Chapter 04

First Love, First Time

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SUMMARY: The year is 1973 and Lane Bailey is a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. A homosexual with ambivalent but often negative feelings about his sexuality, he also has a strong attraction to his brightest student, a Harvard junior named Paul. As graduation approaches, his conflicted feelings and despair grow and he tries to recall a time when he was not homosexual. That arouses powerful boyhood memories. What follows is a journey of self-discovery, one in which Lane eventually comes to a better understanding of himself and ends up learning much about life, love and sex in the process. Please note that italics are typically used to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.

WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Unless otherwise indicated, all of the characters in the story are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. While certain places described or mentioned in the story are real, liberties may have been taken with the truth to enhance the story. This story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you don’t like or approve of such discussions or it’s illegal for you to read such material, consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.

NOTICE: This story is my property and protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. It may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author. However, you may not use this work for commercial purposes or to profit from it in any way. You may not use any of the characters or fictional places in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon the story in any way. If you share this story with others, you must make clear the terms under which it is licensed to them. The best way to do that is by linking to this web page.

NOTES: Please check these notes every week. If there’s something I want to alert you to as I post each chapter, this is where I will I do so. March 7, 2016: If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to read both last Thursday’s post and my posting earlier today about the Witch Hunt against homosexuals conducted by Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell before reading Chapter 4. I also want to thank those of you who Like my chapters anonymously. Although WordPress may refer me to your site if you have one, it doesn’t reveal your e-mail address if you don’t so I can’t really thank you in person. But I appreciate knowing you’re enjoying the story.

FIRST LOVE, FIRST TIME

Part 1 – Lane’s Story

Chapter 4

The following week I flew to Washington for my interview at the Library of Congress. I quickly discovered that one of their senior policy analysts was being given a year off to write a book about the different ways Congress can hold the President and courts accountable.

He needed someone to assist him and that was why I was being interviewed. I would be doing research on a variety of topics and also be asked to write a chapter on impeachment, one of the more obscure tools used by Congress to hold other governmental officials accountable.

Knowing how rarely impeachment had been invoked over the years, that sounded boring. Nonetheless, I did my best to conceal my lack of enthusiasm.

As far as I could tell, everything went well during the interview. Without other prospects, I had little choice except to hope the job would come through. The following Monday I heard that it had. Having no other job offers in hand, I promptly accepted.

I hadn’t run into Ken in a while so I was surprised when he stopped by to see me a couple of nights later.

“I have some good news, some better news, and a favor to ask,” he said. “Which would you like to hear first?”

“Tell me in whatever order you want,” I replied, playing along.

“Okay,” Ken said, smiling. “The good news is that I finally got around to asking Amelia to marry me. The better news is she accepted.”

“That’s terrific,” I replied, not entirely surprised given what I knew about their relationship. “I’m happy for both of you. When are you going to tie the knot?”

“Later this month,” Ken responded. “We’ve reserved Memorial Church in the Yard and it’s going to be a very small affair. We’re just going to invite the immediate families and a few of our friends here at Harvard. That includes you, of course, Lane.”

“Thank you,” I replied, trying to be polite; although the truth is I wasn’t looking forward to the event.

I was happy for Ken and Amelia, but the wedding would only remind me again I had no one special in my life and never would. Certainly there would never be a marriage for me like Ken and Amelia.

“And that brings me to the favor I need to ask,” Ken continued. “I’d like you to be my best man at the wedding. You’ve been my best friend at Harvard these last five years. There’s no one I’d rather have.”

“Uh, well, I appreciate that,” I said, surprised. “Though I have to tell you I’ve never been someone’s best man before. I don’t have a clue what that entails.”

“There’s really not very much to it,” he said, trying to reassure me. “I’m told the two main tasks expected of a best man are keeping track of the wedding ring before the ceremony and paying the minister afterwards.”

“Not that you’ll be paying, of course. I’m the one on the hook to shell out the money, but I can’t do that once Amelia and I have departed the building after the ceremony is over. That’s where you come in. I’ll give you the money so you can pay the fellow for me after the wedding.”

“I’m really glad Amelia didn’t insist on a big religious ceremony in a more traditional church,” he added. “You know how much I detest organized religion.”

“I do,” I said.

Having discussed it with him many times previously, I knew Ken was an atheist and more passionate in denouncing organized religion than I was.

