Discovering Love

Written by Rick Beck

Chapter 5

Game Plan

"You're late!"

My father spoke as soon as I opened the door. He was around the corner in the kitchen fixing dinner. I could smell the chili as soon as I got in the living room.

"Yes, sir," I said, wondering how he always knew when I came home.

I went to my room and changed my clothes, setting aside the ones I'd been wearing while I was with Greg. I sat on the corner of my bed and thought about going crazy, not so much doing it as was I. How could things get so far out of control so quickly. I was letting someone else call the shots and I'd never let anyone jerk me around before. What was it he had that I wanted? I knew all the obvious answers but none of them answered the questions. My best bet was to stay as far as way from Greg as I could get and I knew it.

My father's back was to me when I sat down at the table still thinking about my time with Greg.

"How's school."

"Fine."

"You passing everything."

"Yes, sir. My friend wants me to stay over this weekend. I'm almost sixteen, Dad."

"Yeah, I know that. What friend? Do we know him?"

My father turned to look over his shoulder at me when he asked. I never brought anyone home. They never met anyone I ran with not that I ran with anyone in particular. All my friends had drifted away from me in junior high school and I hadn't bothered to replace them. It took so much work to make friends that it didn't seem worth it. You know them and trust them for years and one day they blow you off for the new girl they met.

"No, he's a new kid. Colonel's son or something. They just moved up on the pike and he's looking to get acquainted with the townies."

"I don't see why not. You're plenty old enough to stay over. I'll talk to your mother about it."

That went well. The thought occurred to me that I was now stuck with staying at Greg's no matter what happened. The thought both thrilled and worried me.

I needed to stay away from Greg. As much as I liked him and as much as I wanted to repeat our pool table shenanigans, I suspected it would never be that easy a second time. There came a cost when you let other boys know they could get you to do stuff to them. I don't know how I knew that but it was obvious I needed to be careful about how easily I went for his game.

Greg was too anxious to get me into his little clique and he was too easy to get close to. There had to be something I didn't know. This was obvious to me as well. I just didn't know how to apply the brakes and still get something out of it. Hell, I couldn't even find the brake pedal. I would go to the party and avoid anyone I knew and find out what was going on without letting anyone know what was going on inside my own brain.

I caught sight of Greg in the hall on Friday but he didn't see me. The bottom fell out of my stomach and I wanted to rush up and say hello. Instead I slowed down so our paths wouldn't cross. His white T-shirt was tight and he flashed a smile at a girl walking past, turning to watch her as they went in opposite directions.

I checked the mirror a dozen times before I left the house. My parents were out and I told them I would be back on Sunday. They didn't ask me any questions and I didn't mention it again.

I arrived for the party a little after 8p.m. I walked up the gravel driveway and could see people through the thin white drapes on the two tall dinning room windows. I entered through the kitchen and immediately saw Greg with his back turned to me. I walked past him and the corner of the table and turned to nod and to let him know I had arrived.

He only let his eyes pass over me as I moved past. His absent nod dismissed me almost immediately. I kept moving toward the living room shadows but turned to take another look at my host. He pretty much ignored me after that.

The other guys were all dressed exactly like Greg, white T-shirts, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Every head was cut close and except for variations in the acne patterns and a few inches here or there, they seemed like they were similar.

He stood at the table with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in one hand, making eyes at the only girl who was in the room. She sat on a chair at the corner of one of the windows. Four other boys were posted around the table, laughing and joking with one another, but keeping at a respectful distance from where Greg was now engaging her in conversation. I couldn't help but wonder if she played pool.

She looked like a nice clean girl with a face that almost shinned from frequent scrubbings. She kept her hands folded in front of her as she giggled politely each time Greg spoke. I wondered if that's how I looked when I was looking at him. It was obvious to me she was smitten with my hero. Some random thoughts went through my mind concerning Greg and the girl and I wondered if I should go to the table to retrieve a beer out of the huge bucket that had been placed there and filled with ice.

"Hey, Martin. Greg said you was coming."

Alfred came from a hallway off to my left. He had a noticeable list toward his right as he closed the distance between us.

"Hey, Alfred. Anybody else we know here?"

