Age of Discovering

by Rick Beck

Chapter 11

Afoot in the Glen

We drove on.

I liked having Glenn beside me. I wasn't sure where we were. I'd never driven this far south of my house before. I wasn't sure where we were going to end up.

I pictured Glenn's encounters with the German boys. I imagined at least one of those boys felt what it was I felt for him. Having him naked, able to touch him, feeling his body next to mine, responding to me, made me think there was a reason he told me his story.

Maybe I wasn't alone in my desire to get naked with Glenn.

Maybe I was imagining how I'd like it to be.

Glenn was quiet. Once more he watched the road ahead. I felt his eyes on me. I looked and he smiled, turning back to the road. I smiled and thought I might want to watch the road too.

"Did gymnastics interfere with playing the violin?"

"I missed lessons when we had competition. Those were all day affairs. I knew the dates ahead of time to tell Herr Gorman," he said.

Fritz, Freddy, and Lang interfered more than gymnastics. We were always going off somewhere. I knew I had a lesson, but I was having a good time with my friends. I played hooky," he said. "It was the first time I'd had friends to run with. I was young. I knew I had to work harder to master the violin, but having fun was more fun. I had the rest of my life to learn the violin. Herr Gorman knew he'd get the same check at the end of the month whether I showed up or not."

"That makes sense. I'd probably do the same thing if I had the chance. I know what it's like not having any good friends."

"Eddie thinks you're the cats meow. You have your own band. In Eddie's words, 'How cool is that.'"

"I didn't know he felt that way," I said. "We were only close the two years I took dance classes with him. We live two blocks from each other and I've never been in his house, or him in mine."

"You've been in my house, little boy," he said with a grin.

For a few minutes I was quiet. I wondered if he was thinking about his friends.

I never felt as alive as when he smiled at me. I remembered a song my parents played on an old record player when I was young.

'I'd walk a million miles for one of your smiles.'

I believed I would.

I didn't know how soon I'd be walking without a smile.

"I'd like to know everything about you," I said. "There is far more to you than you let on," I said.

I wanted him to feel like he could trust me. I was taking a risk. I had so little to offer, but I wanted him to know I cared.

"The only time I was popular was in Germany," he said, sounding like he'd been thinking about that. "My growth, maturing, became a curiosity to other boys. Being the center of attention excited me in the way they wanted. It stirred feelings inside of me. Having boys at the arcade touching me made me want more. I know that sounds funny, but I equated it with them liking me. I didn't feel like I was alone."

"I can see where it might excite you," I said. "Did you always go with Hermie? To the arcade I mean."

"It was a regular stop for him while we were running around together on Saturdays. Hermie had me meet him there on Saturdays. He knew how to get me going. Fritz liked going to the arcade. He was aware of the sexual undercurrent at the arcade. One day when I met Hermie there, Fritz was with him. It's how we met. I didn't go there alone. When I showed up, boys began to whisper to each other."

"You have any pictures?" I asked.

"Only in my head. Hermie wasn't a guy you forget. Having him notice me was good for my ego. I didn't think Germany was going to be any different from the half dozen other places I'd lived. I wanted to be liked. It's not like I thought up the idea of showing other boys my dick. They were German. I just got there. I figured this is what you did there. Hermie wasted no time showing me off."

"Even if I was encouraged, I wouldn't have enough courage to let other boys handle my penis," I said. "I can see where it might be enticing if the boy I was with encouraged me."

"You might be surprised how seductive it is having other boys encouraging you to show off. I wanted to be like and I didn't have good sense back then," he said. "I liked the attention. I was Hermie's trophy American."

"Back then?" I asked.

"Denying your reality isn't a good plan," Glenn said. "I'm a pervert and I hope I always am. It's fun to get the most out of what you have, who you are. Other people can be the way they like. I don't object. Just leave me alone to live my life the way that suits me, even when I act a little crazy."

"When you have feelings, and you're told not to have those particular feelings, what do you do? Who do you trust to tell you the truth about who and what you are?" I asked.

"Your truth belongs to you. You get to like what you like, Gordon. The people telling you different, people who want to tell you how to live, are hypocrites at best and dangerous at worse."

"I do know what I like, Glenn. I just don't tell any one," I said.

"You can tell me, little boy," Glenn said with a wolfish grin.

