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The Pale Blue Sky

by Jack Lynch

Part 5 - Carey, Chapter 7


Numb. What an idiot, Carey thought. Why had he fallen so hard for this guy? A boy. Not even a man. Really, get your head screwed on right. How could he get so emotionally sucked in after a hook-up? Well…more than a hook-up. From the moment he first saw Apollo sitting on the grass with his head tucked into his arms in that traffic median, there was some kind of primal emotional connection. He needed to be close to this…guy, boy, whatever. Mentally, he plotted what it would take if he booked a flight to Portland.

Realistically, he wasn't going to dump summer school. Two weeks until the term was over. Apollo was gone. Probably forever. It was almost as if he had died. As he lay there, he let out one giant sob.

Dragging himself out of bed, he robotically went through the motions. His usual Saturday routine.

What a sorry life of bizarre random sexual encounters he'd had. Going way back, watching two boys jerk each other off at that nudist picnic. That perfect boy, Liam, with the perverted father. Jerking off with Bjorn. Jerking off Cade. That wild nude party that Andrew had invited him to. He just shook his head. Then, his first encounter with Apollo. Crazy, crazy Harper and her even crazier brother, Campbell. The Palace. Rikk's. How did this all happen? When he looked in the mirror, he looked positively straight, clean cut. Like someone who was a member of the Young Republicans.

After slogging through the day and eating only a handful of cereal and a couple of swallows of water, he lay in bed and shrugged his shoulders. I guess the only thing to do was to keep going.

He sat up in bed. Gain new purpose. Apply yourself. Work hard. No, work harder. Look straight ahead. Don't look left; don't look right. About 10 pm, he showered, brushed his teeth, got dressed and went to the sub shop on the corner. He ate ravenously. When he returned to his room, he reviewed his course notes, saw what he needed to do, and buckled down. For the next 3 hours, he concentrated on his home work. About 2 am, he fell into bed and slept hard for the next 12 hours.

The final weeks of summer school, he powered through his courses, studied voraciously, took his finals, and aced both courses. Returning home, he kicked back, enjoyed the warm summer days, and got ready for the fall semester.

Sophomore year. Carey returned to campus with the same determination he had at the end of summer school. He attacked his courses with vigor. Spending hours in the library, he did research for class assignments and papers, poured over his lecture notes, and crammed for the inevitable quizzes.

Outside of having to deal with morning wood each day, he managed to tamp down most of his sexual thoughts.

The only course that frustrated him was OxyStat. Named in part for the brutal and unyielding professor who taught it, Statistics was reputed to be the toughest course in the Poly Sci curriculum. Other kids joked about the name, likening it to some kind of opioid. To Carey, there was nothing funny about it. Sometimes he had to struggle through a single page of text or a problem ten or fifteen times until it finally sunk in.

About a third of the way through the semester and completely blocked on understanding one particular concept, he decided to seek counsel from the source: Dr. Oxydahl. He made an appointment to see him during his posted office hours. One never dropped in on the professor; an appointment made in advance was required. He showed up promptly at 3:00 on Thursday.

Sitting across the desk from Dr. Oxydahl, Carey realized this was the closest he'd ever been to him physically. He always conducted his classes from the stage of a lecture bowl, remaining some distance from most of the students. The professor sat with his elbows on the arms of his office chair, hands slightly clasped in front of his chest. The man was probably in his mid to late forties. Short, straight, dark, almost black hair. Dark piercing eyes. Narrow face, square jaw.

Speaking in a clear, deep voice, he patiently talked Carey through one of the problems he had been struggling with. As they talked, more the Professor talking and Carey listening, he turned his chair to the side and gazed out the window. In an almost rote fashion, he recited the concept and explained how to apply it to the problem. Carey studied his notes, alternately referring to the open text book in front of him. All of a sudden, it clicked in. He got it! A sense of relief washed over him.

"Oh, Professor Oxydahl. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Oxydahl didn't smile back but nodded his head with satisfaction.

