"So, you think you might be OK, now? A different perspective, I hope?"
"Yes, yes, thank you, . . . You know I haven't gotten your name. I feel so . . ."
"No need to, son. You can just call me Dingle. And I won't be seeing you up here again, I do hope."
"Umm. I kinda hoped that - "
"Oh, I didn't mean it that way. Of course you can come visit me whenever you have a hankering to. I meant I hoped I wouldn't see you climbing around on the cliff top again. It's mighty dangerous over there."
"No . . . no, sir, I don't think you'll see me . . . walking around there anymore."
They looked at each other, both knowing what was meant but not said.
They were standing, awkwardly, at the door to the lighthouse in the evening mist so heavy now that, although the structure stood at the edge of a precipice over the entrance to the harbor and they could hear the surf pounding on the rocks at the base below, they couldn't see the water.
Dingle watched the young man as he, mercifully, took the path leading down to the shore rather than the one that ran precariously out along the top of the cliff. Then Dingle sighed a satisfied sigh and withdrew into the base of the lighthouse, which was also his living quarters - his bedroom the next level up and then the bath and a small laundry. Two smaller floors of storage rooms rose above that in the narrowing tower, with his "operations" room at the top, capped only by a strobing light chamber bulbing out over the whole, erect structure.
You had to be in great shape to manage the stairs in a lighthouse, and Dingle was, even though he was well into his fifties. He was in great shape. Working out was his second favorite activity. There wasn't much else he could bide his time with on this isolated promontory jutting out to sea over the entrance into the harbor. It was a solitary life, and the requirements of the lighthouse weren't onerous. The harbor town, such as it was, was a good twenty miles inland, the harbor being long and narrow, and the shipping and fishing industry hereabouts not being what it used to be.
There were moments when Dingle was afraid they might close down this lighthouse. But the passage through the straits here was treacherous and there was a more modern, bustling, and heavily populated harbor city beyond here just up the coast requiring an assurance of safe passage through this patch of difficulty.
Dingle didn't know what he'd do if they closed him down. This had been his life for nearly fifteen years now.
There were no working family farms or sheepherding ranches out this way anymore. A large conglomerate had bought just about everyone out with the stated intention of putting a power plant out here and also going into cattle raising for the market down at the big city in a big way. But the downturn in the economy had put that on hold.
"Thank the gods for that," Dingle mused as he puttered around the semicircle of kitchen cabinetry that followed the curve of the wall on the first level. He hadn't had time to put the tea things away before they'd gone up the ladder. He thanked the gods for the delay in settlement around here, because it would surely put this good thing - his whole life - in peril.
It was only Dingle and this lighthouse for miles about - with the exception of the young men's military school on the shore just inside the entrance to the harbor.
An isolated, foreboding chunk of fearsome concrete, it was. Placed there to intimidate the young men sent there - of college age and great athletic program material, most of them. But recalcitrant, lazy, slow learning, or, worse, criminal young men. Some of them young men who just didn't fit - who had chosen what was not acceptable. It was an institution of last resort for most of them - shape up and meet the specifications for getting on that football team on a scholarship at Big U or shape up and take one last chance to stay out of prison or a life of unacceptance. Or else.
They weren't coddled at that school, no sir. And, being young men coming in with chips on their shoulders or fears in their hearts into a regimented institution that naturally formed its survival cliques and pecking orders, it was a stressful environment for any young man who couldn't fit the mold - or couldn't convince others he did. The only difference between the Hansen Military Academy and a prison for hardened criminals was that more of the inmates at Hansen were not hardened - in fact were quite vulnerable - young men, and that the students at Hansen had periods in which they could leave the school grounds. Of course, not many left very often, because there wasn't much of anyplace to go.
There was, though, a path leading up to the high cliffs overlooking the perilous entrance to the harbor - and there was the lighthouse.
* * * *
Young Daniel wasn't headed in any particular direction when he left the barracks. He'd just known he had to get out of there. They'd been teasing him again. Left that DVD on his nightstand so that any of the other guys who passed by - and a lot did - could see the photo on it, would know instantly what it was. And would assume he put it there - like he was advertising or something.
