Postcards From the Ledge (and Other Extraordinary Folk): Some Men Never Go (Story 2) ~ Part A

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 15th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Join me in a stroll through an eclectic collection of short stories filled with gay and straight characters in the mid-Michigan communities of Lansing and East Lansing and surrounding areas as they laugh, love, and find their lives intertwined in inexplicable ways. (Some of the stories - not all - contain softcore male/male sex scenes, and some of the material contained has been previously published on Wikinut by this author and have been modified from its original form.)

Meet Keith Richardson

Keith Richardson differed from Mick Yeager in that while he had always held the same male attraction growing up, he would initially give in to his male compulsion at first and then stopped altogether just as suddenly as he had begun.

Keith had been born on May 8, 1940 in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in a working class neighborhood on its south side. The older of two children, his mom Martha hadn’t discovered she was pregnant with his sister Wendy until after their dad Howard went off to war just after Christmas Day in December of 1941. When Wendy came into the world during the last week in August of 1942, Howard was out of earshot somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and didn’t receive news of her birth until she was almost a month old, but such was the way things worked during those crazy years.

The two kids really didn’t have memories of their war-damaged dad until after he came home for good after the war. Their mom said he’d managed to get back twice on leave for short visits, but because they were so young they just didn’t recall him or his presence. Only after his complete return to their lives with his silent and brooding moods did he become the monumental figure of stone they would come to fear and respect.

Upon his return to Lansing Howard initially took up with his old machine shop job for several months, but as the auto assembly lines began retooling he found that his skills we’re far better suited and better paid in the Buick plant across town and swiftly moved into a new job there as many returning vets would soon do in the coming months and years. Soon the auto plants in and around Lansing, Flint, and Detroit would exhaust the local supply of men and begin beckoning hungry job-seekers from other parts of the nation especially from Appalachia and the mid-South, places where returning vets had found few jobs waiting for them or the cotton fields and tobacco crops had proven not to be so yielding. The promise of ready work and a UAW fair wage with decent schools saw to Michigan’s rapid growth throughout 1946 - 1960.

Howard proved to be a hard-working father. He didn’t beat his kids or his wife. Didn’t come home drunk. He wasn’t loud or abusive toward them. There just wasn’t any humor about him at all. He always looked like he was about to explode even though he never did always carrying a look of solemn contempt, a somberness as it were about him, a dullness behind his eyes that seemed just plain scary. Their mother Martha sat Keith and Wendy down one early summer afternoon to try and explain this to them when Keith had asked about it. They were about 9 and 7 at the time.
“I can’t tell you exactly why he’s like this,” their mother softly told them. “He never was like this when I met him, and he’s certainly not the man I fell in love with. But obviously it has to do with the war. A lot of men were affected by it. You know a lot of men died, right?” The pair nodded their heads. “Well a lot of men also came back missing a leg or an arm, too. You know Mr. Jessup who lives over on Browning St?”

“Oh yeah, Mom!” Keith spoke up. “He walks with a crutch and his pants leg rolled up.”

“That’s right, Son, because he’s missing part of his left leg. Bad things happen to people in a war, and Mr. Jessup lost part of his leg because he got shot. Sometimes people don’t get shot, but because they see so much of it, so much blood and so many bad things happening to all of their friends that even though they don’t get hurt it makes them really, really sad, and I think that’s what happened to your daddy. He’s just really, really sad. But he’s still a good man, and we love him still, don’t we?”

“Yes, Mom,” both children said together and nodded as they hugged her.

“That’s good.” Martha kissed them both. “Now run along and play. Both of you now.”

Best Friends and the Joys of Axton's Woods

Keith’s best friend during his elementary school years was Ricky Schneider who lived next door to him and who was a scant two months older. They’d been in the same classroom at school since Kindergarten and had been as inseparable as twin brothers ever since. Ricky’s dad even worked at the same Buick plant as Keith’s dad, but the two never fraternized for a couple of reasons, the first being, of course, Howard’s sullenness allowed for no one to ever cozy up to him, and two, Ricky’s dad, Garrett, was a supervisor at the plant, and it wouldn’t look good to mix with the assembly line guys even if he wanted to. Okay for the kids, but not the fathers.

