The stench had grown unbearable, not just a heaviness that burned with each cold breath. Now you could taste it and feel it on your skin. It had become physical. It coated the ground, the windshields of the vehicles, the canvas of the tents.
Field Sergeant Thomas Bullen covered his nose with his bare, cold fingers and stared across the vista of desert sand toward the horizon. Night was coming sooner now to Northern Kuwait now, spurred on by the oil fires burning out of control across the small, liberated sovereignty. The premature loss of the sun overhead had caused daytime temperatures to plummet. A cold wind out of the north, stinking of burning oil and a ground war that had lasted less than two months, stirred around Bull at the entrance to the tent. He sucked in another hit of what remained of the cigarette dangling from his unshaved lips then, disgusted by the grainy, chemical taste, crushed it underfoot.
It's been a month since the first US combat forces returned home, he thought. Back in North Carolina, it's spring. The air probably smells warm, like green things, not of smoke, death, and endless desert. I'm sick of this shit. Sick of this place. Sick of the smell...
Adjusting the shoulder strap of his M16-1A rifle, he looked higher and realized the color of the desert sunsets he'd seen eight months earlier, upon his arrival with the 82nd Airborne in the first wave of air and ground troops, had vanished. Gone was the brilliant red that once signaled the end of 140-degree days in August, as were the cold blues of early desert night. Now the grays had been swallowed whole by an inky darkness. And the smell-
Bull coughed again and pushed open the tent flap. He needed relief, however temporary, from it. Inside the tent's bottled environment, things weren't much better. The caustic smell, a mix of what reminded him of melted plastic and dump fires that burned on his tongue was held stagnant in the tight confines.
'Hey,' he growled.
The private lying in his skivvies inside one of the two sleeping bags was Chris Odgers. Dressed only in a sand-camouflage T-shirt, tight white briefs, and black socks that stuck out of the corner of the sleeping bag, the young soldier jumped to and saluted. 'Sir,' he addressed, shivering out the single word on a breath of locomotive gray. Despite the nineteen-year-old's body of tight, war-toughened muscles, Bull noticed him shaking in the obvious chill inside the tent.
'At ease,' Bull grumbled, 'before you freeze your nuts off.'
The young private relaxed some. The other man, Specialist and higher-ranked soldier, Rudy Holt, looked up from the dog-eared copy of a well-abused stroke rag. 'Sarge,' Holt growled. Like the rest of them, it was obvious the twenty-year-old Ranger hadn't shaved, probably in a few days. Light brown prickle covered his cheeks and neck.
Bull tipped his head up respectfully and pulled the tent flap shut. Holt continued to flip the same pages he'd no doubt memorized over the course of the preceding months. 'Anything good?'
'Naw. Same old pussy I've already jacked off to a hundred times, Sarge. Just doesn't do it for me anymore. By the time I get back to the States, my nuts are gonna be fuckin' lead weights.'
Bull forced a smile. 'Holt, you mind pulling some guard duty for me?'
The other soldier closed his magazine. 'That an order?'
Bull shook his head. 'No, a personal favor. Cover for me and I'll pull your watch. I can't fuckin' stand the smell of those burning oil fields a second longer.'
Coughing out his answer, Holt stood. 'No prob, Sarge. I could use the distraction or my knob's gonna fall off. Need to stop thinking how badly I need my dick sucked by something other than my imagination.'
Holt pulled on his boots, grabbed his assault rifle, and dumped the dog-eared stroke magazine on top of Odgers' sleeping bag on his way out. 'There ya go, son. Don't go getting the pages too sticky - I got a date at 0-400 hours with the cunt at the back of the book.'
Flashing a nervous grin, Odgers said, 'Thanks, man. I'll try not to trash it.' The unmistakable roar of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter overhead drowned his voice.
The tent, large enough to accommodate two, three max under close quarters, quivered with the helicopter's passing, then grew silent except for the crunch of Bull's boots on the floor tarp. Checking his rifle, he plunked down on Holt's bed. The heavy material of the sleeping bag stunk of sweat, male and stale, but even that was a welcome relief from the pungent, oily darkness infusing the air.
'Gimme a look at that,' Bull said, unlacing his boots. He's spent so much time in his footgear they'd become a second skin. Odgers handed him the well-worn stroke magazine. 'Fuckin' hot.'
A fresh faced nineteen-year-old with a dimpled grin and peach fuzz for a five o'clock shadow, the young private grinned dumbly. 'Shit, Sarge - I bet you get that all the time.'
'Not since before last summer,' Bull chuckled under his breath. 'And not like I got it with this one chick, Becky Kendall.' Drawing in a deep breath of the air that now smelled mercifully more of the other soldiers and magazine ink, he looked up and met Odgers' youthful grin. 'I guess I was probably your age. You got a girlfriend?'
