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    Diogenes
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About Carl - 9. A Night at the Lord Selkirk

Now that I had a girlfriend, I had an opportunity to change the direction of my life. I wanted my relationship with Kim to be a catalyst for that change. Being with her was my chance to acquire all the trappings of being straight, and the trappings were considerable as I came to learn. Being identified as Kim's boyfriend gave me a veneer of social acceptability. In the small rural communities of Selkirk County, single adults were looked on as odd nonconformists or eccentrics who weren't holding up their ends of the social contract by establishing families and raising children. My dating Kim was a relief to a lot of people; I had cleared the first hurdle in a race that ultimately led to the finish line of marriage and family. My mother could breathe easier and stop asking in worried tones, “Have you met any nice young women?” Neighbours could rest assured that I wasn't building bombs in my basement or torturing animals.

Most social functions in rural communities are built around straight couples. Recreational and family events tacitly assume that attendees will be paired up, and single people are looked on with pity or outright suspicion. When I received wedding invitations, they were always addressed to “Mark Nielsen and guest”. Single people messed up the seating plan at dinner parties. It was especially tough for single women; eligible young men in small towns who were looking for good jobs didn't stick around long. I think Kim thought she'd hit the jackpot with me: a single, attractive, educated man with a good job and a commitment to living in her home town.

Kim and I spent a lot of time together, and at first it was easy. We enjoyed each other’s company, and we shared many common interests. We were both teachers and had performed together on stage with the Kelso Players. We both liked to cook, and we enjoyed classical music. We went out for dinner and saw movies together. We accompanied each other to events at our respective schools: student performances, staff parties, pot-luck dinners and the like. I had dinner with her parents frequently; her mother and father both liked me and were delighted that Kim had finally “met someone nice.” I accompanied her to her cousin's wedding, where she showed me off to her extended family, who teased her about being next to walk down the aisle.

She was smart and funny, and, in the beginning, it was easy to be around her. And yet, something wasn’t quite right. Being her friend was easy, but being her partner never came naturally to me. The added level of emotional involvement that came with being her boyfriend was something I couldn’t quite pull off convincingly.

I approached my new role as boyfriend the same way I handled my role as Joe Cooper when I appeared on stage with the Kelso Players. I examined my motivation and studied the character I was playing. I asked myself, “What would a straight man do in this situation?”, and that's what I did. I wanted this performance to be successful. I wanted to be a father and raise a family. I wanted the social acceptability that went with being married to a woman, and I didn't think I could deal with the baggage that came along with being gay. Since I had convinced myself that I was bisexual, I thought it shouldn't be hard to make this work. So, I did what I did on stage; I played a character: Kim’s boyfriend.

I handled my sexual relationship with Kim in a similar way. I knew, in a sort of academic sense, what one was supposed to do when having sex with a woman. I knew what parts went where and what she expected me to do. My father, who had an extensive library of scientific books at home that I read voraciously when I was young, had once suggested a popular anthropology book by Desmond Morris called The Naked Ape. I read the chapter on sex – in which he describes human sexual behaviour the way a zoologist would describe the mating rituals of mountain gorillas – over and over again when I was an adolescent. I thought about that book frequently when I was with Kim. We were two naked apes pair-bonding.

Morris starts the chapter with the line, “To begin with, we must establish precisely how the naked ape does behave today when indulging in sexual behaviour.” He goes on to describe humans having sex:

After the initial stages of visual and vocal display, simple body contacts are made. These usually accompany locomotion, which is now considerably increased when the pair are together. Hand-to-hand and arm-to-arm contacts are followed by mouth-to-face and mouth-to-mouth ones. Mutual embracing occurs, both statically and during locomotion.

When pair-formation behaviour passes over into the pre-copulatory phase, privacy is sought, and the subsequent patterns of behaviour are performed in isolation from other members of the species as far as is possible. With the pre-copulatory stage there is a striking increase in the adoption of a horizontal posture. Body-to-body contacts are increased in both force and duration.

That's what sex with Kim was like for me. I knew what to do, and the sensations generally felt pleasurable, but I was always following a mental script that might have been written by a zoologist. It had all the passion of putting together a piece of IKEA furniture; I knew what to do with the Allen key and could follow the pictographic instructions, but it was a lot of work just for a coffee table.

I could perform adequately in bed with Kim, but I found it difficult to be aroused by her soft, fleshy body. At any given moment I could close my eyes, imagine Carl’s muscular, hairy torso and his big, hard dick, and become instantly aroused. In bed with Kim and her big breasts and wide, curvy hips, I had to concentrate intensely on the physical sensations I was experiencing to bring things to a conclusion.

