The Puget Posse

Chapter 36-December Happenings

 
Welcome back readers. Your emails are appreciated. Your comments are my payment for writing.
 
In this chapter, the boys prepare for the upcoming Christmas vacation. But their attention still needs to be on school. The dioramas get graded, Patrick and Neville compete to sing a solo in the school program, and final decisions are made on whether or not to run for a student council position.
 
Enjoy.
 
 
 
CHAPTER 36    
DECEMBER HAPPENINGS
 
By the end of the day Monday, all of the fifth grade teams had their dioramas stored in the auditorium. It was unusual, but not unheard of, for a team not to be finished on time. As a whole, the students at the Puget Academy were not only smart kids, they were also high achievers.
 
The viewing and voting would start on Tuesday, with each class in the school having a slot assigned to look at the finished products. Each diorama had a number assigned to it and each student had a ballot with numbers listed from one to sixteen, which was the total number of dioramas on display. While names were not included with the displays, the identity of the creators of the dioramas was a badly kept secret. It was a small school, and even the eighth graders knew many of the fifth graders.
 
The students were instructed to give each display a rating of one through five, with five being the top score. On Wednesday, each member of the staff would pick his or her top five. That night was open house for parents to come to the school to see the displays; they, too, would have a vote in the process.
 
On Friday, the top five vote finishers would be posted. While being a top five display did not guarantee an A, only three top five finishers in the past ten years had not received As. One of them was dinged a grade for being finished a day after the deadline. One of the others was a beautiful construction, but failed to follow the directions as far as the topic and theme went. With the last one, it was discovered before the final grades were assigned that most of it had not been constructed by the students.
 
“Wow, there was some good looking shit in there,” Mark said to Patrick as Mr. Jackson’s class left the auditorium after their Tuesday viewing.
 
“Mr. Kirkwood,” came a man’s voice from behind them, “you will report to Mr. McClain for lunch detention tomorrow.” John McClain was twenty and a college sophomore who worked part-time at the Academy. He had attended the Puget Academy from sixth through eighth grades. This was his second year working at the Academy. His primary job the first semester was taking charge of the lunch detention room. He would help as a play area supervisor the second semester. Because of his youth, he was popular with the students, but he brooked no nonsense during detention time.
 
“Yes, sir,” Mark said, wondering how it was Mr. Jackson always seemed to appear at the worst times.
 
“Our diorama is the best,” Matthew said as soon as Mr. Jackson moved on.
 
“I don’t think so,” Mark told him as they continued their days—old argument. “There is no way it beats ours.”
 
Mark looked over at Neville. “Hey, Neville did you give us a five? I mean with you being a fellow Posse member and everything.”
 
“My vote is my secret,” Neville replied haughtily. “And you know we can’t vote for the dioramas from our own class.”
 
Mark looked around to see how close Mr. Jackson was, then leaned in close to the English boy and whispered, “Neville, you’re full of shit and you know it. You would have given us a five if you could vote.” Neville blushed, but said nothing.
 
“Boys,” Mr. Jackson said forcefully, “you know you need to keep quiet in the halls.” The group kept their mouths zipped as they returned to the classroom.
 
During seventh period electives, Neville and Patrick were involved in an interesting competition. They each had beautiful, clear boy soprano voices, among the best Mrs. Bailey, the music teacher, had heard at the Academy. She had three solo roles to fill for the Christmas concert. Two of them would be going to experienced seventh graders, one of whom had soloed the year before. She was certain that this year would be the last time they would be soloing as sopranos in the Christmas concert; their voices were certain to break by the time they hit eighth grade.
 
Mrs. Bailey’s dilemma had to do with the third solo. While she didn’t use fifth graders for solo parts very often, she did use them if they were exceptionally talented. She understood how short-lived the soprano voice of a boy was, and she was more than willing to squeeze an extra year out of a top voice by using the boy to solo as a fifth grader.
 
Patrick and Neville had exceptional voices and she could only use one. She decided to compromise. One of the boys would solo in the school performance and the other in the more prestigious evening performances put on for friends and family at the school and for the general public at St. Luke’s church.
 
Both boys knew what was at stake that afternoon in class. Mrs. Bailey would have the chorus sing the carol two times with each boy doing one solo. She had two friends of hers who were choral directors and voice teachers on hand to listen. While the decision was hers alone, their input would be of tremendous help in making that decision.
 
Patrick and Neville had each practiced intently for what was in essence an audition. Patrick had more natural talent than Neville, but Neville’s voice had received better training. To the casual listener, they both sounded like young angels as they sang their hearts out.
 
The class was the last one of the day. The students quickly headed for their lockers to put away some books and to gather other books and their coats. There were no afterschool activities that day.
 
