The Forever Man


He looked down at his newspaper, closed it and folded it over, and said, "Yes, and . . . yes."

He lived in a small cottage nearby with his mother, but she was visiting a sister in Goulburn and apparently spent more time there on the family farm than she did in Sydney now that her husband had gone.

It was a very clean and tidy house, and warm—like him. We made love in his mother's double bed. Hardly any talk before we were both naked and under the sheets. He had a gentle, warm mouth and soft, young, warm skin. He was young, but always seemed older. He kissed softly, down my thin, scarred body until he was kissing and then devouring my throbbing pole, the strongest and most alive part of me when we met.

His mouth was magic as it stroked and caressed my cock. His hands were magic too, as they traced the lines of my body and, reaching each sensitive spot, stopped and played there. Rubbing, squeezing, gently teasing, caressing, even pinching. I gasped and moaned, grasped his hair roughly, and moved his head on me. Enraptured by his lovemaking, I came quickly, not holding back on experiencing a wild, longed-for release, as my seed spouted into his mouth. I had no need to hold off coming; I knew I'd soon be hard again. Then I descended on him. My mouth lazily swallowed his cock in the afterglow of that first joining, and I sucked and caressed it lovingly to greater size and rock hardness to the tune of his appreciative moans and sighs and to the exploring of my fingers at his rim.

His entrance responded to me and quivered, and he whimpered "Oh, oh" and I am sure "yes." But I wanted to take him regardless of whether he cried "yes, yes," or "no, no." Being a poet doesn't mean I am meek, or gentle.

I provided lubrication to my fingers and returned my mouth to his cock and balls, and my fingers to exploring his rim. Having discovered a tight, but opening, entrance, I entered it with first one finger, then two, and sought his prostrate with the tips. He immediately writhed and jerked in a way that confirmed I had hit the right spot, and I backed off on my mouth work. I also tried tossing off the annoying sheet that half covered me so that we were both naked and exposed. I'd have liked the light on but wasn't going to leave off to make it happen. I wanted to see his face when I entered him, and when I rode him, and when he came from my pumping of his arse, but the pale light filtering through the curtains from the streetlights would be all there was that night to light him.

He opened slowly. "Have you . . .before?" I murmured to him, finally thinking of him.

"Yes, yes . . . go on. Oh, go on," he moaned quietly back, and I returned my mouth to his balls and dug another finger inside his arse. Soon it was my cock feeding into him, and the way he cried out and strained to spread his legs and lift his hips told me that he was having trouble taking me, but wanting me, all at the same time. I am not really big, and I sensed that for all he had said, few cocks had been up his arse. And that aroused me further, made me dwell on the feel of my cock sliding in and out of his tight channel, mining him for precious sensations few other men had searched him for. In the semidarkness, I watched him reach for the wooden rails of the old bed and grasp them, saw his mouth open in a wide gasp and then a moan of pain and pleasure as I pumped on, my cock now burying itself to the hilt inside him, after shallow pumping opened him for me. I slowed my action, breathing hard, hearing his panting and moans as I slowly slid in and then slowly drew almost out of him.

I would have tried to leave after we had both come, worried what the neighbors might think if I left in the morning, except that I fell into an exhausted sleep and didn't wake until daylight—alone, because he was making his breakfast in the kitchen. I groggily pulled on my clothes and staggered out to him, knowing it was time to go.

"You are just in time," he said, smiling. "Sit down. Two eggs enough?"

There were two places set at the wooden table in the spotless kitchen, and I could smell the sausages and eggs cooking, while a pot of tea, jug of milk, and sugar bowl sat in the centre of the table already.

"Um, yes, yes two. Sorry, I should have left—"

"I have to go to work," he said, "late shift." He looked at the food he was cooking, in the frying pan on the fuel stove, the room steamy with the welcome heat of the fire.

"I'm sorry I didn't leave. I—"

"I didn't want you to leave. And you fell asleep." With a shy smile, he added, "You looked younger sleeping." Then he stepped over and bent to kiss me. It was so natural for him. So domestic and calm. My hands reached for his neck and pulled his face to me, and we kissed a long, slow, exploring kiss that had me growing and reaching for his crotch and squeezing what I could feel hardening there.

