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The Pitcher



After high school, I enrolled in Colorado College. I had never experienced freedom before, and I did not handle freedom well. I became an addict, first to sex and then to cocaine. It got so bad, I had to drop out after my third semester and spend forty-five days at The Meadows. When I left The Meadows, I returned home to a summer and fall of manual labor so I could work on my sobriety without the pressure of working at school.

The Story

I returned to Colorado Springs in January, totally transformed. I had left a self-indulgent boy. I returned a chaste and sober man, transformed more by Billy Jack's death than anything else I had experienced during my exile.

Originally, Billy Jack had just been a neighbor boy. But, he became so much more, including my first. When his father discovered us, he removed Billy Jack to a military school to "straighten him out."

It hadn't worked. During my summer of manual labor, I leaned he was back home, wasting away in his old room, his parents ashamed that he was the victim of a shameful disease. I had talked and walked with him and was there when he did, helpless against a disease for which there was no help to be had.

When I returned to Colorado College, I wore my long hair in a pony tail or a bun. I had a permanent shadow of hair on my face. I didn't groom it like George Michael; I let it coat my neck and my cheeks. I looked like Avi Kaplan from Pentatonix would later. I wore only white t-shirts, jeans, and sandals. I kept to myself, living a contemplative and solitary life. I eschewed television, choosing instead to mine my imagination by reading as much as I could.

I lived alone in a studio apartment. I listened to music, meditated, read, and studied. I had resolved to become a doctor. I wanted to treat HIV+ men.

I kept my resolution. I graduated Maxim Cum Laude, whomped the MCAT, and went to Washington University for medical school. While in St. Louis, I repeated my music, meditation, reading, and studying routine.

After medical school, I moved to Chicago to complete a fellowship in diseases of the immune system. I worked in clinics filled with HIV+ men. It was still too early in the crisis to treat them; there was no treatment. Mostly, I helped them die with whatever dignity I could. Considering how ravaged they typically were, it was generally not much.

At first, the recurring deaths touched me. Eventually, they numbed me. It was not something I chose to do, but I walled myself off from others, subconsciously trying to ensure that whatever crises or tragedies hit family and friends did not similarly hit me.

When I was thirty-four, my wall crumbled to the ground. I was supposed to meet a blind date for drinks at the Drake, a beautiful hotel in Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Unenthused about the blind date part, I got a late start. I may have been sabotaging myself. I don't know. In any event, I arrived more than fashionably late. When I did, there was only one man sitting alone at the bar, but he seemed too young and, frankly, too handsome to be the person my friend had described to me. I approached him cautiously.

"Hi," I said, leaning into his line of sight. "I'm Matthias," I added, my hand extended.

He eyed me suspiciously before extending his hand to me and announcing, "I'm Jake."

Jake was definitely the wrong guy. I was meeting a Michael, not a Jake. I should have asked "Are you Michael?" instead of just introducing myself.

"Sorry," I said. "You're the wrong guy."

"Maybe, maybe not," he answered, surprising me.

"I'm supposed to be meeting someone named Michael. For a blind date."

Jake slowly scanned the room, silently concluding - as I had - that Michael was not there. "Have a drink with me," he said, "while you wait."

I almost offered that I thought my wait was over, that I was tardy, and that I expected Michael had already exited, believing I had stood him up. At the last second, I chose to remain silent.

"Okay," I said.

"Paul, can you get my new friend a drink?" Jake called.

Paul, the towering African-American man behind the bar, ambled over, took my Rum and Diet Coke order, and slid another dirty martini to Jake. After running his lips along the edge of the glass, Jake patted the chair next to him.

Over the next two hours, Jake bombarded me with questions. I didn't realize it, but he was practicing the conversational art of getting the other person to talk about himself. By the time he suggested I was being stood up, he knew my age, my occupation, that I had only one sister, how and why I had chosen my occupation (including the story of Billy Jack and his death), the addiction to coke, and my speculation that I was 65/35 gay.

When I told him about the coke, he motioned his head toward my drink.

"I stayed away from it for a few years," I said. "But I've never had a problem with alcohol. Or pot. Really, it was just coke. Once I started it, I couldn't stop."

"I've never tried it."


