Discovering Love

Written by Rick Beck

Chapter 2

The Military Presence

A section of brick houses went up next to the main drag in town a couple of years ago. That's where the military families started to move. At first the kids of the military families went to school on the base but slowly they were infiltrating my school. I was only aware of their presence because from time to time I would hear one of them talking about living overseas. On my way home from school I started examining the new houses where I knew they lived. I also noticed the boys that played together on the streets in front of them. It was the first exciting thing that had happened since the flood of '76 when I was just starting school.

I was part of the first invasion of city dwellers who decided suburban living was the way to go. One by one the housing developments had razed the farms, leaving the farmers without their fields. This put us on the outs with the townies. Invariably the farmers were poor men that managed to get by working their little plots of land. One day the bank came and told them the land had been sold and they'd be compensated for their loss. It didn't endear the first wave of invaders to the locals.

Guys like Alfie were too young to have known farm life very well, but they still held a grudge because their father's did. I'd never mingled with them although they sat beside me in classes and roamed the halls of the same school. Seeing Alfred with Greg indicated that the schism was either disappearing or there was something about Greg that had Alfred overlooking the fact Greg was one of "them". Seeing them together had me regretting that I didn't get closer to Alfred over the years we'd been acquainted.

It took me a few weeks to forget the fateful meeting. Most of my waking hours went without considering Greg at all. Knowing the danger that lurked behind those intense eyes made it easier for me to push Greg out of my conscious thoughts. He still visited me late at night and I used that imagery to my advantage while still half a sleep and ill-prepared to refuse him.

I didn't see Alfred except in passing at school. I thought about asking him about Greg, and I thought of not asking him. I did what I'd always done with the boy that lived in the house on the hill at the back of our neighborhood - nodded and smiled as I went on my way. I was happy leaving things alone. I didn't like what I'd felt that day. I didn't like the questions it put inside my head. I didn't like Greg and I was happy we hadn't crossed paths a second time because I wasn't sure I could keep not liking him.

One day, as I stood at my locker ready to rid myself of my books, a hand slid up on the locker door beside my face. As I tried to open it the hand was in the way. There was a short struggle for supremacy and I turned ready for a confrontation with the jerk that was fucking with me.

"Hi! What's your name again?"

He leaned with his hand extended behind my head, using the locker door for support.

"Martin. My name is Martin," I said indignant, all the time looking for his eyes. When I found them I had to catch my breath. Be still my heart.

"Yeah, that's right, Martin. Remember me?"

"Yeah! George something or other, ...wasn't it?"

I wasn't about to let him know I remembered not only his name, but the contour of his lips, the way his legs ran up to his tight round ass, and that scar, and those eyes. And before I knew it, I was locked in his eyes the same way we'd become locked on the first day we'd met. Trapped like a deer in the headlights of an onrushing Mack truck.

"Greg. My name is Greg," he said, being caught off guard by my lapse.

"Are you sure? I thought it was George," I pondered. "Whatever your name is, could I get into my locker now?"

Greg moved his hand, being thrown by my wit for only a few seconds. He stood so close to me that the heat from his body mingling with the heat from mine, building up between us. Once again I knew something was wrong with me. No human being had ever had the kind of affect on me, and I didn't even know him, and I wanted to keep it that way as I pulled my shirt out of my pants to cover my guilt.

As I fiddled and tried to remember what I was doing there I noticed his arms were bare, and there were some silken blond hairs on his forearms. They were far lighter hairs than the darker blond hairs on his head. His wrist was thick and his arm was well shaped, but not as muscular as I fantasized them to be when I was with him in my room late at night.

His chest had the same affect on his T-shirt that his ass had on his jeans and on me as well. I looked at the impression his nipples made on it while placing my books into my locker. My face felt the cotton in his T-shirt when he refused to move, and I wanted to rub up against him. I inhaled a heavy dose of his scent and immediately went into a total and complete brain-fart-mode (BFM). There was no way to remember which books I needed for homework and so I did the honorable thing, ditching them all in the bottom of my locker so I could turn around to look at him.

When I turned to face him, I wondered what he wanted from me. I stood there with my back against my locker door as he leaned on the hand he had placed near my ear. I felt cornered and I wanted to hide how flustered I'd become merely because he was there. He could read me like a Playboy Magazine. I became sure I didn't like this smirking boy as he laughed at my indecisive awkwardness. I wanted to escape from him and I never wanted him to leave me.

"You're funny."

And especially I hated the affect he had on me. Man, I wanted to punch him out. I wanted him to leave me alone. I wanted to kiss him flat on the lips with half the school passing around us. His arm sagged down across my shoulder and his eyes leaned on my eyes. How did he know I wasn't going to kiss him?

Mind you, I'd never kissed anyone before if you don't count my grandmother and somehow I didn't think that counted. I didn't think the kind of kiss I was thinking about sharing with Greg was in any way akin to that. Oh, I'd once suspected there was more to kissing than pecking old granny but no evidence surfaced and so it was one of those mysteries of life there was no way to answer until you meet someone like Greg. I was satisfied with not knowing until then.

