Catharsis and Grace
This is a true story, well more of a recounting, pieced together through memories re-found. Leave comments, or don’t, I doubt I’ll read them, this is just a way for me to get it out and let it be. If it sounds familiar that’s because I uploaded an earlier version first, this is the edit.
1974 was a strange place in time to be alive.
Suburban sprawls were shaping the landscape, and shopping malls were encroaching on whatever lands they could claim.
Having moved to this place when I was five and leaving all I knew from my Brooklyn life behind, friends, family just blocks away, a corner store that sold gummies by the pound, I was naive, shy, alone and unsure.
But this is not about that, it’s about events in that time of my young life and a thirteen year old girl, that I met that very same summer, who would become a part of me forever. A being who taught me, through the years, how to be and how to live and how to find my compass and fight for what was worth fighting for.
It was funny, that I was looked at as the new kid in the neighborhood, considering my family owned the land and built those abodes years before anyone of theirs were even constructed. I had spent many weekends each summer staying in ‘the country’ watching as here and there their houses popped up.
The school, I’d attend, was a half mile up the hill from my house. It wasn’t overly steep but man how I hated that walk after a while. The winter slosh and salt, the potholes, the late May/June heat that rose off it and clung to your skin and the brothers, who had to show off their superiority by chasing, intimidating or beating on kids half their age and a third their size. I hate that street to this day.
I was last picked for baseball, basketball, football and most other sports, purely because of my size. If I wanted to play hockey, with the kids on the lake, I had to play goal. They’d tape the Sunday times to my shins, hand me a first baseman’s mitt, a catchers chest protector, a catchers mask and a two by six with straps for a blocker, then stand me in front of a chicken wire cage with any shitty stick they could scrounge. I learned to love the position, even though many a night I went home black and blued and sore. Mostly though, I would spend time alone, fishing, off the shore or in an old wooden rowboat, or walking through the woods, pretending to hunt and track, trekking the swampy areas or just watching the big kids ride their dirt bikes up jumps and race each other around the horse trail, waiting to be called for supper.
I had gone for a walk, exploring a different part of the woods, got sucked in by a bog, almost losing a sneaker, and finally crawling out with rich, black, muck clinging to my clothes from my chest down into my socks and pro-keds. Following the sounds of laughter I made my way through some briar and that’s when I saw the rickety ‘fort’.
I asked what they were doing. “Sex education,” I think one said. They asked me to join them, so my naive little self did.
Pages were turned, fingers were pointed and the, non scientific, more vulgar names of the various body parts were thrown about. These weren’t the naked girls I had spied once in one of my dads Playboys, or the Sears catalogue underwear section, these were Swank, Hustler, and Private girls, and some guys, in various stages of fucking. The stash of magazines, hidden in a plastic shelled suitcase, had titles like Back Door Betty, Cum Dump, Stag Party Whore, Anal Lolitas 39, well you get the idea.
I listened while they explained the action, shown in those images, to me. They taught me about masturbation and told me to join them for practice. After a little prodding they had me as naked as they were and I got hard for the first time as I followed their motions, stroking my immature penis up and down, just like the big guys.
“Sit down on this towel with your legs closed and tight.”
”Now take your peepee and push it down between your legs.” he encouraged.
“That’s what a girls pussy looks like,” he said, “before they get hair there, take your shirt off and lie back so you don’t get dirty.” “That looks just like Deb’s,” the other brother remarked. “Before she got the boobs,” the first one chuckled. Deb was either their sister or another girl from up the road, but she was usually referred to as Debbie.
“We come back here all the time, if you want to play some more.” I heard one say, as they turned to walk back to their house.
I felt, nothing. I didn’t feel dirty, or aroused, used or excited, I just felt nothing, except maybe curious. So I lay there, under the reddening sky, naked, enjoying the little bit of a breeze that signaled the beginning of the end of those almost fall days. After a while I looked through some of the magazines. One had two guys on opposing sides of a girl, one in her mouth, the other in her ass, both with faces that suggested hurting her rather than pleasing her. I put it back in the case. Then as I shuffled through the collection I stumbled on one that caught my attention. It was more of a missalette or a pocket-book than a magazine. The girl on the cover was cute and sporty, wearing a pseudo-soccer outfit with a ball under one arm. I looked inside, she was petite, with small breasts, really short hair, with little crops of blonde under her arms. She was dragging a big bag of sports equipment home up a dirt farm road. She made it as far as the pond, then stopped and took all her clothes off, revealing an athletic shape, a really nice frame, and another tuft of blonde hair right where her legs met her belly. Casually she went for a swim, stretching her arms and legs, then a couple pages later she laid out on a rock and started exploring herself. That’s when I heard her voice for the very first time, “Time to go.” she said. I got up, looked around, saw no one, dressed and walked home, constantly searching for the body to the voice. Later that night I jerked off to my first orgasm, thinking of the cute soccer girl, from that last magazine. I was surprised, I didn’t have the white stuff come out, but I figured I just did it wrong.
