David J. Lavallee



We are not breeders. We are chosen to lead. Now fifteen, we are free from the burden of raising our own children. Born after the war, all of our energy was to be spent building a new and better world. But what if I was attracted to a girl? How would that threaten my future as a visionary? What if the others had secrets too? With my twin brother and Dani by my side, I thought we could bring great change to our dusty, desert outpost. And with our project soon to be unveiled to the other territories, a drifter warned me of a deception so great that it threatened to destroy us all. With inner struggles mounting and chaos erupting around me, the water was snaking its way to our pueblo. After all this time, the seeds had been waiting. I needed to make sure as hell that it was not too late.

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If Boys Could Hold Hands

Garrett Dumaine seems to have everything going for him. He has a beautiful girlfriend and is a starter on Crandall High’s basketball team. But deep down, Garrett holds a secret that he knows will change his life forever. The flame never seemed to go totally off, but would flicker and spit on low when it had been stymied or smothered.  He was tired of being vigilant. Tired of always needing to watch. Tired of a flare-up that he needed to ignore. 

His neat and organized life starts to unravel when he meets Luis Velasquez, a new transfer student. Although awakened by his secret relationship with Luis, Garrett finds it increasingly difficult to maintain one foot in each world. And when tragedy strikes, nothing can prepare Garrett to confront the person that holds him back the most...  

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An excerpt from If Boys Could Hold Hands-

Summer always held a promise of opportunity, the start of the impending school year a new beginning.  Just like spring and early summer rains bring vibrant greens and earthly scents that awaken the secrets of natural orders, the school year offers a similar arousal. Preparations begin deep in your roots to gather up materials for an impending dry spell, to ride out the storm with caches of perfectly sharpened #2 pencils, glossy covered notebooks and composition books, crisp and unworn clothing, binders with folder flaps and dividers. Perhaps now armed, teachers do not face a chance at catching you off guard, making example of a weakness, a crack in the wall. Yet, the languid heat of August softens the attempts at preparedness by seeping into the muscles and sucking moisture from moving bodies.

It was the last week before school would start. Garrett Dumaine stood alone along the banks of the Winnepaug River, escaping the heat of the day among the white pines and scattered hemlock groves. Light filtered and played among the shadows of the old growth forest that still clung to the banks of the storied river, where great peoples once speared brook trout from triangular rock traps in the lower rapids now exposed during late summer’s drought. Where water endlessly worked to round rock, smooth over rough edges. Where dreams and thoughts playfully glided in between boulders and circled in foamy eddies and pools momentarily before being carried again. This was a sanctuary for Garrett. It was a place for forgetting. But it was also a place for remembering. Time seemed to shimmer on the quieted rapids and zigzag back and forth on the backs of dragonflies. Carried this way and that, but never away from the river, just into the shadows, the piles of fallen leaf litter, the cattails among the flood plains, and back into the naked light. Garrett’s best friend, Kevin, was to meet him down along the banks at five-thirty for some evening fishing but Garrett had been hanging around the river since he got off work. It had been an early day for him with the temperature reaching the mid nineties by eleven o’clock that morning.  Roofing starts early and finishes early as black shingles tend to melt in workers’ hands. Tar becomes molasses in the unforgiving sun and shingles stick to each other not wanting to ever let go. Like the bread in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that has sat for a few hours in a school backpack. No point to go on and compromise quality of waterproofing the roof. And sometimes the body refused to go on anyway; it just didn’t seem right especially with a book of shingles on the shoulder and a ladder that reached up into the ungodly blue skies. Dizziness brought the stars out a little early and that’s when one step at a time seemed like a fool’s mantra.  One more step might just be the last and there wouldn’t even be a shadow cast upon a limp body. The Reaper is not a fool either; he would mill about in the shadows of the forest, and wait ‘til sundown to end that long afternoon of suffering. Screw this! Garrett’s boss and foreman said, and he could not have spun the newly laid gravel out from his rear tires more quickly.

Garrett’s now bronzed skin from a summer of construction work was slightly stained with the white of salty perspiration. And so the river would feel good once he waded into it. But for now he just stood and enjoyed the peace away from the air compressor, the skill saw, the nail guns. After a morning of the usual banter and work conversation, the sexual jokes and exaggerated escapades, Garrett did not know if the pounding of his head was from dehydration, banging against 2x4s, or the draining outbursts of testosterone-driven conversation. Understandably, the sounds of the river and forest were welcoming.  They played tricks upon Garrett’s mind, lulling it into a trance-like state. His breathing grew shallow and even. Thoughts drifted much as the yellow and silver-speckled spinner Garrett launched out into the gently moving current. As it hung in the air, carrying its spider web leash, it flashed a signal, inviting Garrett to follow beneath the surface.

It replayed again.  

He had forgotten his towel. Beads of water hung and glistened along his forehead, collarbone, and stomach. Garrett threw over his towel before Kevin could play host, a simple and kind gesture, but he wished he hadn’t done it as soon as the towel left his hands. Luis rubbed his face into the soft fabric, his lips brushing against the cotton fibers. He traced the towel along his neckline and down over his chest. He then guided the towel along his waistline before pressing it into his swim trunks. 

Garrett stared out across the river and into the darkness of the forest beyond. 

It didn’t start with Luis Velasquez. He knew that much was true.  

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