Why had that Jack Tangier from his neighborhood been sent here too? In truth, it was Jack who came here first - and he, Daniel, was only here because his parents had found out about the place from Jack's parents.
But for the same reason Daniel's parents had sent him here, they shouldn't have sent him where another guy from the neighborhood was sent. Jack's issue was that he and some others had stolen a car one night and gone for a joy ride. He'd been slated to start his second year down at Florida State this year, with a guaranteed spot on the basketball team. But the drunken escapade with the car had scotched all of that. Still, he was good enough on the basketball court, that all of that had been hushed up and the worst he got was a year here at Hansen to straighten himself - and his faltering grades - out.
Daniel had been sent here for another reason. And Jack Tangier had known what that reason was. And even before Daniel had arrived at Hansen, so did nearly every other young man in the school.
And they teased and harassed him mercilessly. And he couldn't take any more. The DVD and the comments and threats and demands that came after that had sent Daniel stumbling out of the barracks and away from the school grounds at dusk.
He had no idea where he was going. He only knew what he wanted to do. What he was determined to do. The only thing he thought there was left to do.
He found his feet leading him to the path that went up to the cliffs at the entrance of the harbor. He'd been up there a few times in the daylight. And it had scared him. The footing was treacherous. The slightest misstep from the path - obviously made for goats - and you'd be tumbling down onto the rocks and into the surging surf thirty feet below. The cliff-side path had been posted, of course. They didn't keep the guys from Hansen from going out there, though. And it was one of the rites of passages at the academy - to make it all the way from one end of the path to the other.
Daniel had only been there the once. It had scared the shit out of him. He hadn't made it down the path. It had been an easy way to die, he'd thought. And that thought now propelled him up the cliff - to the path leading along its top.
He had been standing there, for some time, on the edge. Crying quietly and going over all of the events of his life - all of the reasons why he'd do this, why there was no other choice. Trying to build up the courage to actually do it.
"It's becoming a cold evening. Fancy a cup of coffee, son? I know I'm ready for one."
The voice was soft, almost a whisper - coming from the edge of Daniel's vision in the misty gloom.
Now that he'd heard it, he felt like it was at least the second time he'd been addressed. It was so easy for words to be snatched away and wafted out over the sea here on an evening like this.
"What?" His response wasn't brilliant. But it was a response. He was engaging. And it drew him back a step from the edge.
"I said that I'd just put the pot on when I saw you walking up the path from down at the shore. I bet you're from Hansen's. You wouldn't have guessed, but I get a lot of the lads visiting me up here from Hansen's. I'd like to think it's the conversation. But I think it's probably the coffee and cookies. Don't get much of them down at Hansen's, I wouldn't imagine. It can be a bit too strict down there - and not understanding enough. Don't you think?"
He was rambling, certainly, and Daniel had to strain to hear him. He was still doing barely more than whispering. Daniel had to step back a few more steps to hear him, even though the whisperer was drawing closer to him.
"My name is Dingle, what's yours?" he was asking as he drew near. Daniel almost tripped on a projecting rock as he stepped closer another step - to hear the man better - and Dingle extended a hand to help keep him from falling. When Daniel had steadied himself, Dingle left his hand on Daniel's elbow.
"My name is Dingle, what's yours?" he repeated. Still the soft, reassuring, neutral whisper.
"Daniel. Thanks. I think I'd better . . . though."
"You're shivering son. How about a nice cup of coffee before you go down. Ever seen a lighthouse?"
"No. I haven't." Daniel looked up at the lighthouse, looking from here like it was rising out of a cloud at its base. From here, like this, the phallic aspect of it didn't escape him, and he moaned softly.
"Coffee and cookies? What do you say to that?"
* * * *
"So, what you're saying is that you fancy going with other boys - men? Well, if so, there's nothing wrong with that. It's just a thing of nature. The only shame is feeling the shame and letting others make you feel it."
Dingle was talking about it - his voice still not that much above a whisper - like there was nothing to it. That all Daniel had to do was recognize and accept it. This was something Daniel had never heard before. Everyone else either wanted it on the sly or wanted to lecture him about it being a sickness, a sin, a weakness that he had to "cure" or hide or run away from.
