Chapter 1: Crossing Paths
Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Consensual,
Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1: Crossing Paths - Still unsettled, Errol continues to wander around the country. He offers a ride to a fellow traveler, and while they have little in common, in many ways, they have similar needs. Pursuing their own ghosts, they meet, split up, and meet again. Each in his own way, they challenge the line between lust and love.
A fully stuffed backpack rested on the ground between his knees as the young man sat on a concrete retainer wall outside the restrooms at a highway rest stop watching the travelers come and go. The day was warm enough that he was dressed lightly in khaki shorts, a black T-shirt and hiking boots. A Pittsburgh Pirates ball cap was pulled low over his eyes.
It was the men he was especially interested in, more specifically, men traveling alone. Women, families and couples didn't suit his purpose.
Luke was a good-looking kid, maybe five-ten, slight of build. He had that appealing combination of jet-black hair and pale blue eyes set in a still boyish face. He was in need of a haircut, but he wasn't unkempt. He took pains to always be clean and presentable, since his livelihood pretty much depended on it. First impressions were everything. There was enough of an air of innocence about him that most people felt an attraction and an intuitive trust, a quality he'd cultivated and learned to use very effectively.
This side of I-94 was westbound, and this particular rest stop was somewhere between Milwaukee and Madison. His ultimate goal was Seattle, but he was in no great hurry to get there since it was early June and he had the whole summer before he'd have to find indoor shelter. He didn't know anyone in Seattle; he just wanted to see it because he hadn't been there before. That, and he was a Sonics fan.
He might be barely eighteen years old, but he'd already traveled in most of the contiguous forty-eight since leaving home at the age of fifteen. He was fortunate to have a good working brain, intelligent enough to avoid most of the traps that the majority of runaways fall into within days, weeks, or months of striking out on their own. Luke was a smart kid, and now, after nearly three years of fending for himself, he was street smart.
Early on, he'd met up with some fellow runaways living on the streets of Pittsburgh who took him into their group and showed him the ropes, taught him how he could almost always get what he wanted if he played his cards right. He learned early that a smooth tongue and a little sex got you a lot further than a life of violence and petty thievery. Since then, he'd practiced his craft to the point that he was a master at reading people, identifying almost at a glance who might be a good mark and likely to give him what he wanted.
Sometimes he made a mistake and misread someone's look or body language. When that happened, he just apologized for the "misunderstanding" and moved off to look for another possibility. Once in a while he got a fat lip for his troubles, but that was rare. Once, he was arrested for solicitation, but he refused to give his name, and he managed to just walk out of the police station when the cop that was writing him up was momentarily distracted. So he hadn't even been booked, and that meant he didn't have a juvenile record. However, now that he was eighteen, any new arrests would be as an adult.
On this particular trip, he'd caught a ride on I-90, just outside Cleveland, then I-94 from Chicago, and he'd managed to get this far with only seven rides - seven rides and over three hundred bucks in his stash. His last ride from Chicago had not only gladly paid the service fee, he even bought breakfast and lunch.
Most of his rides were middle age married men looking for a little strange on the side. Maybe young girls were what they fantasized about, but young men were acceptable fare when it came to casual sex. Traveling alone and away from "the old ball and chain", many were eager to shell out fifty bucks for a good blowjob. Sometimes, they'd even shell out another twenty or so to return the favor. He'd even screwed a few willing souls, but he never allowed his own butt to be penetrated. The kid knew that very few of those men would have ever admitted to having a gay bone in their body. He loved that pun.
As he waited, patiently soaking up the late afternoon sun, his eye caught a dark blue Volvo pulling into a parking space. The guy who got out was young, probably mid to late twenties. He locked the car door, stretched his back muscles and came up the stone steps toward the restrooms.
The kid couldn't really get a read on the guy, but he looked like he might be a possibility. He leaned back on the wall, assumed a relaxed pose and flashed a boyish grin at the man as he walked by. The guy smiled back and dipped his head, but he didn't so much as slow his pace as he walked right on by and into the building.
Still, the fact that he'd even acknowledged the kid at all said something, and a younger guy like that would be a welcome change from his usual fare of overweight forty and fifty-something men muddling through their mid-life crises. There was no way to tell if the guy was gay, but if he was, then the score would probably be that much easier. He got up from the bench, hitched his backpack over his shoulder, and wandered down the steps to stand near the Volvo. Ten minutes later, the owner walked out of the restrooms and returned to his car.
As he approached, the kid assumed an innocent guise and said, "Uh, excuse me sir, is there any chance you could give me a ride? I'm headed for Seattle."
"Seattle, huh? Well, I guess that depends."
"On whether you're just asking for a ride, or if you plan on trying to hustle me for money as well. Looked to me like you were trolling for tricks up there by the restrooms. If that's your game, then I'm not your man."
The guy's blunt accusation caught the kid flat-footed, and his clumsy denial didn't help his cause. "No! No, I wasn't! Honest, I'm just asking for a ride."
"What's your name?"
It was so unlike Luke to get flustered, and he couldn't account for it. "My name? Uh, Lucas. Luke Marquette. Why?"