“You sounded really good,” Patrick told Neville.
 
“Of course, I did. My voice teacher helped me and I practiced hard.”
 
Patrick couldn’t miss that Neville hadn’t thanked him or returned the compliment. He had grown used to Neville’s snootiness. He was convinced that underneath his outward coldness there was a warm heart. Patrick had seen hints of it and wasn’t ready to give up on getting Neville to show his real self.
 
“It is a good thing that Mrs. Bailey is giving you a chance to sing in the school program, because you can sing pretty well,” Neville sniffed. Patrick’s father called that kind of comment “damning with faint praise” and Patrick was getting a sense of what he meant by it.
 
Patrick saw Will in the hall and went out to the bus with him. As they walked down the wide stone steps at the front of the building they saw Ellis talking to Alden.
 
“I keep asking Ellis what he and Alden talk about,” Will said.
 
“What does he tell you?” Patrick asked.
 
“He says they’re just good friends, but I don’t believe him.”
 
Patrick eyed the two for a moment and said, “They don’t look like friends; Ellis doesn’t look happy.”
 
The boys boarded their bus and took their usual seat which was second row, right. Jeremiah and Tony followed them on board and sat in their usual seat, fourth row, left side. The two of them didn’t bother to acknowledge Will and Patrick.
 
“I think Ellis is the one who’s telling Jeremiah about all of the stuff we are doing,” Will whispered. “He tells Alden and Alden tells Jeremiah.”
 
“Why would he do that?” Patrick asked. “I think Ellis is really nice.”
 
“Maybe they threaten to beat him up if he doesn’t.”
 
“They’d get kicked out of school if they did that.”
 
“Maybe, unless they do it somewhere else.”
 
“But why do they need to know stuff about us?” Patrick asked.
 
 “I dunno. It’s just there’s something weird going on. Jeremiah and Alden are each running for an office against one of the twins, so maybe Ellis is telling stuff about the twins.”
 
“Like what? There is nothing to tell them about the twins.”
 
Just as Patrick finished, Mark and Matthew sat in the seat behind them. “What do you mean there’s nothing to tell about us?” Mark asked.
 
“I know something to tell,” Matthew said.
 
“Oh, yeah? What?” Patrick asked.
 
“That we like to tell dumb jokes.” That got Mark, Matthew, Will, and Patrick to laughing.
 
“Will you guys shut up,” Jeremiah said. “Some of us like to think on the way home.”
 
“Jeremiah thinking? This is big news.” Mark said, leaning over the back of the second row seat. “I didn’t know he could.”
 
“Jeremiah, the noisy one on this bus is you,” Mrs. Deaver said. “Be nice to your fellow students.”
 
“It’s always me that gets in trouble instead of those stupid twins,” Jeremiah said to Tony.
 
“Are you all signed up to run for office?” Mark asked Patrick and Will, leaning over the seat again.
 
“I know you are, Mister President,” Patrick said.
 
“Don’t forget that Nerf nuts over there is running.” Mark nodded slightly in Jeremiah’s direction, not that there was any doubt about who he was talking about.
 
“Jeremiah couldn’t get elected to clean toilets,” Will said.
 
“Hey, that’s pretty good,” Mark told him. “Did you make that up?”
 
“Nah, my dad says that about guys he doesn’t like. He’s usually wrong and they end up winning.”
 
“That won’t happen this time,” Mark said confidently.
 
“I’m going to run for vice-president,” Will said. “I already signed up.”
 
“You’ll be good,” Patrick said as he flashed his signature grin.
 
“Sergeant-at-arms is for me,” Matthew said. “Maybe I can punch somebody out for talking too much at a meeting.”
 
“Like the fifth grade senate is going to have a lot of meetings,” Mark told him.
 
“Hey, if you’re the president you can have meetings just to give me a chance to punch somebody out.”
 
When the bus arrived at Jeremiah’s house, Jeremiah and Tony pointedly ignored the other four fifth graders as they disembarked.
 
“Jeremiah is such an asshole,” Will said. “Ain’t no way he can win that election. Everybody likes you, Mark, and I don’t know anybody who likes Jeremiah.”
 
It wasn’t long until Will was trading fist bumps with his friends as the bus approached his house. “See you all in the morning.”
 
Mark took over Will’s vacated seat as the bus pulled away from its stop. “Did you sign up to run for student senate like you said?” he asked Patrick.
 
“Not yet.”
 
“Don’t do it.”
 
“Huh? Why not?”
 
“You’re way too good. Look what a good boss you were for the Posse. We got everything done on time thanks to you. I think you should run for vice-president.”
 
“But, I’m only nine,” Patrick protested.
 
“Nobody says you have to wear a sign that says how old you are,” Matthew said. “Mark’s right, you gotta do it.”
 
