an excerpt

Chapter One

It wasn't love at first sight. Wasn't hate at first sight, either. Mutual curiosity kept it safely somewhere in between, even neutral, in that the two young men would be roomies throughout their freshman year, the result of the university housing policy that disallowed off-campus or official-fraternity living for any student until his second year.

To this day, Kel isn't sure how he ended up in a two-man, three-room suite, since most freshmen ended up in four-man, three-room suites. Suite was a misnomer, in either case, since the three-room complexes were anything but stereotypically "sweet".

Two-man, three-room suites were mainly assigned by application and were usually in such demand that they were seldom given to freshmen who mostly didn't have a clue they even existed, so they didn't ask for them beforehand.

Two-room suites for individual occupation were so scarce as to be the bailiwick exclusively of seniors who much coveted them, as means of providing quiet study havens during the crucial final school year, that they were requested virtually years in advance.

Kel's second-floor accommodations consisted of two individual study rooms, each with a desk, desk chair, and two additional overstuffed chairs for visitors; the latter so old and over-used that anyone who sat in one risked complete disappearance into the upholstery and sagging springs. Situated between these two rooms, but, not having access to the hallway like they did, was the sleeping room which contained two twin beds, parallel, with headboards to either side of the window that accessed the rooftop of the first-floor dorm wing that jutted out onto the large backyard. The sleeping room had a sink and medicine cabinet; the latter's mirror was so devoid of reflective ability, along its edges, as to be permanently black-framed. There were individual closets, each of which served whichever study room was closest. Pissing, shitting, and bathing required an exit and short walk down the hall to that floor's communal showers and toilets, unless, of course, a guy became so desperate during the night as to pee in the sleeping-room's sink which definitely, as specifically posted, was not, under any circumstance, to be condoned.

Kel thought his and his roomie's two-man suite might have come about because of Brad's athletic prowess, since it turned out that he was at university on a full athletic scholarship. Or, there was the chance that one of Brad's brothers, in and out of university before him, had either clued him in on housing availability, or had, as a member of the alumni association, pulled a few strings. Brad later assured that neither of those options had been the case. Brad and Kel's good fortunes apparently having just been the result of favorable karma, exceptionally good fate, simple serendipity, or luck of the draw.

Brad, his parents, and two of his six brothers were already in his study room, separated from Kel's by the sleep-accommodations, when Kel and his parents checked in with Kel's luggage. There was no mistaking the chatter and laughter from Brad's group as Kel's bags were deposited on the drooping seat of one of Kel's study-room chairs, his portable TV and computer placed on the other. Kel's intention was to set up shop and store his things only after his parents left campus, which they were scheduled to do after the family lunch for which they had made reservations at one of the several restaurants in the small town adjacent to the campus.

Kel hadn't the slightest inclination to cross through the divide and introduce himself to the apparently happy group that included his roomie, and he doubted his parents were any more likely to entertain any such notion. The group in question, however, turned out to be far more sociable and made its own short journey to say hello.

Mr. and Mrs. Klychec were full of wide smiles and good cheer, although of the group, they looked the most hassled. Mrs. Klychec's hair, obviously more carefully coiffed earlier in the day, had several stray dark strands gone rogue, including the one she kept trying to maneuver into place by unsuccessfully upward-blown breaths, until, eventually, having to tuck it into captivity behind her right ear. Mr. Klychec's tie, roped around the collar of his brilliantly white button-down Oxford shirt, and mostly concealed by his light-blue cashmere sweater, had been loosened, somewhere along the line. The top button of his shirt was unfastened to reveal a small vee of tanned, hairless chest.

"Each time I think this university's first-day stuff is going to be easier, it still leaves me needing a stiff drink," was how Mr. Klychec summed things up while shaking Kel's father's hand.

Kel was trying to figure out which of the three young men was his official roommate. At the time, he hadn't been officially informed of a name by any school paperwork. So, for all he knew, he might be teamed up with Glenn, in his white trousers and white tennis sweater, looking as if all that was missing was a tennis racket and a tennis court; or with Paul, in tan cargo pants and black non-logo sweat shirt. Paul really looked as if he was possibly still too young for university, but that criterion wasn't really a good one to go by, since Kel had skipped two grades on his own pathway to higher learning, and he'd been told, more than once, that he hardly looked out of grade school.

