The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men. If you shouldn't be reading this, please move on.
In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms. In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.
The author retains all rights. No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.
The town of Stafford, the Sunrise Arts Center, and all the characters in this story are fictitious.
Special thanks to Mickey S. and Drew Hunt, who have provided inspiration, advice, and encouragement throughout the writing of this series.
Whitney and I were having lunch at Applebee's. We'd both ordered salads and what in the South we call "ice tea." As we waited, we chatted a bit about what happened in our lives since our last lunch together two weeks before. He was so busy that I often got only a glimpse of him those Thursday mornings when I was on the desk. Then I took a sip of my tea and said, "I've been meaning to tell you something."
He leaned forward and looked steadily at me, obviously waiting for me to go on.
That monosyllabic question took me by surprise. "Well, I just thought – "
"Jon, your sexuality is your business. You don't have to tell anyone about it."
"True enough, I suppose. But I'm surprised to hear you say that."
"Well, you don't make any secret about being gay."
"True, but would you know to look at me?"
I grinned. "Yeah, I think so."
He raised an eyebrow. "You already knew I was gay."
"Uh huh. But I'd have guessed anyway."
"Jon, aren't you stereotyping? Is it the way I dress? The pony tail?"
"No. I'd say your sartorial style might suggest that you're unconventional, an artist perhaps. But that's not it. Aren't you forgetting something?"
"What? Tell me."
I laughed. "I can't believe you don't know."
He grinned. "So tell me, dammit!"
Still laughing, I said, "It's the studs, stud," pointing to his earrings.
"Sheesh!" He didn't smack his forehead, but he looked as if he was about to. "Those things are so much a part of me I forget they're there." He paused. "They were given to me by someone I cared a lot about at one time."
"I take it he's no longer in your life. I don't want to pry, but would you mind telling me what happened?"
As we worked on our salads, he told me about Kyle, who'd been his lover for five years and then rather abruptly taken a job in England. "We just realized there wasn't all that much left between us. What with breaking up, the show in Charlotte, moving here, finding a house – I just never thought about the studs." He reached up, removed the earrings, put the clips back on them, and put them, and put them in his pocket. "I'm glad you mentioned that, Jon." He paused for a sip of tea. "Now, if I may ask, why did you tell me you're gay?"
"Because I needed to tell someone. It's really lonely being closeted. I just want to be able to talk about it sometimes."
"I can certainly understand that. But you're from Stafford. Don't you know anyone else in town who's one of us?"
"Not anymore. There was this guy in high school, but I haven't seen him since I left for college. He probably has a bunch of grandkids by now."
"I thought you said he was gay."
"I did. But most of the gay men of my generation went with the flow. They got married and lived `lives of quiet desperation,' to use Thoreau's phrase. I wouldn't be surprised if Burke wasn't one of them. Especially if he stayed around Stafford."
"So, you've just come out to me. How about Clearfield? I didn't know you well then, but surely you could have been out there without any problems."
I told him about Will, how long we were together, how happy we were with each other, what a blow it had been when he died. The memories came rushing back in the telling, and tears came to my eyes. Whitney reached across and put his hand over mine.
"Jon, I think I can imagine your pain. I'm glad you told me about Will. Do you think you're at a point now where you would like to have another guy in your life?"
"Yes. I know Will would want me to. But at my age that's not likely to happen, especially here in Stafford. I'm beginning to wonder if I made a mistake in coming back."
"Hey, Jon. You're a great guy. And you still look pretty hunky, too. Don't sell yourself short. And don't give up hope." He paused for another swallow of tea. "I think, though, that maybe I gave you the wrong advice a while ago."
"When I said your sexuality was no one's business."
"Well, if your potential mate is around, how's he going to know you're available if you don't advertise a little?"
I grinned. "Are you suggesting I should get my ear pierced?"
He returned the grin. "What would be the negatives to that?"
"First of all, there are my relatives in the area."
"How close are you to those folks?"
"Not close, really."
