye, inspecting my wounds – giving me the care that only a former lover can, showing the rest of the guys who he was beneath the hard exterior.

“I’m fine. And you’re right. Time to get back to work.”

“You know what his problem is, boss?”

“What’s that?”

“Got no dick. Couldn’t feel a damn thing down there. Could barely feel his balls. Fucking little bitch.”

Then he turned, spit on the k** (which was probably going too far, but I’d lost control of the situation a while back) and went back to framing walls. The rest of the guys split up.

“I’m going home,” I said to no one in particular.

“I’ll take the k** to my place,” Arnold said, and I nearly started crying, so thankful I was that I didn’t have to deal with this bullshit for at least a night. Maybe two.

It turned into a week. Arnie and the k** missed the next few days of work, which was fine by me and fine by the crew – though that meant I had to work double-duty. But I needed the distraction. When they returned the k** was docile as a puppy, sticking close to Arn and not interacting with the crew.

He’d made the wrong play. I’d built the business from scratch once I got sober, selecting guys based on my military experience, rewarding them well, becoming their friend. I was there each time Reggie’s wife had a k**. I’d bailed Denton out of jail three times, then dragged his ass to a meeting and been his sponsor while he got sober. Sully missed a whole summer of work while I kept him on payroll, watching his wife waste away from cancer. And Seymour – I’d fronted him more paychecks than any guy on the site.

Sure, they gave me shit – said things about me behind my back – got in my face sometimes, too. But they were my crew and I was their Boss and they had my back when it counted. And … well, the k** had crossed the line. It was unlikely they would ever let him back in, unless something extraordinary happened, and that just wasn’t in the cards.

By the next Friday, I figured I had cooled down enough so I approached Arnold about maybe having the k** come back home with me – but he nodded me off and the k** stepped up instead.

“Drew – I mean, Mr. James – I was hoping you could join me and Arnold – I mean, Mr. Ott – at the bar tonight. For a couple of drinks.”

I just looked at him, wondering where this came from. Then he panicked a bit.

“I mean – I know you don’t drink or nothing, but Arnold – shit – I mean, Mr. Ott – he says you like to hang out and we were gonna go do that. And I thought – wondered – if you wanted to come. Join us, I mean.”

“Uhh – sure k**.”

“Okay. Pizza too. On me.”

Then he turned. Then he turned back.

“Shit. On me, Sir … um, Mr. James.”

I nodded.

I shot a look at Arnold – I mean, Mr. Ott – and he just smiled at me, shrugging his shoulders. I wanted to ask, but sometimes with Arnold it was better not to.

That night at the bar, things started slow and awkward. We ordered pizza. I was famished and I ate, draining half of a pitcher of Coke while Arnie and the k** shared a pitcher of beer, which the k** drank most of. As he was stuffing the last piece of pizza in his mouth, I caught Arnold kicking him. It was hilariously unsubtle. The k** choked, swallowed, blushed, looking at me and then looking at the table. Then he took the last gulp of his beer and spoke.

“Mr. James – I’m sorry. I’m sorry I called you a faggot – and I’m sorry for the fight. You were right to hit me –“

“k**, it’s never right to hit –“

At which point Arnold kicked me, equally unsubtly, and encouraged the k** to keep going.

“Um – so … “, he faltered. It seemed like he’d memorized this and my interruption had gotten him off track. “So … see, I’m sorry. For the fight. And for being such an asshole. Also – for making the whole day stop like that. And the name-calling. I’m not gonna do that again.”

He looked a little lost now, but Arnold nodded, and so he kept going. “Um . . especially since you took me in and all – when my daddy had kicked me out, basically – and fed me, and got me a job, and paid me and stuff. Arnold – I mean, Mr. Ott – he tole me how much it costs for paying a guy and all – what with the taxes and the … um . . “

“Insurance,” coached Arnold.

