Copyright © 2019 DouglasDD. All Rights Reserved.
THE FOURTH DIMENSION (Part 3)
SATURDAY, JUNE 28
“I’ll find a way to get to your party,” Aiden told Mac and Russell.
“Aiden, have you lost your mind?” Scott screeched. “Aren’t you the guy who set up everything so Marty would see my cousin?”
Aiden shrugged. “I just told him to send Ronnie a picture, Marty did the rest.”
“So? I mean, really, you get credit for being Marty’s friend and getting things started…”
“What does this have to do with me wanting to try something different to see if I like it?”
“It’s got everything to do with it because it shows you’re better than some dude wondering if being drunk is cool.”
“I never said anything about getting drunk.” Although that’s what I plan on doing, Aiden told himself. He knew he was going against everything Marty had taught him, but he was sure that Marty was wrong this time. Marty simply didn’t understand how everything was going wrong. The way Aiden saw it, he had played shitty for three straight games and his team had lost all three. He remembered how he felt when his father gave him alcohol. He kind of liked the sensation but hated his father for giving it to him.
It was those two times at the Muncie’s that made him wonder if that was the way to go when he felt down and his brain kept telling him he wasn’t as good as everybody thought. He wanted see for himself if booze helped him better than having gratitude. Aiden wanted to see if maybe Marty had it wrong all along.
On the ride home, Aiden sat in the back of the minivan saying nothing, not that Muddy had much to say after a disappointing week of baseball. The Goats had lost their league game on Wednesday 4-3 and then went two-and-out of the Tri Cities Tournament. Aiden was happy that the rest of his best friends were riding home with their own parents so he wouldn’t have to talk to them. Mason was the one who wanted to talk to somebody, so he drove Larry and Phil nuts with his chatter about baseball, music, school, the desert scenery followed by mountain scenery and anything else he could think of. Aiden wanted to stuff one of his dirty baseball socks into Mason’s mouth, but he kept his cool.
That evening while he was waiting for Larry to cook up dinner, he called Nolan. Just talking to his boyfriend made him feel much better, but his mind was still spinning sporadic negative thoughts.
“Damn, I can’t believe you only got two games in,” Nolan said.
“Yeah, it sucked. Just like I sucked. We’ve lost three in a row and I’ve sucked majorly in all three games.”
“We all have bad streaks, but that isn’t why you guys lost.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Aiden heard Nolan take a deep breath. “That doesn’t sound like you at all, Aiden.”
“Maybe it’s because I forgot something about myself.”
This time Aiden paused. He didn’t know what to say. Was he going to tell Nolan what he remembered about those nights when he was eight? He decided not to. What happened then was going to be his secret forever, although he had to admit the more he thought about it the more he realized it meant he was just like his father. He conveniently forgot how different his father had become since he got sober. Aiden knew he never wanted to be like his father had been, and yet the party was calling him. He would go to see what it was like, but that was all. He could call it a pre-birthday party; he was going to be twelve in a couple of months after all, which was much more grown up than eleven. Even now, he was no longer in the sixth grade, the “baby” class in middle school.
“Aiden, are you there? What did you forget?” Nolan asked after what seemed like a long silence.
“Nothing,” Aiden said in a tone of voice that almost every pubescent boy perfects.
Nolan was stunned by Aiden’s attitude. This wasn’t the boy he was in love with. Sure, Aiden can get a little snarky sometimes, Nolan thought. We all do, and when we figure things out, we apologize. But this was something much different than a normal bad mood. Nolan could only think of one thing to say.
“Have you tried calling Marty?” he asked.
“I already know what he’s going to say—he’s going to tell me not to go to this party I want to go to, so why should I talk to him?”
“What kind of party?” Nolan asked in a concerned tone of voice.
“Nothing. Just a party.”
Nolan knew Aiden was bullshitting him. He was certain the party was not one Aiden shouldn’t be going to, but he wasn’t sure how to handle the situation, so he went back to Marty. “Well, you could ask him because I love you and don’t want you to do something stupid.”
“It’s not stupid, it’s something I need to do. I really have to do this.”
“I don’t get it. Maybe if you tell me what you don’t want to tell me, it will help me figure things out.”
“Like I said, it was nothing.” Aiden heard Larry call from downstairs. “Pop is calling. It’s time for dinner. Thanks for trying to help and I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Nolan said lamely. He cut the connection feeling like somebody had punched him in the gut.
“Feeling any better?” Phil asked when Aiden sat at the table. Phil knew the answer was no both by the look on his son’s face and by the fact he was fully dressed.
“I would if I didn’t suck at baseball so bad.”
