Mayfield Titans

Chapter 66-Doing What it Takes

<Aiden and Nolan>
“I can tell you had plenty of good sex last night since you don’t have morning wood,” Aiden noted as he and Nolan awoke. Larry and Phil had told them they could sleep in as late as they wanted and while they didn’t make it to the crack of noon, they did snooze a little past 10:30.
“That’s because the sex last night was epic,” Nolan said. “Sometimes I think that us living so far apart is a good thing because when we have sex, well we usually end up having SEX.”
“It still would rule if we both lived in Mayfield and went to the same school.”
“Oh, I agree—although living in Meadow Park would be okay. It’s just that when we have a night like last night everything is so built up that it’s like we want to explode.”
“Maybe if we lived close to each other we’d end up having more explosions.”
“That would rock,” Nolan said as he fondled his boyfriend’s flaccid penis, causing it to stir slightly.
“You know what all that exercise last night is doing to me this morning?”
“Yep, I know. It’s doing the same thing to me—it’s making me…,” Nolan paused then nodded and he and Aiden screamed out, “HUNGRY!” in unison.
“It sounds like somebody just woke up,” Phil chuckled.
“I’ll start cooking up some bacon and eggs,” Larry said.
The boys got out of bed, headed to the bathroom, and pissed together. After washing their hands, they headed downstairs, totally naked. “Good morning, dads,” Aiden called out.
“I smell bacon,” Nolan said.
Phil stepped out of the kitchen. “If you naked imps would set the silverware and glasses on the table, we’ll have breakfast in a matter of minutes.”
“What, no toast?” Aiden asked.
“And set out butter and jam, since you asked.”
Larry dished up the eggs and sausage in the kitchen and Phil carried the plates into the dining room. The boys had stuck four slices of bread into the toaster and the toast popped out as Phil set the breakfast on the table.
The four sat down and dug into the late breakfast which had all but become brunch. “The clothes you’re wearing this morning need to be laundered,” Phil said.
“We’ll launder both sets of clothes together as soon as we finish breakfast,” Aiden said.
“Sounds like a plan.”
“How did you enjoy the Jamboree?” Larry asked the boys.
“It was kind of fast and confusing, but like Greg said, it was better than having practice,” Aiden replied.
“You’re talking about Greg from Monte?”
“Yep. Who we will see on Thursday night.”
“When are he and Skyler coming here?” Phil asked.
“We asked that and they figure after school is out. Then all we have to do is find a day when nobody has baseball, and somebody can drive them. And that won’t be easy.”
“But it’s doable,” Nolan added.
“What do you boys have planned for the day?”
“See who between Gordy, Miles, Mason, and the twins can come over and do some baseball and basketball and maybe some hot tub stuff. I wish the pool was ready.”
“It will be ready next week,” Phil said. Phil and Larry had decided to have the pool ready Memorial Day weekend even if the official grand opening party would have to wait. The swimming pool season in the Great PNW was too short to waste any of it.
It turned out Gordy and Miles, along with Lenny and Riley, were able to spend most of the afternoon at Aiden’s house. Mason said he had plans to spend the afternoon with one of the boys from church. Since the church Mason attended was in Centralia, it wasn’t anyone the Mayfield boys knew. Lance and Grant had gone fishing at a mountain lake with Grant’s father.
The six boys spent the afternoon playing baseball and hitting practice balls thrown by Phil. It was a fun afternoon for the boys and ended nicely with a naked soak in the hot tub that included a satisfactory masturbation session. Aiden noted how Gordy had become much more relaxed about sexual situations the past couple of months.
Like Mason, Freddie Garcia was twelve. Unlike Mason, he had just turned twelve and was in sixth grade. Also, unlike Mason, sex didn’t interest him, especially not with boys. The concept of sex interested him, but his parents never stopped reminding him that sex was a sin outside of wedlock and that same gender sex was one of the surest ways to earn his own seat in hell. Because he was home schooled, he knew little about the subject, since his parents didn’t feel it was necessary to teach him. All he had to know was he shouldn’t do it, and that included masturbation, which Freddie found as mysterious as the rest of the subject. In essence, his father told him it was a sin to play with himself and he should only touch himself “down there” to piss and to wash. While Freddie took his father’s admonitions at face value, his three older brothers did not, especially his 14-year-old brother, Ramon, who felt any day he didn’t jerk off twice to be a wasted day. He noted more than once to his older brother, Oliver, that he had yet to be struck by lightning because he jerked off a lot.
“Just don’t let father catch you,” Oliver told Ramon one of those times. “You’d probably end up wishing you got struck by lightning, not that I whack my pud, of course.”
“Of course,” Ramon told him with a knowing nod.  
Even with their differences, Freddie was Mason’s best friend from church. Showing unusual restraint, Mason knew not to make a move on Freddie. In a perverse sort of way, Mason thought it was cool to have a friend he didn’t try to have sex with. Not that Mason didn’t find Freddie to be sexy. He thought Freddie was not only cute, but he was also hot. Still, Freddie was the only boy Mason knew well who Mason felt was untouchable.
 Like Mason, Freddie loved to sing and took voice lessons. While Mason played piano and guitar, Freddie didn’t play an instrument. Mason and Freddie each had eclectic musical tastes, enjoying various musical styles.
Mason and Freddie loved to sing together. Their mothers were pleased that they were such good friends, and it was music that connected them. That morning in church, Mason and Freddie had sung a duet for the church service. It was the first time they had performed together in public. It would not be the last.