"Then what's the problem? You can be discreet, of course. I'm not suggesting that you become a flamer. But in the circles you normally move in, why not let it be known, quietly, that you're gay? If your kith and kin find out, so what?"
"That seems logical, Whitney. I'll think about it. No, dammit, I'll do it!"
"Get your ear pierced?"
I chuckled. "I don't know. Maybe. But I'm not going to hide who I am anymore. I thought I was through with all that when the 70's came to an end. This is the 21st Century, after all."
I reached for the check.
"I knew I was doing the right thing by coming out to you. It's been good just to be able to talk about it. Thanks for the advice. And thanks for being my friend."
That afternoon I cut the grass. As I tramped back and forth across the lawn behind the Toro, I wondered how I was going to discreetly come out to the people at Sunrise. Then I realized that I knew people through Holy Trinity, too. And I was pretty sure the curate, Father Gary, was gay. Maybe I should have a talk with him.
One day when I got back to my office after lunch Jean told me that Louis had called and said he wanted to come by and talk with me after school. She'd checked my calendar and told him it was okay. My palms began to sweat. In a purely physical sense, I wanted the boy. I wanted to taste him all over. Then I wanted to lie on my back and invite him in. I hadn't been excited by a teen since I was one myself. But then there was something especially enticing about Louis. And it seemed as if he was coming on to me. But I knew I mustn't do that. He was, after all, still a minor, and even if he weren't I couldn't get involved with someone his age.
Fortunately there was the usual parade of people in and out of my office that afternoon. The chairman of our fundraising gala, which wasn't until after the first of the year, stopped in to run some ideas by me. Gwen, our bookkeeper, came in to go over some things. Jean had lots of stuff for me to sign. And Jerome, the hunky custodian, came to ask for the next afternoon off so he could go with his church choir to sing somewhere.
A few minutes after three I looked up. There, leaning against the doorframe, was Louis. He had on a red tee, tan cargos, and Birks. My heart did some sort of flip. I won't mention what was happening further down. He was looking at me with a strange expression on his face. He wasn't smiling. He just looked as if he liked what he saw.
"How long have you been standing there?" I asked, standing.
"Not long. But I was enjoying it. How are you, sir?"
"I'm great, thanks, Louis. And I'm glad you came past. We have some things to talk about."
So help me, he licked his lips.
"Yeah, we do."
"What say we take a walk, or go sit on the bench under that big oak tree over next to the drive?" I wanted to have some privacy for this conversation.
It was a beautiful day, sunny, around 80, with a little breeze ruffling the leaves. I was tempted to untie the leather thong that held my hair in place so it could blow in the light wind, but I thought better of it.
Just before we left my office, Louis had dropped yet another manila envelope onto my desk. He didn't put it in the in-box. He dropped it square in the middle, expecting, probably, that I'd look at it as soon as he was gone.
We sat on the bench and swiveled to face each other.
"Louis, your pictures are stunning. I'm so impressed with your talent. If you really want to stay with that as a career, we need to start applying to the best art programs right away."
He smiled, modestly. "Yeah, Mr. Blount says that, too."
"Then we'd better get on the stick, hadn't we?"
"Yes, sir, I suppose we should."
He had his head bent down a little, so he seemed to be looking up at me. Again I was charmed by the sound of his surprisingly deep voice. I wondered if he sang.
"Could you show me some examples of your work in other media?"
"Sure, but I'm not as good with the paint stuff."
"I imagine you're being modest. Please put together a folder for me."
His smile nearly blew me away. "Sure, if that's what you want."
"That's what I want." I paused and looked up at the leaves in the tree, hoping to find the right words for what I needed to say next.
"Louis, why did you put those nude shots in with the others?"
"Didn't you like them?" His look was very serious.
"They were excellent work, as I'm sure you know. Of course I liked them."
"Then is there a problem . . . sir?" He smiled again
"Look, you still haven't answered my question." I wasn't sure I really wanted to know the answer, but I had to ask.
