Discovering Love

Written by Rick Beck

Chapter 39


The car was almost immediately in motion. He was in a green fatigue uniform and my first impression was that he was young and blond with that high-n-tight haircut, but I didn't look at him except for the instant when I was getting into the car. It was easier not looking at him and the car was in motion as quickly as I was closing the door. The familiar crunch of the shoulder gave way to the simple two-lane round that rounded the back of the base.

My first impression told me that he was harmless. I usually got chills when something wasn't right but I was late and in a hurry and if I did have a chill just then, it passed before it got to my brain. I measured that he wasn't much bigger than me, and probably not much older, but how much can you tell when you're making an effort not to look at someone?

There are lots of ways things can go wrong. You usually picture knives, guns, clubs and nasty, ugly gnomes lurking in the dark or under bridges when you think of trouble, but this was flatland. There were no bridges and trouble comes in many forms, even lovely packages, and in guys who have too much Louisiana hot sauce in their grits. There is no chill or mental alert to warn you off of them, at least not in my case.

I could steel myself against physical attack but I had no protection against desire and people who would use it against me. There in the car there were no chills but a sudden familiarity that set me at ease and left me without protection. What it was I wasn't certain about. He seemed to be not simply harmless but there was something quite comfortable about him. I wanted to look but I didn't dare. I'd follow my original mindset.

"I'm just going to the back gate," I said, looking ahead to where the headlights shinned.

"Me too," he said.

The voice was neutral, nice but not that nice. There was no rich accent to tell me anything about him. It was a youthful voice. I still didn't look at him. He did smell nice. Old Spice I thought. My Grandfather wore Old Spice. It always reminded me of him whenever I smelled it on someone. He was probably getting off from work and going home to the little woman and the crumb snatchers but then I thought not. He was from someplace else going off base for dinner.

"I was going to the bowling alley," he advised as he made the right turn toward the gate.

The properly dressed guard waved us through with a snappy hand gesture. The young soldier waved by lifting his hand from the top of the steering wheel and setting it back down. He had slowed for the come on and now accelerated toward the stop sign at Owens Fairy Road. I had no urge to stop him or to get out under the protection of the U.S. Air Force guard.

"Great to get off that base," he said. "The air's fresher on this side of the gate."

"Yeah, I bet," I said. "You can drop me down at the highway. I just live across on the other side.

"It's cool. I can go that way to get to the bowling alley. I wanted to avoid bowling with another Friday night league glut," he said. "They thin out in another hour or so."

"It's Friday," I said almost as a question, having lost my usually keen sense of time. Over the past few weeks time had lost all meaning to me. Waiting was timeless. I thought about Greg and saw him laying in my mind.

The driver looked at me funny. He really looked familiar now and I could see him trying to place me somewhere he'd been. I knew I'd seen him before too. He still seemed harmless and pleasant enough. He made no bold overtures or did anything threatening.

"Of course it's Friday. Do I know you? Do you bowl? You go to the bowling alley, don't you? I'm sure I've seen you there."

"I was in a hurry to get home so my parents wouldn't bust my balls all evening. My parents won't even be home. They go out Friday nights with friends," I said, sighing with relief when I realized I wouldn't need to get into it again about me never being home.

"Doesn't sound like you're too thrilled about going home. Want to ride around for a while? The bowling alley is jammed Friday nights. I mean if you don't have to be home. I never went home when I was your age. I don't know anyone and I could use the company if you want. The one guy I knew moved to California," he said sadly.

I caught sight of the blond hair and how close it was cut. His lips were thin and his nose was small compared to most noses. His skin was very clear and light. His eyes stayed glued to the road as he sped across to my side of the highway. He was a perfectly lovely soldier boy.

"You're Herbie's friend," I said, remembering a scene on the television in Kent's room when we watched Herbie with a handsome young soldier. What were the odds? "We went bowling once. I was with Kent."

"Oh Yeah, I remember you. Kent was cool. I liked him. He was fun. They were both fun. Now they're a million miles from here."

"When you said California, well, they just moved and that's when I recognized you. I don't usually take rides from strangers. If I'd known it was Friday I wouldn't have gotten in at all."

