Discoveries on My Journey of Life

Chapter One - The Beginning

   So, my journey of life, huh? I think any part of a journey has to start at some beginning. Well, other than for the obvious reasons - I mean, that sounds kind of cliché, right? How can anyone really convey how they grew, how they overcame obstacles, how they lived their life with their ups, downs and everything in between - unless there was some beginning, some point that launched it and made it all kind of tie together? For me, it's not the kind of journey that is easy to just write down into a few simple paragraphs, and then get on to the good stuff. Sometimes, I think that's what most people are on here for. They're here looking for the things that get them off, or experience perverse pleasures that come from seeing through the eye of another individual. You know, the kind of stories like what someone else has written, someone else has made - whether it be fantasy or fact...

   I'm sorry people, but that's not me. As you might imagine, I've written this story a lot of times while growing up, so it's not like I'm without some practiced hand at doing it. My grammar may not be perfect by any means, but my intent is pure. Yeah, you'll find out it has some nominally good stuff in it, but it's not one of those things I'm just going to throw out there, giving someone the proverbial "quickie". In all honesty, I kind of figure this is probably the last time I will ever try to do this, and if it's something I'm going to do, I'm hoping that it becomes more than just a simple story. I'm hoping maybe, if someone reads it to the end, they'll find out a lot of things to share and feel good about - you know, the kind of things that let them know they aren't alone. For the most part, this really is a true story, with even the names being mostly accurate. The only thing I sort of protect, with respect to the people around all this time I was growing up, is the place where it all happened. Oh, and maybe a few 'last' names, too.

   It all started in a small town in East-central Kentucky, in the United States, not exactly at the foothills of the mountains, but it was pretty close. We were far from the flatlands that sort of separated the east and west of the state, but to say we had big hills or deep valleys would not really be that accurate either. It was more like a transitional place, with plenty of rises and uneven land that stretched out in every direction. I know this because, of the few trips I ever took outside my county in those early years, the Smokey Mountains was the one place that truly showed me the definition of what "mountains" really were. Then, to go with that, the flats of southern Wisconsin opened my eyes to the other extreme. Still, where I lived was a cool place to grow up... mostly. I was able and permitted to ride my bike over endless twisting country roads, underneath a lot of skies that alternated regularly from overcast and rainy, to bright sunshine and high humidity. Kentucky is a temperate state, meaning it has a mix of all kinds of weather. Winters were cold, but not brutal; snow was not uncommon, as we had our fair share of them. Mostly we had 2-3 inches at a time, and as many as 4 to 6 times a season. Sometimes they would hang around for a day, but others stayed around for a few days before melting off. Summers would find the temperature in the upper 80s, maybe low 90s for 7-8 weeks of the year, and were it not for the humidity those weeks and months would not have been all that insufferable. The rest of the year though, temperatures were pleasant, the weather tolerable, and we got more than enough of our share of rain and sunshine. Living close to the mountains, we had plenty of trees to keep the shade in abundance, and the only real downside was when autumn came. Then the leaves would stack high, leaving a lot of us kids grumbling about having to keep them raked up and under control...

   I lived on the outskirts of town, probably less than two miles from my school, which was an old set of disconnected buildings that lay on the north side "campus" (as the townsfolk called it). I lived with my Mom, and we were both tenants of a two-story house that sat at the edge of a 120-acre farm. The farm, like most in the area, held a lot of uneven fields, most of which backed up to a dense tree line that stretched for miles. When I was old enough to stray and explore on my own, that wooded area held a lot of fun hours for me. Our backyard stopped at the forest line, one which supplied us with plenty of fuel for heat in the winter months. We actually owned our house and lot - if you can call making mortgage payments to the bank a true state of ownership. The house originally belonged to a farm that already surrounded us, but I remember Dad talking about the fact he and the farmer had been really good friends for a long time. Since the farmer had no real use for it at the time, and had been interested in selling it, my parents got to purchase the house for a very fair price. The rest, as they say, was history.

   The house had white clapboard siding that, although wasn't new, it wasn't in bad shape at all. It also supported a metal roof, something not uncommon in Kentucky mountain areas. Although it had no rust and was as reasonably sound as you might expect, it had seen better days I'm sure. Inside, it was basically two levels. The downstairs was made up of a living room/kitchen and a huge master bedroom, with a bathroom off in the back corner of the floor plan. It also had a partially screened porch across the back, one that spanned the whole width of the house. Mom kept our washer and dryer out there, and it was where we would stack our wood each summer, to prepare for the winter months ahead.

   There was also a front porch that spanned about 2/3's the width of the house, and on it was an old vinyl-like love-seat that sat next to the front door. On the opposite side was a two-seater porch swing, hanging lazily from chains that were attached to the ceiling. I spent many days there, propping up in it with a bean back in one corner, and climbing in with a good book to read. I was initially into comics and Archie funnies, but as I got older my interests eventually grew into other areas of more fictional value. Tom Clancy was a favorite of mine, John Grisham, lots of Star Wars and Star Trek novels, and other science fiction and fantasy books, too. Some you might recognize, noteworthy of the most celebrated literature classics, such as Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, Brooke's Sword of Shannara series and so on. Make no mistake about it, I was a bookworm - and most kids in school saw me as such. I was the quiet, shy boy who sat in the middle of the class, always off to the side, and stayed out of trouble - well, mostly anyway.

