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The following story is for adults and contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact between adolescent and adult males and the power imbalance of these relationships. Like so many of my stories, this is a voyage and return.

If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my overactive imagination. I hope you like it and feel free to respond.

Fourteen runs through five progressions, with frequent interludes. If you would like to comment, contact me ail.

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Chapter 46 continues the collaboration with Phillip Marks, who provides the voice of Sophie Wright, Remy and Greyson Gates, the relentless police, and the kids from Chillicothe, Ohio.

Anton and Daniel 9

Washington County, Western Pennsylvania

19:36, April 3, 2018,

The boy”s picture was on the screen again. Damn Justice Channel, that Adam Walsh talking. Schoolboy photo. Sometimes they”d flash that old man”s photo too but they said he”s dead. Alice averted her eyes and continued doing her bar back setup. The rum and Bailey”s both needed to be replenished, ice and other supplies needed for the evening shift.

But the PSA was still replaying in her head. It had been persistently there for weeks even if it was only on and off on the TV. It just wouldn”t go away.

Can”t just go report on that. Besides I was so drunk it”s all a dream. Probably wasn”t any pretty little teen boy at all, some half-dwarf thirty year old fucking me and I was too drunk to… anyway there were three of them… and never that old man…

$90,000, to a woman of her station in life was a virtually irresistible reward. And ten years in the pen was nearly as unattractive a counterweight.  

She rooted out the remote control and switched to ESPN. She didn”t like sports much but it was better. Anything that didn”t give her a headache was better.

If I was sure it was him… But she couldn”t complete the thought, because, if it was him, what would she do? Well at any rate she wasn”t sure it was the same kid, it did look pretty similar, a younger version. It had been haunting her for a while.

It would put my kids at risk. Fuck, if I tell everything I could go to jail.

Maybe she”d call tomorrow.

Acapulco is hours away now. Anton climbs over Daniel’s resting body with a passing kiss for his lover. He relieves Fourteen at the helm, so he can be the one to bring Surocco into the business of Acapulco’s marina district. It is 4:00 am. The end of the boy’s first Middle Watch, and for a wonder, Anton slept the eight hours undisturbed. He is proud of the youth still sitting alert at the helm when he comes up. Not a knight quite yet. How did the damn Chaucer go?

So hoote he lovede that by nyghtertale

He sleep namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale.

Curteis he was, lowely and servysáble,

And carf biforn his fader at the table.

Anton only ever remembered the squire. If Anton had been riding with that motley crew to Canterbury, he would have been the lusty squire. He gets a smile from his young crew member at the helm. Fourteen was courteous in his rejection of Beckett, modest, useful about the ketch. The youth slipped down to his berth, proud to have stood his watch all alone.

It was left to Anton to watch the Acapulco dawn. This close to the coast, that meant watching the 24-hour constellation of Acapulco’s beachfront towers fade as the sky beyond the surrounding hills intensified. Three quarters of the way through Anton’s watch he furls his sails and starts the heavy Volvo. That brings Fourteen back on deck.

That’s to be expected, Anton thinks. Daniel might sleep on, but Fourteen lies three feet from the engine room below Anton’s feet. Fourteen makes his way to the bow and like the Zoomer he is, he holds his phone up, hoping to get a signal. We’re too far out, Anton tells him silently. Fourteen returns below without a comment. He resurfaces with coffee for them both. They share the approaching resort city while the unfamiliar roar of the diesel engine drones on.

Surocco is heading into the heavy traffic of the Las Playas marina-parking lot, Anton slips his earbuds on and lets the powerful Volvo whine up to a peace-jarring, deck-vibrating surge in the water. If Anton wanted a jet boat or a cabin cruiser like the ones he is approaching-avoiding, he would have bought one. Anton Schroeder loves the cacophony of a crowded-steamy party like Tyrone threw in Puerto Vallarta, or a crowded club. He has driven an egregiously expensive sports car up to a howl and loved the power in his hands like he loves a man driving his sports-car-body. Boys with their toys, Anton smiles.

He appreciates engines, but Anton loves the harmony of a sailboat cutting through the water under a full sail. It recalls the time he tried gliding. So much better than pushing forcefully through the air. More wind power, Anton supposes, Following your nature, not opposing it. Anton Schroeder understands this about himself. The trust-fund-spoiled son of Valerie Avakian’s executive before was a cage machined to suffocate. Anton was a fluttering bird desperately looking for the door.

Valerie Avakian bowed to the irreconcilable with an unexpected grace. She saw it was best to set him free like a hawk from her glove. Anton could range free on the updrafts and skip the ocean waves and his soul could stay whole. Valerie Avakian called her mercurial son back from his fancy-flights often enough to remind him that Mirage Property Advisors and the greater legacy-burden of Avakian Fisher Empirical could not be escaped.

Anton knows all that, God the Hag reminded him regularly. He understood the terms of his parol. He lets the ketch swing to port with the bow thruster to avoid a head-on collision and lets the heavy beat of the Eurythmics compete with the Volvo growling it’s devil fumes directly below his feet.

Surocco cleaves a bow wave and off the stern, the Acapulco waters churn. Anton bobs his head with his music and smiles at Fourteen. Anton appreciates machines. The ketch’s motor is a necessary disturbance in the Force. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow; be Martin Sheen on the gunboat charging up the Mekong River in a tropical sweat.

This is not Anton’s first view of the city, so his mind is on the longer passage from Acapulco to La Union, in El Salvador. Beside him, Fourteen is taking his first look at Acapulco. Anton calculates the distance left to the marina where Surocco can provision for the journey south. This was Anton’s Beckett-fix. He forced a gathering to replace the one he imagined in Puerto Vallarta with Tyrone Casey. Fourteen and Daniel on his arm (or ass) so to speak. Anton showing he was totally over Beckett’s poorly calculated rejection.

Anton dismisses the tension-titillating-tease of the last fifty hours with his ex boyfriend. He is ready to have Beckett and Ishmael off his boat.  Beckett did fume from Puerto Vallarta to Acapulco. Weaseling $20,000 for his next exhibition should have soothed Beckett somewhat; How over-a-man can you possibly be when you fly him down, then cut him a cheque like that?

Beckett took the money as if the generosity was on his part. Beckett’s goal was accomplished. That was to be expected from Anton. But the unexpected-elusive-available Fourteen made Beckett fume for days. Well, Ishmael showed he could ace a few in the V-berth with Anton and Fourteen. Seeing Beckett fail was the highlight of the passage for Anton.

Joker indeed, Anton smiles at the memory. Fourteen’s wild card was top trump. The boy was the skip card forcing Anton and Ishmael to miss turns. Anton never heard Fourteen’s answer to Malachi, “I’m a utility player,” but the sun-parti-coloured Joker demonstrated his versatility between the Heart and the Diamond in the V-berth for an hour salsa dancing. V-berth, how utterly appropriate.

