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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


Hello! Hal here. Charlie has been promising me a chance to get my 2-cents worth into this story for a long time. But he made me read 22 chapters before he let me write a word! Ever since I read the third chapter, which was all about me and used my name for a title, I have wanted to be able to say a few words! To tell you what Charlie missed, and what he got right.

Remember his comments about his receiving the Most Improved Student award at Rockford College? He pointed out that to get it you had to be really lousy in your freshman year. Well, for there to be a new Hal there had to be an old Hal. I'm not very proud of the old Hal. But I'll have to admit that Tom got it right when he described me as a drip. I really was. I simply didn't know how to relate to my contemporaries, and that fed on itself, making change seem hopeless.

Then early in the camping season, which was going about the same as all of my life activities.... Wait, that's not true. I was going about the same, but the boys I was with, and the counselor, all of them, didn't tease me. They were nice to me. I wasn't sure how to respond, but I felt a different atmosphere than in most groups of my contemporaries. I really liked Charlie.

Well, back to the story. There I was in prison during Capture the Flag and along comes Big Guy-I knew his name was Franklin, but I thought of him as Big Guy-and picks me up and carries me over to where Charlie, Tim and Tom were talking. You would think it would be rough being manhandled by a big kid like Franklin, but he was the most gentle person I had ever known. It was fun to be carried by Franklin.

Then Tom proceeds to tell me I'm a jerk. I knew that, tell me something I didn't know. Did I want to change?

DID I WANT TO CHANGE? Is the Pope Catholic? But that was inside me. Outside was the same old Hal. But here they were, offering to fix me. I sure needed fixing, but I didn't think I could be fixed. But finally they put the question to me. Did I want to try?

"Yes." I could hardly be heard. But I was heard. Soon I was being hugged by Charlie and then Franklin. I was to meet them at ten the next morning. Then as easily as I had been removed from jail, I was put back in it.

What a night! I don't think I slept a minute. What was going to happen to me? Was this a big practical joke? Another way to tease poor Hal? Well, Charlie had been part of it, and I was sure he wouldn't be part of that kind of joke. How were they going to change me? Was I sure I wanted to change? And on and on and on. Morning. Breakfast. 9:30 a.m. 9:40 a.m. 9:45 a.m. If I was going to meet them, I had to move. I did, but very slowly.

Across the athletic field. One step of hope. The other of palpable fear. Then dread. Then hope again. It was the longest walk I have ever taken. Then there they were standing in front of me. Did I really want to become the new Hal?

Very softly, "Yes."

And then it started. Stand up. Speak like a man. Dress like a normal teenager. Run my ass off. Jump my ass off. Swim my ass off. I didn't have time to think. I think that's how I made it. I just did what I was told-sort of like an automaton. Then the magic hit. It wasn't Tom, or Tim, or Franklin, or Charlie. It was running. Running. Running. I couldn't believe it. I loved to run. I still do. It has been my life. I don't know how the two weeks would have turned out if it hadn't been for the magic of running. But there it was. Running is still the same beautiful magic today as it was then-more than forty years ago. But now I am ahead of the story.

The story that Charlie wants me to tell is of my first two competitive marathons: one in Elgin, Illinois, and the other in Boston. I'll start where Charlie left off: he was being kissed by Tim at the archery meet. I am sorry to say that Cedar Rapids wasn't as gracious as the Twin Cities had been. The guy giving out the medal was really put off by the kiss, and there were some catcalls from the people standing around. Instantly Charlie and Tim were surrounded by all of us-there must have been 30, including the group from Des Moines. Franklin was the spokesperson immediately. He faced down the guy with the medal, one of the officials at the meet, and said, "The people in Minnesota are a lot more friendly than you folks. But we wouldn't want to screw up your meet. So hand him the medal and we'll be gone. With Phil beside him, they made a most imposing pair. A stammered apology was followed by the delivery of the medal.

Then one of the other medal winners stepped up and said, "You know, The Music Man paints a very different picture of Iowa. And I like that image, and not the one I'm seeing now. I'm embarrassed. Charlie, Tim, you are welcome here. Please give us a second chance." Then he hugged Charlie.

One of Charlie's friends from Des Moines spoke up, "That wasn't Iowa speaking. That was ignorance. It's found everywhere. Tim, I do hope you'll accept the apologies offered."

Charlie said, "Of course I will. The incident is behind all of us."

It was a touching scene. Soon other wellwishers joined us, and the incident truly was past. But it served to remind us all, especially Charlie and Tim, and also Phil and Franklin, that prejudice and hatred can always be just below the surface. I can't say how Charlie and Tim felt beneath the surface, but on the surface they put it behind them immediately.

As I looked around, I realized that the folks that had actually suffered the most were Charlie's parents. I think it must have been the first time that they had seen that kind of display of hatred, and it shocked them, and made them fearful for their son. But they put a good face on it as well. Charlie's Dad invited the whole Gang-including the Des Moines folks-to dinner at a local restaurant, and we set off.

