Go to all chapters of "Medium Security" and "The Outsiders".
By the time Brian and Justin woke up the next morning it was almost check-out time.
Brian groaned when he looked at his watch. "Shit! It's all the fault of that fucking devil machine! That goddamn Magic Fingers!"
"No problem," said Justin, yawning. "Why don't we stay here today and go on tomorrow? There's a pool and I'd really like to take a swim."
Brian sat up and tried to smooth down his bed-head. "Why not? This is as good a place as any to catch our breath."
"I saw a payphone next to the ice machine. I'm going to call my mom and let her know that we're okay," said Justin, jumping out of bed. "I should have called her last night, but I forgot."
"Put your pants on first," Brian reminded him. "We don't want to get thrown out of this dump."
"Don't worry," said Justin, pulling on his khaki shorts and a tee shirt. "I'll bring back a bucket of ice, too."
"See if you can find me some coffee while you're at it," Brian said. "Black with plenty of sugar."
"I know how you like it," Justin replied, grinning. He pocketed some change and headed for the door.
"Oh," Brian added. "And when you call your mother don't forget to reverse the charges! Let Ron pay for the call. He can afford it."
While Justin was gone, Brian cleaned up the room a bit, picking up their clothes from where they'd been dropped on the floor and stashing the lube back in his suitcase. He didn't want the maids finding anything suspicious on the nightstand. After spending a decade in prison, Brian was a cautious man. Being on the outside brought out all of his paranoia and protective instincts, especially where Justin was concerned.
After about a half hour, Justin returned with the coffee, two Danish pastries, a large bucket of ice, and some cans of Coke. Brian was drying off from the shower.
"Hand me my jeans," he asked as Justin sat on the bed and opened the newspaper.
Justin tossed him the jeans. "Aren't you going swimming? Put on your new bathing suit." Justin had bought Brian bathing trunks for the trip at the same time he had bought his own.
Brian winced. "I don't think so." His hand went unconsciously to the scar that ran red and jagged down his left side.
"No one is going to look at that, Brian," Justin insisted. "They won't even notice it. Besides, we'll probably be the only ones at the pool."
"I don't feel like swimming." Brian turned away. "I'll just watch you."
A short time later they walked out to the pool area. It wasn't exactly opulent -- a cement hole surrounded by a few plastic folding chairs -- but the day was getting hot and the water looked cool and inviting. Two small children splashed in the shallow end under the watchful eye of their mother and a teenaged girl in a pink two-piece was sunning herself on large beach towel next to the edge of the pool.
While Brian found a chair, Justin pulled off his tee shirt and shorts, revealing his new blue bathing suit underneath. He'd gotten it at a shop on Liberty Avenue and it was a bit skimpy, but Justin didn't care. He was planning to enjoy this vacation and he knew that he looked good in the swimsuit. And that Brian thought he looked good in it, too. That's all that mattered.
He dove into the pool and let the cold water envelop him. It felt wonderful on his warm skin.
"Brian! Come in with me!" Justin called.
"I'm reading the paper." Brian had pulled his chair into the shade and was looking over front page news. Justin had brought him a copy of 'The Washington Post.' They weren't that far from D.C. here in Virginia and it was better than the local rag.
"You don't know what you're missing!" Justin paddled back and forth in the water.
Justin noticed that the girl on the towel was staring at him with open interest. Justin immediately blushed. He wasn't interested in girls but they still had the power to embarrass him. The girl slipped into the water and began swimming next to him.
"Hey," she said. She had a slight Southern accent and large brown eyes. "I'm Mary Jo."
"Hi," said Justin. He stopped and pushed the wet hair out of his face. "I'm Justin."
"I got a cousin named Justin," she replied flirtatiously. "But he's not as cute as you!"
"Oh," said Justin. He had no idea what to say to this girl.
"You staying at the motel?" Mary Jo asked.
"Yeah, we stayed here last night and we're leaving tomorrow. We're going to Florida." Justin glanced over at Brian, who was deeply into his newspaper.
"What's that on your arm?" said Mary Jo. She reached out and touched Justin's right shoulder with her finger. Justin shivered.
"Oh, this?" Justin swallowed. "It's a tattoo."
"A tattoo!" she exclaimed. "I don't know anybody with a tattoo except my old Uncle Micah and he got his in the Navy! Lemme see it!"
"It's nothing," said Justin, suddenly very shy. He dove under the water and began to swim away.