Beckett did fume when he found out. Beckett misunderstood the rules of the game. Fourteen rolled over close to Anton’s side of the V when they were drained and a shower was what the three needed next. “I’m not your whore.” Very firm, said with some adolescent uncertainty in the eyes. Fourteen kissed Anton’s lips to take the sting out of that declaration.

“You’re crew, not part of the job description, love.” Anton whispered back and Fourteen nodded.

♪♫♬ Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

I travel the world

And the seven seas, ♪♫♬

Everybody”s looking for something.

Some of them want to use you

Some of them want to get used by you

Some of them want to abuse you

Some of them want to be abused.

♪♫♬ Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

I travel the world

And the seven seas

Everybody”s looking for something ♪♫♬

Hold your head up

Keep your head up, movin” on

Hold your head up, movin” on

Keep your head up, movin” on

Hold your head up

Keep your head up, movin” on

Hold your head up, movin” on

Keep your head up, movin” on

♪♫♬ Some of them want to use you

Some of them want to get used by you

Some of them want to abuse you

Some of them want to be abused.

♪♫♬ Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

I traveled the world

And the seven seas

Everybody”s looking for something

♪♫♬Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

I traveled the world

And the seven seas

Everybody”s looking …. ♪♫♬

Beckett did not know Fourteen’s game. The proud man might fling his Ishmael Queen of Hearts at the whole party-deck. Anton always chose to fling himself or not fling at all. He thinks Fourteen demands that autonomy too. Daniel thinks the boy is young, Anton demures. Fourteen is past young. Demand and supply, Fourteen understands the economics of desire.

The music plays on until Anton can finally cut the engine and his crew can toss the lines over to the helpful line tenders at the Las Playas marina. A night in a fresh-flesh pot with Daniel, restock the boat for weeks at sea, cut Beckett loose. Fourteen looks everywhere.

Anton fist saw Acapulco far younger than Fourteen is now. Anton saw most everything there was younger than this Ohio boy. He understands the boy’s interest in his next new port. One adventure after another, until you realize they are all the same, and the adventure is in your own actions. Anton watches Fourteen soak in the tropical city waking to a new day.

Fourteen waits until Beckett and Ishmael have left Surocco for their hotel. Anton needs them (politely) off the ketch while work is done. Las Playas is a port of call, not a destination. Anton and Daniel have been this and that with everything. They have fueled and watered, now Surocco lies in the way tied to a buoy. Jeremy is the on call tender-taxi driver when the men call him from the pier.

The marina at Las Playas is as crowded as a Saturday in the Walmart parking lot. Hundreds occupy sheltered bay. Surocco is just past the third row of regimented hulls, near cabin cruisers that look empty at this time of day. Hotels look down on Fourteen, including a seventeen story tower Anton gifted his ex partner for Beckett’s last night.

A woman in a bright swim top takes the time to wave at him. He waves back and tugs the tender’s line just to be sure. Jeremy switches on his burner phone and as soon as it boots up, it starts chirping notifications.

Holy cow over twenty missed calls? Who…I don”t know these numbers, are any of them the number mom and dad gave me? A dozen voice mails. Oh that one that”s Wade”s number. Shit I forgot to block my number when I called him!  

Well he has no time to listen to a bunch of VM”s from god knows who.

He texts the number he had memorized, it is saved in the phone under GRG; the only saved contact on a phone with just one purpose.

April 18 2 pm

Chillicothe OH

Remy Gates is home; she has taken a long leave of absence from her job, has not worked in the eight months since Jeremy was taken. Since the midnight call brought to them by Wade, she carries the cheap phone everywhere, every minute; her breath catches when it vibrates into life with its first notification.

🔴

Are you there can I call now?

Yes pls call now, Remy messages back. She casts about her and settles for leaning against the kitchen counter.

“Hi, it”s me.”

“Hello, Jem.” How much can you compress into two spare words?

“Dad’s not there, is he.” Just a quick confirmation. “Mom. I wanted to call when dad would be home but I can only call now. I won”t be able to talk later, I”ve only got a little while.”

“It”s OK Jeremy, Dad will be sorry he missed your call, but it”s ok. He”ll be glad we could talk. Oh it”s so good to hear your voice!”

Jeremy clenches down on his gut to keep any tears in check. Someone’s heavy diesel turns over close at hand. Jeremy covers one ear and presses the phone hard against the other. Jeremy heads for the quiet of Surocco’s salon.

“Mom I had Sophie send you an email, I don”t know if she sent it. I didn”t think I could call you. Then I figured out how to get hold of Wade the other day.”

“Yes we got it son. Jeremy you don”t need to apologize. There is no way we are disappointed in you, we are concerned for you. Where are you?” The noise Remy heard is muted now. She imagines a roadside truckstop.

Jeremy is leaning against his galley counter, a mirror of his mother. “I – you know I really can”t say mom. I just can”t.”

“How are you then? Are you OK? Do you need anything?”

“Yeah I”m OK I don”t need anything. I just… it”s good to hear your voice mom, that”s really why I called. Just wanted to hear your voice. And I”m, I”ve been thinking I want to call whenever I get a chance, so maybe we can set it up. I figured I can text you and set up a time to call and if I can”t call, I can at least text.”

“Sure son, one of us will have the phone always. So you can text or call or set up a time to call whenever you want. And son, there have been some changes since you called last week. I need to explain it to you.”

Remy turns to look out the window at an April rain. Jeremy needs to understand. “First thing after San Diego we asked the FBI to stop looking for you as a kidnap victim.” This is greeted by silence at the other end. “I have to say they aren”t happy about it, and I don”t think they have yet, but in time, I am sure they will. They aren”t tapping the phones any more.”

“But something bigger is that your dad and I talked to the press a few days ago, and we told everyone that you are not lost any more. And Jeremy – I want to believe that”s true.”

“What does it mean, lost, mom.” It”s not a question. Jeremy is lost and he knows it.

“I understand Jem.” Remy wants her son to know she hears him. “There”s been a lot of reaction to the announcement, people are confused about it. I think in time it will make things simpler.”

She walks away from the counter, unconscious that she is walking up the stairs to Jeremy’s room. “We hear that you don”t want to be located yet but… we decided cebeci escort we don”t want police and people looking for you. We want to help you come home, to come home when you are ready and able. We really understand you think you can’t come home yet, but it”s ok, it”s ok, we will be here for you whenever you can come.”

“Thanks mom.” Jeremy has moved as well. He listens to his mother’s voice and trails his fingers across the wall towards Anton’s stateroom. He ends up staring at the men’s messy bed through the open bulkhead.

“And Jem, I am going to ask you and you need to tell me, are you on a boat somewhere? Or did you walk into Mexico from San Diego? Or are you still in the States?”

“Why do you think I”m on a boat?” Guardedly; Jeremy is hyper-conscious of the harbour noise that drifts on the tropical air down Anton’s open port. He tunes the boat noises out, like he ignores his next inhalation and sub vocal sigh. What is his phone transmitting?

