Go to all chapters of "Medium Security" and "The Outsiders".
"I was here when I was in 7th Grade," said Justin as he and Brian walked around Gettysburg. "It was our yearly field trip. All I can remember is that it was raining like crazy that day and we ate lunch at the big trunk-stop at Breezewood on the Pennsylvania Turnpike."
"Well, it isn't raining today," Brian commented, squinted up at the bright July sun. "It's hot as a bitch." He felt the sweat trickling down the back of his neck and into his tee shirt. He and Justin had been walking for about an hour, looking at the battlefield and the cemetery, while Justin tried out his new Instamatic.
There were a lot of families touring Gettysburg -- dad and mom and young kids, who ran wild on the grass or pretended to shoot each other while their parents took photos and read the historical markers. There were also groups of Boy Scouts, dutifully following their leaders and listening to lectures about the history of the Civil War. And there were a few lone walkers, mostly older men who carried detailed guidebooks and took pictures of specific sites with expensive foreign cameras.
"You want to stay here in Gettysburg tonight?" asked Justin. There were lots of motels in the area, as well as fast food restaurants and shops selling cheap souvenirs, everything in blue or gray so that you could choose your affiliation, either North or South.
"I don't know," Brian shrugged. "I think I'd like to get out of Pennsylvania at least. We haven't gotten very far on our first day on the road."
"I didn't think we were in a hurry, Brian," said Justin, checking to see how many shots were left before he had to change the film cartridge. "I like taking our time and just stopping whenever we feel like it. Not having a schedule is good. I'm sick of schedules and people telling me what to do and when to do it."
"Ah, freedom!" Brian smiled. He liked that feeling, too, even though it made him uneasy. He had lived for so long in a limited environment -- the confines of his cell, his tier, his wing, the Stanton Quad -- that to have the whole fucking world in front of him, with no limits, made him nervous. Freedom was an unknown. An open road was also a ominous road. You never who was who or what was around the next bend. And that was thrilling, but it was frightening, too.
"This is a beautiful place," said Justin. "I mean, once you get away from all the tourist stuff in the town. What do people do with that junk when they get it home? Why would anyone want salt and pepper shakers of General Grant and General Lee?"
"I don't know," Brian admitted. "People always want to buy something, even if it's stupid, just because they're on vacation. Maybe it's to prove they were actually there. I had an aunt who collected spoons. A spoon from Niagara Falls. Another from the World's Fair. One from Washington, D.C. From Virginia Beach. From wherever the fuck they happened to go that summer. She had a wooden frame to hang them and display in her living room. Who knows why she wanted them? Why do all these people take pictures of the battlefield?" Brian gestured at the grass. "It's just a field. It's just trees. It looks like any other field. The battle happened over a hundred years ago. There's really nothing to see. Nothing at all."
"That reminds me," said Justin, grinning. "I want a picture of the two of us!"
Brian rolled his eyes. "Why do you want a picture of me? I'm not a fucking national monument!"
"You are to me," Justin laughed. "Now stand right there. That wooden fence makes a good background." Justin peered through the tiny viewer and centered the shot. "Smile!" he ordered, snapping the picture while Brian made a face.
"Let's get something to eat and head south," said Brian. "I've had enough of battlefields and cemeteries. It feels like too many ghosts are still hanging around here."
"One more! Of us together!" Justin insisted. A man was standing nearby, leafing through a guidebook. "Excuse me? Will you take a picture of me and my boyfriend?"
The man stared at Justin and frowned. Then he glanced at Brian. And he walked away abruptly.
"Hey!" Justin called after him. "What's your problem?"
"Justin!" Brian barked. "Forget it! Let's get the hell out of here."
"But I want a picture!" Justin retorted. He saw a woman standing next to an historical marker, reading the inscription. She had curly gray hair and round glasses and her face looked kind. But you never know, Justin thought. You never really know.
"Excuse me, ma'am?" Justin said softly, giving her his most ingratiating grin. "Will you please take a picture of me and my boyfriend?" He paused. "That other man refused to do it. Will you?"
The woman gazed at Justin, blinking. Then she looked at Brian, who came up behind him and put his hand on his shoulder.
"Of course, honey." She had a distinct Southern accent. "Just show me how to work the thing and I'll take it for you."
"Thanks!" Justin replied. "Look through the viewer and press this button. Then you advance the film here." He indicated a small lever. "That's all you have to do."
Justin stood back and put his arm around Brian. But Brian wasn't smiling. "Come on!" Justin urged. "For the picture!" And Brian smiled tightly as the woman took the photo.
"Let me take another to be sure, darlin'," she said, snapping a second shot.
"Thanks so much!" said Justin, retrieving the camera. "Are you from the South? That's where we're going! To Florida. We have a friend from Hazelhurst, Mississippi -- Emmett Honeycutt. Are you from anywhere around there?"
"Why no, honey," said the woman, shaking her head. "I'm from Philippi, West Virginia. That's nowhere near Mississippi."
"I guess not," said Justin, checking the camera. There were two more shots before he'd have to change the film cartridge.