"Well, good thing I'm not a stranger. You hung around with Kent, huh? He's a nice dude. Don't you think he's nice?" His voice had the kind of excitement that was more familiar than I wanted to hear. I remembered what Kent had said about him while we watched him with Herbie.

"Yeah! I liked him fine. I thought you went over to see Herbie. I mean you were his friend, right?"

"A couple times Kent was there and Herbie wasn't. We got to... talk. We got to know each other. You hear him play. Boy had a gift. Smart too."

"Oh!" I said, looking at him more closely. Kent had said he would if he could, and I guess he did by the sounds of it. There was a feeling of betrayal.

"Were you good friends?" He asked with a leading question that it was impossible to miss. That was twice in one day that someone wanted to know if I was queer for someone.

"As good as you were with Herbie," I said, defensively cutting him off at the pass, or that's what I thought I was doing after the way he insinuated that Kent and I were very good friends or maybe he was just curious. I remember Kent cutting him off at the knees with a similar comment while we bowled.

"I thought I wouldn't be lucky enough to find anyone else like those two," he said, with relief evident in his voice. "How lucky am I, picking you up. I don't usually pick up hitchhikers, too dangerous. I guess I was hoping to find someone like you when I stopped. I mean like them."

"Like me? I'm not like me. I am me."

"You know what I mean. I meant... I wasn't trying to insult you.

We going for that ride?" He asked. "Please!"

"Well, I... uh."

"Don't tell me you and Kent weren't with that?" He said. "What I knew about him says odds are good you were."

"I didn't say I wasn't," I said. "Kent and I were friends. We were very good friends."

"Now I'm sounding too eager. It's just that I'm glad it was you I picked up. You knowing them is awesome. We practically know each other. We're practically friends, you know. It's rough not knowing anyone."

"We don't really know each other," I said, trying to remember the timeline when we first met. "What about all those soldiers you live with?"

"Drunken idiots, I don't take them seriously. They're too loud and too damn mean for me."

"I guess," I said.

"The first night I stayed over with Herbie you stayed over with Kent. Herbie said you were cool. We were drinking and I was paranoid about doing stuff back then. Hard to believe, huh?" He said, looking at me and seeming nervous.

He held the wheel with both hands. He had this strange look of desperation on his face, like he knew what he wanted to say but everything came out all wrong. He wanted to shut up but he was afraid that if he did I'd ask to go home. I felt bad for him.

We'd both had the misfortune to fall for guys that were too quickly gone from our lives.

"I think I remember that," I said. "I was just getting to know Kent then," I said, picturing Herbie behind him while he gave him what for.

"Lucky you. That boy had a hummer on him, didn't he? Never seen one big as him, have you? Suck his own. Can you beat that? Him and Herbie both could. What are the odds? Never knew anyone before and both of them could. That Herbie was something. Never met anyone had it going on as much as he did. I did stuff I never thought of doing. He knew shit all right."

"Yeah, they did," I agreed.

"They were fun," he mused. "Way more than anyone else I've known. I mean there was this guy who sucked us off in high school. That was cool, but that was all. I never thought of doing it myself. It was just something to do then. I liked it a lot but that was all. We never did anything but that."

"Oh, you did do something before you met them," I said, making small talk.

"You been with Herbie too? I mean you like him too? He could get me hard just thinking about what he could do. I mean I thought about that stuff a lot more once I met him. I couldn't wait to get off base in those days? His was big too. Mostly his was long though. They were something. Sorry to see them go. Especially Herbie. Kent was too cool."

"Yeah, he was," I said, remembering how cool he was.

"I only went with him a few times. I went over once and he said he was seeing someone and we couldn't.... He said I'd need to come back when Herbie was home. Bummer, huh? I was glad though. Glad he found someone special."

"Yeah, that would be nice," I said, suddenly feeling warm and remembering Kent more clearly.

"You were the only guy I saw him with. Did you know he was seeing someone special? Did you guys fool around and stuff?"

"Yeah," I said after being lulled into his way of thinking. "Oh yeah, I knew he was seeing someone."

He heard the words and then looked at me. He was partially smiling and partially investigating me. Then a most curious smile took over his face and he was glowing like he'd made this incredible connection and it was a good connection.

