"Does that sound like a good idea to you? Ready to do a little work?"
"Ummm, Excuse me? Sorry I wasn't listening." I turned and looked toward Theo Kline, shielding my eyes from the sunlight bounding off the tiles surrounding the pool at the ranch.
I had been daydreaming, in anticipation of delights to come and in frustration at not having them there already. And my mind had been flooded with what I'd just seen and experienced--the enticement and frustration of it all.
I'd risen from the lounge at the pool, with the excuse of needing another drink from the pool house, but really to release the tension. Theo and Charles Tilton, sitting on each side of me, had been yammering about their coming production, the start of which now was only days away. The movie was tentatively titled High Timber, and it unabashedly was an adventure film ostensibly to provide a beefcake fix to sighing housewives but really, in the undercurrent of Hollywood fare, to provide beefcake for their wandering husbands enticed by other wandering husbands packaged in the eternal strong men fighting evil and promoting honest sweat and toil work choices.
My dad was starring in the film. Gordon Fields was the supporting actor. The women stars--intentionally--were of lesser box-office status--and mousey of looks beside my dad and Gordon. The film was to be of the changing of generations of lumberjack heroes in the forests of the northwest, played out as a struggle of the maturing hunk, my dad, and a newly arrived younger hunk, played by Fields, for the affections of the company owner's daughter, played by whoever. It was to be filmed, though, to signal to the subliminal, can-not-be-acknowledged actual targeted audience the struggle for sexual dominance between the two male actors. Of course the men would work shirtless and extensive shooting would be done of them flexing their muscles in logging the high timber.
"It's too high a risk," Kline was saying. I tuned into their conversation now, as they seemed to be talking about something deeper than the shooting of the feature film.
"We could make millions. And I mean double- and triple-digit millions," Tilton countered. "Much more from the second cut than the first. I have outlets. Abroad. They'd lap it up. And they are secretive. They would keep it for themselves."
"I told you about your kiddy porn films, Chuck. It will catch up with you one of these days. Doing this with this film could ruin Scott's career."
"How much career does he have left--at his age?" Tilton asked with a low laugh. His voice was husky, almost honey thick and sluggish. And that's when I was set on edge. He was so engrossed with his discussion with Kline that he didn't realize that he was hunched over me where I lay on the lounge, one hand very near my cheek and the other one laying next to my thigh--but a long, slender finger actually on the side of my bare thigh, gently stroking me.
We both heard Robert cough from a few yards away, and Tilton's finger pulled back, but he remained hunched over me.
"And it would be a nice final payoff for him too--and only a problem if the actual film leaked out to the open public. If it was only rumors of another cut leaking out, that would only add to the coffers of the public version. Come on, think about it, Theo. It's what we've always wanted to do. The Hollywood version and then a director's cut--a director's addition, actually--of Sloan and Fields giving our real target audience what they want. Sex scenes interposed where we only now have a tension that only the select few will see as sexual. Sloan trying to dominate Fields but being mastered by the younger man; Fields giving Sloan a good fucking. Taking advantage of what they're already doing without producing any profit from it. The passing of the baton, Fields' dick the baton. It would even give the film deeper meaning. It would make millions and be an underworld cult film."
"I don't know." It's what Theo said, but both Tilton and I could hear in the timbre of his voice that he was warming to the idea. "I'll run it by Sloan to see what he thinks. I know Fields would go for it. He's been after us to make straight-up homo films with grade A actors and believable, full-plot scripts anyway."
Crisis passed, Tilton looked down at me and I could feel the tip of his finger on the flesh of my thigh again.
"You'll roast, Clint, if you don't get some more lotion on," he said. "Want me to apply it?"
That's when I decided I needed another drink from the pool house. I did want him to apply the lotion. Right then I wanted even more from him. But Robert was there, his eyes boring into me in warning, and Theo was there, giving an admonishing look at Tilton. And I remembered what Theo had said about that edge that the dark, handsome, brooding director already was walking with the law. And it would be barely over a week now before I could freely give what I wanted to give. The question, though, was whether Tilton would want it then. Would I be too old for him then? I didn't know how men like him thought; I didn't know how any man thought--what about me aroused them like it seemed to do. And I wanted Charles Tilton--it was almost an animalistic need to experience him.