"I told you I think you're very sexy. I was, well, I hoped that if you saw those pix you'd think I was hot, too."
"Louis, you are an incredibly beautiful boy."
He huffed. "Boy? I'm not a boy. I'll bet my dick's as big as yours. And I'll be eighteen in a few weeks. What's my age got to do with anything?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you. Let's say you're a beautiful young man. You're a hunk, and I think you know it. You wouldn't have taken those pictures if you hadn't known how nice your body is. What I want you to tell me is why you showed them to me."
He looked at me from under lowered lids. "Because I want you to make love to me."
I had guessed that was coming, but I still wasn't prepared for the rush I got when he said it. And my cock, which was always a little swollen when I was around Louis, began to grow yet harder.
"I shouldn't tell you this, but I'd love to have sex with you. Making love, Louis, is another matter. That comes when two people are ready to commit themselves to each other, to want to be together for the long haul. I don't think you're ready to do that. You have to go to college, get started on what I hope will be a brilliant career."
"But, sir –"
I held my hand up. "Let me finish, please. As for just having sex, there's no way that can happen. If I so much as touched you with any sort of sexual intent, I could go to jail. And even if there weren't the law to consider, I'm just about twice your age, old enough to be your father. I'm tremendously flattered that you find me attractive and would want to have sex with me. But it just can't happen. I'm sorry. Believe me, I am." I grinned at him. "Thanks for making me feel so good!"
He grinned back at me. "I'm not giving up. I'll be 18 soon, and the legal thing won't be a problem."
"What about your parents? What would they think? They'd probably come after me with a shotgun. Besides, I'd be abusing my position if I had anything sexual to do with someone your age."
He sighed and stood up. "Will you at least promise me to look at the stuff in the folder I left on your desk?"
"Sure. It's always a treat to look at your photographic studies. And I'll look forward to seeing what you do with watercolor or any of the other media."
"Thanks, Dr. Pell." Brilliant smile. Then he hugged me quickly and jogged off toward the parking lot. I watched the globes of his butt twist underneath the khaki of his cargos and sighed.
I didn't take any work home with me that evening. The art exhibitions and concerts were set for the current year, but we wanted to get everything lined up for the following year as soon as possible. Thus I was spending a lot of evenings looking at slides submitted by people who wanted us to exhibit their work and listening to cd's of people we were considering bringing in for our concert series.
The only thing I took home that evening, however, was Louis' latest folder, the one he'd left on my desk that afternoon.
I kicked off my shoes, poured a glass of cabernet, flopped into my favorite chair, and opened the envelope. I was glad I had brought it home to look at it rather than opening it at the office where Jean or anyone else might walk in on me as I examined the photographs it contained.
There were only half a dozen pictures this time, but they were all of Louis. Obviously taken at the same time as the others he'd shown me, they had the same kind of subdued, sensuous lighting. The skin tones were delicious in these, as they had been in the rest of that series. But these pictures weren't merely sensual. They were pornographic. In one he was on hands and knees with his face to the camera, well, one hand and knees, smiling as he fingered his hole. In another he was facing the camera, tweaking his right nipple with his left hand as his big erect penis pointed directly at the camera. (He was right. It is bigger than mine.) In a third picture, he was kneeling in profile to the camera, head thrown back, eyes closed, as he flogged his meat. The others were similarly erotic.
All of this had to be part of a determined campaign to seduce me. I knew I had to be resolute, but that wasn't going to be easy. I spread the six shots out on the coffee table, set down my glass, and unzipped my fly, allowing my very hard tool to poke out. I was just grabbing it when the phone rang.
"Whitney, quit jerking off and talk to me!"
"Kyle, how did you know, I mean, uh . . . "
"Ha HA! Caught you, didn't I?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I explained. So why are you calling after a summer of near silence?"
"I'm sorry, babe. I've been busy getting a flat and a car, meeting people, putting down roots. I'm sure you know what I mean."
"I do for sure. How are you, Kyle?"
