Max H. firstname.lastname@example.org
This story involves sex between guys. If you shouldn't be reading stuff like that, move on.
The characters in this fantasy may not always practice safe sex. In the world we live in everyone should practice safe sex.
It's okay to print this story out or save it to disc, but it remains my property. Don't transfer it to another website or archive without my permission.
I've thanked my friend "the Marine" before for his help with the part of the series having to do with Mike's friend Jeff. I'm happy to tell you that "the Marine" joins me as co-author here. He has written most of this chapter. Please write to me at the email address above or to him at email@example.com if you want to comment.
MC = Mike Cronin JF = Jeff Foster
The paddle smacked against bare skin, creating a most satisfying sound. Jeff Foster, openly bawling now, didn't even retain his stoic Marine bearing enough to maintain count. Putting the paddle down, I moved forward, my hard dick aimed at the entrance to this Jarhead's asshole. Without warning, lube, or preparation, I plunged all the way in. Jeff screamed in shock and pain but was so resigned to what was happening that he made no attempt to struggle. His helplessness intensified my sense of absolute power. After months of being dominated by Seth Watkins, I was top man for a change. The sweat glistened on Jeff's body under the bright spotlight of the room, and the image, along with the sensation of having my cock in his ass was fantastic. I increased the tempo, building toward a climax.
Suddenly the view changed, and I was momentarily disoriented. The room was dimmer, with only a night light on. Glancing to my right, I could make out Jeff lying prone on the bed, blissfully asleep, his butt openly and innocently exposed, but not any more abused than when we went to bed. So this had all been a nasty dream. I glanced at his face, so totally carefree and trusting.
Feeling something damp, I reached down and found a pool of cum on my abs. A wave of guilt swept over me. I had gotten off dreaming of abusing, and, worse, fucking my "brother". And here he was, less than two feet away, even though he knew I was gay, because he trusted me. Feeling desperately guilty, I closed my eyes, trying hard to go back to sleep.
I took my seat in my sociology class, noting that Jeff hadn't gotten there yet. The professor came in and was checking attendance, using her seating chart. I had taken out my notebook and pen and was ready for class to begin when a tall guy in Marine cammies entered the room and went to talk with the prof. He spoke with her quietly. He was well over six feet tall, looking the very model of a Marine, neatness personified. Although the day was cloudy, he was wearing sunglasses. I wondered if he did that to look intimidating. If so, it worked. I couldn't imagine why he was there or what he wanted, unless it had something to do with Jeff, who still hadn't showed up.
"Yes, go right ahead," the professor said. "Squad!" the tall ROTC guy said. Four more cammy-clad men came into the room and lined up at attention in the front of the room.
"Mr. Cronin," the professor said, "these men have some business with you."
Me! What the fuck did they want with me?
"On your feet, Cronin!" the tall guy said. He didn't yell. He just said it in a normal tone of voice. He walked over to where I was sitting and looked down at me. I stood up.
"What's the problem?"
"You are, maggot!"
I gulped. "Me?"
"Yes. You are Michael Cronin, right?"
He looked at the prof. "May we continue with this man's punishment, professor?"
"Punishment? What's going on?"
"You will speak only when told to. Listen up. You have abused a position of trust."
I was about to protest, but then I remembered what he'd said and stayed quiet.
"You were supposed to help initiate Recruit Foster, but you overstepped the bounds. You were much too harsh in the punishments you meted out, and you went one step further."
Too harsh? Did I really? And what step further?
"You ENJOYED what you were doing, Cronin. The Corps does not condone cruelty. And you failed to observe the difference between discipline and cruelty. So you will be disciplined, starting right now."
He looked back at the four guys standing at attention. "Gentlemen, you know what to do."
The cadets came over to where I was standing, and the tall guy stepped back. They pulled me forward until I was next to the professor's lectern. Then two of them held me while the other two unfastened my jeans and pulled them down. Despite my outraged protests, they pulled down my boxers. And there I was, bareassed in front of the class, who were all sitting there, in shock, I think.
"Bend him over," said the tall one.
I was bent over, my naked butt facing the class. Tall one produced a paddle from somewhere. "In case you don't recognize this," he said, brandishing the paddle in my face, "it's the one you used to brutalize Recruit Foster."
I didn't think I had brutalized Jeff. I certainly hadn't intended to. Had I enjoyed paddling him? Well, maybe a little. I did have a hardon when I was finished, but who wouldn't, looking at that cute butt of his?
"We wanted to strip you naked for this, slimeball, but Gunny said it was too cold outside." There was a pause, and then I heard a swish. I yelped as a blow landed on my ass.
"You know what to do, Cronin."
