A Canterbury Tale

The Poet's Tale
Chapter One

"The hills roll like balls of soft green cotton, graceful and pure;


Clouds float like feathers in a sea of blue .

Farmhouses dot the landscape, home to honest men and women

But, to me, they are the villas of Italian painters and poets,

And, their fields are gardens of beauty and peace.

I sit for hours and escape into my world of truth and art,

Listening to the symphony of doves.

But, all too soon, as it always does,

a sound from the real world intrudes

And, like a knife slash across a canvas,

destroys the truth and brings reality.

I am brought back from my world to his.

And I cry."


He could have read my creation a dozen times while he sat in his chair staring at the page torn from my spiral. I wanted to scream at him, `Say something!' But, as I always did, like the good boy that I am, I sat, silently awaiting his comment.

Eventually, he looked up.

"For two months, you've refused to show me your work. Why now?"

This was not the response I was expecting. I thought he would ask something else, something for which I had an entire speech all prepared. This was a question for which I was completely unprepared.

"Um, I, d-d-d-don't know. I, uh, I j-j-j-just th-----ought you m-m-m-might w-w-w-want to . . . read it."

He nodded thoughtfully and then said nothing. I sat there amazed until he broke the silence again.

"So, how is school?"

I stared at him in bug-eyed amazement. This guy was too much, had been since I first started coming to him two months before. I show him one of the most important things in my life and he just blows it off and asks about school?

"You look surprised at my question," he commented. "It's a perfectly reasonable question, considering yesterday was the first day of school and it's the first time you've been back since . . .  "

I looked down at the floor and said nothing.

"You don't want to talk about school?"

I took a breath and exhaled.

"It w-w-was O-K-k-k-kay."

He cocked his head.

"Nobody said anything to you about it?"

I looked at the floor in shame.

"N-n-n-no. Th-th-th-they were either r-r-r-real n-n-nice or j-j-j-just ign-n-n-ored me."

He nodded.

"How do you feel about that?"

Oh, God! How I hated that question. Oh, how sick I was of hearing that question. Sometimes, I fantasized of him asking that stupid question and my standing up and saying, "This is how I feel about that!" and pulling out a .45 and blowing him away!

But, I could never do that. I could never let people know how I really felt. They would hate me even more. So, I took a deep breath and replied, softly, "I d-d-d-don't know; O-K-k-k-k I g-g-guess."

He raised an eyebrow as I said that and, after a minute, asked, "So, who is he?"

I looked away.


He paused and then read, "`I am brought back from my world to his....' Who is he?'

I didn't want to talk about this either. I was beginning to realize this was a mistake. I shouldn't have brought an example of my work in this week. I should just have sat and answered in grunts and monosyllables as I normally did.

"N-n-nob-b-b-ody. Its j-j-just p-p-part of the s-s-s-simile."

He was unrelenting. "Well, it can't be nobody. It has to be referring to someone. Besides, it’s not a simile. It's a metaphor."

This was irritating.

"Well, if you're g-g-g-going to g-g-get t-t-technical, it r-r-r-really isn't a p-p-p-poem, either."

He smiled.

"Well, I admit it is rather loose and free-form. So you weren't referring to any one man or boy in particular when you lamented being brought back from your world to his?"


There was silence. Now, I had done it. I hated it when I got so frustrated that I would blow up because as soon as I would, everyone would get mad at me and I would feel like a jerk. God, why did Mom have to walk in on me. Why couldn't she have waited instead of being her usual bossy, dictator self?

"Well, Jamie, our time is up."

Well, it was about time! Dr. Sikorsky continued.

"I want you to do me a favor. Over the next week, I want you to remember what you wrote in July about what you want to get out of our sessions. I want you, then, to write down if you are getting what you wanted and, if not, what you can do and what I can do to see that you get what you need."

A sneaky, subtle way to shift the responsibility for everything back on me. This way, if our sessions didn't work, it would be my fault. Just like everything else.


I stood up, as did Dr. Sikorsky.

"Jamie, do you mind of I keep your writing?"

I shrugged and Dr. Sikorsky smiled and said, "Thank you."

I was so grateful this "hour,"—forty minutes as Dr. Sikorsky was ten minutes late, as usual, and ended ten minutes early, as usual—was over. I almost ran for the elevator. The ride down, however, from the fourth floor of the Medical Arts Building to the lobby, was horrible. There was an older couple already on the elevator and they stared at me the whole way down, like they knew I was crazy and were afraid I'd do something dangerous. It was so humiliating.

I stood in front of the building looking over at the hospital. At the far end of the structure was the entrance to the emergency room. A faint memory rose in my mind of the stretcher rolling me in, the lights rushing past above my face, the urgent voices, the crying of my mother, and then . . . 

I turned my head and walked over to my old scraped-up bike. I unlocked the chain and pulled it away from the light pole to which I had locked it. After a couple of cars passed by on Canterbury Avenue, I took off north toward Main Street and home.

