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Big is Better
Dancin' to the Jail House Rock
|"It was a dark and stormy night...." Well no - not actually. I was staring out through the living room bay window down at the street below and, in fact, it was broad daylight - and an otherwise picture- perfect New England Autumn day outside. Big amber, red and bright- orange leaves occasionally coaxed from their branches by a breeze caught my fleeting attention as they gently floated down past the window on their annual journey back to Mother Earth. But at best I was only transiently aware of the beautiful Fall weather, as if only passing through the deceptively calm eye of a killer hurricane. Inside I felt no tranquility - no peace whatsoever. I was caught up in a hellish maelstrom - adrift on chaotic seas - without a concept of what time or even what day it was.
The pile of college textbooks and the papers strewn about my desk next caught my eye only for a moment. They were exactly as I'd left them the day before. I'd been studying when I'd heard the knock on the door.
Reaching up to my mouth, I removed the pencil I'd been holding tightly clenched in my teeth. I stared blankly at the end of it a moment before it dawned on me I'd cleanly bitten off the eraser, then summarily chewed and swallowed it as well. I absent-mindedly flipped it on top of the mounting pile of other pencils I'd similarly destroyed in the past several minutes, then promptly yanked the last virgin-pencil out of the box, stuck the new one in my mouth and started chomping on it like a beaver.
When I tossed the empty box into the wastebasket, I spotted a dumbbell lying beside it on the floor and immediately thought of Sam again. It occurred to me that Sam fiddled with dumbbells in exactly the same way that I often twiddled with paperclips or pencils. Normally it wasn't my habit however to be annihilating whole boxes of pencils, as I was doing uncontrollably at the moment. Sam `twiddled' weights all the time. He was constantly lifting something, even while he was watching TV or cooking over the stove; sometimes, even while brushing his teeth.
The big guy always seemed to have a dumbbell in his hands. Sam was born to lift weights. It was what he lived for - well, eating and sex were close runner-ups. However, I'd gradually noticed over time another side to Sam's avid enthusiasm for `lifting things'. It was more as if he actually HAD to lift. I wasn't so sure anymore that he was even fully conscious of it. He seemed involuntarily compelled by something inside of him at times - something more like a physical `demand,' not unlike like the need to eat and sleep. Certainly I enjoyed eating and sleeping - and the latter a lot - but I also had to sleep. At some point, I simply had no choice in the matter. That same thing seemed oddly like it might also apply to Sam's constant lifting, as well. For him it wasn't an option.
There were dumbbells of all sizes scattered around every room of the apartment like dust bunnies. As I panned across the living room floor, it occurred to me that a better description would be `dust buffaloes'. I critically surveyed with some disdain the current state of housekeeping, making a mental note to clean up the place. Well, sometime soon - maybe.
I jumped up from the desk and began nervously pacing through the rest of the apartment, eventually finding myself back in the kitchen. There sat the usual mountain of unwashed dishes covering every available inch of counter space, looking more like a restaurant's kitchen after a busy night than a private residence; big pots and pans, mounds of dirty utensils, and stacks of glasses and large oval platters piled everywhere. Sam didn't even own a normal-sized dinner plate!
I anxiously scanned over every inch of the table, counters and other flat surfaces in the kitchen thoroughly one more time.
"Jesus Christ! Of all the DAMN times to lose my keys!" I shouted aloud, severely chastising myself again. "Where the fuck ARE they, Pete?"
I'd never felt more scared-out-of-my-wits than I did at that very moment, aimlessly roaming around Sam's apartment. Well, I guess technically-speaking it really was our apartment. I'd been calling this place my home for quite some time now.
I yanked a chair out from under the kitchen table and collapsed on it hard. I had no choice. My legs were shaking uncontrollably and barely able to hold me upright. I held my hands out in front of me and tried to mentally `command' them to cease their violent trembling - and a hopeless waste of time, I quickly discovered.
I was becoming more unglued with each passing minute and rapidly approaching the brink of genuine hysteria. And worse, my brain was only firing on one cylinder. At the moment I had no idea of what I could do, or even should be doing for that matter. I desperately needed to talk with someone but had no idea of who to call. That sudden realization just panicked me more. Then I had a sudden powerful urge to talk with my mother. I needed some fixing fast, and I definitely wanted my Mommy - and NOW! But my folks didn't have a telephone, of course, nor would they likely ever have one. There was no way to get in touch with them quickly. Next I thought of Zec.... but ditto - Zec and his new wife had no phone either. But that gave me another idea - and temporarily, some hope as well.
