Age of Discovering

by Rick Beck

Chapter 15

Seattle Bound

I rested my eyes for some time, listening to the distinctive low steady hum of the engines. My hand rested against Glenn's hand but we were no longer holding hands. Being with him excited me. I didn't want to give it too much meaning, because I wasn't sure of the road we were going down. My fear had subsided. My expectations had brightened.

He reached for the magazine placed in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him. He looked through it as I watched. He put it back and turned his head to look into my face. He smiled.

"Did you guys play safe?" I asked.

"It's a fine time to bring that up. I've been back over a year. I got blood tests twice a year because I was a military brat. Any time I got a bad cough, my parents sent me to the army docs. They asked me before I came back, 'Do we need to check you for STDs? ' I said, 'It might be a good idea.' I wasn't completely clear on how you would get one, but I was sure I'd done it."

"That is one way of looking at it," I said.

"They're a lot more attentive when you're overseas," he said. "Always a chance you'll pick up a local bug you have no immunity to. Never hurts to check. I was clean."

"Sounds like they are thorough," I said.

"I didn't know I was supposed to protect myself, when the subject first came up. The one we worried about was Hermie. It was more about him being hurt than getting an STD."

"Hurt how?" I asked.

"Hermie liked the boys at the arcade and they liked him. He also liked older boys from the base swimming pool. Young men new to the military and away from home for the first time. Hermie liked helping with one of their most persistent problems."

"Hermie was a regular pied piper," I said.

"Most young military men are doing what any one out on their own for the first time will do. Hardly dangerous types, but there are military guys that age who are looking for someone to exploit," Glenn said.

"Hermie was impressive with his classic German looks and the way he mastered the language. It drew people to him, especially other teenage boys."

"You said there was worry about him getting hurt," I said.

"Not all boys were satisfied with what Hermie so eagerly gave them. Some wanted more. They saw Hermie as the solution to a desire that remained unsatisfied. Being blown was one way to achieve temporary relief from their strongest desire. Some older boys were convinced they knew better ways to get their rocks off," he said.

"As I told you, Hermie was more pretty than handsome. He was soft and desirable, like a woman might be. If your desire went in that direction, and you had no access to a woman, Hermie might look appealing."

"He was raped?" I asked.

"It's not what Hermie called it. He said, 'If you play with fire, most of the time you're going to stay warm and satisfied. When you play with fire, sometimes you get burned. It's not anything that didn't happen to me when I was a little boy. My mother's boyfriends weren't beyond taking what they wanted off me, if my mother wasn't around. Sometimes when she was around. I learned young that I could get fed if I played my cards right. Maybe that's why I am the way I am. Maybe that's the way I was meant to be. It's not so bad knowing you hold the key to what makes a man rage with lust.'"

"His mother's boyfriends raped him?" I asked in horror. "It's not something he talked about. He made a comment here and there. After he'd been forced to perform in ways he didn't enjoy. He wrote it off as part of the game he played with other boys," Glenn said. "He knew the risks."

"Did he tell you the story?" I asked.

"Only when I persisted did he tell me what happened. He didn't call it rape. There was a tall, nicely built, well endowed redhead at the pool one afternoon. When he went into the showers, Hermie followed. The redhead stood at the far end of the showers. He was soaping up his penis as Hermie walked over to him and grasped his dick, sliding his hand up and back."

"Out where they could be seen?" I asked

"Hermie wasn't bashful. He knelt in front of the redhead who held the sides of Hermie's face as he rocked back and forth. He was excited far faster and it surpassed the lustful ways of most boys," he said.

"That's so risky," I said.

"It got riskier when three more boys joined the fun. They were all ready to bet in on the action. He eased up on the first boy and went to work on the others. That's when the redhead began soaping his dick up again and he positioned Hermie so he could gain entry. Hermie said he screwed something like a piston working on his backside. He was fed one dick and then another and then they'd move behind him to get some rear action of their own. Hermie called them, 'As hungry a group as I'd come across. The redhead and one other boy couldn't get enough."

"Did they hurt him?" I asked.

"No! He gave them what they were after without a struggle. There was no need to rough him up. They moved to one of the small dressing stalls when someone said, 'There's someone coming to the showers.'"

"What happened?" I asked.

