Evan retreated into the entranceway and wished again that Greg would go back inside. Greg had zoned out on him and seemed oblivious to the steady push of the wind sucking the spring warmth out of them. The slate sky, unexpected dump of fresh snow, and Greg's silence was depressing him. A random scream drew his eyes away from Greg's profile to where a scrum of boys and a pair of determined girls kicked wildly at a red ball. The Patterson kid was in the middle of the mêlée casually bumping the shorter boys out of his way with a twitch of his elbow. Seth had his hands tucked into the pockets of an oversized Green and White University of Saskatchewan sweat shirt. A sixth-grader bounced off of the tall boy and sprawled in the cold muck of the playground breaching the wall of boys. Seth's hands suddenly came free and Evan watched as he maneuvered the muddy ball through the flailing pack and headed toward a chubby Dalton Cannon shifting cautiously between faded orange cones. Evan turned back to Greg "I don't want to drive to Aspen again." Greg shrugged a little as if he did not care and continued to watch the smaller students play. Evan was mystified by his fascination with the elementary students. Evan reflexively made another effort. "Come on over to my place after school, it's been like forever since we shared some shit and played a game." Greg was a different person when he was high; more approachable. A chorus of groans distracted Evan and he watched as a few of the ball players gathered around Seth. Dalton was stumbling around in the hedge searching for the ball. Patterson, looking up from his fans, seemed to falter when he saw the two eleventh grade boys in the doorway. That kid is never going to cave , Evan thought irrelevantly. As Evan watched, Seth shoved his fists deep into his jean pockets pushing them down. The game resumed around him. "What do you think?"
"It's Tuesday. I don't think so." Shot down again ; Evan was not particularly surprised. Greg had been a little out of it for the last week. "I smoke too much" he heard Greg mutter. Evan dismissed the comment and leaned further into the brick wall behind him. Lunch must be almost over. Evan sighed. He had tried just about everything he could to get Greg alone and it never worked out. What does it matter? It was not as if I need a blow job; well not from a guy anyway. He laughed out loud at the thought and it finally drew Greg's attention away from the soccer game. The look in Greg's eyes sobered him. It was oddly calculating. Greg smiled a little and turned back to the playground. "So where is Tyler anyway?"
"Don't know; must have gotten held up somewhere." Anyway, it was nothing much. Two small groupies came up to Greg and started prattling on about Elmo and did Greg like him. He was absently answering their string of questions as he continued to watch the game that had resumed its swirl around the upright figure of Seth, who had remained rooted to the ground, face in profile, a wary eye turned toward Evan. Maybe Seth was watching Greg. The thought intrigued Evan for a moment, but he dismissed it. "I'll bet he's got Deirdre off somewhere."
"You bet" Greg echoed flatly. Somehow it came out like a simple observation and Evan had a moment of doubt. Evan listened to the other boy as he gently disengaged from the rambling conversation with the girls. Greg stepped away from their upturned faces and met Evan's eyes before swing around beside him. He came to rest against the bricks with his shoulder close against Evan's. "Christ, I need... that too" Greg looked at the worn threshold at his feet. Evan warmed to the unexpected confidence and nudged Greg before suggested that he could have one any time he wanted. Beth was obviously hot for the sixteen-year-old and according to Alden Greg was like a tawny coyote amongst the flock in Aspen . "Too young for me" Greg's eyes moved back to the playground. Patterson had begun to move in their direction. They had all heard this before too. Greg made a big deal out of a few years. Evan's mom was four years younger than his dad and they had Evan when she was in grade eleven and he was still at SIAST. Seth passed them with a quick glance that covered both eleventh graders. Evan grabbed Greg's coat when he began to follow the eighth grader through the door and hauled him back.
"But not for Tyler or me, eh; you think we could do better, maybe Rose or Katelin, hmm?" He held on to Greg's coat as they stared at each other. Greg finally leaned a hand on the wall before drawing closer to Evan.
He replied in a low voice. "I didn't mean it that way man. Sure I guess I thought it was lame when I met you guys; sorry, but I get that sometimes, I don't know, it will happen." After a sigh Greg continued "Its just Deirdre and Justine are about Susan's age." Evan let go of Greg's coat and nodded. "It's just a little hard for me to think about it." Evan felt for him. It was easy to forget Greg had lost his sister.
"Right; I'm sorry Greg. I forgot about that."
"No, that's good. I don't need to be reminded all the time. Anyway, don't mind me. I'm no better than you guys really." Greg gave him a glance before retreating into the school.
Despite the cold Evan remained where he was. All the times he had been with Greg and that was the first time he had shared anything close. Being with Greg could be hard work. He ignored the kids on the playground and gazed down to where Tyler was parking his truck. "Shit" he whispered. Aaron was with Tyler. Tyler worried Evan.
Evan was realizing that their competition was different for Tyler . The whole thing had started when they were thirteen and Jason McCallum still lived in Bonner. McCallum had been in their grade and since he lived in town the three boys hung out together when the cousins were sick of the farm. The three boys had shared their explorations in the privacy of Jason's basement room. This pretty much meant pooling their meager insights into puberty and pouring over the scant collection of pornography Jason had hidden above the air duct. Eventually they had trusted Jason enough to masturbate. They speculated on which girls liked them and which high school boys had gotten to third base.