"It was you! You were his boyfriend I bet. I'm stupid aren't I? Back home none of this stuff went on. I got a girlfriend, you know, back there I mean. I don't know no one here."

"Well, you do know me," I corrected in an effort to fill the void for him.

"Boys are boys back at home, except for that guy in high school who blew us, and everyone knew about him. You just went there to get your rocks off. He was some chubby and way-shy but once you got with him he knew how to get the most out of you, I can tell you that for sure. It was all there was then."

"Your girlfriend?"

"Oh, jeez, she was so pure she didn't leave a ring in the bath tub. We did it a couple of times but it was always hurried and she complained about being a nice girl. She blew me once but I knew Darrell, the chubby kid, knew a lot more about that subject than she did."

"Sounds painful," I said.

"Believe me, it was. Me and my best buddy got laid by a girl who wanted a quart of gin the night before we left. She was the sister of an old girlfriend of his and we only had the car but it was cool enough. He went to San Antonio and I came here. He was a ladies man and always knew where to get some."

"You have been around," I said, not meaning it.

"Then I met Herbie. I had been here six months. Yeah, I was really lonely and all with no one I knew around. Away from home, thinking about my girl, but the stuff he showed me, wow, no girl ever took me where he did. No girl could. Never figured on that when I joined up. No sir, never figured dudes were all that good for much. I never was. Herbie taught me better."

"I bet," I said. "He did know how to give people what they wanted."

"You think it was what I wanted or what he wanted from me? I always figured it was him that wanted it."

"Who was it kept coming back?" I asked, breaking into his roll. "Herbie had plenty of guys to do it with. He didn't have to get anyone to do anything."

"You can say that again. Why do you think that is? Cause he had such a long one? Man he did? Us midgets don't usually get to hold big ones. That puppy was awesome. First one I ever felt. Maybe he was just nice, you know. I guess that was it. It felt nice being with him. Like I was someone special and he really liked me. That was nice."

"I'm sure you were special to him. You're an attractive guy."

"Listen to me running off at the mouth. You'd think I was a sex fiend or somthin'. It's just that I never get to talk about it or to do anything now that he's gone. I just told you my entire sex life. Didn't take long, huh? I bet you've already been around a lot more than me."

He talked so fast I couldn't answer many of the questions, which was just as well; there weren't any answers I wanted to give him. Even though he talked a hundred miles a second, he had more than talking on his mind. There was no doubt he was happy to meet someone he thought was simpatico. What he didn't talk about was what he had in mind for me or how horny he was.

It was obvious by the words he used and how fast he used them that he was positioning himself for more than answers to meaningless questions. I mean he was harmless. I knew he was harmless. I could go along or get him to take me home according to what I wanted to do, but I felt sorry for the guy. He not only looked desperate to make a connection, he was. It was written all over his face, the longing, the need, the desire, and he didn't know how to get to the punch line.

He was green as new spring grass even if I had seen Herbie fucking him. The only thing he knew for sure about that was that he liked it. Should I go along with his desperation and add to it or should I send him back to where he came from to have a life that didn't include diddling other guys? It would have been the kindest thing I could do for a kid who had gotten so far from anything he knew that he no longer knew how to get back or if he even wanted to go back.

Herbie might have just been giving all those people what they were after but there were some people that it would have been better for if they didn't find out what it was they learned from him. Herbie was an uninhibited arbiter of the body wonderful. He had found all his own bodies secrets while under his brother's bed and in it, then he went forth to spread the knowledge he'd discovered. I wasn't sure everyone was equipped to deal with his philosophy of sharing. How do you ever go back from bliss to moderation and restraint?

I wasn't sure some people could, but then again, who was I too tell people what they should and should not do. Who was I to tell people that I knew everything and they should listen to my wisdom? Of course, I knew little and only watched and tried to make sense of it myself. What I saw now was the quiet desperation of a boy who was hoping above hope that I was going to take him out of his misery and to a place he badly needed to go. If not for Herbie he'd be back in his barracks ready to go to a movie and drinking with his buds.

So is the teacher then the villain when the lesson you learn is too good?

He started to glance at me as he talked. He smiled and paid less attention to the road and more attention to his passenger. It made me feel odd. It made me erect.

