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Sea Oats - part one

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A coming of age story in a time when some things were better and others much worse,

Winterset, Iowa is a small town thirty seven miles southwest of Des Moines. Mary Ann McCree was born and grew up there. After graduating from high school she took a secretarial course so that she could learn shorthand. Her typing was excellent, and she felt with the addition of shorthand she could find a job easily.

The soldiers had returned from the war and businesses were expanding rapidly. Mary Ann had an older sister named Beatrice who had married Silas Greenfield, a soldier stationed at Fort Des Moines, just before Japan had surrendered. He’d been reassigned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Beatriz had followed him and set up housekeeping for them in Fayetteville.

Living at home meant Mary Ann could contribute to the household budget, making things easier for her father. She got a job in a real-estate firm and was happy with her life. She went out with a boy she’d known since ninth grade and who had bought a 1942 Ford Coupe, but the romance wasn’t a serious one.

In late spring of 1947, she began to have what her mother called “ladies’ problems”. They didn’t talk about it when her father was around, but her mother decided she should go to Des Moines to see a doctor there. Mrs. McCree called their family doctor and discretely told him a female relative who had recently moved to Des Moines from Chicago needed to see a doctor and asked if he could recommend one.

Mary Ann took off work on a Thursday and bordered a Greyhound bus early that morning. She saw the doctor and he assured her that she had only a minor problem and gave her a prescription for a new medicine developed during the war.

Relieved, she left the doctor’s office at noon and went to J. J. Newberry’s five-and-dime store to have lunch. She found an empty stool at the lunch counter and sat down. She ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a Hires root beer.

Before finishing her sandwich a nice-looking man named Alvin Mitchell took the stool next to hers. Young Mr. Mitchell had just gotten his law degree and was pleased with the world. He ordered a hamburger and a strawberry milkshake. While waiting he pulled his newspaper from his coat pocket and folded it so he could lay it on the counter and read it without annoying his neighbor,

Mary Ann finished her sandwich and opened her purse to retrieve her billfold from its interior. She didn’t notice that the curved bamboo handle of her purse had dropped so that it surrounded her unfinished glass of root beer.

When she snapped her purse closed the handle upset the glass spilling the root beer onto Alvin Mitchell’s Des Moines Register, soaking it through. Fortunately, the newspaper prevented the soda from running off the counter and onto Alvin Mitchell’s lap.

Mary Ann apologized over and over with the words tumbling out in a jumbled rush. Her embarrassment turned her complexion a bright pink, highlighting her pale blue eyes. Alvin kept trying to interrupt her to assure her it was no problem. He said he’d read almost all the paper: at least the important news of the day. He pointed out that neither of them had gotten splattered.

He offered to buy her a fresh glass of root beer. At that, she stopped talking and looked at him as if she was seeing him for the first time. Then she burst out laughing at the ridiculous offer.

Then she began saying she’d pay for his lunch, but he shushed her. They went to the cash register together and each paid for their own lunch. He walked with her to the Greyhound station and sat with her while waiting for her bus. He asked if he could see her again. He said he'd happily come to Winterset if she would go out to dinner with him, or maybe to a movie, or perhaps both.

She gave him her telephone number and her address but made no commitments. A week later he rang her and asked if he could come to see her on Saturday. She’d told her Mom and Dad the whole story about the spilled drink and the nice young man she’d almost dunked. Mom said she could invite him to dinner on Saturday so that they could meet him.

On the Saturday following their dinner with her folks, he returned to Winterset and took her to see Winterset’s hometown hero John Wayne’s latest movie, “The Wake of the Red Witch.”

No more than two weeks would pass before he made another trek to Winterset, and that became the norm. On Thanksgiving, after dinner had been eaten and the table cleared, they sat on the porch swing, bundled against the chill, and he proposed to her. She accepted and rushed into the kitchen to tell her mom. Dad came in from listening to the football game on the radio to find out what all the yelling was about and said he wasn’t sure at all that this was a good idea.

Yes, Alvin was a nice, stable young man, but he didn’t yet have a steady income. He couldn’t support a wife. And if she moved so far away to Des Moines how could they keep in touch? All were arguments which took the luster away from the exciting news.

Alvin assured Mr. McCree he’d be more than glad to move to Winterset and open a law office there. He was sure that there was enough business with the fast-growing economy that he would have no trouble getting a toehold.

