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Climbing the Corporate Ladder
Chapter Three: Bittersweet Memories
Brian spent the rest of that afternoon playing catch-up. 90 minutes away from his desk and the constantly fluctuating markets which he could interpret better than anyone could be extremely expensive... especially as the London exchange was closing.
"Mr. Atwater, Will McIntyre says he will join you for dinner. I've made the reservation and told your butler about your plans", an assistant announced from the door.
"Thanks", Brian replied, still pouring over the Hong Kong futures. Around 7pm he felt satisfied that he had made up for lost time, and putting work aside for a moment, he opened his drawer full of personnel folders searching for one in particular:
McIntyre, William J.
Brian reviewed Will's academic transcripts, some notes HR reps took during the interview process, and copies of his diplomas. Will's birthplace was Allendale, Iowa, and his elementary and high school both had the name "Allendale" in it. Where was Allendale? Brian clicked on Google maps to find his way around Iowa, and discovered Allendale was half way between Algona and Mason City, as if that really mattered. He'd never heard of either. He'd never even been to Iowa. Why would he? Brian clicked on Google "satellite view" and was surprised to see nothing- big open spaces of nothing. He zoomed in closer and saw more of nothing. Crazy that people still lived in places like that.
Going back to the file, Brian found a memo bearing his initials as indication to go-ahead with the hire. Had he really not even remotely glanced at this kid before his onboard? Brian was disappointed in himself. A passport sized photo was paper-clipped to the folder: Will's badge ID. He had a nice smile. Brian stared at it a few moments, lost in thought.
Will looked nothing like Harry. Different hair color, different eyes, different smile. But there was something so similar. Brian removed the paper clip and held the picture in his hands. He hadn't allowed himself to think about Harry in years. Now he couldn't stop.
Freshman year of college can be tough for any kid: away from home for the first time, strange bed and stranger roommates , trying to study and make friends simultaneously, not to mention the social pressures of being in the right fraternity or right club. From the University of Hawaii to the University of Miami, it was the same combination of nerves and pressures young kids felt on every campus.
Now imagine freshman year at Princeton for a shy, poor kid from the Philly suburbs.
Brian Atwater was blessed with loving parents and solid family, and he was fortunate to not face the physical abuse common in the Irish households around Philadelphia where alcoholism was an accepted condition. His dad was a bus driver, his mom a maid at a hotel downtown, and though they never went to bed hungry, the Atwaters were a struggling family. Dad still had some medical issues from Korea, and the VA never seemed to come through with promised support. Brian never owned a suit and had 1 pair of dress shoes for church. (Luckily his feet had finally stopped growing!) Brian was a good looking but shy kid, a decent athlete who loved to swim at the Y, play stickball with friends in their run-down neighborhood, and study. In October of 1974, the lanky 6'1'' scored a 1440 on his SATs, and coupled with his straight A average and his less-than-desirable zip code, he received a full scholarship to Penn, Penn State, UVA and Princeton. He may not have the pedigree to fit-in at Princeton, his high school guidance counselor told him, but he had the brains, and it offered him was an unparalleled path to success. Brian, determined to escape the poverty into which he was born, chose Princeton.
Only a few weeks into his first semester he met Harry who had noticed him several times in the pool on his way to the crew team work out room. `This kid is always swimming', Harry thought. He was impressed by Brian's endurance and form, watching him glide almost effortlessly through the water, seeing the calm with which he breathed and turned. Brian moved naturally, comfortably, like he could swim to France without much trouble. Crew team needed some more endurance performers, especially with a graceful stroke. Was he tall enough? Harry couldn't tell how tall he was- just that he was certainly in good shape. Finally, the 4th or 5th day he saw Brian swim laps, Harry decided to ask him.
He was not prepared with how cute Brian was, and the mutual attraction would spark something new inside them both.