"I have to go to work," he said. "There is a hospital ship coming in today from Singapore and Java. We will be very busy, or I'd stay. But you stay. I'd like you to be here when I get home unless . . . there is somewhere you've got to go."

"No, nowhere I have to go. But the neighbors," I asked. "Your mother. She will hear about it if I stay."

He shrugged. "It's my life, and the neighbours will think you are a lodger. We have had them when money was short."

I crawled back into bed when he left and slept most of the day, getting up late in the afternoon and making tea and then heading up to the shops to buy fresh milk and a paper.

I was standing at the front window of the parlour when he came home—not looking for him, at least consciously, but, then I suppose I must have been. When I saw him approaching, I had to give a little laugh—and I think it must have been then when I first thought of being with him forever. He was walking with a jaunty stride and in one arm was a bouquet of red roses and in the crook of the other arm—a bottle of Martell cognac. He must have focused on me as soon as I entered the bar and heard me unsuccessfully ask for it. I can't think of anything else he could have brought home that day that stated better what he felt for me.

I met him at the door and pushed him to the wall. Nothing was said—just mouths to mouths, bodies pressed to bodies, my thin one against his lean but healthy one, and then we were in the bed, naked, writhing against each other hungrily. He said later it had been a hard day. The ship had brought back POWs from Singapore and Burma. That night he needed me as much as I needed him. But he loved to fuck and be fucked. Not wildly or roughly, but often and with vigor and pleasure. In a time when things were usually hidden and furtive and often quick, being with him was almost the total opposite. I wondered at how he handled it all so naturally and I reveled in it. I felt alive again for the first time in years. I felt the suffering and pain of the war fall away like a dry, tight old skin.

A month later his mother came back from the country. She asked me how I liked my room, her room in fact, and she accepted when I offered to share her son's room with him while she was there. We made love silently as she snored in the adjoining room in "our" bed, and two days later he took her to the station in the morning and she disappeared again.

And I wrote. Each day I was stronger and I wrote more, I became a regular contributor to the Bulletin again, and sold poems to Sydney papers and the women's magazines. I entered competitions and I won a few.

I won the poetry section of the Sydney Eisteddford contest last year and got my picture in the morning and evening newspapers. On the final night I read my winning poem aloud on stage for the governor and the premier of New South Wales and other dignitaries. And he was in the audience, in the front row, and clapped the loudest. In a small way I was suddenly famous, and I gave the prize money to him. He gave it to his mother and suddenly it was his name and mine on the title to the small house.

"But what if things stop being good. What If you find someone else? Younger, better looking, healthier?" I said when he told me.

He smiled and replied, "I am happy with this being forever."

"Forever is a long time," I said warningly, but not really seriously, loving him for saying what he had.

"Not long enough," he replied.

I am blessed. And he loves to fuck. And my cock always has the strength for that, even when I hardly have the energy to get out of bed.

I write a lot of poems about him and us, some quite unpublishable. Many quite unpublishable, and he blushes when I show them to him. But there are also many that I can sell or enter into competitions, and some that are published in collections. Because of those collections, my competition wins, and publications, I have become known in Australian literary circles. Strange to be recognized. A boy from Albury with not much schooling. I read though from the day I first could read. Read anything and everything I could get my hands on, and I began to write not long after I learned to read, but long stories never interested me. Short. I like to say it all in just a few words. Words that reach inside. Inside me. And I hope they reach inside readers.

I am sure I will always write my best work inspired by him, and about him, and when I dare, about us.

* * * *

November 1960

Dream come true. Me, a boy who never finished school past year eight, being asked by the university to be guest lecturer for a year. Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate. What a reward. I am in shock still.

* * * *

March 1961

There is a young man in my lectures. Randolph. So intelligent and with such a sense of rhythm and language, and so good looking. So many of the students in my lectures and tutorial are breathtakingly beautiful, but he outshines them all. I have become so recharged, so full of energy and have such a feeling of being free since I started lecturing at the university. It's so good to be surrounded by intelligent young people, and some of the lecturers are experts and have traveled and studied at Oxford and Cambridge and met many of the significant writers and poets of our time.

