The two teenaged lovers dried each other with soft white towels as a full moon rose in the East, it’s silvery light filtering through the branches of the towering elms, illuminating the grassy path that led from the darkened farmhouse to the little cabin in the woods…

   Matty looked at his friend as Bobby started to slip into his new, white BVD’s. As much as he tried, he couldn’t stop looking at the beautiful, tanned boy with the cute, tight butt, and the sparkling blue eyes. Bobby caught the contemplative look and smiled. “What’s up, buddy? You OK??”
     Matty nodded and blushed… “Yeah, I’m good… I just … ” his  voice trailed off as he looked down in embarrassment.
    “What??” quizzed Bobby.
     “Well, I never told you something that I should have said like…   two years ago, only… I don’t know… you know, well, you… “
      Bobby sighed, and interrupted his friend… “What the heck are you trying to say, koles? Geezz… sometimes you just don’t make any sense!!  Just spit it out!!”

          Matty reddened and turned away a little… “Look, I don’t know how to say this… You gotta promise me that you’ll NEVER  tell anyone if I tell you what I want to tell you…”
          “Oh my God, Matty, what the hell are you trying to say? When did I ever tell a secret??” Bobby snapped the elastic waistband of his briefs for effect…
            “Yeah, right, what about my birthday wish?? That just slipped past your flapping lips, huh?”
            “Ok, ok… I fucked up on that one, ok? Only, I did it because I love you!”, Bobby shouted. He pushed Matty  backwards and brushed by him, and stomped off, down the oak parquet floor, towards the kitchen…
            “Shit!! Matty thought… I’m a total freakin’ idiot…” He sat down on the bench in the hall, with his face in his hands, and tried to regroup… After a minute, the lean, blonde boy slowly got up and made his way to the kitchen where Bobby stood, in front of the stove with his back to Matty. In the amber light of the tiny table lamp, the 14 year old boy looked like a greek athlete… Golden skinned, and perfectly muscled, the teenager was perfect in every way… Matty stood by the entrance to the room and wistfully studied the scene before him.  Even his skin was perfect… Not a mark or a blemish… Smooth and soft, with the tiny blonde hairs on his arms and legs and lower back that disappeared into the waistband of the tight white underwear… Matty was mesmerized, and just stood there, admiring the perfection, as he felt the familiar feelings start to rise once again…
          “So, are you just gonna stand there, or apologize, or fuck me, or what?”, Bobby muttered, without turning around…
           Matty walked across the kitchen slowly, and stood behind his best friend… He softly put his right hand on Bobby’s neck, and with his thumb, tenderly brushed the short hairs near the nape, and said, “I’m sorry I said that, Bobby… It’s just that you don’t know what you mean to me, because I’ve been too chicken to tell you… I should have told you, a long time ago, but… well, I don’t think I would know what to do without you, because…Oh, hell… I love you so much… I’m sorry for being such a loser, man, I…” Before he could finish, Bobby spun around and sternly looked him in the eyes, then, he pulled him close, and before Matty could say anything else, he kissed him tenderly on the lips, and then on the tip of his nose… “I’ve been wanting to do THAT for two years!”, Bobby joked.”What took you so long?”
       The boy giggled, with that crazy, wonderful , smile on his face, and the two boys hugged, and then pushed each other, and wrestled in a mock fight, both of them full of the possibilities of love and desire…