I was amazed to find that the restaurant was all ready for us, with seating for 35. Tim had organized the whole thing-including the folks from Des Moines-without Charlie suspecting. When the Des Moines group appeared at the match I had no idea that they were part of the plan, already included in the dinner reservation.

Charlie's father was a gracious host. He welcomed us all as a group, and he and Charlie's mom made it a point to talk with each of us individually. I remembered that Charlie had been fearful about telling his parents he was gay. Charlie got most things right, but he sure missed on that one. Or maybe he was right, and it was having the living, breathing Tim on hand that made acceptance so easy. Literally everyone that knew Tim, loved him.

I had a conversation with Tom about my marathon in Illinois, coming up in two weeks. "Tom, gathering the group together today was wonderful. And supporting Charlie is the most important thing that we could do. But we can't have this many people travel every time one of us competes in something above the local level. In two weeks I'll be running a marathon in Elgin, Illinois. Unless something is said, and it has to be something that the Gang will accept, they'll all go to Elgin. Charlie and Tim have already said that they are, and there's not going to be any way to stop them."

"I'm coming too."

"Thanks, Tom. I'd love to have you there. But here's what I'd like to do. I want just the four of you who were there the evening of the Capture the Flag game-you, Tim, Franklin and Charlie. You four are special, very special, to me. You were there at the beginning of my running career, and I'd like it to be you four that are there when I start my marathoning."

"Hal, I'd would be greatly honored. And I'll be there."

I had a similar conversation with Franklin, and he agreed as well. So I banged a knife on a glass to get everyone's attention, and greeted the entire group. "This has been a wonderful occasion. Having the Gang together is wonderful, and I and know that many of you'll be going in the bus to Boston. But in two weeks I'll be running my first competitive marathon, in the Northern Illinois Marathon, in Elgin. There are four people here that are very special to me, without whom there would be no marathons for Hal. They are the ones responsible for what everyone refers to as 'the new Hal.' To me I am just Hal, and I don't share the name with that loser of four years ago. He is just 'the drip.' Tom and Tim, with Franklin as both the enforcer and the consoler, and Charlie as the sometimes needed referee, created a new person, a runner, a happy human being. I can never thank them enough. I have asked them to join me in Elgin as I start my competitive marathon career. I'm asking everyone else to wish us well, but not join us in Elgin. This is special, just for the five of us."

Phil was the first on his feet, clapping, but then hugging me, and saying, "I'm going to miss Franklin that weekend, but you deserve to have him. Good luck in the race."

Sue came up and whispered, "Hal, I think that's wonderful. I'm going to spend the weekend with your parents, and we are all going to think about you and wish you luck through the ether."

I said, "Sue, you can come, and my parents. I just wanted to avoid the whole Gang feeling they had to travel to the race."

"No, Hal, I think the five of you together is wonderful. So do your parents."

"You have talked to my parents?"

"Yes, just now. We think your idea's wonderful. We'll be delighted to join you in Boston."

"I love you Sue."

"I love you, too, Hal."

There isn't much more to tell until the five of us got to Elgin. The race was on Sunday, and we all arrived during the day on Saturday. Tim, Charlie and I drove down from the Twin Cities. We met Tom at O'Hare Airport about 3:30 p.m.-he had flown in from Detroit. Franklin drove up from Manhattan, spending Friday night on the road, and getting to Elgin about the same time we did. We checked into a motel, and decided that the five of us would share one room!

Charlie hosted dinner at a nice restaurant not far from the hotel. It was a time for remembering a truly remarkable summer. And it was a time for me to try to thank them for...everything. I found that it is true that language simply cannot convey some of the things we think and feel. The phrase "words are inadequate" came home to me as it never had before. Hugging works better, but it is difficult at a public restaurant. So we struggled with inadequate words and memories that we could verbalize. Charlie insisted that we talk again about Franklin's and my encounter in the woods, and the guilt feelings that we both came away with. He demanded to know whether either of us were still living with those guilt feelings. I think we were both telling the truth when we said that we had put them behind us after sleeping together at Franklin's home.

We headed back to the motel. As soon as we got into the room, I said, "Hugs can say thank you much better than words." I hugged each one in turn, and kissed them all as well. Before we were done we were all trying to hold back tears.

Soon the mood lightened and Tim said, "OK, its early, we have time for fun. How are we going to use that time?" With that he flung off all his clothes and lay down, spread-eagle, on one of the beds. How indeed were we going to use our time?

I started to take off my shirt, when Charlie looked at me oddly and asked, "What would Sue think of this?"

I said, "I don't think she'd mind."

Franklin chimed in and said, "I'll bet Phil's in bed with someone already."

Tom said, "I'm game, but nobody tells Nancy what goes on, right?"