“And that – and other stuff – it’s like a lot. Like more than I realized. And I figure you been pretty good to me and I been nothing but bad to you – ‘cept I been trying to work hard, Mr. Ott says that’s one thing to my benefit – and chipping in and stuff – only I gotta do more than that. Like rent and stuff – and I will. I just … “

He was lost now, and I could sense the possibility of tears, which was pretty amazing, given the vast well of rage, and I wondered what the fuck Old Arnold had done to the poor k** and if I’d ever find out, but this was as much of an about face as I ever expected to see, so I took it.

“I just … I’m sorry. I really am. I mean – you been like family to me for as long as I can remember, and I don’t know why – why I’m such … such a … loser,” he said, whispering that last word, almost unable to say it, not because it was difficult for him, but because he understood a glimmer of its truth. “But – gonna try to be better. I’m gonna try real hard. And –“

He looked up, eyes just the slightest bit moist.

“I’m sorry. Sir. I am.”

And then he stuck out his hand and I looked at it and I seriously considered not shaking it, given how much of a prick he’d been, but once that consideration ended I took it and I said, “Apology accepted.” I mean – the k** was almost crying. It reminded me of when he was a little boy. Of course I accepted his apology. I’m a fucking sucker for that kind of shit.

“Good,” said Arnold, standing. “Glad that’s fucking over with.”

Then he turned and went to the bar and when his back was turned I pulled the k** up close to my face, and I said, canlı poker oyna “Don’t you ever call me a faggot again, understood, son?”

And his eyes got all big and wide and he nodded. And I made sure he caught the look in my eyes, because I seriously didn’t want to catch that shit from him again but then … well, then his nostrils flared and I saw a fleeting glimpse of … something – at which point he yanked free and said, “I won’t. Ever. Never. Sir.”

For the first time I saw him as attractive – him beaten up and all emotionally lost was a combination that flipped my switch – but I pushed that aside. Arnold dropped two more pitchers on the table, one Coke and one beer, and the night progressed. It was mostly the k** asking us questions about the business and me and Arnie answering, but he seemed curious – and his curiosity was fascinating. It felt as if so little had been put into his brain (or that he had prevented his brain from consuming any data at all) that now that he was open to learning, all he could do was consume.

It was a fun night – an interesting one. And the k** got pretty fucked up, Arnold stopping at around his third beer and just pretending to drink.

By midnight the k** was almost sloppy, and obviously drunk. Arnold rose from the table.

“Gotta split. Up early tomorrow. Have a good night.”

“Wait – “ I said, standing.

“k**’s staying with you, Drew,” he said, authoritatively. “I done my part. Time for you to do yours.” And then he turned and walked out of the bar.

“More beer,” the k** said, swaying while seated.

“Naw – home, son,” I said, helping him up, but not before he sucked down the last of the beer, straight from the pitcher. “Waste not, want not,” he said, belching. Then he pulled a wad of bills from his pants. “On me. Iz on me.”

I let him pay and he puffed up his chest, then stumbled, me catching him, and I grabbed his bulk and lead him out back, to my truck.

I always parked out there so no junkie would break the window looking for toll change. But, it was a bit of a walk and the k** was barely able to stand. At the truck I realized I had to pee so I propped him up and said so.

“Gotta piss,” I said.

“Me too,” he giggled, struggling with his buckle.

I whipped mine out and let it hang – then cut loose. I’d consumed a lot of Coke and needed to go hard and long. I noticed the giggles had stopped, I side-glanced and the k** was looking at my cock, eyes bigger than I ever seen ‘em. He’s stopped fiddling with his pants, too – stuck in time.

“Damn,” I heard him whisper. “Damn.”

I mean – okay … so here’s the thing you cocksuckers (and I mean that respectfully), I got a good dick, okay? Like – a really nice one. It’s a shower and a grower, which is a pretty special combination, and out there, in the night air, given its day-long confinement, it pushed out, engorged, enjoying the freedom.

