I was reminded of an incident the other day, when talking to a friend on the phone.
When I was a kid, my dad made me into a lawn-cutting entrepreneur. Partly it was to teach me responsibility and the workings of a business—almost immediately he was making me keep a chart on graph paper of the jobs for which I was contracted, as well as a record of my payments. Included in his life lessons, too, was training on the concept of overhead. From the money I made when I trundled out our family’s own lawn mower for another neighbor’s yard, I had to pay for gas and a twice-yearly mower tune-up. The record-keeping was very anal, but I certainly learned how it was done.
My dad’s other goal in putting me to work was to provide cheap labor for members of our church. The church in which I grew up did not exactly have a youthful congregation. A large percentage of members were either well-seasoned academics, or retired faculty from the local Presbyterian seminary in our neighborhood. My father reasoned that there was no reason for frail seventy-year-old Mrs. Appleby, whose late husband had taught Latin for forty-odd years before passing away, to be pushing a lawn mower around her back yard when young, hardy, shiftless me could be doing it. “You want that old woman to have a heart attack and die over the lawn mower and roast there like a side of barbecue?” he’d ask in one of his less subtle moments of argument. “Huh? Do you?”
So from the age of fourteen until I went to college, I mowed. I mowed poor Mrs. Appleby’s yard, and I mowed the yard of the equally spindly elderly sisters down the street, and the yard of plump Mr. Ogilvie, who would bake while I attacked his grass and then give me a handful of oatmeal raisin cookies, after. I shoved that hateful mower over what seemed like most of the little city in which we lived, despising the scent of hot fuel mixed with chopped greenery. (And to this day, I absolutely hate mowing the lawn. It is the one household task I refuse to do. So far I’ve gotten away with it by pretending to be uncertain about how the electric mower works. Ssshh. Our little secret.)
Of all the houses I took care of, the Morgenfelds lived at the greatest distance. Their charming house sat on a solid acre and a half right on the edge of the seminary. Mr. Morgenfeld was a curly-headed, bespectacled professor specializing in the history of Christianity in Scandinavia. To my fourteen-year-old self he was positively ancient—so I’m guessing that he was roughly fifty. His wife was a pretty, older Danish woman with translucent pale skin and naturally pink cheeks, who used to say that Mr. Morgenfeld was such a stereotype of the absent-minded professor that they’d taken their particular house so that when he forgot to meet his classes, all he had to do was run across the street to reach the lecture hall.
The Morgenfelds’ lawn was so enormous that cutting it usually netted me twelve dollars instead of the usual five. It took seemingly forever, too, as I pushed their dollhouse mower through the weeds. (I preferred using their equipment, so that I didn’t have to deduct overhead from my fee.) For the first four or five times I mowed for them, I resented every moment of it. Nice people though they both were, I grumbled obscenities in my head while I mowed, wondering what kind of stupid people were stupid enough to buy such a big house with stupid grass that grew back week after week.
I didn’t say I was logical. I said I was fourteen.
It was perhaps in my second month of mowing for them that everything changed. Mrs. Morgenfeld had a secretarial job at a magazine connected with the seminary, and tended to be gone in the daytimes when I was doing the yard work for them over the summer. I’d tackled most of the house’s acreage and was working on the back yard, sweating and muttering and sneezing all at the same time. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught motion behind the French doors that led to the Morgenfeld’s patio.
I turned my head not so much out of curiosity, but from reflex, wondering what it was. The doors opened into Mr. Morgenfeld’s study, and were lined with long lacy draperies that could be pulled to the sides to admit light. They were mostly closed, then. One of them was swaying, as if from the wind, or an invisible hand. I didn’t think anything about it, right away. A few minutes later, though, when I’d paused for a moment to wipe away from the sweat from my face with the hem of my T-shirt, I saw the curtain jerk. Someone had been behind it, pulling it back to watch me, and had dropped it when I’d looked over. And that someone was Mr. Morgenfeld.
Curious now, I kept my eye on the back doors whenever I came near. As my angle of vision changed, I could tell that Mr. Morgenfeld was standing behind the lacy curtain, staring at me. At first I thought that perhaps he was just checking up on my lawnsmanship. Then, gradually, I realized he was doing what men do when they’re alone. He was masturbating.