Wet, wearing only a bathing suit, chest heaving slightly, Harry watched Brian running a towel across his face and messy black hair. Brian looked all the part of a naïve freshman learning his way in the big bad world of the Ivy League. Harry could tell immediately he didn't come from one of the families he knew. He was just a regular kid. Harry liked that.
"Hey, I'm Harry", he said extending his hand. They locked eyes. Brian smiled.
Harry had soft blond hair, pale skin, a dusting of freckles across his nose and strong, angular features. He was taller than Brian- maybe 6'3'' or 6'4'', wearing warm-ups pants and a CREW tee shirt. Brian was curious as to the introduction, but glad to make an acquaintance. And glad he was so attractive.
"Brian", he said quietly, shaking his hand.
"I was watching you swim. You ever think of trying out for the crew team?" Harry asked.
"No, I've never done crew", Brian stammered.
"Well, you are a good swimmer and you've got endurance and form. We're looking for a few members, if you are interested".
"I thought they didn't let people try out for crew".
"We don't have open try outs, no. You've got to be asked. So I'm asking: you interested?"
Brian passed all the preliminary tests with a breeze: run a mile in under 7 minutes, tread water for 5 minutes holding a beachball above your head then swim 10 laps. He was definitely in shape. They had him practice rowing in an indoor facility, and within the hour he was comfortable enough with the form and motion that he was ready to row outdoors. Over the next few days while he went through the try-outs, he developed a natural bond with Harry, a "legacy" sophomore whose brothers, father, grandfather had all gone to Princeton. Brian was glad to finally make a friend, and though they lived in separate dorms and had separate schedules, they immediately became buddies. After 10 practice sessions the Captains of the crew team huddled with the coach: Brian was accepted. Harry took him over to the Crew Team House to celebrate.
"Next semester you should apply to move in here", he said.
"You can do that as a freshman?", Brian asked taking a sip of beer.
"Yeah, now that you are a member. It's pretty stellar". Brian looked around at the dozens of photos of past crew teams, trophies, and plaques. The old Victorian house was a museum of stature and history. Brian was humbled to be part, but felt slightly out of his league. "Let me show you my room so you can see what they look like. Trust me, you'll want to live here."
Upstairs Brian was impressed by the spacious, individual rooms along the hallway. It was cleaner and quieter than the dorm. Heck, the leather furniture and oriental carpets were nicer than his house. Harry had a big queen sized bed pushed against the wall under a large window. The bed was completely unmade and messy, and despite a ton of clothes on the floor and books and papers scattered throughout, the room was beautiful. A brass plaque on the door was engraved with a name: Arthur Harrison Kraft, IV.
"Who's Arthur Kraft?" Brian asked.
"That's my real name, but everyone calls me Harry", he responded lying down on the bed, kicking off his shoes.
"That's one long assed-name!" Brian joked. On the shelves were several photographs: Harry on a boat raising a sail, in a tuxedo with people who liked like his grandparents, on a tropical island, in a costume on a gondola in Venice. Brian surveyed the contents of the room, Harry watching him in interest. About 20 pairs of shoes, coats, blazers, sweaters, silver watches on the table, ties and bowties over the chairs. "Um, are you rich?"
"My family has money, yeah", he said casually. "A lot of the guys on the team are from prominent families. Brad is a Pillsbury, Steve is a Hawthorne. Bobby and Craig, the twins? Their mom is a Mellon".
"Are you a Kraft, like the food company?"
Brian made a whistle sound. "Wow. So did you already know those guys?"
"Yeah most of us grew up together in the U.E.S. Our families keep their primary residences there", Harry said closing the door.
"Where's the U.E.S?"
"Upper East Side? Of Manhattan", Harry replied, slightly incredulous. Who doesn't know where the U.E.S is?
"You know, no one cares that you're not from there. You're a good rower", Harry confirmed pulling some small, white papers from a plastic bag in his nightstand drawer.
"It's just kind of weird. I feel like... out of place a little is all".