But the girl laughed and followed him, thinking Justin was playing with her. The two of them flashed through the water, bobbing up at one end and then swimming to the other.
Finally, Justin pulled himself out of the pool, shaking the water out of his hair and from where it was puddled in the seat of his blue bathing suit.
"Your tattoo -- it's a heart!" said Mary Jo, drying herself off with her beach towel. "It's pretty. What's it say?"
"Brian," said Justin. "That's what it says."
"Brian?" the girl frowned. "That's a funny thing to have on a tattoo! Who's Brian?"
Justin started and looked over to where Brian was sitting in the shade, squinting at him.
"I'll be right over!" Justin called back. "Brian." Then he glanced at the girl, who was gazing at him with a puzzled expression. Justin dashed back to where Brian was sitting.
"Look at your shoulders!" Brian complained, grabbing a bath towel and rubbing Justin with it briskly. "What the hell were you thinking? You're all red! Where's that sunscreen you were supposed to put on?"
"I forgot," said Justin, closing his eyes. Brian's hands rubbing him all over was getting him excited. "It's in the room."
"Go back and get it," Brian ordered. "Or else you're going to be up all night with a horrible sunburn and I'll have to listen to your moaning."
"Come with me," Justin whispered. "You can put the sunscreen on me. I can't reach all the places."
Brian smirked at his lover. "Then we'll never get back to the pool and you won't need any sunscreen! Besides," he added. "Your new girlfriend will miss you."
"We'll get back out here later this afternoon," said Justin. "Because I want to swim with YOU, Brian! Not with any girl!" Justin pointed to his tattoo. "You."
And then he grinned at Brian and put his arms around him. And he didn't care who was watching.
That night they went back to dinner at the Howard Johnson's they had eaten at the day before. But Brian noticed that Justin wasn't digging into his Jumbo Shrimp Platter with his usual gusto.
"You all right?" he asked, finishing up his Hot Roast Beef Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes and Homestyle Gravy. He also took a sip of his Coke. Or whatever it was. Not quite real Coke. Some swill called Ho Jo Cola. Brian made a face and set it back down. "Tired?"
"I'm okay," said Justin. He dipped a fat, breaded shrimp into the red cocktail sauce and bit off the end, chewing slowly. "Maybe a little tired."
"Your face looks kind of red." Brian had noticed that Justin's skin was looking more than a bit flushed that afternoon. When they went back to the pool later he'd made certain that Justin had plenty of sunscreen on him before they went into the water. However....
"It's okay," snapped Justin. "I said it was."
They left Howard Johnson's without Justin ordering any ice cream for dessert. That's how Brian knew that something was really wrong.
"Let me see it," he said when they got back in the motel room.
"See what?" asked Justin, wincing.
"Take off your shirt," Brian ordered. "Let me see your back."
Justin hesitated, but he knew that he couldn't hide anything from Brian. He'd have to undress and get into bed. Besides, it hurt. It really, really hurt. He gingerly pulled his tee shirt off over his head. It felt like his skin was on fire.
"Jesus," said Brian, bending over to inspect Justin's inflamed back and shoulders. "That's a hell of a burn."
"I know," whispered Justin. "I forgot the sunscreen and now I'm paying for it. So kill me, okay?"
"No," said Brian. "You've already done a good job at killing yourself." He touched Justin's skin gently. It felt hot and Justin shuddered. "How bad does it hurt?"
"Throbs," Justin breathed. Even Brian's light touch was excruciating.
"Get on the bed -- on your stomach," said Brian.
While Justin did as he was told, Brian went into the bathroom and held a washrag under cold water. Then he went back out and lay the cool cloth on Justin's back. "How does that feel?"
"Better," Justin admitted, but his eyes stung with tears. "What am I going to do, Brian? It fucking hurts!"
"I'll see what I can do." Brian reached for the key to the T-bird. "I'll be right back."
Brian drove down the road in the direction of the Howard Johnson's. Across the street from it was a small strip of shops, including a drugstore. Brian was relieved to see that it was still open.
"What do you have for a bad sunburn?" he asked the woman behind the counter.
"Oh!" exclaimed the woman. "A sunburn? Not for you, darling!" She was admiring Brian's smooth, golden skin, which was gleaming against the stark white of his sleeveless tee shirt.
"No, for my friend. It's mainly on his back and shoulders. But it's really red and nasty-looking."
