My relationship with Steve quickly developed into a sort of easy, loving routine. When my roommate went home for the weekend Steve bunked in with me. When Steve's roommate left, we shared his room.
By John Yager
This is the twenty-eighth chapter of an ongoing series. I want to thank all the readers who've written to me about this story. I continue to be surprised and pleased by the response the series has prompted. All your comments are read and I try to respond promptly to each message. If there is a delay in my response it's usually because I'm traveling.
My intention in writing Absolute Convergence is to deal with issues which have impacted and influenced the lives of gay people in the period between the 1960s and the present time, or put another way, from "Pre-Stonewall" days to the era of "Don't ask, don't tell."
Many readers have asked if this story is, at least in part, autobiographical. I wouldn't be honest if I said it wasn't. I do want to make it clear to readers that I'm not Rob, Rick, Steve, Sammy or Roger Bardwell, all of which have been suggested by readers as my counterpart. I'm not any other specific character in the story and none of them, individually, is me. The story is raising many more questions than it's answering and I certainly don't claim to know the answers. It's my hope that by raising questions I may prompt more consideration of issues facing gay people in the USA and throughout the world.
Readers continue to commented on the religious strains of the story and to ask me questions about my own beliefs. As I have said in the introductions to previous chapters, I am a Christian layman, but not a trained theologian. I have asked for advice from several clergy friends, specifically an Episcopalian priest and an Episcopalian deacon, as well as a Roman Catholic priest and a Rabbi. After receiving suggestions and encouragement form all of them, it is important for me to say that the opinions expressed are my own.
Andrew continues to provide much needed proofing and editorial help, for which I am sincerely grateful. I could not post chapters as quickly as I've been doing without his invaluable assistance.
This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons and any similarity to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. It's obviously a work of gay erotic fiction. If you shouldn't be reading such material, or if such material isn't to your liking, please exit now.
This 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.
All the stories I've posted on NIFTY can be found by looking under my name in the NIFTY Prolific Authors lists. If you'd like to receive e-mail notification of subsequent postings, please let me know by sending your request to the e-mail address below.
After the start of the second semester I had a room to myself and while Steve didn't officially move in with me, he was there as many nights as we could manage without raising suspicions. We longed to find a place together and made plans to find an apartment off campus which we could share, starting in the fall of our sophomore year.
Maybe it was good for us not to be together all the time during those first few months. The time we had was precious and we made the most of it, learning each other, refining our love. I don't mean the physical aspects of love making alone. I mean the little subtleties of emotion and personality, the likes and dislikes, the ways I could unintentionally push the wrong button and spark Steve's sudden anger and the ways he could unintentionally send me into a mood of gloom and dejection.
In other words, we became lovers in every sense of the word. We were learning each other, physically, sexually, emotionally.
We steeled ourselves for separation, knowing we'd be apart for three weeks over the Christmas and New Years holidays. I was going home to Spring River. I'd be with my family and I'd see Joyce. I would also see Rick. I rehearsed again and again what I'd say to him, how I'd tell him about Steve.
My preparations were cut short when Rick walked up to me at the Ole Miss - Mississippi State football game. I'd hesitated about even going to the game and had finally figured with 40,000 people and neither Rick nor I playing, there was no logical chance of seeing him. Then suddenly he was there, his arms akimbo and an equally crooked grin on his face, standing behind me when I turned to leave a concession stand, a hot dog in each hand.
"Need a little help there, Buddy," he said from three or four feet away.
I froze, not able to move, not able to speak.
"Well, maybe you have those sausages under control after all," he added with a grin.
When I continued to stare at him in stunned disbelief, he went on, "maybe we could get together later. What do you say?"
"You mean someplace private?" I was finally able to say.
"No, someplace public. How about meeting for coffee at Stemsons, the little café just down the road?"
"Yeah, sure," I managed, wondering how I'd explain my sudden departure to Steve. "What about Deb, is she here?"
"No, she went home this weekend."
"To Spring River?"
"Yeah, Rob, at least for the time being, that's still home." He grinned again. "I won't have long but it would be nice to have a few minutes, just to catch up."
