Mike and Ashley, Chapter 1

Mike and Ashley, Chapter 1

By Portia Bennett

Introduction: Michele (Mike) Donatella and Asher (Ash) Finlayson meet the summer before their senior year in high School. Ash is spending the summer with his mother in Brooklyn, NY. His parents are divorced. Mike and Ash hit it off right away. There are some secrets to be learned over the next year. Some won’t be revealed for a long time after that. Some unless you figure it out will not be revealed until the very last paragraph of the last chapter – nine chapters from now.

The story is not mine. It is based on a very old tale that might have been part of English/Irish lore, it might be French or German. It might even be Persian in origin. I’ll leave it to you to try to figure out what tale it is. If you think you know, PM me. Don’t spoil it for others.

Although there are characters from other stories who make brief appearances, this is a stand-alone story.


 

This work is copyrighted by the author and any publication or distribution without the written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is coincidental.


 

Mike and Ashley

 

Chapter 1

“Daddy, you asked for me?”

“Yes, I did, and I wish you wouldn’t call me that.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll try to remember. Do you need me for something?”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to go away for a while. This Albuquerque thing is getting out of hand.”

“But you didn’t do anything. You told me that, and I believe you.”

“I didn’t lie to you, Asher. We don’t have anything going on in that area, and haven’t for years. We have good evidence that the El Paso group is trying to set us up for a fall.

“Hell, we’re not even into money laundering. There’s just too many ways it can go wrong, and there are too many people to piss off.

“I’m going to have to hide out for a while, and it’s best you don’t know where. We don’t want to give the feds a chance to slow things down, as precarious as they are right now. I’ll continue to run things from there.

“You’re not going to like this, but I’m going to send you down to stay with your mother. I know you two don’t always get along.”

“Dad, I just got back.”

“I know; however, there’s no one else I can trust to take care of you. I’ve already had the paperwork from your current school sent down there. You’ll be a senior at FDR High School. It’s a good school. Keep your grades up and you’ll be able to go to any college in the country; the world, for that matter.

“Look, do you think you can keep that little hobby of yours under control while you’re down there? You know your mother hates that.”

“How long am I going to have to be down there? I mean, I love my mother, especially since she’s stopped drinking, but she doesn’t understand my cross dressing, and she doesn’t want to. At least you’ve read the material I’ve given you.”

“I’m glad you didn’t hide it from me,” his father said. “I was a bit shocked that first time I caught you.”

“You know, I let you catch me.”

“Yeah, I guess I do. Just cool it around your mom, okay. I’m catching enough grief as it is, and I don’t need your mother piling more of it on me.

“You’re probably going to have to be there your entire senior year. There’s no use transferring back in the middle of the term. I’ll bet you’ll make some good friends down there. You never know what might happen.

“What did you do to your face? Your upper lip looks swollen and your cheek is red.”

“Er, I ran into my bedroom door. I was taking some laundry to the laundry room and I ran into the door. Just real stupid. I was lucky I didn’t break a tooth.”

“Well, be careful. You’re a good looking kid, and I would hate to have you get hurt.

“Niall is going to take you back to your mother’s place on Saturday. So you need to get things together. Please, no bras or panties. She’s bound to find them.”

‘She didn’t last time,’ Ash thought. As far as the swollen lip and cheek were concerned, he was glad he could come up with the story he did. Of course, had his father thought about it at all, he would have realized that the inflamed area was on the wrong side of his face.

Ash did not want for money, as his father gave him a very ample allowance. While at his mother’s flat that summer he had quite a bit of time on his hands. It hadn’t taken him long through his connections on several LGBTQ websites to find an electrolysis shop a short subway ride away. They were friendly and supportive, and didn’t question his age. One of the operators took a shine to him, and he made twice weekly visits. His red hair did not allow laser removal to work very well, so he endured the somewhat painful electrolysis process. The operator told him that the laser treatment probably would have been just as painful.

She told him that he would probably need further treatment as some hairs were probably dormant. There were also some other areas that needed further treatment. He also would need removal of some hair in his nether regions if he wanted to have the operations.

