Artwork (c) 2000 by Eduardo
"He's in Room 304." the nurse told me at the nurse's station in front of the hospice. "We expected you earlier, we had a birthday party for him. Too bad you missed it. The photographer was here, though."
"That's all right." I assured her. "Jim's a great photog, he'll turn the photos over to me. I really just wanted a chance to talk alone with Mr. Harker, do a bit of an in-depth interview. Get his perspective on life."
The nurse cocked her head on one side. "I'm not sure you'll get a lot of that. He's a hundred years old today, after all. And between you and me, I don't think he's going to live a whole lot longer."
"All the more reason for me to talk to him now." I agreed. "I can come back if need be, make it a follow-up article instead of putting it with the birthday picture."
"Then come with me." she said.
We walked down the corridor of the hospice. It was a nice place, no bad smells like you get in some places, where the odor of death and relaxed bowels has worked its way into the woodwork and you can't get rid of it with any amount of ammonia and alcohol. Only solution is to tear the building down.
But none of that was here, thank God! The residents were all wearing robes and slippers and pajamas and most were in their beds or watching their televisions in the small chair that stood next to every bed. None of the rooms had doors on them, nor even complete walls, they were more like alcoves, none of them more than eight feet by ten feet, but I guess that's why they didn't have the doors or walls. Though everyone seemed relaxed and kind, I would have hated to live like this. Maybe when you get that old, it doesn't bother you any longer.
Mr. Harker was a small, thin figure in the bed, wearing light blue pajamas and a white thin sheet over him. The television was going, but he wasn't looking at it. He looked tired, in a way that no amount of rest or sleep would remove. Tired of living.
He turned an eye over to me and I introduced myself. He perked up when he learned who I was, a reporter here to do an article about him. "My article is to be about you, Mr. Harker, a bit about your life. It can be as short or long as you want to make it. Start wherever you feel like, tell what you want and we'll stop whenever you want."
Mr. Harker looked over at me and for the first time, a spark of light grew in his eyes. "You know, you're the first one who's sat in that chair that said that and really meant that."
I smiled. "It's my job. I want to sell the paper an article about you. Whatever you give me, I can work with it."
"All right, wherever I want to start. Let's start in March 1930."
Six months after the start of the Depression. "That would make you what, nineteen years old at that time?"
"Eighteen and a half." He said it like it was a figure he'd remembered for a long time. "I'd graduated from high school and set out to build a life on my own. I knew times were tough, but I figured an honest, hard-working man wouldn't have any trouble.
"I was wrong." he paused for a while. "You got to remember that we hadn't never had times like that before. Bad times now and then, but even the bad times hadn't been that bad. Not for a honest, hard-working man."
By March of that year, I was living in a Hooverville in a tent and standing in line for soup at the Christ's Army Mission a couple blocks down the street. They'd feed you for free every night, but for breakfast and lunch, you were on your own. Most days, that soup was the only food I'd get all day long. I'd get an odd job now and then, a few dimes here and there, but a man's got to eat, don't he? And then the money would be gone again and I'd be right back in that line. You get there, pick up a bowl and a spoon and shuffle on down to where they fill it with whatever they've been able to cook for you that day. Sometimes there'd be meat in it, most usually not. You stopped caring, it was hot and it would stop your stomach rumbling. I'd take three notches in my belt and my ribs were just beginning to show. They'd never shown before not even as a kid, but I could see them now.
"Then in through the door came three men. And you could tell the minute they came in that they weren't living on Christ's Army Mission soup."
"They looked us over like we were a bunch of puppies in a litter that they were thinking of adopting. They got to me and one of them said, 'How about this one? He's a big one, and good looking, too.' He came up to me and grabbed me by the chin and turned me around. 'And look at those pretty blue eyes he has. They'll look good up on the big screen.'
"'Sure, we'll take him.' a second one agreed. He seemed to be the one in charge. 'For the other, pick us one with a darker look to him.'
"'How about this one?' came the call from near the front of the line. He pulled the guy out of the line, still clutching his bowl and spoon (I wasn't far enough front to even pick up the bowl and spoon yet), and I got a look at him. Where my hair was a pale, sandy brown, his was black as it could be. We weighed about the same, I guess, but he looked somehow broader and more compact than me. I had about three inches height over him...of course, I didn't spot that right then, but later."
