Walking Into Clouds

by Rick Beck

Chapter 1

Going To Town

For the most part I made it through school without much effort. Being on a team in autumn and one in the spring, and both of them winning teams, I was among the elite athletes in school. Compared to the golf team and tennis team, the lacrosse and soccer teams were royalty. I didn't know anyone on the golf team or the tennis team, but most kids in school knew me, because I was on those two teams.

No one asked me if I was queer or not. I suppose my reaction to such a question might get me locked up. I didn't want to be seen as weak or unworthy. While growing up gay people were receiving some acceptance from people less angry about the condition than I was.

I made up my mind early on that no one was going to suspect the feelings I kept tamped deep inside. I wasn't sorry I was gay. I wasn't happy about it either. I needed to survive six more years of school by the time I was sure about the gay thing. I wasn't going to spend six years being insulted and fighting over innate development.

If society in general was having a change of heart about gay people, none of that enlightenment, or little of it, was passed down to the players of team sports. The butt heads would always go straight to, 'I don't want no queer looking at my junk.'

I can assure those bozos, this queer wasn't losing sleep over their junk. I'm not saying I wasn't aware of the superior bodies of my teammates. But if you've never been admired by a gay guy, you might want to think about some cosmetic assistance.

Athletics saved me a lot of grief. It was the perfect cover for a gay boy. Most athletes care about one thing, can you play the game like a winner. I could and I did. I wasn't MVP material and I didn't stand out as superior to my teammates, but I was there doing what was essential for a team to win. By the time I graduated from high school, it's all that mattered.

After high school, there weren't a lot of options for an athlete not ready to take the plunge directly into college. I didn't know if college was in my future at all. I'd made up my mind that I had time to decide what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I wasn't good enough to do better than struggle to do any better than ride the bench of some professional athletic team.

I joined a rugby team the summer after I graduated. I knew what I wanted to do about being gay. I'd known since the time my friends and I took a tour of the seedy side of town. I took the lay of the land while I was a junior at school.

My best buds, all athletes, wanted to go to town to get laid. I knew the chances of that was about as good of one of them becoming an astronaut, but I wanted a look at that side of town. I didn't doubt, once I wanted to find out about being gay, I'd start there.

The night we decided to take a look at the underbelly of Aurora, it was more a comedy of errors than a solution to their problem. At first I didn't want to go for obvious reasons. When I gave some thought to my best buds trying to proposition a prostitute, I decided I had nothing to worry about and so I agreed to go along. I figured it would be good for a few laughs.

At sixteen I got my first look at where I thought I would find people like me. While I was happy to have the information, I wouldn't use it until the year after I graduated. I decided this is where I'd meet people who might guide me to where I might find happiness.

Going to find the seedy side of town was an important event for me. I sat up to take notice while we were still on streets I knew. They bordered the erotic zone. The lights and signs were everywhere. They left no doubt what men were here to do. I paid close attention to street signs I could locate later.

With Barney being the only boy in our group who had his own car, we were at his every whim. We drove around the border of the area that interested us. I remembered that one street we crossed ran from one side of town to the other. That's the one I remembered.

Shortly after making a mental note on the north to south thoroughfare I knew, Barney turned away from the place where our friends thought they'd find relief. It wasn't a popular turn, but it was only the first time we agreed to go to town.

"Look, this is my car and what if someone I know recognizes it and tells my parents I was down here cruising the streets?"

"And how do they explain how it comes they are down here to see you cruising said streets?" Fred said.

"They'll think we're down here doing the same thing he's doing. You worry too much, Barney. Quit being so lame," Jordy said.

"Yeah, well why don't we go get your car and drive down here so you can explain what you were doing here?"

"I don't have a car, Barney. You know that," Fred said.

"Exactly, jerk-off. You want to get out, say the word, dude. I don't want my car seen on these streets," Barney said.

"Why'd we drive all the way down here if we aren't going to see what's up with this place?" Squeaky asked.

"Girls, quit acting like assholes... please," Jordy said.

We didn't get out of the car that night. As close as we came to going to town was driving down that one street before Barney turned us back onto the streets of the nice side of town.

During soccer season we made the trip two more times and we parked two block north of the seedy side of town and walked down the one street we'd seen. The idea of being seen and needing to explain what we were doing down there came up, and we beat a retreat back to more familiar streets without getting near anything that looked like relief.

My friends were frustrated but I found their reluctance to engage amusing. I was preparing myself for the time when I returned to that side of town alone. While they weren't sure what they were looking for, or what it might look like, I had a pretty good idea, but I figured my quest would come somewhere deeper inside the forbidden zone.