"You don't know how good it is to meet someone that I can really talk to," he said, and I was still trying to catch up to where he was. "I mean just talking about it helps a lot. You don't know what it's like being alone so far from home." He had finally slowed down and confessed. "Herbie gave me someone to hold onto. I knew it's not the regular way a guy does it, but it's better than this."

Yeah it was nice being with someone who you know is friendly to you even though you're queer, I thought. It was nice not pretending to be someone I wasn't. In fact it gave me a thrill and made my hard dick throb while listening to him run on about what was most on his mind. He tried to wrap it around words that made him feel about what he'd done, but I knew what he meant and I knew where he was hoping it would lead him and me.

I guess I pretended all my life for most people most of the time if you get real about it. I pretended so much that I wasn't sure who I was half the time. I had to think about it to know just what I felt and just what I believed. I don't think about it, I mean really think about it.

Him telling me what he knew about me made it unnecessary for pretense. I wouldn't pretend I was an offended nice boy who would never consider getting down with another nice boy like him, when he finally asked. We both knew the truth about one another. It is strangely liberating even when you are determined not to do it and I was determined. I wouldn't get started with anyone else. Not now.

I hadn't given a thought to Kent since the night we found out about Greg's accident. I guess that was some indication about how deep my feelings ran. Perhaps that's unfair to me. I did love Greg dearly and hearing that his life was hanging in the balance made my life irrelevant and therefore my feelings for Kent were relegated to a secondary role. Maybe it was for the best because I would have been pining over him for the next six months had Greg not taken center stage in my life once again. Even though I knew I couldn't have him, I also knew I would always love him.

I wondered about California as we drove. I knew Kent liked me no matter what he did with this guy or any other. He couldn't say no, not when it came to sex with a handsome boy anyway. He needed sex and if the guy came over and was ready to rock and roll, Kent would have danced with him as long as he wanted, not because he didn't like me enough, but because he liked sex too much. I knew who Kent was. I liked him because he was who he was, not because he felt he needed to pretend he was someone else.

What happened to boys that liked sex too much? I wasn't clear on that. I heard all the bad things that were said about us by the right and the righteous, but who were they to decide what I should like? They could like what they liked, why couldn't I? Why didn't I get the same right to experience life on my terms? Why did they insist I had to experience life on their terms or not at all? Were they fearful someone was getting more out of life then they were, or were they just control freaks who couldn't stand the idea of someone doing it different than they wanted it done?

I was conflicted about what I liked and who I liked, but I didn't have any desire to hurt anyone or to make them like what I liked. I got into the car wanting a ride home and instead I was confronted by a lonely boy who only wanted to belong somewhere. Perhaps my receptiveness wasn't the best thing for him but how was he supposed to stay sane if there was no one receptive to him? I wasn't going to go beyond my original plan but being nice to him wasn't hurting anyone. I wouldn't let it confuse things any more than I already did that for myself.

I finally did like my life. For the first fifteen years I detested living. I made up my mind I was going to enjoy it as much as possible no matter how loudly they yelled their insults at me. No matter how bad people said I was for liking sex, I knew, in my heart, I wasn't bad. I never tried to hurt anyone and to me that was the difference between good and evil. They seemed to want to hurt anyone that didn't conform. Our whole damn society seemed hell bent on destroying everything that didn't conform.

Sex was one of the few things that made me feel alive. It made me want to stay alive. Before I met Greg I didn't feel alive. I didn't want to be alive. So if sex was what did it, fuck them and the horse they rode in on. They could do it their way and I would do it mine. They could say what they wanted but I didn't need to comment on what they liked. It seemed simple enough but there didn't seem to be any alternative once you faced up to what you were.

I was trying to face up to it and make the best of it and that would only come by knowing the truth about me and people like me. Kent and Herbie were good people. Their desires didn't make them anything other than that. No one would ever make me believe that the enjoyment they got out of life was evil. If it was evil then evil I was and evil I'd stay. Loving and comforting one another was all there was and once that was gone, there wasn't anything worth keeping.

"Don't you think so?" he said breaking through into my thought process for a second or two.

My mind ran as fast as his mouth but there was one distinct difference, he had no idea what I was thinking. I figured we were both lucky for that. If he had a clue how disdainful I was toward those that would do us harm for our feelings, he'd probably think I was out of my gourd because that's the way the world was.