"You boys driving all the way to Florida?" she asked. "That's a long trip."
"I know," said Justin. "That's what we want. A nice long drive -- just the two of us!"
The woman touched Justin's arm gently. "You be careful, darlin'," she said with some concern. "Don't be getting into any trouble." Then she turned to Brian. "You take good care of this boy, you hear me?"
"Yes, ma'am," Brian agreed. "I hear you."
The two of them began heading back to the lot where they had parked the T-bird.
"Justin," said Brian. "I want you to listen to me and not get angry."
Justin sighed. He already knew what Brian was going to say. "I'm listening."
"That man back there -- that wasn't a smart thing to do," said Brian. "That wasn't using your head, Justin. I know that you feel you don't have anything to hide, but this isn't Liberty Avenue where they're used to seeing guys together. This also isn't the Quad, where everyone knew us and accepted a jock and his punk."
"But Brian...." Justin tried to interrupt.
"No! This is important!" Brian asserted. "We're going out into the world -- and the world does NOT like faggots! That's the reality and that's what we have to live with, kid. Maybe some people might be nice, like that lady. But other people won't be so understanding. You know that, Justin, so don't make trouble for yourself. Or for both of us. Most people will live and let live -- unless you push them. And people don't like to be pushed."
"But this is 1979, Brian!" Justin insisted. "Not 1969! Things are changing. I'm not ashamed of being a queer -- and neither are you."
"I know you're not, Justin, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be extra careful, especially as we go farther south," said Brian. "Like I said, use your fucking head! Because if you get into trouble, then I'll be the one who has to get you out of it. I'm your jock and that means I have to protect you -- no matter what. Do you understand me?"
Justin flinched. The rough scar along Brian's side came clearly into his mind. And Brian, lying on the ground with the blood seeping out of him. "Yes," Justin said in a subdued voice. "I understand." He reached over and took his lover's hand in his own. "I'm sorry, Brian. I wasn't thinking. If anything happened to you again, I... I...." he swallowed. "Let's go. Please?"
Justin was very brave, but sometimes he was too fearless, too open and honest, Brian thought. Brian didn't want to stifle that fearless nature. But he also wanted Justin to be safe. Always safe.
"Yeah," said Brian, squeezing Justin's hand. "Let's get out of Pennsylvania and see what the rest of the world has in store for us."
Just over the Virginia state line, Brian and Justin stopped and ate dinner at a Howard Johnson's.
"There are a couple of motels along this strip," said Brian as he picked at an onion ring. "Let's find one, get a good night's sleep, and then get an early start tomorrow morning."
"Sounds good to me!" Justin grinned. "But first -- ice cream for dessert!" He reached for the menu to review the long list of selections.
Brian raised an eyebrow. "You aren't going to make me stop at every Howard Johnson's between here and Florida so that you can work your way through all 28 flavors, are you?"
Justin's eyes widened innocently. "Sounds like a plan to me. I think I'll start with vanilla." He raised his hand and motioned the waitress over, ordering a hot fudge sundae.
"And what will you have, sir?" she asked, turning to Brian.
"More coffee," Brian replied. Then he thought about the long drive ahead of them the next day. "Make it de-caf."
Justin made short work of the sundae and then the waitress brought over the check.
"Jesus," said Brian, taking out his wallet. "Almost five bucks for two burgers, fries, onion rings, Coke, coffee -- and a hot fudge sundae! That's highway robbery!"
"But we have money, Brian," Justin interjected. "Don't forget the advance for your book."
"That's the money we've been living on, kid," Brian reminded him. "And we may have to live on it for a while -- or at least until some royalties come in after publication. But that's not until this fall. And I'll be damned if I'm going to borrow money from Ron if we run short!"
"We won't," Justin said firmly. "But if we do, then we can get jobs as lifeguards down in Florida! Or as poolboys!"
Brian made a face. "That the hell is a poolboy?"
"It's a cute guy who comes to your house and cleans your pool!" Justin explained. "He usually wears really tight swim trunks and has a great ass!"
Brian frowned. "Who told you about that?"
"Two guys at the diner," Justin smiled. "They said I'd make a really good poolboy. Then they invited me to come over to their house to give it a try."
"I bet!" Brian snorted, putting down a tip for the waitress. "Poolboys, huh? Over my dead body! Come on -- let's blow this joint."
The Mountainview Motel about a mile down the road had a large sign that proclaimed it had 'Vacancies' -- and also air conditioning and cable TV.
"This place looks as good as any of them," said Brian, pulling up to the office. "You wait here and I'll check in."
Brian asked for a double room. He paid the $12 in advance and the man at the desk handed him the key.
"Room 17," said Brian to Justin, slipping back into the T-bird.
"This is fun!" said Justin, as Brian parked the car in front of the room. "I haven't stayed at a motel since I was a kid."
"Me neither," said Brian, getting out of the T-bird and popping open the trunk. "But we'll be seeing the inside of a lot of motel rooms before we reach Florida." He grabbed his suitcase and also pulled out Justin's bag.
