Behind The Silver Screen
By Jerry Miller
I heard his footsteps fade away. The clouds moved in, shutting the moonlight off. I sat in the darkness. I was hit hard by the realization of what just occurred.
The sounds of the night were stilled by the confusion of my mind. A breeze found its way across my face when the swing creaked slightly from the light swaying of my body. I caught a brief glimpse of him when he passed under the streetlight near his house; sadly, he then became a shadow in the night and in my life.
It was my fault and it wasn't easy to rationalize it. I had done it. I crossed the line that we had agreed to. But he had given me permission to reach beyond that line. I had taken him further than we had ever gone before.
I pushed myself off the swing and walked into the house. I knew my way around and ignored the light switch. Up the stairs and into my room, I hoped to find the darkness warming and comforting. I took off my clothes and fell on my bed, naked.
With Jay, I’d gambled. I’d hoped we would finally move to other ways of play. Taking him into my mouth was a wonderful experience because I was able to taste his body. I savored the memory of his cock and won't ever forget it.
Taking my hand to my own cock, I found it hard and waiting for my attention. I enclosed my fingers around it and gently squeezed and stroked. My mind's eye was on Jay, naked and hard. We embraced and kissed our hearts out as our cocks rubbed up against each other. It was how I had always dreamed it would be, at that moment. Once I could have Jay want me as much as I wanted him, I knew we would have explored all the aspects of gay lovemaking. I played out the scene of my heart's lust. Jay and I made love to each other with our touch, our mouths and our cocks.
I fell into the masturbatory fantasy. I wanted Jay on top and inside me. I wanted him to be the first guy where no guy has been before. I imagined feeling his cock probing my insides. I could feel its hardness straining for release. I was beyond the simple fact that I was stroking my own cock. Jay would cum inside me. Oh, I wanted it so bad. When my head fell back and hit the pillow, my orgasm brought me back to reality. My hand still gripped my cock as cum ran off my belly and stained my sheets.
Harsh reality brought me down from the orgasmic high. Jay was gone and I couldn’t have him. Not as a lover, not even a friend. The night's bitter darkness gave me no comfort. I cried tears of loss and loneliness. Jay was supposed to be here now, lying next to me, but he wasn't. I had suspected he was gay and I wanted the exploration to be exhilarating and memorable. In denying me, he had denied himself and cheated us both. I found no peace in my heart from that.
I must have fallen asleep shortly thereafter, since I don't remember anything else until the sun's warmth fell upon my face. I glanced over at the alarm clock; it read 9:39. My family would be home later that evening and I had homework to do before going to school the next day. I tried not to think about Jay as I swung my legs over the side of the bed and looked down at myself. I could feel the dried cum under my butt, stiff on my sheets. My cock looked so small and innocent.
I closed my eyes, remembering our friendship, Jay's and mine. How we met, became best buds, spent as much time together as possible. When we both turned sixteen, we got jobs. He went with the township fire department; I washed dishes at Gaby's Kitchen. On that last night, I had so much to tell him about my new job. I was excited. Damn.
I ran my hand across my abdomen and felt the dried cum there as well. I needed a shower. I decided since I was off today to go see Romeo and Juliet. I really wasn't in the mood for homework. After I showered, I walked the mile and a half to the theater and settled into a seat midway down the aisle. The movie was incredible. I watched with anticipation of the morning-after bedroom scene. I marveled at the beauty of Leonard Whiting who played Romeo. Those chiseled buttocks I knew, would send me into many masturbation fantasies.
Even when Olivia Hussey bounced her breasts across the screen, I just couldn't take my eyes off Leonard. Throughout the entire movie, the shape of his human form was awe-inspiring. The costumes fitted each of the younger male bodies like gift-wrapping, tight but not too revealing. But despite my enjoyment of the movie, there was something else working within me.
When the credits had ended and the curtain closed across the stage, I realized that I had entered into a new world. I felt intensity as I sat in that theater, during the movie, feeling its spirit as if the theater were alive. The four walls contained a history of images, illuminated by what I would learn later was the purest light of all light sources of a carbon fed flame. I sensed a living entity surround me as I sat there marveling at the science of motion pictures.
Flickering shadows engulfed the silver screen with fantasies, dramas and comedies. I knew then, when the lights came up at the end of the movie that I wanted to be a part of all this. I wanted to belong.
Walking north on Main Street to my home there in Shiloh, I was on a natural high. There was a burning sensation inside my belly that I knew would never leave. I decided on that walk that I would learn everything I could about the business.
Following along the road's edges I passed Jay's house. My heart sank as I recalled the events of the previous night. I looked towards his front bedroom window but saw no movement. I became lost in my memories of Jay and the times we had together. It just wasn't always about sex. It was a true friendship, with the benefits of secrets and companionship. When it turned sexual, it just seemed to be the natural progression of things and I thought it would never end. I worried how he would act in school since we had three classes together. After a restless night and early morning homework rush, I would find out.
