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lowillia

m/m Powamet stories: Doyle and Heilmar

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lowillia

This is another Powamet story. 

 

***

 

"Come stay with me," my friend Nate said.  "I have a nice place over the garage, like a mother-in-law apartment.  Your own bathroom, and a little kitchen.  You can come and go as you like.  And it's free."

 

So I decided to spend my vacation on the Cape.  Nate's house was in a little town I'd never heard of called Powamet, over on the ocean side of the Cape, way out toward Provincetown.  The village was sleepy and calm, and I liked it.  Nate took me to lunch at a place in town when I first arrived.  "Are all the guys here so big?" I said. "Jesus. They're huge."

 

"Don't be intimidated," Nate said. "They're peaceful. Most of them. Hup –“

 

Nate was suddenly lifted out of his chair by a monster with a dark bristly mustache  "Hey," the monster growled, crushing Nate in his arms.  "Bonfire tonight.  Want me to come get you?"

 

"Yeah," Nate panted, struggling feebly in the huge man's arms. "Dom, this is my friend Doyle, he's spending a couple of weeks here - "

 

The big man put Nate gently back in his chair and turned calmly to me.  "Hi," he said, thrusting his hand out and smiling down at me. He was heart-stoppingly handsome, very big, very powerful.  "Dom Perkunas.  Good to meet you.  Make sure Nate brings you to the bonfire tonight.  We always have a good time."

 

Dom turned away.  Nate had a faraway smile on his face that I understood.  So you evidently have a good time here, I said.

 

I swear he blushed a bit.  Dom's - special, he said.  We're not getting married anytime soon.  But we like each other.

 

There was a knock at my door that evening.  I opened to find Nate, with Dom and another huge guy.  Nate smiled and raised his eyebrows apologetically.  You know Dom.  This - he gestured to the other vast smiling bearded giant - is Oscar.

 

We walked down to the beach together. Dom and Nate were ahead of us, talking and laughing. Big Oscar, hands in his pockets, a giant surfer hippie dude, slouched along beside me, smiling, looking at me sidelong.  Vacation? he said.

 

Yeah, I said.  For a little while.

 

This is a nice place, Oscar said, squinting into the fading sunlight. You'll have a good time here. Everybody here is good people. You'll see. He gave me a sly look. Maybe you'll meet someone. You never know. Look at Nate and Dom. He gestured with a nod of his head. Dom had one big arm slung around Nate's shoulders, strong and protective. They don't look like they have much in common, but they managed to work it out. They're pretty good together. Neither one of them wants to admit it, but they’re pretty much married. Aaand - here we are.

 

We camer around a corner, and we saw a swarm of people gathered around a big blazing fire on the beach.  Someone was playing a drum, someone had a fiddle. Someone was singing.  Children were running in and out of the group, excited.  Why is everyone so big here? I asked Oscar.  I feel like a kid.  I know I'm small, but -

 

Oscar laughed.  Well, yeah.  You're shorter than Nate, I think.

 

Five-three, I said.  I know.  But usually I feel -

 

Oscar patted me on the shoulder.  Don't even think about it.  Everybody fits in here.  One of the few places in the world where everyone fits in.  You're gonna be fine.

 

Nate and Oscar and Dom introduced me around, and I met dozens of people.  It was a pleasant warm blur, the fire leaping up in the background, the whisper and crash of the surf, the cool breeze of sunset.  A small group of people stood looking westward, watching the red disk disappear into the Atlantic; when it finally disappeared completely, they applauded, and a massive handsome blond man in an partly-unbuttoned shirt lifted one hand and gestured out toward the sea.  That's all, folks, he said in a deep resonant voice.  More tomorrow.  And then, for some reason, everyone applauded again, and the blond man bowed . . .

 

Everyone drifted and chatted.  A cheerful Asian man handed me a beer, and it was the best beer I'd ever had, and he and I laughed and talked for a while, and I had no idea who he was. 

 

It was, as Oscar had promised, a wonderful time.

 

After a while I decided just to sit on a big driftwood log, watching the scene, feeling very warm and content. 

 

And then I wasn't alone anymore.

 

A tall thickset man - shaven head, bushy beard, small round glasses - leaned down over me.  Can I sit here? he asked in a deep raspy pleasant voice.  Here next to you?  He had a light accent, perhaps German.

 

Please, I said. 

 

He settled down next to me, sighing.  He was as big as Oscar or Dom. He was wearing jeans, a dark t-shirt, a denim jacket with the sleeves rolled up.  His massive forearms were tufted with hair. I don't know you, I think? I am Heilmar. 

 

I’m Doyle, I said.