I could tell because, for one thing, when he thought I wasn’t looking his way, he would lift the curtain with one hand and make it easier to see that he was standing there in his shirt and his white briefs. His pants, presumably, were either completely off, or around his ankles. Grumpy and not thrilled about cutting grass I might have been at that age, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew that there were a lot of men—a lot of married men—who enjoyed looking at guys younger than themselves. Enough of them had fucked me in the parks, or fed me loads in the restrooms around the city. It surprised me that absent-minded, horn-rimmed Mr. Morgenfeld was one of them. But it surprised me only a little.
When I finished up a few minutes later, I had a boner in my jeans that wouldn’t quit. My father had told me never to cut lawns in shorts, because if the spinning blades passed over a rock or branch and sent it flying, the projectile would slice off my leg if it didn’t have the protection of a thin layer of denim. The advice was perhaps kindly meant, but the fact I never questioned its practicality in the middle of Virginia’s hundred-degree summers meant that I was usually sweating like a pig but the time I was done. Mr. Morgenfeld answered the front door with his pants on, but there was a spot of moisture at a certain point on his right leg that told me he’d either just shot a load, or was pumping out enough pre-cum that it had stained when he’d gotten dress. I accepted my twelve dollars, got the hell out of there, and went home and masturbated furiously, thinking about being watched.
The next couple of times I cut Mr. Morgenfeld’s lawn, I kept an eye on the back doors. Sure enough, behind the curtains, Mr. Morgenfeld lurked. He’d draw back the lace when he thought I was too far to see, and would masturbate while he watched me push the mower. I couldn’t spy his dick, but I could see his hand working over it. Sometimes the curtain would jiggle in time with his stroking. Suddenly cutting the Morgenfelds’ lawn had gotten a lot more interesting.
It was perhaps the third cutting after my positive attitude change that I decided to do something about the situation. I don’t know how I knew it—I didn’t have any exposure to porn of any kind, and this was in the distant prehistoric days before the internet—but somehow I had an instinct that the dirty old man spying on the lawn boy was one of the hoariest cliches in the book. I didn’t care. I decided to put on a show for the guy.
Midway through my lawn cutting I stopped the mower beneath the shade of the catalpa tree in the middle of the back yard. I took off my T-shirt slowly and languorously, making sure to stretch my arms over my head and show off my torso. Then I used my shirt to mop off not only my face, which was drenched in sweat, but the rest of my body, which pretty much was not. In a voice honed by two community theater productions, I projected loudly, as I announced to nobody in particular save the catalpa, “Whoo! It sure is hot today!”
Oh, I was a little ham. I was one ten-gallon hat away from being a one-boy touring company of 110 in the Shade. Thinking back on it, I’m vaguely embarrassed for myself. I was a tall, skinny blond kid with enormous glasses, long hair, and no real body to speak of, and yet I was convinced I was putting on a strip tease that rivaled Gypsy Rose Lee. My little pantomime had really done the trick, though. I wasn’t facing the French doors, but from the corner of my vision I could see Mr. Morgenfeld standing not behind the curtain, but unshielded and looking through the partly-open door in the darkened study, his right hand clenching and releasing the dick poking out of his pulled-down briefs. Only when I stuffed my T-shirt in the back of my jeans and proceeded to start mowing again did he step back behind the curtain.
I was a smug little bastard. I loved knowing that I had him watching my every move. The taste of triumph motivated me to boldness. I made up my mind I was going to do something about it.
I didn’t really have much of a plan. But when my circuit took me by the patio again, I made up my mind. Without much warning or thought, I slowed the little mower and let its engine sputter to a stop. Then I marched up the grassy rise, crossed the paving bricks, and pulled back the door that was already slightly open. I heard a yelp, followed by the stumbling of feet. “Hello?” I said. “Mr Morgenfeld?”
“I’m here, honey,” he replied, trying to sound as normal as possible. It’s not uncommon, in the Southern city in which I grew up, for an older man to call a younger one honey. Last spring when I visited my old home town, the elderly guy behind the CVS counter wished me a good night with the endearment after I’d bought razors from him. It’s only at those moments I realize how much I miss the friendly custom. “My goodness, it certainly is hot,” he said, in his mild-mannered voice. “You’ll have to excuse me! I don’t know what happened to my. . . .”
