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What We Are II

Summer Heat

by Richie Ryan

Chapter 2: McCarthy's

After closing the garage door, Richie slowly made his way toward the driver's side door of the Suburban. Shaking his head as he passed the huge boat, he gently dragged his hand along its smooth hull, obviously concerned over what he was about to do. Once he was seated behind the wheel, he turned to Kyle on the seat next to him.

"No way, man... no fucking way."

"What d'ya mean?"

"I mean, there's no fucking way that I'm gonna pull this boat over Jake's Road."

When Kyle made no response, Richie continued.

"Look, Kyle, I know you have confidence in me, usually more than I do, but there's no way I can do this. I'll pull the empty trailer back here, cause I'm pretty sure I can handle that all right, but there's just no fucking way I'm gonna risk destroying a bazillion dollar boat by trying to pull it out of here, OK?"

"Sure, Rich, I understand. Scoot over here then, and I'll take us out."

As Kyle slid toward the driver's side, Richie lifted his butt up and began to slide over the top of his lap. Instead of sliding all of the way across, though, when he was directly over him, Richie sat down, grinding his butt into Kyle's crotch.

"Whoa, I like this," he said as he wiggled his butt some more.

"You are so bad, Andrews," said Kyle, playfully slapping him on the back of his head. "Now get off me before my dick gets so hard I can't drive."

After grinding his ass into Kyle's crotch one last time, Richie slid the rest of the way over to the passenger side.

Pulling the boat, it took them a little more than a half hour to make the trip from the cabin to Benson. Since the way to the boat landing was well marked and easy to follow, Richie had no problem picking up the landmarks that he would need to find his way back. After taking Jake's Road to Hwy.18, they turned left past Harry's, then simply followed the road signs the rest of the way.

Since the boat ramp wasn't very wide, it could accommodate only one boat launching at a time. Fortunately, it was vacant when they arrived, so Kyle immediately turned the truck around, then carefully backed the trailer into the water. As soon as it was in deep enough for the launch, he set the brakes, turned off the engine, then both boys jumped down from the cab and went to work.

Once Kyle briefly explained the mechanics of the launch to Richie, the rest of the operation went quickly and smoothly. Minutes later, as the boat bobbed gently in the water next to the trailer, the motor idling quietly, Kyle stood in the middle of the deck to strap on his life jacket.

"OK, Rich, you know your way back, right?"

"Sure, it's cake, man," said Richie, showing more confidence than he felt as he double checked that the winch cable and safety chain were secure.

"Great," said Kyle, "then I'll see you back at the cabin in a few minutes."

With that said, Kyle slowly backed the boat away from the landing. Once he was gone, the landing area seemed eerily quiet in the absence of the running motor, making Richie feel very much alone. Taking a deep breath, he thought, 'OK, Andrews, you're up. Let's see if you can get this bad boy back to the cabin without fucking it up too bad.'

The trip back to the cabin went much smoother than Richie expected. By the time he'd passed Harry's, his self-confidence was at an all time high and he felt completely at ease when he turned onto Jake's Road. As did most boys his age, he'd often dreamed of what it would be like when he was old enough to get his driver's license. Now, slowly but deliberately making his way over Jake's Road, he knew that from this day forward these dreams would be much more meaningful. Even though he drove extra carefully the rest of the way to the cabin, he still arrived before Kyle had finished raising the boat onto the lift.

"Hey, Rich," said Kyle as Richie bounded onto the dock. "I don't see any cuts or bruises on ya, so I assume you got everything back in one piece."

"Yeah, cake," said Richie, a proud smile stretched across his face.

"What'd I tell ya?" said Kyle. "Now all we gotta do is put the trailer out of the way and pull the jet-skis down to the little landing." Then, grimacing at the thought, Kyle added, "Only thing I'm not too crazy about is putting on those wet cutoffs again."

After Kyle backed the boat trailer into the trees between the garage and the generator shed, they returned to the cabin where they hesitantly squeezed back into their cutoffs. Their body heat quickly warmed the wet material, though, and soon they were back in the garage retrieving the jet-skis. Even though they had to jockey the snowmobiles around, and move some of the other toys out of the way to get at them, it was only two thirty by the time they had the jet-skis in the water and ready to drive over to the dock.

