Mayfield Magic

Chapter 18-The Bonds of Friendship

<Mayfield Middle School baseball field>
Nolan had already taken part in a Goat practice and was not surprised by the efficiency and organization of the practice. Cal, on the other hand, was surprised. Bucks practice consisted mostly of Coach Ramirez hitting fungos and setting up situations and he or one of the high school players throwing batting practice. It’s not that the coach didn’t do a lot of teaching, because he and his assistant did, but they didn’t do a lot of different kinds of drills like the Yard Goat coaches did.
This wasn’t his first time on the Mayfield baseball field since he had played on it more than once. But it was his first time as a member of the Mayfield team, causing him to look at the layout in a different way. He was impressed by the condition of the field; they were always tossing rocks off the middle school infield at Clark Pass. Plus, the Mayfield Middle School building was almost new. Cal knew that the high school was even newer and that the high school baseball field was the best one in the Seamount League, with a real grandstand instead of just metal bleachers. The high school in Clark Pass was almost as old as the middle school, which was ancient. He’d heard talk about replacing the middle school and high school with a new building that would have the middle school and high school together; in other words, grades six through twelve in one building. Cal didn’t like that idea at all. From what he’d seen since becoming a Goat, he was beginning to wish that his family could find an excuse to move to Mayfield.
Cal was surprised when Coach Eric asked him, Skip, Nolan, Aiden, Trent, Mac, and Scott to go with him to the softball field. “We’re going to have some PFP and go over our cutoff plays, when and where to back up plays, and how we want you to cover first on a ball hit to the right side of the infield,” Eric told Cal, Skip, and Nolan. “The pitchers I picked to help out are our most experienced pitchers. I’ll do some drill work with the other pitchers after we do our work. Any questions?”
Skip raised his hand. “Um…I don’t mean to ask a dumb question, but what is PFP?” he asked hesitantly.
“PFP stands for Pitchers’ Fielding Practice,” Eric answered.
“Oh, well, I guess I should have guessed it.”
“Skip, don’t ever hesitate to ask a question. As far as the Goat coaches are concerned the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask and should have asked.”
“Thanks,” Skip said. ‘I’m sure learning a lot already,’ he thought.
Cal was impressed as well. ‘No wonder they win a lot of games here and don’t make a lot of dumb mistakes in their games, except for that one game against his Clark Pass Eagles when they had that bad inning.’
Cal and Skip went through drills where they learned the proper way to approach first base when they had to cover it to take a throw, run to the baseline and follow it to the base, instead of running directly to the base like Cal had been taught. Skip couldn’t remember his coach doing much more than talk about pitchers covering first.
Eric then put them through some drills until they got the idea. The three new pitchers could see that the veterans knew exactly what to do and how to do it. Eric then went over cutoff plays, which essentially meant backing up the cutoff throw. After Eric finished, they returned to the baseball field where Coach Hallion and Kevin were getting the remaining players set up for relay and cutoff drills.
That was how the practice went: work on fundamentals, fast moving drills, and the coaches watching everything carefully, quickly making suggestions as needed. The coaches were aware that they only had two practices to prepare the team for the BaseBrawl—this one and one Tuesday at the San Marcos complex, where the tournament would be played.
None of the coaches expected to accomplish a lot in the second practice. They knew the players would be way too hyped up to listen to very much instruction. The practice would consist mostly of the coaches hitting fungos for fielding practice and throwing some batting practice.
They felt they had accomplished as much as they could in the Mayfield practice. The players had been attentive and worked hard. Even Max kept his mouth shut and hustled. They finished the practice with a half-hour controlled scrimmage in which they set up situations by putting runners on base and hitting fungos to the infield which, for the most part, made the fielders and baserunners react to a game situation.
When the scrimmage ended, Coach Hallion called the team together, praising them for their hustle, concentration, and great attitude.
“We have a couple of things left to do before you take off for home or wherever it is you are going. First is finalizing the room assignments, second is giving our three new players their uniform shirts and caps, the third is giving you the details of our departure on Tuesday. Mrs. Hallion, with the help of Trent and Mac, has made up a check list of items you need to be sure to pack. I will distribute the list to each of you before I dismiss you.
“As I said in my email, you will be making your roommate choices, unless you can’t, in which case the coaches will step in. I’m going to turn the meeting over to your captains, Trent, and Scott. Once you have everything decided then call me and the coaches back unless, of course, there are decisions you need help making.” Coach Hallion, Larry, Eric, and Kevin left the field for a shady spot next to the school.
“So, let’s head over to the home plate bleacher section for the roommate selection process,” Trent suggested.
Rusty approached Aiden on their way to the bleachers. “Everybody but one player called me, yesterday. Even Skip called me—he said he got my number from Emmett. That was really pretty cool.” Aiden knew who the one player was because he was the only player who hadn’t written at least his signature on Rusty’s cast. What had been a pristine white was now covered with multicolored signatures and get well wishes. “I bet you can guess who didn’t call me or even talk to me today,” Rusty said somewhat sadly.
Aiden and Rusty stopped before they started into the bleachers. “I would guess Max.”
Rusty nodded. “I thought he was my friend. I don’t know what I did wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. He’s showing you what kind of friend he was. But you never know, maybe it can be fixed. And no matter what, you’re a good dude and I think you learned you’ve got sixteen friends on the Yard Goats.”
Rusty grinned and they stepped into the bleachers.
Trent and Scott had agreed earlier that Trent would run the meeting since he was the more outgoing of the two. “Okay, guys, listen up.” Trent said assertively. The players who had been wandering aimlessly and chatting stopped at the sound of Trent’s voice and gave him their full attention. “Sit your asses in the first couple of rows and we’ll get this done in no time.
“First thing we’re going to do is find out who the pairs are who’ve already been picked, which is just about everybody. Scott will write them down and then we’ll get to picking the third roomies.” Scott had a clipboard and a pencil that Larry had given him. “First pair shouldn’t surprise anybody since it’s Mac and me. Next pair is a no brainer since it’s Aiden and Nolan.”
“Nolan?” Aiden cried in mock horror. “Why do I get stuck having one of the new guys as my roomie?”
“Because you know you love getting the tough assignments,” Nolan grinned.
“Okay, I guess I’ll live with it.” Aiden rose from his bleacher seat and moved past a couple of players to where Nolan was sitting. He had sat away from Nolan because he wanted to give his boyfriend a hard time. After sitting next to him, Aiden grabbed Nolan’s hand and held it where everyone could see. “Hmm, this tough assignment might not be so bad,” he grinned.
