The Pale Blue Sky

by Jack Lynch

Part 5 - Carey, Chapter 11

The Exhibit.

Sunny warm day. Spring was finally here. Carey sat on a low brick wall running along one of the campus walks. A great place to nibble on a sandwich and people watch. Everybody seemed to have an extra bounce in their step.

The new season brings you hope, Carey thought. A chance to put the past in the rear view mirror. Once again, he vowed to put all of the lurid behavior behind him. There had been too much fucking around. Literally.

A girl walked by, braless. Her tits bouncing lightly under her loose fitting top, slightly nipped out. How did this make him feel? A mild turn on or the same feeling as if a city bus had just gone by?

Dirk and another football player type guy walked by going in the other direction. He nodded at Carey as he walked by, a weirdly curious smile on his face. Nice package under his fleece shorts. Probably going commando. So, how did that make him feel? A brief vision of Dirk's cock as it was about to go into his mouth. His own dick twitched.

Carey shrugged his shoulders as he opened the latest edition of the university's school paper. When he got to the arts and entertainment page his jaw dropped. The photo ran the entire width of the page. It was the picture of Micah with his head laying across Carey's naked hip. Most of Carey's body was cropped out but it was obvious both of them were naked.

"Exhibit Stirs Controversy," the large type headline blared. The sub-title: "Prof's Photos Called Obscene."

"Students, faculty, and some administrators are calling for sanctions, disciplinary action, and even the firing of Professor Miranda Hathaway following the opening of her photography exhibit, 'Now and Then.' It opened yesterday at the Provis Gallery in the Newberry Center for the Arts on campus. Obscene, lewd, and perverted were some of the terms used to describe the exhibit by some of those attending last evening's opening."

"Holy fuck!" Carey screamed with emphasis on the "f."

Suddenly realizing where he was, Carey glanced up. Everyone around him had stopped talking, having turned to stare at him.

A middle aged man with a silver haired crew cut, probably faculty, sitting on the other side of the walkway said in a sharp tone, "Hey, buddy! Wanna keep it down?"

Embarrassed, Carey held the paper up to cover his face. He read on.

"The exhibit portrays both men and women, mostly nude. Many poses are similar to and in some cases, directly copied from, provocative photos published in various magazines and books between 1950 and 1980. In each case, the original photo is displayed along side Hathaway's prints.

"According to information provided in material distributed at the Provis and in a press release issued by the gallery, the purpose of the exhibit is to show how historically sensational photographs of the mid-20th Century can be reinterpreted today. Although the poses used to shoot the original photos were controversial even when they were first published, their place in popular culture has never been denied,' gallery director Harding Ressler said. 'They certainly aren't obscene.'

"Julie Hensen, president of the local chapter of the American Center on Sexual Exploitation (ACSE) disagreed. 'This is yet another example of how both women and men are sexually objectified. Showcasing this kind of lewd material makes it just that much easier to take advantage of vulnerable adults and children.' Various petitions are being circulated calling for sanctions against Hathaway as well as her dismissal. Hensen said ACSE is organizing a protest and will be picketing in front of the Provis to discourage people from attending the exhibit.

"When contacted for comment, Professor Hathaway would only say, 'My work stands for itself.'"

Mumbling, "That fucker," Carey got up and walked away leaving the newspaper and half of his sandwich.

Feeling totally humiliated, he moped around for the rest of the day through classes and homework. Resentful, angry at Miss Hathaway. Even though he'd signed a release, he felt duped. He called her office and sent her emails; he just got voice mail and an out of office reply in his mail.

He thought about getting help from the ACSE. Maybe they would be sympathetic. He even went over to their office in the student union. Dark and locked. They were probably all over at the Newberry protesting.

Carey lay on the bed in his dorm room and bounced a rubber ball against the wall. Finally, he came to the conclusion that he wouldn't know how ruined he was until he saw the exhibit.

Wearing a pair of jeans, a hoodie, baseball cap, and sunglasses, he walked over to the Newberry. A state of the art performance center with multiple stages, rehearsal rooms, and studios, the building occupied an entire city block surrounded by plazas and green space. The Provis Gallery had its own entrance on one long side of the complex.

Carey arrived to find a spectacle. The line to get into the exhibit wrapped around the corner of the building. There were easily a hundred people ahead of him when he joined the line.

Noisy and raucous, protesters carrying signs, a woman screaming epithets into a bull horn, people cheering and yelling at each other, the "whup, whup" of a siren. Police wearing actual riot gear lined one side of the plaza in front of the gallery.