Jumping up, I grabbed for the telephone to call my old roommate John, almost ripping it off the wall in the process. I let the phone ring for minutes but there was no answer. Only then I remembered John told me he was taking off for the weekend somewhere with his girlfriend.
My hopes sank as fast as a torpedoed ship - and I physically sank back down on the kitchen chair once more. I couldn't remember ever feeling so completely alone - cut off and totally isolated.
It was almost a year ago that I'd first met Sam, and already it was Autumn again. It felt like I'd abandoned living in the college dormitory long ago. John had replaced me with Cindy, a beautiful and very buxom young coed, almost before my old dorm bed was even cold. That wasn't at all unexpected for John either, being the hetero-stud that he was. They were even `an item' now. John seemed seriously smitten by the love-bug, considering the `always play the field, Pete' advice he used to give me constantly. Frankly, I don't think Cindy's mega-boobs were any particular deterrent to their relationship either.
But John and I had remained close friends after I'd moved out. I'd also come out to him later in the Spring. Not too surprisingly, John had been admittedly a bit confused at first. He had his memories of me and that night at the whore house to reconcile initially, at least until I explained a few things about myself to him, though nothing more than he absolutely needed to know. Afterwards, he was completely nonplussed about having this new personal information concerning my sexual orientation. John was always too comfortable with who he was to have been at all uncomfortable with who I was. That seems to be more and more the way it works with most people, I thought. Those at peace with themselves generally are at peace with others. In fact, John was genuinely happy for me that I'd met Sam. In retrospect, our meeting had worked out very well for John, too. There were obvious side-benefits. First and foremost, he got to shag Cindy nightly. Although Sam had been initially a little suspicious of John, he'd nevertheless warmed up to him quickly. John had one of those magnetic, dynamic personalities that even Sam couldn't resist for too long. Eventually, Sam even extended John the offer to come over and use the gym whenever he liked. John, being a perpetually poor college student, immediately accepted Sam's offer and used the gym regularly to keep his hetero sex-appeal intact. Ironically, Sam probably saw John more frequently now than I did, due to my new course schedule.
I stared at the phone for awhile, desperate for it to magically ring, and yet terrified that it might. All the while I was turning over the horrors of past 24 hours in my mind, taking them for yet one more spin around the `ol block.
It all started to head south when I heard a loud, anxious knock on the door yesterday evening around suppertime. When I'd opened the door, I found Gary, one of Sam's football players from the college, standing there - and looking alarmingly upset. Sam still worked part- time at the college, more so in the Fall during the football season. Gary knew I was a close friend of Sam's, as well as his `roommate,' so he'd come over to personally tell me that Sam had just been taken into custody by the police with no explanations given.
"Pete, they just put him in handcuffs and hauled him away!"
Gary was probably reacting sympathetically to the shocked look on my face, but he offered to give me a ride over to the local police station right there on the spot - and I accepted instantly, not even pausing to grab my jacket or cap, otherwise normally a constant fixture on top of my head.
The police station was a modest-sized building standing adjacent to an equally modest Town Hall opposite the town common - or `the green,' as that characteristic feature of small New England towns might be known elsewhere.
As soon as Gary dropped me off, I bolted into the station and right up to the front desk - and then waited an eternity for the on-duty desk officer to leisurely finish his two doughnuts, cup of coffee and some paperwork before he finally looked up to acknowledge me. I quickly explained to him that I was Sam's friend and that he'd apparently just been arrested.
"What's the guy's name again?" he asked.
When I told him, he referred to a list on the desk.
"Yep, we have him in custody...."
I immediately asked why Sam had been arrested and what the charges were.
"That's police business," was his swift and final reply. When I asked if I could see Sam myself, the cop was initially very reluctant. He finally relented as I continued to press the issue, insisting repeatedly that I was Sam's closest `bud.'
"You need to pick your friends better then, kid," he replied sternly, but added, "O.K. I'll let you talk to the guy, but only for a couple of minutes."
As he lead me out to the small cellblock behind the station, he offered yet another unsolicited piece of advice. "You stand away from the bars when you talk with this guy, O.K.? This guy seems really agitated - and he's a real monster."
Trying to reassure the cop, I replied, "I know what he looks like. I'm his friend, remember? Sam's not a mean person at all."
The cop seemed at best very skeptical. "You stand away from those bars anyway. You hear me, kid?"
The desk officer was in no particular rush either. As he lead me back to the cellblock, his pace was so excruciatingly slow that I almost stepped on his heels several times.