"Count `em off, stupid!"
What the fuck? I wasn't a goddamned Marine! Why should I count for him?
He hit me again. "We don't start the count until you do."
"Sir! That's one, sir!"
He gave me ten more, and I counted them off. Tears were streaming down my face, not so much from the pain, though my butt was really smarting, but from the humiliation of being paddled with my naked rear on display. I thought all that kind of thing was in my past.
"Now, pull up your pants and come with us."
"If you think I'm coming with you, you're crazy!"
"You will come with us. These men will see to it," tall guy said.
I pulled up my jeans and buttoned them up. The four cadets or recruits or whatever the fuck they were surrounded me.
Tall One turned to the professor. "Thank you, ma'am for letting us do this."
"Not at all. Thank you for seeing that this nasty young man gets what he deserves."
The class broke into applause as I was escorted out of the room. Once outside, I was taken toward the ROTC building. But we stopped four times to repeat what had happened in the classroom. Each time, I got ten swats with the paddle on my naked butt. Each time I had to count them off. Each time, we gathered a small crowd of onlookers. Each time Tall One explained what was happening. And each time, there was applause as I was marched off to whatever awaited me. By the last time, my butt was really sore, and my boxers rubbing against it as we walked made it hurt even more.
What hurt most, though, was the humiliation of having my ass displayed in public, of being publicly punished. It didn't help any that I had sprung a boner which just kept getting harder each time I was stripped and paddled. Some of the onlookers pointed to it and giggled.
The ROTC building was an big old stone structure called the Armory. I was taken to the basement into what looked like a classroom. There were blackboards at one end and along one side, and there was a teacher's desk at the end of the room, though there were no student desks.
I was taken to the middle of the room and released. "Now, strip!"
"Hey, look, you haven't really let me explain about this. I don't -- "
"Quiet, Cronin. You will speak only in answer to a question."
"Strip him, and shove a sock in his mouth."
I was stripped, and one of my socks stuck into my mouth. I don't know where it was coming from, but from then until it was all over, I heard "Bolero" playing. I could see no speakers in the room. Perhaps I was the only one who heard it, but it was there. The scene was weird enough, but suddenly I was seriously freaked.
"Fasten him to the desk," the tall guy said.
I was taken to the teacher's desk and forced to lie across it. My feet were on the floor and my torso stretched out on the desk. The four cadets tied my hands to the legs of the table, but my legs were left free.
"Very good, gentlemen," Tall One said. "Do your duty. And you, Cronin, count `em off."
One by one the four guys raped me. I had had some rough sex when I was hustling on Key West, but nothing like that. One of the Marines approached. His nametag simply read "Williams". He spit on his hand and used that and whatever precum there might have been. Then he plunged it into me, and I screamed into the sock that was still in my mouth. He hadn't bothered to undress. I could feel his pants against my thighs. He had merely dropped trou and hiked his shirt and undershirt up out of the way.
He fucked me fast, hard, angrily. It was meant to be punishment, and that's what it felt like. When he came and pulled out, he stood there. After maybe thirty seconds, he slapped my butt.
"Count `em, Cronin."
"Sir! That's one, sir!"
"Don't forget again, or it will go worse for you."
"Sir! Yes sir!"
The other three followed suit, and I remembered to count after each of their assaults. "Bolero" continued to play in the background.
After cadet number four was finished and had put himself back together, Tall One said, "Untie him and turn him over." They undid the ropes and flipped me over on my back. Then two took my arms and two my legs. I was scooted so that my ass was at the edge of the desk. My legs were pulled apart and held in the air.
The boss guy came over and dropped his pants. He had the biggest cock I'd ever seen. It must have been thirteen inches and was as big around as my wrist. He leaned over and spat in my face. Brandishing the paddle, he demanded, "See this number? This is the exact number of blows you gave Foster. Did your instructions tell you to hit him that many times? Now he can't even sit without hurting!" The number stood out accusingly in red against the wooden paddle.
"We thought Foster had made a mistake when he asked a faggot to be his initiation supervisor. You just didn't get with the program, Cronin. You weren't supposed to get the hots for him. You weren't supposed to get off on paddling him. You weren't supposed to give him so many pushups. You weren't supposed to fuck him! You lost control, and that's why you are being punished."
My hole was gaping open and leaking cum from the four guys who'd previously raped me. This guy just lined up his cockhead against my opening and thrust in. Again, despite the loosening up I'd gotten, I screamed into my sock. He fucked me for what seemed like forever. Throughout this ordeal, all I could see was the paddle and the number on it in silent accusation. Then, without any change in the expression on his face, his cock exploded inside me. He pulled his cock from my throbbing ass. He held out his hand, and one of the guys let loose of my arm long enough to hand him a paper towel. He cleaned himself up, handed the towel back to the guy, and put his uniform back in order.
