Let The World Go By
This is a story that involves sex between males. If such a story is offensive, or illegal for you to read where you live, then do not continue, go and surf elsewhere.
This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. If there is any similarity to any real persons or events it is entirely coincidental.
The work is copyrighted © by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.
I want to thank all of you who have sent me comments about the story. I know that I have not answered all of the e-mails please forgive me.
The Years In Between
For both James and Hobbie the days that followed their return from their furtive weekend were filled with activities that kept each of them occupied so little time was spent on thinking of the other. Only the nights were long for them, only then did they have that feeling of loneliness that ached within them.
James' training period was nearing it completions, and assignments were beginning to come in. The usual assignments of for Cooks Training and Military Police were first. The technical specialist training schools were always last. Hobbie found that the strings he tried to pull were firm, and he could not get James' training request changed as he thought he might be able, and so James would be going to the Electronics Training School at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois as planned.
However, the orders had been delayed due to some administrative foul-up engineered by Hobbie to delay his departure two weeks after graduation. It meant that James wouldn't get a leave before school. It did give them the additional time together they wouldn't otherwise have had. It didn't delay James' training, as the class was not due to start until the third week anyway, and he'd have spent the waiting period pulling KP at Scott until classes started. Hobbie knew the ins-and-outs of the military quite well. James was assigned to the supply unit temporarily while he waited for his orders and had all the privileges accorded a permanent airman on the base. It meant that he worked eight to five, and the weekend free, the same as the rest of them. Only Hobbie had duty sometimes at night, but most nights he was free too.
They spent the time going to movies in town, and taking long drives at night. Only occasionally would they go to the bathhouse. Most nights they spent in Hobbie's room alone. Airman Stans was on leave, and Hobbie had arranged it so James stayed in Stan room until his orders came in, and Hobbie's next group of new trainees would arrive the week after.
Although they both knew it would soon end, neither of them spoke of it, and only Hobbie knew when. This he didn't share with James until their last weekend together.
That Sunday night they went to a different place to eat. It was a restaurant at the edge of town, quite elegant and expensive. Hobbie wanted this last weekend to be very special, something that they'd both remember for a long time.
James had sensed that this would be their last time together, as he'd heard that the new class would be arriving on Monday, and Stans was due back too. He tried his best not to let Hobbie knew that he knew, but the feeling of disheartenment which he felt was overwhelming and it showed on his face.
"Don't feel so bad, James," Hobbie said as they finished eating. Neither of them had eaten all that much, this made James feel badly too, it seemed such a waste.
"Hey, that's okay," Hobbie reached across the table and touched his arm.
James bit his lip to keep from breaking down. He blinked back the tears quickly and used his napkin to brush them aside.
"I'm sorry," he sighed at last. "I'm sure this isn't easy for you either."
"We'll make it," Hobbie said, his eyes misted too wishing desperately that what was happening wasn't. Wishing that the time would never come that he'd have to say good bye to this tender, gentle boy he'd grown to love in the short space of three months. But it was not to be, and by the next evening, he'd be gone.
They drove back to his favorite spot looking down over the city. It was still warm, and darkness had fallen. The lights shone along the streets creating an illusion of jewels shimmering on a black sea.
They sat not talking, each leaning back in their seats breathing slowly.
"I wish . . . ," James began and stopped.
"I tried, James," Hobbie said, "I really did."
"I know," James sighed deeply, then continued, "This has been the best time of my life. I've never been so happy, even now when I know this might be the last time, I'm happy. I think that we've had something that will last us the rest of our lives, something most people never have.
"When we look back," he smiled, "we'll see that, and forget everything else that's happened and only see this happy, happy time."
"You're right, James," Hobbie smiled. "It has been really special for me too. I'll never for get you, no matter how many people I meet, or how many years go by, you'll have that special place in my memory forever.
"And someday, like you said, we'll look back and understand what it all means, and why it all happened the way that it did. And it'll be all worthwhile."
They embraced in the darkness, kissing long and tenderly.
And then Hobbie drove them back to the base, and they retired to their bed for the last time, secure in the knowledge that their love was special, and though many more would follow for each of them, that they would never forget this one, and that someday perhaps, they'd know why, why it had to end.