I feel twenty years younger myself surrounded by that atmosphere. Alive, recharged.

In the term break I was sent to Melbourne to launch my latest collection, Morning Curlew, published by Angus and Robertson. I got assistance for the trip from them and from the newly set up Australia Council to do the literary social circuit.

Up to that term break all there had been between Randolph and me were his soulful looks and our deep conversations, and yes, and the occasional wonderful snatched hour alone in my office at the university. There we had kissed, and more.

The first time he visited me in my office was for me to look at some piece he was writing, The Pain of Love it was called. All intense longing and . . . and the sex of the parties was unclear and I asked him and he blushed. I lay my hand on his where it rested on the desk and squeezed it, letting all my longing for him and admiration of his beauty into that tight hold, that reassuring hold I had on his hand. He looked up at me and smiled and I couldn't help myself, I moved my face to him and he didn't withdraw—I hesitated, my lips but a hand's length from his, our eyes locked, his seeming to challenge me to move my lips across that short space between us. And my eyes. I have no doubt my eyes told him everything about my longing for him. I leaned further forward, and my lips brushed his. Then they pressed to his lips, which he pursed and joined in the chaste kiss. Yes, it was chaste. We separated without either of us parting our lips and seeking more. I spluttered, and he blushed and dropped his eyes, and we pretended to go over his poem as if we were professor and student.

I was shaking when he left, lost to him, burning with desire for him, having to unbutton myself and stroke myself to completion thinking of his hand, his face, his . . . oh god, I only have to think of him walking into my office to feel the blood rushing to my groin. I ache from too much stroking. He appeared at my office door two days later. Nervously smiling and holding a book of Greek verse in his hands.

"Have you read this, Shawn?" he asked. His eyes seeming to swim in expectation.

"Ah," I said, taking the offered volume from him. "Greek verse. Only a little, I'm afraid, Randolph," I replied, wishing I had read it all so I'd know what it contained, how much of an invitation he may be making to me. I was in turmoil, wanting him to want me as I wanted him, wanting us to merge and blend and unite in the rapture of consummated desire. He closed the door and came and sat in the chair beside my desk. "Our talk on Tuesday," he said. "I was wondering if you could tell me more . . ."

"About your poem?" I asked in a husky voice, not daring to say more in case I was seeing in his visit and his words what was not there.

"Um," he smiled and looked bashfully down, "um, I know very little of the world. I want to write as an experienced citizen of the world, and I so admire your work. It is so mature and passionate," he said, looking at me with big eyes. Eyes hungry for something.

"How much of the world do you want to know?" I asked him nervously, my body trembling, feeling myself engorging. Wanting him desperately.

"I want to be a writer, so I want to know it all," he replied breathlessly, his eyes now glowing.

He was reluctant, there, not letting me do more than unbutton his pants and reach in and take hold of him. And then I'd stroke him as he reached for my cock and stroked that, tentatively at first, but then with strong steady strokes and short rhythmic ones and gently tantalizing ones. He was a fast learner. But he refused to do more. I was desperate.

"I have a week-long engagement in Melbourne, arranged by Angus and Robertson and the Art's Council. Talks and workshops and recitations. It would be good experience for a rising young poet to tag along. Would you . . . would you be interested in coming?"

"Me?" he said, surprised, as he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. "Of course; what a thrill." My hand snaked into his pants, wrapped itself about his familiar, hard organ, and glided up and down it as he made happy sighing sounds and asked questions about the trip.

Randolph was a huge hit with the middle-aged society women who are the stalwarts of so many of these writing groups and committees. And he was certainly a hit with me.

Ah, that first week in Melbourne, the magic of it, the heat and intensity, I feel; so . . . so alive, when I am with him. He is my Muse.

I want to find some way for us to be together and I am working on a small surprise for him. I may be offered a visiting lectureship at Oxford, and if I get it, well, I will ask Randolph to come with me. We can be together then.

