The One-handed Trick Shot!
by Jade Starling
I wasn’t a very athletic boy. I was skinny and asthmatic, and ran only when chased.
But I was an artistic boy. A writer, a painter, a musician, and a photographer.
So I developed an eye for capturing the athletic boys on paper both in stories and photographs.
I became my school newspapers top sports reporter, even though I had to ask a lot of questions just to understand how each game was played before I could effectively write the copy.
But mainly it was my photographs that were prized.
Somehow I not only captured the great action shots at the height of each game, but I also captured the look of determination in the players eyes, and the agony of defeat when appropriate as well.
I was actually responsible for developing my own film, doing my own enlargements, and everything, so I was able to take much more from each game then the players would ever know, and my unlimited supply of film, soon began to deplete.
I became the king of the one handed trick shot.
By that I mean, I could set my focal length, set my aperture and shutter speed, walk into the locker room, and take thirty odd pictures of the players, while they were only aware of the ten or so they would ever see.
The others were taken while the camera lay along side me leg, aimed lazily up the row of lockers at whatever naked jock happened to be toweling himself off.
The fact that my old Nikon made a racket each time the shutter snapped was usually covered by the echoing laughter of the team, or the noises from the crowds still milling around overhead.
Once or twice, perhaps someone might have noticed my mistake, and I’d simply say ‘shit’ and pretend my finger had slipped.
I took pictures all my sophomore and junior year, of every event our school was involved in: Wrestling, swimming, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse, football, soccer, golf, tennis, track and field, and gymnastics.
I was best at the sports I really loved to watch, but I got the best one handed trick shots from the wrestlers and the footballers.
Both the wrestlers and the footballers worked themselves into such a masculine sweating adrenaline high, that it took them hours to come down again. They were so out of it after their games, or meets, that they were easily naked and standing in the showers for half an hour without much moving.
I had some really good pictures piling up, and then I realized one of the weaknesses in my scheme.
“Jason.” Said Mr. Greene, the editor of the school paper.
“Yes Mr. Greene.” I responded as I set down the negatives I was about to start working with.
“What do you do with the negatives that don’t end up getting used?” asked Mr. Greene.
“I toss most of them.” I told him quickly, which was true, because many shots, both intentional and trick, just weren’t worth keeping.
“Since the school is supplying you the film, I think we had better start keeping all the negatives from now on. That way I can document properly the amount of pictures you are taking for each event.” Said Mr. Greene. “It seems like you might need to cut back on the quantity your taking at any given event. Our budget for film and developing has started to get out of hand.”
“Okay Mr. Greene.” I told him. “I’ll find a way to mark through the negatives I don’t want used then, okay.”
“That’s good Jason.” Said Mr. Greene.
I started to go back to work on the negatives, still hoping Mr. Greene wouldn’t suddenly come and start looking over my shoulder. But Mr. Greene hadn’t moved. It was as if he had something else to say, but just didn’t know how to go about it.
“Is there something else?” I asked, hoping Mr. Greene wouldn’t say what I was worried he might. It was always possible someone had seen one of the negatives, or worse yet, figured out what I was doing in the locker rooms after the games, besides taking the appropriate pictures.
“No, Jason. Let’s just cut back on any unnecessary shots okay.” Said Mr. Greene, making it very clear to me that I had indeed been ratted on by somebody.
So for almost six months after that I didn’t take a single one handed trick shot. My film consumption dropped seventy percent, which might have looked suspicious, but solved Mr. Greene’s problem.
It wasn’t until the wrestling season started again that I got really torn up over my new found caution.
Terry Cartright, who had been top of his weight class last year, was not only the top pick for the same honor this year, but one of the best damn looking wrestlers this school had ever seen. And yours truly was of the opinion that he was the best hung jock in school as well.
I had gotten one of two shots of Terry last year, but none that really capture the raw power of his muscular frame or, for that matter, his thick uncut cock.
I wanted that picture.
Somehow I had to innocently continue my ventures into their locker room, and cautiously take just the picture or two necessary to get Terry Cartright into my secret scrapbook.
I even bought a dozen of my own rolls of film, so that I could empty a roll, toss my own roll in, then go into the locker room specifically for that purpose, but week after week I kept missing the shot.
I got one or two of Bill Tracy, the 120lb sophomore, but I just couldn’t capture Terry without being too obvious.
Bill Tracy was handsome and all, and very well built, but he wasn’t Terry, and he just wouldn’t do.
Finally I took the risk with Coach Moore actually giving me an interview at the time. Click and it was done, but Coach Moore stopped talking suddenly and looked straight into my eyes.