“You need to get over it, son. You and your team hit a bad streak. You’ve been there before, and you know what to do. Sulking about it has never been a solution.” As he spoke to his son, Phil tried to maintain a tone of voice that offered understanding and tough love simultaneously.
“I’m not sulking. I really do suck.”
“I’m willing to bet that Scott and Connor will improve everybody’s attitude in practice on Monday,” Larry said. Larry felt that Aiden not hanging around with Mac would help his attitude as well. His practiced coaching eye saw Mac as a cancer on the team. He was a talented player, but nonetheless, he was a cancer.
Aiden shrugged and started in on his macaroni and cheese with spicy sausage. The talk was minimal, which was unusual for one of their family meals. Larry couldn’t even get a game of Twenty Questions going.
After dinner, Aiden went up to his room. He wished the party was that night. He wished he could have the numbness he remembered from those nights at the Muncies. He wondered if he really felt that numb, or if he was just imagining it. When he decided to quit playing his video games and go to bed, he ignored Horace. Stuffed donkeys were for little kids, and on Tuesday night he was going to join the big kids.
He did hold to the ritual of telling his dads goodnight. But he didn’t want to be read to, a tradition that still happened most nights, or tucked in. He returned to his room thinking that might never happen again. He pulled the covers over him without stopping to think of what he had been grateful for that day.
At 2:00 am in Meadow Park, Nolan Moyer lay naked on his bed. The Pandora music service was playing quietly on his phone. Nolan was sick with worry. He was truly frightened about the way his boyfriend was acting and wasn’t sure how to deal with it. He had considered talking with his dad but decided against it. Tears came to his eyes as one of his and Aiden’s favorite songs began to play. Nolan shut off his phone, took a deep breath, held Casey II, his stuffed bear, tightly, and consoled himself with the thought that his boyfriend would call in in the morning and they would talk. He squeezed Casey II tighter as he told himself he shouldn’t be worried, that he and Aiden would work things out as he finally fell asleep.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29
Aiden spent the morning in the TV room watching the Mariners getting clobbered by the Red Sox in Boston. Larry and Phil thought he might be coming back around to normal since he was sitting in his/Phil’s recliner wearing just a pair of red briefs with blue trim.
Gordy, Miles, and the twins showed up just after lunch for some swimming. While Aiden didn’t really want to play around with his friends, he couldn’t think of a good reason to cancel the little swim party, so he decided to let the afternoon plans stand.
He surprised himself by forgetting his issues and having a good time with his four friends. The best thing was that all he had to do to be ready was pull off his briefs. With that group, it went without saying that they would be skinny dipping.
As much as he didn’t want to have fun, he found it was hard not to with four of his best friends. He wished Nolan was there too. If he hadn’t been
in a pissy mood the night before he was sure he would have invited him. It bothered him that his moodiness had resulted in him slighting his boyfriend.
The boys got a game of keep away going with one of the small rubber balls. The game included laughter, wrestling whoever was “it”, along with grabbing cocks, balls, and ass on occasion.
“Gordy’s getting a lot of hairs,” Lenny said when they stopped swimming to get some ice-cold lemonade.
“And he’s making more and more cum,” Miles added. “He’s going to catch up to Muddy if he keeps this up.” Other than a few teeny strands, Miles and Aiden were still hairless, as were the younger twins.
Pool time after lunch was more about the grab dick and ass than about keep away. Everyone sprouted a boner at one time or other and Aiden remembered how much fun it was to have a twin’s boner in each hand.
Aiden and his company showered and dressed before dinner. Lance and Lenny wanted to see all the extra cum Gordy was supposed to be making. Since they all had to be home for their dinners, that wasn’t going to happen.
“Maybe next time,” Gordy told them. He didn’t really want to show off his sexual growth, but he also knew that his group friends considered showing their maturity a routine part of their friendships. He did know that Kalie and Brittany had liked watching him shoot his sperm last Thursday. Still that was showing it to girls which was different than showing off to his friends.
“You look like things have brightened up,” Larry observed at dinner.
“A little. Can I stay overnight with Miles on Tuesday?” Aiden responded.
“As long as his parents are good with it, you know we are, too.”
Aiden had no plans to spend the night with Miles. He needed a way to get to the party and spend the night there without his dads knowing. When it came to spending the night with his friends, his dads never checked up on him. They had no reason to think he would go somewhere other than to his friend’s house.
After dinner and cleanup, Aiden retired to his room to watch his own television. He lowered his little railroad’s drawbridge and started his train going. He lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. Eric had told him that when he was feeling down, he would toss a baseball to help him focus his mind away from what was bothering it. Aiden was following his other big bro’s example.