Two blocks down at the end of their street stood an undeveloped piece of property about four acres large completely covered with trees called Axton’s Woods. On weekends in warmer weather and during the summer break from school Keith and Ricky could usually be found down there in the woods poking around doing something. When they were younger it was just running around hiding behind the trees and playing Cowboys and Indians and such. As they grew a little older they’d do things like play Pirates and dig for buried treasure. But on this particular day during the summer after the conclusion of their 4th grade year when both boys were 10-years-old they’d been building a fort or trying to move some old logs and dead branches which they’d discovered that day blown off some trees from a huge storm a few nights earlier. Keith had just dropped one which had proved to be a bit too heavy for him and in so doing caught a big splinter in his hand.

“Ouch! Ow!” Keith’s right hand started shaking and tears began streaming down his face as much from embarrassment as from the pain, but he wasn’t outright crying.

Ricky came running to his side immediately. “Let me see.” And Keith showed him the hand.

Ricky took Keith’s right hand gently in both of his examining it carefully. “It’s sticking out pretty far. I think I can get it for you if you want me to try?” Keith nodded with wet eyes.

Ricky poked at the wound gingerly for a few moments working very carefully so as not to hurt his best friend, and then he began working the splinter of wood ever so slowly out of Keith’s palm until the last shred was released without leaving any residue behind.

Keith let out a huge sigh and flashed a grateful smile of relief at his friend and said, “Thanks Ricky, thank you so much!”

And then Ricky responded wordlessly in a way that Keith hadn’t expected but didn’t take very long to appreciate. Ricky just decided that the most natural thing in the world for him to do was to kiss his best friend full on the lips, and so he did. Quietly, softly, and fully.

Keith’s eyes went wide with surprise, but he didn’t back away. After the kiss he momentarily looked down at the front of his blue jeans in shock realizing he’d sprung a spontaneous boner, and then smiled over at Ricky and asked, “Can we do that again?”

Ricky quickly nodded and smiled, “Oh yeah.” And the two boys came together this time in a warm embrace and a much longer kiss.

“Wow!” They both said simultaneously when they came apart moments later.

Looking around them to see exactly how deep in the woods they were and realizing that they were deeply forested, Ricky next asked, “How’s your hand?”

“All right, thanks to you,” Keith answered.

“My pleasure,” Ricky answered. “Wanna get naked?”

“What are we waiting for?” Keith began pulling off his shirt and the race was on to see who could get undressed first. It was a virtual tie.

What next transpired for the next 45 minutes or so was an exploration of hands, boy-boners, slobber, and a whole lot of giggling. They had absolutely no idea what they were doing, but all that touching, licking and tasting felt and tasted so divine and smelled so good to them. Of course, they were too young for any orgasms, but they didn’t know that. They had no idea what those even were at that innocent age. But as they were putting their clothes back on they decided that they’d return the next day for another round of exploration.

Weather permitting Ricky and Keith continued their escapades in Axton’s Woods as the urge moved them. As time evolved over the months and years they would experiment with a fuller spectrum of male delights. Wide-eyed wonder had never looked so serene!

And yes, the gods would say that Keith and Ricky were in love although they had never proclaimed those words to one another, but if actions spoke louder than words it was most certainly true. They had completed their 7th grade year in junior high and had happily started going at it again as young jack rabbits in Axton’s Woods, the growing young twinks both barely 13-years-old who had been best friends since Kindergarten and lovers now for three years. Two weeks into their summer break Ricky came into the woods one afternoon looking more glum than Keith had ever seen him in all their years.

“Ricky, you look like you’ve been crying,” Keith took his boyfriend by the shoulders and looked deeply into his eyes. “What’s the matter?”

