Transcend 3

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Hot water. I had forgotten the feel of it. Such a simple thing as a hot shower was so amazing to me right then and there. I leaned forward a bit and just let the water cascade over me, the heat penetrating my body and sighed.

How did I get here? Why did I let this guy that I knew hardly anything about break through all my walls? He seemed so nice and caring I couldn’t help myself, but why would he be different from everyone else? There had to be some kind of catch. I couldn’t be this lucky to find a guy that actually cares about some little kid he’s never known.

The water started to run cold so I turned off the shower and dried myself. Sarge had taken my clothes to wash them, but he had left me a robe. He said it was an older one, but when I put it on, it was like a child putting on his father’s clothes. The shoulders hung halfway down my arm, the bottom dragged like a dress and I had to roll up the sleeves and tie the belt around twice just to move around in it.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was the first time I had laughed in years and it felt good honestly. But, I still didn’t know what was in store for me. Sarge could have been a great guy, or he could just be setting me up. I didn’t know. But, I was there and really had no choice in the matter. “Let come what may,” I though to myself.

I slowly walked back towards the front of the house, absorbing the layout as I went. It was a really nice place. Pictures lined the walls and a few rugs lined the floors, but none of it was tacky or out of place. Everything felt pretty homey and…what’s the word I would use…masculine. I could hear Sarge whistling a tune as I got closer. When I finally got to the living room, I could see him in the kitchen near the stove. What I saw there almost made my heart jump out of my chest.

He was standing in his kitchen in a red tank top and a pair of black shorts that hugged his massive thighs like spandex. I assumed he changed after I was in the shower, but that didn’t matter at the moment. All that mattered was the massive man that was cooking before me. The well worn tank top had pretty thin straps that connected in the back before flaring outward and it showed off his back and arms so well. All I could see was muscle and veins everywhere. He wasn’t flexing or anything, but still, his entire body was simply huge. Everything I had imagined earlier was lacking compared to the reality that stood before me. I simply couldn’t process how a man could be so huge and muscular. I wanted nothing more than to feel every inch of his massive arms and back at that moment, so much so that I could feel myself drooling. I could see black and grey hair sprinkled around the bulges and contours of his amazingly large back and I just was in awe of how beautiful this man looked.

I shook my head, trying to regain at least some of my composure. I did not want to fall head over heels for this man. I still didn’t know anything about him. No one in the world could be as perfect as I wanted him to be. He was just going to hurt and disappoint me eventually. But, when he shifted slightly to reach for a salt shaker and I saw how his muscles bunched and flexed, my resolve wavered and I knew that I would have a tough time keeping him out of my heart.

The marble countertop that separated the kitchen from the living room was almost as tall as I was, so instead of leaning on it, I walked around into the kitchen area and pulled out one of the chairs. Sarge, alerted by the sound, turned and smiled at me. “I hope you like steak!” he said with glee.

I simply nodded and he turned back towards the stove. “I usually just have about four or five pieces of chicken and some veggies, but tonight’s a special night.”

I raised my eyebrow in surprise. “Four or five pieces of chicken?” I thought to myself but then I realized that a man his size had to go through a lot of food. Muscle like he had didn’t come from eating like a bird.

I watched with great interest as he cooked. He seemed so skill in the craft. His hand would fly out and grab a shaker, whip it around over the pan all while manipulating it with his other hand, making it seem like a big show as he cooked. The room began to fill with the aroma of meat and my stomach let out a low grumble.

Sarge laughed lightly and said, “Hold on kiddo, dinner will be done in a sec.” I smiled in slight embarrassment as he continued to cook. Before long, a plate was sitting in front of me with the thickest piece of steak I had ever seen and a pile of green beans.

“I didn’t know how you liked your steak, so I just cooked them medium. Hope you like green beans too. It’s all I have except broccoli and I know how some kids hate broccoli.”