Trent started up again. “Scott told me he was rooming with Rusty.” Scott pointed at the clipboard, indicating that he had already written the pairing down. “I keep forgetting which guy goes with which twin. I think Lenny and Riley are best buds and so are Lance and Grant.”
“Good job, Trent,” Lenny grinned.
“And that leaves Gordy and Miles who have been best friends for, like, forever. Now let’s see who knows who the third roomie is. I’ll start by saying Mac and I will be rooming with Muddy.”
“Of course, you will since you want to see his big dick,” Mason called out, causing Muddy to grope himself through his practice pants. He had removed his cup when practice ended.
“I plead the fifth, whatever that means,” Muddy said as his fingers worked for few seconds along his what everyone agreed was the biggest cock on the team.
“Miles and I have already agreed on Calvin rooming with us,” Gordy said.
“And since Mason is so into dicks, Nolan and I got Mason to room with us since we know he’ll like what we have and we’ll like what he has,” Aiden said.
“Ooooh, Aiden, that sounds soooooooooo gay,” Mac said.
“Yep. It sounds all gay because it is all gay.”
“Then, hooray for the gay Goats.”
“I’ve already written Emmett down as the roomie for Rusty and me,” Scott said.
“Skip is with me and Lance,” Grant said.
“And that leaves Max with Lenny and Riley,” Trent pointed out. He didn’t ask what he had been thinking and that was if Lenny and Riley weren’t okay with the arrangement. ‘It is what it is and will work out as long as Max keeps his mouth shut and behaves,’ Trent thought. He noticed the twins having a quiet chat with each other.
“Me and Grant don’t mind rooming with Max,” Lance told Lenny. “Riley has had to deal with enough asswaffles this year, so he doesn’t need to go to California and live with one.”
“For real? Grant’s okay with this?” Lenny asked.
“You can ask him. He brought it up. He was like, Riley’s our friend and we gotta be there for him.”
“Let’s do it then.”
Lance faced Trent and the team. “Me and Grant want Max to room with us,” he said.
Trent liked how Lance said they wanted Max. He had been watching Max who was sitting away from his teammates sulking. Trent secretly wished Max would stay home, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen. He was happy that Max wouldn’t room with Riley. It’s not that Max was a bully or had said or done anything mean to Riley. Other than his complaining, Max never said much to anybody. His thing was doing his own thing and ignoring his teammates except for Rusty—and now Rusty seemed to be on his bad side, too.
Trent nodded and announced that Lance and Grant would room with Max and Lenny and Riley would room with Skip. Max sat with his arms folded, a look on his face saying he didn’t give a shit who he roomed with because he didn’t like anybody anyway. Despite his antisocial outlook and his lackluster hustle in practice, the players had to respect Max for how hard he played during a game. He was a great fielding first baseman and a lights out closer with a smoking fastball and a vicious changeup. Two pitches weren’t enough to allow him to start—but he thrived on the two pitches he’d mastered, which was enough for an inning or two of relief pitching.
Scott waved for the coaches to return to the field. The four hustled over and Coach Hallion went into the logistics of the team’s Tuesday departure. “Mrs. Hallion is going to give you all a copy of the packing check list to ensure you bring all the necessary items you need,” Coach Hallion told them after giving his standard talk about eating properly and getting plenty of sleep. “Our tournament committee has chartered a bus to take us to the Portland airport. It is a luxury charter bus and is equipped with a rest room. The bus will leave the middle school bus loading area promptly at six forty-five. I expect you to be at the school at six-thirty to give us time to pack your luggage and the team gear.” The time elicited a chorus of groans. “Be there on time or be left behind.”
“In other words, snooze you lose, guys,” Mac chimed in which generated a round of laughter. 
“When we get to the airport terminal at Orange County, we’ll meet in the gate’s waiting area and then proceed together to the baggage claim area. After claiming our bags, Mrs. Edmonds will be picking us up with a minibus the committee rented.”
“Will it be a yellow bus?” Miles asked, bringing more laughter. 
“We should get to the Carlsbad Resort around one,” Coach Hallion said after the laughter died down, “where we will check in, grab some lunch, and then head to the San Marco complex for an hour-and-a-half-practice. That will be our only practice of the tournament, so be ready to make it a great one.” The team knew that wasn’t the last time they would hear Coach Hallion advise them to have a great practice. “Any questions?”
Coach Hallion answered a couple of questions and then dismissed the team. Before everybody could get out of their seats to leave, Aiden stood up and yelled out, “Hey everybody, remember that all you Goats are invited to my team party. Hamburgers and hot dogs and whatever my dad cooks up will be served for lunch.”
A cheer rose from the Goats which Trent quickly quieted down. “Let’s finish the great practice with our Goat call,” he told the team. The players rose from their seats and watched Trent. “How do wplay and practice?” he shouted out.
“We play hard, we play smart, and we play to win!” the Yard Goats chimed together.
“And above all?”
“Remember to HAVE FUN!” all the players except Skip and Cal shouted out. Aiden had gone over the Goat call with Nolan long before. Skip and Cal were determined to be part of the action the next time the team called it out, which would most likely be in California.
Aiden made it a point to get close to Max as the team clambered out of the bleachers.
“Aren’t you and Rusty friends anymore?” Aiden asked as they entered the third base dugout to collect their gear.
“What makes you think we’re not?” Max replied grumpily.
“You never called him after he got hurt, so I was just wondering.”
“How about your minding your own business. I don’t need some whimpy ass eighth grade midget telling me who my friends are.” Max picked up his gym bag and stomped out of the dugout.
“Well, that went well,” Nolan said.
“At least I know where he stands,” Aiden responded with a shrug. “Anyway, let’s get our stuff and tell my pop we’re ready to go home to eat and to party.”
Nolan pointed to Larry standing at the end of the chain link fence near the outfield end of the dugout. “It looks to me like he’s totally ready to go.”
“Where’s Cal?”
“Over by home plate.”
Aiden turned and saw Cal chatting amicably with Gordy and Miles. “Hey, Cal, we’re ready to head out,” Aiden shouted at him.
Cal waved to his two new teammates. “I’m coming,” he said as he hustled over to the dugout. “I was just getting to know my two roomies,” Cal told Aiden as he grabbed his bag and his bat.
“They’ll be at the team party.”
“Hey, it’s never too early to start making friends with your teammates,” the long-haired blond grinned. Aiden found Cal’s sunny attitude to be especially refreshing after having dealt with Max.
Nobody but Trent had noticed Mac’s quick chat with Max by the first base dugout after the meeting ended. Trent knew what Mac was going to say to Max and wondered how Max would react. He was pleased when he saw Mac slip behind the dugout and wait for Max to join him. The field was cleared of almost all the players with only Trent, Mason, and Muddy remaining. Mason and Muddy bid Trent good-bye and walked off the field. Trent took a seat in the dugout. He had a pretty good idea of what Mac was going to say to Max.