At school, it was unavoidable: I saw Jay. But it seemed like he did everything he could not to see or notice me. Finally, in gym, which was our last period, he couldn't avoid me. The teacher had us playing a quick scrimmage of basketball. I was on the skins team and Jay was on the shirts. In one play, I had the ball and Jay was in my face. As our eyes locked, I searched for anything, anything at all. My brief hesitation with him cost me. Stealing the ball from me, he raced for the basket and took it in for a lay up.
I hung over, with my hands on my knees, defeated but not from just from losing the ball: it was what I did see in his eyes that blew me away. They were distant and unknowing. There was no acknowledgement.
In the locker room, we all undressed for our showers. Jay hadn't taken his usual locker next to me. I watched him undress with Ben and Ted. I was jealous. I turned away when I felt like I was going to choke up and lose it, but I held on and went into the showers. The three of them were laughing and joking, I tried to ignore them but I became overwhelmed and leaned up against the wall with my hands outstretched. No one could see the tears as they fell from my eyes and were quickly washed away by the shower spray. After I dressed, I headed for the nearest exit door, once outside where I could finally breathe.
I made my way to the bus and took a seat in the back row. I lowered my head and closed my eyes. I felt the warm breeze of April cross my head as a hand placed itself on my knee. I turned and opened my eyes, hoping, hoping with all my heart it was Jay. It was Ben. My heart sank.
"Nice game," he said.
"You won," I said, as I tried to smile at him.
"Yeah, I know."
I looked up to see Jay get on the bus and sat down in the front. Ben noticed too.
"What's up with you and Jay?" he asked.
I wondered when our friends would start asking questions. I wanted so much to say, "Ben, I sucked Jay's dick and he loved it. But now we’re not friends anymore." But that wasn't what was in my heart. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know, you should ask him."
"What did he say?"
"Nothing much, said you guys had a falling out."
"That's all he said?"
It was near the end of April, with only five weeks left in the school year and that's how it remained. With Jay's distance grew between us. With Ben it became narrowed, but it was not entirely sexual. Ben and I would jack off together looking at Playboy. He savored the beauty of big tits with his big expressive eyes and me? I got off watching him work his cock. We never touched each other. I always had the urge, but never acted on it. Lessons learned.
Jay kept his distance. Ben kept asking what it was that split my friendship with Jay, and all I could say was that it was Jay's choice, not mine. I knew Ben had been talking to Jay, trying to intercede and create a reconciliation between us, but Jay stood firm. I buried myself in schoolwork and my job. I did get Ben a job at the theater. I think he loved it as much as I did.
I had known Ben since fourth grade but we had not really developed that 'best' friend type of relationship until now. He became a lifesaver for me during this time. Our 'best' friendship grew stronger. Ben never came out and said anything, but since I had always been good about reading faces and eyes, I believed in my heart that he knew more about Jay and me than he ever revealed. If he did or even if he had a clue apparently it didn't affect our friendship. He did ask if Jay and I ever jerked off together and I just told him sometimes. I debated with myself to tell him about being gay, but always retreated back into the closet. He would keep me posted on things in Jay's life, but like our own, those things were limited to work, school, parents, and, for them, possibly girlfriends.
With my job, I found an escape, a world that accepted me, never questioning. Over those next two months, I learned about changing the marquee, fitting it correctly for spacing and centering. There was an art to it I found and I became a master, or so I wanted to believe.
I eagerly sought out things to learn like promotional showmanship, customer service, popping popcorn and selling tickets. There was one part of the theater that seemed a mystery to me and since it was forbidden to go there, I knew I had to. I found my way eventually into the projection booth where I could see the inner workings of film handling and presentation. Those men were members of the motion picture operators or projectionist union.
Union rules applied to all theaters concerning who was to be inside the projection room. Bill was our full time projectionist. He invited me in and even allowed me to touch a projector. I was taught how to tread and make changeovers. There were two projectors and, with the cue marks printed on the end of each reel of film, the operator switched projectors or 'changeover' without anyone in the theater realizing it.
I was hooked and wanted to learn more, but Bill was concerned that someone would find out and he would be in trouble. I had had enough exposure to want to complete my training.
After school was out in June, I went to the Loews Downtown theatre and talked to Mr. Denton again, asked if I get hours there as well. He agreed and I started working both theaters getting in about 60-70 hours a week.
The first day at the downtown theatre was pretty uneventful. David, the usher who gave me the message in April about the job, showed me where to change into my tux. He led me down the far right aisle through the exit curtains, up some steps that led backstage. I followed him to the right rear corner of the stage. From there he lead me down to the basement of the stage to the locker room. It had a one row of lockers along one wall, a badly worn metal table that stood in the corner, and two lounge metal and leather sofas.
When I glanced at the lockers, David said they weren't assigned. I looked in the first locker and found an old jar of Vaseline on the shelf. The second locker was empty, so I hung my tux on the door while I changed in front of David.
Once I was dressed, David took me back upstairs to show me the stage area. The theatre had once been a live vaudeville show place. The stage rigging was intact, ropes going everywhere. I learned that the screen could be 'flown' up so the stage could be used for live presentations.