“Mr. Twilly, you’d better come with me.” He ordered, and I was hesitantly following him out of the locker room, and towards his office.
“I wasn’t sure, until just then Mr. Twilly, but you are in a lot of trouble.” Said Coach Moore rather less aggressively than he speaks to his team.
“What wrong Coach?” I asked quickly.
The Coach shut the door behind me as we entered his office, and then ordered me to sit down with his forceful thick middle aged frame.
I sat in the chair, and he sat above me on the corner of his desk.
“Firstly I’m gonna tell you a story Mr. Twilly.” Said Coach Moore.
“Last year, one of my seniors came to me, with a story that I just couldn’t believe. I told him I would investigate, and asked him to keep his mouth shut about it.” Said Coach Moore. “And I did investigate Mr. Twilly.
“I started fishing for evidence, started watching for slip ups, and stopped just short of asking other boys if they had ever seen anything like what this one boy had claimed he had seen.”
I stood still and quiet while my stomach began doing summersaults.
“I know now that what my star player had told me about you was true Mr. Twilly.” Said Coach Moore. “You have been taking pictures on the sly of my players. And though I couldn’t prove it this year, I’ve got you red handed now.”
I just stared at Coach Moore, my blood pressure rising, my heart pounding. I couldn’t speak or move.
“A couple more things.” Said Coach Moore. “Firstly, I think you’re a great kid. Smart, assertive, great writer, and a great photographer, on the mats.
“I was a boy once to, you know.” Said Coach Moore, “I know what it feels like to have hormones raging through my body. Feeling the frustration you do at your age. I’ve been there.”
I couldn’t imagine exactly what Coach Moore was trying to tell me with that bit, but I just sat staring at him none the less, his dark blue eyes flashing in the neon light.
“Now when I talked to Mr. Greene last year, he and I agreed on one thing.” Said Coach Moore. “If either of us caught you again, we’d have to make an example of you.”
With that my stomach fell through the floor and the tears welled up behind my eyes.
“But,” began Coach Moore. “the fact is we talked again after that, and even as recently as a week ago. See we knew you had stopped coming into the locker room after Mr. Greene spoke with you about it. You did the right thing and stopped taking those shots, as far as we knew, but we both kept our eyes on you.
“See we like you kid. You’ve got a lot going for you. You’re talented, smart, good looking. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.” Said Coach Moore. “We don’t want to fuck that up for you Jason.”
That was the first time I had ever heard Coach Moore use a boys first name.
“So here’s where you get to talk.” Said Coach Moore. “You must tell me two things in order for this to go alright on you. You must tell me why you’ve been taking naked pictures of my boys, and I mean you have to tell me the truth, understand. And you must tell me that the negatives and prints are safe, and will be returned to my office by tomorrow afternoon. Okay. Now talk.”
I sat staring at him, the beginnings of a tear drifting out of my left eye.
“I… I…” I muttered.
“Come on boy. I know you’ve got it in you to be direct.” Said Coach Moore.
I just couldn’t. I hadn’t ever said it to myself. How was I going to say it to someone else.
“Jason,” said Coach Moore. “I’m gonna try to help you just a bit, but I really don’t want to be putting words in your mouth, so I’m not going to take yes or no answers, understand. I need you to tell me that you’re gay first right?”
“I.. uh..” I muttered. I still couldn’t put the words together.
“Do you want me to call Terry Cartwright in here?” asked Coach Moore. “Do you want me to tell him what you’ve been doing and see what he wants me to do with you.”
“No sir.” I said quickly.
“Alright then.” Said the Coach. Then he sat there looking imperious and kind in his own way.
“I don’t like girls.” I said finally. “I guess I like boys, but I’ve never done anything.”
“I understand Jason.” Said Coach Moore. “There are a lot of boys and girls who go through what you’re going through. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We can talk more about that later, ‘cause I do want you to know it’s okay. But now about the photos.”
Coach waited patiently, with his stern but caring face on.
“I have taken some photos in the locker room when no one was looking.” I admitted now that the heavier burden was off my shoulders. “I took some last year, and then stopped when Mr. Greene asked me about the extra film I was using.”
“Yes.” Said Coach Moore waiting.
“Then I got frustrated this year, because of Terry.” I said.
“As a photographer do you understand that you should only take pictures of people when they know you are taking the picture?” asked Coach Moore.
“And, do you agree that it was wrong of you to take pictures of those boys when they didn’t know they were being photographed?” asked Coach Moore.
“And are those pictures safe?” asked Coach Moore.
Coach Moore waited, indicating with his eyes need for more information.