“By the way, Lane, I heard Brown University has an opening in their History Department if you’re still looking for one.”

“Thanks,” I replied, “but they hired Allen Reeves for that position months ago.”

“I know,” Ken replied. “But they’ve withdrawn the offer and reopened their search.”

“Why?” I asked, surprised.

“Because Allen was arrested for soliciting a prostitute outside some place called the Playland Café in Boston last Thursday.”

“A prostitute; Allen?” I asked, incredulous. “I don’t believe it. With so many women in Cambridge looking to meet Harvard men, why would Allen do something like that?”

“It’s true,” Ken insisted. “And it wasn’t just any prostitute; it was a male prostitute. Do you believe that? From what I’m told, that bar is pretty seedy and caters to sexual deviants. It all came out, of course, and Allen was forced to tell Brown. It’s not surprising they withdrew their offer under the circumstances.”

Hearing that left me stunned, more than stunned, really; shocked. I only knew Allen in passing, but I had congratulated him the previous month when I heard about his good fortune. I couldn’t believe what Ken was telling me now.

“I, uh . . . I don’t know what to say,” I replied, confused.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Ken said. “What’s there to say? The whole thing is bizarre to say the least; disgusting really. I wouldn’t have said anything at all except I know you have your heart set on a teaching job and that’s a great one. But you’ll need to submit your application quickly if you’re interested.”

“I can’t do that,” I responded. “I had an interview last week for that research job I mentioned to you earlier and accepted when they offered it to me. I’m disappointed I won’t be teaching next year. Not having any other offers in hand, I didn’t feel like I had any choice.”

“I can relate to that,” Ken said. “When do you start?”

“In September,” I replied. “I’ll have to go down in late August to find a place to live. But not knowing what the coming year would bring, I signed up for a job as a summer school proctor. That’ll keep me tied up until August.”

“You can stay at our place when you come down to look if you want,” Ken volunteered. “I got offered that job at the University of Maryland’s new Baltimore campus. We’re going to move down there right after the wedding so I can spend the summer trying to get further along with my dissertation.”

“I envy you, Lane; you were smart,” he added. “Unlike me, you finished your dissertation before starting work. With the teaching load I’ll be carrying next year, I don’t know when I’m going to find time to finish mine.”

“I’m hoping I can make a lot of progress this summer,” he added. “Amelia’s job will have to keep us afloat until school opens in September.”

“Ah, I see,” I said, grinning. “You’re going to be a kept man. I wish I could say the same for myself.”

“Washington will be good for you, Lane,” Ken said. “You’ll have more time for a social life once you get there; and if you don’t, I’m sure Amelia will do her best to find a suitable young lady for you.”

“Let’s hope so,” I said, amused by the thought, but trying to be polite nonetheless.

When Ken finally left, I spent much of the rest of the evening trying to make sense of what he had told me about Allen; and yet, try as hard as I did, I couldn’t make sense of it.

Like I said, I didn’t have a clue Allen was . . . .

Was what, Lane?

Was interested in men.

So now you know.

But why would he do something like that; try to hire a prostitute? He had everything going for him. He had passed his oral exam. His dissertation had been accepted. And he had landed the perfect job at an excellent university. Why would he risk everything knowing that?

Why do think, Lane? He was probably lonely like you. Is it really that surprising? It could have been you.

Never! I insisted. I don’t even know where the Combat Zone is; even if I did, that’s not what I’m interested in.

Are you sure about that, Lane? Do you plan to remain celibate the rest of your life?

****

As the final weeks of the semester wound down, I found myself getting depressed. I hadn’t realized it, but I had enjoyed my years at Harvard. The first two had been hard; the course work, the competition to prove myself with peers and faculty, the ongoing loneliness that came from the realization I was homosexual.

There had been times those first two years when I considered dropping out. Everyone seemed so much smarter than me, so much more adept at making friends and enjoying themselves. But I had persisted, largely thanks to Professor Jeffords. He had taken me under his wing early on and seemed to see something in me that I didn’t.

The last three years had actually been pretty enjoyable, especially the teaching and my time at Winthrop. It had taken a while to come up with a dissertation topic, but I had buckled down and worked hard once I did. I thought that was because I wanted to be finished with school once and for all; to be out in the real world on my own.