My cock was shriveled. There was absolutely nothing sexy about what had just happened.
"Turn him over again and refasten his arms."
The four cadets did as they were ordered. Then I heard the boss guy walk over to the door.
"He's ready for you now, sir."
It seemed at that moment as if the volume on "Bolero" got louder.
"Thank you, Cadet," a voice said. It was Dad's voice! A moment later, he walked around in front of me. I had to crane my neck to look up to him. He was wearing cammy pants, but no shirt. He was smacking a tawse against the palm of his left hand.
"Michael, after what happened to you last summer, I thought you'd know better. I hope you are beginning to understand sensitivity, thoughtfulness. And to help you, I'm going to have to use this."
He gave his hand a good slap with the tawse. "You won't need to count off the blows. You'll soon be crying too hard to do that."
I began to sob. I wanted to apologize, to tell him I was sorry, to ask what I had done to Jeff that was so terrible. But I couldn't because of the soggy sock in my mouth. My butt was still sore from the paddling, and my asshole hurt from being crudely fucked five times. I couldn't take any more. I was sure I couldn't. And Dad! Dad wouldn't do this to me, would he? What was happening?
I cried so hard my body was thrashing around on the desk to which I was tied. The sock fell out of my mouth. The last thing I said before the first blow was, "Jeffie, I'm sorry."
"Mikey, Mikey! What is it, baby? What's wrong? You must have been having a terrible nightmare. Shhh! It's okay, Mike." I woke up to Gage holding me and making soothing noises. With one arm around my shoulders, he was stroking my face with the other hand. "Don't cry, sweetheart. It was just a dream."
Rivers of sweat dripped from my face and stung my eyes. "Fifty, sir!" I yelled in unison with my platoon mates as we did yet another set of push-ups in the gym at the Armory. I had long since lost count of the number of sets of exercises we had performed since scrambling out of our racks to the shouts of our instructors at 0430 hrs this morning. My muscles burned with the exertion and it seemed like I had sweat gallons as I tried to count off the numbers while simultaneously gasping for air. It felt as if they had heated to gym to around 90 degrees. My fellow Marines seemed to be suffering at least as much, but we were in this together and I wasn't going to let them down. I stiffened my spine, determined not to give in to my exhaustion and to hold my head high. It seemed that even the smallest transgression was punished severely during this initiation phase, which had begun weeks earlier. Sometimes, we suspected that it didn't matter whether or not we did something wrong. Our seniors would find some excuse to get us to the PT field for more "incentive training."
Not that I was complaining. Every ROTC class had to face an initiation, although of course, for the record, this officially never happens. It was just part and parcel of being accepted into the elite Corps that was the Marines and I was prepared to endure this for as long as it took to earn that title. Sure, this year there was an "interesting" twist as some upperclassman arranged for us to get shaved and paddled by a civilian. My butt still hurt when I sat down and my roommate had howled with laughter and couldn't wait to tell the entire floor when he first saw me emerge from the showers hairless from the neck down, but I could live with that. There was still OCS to get through.
Our torture ended for now as we were dismissed to attend our afternoon classes. Four of my buddies and I trotted to the lecture halls. Our uniforms were caked in mud and dirt, the olive green t-shirt underneath turned black from being soaked in sweat. Cadet Brian Williams looked and smelled like he was wearing the same unwashed uniform from two days back. Obviously, our truncated free time was adversely affecting his ability to carry out essential basic tasks, including laundry.
"Hey, wait up, you guys!" A tall, big guy dressed impeccably in Marine cammies ran up to us. The "Terminator" sunglasses he wore hid his eyes, but he had a perpetually friendly smile on his face. I had really liked him since we were first introduced to our ROTC seniors at the start of the year. I had no idea why he persisted in wearing those shades, not that it was even sunny. Believe it or not, his first name was Arnold, although none of us would be caught calling him by his first name during initiation. After all, he was the Marines' ROTC initiation commander this year. All five of us freshmen snapped to attention and locked our gaze straight ahead as he caught up with us. Never, never let the senior ROTC cadets catch you out of uniform or without the proper bearing.
"Y'all going straight to your classes already?" he drawled.
"Sir, yes, sir!" we sounded off, not meeting his gaze.
"Hey, relax fellas. I'm not here to harass you. Don't ya think you ought to go get a shower after the morning PT before entering the lecture hall? You don't want to stink up the whole room do you? That's not the right way to attract the attention of the chicks."