It didn't help going to the pool house. In one corner the TV game-show host, Andrew Dix, was sprawled in a chair, pasty-white legs spread, with Emilio knelt between them, working Dix's cock with his mouth. Dix had Emilio's head trapped with two meaty paws, and Emilio was making gagging sounds as Dix brutally pulled the young Hispanic's head into his pelvis.
What really put me off balance was what I saw on a lounge in the back corner of the pool house as I opened the refrigerator and pulled out a Coke. The two were entwined like wrestlers, my dad on the bottom, and one of the younger hunks--someone my dad had called background eye candy for Grade B beach movies--was wrapped around him, dominating him, pistoning him hard and fast--and my dad's hips were rising off the lounge surface in rhythm to the plowing, jerking in an upward thrust with each of the hunk's grunting downward plunges, my dad taking in as much of the hunk as he could with each lunge.
They were locked in a lip kiss when I first noticed them, but the sound of the refrigerator door must have caught my dad's attention, because he looked around. And when he saw me, the only change I saw in him was that his eyes lit up and then smoldered. No sense of embarrassment at all--although that didn't occur to me until years later, when I became fixated on what my dad wanted to do--and had done--that summer. At the time I hadn't been indoctrinated in what embarrassment would look like in a sexually compromising position either.
Without a loss of a single beat, my dad's eyes latched onto mine, and we were instantly transported--each one of us seeing ourselves together but my dad in the role of the hunk and me as my dad. I could almost feel him filling my channel. I ached for knowing how that felt--why men moaned at it.
I snatched my hands away from the Coke bottle and it clattered against the other bottles on the refrigerator shelf. Turning then, I stumbled out of the pool house and around the path to the side and to the back of the pool house, where I leaned against the wall, panting. My hand diving under the waistband of my Speedo and encasing my engorged cock. There was no embarrassment involved, no sense of taboo. Just the image of Robert in my head, telling me it was just too complicated and charged here--to wait until I got back East.
"Well, well, what has you all pent up?" The voice was hoarse, thick with want. I looked up to see Charles Tilton standing at the edge of the path.
"I . . . I just came for a drink," I stammered, snatching my hand from inside my Speedo and pulling my back off the rough, wooden wall.
"I saw that. I saw what you saw in the pool house. I'd decided I wanted a drink too." Then he laughed. "And I saw what you wanted. And it wasn't the drink."
He was there then, in my face. Not touching me, but close to me, his body just inches from mine in front of me, his arms spread around me, his palms flat against the wooden wall on either side of my head. His smile wicked, his eyes full of lust.
He sniffed the air. "You smell nice. The smell of musk. The smell of want. Ready for me, are you?"
I didn't answer. I was trembling with want. He had no idea how much I wanted him. Or any man at this point--but him especially.
His hands left the wall, but only briefly. They reached down and grabbed my Speedo at each side and--still without touching me with his fingers--jerked the suit down to my knees. He leaned back and looked down, and smiled. I couldn't hide it. I was hard for him. Then he was leaning back into me and his hands were back on the wall on either side of my head. He started to dip his face down into mine.
"Chuck!" The voice wasn't angry, but it was strong, demanding. I turned my head to see Theo Kline standing on the path.
A slightly pained expression flitted across Tilton's face, but then the sneery, possessive, entitled smile returned and he casually pulled away from me and backed up to the path.
To show he wasn't cowed, however, he remained standing for a long moment on the pathway. And he just didn't stand. He slipped his own bathing suit off and stood there, cupping his hardened cock in a hand. I gasped at the size of it, far bigger and thicker than anything I'd seen before. And his body took on the form of a satyr now. I'd already seen that he was hairy, with curly black hair running all along his body, but his hairiness was accentuated by the power of that cock and the confident, arrogant look on his face.
