June 30th, 1972
             The Honda sat parked on the sand- covered asphalt that was once a part of some sort of military installation. Remnants of the shoreline outpost were scattered all about the area in an almost ghost town- like fashion. A partial foundation here, the remainder of a road there, all ravaged and weathered by the vicissitudes of time. Many shadows, that hinted at the terrible struggle that had once engulfed an entire world.

                     It was fitting, in a way, that the two boys would spend their last night together in this eerie place, as the gentle waves washed ashore and the angels scattered the stars like tiny candles in the clear, darkened sky. One war had immolated the innocence of an entire generation as the camps were liberated, and now another was tearing at the fabric of the society that had risen from those ashes… Hope had turned to despair as thousands of boys returned in flag- draped coffins, and now the call to arms had found its way into the heart of another proud youngster, in the tearful promise he had made some three years before.

                      The two lovers lie naked atop the soft blue and gold blanket, their limbs intertwined in a desperate attempt to feel every last bit of the smooth flesh and taut, teenaged muscles. They caressed each other and tasted the salt from the gentle mist that had settled  in the most intimate places… Hands trembled and tongues tenderly  probed, in a primitive dance that both knew so well… They melted, one into the other, amid gasps of pleasure and tearful yearnings… Insatiable. Desperate. Terrifying loneliness, mixed with reassuring, deep thrusts and hot breath. Moments of intense pleasure that defy description, but are the edge of the love that would never be forgotten.

                  Even after one love is lost and a broken heart finally heals enough to accept another…
           It was past midnight when the two lovers finally exhausted themselves and lay wrapped in the disheveled  blanket, amongst the slender grasses of the refuge. The air had cooled and Matty opened his eyes and raised his face from Bobby’s naked chest and tenderly kissed the smooth skin… Bobby sighed and grinned contentedly, until the thin, blond boy’s lips reached his rose colored nipple and playfully bit down…

               “OW!! What… hey! You hungry or somethin’?” the 18 year old boy queried.

                  “I just figured it was the best way to wake you up.” Matty declared. “Now that you’re completely drained, I thought maybe we could make a little fire and toast some of those marshmallows we bought. ‘Sides, I’m getting a little chewed up in the last couple of minutes! I don’t know what the heck is eatin’ on me, but my legs are starting to feel itchy and kind of burny… “

             “Sand fleas… OW!  Damn! Why did you have to tell me that? I was fine, until you started talking about it!”

              Matty laughed and sat up, scratching at his legs… “Fleas? Cripes!  I thought it was supposed to be romantic, sleeping on a beach, under the stars.. OW! Shit! Another one! What the…”

             Bobby yelped and jumped to his feet, his pale buttocks gleaming in the star light. “Let’s hit the water! We’ll drown ’em!”

             The tall, blonde boy scrambled to his feet, and shook the sand off the large blanket. “What about sharks? I mean, I can handle the skeeters and these… sand fleas, or whatever they are, but they can’t bite my leg off or turn me into a eunuch!”

           “A whatick?”

             Matty rolled his eyes… “A eunuch… a guy that has his balls and dick cut off!”

            “Huh?  Where the hell  do you hear that stuff?”

            “In books… You know- the things with pages you turn after you read them…”

           “Very funny!  So, there are guys who get their dicks cut off? Come on!”

          “Never said that… They were cut off by people who wanted to use them as slaves. When they were just little kids… sickening, really. Hey! How did we end up talking about this stuff? Man! I just don’t want to get eaten by sharks!”

            “You read too many books! Maybe you’d be better off not knowing all the crap you do! Like me! I know enough to get by, and I’m not worried about losing my dick to some freakin’ shark, or something! Heck, if a shark ever tried to bite off my pecker, he’d choke to death and that’d be that!”

              Matty rolled his eyes again.”If he didn’t drown in the pile of horse manure, first…”

               “Come on, chickenshit! Are you coming with me or not?” Bobby taunted.