I had grown to realize I was likely going to go through the rest of my life being asexual. Most of my former friends were locked into relationships and bragging about scoring every time I ended up in a conversation with one of them. Then they'd ask how I was doing in that department and there just weren't a lot of options when your girlfriends are just friends and nothing more. The only one I figured I was destined to "know" was my right hand and on those perverted occasions when I wanted something more, my left, but I never dared tell anyone I was ambidextrous in that way.

I'd never done anything with anyone up until then, nor did I want to, or so I thought. Then came Greg and I wasn't sure what I wanted, but wanting anything with him or from him was too scary to consider. Living in a small town, everyone knows everyone else. We met each Sunday in front of the churches and again on Wednesday evening. There was no way I could or would risk being discovered as someone people could hate. There was no where to run and no one to turn to once that kind of thing got around because even sympathetic people knew better than to become identified with anyone outside the norm established by our community leaders.

It was better to stick it out alone and hope for better days than to be labeled about the worst thing a kid my age could be labeled. To be labeled in a way that could get you killed isn't something I wanted to play around with. I didn't want anyone to know about what I felt or know what I did with whom in mind.

Then came Greg and I hated him. I had never hated anyone that I know of before. I found myself staring into those eyes as the fog lifted from my addled brain. The entire school moved around us, but I felt as though I was alone there with him. I tried my hardest not to pass out. I became aware of my heart going crazy inside my chest. My stomach turned over about the same time my mouth went dry. I didn't want to throw up on the guy. He just stood there waiting - for what I don't know. His eyes just stayed in mine as we contemplated our next words while the air became more scarce.

"What's up, doc," I said as cheerfully as I could while trying to cover my growing excitement with the too short tail of my shirt.

"You really want to know," he said curtly, glancing down at the too short tail of my shirt. Shit!

I was then I used my sweating and now bookless palms which was all I had left to hide the rising... temperature. And of course he didn't miss anything, staring at my hands as though he knew exactly what was going on under them. The smirk left and it was only me and my eyes suspended there waiting for his. He didn't know how little control I had left. He chuckled and shook his head before finding my eyes again.

"I just wanted to say there's a party Friday night, my house. My parents will be away this weekend. Some beer and whatever people bring. Interested? Mostly air force kids. Guys you don't know."

I knew the answer.

I wasn't a fool!

I knew all the dangers he represented.

I'd carefully been able to keep control of my life and I sure as hell wasn't giving that control up to some smirking, arrogant, cocky, gorgeous guy that made me dizzy every time I looked at him.

"I don't even know where you live," I said, fighting the words. It's not what I meant to say.

"Come on. I'll show you. We'll shoot some pool. You do shoot pool, don't you?"

I wasn't going anywhere with him. The thing I needed to do was tell him "no". The thing I needed to do was walk away from him. The thing I needed to do was stop looking in his eyes. What was happening to me?

The thing I did was, follow him out of the school like a puppy on a chain with him gladly leading the way. Only after we were out of the parking lot did he slow down so we could walk side by side. I had no trouble bring up the rear and the view it gave me. Well, I was following him, I figured I might as well make the most of it. I watched his jeans shifting from side to side as he walked.

"You lived here long?" he asked.

"All my life."

"Not yet, I hope," he said, looking at me and smiling without the smirk.

"Where'd you come from?" I asked.

"My mother's belly," he said.

"Give me a break. Where did you live before you live where it is you live at present?"

"You want to know where my father was stationed last? Rhine Main, that's in Germany."

"You speak German?"

"Not fluent, but I know a lot of the words. It's not that hard - German, I mean."

"What's Germany like?" I asked. `

"Nice. People are a lot nicer. They all like Americans so it isn't hard to make friends. Not like over here; everyone's stuck up."

"You don't seem to have any trouble making friends," I said.

"Meaning we are becoming friends," he said, not asking but telling me with certainty.

Once again I knew the answer. The last thing in the world I needed was a friend like Greg.

"Yeah!" I said, angry with myself for saying it.

"I figured that. I don't like just anyone, you know. I've got to be careful who I like. People tend to hang on me. I don't like that. It's easier to pick out the ones that you can do things with. If you take your time, you can have the ones you need and not the ones that are a pain in the ass."

"Like me?" I asked.

"Yeah! Maybe like you. I don't know yet. You seem okay from what I've seen. Alfred says you're cool. Says you don't make friends with people he runs with though. He thinks you're stuck up, but he still thought you were cool enough to talk to."

"Alfred and I don't have anything in common. His old man's a farmer and mine works for the phone company. He runs with guys that are farmer's sons. I don't think they like us much. Most of the newer housing developments were once farms. I mostly make friends with blue color types. That's who lives around me. Alfred's fine. I like him okay. You said he was cool enough, cool enough for what?"

"Yeah! He's okay, just not very good at pool. You any good?"

"We talking about pool now?" I asked. "I keep having the feeling we may not be having exactly the same conversation here. Cool enough to what?"

"I was talking about pool. You play or what?" He said, looking me over with that knowing smirk again.

"I know which end of the cue to use. Cool enough for what?"

"Great. I'd like to find someone that can play a good game. Cool enough to play with me. He introduced me to some of the farm boys thinking he could get over on me that way but he couldn't. He still lost."