Charlie looked a little shaken. He spoke very soberly, "Guys, you simply don't treat your partners that way. I don't think there can be any play...."

Tim put his hands up to his mouth to suppress a giggle, which quickly escaped his pressing hands. He rolled over on his stomach to hide his face, and started to pound his fists on the bed. Soon he was laughing out loud, and rolled back over on his back. He looked at Charlie and said, "Gotcha!"

Tom and I had long since stopped trying to hold in our laughter. Franklin was as cool as a cucumber and simply said, "Why is everybody laughing?"

Charlie said, "Yes, why is everybody laughing?"

"Got you hook, line and sinker, Charlie," said Tim. "Nobody's going to do anything behind their partner's back. Tell him Hal."

I said, "Charlie, as soon as Tina heard my invitation to you four to join me this weekend she went into action. She talked to Sue and said, "Sue, those boys are the sexiest bunch you could possibly put together. But they won't do anything without their partners. You and Nancy and Phil need to give them permission before they go. Not permission, active encouragement."

I reported that Sue had answered, "Tina, you're right. Thanks for the nudge. We might have needed it. You talk to Phil and I'll talk to Nancy." They both did.

I continued, "Charlie, I'm not sure which boy decided to try to fool you, but it worked. We all agreed that we wouldn't say anything to you about sex in advance, and then would pretend not to have talked to our partners. Tim was brought into the plot and agreed to start the sex the way he did. As Tim said, you swallowed it hook, line and sinker."

Charlie replied, "I ought to...." With that he grabbed Tim and started to tickle him. Tim was laughing as Franklin, by now naked, came to the rescue

picking Charlie up and dumping him on the second bed.

Tim said, "Everybody help me strip Charlie." His clothes didn't last long. Then Tim said, "OK, what's next?"

Franklin looked at me and said, "This is Hal's weekend. It's up to him." Quickly four pairs of eyes were staring at me, glancing back and forth between my eyes and my genitals. They were clearly expecting me to speak. But I was caught flatfooted. We had all (but Charlie) talked about having sex

together-it had been the subject of several phone calls, as well as talks with our partners. We had planned our little joke on Charlie, but hadn't thought at all about where we would go from there. I admitted as much, and it soon was clear that everyone else was as lost as I was. Where did five boys go from here?

Franklin was still half on top of Charlie from when we had stripped him. He simply leaned over and said, "I know where I'm going," and took Charlie's whole genitalia in his mouth.

Tim pushed Tom over to Charlie and said, "Kiss him."

I came over and sort of hugged him, but there wasn't much room for me. Tim just smiled and watched. Charlie lay back and seemed totally contented, but quickly was arching and jumping in excitement. It was clear that Franklin had no intention of giving him any relief, so Tom and I just sort of held on. Tom moved lower on his body, and I kissed him, driving my tongue in as deep as I could. With one wild jerk he clearly came; pushed me off him, and said, "Franklin, stop, please!" Franklin slowly opened his mouth, allowing Charlie's balls to pop out, and then quickly held his dick while it softened. Then Franklin came up the bed, lay beside Charlie and hugged him in a Franklinesque bear hug. Charlie seemed totally contented. Finally he simply said, "Thank you. Thank all of you."

Tim said, "You're welcome."

Franklin moved over to the bed with Tim and said, "You're next." Getting everything of Tim's in his mouth was no challenge for Franklin, but Tim obviously loved it. Charlie and Tom helped, and I watched from the other bed. Things went pretty much as they had with Charlie, except that Charlie was kissing Tim and wouldn't let go, so he couldn't ask for mercy after his climax. But Tim never seemed to mind having things done to him, certainly not if Charlie was involved. It ended with Charlie and Tim in a mad embrace that seemed to go on forever.

Tom was Franklin's next target, and he pretty much followed in the footsteps of the previous two. I was kissing him when he had his climax, and I let him speak. But he remained silent and arched and bucked without asking for relief. Finally he just fell still on the bed, clearly content.

Charlie said, "It's going to take all four of us for Franklin. As it turned out, we took turns sucking Franklin and doing other things. Franklin didn't arch and thrash as the rest had. He just lay there completely content. I was sucking him when he came, and he immediately grabbed me and pulled me up and kissed me. Driving his tongue deep, his tongue demanded that his cum be shared, and it was. He held me a long time, clearly affirming what we had both known-there is a special bond between us.

He slowly let me go, and as we parted he reached down and kissed my penis, taking it into his mouth. I said, "Please, Franklin, please." Very gently his tongue licked my entire genitals. He worked in behind my balls, spread my cheeks, and licked my anus; then back to my penis. He was all over me. How a man of that size can be as gentle as he is I'll never know. The others seemed to sense that they should let the two of us enjoy the moment-they simply watched from the other bed. When I came, Franklin moved to kiss me, signaling the others to join in. I was kissed on the mouth by Franklin and on every other part of my body by the other three. I hugged Franklin as hard as I could. I turned on my side and got Franklin spooned behind me. I pulled Charlie in front of me; Tom came in front of Charlie, and Tim in front of Tom. Franklin slipped out of the bed, arranged covers over us, turned out the light, slipped back in behind me, and without anything else being said we all went to sleep-or at least pretended to.