               “You didn’t just say what I think you did?”  Matty asked sarcastically.”Did you just call me chicken? Like the time I dove off the high dive because you dared me, but then you wouldn’t do the same thing and back up your big mouth?”

              Bobby  laughed… “Kind of remember someone asking me if everyone was jumping off a cliff, did that mean I should too?”

              “God… You are SO full of it sometimes, you maniac! You’re worse than my brother when it comes to running your mouth, too! All bark and no bite…”

             “So, you’re not coming then?”

             “Never said that…” Matty studied Bobby in the dim light and then glanced towards the beach.

             And with that look, both boys knew… The race was on! And as the two, naked teenagers raced towards the churning waves of the Ninigret Sanctuary, giggling and wrestling like little kids, everything was right with the world… It was the other dance that only lovers know, when time stands still and the world all around can watch but never understand… The soft edges of the memories that sustain young lovers through their days apart.

                Matty would remember this night many times in the next years as he toiled in the system that would try to change him in impossible ways. From the loving boy who had survived so much, into a callous and dishonest shell of conformity.

                 The war that had divided a nation would now takes it toll as the gears began to mesh and time and loneliness tested the bond between the  two lovers .

            It started that dark night, as the sound of the crashing waves drowned out the joyful shouts and the distant shadows disgorged the glowing headlights of the little German car… The boys were no longer alone.

October, 1972

           Matty awoke with a start and winced. He turned onto his side and felt the knot in his upper back slowly lose its grip. It was dark, and momentarily, he was halfway between sleep and waking. His heart raced as he sought  some sense of where he was.

           Slowly, it became clear. The soft snores in the darkened room confirmed it. Then, the rustling of bedclothes and the creaking springs of the nearby bunk cleared the fog.

            He raised his head off the cool pillow and peered into the shadows. As his eyes focused, the sick feeling in his gut returned. It had all been a dream. The soft- edged memories of a young boy’s rambling summer on the sun drenched farm… The dragonfly in the jar and the sparkling waters of the deep lake…

               He steeled himself. His new reality was quite different. And, it was starting to tear at him, in the deepest part of his being.

              The tall cadet inhaled slowly and turned onto his back. He would not sleep again this night, even though sleep was his only ally. The thoughts now spinning through his mind would see to that….

               In only three days, the first ‘social event’ of the fourth class year was on the dockets. For most cadets, a welcome respite from the constant stress of life on the bottom of the feeding chain. An opportunity to travel outside the confines of the Academy walls to a college in the northern town of Greely. A town that owed its existence to the thousands of cattle that milled around in the large steel pens in its outskirts, being fed to maximize their market potential.

 
 

             But the cattle were not the attraction in the little ‘cow town’. At least to most of the love- starved cadets. No, the ‘cattle call’, was actually a mixer… A tradition of many years, organized by the academy command, as a ‘reward’ for the testosterone- driven young soldiers.– A chance to blow off steam. Hook up with a cute girl. Dance. Mingle. Drink. And, then…well… {wink, wink}, whatever happened, happened. Those steamy moments would be the fodder of plenty of banter in the coming months, as they were bragged about by the puff -chested boys in blue with the new shoulder boards.

            Attendance was mandatory. As if choice would have mattered….Matty stared at the shadow- mottled ceiling and tried to chase away the sickening feeling deep inside. He had purposely avoided this problem for the last month, since he became aware of it. He was a homosexual boy in a heterosexual world. This he understood. But, he had not pictured this tripwire. And, it twisted inside him in the most unbearable way.

            He felt like a caged animal. Perhaps a circus lion, perched on a stool, while the ringmaster wielded the long whip, threatening him unless he performed. All eyes were on him as he crossed the threshold of this strange world and betrayed the real love, hidden deep inside.

            He thought of Bobby, and started to cry. He quickly covered his head with his pillow. What had he done in coming to this place?