As time went on, we fell into a predictable pattern. On Fridays we had drinks after work. On Saturdays we went out for dinner or maybe saw a movie, and then I went back to her apartment and we had sex. I didn't stay overnight much because I had the dog to worry about, and pets weren't allowed in her building. She didn't like staying at my house because it was cold and drafty and was constantly in a state of renovation. On Sundays, we got caught up on our schoolwork at our separate houses.

It wasn't an unpleasant existence, but it got to be routine and boring. I started to notice irritating things about her, like the fact that she snored or that she liked music by Wilson Phillips and Bananarama. She started to pressure me to do more “couple” things, like spa weekends and trips to see musicals in Toronto, and I started to resent the loss of my free time.

During the summer vacation we took a trip to New England, during which we bickered over minor things like tipping waiters and reading maps. We were tense and irritable with each other. One day while we were sunbathing on a beach in Maine, a stunningly handsome young man strolled past us in nothing but a skimpy bathing suit. I watched him as he walked past, and Kim caught me staring at him. “What are you doing looking at him? That's kind of weird,” she said.

I got defensive and snapped at her, “What? You don't think a straight guy can appreciate a good-looking man when he sees one?”
“All right, all right,” she said, “don't be so touchy. Jesus.” She became sullen and didn't talk to me for the rest of the afternoon. We returned from the trip glad to be able to spend some time apart from each other.

Things went on in this vein for about a year. I didn't have the nerve to end it with her, and mutual friends and colleagues thought we made such a lovely couple that I thought I must be missing something and I should just try harder. The person that eventually brought things to a head was, of course, Carl.

One Friday afternoon in October, the receptionist at Milfield High paged me over the intercom. “Mr. Neilsen to the office, please. You have a visitor.” I walked into the office, and there stood Carl. He was dressed in a dark charcoal suit and had an overcoat draped over his arm. I hadn't seen him in almost two years, although we had talked on the phone a few times. He looked great. He'd obviously been working out; even through the suit I could see that he was in great shape. His hair was thinning a little but he wore it cropped close to his head, giving him a very masculine, almost military, look. He was now thirty-one years old and looked more handsome than ever.

“Carl,” I said, “what are you doing here?”

“Hi, Mark,” he said. “I was in Toronto for some discovery in a case I’m working on and was driving back to Ottawa. I thought I'd drop in to surprise you. I remembered you saying you worked at Milfield High, so I looked up the address and stopped by. I hope this isn't a bad time.”

“No, of course not. I'm just surprised – but in a good way.”

The secretaries in the office were looking at me expectantly, wondering who this good-looking stranger was. “Oh, I'm sorry, everyone,” I said. “This is my friend Carl Lockhart. We went to high school together. I was the best man at his wedding.”

The women all introduced themselves, and Carl was charming as usual. I interrupted to say, “Come on down to my classroom, Carl. I was just about to head home for the day.”

“I was hoping we could go out for dinner tonight,” he said, as we walked down the corridor. “I haven't seen you in a long time, and I don't have to be back in Ottawa until Sunday. That is, if you don't already have plans. I'm sorry for springing this on you without warning.”

“Of course, dinner would be great,” I said. “I'll just have to make a quick phone call first. Just wait here in my room; I'll be right back.”

I went to the staff lounge to call Kim at Kelso High School. When she came to the phone, I said, “Hi Kim, it's me. I know we had plans for tonight, but something's come up. My friend Carl stopped by unexpectedly on his way to Ottawa; I'm going to take him out for dinner. I'm sorry; I'll make it up to you some other time.”

“That's OK,” she said. “I'd probably get bored listening to you two telling old war stories anyway. Where are you going for dinner?”

“I'm not sure – probably the Peterborough Arms.”

“OK, have fun. I'll talk to you tomorrow.”

When I got back to my room, I found Carl at my desk, tilted back in my chair with his hands clasped behind his head, his legs stretched out in front of him. God, he looked good. In his expensive suit and polished wing-tips, he looked like he was doing a photo shoot for GQ magazine. I looked like a hick by comparison – in my khaki pants and short-sleeved, plaid shirt.

“I hope I haven't screwed up your plans,” he said.

“No, I just had to call my girlfriend. We were supposed to go out for drinks tonight, but it's no problem.”

“Girlfriend?” he said, raising one eyebrow. “I didn't know.”

“Yeah, her name's Kim; she's a music teacher at Kelso High School. I'll tell you all about her over dinner. I thought we'd go into Peterborough to a pub there.”

“Sounds good,” he said. “I hope I'm not imposing, but it's going to be a little late to drive back to Ottawa. Is it OK if I crash at your place? I've never seen your new house."

