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Working for the Railroad © January 2018 by Kenn Dahll

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Table of Contents

Working for the Railroad

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Working for the Railroad

By: Kenn Dahll

Chapter One

By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, Five Points in New York City

was an overcrowded, filthy, hotbed of violent crime.

Back in the summer of 1872, us kids gave little thought to the dangers lurking around every corner in Five Points on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Daylight mugging, pickpocketing, flagrant prostitution, even gang shootings were irrelevant as me and my buddy, Giuseppe, who I called Joe, played our own version of ‘kick the can’, more like a one-on-one soccer farce on Mulberry Street. Though he and I were among the few Italians in a neighborhood notorious for its violent Irish thugs, nothing could deprive us of the pleasure to be gained from using an elbow to successfully block your opponent and reaching your end of the block in control of a badly dented tin can previously containing beans. Back and forth from Cross Street to Bayard Street we ran after each other and the elusive can, sending dust flying until it became plastered to our sweat-soaked and torn clothing.

“Nico!” I heard the dreaded call loud and clear from a block away.

“Darn it,” I complained to Joe. “Mama wants me to help her with some chore or other. I gotta go. See you when I’m done with her.”

“Yeah, getting late anyhow, my ma will be calling for me soon.”

We parted and each headed for the tenement called home. My family lived in three rooms on the top floor of a six-story walk-up on Worth Street and Joe’s was at the bend in Mulberry. As I crossed Worth Street to the entry of our building, I spied several young Irishmen gathered at the southern tip of the triangle formed by Mulberry, Worth, and Cross Streets. From their lively gestures, I guessed they were having a heated discussion about something they deemed important, but of which I wanted no part.

“Thank the lord you got here safely,” Mama hugged me tight to her well-padded bosom. “Your Papa left work early to bring news of a possible riot by the Irish newspaper boys, you know, the ones hawking dailies on every corner. Someone has them all riled up about being mistreated by their bosses.” Although newspapers had just become big business in the city, already the young boys responsible for their distribution were being taken advantage of. “You better stay in for the rest of the day. I fear there will be violence in the streets.”

“Aw, Mama, I can be careful. Cain’t I go out if I promise to stay on the front stoop?”

“You better keep your promise. If anything happens to you it will be bed without dinner young man.”

I hurried down the stairs and sat on the steps from which I could see the number of lads was increasing as was the volume of their speeches. Joe lived beyond Mama’s restriction so I entertained myself observing the developing scene. One taller newsboy, an Irish kid I knew named Sean O’Grady, appeared to be their leader. He had been in my class the last time I attended school, a few months ago in the seventh grade, and was expelled for punching a teacher. I thought his punishment was unfair, after all the teacher had called him a “Mick”, a reprehensible slur to a proud Irishman. I would probably do the same if a teacher called me a “dago” or “wop.”

Sean was tall for his age, one year older than my almost thirteen years, but he had flunked a grade so we are in the same class. He was strikingly handsome, even with the usual grime from trying to make a living hawking papers on the city streets. His shaggy light brown hair gave him a slightly feral appearance, offset by amazingly good teeth for someone raised amid the poverty of Five Points. Bright blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight sat above high cheeks adorned with clusters of freckles. The final touch was a body comparable to one of the Greek statues of attractive young men in a museum. My childhood in an extended Italian family was marked by a lack of warmth. Everybody working so hard, Papa in the warehouse, Mama taking in laundry, and my older sisters in the garment factories to make ends meet left no time for emotional support. I imagined, How nice it would feel to be embraced by such a demi-god, and hugging him back. I bet he is as sexy in the same condition as the statues−naked?

Damn! I knew Farther Russo at The Church of the Transfiguration would scold me for thinking of another guy in that manner, telling me it was a mortal sin and I could go to hell for it. But, Sean was attractive and I could not help myself, especially when, due to the muggy heat, he removed his stained shirt to reveal a chest a lot more muscular than mine, with a patch of light reddish brown hair−something I definitely lacked−between two small rosy peaks perched like cherries atop the whipped cream on an ice-cream sundae. Of course, my description was based on a drawing advertising the soda fountain at the corner drugstore. Judging from the cheers erupting from the crowd of young men, too resounding to be simply the excitement of an impending battle, I was not the only person captivated by his physique.

Around dusk, Sean led the agitated newsboys toward the corner near my perch. I could clearly hear him urging the lads to “teach those bloodsuckers a lesson” as they angrily swung axe handles and other implements at imaginary bosses. Only when they encountered a battalion of New York City cops at Chatham Street, the dividing line between the sixth ward and the fourth ward, did they stop marching, waiting for Sean to tell them what to do. “Come on, lads. Are we gonna let the bosses’ goons stop us?” Encouraged by the rousing “No!” in response, he propelled his fist upward to indicate the crowd should press forward.

I witnessed the resulting bloody encounter as police batons crushed adolescent skulls and bloodied faces too young to need shaving. Heavy boots stomped on any lads who fell resulting in broken limbs and ribs. The violence could not stop some of the protesters from striking at the shields wielded by the police, only to be batted down by the police batons. It took less than half an hour for the riot to be controlled as injured young men staggered off into the maze of alleyways in Five Points or were transported to the jail or, in some cases, the morgue.