He pointed out they weren’t planning to marry at once, and so everyone agreed that if he was doing well by maybe April or May they would make final plans for the wedding. Mrs. McCree wistfully said that perhaps Mary Ann could be a traditional June bride.

And that is what came to pass. And true to his predictions, Alvin’s law business prospered. A little less than two years after the wedding, in April of 1951, Travis Mitchell was born.

He was a bright, inquisitive child with an active imagination. He began reading before he entered the first grade. The only concern Alvin and Mary Ann had was that he was content to spend a great deal of time alone. He would disappear for hours and if they went looking for him he might be found under a table or behind the sofa or up in the Johnathan apple tree, deep into a favorite book.

He would spend long hours looking out a window or lying in bed watching the shadowy patterns the lace curtains cast on the ceiling as the breeze coming through the window lazily moved them.

They found that their worrying if he was getting into mischief was needless and eventually stopped trying to find him. He would usually respond if called several times, or when he grew hungry enough that he couldn’t ignore it.

At some point when he approached his teenage years, he began writing in spiral notebooks. His mom assumed he was keeping a diary, and bought him a proper one with the word Diary scrawled across the front in cursive script.

But he didn’t use it. What he’d done for years was take characters from the books he read and invent his own stories for them, taking them on adventures far beyond what their creators had imagined for them. The authors often would never have recognized them as their own creations.

The stories took Travis out of his small, confined world. By the time he was fifteen he’d never been to Des Moines, let alone Cedar Rapids or Dubuque or Sioux City. He knew of these cities, but he wasn’t curious about them. They were no challenge to his imagination.

In two months before his sixteenth birthday, they received a phone call from his uncle Silas letting them know that his aunt Beatrice, whom he’d never met, had contracted a liver disease called hepatitis but was getting better. She needed bed rest and it would be a slow process but he was hopeful she would fully recover with time. He said he’d keep them informed of her progress.

Every couple of weeks, if she hadn’t heard from Silas, Mary Ann would call him. By the end of May, it appeared that Beatrice wasn’t improving as quickly as they hoped, and Silas was having trouble paying for someone to watch over her. His business was faltering because his attention was elsewhere and he didn’t see how he could take time off to care for her.

Mary Ann fretted over the bad news and each day her concern grew. Alvin decided something had to be done. He sat his wife down and told her his ideas. A week later he’d made all the arrangements and early one morning he loaded suitcases and a box of Travis’ favorite books into the trunk of their new Mercury Montego. Mary Ann locked up the house and they stopped to leave the keys with her mom and kiss her goodbye.

It was a long drive to Davenport, but that was only their first stop. They continued on to Indianapolis stopping there for the night. Travis had dozed off, but the next morning, when he learned the name of this town, ideas swirled through his head.

The trip continued and missed roads and confusing directions caused them to spend another night on the road. They pulled up in front of the Greenfield’s house late in the afternoon on the third day. Silas came out to greet them and help carry the suitcases into the house.

Beatrice had insisted on getting up and putting on a robe, but she couldn’t come down the stairs, so she greeted them in her room. Travis was shy but the adults were quickly deep in conversation centering around Beatrice’s health and their trip.

Mary Ann took command of the kitchen and Alvin and Silas carried a couple of small tables and several chairs up the stairs so they could dine with Beatrice. The companionship gave her a right to smile and she seemed to improve remarkably.

The next morning Alvin went downtown to talk with a real estate agent he’d contacted the week before. He finalized the rental of a house on one of the barrier islands called Bald Head.

They spent one more night in Fayetteville. The next day was Sunday and Silas’ store was closed. They all got in the car and drove south to Southport where they boarded the short ferry ride to the island marina. There they took a tram which carried them to their summer rental.

It was a small, white, three-bedroom house with a porch that wrapped around two sides. The backyard was surrounded by a tall privacy fence. There were two red maple trees which provided deep shade. A hammock had been strung up between the maples.

They decided to set the formal dining room up as a bedroom for Beatrice so that she would be a part of the daily activities instead of being isolated on the second floor.

Travis was anxious to go to the beach. His dad and uncle walked with him, or rather they walked while he ran. They wended their way through the sand dunes topped with sea oats swaying in the breeze. They came out onto the beach and Travis stopped, stunned. The sky was a silvery blue and went on forever until it became one with the sea. The beach was wide and sparkled under the brilliant sun.