At this point, since Richie had never driven one before, Kyle took a minute to explain the operation as well as the safety aspects of the machines.

"There's two important things to remember about these, Rich. First of all, unlike the snowmobiles, they don't have any brakes. They do have a dead-mans throttle, though, so even if you're doin 50 miles an hour, you'll slow down pretty fast once you release it. Even so, it's still way easy to coast into something if you get too close, so just be extra careful until you get used to your stopping distance.

"The second thing, and probably the most important, is never, ever, get on one of these unless you're wearing a life jacket. You're gonna learn soon enough that it's like so easy to get thrown from one of these puppies. And it don't matter how good a swimmer you are, either... if you're not wearing a life jacket, and you hit your head on a log or somethin... well, you're gonna drown is what's gonna happen. Understand what I'm sayin?"

"Yes, Dad, I understand," said Richie with his trademark sarcastic wit.

"This is no bullshit, Rich," said Kyle in a very stern, authoritative voice, "my toys - my rules. Same thing goes for the boat. By law, we have to have at least one life jacket on board for each occupant... and even though by law they don't have to be worn all the time, when the water is rough, by my rules they do. You may think this is bullshit, but I'm serious about this, so if you can't play by my rules, then fuck ya, stay on shore."

Richie was surprised by Kyle's outburst. He knew he was serious when it came to safety issues, he showed that last winter with the snowmobiles, but Richie never expected to get chewed out so bad for making a little inside joke.

"Jeez, Kyle, take a pill or somethin, would ya? I was only kidding."

There was a moment of silence while Kyle checked the condition of the life jackets before he turned to Richie to see the hurt and confused expression on his face.

"Yeah... well, maybe I overacted a little, sorry."

"Don't worry about it," said Richie, "no harm, no foul."

'There he goes again,' thought Richie.

As little as three months ago, Kyle would have understood what Richie said for the joke that it was, and he would have laughed, or returned the gibe with some remark of his own, but he never would have yelled at him like this.

"OK, Rich, let's take these babies for a spin," said Kyle as he tossed Richie one of the life jackets, "Once you get the hang of it, I think you'll see they're as much fun as the snowmobiles. I think they're even more fun cause they're not nearly as dangerous, so you can do more fuckin around on 'em."

Once they had their life jackets on, they started their machines and headed for the open water. Richie became familiar with his machine very quickly, and in no time he was doing 180s like a pro. Since the wind was light that day, they couldn't do much in the way of wave hopping, but this was probably just as well for his first time out.

After about twenty minutes or so of fooling around, they cruised back to shore where they parked their machines next to the dock. After retrieving his watch and cell phone from the watertight compartment, Kyle led the way up the hill to a clear patch of grass in front of the cabin where they sat down to let the warmth of the sun dry them off.

"Whoa," said Richie as he toweled off his face and hair, "those are so cool."

"Yeah, they are a lot of fun," said Kyle, "especially if you have someone else to ride with. It gets kinda boring doin it alone, though."

"Kinda like sex, huh," said Richie with a grin.

"Yeah," chuckled Kyle, "like sex. You can do it by yourself, but it's much more fun to do it with someone else."

Fully stretched out on their backs now, the warm rays of the sun that bathed their bodies through a near cloudless sky soon had them relaxed enough to dose off. A half hour later their nap was interrupted by the shrill chirping of Kyle's cell phone. Not yet fully awake, Kyle groped for his phone while he tried unsuccessfully to read the digital display on his watch.

"That's probably the guys," he said to the still groggy Richie as he put the phone to his ear. "Talk to me," he said, blinking the remaining sleep from his eyes.

"Yo, Jake, is that you," came Kevin's voice through the phone.

"Yeah, man, it's me, who else did you expect? Where you guys at?"

"We're at Harry's, man. Are you and the guppy gonna come and get us or what?"

"Yeah, sure, we'll be there in fifteen, OK?"

"OK, but ya better hurry up, dude, or Lindy's gonna eat up all the candy Harry's got in the store. We're starving."

"Gotcha, bro, be there in fifteen."

Just before he switched off his cell phone, he glanced at the display and noticed it was nearly 4 o'clock. Then, reaching over to Richie, he squeezed his shoulder and shook him until he began to stir.

"C'mon, Rich, the two working boys are waiting for us at Harry's."