"Okay, I'm here and I waited for you only because I got a lot of respect for you and I don’t think you’re trying to fuck with me,” Max said.
“Like I told you, all I want to do is see where you’re coming from,” Mac responded.
“I’m just trying to play some baseball and have some fun going on a trip. So, I don’t see what there is to talk about.”
“I just wanted to say that one of the reasons the Goats won the league championship is because we’re like a family. Everybody works to get along.”
“And what the fuck does that have to do with me?” Before Mac could answer, Max continued. “If that has to do with Rusty, then fuck you. Maybe you’re not as cool as I thought.”
“I just wondered why you’ve ignored him since he got hurt.”
“That’s none of your fucking business. I’m not treating him bad or anything. What the fuck difference does it make if I sign his stupid cast or not?”
“All I want to do is say that we’re going to be a long way from home for a few days and if we’re a family, then we need to make sure we’re all together as one.”
“I think we’re a team and fuck the family stuff,” Max growled. “Everybody’s been saying, ‘Together, Everyone Achieves More.’. I don’t hear nothin’ about no family. I’ll be playing my best every game. I won’t screw my team over, okay? But if you want to use this ‘we’re a family’ shit then just remember that sometimes brothers just don’t get along. So, next time you ask me to wait so you can talk to me, I think I can find something better to do.”
Max turned and started to walk away and then stopped and turned to face Mac again. “And I’m not gonna go kiss Rusty’s ass just because everybody else has. It’s not my fault he broke his arm.”
“Nobody says you have to do anything with Rusty,” Mac responded. “I was just saying that the two of you had been friends and I was wondering about you not saying anything.”
“So, you’re not mad about it?”
“Nothing for me to be mad about. Disappointed, maybe, but not mad. I mean it’s between you and Rusty.”
That wasn’t the answer Max expected to hear. He had asked the question hoping to make Mac mad at him, and instead all he got was Mac telling him it was no biggie to him.
Before Max could turn and walk away again, Mac asked him a surprise question. “Are you coming to Aiden’s team party?”
“Nobody invited me,” Max grunted. “And I ain’t going to some family thing anyway.”
“It sounded to me like Aiden invited everybody to a TEAM party.”
“Whatever.” This time Max turned and walked away without saying anything else.
Mac saw Trent walking toward him across the infield. “Did you hear any of it?” Mac asked.
“Nope. But Max didn’t look happy when he walked off, so I guess it didn’t go good.”
“You got that right. But maybe I gave him something to think about. Thanks for the idea about me talking to him.”
“I figured he was more likely to listen to you than to me. You’ve got a lot of respect from the players on this team.”
Jackson came over from behind the bleachers. “I’m your ride home,” he announced. “And before Mac says anything about my not being eighteen and can’t drive him, I can drive Trent because he’s my brother and nothing says I can’t drive his boyfriend for a mile, too.”
“Maybe not, but something does say that you are totally whacked,” Trent said. Trent and Mac grabbed their equipment and followed Jackson to his car.
<Aiden’s House>
On the short ride from the middle school to Aiden’s house a lot was said about what was done in practice and about having a bus take them from Mayfield to the airport. Nolan, Cal, and Skip were riding with Aiden in the Odyssey as Larry drove them to the Miller residence.
“That practice just moved,” Cal exulted. “There was hardly any standing around. And that made it lots of fun. I like how your Goat call ends with ‘Have Fun’. That’s why we play, right?”
“Don’t forget, there is the ‘Play to win’ part to that, too,” Aiden said.
“As for making practice move, it helps having three assistant coaches,” Larry pointed out.
“And I bet Coach Hallion and two of the assistant coaches all learned how to run a practice like that from the third assistant, right pop?” Aiden asked.
“All three are good coaches who know the game, work hard, and know how to communicate with middle school kids, which isn’t the easiest task in the world,” Larry responded noncommittedly.
“Hey, when you adults know what you’re doing we’ll follow you anywhere,” Aiden said.
“Thanks for the compliment…I think,” Larry chuckled as he turned into the driveway.
“I gotta say this about practice—Cal looked like he was having a lot of fun,” Nolan said.
“That’s because I was having a lot of fun,” Cal grinned.
Larry pulled into the garage and shut off the engine. The boys hustled into the house, shouted hello to Phil, who was on the deck with Sammy. Phil was working on the barbecue while Sammy was taking care of the side dishes. Aiden was surprised to see Sammy helping Phil. Sammy played on the Lake Monsters, the Mayfield 16 and under team. The team was coached by Wes Harding, who was 40 and a branch manager at a bank in Centralia. He grew up in Mayfield, played youth, middle school, and high school ball there and college ball at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. He owned a house in his hometown.  
“What are you doing here?” Aiden asked Sammy.
“I was about to ask you the same question,” Sammy grinned.
“Last I looked, I live here.”
“Well then, it’s good to know that you’re not homeless. I was kinda worried about that.”
“You’re totally whacked.”
“Tell me something I don’t know. Like the names of the strangers out here on the deck with you,” Sammy said.
“Well, you’ve met Nolan, but in case an old man like you can’t remember shit any more, I’ll introduce you again. That big, really hot looking stud with the black hair is my boyfriend, Nolan. Nolan, that big dork doing something to the potato salad is my you-know-what, Sammy.” Aiden didn’t want to say that Sammy was his AA sponsor to avoid having to answer questions from Cal and Skip. “And the cute dude with the long, blond hair is Calvin from Clark Pass. But he likes to be called Cal. He and Nolan are our two pickup pitchers for the Cali BaseBrawl.”
“Hey, Cal, welcome to Mayfield and the Yard Goats.” Sammy and Cal traded fist bumps. “And I already know that the little dude is Skip, who is the big stud pitcher, catcher, and who knows what else on the Mayfield Explorers.” Sammy and Skip traded high fives. “And I bet Skip wishes he was older and going to play in California with you guys.”
“I am going to California with them,” Skip grinned.
“Say what?”
“I didn’t get time to tell you that Skip is replacing Rusty on the Goats’ roster.” Phil had just told Sammy about Rusty getting hurt when the boys came out on the deck.
“Well, then congratulations Skip. I know you’re going to help the Goats kick some serious ass down there.”
“You never answered my question about what you’re doing here,” Aiden reminded Sammy.
“You’re right, I didn’t. I’m helping make the potato salad,” Sammy responded.
“Be serious.”
“When am I not serious?”
“Try right now.”
