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A Marine Called Jason

Part IV

Brad and Jase, the Son


Chapter Twenty-Five

The Letters

My hands were trembling by the time I finished the letters. I went outside and sat in the porch swing and gazed at the trees beyond the barn. It didn't soak in right away and I had to re-read the letters.

The news rendered me confused and numb, I was still unable to absorb it. Part of me felt betrayed. Jason had to have known and believed he had a child, yet he never told me--he wrote a letter. I remembered the woman named Ling, in the red dress, who I'd taken to the hospital to fuck Jason when he was injured. There was also a young Vietnamese soldier who Steve had fucked at the Trent. But the names were mere coincidence. I remembered with a cold chill that I'd fucked Ling myself when Jason was gone on a mission. I didn't remember the time frame to determine if the boy could be mine, but he had already acknowledged that the boy was his. So he was Jason's son. Ling's visit to the hospital apparently wasn't the only time he had fucked her, for I had carried that heavy load of his out of the hospital that night in the condom.

I didn't want to feel trapped, but I did. Being responsible for a fifteen-year-old boy was not in my game plan. But betrayed, trapped, even a little angry, it all added up to one thing; I felt suddenly drawn very close to Jason again. It was as if he were reaching out to me after all this time. I read the note from Sister Marie again.

Her desperate plea moved me as much as young Jason's letter, and despite the emotions that churned in my gut, my mind was already operating clearly to sort out all that needed to be done. I was already thinking that Colonel Brown might be able to help cut through the red tape if I could locate him. I wondered if I should tell my parents about the letters. What about Jason's parents, the boy's own grandparents? I decided to hold off. No sense building up false hopes.

I did not respond to the letters right away. A tiny, selfish part of me didn't want any part of it. I had managed to get on with my life and I didn't see how bringing this boy into it would do anything but screw it up again. What was the sense of bringing a live piece of Jason back into my life when it wouldn't be Jason? It would be only a part of him, and I wasn't sure I could live with that. I would be setting myself up for more of the pain and heartache that I'd spent all these years burying. But it wasn't such an easy cut and dried decision. I struggled with it for days, and weeks, till my reason for not responding to the letters became one that I didn't want to give the boy false hope. I would have to find out what my chances were of bringing him to the States before making any contact with the orphanage. In that decision alone, I knew I had lost the battle to shut him out of my life. I suppose I knew all along that I couldn't abandon the boy, but I put up a good and selfish struggle.

My first contact was to Colonel Brown. It took a myriad of phone calls to locate him. Colonel Brown was now a brigadier general. I was thankful and surprised to hear him say that he remembered me.

"I hope you remember me well, sir," I said.

"Absolutely. It's hard to forget the good men who served with me," he said.

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate that. Not many people back home share your sentiments."

"You weren't exactly the most orthodox interrogator I ever had, but you did a hell of a job, and saved a lot of lives," he said.

"Thank you, sir."

"What can I do for you, Courter?"

General Brown listened patiently to my dilemma, and I realized he was taking notes.

"This was your buddy who got killed? This is his son we're talking about?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

He said he thought he could help me, with his contacts in G2. As I hung up from talking to him, I felt my world beginning to turn upside down, because I knew that now that a general had hold of it, things would start to happen fast and there would be no backing out. Over time I had managed, in a manner, to get over Jason. I never forgot him; I thought about him every day, and I still ached for him. But I was able to get on with my life and relegate the past where it belonged, to be brought out on those special times of my choosing, when I wanted to reminisce. And now he was in my life again. Very much alive and in my life, for Jason, Jr. was his flesh and blood.

I still did not write to Sister Maria, and certainly not to Jase. I wished I could write and give them some hope but if it all fell through, then all I would've done was cause them disappointment and heartache. I needed hope myself first.

I was surprised how quickly I heard back from the Army, from a Major Hunt in G2. He said he'd gotten a call from General Brown, and said he could get the wheels turning but he warned that it would be a long process; sometimes two years or more. I didn't care how long it took, as long as I got Jase to the United States. Now that I felt things were on track, I wrote to Sister Marie and included a note to Jase.

Dear Sister Marie:

I did not respond to your letter sooner because I didn't want to offer any false hope that I might be able to bring Jason, Jr. back to the States, only to have those hopes dashed by some bureaucratic mess-up in the paper work. Yes, after a long struggle with the matter, I have decided that I can indeed fit the boy into my life. It will be a long process, I am told; a lot of red tape, as the United States doesn't have diplomatic relations with Vietnam. It will all have to go through the Swiss Embassy.

I have read how the children of American GIs are not accepted in Vietnamese society. I do hope and pray you are able to keep him off the streets till I can bring him to the United States. I am enclosing a money order for $100.00 to go toward his support, or for any purpose you decide. You are better able to make that decision than I. And I will send a like amount each month. Perhaps you could give him a little bit of the money for his own to spend so he would not feel so compelled to go on the streets. And would you please give the enclosed note to him. God Bless You.

Best regards,

Brad Courter

Dear Jason, Jr.

Or Jase; which do you like to be called? I didn't write to you sooner because I first wanted to be sure that there was a chance of bringing you to the States. I knew your father well. He was my best friend in Vietnam. He was the bravest man I knew. Yes, he died in a plane crash, returning from visiting his family in the US. I brought him back and buried him in the state of Ohio. I met your mother once as well. She was a very beautiful woman. I'm sorry you could not find her. I am glad that you were able to find out who your mother and father were, and I'm glad you and Sister Marie wrote to me. It was the right thing to do. I told Sister Marie it will be a long process. It sometimes takes two years or more for the paperwork to be completed, so we will both have to be patient. Meanwhile, I know you are being well cared for by Sister Marie at the orphanage and I expect you to repay her kindness by behaving as she tells you. I know of your problems there in the new Vietnam, being of American blood, but you must keep your head held high. Do not ever forget that your name is Jason Seaborne, Jr, and that your dad would expect it of you.

Your friend,

Brad

The ball was in play, although I would not know, except occasionally, whose court it was in. I received short notes from Sister Marie and Jase almost immediately. I was surprised the mail could move that quickly between our two nations. Sister Marie wrote;

Dear Mr. Courter,

I weep as I write this letter to you. I had no false hope as I waited for you to respond to my original letter. I knew in my heart that you were a man of honor and that you would do the right thing by Jason, Jr. even though you say you struggled with it. I understand government bureaucracy and the necessity of the Swiss being a third party will only delay matters, but we have been and will be patient. I thank you so much for the money you sent. You have no idea how far a hundred dollars will go over here. And yes, I will give Jason some spending money of his own; it was a good idea. God bless you, Brad Courter.

Sister Marie

And Jason wrote;


Dear Brad;

Sister Marie says I may call you Brad since that's the way you signed your letter. I can't tell you how happy and grateful I am that you are trying to bring me to the United States of America. Sister Marie says you are a saint in disguise and I agree. I am also happy to know someone who knew my father. You are the only one and I am so anxious to hear your stories about him. I want to visit where he is buried in the State of Ohio when I get there. Thank you for the money you sent to Sister Marie for the orphanage; she is giving me some of my own to spend. I thank you for that. I am not a very patient person, but I know you are doing everything you can so I will be patient till I can come to the United States. My problems here, of being part American, will not be so bad now, and I will hold my head high as you said my father would expect me to do. Actually, I am secretly proud of my American blood. It makes me bigger and stronger and more handsome than my few secret Vietnamese friends. Thank you again for all you are doing.

Jase

I had to laugh at his remark about being bigger and stronger and more handsome, and I knew Jason must be laughing as well. He sounded just like him.


Chapter Twenty-Six

The Wait and Getting Ready

With time on my hands there was some apprehension about Jason, Jr. coming to live with me. Despite the deep longing to have a son, I had never dared to dream of being a father in the true sense of the word, as in a family. The nearest I had been was being the father image in Ricardo's fantasy. I had no idea how to raise a fifteen-year-old boy. All I had to draw on was my own youth at age fifteen. Of course, he would be older when he finally arrived; I wasn't sure how much older or whether that would be better or worse.

It was a long wait. A year passed, then another. Meanwhile, I tried to get ready for the boy. As I thought the time might be drawing near I started working on his room. I painted. The light fixture was a chandelier type, not suitable for a boy's room, so I replaced it with a ceiling fan and light. I smiled, imaging how "hot" it might get in the room when the boy moved in with all his raging teenage hormones. And with that thought, I opted for a full size rug instead of carpeting; I could only imagine how quickly carpeting would have to be replaced with the loads of cum he would no doubt dump on it in his frenzied jack-off sessions. Yes, I could well remember being a teenager. All in all, I found that I was enjoying the preparations more than the wait.

I was planning to go shopping for furniture when I was surprised one day by a visit from Jason's brother, Allen. He came up on the porch where I was sitting watching the sun sinking behind the trees.

"Brad," he said, his voice strained as he stepped up on the porch and put out his hand.

"Allen," I said. My voice was strained as well. I had not forgiven him for the way he acted at Jason's funeral, but I took his hand when he offered it.

"My parents were killed in an automobile accident," he began.

"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. If I'd known......"

"No, that's all right," he stopped me. "I've been going through things, trying to get the house ready to sell, and I have some of Jason's things in the car, his duffle bag. I thought you might like to have it."

"Yes, I would, thanks," I said.

He stepped off the porch and I followed him, pondering whether I should tell him about Jason, Jr. I wouldn't think he would give a damn, except that his parents were gone now, as well as Jason, and the boy would be family. I felt a painful twinge as he set the duffle bag out on the ground. It didn't look like it'd ever been opened and I was a little pissed that he would get rid of it, but what use would he have for it? I couldn't force him to care. I wondered what was in it. It'd been so long since I had delivered it.

"Well, that was all I wanted," he said. "I don't have a key to the lock," he added.

"That's all right, I can cut it. Thank you very much for thinking of me," I said. "Listen, Allen, I think you should know that your brother had a son over there. I'm bringing him back to the States; the paper work was filed about a year ago. He's around fifteen, sixteen now. I'm not sure."

"Sad. My parents died thinking they had no grandchildren. They lamented often about Jason not giving them grandchildren." His voice was without emotion.

"They had you for that," I said.

He smiled, a tight, thin smile. "Not me. My children would not have filled that gap. Just as I never filled the empty place that Jason left."

"Well, I thought you should know, in case you want to have him in your life. I'll let you know when he arrives," I said.

"No, don't," he said, shaking his head. "Let's leave it. I've buried Jason, I've buried our parents... I would like to leave it at that. I'll be moving away when the house is sold to start a new life."

I nodded, thinking he had not buried Jason. I had. "Yes, I suppose that's easier now that the war is over," I said with a hint of sarcasm. I could tell he didn't like my remark.

"It was as hard for us as it was for you," he said.

I smiled, with a soft chuckle, shaking my head. "Somehow, I doubt that," I said.

"It was an immoral war," he said. "Which we lost. The victory was here at home."

"We didn't lose the war," I said. "The politicians did, with your help. We won every battle in that war. But you didn't know that, thanks to the constant lies that were broadcast." Before he could say anything I held up my hands. "We should end it there. Thanks again," I said. "Listen, Allen, I.... no, forget it,"

"What?" he asked.

"No, forget it, it's a bad idea."

He nodded then climbed in his car. I shouldered the duffle bag and walked up on the porch. As he was driving away I had a twinge of regret that I hadn't said that I would buy the furniture from Jason's room for Jase. It would be nice for the boy to live in the house with his dad's furniture from his room where he grew up. Suddenly I leapt off the porch and went running down the lane waving and yelling. Allen saw me and stopped and began backing up. I ran to meet his car, up to his open window. He had a scowl, probably expecting me to continue our conversation.

"Listen, if you're planning on selling the furniture out of your parents' house I would like to buy the furniture out of Jason's room. For the boy."

"No, there's no need for that. When can you pick it up?"

For a moment I didn't hate the guy so much.

Returning to the house where Jason grew up, and his room where I had stayed when I brought him home, was a bittersweet experience. It hurt, yet it felt good knowing that I would have his dresser, and his bed for his son to sleep in. Jase would be so happy. I'd forgotten about his weights and workout bench and I asked Allen for those too. He readily agreed that I should anything in the room. I was shocked to find that the drawers we took out of the dresser still contained clothes that were left there when Jason had joined the military. Allen saw my surprise.

"Mom left everything the way it was. She was expecting him to come back home," he said. "And when he didn't... well, his room became sort of a shrine." I sensed an accusatory tone but didn't say anything. "We can empty everything out of the drawers if you like. I can dispose of it. Or perhaps you would want to take everything for the boy," he added, with a wave of his arm around the room.

"Yes, I could do that," I said.

He started to unload the drawers but I stopped him. "Leave everything. I'll let the boy sort it out," I said.

Allen was kind enough to help me dismantle the bed and load everything into my pickup. We put the drawers in the seat so stuff wouldn't blow out. I was ready to go. Standing in the yard, I put out my hand to tell Jason's brother goodbye but he didn't take it. I was instantly pissed that he was rejecting it.

"There's one more thing," he said as he turned to go back in the house.

I was stunned when he came out, to see that he had the flag from Jason's casket. I remembered threatening him if any harm came to it. Neither of us mentioned that.

"I didn't burn it," he said as he handed it over to me. Coincidence or not, he handed me the flag so that I would take it with my hand gripping where I'd tucked the empty shell casing. Neither of us mentioned that either.

"Thank you."

He nodded. It would be the last time I would see the man.

I drove to the cemetery on the way out of town. I didn't talk to Jason this time. And I didn't cry. It didn't mean it was any easier, I just didn't cry. It never got any easier, even after all the years that had passed. I sat at the head of his grave, staring at the marker, and my thoughts were enough. He could read my thoughts now, just as he had when we were together.

I decided to clean out the junk room connecting to the unused spare bedroom and turn it into a workout room. Jase liked to brag that he was bigger and stronger and more handsome than his counterparts in Vietnam, he would no doubt want to be bigger and stronger and more handsome than his friends here. Yeah, he was his dad's son, all right. First I had good, durable carpet installed. Then I set up Jason's workout bench and arranged the weights in neat order. I later bought a dumbbell rack and a rack for the plates. I looked at some other pieces of equipment but decided to wait and see what Jase might want. I also bought three large mirrors and attached them to the walls so he could watch himself work out. As a finishing touch I put up pictures and posters of well-built athletes and young bodybuilders that might serve as inspiration.

I was anxious to buy him clothes but I had no idea how long the process of getting him home would take, therefore no idea what size he would be when he finally came to me.

Having Jason's furniture in the room somehow made it complete and ready to be occupied by his son. Through our letters I had learned that Jase liked baseball and football so I put up some sports posters. I also bought football and baseball cards and albums for him to have when he arrived. I bought a stereo system. As a finishing touch, I set Jason's football against the pillows exactly as I'd found it when I stayed in his room that night, and I set the frame containing two pictures of him on the dresser. One was of him in full combat gear and another of him outside his hooch wearing nothing but combat boots and brief boxer shorts, his sweaty muscles bulging. It was impossible to ignore the bulge in the front of his shorts as well. On the spur of the moment I decided to have that one blown up to poster size to put up in the workout room. If that didn't inspire Jase, nothing would. And I waited some more.

I spent anxious moments sitting on the bed in his room, wondering if he would ever occupy it. In his letters, I could tell that Jase was becoming impatient, and that he was growing up; I prayed not too fast. Sister Marie wrote, too, that he was not only growing up, he was growing away from her and she prayed for the day when he could leave Vietnam. More time passed, and I prayed too.

One day I decided to unpack his duffle bag. I had purchased bolt cutters but I'd been putting it off. I got a cold beer out of the fridge before I went upstairs. I pulled the bag out of the closet and set it upright beside the bed where I could sit. A funny feeling went through me as I cut the lock and removed the lock and opened the top flaps. I was surprised that it appeared to be just as I had packed it years ago, and I wondered why no one, not even his parents, had dumped it out to see what was in it. Perhaps it was just too painful for them, and would have served no purpose in their lives. I took out several items of clothing and it was obvious that it had never been touched; no one else could've known the military folds. There was a musty smell as I laid stuff out on the bed. It was a welcome smell. It smelled of Vietnam, and his hooch....it smelled of him.

I didn't expect to find anything out of the ordinary in the bag. I had packed it, after all. There was his second dress uniform and shirt and tie; he'd been buried in the other one; several pairs of combat fatigues, a pair of well worn combat boots, two jungle green caps, rolled up socks, several OD green T-shirts and a couple of white ones, some camouflage handkerchiefs, several pairs of boxer briefs, white as well as OD green. I smiled as I dumped the remaining contents; a pair of tiny camouflage briefs and a pair of white briefs. I wondered why I'd packed them instead of taking them myself along with the other stuff I'd kept out. Then there were the items that I wasn't supposed to ship back, and that I'd forgotten I'd packed. His web belt with ammo pouches, a can of face paint, first aid pouch, compass and navigation pouch, a can of foot powder; one of his canteens, and wrapped in a fatigue shirt was his Ka-Bar knife. Wrapped in another shirt was an NVA bayonet. I sat and touched and fingered the stuff for a moment, smelled the clothes, then left it all till I could decide what to do with it.


Chapter Twenty-Seven

Adam Randall's Visit

I didn't recognize the guy at first when he got out of the cab but if I didn't know him, I certainly wanted to. He was about my size, maybe a little bigger, wearing the uniform of an Army Ranger. It was impressive as hell the way he filled out the uniform.`

"Is your name Courter?" he asked, standing beside the cab with the door open.

I got up and walked to the steps. "Yeah. Brad Courter," I said.

He dug some money out of his pocket and leaned down to say something to the cabbie and pay him and the cab backed up to turn around.

He looked familiar but I couldn't place him as he walked up to the porch. I could almost imagine that the earth shook as his boots hit the ground with such force and determination, his massive thighs bulging against his pants legs. I stood, I know, with a bewildered look on my face.

"You don't remember me," he said.

"Yes, and no," I said. "You look familiar but I can't put a name to the face."

"Randall. Adam Randall."

The name rang a bell.

"I think you knew my dad first," he said with a sly grin. "You and I got acquainted by accident at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. We had to spend the night together in some tiny room when our plane was delayed. Wasn't even room for both of us on the bed, as I recall."

"Well, son of a bitch," I swore as it came back to me in a flash.

He broke out laughing as he put out his hand. "Now you remember."

"Shit, do I ever!" I said as I pulled him up on the porch. "Son of a bitch, how've you been? I see you're still racking up rank and collecting medals."

"Trying to get enough rank to make it worth my while to get out," he said. "I hope you don't mind that I sent the cab away. It must look like I'm barging in."

"Not at all. How did you find me?"

"Well, if you recall, you gave me an address, and I tracked you down from that," he said.

"Have a seat, let me get you a beer," I said as I rushed inside to get us two beers. I was so excited my hands were shaking as I recalled that night at Tan Son Nhut.

"Am I intruding on anything or anyone?" he asked, looking around when I came back out on the porch.

"No, there's just me," I said "Are you getting out, are you on leave....what?" I asked, handing him his beer.

"Between duty stations," he said. "I'm heading to Fort Campbell as a trainer. Gotta keep the line moving, with new young blood coming in."

"Well, if anybody can do it, I'm guessing you're the man," I said.

"Do you live here by yourself, or are you married now?" he asked.

"Not married. Never found the right woman who understood me," I joked.

"As I recall, it would take a very special woman to understand you," he said.

"I see you got married," I said, noticing the ring on his thick finger.

"I was lucky enough to find a woman who understands what the Army is all about. The rest she doesn't need to know about. Her dad is a bird colonel. She grew up with the Army."

"Does she move around with you?" I asked.

"No, she stays in one place, in a little town in Iowa. That's where I want her. I like knowing she's there anytime I'm able to go home."

"No kids?"

"No kids," he said, but didn't explain further. He was looking out toward the barn and the woods. "You've got a nice place here."

"Do you want to have a look around?" I asked.

"Sure, I would like that."

I shoved up off the porch railing. "Your uniform.... I'd hate to see it get messed up, in the barn or in the woods," I said. "We're about the same size; I've got some old clothes you could change into."

"If it's not too much trouble," he said.

I took him upstairs to my room where I laid out a pair of jeans and a gray T-shirt. "I've got some old work boots downstairs so you don't scuff your boots," I said. He paused to look in Jase's room then gave me a curious look.

"I have a boy coming to live with me," I said by way of explanation for the room that was obviously that of a teenager.

"No, I was noticing all the stuff on the bed," he said.

"Oh. I unpacked my buddy's duffle bag after all these years. I left everything out till I decided what to do with it."

"I can tell you what you're going to do with it; pack it all back up and keep it till the next time you unpack it."

"You're probably right," I said.

"You said you've got a boy coming to live with you."

"He's the son of my buddy who was killed over there. I hope to be going over to get him one of these days soon. You know how they feel about American blood over there."

"That's noble of you," he said.

"No, just something I have to do," I said. I left him to change. I thought I could've hung around but I didn't want to seem eager. He was married now, and I had to respect that.

He came down looking as hot as I remembered him from that tiny room at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Fuck, he was hot! Still hard-muscled and so rugged looking, he was practically bulging out of the T-shirt. I wasn't going to press the issue but if he gave me the slightest hint, I was going to be all over him. We went outside and walked back toward the woods. I showed him around the barn first, then we walked to the creek.

"Good for swimming?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah. in certain spots. There's a footbridge down there a ways," I said.

He was quiet as we walked through the thick woods. "This had to have been the ideal place to be when you came back," he said.

"I wasn't looking for it. It just sort of fell in my lap," I said. I laughed softly. "I think it's what kept me out of the VA," I added.

"I've had people ask me if I still think about Vietnam," he said thoughtfully.

The sound of the word, spoken in his deep, authoritative voice sent a chill down my spine. It was as if the name took on a new meaning, spoken by someone else who had been there.

"I almost laugh in their faces," he went on.

"Yeah, how do you stop thinking about it?" I said. "I still wake up with it, and go to bed with it. I don't think of it as consciously as I used to, but it's still there."

"Do you ever have anybody ask you that?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"What do you tell them?" he asked.

"I tell 'em, Yeah, I think about it. I can't quit thinking about it. I never will. But, I've learned to live with it. I've grown comfortable with the memories; even the bad ones. I've learned to stop trying to forget and learned instead to embrace it. I don't know... I guess it just doesn't scare me anymore."

He laughed softly. "One time I had a guy ask me when I was there. You know what I said? Last night. Just last night. I don't think he ever figured it out, but that's how it feels, like I was there just last night." He went on. "My sister says I'm not the same brother who went to Vietnam. My wife says I won't let people get close to me, not even her. They're probably both right. I didn't make a lot of friends over there. Not real friends. Did you?" He leaned back against a sycamore tree.

"No. One, actually, and he got killed. I never got close to anybody after that," I said.

"Yeah, it was risky, making friends," he said. "We were in the business of death. Death was with us all the time. And not the death of, "If I die before I wake." This was the real thing. The kind where boys scream for their mothers while taking their last breath. The kind of death that lingers in your mind and becomes more real each time you cheat it. It wasn't smart to make a lot of friends when the possibility of dying was that real, that close. If you did, they just became a liability."

"I felt it first hand when my guy died," I said. "He was the best friend I ever had. Still is, even though he's gone."

"I got friendly with this one guy... don't even remember his name now," Adam said. "He'd been in country about as long as me. Sort of a hick, but he knew it and he was okay with being a hick. He had sandy-blonde hair and blue eyes, I remember." He chortled to himself. "Tell me, how the fuck do you remember the color of a guy's eyes and not even remember his name? I guess you do when you're looking into his eyes when he gets it. And that's what happened. We'd been talking, only a few minutes before, about what we were going to do when we got back to the world when suddenly he got hit. Shit, I'm talking to the guy and suddenly he's not there anymore and I've got this blood and his brains all over me." He paused, shaking his head with determination. "I never got close to anybody after that either," he declared. "I screwed up that one time. I broke one of the unwritten rules of war; don't get close to people who are going to die. I got too close to him. But hell, I didn't know any better."

He had slid down to his haunches, leaning back against the tree and the silent pause dictated that it was my turn to talk. I had been standing on one leg with my other boot cocked back against a tree. I squatted down on my haunches.

"Ever notice how vets use the term "buddy" when they refer to a guy they spent the war with? Me and this buddy of mine. I think it's because friend even sounds too close.... too intimate. Friend conjures up images of being close. If he's a friend, then you are going to be hurt if he dies, and war hurts enough without adding to the pain. If you get close, you get hurt."

"You called that guy your best friend," he said.

"He was that, and more. He was more than a buddy. And it killed me when he died. Part of me died with him. We should've kept it as buddies, or friends, whatever, it wouldn't have been any easier."

"It still hurts, even when buddies die," Adam said. "I can still see a lot of the faces, although, it's odd, they all seem to have the same eyes now. When I think of them....us....I always see a line of dirty grunts sitting on a paddy dike. We're sitting there, caught in the first gray sliver between darkness and light. It's that first moment when we know we've survived another night, and the business of staying alive for one more day is about to begin. There was so much hope in that brief space of time. It's what we used to pray for. One more day, God. Just one more day. I wonder if we believed God was even listening. I don't remember if I believed it or not."