After the first hour, I admitted to him that I did not think I was being stood up. I told him I had dawdled and shown up very late for the blind date, which had been the idea of one of the nurses in the clinic at which I worked. She had tried to date me. To dissuade her, I had pleaded homosexuality. She had pivoted by offering her friend Michael, whom she described as the Will to her Grace.

"Is tardiness one of your things?"Jake asked.

"No," I answered. "I'm normally very punctual. I come from Austrians. We're a punctual people."

"Well," he said and smiled. "I guess it's lucky for me today is not a normal day for you."

I raised my eyebrows at him in response. He raised one eyebrow back at me and smiled one of the most mischievous smiles I had ever seen. With that, he had me. I've always been a sucker for a single raised eyebrow, especially one like his, thick but with a scar through it.

"How'd you get that scar?" I asked.

"Rambunctious childhood. I'm the youngest of four boys. The first time my parents left my oldest brother in charge, my brother - the one closest to me in age - flung me into the refrigerator. It split my forehead open, right through my eyebrow."

"Four boys sounds rambunctious."

"It was. We're best friends now, but we spent our childhoods trying to kill each other and ourselves. We were a parade of broken bones and broken skin. It seemed like one of us was always in a cast or stitched up."

"I like it."

"I do, too. It gives my face character."

His face didn't need character. Jake was an exceedingly handsome man, with a long face that fit his long frame perfectly. As he sipped his martini, I noticed how thick his wrists were. I had reached six feet, but I a slight build, with thin ankles and wrists. The thickness of Jake's wrists suggested a build the opposite of mine.

I also noticed how perfectly manicured his nails were. Jake was a man who took care of himself and paid attention to detail.

During the second hour, Jake talked a little more. Not much, but a little. He was either more interested in listening than talking or was guarding himself.

Finally, Jake offered that it was getting late. He was right. My date was supposed to have started at 8, I had arrived at 8:30, and it was now 10:30. I had become a convert to "early to bed and early to rise"; 10:30 was very late for me.

Paul slid Jake the tab. Jake completed it and slid it back to Paul, softly whispering something as he did. I offered Jake a twenty for my drinks. He sneered at it.

"It was very nice meeting you, Matthew. Thank you for keeping me company."

"It was nice meeting you, too Jake. I enjoyed our visit. And, it's Matthias, not Matthew."

"Sorry about that," Jake said, shaking my hand, holding it a hint longer than I expected, and then turning away. I watched him go. His broad shoulders, narrow waist, and thick thighs held my gaze.

When Jake was out of sight, I turned back to the bar. "It was nice meeting you, too, Paul," I said.

Paul didn't answer me. He simply slid a folded piece of paper to me and said, "Sir, this is for you. Mister Jake asked that I give it to you once he was gone."

It was the tab. Unfolded, it read "THE DOOR TO 1717 WILL BE OPEN."

Jake hadn't completed the tab. In perfectly formed block letters, he had crafted an invitation.

I was titillated. I assumed the subterfuge was so no one would see us together, which I took to mean he was married. Normally, I didn't dabble with the marrieds. But, I was needier than I had been in a long time, and Jake was hotter than the pool in which I normally swam. Jake was at least a nine. I had grown accustomed to fives.

I went outside for a cigarette. I had stopped for a long time, but had restarted when I moved to Chicago. I saw too much carnage. I needed something to calm me.

Over the past year, I had cut back dramatically. Not because it was bad for me, but because I was vain. I could tell smoking was aging my face.

I smoked only when anxious, and a secret note from a stranger in a bar certainly made me anxious. So did the prospect of sex. It had been over a year for me.

After two long pulls, I flicked the cigarette away, popped cinnamon gum into my mouth, and made my way toward room 1717. As I did, I engaged in an internal debate, the outcome of which was predetermined:

He's married, and you shouldn't do this to her.

Neither his marriage nor is wife is yours to protect.

You're too far along to turn back for a closet case.

It's not forever, it's just for now.

Fall in bed, not in love.

As I knew I would, I found myself standing before 1717. I was about to knock, but then I remembered the note had said the door would be open. I turned the knob, the latch gave, and I slipped quietly in.

Jake was sitting on the edge of the bed, his shoes and socks off and his oxford unbuttoned to the middle of his chest.

"I wasn't sure you'd come," he said.

"I wasn't either."

"I'm glad you did."

"I'm not sure I am."

"You will be. And, sorry about the secrecy. In my business, I have to be very careful and very discreet."

