USN Au Revoir
by Jack Scribe
I smiled at the route taken to my temporary job assignment as I changed in the lifeguard locker room with Petty Officer John Andrews. Last night, at dinner, Mike told me about his meeting with Lt. Connor and his suggestion that my Memphis club pool experience could come in handy at the North Island club. But I really flipped when Mike also mentioned the potential of a civilian job he might have with Connor's dad in San Diego.
"I'll give you the rundown and routine this morning. By lunchtime, you should be squared away on this operation," John said.
I subtly checked him out as we stripped down. 'Not bad,' I reasoned, 'for a married dude.' The Petty Officer had been in the Navy for six years and was determined to be a 'lifer'. He was a compact 5' 8", with dark hair, and reminded me of Jim Weiss, back in Memphis.
"Is there a 'cheat sheet' check-off list that I can use for opening and closing duties?"
"I couldn't find one. But if you take notes, I'll type them up back at the office," John replied.
"Sweet, I'll do that." After changing into lifeguard trunks, we put on the issued warm-up pants and jacket. At 0800, the morning temperature in overcast San Diego was very cool...and very different from Memphis. Also different was the unwanted luxury of a lifeguard locker room. 'So much for little encounters with my boss,' I thought, recalling my first meeting with Mike.
"This morning, we'll give these spaces a good, final cleaning and set up the pool furniture. I figure that, as a team, we can get this done by noon," John said in a matter-of-fact manner. "Let's start in the locker rooms and give the temperature a little time to warm up. It usually stays overcast here until around 1000."
For the rest of the morning, we got all the spaces ready for Saturday's opening. By noon, all the pool furniture had been cleaned and set up. Andrews explained that two more sailors - who worked for me - would be at the pool at 1300 for orientation and qualification. In that the club pool catered to the senior officers and their dependents, two lifeguards were necessary to give them the attention required, and demanded, on a daily basis. My days off would be Monday and Tuesday.
"Morning, men," a voice sounded in the distance.
Andrews and I had just set up the life saving equipment and stowed our warm-up jackets back in the locker room. It was around 1130. Turning to the sound of the familiar voice, the handsome image of Ltjg. Cole came into view. He was carrying a paper bag in his hand.
"Morning, Mr. Cole," John replied.
We both started walking to the gate to join Mike. I waved and smiled at the sight of my man.
"You're showing Dave the ropes?" Mike said, as we all shook hands.
"Yes, Sir. We have the place 'ship shape' and everything will be ready for the opening tomorrow. I understand Swenson worked for you in Memphis?"
"Yes, Dave and I go way back. I know he'll do a great job until he gets out next month," Mike replied.
'If Andrews only knew,' I thought with a smile.
"That's what Mr. Connor said. Knowing that someone like Swenson is here makes my job easier. Some of the senior brass can be very challenging," John replied with a shrug.
"No comment," Mike answered with a laugh. "I had the kitchen make you some sandwiches and salads." He handed me the bag. "I also put in some Cokes. I'll set up the same lunch arrangements at the snack bar for the lifeguards as I did in Memphis. Let the other guys know that they should take the lunch break around 1130 each day, and what's available on the menu."
"That's really appreciated, Mr. Cole," I said. "Should I also mention to the other guys that you usually come out here just before closing for laps?"
"Yeah, I still maintain that routine. Tell them I won't get in their way." Turning to John, he added, "I did laps in Memphis and find it's a good tension release. Plus, I get to freshen up for the early evening when I return to the club as manager."
'Because of the locker room setup and extra personnel, any tension release would only be swimming,' I thought with a smile.
"I've already taken one of the lockers to stow my swim gear," Mike added.
"I noticed a lock on locker number one. Thanks for telling me, Sir. I had made a mental note to break it off," John replied in a sincere tone.
"My apologies. I should have told Lt. Connor," Mike said, with a raised brow. "Just slipped my mind."
"No problem, Sir. I'll let the other guys know. Maybe I should start a log on locker assignments?" I thought it best to keep everything focused on business. 'I don't want Andrews to think too hard about my past with Mike,' I decided.
"Dave, that's a super suggestion," John answered with enthusiasm, "I know, from last season, a couple of the admirals and captains are regular swimmers. And we've got plenty of space. I'll make up a sign for the locker room when I return to the office. It'll say something like 'for permanent locker assignment, see lifeguard', or something like that?"
"Good. That will make my job easier, too," Mike added. "Men, I've got to get back to the club and I'll start my workout routine Monday." He waved and returned to the clubhouse
"Let's sit over in the shade and have lunch." John gestured with his head and started walking.
"I'm starved," I said as I followed him to a table with a raised umbrella. 'Cute buns,' I thought, as I scanned his body from the rear.