"Nah, all the military guys he hangs with. Greg said you shot some pool."

Alfred smiled as I cringed. He drank from his bottle of beer.

"What?"

I couldn't hide my surprise. What had Greg said? What if Alfred knew about the pool games and the pay up? But of course he did, I thought. He was coming to play the day we all met over by my house. Alfred knew and he was back and so I knew. It somehow didn't comfort me knowing Alfred had probably paid up too.

"Pool! Greg said you came over to shoot pool."

He was more insistent that we talk about it.

"Yeah, I wasn't paying any attention."

He reeked of booze and needed a shave, which was remarkable because very few of us shaved yet, and Alfred still looked like he was twelve. He was one of the few guys I could look down at.

I walked into the unlighted living room and took a seat in a chair that faced the table and the man. Alfred came and stood beside the chair making conversation I tried to pay attention to. When he needed a beer he drifted away and didn't come back. From my vantage point I was looking out of the shadows at the activities going on around the table. I'd never seen any of the military kids before. They were a bit too loud for my taste. I'd never been to a drinking party before. None of them seemed too bashful about reaching for the beer.

Several times I thought I might leave, but even with Greg hanging on to some girl, I couldn't keep from wanting to be near him as long as I could. His smile was radiant and his laughter filled the room. Everyone stood around him, making him the center of attention. I was just bored, picking up bits of information from different conversations that I listened to. None of it was coherent for long.

Alfred and I were the only non-military types, and he seemed much more out of place than I felt. The circle around the table was closed and Alfred had to reach through for his beer. He spent a lot of time doing that and he seemed to be having one hell of a good time. After awhile I noticed he wasn't there any longer.

A tall thin guy came in with two girls. They brought some more beer, some wine, and Cokes. There were some hugs, more laughter, and the din grew.

"What's up, doc?" someone said from the corner of the couch.

I turned my head to see Squirt, or Doug, sitting there. Had he been there the entire time or was I so intent watching the action that I hadn't noticed his arrival?

He was holding a can of beer and looked way too young to be drinking. I could see his perfect white teeth and his perfect smile. He was the perfect copy and Greg had been the imperfect prototype. Doug had the kind of complexion that women pray they can achieve. I suspected he didn't work nearly as hard at it as they did.

He got up to sit on the arm of the chair I was sitting in, pulling his knees up to his chest and leaning back. His leg was now pressing warmly against my arm and shoulder. He didn't seem to notice the intimacy and I didn't mind at all. We both watched the activities from the shadows.

"Didn't expect to see you again."

"Why's that?"

He looked down at my face with a curiosity he couldn't hide. I though that Doug knew what was on my mind. He stared without speaking for several minutes and then he looked back toward the dinning room.

"Townie's usually get one dose of Greg's pool game and don't need a second lesson."

"Is that how it always goes?"

"What do you mean?"

"Come on, Doug. You saw us. What we were doing. Does he do that with all of them."

"No, only most of the time. He loses interest some times. He likes getting guys to do stuff. You know? They've got to want to."

"He play with these guys?"

I knew I was asking too many questions and Doug knew more than I wanted him to know about me, but he somehow seemed harmless. As threatening as Greg was, that's about how non-threatening Doug was. Doug looked at me for a minute as his chin rested on his knees.

"More like they play with him."

I checked the guys as they stood around the table. Mostly all I could see was backs, but they were all between my age and Greg's age, mostly a little younger, I thought.

"Boring, huh?" I said, smiling at Doug.

"Always is. Probably'll get interesting once the girls go. Usually does, anyway."

"He never mentioned girls."

"There's always at least one for awhile and Greg will try to get into her pants."

"Does he?"

"Some times. This one won't stay? She's a dick tease."

"How so?"

"Gets the boys all worked up and leaves. He's been working on her for awhile."

"Does she know about the pool games?" I asked without thinking.

"Nah. Not even Greg is that stupid. There are limits to what you can let a girl know about."

"Really! You mean they talk about stuff?"

"They're all pervs, each and every one of this crew. They're Greg's inner-circle."

"They know about the pool games?"

"They all know about him. Alfred's the only townie that comes back, and he's a drunk and comes for the beer. And now you."

"He do stuff to Greg?"