"Sir, these recruits do not have time to go back to the dorms, sir!" I answered on behalf of the rest. The campus was quite large and the dorms were some distance away from our current position and in the opposite direction of our objective - that's destination for you non-military types. The truth was, our classmates were probably used to having a bunch of ROTC cadets dripping with sweat, some even in cammies that have not been washed for a few days, joining them in class. They could smell us a mile away. They were just resigned to putting up with our smell and ran off the first chance they got. Our presentation definitely did not make us very popular with our classmates and we usually ended up sitting together in one corner of the room. I knew this was done deliberately to contribute to our humiliation. But our initiation "instructors" left us very little time other than to attend classes and do the basics. Most of our spare time was spent cleaning our dorm rooms, excuse me, barracks and preparing our uniforms for inspection. Even our reading and assignments were suffering. Good thing I had Cronin submit that sociology project way before the deadline so that was one thing out of my short hair.
Arnold shook his head in mock disapproval, although he still smiled. "Foster, Foster, the problem with you recruits is that you don't think and innovate. We expect that of Marines, you know. You CAN make it to the dorms, shower AND get to class on time if you drive."
"Sir, these recruits don't have a vehicle, sir. And recruits under initiation are ordered to double time from one point to another, sir!"
Arnold sighed. "If a senior ROTC cadet ordered you into a vehicle, would you disobey that order? Naw, I didn't think so. Well my car is right around the corner and I need a shower too, so I can give you a ride. Get in, Marines!"
Actually what he said wasn't entirely true. Arnold lived off campus but since five of us lived at the dorms, that's where he took us. He didn't seem to mind having five dirty, sweaty ROTC freshmen in his spanking new car. I suggested that he use my room to change and lent him a towel for the shower.
Thanks to his generosity, we arrived back at the lecture halls in decent uniforms, looking like parade-ground Marines rather than Marines coming off the battlefield. As the six of us marched from the carpark, I spotted Mikey, excuse me, my "civilian initiation instructor" in the distance walking to the library and waved to him. He smiled and looked like he intended to walk over, but then his gaze shifted to my companions and, especially, Arnold and he suddenly had a panicked expression on his face. He hurried on to his destination, ignoring us. I shrugged and followed my buddies into the room.
The 2100 meeting was the time when the entire ROTC group reviewed the "results" of the paddling. Arriving early, I peeked into the meeting room and saw the paddles arrayed on a table with a bunch of upperclassmen poring over them. Turning around, I bumped into Arnold and instinctively snapped to attention. "Sir, good evening, sir!" I sounded off.
"Hey Foster! You're early, as always. I've been meaning to talk to ya. Come over here!" He led me to an empty office and shut the door. I remained locked at attention. "At ease, Foster. Do you know that of all the freshmen, you took the most number of paddles? Some of the upperclassmen were commenting on that and I was asked to talk to you about it. Is that number accurate or did your friend go easy on you or, um, adjust the numbers?"
So they thought I was cheating or took the easy way out? I set my jaw. "Sir, that figure is accurate, sir. And this recruit was not treated gently by his initiation instructor, sir!" Far from it, actually.
"Whoa! No need to get defensive, Foster. In fact, I stood up for you. I noticed that you winced this morning when one of the other Marines bumped into your ass. I pointed out that you wouldn't have done that if it hadn't really hurt, since you almost never complain. You know, that frat boy who suggested this whole thing wanted to make you drop your trousers in front of the entire group of Marines to prove this. After all, how do we really know that red ass in the photos is really yours? I argued that it would be more decent if we did this with fewer people around, so he agreed to let me be the arbiter of this. Would you object if I took a look?"
Damn it! I never thought I would have to go through all of this. I mean, I can take the tough PT and training, the high standards expected of us in our bearing, our discipline and just about everything we did, but did I really have to drop my pants to prove my butt was red? Then, remembering that Marines in the past had been through far worse in combat zones, I answered smartly, "Aye, sir!" and unbuttoned my pants. It still felt weird but at least I was comfortable with Arnold. He took one look at my butt and declared, "There's no way anyone could fake that. You're good to go, Foster."
We assembled in the meeting room, freshmen sitting on the floor as our upperclassmen prowled the sides and front of the room. In front stood a tall, muscular guy, about 6'3", obviously a jock. It was he we had to `thank' for this new fraternity-style initiation and his peers often referred to him as "Frat boy". Right now, he had a look of anticipation on his face as he held one of the paddles.
"Ladies," he specifically emphasized that word, "you will be glad to know that the paddling stage is over for all of you. Some of you did very well. Foster over here took the most hits and I'm told acquitted himself very well. However, there were some slackers. Williams! On your feet!" Cadet Brian Williams snapped to attention, eyes locked in front. "Do you have any explanation why you took the fewest paddles of all the recruits? In fact, you took less than half the total that Foster endured. Do you have any commitment at all or is all of this a joke to you?"