John pulled out the turkey sandwiches and a container of pasta salad after we sat down. He divided the plastic ware, napkins and plates. "Mr. Cole seems like a nice guy," he said.
"Yeah, he's super. Very fair and considerate of his staff." 'More than very considerate,' I thought.
"He's a hot-looking dude, too." John smiled and winked.
"Pardon me?" I said with a confused expression.
"Cole. Fucking good-looking. And he fills out his pants, front and back, very well."
"John, can I ask why a married guy would be making comments like that?"
"Hey, a married dude can admire a sexy man," he replied, slowly licking his lips.
"I'm not sure why you're sharing this with me?" 'Was this guy hitting on me?' I wondered, with a worried expression, as I looked at him.
"Dave, I've got a good friend on the Stennis. He gave me the word about the shit you got sucked into."
"And, so you..."
"I got some interesting vibes from you yesterday and today. Let's just say that I'm married but like a little bi-variety in my sexual appetite." The smile turned to a suggestive smirk. "And I think you're pretty hot, too."
"The only vibe I'm sending, John, is that I want to do a good job and get out of this man's Navy in four weeks. Did your contact also mention that there are a few less active duty officers as a result of that 'shit'," I said abruptly. My defenses were on full alert.
"Yeah, I got the whole story. Sounded pretty dicey. You're not gay, then?" he asked with a sobering expression.
"What I may or may not be has no relevance. I do have a special friend in town and that's all I'm saying. If it's possible, perhaps we can be friends. Nothing more," I said with a curtness and stern look.
"Sorry, man. Sounds like I fucked up, big time. Is it too late to say I'm sorry and forget this ever happened?"
"I'll accept your apology if you promise not to broach this subject again...ever." I was firm but decided to offer my hand. He took it and we shook hands in agreement.
"Okay, Dave. Case closed. Umm, you won't say anything about what I just told you?" He looked at me concerned, but sincerely.
"Absolutely not. Let's just say that if I had met you a couple of years ago, the answer might have been different." I smiled wistfully.
"Let's be friends and shipmates, then."
"That's something I can accept," I replied. We shook hands again, and devoured lunch.
I couldn't believe that it was the middle of May - the filming of Confidential made the year move along so quickly. When Mike called a month earlier about meeting back at Dave's cabin the week after Memorial Day, I got on the horn immediately and cleared the dates with Brent. He was excited about the reunion and said that he would ship his clothes back to California by UPS, just bringing the essentials to Minnesota. He would take an afternoon flight out of LaGuardia, and I would depart LAX in the morning - we would meet in Minneapolis at about the same time.
'Brad Williams mania' kicked up again with his May 'sweeps' final shows on Friends. The ratings went through the roof and NBC eagerly negotiated with Sam to bring back Brent for three more episodes to kick off the fall season. After the 'suits' agreed to the same per-episode salary as the principals received - Sam and Brent signed contracts...but only after Brent was assured that the television taping would not interfere with college. The summer film would shoot around Brent's schedule, so he would finish his scenes by the end of August, and the Friends episodes would be shot on weekends and some evenings.
I was at the start of shooting American X in my new position as assistant director. Happily, the producers decided to take a 10-day break after the Memorial Day weekend because the two stars had obligations to take two weeks off. They were scheduled to promote other films that were being released during that important late spring period, and this break had been written into their contracts. Rather than trying to shoot around the principals, it was easier to shut down production. I was ready for a little down time...with my best bud, and best friends.
That Trevor Winston could join us was an added treat. He was graduating from the University of Memphis the second week of June, but all of his final tests would occur the week before the holiday. As chance would have it, he had planned on spending Memorial Day weekend in Chicago to look for housing and check out the scene in Boystown. He had been accepted into the business school's MBA program at the University of Chicago and planned on moving to the Windy City sometime in July. The two years Trevor spent as an associate of the Tan Man in Memphis had given him a very solid financial cushion...he was now officially 'retired'.
Our new condo's decor would be installed in another four weeks. Chances were good that we could move into our new home after we returned from Gull Lake and we had already planned on celebrating Dave's 23rd birthday at our new place on July 4th - kind of a combination house warming and birthday party. 'It'll be great to have Brent back,' I thought as I drove down Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood after work. I had decided to stop by Sidewinders on Larrabee for a few beers rather than returning directly to my folks' home. 'The days of camping out in my old room are coming to an end.'
