That first year at the university was certainly full of milestones, events that changed my life in wonderful ways. I had my first full-time teaching appointment. After three years at Columbia, I was back in Ohio. I met lots of people and made new friends including, especially, Gabe. Although it was certainly lust at first sight when I met Gabe, I'm sure I had no inkling of what was going to happen between us.
It was about a week before the fall semester began. I was moving into my office as a new assistant professor of music history at the Conservatory of Music of a not-too-large university in Ohio. The Dean of the Conservatory had shown me the office when I was there in the spring, and her secretary had just reminded me of the room number, so I was walking down the hall, listening to the cacophony that pervades all schools of music. It wasn't as loud as it would be after classes began, but obviously several of my colleagues were practicing.
As I approached the door of my office, I saw him. He was attaching a name plate that said, "Dr. Brent Collins, Music History." Since I was walking down the hall and he was facing the door, I first saw him in profile. Though he was almost exactly my height, he was more muscular and probably outweighed me by twenty pounds. His khaki pants were stretched tight over his package and butt. His profile was perfect. Classical, I'd call it.
He gave the screwdriver an extra twist and turned toward me. "I'm sorry," I said, "but I need to get in there." How as that for a great opening line?
His smile nearly knocked me down! He had perfect white teeth, short, dark brown hair, incredibly intense blue eyes, a neat 'stache, and a cleft in his chin. At some level I registered that embroidered on his khaki shirt was "Gabe Sutton, Sr. Electrician."
"You've got your hands full. Let me get the door." He whipped out a key, unlocked the door, and stood back so I could go inside. After I had stepped in, he reached inside and switched on the lights. I put the box on the desk and turned, offering him my hand.
"Hi, I'm Brent Collins."
He grinned. "Yeah, I'd sort of figured that out." My cock lurched at that very moment, and he was to have that effect on me nearly every time he smiled at me. "I'm Gabe Sutton."
It was my turn to grin. "Yeah, I read that," I said, nodding toward his chest. Great chest, by the way. "Aren't you a bit overqualified to be attaching name signs to doors?"
"Right now, just about every available body is doing that. The signs for the new faculty just came in this morning, so everyone is helping out to get them in place."
I couldn't think of a thing to say next. Did I mention he was wearing work boots? I love a hunky guy in work boots.
"Well, professor, I've got to keep moving. It was nice to meet you. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other, because the heating/air conditioning system in this building has always been recalcitrant, and you have a particularly touchy thermostat in this office. Just call Buildings & Grounds and ask for me if you have any problems, okay?"
I stuck out my hand again, and he took it. Hoping he wouldn't notice the tent growing in my shorts, I told him I was glad to meet him and I was sure I'd see him again soon. I watched as his butt went out the door, turned left, and disappeared. I waited a few minutes for my dick to deflate.
'Recalcitrant?' I thought. 'Pretty fancy word for an electrician . . . .' I kept going back to the car for more loads until the boxes were all in the office. As I opened them and put their contents in drawers and on shelves, I kept thinking about Sutton. My reaction to him had been positive, strong - and dangerous.
I grew up in a small-town suburb of Cleveland. I was an only child. We had a normal family, not a lot of money, but comfortable. I knew I was gay at the age of 14, I guess, but I was smart enough to know I had to hide it. It wasn't the kind of thing I could tell my parents, and I didn't have any close friends except my buddy, Scott Bream. I knew if I told Scotty, that would be the end of our friendship. He was always making cracks about fags and cocksuckers and fairies.
I got good grades throughout school. As a sophomore and junior, I went out for basketball. Junior year I got to play some, but I was definitely a second stringer. At 5'11" I wasn't tall enough, for one thing. And I guess I wasn't all that great as a player, either.
I was really more interested in music. I played French horn in the marching band in the fall and in the orchestra the rest of the year.
My father, who'd always worked out and taken good care of himself, dropped dead of a coronary embolism at work the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. He seemed fine when he left in the morning, but he never came back. He and I had never been especially close, but he was a good father, and I loved him.