In truth, Kel was still at a loss as to which attending brother would be spending a lot the freshman year with him when all five Klychecs excused themselves to search out that drink for which Mr. Klychec had said he was in such desperate need. The Klychecs had graciously wondered if Kel and his family would like to join them, but, considering the latter had only just arrived, and had reservations for later, the families went their separate ways. If Kel thought the university and adjoining town small enough so that the families might end up meeting each other later on, it never happened. Kel wouldn't actually see Brad again, except briefly, for several days, during which he finally identified his roomie as "that" Klychec brother when initially spotting him across a crowded auditorium that contained one of their many shared indoctrination sessions during orientation week. As an official member of the school's athletic contingent, Brad had a pretty full schedule that went above and beyond the few mandatory acclimatization sessions he and Kel had to attend, and he spent his first few days bunking with athletic teammates.

Therefore, Kel having a roomie turned out far less traumatic than his parents and he--as well as his Aunt Pam and Uncle Bill-- had assumed it would be. Kel's homeschooling had been a family subject of conversation for a very long time. Kel having once heard Aunt Pam and Uncle Bill seeming to agree that Kel's deprivation of interaction with his peers was most likely going to stunt his social growth in later life. At Kel's fourteenth birthday party, he'd heard Uncle Bill ask Kel's Mom, why there wasn't at least one of Kel's contemporaries among the party-goers. "There's no one, here, under thirty!" Uncle Bill concluded. "Do you really think that's healthy?"

No way had Kel's parents been persuaded to inject Kel into the public or private school systems until college curriculum definitely became too much for them to handle at home. There had been a good deal of discussion as to whether or not some online internet schooling might be a viable option, but, in the end, even Kel's parents had agreed that a degree from anything other than a brick-and mortar university might not present Kel with the credentials he'd need, in the end, for a competitive high-paying job. The chosen university was only a couple hours drive from Kel's home and had been chosen mainly for that very reason.

Some people, Uncle Bill and Aunt Pam included, thought that university across country would probably have been better. Kel, though, was well aware as to why his parents continued to want him near.

He'd been born after a very prolonged period of his parents trying to conceive, including several attempts and failures at in-vitro fertilization. Then, he'd been born prematurely, originally thought born dead before he'd belatedly let go the weak cry which convinced the doctors otherwise. After which had followed years of health problems which had him spending a lot of time with doctors and in hospitals. Although he had rallied, health-wise, in his early teens, his parents had never really got over thinking of him as their very precious and vulnerable child with a compromised immune system. They saw danger from every quarter, especially from the gamut of rag-tag, probably disease-ridden, rug-rats "out there", in the big-wide world, beyond the protective womb of the home environment.

For a long time, he would remember the good-byes when he was finally checked into his dorm, his parents about to commence the two-hour drive back to their house. Literally, the car started up, and, then, stopped, five times, before it finally drove off, with his reluctant-to-leave-him parents on board, and disappeared into the distance.

It only took Kel a short while, after Brad started showing up more regularly for sleeps-over, to realize that they had at least one thing in common -- morning wood. Brad's was easily spotted through Kel's squinty sleep-filled eyes as Brad, always up earlier than Kel, unabashedly exhibited it throughout his early-morning shaving routine.

Kel didn't need a history in public or private-school locker rooms to realize, early on, that he had a fascination for the male body, and knowing that wasn't how it was supposed to be. His father had taken him aside, once Kel's puberty had checked in, and drawn the stereotypical heterosexual pictures, albeit stick-figures. Kel's father not a very proficient artist that instructed on the normal "way" things were meant to go -- flaccid cock to hard cock, pussy, clit, foreplay, erection-into-pussy, full-blown copulation, seed release, sperm penetration of female egg, resulting baby. At conclusion, he suggested Kel query internet search engines for additional details. By then, Kel had already, long since, gone from keying in "naked women", "heterosexual .gifs", to "naked men", "penes in erection", and "gay sex .gifs". All of which had only confirmed his apparent preference for male-male activity over the more acceptable-to-society male-female. Not that he was particularly disturbed by any of that. He'd not participated in any one-on-one sexual activity, with either sex, so, he was able to rationalize his male fantasies, and his accompanying masturbations, not so much as indicators of his true sexuality but as merely experimental means by which he would, eventually, determine what his sexual orientation really might be.