Media was everywhere. A TV crew filmed the protesters. Two or three news photographers took pictures. Newspaper reporters and a campus radio station crew tried to interview people coming out of the exhibit.

The line moved slowly. It took over an hour to get to the entrance. The atmosphere became even more chaotic the closer Carey got to the door. A couple of screaming protesters were dragged off by the cops.

He watched people as they exited. Some left with great energy, talking rapidly to each other, gesturing with their hands. Others were tight lipped, some frowning, a few grimacing while they shook their heads. Two girls left, one with her hand over her mouth, as they both burst into laughter.

Carey's mood had been dark. It was even darker now. He pulled the hoodie tighter and the cap visor down further to conceal his face.

Micah naked. Seated on the big white cube, one knee up with the other leg folded underneath. Arms crossed. Genitals cleverly hidden. The photo must have been 8 or 10 feet tall, the first thing one encountered right inside the front door. Carey could feel himself getting red. A line of sweat developed at his hairline.

Next to the photo was the original. Much smaller, mounted on a short easel, about 2 feet off the floor. The caption identified the model, photographer, publication, and date. Carey didn't recognize the model, but the magazine was Vogue .

Carey picked up a program from a pile on a small table next to the entrance. The scant information listed each photo by number with the name of the original publication, subject, and the date when it was originally published. The program listed a variety of contemporary and vintage publications, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Vanity Fair. Famous photographers like Scavullo, Mapplethorpe, Leibovitz, and Warhol were credited. In each case, the model for the new work was listed as: "Name Withheld." Carey smirked. Small consolation.

People just entering stopped briefly to gag open mouthed at Micah's photo. After recovering from the initial shock, most quickly moved on, spreading throughout the gallery. The gallery walls were painted a stark white. High ceilings. Interior demising walls divided the gallery into several areas. Lighting designed to highlight the work created drama. The prints were all quite large, measured in feet more than inches.

As Carey wandered through the different spaces, he saw a variety of photos and poses, featuring almost equal numbers of men and women. Ages of the models seemed to vary considerably. A few of the girls seemed quite young. They were mostly naked but were creatively posed to hide genitals and nipples.

A fairly large crowd gathered around one large print of a big hairy guy. He was laying on his side on a furry white rug. Long stringy hair, pierced nipples and ears. Big cock, partially visible, hairy pubes. The photo on the stand next to him identified the original model that inspired the new work as someone named Burt Reynolds. Carey shrugged. Never heard of him.

People stood in small groups quietly discussing the photo. Several people chuckled as they whispered to each other.

Wandering deeper into the gallery, the crowd suddenly thickened. Congestion seemed to slow movement to a crawl. As he shuffled around the corner of an exhibit wall, Carey saw what the crowd had stopped to look at. His heart began racing a million miles a minute. His breathing suddenly became labored.

Carey craned his neck around a taller guy in front of him to see a nearly 10 foot photo of himself.

It was the one Hathaway took when he was wearing the tight short top. Naked from the waist down, arms stretched out in front of him, his head turned to smile at the camera. Incredibly, his cock and ass were not fully visible; just the side of his hip and butt cheek. Just on the other side, hidden from sight, was his painfully erect cock.

People were packed in tight but he managed to shuffle his way to the front. Looking down, he saw the original photo. It was a woman named Angie Dickinson. Apparently, this photo had appeared on the cover of Esquire Magazine in 1972.

Feeling flushed and faint, his eyes stinging from embarrassment, he kept his head and eyes facing forward. OMG, if someone recognized him!

Somewhat trapped physically by all the people, he started listening to some of the comments. Af first, he mostly heard twitters, chuckles, and gasps. Then, whispers.

"That's amazing!" "Striking!" "Freaky." "Unbelievable!" "He's incredibly good looking." "Who IS he?" "He must be a dancer." "The expression on his face is killer!" "What a lovely body."

Carey slowly shouldered himself away from the front of the viewing area. Looking down, he nudged himself back against the opposite wall. Ever so slowly, he lifted his chin to take stock of who else was there. A couple of guys, probably his age, stood next to each other. Silent. Two girls, one clutching a backpack, whispered softly to each other. A nicely dressed older couple, he with close cropped gray hair, she with her silver hair pulled back, wearing glasses. Whispering animatedly to each other.

An attractive young couple, her arm around his waist, alternately pointed at Carey's photo and leaning into each other to make hushed comments. Another girl and a guy, both with sketchpads open, intently drawing with pencils.