I would love to say that we slept like that all night. But it was less than an hour before full bladders and the obvious impossibility of sleep with five in one bed, even queen size, made continued efforts at sleep impossible. Charlie and Tim took the other bed and the three of us stayed where we were. Now we slept soundly until the 5:00 a.m. wake-up call.

The next day was a whirl. Five of us had to shower. We sort of rotated through, with two at a time the norm. We washed each other gleefully, but that was all the time that we had for "play." I needed a decent breakfast, so we stopped at the Blue Ribbon Diner that had been recommended by the motel. It was good, and I ate well. We discussed the logistics of the race. The four of them were going to spread out along the route to watch me pass and convey any important information on a sign board. My goal was to run a fast enough race to qualify for Boston. I was sure that I could beat three hours, and that was better than the 3:10 that I needed for qualification.

Tim suggested that I might very well be able to win this race, based on my practice times. I replied that I was running only against myself and my time. I would push a pace a little faster than three hours and see what happened.

The race went well, more or less as expected. I pushed a little harder than I had anticipated, with no problems, and finished in 2:47:17, a very respectable time. I was fifth. As I came down to the last mile I knew I was in seventh place. There were two runners close in front of me that I knew I would pass. Farther ahead was a pack of four that were leading the race. I knew that I had two choices: I could win the race if I put on a great burst of speed. I had the reserve energy to do it. But it wasn't my style. I would arrive at the finish line exhausted, perhaps falling down.

My other choice was to maintain my pace. It was clear that if I did I would finish fifth. But I would cross the line with my reserves intact. I would be able to stand up, catch my breath fairly easily, drink replacement fluid, hug Franklin and the others, and casually walk away. Probably the only runner in the front twenty-five that could do that. If I really wanted to show off, I could run another mile. Or wait an hour and run another marathon. That was the real Hal. That was the race I ran.

The funny thing about it was that the race officials watched me as I finished and suspected that I had cheated and not run the full race. They got on the telephone and called the check points. I was clocked at every one, of course. The guy that finished nineteenth had run with me much of the way, and he assured them that I had run the whole race-that is after he had recovered enough to be able to talk!

Tom had Polaroid pictures of me at several points along the route which he immediately showed to the officials. The question of my cheating was quickly disposed of, but then everyone wanted to know why I wasn't exhausted. You can't win. I simply said that I conserved my energy so that I wouldn't be exhausted at the end. Well, could I have pressed harder and won? No way was I going to answer that question! I just smiled, pointed to the winner, and said, "Jim crossed the finish line first. He won. I was fifth. Let the record show that, not the idle speculations of either another runner or bystanders." By this time Jim was fairly well recovered, and I congratulated him, and the other three that had beaten me. It turned out that we were all planning to run in Boston. Perhaps we would meet again.

Then someone asked my age. Well, I just turned eighteen in January. "Eighteen? And you are running a marathon in 2:47!" All of a sudden I was the potential subject of a newspaper article. Then someone remembered a story in Running magazine about my success in cross country in St. Paul. Questions flew fast and furiously then. Soon Tim tried to come to my rescue and take me to dinner-which I sorely needed. But he was recognized. I was a friend of Tim's? How had we met? How long had we known each other? Then Charlie was spotted. By now about a half dozen writers were taking notes and it was almost getting out of control.

Tim took charge, bless him. "OK, folks. Hal just ran 26 miles. He's tired, needs to sit down. Needs food. Tell us where we should eat."

One young reporter-he looked to be about my age-very nicely suggested a place called Pedro's, very close by. Tim said, "Good. Pedro's it is. In and hour and a half we'll finish dinner at Pedro's and will answer questions in the parking lot. Any reporter that comes into the restaurant will be excluded from the question and answer session-no exceptions."

It was a good dinner, free of questions. I thanked Tim for his help, and he simply noted that he had had to deal with reporters all too often, and you needed to make sure you, not they, were in charge. With Tim there was never any doubt who was in charge. When I said that, Franklin cut in, "Charlie, of course." We all laughed.

When we stepped outside, promptly at the hour and a half mark, there were only three reporters, the young man who had suggested Pedro's and two older men. The two older reporters virtually ignored the young man, and popped questions at us, mostly directed to Tim. I didn't mind, Tim was certainly the most newsworthy of our group. But Tim was clearly annoyed. He told the reporters, "Look, Hal just ran a race, did extraordinarily well; I didn't do anything but cheer him on, and all you want to do is ask me questions."