“But, Will is running and he’s our friend,” Patrick protested once again.
 
“So, just because Will is cool doesn’t mean you can’t be cooler than him.” Mark said.
 
“I don’t want to make him mad.”
 
“If he gets mad then I guess it means he isn’t that cool after all,” Mark said.
 
“Still, I’d rather just be in the senate.”
 
“You’d be the best veep, ever,” Mark said.
 
“Yep,” Matthew agreed. “Then this spring peeps on the train can be mooned by the Puget Academy fifth grade vice-president. Is that cool, or what?”
 
Patrick finally said he would think about it as the bus stopped at his house.
 
“Hey Grannana, we’re home,” Patrick yelled as the three boys roared into the kitchen.
 
“I would never have guessed, the way you three tiptoed in so silently,” the old lady said.
 
“You’re just messing with us, Grannana,” Mark said. The twins had become such a part of the household after school that they automatically took to calling Maxine, Grannana.
 
“Yeah, me and Mark are never quiet,” Matthew said.
 
“That is such shocking news,” Grannana said with a grin. “There’s chocolate milk and oatmeal raisin cookies on the table for you. Patrick, you save room for dinner.”
 
“Oh, cool, that means we don’t have to save room,” Matthew said as he skidded to the table and wolfed down an oatmeal raisin cookie.
 
“I don’t have to say as much to you two,” Maxine said. “I don’t recall ever seeing you when you weren’t hungry.”
 
Their plates of cookies were gone in a flash. Mark looked up with a grin and asked if she had more.
 
“More? More? He wants more?” Patrick said mockingly, taking a line from the musical “Oliver”.
 
“And he gets no more,” Maxine said. “Bottomless stomach or not, I want to remain in the good graces of his mother.” She looked at Matthew. “And that goes for you, too, young man.”
 
Patrick sang, “Food, glorious food,” when he caught sight of Maxine’s glare. “I better go change my clothes,” Patrick said meekly.
 
“And we better go watch him change his clothes,” Matthew said.
 
“You boys behave in there,” Maxine said, “or I’ll be coming after you with my broom.” Damn, but my grandson has a beautiful voice, she thought to herself.
 
“Only witches use brooms.” Matthew couldn’t hold back his laughter as he rose from his seat. Before he could react he felt the solid impact of a broom on his ample boy rump. “And Grannanas,” he screamed out, still laughing.
 
“You boys better believe it.” The three boys raced into the hall and then to Patrick’s bedroom.
 
“Fuck, that lady is fast with that broom,” Matthew said as he rubbed his ass cheeks. “And she’s got an arm on her.”
 
“Getting broomed is never fun,” Patrick said as he pulled off his polo shirt.
 
“Did you see we have full uniform day on Friday and then on Tuesday?” Mark asked as Patrick pulled off his pants.
 
“Both for assemblies,” Matthew said. “But wearing a necktie sucks no matter what, especially on Friday.” Friday was often casual day when a school t-shirt was appropriate dress.
 
“Are you going to be singing in the Tuesday assembly?” Mark asked.
 
Patrick surprised him and Matthew by saying, “I hope not.”
 
“I thought you liked to sing and I know you’re a good singer,” Matthew said.
 
“I do like to sing. But if I don’t sing on Tuesday, that means I’m singing in the two night assemblies.”
 
“Totally awesome,” Mark said. “I’m rooting for Neville to sing for us on Tuesday, then.”
 
Matthew noticed Patrick hadn’t bothered to put clothes on after hanging up his uniform pants. “You look good in those tighty-whiteys,” he said. “It’s cool you don’t have to dress around here.”
 
“We can be in our underpants at our house most of the time,” Mark said.
 
“But not as much as we used to because of our dumb sisters being dumber. They keep telling mom it grosses them out, and sometimes she listens to them.” Matthew said.
 
“I told them they can wear nothing but panties when we wear just our underpants,” Mark said.
 
“Yeah, and no bra so their tits hang out,” Matthew laughed.
 
“Yeah, like they even have tits,” Mark added which got all three boys to laughing.
 
“And forget naked Mondays,” Matthew said as the boys gained control of themselves “Our parents can come up with more lame excuses for putting something on, even if it’s underpants, than me and Markie can keep track of.”
 
“How much time do we have until our mom comes?” Mark asked. “And don’t call me Markie, Mattie,” he told Matthew.
 
“She should be in about ten minutes,” Patrick replied.
 
“Figures. We never seem to have time to eat the cookies and then give you a blow job,” Mark said.
 
“Yeah, but we don’t like passing up those cookies,” Matthew added. “I’m always hungry when I get here.” Since hormones were starting to drive the twins, their stomachs often took control of them.
 
