Trials and Tribulations
Chapter 8: Keeping the Faith
I felt the sun on my face the next morning, as it came through my window. It’s warmth on my body didn’t compare to the warmth I felt in my soul, from Joey. The sun’s rays highlighted Joey’s golden hair, almost making it look, as if he was wearing a crown of gold, or better yet, had a halo encircling his head like an angel. I knew there were many obstacles we would have to overcome in life, but I was certain that as long as we were together, there was nothing we couldn’t do. As I lay there, looking at my boyfriend, the beginning of a poem ran through my mind.
I never knew what joy words could bring.
Boyfriend was a word that made bells ring.
In times past, words had little meaning.
With one word, love was what I was feeling.
As I looked upon this beautiful angel, my very own boyfriend, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle a certain growing problem. I turned my head, and found Roger up close to me, but that wasn’t my problem. No sir, it couldn’t have been as simple as being the meat in a boy sandwich. That had happened often enough before, when Timmy and Roger had spent nights sleeping over at my place. I was starting to panic, because I could feel that Little Mikey had risen with the sun, and was now comfortably nestled between Joey’s butt cheeks. I didn’t want to wake him, and I couldn’t move backwards because Roger was up against me too. Shit! Shit! Shit! Now what do I do?
As if I wasn’t worried enough, the next thing I knew, Roger turned over, and threw his arm over Joey and me. Oh my God! He pushed up against me, and his boner was pushing into MY butt cheeks! I rose up real fast, rolled over Roger, jumped off the bed, and ran to the bathroom without saying a word. On the way, I heard, “What the fuck?”
There was no way I was going to explain what really happened. I decided while taking a leak that I would tell just them I was about to bust from all the drinks last night.
I walked back into my bedroom, and both of them were sitting on the bed grinning at me like possums.
“What?” I asked as I raised my arms out to the side and shrugged. “I was about to burst.”
Roger just looked me and rolled his eyes just before he threw his pillow at me, which I quickly sidestepped. I ran over and jumped on him, pushing him back on his back, and started tickling his sides. Joey swiftly got up off the bed, and stood, watching. Roger and I were rolling around on the bed trying to get control of the other, as I continued to tickle his sides, but Roger was laughing so hard, he just gave up, his face as red as a stop sign. Once he gave up, I stopped, and just laid my head down on his chest as I tried to catch my breath. That’s when I noticed his boner pushing into my thigh.
I rolled over off Roger hurriedly, and looked at Joey’s smiling face. I returned his smile. “I didn’t hurt your back did I?”
“No, but I think I peed a little.” Joey said softly. He immediately took off towards the bathroom, leaving me with a smile. I was fairly confident he wasn’t mad at me for waking up with my boner trying to take his virginity.
Chuckling, Roger got off the bed, walked over, and picked up the pillow off the floor. He slung it back towards me hitting me in the face, while mumbling, “Butthole, I owe you,” before he followed Joey into the bathroom.
I kept the pillow over my face breathing a deep sigh of relief. I felt someone sit down on the bed beside me, and gently move the pillow off my face. When I opened my eyes, I saw Joey’s beautiful eyes looking down at me, a smile dancing across his face.
Joey leaned down until our noses were touching, and he kept his eyes on mine the whole time. “I know why you freaked out this morning,” he whispered huskily. I could feel my whole body go into full blush mode. He leaned back, and I could see the smile on his face, as he spoke again. “I felt you knocking on my back door.”
“Yeah, I am sorry about that,” I whispered back, trying to keep from blushing any harder. “I swear it wasn’t on purpose. I guess Little Mikey has a mind of his own, but that wasn’t what totally freaked me out,” my voice rose slightly as I continued, “I was in the same position as you with Little Roger trying to find a home.”
“Oh my God, no wonder,” Joey laughed, setting my mind at ease. “And it’s okay about us; if your hand had been any lower you would have found I was hard too.”
I turned my head, and kissed him on the cheek. He always found a way to make me feel better about anything. He turned until our lips met, and gave me a soft, loving kiss. It was the sort of kiss that let me know the world was ours.