Dammit. I promised myself we wouldn't be alone together. This probably isn't a good idea.

I looked at him stretched out in front of me. “Sure thing, as long as you don't mind sleeping on the sofa,” I said.

Shit, shit, shit. This is a mistake.

“We'll have to go to my house in Ravenbridge first,” I said. “I have to walk the dog and get her fed. You can have a look at the house.”

“OK, lead the way. I'll follow you in my car,” he said.

I gathered up my things and led him out to the parking lot. “Where's your car?” I said.

“It's the silver Lexus over there in the corner.”

“Jesus, Carl, a Lexus? You must be doing all right.”

“Don't get excited, it's leased. But now that I'm a junior associate at a big Ottawa law firm, it's expected that I drive a car appropriate to the firm's public image. It's such bullshit, but the senior partners don't want cheap cars parked in the garage. Gives the wrong impression to clients.”

“Well, that's my vehicle, the beat-up Ford truck. I hope you're not embarrassed to park your car in the same driveway as mine.”

“Well, look at it this way; maybe a Lexus will drive up the property values in your neighbourhood.”

Carl followed me to Ravenbridge, and I pulled into the driveway of my house. When we got out of our vehicles, Carl said, “Wow, Mark, what a great place! I can see it needs some work, but what an amazing house.”

“Thanks, Carl.” I was glad he could see past the dilapidated condition of the place and appreciate its features. I opened the door, and Blanche came tumbling out, running circles around us and barking excitedly.

“This is Blanche. I'm just going to take her for a walk; why don't you go on in and have a look around.” I grabbed the excited dog and hooked her up to her leash, all the while watching Carl as he moved through the front hallway.

Damn, he looks fine. He gets better looking every time I see him.

Carl had brought a suitcase with him, and he set it down in the living room. “I'm going to change into something more casual. Take your time,” he said.

Get out of here before he starts taking his clothes off.

“Come on, Blanche,” I said. “Let’s go for a walk.” She whined excitedly and licked my hand. I decided to take her down to the park, where I could let her run around off-leash. I could use the interlude to get thoughts of Carl undressing in my living room out of my mind.

He’s probably loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt right now. Then he’ll slide off those pants and scratch his balls ...

Blanche barked at me as if to say, “Buddy, snap out of it. Let’s get a move on. I don’t have all day.” I took the leash, and we headed down the street. I stopped at the post office to pick up my mail, and then took Blanche down to the park for a long run along the river.

There, it wasn’t so difficult to get him out of my mind. I can deal with this.

When I got back, Carl was sitting on the sofa reading a magazine. He had changed into jeans and a tight polo shirt that showed off his muscular torso. He looked up at me and smiled his perfect smile. Blanche ran over to him and licked his hand.

“Why don’t you give me the grand tour of your house?” he said.

“OK. Well, when I bought the place, the archway between this room and the dining room was blocked off, and there were two teenagers using the rooms as bedrooms. One wall was covered with beer-bottle labels; I had to take them off with a grinder. These columns were hidden behind a horrible amateur drywall job,” I said. Carl stood beside me as I pointed out the ornate mouldings that I had uncovered. His elbow brushed against mine.

Why is he standing so close to me?

We moved into the front hallway. “This whole doorway was boarded up,” I said. “Um, I had to replace all the glass in the sidelights and the, um, fanlight over the door.” Carl was standing right beside me.

Dammit, he smells good.

“Uh, the newel post was hand-carved from a single block of, um, maple.”

I wonder what cologne he’s wearing

“OK, well, let’s just go on in here.” I walked down the hall into the kitchen. At one time it had been an enormous room with lots of windows, but the previous owner had carved it up into two rooms and installed a small, cramped, windowless, galley kitchen in one corner. Cheap particle-board cabinets lined one wall, and the fridge and stove took up most of the space on the opposite side.

“This is my next big project,” I said. “I hate this room. I want to tear out all the walls and return the room to its original shape. I’m going to put in a kitchen island and new cabinets.” I stepped into the galley kitchen, and Carl followed me. “As you can see, cooking in here is not a pleasant experience.”

The space was so narrow it was impossible for two people to stand side by side. Carl stood in the entrance. He was staring at me intently.

“Do you have any beer in that fridge?” he said.

“I think so,” I replied. “Let me check.”

I turned to open the fridge. I was aware that Carl had moved behind me. I could sense the heat radiating from his body and feel his breath on my neck. He put his hands on my hips and leaned forward, his nose in my hair, and breathed in deeply.

I turned around to face him. “Carl ... ,” I said, but before I could continue he pushed me roughly against the refrigerator and kissed me hard.