It was hot and muggy that Monday, and James cleaned up his living area in preparations to leave that night. He had moved out of Stans room on Friday so he didn't have to do it Sunday night when he and Hobbie returned. Late that Sunday night, he'd heard Stans come into the barracks, and was glad that it was so late, and glad that the doors did have locks so that he could stay for the whole night, and only had to be out before Stans woke in the morning.
His orders had arrived in the morning mail, and his flight to St. Louis was set for the early afternoon. He spent the morning getting ready, making sure that he had everything he'd need. He went to the Exchange and stocked up on the supplies he might need, extra shaving blades and the like.
He had resigned himself to leaving, and still basked in the glow from their love making of the night before. He was sad, of course, but content. And when the time came that he had to board the bus to the airport, he walked calmly to Hobbie's office in the orderly room and stood smartly before him.
"I'll be leaving now, Sergeant," he said clearly. "I want to thank you for everything you've done for me, Sir." They were not alone, and he had to make it real.
"You're welcome, Arneson," Hobbie stood up and they shook hands. Hobbie skin tingled as he felt the warmth of the grasp on his hand.
"I hope that someday, we'll meet again," Hobbie said, "I'd be proud to serve with you."
"Thank you, Sergeant." James smiled. He saluted sharply, turned and left.
"That's one hell of an Airman," Lieutenant Brown said as he looked up from his desk as he heard the click of heals from his office.
He'd watched as he and Hobbie talked, and somehow knew it was more than it appeared to be. Who the hell cares! he said to himself, They're both good men, and will do their jobs well, no matter what! He went back to his work as Hobbie strode to the doorway and watched as James walked smartly to the bus stop down the street.
James turned around when he saw the bus coming, and looked back one last time at his Black Lion still standing in the doorway.
The flight to St. Louis was quick, barely an hour and a half. Getting to the base from the airport proved a bit of a task. First he had to get to downtown St. Louis, and then find the bus to go to the base.
By the time he reached the drop off point downtown, it was late, too late to get any accommodations at the base. He'd have to stay in town somewhere, but where?
He walked into the hotel where he'd gotten off the bus, and up to the desk. The clerk was an older man, near fifty with graying hair and ruddy cheeks. He gave James directions to the YMCA hotel, telling him to be careful if he was walking. It wasn't that far, but he suggested that he take a taxi. James thanked him and started off down the street.
The man had been right; he should have taken a cab. He encountered various characters; he'd rather not have met. Several looked as if they'd just as soon walk over him, as around him. He looked sternly passed them as he approached them, and they let him be. Hobbie had told him about such situations, and how to cope.
He put his duffel in the small area provided for luggage, it wasn't really a closet, as it had no door, but it had a pole to hang clothes on, and served that purpose. Besides there was nowhere else he could put it. He found that his room looked across the way to another part of the hotel. He opened the window slightly to get some fresh air in the room, it had the musty odor of a closed room. The faint odor of sweetness hung in the air, a scent of some long ago used cologne.
He stood there a moment, all the rooms that he could see on his floor and the floors directly above and below were open too.
Several windows had lights glowing on other floors, but he saw no one. He turned away and went to his bed. It looked inviting. He pulled off his tie and unbuttoned his shirt. He was about to take off his shoes when he remembered that he had no bathroom. He grabbed his room key, and went out into the hall pulling the door closed behind him. He turned and locked the top lock.
Then he looked down the hall to find the bath. A dimly light sign with an arrow pointed in the direction he needed to go. He walked down the hallway, his heels clicking softly on the hardwood floors. He turned the corner at the end of the hallway and followed the sign to the door marked Toilet. He pulled the door open slowly. There was a light on and he walked in.
It was arranged similar to the Y in the Minneapolis where he'd stayed before. A central wash basin area, urinals and stools on one side, and on the other the showers. The showers were separated, but had no covering over the entrances. He heard water running in one of the showers, but from where he was standing could see no one.
He walked into the room and through to the urinals. It was empty and he strode to the closest one and used it. When he finished he walked back to the washroom and rinsed his hands. He turned and looked for the towels, and found that there were none. He shook his hands vigorously getting as much water off as possible.
Just as he was getting ready to leave, a man appeared from the shower area drying his hair with a large towel. Except for the towel in his hands, he was naked, and seemed as surprised to see James, as James was to see him.
Neither of them spoke, instead they both looked at each other briefly, before continuing on with what they were doing.
"Forgot to bring a towel," James said feeling foolish standing there shaking his hands.
