(This is the last of the Will series. Thanks for putting up with it.)
I’ve never been one of those romantics who believes in One True Love. Any adult with a certain maturity and an openness of emotion encounters a number of people throughout a lifetime who, if they were to communicate and work hard together, could form an admirable and loving partnership.
Life is abundant in its offerings, and anyone who’s not a hermit or a misanthrope, if he keeps his eyes open, will spot many chances for not one, but many true loves. I’ve fallen in love many times in my life, and recognize and honor the feeling for what it is—a joyous thank-you to the heavens for the plenty in my life. I loved Spencer. I loved Will. Neither man made me want to throw over my longer-lasting, much deeper relationship. (I might not believe in monogamy, but I believe in commitment.) But while they lasted, I loved as best I could.
After his return from the failed attempt to become a monk, Will found a boyfriend. He was a younger guy, chubby, naive, only two years older than his son. The pair broke up and got back together with roughly the same frequency and regularity as the high and low tides, but during the good times, they seemed to be compatible together. Will and I were still friendly when we saw each other, though we hadn’t had sex for well over a year—long before he’d gone off on his aborted holy mission. I’d moved on to other fucks. My butthole had begun to close up again.
Then one Saturday afternoon, I went to the baths. I seem to recall being lonely that day, and restless, and not even so much horny as in need of human contact. So I drove down the freeway, rented a room for the afternoon, stripped down, and sat on my bed with the door open and the lights low. Men passed by. Some slowed down, others whizzed by.
After a long time, one man stopped in the doorway and leaned there. He was naked, save for a skimpy towel around his waist and a dark blue NYPD baseball cap. His hands rested on his hips. He stared at me. “I saw you come in,” he said in a low voice.
It took me a moment to realize it was Will.
At the time, Will to me was the essence of masculinity. His hairy body was like Alec Baldwin’s in his prime. Though his waist was slim, his chest was broad and muscular. It had been so long since I’d seen him undressed that it was difficult for me to look him in his brown puppy-dog eyes.
I kept wrenching my own eyes away from Will’s perfect pecs. He looked like an gym equipment model come to life. “So, I’d been thinking about coming to this place for a while,” he said to me, since I was still obviously too surprised to speak. “But I didn’t really think it would be my thing, and then I ended up near here for dinner, so I said what the hell, and then I saw you walk in, and wow, here you are.” He looked down. It was obvious he was mentally adding the word naked to his sentence.
“Yeah, here I am,” I said. My arms folded over my body like a Botticelli Venus. “And here you are.” I felt embarrassed by his presence, though it was obvious we’d both come for the same reasons.
“So . . . you wanna make out?” he asked, finally. Tentatively. As if he expected a no.
My hands trembled as I pulled him in and closed the door. I instantly remembered all the things I loved about my previous times with Will. The smell of him—soap and faded cologne and armpit and crotch. The way his hands touched me. The feel of his mouth on my body and his lips on mine, soft and needful. The taste of his salty skin. The way he enjoyed holding me down, even as a formality I protested and begged him to slow down a bit, before forcing himself inside me when he’d had enough foreplay and couldn’t hold off any longer.
The way he fucked, long and deep and rough, his nails digging into my shoulders and his hot breath on my neck as he pushed and panted his way to orgasm. Then afterward, turning me over and wiping me off, and gently using his mouth to help me climax. Once I’d shot, he held my cock in his mouth until it was completely soft, and crawled up beside me.
I felt sad. Sad that I didn’t have twin lives to lead, with him dominating one. Sad that I spent my time with him in regret, instead of enjoying him as the blessing he was. I felt sad that I thought of sex with him as something that’s bad for me, like a rich dessert that I enjoy but deep down suspect I shouldn’t have.
“This is the worst of all possible places to have had this reunion,” he said, as both of us listened to the crappy music thumping from the loudspeakers.
“You’re the best person I could have met here, though,” I murmured, still sore and dozy from exertion.
“That’s a little over the top to say, don’t you think?”
I laughed. “It did sound cheesy. But you know I think you’re one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle-hearted people I know, though. I’ve never kept that a secret from you. Even when we weren’t, well. . . .”
“I know, I know,” He lay there for a moment. “And you are loyal, obedient, thrifty, brave. . . .”
“Liar. I bet you were a boy scout, weren’t you?” I asked, suddenly sure of it. I could see him as a kid in the uniform. “I bet you were an eagle scout.”