Freddie was a computer whiz, a skill that Mason prized since he barely knew the basics. After much begging, the boys were able to convince their mothers to let Freddie ride to Mason’s house after church for an afternoon visit and dinner. The plan was for Freddie’s mother along with Freddie’s brother Ramon and 9-year-old sister Luna, to arrive for dinner. Freddie’s father and his 16-year-old brother, Oliver, were helping his oldest brother, Jose get his house in shape to accommodate the baby Jose and his wife Isabelle, were expecting in June. Jose was twenty-three and worked for the Lewis County Roads Department. Freddie’s father worked for the Centralia School District where he was the chief custodian at West High School.
As soon as they got to Mason’s house, Mason led his friend to his bedroom. This was Freddie’s first visit to Mason’s house on his own. All of their time together had been at Freddie’s house. Freddie was surprised at the condition of Mason’s bedroom. Nothing seemed to have a place. Books and papers were strewn on the floor. Some stray socks, tee shirts, and underpants, were also on the floor piled next to the dirty clothes hamper. Ironically, while the room was a mess, it was also clean. The carpet was vacuumed, there was no food left lying around, and no sign of spilled drinks.
“At least you made your bed and have room to sleep plus you have room on your table for your laptop,” Freddie said. Freddie’s room rivaled Aiden’s for organization and cleanliness. In Aiden’s case it was because he was a neat and organized boy. In Freddie’s case it was because he had the “cleanliness is next to godliness” mantra drilled into him, and he did not want to have to do penance because he had a book not shelved or a stray sock on the floor.
“That’s all the room I need,” Mason said. “You and my friends Aiden and Gordy have bedrooms so neat it’s almost like nobody lives in them.”  
“My mom would so get all over my case if I didn’t keep my room neat. Ramon isn’t the neatest dude in the world, and mom is always on his case to clean it up. Half the time he doesn’t even make his bed.” Plus, I know he masturbates a lot and that’s going to really get him in trouble, Freddie thought.
“Do you mind if I change my clothes?” Mason asked. “I want to get out of my church clothes. I can go change in the bathroom if you want.”
“It’s cool. I’ve seen guys in their underpants before, especially Ramon and Oliver,” Freddie grinned. “Plus, I see them after soccer practice sometimes, but usually guys change at home and not in the bathrooms at the field.” Freddie was a star soccer player for the Centralia Panthers.
Mason wondered why Freddie, who never talked about underwear, let alone sex, was suddenly so talkative. Whatever the reason, he removed his light blue button-down shirt and pulled off his good slacks and properly hung them up. He saw his red sweats draped over the back of one of his three chairs and started over to grab them.
Freddie stopped him and pointed to the corner on the other side of Mason’s room. “I was going to ask to see your guitar, and there it is. Do you think maybe after I get your speakers set up, we can sing something?”
“I was hoping you’d ask that.” Mason changed direction, picked up his guitar case, and placed it on his bed. He opened the case and took out his guitar, which was his prize possession. As much as he liked playing the piano, he loved his guitar. He did some tuning and started playing “I’ll Be Working on the Railroad,” a folk song that Aiden loved.  Mason thought it was fun to play and to sing. Freddie knew the song and joined in, staring at Mason who was wearing nothing but a pair of white Hanes briefs and black socks.
After they finished singing, Freddie opened his backpack and took out two small speakers that were made for computers. They had been connected to his desktop, but he found two bigger and better speakers when he went to a yard sale with his father and Oliver. He talked his father into purchasing them and they replaced his smaller speakers. When he found out how Mason liked using his computer for listening to music, he asked his friend if he wanted to upgrade his sound. Of course, Mason was eager to do so. Plugging in the speakers and adjusting the audio on the laptop was an easy task for Freddie, who felt at home with computers.
“What do you want to test them on?” Freddie asked.
“We might as well start with the group I’ve become a giant fan of. They’re the ones I want to hear with better sound.” He sat at his computer and brought up YouTube and navigated to At the Majestic's channel from his Subscribed list.
Not wanting to stray too far from their shared taste in music, Mason scrolled down through all the band's videos back to their earlier stuff. Finding the video he wanted, he clicked play, then waited the five seconds to click Skip Ad for the music to start.
Freddie saw two boys in a room that looked homey. As they adjusted the iPhone and their guitars, Freddie asked, "Are they brothers?"
"Yeah," confirmed Mason, "they recorded this not long after their mother died."
As if right on cue, Matthew tells his mom how much he misses her before he and Michael play "The Promise" by Tracy Chapman. Matthew primarily sang the lead with Michael joining in on harmony.
Impressed with the boys’ musicianship and singing, Freddie declared, "We could sing that." Then he launched into the song's chorus and Mason joined in. When the vocals broke into harmony, Mason took the high notes while Freddie, as usual, took the lower notes.
"Wow, we sounded good," said Mason with Freddie's agreement. "Here's another song." He scrolled to find a newer video of the full band onstage where they recorded "Wake Up Call" by Nothing But Thieves. After the ad, Mason paused the video. He grabbed his guitar and threw the strap over his head. "Okay," he said, putting the pick in his mouth and adjusting the instrument. He took the pick out and prepared to play. "Hit play."
When Michael came in on a simple guitar riff, Mason played along. The drumbeats on two and four started Mason moving to the music as he anticipated the vocals. Freddie's eyes darted back and forth between these kids on a stage looking and sounding like a professional band, and his best friend playing guitar right along with them.