Travis pulled off his shoes and ran to the water, his father and uncle calling out to him to be careful. He stopped when the water swirled up onto the beach and covered his feet. He turned and looked at his dad and laughed.

“Listen,” his dad said. “I know you’ll want to, but you must promise me you won’t go into the water unless there is someone here with you.”

Travis simply said, “Okay.”

“No, listen to me. I’m serious.”

Travis looked at his dad.

“We’re not going to be here. The ocean can be dangerous. You’ll want to go swimming, and you should, but only when there’s another person with you. That means there will be many days when you can’t.”

Silas spoke. “Listen to your dad, Travis. He knows what he’s talking about.”

Travis walked back to where he’d left his shoes, but his feet were covered with sand, so the carried them in his hand. They returned to the house. Alvin and Silas checked with their wives that everything was okay and then returned to the ferry. Alvin had a long drive ahead of him.

Travis soon settled into the routine for each day of that summer. An early breakfast gave way to going to the beach. He was fascinated with the sand dunes and how when he lay down between him he felt hidden from the world.

The sea oats waving overhead added to the sense of seclusion.

He returned to the house for lunch and then spent the hot afternoons in the hammock writing in his notebooks. When the sun sank lower in the sky he returned to the beach and watched the shadows grow longer and the spaces between the dunes darker.

Each day became indistinguishable from the others. The notebooks became full of new stories. Glasses of lemonade were drunk. The lightning from thunderstorms lit up the sky at night. Downpours kept Travis confined to his room some afternoons.

Aunt Beatrice grew stronger and picnics were held on the living room floor with the ceiling fans whirling overhead. June became July. The Fourth of July was celebrated with fried chicken and a parade of decorated golf carts and sparklers after dark.

One more day passed and late in the afternoon Travis walked down to the beach and lay down between the sea-oat covered dunes. He lay on his back looking at the white clouds streaming across the sky. After a while, he sat up and was going to lie back down on his stomach when a movement caught his eye.

He looked toward the ocean and saw the figure of a tall slim boy his own age throwing something into the surf. He was wearing only a pair of jeans which had been ripped off just below his knees. His shirtless body was a dark brown. The sun had burnished his brown color until it had a golden sheen and the light glinted off his skin. His hair was black and tightly curled.

Travis had seen colored people in Winterset, but very few and they were just in the background. He never thought about them. This young man was somehow different. His body was muscular and his skin was smooth.

His movements were graceful. Travis realized the boy was throwing a cord that had a small weight attached to one end into the sea and then pulling it back in order to throw it in again. While watching him it dawned on Travis the boy was fishing in a way he’d never seen done before.

He stood up and walked in the boy’s direction. As he drew near the boy sensed he was there and turned in his direction. Travis thought he’d never seen anyone so handsome in such a different way.

“Hi,” he said.

The boy smiled and replied, “Hi.”

“Are you fishing?” Travis asked although he knew the answer.

“Yeah, tryin’ to,” the boy said.

“Not catching anything?” Travis continued questioning.

“Not today.” The boy smiled again.

“Do you live around here?” Travis inquired.

With his chin, the boy pointed away from the beach. “Over that-a-way.”

Travis had never been to that part of the island.

“You?” the brown boy asked.

“Yeah. Just over there,” Travis said, lifting his hand to show the direction.

The boy nodded as if that was the answer he’d expected. Neither of them said more and the boy gathered his cord and threw it in the surf again.

“I’m Travis,” Travis volunteered.

“Hi,” the boy said.

“What your name?” Travis asked.

“Apollo,” the boy answered.

“Hi,” Travis said.

They both smiled. Travis sat down on the sand just out of reach of the broken waves.

"Where you from?” Apollo asked knowing Travis wasn’t a permanent resident of Bald Head Island. He didn’t associate with them, but Apollo knew who everybody that lived on the island was.

“Iowa,” Travis said.

“Where’s dat?” Apollo asked.

“A long way from here. You don’t know where Iowa is?” Travis was surprised.

“I ain’t never heard of it. What is it?” Apollo threw the weighted cord into the ocean again.