"I prayed hard a couple of times myself," I said.

"And?"

"It didn't do any good," I said. "I haven't prayed much since then. If you really need it and it doesn't work, then what's the sense of it?"

"I can still hear their voices, our conversations, as if the words just came out of their mouths. I still hear the way we sounded, the hard cynical jokes, our morbid sense of humor. God, we were sick at times. We were fuckin' scared to death of dying, and trying our best not to show it. Hell, even now, some mornings when I get up and go outside, I can still smell it. Like the way cordite hangs on the air after a firefight. Or the pungent odor of rice-paddy mud. That fuckin' mud was so different from the black dirt back home. The mud of Nam smelled ancient, somehow. Like it's always been there." He paused again. "And I'll never forget the way blood smells, sticky and drying on my hands. I spent a long night that way once, holding a buddy while the blood and the life drained out of him, his blood all over me, and it didn't fuckin' matter. I kept holding him long after he was dead. I couldn't let him go. I didn't want him to think he was dying alone in that Godforsaken place. That memory's sure not going anywhere. You know what? I didn't change clothes for I don't know how long. I wore that guy's blood as a badge of honor."

"I just unpacked my buddy's duffle bag the other day," I said. "His brother brought it to me, and it'd never been opened. Everything in it still smelled like Vietnam." I laughed softly. "It was a good smell. I liked it. I missed it."

"I can still remember once looking at the man next to me as a flare floated overhead," Adam went on. "The shadows around his eyes were so deep that it looked like his eyes were gone. I reached over and touched him on the arm; and without even looking at me he touched my hand. 'I know man. I know.' That's what he said. It was a human moment. I mean, for that moment, we were actually human again, not just numbers on a Goddamned army roster. Two guys a long way from home and scared shitless. 'I know man.' And at that moment he did know. God I loved those guys. I said I never got close to anybody, and I didn't. But I loved them, and I hurt every time one of them died. We all did. Despite our posturing, despite trying to stay disconnected, we couldn't help ourselves. It's love. Love for those guys we shared the experience with. And fuck, it's still there," he said, pounding his chest with his fist.

"I understand, but I can only relate to a point," I said. "I wasn't out there in the thick of it so much, like you were, and my buddy. I was in Intel. I was stationed in Saigon and pretty much stayed in the city."

"But we all did our jobs like good soldiers," he said.

"Oh, I was good at my job," I said, without bragging. "My buddy was a Navy SEAL. A sniper."

"Then he would know all too well what I'm talking about. You do, too, only maybe not first hand. I think we all tried our best not to become as hard as our surroundings. We touched each other and said, 'I know.' Like a mother holding a child in the middle of a nightmare. I think we tried not to lose touch with our humanity, what there was left of it. We tried to walk that line. To be the good boys our parents had raised and not to give into that unnamed thing we knew was inside us all. And when we went home we couldn't tell our parents what the good boys they'd raised had done."

I never got the impression he'd come to talk but we had connected enough that he felt he could; talk, with somebody he knew would understand. Maybe he was stalling going home, because there would be no understanding there. Maybe he needed to get it out first, because he still couldn't tell the people back home what their good boys had done. He stopped talking and pulled a limb off a sapling and took his knife out of his pocket. I didn't realize he'd brought a knife along and I must have looked at it funny.

"I'm never without it," he said, holding the knife up. He opened it up and began peeling the thin bark off the limb and he talked some more.

"You want to know what's really frightening? It's a nineteen-year-old-boy who's had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It's a boy who, despite all the things he's been taught, knows deep down that he likes it. It's a nineteen-year-old who's just lost a friend, and is angry and scared and determined that, 'Some fuckin' son-of-a-bitch is gonna pay.' To this day, the thought of that boy still inside me can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling in a cold sweat. If my Mom only knew what I turned into. My wife does, in a way. She doesn't understand it, but she knows."

He stood up and I stood with him and we walked and he went on.

"I still have this picture in front of me, of young men, old beyond their years and they'll never get those years back. They've got tablets on their laps. Writing tablets. They're writing letters, staying in touch with places they would rather be. Places and people they hope to see again. Mostly, they stare at the paper or they stare off into space, not writing a damn thing. They're trying to figure out what to say, because the language is different now. They don't speak the same language as the folks back home."

We had circled back and come to the creek. Adam sat down on a large, smooth rock about three yards from the creek. I stood with one boot set on the boulder, close to his thigh.

"You wanta hear something weird?" he said. "There's a picture of two of those guys tucked in the frame that holds a picture of my wife, sitting on our dresser. She doesn't mind. She knows she's been included in special company. She knows I'll always love those guys who shared that part of my life, a part she never can. And she understands how I feel about the ones I know are out there yet. That's how come when somebody asks, 'When were you in Vietnam?' I answer, 'Hey, man, I was there just last night.'" He laughed, like he'd made a joke. And it was, in a way. He placed his big hands on his knees, gazing into the creek.

"I never saw any water this clear in Nam," he said. "It was always fuckin' muddy, brown."

"That's because it was always raining," I said.

He sat for a moment longer then stood and we headed toward the footbridge.

"I appreciate this," he said.

"It's just a woods and a creek," I said.

"No, your time. The time to talk, and listen. You don't find guys anymore who want to talk about it, or listen."

"I know."

He laughed and squeezed my shoulder. "See? It's just like I said, that's what we do....we say, 'I know.' And that says all that needs to be said between guys who were there." We crossed the bridge and walked toward the house. "I need to call my cab," he said.

"You're not leaving," I said flatly. "Not unless you're on a tight schedule."

"Not tight. I've got three days to report in."

"Then you can spare one of those days here," I said.

"All right, thanks for the invite, I would like that. But I don't have my bag. I left it in a locker at the bus station."

"I've got everything you need here," I said.

Back at the house, when I started getting stuff out to make supper, Adam insisted on making the hamburgers. It was good to have him in the kitchen. We hadn't served together, but we were still buddies under the skin because we had served in the same hellish place. We downed two more beers apiece while we talked and ate. I asked him about his dad.

"He's retired from the Army, but not from life. He's alone now, but he's still enjoying life. He runs a guide service up in the wilderness in Alaska. He's told me some pretty good stories about that." He paused to laugh. "Actually, I think what he's got is his own escort service. I think he fucks about half of his clients, male and female alike."

"He talks to you about that stuff, then. That's great."

"Yeah, we sorta figured each other out," Adam said with a grin.

"That's not to say....," I began.

"No, there's nothing like that between us," he said. "But we both know about each other. And you, by the way," he added. "That came out in a conversation with too much beer one time when I went up to see him."

"And just how did it come out?" I asked with a curious grin.

"We got to talking about shit and he told me about this young stud he met at Toby's and I 'fessed up and told him about this young stud I met up with at Tan Son Nhut and we got to comparing notes." He stopped to laugh again. "He told me about one time when he took this married couple out on one of the wilderness weekends and ended up fucking them both together. And another time--this is really wild--he took two young married couples out. They were swingers, sharing the same tent, and they invited him to share their tent with them. He spent the whole night fucking all four of them."

"Well, if anybody could hold up under that, your dad could," I said. I was getting horny as hell listening to him talk, and I wondered if he was. I wondered about the sleeping arrangements; what I might suggest that he would go along with.

When we were finished eating we went out on the porch with another beer. "I think I'm getting a buzz," he said. "I'm gonna sleep good."

"We can go up anytime you're ready," I said.

He kept looking off to the side, toward the woods, and I wondered if he wanted to go back there. He seemed to like it when I took him there earlier and he opened up like I'd never heard anybody open since I'd gotten out.

"You got sleeping bags?" he asked with a tight smile.

"Yes. Do you wanta sleep out?" I asked.

"I haven't been camping since I joined the Army. Too damned much like being out in that goddamned jungle." He looked back towards the woods. "But that is a beautiful, peaceful place back there. Yeah, I would like to sleep out if it's okay. You wouldn't have to; I would be happy out there by myself."

"No, it's a great idea. I'll get the sleeping bags," I said, hoping I didn't sound too eager. "But maybe you would rather sleep out alone," I said.

"No, it'll be great, grab two sleeping bags," he said.

I went upstairs to get the sleeping bags and a flashlight. On the way out I grabbed two more beers. I wanted Adam to get a real buzz on. Adam seemed like a happy kid as we walked past the barn back to the woods. The moon was coming out early and bright but in the trees its light was blocked. We went over the footbridge to a place at the foot of the knoll where the grass was thick and laid over. We unrolled the sleeping bags and started taking off our clothes.

"Should've thought to bring towels, we could go swimming," he said.

"I keep a supply of towels in a cabinet in the barn," I said. "But the creek is going to be cold at night."

He laughed. "And I wouldn't be used to swimming or wading through a cold river?" he scoffed.

"Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to," I said jokingly as I left to get the towels.

When I came back with the towels Adam was down to a military-type, camouflage print jockstrap with a black waistband. He was bulging out of it.

"Nice jock. Is that regulation now?" I asked.

"Not issue," he said. "But you can buy 'em at the PX now. A lot of guys wear 'em, they say for their girlfriends, but a lot of them are appearing in the barracks where there are no girlfriends around. They're real comfortable, unlike ordinary jockstraps."

"On guys that can fill 'em out," I joked.

"Actually, they're made to make just about anybody look like they fill 'em out," he said.

"Which is probably why so many guys wear 'em," I said.

"Which is dumb when you think about it. We see each other in the shower all the time, so everybody knows what everybody else has got."

"Well, it makes you look damned impressive," I said. "Of course, as I remember, you were damned impressive."

"Want me to jog your memory?" he asked, with a laugh as he peeled it down. When he straightened and tossed the jock aside, I let out an involuntary whistle.

"Yes. My memory serves me well," I said. It served me as well as I watched him walk down to the edge of the creek, his big, round, solid butt flexing sexily with each step. He bent forward and eased into the water without making a sound. I followed him in.

We swam and horsed around like a couple of teenagers, but the water was cold and we got out after twenty minutes or so. I grabbed up a towel and tossed it to Adam and watched him dry his magnificent body.

"Do you remember that night we spent at Tan Son Nhut?" he asked.

"How could I forget it, you practically destroyed my ass," I said.

He laughed, his stomach muscles rippling. "Yeah, as I recall, I did pretty much pulverize it. But I don't remember you complaining. And you recovered I guess," he said.

"Oh, yeah," I said.

"Enough that you'd consider sharing a sleeping bag?"

I wasn't surprised at his boldness, and I didn't think it was the beer. It was us, and our surroundings. We were two naked soldiers in the woods, remembering hornier times.

"We can spread one out to sleep on and cover up with the other one," I said, not even trying to hide my excitement now.

The night air was chilly after coming out of the creek and it felt good to crawl between the sleeping bags, but our body heat soon made it warm enough to toss off the top one. I decided to get bold and go for it. I laid my hand on Adam's hairy chest. His pecs were like solid rock. Lower, his stomach was just as hard and hairy.

"Damn, you certainly stay in shape," I said.

"I noticed you manage pretty well yourself," he said.

I brought my hand back up to his chest, caressing back and forth, bringing his nipples to tautness. I leaned up and sucked one.

"Oohhh," he moaned softly.

"You have awesome tits," I said.

"That feels good," he said.

I kissed across his chest, into his armpit and licked all over his bicep. I loved the smell and taste of him. His deodorant had all but washed off from swimming, making his fresh natural-man taste more dominant. My hand kept busy on his stomach till I felt his cock swing up from his hip to touch and greet my hand. I made a fist around it.

"Aaawww," he groaned, thrusting his thick meat through my fist.

"Ahh, I remember this," I said, as I fisted his cock. He was so thick my fingers couldn't touch and my asshole twitched with its own remembrance.

"Your hand feels awful familiar, too," he said.

"I'm glad you dropped by," I said.

"Yeah, me too. I'm getting gladder all the time," he said.

I leaned down and kissed his chest again, and nibbled and sucked his tit. I was working my way down his abs when he rose up to stop me. He pushed me flat and went down between my legs. I gaped at him, stunned.

"Just so you know, I've only done this to one other guy in my life, but I never forgot that incredible night at Tan Son Nhut....surprise of my life," he said.

"I think you're about to give me the surprise of my life," I said.

"I doubt that, but it's payback time, man," he said as he hunkered down and started licking my balls.

"Ooh, Fuck," I gasped. He had a rough tongue that he used to keep scooping up my balls, pulling them with a hard suction against his lips without taking them in his mouth. It could've hurt a little had it not been so erotic. As it was, the dull pain was part of the pleasure. I let out another moaning gasp as he pulled one of my balls tight against his mouth then sucked it through his lips without parting them enough. It gave me the sensation of somebody squeezing my balls but it was a wonderful painful sensation. More so when he began working on it in his mouth. Fuck, his mouth was hot, and felt like it was full of spit, like my nut was swimming in it. After a moment he popped it out and did the same to the other one.

"Ohh, fuck, I never had anybody do it like that before," I whispered.

He was loving and rough at the same time. He demonstrated that he liked doing it and wanted to make it feel good, yet he was totally in control of my family jewels and would treat them as he liked. When he popped the second one free he immediately went for both of them and sucked them both into his mouth. Within seconds it felt like my balls were swimming in spit again. He pressed his face hard into my groin and began lapping the sensitive area under my balls while he sucked my balls at the same time.

"Aawwhhh," I cried softly. "Awww, fuucckkk!" I could feel him smiling.

He never made a move to touch my cock and when I took hold of it, he brushed my hand away. I lay propped up on my elbows, watching my cock bob up and down over my stomach. He kept licking and tonguing further and further and I thought he might be going for my ass. I couldn't believe he would do that, but I could feel his tongue lapping in the crack. I reached for my cock again, and again he brushed it away, and this time he grabbed both of my wrists and held them at my sides. I wanted to bring my legs up so he could get to my ass but he had his heavily muscled arms laying over my thighs.

"Ohhh, shit, man.... I love what you're doing, but I could be doing you, too," I said.

He popped my balls out of his mouth, smiling. "You got it," he said, as he rose up and turned around to straddle me.

I'd forgotten how big and thick he was, and the size of his balls. The size of him, period. His thighs on each side of me were like tree trunks. His cock was suspended forward, throbbing against his stomach, his balls hung heavily over my face. I felt up and down his massive, hairy thighs and then wrapped my arms around the granite-hard columns. When I leaned up and licked his balls, he hunkered down so I could better reach them. I let one fall into my mouth. I heard him moan deep in his belly as I began sucking and mauling it around in my mouth. I was hard on his balls, like he had been with mine. I figured that's the way he gave it, that's the way he wanted it. He hunkered down harder, smashing his crotch into my face and ground it around. I took my cue and mauled his balls harder. The size of the man, and the size and solid texture of his balls almost demanded the rough treatment I gave them. I stopped short of chewing on them, but I might have gotten by with that. I think his moans became a mixture of pleasure and pain.

He pulled up but I didn't let go of the one I had in my mouth. He tugged hard and moaned louder till I finally loosened my oral grip enough for him to pull his nut out of my mouth. Then he lowered the other one. I gave it the same rough treatment, and all the while he was lapping at my ass, not deep in the crack, but along the inner slopes. I couldn't believe he was doing it at all. I took hold of his cock and he maneuvered back so I was able to pull it down so he could lower it into my mouth. He was as unmerciful with my throat as I was with his balls. He lowered himself, forcing his cock into my gullet, then sank all the way in till his balls were draped over my face. I didn't try to resist even if I could've. If he wanted to force me, he could. My mouth was his fuck hole, my throat was his pussy.

The night noises began to start up. The crickets and then the frogs down at the curve in the creek mixed with our own noises, a soft symphony of moans and slurping wet sounds. My mind tried to retreat into earlier years, to a steamy jungle, but I wouldn't allow it. This wasn't Viet Nam and it wasn't Jason and I wouldn't allow it to become that. This was the safety of my own land, not some jungle with the smell of ancient rice paddy mud.

Adam's tongue had found my hole and he was pulling my butt apart to get to it.

Then he rose up. "You know I wanta fuck you," he said over his shoulder as he pulled his cock free so I could reply.

"I was wondering when you would get around to that," I said.

"Does that mean you're ready for it? Cause I could do this a while longer if you want. Man, you've got a sweet ass," he said.

"I was ready when I saw you standing there in that jockstrap, but take your time," I said.

"If my memory serves me correctly, you copped my shorts that night at the air base," he said.

"I've still got 'em."

Smiling, he rose up and positioned himself between my legs once more. I raised them, or he lifted them, I really didn't know, but they ended up on his shoulders with my butt tilted up in the invitation position. I was so ready; I needed no real foreplay. Just looking at his magnificent upper body, those broad, muscle-heaped shoulders and thick, hairy pecs, and feeling the heat of his cock pressing against my hole was foreplay enough. If I didn't remember, my ass did. It relaxed at the ready and opened up willingly, even eagerly to the touch of his cock. The pain began as the curvature of the head stretched the muscle and became suddenly excruciating when it went through. I remembered the feel of taking his beer-can cock, but my ass sent a message to my brain, reminding me of the pure pleasure that awaited beyond the pain, and soon it was dissipating as his cock sank deeper into my bowels. It was definitely an "Oh, My Godd" moment as he buried himself to the hilt and his cock throbbed hard inside me.

"Awww, fuck, I remember this ass," Adam groaned as he hunkered over me, bending me in half.

"And I well remember that beer-can cock," I said as I wrapped my arms around his muscular shoulders. "Ohhh, Fuck, Yeah!" I moaned as he began fucking me. "Ohhh....ohh, Godd...Awwhhh....Ohhh....oohh, yesss, fuck....fuck me....Whew! Geezusss, you know how to move, you big fucker!"

Adam laughed softly and bent further down over me. I lifted up so my chest touched his and he smashed down hard against me. He had more hair on his chest than I did and it felt wonderful rubbing against my pecs and my tits. His tits were taut too, dragging across my chest. I eased him up from me and craned my neck so I could suck his turgid nipples.

"Ohh, Fuck!" he gasped, tossing his head back.

"Yeah," I said, smiling. "You're hotwired; I can feel your cock bolt inside me when I do that."

"I'm hotwired to your ass," he said.

My ass had opened up with pure joy as his thick cock stretched it. He was sliding in and out of me with ease and with his own brand of precision. It felt like he was touching new spots with every thrust, and he knew just where to put it next.

"My Godd, your wife must be the happiest woman in the world," I said.

"She does have a smile on her face a lot," he said.

"And you don't," I drawled.

"Oh, fuck, yeah. She's great in bed. But there's just something about a guy's ass.... especially your ass. I don't know what it is.... it's like the difference between getting head from a guy and a woman. Women just don't know how to give good head."

"And by comparison....?"

"I would never say it to anybody but you, but hands down, you're better than my wife at sucking cock," he said.

"Does she ever eat your ass?" I asked.

"No. She's never gone there, and I would never ask her."

He shifted his hips to one side and started using a whole new technique of twisting and thrusting with short jabs back and forth through my sphincter muscle. He would pause a second till it almost closed, then pop it open again. He gradually took the technique deeper and deeper and harder and harder till he was gouging my guts unmercifully. He ended up sliding across and slamming into my prostate every few times.

"OOhhh, Goddd!" I cried out. "Awwhh, fuck....Ohhh... Ohh... Ohhhh, Geezuss! Where'd you pick that up?"

He only laughed and kept doing it.

"Ohhh, Shiittttt! Awww, Adam, you big fucker, you're gonna make cum doing that!"

"That's the point, ain't it?" he said.

"Ohh, fuck, man," I whimpered. "I don't wanta cum yet."

"Why not? You're not good for another round? Or have you got someplace you gotta go after this?"

"No... no place. Ohh, Godd! Just keep fucking me."

He kept on fucking me without letup, determined to make me cum. His muscular weight seemed to be heavier as he laid it on me, as if he were trying to grind me into the ground. I let go of his shoulders and lay back and clasped my hands over the top of my head.

"You okay, stud?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm... just afraid... the top... of my head... is going to blow off," I said. "Ohh... Ohhhh... Oh, fuck... fuck me, Adam... ohhh, geezusss, nail my fuckin' ass to the ground." My cock was bolting and quivering over my chest and I grabbed it. But Adam shoved my hand away again.

"I'll take care of that when the time comes," he said. He fucked me harder and harder, if that were possible. I didn't know where his power and stamina were coming from. He was slamming the air out of my lungs and smashing my balls unmercifully. The dull pain was wonderful. I flung my arms out to claw at the sleeping bag but found the grass instead. He had fucked me nearly off the sleeping bag. I tore at the grass, tossing my head back and forth and abandoned myself to the lust that was overtaking me. My air was choked off so I couldn't even cry out, and I prayed for relief, and sanity to carry me through the climax that was building up inside me.

Suddenly Adam stopped thrusting. He slammed his cock in hard and tight and held it there; fuck, so hard that we must've made an indentation in the ground. He reared up more so his muscular body was arched over me, and twisted his hips around in wide circles. My balls screamed for mercy from being crushed. His thick cock lobbed around inside me like a batter swinging a ball bat. I felt myself floating off. I was startled back by the incredible bolting and quivering of his cock deep inside me. Seconds later I felt liquid heat bathing my insides from the powerful spurts of his semen. Seconds later he began fucking me again with short strokes and I could feel his cock swirling the warm stuff around inside me. I grabbed a tight hold on his shoulders again as I felt my own body begin to quake inside. It felt like a small earthquake as the stuff swirled madly through the channels to be hurled up through the wide seminal vein in my cock to be hurled out in long, thick ropes of cum that splattered all over my face and neck and shoulders and chest. Adam grabbed my cock to pump it out of me.

"Open your mouth," he ordered.

I opened up as wide as I could and he directed the ropes of cum with perfect aim into my mouth. There was something akin to oblivion that shrouded me in the final moments, an exquisite pleasure that I could barely endure.

I blinked with a start. Adam was wiping cum off of my face with one of the damp towels.

"Geezuss!!! What the fuck happened!" I said.

"I think you went off somewhere in a black hole for a couple of seconds," he said, smiling over me.

I could feel his cock still throbbing inside me, and his heartbeat through it, and my balls smashed between us.

"Damn, I don't remember ever being fucked like that," I said.

"Sure you were, by that stud you talked about. The boy's dad. It was a long time ago, that's all. I'm here, in the flesh, competing with a memory. Maybe the memory's faded a little, that's all."

"Godd, I loved him so damned much," I said.

"He was a lucky man," he said. "I'm gonna pull out now and let your legs down so you can breathe."

Even the extraction of his cock was pleasurable, and as his thick, hot cock drew back through my guts, the nerve endings in my ass kissed it goodbye. I felt a gush of his cum seep out of my ass before it could close up but Adam had a towel there to catch it.

"You might take a couple of minutes to close up," he said. "I just hope we haven't messed up your sleeping bags too much."

"They can be cleaned," I said.

He lifted my legs and let them down on either side of him. I lifted one knee back up, cringing from a cramp. Adam noticed and took my leg in both his big hands and began massaging the muscles from my upper thigh down to my calves.

"That feel better?" he asked.

"It feels great. Too good, in fact; you're gonna cause a cramp someplace else," I said.

"We can do something about that, too," he said, laughing. "Fuck, man, that was some awesome sex."

"Couldn't be anything but, with you in control," I said.

He laughed as he lay down beside me. "You've got a beautiful place here."

"It suits me. Just enough to take care of. And completely private."

"Do you do this often? Bring guys back here in the woods?"

"No, I go to Columbus to a bathhouse when I want some action," I said.

"Can I ask you something? Just curious, you don't have to answer if you don't want to."

"Fire away."

"This boy who's coming to live with you. Is that going to be a problem for you, having the guy's teenage son under your roof? Do you think you'll feel about him like you did his dad?"

"I haven't allowed myself to think that far ahead," I said.

"Scares you, though, huh?" he said.

"A little."

We were quiet for a moment, then Adam turned on his side and pulled the top sleeping bag over us and laid an arm and leg over me.

"Do you mind?"

"Fuck, no," I said.

It was a night of absolute bliss. If I had to compare it with nights with Jason, Adam ranked very favorably. But I didn't make any such comparison. I simply enjoyed the man. I woke up lying on my stomach with his head resting on my butt. When I squirmed, he pushed me over on my back and devoured my cock. I had to beg him to stop and turn around so I could suck him at the same time. We exchanged cum, his in my mouth, mine in his, then he turned and force-kissed me and we swapped the stuff back and forth till it was all swallowed. The guy was boggling my mind, especially since he'd done this with only one other guy. He fucked me again for a very long time, then gave me the surprise of my life when he pulled out and stretched out on his stomach and told me I could fuck him. His ass was really something to penetrate. His butt muscles were so big and solid I couldn't give him the benefit of all of my hard inches. Like before, he was in control. Hours later, just before sunup, we awoke, drained and content. We swam again, then got dressed. I made breakfast and drove him to the bus station, with a promise that he would return when he was in the area.