"The redhead sat in front of Hermie jerking off and one of the other boys was behind him screwing away. When the redhead got off watching the other boy at work, he pulled Hermie's mouth down on him as he came. After he finished, Hermie said, 'He said, 'Thanks!'"

"The redhead was the bait to get Hermie alone?" I asked.

"That's Hermie's story. I'm just telling you what he told me. He didn't seem to be traumatized by the details. He was back at the pool a couple of weeks later. He went over to the redhead the next time he saw him," Glenn said.

"What happened?" I asked.

"As soon as he sat down, the redhead got an erection. He may have been blushing, but Hermie said his skin had a red tint that could be mistaken for blushing."

"Hermie was way cooler than I'd have been," I said.

"As sexual as he was, he thought the redhead was his equal. Even though he put Hermie in danger, he was by far the most gentle of the boys who cooked up the plan. They put the redhead in charge of luring him, because he had gotten Hermie's attention. They'd set it up for privacy. There was a lookout. They'd keep Hermie busy for a while."

"Didn't Hermie tell the police?" I asked. "He was raped. Those soldiers committed a crime."

"Some guys have a different view of what sex is all about. They may seek to get satisfied in what might be odd ways to us. Hermie had a reputation as being willing to give boys what they want. Once they had him alone, he made a point of not resisting. If he went to the police and there was an investigation, they'd tie the court up for weeks, maybe for a month, getting the boys Hermie blew to testify that he'd done it willingly. No future in Hermie seeking justice."

"It would hamper a successful prosecution," I said.

"That wouldn't be the half of it. I was just fourteen when he began to take care of my needs. Hermie had no compunction about servicing a nice looking boy that was as willing as me. Those boys didn't hurt him and they could have."

"So they got away with it?"

"He went out with the redhead after that incident. It was hard for Hermie to stay away from a boy that he wanted," Glenn said.

"You're right. Sexual tastes are strange for some folks."

"Fritz had a girlfriend he didn't bed, but every time he got with Freddie, he hooked up with him, after a little foreplay."

"I asked Fritz about it, thinking there was something in it I wanted to know. He looked at me as if I might be daft and he said, 'It's fun for me and Freddie doesn't mind. Besides, I knew him a long time before I met Helga.

"Did you go with Hermie to the pool?"

"A couple of times. A long time before the incident with the redhead. My last year there, I only saw Hermie a couple of times at Herr Gorman's. He was living a busy life."

I went to the pool more often with Fritz the second year I was in Germany. His father was military. He was joining up after he graduated from high school. Fritz is twenty now."

"How'd you keep from getting an erection?" I asked. "At the pool? With naked boys all around? There were always boys in the same condition. Here, around other guys, that would be a major mistake. It might ruin you, because we recognize the cock as a sex object. Actually, it's part of the human anatomy boys come with. That means there are a lot of them. Hardly something to get your panties in a twist over," he said. "Hard or soft."

"That's one way to look at it," I said.

"Seeing the way people in other countries handle nudity and sexual attraction helped me to accept my body the way it is. Of course Europeans have been at it a lot longer than Americans have. One day we might take a more enlightened approach to sex and sexuality. Accept people as they are and not insist on everyone liking the same thing, while doing it the same way."

"Sounds like a practical way to be," I said. "I keep thinking you've told me everything. There's always more."

"Fasten your seat belts. We're approaching Seattle," the flight attendant said as he passed.

"You don't look quite as nervous," Glenn said.

"No, not so much. I'm with you after all," I said, getting accustomed to the shakes and shudders of an airplane.

"Too bad too. I've got a hand and it doesn't have a thing to do. Comforting you is nice. I think I'm a little nervous my self. You wouldn't… you know, want to like help me get through this landing, would you?"

I put my hand in his and he smiled. I felt closer to Glenn than I had before. Spending time together was nice. My doubts had begun to fade.

"You're different," I said as I looked at his handsome face.

"I'm different because I'm me and you're you and that makes us different, you know? We're all different in some ways, but not in ways we're taught to explore."

"No, and we've beaten that horse enough," I said.

"Back to making big dick jokes, are we?" Glenn asked with one of his smirks.

"There has to be a horse in there somewhere," I said.

"Yes, a horse, of course."

"I mean you're different from how you were when we first met. That wise cracking kid I met in gym class. Even on the path to the Heights, you were acting differently."