 

We shook hands. Doyle, he said. That is a very nice name  I don't know that name before, I think.  He had a shy apologetic smile to go with his massive body  I have a shop in the town - newspapers, milk, you know.  I see all kinds of people, all the people in the town, but I think I have never seen you yet.

 

I'm just visiting, I said.  Vacation.

 

He nodded.  You like our town?

 

I do.  I laughed.  I've never heard your name before either.  I like it.  Heilmar?  I've never heard that name either.

 

He smiled shyly.  Old name.  Very old.  Sort of family.  You know?

 

All right.  Now tell me: why is everyone so big here?  I keep asking everyone.  Even -

 

He laughed too.  Even me?  I suppose so.  He patted my hand.  Not everyone, anyway. Sometimes smaller people come here too.  Like you.  He leaned his head close to mine.  Small people are nice too, I think.  You remind me of someone I knew a long time ago.  You are very much like him.

 

His eyes met mine.  They were pale blue behind the round lenses of his glasses, shining dimly in the firelight.  His hand was still touching mine, and it was very warm. All at once a little girl ran up to us.  Heilmar, she said in a brisk businesslike voice, holding out a tangle of string.  I was trying to wind my kite string.  Can you -

 

Give, Heilmar said gravely, taking it from her.  Patiently but with great skill he untangled and rewound the string in his big hands.  Now take.  He patted her on the head.  I don't charge you nothing.

 

She smiled up at him. Thank you, Heilmar.

 

Welcome, he said gravely. 

 

And she ran away. They like me, I guess, he said thoughtfully.

 

We sat side by side in silence for a while longer. His hand stole over and touched mine again, and I rubbed my fingers against his, and I heard him sigh again, a happy little sound.  Finally he said: I go home now.  But - maybe, if you like - you can come too?  With me?

 

I thought for only a brief moment.  Let me go tell my friends where I've gone, and I'll come back to join you.

 

He nodded, smiling his shy smile.  All right.

 

Nate and his big friends Dom and Oscar were near the fire, slumped together, leaning on each another's shoulders.  Listen, I said.  I met somebody, and he wants me to - I felt suddenly shy.

 

Nate smiled.  Who is it?  Who's the lucky guy?

 

His name is Heilmar, I said.  He said he has a store in town -

 

Nate smiled a little more broadly. Dom guffawed, and Oscar leaned out to give me a pat on the shoulder.  Good man, Oscar said. Heilmar's a fine man.  You go have fun. 

 

I went back to Heilmar. He was sitting on the log, hunched over, but he was looking up at me, and his eyes were glowing in the firelight. You look - my voice was choking in my throat a little - amazing. I can't tell you how powerful you look right now.  How strong.

 

He rose to his feet.  He was well over a foot taller than me, and four times my bulk.  And he smiled.  You like that, Doyle?  How big I am?  How strong I am?  I can show you.  He put his hand on my shoulder.  Come on.  My car.  I take you to my house.

 

We walked out together away from the beach.  Heilmar paused by the rocky ledge that stood against the shore.  Doyle? he said softly.  Look.

 

He put his hands on the rock, and tore a chunk of it away, just as easily as I'd have made a snowball from a snowbank.  He lifted the football-sized chunk of stone between his hands.  Look, Doyle, he said softly.  Look what Heilmar can do.  

 

He put his hands together, and the stone pulverized, crushed into fragments.

 

He put his hand on my shoulder again.  The dim light glinted on the lenses of his round glasses.  Doyle, I am stronger than you know.  Stronger than you can imagine.  His voice was soft, but I could tell he was excited.  Do you like that?

 

Heilmar, I said unsteadily.  That's - 

 

I didn't finish.  I put my hand on his, and brought his hand to my mouth, and kissed it very gently.

 

He engulfed me with his arms, and he covered his mouth with mine.  His body against mine was solid and warm.

 

We kissed for a long time. 

 

We went in Heilmar's car.  There wasn't much conversation between us; his hand stole over and took mine, and we held hands for most of the ride.  His hand was rough, and he squeezed mine.

 

Back at his house, the lights were very low.  His voice was even more hushed, soft and gruff.  He loomed over me in the dark.  Just friends tonight, he said quietly.  Just play.  His big arms wrapped around me in the dim light.  His hands undid the buttons of my shirt, and I put my hands under his t-shirt and pulled it over his head.  I felt his breath on my face, and he leaned forward and very gently kissed the hollow of my neck, and his beard was soft.  My hands moved across his enormous chest, bushy with hair.  Feel me, he crooned.  Feel me all over.  So nice, your hands on me.  Do you like my nice strong body?  Nice strong hairy body.  Touch me all over.  Here - he took my hand and put it on his chest.  Feel what I can do.  He pulsed the muscle under my hand; I felt the hardness of his pecs undulating like a wave.  So strong.  Do you feel that?

