Roommate and Cotton Gins"
morning I awoke to the smell of bacon. Kelly was in the kitchen fixing breakfast
which surprised me no end. I thought he would have been incapable of boiling
water. He hadn't noticed me and I observed him for several minutes. Did I love
this man? No way I could convince myself I did. I liked him very much, I enjoyed
sex with him and at the same time, realized he wanted more, more than I was
willing to give at the moment. Maybe I would grow to love him. Maybe I could
give myself to him freely, eventually. The question was whether or not I had the
right to ask him to accept me as I was and wait for possible change. That, I
reminded myself, was his decision to make.
"He finally turned and saw me, and a huge smile crossed his face. 'Morning, babe. Sleep well?'
"'Very well, thank you. Do I have time to shower and shave?'
"'No, it's ready now.'
"As we ate, I told Kelly my thoughts and said, 'It's your decision. If you can accept me as I am, knowing I may never change, then I'll be happy to live with you. There's only one condition. I'm an old-fashioned guy. Maybe it's from my Mormon background, maybe it's because I know what happens otherwise, I don't know, but if we live together and as long as we live together, we don't play around.'
"'No problem,' Kelly said. 'You make me happy.' He grabbed me and kissed me.
"I moved in that day and we were truly happy, at least I thought we were. Three months after I moved in, we were in bed when I had a sudden urge to go down on Kelly and did. After that, I was perfectly willing for him to go down on me. Sex was great even though I knew that sooner or later the question of fucking and being fucked would come up. I decided I'd deal with that when it did. I seldom thought of Alex, but when I did, I realized I was still deeply in love with the guy and probably always would be.
"In early April, Jack Kennedy called me and said he had heard of a black Mustang mare for sale in Nevada and wanted to know if I was interested. I asked if it was Princess and he said it was. I told him to buy her regardless of how much she cost. Turns out, he picked her up for a thousand because she had not been properly cared for and showed it, especially in the presence of magnificent horses. I was leaving for Taiwan the day after he called to tell me he had purchased the horse, and would be gone at least two weeks. Turns out, I didn't return until near the end of May.
"I had decided it was time I at least found out about being fucked and had been working on my ass, getting it ready. The second night I was home, I handed Kelly a bottle of lube and a condom and said, 'It's time I tried it.' Kelly was a perfect example of patience and gentleness. It still hurt, but then there was pleasure. It was not my favorite way of having sex, but it gave Kelly a lot of pleasure, that was obvious.
"The next night, Kelly said, 'Turn about's fair play,' and handed me the lube and a condom. Since it was my first time, I'm sure I was awkward and all, but Kelly's moans and groans told me even awkward was good for him. As time passed, we pretty much settled into his role being bottom and me top. That, however, was the only time I was the dominant one. Increasingly I felt dominated by Kelly both at home and work. My irritation was growing.
"We had been living together for over a year when he decided we should go to Brazil for our vacation -- we had agreed we'd have two weeks together and two weeks separate. 'Kelly, I have spent a good part of the year in Brazil. Brazil is not a vacation land for me.' As a matter of fact, my spending so much time there was another example of his dominating me. More and more, I was the one who traveled and he stayed home. We argued, but ended up in Brazil.
"I took a week in early October and went to see Prince and Princess. Jack had worked hard with her and she was the beautiful horse I had known. 'I'm sure glad you didn't see her when I bought her,' he said. 'I wasn't sure she would make it.'
"'I'm still trying to find a way to have them near me, but I know they won't get the care they get here.'
"I never wanted to set foot in Wellsville again, but thought I should stop by and see Winston, but finally just couldn't do it.
"I drove to Salt Lake and took a flight to Denver and spent the rest of the week in Boulder. Mavis was overjoyed that Princess had been rescued and Gertrude hoped it would help locate Alex. It didn't.
"Christmas came and went. I spent Christmas day with the Blankenships. Kelly stayed over when I returned to our place. I looked back over the year and a half, more or less, we had lived together and what I saw were two friends who liked to have sex together, but that was all. I didn't love him and he didn't love me. In fact, I wasn't too sure he liked me anymore.
"I flew to Taiwan the first of September and was just coming back from a later dinner with people from the Taiwan facility and looking forward to a hot shower and bed on September 11, 2001 when the woman at the desk shouted at me and pointed to the burning Twin Towers. The attacks seemed more like a movie than reality at first. I went up to my room and stayed glued to the TV and CNN-Asia. It struck me as I watched how much pain and suffering was being caused by religious fundamentalism at that very moment. This was not ancient history, this was now. Once you divide the world into those who believe they have the absolute truth and all who do not accept their truth are the enemy, things like 9/11 happen. I didn't fail to see the connection between the fundamentalism which drove those nineteen to kill thousands and the fundamentalism which has made my life miserable and which tore the love of my life from me. Sure, we were only two, but we were a microcosm of what fundamentalism -- regardless of its other name -- can do, can destroy.