But now I realized just how much I would miss Harvard, especially all the time I had spent with the undergraduates.

As May progressed I found myself spending more and more time at Winthrop; not surprisingly, much of that time involved having lunch and dinner with Paul and his friends.

One night after dinner late in the month I was on my way out of the building when Paul caught up to me.

“Um, I was wondering whether I could talk to you about something,” he said.

“Of course, Paul; you know how much I enjoy talking to you. Do you want to talk now or over lunch tomorrow?” I asked.

“I have one of my exams tomorrow afternoon,” he replied, “so I can’t do it this evening or even at lunch. But tomorrow evening would be good if you’re planning to be here for dinner. Not that you have to be, of course, but we’ve gotten used to seeing you at dinner on Friday evening.”

I remember being frustrated.

“Actually I have a wedding rehearsal tomorrow night,” I said. “One of my fellow graduate students is getting married Saturday morning and I’m going to be the best man.”

“That’s sad, don’t you think?” I added, trying to be ironic; “me; the best man?”

It was my little way of telling Paul I wasn’t much of a man at all. And yet, knowing it would go over his head, I wasn’t surprised when he objected.

“I’m sure you’ll do a terrific job,” he said. “It’s not like anyone except the bride remembers anything about things like that. As long as you don’t lose the ring or show up naked, everything will be fine.”

“Now there’s a thought,” I said, smiling; “showing up naked at a wedding. That would certainly get a bit of attention and I could blame it all on you, Paul.”

“But I digress,” I added. “The point is I won’t be here for dinner tomorrow night, but I could come by later in the evening after the rehearsal if that works for you. Should I come by your room?”

“Oh, jeez, I hate to make you come all the way down here on a Friday night,” Paul responded.

“It isn’t a problem,” I said. “The alternative is going back to my room and shooting myself.”

From the surprised look on his face, I could tell Paul was concerned.

“Just kidding,” I added. “I’ve been a bit depressed lately at the thought of leaving this place. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve actually come to realize how much I’ve enjoyed my time at Harvard. I’m going to miss the place.”

“And you’re going to be missed as well,” Paul said, staring at me. “Everyone at Winthrop is sorry you won’t be around next year. You’ve done a lot for us. More than most of the resident tutors, that’s for sure; at least that’s what everyone says. You’re always there no matter what; always bucking us up no matter how depressed we are.”

“I can’t believe you won’t be here next year,” he added, looking into my eyes. “I don’t know what I’ll do. You’re one of the best friends I have on campus; certainly you’re my closest friend among the faculty. I admire you so much.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “That means a lot coming from you. I think it’s been the interaction with students like you I’ve enjoyed the most, Paul; that and spending time with Professor Jeffords. But what do you think? Should I come by tomorrow around 10:00 o’clock?”

“If it’s not too much of a problem, that would be terrific,” Paul said. “But, uh, I was wondering whether we could talk at your office. There isn’t a lot of privacy in our rooms and I’d be more comfortable talking with you there.”

“That’s fine,” I responded. “I’ll see you tomorrow night around 10:00; or call if I’m running late.”

“See you tomorrow,” Paul said, turning around and racing toward Standish Hall.

I wonder what he wants to talk about?

Probably nothing important; if only once, I wish could talk to Paul seriously, tell how much I care about him, how much he means to me.

I had toyed with the idea from time to time, but realized by now there was no chance of that ever happening. Always thinking there would be a better opportunity, I had repeatedly put off having the kind of talk I really wanted to have with Paul.

In the end, I had proven a coward; too ashamed of myself to tell him the truth, to tell anyone the truth for that matter. Now the year was almost over and soon both of us would be going our separate ways. Standing there alone in the courtyard, I could feel tears welling in the back of my eyes.

Oh yeah, right; show everyone how big a sissy you really are, Lane.

Suppressing the urge to cry, I turned and headed back to Conant Hall.

****

At last! I recall thinking.

The wedding rehearsal for Ken and Amelia was finally over and now we were standing around outside Memorial Church finalizing our plans for the big event the next morning. The rehearsal had gone well; at least it had gone well from my perspective. I had avoided making any mistakes as best I could tell.

All my life I had worried about making mistakes; doing the wrong thing. Where that hidden fear came from is hard to say although it probably had something to do with being raised Catholic by an unusually scrupulous mother.

