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Authors: John Goode

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BOOK: Going the Distance
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If anyone knew life was not fair, it was my dad. He had been cheated out of a lifetime with my mother because one idiot asked for another round before leaving the bar that night. He had been forced not only to be a Marine but to be a single parent as well, and there was nothing he could do about it. My father knew very well life was not fair, and hearing the fact proclaimed loudly and often by a child who had no concept of what unfair meant must have been excruciating.

Around then we started fighting.

We had always gotten along before, and this was new territory for us. I had done what he said without complaint, and he had never felt the need to raise his voice at me. In Germany, things changed. I hated him for stranding me there, and he hated me for blaming him. Every night we would end up in a screaming match that more times than not included something getting thrown at a wall or the floor in anger and/or frustration. Things devolved into not talking at all, which didn’t make the feelings subside, of course. I began to wander around the base instead of going home after school, hoping in vain to find some part of this alien world that might seem normal even for a little while.

That was when I met them.

To say they were cool kids would be an insult to people who are truly cool. They were simply other kids. They were older than me, which meant they were automatically better in every way. A few belonged to the civilians who worked on base; others were fellow military brats who hated Stuttgart too. They had longer hair, cursed, and smoked constantly, which was a trifecta of epic to me. They hung out near the bowling alley just outside the base perimeter, their frayed jeans cuffs rolled up while they tried desperately to look apathetic about everything. I was tall for my age; in fact I was a freak for any age. At eleven I was almost six feet tall and looked like an oversized puppy with huge ears and feet I constantly tripped over. I was horribly skinny in a really noncool way. I was all elbows and ribs and no matter how much I ate, I only grew taller and stayed scrawny.

I’m not sure if they knew how young I really was and didn’t care, or if they had mistaken me for their age, but either way they accepted me into their little group. I pretended to smoke by dangling a cigarette out of my mouth and made “fuck” every other word in my sentences to be like them. They seemed to think I was funny as hell. My dad, on the other hand, didn’t. He forbade me to hang out with them, but because he was on duty for half the day, he had no way to keep an eye on me.

As we approached the end of our first year in Stuttgart, I had learned to inhale properly and knew every word you could never say on television plus a few that wouldn’t even make it into movies. We were a pack of rabid dogs thinking we were wolves wandering the base at dusk. We had no money, no vehicle, and no idea what to do.

I don’t know if you know the formula for figuring how stupid a group of teenage boys is, so let me share it with you. Take the average IQ, which is going to be abnormally low because of hormones, and then begin to divide that by each additional boy present. So basically the more boys in a group, the dumber we become, and let me tell you, we were pretty stupid to begin with. The leader was Joshua, and I thought he was the shit. He had this rat tail that screamed rebellion, along with a set of prepubescent biceps that to an eleven-year-old looked like massive guns. I followed him around like I had a crush on him. And, I was beginning to realize, that wasn’t too far off the mark.

Nothing was more sacred on a Marine base than a girl, a Marine’s daughter doubly so. If you want to see how dangerous a Marine can be, just look at his daughter. I mean it. Don’t flirt or even talk—just glance over at her. I assure you it will be the last thing you ever see before he kills you, most likely with his thumbs. So I never had a chance to interact with the opposite sex, and to be honest I never felt the need to. I grew up around men and liked their company. It wasn’t until that summer that I realized how much I liked it. Joshua was my first clue. In my eyes, he could do no wrong. The others laughed off the way I followed him around and called it hero worship, but I think he knew better. He was always grabbing my head and giving me noogies that lasted too long and never seemed to hurt like the ones the other guys gave me did. We spent a lot of time at his parents’ place playing video games, sharing a chair that barely fit the two of us.

It was cramped, but we never complained; in fact, we seemed to relish the contact.