“Okay you love birds, what’s the plan for today?” Roger asked, coming back into the room.
“I have to let Aunt Alice apply my bandages in a few minutes, but after that I’m up for anything that doesn’t cause me to sweat a lot.” Joey looked back at me, mischievously.
“Well,” Roger began, “we could walk down to the church, and shoot some hoops, maybe a game of horse.”
“That reminds me,” Joey began before I could respond. “I wanted to ask you two a favor. Would you come with me to church tomorrow? I don’t care where we go, but I have a lot to be thankful for,” He looked at both of us, “and I want to thank God, in His house.”
“You can count on us,” Roger said, as he walked over, sat down beside Joey, put his arm around his shoulders, and leaned his head against Joey’s. Watching that single interaction between the two, proved to me that Roger is the best friend anyone could have.
I took Joey’s hands in mine, and I stared into his eyes hoping he could see all I was feeling at that moment. “You know I’ll go anywhere with you. We can go to the service at the church we’re going to shoot hoops. I’ll show you around if anyone is there. Maybe the Pastor will be there, and I can introduce you to him.”
Joey’s face broke into a smile. “That sounds awesome.”
“Okay guys, I reckon we better get started then,” Roger said as he started looking around for his clothes from the night before. “Joey, you better take your shower first, and while mom is putting fresh bandages on you, I can take mine.” Roger paused, “Andy, we’re just going to leave our stuff here we packed last night. I don’t know about Joey, but I didn’t bring anything to wear to shoot ball in.”
“No problem guys.” I answered.
“I’ll take mine back with me.” Joey responded.
They both got up and dressed. Roger headed downstairs, but before Joey left, he walked over and pulled me off the bed.
“I love you, Andy,” Joey said softly, studying my face.
“I love you too, Joey,” I barely got out as our lips met. He wrapped his arms around my neck, and I slipped my hands down to his lower back, pulling him closer to me. His tongue slide across my lower lip, as I slightly opened my mouth, and sucked his tongue inside, pulling us into a deeper kiss. My hands slid down and cupped his beautiful twin mounds. I could feel the moan from deep in his throat, as I gently squeezed his cute bubble butt. We broke the kiss as we heard Roger running back up the stairs.
“I’ll be right over after I take my shower.” He nodded while leaning in to give me a butterfly kiss, and left before Roger could make it to the door.
I could hear Roger giving him a hard time, asking what was keeping him so long. I listened as the sounds of Roger and Joey faded as they headed home. I grabbed my stuff, and went into my bathroom to shower.
I knew why Roger wanted to go down to the church to play basketball and not in my driveway. He was hoping some others would be there so we could play some two-on-two, or four-on-four games. I didn’t think Joey was able to play yet, but I also didn’t think he would mind watching for a little bit either.
The more I thought about it, this was a great opportunity to show Joey around the church. I knew I wouldn’t play much if Joey couldn’t, and that would give us time to look around. I knew how important church was to Joey, and this might be just what he needed. We might even meet Pastor Irvin, who was a new pastor here, having transferred in about six months ago. He was also kind of young for a pastor, I thought. Well, he wasn’t real old, anyway; I’d guess he was maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. The pastor before him had been in his seventies when he retired. The three or four times I had been to church since Pastor Irvin had moved here, his sermons had all been positive, and not focused on sin and Hell.
When I got over to their house, Aunt Alice was just finishing up with Joey’s bandages.
“Good morning Andy.” She ruffled my hair on the way past me to put away the medical supplies. Why does every adult I know love to mess with my hair? But she was my second mom; she could get away with nearly anything.
“Good morning, Aunt Alice. You’re looking very pretty this morning,” I smiled happily.
“Aren’t you the charmer this morning?” She laughed, and turned to face us. For a moment, a concerned look crossed her face, but she kept her “mom” voice as she talked to us. “So, I understand you boys want to go to the Presbyterian Church to play ball today?”
“Yes, ma’am. Joey wants to go to church tomorrow, and I thought it would also be a good time to show him around the church. Do you think Pastor Irvin will be there today?”