Tears slipped from Ricky’s hazel eyes down his pale cheeks. He brushed back the soft brown hair from his forehead as he began weeping softly. His heart was breaking as he wrapped both of his arms around his slim torso, and Keith scooted over closer toward him on the log they were sharing.

“What is it Ricky?” Keith asked him gently with his arm around his lover’s shoulder.

Ricky looked up into Keith’s soft brown eyes knowing he was about to break his lover’s heart but his was already broken. He sniffled and then forged on. “You know my dad’s a supervisor down at the Buick plant, right?”


“Well, he got a promotion. They’re making him a manager.”

“Well, that’s a good thing, right?” Keith was puzzled.

“In Flint. At GM headquarters. We’re moving in two weeks!” And Ricky broke down again in a full-out sob.

Oh my God! Now he got it. Now Keith fully understood. His best friend, brother, lover, was moving half a state away, and everything he’d known, they’d known together, was all going to be blown to hell! He hung on to Ricky tightly for dear life as his own tears began to fall.

They just sat there in Axton’s Woods that way for the longest of times not talking. No resolutions were made. Finally when all their tears were spent they looked at each other and shared a small but needy kiss and agreed they would meet back there the next day for something. They just weren’t sure what.

The what turned out to be the proverbial bang, and Ricky said it first. “Look Keith I’m sorry about all of this, but I can’t help it, my dad’s making us move . . .”

Keith put his fingertips up to Ricky’s lips to silence him and said, “Shh, Ricky, it’s not your fault! I don’t blame you . . .”

Ricky took Keith’s hand away from his own face and placed it in his and said, “But Keith, you don’t understand, I love you!”

Time stopped for both of them in that instant. Is there any feeling like young love? That feeling of first love? Keith just melted into his lover’s arms and whispered in Ricky’s ear, “And I love you too, and don’t you ever forget it!” And then the clothes started coming off, slowly but deliberately. And they did so again and again at every opportunity until Ricky’s moving day two weeks later.

Slowly Moving On

Oh, the boys would write letters off and on, but they were teen-age boys, and neither of them proved very good at expressing on paper what they had become so practiced at expressing in person. And so the time and distance appeared to destroy what had brought them together in the first place, and by the time both of them entered high school a little over a year later they both had moved on, not that they would ever forget about each other, no that could never happen, but the letters had stopped as the newer growing pains patched over the older emotions.

Keith entered Edgerton High School in Lansing as a freshman not really knowing what to expect, but there sure were a lot of people he thought. He’d never been into sports, and that never changed during his four years of high school, but he continued showing his love of reading and English excelling especially in those areas.

His love life? How could he love anyone after Ricky? Certainly not another guy, and he had learned from the locker rooms of junior high and high school just how taboo such relationships were in the Fabulous 50’s! As he had begun maturing into his remarkably handsome but still somewhat gangly teen-aged body, he found that he was a tad ambivalent about his sexual preference. He had loved his encounters with Ricky, had been in love with Ricky he felt, but did he love men? He kind of thought so, maybe, but he wasn’t absolutely certain, and he was definitely too terrified anymore to find out. He resolved that there would be no more testing of those waters.

And so Keith had had the occasional date with the occasional girl, the occasional kiss, with the occasional touching up. He’d actually become aroused a time or two which Keith took as a favorable omen though he wasn’t about to go jumping into bed with any of them anytime soon. Perhaps a little heavy petting here and there, but that’s as far as anything ever went.

Keith graduated from high school in June of 1958 with a reasonable grade point average, high enough to get him into Michigan State with a small scholarship plus he was offered an on-campus job in one of the dorm cafeterias to help work off part of his debt. It was all good. Goal number one for him was to become an English teacher if at all possible, with a specialty in Shakespeare also if possible.