If he’d intended to say pants, I could have answered that question for him. They were lying crumpled on the floor by the doors, complete with belt. I had to step over them to enter the study. And there, in the middle of the room, sitting on an ottoman with his legs crossed in a vain attempt to hide his very visible erection, was Mr. Morgenfeld in nothing but a worn dress shirt, dark socks, and a pair of white briefs.
I remember that I’d expected to be cooler in Mr. Morgenfeld’s study, once I was out of the heat and the sun. His office was stuffy, though, and not as chilly as the rest of the air-conditioned house. The only circulating air came from the door I’d just entered. I’d actually been more comfortable outside, moving around and keeping a light breeze on my face and skin. “I didn’t bring any water,” I told him. Can I get something to drink?”
It was a lie. I’d left the house that morning with my father’s old army surplus canteen, which was in kind of gross condition, never kept anything cool, and always imparted to whatever was inside a dark metallic taste like swamp water. I’d left it out beneath a bush, though, and if challenged, I was prepared to say it was empty. Mr. Morgenfeld didn’t attempt to contradict me, though. Instead, in a strangled voice, he choked out syllables until finally he managed to say, “Well, um, sure, honey.” I didn’t make a move to find the kitchen on my own, so at last he had to rise from the ottoman and expose his arousal.
He was still hard, that much I could tell. He kept his hands crossed over his crotch and remained hunched over in an entirely unnatural position until he’d gotten to his feet, and then whipped around to turn from me and scamper out of the room. With pity, I noticed he had a tiny hole in his white underpants the size of a pinky tip.
I felt very much in control that day, I remember vividly. I often did, with older men. Very seldom did they want to take charge when they were with me; I had to give them permission to do what they wanted. Sometimes it was harder work than mowing lawns. I was entirely without guilt or remorse as I stood and waited for what felt like a very long time for the man to return from his kitchen. When at last he did, bearing a cheerful decorated glass filled with ice and Country Time pink lemonade, his hand shook as he proffered it. “Mrs. Morgenfeld won’t mind if you take that right outside,” he suggested.
Unfortunately for him, I was single-minded enough not to take the hint. I took the drink and sat right down on an overstuffed armchair, where I slumped back, spread my legs, and took a slow and deliberate sip of the too-sweet liquid. Plainly uncomfortable, he sat back down on the ottoman opposite, nervously cracking his knuckles. I let my eyes drop down to his open legs, where his dick was bulging in his tighty whities. He’d softened some, but not by much. At my glance, he lifted one leg and crossed it over the other, at the knee. “So are you looking forward to school?” he asked.
I shrugged. We sat in silence for a few moments, me taking minuscule sips of the lemonade, he anxiously tapping his fingertips upon his hairy kneecap. Mr. Morgenfeld wasn’t a bad-looking guy, I decided then. The glasses and his profession had made me dismiss him as a sort of knock-off of my father. He might have been a little older than my dad, but he had a good face, behind those thick rims. And the curly hair was pretty cute on a man his age. Yeah, I thought to myself. I wanted to do this.
“What grade will you be in?” he asked. I didn’t answer. Instead, I placed the glass down on his coffee table, prompting him to uncross his legs, lean forward, and find a coaster for it. I decided to use the move that I typically used in the park or when I was street cruising, which was to let a few of my fingertips move to the place where my cock head lay beneath the denim of my jeans. His eyes flicked from my face down to where my legs were spread, then hastily back up again. “Do you have a favorite subject, honey?’
I’d been semi-hard before, but my bold action made me feel like a bad, bad boy. My dick swelled so that its bulge was visible. I curled my fingers slightly and rubbed against the underside of my shaft.
Mr. Morgenfeld gulped visibly. “Don’t you like the lemonade?” he asked. “Do you want something else? Iced tea?”
“Your dick,” I said. Then, more loudly, "I want your dick."
I’d thought it was a smooth, improvised line when it popped into my head. It shocked the hell out of Mr. Morgenfeld, though. “My . . . my penis?” he asked in a choked voice, so sincerely taken aback that for a moment I thought I’d gotten the wrong idea entirely about him standing in the doorway masturbating as he watched me—like, maybe he had the itchy heartbreak of psoriasis down there?
But no, I knew I was right. I had good instincts about these things. “I want it,” I said. When he didn’t say anything, I scooted forward from the armchair, dropped down to my knees, and parted his knees with my hands.