       There is no hunger quite like that of a teenage boy’s… Matty playfully pushed his buddy one last time, and then, sniffing the evening air, said, “Hey, what’s THAT that I smell… MMM!!!”
        Bobby grinned, and, without missing a beat, responded, ” I farted…Oh, THAT!! Why, whatta ya care??  It’s ALL for me, since you’ve been so mean!!”
        “No… said Matty, I take it all back, I’ll do ANYTHING !! I’ll even let you hit me if you want, just show me what you got!!”
        “Why would I hit you, dufus?” Bobby said mockingly… “I’ll tell you what… here’s the deal… show me that you love me, if you’re so sure you do… kiss me like you mean it!” Then, I’ll feed you something that will make your stomach thank me for the rest of your life!!”
          Then, the tanned, blond Adonis, turned around, and walked to the stove, and put his hands on either side, blocking the oven door from sight. He stood there, beaming away, full of himself, and his clever response…
          Matty reddened, and looked down at his bare feet… “Geezz, Bobby, I told you I loved you, and I kissed you just a few minutes ago… what do you want?… it’s not like I’m some kind of freakin’ expert…” His voice trailed off, and he stood there, nervously shifting his weight, back and forth, trying not to smile…
          “Bull….. loney!!!” shouted Bobby, laughing hysterically.” You didn’t kiss ME, I kissed YOU!! Now, man up, and get over here, if you’re hungry and KISS ME!!”
          Matty looked at his giddy friend, and couldn’t contain the laughter, any more… He walked slowly across the kitchen, defeated, and put his hands on Bobby’s waist, and then said, “OK, close your eyes… here goes…” Bobby obeyed, smiling, and Matty moved in closer, and, then, just as his lips met Bobby’s he goosed his buddy, tickling his sides, till the boy squirmed away, and was no longer blocking the stove… He frantically tried to open the oven door, but, Bobby had recovered, and grabbed at him, and hooked his fingers under the waistband of Matty’s white BVD’s, practically ripping them from his body… The two boys wrestled, and pushed and grabbed at each other, laughing and yelling, and taunting, until they were breathless, facing each other, and the laughing stopped… Matty looked into Bobby’s eyes and pulled him close, and their faces met, cheek to cheek, and he whispered into Bobby’s ear- “Thanks… for everything…”
          Bobby hugged his buddy tight, and whispered back, ” It’ll be OK, I promise…”

          The boys hugged for a bit, then, they separated… Matty wiped a tear from his eye… Bobby tousled  his hair and declared, “Chow’s on!!” He grabbed Matty’s arm, and half dragged him across the kitchen to the small maple farmhouse table… “Sit!!” he ordered, with a stern look on his face. “My mom… and Me… made you your favorite meal… Chicken a la King… because it’s your birthday… well, tonight it’s your birthday, and because you’re getting too skinny… ” He laughed, and pinched Matty on the hip, making him squirm in the chair… “I like my boys with a little meat on their bones, koles…”
        Matty sighed, his friend was just incorrigible… Koles…

      
  

   Bobby returned to the oven, and, using the oven mitts that hung near the giant white stove, opened the door and pulled out the evening birthday feast… He looked comical, shuttling the different casserole dishes, back and forth to the table, proudly laying out the feast for his pal, who, all the while, was having a difficult time trying not to laugh at the spectacle… A boy in his tighty whities, sliding across the grey painted plank floor, like some demented waiter that forgot to get dressed!! All, for him…

       The sun had set, long before the two boys finished the delicious meal, and washed the dishes, stacking them neatly in the rack near the white, cast iron sink. They grabbed their belongings, and closed the kitchen door, leaving the small table lamp burning…Side by side, the two friends walked slowly down the moonlit path to the little cabin in the woods where the master of the house went, in quiet times to write and contemplate, and, to get away, from the stresses of his political life, and, just life in general.
    

