Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 1

The Ryland Monument stood in the center of town the most phallic of symbols—two hundred seventeen feet tall, slender and straight up. It was built as a memorial to the nearly 100 people who lost their lives when a fire ravaged the town of Ryland, Massachusetts in the early 1900's.

Kinlin GrovĂ© and Atwood Ross had grown up with the monument as part of their everyday lives. When they got old enough to recognize its phallic glory, nothing could stop the plethora of penis jokes that came out of their mouths in reference to it. 

On this late afternoon in August, they had climbed to the top and hidden in a small storage closet waiting for the doors to close for the day. The Ryland Monument closed to all visitors at dusk. The sun was beginning to set and those who had accepted the challenge of climbing each stair to the top had finally begun to trickle downward.

Hiding inside the closet had proven to be more difficult than either of them had anticipated. They tried to whisper to each other, but just trying was enough to start the laughter. Like a mudslide, laughter was hard to contain once it had started. They were in such a cramped space that every movement or sound caused eye-popping looks of fear from each of them. The looks then started the laughter all over again. They had never been more relieved than when the lights of the observation platform had been clicked off. They opened the door and breathed freely without worrying about every noise they made.

Kinlin and Atwood had been best friends since they could remember. They were neighbors on Winthrop Street. Their parents were second generation Rylanders. That made them third generation inhabitants of the small Massachusetts town they called home. They had been a stones throw from each other their whole lives—across the street, three houses apart. 

They had attended everything from Bible school at the local church to high school together, with bar-b-ques and dances thrown in for a mix of food and color. They had taken their first drink on the same night in the old garage beside Kinlin’s parents house. They had double dated to the senior prom and bragged to each other about how far they each got with their respective dates. Kinlin had managed to snag his date’s panties while Atwood boasted of under-the-bra action.

Tonight was an important night for both of them. It was their last night in Ryland together before their lives changed. They were leaving for college the next day. It was the first time that the two friends would find themselves in different cities, and parts of the country, in 18 years of life. As a final hoorah they had decided to stow away in the top of the Ryland Monument and spend the night. It was risky, but they knew whether caught or not, it would make a good story to tell their kids one day.

They stood on the observation deck as the sun was setting over the water that bordered the south end of Ryland. The red streak reflected in the water was something they had each seen more times than they could count. It felt different tonight though. The thought of leaving had made it seem more important than ever—like they might never see it again. It was unspoken, but the body language in each of them as they refused to tear their eyes from the water spoke volumes about the pride they felt to be from Ryland and how much they would miss being there. Being guys, they didn’t often speak of their affection for each other either, but each in his heart knew he would miss his friend more than he thought possible.

“I’m going to really miss this place,” said Kinlin without breaking his gaze from the now blood-colored water in front of him.

“Me too,” responded Atwood in kind. “But we’ll always be able to come back home.”

“I know,” Kinlin shrugged. “It just won’t be the same. We won’t live here anymore. We’ll be visitors.”

“We’ll always be from here, Kinlin,” said Atwood. “Nobody can take that away from us.” He broke his gaze from the water to look at Kinlin. “Hell, maybe we’ll even move back here after college.”

“I doubt it,” responded Kinlin. “I want something bigger than Ryland. Don’t you?”

Atwood turned back to face the water. He turned his head from side to side, pausing left before turning it right. One could almost see the ends of town from the top of the tower.

“I think about it sometimes. I’m not going to make any plans right now though. I’m just going to see where life takes me.” Kinlin had turned to look at Atwood, who met his gaze and smiled.

Kinlin turned back to look at the last bit of the red ball of sun before it sank below the water. “I’m nervous about tomorrow.”

“I am too,” said Atwood, “but we don’t have to worry about tomorrow tonight.” He turned in the direction of the storage closet and went to get their duffle bags. 

He threw Kinlin’s at him then walked over to join him and put his own bag down. He unzipped it and pulled out a blanket and his pillow. He had a deck of playing cards, a book, and a bottle of wine. Thankfully his family had several corkscrews, so his taking one wouldn’t be missed.

Kinlin laughed when Atwood pulled out the bottle of wine. It was Chianti. Although they weren’t legally supposed to be drinking, their parents allowed them the occasional glass of wine at holiday parties and other gatherings that were supervised. Kinlin had taken a liking to the sour cherry and tobacco taste of Chianti. He had introduced Atwood to it and Atwood in turn had taken a liking to it as well. It was the most appropriate beverage for the two of them on this particular night.

With the cork strewn to the side and the blanket laid out between them they were sharing the bottle without glasses in the glow of pillar candles Kinlin had brought from home. The smell of vanilla and cinnamon filled the sea air as they played their third game of slapjack. As Atwood flipped over the Jack of Clubs it was the fifth time the two of them had slapped the Jack at the same time. Atwood’s hand was on the bottom. He won the pile. It seemed to him that Kinlin’s hand lingered on top of his a little longer than necessary, but he thought maybe the wine had slowed time and he wasn’t thinking clearly.

