Walking Into Clouds

by Rick Beck

Chapter 8

Granger's Dilemma

Grange's room had all the doodads and gadgets I avoided. My friends accumulated gadgets as a measure of their worth.

I had a smart phone. It was an older I-phone and it worked fine. I had a 2001 Silverado. I knew the original owner. He bought the truck new and he took care of it. Since he lived next door to me, I washed it once a week after I turned ten. When he bought a brand new Silverado in 2016, he sold the Silverado I'd been washing to me for $1000 and I gave him $20 a week until I paid it off. Because he took care of it, it ran like a top and it looked good too.

I'd bought a soccer ball, my lacrosse gear was mine, and I had enough jeans and tee-shirts to last a week without doing my laundry. I had a suit I wore to church, until I was old enough not to go at 15. I had shoes for soccer, lacrosse, rugby, and a pair of Nikes for walking, because they were easy on my feet. I spent more on athletic shoes than anything else I owned.

I had a banjo I played for my junior and senior years in school. I kept it in a case in the corner of my room. My father bought it as a Christmas present. Dad thought making music was the highest calling there was. He loved jazz and some country music.

I played a mediocre banjo but not for some time.

I had a computer my parents bought me while I was in junior high. I didn't use it as much now, but it worked fine and I didn't need every gadget that came down the pike.

If I didn't have gadgets, I'd never miss them, or have to pack them, or worry about losing them. I intended to travel. When I did travel, I wanted to be able to travel light. I could pack to go in ten minutes and I'd have everything I needed with me.

If I accumulated the stuff my friends bought, I'd tie myself to one place. Moving would be such a daunting task, I'd never want to move and I wanted to be able to move when the mood struck me.

I played sports but I had zero interest in fantasy sports. I was afraid to admit that I didn't get fantasy sports. You created teams that never played. You didn't need to know anything about the sport or the rules. You would never know what it took to learn to be competitive in a sport. You only needed to know the names of players and if you looked up their statistics, you could pick the best players and field a team that would never play. If you picked the best players, you could assume your team would be a winner, but you never left your couch and your team never played, but they could win in the minds of people who promoted it, but wouldn't get off their couch long enough to do anything physical.

That's the part I didn't get.

Being a fan of a sport and going out to watch your favorite team play meant you had to get up and expend the energy to go watch the players play. I got that. There was the excitement of being with other fans and smelling the grass, hearing the sounds that came from playing the game, and the spirit that was contagious. As an athlete, I appreciated the people who did come out to watch us play.

I played because I enjoyed competition. I liked the camaraderie that came with being on a team. I felt the excitement of competition and I liked it best when we proved our superiority over another team. I didn't want to drub the opposing team. I had no desire to hurt opposing players. I didn't dislike an opposing team.

I wanted to play to the best of my ability while they did the same, accepting the result when the final whistle blew. If we lost, we worked to be better in the next game. If we won, we wanted to duplicate that in the next game. It's what made me loved and continue playing sports. It fulfilled a need within me.

During practice and during games I felt close to my teammates. I felt like I was part of something important. Each of us had our own reasons for being there, but once there, once we became a team, we were engaged in an endeavor larger than we were as athletes.

How could a team that never plays win anything?

Grange was steep into doodads and gadgets. He had shelves full of such things I'd seen advertised. How did he have time for school? If he decided to move, he'd need a moving van. I could throw everything I owned into the back of the Silverado and still have room.

Once again there was the unexpected, which I was learning to expect from Grange. It had me wondering how straight he was.

The jury was still out on that one. I would keep coming back as long as it was worthwhile. Once it was no longer worthwhile, I'd once again try my luck in the forbidden zone, but I was having fun for now.

If he wasn't a gay guy, Grange gave a good impression of one, and this came from a gay guy who no one knew was gay. I wondered if anyone knew Grange was gay. Did anyone care if he was?

Him being naked a minute after we reached his room wasn't a surprise. He may as well have been naked at the rugby game. I saw everything he had before I got near the frat house, but so did everyone else. The one thing I did know, Grange wasn't bashful.

Grange taught me some moves I'd only speculated about before. They were moves I intended to use again and often. When all was said and done, all I had to do was respond to what Grange did.

Doing it was far nicer than speculating about doing it. If Grange wasn't gay, he'd missed his calling, because he was good. Grange was very very good, and I was glad.

"You're awfully quiet. I'd expect a comment. I don't do that for everyone," Grange revealed.

"I assumed we did it together by mutual agreement. I had no idea that is what we'd be doing when we came up here and I'm still breathless. Now, I feel bad about saying you had a big ass. You don't, but you know that. When I said that, you asked for it. You're a bit sold on yourself, you know. After doing that, I'm sold on you myself. It was rather amazing."