I must admit my brain did hurt when I tried putting everything together before doing something I regretted. I did worry I could hurting someone and it was the last thing I'd do. The only way I knew to prevent it was to review what I knew and felt before jumping into anything new or uncertain.

Maybe if I simply drank it would seem better to me and then I wouldn't need to justify what I thought I might do.

These questions haunted me at exactly the wrong time, but I thought it was one question if you tied it all up in a pretty bow. Did I have a right to my happiness in spite of those who said I didn't? Maybe I was out of my gourd or at least nuts about being labeled by people who seemed more interested in power and greed then in anyone's wellbeing.

"What?" I said, knowing something he said required an answer and that was the best I could do.

He looked at me with this weird look on his face, like he was thinking real hard about something. Then he busted out laughing, like there was this inside joke he just got. He got me laughing and feeling a little more comfortable with my thoughts and maybe my appearance, which couldn't have been good after ten hours in a hospital.

"You know, I don't know what," he said being honestly. "Listen to me talk. It's just that I don't get to say this stuff. Meeting you makes me want to talk about it. How much I miss those two guys."

"I miss them too."

"I guess since you're used to this stuff, it must seem silly, this country boy getting so excited over two guys, huh? They'd skin me back home they knew what I did."

"I bet," I said.

"I didn't mean to sound like a hick or anything. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I like someone that says what's on their mind," I said, still trying to reassure him.

"I'm not usually this forward and I don't talk a lot, really, I don't. You bring it out of me. It's just I haven't done it since they left. You don't know how it eats at you when you want to do it and you can't do it. I'm going to shut up now before I say something real stupid. Could you stay with me just a few minutes more?"

"Sure! It's not like my parents are home."

"You're that young. I guess you are. I was never home when I was your age."

"It's easier when I don't piss them off. I'll be gone next year."

"Do you know somewhere we can go?" He asked without missing a beat and even when I didn't say much what I did say seemed to get me deeper into his desire. "I want to look at you while we talk. I like looking at you. You're nice."

"I don't usually have access to a car," I said. "I shouldn't get too far."

"We'll find a place. If you know want I mean," he said, but I could see in his eyes how wounded he'd be if I rejected him just when he was thinking....

He'd made up his mind I was the answer to the loneliness and desire that ran rampant inside him. I could really hurt him bad if I didn't deal carefully with his hopes. It wouldn't be easy telling him how nice he thought he was while telling him no, my life wouldn't tolerate any more wounds of my own.

How did I get myself into this crap? I knew better than to get into strange cars. I understood better that the only danger wasn't violence. Now I knew of no way to get out. I was obligated to this lost and lonely boy. He'd been pulled out of the only home he ever knew and was now a drift in a sea of opportunities for his youthful desires. I thought the military should be forced to supply pretty young girls to hold the boys hands and keep them company so they could never get loose in a world that no one prepared them for.

He didn't need to find more guys to encourage him to continue down this road. He needed to go home to be with his girlfriend, to marry her, to have a family, and forget what he learned here, but who was I to tell him what to do? I was the last person to advise him not to like it too much. I was the temptation he was struggling with. He wanted me because there wasn't anybody else. It wasn't a reassuring thought but it was better than thinking we might make beautiful music if I only opened my ears to his melody.

My mind was working so fast I never noticed him getting his cock out of his pants. It arched up and touched his shinny gold belt buckle, leaving a sheen I could see when we passed under a light. He was quick but didn't touch or draw attention to himself. Perhaps it was hurting him, being trapped in his pants while longing for exposure.

It was rather smooth until up near the head where it was wrinkly and I knew he had the skin when he was less determined. A clear drop slid onto the gold buckle as the head moved to the tune of the road. He didn't look at me looking at it, but he knew I was. That's why it was there. He wasn't so naïve to ever take no for the final answer. This was his trump and he played it to overcome any objections to his charm that I might be entertaining. I could see the blond hair cascading out around the base and his hands stayed up on the wheel, his arms elevated high so I could get the full Monty.

