Robert warned me that there were dangerous shoals ahead as I approached my eighteenth birthday, but I didn't give what he was saying its full value. For one thing I thought he was too emotionally involved--and that I, in turn, was being overemotional myself.
For Robert and me the end of a life was quickly approaching--and just at the time that we were awakening to each other. It all began to unravel after those three nights I spent with Robert in the motel rather than disappoint my parents' plans by returning to the ranch early from Malibu.
The proximity of Robert to me in those three nights and the inevitability of seeing his body in the close confines of the motel room as I never had seen him before--on top of the shock of seeing both of my parents in flagrante delicto with same-sex partners and within moaning distance of each other--had opened the floodgates of feelings and desires that I had being keeping tucked inside my unconsciousness for years.
I had always known that I was attracted to men--to men, not to other boys my age. And there were no mechanisms in the social makeup of my family or my greater experience--there not having been much greater experience because of the sheltered, yet "few values" life I'd led--to call me off from that direction.
But there also had been no flame, nothing to unleash what I, in my loose upbringing, hadn't seen as any more passionate a desire than my love for chocolate chip ice cream or Lord Titan. Lord Titan was the horse my parents had bought me the year they'd bought Heaven Ranch, the Moreno Valley ranch that had been developed into a showplace by a famous and now-moldering director of early talkies--and later near porn. Such a desire not having been instilled in me as a shameful taboo, it's power of titillation hadn't been built up in me either.
And, more important, perhaps, there had never been an opportunity to develop such an arousal.
My parents had kept me almost completely isolated, with only Robert as a man in my life.
But that was all going to change--drastically--in the eighteenth summer of my life. And the change started to come, like the breaching of a dam, during that three-night exile with Robert following having seen my parents "in the act."
Robert had been sublimating his feelings and desires for me for so long that he wasn't, I'm sure, purposely trying to arouse me and move our relationship to a different, more dangerous level when he was stripped down to his sleeping pants and I first saw him leaning over the basin in the motel room's bathroom and brushing his teeth.
There had been male skin magazines lying about our houses for years. Not having any moral compass available for such things, I had never even thought about whose they were and why they weren't under lock and key. I suppose at the time, I subconsciously assumed they were my mother's. Now, of course, I assume they were my dad's.
But Hollywood is the center of narcissism and exhibitionism. Both of my parents were self-consciously beautiful people--with beautiful bodies--and they surrounded themselves with beautiful, narcissistic people. I'd seen both of them in various stages of undress on the silver screen and thought nothing of it.
I admired the photos in the magazines, and I worked to be like them, which I was able to do with the help of Robert, who was very much into body sculpting himself.
So, I'd even seen Robert stripped down to almost no covering in the six years he was with us. We had a pool at the ranch, and the pool is the center of life in southern California. And at the other house, we had the beach and an ocean. We rarely had more than a bathing suit on--any of us. The flame of sexuality and sensuality was only applied to that and personalized in my response to Robert himself, though, when I saw him move fluidly and in the context of a bedroom situation there in the motel--and then only because it conjured up what I had just seen my dad and the younger actor, Gordon Fields, doing with their naked bodies in my dad's study.
I had encountered them in the throes of a passionate and deep kiss. Both of them naked. Both of their bodies well worked and well cut. My dad had been on his back on the surface of his desk, his mature-bodied, well-muscled legs spread, his toes pointed at the doorway where I stood, mesmerized and in shock from the unexpectedness of what I was seeing. Fields was standing between his legs. My dad had just raised his torso off the surface of desk and he was breast to breast with Fields. My dad had an arm flung around Fields's neck, and they were kissing. All was in suspended animation except for the two forms of motion that focused my attention and burned themselves into my brain: the movement of Fields's plump butt cheeks--a rhythmic forward and backward movement accompanied by a contraction and release of the muscles of his cheeks--and the curling and uncurling of my dad's toes in rhythm with the undulation of Fields's buttocks.
The second night in the motel, when Robert came out of the bathroom, I was waiting there on my bed--naked. He couldn't take his eyes off me, and I could see from the tenting of his pajama bottoms that he was aroused by me. I posed for him in a manner I'd seen in those magazines of my dad's and I tried to give him bedroom eyes, dredging up all of the love scenes I could remember from the movies I'd been permitted to watch.
"Please, Robert. I know you want--"
"Clint, no, not now. Not like this. I shouldn't have--"
And then he was in his bed, the covers pulled up to his neck and facing away from me.
"Robert. I didn't realize. I didn't know. I know you--"
"Turn out your light, Clint. This can't be. Maybe in a couple of weeks, but not--"
"In a couple of weeks? Do you mean after I've turned eighteen, we could--?"
"Let's not discuss this now, Clint. I should have done something else, thought of some sort of other arrangement. It shouldn't have been like this. Turn out your light."
I lay there, brooding, for a couple of hours. By the irregularity of his breathing, I could tell that he wasn't asleep either. And the raggedness of his breathing told me that he was thinking of me and that he wanted what I wanted.