“Sophie took a photo of you on a boat, she”s on a boat, she told us she helped you get away.” The precious picture.

There is a silence. Then “I can”t answer questions like that mom. I”m OK, I travel sometimes. I am with people…people like me, they are nice to me; they understand me. I have a job. I”m safe mom. I”m sorry I”m such a problem for you…”

“Jeremy Paul Gates! You are not a problem to us! We are afraid for you. You are too young to be on your own in this way, and yes we are worried, but you are not a problem. And we are not angry and not ashamed of you. Never!”

He cannot stand this emotional pain, later he will regret it, but, “Mom I have to go. I”ll call again when I can. I have to go right now.” Jeremy breaks the connection. He listened and it will take time for his mother’s reassurance to sink in. We are not angry and not ashamed of you. Never! Fourteen remembers this on the long passage south.

Remy curses herself, she pushed too hard, made him feel — she doesn”t know what, just knows she blew it. She is standing in Jeremy’s room, looking at the empty bed where her son might lie, working through some problem he cannot explain to mom or dad.

All those get-off-my-back moments adolescence brought to cloud my son’s sunny ways. Remy misses the mundane frustration of those clash-moments before. Oh god! The argument we had over the blasted Shawn Mendes concert, simpler times. Then sunny ways again as Jeremy comes back to her in some small reconciliation like eating a few of her cookies while she bakes. Remy bends down and smooths a wrinkle that isn’t there.

Acapulco is two weeks behind them all. It is 3:15 on the Afternoon Watch. Two-foot seas with a broad reach across the port stern. Anton raised the spinnaker at 3:00 and with the autopilot engaged, he steps below to grab some water. Fourteen knows he likes it cold in these tepid latitudes. A 2-litre bottle lies on its side in the tiny fridge waiting. Anton fills his thermos bottle and rests against the galley stove.

It is a typical Daniel-Fourteen-Anton monastic-maritime moment of silence. Fifteen days on their first long cruise and they have kept a three-section dogged watch (more or less) since leaving Acapulco. They had been becalmed, once for an aimless-indolent day. They endured rough squalls, some between each other in the torrid temperature. Anton swallows the water with fresh lime juice (for scurvy, Fourteen’s excuse for starving Anton with vegetables).

Daniel and Fourteen are swallowed by their devices. Fourteen is staring at something on his new ten-inch tablet. As Anton watches, the boy’s index finger taps-decisive on the keyboard. Daniel fussed when Fourteen went off to shop by himself. Anton asked the boy if he needed anything.

“I’m good.” Fourteen grinned as he scampere into the zodiac with his empty bike bag and his head full of afternoon shopping plans. “Just chill, the groceries are stowed. Take a rest old man, you’ll need it tonight!” Anton remembers that affectionate crack, Old man indeed!

Fourteen came back subdued, but with his bike bag stuffed with his new tablet. How much did he spend on that? Anton has casually left it to Daniel to satisfy the kid’s needs. There was the expense of the phone they bought the boy in La Paz, the swimming gear. Anton’s money has been spent. Fourteen bought the tablet with his own money. There was nothing said in their San Diego handshake about wages. Still, if Anton can give Beckett $20,000 to display a plastic machine gun welded onto a broken Big Wheel covered in the artist’s own vomit, he ought to give Fourteen some pocket money when they reach port.

Anton sips a little citrace-infused water. His Daniel is back to obsessing about his architecture dreams. This leaves Anton guilt-nervous. This resumed after Daniel’s trip to Mexico City. Daniel’s Protestant work ethic is asserting itself. The earnestness of the middle class, Anton does not understand it in his mother, or in Daniel. Beckett Calibaba certainly lacked it. Born as modestly as Daniel (or young Fourteen and Ishmael), Beckett treats work as a peacock-plumage spread to dazzle boys.

Meeting Beckett in Puerto Vallarta was a mistake. Anton knew it when Daniel announced his Mexico City side trip on the Copper Canyon train. “Well, they are going to be there with Tyrone. It’s just passing ships, Daniel!” Paid for once again by me. Daniel would suspect that Beckett still had his cock-hook in Anton’s heart. Inviting Becket on Surocco was a mistake, compounded.

It is another monastic-maritime moment of silence in the salon. Anton rehydrates. Two weeks with the three-watch regime is almost over. Anton has his destinations, places he wants to see. La Union is very close. The delightful sameness of the cruise makes Anton want to turn Surocco in a graceful curve and head her out into the Pacific.

Flirting with the brash young woman in San Diego — Sophie Wright — that was her name, the girl who sent Fourteen to him. Sophie told him about the endless cruise from Papua New Guinea to San Diego. The infinite ocean, rafts of bioluminescence below the starlight. Squalls and calms, the strength-fragility of the sailboat beneath your feet. Anton could turn Surocco in a graceful curve. Keep Daniel from the irresistibly beautiful singing of his architectural-enchanting song.

Mother would be livid if I dropped off the map for a month or two. Not a siren, but a harpy, his mother, Valerie Avakian. Anton was expected-doomed to deal with Mirage Property Advisors. It was his long apprenticeship for becoming Master and Commander of Avakian Fisher Empirical when his indomitable mother unimaginably failed. Valerie Avakian certainly had her well entrenched Protestant work ethic.

He needs to return to the cockpit because Surocco is turned toward the coast of San Salvador. The trip south has been pretty easy, going with the wind and current. There were gale force winds around Salina Cruz. When they entered the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Anton took the advice and kept “one foot on the beach” from Oaxaca to the Guatemala border. Surocco cruised along the 15 fathom curve so even when the wind blew up they did not have rough seas. Anton’s young men kept their watch, their not quite monastic life.

Fourteen glances up from the boredom of some Kindle book and grins at Anton. Not quite monastic, Anton grins back. There were more than a few get thee to a nunnery moments on the cruise south. More than enough sweat-drenched pairings where the three men gave up the salt the sea had given them. When the wind died, things got interesting.

The Gulf of Fonseca  was hot. The wind had almost completely died, and the air was heavy. The rollers were smooth and glassy across their curving backs. Surocco sat there alone in the middle of a huge, round ocean under a brilliant dome of sky. There was nothing, nothing except the monotonous curve of the waves and the occasional blinding glint of the sunlight on the water. Anton recalls his game with Ishmael at the salon table. That windless day, the cards got shuffled regularly.

Fourteen’s grin restores Anton’s good mood. They will rest in La Union, have their moment in El Salvador. Passing Acajutla, Anton thought to test the “Sailing School” fabrication Daniel crafted for him before they left Acapulco. Fourteen was Jeremy Gates again with his Caricom passport and the proper-improper documents that would pass negligent inspection.

Anton takes his cold thermos of water and runs a hand affectionately through Fourteen’s close crop. The sweating scalp-scent reminds him of slick moments between them. There is romance in Anton’s coupling with Daniel. Fourteen is an adolescent Tom-Cat with a stiff-leg responsive to Anton’s bitch-in-heat moments. He has the watch, so Anton reluctantly retreats back to the helm. The roadstead about La Union will be busy.