“It’s possible. He works on his sermons on Saturday mornings before he goes to visit members at the hospitals, or at their homes.” She patted Joey’s arm. “We’re all done sweetie. You better get dressed for the basketball court.”
Aunt Alice finished cleaning up, as Joey got up and went to his room. A moment later, Roger entered into the room, and he immediately went to his mother.
“Mom, will it be okay if we go? You said to let you think about it.” Roger looked at Aunt Alice, doing his best puppy dog eyes. There were times Roger really could make anyone laugh.
Aunt Alice shook her head, and laughed at him. “Yes, you can go. But take your phones and have them on. Okay?”
“Yes ma’am,” Roger grinned, throwing his arm around my shoulders. I nodded, fishing my phone out of my pocket to show her I had it.
Joey came back in looking awesome. He was wearing a new blue pull-over tee with the University of Kentucky logo on it. He also had on UK gym trunks along with the new Nikes I had bought him. His outfit totally brought out his amazing eyes. I watched as his blond hair slipped forward and into his eyes. God, he looked so dang sexy to me.
Roger lightly punched me in the stomach, and I looked over to him to see what he wanted. I noticed that he was looking at me, before shooting glances at his mom. I took a quick glimpse at Aunt Alice, only to find she was giving me a knowing smile. My mind froze, as the voice in my head screamed, ‘Oh God! She knows.’
Roger spoke up quickly. “Let go guys! Daylight is burning.”
Blushing, I nodded, and hurried back outside with Joey and Roger right behind me. Roger grabbed a basketball from the garage, before we headed towards the church. As we walked and talked, we dribbled the ball back and forth.
When we got to the basketball court behind the church, the Brown brothers, Jerry and Terry, were playing one-on-one. They asked if we wanted to play, but I told them that we would just start on the other end of the court, and warm up some first. I wanted Joey to be able to play some horse so he wouldn’t feel left out when we began an actual game.
As we were walking down to the other end, Joey looked at me. “It would have been okay if you and Roger wanted to play with them, I could have shot some baskets down on this end by myself for a while, and watched you guys play when I got tired.”
“I know, babe,” Joey’s eyes grew wide when I said that, “But I like doing stuff with you, you know?”
“You called me babe.” Joey’s eyes sparkled as a huge smile danced across his face.
“Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” I could feel the heat on my cheeks. “I’m hope that doesn’t bother you.”
“No, not in the slightest, you can call me that anytime.”
We played horse for about fifteen or twenty minutes, with both Joey and Roger winning a game. Joey proved to be a pretty good shot; once we explained the basics, he seemed to be a natural. I wondered if he would be as good at baseball, as he was at basketball. I decided that I would try and find out, and soon! If he was, then maybe I could talk him into coming out for baseball with me in the spring.
Roger and I took on the Browns in two-on-two to twenty-one. Jerry was older than us, being a senior, and Terry was a freshman and a year younger than us. The first game was close and we only won by two. Roger made most of the outside shots for us, and I handled rebounding, since I could box out well. I made a bunch of layups and mid-range shots. After we had beaten them more resoundingly the second time, twenty-one to nine, more people had shown up at the court. I figured it was a good time for Joey and me to have a look around.
We went to the front of the church, and found the door unlocked. I led Joey down the hallway towards the office. The door was open, and I knocked.
“Hello?” Someone called out. “Come on in, I’m just polishing up my sermon for tomorrow.”
Joey and I walked in; I noticed the sermon on the desk, as Pastor Irvin set down his pen, and smiled at us. Pastor Irvin looked younger than I remembered, but this was the first time I had seen him up close. Actually, he didn’t look much older than Roger’s cousin Drew, who was still in college. He had short brown hair, grey penetrating eyes, an athletic build as far as I could tell with him sitting behind his desk, and smile that seemed to be permanently in place – a smile that would make anyone feel welcomed and be put at ease. He motioned for us to take a seat.
