The Activist , Pt 11
Nate was going to be working late Friday night. With only two weekends remaining before Christmas, the manager at J.C. Penney had Nate working long hours. I needed to study anyway. Besides taking my mind off Dad’s visit the night before, I had finals to prepare for, and plans for Saturday and Sunday – moving from the dorm, and in with Nate.
After eating supper at the dorm, I gathered my books and drove over to Lambda house. It was quiet. Most guys were out partying. Andrew and David were there, but soon went up to their room. I was alone, and expecting only Nate later. So I changed to gym shorts and went into the living room to study.
Pauly and Brian dropped by on their way to a movie and I talked with them for a while. Brian hadn't seen me mostly naked before and his eyes kept dropping down my body. That stirred me a little, but I let it stir me for Nathan.
Pauly looked happy, and I was happy for him. Brian was cool.
The two of them left, and I studied on the couch, with the TV on, until Nate came home. It was almost ten, and I was more than ready for him.
I got up and greeted him with a hug. Nate just sort of sagged in my arms.
“Tired?” I asked, rocking him back and forth.
“Yeah,” he answered. He felt over my bare shoulders and back. “Umm,” he murmured, and then gave my shoulder a kiss.
“You hungry?” I asked.
“No,” he said, draping himself back on me. “One of the guys at work brought a lot of tamales his mom made. That's a big tradition down here; making tamales for Christmas. His mom was warming up for the big event.” He groaned slightly. “I think I ate too many. They're not sitting well.”
“Shall I put you to bed?”
Nathan nuzzled the side of my neck and slipped his hand into the back of my gym shorts. “Only if you’re coming to bed with me,” he murmured, giving my butt a squeeze.
He pulled from me and hung his coat on the coat tree. “Let me sit down for a while first. Anybody here?” he asked, loosening his tie.
“Nope,” I told him. I dropped to my knees in front of him and bent to untie his shoes. I took them off, leaving his socks on. Then I unfastened his pants.
Nate grabbed my hands, grinning. “Are you sure no one’s here?”
I shrugged. “Andrew and David went upstairs a long time ago.” I dropped his pants to the floor, and he stepped from them. Remaining on my knees, I folded his pants and set them aside.
I ran my hands up the sides of his bare legs. “You're always so sexy,” I told him, “every time you get dressed for work and have on only your shirt and tie, and nothing else but briefs and socks.”
I nuzzled between his shirttails, into the front of his briefs and inside his left leg. He smelled good. His package was full and warm. I rubbed my face against it. Nate ran his fingers into my hair.
“You’re getting me hard,” he said, smiling.
I pulled off his briefs so I could suck him while he was still a little rubbery. I sucked his cock into my mouth, and Nate murmured comfortably, combing his fingers through my hair. Getting him hard, got me hard.
Rising to my feet, I backed Nate to the easy chair we had shared two nights before and I sat him down in it, in only his dress shirt, loose tie, and socks. I pulled off my gym shorts and straddled his lap, naked, facing him, shoving my knees back on either side of his hips and under the cushioned back of the chair. Our erections pointed upward together and he closed his hand around them.
I took his face in my hands and kissed him.
“I'm going to ride you,” I said, brushing my lips on his.
“In this chair?” he asked, chuckling lightly.
“Yep,” I said, pulling off his tie and tossing it over onto the couch. I started unbuttoning his shirt. “I am so in the mood.”
Nate smiled, sleepy looking, despite his erection. He felt over my bare arms and sides and belly while I unbuttoned his shirt. I ran my hands inside his open shirt and felt over his belly and chest and shoulders and down his sides.
“I’m hungry,” I said before spitting into my hand, “for a hot tamale.”
Nate smiled and held my hips as I spread saliva onto his crown. I spit again, and rose on my knees to rub the spit into my butt crack. Nate held my hips as I pressed my crotch to his solar plexus and aimed his erection up under me.
I sat back, guiding his crown between my butt cheeks. I wiggled it there, enjoying the blunt feel of his wet glans against my sphincter. I sat slowly, guiding him into me. As much as I was used to Nate, with only saliva, a little precum, and him being as thick as he was, I had to start slowly.
Once my butt was in Nate’s lap, I pulled my knees up and spread them way out to the sides against the back cushion. I wrapped my arms around his chest, ground my bottom down into his lap, and then, hugging him, I rubbed my cock and balls on his belly. Even more than many guys that age, I was pretty flexible, especially for a runner. I stretched a lot.
“Oh, damn this just feels nasty,” I muttered, dropping my forehead onto Nate's.
