David Jr. and I loved to camp out in my pup tent behind my parent’s house, the real rugged outdoors. We would take sodas, nabs, my Mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, a deck of cards, a small flashlight, and, of course, our sleeping bags. I never knew what David had planned, but didn’t care as long as it involved just us. Six months ago, when he took one of his Mom’s sewing needles, we became blood brothers. He said that we had to make his Dad’s challenge, “official.”
Burning the end of the needle with matches sterilized it from any unwanted bacteria and offering our thumb to the other made it easier to bring a bead of blood to the skins surface. He said mixing our blood together would make us more alike, even when people kept trying so hard to see us as totally opposites. It was my secret desire that we would become closer. Understanding that blood shared meant love shared to me. Since our first close encounter, witnessed by the whole Church, with his index finger molesting the palm of my hand. I knew without a doubt that I was different in ways that David might not want to accept. And those ways had nothing to do with the color of our skin. Whether we could read each other’s fortune really didn’t matter to me. All I cared about is that it would always include D.J.
This Friday night, complete with a brisk October wind, that tried to topple over the skinny tent poles, found us playing a new kind of poker game. We usually played something simple like War or Black Jack, but we were expanding our sinful horizons by gambling. Money wasn’t what we wagered, though, it was our clothing. David had learned about strip poker at a friend’s birthday party that was obviously without much parental supervision. He said the teenagers were drinking spiked project punch and some were losing their clothes quickly, especially this healthy sister that was stacked. She was fifteen and had a crush on David who looked older than thirteen because he was already over six feet tall. He had gotten the tall gene from his Mom’s side, bragging about his Uncle James who was six feet eight inches and should have been playing pro basketball, if his right leg hadn’t been carrying around left-over shrapnel from Nam.
Selfishly, I was glad that during wartime, soldiers like our Pops created friendships that would probably not normally happen on this segregated, southern soil. That’s what brought us together, me and D.J. And why we were the only white family who had joined the Reverend’s, Missionary Baptist Church, located off Simpson Road in southwest Atlanta. We called Reverend Jackson, the “Reverend,” because he was a small man with huge dreams, not unlike Atlanta’s most famous dreamer. The Reverend had actually worked with Dr. King, before his assassination, as part of an ex-military group who wanted justice at home, after serving their country in such a bloody war.
Both my Dad and the Reverend spoke very little about what they did during the Vietnam War. We knew that it was terrible though by all the sudden shocks and sweaty trimmers that broke out on their faces when a car would backfire. Sometimes my Dad would have nightmares while napping in his recliner, shouting out weird orders that I couldn’t understand. On one of our family fishing trips to Lake Hartwell, our Dad’s both seemed to freak out after discovering the hidden tunnel we made joining our sleeping bags together, allowing us to hide away from our parents, playing cards and wrestling around so that our makeshift tunnel knocked over our tent and rolled out at their feet. You would have thought we had broken some ancient camping law the way our Dad’s pulled us apart and told us never to do that again. We both could tell it was more about their war stuff than our childish game, as our Moms came to the rescue, reassuring us that everything was just fine. Boys will be boys, by the way, they told our fathers.
My royal flushes were exchanged for heated, cheek blushes. Feeling a bit shy about how I compared to David’s more grown up body. Two years separated us and he had muscles beginning to show, long lanky legs and arms, an afro, which made him seem even more like a giant than he really was. When we wrestled around in our bedrooms, he always overpowered me, picking me up and tossing me on the bed, hard. Laughing loudly as I bounced off the mattress and hit the floor like those fake wrestlers always did on TV, throwing each other out of the ring. I didn’t care too much, until we would be getting ready for church on Sunday mornings, running around naked, towel popping each other, until I had the red welts you could see, almost glowing. I did enjoy sneaking glances at D.J., while he put lotion on his dark skin, amazed at how he had tight curls of hair around his dick and I still had smooth skin around mine. Of course, his Johnson, which he liked to call it, was bigger and even had a cap of skin covering its bald head.
So, I became a card shark by necessity. Most of my winning was due to bluffing, even though in the fading light a poker face was practically impossible to see. Or maybe he was just folding on purpose to shed his clothes proudly. I just hoped he wouldn’t want to go streaking around the neighborhood, like a lot of teens were doing lately. After several hands, I still had on my t-shirt, briefs, socks, while he was wearing only one sock and boxers. I guess I was in the lead, not quite sure if the winner was the first naked or the last one with clothes on. He hadn’t made that clear.