"Don't worry. I'll take care of you if anyone gives you any shit. Smoke?" Brian looked up to see Harry offering him a joint. His heart skipped.
"I've... um... never done it before".
Harry had been actively experimenting with drugs for years. Like most kids from the "U.E.S", their moniker of choice, he grew up too fast with too much disposable income and not nearly enough parental concerns. Alcohol was common in 8th grade. Pot was a high school drug. Harry had done coke a few times and really liked it- problem was it was hard to come by in Jersey. But he had connections. He stuck to pot- it was more readily available. A few beers and some puffs later, Brian had begun to feel things he never thought possible. Suddenly the door flew open. It was Terrence Trapp, the Crew Team Captain. Brian jumped up and put the joint behind his back, convinced he was off to jail.
"There's my man!", he shouted putting Brian in a headlock and mussing his hair. He let Brian go, took the joint, and inhaled deeply. "You are going to be a rock star on the team, dude", he said. "I'm glad you joined us. Hey there's an open room across the hall from this dick, you should just move in now".
Brian began to calm down. Clearly rules about drug use didn't apply to the Crew Team house. "I...ugh.. didn't think I could until next semester".
"Fuck no, just move. Who gives a shit. You don't want to stay in the freshman dorms, they suck. Hey did you tell him?" Terrence asked Harry.
"Was about to", Harry said with a laugh.
"Good luck, man. Don't be last!" he joked poking Brian in the chest. "I'm taking this", he said walking out the door with the joint. Harry stood and closed the door behind him, putting on the deadbolt this time.
"Fucking guy is always taking my pot", he mumbled.
"Tell me what?" Brian asked inquisitively.
"Yeah- it's a little tradition. And I thought a few puffs of this would make it easier. All the new crew members every year have to play sugar cookie".
"What's sugar cookie?"
"Ugh. You don't know?"
"No, but I get the feeling I'm not going to like it".
Harry smiled and shook his head, reluctant to have to explain. "OK- so here's what happens. All the team gets together downstairs and after a few drinks we put the new guys in a circle on their knees. They drop trow, and there's a cookie on the floor in the middle. You all jerk off sort of aiming at the cookie. Last one to cum has to eat it".
"BULLSHIT!" Brian exclaimed with a feigned, nervous laugh.
"Yeah- dude it's a tradition, I swear. I did it, Terence did it. We all did it".
"Oh fuck man. I don't want to do that".
"Just don't be last".
"Jesus Christ. And if I don't do it?"
"Oh you don't want to back out man. Better to come in last and eat the cookie than back out. Last guy who did- the Crew Team made his life so miserable he transferred to Brown".
Brian sat in silence for a few seconds, his heart racing. Ever since he was 13 or 14 swimming at the Y he'd worked on not staring at other guys, not in the pool, not in the showers, not in the locker room. He'd sprung and erection once when he was a kid as he watched some varsity players changing. He didn't know what caused it, and why he found naked guys so arousing, but he swore to never let that happen again. He'd become almost a little dead inside, and was pretty sure "sugar cookie" was not going to be easy for him. Either he'd shoot almost instantly, and the guys would be freaked out by his obvious sexual arousal, or he'd be so nervous he'd be last, and he didn't want to have to eat a spunk covered cookie.
"Don't freak out, Brian. It's no big deal and like I said we've all done it".
"Yeah", Brian whispered.
"You ever jerk off with another guy?"
"Come on, let's practice", he said pulling Brian over to his bed to sit down beside him.
"Yeah man, you're first time can't be Friday in front of everyone. You'll freeze up, and I don't want you to lose".
"How did you do your time?" Brian asked.
"Oh man I shot within like a few seconds. I was first by a ton. I didn't even get any on the cookie. It went like straight and landed all over Evan's leg. Everyone laughed. Well, Evan didn't. But the rest of the guys did".
"Yeah I'm kind of nervous about going really fast, too".
"To be honest, the whole thing I thought was kind of a turn on".