Fourteen abandon’s his GED Science Preparation Study Guide and follows Anton to the cockpit. He sees that Anton has gone forward to clear the spinnaker. Fourteen watches the coast on both sides as Surocco noses into the gulf.

From the map on the chart table below, Fourteen knows the Gulf of Fonseca recedes about 30 miles to its head deep into the confluence of three nations. Several prominent volcanic peaks rise on both sides of the entrance, and the high Islands lying within serve to identify the gulf and its approaches. Hours before, Anton called, “land ho!” and his young men scrambled to the deck so they could see the tall volcano. “Still 60 miles, boys.” Anton estimated.

Ports are difficult to identify from any distance over five miles. Anton likes to sail well out to sea. The sea brakes on reefs and so do fragile sailboats. Anton is not willing to expose Surocco to submerged rocks that stretch over an area one and a half miles offshore. Even so, along the way he shows off for Fourteen. He will squint like an ancient mariner at some volcanic summit not obscured by clouds and tell Fourteen, “Acajutla.”

It seems to Fourteen, from what he has seen, that the whole coast consists of sandy beaches dotted with resorts, broken in places by wave pounded cliffs. The sandy beaches give a very deceptive appearance to the land, especially at sunrise and sunset. The coast appears nearer than it really is. Often, the surf seems to break further from the coast than it actually does. Anton understands it all and he likes the way Fourteen’s agile-sponge-mind soaks it all up.

Two weeks, and Fourteen put Acapulco (and Beckett) behind him. Anton is back in the cockpit, and it is Fourteen’s turn to walk along the guardrail to the bow. Another fresh experience waits for Fourteen. More reminders that he is in jackrabbit flight with no fixed destination.

There was a dead man lying face down on the Acapulco beach, Like Elvis Parker in San Ysidro. Fourteen stood in the crowd with his bike bag filled with the weight of his new tablet and the fancy keyboard cover he gifted himself. The recently eaten fried steak churned a little in his belly. In seven languages, people in the crowd all shared the same thing. An execution, drug cartels, the body just washed up on the beach. Fourteen stayed in the throng, some distance from the body.

In the intense heat of Acapulco, it is Jeremy Gates in the barn again. John Cannon turns his death stare Jeremy’s way. He was just two terrified steps away from John’s snub nosed gun. Fourteen remembers the bitter-helpless end-times now of that moment. He wonders if the dead man on the beach saw daylight all around in his unknown death place. Was the dead man jackrabbit jumpy, dealing out his own blackjack hands, searching for a perfect combination?  No time for pleas to his stone-cold killers. Fourteen trembles a little. Patrick slipped the Levi card into my deck, lucky, very lucky. The dead man on the beach never shook that last death-card in his hand.

Fourteen is gone before the soldiers with assault rifles take the body bag away. His happy mood is stripped away while he recovers from the latest bruised-knee-spill from his before skateboard. He turns from the beach crowd and walks back into the tourist-friendly streets where he has been.

Acapulco looked exciting as they cruised in. Anton and Daniel planned to club one night with Beckett and Ishmael. The teenager was relegated to standing watch in port. The idea of clubbing was attractive. Levi Fisher told him no-regrets stories of his own youth: Shirts off Saturday Night Fever dancing like a deva-dervish to orgasm-pounding rhythms. San Francisco, still on Fourteen’s bucket list.

The men would party hard, so the afternoon was Fourteen’s shore leave. Anton loved his nautical terms. It was Fourteen’s first try at taking a ride share with the app and PayPal. He sat in the back seat with the memory of riding the sunshine-taxi with Rafael’s friends to Los Mochis. It is a better memory than the dusky-ride-share in Puerto Vallarta. Here in Acapulco, there is a return to the school-bell-release after days on Surocco negotiating the reefs laid down by four men’s interest.

Fourteen ended at the Office Depot on the corner of Av Cuauhtemoc and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo — the street he followed back from the death-soiled beach. Oh, the simple joys of shopping. He settled on a mid-range Galaxy with a keyboard cover. Then he rubbernecked the downtown. There was a Scotiabank branch across the street from the Toks restaurant where he had a fried steak. He self-consciously asked for a virgin Margarita, feeling like a tourist, then stopped caring when he tasted the Tequila the cute bartender slipped into his drink. He felt very adult eating by himself and paying the bill with his debit card. He felt very adult flirting briefly with the bartender.

Why does Acapulco come back right now? Fourteen asks himself as he watches the coast creep closer. Because you never know what is waiting for you in the next port. Fourteen remembers the hell-hath-no-fury rage of pointing the gun at Elvis Parker. He can relive the fatal now when the Beretta Nano seemed to bark all on its own in the San Ysidro kitchen. Did the man lying face down in the surf die in a fright-filled reflex strike? Probably not, Fourteen sees John Cannon’s stone cold eyes behind the gun.

Fourteen stirs uncomfortably on the bow. He wanders back to Anton at the helm. Neither like talking over the unclean sound of the heavy diesel driving them into their next port. Remember the look in the barn next time you’re stirred by the memory of John’s body handling yours. John was like the men who dispassionately executed the man on the beach. Business is business, like Sergio Ochoa fuck-shaming an old man in that Puerto Vallarta bar. Treating people like toilet paper, Fourteen — Jeremy Gates — cannot do that. Fourteen stands contemplating the ocean and the volcano-sentinels. How do you come back from that? He wonders.

Anton notices that Fourteen is fidgety beside him. Anton keeps his mind on entering an unfamiliar gulf. Bahia de la Union has a large well sheltered Bay with shallow depth over most of its area. The harbour is landlocked with prevailing winds coming from the north. About a mile out, the pilot’s motor launch displayed the usual signals. Anton waves them off.

After a quick dock at the pier to top up Surocco’s depleted life-fluids, Anton moves the ketch away from the pier and drops the anchors. Fourteen is captivated. From Chillicothe, Ohio to San Diego, then down the Pacific coast, he has seen nothing to match this. çeşme escort Daniel and he take snapshots with their phones, comparing images. Since picking up the Galaxy in La Paz, Jeremy has been taking images. Over the long haul from Acapulco, he curated the images onto his new tablet.

The soaring cone he viewed coming into the bay reminds Fourteen of a snowless Mount Fuji. It lay across the quiet bay in Nicaragua, waiting for a climb. The partner-cone outside La Union looked climb-worthy, but it was not nearly as lofty.  It was a bay that might have captured Surocco’s attention, but Anton is intent on Panama and the transit to the Caribbean.

They had just finished churrascaria snagged on shore from La Bahia, where they ate their first night in La Union. Fourteen had phones in both front pockets as he did the lunch dishes when one buzzed. Thinking it might be his parents again. There had been brief texts back and forth, but Fourteen was not keen on reopening the topic of returning to Chillicothe. Fourteen ducks into the head and pulls out his burner. It”s the wrong one. So he pulls out his Galaxy and sees a text from Sophie Wright.