From the corner of my eye, I spied Sean, a large wound on his forehead dripping blood onto his bare chest as he limped into a narrow passageway next to the stoop where I was sitting. Curious, I followed him unconcerned I was breaking mama’s rule. A soft “Psst,” came from behind a row of trash tins. “Can ya help me mate?” Sean asked as he crumbled to the dirt with his back against a wooden building. “I gotta hide from the coppers, they identified me as the ringleader and want to teach the newsboys a lesson, using my stretched out neck as I hang for inciting riot as an example. Can you find me a place to hide, please?”

“Come with me,” I replied as, with him leaning on my shoulder, I led the young Irishman to a boarded up outhouse. One with its shaft too full for further use. “I am sorry about the smell; but it should keep the police away.”

“Thanks. What are you called?”

“Nico, short for Nicholas.”

“Guessing from your tan skin and dark hair, you are Eye-talian, right?”

“Yes, but no matter. I would not want to see anyone hung for standing up for themselves.” I felt pride as I told Sean my feelings.

“Good for you! Nico, can you find some rags to help me clean up and be less obvious to the coppers?”

I went into the adjacent yard and grabbed a wet sheet off a clothes line. I tore a corner off and used it to clean the wound on Sean’s forehead. “Wait here. Mama has something to make sure the cut does not get infected. I hurried off, snuck into our rooms, and borrowed a vial of iodine which I applied to the cut before tearing a strip of sheet to a strip to bind his head. After making sure the bleeding had stopped, I used the remainder of the sheet to clean the blood from his chest, not expecting his heavy breathing as I gently rubbed the cloth over his chest and stomach. When I was done, his hard nipples, each at least half an inch tall, confused me as did my own ragged breathing. Once cleaned up, the attractive lad hugged me tightly, which I heartily reciprocated, only reluctantly relinquishing my embrace when he indicated he should move into the stinky shed.

Back on the front stoop I was certain my face was flushed from the closeness of Sean’s hug. It was as if he read my mind when I fancied how it would feel to have his arms wrapped around me.

Sleep was elusive that night as my mind kept replaying the scene near the outhouse. I felt once again the warmth and firmness of his bare chest and the strength of his arms as he hugged me. Making matters worse, strange sensations occurred in my crotch as my small prick twitched in my hairless groin. Several weeks later, I continued to replay the incident, adding embellishments such as the statues’ nakedness, worsening my discomfort.

As close as we were, I never told Joe about my meeting with Sean and the embrace. Nor did I confess it to Father Russo. Somehow I knew revealing the incident and my response was not a wise move for me to make.

* * * *

Much to my surprise two weeks later, one of the younger newsboys, named Pete approached me on the street and requested I follow him. “Sean wants to speak with you,” he told me. A few blocks from Mulberry Street, Sean was waiting for me under the awning of a fruit and vegetable market shuttered for the evening. We shook hands then he sent the lad away. While he dealt with Pete, I took note of the fact the scar on Sean’s forehead had faded and was nearly invisible, helped by his long curls tumbling almost into his blue eyes.

“I wanted to thank you again for rescuing me and in appreciation am offering you the opportunity to become a newsboy. I have a vacancy on the corner of The Bowery and Walker Street. You, being Eye-talian, would fit right in there. It is not much but you can easily make ten dollars a week. How about it?”

“Great! I accept, but will the rest of the boys, all Irish, resent me?” I asked.

“Naw, I done tole them how you helped me escape the coppers and, besides, I’m the top dog in the pack. You can start tomorrow. Be at the newspaper office at six to pick up your bundle.”

For the next several months, not returning to school, I cheerfully hawked papers every day, easily earning ten dollars a week with my innocent looking face and gift for gab. Ultimately, I was able to stash a few dollars away for my future. Throughout those months, I was thrilled whenever Sean visited my corner to check on me, which he did at least once a week.

During that time I remained friends with Joe who expressed his worries about my working with “Sean and the Irish thugs in his gang.”

I told him how I met Sean and helped him escape the cops, “He took me under his wing, making sure his lads knew how I rescued him and I was to be considered one of the newsboys. He checks up on me often. I think he is kinda nice.”

“Well, be careful is all I can say. Five Points is a dangerous area. The other newsboys might resent the competition to say nothing of you being Italian.”

“Don’t worry, I will be fine. If you want, I could introduce you to Sean.”

“No thanks!” He responded with fervor. “You might be under his protection, but I would not dare walk into his territory uninvited.” Our friendship continued after the conversation; but my long hours made for little time to play in the street.

Around my sixth month as a newsboy, Papa was walking home from his warehouse job when he was attacked by a gang of Irish thugs from Hell’s Kitchen who came to Five Points to challenge Sean’s leadership and “clean the area of negros and dagos.” Papa’s injuries proved fatal, leaving Mama a widow with a barely thirteen year old son to support, my two older sisters having been married by then.

After the burial Sean approached me outside the cemetery. “Kid, I want you know the trespassers have been punished for what they done. The gang leader will never have children after losing his nuts, and all of them have been branded on their chests with a big red ‘X’ to let people who see it know they are exiled from Five Points. Any one of them so stupid as to enter the area will wish all they lost was their balls!”

My earnings as a newsboy supplemented the paltry sums Mama earned taking in laundry and the small settlement for Papa’s death from his union; but we scrapped by on thin soups and days-old-bread if necessary. The continued hunger and cold from lack of money for coal made me think of other ways to earn cash. I recalled an older bloke approaching me as I hawked newspapers, suggesting we go behind the building “to get to know each other better,” making a motion with his thumb and forefinger suggesting cash might be involved. After more than one gent made the proposal I spoke with Pete, Sean’s lad who brought me to Sean when he offered to make me a newsboy and with whom I became friends, about the questionable comments and suggestions. “Doncha’ think that behavior to be strange?” I inquired as we counted our earnings for the day.

