To celebrate the release of "Icarus Ascending", Lee James shares with us a short story.
A Crack in Time | Lee James
It was the Age of Aquarius: a decade of political and social upheaval, love and sexual freedom; a time of tuning in, turning on, and dropping out. And that cataclysmic clusterfuck called the Vietnam Conflict raged on with no end in sight.
I’d just graduated high school in the spring of 1970, and I had a plan: work, save, enroll in college, get a student deferment, and beat the draft. I could control my destiny.
So much for youthful exuberance. The one and only job I could land in the cow town I called home had me waiting tables below minimum wage in a ma-and-pa bar and grill called the Longhorn Café.
On an ordinary day of fry cook fuck-ups, a dropped tray of drinks for a table of eight, and bitching customers, an Air Force officer stopped by for lunch. He looked to be about twenty-four or five, stood around six-three, with sinuous muscles, black hair, and dark eyes. And the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen made a beeline for my section. I stared at him—my mouth gaping, my knees going weak. I swallowed before I started drooling, turned off my closeted, silly-bitch fantasizing, and pulled my pad.
As I took the second lieutenant’s order, I noticed him giving me the once-over, pausing at the bulge in my hashed-out, bell-bottom jeans. Then he smiled at me.
I saw the joviality, or maybe it was smart-assery, in his eyes. Whatever it was, I liked it—along with the uniform and his handsome face. My cock twitched. I bolted out of the dining room before he noticed my joviality.
Regardless of the social change, sexual enlightenment, peace and love zeitgeist of the late sixties and early seventies, same-sex preferences did not play well along “Main Street” America. I knew closeted bisexuals and gays lived all around me in the wilds of Montana. Maybe I just wasn’t recognizing them? Maybe I didn’t really want to? After all, most people still expected men to marry, be the breadwinner, and father children. As a Montana male, I came across as rugged, stoic, straight, and packed the big balls to prove it.
As I started to set the second lieutenant’s lunch before him, his elbow brushed my thigh… or maybe I brushed my thigh against his elbow. Just a touch, and electricity shot through
me as though I’d shoved a ten penny nail up my ass and backed into a 210 volt outlet. I damned near dropped his “Big Sky Burger Platter.”
Oh fuck, oh dear… his dark eyes gleamed at me and his easy, open smile displayed stark white, perfect teeth.
He rose from his chair. Standing military straight, he offered his hand. “Second Lieutenant Trent Valiston.”
Dig it… that masculine voice, his military fit and trim body. I stared speechless
before shaking his hand and muttering, “Uhh… Micha Dahl.”
He grinned. “Yes, you are.”
Having heard similar lines hundreds of times before, I just smiled.
Valiston just smiled back. “Do you go by Mike?”
“No, it’s Micha, like the countertops.”
He placed one of his big hands on the base of my spine… only for a moment… and that military haircut of his… shit! The lieutenant could’ve ravaged me right there on
the dining room floor.
It didn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to guess that this Trent Valiston was stationed at the nearby base. As we came to know each other, I learned he graduated from the USAF Academy and planned to make the Air Force a career. I also knew he’d gotten married before leaving Colorado Springs. In the jargon of the era, that reality was a “fucking downer.”
Every time Trent came into the café, he’d focus his attention on me; even when he’d brought a couple of airmen buddies with him. He’d always toss out a compliment such as, “Nice haircut, Micha,” or “You could become a model for Levi Strauss,” or “Like the thought,” in reference to my CSN&Y “Teach Your Children Well” T-shirt. Casual dress was the rule in the Longhorn. The place did not attempt to come across as the Wild, Wild West’s answer to the Café du Ritz. I’d become just a teenaged working stiff—no tie or jacket required—just cannon fodder waiting to get his ass drafted and shipped off to Vietnam. Those Godless communists nationalizing those goddamned Michelin rubber trees; followed by Eisenhower’s strongarming DeGaulle to send French troops to Vietnam and win one for goddamned Capitalism.