"I've got on my game face," he said. "I'm focused on Seattle. After Seattle, I'll know more about my future, but this version of Glenn is the one most likely to be living in my body from this point forward. No promises that spastic Glenn won't slip out at times, you understand. I'm working on the Glenn who is about to become professional musician Glenn."

"I see," I said. "It's been nice having time to talk and not be rushed. We have lived entirely different lives."

"One doesn't turn eighteen without acquiring some maturity. That's not to say I don't prefer being a kid. but it's obvious, after this weekend, I'll be expected to act my age."

"This Glenn is easier to be with," I said. "Easier to like."

"It's not an accident. Being a flake tends to keep most people an arm's length away."

"An arms length?" I asked with a smile.

"If you'd prefer dick's length, in the spirit of the horse, we can go that way, but I was attempting to be good. While being a flake serves me well, but there are some I wouldn't want to be any distance from," he said, looking into my eyes.

I had butterflies in my stomach. I suppose they could be caused by the descent of the plane, but I knew the cause, and it had nothing to do with the plane.

He leaned close. Holding my hand against his chest, Glenn let his lips touch mine in an ever so delicate kiss.

I fought off a desire to swoon.

He was so hot!

I could feel the plane's tilt downward. It was nothing like the severe angle it took after takeoff.

The pilot came onto the radio.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we're approaching Seattle, please stow any loose items in the overhead compartment. Put your seats upright and make sure you fasten your seat belt. We do have a couple of planes in front of us but we should touch down in about fifteen minutes. The weather is overcast and it's fifty-eight degrees at five fifteen Pacific time. I hope you've had a pleasant flight."

"I'm excited," I said. "I can't wait to see Seattle."

"It won't be long," he said.

"How does Preston view you fitting into his operation?"

"The symphony crowd is conservative and well-mannered. If I want to be invited back, I will act accordingly," he said.

Preston's show isn't your typical symphony orchestra. He incorporates lighting and popular music into his show. He mingles it with the classics from the old masters. He stretches the boundaries in a way no one else is doing it. His hope is to attract younger people to add to the tried and true middle age and older audience," he said.

"I'm part of his youth movement. While I play classical violin pieces, I'm young. There was a time that to get a good violin gig, you had to have gray hair. Preston breaks that mold with a prodigy on piano and moi on violin as of tomorrow night."

"Sounds like a wise man to be associated with at this time in your career," I said.

"You'll see. Preston will meet us at the terminal. He won't leave me in the hands of a driver until we get settled into our hotel room. I'm sure he told my mother that he'd be waiting for me when I come off the plane."

"He isn't aware of your daredevil side?" I asked.

"No! And he won't be. Having an upstart musician bringing controversy to the Preston Hathaway Show wouldn't be good business," Glenn said. "Preston knows I know that. I'm expected to be a perfect gentlemen, until I return to Gravel Pit Heights and the rednecks who don't know I exist."

"That makes sense. I think you'll do fine," I said. "Aren't you excited?"

"Once it's over, I'll be a lot finer," he said. "I'll need to be more predictable as a professional violinist under contract to PHS. I'll leave Seattle with a contract or without one."

"What about this?" I asked, holding up our hands. "Will it cause any conflict?"

"I won't pretend to be something other than who and what I am. You think performers are all sitting home with their lovely wives, two point three kids, and a dog and a cat? I don't think so. In fact, it's rumored that entertainers come in all varieties and genders," he said. "And they trend toward being more open minded and less judgmental."

"Because of being more creative I suspect," I said.

"That sounds like a fair statement. I don't mind playing the violin like a wizard. Once I'm off stage, I want to have my life my way. Because I have a boyfriend who comes with me to performances, doesn't mean people get to make a big deal about it, because it's not how they do it."

"As it should be," I said. "There are always people who appoint them selves the morality police."

"I don't like the word gay. I've never liked that word. Feelings aren't so easily defined, Gordon. Not for me anyway. What I feel for you, I've never felt before. someone else gets to tell us what that means? Not where I live they don't. Maybe we need to make up a word to describe us. Maybe we should decide what our relationship is. Maybe we'll be Glendon or Gorenn. My point is that someone else's word doesn't have anything to do with what we feel."

I laughed.

"I don't care what we call it as long as you don't decide to go back to giving me a hard time. I hope we've passed that stage."

"Hard time? While one might think they can label me hard, they'd only be right half the time."