Nate slipped his fingers under my buttocks, pulling on my bottom as I rocked. “It feels great,” he said. “We need to steal this chair for our room.”
I woke in the night when Nate became restless. I had been spooning him, but I rolled away, sleepily and dozed off. When Nate jumped up from the bed, I woke again. He ran out the bedroom door, leaving it wide open.
Pulling on shorts, I headed down the hall, looking for him. I found Nate in the bathroom; naked and bent over the toilet, heaving.
All my life, the sight or smell of someone puking was enough to make me puke, too. I even spent the night at a friend's once, simply because Stefan was throwing up and I smelled it in the house.
So I stood there, watching Nate heave, and it took all my will power to tighten my gut and fight my natural reactions. I thought about what my mom used to do for me when I threw up, and I found a washrag. I soaked it in warm water as Nate threw up the last contents of his stomach. I knelt beside him to wipe his face.
I made the mistake of glancing into the toilet. Of all the things to throw up, Mexican food has to be one of the worst. My stomach tried to heave, and I quickly looked away.
Forcing the image from my mind, I kept my attention on Nate. Cradling the back of Nate's head with one hand, I cleaned his face as carefully as I could with the wash cloth. Some of the stuff had even run down from his nose. I tried not to think about it. I tried not to breathe.
“At least you made it to the toilet,” I told him. “I never could manage that.” And then I thought of one particularly messy incident in my bed back home, and my stomach churned.
Standing up quickly, I rinsed the washcloth in the sink.
Nate flushed the toilet and stood up shakily beside me. I stepped aside for him to wash his hands and face at the sink.
Setting the washrag aside, I laid my hand on his back and patted him. I had a new appreciation of how my mom used to take care of us kids. I also felt sort of good about myself, hanging in there with Nate. But the smell was still bad. I backed into the hallway.
Nate followed a moment later, looking pretty pale. “I feel better,” he said.
“You still don't look very good,” I told him. I followed him as he walked stiffly back to the bedroom. Then I did something else my mom used to do for us. I found a grocery bag in the kitchen and emptied the contents of the wastebasket in Nate's room into the bag. Then I took the wastebasket over beside the bed. Nate was in a fetal position at the edge of the mattress.
“I'm putting this here,” I told him, setting the wastebasket on the floor beside the bed. “If you feel like you’re going to throw up again, and don’t think you can make it to the bathroom, use this.”
Nate nodded, his eyes tightly closed. I went around to the other side of the bed, and lay back down behind him.
I woke to the sounds of Nate throwing up in the wastebasket. I didn’t look right away. Looking up at the ceiling, I gritted my teeth and willed my stomach to settle down. Partly to escape the room while Nate was retching, I went to get the washrag.
When I returned, after soaking the washrag in warm water, Nate was still leaning over the side of the bed, holding the bucket. He seemed to be finished for the moment, though.
I cleaned his face, and took the bucket from him, trying not to look in it. It was then that I remembered my mom always had to empty and clean those wastebaskets we threw up in. I suppressed a groan.
In the bathroom, I poured the contents into the toilet while holding my breath. It wasn’t bad. There wasn’t as much in the bucket as Nate threw up in his first round over the toilet. I rinsed the bucket in the bathtub, deciding it might be a while before I wanted to shower in there again.
Nate appeared to be sleeping, in the fetal position again, when I returned the bucket to the floor beside the bed. I felt really sorry for him, and stroked the hair back off his forehead careful to not wake him, before crawling back into bed myself.
I woke when he threw up for the third time. The bucket was almost empty when I took it from him; he’d mainly had dry heaves.
“Could you call my boss in the morning?” Nate asked in a weak voice when I returned with the waste bucket from the bathroom.
“The number's on that yellow slip of paper on my bulleting board.”
I nodded, spotting it. “Yeah, I'll call in the morning.”
“Call his home phone,” Nate said. “He won't get to the store until opening.”
I crawled into bed and lay down facing away from Nate. I faced away because I didn’t want to catch whatever Nate had, and he certainly wasn’t very sexy at the moment. But then I felt guilty, and I realized that after the way we kissed earlier that evening, if I was going to catch something from him, I was well on the way.
I rolled over toward him. Nate lay still, breathing slowly, the bed sheet down at his slender waist. My eyes fell on the back of his head. It’s funny, how some little feature of a lover can stir affection. I looked at the back of his head, and at his bare back, and I felt so sorry for him, and I felt the need to cover and comfort him.