A week before Jason moved to Battleford Tyler confessed Jason had put his mouth around his penis. Evan was skeptical. Tyler described the experience in excited detail and the cousins shared the wonder of the experience together. The problem was Evan had not actually shared the moment and when he thought about it later at home it bothered him. Two days later, surrounded by boxes full of Jason's accumulated life, Evan strained out an orgasm into his classmate's mouth. He told Tyler about it a day after Jason left. They were out riding on their dirt bikes. Tyler never doubted Evan's story. They rarely lied to each other about their accomplishments. That same day Evan broke his arm following Tyler down the coulee south of the Cannon home quarter. Tyler had to ride for help with Evan perched behind him cursing the pain and his broken bike. When the cast came off Evan drove his new Honda XR80 over to Tyler's yard. He also told Tyler about what Alden Cannon had done for him. The game was afoot after that. Each boy taking turns. Evan could not understand why Tyler invited the boys to do it more than once. He waited for Tyler and Aaron to reach the entrance before returning to the classroom.
Greg followed his father as he pushed the cart over to the meat counter and watched as John paused to examine a suspicious pork roast. In the weeks since their drive back from Aspen Greg had reluctantly allowed Seth to move closer into his orbit. Always distant at school, Seth had become a frequent visitor at the trailer after school. They filled their time playing guitar, studying or sitting uncomfortably close on the couch. Their interlude together had become a midwinter night's dream. John was not good with roasts so he settled on four substantial steaks. They did not have a barbeque at the trailer; there was a small one back at the house, too bad. He saw Dan Shultz had yams for a change and took a large one. "I don't like sweet potato, let's just make French fries."
"Debbie and Seth like them. I had some out at the Patterson's." That was met by a long silence. John ignored it and continued to look over the vegetable selection. It was actually pretty grim. He pawed through the bags of carrots wishing Dan sold them loose. Crap, a five pound bag of carrots for two people; even assuming Greg would eat his fair share. John reached for the last decent head of lettuce at the back of shelf. "Look at this Hal. You need a science fair project?" The bagged lettuce seemed to be arranged front to back according to the level of decomposition. Greg grunted briefly and moved away from John. He tried to draw Greg back into the process. "Pick a salad dressing and get some pop." John added a few of the less suspicious vegetables to the cart while he waited for Greg. Greg dropped a case of Coke on his tomato and abruptly broke his silence.
"I was going to go over to Evan's place for supper." John paused with a foil bag of bread. "I'm going to just take off okay?"
"Can't you wait until after supper? Maybe take Seth with you like you did before?"
"Evan and I have plans." John suggested they had plans too. Greg's face was a mask. He could feel the cold anger. Was it so much to ask he wondered? "Look dad, I'm not the one who needs a family dinner , okay? You never said I would have to do this."
"You're making this out to be more than it is. I always invited colleagues over before. Is it that big of a deal Hal?"
"Stop calling me Hal ." John winced at his mistake. "I don't need this right now. I don't need you pushing him at me. Christ..." He watched as Greg turned away. John surveyed the empty store and looked back at his son feeling defeated again. Debbie had warned him this would happen. He had thought that Seth's deciding to join them might mean Greg would come around too. Greg surprised him a moment later by picking up a bundle of green onions and dropping them into the cart. "Okay dad I'll stay for dinner. Maybe Seth and I will go play with Alex. I don't know. We'll do something."
"What about your plans with Evan?"
"It doesn't matter. Look, can you finish up here? I'm going to walk home."
John nodded as he replaced the slimy onions with a fresher bundle. Relief washed over him. It was another small step forward. Greg needed someone like Seth in his life. Susan had struggled in school: Dyslexia. Greg had found time to sit with her. John felt a sharp pang. If only... Greg and Susan might have been settling down over homework right now. Dan Schultz called out from his register to ask if he needed anything. John shook his head. Greg's tutoring the eighth grader was a good thing. As an afterthought he dug out the tomato Greg had assassinated and replaced it with another that was not much better.
Bonner in May was not an improvement. One might almost have wished the heavy snow back. Last night's contribution had either melted into the mud covering the thaw or it was running freely down the ditches. Greg stepped around the lonely sewer grate protecting Dan Schultz's Lucky Dollar from spring flooding. Main Street held the only pavement in a village of muddy roads. In summer the municipality dumped fresh gravel to fill the holes that were already punishing his Mustang. The provincial highway department periodically resurfaced the broad expanse of Main Street. The road was now higher than the side walk and like many of the houses in town; Dan's store seemed to be settling into the parkland soil. Greg crossed the main drag reflecting that if by some miracle Bonner survived a millennium and if by a greater miracle the shy and heavy-set Dan should have descendents, then future Dan would be cutting meat on the top of a Tell. Bonner , thought Greg, could only be improved by a better view.
Greg noticed Tyler 's truck outside the hotel as he passed. It reminded him that he should wash his car again. He had not considered the possibility of walking. His shoes were going to be a mess. Snow still clung to the shade beneath the rows of overgrown hedge. Greg moved off the muddy street preferring the water saturated drifts that sopped the mud from his shoes and left a muddy trail to mark his progress. It was not always an easy progress. Like his life, Greg moved between shade and afternoon sunlight. He had to detour at times because the village was braided with running streams that followed the contours of the land and not the grids measured by the village fathers. Piss in the stream and drink it a day later. The runoff collected in a large dugout north of town. Sometimes you have to follow the contours and detour. Life was not a straight line , though Greg was not prepared to admit that yet. Bonner was a big detour but Zoë kept telling him not to wine about it.
Greg was pulled from his thoughts by the sound of a horn. Tyler and Rebecca pulled past with a lazy wave and Greg's foot slipped into a deep muddy puddle. He shook it off angrily and turned onto the street where the trailer lay nestled between its rows of over-grown Caragana. He stopped when he saw Seth beside a truck talking to Evan.