“It’s a state. You know, one of the United States’ states, like North Carolina.” He was squinting up at Apollo, wondering if he was being serious or kidding him.

“Oh,” Apollo said.

Travis was curious. “Don’t you study geography in school?”

“I ain’t never been to school,” Apollo said. “Ain’t no school here for colored people.”

Travis thought about this for a minute. “Can’t you go to school over there?”

He pointed in the direction of the opposite shore.

“Ain’t never been off this here island,” Apollo said.

Travis thought that strange, without thinking about the fact he’d never been outside Winterset before this summer.

Another question came into Travis’ head. “How old are you?”

Apollo tossed the line back in. “Seventeen or eighteen.”

“Don’t you know which?” Travis asked.

“My mamma says I’s seventeen but my gran’ma always says mamma ain’t right and I was born a year ‘fore,” Apollo answered, pulling his cord back in.

Travis thought for a moment. “What about your dad, what’s he say?”

Apollo threw the line out again. “Ain’t got no daddy. Ne’er did.”

Suddenly the cord jerked and jumped around in the water.

“Got one,” Apollo shouted.

Travis lept up onto his feet. Apollo used both hands to pull the line in. The caught fish appeared and flopped as Apollo brought it in. It was at least a foot long and gleamed silver in the late afternoon sun.

He grabbed the cord just above the fish’s mouth and held it up.

“Well, now I got somethin’ to eat tonight. Mamma’s gonna be happy,” he crowed.

He turned and looked at Travis. “You gonna be here tomorrow?” he asked.

Travis nodded. “I come here every afternoon.”

Apollo began walking up the beach and said over his shoulder, “I see you then.”

That night as he lay in bed Travis remembered Apollo saying, “Now I got something to eat tonight.” He wondered if Apollo hadn’t caught the fish would he have gone to bed hungry?

The next afternoon he went into the kitchen while his mom was upstairs. He got an orange and two cupcakes and put them in a paper bag. He mixed walking and running to the beach. Apollo was nowhere to be seen.

Travis pushed a clump of sea oats aside and sat on top of one of the dunes anxiously waiting. When he spied Apollo coming down the beach he jumped up and waved his arms over his head, tearing the paper bag.

He suddenly felt foolish and let his arms drop to his sides but when Apollo drew near he couldn’t suppress the smile that spread across his face.

“Hi,” Apollo said.

Travis didn’t say anything. The smile conveyed his greeting.

“Are you going to fish today?” he asked.

“Didn’t bring my line and hook. I wasn’t home. I was workin’.”

“Where do you work?” Travis wanted to know.

“Everwhere. I jus’ finds work where I can,” he said, smiling for no reason. “Wacha got in that there bag?”

Travis pulled out the orange. “An orange. You want it?”

Apollo looked at it for a moment. “Nah. It’s youren.”

Travis held it out to him. “You can have it. I already ate one. I don’t want this one.”

Apollo took the orange and hurridly peeled it. He bit into it and the juice ran down his chin. He looked up at Travis and laughed.

They walked down toward the water’s edge and sat down on the packed sand. Apollo finished the orange and licked the juice from his fingers. He looked at Travis and then at the bag Travis was still holding. Travis knew from his expression that he was wondering what else was in the bag.

Travis pulled out one of the cupcakes and offered it to Apollo. Apollo looked at it but hesitated.

“I got another one,” Travis said.

He pulled the second cupcake out with his other hand, letting the empty bag fall onto the sand. The wind picked it up and blew it into the water.

“Here.” He moved his hand closer to Apollo. Apollo took the cupcake and sank his teeth into it. With the cupcake still pressed against his lips, he cut his eyes up at Travis again. His lips spread in a smile. Travis started to bite into his cupcake and then stopped. He waited for Apollo to finish eating.

“You can have this one too. I ate too much just before I came down here. I’m really not hungry.” He looked into Apollo’s eyes, searching for any sign that Apollo didn’t believe him. Apollo took the second cupcake. He ate this one more slowly, licking his lips clean between bites.

They leaned back on their elbows and silently watched the waves roll in for several minutes. Travis had questions rolling around in his head. He began by asking if Apollo had any brothers or sisters. He said he had one of each, but he never saw them. They’d left the island long ago and there was just him and his mamma.

He returned the question and Travis said he had a mom and dad but no brothers or sisters. They passed the afternoon questioning, developing the answers into a conversation, getting to know each other.

