Follow DJ to the barn. I secure the door while he tugs off his red sweatshirt and starts stacking bales to clear a space. I pitch in and help, and the two of us work up a sweat real quick, even though it’s under 50 outside.
No smell of livestock anymore, not since Uncle Wayne died and Aunt Maxine sold the animals; more like the smell of black peat, rusted motors, and hay. We stack the bales high, three deep, a good stretch above our height, build up four solid walls with three corners and a passageway.
I wipe my neck and shoulders with a handkerchief. DJ covers the sawdust with horse blankets.
“Learn any tricks up at college, Roy?” he drawls, smirking.
“What, been missing me much?”
He spits into the hay and smiles, wide and toothy. His jeans ride low on his hips, showing off his “iliac furrow”—now there’s something I learned in college, Appreciation of Art, and remember it, too. His red summer tan round his shoulders, neck, and arms, now a faded, freckled pink.
For fifteen weeks, almost every week, I received DJ’s terse, scribbled notes in the mail: “Study all you like boy I can still tear you up”—“Wish you were here I got some steam I need to let off”—“Anybody up there prettier ’n me?” I sent back pictures clipped out of Ring magazine, glued to 3x5 cards, and labeled “you” and “me.”
“You bet. Kind of boring beating up pillows all the time.”
“Boots or no-boots?” I ask, meaning “How bloody?”
He hisses through his teeth and yanks off his boots. I follow suit. He stretches and kisses his biceps. I can see he’s antsy, feeling more elated than he wants to let on. He kung fu kicks a loose bale of hay and pumps his fists in the air.
Truth be told, I wrestled some up at U, but didn’t make the team. Maybe next year, the coach told me. I won’t tell DJ that, though.
We lock up. Right off, DJ snorts and starts to shove me back. He’s psyched and even stronger than I remembered. We circle each other, make grabs for each other’s neck or knee, and come away with nothing. We break off and eye each other, half warily, half totally at ease.
I take a swipe at his jaw and connect—a popping sound, more like a click. He swoops down to my knees and pulls them up, and I land hard on my back. I’m no sooner down than his knee crashes to my right tit. I grunt and roll defensively to my side. He wedges my left arm in his wet armpit and jams my hand down, straining my wrist. I howl, and he just grins.
He holds me there almost paralyzed. My heels grind the wool blankets. My face rests against the side of his hot, salty belly, which heaves as he breathes. I can feel his heartbeat against my forehead.
“Giving already, college boy?”
“Let’s break,” I say, and he lets me go and then runs his fingers through my hair as I lumber up to my feet.
“First fall,” he deadpans.
He’s kinked my wrist real good. I rub it, quietly whimpering. DJ’s the toughest dude I ever met. He loves the give and take of a scrap and only pretends to care about wins and losses. He’s no bully, but he’s got it in him to like hurting people. I’m the only one he fights, though, and that’s play … well, mostly play.
“College made you soft, looks like.” DJ taunts. I can tell by the sound of his voice that I hurt his jaw. Maybe made him bite his tongue.
If I’m soft, it’s because of Aunt May’s cooking. I noticed at dinner DJ only pecked at his turkey and gravy, keeping himself hungry for the fight to come.
“Don’t get big-headed, DJ. Riles me up. And you know if I get riled I can make it hard on you.”
“Hard on me is about right,” he sniffs and chuckles.
I nod my head and fix my eyes on his.
We close in. I try out a feint, but DJ clobbers me a good one right in the nose. I feel like I just snorted a bullet. Feel the blood pound in my nostrils.
I grab his head and wrestle him down to the ground. Get my knee on the back of his neck and push his face to the musty blanket. His legs kick in spasms. He screams, and I let up. I grab his hair at the scruff of his neck and haul him up to his feet. A quick knee to his gut makes him grunt. I lock up his head and left arm, lean back, and flip him over my head. The sound of the crash echoes in the rafters.
I want to straddle him in a schoolboy pin, but my hard-on would only get worse, and we’d probably start giggling. Instead, I drop my elbow to his chest and bounce right back up. Shadowbox the bales making up one wall, while he gingerly gets back to his feet.
“More?” I snarl, deciding to play the heel. “You liking this?”
I deliver a roundhouse kick to his flexed-up thigh. Then a short, fast jab to his face. He starts to fall, but I catch him. I hug his lower ribs tight to my chest and squeeze. We’re both hard.
I release him, and his body crumples up against mine, almost in a swoon. I back him to the wall and start punching his gut, one-two-three times with the right to every one-two with the left.
My knuckle prints are like pink valentines on his pale skin.
I back away. Strutting and posing for an imaginary crowd. The standard cue for payback.
DJ is a master of payback, too. It’s brutality with an air of justice to it. DJ plays it well.
He springs to his feet, almost miraculously. He leaps up and looses a flying dropkick to my chest. It propels me to the opposite wall, which I hit hard but bounce back from.
DJ grabs me by the hair and draws me in to him. He applies a bear hug, and, almost involuntarily, my knees rise to his waist. He grips his hands at the small of my back and grinds his knuckles to my spine. This both genuinely hurts and excites.
Then he shoves me back to the wall … with force. I’m winded. I’m even unconscious for a couple of seconds. We’re both slippery with sweat, but now mine feels cold.
He releases and twists around. Grabs my head and snap-mares me to the ground. He digs his right knee into my right shoulder. Lightheaded, I look up at his lean, glistening torso. It seems like I’m looking through funhouse goggles, but still he looks beautiful, heroic, triumphant.
He steps back and hurls a few insults my way. My head’s buzzing, so I can’t quite make them out. I hear the swagger in his intonation, though, and something fucking something.
My elbows connect with solid earth, and I raise myself up. DJ circles me, unbuttons my Wranglers, and pulls them free of my legs. I feel a cool draught on my hard cock, as it slaps up to my belly.
DJ steps back and surveys the pale green bruises and the stiff, purple stalk of my manhood. He smiles with half his mouth, and I smile with half of mine, mirror like.
His chest rises and falls as he breathes. Beads of sweat roll down to his navel, then further down. His unbelted jeans dipping to reveal a corona of pubic curls. The fly stretched to hard bone, clearly outlined in the faded denim.
On my feet now, I squat down, my elbows at my knees. DJ bends his knees and widens his stance.
I lunge at him, and he steps aside like a matador. He gives me an open-handed, almost friendly slap across the face.
We lock up. Push and shove. Then I grab him in a double underhook and tuck his head in my right armpit. My right leg reaches cross his hip and locks his leg from behind. All this in one smooth movement that catches him totally by surprise.
He grabs for my cock, but I wrench his neck upwards and back. The sudden jerk immobilizes him. The veins pop in his neck, and I see the muscles of his back quiver.
“How’s that, DJ?” I whisper. “Enough pain?”
“You asshole,” he grunts, almost squeaking.
“Give,” he says.
“I give please … you’re the boss.”
I let go, and he crumbles to the ground.
I hunker down, and look at him as he shakes the cobwebs loose.
We stay in position, audibly breathing. Cold late autumn air seeps in through the cracks in the roof.
After a few minutes, he starts peeling off his jeans.
“One more,” he says.
“Two out of three.”
Our cocks rise up like sabers facing off.
“Like this. Loser gets pinned right. Scared a little? Big shot. College boy.” His eyes twinkle. “Let’s play.”