   Anyway, to finish off the house itself, the backyard wasn't all that big, at least not to me, but it was large enough for a couple of well-placed oak trees to grow, partially overhanging the roof. The house sat probably a third of a mile off the main road, down a winding gravel driveway that pulled up to the side and stopped. No carport, no garage; if anything, there was just another line of firewood, cut every spring and summer from the woods, and piled high across the end of the driveway so it would season out prior to the cooler days of autumn.

   So, what about me? If you could look through a time-glass of sorts, and saw me back then, I was mostly a skinny runt the whole part of my early life. It wasn't until I was maybe 16 or 17 that I finally got some size on me to fit my age, and (thankfully) I started to fit in with the other kids in my class. I still wore glasses, thin plastic lenses most of the time (Wal-Mart cheapies), with thin wire-like frames - not the colored plastic stuff that makes people stand out in a crowd. At times I could go without them, for my eyes were not in that bad of shape. My vision was weak enough though, to warrant their necessity in school and for reading - of which I really had no choice. It never bothered me much, as I was never the brunt of the jokes that I saw a lot of kids face in my classes, or on the bus. I think that's because they just were not really that noticeable - something I am forever grateful to my Mom for. She usually let me get the frames I wanted - within a certain budget, of course, dictated by what we could afford at the time. Other than that, I was just a skinny runt, short for my age, with a mix of hair styles that just stayed cut - not short, not "skinned" like some people. I wore my hair more crew-like than anything else, with at least a little length to it. My Mom cut my hair most of the time; between her and Grams, they didn't know that much about styles or styling, but they knew enough about how to keep it shaped decently for a kid and a teenager. No one ever teased me for it, and it was just as acceptable as anyone else's were in school, so I never had to worry.

   So, like I said, I was a short skinny kid mostly, nothing fancy, definitely no six-pack (or whatever they called it) that I could flex around like some jock. I did have a tight tummy, and an "innie" for a belly button. Most of my early years I had little peach fuzz-like hairs that grew on my arms and lower legs, but otherwise, I was pretty smooth everywhere. My arm muscles were not flabby, but they also were far from being anything visible either. In fact, the only thing that really showed any kind of tone was probably my legs and thighs. I mean, when I said I rode my bike a lot, then yeah - it was really a LOT. I couldn't be a bookworm all day during the summer, staying around the house and glued to a TV - which by the way, only a few stations we could watch (it was a while before we ever got cable to come out in our area). So, I rode my bike all over town and around the back roads in our area. I never really went anywhere, except occasionally I might stretch out to a local convenience store and stop for a soda or something. Mostly, I just went riding wherever the road took me. About the time I turned 12 or 13, Mom and I had this agreement we lived by. As long as she knew roughly where I was going, or at least when, she was okay with it - as long as I let her know when I got back home. Seriously, it was the mid-1990s, and although we heard horror stories of kids getting kidnapped around the country, molested or hurt - especially such in the bigger towns and cities, around there it just didn't happen. Plus, I always stayed in the more populated places I think, never the back alleys or anything. As I got older, I rode to other, bolder places, too. Even then though, it was still mostly safe for a backwater little town. I wasn't anything to be anyone's prize, either. No one ever bothered the short, shrimp-like kid flying by on an old 10-speed bicycle. Really, I didn't bother them, so they didn't bother me.

   How short was I? I think up through my first 9 to 10 years, I was about like everyone else my age around me. Afterwards, though, the others in my class started shooting up and surpassing me and I - well, I didn't go anywhere. By the time I was 12, I was still around 5'3" to 5'4" or so, and a lot of the other boys were hitting at least 5'7 or higher. This one kid - a bully if you ever met one - would tower over everyone at nearly 6 feet tall, maybe even an extra inch or two, and he took every advantage of it he could. He always played the class clown when teachers or other adults were around, but in their absence, he loved to taunt the guys who didn't want to be in his inner circle. To be honest, he probably didn't have to be the bully over most of us - just standing next to him and stretching your neck upwards to keep any kind of eye contact was withering enough. I did it a few times, but fortunately, I never had but one actual half-fight with him (more of a curse-trading event than anything). He was a butt-ugly customer too, but with withering eyes who always had a stale, foul breath when he breathed (or screamed) into anyone's face. I never understood how anyone who obviously didn't brush his teeth that much, could keep such a sinister-white smile in the end. He was muscular and strong, and in the end yes - he could pulverize anyone - period. The horror to it all was that he knew he could do it, and his skill at not being caught became legendary in itself.