My father, realizing that nothing short of sending me stateside would get me away from the guys, gave up trying to convince me to stay away and instead kept as careful a watch as he could on us. That is to say he wasn’t able to watch us at all. When my dad was on duty, Joshua and I would go to my place, and we’d sit in front of the television and watch the weird TV shows as long as we could until boredom kicked in. Eventually he’d launch a sneak attack that I had spent all afternoon waiting for and wrestle me to the ground. There was no point in struggling, since he was obviously stronger than I was, but it never seemed to be about who would win but about the contact.

We both spent more time grinding against each other than trying to get free, and on some level we both knew it. At first he spent a long time watching to see if I would protest or say something about it later. When I didn’t, the pretense that we were wrestling went away. He’d hold me down as he lay over me, pushing his jeans against mine. I didn’t understand what we were doing, but it felt good, and that was enough for me. I guess you can say I fell in love with Joshua that summer, even though I didn’t have words for it. He was everything I wanted to be. But what I was feeling was more than that, and it confused the hell out of me. Again I assumed everyone felt this way, but Joshua didn’t talk about what we did and pretty much treated me like he always had when we were with the other boys; I figured that was the way older kids handled the subject.

When I spent the night, I would make up a bed on the floor and wait until the lights were out and his parents had forgotten about us before climbing into his bed. Things were different at night under the covers in just our boxers. What was a physical struggle became something else as we held each other, feeling the heat come off our bodies. I had never felt like this, and for the first time since we moved there, I began to find something to like about it. He would whisper to me in the night, secret things that no one else knew, and I loved it. About how much he liked me and was glad we were friends. He seemed to marvel at the fact I was taller than him, and in fact almost as tall as his dad, yet younger then he was. He was also the first person to inform me that everything about my body was larger than normal.

Since my dad and I rarely talked about anything personal, I had never even thought that anything on my body might be above normal. I cursed my height, since it did nothing to benefit me and only served to make my life worse than it was. I couldn’t run without tripping, I was always noticed by strangers passing by, and buying clothes was embarrassing, since I could never shop in the kids’ section. But there, in the safety of the night, Joshua told me my size was not only good but, when it came to my dick, incredible. It was impossible to hide anything in my boxers normally; when I was hard, I might as well have been naked. He seemed to get great pleasure from rubbing me through the sheer material, and I know I loved it.

I wonder what my life would be like if his dad had never walked in on us that night. Would I have learned to like Germany? Would I have calmed down some and begun to forgive my dad? Would I have realized the crush I had on Joshua wasn’t normal and that, therefore, I wasn’t normal? Would I have known to keep that information from my dad as long as possible, therefore avoiding the eventual blowup for a while longer?

It didn’t matter, because when Joshua’s dad walked in on us, my world came crashing down around me again.

Joshua, knowing what we were doing was in no way acceptable, handled the shock better than I did. He jumped back as if waking up, screaming at me to get away from him. I just lay there stunned, my erection throbbing for both of them to see. His dad hauled me out of the bed with one arm. I think we were both a little shocked to find I was almost looking him in the eye when I stood up, but he reacted better than I did. He told me to get dressed, and then he called my dad. It was only at that point I knew how much trouble I was in.

I began to cry while I waited for Dad to show up. Every time I looked at Joshua, he would look somewhere else. His dad paced the living room, glaring every so often at me as he sighed and shook his head. His mother, who, up to this point, I’d thought of as a great lady, just sat on the foot of their stairs and seemed to be trying to push this all away by sheer force of will. I had stopped actually crying and instead just sat there in misery when a knock came at the front door. I felt my chest constrict, and I began to cry again. I looked over to Joshua with pleading eyes as his dad explained to mine what had happened. Joshua’s eyes were red too from his own tears, and he looked like he was almost ready to say something when we both heard my dad roar, “
He did what?

Joshua looked away, inching another couple of steps toward his room.

I had never felt smaller or more vulnerable than when my dad pushed past Josh’s dad and stormed into their living room. I refused to look away as he glared down at me, silently asking me if what he had just heard was true. When I looked down in shame, he knew it was. “Get your ass off that couch. We’re going.” His voice was almost a growl, and for the first time in my life, I was actually afraid of my father.