By the time we graduated Fred made the trip with his older brother and a friend of his from college. They went into book stores with booths in the back where you could get a BJ if you weren't shy. There were clubs he called titty bars. You could sit and watch almost naked girls, as long as you kept buying ten dollar drinks.

There were massage, lap dances, or a date if you had the cash.

Returning to the bookstore, after all the ten dollar drinks they could afford, Dwayne, Fred's brother's friend, took them back to a booth where he knew the girl who went on duty at ten. Dwayne wanted to be her first customer.

"She's got magic lips and for twenty, she'll do you all the way," Dwayne said.

"He put a crisp twenty into the hole cut into the booth's wall and it quickly disappeared," Fred said, "Dwayne Unzipped his pants and his stiff dick followed the twenty dollar bill into the hole. His dick was red and the head was almost purple. I could see the wicked looking vein on the side of it throbbing. His hips were flat against the partition that separated us from where the girl was. He rested his face flat against it and soft moans came out of him.

"'She's got it all now. Man, I'd marry her lips if I could. She's the best one yet,' Fred said. "He moaned louder then, using his hips to recover some of his dick from the hole. At the moment of truth his knees bent and he gave out with a loud moan. It took a minute for him to withdraw from the hole, taking one glance at me before he wiped the tip of his softening dick with a conveniently provided paper towel from the dispenser. He dropped the towel on the floor, after he finished. 'That's all there is to it,' Dwayne said, tucking his dick back into his pants and said, 'Let's go. I'm done. You sure you don't want a turn? She knows her way around a guy's dick,' Dwayne said," Fred said. "I wouldn't do that in front of another dude, Dwayne didn't care who saw him getting off."

Fred had our attention as he spoke of his foray into town. I wondered if Miranda might be a boy. I wonder if Dwayne really cared who was on the other side of that partition as long as they kept sucking. I didn't say that to Fred but I did wonder about it.

I found Fred's information stimulating. He told us where the place in the forbidden zone was. It gave his story authenticity.

My hormones placed a lot of pressure on me to get down there and find where guys like me hung out. The reluctance on my part to move in that direction compared to my buddies' being unable to get beyond the border of where we needed to go for relief.

I recognized the delaying tactic and I didn't know what to do. I joined the South Aurora rugby team to feel good about myself. Being an athlete was important to my identity but being a virgin wasn't.

Time passed and eighteen became nineteen. My buddies from high school went in different directions. It was a good idea to let them go in pursuit of what they wanted and I would, sooner or later, get up the nerve to do what I wanted to do and being alone wasn't it.

I'd heard stories about boys who had played on school teams and seemed like one of the guys. Then they would make their desires known to a teammate and they would suffer the consequences.

I knew one such boy and instead of offering him my support, I turned my back on him too. It wasn't my proudest moment in high school. A year later he came out and ran for student body vice president and won. It relieved my conscience but I'd acted in a cowardly way. I couldn't deny that.

I didn't know how courageous any of us were at sixteen, but no one suspected I was gay and I wasn't going to test the waters. Who and what I was tied me to the soccer and lacrosse teams. The only thing I spent more time doing at school was attending class.

"He was just one of the guys, until he wasn't," Fred said about Troy. "He seemed so normal. Holt said he offered to blow him."

I wondered if Holt took him up on his offer before outing him?

"And all the time he was a pecker puffer," Sqeaky said.

I said nothing and Sqeak had my vote as the one most likely to be gay, after me.

I liked Troy. Befriending him would have been a dead giveaway. Birds of a feather flock together. In a way I admired Troy for declaring himself. He quit the team but he had new trails to blaze.

There were so many mixed messages. Come out. Don't come out. Stand up and be counted. Stand up and be excluded. Come out and have your teammates reject you.

I was an athlete and I wasn't going to do anything to ruin that.

I was building up a head of steam. Waiting until after graduation was the only certainty about what I'd do, but before long I was going to throw caution to the wind and go to find out what being gay was all about. As graduation approached, my urge to merge got stronger.

Being with my buddies meant acting straight, although I didn't add that much to their numbskull recitations. I didn't look down on them for the things they said and did. We were kids and we were supposed to do stupid stuff. I didn't have any trouble fitting in.

Of all of them, Fred was the most outspoken. I remembered his description of Dwayne's dick and how he reacted to the blow job. It was pretty detailed for a straight guy, but I let it slide. Fred was an athlete and he had the body to prove it. He also had a big mouth and he'd be the last person I'd want to bed. The entire school would know about me the next day and Fred would conveniently be an innocent bystander, leaving out his participation in the matter.

