Eighteen-year-old Lincoln rode the motorcycle he had borrowed from a buddy. He had just been released from jail on another petty criminal charge. It had taken him a week to find out where Social Services had stashed his brother. He watched the house from afar. The family seemed a lot better than the foster father who was mysteriously murdered.
Lincoln spotted Michael on the playground. The kid was by himself watching the other children. He seemed to be studying them. Lincoln rode around the park and stopped at the fence behind Michael. Lincoln sat on the idling motorcycle waiting for Michael to notice him, but his brother was lost in his own world, still watching the other children.
It took several more tries of Lincoln calling out his name before Michael turned and looked at him for the first time. Another minute before it registered that it was his brother.
Michael moved closer to the fence. “What are you doing here?”
“Just got out, figured I’d come see you. Want to go for a ride?”
Michael looked around cautiously as if expecting to be caught talking to his brother. His foster parents never forbade it, but they didn’t encourage it either. They thought Lincoln was a bad influence on him due to all the time his brother spent in jail.
When the coast was clear, Michael climbed over the fence and ran over to Lincoln. He took the proffered helmet, put it on and climbed on behind Lincoln. He wrapped his arms tightly around his brother’s chest as Lincoln revved the engine and sped off.
At the park Michael felt self-conscious. He watched the kids imagining that they ostracized him for being strange. He couldn’t help it. His overactive mind only made the thoughts worse. He spent most of the time calculating the height of the huge oak trees and the playground equipment, and how far they were from each other. Then he started to mentally calculate load-bearing capacity and whether the wooden bridge on
the jungle gym would collapse under Tommy Franklin’s one-hundred and fifty pounds. Now, with his older brother here in the flesh, Michael’s mind had calmed to the white noise of counting the miles and blocks they passed.
Michael held on tighter to Lincoln as the motorcycle leaned into the curve. He closed his eyes against the stinging wind and tried to focus on the thrum of the engine between his legs. His arms were wrapped so tightly around Lincoln’s mid-section that Michael could feel every muscle in his flat stomach. The wind teased him with the distinct scent that was Lincoln. It brought back the arousal he felt when he used to overhear Lincoln and Veronica. He knew it was wrong to feel this way about his brother. It was taboo. He could never tell Lincoln. What could he possibly say that wouldn’t cause Lincoln to beat him down and never speak to him again? So instead, he tried to ignore his semi-erection.
Lincoln rode the motorcycle into the drive-thru lane of Hardees, ordered two meals and then rode a few blocks to a grassy area with a shelter house that had restrooms and a soda machine. It was near the road, but still had the feeling of seclusion. Lincoln sat on the table eating his sandwich. Michael sat beside him mentally deconstructing the structure of the power lines along the road.
“Linc? What’s it like to kiss someone?”
The question came so far out of left field that Lincoln nearly choked on his drink and he ended up swallowing hard. Michael either didn’t notice the reaction to his question or ignored it.
“It’s . . . well . . .” Lincoln cleared his raw throat as he tried to decide how best to answer. “You’ve never tried it?”
“I know the basics of it. But, in the movies the girls always talk about being swept off their feet and sparks flying. I don’t see how that's possible physiologically. I mean, if sparks flew then that would mean an electrical surge occurred.”
Lincoln was bewildered at his brother’s knowledge. He dropped out in the tenth grade. But Michael seemed to have potential. He could make something out of his life.
“It’s not really a physical reaction. Well . . . it is – but it’s more of a metaphor for how you feel when it happens,” Lincoln said, nearly tripping over his own tongue in his attempt of an explanation. He was no good at this. Maybe he should just tell Michael to ask Veronica about this stuff.
“Can you show me?”
Lincoln coughed up his drink and possibly some regurgitated hamburger with that question. When the coughing fit seized, he squeaked, “Show you?”
Michael finally turned and looked at him with intense blue eyes and the stare that would become his trademark later in life. “Yeah.”
Lincoln shook his head. “I don’t know if I’m the one you should be – uh, -- it’s not something that . . .”
“Who else could I ask?” Michael inquired as if it was the simplest thing in the world to do. As far as he was concerned, Lincoln could do anything. Surely, demonstrating how to kiss wouldn’t be a major feat.
