The school had changed some in the last forty years, but the layout was basically the same. There were new buildings and some of the old ones had been modernized; but there was much that Mitch remembered. Mitch walked through the main hall to the greeting and sign in table. In short order he had a 'Hello, my name is' sticker on his suit coat. The volunteers working the table didn't seem to remember him and Mitch inwardly sighed in relief. He was surprised to find himself afraid that someone would see him and tag him with one of the many derogatory nicknames he'd collected while in high school.
"Oh, get a grip!" he thought.
Mitch stepped through the door and was immediately hit by another wave of memories; it wasn't just the look of the place, though little of that had changed except the paint color. The basketball backstops cranked up high on the walls, the bleachers rolled back and folded into their storage lockers along the long walls of the gym, all that looked familiar; but it was more the odor of the place that pitched Mitch back in time. It was a mixture of male sweat, rubber, Heet, lingering peripheral smells of under arm deodorant and foot fungus spray and the damp chlorine smell of wet concrete that all gyms and locker rooms seem to share in older schools. The faint odor, only partially covered by disinfectant, almost instantly brought forth strong memories, ones he had nearly forgotten.
In particular, Mitch was remembering his first week as a freshman in this gym. His PE teacher, Mr. Franklin, had been an imposing figure, standing 6'2" with a barrel chest and a blond crew cut with silver at his temples. His thick gold and silver mustache and end of the day scruff enhanced his already masculine aura. His bulky form spoke of an athletic past. Indeed, he looked like exactly what he was... a high school and college fullback who had added a layer of comfortable padding as he had aged. His legs were still thick, arms, too; but the belly had morphed from a washboard to a more rounded gut, almost but not quite a beer belly. An eagle tattoo on his outer right biceps looked like one that many service men had after WWII and was only visible beneath the thick hair owing to the fact that the hair was as light as his mustache. It still made the tattoo hard to distinguish as more than a blob from a distance of more than six feet. Mitch remembered the instant surge of lust in his groin as he looked closely at his sixth period teacher.
He had been dreading PE, based on his experience in junior high with all the teasing about his newly sprouting body hair. The first time he had been called 'monkey boy' and all the other kids in the locker room had taken up the chant, it really hurt. He'd been depressed for weeks. Throughout junior high, a good day had been when he was ignored by the others. A bad day was... well, most of them had been bad days. Since he had only gotten furrier as he moved towards high school, he could only imagine what was in store for him. But looking at Coach Franklin, standing there with his clipboard calling roll, he thought that at least there would be something to look forward to in gym this year. He carefully feasted his eyes on the tall, stocky man, noting the fur creeping out of the collar of his tee shirt and the golden hair on his arms and legs and stored the images for later enjoyment in the privacy of his bed.
The memory of that first day faded and was replaced with one from later in high school. Mitch had been talked into being the manager for the varsity football team, since that year he had last period PE. He took the job partly because he would get to skip some of PE during football season, but also because he would get to work with Coach Franklin in the locker room and on the field. It also meant that, because it was last period, he could skip showering and just go home. He always enjoyed looking at the coach's stocky body and the luxuriant arm and leg hair that promised a thick pelt on his chest. He found the look of the coach with his golden, end-of-the-day stubble and the mustache blazing in the late afternoon sun gave him wood he struggled to hide.
He imagined that one day the coach would notice all the ragging and teasing and would stride up and chase the bastards off. He'd take Mitch aside and try to make Mitch feel better about himself. He pull up his jersey, showing Mitch his ample densely hairy chest and belly and say, "Don't let them get to ya kid. Real men like us have hairy bodies; they're just jealous 'cause they don't have any. They're intimidated by you and that's why they're making fun of you." He'd wink, tousle Mitch's hair and tell him to get back on the field. Such were the things of which Mitch's adolescent dreams were made.
But one day, the Gods smiled on Mitch in reality and took pity on him for all the teasing and the loneliness. They threw him a bone; but what a bone! It wasn't a measly rib bone, no, they'd thrown him a heavy thighbone with scraps of meat still on it!
Football practice had gone very late and it was Parents Back to School Night, so teachers and parents would be returning to the school for the program. Indeed, some teachers had not even left after 7th period was over. Coach Franklin, like all the rest of the team, was hot and sweaty from the long practice. The rank smell would not go unnoticed with the parents. The guys made a beeline for the showers and coach made a beeline for the PE office, which had a shower of its own. Mr. Franklin planned on showering and changing into clean clothes there rather than going home before Back to School Night started. He reached for the shower handles and muttered a curse; no water. The janitor had mentioned having to shut off some of the water in the gym from maintenance work on a persistent leak. Damn! Nothing for it but to use the main showers. Most of the team were done anyway and dressing at their lockers or already gone home.