Mr. Harker shifted on his bed and said, "Anyway, we went over to one of the tables and I looked back at the line, worried, if this took too long, I'd have to get into the back of the line again and sometimes they'd run out of food before they served everyone.
"But they had an interesting offer to make. They wanted me and this other guy, name of Robert Pullman, to help them make a short film. Bob told them he didn't know anything about how to be an actor, and I agreed, but they said that wouldn't matter, that it was a silent film and all we had to do was what they said and let them film us. The film was being specially made for a small audience, filming would last only one day, and for our work, they'd pay us each twenty dollars."
"And to top it all off, they'd take us out to dinner to the best restaurant in town. I tell you, there may have been happier people in the world than me and Bob that night, but I wouldn't know who or where they were." Mr. Harker's withered, wrinkled face wore a beatific smile in the memory of that. His voice trickled on after that, slow but steady, the tones of his words like that of water through a small mountain stream.
"Sounds like a terrific offer, all right." I agreed. Twenty dollars in 1930 would have been like two hundred dollars today. For a man on the tramp, it was wonderful. "So what happened next?"
"They took me and Bob to a place called Marcon's, where we each ate one of the biggest steaks I'd ever seen. I hadn't had beef in so long, I'd nearly forgotten what it tasted like. And a baked potato and corn and soft, fluffy biscuits and...." Mr. Harker yawned. "It was great, all right. Then they took us to a hotel and checked us into a room for the night. I worried some that my stuff waiting back in the Hooverville might get taken by someone, but with that much money coming, I could buy it all over again if I had to. I got to talking with Bob that night and turns out we had a lot in common. We stayed up pretty darned late, telling stories and memories and jokes and hopes and dreams. By the next morning, he and I were as good friends as you would find anywhere. I know I woke up the next morning all wrapped around him like I would with my brother when I was a youngster back in Ohio. We had breakfast and then set out for the address they'd given us the night before, had to ride three trolley cars to get there. It took the last coins we had on us and I had to loan Bob my last nickel for us to do that.
"I don't know what I expected for that film. Movies in those days were kind of mixed up, you had a few color movies, more black and white movies, and even some silent films now and then. We ended up in a house out on the outskirts of town, and the house had been empty for some time, it had a 'For Sale' sign out front. But inside, they'd gotten one room fixed up, a bedroom, just like in a regular house, all the way up to wallpaper on the walls and sheets on the bed and pictures on the wall. The men we'd seen the night before were the only ones there, and while the other two set things up to film the bed, the one in charge explained to Bob and me what we had to do to earn that twenty dollars.
"These days they make those movies all the time. But this was possibly the very first one they'd ever made like this. The first gay porno."
"You were the first gay porn star?" I asked, unbelieving.
Mr. Harker looked at me, and chuckled. "Well, we'll never know. The men were creating the movie for some rich guy with more money than good sense. Only he and his friends would ever see it, or that's what they told Bob and me. And if we'd do that, they'd pay us the twenty dollars each they'd agreed on. If not, well, there was the door. We could go, no hard feelings."
"They knew they had us. You can't sleep in a tent in a dirty Hooverville, live on bread lines and soup kitchens and then get a taste of real food and a real bed and just walk away from it. That twenty dollars would let the two of us live like real men for nearly a month. And in that time, maybe we'd find a real job and get out of the Hooverville for good. Even in those days, men were finding jobs. You'd hear about it, now and then. But you had to stay alive until it was your turn to be lucky.
"So I looked over at Bob with a look like you can only imagine. How do you ask a person who's just barely become a new friend to do something like that? In front of a camera, no less? I tried to talk, couldn't, gulped real hard and before I could say a word, Bob said, 'I know what you mean. I guess we have to.'
"'Yeah, that's how I figure it.' I said and turned to the man, Howard his name was, they didn't never give us anything more'n first names. 'Okay, Howard, we'll do it.'"