I saw Franklin signal to the young man to come with him. He reluctantly left the group, where he had been carefully taking notes. But Franklin is quite intimidating just by standing there towering over you, and he followed Franklin. They chatted for a while and then the young man left. Franklin turned back toward Tim and gave a "cut" signal. Tim looked at me and said, "Hal, I think we have talked long enough, what do you think?"

I can take a hint as well as anybody, and I quickly agreed. We were soon in our car, five strong, heading to the motel. Franklin said, "The young man is Bill Manley, a reporter for the local high school paper. Very pleasant, well-spoken, polite. He resents being ignored by the big guys. I told him to come by the motel at four o'clock; I'd meet him in the lobby. I told him I thought I could arrange a nice interview. Bill's smile was so broad it almost split his face, but he controlled himself and just said, 'Thanks, I'd really appreciate that.'"

I walked down to the lobby at four, and there was Bill Manley, notebook, camera, and tape recorder in hand. I greeted him and invited him up to our room. He came in, and I introduced him to the other four. It was obvious that he was trying to maintain a "professional" demeanor, while splitting inside with the excitement of having a private interview with us-especially Tim and Charlie. But Bill wasn't stupid; in fact, he was quite smart. He remembered that Tim had been quite upset at the reporters ignoring me and concentrating on Tim. Bill made no such mistake. When he got seated and was ready to ask questions he focused on me. First, did I mind him using a tape recorder. Tim jumped in on that question, "Bill, you can tape the interview. But you have to agree to use the tape as notes and not sell or duplicate it-you can duplicate a back-up copy. And you can keep it as a souvenir, but that's it. And we'll need that in writing."

Bill had no problem with that and turned on the tape. He was a good interviewer, and really asked a lot of intelligent questions. After about fifteen minutes, Tim interrupted and asked if he and I could talk in private. The only private spot was the bathroom, so that's where we went. Tim said, "Hal, I like this kid. He reminds me of Mike. You've never really told the old Hal/new Hal story to the public. He'll write it, print it, make copies available for you. It might be fun, and it'll be a real coup for Bill."

"Tim, you really like doing things like that for nice people don't you?"

"Yes, I do. And I like Bill. But it's up to you."

"Let's do it."

"Tom should be the major story teller."


We went back to the room. I said, "Bill, the five of us are going to tell you a story. It's mostly about me, but also about all of us, and three others at Camp White Elk in Michigan. This is on the record, and you can write the story if you would like to."

Bill said, "I sense that you are about to give me a huge gift. I'll do my best to retell your story right."

Tim said, "Tom's going to start, and the rest of us will chime in."

Well, you know the story. I am certainly not going to repeat it here. It was the story of the new Hal, the Gang, Tim and Charlie, and three Olympic hopefuls. Tape recorder running Bill sat spellbound for over an hour. He asked a question now and then, but basically let the story roll.

When we were done it was time for dinner. It was tempting to invite Bill to eat with us, but I sensed that the five of us wanted to be alone for dinner and the evening. I invited Bill to join us for breakfast at the Blue Ribbon. Six a.m. He assured us that he would be prompt. Then he asked if he could take some pictures of us.

Tim said, "Not in the bedroom. Let's all walk down to the lobby. He took a number of shots of the group and of us individually. He spent the most time taking a picture of me, Tim and Charlie!

Dinner was at a simple café near the motel. At dinner Tim said, "I love sleeping with Charlie, but I do that every night. Tonight I want to sleep with someone else. Who's game?"

To my surprise Tom spoke up, "I am. We are the closest in size, and I would love to sleep with you tonight."

Tim said, "And I would love to sleep with you."

Franklin said, "Great, put the two smallest kids in a bed together, and leave the three big guys to share the other bed!"

Tim said, "Tough shit, Franklin; you should have spoken up sooner."

Charlie said, "We got five in last night, we'll handle three tonight."

I don't know what Tim and Tom did in the bed that night, but I know that Franklin, Charlie and I hugged each other, but were so tired that we fell asleep before we could do anything else. The wake up call in the morning didn't allow time for "play" either. Oh, well. The Gang was getting together more frequently now, there would be plenty of other times.

Bill met us for breakfast, insisting that we were his guests. We protested, but it was clear that was going to be useless. Buy the damn shoes. Bill told us his plans for his story. "Look, I have to tie this into Elgin High School. I can't just write a story about a runner from Minneapolis and his friends-even if they are very special friends. So I am going to write my story of watching you race, meeting you, and hearing your stories. That will lead into the telling of the stories: the story of Hal, and the story of the road to Mexico. Is that OK with you guys?"

I said, "Bill, it's your story. Tell it the way you want to."

"Do you guys want to see it in advance?"

"Yes, please. Not to review it, but so we know what is out there if we are asked about it."

Bill didn't bring his tape recorder to breakfast. He said, "Look, I got my story yesterday. Everything today is off the record. It's my big thanks to you all. I have really enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you."