“No, no,” he laughed. “Never an eagle scout, though I was a boy scout for a while." He paused. "Do you want to hear my boy scout story?” I nodded, and he put his arm around me as he murmured in my ear.I felt safe in his arms once more, and luxuriated in the sensation of his warmth, the rumble of his voice, the fur against my back, his presence. “Okay. I went through cub scouts and then Webelos and then into the boy scouts—I’ve never told this story to anyone before. You sure you want to hear it?”
It felt like we were in the dark again, at his old bachelor apartment, in the early days. The days when our love had been pure and unaffected by awkwardness. I smiled. “Of course I do.”
“Well, okay, but you’re the only person in the world I’ve ever told this story to.”
I nodded, honored.
“I joined the boy scouts and everything was cool at first, then within a couple of weeks the scoutmaster said that we’d be having a boy scout jamboree. Some of the other kids got excited about that. They started holding up their fingers like this.” Will closed his thumb and forefinger into a circle, and then held up his three remaining fingers in the traditional OK sign. “I didn’t know what it mean, but it was like a secret signal from the kids to the scoutmaster. They had this tradition of de-pantsing the new kids at jamboree, you see, and they were asking the scoutmaster if they could. He gave them the signal back, telling them it was okay. You’re sure you want to hear this?”
"Stop asking me that."
“I didn’t know it until the week before, but the jamboree was like a camp, except just for the weekend. My dad went along as a chaperone. It was cold, and we were all put into these cabins that weren’t much warmer. One of the things they did right off was to tell me and the other new kid from our cabin was to go looking for a ‘bacon straightener.’ We were going to have bacon for breakfast in the morning, you see, and they needed this bacon straightener to make it. There wasn’t such a thing of course. We went to the cabin they told us, and they said, ‘oh, the bacon straightener’s in cabin thirteen,’ and then we’d get to cabin thirteen and find out they’d lent it to cabin eight, and so on.”
I smiled and nodded, expecting the story to go on in the same comic vein.
“So they make us go from one cabin to the next until we’d gotten to all of them, and were catching on. Finally we get to the last destination and we’re cold and tired, and these guys grab my friend and they start ripping his pants off. He was yelling and screaming and it sounded like the most horrible thing in the world. Then they started in on me, but they only got as far as taking off my shoes before I struggled free and ran off.”
I’d always hated the cruelty of boys, growing up. “Fuck,” I said.
He had to clear his throat before he continued. “I don’t know why I was so ashamed. I was only what, eleven or twelve? I was a shy kid, and Catholic, and I didn’t want other guys seeing my body. So I ran off in the woods and wouldn’t come back. I only had my socks on. It started to rain, and it was freezing cold.
“At last when I couldn’t stand it anymore, I went back. It was a couple of hours later. I was soaking wet. All the kids were standing out in front of the cabin with the scoutmaster, and my dad was there too. I walked up, all cold and wet, and my dad just looked at me. He said, Why didn’t you just let them take off your fucking pants, you little shit? Then he hauled off and slapped me across the face. He hit me so hard that it left a mark.”
I held my breath. I hadn’t expected it. It was only then that I remembered he’d never, ever mentioned his father to me before. I’d heard about the rest of his family, but not about his father.
Will was quiet for a moment, and his voice was husky. “I don’t know what upset me more. The fact that he didn’t mind slapping me in front of all those other kids, or the fact that he thought I should’ve just let them de-pants me. So we went home after the jamboree and two weeks later I told him I didn’t want to be in the boy scouts anymore." He paused again. "And that’s my boy scout story.”
I thought for a moment, and said what I was feeling. “That was a terrible story.”
He chuckled, sounding as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “Well. Yeah. I don’t know why I wanted to tell you that.”
But I knew.
He’d told me that story because he was afraid of me. He felt vulnerable, after letting himself have sex with me after we’d been separated for so long. He was that cold and wet boy who’s spent two hours out in the woods. He was worried I would slap him down, or that I’d set him up for humiliation.
Will was still that little boy scout, who’d run away into the woods and come back with his tail between his legs. He was still that kid who was perpetually frightened of doing wrong, when all he’d wanted to was save himself. He’d handed me the key to himself by sharing that story. I turned and kissed him deeply to thank him for the gift that he probably never even knew he’d given.
It was the last time we kissed, as it turned out. The last time we made love. It felt like closure, though. It felt like the end of a mystery, when much is explained and loose ends were tied. I took it for what it was, and folded it up and stored it away, so I could remember it later.
I often noted that Will had looked at me with skittish, frightened eyes—the eyes of a frightened doe in the woods, suddenly encountering a hunter. Now I knew they were really the eyes of a frightened boy scout, afraid of the mean boy who might yank the pants from him.