"Hard to argue with that," I said, giggling over the idea.

"Hard indeed," he said, smiling. "Labels can't describe the depth of feelings. They may describe a condition but labels are restrictions. I like being Glenn and Gordon. That says it all. No one needs to know more than that."

"If it describes a group you belong to, it can be helpful in getting you where you want to go," I said. "Sometimes you need to stand up with the people who are like you."

"I haven't had too much experience with belonging to a group of people. I didn't stay anywhere long enough to belong to anything," he said.

"So saying, 'Oh, I'm gay,' is supposed to represent me? I'm me. I'm Glenn. There's no one like me. A word can't describe me. No matter what the word is, I'd be getting short changed. Maybe if we make a go of this, we might need to make a stand concerning our rights."

"I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as we know that we live in a culture that has a bad habit of choosing up sides. You only get two choices, us or them. In case you haven't noticed, we are always them to the people who think the only way to do things is their way." "Right now I just want to play the violin and enjoy your company. Like my career, Gordon, we've only just begun."

"You notice how often we speak in song titles?"

"How appropriate for two musicians," he said. "Now if I start talking like a Physicist, then you can worry."

"One promising prodigy and one wannabe guitar player don't compare."

"The key to our seeing eye to eye is music. While I come with my share of peccadilloes, you're a bundle of contradictions and insecurity."

"I am?"

"You are. You forget I saw your band. I heard you play. You have command of the music you play. Your band mates follow your lead. It's obvious who the leader of the Mad Monks is. Each transition is in your hands. As soon as you blend into the next song, your band mates follow you," Glenn said. "With the exception of Richie, when he was on stage, and Richie only follows Richie as far as I can tell. The way you guys play around him is remarkable. He doesn't realize you guys carry him, but you do, and that takes skill."

"Thank you," I said. "I didn't know any one noticed."

"Any one didn't. Another musician, no matter how different the disciplines, can see the mechanics at work in the music. While I was fascinated by your playing, it was how well your band played together that surprised me."

"I'm glad you told me that. I feel better about it now," I said. "I just do what I think will work."

"I'll tell you something else. I came in just as you were setting Richie up to sing Yesterday," he said. "You went from hard driving rock and roll. Before the sound stops echoing in the house, you move your chair to the side of the stage and began to play. I was impressed. Not because that songs perfect for Richie's voice, but the contrast caught every one's attention. It's the only song he sang and stayed with your guitar."

"I made him sing Yesterday as punishment for being such a show boat. At first he hated it. Before he realized it was the perfect song to show off his limited range," I said.

"You'd mentioned that song being in your first song book when I came over to look at your clothes closet," he said.

"Yes, well it's true. It's my favorite because it was the first song I learned to play all the way through," I said.

"I'm sure I haven't become romantically involved with any one before, because I needed someone who is as passionate about music as I am. I never found any one who fit the bill, until I met you, Gordon."

"We aren't in the same league, Glenn. All I do is mimic the guitar players I admire," I said. "What I wouldn't have given to carry one of Jimi Hendrix's guitar. He still amazes me. He died before I was born."

"A long time ago," he said.

"How do you think musicians get to be musicians? By duplicating what their rock heroes do. Every guitar player, drummer, keyboardist, is playing like his hero. In time they add a lick here and a lick there, and they have their own style," I said.

"And if you're really good and really lucky, you become a big time musician," he said. "I never thought of it the way you put it, but I know being good is only part of it. You've got to be lucky."

"Don't I know it," I said.

"You are as good as any one your age and you've just gotten lucky. At the right time, I'll ask Preston to suggest a route for you to take that might end up with you in a big time band. A place where you can learn your trade from professional musicians."

"That would be great. You'd do that for me?" I asked.

"Yes, I would," he said. "I wouldn't if I didn't think you could cut it. Preston would need to hear you play, but he's always in search of talent, and not just for his orchestra. People make him aware of a kid in Berlin. He tells someone about a guitarist from Gravel Pit Heights."

I laughed.

"I'd make up a place where I could be from," I said.

I could feel the plane making a constant circle. Our wing was tilted slightly downward. Every few minutes Mt. Hood passed my window. The top of it was in the clouds.

"I feel really good," I said. "Excited!"

"I'm just getting accustomed to holding my first hand. How do you think I feel?"

"Excited!" I said.

"Always when you're around," he said.

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