“Shut up,” he whispered. His mouth returned to mine, his lips crushing against mine, his tongue forcing its way into my mouth. I opened my mouth and let him in, sucking on his tongue. I reached up to hold him in my arms, but he took both my hands in his and held them over my head, pinning me against the refrigerator, kissing me the whole time. He moved his feet between mine and spread my legs apart, grinding his pelvis against mine. My cock was hard, and I could feel his erection pressed against me. I couldn’t move, but I didn’t want to.

He broke off the kiss, gasping for breath. “My god, Mark. Feel what you do to me,” he said. He took my hand and placed it over his hard cock. I cupped it in my fingers and rubbed it through the fabric of his jeans.

He reached down, roughly yanked my belt open and released the button on my pants. He slid his hand inside, pulling my cock out. I did the same to him and soon we stood, our pants around our knees, our hard dicks touching. Carl reached down and took both of them in his hand. Our eyes met.

“God, yes, Carl – please,” I whispered.

He kissed me again, hard, and, holding our cocks together, began to roughly, urgently stroke them. It didn’t take long; the feel of his hot skin against mine, his big hand moving over me, and his tongue moving in my mouth pushed me over the edge quickly. I came in his hand, grunting. Carl wasn’t far behind; he tilted his head back, made a guttural sound and reached his own orgasm. I felt his hot cum spray against my skin.

He leaned against me, breathing hard, pinning me against the refrigerator. I reached up with one hand and stroked his hair. I could feel his cum running down one of my legs. After a few seconds, he stood up straight and looked at me. “Are we OK?” he asked quietly.

“Yes,” I said. “We’re OK.” I kissed him. I wanted to ask, “Are you OK?”

I handed him a dish towel. “You’d better clean yourself up before we go out for dinner. I’m just going to go upstairs and change. I’ll be right back.” I kissed him again, hoping to ease any of the doubts that I knew were racing through his mind. I went upstairs to my bedroom and closed the door. I rested my head against the wall.

Fuck. What just happened? Why does he have to be so god-damned sexy all the time? He has a wife and a kid, and I have a girlfriend. How the fuck is this going to work?

I changed my clothes and joined him downstairs. We drove in my truck to Peterborough to a pub that had decent food and a nice selection of beer. We didn’t talk much during the drive; I could tell that Carl was troubled.

We got to the restaurant and ordered a couple of pints. I tried to make small talk, bringing him up to date on my life. Carl gradually loosened up and relaxed. I told him about Kim

“I'm glad you've found someone,” Carl said. “How's it going with her?”

“OK, I guess,” I said.

“You guess?”

“Yeah, well, it's not perfect, but it's, I don't know ... OK, I guess.”

“How’s your sex life?”

I blushed. “Jesus, Carl. It's fine.”

“Just fine? No screaming, toe-curling, back-scratching fuckfests?”

“For God's sake, Carl, will you lay off? Our sex life is fine. It's perfectly adequate.”

“It's perfectly adequate. Way to go, Casanova.”

I blushed again. I was not enjoying this conversation. Carl could sense my embarrassment.

“I'm sorry, Mark. I'm just teasing. I'm happy for you,” he said.

I tried to change the subject. “So, what's been going on with you lately?” I said.

“Well, as you know, I'm now a junior associate at Robinson O'Malley in Ottawa, where I articled when I got out of law school. They're a big corporate-litigation firm. I work in the Mergers and Acquisitions department. It's very challenging.”

“And your family?” I asked.

“Good. Lisa's now a fully qualified cardiologist at the Heart Institute. She works really long hours. We bought a house in Stittsville, a little town west of the city. Brian is two now. He goes to a daycare facility near my office downtown when we're both at work. He's a great little guy.” He looked wistful. “I have to tell you, Mark, I love being a father.”

“And a husband?” I said.

“It's perfectly adequate,” he replied. He forced a smile.

We finished dinner and drove back to Ravenbridge around 9:00 o'clock. When I pulled into the driveway, Carl said, “Since I'm not going back to Ottawa tonight, let's go out somewhere and have a few drinks.”

“Good idea,” I said. I wasn't ready for the night to end yet. “I just have to let out the dog, and then we can walk up the street to the Lord Selkirk Hotel. There's a dingy bar there with cheap beer. You can meet all the local drunks.”

The Lord Selkirk was a big, three-storey limestone building that had been built in the 19th Century. It was now mostly empty except for the bar on the ground floor. The building’s two entrances still had signs over them, one saying “Gentlemen” and the other “Ladies and Escorts”, artifacts of the puritanical, liquor-licencing laws in Ontario that once made it illegal for unaccompanied women to drink in public. The windows had all been bricked up years ago, and the room was lit by a few flickering fluorescent tubes and some neon Molson Canadian signs. The stained carpet smelled like beer and disinfectant, and the suspended-tile ceiling was coated with a layer of grime and old cigarette smoke. There was a jar of ancient pickled eggs on the bar, the only food item available. A few older men well into the early stages of inebriation regarded us quizzically for a few moments when we walked in, then returned to their drinks.