Each afternoon of that week followed the same pattern with Travis bringing something for Apollo to eat. Some days he didn’t eat it, planning to take it home to his mamma.

On one of those afternoons, Travis asked Apollo if he ever went in the water. Apollo said he didn’t because he had no reason to.

“Do you know how to swim?” Travis asked.

Apollo said he did and Travis said he did too but had never swum in the ocean. He explained his dad had made him promise he wouldn’t try it alone, and he didn’t have anybody to swim with him.

“You want to?” Apollo asked.

“Yeah,” Travis answered wistfully.

“I mean now?” Apollo put as a question.

“I don’t have a bathing suit with me,” Travis said with the sound of explaining to a small child in his voice.

“Look ‘round you,” Apollo stated. “Who do ya see? They ain’t nobody ‘round here. This part of the beach ain’t liked by most people. They never comes here.”

“You think we can?” Travis asked, the tone of his voice changing to disbelief.

“Jus’ watch,” Apollo said as he scrambled to his feet.

He unbuttoned the jeans he always wore and kicked them off. He stood there before Travis completely nude. At the same time that Travis was amused, he was aware of Apollo’s beautiful body and the size and shape of his dick. It was a good deal larger than his own and the head was covered with skin.

His dick and balls were both several shades darker than the rest of his body. The base of his dick was surrounded by small, tight black curls. Travis sat still, his eyes fixed on the sight before him.

“Well,” Apollo said, breaking his concentration. What do you think?”

Travis’ mind was confused by what he was looking at and the question. He started to answer but no words came out.

Apollo blissfully continued. “You wanna go in or not?”

He reached his large hand down and grasped Travis’ arm, pulling him to his feet.

“Git neked and let’s go in.”

Travis pulled off his T-shirt and tennis shoes and socks. He hesitated and looked at Apollo’s nakedness again. Slowly he unbuttoned his shorts and let them drop to his ankles. He kicked them off and stopped.

“You gonna swim in your drawers?” Apollo asked.

Travis shook his head and pushed his briefs down and kicked them to the side. Apollo turned and ran down to the water’s edge and out to his knees. He plunged in and resurfaced a couple yards away, laughing.

Travis walked into the water tentatively. When he was knee deep he squatted in the water so that it came up to his shoulders. Apollo splashed to his side and grabbed both of his arms.

“Come on in a li’l bit. We ain’t gonna go too far out. Jus’ ‘nuff to swim.”

They waddled out, standing as they got in deeper. When it was up to their armpits they stopped. They each swam a couple of yards and stopped. Apollo splashed water toward Travis and he responded with a water fight soon engulfing them in fits of laughing and coughing.

Travis grabbed Apollo’s arm and Apollo entangled his legs with Travis’ pulling him under the water. They came up and Apollo lunged at Travis. Travis ducked out of the way and ensnared Apollo with his arm around Apollo’s neck. Apollo twisted and wrapped his legs around Travis’ waist.

His dick was pressed against Travis’ side, but neither of them was immediately aware of their situation. As Travis twisted to get free and their bodies rubbed together the sensuous feel became apparent. They broke free, each pushing the other away.

They didn’t speak for a couple of minutes but then looked at each other. Neither knew what the other was thinking.

“We better go on home,” Apollo said.

“Yeah,” Travis said as he turned his back to Apollo and waded toward the shore.

They dressed their wet bodies without talking.

When they were dressed Apollo looked at Travis. “Comin’ tomorrow?” he said.

“Yeah,” said Travis. “See ya. Bye.”

The next day was Sunday. Travis’ mom followed certain traditions, one of those being the big meal of the day was after church whether they attended church or not. This day she fried up a platter of chicken, made a bowl of potato salad and a pitcher of sweet tea to go with the chocolate cake she’d baked the night before.

When she announced that dinner was on the table, Beatrice said she wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want anything to eat just now. Travis copied her and said he wasn’t hungry but would eat later. Mary Ann was frustrated but didn’t feel like arguing with either of them.

She ate alone, cleared the table, put the food in the refrigerator and the dishes in the sink to soak. She went upstairs to lie down until the day’s heat dissipated.

Travis waited in his hammock until his mother had left the kitchen. He went in and found another paper bag. He took three pieces of chicken and two pieces of cake and put them in the bag.