As we sat, Joey looked at me, and I figured I should make the introductions. “Pastor Irvin, I’m…”
“You’re Michael Andrew Collins, who everyone calls Andy, the son of Judge Samuel A. Collins.” Pastor Irvin smiled at me, before turning to look at Joey. “And this young man must be Joseph Matthew Adams, who his friends call Joey, and is new to our community,” he said, reaching out to shake our hands. I sat there a little stunned he that remembered me from the handful of times I had been to church since he took over, but more stunned that he knew who Joey was. I realized he was still waiting on me to shake his hand, which I did, a little embarrassed.
“What can I do for you boys on this beautiful day?” Pastor Irvin smiled. I noticed he smiled a lot.
“How did you know who I was?” Joey stared at Pastor Irvin curiously.
Pastor Irvin leaned back in his seat, his ever present grin returning as he spoke. “Mrs. Banks called, and said you boys may drop by this morning.”
“Oh.” I sat there, not knowing what else to say.
Pastor Irvin got up and moved his chair around the desk so he could sit closer to the two of us. Wow, he did have a nice athletic body. Oh jeez, now I’m perving on the pastor! I need to get my hormones in check. He sat back down, and glanced from Joey to me and back. I knew I was blushing from my earlier thoughts. “So what can I do for you two boys?” Pastor Irvin asked with a smile.
Joey focused on Pastor Irvin, as he leaned forward in his chair, and said, “Sir, I’m looking for a new church to attend and since my, …uh…, friend Andy and his father attend here, I thought I would check to see if this is a church I would feel comfortable at.”
“Well, Joey, the Presbyterian Church, is one of the more liberal churches in America, more so in the south.” Pastor Irvin seemed to pause, and look Joey over before speaking again. “Which church did you attend before?”
“It was a Pentecostal Church, Sir, called The Holy Word of the Lamb. It’s located out past Wal-Mart.” I could see Joey frowning. I was afraid he was remembering the things his father and mother had done to him at church.
“Joey, while both denominations hold many of the same beliefs, Presbyterians believe,” Pastor Irvin looked a bit uncomfortable, but he continued on explaining to us, “Pentecostals are mistaken at least in how they approach some things. I’m not referring to anyone’s beliefs, but rather the actual practices of the denominations themselves. I’m just stating the position of my Church’s beliefs. I want you to keep in mind that no one holds a monopoly on the truth. Very few people in the world hold exactly the same impression of God and His will.” I watched as Joey seemed to absorb what the pastor was saying. I listened carefully as Pastor Irvin continued, “That’s true even within the Churches. Not everyone here in this church holds exactly the same beliefs that I do, but, as a group, we have found common ground so we can worship God together in His house.” Pastor Irvin paused to gather his thoughts. You could tell he felt this was important to Joey, and he was treating it as such. “Joey, I believe churches are hospitals for the soul. I believe that all churches that follow Jesus’ teachings are all good places to worship God. Just as it is with some hospitals being better at treating some conditions than others, it’s the same with churches. We, Presbyterians, are a more formal church in our worship of God. Yet we are also more liberal in things like dancing and music. Some churches do not allow youth to dance, and some churches do not allow music. I, myself, am even more liberal on some subjects than my church is, perhaps it’s due to my youth.”
Even without a sermon, the Pastor could speak passionately. There was silence in the room for a moment, but Joey surprised me with his next question.
“Are you liberal enough to accept a gay boy into your church?”
“Yes,” Pastor Irvin said, without batting an eye.
That gave me a little courage. I glanced over at Joey, then back at the pastor, and before I could lose my nerve, I asked a question of my own, even if it was barely auditable.
“What about accepting two gay boys?”
They both turned to look at me. Joey’s face was filled with disbelief, and the pastor was smiling.
“Yes.” The pastor leaned forward in his chair with both elbows resting on the arms of his chair, and his hands clasped in front of him. “God didn’t make a mistake when he made any of us, and if you two are gay, you were born that way. So if God made you gay, who am I to say God made a mistake? God loves you as you are. He always has, and He always will. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.” He said as he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. After a few moments, he opened his eyes, looking at both of us. “You can always come to me with any problems you may have, and it will stay between us unless someone’s life is in danger. You have my support, and I will defend you to the congregation, if needed; however, with this congregation, I doubt that will ever be necessary. I would love for both of you to attend regularly, and become a part of our youth group.”