We sat at a table near the shuffleboard and ordered a pitcher of Canadian. “Welcome to Ravenbridge,” I said, as we clinked our glasses in salute. A couple of my neighbours were in the bar, and they stopped by to say hello. While I was chatting, Carl put some quarters in the juke box. Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love came on; it was a song he always played on the jukebox at the Chestnut Inn when we went there together years ago.

It ought to be easy, ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above,
if you want to ride on down through this tunnel of love

“This place reminds me of the Chestnut Inn,” Carl said. “Remember when we used to eat chicken wings there and argue politics?”

“Of course,” I said. “I loved that place. I loved being there with you.” Being with Carl in the Lord Selkirk did indeed bring back memories of when he and I first met, before Lisa, before Kim, when we were very young and it seemed like our intense friendship would never change. “I miss those days. I miss you, Carl.”

“I miss you too, Mark. You have no idea,” he said. “It was no accident that I happened to be driving through Milfield today. I came here on purpose to see you.” He paused. We looked awkwardly at each other. He frowned, and a look of sadness crossed his face. “You know,” he said, “I hate that we've drifted apart.”

The conversation had taken a serious turn. I fiddled nervously with the coaster under my beer glass. The memory of what we had done earlier that afternoon hung heavily between us.

“I do, too, Carl,” I said, after a long pause. “But it's really complicated now. You know that.”

“I know it is,” he said. He was silent for a few seconds. “Are you happy, Mark?” he said, almost in a whisper.

“I guess so,” I replied, “Most of the time. I’m not unhappy. Why are you asking me that?”

“I don’t know,” he said. He looked dejectedly into his beer. He was quiet for a long time. “I’m not happy, Mark.”

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

He absentmindedly ran his finger around the rim of his beer glass. He sighed. “I don't understand it. I have everything I've ever wanted: a wife, a beautiful son, a house in the country, a great career. But I'm sad all the time.”

“Carl, it’s normal to be down once in a while,” I said.

“Once in a while?” He snorted derisively. “Once in a while? I wish it was once in a while. Some mornings I can hardly get out of bed.” He was talking rapidly now, emotionally, his words tumbling out. “I cry uncontrollably at the office. When I'm driving home on the highway I have fantasies about crashing the car into an overpass. I have no friends. I self-medicate with alcohol. I exercise at the gym for hours to avoid going home. Lisa and I fight all the time. She says I've changed and I'm not the man she married – what a fucking cliché. I’m not the man she married? She wasn’t such a bitchy control freak when I married her.

He took a long drink of beer before he continued. “I went to see a therapist who put me on anti-depressants. Fucking therapists. ‘How does that make you feel?’ It makes me feel like jumping off a bridge. I'm a fucking mess, Mark.” He was wiping away tears. “If it wasn't for my son, I'd chuck it all.”

I was shocked. “My God, Carl, I had no idea,” I said. “I’m so sorry. I’m a terrible friend. I should have known you were hurting. I wasn’t there for you. God, I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s not your fault,” he muttered. “This is my problem. I’m the one who’s responsible for this whole fucking situation.” He blew his nose into a paper napkin.

“That’s not true,” I said. “You’ve got a lot to deal with. It’s not all your fault.” I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then reached across the table and took his hand. “Carl, what do you want me to do?” I asked, my voice quavering. “Please, tell me.”

“I want you to be my friend again,” he said. “I want it to be like it was.”

“I'm still your friend, Carl,” I said, “but it can't be like it was. We've got commitments now. You've got a family.”

“Does that mean we can't see each other anymore? You've been avoiding me.”

I checked to see if anyone was eavesdropping on us. No one seemed to be paying attention, and the music from the jukebox was masking our conversation. “I know,” I said quietly. “I did that for a reason, and I'm sorry. Every time we get together, we wind up doing something, you know, physical, and I could tell it was complicating things for you. I wanted to give you some space. I thought I was making things worse by being around you.”

“I get that, but it sucks,” he said. He blew his nose again loudly.

We were starting to attract some attention. A waitress came over and said, “Is everything OK here, guys?”

“We’re fine, thanks,” I replied. “We’ll just take our bill, please.”

I was concerned that our conversation was going to get even more emotional there in this public place, so I said, “Come on, Carl, let's finish this pitcher and go back to my place. I'll make us some coffee.”