"There wasn't any plotline to this film of theirs. So the first order was to get naked. I never felt nakeder than I did that morning, even though I'd stripped down to my boxers to get in bed with Bob the night before. This was only removing one more piece of clothing than I did then, I kept telling myself as I fought with the buttons on my shirt."
Mr. Harker's fingers moved up to the buttons on his pajamas as he spoke, like he was about to try to take his pajama top open. I got a brief flash of the man he had been back over eighty years before, young and fumbling, forced by circumstances into being a sexual performer. "So how did you manage after that?" I asked, for he'd stopped talking.
"What saved me was looking over at Bob. He was looking at me and he was smiling. Just like he'd done the night before, soft, warm, welcoming. A big, good-looking man, Bob was, and he and I were about to make love. His smile grew bigger as he saw me looking at him and I grinned back at him and suddenly it didn't seem like such a bad thing after all.
"That let me get my shoes, socks and pants off, and then Bob was completely naked. 'Get into bed, Bob.' Howard instructed. 'Lie back on top of it. Jeff, you'll crawl in on top of him when we start the camera rolling.'
"I had my hands on my boxers as he said that and I looked at him then over at Bob. He was lying on the bed, completely nude and then at his johnson that was lying across his leg. 'Come on in.'" he said to me. 'I'm waiting for you.' And his johnson kind of jerked and began to stand up.
"'Cameras rolling.' Howard told me. Whenever you're ready.'
"I slid my boxers down my legs, with some trouble, because I had thrown a woody. Bob just gave a small laugh when he saw it and his own rod began to rise up from off his leg.
"'All right, looking good. You're two good friends about to have some fun.' Howard told us. 'You crawl in on top of him and just hug and kiss on him.'
"I crawled in and Bob's arms came up and wrapped around me and they were warm and soft and while I'd been feeling really funny about kissing another man, when I did, it felt like the most natural and normal thing in the world. Howard kept giving us instructions and we'd have to listen to him and change things as we moved, but I kissed him a long time, then began to work my way over his face and down his neck, nibbling as I went--that was Howard's instructions again--and then I was kissing and fondling one of his nipples on his chest. I'd never even thought about doing such a thing and Howard had to tell me what to do but my kissing and rolling my tongue around on it and pinching it with my teeth all made Bob moan and groan and his cock was a hard piece of hot steel on my stomach at that time.
"And then I was doing the same kind of things to his navel, digging my tongue into it.
"'Now you're ready to suck on his cock.'" Howard told me and my heart went into my throat. "And turn around on the bed, get your own cock up there where Bob can suck on you at the same time." Howard went on.
"The thought of Bob's warm mouth that I'd been so recently kissing being wrapped around my prick made me practically faint. So I scooted around and I had no more than done that than Bob caught hold of my cock and had crammed it into his mouth. I was suddenly surrounded by warm moisture, and then the feel of velvet on my shaft and then the tongue came up and flicked at the bottom of my cockhead and it was just the most wonderful thing I'd ever felt in my life."
"I had to shift myself around and get my own cock into a more comfortable position. I hadn't expected to be turned on by the story of a hundred-year-old man lying on a bed, his voice getting softer and hoarser as he talked on and on. But he didn't falter, didn't slur over any of the words, it was like this was something he was living through all over again as he told it to me, his voice strong and dreamy and beginning to weaken from the labor of speaking.
"With Bob sucking on my cock for me, it was easy for me to do it for him, too. The hot flavor of his precome was salty and stinging to my lips and then the cockhead's taste, kind of spongy and kind of musky and kind of sweet all at once. I didn't have any trouble getting it all the way inside my mouth. Howard told me to work up some saliva and watch my teeth and all that, but hell, any person knows that stuff, just from imagining what it'd be like to have it happen to you. So we were soon bobbing up and down on each other and Howard was talking nonstop and getting kind of excited. He had me and Bob move into different positions, me on bottom, then on our sides, and they'd make us stop for a while, so they could move their cameras, and the first time I let Bob go and he held onto my own cock, and after that, I held on, too.
"I was getting pretty worked up after a half hour or so of this, and then Howard said, "Okay, now one of you needs to fuck the other. Which one should it be, who gets fucked?"
"I looked at Bob and he looked at me and at the same time, we both said, 'It can be me.'"