   Where we lived, there were few kids around my age. In fact, the only boys at all were two kids in the family on our farmland we bordered. They were about six-to-seven years younger than I was though, and although I did sometimes play basketball and stuff with them, we were just not close enough in age to feel right about any kind of "companionship". Don't get me wrong - they were great kids for the most part, but I just couldn't really feel close to them. Plus, they had this thing about them: they were rambunctious, mischievous, and totally hyper at all times. It was hard to keep up with them, especially when they became excited, or were on a mission of mischief. Except for a couple of other girls that lived down the road a few miles away, that was really about all the kids that lived around me. The girls were some I was always hesitant around, not because they were girls, but because they were troublemakers. They got into smoking, partying, punk and rock stuff and who knows what else. They didn't "look" too bad, but it was obvious they missed the class on what it meant to be a lady. For all I know, they could have been screw happy with the guys - in fact, I even heard that once, although I don't remember the exact details. Still, they were not the type for me (not that I was into girls or anything), so for the most part I just ignored them. They did the same to me in return, and that suited me just fine.

   As close as I was to town though, even to the school, you would think I could have done better. There were kids, don't get me wrong, but we were in a pretty rural area, so with the exception of maybe a few subdivisions or something here and there, all the kids were scattered, different ages and groups, across the county and mostly on the other side of town. So, I didn't have that many people to buddy up with around home. Here is where I admit it: the truth is, I was somewhat of a wimp - or in other words, a geek. Not a nerd ... for heaven’s sake, no! Most of the guys my age though, grew up with interests in things like girls, cars, fishing, hunting, sports - or rather being jocks, I guess. You know how tweens and teens can be sometimes: if you didn't share their interests; you were automatically on the wrong side of the boat - period. As to the girls, how many times I sat on the bus - even for the short rides to and from home - and listened to how someone scored, or got beyond first (and second, and third) base (and I'm sorry to say, it took me a while to understand what that really meant), was unbelievable. I watched everything - from some of the guys sticking their hands up between the legs of girls as they went by in the aisle, getting a "handful" of "pussy", as they called it (outside their clothes, of course), to actually peeking and watching one guy get his hand under the shirt of a girl and copping a feel. I even saw a girl stick her hand down a guys underwear once, and pull his boner straight up enough to see the tip for just an instant, peek over his belt. To me, it was amazing to watch and see what they got away with; but it was also something that made me sad, too. It's not that I disliked it, or disliked girls; I found it kind of interesting (and amusing) to listen about how they did this or that. One guy would boast, and another would try to top it - a lot of times, I think, they just were bull-shitting around. I knew a few of the guys though, pretty straight shooters I think, and to hear them score the wet one, or something similar, was pretty believable I think - especially when you heard it from some of the jocks. I don't know why it made me sad, other than maybe because I was brought up to respect things a little differently.

   Why was I that way? I don't think you could say I was a really religious kid, not as much as some people I knew, anyway. We went to a Missionary Baptist church, and yes - for those of you who will understand such - I was saved and baptized when I was 10 years old. In a sense, it instilled some set of moral values to me I won't try to preach about or describe here. I wasn't a hard-core Christian, mostly because I was young and inexperienced for the most part, but also mostly because it would be years before I came to appreciate or understand what some of the church's beliefs would entice me to take to heart. Still, it did give me a certain perspective on things at times, so I guess I just sort of held back, didn't really get that interested in doing the sex talk, or other things the kids were doing. For a while it was okay, but eventually, some of the guys noticed, and although they sort of respected me in a weird sort of way, they also left me more alone. In the end, that made me feel like I was more of an outsider to them. Not just to the guys either - the girls in my classes saw me in a different way, too. You would think there would be a few pure girls who would have respected that out of me, and who knows, maybe they did - but I was different in other ways too. The further I was cast out, the more I became alone. The more I became alone, the more my insides hurt - hurt to just wanting a friend, anyone, I could talk to or just be around, you know?

   Occasionally the guys would tease or taunt me, asking such things as what I dreamed of about girls, or thought of doing with a girl. Questions such as had I ever coped a feel or held a girl's breast or tit, or had I even made it to first base yet. That one hurt, in a lot more ways than the obvious, and they laughed about it most of the time. I think the biggest joke of the day though, was when they went around and asked every unsuspecting kid, young or old alike, if they had ever had a pussy stretched over their head (again, forgive my language, I'm just trying to reflect how we/they thought and talked back then). Of course, those who didn't have the foggiest idea of what was going (IF they even understood what a pussy was supposed to be!), would naturally respond with 'NNnnoooo...' Of course, they got double-hammered then:

    -'Hey, look guys, we got a queer-born alien here' (or some such crap…)

    -'Am not!'

    -'What, you were never born asshole?'

    -'Was too!'

     That argument would go back and forth, usually until finally, somebody explained to the victim that, when they were born, they had that crowning moment when the head pops through the birth canal. I always thought it was cruel, because well - some kids are exactly that, not really old enough to comprehend or understand what that meant. You get the idea, but back then, it didn't matter to most of the others on the bus. For the older creeps it was a big laugh; for the younger kids, some of them didn't know - heck, some of them probably didn't even know too much about the birds-and-the-bees yet. To them it was confusing, I think. Thankfully, I never heard of or saw anyone disturbed by it, but still. They did at least seem to ignore the really younger ones. Still, I imagine a lot of evenings with moms, dads, sisters or brothers (if they were brave enough to even talk with their families about it) were filled getting it all sorted out...