             All he had wanted to do was serve. To make Mike proud. But now, life had once again become about survival, and in a cruel twist, the one person who had become the young cadet’s most trusted wingman, was almost 1900 miles away, wishing he had never gone. He knew it in his heart, every time he thought of Bobby. It was moments like this that tested him like no others. It would be messy, and impossible to explain, but if he just quit, he could leave this place of torment, where the days until graduation were counted in every cadet’s room as though the only prison to escape was in these first four years.

            The sadness and despair in this place was unrelenting at times… Just last week, a second class cadet had done the unthinkable. Matty shuddered at the thought. He hadn’t known that it was possible to do such damage with only a blank cartridge fired from an M-1 carbine. Just the notion that others had been feeling so hopeless, gave the blue- eyed teenager pause for thought.

            Had the cadet just reached the breaking point for no particular reason?  Matty knew better. There was a LOT going on here in the shadows that really needed to be addressed, but probably never would be. What if, by some unnerving chance, the second classman had realized that he could no longer honorably serve? What if he was hiding the same feelings and praying that noone would discover his prevarication?

          The thoughts just kept churning and churning in the 18 year old cadet’s head. The more he allowed, the more that clawed at him from the depths. He struggled to find his strength and to focus on something positive. Christmas leave. Bobby. The flight home, to Connecticut. Far from this rancid place.

           Matty rolled over and closed his eyes again. He thought back to the last time he felt his lover’s soft caress… He was back again, in the surf of the Ninigret  Sanctuary. He let the feeling wash over him and felt his eyelids twitch. His hands relaxed and he realized that he had been grinding his teeth again. His jaw hurt as he desperately fought the morning light for a moment of sleep. His only escape.

            Both boys noticed the car at the same time. It was traveling at a slow speed on the oceanside road, it’s dull headlights cutting a weak path through the salty mist. Matty rested his chin on Bobby’s wet hair and tapped the boy on the arm as Bobby struggled through the surf with his piggy -back passenger.

            “Hey… Do you think that’s the kid from the 7 eleven?”

            “Gotta be… well, I guess so, anyways,” Bobby mused. “Do you think we have time to get to our clothes?”

           “I doubt it… By the time we get to the dunes, we’ll be in the headlights. Let’s just hunker down here, until we can figure out if it’s him…”

         “Yeah, OK… He can’t see us, but he’ll probably see the bike. Maybe once he goes by, we can cut across behind him and circle around to our clothes…”

          Matty laughed. “If it’s him, I’m not gonna lose sleep over it! I’m not ashamed of my body. If he sees us, he sees us. Kind of wish we didn’t tell him  we were camping here, tho …”

         “Nice time to think of that, Koles… You never could say no.”

          Matty grimaced. He knew that Bobby was right. But, what was done was done, so he reached down and slapped Bobby on his bare behind and commanded, “Giddy up! To deeper water, my stallion!”

          That had an unanticipated consequence tho, as the shorter boy turned violently like a corkscrew until both ‘horse’ and ‘rider’ fell sideways into the cold water , as the Volkswagen made it’s way slowly down the sand- washed macadam, unwittingly passing the floundering lovers in the darkened surf. Both boys came sputtering to the surface, trying to find footing on the loose stone bottom before the next wave toppled them, laughing and tussling for position as they had done most of their childhoods.

        This time, the ‘dance’ gave away their location, as the brake lights of the small foreign car  suddenly shone bright, only 5o feet away.

        The car stopped and the driver’s door opened. Joey stepped out and looked across the top of the ‘Beetle’ and peered into the darkness. “Is that you guys?” he shouted. “Matty? Bobby?”

       Matty sighed. “Well… Now you’ve done it…”

        Bobby stood up and tugged at his privates. “Yeah… well, at least nobody made me into a ‘whatick’ yet…”

      “Eunuch.” The tall boy muttered.

Continued in Part 7…

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