He left an insurance policy for mom and one for me. Hers let her pay off the house and have something left to live on, so she wouldn't need to go to work if she didn't want to. Mine left enough to pay most of my expenses for college. Scott was a good friend through all of that. He was into the dating scene, and I wasn't, but he managed to spend time with me. We'd swim, or go to the movies, or just hang out. I had a major crush on him, but I knew he wasn't like me, so I never told him, tried never to let him know I was gay.
As I said, Scott was my only close friend, but I had a lot of people I thought of as just friends. I enjoyed the band trips and things of the sort. And I never let on to anyone about my gay urges. Or I thought I hadn't. Apparently, however, I wasn't as careful as I should have been about checking guys out in the locker room.
It was senior year, maybe the second day after we'd resumed basketball practice. I was one of the last guys out of the gym that day. As I was walking toward the old Stratus dad had helped me buy, they jumped me. I never saw them coming. In the dark parking lot, a bunch of guys just beat the shit out of me. But before I passed out, I heard voices calling me a fag and a cocksucker.
I woke up in the ER. I was on a gurney, being wheeled back to the examination cubicle from X-ray, and I hurt like hell. Mom was in the cubicle bordering on hysterics. It was all pretty confusing after that. A man in a white coat took Mom away to talk with her, a hunky guy in navy blue scrubs told me I wasn't going to die and that as soon as the X-rays were read he'd give me something for the pain, and there was a guy there I'd never seen before. Another guy in a white coat told him to go back to the waiting room, that he'd have to wait.
They finally got things sorted out. I woke up the next morning to find they'd moved me to a room. Mom was there sleeping in a recliner. The nurse, a woman this time, brought me some juice and broth and told me a policeman wanted to see me. It was the stranger in the cubicle from the night before. I explained to him I hadn't seen any of the guys who attacked me, but that I knew there were several of them.
He wanted to know if I had any idea who they were or why I was attacked. I told him I didn't have a clue. He also told me that Coach Jackson had found me and used his cell to call 911, but that he hadn't seen the guys who did it.
As it turned out I had two cracked ribs and a bruised spleen. They let me go home the next day, but I was pretty helpless for a while. I did see Coach Jackson when I started back to school. I thanked him for helping me. I had learned later that he came to the hospital and waited there until he found out I was going to be all right. He wasn't happy when I told him that I wanted to drop basketball.
"Look, Collins, I understand you'll be fit to play eventually. I don't know why you got beaten up or who did it, but I hope you won't let the bastards scare you into quitting. For you own sake, if not for the team, I think you should hold your head up and come back to practice as soon as you can."
I told him I didn't think I could do that. He reluctantly accepted that and warned me to watch my back. I was grateful to him, though. The team really didn't need me. He just wanted me to come back as a matter of pride. My pride, that is. But no way was I going to let myself in for that sort of thing again.
While I was still in the hospital, the principal called a special assembly and made a lot of noise about how what happened to me simply wouldn't be tolerated. He said the city police were going to increase their drive-bys, and urged everyone to go places in pairs, especially after dark.
After I quit the team, there were no more hassles, but Scott told me he knew why I was beaten up. He said he was sorry about what happened to me, but that he knew why. He accused me of betraying him and said we couldn't be friends any more. I pleaded with him, but he was adamant. He said he wouldn't tell anyone I was gay and that he'd be civil when we saw each other at school, but I was to stay out of his life.
Scott kept his promise. I don't think he ever told anybody I was gay. But word got around, maybe from the same guys who'd beaten me up. A lot of my former friends distanced themselves from me. Devastated, I finished out the year and began to think about college. I took a weekend job bagging groceries at a supermarket, just to help with the college expenses. And it wasn't as if I had anything else to do on weekends.
When I graduated, I was in the top 5% of my class, and I was in the National Honor Society. I got a scholarship to Oberlin which helped augment what dad had left me. Even so, I worked summers during college with a lawn-maintenance company. That helped me keep in shape, and I always came back to campus in the fall with a great tan.