🟣

Hey Jemz are you free I need to borrow one ear maybe two

He flushes the head and goes out on deck, walks forward to the bow for privacy.

🔴

Fine call now

And in a moment the Galaxy starts to sing ♪♫♬ I get a little bit nervous around you, Get a little bit stressed ♪♫♬ Jeremy answers.

“Hey Sophie, what”s happening?”

“Kia Ora Jem, where are you now?”

Jeremy looks around at the small port, past the cargo ships to the sugar-loaf islands dotting the bay. “Oh we”re in San Salvador, La Union”

“On the West Coast?”

“Oh yeah, hey it”s nice here, wish you came this way; how was Hawaii, or is it how is Hawaii?”

“Oh that, well we had a change of plan, went far south, I”m off the coast of South America,” she delayed.

“Oh. Is that cool?”

“Yeah it”s fine I get to see Easter Island. I”m there now.”

“Way cool, I saw about that place on Nova once”

“Nova?”

“TV, don”t matter. What”s up, why did you call?” Jeremy is happy that Sophie did. This flight for freedom is so lonely. He is talking with his mom and dad, and now he is talking with Sophie Wright in freaking Easter Island while he looks out at a freaking volcano. Anton and Daniel are being cool about him too.

“Ah, I’m having a mare today; just wanted to hear a friendly voice.”

“They have cell towers on Easter Island?”

“No but they have wifi at the local Starbucks.”

“You”re kidding!” Jeremy glances back at the modesty of La Union. There are resorts close by. Like KOAs and Walmart parking lots, they clutter up the journey. Daniel hinted at a king size bed. Anton went all Captain Bligh on Mr. Christian. Daniel suggested Jeremy was so well trained, he could do without Anton. Daniel scanned La Union for hostile-helpful natives who might murder Anton on the beach. There was no Starbucks.

“Yeah I am kidding; no Starbucks but they do have free wifi at the Tongariki Cultural Center for one.” Sophie is sitting on the Center’s empty stage looking past the road and out onto the Pacific towards the west. West where she needs to go.

“Oh. So. You been fighting with whatsis name? He giving you a hard time?”

“Fighting no, not really the other. Just feeling lonely even with him here. Happens.” Graham Sumner is just a bit of fun, not hardly serious.

“How can I make you happy?” inquires Fourteen, pretty happy himself at the moment and willing to share his mood with his “big sister”.

Daniel Ayers comes on deck and notices Fourteen on his phone. Fourteen waves a negligent hand at him like he is twisting a bulb in a lamp. This is reassuring in its way. Daniel thinks the boy is connecting somewhere. He watches for a moment, then sits in the cockpit where the air is fresher.

“Oh just talk, tell you what, let’s have a squizz at your whānau, talk about your family, that would be good.”

“My family. They’re I dunno, family.”  

“Spill it, boy!”

“Oh um OK. Well you met my parents, so…  Grampa Herbert and Grandma Mary, they”re my dad”s folks. They live near Cleveland, and I dunno, they”re nice I guess.”

“You guess? Reckon that means they ain”t, what”s the real story then?” Rawiri Wright made tracks long ago and Sophie’s granny Meadow carked it in Rolleston. Meadow was a dag. Saffron is a kiwi dropped not far from the Rawiri-vine. Sophie has to sail West to prove she is different. They ain’t, is not good enough, by half.

“OK,” Jeremy pauses. How do I describe my grandparents? They were grandparents, not cool or hip, just Boomers. “Well, they”re really nice to me, actually. They always come for my birthday, and we see them at holidays all the time because it”s close. They live near Cleveland. But, Grandpa Herbert is kind of, I guess, kind of fussy and I don”t think…well…he”s fussy and I think maybe he”s pretty critical of my dad. I don”t really understand why he would be, my dad is such a great guy, and he”s a civil engineer the same as Grandpa Herbert. They both went to Ohio State.”

“Sometimes people can be too much like each other, it can be harder to get along.” Sophie is thinking about her mother, Saffron once again. Sophie does not want to be like her mom.

“I… but I”m like my dad and we get along great. My dad isn”t fussy like Grandpa.” There was a message from his dad on the burner phone when Jeremy turned it on again. Just sorry I missed you, and other dad-speak a guy expects wants-doesn’t. His dad knew he would not answer, not right away, not like in the Chillicothe-before.

“Wonder what that”s like, having a Dad… Ok, about your grandmother then?”

“Grandma Mary is nice. She always had cookies for me when I was a kid. She loves to sing to me, and when we are in Cleveland, she takes me places. The museums are way better than anything in Chillicothe. But I think she might be a little fussy too… Hey, I love them both! They might fuss and complain sometimes but they”re really nice.”

“Didn”t say you didn”t love “em, lad. Gotta love family even the …”  she pauses deep in thought for a moment,  “even the fussy ones. What about your other grandparents?”

“Oh I”m named for Grandpa Paul, he died before I was born, Paul is my middle name. Grandma Anita…” he falls silent then resumes, wistfully, “Grandma Anita she died when I was six. She had cancer. But she was, well, she was so nice. Mom says she used to take me everywhere, the park, the museum, the zoo, movies, kids” plays. She was a nurse and worked at the same place my mom does. And she, well, she died there too.” Jeremy is sad. “I miss her sometimes.”

Check, that”s one, thinks Sophie. She checks her phone to check the charge, then goes back to listening to her sunrise-child’s father’s tangerine voice. Jeremy is straight up.

“And, then I only have Uncle Daniel, he”s a nurse too, he is in the Air Force in Germany. He”s mom”s older brother, he has a wife, Aunt Sandra. They are nice but we never get to see them. And Aunt Anita is her younger sister, she”s a florist in, I forget exactly where in Florida though, Oh I remember, it”s Key Biscayne.”

Jeremy hangs onto the forestay and swings as his mind ranges over his small family spread everywhere.

“We see Aunt Anita whenever we go to Disneyworld and she comes up to visit for Christmas sometimes. We had a family reunion a couple years ago and they were all there. That was,” Jeremy pauses because time is a bit fragmented-confused now. “A couple years back, when Uncle Daniel was stationed in Florida too. Yeah, I went to Disney World for Christmas when I was nine, so we all got to be together, Grandpa and Grandma came too.”

“Disney world, eh? Mean as, I bet? Put anything in my town to shame.”

“I”ve been three times, it”s wicked! I thought I wouldn”t like it when I got older but it”s still cool.” Jeremy looks out across the bay. His senses soak in the senses of El Salvador. This is a thrill ride too.

“Your family took you three times?”

“When I was five with Grandma Anita, when she was well enough and mom and Aunt Anita of course, and again when I was nine for the reunion. And then two years ago. Well three I guess.”

“Ah they must be loaded, your folks then, you heaps spoiled ratbag, Jem?”