"OK," groaned Richie as he sat up and stretched his arms, "but what about the jet-ski trailer? It's still hooked up to the truck at the landing."

"No problem, we'll just unhook it and leave it where it is. It ain't goin anywhere."

Their cutoffs now completely dry, the two boys pulled on their T-shirts and sandals, then unhooked the jet-ski trailer from the truck. After digging through all of his pockets without success, Kyle suddenly remembered that he'd left his keys in the truck. Looking up, he saw Richie, sitting behind the wheel of the Suburban with a grin on his face, dangling the keys in the window.

"Lookin for these," he asked.

Seeing the look on Richie's face brought a smile to his own. Knowing full well that Richie had every intention of driving to Harry's, Kyle decided to mess with his mind a little as he approached the driver's side door. When he spoke, he had to use all of his willpower to keep a straight face.

"Yeah, I was. Thought I'd lost them for a minute there. Scoot over and let's get this show on the road."

"Oh, man," whined Richie without moving.

"What?" asked Kyle, "You trying to tell me you want to drive? You? Aren't you the same dude that was all nervous about driving earlier? I don't know, man. I've been thinkin about what you said about not having a driver's license. Maybe you should wait... at least until you have your permit."

"Aw, c'mon, Kyle," pleaded Richie, convinced that Kyle was serious. "It's just a short trip over Jake's Road. Besides, it's a private road, right? I know I read somewhere that you don't need a license as long as you're on private property. Please? I promise I'll be extra careful."

The little kid whine in Richie's voice was more than Kyle could take and he burst out laughing as he made his way to the passenger side. It wasn't until he was inside the truck and buckling his seat belt that he'd stopped laughing enough to speak.

"Sure, go for it, man. I knew you'd change your attitude once you had a taste of driving this puppy. Kinda reminds me of me when I was your age. Man, I couldn't get enough time behind the wheel."

"Thanks, man," said a delighted Richie with a gleam in his eyes as he started the truck, "and I promise not to crash us too bad, either."

Less than fifteen minutes later, they pulled up next to the gas pump in front of Harry's. Anxiously waiting outside for them to arrive, Kevin and Lindy made an exaggerated mad dash for cover behind two large pine trees as soon as they saw it was Richie behind the wheel.

"Real funny!" shouted Richie as he and Kyle jumped down from the cab.

Laughing as they 'high-fived' each other, Kevin and Lindy quickly joined the other two. Even though Richie and Lindy had seen each other just a day earlier, these two best friends of ten years acted as if it had been a month or more. Smiling at each other over Lindy's duck and cover antics, they immediately went through their 'slap-tap' handshake.

Then, as if performing a close inspection of the truck, Lindy said, "Well, ya couldn't have driven it too far, cause I don't see any dents in it."

"Fuck you, Lindstrom! I've been driving it all over hell since we got up this morning," lied Richie.

"No shit?" asked a wide-eyed Lindy. "For real?"

"No, dipstick," laughed Richie as he playfully punched his friend in the shoulder. "I only drove it from the boat landing to the cabin, then down here. It is so cool, man. I can't fucking wait to get my license. You should ask Kyle, maybe he'll let you try it this weekend."

"Oh, I will, for sure," said Lindy with excitement.

The two boys were very much alike physically, and had kept pace with each other as they grew. There were only two real differences between them, the most noticeable being that Lindy's hair was brown, and he kept it cut short during the swimming season. Now that summer was here, and the swimming season had ended, he was letting it grow out. Much to his parents' chagrin, however, so far he had only gotten it trimmed a couple of times to keep it from looking too shaggy. The other difference, known only to Richie and Lindy, was that Lindy's dick was a little thicker, and a quarter of an inch longer than Richie's. This fact was a source of amusement for Lindy, and he rarely passed up a chance to remind Richie of his 'shortcoming'.

"Where the hell did you get that stupid hat, bro?" asked Richie when he noticed his best friend was wearing one of those goofy looking Gilligan hats on his head.

"Hey, don't be knocking my hat, man, I think it's cool," said Lindy as he checked himself out in the side mirror of the truck.

"I guess it is... for a dork to be wearing," laughed Richie as he tried, though unsuccessfully, to knock the hat off his head. "Dude, it still has the price tag hangin from it!"

"I know. Kind of gives it that added touch of class, don't ya think?"