So I scooted up behind Nate. I slid my arm under his neck, between his shoulder and the pillow, propping myself on my elbow, and I spooned in behind him. I laid my other hand on his shoulder, and I kissed the back of his head. I stroked his hair.
“Feels good,” he mumbled sleepily. “Thanks for taking care of me.”
“We belong to each other,” I whispered, “I’m supposed to take care of you.” I kissed his cheek. “I love you.”
Eyes closed, Nate smiled comfortably. And then, I watched the smile fade as he silently fell off into sleep.
I'd set Nate's alarm for eight in the morning because the track coaches had scheduled a light workout; our last of the semester. Guys grumbled at having to get up so early every Saturday morning, but the coaches were unsympathetic. “It’s a good way to make sure you get in bed early Friday night,” they told us.
That morning, it struck me as simply torture. I thought about sleeping in and claiming I was sick, and then I remembered my promise to call Nate’s boss, so I got out of bed.
“My husband called in sick, too,” Nate’s boss’s wife told me. “One of the other guys in the department called in as well. I think they all ate something bad; some tamales.”
“Yep. I think you’re right.”
“I’ll give you the store manager’s number. You need to call her, okay?”
“The manager’s a woman?” I asked, surprised. There weren’t many of them back then.
“Yes. Her name is Maggie.”
“Shit!” Maggie swore. “One of our busiest weekends and I’ve got people out, all over the store.” She paused a moment. “Who are you?”
“I’m Nathan’s friend.”
The phone was silent a moment. Then. “How would you like to earn some Christmas shopping money? Can you work for Nathan?”
I had never worked in a store. I’d barely worked at any paying jobs. I imagined it would be easy.
“I have a track workout first thing this morning,” I told her. “What time would you need me?”
“Hell, just make your last sprint to the store, here,” she said. “I don’t give a damn if you come in track shorts and singlet. Just get to the store as quickly as you can. We open at ten, but the mall is open at nine. Somebody will let you in.”
I felt surprisingly good that morning, considering how little sleep I had. The workout was at the indoor track. By the time I was done stretching, I was primed to run. I wanted to run. After all the shit of the previous two days, I needed to run, and I felt good.
After warmups, the coach who had been spending one-on-one time with me, took me aside that morning to work on my starts, and give me some instructions for the holidays. He had something else he wanted to discuss, though.
“Have you been telling people that you’re a homosexual?” He asked when we were away from the others.
I felt my face grow hot. “I told one person,” I said. “He told others.”
Coach shook his head. “Shit like that is personal, Loren. Don’t go telling people. And don’t get caught up in all that gay activism crap,” he said. “You’re a runner. You keep your mind on your classes and on this track.” He glanced over at the other coaches. “And for Pete’s sake, don’t act prissy or do anything to set off the other coaches. Head Coach hates queers.”
My face grew hot. “I don’t act prissy,” I said.
Coach looked me in the eye. “You don’t act as masculine as you did when you got here. I don’t know who you’ve been hanging around with, but watch yourself. If these guys are going to be comfortable around you at all, you need to act more masculine, not less. You sure as hell don’t want coach to kick you off the team.”
It felt like my heart stopped. “Can he do that?”
“Of course he can do that. Who do you think put you on the team to begin with?”
I glanced over at the head coach, and a chill ran up my spine.
“Loren,” my coach said, “I like you. You’re a good runner. The team can use you. Just keep a low profile, okay?”
I swallowed, and nodded.
I hurried by the dorm to grab a sports coat and tie. I’d gotten in at least a little running before the workout ended, and the running had lifted my spirits some small amount, at least for a while. And now my mind switched gears to Penney’s.
When I got there, I asked the first person I saw for Maggie. I was sent to the lay-away counter. Maggie was a brunette in her mid-thirties, and built like a girl’s softball coach.
“You’re Nathan’s friend?” she asked, looking surprised.
She looked me up and down, at my clothing. “Do you know anything about clothes?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Some, I guess.”
She sighed. “We’ll fill out the paperwork later. Follow me.”
Maggie took me to the men’s department. Only one person was there, an older guy, and he was helping a customer.
“Do you know anything about cash registers?” she asked.
I shook my head.
Maggie covered her eyes with her hand and shook her head. “Of course not,” she murmured.
“You any good at math?”
Maggie dropped her hand from her eyes and motioned for me to follow.
“It will be easier to teach you how to ring items on a register than to teach you the difference between silk and polyester,” she said as we got to the register. “The registers we have will compute sales tax for you. Everything rings up as marked. Bob… that’s Bob over there… he can tell you if anything should be rung up differently. The main thing is to ring everything up. And count your money. Count what the customer gives you, twice. Count what you give back to the customer in change, twice. Count it to yourself as you get it from the drawer, and count it out loud to the customer. Here, I’ll show you.”