"So I've been told about my attitude. Some guys, guys like you, make me want to know what it's like to do such things. It's not what I like, except when a guy like you does it to me. You're quite butch and you know how to make a guy feel loved."

"Liked a lot," I corrected. "That's what I wanted to know. I enjoyed every minute but it isn't what I expected. It wasn't what you led me to expect," I said. "However, it is what I like... a lot, and you didn't do it for me, Grange. It takes two to tango, especially when you're screwing, but what do I know? It's all new to me."

"You never know about these things," he said. "I never do. I think I would like one thing, and we end up doing something else. Being surprised is OK too. It gives me more to think about."

I was sure he was contemplating my performance. I was waiting for him to give me a grade. I waited for the cut down to come. Grange owed me one. I did tell him his ass was too big.

"I think I am leaning one way, and once things heat up, I go another way," Grange said. "I like that too and you're a stud. You know what you're doing. You have a way of making a guy feel like you mean it," Grange said. "You made it fun, Clete."

He stood up and looked down at me.

"You've got a body and a half. You must work out a lot," he said.

"Mostly I stay active. I eat like a horse but I burn it off fast."

Changing the subject seemed like a good idea.

"That was part of the allure. You put yourself into it. Most guys aren't as passionate as you," Grange said. "They don't have the moves you've got."

"No, I suspect not. Tooty-Anne for instance. She'd never get to do that to you, I bet," I said.

It wasn't kind but Grange was deluding himself and I thought that he should think about that. I'd never been with anyone more gay.

I meant it to be a harsh assessment of his actions.

I'd done the, 'I have a girlfriend' routine once before. I was too horny and Grange was too ready, willing, and able for me to turn him down. The idea anything serious could come of a quick roll in the hay never got off the ground. Grange didn't know who he was, or if he did, he was seeking to keep it secret from the guys he had sex with.

I'd had a couple beers and a roll in the hay and I was ready to put on my clothes and move on down the highway. I intended to do it gracefully. I'd ruffled enough of Grange's feathers for one evening. I didn't want to hurt him. If I hung around, I'd say something unkind.

"I see a guy and I think he might be fun but I'm never sure. Things rarely go the way I see them going. Some guys make me sorry that I wasted the time.... Not you though. You were fine," he said.

"I should keep a record of that," I said. "One fine. I'll add that to other comments I get. I think I'll start a journal," I said.

"Oh, not on-line I hope. I wouldn't want anyone saying anything about me on line. I have sisters a mother. They don't know I do, ...but I don't do this that much. Mostly on weekends, when Cathy goes off with her girlfriends," he said.

"I met a man," I said.

"Haven't we all," Grange said. "I bet you meet a lot of men."

"I met a man who told me, 'You need to figure out what you want. Then you need to figure out how to verbalize that to the person you're with. In your case, the people you're with. That will make it a lot easier on both of you.' I think you need to figure out which team you play for and maybe stick with that for a while. See how it goes."

"Really?" Grange said, not faking an interest in the subject.

"Really," I said. "I picture you as a man who is so busy trying to appear to be one thing that he's not really being anything. That's not to say you aren't very good sexually, Grange, but sex lasts for... how long? Then you have the rest of the time to fill."

Even if the rest of the time didn't interest Grange, it was more important to me than anything else. I wanted to fall in love and I wanted to like the guy I fell in love with.

The frat house was close, Grange was easy, and I was happy to have a place to go where guys my age hung out. I decided to enjoy my good fortune for the time being. Grange made it clear that I was welcome to return and even some of his frat brothers said goodnight as I headed for the Silverado, after my first time there.

Grange and I both knew that Grange loved no one but Grange. Several nights a week there were parties at the house and on the nights there was no party, we sat in the hot tub in the backyard, followed by a cold shower, if we got that far.

Being with boys my age and socializing at the frat house was fun. I'd never had a place like that to go before. This allowed me to see what it was like seeing someone steady.

Calling Grange steady was a bit of a reach. He was steady if he didn't have anything better to do, but being around the frat house gave me an idea of what it might be like if I decided to go to college.

I was a regular visitor over the next couple of weeks. For the same reason Grange kept inviting me back, I kept going back. Grange was allowing me to find out what my limitations were and how much I enjoyed whatever he felt like doing. As regular goes, it was regular.

I was waiting until I had enough of Grange, to go back to the way I was doing things before we met. This was a nice change of pace for as long as it lasted.