“I will bring you the pictures and the negatives tomorrow.” I told him.
“Very Good.” Said Coach Moore. “Now wipe those tears out of your eyes son. You are not being punished. You are being stopped. See the difference. We could have had you expelled, possibly even arrested for what you were doing. But instead, we’re taking away from you some emotionally valuable images that were captured for the wrong reasons, and hopefully helping you to move on to a more mature relationship with yourself and others.”
Wow, I thought, wiping my eyes. That was quite a mouthful for a wrestling coach and gym teacher. But I saw in his eyes depths I hadn’t ever considered before.
“You’ll find that when you’re ready, some of the same boys you’ve been sneaking shots of, will line up at your doorstep to get their pictures taken by you, if you just do the right things.” Said Coach Moore. “And some of the boys, I suspect, will want more if you just talk to them honestly.
“But for now, son, stop coming into my locker rooms. Got it.” Ordered Coach Moore.
I got it. I understood perfectly well, what Coach Moore and Mr. Greene were saving me from, and more importantly, what I owed them both.
“Yes sir.” I told the Coach. “I’ll bring you everything tomorrow.
“One last thing.” Said the Coach.
“Keep one photo for yourself.” Said the Coach. “Pick your favorite of all the dirty little pictures you’ve taken, keep one print of that picture, but make sure you return every negative and every other print that you’ve made. The one picture will both remind you of all the pictures you lost, and of how close you came to loosing so much more. Understand.”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir.” I said, and with that he excused me and I walked out of the school, tears just behind my eyes the entire time.
I got home and did exactly as I ordered. I took apart my scrapbook, and emptied out my secret box of negatives. There were easily a hundred pictures there, from jock straps to shower scenes, from naked footballers to muscular little gymnasts. I went through them front to back and back to front trying to find a single picture that meant enough now to hold onto.
Unfortunately the one picture I knew I wanted to see the most, was the one still in the camera. The undeveloped negative of Terry Cartwright.
If I went in early tomorrow. Developed the film, then made a single print. Yes.
Suddenly a strange and wonderful thought had crossed the back of my conscious mind.
Mr. Greene and Coach Moore had been friends in college. Everyone knew they were still best friends.
And they had talked about my problem, and had agreed to this strange course of action. Why? Why did they both like me enough to protect me like this.
Years later, I returned to my home town, having become a successful photographer and playwright. It was only eleven years, not twenty, so I was fairly certain either Moore or Greene would still be there.
They both were.
I talked to Mr. Greene first, thanking him for his inspiration and trust. I hugged him and smiled at him openly for the first time since I had returned that box of pictures and negatives.
Then I talked to Coach Moore, who had been more honest with me during my short conversation with him than any other human being had been to me to this very day. With him I also thanked him, and hugged him, but I also went the extra step.
“So, Coach Moore, may I have the honor, of photographing you and Mr. Greene together?” I asked after we had spoken for a few minutes. “I’d never publish it, it would simply be for my mantle at home, a reminder of the men who steered me in the right direction during my youth.”
“Bill and I would be honored Jason.” Said Coach Moore. “Do you have time to join us for dinner tonight?”
“Yes, thank you.” I told him.
Coach Moore gave me directions to their home, and along with dinner I got the whole story of exactly who knew and who didn’t know their secret, and then finally the good stuff.
“No we never did destroy the pictures you took.” Said Bill Greene. “The pictures are just too beautiful.”
“Illegal as hell.” Said Sam Moore. “And we’ve never let another living soul know of their existence.”
“I didn’t think you would.” I admitted.
“You didn’t need to shoot that last roll of film you know.” Said Bill. “You know the pictures after the shot of what was his name Terry something?”
“Terry Cartwright.” Added Sam.
“Terry Cartwright.” I remembered fondly.
“But the rest of that roll. My god son. Twenty pictures of you masturbating.” Said Bill smiling.
“Made me blush for days afterwards.” Admitted Sam.
“Illegal as hell.” I added.
“Quite right.” Said Sam.
“Would you like them back?” asked Bill suddenly.
“Under the condition that they never be published of course.” Said Sam quickly.
“No thanks.” I said slowly. “I’ve graduated to real men myself. I don’t much care for boys anymore.”
“Well, they're here, if you ever change your mind.” Said Bill pulling a box out of the top of their coat closet. The same box I had put them in eleven years earlier.
I did change my mind of course, and we split the box amongst ourselves, and we all kept our word and never published a single shot.
But I did get the last laugh, the day Terry Cartwright showed up at my studio in Chicago asking for head shots, and my phone number.