And, stopping the k** in his track.

“Big dick,” I heard him murmur. And – you know – I’d heard that before. I just didn’t expect it from him. Didn’t expect the tone I caught, either.

“Yeah – got lucky, I guess,” I said, smirking a bit, and winking at him, smiling.

He was stuck. I kept pissing, feeling the relief – but couldn’t shake that he was scoping me, even though he was trying hard not to.

“You gonna piss, k**?” I said, shaking it out, finishing off.

“Naw,” he whispered, turning red in the darkness. I could feel the heat pouring off his face – his embarrassment … or something. “Naw – go home. Wanna go home,” he said, stumbling around the truck, head down.

I wondered if he needed help, but he dragged himself into the cab and I got in the driver’s side, fired her up and headed out, the k** staring out the windshield into the darkness, suddenly silent again.

When we got to the house he stumbled out of the truck. I jumped out to intercept him. “Let me help you.”

“Fine,” he said, stumbling up the walk. Then, of course, he tripped on the stoop and fell into the door, banging his head hard as hell.

“Owwwwfuck,” he yelped, growling and crying at the same time – anger and pain. It was a juvenile sound.

“Damn – k** – you alright?”

I pulled him up and he was breathing hard. “My head,” he cried, huffing. I fumbled with the keys, trying to get in the door while steadying him. He pushed into me, falling again. “Dizzy,” he moaned, beginning to cry.

The door open and he pushed away, as if being too close was dangerous – he did it like he was scared of me – but of course he fell again, landing hard on his face. “k**,” I said, feeling helpless. He was so fucking big – but he was struggling, in pain – fucked up.

“Fuckfuckfuck – hurts. Hurt. Fuck.” He started sobbing now, hitting his hand on the floor, using the other to hold his forehead, which was developing a pretty big bump.

“Come here, son,” I said, squatting down, trying to pull him up. “Fucking loser,” he sobbed, letting loose. A full-on crying jag had started and it appeared that, once unleashed, his pain was second only to his rage. The tears were overwhelming. “Such a fucking loser,” he sobbed, clawing at me but then pushing me away, not wanting me to see his weakness.

I got down on my knees, grabbing his big ass, bear-hugging him into me, his back against my chest. “Son – it’s okay. You’re not –“

“Fucking am – you say it all the time – everyone – Arnie (sob) – Mr Ott I mean (sob) fucking (sob) loser.”

“Aw k** – you’re not. You’re not a loser.”

“AM,” he cried, like a c***d.

“Just a little fucked up – you’re figuring shit out – “

“Don’t want to – figure it out. Fuck it. Fuck all of it. Fuck you.”

He started to tantrum, which was pretty amazing to see, given the fact he had to weigh in at 240 lbs.

“Son – RYAN –“

He turned on me –

“What, Mr. James – what the fuck – what the fuck doyawant-huh? With a fucking loser like me – fucking fucktard fucking bitch? I’m a fucking bitch. That’s what the guys call me – fucking loser bitch.” And then he threw himself into me, sobbing, face in my neck, crying like I never seen a man cry – like he’d been holding it in his whole life – whatever it was.

“Aww baby – baby boy. Son. Son,” I said, just holding him, caressing him. “It’s okay. Let it out, k**. It’s okay to let it out – you need to. It’s okay.

“It’s not okay. I’m a loser,” he said, one more time. But he had more control now. It was more of a statement. He pulled back, looking me in the eye, declared it again: “I’m a loser, Mr. James.”

“No, Ryan. You’re not.”

“What I got that’s good, huh,” he snuffed, daring me to find his strengths in the pile of weaknesses that grasped my larger frame.