They had gone back to Aspen together. It had been awkward very awkward. Greg's first time, with a girl, had been something of a blind date. An older friend set it up so he could loose his virginity. Kyle's girlfriend, Mellissa, had a certain status in Greg's middle school as a madam. She maintained a stable of girl friends who served as the school's escort service. It was never quite put that way among the unsophisticated fourteen and fifteen year old boys. It was just that if Kyle or Mellissa liked you, as they liked Greg, then they would help you get a date. Kyle had confided to the fourteen year old Greg that Courtney was a sure thing and slipped him a condom. Courtney had been a sure thing and after the pre-game party Greg had lost his virginity on the couch at Kyle's aunt's apartment. Greg had come away from that experience wiser. He had learned that sex could be very brief; a condom could disappear mysteriously in the depths of a girl as you lay panting on top of her large breasts; and that as the old saying goes, there is nothing immaculate about conception. He learned that in the morning as Kyle attempted to scrub the stain out of the couch cushion before his aunt returned. Kyle had been annoyed at Greg, but the embarrassed Greg had consoled himself with the thought that part of Kyle's irritation was caused by the raw scratches across his back; the result of his own night with Mellissa. Greg had also learned how not to treat a girl after sex. He had never spoken with Courtney again despite their shared classes. It had taken a while to understand why this was so, but he had known it was wrong. Greg knew it had been hard for Seth to return to the trailer the day after their trip to Bonner. Greg had other one night stands and with most he did not care to see them again. Shunning Seth seemed like a violation to him.
It had not been really awkward until the trip home. Greg had avoided toking and ignored Seth's hints that it would be nice to stop at the restaurant again. Greg put a CD on for the drive home, but Seth turned it down and so they had talked until they reached just about the point where Greg had stopped. Then there was silence except for the whisper of the heater and the muted tones of the CD. Greg found himself consumed by the silence so it was his voice that broke it. Seth responded and they resumed the conversation, each sensitive to the moment, but each resolved in different directions.
Standing in the road with one clammy foot, under the knurled branches of an elm tortured by frost and wind, Greg's resolve weakened. He watched Seth's animated conversation with Evan. It was what he said he wanted. Seth was of this community that Greg was determined to pass through. There was history here. Yet it oppressed him. Even in the excruciating silence as the road past beneath them Greg was happier. Seth stood leaning easily on Evan's truck attentive to the boy within. He sparkled beside the muddy truck. Seth was spring sunlight with a smile and he needed to follow the contours of his own path. He had tried to explain this to Zoë. Even so Greg finally exhaled when Seth stepped away from the truck with a shake of his head, replied to something Evan had said and then pointed casually to the trailer before bouncing off to the front door. You lock your door securely in St. George, it's a habit. Doors in Bonner seemed never to be locked. Greg resumed his walk trying to remember if he had locked the door against unwanted intrusion. Seth assumed he had left it open for him.
Seth brought a small overnight bag and a sleeping bag into the trailer and dropped it next to the couch where Greg sat listening to a last minute lecture from his father. Seth slouched in a chair away from the pair. The two adults looked uncomfortable facing the boys. The boys looked back at them with almost identical expressions of disbelief and distaste: Two nights in Saskatoon alone.
Greg's father sprung this on him a few days ago. He had a difficult time dealing with Ms. Patterson for the rest of the week. His father suggested that he should come along and he and Seth could share a room. Greg had been horrified by the idea. He was slowly coming to terms with his father's relationship, but he was not going to share a room with Seth while his father... he couldn't even think it. Greg declined and graciously told his father to have a good time. He thought it was settled until Seth came up to him at lunch. "Can I talk to you Greg?" Greg nodded. Seth was still keeping his distance at school. "Alone?" Greg glanced at Alden then got up. Seth led him to a quiet corner on the playground. He turned a desperate face to Greg. "You can't do this to me dude. I can't go to Saskatoon by myself. It's bad enough I have to see him everyday at school, I'm gonna need to see Tanya if I have to sleep next door to them." Seth hugged himself for comfort. Tanya was the school's family counselor.
"No disrespecting your mom Seth but nothing is getting me in that hotel with them. You are on your own kid." Seth was upset enough to grab Greg's shirt in desperation. He looked like a little junkie begging for his next fix.
"Don't do this to me man. I'm going to freak out all over you if you don't get me out of this." It would have been funny if they had not both been seriously disturbed by their parent's plans. "Let me stay with you." There were a couple of problems with this as far as Greg was concerned and not the least of them was Seth. Greg was conscious of Seth's motives for studying with him. It was getting harder and harder to maintain his resolve to leave him alone.
"Would you're mother let you?" if she did then things were worse than he thought.
"Well she would be worried you were getting me into some party and I'd be up all night." The wheels were already in motion and since it was at his place Greg planned to be so drunk he couldn't stand up. Seth in that mix would be very dangerous.
"Well don't worry; there is no party so you won't miss anything."
"Right; of course Aaron has already paid Clinton for his beer." Seth pushed Greg in the chest. "How can you have a party while I'm puking my guts out in a toilet after dreaming about them together? Man you are cold." Greg stepped back to catch his balance and frowned briefly before glancing at the fourteen-year old. He looked into the boy's fresh face and caved in.
"No way am I going to Saskatoon, but if you can talk her into letting you stay I will baby sit you." Seth stalked off to find his mother. Greg got side tracked into giving some grade five girls under ducks. The girls wouldn't let him go so he was still there when Seth came back. Seth watched him push a last swing. "Well?"
"Your dad said there wasn't going to be a party this weekend so it would be safe to leave me. Mom said I could stay."
"I told you there wasn't going to be a party. So she's leaving you with me for two nights? This isn't good Seth." Seth looked back at him with the same thought.
"We are so fucked on Monday." they went back to the school by separate ways.