 

I feel it, I said, trembling a little. 

 

His arms wrapped around me very tightly.  I like this, Doyle.  Feeling you in my arms.  Making you safe.  Protecting you. 

 

He lifted me, took me to his bedroom.  We lay together, touching one another, exploring each other's body.  His blue eyes were deep and very pure.  Just touching, he said in his soft deep voice.   Some other time we will do more things.  Just be warm together tonight.  Is that okay?

 

Yes, I said, trembling a little.

 

He ran his hands over my body.  I like you, Doyle.  Small.  Very - neat.  Easy for me to hold in my arms.  Easy for me to hold like this.  He wrapped his arms around me very tightly, just for a moment, and my heart jumped. You feel? he said, his voice little more than a rumble. Feel how strong I am?

 

Yes, I said, finding my voice.  I feel you.

 

My hands found a chain around his neck, a thin silver band with a small medallion.  I touched it with one finger.  His hands found mine, and he fondled them, and he touched the medal too.  This is magic, he said with a quick smile.  I keep it on most of the time.  Maybe some other time - well, you will see.  Maybe.

 

We didn't have sex that night.  We rolled and played like puppies.  I ran my hands over the beautifully powerful contours of his shoulders, his chest, his stomach, and I marveled at his strength.  I kissed his chest and the dark hairy space under his arm, and he growled with pleasure.  Sometimes he rolled on top of me and pretended to struggle with me, hold me down.  Then he'd lower his face and kiss me, once, twice, three times.  I felt his cock hard in his pants, and I squeezed it through the fabric.  He laughed.  Hard, he said.  Like iron.  You make me very hard, Doyle.  Maybe so hard I burst right through.  

 

I rolled on top of him.  Hard like the rest of you, I said with my hands on his chest.

 

Grm, he rumbled, reaching up for me, smiling.  Hard like ten times steel.  Hundred times.  I could feel it, a big rod bulging through his jeans, thick and hard as a crowbar.  Be careful, he whispered.  Maybe I get too strong.  Then I am a monster, you know?  You see what I can do.  Playfully he reared back, flexed his muscles.  Like I crush that rock, back on the beach.  That's why we just play tonight.  Just gentle for tonight.

 

I bit his nipple, and he sighed and stroked the back of my head.  Nice, he muttered.  Very nice.

 

I shivered.  You're unbelievable, Heilmar.  You must be the strongest man in the world.  Your body is so hard -

 

He smiled again, and flipped me on my back, and held me down by the wrists.  Like a wrestler, maybe?  Or maybe like this.  He turned over again, lying on his back, put his big hands around my waist and lifted me into the air.  Like a big weightlifter.  But you're too light, it's not fair. Yes, wrestler, I think.  He brought me down into his arms and wrapped his arms and legs around me, squeezing me with what was evidently the tiniest fraction of his strength, and he knocked all of the breath  out of me.  With my big body like hundred times steel, he growled in my ear.  Nobody can beat me.  His hairy body prickled against me, and there was something - the smell of him - like health, like a happy memory.  He was warm, and playful, and very kind.

 

But then, suddenly, he shuddered and pulled back, and something like a troubled look was in his eyes.  Doyle - he said - you're not scared?  Scared of me?

 

I sighed.  No, Heilmar.   Then I saw his concern, and that it was real.  I'm not afraid of you at all, I said.  Why - ?

 

Because I'm very strong, he said in a low voice.  Sometimes I worry.  I might hurt.  I do not want to hurt you.

 

I sighed again and rubbed his furry chest.  You're not hurting me.  You're making me feel - wonderful.

 

Finally he smiled again.

 

We played and dozed for a long time that night, and finally we both fell asleep in each other's arms.  Early in the morning he roused me.  I go to open the shop now, he said in a whisper.  I take you home.  And maybe later you would like dinner.  All right?

 

All right, I said.  I'd like that.

 

He smiled his shy hopeful smile.  Come see me in the shop, he said. Maybe six o’clock this evening.

 

I saw Nate later that day.  So?  he said.  How was Heilmar?

 

I sighed.  He's really amazing, Nate.  Do you know him well?

 

I know him, Nate said.  The little store in town. Everybody likes him.  His last name is Wolf, by the way. Heilmar Wolf.  He smiled strangely, as if enjoying a private joke.

 

Well, we're going out to dinner tonight, I said.

 

Nate turned away, still smiling.  Good for you, Doyle.  Heilmar always seemed like a real sweetheart to me.   Gentle, you know?  Not the way he looks at all.