"Yeah, I do that too," the man said as he continued rubbing his hair with the towel.
He looked at James, carefully examining what he saw. James trying not to appear to stare could hardly help but notice the trim muscular figure standing before him.
"Just get in?" the man asked.
"Yeah," James said, "In from Texas. Going to Scott." As if everyone would know what Scott was.
"Oh, that's the Air Force Base at Bellevue," James explained.
"You're military then?"
"Naw, just passing through," the man answered. James judged him to be about thirty.
"Well, I guess I'd better get to bed," James said finding he couldn't think of anything else he wanted to say.
"See you later," James said and left the bath room. He turned and went back to his room. He undressed and turned off the light. He climbed into bed a lay quietly for a while, listening to the sounds of the old building. It was still musty and warm in the room. He got up and walked to the window and raised it fully.
As he was just about to return to his bed, when he saw a light come on in a room around the corner from his on the same floor. Must be the guy from the shower, he thought.
He watched as the man stood near the window, still naked with the towel in his hand. The man groped himself slowly, as if he knew someone was watching him. James almost pulled back from the window, but then realized that he couldn't be seen since his room was dark. He stood watching as the man began stroking himself in a slow methodical way, bringing his long slim cock to full arousal. James realized that he too was getting turned-on, and was unconsciously stroking himself.
Embarrassed, he backed away from the window and lay down on his bed. But the feeling would not go away, and he lay there, his cock throbbing over him. He got up and switched on the light. He slowly walked to the window again, pretending that he didn't know that he'd be visible to anyone who was watching. He stood looking out across the way. He stroked himself deliberately, but leisurely.
Without turning his head, he glanced at the window he'd been watching before. The light went off and the room was dark. He continued to stand there were a moment and then went back to bed. He walked slowly back to his bed and turned off the light. Closing his eyes he lay back his head on the pillow trying to go to sleep.
There was a tap on his door, just barely on tap and then silence. He looked up and toward the door. >From the light under the door, he could see that someone was standing there.
"Who's there?" James called softly.
"A neighbor," Came the reply.
James got up and walked to the door. He peered through viewer in the door. It was the man from the shower. For a moment James debated about opening the door. Then he unlocked the door and took down the chain. He opened the door and the man dressed only in socks and his towel stepped in.
In the morning James awoke and found himself in the strange room, disoriented for a moment until he realized where he was. His neighbor had gone back to his room as soon as they had finished having sex.
He got up and stretched. He pulled a large towel from the bar against the wall by the door, and wrapped it securely about his waist. Then he pulled his toilet articles from his overnight bag and taking his key with him, left for the bathroom. It was busy when he got there. There were about six people almost all similarly clad and in various stages of getting ready for the day.
James hurriedly finished his routine and went back to his room to dress. He pulled out a fresh uniform and put it on, checking to see that everything was in order. He wiped his shoes with a shine cloth and packed his overnight bag, returning his orders-envelope to the top. Then looking around once more, he picked up his duffel and went down to the lobby. He turned in his key and received the key-deposit in return. Out on the street he looked for someplace to eat.
He decided that he'd return to the hotel where he'd gotten off. Surely they'd know where he could catch the bus to the base. He was in luck as the young man at the desk this morning, did know, and suggested that he have breakfast in the coffee shop next door, as it was cheaper than the one in the hotel.
James was quick to notice that the young man had given him a careful examination as he stood at the desk with his questions.
"I have a friend at the base," the clerk said as he detected the recognition. The clerk quickly wrote on a card from the cardholder on the desk and handed it to James.
"Maybe you'll get a chance to meet him," he said as he handed the card to James, smiling slightly.
"Thanks," James smiled in return, "And thanks for the help, too."
"See you later."
James walked next door and had his breakfast then walked down the two blocks to where he climbed on board the Bellevue-Scott bus. It was a twenty-five minute ride to the base, and the bus stopped to pick up both airman and civilians along the way. At the main gate to the base an Air Policeman climbed on board and checked the passes of the passengers. James pulled out his orders and showed them to him.
"Get off at J-Street," he said, "The check-in office is just up the street from there."
The AP got off and the bus proceeded on is route through the base. James looked out the window at the street signs and noted how far it was to where he had to get off.