"As the US started its war on terrorism and eventually wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blankenship Ltd prospered. My office became a seat in first class and I was spending as much time in the air as on the ground. Even Kelly had to do some traveling these days. We saw almost as much of each other in airports as we did at home. It seemed someone was planning it so that when I was home he was traveling. In December, I suggested we take a week off and get away from the rat race and he agreed. This time even he said, 'Anywhere except Brazil!' I finally booked us into a gay resort on St. Croix for the last week of February. We were all packed and ready to go when the Old Man called and said one of us had to be in Puerto Rico. A defense plant there was having major trouble with a couple of our controls. I suggested we both fly in, get the problem solved and then hop a charter over to St. Croix. Kelly said it was foolish for both of us to spend time in Puerto Rico and said he'd go on to St. Croix and wait for me there. I was pissed, but he was my boss and the Old Man's son.
"It didn't take long to discover the problem with the controls had nothing to do with the control or the program. It was a translation problem. The controls were from our Brazilian facility and the instructions had, obviously, been written in Spanish by a Portuguese-speaking person. The English translation was done from the Portuguese Spanish and was absolutely hopeless. I managed to correct both translations and hopped a plane for St. Croix. I hadn't bothered to call Kelly because I would be there only three hours after he landed and he had all the luggage to handle while all I had to do was hop off the plane and head for the resort.
"When I walked into our cottage, Kelly and a young guy were naked, leaning over a table using a rolled-up bill to snort a power up their nose. I didn't know what to do. I felt as though someone had kicked me in the gut. I turned and walked away, walking along the beach for half an hour, trying to pull myself together. I finally decided I'd go back to the cottage and confront Kelly and go from there.
"This time as I approached I heard what had to be someone being fucked and fucked hard. From the patio, I saw Kelly, his ass being pounded by the young man I had seen earlier. I thought the bed would fall apart any minute as it was rocking like a boat in a storm from the ass pounding Kelly was receiving. Before I could decide what to do, the phone started ringing. I didn't expect the two to stop, and they didn't. The phone continued to ring. I realized that the front desk would be handling the call and the person calling had refused to leave a voice mail. I finally walked to the lobby and went to the front desk. 'You had a call for Cottage Six?' I asked, knowing she had. 'Sir, he's still on the line. He refused the voice mail. I had strict instructions not to disturb anyone in Cottage Six, but the man said he was one of our guests' father and this was an emergency. I was trying to decide whether or not to send someone to the cottage.'
"'I'll take the call.' I picked up the phone and said 'Josh here.'
"'Josh where in hell is my son and what the fuck is he doing.'
"As I said, I was pissed. I had been left to take care of Puerto Rico, found my roommate/fuck-buddy snorting coke and then being fucked, contrary to our agreement. 'Mr. Blankenship, you are half right. He is being fucked by someone he picked up since he got here. I saw him when I flew in from Puerto Rico with the same kid, snorting coke. I guess he couldn't stop being fucked or was too high to answer the phone. Anything I can do?'
"'Yes there is. You can tell him to get the cock out of his ass, get his clothes on and be on the next plane out. You can also tell him a drug test awaits his arrival in San Francisco. You stay on if you like. I'll take the week from Kelly's vacation time.'
"I hung up the phone, walked back to the cottage. I looked in and saw the young man was sucking Kelly's cock, his own soft, I supposed from having dumped a load in Kelly's ass. I hope he wore a condom. 'Get off his cock. The party's over.' Both jumped half out of the bed. 'Kelly, that was your dad on the phone. His exact words were, "You can tell him to get the cock out of his ass, get his clothes on and be on the next plane out. You can also tell him a drug test awaits his arrival in San Francisco.'
"'Where the hell did you come from?' Kelly asked. 'You're supposed to be in Puerto Rico. What the fuck did you tell the Old Man?' Kelly was sitting in the middle of the bed, naked, his cock the size of a ten-year-old's.
"'No, I was supposed to be here. I had to make a little stop over in Puerto Rico and fixed a problem in a couple hours. I told the Old Man what he asked for when he asked where you were and what you were doing. When I came by the first time you and Mr. Long Dong here were snorting coke. When I finally cooled off, I came back to see your legs in the air and Mr. Long Dong pounding your ass. Now get your ass out of bed and get some clothes on. I have a plane standing by to get you out of here and to San Francisco and, no, I'm not going. I'll be back in a week if you want to talk.'