It was easy falling for my new friend. He made it so. Reading me like a children’s book, he always knew how to put me at ease when something bad was brewing. Whether we were having a fight with the neighborhood kids or making each other mad all by ourselves, he could fix it. Depending on which side of town we were on, the words kids used as weapons would change. Unfortunately, we heard all of them, “nigger, nigger lover, cracker, redneck, poor white trash, punks, pussies, perverts,” and the really outrageous ones, “clan member, traitors, and married couple,” due to our union, of sorts, at the Church altar created out of necessity by the good Reverend.
Friends we thought were our friends became little terrorists when they saw us together. Trading their innocence and kindness for that adult-like response which tried to make us feel really small and just like outcasts. When this would happen, David used his creative, comedy routine or freakishness as some called it, to get out of fighting. Since our so-called street pals wanted to turn us into something we were not, he would outsmart them and give them just what they wanted. Using bodily humor, D.J. pulled his eyelids out and up over his long eyelashes so his eyes turned ghoulish and then he would chase after the group growling as if he weren’t human. If that didn’t work, he would grab me and place his hand between our lips and pretend to kiss me like they do in the movies. That one never failed, as kids ran screaming and “yucking it” down the street. Little did they know, I really enjoyed this scene from some romantic love story, created between us, to get rid of the mean spirited, “rift raft.”
Of course, if pushed to it, David was the biggest kid around and could draw first blood, taking down more than one fake Goliath with his long armed, double-fisted blows. Harassing words ceased when bloody noses began running into the mouths of kids who thought the preacher’s son was too sweet to fight.
This sleepover was quickly turning into something more than a simple new game of strip poker. We both felt it moving way out of our control. I wasn’t opposed to what happened after all the cards had been dealt and we were left shivering in our nakedness. Some of my trembling was due to nervous tension and not the cold October winds. David felt this, even in the dark, and gave me the older outdoorsman instructions.
“In order to survive this rough weather, we will need each other’s body heat, so here, join me in my sleeping bag.”
I didn’t waste any time snuggling down beside him. And D.J. didn’t waste any time making up a new game for us to play called flesh lighting. I helped him make up the rules as we went along, since our own homemade games were much more fun to play than any other. Each of us would take turns with the flashlight, pointing it to an area of our body which the other had to kiss. Not just a simple peck, but a good tongue lashing, sucking kind of kisses. The only two places that were off limits were our lips and assholes. We both agreed that would be just too nasty.
We had been easing into this experimental expression for several months. When wrestling, a slip of my hand on his inner thigh, brushing against his Johnson and D.J. grabbing my ass when he picked me up and threw me on the bed. Even that fake kiss, which sent other kids running, left us wishing for the real thing, I hoped. We both knew this was dangerous territory and not what the Reverend had intended for our hard work in breaking down the racial barriers, but what could we do when our hormone driven bodies lead us down a path we couldn’t steer away from. True frontiersmen always discovered new ways to get from one place to the next. And our generation was on the move, be it right or wrong.
The batteries soon ran down and the flashlight which was really just a prop, was no longer needed. Careful not to scare the other, we let our growing parts move together until we oozed with satisfaction. I was more surprised at what my sensations brought me than he was with his own. He had more experience with these things than I had. Older and more the wiser was D.J., so I just followed his lead and really enjoyed where this path took us both. There were no winners or losers with this newly created game, but we did break one of the rules, by mistake. Our lips lightly touched together in all the crazy, raucous movement inside his small sleeping bag and as a breather to this newfound exploration, we kissed with tongues going deeper than could ever be explained. David and Jonathon sang a new song that only they could gutturally moan. It was like the original gospel music that touched our spirits and made us dance until we passed out in blissful sleep.
I woke up dreaming and found that I was sleeping with David’s arms wrapped around me like I was his teddy bear. In my dream we were in Sunday school class being taught about King David and Jonathon and as I dozed back to this dream I had a clearer understanding of what that scripture, in Second Samuel, meant:
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathon: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
David W. Bradburn aka dwb42461
(This chapter is from my gay novel, Past Lives, Present Woes, and it is full of boyish playing around and sexual discovery between the two main characters. I would hope that many A4A members have stories of their own just like this to tell. So, I am challenging the members to write their own boyhood sexual discovery stories in the comment section below my chapter and I will pick my favorite. If you are the winner, I will send you a signed copy of my novel to enjoy reading. It can also be found on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble websites, if you rather not write but just want to read. Remember and write and make sure I have a way to send you my free book, if you win, by private messaging me your name and mailing address. I’m looking forward to many hot boyhood, discovery stories!!)