“OK,” he said, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. I paid our tab, and we headed out into the night to walk the two blocks back to my house. We were both a little drunk. When we got to the house, I let the dog out while Carl went inside. When I came in I could hear water running in the bathroom. I went into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee.

Carl was still in the bathroom. I stood outside the closed door and said loudly, “Carl, what do you take in your coffee?”

The door opened and Carl came out, his eyes red from crying. We stood across from each other in the narrow hallway. “Just cream,” he said quietly.

He looked at me. Neither of us moved. He was so close I could smell the beer on his breath. “Mark ...” he said. Then he moved towards me and kissed me on the mouth, a soft, tender kiss, full of emotion. Suddenly, he pulled away from me. “Fuck,” he said under his breath. I could tell from the way he grimaced that he was struggling. It was like we were poised on a tightrope and one wrong move would send everything crashing down.

Don’t do this again. Bad idea. We’ll fuck everything up even more.

“It's OK, Carl,” I said. “We probably shouldn't ...”

He interrupted me with another kiss, this time more passionate, his tongue pushing into my mouth. I kissed him back and snaked my arms around his neck, bringing him closer, my tongue sliding against his

He started kissing my ear and sucking on the skin of my neck and collarbone. I moaned in pleasure. I tilted my head back and gasped.

Carl whispered, “Let's go to your bedroom.” I took him by the hand and led him upstairs. Blanche was curled up on the bed and looked up at me expectantly. I closed the drapes, pushed the dog off to one side, and then walked over to where Carl stood in the doorway. I took his hand and pulled him into the room.

“Are you sure about this?” I said.

“Yes,” he replied. “I want this so much. Let's not talk about it; let's just be together.”

I began to undress him as he stood there in my bedroom. I pulled off his polo shirt, then undid his belt and pulled down his pants. He stepped out of them, now wearing nothing but briefs and socks. I knelt down and lifted his feet one by one, removing his socks. I leaned forward and kissed the head of his hard cock through the fabric of his underwear. There was a wet mark there where he was leaking pre-cum; I could taste the salty evidence of his arousal. The musky, sweaty, masculine smell of him was intoxicating.

I didn't need any pictographic instructions or zoological treatises to tell me what to do next. Being with him felt natural, felt right. Everything about him turned me on: his smell, the taste of his skin, the feel of his hairy thighs against my face, his big hands stroking my hair as I knelt in front of him. I reached up and pulled down his underwear; his cock, briefly caught in the elastic waistband, sprang up against my cheek. I grabbed it with one hand and guided it slowly into my mouth.

“Fucking hell, Mark...” he moaned. “God, that feels wonderful.”

I cupped his balls with one hand and stroked his cock with the other while licking and sucking the head. He began to gently thrust into my mouth while caressing my head with both hands.

He stopped thrusting and pulled his cock out of my mouth. I looked up at him, wondering why he had stopped. He looked down at me, smiling, and reached down to take both my hands in his. He pulled me to my feet. “Take off your clothes,” he said. I stepped out of my pants and underwear and took off my socks. He reached out and pulled my shirt over my head. We stood, totally naked, in front of each other.

“I want to make you feel good,” he said. He pushed me backwards onto the bed. The dog grunted and shifted to the end of the mattress. Carl climbed on top of me and kissed me hard, pushing his tongue into my mouth. He ground his cock against mine. I wrapped my arms around him and hooked my legs around his, pulling him closer to me.

He broke off the kiss and turned around, his head over my crotch. I felt him take my dick in his mouth and start moving his head up and down. He shifted so his cock was over my face, and I reached up to guide it into my own mouth.

It was like the night before his wedding all over again, when we had thrown away our inhibitions and physically expressed our love for each other. I didn't have to play a role with Carl or follow a script. It felt absolutely natural to be with him this way. I felt complete in a way I never felt with anyone else.

We continued working on each other for what seemed like hours: sucking, licking, caressing. Carl lifted his head and whispered, “Mark, I'm coming.” I held onto his hips and pulled him deeper into my mouth. His leg muscles tensed, and he came in my mouth, sending spurt after spurt of warm cum into my throat. I swallowed it all.

He rolled off me and lay on his back, breathing heavily, a film of sweat covering his body. I swung around and lay beside him. I kissed him gently.

“Now it's your turn,” he said. “Come up here and kneel over me.” I straddled his torso, my balls touching his chest, my cock pointing at his face. He lifted his head and took me in his mouth. He reached around with his hands and grabbed my ass, pulling me forward, deeper into his mouth. I began to gently, slowly, fuck his face. He gagged once, and I backed off, but gradually we established a rhythm.