Greg listened to the car pull out of the gravel driveway. Seth didn't say anything. It was an awkward moment. "You know where this could go don't you Seth?" Seth looked back at him "Shit." Seth turned his head and looked out the window. "Well I don't know. My dad is going back to St. George and your mom has to find a new job somewhere here in Saskatchewan. I'm probably just worrying about nothing." Seth looked at the trees waiting for spring.
"Would it be that bad?" He looked at Greg sadly.
Seth did not understand. It was like that moment outside the school with Evan. He did not want people to remind him, but he did not want to forget. What chapter was I on? Where did Sue and I leave off? That should have been an easy one, except he had put the book away and the bookmark found its way to school. Trisha was never going to find her way back home now. Maybe she was with Susan now. "It hasn't even been a year yet."
"And I'm not Hal or Susan. I get it." Seth stretched his legs out. He was hurt and that got Greg's attention. "It's been two years for me and I still miss dad. I lost his farm and I'm probably going to loose the house." he looked at Greg. The city boy didn't understand about the land. It had been his grandmother's house and the tree fort in the coulee was first built by his dad. "You're dad seems a lot different from my dad, but when she talks to him on the phone she seems so happy." Seth let the thought hang there.
"No, it wouldn't be so bad. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings." Seth rewarded him with a smile." Come here baby. He patted the seat next to him. Seth didn't move. "What? If I'm your baby-sitter you have to listen to me." Seth rolled his eyes and came over to the couch. "I guess I make Hal sound like a saint. He wasn't." Greg blocked the accident out of his mind. "So I want your advice."
"Should we out this bet thing tonight?" Greg had been thinking about it. It was one way to distract himself from the growing problem that was Seth.
"Then they get mad at me for telling you. You leave and I'm miserable."
Greg poked Seth's thigh for emphasis as he replied. "No, your mom , my teacher, comes to Assiniboia to live with my dad , your teacher, and we both blow this popsicle stand together in July leaving a cloud of dust behind the Mustang my dad bought me."
"I like that ending Greg" Seth whispered. That was Seth's dream. He wanted his mom happy and he didn't want Greg to go away. He pulled himself together. "Just leave it Greg, it doesn't matter." Seth felt content to be part of Greg's life on any terms and he didn't want the other eleventh graders to come between them.
"We let someone win the bet."
"Why?" It seemed pointless to Seth and giving in to Evan or Tyler meant surrendering his long battle. He knew Greg did not want to touch him. That had become painfully obvious, but Greg was talking about being with other people and that left him sick.
Greg looked away from Seth and thought about his answer. He wasn't really sure why. Maybe he was just curious about Evan and Tyler. Maybe he neede reassurance that Seth could turn to someone else. He was thinking too much and he needed a chance to let go like he always did in St. George: be the slut Zoë said he was. "Wouldn't it be easier on you? You said the guys still bug you about it."
"So I'm supposed to do it?" Seth felt betrayed that Greg thought he would suck another boy's cock. Greg didn't seem to realize it had been special to him. Why would he want to do it with anyone else?
"Who would you do it with?" Greg punched him playfully.
Only you Greg , Seth replied to himself. "I wouldn't do it." Seth almost whispered the words praying Greg would relent and tell him he did not want Seth to do it, that he was only joking.
"Who should I pick?"
Greg had found another way to increase Seth's pain. "Alden, because he is your friend and he told me this was all stupid." Seth paused. Greg was waiting for him to answer and he admitted defeat. "Alden doesn't count. He's going to miss you I'll bet."
"Alden knows how to make friends, he'll be fine." All Alden wanted to do was to farm with his dad. They probably wouldn't see each other again.
"I don't want to say." Seth would have picked Evan because he also liked Greg. Tyler had pushed Seth too hard and he thought Greg was a stuck up city kid, which was true, but Seth didn't appreciate hearing it. Greg asked Seth to put away the guitars while he went he went out for a few things. That left Seth with too much time to think about the party ahead.
Greg came back twenty minutes later and dumped his bags on the dining table. He found Seth lying on the bed with his arms wrapped around Greg's pillow. He did not move when Greg sat down next to him. Greg touched Seth's shoulder gently. Seth's skin was hot beneath the soft fabric of his T-shirt. "I just want you to have some fun Seth. We'll forget what's happening in Saskatoon." Seth rolled away from him and ended on the far side of the bed on his back. Greg's hand wavered and then he drew it back. "It's going to be good." Somehow , Greg convinced himself. Seth gave him a small smile. "And Beth will be all over you tonight... or one of Mat's friends from Aspen." Seth snorted a little at that. Greg smiled back and Seth wished again that things were different. "We have some time before Alden and Hugh show up, are you hungry?" Seth could not eat. "What should we do?"
"Let's play for a while." So they ended up taking the guitars back out and for the next hour they sat close together, Greg playing familiar songs and Seth coming in where he could, happy to pause and listen to Greg, happy to feel the familiar touch of Greg's calf pressed against his.
The trailer was packed with young people. People used the two bed rooms for private moments of intense sex. Couples sat in steamy cars. Moving between the kitchen and the stereo meant picking your way through a struggling mass of people. Greg did not look back on the party with any fondness. At 10:00 it did not feel like a success. Most of the Bonner and Aspen teenagers didn't mix well. It was an older crowd because of the weight of eleventh graders from Aspen. Alden and Greg did their best to bridge the gap. The younger Bonner kids clung together shyly until they had consumed enough beer. After that, they helped to loosen up the party with their enthusiasm. Greg watched Seth and Mat matching drinks. Seth finally looked relaxed. Greg wondered what he was thinking about.