“It happens all the time to the younger lads, especially us with no facial hair. They will offer to pay a quarter for the opportunity to play with your privates and maybe to take your pee-pee into their mouths. After a few times, they up the ante to a half dollar if you lick theirs and take it between your lips. Once they see you are willing and open to possible further filthy undertakings, a dollar will be offered for the use of your butthole for their pleasure. By then you would probably have resorted to some street drugs to soothe your guilt-ridden feelings and make the pain of getting screwed easier to bear. All kinds of disgusting diseases might follow, causing your teeth to fall out, rashes to develop in your crotch, and boils on your backside. To keep the bucks flowing, you accept offers for private parties where several drunk men will fuck your hole. You might even be tied up and subjected to torture. Eventually either suicide or murder will take your life.” Repulsed by Pete’s description of the dangers of prostituting myself, I never accepted any of the offers, resolving to survive by honest labor.

I was still concerned over Mama’s money problems when Sean once again came to my rescue, alleviating my need for additional money. One evening as I walked home from hawking newspapers and contemplating the situation, the handsome Irishman approached and put his arm around my shoulder, “My best delivery boy moved away with his family. He was paid based on the size of the packages delivered and the distance he had to travel. The work can be tough and the hours long, but many weeks he earned over twenty dollars. I’ve watched you work hard and consistently be the highest earner in my pack. Would you be willing to take the job?”

“Hell yes!” I replied, too thrilled by his intimate act to refuse any request from my idol. Of course, that meant arriving at various offices an hour earlier than I was used to and remaining on deliveries later into the evening, necessitating I continue staying out of school to accommodate the demanding schedule. The job was indeed trying but I learned a great deal about keeping good records, as well as calculating charges and preparing invoices. By two weeks on the job I was earning in the twenty dollar range and quite pleased with myself.

* * * *

Mama and I continued our meager existence, moving into a smaller space to conserve the dwindling union settlement. Mama proposed she sleep on the sofa but I refused her offer and set up a pallet for myself between the sofa and a wall, providing a modicum of privacy and limited comfort. She continued taking in laundry to earn money for our support.

One laundry client, Craig Richardson, an older English gentleman who owned a local grocery was a widower with two sons. He became a regular with Mama, appearing every week, sometimes twice a week, with laundry for her to wash, dry, and iron. Mister Richardson lingered longer with each visit, sometimes complaining about the difficulties of raising two sons without a wife’s help and other times complimenting her on her industriousness. I could tell Mama was flattered by his attention and was not overly surprised when he invited her to supper at a neighborhood Italian restaurant on The Bowery.

My first meeting with Mister Richardson was the evening he arrived to take Mama out to dinner. He did not much impress me. Overweight and not particularly meticulous with his appearance, I harbored suspicions of his motives. Two weeks later Mama and I were invited to the Richardson residence on Mott Street in a small apartment building recently built just north of Five Points. Although the space was well lit with windows facing east, the rooms were small, including the front sitting room. The building possessed a water tank which provided running water through pipes with faucets in the kitchen and hall water closet. There were two bedrooms, one for Mister Richardson and one shared by his two sons, Owen and Dirk. As unkempt in attire as their father, the lads were a little older than I, but weighed a great deal more. Since they worked in their father’s store, conversation with them was nearly impossible given their general ignorance of anything other than groceries. From their condescending attitude, I got the impression they bullied classmates and others their age they came in contact with.

Mister Richardson persisted in courting Mama. Sure as shooting, his persistence paid off and she, believing his promise of financial security, agreed to marry him. Nothing he did or said changed my strong suspicions he wanted someone to tend to housework and cooking for him and his sons. I said nothing as I was clearly unable to adequately provide for her. Father Russo celebrated the small wedding ceremony only nine months after Papa died.

Mama and I moved in to the Richardson’s apartment the afternoon of the morning wedding. As I expected, I was to bunk with the sons, I would much preferred to continue sleeping behind a sofa. The boys’ bedroom consisted of a single large bed all three of us were to sleep in. Given their sizes, very little space was available to me so it seemed particularly cruel for them to insist I sleep in the middle. Thus, surrounded by a pair of smelly, fat, snoring imbeciles, I struggled to sleep at all. Whether intentionally or not, I often found my thin frame smothered by either Owen or Dirk rolling over mid-sleep. Any jab to the stomach on my part would result in a sharp blow to my face. Often I woke up with a sore and bruised cheek. Complaining of the mistreatment to Mama provided little relief.

“You told mommy about us supposedly being mean to you,” Owen snarled in my face one evening before we retired.

“We don’t like being ratted on. Do it again and we will do more than slap your pretty face.” Dirk punched me in the abdomen, so sharply I doubled up in pain.

“I dare you to snitch about Dirk’s punch, ‘cause if you do you might have a serious accident and lose these!” Owen grabbed my crotch and squeezed my balls until tears streamed down my cheeks. When he released them, I dropped to the floor from the pain. “Capisci, dago?” I was in such pain I could barely nod in response.

Daily life with my stepbrothers worsened after that incident. The pair of bullies teased me about my body, “Damn, you are so thin you could pass for a girl if you had tits. Take off your shirt so we can make sure you are a boy.” When I resisted, they tore my undershirt from my body, laughing at my useless attempts to cover my chest with my arms. “Hold his arms open,” Owen ordered Dirk. “Ah yes, no tits.” The older brother tweaked my nipples until I cried out in agony. For two days I was uncomfortable with any physical contact from a shirt on my chest.

