Back when I lived in the dorms, there was this... Okay, well, there was this other kid who had a truckload of Peyote. My mission, should I decide to accept it, was to turn it all into lovely white, fluffy crystals of Mescaline Sulfate. I found Manske's book, The Alkaloids, studied up and had a process in mind. Grind the fresh whole peyote buttons in a meat grinder. Let the grindings dry. Wet them fully in lye water. Dry them again and make numerous extractions with dry isopropyl alcohol. Evaporate this to a tar. Hit the extract with dilute sulfuric acid and fractionally crystallize, working up several crops of crystals, using charcoal to decolorize. This way I got speed and scalability, left the poisonous alkaloids behind and used common, easily obtained equipment and supplies to do it.
First, to test the process. Some peyote was expected later in the week. I was in the laundry room of the dorm, making some 2 Normal sulfuric acid. I had a big cider bottle, some concentrated sulfuric, and tap water. I put some water in the cider jug and slowly started adding the sulfuric to the water. Boy, did it get HOT! I knew it would, but somehow I didn't think it would be this bad. Halfway through, the sulfuric acid solution was boiling. I had to wait 'till it cooled. I filled the sink and let the sulfuric solution cool. In walks this cute blond kid from Virginia. I had lab goggles on, so I didn't exactly blend in. He came over to see.
We chatted, as he carefully -- oh, so excruciatingly carefully -- went through the motions of loading the washer. He explained: his mom had showed him how to do a few domestic things just before he left home. He had never even done laundry before, had never made pancakes, or anything. He was doing it rotely, having never been away from home before. Boy, was he being careful: measuring out the detergent, sorting the colors. He had these darling little undies. I feigned not to drool. I guess I told him about all the caving and having cooled my heels in half the laundromats in Virginia and West Virginia: one sure does get wet and muddy, caving.
There was something so straight about him, so average normal shallow, that it was almost like being around a pre-schooler: you really couldn't put designs on him. Certainly not romantic ones. Sure, he was cute -- very cute -- but so straight, so non-introspecting. He was going to be going to bed tonight with a big grin on his face from the rousing... game of Frisbee... he'd had with his dorm buddies. No introspection here. No pain. No need. No void, yearning to be filled. No needy heart. Just a boy. Sure, you wanted to touch, tousle him -- hell, maybe even devour him -- but there was nobody grown up enough to connect with, inside there. Physically pretty. A soul made of Legos.
By the way, after he left? That damn cider jug decided it had had enough
of this boiling and cooling crap and just gave up the ghost -- plaggh!
-- it just broke open and dumped all that acid down the drain, boiling
as it mixed. Lesson learned.
"So? How are they?" I awaited Will's judgment, proud-anxiously. Okay, so I could do my own laundry, cook a mean omelet, do a lot of kitchen stuff, sew a friggin' parka from a pattern, but I had never made pancakes in a kitchen, before. Camping? Yes. But kitchen pancakes aspire to a higher standard. I recalled my mom making crepes, egg roll skins, stuff like that, and emulated her. I got the pan to skipping-water-droplet temperature and made the first pancake -- the one you automatically throw out: the temperature testing pancake -- not bad. Here goes. And now: Will. Applying the syrup, cutting the first bite.
Oh, how I loved him! Will. My bright and tender lover. My climbing partner. Co-adventurer in this life. Will, all fresh and showered and cheerful and gorgeous, this morning. His ruddy cheeks were gorgeous. I had made a pot of coffee, and we had real cream, and it was excellent, and we had each had a cup and were feeling the first lift.
"Any good?" Hopeful: please let me do something for him, nice. Please, some approval...
The sex last night had been outstanding. And again this morning. We were both aglow. Open, sexual, fulfilled.
Shrug: "They're just... pancakes." A flash of dismay. No comforting word. But at least they didn't suck. At least I had done that much for him.
Why did it seem that things always went this way, lately? Of course I know, now. But I had no clue, then. I had found a kindred spirit, I loved him with more than all my heart. Had given myself to him, without reservation. Why, then, the little "dings?" The constant, subtle -- and less than subtle -- stream of tiny projectiles, like a pea shooter: ding! There goes a tiny bit of the shine off your self esteem. Ping! Thwack! I love you, Will? Why is this happening? That hurt! Why should I... but of course. You are my beloved. The One. More important to me than myself. I forgive you, beloved. I hurt, but I forgive you. Just PLEASE, oh please love me back and be kind to me. For mine is a needy heart. For I am yours, absolutely. Please care for me. Please reach out to touch me, kindly.