On a hot summer night about a month after we’d met, Trent sat at a table drinking coffee and reading. Only he and I remained in the café at closing time. Dressed in civvies, Trent told me the jeans I wore showed everything I had. He ran an index finger down and around my cock. Being eighteen with the libido of a mink on industrial-strength spanish fly, my dick instantly went from just hangin’ to straight up and stone hard. I’d never had a man touch me before, and I liked it a lot… I mean a whole shitload of lot. But in faux moral outrage, I blew-off Trent’s ballsy advance and without a word walked out of the dining room to lock the doors, close down for the night, and begin cleaning the joint.
Trent followed me to the janitorial closet. He placed a hand on my shoulder, and my body
“I’ll help you mop and wipe down so we can cut and run.”
Did he mean what I thought he meant with his “we can cut and run” shit? I shrugged. “If you like.” I at least tried playing hard-to-get.
Two men giving the dump a lick and a promise…we finished in no time. Trent backed me against a wall and kissed me. I did not push him away. Hell no, I liked having his lips on mine, and our hard dicks pressed together. Soon, we were sucking tongues, swiping mouths, and moaning.
Slipping my hands under his shirt, my fingertips ghosted along his pecs and abs. Then I went for his jeans. He groaned as I wrapped one hand around his cock, exploring his furry ass with my other hand. I could honestly state, “A good time was had by all,” as my hometown newspaper reported on the Sunday supper and Canasta game, Oreos and coffee served, at the Knudson ranch.
He had a wife at home. I lived with my parents. We left my piece o’ shit car in the café’s parking lot and drove to the mountains in Trent’s VW Microbus. We didn’t talk about what we were about to do. We didn’t need to.
Parked along a whitewater river and hidden by trees, we undressed and stood in the summer moonlight, holding each other. With our nude bodies in full contact, Trent needed only to kiss me to make me cum. But shooting fast didn’t present a problem. At eighteen, I needed about fifteen seconds to get my cock locked and loaded again.
Trent had a big dick with a good girth, and I got my first taste of male genitalia and cum that night. The two of us being the same height, we lay on our sides doing a sixty-nine.
Then we went back for seconds.
Oh yeah baby, Trent’s musky male scent and body hair had me wanting more. Married? Who gave a shit! It was the summer of 1970; we were young and in love.
That same night, Trent introduced me to anal intercourse. He was gentle, but that first fuck did not escape my attention. My ass hurt for two days after Trent’s big cock stretched, plowed and filled me. But it was a good kind of pain.
By our second date, I thoroughly enjoyed getting fucked by Trent; feeling him pumping in and out of me, his dick’s mushroomhead massaging my prostate until I cried out in pleasure—our bodies soaked in sweat. When his pre-cum provided additional lubrication, he performed his grand finale of long-stroking out to the head of his dick and thrusting back into me all the way to his fat balls. I loved feeling his cock pulsating inside me as he ejaculated—his
semen slowly slipping out of me and gathering between my thighs.
Over the weeks, Trent and I saw each other frequently. In fact, we met every hour we could beg, borrow, or steal. He told me he had American Indian in his gene pool, accounting for his sexy black hair and dark eyes that could make me smile, feel his happiness, his annoyance, and his joy. We would go to the mountains in his Microbus to make love—he drove as I smoked a joint and sang along with Hendrix on the eight track, tossing out the mondegreen, “’Scuse me
while I kiss this guy.” Then I would lean over and do it. Fuck the oncoming traffic on the two-lane highway. They could get their own airmen to kiss.
I never got Trent to share a doob with me, but I made certain he saw blazing colors and heard a rock band every time he’d cum in my mouth or ass.
In December 1970, I received my “Greetings” letter from Selective Service. The lottery gave me lucky number seven—plenty low enough to get drafted if I passed the physical. Fuck oh dear, I’d turned a strapping, lusty, and healthy nineteen. And a very Merry Christmas to your ass, Micha Dahl.
Trent told me what to expect while at the induction center. “While you’re there, Baby Dahl, discretely enjoy the scenery.”
