The summer was scorching and it was an hour or two before the mosquitos were due to come out and feed. Carl sat on the porch leaning against the cast iron railing, his arms extended lankly over the top. His older brother Kevin and his friend Tom worked on Kevin's shiny black Trans-Am in the driveway. They were covered in sweat and grease and joked about girls. Carl sighed.
"Why does that thing need so much work?" It was Cassandra, Carl's younger sister. She sat down next to him and sucked on a fresh popsicle.
"Go away," said Carl.
"I know about cars," said Cassandra, ignoring him. "They're doing more harm to it by playing around with it."
"They're tweaking it," said Carl, pulling his knees closer. "Make it more efficient. Go away."
Cassandra stared at him and stuck her purple tongue out. He shoved her in the shoulder. She pushed the popsicle into his ear.
"Hey!" he stood up and wiped at his ear with his forearm.
Cassandra screamed and pointed to his shorts. She dropped the popsicle and ran down the porch and across the lawn and disappeared behind a neighbor's house. Carl looked down and noticed the bulge he hid while sitting. His face went red and he looked over at Kevin and Tom. Kevin burst out into laughter and Carl ran into the house, up the stairs, and in his room, slamming the door shut. He thought about crawling underneath the bed itself but opted just for his quilt and covers. He tried to remain very still as he cried and didn't stop until the heat under the covers became suffocating.
He shoved off the covers and listened to Cassandra back in the house, playing music, and Carl hoped the incident was already forgotten. Then he heard Kevin coming up the stairs, talking on about transmissions in his loud voice. Carl pressed himself against the wall which was the most shadowy edge of his bed.
Kevin burst in and immediately grinned at Carl. He shed his greasy shirt and shoved it in Carl's face. Carl fought him off, but Kevin held him down and rubbed his hair with his knuckles.
"Relax bud, it happens to all of us. I guess our descriptions of the girls in school were too much for you to take at your tender age."
"Get off!" Carl punched him in the ribs.
Kevin laughed again and picked out a fresh shirt from his dresser then left putting it on. Carl sat up and put his heads in his hands, then threw the offending shirt over to his brother's bed.
"It's okay." Tom stood in the doorway.
Carl looked up in shock.
"I know," said Tom.
"You don't know anything about me," said Carl hiding his terror behind a snarl.
Tom quietly closed the door and sat on the end of Carl's bed.
"I know you have a thing for me," said Tom. "I just want to tell you it doesn't bother me. Actually I'm a little flattered."
Carl flushed crimson.
"Do you...do you like guys?" asked Carl.
"Mostly," he said, smiling, then he turned serious. "You're a little young for me though."
He waited a moment then broke out into a grin. Carl grinned too.
"That was so embarrassing," he confessed.
"It's nothing. Well, it's something, but it's no big deal, you know?"
Carl nodded. Tom got up and opened the door. He saluted Carl and Carl laughed. Carl saluted back. When Tom left, he flopped down on his pillow feeling as if the world was a wondrous place.