   Most of the time I turned around and ignore them, but I have to admit it still bothered me personally in other ways - so much so that I was almost turned against sex of any nature. Here's the interesting part though: It wasn't until I watched a movie once - and I think this is the first time it really hit me regarding the kind of feelings I might be developing - that I saw this scene that made me laugh. I think the movie was 'Taps', about some kids at a military academy who had one adult commander or something, and he had a nervous breakdown and died of a heart attack. The kids vowed to keep the academy going though, because they were afraid the school would be closed down and they would be separated. So, they barricaded it up and made a standoff against adults who were trying to break in. At times it was pretty intense, so much so the governor called out the National Guard on them. They were at a standoff - until one scene came when the oldest teen there, maybe 16 or 17 and was in charge of the other kids, stands in a tent getting yelled at by the adult commander. What got me though, was how the man was chastising the teen about kids in a situation that they didn't have any business being in, who (if I remember the words right) "...didn't have hair one between their legs...".

   I remember laughing at first, but then right after I felt bad about it. I think part of the reason was that it didn't seem right that boys should be judged that way, even at that age. I had just started getting some pubic hairs myself, and for some reason or another it made me feel sad and weird, even ashamed - ashamed because for a minute, okay for a few minutes, I actually tried to picture what some of those guys - especially those in a certain shower scene (ahem!) - were like with and without "hair one". Weird, right? I would eventually come to know and understand that it was just curiosity, but there at the beginning, I didn't get it. Remember, I was growing up isolated, alone, and very much without any friendships to speak of. I didn't have anyone to talk to about it, or sort my feelings out with. I had never taken a bath or shower with anyone, never realized something so intimate was even normal - even for sports players, or gym. Our school didn't have showers to use after gym class or anything - and up to that point I had never been around anyone period even in their underwear other than again when we changed in gym class. That was dangerous if you got caught looking or anything, even if you were curious about how other guys compared at the time. Especially given the way I was just starting puberty and beginning to "grow" down there. So, after that scene in the movie, and after I got over my embarrassment, I think I started seeing things differently.

   There was one other thing that contributed to my odd feelings about sex and stuff too, and it wasn't pretty in any sense of the real word. One night when I was about 8-1/2 years old, we had someone in the family that died. In the aftermath, we had some distant relatives come into town for the funeral, and one of the families stayed with my Mom and me. It wasn't that crowded see, being there was just the two of us in the house; we had an extra bedroom upstairs with a twin-sized bed, as well as a pull-out sofa downstairs in the living room. They had one kid named Jeremy, who was about 15 at the time, who was really tall and had long hair. We got along okay together, all things considering with the gap in our ages. I mean, we played around outside with the basketball and other stuff, when we were not at the funeral home that is. The thing is though, most evenings he stayed close to me sometimes, and I mean really close. I mean, it seemed like he was always hugging on me, picking me up, wrestling with me, what have you - just doing things that included touching me a lot physically. It wasn't that bad - I didn't think so much of it at the time, that's for sure. I mean, like, after supper we got into a wrestling match, one which he let me whip up on him a lot, pinning him down and everything. Sometimes my body just lay on top of him pressing down, and he didn't really fight me any. If anything, all he would do was sometimes hold me in place with a big bear hug or something.

   Like I said, at the time I didn't think anything of it. After all, he was giving me some attention, and I was having fun for a while - real fun, for a change. As I look back on it though, I think he did a lot of it on purpose for other reasons, although I was too young to really get it then. To me, he was like a playmate of sorts, someone I could do stuff with - something very rarely afforded to me. I liked the kindness, the safe feeling, I guess.

   There was this one night though, where it continued for a long time until eventually, it started getting late. Mom told me I needed to take a bath that night - there was no shower that worked in the house at that time, just a big, oversized old porcelain tub that thankfully was all mine upstairs. In fact, the whole bathroom was pretty much mine, located at the other end of the hallway from my room. I pouted, of course, like many kids would do - I had been having real fun, playing with my new "friend". He was someone at least willing to play with me and not ignore me. Still, I slowly gave in and headed upstairs.

   Now, you have to understand something - the whole upstairs was basically my floor. It had two bedrooms, a good-sized room that was mine plus a very small guest room, one which had just enough room for a twin-sized bed and a chest. It had no closet, and the only real feature it had was a window that overlooked the front yard. I guess it was one of those bedrooms that really wasn't a bedroom, more like a storage room in earlier days. The only person who ever really stayed in it was my Grams, and that was only a few times a year when she was sick and needed someone to look after her. Anyway, at the top of the stairs, if you turned right you walked directly into my bedroom (I'll describe my room some other time); if you turned to the left, there was a short hallway with the guest bedroom door located immediately to the left again. At the other end of the hallway, next to the outside wall, there was a small closet on the left side, one that opened up back into the attic, though it was closed-off and everything. We used it mostly as storage and as a linen closet; I guess. On the right though, was this old door that opened up into my bathroom. The door didn't have a lock, which I didn't care about, anyway. I mean, it was my floor, right? It did have a funny-looking latch though, like a normal doorknob. Either way, it was still alright with me, because nobody ever bothered me upstairs much.