The air had certainly turned cooler as the breeze blew through the windowless openings of the monument’s observation deck. Up that high the wind off of the water made their blankets necessary. With the bottle of wine finished their bodies had the warmth of an alcohol induced buzz. They were groggy and tired. As much as they didn’t want to fall asleep they couldn’t resist the spell of the Chianti.

In the middle of the night Atwood awoke to the feeling of something touching his hand. As he pushed himself toward consciousness through the drowsiness of wine motivated sleep he realized that it was another hand touching his own. It didn’t feel random; it felt deliberate. He turned his head slightly and saw that Kinlin was spooning him. In his haze he thought Kinlin was probably cold and therefore using the heat of their bodies to stay warm. Then he realized that Kinlin’s eyes were open. Atwood fully turned his head and looked into Kinlin’s eyes. Kinlin kissed him—a small kiss—then pulled his face away, almost shocked at himself, gauging Atwood’s reaction. 

Atwood didn’t react in a way either good or bad. He didn’t move. There was no flinch. There was no recoil. He stayed still staring at Kinlin. Kinlin moved to kiss him again. Atwood moved his head back this time and stared into Kinlin’s eyes with confusion on his face. Kinlin smiled. Atwood wanted to ask what was going on, but couldn’t find the words. Kinlin moved closer. Atwood closed his eyes and felt Kinlin’s lips on his own. He felt Kinlin’s tongue parting his lips. He allowed it to happen. He was confused at his own enjoyment of the kiss. He mind was racing. He couldn’t believe it was happening. The hand that had been rubbing his own was now rubbing the front of his jeans in a stroking, up and down. Atwood felt himself growing beneath the stroke. Their kissing became deeper and more intense. Kinlin bit Atwood’s bottom lip as he began to pull out of the kiss, but without fully disconnecting he plunged his tongue back into Atwood’s waiting mouth. The probing hand was now inside Atwood’s jeans.

Kinlin rolled Atwood onto his back. Atwood not only felt Kinlin’s body on top of him, he felt Kinlin’s erection that was touching his own through the denim of their jeans.

Their tongues continued to probe each other’s mouths as their bodies began to thrust.

Atwood pulled away. He held Kinlin’s face in his hands. He looked into Kinlin’s eyes. Kinlin smiled at him again then leaned down and gave him a simple kiss.

“What are we doing?” Atwood asked.

“Making out,” responded Kinlin. “Are you okay with that?”

“Um…. I guess?” Atwood responded with the inflection of a question in his voice but the look of longing on his face.

“Then shut up and kiss me.”

Atwood let go with full abandon at that moment. He pulled Kinlin’s face to his and placed his mouth over Kinlin’s own. Suddenly all questions and fear had vanished. He was there, fully present, in the moment. Whether it was the wine or the cold that had started it, no one was stopping it.

Their hands were wandering over each other’s bodies. It was new territory for both of them. Kinlin had already had his hands down Atwood’s jeans, but touching wasn’t enough for Atwood. He wanted to see Kinlin’s cock. He wanted to see his own hand on it. He unbuttoned Kinlin’s jeans and began to unzip them. There was a moment’s hesitation in their kissing, but then the passion and power started anew and Kinlin moaned as Atwood set him free.

Their bodies were entwined in arms, blankets and jeans. There was hair pulling and neck biting. There was grasping and gasping. It was hot. Hot from the wine, hot from the body heat, hot from the situation. They were mad from lust and passion for each other. 

Atwood flipped the dynamic when he rolled them over finding himself on top of Kinlin. He looked him in the eyes as he pushed himself downward, kissing Kinlin’s chest then stomach, a happy trail pointing him toward what he was trembling to touch. Kinlin’s moan was more real and more intense now than from Atwood’s initial touch. 

As Atwood took Kinlin into his mouth, the moan was a call to wake for anyone within earshot; a horn sounding forth the arrival of ecstasy unlike anything felt before. It didn’t take long for Kinlin to release his burning desire. He pushed Atwood’s head away from his cock and took hold of it himself, his orgasm bursting intensely onto his stomach and chest. 

Atwood rubbed his hand in the remains on Kinlin’s stomach and then grabbed his own throbbing cock. He too was so turned on that it took no time for his seed to join that already discarded on Kinlin’s stomach.

Panting yet exuberant, Atwood collapsed onto Kinlin. He felt Kinlin’s arms enfold him. They began to kiss again. This time the kissing was more intimate and gentle. Kinlin’s hand caressed Atwood’s back. 