I could feel my impending orgasm, and I whispered, “I'm real close.” He nodded and pulled me deeper into his mouth. I felt the wave coming, and I arched my back and shot into his mouth. He sucked it all down, continuing to massage my dick with his lips and tongue while I twitched in his mouth.

I pulled out and lay down beside him. We faced each other, staring into each other's eyes. He reached out and brushed my cheek with his hand. I ran my fingers through his short-cropped hair.

“My god,” he said, “that was intense.”

“Thank you for that, Carl,” I said. “You have no idea how good that was for me.”

“I think I have a pretty good idea,” he said, chuckling. “That's the best sex I think I've ever had. Certainly better than any time with Lisa.”

The mention of Carl's wife had a chilling effect. A few moments ago we had been lying in each other's arms, gazing lovingly at each other, enjoying the feeling of being completely spent. Now guilt had intruded. Carl's face clouded. He rolled onto his back. “I have to use the can,” he said and got up to go to the bathroom.

When he returned, he gathered up his clothes and said, “I think I'll go sleep on the sofa now.”

I looked at him sadly. We had screwed up again. “I'll get you some blankets and a pillow,” I said.

I put on my bathrobe and went to the closet. I came back with the bedding; Carl took it from me and said, “Thanks, I can handle it from here. Good night, Mark.” He turned and went down the stairs to the living room.

Fuck, fuck, FUCK. Why had I let this happen again? A few minutes of physical pleasure and now nothing but more anxiety and pain. How could I have done this to him? What was the matter with me? I knew he was hurting and vulnerable, and I took him to bed, blew him, and let him suck me off. I was the worst, most selfish kind of friend.

Blanche was still lying at the end of the bed, looking at me. “Papa fucked up again, sweetheart,” I said to her sadly. I crawled under the blankets and drifted off to a disturbed, fitful sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to hear Carl in the bathroom taking a shower. I got dressed and went downstairs to put on a pot of coffee. Carl came into the kitchen, and I handed him a mug. “Do you want any breakfast?” I asked.

“No thanks. I think I'll just head out for Ottawa,” he said. “Thanks for putting me up last night.” He was avoiding looking at me.

“Carl, we need to talk about this,” I said.

“I can't, Mark,” he said. “I have to face my wife and kid in a few hours. I can't deal with this right now.”

“We can't just leave it like this,” I said.

“I know. Give me some time. I need to think.”

“Promise me you’ll at least go see your therapist soon,” I said.

“I promise,” he said.

“And promise me that you’ll call me. It’s important. I’m worried about you.”

“I will. I promise.”

He went into the living room and packed his suitcase. We stepped out onto the porch at the side of the house. None of the neighbours could see us there.

“Goodbye, Mark,” he said. “We'll talk, I promise, but not right now.” Tears were welling up in his eyes. He set down his suitcase and drew me into a hug. He pulled back a little and then kissed me on the lips, a long, sweet, gentle kiss. Suddenly he pulled away. Looking over my shoulder, he muttered, “Shit”, under his breath. I turned around to see what had startled him.

Kim was standing in the driveway, staring at us, a tray of three takeout coffees in one hand.

“I have to go,” Carl said. He walked past Kim and got into his car, pulling quickly out of the driveway.

“Kim, it's not what you think,” I stammered.

“How would you know what I think?” she said angrily. She set the tray down on the porch steps.

“I brought you a fucking coffee.” She turned and strode off down the driveway.

“Kim, wait,” I said. “Can we talk about this?”

“I'm in no mood to talk to you right now,” she said. “And by the way, you've got a hickey on your neck. You might want to wear a turtleneck to school on Monday.” She walked off to her car, which was parked across the street. She slammed the door and drove off.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Everything had gone to shit in the space of about eight hours. Carl was once again consumed with guilt, and my girlfriend had caught me in the arms of another man. If she outed me to the community, it could go very badly for me.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

I called Kim that afternoon and left a message asking her to call me back. There was no response. I went into school on Monday expecting a shit-storm, but nothing happened. I didn't hear from Kim until Thursday, when a letter from her arrived at school, addressed to me.

Mark:

I’m sorry to do this by letter, but I’m angry, and I don’t trust myself to talk to you in person. I need some time to sort through my feelings about this, so please let me handle it by myself.

I don't know what issues you are dealing with, but you clearly have some things to work out. I’m angry at you for involving me, but I'll get over it. I feel like our relationship was based on a false premise, and I resent that, but I'll move past it. I guess it's better that I found out now before we got more involved.

Although I feel hurt and I’m mad, you are a nice guy, and I don't regret the time we've spent together, but I can't be involved with someone as confused as you apparently are. You obviously need to take a long hard look at yourself, and I hope you can do that and come to grips with whatever is keeping you from being honest.