The vocal required Matthew to stay in his lead voice and his upper range which made it easy and fun for Mason to sing along. It was his latest favorite song by At the Majestic and his first real foray into playing and singing rock music, much to his mother's chagrin.
When the video ended, Freddie turned back to Mason. "Those guys are awesome. They're like, professional, and you sound just as good as he does singing." Mason glowed with the compliment.
"They recorded their most recent live concert. Here, let me show you." Mason found the show from the Grand Opening of the Majestic Theater. Freddie and Mason didn't watch the whole concert, but Mason, who had the show memorized, showed Freddie his favorite parts and highlighted the fact that each boy sang and could play multiple instruments.
Mason then removed his guitar and set it on his bed. He proceeded to dance to the music. The fact that he was wearing only white briefs made his movements appear sexually suggestive.
Freddie watched his friend dance around the bedroom, singing as he did, his small bulge moving around inside his underpants. Freddie was hit with that familiar and scary feeling of warmth going through his groin, only this time it was more like shockwaves as his penis became almost painfully hard. He wished the feelings would go away while at the same time he couldn’t take his eyes off his best friend as he skillfully sang and danced to the video.
After the song ended, Mason logged out of the site. He sat on his bed and signaled Freddie to sit next to him by patting the bed. He was damp with sweat. Freddie sat next to Mason, being careful that their bodies didn’t touch.
“You’re right, Freddie,” Mason said. “We can do that.” Freddie nodded and smiled.
After spending a couple of minutes catching his breath, Mason rose from the bed and dressed in a t-shirt and sweats. His timing was impeccable as his mother knocked on the door and asked if they were finished making a racket.
“That wasn’t a racket, mom, that was music.”
“You could have fooled me,” his mother groused as she walked away from the room.
Mason looked at Freddie and said, “You might not know it, but we won that round.”
Freddie had brought a change of clothes so he and Mason could play outdoors. He asked if it was okay if he changed in Mason’s bedroom.
“You saw me in my underwear, so I don’t see a problem seeing you in yours.” Not only wasn’t it a problem, but he also wanted badly to see his friend stripped down for the first time, even if it was just down to his underpants. Within seconds, Freddie was stripped down to a pair of black briefs, and Mason shivered with sexual excitement at seeing his friend’s sexy, soccer player body close to naked for the first time. And for the first time, Mason wondered what Freddie’s cock looked like and what it would be like to suck it. He shook that thought out of his head—Freddie was untouchable.
Freddie surprised Mason by asking: “Do you think I have a nice body?”
“I think it’s a great body,” Mason replied. “And it better be since you’re a good soccer player.”
“I think you have a nice one, too. I liked watching you dance in your underpants. Do you think that’s a sin?”
“What, you mean is you liking to look at me sin?”
“No, because I like looking at you.”
“My mom thinks it’s a sin, because it’s what gay people do and that’s a major sin and makes God mad.”
“I don’t know where she heard that, but it wasn’t in our church. I never heard Reverend Marcus say anything about God not liking gays. Because if I did, I’d quit going.”
“For real? Why?”
While Mason wasn’t ready to reveal his number one reason, he did say, “Because one of my best friends is gay.”
“Aiden Miller.”
“Wow, cool. I never met anybody I knew was gay. Anyway, I better get dressed so we can go outside.”
Freddie dressed quickly and the boys went outdoors and spent some time kicking a soccer ball around.  Mason was a decent soccer player, but he could tell that Freddie was way better than decent. Freddie had learned soccer from his older brothers and had to hone his skills to survive against them. Plus, his father had played soccer since he was a boy and still played on a men’s team. Freddie had received a good soccer education at home and at a couple of soccer camps.
When Freddie’s family arrived for dinner, Mason started to fixate on Freddie’s brother, Ramon, which happened whenever he saw the handsome fourteen-year-old. Wondering how well-endowed he was, whether he was cut, what his cum tasted like, all helped him get through the Sunday church service those times he had to sit through the entire affair. However, this time he had food distracting him as well as visions of Freddie wearing nothing but black briefs.
“Hey, mom, do you think Mason can spend a night at our house next weekend?” Freddie asked. Mason wondered where that question came from, since they had never discussed having overnights.
“You have never asked for a friend to spend the night before,” his mother said suspiciously.
“That’s because you said I had to be twelve and I only turned twelve a couple of weeks ago,” he pointed out. He could see his mother was thinking and decided to play his trump card. “You let Ramon and Oliver have friends over after they were twelve.”
“Since Mason is a good, church-going boy and you two sing so well together and get along so well, plus you live far apart, I will let him as long as his mother says it is okay.”
“Mason enjoys overnights with his friends, some of whom I don’t totally approve of,” Mason’s mother said. “He can stay either Saturday or Sunday night, whichever works for you.”
“Sunday night works best. Mason can come with us after church, and we’ll bring him home on Monday.” The upcoming weekend was Memorial Day weekend.
Mason couldn’t believe all this had happened so quickly and he hadn’t even asked about spending the night. Usually, he had to beg to stay with his Mayfield friends, especially Aiden. He could hardly wait to sing and dance with Freddie again, or see him in his underpants, or even less. He looked over at Freddie and then remembered that sleepover or no sleepover, Freddie was untouchable.
Aiden sat in his usual seat next to Kalie on the morning bus to school. Like the baseball team, the softball team would be playing for a Seamount Middle School League championship. Their game was scheduled for Wednesday and their opponent would be Harbor View Middle School. Aiden sat in the aisle seat. It was where he usually sat and was his signal that he didn’t want to play around.