“Maybe next time,” Patrick said. The three boys went to the living room to watch for the twins’ mother.
 
“At least you two had the good sense to keep your clothes on,” Maxine said to the twins.
 
“It’s too cold to go out there in your underwear,” Mark said.
 
“But wait until spring,” Matthew cackled as their mother drove into the driveway.
 
“Maybe another brooming is in order,” Maxine told them.
 
Mark and Matthew screamed out a loud, “NOOOO,” each holding both hands across his butt cheeks as they raced out of the front door, their wild laughter racing after them.
 

++++++++++++

 
Friday was a big day for the fifth graders at the Puget Academy. There was a great deal going on, starting with a morning assembly in the auditorium. For some, the day would be bigger than for others.
 
Patrick’s day started as a day of decision. He knew what his decision was going to be, but he wasn’t going to tell the twins unless they asked. He understood the twins well enough to know they would ask.
 
“Hey, Grannana,” Matthew said as he and Mark barged into the house through the kitchen door. Matthew gave her a big, tight hug accompanied by a large grin.
 
“You boys are getting big and strong,” Maxine said. “You have to remember that I’m an old lady.”
 
“Hey, I was holding back,” Matthew told her.
 
“How’s this for a hug?” Mark asked as he gave her a big bear hug without the big squeeze.
 
“Very sweet and very manly,” Maxine said.
 
Mark gave her a big smile and the boys went to find Patrick. They quickly found him in the dining room, finishing his bacon and eggs.
 
“Wow, Wombat is eating in his underpants,” Matthew said. “There’s a surprise.”
 
“What are you doing eating out here and not in the kitchen?” Mark asked.
 
“Grannana said she needed the table for something.” Patrick took his final bite and carried his dishes to the kitchen.
 
“I hope that’s not the same underpants we saw you in yesterday,” Mark said.
 
“That’s gross,” Patrick retorted.
 
“I’m just saying…”
 
The twins went with Patrick to his bedroom. As he dressed they pestered him with questions, including the big one. “Did you make up your mind to run for veep?” Mark asked.
 
That was the question he’d expected about the decision he’d made the night before. He had talked it over with his father and with Grannana before deciding. Both of them made him feel good about what he was going to say.
 
“Yeah, I’m going to do it. My dad says it’s always good to reach for a goal. I’ll tell Will it’s nothing against him.”
 
“That’s awesome, Patrick,” Mark said. “We’re both gonna win; you’re gonna be my veep.”
 
“And I will protect you as the sergeant-at-arms,” Matthew added.
 
Patrick gave Will the news of his decision to run against him for vice-president. Will was a bit taken aback at first, but ended up being gracious about the decision, especially after Patrick told him it was nothing personal.
 
“We’re cool, Patrick. I’m kind of glad you’re running for something, even if it’s against me. If Ellis can run, then so can you. I wonder if anybody else is running or if it’s just us two.”
 
“I don’t know,” Patrick said. “I hope it’s just us two.”
 
“I have an idea,” Mark said, leaning over the seat from behind as he and Matthew so often did when they wanted to keep what they had to say confidential.
 
“What?” Will and Patrick asked in unison.
 
Mark looked back quickly as if to check that Jeremiah and Tony were out of hearing range. “Don’t tell anybody you’re signing up,” he told Patrick, “except for Ellis.”
 
“Somebody has to be my second,” Patrick said.
 
“Me or Matthew will do it.” Any student signing up to run for a student council position needed to have a second go with him to the office when he registered. Nobody was sure why, except it was in the constitution. Most of the boys decided it was to prove that somebody could get at least one vote.
 
“So, I don’t get to tell Misha or Neville?”
 
“Tell Ellis before school starts. He’ll be the only one to know, except for Will, and I know he won’t tell. I bet a zillion dollars that Jeremiah will know by the end of lunch.” Patrick remembered that Mark thought Ellis was their information leak.
 
“I’ve been wondering how Jeremiah keeps knowing everything. I thought it was Neville telling him,” Will said. “And I won’t be telling anybody about Patrick,” he assured his friends.
 
“Me, too,” Mark said, “but now I think it’s Ellis.”
 
“And we were all kind of starting to like him.”
 
When the bus unloaded at school, Jeremiah grinned at his four fifth grade classmates. “See you later, girls.”
 
“I thought our school was boys only,” his shadow, Tony, said.
 
“What was that about?” Will asked after they passed.
 
“I think he knows we were talking about him,” Matthew said.
 
Before class started, Patrick made sure to say hello to Ellis. “I think I’m going to join you in running for office,” Patrick said.
 
“You’re going to run for treasurer?” Ellis asked. He knew he wouldn’t have a chance of winning against somebody as popular as Patrick.
 
“No, for veep.”
 