“How come you know so much about this?” he asked through clenched teeth

“Been there, done that,” was the reply.

“Look, if you want to go ahead, you need to be sure. Do your parents know?”

“My father is pretty aware of what’s going on. He knows I’m a cross dresser; however, I don’t think he really understands how I feel. Still, he’s never been abusive or nasty to me. My mother’s the problem. They’re divorced, and I’m spending the summer with her. I’m from Boston.”

“I figured that. You drop your R’s where you need them, and add them where they’re not needed.”

“I thought you were the one who talked funny.”

“Let’s get serious for a moment. Are you taking anything: blockers, hormones?”

“Not right now. I’m thinking about starting blockers; however, I want to do it right. I’ll be eighteen next year, and I won’t need parental approval. I don’t think my father will disown me. He really has been great. I think he’ll support me.”

“So you’re not taking anything. You could have fooled me. You know with a little work, you could pass right now. You don’t have a prominent Adams apple. I could do your eyebrows, give you a light perm, and you would have guys, straight guys, trying to pick you up all over the place.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Not at all. Your features are perfect. With hormones, I don’t think you would need any facial reconstruction at all. I spent a fortune on mine. Fortunately, my lover has deep pockets.”

That had been an interesting summer. Not only did he have a major amount of electrolysis done, he’d found a friend.

The irritated, red skin that his father had noticed had been due to an electrolysis session earlier that morning. The technician in New York had recommended a clinic in the Boston area. For some reason he’d had a more severe reaction to the treatment. He was thinking about not going back; however, that decision had been taken away. He was going back to Brooklyn where Amber the beautician and electrolysis technician had treated him like a queen. No that was not the right word: more like a princess. She was a good friend.

There was another friend that Ash had made that summer. Ash liked baseball. The Red Sox were his team, for sure. He’d been coming back from one of his electrolysis sessions, and noticed a game of stick ball in progress. The neighborhood was known as Little Italy; however, it was becoming more and more China Town. The area was a mix of Italian, Chinese, and other groups. Whatever the ethnicity of the area was, stick ball was a major street game. He’d seen a game in progress before, and noted this was the same group of boys playing. Pausing for a moment to watch, he started to check out each of the players.

The current batter was a big kid. Ash had no trouble figuring out that his name was Carlo, as he was being taunted by one of the outfielders, another dark haired kid who was a bit shorter than his adversary. The pitcher was a kid named Wang Hing. His parents owned the laundry where Ash’s mother worked. Apparently, Wang (or was it Hing) grooved a pitch, and Carlo clobbered it past everyone.

“Hey, how about a little help,” the outfielder hollered as the ball bounded towards Ash.

Ash easily fielded the worn tennis ball and fired it back to the requestor. Ash’s arm may not have been super strong, but he was quick and accurate.

“Nice throw,” the outfielder said. “You wanna play? We’re a man short.

“Sure, let me get some different shoes.”

Ash and the outfielder quickly struck up a friendship. His name was Mike Donatella, and he lived several blocks away in one of the larger houses in the area. He was a nice kid, and once you got past the heavy Brooklyn accent, he was nice to talk to and was obviously intelligent.

Carlo Bergonzi was one of his best friends, and he and Carlo were among the leaders of the high school children in the area. Mike (his Italian name was Michele) had been elected student body president for his senior year; something that was an indication of his popularity, and something he couldn’t have done without maintaining good academic standing.

The games became almost a daily thing. They were also able to attend a couple of Yankee Red Sox games. It was obvious Mike had money, as did Ash. They even took several trips to Coney Island. Not all of their acquaintances were as well off as Mike, Carlo, and Ash were, but nobody questioned Mike when he was able to come up with a few extra dollars so that some of the less fortunate of the kids in the neighborhood could accompany them on their trips.

Maybe Ash should have given it some thought; however, he didn’t. For that matter, he also made contributions so that some of the less fortunate could have a good time.

Mike and the others never questioned where he went once or twice a week. Of course his mother never had a clue. She worked all day long at the laundry checking in and checking out clothes. Ash was very pleased with the results of the electrolysis, but as Amber had told him, the process would not be over for quite a while. Still, it was a start.