“Did you see that the Barnes house is for sale?” Kalie asked Aiden after they exchanged greetings.
“No…I hardly ever go that way.” Aiden was referring to traveling east on Lakeshore Drive. Westbound Lakeshore Drive led directly to Mayfield. “But it doesn’t surprise me since I heard Mr. Barnes died last month.”
“It’s a nice house,” Kalie said. “Dad said it will cost a bundle sitting on the lake.”
“I dunno, my dads said property is cheaper in Mayfield because it isn’t near anything. Our house is on the lake and they said they didn’t really pay a lot for it. But they also said they bought it a long time ago. It was long before I came along, I know that much.”
When the bus pulled into the busway, Aiden saw Gordy, Miles, and Mason waiting for him to get off. He thought about how much he loved those three great friends. They all traded hugs, plus Gordy had an extra-long hug with Kalie that included a couple of quick, sneaky kisses. Aiden shoved the Barnes house out of his mind as he and his buddies talked about baseball on their way into the school.
Coach Ecklund sat at the table in the office conference room during seventh period putting together a practice. He thought about his team and their remarkable season. They were a talented group, but not the most talented team he had coached. They may not have been the most talented team in the Seamount League East, but there was no question they were the best team. Kentburg was loaded with talented players, but they didn’t play up to their capabilities. Meadow Park was talented but were much like some teams he had coached in the past—teams that couldn’t find the key to winning when they had to win.
The coach felt that the only team that played with the all-out intensity of the Titans was Clark Pass, but they did not quite believe they were one of the top teams in the division. They reminded him of last year’s Titans, or even this year’s basketball team. Talented, worked hard to win, but couldn’t get over the top when they needed to. He felt this year’s baseball team had the talent, the work ethic, and the confidence in themselves to win the championship. One thing for sure was that if they didn’t win the title, it would be because the Monte Bulldogs beat them, not because the Mayfield Titans beat themselves.
As for Monte, they had arguably the best player in the league in Skyler Winsley, and he had a talented supporting cast. Ecklund knew that in middle school it was possible for one player to dominate, and Skyler was one of those players capable of doing it. The Titans had won their league meeting 5-0, thanks to timely hitting and a dominating pitching performance by Trent, another player who could dominate a game. The Mayfield coach felt his roster was deeper than Monte’s, but in a game against a championship team it was unlikely all fifteen players suiting up would play.
He thought of what to say to the team before practice. He didn’t want to say too much and wanted what he had to say to have special meaning. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the open door. He looked up and saw Trent, Scott, and Mac standing in the main office. “Come in, boys.” Coach Ecklund considered the trio to be the leaders of the team.
The three eighth graders entered the room looking uncomfortable. “What can I do for you boys?”
“We want to ask if we can do something in practice before we head out on the field,” Trent said. He was obviously the spokesman for the trio. Coach Ecklund invited the boys to sit down at the table, which the boys did.
 “Talk to me, boys.”
“We’ll let Trent do the talking,” Scott responded. “I might be a co-captain, but Trent is the real captain.”
“I’m here for support,” Mac said. He was surprised when Trent and Scott asked him to see if he could get out of seventh period early and accompany them to meet with Coach Ecklund. Mac had yet to grasp how his role had evolved from a player who was playing for himself to one who his teammates acknowledged as a team leader. Even though he wasn’t one of the team co-captains, he had become the director on the field during a game.
Trent started right in. “What we want to do in our before practice meeting is to remind everybody of what we need to do in our three practices to make us ready to play on Thursday.”
“And that would be what?” Ecklund asked.
“To do whatever it takes.”
“That’s better than anything I could say. When we have our pre-practice meeting, I’ll go over the practice schedule and present any other announcements and then turn it over to you guys.”
“Turn it over to Trent and Scott,” Mac said. “They’re the co-captains.”
“But…” Scott started.
“No buts. It’s gotta be you two guys. Not that I plan on keeping my big mouth shut, but I think Coach has to turn it over to you guys.”
While Coach Ecklund loved the take charge attitude on the field that Mac had developed, he agreed that in this instance the team captains should take charge. Mac was doing what a good catcher should do, help direct the action, but what the boys wanted was what the captains were for. The players had elected Trent and Scott and would now look to them for leadership.
“Then, Trent it will be,” the coach grinned.
By the time the players’ session with Coach Ecklund ended, the bell rang ending seventh period as well as the school day. The boys knew that they most likely would not be returning to their classrooms and had brought their backpacks filled with their books and school supplies with them; as a result, they were able to go straight to the gym to change into their practice gear.
Generally, the players went directly onto the field once they’d changed. Because he had a great deal to cover, Coach Ecklund had informed the team after the Meadow Park game that Monday’s pregame meeting would be held in the locker room meeting area rather than in the infield as was normally the case. Now that his captains wanted to address the team, that turned out to be a fortuitous decision.
After quickly going through the agenda for the day and the week, Coach Ecklund turned the meeting over to Trent. Trent stood in front of the team and said, “This week is what we’ve been talking about for a long time. This is what we worked so hard for—playing for the championship,” Trent started. He talked about how the team had come together, from sixth graders to eighth graders and from the JV up to the varsity.
He then got to the big question he wanted them to answer. “What do we have to do to win Thursday’s game?” he asked assertively.
That was the cue for Mac and Scott to shout out, “WHATEVER IT TAKES!”
“What did they say?” Trent asked the team.