Nolan was enjoying the byplay between Aiden and Sammy. He couldn’t help but wonder what the two were like when they got into serious discussions with each other. Cal was also enjoying it. The friendly dissing between the two was right up his alley. Skip wondered how the two got to know each other so well they could say the things they were saying to each other.
“Okay, seriously, I came to chat with you after your practice. But when I get here Phil is busy getting a big lunch ready for a big party you’re having, and I volunteered to help so I could earn brownie points from Coach Sanders. They won’t be doing me much good with Coach Miller since I won’t be playing for him anymore. But I’ll take every point I can get from the varsity coach. Plus, I could also get a chance to gawk at the studly baseball players in the swimming pool.”
“That sounds like you,” Aiden nodded.
“I’m bi,” Sammy announced. He looked down at Skip. “That means that I…”
Skip cut him off. “I know what it means and I’m gay.”
“Damn, they come younger all the time.”
“I’m pretty much straight,” Cal said, answering Sammy’s unasked question. “But I gotta say these Goats are making me wonder if I might be a little bit on the bi side.”
“Aiden is my boyfriend and Sweet Cakes,” Nolan said as if that explained everything, which it did.
“And, yesterday was your birthday, right old man?” Aiden asked Sammy.
“Yes, it was,” Sammy replied. “Sweet sixteen and been kissed TONS of times.”
“Sixteen,” Aiden harrumphed. “You see why I call him an old man?”
The chat was interrupted by the door chimes playing Beethoven’s Fifth.
“Dang. I was hoping we’d all be naked when the first guys got here.”
Skip pulled off his gym shorts and briefs followed by his t-shirt, standing naked except for his socks and shoes. Four sets of eyebrows were raised as the youngest boy in the group jumped right into naturist mode without hesitation. “Now one of us is ready,” Skip grinned. Aiden, who knew Skip the best, was being continually surprised by the curly-haired strawberry blond eleven-year-old.
Beethoven sounded again as Aiden hustled for the front door, which Larry was answering. Aiden stopped and watched Lenny, Lance, Grant, and Riley enter the house.
“What’s this? Aiden is still dressed?” Lenny asked.
“But I’m not,” Skip, who was now totally naked, said as he entered the foyer.  
“Wow, you rock, Skipper,” Lenny grinned. “The newbie is a Goat for sure.”
The herd made its way down the stairs to the basement and all eight of them were stripped down in less than a minute. Everyone headed out to the pool except Aiden and Nolan who stayed back so they could welcome the next partiers. They were Gordy, Miles, and Mason about five minutes later. The three headed downstairs, but Aiden and Nolan remained upstairs to see if Sammy, Phil, and Larry needed help getting the side dishes down to the patio from the deck.
“We’re doing fine,” Larry said. “You boys go down and enjoy your party. The California sendoff party needs your presence—we’ll take care of the food.”
Aiden and Nolan were about to start down the stairs to the patio when the doorbell chimed Beethoven and they went to the door where Emmett and Rusty were waiting to get in. Aiden thought they were a strange pair to arrive together until he remembered that Emmett and Rusty lived a few houses from each other. Since Aiden was naked, he stayed away from the door, until he could see Rusty’s mom backing out onto Lakeshore Drive.
“I’m glad your mom let you come,” Aiden told Rusty.
“Me too,” Rusty said. “I gotta stay away from the water, but that won’t keep me from getting naked…well, except for my cast anyway.”
Aiden had just closed the door when he heard a car pull into the driveway. He opened the door partway and was pleased to see Muddy getting out of the passenger side. Muddy rarely attended parties which could only mean he was as excited about getting ready for the BaseBrawl as his teammates. Aiden watched him open the back hatch and take his bicycle out of the car.
“Hey, Muddy, good to see you,” Aiden said as his big teammate came up to the door.
“You answered the door before I even got here,” Muddy said. 
“I saw you coming. Who’s that driving the car?”
“That’s my cousin, Maxine. She’s eighteen and yes, I did the sex with her after practice so she would drive me here. We did it in my room.”
“It looks like you only got a one-way trip,” Nolan noted.
“No time to pay to be picked up. I want to come to the party, and I am here.”
“So, you have to pay in advance?”
“For this ride, yes.”
“Here comes the last group,” Aiden said. “I know you know the way downstairs. I’ll see you there.”
“Must I get naked?”
“Clothing optional means it’s totally up to you, Muddy.”
Muddy nodded and headed for the basement stairs as Trent, Scott, and Mac dismounted their bikes. They removed their helmets, attached them to the handlebars, and waved to the two boys standing naked at the front door of the house. Everyone on the team except Max had arrived.
By the time the group got down to the basement Gordy, Miles, and Mason had set up the folding tables and chairs. They knew the mealtime routine as well as anybody and insisted they be allowed to help. Larry and Sammy had set out the side dishes on one of the tables. The boys would have to climb the stairs up to the deck to get their hamburgers and/or hotdogs.
“Everybody’s here except Max,” Aiden said to Nolan as they took a seat at a table next to the pool.
“You didn’t really expect him, did you?” Nolan asked.
“No, but I guess a guy can hope.”
Aiden changed the subject when Cal, Gordy, and Miles squeezed into the table. “Wow, you put on some party,” Cal said. “Everybody naked, a swimming pool, a ton of good food, gallons of awesome lemonade, and a whole herd of goats. It don’t get much better than this.”
“Wait until you come to his big birthday party which is also our end of summer and get ready for school party,” Miles said.
“I’ll come if I’m invited.”
“Consider yourself invited,” Aiden said.
“For real?”
“Damn. I feel almost like a Mayfield dude.”
“An honorary Mayfield dude is as good as the real thing,” Nolan said. “Trust me, I’ve been one long enough to know.”
“And now you’re the real thing,” Gordy pointed out.
“Which is an epic occurrence for sure.”
“Is anybody spending the night?” Miles asked Aiden.
“Just little old me is all I know of,” Aiden replied. “Everybody’s rents wants them home the last couple of nights before we leave.”
“Nolan isn’t staying? He does live almost next door.”
“The way this weekend is going makes his new house feel like it’s in Meadow Park. But I might be spending the night with him tomorrow night.”
The boys sitting at the tables ate and chatted and cheered when Sammy and Phil brought down two plates of chocolate brownies. The cheering ended when they stuffed their teen and tween mouths with the freshly baked treats.
The afternoon saw the boys swimming, playing games, and a group of four pulling on their swimsuits, donning lifejackets, and heading out on the lake in the boat to do some waterskiing. The four, who had arranged the ride in advance with Larry and Phil, were Nolan, Cal, Trent, and Mac. Aiden stayed behind to play host. He told those who couldn’t go out that they’d get first call at his birthday party.