There was something else that was never questioned. No one ventured into anyone’s home. For some reason that was never discussed, the homes were off limits. Ash’s mother had given instructions that no one was allowed inside, and Ash never gave it a second thought. He thought that was perhaps the reason he was never invited to any of the other homes in the area. There was far more to it, as he would find out.

***************************

“Hey, Mike, guess what?”

“Hell, I don’t know. So what are you doing, growing a beard?”

‘Not hardly,’ he thought. ‘Jesus, maybe he noticed’. “Not a chance. I’m coming back to New York. My Dad’s going to be out of the country on business for quite a while, and he’s sending me back to my Mom for the rest of the school year. I’m already enrolled at FDR.”

“Super, maybe you can help me with my math. I’m going to have to take calculus. You’re real smart and I need all the help I can get.”

“Bull shit, you didn’t get to be Student Body President with bad grades. I’ll be down there on Saturday. One of my Dad’s henchmen is driving me down there. I’ve got too much shit to bring to take the train or bus. He doesn’t want me driving in New York.”

“I can’t say that I blame him. It scares the shit out of me every time I drive; however, I’ve driven through Boston, and it’s just as bad or worse.”

“We’re just smaller, that’s all.

“Stickball?”

“We might be able to get a game or two in. I’ve got a lot of shit to do before school starts. This being Student Body President may be more work than I want. I have to go over there next week. Wanna come along? It’s not far, and I can show you the ropes.

“I think it would be a good idea if some of the macho boys knew we’re friends. You’re not gay are you? I never thought to ask. I mean you’re a hell of a ball player, and I’ve seen you play soccer with some of the guys.”

“No, I’m not gay.”

“Well, you are kind of a pretty boy with that long red hair and green eyes. You didn’t cut your hair off, did you?”

“No, I’d never do that.”

“Just stick with me, and I’ll protect you if there’s any trouble. Me and Carlo don’t take no shit from nobody.”

“That’s really bad English, you know.”

“Yeah, I know, but I gotta keep my tough guy image.

*************************

Well, school was school. The classes were just as difficult as they were in Boston, and there was the usual complement of ass holes who tried to give Ash a raft of shit about his appearance and demeanor. The disrespect tended to disappear during gym class. Ash was a good athlete. He was competitive. His skill as a stick ball player crossed over to his skill as a softball player. They didn’t play baseball during gym class. It was amazing how much respect he could generate just because he was good at sports. He wasn’t great, just good, and that was good enough to overcome his increasingly feminine appearance.

Mike was smart, street smart, but he was also intelligent. He realized there was something different about his friend, but he couldn’t put a finger on it. His presence kept the macho gays, and homophobes from giving Ash too much grief; however, Mike was still concerned.

Had Ash attended FDR High School for the entire three years, he would have been in contention for valedictorian; however, that was the least of Ash’s concerns. His time was running out, and he couldn’t delay things much longer. With or without his father’s approval, he was going to start his transition as soon as he got home. He’d sent applications to a number of schools, and he’d just been waiting to hear back from one of them. His ACT and SCT scores were good enough to get him into any college in the country. His father had dreams of him becoming a lawyer or maybe a doctor. Ash’s interests were closer to the later, but what he really wanted to do was become a pediatric nurse. He wanted a BSN. His father might accept that; however, more importantly, Ash wanted to transition.

Things almost fell apart a month before graduation. There was always a little interplay going on between Mike and Carlo. It was obvious that there were familial relations between the two, and as curious as Ash was about his friends and what their families might be doing, he’d learned long ago that one did not pry or ask too many questions. Just listen.

Suddenly, several things came together. Ash realized that Carlo and Mike would often talk around things – just like his father and his cohorts would do when there were outsiders around. Ash suddenly realized how stupid and naïve he’d been. He wondered if Mike had been as naïve as he’d been.

A week before graduation he knew he’d have to find out. He found Mike one of the few times that Carlo wasn’t anywhere near him. “Mike, is there a place where we can talk and not be overheard?”