(Now this next part I’m a little sketchy on. Not the details so much, but when it happened. This might have been the end of the next summer, but I can’t reconcile that with the timeline in my brain. Unless this guy waited a year for a chance or just heard a story from the year before I can’t be sure. He was never at the fort, that I can recall, and not really friends with those kids anyway. Well it doesn’t fit into that summers timeline, but still something nags at me, pushing me to think it happened the next summer. But I could be wrong.)
He stood up and undid his pants, he stroked his dick and started to get hard, I did the same, cause I didn’t know any better, all the guys did this, I assumed and since he was not one of the ‘fort crew’ this furthered my belief that all guys did this together. After a while of touching myself I got hard and he asked me if I wanted to try something different. He got down on his knees, putting his face on his pants, he had folded on the floor, then grabbed his ass cheeks and said I could put it in his ass to learn the motions.
The hippies were getting older, getting married and settling in to ways they had rebelled against, laughed at and admonished others for believing in. Free love was no longer a movement, instead it had split and evolved into two severely disparate activities. There was the baser of the two, the thriving porn, swinging, orgies and sex clubs, and its rival, the fantasy films, the romance novels, the lovers get-a-ways and single’s mixers. Viet Nam was but a tragic memory, disco was testing the bounds of mainstream, Rock was getting heavy and hard, celebrating the loner, the survivor and “the one”.
Stranger this time was, still, to an eleven year old boy, on a tree lined street, in a hamlet by a lake.
School did nothing to boost me out of these tendencies, in fact it had the opposite affect. Skinny little guy that I was, with asthma, allergies, brown, curly hair, glasses and olive skin, I stood out among the predominantly Irish, German and English kids, that filtered into that institution’s double doors on a daily basis. The nicknames, pushing and bullying all seemed to escalate in the second grade, thanks to the mouth of a wonderful teacher of German decent. The name she gave me would stick for years and eventually cause me to, on more than a few occasions, take a lump or three while blackening someone else’s eye or busting their lip. I was scrawny but not weak, wiry I think the term is. I learned early on that I could take a few hits and later that I could give right back, harder and quicker than they could imagine.
The house I lived in, was one of the first five standing on the road it sat back from. Three of these were actually built by the hands of various members of my family. My grandfather, father, great uncle and uncle all made the journey, across the city lines, to lay foundations and raise roofs. They were summer getaways, extra income rentals but mostly, they were promises of future retirements in the fresh clean air. The three-quarter capes, the typical house a five year old would draw, just rectangles and roofs, were small but cozy and built with love.
There was a lake, in the backyard, with woods, to one side, and my great uncles house next door with a distant cousin’s next, then more undisturbed land, off to its side. Across the street were a couple ranch style houses and a decent parcel of woods, with trails, now used for riding horses and bikes, that were once old dirt roads and rails used by an ice company to haul blocks of the frozen commodity to the train station, back in the day. My great grandfather worked for that company, cutting ice and hauling it to the river, for it’s trek, by barge, east to Manhattan.
I didn’t have many friends, being four years or more younger than the other kids in that neighborhood and all of the classmates, who were my age, were bused in from totally different neighborhoods.
It was late summer and the last days of freedom loomed before school would start again. Sixth grade was coming and the first day of the last year I would have to walk up that road, before being bused to middle school, was quickly approaching. It was a typical, August in NY, day, hot and humid, thick and wet with an uncomfortable heaviness.
Three walls, precariously standing, a sagging, half pitched roof, a wet, rotting plywood floor, and a fourth wall splayed across the grass to it’s side, busted with nails exposed from where it once mounted up to the rest of the structure. Four of the older boys, fifteen to seventeen years old, sat on dilapidated chairs, in various stages of undress, laughing and staring at magazines. They saw me and cheerfully called me over, using my real first name. I didn’t even think that they knew it.