While I was at Oberlin, Mom began dating a great guy she'd met at church. He was a widower, and they seemed to hit it off. They were married just a few weeks after I graduated from college, and that August they moved to Seattle. He was an engineer and took a job with Boeing.
I had enough of dad's money left so that, with a teaching fellowship, I could do grad work at Columbia. Even though I was doing my doctorate in music history, I continued to take lessons on the horn, and I was able to play pretty regularly with one group or another. New York was, of course, a great place to be for a music lover, and I ate it up. I couldn't afford the price of theater tickets very often, but I did manage to see a few things. The same with the Met and the New York City Opera. And Lincoln Center! I spent most of my spare cash on concert tickets. With all the great performance groups in the city, who wouldn't?
All this time since I was beaten up, I had been practically asexual. I'd told myself it simply wasn't worth it to risk that happening again. In college I was pretty much a loner, except to go places with other music students as a group. Oberlin had a lot of gay students, and it was a reasonably good place for gay people to be, but my sexuality wasn't anyone's business.
Same in grad school, except that there I was too busy to have many friends. Again, some of the other Columbia PhD candidates and I went to concerts together or would grab a coffee or a glass of wine together sometimes and talk. We talked music, of course. Favorite composers, favorite pieces, and favorite performers, mostly. Again, there were lots of openly gay people there. You'd think I would have opened up, relaxed, but I didn't. I told myself that I was going stick to research, playing, and teaching, go to all the concerts I could, and just not think about sex. Lots of cold showers, and all that.
You can imagine how well I kept that resolution. I thought of sex daily, and my hand became my closest friend.
So that's why I said earlier that Gabe Sutton was dangerous. He was so attractive that all my resolves about keeping to myself were on the verge of melting into the precum that was wetting my boxers. I told myself that he could be eye candy only, that I could enjoy the view, but that I must never approach him. Besides, though he was friendly, charming, he looked very macho. I doubted if he'd attack me if I came on to him, but he might very well spread the word about the new guy in music history, and I didn't want that.
Thus I resolved to concentrate on professional matters. There were always lots of things to do on campus besides sex. And I told myself that I really didn't need sex. Gabe was to make me question that statement time and again as that first semester went on.
As I was about to finish attaching the name plate to the door, I became aware that someone was coming down the hall. I glanced to my right and there he was! It had to be Collins, the new prof. He was carrying a big box, and there weren't any other new con faculty on this particular hallway. (At our university everyone refers to the conservatory as "the con.")
Slipping the screw driver into my tool belt, I turned to look at the newbie. Just my height, six feet, he was stunning! He had that almost gaunt look you see on male models walking down a runway in an Armani outfit. His hair light brown was long, down to the top of his collar on sides and back, his eyes a pale gray. He was beautiful. Not effeminate, despite the hair, but just beautiful. Probably 20 pounds lighter than me, he had what looked like a willowy build, but then I couldn't tell too much because of the large box he was carrying.
Our greeting each other was awkward. I was certainly not smooth, but then it had been a long time since I'd seen a man as sexy as he was, a man who seemed completely unaware of how sexy he was. Finally, we managed to make some small talk. I told him to call me if he ever had a problem with the heating and cooling system and left, hoping he hadn't noticed the bulge in my pants.
But I had noticed the bulge in his. Unless he had a monster dick, he was in the early stages of a stiffie by the time I beat my retreat from his office. I would have liked to stay and talk some more, but, as I said, my cock was ready to betray me, and I didn't want that.
He was going to be around, so there was no reason to push things. I had plenty of time to decide whether or not he was gay before I tried anything. The preliminary evidence of his woodie was encouraging, but not conclusive. I decided to enjoy the view whenever I could find a reason to stop by his office. If that boy was gay, I was going to have him.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not the kind of guy who carves notches on his bedpost. I just knew from the outset that I wanted to get to know Brent Collins better, and perhaps very well.