"When I got back, Kelly was living at home so the apartment was mine. I made no effort to contact him and apparently he had made a decision not to contact me. I was angry, but not broken up over the situation. I liked the guy and the sex was good, but I wasn't in love with him. I did feel betrayed, but then I had been let down by people before.
"I learned later the emergency which had called Kelly home was a stroke his mother had. For some reason that was kept secret or at least not talked about.
"In mid-April, Kelly appeared at my office door with a sheepish grin on his face and asked, 'May I come in?'
"'Sure,' I replied, 'have a seat.' I came from behind my desk and took a chair facing Kelly.
"'Josh, I can never tell you how sorry I am for what happened on St. Croix or the way I treated you for several months before. I'd ask you to forgive me if I thought you could. Intellectually, I understand why I did what I did but, emotionally, I have had a hard time facing it. Will you hear me out and then, if you can and want to, we can talk.'
"'I'll give you a hearing. That's all I promise.'
"'That's more than I deserve,' he replied. He then told me how he had always felt powerless, dominated by his father, whom he loved very much, but also feared. As a result, it seems anytime he could, he'd dominate others, especially those he saw as superior to himself. 'And you are,' he said, 'You're smarter, you know more, you are a lot more mature. The other side of that is that I like to be dominated. To tell the honest truth, I really don't like to be a top. I want and love being a bottom, of having someone else in control. As to the coke, I was wound up so tight I thought I'd explode if I didn't find something to take the edge off. That's it. That's all I have to say for myself except I'd like another chance.'
"'I'll have to think about it, Kelly. If there is to be a second chance, it means we have to have more time together and I don't know how that can happen.'
"'We're not indispensable, Josh. If we are, the company's doomed anyway. I'll make it happen.'
"'Give me a week,' I said. 'Maybe less, but give me a week.'
"'Done!' He stood, walked toward me and asked, 'Can we seal it with a kiss?'
"I grinned and said, 'Afraid not. The week's just started.'
"I don't know where or how he found them, but Kelly hired two engineers that week, one fluent in Chinese, the other in Brazilian Portuguese. When he told me about it, he said, 'They understand the language, both the specific language and engineer talk. Surely they can get us enough information for us to solve a problem from here and they can implement there. No or little travel for us, at least outside the US.'
"We had lunch together most days and before the week was up, I told Kelly he had a second chance after he brought me a negative HIV/AIDS test. Some of us find it hard to learn lessons. I certainly did.
"Kelly moved back in and any time he started dominating me, caught himself. The same was true at the office, not just with me, but with the whole staff. The two engineers he hired were pretty good, certainly not the top of their class, but good. We still had to travel, but maybe once a month. Unfortunately, in order to get things done quickly, Kelly did all the traveling to Brazil and I handled Taiwan. Still, we were together at least three weeks out of the month. When we were not traveling, we were together. For the first time, we had a circle of friends, most of which had been his friends before I met him, with whom we had dinner, went dancing, took in shows.
"The company owned a small plane which was seldom used these days and was more or less at our disposal on weekends. It could carry three passengers and the pilot. One evening Kelly was complaining because Louis and Bruce, two of our friends, were unable to fly with us to Tahoe for the weekend.
"'So why don't you get your license?'
"'Tried. I just don't have what it takes.'
"The next week I was thinking how nice it would be to be able to go with another couple to some events. I picked up my phone, made an appointment for the required medical examination and then arranged for lessons. Additionally, I checked into video training programs and simulators. I was going to get my pilot's certification and as quickly as possible. I found a retired instructor, Walt Reel, who was getting pretty bored since he didn't have a plane or money to rent one and hired him as a pilot for Blankenship Ltd -- with the Old Man's approval. I no longer drove or took a commercial flight when I had to go out into the field unless it was east of the Mississippi. I was surprised that my travel time didn't increase. Sure, the small plane was slow, but with the change in airport security, I could be in the air an hour or more before the commercial flight took off.
"In no time I had my hours with an instructor in, and had passed the written examination with flying colors and was ready for my cross-country solo. The week I had planned to take as vacation and do the flight, I ended up in Taiwan. I had started lessons in April and was finally able to get the solo done and got my certification in early July. Walt stayed on and always flew with me -- as pilot or co-pilot -- when I would have been by myself. The Old Man insisted on it.
"Looking back, I see that things started turning bad again as early as July, but that's only looking back. Beginning in July it seemed I was back on the road a lot. Kelly was as well. Of course, the fact that Blankenship Ltd was growing faster than it should have been with our resources explained part of that. Kelly began his domineering shit again at the office and when I called him on it a few times, he said it was the stress and apologized -- to me, not the staff person he had been shitty to. I noticed he was pretty irritable at home and had a tendency to fly off the handle often. I suggested he see a doctor and maybe a counselor and he agreed but, to my knowledge, he never did.