      Matty opened the unlocked door, and reached inside for the ancient switch… a turnable, paddle type device that still worked after all these years…. Inside, hung a ceiling  lamp that always reminded Matty of the westerns that he loved… Now, it illuminated, with a gentle amber light, the contents of the  little room… Two walls were basically just large bookcases, that Roger had filled, over the years, with books on philosophy, war and peace, farming, and just about every subject that you could think of… including picture books of the areas of the world, far away, to which he had ventured, during his combat career in the ‘Big War’, and after, once he had healed from the shrapnel injury he suffered in that fight…
       Along a third wall was a small, old, writing desk, with a pivoting top… made of oak, and worn by the effort to pass on to a new generation, the thoughts of this larger than life, man… Mr. Eddy had written and published some books of his own, and, was recognized in literary circles for his effort, but, never widely read… Sometimes, heartfelt thoughts wither on the vine….
       Against the 4th wall was a twin bed, with a woven blanket , blue, black, red and white… It was of the design that fascinated Matty… Navajo in origin, perhaps… That, was finally confirmed, nonchalantly, by Mr. Eddy one day… Since then, the boy would come to the cabin, just to sit on the blanket and feel it… He had always imagined living in another time and place, where he was free, in so many ways, to be who he was…
        The boys stowed their belongings in the corner and scouted about the cabin… Bobby was fascinated with the old blunderbuss musket that stood in the corner. Matty had dreamed of owning it some day, but, Roger didn’t want to sell it… It was from a time, long ago, in the family history, when Indians roamed the area, and the settlers had laid claim to ancestral lands… The youngsters reminisced for a while, and then played a few games of ‘Setback’, a card game they had learned the summer before, and often played on rainy days when the farmwork slowed a bit… long enough for an hour of idle time…
       Soon, tho, it was time for bed, as the approaching day would be another challenge and was arriving all too quickly… Matty turned down the covers of the twin bed, and, before he could say anything, Bobby vaulted onto the white sheets, clad only in his underwear. “Hey!!” Matty laughed… “Where do you get off ??”
      “Don’t wet your britches, koles, you’re not my type,” snickered Bobby, yawning, and trying to hide an obvious grin… Matty shrugged, understanding the futility of resistance… He covered his own smile, and climbed into bed near his buddy. Just as he reached for the light switch, he warned his hormone- driven friend…”No funny business, I’m serious!!  I need some sleep tonight, you maniac!!” He smiled to himself, and turned the light switch… Bobby giggled, and snuggled up close to Matty… “I will respect your wishes, birthday boy…”  And with that, he put his arm across Matty’s waist and kissed his back, tenderly… Matty rolled his eyes, and sighed, “Oh boy…” and the two boys drifted off to sleep, in each other’s arms…

       Matty was suddenly awakened by the glow of the overhead lamp… “What the heck are you doin’?”
       Bobby stood next to the bed holding a small box. He was beaming away, his hair disheveled… “Get up, birthday boy!! It’s 12:15!! You’re 14!! Just like me!!”
       Matty groaned, and tried to roll over and put a pillow over his face to shield his eyes, but, Bobby would have none of it. He pulled the pillow away, then the bedclothes, and goosed his friend in a very delicate area…. “Hey, you promised, ” yelled Matty, trying not to laugh… It was no good, tho. When Bobby got that look on his face, it was just hopeless…
       The 14 year old boy sat up in bed, and swung his legs over the edge… Bobby looked down at him and snickered, “Wow, is THAT for me?” Matty looked up and then down, at the telltale tenting of his BVD’s and quickly covered himself with both his hands… “WHAT is this all about?” he shouted. What are you up to? It’s the middle of the night!!”
       Bobby grinned. “I’m going to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, and then, give you your present…” His grin got even wider, his eyes sparkling in anticipation…
      The ‘birthday boy’ buried his face in his hands and said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this… OK, just do it… this is crazy, just do it already…”
      And, Bobby did, in typical fashion- shameless and heartfelt, with a little quiver in his voice at the very end, and a kiss on the cheek for his best friend. Then, he held the festively wrapped box out in front of him, and placed it on Matty’s lap, and sat down next to him… “Listen, ‘M’, I want to tell you something…. You remember your birthday wish? Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and, I told some of the guys, like I said, and then… don’t be mad… PLEASE … I told Mr. Eddy….
     “WHAT !!!!!” screamed Matty… How could you do that? I told you… you’re my best friend… how could… Oh, my God, Bobby… Oh my God…. ” The blond boy’s shoulder’s slumped with the betrayal, and he put his hands over his face, and started to cry… Bobby hugged him close, and continued… “You need to say goodbye, that was your wish, remember? Open the box. Please, Matty… the box… come on… trust me…”
     Confused, Matty looked at Bobby’s anguished face, and then, at the box on his lap. He glanced at Bobby again, and, with the back of his hand, wiped the tears from his face, and took a deep breath. He nodded, and untied the ribbon… He tore the paper away and lifted the cover and looked inside… There was an envelope and another, smaller box, tucked in the corner, on top of which, a tiny American flag was affixed… The 14 year old Matty opened the tiny box, and, inside, found a medal…

Matty looked at the medal, and then picked it up… He studied in his hands, and turned it over and over, and then, looked at Bobby and asked, “Where did you get this? Do you know what this is??”