He looked at the kitchen clock and saw it was too early to go to the beach. Apollo was never there at this time of the afternoon. He went back out into the backyard but wasn’t in the mood to write in his notebook.

He restlessly waited as the minutes slowly crept by. Finally, he grabbed the bag and went back into the kitchen. He took a mason jar and its lid out from under the sink and the pitcher from the refrigerator. He filled the jar with sweet tea, sealed it and put it into the bag.

He set out in the direction of the beach but had a sudden thought. He went back to the house and crept upstairs being careful not to make any noise. He opened the closet in the hall that held the linens and pulled a beach towel down from a high shelf and threw it over his shoulder.

He went down the stairs. When he reached the bottom his aunt called out, “Travis, is that you?”

“Yes, Aunt Bea.” He answered. “I’m going upstairs to take a nap.”

He waited a few seconds and then went out, quietly closing the front door, and turned toward the beach.

He sat among the dunes under the partial shade cast by the swaying sea oats.

The time crept by and the sun began its descent into the west. Travis lay back on the beach towel and thought about the story he’d been writing. His eyes grew heavy and he dozed.

A shrill whistle shattered his sleep, followed by a shout.

“Travis, where are you? You here? T-R-A-V-I-S.”

Travis jumped and stumbled to the top of the dune he’d been lying on. He waved his arms over his head.

“Apollo. I’m here. Over here.”

Apollo spotted him and broke into a trot toward him. He ran up the dune and grabbed Travis with his arm thrown around his neck. They tumbled down the dune onto the crumpled towel.

“Wha’s dis?” Apollo asked. "You goin’ swimmin’?”

“No, not today. I brought it so we can eat and not get sand in our food.”

Apollo’s eyes opened wide. “Watcha bring?”

Travis straightened the towel and sat down. He opened the bag and pulled out the Mason jar. It was smeared with chocolate icing from the cake.

He held it up to show Apollo the mess. Apollo leaned forward and licked a swath of it off. Travis laughed and copied Apollo. They both licked the remainder of the icing off, their tongues sometimes touching.

When the jar was mostly cleaned Travis set it aside and pulled out two pieces of chicken. They had smudges of chocolate on them too, but neither of them objected.

“Which one you want” Travis inquired.

Apollo shrugged. “They looks the same.”

Travis handed him one and bit into the other. Apollo took a bite of his and his eyes lit up. His mouth was full, but his lips spread in a smile. As they ate they passed the jar of iced tea back and forth, taking sips. Apollo finished his chicken and licked the grease from his fingers.

“There’s another one for you in the bag,” Travis said.

“No, dat’s for my mamma,” Apollo said.

“What about this?” Travis asked, pulling out a piece of smashed cake.

Apollo looked at it with indecision showing on his face.

Tavis said, “Go on, there’s another in the bag for your mamma.”

“Ain’t dat un yours?” Apollo asked.

Travis decided to lie. “I ate some at lunchtime. And I still got more at home.”

The last part helped erase the lie a little.

They drained the last of the iced tea from the jar. They continued to sit and talk as the sun sank lower in the sky. After an hour Apollo stood up and unbuttoned his torn-off jeans.

He turned slightly away and pulled out his dick and began to urinate. Travis sat looking at it with the same fascination he had the day before. The strong stream soaked into the sand and dug a small hole in the center of the stain.

As the stream diminished Travis said, “Your dick is so big.”

“Yeah? Ya think so?” Apollo responded.

“Well, it’s bigger than mine. That’s for sure.” Travis shifted his gaze up to Apollo’s face but Apollo was still looking at his dick.

“And it’s different, with your foreskin,” Travis added.

“My what?” Apollo looked at Travis.

“Foreskin. That’s what you call that.” He pointed at the head of Apollo’s dick.

“Yeah,” Apollo mused. “I saw yesterday you don’t got dat. Why?”

“They cut it off when I was a baby,” Travis told him.

“Owww! Why’d they do dat?”

“They do it to a lot of boys. I don’t know why. Health I guess, but it didn’t hurt. Or I don’t remember it if it did.”

Apollo looked back at Travis. “Can I see it again?”

Travis hesitated but realized Apollo was standing there with his dick in his hand.