Chapter Twenty-Eight

Dedication of Football Stadium

I knew Bill Townsend or Jeremy Cole had something to do with the invitation for me to speak at the dedication of the new football stadium that would honor Jason's name. I didn't want to speak but I couldn't say no. It would've been cowardly of me. I pondered what I might say, and labored over it for weeks. I wrote it out on a legal pad, sitting at the kitchen table, but it wasn't right. I tried to doctor it up but ended up throwing it away. My next try, I went back in the woods with a cold six pack. Maybe a good buzz would help jar things loose in my head. It worked. I found myself opening up so that the pen couldn't keep up with my thoughts. By the time I'd finished the six-pack, the pen wasn't finding its way in a straight line across the page, but the words were there. I read it over a half dozen times, adding something here and there, and then striking out a few things. Finally, when I couldn't think straight, I laid it aside.

It lay out of sight for several days before I picked it up again with a clearer head. It was good but it needed a lot of revisions. Like a couple of passages that came too close to revealing what was between Jason and me. I struck those and wrote it differently to try to portray the bond between us in a strictly military sense. Finally, it had to be good enough. I couldn't say anymore and I couldn't say it any differently.

It was a warm evening in mid May. The parking lot was full. I was met by two senior football players who said they would be my escorts for the evening. Looking at them, I had a wishful thought that they could be more than that but I quickly dismissed it. By met, I mean that one of them was holding up a sign with Mr. Courter on it.

"Are you Mr. Courter?" he asked when I approached him.

"Yes."

"I'm Lance Palmer. This is Mason Ford. We've been assigned as your escorts for the evening. It's strictly a ceremonial thing."

They were dressed in nice-fitting jeans that I was jealous of, and matching dark blue knit shirts that hugged their young athletic bodies, and baseball caps. We shook hands and I went with them. Walking up the long, curved ramp, I stopped to look up at the stately arch over the entrance; Jason Seaborne Stadium. It was a tribute that would surely embarrass him. The stadium was packed. I was sad that his parents couldn't be there. I wondered if Allen had bothered to come. The two athletes took me to the announcer's box where the MC, a local sportscaster, gave me the rundown of events. The two athletes waited at the door.

There would be short speeches by the mayor and the principal, the current coach, and Jason's old coach, intermingled with numbers by the band. I would speak last.

The mayor's speech was anything but short; he was a politician. The rest were shorter and I soon found myself being introduced. I followed the two athletes down the steps and walked between them as they escorted me across the football field to the podium out on the fifty yard line. The two boys stood on either side of the podium while I ascended the steps. The thought came to mind that they belonged in the military; they had that bearing. I was suddenly nervous, and I quietly cursed Jason for not being there to accept the accolades himself. But he wasn't, and I was, and I had a duty to perform. I cleared my throat.

"Good evening. My name is Brad Courter. Except for my connection to Jason Seaborne, I'm a stranger to your community. Some of you may remember me as the guy who brought him back. There's not much I can say about Jason, about his years growing up and going to school here, because I wasn't here. What I can say about those years is that he was blessed with fine parents, good teachers, and coaches who guided him along the path to manhood and molded him into the man I knew and loved more than a brother. He would want you to know that he always spoke highly of you."

"You knew him as a student, the kid next door, and a gifted athlete. I knew him as my best friend and a skilled fighting man, and it is to that, that I must speak and I am honored and humbled to do so. Those of you here who are veterans well know the bond that develops between men in the military....some of you may know the strength of that bond in combat. Too often it is said of those who lose their lives in combat that they gave their lives for their country. No, they fought for their country, but more often they laid down their lives for their buddies. In the final moment, in those final seconds of critical decision, they are compelled to act to save the lives of the men around them. There was never a doubt that Jason would have laid down his life for me, and I for him. That is the bond I speak of."

"I knew Jason as a man of honor and integrity, a man of the greatest courage and uncommon bravery, highly respected by those around him, yet a man who presented himself with modesty. His many feats of steel-nerved bravery and courage in the field were to him, just another day at the office. His office was the jungle, and he was fearless in performing his duties."

"I make no apology to anyone who might still be offended by my references to the war. How you feel about that awful war is your right, and your problem. I am greatly offended by the way too many Americans treated those brave men when they came home. If you are one of them, I dismiss you with contempt."

"The so called honorable peace was anything but to the men who fought the war. It was not a peace and it was not honorable. The only honor is in the men who fought it, and the politicians dishonored those men in the way they ended it. We did not lose the war; the politicians did. The men who fought it won every battle fought in that Godforsaken place."

"I didn't serve with Jason in the field of battle. I was in Intel; he was in the thick of it. But I saw his love for his buddies.... I experienced that love myself. I saw his bravery and his love for this country, and his dedication and honor in serving it. It is you good people who have bestowed true honor on Jason. I thank you for that, and I thank you for honoring me by your invitation."

As I closed I thought perhaps I should not have let my bitterness show through but I had no regrets.


Chapter Twenty-Nine

Night at the Cabin

I was met with great applause at the end. I half expected some boos. I stood for a second, a bit overwhelmed, then went down the steps to the waiting escorts. They walked me off the field with the applause still sounding in my ears. I sensed that it was more for Jason than for my speech. We stopped at a small gathering of the dignitaries at the side of the field, at a draped column. The school band struck up the national anthem and everyone stood. I came to attention and saluted, as did several other men. The principal said a few more words and someone pulled away the drape. There stood a column of black granite with a bronze plaque mounted in the top, much like the bronze marker on Jason's grave. The principal read it aloud.

"This stadium is dedicated to Jason Seaborne on May 14, 1979. He is hereby honored as an outstanding athlete and a shining example of leadership as well as his service to his country as a US Navy SEAL."

I don't know why, but I tuned it out. I didn't need to hear it from strangers. It sounded hollow. These people knew nothing of Jason's service or his undaunting courage. I was the only one in the entire stadium who did, and I knew it first hand, I didn't need to see it on a plaque. The ceremony ended, without completion, I thought. Maybe because nothing they could have said or done could properly honor the man, and I thought of how embarrassed he would be if he'd been there. I began to tear up and I didn't linger. The two boys had waited close by and they stepped up to escort me out of the field.

Several people stopped me to say what a great speech it was, but I barely heard them. One man said it was about time it was said. After each one I walked on, till I was confronted by an unkempt, middle aged man with graying, unruly hair.

"We were right all along. I am proud that I taught the folly of that war," he said.

I eyed him more closely, realizing that he was most likely a college professor. Nodding, I said, "And now you are irrelevant and without honor." Then I walked on. The two boys were waiting and I walked with them till they excused themselves.

"Will there be anything else, Mr. Courter," one of them asked.

"No, you guys have been great, thanks," I told them.

They gave a salute and walked away. A short way from the ramp I ran into the two Rangers, Townsend and Cole. They were in uniform. Literally, I almost ran into them, as they purposely stood in my path. They smiled and put out their hands.

"You guys had something to do with this, didn't you?" I accused them.

"If you mean you being here, we had everything to do with it," Bill Townsend said.

"There was nobody else qualified to speak about him," Jeremy Cole said. "Enough people remembered you from the funeral, everyone agreed."

"And you did him proud," Bill said.

"I did him embarrassed is what I did," I said.

We started walking on.

"Hey, we were wondering if you'd like to go have a beer," Bill said.

"Sure, that'd be great," I said.

"Actually, we were wondering more than that," said Jeremy with a sly grin, in a hushed tone.

"Ah, I remember, you're thinking whiskey instead of beer," I said with a chuckle.

"And you said to bring an extra bottle of whiskey next time," Bill said.

"We could drive up and see if the cabin's still there," Jeremy said with a grin.

"Yeah, we've, uh....shall we say, expanded our horizons since last time," Bill put in.

Suddenly I noticed my two young escorts were still waiting, standing off to the side. They acted like they wanted to say something but were afraid to approach us. I stopped and looked at them and they came up to us.

"Excuse us, we were wondering if you all might have a minute, for us to ask you some questions about the military," the one called Mason said.

Bill looked at them, then at me and Jeremy. "I don't know, have we got a minute for these guys?" he said.

Jeremy looked at his watch. "Okay, a minute, no more," he said gruffly, but the boys knew they were joking.

They began talking and asking questions, but we were constantly interrupted. More people came streaming down the ramp, and some people stopped to speak to me. Bill guided us all to the side.

"We need to go someplace quieter, where we can talk," he told the boys.

"If you've got the time, we would sure appreciate it," Lance said eagerly.

"Actually, we were just talking about going for a beer," Jeremy put in.

"We're not old enough to drink," Lance said.

"Yeah, eighteen, old enough to defend our country but we can't buy a beer," Mason said.

"You're allowed where we're going," Bill said.

The boys smiled. I was suddenly getting very excited. The thoughts I'd dismissed earlier when I met the two young studs, were suddenly coming back.

"That is, if you guys can get away," Jeremy said.

The boys were obviously eager to come with us. Suddenly, Lance broke away. "Give me a minute, I can probably arrange something," he said, and went running back up to the field.

"I don't know what he's got in mind, but if anybody can fix it, he can," said Mason. "Where're you planning on going?" he asked.

"Let's wait till your buddy gets back, see if he fixes things," Bill said.

Fuck, I was getting boned just thinking about being with these guys in the cabin. I remembered the last time with the two Rangers, and I could hardly imagine what it would be like adding the two hunky athletes; very likely two hunky, virgin athletes.

Lance was back in a flash. He punched Mason on the shoulder.

"It's all set. We're staying all night with Rick. He said he'll cover for us. We need to park your car in front of his house to make it look good."

"Well, he does fix things," Bill said, laughing. "Okay, get your car, we'll follow you to Rick's."

I left my car and rode with the Rangers. At their friend's house the two boys got out of their car and climbed in the back seat with me, one on each side. Bill drove to a liquor store where he and Jeremy went in and came out with a case of cold beer and several pints of whiskey.

"Damn, are you planning on getting us drunk, or what?" Lance said.

"It's only five beers apiece," Jeremy pointed out as he drove off.

"Plus the pints. Hell, it don't take near that much to get me drunk," Lance said. "Two beers make makes me happy, three make me horny and by four....."

"We'll cut you off at the horny stage, we don't want you puking all over the place," Bill said, laughing, as he began passing beers around.

"Where're we going?" Mason asked after taking a long sip.

"That old trappers cabin up in the hills," Jeremy said. "Do you know it?"

"I know of it but I've never been there," the boys replied together.

The size of the two athletes made it a tight fit in the back seat. We tried to maintain distance between us but it was impossible, and finally, thighs were rubbing together freely. The two boys were full of questions about the military, directing them to Bill and Jeremy about the Rangers, I figured because they were in uniform. After answering several of their questions, Bill directed them to me.

"Hey, I was in Intel. You wanta know anything about the real Army, you have to ask these two studs," I said.

"Fuck, you were in the Marines, in Nam," Bill scoffed. "Don't give us that pink pussy shit."

"I wasn't in the thick of it as much as most guys, though," I said.

It went on and on, more questions, and another round of beer. Like he said he would, Lance was getting happy. They hadn't opened the pints yet, and we were soon at the cabin. It was well after dark but the moon was bright.

"How come we didn't know about this place?" Mason asked Lance as we were climbing out of the car.

"Probably because we're not hunters or trappers,"

"But hell, now that we know, it's a great place to bring girls," Mason said.

"Well, let's don't tell anybody else about it," said Lance.

It was a warm night so we were in no rush to go inside. I went up and opened the door and checked inside but we ended up sitting on the porch. I noticed that there were new beds in the cabin; two sets of bunk beds. I wondered who had furnished the place.

Jeremy and Lance sat on the steps, Bill and Mason took the two roughly hewn chairs and I sat on the porch railing, leaning back against the post with one leg stretched out on the railing. Bill opened two of the pints, passed one to me, and took a healthy drink from the other one before passing it over to Mason. The boy took a hard swig and made a terrible face. Bill quickly put his beer to his lips.

"Here, wash it down with this," he said.

I took a drink and passed the bottle to Jeremy. He, in turn, passed it across to Lance. By the time the bottles made the rounds a couple of times they were empty. Lance tossed one out in the grass.

"Hey, don't toss the empties out," Bill said.

"Oh, okay. Sorry," he said, and scrambled to retrieve it.

I noticed he was a little unsteady on his legs already; he was drinking too fast. I wondered how long it would be, and what would develop. Something besides puking, I hoped. I didn't know for sure what Bill and Jeremy meant by expanding their horizons and I had no idea what the two teenagers might be up for. Least of all, I had no clue if or how anything might go down.

"Hey, this is great that you brought us along," Lance said.

"Yeah, thanks," said Mason.

"You had questions, we've got answers," Jeremy said.

The boys kept asking questions about the Army, and how tough would it be to get in the Rangers.

"Well, hell, you gotta figure it can't be too tough, he got in," Bill said, reaching down to pop Jeremy on the head.

Jeremy reacted by reaching around and making a grab at Bill's crotch. The way the two boys laughed I could tell the booze was getting to them, the way they laughed too hard. They were getting a buzz on, and more. Bill passed out another round of cold beers and opened another pint but didn't pass it around right away. Jeremy took two of the beers and handed one over to Lance.

"Here, according to my count, I think you're one beer shy of horny," he said.

Lance laughed and chugged down half the bottle.

"Okay, that oughta about do it....let's see," Jeremy said as he leaned over and grabbed the boy squarely in the crotch.

"Hey! Whoa! What're you doing?" Lance said, grabbing at Jeremy's wrist, but he couldn't get it wrenched away. The big hand kept a good hold on him, and I could see the muscles in Jeremy's forearm flexing where he was squeezing him.

"Checking to see if it's working, or if you're gonna need another beer to get you horny. By the way, you never said what four beers do to you."

"He gets crazy horny," Mason said. "At a party one time he started taking off his clothes and trying to hump everybody."

Jeremy let go of Lance's crotch and took hold of his hand holding the beer and guided it to his mouth. "Well, let's get this one down and get you started on the fourth, I wanta see you do a strip for us. Then I wanta see what happens on the fifth beer."

"Yeah, but watch the humpin' part," I said, laughing.

Lance let Jeremy feed him the rest of the beer. "Fuck, man, I don't think I need anymore," he said, shaking his head. "I've been downing it too fast."

"Want a chaser?" Bill asked, offering him a pint.

"No," he said, brushing it off.

Jeremy grabbed the boy's crotch again. He didn't yelp this time, but just sat with his legs spread out and let him do it. I was surprised.

"Feels like it's working....feels like you're getting a hardon," Jeremy said as he continued to squeeze the front of his jeans.

"It's your hand that's giving me a hardon," Lance said.

"Okay, show us your crazy horny strip routine," Jeremy said.

"I need music."

"I'll get you some music," I said as I jumped the railing and went to turn on the car radio. I couldn't believe how great things were working out....how everything was falling into place. I still couldn't imagine that these two young studs would go for what we had in mind for them but Lance sure didn't seem to mind Jeremy groping him. Maybe he was too far out of it to care. But even if they didn't go for it, just seeing Lance take off his clothes would be an awesome sight. And if we could get Mason to do the same, then the three of us could follow with a strip of our own and there we'd be....five naked studs in the woods. That was bound to lead to something. I couldn't believe everything would just stop with Jeremy feeling Lance up.

I found something with a hard, wild beat that brought Lance to his feet. Jeremy took the bottle from him as he began swiveling his hips in time to the music. We started clapping to the beat and encouraging him; not that he needed it. He was buzzed and loose.

"Hey, Mason, I've got news for you, buddy," Lance said as he gyrated to the music. "At that party....man, I wasn't that drunk....I was just seeing if I could get you turned on enough to give me some head."

"You fuckin' lie," Mason said, laughing. "You could barely stand up."

"Like I can barely stand up now?" Lance mocked as he tugged his T-shirt up to show his abs.

His tanned stomach was like a plate of armor, the tight muscles pulling and rippling as he moved around. He struggled with the shirt, pulling it over his head, his muscles rippling beautifully. I stepped up to finish pulling it off of him. He gave me a goofy little smile and reached for his belt as I draped the shirt around his neck. He unbuckled his belt then tried to take off his sneakers, standing on one leg. I put a hand on his hip to steady him, and ended up taking the shoe off myself. He smiled again and thanked me. The T-shirt dropped to the ground. I had to do the same with the other shoe. Then he went back to his belt, slowly pulling it out of the loops. When it was off he hung it around his neck and began fumbling with the top button of his jeans. Mason had by now come down on the steps and was moving in rhythm to the music with his friend but he hadn't started stripping yet.

Twice I stepped in to keep Lance steady on his feet and when he kept fumbling with his buttons, I stepped in again.

"Need some help with that?" I asked as I undid the top two buttons. The feel of his warm, hard muscles was good against my hand. "There, that'll get you started," I said.

"Thanks," he mumbled, laughing.

I saw Jeremy reach out and wrap one big hand around the back of Mason's thigh to keep him steady, but I knew it was more just to get a feel of him. Bill was slouched in his chair openly groping himself. Before I turned my attention back to Lance, I saw Bill loosen his tie and unbutton his uniform shirt. Back to Lance, he was still fumbling with his fly and I seized the opportunity.

"Geezusss, fucker, do I have to take your clothes off for you?" I said as I stepped in and brushed his hands away and finished unbuttoning his jeans all the way. Then I pulled them down off his hips. His shorts came with them and he made a grab for them but I pulled them down along with his jeans, below his knees. He made another grab but couldn't reach them. Fuck, he was hung nice. He got off balance and fell to the ground, on his back. The guys were laughing and applauding which made Lance not mind when I pulled his jeans and shorts all the way off and tossed them aside. He just lay there, laughing with them.

I wasn't sure what to do next. I couldn't just drop to my knees and start eating his cock; I was afraid he might freak out. I saw Jeremy's hand had climbed higher on the inside of Mason's thigh, right up into his crotch, as the boy continued to gyrate with the music. Mason didn't seem to mind. In fact, it looked like he was sort of grinding his crotch into Jeremy's hand.

"You guys are all so fuckin' cool," Mason mumbled.

It didn't take long for Jeremy to make the next move.

"Okay, boy, you're on next," Jeremy told Mason, giving his crotch a quick, hard squeeze. "Get out there with your buddy and show us what you've got."

Mason let out a yelp as he clasped his hand over Jeremy's hand and when he moved to step down off the step he tripped over his own feet and started to fall. Jeremy was quick to catch him and pull him back up across his lap and it was almost a natural thing to do, to smack his butt.

Mason yelped, laughing, and Jeremy smacked him again.

"Fucker, don't you know any better than to lay your tight little ass across the lap of a horny Ranger?" Jeremy said, smacking him several more times before he helped him up and steadied him on his feet again.

The two teenagers were on a buzz and things were on a roll. I went over and put my hand down to pull Lance to his feet. He took it but couldn't keep a tight enough grip for me to pull him up. I took a tighter grip on his hand and pulled him up. He came up with such force that the momentum brought him right up against me, almost knocking me down. I quickly wrapped an arm around him and clasped my hand on his butt to steady us both, and his cock pressed against my thigh. He seemed startled, with a confused look, like he was unsure of what was happening or what he should do next. I took advantage of his state of mind. I bent down and brought him up over my shoulder with one arm around his legs and my other hand on his bare ass.

"I think we'd better take this inside," I said. He was about a hundred sixty pounds, nothing I couldn't carry with ease, and he didn't fight me. As I approached the steps, Jeremy did the same with Mason, shouldered him and carried him up the steps. Bill, who had removed his uniform shirt, held the door open for us. The cabin was darker than outside, with just the rays of the moon shining through one window.

"What're you guys gonna do to us?" Lance asked, sounding not frightened, but a bit apprehensive.

"Nothing you don't want us to do," Jeremy said as I set Lance down on his feet in the middle of the floor.

"Yeah, you guys wanta know what it's like to be a Ranger....we're gonna show you," Bill put in as he pulled Mason's T-shirt off of him.

"Is this what Marines and Rangers do, take guys' clothes off?" Mason said.

"For starters," Bill said cockily. "Where the fuck is the lantern?" he growled.

"Here, I found it," Jeremy said. He lit the lantern and hung it on a hook dangling from the ceiling. It cast the perfect amount of light; a dim, sexy kind of light.

I decided the stacked bunk beds weren't going to work out for five of us so I started pulling the mattresses off and spreading them out on the floor while Bill was unzipping Mason's fly and Jeremy was taking off his own clothes.

"You guys got girl friends?" Bill asked as he pulled Mason's jeans down to his ankles. Jeremy stepped up to hold the boy up off the floor while Bill pulled his shoes and jeans off, leaving him in his shorts. I noticed he didn't struggle too hard. I wondered why the boys weren't questioning why they were having their clothes removed since we were inside and they were not stripping for us.

"Yeah, we're both dating cheerleaders," Mason said. "But I wanta know what's happening....why're you taking our clothes off? Is this going to be some kind of initiation or something? You got strippers hidden someplace?"

"You're the strippers," Bill said.

"But yeah, you could say that, it's sort of like an initiation."

I could see Mason's and Lance's eyes dancing as they watched the Rangers' every move as they bared their big, muscular bodies. It was like hero worship.

"Are you fucking those cheerleaders or just dating them?" Jeremy asked.

"Yeah, fucking them, what'd you think? All cheerleaders fuck," Mason said as Bill stripped him of his shorts.

"Yeah, they know it goes with the territory, fucking the jocks," Lance put in.

"We should've brought them along. We could've all fucked them," I said.

"I don't know if they would go for that," said Lance.

"Why the fuck not, if they're fucking all you jocks?" I asked.

"You guys are....well....you're sort of intimidating," Lance said.

"We should've brought them along anyway, so they could see what you guys are up to when you're out with the guys," Bill said, laughing.

"I don't fuckin' know what we're up to, exactly," Mason said.

"Yeah, you never said yet, w-what's this initiation is all about....what're you guys g-gonna d-do to us?" Lance asked again, his eyes shifting from one of the big Rangers to the other, with what I thought to be a bit more than admiration or fear. Curiosity, maybe.

Nobody said anything to answer his question. Jeremy and Bill were down to their briefs and I started taking my clothes off.

"Come on, guys, what're you....I mean, you've got us naked, and now you're taking your clothes off....have you got girls hidden outside someplace?" Lance asked..

"Hey, shut the fuck up!" Bill snapped, but not angrily. "You don't learn anything with your mouth flapping. Brad, here, will show you what we're going to do, won't you, Brad?"

"Yeah, you guys hold 'em, I'll show 'em," I said as I peeled down my shorts.

W-what about the g-girls?" Lance stammered, sounding a bit apprehensive now about their situation.

"There are no girls," Jeremy declared emphatically.

"Come on, you're not gonna...." Mason cut off his words and the boys' eyes popped when they saw my semi-hard cock swing out like a piece of radiator hose. "....fuck, man, that thing's huge!" he finished just as Bill was getting him in a tight hold with his arms locked around him, holding his arms tightly at his sides. He lifted him up and stood him on the mattresses. The boy was wide-eyed as I stepped on the mattress too, my cock swinging. "Ohh, fuck, man, don't....."

"Don't what?" I asked as I wrapped my hand around his cock.

"Awwhh! W-what're you doing?"

"Nice cock. Bet your girl friend loves riding this thing," I said.

"Yeah... thanks... she does... b-but....."

"Can she take it all?" I asked, interrupting him again.

"Yeah."

"How about you, stud? Hey, bring him over here too... Can your girlfriend handle you?" I asked Lance.

"Yes," he said, his voice quivering as Jeremy brought him onto the mattress, standing him beside his buddy.

I took Lance's cock in my other hand and began pumping them both. "You guys are pretty well matched," I said. "You could interchange, fuck each other's girlfriends and they would never know the difference if they were blindfolded."

"They probably could, like by the way we move. We probably don't fuck the same way," Lance said.

They were both oozing ball cream; thick gooey stuff, almost like cum, except it was clear. I wanted to lick it off but I wasn't ready yet. I wanted to make them suffer some more, and wonder, maybe even scare them a little about what was going to happen to them. They weren't struggling anymore to get loose but Bill and Jeremy were still holding them and they both had goofy, bewildered looks on their faces. Their cocks were beginning to fluff up, from soft to rubbery.

"Look, guys, if the Rangers let go of you, you're not gonna do anything stupid, like try to bolt and run, are you?" I asked.

"No, sir. We're not that stupid. We couldn't get away anyhow," said Mason.

"Yeah, besides, we don't have our clothes," Lance added.

"Okay, guys, let go of 'em and finish stripping down," I said. Then I asked the boys, "How do you guys feel about cock sucking?"

They'd just started to relax when the Rangers let them loose, but they tightened up again at what I said and both of the men stepped in and took hold of the boys' shoulders again.

"No way," Lance said, eyeing my cock furtively.

"Huh-uh. Me either," said Mason said, shaking his head.

Jeremy laughed. "I'll bet he can change your mind," he said.

"Geez, man, I'm not sucking that thing," Lance said, now with a horrified look at my cock, and he was starting to struggle in Bill's grip. "Even if I wanted to, hell, I couldn't get it in my mouth."

"Come on, guys, don't make us do that," Mason begged. "You invited us to have a beer with you, and said you would answer our questions, you never said anything about sucking cock."

"Oh, I thought we mentioned it," I said as I gripped my cock at the base and waved it around. I wanted to make them squirm some more. I saw the way they looked at the thick inches sticking out of my fist, with awe and fear.

"How do you feel about fucking?" Bill asked, still holding onto Lance's shoulder.