"I'm fine. I've wondered a lot about you, but I thought you might not be eager to hear from me."
"Why would you think that?"
"Well, I had the impression that you were pretty hurt by my moving on."
"At first, maybe, but I realize now that you were right."
"You know I still care about you, don't you?"
"Yes, and I still care about you, too. I wish you all the best. Tell me, Kyle, have you met anyone interesting yet?"
There was a pause. "Yeah. Simon and I are living together, in fact."
"That was quick! When did you meet him?" I wondered whether Kyle had in fact known Simon before he and I broke up. Could Simon be a reason for the move to Manchester?
"I met him as I was searching for a place to live, actually. He's an estate agent. We hit it off so well, that we, uh – I guess I don't need to go into that."
I chuckled. "No, Kyle you don't. I really hope, though, that you and Simon will be happy together."
"How about you, Whitney? Have you found anyone special yet?"
"'fraid not. Well, I've met someone who's special in his own way, but not for me."
"Whitney, baby, you're being cryptic. Tell me!"
I told him all about Louis. How gorgeous he was. About his apparent determination to get me into bed. About the photos.
"Well, Whitney, I don't see the problem. You said he'll be 18 soon. Wait till he is and then fuck the bejeesus out of him."
"God, Kyle, you don't see the ethical problem there?"
"Well, I know you well enough to see how you'd see it. But seriously, what's wrong with a little dark meat chicken, especially since the kid is obviously in love with your pale, blond beauty and that hair. When you fuck him, you must be sure to let down your hair, as you always did for me."
I was hurt by that. Letting down my hair so it fell over both our faces was always something special I'd shared with Kyle.
"Whitney, are you still there?"
"Yes, I'm here. Sorry, there was some static on the line." There hadn't been any static. I'd just let my mind wander back to some of our lovemaking sessions.
"I was asking about the weather there in Stafford."
"Oh, we're having sunny days and cool nights. An occasional thunder shower. It's really beautiful here, Kyle."
"You make me envious. It seems it's done nothing in Manchester but drizzle for the last week or so."
"Are you enjoying the city otherwise?"
"Yes, it's splendid. And Simon's the best possible person to introduce me to its delights. We went to hear Dawn Upshaw sing at Bridgewater Hall the other night. Splendid in its way, but I'm not much into sopranos. You'd have enjoyed it more than I did. But Whit, the city has a wonderful gay community. Simon says it has a gay population second only to London. There are some fabulous places along Canal Street!"
We chatted a few minutes longer, and he rang off. Talking with Kyle had been cathartic. If there was any residual regret over our parting, it was gone. I still cared for him, as I'd told him. I hoped he could find something with Simon he never found with me. And I decided I was definitely over him.
Louis. Now there was my problem. What was I going to do about him? Would he take to heart what I'd told him that afternoon? I hoped he would. But then a voice inside reminded me how much I really wanted to get into bed with the boy. That's about when I remembered what I had been doing when Kyle called. I went back to the sofa, dropped my khakis and boxers, picked up one of the pictures, sat, and grabbed myself.
Not long after the lunch where I came out to Whitney, I remembered that I had once been a member of Integrity, an organization for gay and lesbian Episcopalians. I went online and found out that the only two chapters in the Carolinas were in Wilmington, NC and a little town south of Columbia, SC called Swansea. Neither was anywhere close to Stafford. Oh, well. It was worth a try.
A few days later, I went to see Fr. Gary at Holy Trinity. He seemed glad to see me, but then that was his job. About Whitney's age, I guessed, he was dark and wiry. Cute. I thought the two of them might enjoy each other. I'd only recently learned that Whitney and I both attended Holy Trinity. It had just never come up in our lunchtime conversations.
I didn't beat around the bush with Gary. I just asked him if there were any gay men's groups connected with the parish or in Stafford that he knew of.
He didn't ask why I would come to him with a question like that. Our gayness was just acknowledged and accepted without comment.