He looked up at Horace but decided to leave him on his shelf. He picked up his phone to call Nolan, but something made him remember Nolan asking him to call Marty—not telling him but asking him. He punched in Marty’s number instead of Nolan’s.
“Hey, little bro,” Marty said when he answered the call. “Long time no hear.”
“Yeah, I’ve been busy. How did the Rainiers do today?”
“We knocked off the Aviators 7-4.” The Aviators were the Las Vegas AAA team.
“I was three-for-four with a walk, two doubles, three RBI, and two runs scored.”
“Great game. I sucked at baseball all week and so my team did, too.”
“How bad was it?”
Aiden told him about his horrible three games, and about the Goats losing all three, including their two games in the Tri Cities tournament. “I couldn’t do nothing right.”
“And because you couldn’t do nothing right, the Goats lost, correct?” Marty laid a tiny bit of emphasis on the word ‘nothing’ just to let Aiden know he’d picked up on his sloppy grammar.
“Well, not exactly, but it’s close. If I only had got some hits and not made two errors that let a ton of runs in, we wouldn’t have been two and done in the tournament.”
Marty could hear the hurt in the voice of his little bro. “Well, then, how do we fix the ‘if onlys’ in our lives?”
Aiden lay silently. He knew that this was where the conversation would be going. He wished he hadn’t listened to Nolan and called Marty. He wished he’d told Marty that life was awesome, and he was glad Marty had a good game and then ended the call. If only he’d thought about the Tuesday night party instead of what Nolan had said. Aiden suddenly realized he’d just brought another ‘if only’ into the whole discussion.
“I don’t remember,” he finally said.
“Yes, you do—you just don’t want to say it.”
Trying to sound as uninvolved as he could Aiden said, “When we say if only, if only, if only, it means we’re not being grateful.”
“And is that true at this moment? Are you being grateful?”
“I don’t have anything to be grateful for,” Aiden said with more force in his voice. He was ready to hang up. Aiden waited for Marty to ream his ass, which would give him all the excuse he needed to hang up.
“Indeed,” was all Marty said.
Aiden kept waiting for Marty to chew him out, or to start a list of things he should be grateful for. He had not been prepared for Marty to utter just one word. The silence was almost making Aiden sweat. Then Aiden came up with what he thought was a great idea. He would shock Marty into chewing him out which would give him an excuse to break the connection. That way he could say it was all Marty’s fault.
“I got invited to a party on Tuesday. Kind of a before Fourth of July party.”
“Great. Which one of your many awesome friends invited you?” Marty had heard enough from Aiden to make him a little leery of the pre-Fourth party.
“Oh, this party is with different friends and is going to have beer, but I won’t drink any, I swear.”
“Hmm, a beer party.”
“Like I said I won’t drink any.”
“I take it your dads are okay with this.”
Marty was still staying cool, so Aiden decided it was time to drop the kicker. “They think I’m spending the night at Miles’ house.”
Aiden felt himself starting to get pissed. He climbed off his bed and sat in his desk chair. “Is that all you got to say…indeed and interesting and shit like that?”
Aiden’s question was met with silence. One of the things Marty had learned when helping alcoholics he knew from his meetings was that sometimes being quiet and listening led to more information than asking a string of questions.
Aiden’s shaking finger reached for the off icon to end the call. He wasn’t sure if he was shaking because he was mad at Marty or because he was afraid. Maybe the path he wanted to take wasn’t the one he really wanted to take.
“Are you still with me, bro?” heard Marty ask.
He doesn’t sound like he’s mad. He called me bro, Aiden thought. He decided to take one last try at getting Marty mad. “You drank when you were eleven, so why can’t I?”
“I thought you said you weren’t going to drink at this party.” Even while Marty was calling Aiden on his shit, his voice stayed calm and reasonable. He was trying to let Aiden sink his own ship.
Aiden thought about his secret. He thought about how he wasn’t going to tell it to anybody. Not his dads, not his father, not his friends, not his boyfriend, and certainly not Marty. While he didn’t express it in those terms, the reality was the secret was weighing heavily on him and was a big reason he wanted to go to Mac’s party.
“What was it you told me once about secrets?”
“I’ve said quite a few things about secrets, but the big one, the one I think you’re thinking of, is that you’re as sick as your secrets.”