Williams looked chastened but tried to retain his bearing as he answered, "Sir, I did my best but I couldn't control it, sir! The tears just started flowing."
"Like the little girl that you are!" Frat Boy snapped, an ugly edge to his voice. "You've been slacking since you first arrived, Williams! It's time you got the proper motivation. No matter, we will take the necessary, uh, disciplinary action to rectify this. Dismissed, all of you. You have gotten through one of the minor phases of this initiation. By the way, Foster, good job. We might make a Marine out of you after all."
I thought nothing of Frat boy's sinister statement until I saw Brian Williams sitting on a bench by himself in tears the next day. "Hey, Williams! What's up, man? Frat Boy give you some trouble?"
Williams looked at me through his red eyes, "Somebody slipped the pictures to my girlfriend. All of them, the shaved body, the red ass. She just confronted me after the morning class. Called me a weirdo in front of everybody, showed them the prints and said she wanted nothing to do with me. She probably thinks I enjoy doing this. They promised that none of this would get out past the ROTC group!"
Shit! Had they really done that? Good thing my family was back in California. I couldn't bear to think of their reaction if they saw those photos. Although we were trained to obey orders without question, I felt angry at Frat Boy, who I just knew was the perpetrator of this. How could a Marine not keep his word? Putting my arm around Williams, I said gently, "Brian, it'll be OK. Listen, if you want, I could speak to her and attest that we all had to go through this so she won't think you are weird or anything."
Sniffing, Williams looked at me, "You'll do that? You'll actually admit to someone you don't know that you went through this humiliating process?"
I thought a moment before answering. I sure didn't want the whole world to find out, but if it meant helping a buddy, I guess I would do it. "Sure thing, Brian. Just let me know when, OK?"
I had just settled into my bunk to sleep when an insistent pounding sounded on the door. Opening up, I saw our Gunnery Sergeant looking somewhat disheveled, like he had just gotten out of bed. "Foster, come with me!" Gunny was certainly in a hurry, and stalked off down the corridor even before I had begun to put my uniform on. I hurriedly dressed, slipped on my boots and ran after him. Good thing I had lots of practice getting dressed in a hurry lately.
I saw that most of the other freshmen had been rounded up and assembled in an open area outside the dorms. When we were mostly assembled, Captain Sasso, our Company Commander, with a subdued looking Arnold by his side, addressed us. "Gentlemen, I regret to inform you that Cadet Williams is currently in hospital." A few of the Marines lost their bearing and started talking and looking at one another while still in formation. For once, the seniors ignored this transgression. Even though I continued to lock my gaze straight ahead, my thoughts were racing. Brian was in hospital? Why?
The Captain must have anticipated this, for he answered, "Cadet Williams was beaten up severely by a group of unknown assailants earlier this evening while on his way back from class. Although we cannot prove the identity of the assailants currently, we have reason to believe that some of the perpetrators are from this ROTC unit and that this beating was due to a perception that Williams was not getting with the program. Some seem to feel that he is slacking during training. Now, there will be a full investigation into this. The Marine Corps will NOT tolerate abuse, blanket parties, Code Reds or whatever else it is called. Although Williams is not talking, I am ordering any member of this unit to come forward with any information that is relevant. The guilty will be caught and punished!"
Brian was asleep when I visited him; the only sound in the hospital room was his quiet breathing. I could see the swelling around his eyes and the bruises and cuts on his face. Gently, I put a hand on his shoulder to give him a comforting pat, intending to come back later, but he awoke to that light contact. There was a momentary panicked look on his face as he recoiled in terror, then he recognized me and smiled weakly. "Oh, it's you Jeffie. Er, can I call you Jeffie?"
So far, only my immediate family and Mikey had ever called me Jeffie on a regular basis. With my rigid bearing, to everyone else it was `Jeff' or `Foster'. I smiled, "Yes, Brian, you may. What happened to you? Are you hurt badly?"
"It's not big deal. Just a few bumps." Williams lifted the thin hospital gown covering his body to allow me a look and a lump formed in my throat. This was much, much more than a "few bumps". His body was covered in purplish bruises and there were some cuts on his arms as well. I was later to learn that his assailants had kicked him repeatedly in the groin as well.
"Who did this to you, Brian? Do you know?" I asked softly.
Williams nodded his head but tears began to form in his eyes again. "Yes," he whispered, "They didn't bother to hide their identities. But they said that if I ever breathed a word about this, they would find a way to get me out of the Marines. Worse, the pictures would be posted on the internet."