He pushed his shorts down below his testicles and exposed his dick. Apollo looked at it for several seconds.

He spoke. “Dat looks kinda neat. I bet it’s easy to keep clean. My mamma had a boyfriend once dat tol’ me I had to keep it clean. He showed me how.”

Travis’ next question was one of those made without thinking. “Can I touch it?”

Apollo didn’t take his gaze from his dick. “Yeah, if’n you wants to.”

Travis reached his hand out from where he sat. Apollo took a step toward him and Travis placed his hand against it and then gently wrapped his fingers around it. At once Apollo’s dick began to thicken and become firm. Travis moved his hand up so that Apollo’s foreskin moved back revealing his glans.

It glistened a dark, almost black, purple. Apollo had let out a small gasp and now gripped Travis’ wrist.

In a slightly hoarse voice, he said, “You better stop ‘fore you goes too far.”

Travis found he didn’t want to let go of Apollo’s dick but he relaxed his grip and Apollo let his hand drop.

Apollo looked up at the sky where a pale form of the moon was just visible. “It’s gettin’ purty late. You better be gettin’ on home.”

He put his dick in his jeans and buttoned them up. He grabbed Travis’ arm and pulled him up onto his feet. Travis picked up the towel and the paper bag. He handed the bag to Apollo.

“I hope your mamma likes the chicken and cake,” he said.

Apollo grinned, his teeth gleaming in the fading light. “I knows she will. Thanks.”

They stood looking at each other for several minutes.

Travis asked, “Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow,” Apollo repeated. They turned and each went his own way.

The next day for lunch Travis’ mom used Sunday’s leftovers to make chicken and sweet pickle sandwiches. Travis wondered what he could take to Apollo. He felt he could no longer go empty handed.

He passed the afternoon writing out the scenes he’d imagined while waiting for Apollo the day before but his mind kept seeing him touching Apollo’s dick from a third person’s perspective.

He decided it was time to head for his rendezvous he went up to his room and got the towel again. In the kitchen, he looked through the refrigerator and found a cucumber, a tomato, two bananas, and an apple. He wasn’t pleased with his cache but there wasn’t more he could do. He was a little late and trotted to the beach. By the time he got there, he was covered with sweat and breathing hard.

Apollo was there, throwing his fishing line into the ocean for the first time since the day they’d met. He saw Travis running through the dunes.

When he got near Apollo said, “Wacha runnin’ for? Somebody chasin’ ya?”

Travis bent forward with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath.

“No.” He took a couple of deeps breaths. “I was late. I thought you might be gone.”

“Why would I do dat?”

Travis didn’t have an answer. “Here.” He held out the bag.

Apollo took it but didn’t open it. “You sweatin’ like a pig,” he said.

Travis used the towel to wipe the sweat from his face.

Apollo continued, “You really do need to take a swim today.”

Travis pointed at the bag. “That’s all I could bring today.”

Apollo looked at the bag but still didn’t open it. “You ain’t got to bring me nuttin’. It ain’t no law.”

“I know,” Travis said quietly.

“Well?” Apollo asked.

Travis frowned. “What?”

“You wanna take dat swim?” Apollo was grinning at him.

Travis was suddenly filled with the desire to see his friend naked again.

“Yeah. Sure.”

Apollo wound his fishing line around his fingers and stuck it in his pocket. With one movement he unbuttoned his jeans and let them drop to his ankles. For the first time, Travis realized Apollo didn’t wear anything under his jeans. And he was sure he wore the same jeans every day.

Travis got undressed as quickly as he could and carried his clothes far enough back he knew the water wouldn’t reach them. When he turned around he looked at Apollo and thought he was even more beautiful than his memory had recorded.

Apollo ran into the water and Travis followed him. They fell forward as if diving. They swam out until their feet wouldn’t reach the sea floor.

Apollo turned and swam back toward the shore. When he stood his square chest was just above the water, his dark nipples holding drops of water. Travis swam around behind Apollo and came up behind him. He wrapped his arms around Apollo with his hands resting on his chest.

Apollo turned his head as if asking Travis what he was doing but he didn’t say anything. In a moment he twisted around so he was facing Travis. They both became aware that their dicks were pressed together.

Apollo laughed, pushed Travis away and dived under the water. He swam several feet and surfaced. He dived under again and swam toward the shore. When he came up the water was just over his knees. As the waves came in they would lift his dick and balls so that they were floating and then they would hang free again.