“Because of the practice and lunch and the ‘rents wanting most of you guys home for dinner there wasn’t much time for everybody, so it was first come first served,” Aiden said. “And, yeah, I’ll be going out on that day, too. So, bring your swimsuits because you’ll need them out on the lake.” Everybody knew Cal got to go out because he’d never had the chance to ride out on the lake. They were all eager to watch his first try at waterskiing. Larry was driving the boat and Sammy was the lookout.
“Hey, we could always entertain your neighbors along the lake with our sexy tushes,” Lenny chuckled. “Some of them have gotta see us naked when they look over here from the lake.”
“Probably, but nobody’s ever complained,” Aiden said. “But it’s a whole different story if you go boating past their house in the nude.”
“I’m horny,” Riley said. He had been slowly stroking his hairless three-inch tween cock during the chatter.
“You’re twelve; you’re supposed to be horny,” Miles giggled.
“I’ll be thirteen in California in a few days.”
Aiden was relieved to note that he would not be the only person in his group of friends to turn thirteen and still have no pubic hair. “We will have a lot of guys with birthdays down in Cali,” Aiden noted. “We have Riley on Friday, Max on Saturday, and Gordy on Monday.”
“Max? How did you know he has a birthday?” Lenny asked. “We hardly know the dude.”
“Rusty told me.”
Everybody looked over at Rusty, who was sitting with Muddy. Both of them were sporting hardons—Rusty with 4.5” inches worth and Muddy with a thick, almost seven inches of teen cock. “Hey, we used to be friends. We all got wasted at his birthday last year. He was thirteen then.”
“So, he turns fourteen in Cali, Gordy will be thirteen and so will Riley,” Aiden said.
“Damn, we’re getting old,” Grant, who had already turned thirteen, said.
“Hey, where’s Mason?” Miles asked.
“Right here,” Mason said from the pool. “I’m doing what you dorks should be doing and cooling off in the pool.”
“But you weren’t there just a while ago.”
“I snuck in a few minutes ago. I was in the back room talking to my mom on the phone and now I gotta talk to Aiden. Come on in the water and talk,” Mason said to Aiden.
Aiden jumped into the pool, paddled over to Mason’s right, and leaned against the side of pool. “What’s up?”
“I was talking to my mom in the back, that’s why I wasn’t out here. I asked her if I could spend the night and you know what’s she’s like—she can’t just say yes or no, she’s gotta make a production out of a decision,” Mason said.
“What did she say?”
“She said I could but I gotta be ready at ten tomorrow morning for her to pick me up for church. I know I didn’t ask you first, but I figured I’d see if I could stay first and then ask you. So, is it okay if I spend the night?”
“Absolutely. No way I could turn you down—we’re best buds.”
“One thing. I don’t care if we have sex or not, but I really need to talk to you about something.”
“I’m your friend and I’ll be ready to listen to whatever you want to talk about.” Aiden surmised that if Mason was putting talking over having sex it must be pretty fucking important. He couldn’t help but wonder why peeps wanted to talk to him about serious stuff. First it was Rusty and now Mason.
“I knew you’d say that,” Mason grinned.
Lance, Grant, Scott, and Emmett, entered the pool and were playing grab ass in the deep end. Aiden and Mason joined them for a while until Aiden got out of the pool when he heard a boat approaching and saw that it was their boat. It was towing a skier who they were certain wasn’t Cal. Judging by the speed of the boat and the ability of the skier they were sure it was an experienced skier and a closer look confirmed their feeling as Nolan skied confidently behind the boat.   
Meanwhile, in the backroom, Skip was learning the main use of the backroom and its old couch from Lenny and Riley who were making out. Muddy and Rusty hadn’t been to most of Aiden’s parties. They knew what the room was about but were happy to jerk off while watching the two boyfriends kissing and pawing each other. Skip’s hairless tween cock was steel hard. He was happy just lightly fondling himself while watching the action in the room.
While the fun was going on in the backroom, the boat slowed and Nolan settled into the water. Sammy and Trent helped him remove his skis and climb aboard the boat. The boat moved slowly to the dock which told Aiden the foray in the lake was over.
“Damn, are they done already?” Aiden asked Mason and Emmett, who had joined them. “Time sure does fly by fast.”
Aiden grabbed the shorts he had placed on one of the lounge chairs and pulled them on. He headed out on the dock to help secure the boat.
“That was so much fun,” Cal shouted out at him. “I can’t wait to do it again, only longer. I fell down a lot,” he giggled.
“He did pretty good his last time up, though,” Mac said.
“I got off the skis like normal,” Cal grinned.
In the backroom, the dynamics changed when Skip asked Riley if he could suck him. Riley broke his kiss, nodded, pointed to his cock, and then went back to kissing Lenny. Skip sucked Riley’s cock feeling like he was really a part of the team now. The young, hormone laden boys were all close to the inevitable climax. Riley came first, shooting his watery cum into Skip’s inexperienced mouth—a mouth that was good enough to make an eighth grader cum.
Lenny came as he watched the action between his boyfriend and the sixth grader. Rusty and Muddy, who had been jerking off furiously, shot their loads over themselves within seconds of each other.
Just as they shot their loads, they heard a knock at the door. At an Aiden party it was considered good form to knock on the door of the backroom if the room was occupied unless direct entry had been agreed on in advance. Lenny looked at everybody and pointed at the door. All but Skip knew what Lenny meant and gave their okay.
“I’m gonna tell whoever it is to come in,” Lenny told Skip, who nodded his okay. “Come on in,” Lenny called out.
Mac, Nolan, Emmett, Miles, and Mason entered the room. Skip blushed with embarrassment. He hadn’t expected such a big crowd, but quickly calmed down after reminding himself they were all his Goat teammates.
“Whoa, it looks and smells like you guys had a lot fun back here,” Mac said.
“We were all horny,” Lenny responded, knowing that was all he needed to say to explain everything.
“And now you’re not.”
“Yep, and now we’re not.”
“Muddy needs to clean up,” Muddy said as he slipped into his old habit of substituting first person for third person when he talked. He usually did it when he felt stressed.
“I’ll join you,” Rusty said and the two left the room.
Aiden entered the room, still wearing his shorts. “Your mom’s here, Riley,” he said. “She told me she was the ride for you, Grant, and the twins. So, I guess you’ve gotta all get dressed and get your asses going. Lance and Grant are already getting dressed.”
The backroom emptied out. The parade home had started. Trent, Mac, and Scott came into the room. Scott was dressed but Trent and Mac were still naked. “Hey, Aiden, can me and Trent ask you a favor?” Mac asked.