Looking on with amusement at the banter between these two, Kyle began to top off the truck's gas tank.

"Hey, doofus," said Kevin to Lindy, "grab your stuff out of the car so I can lock it up, will ya?"

Just before Kevin turned to head for the car, Richie looked over to him, catching a glimpse of his 'killer' brown eyes. When he and Kevin first met, these eyes were the first thing that Richie noticed, and he was still captivated by them to this day.

Kevin Hatcher - or Hatch as Kyle and the rest of his teammates called him - and Kyle were the same age, and have been best friends since they started to play hockey together at the age of seven. He and Kyle were almost bookends when it came to physical similarities. They were about the same height and weight with firm and well muscled bodies. The only major difference between these two was that Kevin's hair was a dirty blonde color, and he kept it short, almost shaved on the sides. Of course, he didn't have the 'teen-model' face that Kyle had either, but he was still pretty hot looking, and his 'killer eyes' never let you notice anything else.

Still thinking about Kevin's eyes, he actually winced when he remembered their first encounter. Then he smiled as he thought about how a bizarre chance meeting between him and Kevin resulted in Kyle becoming his lover, and all four of them becoming good friends.

Lindy followed Kevin to the car where they both retrieved their bags, then returned to the Suburban just as Kyle finished filling it with gas. When Kyle started for Harry's to pay the bill, Kevin stood in front of him to block his way. Fishing a twenty dollar bill from his pocket, he slapped it into his friend's hand.

"Here, bro, put this toward the gas bill."

"Nah," said Kyle with a shrug, "I'll just put it on my credit card."

"Bullshit," said Richie, digging out his own twenty as he and Lindy approached.

"That's right," said Lindy, offering up his contribution, "we agreed last week that we'd at least chip in for gas. So just take the money and shut up."

Since his dad was a wealthy corporate attorney, Kyle could afford to be generous, and always insisted on paying for everything himself. When it came to these three, though, he knew they wouldn't allow it. Blushing slightly, he smiled as he accepted the offered money.

"OK, I'll take it, but I'll still put the gas on my card. We can use this to pay for supper at McCarthy's tonight. Hell, there'll even be enough left over to pay for a case of beer to haul back to the cabin afterwards."

Knowing that Kyle had beaten them again at the money game, the other three just shrugged their shoulders before following him into Harry's to pick up some supplies and pay their bill.

When they returned to the cabin, Kyle checked out the air conditioner while Richie put away the food. At the same time, Kevin and Lindy stored their gear in the guest bedroom where they, too, changed into cutoffs and sandals. Once they were finished getting settled, they all grabbed some chips and sodas to carry down to the beach where they relaxed for a while before leaving for McCarthy's.

"Whoa, I'm impressed," said Lindy to no one in particular.

"How so, bro?" asked Richie.

"You guys actually got your asses out of bed and got some work done this morning."

"Well duh, what the hell did ya think we'd be doing?"

"Well not sleeping, that's for sure," said Kevin as he shot Lindy a sly grin. "And I'll take that buck you owe me now, too, Lindstrom,"

"What the hell is that?" asked Richie. "My best friend betting that we wouldn't do what we promised?"

"Just playing the odds, bro, just playing the odds," replied Lindy as he fished a dollar bill from his wallet to give to Kevin.

Showing no interest in this good-natured ribbing between his friends, Kyle casually walked to the end of the dock where he gazed out at the lake while he sipped on his Pepsi. His action was not lost on Richie, though, as he wondered once again what was bothering him.

When Lindy finished off his chips, he blew up the empty bag like a small balloon, then popped it next to Richie's ear, startling him and jarring him back from his thoughts.

"God, Lindy, you tryin to give me a heart attack or somethin?"

"Well, you were sorta spacing out there for a sec, so I thought I'd bring ya back to earth again."

"Yeah? Well, I'll probably never hear out of that ear again, you dipstick."

"Oh, poor baby," said Lindy as he ruffled Richie's hair. Then, loud enough for everyone to hear he said, "So, when are we gonna eat, I'm starving."

"Me, too," said Kyle as if a switch had been thrown in his head, instantly returning him to the reality of his surroundings. "Let's saddle up the boat and head for McCarthy's and some burgers."

"Yes!" yelled Lindy as he and Richie ran out onto the dock to join Kyle at the boat.