"I have a birthday present for you, Clint, right here. A supersized mansplitter worthy of plucking that sweet cherry of yours. You ready for it? You want it? I can tell you want it. You're hard for it. You're trembling for it. I like them younger, but you're worth the wait. You'll be here on your birthday to take all of this inside you? To open to the thrust and thrust and thrust and my fountaining off in your guts? Being as it will be your first time, we'll bareback. You'll love my cocking. You'll get the full service."
With each "thrust" I had emitted a low moan, and an even louder one voiced the "yes" I couldn't say. But as it turned out, I wasn't here on my eighteenth birthday--and it wasn't Charles Tilton who would be my first.
"Chuck. Not now. Not here," Theo said again, calmly. He laid a hand on Tilton's arm, and Tilton laughed and turned and strutted off, swinging his bathing suit saucily in an upraised hand.
Theo looked at me briefly and then also turned and walked away. If he'd stayed a minute longer, he'd have seen my spontaneous ejaculation. I pulled my Speedo up, and, being too agitated to go back to where Theo and Tilton were taking up a solitary station under the umbrellas between the house and the pool again, I turned and stumbled along the path, away from the pool. Robert hadn't been at the pool. Maybe he was in his cottage. I had to talk to someone. Maybe I could convince him to relieve me of this burden. I thought I'd die if I had to wait one more day. If Theo hadn't shown up, I'd joyously have let Tilton take me right there, up against the side wall of the pool house. Two weeks and legality meant nothing to me.
I heard the sounds as I approached Robert's cottage. Not for a moment did I believe it was him, though. I don't know why I didn't; I just didn't. But it was him. He was on his bed, kneeling, chest on the surface of the bed and his butt in the air. Naked. Gene, the blond hunk who I thought was buzzing around our group because of me, was crouched, also fully naked, on the bed, straddling Robert's hips, his beefy hands grabbing Robert by the waist, and fucking him like a dog. He was stroking hard and deep and Robert's body was bouncing around under him with each thrust. Robert's cheek was plastered to the bedspread and his face was turned toward me, unseeing though--because the expression on his face revealed that he was in heaven, walking on the clouds.
I couldn't watch, I retreated and turned, my back to the outside wall beside the door, listening, taking in every stroke and moan and groan and transporting myself to that place. I was jealous. It was both disturbing and intriguing to me that I was jealous. It was Robert I was jealous of. Receiving what I wanted. Being fucked hard and deep by the blond stud I'd envisioned taking me the last two nights as I tried to sleep. Robert getting what I believed I so badly needed.
When the moans had progressed through outcries and subsided into gurgles, I pushed off the wall and walked back to the pool. I dove in and swam across it before hauling myself out of the water and returning to my lounge chair. Theo and Andrew Dix were there. Charles Tilton wasn't. I saw him across the pool, accosting Emilio as Emilio emerged from the pool house, and with a look around to spy me and assure himself that I saw him, Tilton palmed the small of Emilio's back and guided him to the side of the pool house, clearly in my vision.
I watched him put Emilio in the same encasing stance against the wall that he had put me in and reach down and pull Emilio's Speedo down just as he had done with mine. But then he lifted Emilio's legs to hug his hips and, thrusting inside Emilio as the Hispanic youth arched his back and let out an audible groan, he fucked Emilio against the wall, raising and lowering the young Hispanic's back along the rough wood of the wall with the strength of his plowing cock. I could hear Emilio's groans and grunts from across the water. Emilio was looking up into the overhang of the trees, mouth gaping open, crying out his pleasure. But Tilton's eyes were turned toward me. Even then it was me he was fucking in his mind--and not only in his mind; in mine as well.
* * * *
"Excuse me? What did you say, Theo?" I repeated, willing my attention away from the substitute fucking going on on the pool house wall.
"My assistant. I need an assistant for this film we're doing," Theo said. "High Timber. I talked to your father, and he thought it would be splendid short-term summer job for you. Give you a taste of the business. He's rather keen for you to go Hollywood too. What do you say, Clint?"