 

He's very gentle, I said.

 

Nate raised his eyebrows.  Uh-huh.   He looked thoughtful.  He's remote.  He's very nice, and pleasant.  But I never got any sexual vibe from him at all.  He must really like you.

 

Yeah, I said. I think he does.  

 

I met him at six o'clock that evening at his store.  He was wearing a black shirt with short sleeves, big and handsome; but it didn't disguise the massive contours of his big powerful muscles, his thick arms and big chest.  He kissed me very lightly on the cheek.  Just dinner, he said.  And then we can go to my house again, if you like.

 

I like, I said.

 

The restaurant was dim too.  We had seafood, and each of us had a glass of wine.  Are you German? I asked. Your accent is - kind of German.

 

He shrugged and smiled and looked into my eyes.  Maybe a long time ago.  Not now.  I live here now.  He closed his eyes.  My life was not very good over there, you know?  Better here.  I have friends here.  He put his hand on the table, grasping mine.  I would like us to be friends too.  It is a long time that I don't meet someone I like so much as you.  I liked you right away.  I saw you sitting in the firelight, and I felt a funny feeling.  Like I knew you already.

 

I liked you too, I said.  Right away.

 

His smile broadened.  Even your name.  Sometimes, you know, you think you hear something and it's good luck.  I liked your name.  It was new.  Something new.

 

I felt a hand on my shoulder suddenly, and I looked up: it was the Asian man from the bonfire the night before, the one who'd given me a beer.  He grinned and mouthed hello and moved away.  I looked around, and I realized that people in the restaurant were looking at us and smiling.  I turned back to Heilmar, a little embarrassed.  This is quite a town, I said.  Everybody seems to know everybody.  It's like -

 

Family, Heilmar said softly, still smiling.  Yes.  Nice big family here.  You know?  And everyone likes you already.  His fingers enlaced mine on the table.  I like you too.

 

I looked down at our hands together on the table.  Like waking up with amnesia, I said.  Surrounded by people you don't really remember, except that they remember you, and after a while it begins to make sense.  A family reunion with people you barely remember.

 

You think too much, Heilmar said mildly. Don’t. Enjoy.

 

After dinner we went back to his house.  He took me to his bedroom and we sat on the bed.  Sometimes, he said, drawing patterns on the bedspread with one big finger, I like to play a game. It's not a bad game, not a game of hurting, okay?  But it makes me excited. Fun. I like to play it with someone like you.  I can show you, if you like.  He kissed me very seriously.  Maybe you'll think it's strange.  But don't be afraid.  It's not hurting.

 

Okay, I said, my heart pounding a little.  If it’s not - if it’s not hurting.

 

He rummaged in a drawer and pulled out a pair of handcuffs.  These are real, he said.   Here, you take them.  Put them over there.  He stood up, towering over me.  Now help me undress, he said.  All naked this time.

 

He was magnificent.  His body was perfect, hugely muscled, rippling with power.  He was hairy all over, his shoulders, his back, his belly, his chest, his forearms.  I sat on the edge of the bed looking up at him, and he looked down at me.  His hairy chest jutted out, a sculpted mountainscape of brawn; then his torso tapered down to a thickly-sinewed belly.  His eyes were strangely sad.  I kissed his hairy stomach, and touched his thick cock, and he smiled a little.  Not yet, don't get me too excited now, he said.  Wait.  He turned and knelt on the floor with his broad back to me.  Come around.  Put the handcuffs on me.  Just snap them.  That's right.  See?  Now -

 

He turned and looked at me owlishly, his glasses a little askew, his hands clenched into fists.  Now, he said in a whisper.  I'm a prisoner.  My jailer beats me, he is very bad to me.  But he doesn't know how strong I am.  How very very strong I am.  And what I can do to him if I break loose.  And then you come and find me, and I am here in my dungeon, and my hands are tied.  

 

Suddenly I realized there were real tears in his eyes as he spoke. He held his hands up toward me, cuffed together.  You see?

 

I knelt and kissed his fists, rubbed my cheek against them.  I want to help you, I whispered.  Help you go free.  How can I help -

 

A tear rolled down his face, and I kissed the wet track it made down his cheek.  You can help me be free, Doyle, he said.  Please.  You see the chain on my neck?  Take it off, Doyle.  Take it off me.  Help me, please -

 

I fumbled with the clasp of the chain around his neck. I felt his warm breath on me, my hands shaking in my haste. Sweet Doyle, he rumbled.  Helping Heilmar.  Heilmar is so powerful, he will be good to you -

 

The chain unlocked.  I took it from around his neck.  Now what can I do? I said breathlessly.  Do I -

 

Heilmar was looking at me with an intense burning regard.  He was smiling -

 

He was smiling hungrily.