This clean neat boy played dirty pool. My mouth was dry and while there was nothing irresistible about his modest display, it was lovely like him. It and him were squeaky clean, freshly showered and bathed in Old Spice. He had left the barracks with the idea in his mind, "This will be the night."

The streetlights gave me a fine view and I made the best of it. I didn't know where he was taking me and I was no longer sure I cared. He was seriously aroused and his hand slid up under my knee as I checked it out yet again under the very next light.

He didn't look at me and he didn't talk. We rode past the closed shops and down onto Old Highway before turning down one of the darker streets.

"You can touch it," he said weakly and in a whisper.

"It's not what I meant to happen," I said, touching it as I eased closer to him.

The heat was torrid and he lifted up against my fingers while looking down at my hand. I pulled down until it was smooth all the way around. His hips forced it at my stiff fist. He put his hand high on my thigh but didn't reach for mine. He was very intent on what I was doing to him and I could hear the breathing that gave away the degree of the excitement. He was close. He was very close and I didn't do any more.

It was at the end of the street we were on when he pulled to the curb and leaned toward me, fumbling with my zipper, reaching in for the item that would give us the ultimate connection. There were no streetlights and it was almost pitch black. He sobbed lightly while holding my hand tight on his cock. His hips made tentative stabs at my hand as though his heart wasn't in it, and the sob became short moans as he got his face on my open pants and started to shower kisses on my hard dick as he panted on it.

"Oh, shit!" He moaned, and he was suddenly struggling to breathe and to stop and to start all at the same instant. I could hear the groan rising out of his chest and my hand figured out the rest when streams of hot fluid pulsed out of his twitching cock. I never did anything, simply held the source of his unfulfilled love. His face rested on the front of my pants and his mouth was half way down on me as he jerked and twitched from the power of his orgasm. He had just about filled my palm by the time he stopped.

"Shit!" he said, spitting me out and gasping for air. "I'm sorry.

I'm really sorry. I haven't done anything. Oh man that was hot."

"It's okay. You needed to cum is all. You can only go without for so long," I reassured him as best I could.

"I just couldn't hold it back. I did the same thing with Herbie the first time. I did the same thing with my girlfriend the first time come to think of it. That was only last year, you know. I'm not too experienced."

"I wouldn't believe that. You're as experienced as anyone."

"I'll hold off longer next time," he said, resting his head back in my lap.

"SHHH! SHHH!" I said, wanting him to shut the fuck up. I couldn't take another round of constant chatter. My brain hurt from him talking so much and me thinking about it all.

I held his face and stroked his hair. He lay face down in my lap making no more attempts to suck me but leaving his face against it. That was a relief. I wasn't sure this qualified as doing it but I wasn't going to worry about it. He was satisfied and I hadn't done much to get him there.

I was glad it ended before he got me involved. I didn't need to be involved any more than I was already involved. I wanted some time off from the lust and the desire. Him getting relief didn't seem to distort my intentions that much. I felt pretty good about it and there were no commitments for more.

Holding him was very nice. He made no effort to escape my touch. It was suddenly as quiet as it ever got in my life. He was a nice guy. His skin and hair were so soft it was really pleasant being there with him. I could hear him breathing but he said nothing. He did put his arms around my waist and hugged his face to me. I wondered if he shaved because his face was so soft. I wasn't sure he hadn't fallen asleep he was so quiet for so long. Then he sat up and started to take off his pants.

"What are you doing," I said, remembering the cum that was still on my hand.

"Herbie likes to fuck me after I shoot my load."

"I'm not Herbie. I'm fine."

"Okay," he said, pulling his pants back up. "Are you sure? He says I'm tight. You can if you want. I don't mind."

"Yes, I'm sure." I said. "I want to remember how sweet this was."

"What do you want to do then?"

"I've got to get home before I get myself into any more trouble. That would be best."

"I thought your parents aren't home?"

"They aren't but I've got to beat them home so they don't know I've been out all this time."

"You're mad at me for getting off so fast?"

"No! It was great. You were great. Never think you aren't perfect. You are."

"Really! I like getting fucked. You sure you don't want to. I don't mind. How long would it take us?"

"If you do it right, all night. We don't quite have that long."

"All night?" He said alarmed. "I don't know if I could let one up there that long."

I directed him to my house and he pulled up into my driveway.