"Yes, sure, that would be nice," I answered, my thoughts if not my eyes still glued to what Tilton was doing to Emilio in my stead.
"Good, then. We leave day after tomorrow. Up to my mountain cabin. With your father and Gordon and a physical trainer. The two of them need some toning up before we can go north to Eureka. The Pacific Lumber Company's going to let us film up there where they are logging."
Shortly thereafter, Efenia came out of the house to inform Theo he had a long-distance call, and he left us, just Robert and me alone now by the pool, Robert now having returned to my side, glowing, but alone.
"You OK?" Robert asked.
"Yes, sure. Why not?"
"You seem flustered. I feel like I missed something when I went back to my room for a short nap. You want to tell me what happened?"
"Ummm, nothing. No."
But we were both watching Tilton and Emilio at the side of the pool house, where Tilton's upward strokes seemed to be going on forever and Emilio had collapsed now and was just bouncing up and down on the wall like a rag doll. A brief image of how this must be rubbing his back raw flitted across my mind, but even that I found arousing. Sweet and sour; pleasure and pain. I shuddered.
"He wanted to do that to you, didn't he?"
"Yes," I admitted in a small voice.
"And you wanted him to, didn't you?"
"Yes," in even a smaller voice.
"I want him to do it to me too," Robert whispered.
I looked around at him, surprised about where he had taken this--no admonition, no "You mustn't." Just the acknowledgment of how alike the two of us were. And the wide gulf that inevitably separated us because our wants were too much the same. I resented him a bit then. He'd already taken Gene. Now he wanted Tilton too.
"What is it I have that men want?"
"You mean besides being young and drop-dead gorgeous?" Robert said with a laugh. But when I didn't answer, he turned more serious. "They want your innocence, Clint. Did Tilton say what he wanted from you?"
I thought on that a moment, but then I remembered. "He wanted my cherry. He wanted to pop my cherry."
"Precisely. Tilton wants them young and innocent. He wants to take them far down the path. There are rumors about what he does--and that he films what he does and sells it. He will take a young man to the edge--and maybe beyond."
"And yet you want him--you want that?"
There was a moment of silence, and then Robert said, "Yes, I guess so. I want to know where the edge is. And a man like that . . . I want that too."
"Then we really are alike," I said. I shuddered at the thought--not so much at the thought of what Tilton did but at the thought that it blindly intrigued me. "But men. Regular men, not ones with the appetite of a Tilton. Is innocence what they want too?"
"That's what they all want, Clint. But in your case it won't stop there. You have so much more that they will want, even after you've lost your virginity. They'll be attracted to your own want and your own openness for it. That's what brings a man like Tilton buzzing around it. It's the peculiarity of your upbringing. I can tell. I saw it and feared for you in your vulnerability. But I also envy you. Because as you grow older, it will work well for you."
"Your openness and your want. You're so intense. I can see that you're just bursting with want. When men cock you in years to come, they will be aroused to new heights by the joy with which you receive and ride their cocks--and your insatiability in opening your legs for them. You will make men feel like supermen. There's no greater feeling you could give them. And you'll do it all without them losing their sense of your innocence. So each time, for them, it will be like the ultimate--taking your virginity. And the enjoyment they will receive will be multiplied by the enjoyment they sense that you get from it."
"But, it won't be real innocence, will it, Robert?"
"No, no, it won't. But it will be enough for them to feel it is. It will make them supermen and they won't be able to stop sniffing around you. And as long as you are enjoying it, it's all good."
"Then what will be the death of innocence for me? Have I already passed that?"
"No. The death of innocence for you will be when you go looking for it. When it stops being the man tracking and seducing and dominating you--but you going to him and begging for it--knowing that that particular fucking is bad for you, but begging for it nonetheless. But by then, there should be no tragedy in it. You will be ready and will have already experienced the thrill of being thoroughly, wondrously fucked."
"And you, Robert. Will you be--?"