As the semester got under way, I carried out my plan to drop by his office from time to time. He occasionally had a student with him, but when he was alone, he always invited me in and asked me to sit and visit for a moment. Most professors are a little standoffish when it comes to B & G people, as if they were the professional staff and we were the work crew. I suppose that's true, but some faculty people were unnecessarily condescending when it came to us.
Never Brent. He always seemed glad to see me, always had time to chit chat for a while.
After a few weeks, I saw him at a concert, the first of the season for the symphonic wind ensemble. He was with a beautiful woman whom I recognized as Rae Menzies, a second-year cello instructor. Ms. Menzies was about 5'9" with shoulder length red hair and green eyes. She looked as Scottish as her name. My heart sank a little when I saw them together, especially since they seemed to be enjoying each other's company. She was holding his arm and they were both laughing when I saw them in the lobby outside the concert hall.
I saw them twice more in October at concerts. They were beginning to look like a couple, and I was beginning to resign myself to Brent's being straight. They surely did look great together.
Speaking of concerts, at the second one, I noticed that Brent had written the program notes.
The next week I managed to snag him for a drink after a student recital, and I mentioned that I liked his program notes.
He smiled. "Yeah, they asked me to do that for all the ensemble concerts. The guy who used to do it retired last year, I understand."
"That would have been Emory Quarles."
"Oh, yes, I remember hearing people talk of him. I suppose his retirement opened up a place for me here."
"So it appears. But your notes are more helpful than his. Instead of trying to show off your erudition they seem aimed at helping the concert-goer understand the music. And, since this is a university, and not a New York audience, that's just what they should be doing, I think."
"Uh, Gabe . . . ?"
He grinned. "First of all, I can't go on calling you Gabe if you won't call me Brent. Okay?"
My turn to grin. "Okay, Brent. Now what's your question?"
"I hope you won't take this the wrong way."
"Out with it!"
"Well, I can't think of any way to say it that doesn't sound patronizing."
"Oh, then I know what you're about to ask."
"Yeah, I get that question from time to time."
"Just to make sure we're on the same page . . . ."
"You think I know a lot about music for a guy who works for B & G, right?"
"Yeah, is that pretty offensive, or what?"
"Well, it does mean that you're guilty of stereotyping, doesn't it?"
"You're right. It does."
"So, let's just say that things aren't always what they seem. You know 'HMS Pinafore'?"
He thought a minute. "Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream"?
I beamed at him. "Yup. You got it. Maybe there are electricians who don't spend all their time in bars or home watching tv and scratching their bellies."
He actually blushed. "Gabe, I'm sorry, man. I managed to give the wrong impression. I like you, and I respect your abilities. And I am happy that you like music and come to the concerts. Maybe someday you'll tell me more about that interest."
I chuckled. "Maybe someday I will."
I met Brent Collins at a reception for the new conservatory faculty. I hadn't looked forward to going. The one the previous year, when I was new, seemed pretty stiff, as if all the people who'd been there for a while had turned out to look over and maybe look down upon the new meat. And we new ones were all pretty nervous, trying to make a good impression. So I thought I'd go and try to make this year's newcomers feel a little more comfortable.
Of the five new people, three women and two men, the only memorable one was the new guy in music history. Oh, I made a point of talking with them all, and they were nice and friendly enough. But they weren't gorgeous. I mean drop dead gorgeous! This man had what Shakespeare described as a lean and hungry look. Shakespeare also said such men were dangerous. I wondered whether my new colleague was dangerous, and I decided to find out.
I introduced myself and was favored with a smile that, frankly, made my panties moist. He offered me his hand and said his name was Brent Collins. Actually, I knew that, because we all were wearing those damned stick-on name tags that our dean likes so much. I think it's because she can't remember anyone's name and doesn't want to admit it. Anyway, Dr. Collins seemed very friendly. I'm used to being hit on, and he didn't do that. But he did ask the usual questions about how long I'd been at the university and whom I had studied with. He wanted to know if I played in any of the con's chamber groups, and I told him that there was a faculty string quartet of which I was a member. He asked when our first recital would be, and I told him. He said he'd be sure to be there. Then he asked what I thought of my cello students. I said they weren't Juilliard quality, but they were eager, and some of them had some real potential.
