Tyler Green’s Closet
by Ron Van Sweringen
As a child, Tyler Green was branded a misfit by the world, but inside of him a kernel of determination refused to be crushed. It had developed early, by the time he was in grade school. Maybe it was his small size or his obvious weakness, but there was something different about Tyler. He knew it and the other boys in his class sensed it.
With each passing year, the difference became more apparent. Strong young bodies suddenly became attractive to each other, and a new world of fascination opened up to almost everyone except Tyler Green. He remained small for his age and shy, although one difference had became painfully obvious to him: his longing to be loved by another boy.
This deep emptiness ached in him and sometimes he thought it would kill him. There were no words to describe it.
By now Tyler knew he was “Queer.” The word was used to taunt him time and again, and he was beaten up because of it. He had little defense except to retreat into a safe place in his mind and hope for someone to find him and love him.
It finally happened when he was fifteen.
Tyler Green’s body went through a remarkable change during his fifteenth year. He grew nearly four inches and he gained twenty pounds by the time school started in the fall of 1950. To his amazement, his face changed also. His blue eyes and thick lashes became beautiful over a wide smile of even white teeth.
The magnitude of the change was brought home to him suddenly on the first day of the new school year. Strange faces whizzed by in the hallway between classes, when a voice spoke up loudly.
“Hi, I’m Jeanne and this is Carole. You’re cute.” Two girls stood smiling at him, waiting for a reply.
All Tyler could say was “Hi.” The out of the blue compliment had overwhelmed him. For the first time in his life, Tyler had been told he was attractive by a peer. A new door was opening and he prayed with all of his might that the old one was closing.
Clark Williams was a dark-haired boy in Tyler’s gym class that year. He was older than Tyler, at sixteen, mature and masculine. He excelled at sports and was usually surrounded by friends. Tyler made a concerted effort not to stare at Clark’s body when the class undressed and showered. He did not always succeed and in those fleeting moments, he glimpsed the most beautiful apparition he had ever seen.
“If there is a God,” Tyler thought to himself, “send someone like that to love me.”
A quick smile and slight nod from Clark in the hall one day as he passed was enough for Tyler. Clark had noticed him.
It was nearing Thanksgiving, with bright cool days on the walk home from school in the afternoon. Tyler was in no particular hurry that day. His mother worked until six o’clock, and there was nothing to do in the empty apartment until she arrived home. His parents had divorced years ago, leaving Tyler and his mother to make a life on their own.
When Tyler turned the corner of Fourth Street, a block from home, he stopped cold. Clark Williams was leaning against a chain-link fence, smoking a cigarette. When he looked up at Tyler, there was no hint of surprise on his face, only a half-smile.
“Hi,” he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.”
There was no explanation for what happened next. As impossible as it seemed, Clark undressed Tyler in his bedroom and gently fulfilled every sexual fantasy Tyler had ever imagined. When he was gone, it occurred to Tyler that no conversation had transpired between them during the entire event. That realization somehow made him sad.
Tyler Green’s prayer had been partially answered. Clark Williams continued to have sex with him occasionally throughout the school year, but he did not make love to him the way Tyler longed for.
He held Tyler close in his arms and gave him the pleasure of his strong body until Tyler could hardly breath from joy. There were moments of affection between them, but not love. Slowly Tyler came to the conclusion that there would probably never be more between them. Strangely enough this realization only deepened his love for Clark.
During the last year of high school an incident occurred that Tyler had always dreaded. His mother came home from work early one afternoon and was surprised to find Tyler’s bedroom door closed. When she opened the door Tyler’s world changed forever. Clark’s face was drained white as he jumped from the bed naked. Nothing was said by anyone as Tyler’s mother withdrew from the room closing the door behind her.
A few days later Tyler heard the gossip in the cafeteria at lunch time. Clark Williams had quit school and, having turned seventeen, joined the Army. The rest of the school year passed in a blur for Tyler. He took a local job after graduation, trying to decide what to do with his life. He thought of Clark often and wondered where he was.
The newspapers were full of the Korean war in 1952. A newsreel at the local movie theater showed Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe entertaining the troops in Korea. Tyler searched the sea of uniformed men watching her, hoping for the impossible, a glimpse of Clark.
That winter Tyler decided to move to New York City to begin his life. His suitcase was packed and lying on the bed the morning he was to leave, when his mother handed him an envelope. Tyler had noticed the mailman from his window a few minutes earlier. The letter was addressed to him in a firm handwriting that he didn’t recognize. When he tore the envelope open, a piece of lined notebook paper was folded over inside. The writing on the paper was the same as the envelope.
The few words stunned Tyler. It read:
Hi, I’ve missed you a lot. Please call me if you feel the same.
A phone number followed.
When Tyler’s mother came back into his bedroom a few minutes later, she noticed tears in his eyes.
“I thought so,” she said, smiling.
Copyright © 2014 by Ron Van Sweringen