The fear and awe took on a whole new look. They looked like they even sobered up a little.

"No," Mason said in a weak voice. "Please, guys, not that...don't fuck us. We're straight."

"Well, there's fucking or there's sucking," Jeremy drawled.

"Please, man, don't make us do this," one of the boys begged. It must have been Mason. I saw Lance looking at my cock. I left him to agonize for a few seconds before I spoke up.

As if on cue, Bill put pressure on Lance's shoulders, pushing down hard. When he resisted, Jeremy kneed the back of his knees, causing his legs to buckle and he dropped to his knees in front of me and Mason. Jeremy still had a grip on him. Within inches of his teammate's manhood and mine, he had a horrified look on his face.

"Don't make me do this," he pleaded. "Please, I never did anything like this in my entire life, it'll probably make me sick."

"There's apparently been a misunderstanding," I said as I dropped to my knees beside him. "Who said anything about you sucking cock?" I said as I stroked my cock. "This big beauty is reserved for those who know how to handle it, and you're a long way from that," I told them.

"Oh. I thought....I mean....w-when y-you w-said cock sucking....w-what d-did you mean?"

"When the man said I would show you... Here's what he meant." With that I took Lance's cock in my mouth.

"AAAwwwwhhhhh!" he cried out with surprise. "Ohh, My Godd! Awwwhhh, fuck!!"

"Geezuss!" Mason whispered in disbelief. "Fuck, man, he's sucking your cock!" as he was lifted to his feet once again.

I gave Lance's cock a few sucking strokes then took Mason.

"You're next," I said as I took him in my mouth.

"AAAaaahhhh! Awww, fuck! Awwwhhh," he cried. "Fuck, okay, I see what you mean."

Their cocks hadn't come to full hard, I thought because they were nervous, but they were throbbing now. I moved from one to the other, gradually forcing their cocks down my throat with each try. They loved that. I sucked hard and slurped loudly, spit was running down my chin and dripping off their balls and stringing between their cocks as I switched from one to the other. I was giving them both a juicy blowjob.

"Fuck, do you believe this! He's sucking our cocks?" one of them said.

"My cock sure believes it," said the other.

I could see past the two boys, surprised to see the two Rangers pulling on each other's cocks. That surprised me, that they were even touching each other like that, and I wondered how much further they had come in their buddy relationship; just how much they had broadened their horizons. I saw that Jeremy had a bottle of lube in his hand. Did he mean that for me, I wondered, or had they taken things to that higher level between themselves? I would find out soon enough.

Meanwhile I kept working on the boys. I had my arms between their legs, clasping their taut butts in my hands, guiding them, urging them to fuck my throat now that I was used to taking them deep. I saw Jeremy move up behind the boys then felt the slick lube running down over my middle finger that was wedged along the boys' ass cracks. I wedged my fingers deeper in the crack and felt their hot, clenching assholes. One of the boys moaned softly as I rubbed their holes.

I was so enthralled in what I was doing that I didn't notice Jeremy and Bill move around behind me. But then I was aware that they were there, down on their haunches, and I knew the lube was meant for me. Jeremy made that abundantly clear when he squeezed some at the top of my ass crack then quickly worked it between my butt muscles. He rubbed my asshole a few times then inserted his finger.

"Oh, Mann, are you gonna fuck him?" Lance asked.

"Just watch me," Jeremy said.

"Aww, shit, this is gonna be so hot! Sucking our cocks and getting his ass fucked at the same time!" Mason said.

"Yeah, I never dreamed we would be doing anything like this when we came up here," said Lance.

They had no idea. In their young minds they probably thought I was being used. Little did they know. Jeremy worked two, then three then four fingers up inside me and twisted them around to stretch me out then he maneuvered his knees under me so I was more or less sitting on his thighs. His cock found its target all on its own, like it remembered from last time. Then he rose up a little, shoving the head through my hole. My groan around Mason's thrusting cock was more pleasure than pain and I sat back on the thick shaft, taking as much into me as he could give. Yeah, it hurt but I wanted it, and I wanted to show these boys what it was all about. I loved the feel of a big, hard, hot cock shoving inside me, stretching my asshole. And I wanted to get it over with and get on with the pleasure.

"Fuck, I think my cock remembers this ass," Jeremy said as he clasped his hands on my hips and pulled me back tight against him.

I got off of Mason's cock so I could talk to Jeremy. "I'm not sure my ass remembers your cock....you may have to give it a little reminder," I told him.

"Don't fuckin' worry, it'll remember in a minute," he said, and began fucking me.

I glanced up as I went back down on Lance's cock and smiled at the still-stunned looks on the boys' faces.

"Shit! Can you believe this? He's fucking him!" Lance said.

"Uummnnnnn," I groaned as Jeremy plowed my ass with long, hard strokes. "Aww, yeah, now it remembers," I said as I moved over to Mason's cock. Bill's big, naked body came into view and I reached out for his cock.

"Godd, look at the size of that thing," Lance gasped at Bill's thick cock.

"They're all three built like stallions," Mason said.

"Hey, you guys aren't exactly a couple of fillies," Bill said as he took hold of Mason's cock and began stroking it.

I was more than a little surprised to see Bill even touching another guy's cock, but maybe he and Jeremy had really expanded their horizons more than I thought since we were last together. It was going to be interesting to see how far they had come. I quickly found out and how far we could bring the teenagers.

"Looks like you could use some help with these two young ponies," he said, and with that he went to his knees beside me and began sucking Mason's cock!

"Ohh, Fuck! He's sucking me too!" the boy gasped.

I was just as surprised myself, and I reared back with a look of total shock, which caused Bill to laugh.

"Hey, you're never too old to learn," he said as he fisted Mason's slick cock.

"Yeah....yeah, I can see that," I said in disbelief.

So me and the big Ranger knelt side by side, sucking the two teenagers' cocks, or more correctly, they fucked our throats, while I had a Ranger reaming me from behind. It was all too fuckin' much and I had to fight constantly to keep from going off. Not that it mattered if I did--I figured we were there for the night--but I wanted the boys to go off first, then it wouldn't matter a fuck if I got off or not. I just wanted to make this a night that these two beautiful jock virgins would never forget. Okay, they weren't totally virgin, they were fucking the cheerleaders, but they were virgin to this kind of sex and I wanted them to remember the experience. There was a lot of moaning and groaning going on between the loud slurping. Bill and I did our share of gagging when the boys got too rough, but we held on. I just rode it out, and rode my ass up and down on Jeremy's cock, waiting to see how it was going to end.

Suddenly, Jeremy pushed me up and pulled his cock out of my ass as he tapped Bill on the shoulder.

"Hey, let's trade places. I want some of that young cock," he said.

Bill moved over and Jeremy took Mason's big cock in his mouth, fisting it as he sucked the first few strokes. Then he moved his hand from the shaft and took it all the way down. I was mesmerized by the two big Rangers, as much as the boys were. They had come such a long way since we were together and I had to wonder how many of their Ranger buddies they were doing this with.

"Fuck, how come the young ones always taste the best," he groaned as he licked the boy's big cock.

"Guess your ass is mine," Bill said to me as he moved around behind me.

"Could I....," Lance started in a nervous tone. "Do you think I....could I fuck you?" he asked me.

"You'll have to go through Bill first," I said.

"Could I?" he asked Bill. "I just wanta see what it's like to....to fuck a guy's ass."

Bill moved aside and Lance moved around behind me. Bill moved in front of me, offering me his cock for me to suck. Well, not exactly offering it....he shoved it in my mouth, and I didn't resist. He choked me but he didn't stop thrusting into my throat.

"Hold it," I said, backing off of it. I moved to lay out on the mattresses on my back with my knees cocked up. "You're probably used to fucking those cheerleaders in this position. Okay, let's see what you've got," I told the boy. Truth was, I wanted to watch him as he fucked his first male ass. He moved between my legs, fisting his throbbing, slick cock, his eyes darting from my butt to my cock. I brought my legs up higher and wrapped my arms around my thighs to tilt my butt up off the mattress for him. Lance barely fumbled, aiming his cock at my still-clenching hole, and then he eased right in. I was already well lubed and my hole was stretched so it was an easy, good entry. He slid right in, and the slight, sexy curve of his cock fit the curvature of my ass like a glove. Because of the position, he went in deeper than Jeremy.

"Whoa! Man, that went in deep!" I said as I hunkered my butt up to meet his solid thrust. I began clenching my ass muscles to squeeze his cock.

"Ohhhh... Fuuucckkkk!" he moaned, tossing his head back.

His cock felt the same way; it throbbed and practically quivered deep inside me. He held still for a long moment then pulled back and began fucking me.

"Ohhh.... Ohhhh, fuck... Awww, yeah, fucker... Ohhh, yeah," I moaned. "Man, you've had some experience with that thing, I can tell."

"Not this kind of experience," he said, his voice with a little quiver in it.

"No difference in the moves," I said.

"It sure feels a lot different than pussy. Better," he said as he rose up to hunker up over me, forming a bridge over my doubled-up body. With his feet up against the edge of the bunk bed, he had good leverage that he used to nail me to the mattress. Godd, the kid could fuck!

Bill and Jeremy had Mason sandwiched in between their faces, one of them deep-throating his cock while the other ate his ass. The kid was wide-eyed, maybe even cross-eyed. His mouth was hanging open, sucking in air, and he was drooling and didn't even realize it. After some moments of moaning and gasping and loud slurping noises, Bill moved away and came over and took hold of Lance's shoulder to urge him up off of me but not out. The boy went back onto his knees without missing a stroke.

When I was laying straight Bill straddled me and dropped to his knees, sitting on my chest, and hunkered up to feed me his cock. I let him fuck my throat while I played with his hard ass. I pulled the muscles apart and fingered his hole, hoping to give young Lance some ideas about the Ranger's ass....maybe eat it, or even get brave enough to pull out of me and try to fuck him. At this point it wouldn't surprise me if Bill let him. But it didn't happen; I think because Lance was probably too scared to try anything with the big stud.

I got off of Bill's cock and made motions for him to turn around and mouthed the words, "let him suck you." He smiled and shoved himself to his feet. He turned around, standing astraddle me and I could see up between his legs that he was fisting his cock. He put his other hand on top of Lance's head.

"How about you give me some of that pretty, full mouth," he said.

"Aww, man, I can't do that," Lance said, rearing back.

"You're a smart kid, you can figure it out....just open your mouth.... part those full pouting lips, like Moses parted the Red Sea."

"I don't know. if I can....Man, I don't wanta...." But his words were muffled, then silenced as Bill thrust his hips forward and the boy suddenly had the big Ranger's cock in his mouth. "Aawmmpphhh! Uunngghhh!" he groaned and gagged around the thick cock as he tried to back away, but Bill had both hands locked around the back of his head and was fucking his mouth.

"Geezusss, man!" I heard Mason gasp. "Shit, you're sucking cock!"

I had to smile. Young Mason didn't understand yet the difference between sucking cock and getting your face fucked. Lance wasn't exactly doing it willingly. Not yet, at least.

Yeah, things were working out! With a smile I motioned for Mason to come over and take Bill's place and give me his cock. He followed Bill's lead and straddled my head and thrust his cock in my throat. He hunkered over and began doing pushups, using my mouth like a pussy. I could hear Lance moaning and fighting his gag reflex whimpering through his slurping noises as Bill fucked the boy's mouth but he wasn't missing a stroke with his cock in my ass. From the choking sounds as he was thrusting deep into his throat, I was betting the teenager had no clue, when he agreed to come with us, that he would be deep-throating cock or fucking another guy's ass. But from the feel of his cock bucking inside me, he was enjoying doing it.

Lance fucked my load right out of me. I hadn't intended to go off so quick, but there was so much going on and the incessant massage his cock was giving my prostate was too much to bear and I couldn't tell him to stop. I blew it all over myself and Mason and Bill's leg. Lance reared back from Bill's cock with a loud intake of air.

"Fuck! Where did all of that come from?" he asked, wide-eyed.

I didn't know myself. It felt like he'd shot his load too, right up through my cock. But he hadn't cum; he was still fucking me and slurping Bill's cock while Mason fucked my throat. I didn't think any of it was happening in a stupor; the booze'd had time to wear off a little.

Mason and Lance went off at the same time, like they were hotwired to each other and had suddenly short circuited. I felt Lance's cock acting up inside me, heard him whimpering and groaning deep in his belly, then felt the liquid heat of his semen spurting deep in my bowels. The next instant, Mason was blowing his load in my mouth. Bill was right, the young ones always taste the best; fuck, his cum was sweet. I even lost some more myself. I didn't know where the fuck it was all coming from.

Bill suddenly pulled his cock out of the boy's mouth and stepped aside. I didn't know if he'd shot off or not. Mason climbed off of me and I could see Lance teetering on his knees like a tree in a windstorm, about to fall over. There was a pleasurable wince on his face and I realized why as I saw Jeremy pulling his hand back from his ass. He'd been fingering Lance's asshole the whole time!

"You fucked that load out of him, you have to clean it up, you know," he told Lance.

"Yeah, with your tongue," Jeremy chimed in, laughing.

"No fuckin' way. I was forced to suck cock but I ain't eating anybody's cum," Lance said breathlessly. But then he saw the way the two Rangers were looking at him with deadpan stares. "Oh-oh, that was the wrong thing to say, huh," he said.

"So wrong," Bill said as he was scooping up huge globs of cum off my chest with two of his fingers. Jeremy moved quickly to pull Lance's arm behind his back and very gently twist it upward, and wrapped his other muscular arm around the boy's neck.

"No! No, don't do this! Aww, man, don't make me," Lance pleaded, but to no avail.

Bill clasped one hand around his chin and forced his mouth open and fed him the still-warm semen, then stroked his neck and told him to swallow. It wasn't very forceful, just enough that the boy could be made to believe he was helpless. I thought he might gag, but he only grimaced and swallowed and made another horrible face. I noticed they weren't holding him very tight and he wasn't fighting very hard to resist.

"Okay, both of you, get down there and lick it up," Bill ordered.

The boys hesitated, looking at each other helplessly, and in that look, I think they took some solace in that they had to do it together. They got down on either side of me, then bowed their heads, their eyes closed, and started lapping up my cum. What an awesome sight; watching the two handsome faces with their tongues lapping and scooping up the thick streaks of semen. When they were finished they rose up, wiping their mouths with the back of their hands.

"There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Jeremy said.

"It tastes awful," Lance said.

"It's an acquired taste. You'll learn to like it," Bill told them.

"I don't think so," Lance said.

"Me either," said Mason.

Bill handed them a pint. "Here, wash it down with this," he said.

They each took a swig of the whiskey, followed by beer that Jeremy handed them.

Lance shivered with a terrible face. "Fuck, man, that only makes it taste worse."

"Yeah, but it'll help you sleep," Bill said, laughing.

"I don't think I'm gonna have any trouble sleeping," he said. "Man, my head is beginning to feel groggy,"

I had ideas about Lance. I was sure there was a lot under that rugged, athletic exterior that even he wasn't aware of. I wanted to help him discover it. Alone. Just the two of us. I picked up a mattress and tossed it on one of the bottom bunks.

"The bunks will be more comfortable than the floor," I said.

"I'm not very good at math, but five guys and four bunks, I don't think that comes out even," Lance said as Bill and Jeremy took two of the bunks. Mason climbed up in the top bunk closest to me.

"You can sleep here with me," I said to Lance, indicating the bottom bunk.

"Naw, I don't think so," he said. "I'll sleep in the car." With that, he walked out, closing the door behind him. He seemed sullen all of a sudden. I was afraid we'd fucked up his head.

"Hey, your buddy's not gonna let this get him all fucked up in the head, is he?" Jeremy asked Mason.

"He'll be all right in the morning, after he works through his hangover," Mason said.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"I've seen him like this before, he'll be okay," Mason assured us.

"But you've never done anything like this before, have you, with other guys?" Bill asked.

"No, but he's okay. It's not what we've been doing. He gets this way when he's had too much to drink. He just needs to sleep it off," Mason said.

We left it at that for the moment. Jeremy reached out from the top bunk and turned the wick down on the lantern, plunging the cabin back into the moonlight. I wasn't able to go to sleep, and I knew I wasn't going to sleep much, if at all. There was still Lance......

I waited till everyone's breathing became shallow and I heard snoring from the two bunk beds on the other side of the room. Then I got up. I checked Mason in the top bunk; he was totally out of it. So were Jeremy and Bill. Just to be sure, I said, "Everybody asleep?" in a quiet but clearly audible tone. Nobody answered. I slipped out of the cabin and made my way to the car. The night air had taken on a chill, and Lance hadn't taken anything to cover up with. I peered in to see him curled up in the back seat. I opened the door and leaned inside, put my hand on his hip. He was cold.

"Hey. Lance," I said, shaking him. "Lance."

"What?" he growled, sleepily.

"Come on back inside, it's cold out here," I said.

"I'm okay, leave me alone," he said, curling up tighter in a ball.

"You're freezing. Come on back inside, nobody's gonna care if we share a bunk."

"I've got enough to live down as it is," he said.

"What? You've got nothing to live down," I said.

"Yeah, right, tell that to my buddy, Mason," he scoffed.

"Fuck, you didn't do anything the rest of us didn't do, including your buddy, Mason," I said.

"Just bring me out a blanket," he said.

"Only got one blanket on each bunk, so it's just a choice whether you wanta share it inside on the bunk or out here in the back seat of the car," I said.

He hesitated, like he had to think it over. "Out here, then," he said.

"Okay, I'll be right back," I said. It wasn't how I'd planned it. I wanted him in the bunk but maybe the back seat of the car would be better, away from the others. He sounded fucked up in the head. I went inside and got the blanket from my bunk, went back out, quietly closing the door behind me. I felt a little like I was leaving Mason to the wolves, alone in the clutches of the two Rangers. If they woke up I knew they would be horny and have at him again.

I crawled into the back seat and we maneuvered around so Lance was lying against the back of the seat and I was on the edge. It was a tight fit but he was cold and I didn't think he minded lying against me under the blanket for the warmth. I wondered why he hadn't put his clothes on. Maybe he couldn't find them. He lay on my left arm that I shoved under him, our naked bodies tight against each other, with my right leg entwined between his legs and my right arm around him, low on his waist

"That feel better?"

"Yeah, you're warm. I didn't realize how cold I was," he said.

I pulled us tighter together, our cocks touching, with my knee pressed into his crotch, and moved my hand over his bare butt.

"Damn, you've got a solid butt," I remarked.

"Yeah, it comes from doing a lot of squats. Mason and I both do a lot of squats when we work out. He's got a real hard butt, too." He sounded more at ease.

"Oh, you notice other guys' butts?" I chided him.

"I notice Mason's butt," he said.

"Ever do anything besides just notice?"

"Do anything....no."

"You guys never messed around together, or even thought about it?" I asked.

"No, we never ever did anything like tonight, although I.... I admit the thought has crossed my mind, out of curiosity. But I've never had the courage to try anything; I was never sure how he would take it."

"Well, now you've got a real good idea how he would take it," I said. All the while we were talking, I was caressing and squeezing his cold butt muscles, and I thought I could feel his cock fluffing up. The way I had hold of his ass, my hand was spread across both sides with my middle finger massaging between his taut buns. He was still slick there. He made no move except to tighten his butt muscles, but he let out a little gasping moan when I finally touched his hole, and he jutted his butt against my hand. He was obviously okay with it, probably curious, so pressed harder against his hole. But then he tightened up, clenched his asshole real tight when I tried to probe through.

"Relax," I whispered in his ear.

"What're you gonna do?" he asked.

"Just relax and let me show you," I said. I thought Jeremy had been fingering his ass while he fucked me but maybe not.

"I don't know if I want you to show me anything else," he said.

"Okay, at any point you don't want me to, just stop me," I said.

He relaxed then and let me shove my finger through his hole and in up to the second knuckle before he tightened his anal grip again.

"That's not hurting," I said.

"No, I just don't know what you're gonna do," he said.

"I thought Jeremy was doing this to you when you were fucking me," I said.

"No, he was just rubbing my asshole like you were doing."

"Just relax and I'll show you," I said. "Trust me, you'll like it."

He relaxed and I shoved my finger in as far as I could reach, causing him to wince and let out a surprised little gasp. I found his prostate, swollen and firm, palpitating with his heartbeat, and he practically jumped off the seat.

"Oh, Fuck! What was that?"

"Just relax, I'll show you," I said as I began rubbing my fingertip gently around the spongy organ.

"Ohhhh....Ohhh, Godd.... Awwwhh, what is that!"

"That's your prostate.... your love nut. It's the nerve center of your sexuality."

"You mean like a girl's clit or something?"

"Something like that," I said. "It's what drove me out of my fuckin' head when you were fucking me earlier," I said.

"Ohh, Shit! Godd, no wonder you were loving it so much. Geezz! Oh, mannn, I didn't know I had that."

"Most guys don't know," I said.

I spent a couple of minutes toying with his prostate, touching it, rubbing it gently, then not touching it at all, just wriggling my finger around inside him. I smiled as he squirmed around trying to connect his prostate with my finger again. He tried to act like he was just getting in a more comfortable position, but I knew he was trying to maneuver his prostate to touch my finger. But I didn't let him. I was going to play with him for a while, make him want it, get him really worked up, hopefully for bigger and better things. I pulled my finger out of his ass.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "Why'd you stop?"

"I'm gonna use two fingers on you," I said as I wet my two fingers in my mouth. I shoved them in and I didn't think he was even aware that I stretched his hole even more, he was so open and anxious. He reared back on my fingers, trying to make the connection again, but I took my time finding his love nut.

"Aww, fuck, there it is!" he gasped softly when I began rubbing his prostate again with both fingertips. "Ohhh....Ohh, fuck, man, what makes it feel so good?"

"It's your sexual nerve center. It's what makes everything feel good when you're having sex," I told him.

"Aww, it sure feels good now," he moaned as he rode back onto my hand, twisting his tight butt on my fingers.

I let him pleasure himself for a few more minutes then pulled my fingers out.

"Aww, not again! Why do you keep stopping?" he whined.

"I'm gonna use three fingers."

"Ohh, Mann, I don't know if I can stand three fingers," he said.

"If you can't, I'll stop, just tell me," I said. But I knew he not only could take three fingers, he would soon be begging for my entire hand, and hopefully, even my cock. It never failed; when I got my fingers on a guy's prostate, he was all mine. I wet my three middle fingers in my mouth and shoved them through his slick hole. He winced again and let out a little gasp; I was stretching him pretty good. But he got over it immediately when I connected with his love nut again. This was going to be the telling moment; my knuckles stretching his hole, while three fingers tapped and rubbed and squeezed his love nut. This was going to break him; turn him into a begging little jock slut; something he didn't know he could be.

"Oh, My Godd!....Ohhh, My Godd!" he cried out, tossing his head back. "Oh, Geezusss! Ohh....Aaaahhhh....Ohhhh, fuck.... what're you doing to me....driving me fuckin' crazy!" he groaned as he thrashed his muscular young body about on top of me. He was able to handle it only a few minutes before he stopped me, reaching back for my wrist. I stopped, but left my fingers inside him, unmoving. "Fuck, I can't take much of that at a time," he gasped. "Mann, I never felt anything like it. I wanta do it some more but just give me a minute."

"Sure," I said. But a minute was all he was getting. I counted off the seconds, about forty, before I started moving my fingers again.

"Ohhh.... Ohhhh.... Ohhhh, it's starting again," he moaned.

"Just a couple more minutes, okay, then we'll try something else," I told him. I tortured him a little bit more then stopped.

"What?" he asked.

"Move up here and park your ass on my face," I said.

"Oh, Mannn. What're you gonna do now?" he asked excitedly as he scrambled into position.

I was gazing up at his taut jock ass, all spread apart, ready and eager and open. I began lapping back and forth in the wide crevice to get him good and wet, and heard him gasp with surprise. I could feel his hole was relaxed and open, and I stiffened my tongue and drove it up inside him.

"Oh, Geezusss!" he groaned, and settled down on my face, riding my tongue deeper up inside him. "Aawwwhhh! Awww, fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"

He slid his ass back and forth over my mouth while I lashed my tongue over all the flesh I could come in contact with.

"Fuck, boy, I wish I could reach your prostate with my tongue," I said.

"Use your fingers again!" he said, sounding almost desperate.

I used my fingers alternately with my tongue, to probe and massage his prostate, then to pull his hole wide open so I could get my tongue way up inside him. He moaned and uttered cries halfway between a scream and a whimper as he rode my stiff tongue. Then I shoved both thumbs up inside him, probing and stretching him wide open at the same time. He rode around on them, moaning loudly, rubbing his prostate on the tips of my thumbs. Finally, as I hoped, and planned, it became too much for him; too much for his body and too much for his lust-seared brain. He was primed and hot and ready for anything that would better satisfy the newly-discovered cravings wracking his body.

"Aww, fuck! Ohh, Geezusss, I can't believe I'm saying this, but it feels so incredibly good.... I need something bigger! I need your cock!"

"Wait. Just so I'm sure.....are you saying you want me to fuck you?" I asked as I kept torturing his love nut.

"No, but I....okay, Yess! Yess, I'm saying it! Ohh, Godd, I am so ready! Fuck me! Man, I want you to fuck me!"