   My bathroom was a pretty big room overall, though. I never understood the logic of how our house was designed to begin with, at least the upstairs. I mean, I had a big bedroom, and there was the small bedroom across the front. Okay, no biggie, but then there was this BIG bathroom that stretched across the back. It was probably big enough you could have fit two tubs, to vanity thingy's, two commodes, and more - and STILL have room to dance around in the middle if you wanted to! Not that I ever did mind you, but you get the idea. It was even bigger than Mom's downstairs. It had only one tub though, one vanity, one commode - like any normal, American bathroom would have, I think. There was a single window over the toilet that overlooked our backyard; otherwise, its light came from the vanity above the mirror. As you entered, my tub was to the right, and beyond it, facing the outside wall, was the toilet - the 'El John' as some call it. The vanity cabinet was made of old painted wood, but was pretty big in itself with a lot of doors for storing things, and it ran along the left side of the wall. It was perfect for me, it was my private little place away from everything else in the world, you know?

   As I said, my Mom had her own bedroom and bathroom downstairs, fixed and decorated her way. This room and my bedroom were mine, and both were fixed for me. Oh, and I should add, remember what I said about it being my rooms? I can be honest and say the only times Mom ever really came upstairs was to collect my dirty clothes (and even then, only if I forgot to bring them down before she was planning to wash). She might occasionally clean up or stuff too, but that was pretty rare because I took care of the basics reasonably well, all on my own. Even when it came time to put clothes away, she usually put my stuff in a basket and just set it at the bottom of the steps. When I came home, or the next time I headed up the steps, I would take care of the chore myself. In short, I did my own basic cleaning and stuff, somewhat to please and help her out. I also did it so that I could keep it my way, too. Something that was my private space, and by doing that, I was able to have a lot of privacy for myself.

   So anyway, that night I went up and stripped everything off like usual, and climbed into a tub of suds and bubbles before lying back. It wasn't until a couple of years later we got the shower fixed, so back then baths were all I had. I really didn't mind it, though. At some point around that age, maybe a little before, I started getting my water a little hotter each time I climbed in. During the winter months, it just felt good, being warmed up in the tub when everything else was cool or cold. I think around that age I also started reading a lot, too. Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries (yes, I know, Nancy Drew was a girls' writer, but I still liked them!) - they were easy to digest and have fun with. Sometimes though, I would just lie back and watch the sky and tree's outside through the window. I often ended up falling asleep then, too.

   That night wasn't much different - as excited and dejected as I was at the same time, with Jeremy being there, I remember lying back and just relaxing. I wasn't in a big hurry, because I remember being pretty tired for the most part. I probably kicked around the bubbles and suds a bit, just soaking for the time being, thinking about a lot of things.

   After I got in, maybe five to ten minutes went by before I heard my cousin come upstairs and go to his "room". That wasn't hard to imagine, as there were plenty of old-house noises and creaks in the flooring that could tell anyone almost anything when someone was coming near. Once again, I didn't think much of it, until I heard a knock at my bathroom door. I never heard him come down the hallway, which really did surprise and startle me. I guess I just didn't pay any attention, but it was unusual to say the least. Anyway, I sat up and turned around to see he had cracked the door open a little and was peeking in. He asked me in a hoarse whisper if he could come in and pee, and the way he was prancing made me think he must have had to go bad. At first, I thought it was kind of odd - him wanting to come in right then with me in the tub and everything. But looking down at myself and seeing I was mostly covered with plenty of bubbles hiding my privates, I remember thinking it was okay. We were both boys, right? I shrugged and told him sure, come on in.

   He came in, wearing boxers - and that, in all honest truth, was something I had never seen before up to that point. It immediately caught my eye, you know? Most all the kids I dressed out with, in the gym locker rooms wore white briefs. I don't remember any of them ever wearing boxers - so it I have to admit, seeing him just then made me raise my eyebrows. Honest, I could care less what they were hiding inside. At that time, I thought they were just like gym shorts maybe, but the material he had on was really a lot thinner, and a lot looser around the legs too. They also had this weird red-black checkered design-thingy, one that I knew would get a lot of laughs and snickers from some people I knew. So, I stared at him, or rather at his boxers, a lot. Whether he knew it or not, or might have gotten some other idea I was looking for other reasons, I do not know. For my part, it was honestly just a curiosity thing, I think.

   Anyway, my cousin walked over to the commode and with his back to me, he stood there and went through the motions of pulling down his waistband and (I guess) arranging himself. Like I said, the fabric was thin, and that moment it was pushed up in the lower part of his butt-crack, showing it off I guess in all of its glorious detail. Hey, I was 8-years old, so give me a break! I sort of snickered a little I think, when I noticed it, but then I got nervous he might have heard me. Boy or no boy, I dropped my eyes in shame and started to worry a little. Still though, after a minute, I looked back up and watched him again. He stood there a really long time, not really doing anything, and I wasn't sure what the deal was. Finally, however, he let go and I heard a steady, constant stream start to hit the bowl as he relieved his bladder. I remember he peed for a long time, and after he finished, I noticed he kind of shook his willy in front a few times. Finally, he pulled the waistband back up, so I once again looked away, not wanting to get caught.