After a few seconds of pause, Brian admitted "That's what I'm afraid of".
Harry and Brian made eye contact now, no longer thinking about hypothetical scenarios or past performances, but instead acutely aware of the present. It was late afternoon, and the fading sunlight cast shadows through the windows while the hushed, muted noises of Indian summer buzzing and humming filled the room with symphony of sounds. Harry smiled at Brian. His pretty eyes stared intensely, curiously at Brian so filled with desire and so afraid to strike. He put his hand on Brian's thigh.
"This ok?", he asked. Brian swallowed hard.
"You want to practice?" Harry asked.
"Yes, please", Brian responded innocently. Harry stood and pulled down his pants and briefs and sat back down naked on the bed next to Brian, who looked down fascinated, hungrily at his pale white penis with tufts of light blond hair. He wanted to reach out and touch it. He refrained.
"Pull your pants down", he said. Brian obeyed, and sitting back down Harry let out an audible gasp at Brian's larger, strong cock, fully erect, poking straight up. Harry was taller, stronger, older. Brian was bigger.
They lay back, feet firmly planted on the ground with their pants and briefs around their ankles. Their arms rubbed against one another as they began to jerk, and the bed shook slightly. They spoke no words, made no noises, only heavy breathing and rhythmic, steady beat of hands on meat. Harry turned and looked at Brian, and Brian turned his head to catch his glance.
"Let's take our shirts off", Harry suggested. They both stripped off their shirts, and resumed the position lying so close, too close, almost on top of one another, shoulder to shoulder, brothers in a special bond. They stared deeply into one another's eyes, pleasuring their hearts and minds with their looks while they pleasured themselves with their own hands. Harry smiled again, a tender, loving, gentle smile. It was too much. Brian twitched, his eyes squinted, his breath stopped and his face flushed red. He had finished.
"You'll do fine on Friday", Harry whispered. Brian giggled. "My turn", he gasped as his whole body turned pink. Brian watched as his shoulders shook and his mouth made an "oooohhh" face with no audible sounds coming out. Suddenly a large "splash!" hit him on the chin, and his whole body began to tremble. Brian sat up to see, fascinated Brian could shoot so far. His own stomach had a few drops, but mostly his pelvis was covered in mess. Harry, however was wet from the chest up, with splashes on his pecs, necks and shoulder.
"Holy shit", Brian whispered, visibly impressed and aroused by Harry's distance and volume. Harry pulled him back down on the bed, face to face, inches apart, so close he could feel the air of breath from Harry's words.
"You ever taste your own cum?', he whispered. Brian's pupils dilated. "Be honest".
"So you know what it tastes like. You should taste mine". Brian didn't know what to say. "Just in case you lose on Friday".
"I'll do it, too", he said reaching down and feeling Brian's pelvis with his free hand until he found a puddle of wet. He brought it back to his mouth and licked whatever the wet was, and swallowed. "Now you".
Brian followed Harry's lead and reached over rubbing a finger across his shoulder. A long trail of thick, white cum coated his finger, and Brian slowly brought it to his mouth. The smell was intense, the texture was thick and sticky, like warm, Clorox flavored jam. He hesitated, and looked at Harry who nodded in approval.
After swallowing, he felt Harry reach out for his hand. Brian offered it. Harry rested his head on Brian's shoulder, held his hand, and fell asleep. Staring at the ceiling, tasting the remnants of cum and feeling the thickness of Harry's seed coat his throat, the warmth of Harry's body penetrating his own flesh, his new special friend resting by his side, Brian Atwater knew he had become a man.
"Sir, your car is here", an assistant said at the door.
Brian looked up from his desk, a single tear in his eye.
"You ok, sir", the assistant asked.
Brian smiled. "Yeah, I'm fine. Um... what time is it?"
"8:10, sir. You have dinner with Will McIntyre in 20 minutes".
"Thanks", Brian said. Those memories were so intense that the passport sized picture of Will he was holding had crumbled into a ball.