She didn’t like it when her children made mistakes and was quick to point them out whenever we did. It had been years since I had actually lived at home for any extended period of time, but I still worried about making mistakes even now.

Whatever the reason, I was glad the rehearsal had gone uneventfully.

Looking around, I remember feeling awkward. It wasn’t just Ken and Amelia who were getting married the next day. Two families, complete strangers to one another up until a few weeks ago, were being joined together as well. Now they were standing around talking; trying their best to get to know one another.

My ostensible companion for the evening, the maid of honor, was a stranger to me, but she knew all the bridesmaids and had quickly abandoned me for them. Even if I wanted to, which I didn’t, there was no one for me to talk to and yet I realized it was too soon for me to leave. Politeness dictated I stand there by myself and try to avoid looking bored, which I was.

Seeing my plight, Amelia broke away from her friends and walked over to me. As soon to be brides tend to be, she was radiant.

“I’m so excited to know we’re going to be living close to one another, Lane,” she said, smiling at me. “You’ll have to come visit us often. The apartment Ken rented has a guest room and you’re the only one who’s going to be close enough to make use of it on a regular basis. You’ll always be welcome to come for a visit.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I’ve never lived outside Massachusetts so moving to Washington will be a big change for me. Knowing you and Ken will be just up the road in Baltimore is reassuring, that’s for sure; but it’s hard to know how often I’ll be able to visit the two of you.”

“I want to make a good impression at work and don’t really know what the job entails or how time consuming it’ll be,” I added.

“Oh, posh, you don’t need to worry about the job, Lane,” Amelia said, dismissing my concern. “Knowing how conscientious you are, I’m sure you’ll do find. I also realize you’ll have better things to do on your weekends than come visit an old married couple like us. But just so you know, you’re welcome to bring along a guest whenever you come for a visit.”

I don’t think so, Amelia, I said to myself.

Even if I could find someone to bring, I doubt the two of you would be happy with my choice of a visiting companion.

“You can probably forget about that,” I said. “You know how socially inept I am.”

“You’re very good looking, Lane, just a bit too shy and withdrawn,” she replied, smiling at me still again. “As for being socially inept, I can help with that. Now that I’m married I’ll have plenty of time to fix you up with one of those young ladies I’ll be teaching at Goucher College. A little female companionship would do wonders for you; and for your social skills as well.”

It made me laugh. We had known one another for more than a year and yet Amelia obviously still didn’t have a clue I wasn’t interested in girls.

“We’ll have to see about that,” I replied. “Unlike Ken, I’m not anxious to get married and settle down anytime soon. I may remain a bachelor for a long time. It has its downsides, of course, but at least you don’t have to shower and shave on the weekends for someone.”

That caused Amelia to laugh and seeing her laugh I recall thinking Ken had made an excellent choice in a bride. She was beautiful; more than beautiful, however, she was a kind and helpful person and would fill in many of Ken’s rough edges if he let her do so.

We chatted a while longer. Then, after checking with Ken one final time to see whether anything further was expected of me that evening, I took my leave. It was about 9:45 p.m. so I had plenty of time to get to Winthrop for my meeting with Paul.

****

Walking south through the Yard, I was struck by how quiet things were for a Friday evening. Busy as it was during the week, there was nothing much going on inside the walls that separated Harvard from the surrounding community this evening. Perhaps it was because all the freshmen were burrowed away inside Lamont studying for final examinations.

Or perhaps it’s because they’re off somewhere having fun, Lane; unlike some people we know.

Emerging on to Massachusetts Avenue, I looked west toward the Square. Things were definitely livelier there, but much of that was because people were on their way to or from the train station. Not many were lingering in the Square itself.

Crossing Massachusetts Avenue, I walked south on Holyoke Street. Within a couple of minutes I entered Winthrop House and headed for my office. No one was there when I arrived. Unsurprisingly for a Friday evening, the whole corridor was abandoned; so much so I wondered whether Paul would remember our appointment.

Opening the door, I turned on the light and started looking at some papers that remained to be graded. Within a few minutes I heard a gentle rap on the door.

“Come in,” I said.

Paul entered and quickly sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk from me. He was dressed casually, but the clothes looked good on him. Unlike me, he had a sense of style and fit in perfectly at Harvard. By contrast, my clothes looked like they had been picked up at some consignment shop in farm country.