   He turned around then and faced me with a smile, before walking over to the foot of my tub and submerging both of his hands in my water. At first, that seemed odd, but I giggled and understood it must have been his way of washing his hands, like you're supposed to do after you do your business. While he was there though, he suddenly reached in further and found one of my feet. Before I could say anything, he grabbed it and started tickling the bottom of the arch. I gasped "Hey!" and started twisting and squirming, forgetting all pretense of hiding myself for those few seconds, as he lifted and pulled my foot higher. The more he tickled it, the more I laughed as I tried to pull away from him. Strangely enough, I was also trying to keep from getting too loud, because for some reason or another, I really didn't want my Mom or anyone finding out I had let him into the bathroom with me. He also was being very hushed, eerily quiet even, and after what seemed like a long time to me (but was probably only seconds), he finally stopped and let go, dropping my foot back into the water.

   Now, I had reacted to that attempt like any kid my age would have done; I think: kicking, twisting, laughing and whatever, and I am sure in all of that squirming my 8-year-old dick and balls came uncovered a few times, completely visible to his eyes. I saw him more than once looking at my crotch as it bobbed up and down in the water, exposing my privates to him uninhibited. When he let go, I knew he had been looking at me because he then scooted up to the side of my tub with one of those devious-looking grins on his face. I stopped squirming and watched him, impassive I guess, but curious as to what was going on. When he just sat there temporarily though, I was starting to get a little nervous. Still, I said nothing and waited. It wasn't long before he leaned in and whispered something to me. "You've got weird balls, man..."

   I remember my face scrunched up, and I responded with something like, "Huh?" He glanced at me and the reached one of his hands straight down into the water where my privates were, and pushed it between my legs. He got it underneath my butt and sort of cupped my nuts, before lifting me up until my groin broke the surface. I remember trying to look at myself too, wondering what the heck he meant by them being weird. I think I even sat back more and pivoted my whole midsection so it "floated" on top, I guess. Not for his benefit, mind you, but for my own. Up until that point, I still was okay with everything, mostly. For the time being, he just had my curiosity, you know?

   He used his other hand to push the bubbles both aside and off of my abdomen, and then there I was in plain, glorious naked view to both his eyes and mine. He "played" with me for a few seconds too, feeling around my dick and nuts sort cupping them in his fingers. "Yep," he finally spoke, nodding as he whispered. "These are some pretty cool marbles, but honest, I've never seen any quite like this!" Like this?

   I didn't know what to think of that - at first. I remember thinking about asking him why they were different, or what was his like and all. But honestly, I started worrying that something was wrong, that I wasn't "normal" in some way. Maybe something really was weird down below, because I'm such an oddball and bookworm and who knows what else. At least, I always felt that way, and when he said it they looked "weird", I didn't know how to take it.

   Something else started happening though, that took my mind away from all of that. My cousin continued to play with me for a while. He left my nuts and started touching my willy, and for a brief second, it started getting hard and stiff. When I watched him, his eyes were like glued to me, and he started whispering something. 'This is cool, too...', he breathed repeatedly a few times. I should have been flattered I guess, but the way he made it sound was something different entirely. Even at just 8 years old, I recognized something... different. The whole exchange lasted 20, maybe 30 seconds before I started to feel very funny about it and frowned. I mean, up to that point no one in my life ever saw or touched my privates like he was doing, you know? At least, no one except maybe my mom or my babysitter when I was little. You can understand that, right? I was a private kid, after I learned all about going to the potty and taking the right kind of baths or whatever.

   Here was Jeremy though, and he was not just looking me over out of curiosity, but fondling with "it", trying to make me harder, I guess. When I looked at his expression though, that was what started to scare me even more. I don't know how to explain it, especially given the fact I was no older than I was; there was just something more to it, and the more I watched him, the weirder it felt.

   It was at that moment I was as limp as you could imagine, and I finally had had enough. I pulled myself back and, sitting up, I submerged myself back into the water. I was trying to be nice and just pull away from him, but he didn't let go. Instead, he kept hanging on, following me back as I sat up. I thought to myself 'What the heck!'

   Of all the things, I could have just told him to get out, to leave me alone. Instead, though, I started getting more scared. I don't know why, just to the mind of a kid like me it was weird, and well, somehow it was just wrong. I'm guilty, you know? I've often thought it would be cool to sneak and sit by someone while they were in the tub, maybe help them dry off when they got out - anything, just so I could have a sort of intimate moment with them. Especially if I knew them, and they knew me ... and if we trusted each other.

   That night, though, I know I didn't think a lot of letting him come in and pee, or even seeing me "down there". Seriously, I wasn't really afraid to let him see me naked or anything. If he really wanted to see me, and had asked me, I probably would have just let him. That was no big deal, not to me anyway. Maybe it's that curiosity side I always think about that allowed me to think it was okay, at least at the start. I was a boy, and he was a boy, right? I look back now, and I think maybe it was because I was uncircumcised or something. Nonetheless, what triggered in him, I don't know.