 

He held up his handcuffed hands again.  No key, he growled.  Heilmar does not need a key.  Heilmar is strong -

 

He pulled his arms apart with a jerk, and the chain holding the cuffs together broke.

 

Heilmar is powerful -

 

He swelled, somehow.  His arms bulged with power, and with his left hand he tore the cuff from his right wrist, and with his right hand he tore the cuff from his left wrist.  He crumpled the metal cuffs in his massive fists and dropped them with a clank to the floor.

 

And he rose. 

 

I was still kneeling.  He was bigger, somehow.  The muscles of his arms and shoulders were suddenly swollen with power.  Veins throbbed along his iron-hard biceps. His broad chest was even broader.  His body pulsed with strength, and I felt heat on my face.  Heilmar is free now, he growled as he lifted me.  All my strength is coming back to me -

 

He tossed me on the bed, and leapt on top of me, straddling me.  Fight me, he rumbled in my ear.  Here.  Put your hands in my hands, yes, struggle with me - ah, you see.  I am too strong for you, Doyle.  Now I am free.  Grrrr -

 

We rolled on the bed, and he bit at me playfully, held me down.  Here, he said darkly.  See what the jailer did to me.  He stroked his big chest with his hand, and I could see pale marks, like scars.  They beat me.  He slapped his shoulder with his hand, hard, with a loud smack.  They hurt me. 

 

I was in awe of this giant, who had been so much stronger than me, and who was now superhuman.  Heilmar, I said.  You're so strong.  You can do anything you want. 

 

His eyes narrowed, and he smacked his chest with his hand again, harder this time.  He beat me, he growled again.  I want to kill him, Doyle.  With my hands.  I can crush him with my hands.  I can make him take my cock in his mouth, force him, and fuck his mouth - so hard, Doyle - until  his jaw breaks.  And then I will break his arms, and tear him apart -

 

His eyes were hard and dark now.  I struggled under him, my hands on his body.  I felt his strong chest with my hands, his hard torso, and then I stroked his hard cock.  I'm your friend, Heilmar. 

 

He calmed down a bit, kissed my cheek, gentle again.  Doyle.  You freed me from the chain.  Now I will take care of you, make you safe -

 

He knelt over me.  I put his cock in my mouth, and he pulsed it it the way he'd pulsed the muscles of his chest before, and I felt it throb and harden in my mouth.  He stroked my hair and rubbed my shoulders.  Then he picked me up, turned me, and with a single hard push he was inside my ass, and I gasped.  It was ecstasy.  His cock was alive inside me, throbbing, pulsing.  His hands gripped me.  Doyle is so small, he crooned.  And I am so big and strong.  He turned me again, laid me on my back, lifted my legs in the air, and with a powerful shove he was inside me again.  This time he straddled me, his fists clenched, and he flexed his enormous biceps like a massive bodybuilder as he drove his cock into me.  I know what you like, Doyle.  You like my muscles.  I felt your hands on me last night, feeling my muscles.  So nice.  I felt you feeling me, how strong I am, how big my muscles are.  I can give you my muscles to touch and feel.  Feel my big powerful hairy muscles, Doyle.  Look at them.  Look how big and strong I am.  Bigger and stronger than anyone.

 

He fucked me so hard that my head swam.  Then, suddenly, he looked at me with those blue eyes, and there was a struggling wary look there.  Doyle, he said.  Help me.  Please.

 

Anything, I said, almost weeping.  What -

 

He got up and then knelt on the floor, his head lowered.  The chain.  Put it back on me.  Please, Doyle.  His voice was almost a growl.  Put it on me -

 

I reached, fumbled on the bedtable, found the chain, clasped it around his sinewy neck again.  After a moment, he sighed, and he looked up at me, his eyes calmer and softer now.  Do you see now? he said.  What happens?  It helps me - um - control.  I am so powerful.  Maybe sometimes too much.  The chain makes me - um - control.

 

I kissed the small silver medal, and the deep sinewy hollow of his neck.  Thank you, Heilmar, I said.

 

Thank you, Doyle, he said.

 

And we lay back on the bed, our arms around each other, kissing and holding one another, until the first light of the sun came through the window.  I put my head on his chest.  You're very strong, Heilmar, I said.  Even with the chain.

 

He ran his fingers gently over my face.  Yes.  Strong.  Very strong.  But you saw, when the little silver charm is gone, what happens.  I am a monster, Doyle.  I can tear apart mountains with my hands.  I can split the world with my fists.  I am fearfully strong.  