The lack of privacy got worse as the weather warmed and the obnoxious pair would sleep in only their tattered and soiled undergarments. Their stinky, sweaty, blubbery bodies pressed against me as I tried to sleep. I quickly regretted my words when I suggested they stay on their sides of the mattress. “You find us repulsive?” Dirk sneered.

“Maybe it is because you are overdressed in your fuckin’ pajamas. Take them off!” Owen ordered. “If you don’t, we will rip them off, an probably scratch your olive-colored wop skin as we do so.” From then on, until the weather cooled, I was forced to sleep in only my cotton underpants between the half-naked bullies.

Bedtime farting and belching games occurred regularly, making their foul stenches more obnoxious. However, the worst part usually came in the morning when Owen would strut around revealing a tent pole in his undergarment, sometimes even pulling the baggy cotton aside to expose his erection. “I think it is pretty clear I am a man now; a man with a big dick,” Owen would grab his hard shaft and wag it at Dirk and me. “So it would be a huge mistake to mess with me.”

Dirk regarded Owen’s boasting with reverence, usually massaging his groin to see if he could encourage an erection to match Owen’s, failing to get an arousal, Dirk would point to me, “Nico can’t get his little dinky hard. He looks like a little girl with nothing in his undies.” And make a move to pull my undergarment down to expose my shortfall. I was repulsed by their vulgar physical displays and comments, but feared making any objections.

Joe was the only person I felt safe complaining about my stepbrothers’ coarse behavior. “You would not believe how frigging gross they are. Stinking up the bedroom with unwashed bodies and seemingly endless farts. Sleeping is almost impossible between the smell and having their fat bodies crushing me. And that is not all, there are unwashed clothes tossed all over the room for Mama to pick up and launder. The bedclothes are filthy, sweat stained and with tracks from inadequate toilet hygiene.”

“Damn, with indoor plumbing, they should be able to keep their butts clean!” Joe observed.

“Yeah, but there is more. Every morning Owen, likes to parade around in his underpants showing off his hard prick. He is three years older than me and wants to be sure I know it. The one year younger brother, Dirk, is frustrated he is not as mature and uses me and my immaturity to take attention from the fact he cannot get hard. I am constantly the butt of vile jokes and subjected to frequent threats of physical harm. If not from fear harm would come to Mama, I would strike back.

Even with Joe I held back my concerns over Mister Richardson’s treatment of Mama. Matters were already tough for her and I was afraid of making them worse. Whenever Mister Richardson was out, his sons ogled Mama’s not unattractive, still reasonably thin, body. They frequently made obscene comments in her presence, mostly regarding how their father must be enjoying “such a nice piece of ass and lovely breasts.”

At one point I moved to threaten them if they did not relent, however, she admonished me, “move away and let me handle matters with my husband.” Apparently her handling went poorly as the next morning she had her right arm in a sling due to “a slip on the rug.”

* * * *

After her confrontation with Mister Richardson, Mama went through cleaning the apartment, doing the family laundry, and cooking our meals in a halfhearted manner, always appearing tired and lacking energy. The housework, even for three extra persons, could not fully explain her condition, I believed she was depressed and regretted her decision to marry the brute.

One night, as I was lying in bed trying to sleep, I heard loud noises from the other bedroom. Mister Richardson was hollering at Mama, insisting she give him his “due.” Mama was sobbing and trying to evade his advances.

“I do not feel well. Please leave me alone. No! Get away from me.” I heard the SLAP and her scream, “Owwww!”

“I do not give a damn how you feel! You are my wife so accept your wifely duties. Shut up and spread your legs!”

“Ha, your mommy is going to get fucked by a real man” Dirk sounded gleeful.

“Yeah, dad’s got a big one, lots bigger than mine! She will be squealing like a stuck pig soon.” Owen added, sending me over the edge.

Furious, I jumped on Owen and pummeled his face with my fist. “Shut up!” I yelled. “Shut up! Shut up!” I accompanied each shout with a punch. Dirk came to his brother’s rescue and tried to pry me off his brother. “Get off me you fucking idiot!” I swung at Dirk’s head, knocking him off the bed. Owen used the distraction caused by Dirk to reach up and grab me by the throat. “I should strangle you for hitting us!” We wrestled, rolling around on the bed and eventually fell off on top of Dirk.

“What in hell are you doing? Having sex on the floor?” Mister Richardson, after hearing the commotion, stormed into the room naked as a jaybird with a humongous erection pointing in the direction of the three of us in a tangle of half-naked bodies.

“He fucking punched me,” Owen said before I put an arm lock on his neck and forced him down on Dirk’s chest, rendering them both immobile.

“Get off my sons you ungrateful wop!” I ignored Mister Richardson and applied more pressure to Owen’s throat. Infuriated, he pulled me off his sons by my hair and threw me against a dresser, knocking the wind from my lungs. A furious Mister Richardson approached me lying on the floor my undergarment half ripped off during the tussle with his sons. “I should beat the hell out of you to teach you a lesson.” He raised his arm as if to follow through on his threat. Between his fist looming over me, the furious look in his eyes, and his scarlet, gnarly erection almost drooling on my face, I did not know what to expect.