The motel room was basic -- just a double bed with a small bedside table, a desk with a television bolted to it, a tiny closet, and a bathroom. But the air conditioner whirred away loudly in the window, blasting cool air into the room.
"This feels great, Brian!" Justin said, standing directly in front of the unit and basking in the cold air flowing over him. "I wish the T-bird had air conditioning. It was getting really hot while we were driving."
"The T-bird does have air conditioning," Brian retorted. He kicked off his boots and pushed them into the closet with his foot. "It's called 'windows'! You roll them down and enjoy the breeze!"
Justin rolled his eyes. "It's going to get a lot hotter, isn't it?"
"Obviously," said Brian, stripping off his tee shirt and flopping down on the bed. "It's July and we're heading south. Florida will probably be pretty steamy. But no worse than the Quad on a hot day." Brian thought about the heat that hung relentlessly over Stanton Correctional in the summer and the sweltering cells where there was little relief. "But as long as these motels are air conditioned, I can deal with it. Unless you want to go home already?"
"Are you kidding?" Justin laughed. He went over to the bed. "Shove over!"
Brian moved over and let Justin lie down next to him. He had the remote control for the television in his hand and he began clicking it. "There must be at least 10 different channels here -- including Home Box Office!"
"What the fuck is the need for 10 channels?" asked Brian. "You can only watch one at a time -- and what's on is nothing but crap anyway."
Justin moved from channel to channel, pausing for a few minutes on one and then jumping to the next.
"Will you stop that!" snapped Brian, grabbing for the remote control. "Find something to watch and stay there."
But Justin wrestled the changer back. "Don't be a spoiled sport! It's neat looking at all the channels!"
Brian got up and headed for the bathroom. "In that case, I'm taking a shower -- and then I'm going to bed."
After he finished his shower Brian felt much better. He had to admit that he was nervous starting out from Pittsburgh on the trip. They had a long way to go and the outside world still freaked Brian out more than he wanted to admit. But the whole point of this vacation was for the two of them to have fun. To relax. To understand completely that they really were free and could go anywhere and do anything they wanted to.
Brian wrapped the thin motel towel around his waist. Justin was lying in bed under the sheet, his pale bare chest shining in the dim light of the television. He had turned on some late night talk show, but he had the sound turned down.
"Look at this, Brian," Justin said, pointing to a metal box clamped to the headboard of the bed. "'Magic Fingers -- Relaxing Massage.' And it's only 25 cents! You want to try it?"
Brian frowned. "What do they mean? What kind of massage? In that box?"
"I don't know," said Justin. "Give me a quarter and we'll find out."
Brian retrieved a quarter from the pocket of his jeans and tossed it to Justin, who slipped it into the slot. The bed immediately began to make a chugging sound and then began to shake.
"Wow!" cried Justin, lying flat on the bed. "It's vibrating like crazy! Kind of like a carnival ride!"
Brian watched as the bed buzzed and Justin laughed. "That's the stupidest thing I've seen yet!" he said.
"Don't knock it until you've tried it," said Justin as the 'Magic Fingers' sputtered to the stop and the bed was once again still. "Get on. But get a handful of quarters first. I have a brilliant idea!"
"Oh, yeah?" Brian smirked. "I bet I can guess what your brilliant idea is."
"Does that mean you don't want to do it?" Justin asked, his mouth making a pouting movement.
"Of course I want to do it, you little punk!" Brian collected a handful of change from his jeans pocket and then tossed his towel onto the floor. "What do you think?"
Brian pushed another quarter into the metal box and the 'Magic Fingers' began to agitate the bed. He squirted some lube onto his hands and slicked up his cock, which was already hard in anticipation.
Justin lifted up his legs. The vibration from the mattress was running up and down his back. "Quick! Get your dick into me before it shuts off!"
"Don't worry, I have plenty of quarters," Brian reassured him. He eased his cock into Justin slowly, but he could feel the boy's ass vibrating. And also the vibration on his knees and legs as he knelt over him. It was a strange but extremely arousing sensation.
Brian began to thrust, but the 'Magic Fingers' shut off only a few minutes in. "Shit!" said Brian, feeding in another quarter. "This thing is like a goddamn slot machine! It's addictive!"
"There's only one 'slot' I care about," Justin moaned as the bed began to vibrate again. "So don't stop now! Don't EVER stop! Oh, God!"
"There goes my good night's sleep," breathed Brian as he felt the buzz of the bed move from Justin's ass directly to his cock, sending him into a frenzy of fucking. "But what the hell? I can sleep any time! I'll sleep tomorrow!"
After they both had come and the bed was quiet, Brian and Justin lay side by side listening to the loud whir of the air conditioner.
"You were right, Brian. We can sleep in tomorrow," Justin sighed contentedly. "We have all the time in the world to get to Florida. All the time we need." Then he reached out to the bedside table for another quarter to put into the metal box. "After all -- we're on vacation. But we WILL need more quarters!"
Posted June 23, 2006.