Rush hour traffic in Canterbury was not much, but Happy Hour traffic was. The hospital and the medical building were located just a few blocks south of the college and this part of Main Street was made up mostly of businesses catering to the students at Canterbury College. Classes at the college had started yesterday, the day after Labor Day, just as they had for Canterbury High School, and both Main Street and the sidewalks along Main were clogged with students escaping the rigors of academia in pursuit of food, drink, camaraderie, and—of course—sex. Once an almost safe opening appeared, I pedaled my old Typhoon across the street and up Canterbury Avenue, past the houses of Fraternity Row. However, when I came to Third Street, the street on which I lived, I did not turn right, but kept on pedaling until I came to Fifth. There, I turned left and rode past the library on the left and the Student Center and the freshman dorms on the right, up Canterbury Hill. Past the crest, I turned into the parking lot of the Science Center and parked my bike in the rack by the front door. A large group of students burst from the door, clad in their jeans and t-shirts, scraggly hair flowing over their collars, followed by another group of students in khakis, Topsiders, and Ralph Lauren shirts. No one seemed to notice me, which wasn't surprising in the least.

As the Trans Ams and Camaros and Corvettes, along with beat up Beetles and LTDs and Impalas, careened out of the lot, I trudged up the path leading from the Science Center, behind the main academic buildings of the college, to a grove of trees behind Appleman Hall, the main administrative building. This was my spot, my place, my refuge, my escape from the ugliness of life, where I could find beauty and peace and serenity, where I could sit and write and think and become one with the spirits of nature who guided me as I created. Here, I didn't stutter. Here, I wasn't laughed at. Here, I was me. It was here that I wrote the thoughts I had shown Dr. Sikorsky. I should have known he wouldn't understand. The only place where anything made sense was here.

As I came up to the place on the path where I always turned off, where a linden tree had been split by lightening one night, I froze. I heard voices. Someone was up here! Not only that, they were sitting on my bench, the bench that looked out over the valley to the west of town, the bench where I wrote and thought and regenerated. Someone was fouling and despoiling my bench!

How dare they invade my place! Anger rose in my heart. No, not anger. Fury! This was my place. Mine!

"It is beautiful, Jon! You were right! This is the most beautiful place I've seen since we came to Canterbury!"

It was a boy's voice and judging from its timber and pitch, he was just on the verge of puberty, maybe twelve years old. His English accent was delightful and . . . 

Wait! It didn't matter if he had a delightful English accent. It didn't matter that he, too, found beauty in my place. It was my place and he was invading it!

"I love you, Anthony."

Hey! I knew that voice! That was Jon Hughes! He was an acolyte at my church! His grandfather was my dad's boss at the bank! Holy Cow! He was telling another boy that he loved him! He was sitting with another boy in my secret place and telling him that he loved him!

Slowly, I crept closer, desperately trying to avoid making any noise. I had to know what was happening. I peered through a break in the holly bushes surrounding the bench and there, sitting side by side, an arm around each other’s shoulder, was indeed Jon Hughes and another boy whom I recognized as Father Macintosh's son. The Macintosh kid was resting his head on Jon's shoulder.

A strange conflicting feeling grew within me: anger, disgust, jealousy, envy, joy, longing. I didn't know what to think, how to feel about what I was seeing. My stomach felt funny and a tight feeling grew in my chest. I found I was having difficulty breathing and . . . good grief. I was getting hard!

I stood silently watching the two as, every once in awhile, Jon or—what was his name? Anthony?—would reach up and touch the other's face. It was beautiful. It was sickening.

Suddenly, anger swelling in me, I stomped forward and burst through the bushes. Jon and Anthony jumped apart, looks of panic on their faces as they looked up at me in horror. I tried to look surprised and then disgusted.

The three of us looked at each other for a moment and, then, without a word, feeling rather foolish and still not quite understanding why I had done it, I turned and made my way back down the path toward the Science Center parking lot.

I felt so angry, not at the boys anymore, but at myself. Those two boys were obviously in love and obviously enjoying a beautiful moment and obviously enjoying the very same qualities of that spot that I enjoyed. Why had I ruined it for them? Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with guilt. I wanted to run back up the hill, to apologize to them, to tell them it was OK and that I understood. I wanted them to know that I was their friend, and their secret was safe with me.

I stood at my bike, tears in my eyes, fiercely gripping the handlebars. I couldn't do it. I couldn't go back. Besides, they had probably run away in fear and were long gone. They probably ran the other way.

After a moment, I reached down and unlocked my chain, wrapped it around my neck, mounted my bike and pedaled back up Fifth Street. I felt like such a . . . such a shit. That's what my mom always called someone she didn't like. They were a shit. That's what I was. I was a shit. Maybe I should have done a better job of it in July. Maybe I should just go ahead and do it right this time.