He pulled the signal-cord over the window at I-Street and walked to the doorway. When the bus stopped he got off and walked the short distance to the Training Headquarters Orderly Room. There he received his barracks assignment, and told to report there before the day ended.
As he wanted to get rid of his duffel, he went to his barracks immediately, and signed in at the 42nd Student Squadron Orderly Room. He was told to come back after he put his things away. The procedure was becoming routine, pack-move-unpack and repeat again. Back at the orderly room he filled out the necessary forms and was told to be back at eight o'clock the next morning for duty assignment.
Back at his bunk, he realized that he was free for the remainder of the day. It was a school day, however, and there was nothing much to do until lunch time. So he sat at his bunk and started a letter to Hobbie and one to his family. By the time he finished the letter to his family, it was time to eat. He heard the familiar marching sound as the flight of students approached.
"Dismissed!" Came the called from the leader, and the group of airmen, dressed in fatigue uniforms dispersed and came into the barracks. He watched as they went to their bunks and put away their books and papers from class.
As the airman sat down next to his bunk, James asked, "Do you march to chow too?"
"No, just to and from classes," the man smiled at him. "I guess it's so the traffic flow is better."
"I suppose," James said. "My name's James."
"It's good to met you, James, mine's Charles." They shook hands. "Don't get too comfortable in this barracks," the man said, "It's not likely you'll get this one next week when your class starts." He explained, "Graduation is Friday, and everyone's who's graduating is moving out. The next class starts on Monday, and they shuffle everyone who's new, or staying on for another class to new locations."
"I see," said James. He'd wondered how it worked that he'd gotten in with a group already in class.
"Ready for chow?" Charles asked.
"I guess," James answered getting up. He hadn't changed clothes, but guessed that he'd be less conspicuous if he was dressed the same as everyone else. "Shall I change first?"
"Might as well, you'll be more comfortable," he smiled.
Charles stood waiting pretending not to watch as James slipped off his dress uniform and shoes. James stood in his briefs, he'd resumed wearing them instead of the boxers the military issued, and socks as he pulled out his fatigue uniform from his footlocker. He straightened up and pulled on the one piece uniform, he buttoned it up and adjusted the belt to pull the oversize uniform to fit is waist. Then he quickly sat down and put on his highly polished brogans.
"Ready." James said. They walked to the mess hall and got into line.
"Lines, lines, lines!" Charles smiled. Charles was from South Carolina, and in his fourth month of training, two more to go. He was taller than James, but thin and they probably weighed about the same. His eyes were green and he had slightly reddish hair, cut short military style. It tended to be curly and gave him an impish look.
James asked him about the name of the clerk's friend, Clarence Simmons.
"I don't know him, and haven't heard the name, Charles said frowning. "Must be new, or I'd know him."
"A friend of yours?" he asked.
"No, a friend of an acquaintance," James replied hoping it wouldn't sound too strange.
"I see," said Charles, and he let it go. Lunch was filling, but not too tasty. James didn't mind, as his breakfast made up for it.
"Must be a new class in the mess too," James commented.
Charles laughed as they walked back to the barracks.
"See you tonight, James," Charles said.
"Yeah, later, Charles," James answered. He sat down at his bunk again and took out the partial finished letter to Hobbie.
"Dear Hobbie, I just arrive at the base this morning, as I had to stay in St. Louis last night. It was too late to try to find out how to get here when I got in. Stayed at the Y. It was rather like most, I suppose, but quite old.
"We'll be having lunch soon, I suppose, so I thought that I'd start this before I go. The flight was quick, and I miss you already. . . "
James had left out the part about the incident at the Y, feeling a little guilty about it, so soon after leaving Hobbie.
"It's after lunch now, and I met this guy from South Carolina, named Charles. I think that he's in the club as you say. Tall and kinda skinny, reddish, curly hair, you'd like him, he's cute. From the look he gave me when I changed clothes, he's interested. More on that later!
"Its warm here today, a little warmer than there, and very muggy. Just sitting here in the barracks, I have sweat running down my chest. Feels kinda sexy.
"Don't have any real news yet. Just wanted let you know I arrived okay, and to say that I care. Love, James"
James addressed the letter and sealed it. He put a stamp on it and put is under his pillow with the other letter he'd written to his parents. He'd mail them later when he went to the orderly room.
He lay back on his bunk and folded his arms behind his head.
He thought about the events of the past two days. Things really happen fast, he thought, and he slept.