The conversation was casual, gentle, and very much open and two sided. We learned about Bill and he learned to know us better. Finally he got up the nerve to ask the question. "Tim and Charlie, I have never met a gay couple before. I don't really know the questions to ask, but I'm generally curious. It's off the record, and I'd be glad to hear anything you would care to tell me."

Charlie said, "Where to start. We fell in love at Camp White Elk. He was a teenager, I was an adult. We waited four years-didn't see each other. On his eighteenth birthday we got together. You read about the commitment in Sports Illustrated-or somewhere."

Bill said, "Yeah. I know the basic facts. But what's it like?"

"Love, Bill, love. No different than when you fall in love with a boy or a girl.

"Have you hit a lot of prejudice?"

"Not as much as we feared. Things have gone very well."

"Tim is accepted on his teams and in his school?"



"We don't go. The church today doesn't understand gays and clearly doesn't want them. We are religious, but we don't go to churches that insist on telling us we are living in some kind of sin."

"Hal, are you gay?"

"Better not ask Sue that question," I responded. "But if you open your heart you are likely to find a little gayness inside, and Tim and Charlie have found a little straightness in them. We all love each other."

"Sue is?"

"Girlfriend, lover, future wife, who knows?"

"I think you do."

"You're right. Future wife. She would say the same thing. This is off the record, right?"


He turned to Franklin. "I'm not trying to push here, but I am really interested. Does it bother you to have openly gay friends? Do people criticize you for it?"

"I'm gayer than they are. I live with my partner in Kansas."

"Look out," said Tim, "his partner is the same size. They make quite a pair."

"You're out?"

"Not in Kansas. We are, as they say, roommates."

"I see. That's tough, isn't it?"

"Of course. The time will come. Tim and Charlie are the ones with real guts in this crowd. My partner and I will get there."

Bill said, "I think I understand. It helps to be a national sports figure, doesn't it?"

Tim said, "Sure as Hell does. Charlie and I are incredibly lucky: We have understanding parents, an extraordinary group of friends like these, and our sports reputations to help us."

Tom said, "And they just happen to be the nicest guys on earth. Once you know them you love them. Period!"

Bill said, "I get the picture. And I'm late for my first class. I hope the attendance officer thinks this interview is as important as I do. But if she doesn't, tough. I wouldn't have missed my time with you guys for anything."

"Do you ever get to Minneapolis?"

"I have an aunt there."

"Look us up. You have our addresses."

Hugs all around, and Bill was gone. We had to move as well. Franklin had his car at the diner and he headed for Kansas. We drove Tom to O'Hare Airport and saw him off. Then we headed for the Twin Cities. It had been a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday brought a Special Delivery letter with a draft of Bill's stories. They were good. I was delighted. The paper would come out on Thursday. Friday morning Tim got a phone call from a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He had read the stories, and wanted to confirm Bill's story of his meeting with us, and the factual information in the story. Tim affirmed it all.

Friday noon Bill called me at school. He got through to the principal and somehow convinced him that he had to talk to me. I was found in the lunch room. Bill had had a whirlwind morning. Evidently the same reporter at the Tribune came to Elgin High School and asked to see Bill and the newspaper advisor. He wanted to buy the rights to the story for $500. Bill almost fell over, but had the good sense to say that he needed to talk to some or all of us first. Thus the phone call.

On hearing the story I told Bill to hold tight while I talked to Tim and Charlie. Tim's mom got me in touch with Tim through Dr. Olafsen, his principal. When Tim heard the story he said he would get in touch with Susan Wilfield. Susan's response was, "If the Chicago Tribune wants it, then I'm sure that the Minneapolis Tribune does too. And it's worth more here because you guys live here." She asked if we had a copy. We did. She said, "I'd come to you, but my editor is down here. Bring it to the office, right away."

I could make a long story out of all of the back and forth at the Tribune. But the bottom line is that within two hours Susan's editor called Bill with the following news: The Tribune would buy his article for $1,500 and his picture of the three Olympic hopefuls (the way he had titled the picture) for $100. They wanted distribution rights but would give him half of any royalties they got. Susan wanted her name on the article when it was printed, but it would be signed "Bill Manly, Elgin High School Elginite, with Susan Wilfield-Special to the Minneapolis Tribune. Originally published in the Elginite." Bill's name would appear as a picture credit. Did he want to be Bill or William?

Bill finally lost his cool. He had worked so hard when he was with us to maintain a "professional" manner. But he lost it. We couldn't tell whether he was crying, shouting, or just stammering. But he was incoherent. He did recover enough to say, "Tell them 'Yes. Yes. Yes. YES." Bill was instructed to go to the office of the Elgin Courier where they could teletype a contract to him; then he was to sign the contract, and take it, several copies of the Elginite, and the picture negative to O'Hare and send it by courier service on Northwest Orient Airlines. They would have it in time to use it in the Sunday paper. Bill wasn't totally out of it: he demanded the return of his negative and distribution rights to the picture except when distributed with the article. Amazingly they agreed. With that he was on his way. Oh, yes. He decided that he wanted to be "Bill."