“Sure! He laughs, “spoiled rotten, can”t you tell?” Sophie laughs with him.

“Well, no,” he is thoughtful, “I mean, I guess my folks make pretty good money with a pharmacist and dad”s a civil engineer, so money isn”t a problem. But we aren”t rich. I mean the house is nice but there”s lots bigger and better ones even in Chillicothe. Nothing compared to the ones you see in Columbus and Cleveland. And, well, I don”t think they spoiled me too much, anyway. Hm. I mean I get a lot of stuff, I guess, especially from Grandma and Grandpa, but not like I could just ask and get anything I want. Dad made me work for my phone and for my bik-.” He stops. Suddenly he doesn”t want to talk about this.

“Sounds like Hey Dad, duck.”

“Hey Dad?”

“Neva mind, Jem, just sounding like some old fart ain”t I?”

Neither of them can afford to run up data, but the baby needs to know this man-child. The boy’s words will soak in. If he and his are worth knowing. “So does live-aboard suit you bro?” Jeremy’s answer spills his enthusiasm. It was a good question to ask. The talk of family brought the runaway down. Telling her about the cruising and his new-found skills is so like the determined girl who fled Christchurch. “Had a bit along the way, having the skux life?” Sophie teases. That’s the boy’s mettle, she recognizes in the way he laughs, he has, and lets it go at that.

“Well hey, that helped me calm my ass and feel a lot better. Talking was choice, bro. Let’s knock the bastard off and go face the world.”

“Hey call me again sometime, or can I call you sometime?”  

“Well reckon I”m at sea a lot and so you are too, but you can always text and see, if I can we”ll talk.”

“Kewl. Really like talking to you Sophie.”

“Any time brat! Haere rā.”

She laughs and so does he.

🟢

Had PI check SD person you named

🟢

located he passed away after house fire, died smoke inhalation. Was known drug dealer. Had been shot. Best info police have bullet but cannot find weapon. No witnesses police seeking white Blazer

🟢

no witnesses

Daniel sits at the table looking at the menu. At least there are good meal options. Given the size of the village, there were only two hotels, belonging to the same family, apparently. The three companions found them easy to find, since there is just one paved road forming the Main Street of Potosi. Anton had no trouble getting them a double room in Hotel Brisas del Mar. $30.00 for air conditioning, no wifi. Daniel glances at Fourteen. Their young companion will stay on the boat, as usual. Anton really does treat Jeremy just like an employee.

The Nicaraguan immigration office in Potosi was the second test of the papers Daniel fabricated for Anton. This forgery does not sit well with Daniel. It troubles-scares him. He slippery-slope compromises his future to be with Anton. With his consequence-free history, Anton sees it as some lark. Sheltering a runaway, forging documents, Anton deals with the world by laying an extra fifty into an inquisitive-disapproving palm. Anton’s been born with a silver-spoon multinational ethic: the fine-bribe is part of getting business done. Anton is very executive, despite his aversion to running his own company. Executives never go to jail.

The farther south they cruise, the closer eighteen gets to fourteen. What is the age of consent on the high seas? Fourteen has attachments. The boy gulping Orange Squash between Anton and Daniel, waiting to examine the plating of his. meal, will not betray them. Underage, means as little to Beckett as it does to Anton.

Of course, Beckett wanted Fourteen’s midterm report. He’ll have to get it from Ishmael, Daniel decided. Two years older than Fourteen, Daniel strutted the finer details of his conquests, the deficiencies of his partners, to his friends: measuring cock-street-credit. Fourteen’s body tells a story, his mind never will. Daniel would not share the way boy throws himself into sex the way a younger cousin plays the reunion football game. Fourteen is fearless, Ishmael will probably tell Beckett that. 

Daniel watched the boy chatting on his phone in La Union. That was reassuring, but Daniel would feel far better if the boy was with his parents. In the angry-after of the mess in Topolobampo, Jeremy Gates confessed he had been kidnapped, then got free in San Diego just before Anton brought him on as crew. Anton knows this as well as Daniel. Maybe not a lark to Anton, Daniel admits. At any rate, the Nicaraguan customs barely looked at all Daniel’s clever-hard work.

“It’s too hot to eat.” Anton complains about the obvious.

Daniel returns to the discussion at the table. “The hotel can arrange a guide. I think it’s more for larger groups. They can also arrange a ride to the trail, which will save us three miles of walking.” Fourteen grins excitement. He is eager for this adventure up the volcano. Anton takes half his mineral water down in a gulp. Daniel carries on, “They said we don’t need a guide for directions; it’s an option.” Fourteen tries Daniel’s beer and decides to keep it, until Daniel takes it back. “We need a guide if we want to learn more about the wildlife. I guess it would also support the local community.” Daniel finishes.

The community looks like it needs support. Potosi is not a huge tourist destination. The only thing they can do here is hike a volcano. Cosiguina volcano was left with a crater lake after it blew in 1835. Anton told them this as they sailed across the bay.

The crossing to Potosi was amazing. They saw a big turtle, thousands of pelicans and frigate birds; it was a breeding place for birds. Coming into La Union, Fourteen pointed out the nice views of small islands. Crossing to Potosi, Fourteen sat subdued in the cockpit near Anton, his usual interest in all things new dampened for some reason.

Potosi felt like the hottest village they had visited, and Daniel knew they were going further south. The ocean was so hot none of them felt like swimming. The high humidity makes them sweat with every step they take. Daniel wonders if that was all there was to Fourteen and Anton’s mood.

“Dan, I’m going to let you two go by yourselves. Don’t look at me like that, Jeremy!” Anton starts on his second bottle of water. “I’m going to touch base while you two throw yourselves into an active volcano. I’ll weep for you as I sail away from the pyroclastic surge sweeping down the slope.”

“Anton, there’s no wifi here.” Fourteen objects.

“I’ll use the satellite phone then.” Anton replies. “I’m going to have a shower and rest. I promise I will be a party animal again in Las Pampas. This will be a good time for you two to have an adventure.”

Fourteen woke up at 6 am. He thought about the clamour of texts and voicemail on the burner phone. The currents worried him a little, so he settled for a dip off the stern. The determined jogging of the Luxor Winnebago and Pueblo has given over to swimming under the safe eye of Anton and Daniel. Alone on Surroco with no friendly neighbours, Fourteen knows better than to leave the ketch.

There cim cif yapan escort were the messages reaching out from Chillicothe. Fourteen thought about them as he closed Anton’s ketch up for the day away. He answered Wade:

⚪️

Dude I am so glad you called me, call again soon I wanna talk to you. Man highschool is nothing like what we thought it would be

🔴

Thanks for getting the phone to my parents, it”s not a good idea for me to call you right now.

The other’s are from people he does not know well. Fourteen realized he did not know how to talk to Chillicothe anymore. You don’t have anything to say, he thought as he came on deck. I’m not of that life. Fourteen wonders if the burner phone is pointless now.

He packed some snacks, water in his bike bag and called Daniel on his ship-to-shore.

