After about two weeks of hanging out together whenever we could, Brian said, "I have to tell you something."
"I'm not really 17."
"What?!! How old are you then?"
"Yep! I'm really 15 not 17."
I was a little shocked. Why did he wait to tell me that? Why did he lie in the first place?
"Um. Ok. Why didn't you say so in the first place?"
"I thought you'd want to meet me more if we were the same age."
This little confession of Brian's marked the beginning of an almost daily revelation from him. The revelations that followed weren't admissions to lies he told me, as the first one was, however, they were no less jarring to me.
Over the following two weeks I learned that he had been kicked out of his father's house in Oklahoma, that was why he had moved to California recently. I also learned that he was frequently in trouble with his mother, for, among other things, stealing money from her.
These revelations were the first clues that Brian and I were less suited to be together than I had first thought. I was a dutiful student, who never did anything crazy and certainly never got into trouble. Brian was now an admitted trouble-maker who reported his vices to me with a certain relish that I did not understand.
We had been together about four weeks when I was driving him around our town, showing him where I had gone to elementary school. As we left the school's parking lot, he started to direct me to turn right onto a certain street and then left onto another. Then, as we passed a small local park, Brian jumped from his seat and said, "I know those guys!" He was pointing to a group of kids who looked to be having baseball practice. My instinct was to leave the area immediately---I was inherently shy about our relationship---but Brian's instincts were completely different. "Let me drive!"
"What?? You don't know how to drive!"
"No, I do. My dad let me a few times. Let me drive!"
"Why?" I was mystified by his request.
"Because I want those guys to see me driving! It would be so cool!"
Then he started begging.
Reluctantly, I moved the clutch pedal in, shifted out of gear, put the parking brake on and got out of the car to move to the passenger's side.
Brian was ecstatic. He giddily jumped into the driver's seat, then with some guidance from me, proceeded to drive VERY slowly past the friends he knew playing on the field. To be certain that he was seen, he yelled out, "Hey, Andy!" to one of them, then waved as he continued, still driving very slowly, past the park.
As soon as we were out of sight, he stopped the car with a lurch. The car died as he took his foot off the clutch.
"That was so cool! Thank you! You're the best!"
"You're welcome....Although I'm not sure how impressive it is to drive a piece of shit Datsun station wagon."
"Just driving is enough!"
About mid-week of our fifth week together Brian said to me, "Let's have a sleep over this Friday night."
While I certainly liked the idea of being about to spend an entire night with him, to have sex, to cuddle, to wake up with him, I couldn't see how we could pull it off. While on the one hand I had been blessed with mostly clueless parents---they had no concerns about where my new best friend they had never met had appeared from---there was no way I was going to invite him to sleep over at my house. I hadn't had a sleep over in YEARS. The whole idea sounded weird...17 year old boys having a sleep over?
When I explained to Brian my concerns, he agreed with me. His mom wouldn't like it if I slept over at his house. "But you know what we can do? You tell your parents that you'll be at my place and I'll tell mine that I'll be at yours."
"And where will we really be?"
"We can camp out somewhere in the car."
I thought his plan was nuts. I could not imagine that both sets of parents would say yes, particularly without ever talking to each other and discovering the truth. His mother had at least seen me once, but Brian was very much the Invisible New Best Friend as far as my parents knew. I was genuinely shocked when both of us were cleared to go.
As part of the plan, Brian wanted to go to the beach the following Saturday morning. So when I picked him up around 6pm on Friday, the first thing he told me was that he needed to go pick up his sunglasses.
I thought he meant go to the store to buy some sunglasses but I was soon proven wrong. Instead of a store, Brian directed me to an apartment complex about a mile away from his. As I pulled up to the front he said "wait here" then jumped out toward one of the several buildings. A few minutes later he came jogging back with a pair of sunglasses in his hand. "Ok, let's go!"
"Where'd you get those sunglasses from?"
"A friend borrowed them. I had to get them back."
And so we began our first full night together.
While it would make a far more interesting story to make up outrageous things that we did that night, it wouldn't be the truth. We drove around, we ate, we had sex, we drove around some more. By about midnight I decided it would be romantic to drive to the top of a local hillside that offered a panoramic view of our town and many points beyond. It really is a beautiful site, especially at night.
The best location I could think of was the top parking lot of the local junior college. The junior college was built entirely into the hillside and had seven tiers of parking lots scattered across the length and height of the hill. The very highest level offered a stunning view and it was there that I wanted to park.
At the top of the hill we sat cuddling together, watching the the city lights twinkling below us. It was peaceful and very romantic sitting together with Brian. As was typical, it did not take long before romance evolved into desire and we were ferociously pawing at each other. Just as we were about to get into some serious fun a security car from the college cruised slowly past.
I did not want to be surprised with a flashlight on my face just as I was going down on Brian so I told him that we had to go somewhere else. Twenty minutes later we decided to park in the second lowest of the college's lots, in a somewhat hidden location. Feeling free of any prying security guards we had our fun, then wrapped ourselves tightly together in the back of my parent's Datsun station wagon. By about 1:30am we were drifting off to sleep and I was so very happy that Brian had suggested the sleep over. Although the car was not especially warm or comfortable, it was fantastic to be able to hold Brian close to me while we slept.
At a little after 6am I awoke with a serious need to pee. In an effort to get up and out of the car I woke Brian. He peed too then we huddled together under a blanket in the back of the station wagon. Although it was July, the early morning was cold.
"I'm starving," Brian said.
I was too so we decided to go in search of some food before heading to the beach. Just as I had pulled the seat beat across my lap, Brian begged, "please let me drive for a little bit, just to the bottom of the hill."
"But you don't know how to drive!"
"I do. You know I do. Please! Just let me drive down to the main road at the bottom of this hill. Please! I'll do ANYTHING for you!"
How could I resist such an offer?
I switched seats with Brian and helped him get the car started. He sputtered and killed the ignition a few times trying to get the hang of handling the manual transmission. After a few minutes he was doing better so I told him to start driving down the hill. He complied and turned out of the parking lot and followed the winding road down toward the lowest parking lot. As the road curved toward the left, Brian did not. Instead, he steered the car straight ahead, over the curb and into a tree-filled field of dead grass.
Just as we bumped over the curve I yelled for him to stop but he didn't seem to know how. I felt completely powerless as I hung tightly to the door next to me and the seat behind me. The car was out of control and careening down the hill. Milliseconds later I thought we were both about to die when a tree appeared directly in our path. Unable to do anything about it I could only scream, "Watch out for the tree!"