By jockedguy published October 6, 2018
SummaryYou have to want to change.
Hunting season came down on us quickly, in a flutter of wings. The slate skies of October replaced the endless blue of summer, and the trees began mournfully shedding their shocking plumage.
It was one of my favorite times of year. The cooling temperatures - not cold enough yet that you couldn’t still rock a sleeveless tee and shorts - were a welcome respite from the smothering humidity in the city, and workload relaxed just enough to allow me weekend trips out to the country.
Of course, this hunting season, I had a wingman.
Once you and I realized our relationship was special, we took it to another level faster than I could have anticipated. I was fascinated by the fact that we didn’t have to have anything in common to be in a relationship - but rather, all I had to do was open you up to an idea, and you took to it rapidly. That intoxicating thrill of being able to essentially mold someone into my perfect mate - well, who wouldn’t fall for that?
I remember one night in particular, one of the more unseasonably cold nights of the month, where we drank Jack and Cokes together in our living room. Taking hits off of my bowl, we engaged in a frank and, frankly, easy conversation about things neither had ever dared to tell anyone before. I confessed to my love of hypnosis, and you - eyes wide, I remember this, hiding a smile - confessed to the same.
Now, hypnosis. It’s one of those niche fetishes you see every once in awhile in the world. Something so specific, but something which - in this day and age of the Internet - has its own small, devoted audience.
At first, I remember feeling skeptical. Maybe you were just mirroring me, faking an interest you didn’t have. It was still early in the days of our relationship, and I still harbored a few doubts about your seeming ultimate willingness to change. I don’t know if it was the Jack, the pot, a combination of both, or something else that did it, but I found myself waving away my feeling and agreeing with you that it was some kind of fate we had found each other.
That night, a thunderstorm moped through, like summer’s last tantrum. You had already passed out in the bed, but I sat up at the computer, thinking. The sky pulsed from black to a sickly white, thunder rumbled dyspeptically, and cold filaments of rain shivered down from the clouds. I sat up until it had passed and a clammy humidity set in, fingers clicking on the laptop keyboard and eyes going gummy with the slow onset of sleep.
At one point, I thought I heard you humming from the bed, and I paused to look back - but when I did, I saw nothing but your gangly limbs dormant and your face calmly positioned in unconsciousness. In the background, the repetitive clicking of the ceiling fan and the white noise of the tower fan. Sometimes, at that point in the night, I became a little disoriented - slightly unglued. Whose apartment was I in? Did I move in with you, or did you move in with me?
But the bigger question would also shove its way in - Does it matter?
The answer to that, of course, was always no. It was a signal to my thought patterns, and I turned back to the plan I was designing.
You would be my ideal man. I would change you and shape you, and in so doing, change and shape myself to my ideal. It felt so warm and so good to finally have a partner in the journey. Lightened the load a little, if I’m honest.
And of course, it had always been my apartment. Closer to the gym. My car was there, for trips to the country. Had it been my idea, or yours, to move in together? Again - that weird sense of becoming slightly unglued, ajar - but then slamming back together with the same realization. It doesn’t matter.
At one point or another, the glue crept together in my eyes and sealed them shut. I made it to the bed somehow, you unconsciously reacting to my presence by making yourself congruent to my body and mumbling something incomprehensible.
We spent more time in the gym, even with the cold settling in. It could have been my influence, or it could have been your repeated insistence on cleaner eating and repeated visits. You were surprisingly disciplined for a newbie, and even though you were a slow learner to the science of form and body mechanics, you steeled your jaw and you did it again and again until it “clicked” for you.
You confessed to me one day, maybe a little high off our arms workout, that you liked feeling dumb in the gym.
“Well, sort of.” You were embarrased, or pretending to be embarrassed. I waited for you to explain. “Not like, ‘stupid’ dumb, but like … man, I dunno how to say what I mean. You know? I like having you show me. And I even kinda like that I’m sort of a … slow learner.”
“Okay,” I said. “This isn’t entirely new, right? I mean, we’ve talked about how you feel … anxious, about all the news, all the knowledge. You don’t like being smart.”
You frowned. “That’s not it.” You were trying to find the right way to express how you felt, which I think was a new feeling for you. You’d always had such a way with words. You’d known yourself to be intelligent, even eloquent from time to time. “I mean, I guess it could be. I dunno.” You blew out a frustrated sigh and went back to bicep curls.
I grinned. “That’s it, Tucker.”
“That’s what?” You shot me a glance over a shoulder, brow furrowed. You were clearly focusing more on the weights than the conversation.
I shrugged. “Let it go.”
“Let it go?” I had your full attention now. You set down the weights and stared at your reflection. A few months in, and you already had some definition. I could see your triceps starting to cord, could even see a newer thickness in your forearms. “Yeah.” You let the furrow in your brow relax slightly, and then disappear altogether. As it did, something minute, some connection of muscle and brain that I couldn’t see, also relaxed, and the intensity of your gaze … shifted. It was as though you blinked and changed the slide on a projector. You shrugged your shoulders and grinned.
At that moment, TJ was born inside of Tucker. Inside of you. You didn’t know it yet, but like a little sprout inside of a peanut, you had become two persons in the body and mind of one.