"Damn it!" I snarled, "Frat Boy and his drunken fraternity buddies! You can't let them blackmail you, Brian. The photos of the shaving and paddling are no big deal if you really stop to think about it."
"Jeff, you don't understand. It's not those photos they were referring to. They...they made me suck them off and took photos of me doing it. Then they stuck some toys up my ass and got photos of that too. So now I am completely at their mercy and have to do whatever they say." By now, Brian was sobbing openly.
This was not going to be easy. But I put on a brave face for the sake of my buddy. "Brian, take it easy dude. We'll think of something OK? Meanwhile, you be sure to let me know if you need anything."
Brian reached out and grabbed my arm, "Jeffie, promise me you won't say anything about what I told you unless I decide to do so."
Recalling Captain Sasso's order to come forward with any information we obtained, I hesitated, then came to a decision. I reached out and grasped his hand firmly. "My word on that as one Marine to another."
Even with this euphemistically termed "incident", the initiation continued full steam and the rest of the week passed in a blur. The upperclassmen never let up in their harassment and punishment and even Mikey had some mild `fun' at my expense.
The investigation proceeded, but it seemed that certain key witnesses had clammed up and were sticking to a common story. With convenient alibis, it was difficult to nail any of the suspects. Nobody, it seemed, could remember Frat Boy's obvious threat to Cadet Williams the night of the meeting. I was tempted to testify, but I didn't know for sure who was involved. Besides, Brian kept insisting that I keep it quiet for now.
I quietly received permission from Captain Sasso and the Gunny to visit Brian every day, partly since I seemed to be Brian's closest friend and the doctors decided that it would help his recovery to have a friend drop by and visit. They also wanted me to try and find out more of what happened. I never broke my promise to Brian to keep it quiet until he was ready to talk, even if it meant going against orders. Most of the time, I visited Brian during what meager free time I had, even sacrificing showers or chow time to drop in. The few times when I had to leave during training, my absences from the platoon were usually on the pretext of receiving some personalized punishment from the Captain or the Gunny for some transgression so that nobody else knew about these visits. Just before rejoining the platoon, after sprinting back from the hospital, I would drop to the deck and knock out 100 pushups to get all hot and sweaty so that it appeared I had been at PT.
Weekends were allocated to our "civilian initiation instructors" to do what they pleased with us, so I found myself again at Mike's lovely house. Since Gage had to make a sudden trip out of state, we were all alone. Mike instructed me to put my duffel bag in "my" room and report to him downstairs.
Just as I entered the room, I heard a ring tone from my cell phone and picked it up. It was Downey, one of the other freshmen, with news about the investigation. Since Brian was hospitalized, the campus authorities were aware of the beating and demanding someone be held accountable. It seems that in the absence of more obvious suspects, Arnold was being held responsible for what happened to Brian, and was suspended from all classes, effective immediately. I thanked Downey for the update and hung up. A heavy feeling set in as I digested this news. In my heart, I knew that Arnold was innocent – he could never do such a thing! Surely the ROTC faculty knew that. The only reason why this happened was because of the climate set by the whole stupid "fraternity style initiation" that was conducted this year. Yet, it seemed that the ROTC faculty had chosen to ignore this fact, to deny the existence of any initiation at all, just to protect their precious reputation. As a result of this, Arnold was being thrown to the wolves. I had a long, friendly chat with him weeks before after he took some time out to help me with some aspects of Marine training I wasn't too proficient in and I knew his family background. Coming from a small farming community, there was no way he could complete college without his ROTC scholarship. And because of what happened, there was doubt he could even choose to hop over to Parris Island to become an enlisted Marine. Like me, being a Marine was what mattered most to him. This wasn't fair!
My thoughts were interrupted by Mike bursting through the door. "Hey, Jeffie! What's taking so long? What the fuck are you doing lying on the bed daydreaming while your instructor is waiting for you? Get your ass moving Marine! You get on the deck, feet on the bed and give me 50, then report to me downstairs! Is that understood?"
I was not in the mood for harassment. I looked up at him and said quietly but firmly, "Forget it Mike. Screw the initiation. I'm not putting up with this any more. I'm thorough with this. I'm withdrawing from the ROTC program."
Mikey looked confused and hurt. "Hey, come on Jeff! I'm not pushing you too hard am I? I thought you were taking it well. You're almost done with the initiation. Why pull out now?"