“Son – yeah – you’re fucked up. But we all are. Fuck, k**. I’m a drunk. Holding on one day at a time. You’ll figure out your shit – in the meantime, you’re strong. You’re a very strong man. You can work like an ox. You been pulling your weight. All summer. Fuck, k**, look at your body. You’re stacked. Your head – it’ll follow – so will your heart, if you let it. But right now – well, look at ya, k**. You’re a fucking stud – handsome as shit, too. If you smiled more . . . hell … “

He was looking at me. Deeply. He clutched me, then, feeling my arms – my muscles. He pushed into me. It was clumsy. And unexpected. His face rose up –wet with tears.

“Do you really think I’m handsome?” he asked. His breathing had stopped. His face was expectant. I was suddenly getting a clue, but I pushed it out of my mind – I had to get the boy to bed – figure this shit out in the morning. He was too fucked up.

“Get up, son,” I said, pulling him to his feet. But he rose with me, suddenly balanced, using his bulk and his strength with stealth. He pushed up against me, face in mine, shoving me against the door. But it wasn’t an aggressive move – it was a sexual one – like from some bad porno where the guys pretended at being tough.

“Do you really think I’m handsome, Drew,” he said, breathing hard now, body on mine, holding me, pushing into me.

“k** – “

“Do you –“ he cried, pushing into me harder. Then I felt his hardness and his hand groping at my crotch. Then his lips were on mine, pushing too hard, teeth hitting my lips. He’d never done this before, it was clear – probably hadn’t with a girl either. It was sudden and poorly planned and clumsy.

It was just this side of pathetic, but mostly it was needy, in the wrong way. It made me sad to see him so lost and out of control –

“Aww, son,” I said, grabbing his body, hard, trying to take control.

“Tell me, goddammit,” he cried, punching the wall with one fist, which created another keening cry, which lead to the next round of tears. “Fucking tell me – tell me,” he sobbed, still trying to get into my pants, but failing, miserably.

I’d had enough.

I stepped out from the wall, came up behind him, pinned him up against it in a full nelson, and said so.

“This stops here, Ryan. Now. Got it?”

“Daddy,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably.

“Now. It stops now.”

And I dropped him, and he fell, and he kept crying in a ball on the floor.

I went to the bathroom and ran cold water. I went to the kitchen and ran hot water. I soaked two towels. I came back and got down with him, wiping his face – first with warm, then the cold – then back and forth, until he calmed.

Then I got ice for his head.

Then I pulled him up from the floor. He was heavy – non-compliant – defeated – drunk. It was messy. It reminded me of … me.

That – and only that – gave me the strength to pull him up the stairs and into his room. I tossed him on his bed. He was mumbling now. Incoherently. “Handsome. Fucking handsome loser. Faggot.”

I ignored that, knowing he was long gone and not sure whether he was referring to him or me.

Off came the shoes. Then the pants. He resisted the shirt but I won, yanking it over his head. Fuck – I had to give the k** credit – he had a body by God. It was just this side of ripped, but not ripped, really, just heavy and thick and taut – like I liked ‘em. Fucker was smooth, too, which was surprising, given his beard – but then I wondered if he shaved it – if, in his quiet moments, he tried to make himself pretty, unable to comprehend his own needs and wants and identity.

“Fucking loser.”

I pulled him on to the center of the bed, looking at him, wearing only his briefs. He was hard. Rock hard. It was a much more impressive bulge than I’d imagined, given Angelo’s declaration a week ago. His eyes focused on my, covering himself.

“Perving on me,” he whispered, half hoping it were true, half offended by the possibility.

“No, son, I’m sorry for you – I’m not perving for you.”

I did a few more rounds of hot and cold towels as he cried, talked, sobbed and finally – slept.

I looked at him. Felt the pain pouring off of him. Covered his perfect fucking body with sheets, tucked him in and then turned out the light.

But, in the darkness I leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. His body shuddered. He sighed.

“Good night, k**,” I whispered, pecking him again.

“Daddy,” he cooed, sleeping

I crawled into my own bed, trying to figure him out – but the darkness descended, and sleep overtook me. I was dead to the world – emotionally exhausted.

End of Part One

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