"Really?" I asked, somewhat in disbelief. "What business is that?"

"I'd rather not say," he said, standing up and sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

"Is it the business of being married?"

"No," he answered matter of factly and holding up his hand, as if he couldn't have a ring tucked away somewhere. "I'm not married. But, I am in the public eye, and so I have to be very careful and very discreet."

I looked at him closely. I was trying to figure out if he was an actor or a politician. I couldn't place him in either milieu.

Almost all of me urged me to bolt. I had kind of given up on anonymous sex, and I didn't think I should retreat into it tonight.

But, like I said, Jake was exceedingly handsome. At well over six feet, he was taller than I. His curly, very dark brown hair was flattened around the top, suggesting he had worn a ball cap most of the day. His eyes were dark brown. His lips were red and full. He had a strong nose, hollowed cheeks, and a cleft in his chin. He smiled a lot. When he did, his smile revealed teeth that looked like they may have at one time been a little bucked, perhaps before braces and head gear had pulled them almost completely back in, leaving only a hint of buckedness. It also revealed deep divots in each cheek, kind of like dimples but not quite. When I years later saw pictures of Cardinals outfielder Randall Grichuk, I was reminded in my core of Jake.

Jake's body was very athletic, thick with the long muscles I envied. My muscles were short, good for fast twitch activities, but not lovely. Long muscles were sinewy. Short muscles were abrupt.

I didn't bolt. As we stood facing each other, both of us knew what was going to happen, but neither of us seemed to want responsibility for initiating it. We stood there, staring at each other, shifting and waiting.

Finally, he asked, "Are you clean?"

"Yeah," I answered. "You?"

"Of course," he answered, almost dismissively.

"Good. How do you want to do this?"

"Well . . . . I'm a bit of a romantic," he answered, surprising me. "I'm not much for a quickie. So, I guess I'd like to kiss you, and if that works, then I'd like to undress you, and if that works, then I'd like you to undress me, and if that works, then I'd like slowly to go as far as we are comfortable going."

I loved his plan. I, too, was not much for a quickie. Even in my series of one night stands, I preferred unhurried sex.

Before I could tell him so, he took my hand, pulled me into him, and lowered his face to mine. His lips were firm but soft. When he moved his hand to my neck, his tongue traced my lips. I opened my mouth, and he accepted the invitation, plunging his tongue into my mouth and ratcheting up the noise of the kiss.

Our kissing worked. Without removing his lips from mine, he fumbled with my belt buckle, unbuttoned my jeans, and started them down. As my hands moved my jeans down my thighs, he raised my shirt and moved his mouth to my neck and chest. As he licked my stomach, he helped me step out of my shoes and then my jeans. I pulled my shirt over my head and he made his way back up my body. When his mouth was back on mine, I was wearing only red briefs and black socks.

His undressing of me worked. I answered him by unbuttoning his oxford the rest of the way, exposing a hairy chest and a thick line trailing through his navel and into his jeans. As I moved my tongue through that hair, I opened his belt and then his pants. Pulling them down revealed tight white briefs and muscled legs covered in the same curly brown hair that covered his chest. As I helped him step out of his jeans, I stayed down in front of him. He was straining against the cotton of his briefs, which were soaked with precum, as if his dick was drooling. I slid my mouth over him through his briefs. He moaned, grabbed the back of my head, and pressed his erection into my face.

As I gripped his ass, he popped the elastic of his briefs and hooked it under his balls, revealing a dick that fit him perfectly, framed by a curly, thick bush. Like the rest of his body, his dick was shapely, uniform with a pink, bell-shaped head.

I licked the precum from him and then let the tip of my tongue tease his slit. I wanted to slow play the sex, but I quickly lost control of the pace. Jake grabbed my head again and pushed into my mouth. Just like that, he was in my throat and fucking my face. In no time at all, he said "Oh fuck, oh fuck, here it comes." My attempt to avoid having a stranger come in my mouth failed. Warm liquid flowed as Jake twitched. I refused to swallow. I held it in until Jake was done thrusting and then hustled to the bathroom, spitting into the sink all I could.

When I returned to the room, Jake was sitting on the edge of the bed. His body was covered with sweat. I was trying to decide whether I was annoyed he had assumed he could come in my mouth when he disarmed me.