Maggie gave me a crash course in cash register operation.
“You let Bob help the customers, unless he gets really busy and you don’t have any customers waiting to ring up. Alright?”
I nodded, just as a lady brought some socks and underwear to the register.
“Go ahead,” Maggie said. “I’ll watch.”
Behind that customer was another, and by the time I finished with that one, there was another. I looked up, and Maggie was gone.
Bob introduced himself when there was a break between customers, but that was short, and the last break we would have for a long time. Maggie came by about mid-afternoon with ham sandwiches and sodas.
“No time for lunch breaks,” she said.
I’d left a note for Nate, but I wanted to call him to see how he was doing. We got so busy, I forgot. After seven, there was a slight lull in customer traffic. Maggie came by and waited until I had no customer.
“Nathan called,” she said. “I told him you’d be here till closing.”
“Did he say how he’s feeling?”
“I asked. He says he feels a lot better.” She studied me a moment. “Are you and Nathan... you know… are you two like... ?” she raised her eyebrows.
“Yeah,” I said.
She shook her head. “You sure don’t look like one of them. You look like you wouldn’t have any trouble with girls.”
I frowned. “I never had trouble with girls,” I told her.
Maggie looked surprised. “Have you ever had a girlfriend?”
“Have you ever… slept with a girl?”
“Yes,” I told her, and then suppressed a smile as I added, “It’s not for everybody.”
Her eyebrows went up.
Three different customers entered the department, all at once, and Maggie left. I didn’t see her again until closing. Maggie came by as I was filling out an application form.
“You did well, Loren,” Maggie told me. “We could use some extra help for the holidays. Would you be available?”
I thought about it, and nodded. “I have finals next week, but I’ll be done by Friday.”
I called Nate before leaving the store. “I’m starved,” I told him. “I can pick up hamburgers or something.”
“I better not,” Nate said. “Stomach’s still a weak. Pauly came by to study with you. He went to the store and bought me Sprite and Jell-O. He made the Jell-O for me, and he washed our sheets and the washrags and towels we used. He treated me like a hospital patient all day.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I should have done that.”
“You covered for me.”
“Boy, did I!” I said. “I’m exhausted. But guess what.”
“I’m hired for the holidays.”
“Yep. I won’t work until Friday night because of school, but then Maggie wants me that Friday and Saturday, and the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas, and even the three days after Christmas.”
“What’s your dad going to say?”
“What can he say? I have a job.”
“Just come home, Loren,” my dad said.
“But they need me, and I’ll be earning some of my own spending money,” I said, switching the phone receiver to my left ear so Nate could listen in as well.
“Your dad gives you spending money,” Mom said. “I want you home for Christmas.”
“But Mom, you and Dad always encouraged me when I found a job to earn some of my own money. This way, I can buy you guys Christmas presents from my own money; not Dad’s. Besides, the manager likes me. I might be able to keep working there next semester. And anyway, I’ll only be home a couple of days after Christmas.”
“I know what you’re doing, Loren,” my dad said evenly.
“Dad,” I said, “you know I might need the spending money.” I meant it as a subtle reminder that he hinted he could pull the plug on my support.
“If you need more spending money,” Mom said, “your dad will send it to you. Besides, you have classes and track. You shouldn’t take on a job.”
“Well, for now, Mom, the job is just for the holidays, and they need me.”
“But it’s Christmas, Loren,” Mom pleaded. “We all miss you. You come home. And bring Nathan with you, too. I’ve even bought him a present.”
Dad obviously hadn’t told Mom anything about my letter or his visit. I wondered if he would say something now; especially since he’d already told me to not bring Nathan.
I waited a moment. Dad said nothing, but I could imagine him frowning at me. I offered a compromise, phrasing it in a way I hoped Dad would recognize as one. “I’ll be home the Sunday after Christmas,” I told them, “but Nathan won’t be able to come.”
I glanced at Nate and shrugged apologetically. We had already talked about it. I was still sorry he couldn’t come.
Mom started to protest, but Dad spoke over her. “Let us think about it, Loren,” he said. “It’s not bad that you have a job to pick up spending money. That’s a good thing. And I understand the store needing your help.”
Mom started to argue with him, but Dad said they would talk later. I wondered
if he was going to finally tell her that I was gay. I wondered if he would tell
her that if Nate came home with me, we’d be doing nasty things in my bedroom
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