"Fall out!" James woke with a start. The barracks was soon filled with people milling about. Charles returned and sat down on his bunk. He was opening a letter. James lay there waking up from his nap. Charles sat smiling as he read the letter.
"Darn kid!" Charles said. "Nearly got drowned in the river."
"Your kid?" James asked surprised.
"Oh no," Charles laughed, "Kid brother. Just eight, and loves to swim. Snuck off last week and went swimming by hisself. Current got him and washed him down 'bout half mile before he could climb out. Mama tanned his hide good."
"He was lucky," James said.
"Yeah, he was," Charles said, "If'n it'd been Daddy, he'd a beat on him good."
James liked the way he sounded when he talked. They chatted when Charles finished reading his mail. And when people started going to dinner they got up and walked to the mess hall too.
After they'd returned to the barracks they decided to go to the movies. Just like at Lackland, they had a choice, as the base had three theaters, all played something different. So one could see three different movies each week, unless something special came a long, then maybe just two. Rarely was anything played longer than a week. One theater specialized in the older films, ones they called Classics, and the other two had the new ones.
On the way back from the movie, they stopped at the snack bar. They had sodas and shared an order of fries. Charles reminded James of Jefferson. They both had that country flavor to their language, they even looked a lot a like.
James was already beginning to feel at home in his new location. The men he'd met so far seemed nice enough, even if they weren't members of the Club, and several of them definitely were.
Several weeks went by and James was becoming accustomed to the schedule. Every fifth week he would have KP duty, and the second Saturday of every month would be Wing Inspections with parades, except in December, January, and February, due to the weather. This meant that most weekends he was free from Friday afternoon until Monday mornings. But unless you had a three day pass, you still had to be in by midnight for bed check. The passes were easy to get, unless your grades were bad, and James never had a problem with that. The only thing that kept him on base on weekends was the lack of money. It was expensive to stay off base, unless you stayed with someone who lived off the base. The only students allowed to live off base were married, and only then if their wives lived in the area before you came to school, which in effect eliminated most students.
James set himself a schedule for going off base for any reason. He'd go the weekend after payday weekend, to avoid the crowds, and then only once per month. That way he'd have the money he'd need, and still have some for the rest of the month. His other expenses didn't amount to that much.
His first three-day pass weekend was August 8th through the 10th, since payday was the 1st. He was looking forward to being away from the base. He and Charles had stayed in contact, even after James moved to a different barracks. They were planning on spending their pass together. Charles was fun to be with, and James would be sad to see him graduate at the end of the month. It seemed that every time he found a new friend that he really enjoyed spending time with, either they were leaving, or he was. But he was learning to adjust to the changing pattern of faces that was the reality of military life.
Although they hadn't made reservations to stay anywhere, Charles knew of several inexpensive hotels in the city. They had packed their things in the morning so they'd be ready to leave right after class in the afternoon.
As soon as they were dismissed after returning from class, they changed into civilian clothes and picked up their overnight bags. They met at the bus stop, and climbed aboard the first bus to come along that had room for more passengers. At that time of the day, more buses ran, so they didn't have to wait too long.
They rode all the way to the downtown area of St. Louis. Although there were places to go in East St. Louis, most men went into St. Louis, unless there was something special playing at the theater right on the bus line in East St. Louis. The neighborhoods in East St. Louis were predominantly Black. That alone was not the reason for staying away, it was that the crime rate, muggings, rapes, murders, etc. which would naturally keep most people away. And for the military there was the additional fact that almost all the drinking places in East St. Louis were Off Limits to them.
The first order of business for the two friends was to find a room for the night. Charles suggested The Harrington just off Western Way. It was an older hotel, which at one time was no doubt a very prestigious place to stay. The rooms were large, the furnishing ornate, but the rates were reasonable, and that was its attraction for them.
"The only double room I have left only has one bed in it," the clerk said trying sound routine.
"Okay with me," Charles said and looked at James.
"Yeah, it's fine."
They signed in and took the key to a room on the third floor.
They hung up the clothes which needed to be, and went out for the evening taking only a sweater for later on should it cool off.
Charles knew of several places that he liked to eat, and suggested one which specialized in fish. He especially liked catfish, and since they never had it on base, he liked to have it when he had the chance. The mess hall fish was always a nondescript white fish of some sort, probably cod, no one seemed to know, or care for that matter. It all tasted the same, and was usually deep-fried which made it soft and mushy.