Bobby nodded, “Yes… Mr. Eddy wanted you to have it, because of Mike… he got it in the other war, when he got shot in the leg… when I told him what happened to Mike, he took this out of his desk, and told me that you should have it, because that’s what Mike would have wanted… he also told me that he would never ask you about Mike, unless you wanted to talk about him… so, don’t worry, ‘M’….

     Matty shook his head in disbelief… “He gave me his Purple Heart?”

     “Yeah, he said that you were like a son to him, or something, and that he wanted you to have it… Now, open the envelope!!  I can’t stand it, anymore!!”

      Matty carefully placed the medal back in the little box, and picked up the envelope… He turned it over in his hands and studied it… On the front it said,’ Happy Birthday, Matty from all the idiots…”  The boy smiled, and carefully opened the back flap… Inside was a birthday card, signed by all the boys that worked on the farm, with Bobby’s name circled with stars… The front of the card had the picture of an American flag and a boy carrying it in a parade. As Matty opened the card, 2 cardboard tickets and some money tumbled from the inside, and onto his lap… Bobby grinned, and took the tickets off of Matty’s lap and fanned them out, like a hand of cards… “Do you know what these are, koles? Do you?… Well, I’ll tell you… They’re bus tickets… Bus tickets to Virginia Beach!!”
        Matty looked at his friend … “Huh?? What am I going to do with those? I don’t know anyone in Virginia Beach…”
       “No, dum dum, it’s not what YOU’RE going to do with them, it’s what WE’RE going to do with them!!  One week from today, we’re going to visit my uncle in Virginia Beach where he has a beach house, and then…. he’s going to drive us to Washington…And, with the cash that the guys put together, we’re goin’ to have a great time!!”
       “What are you talking about,” Bobby demanded…” First of all, did you forget, we have work that has to be done… and, what are we supposed to do in Washington??”
        Bobby reached down and took Matty’s hand in his… “Matty, Mr. Eddy found out, from his Army and Washington friends that Mike was buried in a place called ‘Arlington Cemetery’ , or something like that… I thought we could go there and you would be able to finally say goodbye… He said that you need a vacation after all this anyways, so…”

        For a minute, both boys sat on the edge of the bed, and the night air was still… The light in the cabin flickered, and cast it’s golden glow on the legs of the teenagers as they held onto each other… The enormity of what Bobby had said, finally settled into Matty’s heart, and the familiar pain of his loss burned through the silence as he started to sob… hunched over with grief, the tears fell uncontrollably as Bobby held him close and ran his fingers through his hair and gently stroked his back…. “It’s goin’ be all right, koles… you’ll see…” and he put his chin on the back of his hunched -over friend and kissed him softly on the neck, as the night slipped away…

     The two lovers awoke as the sun cast it’s first light through the tiny cottage’s window… They had slept, that night, like little boys sleep, wrapped in each others arms, to scare away the demons of the night, and to comfort each other with the warmth and passion that they both felt… They were bonded now, one to the other, despite the future or the past… Noone could ever break that bond… It was stronger than the cut of any blade or the taunt of any adversary… It would remain a secret bond, tho, because of the Godless society that sought to demonize it.

  
  
    The human heart may break but it never forgets…..

       Matty stirred from his restless sleep, and glanced out the window of the speeding bus, as the engine hummed, and the trees flew by… Bobby nudged him with his elbow and whispered in his ear, “You were snoring, but, it was kind of cute, so I let you…”
       Bobby looked at the smiling face and retorted, “Yeah, like you don’t snore, idiot…”

       Soon, both boys were engaged in a back and forth goosing game, as the old lady across the isle clucked her disapproval and finally looked away… Bobby contorted his face and laughed, mocking the stern look, and both boys doubled over in their seats with laughter…. And, the bus rolled on…..