Carey was folding his notebook shut when he happened to glance up at the book shelf to the left of the professor's desk. Sitting on top of it was a hat. Black. Wide brim. Flat top. A Zorro hat. His mouth literally fell open. His face reddened; his breath caught in his throat. Then he turned to Dr. Oxydahl.

Oxydahl stared back at Carey, dropping his hands and resting them on the arms of his chair. Nothing was said for several seconds.

A smile formed on Oxydahl's face. "So-o-o-o," he said slowly.

Carey just sat frozen in the chair.

"I don't understand."

He couldn't think of the next thing to say. Oxydahl continued to appraise him silently.

Finally, "Have you been stalking me or something?"

A subtle shake of the head.

"No." A pause. "But, I've been keeping track of you, in a manner of speaking."

"Since when?"

"Freshman orientation."

Carey could feel his face burning. He started breathing harder.

"I look for students who have a certain potential."

"Potential for what?"

Oxydahl didn't answer. He just stared at Carey with a serious expression.

"You were watching me at the movie theatre. I saw you."

Oxydahl nodded, smiling ever so slightly.

"Yes, that was rather…interesting."

Carey's embarrassment was almost complete.

"Did you follow me there?"

"No. I just check that theater out once in awhile. I figured I might see you there eventually."

Carey thought of that old guy who had jerked him off.

"Did you…?" He was going to say, set me up.

Before Carey could complete the sentence, Oxydahl interrupted.

"Yes. I did."

Carey leaned forward in his chair and gasped.

"What if I never went there?"

"I guess I would have been wrong about you." Pause. "But I wasn't."

Another small smile.

"So, you saw everything?"

Carey could feel his voice getting somewhat shrill.

"I saw enough." Then, as if to clarify, "To know."

Carey slumped into the back of the chair.

Now, more quietly, "And, at the dance club. The same thing?"


Carey looked down. He didn't have a clue as to what to say or do.

Using measured words, Oxydahl said, "I saw you with that boy. I was standing outside the frat house when he showed up."

Carey's head was pounding all of a sudden. He rubbed his temples with his fingers, continuing to look down. The office was silent for several moments. The only sound came from a clock on the wall ticking off the seconds.

"Look," Oxydahl continued. "I am a member of an organization, a very discreet club, if you will," stepping hard on the word discreet, "comprised of men and women who," pausing, "have an interest in certain young people." pausing again, "Like you."

Carey looked up at Oxydahl. He realized his mouth and lips were completely dry. He cleared his throat but was unable to speak.

"I'd like to invite you to meet with us," Oxydahl continued at the same, slow, even pace. "For an interview about some of your…interests."

Carey cleared his throat again and then answered in a small voice, "Ok."

Oxydahl turned his chair to the side and stared up at the hat on the book shelf.

"Good. That's good," in a straight voice revealing a tiny bit of relief.

Turning back to Carey, "Now that I have your agreement to meet, I'd like to give you some instructions."

He reached into the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a business card.

"We'll be meeting on Tuesday at 9 pm at this address," he said as he handed it to Carey.

It looked like a calling card of some sort but it had no name on it; just an address.

"Listen carefully," Oxydahl continued. "When you arrive, go around to the back door. Use your watch or cell phone. Knock on the door at precisely nine o'clock. Watch the second hand; not a second before or a second after. You won't be admitted if you are either early or late."

"Nine o'clock," Carey repeated.

Reaching into another drawer, Oxydahl pulled out a small envelope and handed it to Carey.

"There's a suppository in this envelope. Do you know what a suppository is?"

Carey nodded, looking down at the envelope.

"Follow the instructions. Insert it at 6 pm. Don't eat or drink anything after that time. And, be sure you're freshly showered."

Carey opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. He had lots of questions but he didn't know where to begin. He was also afraid of what the answers might be.

"If that's it, I have another student coming in shortly. Thank you for coming by," Oxydahl said curtly.

Looking down, he made some notes.

Silently, Carey closed his notebook and dropped it into his book bag along with the envelope.

He got up and softly said, "Thank you." As he pulled on the door to leave he turned and said, "When I saw you…there…you had a mustache."

Oxydahl smirked, "Just part of the costume."

Carey walked out and closed the door.

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