I won't say anything about why we've split up. We live in a small community that loves to gossip, and I don't want to subject you – or me – to that humiliation. We’re likely to run into each other through school; I hope we can be civil to each other in time.

Goodbye

Kim

On Friday, Beth Johnson approached me in the staff lounge at school. “What the hell?” she said. “I heard you and Kim Parr have split up!”

“Yes, it's true,” I said sheepishly. “News travels fast.”

“What happened?” she said. “You two were such a cute couple!”

“I don't know, Beth,” I said. “It just didn't work out.”

Thanks to rec, as usual, for editing and for his valuable suggestions. Thanks to Parker Owens for beta reading and advice.

Copyright © 2016 Diogenes; All Rights Reserved.
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

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Chapter Comments

I continue to rend my heart over Mark and the lonely emptiness he must feel to observe his life like this. Carl will go home and try to make things right with his wife, but what will become of him? Nothing that won't involve a great deal of pain. And again, Mark. Single, and unable to approach friendship without the lenses of Carl to look at it through. Sad, lyrical, beautifully written. This story is a true gem. Thank you.

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On 11/08/2015 02:36 PM, Parker Owens said:

I continue to rend my heart over Mark and the lonely emptiness he must feel to observe his life like this. Carl will go home and try to make things right with his wife, but what will become of him? Nothing that won't involve a great deal of pain. And again, Mark. Single, and unable to approach friendship without the lenses of Carl to look at it through. Sad, lyrical, beautifully written. This story is a true gem. Thank you.

Thank you, Parker. Mark is sort of a mouthpiece for my own thoughts. Don't we all wish we could go back in time and warn earlier versions of ourselves about regret and missed opportunities? Thank you for your kind words and your help beta reading.

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Another powerful chapter that conveys a different time I remember well. I worked at a gay bar in Florida. In the 1980s in particular, there were lots of men in closets too small. They had beards who were none the wiser, at least at first. You have portrayed the pain and anguish which contorted their faces. This chapter reminds me of them and how miserable they were in the shadows aching with need. Great job!!!

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On 11/10/2015 06:28 AM, Cole Matthews said:

Another powerful chapter that conveys a different time I remember well. I worked at a gay bar in Florida. In the 1980s in particular, there were lots of men in closets too small. They had beards who were none the wiser, at least at first. You have portrayed the pain and anguish which contorted their faces. This chapter reminds me of them and how miserable they were in the shadows aching with need. Great job!!!

Thanks, Cole. I lived that life in the closet for a long time, and it was a prison. I eventually broke free and have never been happier. I'm glad the chapter seemed realistic to you.

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Another powerful chapter indeed. Carl must be torturing himself for leaving things like that. My heart goes for these two men.

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On 11/10/2015 02:44 PM, loveseeker said:

Another powerful chapter indeed. Carl must be torturing himself for leaving things like that. My heart goes for these two men.

Thanks for the comment - much appreciated.

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Aw these two ... make me sad. Life is so short to live someone else's version of life. Grab the one you love and go!

 

Great story, beautifully written

 

tim

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On 11/23/2015 01:56 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Aw these two ... make me sad. Life is so short to live someone else's version of life. Grab the one you love and go!

 

Great story, beautifully written

 

tim

Thanks, Tim - I appreciate the compliment.

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It's a well-told story, fully of emotion--and I'm surprised at how much I resent Carl! He's down, depressed; I understand why, but he races to Mark who's got his own issues to deal with, gets off with him...then is filled with guilt/remorse/whatever. Is Mark being used? I think it's telling that Mark is saying "we shouldn't be doing this, I shouldn't be doing this" and maybe feeling a little guilty when the sex is starting while Carl is going full steam ahead to (temporarily) satisfy his needs with no thought of the future. I obviously have some work to do on this!
BUT ... it should show what a great writing job you've done when you can pull those emotions from a reader like me and others here! Looking forward to the next chapter!

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On 01/29/2016 05:14 AM, Robert Rex said:

It's a well-told story, fully of emotion--and I'm surprised at how much I resent Carl! He's down, depressed; I understand why, but he races to Mark who's got his own issues to deal with, gets off with him...then is filled with guilt/remorse/whatever. Is Mark being used? I think it's telling that Mark is saying "we shouldn't be doing this, I shouldn't be doing this" and maybe feeling a little guilty when the sex is starting while Carl is going full steam ahead to (temporarily) satisfy his needs with no thought of the future. I obviously have some work to do on this!

BUT ... it should show what a great writing job you've done when you can pull those emotions from a reader like me and others here! Looking forward to the next chapter!

Thank you, Robert. I appreciate the comment.

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