"It's nothing to do with you, Mike. You're still my best friend and you've only been doing what I asked you to. No, it's the whole stupid system of initiation. First, they run our ass into the ground even though we are doing our best, even though we meet the standards for uniform and barracks inspection demanded by even the strictest Marine unit anywhere in the country! They're just looking for an excuse to punish us for the kick of it, just to get that feeling of power. If that isn't enough, that asshole Frat Boy comes up with this brilliant idea of a fraternity-style hazing, with that stupid shaving and paddling. How does that make us better Marines? And look at what happened to Brian Williams. I would be the first to agree that he may not be the strongest or the fastest and his uniform could use some squaring away. But he is trying and he has shown signs of improvement. He certainly doesn't deserve to be beaten up by cowards who won't take responsibility for their actions."
Mike looked on in stunned silence. Obviously, all he had seen so far was a well-disciplined Marine officer candidate who took everything in his stride, even some nonsense, and never complained. He had never seen me angry. Well, I can have a temper too. I continued, "Do you know that my parents wanted me to go to Med School and be a doctor? Still do. And I could have gotten into the program. Instead, I chose to join the Marine ROTC despite their objections. Why? Because it's something I want to do, something that I believe in. It's a group that I thought I would fit in with nicely, instead of those bratty, bleeding-heart, selfish, individualistic idiots that I grew up with in school. Yet, what do I find here? More of the same. And nothing is done about them. Nothing!"
When I stopped talking, Mike gently put his hand on my shoulder. "Jeff, we don't have to continue this initiation if that's the way you feel about it. But I don't think you should give up on your dream of being a Marine. It's what you've always wanted. Your special initiation week is almost over. Let's just forget it and I'll go ahead and certify that you completed it according to requirements."
Before I realized what I was doing, I shoved Mike's hand away and slammed him violently against the wall, shouting, "That's not what it's about, Cronin! You think I want to cheat and be a liar just to escape a few more days of initiation? What would make me different from these assholes, then?"
I sat stunned on the ground where I had fallen after being thrown against the wall, looking up at Jeff. He had a shocked and panicked look on his face as he realized what he had done. Nevertheless, I involuntarily cringed when he approached and held out his hand to help me up, instinctively wondering if he was going to hit me. One thing for certain, I don't want to mess with this Marine when he is angry.
Jeffie looked as apologetic as I have ever seen him and began to fuss around me like an older brother, checking me for injuries. Gee, if this were the only way to get such personal contact with him, I wouldn't mind being thrown more often. "Mike, I'm so sorry. Are you okay? Do you need medical attention?"
I gave him a rueful grin, "Guess I'm all right. Never been thrown by a Marine before, though."
When he was sure that I was not seriously hurt, Jeff hung his head and said in a subdued tone, "Mike, I know what I did is inexcusable. You probably want me to leave now. I hope you can forgive me some day. I'll go with you to ROTC headquarters on Monday, at any time that is convenient for you."
I searched my memory, wondering why Jeff wanted me to go to ROTC HQ. Had I forgotten something about the initiation schedule? I sure didn't want to risk running into "tall guy," the subject of my nightmare, whom I had seen with Jeff the other day. "ROTC headquarters? Why would I want to go there?"
"ROTC cadets are subject to the authority of the ROTC faculty, and any wrongdoing will be dealt with by them. So, I will accompany you when you report this assault and accept whatever disciplinary action they decide on. After what happened recently, any violence will be looked upon seriously and dealt with severely. They may even decide on a period of confinement. After the punishment, I will leave the program, assuming they don't throw me out already because of this. Of course, if you wish to report this to the campus authorities as well, I will understand."
I looked at him, waiting for him to break out in that infectious smile of his, but I know my "little brother" well enough to know when he was absolutely serious, as he usually is most of the time. "Jeffie, aren't you taking this way too seriously? What assault? You just pushed me and I got a little stunned and fell. Forget it, dude."
"I can't just forget it, Mike. I hit a civilian. And, worse of all, I hit my best friend. You have done so much for me. It's really unforgivable. Marines are not supposed to lose control like that."
I rolled my eyes. Obviously this guy has never seen a Saturday night bar fight in his life! Just which part of California did he come from? Some neck of the woods out in Yosemite? `Hit'? That was nothing compared to some of the things I had seen in Key West. "No way, Jeffie. I'm not reporting this and getting you into trouble for nothing. Let's just leave it. What's the point of having you spend time in the brig? If you want to take it up the ass, there are more pleasant ways to experience it."
Jeff still looked disturbed and didn't even register my joke. "Well, I appreciate what you said, Mike, but I would feel better if there were some way we could even the score."
"Well, I could give you a punch, if that would make you feel better," I joked.
"Sure, that's the least I could do to make it up to you. Go ahead, take a hit anywhere you like." Jeff just stood there, his body completely open to my assault.
