Justin Thorenson, leaves the U.S. consulate in Baghdad, Iraq’s, Green Zone at the end of his two-year tour badly needing a restful assignment, not least because he has lost the only lover he has ever had, a Marine guard named Chad, in a fire fight beyond the walls of the protected compound. Thorenson is given an ideal “rest” assignment at the consulate in Okinawa. His recovery to steady footing is almost immediately challenged, however, in the form of the fun-loving, *oung and virile, but "emotionally not mature" and sexually insatiable sailor, Ron Rivelle, and his friends. Ron slowly takes over Justin’s life and mind and body to the point that Justin once more is looking for an escape.
“So, we meet again, Mr. Kadena who isn’t in the Air Force,” he said to me as I boarded the van, which had just enough seats for those taking the tour—and the only seat empty when I boarded was the one next to his. We were both in shorts and T-shirts and the seats were made for Japanese, so all the time we were bouncing up the road to the isolated castle ruins, our thighs and shoulders and arms were rubbing against each other. I don’t know what that did for the young sailor, but it made my blood boil.
Ron was curious about Baghdad once we’d gotten to the “how we got here” chitchat while the bus was rolling along, and I told him what a life-focusing experience it had been and, probably—now that I think back on it—unwittingly revealed more of myself and of the conditions and pressures I lived under there than I really should have. I know that I must have mentioned Chad more than a couple of times—although I’m sure I didn’t reveal the depth of our relationship. And I also must have mentioned that Ron reminded me in some ways of Chad.
I thoroughly enjoyed the outing—and not least because Ron and I stuck together while we were exploring the castle and because I opened to his great sense of humor and his exuberance in enjoying what he was doing—and in including me in his adventurous, innocently open world.
We talked even more freely and openly on the way back to Kadena. He said he’d tried to sign up for the tennis ladder at the Kadena USO but that it was fully booked. I said that there was a tennis court in my housing complex—just for the residents there and their guests—and that if he really wanted to play some tennis while he was stationed on Okinawa, I’d be happy to play with him there as my guest. We set a tennis match date for the next weekend. And I even said I’d drive down to his ship to fetch him for the match.
When we returned to the USO club on Kadena, Ron got out of the van and walked over to the bus stop.
“It’s late,” I said as I walked over to him after climbing down from the van. “And it’s dinner time. You could stand out here an hour or more waiting for a bus and not get back to Naha before they’ve closed down the mess hall.” . . .
Ron was quiet all the time we were driving back to Naha. It didn’t take long to drive to his ship, but it seemed uncharacteristic for him to be so silent. I decided he was tired from the day’s outing—as I was. But it was a good tired. I hadn’t felt this relaxed and happy with life since the last afternoon tryst I’d spent with Chad in Baghdad. . . .
I parked in the shadow of a stack of crates not far from the gangplank to his ship. And it was a good thing that I did, because when I came to a stop, he reached over and wrapped his hand around my neck, turned my face toward his, and gave me a deep kiss on the lips.
I froze and he turned and exited the car, shutting the door, and not looking back as he sauntered toward the end of the gangplank. . . .