I experienced the Army’s doctrine of “hurry up and wait.” I spent what seemed like six months—all right, it was a few hours—standing in line after line of nude man flesh in front, behind, and beside me; and hell yes, I copped glances at as many of those young chests, asses, dicks, and balls as I could.
I wondered how many of these beautiful young men would return home disabled or in plain aluminum caskets. In later years, we’d learn that many of the soldiers and nurses who served would find themselves unable to leave those jungles behind.
I was found to have a slight heart murmur which made me “4F” for military service. Can I hear a hallelujah? Praise the Lord and don’t pass the ammunition!
Trent and I were together for about two years before his Montana tour-of-duty ended. Promoted to full Lieutenant, he was soon transferred to Washington State. I’d
never felt so sad, empty and alone.
But I’d managed to save enough bread from my shit job to start college in the fall. Trent and I sent each other handwritten letters and called each other regularly. His marriage ended within a month of moving to Washington. He shared an off-base apartment with another Air Force officer. I assumed his roommate was gay. I didn’t ask.
When I started graduate school, we lost touch with each other, as often happens when two people’s lives are full and going in different directions. The Montana male stoicism kicked in: just suck it up because you’ll never again see Lieutenant Trent Raymond Valiston. What started as a summer fling proved to be nothing more than that, when all was said
and done. Or so I rationalized it.
And almost forty years would pass by before I found him.
On a warm day in late spring while returning to my office, I thought of Trent. It struck me: June sixth was the date we’d first met in the Longhorn Café. Across the years, I’d found myself wondering from time-to-time what had become of my sexy, handsome military man. I’d been with my life partner for twenty years, and we were a happy, loving couple. But like
everyone else, I’d never forgotten my first love.
I owned a successful business, and decided I’d finally spend some company time running a Google search for Trent. With his uncommon surname, I got eighteen hits. I hoped I wouldn’t find his obituary among them.
In fact, Trent lived in Phoenix and was a State legislator. I punched in 411 and got his home number. I closed my office door, plopped my feet on my desk, and called him.
In spite of the nearly forty-year crack in time, I recognized Trent’s voice the moment he said, “Hello.” And he instantly knew who I was. He cried out, “Baby Dahl! I’ve often thought of you over the years, but didn’t want to disrupt your life.” He paused. “Yes, I’m still dumber than dog shit. Can you forgive me?”
Of course I could. We talked comfortably for an hour as though we’d been calling each other every week over the past four decades. I learned that he had retired from the Air Force, loved politics, had a long-term partner; then our phone reunion headed south. Trent told me he’d been HIV positive for twenty years. His drug cocktails were keeping him alive, but he knew he was living on borrowed time.
We e-mailed each other daily and called periodically for almost two years. On a beautiful summer day, Trent’s partner, Joe, called me at home.
“Trent had a fatal heart attack Saturday while we were camping. He died doing what he loved.”
Trent’s early death came as no surprise. But tears lined my cheeks. I offered Joe my condolences, adding, “Trent will always hold a spot in my heart.”
“Trent wanted me to call and let you know.” He paused. “No, he made me promise that I’d tell you.”
“I managed to croak out a, “Thank you.”
Joe said, “I followed Trent’s wishes and had his body cremated. He wanted no memorial service, no flowers, no cards.”
Trent and I had agreed not to see each other dead or alive. We wanted to remember each other only as we were back in the day. With Trent’s death, I questioned the wisdom
of that decision.
All that remained were my memories of Trent, and two years of archived e-mail messages. The good times we’d shared and Trent’s written words would remain precious to me as long as I lived.
Joe’s voice turned cool. “Trent wanted you to have something he’d made arrangements for two years ago. I’ll send it tomorrow.”
A UPS driver delivered a package three days after Joe’s call. Inside, I found a sterling silver vial, containing some of Trent’s ashes. The engraving read, “Unforgettable
Baby Dahl. TRV.”
And every now and then, I’ll hold the vial in my hand and reminisce about that point in our lives when the world’s colors appeared much more vivid, and time seemed to pass by ever so slowly… back when Trent and I were young.