"So: what are you going to do, today?" Happy to be near him. Happy to be seeing him. Glad he's well fed, full of pancakes; at least they didn't suck. Full of good sex. A happy boy, physically. It was Saturday. The sun was bright, through the windows. He just glowed: I was drunk with his beauty.
"I thought I'd install this." He held up an electronic ignition system his dad had sent him. Built by some tiny exotic race-engineering firm.
I had stood by and kept my lover company, as he had done valve and carb adjustments on his BMW, done plugs and minor maintenance. I enjoyed watching him, fetching tools and stuff. Enjoying his competence and dexterity. I learned a lot from watching him. I learned, for once in my life, not to be the boss, not to run the show. To let it be Will's show. To exult in the little things of Will. His little dreams, as well as his bigger ones. His little frustrations and triumphs. To remain, quiescent, and soak up the miracle of my lover: a bright spot of color and movement. His every movement bringing a little thrum of joy to my heart.
He got the main circuit box bolted under the hood, ran the output wires. Now it was time to hook up the whole shebang to the ignition power. There was a circuit diagram printed on the anodized aluminum box. I knew enough to recognize all the transistors in that circuit. Will was uncertain of the correct polarity. I told him that I was pretty sure that hooking it up backward would fry it, cuz of the transistors. I offered to go up to the apartment and get the booklet. In fact, I ran up and tore the place apart, trying to find it. No luck. I yelled that news down to Will. We could call the company. Naah: he was pretty sure he knew what to do. He hooked it up and it didn't work. At all. Eventually, he went upstairs, himself, and found the booklet among his things: yup, it was backwards and, yup, there was a big warning about hooking it up right, or else. He was pretty mad.
I was sorry. Sorry it got fried. Sorry I had not been more forceful
about it. Sorry he hadn't listened to me. Sorry I was somehow the junior
partner, these days. Sorry I hadn't been able to find the booklet. Sorry
my lover was unhappy. Sorry I couldn't help, now. Sorry his day was ruined.
He cleaned up and went to visit someone. I'm not sure what I went and did.
The day I turned 13, we moved back to the US. We landed in Baltimore and went to say with old friends. It was mid June. They served watermelon on their picnic table, in the bright summer sunshine. We were all freezing. June in Baltimore was a hell of a lot colder than December in San Juan. The watermelon was cold to the touch. Eating it was like fingernails on the blackboard.
They had a son, two years younger than me. Pete had always been a different child. His mom always said Peter "marched to the beat of a different drummer." He would get up and wander out of school, mid-day. They'd have APB's out on him: "All units, be on the lookout for a seven year old... "
That summer, Pete had a beautiful 11 year old body, which I wanted more than anything. The night we got there, I saw him in his undies, and my dick had been oozing ever since. Cute, cute boy. Beautiful swelling in the front, where all the good things were.
"You got any hair, yet?" I asked him.
"Yup," he lied: "A whole handful."
We made a bet for some reason: how many feet in a mile. He thought there were 3000 feet. My mom was the first grown-up to pass by. "Two thousand feet?" she giggled: so much for college. His mom dropped by, next: "Five thousand two hundred and eighty," she responded, instantly. After all, she had just passed the test and gotten her GED: she was a high school graduate, now, at 33. He lost the bet and 5 bucks.
"Do you want me to give you a blow job?" he asked. Only later, did I connect this with the bet. I had some vague idea what he meant.
"When?" I was afraid: I had a boner and he would think I was a pervert, if he saw it.
"Right now." He had told me some of the neighborhood goings on. He had blown one or two of the bigger boys, and been blown by one of the girls, in return.
"What's it like?" The more he explained, the more I just knew I couldn't keep from getting a boner. He'd know for sure I was queer: he'd have my boner right there in his face to prove it.
One of the parents showed up, announcing that we had to get ready to go. We would be eating at Housner's. Five star. It always had a line around the block. Many's the time I had stood in that line, a river of pearls and mink coats, to gain entrance. The interior, an art gallery. Marble busts. Ancient oils -- the largest oil painting in the world, part of that collection. We always ate something new, when we went there. Last time, I had tried duck. Pete's big sister kept bunnies: tonight, I would try rabbit!