Four years of Michigan State University, Education programs, Keith loved it all. He sank his teeth into the depth of his English programs especially which kept him afloat when he didn’t excel in some of his science classes. But in the end it all evened itself out. He found little time for dating and found little in the women on campus who actually interested him all that much. Perhaps he just wasn’t that interested in anything long-term at the moment he thought at one point. He found himself too much in love with The Bard, and for the moment his own right hand was doing a sufficient job.

In June 1962 Keith graduated with honors from MSU and a BA in English, and the teacher placement bureau found a job for him almost immediately at Lansing’s Walmont High beginning in the fall of that year. He couldn’t have planned it any better.

The Wright Time?

Six years in at Walmont High Keith Richardson was still unmarried and the now-tenured English instructor and coach of the Drama Club had become undoubtedly the most eligible bachelor on the faculty all through no fault of his own. Yes, he’d dated off and on since his very first days on the staff, but he’d just never met Miss Right. He’d even had his share of passable sex with some of them. And at 28 he’d matured very, very nicely. He carried handsome features, but gone now was the gangliness of his youth. At 5 feet 10 inches tall 165 pounds and what one would call a swimmer’s build with light brown hair and doe brown eyes to go with his gentle smile and perfectly white teeth, Keith could charm the pants off of anybody female or male. He’d even received love notes from more than a few of his high school students of both sexes much to his blushing consternation and had always returned with his stock answer, “No thanks!” Good looking teachers like Keith were always easy marks for trouble.

But on that first day marking the beginning of his 7th year at Walmont he noticed a new face in the building. Who was this stunning creature he thought? Keith found himself enchanted for the first time in a long time with that new face in the crowd.

He didn’t have to wait very long for an answer. At the faculty meeting that morning the new-hire was introduced to the staff as the new 9th grade English teacher who had been hired to replace the outgoing Mrs. Shaversmith who had retired last spring. And her name? Keith almost fell from his chair! Had he heard Principal Eli Carter correctly? Miss Wright? Yup. Miss Allison Wright, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan. Oh well, they wouldn’t be able to discuss football and basketball without a big fight, but then Keith wasn’t the biggest of sports fans anyway. Very interesting. God she was pretty, he thought.

And it just so happened that with Mrs. Shaversmith’s retirement, Keith had assumed the role as head of the English department, so he would chair the meetings that the new-hire, Miss Allison Wright from the University of Michigan would be attending. Well, well. Hmmmm. About 5 foot 3 inches tall, blond with blues eyes, and not over 125 pounds if she was that, and it looked to be in all the right places. Keith thought the Wolverines could beat the Spartans for the next ten years if he could strike up a decent relationship with this one.

And he did. But it took him over a year. Miss Allison Wright or Alli as she finally allowed him to call her on their third date which didn’t happen until her second year of teaching at Walmont (well, all three didn’t occur until that second year), on the first two dates it was Miss Wright. She kept him at arm’s length until the third date, but that was the date in which she confessed to Keith what a looker he was to which he smiled, and she at least allowed him to kiss her at the conclusion of the date on her front doorstep. He was hooked, and she reeled him in from there. Two more dates and they began kissing and petting more heavily, and a couple more dates after that she broke the news to him that as much as she liked him she would never go to bed with any man until after they were married. Shit! He was afraid of that!

Alli had him . . . hook, line, and sinker.

She managed to reel him in all the way by spring break, and they set a wedding date for the end of July during their summer break. They got married back in a church in Ann Arbor, Alli’s hometown with much more of her family and friends present than his, but all of Keith’s family showed up, even the dour Howard though none of the festivities appeared to faze him. Keith had just turned 30 years old a couple of months earlier and a whole new chapter of his life was about to begin.

~ End of Part A - the 1st of 3 - of Some Men Never Go (Story 2). Next up: Part B.

Link to Part B of "Some Men Never Go (Story 2)" . . . Here


Gay Community, Gay Couples, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Love, Gay Marriage, Gay Marriage Rights, Gay Men, Gay Rights, Gays, Short Fiction, Short Stories

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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