"Jonathan, there's a men's book group here at Holy Trinity. It doesn't identify itself as a gay group, but most of the members are gay. And the rest don't care. I schedule the meetings, see that there's plenty of coffee, and moderate as needed. We just had a meeting, so the next one won't be for two weeks. We're going to be talking about a new book that night. It's Spanbauer's "The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon." If you're interested, I've got copies here. We ordered them from A Different Light Bookstore. Would you like to buy one, read it, and come to our next meeting?"
"That sounds great, Gary. Just promise me one thing."
"When you introduce me, don't tell them I was an English prof. That's a conversation killer in many groups."
He smiled. "I can imagine it might be. So, okay, I promise. But it will be great to have you with us. And who knows, you might meet some special guy."
"Who said that's why I'm here?"
"Come on, you haven't been in town that long. You're gay. You're lonely, right? Why else would you be here?"
"Father, you're very perceptive. And quite right."
I thanked him. He found me a copy of the book, for which I paid him, and I left, feeling hopeful about the book group. Even if I didn't find anyone, I'd enjoy talking about books with other guys.
I was fascinated by Spanbauer's novel. It's about berdaches, or trans-gendered people in the Crow culture.
When I arrived at the meeting, I was surprised to see about twenty guys there, ranging in age from one in his early twenties, a student at the local community college, to several who looked almost as old as me. We all had to fill out and put on name tags. I hated that. Our dean had been a fanatic about name tags, and I'd always detested them. But I could see the utility of them in a setting like this.
We were offered coffee before Gary convened the meeting. Then he introduced me as a new member. He said I'd moved to Stafford recently, that I was retired, that I was a parishioner at Holy Trinity, and that I volunteered at Sunrise. True to his word, he didn't say anything about how I used to earn my living. Then he introduced Frank, who was leading the discussion that evening. Frank didn't have to work very hard. Just about everyone seemed to have read the book and to have been excited by it. We all had questions or comments. I had resolved to keep quiet and listen, being the newbie, but I couldn't help making a comment or two.
When the discussion was finished, Gary invited us to have more coffee. There was also a chocolate cake from the bakery department at Winn Dixie. As we were eating cake and sipping our coffee, Frank came over and introduced himself. He said he was Frank Cummings, that he was head of the English Department at Stafford High, and that he would be retiring in a year or two. He really surprised me by saying he knew who I was. He knew I was a native Staffordian because he'd had a couple of my cousins' kids in class. But what really surprised me was that he'd read several of the articles I'd published over the years.
"Why didn't Gary tell the group who you are?"
"Because I asked him not to. I thought having an English professor in the group might be intimidating. I confess I was also a little worried that I'd be asked to do a lot of presenting, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that."
Frank smiled and said that he understood both reasons. As I was about to leave, we shook hands. He said he was glad that I'd joined the group and wondered if I'd like to have dinner with him sometime.
"Are you alone, Frank?"
He looked a little sad. "Yeah, I am. I've been looking for the right guy all my life, but don't seem to have found him. And in a place like this, it's not easy. We're lucky Fr. Gary got this group together. I'm not sure what would happen around the community if it became know that we are mostly a gay group."
I told him I'd love to have dinner with him sometime soon. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, and Frank moved on to talk with Father Gary.
Just as I was about to leave, someone tapped me on the shoulder.
"What's the matter, Jon? Don't remember old friends?"
He looked familiar, but for the moment I couldn't place him. Then I looked at his name tag.
"My god! Burke!" I hugged him. "How the hell are you?"
He smiled sadly. "I'm okay I guess. But I sure am glad to see you, Jon. Father Gary said you'd been back in Stafford for a couple of years? Where've you been hiding?"
"Burke, it's a long story. I don't suppose you want another cup of coffee. Would you like to go somewhere for a drink? Or come back to my place?"
He looked a little uncomfortable. "Where do you live?"
"I'm in the family house. I've owned it since my folks died, but I rented it to my cousin until I retired and moved here a couple of years ago."