"You know where it's at," I said. "Just move down and slide your ass down on it and ride it."

"Ohh, fuck, I want to so bad, but you're so big," he said.

"You're stretched and loose enough to handle it," I told him. "It might hurt a little at first as it goes in deeper than my fingers but you'll get past it real quick. By the time you're all the way down on it, you won't remember it hurting at all."

He was reluctant but it was easy to urge him down. When he felt my cock touch his backside he bravely rose up.

"I don't believe I'm gonna do this," he said. "I am so nervous."

"Don't be nervous. You'll do fine," I told him as I applied some spit to my cock and held it straight up for him.

He settled his asshole onto the head of my cock and I felt his legs shaking. "Go ahead. You know you want it," I said.

"Yes, I want it but I don't know if I can do it." He took in a deep breath. "But....here goes," he said, and with that, he began letting his weight down.

I felt his asshole stretch around the curvature of my cockhead, opening up wider and wider. It wouldn't be that much more than my three fingers, I figured it was just the idea of it being a cock entering him instead of my fingers, and that my cock would go in much deeper. He winced but didn't cry out when the head popped through his hole. His legs seemed to be shaking worse and I helped hold him up so he wouldn't plunge down on my cock and impale himself too suddenly. He eased himself down some more and I could feel the soft inner lining of his ass wrapping around my throbbing cock, the muscles working, milking, seeming to draw it in.

"Ohh, fuck....I'm doing it!" he said.

"There, that's not so bad, is it?" I cooed.

"Not....as bad....as I was....afraid of," he stammered.

I did a quick measurement with my fist around my cock. "You've got more than half of it," I said.

"Ohh, Geezusss....there's that much more to go?"

"You're doing great. You're past the worst part," I said. "Just ride down on it, all the way, stop torturing yourself."

"I don't think....I c-can take it all the way. It's an ass, not a pussy," he said.

"There's more room in a guy's ass than in a girl's pussy," I said.

He took in another deep breath and began the final descent. Instead of supporting his weight, I urged him down and gently pushed upward. Suddenly I was all the way inside him.

"AAAwwwhhhhhh!" he cried softly as he settled his taut, trembling butt on my pubes, my cock driven up inside him as far as it could reach. "Ohhhhhh, fuck, where'd it go!"

"I told you, you could handle it," I said.

"Ohh, Godd....Ohh, it feels like it's in my throat!"

"That'll come later. Right now, just enjoy your first fuck," I told him.

We waited till he was used to it, then I started clenching my butt muscles, causing my cock to move gently inside him.

"Oohhh....Ohh, yeah," he moaned softly as he began squirming and twisting his butt around. "Ohhhhh.... ohhhh, fuck, that's good."

"I knew you'd like it. You were ready for it," I said.

"Yeah, I guess I was but I didn't know it. Oh, Godd, I never dreamed anything could feel so good," he said as he began riding up and down on my cock.

"Have yourself a good ride; fuck yourself crazy," I told him, and I think he tried. He rode higher and higher, till he was sliding his ass all the way up and down the full length of my cock, using every inch to satisfy the lust that had been pent up inside for so long. Strong as he was, his legs couldn't hold out as long as his lusty desires. After a while his legs were shaking so bad he could barely move up and down, and they finally gave out.

"Damn, this is harder than doing squats," he gasped breathlessly. "But my legs won't do it anymore."

"Let's change positions, let me do the work," I said. I tilted him toward the front seat and he took hold of it to help maneuver us onto our sides. He braced himself against the back of the front seat and I began fucking him.

"Ohh, Yeahhh! Aww, fuck, yeah....fuck me....fuck me," he moaned as he held his position firmly to receive my hard, long thrusts. "Ohh, Godd, you are a horse! I don't know where you're putting it, but it feels awesome!"

After a few minutes, he began pushing back to meet my thrusts and before long we had the car rocking on its springs in time with the boy's groans. We got carried away and a couple of times he lost his balance and almost tumbled off the seat onto the floor. I stopped and pulled out. He moaned with disappointment.

"Let's do another turn and put you on the bottom," I told him. I rose up out of the way and he scrambled to lie on his back. I brought his legs up onto my shoulders and tilted his body nearly in half.

"It's gonna go in a little deeper in this position," I warned as I positioned my cock at his hole again.

"Oh, Godd, then it's gonna come out my throat," he whimpered.

"Not that deep," I said, laughing, as I entered him again. I could feel when I entered new territory, the tightness that spread open around the end of my cock. He felt it too.

"Ohh, Fuck!" he blurted. "Godd, you weren't kidding!"

But he got used to it pretty quick and was soon humping his little muscle butt up to meet my cock thrusts. I loved pounding my loins against the taut muscles.

"I should ask, how does it feel for you?" he asked.

"You don't have to ask, son, my cock's hard, ain't it," I said.

"Son.....that sounds so hot," he said.

"Well, I am old enough to be your dad."

"Ohh, that's even hotter," he whimpered with delight.

"You ever fantasize about getting fucked by your dad?" I asked.

"I never fantasized about getting fucked by anybody, least of all my dad."

"But you're going to now," I said, laughing.

"Yeah, dammit, I'm probably gonna be picturing us like this now, every time I see him without his shirt, or running around in his shorts."

"You're dad's a stud, huh?"

"Not as much as you or the Rangers, but yeah, he's a hunk of a guy. I always wanted to grow up and be like him."

"I don't know your dad but I think you're well on your way," I said. I chuckled softly. "But now you just want him, huh?"

"I'm probably gonna be thinking about it, yeah," he said.

"You don't know, he might be thinking the same thing about you," I said.

"Not a chance. He's so fuckin' straight."

"Hey, this don't make you gay," I told him. "None of what's gone on up here makes you gay."

"It sure as heck makes me something besides straight," he said.

"Yeah, it makes you a straight jock who's just discovered he likes having sex with other guys," I said.

"Are you gay, or just the same as me?" he asked.

"I buried the straight genes a long time ago," I said.

"And if I do, too....that means I'm gonna be gay, too?" he asked.

"Maybe, maybe not. But I'm not all gay, I still like a woman now and then. Anyway, let's don't worry about it just now, okay? Let's just enjoy what we're doing. You don't need a label."

We enjoyed it. By the time I finished fucking him that first time I was pretty sure I had pounded his straight genes so far into oblivion that he wouldn't find them for a very long while. He loved getting fucked. But a short time after, when we were lying entangled together he got a hardon to fuck me again. I didn't know if it was just a natural response to his hard cock or if he thought he had to prove something to himself, or to me. It didn't matter; I let him fuck me, and by the time he was done, I wasn't so sure I'd buried his straight genes after all. Godd, he could fuck, and he hadn't learned it from fucking other guys; he'd learned it from fucking those horny little cheerleaders.

After he was recuperated, I spread him out on the seat and sucked his cock. It wasn't so much to suck his cock as to have his load. I wanted one more load of that sweet, fresh, teenage cum. Godd, I thought, it would be nice to be a coach and have all your jocks lined up to blow their loads in your mouth every day. He gave up his load and whinnied as I swallowed it.

"I don't know how you do that....swallow it," he said.

"For some guys, it takes practice," I said. I laughed. "You've got your buddy, Mason, to practice on now."

"I don't think so. I don't think we'll be doing any of this stuff together when we get back."

"I would put money on it," I said.

I nailed him in the ass one more time just before sunup. It was his idea. He was a little skittish about it, considering it was getting daylight; he was afraid somebody would come out of the cabin and catch him with his ass turned up for my cock, but he wanted it and we pulled it off. I think he would've liked to do it one more time because he was afraid it might be his last chance but we didn't do it. The car smelled like sex and cum. Lance told me to go inside and crawl in my bunk; he would stay in the car. He wanted it to look like he'd slept there the whole night alone. I rolled the windows down first, to let the car air out. Inside, I didn't see any sure signs that there had been any activity between the two Rangers and Mason.

I was inside the cabin with Jeremy the next morning, checking the place over before we left. The others were outside, loading the car to take off.

"By the way, was there any action in here last night?" I asked.

He laughed. "You didn't hear us?"

"I was pretty busy myself," I said. "So you nailed the jock?"

"Did we ever!"

"Both of you? You fucked him?"

"And he loved it," Jeremy said. "How about you and the other one?"

"Fucked his brains out," I said.

"Mission accomplished!" We high-fived each other and closed up the cabin. "And you know what? They weren't drunk when it happened."

The boys were quiet as we drove down to the café at the crossroads for breakfast. I thought they might've preferred that we skip eating and take them right home. It bothered me that they might be letting themselves get screwed up in the head over everything. And part of it, I surmised, was the dark little secret that they were keeping from each other; that they had both gotten fucked and they both liked it and they would never talk about it. I didn't want that to happen. Over breakfast, I started them talking.

"How long have you guys known each other?" I asked the boys in a casual tone.

"Since kindergarten," Lance said.

"That's a long time. You guys must share a lot of secrets," I said.

"Yeah, we go back a long time, we know a lot about each other. Probably more than anybody else in the world," Lance said.

"Hell, probably everything there is to know about each other," Mason added.

"Except for one little secret that you're not sharing," I said, eyeing them both with a level gaze. I could tell that they both knew what I was talking about but neither of them opened up and I could see their faces turning red. I opened the can of worms for them. Looking at Mason, I said, "Does Lance know you got your ass fucked last night? Have you shared that little secret with him?"

Mason's eyes and mouth flew open in stunned shock as his face got redder. "What! Hey, wait a minute, I....I never...." He glared at Jeremy and Bill. "Oh, Mannn! You said you wouldn't tell."

"We didn't. He guessed," Bill said.

Looking straight at Lance, I said, "Does Mason know you got your ass fucked in the back seat of the car last night?"

Lance didn't say anything. He didn't even turn red. I think he was glad it was out in the open. Their eyes darted everywhere as they tried not to look at each other, but it was no use. It was out in the open now. They had to face it and deal with it.

"Did you?" Lance asked his friend, rather sheepishly, as if he had to hear it from his lips.

Just as sheepishly, Mason replied, "Yeah. Twice. By both of them. So you did, too, huh?"

"Yeah, just like he said," Lance admitted. "It just happened....things sort of got carried away...." He let his words trail off.

Jeremy punched Mason's shoulder. "Tell him how you liked it."

"I liked it," Mason admitted, rather embarrassed.

"Yeah, I....I did, too," Lance said. "I got fucked more than once, too. And I liked it a lot."

"So now you've got no secrets, and you've got everything in common," I said.

They were more at ease and talkative for the rest of the drive home, talking about how they could "share" their new secret in more ways than one. We took them to their friend's house to get their car.

"Thanks guys, for taking us along, and....and for showing us everything," Lance said.

"Yeah, you've made it easier to deal with some feelings I've been having but didn't understand, and I was scared of," Mason put in.

"Well, now you can deal with them together, and there's no reason to be scared," I said. I liked what Bill added.

"You guys have got something special between you," he told them. "It's a bond as strong as the bond between soldiers. So, stay tight. Don't ever let anything or anybody come between you."

"Oh, we're gonna stay tight, all right," Mason said.

"Yeah, as tight as any two guys can get," said Lance.

Then one day I received a personal call from General Brown.

"Better get packed, Courter," he said.

"Are you shittin' me, sir? It went through?!"

"It's all tied up in a neat little package, although with a lot of red tape. I told Major Hunt I wanted to call and tell you the news myself. You need to call him to make the arrangements to go pick up the boy."

"Thank you, sir, for all you've done. I can't begin to thank you," I said.

"Just be a good dad to this kid, because that's what you'll be, like it or not," he said.

"Yes, sir, I'll do my best."

"Well, that's good enough for me."

The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Saigon, with a one-way ticket for Jase. My parents knew I was going back but they didn't know the real reason. I had never told them about Jase. I told them I had to go back to bury some ghosts that still haunted me. They didn't understand that. My Dad was the most concerned.

"I've read about guys going back after being home a long time, and they stay. You're not going back there to stay, are you?"

"No, Dad. I'm coming back. I promise."


Chapter Thirty

Return to Saigon

I had mixed emotions about going back; emotions that I couldn't sort out. I decided they would sort themselves out when I got there. I was surprised that the A Shau Valley was still easily recognizable from the air. The first people I saw in the terminal were soldiers wearing pith helmets and carrying AK-47's. I really didn't know what to expect but everyone at the airport was friendly and helpful, other than the soldiers. There were no longer the sounds and smells of war, although there were still traces of the carnage that had taken place after the United States pulled out. Other than that, Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, wasn't all that different from when I left. I took a cab to the orphanage and asked for Sister Marie. A young nun took me to her. She was in the kitchen.

"Sister Marie, I am Brad Courter." I wondered at that moment why I hadn't sent pictures of myself so she would know me.

She threw up her hands then clasped them over her mouth to choke back her emotions.

"Mr. Courter, you are an angel from God!"

"Well, I wouldn't say that, and I'm sure God wouldn't agree either," I said with a chuckle.

She was about to cry. I took her hands but she pulled them away and put her arms around me to hug me. I felt a bit embarrassed, being hugged by a nun.

"You were supposed to be notified by the Swiss embassy that the papers were in order and that I would be here," I said.

"No one notified me," she said.

"Well, then, we will need to go to the embassy." I was looking all around for Jase.

"Jason isn't here, he's on an errand," Sister Marie said. "He will be back soon."

"How is he? How has he been? I mean, you were afraid the street would swallow him up," I said.

"It was a struggle but he is fine. He's a good boy. You have saved him from the streets, I believe."

"I saved him? I think that credit has to go to you, Sister," I said.

"No, I was losing him. It was when he received your note that you were sending for him that he began to turn around. Then your letters that followed. I warned him that you, a good friend of his father's, would expect more from him."

"Did he get in a lot of trouble?" I asked.

"I can't say what trouble he got into, only that he was becoming less and less satisfied to stay with us."

"I wonder why," I said.

"He was growing up, becoming curious about the ways of the world," she said.

"Could you show me around, Sister?" I asked.

"Certainly. You should see how your monthly offerings have been spent."

"I had no qualms about how it would be spent," I said. "And it will continue, even after I take young Jason home with me."

"Bless you, son."

"No, the blessings are upon you, Sister, for all your work here. Have you had any luck placing any other children?"

"Some. Not nearly enough. There are not many American soldiers who are willing to face the consequences of their actions when they were here. Too many of the children are already lost to the world. I see them on the streets now and then, the ones who left us, and they are ashamed to look at me."

She showed me around the kitchen first then took me through the two dormitories, the larger one for the younger boys and a smaller one for the older ones.

"You have no girls here," I asked.

"No. The girls are....they were taken from us right after the fall of the city. I can't bear to think of their fate. Some fled to the countryside. Most were forced into prostitution; girls for the soldiers."

She showed me through the tiny chapel, and a sparsely-equipped playground. I made a mental note to do something about some playground equipment before I left, and I thought I might donate something for the chapel in Jason's memory.

"Where has young Jason gone?" I asked. Calling him young Jason made me realize how difficult it was going to be.

"You are anxious to meet him," she said, smiling. "He's gone to the market."

"Is the market still in the old square?" I asked.

"Yes. You know it?"

"Yes. I will go meet him," I said.

"How will you know him?" she asked.

"I'll find him," I said, thinking to myself that if he was Jason's son, I could pick him out of a crowd. I walked along the dusty streets with the hot sun beating down, my baseball cap blocking it from my eyes. I was nervous, even a little apprehensive, and the closer I got to the market, my heart took on a new rhythm. The market was unchanged, probably for hundreds of years. Except at one tiny booth I saw flat, shallow boxes of things American and military, like clocks and other instruments taken from U.S. helicopters and other equipment, and other bric-a-brac, all no doubt abandoned by the Americans. But the market thrived, selling memorabilia of both sides.

I scanned the boys and young men walking through the market, knowing instantly that none of them could be him. I walked through it twice but didn't find him. Perhaps he had taken another route back, or had gone off to find some mischief. I walked back to the orphanage to see if he had arrived.

Sister Marie shook her head. "Well, he's off on one of his little wanderings," she said with some disdain.

"Does he wander off often?" I asked.

"He is his own boy," she said, with some helplessness in her tone. "He is restless. But he will return in time for supper. He does always come back; we just don't know where he disappears to."

"Don't you ever ask him?"

"Have you ever tried to open a clam?" she said.

I looked at my watch. "Well, there's probably not enough time to go to the Swiss Embassy today. I think I'll go for a walk; there are places I want to see again. Maybe I'll run into him."

"You will return for supper," she said.

"If I don't, please don't wait," I said. "I have a lot to see."

"Yes, I understand. You will return to stay the night, won't you? We can make up an extra bed in the dorm."

"No, Sister, let me find a place," I said with a glow of hope in my heart.

"The city is not the same as when you left it," she said by way of a warning.

"Yes, I'm sure. But the market was the same," I said.


Chapter Thirty-One

Return to Toby's

My first destination was Toby's, if it was still there. I walked past the market place to the park. There was nothing changed there except for the trees that had grown to sprawl over the area like umbrellas. I found the bench where I had sat so many times to sort things out. I sat down and found myself looking across the wide street at Toby's. Yeah, it was still there, looking none the worse for wear, and it still bore the name. It was hard to say how Toby, as a former American GI, might have weathered the fall of Saigon. I sat for a long time under the sprawling tree, somehow afraid to cross the street and go inside. Toby's name on the outside didn't mean Toby would be on the inside. Hell, he was a former American GI, anything could've happened to him. I didn't want to go in and find somebody else running the place. Who was I kidding? I didn't want to go in and not find Jason.

Of course, I went. I had to. Walking across the street, I felt like I was crossing a minefield, like at any moment, with the next step, everything could blow up in my face. It was a dream, after all, that I was even here. I pushed the door open slowly and went inside, hoping but only half expecting to see anything familiar. As my eyes slowly grew accustomed to the dim light, I saw a lot familiar. Hell, it looked like the same tables and chairs were all in the same places. The only thing that was different was the lack of young, boisterous American GIs. That, and it wasn't Toby behind the bar. My heart sank when I saw the younger guy polishing glasses and wiping off the bar. He was strikingly handsome, and well-built, with dark, close-cropped hair, dark snappy eyes and a very prominent, totally-American square jaw. He looked like a GI, but of course there were no longer any American GIs in Vietnam except those who had stayed behind rather than go back to the States, and he was too young to be one of those. He was great eye candy but he wasn't Toby.

I walked up to the bar and ordered a beer. That in itself was unfamiliar to me; Toby always had my beer sitting on the bar by the time I took a stool. The handsome young man took my money and I looked around, beer in hand. It was a gut-wrenching, painful moment of stark reality. He wasn't there and the stabbing pain in my gut told me I shouldn't have been looking for him; because he wouldn't be coming through the door either. Not this time; not ever again. The place was all too painfully familiar, except that the few people in the place were mostly Vietnamese. Someone came in and instinctively, I glanced at the door and in those seconds when my heart was in my throat I had the hope that it would be Jason. I looked away and downed half of my beer.

"You're American," the handsome bartender said.

"Yes." I glanced over my shoulder. "Not many of us here I see."

"You and Ransom, over there in the corner," he said, nodding to a dark corner of the bar. "There'll be more Americans later tonight."

I finally worked up the courage to ask if Toby was there.

"He's not in today," he said in a voice that made my toes curl, his voice was that sexy. I felt a great sense of relief that Toby was even still around, but tried not to show it.

"Where can I find him?" I asked.

"You can't find Toby unless he wants to be found," the guy said smartly.

"Okay, let's cut the smart shit," I said with a friendly smile. "I've traveled all the way from the States to see Toby. So I would like for you to tell me where he is, or tell him I'm here."

"Oh. You knew Toby before," he said, taken aback by my little outburst.

"Yeah. I asked for him, didn't I?"

"In that case, yes, sir, I can call him," he said, with a sudden change in his demeanor.

He made a phone call and told me Toby would be there in about a half hour. I took a table at the dark corner of the front window and nursed a couple of beers while I waited. My head was doing a slow spin, trying to conjure up all the images of times past but all it was doing was confusing me, and hurting me. I kept looking out on the street for GIs and kids following them, and other signs of American presence and it saddened me that none of it was there. For a few fleeting moments I let my mind dwell on the possibility of staying in Vietnam. Then finally I saw him, coming across the street from the park, wearing old jeans and a tank-top, both of which revealed what I remembered of his great body. He still had it. He had aged well, if hardly at all, except around the eyes. When he came in I didn't make myself known and he walked past my table and went behind the bar. I didn't know how he could've missed me except for the very dim lighting, and he wasn't paying any attention, or expecting me. I saw the kid point me out. Toby looked in my direction with a scowl; probably couldn't make me out in the dim light. He came around from behind the bar and walked toward me, and suddenly broke out in a big smile when he recognized me.

"Son-of-a-bitch! They don't give a damn who they let in this country now," he said.

I stood up and was pulled into a tight bear hug, which I returned with gusto. Godd, he felt good. Solid as ever. I could feel his muscles rippling beneath his clothes and I remembered those muscles rippling and bearing down on me the night we spent together before I left. I started to choke up as everything rushed back from that memory. He waved to the guy at the bar to bring us two beers then sat down.

"So how the fuck have you been?" he asked, as casually as if I'd just come back off leave.

"I'm doing okay," I said, swiping at a tear that had escaped. "I wasn't sure you would be here, though, after the fall of Saigon."

"Ho Chi Minh City now," he corrected me.

"Fuck Ho Chi Minh," I said. "It'll always be Saigon to me."

"To most of us. But you have to be careful about things like that," he said. "So what brings you back? Besides all the ghosts."

"One ghost in particular," I said.

He nodded. "You don't know how many times I've wished I could've changed the way things worked out," he said.

"Yeah, me too. But the more I wished, the more it hurt, so I stopped wishing," I said. "But it's not that ghost. Well, it is, but it isn't. I'm here to pick up Jason's son and take him back with me."

Toby's mouth dropped and he set his beer down, I think before he dropped it.

"His son!"

"Yes, I got a letter after I arrived back in the States, from the sister at the orphanage, telling me about the boy. Along with a note from the boy himself." I shrugged and looked down at the table and my hands wrapped around my beer. "I know what you're thinking," I said as I looked back up. "But I didn't have much choice, did I?"

"That was how many years ago? How old is he?"

"He's around seventeen I think."

"Well, son-of-a-bitch! The guy sure knows how to leave a legacy," he said. "How do you feel about it? Obviously, you're okay with it, you're here to get the kid and take him back."

"What else could I do?" I took a quick sip of beer to wash down the emotions that were welling up inside me. "He's the closest thing I'll ever have to Jason," I said, biting my lip.

"Are you going to adopt him?" Toby asked.

"I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead. I just want to get him back to the States."

"That's where he belongs, not here in this cesspool. Have you seen him yet?"

"No. I went to the orphanage but he was off on an errand," I said. "Actually, I don't think the good sister knows where he is. I get the impression he's been a bit of a problem for her."

"Teens is not a good age for boys over here, especially boys of American descent," Toby said.

"I don't think I like what you're implying," I said. "Although Sister Marie implied the same thing."

"Like it or not," he said with a shrug. "I'm not saying that's what's going on, but they're not too highly thought of, except for one thing. They pretty much treat them like garbage."

"What about the daughters of GIs?" I asked.

"Oh, they're all into prostitution, or the lucky ones are living in the homes of high-ranking officials. A few escaped, but probably to fare no better. Just be glad you came when you did to get that boy out of here."

"It's going to be a few more days," I said. "Apparently the paperwork isn't in order. The Swiss Embassy was supposed to notify Sister Marie of my arrival. I have to go to there tomorrow and see if I can get that straightened out."

"Shit, I wish I'd known, I could've taken him under my wing," Toby said.

"You could've kept him in line, that's for sure," I said. "Hey, I was worried when I walked in and saw the kid behind the bar," I said.

"That's Ryan."

"Ryan." I paused. "The name....and the way you say it.... says more than just Ryan," I said.

Toby smiled and shrugged. "What can I say? A guy's gotta settle down sometime," he said.

"No shit!"

"Yeah, it's kind of like that," he said, smiling. "His father worked at the American Embassy. He wanted to stay back when his dad was evacuated. I couldn't turn him down."

"I don't blame you. I couldn't have turned him down either," I said. "But how? I mean, the North wasn't all that sympathetic toward us GIs, or Americans in general. And his father surely didn't approve of him staying back."

"Money," he said, rubbing his fingers together. "And no, his father didn't approve. He was taking him back but the kid ran off at the last minute. I paid a guy to look after this place and took the kid and we went into Thailand till things quieted down. I'm still paying to keep the place open. It's like the fuckin' Mafia over here."

Toby and I talked while Ryan kept us in beer, but Toby never introduced us. I wondered if he wanted to keep some distance between me and the kid. Finally, I asked him about it.

"Look, Toby, the kid's a knock-out, so I know it's not because you're ashamed of him. So how come you haven't introduced us?"

"I was saving it," he said with a grin. "You think he's hot, huh?"

"Shit, he's a stud."

"Yes, he is that," he assured me.

"What the hell are you saving the introductions for?"

He waved Ryan over. "Ryan, this is Brad Courter. He was a regular back when, during the war. Brad, this is Ryan, my partner."