The light bank looked like something from an old Frankenstein movie, with knobs and pull handles sticking out from its board. David took me behind the screen and told me it was silver because they used to show 3D movies back in the fifties. When I noticed that the screen was full of holes he explained that was how the sound came out through the screen. Three large "Voice of the Theater" Altec-Lansing speakers were positioned behind the screen with huge wire cords that ran around them. David showed me the ropes they used to move the masking in or out over the screen. He explained that we rarely handled anything behind the silver screen because it fell into the territory of the stagehands union.
David led me back downstairs to show me a tunnel under the auditorium; it sloped upward as we neared the front. The storage areas were located under the lobby. We ascended the stairs, which led us into the pay telephone lounge and then out into the lobby.
Since I had worked at the Northtown location, I didn't need to go through the usual training. I fell into the routine of things and I felt right at home. My summer was ideal. Working all the time at both theaters kept me out of the house and away from my father, who I didn't really get along with.
Near the end of June, at the Northtown, we got a second run movie called The Boys in the Band. I thought at first it was a musical until I saw the movie poster for it. I was curious but I sat there in that darkened theater with only one paid patron and watched in stunned silence. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever suspect that homosexuals could be so cruel and demeaning. My first exposure of seeing gays in a movie was both fascinating and frightening. I didn't really know any other gay people and I began to wonder if this was really the kind of life I wanted to live. I knew my feelings and what I wanted, but the movie haunted me.
In September, right after school started, I was worked the door on the evening shift at the downtown theatre. I looked up one night when I heard the front door open and coming up the foyer was him. The guy I saw at the bus stop back in April. I knew I would never forget him. My heart immediately did a flip-flop.
"Hi, can I help you?" I said, noticing he didn't have a ticket.
"May I see the manager, please?" he asked.
"Sure, give me a minute."
I walked over to the intercom box and called Mr. Denton down.
"May I help you?" Mr. Denton asked.
"Could I please get a job application?"
"Sure thing, I’ll be right back," Mr. Denton said, as he went to the lower office to get one.
"You like working here?" he asked me.
"Yeah, I do. Actually, I love it."
"That's great," he said with a smile that sent a warm feeling all through chest.
I wondered if he had any idea what kind of effect he was having on me. He kept his eyes on mine but I was doing my best not to let on.
"Which school are you at?" he asked.
Then, from behind, I heard the office door close.
"Here you go, bring it back as soon as you can. I have an opening."
"Okay sir," he said, "I'll do just that."
And then he was out the door and Mr. Denton disappeared from the lobby.
The next few days I watched for him, hoping he would come back. On Friday, I had to work at Northtown. It was on Saturday when I worked downtown that he came through the front doors.
He smiled and said, "Hi."
"Hi," I said offering my hand to shake.
"I’m starting today."
I think my mind went through every single expression of excitement and joy.
"I'm Mike." I told him.
"I'm Mike," he said.
"Wow, we got the same name."
"Yeah. That's neat, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I agree," I said, "Let me call the assistant manager and let her know you're here, Mike."
I walked over to the squawk box as we all called it and told her that Mike was here. Eleanor, a grey haired and middle aged woman, came down from her office and had me take him upstairs to the mezzanine, near the manager's closet, so I could fit him for a tux. I led him to the men's lounge and told him to take his clothes off. On the way up the stairs, I knew I was going to see him in his underwear and I knew I would have a physical reaction to that.
I unlocked the closet door and pulled out some pants for him to try on. I took them in the lounge and got my first viewing of him in his underwear. It seemed that everyone wore the same kind: white t-shirts and white, tight jockey shorts. Mike filled them out nicely, but I couldn't get a clear definition of his cock through the material. I watched as he tried on all the pairs I had and we settled on one. After he put on his white shirt, I handed him a jacket I thought would fit. The fit was kind of loose but we felt it would work.
We chatted little during this process. Once I had him dressed, I led him back stage to the dressing room where he could stow his street clothes. I gave him the same tour that David gave me. I spent the day training him on sweeping, cleaning the ashtrays, the bathrooms and the lobby. Educated him on how handling a flashlight and tearing tickets. Mike easily picked up on everything.
I didn't realize it right than, but I fell in love with Mike. He was like no one else I had ever known. Not even Jay. He smiled at me all the time and his eyes revealed an open heart.
At 3 o'clock, Eleanor gave Mike and me our lunch break together so we changed and went a block north to Gold Star Chili. Over our lunch we chatted about school, our families and everything else I dared to bring up. He didn't have a girlfriend.
"Mike, it's going to be interesting around here with us having the same name," I said, "so it might make it easier if I went by Michael."
"Okay. Michael's my first name as well."
"What's your middle name?"
"Oh wow, that's mine."
Our hour lunch went by quickly as we discovered how many things we had in common. I kept wondering if we were interviewing each other for whatever application we had in mind for the other. I knew what I wanted. Should I tempt fate again?
The end of Chapter 3