"I like to know who I'm talking to, Luke. My name's Errol Hansen. If you want a ride, I have a couple of conditions."
"First, lift your shirt and turn around so I can make sure you're not carrying any weapons."
"Are you kidding me? Jesus, mister, I'm not a thief!"
"Good! Then you won't mind doing as I asked."
"Shit, man, just forget I asked!"
"Fine by me. Have a nice day, Luke."
Errol backed out of the slot and drove around to the back of the rest area to park under a tree and take a short nap before continuing west.
Life, especially life lived on the edge, is full of risks and disappointments, and less than an hour later, Lucas (Luke) Marquette was sitting on his backpack on the side of the highway several miles west of the rest stop with his thumb out. He didn't look quite so sweet and innocent now because he had a swollen nose and a bruise on the side of his face. Unseen but even more painful were the bruises and abrasions on his back and his ribs. He had no wallet, no money, nothing but his pack.
The ride he'd picked up ten minutes after Hansen drove off turned out to have plans for him that didn't include sex in any way, shape or form. A few miles down the highway, the driver agreed to the fifty bucks and found an exit ramp, driving into a wooded area for a little privacy. He asked the kid to follow him into the trees, sounding very eager to get his pants down, but Luke had no sooner dropped to his knees in front of the guy, than a fist caught him on the side of the face. He went down and took several kicks to the ribs and back. As he lay there holding his sides, gasping for breath and just barely conscious, the burly, middle age man went through his pockets and took every dime he had.
Luke had to be thankful for small favors, because the man left his pack and it's contents strewn over the ground after rifling through it and finding his stash of cash, but nothing else of value.
It was a good half hour before Luke gathered up his belongings and managed to get back onto the interstate. He thought about flagging down a state patrol officer and reporting it, but he knew there was no way he was ever going to get his stuff back, and the less he had to explain to the police, the better. He had to accept the beating and the robbery as another one of life's hard lessons. It wasn't his first, and it probably wouldn't be his last.
He hadn't been sitting there for more than a few minutes when a passing driver pulled over a hundred feet down the highway and waited. Pain shot through Luke's battered body as he hoisted the heavy pack onto his shoulder and limped toward his next ride. He didn't even recognize the Volvo when the driver got out and opened the trunk for him to toss in his pack. In fact, it still didn't register until the guy said, "Jesus, Luke, looks like you propositioned the wrong guy."
Recognition set in as he focused on the man's face. "Oh, it's you. I guess you're gonna tell me I got what I deserved."
"Why would I do that? I don't like seeing people get hurt, even when they bring it on themselves. Now, let's try that shirt lifting thing again."
Luke shook his head and complied, cringing from pain as he pulled up his black tee and turning in a circle.
Errol saw the damage and said, "Jesus, kid, what'd he use on you, a baseball bat?"
"Damn! I wonder if we shouldn't stop in the next town and find a hospital."
"Nah, I don't think anything's broken. At least I hope not. Besides, the sonofabitch took my wallet and my money. I couldn't pay for an aspirin, let alone any medical treatment."
"Okay, I'll take your word for it - for now. But if you start coughing up blood, you're going to the emergency room, pronto! Now climb into the front seat and lean it back a few degrees."
"Sure. Um, thanks for stopping, uh ... what was your name again?"
"Errol. Now get in and let's be on our way. I've got some Tylenol in the glove box that might help with the pain."
A couple of hours later, they were through Minneapolis. It was dark, and Errol was starting to feel hungry. He looked over at the kid and saw he was snoozing. He knew Luke needed rest, but he might need some food as well. He reached over and shook his shoulder. "Luke! Hey, Luke!"
"Huh? Wha... ?"
"I'm gonna get off the highway and find a restaurant. Do you think you can handle some food?"
"No, I don't think so. I'm feeling about halfway nauseous as it is. Maybe some tea or something. Um, I told you the guy took all my money, so could you spot me?"
"Sure. I'll get you some hot tea and a few crackers. That might settle your stomach. I really think you should see a doctor. You're growing a hell of a shiner there, and I'm worried about those bruises over your ribs."
Luke took a deep breath, catching at the pain. "The Tylenol helped, but if it gets worse, I'll let you know. Man, that asshole really stomped me good! And please don't say 'I told you so.'"
"The thought never crossed my mind. Looks like a restaurant up ahead. I'll get everything to go, unless you think the smell of food is gonna make you puke."
"No, I'll be okay. If I do have to heave, I'll give you plenty of warning. I sure hope I don't puke, 'cause it's gonna hurt like hell if I do."
Errol ordered a grilled ham and cheese for himself, tea and crackers and a cup of chicken noodle soup for his passenger. Luke couldn't handle the soup, so Errol drank it down with his sandwich.
Another hour on the road and he pulled into a rest stop. He helped Luke out of the car and up the steps to the men's restroom to pee. As they walked very slowly back to the car, Errol asked, "Was your pee okay? I mean, did it look like there was any blood in it? Because if there was, that would mean your kidney might be damaged, and that would earn you a trip to the emergency room."
"Nah, man, it was fine. Thanks for asking."