Parties can be a frantic Hollywood montage or a single scene stretching with all the absorbing detail of an Italian spaghetti western. It may depend on the quality of the party or perhaps the quality of the substances abused. Looking back, Seth remembered it as a movie frequently fast forwarded. Seth was on his fourth beer and he could see right through Tyler 's sudden interest in his guitar. Seth glanced at Greg flirting with some older Aspen girls. Justine and Deirdre were trying hard to be part of this circle. Seth wasn't listening to Tyler 's flattering observations. Mat abandoned Seth to Tyler. He was interested in the Bonner girls who would be joining his class next year. Paula and Stephanie were interested in new boys too. Seth wondered where he would be in September. "It is getting hot in here." Tyler 's arm touched Seth's shoulder. "Do you want to go for a walk?" Seth excused himself to get a fresh beer. He was feeling good and he didn't understand why his mom thought four beers was too much. Seth glanced back and saw that Tyler had joined a group of rings near the T.V. He was probably trying to think of another way to approach Seth, or he was looking for a blow job. Seth got distracted and joined the swirl of conversation.
The next two hours became a blur with only a few moments of clarity: Sitting in the hallway arguing intensely about the meaning of a song with three girls from Aspen; an electrifying moment when Rebecca touched his crotch when he was kissing her. Dancing in the living room all by himself, or with someone else, he could never be sure later. Greg sitting on the kitchen counter as an Aspen girl leaned into him for a deep kiss; his hands fingering the soft curve of her back. He was in the yard taking a piss when he suddenly bent over and heaved up the beer. It seemed to clear his mind. He staggered a little in an effort to move away from the mess. He heaved a few more times and leaned back against a post supporting the car park. He shivered in the cold and broke out in a sweat. It would feel good to lie down somewhere. He looked at the beer in his hand. He didn't want it anymore, but he took a swig and used it to wash his mouth out. He tossed the rest of it into the bush. Seth turned back to the trailer and went in search of Greg. He found him in his father's bedroom.
Music still drifted through the house. Someone had turned it down and in the dark the few remaining people were dozing or quietly fondling each other. Greg was stretched out on the floor in his dad's tiny room while Rebecca kissed him. He was drunk and her lips were sweet and warm. She seemed to love sticking her tongue in his mouth. Rebecca pulled his shirt up to his neck and scratched at his chest. He let his hand slide into her tight pants and felt her hot skin.
Someone released his cock from his pants and he felt the moist warmth envelop the head of his shaft. Rebecca's kisses became more frenzied and when Greg let his hand explore her buttocks he encountered another hand probing the heat between her legs. Greg's shaft was throbbing. The boy working his cock slipped around and lay with his crotch near Greg's head. Rebecca reached over Greg and pulled the boy's pants open. While she teased the boy's cock into a full erection Greg realized it was Tyler.
Greg suddenly stopped. The girl continued apparently unaware that he lay staring at the ceiling. A coherent thought formed, I don't want this. I want... Rebecca was distracting him; he needed to get out from under the girl. He needed to get away from Tyler and clear his head. Rebecca protested and Greg finally had to roll her off and onto Tyler . Greg sat up and for a while he leaned against his knees and closed his eyes. He ignored them. Tyler sat up next to him and threw the girl a questioning look. She shrugged her own confusion and bent close to Greg. "Greg, are you okay? Are you feeling sick?" She could not get a response and looked hesitantly at Tyler. Tyler nodded his head for her to try again. Rebecca tried again. She ran her fingers through his hair and kissed the side of his face. All she received was a shrugged response. "Come on baby" she cooed "Let's feel good. I want you so bad." Greg lifted his head and looked at her through hooded eyes. She responded by cupping his face softly and covering him with soft kisses. He kissed her back but when she pushed him insistently backward and tried to straddle his lap Greg brushed her aside gently and stood up. Tyler and Rebecca eyed him as he swayed slightly while he established his bearings. His pants slipped down and he realized they were open. "Greg?" Rebecca tried again. His head dropped and then they were left alone.
Greg pushed a couple out of the bathroom and leaned against the closed door. What the fuck was he doing? The showerhead caught his eye and he turned it on and let the water run over his head. Where's Seth? Greg had got so caught up in the party he had forgotten about the kid, no t taking care of the kid, sober up and find him... Seth.
He ignored the water that had splashed onto his shoulders and stumbled past the people on the floor gazing around at the dwindling party. He caught sight of Justine, "Justine, have you seen Seth?" She shrugged and invited him to sit with her for a while. He shook his head and cast about for another person to ask. Alden and Hugh had left with the last of the Aspen people.
Duane Cowan called out from where he was sprawled on the couch "He went outside Greg." Duane took a pull on his beer and let his head slump toward Justine and grinned. Greg ignored the byplay and headed for the door.
He sat on the steps hoping the cold air would wash his brain clean of the memory of Greg. It's a party, he told himself. We're supposed to cut loose. What did that night in the car really mean? Seth had convinced himself that it had been important but what was it really? Just two horny guys stoned in the night.
Evan sat beside Seth. "Do you want to go for a walk?" Seth nodded and they started off toward the dark street. They walked halfway down the street when Seth stumbled. Evan caught him and joked about it. Evan felt warm to Seth and he shivered violently for a moment. Seth thought it actually felt good to lean against Evan's chest and have the older boy wrap his arms around him. Evan rubbed his back quickly. "You're cold; let's go sit in my truck for a minute." Seth nodded agreement. Evan kept his arm around Seth as they walked. Evan didn't want to talk. It would spoil the mood that was building between them. In the cold cab he pulled a soft blanket around his shoulders and pulled Seth back against him. They sat growing warm together. Evan began exploring Seth's body. Seth responded by rubbing a hand up and down Evan's calf. Encouraged by this, Evan rubbed his palm across Seth's crotch. Seth responded by leaning back into him and holding his legs. Evan wasn't sure if he was rushing things. Like Seth, he was getting caught up in the moment and felt his cock begin to swell against the pressure of Seth's back. Seth had a definite hard on so Evan risked unbuckling Seth's belt. Seth panted as Evan pulled his cock free of the boxers. Some of the other boys he had collected in this strange contest with his cousin had continued to explore sex with each other. Evan had no further interest in them. Seth's cock was young. Before he turned Aaron, Tyler had wanted to start on the grade six boys as a way of breaking the tie. As Evan got older the boy's got younger and he had could not connect with them.