I loved the "New Hal" story. Bill told it with great sensitivity and humor. I regretted that we had had to leave out the sexual overtones that always seemed to go with the Gang. But Bill managed to convey the love and affection of the group without even knowing the sexual stories-he didn't hear about the manhandling of my gonads while they were changing my clothes, or any other of those incidents-which seemed to be expanding rapidly, I might add. His description of Hal the drip was uncanny-it was almost as if he had met me back then. He was in awe of my running now.

Sue loved the story, too, and wanted to meet Bill. She had a wonderful idea: Ask him to join us on the bus to Boston! My dad was organizing the Boston trip. He told me that it was my job to tend to the running and his job to get me, and the whole unbelievable group to Boston, house them, feed them and get them home again. When I asked about inviting Bill, he said, "One more won't make a bit of difference as long as he knows he'll be sleeping on the floor on whatever kind of air mattress or cot he can bring." I was sure that Bill wouldn't mind. I did invite him, but warned him that he wasn't going to have any exclusive stories, as Mike the photographer and Susan the reporter were going to be on the bus. He said that he would come for the experience even if he didn't write a word nor take a picture, and he understood, as did the other two, that everything on the bus was "off the record" unless we said otherwise.

It was going to be a pretty large group. The whole expanded Gang was coming, 14 in all. My parents, of course, and Sue's. Franklin's, Tim's, and Ronnie's parents were all coming. Tom's were thinking of coming. Charlie's would be there, but they were going to fly from Indianapolis and stay in a hotel. Coach Johnson and his wife would be there. Susan and Mike were coming. We would be 28 or 30 strong! It was certainly more support than I needed to run one race, even a race with a big name. But I began to understand what Tim meant about the importance of love and support, and how it had so affected Charlie's success at his archery meet. I wondered if any other runner would have a support group like this in Boston.

The date came upon us very rapidly. Dad had proven to be a superb logistician. The bus pulled up in front of our house promptly at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning. The Minneapolis crowd had gathered at our house for a breakfast at 8:00 and we were ready. Franklin and Phil had gone to visit his folks a couple of days earlier at Chippewa Falls, so our first stop was Chippewa Falls to pick up the four of them-it didn't take us far out of our way. Next stop was Madison for Ronnie and his folks. Then Elgin for Bill. We changed drivers in Chicago; it was a big charter company and they would use our driver locally for a couple of days and he would take us the last lap home. The Michigan Gang-which did include Tom's parents, as well as Tom, Nancy, Jim, and Andy-came south to Toledo and were picked up there, completing the group.

Charlie had talked with my Dad and they had worked out an arrangement for the bus. The back two rows of seats had been curtained off with blankets to make a private compartment for Sue and me. They had filled in the space in front of the rear rows of seats and covered the seats with enough cushions and a foam mattress to make a pretty comfortable bed. We had complete privacy if we wanted it, and were able to sleep well. I felt guilty, with everybody else having to sit up, but everyone insisted that I needed to arrive rested, and not lovelorn. Sue just grinned at that. Inside I did more than grin. There is an old joke about having sex on the back seat of a Greyhound bus (If you can do it..., you can do it anywhere.) I guess we proved that to be true.

We got our second relief driver in New York somewhere, and we were headed to Boston. With all of our stops, it took about 31 hours, and we arrived on Saturday at about 5:00 p. m. We stopped for some meals, and ate some while we rolled from huge picnic baskets that my mom and Tim's mom had prepared. I spent most of Friday riding up front with all my friends. But when it got dark they insisted that Sue and I head for the back. It all seemed completely natural to me, and evidently to everyone on the bus. But as we got to the back and started undressing, I said to Sue, "You know, the Gang's used to the very sexual nature of our relationships. But there are five sets of parents out there, including yours and mine. Do they all realize what is likely to go on in here?"

"Our parents do. I haven't kept many secrets from them. After the rape, and the support that they gave me through that, we have been very frank with one another. They know that we have been having sex, and they are comfortable with it. They even know about our adventures with Tim and Tina."

"Mine guessed early on, and insisted that we talk about it. That's tough, but they made it easy by assuring me that all the decisions were mine, and their job was to help me make them, and support me in whatever decisions I made. I'm pretty sure they weren't shocked to see us come back here together. Hell, Dad helped Tim put up these curtains and make this bed."

"I think the other parents all know the score. And, Hal, we are adults."

Sue was at the most likely time to get pregnant. While she had a diaphragm, we had decided to be extra careful for her three or four prime days each month. We enjoyed oral sex, doing 69 on the back seat bed! Then we went to sleep and had a pretty good night's sleep. I had to piss about 1:00 a.m. and Sue dared me to walk to the potty-which was in the middle of the bus-nude. I thought that was pushing it, so she suggested my Jockey shorts. I took her up on the dare. Everybody seemed to be sleeping, and I wasn't noticed. Or so I thought, but as I returned someone whistled just as I came back through the curtain!