Once again Aiden sat silently. He wished he could see Marty face-to-face right then, while at the same time he was glad that his big bro couldn’t see the tears flowing down his cheeks. Aiden was at what would be one of many forks in his developmental road; forks where he could follow the siren call of pubescent rebellion or he could dig into the moral and ethical standards his dads, Marty, even his friends had built in him since he arrived in Mayfield. He was not the first young adolescent to sit at this junction and he would not be the first to take the wrong road.
“Marty,” Aiden whispered hoarsely into the phone as he worked hard to hold back his sobs. Secrets, he thought. Secrets are why I feel so shitty. Secrets are why I hate myself. Marty said secrets were why he was sick.
“Yeah, bro?” Marty could feel the emotion in his little bro’s voice, even over the phone.
“I have a secret that I forgot for a long time and now I need to…well…Marty, please don’t get mad at me.” Without waiting for Marty’s reply, Aiden let out his three-year secret that he had all but forgotten and was now an unintended consequence of his new relationship with his father. It was the story of losing his mother, of getting drunk with Parker, of getting drunk in his room more than once, of wanting to get drunk more, and then of forgetting it all when Larry and Phil came into his life and finally, of remembering it after Keegan offered him amends for giving him booze when he was even younger. He told Marty the secret of how good it felt to be numb and forget how bad it felt to lose his mother and how now he wanted that same feeling because he couldn’t focus into his zone and played shitty baseball. As he told his story, Aiden had gotten out of his chair and laid back down on his bed.
“I was so bad and I wanted to be bad again. Do you hate me now?” Aiden asked after finishing his story and choking back one of many sobs.
“I love you Aiden. I love your courage for telling me your experience. And you need to know that you did nothing wrong.”
“What if I still want to go to the party on Tuesday? What if I still want to be bad?”
“I can think of three things that could help you, if you truly want to be helped. Because if you don’t want to be helped there is nothing I can do for you, and by that I truly mean nothing. This is all on you.”
Aiden sniffed back a final sob. “I want to be helped but I want to go, too, and I don’t know what to do.”
“The first thing you need to do you have done. You talked to somebody about it, namely me. Talking about your troubles and not sitting on your secrets is a huge help all by itself.”
“And the second thing?”
“Talk to your dads. Tell them what you told me.”
“They’ll be mad at me, I know they will.”
Marty switched to his tough love tone of voice. “Aiden, there are times you have to admit to yourself that you don’t know shit. This is one of those times. Your dads are going to be there for you. They’re going to love you for being honest. They’re going to be proud of you for being honest and for admitting your dishonesty about staying overnight with Miles.”
“Are you sure?”
“Totally. I’ve known them far longer than you have. They trusted you and you were about to violate that trust. If you confess and make amends, you will be able to maintain that trust.”
Marty was throwing a lot of information at Aiden, but it was being done in a way that made Aiden think. Marty had a pretty good idea of how to push the right buttons on the young boy.
“What is number three?”
“I understand from two boys who have been talking to me a lot lately that a youth AA meeting has been started in Mayfield.”
“Yeah. Sammy and Peter got it started during the school year. It’s called the Fourth Dimension, which sounds like some kind of weird science fiction movie or something.” Aiden had regained a measure of control of his emotions and was sounding closer to the ebullient boy he so often was. “Do you know what it means?”
“I do, but I think it would be better if you asked one of the members that question when you attend your first meeting.”
“But that meeting is for kids who have, like, a problem with alcohol. Why should I go there when I don’t drink?”
“I think you qualify for membership.”
“Okay, but that was, like, a couple of years ago when I drank that shit.”
“And the party on Tuesday is a couple of days away. Let me tell you what the only requirement for membership is, and then you decide what to do.”
“I know I don’t belong but go ahead and tell me because you’re going to tell me no matter what I think.”
Marty didn’t let Aiden’s sassiness get to him – he kept his cool. “Listen very carefully, with the key word being listen. Our Third Tradition says that ‘Our only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking’.”
“But I don’t need to stop if I never started. That doesn’t make sense for me.” Aiden adjusted himself on his bed, so he was sitting up, with a pillow between him and the wall.
Marty knew from his past experiences with Aiden that once Aiden thought he didn’t make any sense he was on the verge of figuring things out. While it seemed like paradoxical behavior, it seemed to fit how Aiden often worked his way through issues.
“When you got drunk at the foster home the first time, how did it make you feel?”
“Like I didn’t miss my mom and like I wasn’t lonely and I liked it when Parker hugged me.”
“Did you want to do it again?”
“Yeah, I told you I did it the next weekend and I did it again even after they caught me.”
“How do you think it would make you feel if you drank at the party on Thursday?”
“Numb and like my shitty playing and us losing because I was played bad wouldn’t matter. Mac and Russell and Muddy and them would think I was cool because I was drinking.”