You handed me the dumbbells and I instinctively started performing my own curls. While I did, sinking into my own focus, I stared at the guy in front of me. He was a big guy - big enough that I was slightly jealous of his biceps, and his intense eyes. He had a little smirk, too, to the corner of his mouth, that I found aroused me, that I found mirroring. He was confident - maybe even a little arrogant - I could tell by how he held himself, by the way what he wore in the gym showed off his musculature. In a way, I even idolized him just slightly.
When you stood between me and the guy, my focus was broken and I set down the weights. “What, were you goin’ for some kind of world record?” You teased. “You hit twenty reps like, five minutes ago.”
I blinked, and looked up at you. “Oh, I guess I kinda zoned out there for a minute.”
You laughed, but the next thing you did surprised me - you fake-punched the guy I had been staring at in the shoulder. But somehow, you also fake-punched me.
It was that moment that I became, as I said before, slightly unglued. That feeling of realizing when you’re very stoned slammed into me as you moved away, chuckling - there had been no other “guy.” I had been staring into a mirror.
Of course, the minute I realized that, the disorientation and dissonance I felt just … shifted away, like low-lying clouds on a lake. I let it go.
Maybe if I looked back on it, I’d ask myself some serious questions about the nature of hypnosis, but at that point, I would have also just … let them go.
“Man,” I said under my breath. “That’s me.”
“Sure is,” I heard you say behind me, already starting your set. “It sure is, Boss.”
We had sex that night. You and I, eyes closed, orgasmed together and felt the entire world around us go to gray.
That was the first time you called me Boss, and it wouldn’t be the last.
I took you hunting for the first time in late October. You’d been learning as much as you possibly could in the city about guns and ammunition - I would come home to you laid out on the couch flipping through pages of American Rifleman, or having passed out watching YouTube videos for “How to Shoot a Shotgun.”
I’d had you pick out some camo gear for yourself, some boots. In fact, you’d only been wearing boots for a few weeks now, which was a big change from your adidas sneakers - you said, to keep you athletic on the commute. But I think you finally agreed with me that boots were better for you, especially on the commute. Made you kinda badass. You liked that, and I liked that you liked it. Those would be fine for the country.
“Real shitkickers,” you called them, mouth twisting into a lop-sided grin. They were, too, and went real well with the camo gear you’d picked out. You had a real thing for that Browning buckmark, and picked out a brown camo cap with the logo on the front and on the back.
I’d planted that, of course, but you didn’t know that.
We were ready to get in my car and head out to the country. My folks had a house upstate just a bit, just enough to get out of the gray din and churn of the city, but no one ever used it. It didn’t have much - not even a bathroom - but it had a roof and walls, so I stayed there if I went hunting.
The last few weeks, the entire country had been in some kind of stir. Something political, something maybe global. Someone said something to someone, and now they were threatening bombs and whatever. Tension, for whatever reason, strung the air like a mandoline. Every single person had some kind of opinion on it, and there was no escaping the headlines without just turning off your phone and fleeing the city. It was a relief for me in any case, since I’d yet to go hunting during the season, and I was itching to get you to go with me.
This had never been in your interests, you told me, but again, you were always so willing to try anything I suggested. You made me feel strong, and I felt almost addicted to that feeling. Sometimes it came from making you feel weak - taking advantage of your slowness and outsmarting you - other times it came differently. It had advanced to the point where I could pretty much just start scratching your skull with my fingers and you’d drop into a trance state. Having that ability made me surge with self-pride and - if I admit - a bit of arrogance. I was learning that I had power, and more than that - I was learning that I was, without hubris, superior.
I still loved you. I would love you always. The feeling is mutual on both of our parts - and even after I tranced you, after you surfaced from those murky waters between conscious and not, you would flicker to appreciative life and murmur at my jaw with affection. I had taken to calling you “TJ” and even, sometimes, “boy.” It just fell out of me without even thinking about it - it came natural, careless and easy.
Watching you in the woods, all geared up and muscular - not muscular like me, of course; but rangy and wiry, corded and lean - made me instinctively run my tongue over the back of my teeth in appreciation. There was more work to be done, of course.
When you kill something, the world changes. How you see the world changes. The realization that there is, actually, a hierarchy in life and that you are on a higher rung than before, can stun a thinking person in their tracks. It can cause them to change in a wild-card direction. It can undo years of work.
This was your test. This was the next stage of TJ. I had to see how you would react, and I was going all-in on the bet.
You squeezed the trigger, and the gun roared. Downrange, the buck flinched, but stood still, frozen. Another roar, and the trance of hunter to deer shattered. The buck dropped, just vanished from sight, to the ground.
You turned and looked at me from your position, and your face was still, composed. Your eyes closed. Reopened.
You grinned like a bastard, raised a fist in the air, and pumped it down. I could see every muscle in your neck and jaw stand out as you whooped, the sound ringing out through the forest.
“Great shot, boy,” I said, and clapped you on the shoulder.
You turned and met my eyes, and kissed me solidly, hungrily. For a moment, we were less two (three?) people and just one entity, clawing madly at one another in the middle of the leaf-shedding trees. A wind stirred around us, and the unmistakeable smell of gunpowder seared my nostrils.
You were changing. I was changing.
The world was changing.
But neither of us knew, yet, exactly how much.
[To be continued.]