And the jail was full. I hadn't expected that in this laid-back, peaceful little town. There were two or three men in every adjacent cell. "Gee, maybe there's a full moon or something," I remember thinking to myself. Most of the detainees seemed to be passed out. Some were sprawled on their beds and others directly on the floor and I assumed they were mostly drunks. But there was no doubt that this was a jail. The cellblock looked dreary; all the walls were painted in that ugly, drab institutional green.
Then I spotted Sam. Let's face it - he's not really easy to miss. He was more than just passively occupying his cell, however. Sam was moving around inside the cell like a newly-caged tiger, his massy pectorals conspicuously heaving under his sweatshirt at regular intervals, like the flaring nostrils of an enraged bull. The desk cop was still sauntering along in front of me, walking with his head down. As Sam spotted the cop, I saw him release something inconspicuously from his hand which fell silently on top of the bed mattress.
Then I also noticed that Sam also had a cellmate - kind of a nasty- looking dude, and not by any means a particularly small guy either. He didn't appear to be all that comfortable sharing that cell with Sam though. He was sitting on the floor, knees pulled up, with his body wedged tightly between the free-standing toilet and the corner of the cell. It looked to me as if he was obviously trying to maintain as low and unobtrusive a profile as possible.
"Hey you. You got a visitor," the cop announced without so much as even looking at Sam, and then turning to me, he said, "And you - you make it quick now!" Turning around, he slowly meandered back out to the front desk.
As soon as the officer was out of sight, I saw Sam bend down and pick up the object he'd clandestinely dropped on the mattress moments before. To see Sam with something in his hands, in itself, wasn't odd or unusual to me. But somehow inside a jail cell, this was oddly something that I did not expect to see. But then again, why would I naively think Sam would behave differently even while we was in jail. What Sam was holding was a piece of slightly-bowed heavy metal channel about 3 feet long. I also quickly spotted the place where he'd acquired it, too. The end of one of the cast iron bed frames was missing – and snapped off pretty neatly.
Sam shot me only the briefest of glances, but the look on his face instantly told me that, if Sam was maybe a little scared, he was a LOT angry - almost in a wild rage. Now this was definitely something completely out of the norm. I'd never seen Sam looking so riled! Come to think of it, I'd never even seem him get worked up over anything at all.
Sam had always been easy-going and absolutely unflappable. Nothing ever bothered him. I'd even gotten pissed off at him before for exactly that reason - simply because he was NOT getting upset about something when I thought he should be! But merely saying that he looked `pissed off' didn't begin to capture his crazed demeanor. Honestly, what I saw made every hair on my body suddenly stand up straight. This man sure looked like Sam, but that was where any similarity with the Sam I knew stopped. This `Sam' appeared to be right on the edge of going completely berserk.
"Sam, are you O.K.?" I blurted out, despite seeing that he clearly was not. "Just what the HELL is this all about anyway?"
Sam didn't answer and just continued circling like a wild man. I waited a long time before I asked him again. Eventually he started to rant, but what came out of his mouth was neither useful nor enlightening. At best it was just fragmented thoughts muttered in cryptic phrases delivered with an angry snarl.
"They says everything'd be OK.... Weren't even nothin' to worry about.... This here ain't right," Sam growled as he circled the cell. "Nobody'd ever know, they says... the PO-lice got it all wrong, they does. I just wanted `em to leave us alone... this is all wrong... all wrong...."
"Got what wrong? Did what? Who are `they,' Sam?" I hollered back, trying to get him to stand still and talk to me. Sam continued storming around wildly, slashing at the air occasionally with that nasty piece of iron casting. He began pounding the cement wall in the rear of the cell with his caveman's club of a forearm every time he circled past it, and the chunks of concrete that kept falling to the floor demonstrated unequivocally his emotional state - not to mention the amount of force he was putting behind those blows.
Then suddenly Sam just halted - and began g-l-a-r-i-n-g down at his cellmate with a look that not only could kill, but WOULD kill, too.
Sam bellowed out, "And YOU - Don't ya stare at me NO MORE!"
At least now I could understand why the desk cop thought that I needed to be warned to stand back from the cell, even though Sam wouldn't hurt me personally.
Sam's cellmate was so momentarily stunned that he unfortunately did not immediately avert his eyes from Sam. That was a definite mistake. A moment later, Sam was standing on top of the man and leering down at him. Then he leaned over and held out the cast iron rail level with a hand on each end only inches in front of the guy's face.
In a menacingly slow and deliberate monotone voice, Sam repeated through clenched teeth, "I - SAID - DON'T - STARE...."