Ellis wished him luck. At morning break he sought out Alden. By lunch Alden had informed Jeremiah of what Ellis had told him. Jeremiah took some quick action as soon as he heard the news.
 
The program that morning was a one-act Christmas play put on by the North Lake High School drama department called “It’s a Wonderful Neverland.” The audience consisted of the students of the Puget Academy and the Annie Fuller Day School.
 
“Do you see her?” Mark asked after Mr. Jackson’s class took their seats in the auditorium.
 
“Yeah, there she is,” Matthew said as he spotted Madison, one of the girls they had met at the school Halloween Party.
 
“She is so fine,” Mark said.
 
“I wish we could sit with her.”
 
“She never called us or texted us and we gave her our phone number.”
 
“I texted her,” Matthew said, “but she never texted back either.”
 
“I don’t care, she’s still fine.”
 
The boys enjoyed the forty-minute play, but not enough to “have to put a necktie on for,” Matthew said as they returned to class.
 
“Madison was worth it, though,” Mark said.
 
“Do you think she saw us?”
 
“I’ll text her tonight and find out.” Which he did, but he never received a reply.
 
After eating lunch, Patrick went to the office and signed up to run for office.  Matthew went with him as his second. After signing up, he and Matthew went to the indoor play area, where Jeremiah accosted them.
 
“Hey, Patricia, I hear you’re gonna run for veep,” Jeremiah taunted.
 
“I am going to run,” Patrick said matter-of-factly, ignoring Jeremiah’s slight.
 
“So is Tony,” Jeremiah said, “just to make sure you don’t win. We can’t have girls winning elections.” Except for himself, Jeremiah was more concerned about who he didn’t want to win than who the winner would be. He wanted everybody in the Posse to lose. He was becoming obsessed with his dislike for the twins and their friends, in particular those friends who were part of the Puget Posse.
 
“Well, that proves it,” Matthew said as they quickly walked away from Jeremiah, “Ellis is the narc.”
 
“But why?” Patrick asked. “I like Ellis. I thought he was our friend.”
 
“I dunno, but I bet he’s not doing it because he wants to. He’s just the kind of dude Jeremiah and Alden like to pick on.”
 
“So what are they doing? If they beat up Ellis, they get kicked out of school.”
 
“I sure want to find out before they really mess him up.”
 
“Maybe they already did,” Patrick said. That was something that frightened him some. If Jeremiah and Alden messed up Ellis, they could also mess him up.
 
The last bit of news on Friday was the vote for the dioramas. Each fifth grade teacher made the announcement to their class just before the end of sixth period.
 
Mr. Jackson announced the top six finishers. The sixth and fifth place finishers were both from Mrs. McCann’s class. “In fourth place is the Fantastic Five.” That brought a rousing cheer. “In the third is the Jumping Kangaroos.” They were one of Mr. Jackson’s teams and the class once again cheered wildly and the members stood up and bowed.
 
The Puget Posse sat on the edge of their seats, wondering if one of their projects finished in the top two. “In second is the Puget Posse’s ski diorama.” That had Matthew, Neville, and Patrick standing up to take their bows. “And in first place,” Mr. Jackson paused a moment before saying, “the coal mine of the Puget Posse.” That brought one more big cheer, with Mark and Misha taking their bows.
 
“And that, gentlemen, gives our five teams the top four places this year. The X-Brains finished eighth, by the way, with an excellent diorama. You guys saw how good they all were. The voting was hard for us teachers, so I know it was hard for you. Great job by the entire class.”
 
“Mr. Jackson’s class is Number One,” Matthew shouted out, and that got the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
 
The final bit of news came during seventh period and involved Neville and Patrick. Mrs. Bailey called the two boys into the hall after the bell starting class rang.
 
“I told you I would have my decision for singing the solos, today.”
 
“Yes, ma’am,” Patrick said. He and Neville were both certain that the sound of their thudding hearts could be heard echoing off of the walls of the hall.
 
“You are both very talented singers. Two of the best I have ever had in class, which makes this a very difficult decision. Plus, you are both very nice, polite gentlemen.”
 
Just get on it with it, Neville thought, impatience taking him over.
 
“I have decided for Patrick to sing the two evening solos and for Neville to sing the solo for the school program. Congratulations to both of you.”
 
Neville gave Patrick a look that could melt steel as the two boys returned to the classroom. “I’m better,” he said once he was certain Mr. Bailey couldn’t hear them. Patrick tried not to listen to him, but his words hurt.
 
Of course somebody had to get the last word about the dioramas in on the way home. “You guys know you cheated,” Jeremiah said as the boys walked to the bus loading zone. “There’s no way you could be first and second without cheating.”
 
“Jeremiah, if you were twice as smart, you’d still be stupid,” Matthew said.
 