We shook hands. Even his hands were sexy. I wanted to ask what kind of partner, business or otherwise, but I didn't. It wasn't any of my business, and if Toby wanted me to know the details, he would tell me. I finished the beer in front of me.

"Look, I really need to get back to the orphanage. They're going to wonder what happened to me," I said.

"You're coming back," Toby said. "We've just barely scraped the surface in getting cau ght up."

"Hell, yes. We need to pull an all-nighter," I said.

"Where are you staying?" Toby asked.

"I don't have a place yet, but I was thinking I would get a room at the Trent if it's still in business." I couldn't help a tight-lipped smile.

Toby dropped his head with a sad look but a smile. "It's still there, but not exactly in business."

"What's that mean, not exactly in business?" I asked.

"I bought it a couple of years ago. Whoever had it after the war ended wasn't making a go of it. Just not enough American GIs wanting rooms after the fall. I paid ten times what it was worth. But it was going to be condemned and I just couldn't let it go under the wrecking ball. I've kept up minimum repairs, just to keep it open, but it's pretty much the same inside. I'm letting a guy live there to look after the place."

"So it is open," I said.

"The doors are open, but business isn't exactly flourishing," he said. "Let's just say you don't need reservations. It's mostly guys like yourself, who come back for one reason or other and knew the place before."

"Could I get a room?" I asked.

"You can have your pick," Toby said laughing. "But you can stay here," he offered.

"Wouldn't that be inconvenient?" I asked with a cocky smile.

"Not at all," he said. "There's room. Any room you want. Mine, his, or both."

I reared back in a double-take. "This is not the same Toby I remember," I said with a knowing grin.

"A lot of me would not be the same Toby you remember," he said. "And Ryan is a tiger in bed."

"You don't need to, uh....ask him about inviting overnight guests?"

"I pretty much know by now, what kind of overnight guests Ryan likes."

"Fuck, it's tempting, but....well, it was sort of a dream of mine. After I knew I was coming back, I wanted to go back to the Trent, if it was still standing," I said.

"I understand, but either way, we need to get together before you go back, for old times sake. If you want to, that is."

"Yes, I very much want to," I said. "Hell, man, you're all there is left of the place," I said, quickly choking down a surge of emotion.

Toby took a business card out of his pocket and handed it to me.

"Give this to Ralph at the hotel. It'll get you a room. He can't climb the stairs, so don't expect room service."

"Do I pay Ralph, or should I pay you now?" I asked.

"You don't pay anybody," he said.

"That could be the reason business isn't flourishing," I said as I dug into my pocket for money.

"If you bring money out of that pocket, I'm gonna have to break your arm," he said.

I knew he meant it and I didn't argue with him. I brought my hand out of my pocket and showed him it was empty. When he thought I was about to get up he reached over and put his hand firmly on mine.

"I can't tell you how fuckin' glad I am to see you back," he said, and it was his turn choke it down.

But I knew there was something more than being glad to see me that was causing his emotions to well up....something he hadn't said.

"There's one more thing," he said, pulling his hand back as he stood up. "I've got something for you; wait here."

I waited with a sense of mystery and a lot of apprehension. I knew in my gut that it had to do with Jason, and I could feel myself getting all tied up in knots and my breath coming hard. He came back from upstairs with an oversized envelope that had been opened. He sat down and laid the envelope on the table but kept his hand on it.

"You never wrote and for some reason we never exchanged addresses so I couldn't send this to you," he began. "Somehow, miraculously, it survived the plane crash. It wasn't addressed to anyone so it got bogged down in the military mail system. I'm surprised they didn't shit can it, but my name is mentioned in it and my place is pretty well known, sort of a landmark, so some compassionate soul delivered it to me. One of them has been opened, I suppose trying to determine who it should go to," he said as he pushed the envelope across the table to me.

"My Godd!" I breathed as I made a swipe at the tears welling up in my eyes. I looked into Toby's eyes.

"What's the matter? You don't even know what's in them," he said.

"No....no, but....for a minute, while you were talking, I was thinking that maybe you were going to tell me he was alive; that he had somehow survived the crash."

"Brad....No, man," he said in a pained voice, with a confused look.

"I know," I said, quickly waving him off. "I know. Hell, I took him back. I buried him. But it just came over me when you mentioned the crash, like a ghost, my head playing tricks on me." I fingered one of the envelopes, the one that'd been opened and taped shut.

"I never read 'em, except the one, and then only enough to know who it was to and from, then I taped it shut," Toby said. "I taped the other one shut, too, never read any of it."

"You've kept them all these years," I said, rather absently.

"Something, a gut feeling, told me you would end up back here someday. If I wasn't around, Ryan knew to give them to you."

"Thanks, Toby," I said looking down at my hand, trembling with the envelopes. "Look, I think I need to be alone with this. I don't know what's in these letters, but I'm pretty damned certain I'm not going to handle it well."

"Sure, I understand. Promise me you won't do anything stupid."

"Toby, if I was going to do anything stupid, I would've done it a long time ago," I said. On my way out I laid some money on the bar for my beer but Ryan pushed it back at me.

"Take it," I said.

"Yeah, right, and get fired?" he said and picked the money up and put it in my hand. I stuffed it in my pocket.


Chapter Thirty-Two

Letters From Jason

I walked along the streets of Saigon, emotions welling up inside me. I was surprised, on second look, how much had changed, yet so little. I recognized Marine House but it looked taller than I remembered. I wasn't billeted there....I was in a less fancy barracks, but I had been there on occasion. I counted the floors and realized it was indeed taller. It was nine stories now; it was only six before. And it was now the Star Hotel. That's when I also noticed the address was different. It used to be 204 Hong Thap Tu....everybody knew it....it was now 204 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. I decided I wanted to see more of what might have changed, or stayed the same, so I hired a cab.

It was mostly a drive-by tour but I had him stop at the Presidential Palace, which was now, he informed me, The Reunification Palace. He proudly informed me of tours they offered of the private quarters and the war command room, and of films they showed. Yeah, I really wanted to see a propaganda film of how they liberated the South from the evil Americans and slaughtered a few million citizens in the process. I told him no, I wouldn't be going inside. I just wanted to see the palace. What struck me was that the tanks that had crashed through the gates during the siege were still standing sentry in the entryway. The tanks were well kept and there were flowers growing around them now. As I stood looking at the place I wondered what the outcome might have been if President Ngo Dwong had not been assassinated; and wondered still, why we did it.

I got back in the cab and we drove on. There were some new buildings here and there but in the old city things still looked familiar. Except that I recognized certain places, I might have become confused with some of my surroundings. Back in my familiar territory, I paid the cab driver and walked.

I hadn't come for closure, not particularly, but I was searching for it just the same, and I was finding it to a degree. I guess I did want some kind of unspecified closure so I could say I left it behind. It was easy, almost comforting to walk and soak up sensations, like the smell of kerosene, and a wet, soupy smell, like fish sauce and some unsavory, cheap part of a pig. Then from nowhere, would come a hint of jasmine, and something like the smell of oranges.

I walked, feeling suddenly weighted down by the letters in my pocket but even that didn't change the feeling of being home again. I still missed it. I missed seeing other GIs and hearing the vulgar banter. Fuck, I missed the war! It had been a time of my coming of age; and growing old before my time, but I loved it. And once again thoughts of staying crept back in my head.

I was afraid to take the letters out of my pocket. I wasn't sure if I was searching for a place to read them; or a reason not to. I didn't realize it but I was still, after all these years, a creature of habit; I found myself crossing the street, heading toward the Trent Hotel. It had always been my refuge, and it was again.

Toby was right; it was pretty badly run down. I stood for a long moment just staring at the place, and there was a tugging inside of me as I approached the entrance. Inside, the lobby was as I'd left it the last time I walked out of the place, except Ralph was older than the guy who used to be behind the desk. I handed him Toby's card and he nodded and reached into a box and handed me a key. I looked at it.

"Number 238," I said, handing the key back to him.

He nodded, dug around in the box and handed me the key to number 238. I walked to the stairs, clutching the key tightly in my hand. The stairs creaked under my weight, but they'd done that before; it was a good and familiar sound. I went up the stairs and paused at the top with the dim hallway in front of me. It was a haunting maw that both beckoned me and cried out not to be disturbed. It seemed to say to me there were memories down there that should be left alone. But they were my memories, not those of a stranger, and I had come a long way back. I had a right to be there.

There were no lights in the hallway, only the small, dirty window at the end. I walked down to number 238 where we had spent most of our times together; the number was still on the closed door. I wondered for the first time why it was numbered 238; there were probably not even thirty-eight rooms in the entire place. For some reason, I knocked. I didn't know why; I'd never done that before. I'd always gone in first and would be waiting for him. But I knocked then actually paused, waiting for a voice to tell me to come in. But there was only the silence of an old, decrepit building, except for the soft creaking of the hinges as I slowly opened the door.

Old memories flooded my mind as I went inside; of the great times we'd had here, the laughter, the quiet times, and of course the sex. My Godd, the incredible sex! I felt choked up as the memories threatened to drown me. I was stunned to see that nothing had changed. Just like Toby said, the room was still the same. The bed was still there, in the same spot and there was the same rickety chair. I smiled, remembering that chair. I looked around then walked over and sat on the chair. Gazing at the bed, I imagined Jason walking in, all smiles, looking so damned handsome and rugged with a few days growth of beard that always made him look more ruggedly handsome. Then he would sit on the edge of the bed untying his boots, getting naked for me. He would come out of the alcove that served as a bathroom, still drying off, with his cocky grin and a "what?" look on his face because I was staring at him. He never got used to me looking at him, and I never tired of it.

The room was musty so I opened the window on the side street then went over to the bed. Even the soft creaking under my weight was a familiar sound. I sat for a long time, staring into space, trying to bring it all back, aching for a replay of history. I was about to cry. After a long moment I took out the two letters, now sealed with tape. On one was a message that read; "Do not read this until you have read the other letter first." So I picked up the other envelope. My hands trembled as I carefully removed the tape and then took the letter from the envelope. I took in a deep breath as I unfolded the pages. I glanced away at the open window before I could focus on the page.

Hey, Buddy, I drove up in the hills behind my parents' home where I'm sitting with my back to a tree, sipping piss-warm beer and writing to you. It's late evening, the sun's about to go down and yeah, I'm sitting in the woods writing a fuckin' letter when I should/could be in town banging some chick's brains out. I don't know if I'll mail this or hand carry it and give it to you when I get back in country.... or if I'll maybe find my balls and say it all to your face. If you're reading this letter it's because I chickened out from telling you in person. I hope it still suits the purpose.

I paused to put things in perspective in my mind, like when he had written it....he was writing this when he'd gone home on leave. He was on that fateful journey from which he never returned. I read on.


How I came to write this was pure logic, at least for me; as only you would understand my logic. I've asked myself, would I lay down my life for you. The answer is an unequivocal YES; without question or hesitation. I would take a bullet for you or a grenade. Well, if I had that kind of courage, why was I being such a pussy about laying the truth on the line? So here I am, about to do just that. (Fuck, the hills and woods and the sun going down remind me of Vietnam. It's beautiful. I want to be back there).

When I arrived back here in the States, the first thing I noticed was the peace freaks, of course. They were practically everywhere, and sad to say, I saw my own brother at one of their rallies. But that's not the reason for writing this letter. I guess I'll start by telling you that I hooked up with some of my ex-girlfriends while I was here and it wasn't the same. We had a lot of fun and I liked the sex, naturally, but it just wasn't the same as before. Before what, I asked myself. When I thought about it, I could only come to one conclusion. I finally decided that you had become the standard when it comes to me getting off. It's a crude way to put it, maybe, but it's the truth of the matter, and the only way I know how to put it. Anyway, I've sort of been down in the dumps since I came back. I was looking for something but can't put my finger on it, and knowing all the time that I wouldn't find it here, whatever it was. My mind seems to be going in all directions; sort of like I was back to being a POW is the best I can describe it.

I miss Vietnam. I miss the fuckin' war, dammit! I can't wait to get back to it. Most of all, I miss you! I lay in bed in my old room and I can't sleep because I'm thinking about you. Not that we slept together on a regular basis, but lying in my old bed, I want you here with me so damned bad. I need to be back there, in country, with you. If you still don't have a clue why I'm writing this, what I'm trying to say is that I love you man. I know, I told you that before, but what I'm telling you now is different; I love you more than a friend and more than a brother. I hope you understand why I had to write instead of tell you; it's just so hard to tell you right to your face. Yeah, I'm a coward after all. And you kept telling me how courageous I am, when all along it was you who had the balls. When you said "I love you" to me for the first time, I didn't say it back. One; back then I still wasn't sure about anything, least of all myself, and two, I didn't have your balls. But I admired you for saying it. It took guts to say those words and you said it, buddy, right out, honest and bold as hell. Now it's my turn. I love you buddy, as a man, more than you'll ever know.

Honestly, I don't know what it all means; I don't know if I can be even a little bit gay for you, but it never mattered to you that I was straight. And even if I am, I don't think it'll matter to me either, because love knows no boundaries, right? So if I'm straight and you're gay, what difference will it make, because with no boundaries separating us we won't be able to tell where straight ends and gay begins. So I make you this promise-and if you're reading this, you've got it in writing to hold me to it-I will love you every way I know how, and I'll learn from you and love you every way a man can love another man.

Jason

I took in a deep breath. My lower lip was quivering and my chest heaving with sobs fighting to get out. I was alone, and in familiar surroundings; why was I holding it back? I think because I knew there was more and I needed to hold off. There was more to the mystery. It was contained in the second letter, and I wanted, needed, to save all those pent-up emotions for whatever was on those other pages. After a moment of composing myself, I took out the other letter and opened it. When I removed the pages and carefully unfolded them, I noticed little wet circles here and there, and some of the writing was smeared, like it'd started to rain, or maybe Jason had been crying while writing it.

Dear Brad:

I am assuming you read the other first letter. I'm writing this one at the airport where I will soon be boarding a plane, on my way back in country; heading back to you, buddy. Something hit me while I was sitting here waiting on the plane; like what if something happened and I didn't make it back. I never had that feeling before; not even when I was out in the fuckin' wet, soppy jungle, or even when I was captured. But it hit me, and I needed to write you again. So, if you're reading this letter, then I guess I didn't make it.

I will say upfront that my greatest regret is that you and I didn't make it together, not like we should have. I mean....like I wanted to, deep down, but didn't realize it in time, or didn't have the balls to admit it and follow through. If you're wondering what's going through my mind while I am writing this (and now, you're reading it), it is this; I love you so damn much, and I wish it didn't have to end like this, I wish we didn't end like this, man. I would have loved to be with you forever but I guess forever doesn't work for us, huh. I know that right now you're devastated because that's how I would feel if I lost you. But you're stronger than that. We're stronger than that. I may be dead but that won't stop me from loving you, Brad, from another place, and it can't stop you from going on with your life, hard as that might be for a while. After all, if there is life after death, then there must be love after death. I hope you feel the same way.

Someone wrote that if you love someone you have to let them go and trust that they will come back. With that said, I have to also say that if you really love me then you have to let me go. I know you man, you're probably still looking at my pictures or wearing my jocks and underwear, and thinking that you would do that kinda flatters me, but it also scares the shit out of me because I don't want you to live with my ghost. (We had too much "in the flesh" for you to do that.) I keep thinking/hoping that you'd never wanta forget about me and that's fine; I don't want to forget about you or what we had, either. It was special, putting it mildly. But just because I'm gone doesn't mean you have to be dead too. Look, just promise me that you'll start living again, and be happy for the both of us. I don't know how you fill in the blanks....maybe just remember me at certain times....but I know you're stronger than just letting yourself die inside. Hell, man, you're a Marine. Look, I'm starting to tear up and people are watching me. Just know that wherever I am, I'm loving you....till we can be together again. Gotta go.

Your buddy forever,

Jason

I managed a smile through the tears streaming down my face. My hands were shaking so badly, I dropped the letter. The ache in my chest was worse and I thought I might be having a heart attack. Suddenly I hunkered forward with my hands over my face and sobbed uncontrollably, so full of remorse and regret and guilt that I couldn't stand it. Why was life so cruel? How was I supposed to be strong enough to handle this? Godd, it was such an awful thing to discover that the man I loved so deeply loved me back and I never knew it. I was awash with guilt that I actually had gotten on with my life before he told me to; before he gave me permission to live again. I had gotten on with such gusto that I'd nearly turned into a male slut. Godd, how could I have done that to him, when he loved me the way he did. Dammit, why didn't he tell me when he had the chance!!!

I was surprised at my anger at him, and ashamed, and I quickly subdued it. I lay back on the bed with my forearm across my eyes, my body still wracked with silent sobs, my stomach muscles aching from them. Finally, I regained my composure. If Jason was up there looking down on me, he would be sorely ashamed. I sat up and looked all around. I got up and walked around the room, taking in every detail of the walls and the furniture. I went into the alcove and the bathtub that we had shared. I could almost feel the warmth of his hard muscles against me, his abs rippling and dancing against my back when he held me and laughed. I could smell him, clean and ready. I could even smell his male musk before he showered.

I couldn't bring myself to leave. There were too many memories in this room and something in me thought if I stayed long enough, and willed it hard enough, I could bring them to life. I went back and stretched out on the bed. I wondered if the ceiling fan still worked. I wondered if he would be late, or if he would show at all. I heard a soft creaking sound in the hallway and rose up, my heart thumping in my throat, my eyes glued to the door. But it never opened, and there was no more sound. I closed my eyes and willed his tall, muscular body to be beside me, and then moving on top of me. I felt my legs lift of their own volition, preparing to receive him. I brought my arms up to wrap them around....but there was nothing but empty space. I relaxed, let my arms fall, and started to cry again, angry at my cock that had prepared me for action.

I cried my guts out. I couldn't stop. I didn't know it was possible to feel so much pain and agony from inside. When there were no more tears, I lay quietly and listened to the silence till a sense of calm came over me.

After composing myself, I left the Trent and walked quietly along the routes that Jason and I used to walk. I walked towards the park and found the spot, the bench under the now sprawling trees, but I didn't sit down. I walked on, to the spot where Jason and I used to say our goodbyes, down from the guard shack. I remembered how Jason would wave, then turn around and start walking, not stopping, and not turning back. Without a word, I started walking away, also not looking back. I headed back to Toby's.

Toby was sitting at the bar on the last stool, doing some bookwork. When he saw me come in he nodded for Ryan to draw us two beers. I took the stool beside him and nodded my thanks to Ryan when he set the beer in front of me. Toby waited for me to say something and when I didn't, he asked, "So, how'd it go?"

"Not good," I said. "Not good at all."

"I'm sorry," he said.

"I want you to read the letters," I said.

"All right."

"I need somebody else to know; to understand," I said.

"All right," he said again. He slid off the stool and put his bookwork under the counter then picked up the two beers in one hand and the letters in the other. He motioned me toward a table in a corner with a small window facing the side street. We sat down and he pushed my beer in front of me. I took a long swig and watched as he took the first letter out of the envelope. I watched his eyes and his facial expressions as he read. There was surprise, and dismay, and even hurt. He never looked at me once. He looked up at me when he was finished with it and I could see the hurt in his eyes was for me. He still didn't say anything. He guzzled his beer down and told Ryan to bring us two more. Then he took out the other letter.

"Geezussss!" he whispered at one point, and it was the only thing he said the whole time he read. Finally, when he was finished, he laid his hands on the table, still holding the second letter. He didn't look up at me for a long time. He just sat gazing at the letter. Finally, he folded it up and put it back in the envelope. Then he looked at me and I saw he was teared up.

"I don't know what to say," he said quietly

"You don't have to say anything; I just wanted you to read them," I said.

"I am so fuckin' sorry, Brad, about everything. Him dying, and now this, when it's too late. I wish I'd read the damn things sooner, and tried to get in touch with you instead of letting them lay around all this time. But I felt I should respect your privacy."

"I should've kept in touch with you," I said, sadly. "Thanks for the room, by the way," I added. I stopped before I choked up. I looked down till I regained my composure then looked back up at Toby. "You know how people say they'd give anything if this were true, or if that could happen? Well, I would give anything if I could have him back, even for just one night. I mean it, Toby. I would give my life for that. If I could have him for one more night, now, knowing what I do from those letters, I would gladly get on that plane with him, and die with him."

"He wouldn't want you to be talking like that," Toby said.

"I'm gonna die young anyway," I said.

Toby reared back, his head cocked in surprise.

"I'm gonna die of a broken heart, man," I said.

"No. You've got Jason, Jr. now," he said.

"But he's not Jason," I said. "He's not the man I loved, or the man who loved me."

Toby tapped his fingers on the envelopes containing the letters. "He expected you to be stronger than that," he said.

"Then he expected too damn much," I said. "He didn't know how much I loved him. He died before he knew."

"You'll pull through this, Brad," Toby said. "Once you get that boy on the plane, headed back to the States......"

"Once I get on that plane, I'll be leaving it all behind again," I cut in. "And you know what? I don't wanta do that. I don't wanta go back. I would rather stay. I feel closer to him here. My Dad was afraid that was the reason I was coming back, to stay. Fuck, I miss the war."

"There is no more war. You need to take the boy back," he said.

"Why? I could stay and raise him here. There's gotta be something an ex-GI can do here in this new country, in this new economy. Hell, look at you. You've weathered so many storms."

"No, you take him back," he said sternly. "You can't make a life for him here. Not the life he deserves. He's Jason's son. He's got a right to live in the States. Jason fought for that right."

I lowered my head, trying to feel ashamed of myself, but I didn't.

"I know. I'll take him back," I said, nodding.

"Listen....." He paused, glancing down, then back up at me. "I mentioned us getting together, maybe even with Ryan."

"Yeah, I still wanta do that," I said.

"How about....without Ryan?" he asked, rather hesitantly. "How about just you and me."

I nodded. Hot as Ryan was, I liked Toby's idea. "Yeah, that'd be great." Suddenly I felt ashamed that I was talking about having sex with Toby with Jason's letters lying on the table right in front of me. But, hell, he would understand that. He knew me that well. He had told me to get on with my life, and this would be my last time back in country.

"Look, I, uh....I don't want you to misinterpret what I'm about to say....it's just a thought....but....well, we could go back there....if you want...." He stopped, as if he suddenly thought it was a bad idea, but he didn't say it was.

I gazed across the table at him, my mouth slack, and I felt my lower lip quiver. I swallowed, hard; so hard it was audible.

"To the Trent," I said.

"Maybe it's a bad idea," he said finally, with a shrug.

"No," I said quickly. "No, it's not a bad idea."

"I don't mean I could be Jason for you," he said. "But maybe a cheap imitation.....?" he added with a thin smile.

"You wouldn't have to be him," I said. I paused and bit my lip so I wouldn't say anything else.

"Okay," he said. "I know you've got a lot to take care of. Drop back by when you're ready."

"Tonight?" I asked.

"Tonight would be great," he said.

We were finished and I felt better for the moment. We both stood. Toby picked up the empty bottles and I took my letters.

"Listen, instead of me coming back here, why don't you meet me there, about nine. Room 238," I said. He got my meaning. I wanted to be waiting on him, like with Jason....like before.


Chapter Thirty-Three

Meeting Jason, Jr.

I left Toby's and headed back to the orphanage. Even with the letters in my pocket I was tingly inside with the prospect of getting together with Toby. The warm sun felt good and with a little imagination, I could feel myself back in Saigon instead of fuckin' Ho Chi Minh City. It pissed me off that the United States had capitulated and called it an honorable withdrawal but maybe the South had it coming. It was all one country, with two political factions, but one of those factions didn't believe strongly enough in the cause to fight to the end. Hell, Ho Chi Minh never gave up; he lived in the hills with his men and stuck it out to the bitter end. The South was too interested in grabbing power and making a quick buck on the situation, namely the US presence there. They expected the United States to fight their war for them. They didn't give a fuck about their country.

Suddenly I saw a tall, muscular teenage boy coming toward me. He was strikingly handsome with his flawless skin and high cheekbones, wearing sandals and the traditional brown pajama pants, with no shirt. I stopped in my tracks and watched the cocky sway to his broad shoulders and his tight stomach muscles rippling when he walked, the already well-developed chest muscles and his muscular arms and shoulders. He was unmistakably Jason's son. He would be seventeen now. Given a few more pounds and the hardened lines of combat, I could have imagined that it was Jason walking toward me. The ache inside me pulled me in that direction, so hard that I wanted to run and greet my old friend. But I forced myself to face reality; that this was not Jason. I waited till he was within a dozen yards then I started to walk toward him. When we were close enough that he almost swerved to pass me I said his name.

"Jason? Jase?" I said.

He stopped, reared back with surprise, and a frown.

"Do I know you?" he asked, sounding a little surly. I was impressed with his perfect English, with a slight but beautiful Vietnamese accent.

"I'm Brad Courter....your dad's buddy."

I've never seen such an expression of shocked surprise and intense happiness.

"Mr. Courter! I did not know you would be here!" he exclaimed and took a hesitant step toward me. I thought at first that he was going to hug me but he held back. I didn't know for what reason, but I held back as well. Maybe it wasn't good that two males showed such emotion in public. I knew American GIs did it all the time, but he was part Vietnamese and this was not old Saigon.

