"Thanks Jeff, I'm concerned. Kids are saying mean things about you."
"Yeah, Alex told me too. No one has the courage to tell me to my face."
"They will, when they can gang up on you."
"Ya think. Maria, I don't know if I can handle that."
"Jesus will be with you."
"Yeah. This Jesus stuff is sinking in. Jesus is God's Son. God is a team, a team of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A love triangle that works. Yeah, God is by my side, but he's the reason I'm in this mess."
"Remember what Joshua said."
"The man who interpreted after you spoke in tongues."
"What did he say?"
"Trust God, because he knows what he's doing."
"Yeah! That's a no-brainer. How easy I forget."
When they get to Maria's home, they kiss and hug on the front lawn. Out of nowhere someone barks, "No smooching in front of my house."
A startled Jeff turns, then laughs, "Jose, you're gonna pay someday."
Jose kisses Jeff on each cheek, "Thanks for lighting a fire in my heart Sunday."
"I'd like to take credit, but that was a God thing."
"For sure. My friends caught the fire too."
"Totally awesome! I'll see you."
After more hugging and kissing with his love dove, Jeff heads for home. On the way, he overhears, "Hey, there's dragon-tongue himself."
Another boy calls, "Hey Jeff, come here," but Jeff pretends he doesn't hear. So the six boys swagger on an intercept course.
One razzes, "Hey Jesus freak. Nice halo."
Another scorns, "Got no words for us now, dumb dork? What else do you do with that tongue?
Another scoffs, "Yeah, he's so faggotronical, wetting another noodle every day."
"So poofter, can you repeat that baby talk? Come on Jeffairy."
Jeff shoots silent prayers to heaven as the six boys surround him. The biggest boy taunts, "I ran out of toilet paper. Could I borrow your tongue, oh great grundle licker?"
Jeff finds himself walking face to face with this local linebacker, hugging him, and softly saying, "God will meet all your needs." Jeff continues home without another word said.
16 TAME FLAME, SHAME GAME
Fred comments, "Thanks, Sean for letting me go swimming in your pool."
"You're welcome dude!"
"I can't believe my dad's gonna be in your wedding! He used to hate you."
"I can't say I had a good first impression of him either!"
"Yeah, he told me about that."
Totally surprised, "Oh really! I didn't think he would dare. He must trust you a lot."
"I never thought about it that way. I guess so."
"You don't seem bothered about finding out about your dad's distained desires."
"Oh, I knew for a long time."
"Really? Are we on the same page?"
Getting out of the pool, "Yeah. It used to hurt me that he wouldn't look at me the way he looked at other boys. I thought he loved everybody but me. That hurt so bad. I've tried everything to get him to love me."
"That's quite a surprise to me but I think I understand. But somewhere alone the way you must have heard horrible things people would say about adults sexually attracted to children."
Sitting next to Sean, "That never bothered me. I knew my dad never would molest a kid. I still wanted him to look at me like that."
"What about now?"
"I just wish anybody would look at me like that!"
Sean laughs, "That's not what I mean! But don't worry--somebody's gonna see how special you are and want you in that special way!
"I pray for that everyday."
"I meant to ask if you still want your dad to look at you that way."
"Oh, I guess not. I know now how much he really loves me. That just flips me out!"
Sean gives Fred a tender hug, "It looks like Jeff's finished with his chores. I'll leave the two of you alone."
Wiping a teardrop from his eye, "Thanks Sean!" ... Hey Jeff, let's go in the pool!"
"Hey big guy, I'm in the mood."
As Jeff heads for the pool, "Jeff, you gotta get a bathing suit first."
"Who needs a bathing suit?"
"You mean Sean let's you, uh, you know, skinny dip!"
"Yup, I taught him how."
"God's gonna strike you with a bolt of lightning. Yeah, I hear he already did. It's cool how you stood up to the fang gang."
"Thanks, Fred. Let's take it off."
"Slow down! I can't without my dad's permission."
"OK, I'll call him."
"Uh, no, don't bother."
Sensing Fred's discomfort, "Good. Strip naked."
Sheepishly, "My bathing suit's wet already. Why take it off?"
"If you're scared, say you're scared!"
"You got me super pissed.... OK, I'm scared shitless."
Compassionately, "What's scary to you, Fred?"
Feeling helpless, "I don't know?"
"Do you shower with clothes on?"
"So you don't want me to see you naked?"
Sighing, "I guess not."
"Fred, it's no big deal to me. I can see it is to you and I respect that. I usually swim naked or in my undies. What do you want me to do?"
Relieved, "You're underwear are fine."
"OK," as Jeff drops his shorts. Jeff sees Fred cower in fear. "What's wrong good buddy?"
"Nothing, Last one in is a rotten egg!" Both dart into the pool. Suddenly Fred seems to be himself again.
They play basketball with a floating hoop. Jeff's no competition for Fred, but they have lots of fun anyhow. When Jeff gets out of the pool, Fred cringes in pain that he cannot hide. "Fred, there you go again. Please tell me what's wrong."
Breaking down in tears, "I'm jealous as hell!" Jeff quickly jumps back into the pool, putting his arm around Fred. Fred cries harder. Jeff says nothing, but continues holding Fred. "I'm such a deek. Girls go wild over you and don't know I exist," still crying a bit. "Seeing you in your skimpy wet underwear, your urkel-tight underwear, makes me feel like a total loser. I wish I could pop my stomach! Or move some of it to where it counts."
"Well, you're a super friend to me. If you start feeling OK about your body, you'll probably get yourself a girlfriend."
"That's what it took for me!"
"How could you not feel good about your perfect body!"
"One kid's trash is another kid's treasure."
Fred gives Jeff a hug, "Thanks, you're way cool.... But I still don't believe you."
"Even some models feel devastated by the slightest flaw. If they don't get over it, they hurt their career. Then they blame the flaw for the problem. The one's that feel good about themselves are the one's that move ahead."
"Makes sense. But what flaw did you possibly see in yourself?"
Jeff hangs his head, "It's embarrassing.... My dick."
"Really! But that's the point. We gotta get over whatever flaw we think we have."
"OK, but don't skirt around this. What could you possibly think was wrong with your perfect pecker?"
Not wanting to answer, "My head is small compared to the rest of my dick. Don't you dare repeat that to anyone."
"You're serious!" Straight-faced, "You have a serious problem."
Laughing, "Cute, Fred. So are you ready to get naked?"
"It's a great way to feel better about your body. Just strip while you're in the water."
"Well.... I don't know."
"You think to much. Don't worry about it. Some other time. I gotta ask my dad something. Why don't you shower and get dressed?"
When Jeff finishes, he sees Fred in the pool yet, so he walks over. When Fred sees Jeff coming, his face turns beet red. Quickly he fumbles around in the water. "Now what, Fred?"
Full of shame, "I took my bathing suit off."
"Good for you!"
"It felt OK until you came back."
"Freddy spaghetti! Don't worry, be happy!"
Flustered, "I can't help it, Jeff."
"I know. Hand me your bathing suit."
"I have it on again."
"So, take it off."
"I don't know, Jeff."
"Don't think. Just do it." Surprisingly, Fred complies, turning red again. "Good, now hand me your bathing suit."
"You won't give it back if I do."
"Trust me." As Fred freezes, "Just do it, buddy." Fred complies, but panic runs through his whole body. "Take a slow deep breathe, buddy." Eventually Fred gets the hang of it. "Now look me in the eyes." Very reluctantly, Fred slowly raises his eyes, briefly exchanging eye contact. "That was great, Fred! Do it again--longer." With determination Fred does, breaking down in quiet tears as he holds eye contact.