"Hey, Jake!" called Kevin from the beach near the pole for the yard-light. "You want me to turn this on?"

"Oh yeah, thanks, man. We'll be needing that if it gets dark before we get back."

Once they were all in the boat, and Kyle was slowly backing them away from the boat-lift, Richie turned to him from the front passenger seat.

"So, what is this McCarthy's, and where is it?"

"Oh, man, just wait till you see this place, Rich, it's like gigantic. It's like a combination restaurant, liquor store, bar, and arcade, all rolled into one at the other end of the lake. They'll be putting on a huge fireworks display over the lake tomorrow night... and I mean huge. Course, we'll have the best seats in the house cause we'll be watchin it from the boat."

"Cool," said Richie, "but don't ya think we're dressed a little too casual for a restaurant?"

"Not this one, bro. It's big, but not fancy. The only time anybody dresses up to go there is when they rent it out for wedding receptions and shit. Otherwise, it's come as you are... and the food is like so good."

"By the way, guys," said Kyle to all three, "in case we need 'em, the life jackets and search light are under the seats, and the cell phone is in the watertight compartment in front of Rich here."

As soon as all three nodded their understanding, Kyle pointed the boat toward the far end of the lake before easing the throttle up to full speed.

"Whoa, this is awesome," said Lindy at the sudden surge of power when the 175 hp. Evinrude outboard roared to life.

Within seconds they leveled off on a plane, doing somewhere between 45 and 50 mph. Traveling at this speed, it didn't take them long to cross the length of the nearly calm lake. In just under ten minutes, Kyle was throttling back the motor as they approached the 'no-wake' buoys that marked the outer edge of the swimming beach and docking area in front of McCarthy's. Since Kyle and Richie had topped off the tanks before they launched the boat, they slowly pulled up alongside one of the docks that was located away from the gas pumps. Everyone seemed to know instinctively what to do in order to secure the boat for the evening, so in just minutes they were making their way across the sandy beach toward the restaurant.

"Man, you weren't lyin when you said this place was big," said Lindy.

"Yeah, and you can't even see all of it from here," answered Kyle, "There's about six or seven volleyball courts in the back, and a huge parking lot behind them."

"What the hell are those, swimming rafts or something?" asked Richie as they passed two large wooden platforms resting on 55 gallon drums.

"Nah, those are for the fireworks. They set 'em all up on those platforms, then pull 'em both out on the lake. The whole show is computer controlled from shore using radio control units. I guess it's safer that way with all the people around. Anyway, whoever puts it all together must know his shit cause the show is like totally awesome."

As they approached the boardwalk leading to the main entrance, Kyle pointed out two large banks of loudspeakers covered with plastic tarps about thirty feet from the shoreline.

"See those, that's for the music to go with the fireworks. The whole fucking thing is choreographed, and the fireworks are set off in time to the music. Wait till ya see it, man... it's fucking awesome."

"Cool," said Richie, his eyes sparkling with anticipation.

The large complex that was McCarthy's had three entrances. The main entrance, the largest of the three, was located in the middle of the building and opened into the restaurant. The one on the left end was for the bar, and the third, at the opposite end of the building, was for the arcade. Kyle guided them toward the main entrance. Long before they reached it, they could hear the music of a live band blaring from somewhere inside. While Kyle held the door open for the others, he nodded his head in the direction of the bar as he raised his voice in order to be heard over the music.

"Too bad we can't get in there tonight. That place is gonna be rockin right through the weekend. They even bring bands up from the city. The 4th of July is just about the biggest day of the year for these people."

Although the restaurant was busy, it was large enough with enough tables and booths for the four of them to be seated right away. They were led to a booth against the wall that separated the restaurant from the arcade. After the waitress handed them some menus, they began to scope out their surroundings. The first thing they noticed was that the restaurant was well insulated. They could actually hold a conversation without yelling at each other in order to be heard over the music coming from the bar.

Quickly ordering their food, Kevin held their table while Kyle took Lindy and Richie on a quick tour of the arcade area. When he led them through the set of double doors that separated the arcade from the restaurant, they were amazed at the large number of video games, pinball machines, and dart boards spread out before them. Eight pool tables and two air-hockey tables at the back of the room completed the entertainment package.

Back in their booth a few minutes later, Lindy smiled with a sparkle that was all Lindy. "Oh, man, I am so in that arcade as soon as we finish eating."