James agreed to the seafood place called Jimmy's Place, and they caught a bus to ride the nearly two miles from their hotel. After dinner they walked back toward the hotel, stopping at several bars that Charles knew about who were not too fussy about identification, unless you were in uniform. Charles was twenty and James just nineteen. The legal drinking age in Missouri was 18 for civilians, and 21 for the military, which made for some strange circumstances at times.
The dinner had been excellent, and they left feeling as though they not have to eat again until at least Sunday. Now James understood why Charles like the place so well, and why walking afterward was a good idea. James felt as though he would fall asleep if he sat down for very long.
The first bar they came to was nearly empty, and those who were there were still the happy hour crowd, mostly older couples, steel worker types, Charles called them. They didn't even have a drink there, deciding to go on to the next one.
When they got up to the next one, it was different. It was a cheerfully light place, with a pool table, jukebox, and booths to sit in. The place was fairly full of younger people, men and women. Some of them had been there a while, and were well on their way to being smashed for the evening. But the atmosphere was pleasant, so they stayed.
At first James didn't pay any attention to it, but now that they were in the bar, noticed it. Charles had been nervous all evening about something, until now. James was glad the Charles had returned to his normal self, even if it took a couple of drinks to achieve it.
They were seated near the back of the bar in a booth. From their location they had a good view of the pool table, two couples were playing eight ball. James, although he enjoyed the game, was not very good at it. And he enjoyed watching it being played.
"Did you see that shot?" James asked.
"Yeah," Charles marveled. "I wish I could do that!"
As they watched, the sound of solid hits and the sounds the balls made as they dropped into the pockets continued.
"You know," Charles said, "I wish that I knew someplace to go dancing."
"You like to dance?" James was surprised; Charles didn't seem like the dancing type.
"Yeah," he said wistfully, "There nothing like holding someone close and gliding across the floor."
"I'll bet you're good too," James said, adding, "Those long slender legs."
"Yeah, it sure is fun," Charles answered and his voice traveled off.
They sat quietly for a while longer, not talking, and not really paying attention to the pool game, or what was going on elsewhere in the bar.
"I need some fresh air," James said, "Want to walk some more?"
"Sure." Charles stood up and they walked out into the still warm, but not uncomfortable night air. They had walked two block toward their hotel when James noticed a side street on which there was neon sign flashing, Blue Days!
"Ever been there?" James asked pointing down the street.
"No, never noticed it before, I guess," Charles answered.
"Want to try it?"
They turned and walked slowly down the two blocks to the Blue Days!. As they walked in James could see that it was not very busy, mostly younger guys sitting at a long bar. There was something vaguely familiar to him about the place. At the back of the narrow room was a sign pointing down a stairway, Dancing.
"We're in luck," James teased, "A place you can show me how good you are at dancing."
"Do you suppose?" Charles said.
"Want to go down?"
"Yeah, I'd like to."
James led the way, and they went down the stairway to the basement. When he reached the bottom and turned the corner to see the dance floor, he knew what it was that had first caught his attention.
"Look!" Charles whispered, "Guys dancing with guys!"
James shuddered and started to turn to leave.
"No! Let's watch."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah," Charles seemed intrigued by the dancers. Some were quite good, but most seemed content to cling erotically to their partners, barely moving.
"Let's find a place to sit," James suggested. "Oh, there's an empty spot, over there."
They walked over to the place were no one was seated on the long bench surrounding the dance floor. Charles watched intently.
"Want a drink?" James asked.
"Naw, I've had enough booze, maybe a soda."
"Okay," James said, "I'll be right back."
James walked the short distance to the bar at the back of the dance floor. He got a beer for himself, and a ginger ale for Charles. When he returned he saw that Charles was on the dance floor. He was dancing with a dark-haired man dressed in torn blue jeans and tee shirt. James sat down and took a sip of his beer.
He watched the two danced, at first he was worried, but as they continued he saw that Charles was enjoying himself. At the end of the record, Charles returned.
"You see me?" Charles asked. The other man did not come back with him.
"Yeah," James said.
"I never was to a place where guys could dance before," Charles said.
"You seemed to be enjoying it," James tried to sound matter-of-factly about it.