“A girl, for starters,” Lincoln replied with a chuckle.
Michael blushed so deep that his ears turned pink. “I don’t know any girls other than Vee.”
Lincoln glowered at that. “I’m not loaning Veronica out to experiment on, kid.”
Michael’s expression could be labeled as crestfallen. He turned back and stared at the power lines, mentally calculating how much voltage they contained to get from point A to point B. It’s just as well. He’ll be the only fourteen year old boy in his class that remained a virgin. That included Tommy Franklin who got kissed by Lily Adams on a dare.
“Why are you so interested in kissing anyway?” Lincoln asked between bites.
Michael shrugged. It was embarrassing enough without having to say it out loud.
The silence between them was thick as Lincoln finished his sandwich and chased it down with soda. He wadded the wrapper up, grabbed Michael’s untouched hamburger and threw them in the trash. Michael didn’t like to eat unless he was forced to by his grumbling stomach. On one hand, Lincoln knew it be a waste to order it, on the other, Michael did need to eat. It was all about which battles Lincoln chose to pick with him.
Turning back, he saw Michael sitting on the picnic table looking miserable. He really didn’t understand why it bothered Michael so much that he hadn’t been kissed. Lincoln smiled wistfully at the memory of his own first kiss. Veronica had stolen it from him one day under the gym bleachers.
Lincoln finally came to a decision that he hoped he wouldn’t regret later. He went over and stood in front of Michael. The younger boy had a faraway look in his eyes.
“Michael,” Lincoln said to get his attention. When his brother blinked, he said, “Close your eyes.”
Trusting Lincoln implicitly, Michael did as he was told. Lincoln bent closer and brushed his lips lightly over Michael’s in the barest of touches. Later, Michael would swear that he couldn’t feel anything even as his heart raced and his jeans became impossibly tight while acknowledging that his brother had the softest lips. A small moan escaped him.
Lincoln pulled away as a frisson of heat went through him at the sound of his brother’s moan. His voice was husky as he said, “That’s what it’s like.”
Michael touched his lips awed that his brother actually kissed him. “Oh.” His eyes focused on Lincoln’s mouth and he unconsciously leaned closer until their lips met again. A tremor of arousal traveled down his spine and stopped at his groin. He definitely should not have felt that with his brother, but he couldn’t stop. His hands slid up Lincoln’s soft leather jacket to his neck where he caressed the nape with his long fingers. A groan escaped Lincoln that turned Michael on even more and emboldened him to deepen the kiss.
When Lincoln felt Michael’s tongue slip between his lips, he grabbed his brother’s wrists gently and pulled away, resting his forehead against Michael’s. “We can’t do this, it’s not right.”
“It feels right to me,” Michael said as he tried to hold on to Lincoln.
“You’re only fourteen. I could get into trouble.”
“What if I was older, would that make any difference?” Michael asked innocently.
“You’re my brother. I love you, Mikey, but it’s wrong, legally, in pretty much every way.”
Michael’s dejected look nearly broke Lincoln’s heart. “Oh.”
From the time he was born, Lincoln knew he’d do anything for Michael. When their mother died, Lincoln quit school to support himself and his brother – sometimes turning to criminal acts to do so. Everything he’s ever done was to help Michael. Maybe now that Michael was starting to explore his sexuality, he’d find a nice girl to settle down with. The last thing Lincoln ever wanted was for Michael to follow him into a life of crime and Lincoln would do anything to keep that from happening.
Michael leaned against the chain-link fence that separated the Gen-Pop yard from the Death Row quarantine. On the other side Lincoln crouched against the wall. He didn’t notice Michael. It’s just as well. Michael could imagine the reprimand he’d get from Lincoln when his brother found out that he had deliberately got himself locked in Fox River. Sure, he told Veronica that he owed Lincoln for the money to get through school, but Michael owed his brother so much more than gratitude for the $90,000 debt that subsequently put Lincoln on Death Row. And it wasn’t something that could be paid back in this lifetime. Even The Plan to get his brother out of prison didn’t cover it.