'Nothing special,' Odgers answered, his face flushing slightly. 'No one serious. Wouldn't mind getting some of that, though.' His pale blue eyes locked on the centerfold Bull had opened to. Now, so close to the young soldier, Bull could smell the other man's excited breaths, the odor of uniform boots left at the edge of the sleeping bag along with his neat, folded battle-dress uniform. Smelling the private's bare, rugged skin settled the nausea he'd suffered ten minutes earlier as a false night settled over Northern Kuwait. Bull found himself unintentionally drawing in another deep breath. A hundred memories of his first days in North Carolina and his secret time with Sergeant Ike Samuelson flashed through his mind. To his surprise, he realized the meaty lump between his legs was toughening up. How long had it been since he'd last shot a load? Weeks? The image came clearly to him, but not the day and time, because being in this sand trap had swallowed the calendar.
He and Holt, right on the Euphrates, in clear sight of Baghdad with Bravo Company. That was it! It hadn't taken much to pop off behind cover of the troop carrier. The rush of adrenaline and battle-ready had always given Bull a hard-on, even during the sixty-one day Field Training Exercises in the early days of Army Ranger School when he was lucky to get two hours of sleep over the course of several days. FTX hadn't compared to Grenada. Grenada had been a cakewalk compared to Desert Storm. With Iraqi soldiers surrendering by the hundreds of thousands, they'd crossed all the way to the enemy stronghold, hardly firing a shot.
Bull had fired, right beside Holt, four steady squirts of All-American, apple-pie and baseball jizz right into the faces of a handful of Iraqi soldiers who'd dropped to the ground waving white flags. One, no more than twenty he'd guessed, had kissed his boots. Bull got so hard, it didn't take but a few pumps and he'd coated the captured enemy soldier in Coalition whitewash.
'To Saddam Hussein with love!' Holt had hooted, following the blast of corn-fed come with a stream of piss, right into their faces. 'You stink-fuckin' take a shower!'
Neither man had spoken of the incident, and though little more than a month had passed, it felt like a lifetime ago.
Squirting his load on the face of a dirty, lice-infested Iraqi soldier hadn't been sexual; it was pure humiliation, nothing more, payback for being hauled halfway around the world away from baseball, hockey, and blue skies. Now, as tired and sickened by the polluted air as he was, Bull felt a flicker of something more for the fresh-faced, nineteen-year-old Army private one sleeping bag over. 'You like that?' he asked, his voice a throaty whisper. Odgers' Adam's apple knotted under the influence of a heavy swallow. Bull flipped pages, but kept one eye on the other man's handsome, youthful face. Odgers looked like the kind of kid who shagged balls in the summertime, probably played ever sport known to man. He had the chest for it - despite the tight, tan-colored T-shirt and dog tags, Bull could see the definition of his pec muscles and the washboard, flat abs beneath. Through the open flap of Odgers' sleeping bag, Bull quickly drank in the image of curly blond peach fuzz jutting out of the tops of the young soldier's white briefs. Suddenly, the glossy, come-stained pictures weren't enough. Odgers, who was totally unaware of this fact, had made Bull feel human again - human, a man. His cock now swelled beyond the numbness he usually walked around with as his days in the desert ran together. Trapped in his sand-fatigue uniform pants, it felt on fire. Saying nothing, Bull unbuttoned the top of his BDUs and opened the fly. Odgers took a deep, nervous breath.
Bull balanced the pussy rag on his knee, then eased out his cock. 'S'okay, son. You need to stroke, now's the time to do it. As your CO, I'm granting you some down time to be a man first, a soldier second.' Relaxing his fingers, Bull released his bone-hard, leaking eight-incher. Thus freed, his cock flopped down, right onto the pages of Holt's stroke rag. Odgers repeated the question. Bull shuffled a hand into his fly and pulled out two fat, full nuts. That done, he reached his free hand over and wrapped it around the young private's shoulder. Odgers froze.
'It's okay,' Bull huffed under his breath. With one hand on his piece and the other gripping the Private's hard body against him, Bull began to stroke. He'd only given himself a few pumps, enough to coax out a drop of milky precome onto the magazine, when he felt Odgers shift. Bull tipped his half-closed eyes to his right in time to see the young soldier dip a hand into his briefs. From the front of his tight-whites, a long, slender tube of pink skin appeared. 'That's it, guy,' Bull urged. 'Stroke with me.' Odgers leaned back against the Sergeant's arm and fumbled deeper. Like Bull, his balls were heavy with raw, untapped juice, the result of too much time in the desert. At such close range, Bull could smell Odgers' nuts - the masculine, strangely comforting stink of raw testosterone mixed with sweat. For a moment, he forgot the burning oil fields, the chaos of the war he'd been fighting just about from Day One of the campaign. Here, it was just the two of them, their exposed cocks, and the need to stroke them. There was one more thing, the hunger Bull hadn't given in to since Ike Samuelson's death. Not long into it, he caught sight of the young private checking out his package. That did it. Pressing his lips to the buzzcut side of the other soldier's head, Bull growled, 'Suck it.'