"I can't go back. They all - "
"Do you know the look of a man when he wants you, Daniel?"
"Yes. Yes, I guess I do." Daniel hadn't thought about it before - he certainly hadn't been able to talk to anyone about it. Dingle was the first one he could be open to about it. But he'd answered right out. Without thinking about it, he guessed, he did know that look.
"Go back and look around at the senior-most students there, Daniel. The biggest, most popular athletes. Pay attention to them looking at you. You are someone they would look at. Don't downgrade yourself there."
"Yes, but - "
"And when you get that look from one of them - and you will, I can guarantee it; I can give you a few names even, if you want - when one of them looks at you like that, give him what he wants. He'll protect you. You won't have trouble from any of the other guys after that."
Daniel was silent for a moment, thinking.
"And it will be freeing. It won't be just the protection you're getting from him. Trust me on that."
After a pause, Daniel looked up and spoke. "No one has talked to me about it like this - like it's just normal for some guys. Not something to fight - or to fight about. Thanks. I don't know how to thank - "
But then he looked up at Dingle and into his eyes. The look. The look was there, and Daniel knew how he could thank Dingle.
Looking at Dingle before they had climbed the ladder to the second level, leaving the half-finished coffee things where they were on the small wooden table, Daniel saw a weather-beaten, graying man more than twice his age. But seeing Dingle upstairs, unclothed, and then lying under Dingle as he deeply plowed him over the next hour, Daniel saw and felt a tower of strength and power - an experienced man with a lighthouse of a phallus who could work his body as no one else ever had in his earlier furtive couplings.
And it wasn't just the fucking. Dingle laid Daniel on his back on the small cot of a bed in the center of the circular chamber and knelt between his trembling thighs and sucked and stroked with his hand and worked Daniel's rim with his lips and tongue and teeth until, writhing under him, Daniel came in a profusion of release. No one, in all of his brief, secret fumblings, had made love to Daniel's cock and rim like this - centering on Daniel, concentrating on giving him the ultimate pleasure. Before, it had always been furtive and almost comically inexpert.
Dingle was a masterful lover.
And, oh, the fucking. After Daniel's release, Dingle rising up on his feet between Daniel's thighs, telling Daniel what he was going to do and showing him the massive staff he was going to do it with - and then doing it - slowly, drawing out every sensation of the taking. Slow slide in, slow, slow, deep, deeper. Daniel crying out, the pace quickening and Dingle moving the positions, seeking ever deeper access, ever more intimate embraces and fervent kisses. Showing Daniel ways of taking he'd never dreamed of before. Daniel ejaculating again - and then again. Dingle taking his time, no one to worry about seeing or hearing them. An hour and more of the most glorious taking Daniel had ever had.
Being shown, in the clearest way possible, how good life could be.
Still holding hands at the door, Dingle whispered - as he had done with other young men before and before that, "No need to walk on the cliffs now, Daniel? A bit different perspective on life now? Not so bleak?"
"Yes. Oh, yes, Dingle. Can I - ?"
"Come back to see me? Yes, lad. Anytime you have the notion. Anytime you need reminding that it can be something special - and is worth living for." Said in a whisper. But now, fully in tune with the master, Daniel clearly heard every word, felt deeply its meaning and salvation.
* * * *
"I have a secret, Dingle," spoken in belabored tones, his back arched against Dingle's chest, a leg raised over Dingle's thigh, Dingle's hand palmed on his breasts, thumbing his nipples, while Dingle was still moving his cock deep inside his channel.
"We all have secrets, Sean," Dingle whispering in Sean's ear, teething an earlobe and enjoying the gasp at the magic his cock was playing out in Sean's channel.
"Yes, but mine is about you. I should not tell."
"I didn't come up here to jump. Others haven't either. I'm sure some have, but most haven't."
"I came up here for your cock - your fucking. It's legendary."
"That's perhaps no secret to me - the part of why some of you come up here. My young men, ones who come back - and come back for years after Hansen. Some have confessed. But it doesn't matter, Sean. Some do come up here to jump. That is why I am still here when a young man comes struggling up the path."
All told in a soft, melodious whisper.