CHAPTER 3 | SUMMER 2004 (PART I)
The Beach House
"Tradition is what brings people closer," my father said. "That is why our family has all the little rituals we do every holiday. And that's why your mother and I are so adamant about our annual get-togethers with our friends as well."
Dad was right. This was only my second year joining him and his buddies, but I was already feeling excited. I was happy, and in a way, honored, to be allowed in the club. I'd never known them to miss a year. Dad and I were now on a plane from Minnesota to New Jersey, where his buddy Mark owned a beach house; the location for the crew's latest reunion.
Dad had a few buddies back home as well, but they were nowhere as close as he was with his old college pals. Last year, I witnessed their male bonding first-hand and realized that, even though they were scattered all over the country now, the five of them were still as tight-knit as ever.
Getting off the plane in Newark, the first thing I noticed was the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It drew me to it, and made me wish we were headed there instead of the shore. I'd never been to New York but for some reason I was always attracted to it. Being so close yet not being able to experience it felt like a horrible tease. "C'mon," Dad called after me, and we got through the airport to meet Mark outside.
During the drive, I sat in the backseat and listened to Dad and Mark catch up. Mark was the most successful of Dad's buddies, a New York lawyer whose wife and two kids were still in the city for this week so us guys could have the beach house to ourselves.
Once at the house, the first person I saw was Jeffrey, another one of Dad's buds. He lived in New York as well, so I guess it made sense that he and Mark had come here together. I didn't know too much about Jeffrey, the tended to be the quiet type, but he had a welcoming smile on his face when he saw me, and I was happy to see him.
Beers were open before we even sat down. Same rules applied for me as last year: while here, I could drink and participate in the men's "adult" conversations. What happened here, stayed here. The only person not drinking yet was Mark; he had to drive to the airport again later in the afternoon to pick up the remainder of the crew.
A couple of hours later we were joined by C.J. and Scott, whose flights had been fairly close together. As always, Dad seemed especially happy to see Scott, who was his very best friend. This year, both C.J. and Scott had marital news: C.J. had gotten married, and Scott had recently gotten a divorce.
"I'm sorry I couldn't make it to Atlanta for the wedding," I apologized to C.J.
"Don't worry about it," he smiled and winked at me. My eyes shot toward my dad. He was looking at us calmly, and didn't react in any way.
Last year, C.J. had been the first man I ever had sex with, an event that helped me realize I was gay and come out to my dad. After he had sex with me, C.J. told my dad what had happened. For some reason, Dad wasn't upset. I suspected it had to do with the fact that it happened during one of their reunions. There was something unusual, almost holy about these trips. The rules were completely different from those in everyday life.
"How's married life treating you?" everyone wanted to know from C.J.
"Marriage is fine, it's the monogamy that's kicking my ass now!" he replied. "Kiki and I aren't open anymore."
C.J., with his dreads, pierced nipple, and affinity for weed, always reminded me of a hippie. He and his girlfriend were in an open relationship, but I guess that's changed now they were married. I was happy that at least me having sex with him last year didn't constitute as "cheating."
"I'm glad I don't have that problem anymore!" Scott chimed in and laughed loudly.
I remembered Scott say last year that it'd been three years since he and his wife had had sex. Apparently now that he was officially divorced, he was back out playing the field, getting as much pussy as he could, something he didn't mind recounting to his buddies in vivid detail.
"What about you, Jeff? With that handsome face, women must be all over you," Dad asked. Everyone's heads turned to Jeffrey. As usual, he was sitting back with a beer and a smile, listening to everyone's stories but not contributing much himself.
"I told you, I'm busy with work and other things, don't have much time for dating. Or fucking," he took a swig of his beer. He seemed anxious to change the subject.
I sympathized with Jeffrey, mostly because I found myself in similar situations often lately. I was about to start my junior year of high school, and more and more kids wanted to talk about sex and hooking up, about who did what and whom they did it with. Being a student athlete, this was the #1 topic I was subjected to in the locker room.
I wasn't out in school yet, mostly because... well, mostly because I didn't know how to be gay and be a jock at the same time. I went to a big high school and there were quite a few openly gay kids, but they all seemed to be in theater or band. I envied them and their camaraderie, and the community they were building that I was yearning to join. But, for some reason, that felt like I would be turning my back to sports and my athlete friends, things I enjoyed and felt an emotional connection with as well.
Jeffrey had managed to get everyone to change the topic, so we were now talking sleeping arrangements. Mark's beach house was nice, but it wasn't overly big.
"There's only two bedrooms," he said. "Jeff and I will be sharing the master bed. C.J.'s agreed to sleep on the couch. Which leaves the kids room for Kevin, Scott... and Owen," he turned to me. "Hope that's okay. We've pushed the beds together so you can all share."
That evening we went out for dinner and walked around town afterwards. It was a cute and family-friendly place, but with plenty of bars and clubs as well. While out on the boardwalk, Dad and his buddies were discussing where to go for drinks when Jeffrey chimed in.
"I'll see you guys back at the house. I'm gonna head back for an early night."
"What? Buddy, you sure?" my dad asked.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Mark, can I have the keys, please?"
"You sure you okay? You've been kinda quiet all evening," Mark said, handing Jeffrey a set of keys.