"A Bud Light, please. No glass," I ordered, standing at the bar. The video disco clips, edited with old Joan Crawford films, were amusing the full bar. I was wearing 501's, a gray pocket tee and boots. Basic stuff for the warm, studio soundstage. The bartender, looking pretty cool in his cut-offs and a tight tank top, turned around and reached for a bottle from the cooler, exposing a cute, firm set of buns. He popped the cap off and handed the bottle to me, leaving his hand on the bottle as I grabbed for it. He winked, smiled and slowly removed his hand from the bottle and my grip. I smiled back, nodded and turned around to check out the surroundings. I took a long draw from the bottle, and thought, 'That's one way to bump up the tips.'
"Hi, cowboy, mind if I join you?"
I looked over and scanned the gorgeous, blond young man, who had addressed me. He was about my height and filled out his jeans and polo shirt just right. The preppie ensemble was complete with flip-flops. He looked vaguely familiar but I dismissed the notion that we'd met before. 'The guy has the hot frat boy persona down cold,' I decided, 'like hundreds of others in West Hollywood. That's all.'
"Buddy, this is a free country. You wanna beer?" I asked.
"Same as you. Thanks," he replied. I nodded, with a smile, and flagged the bartender. I pointed at my bottle and at the handsome stranger. The bartender, nodded. I gave him a thumbs-up.
"I'm Doug, and married. You?"
"Cut to the chase every time, Doug? I'm Billy, very single, and horny."
I looked up at the screen and watched Joan Crawford taunting Bette Davis in their classic horror movie, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
"Saves a lot of time and confusion," I replied with a nod and smile. 'Best not to add that I'm also horny,' I decided, 'in fear of sending confusing signals.'
"Ah, married as in with a woman?"
"No. Committed to my best friend and lover. Have been for almost three years."
"Doug, your guy is a very lucky man." The bartender served the longneck Bud Light.
I nodded and pushed the money towards the bartender.
"I've got a great apartment not too far from here. We could go over for a good, fast fuck? No strings attached?"
"You cut to the chase, too. The answer, Billy, however appealing, is no."
"Hey, I tried. Mind if we talk?"
"That's cool. Might as well get the basics out of the way. I'm originally from here and work in film."
"Our stars must be aligned. I'm from L.A., also. I'm in a show on the WB."
"Yeah, been on a show called Heaven for two years."
"You kinda look familiar. Maybe it's the show...although I don't watch TV very much. But I think I remember you from somewhere else. Hmm, wait a minute. Did you go to Fairfax High?"
Billy studied my face and suddenly smiled with amazement. "Fuck, you're Doug DiMarco. Louie's older brother. He and I were classmates and best friends back then."
"Billy? Yeah, I remember you coming around to our house but I was in UCLA then," I replied as I looked closer. "Your name wasn't that back then. It was...Art...um...Shapiro. Right?"
"Correcto. The name's now Billy Forrest and I'm going to Cal State Northridge, part-time. With the acting gig, I can only take so many credits. I hear from Louie occasionally and he seems happy living behind the Orange curtain?"
"Yep. He's an Orange County breeder with a kid and seems content. I'll let him know that we met up."
"Ah, Doug, just don't mention where we met. Okay?" Billy asked with a concerned expression. "I never came out to him."
"I don't 'out' anyone. I'll just say we ran into each other at the studio. I'm working over at Warner's on a movie as an AD."
"That's cool. We film Heaven in Studio 35. What film are you working on?"
"Jeez, that's supposed to be a big deal. Ed Norton, right?"
"Yep. Smart guy, in addition to being one helluva actor," I answered with authority.
"So you're going to become a director?"
"My agent has me on that track. I'll be an AD on a big studio movie next year. After that, my goal is to direct something small."
"Good goals. Who's your agent?"
"Sam Barron at CAM," I said softly.
"The man, himself. I'm very impressed. I'm also at CAM, but my agent is some post-preppie from Harvard that thinks more of his Armani wardrobe than me."
"I was lucky." I took a swig of beer, paused as I swallowed and continued, "Billy, I want to impress on you something Sam said to my partner, who's starting out as an actor. He said that Brent should stay away from gay bars or gay groups he doesn't know. He also said that it's not fair, but that's the way it is."
"Brent? Would I know him?"
"He's just starting out. Probably not," I answered. "The advice is really a career-protector." I decided to quickly divert Billy's thoughts from Brent and not run the risk of 'outing' my partner. "The last thing you need is for your picture being plastered on some Internet site."
"This is the first time I've been here but Sam's right. I guess it's back to Video West to rent a little J.O. tape material for the evening," Billy replied with a shrug.
"That's probably what I'll be doing, also," I said with a smile. "Listen, whatdaya say I get Louie and his family up to L.A. later this summer. Brent and I will be moving into a new condo. Maybe we could all get together at our place in July?"
"I'd like that. I should really talk to Louie and fess up to my orientation."
"That would be cool. FYI, Louie accepted my lover and me very easily."
"Is your lover working on anything at the studio, by the way?"