"Yeah?" laughed Richie, "Well, it's a good thing your dad's got his own shop so you got a place to work to pay for it, bro."

"Yeah, it's great to have my own money, that's for sure. Your dad owns half of that auto parts place, though, don't he?"

"Yeah, but I already asked him about that. For one thing, he said there'd be too much exposure for an underage kid to be working there. I guess it'd be too easy for him to get busted, ya know? Besides, he doesn't need any more help right now, anyway. It's no big deal, though, I can wait till I'm fifteen."

"Which is like three days away," added Kyle.

"Then you start work at the Rialto, right?" asked Kevin.

"Yup," said Richie, "a week from Monday."

"Man, you have no idea how cool it's gonna be with you working at a movie theater," said Lindy, "You know, lettin your best bud and his girlfriend in for free and shit."

"Yeah? Well, don't get too carried away, 'best bud', cause I ain't doin nothin that might get me fired. It may not be the best job around, but I'll at least make enough money to pay Carl back for my part of Dad's Christmas present last year."

Just then, the waitress brought them their order. Even before she'd finished distributing the baskets of burgers and fries, they were all stuffing food into their mouths. As ravenous as they were, however, it didn't slow their conversation.

"Oh no, man," said Lindy around a mouthful of cheeseburger. "I'd never ask you to do anything that could get you into trouble. Just open the alley door at a prearranged time, is all."

"Sure," said Kyle, "it's cake. I know some other dudes that work there, and they do it all the time."

"Yeah, right," said Kevin, cautiously, "and some of 'em got busted and fired for doin it, too. Just don't do anything stupid, Rich... and don't you guys pressure him into doing something he might regret, either."

"Who, us," said Kyle and Lindy as they looked at each other in mock surprise.

The timing and the expressions on their faces were so perfect that all four boys started to laugh.

Excited about getting back to the arcade, Lindy ate his food a little faster than the rest, then excused himself while the others casually munched on the last of their fries.

The waitress came by a few minutes later with the check, and before she left, she picked up their empty baskets before wiping the table off with a damp rag. After putting enough money on the tray to cover their bill, plus a generous tip, Kyle leaned back against the wall so he could stretch out his legs while he sipped on his soda. He was enjoying the fact that since Lindy left, he had one whole side of the booth to himself. Now he could check out the entire room without straining his neck muscles when he twisted his head around. After a minute or two, Kyle recognized someone sitting with his parents at a table on the far side of the restaurant.

"Hey, Hatch, remember that dude?" he asked as he nodded in that direction.

Craning his neck to follow Kyle's gaze, Kevin said, "Hell yes. He's the guy that almost burned down the whole forest last year, right? What the hell's his name again?"

"Terrence Jerome Allison III," said Kyle, accentuating each name as he spoke, "and you're right, bro, he's the one."

Richie's interest was piqued now as he, too, twisted in his seat to get a look at the kid that both of his friends seemed to know. When he finally zeroed in on the object of their discussion, he found that he was unable to tear his eyes away. Although his appearance wasn't as remarkable as Kyle's, his wavy blond medium cut hair - contrasting so strongly with the deep bronze of his tanned skin - seemed to captivate Richie. He looked to be about his age, and was dressed casually in a black T-shirt, blue jeans, and Nike cross-trainers. This overall image held Richie's stare while it made his dick twitch inside his cutoffs. It was only after Kevin jostled him in his seat and told him to quit staring that he was he able to force himself to look away.

"Um... What were you saying about a fire?" he asked as he felt his face flush.

"You tell him, Hatch," said Kyle; "I just saw someone I haven't seen for a few years go into the arcade. I'll catch you dudes later."

With that, Kyle was up and headed for the arcade before either Richie or Kevin could say a word.

"Who d'ya spose he's talkin about?" asked Richie.

"Who knows," said Kevin, "could be just about anybody. He knows a lot of people around here."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," said Richie.

Since the seat that Kyle and Lindy had previously occupied was now empty, Richie moved over to it. Not only was there room for them to spread out more comfortably this way, but Richie could now check out the blond kid without appearing too obvious, or straining his neck.

"So, what's all this about a fire last year?" he asked Kevin, sipping on his Pepsi while he scoped out this new attraction.