Instead of getting back onto the highway, Errol found a deserted spot in the parking lot, hoping to sleep for a few hours. They both needed the rest. He opened his window about halfway, let his seat drop way back, and got comfortable. Luke did the same. Errol looked over at the kid and said, "I'm not lecturing, but there's gotta be a better way for a gay man to make a living than hustling tricks at rest stops."
Luke opened his eyes and returned the look. "I'm not gay. I hustle guys because it's a lot easier and pays a lot better than trying to hustle women. Plus I don't get charged with sexual assault or attempted rape." He turned his head back to stare through the sunroof. "Besides, I don't know any other way to make money, other than stealing or selling dope on street corners. I haven't stooped that low yet."
"Yeah? Well I guess low is in the perception of the beholder. How long have you been doing this?"
"Maybe three years; since I left home, anyway."
"Really? How old were you when you left home?"
"Shit! So you're not even close to finishing high school or anything."
"Nope. Don't see that happening now."
"Well don't write it off. If you want it badly enough, you can make it happen."
"Thanks for your concern and the pep talk, but I've already made my life among the downtrodden. What's that old saying, "needs must?" I'm too much of a realist to hope society will scoop me up and turn me into a productive contributor. I may be young, but I've been around enough to know that that's not the way the world operates."
Errol thought about that for a couple of minutes. "Well, I'll just say two things to you, Luke. One: The way you express yourself tells me you're already a couple of steps ahead of the average street hustler, and two: Your dead wrong if you think there aren't a lot of folks out there who'd bend over backward to help you if you gave them a chance."
Luke looked back at him. "You sayin' you're one of those people?"
"I might be. As long as you don't try to seduce me."
Luke laughed and wished he hadn't. "Fuck you, dude!"
"I'd rather you didn't try."
Errol slept until daylight and awoke to Luke's coughing. The kid was sitting upright, covering his mouth with his hand. There was bloody saliva dripping from his chin.
Errol brought his seat back up to driving position and said, "Okay, that's it, Luke. You're going to a hospital." This time, there was no argument.
They were several miles down the interstate before he saw a blue H sign. He took the ramp, followed the signs into a small town, and then to a small, single story hospital. He drove around back to the emergency entrance and found the door locked. He rang the buzzer and pounded on the door until a nurse finally opened up.
He explained what had happened, and suggested she call in whatever doctor served as their emergency room physician. She gave him one of those looks, and told him to help his friend into the examining room. When she saw the bloody sputum and the bruises on Luke's side and back, she shared Errol's sense of urgency. By the time the doc arrived, she'd already called in the X-ray technician and had blood drawn for the lab work.
Luke explained to the nurse that he'd been robbed and he didn't have any money to pay for treatment. She insisted it wasn't an issue, that in fact, it would be illegal for the hospital to refuse emergency care. No more was said about it.
An hour later, the attending physician found Errol sitting in the waiting room. "Are you the guy that brought in the kid?"
"Yeah, Errol Hansen. How's Luke doing?"
"Well, he took quite a beating. He has a couple of broken ribs and a badly contused lung, and that's why he's coughing up blood. So far, his urine is clear. I think he'll do okay, but I want to keep him in for a couple of days to watch his progress. If he deteriorates, we'll have to ship him to a trauma center. Are you any relation to him?"
"No, not at all. He was hitchhiking and I picked him up on the interstate. He told me what happened and I suggested he see a doctor. He refused until this morning when he started coughing up blood."
"Well, you're to be commended, Errol. Good Samaritans are unfortunately all too uncommon these days. Anyhow, Luke wants to see you before we take him to his room."
Luke was sitting upright to facilitate his breathing, dressed now in a hospital gown and with an IV line in his left arm. He looked pale and tired.
He raised his hand in greeting as Errol entered the room. "I guess they're gonna keep me for a couple of days. I just wanted to say thanks before you took off. Actually, I was surprised when the nurse told me you were still here."
"Yeah, well I could hardly leave without knowing how you were doing. So now that I know you'll live, I should probably be on my way." He stuck out his hand and said, "Good luck to you Luke. I really hope your life gets better."
Luke took the hand and squeezed it. Tears flooded his eyes, and with a catch in his voice, he said, "I wish you'd been around way back when I ran away from home. I could have used a good friend to kick my ass and steer me in a better direction."
"Well, you already found yourself an ass kicker, but I doubt he was much interested in your future." Errol patted his shoulder. "You're young, Luke. There's plenty of time to get it right. But you know what? I'd sure like to be on your e-mail list. I'd definitely like to know how you're doing. Would you do that if I gave you my e-mail address?"
"Of course I would, if I owned a computer or a smart phone."
"Computers are everywhere, Luke. Any library will be hooked to the Internet, so there's no excuse. I'm a pretty mobile kind of guy, but I do have a MacBook and an e-mail account. I'm gonna continue on west, probably to somewhere in Montana. I expect to get an update from you within a few days, okay?" He wrote his e-mail address on a scrap of paper and pressed it into Luke's hand.
"Sure, I'll find a way. Thanks again, Errol. You're a rare breed."