Read Something Like Summer Online

Authors: Jay Bell

Tags: #romance, #love, #coming of age, #texas, #gay, #relationships, #homosexual, #sexuality, #mm, #coming out, #lgbt youth, #lgbt fiction, #lgbt romance, #tasteful

Something Like Summer (8 page)


What
happened?”


What do you mean? Nothing
happened. It was her word against mine, but she didn’t take it to
the police or anything because she knew the truth. It blew over
after a while, but people never treated me the same afterwards. You
don’t know how glad I am to have a fresh start.”


The idea sounds
appealing,” Ben admitted.


Would you still come out?
If you moved to the other side of the country where no one knew,
would you come out again?”


Yeah,” Ben answered
immediately. “Are you kidding me? What would I do otherwise?
Pretend I’m into girls and start sleeping with them?”

Tim only shrugged in
response.


I’d definitely come out
again. It’s the only chance I have at meeting someone else who is
gay. It pays to advertise. That’s the theory at least.”


No luck in the romance
department?” Tim asked with an amused expression.


Not really. Not love at
least.”

A garish cuckoo clock came
to life, the little bird popping out and returning to its little
home seven times.


Jesus, I should get
home.” Ben hurried to leave, pulling a shoe onto the wrong foot
before realizing it and reaching for the other. “Are you going to
be all right? There’s drinks and stuff in the fridge and leftover
pizza on the counter. Should I bring it in?”


Naw, I can
manage.”


I thought I’d come by in
the morning to make breakfast and check on you, and then again in
the afternoon?” Ben didn’t mean to phrase it as a question. He
wanted to say it like it was the obvious thing to do.


Yeah?” Tim answered with
his own inquiry. “You’d do that for me?”


That and a hell of a lot
more.” The words were out of his mouth before his brain could stop
them. The only damage control he could do was a nervously little
laugh, which probably made him sound twice as crazy. “Uh, so see
you tomorrow then,” he said before he made a mad dash for the
door.

* * * * *

The pancakes were the right
shape--round and flat. They were also spongy like they should be.
Only the color was off. The first few out of the pan were an albino
version of the normal brown variety. The next three were almost
black. Ben had no idea what he had done wrong.

He had read and reread the
simple instructions in his mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook three or
four times and had even written down the basics, but these didn’t
look right at all. He shoveled the last pancake onto the plate with
the others and poured a generous amount of syrup over them to
conceal their inadequacies.

If Tim noticed that they
weren’t quite right, he didn’t let on. It may have helped that he
had taken a painkiller when Ben had shown up half an hour ago. His
eyes had a certain glazed look about them when Ben presented his
creation. Within five minutes the entire plate had been cleared and
licked clean.


A guy could get used to
this,” Tim said appreciatively as Ben carried the plate back to the
kitchen.

Next up was Tim’s request
for a bath. This idea had already been the subject of more than one
of Ben’s fantasies the last few days. In them he had to assist his
poor, helpless invalid out of his clothing, place him in the
bathtub, and sponge clean every delicious nook and cranny of his
body. This, of course, would lead to an involuntary physical
reaction on Tim’s part, one so intense that he’d beg Ben for
relief.

The reality wasn’t anywhere
near as exciting. Ben was asked to run the bath before he left for
school, Tim insisting that he could manage the rest on his own. If
this was true then it was also clear that Tim could have turned the
faucet on by himself, but Ben let it slide. The more indispensable
he became the better.

As the tub filled and the
bubble bath frothed, Ben thought of how he was supposed to be in
P.E. this very moment. He felt deliriously happy about missing it,
but he still had to make it back to school in time for roll call in
English class. Even though he had awakened early to have extra
time, he already needed to leave if he wanted to make
it.


Bath’s ready!” he yelled
as he headed for the door. “See you later today!”


Don’t take my car!” Tim
shouted back.


What?” Ben responded
before shutting the front door and getting in the sports
car.

Ben felt conspicuous being
the only person walking across the parking lot when he arrived, but
he wasn’t stopped and figured it wouldn’t matter if he was. What
were they going to do, punish him for showing up? He felt less
confident when he entered the school and found the hallways empty.
Having just heard the bell, he had assumed that first period just
ended. Now it was clear that second period had begun. He was
huffing and puffing by the time he reached his English
class.


Well?” Mrs. Carroll
insisted with raised eyebrows.

Ben sighed. Some teachers
were happy to wordlessly issue a tardy or not bother about it at
all. Others expected explanations and apologies.


Sorry,” he panted. “Just
came from P.E. and Coach made me stay behind.” He doubted she would
ever check up on this. He took his seat before she could ask any
more questions. To his relief she resumed whatever lecture he had
interrupted.


Lose track of time
loitering in the showers?” whispered a snide voice from next to
him.

Ben looked over to the
sneering, freckled face of Daniel Wigmore. He didn’t know how it
was possible, but Daniel had ended up sitting next to Ben in at
least one class every year, much to his chagrin. He had become
something of a ginger-headed nemesis. Daniel was one of those
students who took scholastic competition very seriously. He was
always sure to flash his homework when he got “A’s,” which was
always, and would speed through tests and slam his pencil down,
surveying the class with a smug expression.


Or did Coach ask you to
stay behind and blow him?” Daniel pressed.


Keep your fantasies to
yourself, faggot.”

That wiped the grin off
Daniel’s face. People never expected Ben to use a word like that.
It was twice as effective coming from a gay guy, and more worrying
too, thanks to the whole “takes one to know one”
philosophy.

Daniel turned his attention
back to his obsession with perfect grades and left Ben to mentally
plan when he would skip school again. Technically he could leave
after this class, but he knew it would probably be a bad
idea.