He had walked, since the on-base housing was all in the same general area. I walked out of the house with him close on my heels. I noticed my dad couldn’t make eye contact with the other dad now, so great was the shame I had brought to us. He was too quiet on the walk back to our house. I thought the silence was ten times worse than any screaming he could have been doing. Dread of what was coming made what was normally a short walk seemingly take forever, which wasn’t all bad because I didn’t want to know how it ended. The second I crossed the threshold, I ran for my room, but I got maybe three steps before he grabbed the back of my shirt, hauled me back, and tossed me into the living room.

I hit the carpet and scrambled to my feet as he came at me. His voice was like something on high, and it blasted through me when he bellowed. “Did you do what he said you did?” I cringed and backed away from him. “Were you touching him in his sleep?” The loathing in his voice was the worst thing I had experienced in my entire life. I felt a fresh wave of shame sluice over me, and I started to tremble inside. When I didn’t answer, his voice became louder. “
Why would you touch another boy like that?
” Another wince from me, and I was pressed up against the back wall, still trying to make myself smaller. “
You know who does that? Perverts. Are you a pervert? Is that what you want to grow up to be? Some creepy guy who touches other boys while they sleep?

“He wasn’t asleep!” I snapped back in what I can only explain as a moment of temporary insanity. When I saw the disbelief in my dad’s eyes, I argued even harder. “He wasn’t sleeping!” I took a sobbing breath and said, “He started it!”

That was the first time my dad hit me.

I know it sounds hard to believe, a single military dad who was all about order and discipline never once spanking his son, but my dad never had to. His voice and authority had always been more than enough to keep me in line. I couldn’t blame him—that entire summer with me skipping school, hanging out with those boys, smoking, and now this. He was at the end of his rope, and he didn’t know what else to do. I justify his actions because he has never hit me again. We were both a little crazy that night, and when he slapped me, it wasn’t the physical impact that caused me pain. The gunshot-like crack of flesh on flesh didn’t startle me. It was the fact that looking into his eyes, I could tell he didn’t know why he had done it either. We were both feeling betrayed, and neither one could fathom where we had gone wrong enough to warrant hitting me.

I held a hand to the reddening welt on my cheek and just shook as he hovered over me with his hand raised for another blow. I don’t know if it was the very real fear in my face or the fact he had just lost control that stopped him from continuing. All I knew was that he froze in place for a few seconds, which were enough for me. I dashed around him and made a beeline for my room, slamming and locking my door behind me. This time when I broke down and began to cry, it wasn’t from shock, fear, or even pain.

I was crying from disgust.

I didn’t know what kind of a person I had become. I liked something as gross as touching another boy, and I knew it wasn’t right.
Fag
,
queer
,
homo
, and
gay
: these were all well-known insults to a kid my age, and no one ever used them in a good way. I was all those things, which logically meant I was a bad person inside. As I lay there on my floor, blocking my door, I cried myself to sleep, consciously thinking for the first time in my life that I was never going to be a good person.

The next thing I remember was a soft knocking on my door and sunlight streaming through my windows. “Danny?” my dad’s voice called from the other side as the doorknob rattled. “Unlock the door.” He sounded as tired as I felt. I unlocked the door, and he stood there, looking at me with an expression as unreadable as any I had seen on him before. “Get dressed,” he ordered before walking away.

I knew better than to ask where we were going. I simply closed the door and pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, knowing last night was not over. He had his keys in his hand, which meant our destination was outside the base. I began to worry as we drove and wondered if I was going to ralph in the car. I wanted to ask where we were going, but he wouldn’t even glance at me, and I didn’t have the guts to ask without a prompt. We exited the base, and the fear was well on its way to becoming sheer terror as he drove us into town.

BOOK: Going the Distance
12.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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