"I'd really like to catch up on your life. But I have to be careful. Could we go back to your house for a while? That is, if you don't mind?"
"My dear old friend, I'd love it! Do you have your car here?"
"Sure enough. I'll meet you there in a few, okay?"
"Okay. See you there."
When I pulled into my detached garage, a black BMW sedan pulled into the driveway behind me. I waited for Burke to get out, and we went into the house through the back door.
"I've got wonderful memories of being here, Jon. You've fixed the place up some, but it still looks real familiar."
"Burke, it's good to have you back in this house again. What can I get you to drink?"
"Bourbon and branch would be nice if you have it."
I fixed one for each of us, and we settled in the family room.
"This has been added on, hasn't it? I don't remember it. When we were in high school, we'd have been sitting in the living room." He smiled. "Or up in your bedroom."
"Yeah, it's one of the things I did while my cousin and his family were living here. They needed more space, so we added this about ten years ago."
He looked around. "It's nice, Jon."
Somehow I didn't think he meant just the house.
I asked him to tell me about his life since we'd lost touch with each other. I was feeling very guilty because I hadn't made a lot of effort to write him when I'd gone north to college.
"Well, bud, I can't complain. I went down to Columbia to school and stayed on for law school. Then I came back here to practice. I had a stint a few years ago as District Attorney, but now I'm back in private practice."
"And doing well, from the looks of that car you drove up in."
He lifted his glass to me. "Like I said, Jon, I can't complain."
"You and I are the same age. How come you haven't retired?"
"I've been thinking about it. Good knows I don't need the money. But I don't know what I'd do all day if I did."
"Tell me, Burke, are you alone?"
He smiled sadly at me. "If you had asked if I was lonely, I'd have said yes. Alone, no.
I've got a wife, three kids, and a passel of grandkids. I've been blessed with good health as well as financial and professional success."
"But . . . ?"
"Well, shit, Jon. You should be able to figure that out. I'm gay as a goose. Always have been. But I never had the guts to tell anybody but you. And when you disappeared up north, I did what every self-respecting Carolina boy does. I found me a trophy wife and married her. I've lived according to the standards of the community ever since. Don't get me wrong. I love Marcy. I love my kids. And the grandkids are the greatest thing in my life. The only thing is . . . "
He took a gulp of his drink, and I saw tears come to his eyes.
"The thing is, Burke, surrounded by loved ones as you always have been, you've always been lonely. You've wanted a good man in your life."
With tears streaming down his cheeks, he just looked at me and nodded. I went over to him and held my hands out. He took my hands. I helped pull him up and led him to the sofa. Then we sat side by side. I put my arms around him and held him. He smelled wonderful. His hair was silver and a lot thinner than it was when we were in high school, but it was still the Burke I had held back then. I kissed the top of his head. We stayed that way for a while, maybe a half an hour.
Finally, I said, softly, "Burke, do you want to . . . ?"
He pulled away from me, looked up, and smiled. "No, Jonny. Well, let me rephrase that. Yes, I WANT to. But I can't. I have commitments to my very good wife. I won't be disloyal to her or to the vows I made her. But I love you for offering. I have to tell you Jon, I've always loved you. I've thought about you so much. When I saw you there this evening, I wanted to come over and grab you and kiss you. But of course, that would have created a scandal in the community."
"Burke – "
"I know. It's sad. We might have had something wonderful together if only the times had been right. But you made other choices, and so did I. I'm glad you're back in Stafford, Jon. Maybe you can come over to dinner sometime and meet Marcy. She's heard me talk about my high school friend Jon, but I'm sure she doesn't have any idea how I felt about you. Or even about the fairly innocent things we did. I know you are a gentleman and wouldn't ever let her know about any of that."
"Of course not! And I'd love to meet Marcy."
He stood, carried his glass to the kitchen and put it in the dishwasher. Then he turned and hugged me. "Welcome home, Jon. It's good to have you back, buddy."
To be continued