I saw the sleeping soldiers awaken in Sam's sleeves, as they briefly jumped to full attention. In one stunningly quick motion, Sam folded the iron rail like a piece of licorice between his hands. The scream of the metal was mercifully short-lived, quickly snapping cleanly into two pieces with a loud crack. The degree of fear I witnessed in the man's face said to me that cardiac arrest was a distinct possibility, but that didn't seem to even register with Sam.
Tossing the two broken pieces aside, Sam thrust his arm downward and seized the fellow by his chest in a vice grip, sweeping up half of his cellmate's jacket with a single grab of his huge paw. Then an awful noise started emanating from Sam; a sustained, very low- pitched, deep throaty rumble that reminded me more of the stalking Tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park than a human being. As Sam began straightening up, his oversized sweatshirt snapped taunt across his entire upper torso. If the sleeping soldiers had only stirred briefly before, this time the whole battalion was scrambling for duty dressed in full battle gear, all gun magazines fully-loaded and ready for action. In one slow continuous motion, he raised his human prey straight off the floor to the height of his own chest and then effortlessly suspended him there. Bulging muscles appeared everywhere like lava domes underneath Sam's sweatshirt, his sleeve was so taxed it was a shade lighter than the rest of his sweatshirt and the shape of it suggesting a regulation-sized football had mysteriously become wedged inside.
The man's mouth hung wide open as he stared at Sam in horror - but he wasn't uttering a sound. But I was certain that at any second, I was going to witness a pair of human eyeballs literally popping right out of their sockets. Then as if simply opening a chest drawer, Sam slowly drew the man into his own body until they were almost nose-to- nose and then held him there face-to-face with his one arm for the longest time, all-the-while growling at him like a predacious carnivore. It was a terrifying, utterly animal sound. Apparently now satisfied with his threat display, Sam began lifting the man even higher. The broad heads of his deltoid expanded like an over- inflating dome to accommodate his will - and as a direct result, his shoulder seams opened up in three directions, giving way all at once. Sam looked briefly at the shoulder of his sweatshirt, probably distracted by to the sound of tearing material, and then he immediately returned his focus back to the man. Sam continued lifting the man skyward as easily as if he were raising his hand to answer a teacher's question until he'd firmly planted the back of his cellmate's shoulders squarely against the ceiling. Terrified, I held my breath waiting to see what would happened next.
But Sam applied no additional pressure. Instead, he simply held the man pinned to the ceiling, leering at him disdainfully. But slowly, Sam's guttural growls subsided and his expression change from enraged to something that appeared more inquisitive, as if observing an animal trapped in a cage. It was that unmistakably boyish expression I'd seen on him before on some occasions, as if Sam was now thinking, "Say, how'd you get up there in this predicament anyway?" Ultimately, Sam either decided that this wasn't worth his effort or perhaps he'd just finished venting his pent-up anger - or maybe he even felt suddenly sorry for the guy. I really have no idea of what Sam was feeling. But whatever his reasons, eventually Sam just smoothly lowered the terrified guy down again, tucking him back in his corner between the toilet and the cell bars like he was putting a rag doll back to bed. Then Sam awkwardly patted him on the head, as if saying, "It's O.K. now. It was just a bad dream, that's all."
As soon as the guy was released from Sam's grasp however, he cowered down further and pressed his body into the corner like a contortionist, as if trying to completely disappear into the floor and walls. I knew somehow that this incident was done and over with for now, and that Sam wasn't likely to even notice this guy again, whether or not he stared. At least Sam had gotten that - if nothing else - out of his system.
I bent over and, with my hands on my knees, forced myself to take several deep breaths - not only sighs of relief, but even more to recover at least partially the wits I'd been frightened out of. For a moment I had feared for his cellmate's life. Sam had come too close to totally losing control. He seemed every bit capable of seriously maiming - or possibly even murder. This unnerved me to the bone. This was NOT the Sam I knew. But it was even more bizarre when I became suddenly aware of something else: not only had this enraged monster just scared the living daylights out of me, but he'd also oddly given me an enraged boner in the process.
But Samson immediately resumed his distressed pacing, and soon started mumbling again only minor variations of the same themes as before. I wasn't going to get anything more useful out of him in his currently agitated state. He was still one very riled-up dude.