Saturday morning we dressed and joined the others, feeling guilty that we had had a good night's sleep and they had had to sit up. When we tried to apologize, nobody would listen to us.

Just after lunch, Sue pushed me back behind the curtain and said, "Wait here."

A few minutes later Franklin pushed through the curtain. He looked a little sheepish, and said, "I have very specific instructions from Sue and Phil about what I'm to do with you."

"And that would be?"

"Suck you without mercy." With that he grabbed me-in the small space there was no escaping-and pulled me down on the bed, rolling on top of me. You don't move with Franklin on top of you!

I said, "Franklin, you don't have to...."

"Shhhh," said Franklin. "You and I have always had something special. And our partners are both aware of that, support that, aren't threatened by that, and insist that now's the time. And I agree."

I replied, "Franklin, you are wonderful. I think I love you."

"You sure as Hell better."

"I do."

"And I love you, Hal." With that my clothes were slowly pulled off, he slid down my body-the bed was narrow, but had plenty of length as it ran five seats wide-and took me in his mouth. It's glorious to be loved. It's wonderful to have a sexy person, male or female, give you physical pleasure. Combining the two has got to be one of the best experiences on earth.

Before Franklin had gone too far, he stopped and asked, "Where do you want your cum to end up?"

"Share it with me."

He went back to work. I dreamed of Sue, and Franklin, and Tim, and Charlie, and the others. Then Sue again. Then....I came. My jerking and a little shout would have left no doubt among the others on the bus what was happening. Franklin pulled me down so that our mouths met. He kissed me hard, driving his tongue in as deeply as he could. His mouth was full of my cum, and our tongues played with it, and with each other. We kissed for a long time, and finally broke off-both needing a towel to clean our faces. I had one ready, and we shared it. I said, "Thank you, Franklin. That was wonderful."

He said, "Hal, run a wonderful race, for yourself, for Sue, for me, for everyone."

"I will." And I knew it was true. After what the group had done for me, not just four years ago, but continuing right now, how could I not turn in the best performance of my life? I knew I would. And I did!

The house was wonderful. Three finished bedrooms in the attic. My folks got one-they protested that they didn't need special attention, but Charlie pointed out that they had paid the rent. Sue and I got one. The bus driver got the third. There were five big bedrooms on the second floor. The two biggest were designated for the other parents, and they could divide them up any way they liked. Susan was given one. The rest were told they could put their air mattresses wherever they liked. The third floor had its own bath. There were two on the second, and they were designated "boys" and "girls." The half-bath on the first floor was first come, first served. Someone put up a sign that seemed to sum up the entire situation, "No nudity in the halls, living room or kitchen."

By the time we settled in on Saturday it was time for dinner. Charlie's parents arrived at the door and announced that dinner would be at Fisher's restaurant. We all piled in the bus and headed for the place. Charlie's mother looked at the blankets, still hanging in the back. "Charles, what are those for?"

 It took an explanation later for us to understand his reply, "Mother, think of those as rumpled sheets."

She had smiled and answered, "OK, Charlie. Someday I'll learn."

Dinner was wonderful. Sleep was even better. Sue and I hugged tightly as we slept, but avoided sex-I wanted to be completely rested, and a little sexual tension had always seemed to help me run! We would abstain until after the race.

Sunday Coach Johnson, Tim, Jim, and I walked the course. Bill joined us and was told he could write this story. We talked about strategy, the hills, bottlenecks, and other problems of the course. It was one of the tougher courses that I had run, but not the worst.

Monday would come quickly. That night I lay next to Sue, who hugged me tight, kissing me lightly all over my body. When I tried to reciprocate, she stopped me and said, "Hal, tonight let me love you. Tomorrow's going to be your day. Tonight you need all the love you can get. Return your love to me after your race; store it up; use it to succeed in your running. Then share it."

I lay back and let her love me. I thought about all the love that I had received over the years. It didn't begin at Camp White Elk. My parents had always loved me, but didn't know how to relate to me. Well, I was pretty difficult to relate to. Tom saw through all that. Then the Gang. And now more and more people.

Then I reflected on the six sets of parents that were traveling with us. Why were they all here? I understood mine, and Sue's. Maybe Tim's. Why the others? How could they all be as relaxed as they were as we rode the bus, with a bedroom in the back erected for two unmarried, high school teenagers? And then one of them obviously involved in gay sex?

As I drifted off to sleep I decided to ask Coach. He and his wife were on the bus. They had gotten to know some of these parents, especially mine. He had certainly been very helpful as we walked the race course today. So had Tim and Jim. Sleep crept closer. As I drifted off I decided to talk to Coach on the bus on the way home....

Sleep, and then a race caught up with me.

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