"You've got a pretty nice body," I said. "I can't imagine being on a team where all the boys had builds like yours. My mind would not be on gymnastics."

He laughed.

"I haven't been on the gymnastics team for over two years," he said. "I kept that muscular look without working at it. It takes a lot of energy to be me," he said with a smile.

"I don't know I am active enough to keep the weight off once I stop growing," I said. "They say sex burns a lot of calories."

"Yes, they do," Glenn said. "I don't want you to think I'm just a sex fiend. I did other thins in Germany. After breaking my arm, my social life was never the same. That's over two years ago."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Athletes don't want to see what can happen if you screw up. I tried to hang around. The coaches said I needed to rehab at home. They knew I wasn't making a comeback and their gymnasts felt ill at ease being around me."

"You had fun with them. They all fussed over you," I said.

"They made me do it. They didn't make me like it. I did know the difference between me and them. Those boys liked it because it was fun. I was fun because I'd do anything they did. They didn't need to do it the way I did. As long as I was the center of attention, they played along. Once I could no longer play the game, they continued doing what they did before I got there."

"It was that easy for them?" I asked.

"I don't know how easy it was. We were from different worlds. I was a freak of nature they liked fooling around with. In the end, I went back to my world, as they knew I eventually would."

"So you had friends and then you didn't," I said.

"That's one way to put it. I thought I'd heal and return to the gymnastics team, but I wouldn't. By the time I realized that wasn't true, Pop's tour of duty in Germany was coming to an end, and here I am," he said, throwing his arms out with a smile.

"Yes you are," I said, smiling back at him.

It had gotten hot inside the car.

I was made warmer by thoughts of Glenn wrestling me while we were both naked. I'd have settled for wrestling with only him naked. I might last longer that way.

My mind was full of lecherous thoughts about Glenn. He seemed relaxed.

I sensed he might like me. He kept glancing my way.

"You have enough to keep your hand busy tonight?" he asked. "Too much detail at one time isn't good for you."

"I don't mind telling you, it must have been hot doing it, because it sure is hot listening to you describe it."

"I did pay attention when I was with my friends. I didn't want to miss anything," he said.

"I'll bet," I said. "They were the only ones you fooled around with?" I asked.

"Yes! They were enough to wear me out. Those were good times," he said, giving me that devilish grin.

The farm houses were almost all built out of sight of the road. It would have been easy to think no one lived along the country thoroughfare. Some fields had freshly turned soil and was ready for planting. You could smell the fresh earth. Other fields remained fallow by plan or neglect. It was hard to know which.

Spring had sprung. The final frost had come and gone. It might dip into the upper thirties at night but most days reached the sixties.

I wanted Glenn to know how he made me feel. I was afraid I'd run him off if I did. I'd never been close to someone who stirred my emotions the way he did. I wasn't sure I would be able to keep my feelings under control.

We drove a few minutes in silence. My mind raced from one way to get Glenn's attention to another. I didn't know how to keep our relationship moving toward the romance I imagined.

"Did you hear that?" he asked, turning his head to look at me.

"That? What that?" I asked, feeling the gas pedal lose all its gusto with no warning.

"Don't push it all the way down. Just use a little pedal to see if it won't pick up what's left of the gas," he suggested.


"Where's the nearest gas station, Gordo?"


"Don't tell me you planned the oldest gag in the books," he said with a smirk. "This is the kind of trick I'd pull."

I'm certain there was a look of panic on my face.

We looked at each other as the car slowed precipitously.

"I don't know. I'm running out of gas?" I said, looking down at my blinking gas gauge. "Shit! I'm running out of gas. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!"

I knew I was forgetting something when we left the house. I was so busy being with Glenn, I'd forgotten I was low on gas. I hadn't seen a gas station in the last half hour. Of course I hadn't, we were in the middle of nowhere.

I felt very foolish as we coasted along.

"Take it easy with the gas pedal" he said again. "You'll stall it if you keep… never mind."

The engine was silent and we were coasting slower and slower.

I knew who to blame. If I wasn't with Glenn, I'd have checked my gauges. He was a total distraction.

"You think I don't try to run the last drop out of my parents car when they let me use it? I'm not going to put gas in it when I don't need to. Sometimes I don't quite make it home. I know when a car is running out of gas, Gordo, and yours just did."

"Oh," I said. "News flash!"