 

He turned me over so that we were face to face, our cocks touching one another.  I cannot take the chain off, he said.  Someone has to take it from me, the little charm.  And then - in a flash I was on the bottom, and he was grinning down at me, holding my hands back on the bed in a steely grip.  After the chain is off, there is nothing I cannot do.  I am stronger than a mountain, Doyle, stronger than ten thousand men.  But you were kind to me.  I asked you to help me, and you helped me.  And then I was free, and I showed you everything, all my strength.

 

Yes, I said, trembling. 

 

And I asked you to put it back on me, he said, a little more quietly.  And you did.  Some time soon, Doyle, some time soon we can play again.  And you will release me from my prison.  And I will be so strong for you.  I will show you power.  I will tear mountains apart with my hands.  His grip tightened around me.  Doyle.  If anyone ever hurts you, come to me.  Please.  And I will kneel and you will take the chain from my neck.  He pulled back one arm, showed me his clenched fist.  And my strength will come back to me, and I will make him sorry, that man who hurts you.

 

I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the chest of this huge man, and we slept for a little while, until he roused.  Time to open the store, he said sadly.  Come see me again, Doyle.  I would like to see you again.

 

And he kissed me on the back of the neck.

 

That day I went to see Nate again.  He was sitting in his living room, his laptop open in front of him.  Okay, I said.  Spill it.  There's something peculiar going on in this town - oh, I'm sorry -

 

A big blond man was sitting quietly on the couch next to Nate, quietly paging through a coffee-table book.  He looked up at me placidly as I stood in the doorway.  Nate glanced over at him and smiled.  It's okay, Doyle.  This is my - um - neighbor, Mike.  He and Mike shared a complicitous glance.  He just came over to say hello.  

 

Mike got up - another giant, a blond colossus, vaguely Scandinavian-looking, with gigantic shoulders, windblown hair like a surfer and a ruddy outdoors complexion.  He shook my hand.  Nice to meet you, he said in a soft subterranean rumble.

 

I didn’t mean to interrupt, I stuttered - 

 

It's okay, Nate said.  No interruption.  Is there something you wanted to ask me?

 

He asked it with an impishness that told me what I needed to know.  There's something going on here, I said warily.  I don't know what it is.  I actually like it.  But for god's sake, Nate, what is it?  What's the deal with this place?  There's something going on - 

 

Peculiar, Nate finished for me with a limpid smile.  You figured that out, huh?  Well, hold onto your hat.  He looked up with a glint in his eye.  You're human.  So am I.  But quite a few of our friends here are not. 

 

Not - human? I faltered.  I knew it, of course, but hearing it out loud -

 

Not human, Nate said.  He glanced over at Mike, who was watching us both peacefully.  Mike's my neighbor, all right.  He's your neighbor too, Doyle.  Mike, tell Doyle where you live.

 

With a serene smile Mike pointed over his shoulder, out the patio door, in the direction of the yard.

 

What? I said. That's just the ocean and the yard, and the tree -

 

Not 'just' a tree, Mike said with dignity.  That's me, Mister Doyle. 

 

I sat down heavily and ran my hand over my forehead.  Don't worry, Nate said.  It's all fine.  Mike is - he looked over at his friend with fondness - well, he’s the oak tree in the yard.  He's one of my best friends here.  He's a fine man, and he happens to be a fine tree too.

 

Pretty good tree, Mike muttered in his deep voice, trying to hide a pleased smile, still pretending to read his book.  Not just 'fine.'

 

Nate reached over and touched my hand.  I can't explain it, Doyle.  Everything comes together here.  It's not even supernatural, because it's completely natural here.  Bits and pieces of mythology, nature magic - I don't know.  My doctor's a pre-Sumerian deity so old I don't even know what he was called.  He has horns, for god's sake.  Dom is - well, you've seen him. 

 

Dom? I said waveringly.  He's - what?

 

Nate closed his eyes.  Dom is - well, I don't even like to say it out loud.  It sounds silly.  He's a god, Doyle.  He's an old Lithuanian sky god.  He's the god of thunder and lightning and rain.  That's why he's so goddamned big.  We get along, for some reason.  He likes me, and I like him a lot.  And - he shivered, I could see it.  There's the other thing.  He's a god, and I'm a worshipper.  So that works too.

 

Dom's a pagan god, I said numbly. Okay.  That makes sense.  Then Heilmar is a -

 

Not quite the same, Nate said..  He's - well, what did he tell you?