I thought about Fred, but I wasn't asking for trouble. I could wait until there weren't nine hundred kids in and around my life. Discovering how a boy fell in love with other boys could wait.

Then there was Squeaky. He'd been one of our group forever. He was skinny and not athletic enough for soccer or lacrosse, but he came to hand out towels and to get things for my teammates every season. I noticed him taking in the sights more than once, or maybe he was checking to see if we were in the right shower.

Every season while I was in high school, he was the towel boy. I'm sure other guys noticed how close Sqeaky stayed as we came and went from the showers. By my senior year he was a fixture. Sqeak was one of the guys.

Odds said that I wasn't the only gay boy on the teams I joined. There were guys I might suspect that always stopped to chat with Sqeaky. Sometimes boys would give him an ass smack and there were the times Sqeak returned the favor after giving them a towel.

I thought about the first time we got out of the car to walk back to the forbidden zone. It was a night that said a lot about Sqeak and what he might like. Fred surprised me that night too. Fred was the leader of our group when we weren't in Barney's car. Fred was the boldest and most likely to be kissed in the halls at school.

Being as bold as he was, when Sqeak stuck his neck out, Fred set him straight in a gay sort of way.

It was probably my imagination.

"Look at the rack on her," Sqeak said on a trip into town.

"It's a drag queen," Fred said with certainty. "It's a boy pretending he's a girl to get his hands on your toolbox."

"How the hell can you tell?" Sqeak asked, turning his head to get a closer look at the chick in question. "You're making that up. You're full of it, Freddy."

"Sqeaky, she's a he and he's probably got a dick bigger than yours and if it is a she, she needs a shave. If you can't tell the boys from the girls, you're going to get in trouble down here. What are you going to do when she threatens to kick your ass if you don't give her a good fucking?"

"As horny as I am, I'll roll her over and fuck her. I ain't proud."

The laughter erupted at this prospect. I wasn't laughing.

"You would not," Barney said. "One look at that dick of yours and she'll have second thoughts and roll you over and fuck you."

"That's not funny," Sqeak said.

"Why would a guy dress up like a girl anyway?" Squeak asked.

"To pick up a nice boy like you, Squeak," Jordy said.

We turned to follow the flashy looking girl as she moved down the block like she owned it, turning heads as she swung her hips. Cars in front and in back of us slowed to watch the action.

A horn blew.

Shouts of anger followed.

Heads turned as the girl who had everyone's attention continued on with the wiggle in her walk, until she turned toward the street. The girl in question threw her left hand up before she walked out in front of a crawling silver Mercedes.

A silver haired man was behind the wheel and she blew him a kiss before she threw up her other hand to stop a car coming the opposite way.

Applause broke out on both sidewalks. Young men clutched their chest in mock pain as they watched her walking.

Reaching the other side of the street, she took a bow before joining a group of fawning boys who looked like they'd just walked off the set of A Few Good Men.

"When you're hot, you're hot," Sqeaky said.

"Yes, you are," Fred said. "But she still needs a shave."

More horns sounded. Cat calls erupted. The girl became lost among her new squad of admirers.

The sidewalk went back to some semblance of order if there was any order along that street in the night.

"Are they going to get a surprise when one of them unwraps that package," Fred said.

"Maybe they came here for a surprise," Jordy said.

We'd gone all the way down the street bordering the seedy side of town. For our effort we'd been insulted and laughed at by bouncers galore. After they laughed at us they wouldn't let us near the front door of the strip joints and bars.

On the other side of the same coin, guys who looked younger than us, with the military haircuts, walked by us and walked inside.

"I bathed," Sqeak said. "I look older than those boys who just waltzed by the Neanderthal to go inside. What's up with that?"

"You don't salute properly, Squeaky," Barney said.

"Do we follow the crowd?" Fred asked, looking down the block where the girl with the wiggle went.

"I don't think so. I've been insulted enough for one night," Barney said. "I want a Boone's Burger with all the trimmings, extra fries."

"Me too," Jordy said, anxious to agree.

I agreed too.

I'd gotten about as close to where I was going as I could with my high school buds in tow. My next trip into the forbidden zone was going to be made alone.

Fred and Squeaky stood looking down the street of lights as we started back toward the car. They'd been out voted and soon we were in the car and heading toward Boone's Burger Emporium.

We were close to graduation that night. It was our final trip into that part of town together. I could envision seeing Fred or Sqeak on those streets some day in the future. They weren't as offended by the scene as Barney and Jordy were.

I remained neutral. I would be back sooner than later.

Going alone would take courage. I would need to build up my courage. I didn't know what I'd find when I went in search of people like me, but there were no vestal virgin in the forbidden zone.

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