"I was surprised when, the first of October, I got a call from the Old Man. He thought I was in town while, in fact, I was in the middle of nowhere Alabama working at getting a new control for a cotton gin debugged. I had to yell I would call him back so I could go outside where I could hear. The noise in the gin was loud. Outside, I called him back and when he asked, 'What the hell was all that noise I heard? What's going on in your office?'
"'I suppose the usual in my office, but I'm not there. I'm in the middle of nowhere in south Alabama debugging a new control for a cotton gin.'
"'What the hell you doing there? I thought we hired engineers to do the field work. According to the schedule on my desk, you are in your office.'
"'The memo I received just before I left work yesterday told me to get my hot ass to Alabama and unfuck a fucked-up cotton gin, whatever the hell that is, to quote it exactly.'
"'The hot ass you sleep with.'
"'That's going to look damn good in the company archives,' the Old Man said and he didn't laugh. 'Well, since you're there, finish the job. I suppose you had to drive a couple hundred miles from the airport.'
"'Actually, I left SFO at midnight, arrived in Montgomery at eleven this morning. Checked on a plane to fly down and was told there was no landing strip near where I needed to be. However, I was told, 'Old Billy Bob will be flying a crop duster in that direction in a few minutes. He might take you.' He said he would and could set me down on top of the gin if I wanted and he could have. We flew cotton top high for an hour and he set me down in the pasture behind the gin. Man, that was an adventure. Anyway, I should be finished here in a couple hours max. My crop duster is willing to fly me to Montgomery for a nominal fee -- what he would charge for the same time crop dusting.'
"'Can you be back and in my office tomorrow morning?'
"'It will be difficult. I have a couple hours more to do here. It's three now, so it will be five or so before I finish.'
"'Let me see what I can do. I'll call you back, say, in two hours or you can call me if you finish.'
"I had just finished when he called at five and he said he had arranged for a chopper to pick me up. I was to pay the crop duster anyway. 'How soon can you be in my office tomorrow morning?'
"'Will depend on what flights have been arranged.'
"'When the chopper reaches Montgomery, there will be a chartered jet waiting. You should be back in six to eight hours after you take off.'
"'It's two your time now. I won't be able to take off before three-thirty or four I'll land about midnight San Francisco time. I got no sleep last night and it has been a hot, hard day. I'll try to make it by ten, but that's not a promise.'
"'Just get here as quickly as you can.'
"I wondered what the urgency was when I heard the chopper as I hung up the phone. I handed the gin owner an envelope with cash in it for the crop duster, climbed aboard the chopper and was taking off in the jet heading west by six-thirty.
"I had just settled in a recliner and closed my eyes when a voice asked, 'Would the gentleman like a glass of nice red and a snack?' I opened by eyes to see Walt holding a tray with two glasses and a plate of sliced meat, cheese and crackers. As I brought my recliner into 'the upright and locked position,' Walt pulled a fold-down table in front of me, placed the tray on it and sat in the chair across from me. 'The Old Man seemed in a hell of a hurry when he called and asked if I would fly out with the jet to pick you up. Also really pissed off.'
"'Come to think of it, he seemed pretty pissed when he called me and discovered I was in Alabama instead of my office. Who knows how the wires got crossed up?' Walt raised an eyebrow at me, but said nothing.
"After we finished our second glass of wine and I had eaten all I wanted, Walt put the table up and I once again tilted the recliner to its near horizontal position and was asleep in seconds. Half an hour later, the plane did one of those sudden drops and woke me. I should have fallen asleep again immediately, but my mind kicked in gear and I couldn't get it turned off. I finally dozed off again an hour before we landed. I grabbed my laptop and briefcase as soon as we touched down and Walt guided me -- I was still half asleep -- to the waiting car. When I reached my place, I staggered upstairs and fell in bed as soon as I could get undressed, totally exhausted."
The Fine Print
One of the things that keeps an author looking good are editors. Two from opposite sides of the world worked on Sentinel Mountain.
Jesse from coastal North Carolina (a visit with Jesse inspired the setting for The Saga of the Elizabethton Tarheels) got first crack at Sentinel Mountain and paid special attention to my haphazard use of commas.
Scott from Australia has been editing since second or third chapter of A Special Place. Any polish that Sentinel Mountain has owes much to Scott who managed to edit the manuscript in spite of loss of a job--which he loved, paid the bills and gave him time to work for free--floods and typhoons. The mistakes are mine.
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