Odgers pulled away. 'Wha-?'
'It's okay,' Bull whispered. He capped the back of Odgers' head with his free hand and forced it down. The young private didn't resist much, and soon had taken the dripping head of Bull's cock between his stubbled lips.
'Fuck,' Bull moaned.
The mouth between his legs sucked harder, with the same curiosity and hunger he himself had once shown to Ike Samuelson. The rough fumble of a hand tugged on Bull's heavy nuts. Odgers was his.
'That's it, soldier,' Bull growled. 'Check out that big fuckin' cock and bull-nuts.'
He swept a hand into Odgers' T-shirt and rubbed the taut muscles of his back and shoulders. It felt so good to touch flesh again, pink and warm, he didn't care if it was the skin of a fellow soldier, another man. In fact, he admitted, this was preferable to any cunt he'd eaten or plugged in his thirty-plus years.
Bull knocked the stroke rag off his lap and pushed up to meet Odgers' next downward suck. 'Yeah, suck that Ranger cock, private,' he grunted. Odgers did as he'd been ordered to and pulled on Bull's nuts again. To his shock and surprise, that was all it took. Biting down hard to muffle his groans, he mumbled a throaty, 'What the fuck-?' and fired off six steady shots of come into the private's virgin mouth.
Caught unaware, Odgers sputtered and gagged. Bull pushed in until the young soldier swallowed him fully. That done, Odgers eased slowly off his field sergeant's cock. A nervous, guilty look covered his reddened face. Bull shook his head and sucked in a deep breath. The only stink to reach his nostrils belonged to the two of them - sweat, come, nuts and the funky odor of feet fresh from combat boots. The repulsive heaviness of burning oil, for now, seemed a million miles away, not just over the next rise. For that, Bull would be forever in the young private's debt. Forever.
'You didn't come yet,' Bull growled. He noticed Odgers was trying - but failing - to shove his spear back into his tight whites. Licking his come-stained lips, the young private whispered, 'That's okay, sir.'
Bull reached over and groped a feel of the young soldier's meat. 'I'd never ask one of my men to do something I wouldn't do myself. Come on,' he sighed in an exhausted, relieved voice. 'I think I got another load in me, anyway.'
He sprawled out on the sleeping bag. The reawakened bone jutting out of his sand-colored camo-pants testified he was ready. Slowly, uncertainty written on his youthful face, Odgers approached. Bull groped the young private's slender six-incher by the wet cherry of its leaking head and guided him into position. Odgers spread both solid, hairy legs over Bull's face, planted a foot on either side of his neck, then rode the taught distance down to the eight inch monster laying flopped over the stomach of his field sergeant's uniform.
The other soldier's closeness washed the heady, sour stink of man-sweat into Bull's face. He lapped at Odgers' nuts. The smell of his fat, full bag again reminded him of Sarge Samuelson and those long-ago days. The hunger for the other soldier's body grew so intense, he pulled aside Odgers' briefs and dabbed his tongue into the moist, peach-fuzz-lined crack of his ass, tasting the oily hole. A few licks after that Bull returned to the prize and gulped the young private's straining knob into his mouth.
Odgers moaned around Bull's much-larger pole. He could tell the other soldier had gotten little experience by the way he carefully, slowly sucked around the head, how he gagged when more than an inch or two of shaft plunged down his throat. It didn't matter, though; only the feel of two men in this hellhole so far from home did.
Bull closed his eyes and sucked, savoring each drop of precome the young private dumped on his tongue. He'd gotten so into their forbidden sex, he didn't hear the tent flap open, just a loud, breathless 'What the fuck-!' from Holt.
Bull glanced quickly up between Odgers hairy, spread legs to see the other man's shocked expression. It was the same feral, hungry look Holt had worn while blowing his spunk into the face of the enemy. However symbolic that act had been, now they were dealing with one of their own.
Odgers spit out Bull's cock and attempted to scramble off, but the sergeant's arms across his lower back pinned the young private to the spot.
'I said at ease, soldier.'
The half-crazed, angry scowl on Holt's handsome face intensified. Bull scoped the other man's body from head to gut and realized the lump between Holt's legs had swollen recognizably. In the breathless, tense seconds that followed, Holt unholstered his assault rifle, set it down, and eased a hand toward his zipper.
'That's it, Holt,' Bull said. 'Fuckin' join us. Get some of what we men need to be men.'