"Yeah, just tired," Jeffrey replied and turned to leave.
"Hey, wait up!" I yelled after him a couple of seconds later. "Guys, I think I'm gonna head back as well," I told the rest of the group.
"What?" was everyone's reaction.
"I'm kinda tired as well," I said. "Plus, you'll have a much easier time finding a bar that'll let you in without me."
They couldn't argue with that, so they let me leave without much protest and I ran to catch up with Jeffrey.
"Nice of you to join me," Jeff said, as we strolled side-by-side along the boardwalk, talking about the town and the summer crowds, until we passed a couple of high school girls.
"They were looking at you," Jeff smiled at me.
"Ah, well," I brushed it off.
"Hope you don't mind but your dad told us about... That you were gay," he said delicately.
"Yeah," I said, not sure what else to add.
"I think it's very... brave of you to do it openly."
"I still haven't done it, really. I'm not out in school."
"And... why is that?"
"I'm not sure. I can't get myself to tell everyone," I admitted.
"That's okay," Jeff reassured me. "You don't have to do it if you're not comfortable yet. You'll be out of there in a couple of years anyway, maybe it'll be easier then."
"No, I want to do it," I insisted. "I haven't found the right time, but there'll never be 'a right time' unless I make it."
The second I said it out loud, it became clear to me. I wanted to do it right away, tell everyone now. I knew it would be one of the first things I did once school started again.
We got to the house a few minutes later. We both had a glass of water in the kitchen, then headed upstairs to the bedrooms.
For the first time, I looked at the twin beds pushed together to make a bed big enough for three men.
"That'll be... cozy," I thought.
I started to get ready for bed, getting down to my underwear, when I heard a knock on the door.
"Come in," I shouted, and saw Jeffrey walk in the room, dressed in a T-shirt and boxer shorts that he probably slept in.
"Owen, I..." he said awkwardly. "I just wanted to say again how brave I think you are."
"Thank you," I replied, feeling the weird energy in the room. "Do you wanna... sit down?" I offered, looking to break the silence that followed.
Jeff came and sat next to me on the bed. He looked nervous, almost like he was about to cry.
"I... I am gay as well," he said earnestly and with difficulty, his voice breaking.
I didn't say anything. I just turned to Jeffrey and gave him a strong hug. He didn't say anything either, and there was no need to. Everything was already said, there in that embrace, with our eyes closed.
I fell asleep early that night. I slept in the middle of the bed, ignoring the gap between the mattresses. A few hours later, I was woken up my my dad and Scott coming into the room. They were trying to whisper and shush each other, but they were being way louder than they probably realized. I listened to them fumble as they took their clothes off.
"Kev! What're you doing?" I heard Scott whisper to my dad.
"You know I sleep naked," Dad whispered back. "And Owen doesn't mind."
"Yeah man, we shared a bed last year, he didn't care."
"Okay, cool. Cuz I usually sleep naked as well," Scott added.
"As you want, buddy," Dad said and I felt him lift the cover and get in bed next to me on my right. A few seconds later, I felt Scott come in and lie on my left. As he did so, his hip brushed against the outside of my hand, and I felt that he wasn't wearing anything either.
In my underwear, my dick got hard instantly. I swallowed saliva, fighting the urge the reach down and jerk off right there. I hadn't had sex with anyone since last year with C.J. I was incredibly horny and having two naked men, one on each side of me, definitely wasn't helping.
"How'd you sleep?" C.J. asked the following morning when I walked into the kitchen to find everyone except Mark having breakfast at the table.
"Good," I lied. I'd slept restlessly all night.
"I bet you did! Looks like someone came in their pants," C.J. pointed to the black boxer briefs I was wearing.
I looked down.
"Holy shit!" I said, feeling horrified and trying to cover myself up. There was a huge stain on the crotch of my underwear. It was dry cum.
The men, including my dad, all laughed loudly. "Don't worry about it," Scott said to me, mouth full of toast.
"Happens to everyone," Dad said.
I could feel myself blush. I wondered if the two of them had felt or heard anything as I came in the middle of the night.
"I'm gonna go grab a shower," I said and rushed back upstairs immediately.
Once there, I went to our room instead of the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I was mortified. I breathed deeply, trying to reassure myself.
Everything was allowed during these reunions, I reminded myself in an effort to calm down. We were all men here. Everyone at the breakfast table seemed to laugh it off. After all, when we were here, Dad and his buds all talked openly about sex, shared beds naked, and felt free to be themselves without shame. And if I wanted to be "one of the guys," I shouldn't let this be a cause for embarrassment.
My pep talk to myself worked and I peeled myself off the floor. I took my underwear off and I wrapped a towel around my waist, going outside to the hallway and into the bathroom.
"Fuck!" I thought as I walked in. The door wasn't locked and the shower wasn't running, but the bathroom wasn't empty either.
"Mm, mm, mm," Mark moaned softly. He was in the shower, naked. On one side, suctioned onto the glass shower, was a large flesh-colored dildo. My father's friend was fucking himself with it right in front of me, his eyes closed and mouth open, moaning out in pleasure, unaware of me standing there.
"Fuck," I thought again, my mouth open just as wide as Mark's. My towel fell to the floor, pushed off my body by the raging boner I'd just gotten.