You have to give a little to get a little. Evan stroked Seth's cock and played with his swollen head. Seth watched Evan work and felt the older boy's breath in his ear. Evan placed his hand on Seth's belly and jacked his cock with the other hand. He slid his free hand up Seth's body pulling his shirt up to his chest. The tension in Seth's body had given definition to his young muscles. Seth's heart began to race and he ejaculated on his chest in two strong spurts. The boys watched the final drops of semen squeeze out the little mouth. Evan teased the tingling head by smearing the translucent semen around. When he was done Evan grabbed the corner of the blanket and mopped the semen off Seth's chest.
Evan waited. He thought he knew Seth; the initiative must come from him. Evan wasn't sure what he would do. Evan stayed still when Seth twisted down to the floor of the truck cab. When the boy began tugging at Evan's jeans Evan slid around toward the driver's side to give him more room. When Evan's cock came free Seth didn't hesitate. The boy seemed in a hurry. Evan was ready for him and closed his eyes at the familiar sensation. Justine was much more exciting and he fantasized that she was with him; that it was her lips around his flesh. Seth pulled off before Evan came and watched each rope jerk out onto the mat of hair covering Evan's belly. They both began to feel the cold and the anticlimax. When Seth pulled himself up onto the bench beside Evan and did his pants up. The older boy finally broke the silence. "Why did you finally do it?" Seth didn't look at him. Evan thought he might not answer the question
"What do we have? Two months? I'd like to enjoy them." Seth's voice sounded dull.
"Why me?" Seth reached over and pulled the older boy's face to him and kissed it. Evan thought it a gay thing to do.
"You didn't bug me about it all the time. I didn't want to do it with Tyler." Seth pushed him away again. "You should get in the house; Greg is probably waiting for you." Evan opened the door and paused to take the stud out of his ear. He put it in Seth's palm. "I'm not going to wear this you know." Seth commented.
Evan closed the door and headed back toward the trailer. Seth had gotten the answer he was looking for when he kissed Evan. He should have just started with that. It had been a light flutter of a kiss and it had meant nothing to Seth. Seth pulled the blanket around his shoulders and cried.
Greg was sitting on the front step when Evan returned to the trailer. Evan slapped him on the back as he sat down. He wanted to get inside and break the news to Tyler but it would not hurt to work on the city kid for a few minutes. Evan still had two months to work on him. He stretched his legs out and laughed out loud. Greg stared at him. "Cheer up Greg, you threw a great party."
"Have you seen Seth?"
"Where?" Evan heard a hint of exasperation in Greg's voice.
"I've got to run in for a minute. Do you want to have a toke with me?" Evan stood up.
"No" Greg pulled himself up "The kid is my responsibility. Where did he take off to?"
"We were talking in my truck. He's pretty loaded. He might have passed out." Evan saw Tyler watching through the window. He licked a finger and sketched another check in the air. Tyler pantomimed a groan and shook a fist at the delighted Evan. Neither had thought the teacher's kid would fold. Tyler owed him a bottle of Rye, but he would not mind, they would drink it together. They were even again, that was all that really mattered. Evan forgot about Greg and headed in.
Greg walked down to the street and looked over to where Evan's truck stood. What can you say? If Seth had done anything then it was no more than what you encouraged him to do . It was a lonely walk down the street to the truck. Seth was sleeping with his head against the window. Greg ran a finger along the glass tracing the curve of his cheek. He paced around the front of the truck and slid in beside Seth. The closing door woke Seth with a start and Greg's lip curled at the boy's sleepy look. "Hey Greg"
"Hey Seth" The truck cab smelled stale beer and semen. It made Greg's throat tighten and it was hard to continue. He could tell Seth was going to drift off again. "Let's get you back to the trailer, okay?"
"Not yet" Seth settled back into the blanket and closed his eyes. Greg studied the small movements of his face and restrained the impulse to move closer. Someone let out a shrill laugh and he turned to look through the back window. He could tell from the light spilling out of the trailer that people were leaving. He was cold so he started the truck and looked out into the clear night. He wanted to talk to Seth. Explain how he felt. But Seth was fourteen and their parents were busy complicating their lives. Greg put the truck in reverse and backed it up to the trailer swinging it in behind the Mustang. He had to catch Seth when he opened the door; then the boy roused enough to walk into the trailer.
Greg checked the bedrooms and bathrooms for stragglers Evan and Tyler must have helped because there were only three boys passed out in the living room. Greg decided they were better left where they were. Seth didn't wake completely when Greg took him back to the bed room. He was going to just dump him on the bed the way he was, then he thought better of it. Seth stood still while Greg stripped him and tucked him into the bed when he fell forward. Greg considered the length of Seth. He could not resist leaning down to kiss Seth's slack lips. Seth smiled in his sleep and Greg turned away with a frown. The northern dawn was breaking when Greg finally lay down on his father's bed.
Greg woke to the sound of people scrounging for food in the fridge. The boys were trying to make eggs. Greg wandered back to check on Seth. He was still passed out. He had wrapped himself in the sheets, but otherwise he looked fine. Greg straightened the sheets and went back to see how the three grade tens were making out. He pushed them out when they had eaten the eggs. It wasn't hard, as soon as they saw him start cleaning up they knew it was time to go. He let them take most of the Pill with them. Once they were gone he stopped cleaning and took a shower.