He stopped me in a panic, holding one of my hands very tightly in his while he stared into my eyes. His legs went rigid. Then, just as suddenly, he let go of my hand and let his legs go limp, so that I could continue to open them. The bulge in his pants thickened and twitched. Again, he halted my progress. “I don’t think you know what you’re doing, son.” Oh yes, I did. I ignored his words. “Have you . . . have you done this before? You can’t have.”
I’d gotten far enough with him that I knew he was going to go through with it. If he’d been serious about throwing me out, he would’ve done it long before. I stripped off my damp shirt so that my naked torso glistened in the office light. I didn’t care what I had to do. I was determined to get that dick.
I was reminded of that game kids play in which they slap one hand atop each other’s, and then remove the bottommost from the stack to slap on top, faster and faster. I’d use one hand to pull open his legs and he’d stop me; I’d use my other to push at his other leg, and he’d stop that. Then we’d start the whole thing over again. Finally I reached the goal, though, and grabbed a handful of his dick through the white cotton. It was mostly hard, but still spongy around the head. “You can’t want to do this, honey,” he said.
“Let me just see it,” I begged.
After a moment, he relented. He stretched out the waistband so that I could see his penis. It was uncut, which was a rarity in that particular area of the south. Mr. Morgenfeld had some of the biggest balls I’d ever seen, as well—a dangerous shade of red, they were. And his dick was thicker than just about any I’d had. It couldn’t have been any more than six or six and a half inches, but it was a hooded monster, and I wanted it. “Now, that’s enough of this nonsense,” he said firmly, trying to regain the upper hand. “Curiosity in a boy your age is natural, but. . . .”
“Let me suck it.” It wasn’t a request. I was announcing my intentions
He seemed to realize how deadly serious I was. “You can’t . . . you shouldn’t. . . .”
It was too late. He wasn’t seriously fighting me off. His protests were of the token sort that I was already learning men make out of weak habit and for the sake of propriety, than out of any real desire. Before he could really make a genuine resistance, I had a mouthful of that uncut dick, and a mouthful only, as he attempted to keep me off it by remaining bent at the waist. Gradually, however, and as he realized I wasn’t going to relent, he settled back in the chair. His legs parted more easily. He allowed me access to another inch, and then another, and finally the entire shaft.
Mr. Morgenfeld had a great dick, that’s for sure. I’ve always been surprised throughout my life when the most nebbishy and nerdy of men have the most solid and beautiful of tools. His hand rested on the back of my head for a moment. Then he jerked it away, as if afraid to betray the need such a simple gesture betrayed. At that moment I didn’t care whether he whispered endearments to me or treated me like shit. I just wanted to suck. I wanted his dick in his mouth, and I wanted his load, in that order. The style in which he gave them to me didn’t matter, so long as I got them.
I could tell by the way he wheezed and huffed that I wasn’t going to be sucking him long. At least he’d stopped fighting me, and was letting me do my job. I didn’t even have to use my hand on him. My mouth was doing the trick. I’d been sucking him for all of about a minute when his breathing became louder and more forced. He attempted to back away from me and pull his dick out of my mouth, but there was really nowhere for him to go. Besides, I wasn’t going to lose the load I’d worked so hard to get. Even as he bucked and attempted to reclaim his cock, I latched onto it with all my might. I felt his balls contract and shift and his hips involuntarily begin to lunge forward. Then I found my mouth flooded—absolutely flooded—with several large gushes of semen. The fluid was salty and thick and seemed to keep coming. I’d rarely met anyone who’d given me so much to eat, but in several gulps I swallowed it all. Only when it was down and I’d sucked off the last bits from the tip did I finally let loose of him.
He was staring at me, shaking his head. “You haven’t done that before. Right?” I didn’t answer. I grabbed my T-shirt and pulled it back on while he watched. I didn’t bother tucking it in. While I tried to tame my sex hair, he cleared his throat. “Man who lieth with man as he lieth with a woman, commits abomination.” My eyes evaded his and I edge toward the door. I didn’t hold much truck with the religious intimidation, not even then. If I was going to get a hypocritical lecture from someone who'd enjoyed his blow job as much as I, then I would rather walk out before it started. To my surprise, though, Mr. Morgenfeld followed up the verse with a chuckle. “But Lord above, seldom has sinning felt so good.”
I left Mr. Morgenfeld’s house with a twenty-dollar bill in my pocket that day, and the taste of his sperm still in my mouth.
I would’ve settled for the usual twelve.