Listening to Pastor Irvin, I smiled, as I thought that maybe Mr. Horn was right. There just might be more support in this community than I thought.
Joey stood, and I followed his lead. He reached out and shook the Pastor’s hand, and told him, “We will attend tomorrow, and I look forward to talking with you some more. I have a lot of questions, but I think another time would be better.”
“I look forward to our future chats.” Pastor Irvin seemed happy to have made us both comfortable. “Andy, it was good to see you again.”
“Same here, Sir,” I nodded, as I shook his hand, “I look forward to tomorrow’s sermon. May I ask what it’s about?”
“Matthew, chapter 22, verses 36 through 40.” He said, smiling yet again. I wondered if he was always so cheerful when dealing with his congregation, but now I was more curious as to what his sermon was about. It seemed if I wanted to know more, I was going to have to look it up myself. “Now, you two need to head out, enjoy the rest of this beautiful day the Lord has made, and allow this poor pastor some time to finish his homework.” He winked at us, as he showed us out. I realized he was someone I was already growing to like. Who would have thought that after meeting Joey’s father that I might be able to like a pastor?
As we were walking back to the court, Joey stopped me.
“You didn’t have to do that for me.”
“I know, but I did it for us. I feel we can trust Pastor Irvin. He was so quick to accept you; I just knew we were in good hands. Mr. Horn said something last night that has stuck with me; he said there was more support…, hang on…, I wanna get this right…” I paused, trying to recall exactly what Mr. Horn had said. “He said, ‘There’s a lot more support here in Pine Hills than it may seem; just remember to always be true to yourself.’ I think Pastor Irvin is proof of what Mr. Horn was telling me.”
“I don’t know Andy.” Joey didn’t look convinced. I watched as he nervously bit his lower lip.
“Let me put it a different way, you had the right to tell Pastor Irvin that you are gay, but, so did I. Can we at least agree on that?” I cautiously asked Joey with a grin, hoping he would understand.
“Yes.” He returned my smile.
“I’m not saying I plan on telling anyone else. I’m just saying I felt good about telling Pastor Irvin. As we agreed, we won’t tell anyone about US unless we both agree.”
“Okay, I’m fine with that, Andy.” He paused, and his voice grew stronger as he looked at me. “I just don’t want you to take chances that could hurt you, just to make me feel better.”
“Joey, either we are in this together, or we aren’t. I’m not going to leave you out on a limb all by yourself. I could never live with myself if I did that to a family member or a friend, let along you. It’s just not who I am. Family is important to me, Joey. You are family now. We’re a team, Joey and Andy forever.”
“Okay, I get you,” Joey sighed, and shook his head. “You being you is one of the reasons why I’m falling in love with you. What I don’t get is what you see in me. I mean, I don’t have anything to offer you. I’m not popular like you. I don’t have the confidence you have.” He frowned, and almost whispered out his final question. “Why do you like me?”
“Oh my God, Joey, You have to be kidding me, right? You are the sweetest, most beautiful boy I’ve ever met. Not once have you said anything bad about your father, who nearly beat you to death. Not once have you said anything bad about your mother, who never lifted a finger to stop him. Not once have you said anything bad about your coach, who took advantage of you. Not once have you blamed God for any of this that happened to you. But what do you do? You’re out here today with me looking for a new church to go to so you can thank God for the things in your life. You are amazing, Joseph Matthew Adams. You make me smile just by walking into the room. I get butterflies just thinking about being alone with you.” I leaned in, and whispered. “I get hard every time you touch me, and my soul goes into orbit every time we kiss. Joey, what’s NOT to like about you? Who else has such a beautiful boyfriend?”
With tears running down his cheeks, he stepped into me, wrapped his arms around, and hugged me tightly. I wrapped my arms around him lightly so I wouldn’t hurt his back.
“God, I love you, Andy.” I could hear his voice catch, as he tried to stop crying.