There was no one home. I was very relieved.

"Can I see you again?" He asked. "I'll jack off ahead of time so I last. I should have done that tonight but I didn't know I'd meet someone like you."

"I stay pretty busy," I said, still trying to leave myself an out.

"We can just go out. Maybe go bowling or something. I could take you to a movie. We'll keep our clothes on the next time. I don't know anyone."

"If I give you my number you can't be calling all the time. Things are complicated enough without some boy calling me all the time."

"Boys don't call you all the time already? I bet!"

"No boys calling since Kent left."

"I'll just call to see if I can pick you up some time is all."

"I don't know," I said.

"I don't know anyone else," he said, fishing for sympathy again.

"I guess, do you have a pencil? Don't you dare keep calling me."

"Sure, wait a minute. There's got to be one here somewhere," he said, popping open the glove compartment and the contents all tumbled onto the floor. "I just stuff stuff in there. Here it is."

I wrote down my name and number and handed him the paper. He analyzed it in the too little light from the lamp in front of the house. I backed out of his car and closed the door. He seemed reluctant to leave and he stared at me.

"Martin?" He said, using my name for the first time.

I knew he didn't remember it. Why would he? He didn't even remember me at first when he was spending time with Herbie and Kent. I was small potatoes compared to them.

"Yeah," I said, looking back in and wondering what he wanted now.

"My name is Ted," he said. "Thanks for everything you did. You don't know how good I feel right now."

"Yeah, Ted. I enjoyed myself," I said and he backed out of the driveway.

It was the thing that always through me about my feelings and the things I did. We'd gone off together and not much happened but it was not because he wasn't dying for a lot to happen. He was just a little quick on the trigger and that's all that kept it from escalating, and I never remembered his name or bothered to ask and I hadn't cared about his name until he gave it to me.

I could have gone through the rest of my life without ever knowing who he was. How bogus was that? How could things escalate that fast and we didn't know anything about each other? Of course he wasn't about to let me go through the rest of my life without hearing from him, but I knew when I gave him the number that as soon as he got to a phone he would call me. It's one of those odd feelings you get about someone.

The house was quiet and I went about searching the fridge for something quick, easy, and delightfully fulfilling. I settled for some old stew and what was left of the Ritz Crackers I hadn't gotten around to polishing off yet. Just about the time the stew was starting to bubble, the phone rang. I smiled.


"It's me, Ted. I just wanted to say how nice it was...."

"Ted, I'm right in the middle of dinner."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I just wanted to thank you again. You don't know how lonely I've been for someone that could understand what I feel. Even if we don't go out again, it was great."

"That's cool, Ted," I said with a little sympathy. "We'll go for a Coke later on. You keep in touch."

I hoped that was it for the night. Ted was sweet but I wouldn't be any good for him. I'd be nice to him and leave it at that. I dumped the food onto my plate and sat thinking about my day.

I was so tired I could hardly sit up and if I wanted a ride to the hospital I'd need to be at Greg's house before seven. I yawned and stuffed food in my mouth while it was conveniently open. I leaned on my elbows and thought about getting to bed before my parents got home.

The phone rang and I cringed. Fuck! What have done?

"Ted, please don't call anymore tonight," I said abruptly. "I'm going to bed."

"It's George," a confused voice said.

"George who?" I asked, running through my memory banks in a hurry.

"George, Greg's friend. We met up his house. You slept with me one night a ways back. Doug gave me your number."

"Oh, George! Hello," I said, yawning again, "Haven't seen you in awhile."

"I've been away. I'm in the military and I want to see you while I'm home if it's okay. I've thought a lot about you and I want to talk about it."

"George!" I said, about to tell him to get off my phone, but of course I didn't. "Hey, dude, I'm beat. I've had a long day. I'm over at the base every day. Why don't we meet over there tomorrow? Hospital cafeteria, say, at noon?"

...And so it was. I hadn't thought much about George since that night when I explored his drunken body. There had been way too much going on to think of people that weren't around any longer.

I knew I liked him and I was certainly attracted to him but this wasn't the time. We'd meet and have a Coke and make small talk and I wouldn't be getting into any cars with him.

It was a good plan but good plans didn't always go as expected.

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