“Broccoli would’ve been fine sir,” I said as I reached for my fork. It took every ounce of self control not to rip into the steak like a starving man, but I accomplished it. Slowly, taking a chunk of the warm beef to my mouth, my nose was assaulted with the wonderful smells of seared meat and spices I couldn’t name. Then, when it hit my tongue, my mouth exploded in a symphony of flavor. My eyes closed and I let out a low moan of ecstasy as I savored each chew of the meat.”

“I guess that means you like it,” I heard Sarge say with a slight chuckle. I opened my eyes to see his beautiful face looking at me. I blushed slightly as he said, “Don’t worry about it kid. I can only imagine what it’s been like for you and how good the steak tastes. Go ahead, eat up.”

I controlled myself, but I did tear into the meat. It was so delicious, seasoned in a way I couldn’t think of. I devoured it all the while Sarge was watching me. I kept glancing in his direction as I ate, but for the most part, I kept my head down. He was beautiful even when he was eating, so I had to keep my focus on the plate ahead of me. I had finished my steak and was working on the rest of the vegetables when from the corner of my eye I saw a plate sliding towards me. I looked up to see another huge chunk of steak headed my way and a man with a huge grin on his face.

“Why?” I said softly.

“Well, you looked like you were hungry, so I cooked up a little extra for the two of us.”

“No,” I said as I put down my knife and fork. “I mean, why are you doing this for me. You don’t know me! You couldn’t possibly care about me, so why in the hell are you going so far out of your way to do all this for me!”

Sarge pushed away from the table and got up. He slowly walked around and towards me and all I could think was how I fucked up the best thing I’ve had in a while. He pulled out the nearest chair and sat down. He put his huge hand on my shoulder and sighed deeply.

“I spent over thirty years in the Marine Corps. I’ve seen it all, from the snooty spoiled brats that didn’t last a week to the hard nosed mid western boys who took everything I threw at them and asked for more. I’ve seen the best our country has to offer and the worst. I’ve also seen kids who were kicked out of their house by their parents for being gay. I’ve seen how they’ve suffered even though they would never admit it with don’t ask, don’t tell. It was a kid like that that affected me the most.”

“He wasn’t the biggest or the strongest, but by far he had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. He was the type of guy that everyone liked. He would give you the shirt off his back without a second thought and would give his last dollar to a stranger on the street. He went through boot camp a day after his birthday, and I didn’t find out till later why. But, he made it through, and was shipped out. One night, someone caught him at a gay bar. That meant an automatic dishonorable discharge. Everything he worked for was gone in a flash, and a few days later, he was found dead.”

Sarge got up and went to the living room. He came back with a framed picture and letter. “This was the last thing he did on this earth, and he left it for me.”

He handed me the frame and I read the letter:

Dear Sergeant Sherman,

I hope this letter finds you because you were the closest thing I had to a father. I admired and idolized you so much because you were everything I wanted to be. You were big and strong, firm, yet kind when you needed to be. You were the epitome of a marine. You were everything my dad wasn’t. You were everything I wish I could grow to be. But that’s impossible now.

By the time you read this letter, you will know that I was gay. I didn’t want to be gay. But I was. My dad found out and that was it. I was kicked out of his house because he wasn’t gonna have no fairy living under his roof. I thought the marines would help me, but it couldn’t. Being gay was just who I was. I just can’t live with myself being gay anymore because it cost me the only thing that mattered in my life: being a marine.

I wish I told you how much you meant to me. I wish I knew some other way to get out of this, but all that I had in life was that I could call myself a marine. If I can’t have that, there’s no reason for me to keep going on.

Thank you for all you did for me Sarge.

My eyes were watering by the time I finished the letter. So much of it rang true to me. I was sad and ashamed now that I tried to kill myself when there were people who had it just as bad as I did and worse.

Sarge came up behind me and gently took the frame from me. He said, “I wish I knew what he was going through before it came to that. I could’ve told him being gay wasn’t the end of the world.” He walked to the other room and replaced the frame. “I retired soon after that. His loss affected me more than I thought. It was sad that the world was deprived of such a good soul and I vowed to myself that I would try and help other kids who were going through the same feelings of loneliness and isolation that drove him to kill himself.”