In the dark of the night, I moved to his bed, pulled the sheets up, slipped under them, and stretched my body full length along his, cupping myself into his back. He shuddered and turned, and we went into a frenzy of kissing and groping and running our hands over each other and mingling our moans of want and need.
"Oh, god, Robert. Make love to me. Fuck me. I want to feel you inside me," I cried out.
And then, as quickly as the frenzy had started, it was over, and Robert had pulled away from me and was sitting on the side of the bed away from me, wrapped tightly in the sheets he'd pulled away from our writhing bodies. He flipped the light next to the bed on and turned and scowled at me.
"Fuck you?" he said with a voice that stabbed. "That ain't a gonna happen."
"Why? Because I'm not eighteen yet? Because I'm two weeks shy of that?" I answered with a snort.
"Partially that, yes. But also partly because you have no defenses, Clint--and now I've seen the magnitude of your proclivities. You are a walking disaster. I've failed you as a teacher--not a teacher of math and history, but as a teacher of life. God knows your parents have been hopeless in that vein. But I should have done something. I should have given you more protection. And now it may be too late. And, worse, now I can see what you want--and the intensity with which you want it."
"I don't understand."
"Precisely. You don't understand. And now, oh my god, I've seen where you are headed, the capacities you have for a life of unfettered debauchery. I mourn your innocence, the beautiful child on the edge of the abyss of loss."
"You've lost me. I want you to make love to me. I didn't realize until we came here what I wanted--and who I wanted it from. Is that bad?"
"Not normally, no," Robert answered. "But that's the crux of the problem. You have no sense of 'bad' or inappropriate or what you risk in your innocence and lack of ingrained limitations and sense of self-protection. And you aren't going to get what you want from me."
"Why? Just because I'm two weeks shy of legal age. Because if it's that, I can wait two--"
"No, dammit. Not just that. Because . . . what is it we were just doing, Clint?"
"Making love? Preparing to fuck? I don't know, Robert. You tell me. I'm the inexperienced one here."
"We were fighting for who was going to do the fucking, Clint." And then, having said it, Robert laughed a bitter laugh. After a pause, he continued. "Age be damned--you had me so hot; you've had me so hot for months--that I would have done it. And taken the consequences, if they unfolded. But, Clint, you don't realize that we were fighting for who was going to fuck and who was going to be fucked."
"I still don't understand," I answered dumbly.
"We both wanted to be fucked, Clint. You even said it--you wanted me inside you. That's the moment I realized we weren't going to work out--at least in terms of going the whole way. And anything short of that can certainly wait until it's safe. Then there are things we can do, if you still want--although you are so superhot I'm not sure I can hold you no matter how much I ache for you or that you profess to love me. But, ironies of ironies--considering how long I've dreamed of being with you that way--we don't fit. We both want exactly the same thing. And unless we are more versatile in what turns us on--which I'm not, and I now fully suspect you aren't either--neither one of us, to put it crudely, is going to put a dick inside the other one. And that means neither one of us can be fully satisfied."
"Yes, oh. It's part of the uniqueness of your situation, Clint. You were raised developing no boundaries and yet you are reaching the age of consent with no protections."
"Oh, and that's bad?"
"Not in or of itself, but what you have revealed to me tonight explodes the dangers to come."
"How so? Let me tick them off for you, Clint. You are achingly young and handsome and desirable, you come from celebrity--and a hedonistic celebrity at that--which means you are in a predatory environment, you have no internal checks and balances, and you intensely are open to having a man making love to you. This is walking time bomb fodder. We have little time, but when your parents disperse this summer, I suggest you run for the nearest exit--that you go straight to Pennsylvania, to Penn State, and not look back and get into a more normal, less sexually charged environment."
"So, you're sending me away."
"God, Clint. I'm trying to save you. It's against all of my instincts, all of my wants and desires. And I wouldn't be this selfless if I thought there was a chance you were versatile--that you could love me the way I need to be loved. But I sense you're not, and I can't live with that. And I don't want you to be taken and ruined by all of those predators milling about in your parents' circle of friends. I love you that much."
"I could try. This is all new to me. Maybe I would enjoy--"
"Oh, God, Clint. Oh, god. Give me strength."
And then he was out of the bed, still wrapped in the sheet and reaching for his clothes. He went into the bathroom and closed the door. I heard the lock being shot home.
When he came out he was fully dressed. And for the rest of that night and all of the third night, he sat in a chair, across the room from my bed, while I fitfully slept and pouted.
When we arrived at the ranch on the day we were expected, my parents had no idea I had come home early and then left again. And they didn't even show any curiosity about my reports of the brush fires around the Malibu house. My mother babbled on about the movie shoot she was about to leave for in Norway, and my dad spoke of my eighteenth birthday and how he was inviting a clutch of friends--their friends, my not having any friends beyond Robert--over for a pool party to help me celebrate my ascendance to adulthood.