“If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology,
the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.”
— James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket
Howard Carter, astonished after shining a torch light upon the treasures of Tutankhamen’s tomb, could only form three words: “Yes. Beautiful things.” Opening up the Nightcharm Vault, I know exactly how he felt. Take the following artifact, for example. Lifted from the 2004 season, it is now restored for today’s audiences but presented as it was originally intended: in four weekly installments. This wonderfully abundant erotic story is written by Keith Peck, with stiffy-inducing illustrations by the incomparable Josman.
I swig from the can of Budweiser. It runs down my throat like warm piss. My chest gleams with sweat. The sun sparkling on the lake burns brilliant as a magnesium flare, and just as hot. North Carolina, summer. Complete with humidity.
“You going to cast?” Dad asks.
He lounges on a long, waist-high boulder, a perfect beach chair lying on the lake edge. Sleepy waves lap at its base. The air is still, thick as sweat fumes rising from a stinking armpit.
“Yeah, yeah.” I grind the beer can down into the pebbles. I grab the shiny black fiberglass rod, check it, whip it back over my head. The hot day is briefly cool in my armpit’s wet hairs. I snap my wrist. Thunk. The line goes straight into the water about three feet in front of me. Dad laughs.
“Pretty good, son. You been practicing?”
I start reeling the botched cast in.
“Yeah, yeah,” I say.
I’m a lousy fisherman. It’s an old joke between me and Daddy. So much so that my lips are curled in a half- smile.
“Play with your rod some more, son,” Daddy says. “Get some practice in.” He yanks his cap low over his forehead, then stretches out over the long, flat stone. His eyes close. He’s comfortable; a thick towel is wadded under his neck, and more are under his back. Now I can safely stare at him.
Daddy’s a big man. Commanding. Muscled, hairy. Only a few years ago he retired from the Army — a day when his joy mixed with the sadness of moving out of an old, familiar house. He’d worn Army full dress — and the winged badge of a paratrooper, and bright ribbons won in Asian rice paddies when I was a baby (and before), and the patch of a Ranger, and the green beret that always made me sit a little straighter in the seat when I saw it on him. I watched the little ceremony with Mom and my little brother. I read his emotions that day like a blind man feeling impressions in paper. He’s changed.
Now he wears cutoffs — old fatigue pants, lots of button-up pockets bulging with lines, lures, bobbers, weights. They’re frayed at the bottom. Instead of a beret it’s a baseball cap, pulled low over his eyes against the glare. But years of discipline which forged a hard body haven’t been so easily cut away or tossed aside. Sweat shimmers on biceps about as thick as my thighs. On sloping, corded shoulders. On nipples the size of quarters, visible under a carpet of thick, dark, wiry hair. Daddy’s hair covers his chest like lawn grass. Descending over a belly hardly softened by retirement it vanishes beneath the snug waist of the cutoffs, reemerging to coat hard thighs, the long shins.
I sigh. Turn away. Cast again. This time the line arcs well out into the molten silver water. The lure raises a small splash as it slices into the lake. I see his eyes open as the reel whirrs. Lips bend in a slight smile of amused satisfaction. Then his eyes close again. There’s a flash of warmth in me that spreads out from my heart. And there’s a flash of heat in me that burns my loins. Because my Dad is ten feet from me, sweat dripping from his muscles. Because the patterns of his sweat-wet body hair make a moiré pattern which ripple hypnotically under the furnace sky, drawing my gaze towards Daddy’s center. Because that pattern draws my gaze towards his center. Because that spot is covered by his just-a-bit-too-snug cutoffs. Because my mind roams into illegal realms, where the illegality can cause enough fire to torch entire cities, entire countries.
Beneath those cutoffs the hair grows thick, I know — thick, coarse, wiry round that big organ that one hot and sweaty night spewed me forth with 100 million brothers into my mother’s womb. That big organ which is the fountain from which I sprang unformed and unwholesome. That cock which is my father. I sigh, finish reeling the line. I ignore — try to ignore — the void in my ass.