About then, we were interrupted by someone else who wanted to greet the new guy. I gave him a wave and drifted away. He smiled over the shoulder of the person who was shaking his hand, and I looked forward to seeing more of Dr. Collins.
The fall term began with the usual flurry of getting class rosters, trying to match names with faces, dealing with those who registered late, and all that. I had a smallish section of music history and two larger sections of music appreciation for non-music majors, so I had just over 100 students. There was lots of eye candy. It was still warm in late September, so there were cute guys in shorts and tees everywhere I looked. I'd learned as a teaching fellow at Columbia to make eye contact with students as I talked with them, in class or out. That way I was less likely to get caught looking at the guys' goods.
About two weeks after the term began, Don Reedy, head of the music history department (there were only three of us), stuck his head in my office door one day. He asked me how I was getting along, and I told him everything was going just fine. Then he said that Dr. Bledsoe, the Dean of the Conservatory, wanted to see me.
"And I hope you'll say yes to what she asks you to do."
"Well, I think she should be the one to make the request. But it would certainly be better for your prospects here if you didn't turn her down."
I told Reedy that I'd make an appointment to see the dean. He said to let him know if I had any problems or needed anything, and left. The dean's secretary told me when I called that the dean could see me at 3:00 that afternoon.
"Will this take long? How much time should I set aside?" Time wasn't really a problem for me. I just wanted to get some idea what was up.
"She's giving you fifteen minutes," the secretary said.
Of course in my classes I didn't have time to worry about the upcoming meeting. But as I munched on a sandwich in my office at noon, I wondered what was in store for me. As it turned out, it was nothing ominous.
The secretary, Lavonne, ushered me into the sanctum of the dean, who stood, came around the desk to shake hands, and gestured toward one of the chairs in front of the desk. Then she sat in the other. Carol Bledsoe was probably fiftyish, but she looked younger. She had shoulder-length dark brown hair and almost black eyes. She stood about 5'9" in her flat-heeled shoes. I had heard she had been a fine pianist but had had to give up concretizing because of carpal tunnel syndrome or something like that. At any rate, she was a beautiful, elegant woman.
She asked how things were going and whether I needed anything. Must be a standard administrator's question.
When I told her things were going okay and that I was enjoying my students, she leaned forward in her chair.
"Brent - it is all right to call you Brent, isn't it?"
"Yes, dean, please do."
"Okay. I have a favor to ask of you." I waited for her to go on. "Late in November will be the first concert of the year for the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. They're doing an all Schumann program."
"What a great idea! I don't think I've ever heard an all Schumann concert before. What's on the program?"
"The main work will be the C major symphony."
"And the Manfred Overture will be just before intermission. The first half of the program will be fairly short, actually."
"Surely there will be something before the Manfred."
"Yes, and that's where you come in."
"Yes. Colin Fiske, the conductor of the group, would like to do the Konzertstuck for Four Horns."
I smiled broadly. "Great piece! Very showy, very melodic, lots of bravura stuff for the horns."
It was the dean's turn to smile. "I'm glad you agree. You see, we'd like you to be one of the quartet of horns."
"Yes, Roger Burton, who is our professor of French horn, will be playing, along with his two best students. But Roger doesn't have anyone else he thinks is really up to it. We've all heard about your playing, and we'd be pleased if you'd make the fourth member."
"I admit I've always wanted to play that piece. So, dean, I'm flattered. And honored."
She stood and gave me her hand. She had a lovely, almost motherly smile as she said, "That's wonderful. It will be a nice way to introduce you as a performer and not just as a writer of elegant program notes. Lavonne will give you Colin's office number. Why don't you call him and tell him we've talked?"