“WHATEVER IT TAKES!” the twenty-four players sitting on the benches shouted back. While only fifteen players could suit up for the game, all twenty-seven players in the program were expected to practice. “The season might be over for most of you JV players,” Coach Ecklund told the JV team, “but this week of practice is where you start building for next year.”
“And what does it take?” Mac called out as he and the two captains had arranged.
“Get your uniform dirty.” “Run everything out”. “Be in the ready position on defense.” “Concentrate.” “Chatter on the field.” “Have lots of heart.” were some of the many answers the Titan players shouted back.
“Well, then, let’s go out on the field and do all of that,” Trent said. 
The players gathered up their gloves and headed out to the field. There wasn’t the screaming and shouting a football team would have exhibited, but the excitement was palpable. When practice was over, Coach Ecklund congratulated the players for a crisp and productive session.
There was one negative occurrence, however. During a scrimmage drill, Collin was placed as a runner on first. He took off for second on a pitch by Eric Simmons, who was helping coach the practice. Mac, who was catching, fired a bullet to Gordy, who was covering second. Collin started to slide, changed his mind, and then ended up turning his ankle in an awkward slide. “Slide or don’t slide but make up your mind and stick to your decision,” was the axiom drilled into the players. Coach Seaver helped Collin hobble to the gym where he would ice the ankle. Collin’s mother picked him up before the end of practice and nobody was sure how badly he was injured. Coach Seaver told Coach Ecklund he didn’t think it looked good.
Aiden and Larry both arrived home from their practices around the same time. Phil had worked a six in the morning to three in the afternoon day and was now busily finishing dinner. That would be Phil’s schedule for the week so he could be a part of Aiden’s preparation for the league championship game as well as be a be there for Larry who would be coaching a play-in game to the District tournament the next day.
Phil had prepared a dinner of pork chops, mashed potatoes, and green beans. As they ate, Aiden mentioned that the Barnes house was for sale.
“I heard that might be happening soon,” Larry said. “I wonder what their asking price is.” They talked about what the house had to offer.
Of course, Aiden said he hoped whoever bought it had kids his age. “It’s got a pool, right?” he asked.
“Yeah, they kept it up so their grandkids could use it, but it’s not as big as ours. The property doesn’t have a dock. I don’t know about a hot tub. Are you interested in buying it or something?”
“You’d have to raise my allowance a little bit for me to afford it. Like I said, it would be rad if kids my age moved in there and I just kind of wondered if it had what we had cuz I really like living here. No dock or spa isn’t awful and they could always build them.”
“You didn’t mention that the house is a couple of miles from here,” Larry pointed out.
The talk went from the house to baseball and flowed along. Aiden hoped he wasn’t flooded with homework so he could watch his dad’s game the next day.
<Moyer family>
Paul arrived home around twenty minutes to five. He was anxious to share the news with his family that he had received just before leaving the courthouse.  He parked his car in the garage and then walked out to the mailbox, which was empty. When he went into the house, he saw the mail sitting on the living room coffee table. It was his first reminder that middle school baseball was over and Nolan would usually be coming home right after school. He went through four letters and none needed his immediate attention; in fact, two of them could probably go directly into the recycle bin and not be missed.
Paul’s thoughts were interrupted by Nolan entering the living room. “Hi, dad.”
“Hello, son. It’s strange seeing you home this early. How about giving your old dad a hug?”
Nolan grinned, stepped to his dad, and gave him a tight hug. “I wish I could be coming home later this week. You’re home early too aren’t you?” he asked. As his son hugged him, Paul Moyer was reminded again that his son was coming closer and closer to being tall enough to look him straight in the eye.
“I had a light docket this afternoon and decided my paperwork could wait until morning. I wanted to see if a certain piece of mail had arrived, and it had.” He held up the letter. “I also have a piece of news to share.”
“It sounds important.”
“That’s because it is, but I’ll wait until your mother gets home to talk about it.”
At dinner Paul Moyer told Nolan and Vivian about his job change. “Judge Wilton has to retire. He was hoping to last until the next election, but his health won’t allow it.”
“So, you applied for it?” Nolan asked.
“After consulting with your mother, I said I was interested.”
“And because you’re the awesomest family court judge in the county you got hired.”
“As you know I’m the only family court judge in the county. Anyway, you are now talking to the newest Lewis County Superior Court judge.” Nolan and Vivian clapped and cheered.
“What kind of cases will you do?” Nolan asked.
“Criminal and civil cases—whatever comes up on the docket. I will start after July 4th to give me a chance to clear out what I’m doing and for the county to find a successor for me.”
“Will this mean you will have to work more?’
“The work will be different, but it’s still about the law. It shouldn’t take up too much more time. What it does mean, however, is that I will have to be elected to   the position in the fall.”
“What happens if you lose?”
“Nothing to worry about. I’ve been told my position is an interim position, which means temporary. The person taking my family court position will also be interim. If I should lose the election, then I go back to the family law court which, as you know, is not an elected position.” Paul wasn’t too concerned about losing. He knew he was well known throughout the county, thanks not only to his position but also because of the fund-raising work he and Vivian did for various charities. On top of all that, the incumbent judge was usually re-elected.
“And one thing your father didn’t tell you,” Vivian said, “is that his new Superior Court position also means a pay raise.”
“Yippee—then I can maybe get that new bike for riding to Aiden’s house.” It wasn’t the first time Nolan had brought up the subject of a new bicycle. His old one was a good bike, but it was showing its age.  He wanted a bike that was faster and easier to ride if he was going to pedal between Meadow Park and Mayfield. In other words, he wanted a bicycle of the same quality as Aiden’s.