 

There was a story last night.  I cleared my throat.  I don't really understand.  He's incredibly powerful, I know.  He showed me.  But then he was a prisoner -

 

Nate nodded somberly.  That's my understanding too.  He's - something, Doyle.  A nature spirit, I think.  But very powerful.  Maybe not a god, but he may as well be a god.  Somehow he was captured and held prisoner for a long time.  Beaten, mistreated.  Held in chains he couldn't break.  I don't know when or where.  And he escaped somehow.  And now he's here - 

 

Nature spirit, I said.  Like - like Mike?

 

Mike was listening with interest.  Not like me, he said thoughtfully.  Not too much.  I'm just here.  Just this tree, you know?  He broadened his shoulders impressively.  Pretty big and strong, though.  Big strong oak tree.

 

Showoff, Nate said reproachfully.

 

Mike narrowed his eyes at Nate.  Stronger than you, little Nate.  Much stronger.  He looked thoughful again.  But Heilmar is different.  Bigger.  A lot stronger than even me.   He looked sad.  He's lonely, you know?   I feel that from him. 

 

Trust Mike, Nate said.  He knows about these things.  He got up and joined Mike on the sofa, his arm around him, and Mike put his arm around Nate.  This is like heaven, Doyle, Nate said simply.  I don't know what I ever did to deserve this.  But the gods walk and talk here, and the trees drop over for conversation.  It's why I invited you here.  I didn't know if you'd see it or not; some people come here and never notice a thing.  But you noticed right away.  I figured you'd fit in.  When you noticed right away how big everyone was - well.

 

Be quiet, Nate, Mike said peacefully in his deep voice.  You talk too much. 

 

Big stupid tree, Nate said, laughing.

 

Little stupid human being, Mike said, smiling, wrapping both thick arms around Nate and holding him trapped.  Trees know how to be quiet.  And how to listen.  Mike turned to me.  Mister Doyle: go talk to Heilmar.  Tell him what we said today.  And then listen to him. 

 

Mike, Nate groaned.  You're crushing me.

 

Yeah, Mike said.   Crushed by a big stupid tree.  A tree that’s much stronger than you. 

 

I left them struggling and laughing together, my friend and his huge blond neighbor, who happened also to be the oak tree in his back yard.

 

Later, sitting next to Heilmar on the sofa in his living room, my arm around his waist, I told him: Nate told me you really were a prisoner once.

 

He rubbed his beard against my cheek.  Yes, he softly.  Silver chains.  They put me in the dungeon.  They beat me.  Sometimes they brought me out.  I was still strong, I could fight, but the silver chain they put on me made me weak.   They made me fight, then they fed me, then they beat me.  And threw me back in the dark.

 

I tightened my arm around him.  The huge man shivered, remembering.  One night, he said in a hushed voice, someone came.  Someone who saw them beating me, someone who felt bad for me.  He talked to me through the door.  I talked to him, and he rescued me.  He unlocked the chains.  He paused.  He looked like you, Doyle.  He knelt in front of me, and I wept, and he wept too.  He kissed me.  And he took the chains away from me.

 

A long pause.  What did you do? I said.

 

He was shaking now.  I broke down the walls, he growled.  I tore the doors away.  Nothing could hurt me.  I am so powerful, Doyle, so powerful, when I do not wear the chain.  I tore the pillars out of the ground and broke their fortress down.  I tore their castle apart.  I took their bodies in my hands and crushed them.  I ripped them into pieces. I -

 

I was shaking now.  We were both hugging one another now, facing each other. He held my head in both his big hands, gently, looking into my eyes.  No, no, he said, quieter.  It was a long time ago.  Only the bad people, the people who hurt me.  I let the rest go.  The man who let me go, and the rest.  But I ran.  I was tired of being beaten.  Just a quiet place, Doyle.  And finally - I am here.  And I have my shop, and the people come to me, and the children, and they like me.  He fingered the silver chain around his neck.  This makes me - almost human, Doyle.  And it reminds me of my chains in the old days.  I don't want to forget.   His eyes grew misty.  I think, Doyle, you are that man.  The man who wept, and who freed me that night.  I never thanked him.  I think about him every day, that man who kissed my face, and who took my chains away.

 

We sat quietly for a few moments.  I have to go soon, I said.  Just a few days more.

 

Then, Heilmar said steadily, in his warm raspy voice, we enjoy the rest of our time together.

 

He picked me up in his arms.  I touched the silver medallion at his neck.  Let me -

 

He brought his face down and kissed me.  He carried me to the bedroom and lay me on my back on the bed, and he crouched over me.  Take it off, Doyle.  Take my silver chain away.  Let me go free.

 

I kissed the hollow of his muscular neck, and slowly I undid the clasp and took the chain away.