“Shut up.”
 
“I guarantee they didn’t cheat,” Will said, “so go climb back up in your monkey tree.”
 
“You can say what you want,” Jeremiah said, “but I know the truth, and I’ll make sure the whole fifth grade knows before the election. You guys are all going down.”
 
“Yeah, well, I could call you stupid, but that would be an insult to stupid people,” Mark shot back.
 
The talk died out when they boarded the bus. “Don’t listen to him,” Will said after he, Patrick, and the twins took their seats, “he’s just jealous of you guys.”
 
“I know, but he’s a sneaky liar and I don’t trust him.”
 
“Hey, Patrick, did you get the singing gig?” Matthew asked.
 
“I will be signing solo in the two evening concerts,” Patrick said.
 
“That totally kicks ass.” Mark squeezed Patrick’s shoulders. “I now have a big singing star for a friend.”
 
“What did Neville say?” Will asked.
 
“All he said was that he was better.”
 
“Neville really pisses me off, sometimes,” Matthew said. “I think I’m going to rip him a new one on Monday.”
 
“Rip him a new what?” Will asked.
 
“I don’t know. I just hear older kids say it, and it sounds good to me.”
 
The next week was the last one before winter break started. It seemed to fly by. Monday got off to a good start when Neville walked up to Patrick as he put his coat into his locker. “I hope you sing really well, Patrick.” That was as close as Neville could come to an apology for his snit on Friday. Patrick let the twins know that Neville didn’t need a new whatever it was they thought he needed.
 
The Christmas concert was a huge success on Tuesday. Neville was in top form when he sang his solo, and while he’d made peace with Patrick, he made sure his fellow Posse members knew how good he was by the quality of his performance.  
 
The parents and friends concert was that night, with Patrick singing solo. He brought tears to the eyes of his father, Uncle Ted, and Grannana, not to mention a few other adults in the audience. While Neville’s singing was very technically correct, Patrick was able to put beauty and emotion into his voice that Neville couldn’t quite touch. On Thursday night he sang at St. Luke’s Church. He had the same effect once again. The acoustics of the church seemed to enhance the beauty of his boy soprano even more.
 
The twins and their parents weren’t able to attend the Tuesday program, but they did attend on Thursday. Misha went with them and was overcome by the beauty and innocence in his friend’s voice.
 
“You were awesome last night,” Mark said when he and Matthew arrived at Patrick’s house the next morning. They were pleased to see that Patrick had gone back to wearing just his socks while eating breakfast.
 
“Thanks,” Patrick said, modestly. But then a little bit of ego took hold and he asked them if he was as good as Neville.
 
“Neville is really good and we told him that after he sang at the school program,” Matthew said.
 
“But, you were way better,” Mark finished.
 
Patrick smiled and put his dishes into the dishwasher. “Thanks,” he said again.
 
“And I bet you look better naked than he does,” Mark added.
 
“Yeah, because I can tell his ass is not near as nice as yours.” Patrick blushed a full body blush, which the twins didn’t fail to notice.
 
Not everything during that week was positive. Even though the election campaigning wouldn’t begin until January, Jeremiah and Alden used a couple of their foils to get the rumor mill started regarding the Posse. They cheated on their project was one of the rumors. Rumor had it that there were witnesses who heard the twins threaten Ellis because he was friends with Alden and Jeremiah.
 
“Is it true you said you’d beat up anybody who voted against you?” one boy from Mr. Nash’s class asked Mark in the hall on Friday morning.
 
“No, it’s a lie,” Mark said trying to keep from being irritated.
 
“I heard you beat kids up on your baseball team last summer and got kicked off the team for it,” the boy said. If Jeremiah had shown his face right then Mark would probably have punched him out.
 
“That’s not true either,” Mark said, even though the part about being kicked off of the team was.
 
“My dad told me that politicians always lie, that’s why I’m voting for Caleb. He’s not saying nasty things about everybody.” Caleb was a boy in Mr. Nash’s class who was also running for class president. He was a quiet, easy going boy, who was very athletic and much stronger than his laidback manner indicated.
 
The boy walked away before Mark could say anything. The campaign wasn’t supposed to start until January, and already Jeremiah and his friends were slinging mud. Mark had never felt helpless or intimidated by anybody. He was confident he could handle any person in any situation, yet Jeremiah was slowly eating into that self-assurance.
 
School would be out for vacation at noon, which was both good and bad. Jeremiah and Alden couldn’t inflict any more damage, but Mark wouldn’t be able to repair the damage already done.
 
One of the strengths of the twins was their ability to compartmentalize what was going on around them and not dwell on issues they could do nothing about. It was a strength many adults failed to ever achieve. Mark left his issues with Jeremiah at school for the time being and enjoyed being away from school and on vacation.
 