We coasted onto the shoulder of the road. I wanted to scream but then again, I didn't want to appear childish. Where was my brain?

"How far to a gas station?" Glenn asked.

"I don't know," I said. "I've never been this far south before. Maybe five miles. Maybe more. I don't know."

"Well, then, I'll be happy to sit here and wait while you figure out if it is closer to keep going in that direction or if we should go back the way we came."

"The way we came. That's twenty miles to the last gas station," I explained, remembering where I'd seen the last station..

"OK Then, we've established it's twenty miles if we walk that way. How far if we walk the way we've been going? I haven't seen anything but farm fields for the last half hour."

"It can't be twenty miles," I said. "Do you think?"

"You're absolutely positively certain it isn't as far going straight ahead as it is going back the way we came?"

"Well, when you put it that way, Not absolutely positively sure. I don't know. It's a guess how far ahead a station might be. How late would one stay open on Saturday afternoon?"

"And me just beginning to think I like you. I am not amused, Gordo. I never walk if I can ride. Apparently I can't ride any farther."

He stared at me. It wasn't a good stare.

"If I wanted to walk I'd ask to use my parents car and run that out of gas."

"That doesn't make any sense," I said.

"You just ran out of gas. Does that make better sense?"

"I'm sorry," I said.

"If I had twenty… or more miles to walk, I'd be sorry too. I'll guard the car. You go get the gas. Now, before you start walking. I've got one question. Do you have any money?"

"Three bucks and some change," I said, looking at the two quarters, nickel, dime, and two pennies in my palm.

"We've been driving well over an hour. This heap probably gets 20 miles per gallon. I got four dollars for emergency candy bars. They'll want a deposit on the can. Maybe twenty dollars. Maybe more. I'll go with you and if they want ransom for the gas can, I'll leave them you. You got to be worth ten bucks at least."

"Glenn, you aren't funny."

"I'm not laughing, Gordon. You got my ass out here and before you got to the line about put out or get out, we ran out of gas. I'd call that poor planning on your part. Do you have your walking shoes on?"

"Good as any. Walking is walking," I said.

"I can think of better things to do," he said. "I was in the mood for better things."

"You stay here. I'll go for gas."

We stared at each other and his stare was a bit more intense than mine.

What a way to impress a prospective boyfriend.

"I'm sorry, Glenn. I forgot to look at the gas gauge."

"Oh, you didn't do this on purpose. Now I feel better," he said, not sounding like he felt better.

Glenn wanted to go riding around. Wanting to do anything to please a boy I was gaga over, I took him for a ride and we ran out of gas without me taking one look at the gas gauge.

Not a mistake I made before, because I'm usually paying attention to what I'm doing. With Glenn around, he got all my attention, and so we were on foot somewhere an hour south of where we lived.

I cursed my self each step I took. We tossed for it and going back the way we came won out over the mystery of what might be ahead. Glenn walked backwards, facing me as we moved on the edge of the quiet country road.

"You want to hitchhike?" Glenn asked, smiling at me. "No one can pass me by when I hitchhike."

"Doesn't that require some cars coming by from time to time?"

"Not if you do it right," he assured me.

"You're going to trip and fall," I said, made nervous by how easily he made walking backward look.

This wasn't going to end well.

"Good. Maybe I'll break my neck. End it all right here. Why did I want to go out with you? I knew you were going to be difficult. Now we're out in the middle of nowhere and out of gas. If there's anything I dislike more than not being able to get away from the house, it's walking to where I'm going when I do. We really aren't going anywhere, are we? We're going back the way we came, Gordo. Walking backward is a fitting way to go back the way we came. Don't you think?"

"No, and I do my best to accept something I can do nothing about. Blaming each other isn't going to get us gas any faster. I made a mistake, Glenn. I'm sorry. If I wasn't busy trying to look at you, I might have thought to look at the gas gauge."

"Oh, it's my fault. How do I ever make up for being so lame?"

The idea of it made me smile.

"You'd like me to walk naked over hill and dale maybe? I bet that's a distraction you could get your teeth into?"

I smiled.

"Don't dare me to do something. I'll do anything. Did I tell you I'm crazy," Glenn said.

I laughed.

"Do I feel a challenge coming my way, Gordo?"

"Let's save it for when we're in the car. I'll keep the offer in mind," I said. "We might not get arrested if you are riding naked."