Matters would have gotten out of control if Mama had not moved in front of Mister Richardson and stroked his chest. “Craig, dear. We should finish what we started. I can see you need some serious relief.” She moved a hand to his erection and directed him back to the bedroom.

As he exited, Mister Richardson made one final threat, “You boys behave or all three of you will feel my belt. Double for whoever starts something.”

“We do not want you in our bed.” Owen tossed my pillow at my head. Resigned, I used an extra blanket as a pallet on the floor as far away from the obnoxious pair as I could get.

Next morning Mama took me aside and told me I was never to fight with the boys again, “If you do, Craig will let them harm you, perhaps doing serious, maybe fatal harm. I could not bear losing you.” Tears from both of us followed her statement and I agreed to her request. I saw from several bruises on her arms that she had felt the brunt of Mister Richardson’s anger over the incident. My agreement was as much to avoid further harm to her as to myself.

My stepbrothers and I tiptoed around each other for several days until Owen decided to make use of his new-found masculine prowess and stayed out late, tom catting around local taverns patronized by women of questionable morals. Dirk was annoyed when Owen would not allow his younger brother to accompany him on his nightly prowls. One evening, Dirk was especially angry with Owen and attempted to form an alliance with me.

“My fucking brother is out again leaving us home to entertain each other. How about a game of cards? Do you know how to play poker?”

“I do not gamble,” I responded.

“No money. We can use dried beans. We each get twenty and see who can win all the other’s. It should be fun and take us to bedtime.”

“All right, as long as no money is involved.”

Dirk went to the dresser for a deck of cards while I lit a candle to provide light for our game. Basically, on a hot summer night, a truce was called between us for two hours as we played cards, sitting on the bedroom floor in our bedtime attire. Dirk got excited as he won more and more hands. Once the score was thirty-five beans for him and five for me, his anticipation of victory manifested in his baggy undergarment. An obvious erection tented the garment and a wet spot appeared at the tip of the cotton-covered pole.

“How about the loser has to play with the winner’s dick?” He inquired, his voice cracking due to his arousal. He left no doubt as to his meaning, grasping the hard shaft in his hand and moving his palm up and down. “I’ve seen Owen do it while his other hand played with his balls. Before long, he would be huffing and puffing real heavily then gasp as a string of white cream shot from the tip of his dick. I bet you could help me do that, please.”

“It would be a mortal sin for both of us. Father Russo held a meeting for only the young boys at church and talked about the sin of spilling our seed on the ground. I think what you are suggesting falls under that description, a mortal sin!”

“To hell with Father Russo and his mortal sin. One time, I walked in on Owen and watched from the doorway. When he finished I asked him how it felt. ‘Fucking great!’ he said. ‘You should try it. I can teach you how.’ He did and it was fun, but nothing came out. ‘You are still too young.’ He told me; I bet I am old enough now, three months later. Please make me shoot some white stuff.”

“I refuse to participate in your sin,” I huffily replied before rising from the floor and retreating to the bed.

“Fuck you!” Dirk removed his stained undergarment, spit into his palm, and vigorously jerked it up and down his hard shaft. Surprising he stood and moved next to the bed. “You better watch out. When I finish you might get something wet on your body.”

“If you want to go to hell I do not give a damn, but if you involve me in any way I can make sure you regret it. Remember, I work with the Five Points Irish gang.”

I soon regretted my threat to Dirk. Although he moved from the bed to continue jerking on his shaft, he ultimately failed to achieve release. Frustrated and embarrassed by his failure, he reported my threat to his father. Mister Richardson intercepted Owen when he returned home around midnight. “We need to teach your stepbrother a lesson. This evening he threatened Dirk with a beating from his Irish gang buddies. I think he needs a good beating to let him know who is boss here. I want you and Dirk to hold him down while I pound the shit from him. Once he is reduced to a whimpering mass of blood and bruises, you and Dirk can work him over too.”

Unaware Dirk was pretending to be asleep, having been told of the brutal plan earlier, I was sound asleep when Owen and Mister Richardson entered the bedroom, each of his sons grabbed an arm and leg, effectively restraining me from fighting back. Mister Richardson stripped off my undergarment and shoved the cloth into my mouth as a gag before he struck me with his fists several times, using my stomach as a punching bag. “Do you know why we are doing this to you?” He growled at me, reaching out and viciously twisting my soft prick when I did not reply.

“Ugngh!” I grunted, dipping my chin to show I understood.

“Good. Be sure you will never threaten my sons again. Dirk, have a go at him since he threatened you.” I was so weakened by the blows to my stomach, it was no longer necessary for them to restrain me. Dirk balled up his fists and alternately struck my face from the left then right. Only when I tasted blood did Mister Richardson intervene. “Enough, he will never threaten you again if he wants to survive.

“Ah, dad, I want a turn,” Owen whined.

“Okay, but no more blood.”

“Take this you stuck-up prick!” Owen balled up his right hand and drove it into my balls. I doubled over with tears joining the blood streaming down my face. Clutching my groin, I stumbled from the bedroom to a chorus of laugher at my condition. In the hall, I bumped into Mama who scowled at me for breaking my promise to her.

Next morning, my face was a mass of bruises when I reported to the delivery service office. Sean was present and demanded to know “what the fuck happened to you?”

“I do not want to talk about it,” I replied and started to leave for my first pick-up.

“Whoa, buddy. Does this have anything to do with your stepfather. I hear he’s a jerk.”

“I…cannot talk about it.”

“Did he or his fat kids hit you?”