"You want to bring the boyfriend?"
How the hell did he know? "How..." I started to say but he cut me off.
"Don't worry about it, Rob. Maybe you can at least introduce us," he said as he turned to go. Then, just as he was about to disappear into the crowd of crimson and blue, he turned again and said in a louder voice over the crowd, "I'll see you after we whip your Ole Miss ass." I stood, still frozen, holding two not so hot hot dogs. It was a cold day and my breath was very visible as I headed back into the stadium where Steve was waiting.
"Of course I'll come," Steve said at once when I told him about running into Rick. "I really want to meet the guy."
An hour later we walked into the café to find Rick already there, sitting in a booth at the back, chatting with a very attractive and very interested waitress.
"Steve, Rick. Rick, Steve," I said briskly as I slid into the booth, facing Rick, and with Steve taking the space next to me. The moment I'd dreaded had come, me together with my new boyfriend and Rick, my old boyfriend, my first love.
"I'm not staying, Rick," Steve said at once. "I just wanted to say hello and put a face with the name."
"Glad you came, Steve. You're nothing like I expected."
"I thought Rob was seeing some little redheaded shrimp."
Steve gave a huge guffaw. "Sammy Hill! He never had a chance."
"How the hell did you know about Sammy?" I asked, dumfounded.
"Deb and Joyce have stayed in touch. She said in one letter that when you and she met in Athens you were with the guy."
"Just roommates," I said quickly, but Steve wouldn't let me get away with it.
"Well...," he said with a grin. Rick looked confused. "I hate to tell you, Rick, but your ex-boyfriend is a slut."
"Well, thanks a lot, Steve. You are in serious trouble," I managed to say, my face red and my mouth suddenly dry.
At that moment the waitress returned with three large cokes. Her eyes darted from Rick to me and then to Steve but we held our silence until she'd gone.
"So Rob's been playing the field," Rick grinned.
"Was playing the field. Now he's mine."
"Hey," I jabbed, "you're the one whose been talking about a threesome."
"Well, Rick," Steve went on, ignoring me, "Sammy is a cute kid and I have suggested we invite him over."
"Does the idea of doing it with someone else interest you two?"
"I think it sounds hot but Rob here is gun shy." He waited and then in a lower, rather conspiratorial voice added, "what about you, Rick, you interested?"
This time it was Rick who uttered a huge laugh. "Hey, Steve, I'm a married man, leave me out if this."
"Well, hell, it could be a lot of fun," Steve said as his right hand snuck over to grope my crotch. I guess he found what he'd expected - I was very hard.
"I'm sure," Rick said with a grin. Thank heavens he was taking Steve's very inappropriate comments in a lighthearted manner.
"Well, I guess I'd better go. I've caused enough trouble, but it was great meeting you, Rick."
"You aren't afraid to leave this guy alone with me for a while then, Steve?"
"No," Steve said as he slid from the booth, leaving his coke untouched. His voice suddenly serious, he said, "Kidding aside, I trust him. You and he can have a good visit but I know when you're through he'll be coming to me."
Rick slipped out of the booth as Steve extended his hand to him. To my surprise, instead of taking Steve's hand, he threw his arms around him and gave him a big hug. "Just take care of him, Steve," Rick said. There was an audible catch in his voice.
"I will," Steve said, his voice hardly audible.
"I may be out of the picture but I still love him." It was very odd, sitting there, listening to them talking about me as if I weren't there. "I want the best for him."
"I sort of guessed that," Steve said with a slight
smile as he turned and left.
Rick's eyes followed him as Steve worked his way to the front of the crowded café and then slipped out the front door into the freezing twilight.
"He's a nice guy, Rob." Rick said as he sat down.
"Yeah," I agreed, not knowing what else to say.
"Is he another freshman football player?"
"No, Steve doesn't play football."
"He could, he's got the size and he looks like he's in great shape."
"We work out together, but he was into swimming in high school."
"It looks like the training has been a success. You look great, Rob. You've put on some weight."