"Thank you," he said, smiling at me through glassy eyes. "That was awesome."

I didn't want to spoil the fun. "You're welcome. It was."

"I'm sorry about the finish. It caught me by surprise. I didn't mean to force you. But, it's been awhile. I thought I would last longer."

"Thank you," I said. "I don't normally do that."

"Let a guy come in your mouth?"

"No. Let a strange guy come in my mouth."

"I'm not strange," he said, again smiling at me. "I'm actually incredibly normal."

I smiled back at him. "Okay," I said. "I don't normally let a guy I don't know very well come in my mouth."

"I have it from reliable sources that my cum tastes good. Sweet, even."

He was right. Although I had spit, I could still taste him. It was sweet. He had to drink or eat a lot pineapple.

"Sources?" I asked, emphasizing the plurality of it all. "I thought you said it has been awhile."

"It has. But, it hasn't been forever. . . . Come here," he said, patting the bed. "I want to return the favor."

I moved to the bed. He moved between my legs. He kneaded my calves as he took me in his mouth and slicked me all the way to the base. He continued to knead my calves as he deep throated me over and over. I leaned back on my elbows and watched, mesmerized by the disappearance and re-appearance of my shaft between his juicy red lips. He raised his eyes and watched me watch him. He swirled his tongue around my glans. He started sucking me with purpose, his eyes never leaving mine. My toes curled. My leg muscles tensed. My balls clenched, and I cried out "Oh, God, I'm gonna come, I'm gonna come."

He did not heed my warning. I unloaded deep in his throat, my hips raised and my head thrashing back and forth before a quiver shook my whole body and I collapsed off my elbows.

"How was that?" he asked, sliding up next to me.

"As good as it gets," I answered. I wasn't exaggerating. The intimacy of the eye contact and the power of his mouth had overwhelmed me. "I haven't come that hard in a long time."

"You gave me a lot."

"Sorry about that. I've had an extended vacation from sex . . . . At least sex with others."

"Don't be sorry. I liked it. It tasted good," he said. "Like your lips," he added, lowering his mouth to mine. I could taste myself on his tongue. He was right. I tasted good. Or, at least, not bad.

We kissed for a long time, stopping only to move solidly into the bed and onto the pillows. As we kissed, our hands traveled over each other wherever they could reach.

Lust overwhelmed me. His body was extremely athletic and fit. He had to be on a strict diet.

I was well-built, but mushy compared to him. I found the gym a major bore. I preferred to work out at home, alone.

He moved over me, lowered his face to my ear, and bit my earlobe. "I want to fuck you," he whispered. "Tell me you want me to fuck you."

I was vexed. I didn't normally bottom for strangers. I tried to reserve intercourse for possibilities.

But, I also didn't normally lure the Jakes of the world. I was inclined to give the handsome stranger latitude I wouldn't have given others.

"I want you to fuck me," I answered, resolving my vexation. "I want you to fuck me right now," I added, plaintively.

"Tell me you want me to fuck you as hard I can."

"I want you to fuck me as hard as you can," I answered, again plaintively.

He reached into a gym bag and pulled out a condom and some lube. I watched as he rolled the condom on, which was one of my favorite sights. It always filled me with desire.

After he had coated himself and me, I grabbed him and guided him toward me. Normally, I would have wanted some preparatory work, either with a finger, a tongue, or both. At that moment, I was so thick with desire, I wanted nothing other than to feel him fill me.

"Can I bind your hands?" he asked.

I had never been tied up. The prospect immediately made me nervous. It would make me an easy mark, secreted into room 1717. No one knew where I was.

"I don't know," I stalled. "It's not really my thing."

"It's kinda mine. I'll go easy. I won't do anything you don't want me to do."

I don't know why, but trust flooded through me. "Okay," I answered.

Jake reached into the same bag and pulled out a piece of corded rope.

"You travel with rope?"

"I do. I was in the Boy Scouts. I like to be prepared. Do you want to be on your back or your stomach?"

"Back, please. I want to be able to watch you do what you do."

"Cool. I want to watch you watching me."

I settled in the middle of the bed, my erection betraying my anxiety. I put my hands together over my head, and Jake tied them through the headboard. The knot was tight enough that it was secure but not so tight it hurt. My anxiety ebbed a bit. If he was going to roll me, I doubt he'd have cared if my wrists were bound too tight.

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