"You want me talking about what you do to Greg?"

The words were serious and slapped me out of my funk. Doug knew more than he said and I didn't want to hear any more.

"No," I said, unable to hide my alarm. "He said you were cool."

"Me? I guess. I don't know nothin about nothin if that's what you mean. You guys do what you want with him. It's not like I care."

"You've seen him do other stuff?"

"I'm his brother - there's little I don't see. He don't care about me and he knows I don't talk about it."

"You sound a bit angry," I said.

"Greg would kill me if I said something to the wrong person. You want to know about Alfie, you ask Alfie. The pervs all hang together around here. You hang here and this crew'll know about you before long. So, if you're smart...."

"What's that mean?"

"I don't know. Sex is all they think about, ya know. That's all. You should hear them without the girls."

"You seem like a nice guy. These guys aren't?"

"Mine's bigger than yours. No it's not. Bet you. It all starts with bets. Small bets at first and then as the beer gets gone the bets grow. They all know where it ends up."

"You don't do that stuff?" I asked.

"There you go again, Martin. I don't do public stuff. I'm not into audience participation."

"You're here."

"I get enough beer, maybe. I guess I'm a perv too - I don't like to admit it."

"They all like him," I thought out loud.

"Greg's big on audience, admiration, and status. Size is everything to my dear brother. The size of the audience is as important as anything."

"Like I didn't notice," I said.

"Yeah, discreet to him is getting naked in front of a dozen people."

I watched Greg making out with the girl in front of everyone. There were periods of silence for the first time, and all the eyes were on him. One boy nudged another boy and giggled in his ear when Greg's hand went onto her thigh and lifted her skirt a few inches before she slapped his hand away. He leaned into her and the front of his pants rubbed on the side of her frilly white blouse.

Doug stayed planted next to me and we both watched.

With Greg's back to the wall next to the kitchen door and the girl clinging onto him, I saw the bulging in his jeans clearly for the first time. She had both of her hands around his neck and looked up at him with adoring eyes and silver-plated smile. One of his arms was around her and the other was on her waist. It slipped down to the front of her skirt and then it went back down on her inner thigh and stayed put. She looked tiny beside him and that made his condition all the more obvious. His crew all stood facing him and I wondered if his lump stirred them at all, even their giggling had slowed down.

I needed a cold one just then. I walked into the dinning room, looking past the bucket of beer to the object that got my interest rising. I pushed between two of the guys and pulled out a bottle of Pabst with ice dripping down off it. Greg's eyes left hers for long enough to notice me. I figured I'd accomplished everything I'd set out to do.

"Still here," I said happily, and I reached for a second beer to give to Doug.

"Who's he?" Sharon inquired, turning her head when he turned his.

"Kid from school. Martin, Sharon."

"Hi!" I said buoyantly. "You go to our school?"

"On base," she said, no longer looking at me.

"All of us go on base," the tallest boy said while following me with his curious eyes.

"Here," I said, handing Doug his beer.

"Good old panther piss," he muttered, twisting off the cap.

When we got our attention back on the dinning room, Sharon continued rubbing herself against Greg. She kept one of her hands just north of Greg's bulge, holding onto the belt line of his pants just above his right pocket. Greg had one arm planted over his head, leaning on the door jam and the other dangled down to the top of her bent leg and she used the wall for support. Greg's fingers curled on the leg. She giggled, brushing it away, but it was like a yo-yo, coming back even higher each time she pushed it down, until it was exposing her white silky underpants.

I wasn't so sure she was going to leave. I wasn't so sure she wouldn't grab it. Had I been there with my hand so close to it, I doubt I could have stopped myself from touching it, holding it, wanting to have it out in my hand. I thought about his back being against the surface of the pool table with me in-between his legs and our eyes locked together. I squirmed in my seat.

"I've really got to go this time," Sharon said. "I'm already late. My father will be livid, you know. Stop Greg. Really I have to...."

Sharon's hand was holding his pocket now and part of the bulging was under it as her eyes danced and she started to move away. He blocked her and she moved his dangling hand off her crotch one more time, smiling coyly up at him as he kissed her deeper than before.

"Stop it," she said, but her hand was still holding his pocket. "I'm going now."