“Please, let it drop.” I managed to get out the door, but Sean followed on my heels. “He will hurt Mama if you do anything to him or his sons.” Little did I know Mister Richardson had already done damage to Mama’s lungs in one of his violent sexual assaults when he covered her with his much heavier body and forcefully pumped his thick dick into her.

“All right, I will lay off them, unless they harm you again. But one of my lads will keep an eye on the apartment just in case. There was no choice for me but to accept Sean’s decision, so I went about my work as usual.

On the following Sunday, Mama excused herself from church claiming a cold was developing in her chest and she needed to rest. By evening, her breathing was labored and I suggested we bring her to the local dispensary the next day. “Naw, she will be fine, just needs a little rest. Why don’t you help with her chores so she can sleep. The dishes need washing as do my work clothes and the boys’ coveralls.”

Unwilling to confront him, especially since he was well on the way to another drunken evening, I complied. As I stood over the sink washing dishes as he suggested, I noticed him standing in the doorway with a strange look in his eyes, which were fixated on my backside. Fortunately I still wore my delivery clothes, heavy cotton knickers and a loose-fitting shirt. I, as unobtrusively as possible, tugged the shirt from the trousers’ waistband and used it to cover my ass. He left the room. I finally finished the chores and went to bed well past midnight, stripped to my undies, and climbed over Dirk to my spot in the middle of the bed. “Huh?” I ignored Dirk mumbling as I settled down for the few hours left for me to sleep.

Mama’s condition worsened over the next fortnight. “Sir, we need to get medical help for her,” I tentatively suggested at dinner, one which I cooked.

“Youse can take her; but youse’ll have to pay any costs.” Ignoring the slurring of his words, I took him up on the conditions he imposed. Getting Mama dressed was difficult as she could move her limbs only with great difficulty. I had to carry her the three blocks to the neighborhood dispensary. Thankfully, my friend Pete, the young lad from Sean’s crew, was on watch duty outside the apartment that evening and helped me.

Sadly the trip was too late. Mama died from pneumonia six hours after we arrived at the medical facility. I walked over to the church and made arrangements with Father Russo for a funeral.

“I will do it and forego my usual honorarium if you agree to join the confirmation class. Father Dominic, our new priest started the class two Sundays ago with three classes left before the sacrament occurs. I will waive the first two classes if you agree.” How could I not agree? Mama needed to have a church funeral, even if in the small chapel.

After completing the arrangements with Farther Russo and being introduced to the handsome Father Dominic, young enough to use his first name, I went home with the news. “What in hell do you mean?” Mister Richardson shouted. “My wife is dead?”

“Yes, your wife, my mother, died from pneumonia this morning. Her funeral will be in two days. Now I need to go to work.”

I walked to the office and was greeted by Sean. “Pete told me what happened. Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes, my stepfather gets drunk every evening so he is pretty much out of the picture. His sons are still afraid of you, I pointed out the apartment watchers several times so they don’t dare hurt me.”

* * * *

The day of the funeral came and went without problems. In a daze, I went about my work, ignoring my drunk stepfather and his two bullying sons. Leery of his intentions whenever he looked at me, I made a special effort not to be around Mister Richardson without either Dirk or Owen present. One evening, the sons and I had finished in the bathroom and, stripped to our undergarments, prepared for bed. Mister Richardson staggered into our room, “Dirk, my boy, have you checked out Nico’s ass. Nice and plump like his mom’s was. You agree, right Owen?” My stepbrothers were silent, fearing revenge from Sean and his gang if I were sexually assaulted.

“Fucking sissies,” the father muttered. “I bet you guys get a piece of his ass every night and don’t want to share with your poor lonely dad. To hell with you. I am going to the tavern to pick up a loose woman for company.”

“Please do not tell Sean about Dad’s foolish comment. We leave you alone, it’s not like he said.” Dirk nervously tugged at his undergarment.

“Yeah!” Owen added. “I can get women to fuck, all much prettier than you.”

After the bedroom episode, I felt safe enough to ask Sean to end the apartment watch. “It makes me feel helpless,” I explained. “And it is not needed anymore.” Sean agreed although I occasionally spotted one of his lads in the neighborhood over the next four months. I avoided Mister Richardson at all cost and he, knowing his sons would not back him up, left me alone. Still I had a job and did most of the household chores. In addition, Dirk had finally reached maturity and frequently joined Owen on tavern outings.

* * * *

Since there was no school and many businesses were closed on Sundays, confirmation classes were held after the high mass. Of the six kids in the class, all twelve or thirteen years old, only two were boys. In a strange coincidence, Joe was the other boy. We had been seeing less of each other after he expressed his concerns over my working with Sean, so the classes were an excellent chance for us to get back to our friendship. During the second class I attended, Joe and I were reprimanded for whispering together as Father Dominic discussed the sacredness of chastity before marriage.

We got caught. “Nicholas and Giuseppe, stay after class to review what you missed because of your rude behavior while I spoke.” Joe and I fidgeted in our seats as the girls filed out. “Now, young men, please explain the thee ways you can violate the rubrics of chaste behavior.” Silence! “I will help you out. Thinking about another person in sexual terms is one. Engaging in activities, such as masturbation, alone or with another violates the second rubric. Participating in sexual intercourse is number three. What does that mean?”

“Having sex with a girl,” Joe replied.

“No!” Father Dominic exclaimed. “You can have intercourse with girls or boys.”

‘What?” Joe and I exclaimed together.