Third period Spanish
didn’t help his resolve any. There was a test that he had forgotten
to study for that he had surely failed, along with a few more
snickering uses of the word
mariposa
whispered in his
direction.

By lunch he was anxious to
go and told Allison as much.


Forget it!” she said
vehemently. “You can’t start ditching me at lunch for anyone, no
matter how hot they are. Besides, your absence didn’t go unnoticed
in choir. You’re Mrs. Hammond’s star pupil. All of her hopes and
dreams are being lived vicariously through you now. She practically
organized a search party when you didn’t show up
yesterday!”

Allison might have been
exaggerating, but she did have a point. Mrs. Hammond was the
teacher most likely to notice him not being there.


What did you tell her
yesterday?” Ben asked.


That you were
sick.”


Well, tell her I am again
today. Two days in a row isn’t so suspicious.”

Allison sighed and shook
her head dramatically. “So what’s going on that you’re so excited
about? Is Tim less straight than we initially
suspected?”


No, he’s straight all
right, but--” Ben grasped for words but failed to find any that
suited him. “I don’t know. I just like him, and taking care of him
is sort of like playing house. It feels real, even if it
isn’t.”


So in other words, you
are deluding yourself.”


Maybe, but better an
imaginary romance than none at all.”


I guess,” Allison
conceded. “I’m just worried that you are headed for a broken
heart.”


Mm,” Ben replied
noncommittally. “What’s up with your heart lately?”


You mean with Ronnie?” A
sly smile crossed her face. “Things are going good. Very good. He
has my class schedule memorized and keeps escorting me to each one.
We still haven’t been on a proper date, though. Speaking of which,
you and I are going to the movies on Saturday.”


We are?” Ben hadn’t
considered it, but this weekend he would finally be free to spend
the entire day and night with Tim. He didn’t want to brush Allison
off for any reason, even his latest infatuation, but it might be
the only opportunity to spend an extended amount of time with
him.


We are,” Allison
confirmed. “At least that’s what I’m telling my dad. I need you to
cover for me so Ronnie and I can go out. You’ll do that, won’t
you?”


Yes!” Ben breathed a sigh
of relief. “That’s perfect, actually. I’ll be over at Tim’s until
late, so my parents will think I’m out with you. If your dad calls
then my parents will back up the story.”

Allison took a final bite
of her sandwich and chewed thoughtfully before tossing the
remaining crusts into the brown paper bag. “Who knows,” she said
with a wicked grin, “maybe we’ll both be getting laid this
weekend.”

 

__________

 

Chapter 6

 

The week finally came to an
end after a series of breakneck starts and whiplash stops. The
mornings and afternoons spent with Tim went by in the blink of an
eye, while the truncated school hours felt twice as long as they
had before. Saturday came and Father Time, choosing perhaps to show
mercy, steadied to a meandering pace that promised a long and
satisfying weekend.

Oppressive humidity forced
them to crank up the air conditioning in Tim’s house. Even the dark
and shadowy den was affected by the thick heat outdoors as a storm
of massive proportions gathered. Ben spent the morning cleaning up
around the house and wrestling with the controls of the laundry
machine. As fun as it was being domestic, he was glad to be done
with the chores and to spend some time with the person in his care.
Unfortunately, the pain killers had once again put Tim to
sleep.

Ben wandered the house,
absorbing the details and decorations that hinted at Tim’s life. On
the nightstand in the master bedroom, he found a photo of a
grey-haired, stern-faced man with an impressive physique. Next to
him smiled a slight and beautiful Hispanic woman, the source of
Tim’s dark hair and tan skin. After considering them for a number
of minutes, Ben set the photo back down next to the rosary beads
that lay there.

As Ben continued to explore
he found a number of crucifixes hanging on the wall, as well as a
small collection of Bibles in the living room. Possibly the
religious items were no more than decorations to Tim’s mother. Ben
could remember one client of his own mother who had a thing for
rustic crosses despite not being religious, but it was much more
likely that Tim’s parents were Catholic. Ben couldn’t help
wondering what they would think of him when they met, if they ever
did.

There were two types of
religious people in the world, in Ben’s experience. The first were
those who let their heart lead them, who chose what fit with their
world view while disregarding what didn’t. Ben’s parents were like
this. They rarely went to church and held a rather idealistic and
loving vision of God that didn’t mesh with the Old Testament’s
portrayal.

Then there were those who
took every piece of Scripture literally. Such people
unquestioningly followed every rule and obeyed every command of
their spiritual leaders, no matter how nonsensical and outdated
these conventions might be. These mindless extremists tended to
make life difficult for everyone else. Ben certainly hoped that
Tim’s parents didn’t fit into this category.

As for Ben, he tended not
to believe in any sort of god or devil. Except when he sang. That
was the only time the veil between reality and the impossible
melted for him. Singing revealed to him a million worlds made up of
colors the physical eye could never see, realms populated with
countless spirits and energies of all kinds. God was there too, a
benevolent being of as many faces as there were religions on the
earth. Oh, yes, when he sang such things were possible, but the
second he stopped it all faded away, forgotten until the next time
he took up his voice again.

A snort followed by a grunt
called his attention back to the present. There was a shuffling
followed by the sound of a Coke can opening. Tim was finally
awake.


Oh, man, I slept deep,”
he said as Ben entered the room. His hair was sticking up in all
directions and was so adorable that it took all of Ben’s willpower
not to reach out and muss it up further. “The house looks nice.
Thanks.”


No problem. You can repay
me by staying awake. I was going out of my mind with
boredom.”

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