They met at the bus stop. Two friendly locals asked where they were going. They were surprised the Americans didn’t have a guide and offered to show us the trail. They turned left at the bus stop, passing a baseball field. Walking on the dirt road with the local Nicaraguans, Daniel talked baseball. “Claro, Ramírez en Los Ángeles, es bueno. ¿De Managua?  Bueno.” After a mile and a half, Fourteen saw a huge sign declaring Reserva Natural Volcan Cosiguina. There was a logo of European Union.

The two locals gave them simple instructions: “Siempre ariba!” straight up.

The trail is well-trodden and continued through the shade of the jungle. Lizards scurried and swarms of birds flew above the two companions. Several locals passed them on horses carrying watermelons in giant bags. The heat and humidity was already unbearable. “Hey, Daniel,” Fourteen had a thought. “Maybe they will sell us a watermelon.”

“Christ! You plan to lug a watermelon up this volcano?”

“No man, we eat it right here.” Fourteen’s bike bag was soaked with his sweat. The plastic water bottles called to him in seductive whispers.

Had been shot. Best info police have bullet but cannot find weapon. His father’s short message ran in Fourteen’s head like an ear worm. Fourteen never thought about the bullet he put into Elvis Parker. Fourteen ran because Elvis Parker was dead. Died smoke inhalation, now Fourteen knows Elvis died because he ran. “What the hell happened?”

Daniel turns at Fourteen’s question and looks around. He is not certain what Fourteen means. “Happened? What do you mean?” Fourteen simply shakes his head and walks past him. “I can carry the bag.”

“It’s cool,” Fourteen shakes the offer off.

The next two miles through the jungle are flat, then it starts to go slightly uphill. There are also many signs, either to show directions or helpfully inform the hikers of the surrounding fauna and flora. Neither of them stop to read.

“Do you have any idea where you are going?” Daniel asks suddenly.

“The path is pretty clear. You could drive a car through here.” Fourteen replies. He is happy to be walking.

“Not what I meant, yeah, we might have waited for the tour.” Daniel stops, so Fourteen stops. “I meant, getting on in San Diego, then what? Do you have any idea where you are going?”

“Do you?” Jeremy recognizes his own faults and readily forgives the lapses-manias of his shipmates. After months on Surocco, he knows Daniel’s opinion of everything. Fourteen starts walking again with the only answer he knows, “Anywhere but home.”

Daniel does not have Remy and Greyson’s experience with teenagers. He watches the youth walk away, then starts after him. He knows he probably should not have gotten into this subject with Fourteen. Shut up and listen, but Daniel is twenty-four. The swiftly moving planet has set nine years between them.

“I know your story.”

“You know some news story.” Jeremy replies.

Jeremy can take a barrage of nit-picking from Anton about some point of sail craft, but he needs Surocco to be a haven of acceptance. That was what Levi Fisher offered in the Luxor Winnebago, and the more Fourteen remembers, (fucking) Cordell did not. Anton grilled him in Topolobampo while Daniel rummaged the truth out of Fourteen’s bike bag. Then Anton dropped it and restored Fourteen to the haven of his ketch. It is like Daniel still has Fourteen’s bike bag and he thinks there are undiscovered pockets. Fourteen thought they were beyond this after the gangway reconciliation.

“So make the story clearer to me. Is your house just a place to sleep?”

“Oh my god!” Jeremy responds.

“I’m sorry, but you have Anton — and me — involved. Not just a hitch hike ride down the highway to the next town. You have us in deep with you, and I don’t think you know how it ends.” Daniel knows he should back off.

“Do you?” Fourteen repeats.

“Do I what?””

“Know how it ends.” Fourteen expands, “You are making your sketches and yeah, I see you checking your laptop for jobs or something.” Fourteen considers Daniel. “Is that how it ends?”

Their conversation lapses into silence.

Halfway up the volcano, Daniel and Fourteen already have a view over the Gulf of Fonseca. Despite the oven-heat, it has been a very easy hike. The color palate is perfect. It demands a break for water and the phones come out to Instagram the moment. Jungle camouflage greens fall away to a plain broken with open fields. Beyond is the blue-grey watercolour brush strokes of the bay they crossed the afternoon before. The volcano”s companion rises above La Union, then the light-strewn sky above everything.

Daniel takes a picture of the youth wilted-strong in the Nicaraguan sky. Oakley-cool despite the swelter. Fourteen holds his Galaxy one hand casually framing all this uniqueness. Fourteen turns to Daniel.

Daniel’s phone click-captures his image. Men capturing Fourteen, Anton calls him Jeremy sometimes. Mostly, he is still Fourteen. Mostly, these men capture Fourteen. There is a difference. The messages and calls from Easter Island and Chillicothe remind Jeremy Gates, there is a difference.

Fourteen ran from the kitchen in San Ysidro, Jeremy Gates ran from San Diego. Sometimes, there is no difference. The Beretta Nano is at the bottom of Topolobampo harbour, but (fucking) Cordell is still out there somewhere. Smoke inhalation? What happened, Fourteen puzzles the new of the fire in San Ysidro in confusion.

Fourteen has taken three breathtaking pictures to add to his Instagram. Sophie can see them sometime-somewhere. If a boy climbs a volcano and it is only in his mind, did it happen? Witnesses are significant. Daniel Ayers witnesses Jeremy Gates in this volcano-time and place. If Elvis died of smoke inhalation, does that mean …?

“That is one hell of a view,” Daniel interrupts the thought. The anxiety slips off Fourteen like the cooked-okra sheen of sweat across his body. Fourteen grins at the man. It is a rumble-in-the-jungle Okleys-grin with flashing bobcat fangs. The hike deserves a mountain pool where two men can soak and touch each other.

“Do you have any idea where you are going? San Diego afflicts Fourteen and Antigua is just a destination suggested by Levi Fisher’s passport. A last sad thought before Fourteen turns back to the trail. Everyone should see this. 

The hike is easy, but like a long cruise in Surocco, much of it is passed absorbed in their own thoughts. The jungle and the flex of young athletic bodies is enough to keep the mind fluttering from one thing or another. They stop to share a moment with a chattering of monkeys. It is a now when both of them can set aside their troubling befores and the shrouded afters they are both avoiding on this Anton-cruise.

Daniel is thinking about Fourteen’s question, Is that how it ends?. Anton talks of setting Daniel up in his own architectural firm on the West Coast where Anton prefers to live. Commissions for Mirage Property Advisors will get him going. This is too like Beckett. Calibaba. Daniel shakes the comparison off. He is looking for more interviews. I’m not like Ishmael fretting about missed classes at university. Beckett seduced that young man away from where he needs to be.

This live-aboard cruise is just Anton’s way of consoling Daniel for his setback in Chicago. The Chicago failure tears at Daniel. It knocked Daniel off his feet. Anton thinks being together, being cared for by Anton, is enough. Daniel knows he cannot live that way. Laughing at monkeys copulating is a welcome distraction.

