IT WAS Friday morning, the last class of the spring term was behind me, and I would graduate in a few days. I’d already signed up for a summer term to begin working on my master’s and was, at the moment, looking forward to a day of creative loafing. Sally, my roommate, was at work, and I had the apartment all to myself. The harsh sound of the doorbell interrupted my reverie.
“It’s open,” I said in a loud voice, wondering who would be at my door on a Friday morning.
I heard the door open and a familiar voice say, “It’s just me.”
“Hi, Norm,” I said to my best friend, Norman Simms, and when I heard the door close behind him I added, “What’s up?”
“Not a lot. I’m headed out to the beach, and I’m going to take you with me.”
“After what happened last time, I shouldn’t think you’d want me along.”
“So you tripped over a curb and skinned your knee. It was my fault for not warning you.”
“It was actually my fault for allowing you to talk me into leaving my cane in the car. You can’t be expected to see every little thing that pops up in front of my feet and warn me in time.”
“Enough of that, Josh. Get your ass into your bedroom and out of those clothes. I want to see you in those Speedos I bought you for your birthday—right now.”
“Okay,” I said. “I guess a little sun wouldn’t hurt.”
“No, it wouldn’t. You need to get rid of that Yankee pallor.”
“I’ve got all summer to do that.”
“Yeah… starting right now. Now, get out of that chair, or I’ll have to get physical.”
“You think you’re man enough?”
“Don’t start. You and I both know there’s no chemistry there.”
He was right. Being gay and best friends, we’d tried once upon a time to get it on, but as he put it, there just was no chemistry. I made my way into my bedroom, found the appropriate drawer, and retrieved the Speedos.
“The tags are still on them,” he said accusingly. “You haven’t even worn them yet.”
“I was waiting for the right opportunity.”
“Give them to me.”
I handed him the Speedos. After a minute, he handed them back.
“There. Tags are all gone. Now, let’s see what you look like in them.”
I sat down on the edge of my bed, pulled off my shorts and underwear, and pulled the Speedos on. Standing for inspection as I tucked everything in place, I said, “Well?”
“Damn, you’re hot. Black hair, medium height, slim build with broad shoulders. You’ll be turning heads as we walk down the beach, and nobody will even notice me. One thing, though. You need to point your dick either east or west, instead of south—yours is nice-sized; no need to tuck it out of sight.”
“I have it on good authority that you’re pretty hot-looking yourself.” I shifted things around until I was pointing to the right. It was true; Sally had told me more than once that she wished my best friend was straight.
“Who told you that, the resident fag hag?”
“Sally isn’t a fag hag.”
“Sure she is, but who cares?”
“Evidently, you do—you call her one often enough.”
“Never to her face.”
“Now pull those shorts on over your Speedos, grab a towel and your keys, and we’re out of here.”
I found my wallet, keys, sunglasses, and a towel, in that order, and after grabbing my cane, I headed to the door. Locking it behind me, I made my way down the sidewalk toward the parking area.
“Is that your car?”
“Straight ahead. I can hear the ticking of the metal as the motor cools.”
“That would be it,” he said, taking my hand.
I shook his hand off. “Let me do this for myself, please.”
“Okay, Mr. Independent—knock yourself out.”
I worked my way toward the sounds of the cooling metal and felt for the handle of the passenger door. I heard the click as he keyed the remote, so I let myself in the car and secured my seatbelt.
“I still marvel at how easy you make that look,” he said from the driver’s seat.
“Years of practice, my boy. Years of practice.”
“‘My boy’, my ass. We’re the same age.”
“True, but I feel years older.”
He started the car, and I felt it begin to ease out of the parking space.
“Who knows?” he said. “We might even get lucky today.”
“Oh, puh-leeze. Us get lucky, merely walking down the beach?”
“Stranger things have happened.”
“When’s the last time you actually got laid?”
“It hasn’t been all that long,” I said somewhat defensively. Actually, it had been longer than I cared to admit, but I certainly wasn’t going to talk about it.
He took no notice of my bravado and said, “What are you doing tomorrow?”
“As it happens, I have a very important tuning job. Big and important, actually.”
“You know who Dr. Foster is, right?”
“Full professor. Teaches organ, among other things. That Dr. Foster?”
“The same. He’s also organist and choirmaster at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. Anyway, he has a Steinway Model C in his home studio, and I’m going to tune it tomorrow.”
“Sorry, I don’t get the significance of that.”
“The Steinway Model C is a concert grand piano—it’s over seven feet long, for one thing. For another thing, if he likes the job I do, it might pave the way for me to get the contract for tuning the practice pianos in the music department at the University of North Florida.”
“Really? Does that mean you have to suck his dick as well?”
“Hardly that. It’s well known that both Dr. Foster and his partner, Noah Webster, are held in very high esteem by Dr. Ambrose, the head of the music department at UNF. In a word, they have influence in high places.”
“I’ve heard the name Noah Webster. Is he a cute blond, by any chance? I may have seen him around the campus.”
“So I’ve been told. I think he just finished his master’s this term, or will next term.”
“So, where does this guy live?”
“How will you get there?”
“The usual. I’ll take a cab there and back. My fee always includes cab fare both ways.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot.”
Our conversation turned to gossip about mutual friends and acquaintances, and in what seemed like no time, he stopped the car and announced, “Here we are.”
“At the beach already?”
“You bet. And it’s a gorgeous day. Not a cloud in the sky.”
“That calls for sunscreen,” I said.
“I came prepared.”
“How close, exactly, are we to the beach?”
“We’re in a parking lot about a hundred yards from the surf. Now, get out of the car and pull off that shirt and those shorts.”
I pulled off my shorts and shoved them under the front seat, hopefully out of sight, since they contained my wallet and keys. Then I removed my pullover shirt and when I stood I could feel the sun on my face.
“Leave that cane in the car.”
“But I’m blind as a bat without it.”
“Josh, buddy, I hate to tell you this, but you’re blind as a bat with it.”
“True, but with it I’m not quite so helpless. It’s the folding one, so I’ll just slip my wrist through its carrying strap.”
“As long as you have me at your side, you’ll never be helpless.”
“Okay, I give up.”
I could sense him standing beside me as he said, “Now put your hand on my elbow and let me be your guide.”
I did as instructed, and I heard a click followed by a chirp from the car as Norm locked it. He led me across the parking lot and down some steps, and then I felt sand under my feet and heard the surf.
“I wish I could take my flip-flops off,” I said.
“Go ahead. I’m carrying a little bag to put things in.”
I slipped the flip-flops off my feet and handed them to Norm. The sand felt so good between my toes. Between the smell of salt in the air and the sounds of the surf and the sea birds, my senses were reeling. We walked for quite a while, talking about nothing and everything, as friends do.
“Whoa!” he said.
“About two hundred feet down the beach, heading our way. Twins. Good-looking twins. About our age, I’d say. Brown hair. Lean, muscular bodies, better-than-well-filled Speedos. Those boys are packing huge weapons.”
“Am not—I just appreciate a man who displays well.”
“How can you tell so much from so far away anyhow?”
“Because I’ve seen them on the beach before. Last summer they were here almost every time I was, but they were always with a couple of other guys. This is the first time I’ve seen them alone, and the first time I’ve seen them this year.”
“You sound like you’re in lust.”
“Damn straight. I’m getting half hard just thinking about them.”
“Down, my ass. I’m going to stop and strike up a conversation.”
A few minutes later I felt him stop, so I stopped as well.