As I coasted down Canterbury Avenue, I could see Jon and Anthony crossing the street up at First, by the Episcopal Church. They were walking fast and when Jon turned to look north up the street, he saw me, froze and then took off running, pulling Anthony along.

I stopped along the curb in front of the library and let them go. I didn't want to make it any worse than it already was.

I turned up Second Street and forlornly headed home, although why I was going home was a mystery. There was nothing there. That was it! That was why I was angry earlier at Jon and Anthony. They had what I wanted. They had love. They had someone who loved them and someone they could love. I had no one. Why bother going home? I rode past Professor Goldstein's huge ‘Adams Family’ house, half expecting to see Lurch at the door or Mortitia in a window, but all I saw was the redheaded guy who rented their garage apartment walking up the driveway covered in flour and tomato from his job at Mancinelli's.

Two more blocks up Third I reached home, or, at least, the house where I slept. Dad pulled into the driveway in his new `75 Chevy as I rode around the side of the house to park in the back yard. Dad had spent the previous evening bragging about how he had "Jewed down" the salesman and gotten such a great deal before the new `76's came in. He was able to get such a good deal, he said, because he worked at The Bank—he said that like the words were capitalized, and people were afraid of him.

I crept in the back door and Mom was standing before the stove frying some pork chops. She looked up for a moment, but didn't say anything. I just muttered a soft "hi" and proceeded to my room. I heard Dad crash through the front door and some conversation in the dining room, but could make nothing else out. At least they weren't fighting. Yet.

I could smell the pork chops as I sat at my desk. I was hungry, but I dreaded the time at the dinner table. I opened my geometry book and started my homework, but just as soon as I’d written my name at the top of the sheet, I heard Mom scream, "Jamie! Dinner! Now!"

I sighed and trudged downstairs.

No one said anything during dinner, which was a relief. Pork chops was one of my favorite dishes of Mom's, and it was easier to eat when there wasn't any fighting. When we finished, I washed the dishes while Mom changed into her night coat and Dad screamed at Walter Cronkite. I retreated to my room and resumed my homework.

At one point, I looked up at the picture of the poet Shelley which I had tacked above my desk. Shelley believed in freedom, in being independent of convention, of questioning authority. He was my hero. If only I could be a modern day Shelley. If only I could stand up to my parents; even better—if only I could leave my parents and actually BE free.

At nine o'clock, I went into the bathroom to take my shower. I always took mine early so that Dad would have plenty of hot water for his. I had already stripped down to my underwear and as I waited for the water to warm up, I looked in the mirror. No, I was still the same goofus-looking dork I had always been. My dark hair was longish, just like everyone else's at school; but, somehow, it just didn't look like everyone else's. My brown eyes had no excitement in them; they just looked dull and brown. The little bit of acne on both of my cheeks wasn't getting worse, but that was thanks to the megadoses of tetracycline I was taking. I had forgotten to shave that morning and a little dark fuzz had formed above my lip. My arms and torso weren't much, either. I wasn't muscled; nor was I fat. I was just... fleshy, I guess. I didn't have any hair on my chest, though a strand or two had started to grow around my nipples. There was a little under my arms and a hint of a trail leading downward from my navel. Overall, I was not much to look at. I would never find someone to cuddle with on the bench. I would never find what Jon and Anthony had found.

Jon and Anthony. I felt a twitch in my average looking dick. Well, it wasn't really average. It was average in size, I supposed. But, it had a strange little upward curve to the right. Not a lot, just enough to earn me the nickname in gym of "Crooked-dick." Well, the others might make fun of me, but since I was right-handed, it actually made jacking-off a little easier, I figured.

I felt another, bigger twitch and my dick started swelling up a bit. I dropped my shorts and stepped into the shower, quickly soaped up my body and rinsed, shampooed my hair, rinsed, and then put a little shampoo on my rigid, crooked, six inches.

It didn't take long. In fact, it was over a lot faster than usual, which was strange, considering that I didn't indulge in my usual jack-off images. There was no Pete Hardcastle with his long dick with its thick blond hair, no Mike Morales with his big uncut piece, nor even cute little Kelly Morgan, a late-bloomer who had just started getting a little tuft of red hair at the base of his cute little dick. It was strange. I started off thinking about Jon and Anthony in each other's arms and then the image was of me holding, no—of me being held by . . . by whom?

That was the weird thing. There was someone holding me, but who was it? And, what did he look like? I couldn't remember anyone in particular, any features, anything. All I knew was that I loved him and he loved me and he was holding me and that was enough to send me over the edge.

I rinsed my cum down the drain, turned off the water, and toweled myself off. I heard Dad yell some obscenity with my name attached to it and decided I had better hurry.

Later, in bed, all I could think of was the sight of those two twelve-year-old boys holding each other, the sound of them telling each other they loved the other, the feeling of emptiness inside as I realized that wasn't me. It was hours before I drifted off to sleep and, even then, my dreams were haunted by the boys and by the mysterious figure who loved me.