“How did the wedding rehearsal go?” he inquired, politely.

“It went fine,” I replied. “I think we’re as ready as we’ll ever be and I don’t expect either the bride or the groom to back out at the last minute. That being the case, I plan to arrive just a little early. The wedding is at 10:00 a.m.”

“That’s good,” Paul said, nodding his head as if he was actually interested in what I was saying. Doubting he was, I waited for him to say something more but he didn’t.

“As I recall, you wanted to ask me something,” I said, nudging him.

“Oh, yeah; right,” he replied, shifting in his chair.

He seemed uncomfortable, which wasn’t surprising as the chair was wooden and a bit rickety.

“Uh, well, to be honest, I’ve been wondering whether I should even raise this,” he finally volunteered. “It’s probably not something I should be wasting your time on.”

“I’ve never found talking with you a waste of time, Paul,” I said. “I enjoy it. We’ve had some very interesting conversations this past year and I’m going to miss that when I move to Washington. In any event, I’m already here so you may as well go ahead.”

Paul nodded, but didn’t say anything; still reluctant as best I could tell.

“Not that my advice will necessarily be worth much, of course,” I added, trying to put him at ease. “Just because I’m a Teaching Fellow doesn’t mean I’m any smarter than you or better at solving all those little problems and issues life tosses at us.”

“But that’s the point,” Paul said. “You’re a Teaching Fellow and I suspect you may have a different perspective on this than I do.”

“Perhaps,” I said, grinning at him. “But we’ll never know, will we, unless you tell me what’s on your mind?”

“I suppose,” he agreed, fidgeting.

“Uh, well, the thing is, I have this friend,” he said, tentatively, looking directly at me. “He’s, uh, this guy I know from my lacrosse team; we have this class together and we’ve became pretty good friends over the course of the year.”

“And, uh, he has this problem with one of his Teaching Fellows and asked for my advice,” Paul continued; “and, um, after he explained the whole thing to me, I told him I’d think about it and get back to him.”

“I see,” I responded, nodding my head.

“The point is this isn’t really my problem,” he continued. “I wanted you to know that right off the bat. But it is for my friend; and, uh, I was wondering what advice you’d give him.”

“Sure,” I said. “I understand. What’s the problem exactly?”

“The problem is that my friend has, uh . . . he’s, uh . . . he’s developed feelings for one of his Teaching Fellows,” Paul stammered. “Romantic feelings; you know what I mean?”

Great, I said to myself. Paul has a friend with girl problems and wants my advice. How ironic.

I could tell where this was going immediately and wasn’t sure I wanted to go there, but I was the one who had encouraged Paul to continue so I just nodded my head again, indicating I understood what he was saying.

“And, uh, he’s pretty sure this Teaching Fellow feels the same way about him. He’s not positive about that, but he’s pretty certain and, uh, now he’s wondering whether it’s okay for him to pursue this; and if he’s right about how this Teaching Fellow feels, whether it would be appropriate for the two of them to, uh, you know . . . uh . . . .”

“Pursue a romantic relationship,” I volunteered, trying to help Paul out as his words drifted off into silence.

“Right,” he replied, shifting uncomfortably in his chair again.

“And do you know the young woman in question?” I asked.

“Uh . . . uh . . . no; no I don’t,” Paul replied, looking away. “I’ve, uh . . . I’ve never met her; at least not that I’m aware of. In any event, like I said, I told him I’d have to think about this since it’s something serious and I’m not sure what the right thing to tell him is.”

“And how do you feel about it, Paul?” I responded, knowing what I should say but more interested in getting his take on things.

“That’s the thing,” he replied. “I’m not sure what I think. I mean, on the one hand, my friend is pretty mature for his age; he’s not some freshman or anything like that. I think he’s probably old enough to make a decision like this for himself.”

“On the other hand, we’re talking about someone older than him,” he added. “And it’s not like he’s absolutely sure this Teaching Fellow shares his feelings. But he thinks that’s the case; at least that’s what he told me. And, uh, they’re obviously old enough and mature enough to make their own decision and to be in that kind of relationship.”

“But he’s never actually raised this with his Teaching Fellow?” I asked.