The woman bustled out from behind the counter and down an aisle. "This is what we sell for sunburn," she said, handing him a spray can of Solarcaine. "Numbs the pain, so they say."
Brian took the can in his hand and read the label. "Thanks. But isn't there anything else I can do?"
"Maybe." The woman went down another aisle. "Aspirin. That should help the pain. And one other thing." She headed for the back of the store where some grocery items were stocked. "This."
Brian took the small brown box. "Baking soda? What do I do with this stuff?"
"Pour it into a cool bath and have your friend soak in it," she explained. "Baking soda is good for just about everything! It's a little sticky, but it'll take away the sting. You just try it, darling, and see. He'll feel right as rain in no time!"
"I appreciate your help, ma'am," said Brian.
"Why no trouble at all, darling," she said as she rang up the purchases.
"Can I get a couple of those Kit Kat bars?" said Brian, noticing the candy on a rack next to the cash register. She smiled and added them to the bag.
When Brian got back to the room Justin was lying on the bed listlessly. The television was on, but the sound was turned down low.
"I've got something for you," said Brian, striding into the bathroom. He began running cool water into the tub. Justin followed and watched Brian take the box of baking soda out of the paper sack and pour the contents into the flow of water, stirring it with his hand. "The lady at the drugstore said this would help. Take off your shorts and get in."
Justin was dubious, but his back and shoulder were throbbing painfully. He dropped his shorts onto the floor and climbed into the tub. The cool water felt like a shock to his raw skin and the baking soda was gritty and unpleasant as he sat down. But then it began to feel better. The water lapped at his shoulders as he eased himself deeper into the tub. The sharpness of the burn began to fade slowly but surely.
"Take these, too," said Brian, handing him two aspirins and a cup of water.
"Thanks," said Justin. He swallowed the tablets and washed them down. "It feels better. It really does."
"Stay in there as long as you can," Brian urged. "Let me know when you start to shrivel up!"
Justin lay in the tub for as long as he was able. But eventually he began to shiver and he could see his fingers puckering at the ends. He stood carefully and reached for a bath towel. Brian heard the splashing and was there in an instant, pulling him out onto the bath mat.
The burn still looked bright red, but it felt cooler to the touch. Justin stood miserably as Brian gently patted him dry with the rough towel. His cock and balls had retracted high up against his body as if in protest of the cold water they'd been subjected to. Brian rubbed them vigorously, warming them and bringing them back to life. Then he hustled Justin into the bed, on his stomach, and sprayed the sunburn with the Solarcaine.
"Shit!" Justin panted as the spray hit his tender skin. "That hurts worse than the burn!"
"Give it a minute to work," said Brian. "It says that it numbs the pain." Brian stripped off his jeans and tee shirt and lay down beside Justin. "Can you sleep without the sheet over us tonight?"
"Sure," said Justin, shutting his eyes. He felt like a jerk for getting himself into this mess at the start of their trip. But it felt good to have Brian taking care of him. "Thanks for doing all of this. I know you think I'm stupid for forgetting the sunscreen. But it's been a long time since I've been swimming. I... I just wasn't thinking."
"Don't worry about it," said Brian, clicking off the television. There was never anything on but commercials -- loud, obnoxious commercials. Who could stand to watch that crap? "Remember how you took care of me when I was in the Hospital Ward at Stanton? I'm only returning the favor."
"Yeah, remember how I'd climb into bed next to you? And Dr. Caputo would pretend that he didn't see me?"
"That was a pretty small bed," said Brian, unwrapping one of the Kit Kats. He popped half into his own mouth and the other into Justin's, which opened eagerly like a baby bird's. "A pretty tight fit. But now we have real beds. And we don't have to hide from anyone, anymore. Right?"
Justin nodded, crunching the Kit Kat. The chocolate tasted good. Smooth. Sweet. "Right. I guess no 'Magic Fingers' tonight?"
"Not unless you really want to kill yourself." Brian stroked Justin's hair. "Climb on top of me -- carefully. That should be okay."
Justin moved over onto Brian's chest, settling his hips against Brian's. The sunburn still hurt, but it felt good to have his skin touching Brian's skin. Usually Brian felt hot, while Justin was cool, but now it was reversed. But that didn't matter. They still fit perfectly.
And that's how they fell asleep, as the old air conditioner whirred in the window. Sleeping together -- perfectly.
Posted June 23, 2006.