Housner's had always been a proving ground for kid manners. The game was to prove that kids could, too, fit into the elegant surroundings. Could, too, have the necessary manners and decorum. Tonight, Pete and I were uncharacteristically giggly. We knew where things were headed, once we got home.
The evening was finally over. We got home. Pete had school tomorrow, and we were told to go to bed, checked up on and told firmly to go to sleep. I was firm, all right. There was Pete, all smooth 11 year old of him. In white briefs, rounded so beautifully over his boy cheeks. Pressed out so perfectly over his boy parts. At that age, anything "boy" was so electrically sexy to me. Coming of age these days, I suppose, I would have already figured out my orientation and moved on to figuring out how to live my life. I knew, then. But I knew not to know. I knew to hope that, someday, I would connect with girls. Someday, like a blessing, a benediction, lust for the opposite sex would settle upon me, cool and soothing. Taking away the fear, the furtive aspect of my eroticism. Taking away this need to hide myself away.
Silver moonlight poured in the basement window. Pete lay there pink and young-boy smooth. His briefs beckoned me, incited me, filled me with crazed longing. The bulge in front. Not even a bulge: the cotton had taken on his shape, stretching and moistening from his body and molding to the shape of his balls, of his tender penis. But they didn't grip him. They lay there gentle on him. Soft, minutely wrinkled, exotically shaped. Just like the very treasure they were concealing. A treasure that I had longed to hold, to touch, to examine, to somehow experience deeply, ever since my awakening, over two years ago.
This was our last night: tomorrow, we would leave by car for Ohio. I wanted him. I tried to lower his briefs, without waking him. Perhaps I thought I'd fuck him without waking him up. He was a sound sleeper -- not THAT sound, mind you -- and I became increasingly frustrated. My 13 year old system was on "high." The balls were full, the various reservoirs overflowing. Finally, I just woke him up. He was mellow and willing to have sex. Let's try fucking. He pulled down his undies, revealing a flawless boy-butt that made me feel so insane, my whole body was like a blown-up balloon. He was there. Ready. Available. His ass. For me. Right then. For me: I was finally going to put my dick in another boy.
I pulled off my own underwear -- boxers -- my hard dick had been sticking straight out of them for an hour, anyway. I straddled his legs. Anticipation: I felt my nuts tighten, as a wave of something like fear swept over me. This was the biggest thing I had ever done. I was going to take matters into my own hands, and head into territory which I hadn't even imagined discussing with my parents. This was clearly verboten territory. This was something I had to have, something vital to the emotional core of my being. This was the moment of decision, the moment of choice: good boy or... ?
This was the moment I first really took my sexuality unto myself. My decision. My need. My life. Right then was when it became mine to do with as I pleased. Mine. My scrotum crunched hard, burning. The tingles ran over my body, as I lowered my urgent penis to the perfect globes of his 11 year old ass...
There was no way that was going to work. He couldn't possibly have had much experience with this, either, to think that it even might. I sat next to him. My dick stuck out from my round bush of pubic hair. All big. Big ugly boner. I looked at it. Looked at the smooth and succulent skin of this boy. And I felt like an animal. A poodle with a big ugly embarrassing dick, running around where everybody could see him. See his animal dick.
He came up on all 4's: his beautiful young nuts hung back between his thighs. Bigger at the bottom than at the top: maturing. Skin -- that special ball-skin: unique and boy-sexual; unique and iconic of boy sex; unique and possessed of the power to inflame and transport me -- texture, color, like a honey dipped donut. Delectable, tender. An aspect of him of which he was totally unaware. A piece of himself that he had never seen. Visible from the back. So casually dismissed. So powerfully sexual. So spectacularly "boy." I was raised to a near-helpless state of wanting him.
We tried again: when my soft, tender, moist cockhead touched his soft, flawless, moist, private boy skin, they stuck to each other like glue. Nothing was sliding anywhere, anytime soon. I tried to get him to go upstairs and get some Vaseline, but he said he'd get yelled at and he would never manage to smuggle the jar downstairs.
Necessity: a set of boy-equipment so full, so full, so very full. Invention: I found some First Aid Cream. Lubed, entered him. Sliding in him. Something new. A totally new feeling, deep, deep inside my penis. Oddly, not much, right on the surface. A few strokes:
"I wish you had a longer dick." I have never heard that again. "I wish you had a longer dick," he said again, as I reached pretty good penetration. I should have grasped him, pulled him to me, probed him deeply, deeply, deeply. Instead, I made a few tentative motions, a few strokes, and I accidentally slipped out. His turn. He stood to get behind me. His hairless jutting dick, in the moonlight. So beautiful, so eager. The sweet, sweet nuts, hanging beneath in their honey dipped bag. So boy. So, so very boy. He got behind me. Placed the tip of his dick on my hole. Perfect alignment. Ohh! It felt GOOD! Oh, yes, yes. Push it in... My breath came short and rapid.