"Oh, yeah," said Kevin, "I guess the kid is always getting into trouble. His old man is rich, at least as rich as Kyle's, and they own a cabin on the lake. Anyway, like I said, he's always doin stupid stuff and getting into trouble. His dad is always bailing him out of some kinda shit.

"Last year I was up here for the 4th, just like we are this year, and this kid was like throwing firecrackers at people on the shore from his boat."

"No shit?" asked Richie.

"Yeah, I guess he thought he was being cool or somethin. Anyway, me and Kyle were out fishing when we saw him buzzing some weekenders having lunch on the shore. Not only did he piss them off, but one of his firecrackers started a fire in the dry grass where they were eating.

"The weekenders tried to put it out, but it was spreading too fast for them, so we flew to the rescue. Thank God we had a fire-extinguisher in the boat or it could have turned into a really bad fire. What pissed us off was that jerk-off just kept buzzing around the lake. He wouldn't even come and help us."

"You're shittin me," said Richie as he again looked over at the blond, "For real?"

"For real, I swear to God. Well, there was no doubt about who started the fire, so it didn't take the Sheriff's Deputy long to bust him and impound his boat. I don't know how much that one cost his old man, but I'll bet it was plenty."

"Terrence Jerome Allison III, huh?" said Richie as he stole another look at him.

"Yeah," chuckled Kevin, "that's his real name, but everybody just calls him TJ for short."

When Kevin saw Richie staring at the boy almost constantly now, he kicked him under the table.

"C'mon, dude, put your eyes back in your head and let's go see if we can't find Jake and Lindy."

Leaving their almost empty drinks on the table, Kevin and Richie headed for the double doors to the arcade. Once they'd passed through, they stepped off to the side a little to get out of the way of traffic so they could search the room for their friends. Lindy was the first one they spotted. He was totally engrossed in some video game with a couple of other kids looking over his shoulder.

"Well, there's Lindy," said Richie, "but I don't see Kyle anywhere."

"There he is," said Kevin.

"Where?" asked Richie as he turned his head in the direction that Kevin indicated.

"Nah, must not have been him," said Kevin, "I thought I saw him go out the back door with another dude, but they were gone before I could be sure. Let's ask Lindy, maybe he's seen him."

As they approached him, they could see that Lindy was into a fierce competition with another kid on the video game. Just as they squeezed in close enough to see what was going on, the game ended in a victory for Lindy.

"Thanks, dude, good game," said Lindy with a grin as his disappointed foe shoved a dollar bill into his outstretched hand.

"C'mon back anytime," he called out as his vanquished opponent wandered away from the machine.

Then, noticing Richie and Kevin for the first time, he grinned again. "Whoa, man, we gotta come here more often. This is like takin candy from a baby."

"Yeah? Well, don't get too cocky, hot-shot," said Kevin. "Ya don't wanna go pissin off the locals. Have you seen Jake around?"

"Yeah," answered Lindy as he glanced around the room, "he was here just a minute ago with some other dude. I think they were talkin about smokin some weed or something."

This statement caught Richie by surprise. Then he remembered that Kevin thought he saw Kyle leave through the back door.

"So, Kevin," said Lindy as Richie looked toward the back of the room, "ya want me to give you a lesson in hand-eye coordination here?"

"I don't know... what d'ya think, Rich?"

"You guys go ahead, I'm gonna see if I can't find Kyle. I'll catch up with ya later."

"OK, Lindy," said Kevin, "let's see if you're as good as you say you are."

As Lindy added Kevin's money to the machine to restart the game, Richie slowly made his way toward the back of the arcade. As he went, his eyes kept scanning the area for Kyle, hoping to find him playing a game or something, and not, as Lindy said, outside smoking weed with some other guy.

When he finally reached the back of the room without spotting him, he was convinced that Kyle must be outside after all. He felt a pang jealousy course through his body as he pictured him with some other guy, hidden in the bushes outside, smoking dope, or worse, doing something else.

This last thought was new for Richie. In the six months or so that he and Kyle had been a couple, he never once thought about the possibility of Kyle cheating on him. They were so close, and so happy when they were together, the thought just never entered his mind.

'OK,' Richie thought to himself, 'so what if he is out smoking weed. After all, that's what Kyle does, he parties... and as far as the guy he went with, he's probably just some dude he knows from around the lake.'