She did go and no one spoke as Greg stood in the doorway with his back to us. Someone grabbed a beer and the tall kid that came in with the two girls entered the shadows and the living room. I looked past him as Greg turned back to his party, and his eyes were sparkling with an evil glint that accompanied an absolutely wicked smile. He had his hand down on his bulge and his hips moved tantalizingly against it in slow motion.

"I'm Herb," the tall skinny kid said, thrusting forth a hand full of skinny long fingers for me to inspect.

"Martin."

"Yeah, Greg told me about you. I mean, I know Alfred. It was only logical you had to be you."

My eyes found the blue in his as he towered above us. I shook the waiting hand. He sat down on the opposite arm of the chair from Doug. His leg was pressed against my other shoulder as he stared back toward Greg.

"Hey, squirt."

"Don't call me that, Herbert."

Doug's voice had lost its pleasant lilt. It wasn't nasty or unpleasant, just firm. Even angry Doug was nice. The two boys looked at one another in a way that told me they were friends in spite of their words.

"What's up Doug?"

"Not much, just hoping you guys will go home so I can watch some TV."

"They'll quiet down once the girls are gone. Everyone is competing right now. Greg's working Sharon hard."

"Says he'll nail her soon," Doug said.

"Not going to happen, Squirt. Her father's a general. Greg ain't that dumb."

"Don't call me that. Says she's good as screwed."

"Sorry! Old habits are hard to break. Maybe he is," Herbie said, looking back into the dinning room. "That's dumb. Boy's dick is bigger an his brain. Says you ain't much at pool."

Herbie talked fast and I wasn't always sure what we were talking about but his eyes fell down on me as I sat between them. I knew my face was turning red. I looked straight toward the beer bucket and decided it wasn't a question.

"He's cool, Martin," Doug said. "Relatively harmless."

"Unless you bend over in front of me. I can be deadly under those circumstances, huh Squirt... Doug."

Herbie said stuff that sounded silly but I knew exactly what we were talking about. I just couldn't imagine someone so casual about it when we didn't even know one another. I knew the implications of his statement. I just didn't know how serious I should take him. I glanced up to get a clearer look at his face.

"He's also the only guy hornier than my big brother," Doug said. "But he's cool about it."

"Not either."

"So."

"Not."

"So,"

"Maybe I am. He's getting worse though."

"Can't get any worse, Herbie. It's all that's on his mind. I live with him remember."

I looked at Doug first before asking the question that was on my mind. "Does he? Do you?"

Both of them gave me a long hard look and I shut up. They knew what I was asking and I knew what the answer meant.

"One of the girls you came in with your girlfriend?" I asked.

"Nah, they just live up near me. I gave 'em a ride."

"Where's your girlfriend," I said, figuring Herbie was at least a year older than me and perhaps more.

"Don't have one."

"Oh!"

"Nah, not with Gregie and Tommy and Georgie around? I'm no competition for the lover boys. They get the girls. I get... whatever."

"If you didn't act so crazy you'd do better," Doug said pointedly.

"Sorry, boo-boo, just can't help myself. I'm a crazy kind of a guy. It's my nature. You know that."

"Too crazy sometimes," Doug said.

"All sixteen-year-olds are supposed to be crazy. My old man tells me that. He was crazy when he was my age."

"Damn! You're only sixteen?" I asked.

"Yeah! I'm younger by a year than the rest of them."

"You look older. Older than all of them."

"Hard life. It ages you. Military brats age faster than civvies. I have a birthday soon."

"Why's that, the aging thing?" I asked.

"I don't know. We see the world, live in other countries with other cultures, and we have to deal with new stuff all the time. Making friends, trying to fit in, wanting to be liked, it all ages you, dude."

"Tell me about it," Doug said. "Moving is the pits."

"Yeah! It's hard starting over every couple of years, ya know. You've got to know how to do stuff to make friends. Have them like you. When you're crazy it's even harder."

"Yeah! You know all about doing stuff, Herbie." Doug said.

"Shut up, Squirt. You're just a little kid. You don't know shit about shit."

"I know all about you, Herbert."

"Fuck you. You don't know jack."

"Fuck you. Do too. Want to shoot some pool?"