"The Sister said no one notified her," I said. He was close enough that I could feel his body heat, even in the heat of the sun. I wanted so bad to pull him into my arms in a tight bear hug that I had so often shared with his father.

He was so excited that his mouth moved but he couldn't talk. I laughed and put my hand on his shoulder. "Do you have everything?" I asked, nodding to the basket he was carrying, filled with vegetables and other things I couldn't identify.

"Yes. I was heading back," he said.

"I think Sister Marie is waiting, I'll walk with you," I said. We both turned and walked in the direction of the orphanage. I wondered what had taken him so long. "You speak such good English," I said.

"Yes, we learned English at the school when I went," he said.

"You don't go to school now?" I asked with a frown.

He looked down and away from me. "No, I....I had to start a life for myself."

"You knew I was coming for you," I said.

"But till you did....and I wasn't sure, about our two governments." He shrugged it off and I dropped it for the moment. But he added, "I was not made so welcome at the school anyway."

I was surprised that I didn't feel pure elation to be walking beside the handsome boy. I was happy, but it wasn't elation. I think I was already feeling the weight of responsibility, and maybe regret that it wasn't Jason. Back at the orphanage, Sister Marie scolded him for taking so long; it would mean that supper would be delayed. He half cowered before her, but I wasn't sure if it was put on for her benefit. He offered to help her and the nuns with supper.

"See, she puts you to work for being late," I chided him.

"I always help out in the kitchen," he said.

The younger nun beside him smacked him on the shoulder. "We can't ever find you when it's time to make supper," she said.

Jase broke out laughing as he cowered away from her.

"You're only offering to help now to impress Mr. Courter," the nun accused him.

"Maybe I need to impress Mr. Courter," he said.

"Yes, you don't have a passport yet," I warned.

The meal was an experience in itself, with two dozen boys eating and chattering among themselves, in English and Vietnamese. Suddenly Jase pounded the table.

"Speak English!" He pointed at certain of the boys. "You.... you....you....you....you are Americans by birth! You know English, speak it!"

The younger boys cowered under his tirade and it was quiet for a few minutes before they started talking again, this time in English.

"Are you staying here with us?" he asked me as the boys began to chatter again.

"No, it's a bit crowded. I have a room," I said.

"You could share my room," Jase said. "It's small, I only have a cot, but you can have it, I'll sleep on the floor." I was taken aback, not by his offer, but by the impossible prospect of sharing a small room with the boy. Of course, I couldn't. I was almost ashamed of the thoughts rushing through my head; more ashamed that I was having such thoughts in the presence of the nuns.

"Thanks, but I have a place; and there are some people I would like to see while I'm here," I said. "I'll be back in the morning. But I have to go to the embassy first."

He gave me an odd look and I suddenly realized that it was a look of doubt. He didn't trust me to come back for him! At that moment I began to realize what a long uphill trek I had ahead of me in trying to raise the boy, and to get him to trust me. I got his attention with my hand and directed his eyes to mine. "I will be back for you," I declared.

After we'd eaten, I left the orphanage and headed for the Trent. I knew deep inside that I was playing games with my head but with enough imagination it could be just like old times, or as Toby had said, a cheap imitation. It was nightfall and the night was coming to life. I wondered if Toby still operated his place as a clandestine gay bar now that the Americans were gone.

On the way....out of my way, actually....I went past my old barracks. It was still there, even the guardhouse, but it was occupied now by Vietnamese troops. I nodded to the handsome young soldier on duty in the guardhouse. He nodded back, but with his best soldierly scowl. I walked on past the guardhouse, smiling when I saw the tree where I had tossed the condom that Jason had used on Ling. I hoped the young guard didn't see me and think I was laughing at him. I walked over and sat on the edge of the brick wall that surrounded the barracks compound and watched the bustle of people and traffic, and now and then glanced at the tree, trying to pick out the limb where the condom had hung. I wondered who had found it, and what they must have thought of one so large. A sudden pall came over me, like a shroud of doom wrapping around me. I didn't know why. I looked over my shoulder at the barracks, bewildered. I had a gnawing feeling something terrible had happened there but I couldn't grasp any memory of it. After a few minutes, the young guard approached me and nodded that I should move on.


Chapter Thirty-Four

Back to The Trent Hotel

The closer I got to the Trent the more I thought it was a foolish thing I was doing. Foolish that I was trying to bring back a war that was fought so long ago. But I kept walking. I passed a young Vietnamese couple coming toward me, laughing and holding hands, and a little ways behind them, an older woman, hunched over in a dark gray dress like those worn when I was here last. She had a market basket. Before, I would have been suspicious that she was carrying a bomb in her basket. I slowed my pace as they passed me by.

I went inside. Ralph remembered me. He gave me a toothy smile and handed me the key to room 238. I went up the once-more familiar stairs and made my way quietly down the hall, peering into the rooms to see if they were empty. They all were as far as I could tell. If there was anyone else in the building, they didn't make themselves known. I went into number 238 and closed the door behind me. It was different this time, from when I'd come here to read the letters. Perhaps it was the games I was playing in my head that made it so.

I turned the light switch but the tiny bulb offered no more than the light of a candle. I turned it off, and was satisfied with the soft light coming in the window from the street. It would be safe now to leave the shutters open. I tried the ceiling fan this time. It made a soft whirring sound but the blades didn't move, as if it couldn't suck up enough power to get started. Finally the blades began to move slowly and they didn't go much faster. I punched the stem on my watch to check the time. Five till nine. I started to undress and my imagination, fueled by old memories, revved up. I knew I was waiting on Toby, yet I could already feel another presence in the room; a strange presence that could not be Toby. I stripped the bed and turned the sheets then I moved the chair close to the bed and laid my clothes on it. When I was naked I stretched out on the bed to wait. I wished there was more light but my eyes were adjusted to the darkness and I could see well enough. The ceiling fan hadn't picked up any speed.

There was always something magical about lying there listening to the soft whir and watching the blades float around and around, and it was so this time. I listened for the sound of someone coming but heard nothing for a long time, till the sound of creaking floorboards in the hallway got my attention. I tensed and laid my hand on the chair and my clothes, hoping to hell it wasn't some drunk or druggie looking for a place to sleep it off. As the door opened I heard my name.

"Brad." It came as a deep, husky whisper that sent chills down to my toes.

"Yeah, in here," I whispered back.

The door opened completely and I got the shock of my life. For a fleeting, frozen moment in time the figure standing there in full combat gear was Jason come back to life. I sat up with a gasp then heaved out a sigh of relief, or maybe it was disappointment.

"You said you missed the war," he said. Was it Jason's voice, or Toby's? But the war was over; no American GI could be seen on the streets in combat gear.

"Fuck!" was all I could say as I sat up. When I stood, my legs were shaking. "H-how....you didn't walk here dressed like that," I said.

"No, I carried everything in a bag and changed in another room," he said. "I hope it's okay."

"It's....more than okay," I said breathlessly.

"I thought it might bring a little of it back for you," he said.

"Maybe...." I said, and my voice trailed off.

"What?" he asked.

"I don't know, I.... I felt a presence in the room before you got here. It was like you filled that presence when you walked in looking like that," I said. "Shit, so much came back; I almost called you Jason."

"I'll be him if you want me to be," he said huskily.

It was as if the pieces of a puzzle were falling into place all around me. But as the picture of my life took shape, it was all different. I was years younger and there was a damned war on, and this was our respite from it, in room 238 of the Trent Hotel. I let the fantasy begin, and let myself get caught up in it.

"When did you get in?" I asked and was surprised how easily I fell into the charade.

"A couple of hours ago. I knew you would be waiting so I didn't take time to shower or change," he said.

"Just tell me, what're you wearing under the uniform?"

"That sexy jock underwear you bought for me. I always wear it when I go out," he said. "It keeps me company," he added with a chuckle.

We easily settled into our roles and I was happy. I stood squarely in front of him and clasped my hands on his shoulders and looked into his eyes. In the near darkness he looked older, but the war did that to guys. Already I could breathe in the smell of him.... the smell of his manly sex....plus soap, incense, diesel, and oranges. I knew from the smell of him that I was complete for the moment.

I punched him in the stomach and chest at the same time, playful but hard. It didn't faze him; he was so solid. "Sometimes I feel like smashing you in the face," I said

"Why? What'd I do?" he asked innocently.

"You worry me, dammit. I almost get sick when you don't come back in when I think you should. You go out there in the goddamned jungle like you're shooting birds, like you don't know that these birds can shoot back."

"I know they can shoot back. One hit me one time," he said.

"Fuck, man, why didn't you tell me when you had the chance?"

"Tell you what?"

"That you loved me. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I did," he said.

"But not so I could hear you say the words," I said.

"I wanted to," he said. "Fuck, I wanted to so many times, but I just couldn't get it out. I tried to show you....how about if I say it now? Would that make up for it? I'll show you, too. I mean, I'll back it up, every word. I'll make you believe it."

"I always believed it," I said. "I just wanted to hear you say it."

"I love you, man. I love you so fuckin' much, Brad, I wish I could've said it but now I'm saying it and...." Suddenly he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me against his rough uniformed body and kissed me.

It was a kiss like I hadn't had in years; so long that the only memories I had were of the same kiss in this very room, in these very arms. It was hard and passionate, and even unforgiving, his full lips smashed against mine, his tongue prying them apart and searching my mouth. I let out a low, guttural, squealing moan as I practically climbed his frame in returning his kiss. I was out of breath by the time we parted; we both were. And I had a hardon.

"Now if you'll let me get out of all of this gear, I wanta prove myself," he said, easing me back away from him. "Seeing you standing there like that, feeling you against me, it's got my testosterone boiling."

"Well, you can see what you did to me," I said, giving my hard cock a gentle smack.

"That's not near all I'm gonna do to you," he said as he began removing his gear.

I helped him, taking his web belt with the canteen and ammo pouches and bayonet as he removed them. I took his jacket and his outer shirt then stood back to watch him peel off his T-shirt. The sight of his massive upper body took my breath away; the way his big, thick pecs were shelved out over the slope of his ripped abs. His tits stuck out like two big pencil erasers. He saw me looking at them.

"You like my pecs, don't you?" he said, flicking his left nipple with his fingers.

"You know I do," I said huskily.

"Show me," he said as he reached out and pulled my head to his chest. I met his left pec with my open mouth and licked his turgid nipple. "Awwww, yeah, show me," he moaned as I sucked and nibbled on his tit.

After a moment he pushed me away and leaned down to drag his tongue across my chest.

"Nice fuckin' headlights yourself," he murmured.

I shivered as he flicked my tits and sucked on them. I reached for his belt and found it already dangling open. I pulled on the buckle but the belt caught on something in back. Toby--Jason, now-- reached back and held it and pulled the belt out himself. He laid the KaBar knife and its sheath on the chair then put the belt around my neck. His full lips curled into a near-snarling smile as he pulled my face to his and locked his lips around mine to kiss me again. I moaned and kissed him back, hard, as I fumbled with the buttons of his pants. My hands were shaking and he laughed softly as he reached down and undid them himself. Then he broke away and sat on the edge of the bed to take off his combat boots....Godd, it was just as I had imagined it before, when I was alone in the room. I watched his triceps ripple and dance as he unlaced his boots, then bulge mightily as he pulled them off. He took off his socks and stuffed them inside the boots then stood to take off his pants. His thick pecs came into motion, bulging, and his shoulders and every muscle came into play as he shoved them down. His thighs bulged as he balanced himself on one foot then the other to take them off. I felt myself getting hotter and hotter, and short of breath with every move he made.

He hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his shorts but then hesitated. "I'm gonna put my boots back on," he said.

Yes, he remembered every detail. How did he know, I wondered vaguely. I watched in breathless silence as he sat back down and slipped his socks and boots back on and laced them up.

"There," he said as he tied the second knot and stood again. Again, he hesitated, looking at me. Really looking at me. "Fuck!" he said in a hoarse whisper as he shoved his shorts down. It wasn't the jock underwear I'd bought for Jason but I pretended it was. He struggled to get them off over his boots, and then tossed them on the bed. He looked at me again, and then moved toward me. I met him. His cock had come to full attention, thrusting itself against my thighs, bobbing up and down against my balls. My own cock bobbed against his hip. He leaned down to suck my tits again. After a moment he stopped and said, "I should have taken a shower."

"No," I said. "I want you just the way you are." He smelled fine, like a man, and I thought he said it for effect.

"All right, you asked for it," he said as he wrapped one arm around my waist. He guided me to the bed and when I was bent over with one knee in the edge of the mattress he clasped his hands on my butt.

"Fuck, I've missed this," he said hoarsely as he squeezed my butt muscles hard.

"But you're gonna make up for it," I said.

"Damn right." He rubbed his thick, hot cock up and down the crack of my ass and I fully expected him to shove it in me as I stood ready with my legs spread at the edge of the bed. I could feel his precome making me slick and ready for him. But again he stopped.

"Lay down across the bed with your head this way," he said.

I stretched out across the bed with my head on the edge of the mattress. It was a position I was familiar with, one that enabled me to take his big cock down my throat more easily with my head tilted back. But he moved around to the other side of the bed, at my feet. I lifted my head, wondering what he was going to do. When he ran his hands up my legs, I thought he was going to lift them onto his shoulders and fuck me, but I didn't know why he had positioned me this way on the bed. He moved up over me, his knees in the mattress now and pushed my legs wider apart as he squeezed my thighs. I let out a little gasp as he cupped my balls with one hand and wrapped his other hand around my burgeoning cock.

"W-what're you d-doing?" I stammered, and had my answer as he leaned over my middle, while wetting his lips. "No, Jason....you don't have to do this," I said.

He looked up at me, a bewildered look in his eyes, as his big fist moved up and down the shaft of my cock. "I said I was going to show you....I'm going to back up what I said, so you know I meant it."

I opened my mouth to say something else but only a loud, "Aww, Fuck, Jason, I know you meant....Ohhh, Fuck....Oh, Goddd!" came out as he lowered his mouth around my cock. I laid my head back down, whimpering with emotion as he began sucking my cock. "I know you meant it....I just wanted to hear you say it," I whimpered.

I didn't know if he heard me; if I said it loud enough so he could, but he paid no attention. The only sounds were the grinding whir of the fan overhead, plus his soft, wet slurping noises on my cock, and an occasional moan, like he was enjoying what he was doing. I lay with my head lifted, gaping in disbelief at the incredible sight of the big hunk sucking my cock. He was working hard at it, choking on my size as he tried to take too much and I put my hands on his shoulder and his head to ease him off a little.

"You don't have to....." I was going to say, ".....swallow it all," but he rose up and cut me off.

"Just let me do it," he said huskily, and went back down on my cock.

I lay my head back and closed my eyes and drifted into another time when I had only dreamed of this happening. I was in two different worlds in one universe, in both a conscious and a subconscious state. Like an out of body experience, I was with Toby, watching a younger version of myself with Jason.

I let myself believe he was making love to me this last time....and this time I truly believed he was. I reveled in the exquisite pleasure of his mouth moving up and down on my cock. Each time he put more pressure on the head against the opening of his throat. He was determined to take me in his throat. I didn't try to stop him. Rather, I brought my legs up and crossed my ankles on his back. He wrapped his muscular arms around my thighs and brought them in tighter against his face. I went a step further and put him in a headlock and humped my butt up off the mattress, fucking his mouth.

"MMmmmnnnnhhhhh!" he moaned as he forced my cock into his throat.

"Aaaahhhhh!" I cried out as I plunged halfway to his stomach.

He smashed his face hard into my groin, and I could feel his rough, whiskered chin against my balls. He held me deep for a surprisingly long time, fighting down several attempts to choke and gag. Finally, his gag reflex got the best of him and he had to rise up, choking and coughing. I released the headlock and let my legs lay loosely across his back.

"Shit, that's about more cock than I can handle," he said.

"You were doing great," I told him.

"I can do better," he said, and went back down on me.

I let him suck me for a bit longer, but then I was tingling from want and the intense desire to have my hands on him, and have his cock in my mouth as well. I wanted him so bad that way. Fuck, didn't he know he didn't have to prove anything to me this way? Finally, I couldn't stand it.

"Jason....please....swing around here so I can have you, too," I said.

He gave my cock a few more deep slurps then raised his head with his lop-sided grin spread across his face. "That's the first time you ever begged for my cock," he said.

"It's the first time I've had to," said.

"No, you don't have to beg me for anything," he said as he rose up and stood back from the bed. "You can have anything you want from me. Whatever I've got is yours....my mouth, my cock....even my ass," he said as he came around to the other side of the bed, to my head.

I reached over my head and clasped my hands around his thighs to guide him to stand astraddle my head. He pressed his thumb on the base of his cock to aim it down at my waiting mouth. I was hot and ready for him and when he bent his knees to come down on his haunches, I lifted my head to swallow his cock to the hilt.

"Awwhh, fuck, how do you do that?" he moaned as he pressed his balls against my face.

I showed him how by moving my head up and down to deep throat his cock. He picked up on it and began fucking my throat. At last I was back where I belonged, paying homage to my hero. But it was not to be one sided. His quest to prove his feelings brought him to his hands and knees over me and he began sucking my cock as well. Godd, I never imagined it could be any more wonderful. I was pleased and happy beyond belief, even more so to hear his moans of pleasure as he sucked and slurped my cock. He kept trying to deep throat me, like he was not just proving something, but really enjoying it. I had to ease him off several times to keep from cumming. I didn't want it to end. Each time he rose up and fisted my cock ever so gently. But the lust and the passion grew to such great proportions that nothing could've held it back. I tried to warn him again but he didn't let up. He sucked harder, it seemed. I knew there was no stopping him from doing what he was going to do so I let myself go with it, but I felt I needed to warn him.

"When I'm close.....," I started in a husky tone.

"I'll know," he cut me off.

I decided to let him handle it his way. The way he did jolted me. I fully expected him to take me to the brink then get off my cock and finish me off by hand. When it happened, he didn't rise up, he didn't stop sucking. He let out a little surprised groan when the stuff started gushing into his mouth, with such force that my butt lifted up off the bed. It was a helacious cum, like the gift that kept on giving. I couldn't seem to stop. I knew I was overflowing his mouth when I felt the stuff running down my balls. Suddenly I realized that he was swallowing! He was swallowing so hard that I could hear his gulps. I was nearly overwhelmed. I lay there with my fists at my side, cringing with the force and impact of my climax and listening to Jason's wet moans as he finished me off.

When he was done he let go of my cock and lay to the side with a heaved sigh, his head resting on my thigh.

"You didn't have to do that, you know....swallow it."

He smiled as he turned around. "I've got something of you to take with me," he said as he lay beside me. "I'll go back out there with four or five hundred million little Brads swimming around inside me. Just think of all the extra testosterone I've got."

"Like you need more testosterone," I scoffed, surprised when he lay his head on my chest. I thought it an odd position we were in; I thought I would have my head on his chest.

"We're not done, you know," he said.

"I was hoping not," I said.

He laid his thigh over mine and nudged my balls with his knee and reached for my cock. It hadn't gone down much, and it stopped the process when he touched it.

"I'm ready when you are," he said, pumping my cock slowly.

I looked at him as he moved off of my chest onto his back. "I 'm ready," he said, cocking his legs up.

"No you're not," I said, rising up. I got between his legs and pushed his knees toward him. He wrapped his arms around his legs to pull his thighs against his chest. He knew what I was going to do. I stretched out with my legs hanging over the end of the bed and began licking his ass. "You remember this, don't you?" I asked.

"Aww, fuck, yeah," he said. "Ohhh.... awhh....ooohhh, fuck, I love your tongue."

It was barely moments later before he was begging me to fuck him. I couldn't believe my ears but my cock assured me I was hearing right.

"You don't have to be easy," he said hoarsely as he pulled his thighs tighter against his chest.

"I won't be," I said. I wanted to make love to him but it would not be the way he wanted it. He was showing his love for me by letting me fuck him, not make mushy love to him. I had to treat him like the courageous fighting man he was. The only thing gentle about my love making was entering his body. I set the head of my cock firmly against the heat of his asshole and felt the muscle clenching anxiously. I applied pressure and he hunkered up against me. I felt his asshole push out at the same time and it was as if it swallowed the head of my cock. He let out a surprised groan and spread his arms out to claw at the edges of the mattress. I knew it hurt but I also knew there was nothing I could do; it was his hurt to deal with.

I nearly cried as I felt the delicate inner lining of his ass folding around the length of my cock. Deeper and deeper I went. When my balls rested against the crack of his ass he squeezed his sphincter around the base of my cock and it felt like he might squeeze it off. We held that position for a moment then I began fucking him, and I let myself float off into the wonderful reality of another time.......

Afterwards we lay side by side, my head on his arm. No words had passed between us the whole time, and we were quiet still, with only our breathing and the soft, steady whir of the fan overhead. In the quiet dark I felt myself emerging from a tangle of emotions, like there were two of me merging into one being.

"Now you've got more of me to take with you," I said finally.

"Yes," he said in a hoarse tone. After a long moment he said, ""I deeply regret, Brad, that I have to be Toby again," he said softly.

"No regrets," I said. "It was too real to have any regrets."

"Okay. Then let's not talk. Let's just lie here."

"Yes."


Chapter Thirty-Five

Preparing to Leave

I woke up first and lay on my side with the morning sun coming in the window, watching Toby sleep. Last night seemed so far away, in another time. I knew it was Toby I had spent the night with, and it was a game we had played, but in my mind--the memory of it--it would always be real, one last time. I didn't think Jason would mind that. Rather, I wanted to think that he would be flattered that I wanted to relive what we had together.

Toby snorted and made a swipe at a fly that landed on his nose and I laughed. He heard me and opened his eyes.

"Fuck, did we survive last night?"

"I did, barely," I said.

He reached down and lifted his cock up off his balls. "I guess I did too," he joked.

"How can you be so sure, it's not hard," I said.

He looked at his watch. "Do you want to make sure it's still working?" he asked.

"If you've got time," I said.

"I know you said last night you wanted me just the way I was, but I really need a shower now, first," he said.

I laid my hand on his stomach, instantly rock hard as his abs flexed with the motion of him about to get up.

"Does the plumbing still work?" I asked.

"It's touch and go," he replied. "There's usually a trickle of water."

I followed him to the shower and sat on the stool to watch. He turned on the water and waited but it never did get hot and he stepped under the shower anyway.

"Toby... .thanks for last night," I said as I watched him soap up.

"Hey, don't thank me. Geezusss, you know what I got out of it."

"You know what I mean," I said. "It was pretty goddamned real; so real it got scary."

"I tried. You even called me Jason," he said.

"I know. You were Jason. My Godd, you were so much like him."

"Now that is a major compliment," he said, smiling.

"It was wonderful. You made it so real, walking in wearing full combat gear. I'll never forget it."

"I'm glad you've got something to take back with you, and hang onto," he said. "Hey, do you want to join me?" he asked.

"I thought you would never ask," I said.

Toby washed me and I returned the favor. I was down on my knees washing his thighs and his butt and up between his legs. When I got to his manhood, he was fluffed out nicely. As the water rinsed the soap off I took his cock in my mouth and let the water gush into my mouth from his cock. I closed my lips and started to suck him but he cupped his hands under my arms and brought me to my feet. He pulled me in under the shower spray and kissed me, not so much with passion, as the night before, but more with raw lust.

"I know last night's over; this time is for us. You and me. Let's go in on the bed," he said.

This was in the light of day. It was just Toby and me, with no pretending. It was just unbridled sex that ended with our simultaneous climaxes blowing into each other's mouths. When we were finished, Toby turned around so we were lying side by side and we caught our breath before he got up and got dressed.

Leaving the hotel, I headed for the Swiss Embassy. I took a cab but told the driver not to wait for me. We had passed familiar places on the way, and I decided I would walk back. I was treated well by the officials but they weren't as friendly as I expected the Swiss would be to a US citizen. I didn't understand the problem, only that Jase's visa could not be ready till the next day. I wasn't particularly upset. I could easily pass the time back here in my second home. Or was it my first? Since I had come back, I was foggy on that.

Leaving the embassy, I retraced the route I had come by taxi, past the small church where I had prayed for Jason's safe return and cursed God and His saints when he died. I was a little surprised it was still there, considering the new Godless regime that was now in power. I went inside, cautiously, and looked around. There was still the haze from the dozens of candles burning, the walls and ceilings even more blackened from the smoke. I slipped into a back pew and knelt down, and crossed myself. I knelt there, not praying, but gazing at the grotto up front where I had prayed to the saint, and later cursed him, and let my thoughts ramble into memories. Thinking back to last night, it did not seem so very long ago. As the memories came back, I felt a pressure in my chest that grew so great that my chest began to hurt. Suddenly, I choked on a sob that I didn't know was there until it came out, wracking my shoulders. I had forgotten, or buried, how very much I missed him... how much I loved him... and last night, for all its wonderful emotions, hadn't erased that hurt. I didn't try to fight it. I let it go. It was a calm cry, with tears streaming gently down my face. I wasn't ashamed. I let them come till the mend in my heart was shattered again.

Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Son, can I be of any help?" a kind voice asked as the person knelt beside me. Without looking around I could see that it was a priest, and I wondered if it was the same one who had tried to comfort me so many years before. If it were, I would not recognize him, for I didn't remember what he looked like; only that he would be older. When I didn't answer the priest, he removed his hand and said, "Perhaps you want to be alone; I understand."

"I'm all right, Father," I said quickly, before he could leave, wiping my eyes with my sleeve. I turned and looked at him for the first time and he did look familiar, but only because I willed it, I think. "I just came back to face some ghosts from my past. I think I was surprised to find them still here."

"You are not the first to return to face the demons that haunt you. Some come, not even sure what they're looking for."

"Not demons, Father, not the demons of regret," I said. "Just ghosts. Friendly ghosts, I suppose, except they still cause such pain."

"I'm a patient listener, if that will help," he offered.

"I once told a priest right here in this same pew that he would not want to hear what I had to say. He surprised me. He listened, and even understood."

"But it wasn't laid to rest," the priest said.

"It won't ever be laid to rest, Father," I said. "I had it buried, but coming back here....well, it all came back; or I brought it with me."

"Did you leave a girl behind, perhaps?" he ventured to guess. "That is often the reason men return, but they seldom find them.."

"No," I said. Then I blurted it out, without shame. "No, not a girl, Father. A man. I was in love with a Navy SEAL," I said, bold and calm as you please. "He was killed," I added. "I've come to take his son back to the States." I was surprised at the priest's reaction. He barely blinked.

"I am sorry," he said, with emotion.

"No condemnation, Father? No offer to help cleanse my soul from the sin of loving another man?"

"I believe your soul is cleansing itself, and it is not up to me to condemn love, whatever form it takes," he said. "Such love among soldiers in time of war isn't all that rare."

"That's a pretty broad minded view for a priest, isn't it, Father?"

"I have learned to be broad-minded. And for those who don't understand, well, they were never here," he said.

"Were you here fifteen years ago, Father?" I asked. "I doubt it; you look too young."

"Yes, I was. I had just been ordained. But I wasn't in Saigon," he said. "You mentioned his son....he did not love you in return, then, if he turned to women. He was not of your persuasion."

"He was, and he wasn't," I said. "He returned my love, in spades, and he gave me his love in his own, very powerful way. But no, he wasn't of my persuasion, as you put it. Maybe that's partly why I loved him so damned much." I found myself half wishing it were the young soldier there to comfort me; he was the greater comfort back then, both spiritually and physically.

I looked long and hard down the aisle, to the grotto of the saint. "I came here once, very angry with God. I think I even cursed the saints I had prayed to. I thought God and all His saints were angry with me because it was another man that I loved. I thought that was the reason they let him die, to take him away from me."

"God's anger, or not, isn't for you or I to guess," he said.

"But He let him die," I said.

"No. Your buddy died," he said.

"But I prayed that he would be all right."

"Was that the first time a prayer went unanswered? Or the last?" he asked.

"No, not the first. But it was the last, because I stopped praying," I said.

"You're taking his son back with you. To raise?" he asked.

"Yes. I'm going to try."

"Then you'd better start praying again; you're going to need all the help you can get," he said.

Just then a young girl came running into the church.

"Father, you must come quickly!" she whispered loudly.

"What?" he asked, over his shoulder.

"You must come!" she said again, with more urgency.

He turned back to me with his hand squeezing my shoulder.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help," he said

"You've helped a lot, Father. You are a patient listener."

He stood. "I will pray for you, and for the boy."

"Does that mean I won't have to, Father?" I asked with a grin.

He smiled and waved as he left the church. I sat in the pew for a long time, letting my thoughts ramble, letting old memories come back to life, until it became too painful, and I had to leave. I stuffed a five dollar bill in the slot and lit one of the large candles.

I took my time walking back to the orphanage, taking in the old familiarity of the city. I wondered why I missed it, why I felt so at home coming back. It was a terrible place; a terrible time before, but it was the best time of my life.

A group of the younger boys were gathered around Sister Marie in the courtyard; she was apparently conducting a class. They jumped and came running to meet me when they saw me. I was sorry I had not thought to stop and buy something for them. I admonished them gently and told them they should go back to Sister Marie. I asked if Jason was there.

"He's in his room, waiting for you," she said. "Have you any news from the embassy?"

"His visa won't be ready till tomorrow," I said.

"He is worried. He is so frightened that he might not get to go with you," she said.

"I will stay until he can," I said. I went through the building to the rear, where Jase's room was located near the alley. He was lying on his cot, shirtless, staring up to the ceiling. He rose up, all smiles, when he saw me. I couldn't help noticing the way his stomach muscles bulged and stood taut when he rose up. The bed and a small table that served as a night stand were the only two pieces of furniture in the room; Jason scooted over to make room for me to sit on the edge of his cot.

"Your visa won't be ready till tomorrow," I told him.

"Then we can leave, tomorrow?" he asked eagerly.

"If the embassy can arrange our flight, yes. I don't know, it may be the day after," I said. "Do you have things to pack to take with you?" I asked.

"Everything is right here," he said, as he turned over on his stomach. He stretched up over the head of the cot and reached under it. He brought out a worn and tattered satchel that resembled a woman's oversized handbag. I was saddened that all his worldly belongings would fit into something so small.

"If there are people you want to say goodbye to, perhaps you should do that today," I told him.

"I've said my goodbyes. There aren't that many," he said. He laughed, a sarcastic laugh. "Most people I know will be glad to see me leave."

"That's probably because you got into so much trouble," I joked, trying to make light of it. "I still have a few places I need to go," I said.

"I understand....from the war....that's okay, I know you will come back," he said.

"Of course I'll come back. You weren't worried about that, were you?" I asked.

He shrugged, trying to force a smile. I suddenly realized that he had been worried. I tried to reassure him.

"Don't worry, I'll be back. In fact, if it's all right, I'll take you up on that offer to stay here in your room tonight." It came out almost without thinking, for I had planned to spend the night at the Trent, perhaps again with Toby or Ryan. But it was suddenly more important that I be with Jase and leave the other behind.

"Yes, it's still all right," he said happily.

"It may be late," I said, suddenly wanting to still work Toby or Ryan in if I could.

"It doesn't matter how late," he said.


Chapter Thirty-Six

Return to Jason's Base Camp

I went back to Toby's with three things on my mind. One, to maybe arrange to get together with him one more time before I left, and maybe he would still want to include Ryan. The second, to ask Toby if he could arrange to get some playground equipment for the orphanage. The other thing was even more personal. He was all smiles when I walked in. I didn't see Ryan. I thanked him again for last night.

"Damn, stud, stop thanking me," he said. "How'd it go at the embassy?"

"Jason's visa won't be ready till tomorrow. If the embassy can arrange a flight, we may be leaving tomorrow. Or maybe the next day."

"Great. You've got your room for another night," he said.

"Speaking of that......" I let my words linger.

He smiled. "Bring the boy if you want," he said.

"No, nothing like that," I said. "I was thinking more of you and me."

His eyes danced. "That could definitely be arranged," he said but he sounded hesitant.

"It'd be you and me....Brad and Toby, this time," I said.

"Yeah, I know. That'll be great, one more time for old time's sake."

I still felt his hesitancy. "But....?"

"Bad as I want to, I have to throw this out," he said.

"What? What's up?"

He laughed, shaking his head. "It's Ryan....."

"Oh, the jealous type, huh?"

"No, no, nothing like that. For some odd reason he thinks you're hot and he wants a crack at you."

I blinked, taken aback. "Well, hell yeah!" I said. "Not to throw you over, Toby, but that kid is hot as fuck. Tell him yes. But it would have to be tonight."

"He's got a date but he'll get out of it, I'm sure."

"Whew! That's quite a turn of events," I said.

"Well, like I said, I would love for you and me to take another roll in the sack, but I thought it would end things on a lighter note with Ryan. He won't bring along any baggage like I would."

"I happened to like your baggage," I said. "Look, I....well, I'll probably never be back here again, and I want to try to find Jason's base camp; I was there a couple of times. I want to leave something there....one of his dog tags."

Toby frowned.

"Not a good idea?" I asked.

"I don't know. If you do, your best bet is to rent a motorcycle and hire a guide. There are places you don't want to go alone now, outside the city. And take money, small bills. You never know when you're going to be stopped and have to bribe somebody. They never have change for big bills, on purpose. And you need to bury the dog tag. They haven't quite come around to memorializing American GIs."

"Where do I find a guide?" I asked.

"Go back to the market, ask around for Truang. If he's not there, hang around and wait for him, he'll show up. He's taken a lot of guys back in the bush."

"Okay, thanks, I'll check it out," I said.

On the way back to the market, I wondered if maybe I should go back and get Jase and take him with me, but decided against it. He was not a part of this; my going back. This was between Jason and me. I had taken the brave warrior back and buried him in his hometown but I knew his soul remained in Vietnam. Now I had to mark a resting place for his soul, and his dog tag seemed to be the most appropriate thing. It had his name on it.

At the market I stopped at a booth and asked about Truang. The man pointed down the street. I wasn't sure what he was pointing at so I walked down the street and asked another shopkeeper. He said to wait. I hung around for over a half hour, till the shopkeeper brought a guy up to me, about my own age.

"You are Truang?" I asked.

"Yes."

"I need a guide," I told him.

He smiled and put out his hand then produced a small notebook filled with hand scribbled testimonials from other veterans he had guided in post-war Vietnam. I read several and hired him. He was a former ARVN soldier who had been allowed to have his own business as a tourist guide. I told him where I wanted to go. He smiled and nodded and led the way down the street where I rented two motorbikes. He asked me Jason's old outfit and nodded when I told him; he knew it. He knew its history. Or, he had lived it.

He took me a way I didn't remember, but then it had been a long time since I had visited Jason's hooch. Now I was making the trip back after his death to try to find him or reconnect with him.

There were no trees growing on many of the hillsides but there were people planting banana trees. I could see concrete bunkers still standing, somberly, off in the hills, half hidden with vines and foliage. After crossing the river on a rickety ferry we stopped in the first village we came to and got a bite to eat. Truang asked if I wanted to eat. I told him yes because I figured he was hungry and wanted me to buy lunch, which I was glad to do. The peculiar smell of a Vietnamese village, long forgotten, quickly bridged the years that I had been gone. We stopped at a wall-less, dirt-floored café, where the only company, besides Truang and me, was a rooster on top of a table which mama-san shooed away. Back home the place would've been condemned but mama-san served up the best jumbo shrimp I have ever had.

I left a generous tip and we continued on our journey. A few klicks down the road we stopped at a small roadside stand to buy gas from an old Vietnamese man who was selling it in bottles. I wondered where he got the gas, and how he knew to set up shop at that spot along the road. A good distance farther we approached a compound, guarded by Vietnamese troops. I didn't recognize it but I knew instinctively that it was Jason's old base camp because there was a strangely-familiar feel about the place. Closer, I could see that they were even using the same old hooches. The trees and bush had grown back where I remembered the terrain surrounding the camp had been stripped of all foliage. The wire that surrounded the compound was gone, but there were still the remains of the bunkers and trenches outside the perimeter, although except for some harsh concrete protrusions, they were barely more than dents and troughs in the ground now.

Truang stopped well back from the compound. "You can't go in. It is a Vietnamese military camp now," he said.

I could see that. And not too friendly, at that, the way the guards kept a steady, steely-eyed gaze on us. I looked around for a place where I could bury the dog tag. It would have to be out of sight of the guards, for certain. They would surely come running if they saw me digging around in the dirt. I walked back into the bush, well past the chunks of concrete sticking up out of the ground, as if I were going to take a piss. Out of sight of the guards I found a spot near a big tree with gnarled roots. The tree would be there forever, had been already, and would be a proper place for Jason's dog tag. I took out my buck knife and dug in close to the base, between two large roots, pulling the dirt from under one with my hands. I took out the chain from around my neck and removed one of the dog tags and put the chain back on. I swallowed hard as I traced my fingers over the engraved letters and numbers that told all that Jason would want to be told about himself. Then I put the dog tag in a heavy plastic case I'd bought that I thought might help preserve it and shoved it in under the big root and packed dirt in around it. I covered the spot with leaves and brush then knelt there for a moment with my head down. I didn't really know why; he was buried back in Ohio, not here in this damned jungle. I didn't cry or even well up. I just remembered, and told him I was going to leave him here, where he truly belonged. I told him when I got back to the world, I was going to start a new life with his son. I swore it. And I thanked him for last night for I truly believed he was there in spirit. It wasn't as emotional as I expected; it was more that I was doing it out of a sense of duty. As an afterthought I scooped up a big handful of dirt and tied it in a handkerchief to take back with me. I went back to where Truang was waiting.

"I think the soldiers are getting edgy," he said.

"Fuck the soldiers," I said. I sat down on a jagged chunk of the remains of a bunker and tried to absorb the scene around me to take back with me. I picked out a hooch inside the compound that I made a conscious decision to remember as Jason's and made the journey in my mind back to it. It was surprisingly and painfully easy to do, to walk up and open the door and step inside to find him sitting on his bunk, in nothing but his briefs, cleaning his rifle. I hurt at the memory but clung to it anyway. I needed the hurt. Fuck, it almost felt good.

I glanced around at the sound of Truang taking a piss, a bit perturbed that he had interrupted my thoughts. I kicked at the ground with the heel of my boot and dug up some residue from the war. I reached down and picked up some brass, empty casings, that had come up out of the loose dirt from my boot and I put them in my pocket with vague, conjured up thoughts that they might have been ejected from Jason's rifle. He would think I was being foolish, and clinging to anything. As I sat there I felt a tugging from opposite directions; from the compound and from the tree where I had buried Jason's dog tag. Sitting there was surreal. It was kind of like sitting next to a young soldier who I didn't know, and that soldier was me. My journey back had taken me much farther, and much deeper, than I had ever imagined it would.


Chapter Thirty-Seven

Last Night in Saigon

We took a different, more direct route back. We took the cycles back, I paid Truang, then walked back to Toby's.

"Did you find it?" he asked when I walked in.

"Yeah. Not much has changed," I said.

"What'd you do with the dog tag?"

"I buried it, down under the roots of one of those big gnarled trees; it'll probably still be there a thousand years from now."

He smiled, a sort of sad, understanding smile. "Does that put it to rest?"

"I think so, as much as it'll ever be. It's been too long. I've got to get on with a new life, now."

"Yeah, I would say so, taking his boy back with you," Toby said with a chuckle.

"I don't know whether that's going to make it easier or harder," I said.

"Well, it will keep you focused. You've got a reason to get on with your life," he said. "Are we still on for your last night in country?" Toby asked.

I glanced down, hesitating.

"What?" Toby asked.

"I don't want this to sound like how it might come out, but....well, I've been thinking about it, and if it's all the same to you....I would rather not. I sort of said my goodbyes last night at the Trent, if you know what I mean. I would like to leave it at that."

"I think I do, but Ryan is going to be disappointed."

"I hate it too, Godd, he's nice. I'll probably regret it. But it's late, I really need to go back to the orphanage. Jase offered me his bed in his little room. He said he would sleep on the floor. I just feel like I should go back there and be with him, to wake up there in the morning."

"No problem, I understand," Toby said.

"I really hate it," I said with a grin. "I was looking forward to Ryan."

"He was looking forward to you," Toby said.

"I'll stop back tomorrow with Jase before we leave for the airport," I said.

"Listen, Brad....it wasn't going to be anything but....well, sex." He nodded towards the door in the rear. "If you've got time now, he's upstairs. At least you wouldn't take that regret back with you."

I was tempted but hesitant. "Fuck, that is so tempting."

"He might be asleep but he won't mind you waking him up."

I thought about it for a moment while Toby stood there laughing at me.

"What does he like to do?" I asked.

"Go find out," he replied. "I promise you won't be disappointed."

"Yeah, you said he was a tiger in bed." I slapped the bar and headed toward the rear door. I went up the familiar stairs to Toby's living quarters. The door was unlocked so I went on in. Not much had changed; Toby hadn't made any significant improvements in the place. The one major improvement was the gorgeous young man lying naked on the bed.

"My Godd," I whispered. He was stunning in all his naked glory. He looked younger than when I'd seen him behind the bar. He had the body of a college student athlete; long and muscular lean, with broad shoulders and well muscled arms and back and legs. There was just enough hair on his legs to mark him as male, and a lighter flurry on his beautiful, upturned butt. Just below his butt, between his outspread legs, was a very impressive cock with a pair of balls draped down over each side. He was thick and meaty with a wide head.

I started to sit on the edge of the bed but thought better of it. I didn't want to startle him. I stood back from the bed, out of his reach and spoke his name.

"Ryan." When he didn't move I said it louder. "Ryan."

He came awake slowly, stretching languidly his smooth muscles rippling beautifully as he turned over onto his side.

"Brad," he said with a sleepy smile.

"Toby said I should come up. I can't be here tonight so he said I should come up now. He said......."

"He told you I wanted to get together with you," Ryan interrupted.

"Yes."

"I'm glad you came up. You got time for a beer and conversation or do you just want to fuck?"

I laughed at his boldness. "I can't stay long but I'll have a beer."

"Okay, a beer, then we fuck. No conversation," he said. He got up and went to the small refrigerator and brought out two beers. My eyes followed his awesome ass as he moved away from me and then fell to his magnificent cock when he came back toward me.

"Toby said you might have a date tonight."

"She's just a fuck date anyway."

"I can see why she would wait," I said.'

"You like what you see?"

"Very much."

"So do I."

I laughed. "Toby said you thought I was hot, for some odd reason."

"It's not so odd. You are hot."

"I'm surprised you would think that, comparing me with Toby."

"Toby said you're an awesome fuck. And you throw a pretty mean fuck yourself."

"I try."

"Then shall we get to it," he said as he reached for my belt.

I let him undress me while I watched his cock lift from the arched curve and straighten upward into an incredible hardon.

"My Godd," I said as I wrapped my hand around it. It throbbed hotly in my fist. He was easily nine inches long. "Fuck, this makes my knees weak," I said.

"Good, that'll make it easier to get you on your back," he joked. "How many times are you good for?" he asked.

"How many times do you want?" I asked back.

"I want to trade fucks for sure, and anything else you're up to."

He fucked me first, so long and so hard I wasn't sure I would be able to raise a hardon and return the favor. But he took care of that with his mouth. We fucked each other's brains out. Twice. Then we had a relaxing sixty-nine where we traded warm, creamy dessert. Toby was right, it ended things on a lighter note and I left with a new spring in my step and my head held a little higher.

Toby was smiling when I came back downstairs. "How'd it go?"

"Whew!" I said, shaking my head. "One more time and I don't think I could walk. You are one lucky fuck."

"Fuck being the operative word," he said.

"I'll bring Jase back before we leave," I told him.

"Yes, I want to meet him."

Walking back to the orphanage, I found that the oldest profession was still flourishing in the city, with a newer generation of women and young girls. I politely waved them off as I was approached, but kept thinking of Ling in the red dress. Back at the orphanage, I let myself in with the key they'd given me and secured the gate from the inside. I found my way through the dorm, to the small room in back that served as Jason, Jr.'s private quarters. I carefully opened the door and quietly froze to the spot for a moment before I closed the door behind me. I fumbled for a lock or a latch of some kind, found it, and locked the door. I couldn't say why....I had no intentions....perhaps I needed to be behind a locked door just to be able to look at the boy the way I wanted to.

The tiny room was dimly lit by light from the street, coming in through the small window, enough to make out the youthful form lying on the floor beside the cot. I stood and looked at him, almost breathless from his beauty. He was beautiful before, wearing his pajama pants and no shirt. He was stunning now, lying there in quiet repose in a pair of tiny white briefs that looked even smaller by the way he filled them out. His young, teenage body was absolutely perfectly shaped. He was slim-hipped and lean, he was well muscled without being bulky, and had excellent definition that showed even in his relaxed state. My eyes raked over him but fell to the well-rounded bulge in his tiny briefs. I gazed at him as I quietly removed my clothes, down to my shorts. Then I carefully stepped over him to the cot. I felt guilty taking his bed, but didn't want to wake him to tell him I would trade places. I lay on my side and gazed down at him. His stomach muscles looked tight even in his sleep, stretching beautifully as he breathed. Suddenly, I reached down and laid my hand lightly on his stomach. His eyes opened and he smiled. I hadn't meant to wake him, but I wasn't sorry I did.

"I'm here," I whispered.

He nodded, still smiling, and put his hand on mine just as I drew it back.

"Listen, I can take the floor," I told him.

"No. You take the cot," he said.

I quickly surveyed the space I had and blurted softly, without thinking, "Why don't you come up here with me; we can make room."

My Godd, what was I doing? I quickly prayed he wouldn't do it, but he was already on his feet. I moved over against the wall to make room for him. It was a tight fit, barely enough room for the two of us. I put my arm around him to keep him from falling out. He snuggled back against me like it was the most natural thing in the world for him to be sleeping with another man, and it made me wonder. His lean, lithe body conformed to mine, too well, as he snuggled his taut butt against my shorts. I began getting a hardon almost immediately. I knew he could feel it but I couldn't move away from him; there was no place to go.

"Sorry about that," I whispered as I hugged him to me.

"It's okay, I've got one, too," he said.

We laughed together and I flattened my hand against his chest, a safe distance from temptation. Oddly, there was nothing sexual in any of it. I closed my eyes with a hard vow that this night would pass uneventful. I made the vow not to myself, but to Jason, who I knew was watching us.


Chapter Thirty-Eight

Goodbye To Vietnam

Nothing was said the next morning about us sleeping so tightly together. There was too much excitement over getting Jase's visa and making preparations to leave. He dressed in a pair of worn jeans that fit him well and a brightly-colored polo shirt, and sandals. I didn't ask if he had shoes.

Things went well at the embassy. Everything was in order. When the man handed the visa to me, Jase reached for it.

"You should carry this," the man told me.

"I will," I assured him but I gave it to Jase first to see it and get the feel of it; the feel of his freedom and a new life. He held it for a moment, like a priceless treasure, then handed it back to me. I thanked the man and we left. Jase leaped in the air with a loud whoop and landed several steps down. I'd never seen anyone so happy. We went back to the orphanage for him to say his goodbyes. It was a tearful event, even for me, as it hit me that the boy was leaving his home and his homeland; leaving these people....the nuns and the other boys....who had been his family. He hugged every one of them, except for one smallish boy of about twelve who stood off in the corner of the playground. I could see that he wasn't of American blood.

"Aren't you going to tell me goodbye?" I heard Jase ask him.

The boy turned his back. Jase smiled and walked toward him, and I thought he looked so old and mature compared to the rest of the boys. He walked around and squatted down in front of the smaller boy.

"You're not going to tell me goodbye?" Jase asked again.

"I don't want you to go," the boy blurted through his sobs as he threw his arms around Jase and hugged him tight.

"You know I have to go, tiger. I don't belong here like you do," Jase told him in a very grown up, soothing tone.

It seemed to quiet the boy but he walked away and sat on the wall. Jase followed him.

"Look, tiger....." He crooked a finger under the boy's chin to lift his head so they could be eye to eye. "You're the oldest, now. You have to take my place and help the sisters keep the other boys in line." The boy just stared at him. "The sisters are gonna need you, like to go to the market for them," he told him. It seemed to gradually soak in and the boy finally nodded. "I'll write to you when I get there, and I'll send you something from America."

Jase pulled him off the wall to stand in front of him. They didn't say anything, just looked at each other, then they hugged again and Jason turned and walked away.

Jase told the nuns goodbye, joking with the two younger ones, but with Sister Marie, he was more serious.

"I do not know how to thank you for saving me," he told her.

"I will tell you how to thank me," she said sternly. "You be a good boy when you get to the United States, don't ever forget how fortunate you are to have Mr. Courter, and you grow up to be a man he can be proud of. A man your father can be proud of."

"Yes, Ma'am," he said, then he leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.

She brushed it off with a flourish but he playfully planted a kiss on her other cheek. He kissed the other nuns in turn. As we were leaving, the children followed us to the gate. Jase turned and smiled and waved to the boy still sitting on the wall. He didn't wave back at first, but Jase stood there waving till the boy finally waved back.

From the orphanage, I took him to meet Toby. On the way I explained who Toby was, how his father and I used to meet at Toby's and drink beer. Toby came around from behind the bar as we walked in. He walked right up to Jase and put out his hand.

"You must be Jason, Jr," he said as they shook hands.

"Yes, sir."

"Talk about a legacy," Toby said to me. Then he turned back to Jase. "If you turn out to be half the man your dad was, you'll be a man to be reckoned with," he said.

Jase looked like he didn't understand and I told him I would explain later. We chatted for a few minutes, till it was time for us go. I gave Toby some money and told him to see about getting some playground equipment for the orphanage.

"Keep in touch this time," Toby told me as we bear-hugged. Then he surprised Jase by hugging him. "You take care of this old man," he told him.

"I'll do my best," Jase said.

And with that, we parted.

I didn't look back as we left Toby's. It had to be left behind, till another time, perhaps, when I might return in my old age. But I couldn't help taking a long, longing look at the Trent as we walked past. I imagined I heard an ancient moan of farewell, and room 238 calling out to me. But I had already said my farewells to the Trent. I walked on.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . continued

 

peterbilt

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