But: "Naah: I don't want to get my dick dirty." My turn, again? "Naah: You don't know how... it... it doesn't exactly hurt. But it kinda does. I need to go to sleep." And he put his underwear on and slid into bed. I was left in a condition close to blue balls. I was too shy to try whacking off right there in the room with him. After all, he might think I was a pervert, or something.
I went to their laundry room, and took matters in hand. Funny thing
was, there was no feeling on the outside of my dick. It took thirty minutes
for me to force my body over the hump. To elicit a climax of sorts from
my young teen boy-flesh. Thirty minutes of straining and whacking. Stopping
in pain and exhaustion and frustration. Struggling and straining, panting,
clenching. Before a thin spray of pearlescent droplets fell unsatisfyingly
to the floor. Returning to the bedroom, I looked at the tube. Active Ingredient:
Benzocaine. Guaranteed to put the outer quarter inch of your tender young
teen dick skin to sleep in minutes.
It was several months more before I had my first real lover -- as real as they get at 13. To cut to the chase, Doug and I tried pretty much everything -- except kissing -- that the equipment would do. We spent hours and hours, running our fingers over each other. Tracing the contours of our cock and balls, the skin near our holes. Opening it all, all for each other. Giving each other hours of tactile boy-pleasure, exploring, being touched and caressed and stimulated in the little intimate sexual places. It must be something about young-teen sexuality, that we seemed to do that for hours, without the need for a climax overwhelming all else.
I had been masturbating many times per day for almost three years -- and that certainly was orgasm-centric -- but, somehow the activities with Doug were not reckoned backwards from the moment that the cream bursts forth. Somehow, I find it hard to fathom, now, remembering primarily the urgency of the full nuts drawn up and the need for release. But of course, back then, we were in search of the sensation, not the release. The pleasure, the joy of being so full, so close, so in need, so very, very tender. The tender skin gave sensations new and spectacular, as we lay there, one leg up, and let the other boy run his hands there, tickling the hole, the urgent hole, the ridge, the scrotum, then back to the penis. Up to the head, around and over. The thrill, as his hand caressed there. Hours of that. The thrill of being so full...
Inevitably, it came to the day that we first sucked. Then the day that we decided to try "cornholing." We tossed a coin. In fact we tossed it three times. Didn't matter: I was gonna lose no matter what. We lubed me up. One exuberant thrust later, I was rolling on the bed, clutching my belly. The physical pain was deep and sickening: could this be what Pete had experienced? Say it isn't so! Could anyone be so... emotionally broken... that they would endure THIS and call it sex? I was filled with dread, heartsick, almost nauseated. A sense of horror filled me: surely, Pete wasn't... not like that? Queer is one thing, but pain like that? Doug got his, next. Yup! I gave him the quick jab, and paid his ass back. Now he knew better. But I was still stuck going first. First, it was a coin toss. Now he was too chicken. I had done it, before. I knew this could work.
Especially as a young teen, you hate to be first. The other guy could refuse and then lord it over you forever after. You just instinctively knew that. But I was cursed by the coins. We tried again. Doug knew firsthand, this time, what we were trying to avoid. I still remember the waxy smell of him. I got him to be very slow. "Gentle" probably is not the right word. Slow. I relaxed, profoundly, knowing that this act was possible. Knowing this could be done. And eventually, he was in and the pain was manageable.
He was 14, with no pubes, and couldn't ejaculate, yet. He liked to play "dicks," but he didn't have that urgency yet. He had masturbated me and seen the result: "Here it comes! Here it Co-O-OMES!" I had cried to him, years before I had ever heard of "Cumming."
So he slid in and out a few times, and finally quit. I had a go, and it felt good. But I didn't cum in him, either. That young teen thing, again.
Doug and I took pretty good care of each other for about 3 years. We
were good, solid friends. We were shooting buddies, gunsmithing buddies.
I missed the things that we did together, after we moved, but I never pined
for Doug's heart. Doug was a buddy I explored sex with. I honor him for
that. But I didn't grieve and suffer in my heart, for the loss of him,
when we left.