Saturday, the first day of vacation, was Mark and Matthew’s eleventh birthday. They each received I-Tunes gift certificates and the family went out to dinner at a seaside restaurant north of Seattle. Their major gifts would come on Christmas and on their half-birthday in June.
 
There was one “gift” they did want, and after the family prepared for bed, they snuck out into the bedroom hallway and knocked on Michelle’s door.
 
“I know who it is, so go away,” she said. “I want to sleep.”
 
“We know Megan is there with you,” Mark told her. “And besides, it’s our birthday so you have to be nice to us.”
 
“We’ve been nice to you all day and it wasn’t fun.”
 
“Just let us talk to you. We won’t take long.”
 
“Okay,” Michelle conceded, “but just for a minute.”
 
Mark and Matthew entered their sister’s room. They were correct about Megan being there as well. She was under the covers of the bed with Michelle. The bare shoulders of their twin sisters gave the boys a pretty good idea of what they were wearing and what they planned on doing together that night.
 
“You two might as well have the same bedroom like me and Mark,” Mark said. “You sleep together most of the time, anyway.”
 
“Just on weekends,” Megan corrected.
 
The boys were each wearing nothing but a t-shirt, which covered their privates. The girls didn’t miss the fact that the hem of each shirt was poking out in the region of the boys’ groins.
 
“Since we’re eleven now, that means we’re grown up just like the boys in your classes that you keep telling us about,” Mark said.
 
“Yeah, and that means we can be really horny,” Matthew added.
 
“Which means you can give us blow jobs,” Mark said.
 
“Which would be a super awesome birthday present,” Matthew continued.
 
“And it would be free.”
 
“You two are sex fiends,” Megan told them.
 
“And besides, those boys are all twelve now,” Michelle said, letting the Things know they would never catch up.
 
“Yeah, just like you,” Matthew answered. “We know you two are naked and were going to do stuff.”
 
“We were nice and didn’t even come into your room naked,” Mark said.
 
“Maybe after you give us blow jobs we could sleep with you,” Matthew added. “It would be the best birthday present ever.”
 
Mark lifted up his t-shirt, exposing his hairless pubescent boner. “See, I’m horny just like the boys at your school. And my dick is getting bigger in case you haven’t noticed.”
 
“It makes it better to suck on,” Matthew said.
 
“First, we are not naked,” Michelle said. “We have panties on.”
 
“Then what are those things on the floor?” Mark asked, causing both girls to blush. “You don’t need to lie to us. We don’t care if you do sex together; me and Mattie do it all the time.”
 
“We don’t want to suck your little things tonight because you’re both so immature,” Michelle said.
 
“See us at your half-birthday,” Megan said, “we might do it then.” Realizing what she’d said, she held her hand to her mouth as Michelle glared at her.
 
Mark dropped his t-shirt back down. “Okay, we heard what you said. We’ll see you then, if not before.”
 
“Now me and Mark are going to sixty-nine and wish it was you two sucking us.”
 
“Or Madison,” Mark said.
 
“Yeah, Madison would be cool.”
 
The boys returned to their room to enjoy birthday sex with each other.
 
The Posse did something between Christmas and New Year’s Day that helped with the bonding of the group and parted some of the curtain of bad feeling that surrounded Neville. The twins invited the other three members to go to the mountains with them to go inner-tubing. All three accepted.
 
The twins were avid skiers and also enjoyed snowboarding, but Scott and Kristy convinced them that inner-tubing at the hill near the mountain chalet they often stayed at would work on this trip. They ascertained that none of the other boys had ever skied or snowboarded. In fact, Neville and Misha had never been in the mountains when they were covered with winter snow.
 
For the first time, the five Posse boys did an overnight together. Kristy put together a big pot of spaghetti with lots of garlic toast and wasn’t surprised to see it all disappear, although her own boys seemed to inflict more than their share of the damage.
 
While the twins’ bedroom had enough space for the five of them, they all agreed it would be more fun to sleep in the family room where all of them would have sleeping bags laid out on the floor.
 
It would be nice to say that this sleepover completely set the tone for how some of their subsequent ones would go, but in many ways the boys were surprisingly shy. The fact that they didn’t play truth-or-dare or jump into each other’s sleeping bags didn’t mean that a few doors weren’t opened.
 
They stripped down to their underwear after dinner and spent their time in the family room. They started a game of Risk. It was the first time Misha had played the game, and he fell in love with it. He not only loved the fact that it was a strategic game, but he was taken by the fact that it could also be a game of subterfuge.
 
Misha used a combination of his strategic skills and lucky rolls of the dice to win the game. “Damn, Wolverine, are you sure you never played this before?” Mark asked.
 