“You didn’t mention Muddy was going.”
“Well, he said he was. It surprised me, too.”
“Do you really want to drink at that party on Tuesday? I mean do you really, truly want to do it?”
“Not really, but I really think I want to get the feeling.”
“Did you listen to what you just said?”
“Yeah, kinda, I guess. I want to stop doing what I did when I was eight even though I’m going to do it now, but I still want to go to the party.” Aiden stopped there but Marty said nothing. It was time for Aiden to make the connection. “Wait,” Aiden said suddenly. “I don’t want to go, but I want to get the feeling and I want to stop before I started what I did before. That means, I have the desire to stop drinking like the rule says and it means I can be a member.”
“You’re a very sharp young man, bro. I am proud of you.”
“Let’s see. I talked to you, I will talk to my dads, and I will talk to Sammy, and I won’t go to the party on Tuesday.”
“What will you do to keep from going?”
“I guess I just won’t go. I can’t call you because you have a game. I could sit with my dads all night. Or I could really do an overnight with Miles, or maybe Gordy.”
“You’re looking too far ahead, bro. Think about what you will do today that will help you on Tuesday. That’s as far as your thinking needs to go.”
“I can talk to my dads today and I can call Nolan.”
“Great ideas.” Marty had been impressed by Nolan’s solid maturity the couple of times he’d talked to Aiden’s boyfriend. “When does the Fourth Dimension meet?”
“I dunno. I’ll find out from Sammy. Thanks for talking to me. I feel way better now. How come I keep arguing with you and then when I listen to you I feel better?”
“Because when you talk to me you don’t hold back, at least not by the time we finish. You are honest and open and, like I keep telling you, that makes you feel good inside.”
“Good night, bro. Thanks again.” Aiden broke the connection. He then took Horace down from his perch and set the stuffed donkey next to him. He petted his soft, furry exterior and cooed an apology for ignoring him, and told him that now he wanted him on the bed. “You’ve always been my loyal friend. Always, no matter what.” Aiden then called Nolan.
“I am so happy you called,” Nolan said after the boys exchanged hellos. “You can’t believe how worried I was about you.”
“I’m sorry,” Aiden said. “I have a lot to tell you.”
As soon as Aiden told Nolan he had talked to Marty, Nolan felt good. After Aiden told Nolan his story, Nolan felt even better.
“Marty said keeping what I did a secret was the thing that made me feel bad, not actually doing it. I’m sorry I was mean to you, Nolan. I don’t ever want to be like that again.”
“We all get that way, I think,” Nolan replied. “Dad says part of growing up is learning what to do when we have bad moods or get pissed off about stuff. I love you, Aiden, and I am happy you’re feeling better.”
“I love you, Nolan. Thanks for being my best friend in the world when I got nasty and for being my boyfriend.”
Aiden told Nolan he would call him on Tuesday. He lay back with Horace and started jerking off. It was the first time he’d been really horny in a few days. He thought about humping Horace, then decided to cuddle the donkey in one arm while jerking himself off. He had visions of him with Marty, Rich, and Nolan in a bedroom having fun together when he shot his clear emission over his belly.
After cleaning himself off and brushing his teeth, he went downstairs and asked for a tuck-in and a reading session. Larry said he would be right up. As he watched his naked son’s perky ass disappear up the stairs, Larry looked at Phil and said that it looked like Aiden had been talking with Marty.
“I think you’re right. Where would we be without that amazing relationship?” Phil said. “I think he should be named an honorary third parent.”
Larry agreed and went upstairs to read the next chapter of “My Side of the Mountain” to Aiden.
MONDAY, JUNE 30
<Aiden and Sammy>
Aiden called Sammy after breakfast. “I need to talk to you,” he told the teen.
“Talk away, I’ve got time to listen,” Sammy said.
“No, I mean face-to-face. Like, live.”
“I’ll be around all day until after dinner when I have baseball practice.”
“I’ve got practice tonight, too. Let me ask my pop if I can come now. I wanted to check if you were home before I asked. I’ll call you right back.”
Aiden knew his pop was out on the dock doing some maintenance on the boat. He slipped on a pair of shorts and walked out to talk to him.
“Are you coming out to help?” Larry asked.
“No, but I’ll help you tomorrow if you need it.”
“Fair enough. What can I do for you?”
“Can I ride my bike into town and visit Sammy? I need to ask him something.”
“I thought that’s what we bought you that fancy phone for,” Larry chuckled.
“It is and I just did talk to him, but I need to TALK to him, you know, like to his face,” Aiden said in an annoyed tone.