"It wasn't an offer. It was a threat."

"One man's threat is another man's offer," I said.

I imagined him walking backward without the benefit of clothing. I wondered if that included his shoes and socks. I pictured Glenn in the showers at school. It made me smile and then I stumbled.

Glenn shook his head in amazement.

"I walk better backward than you walk forward," he said.

We walked on as the road unfolded in front of us.

"We got to you coming home and Pascuel explaining music to you."

"I didn't come home. There is no home. There's only the next place I'll be," he explained.

"You're seventeen, closing in on eighteen if I calculate properly. You won't have to go where your parents go if you don't want to," I said.

"Who'd feed me if I ditched my parents?" he asked.

"Usually kids leave home and get jobs to support themselves after they finish school. You'll get a job."

"That's the benefit of playing a musical instrument. You never finish learning," he said. "Pasquel said I was mad. I think he was onto something."

"I don't see it. Immature maybe. Self indulgent, definitely, but you're crazy like a fox. You know what you're doing and when you want something, you know how to get it."

"He said that the way I played the violin made him consider I was a genius, but only as far as the violin was concerned, which to him meant I was probably a little bit mad."

"That may well be true. We may all be mad in one sense or another," I said. "Some of us never find out because our particular madness is programmed out of us early on. We're so busy following instructions, we miss out on our best features. We're taught to go through life by the numbers," I said. "How many great masters do you know that painted by the numbers? Or did anything according to how someone else told them to do it?"

"That's an astute observation. You think that up by your self?"

"Only after I met you and heard you play the violin. Up until then I thought you were an oddball, but even an oddball needs loving."

"Pasquel called me, 'Deliciously mad," Glenn said in a calmer voice. "That's different than being mad mad, don't you think?"

"Absolutely," I said.

"I like the idea of being delicious. Do you?" Glenn asked.

"Absolutely," I said.

He smiled my way.

"I won't change anything then," he said.

"Was he gay? A lot of musicians are gay."

Glenn was staring at me again.

"No, he was Spanish. From Barcelona, I think. How would I know if he's gay? He fought a bull when he was a kid. Decided to take up music. His older brother was a bull fighter. That's something like playing for the NFL here. Bull fighters are revered in Spain. Not by the bulls though."

"You'd make a good bull fighter," I said.

"How's that?" he asked.

"You're full of it," I said.

"Too bad we can't convert it into fuel. I hear cow patties make excellent fuel."

"What did he mean by delicious madness?" I asked, as he moved backward as easily as I walked forward.

"Back when I first played with Hermie, something happened. My admiration for him, his influence over other boys, his influence on me, it brought something out of me I wouldn't have known about otherwise. It went beyond who I was and what I knew about the violin. Hermie was the catalyst for what my art was becoming," he said with passion. "Pasquel called what I did delicious madness. It fit with my being crazy. He knew the violin. He had no desire to change what I was doing, so he taught me about music."

"See!" I said. "You even think it's a spiritual journey. You've just taken the first steps. Your genius is an infant. You are destined, Glenn. It doesn't matter how your destiny emerged, it did emerge."

"You think that's what was happening?" he asked.

"I do," I said. "From the time you reached for that violin, your destiny was set into motion."

"You say it in a way that I understand. I suppose it's as good an explanation as any. While playing with Hermie the quality of the music became greater than the sum of its parts," he said. "It scared me."

"Hermie saw it. So did Herr Gorman," I said. "You were inspired."

"Hermie led me to the yellow brick road. Once I started down that road, I was on my own," he said.

"You're gifted," I said.

"I had started my journey. It's when the music stopped being in my head, being mechanical. The violin began to take over when I played for an audience. The music came from my heart and soul. It didn't emerge from my head. One day I had to give a lot of thought to what I wanted to play. The next day I didn't."

"Sounds like what most musicians pray for," I said. "Become one with the music."

"It was like that with the rings. Performing on the rings might have provided me with the focus that transferred to the violin. It's a similar feeling I get when I'm ready to perform."

"You've thought about this a lot," I said.

"It's the most powerful thing I've encountered. It's inside of me. I want to know what it is. I want to know how it works."

"Sometimes it's better not to see how the sausage is made," I theorized.

"You're talking about my sausage?" he asked, grabbing his crotch so his dick was silhouetted.

"You're hopeless," I said, not minding.

He smiled.

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