“Yes, sexual intercourse is very complicated. There is oral sex, sexual contact with one’s lips with either a male or female genitals, sex organs, as well as intercourse involving penile penetration of a female, or male.”

“Men do not have anything to penetrate with a dick!” Joe claimed.

I remained silent, thinking about Mister Richardson’s comments regarding his sons having “a piece of my ass.”

“Not ‘dick,’ Giuseppe, ‘penis.’ The use of proper terminology is important and avoids vulgarities. And yes, men can be anally penetrated, do you know what that means?” I knew from the blush spreading over Joe’s face he realized what Father Dominic was describing. He wisely said nothing further on the issue. “Now, lads, do you understand the significance of chastity and how to preserve it?”

“Yes, Father.” We again responded together.

“Good, Giuseppe, you may leave. Nicholas, please remain so we can review the two classes you missed. More fidgeting in my seat while Joe said his goodbyes and left.

With Joe gone, Father Dominic suggested I join him at the desk for the lessons. Something about the look in his eyes gave me concern. He seemed especially worked up after the lecture in which he emphasized the possibilities of sex involving two men.

The first lesson concerned the meaning of the seven sacraments and the second focused on the Sacrament of Confirmation. Both lessons were completed in half an hour at which point Father Dominic faced me and asked, “You seemed reluctant to challenge me on the issue of sexual intercourse between men. Is something bothering you in that regard?”

“No father, with two older stepbrothers the subject is bantered around a lot.”

“You have not participated, have you?” He placed a hand on my shoulder.

“No father, it is just talk and I do not join in. Can I leave now?” I started to rise from my chair.

“We still have somethings to discuss,” he said softly, pushing me back down into my seat. “You know, priests can forgive sins, sparing the sinner the tribulations of hell.” I felt his other hand on my thigh. “You are a very attractive young man and I would like us to become close friends.” His hand slipped up nearer to my crotch and I was sure he wanted sex with me. “Please, let me touch it,” Father Dominic whispered in my ear. “Nobody will ever know and it would make me very happy.” I glanced over at his lap and saw the noticeable rise in his cassock.

“Leave me alone!” I bellowed, standing quickly and stepping away. “If you ever try to touch me like that again, I will report you to the cops.” I stormed out of the church. He knew better than to deny me confirmation, but I was not surprised when soon afterward he was transferred to a parish in upstate New York. Someone either purposefully or accidentally must have heard my loud protestation.

* * * *

After the confirmation, my stepbrothers once again proved their coarseness. Right before Christmas, I had completed cleaning up the kitchen after cooking dinner and was seated at my desk reading library materials. I intended to fill gaping holes in my education caused by my dropping out of school more than two years prior. I was interrupted by the entry of my stepbrothers, arms on each other’s shoulders as they, obviously having imbibed at some cheap bar, laughed about recent sexual exploits. Seated on our shared bed, they ignored my presence while Owen told Dirk about his recent experience with Lucy, one of the waitresses at the local drugstore counter. “You know she has big tits,” Owen began. “Well, after we necked awhile, she opened her blouse and unfastened her corset so I could play with them. I suckled the nipples, even chewed them a bit, which really got her heated up. ‘Take off your trousers and lower your undergarment to release the hardness I feel within,’ she told me.”

“After playing with my cock to make it super hard, she indicated I should mount her tummy so my erect dick fell between her plump breasts. Can you imagine my surprise when she squeezed them together and used them to stroke it? First she took each fleshy tit in a hand and slid them up my shaft together, forcing my loose foreskin to form a hat atop my prick, then she slipped them down until the foreskin was retracted sufficiently to expose my drooling pee hole. In between the up and down motions, she alternated her palms so the smooth warm flesh caressed my tool with pressure alternating from side to side. The floozy did not stop until I blasted a load over her face and hair. Damn if Lucy did not swipe up my spooge and lick it off her hand!”

“Fuck!” Dirk exclaimed. “Your story is almost as sexy as my encounter with Betty, from the hardware store. I know she’s a little on the pudgy side, but she has a fantastic caboose, which, I discovered, she loves having filled with dick. In her room, she knelt on all fours, slipped her skirt onto her back exposing her pantaloons. ‘Pull them down, sugar,’ she said. Of course I accommodated her and fondled the round butt cheeks. ‘Spit into my crack.’ Damn! I made haste to fulfil her request, then I used my rigid tool to spread the spittle and my slick juices around her tiny pucker finally letting the tip pierce her hole. Fuck was it hot! I got so carried away I swear smoke was rising from her ass, extinguished only when I filled it with my jizm. She accommodated me twice in one evening! Screwing butt holes is more work, less slippery than pussy, but they’re a lot tighter.”

Naturally, as they recounted their tales, my brothers’ crotches were affected. Ignoring me, they dropped their pants to their ankles, pulled their erect members from their already damp undergarments, and used the slipperiness oozing from the tips to stroke their shafts. As each told his story, he would use his hands to mimic the girls’ action. Owen kept his palms flat as he slid them up and down in unison or alternating side to side. Dirk formed a loose fist and inserted his rigid rod in the center before sliding his hand up and down using the plentiful lubricant.