“We’ve discussed the subject before,” Paul said. “I think it’s something that we might be able to do before summer arrives, if you’re willing to accept it as an early birthday present.”
Nolan fell asleep that night thinking of riding on the new bicycle trail to Mayfield to visit his boyfriend without having to rely on his parents to drive him.
The morning announcements at home room had a lot of information on Wednesday’s softball championship game and Thursday’s baseball championship game. Another announcement that caught Aiden’s attention was the postponement of Wednesday’s Mayfield Baseball Club general meeting to Thursday of next week so anyone who wanted to watch the girls’ game could do so. The championship games were both being played in Centralia’s lighted sports complex and would be evening games, which Jackson didn’t know when he scheduled the meeting. None of the summer teams had games scheduled on the new night, so it would be a good evening for the meeting.
Aiden was stopped by Heather on his way to lunch. “How come you haven’t wished me a Happy Birthday?” she asked.
“Maybe because I didn’t know it was your birthday,” Aiden snapped.
“I’m thirteen today.”
“You had to get there some day.”
“Do you think I have nice boobs for thirteen?”
“I guess. I like the ones Nolan has better.”
“But he’s a boy and boys don’t have boobs. Oh, never mind—just wish me a Happy Birthday.”
“I need to get to lunch.”
Heather put her hands on her hips and glared. “Aiden…”
“Happy Birthday, Heather,” came a voice from behind Aiden. The voice belonged to Christy Cain, a girl he actually liked.
“Hey, Christy,” Aiden grinned.
“Hey, Aiden. Go on to lunch, I got a couple of things I want to ask Heather.”
“Thanks Christy.” Aiden knew that Christy had barged in to save him from Heather. As Aiden saw it, Christy might be new to Mayfield, but it didn’t take her long to figure things out.
Aiden turned and started walking away when Heather blurted out, “It’s because you don’t do stuff like wish girls Happy Birthday and then say snarky stuff about her boobs that you don’t have a girlfriend and have to have a booooooooooooyfriend who lives in a whole different city.”
“Whatever,” Aiden waved as he continued walking away.
Miles caught up to Aiden and said, “For a girl who is supposed to have a big crush on you, Heather sure is a mean B-word.”
“Hey, Miles. Were you listening?”
“Yeah. I was sorta hiding behind Grant’s locker door. He just shook his head and said he was happy he was gay.”
“What do you think?”
“I think I’m glad Brittany is my girlfriend and not Heather,” he grinned. “I heard her say you don’t have a girlfriend because you’re snarky. Well, you are snarky, but in a nice sort of way. She doesn’t think about the fact that she doesn’t have a boyfriend because she’s a snarky B-word.”
One thing the baseball players talked about at lunch was that Collin hadn’t come to school. Aiden asked Rusty if he had heard anything from Collin. He said Collin was hurting last night. “But I haven’t heard anything today. He hasn’t answered any of my texts.”
The rest of Aiden’s day went smoothly and before he knew it he was in the locker room changing for practice. Coach Ecklund held a quick pre-practice meeting. He told them he would announce the starting lineup at the end of practice and the roster for the championship game at the end of the next day’s practice. He gave them the practice schedule and finished the meeting by telling them that while Collin hadn’t broken anything, he did have a badly sprained ankle and would not be on the roster for Thursday’s game.
As the team started for the field, Mac yelled out, “What do we do in practice today to help us win?”
“Whatever it takes,” came the collective answer.
The Titans had another practice filled with hustle, chatter, hard work, and dirty practice gear. In other words, they had fun.
As promised, Coach Ecklund read out the starting lineup at the end of practice. There were no surprises—it was essentially the same lineup as  the Meadow Park game.
“Collin didn’t forget about me,” Rusty told Aiden as he checked his phone in the locker room after the meeting. “He said the same thing we heard from Coach Ecklund; he has a really bad sprain and can’t play. He’s going to stay home from school until after the weekend.”
“Well, since we have a four-day weekend plus the two school days, that gives him time to get better,” Aiden said.
“And he isn’t playing summer ball. He couldn’t have played for the Goats this summer anyway.”
“Why not?”
“He’s too old. He turned fourteen last week. And, yeah, except for me he didn’t tell anybody, but that’s the way he is. Pretty much keeps to himself except when his clothes come off,” Rusty giggled.
“I don’t think I’ll make the final roster,” Mason said to Aiden as they walked out of the gym.
“You don’t know that,” Aiden responded. “You work as hard as anybody and you’re a smart player.”
“Probably true, but a smart player isn’t always a good player. Grant is better than me plus he can pitch and Riley—wow, he came from this little new kid to a piece of dynamite. One or both of those are going to make it. And you know what?”
“I’m cool with it. I’ll ride the bus to the game just like Coach said we could, and I’ll yell my voice out. The Titans are my friends and if me being a great teammate in the stands is what it takes for us to win, then I’ll be a great teammate in the stands. Just one thing, though.”
“I sure wish I could suck Riley’s dick.”
Aiden shook his head and walked to the busway with his friend. He loved Mason as much as any of his friends.
That night he watched the Mayfield High School Mustangs defeat the Long Beach Tides 7-3 and move on to the District playoff on Friday. Aiden would be missing that game since it was the weekend of the Cousin Dozen Blowout, which was the only negative to going to the Blowout he could come up with. If the Mustangs picked up the two wins they needed over the weekend and went to Regionals, Aiden was certain that the only thing that would keep him from going was one of his own baseball games.