Often I think evil thoughts. In some dubious region between the triple peaks of reality, fantasy, and memory, Daddy gave a laughing, giggling toddler a bath. The toddler didn’t care that Daddy was tired. Just hours before Daddy had walked down the jetway, exiting the DC-9 after a day-long trans-Pacific flight. His eyelids sagged; sleep like a monkey stood on his shoulder. But time he had for me, his son, his eldest. He was naked. He didn’t even change out of his uniform — just stripped it off, wanting to be with me but not wanting it soaked. I was a frenzied kid in the tub, fond of stirring the waters to a froth with ships and submarines engaged in protracted, violent battles. I was — am — the appetite for destruction. I stirred great tidal waves, overwhelming carriers, drowning the lip of the tub which was the shore of a tiny island with thousands of pathetic inhabitants — Can’t see anything of Daddy, being so low down in the tub, which perhaps is something he intends. But there were smiles, laughter, and washcloths, and Ivory soap, and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, and squeals. Daddy and me, naked and together.
Where does the real world begin? The wizard of imagination is insane, and often mixes memory with longing. There’s a slipperiness to this image, like soap dropped in the shower skittering away from fingertips. Maybe it’s an echo of an early memory. Maybe its Freudian, or Jungian, or both. A story, a song, a painting, untrue as seen but true as experienced. It comes to me, usually at night, just before I fall asleep. I never argue with it. I just let the experience roll over me, like his touch, over and over. Is it true I tingled so when he touched me?
Reel the line it. Cast. Drop sweat. Flip long wet hair over my shoulders. Swig beer. The lazy summer cycle goes on. Daddy doesn’t speak much. He’s dozing, or close to it. We came out here to get away from school, lawn-mowing, cleaning, responsibility — he’s tearing into this lazy day like a starving man into a roast. From time to time his hand moves off his belly, and in slow motion plucks his beer can from where he’s tucked it between his thighs. Every once in a while beer spills down his chin. It collects in the hollow at the base of his neck, where it mixes with the sweat oozing from his body. He doesn’t bother to wipe it, just letting it evaporate into the steamy air.
He asks me to get an icy Bud from the cooler twice. When I bring it to him he smiles at me, eyes half-closed with the laziness of the day. His hand rustles my hair; he acknowledges me through slitted eyes. Which doesn’t help me at all. There’s an uproar in my balls. My cock’s alive in my shorts’ cotton lining — lengthening, thickening, stirring like a newly-roused cobra with the scent of prey on the tip of his tongue. Then shriveling, shrinking, like ice melting under the glare of the sun, nervous and scared. My bladder’s swimming with piss. But I’m afraid to pee because of what might happen if I haul out my cock near my Dad.
Often I think evil thoughts. Daddy came through the door one evening while I sprawled on the floor for a rerun of Star Trek. I got up and ran over for the bear hug and the tripartite kiss on forehead, bridge of my nose, and right cheek. Oh yes, he was tired. Then he pitched me laughing to one side and headed for the kitchen. While I take up again the worn spot on the shag in front of the snowy image I hear Mom and Dad start to talk. Long march this morning — from the damn barracks to the airfield. The C-130 was hot, miserable. Three guys puked before we got off the ground. And then the air was rough. The rest of the guys puked. I puked. Over the drop zone I had to kick one guy’s ass to get him out of the plane. Then I came down on the edge of the damn zone because that asshole was late getting out; had to walk to the assembly point; then we had to march out of the zone. It went on a bit.
I pushed a budding hardon into the carpet, watching Kirk, Spock, and Scotty prowl around another starship’s wrecked corridors. I’d been popping boners fairly frequently by that time, and I was handling that one the way I usually did. After a while I heard Mom laugh, and he came back in. I stopped rubbing the carpet. He winced as he slumped into the recliner. His eyes closed. Even back then I was into surreptitious Daddy watching. I glanced at him every now and then. His torso filled his shirt. Even the sleeves looked tight. I wanted muscles like that when I got older. Dust caked his boots, still tightly laced. There was mud on the fatigues, up to his thighs. He tried to watch the TV, but his eyelids kept falling every minute or so.
When the Tidy-Bowl Man in the commercial started singing, he said, “Son, would you rub my back?”
His back got hurt easily, I knew. He often had Mom give him a massage.
I said, “Sure.”