Travis liked the way drops of water were caught in Apollo’s tight curls and sparkled in the sunlight. He swam toward Apollo, planning to grab him in a wrestling hold again but Apollo turned and splashed through the water to the beach. Travis followed him out of the water.

They walked back to behind the dune ignoring their clothing. Travis used the towel to dry off but Apollo flopped down on the sand, lying on his back.

Travis spread the towel and lay down beside Apollo. The sea oats sent shadows dancing across their naked bodies. A few minutes of silence passed before Apollo broke it.

“Travis,” he started but stopped.

Travis looked at him. “Yeah?”

Apollo returned his gaze. “You wanna touch it agin?”

He shifted his gaze to his dick which was lying across one of his thighs. Travis didn’t say anything but reached his hand across and gathered Apollo’s soft dick in his hand. He marveled at how smooth the skin felt to his touch.

“You’s gonna make it git hard. Dat okay?” Apollo was still looking at his dick, now encased in Travis’ hand.

Travis felt the dick begin to grow and escape his grasp. He readjusted his hand so that it was wrapped around the growing shaft. He moved his hand so that the foreskin slid back and then moved it forward again watching the head appear and disappear.

He noted the change in Apollo’s breathing. Apollo again repeated, “Travis?”

Travis looked at him. This time Apollo was looking in his eyes.

“You wanna make me cum?”

Travis simply nodded his head. He returned to moving his hand up and down, picking up speed. Both of their attentions were focused on Travis’ hand wrapped around Apollo’s long dick.

Apollo’ breathing became faster and more audible. Travis was moving his hand as rapidly as he could. Apollo suddenly grabbed Travis’ wrist and stopped his movement. His dick jerked and cum shot out and landed on his stomach. Another spurt was followed by another. The last oozed out and ran down the head of his dick and over the crumpled foreskin.

Travis was enchanted with the contrast of the white cum glistening on Apollo’s golden-brown skin. A moment passed and then Apollo looked at Travis and burst out laughing. Travis joined him.

His laughter faded as he watched Apollo use a finger to scoop up some of his cum and flick it off onto the sand by his side. He repeated the action twice more. He took a corner of the towel and wiped the remaining cum from his stomach and the head of his dick.

He looked at Travis and his face broke into a big smile. “We’s crazy ain’t we?” he asked.

“You, not me,” Travis said.

Apollo jumped up. “Le’s go in the water agin,” he said and ran up over the dune and down toward the water.

Travis followed him and they ran out into the surf, splashing water at each other. Apollo grabbed Travis and pulled him down into the water. He wrapped his arms and legs around Travis, crushing his now soft dick against his hip.

“You likes it?” he asked.

Travis wasn’t sure if Apollo was referring to what was happening now or what they had done but he grinned and said, “Yeah.”

He wiggled his body from side to side, rubbing his dick against Travis’ hip. He let Travis free and roughly pushed him away. But then he splashed more water in his face and laughed.

They remained bobbing in the water, not speaking for several minutes.

“I’m sorry I didn’t bring you more to eat,” Travis said.

Apollo shook his head. “I done tol’ you, it ain’t ‘portant. I ate breakfast dis mornin’.”

He turned his back to Travis and waded back to the sand. When he got there he picked up his jeans and pulled them on over his wet legs. He looked at Travis still crouched in the water.

“You gonna spend da whole night swimmin’?”

Travis stood and sloshed through the water up to the sand. He picked up his clothes, went around behind the dune and dried off again, pressing the corner of the towel where Apollo had wiped his cum to his face. He took a deep breath.

Apollo came around the end of the dune and Travis dropped the towel. He got dressed and Apollo stuck out his hand. Travis looked at it, not fully understanding, but took the hand to shake.

Apollo jerked him forward throwing him off balance. He fell against Apollo and Apollo embraced him and laughed at the same time.

He let him go and said, “I jes ‘membered, I ain’t gonna come here tomorrow. I got a job helpin’ Mr. Thompson paint his front porch. We gotta do it in the mornin’ and when it’s dry do it again.”

“Can’t you come later?” Travis asked.

“It’s a big porch. But I come for sure next day.”

They parted and Tavis almost ran home, filled with jubilation.

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