Aiden’s morning was a usual school morning. Wake up, shower and piss, dress, breakfast, grab books, wait in the bus shelter, cross Lakeshore Drive when the red lights flashed, and board the bus.
“Good morning, Mrs. Emerson,” Aiden grinned.
“Good morning, Aiden. Your girlfriend is pretty excited about her game tonight,” the kindly bus driver said.
“She’d better be, even if she’s not my girlfriend.” Aiden walked to his usual row and sat next to Kalie.
“Hey, Aiden,” Kalie greeted him. “I heard you told Heather you liked flat chests better than her boobs.”
“You heard wrong. I like boy chests better than girl chests is what I said. Heather is so fucked up.”
“What she wants is to get fucked now that she’s thirteen.”
“Whatever. Why don’t you get a dildo and fuck her yourself?”
“Aiden Miller, you’re the weirdest boy I know.”
“I feel honored,” Aiden grinned. “But what I really want to talk about is you kicking some Harborview butt tonight.”
“That’s our plan,” Kalie grinned. She turned her head, gave Aiden a sly look, and asked, “Do you like my boobs?”
“Yep, I like them because they belong to you,” Aiden replied.
“Good answer,” she grinned.
Mason met Aiden at the bus stop and walked with him into the school. “I talked to Coach Ecklund and asked if I could help out during the game—you know, be a batboy, hand out water, whatever they need me to do.”
“What did he say?” Aiden asked.
“He said if I’m not on the roster, I’m hired,” he grinned.
“That sounds like Coach.”    
“I wonder if somebody comes off the field into the dugout needing a blow job and…”
“I’m just saying,” he giggled.
“Well, who knows, you might be sucking a Bulldog dick while you’re out on the field playing second base.”
“Don’t talk like that, you’re giving me a boner.”
Practice started with the team shouting out the magic words, “Whatever it takes” and having another hustling practice. Sadly, they lost another eighth grader when Everett had to leave the field while hitting in the batting cage because he had a migraine kick in. The coaches knew Everett had a problem with migraines, but it was the first time they had to deal with his problem.
The team was confused about what happened. It was Max who helped straighten things out. “Everett gets migraines sometimes, especially when he gets stressed. I think he got hit with one just now.”
“Will he be able to play tomorrow?” Scott asked.
“I have no clue. They don’t last the same amount of time and some of them are worse than others.”
“I didn’t know kids could get them.”
“I guess now you know that they can.”
When practice ended, Coach Seaver had a quick chat with Coach Ecklund.  “I talked to Everett’s mother,” Coach Seaver said. “Everett insists he can play tomorrow, but mom says that’s a thirteen-year-old talking. Unless he’s fully recovered by tomorrow night, which is unlikely, there is no way he can play. I told her that we left him off the roster.”
“Did you tell her that we’re sending it to the league in the morning?” Coach Ecklund asked.
“I told her we needed to have the roster made out tonight. If we tell a kid today he will be on the roster and then we leave him off…well, you get the picture.”
“I do. Good job. Who do we add?”
“In my mind we add Mason who has played a lot of varsity and played well. Plus, he’s a dirt bag on the field.”
Coach Ecklund nodded. “Agreed. He’s not the most talented kid on the roster, but he’s got one of the best attitudes. I’m glad I can put him on the playoff roster—he certainly deserves it more than Jared.” Against his better judgement Coach Ecklund was placing Jared Finn on the roster because he was an eighth grader, which he felt was the right thing to do. He was a talented player who had a hard time grasping what the Titans were about, but he never did anything to cause Coach Ecklund to remove him from the team. Jared’s problem was that he didn’t fit into the makeup of the Titans. Even his one-time buddy, Mac, couldn’t straighten him out.
“I guess we’d better announce the roster. The natives are getting restless,” Coach Seaver pointed out.
Coach Ecklund addressed the team. “Sorry for the delay. Let’s go to the locker room and meet there.”
After everybody settled in, Coach Ecklund announced that Everett had left the practice because he was sick. Policy kept him from saying more than that, but from what he had overheard he was certain the team knew what the problem was.
“Well, you no doubt figured out that the ten starters were on the roster,” Coach Ecklund told them. “Jared will now start in left field and Muddy will bat for him as the DH. The other five on the roster are players who’ve accumulated a lot of varsity time. Those five are Grant, Riley, Miles, Lenny, and Mason.” Aiden looked over at Mason and gave him a thumbs up. Mason smiled, feeling warm all over.
Mason had no idea that he had been a last-minute replacement, and he never would. All he knew was that he was on the roster, and whether he played tomorrow or not was irrelevant. What was relevant was that he, Mason Johnson, was on the roster of a team that would be playing in the Seamount League Championship Game.
“I’m going to finish our meeting with a question. The question is a simple one, but it’s also an important one, not only for tomorrow’s game but for any game you play. Simply put, what is the most important reason to play the game?”
“For the championship,” Barry called out. “To win,” came from Lenny, Miles, Trent, Grant, and Rusty.”
“Any other thoughts?” Coach Ecklund asked.
After a few seconds of silence, Riley said, “To have fun.”
Barry disagreed. “No way, Riley. You can’t have fun if you lose, especially a championship game.”
“I like what Riley said,” Aiden said. “Sure, winning is more fun than losing, but if we aren’t having fun playing with our friends and playing the game the right way, it would mean only one team can really have fun. And if we can’t have fun going out on the field and playing, then why bother?”