 

And I watched the flare of power in his eyes, and I felt his body bulge and swell with strength, his chest expanding against mine, his abs hardening into a steel wall.  He clenched his fist, brought his arm up to show me his massive biceps, crevassed with huge veins.   He brought the muscle close to my face.  Kiss my strong arm, Doyle.  Kiss my big powerful arm.  Tell me how strong I am.

 

Stronger than a thousand men, I gasped.  Ten thousand men.  Stronger than stone, than steel.  Oh Heilmar -

 

He gave me that wolfish smile.  Maybe, he said, I make you stay here.  He caught both my wrists in one of his big hands and pushed me back onto the mattress.  Now I make you my prisoner.  Little Doyle, little weak man.  Helpless. 

 

He tore my clothes off, pushed into me, and fucked me with abandon.  I lost consciousness for a while.  His power wasn't just physical strength; it was an overwhelming aura of force, of pure dominance.  But there was no pain, no anger, no fear.  I heard him muttering as he pushed into me, hammering me with his cock like steel: Make you stay.  Make you stay with me.  Keep you with me. 

 

But after a while his eyes softened and he pulled back.  I can't make you prisoner, Doyle.  You go when it's time.  I know it's time soon.  But maybe you can come back and see me?

 

He tore my heart.  He was in the glory of his full strength, a force of nature, power personified.  But his eyes, perfect blue, were sad.  A tear came down his cheek, and I kissed it.  Heilmar.  I will come back for you.  If you want to see me.  I kissed his broad chest.  My ten thousand times powerful Heilmar.  My beautiful Heilmar.

 

He smiled finally.  He put his arms around me and held me against his furry chest, and I felt the subtle movement of those steely muscles.  I will wait for you.  He shifted against me, and his eyes softened. Put my chain back, Doyle, he said softly. Please. Or I might not be able to let you go.

 

He held his head back, and I put the silver chain back around his powerful sinewy thick neck, and he sighed. I love you, I whispered to him. I really think I do. I know it’s only been a few days, but I really think I love you.

 

I know, he said in his low husky voice. And I love you too. And I know it.

 

I left shortly after.

 

***


 

I hear from him every day.  He sent me - look - this picture of himself, standing outside his store, smiling.

 

And this one he took in the store.  Look: it's nighttime.  He's naked, standing in his store, and there's a bit of dim light on his face and his strong hairy body.  He's perfect.  He's reaching up, fingering his silver chain . . .

 

He'\s reminding me.

 

Next week I'm going back.  Nate says we can work something out.  People who move to Powamet always figure something out, he says. 

 

I haven't told Heilmar yet.  I want to surprise him.

 

I want to see his face when I take his chain from his neck and set him free again.

 

**

 

Nate here.

 

Doyle came back.  I picked him up at Logan, and we drove to Powamet together, and Doyle was very nervous.  Don't worry, I said. Things happen in Powamet because they're supposed to happen.  You're doing what you have to do.  Don't be scared.  You'll see.

 

Heilmar was looking the other way when we walked into the little store; he was talking to someone.  I could hear the deep raspy buzz of his voice.  Timidly Doyle stepped forward and cleared his throat nervously, and Heilmar turned -

  

They were on each other in a moment.  Heilmar crushed Doyle to himself in those terrifyingly powerful arms and lifted him off the ground.  Never, never, never let you go, Heilmar rasped.  

 

You need to be free, Heilmar, I want you to be free, I want you to be happy - Doyle was gasping and sobbing.

 

They were oblivious to me.  They were oblivious to the whole world.  I saw Doyle fumbling up at the chain around Heilmar's neck -

 

After a moment I left them there, together in Heilmar’s shop.  I walked down the street, a little dazed in the light, a little dazed from what I'd seen.  One of Powamet's mammoth shapes came up out of the glare and took hold of my shoulder and steadied me.  You okay, Nate?

 

It was my doctor, Mike, a pre-Sumerian beast god in a white lab coat, off on his lunch break.  He peered down at me, a big bearish mustached muscled gargoyle, horns curling from his dark hair. Watch where you're walking, man.  You nearly tripped.

 

That's why I like living here, I said giddily.  There's always someone to catch me when I fall.

 

He smiled and put his arm around me.  Sometime, he said, we need to have a talk.  We like you guys, you know.  That's why we're here.  We . . . get a lot out of the relationship.

 

Us too, I said quietly.

 

I'm glad, he said, and grinned his pre-Sumerian monsterish grin.  C’mon. You want to grab a burger?

 

Yes, I said. Yes, I do. Let’s get a burger, Mike.

 

And the huge Sumerian ram-horned mustached beast, with the body of a god, asked with a grin: Is McDonald's okay?

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