Every man in Easy felt a little homesick at some time or another. There was no weeping in the barracks or heavy sighing—they were men, and they dealt with their feelings like men.
They would form groups in the evenings, gather around a semi-comfortable place and play cards, trade cigarettes and chocolate if they had it, talk about sex, women, their favorite dishes back home. This brought them closer, made them feel more like family, and soon they forgot their sadness.
But it seemed like no matter how hard he tried, those feelings of melancholy wouldn’t leave Chuck Grant.
They were stationed at Mourmelon, enjoying a little respite after so much time on the front, when Grant’s forlornness became too heavy to hide.
As he lay on his cot in the empty barracks, listening to the laughing men outside enjoy the festivities of the night, Sergeant Talbert appeared unexpectedly, grinning. “That you, Chuck?”
“The hell are you doing in here for? The party’s outside! Guarnere just bet Buck he couldn’t—”
“You go,” Grant mumbled, rolling over. “I’m not feelin’ good.”
Tab’s smile faded; he knelt by Grant’s cot. “Hey,” he said gently. “Chuck, buddy, what’s the matter?”
Grant moodily shrugged the hand from his shoulder. “Go away. I said I’m not feelin’ good.”
Tab studied his friend for a moment, sucking on his lip as he thought. He put his hand on Grant’s shoulder again. “I can make you feel good.”
Grant scoffed. “Yeah, sure. Unless you’ve got California in your back pocket—”
His sentence was cut off as he was rolled onto his back. Tab’s face was hovering above his own, large and shadowed, inches away. “I wanna help you. Just gimme a chance.” His lips brushed Grant’s ear. “Let’s escape,” he whispered. “You and me.”
Grant shoved Tab away with a mighty heave and sat up. His breath was coming in short gasps, his face as red as a tomato. “What the fuck, Talbert! The fuck you think you’re doing, man?”
Tab lowered his head and didn’t answer. Grant caught his breath and forced himself to calm down. “I mean, Jesus. You’re not a . . . you’re not like that, are you? Are you? . . . Fucking say something to me, Tab.”
Tab lifted his gaze with a grim little smile. Grant could see the hurt swimming in his eyes. He didn’t need to be queer to see that.
Grant hadn’t meant to react so violently—now he felt awful. He didn’t think he was capable of hurting his comrade so deeply. “Hey, Tab . . . Floyd . . . man, I’m sorry. You just, you scared me is all.” He feigned a smile. “Nothing against you, but I like the ladies, y’know?”
“I do, too,” Tab said quietly. “Brunettes. Green-eyed ones. Don’t mind a few extra curves, either, in all the right places.” He grinned weakly, and Grant suddenly felt his remorse melt into sympathy. “Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get married and go on after . . . after all this.”
Silence fell between them for a moment, then Tab spoke again. “I’m not askin’ you to change your life or who you are, Chuck. I’m just askin’ if you want me to help you find some happiness in this goddamn mess. I mean, here we are, six months into this shit, spending Christmas on the other side of the world, and I can’t even comfort a friend.
“But if I can do that, if I can make you forget about dying and this living fucking hell so far away from California, then maybe I’ll have done something right for once.”
Grant sat on the edge of the cot, staring at Tab’s clasped hands. Then he reached out and put his hand on the back of Tab’s neck, bringing their foreheads together.
“You’re a good friend, Tab,” he whispered. “Maybe there’s something you can do for me after all.”
“Take off your clothes. Get in bed with me. Just . . . lay with me for a little while.”
Tab paused, nodded, and began to undress.
In a few moments their clothes lay in a pile at the foot of the cot, and Talbert wrapped his arms around Grant’s warm, naked body.
“We fit together nice for a couple of dicks,” Tab joked.
Grant smiled for the first time in weeks. He knew it had been that long because his face hurt when he did it. He nestled back against Tab’s body until he could feel his heartbeat against his shoulder blades.
“You sure you don’t wanna go out and . . . I mean, I’m fine with this, this is nice, but just in case you were hungry or someth—”
“I’m fine, Tab. Shh.”
Tab shushed and closed his eyes, his lips beginning to arch. “Wish everyone was as easy to please as you.”
Snotsicles Rated: T Hastur and Ligur are left out in the cold.
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