'I don't fuckin' believe this,' Holt growled. He fumbled in the hair-filled front of his boxers and freed the curved, thick seven-incher and two hairy, low-hanging nuts Bull had seen in action a month earlier. 'Fuck, I could have had some hole all this time!'
'Then take it now,' Bull urged. His words stirred the gamy smell of soldier nuts and hole right above his face.
Odgers flashed a nervous look over his shoulders in Holt's direction. 'I don't know about this-'
But Holt had already decided. He moved into position to plant his flag. Bull yanked Odgers' whites aside to accommodate the other man's cock and bared the choice, pink hole at the heart of all that peach fuzz. As the other man pressed the head of his pole against Odgers' sensitive pucker, Bull took another taste, this time adding more spit for lube. Holt's cock was already dripping ball-snot like a leaky faucet.
'Yeah-!' Holt grunted, pushing in. Odgers seized in Bull's arms, howling out a round of muffled expletives. 'Fuckin' tight!'
With Holt plugging the young soldier's can and the cock in his mouth pushed almost beyond the limit of holding back, Bull guided his own dong back up into Odgers' pained face. The musty, sweaty funk of Holt's low hangers as they banged against the private's sac reached Bull's nostrils. This was right. This was good. It was the first correct thing that had happened to Bravo Company since reaching Baghdad over a month before.
Glancing up, Bull focused on the double set of nuts hanging sweaty and full above his mouth. He groped both pairs firmly. Holt moaned out something unintelligible and shoved in fully again. A trickle of warm, wet precome oozed down Odgers' balls. The next slop of juice cascaded out of the young private's virgin hole and down his bag, right into Bull's face.
Bull spit out Odgers cock and buried his face in the dual, sweaty nut sacs overhead. This was the smell he wanted to remember, the nuts of the men who'd defeated Iraq, who'd given their strength to liberate the people of Kuwait. These were the nuts of true soldiers, and real men.
Bull sucked Holt's balls into his mouth.
At one point, the soldier fucking Odgers' ass pulled out. Bull only caught the sight of the dark red, ass-smelling knob of Holt's cock an instant before hot, raunchy come bathed his face. Holt was still shooting when Bull unloaded his second blast down the private's throat. Odgers wasn't far behind. Gulping down his field sergeant's load, he pushed down into Bull's mouth and sprayed.
The three men collapsed into a heap on the sleeping bag. Nobody spoke about it after that, and no words were needed. Despite the ghostly moan of the desert wind around their tent reminding them of the campaign, at least for a moment it felt like home.
April 2000, White Pines, New York:
You didn't come yet-
The words echoed in Bull's mind as he sat in the sun beside the blond-haired man.
'You doing okay?'
'Best as can be expected,' Odgers said painfully, shifting to a more comfortable position on the deck chair. A warm spring breeze stirred through the lush green trees of the rural neighborhood. 'But you know what they say - it's all in my head. Gulf War Syndrome isn't real.'
Bull studied the young man, now in his late-twenties. The haggard lines on his face and frailty of his body had tacked several more decades onto the former soldier. Still, he bore a handsomeness Bull couldn't - and wouldn't - deny. 'What's been happening?'
'It's in my joints, mostly. My knees. Sometimes -' he hesitated, and for a few tense seconds, only the wind was audible. 'Sometimes I can't control, you know, taking a piss.'
Bull shook his head and sighed. 'You hanging in financially?'
'I get a government check every month, and living with my parents helps me make ends meet just barely. It's tough. I have lots of medical bills.'
Bull reached into his wallet and pulled out a few crisp hundred-dollar notes. 'Here. You need more, I'll hit the ATM before I go.'
Odgers held up a hand. 'I'm no charity case, Sarge.'
'I didn't say you were. Take them.'
Reluctantly, Odgers accepted the money. 'What about your son?'
Bull shrugged. 'I got plenty in the bank, and I'm getting closer to him every day. Still have a ways to go, but you know what?' Odgers shrugged. 'I've spent so much time in the service, I forgot about any kind of life outside it. So I guess maybe I'm taking this trip across country a little slow. Stopping to see the sights. Catching up with old friends. Maybe by the time I'm out west, it'll all make sense to me.'
Odgers forced a smile. 'It's good to see you again, Sarge.'
The former soldier leaned closer to where Bull sat. 'So how long you gonna stay here in New York?'
Bull shrugged. 'Just long enough to see you, pal.'
Odgers' smile widened. He looked around, from one side of the fenced-in backyard to the other. Once he was sure they were alone, he planted a hand on Bull's lap. 'I'm glad.'
Bull clapped his fingers over Odgers' touch and rubbed the other man's palm against the rising lump in his jeans. 'Me, too, kid. You up for a ride on my Harley first?'
Two days later, Bull would drive the same route away from his old friend's neighborhood on his way to the Midwest and the next leg of his journey to find Jason.
TO BE CONTINUED..