"No, regrettably, I'm sure I will be gone by then." And then he stood, ready to go into the house, signaling that I was ready to go in as well, that we had studies to attend to in the safety of my room.
I looked over toward the pool house as I rose from the lounge. Robert was looking there too. Emilio was collapsed at the base the wall, in a tangle of arms and legs. Tilton was still there, close to him, facing the wall. The curve and length of his cock was still strongly evident. The perfect image of a satyr. He had his eyes on me, still, and he was panting hard.
"It was good that you accepted Mr. Kline's offer to be his assistant on the film between now and when you have to leave for Penn State."
"But you won't be going with us--up to Theo's cabin?"
"No. But it's time. I think it's almost past time for you to be away from your father's house."
* * * *
That evening I was sitting in the lounge, dimly lit except for the lamp on the table next to my chair, reading one of my school texts, reviewing for an at-home test that Robert was setting up for me upstairs. Emilio was in the kitchen with Efenia, helping her to clean up from the supper meal. The light from the kitchen door extended out into the dining area of the lounge, and whenever I looked up at the frame of light, I would see Efenia or Emilio drifting by from one end of the kitchen to another. From here, they looked like they were in a movie, a box of light framed by the dark surround of the dining room wall--a movie showing a calm, domestic setting I had never known, and probably never would know. They were having an animated conversation in Spanish that could have been either friendly or heated for all I knew. I just knew it was enthusiastic.
As I tried to concentrate on the textbook, I heard words unmistakably spoken in anger out in the front motor court of the ranch house beyond the open front door in the foyer. I heard the slam of a car door, the revving of an engine, and then the crush of gravel, as the car jumped away from the house. And then my dad was entering the front door and slammed it behind him.
He went straight to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a stiff glass of Scotch. He was muttering to himself. He turned then and saw me sitting there, and, as only an actor can, he changed his roles immediately and was all friendly and fatherly.
He came and sat down in the chair opposite mine. We were nearly knee to knee and he leaned forward and gave me a brilliant, all-white-teeth smile.
"Theo tells me you've accepted his invitation to be his assistant on High Timber."
"Yes, thanks, Dad. I'm sure it will be fun."
"And you can consider a career in movies while you're watching them being made."
"Yes, there's that."
"And we'll be going up to Theo's cabin on Wednesday. We can spend some time together--alone."
"That will be nice." I wondered where that was coming from. Spending time with me, alone, had never been part of my dad's vocabulary before that I could remember. And at night we were virtually alone right here.
"You know you'll be eighteen in another week."
"And you'll be going off to college soon too."
"Right. Robert's gotten the plane tickets for me, incidentally. I phoned your business agent, but he said no one had talked to him about that--but he and Robert worked it out. They should be ready to pick up any time now. I guess Robert will do that too."
"You're a handsome boy, you know," my dad then said, completely brushing aside the reference to his haphazard fathering--his relying so heavily on someone else to do everything for him. "And it's inevitable that people you come into contact with will know who your parents are. You'll have scads of friends. And many who will want to be with you."
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Be with you intimately, I mean."
I said nothing in response to this. He was leaning in very closely to me now and had his hands laying on the tops of my thighs.
"I suppose you know how it is with me--with men."
"Yes, that's been a bit difficult to avoid--especially since Mother flew off to Norway."
"We have an understanding, you need to know."
"I gathered that."
"But are you all right with that, Clint?"
I searched my mind, and from the depths of my preparation for life I wasn't able to come up with any reason why that wouldn't be OK with me--since I'd absorbed now that it clearly was OK with both of my parents.
"Yes, I don't see why not."
He seemed pleased--and relieved--at my response. And then he gave me a brilliant smile, a smile that made me shudder, but in a sense of anticipation rather than consternation. His suddenly relaxed stance and smile indicated that my response had changed our relationship somehow. I was afraid I knew how, and, interestingly enough, I didn't care. It didn't surprise or frighten me.