“Ask away,” Aiden said. “Like my pop says the worst that can happen is that I say no.”
Trent took over the request. “We were wondering if we could stay the night. We’ll sleep in the guest room and promise to put fresh linen on it tomorrow if you’ll leave some out.”
“I’m good with it. But what’s going on that you want to stay here?”
“Mac and I want a night of privacy before we go to Cali, where we’ll be sharing the room with Muddy,” Trent said. “Mac’s house doesn’t work too well for overnights with us having, you know, sex together. And at my house my ‘rents won’t be home until late because they’re going to a party in Centralia and Jackson wants to do it with Glenda and he wants privacy for himself. He asked me to ask you if we could stay.”
“Like I said, I’m good with it. And who’s Glenda?”
“Glenda Morton, who is Jackson’s new girlfriend and they’re getting into it really hot and heavy,” Trent smirked.
“And your parents don’t mind not seeing you before the trip?”
“You’ll never make a good detective thinking like that. My dad is the coach and I have a feeling he’s flying down with the team. And my mom is in charge of taking care of the restaurants, dealing with the hotel, theme parks, and whatever else like that comes up, so she’s flying down with us too.”
“Duh…you’re right, I wasn’t thinking at all.”
“And here I thought my boyfriend was so brilliant,” Nolan grinned.
“Just don’t tell my fan club,” Aiden said. “I don’t want him to lose faith in me. But that leaves one more question, why doesn’t Jackson just have her come over any time next week since he’ll be home alone?”
“Because he’s flying down with us, too. Mom made it a complete family affair,” Trent replied.
“That’s strike two,” Nolan said as he used his right index finger to make an imaginary mark in the air.
“Are your ‘’rents coming with us, Scott?” Aiden asked.
“Nope. My mom and dad are sending me off on my lonesome. But Ronnie and my aunt and uncle will be coming down to watch baseball,” Scott said.
“Cool. Ronnie is our cheerleader in chief.” The door chime played Beethoven’s Fifth. “I’m glad I stayed dressed,” Aiden said as he dashed out the door and up the basement stairs.
Aiden opened the door and met Cal’s mother. “Hello, Mrs. Loggins. Come in.”
“That’s an interesting doorbell you have,” Laura Loggins said as she entered the house.
“I don’t know exactly where Cal is, but I’ll go find him.” He pointed to the living room and invited Mrs. Loggins to take a seat.
Aiden found Cal where he thought he would, down on the dock where he was helping Larry and Phil tie down the boat. One thing he was learning about Cal was that he was eager to help anyone who needed help with something. The three were walking off the dock and he met them in the yard.
“Your mom’s here,” he told Cal.
“That means I’ve gotta, like, go home,” Cal said. He turned to Larry and Phil. “Thanks for the boat ride and the water skiing lessons. That was a rocking good time. I guess I’ll see you Tuesday at the airport unless you’re riding with us on the bus.”
“I will be on the bus. Coach Phil won’t be flying in until Thursday because he has a couple of playoff games to coach first,” Larry said.
“As you know with playoff games specific scheduling is up in the air,” Phil added. “We might not play on Wednesday. And if we do play and win, then I’ll have to cancel coming down for your tournament.”
“Dang, being a coach is hard work,” Cal said. “Now, I better get going before my mom has a cow about how slow I move and how she always has to wait for me. I’ll see ya Tuesday, Coach Sanders and I guess I kinda hope I don’t see you in Cali, Coach Miller.”
Aiden accompanied Cal into the basement where he grabbed his backpack and then upstairs where he met his mom. He and Aiden exchanged a quick hug and Cal was soon riding east on Lakeshore Drive.
Rusty’s mom drove up shortly after and picked up Rusty, Emmett, and Muddy. Rusty had called her earlier to see if Muddy could get a ride home with them and she readily agreed. She was happy to see Rusty being with somebody on the team other than Max, even if it was just to give the person a ride home.
Soon everybody except Mason, Trent, Mac, and Nolan had left. Nolan and Aiden disappeared out of sight to exchange a long, hard hug along with a deep, wet kiss. Nolan then put on his reflective vest to make his mother happy and left for the short trip home.
Dinner for the remaining boys was pizza. Larry phoned in the order and then Phil left to pick it up at The Bear.
By the time the pizza arrived the boys were all naked. Larry and Phil did what they could to stay out of their way, especially Trent and Mac who they knew weren’t used to hanging around naked in front of adults. They assured Larry and Phil that their presence didn’t bother them, but the adults knew from their experience as young adolescents that the dynamics took some getting used to.
The TV was turned on in time to catch the start of the Mariner game. They were playing the Pirates at home over the weekend. They would then embark on a road trip to play the Athletics, Angels, and Rangers. They would be playing the Angels on Friday when the tournament excursion to Angel Stadium was scheduled.
While a couple of erections came and went during the game, the boys were more into watching the game and talking baseball than they were into their peckers. Marty was a big topic of conversation since he had told Aiden he planned on coming to the San Marcos complex sometime Saturday morning. He asked that the visit not be made public knowing there was a good chance his presence would cause a disturbance if it was known in advance.  Even without advance notice there would be some kind of commotion; Marty was hoping to keep the hubbub to a minimum.
Aiden figured that telling some of his teammates about Marty’s planned visit was not the same as telling the public. To clinch the deal, he swore the four teammates to secrecy.
The Mariners won the game 6-3 and kept their two-game lead in first place in the American League West. Marty went hitless in four at bats, although he hit the ball hard twice. He also had one putout and two assists on the field.
Aiden shut off the TV and the boys said their goodnights to Larry and Phil. They went upstairs, cleaned up, and went to their respective bedrooms. There was no doubt among the four what Trent and Mac would be doing in the guest room. Trent and Mac were certain Aiden and Mason would be doing the same—after all, Aiden was a sexy horndog and Mason was, well, Mason.
But what Mason wanted more than sex at the moment was to talk. Aiden was a best friend, was somebody he totally trusted, and easy to talk to. Aiden was finding himself listening to his friends’ problems more and more. ‘Oh well, like my dads say, a good leader is a good listener and I want to be a team leader,” Aiden thought.
“So, what’s up with you?” Aiden asked as he snuggled up against his naked friend. He had placed Horace on his bed between the wall and himself to act as a calming factor.
“It’s about me and singing,” Mason replied. Aiden nodded and waited for Mason to say more. His pop had told him that a good listener will often just keep quiet during a pause and let the person he is listening to continue on his own.
“Do you think it’s stupid for me to dream about being, like, a star singer? You know, like a pop singer or maybe even in a Broadway musical, or something like that?”