"Howard laughed at that, and said, 'Okay, we'll let you two take turns here. Who should be first?' Before either of us could answer, he went on, 'Bob, you fuck Jeff first.'"
"I gulped hard at that and Bob said to be softly, 'It's all right, Jeff. I'll take it easy on you.'"
"So I rolled onto my back with my legs up and Bob got in between them and one hand guided his cock into my ass. It was already slicked up with a lot of my saliva, and Bob pressed it against my hole and said, 'Okay, here it comes. Brace yourself, it's going to hurt no matter what I do.'"
"He pushed into me and it did hurt, and I saw Bob's face crinkling up as he winced at how he was hurting me. But he got it into me after a while and then the cameras were turned back on and then he began to move on me. As the pain went away, I felt a pleasure unlike anything I'd ever felt before. To have a man's cock inside your ass is about the greatest joy a man can feel, and it's a damned shame that most men will never experience it. Worried about their masculinity. Pfaugh! Like that would make a man less of a man, giving his best buddy pleasure while getting some for himself!" Mr. Harker's voice which had been wavering, grew stronger for a moment. He paused to breathe hard for a while, then he started talking again.
"I began to pant hard and Howard saw that and warned me, 'Don't get too turned on, Jeff, you have to keep yours back to use when you fuck Bob!'" So I just clutched and held on while Bob kept driving that dong in and out of me and it was hard, so very hard, not to join him when he began to moan in pleasure and when he shot his load into me, it was so, so sweet. His face flushed red and his eyes closed and his mouth opened and his whole face got so soft, like a child's, for just a moment there, and then he was done and he slumped onto me, breathing hard.
"'Okay, Jeff, it's your turn. Hurry up, you don't want to wait too long here, fuck him while you're still all worked up from him fucking you.'"
"So I rolled Bob over, still breathing hard and he rolled onto his stomach, nearly going off the bed in the process and I got on top of him and his legs spread and let me in between him. I stuck my cock into him with him lying down flat on the bed, and I was right on top of him. We had to hold that position while they moved the cameras around, one on our faces and one up between our legs, so they could see me fucking Bob.
"I lasted longer doing that than I thought I would, I fucked him for some time, and Bob raised up and we got up with him on all fours and me kneeling behind him and I humped at him and that was how I reached my completion. I felt at peace for the first time since I'd left home as I squirted my jizz into Bob's ass and then we slumped onto the bed and those cameras came in close on our faces, the two of us, tired and satisfied."
Mr. Harker was quiet for a time and I said, "And what happened after that?"
"Howard paid us our money and we were allowed to leave. With that much money in my pocket, I was able to keep myself better for a couple months after that and by then, I'd found a job in a factory, which was making machinery, only a dozen hours per week, but it let me live through the Depression."
Mr. Harker's voice had softened down to a whisper. "And now, young fellow, I'm mighty tired."
"May I come back tomorrow and talk to you some more?" I asked as I got up. It was a hell of a story, but you can't put a story like that in a public newspaper. I left Mr. Harker there and it looked like he was asleep when I looked last at him.
Turns out he died sometime in the next hour, because when the nurse checked on him, he had been dead for some time. I asked the nurse I'd spoken with the day before about him, what she knew.
"Did he tell you about Robert Pullman?" she asked me in turn.
"Yes, some." I nodded.
"Those two were some characters." she said. "He talked about Bob all the time after Bob died."
"He told me how they met."
"Really?" she looked at me. "All I knew was it was back in the Depression."
"Can you fill in what happened after that?"
"Oh, those two were inseparable. They lived together during the Depression after they met, went to war together in France during the Second World War, came home and started their own business."
"Stayed together all that time?" I asked.
"Up until the very day they died." she agreed. "Mr. Pullman passed away a week or so ago and after that, it was like he didn't want to live any longer. Hard to keep a man alive when he doesn't want to live."
"Yeah." I put away my notes. "Thank you very much."
"Did you get your story out of this?" she asked.
"Yeah, I got my story." I said as I was leaving. I didn't know where I'd sell the story but I knew this much. It was a love story, more than eighty years old. And somewhere, somehow, I was going to tell it.
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