“Let’s think about having four priorities tomorrow,” Coach Ecklund said. “Play hard. Play smart. Play to win. Have fun. And then, as a goal for the summer, work to make those priorities a regular part of every game.”
“And if we do that, we should have a shitload of fun,” Mason said. He flashed Coach Ecklund his most innocent look as his teammates broke out in laughter. “Oops, sorry. No offense coach.”
“None taken, Mason,” Coach Ecklund said in a serious voice. “Just work on controlling yourself.” Coach Ecklund knew Mason well enough to know that the slip had not been an accident. He had also been around enough years to know there were some things you let go and not try to control.
Coach Ecklund remembered Marty Carlson, Kevin Corcoran, Eric Simmons, Noah McCall, and that group of crazy, driven winners, having fun without taking anything away from their drive to win was something they had mastered. Coach Ecklund recalled Eric saying near the end of his eighth-grade season that “play hard, play smart, play to win, and have fun” had become the Titan mantra for remembering what was important every time they played.
After ending the meeting, Coach Ecklund had a quick chat with Lance, who was obviously unhappy that Lenny had been placed on the roster and he hadn’t. He explained to Lance that Lenny was there because defensively, he was the second-best catcher in the program after Mac. “It’s nothing against you, Lance. It’s just that I needed Lenny’s skills to be available tomorrow. And I’ll admit, all things being equal, I pick seventh graders over sixth graders. You’re as good and work as hard as the seventh graders I picked. I’m sure you’ll root hard for everybody, including your brother.”
Lance looked silently at the coach and gathered his thoughts. He and his boyfriend, Grant, both pitched and could play infield or outfield—but Grant was a seventh grader. His brother could catch. Lance would be a spectator. But Lance also knew those things when he had yelled out “Whatever it takes” before each practice, and now he had to show that he meant what he said.
Lance looked up at       Coach Ecklund. “Coach, I know Mason said he would help with stuff in the dugout tomorrow. But he’s on the roster, so what if I did the things he said he would do? Then I’ll be right there rooting for Lenny and all of my teammates.”
“I think that’s a great idea, son. Just remember you can’t wear your full uniform, but you can wear your Titan cap and your practice tee.” All the players had been given a blue practice shirt with “Mayfield Titans” printed on the front. Some of them had their parents purchase an extra so they always had one to wear that was reasonably clean. “I’m proud of how you’re handling this.”
“I think Lenny is too.” Not to mention Grant, Lance thought.
When Aiden got home, mac and cheese with Italian sausage was almost ready to eat. Larry arrived soon after Aiden. The talk was about baseball, of course. Aiden told his dads about helping Mason when he was worried about not being on the roster and talking to Lance when he didn’t make the roster.
“Do you think I did the right thing?” he asked.
“I think you were a great friend, which in my mind means you did the right thing,” Larry replied.
“And once again, you made us proud of you,” Phil added.
“Did you see the Mariner score?” Larry asked. As happened often when the Mariners were home, Wednesday was a getaway day for a road trip and the game was an afternoon game.
“Yep, they kicked some Ranger ass and Marty had a home run and a double and four ribbies.” Ribbie was baseball slang for a Run Batted In. The Mariners had won the game 9-2. The getaway time was for the Rangers who were most likely already on the plane to Cleveland to play the Guardians.
Aiden did what little homework he had and was ready to go with his dads to Centralia to watch the girls’ softball championship. He rode with his dads and Gordy and his dad. They all sat together in the bleachers behind home plate. He and Gordy cheered loudly during what was a well-played and tense championship game. The Titans defeated the Harbor View Tugs 3-2 after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead for good. Kalie was the winning pitcher, and the team finished their season as undefeated champions.
On the ride home Aiden’s phone played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, which meant Marty was calling. “Hey, bro, I figured you’d call tonight,” Aiden said.
“How could I miss wishing you good luck in tomorrow’s game,” Marty said. “Since you don’t seem to be home, where are you on game night?”
“I’m in the backseat of the Accord riding home from the championship softball game.”
“I’d forgotten about that. How did the Titans do?”
“They won 3-2.”
“That means they set the standard for you guys tomorrow.”
“We’re ready to do what it takes,” Aiden said proudly. “Good game for you today, by the way.”
“Yeah, I got a couple of good hits, but booted a grounder.”
“Was it an easy grounder?”
“No, it was hard to my left, but it was one I should have fielded. I still have a lot to learn. I take it you’re starting tomorrow.”
“Yep, playing second and batting second. I don’t think I’ll be pitching any unless Trent and Scott both suck, and that’s just not going to happen.”
“Great place for a seventh grader. How many seventh graders are starting?”
“Three. Me, Gordy, and Rusty.”
“Sweet. Anyway, your tickets for Sunday will be at Will Call under your Uncle Troy’s name.”
“We’re really looking forward to that,” Aiden said. “I love you, bro.”
“I love you, too. Oh, and if you guys meet me at the players’ entrance after the game, I’ll have a surprise for you.”
“Sounds good. See you then.”
After arriving home, Aiden took care of his teeth and washing his face. He did some of his routines for getting in his zone. After finishing with his ball toss, he took a final pee, and cuddled with Horace, loving the warmth and comfort the stuffed donkey gave him.
He thought about what had been discussed at the team meeting that afternoon. Work hard. Play smart. Play to win. Have fun. That was Aiden’s mantra as he lovingly squeezed Horace and fell quickly to sleep.
Next: The Titan Mantra.