We'd once been two ships passing on the sideline of a rugby game, when our courses were altered by shifting tides. I knew little or nothing about going with a guy. Grange knew more than I knew, but he was limited by appearances, and appearances were everything to Grange.

A few weeks later, Grange had me floating on a cloud of passion a few minutes after we made our way to his room. He was in the habit of taking me places where I didn't know where those places were. Having no idea of where I was, it was a place I enjoyed and came back from too soon for my taste, but lust lasts for as long as it lasts, and then it ends.

This was the hold Grange had on me. When he took me to places I'd never been before, I didn't mind. While I wasn't in love with Grange, some of the things we did were quite likable and that made Grange fun for a little longer.

Breaking away from the frat house wasn't in the cards while I was having fun. It was the hold Grange had on me. No one had ever taken me to the places Grange took me. Once I came back to earth from whatever recesses of my mind our latest sexcapade took me, a smiling Grange was there to greet me upon the return of my complete awareness. I was pleased he was pleased with me.

Only a little way from the peak of passion, the room had begun to close in on me. I found myself wondering what Tooty-Anne and Grange did together. I shook my head to rid myself of the thought.

My desire was gone and it made Grange look different to me. This was when I'd roll over and go to sleep, when I was doing it myself at home, but Grange had a queer idea I might not be done. Grange had all kinds of ways to stimulate the human organism. It was new to me. I doubted little was new to Grange. He was good at what he did.

I was the visiting team. This was Grange's home field, but no matter how many twists and turns he had, I managed to keep up, and when all was said and done, he'd lie next to me in his bed. That's when I wondered if this was the best use of my time.

"You are hot, you know. You make me hot. You are solid and you have muscles, but you're still thin. You don't have any bulk. That's a rare combination in these parts. You're an athlete who hasn't let himself grow too big. Few guys know when enough is too much. I like that you know that."

I wasn't so sure that I had much to do with it, but I wasn't above taking credit for my good sense in keeping my body muscular but thin. I doubted I'd stay as thin as I was during my frat house days.

"It's my metabolism. I burn more calories while I'm eating than I'm able to consume. There's rugby, running, and aerobic exercise. I'm five foot eleven and I stay between 165 and 170 pounds. I don't lift anymore. I lifted in high school for lacrosse. That's when I was 150 and bigger guys rolled over top of me. I needed to add weight to be able to hold my own. By the end of that season I was 165. That was my junior season. I moved up to the varsity. I was 168 after I showered yesterday. I've never been over 170. Maybe for a minute after eating one of Tony's pizza's with everything on it."

"Speaking of gaining weight, I don't," Grange confessed. "That's to say, I don't gain weight. I'm six one and 142 pounds. I've been 142 pounds since forever."

Grange altered my thinking concerning sex. He convinced me that sex with a guy I don't love, but who is very talented in that department, can have its own rewards. Grange taught me a thing or two, and maybe three or four.

Now, I knew what Grange knew, or maybe I knew what he liked.

When it came down to brass tacks, I figure I knew more than Grange knew. He was gay as a goose. It was as clear as the nose on my face, but Grange didn't know it, or he lacked the sense to admit it, but I wouldn't hold it against him, not that night anyway. I needed to move a bit further away from the peak of passion where he took me.

I hid the truth from my friends and the people in my life. I never denied I was gay to myself. I knew what I was and I knew how it might impact my desire to play soccer and lacrosse. I was young enough to be able to ignore the urges inside me. I was lucky enough to have straight friends who fooled around in front of me.

Had I joined them I'd have gone too far, cum too much, been too excited, and then I'd have become the topic of conversation. 'Poor shy Clete sure does enjoy getting off with us... a lot.' And a lot would be too much and would get out to be talked over by my teammates. I wanted to play sports more than I wanted to play with my friends, so being 'Poor shy Clete' was just fine with me before poor shy Clete found out what he was missing.

I didn't understand it. How could straight guys do it with other guys and maintain a belief in their straightness? Maybe it is an age thing. I knew Sqeaky would do anything for Fred. Jordy got naked at the drop of a hat. It made me wonder what they felt while being sexual with each other. Was it a kin to masturbation or was it an attraction that was irresistible for them?

I didn't think a straight guy could enjoy sex with another guy as much as Grange did. I was no Sqeaky or Fred, but I had plenty to offer. I wasn't able to hold anything back. I was hotter than hot once I was engaged in sex.

There was no denying I was gay and I was finally doing something about it.

I was all in, as was Grange, but I didn't have a girlfriend.

I wanted to be an active participant with a suitable partner. Grange wanted to have sex with men while denying he liked having sex with men. It was fun while it lasted. I didn't believe it would last long, even when I was in recovery mode in his room.