(“Why?” I’d ask myself years later. “Because this was the first time they accepted me or even showed any kind of friendliness towards me.” I’d fathom back.)
This wasn’t art, nor erotica, it was assholes, mouths and cunts being used for money, just big globs of photographic shit right in your face.
Two of the boys let out moans and white stuff jettisoned from their dicks, into the dirt, as they grunted and groaned and expressed how much they needed that. Then they cleaned themselves off, pulled up their pants, said their goodbyes and left. The two brothers, who were fifteen and seventeen, I think, they may have been a year younger, now took an interest in me. “Wanna see what a pussy looks like up close?” one asked.
I sat down and closed my legs straight out in front of me.
I did what he said and looked down, my penis was hidden between my legs, and a hairless mound was formed. It had a slight indentation that was created by the scrunched up skin.
They watched me, smiling as they stroked their cocks, talking dirty to each other, staring at the illusory vagina between my legs. After a few grunts they came and got dressed to leave.
It was the first time they ever invited me to do anything.
I didn’t go back to the fort for a while for no other reason than I had more fun doing other things, like jumping my bike over the creek, climbing trees looking for birds nests, or tracking deer to their bed downs or feeding the geese and swans, besides I had my room where I could enjoy my stroking thinking of that imagery, without the cackling of horny teenagers. On days that I found myself there again there was sometimes five boys, at other times three or four, and they’d talk and joke and “teach” me about sex and how wonderful it was. None of them ever touched me, but two of them, I’ll call them the LaF brothers, always asked me to lay down and push my dick back, when the others were gone. One night it was just me and the younger LaF left, I was laying on my back, dick between my legs, and he was stroking himself, staring at the mound and the imaginary slit my skin made when my penis was in that position. He quickened his pace and started moaning and mumbling under his breath, then he reached out towards my crotch. “Time to go.” I heard that feminine voice once again urge, “NOW.” The loudness made me jump. I got up put my clothes on, looked around, saw no one else, except him, jerking still, now with a look of denied joy and apprehension on his face, and I left. I walked home, again, searching for the person whose voice urged me away. And still I felt nothing. I never went there again. Not because I was scared, I just lost interest. It was more fun, in bed, in the dark and there was too much running and climbing and kids things to do and a couple kids my age had moved in and we started hanging out together out of nothing better to do.
There was only a couple of days of summer left before middle school for me started. No more walking up that hill, just walking to the end of my driveway and waiting for a bus. I was in my basement, building a crane, with an erector set, when my mother called downstairs. She yelled down that she had to go get my brother from his friends house, she wouldn’t be long, don’t set the house on fire. A few minutes later I heard a knock at the basement door and the kid from across the street was standing there. “Hey,” he said, “Your mom asked me to keep you company for a few.” I was sometimes left alone for twenty or thirty minutes, any longer and my get into trouble gene would kick in so my mother would have my great aunt, who lived next door, propped on my porch, keeping an ear out. I guessed that she was busy or not around, didn’t matter to me either way. He came in and sat on the floor next to me. “Wanna have fun?” he asked. “Okay.” I said.
I got behind him and pointed my dick down. When I looked for the target I saw hairy ass and toilet paper pieces, thought cooties, and went soft. “That’s okay,” he said, “can you push your penis back and let me see?” I did and he stroked himself eyeing me with a smile. After a few seconds he asked, “Can you turn around and bend over a little, I wanna see your butt.” His words came out rather raspy and half gasped. I knew he was gonna cum soon because, that tone and the tempo I had heard quite a few times before. I did what he asked. He stood behind me, stroking himself, I felt his hand palm my ass and squeeze, one of his fingers grazed my perineum. Then I heard her again, not just heard her but felt her, it was like her hands were on me and she took control with marionette strings. I turned around, pulled my pants up and heard myself say “LEAVE,” but it came out, not in my voice, but in the same feminine voice I’d heard in the woods that edged me home a couple times before. He got dressed, finishing just as my mother came to the door at the top of the stairs. I don’t know if he was flustered when she came into view or if my mother had an inkling, but she seemed pretty unnerved, even though I had gone back to building my crane and showed no signs of anything unseemly. She asked him to leave and I never saw or heard from him again.