   When I saw the look in his face though, and I saw his eyes and how he was doing this stuff to me? Moving my skin up and down on my dick, pulling it back and everything - it just, I don't know. I wasn't horny or stiff, just "normal," I think. Maybe at first, it seemed okay, but then I didn't like it, and then for some reason or another, I very rapidly came to the conclusion I didn't like him anymore.

   I started to pull away even more, taking his hand and pushing it back and away. I was just getting ready to say something, too, when we both heard his Dad calling up the stairs. Jeremy whipped his hands away quickly then and stood up fast, heading out the doorway in a flash. I could hear footsteps as the older man started coming up, and I remember sighing with relief. Not wasting any time either, once he was through the door, I pulled the stopper and got out of the tub fast. Drying quickly, I pulled some clothes on as fast as I could get them up my still half-wet legs. I heard voices at the end of the hall by then, and could make out just enough that his dad had brought up fresh clothes for Jeremy to wear the next morning. I also heard him tell Jeremy to get some sleep, and not to be keeping me up any, as we all had a long day tomorrow.

   I heard them separate and Jeremy go back into the guest room and close the door. Making my way quickly down the hall, I got into my room and closed the door, wishing for once I had a lock on it. I quickly pulled on some pajamas, and then pulled some stuff up to the door to block it. Not heavy, since I couldn't really move furniture or anything around that much, but enough to make it difficult to open as it was. I did it just in time, too, as a minute or two later I heard a little knock and Jeremy calling out in a low voice from the hallway. I ignored him though, backing up to my dresser and turning out my light before just standing there and watching. I was confused, hurt, even angry somewhat - and I was so hoping he wasn't going to force his way in or anything. Finally, he got tired I think, and I heard him call out 'Night Sean' as he turned and retreated back into his room. I sighed in relief, but remained silent as I stared at the back of my door, as if willing to see through it and into the other room.

   Maybe he was coming to apologize or something. Maybe I should have given in, maybe even went to his room and just talked to him about it. Maybe I should have just gotten him to explain, or give him a chance to apologize. Maybe a lot of things should have happened, but none of them did. Sorry, I guess I should have been more sympathetic at the end, but don't forget - an equal argument can be made he was coming back for more "play" time, or worse. The fact remains though, I was eight ... fucking ... years ... old, and this bigger kid had somehow scared the shit out of me. I didn't know him, I didn't trust him that way, at least not yet. The cavity it left in my stomach was bad, and after a bit I just crawled into my bed under the covers, thinking about him and what had happened. It was a long time that night before I fell asleep. I remember lying there and feeling weird, even crying at times - although I never really understood why I was crying. I think the only reason I did fall asleep that night was from pure exhaustion.

   I developed an unfortunate dislike for Jeremy from that moment on. Perhaps it wasn't the sex stuff that bothered me the most really, but something else instead. I thought I had found someone I could play with finally, in my family, even if only for a little while. He had acted like he cared about me as I was, without being something special, and I had warmed up to that - even with all the physical closeness he had done with me. Then, in a moment of solitude, he did this thing to me, making me feel weird, and ... dirty? I don't know. He didn't hurt me physically, but to someone who just didn't know these things any better back then, or knows how to feel about them, I was ... ashamed.

   Needless to say, from the next day onward I avoided him as much as I could get away with. He never said anything at all to me about the night before, but what few times we were together throughout the morning, his whole attitude had changed. Now, instead of the playful buddy, I was now some kind of creep or something, like some kind of criminal. I didn't give him the satisfaction of getting me anywhere off alone or to myself again, though. I clung to my Mom, or to other grownups, every chance I got until they left to go home. His attitude continued to evolve, so much that after a while he started getting prissy, and was caught actually putting me down. He thought we were finally alone, when he made some kind of a snide remark like, 'Sheesh Sean, don't be such a prick and a cry-baby about it'. That made me mad - oh so fucking mad! I could have belted him in the balls if it wasn't for all the people around the church at the time. Come to find out though, I didn't need to. His mother heard him and grabbed him by the ear and led him away - right in plain sight of everyone else there!

   When the funeral was over, they finally left for home, which made me not only feel like a weight had been lifted, but really ... happy. I was only to see him one more time, a couple of years later at a family reunion or something. We still skillfully ignored each other yet again. When I graduated high school, his parents came to my graduation, but he was nowhere to be seen.

   I still think to this day I would have been alright with all of what went down, and maybe even more, if it just hadn't been for the way he handled everything, including his cocky attitude and - lust. That was, I think, what I saw in his face that night, something I can recognize today, but back then would have ever eluded me, I think. If he had just talked to me about it, I might have been a lot more accepting then, you know? We might could have built a little trust for each other, but I couldn't, and he didn't. To this day I never got an apology, never got an explanation - anything out of him other than that last snide pot shot he took at me. The last I heard of him was a couple of years ago, he had gotten some girl pregnant and they were getting married - unplanned, but whatever...