From the corner of my eye, I caught their reflection in a window and saw Owen use an elbow to jab Dirk in the ribs to get his attention. Dirk looked over at Owen who nodded his head in my direction then stood, holding his rigid tool and pointing it at me. Dirk smiled and copied his older brother, then both, trousers at their ankles, hobbled over to stand one on either side of me. I suspected they were aware the apartment watch had stopped and was unsure of what they might want to do, cover my face with their slime, force me to open my mouth to receive one or both shafts, maybe even assault my butt hole? I was particularly concerned over Dirk’s penchant for violating asses. I forcefully pushed by them muttering something about finishing my chores and left the room, knowing they were hampered by their nakedness and the clothing around their ankles. I did not to return to the bedroom until I was positive they were asleep. When I did, I formed a pad with a spare blanket and slept upon it in my day clothes, waking early to leave town.

Chapter Two

Riding the rails west: Nico travels to Chicago.

Before the sun rose, dressed in the work clothes I had slept in, I quietly rolled my meager clothing in the blanket and tucked it under my arm then stealthily snuck into my stepfather’s room and stole his work boots. In the kitchen I located the remnants of Mama’s union settlement, stashed the cash with my own savings in a pouch I kept inside the waistband of my knickers and, dressed in my warmest clothes even though the fall day was warm, headed for the delivery office.

As usual, Sean already there. “What goes it with the blanked and extra boots?” The young Irishman asked.

“I’m running away. My stepbrothers intimidated me last night; they wanted to assault me sexually. I left the room and avoided them until they were asleep. After sleeping a couple of hours, I hastily assembled my belongings and came here. My plan is to ride the rails to Chicago and start a new life.”

“I thought matters would come to this. I feared your stepbrothers, and even their father, would get violent and sexually abuse you. But an abrupt departure would hamper my delivery service, could you work for me two more weeks so you can train Pete for your job? I’ll make sure you remain safe during the two weeks and help you get to Chicago. Some of the lads came to New York City in the same manner as you propose to leave. They should have some suggestions for surviving the trek. Also, take this for protection.” Sean handed me a hunting knife in a leather sheath. “Be sure to keep it sharpened in case you need to fend off someone who wants to steal your possessions, or do you physical harm−or worse.”

Naturally, I agreed to wait two weeks before leaving the city. Pete entered the office and Sean explained the situation. “Wow, going to Chicago! Sure I will work hard to learn your job. Wow, a promotion! Where will you stay? You cannot go back home…I know, you can stay with me. Your stepdad and his sons do not know me or where I live.” Pete’s excitement made his usual crooked smile expand broadly, and was contagious. I looked forward to the next two weeks as I prepared for my escape to Chicago.

It was agreed Pete would accompany me on my deliveries, with another of Sean’s lads nearby, and I would stay at Pete’s rooming house where he would move into a private room. Two of Sean’s lads would guard the entrance to the rooming house and the hallway outside Pete’s room.

Nothing untoward happened to disrupt my deliveries. However, a situation developed in the evenings. Pete’s room was tiny with only a single, iron-framed bed we both had to share. As used as I was to a limited space for sleeping with Owen and Dirk, sharing a small bed with Pete was more of a problem. The first night, Pete kept letting his body slide closer until his butt pressed against mine. “Move over,” I muttered, awakened by the pressure on my ass.

“Sorry,” Pete said, moving apart.

The contact occurred three times the first night, so I brought the topic up at bedtime of night two. “I know the bed is small and space is tight, but please try to stay on your side.”

He tried the second night, holding on to the bed frame to keep from sliding against me, to little avail. At one point, I awoke to find him facing me, his chest against my back and his left arm thrown over my right one, his hand dangling close to my chest. I turned and shoved him away, which did not wake him from a sound sleep.

The next night I brought the issue up again. “You have to stay on your side of the bed. Your moving against me wakes me up and I need my sleep.”

“I am sorry. I’ll try harder.” Nothing improved the situation and on our third discussion, Pete suggested, “Why don’t we start off with you facing my back? You could wrap your arms around me holding me in a position where I could not move against your backside.”

His suggestion made sense. “Okay, on one condition, I would do so only if you understand nothing overtly sexual will happen. You are too young for any such shenanigans.”

“I am the same age as you were when you started as a newspaper boy,” Pete was indignant at my crack about his age.

“Almost two years ago!” I retorted. “I insist we will do nothing sexual, if you do not agree, I will ask Sean for another arrangement.”

“I agree, but I think you are mean not to like me.”

“I am fond of you, but sex is out of the question. I recently turned fourteen and feel I am also too young. Besides, it would be a mortal sin and we both could go to hell.” I was less convinced of the threat of hell after the experience with Father Dominic.

The new sleeping arrangement was a small improvement. Pete was a lot shorter than me so, as long as he stayed with his head at the top of the mattress, his butt would be above my waist and not pressing in my groin. The warmth of his thin body felt nice as we snuggled together on the cooler evenings

Before the two weeks were completely over, I searched out Joe to say goodbye. Pete insisted on accompanying me but agreed to stay out of sight as Joe would never approach with one of Sean’s lads nearby. My boyhood friend was sitting on his tenement stoop, looking unhappy. He cheered up when he saw me, leaping to his feet and running in my direction. “Nico, how are you?” He shouted from ten yards away. When he reached me he wrapped his arms around me and hugged tight. “I was worried not hearing from you for so long. I ran into Dirk who said you ran away from home.”

“I did, but agreed with Sean to stay for two weeks to train Pete in my job. Sean arranged for protection during those weeks and I could not search you out without risking both us and my protection. Tomorrow morning I set off for Chicago and, hopefully, a better life. I have some money and a knife from Sean for safety.”

“Yeah, and your stepdad’s boots according to Dirk.” We both covered our sadness with laughter at Mister Richardson’s boot situation.

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