“Sure. Why?”

“I’ll tell you when we’re alone.”

Mike led him to a secure area in the library. It was a sound proof room used to listen to recordings.

“This should work,” Ash said after closing the door. “Mike, you have been a great friend; probably the best friend I’ve ever had outside my father. Just sit there and listen to what I have to say. I can’t believe how stupid we’ve been. I’m sure our fathers would be real proud of us – not – if they ever found out what’s been going on.”

“I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” the puzzled Mike responded.

“I didn’t either until a few days ago. I’m just as clueless as you have been, at least I think you’ve been.

“I’m going out on a limb here, but I know I’m right. This is really crazy, and I should have realized it last summer. Your father is Giovani, ‘Johnny’, Donatella isn’t he.”

“Well, yes, he is.”

“Mike, you idiot, my father is Sean, ‘Irish’, Finlayson.”

“Holy shit! Aren’t we supposed to be mortal enemies or something like that?”

“One would think so. What do you think?”

“I think we’d better keep this under our hats. As far as I’m concerned, we’re best friends.”

“Carlo’s father is Beniamino, ‘Benny, The Enforcer’, Bergonzi isn’t he? I’ve been so stupid. I should have realized all this last summer. It would probably be best that he doesn’t find out about this.”

“I agree, he can be a bit hot-headed at times. I know you’ve seen that.

“So that’s why you’re down here. Your dad was hiding out until after the grand jury no billed him on that shit the El Paso group was trying to frame him with.”

“I see you’re up on things. That’s good.

“Say, how come we’re supposed to be enemies, anyway?”

“I don’t know. Something happened before we were born. Somebody got into some one’s territory or something like that. I think there were a lot of insults thrown back and forth. I have a feeling that your Irish heritage and my Italian heritage were thrown back and forth. I guess our parents’ hatred for each other is supposed to trickle down. I don’t think it did. Maybe they’ll get over it one of these days.

“In the meantime, I guess we’d better cool it.”

“Perhaps the best thing would be if we didn’t act as if anything had happened. The last thing we want to happen is to have someone realize what our relationship is.”

The Senior Prom several weeks prior to graduation had been a non-event for Ash. Mike had taken his current squeeze, and they’d ended up at a Manhattan Hotel. Ash had felt the need for companionship more and more. His mother was there, but she didn’t offer much in the way of companionship. Ash missed his father, but he’d seen him soon enough.

Graduation came and went. Ash had his 4.0 and Mike wasn’t far behind.

“I haven’t heard you say much about it,” Ash had said one day about four weeks prior to graduation, “but where are you going to college? With your grades, you should be able to go about anywhere.”

“My Dad wants me to go to a major university and get a business degree. He wants to groom me to take over the family business one of these days. He won’t listen to me when I tell him I want nothing to do with it.”

“I know what you’re saying. I’ve basically told Dad the same thing,” Ash replied.

“I’ve been accepted at several good schools. Dad made me send in applications. The thing is, I’m not going to any of them. Remember that teachers’ day the week after my birthday?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I enlisted in the Navy. Dad’s going to be pissed as hell, but there’s nothing he can do about it. I’m over eighteen. I’m not sure at this point how long I’m going to stay in. I just need to get out of this environment for a while.

“Since we’re talking about this, what’re you going to do?”

“I have been accepted at several good schools, and I’ll have to let them know pretty soon. I know I’ll be going to one of them.” But it won’t be as Asher Finlayson he mentally added.

Two days after graduation the two friends shook hands, hugged, and said goodbye to each other. Niall O’Malley was sitting in the loaded car waiting to take Ash back to Boston.

Ash had already said goodbye to his mother before she had to go to work. Things had smoothed over between them a little bit. She continued to complain about how long Ash’s hair was. She would never see Asher again.

________________________________________________________________

So, what is this ancient tale set to a modern world? Nope, not Romeo and Juliet; good guess, though. Ash’s father didn’t seem to be too upset about his son’s cross dressing; however, for Ash, now for sure Ashley, it is much more serious than that. I think Ashley’s father knew that. PM me if you know the tale.



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