“Uh, no; not directly,” Paul said, shifting still again in his chair. “But they’ve spent quite a bit of time together this past year. I guess this Teaching Fellow is a tutor at his house, Lowell House; and the two of them see a lot of each other and he thinks he’s genuinely fond of his Teaching Fellow.”

“I see; but she’s his Teaching Fellow, Paul,” I finally said, trying to come straight to the point. “I don’t know what course we’re talking about or her exact role, but she sounds like someone who may end up deciding his grade for the semester; or at least having significant input about his grade.”

“That puts her in a position of authority over him,” I continued. “Don’t you think a romantic relationship might compromise one or both of them in their respective roles as teacher and student?”

“I thought about that,” Paul said, “but I don’t see why it necessarily has to. Like I said, they’re both mature individuals and I think they could probably distinguish between their personal and academic relationships.”

“Are you sure?” I replied, surprised. “I don’t know about that. Personally I think it would be hard. She might feel pressured to give him the best grade possible because she likes him, assuming she does like him, of course; or at least her judgment of him as a student might be affected by her feelings about him.”

“And what would happen if she gave him a lower grade she considered fair based on his performance in class?” I continued. “Might he not be offended if she did something like that?”

“I suppose that could happen,” Paul conceded, nodding his head. “But the semester is almost over and he’s pretty certain he’s getting an A no matter what. What if they waited until after they were no longer in that teacher-student relationship? Wouldn’t it be okay then?”

It was obvious by now Paul had given this some thought; certainly more than I had. Given my own feelings for Paul, I was conflicted to say the least.

“I don’t know,” I finally replied. “You’re more familiar with the exact details here than I am; and yet at the same time it seems like we’re dealing with a bunch of hypotheticals. What if this woman doesn’t feel exactly the same as your friend? What if she isn’t around next semester; or she is around and the two of them have another class together?”

“It’s hard to know what to say exactly, but the one thing I can tell you for sure is that Harvard frowns on relationships between students and faculty even if they aren’t in a direct supervisory relationship; and faculty would include Teaching Fellows, of course.”

“That’s something I’ve heard a million times and I guess I should stick with it as the best advice I can give under the circumstances.”

“I see,” Paul said. “So you’re telling me I should discourage my friend from pursuing this?”

“I guess that would be my advice,” I replied. “But you know your friend better than I do and he’s asking for your advice after all, not mine; and it is advice, of course. In the end, this is something your friend will have to decide for himself.”

“I suppose,” Paul said, seemingly disappointed with the lack of help I had provided. “I probably never should have raised this with you.”

“It’s not a problem, Paul,” I responded. “I’m happy you were comfortable enough to do so. I’m just sorry I can’t give you better advice; and, like I said, I’m not sure my opinion counts for much in any event.”

“No; I appreciate having your advice,” Paul said. “I’ll definitely think about it some more before talking to my friend.”

“Good,” I replied. “Knowing you, Paul, I’m sure you’ll do the right thing. You have excellent judgment for one so young.”

“Do you really think so?” Paul asked. “Sometimes I wonder about that.”

“You shouldn’t,” I said. “There aren’t many students whose judgment I trust more than yours. You’re a very bright and talented young man, Paul.”

Embarrassed by my praise, he blushed.

“Uh, well, I guess I should be going,” he said, standing up. “I know you’re graduating soon and I wanted to talk to you about this before you did. I’m definitely going to miss you next year. Will I see you before you leave for Washington?”

“I hope so,” I said. “But it’s not like I’m leaving immediately after I graduate. Not certain about my job prospects next autumn, I signed up to be a proctor in the Yard this summer. Summer school starts in a few weeks. I plan to go home for a week or two and then come back here around mid-June just before it starts.”

“Being a proctor means I get free room and board in the Yard as well as a small stipend. I’ll earn more helping Professor Jeffords index the book he’ll be publishing later this year. Who knows? I may even have time to work on getting an article or two out of my dissertation as well.”

“None of those things should be very taxing so perhaps I’ll even be able to squeeze in a little fun now and then,” I added. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had any.”

“That’s amazing,” Paul said, suddenly animated.

To my surprise he sat down again.

“You didn’t mention any of that before,” he continued; “I mean, you didn’t mention you’d be around for the summer.”

“That’s because I didn’t think you’d be interested in my summer plans,” I responded. “You’ll be home in Oregon having some actual fun I assume.”