Seth woke with a throbbing headache and a painful thirst. He wandered to the front of the trailer and then back to the sound of running water. His need to take a leak was stronger than Greg's need for privacy. He felt bad enough to take only a passing interest in Greg's body. "I'm done; get in before the water turns cold." Greg stepped out and Seth replaced him. The water felt good and he let the hot water rinse out his mouth. The water relaxed him enough so that he could think about his night. He realized somewhere down the line this would become a party to remember. It had been his first drunk. Seth couldn't find his underwear when he stepped out of the shower. He found it on a pile of laundry and decided to leave it. He pulled on some boxers his mom had packed. Greg started a load going and Seth helped him clean.
This was another thing Seth had not given much thought about. The stale beer which constituted the majority of the drinks consumed turned Seth's empty stomach. Seth scouted out the bottles while Greg cleaned up the kitchen. The bottles and plastic glasses were everywhere. Greg made him dump the beer down the sink. He started a stack of empties outside the front door. He didn't feel like eating, but Greg made him sit down. They talked while they worked their way through the food. "So you looked like you were having a good time last night." Greg's voice was neutral.
"I blew Evan." It came out like an accusation. Seth watched Greg for his reaction. There was none. Greg's fork did not even pause as he raised the scrambled egg to his mouth. Greg carefully set the fork down and drank juice before picking up his fork.
"Yes he came in all pleased with himself."
That left a silence between them. Greg seemed so in control. Do you fool around at the parties? Seth had asked him weeks ago. Yes, Greg had said, he guessed he did; nothing much to it for Greg, all part of the fun. Seth wondered if he was stupid for thinking there was more. They washed the dishes together. Seth wanted to lie down but Greg made him clean the furniture while he vacuumed and did the laundry. Greg was not satisfied until the place was clean. Seth finally fell down on the couch. Greg brought him his pants and T-shirt. Seth did not have the strength to put them on. Greg threw a blanket over him and let the boy sleep. Greg looked down at Seth and reflected on their relationship. Against his will he was collecting a responsibility and feeling affection again. Perhaps the knowledge had come to late. He turned back to the laundry and then lay down on his bed.
John could count on Greg to have a quiet Saturday so he thought it would be safe to phone. The boys were watching T.V. together. John let Debbie chat with her son. John wasn't sure where they were going together. Debbie and he appreciated each other. She was smart enough to know it was not John's fault she was losing her job. She didn't blame Ed Marsh either. He watched her talk to her boy. She wasn't foolish enough to think he had been a good boy on Friday. She turned to him and hung up the phone. "Well he still sounds like my sweet little boy."
"Debbie, I want you to come with me to Assiniboia. Your Saskatchewan certificate would be good there. I could help you get connected with the schools. We could share the costs on some place small." he knew he was starting to repeat himself now. "You could go to grad school in St. George instead of Saskatoon ."
"Seth isn't comfortable with you." Debbie hated to say that to him.
"And Greg is angry with me too. Well he will be on his own in a year and Seth will not be in my school in St. George. We need to think about ourselves too." He added a kiss to sway her further. "You know we would be helping the boys out here." he hugged her playfully "Everyone in Bonner is going to know about us when Klein gets back." Michelle Klein had bumped into them in the hot tub. The former principal had seemed delighted. John knew he was in for a rough local board meeting. He hadn't helped his old friend Ed Marsh much either.
"I think I screwed myself out of any chance of a job around here." she smiled at her choice of words. "Seth won't be a problem. The worst was over when we lost the farm. I think I can keep the home quarter for him. He seems to like Greg. Give me a week John. I'll give you an answer next weekend. Let's get out of here. We didn't come to Saskatoon to stay in a hotel room."
Greg went for a walk while Seth talked to his mom. Greg would have liked to talk to his mom too. He tramped through the brambles across the street and sat on the crumbling foundation. It was his own private King Edward Park and he liked to look up through the trees to the sky above. There was a thick litter of leaves and branches on the ground. He had been surprised when old Mrs. Knapik told him people had lived here only five years before. The buds on the trees were big. Despite the last snow fall it was truly spring. If he cleaned out the debris inside the crumbling foundation he could build a fire pit.
Why was he so angry at his dad? Sometimes he found himself blaming his dad for the accident. But maybe it was his mom's fault. Maybe it was his.
Hal was stoned. He should not have been driving. Mom should have been driving. Greg knew Hal was stoned because he had been stoned with him when his mom asked him to pick her and Susan up. He had been comfortably buzzed when the police phoned looking for his dad. Greg had sat in the house bewildered till his aunt and uncle had come to get him. At some point on the drive to the Queen Wallace Hospital Greg realized the accident might have been Hal's fault. Amidst the shambles of the next few hours Greg had found time to feel relief that it had been the other driver's responsibility. Still, there was that doubt in his mind. Hal shouldn't have been driving. Maybe a sober Hal could have avoided the oncoming truck. The world had changed and it wouldn't change back. Greg sat in the cold and cried for his lost family.
Seth looked out the front window and wondered where Greg had gone. He caught a glimpse of Greg's bright jacket across the street in the empty lot. Greg seemed to be sitting in the late afternoon sunlight. Seth grabbed his coat and went out to join him. He felt better after his nap and his mom seemed to feel good about her weekend. Seth felt the connection between the boys was growing stronger through their parent's relationship.
He wasn't prepared to find Greg crying. The older boy was sitting on the crumbling foundation sobbing quietly while the tears dripped down his face. Seth began to back away, embarrassed to find him like that. He stopped when Greg looked up and saw him standing there. "Sorry" he whispered. Greg waved him over with a gesture and Seth climbed over the concrete wall and hesitantly came up to him. "Are you okay?" Greg clearly wasn't, but Seth didn't know what else to say. He was uncertain and out of his depth.
