Thursday, October 15, 2020

Runt – Part Two of Three Parts, Post #136

Last week our shy hero fell in love with a jock but found himself totally incapable of doing anything about it. Will he do any be better this week? Let’s see.

 * * * * *


 That night, I lay in bed as the relevance of the day finally hit home. My God! I was queer!

The initial shock was followed by a host of feelings and sensations. Was it really true? After all, I didn’t go around lusting after all the boys I knew. But I sure did Park! No denying that. If he were here in bed with me, I’d do anything he asked me to do. Was that homosexuality or idolization?

The discomfort in my groin told me I wanted him physically, sexually. I wanted to be queer with him. And I wanted him to want me! Homosexuality? Definitely!

Testing the waters, I thought of some of the other boys at school. Nothing. Well, not quite nothing, but it was more like curiosity. Rumor had it that Chuck Rycyczk had the biggest one in school, but that didn’t stir me a bit.

Hard on these thoughts came one that made me chuckle at the same time I cringed. Poor Pop! His greatest fears had been realized. With sudden insight, I realized that sports and hunting and man-things had been a reaction to his fear that his only son was too much of a mama’s boy. I’m not certain he thought I was gay, but he sure was afraid of something.

Well, congratulations, Pop! Moral? Be careful of what you fear. I paused for a moment to examine my strange relationship with my father. I loved him like sons are supposed to, but there was another element too. I was afraid of him. The admission brought a little shock of its own. Yeah, I was afraid of him. Afraid he’d push me into some physical situation I couldn’t handle; some sport where I’d be embarrassed by ineptitude and disinterest and active dislike.

Then came another surprising thought. He was afraid of me, as well. My big, manly daddy was afraid of his runty son. Afraid I’d shame him. Yeah, that was right, but there was more. I grappled a little longer before I got it. He was afraid of me because I was smarter than he was. He was physical; I was cerebral. He didn’t understand my scholastic ability any better than I fathomed his obsession with a ball.

When I woke the next morning, my world had changed. I faced Pop at the breakfast table with an aplomb never before seen or felt. He realized something had shifted but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Mother just served the pancakes with a puzzled frown on her face.

At the pool later that morning, my newly discovered confidence evaporated like dew in the sunlight. Fortunately I was already in the water when Park walked out on the pool deck because my stomach dropped and my knees went weak with the secret knowledge I’d seen him naked and rampant and doing it with a girl. He waved at me and headed for a couple of his jock buddies at the other end of the pool. Twenty laps left me gasping and holding to the edge of the pool without any thought of Park Fogelson or anything else in my mind. I’d never done twenty continuous laps before.

“Atta way to go, Dan!” his voice startled me. I turned to see him treading water behind me, the fine muscles of his shoulders moving seductively. I snapped my eyes away from his brawny torso and found his steel-gray eyes just as provocative. I went dumb as part of me began to strain against my swimsuit. A sudden frown twisted Park’s features. “Something wrong?”

I shook my head violently but had to draw a couple more breaths before speaking. “W-winded.”

He laughed. “Yeah, but you’re doing better. A hell of a lot better. Coach Barson better watch out.”

“Don’t… tell him,” I panted.

“Hell, no. Let him find out for himself.”

“Still… don’t know about… climbing rope.” I tried to keep talking so he’d tarry here with me. Man, if he knew what I really wanted, he’d probably slug me right here in front of everybody.

“You’ll make it, Danny boy,” he said, and it took a minute to realize he meant I’d climb the rope. “Hell, bet you can get halfway up right now. Have you tried it?”

“N…no,” I said around a lump in my throat.

The frown returned. “I make you nervous or something? I’ll back off if I do.”

“No!” I practically yelled. “I’m not very good with people,” I apologized. “Loner, mostly. But I…I like to talk to you. You help me,” I crabbed along, afraid I’d say something wrong. “Nobody ever did that before.”

He smiled so broadly, I almost sank beneath the water and drowned from happiness. “No big deal. Doesn’t cost me anything. And I like you, Runt,” he gave me the gym class name, but it had no sting. I sort of liked it.

“I like you, too Park. And I never said that to a jock before.”

He laughed aloud. “The jock and the runt,” he mused. “We make quite a pair.”

Fortunately, he went back to his friends or I’d have made a fool of myself trying to make something out of that remark. I stayed in the pool another thirty minutes before getting out without embarrassing myself.