I decided my priority at the moment had to be focused only on getting Sam calmed down - if I could somehow manage that. I wasn't sure. This savage man-mountain needed some extra TLC and soothing but fast. I also was paying closer attention now to the growing damage that Sam was unconsciously causing to that cement wall, too - and this sent up some big red flags. His wall-pounding had to be stopped immediately before the damage became more noticeable than it already was. So I began talking non-stop with as soothing a tone of voice as I could muster, hoping to successfully penetrate that sometimes very thick skull of his.
I babbled that Gary had come over and told me he was in jail; that Gary had also given me a ride down to the station; that Gary had offered to stay and close up the gym if I wasn't back in time; that I was going to get hold of lawyer right away - immediately - as soon as I left. I told Sam that I'd go through the student-advocate program at the college; that they'd provide legal assistance free-of-charge to registered undergraduates or faculty. I said that I'd be back in the morning with a lawyer. I told him that I'd do whatever was necessary - absolutely whatever - to get him out of jail. And repeatedly, I kept telling him to JUST CALM DOWN – to take deep breaths. "Just breathe, Sam. Big, deep breaths." I told him not to worry about anything at all, and that I'd take care of everything.
Sam continued circling the perimeter of the cell as I rambled on and on. Gradually, his pacing became less frantic - and certainly less destructive - than before. At least now he only slammed the wall on every third or fourth pass. But for my own peace of mind, I needed to also be absolutely sure I was `in contact' with the big bruiser. To test the real quality of this `communication' I made a clear demand to see how he'd respond. Actually, I hollered so loudly that I startled even myself.
"Sam, I WILL be back – honest! Everything's gonna be OK! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? STOP AND LOOK AT ME!"
How I could have been making such unsubstantiated promises though - well, I simply didn't know. I didn't know a single useful detail about even the circumstances concerning his arrest, as yet. Nevertheless, I promised anyway. My immediate goal was only to get Sam settled-down right now, calming him with repeated reassurances that everything was going to be O.K.
Sam's pacing slowed until he eventually stopped and stood still. Looking at me with a sincerely worried expression now, he spoke more deliberately.
"Yeah, O.K. Thanks. Thanks, Pete. Appreciate all that, I does. A lot...."
Suddenly having gained his undivided attention, I quickly stepped up to the cell and grabbed the bars. Sticking my head between them, I whispered loudly, "Pssssssstt," clearly indicating that I wanted to speak very privately with him now. Sam walked up to the front of the cell and stood there looking down at me, covering my hands with his own on the bars.
Mimicking me exactly, he whispered back, "Yep. What's up, Pete?"
In a loud whisper, I replied, "Sam - You gotta STOP hitting that wall - or anything else for that matter! CALM DOWN! You STOP it right now! Do you hear me? Stop it. NO MORE!! Promise me?"
"I hears ya. O.K., Pete. I won't hit nothin' no more. I promise," he whispered back, grinning as if this was all some kind of game. God, the big lug could really annoy the hell out of me to no end sometimes!
"Sam, you just be cool and sit tight now. I'll get you out of here - and don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Then, glancing back at the crumbling rear wall, I quickly added, "Aahh... or couldn't do myself, buddy. O.K.?"
Reassuring Sam one final time that I'd be back in the morning, I departed. I spent the rest of the evening getting the Student Advocate at the College, professionally a lawyer, involved to help Sam out. Thank God the guy seemed both very concerned and extremely competent. It was well past midnight however by the time that he had the bail part even arranged. The lawyer told me that it couldn't be posted until the morning, and that I should go home and get some rest.
I was absolutely exhausted and it was already well after midnight. I took his advice and headed back home to try to get some sleep. I was just beginning to feel a bit better, too - if ever so slightly - when I eventually turned into bed. I didn't sleep much though. It was pretty weird being alone in that apartment for the very first time since I'd moved in. I suddenly missed Sam something awful. I was also absolutely wildly horny, which I thought very odd, especially under the circumstances. I must have spanked the monkey four times in quick succession. Even once would have been a rare event ever since I'd met Sam. The guy drained my tanks insatiably! Lucky, lucky me.
Well that was what had happened the day before, but it all seemed like ancient history to me now, as I sat there in the kitchen staring alternately at the dirty dishes and the telephone.
My thoughts now turned to everything that had happened since then. Yesterday's events paled against the surreal nightmare that today grew worse with every passing hour. Someone was walking over my grave.
I glanced at my shaking hands again. "Yep. Parkinson's," I thought to myself. Then to hold back the tears that suddenly welled up in my eyes, I started to yelling, "Where the fuck are those God-damn truck keys, Peter? Just what the FUCK is HAPPENING, PETER?"
And that was it - the crux of my whole dilemma. You see, I didn't really have a clue.
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