"Yeah, about twenty pounds." I paused, looking across at him. "You've gained some weight, too."
"About the same, fifteen or twenty pounds."
"So everything's going well?"
"Yeah, real good. I'm doing better in my classes than I'd expected. Admittedly, I'm avoiding any real hard subjects." He grinned again and added, "the football is great and Deb and I are getting on fine."
"I figured you would, Rick. I never doubted you'd make a go of it with her."
"I really love her, Rob."
"Of course. I knew you did."
"What about Steve, Rob? Are you guys in love? Do you think he's the one for you, long-term, I mean?"
"I love him. He loves me. Long-term..." I left the sentence unfinished.
"I guess I've not given it much thought."
"Maybe you've answered my question and didn't even realize it."
Sometimes Rick was more perceptive than he gave himself credit for. Sometimes questions like that are better left unasked and unanswered.
We talked a while. We motioned the waitress over and ordered hamburgers and fries.
Rick and Debbie had been home for a long weekend. He'd seen Ted Tucker and a bunch of our old high school friends who were still in Spring River working, not in school. "I realized how little future they have there, Rob. We're so lucky to have gotten out."
"I can't see myself back there, ever."
"I know. Deb and I have talked about that a lot. We want to go back, to be close to our families, but things will never be the same."
The waitress brought our order and stayed on to flirt. I could tell she had seen Rick's wedding ring, but it didn't seem to matter. She flirted openly with both of us. I wondered if she was really interested or if it was just in hopes of a better tip. Rick grinned at me when she left. She looked tired behind the glossy lipstick and the bleached blonde hair.
"You said it would never be the same with your families," I said as we ate. "The church thing?"
"Yeah, that's part of it," Rick replied, "but I think it's not the real cause. The real problems are much deeper with both Deb's family and mine."
"So what will you do?"
"Oh, who knows. We've got at least three more years of college after this year. The world can change a lot in that length of time."
We agreed to spend time together over Christmas. We kidded about our times at Rick's uncle's cabin. Those days seemed a lifetime ago, not just the few months that had really passed.
When we'd eaten and the girl came back with the bill, Rick looked across at me, a sad look in his eyes, and said, "I have to go. The buses are leaving at seven."
I looked at my watch. It was six-thirty.
Rick reached for the bill but I stopped him, putting my hand over his. "My treat," he said with a slight smile. "I invited you, remember?"
"Can we split it?"
"No, I'll get even over Christmas."
"Is that a promise?"
"Yeah," he grinned again.
"Where are they waiting, the buses, I mean?"
"In the stadium parking lot."
"Come on, I'll walk with you, it's the same direction as my dorm."
Rick paid at the counter by the door and we went out into the chill. A cold, damp wind had come up which cut through us. We turned up our jacket collars, buttoned them tightly around our necks and struck out along the damp street.
"I hope you don't get into a ice storm," I said as we came up to the line of parked buses and joined the crowd of Mississippi State football players and fans.
"We'll be fine," Rick assured me as he turned and gave me a hug. I wondered if his team mates would wonder about it but he didn't seem worried so I just hugged him back. "They'll just think we're kin," he grinned, reading my mind.
I waved as he boarded the bus and then stood under the approaches to the stadium until they pulled out. I waved until they turned into the road but the bus windows were so fogged up I couldn't tell if Rick waved back or not.
Walking on across the campus I felt sad and empty and dejected. By the time I reached my dorm I was frozen to the bone.
"Let me warm you up," Steve said as I opened the door to my room.
"Where's David?" I asked, referring to my roommate.
"He was leaving when I got here. His folks came for the game."
"I know, I saw them earlier."
"But did you know they were going on up to Memphis for the weekend and they've taken their darling son along?" He gave me a contrived leer, raising and lowering his eyebrows like a younger version of Groucho Marx.
"So we've got the room to ourselves."
"The boy wins the prize, " he said, pulling me to him and holding me close. I rested my head on his wide shoulder, turned my face to nuzzle into his warm neck, not wanting him to ever let me go.
To be continued.