“I am very sure. But it’s like chess with lots of strategy.”
 
“Misha is now the Czar of the world,” Mark said.
 
“Yep, he’s the mad Russian Czar,” Patrick said.
 
“Maybe we should call him the Czar instead of the Wolverine.”
 
“We are still animals,” Misha said, unaware of the irony in what he was saying, “so I will stay being an animal. I am still the Wolverine.”
 
“Wasn’t it you guys’ birthday a few days ago?” Patrick asked.
 
“Yep,” Matthew answered, “we’re eleven now.”
 
“And our dicks are bigger than when we had the challenge,” Mark added.
 
“Yep, we measured.”
 
“Maybe we all should measure,” Mark said.
 
“I knew this would become about being naked and sex,” Neville said. “You said it wouldn’t,” he told the twins.
 
“No, we said you wouldn’t have to do anything,” Mark told him.
 
“How about if we just show off our weenies, just so we can kind of tell how big we all are,” Matthew said.
 
“We never got to see everybody’s at the challenge,” Patrick said. He was much more interested in cocks and sex at age nine than Neville seemed to be at age ten.
 
“As long as I do not have to do anything else,” Neville said, making his first big concession in the sexual byplay of the team. Deep inside, he was wishing more would happen, but afraid of what everyone would think if he suddenly became interested in sexual things. But, he and Dylan were sexually active two or three times a week, and he and Cody had now jerked each other off twice. He just was not yet ready to expand his interests to his schoolmates.
 
“Fair enough,” Patrick said, who became the first to pull down his underpants and show off his junk. His stubby little cocklet was rock hard. “I don’t think I’ve grown much yet.” Misha was almost drooling as he stared at Patrick’s smooth pubic area.
 
“You’re only nine,” Mark said, acting the role of the grownup, mature boy. “Mine didn’t grow when I was nine.”
 
Mark then pulled down his undies. His boner was hard and throbbing with his heartbeat, its head red and seemingly begging for action. Matthew followed suit and the brothers had themselves on display.
 
“What do you think? You guys saw us naked then, and since then, too. Have we grown bigger?”
 
Everyone agreed they probably had, although nobody could tell for sure. That left Misha and Neville to show their wares. Neville looked at Misha, and, reading his mind, Misha nodded. The two yanked their briefs down together.
 
“Wow, Neville, nice boner,” Mark said. He meant it sincerely, especially since he wasn’t sure that Neville was capable of springing one. Since both boys were uncut, they garnered a little extra attention.
 
The boys decided to measure themselves, so that the next time they showed off to each other they would know for certain if their boy cocks had grown. Mark wished he could be the official measurer, but in deference to Neville they each measured themselves.
 
Mark and Matthew had grown by a quarter inch. Patrick was the same as he’d been at the challenge, still under three inches. Misha was the same as well, but he still impressed everyone with his length in the four-inch neighborhood. Neville grinned when he measured his.
 
“What are you smiling about?” Mark asked.
 
“I am bigger than Patrick,” he answered.
 
“Way to go, Neville,” Patrick said. All four of the other boys suspected that Neville was cheating so that he wouldn’t be the smallest.
 
The boys pulled up their underpants, and time was spent peeing and brushing and taking care of pre-sleep business. Before crawling into their sleeping bags, the twins compromised on their promises to Neville by kicking off their boxers, but keeping their t-shirts on. Patrick and Misha followed suit. The five boys were soon in their sleeping bags. All five of them knew what the rustling noise in Mark and Matthew’s sleeping bags was, and what the whispered moans had been about, but none of them made any comments.
 
Even though not much happened the night of their first full sleepover, a door had been opened a crack, never to close.
 
The day at Stevens Pass was a blast for everybody. They’d gone inner-tubing, had snowball fights, wrestled in the snow, made snowmen, and had a great time they wouldn’t forget. Nobody thought of Neville’s aloofness, or Patrick’s background, or the twins’ off-the- wall personalities. All they thought about was that the five of them could have a lot of fun together. For the first time, Neville was honestly happy he hadn’t been allowed to change teams.
 
The twins’ parents rented the chalet for the day. It consisted of four private sections with a living room, bathroom, and kitchen. It was not set up for overnight stays, although many renters laid out sleeping bags and air mattresses. The family rented another chalet which had bedrooms when they came up to the pass for their weekend skiing trips. They left the chalet by three, an hour or so before darkness, and were home by four-thirty.
 
That night, as they slept in their own beds, the five boys relived the last two days. The day at the pass had been very special in helping them form a bond of friendship, but the night before at the twins’ house may have been equally important.
 
All of them knew that school would start on Wednesday, January second. Vacation had helped the Puget Posse bond, and the starting of school would quickly put that bonding to the test.
 
Next: The New Year