“What did he do wrong this time?” Larry sounded concerned knowing what the past history between his son and the teen was like.
“Nothing. It’s just that this is important. It’s about what’s been bugging me. I promise to tell you and Dad about it tonight. Deal?”
Larry knew when to push and when to back down. This was back down time. “Deal. When are you going?”
Larry yelled at Aiden to ride carefully as his son took off for the house. Nothing annoyed Aiden like being told to do things like “ride carefully”. How else do they think I’ll ride? he’d fume to himself. He called Sammy and told him he was coming right over. He put on his shoes and a t-shirt and headed to the garage to get his bike. His helmet was strapped to the handlebars. Slipping it on, he rode out into the warm, sunny morning.
“Hey, dude, how’s it going?” Sammy said when Aiden rang the front doorbell.
“Hi, Sammy. Thanks for letting me come over.”
“It sounded a little urgent. Come on in and we’ll talk about what’s on your mind.”
After Sammy poured sodas for the two of them, they went out on the patio and sat at the picnic table. Aiden was thankful for the big umbrella providing them shade; the day was turning into a hot one. Both boys pulled off their t-shirts. Aiden was stripped down to his cargo shorts and Sammy to a pair of gym shorts.
Aiden worked to get the butterflies in his stomach into formation. “I wanted to talk about your meeting, the Fourth Dimension,” he finally blurted out.
“What about it?” This sounded like something much more serious than Sammy had imagined. Up until that point he had been looking at Aiden with lust, hoping that the purpose of his visit was because he wanted to have sex with a teen stud. As soon as Aiden mentioned the Fourth Dimension, Sammy did his best to wipe his lustful thoughts out of his mind.
“Am I allowed to go there?”
“Serious?” Aiden nodded. “Do you understand what it’s about?” Aiden nodded again. The intense look on Aiden’s face erased the last lustful thought from Sammy’s mind.
“I talked to Marty last night.”
“So what you’re saying is you’re dealing with some real serious shit.”
Aiden took a deep breath, and for the second time in two days, he spilled his secret, convinced that Sammy would laugh him out of the house. When he finished he was surprised for the second time in two days.
“You’ve got balls kid. I mean you’ve got serious big ones. It took balls to do what you just did and do it with somebody who’s like a stranger. I mean you and I didn’t get along at all when we first met, and here you are telling me why you want to come to the Fourth Dimension.”
“Do you really think I was brave? I thought you’d laugh at me or something.”
“Dude, a couple of years ago I’d have laughed my ass off. Maybe even a year ago I might have said, ‘whatever’, even though I was sober. But now I take all this shit super seriously.” Sammy didn’t know that in a couple of weeks his thinking would begin to stink like Aiden’s had been and he would come within a bumped cup of beer of going back out into the world of booze.
“You sound just like one of us Fourth Dimensioners and you’re more than welcome to come to our meetings. The next one is tomorrow at seven-thirty at the Lutheran church.”
“Whoa, I didn’t know this was a religious thing. Marty never said anything about that. I mean I know he talked about God and Higher Power and stuff, but not religion.”
“We’re not. We just rent their little meeting room two times a week. Noon on Saturday morning is the other meeting.”
“You must have to pay a lot for rent. Who gives you the money?”
“We give ourselves the money. It’s all in the Seventh Tradition. We use half of our contributions to pay the rent each month.”
“Marty told me about the third tradition. How many are there?”
“Twelve. Just like the steps.”
“I guess I have a lot to learn. Like, can you tell me what the Fourth Dimension means?”
“You can learn that tomorrow, kiddo.”
“It’s weird that my first meeting will be the same night as Mac’s party. What if I end up there instead?”
“If you find yourself heading for his house stop what you’re doing and call me. And I mean RIGHT THEN. No bullshit. Call.”
Aiden said he would be coming to the meeting, but if he did end up going the wrong way, he promised he would call.
After Aiden left for home, Sammy stripped off his shorts, sat on the couch in the sunroom and jerked off, thinking about what he wanted to do with Aiden knowing he now could never do it.
<Aiden, Larry, and Phil>
That night after baseball practice, Aiden stripped naked in his room and went downstairs where both of his dads were reading. It was time for him to have his talk with them.
For the third time he told his secret to someone. This time he had no preconceived notion of what the reaction would be. He told his dads about Nolan chewing his ass, about talking to Marty, about how he lied to them about going to Miles’ house, about seeing Sammy, and that he planned on going to the Fourth Dimension meeting the next day.