I popped off the floor, my little hardon forgotten. A soft groan escaped him as he pushed himself out of the recliner. He stood, stretched and yawned. I saw big sweat stains under his arms. Bones popped as he arched his back. He unbuttoned his shirt top to bottom, slipped it off his shoulders. I saw the pain in his face, and I started to move, wanting to help him. He was too quick for me. He dropped the shirt onto the couch and tugged the green tee shirt over his head with hairy fists. His chest hair clung to his skin, matted with sweat. Daddy’s odor filled the room, rich and dark. Spicy. The ridges on his belly flexed as he twisted his torso some, trying to work the kinks out.
Kirk, Spock, and the doomsday machine forgotten, wishing I were half the man he was, I stood to one side. Grinning at me, he lay down on the floor, stretching his length out before me. The back of the green camouflage pants were ripped, right in the butt, and I saw his white boxers. Working in the yard had tanned his skin. Daddy folded his arms beneath his head, cradled it.
“Go to it, son.” His voice wasn’t much more than a sigh. I sat down Indian-style beside him. I touched his back, softly. His skin was hot as a griddle, and sticky. The muscles beneath were so tense they felt like armor plate. The hairs in the valley his spine made right above his belt stuck to his skin. My hands, tiny next to his hard mass, began to knead. But I wasn’t paying close attention to it. I smelled Daddy’s musk, the sweat worked up that day shoving young men out the back of a lumbering C-130. My nostrils gaped, breathing that odor in. I’d smelled this before, but I never could get enough of it. This was better than being in the locker rooms with the guys after a game. This smell was something I didn’t yet have, but I wanted, and I loved Daddy for having it. Scent of work, toil, struggle.
“Get down lower on my back, son,” Daddy asked. His voice sounded like an old door creaking on its hinges.
“It feels good, but I’m hurting down low.”
“I’m going to have to sit on you,” I said.
“OK.” There was a hint of a moan in his voice. So I got up, straddled Daddy’s hard body, and lowered myself down. I sat on his butt. It felt like I sat on a pair of hard stones rounded in a gushing stream. His fatigues (ripped on a rough edge in the plane) showed me that expanse of cotton covering his ass. He shifted his butt to accommodate my weight, spreading his legs a bit. I leaned forward, putting my hands on his spine between his shoulder blades, clamping Daddy’s ass between my thighs. I dug into the muscles. Another smell filled my head, darker and deeper. Tangy. I learned something in that moment: Daddy’s sweat was the distillation of this odor, his true scent, what the dog smelled when he sniffed him.
I ran my fingers down the knobs of his spine, slowly. He groaned like a ghost. Down to where the belt held the fatigues onto his hips, then to either side, fanning out, digging into the knots. Then back up. Filled with wonder, I set up a cycle. I ran my hands down his back, bending down low so my chest was close to him, so I could get a good whiff of that smell. Up, and out, over the corded flesh. Repeating it over and over. My hardon throbbed against the zipper in my jeans. Rubbing it against my Dad’s butt was better than rubbing it against the carpet. Soft snores filled the room. Leaning to one side I looked at his eyes. There were closed, relaxed. His big chest rose and fell slowly. I grinned. Mom ratted pans loudly in the kitchen. I felt adventurous.
Mom called on the final note of the closing title music, “Dinner’s ready.” I poked Daddy awake. He came out of it slowly. I caressed his back, feeling those muscles now, a little bit softer and relaxed. I leaned down, whispered, “Dinner’s ready.”Still massaging his hard body, I began to work my way to other places. While Commodore Decker rode the shuttlecraft into the planet-killer’s burning maw I explored the hard, stiff hair in his armpits, sniffing my hands, almost passing out next to his sprawled body from the purity of the smell. As Scotty beamed back to the Big E I tapped out “I love you” on a keyboard I imagined existed right where his hot skin vanished beneath the belt. I’d just started to learn how to type; rubbing my boner against him made me want to practice. As Kirk dissolved into a shower of golden sparks and the planet-killer’s maw devoured the ship, I reached round and ran my fingers through the hair on his chest. I explored that forest until I came to something hard like a stone, pointed and stiff. I played with it, a dog tossed a toy. Credits rolled on the screen. Alien creatures, alien vistas.
Lifting his body up on his arms, he looked back over his shoulder at me, still riding his ass like a cowboy on a stallion. “Thanks, son.”
His face dissolved into a weary smile. He rolled over. I went sprawling. He picked me up and hugged me to his. I buried my face in his armpit. That night, I fucked my teddy bear between its legs until I came.
Part Two of Gone Fishin’ continues here, so hold onto that rod, son.
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