As logical as his reasoning was, he couldn't shake the jealously he felt inside. Suddenly, another thought occurred to him, or more accurately, reoccurred. He thought about how he had developed a wandering eye lately, and wondered if maybe Kyle wasn't doing the same thing. Just as he was about to go through the back door, the door to the men's restroom opened, forcing him to quickly step aside to let a couple of guys pass as they came out.

'Maybe he's in there,' he thought. 'Hell, I gotta piss anyway, so might as well check that out first.'

Even before he entered the restroom, he knew in his heart that Kyle wouldn't be in there, but he remained hopeful. His suspicions were soon confirmed, though, as he quickly checked out its occupants.

The room contained four stalls along the wall next to the door, with one long trough for a urinal on the wall opposite them. Because his mind was totally occupied with thoughts of what Kyle might be up to, he paid no attention to any of the activity in the restroom as he stood at the edge of the trough to relieve himself. He barely even noticed when another kid entered the room and walked up to urinal next to him.

"This place's really rockin tonight ain't it," came the sound of a young voice beside him.

"Yeah, it is," answered Richie as he glanced up at the face that went with the voice.

Richie's next breath caught in his throat when he immediately recognized the boy beside him to be TJ, the firecracker throwing fire-starter. Standing this close to him, his appearance was even more striking than it was in the dim light of the restaurant. His blonde hair looked brighter against his tan, and for the first time Richie was able to see the color of his eyes. They were the color of turquoise, interspersed with flecks of silver that made them dance and sparkle when he smiled. He had a smile on his face now, and it was casual and comfortable, yet infectious and alluring, almost seductive as it revealed his bright white teeth.

"I haven't seen you here before," said TJ, "You live around here?"

"Um, no," stammered Richie as he quickly returned his gaze to the trough where he peed, "I'm just up from the city visiting a friend who's got a cabin on the lake."

"Oh yeah, Kyle Jacobson, right? I saw you guys in the restaurant earlier."

"You did?" asked Richie as he looked up, his question sounding lame to him.

"Yeah, you were in a booth with Kyle and a couple of other dudes," said TJ, looking down into the trough where he pissed,. "So, you guys gonna be here for the big celebration tomorrow?"

"Yeah, we are," said Richie, his eyes helplessly locked on TJ's handsome profile.

Then, unable to help himself, Richie looked down to catch a glimpse of TJ's dick. Although he didn't dare take more than a quick glance, it was enough to see that it was about the same size as his own, and appeared to be uncircumcised.

His face beginning to flush with embarrassment for sneaking a peek, Richie quickly looked down to his own dick, realizing only then that he'd already finished pissing. Not only that, but his dick was beginning to get hard just from the quick peek he'd gotten of TJ's. Feeling a slight panic at the feel of his stiffening member, Richie quickly shook off the last drops of piss before stuffing it back into his cutoffs.

Too embarrassed to say anything further, or to even look at TJ, he zipped up, then moved to one of the sinks to wash his hands. After drying them on some paper towels, he immediately headed for the door, still feeling flushed and self conscious.

"By the way, my name's TJ. So like maybe we'll run into each other tomorrow," called TJ over his shoulder as Richie passed behind him.

"Oh, um, sure," answered Richie as he looked back at TJ. "Mine's Rich. And yeah, maybe we will. We'll be getting here sometime in the afternoon, then we'll be staying for the fireworks."

"Cool," said TJ without looking around.

As he exited the restroom, Richie wondered what the hell he was doing. Why did he tell TJ when they were planning to be here? Was he subconsciously hoping to meet up with him again? He had a relationship with Kyle, so why did he keep checking out other guys?

Then the picture of TJ's uncut dick flashed in his mind. Although he had only seen a few uncircumcised ones before, they fascinated him. He always wondered what it would feel like to hold one in his hand like Lindy had with his cousin's. His own dick, still half hard from looking at TJ's, continued to rise within his cutoffs. As he quickly, yet cautiously adjusted his stiffening member, he reasoned that his fascination with uncircumcised dicks was the only reason he had an interest in TJ. After all, he wasn't as hot looking as Kyle, and from what Kevin said, he was an idiot and nothing but trouble. So what else could it be? Satisfied, he made a final adjustment to his clothing, then headed for the back door of the arcade to resume his search for Kyle.

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