An older man, bald on top, white hair on the sides and back. An equally white mustache, English style. Wearing a black bow tie, black suit, and a pearl gray vest. Holding onto what looked like an elegant walking stick. His expression was detached, almost as if he was bored.

There were others too. Silent or murmuring softly, they shuffled around to get a better look.

Carey had a sudden epiphany. Looking around, he realized most of these people were just normal people. Curious, voyeuristic. Maybe some of them wondered how it would feel to be exposed like he had been. Feelings a lot of other people were either curious about or had experienced at some level in their own lives.

Standing there, the tension evaporated out of Carey's body. He let out a large sigh. With a smile forming on his lips, he loosened the hoodie and pulled it back onto his shoulders. Simultaneously, he pulled the cap off of his head with one hand and grabbed the sunglasses with the other hand. After stuffing both of them in the pockets of his sweatshirt, he ran his fingers through his hair.

It didn't take more than a couple of minutes. Glancing to his left, Carey noticed two Asian girls looking at him and whispering to each other. Both girls approached him, one with a pensive smile on her face.

She held up her hand. "Would you sign my program?"

With a chuckle, Carey replied, "Sure!"

After scribbling his name on the cover of the program, he handed it back to her.

She looked at it and asked, "Your name is Apollo?"

"I go by that sometimes."

He was about to turn away when he looked down to find another program thrust in front of him. He signed that one, too. As he signed it, Carey looked to the side. People had quickly formed a line to get his autograph.

Smiling and chuckling again, he signed autographs for several minutes. Along the way, he received numerous compliments on the Esquire inspired photo as well as several others he had yet to see.

Instead of a program, one man handed Carey a thick soft cover book to sign. He'd opened it to a page showing a picture of Carey leaning back against the white cube. His t-shirt was pulled up to his neck, exposing his chest. Naked from the waist down, his erect cock was on full display.

"Where'd you get this?" Carey asked, stunned but no longer surprised at anything.

"They're selling them up front."

As soon as he could, Carey broke away and started to head up to the front of the gallery. Along the way, he stopped briefly to look at another large print featuring him. He barely had time to look as he was accosted by more autograph seekers. This one was part of the series Hathaway had taken from the ladder. On his back, stretched out with a slight curve to his hip. Hands behind his head, eyes closed. Only the upper inch of his pubic hair was visible at the bottom of the picture.

Next to it: the original photo from Rolling Stone Magazine of someone by the name of David Cassidy.

After he was able to nudge his way to the front of the gallery, Carey saw a table piled high with shrink wrapped books. A sign advertised, "Catalogues $50. Bonus Content."

The books were being sold at a frantic pace. The two people working the table couldn't keep up with the line that had formed. Another sign on top of a stack of catalogues read, "Adult Content. Must be 18 or Over."

Boldly walking up to the front of the line, he grabbed a book.

"The professor told me to take one."

One of the workers looked up with a serious look on her face followed by a surprised expression. She just nodded.

With the book under his arm, he walked out of the gallery.

When he got back to his dorm room, he flopped on his bed, ripped the plastic off of the book, and paged through it. Most of the pages included photos displayed at the exhibit along with a more revealing version. For example, the last photo Carey saw at the exhibit with his arms over his head and a peak at his pubic hair was accompanied by one similar with him completely naked. His pink, raw, and very erect cock prominently in view.

Micah's photos were particularly erotic. Feminine, but not trying to cover up his masculinity. They unashamedly displayed both his limp and erect cock and balls, depending on the photo. There were also pictures of other men and women, some looking dangerously young. Carey and Micah seemed to be the stars of the show, however. There were way more of the two of them than of any of the others.

Carey smiled as he laid back and dipped his hand down the front of his pants to stroke his hard cock. How many other people were getting themselves off right now while they looked at this book?

After he orgasmed, he rolled over, turned out the light, and slept long and hard.

He put up with all of the shit the rest of the semester. Actually, he kind of enjoyed it.

"Hey Sterling! Wanna see mine?"

"Pencil dick!"

A girl held her hand across her mouth and whispered to a friend, "There's that guy."

He gave them a big goofy smile.

Nasty looks from girls, some guys, too. He didn't give a crap. He also got some looks and smiles of admiration.

The semester came to a crashing conclusion. Exams, papers, lots of last minute stuff.

When it was over, he packed his stuff, threw the catalog in the box with his grandfather's magazines, put most of it into storage for the summer, and headed home. Time to turn the page.

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