"I've watched you, Clint. I've watched you with other men. I do believe . . . you're an extraordinarily handsome and desirable young man, I must say. I--"
"I'm ready with your test." It was Robert calling me from the top of the staircase. I had no idea what he had seen or heard, if anything. But it had the effect of deflating my dad, who sat back gruffly in his chair, a sour look on his face now. His hand went out and gathered the Scotch glass and he took a big swig.
"Dad." I muttered. I didn't know really what I planned to say beyond that. But I knew that if he told me to go up the stairs with him at that moment, I would have done so. And I was on the brink of asking him if he wanted me to come to him in the night--to relieve an insistent itch we both had.
"Oh, go on up to Robert now. You mustn't miss your test." It was a dismissive, petulant command--spoken as if I had done something wrong, had rebuffed him. But I hadn't rebuffed him. And I don't think I would have.
At that moment, Emilio came out of the kitchen and headed toward the sliding glass doors out to the pool area. His quarters were over the garage beyond the pool house. But as he passed our chairs, my dad's hand snaked out and grabbed the Hispanic youth by the wrist.
"Come with me, Emilio. There's something I want to show you upstairs."
An hour later, after I'd taken my test and Robert had gone and I was stretched out on my bed, I could still hear the sounds of sex rolling out from my dad's room, and, if anything, the sounds seemed to be getting stronger. Emilio was becoming more and more vocal. I could tell that my dad was using a whip on him--and that Emilio was probably enjoying it--or at least acting like he did. I couldn't tell with Emilio. The only thing I was sure of was that he seemed ready to do anything to impress anyone who might be a stepping stone for him into the movies.
I'd found the small hand whip in his room days earlier and the restraints he used--and I could see the scratches on the headboard and the posts at the end of the bed where he must have bound men he was with--or been bound himself. And the thought of having sex this way--being bound and at the mercy of another who was being a bit cruel--aroused me. I hadn't mentioned this to Robert beyond our roundabout discussion about Tilton, because I sensed that, as similar as our wants seemed to be, that Robert's boundaries would be reached before mine would. That made me start to think I should have boundaries too--but I was at a loss what those would be. And I had never known how to define boundaries.
I writhed in my bed to the sounds of what was going on in my dad's room. I ached to know what it was, to be part of it--to at least have the chance to decide whether I wanted it too. I thought I heard the crunch of tires on the turning circle at the front of the house, but I couldn't imagine who would be arriving at this time of night--and it could have been just my imagination. My ears were tuned to the noises in my dad's room. The other sound had just been on the periphery. I mulled that for several minutes and finally decided to get up and go to one of the windows on the front of the house and see whether there really was a car there--and to try to determine whose it was.
But when I got to the hallway, I stopped, my attention arrested by the murky appearance of a figure--at least that's the form I had the impression was there. A man's figure. Down the hallway. By the half-open door into my dad's room. Emilio had been crying out in stifled cries that brought to mind the rubber ball gag I'd found with my dad's sex paraphernalia in his rooms. But the cries stopped, abruptly. And did so at the instant I saw the figure and involuntarily called out the name "Robert?" in a stage whisper.
But then the figure was gone--and the door into my dad's room was shut with a sound like a gunshot, pitching the hallway into utter darkness.
I returned to my bed and drifted off into a fitful sleep. I don't remember hearing any more sounds from my dad's room that night.
In the next few days I did try hard, however, to remember all of the events that night, although to anyone who asked I simply said I'd turned out my light after taking my test, plugged in the earphones to my radio, and went directly to sleep and heard nothing for the rest the night.
And my memory on these points was sorely taxed, because early the next morning, when I went out to the pool for my morning exercise before hitting the books again, I was the one who found him--Emilio, floating in the pool, face down, in a cloud of blood.
And then, later, when I was sent to fetch Robert when the police wanted everyone in the household to be gathered, I found his room empty and his suitcase and most of his clothes gone. His car wasn't in the garage either.
I was never to see him again. I was adrift now, on this ocean of new, frightening, and amazing experiences all alone.