My love life improved after the lifelong and self-imposed drought ended. I still wanted to meet a boy and fall in love. The three partners I picked so far were not suitable for a long term love affair. That did worry me. Having fun was its own reward. When the time was right, I'd move on. The time hadn't been right yet.

I knew what I was looking for and I needed to keep looking. I needed to get beyond the seductive frat house, but there were those hormones and the way Grange took care of them.

Grange asked me to return to the frat house. He wanted to go to a movie and take me to dinner, when his girlfriend wasn't around. He didn't say when his girlfriend wasn't around, but I knew the rules and I wasn't able to say no.

I wasn't about to get serious about a boy with a girlfriend. I wanted a relationship with a guy who was just as serious about me. Grange wasn't that guy and the time for us was running out. I needed to find a way to make the break that wasn't hurtful.

I'd have consulted Theodore Newman about my dilemma and my inability to end the affair with Grange, a boy I liked but didn't love. I knew what Teddy would say. He'd tell me to find out what I wanted and I should settle for no less than that. Above all, I needed to be honest with myself, not to mention Grange. He deserved the truth.

It didn't take a psychologist for me to know what I needed to do.

For the first time in my life I was popular. The frat boys all said hello and they told me when to expect Grange if he wasn't there.

For three weekends in a row I spent most of my time at the frat house. One Wednesday night there was a keg party, and no school Thursday. After work, I went home to shower before driving to campus, and as I drank beer and socialized with the frat boys, Grange came in from his evening run. He came over for a beer and we agreed to retire to the hot tub for a good soak. It was our usual routine, and after a soak we'd go to Grange's room.

"You look nice tonight," Grange said, sitting down next to me in the hot tub. "I especially like your swim suit."

"I don't have a swim suit on," I said.

"That's what I like most," he said, leaning close to my ear.

There were always people coming and going from the hot tub, but no one was interested in what might be going on under water. As it got darker, the hot tub was in the dark. The only light came from the back porch.

This made me more comfortable. I had nothing to worry about. No one knew where Grange's hand was.

Suddenly the evening took a nasty turn and it reminded me of what I didn't like about Grange.

"Granger, old buddy, Cathy's looking for her man," James said from the back porch.

Grange left the hot tub, pulling on his running shorts on his way into the house. He disappeared inside the house without so much as a, 'You'll need to excuse me for a minute.'

Being left high and dry wasn't how I saw the evening going. I was most definitely not erect when I pulled on my jeans.

I felt every eye on me. No one spoke.

It was yet another drama playing itself out at Sigma house.

I hadn't gone to town during the work week, until that Wednesday night. I'd gone in the house under the pretext of getting a cold beer after a long day. If I managed to get the other problem taken care of in the bargain, that would be nice too.

As I walked through the house carrying my shirt, I caught Grange's eye. He was sitting next to a girl on the couch. He immediately pressed his lips on hers in a passionate kiss.

He didn't want her to see me. He didn't care that I saw her.

I kept walking and I didn't look back.

The frat house had lost its luster.

The frat house was fun. It was where a nagging problem got solved with little or no fuss.

It was fun while it lasted but now I needed to find a nicer boy and settle down. I wasn't quite sure how to go about it yet but it was time I came up with a plan.

It didn't clear up the problem of boys who were attracted to me also had a girlfriend. At least two out of three times, when someone came on to me, there was a girlfriend in the picture.

This was troubling. I knew about sowing one's wild oats, but I wasn't in the mood to play second fiddle for a guy who didn't know which team he played on. It may not have confused them but it confused me. I was gay. I liked boys. There was nothing in it for me with a boy who liked girls; almost nothing.

I thought of my buds.

How did I know Teddy wasn't married and had a dozen kids running around the house and that's why we did it in his car, which would make it three for three.

In the end I only knew as much as a boy told me. You either trusted a person or you didn't. If I didn't trust what someone was telling me, I didn't associate with him. I didn't need someone's life story to be his friend, but when he lied to me, the association ended as far as trust was concerned.

Neither Jeff nor Grange lied to me. I didn't think Teddy lied either. He might have left out that he had a dozen kids, but in the area of need to know, it had nothing to do with what we were doing. He wasn't obligated to tell his life's story. He didn't need to explain he was where he was, doing what he was doing when we met. If I couldn't figure that out, I did need counseling.

Life was complicated enough without asking would of, could of, should of from everyone you had more than a casual relationship with. If there is one thing I had learned, we have a hard road to hoe and there is no point in making it harder than it is.

I knew all I needed to know about Teddy when I got into his car. Now I knew all I needed to know about Grange, and that was the night the frat house lost its luster.

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