“No,” he responded. “It sounds like both of us will be doing the same thing; at least kind of. Like you, I’m going home for a couple of weeks after I finish my last exam. But then I plan to come back to Cambridge for the rest of the summer. I’ve lined up a job; two actually. One’s at The Coop weekdays and then I’ll be a waiter at Mr. Bartley’s on Saturdays.”

“That sounds great,” I responded, excited to know our talk this evening might not be our last.

“Who knows? Maybe our paths will cross during the summer; although it sounds like you’ll be busier than me,” I added, anxious not to get my hopes up too much.

“From what I gather, the main job of a proctor in summer school is being there to help the students with any questions they have. I’m told they hardly ever have any, at least for a proctor. The other chief duty is making sure they don’t burn down the residence hall. Harvard is quite insistent about that.”

“Which residence hall will you be proctoring in?” Paul asked.

Wigglesworth,” I said.

“Oh, that’s great,” he responded. “I was in Wigg C as a freshman.”

“I’m not sure where they plan to put me yet,” I said, “but I wouldn’t think it would be hard to find me; and if you don’t, maybe I’ll stop in at Mr. Bartley’s and see whether you’re around some Saturday.”

“Please do,” Paul said. “I’ll be working the lunch shift so at least I’ll have my nights free; Sundays as well. And since it doesn’t seem like anyone I know will be around Cambridge this summer except Anderson, perhaps we could get together sometime. I’d rather spend time with you than him.”

“Me too,” I responded, delighted by this turn of events and yet concerned as well.

Really, Lane; you want to torture yourself with Paul for another two months? A year hasn’t been enough?

“Well, then, it’s agreed,” I added. “We’ll try to be in touch sometime after mid-June; and keep in mind there aren’t that many entrances at Wigglesworth. You’ll find me if you persist.”

“I will,” Paul said. “Count on it.”

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6 thoughts on “Chapter 04

  1. So close and then so far out of reach for now. Lane is so inside of his head he can’t see what’s before him. I still think it’s better for him to be cautious with the student/teacher relationship. He has more to lose than Paul does being he’s the teacher.

  2. As usual a well written chapter. I am certain that Paul was talking about himself and that he is more than just admiring Lanes intellect, but he is sexually attracted to him.

    We now have the summer to look forward to and as I am a romantic I want Lane to come clean to himself and come out of his shell and find some way of expressing his sexual side.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Graham. I kind of had the same impression as you that Paul was talking about himself; trying to send a signal to Lane although without actually exposing himself completely. It is 1973 after all.

      As the previous comment by m.b. suggests, however, Lane seems pretty deep inside his own head right now; maybe too much to even recognize any of that. Maybe we’ll find out whether that’s right in the next chapter.

      Lane is like a lot of us in many ways. He’s been leading a pretty intense existence for a while now; trying to get his dissertation finished and to successfully defend it while also spending a lot of time looking for a job and wondering what comes next. He’s also teaching sections and trying to spend time at Winthrop House and now he’s been tasked with being Ken’s best man to boot.

      It’s a pretty full agenda; and yet it’s also clear he recognizes something is missing from his life.

      But how do you break out of a rut like that? Or, perhaps more to the point, will Lane be able to break out of it and get things together?

  3. I hope that I can make leaving a comment work this time. I have been enjoying the story and can see why you said you were excited about it. I wish one of them had the courage to come right out and say what is on their mind, but I realize that in the context of the story, they have to be careful. I’ll just keep enjoying your writing and see what develops.
    Good one, as always, Kit. Thank you.
    George K

    1. Thanks. George. You succeeded 😀

      It seems like quite a few readers who’ve been with me for a while have new email addresses or nyms. I didn’t have a clue who snodgrass43 was, just that he was liking my chapters and I wanted to let him and others know I appreciated that.

      If anything, I think this story will keep getting stronger with each new chapter (although I suspect Chapter 5 may not be everyone’s cup of tea). We’ll have to see about that, but that’s my own impression for whatever it’s worth.

      Maybe your experience was different, but most people who I’ve talked to who were alive back in 1973 emphasized just how cautious they felt they had to be about their homosexuality. So I’ve tried to reflect that in the story.

      In any event, it’s good to know you’re reading. It seems like a lot of people aren’t. That’s where having confidence in a story helps. There’s no way I would ever abandon this one mid-stream.

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