That evening, I got something of a shock. It was getting along toward closing time at the store when the door opened and Park Fogelson walked in.

“Hi, Runt. What time you get off?”

“I close up in five minutes,” I said, too surprised to even stammer.

“Good. There’s a big teacher’s confab at school. They’re plotting the opening of the term, I guess. Anyway. The building’s open. Let’s go over and try the rope, okay?”

“S-sure,” I said, recovering enough to stutter.

That Quick-Fix store got closed up faster than it ever had. Park loaded me in his Chevy, saying we’d pick up my car later.

The euphoria of actually being in his presence in a social situation slowly gave way to something akin to panic as I realized I’d soon be demonstrating my weakness and ineptitude. I was actually shaking by the time he parked in the lot. Personally, I would have sneaked into the school, figuring we weren’t supposed to be there. Not Park. He strode boldly through the front double-doors and marched straight down the hallway to the gymnasium. Flipping on the lights, he walked to the corner. And there it was…the dreaded rope.

Park turned and beckoned me forward. “First thing, you gotta get over being afraid of it. Psych yourself up, man. It’s just a damned rope. An inanimate piece of hemp hanging from the rafter, totally helpless. You can piss on it, burn it, or climb it…do anything you want to it.”

I smiled in spite of my terror. He was pretty good at psyching. Nonetheless, my anxiety eased only slightly.

“Chalk your hands,” he instructed, grabbing a chalk bag and dusting his own liberally. “Then take a firm hold at a point on the rope where you’re comfortable. Then just pull.”

He hand-walked up that rope in nothing flat, his legs horizontal to the floor, his body in a handsome L. I went weak in the knees as I watched. Once at the top, he effortlessly hand-walked back down and gently lowered his feet to the ground.

“You won’t do it quite like that the first time, but you’ll get the hang of it soon. Try it. See if you can make it to there,” he said, pointing to a red mark inked into the rope fifteen feet off the floor.

Grasping that rope was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Not because I would fail, but because while I was struggling, he’d see how puny and pitiful my body really was. Nonetheless, I gave it a try. To my surprise, my feet left the ground. I reached the red marker and struggled with all my might to grab one more handhold beyond that.

“Great!” Park enthused. “You did it! Now just work your way on down.”

It wasn’t much easier on the way back, especially, when I felt his hands briefly on my shoulders as my feet touched the ground.

“Man, you’ve filled out, you know that? All those weights and that swimming are really showing.” My knees wouldn’t hold me. “Whoa!” he said, grabbing me beneath the arms. He probably didn’t notice his hands on my nipples, but I sure did. They went hard and knobby at his touch. “You okay?”

“Y-yeah,” I panted, not certain that was true. I swayed against him for support. The length of his body pressed against me for a moment. The swell of his groin set my butt afire.

“Just rest a sec. You wanna sit down?”

“No!” I never wanted to move, but I couldn’t let him know that. “Just give me a minute. I’ll be okay.” I milked the situation for another thirty seconds, and then leaned away from him. My chest felt cold after he removed his hands.

“You did good, Dan. You come in every day and give it a try. Before Coach gets around to his rope climbing test, you’ll have it whipped.”

“Did… did you mean it?” I managed to ask.

“Mean what?”

“Have I filled out some?”

“Oh, yeah! Haven’t you noticed? You used to be shaped like a tube of toothpaste, you know. Now you’ve got pecs,” he reached out and touched my chest. “And lats,” he moved to my ribs. Your arms are bigger and your shoulders are wider. You’ve had a growing streak this summer. Not going to be able to call you runt much longer.”

“Thanks to you,” I blurted.

“Me? I didn’t do anything. It was you, man.”

“I won’t be able to play the games any better than before.” It took a second to realized I’d blurted the thought aloud.

“You’ll learn those too. You can hold your own swimming. Maybe you oughta take up some running. Coach holds races for part of the class. The whole point is not to be last.” He laughed aloud. “Gonna be some guys get a shock when they realize they can’t rely on the runt to come in last anymore.”

 * * * * *

 Well, Runt’s doing a good job at building up his strength and his body… but is he building his courage, as well? We’ll see next week.


As usual, I will post weekly until the story ends, and then revert to my normal schedule of posting on the first and third Thursday of each month.

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Twitter: @markwildyr

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 And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

 Until next week.


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