      Virginia Beach was a blessing to the young boys as they frolicked in the waves and sand and wrestled their way through the holiday, ever aware of the rapidly approaching final day… But, finally, the day had arrived, and the two pals stashed their bags in the trunk of the green GTO and prepared themselves for the task at hand… Bobby’s uncle, a business man from Philadelphia, steered the car  down the winding roads, talking the whole way, as Bobby and Matty shot glances at each other and tried to avoid getting caught, as the eye- rolling reached it’s crescendo….
      Soon, tho, the boys could see the river and the sleek car was hurtling across the bridge and a large building came into sight… Matty recognized it as the Pentagon building that he had first seen the summer before during a 4 day vacation that the family had undertaken… Past the massive complex, and along a road called ‘Memorial Drive’ was another, smaller building… Bobby’s uncle pulled into the parking lot and turned to Bobby, who was in the front seat… “Is this where they told you to meet them?” Bobby looked around, and pointed to the sign near the building, and, excitedly said, “There, right there… I think… park there…Mr. Eddy told me that they would meet us here… I’ll go check…” He opened the door and started to jump out, as Matty tugged at his shirt, and queried, “Who are we supposed to meet?”
      Bobby just laughed and said, “Trust me koles, It’s all set… Mr. Eddy took care of it, so, don’t worry…” And, with that, he jumped from the car and ran to the building and went through the glass doors… Matty was puzzled… Mr. Eddy?  After a few minutes, Bobby returned and told Matty that it was time to get out and that a car was waiting… Both boys walked, side by side to the back of the building where an electric cart was waiting… It had a canopy over it and a jump seat in the back… In the front was a driver and standing next to the cart was a soldier in uniform… As the boys approached, the soldier walked to them and extended his hand. “Sir, I will accompany you to the final resting place of your fallen soldier. If you will take a seat, we can begin…” Matty was silent, and shook the soldier’s hand… Bobby followed, and both boys sat on the backwards facing seat, as the cart made it’s way through the quiet hills and past the silent graves, above all of them, the marker of a fallen hero… a simple white stone ….. Every row a perfect line, as if the past was marching into the future, through the shadows of the maples and oaks that peppered the scape… Matty felt numb, as the cart slowed to a crawl and, finally stopped, near a meticulously dressed soldier with a bugle tucked under his arm… He was standing, at attention, on a hill, that stretched down towards the river…
    

         The 2 boys, dressed in white pants and blue shirts with black silk ties, walked slowly down the hill behind the first soldier…One boy wore a brown leather jacket with patches on it, over his sunday best… The soldier came to a halt, and turned on his heels, and faced the boys… He extended his hand to Matty, and guided him to a place in front of the white stone… Bobby followed, and, the soldier stepped back… Both boys looked at the white stone and the simple inscription on the face… Matty reached down and placed his hand on the marker and whispered, “Mikey, I want you to meet someone… his name is Bobby…my best friend… do you remember?? I told you about him… he helped me get here… I came to say goodbye….I miss you so much it hurts, but…. I just don’t want you to worry anymore… I got the letter and I’ll make you proud… I promise…”He reached into his pocket and pulled out the tiny silver cross on the chain that was given to him, on the day of his First Holy Communion, and tenderly placed it on the top of the stone… His legs started to shake, and Bobby quickly stood him up… “Don’t worry Mike, I’ll take care of him…” the boy whispered.
        Both boys stood facing the grave and from the hilltop came the plaintiff wail of ‘taps’… Bobby grabbed Matty’s  hand and squeezed it tightly, as the final strains echoed through the valley and lingered in the afternoon shadows…
      The soldier returned to the right of the boys, carrying a flag in the shape of a triangle… He turned to Matty and begin,” This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service…” With that, he presented the flag to the crying boy, with both hands, and gently placed his hand on Matty’s shoulder and whispered, “I’m sorry for your loss, son…”  He stepped back and slowly saluted the flag, and then, spun on his heel and walked away…
      Matty held the folded flag with both hands against his heart, and the two boys prayed, side by side, as a gentle breeze dried the sorrowful tears from the face of the young blonde boy in the oversized jacket …  

                    

Rest in eternal peace, my dear friend…… I love you Mikey …I will miss you, forever…
  
                                                                I’m OK…                                                                                                                          
                                                      
                                                     Your little brother,

                                                                                   tony

        

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