Naked Apes, Daniel reflects, that’s all we are. Eating fruit, copulating, flinging shit, and dominance games on a volcano that might erupt without warning. Fourteen thinks they look pretty agile there in the high branches.

The hike takes three and a half hours. The hardest part is the last half an hour to the rim of the crater lake. The landscape opens up; the sun shines directly on Fourteen and Daniel. There are no trees around to hide under.

Once they came to the top, Fourteen turned to Daniel. “Wow! We’re on top of a volcano with a huge crater lake below us. Anton told me that before the eruption in 1835, it was one of the tallest volcanoes in Central America.”

“From here, we could see El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua touching on the Gulf of Fonseca.” Daniel observed. “Pretty incredible.”

They watch the gas bubbles in the crater lake at the same time they gaze at the Pacific ocean.

“I get beached,” Fourteen breaks into Daniel’s revelry at everything about them.

“What?”

“That is how it ends, that’s where I’m going. POP! Just like that, you guys will beach me.”

“Anton won’t do that! We’re your friends.” Daniel sees the tranquility in the teenager’s face. Fourteen even smiles at him before turning his gaze back to the volcanic lake down the steep slope.

How would Sophie put it? She’ll be Jake, no worries. Jeremy Gates is not fooled by assumptions of friendship. He imagined his trip with Patrick and John would never end. Levi Fisher had his My So’n Temple ending in his sights. Jeremy thought their friendship demanded he follow the wise old man to his Nguyen Huu Tuan rest West, Far East. He was wrong, wrong, wrong.

“It’s not about friendship, Daniel. You have your way to go and I have mine.”

There is no pain in this. Jeremy likes the men. Despite Daniel’s continued uncertainty about him, Sophie was right. Surocco had been a haven for a desperate fugitive. Standing at the pinnacle of a Central American volcano, Jeremy could weep with relief. John Canon tucked his Saturday-Night-Special option away and cut the zip-ties free from Jeremy’s wrists. He vomited the fear-tension in the barn. Jeremy did not kill Elvis Parker in his vengeful-fright.

Fourteen cannot reveal that hidden pocket to Daniel. He can search Fourteen’s bike bag all he wants. That stays hidden from his town friends. I had to get away. Puerto Vallarta for (fucking) Cordell’s benefit. Slap a tattoo on Pretty Boy and send him out like those “school girls” on the Malecon. Kijiji into a desperate now with no after. I had to get away from both of them. “Good on you, Jeremy Gates,” Sophie Wright reassures him.

The volcano with its bubbling (inaccessible) cauldron and the breathless view brings peace to Jeremy Gates. We go our ways. No pain in this, just sober recognition, like trying to get his mom to understand. His mom urged him to come home. Another adult — one Jeremy will never stop trusting — who thinks they know best. Home to the before friends and family. They were all so present with him as he described them to Sophie across the Gulf of Fonseca. But this is after. Everyone has to find their own way after.

Fourteen just has to grin at the concern on Daniel’s face. Fourteen’s faded Padres cap is double-salted with his sweat. He feels the celebration in his body in his ever-singing blood stream. The sun is hammering down on both their heads. Nothing but a deep-freeze rolling in from Canada could cool Fourteen down.

“We are on the top of a freaking volcano!”

Daniel nods agreement.

“Bucket lists,” Jeremy suggests slyly.

That gets a thoughtful nod.

“Anton would be miffed.”

“Anton has probably already checked this one off. It was Vesuvius, I was nineteen …”

“Seventeen, and he was forty-five, built like the Terminator and hung like a goat.” Daniel is slowly stripping Fourteen’s sopping Tee-shirt over his head. Large hands spread Fourteen’s pit-lubricant about his chest and back.

“Hung like a Pamplona bull,” Daniel corrects. Fourteen is plucking at him, but the boy is content to feel Daniel’s hands on him, Daniel’s fingers opening his fly and running across his hips to his tense flanks. “I was twelve …”

“Eleven”

“So tempted to stop running and let the bull have its way with me …”

“Have its way with me,” Fourteen giggles. There is a rough tugging at his pants, then they are dropping to his ankles. The altitude cools his body as the sun licks up his sweat and brings on more.

Daniel masturbates him in a hard embrace that allows Fourteen to take in the seething lake and haze-smeared sky blending into the ocean-land expanse. This is need-a-shower intimate. When Fourteen is flamed, Daniel drops to take his cock. Fourteen’s. Fingers curl into Daniel’s shirt.

Elvis Parker took Fourteen like this, impulsively. Only, Fourteen lies on his back with a Padres hat and smeared Oakleys shading the intensity burning through the tropical haze. His shoes are still on and his shorts dangle from one calf. Daniel Ayers does it like Elvis Parker, his pants open and falling, oh so slightly, down his hips.

Elvis has left the room (yeah, we went there…), Fourteen and Daniel bucket-list a volcano, SnapChat a moment together. Just New World monkeys getting it on, oblivious to passerby. Pride in his work, Daniel paces out a slow rhythm like stepping up the path to a volcanic rim in a Nicaraguan jungle. Three hours carefully paced before the last half hour treeless scramble to the top.

Fourteen takes a fistful of Daniel’s shirt, twists it like he could squeeze the man’s juices from him. Elvis, mom, Sophie, everything is left behind as Fourteen experiences this now of being penetrated. It is just the sun eclipsing-dazzling him repeatedly behind the strong man’s body. The unhelpful breeze is lost against Daniel’s heat. Fourteen twists and twists.

Daniel’s ejaculation is a body-language take-that-bitch. After months of fucking on Surocco, Fourteen knows Daniel’s opinion of everything. Fourteen recognizes his own faults and readily forgives the lapses-manias of his fuckmates. Take-that-bitch, it bears repeating. Even after Daniel’s semen is swirling-evaporating between rectum and shaft, the man offers postscripts to his message.

Daniel watches the sexy boy. Ball cap, Oakleys mirroring the sky above, lips parted sympathetically to the stretched anus. The orgasm was good with Fourteen. He had Ishmael on the way to Acapulco. Hell, Daniel has had Ishmael every time they met. The bitch-boy tells it like it is for every partner. Not Fourteen, Daniel has to watch the boy’s face, feel the twist of his shirt in Fourteen’s fist, and let his hand rest lightly on Fourteen’s drenched torso. Wait it out.

The thrusts are hard with a pause. Daniel watches the sexy boy until it happens. There’s the ticket! Fourteen near tears Daniel’s shirt off his chest with the intensity of his final giving. Take-that-bitch, it bears repeating.

Brief, Anonymous Survey:

Readers are often too busy or reluctant to reach out to authors. I appreciate hearing from you all. Please take my Fourteen Survey (Again). It is a quick Google Form where you can comment on this next section Jeremy Gates’ time with Anton and Daniel.

I have written a variety of short stories and novellas. You can follow this safe link to my Body of Work.

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