"Sure, just I ain't losin' to you, Squirt" Herbie said, standing up. "Come on. You do shoot pool don't you? Oh yeah, good hands."

Herbie was looking straight at my face when he said it. I fought the blush and looked down at my feet when I stood up.

"Yeah! I've been practicing," I said.

"He's already gone round the world with the king," Doug said.

"I know, and since I don't have any money, I guess we'll have to see who goes around the world tonight," Herbie said. "Only thing these parties are good for."

"Herbie, you are so uncoordinated you might as well give it up right now," Doug said, "your lips are mine."

"Nah! Besides, I like the challenge. I'll beat you yet. Then you'll pay up, boo-boo. I'm getting better."

"Not in your lifetime, Herbert," Doug said. "My lips are safe."

Herbie was at least half a foot taller than Doug was and he wasn't as heavy. They looked like the odd couple as Doug led the way through the back of the living room to a staircase that led down to the back of the recreation room I remembered. I sat nursing my beer as Herbie lost all his clothes down to his underwear in about an hour. Doug lost only his shoes and that was because he sank the eight ball at the wrong time.

Tom and George came down to stand and talk, waiting for a turn at the table I suspected but unable to evict Doug because it was his table. Everyone got a laugh out of Herbie's uncoordinated style. He was a natural comedian and only seemed to be becoming aware of his ability to make people laugh. The amount of booze he had consumed did nothing to improve his shot selection or concentration.

"We'll let those two have a go, Herbie. I don't want to see your skinny ass again," Doug said. "They can get in on your action if you want. It will keep you off the street even if not out of trouble."

"Yeah! Spare us, Herb," Tom said. "We want to play awhile before you wear us all out."

"My ass is fine," Herbie said, dropping his under shorts to his knees so we could judge for ourselves. No one looked but me.

I was already straining in my pants even though Herbie's body wasn't anything to write home about. There was something about being down there where I had my first sexual experience that had me hornier than usual. There was that musk smell that reminded me of Greg and now Herbie was removing the final garment between him and glory. No one paid any attention to his muttering until he tossed his underwear into the air and they came down on the corner of the table. His ass was skinny and his legs and arms were long. He kept his back turned.

While there wasn't much I found attractive about Herbie's body, he was attractive in a strange sexual way, and I found I wasn't the only one that stared once he was naked. His bold behavior got him noticed in ways that you don't think would interest other boys, but the other two elbowed each other and giggled unrestrained.

"You seen it," George said, leaning to whisper in Tommy's ear.

"No. Hear it's long."

"A foot," George said.

"No!"

On cue Herbie turned and he hung well down beyond the range of his smooth dangling nuts. A tiny patch of dark pubes ran over the top and without being particularly neatly arranged, allowing for the full appreciation of his length. It hung there harmless as we all took note of his size.

"Show him how big it gets, Herb," George said. "Let's see that foot long hot dog of yours."

"I don't want to see that," Tommy objected while not looking away. "Boy's deformed if it's as big as you say."

"It's dead," Herbie said apologetically.

"Come on. Just let him see. He don't believe me," George said.

Herbie moved forward three steps until he could sit down on the papers that were piled under the stairs. He ran his hand on the top of the papers and I remembered where Greg had stood while whipping himself up into a lather. Herbie leaned back, closed his eyes, and with a half a dozen strokes it was standing out just like a foot long hot dog.

Herbie stood and walked to the corner of the table, placing his nuts in the pocket, he ran the length of it on the felt. He had no modesty and showed no sign of embarrassment.

"This what you wanted... to see, George."

"Damn," Tommy said. "Fucker's a foot."

"My shot," Herbie said, fondling his cue in sensual strokes that had it swelling even more.

"Damn," Tommy said. "How can you fuck anyone with that."

"I aint had nary a complaint yet."

Doug started to laugh and the attention went from Herbie's endowment to the fifth step leading up toward the hall next to the dinning room where Doug had sat down. The front of George's pants stood out to one side and there was some action in Tommy's as well. They both watched as Herbie fondled himself.

It was then that the door above Doug opened and I heard Greg's voice.

"I've got the next game," he shouted. "You punks make room for the king."

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