Will and I had been together, sexually, for at least half a year. We were ready to try it. We had sucked and licked and kissed and held each other. We had cried together. We had put our fingers up each other's ass, had come like that. Had come, giving every bit of ourselves to the other: no part held back. Had come, joyous to be like that: it was time to try this ultimate surrender.
I won the coin toss. Our side was gonna kick off. Yay! For once!
I took every precaution I knew how to take: my experience base was limited to Doug -- and to Pete.
Pete had died the previous year. Died at 15? 16? He died when I was 17 or 18. Peter marched to a different drummer. I had only seen him once, again. I came home with the regional trophy: my debate partner and I had won the National Forensic League's Tri-County debate tournament. Damn trophy was a yard high. I came home in a suit and a tie, triumphant, with my trophy. He and his mom were there for a visit. Just that one evening. He and I talked for hours. Took a long walk together.
Our worlds were so far apart. He told me about the gang fights. He told me about having gotten his first pussy a few weeks earlier. He told me about glue-sniffing and parole. He was into Bob Dylan, and dog collars and sniffing glue. He had become an attractive young man, a little taller than me: cute and solid and hunky. He warned me never to sniff. And we never talked about what we had done together as youngsters. We both pretended we had moved on beyond that, now. We finished off the evening having contests balancing a broomstick on our hands. That was the intellectual level on which I could connect with him.
I could feel his heat, sense him. He had a really good time. I could tell by the deep, joyful giggles that kept me looking at his fresh young cheek. That kept me longing to be held in those strong teen arms, more masculine, now, than mine. Longing to be held by him. To bury my face in his chest and be his.
Many of my regrets, looking back, are for chances I did not take. For lovers I never reached out for. Possibilities forever past. Possibilities, mostly, of finding happiness for myself. This is probably the only such lost opportunity I regret entirely for someone else's sake. When I last saw Pete, he was just starting the plunge.
Maybe. Maybe, if I had reminded him how we had been. Maybe if we had had something sweet and powerful together. Maybe I could have inspired him to try the strait path. Chemically, at least...
Peter marched to a different drummer. He got pussy before I did. Got himself a parole officer. Got himself one last chance to avoid the penal system: join the Merchant Marine. His mommy kissed him as he boarded the bus for the Academy.
Peter marched to a different drummer. The drummer led him off that bus.
Led him -- somewhere -- to some crash pad. To the overdose that killed
him. His mommy kissed him one final time. I heard about it months later.
Could my... flaw -- the brokenness at the heart of my sexuality -- have
saved him? Good God, I hope not!
I actually held Pete in my heart, as I got Will ready. I entered him slowly with a greasy finger, then two, then three. We were both eager, anxious to proceed. I got a bit into him, just enough to start dilating the inner muscle, before the pain made him quit. Fearing I was losing him, I raved about how good it had felt -- a lie: it never got that far -- and offered myself. Damn! What is this, my fate, to go first?
Switching, now, from his bed to mine, I got on all 4's. Will lubed my butt with one finger, two, then three, until I thought I was ready. Remembering Doug, I relaxed profoundly, and began to leak prodigiously. Later, I mentioned that and Will teased me: said that meant I loved it. Will pressed against me, with his sharply-upcurving erection: this wasn't going easily. I endured the various stages of opening up, of taking him, until he was in me all the way. In me huge and hard and male. In me deep and boy and joyous and virgin. Lying on me. His weight on me, and trembling, his big virgin boy-meat in me. Moving, now, humping. Humping me, trembling. It hurt, but I let the pain go. This was Will. Will that I loved. And I was giving this to him. Letting him take this. Knowing he needed this. Knowing I was helping him become a man. He was in me and trembling and it hurt. And I loved him and I gave myself for his pleasure and he took me, sliding in, deeper, deeper, trembling, invading, filling me. Humping. I was being fucked, now. Will was fucking now. I was there, with him, for his first, trembling, fuck. And he became huge, and harder than ever. Than ever. Huge, and hot. Filling me. And it hurt. I hurt. Willingly. Hurt for Will's pleasure, for his manhood. For his release, apparently: without comment, he buried himself and pulsed. Hot and huge and deep and pulsing. It was a relief, when he pulled out. That was the best damn empty feeling I can imagine.