Aiden thought about one of his favorite Broadway songs and grinned. “I don’t think it’s stupid. I mean, if you don’t reach for the unreachable star, no matter how far, you’re never going to get there.”
“That’s a Broadway song, isn’t it?”
Aiden nodded. “It’s from ‘The Man of La Mancha’.”
“Have you ever seen it?”
“No, but I want to, really bad. I’ve got the CD and you can borrow it if you want. What you want is no different from wanting to be a writer or a photographer.”
“But, I’m just a little boy from little old Mayfield. Who is ever going to notice me?”
“Somebody from little old Mayfield named Marty Carlson got noticed on the baseball field. And now he’s an All-Star, playing for the Seattle Mariners, and he might be the American League Rookie of the Year when the season ends.”
“I don’t know. Marty’s like, a really good baseball player and a big kid who’s like an good athlete and he got noticed by colleges first.”
“It doesn’t matter how you get noticed, you just need to get noticed, which means you gotta dream and then follow your dreams. Just dream that impossible dream and beat the unbeatable foe and the next thing you know you’ve reached the unreachable star.”
“Has anybody ever told you how awesome you are?” Mason asked Aiden. “Yeah, I want to borrow the CD and I’m gonna get the sheet music from online and teach myself that song so I can reach for the unreachable star when I get to California.”
“Now you’re talking. Now, what about that band you like so much?”
“You mean At the Majestic?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“Well, I’ve been sending stuff to them for a while. Some were me singing and playing the guitar and me and Freddie dancing to their music. And yeah, I heard back a couple of times, but nothing special. I know I’m not as good as them, but I just want to get noticed by them is all. I want to meet them when we go to the tournament because San Marcos is so close to East Harbor plus, we’re going to their concert and stuff. I want to meet Michael and all those guys. But I think all my messages get lost with all the other messages they get. Do you think I’m being even crazier now?”
“You’re not crazy. You’re a talented dude, Mason. I still see you singing the National Anthem and how good you were. I bet they get lots of videos and stuff from people. Did you ever send them your Anthem?”
“Yeah. And I got a comment that said it was really cool back.”
“Did you tell them you were coming down to the BaseBrawl and that you’re going to their concert?”
“Yeah, but I haven’t heard nothing back on that. But I only sent it a couple of days ago. I mean they’re so fucking busy, what else can I do? Is there a way you can help me?” Mason pleaded.
“Dude, I can listen to you and tell you do your best to get noticed, but I don’t know enough about it to help you. I don’t listen to them much, although I like a lot of their songs. It’s just not the kind of music I usually listen to. When I do listen on U Tube or something it’s as much to look at them as it is to listen to them. They are totally hot guys. Give them a chance to get back to your last message. Maybe they’ll remember the stuff you sent them and get back to you in a really special way.”
“What if they don’t?”
“Well then they won’t, but you’ll still have fun at the concert, right?”
“Totally. That concert is gonna be epic for sure.”
“I’ve got one last thing to say,” Aiden told his friend.
“Go for it.”
“You remember how you were when we first met after I moved to Mayfield. You were picked on and bullied and thought you were crap. Look at you now. You play baseball on a championship baseball team. You’re going to California to play. You’ve sung the National Anthem before a big crowd. You’ve done solos with your church choir and with the school chorus. You’re a good singer, a good guitar player, and a good pianist. Mason, you’ve got talent coming out of your ears.”
Mason sat quietly trying to keep tears from dripping. “Aiden when you came to Mayfield and saw how I was getting bullied, you stood up for me. You knocked those bullies on their asses. You became my bestest friend in the world, and that’s what you still are and thank you. I love you Aiden—I mean I really love you as a friend.”
“And I love you, Mason. You’re one of my best friends, too. You, Nolan, and Gordy are my best friends, not only in Mayfield, but in the world,” Aiden said sincerely. ”Okay, it’s late. Let’s get ready for bed.”
After the usual routine of brushing, flossing, pissing, and face washing, they started back to Aiden’s bedroom.
“Aiden, before we go to sleep can we play ‘Impossible Dream’?”
“Sounds like a plan.” Aiden dashed downstairs to the music library and brought back the “Man of La Mancha” CD.
“We’ll just play the ‘Impossible Dream’ tonight, but sometime after we get back from Cali, let’s listen to the whole musical together,” Aiden said.
“It’s cool,” Mason said. “You listened and didn’t dis me and you’re a really good best friend.” Mason gave Aiden a quick kiss on the lips and went on. “Now I just need to do one more thing.”
“What’s that?”
“Find me a boyfriend like you’ve got.”
“I thought Freddie was getting to be your boyfriend.”
“I thought so, too,” Mason said sadly. “But he’s started going out with this girl at church named Nina and he said he wants to stay my friend, but he doesn't want to mess around anymore because he ain’t gay. I mean I really like sucking dicks and don’t want to stop, but I want somebody special too. I want to be like you and Nolan or Trent and Mac.”
“Hey, Trent and Mac are straight boys who mess around, not gay boyfriends.”
“Dude, you need to look at them more careful. They sure ain’t spending the night across the hall from us to talk about girls. They’re going to fuck their brains out.”
“Somebody will come along,” Aiden said. “Just remember to always be you and the right person will like what you are and then it goes from there. You just never know when and where it will happen.”
“I know. Thanks for listening and being my friend.”
The two friends listened to “The Impossible Dream” twice, once with the lights on and the second time with the lights off. “Can I give you another kiss?” Mason asked.
“I’d love to get a good kiss from you.” Mason’s second kiss lasted much longer that the first one and involved a lot of tongue, which led to a lot of fondling, which led to Aiden giving Mason a hard fuck. Mason came long and loud just before Aiden filled his ass with his tween cum. Mason rated the fuck as one of the best, if not the best, he’d ever had.
Across the hall, Mac and Trent had been engaged in some heavy kissing and petting. As intense as their sex had been over the past few months, this may have been the first time they let down all of their inhibitions regarding gay sex. They went at each other with a passion that surprised them, but neither one wanted to hold off. It was like this night in the guest room in the Miller house was where they were supposed to be.
“Oh, gawd, Mac, I can’t believe how sexy you are tonight,” Trent breathed.
“Not half as sexy as you are,” Mac responded hoarsely.
“Who’s gonna bottom?”
“Fuck, I think it’s time for the pitcher to fuck his catcher hard and deep. It’s time for you to dominate. Just remember who the boss on the field is.”
“I’m sure you won’t let me forget,” Trent chuckled. “But don’t forget that I love my catcher.”
“You do?” Mac asked in surprise.
“I mean I love you as a friend, of course.”
“Of course. And I love you back.”