“I love you too, babe.”
I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my handkerchief. I stepped back enough so I could look at Joey’s face, and started wiping away his tears.
“You probably think I’m a big baby.”
“Nope, I think you are a beautiful boy with a huge, loving, and sensitive heart. But you ARE my babe.” I continued to wipe his face, and gave him a wink to let him know everything was alright.
He laughed, and pulled me around the church back towards the basketball court. When we got there Roger’s team seemed to be winning. He always was good at basketball, and I was sure he would start this year on the varsity team. It was still several months before they started their season, but he’d start getting into shape soon. Unfortunately, that meant he would soon start bugging me to run with him so he wouldn’t have to do it alone. Maybe I would join him this year, if for no other reason that it would get me in shape for baseball. I wanted to pitch this year, and knew I needed to work on my stamina.
After Roger finished his game, we decided to get something to eat and drink. Roger called home, and asked his dad if we could stop and eat at the Courthouse Café. Uncle Steve told us we could as long as we called when we were leaving to come home.
While we ate, we talked about plans for the rest of the afternoon. Eventually, we got around to the elephant that we had tried to ignore since the night before: how our parents had reacted concerning JT and his father.
“Andy,” Roger began, “it just seems so weird how they are acting. As far as I can remember, JT has only been in a few fights… nothing over the top, you know?”
“Yeah, I know, but it won’t hurt to stay in contact with our parents, and let them know where we are. It’s always been like that anyway.” I shrugged. “I mean, when was the last time you went anywhere without telling them where you were going?”
“Okay, you have a point, but your dad and my mom looked really shook up to me. And I don’t like that something is bothering them this much. I mean, you can’t tell me you didn’t feel what I felt last night,” Roger said, before stuffing a French-fry in his mouth. “They were really freaked out.”
“You’re right. Dad was spooked by something. Maybe I can get him alone tonight, and find out more,” I said conceding to Roger’s point. There was more than they were telling us. I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to know, or not.
Roger called to let his parents know we were on the way home. As we were crossing the bridge over the Kentucky River on Main Street, an old blue ford pick-up drove by, and stopped about twenty yards in front of us. I was already reaching for my phone when JT leaned out the passenger side window.
“Hey faggots,” He yelled, laughing at us, “wanna suck my dick?!”
I pushed the speed dial number for home, and as I brought the phone to my ear, the truck sped off with JT shooting us the finger.
“Hello.” I heard the deep voice of my dad.
“Hey Dad, I just wanted to let you know I’m heading home with Joey and Roger. We plan on stopping at their house to play some Risk, before coming to our house to watch some movies. Is that okay?”
“Sure, son. Just give me a call when you get to Steve’s and Alice’s.”
“Okay, Dad. I call you back in a few.” I hung up, and took a deep breath.
“Wow, you didn’t tell him about JT.” I couldn’t tell if Roger was making a statement, or asking a question; so, I just shook my head no, and started walking home with them following me.
We walked in silence, and Roger didn’t even bounce the ball. The three of us each lost in our own thoughts. After about a quarter mile down the old rail road tracks, Roger broke the silence.
“Why what?” I look over at him a little annoyed about the whole thing, mostly at JT for being an ass.
“Why didn’t you tell your dad?” Roger kept walking, watching where he was stepping, but not looking at me.
“Because by the time dad answered the phone, JT was gone. I didn’t see the point of it by then.”
“Okay, but we need to be careful Monday, and watch our backs. You know this won’t be the end of it.”
Joey just looked up at me, and then over at Roger. He nudged Roger, then me, and said with a smile, “We’re the three musketeers.” He raised his fist out in front of him, Roger and I did the same.
“All for one, and one for all,” We all shouted together with grins, our troubles with JT forgotten, if only for the moment. With those few words, we had declared our vow to fight for one another, and stand up to those that meant us harm. Perhaps Mr. Horn was right; we had support here in Pine Hills, in people like my Dad, Uncle Steve, Aunt Alice, Mr. Horn, and Pastor Irvin. However, if we didn’t have their full support, we had each other.
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