Later, I did get into his ass. I was being very tentative and gentle,
barely burying myself, never all the way. Will reached around and pulled
me in closer, mashing me against him, making me bury myself. Making me
fuck him good. Making himself feel me bottoming out against him, thrusting,
thrusting. Making me make him know he was being fucked.
Will was pretty quiet, in the shower. That Vaseline is pretty hard to remove, and I hadn't thought of trying something like hand cream, to dissolve and remove it.
Funny thing about Will: he was remarkably laconic at times. As if the best he could do was dive deep within himself and retrieve one tortured syllable. One "Ye-up," ripped, whole, from the body cavity. Rip! That syllable tearing loose, bloody nerves hanging from it, as it was delivered, in agony, to the light.
In the shower, he had no speech, was almost mute. I tried to be gentle and understanding. Not tender, not romantic, not mushy -- not queer -- just there and understanding and matter of fact.
Will's buddies from his prep school were coming out to ski. It was to be a week at Jackson Hole, on the cheap. We found a lodge right in Teton Village that permitted cooking in the rooms. The school friends flew in and Will retrieved them at the airport, an hour or so away.
By the time they arrived from the airport, the pecking order had established itself. Will's buddy was the Big Man. His friend was number 2. Will was the anxious host, and I was the "and oh, by the way." The morning we left, everyone seemed pissed off. I went back up to the apartment to get one final load. While I was up there, Will yelled something up to me. Something in a tone of voice that hurt. Something that distracted me. I forgot something.
We drove to Jackson, arriving at dusk. Settled in to the lodge. I got last pick of bunks: above Will. By the bathroom, where all the steam and farts would waft, when the door opened. Will was stowing things, when it was discovered what I had forgotten: the meat for the Beef Stroganoff. My recipe, but my fault. I was instantly in the doghouse. Fucking despised. How could it have been such a big deal? How could my lover have put me so far down over a thing like this, a whole $8? Well, it just happened, is all. He had help.
The next morning, I knew I was in over my head. I had been skiing since I was 16. I had done a week at Mt. Tremblant, in high school, skied the crappy little -- and crappy big -- resorts in Pennsylvania. I had skied Vail and Steamboat. Always, I would get an adrenaline rush in the car, on the way up. Thinking back, that's a big change I underwent: at some point in my climbing and flying and skiing, I gained control of my adrenals. Back then, the tremors would shake me like a dog.
I knew I was in over my head, when I heard the artillery: THOOM!.....(pause).....BOOM!rrrrrRRRRrrrrr.....THOOM!..... they were shooting avalanches off Rendezvous Peak with a fucking howitzer! THOOM! they fired the round. BOOM! the charge detonated.... rrrrRRRRrrrr, the avalanche broke loose and spent itself.
I was shaking so hard I exhausted myself, by the time we left the lodge. The 10 minute walk to the tram revived me by making me honestly tired. All aboard! The bus sized tram was in radio contact with its counterpart, at the summit. The cable began to pull, and we glided 50 feet above the gladed forest, a mellow mix of Spruce and Aspen. We passed a tower. The cable changed angle, and the ground began to pull away rapidly. The guy next to me had a cocky attitude, a busy mouth and a set of skis engraved with the words "Killington Pro Ski Patrol." He fell silent, as we entered the alpine realm, as the towering cliffs passed beneath our feet, criss-crossed with steep, deadly couloirs, like some terrifying extreme skiing fantasy. As the radiotelephone came to life: "Tram 1: coming up on Tower 2." "Roger, Tram 1." They passed us, descending, and our operator waved.
"Uhh, is there any way I can get off at Tower 3?" The cocky patrolman asked the operator, suddenly humble.
"No. Sorry. This car is going to the summit -- unless it's an emergency. The two trams are on the same cable. We do the exact opposite of what the other Tram does, and they have a straight run to base."
"Uh, no. No, okay," he said, growing pensive, again.
There had been three days of rain, a week earlier. The summit snow was okay. The wind was strong, and there was a summit plume of snow and fog. You couldn't see the view: Jackson Hole and the other Tetons. The snow was okay, down to about a third of the way down -- about where Tower 3 was. There it became absolute concrete. Here we were in magnificent Jackson Hole, and the snow was so hard, you had to clench your teeth to avoid chipping them. I brushed against a puff of snow. It slammed into my foot and knocked my ski off. I managed a controlled one-buttock landing, replaced my ski and got up, rubbing my ass.