[Author's Addendum, 2019: I want to note that Jeremy finally sat down with me at a Christmas get-together, I think in 2016. Though he was shy, we did eventually talk about that night. I'm happy to say we came to an understanding of one another, as he finally understood my fears and what I thought about all of it, and in turn I understood that his hormones and curiosity were getting the best of him. He had, for years, lived in a kind of shame for behaving like he did, but I told him it was all cool with me. We hugged, for a very long time - one of those real hugs, too, that are few and far between most people anymore. Not trying to be overly dramatic, but the longer I clung to him, the more he let go of his feelings and fears, too. We now talk every few months, as he actually doesn't live very far from me, and we have a very friendly relationship between us. Enough said... :o) ] 

    All of this happened on my so-called road to discovery, and it's where my first sexual experience - if that's what you want to call it, really began. I always felt like I was alone most of the time, and because I didn't really know any better, to me it was just a normal life, seen by the eyes of a kid. I mostly grew up just being around and living with my Mom. My parents divorced when I was 6 or 7 - I don't always remember the exact year, knowing I could probably look it up if I ever really wanted to sometime, but also never really caring that much to do it. I think that it's by choice. When my parents separated, it hurt me really bad. I was young, and I could not understand the why's of how people who loved each other initially, could fall out of love so easily. I blamed myself completely, for a long time, even though they told me it had nothing to do with me. It wasn't until just before I entered college that I ever found out the truth behind what happened, and why. No, I won't go into the gory details of it here, because this is my story, not theirs; just suffice it to say, my parents had a falling out over some basic beliefs they couldn't resolve, and one thing led to another. Although initially they just separated, it eventually became permanent. Still, for me, it was like my whole world fell apart and shut down.

   In fact, I did shut down - hard. School became an antagonistic environment for me, where even though I was small, I wasn't that much smaller than the other kids around me. Almost anything they did playing around or taunting me caused my fuse to ignite, setting me off in the wildest of moods. I became an antagonistic brat; I cursed - not really uncommon (I heard a lot of other kids swear a lot worse than me at times), but still bad enough. I cursed not only to the other kids, but at the teachers and school principal too. Sometimes I initiated it, other times it was someone goading or egging me on. One year, I was in third grade I think, the teacher had her back turned when someone flicked my ear. I was already in a bad mood that day, so I just turned around and punched the living snot out of the kid behind me, one swing, right in the nose. Of course, she (the teacher) only "magically" saw me and nothing else, so she took me to the principal's office, and he in turn just shook his head and put me in a corner seat while he called my Mom. About an hour later she showed up and walked through the door. They sent me outside in the hallway, while they talked quietly behind the closed door. Eventually, she came out, and the look on her face told me not to say a word. We went home in silence and I was sent to my room. The next day was Friday, and I didn't go to school; I had been expelled for the rest of the week. I knew I was in trouble, more so than usual, and all the while I kept getting more and more scared. No one would talk to me, and I kept regretting what I had done, kept feeling sorry for myself and trying to figure out why I couldn't keep myself in control anymore. All I could get through my head though, was how unfair all of it was - like it always was - and then how stupid I was becoming about it all, making it my fault and mine alone.

   That Friday evening Dad came to visit, and you talk about a changing feeling within me. I was at an all-time low. See, I loved my father, I respected him more so than a lot of kids would ever do. Even though he left us, he never gave me a rough time about anything, often trying to console me, help me, cheer me up or cheer me on - especially when he and Mom were going through their problems. He never beat or screamed or mistreated us - unlike some of the stories I heard kids tell from divorced families; but that night, he put a fear in me like I had never had before. When he came to my bedroom door, I could see "the look". My eyes were filled with tears, my face stained, my voice gone; I had already earlier tried to sober up, be brave, be a man I guess, but that one look at him withered me and everything around me came to a stand-still. I look back at that now, and I knew it was for my own good, and not just because I got the whipping of my life. It wasn't the pain that hurt me so much as the sound of his voice and the fact that he had to do it.

   That was a radically changing moment for me, above and beyond anything I had ever faced before. I went back to school the following Monday, very much like a broken puppy with his tail tucked between his legs. The kids jeered me, taunted me like crazy, for weeks. The end result was the fact that the broken bad-ass that I was, simply was no more. I took it in stride, not because of defiance, but because of what it did to me on the inside. As much as that whipping hurt physically, I somehow saw the pain it had brought not to just Dad's eyes, but to his heart, and I knew it was all the more equal for my Mom, too. The hugging and holding they both gave me afterwards, for what seemed like hours, somehow helped me let out a lot of anger and let me cry it out. Anger at the world, at them getting divorced, at myself. They just held me, and comforted me as it came out, too, and although I had one hell of a headache afterwards from crying so much, I somehow felt a lot better. It didn't just happen overnight, but in the weeks that followed, I learned there was nothing I could do that was going to change anything between them, and I finally began to realize just what it was costing my Mom, trying to being me up on her own. I vowed to myself never to break their hearts again - something I think to be pretty amazing for an 8-year-old now, looking back, you know? It changed me into the quiet kid I grew up to be.

   The kids in school were pretty bad at first, but that eventually got better. As I stayed in touch with my quiet side, they left me alone to my own little world. I only had one other fight in school after that, and it didn't happen for several years. Thankfully, it happened in a way that was so much for the better, because I stood up for myself, for a whole lot of different reasons...

   And no, I didn't get expelled that time.

   And no... I didn't get another whipping either. :o)

Comments, and suggestions always appreciated at Sean E.