“But how did you know I was gay?” I asked. The shock on Sarge’s face answered my question for me. “Oh god, you didn’t know did you? Crap, crap, crap!”

“It’s ok boy,” Sarge said as he put his hands on my shoulders to calm me. “Being gay isn’t a problem with me. Hell, I’m gay myself. The only thing I want for you is to be happy with yourself. I’m here for you to help you all you want.”

His words went a long way to calm me down. Everything was just going so fast though. I wanted to trust him, yet I didn’t. I was still scared that it was all a trick or a dream. I didn’t know what to do or how to act with this man, but slowly he was working his way through the wall I had set up around my heart.

After I had calmed down, we finished eating and he started to clean up. I helped as much as I could. He then said to me, “There’s some clothes in the room you’ll be staying in. It’s not much, just some old, old marine tees and shorts. They should fit you. Or you can sleep in that robe. Either way works. I’m headed off to bed.”

I looked at the clock that hung above the refrigerator and saw it was after 10 pm. I also was feeling tired from the excitement of the day, so I nodded at him and waited for him to lead the way. We walked back down the hall, past the restroom and on to the pair of rooms at the end of the hallway. “This here’s your room, and mine’s on the other side of the hallway. If you need anything, just c’mon in and ask.”

I nodded and headed into my room, closing the door slightly behind me. I took a quick inventory of the wardrobe Sarge had provided and chuckled to myself. I found a drawer of grey shirts, all with ‘USMC’ in bold black print and a second drawer of red shorts with ‘USMC’ in yellow.

I closed the drawers and headed towards the bed. I sat on the edge and sighed. It was the most comfortable thing I had felt in a long while. I got under the covers not bothering to pull off the robe. As I drifted off to sleep, I found an image kept flashing through my mind. It was an image of Sarge, clad in the robe I was wearing, hugging and holding me close.

I awoke some time later. It was still dark outside, but through the windows I could see the first signs of the coming dawn. I had no idea how long I had slept, but it had been by far the best sleep I had ever had. I got out of bed to go to the restroom, and after relieving myself, I went about exploring the house a little. I came across a stairway that I had missed before, and from the bottom of the stairs, I could see a bit of light spilling from beneath the door, and I could hear muted music from within. I walked down the stairs and opened the door.

I was overcome with light and sound the moment the door swung open. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust. I then realized I was in a gym. My heart began to race as I felt myself going into a panic attack. I tried to calm myself down, but I glanced at the floor and saw a barbell loaded with a few forty-five pound plates. I suddenly went numb, my body slumping against the wall. I could see Sarge’s face go from jovial to worried to panic in a few seconds. I could see his lips moving, but I could hear no sound. I felt myself sliding down to the floor, curling up into a fetal position. Sarge came closer to me and, while I wanted to say help me, all that came out was “Please, don’t hurt me. Please stop. Why are you doing this Sean!”

As Sarge got closer, I felt myself curl tighter and tighter. I was crying uncontrollably when he finally got to me. I didn’t know what I was saying, I was just so afraid. He leaned over and picked me up and held me close to him. Instinctively, I buried my face into the mounds of muscle that was his chest, sobbing profusely into the forest of hair.

Somehow, we made it to the living room. He held me tightly against his barreled chest, keeping me from shaking. I don’t know if it was minutes or hours before I came to myself. He simply sat there, cradling me in his huge arms as if I were a baby. I never knew how good it could feel being wrapped up in an embrace like that.

When I finally stopped shaking and was able to relax a little, Sarge asked, “Are you ok?” I nodded yes and he continued, “You think you can tell me what happened.”

Memories flashed through my head. Painful, awful, horrible things. Things I vowed that I would never speak of. But being in Sarge’s powerful, yet gentle embrace made me realize that I could tell him the truth. He could probably understand.

With a heavy sigh, I snuggled closer into his body. “It was about eight months ago….”

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