I never skied with the other guys, not once. They were doing the legendary steep stuff: just shy of 45 degrees and endless. I think Will did ski with me, briefly. I pretty much retreated to Apres Vous Peak -- the beginning and intermediate area -- cuz they had snow making and grooming, so the surface was mostly softer.
That night, I tried to do a little calculus. I couldn't concentrate, for the leaden weight in my heart. How had I become a third-class citizen? Will's friends were barely more than polite, when they were that. Opportunities to talk with Will were few and my chances of actually getting his ear were uncertain.
I wrote Will a love letter: Once upon a time, there was a boy... I told him how much I had admired him, ever since I met him. I told him how attractive he was to me. I told him how helplessly I loved him. I told him how important to me it was for him to have some sort of positive regard for me. I reiterated how deeply I cared about him and cherished him and how much he meant to me. I just handed it to him and turned away to cry silently to myself. Empty, grieving, motionless: tears coursing down my cheeks. Any minute, the door would burst in and the hated preppies would be back, with their pretentious bigger-than-life manner. Will sat reading my letter. I heard him sniffing tears. "I'm sorry," is all he said, softly, looking up at me, before they were back. I whipsawed from misery to joy to bitterness and settled a little to the miserable side of joy. Will still loved me. It was just more of his shit.
The week ended. Finally they left. Not before a confrontation someplace in Wyoming. We were at a gas station. It was time to get back in the car. I said I wanted the front, and everyone else objected. I pointed out that I had sat behind the driver, with no legroom, absolutely all the time 'till now. And now I hurt, and it was -- by God! -- my turn. I heard a bunch of objections -- all amounting to "My comfort is more important than yours" -- but held my position. I managed to stretch my legs for a couple of hours, in a car full of people who hated me openly for that. Well, piss on them.
I must have let my tattered sense of self show through in my letters to my family. A package arrived: a black lacquer pedestal, with a carven hand -- flipping the bird. My parents called and talked to me. My mother wanted to know if there was something going on: nobody should be allowed under your skin, the way I had let Will. My dad told me that there was a part of himself that he held away from everyone, even my mom. She agreed, saying that you have to keep and protect that core part.
Well, my heart just isn't built that smart. When I give it, I give it away. It is no longer mine. I am no longer mine. And I loved Will. I couldn't hold any part of myself back. But I could resent him. I could become deeply angry, bitter. I could put that energy into my "enol retentive" excellence in Organic, in Physics. My homework was publication grade: 4 color, with footnotes and derivations. We camped in the lab. Started our reactions and sat and studied, asking someone else to watch them when we had to go to class.
Papers arrived from Outward bound: Stop smoking and start running every day. The running sucked. We tried it for about six weeks and it was hard to be faithful about running. Will had an idea: there was this trail we could try. Good idea, Will! The trail led up 2800 feet to a summit, from which you could see enormous distances -- about 100 miles, in one direction. We climbed it every weeknight. Once we were in shape, it was 60 minutes up, 15 minutes' rest at the top, 45 minutes down: 5600 vertical feet. Every night.
Our bodies hardened. I took a climbing class. The teacher was a guy named Larry. He saw I was ready, one Saturday. It was the third pitch of Calypso. He handed me the rack and I led the rest of the climb. Up the crack and through the old, stinky eagle's nest. Out, swinging, up over the overhang. Easy 5.5 to the summit. Such wonderful freedom. Free on the rock. Head thrown back, picking my route. Body held away from the wall. Wind in my hair. Clean line to the summit. Clean movements. Feeling clean about myself. Strong and fearless. Not the junior... anything, here. In charge: conducting me and my second up, up the wall, up onto rock I had never seen before. Finding my route. Executing cleanly, smoothly. Just look at myself. You can trust this guy. Trust his ability and judgment, his sense. Nobody to apologize to. Not junior anything.
My second congratulated me, somewhat in awe of this fellow student who had suddenly broken away, joined those at the "sharp end of the rope:" the leaders. Will thought it was cool. I even took him up Calypso, a few weeks later. He fell a couple of times, but he did okay. After all, he was young and strong and a natural athlete. Just a little less nonchalant about his exposure to the big drop beneath his feet. The falling-fear will make you weak and timid. A leader can't afford to go there. I caught him when he fell, and he made it up the rock, behind me. At the summit, it was good to see him.