Atwood rolled off of Kinlin. They untangled the blankets. Without pulling up their jeans or replacing their shirts, they covered their bodies with the blankets. Atwood found himself in a tight, spooned embrace by Kinlin. He heard Kinlin’s breathing slow as he himself drifted off to sleep. 

The next morning Atwood woke to the cold emptiness of being alone. He rolled over to see Kinlin standing and peering out toward the water. Disappointment ran through his head as he saw that Kinlin had already gotten dressed. The memory of the previous night should have been filled with confusion, but it wasn’t. It made his heart race in a good way, an exciting way. Somewhere in the back of his mind he had hoped for a daytime glance at Kinlin without his jeans.

“Damn, I really need to piss,” Atwood said as he stood up and pulled up his underwear and jeans. Kinlin jumped as Atwood’s words had startled him.

“I used the Chianti bottle,” Kinlin said, without turning.

“Good idea. Thanks.”

Atwood relieved himself, the sound of liquid hitting liquid the only thing breaking the silence of the morning and the silence between them.

“It’s early. We should head down so we can get home.” Kinlin had waited to hear the sound of Atwood’s zipper before turning around to start gathering his things and packing them back into his duffle bag.

Atwood realized at that moment that they were not going talk about what they had done. He made a choice to act as casual as possible. Kinlin seemed tense. He felt certain they would talk about it when the time was right. He could wait. Patience didn’t come easy for him, but his friendship with Kinlin did.

They made a sweeping gaze around their makeshift camp to make sure they hadn’t forgotten anything. Atwood tried to catch Kinlin’s eye, but Kinlin seemed determined to avoid just such a moment. With duffels packed and zipped they made their way down the many flights of stairs to the bottom of the monument. No one spoke. Down flight after flight Atwood fought the words trying to burst forth from his mouth.

Ryland was such a small town that there wasn’t much crime and therefore no need of an alarm system on the doors to the monument. They were locked from the outside, but had breakaway bars on the inside. 

Kinlin slowly opened the door and did a quick search for the guard who patrolled the grounds. No one was in sight. They exited the monument, throwing the urine filled Chianti bottle into the nearest trashcan, then quickly made their way to Bradford Street. 

They walked home in near silence. Atwood wanted nothing more than to talk to Kinlin about last night—or anything. 

Kinlin just wanted to get home and shower. He couldn’t process his thoughts. He focused on the fact that he was leaving later that day. He would process then.

As they reached Winthrop Street, Atwood’s house was the one they came to first. He turned to face Kinlin who was now looking him dead in the eyes. Atwood sensed that he wanted to say something, but didn’t push him. Kinlin smiled. Atwood made to hug him and Kinlin welcomed the embrace. It lasted longer than one might think two 18-year old men hugging would last. It was Atwood who broke the embrace. He smiled at Kinlin then watched him as he walked toward his house.

“Hey!” said Atwood. Kinlin stopped and turned back toward him. “Enjoy Delaware.”

“Enjoy California,” said Kinlin, turning to continue his walk home.

“See you at Christmas,” said Atwood, unable to stop watching before Kinlin walked through his front door.

Kinlin waved then shut the door.

©2011 Michael Rohrer

Friday, September 23, 2011

Liberation on Shankpainter

As I stood on the deck overlooking the street in front of me I realized that I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time. I was free to do anything I wanted to do. I made a drink at 10am or noon or 5pm; whatever time I wanted. There was no one to judge me but me and I was too lubricated to care. I could smoke as many cigarettes as I wanted and I did. It didn’t matter what anyone said or thought. I made the choice to do as I pleased and lived my life; that’s the simple truth.

There comes a time when one has to stop worrying about what people think. What your friends and family want for you has to take a back seat to what you want even if what you want might be a mistake. You have to make choices. Sometimes what is thought to be a mistake doesn’t end up being one. But what if it does? I hate failure, but I hear we only learn from our mistakes. Maybe I should start looking at mistakes as growth opportunities instead of failures.

There comes a time when one has to stop carrying what their family members think. Life is too short and your life has to be your own. I’m just now learning that. In fact, I’m completely frustrated by it. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time needing the approval of my family and friends and being a people pleaser. I should be paying more attention to what I want and pleasing myself. I’m the only one who can truly benefit anyway.

I can’t live my life for my family. I can’t live my life for my friends. I have to live my life for me. It’s my life anyway, right? If that is the truth then other people’s judgments, questions and concerns have to be taken with a grain of salt. What other people feel is exactly that: what they feel. That doesn’t mean that I have to have those feelings. Sometimes we have to hear and then discard what others opinionate to us.

Life has to be lived. Risk is scary, but without risk I never would have moved to New York or quit my longest held job to get a better one. Risk leads to progress. I don’t take many risks, but in hindsight it is only by taking risks that I have made progress in my life.

Living my life for me, taking new risks….in progress.