"Maybe you need to train someone to compete with you, huh? To play with you I mean. That's what you want?"

"No one can compete with me," he said self-assured. "Lots play with me. Few are very good."

"We're speaking of pool?"

"Pool."

He looked me over once he'd said it. It occurred to him that I had some idea about what the conversation was really about.

"The farm boys?"

"Some times."

"For some reason I don't find that hard to believe, and I don't think it has a thing to do with pool. They cool enough?"

"What do you mean?" He said with honest innocence in his voice for the first time as he studied me. "With pool?"

"You're different," I said, thinking out loud. "I've never met anyone quite like you."

"Different! What do you mean by that crack? I'm no different than you are. I just don't waist a lot of time."

"You're cocky - self confident. Most guys around here aren't so sure as you. My friends aren't; I'm not, and the farm boys sure aren't. Does that make us bumpkins or something?"

"I can't help it if you guys were brought up in the sticks. I know which end is up. I've been around. It's part of the military experience. You learn about new places and new people."

"And how to get what you want from them?"

"What are you saying? I don't get anything they aren't willing to give. I have no trouble attracting people. I don't want anyone around me that's a drag."

"It's okay Greg, I'm not cutting you down. You stand out and it's obvious you've been around. You're different in a good way is all I'm saying. You are different than most of us because you've had more experience with other people. That makes you interesting."

"Yeah, that's true."

"I guess we are from the sticks, and that means we don't know as much about life and people from other places. I also suppose that's why people like you come around. It's how we learn about stuff... like pool. Cool enough for what?"

"Cool enough to know what they like."

"You?"

"I suppose. You find me interesting?"

"You know I do. You turned around to make sure I was still watching you that day. You knew I was curious about you."

"What day?"

"Right! What party? You're inviting me to your party because you know I find you interesting. You know stuff I don't know. There's only one way to find stuff out."

I figured I'd get it out there so he couldn't use it against me later. I was trying to justify it to myself at the same time so I might be able to make a get away if I found out I wasn't cool enough.

"Ask the new kid?"

"If he's cool enough... to ask. Are you cool enough?"

"In a manner of speaking. I thought you were calling me queer or something for a minute. I ain't no queer, so don't even go there."

I don't know where that line came from but it startled me when he said that particular word with the emphasis he placed on it. What in his mind brought him to that word? I'd always been queer in one way or another. I didn't like what other people liked. I didn't feel what other people said they felt. Queer is not the word I would have chosen to delineate it.

I became lost in my fog again. To me Greg was an enigma magnified times ten and this is coming from someone who understood little much about anyone, including myself. The only time I heard the word queer was when someone was using it to insult someone else. It was best to ignore the word because if you didn't, you became immediately suspect. I knew that word described what I felt about myself at the times I was being honest about what my feelings were, or what I thought they were, and I wasn't about to go near it for fear of having something of the word rub off on me.

This was likely a cowardly way for me to feel about it but beatings and insults being the result of being heroic, it didn't take much to make me realize that keeping my secret was conducive to my good health and well being. Everyone that I had ever known of that was labeled a queer didn't do too well among his peers. I may not have been very bright, but I was smart enough to know when to keep my mouth shut. Some kids couldn't hide it and other kids couldn't leave them alone because of it. I felt bad because I never once offered aid or comfort to another guy after it became known he felt like me. I never knew a lesbian girl so I didn't identify so much with their difficulties. I figured girls could hide it better in school.

This sudden use of the word got my mind on it and what it meant and how painful it was when I heard it. Whatever was going on between Greg and I, it wasn't anything that had gone on between me and anyone else before. There was something working that had him at my locker at a time when I would have preferred to get on with my life not knowing anything more than I already knew about him. He decided to take it beyond that first meeting. He had to feel something because I knew all that energy didn't start and end with me. Where had it been all my life up until then?

I watched him walking beside me and caught a glimpse of the package in the front of his jeans. I could see the outline running down the inside of his right leg. The tight jeans left little to my imagination but I didn't need much. I'd given up trying to hide what had sprung out of our proximity. If he noticed after we left my locker he wasn't talking. I don't think he cared if I got a clear view of the wood in his pants or not. His mind was on something else as we walked. He made no effort to hide it or monitor where my eyes fixed on him, but then there was the question, why the word queer and what the hell were we doing if he wasn't? What was all the posturing about? What did he want if he didn't want guys to want him? It all seemed too covert for me.

As we came to the end of the path Greg turned around to face me. I let him get far enough ahead where he couldn't catch me watching his butt as he walked. Now I was faced with the other end of my dilemma, and as I closed the distance between us he adeptly used his palm to push the bulging onto the inside of the pant leg before he turned to step onto the shoulder of the road where we would walk.

He didn't say anything about his last second maneuver before entering inhabited ground and there was no way I knew to bring it up that might get it out into the open, so to speak. He either didn't mind that I saw that he was excited about something, or prospects of something, or he knew exactly what he was doing and did it for my benefit. Either way it intrigued me enough to keep me on his trail.

When faced by a gift horse, never turn your back on him.

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