Right about that time, a new magazine appeared: High Times. They were talking about a THC concentrate, called Numero Uno. Will and I decided to make some. We had been smuggling ethyl ether out of the main undergraduate lab for a couple of months, for a little project we hoped to try -- making the "businessman's acid," Dimethyl Tryptamine. We were short two ingredients, but assumed our time would come.
When I first had a lab with Will, I was sort of intimidated by his deliberate and systematic manner, at the bench. Being unsure of my short-term memory, I got myself a china marker, and began writing the contents on all my glassware. With the "Oh, Christ! I forgot which was which," covered, I was free to emulate the best bench chemists I saw in action. Copying Will was just the first step: I passed through the deliberate, systematic band and came out on top, confident, efficient and relaxed.
Meanwhile, Will and I continued with the gentle, regular 69's. We even fucked each other occasionally, but just for the change. Just for the rougher contact, as a change from the cloying sweetness of the mutual sucking. I'm not sure I could have had a 69 with Will, without making love. It could never be just sex: it was too intimate, to commingling. A boy's penis just tells 'way too much about what he's feeling. If you aren't "deaf," if you care at all -- if you love him -- you can't be just a suck buddy. I can't. Sucking was something that always drew me in, captivated me, stripped bare my emotions, wired me directly into his dick and his heart. Fucking? Well, it hurt. It was something you gave, or took. The discomfort walled us off in separate bubbles. It was just sex. Just sex with an awfully, awfully good friend, but just sex.
The rest of the time, I began my gradual rebound, while Will got less strident and more blunt about dinging me. Now it just pissed me off, more than it hurt me: it was a bad habit of his.
Somehow, I was the cook, this time: I boiled a bunch of water, flipped open the top of the stove and put out the pilot light. Looking at the arrangement of pipes and plenums, it was clear there had to be... ahh, yes, a second pilot. Putting that out, I reassembled the stove, extracted the ounce of pot with solvent, and began. Now, I had brought home some special solvent. Not ethyl ether. No, that was too volatile and flammable. No, I had a few liters of Ligroin -- SkellySolv F -- a clear, almost odorless petroleum fraction that boiled at skin temperature. And with this, I extracted the resin from the weed. I placed the ethereal solution in a double boiler and let it evaporate, from the stored heat in the water. I eventually reduced the entire ounce of weed to a teaspoon of pale green wax.
We tried it and saw stars. Nothing would do, but we had to make some for Will's younger brother, George, who was still at his old prep school. Will scored some more Mexican and I made a mental note to bring more Ligroin. This particular day, something Will had said or done had galled me to the quick, and I was sort of resolutely pissed: I wasn't living with this asshole next term, though we needn't discuss it at the moment.
Friday afternoon, after trudging home through the snow, I opened the apartment door and saw instantly what had happened. I had 2 or 3 liters of Ligroin in my pack, in the wrong kind of container, and I had had to be careful not to slosh, during the entire 2 1/2 mile walk home. I opened the door, saw Will. That black little angry corner of my heart lit up like a Christmas tree. I turned and removed my pack, slipping the container of Ligroin out and setting it on the floor, as my pack landed on the desk.
"Guess what?" the mass of bandages said.
"You got impatient and used ethyl ether," I replied, turning to face The Invisible Man, "And you forgot about the second pilot."
I let him tell me about it. It had erupted, spewing flaming ether across his Brooks Brothers shirt. The shirt began to melt, as Will fanned the flames away from his face, put out the stove fire, and ran for the shower. He had told the doctor it was a gasoline flash burn, from cleaning car parts. The doctor said he was lucky: those are usually worse. Will was swathed in bandages from the top of his head to his chest, and one hand. There were even little greasy telfa pads taped between his lips. He'd had his goggles on. There were melted splash marks on the lens, over both eyes.
I felt one secret little surge of mirth and vindication and then began to tend my baby. Poor kid. You fuck up, sometimes. But you count on your friends. And especially your lover. If you don't have that basic nurturing in your relationship, you should respect each other enough to go your separate ways. This was my sweetheart. The One. And he was hurt, if only by his own impatience. If indirectly because he didn't trust me and communicate with me enough. I looked at him and cared. I didn't get all mushy. I was gentle and direct. Tender, but not doting. And it was with genuine joy that I saw him better the next day and barely looking sunburned, by Monday. Sunday I gave him an orgasm. His lips were burned, but I sucked him to a hard climax, feeling him shoot. Feeling him shed the fear and the pain. Feeling him know he was loved, in spite of everything.