'Jeez,' I thought, 'give it up with the questions.' "You'll meet him this summer. I don't want to 'out' him, either." We traded telephone numbers and promised to get together for lunch at the studio. Little Artie Shapiro - not so little anymore - had turned into a major hottie. 'This guy probably has little teenage girls...and, a few guys...wetting their pants when his show is on the tube,' I considered. 'Ah, the fantasy of Hollywood.'
'D' Day approached quicker than a blink. On Friday, May 23, 1997, I became a civilian, and Memorial Day had come faster than a morning crap after a Domino's pizza 'pig-out'. Not only did I have my honorable discharge papers from the Navy, I had been accepted into UCSD's fall freshman class, along with a full books-and-tuition scholarship from the Navy League.
Mike had had a successful series of interviews with Lt. Connor's dad and would join the Connor Group as a manager-in-training in November, prior to becoming the opening GM of the new restaurant in Balboa Park's Prado in spring, 1998. His career path was paved...and the one possible speed bump in his new job proved not to be a problem. Mike had told Tom Connor that he was gay, but Connor said that his dad and he had no hang-ups with anyone's sexual orientation. We planned on having Tom and his fiance over for dinner sometime in June and I wondered what Tom's reaction would be when he met me as civilian Dave, lover of Mike?
"Babe, I'm home. Where are you?" Mike's voice was coming from below. Mike was returning from the club and the happy hour activities.
"Up in the bedroom, sorting things out," I shouted, while boxing up the remainder of my uniforms. I would have Mike drop everything off at Navy Relief when we returned from Minnesota.
"Hi, civilian. Good old Mr. Dave Swenson," Mike said, as he entered the room and walked over for a husbandly peck.
"Mmmm, Mr. Cole. I think that I'm ready for a little more attention. I am a taxpayer, ya know." I pulled him close in my arms and passionately attacked his lips and tongue with mine. After a few brief, hot moments, I pulled back and smiled. "There, I got my money's worth."
"Later, babe, I'm cashing in more chips. In the meantime, how about going out to the Old Town Mexican Cafe? I really feel like some guacamole, salsa and their carnitas."
"Don't forget a few pitchers of margaritas. Sounds like a plan. You might want to get cleaned up...cuz I know I need a shower," I said with a suggestive smirk.
"Okay, you wash my back, and I'll wash yours." Mike said, as he removed his shoes and uniform, and I got out of my gym shorts and tee.
"I'm going to wash you all over, big man." I playfully tugged at his crotch, as I walked by on my way to the bathroom. "I'll get the water ready." 'Hmmm,' I thought, 'it is no longer the head.'
"Don't get me going. 'Davey' may see some action," he said from the bedroom, as I turned on the shower. With the temperature adjusted, I walked into the shower and left the door partially open. While my head was under the water, I felt a warm body join me and heard the door close. "I'll take the soap," Mike said, as he nibbled on my ear.
"How about a little massage on the shoulders, Mike? Today, returning to civilian life has really made me tense."
"Big day, Dave. Relax, let me work your muscles."
"Ahhh, oh yeah. Dig in there." Mike expertly massaged with his strong hands and thumbs, while his love muscle started moving up and down my buns. As he applied more weight into my asscrack, I started jacking 'Davey'. Mike's lower motions became more rapid, and his breathing more pronounced.
"Oh, Christ, Dave, I'm really getting turned on."
"Let it come, babe." We continued our separate actions. Within minutes, I felt his hot spooge hit my back and buns as Mike's body shuddered. This was enough to send me over the edge. I turned around and shot a long stream of cum on my lover's torso, followed by shorter blasts. He looked dreamily at me, as we grabbed each other's cocks and locked in with a kiss. The water continued to stream down from the showerheads onto our bodies and washed away the spent semen.
After the vigorous shower, we toweled off and dressed for dinner. Our plans were to pack tonight and depart for Minneapolis Saturday morning. We were going to stay with Uncle Trey and Aunt Betty until Tuesday. The grandparents from Des Moines would drive up Sunday to make the reunion complete. On Tuesday, Mike and I would pick the guys up at the airport and drive on to the lake.
This was the first time that I would be back with my family in Minneapolis since the funeral almost three years ago, but I had kept up correspondence with my grandparents. Last year, I sent a soul-searching letter to grandma about the love of my life and my sexual orientation. A month later, I received a beautiful reply from grandma, saying that mom had explained this 'wrinkle' in my life to her shortly after I came out to my folks. After discussing the topic of homosexuality with their Episcopal priest, she said in the letter, they understood that this wasn't my choice. My grandparents were most supportive - in fact, grandma joined the Des Moines chapter of PFLAG. Since then, we had talked on the phone several times, and I looked forward to the reunion.