I swung my fist at his tummy, but just before I contacted, I decelerated abruptly, so that my fist only bumped him lightly in the abs. "OK, Jeffie, we're even now."
My cute "brother" looked thoroughly confused. "That was it? Surely you can punch harder than that. You want to take another shot?"
"Hey, that's not bad for a civilian. Not everyone is as strong as you are, Marine! And I'm not going to hit my `brother' again."
"Remind me to bring you along for our next PT session," he grumbled, although he was smiling. "Mike, will you forgive me for pushing you?"
"Only if you forgive me for `punching' you," I offered.
"Deal!" He grinned and shook my hand.
I pulled his arm. "Come on, let's go get a drink." Jeff tagged along obediently as I got two beers and opened them. "Does your invitation to your NEXT PT session mean that you are staying in the ROTC program?" I asked hopefully.
Jeff put his beer down and his eyes hardened. "No, I'm still gonna leave. Their initiation has been the most humiliating thing I have ever seen, and it's all for nothing. I can't imagine anyone going through anything worse than this, and I'm certainly not going to do this to work with a bunch of people who have no honor. I don't see any reason to go through this shit anymore."
He would do it too. I knew Jeff well enough to know that he could be stubborn and would not change his mind easily. Yet I could see that he would make a fine Marine and it has been his dream since he was a boy! Silently, I reached a decision. "Come with me, Jeffie."
Jeff looked surprised when I led him to the DVD home entertainment system that Gage had set up in the living room. He reluctantly sat down, looking at me skeptically. "We're going to watch a movie?" he whined. "What is it? `A Few Good Men'? I'm not really in the mood for this now."
I took a DVD from its box, hesitated a moment, then slipped it into the player. Since this was not a professional production, there were no high-tech advertisements and title page. It ran straight into the movie, showing a naked body jerking off, then slowly panning back to reveal the face. Even though I was the `star' of this, I had never watched it before and was seeing it for the first time. Certainly I might even have enjoyed watching it, if it weren't for the circumstances surrounding it.
Jeff jumped up, protesting, "You want me to watch porn? I don't watch porn!" He glanced at the screen, when another male had entered the scene. "Especially gay porn!" Then it registered. "Hey, that first guy. Isn't that, uh, you?" he asked with a shocked look.
I put my hand on his forearm. "Jeff, I know you have probably never watched gay porn before, and I'm not exactly comfortable with this either, but just watch it till the end, OK? Trust me."
By the time the `movie' was over, Jeff was obviously agitated. "Mike, why did you do this? Were you forced against your will? Surely you didn't do this voluntarily."
I explained about how Seth had blackmailed Jason and me into doing all that shit and about my father having to quit his job, my mother leaving, and why I went to Key West. I told him a little about what I had to do there just to get food and how I eventually ended up in Ohio. By the time I was through, Jeff had tears in his eyes.
"Mike, I never knew! Those must be such horrible memories for you. Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me. Is that the nightmare you told me about? You know, Gage will never let anything happen to you. And I'll be around for you too, so you NEVER have to worry, OK? It's going to be all right." To my surprise, Jeff reached out, pulled me into a tight hug and held on fiercely. I returned the embrace, both of our faces wet with tears, enjoying the contact with a guy I had really come to love.
When we separated, Jeff had a thoughtful look on his face. "Mike, I realize why you showed me this DVD. It was to get it into my thick skull that what I going through in the initiation is nothing compared to what you, and others, have experienced. I should stop being such a wuss, and stop whining. And you reminded me one of the reasons why I want to be a Marine. There are bad guys out there, with evil intentions. Somebody has to be willing to fight them and to prevent them from hurting others. So what if there are a few black sheep around? The majority are honest, decent people. Thank you for showing me this, Mike. I'm not going to quit."
I grinned, "Jeff, after a testimonial like that in favor of the Marines, your ROTC commander may be getting an application from me!"
Jeffie smiled back. "I would be proud to have you as my platoon mate, Mikey." He poked me playfully in the ribs. "You could still afford to tone up a bit, but nothing that I can't take care of in a few weeks of intensive PT." He thought a moment. "Wait here, OK?" I glanced, puzzled, as Jeff trotted upstairs. He reappeared a moment later and handed me a CD. "Here, these are the photos of my, uh, special initiation last week. I know you gave me the only copy but now that I don't need it, I want you to have it. I trust you to keep it safe."
The surprise showed in my face. "Jeffie, last week you were embarrassed to even look at this. Don't you want to destroy the CD? We could do it now."
"I did want to destroy it, but I feel that you were part of a special phase of my training and I want you to have a memento of that. Besides," he grinned cheekily, "it's not every day you see such hot photos of a good-looking dude." Well, he was right on that score.
To be continued.