"Oh" Greg said in a shaky voice, "I was just thinking about my family." Seth nodded his head. He could understand this. He looked around at the empty lot. It reminded him of the area around his tree fort where he went to cry about his dad. Seth sat down next to Greg on the concrete rim. He looked down at the ground and swept the debris away with his foot. Greg pointed at the leaves and twigs on the ground "if we cleaned this up we could have a fire out here." Seth nodded his head. They could also burn the block down. Seth looked at Greg. He didn't know what he should say. "It's okay Seth, I'll be fine. So what are they doing tonight?"
"She didn't say." They were both oppressed by the thought of their parents. "She said they ran into Mrs. Klein last night. Mark's mom; She was the principal before your dad came."
"Dad complains about her."
"So does mom. Everyone is going to be talking about this on Monday." It upset Seth to think about it. Parents didn't think about these things. What did she care if he had to look at Greg's father every day or listen to the other kids talk? "It's not fair." He has sucked Evan's dick to get people off his back and now it was for nothing. All they would talk about was the principal doing it to his mom.
Greg gave a half hearted laugh, "You really know how to cheer a guy up Seth." Greg got up and left the abandoned yard. Seth trailed behind him. Seth was surprised when Greg didn't go back to the trailer, but started down the gravel road. The boys walked in silence for a while as Greg seemed to lead them around the block. They ended up at the old United Church. Greg led Seth inside and they sat on a back pew.
The church was a familiar place to Seth. His mother had been bringing him there as long as he could remember. His father's funeral had been held in this church. He didn't like to come here anymore. While Greg seemed to stare at the stained glass window at the front Seth let his eyes wander around the white plaster walls and the dark stained wood. Seth could feel the old people surrounding him. The place was a little creepy.
Greg liked the church. It was the only building in town that appealed to him. It reminded him of the old church his grandmother had gone to down town on Edward VI Street. He liked its simple lines. He realized Seth was looking at him. "Hal and I were stoned that day. He was celebrating. I don't remember what. I thought it was cool he wanted to spend the time with me instead of his own friends. Mom and Susan were down town shopping and dad was doing what he always does; working." Seth was silent beside him. "We were just playing guitars when mom phoned. Dad couldn't pick them up. Well he couldn't say he was stoned right?" Greg glanced at Seth a moment. "So he goes off to get them and I'm trying to get the smell of dope out of his room. I almost shit myself when the cops phoned. I must have sounded like a total stoner. Hal's been stopped I thought, mom was going to kill him." Greg leaded on the old oak pew and put his head on his arms. "It was a fucking truck driver who fell asleep."
"It wasn't Hal's fault then?" Seth saw Greg's older brother as the pattern of his idol's life. They were both following Hal in some way.
"He was stoned. Maybe if he had been straight he could have avoided the truck. See?" Seth understood, but he didn't have an easy answer. It was all too deep for him. He needed Greg to cheer up and help him forget Evan last night and the Monday morning to come. "So what are we doing here?" Greg pulled himself together a bit and smiled at Seth briefly. He wiped his eyes. He was probably scaring the kid. "I guess I must be here praying or something."
His smile reassured Seth and he found something to say. "It's hard to deal with it sometimes." He looked around again. "Can we get out of here? I hate this place." Greg wrapped an arm around him and squeezed him hard.
"Okay kid." They both felt better when they were outside. An old couple in a car crept by as they stood by the door and the couple looked at them suspiciously. "Did you remember to grab the candle sticks?" Seth laughed at that. "Did you want to eat at the hotel? I think I have enough cash on me." Seth didn't want to go out. It would just be fuel for the community gossip and he wanted to have a quiet evening with Greg.
"Let's go back to the trailer. It's bad enough our parents are dating." He didn't want to talk about death and loss. He wanted to experience companionship and the possibility of a new beginning. He could handle school on Monday; he was rooting for his mom now. They walked back together, Seth staying unconsciously close to the older boy. Seth probably knew Greg better than any of the other teenagers in Bonner. He envied Greg's friends in St. George who were older than Seth and knew his past better. It was hard to believe that Greg would care about him once he went home. But then Hal had hung out with Greg.
Seth and Greg were content to spend their second evening together quietly in front of the television. Each one was lost in thoughts they were reluctant to share with the other. Unwilling to face the stares of the community they settled on soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. They worked in silence: Greg crushing the lumps of tomato paste against the side of the sauce pan while Seth carefully buttered the bread and grilled the sandwiches. Greg tried to chase away memories of cooking with Susan while Seth allowed himself a brief fantasy that he lived with Greg and this was part of their normal routine. Seth quartered the sandwiches into triangles just as Susan would have done and he did not notice the tremble in Greg's hand as he ladled the soup into two bowls.
Greg allowed himself to sit beside Seth on the couch and did not move away when Seth threw a blanket over their legs to keep the cold of the drafty trailer away. Seth inched his leg up against Greg's, just to test the limits. Greg tried not to notice. He let Seth slump against him when he fell asleep. He watched television into the night while the northern prairie wind rattled the sheet metal roof and the younger boy breathed softly on his shoulder. He had not been very good with relationships. Nothing was permanent for him and he had smugly defined himself as a universal donor - available to everyone regardless of their type. Sex was where you found it and no hard feelings afterward. Seth was far younger than any of his casual partners. He had been right to discourage his interest, and yet, he regretted setting him up with Evan. He was just not sure why. On an impulse, while Seth could not know or respond, Greg kissed the shock of unruly hair falling about Seth's peace-filled face. Just as in the vacant lot and the church, the shadows did not seem to press so close when Seth was around.