"It was fun!" Charles beamed, "Want to?"
"Why not?" James stood up and set his beer in the holder along the wall. They joined hands and danced away. All the apprehension and tension which James had developed in the short time they were down stairs disappeared before they was half way around the floor. They performed well together, as James allowed Charles to lead.
"You're a real good dancer," Charles said as they returned to their seats.
"So are you," James answered. He wondered whether Charles knew what kind of place this was, he had to find out before someone made a pass at Charles and got a busted face for his trouble.
"Charles?" he asked finally, "You know that most of the guys in this place are homosexual, don't you?"
"Does that mean they like dancing with guys?" Charles asked.
"That's part of it," James answered, "They also like doing other things with guys too."
Charles blushed, "Shucks, James, doesn't everybody once in a while?"
"Well," James said considering his answer, "Not everybody."
Charles frowned and then asked, "Don't you?"
James smiled slowly, "Yeah, Charles. I do too." It was done! He could relax now and enjoy himself too. With someone like Charles, it was hard to decide what was real and what was imagined. He was so open and honest that it was difficult to decide which was which.
"I'm glad," Charles said. "I've wanted to since I first saw you. That's why I was so nervous earlier tonight. I was afraid you might not, and I didn't want it to be that way."
James leaned close and kissed him softly on the lips.
They danced again, and the evening passed quickly for them. It was Charles who finally suggested that they leave and go back to the hotel. James agreed and they left the bar and slowly strolled back up the street.
It was nearly two-thirty when they arrived. It was still warm out, and their shirts were damp not only from the heat, but from having been dancing. Charles took off his shirt and lay on the bed.
James walked up to the bed and leaned over. Charles pulled him down on top of him, kissing him. James could smell the odor of a man close to him. He was stimulated by the scent. It was a clean smell, not like someone who didn't bath, but that fresh perspiration redolence which excited the senses. He knew that he too had that animal smell even though he was not aware of it.
James felt the strong arms about him, and eager tongue exploring his mouth. He responded to every touch of the man holding him. Every part of him was eager for that touch.
Charles relaxed his hold on him, and they separated. James went to the doorway and turned off the lights as Charles finished undressing. James pulled off his clothes, anxious to be closer to him, and returned the bed.
In the weeks that followed, James and Charles went almost everywhere together. No one thought it strange, these two country boys, away from home for the first time. That somehow made it all right for them. But the graduation date came, and Charles was being sent to Korea.
The last night that he was there, he and James walked alone along the dimly lighted sidewalk between their barracks buildings. They could not touch, but they were closer than touching. They didn't talk, they just walked. A long firm handshake and they parted, each going to their own beds alone again, wondering if they would ever meet again, each hoping, each knowing the chances would be slim.
James lost interest in going into town; instead he concentrated on his studies. He wanted learn as much as he could about how everything worked. He had to know. The instructors in the classes wondered at the driving force behind his desire to learn. They gave him what he wanted; filling up the unseen void with all the knowledge they had to give.
November brought the first real snowfall of the season, and with it the chill of winter fell across his world. Christmas was not far behind his nineteenth birthday. It was a lonely time for most men in the school, as there was no break in the training for them, if they were more than half way through their course. James' group had but two weeks into the new year to complete before they too would be graduating. Orders were coming in almost daily now, and excitement over graduation and the new places they were going pulled most from the doldrums of the holiday away from home.
A week before graduation, James got his orders. Korea would be his new home for a year. He was relieved to know at last, although he would have rather gone to Europe. He didn't relish the thought of the war in the Far East. It frightened him to think of it, the possibility of dying was there, perhaps not any more so than anywhere else, but it was more visible, and more evident there.
Graduation came, and James said goodbye to is friends and companions, and rode the train north to his home. It was a strange feeling, coming home after nearly eight months of being away. So many things had changed, and yet it was the same place he'd lived before.
James' mother had decided that she would visit her brother, who was also in the Air Force and was now stationed in Spokane, Washington. She and James would travel together, and spend a few days visiting him and his family, which now included the long awaited son who was now just three years old. After a couple of days, James would continue on his journey traveling down the coast by train to California's Travis Air Force Base from which he would leave for is new assignment. His uncle was being transferred to Korea also, but two months after James arrived, and in a different part of the peninsula.
The time passed by quickly. James was boarding the ship and sailing off to a new world.
To be continued
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