Trent fucked Mac as hard as Mac was expecting, if not harder. Mac groaned with pleasure. It took every bit of control he had to not raise the roof of the house with a long scream. But he couldn’t hold back telling Trent one more time that he loved him.
“It sounds like Trent and Mac had fun,” Mason noted. “Are you sure they’re not gay?”
“Even straight boys can have fun,” Aiden pointed out.
Mason wasn’t so sure.
After Mac and Trent came down from their sexual highs, the two young teens kissed long and passionately before finally getting out of bed and heading to the bathroom to piss. Then it was back to bed to snuggle and to fall asleep in each other’s arms.
<Around the town>
With the trip to California three nights away, the Goat players seemed intent on having orgasms one way or another before they left.
Lenny and Lance enjoyed the company of their boyfriends. Riley was fucked by Lenny on Lenny’s bed while Lance was the bottom for Grant on Lance’s bed. They weren’t worried about being caught—the twins’ mother was away visiting friends, and the Brat was overnighting with her friend Wendy. After their tryst, Riley and Grant dressed and went home where they were expected by nine. Since they knew they would be staying at home the next two nights they were ecstatic to get the chance to get off with their boyfriends.
As for the Brat, her night with Wendy included being fucked by Emmett with Wendy watching. Emmett enjoyed his sex with Brenda the Brat even though he didn’t always enjoy being around her. That night he would have preferred getting off with one of his teammates.
Cal got off with his twin sister Carla. They kept their vow not to fuck, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying a brother/sister sixty-nine. Cal couldn’t wait to see what more sexual fun he could have with his new teammates on the Goats.
Miles had dinner with Gordy and his family at Gordy’s house. Miles’s family had given him permission to spend the night, which he thought was much better than being home with his stoner brother. Knowing his parents wouldn’t bother them and that sound didn’t travel well from his room to the main rooms of the house, Gordy said he wanted Miles to fuck him.
“For real?” Miles asked. “I thought you just lost your straight dude cherry to Kalie.”
“I did, but I just feel like being different,” Gordy responded. Miles and Aiden were the only boys to have Gordy’s ass.
“Whatever floats your boat.”
The sex wasn’t hard or particularly passionate, but it was satisfying. Gordy was certain he got what he needed before leaving for California, even if he wasn’t entirely sure what it was that he needed.
Muddy got to fuck his eighteen-year-old cousin one more time. It didn’t hurt his ego at all to listen to her tell him how badly she wanted to feel his man-size cock inside of her again.
Rusty jerked off that night after crawling into bed. At first, he fantasized over a freshman girl he had met at one of the parties Max had taken him to before they quit being friends. She was the one who had taken his cherry, although he was too stoned to really enjoy it. He finally thought about something more pleasant, and the naked teammates he had spent the afternoon with at Aiden’s house. His fantasy was all of them jerking off on him and taking turns sucking his cock. Rusty normally jerked off with his left hand, but because of his injured arm he had to do it right-handed. Still, the result was decent. What Rusty didn’t know that night was that he would have an encounter the next morning that would have a ripple effect on the entire team.
Nolan also jerked off. His fantasy was Aiden and Mason fucking on Aiden’s bed. Nolan couldn’t wait for the next night, which Aiden would be spending with him. He wanted to make total love to his boyfriend in his new bed.
Gage spent the night at Skip’s. Skip sucked Gage off and lay back and let Gage jerk him off to an orgasm a few minutes later.
Scott completed the Goats’ orgasmic sweep with a solo jerk off of his own. He fantasized over his cousin Ronnie and the two of them having a three-way with Aiden. The fantasy was good enough to inspire back-to-back orgasms.
In their own way many of the Goat players had increased the bonds between them the last couple of days as they focused on the upcoming trip. Yes, the bonds were frequently sexual in nature, but for all of them the bonds that were strengthened were those of friendship and trust that was so important to young adolescent boys.
Rusty was just finishing breakfast with his mother, Laurel, when they heard a knock at the door.
“Who on Earth is that on a Sunday morning?” Laurel asked with surprise.
“I’ll get it, mom,” Rusty said. He left the table and went to the front door as the mystery person knocked again. Rusty moved the end of the drapes back to see who was at the door. The identity of the boy he saw on the porch shocked him so much he thought about shouting for him to go away. He was tempted to ignore the knocking and return to the kitchen table when curiosity caused him to turn back to the door and open it.
“What do you want?” Rusty asked gruffly.
“Well, good morning to you, too,” Max said calmly but firmly. “Not that I blame you for being pissed to see me.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Well, I’ll answer by telling you I’m not here about being friends—at least not this time. I’m here because I’m your teammate. I guess if we’re gonna be going to California together to play baseball I’d better try to act like it. I’ve heard from a lot of Goats that I’m the only guy on the team who hasn’t signed your cast. Some of them said it in a nicer way than others, and one of them chewed my ass out and I bet you can guess which catcher that was.”
“You’re really here to sign my cast? You’re here because you’re a Goat?”
“Look, I might think a lot of the shit everybody on the team gets excited about is fucked up, and I’m not, like everybody’s friend, but I play hard and play to win like everybody says. And I think for us to be together I’m gonna sign your cast.”
“Did you bring, like, a marker or something?” Rusty asked.
“No. I was hoping you had something.”
“Well, step inside a sec and I’ll go get something.”
“What does HE want,” Rusty’s mom asked as he hustled past her into the kitchen, where he grabbed a blue marking pen.
“He wants to sign my cast and that will give me all the Goats.”
“Well, maybe he’s not as bad as I thought then.”
“Trust me, Mom, he is. But this will help the team because peeps won’t be pissed…um…won’t be mad at him.”
“Are you mad at him?”
“I don’t know,” Rusty replied. “But right now, I want him to sign it and go.”
Rusty headed into the living room and handed the marker to Max. He held up his arm and pointed at an open spot. Max wrote, “Get fixed fast. Max. P 1B.” Rusty looked down at it and smiled in spite of himself.
“Is that okay?” Max asked.
“Yep. It’s great.” Rusty opened the front door and Max walked through it. Rusty stopped him before he stepped off the stoop. “Hey, Max. Thanks. I mean it. That was special. Thanks for being a Goat. It’s really not that bad.”
Max held up his right hand. “I’ll try to remember that this week.” Rusty knew what Max wanted and gave him a high five. Max nodded, tried hard not to smile, and walked away.
Rusty closed the door. At the time neither boy truly realized the importance of that signature on Rusty’s cast. But it was a step toward the final bonding of all 18 Yard Goats that was going to be sorely needed and appreciated when the going got tough at the BaseBrawl.
Next: “California Here We Come!”