* * * *

November 1962

He may have forgiven me but I can never forgive myself for my foolishness, and for what I have done to him.

It could have been him I took to Oxford and then I could have fully appreciated the opportunity and perhaps stayed there. But no.

Of course Randolph was more than appreciative of being asked to accompany me, and the sex was . . . well at the time . . .

But once we were there, it was soon as if I disappeared. Randolph quickly got included on the invitations to all the literary events and the small groups that gathered in lecturer's rooms and homes. Of course, at first I was the one invited and daringly took Randolph along with me. Even to country house weekends, where I'd sneak into his bed after everyone had retired for the night. But soon it was him who was getting the interesting invitations, and his obvious flirting with both men and women was the cause of fights between us. When he packed his things and left me after one such fight, I felt suddenly very old. And I thought of the man I had left behind, the man who had always been there for me. The man who had enabled me to become what I had become.

I came home to Sydney. I didn't know what to say, but he didn't demand I say anything. I fell into his arms again for comfort and peace, and he gave it freely. I had never really moved out of the house, so I didn't even have to move back in. And soon it was as if I had never left. But I felt guilty. I was not invited back to the university, and I didn't chase up another appointment. I knew I had made a fool of myself. And as if to punish me more, I discovered that in the nine months I had been in England I had slipped from sight in Australia. There was a new, younger, far better-looking face making waves on the literary scene with his free form verse. Suddenly I was becoming old hat.

* * * *

June 1973

I wonder why he puts up with me. He is still young and fit and I am falling apart. All the things I had wrong with me at the end of the war that landed me in hospital for months have reappeared, and there are days I can't even get out of bed. He still works at the hospital, but he manages the orderlies now. And I know he has too many days off to look after me.

I write more now. All the time I write. Not always good, and I am not fashionable now, but I sell a little, and there are still people who buy the small collections Angus and Robertson publish each year. Though maybe not this year; there has been no letter yet in response to the manuscript I sent them two months ago. But writing is all I can really do, and it passes the time.

For some reason I think more of the war now and often of the island, and that brief time of carefree youthful love with Malcolm that will stay with me forever.

We sat on the veranda of the radio hut when we were off duty, and in the evenings, as dusk arrived, Malcolm would pass by in his swimsuit on the way to the beach for his daily swim. His creamy white, sensitive skin almost glowed when it was revealed to the pale light of sunset. And his red hair looked more auburn than orange in the fading light. He might have been an apparition, or a ghost.

As he passed by, he'd smile, and I'd smile back or say hello; he'd point to the bottle of Martell cognac at my side and raise an eyebrow at such a sophisticated drink out here at the end of the world, and we'd both have a little laugh before he shrugged, pointed at the ocean, and moved on. Until one evening when I grabbed the towel at my feet and, jumping off the veranda, fell in beside him.

"I thought I'd have a swim too. Mind if I join you?" I asked him, my breath coming fast.

He turned, as he continued walking, that young smile of pleasure still on his lips, and replied, "Good to have company."

"Name's Shawn. I came in on the last boat," I said.

"Hello, Shawn. A pleasure to meet you. I've seen you on the veranda a few times now. I'm Malcolm, the doctor. But I am sure you already know that. It's a very small island."

"Yes, yes, I did know," was all I could say.

We arrived at the beach, and Malcolm walked straight into the warm water of the lagoon, while I pulled off the khaki Australian army-issue shorts I had on over my swimming trunks. If he hadn't walked straight into the ocean, I'd have hung back anyway until he did. I didn't want him to see the hard on I had. He may not have thought anything of it; in the sunset he may not have even seen it, but I knew it was for him.

It was an innocent swim. He did laps in the dying light and then in the dark, the path he cut through the water lit only by the stars and moon. I had no idea how he managed to swim the same distance back and forth in a roughly straight line. Afterward we sat on our towels on the warm sand and talked until the warm night air had dried our skin. Then we walked back into the world, and I said good night to him at the radio hut and watched him walk on to the mission buildings and the small hospital.

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