The dads praised Aiden for his honesty, his trust of them, and for his willingness to tackle his issue. They both thought of asking why he didn’t come to them when he was so depressed in the Tri Cities but decided his finally turning to Marty was one more reason for them to see Marty as an honorary parent for Aiden.
“Just one more reason to be glad the Muncys got their asses kicked out of foster parenting,” Larry said, as much for Aiden’s benefit as their own. They knew how much their son despised them, especially Mr. Muncy.
Phil told Aiden about the drinking history of Larry and himself. “We drank more than you, obviously, but your pop and I quit really young and, as you know, still attend meetings when we can.” Phil was the more active in AA because he had no doubt, even with his short drinking history, that he was an alcoholic.
“I hope you that you get active in the group,” Larry told Aiden. “You saw how close you came to maybe getting yourself into serious trouble. The fact that you lied to us reveals quite a bit, and the fact that you came clean to us reveals even more. You’re a good kid—a good person. But it looks like you have the family disease.”
“Well, tomorrow I’m going to the meeting. I want to find out what the Fourth Dimension is.”
Later, after Larry read to him, Aiden lay in his bed with Horace thinking about his day. He thought about Sammy being so helpful and never saying sexy things like he often did. He thought about talking to Nolan during the afternoon and confirming that Aiden would be staying overnight with Nolan on July third and fourth. He thought of Mac reminding him at practice of what time the party was and Mac’s one-word reaction when he told him he wasn’t going.
Aiden got out of bed and went to the clothes hamper to pick out his underpants for the day. He opened the hamper and decided he didn’t want to put on the same underpants he’d worn at practice. He was about to pull out the next pair when he said, “Fuck it,” picked up Horace, and went downstairs naked.
His dads were still awake. Aiden squeezed into the recliner with Phil, setting Horace on his dad’s lap.
“You’re naked,” Phil observed.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Aiden replied. His tone was assertive without being disrespectful.
“Your pop and I will be going to bed in fifteen minutes or so.”
“Horace and I will be there with you.”
“Dressed like that? Or should I say not dressed like that?”
“That’s my plan.”
Phil looked at Larry who shrugged. As Aiden moved into puberty his dads weren’t surprised that his nocturnal visits had become fewer. What they didn’t expect was that one of his infrequent visits would be in the nude. Considering what their son had been dealing with, they silently agreed to go with the flow, but would be wearing underpants as was always the case when Aiden slept with them.
And so, for only the second time, Aiden slept with his dads in the nude. Aiden cuddled up to Phil, pleased that he wasn’t getting a boner and that his dad wasn’t naked. What pleased him the most was the feeling of safety and security that washed over him. It was something he hadn’t enjoyed for too long and something that he desperately needed.
TUESDAY, JULY 1
Larry dropped Aiden off at Sammy’s house just before seven in the evening. Jeffrey then drove him and Sammy to Aiden’s first Fourth Dimension meeting. Aiden and Sammy entered the church annex and walked into the meeting room. Grant Foster was setting up the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions shades along with books and meeting material. The new job rotation started that day, and Grant had been elected opener. Like Aiden, Grant would be entering seventh grade in September.
Grant’s jaw opened when he saw Aiden walk in. “Whoa, I never expected to see you here, Aiden.”
“Well, I’m here,” Aiden said uncomfortably. “But I guess I never expected to see you here, either.”
“Well, I’m here, too,” Grant grinned. Grant had learned enough in his sixth months in the group to know he shouldn’t pry into people’s business; Aiden would tell his story when he was ready to tell his story.
Grant proceeded to help Aiden feel comfortable by explaining what his opener duties were. “You have to be six months sober to be the opener and I just made it. I plan to be here every meeting to have everything set up.” Grant, who was a shy boy with glasses and the reputation of being a nerd, felt important as he talked to Aiden. Aiden was a big-time jock, a school leader, and the coolest of the cool, and for the first time in his life he was talking to him as an equal.
Peter Astor, who would be the new meeting secretary, was the next person to walk in. He wasn’t surprised to see Aiden. With Aiden’s permission, Sammy had given Peter a heads up. Peter and Aiden had a rough history, which is why Sammy thought it would help to let Peter know what to expect. Aiden had reluctantly agreed. When Peter went out of his way to make Aiden feel welcome, Aiden was glad he had allowed Sammy to advise Peter he was coming.
There were fourteen members at the meeting, including three Kentburg boys. A third boy, Gregg, had joined Shannon and John Wilson, the other two Kentburg boys, in late May. His mother provided transportation to the meeting. She was ecstatic that her son was hanging with boys who were battling the same problem. Aiden knew Shannon, since he was Keith’s best friend.