I said I'd do that. As I walked back to my office, I was amazed that anyone here knew about my playing. I'd perhaps mentioned somewhere in my vita that I played horn, but I was so focused on music history that I certainly didn't emphasize it. Yet the dean or someone must have been in touch with someone back in New York. Well, great! I was really looking forward to playing with three other hornists and the symphony.
It was a hectic fall. I tried to get to all the individual student recitals and the recitals of the various ensembles. It took more time than I expected writing the notes for the programs of all the ensemble recitals. There were also my classes, of course, plus rehearsals in October and November for the orchestra concert at which I was to perform.
Gabe, the hunky electrician whose ass I often fantasized about, was at many of the recitals. He cleaned up good, usually wearing a pair of dress slacks, a nice sport shirt or sweater, and well-polished loafers. Sometimes he'd wear a blazer or jacket with a shirt open at the collar. A couple of times he invited me to a local bar afterward.
The first time that happened, he suggested a place some distance from campus. It was not too busy at ten o'clock on a weeknight, and we got a booth where we could talk without having to yell.
"Brent, I don't know whether you're a wine drinker or not, but if you are, don't order the house wines. They have some pretty decent wines, but you have to specify what you want."
"I would have had a beer with you, Gabe, if that's what you had chosen, but I'd prefer a glass of wine. Why don't you order for both of us?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Red or white?"
"Surprise me." I grinned at him. He surely did look good. His baby blue turtleneck complemented his intense blue eyes. My heart rate increased as I studied his handsome face, and my cock, semi-hard already, became totally rigid. I had to adjust myself under the table as he ordered the wine.
He chose Columbia Crest Chardonnay. The first sip was fine, and I told him so. After that, I could have been drinking swill, for I was so engrossed in Gabe that I didn't taste the wine. I drank it, and a second glass, I just wasn't aware of what it tasted like, perhaps because I was fantasizing about other fluids.
We talked about the music we'd just heard, about the Browns and the Bengals, about the upcoming elections. Not only was this guy great to look at, but he was also well read and very articulate. I felt completely comfortable with him - except for my constant hardon. He was thoughtful sometimes, witty at others, just very good company.
The second time we came to that place we had a nice Australian shiraz, but I can't remember the name of it. That evening I was still fascinated by Gabe. I just couldn't reconcile this intelligent, obviously cultured guy with the electrician who wore work boots and jeans and worked for B & G. But he'd told me that he'd explain that sometime, and I decided I should just be patient and let him tell me when he was ready. I didn't want to botch the whole thing and come across looking like a patronizing ass. As we talked, I enjoyed his company greatly, but there was a lot more I wanted to discover about Gabe Sutton.
That night in bed I fantasized, as I had so many nights, about Gabe. He was probably four or five years older than me, which would put him just under thirty. When I was with him, I felt awkward and immature. And I wasn't used to feeling that way. I was used to being on stage as a soloist and in performing groups. I had taught as I worked on my doctorate. I usually managed to hold up my end of conversations at social gatherings. But my tongue, even my mind, had two left feet, so to speak, when I was around Gabe.
I beat off imagining his naked body lying on mine as he deep kissed me and humped his hard cock against mine. Or, in another favorite fantasy, I first rimmed and then fucked that ample ass. I'd seen it so often on campus covered in khakis or in faded jeans. I threw wood every time I saw it, and I lusted after it. Oh, and there was also the fantasy of me lying on my back, feet locked around his waist, as he plowed me.
But, of course, I had had no indication, no signal whatever from him that he was anything but straight. Except that he did stop by my office fairly often, usually just to say hello, and we had almost a standing date to go for a drink after recitals and concerts.
It scared me that I was so attracted to this man. I'd never allowed myself to get close to anyone. I'd always told myself that I'd opening myself up for a world of hurt if I did. Not the physical kind of pain I had when I was beaten up in high school, but emotional pain, very likely. But the appeal of Gabe Sutton was so strong that I found myself willing to risk it.