The only problem Aiden ran into came from Barry Bender. Barry complained that Aiden couldn’t be a member of the group because he didn’t drink. His complaint drew a quick reply from Everett Baker, who was now a graduate of Mayfield High School. Barry held the star football player in awe, especially since he had been recruited to play football by Boise State University.
Everett looked directly at Barry. “I do believe the Third Tradition tells us that ‘The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking’. If Aiden says he wants to stop drinking that’s all we need to know.” He looked at Aiden. “Welcome to the Fourth Dimension, Aiden. Trust me, nobody is going to ask you if you have a desire to stop—you’re here wanting to be a member. None of us came here because we thought this was a cool place to be and it would be party time; we came here because we were desperate.” He returned his gaze to Barry. “And that’s all we need to know.”
“Sorry,” Barry said humbly. “I shouldn’t have said anything, so, yeah, welcome Aiden.”
Peter, who was the new meeting secretary, got the meeting started. When he asked if anybody had a topic suggestion, Sammy raised his hand. “Since this is Aiden’s first meeting ever, I think we should discuss the First Step.”
Peter agreed. “Aiden, if you look at the Steps we hung on the wall you can see that the first step says, ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable’. We’re going to share our experience, strength, and hope so you can see what happened to us, how we got here, and what our life is like now.”
Aiden still wondered what the Fourth Dimension meant, but it sounded like what the group would be sharing was for him, so he elected to keep quiet and listen. And listen he did. He listened to the members honestly sharing their stories.
When Peter shared his, he admitted to having been a bully and included his harassment of Aiden. As Aiden listened to Peter, he was amazed at how much the older boy had changed, even more than Sammy had. He listened intently to Grant’s story and decided he might have a new friend at school when the school year started. He already knew Sammy’s story. But overall, the story sharing sounded a lot like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” but Aiden stuck it out. He elected not to share his story, at least not yet.
After the meeting was over, Aiden and Sammy helped Lonnie Stevens, the closer, put things away. Lonnie was a senior, but Aiden didn’t know much about him.
Jeffrey was waiting outside when Aiden and Sammy came out of the annex. On the way to Aiden’s house, Sammy asked what Aiden thought of the meeting. Aiden said it was confusing.
“Yeah, it will be like that for a while. My first meeting was when I was in rehab. It was mostly adults, but they were really good to me. And even with it being all confusing and shit, I hope you thought being there was better than being at that lame party.”
“I never did find out about the Fourth Dimension,” Aiden said.
“Yeah, I forgot about how we share on the First Step when somebody new comes in. Everett is really good about all that stuff. I bet he and Marty would get along great. He’s been huge for our group, and I’m not talking about his physical size.
“But, real quickly, it’s in the Big Book in two places, and it means being in a dimension where there’s no time, and no limits, and no boundaries. It is the realm of the spirit, where if we become spiritual, with the help of our Higher Power we can do anything we need to do so we can stay sober. Does that help?”
“I guess,” Aiden said insincerely as the car turned into his driveway. “Thanks for the ride, Jeffrey, and thanks for helping me, Sammy.”
Aiden went into the house wanting to see his dads and to touch Horace and to talk to Marty. He managed the first two.
“Do you think you’ll go back?” Phil asked.
“That’s what everybody told me to do,” Aiden replied. “Just keep coming back.”
“And, I don’t know. I hope you and pop and Sammy and Marty and everybody can help me figure out what’s going on.”
“You will, just work hard and give it time.”
“I’m glad I went though. Sammy said he hoped the meeting was better than the party would have been.”
“Was it?” Larry asked.
“I wasn’t at the party, so I guess it was. I know that going to the meeting meant I didn’t lie to you and Dad and I didn’t get drunk and do anything stupid like Marty and the kids who talked at the meeting used to do. Everybody at the meeting said they were powerless over alcohol. Maybe I am too, since without Marty and Sammy, I would have lied and gone to the party. I guess I have a lot to learn.”
Aiden headed upstairs to his bedroom. Larry looked at Phil, shrugged his shoulders, and shook his head.
“Well, I guess we didn’t see this one coming,” he said.
“That’s for sure,” Phil replied. “I’m tired and ready for bed now but we need to talk and be sure we’re both on the same wave length as far as how we deal with it.”
“I agree,” Larry said. “And I think we’ll do fine.”
The two men shared a kiss and went into their bedroom.
Aiden slept in his own bed that night, cuddled with Horace. At first, he thought about tossing his baseball, but he drifted off to an untroubled sleep, instead.
Next: Welcome to the Big Leagues