Mitch was checking in some equipment and looked up in time to see the coach striding down the row of lockers, butt naked. His protective instincts failed him briefly, as he stared openly at the coach, whose back was covered in silver-shot gold fur. A wide set of shoulders were equally furred and tapered only slightly to still-muscular glutes that had dark golden swirls of hair covering them. Mitch nearly passed out. He found a reason to go to his locker, which had a view of the showers and with fortune smiling upon him, the row where his locker was located was empty. He carefully looked around the corner and was able to see Mr. Franklin soaped up in profile, just working shampoo into his flattop with his eyes closed.
Thick wet, fur, clung to his softened, but still impressively muscular body. Mitch had a stiffy he knew he would have trouble concealing. He knew that coach was close to the end of the routine. For most guys shampoo is the last job, and coach's flattop didn't take long to get clean. Mitch headed back to the office. About five minutes later, he was (as he had fervently prayed for) treated to the front view as Franklin passed back through the emptying locker room to his office, now dripping. The coach's chest and belly were thickly furred and Mitch loved the look of the silver spread across Coach's pecs. The water made all of it cling to his skin. A heavy cock swung slightly as he walked and a dense bush of dark gold hair covering his crotch made Mitch nearly pass out again.
"Hey, Mitch! Toss me a towel, will ya?" Coach Franklin's deep voice snapped Mitch back to his duties and he reached for the asked-for towel from the pile of clean ones he was unwrapping. Coach took the towel, ran it through his flattop dried his mustache and standing naked right in front of Mitch while doing so. Had the coach noticed his stare? If so, he never said. He thanked Mitch and headed into the coach's office to finish drying off and change to street clothes for the evening. Mitch went home, the sights playing over and over again in his head, making it mandatory that he walk with his books carried in front to conceal the raging hard on. For months afterward, Mitch relieved himself to those images. They became his favorite jack off fantasy.
They also gave him hope that he was not a freak of nature. Surely someone as hairy as the coach must have been hairy in school, too; maybe as hairy as he was? Obviously, the coach had survived. In fact, the coach seemed popular both with students and with other teachers, so maybe it was possible to have friends even if you were a freak or a monkey boy; just maybe.
"Hey, Mitch!" The voice penetrated Mitch's fog of memories. He snapped back to the present and looked around. "Man, you must have been a million miles away... I called you about three times!" the voice said.
Mitch looked at the man standing there, hairy hand extended, a grin on his face. He was bald in the typical male horseshoe pattern. He had a big thick beard, slightly wild and on the long side, a lot of it dark red but with substantial amounts of silver throughout. The hair in his mustache was lighter red mixed with silver and there was a pure, silver-white patch of hair on his chin below his lips bounded on either side of his chin by a very dark inch wide patch of almost pure red beard that tapered up into his mustache. The hair that was a fringe around his head seemed to be evenly mixed between silver and red. He was a very large man, substantially bigger than Mitch. He was muscular, even his wool suit didn't hide that, but you could also tell he indulged in a second helping occasionally, too; because the suit didn't hide that either. He looked like an ex-pro football lineman or something. Mitch felt a stirring in his loins looking at the ursine man as he took his hairy paw.
"Do you remember me?" The man asked expectantly in a bass voice.
Mitch looked at the sticker on the pocket of the brown suit coat and read the name. "Norman 'Moose' Gretsky"
"It's me, Moose!" He said and his face was alight with cheer. "I've been lookin' for you at these things for decades. You finally came!"
Mitch kept the smile on his face, but he was less than thrilled. Moose was, after all, the one who had branded him with the name "Captain Hairball".
As if reading his thoughts Moose said, "Ol' Captain Hairball! He paused and took a breath. "Hey, I'm sorry about all the grief I caused you back in school. I wanted to say sorry back then, but I was a thick headed, prideful kid and didn't know how."
That was it. That was the starting flag! The nickname gave Mitch full permission for what was to happen next. Moose had opened the door and now Mitch was going to rush through it. Moose let go of Mitch's hand and Mitch proceeded to say something he'd always dreamed of saying, something he'd rehearsed over and over. All the lockeroom and classroom memories bubbled up to fuel what came next.
"Moose, I don't know if you even had the barest inkling that what you and the others did to me was cruel. It was more than that, it was crippling. It made me feel like I was less than human and all that over something completely beyond my control. I hope you understand, now that you're an adult. And I hope that if you have kids, you've taught them better than that. I hope they've learned just how deeply words can cut, I hope you taught them that. I haven't been back to this place in forty years because of what you guys did to me..." Ashen-faced, Moose started to interrupt, but Mitch barreled on. "...the practical jokes, the teasing and name calling... Goddammit, they hurt! Every time I got one of those reunion letters, I tore it up as if tearing it up and throwing it away would destroy some of the hurt I felt." Mitch worked himself to a climax. "So I hope you've raised your own kids better. I hope at the very least you've learned not to ridicule people for things they can't help."
Mitch stood there triumphant, victorious. He had kept an even, strong tone of voice using emphasis in just the right places to verbally punch this man. It was the same voice he used when lecturing and certainly, he'd just given the most heartfelt lecture of his life.
Moose stood there, shock on his face but more stunningly, tears standing in his eyes. Without any warning, Moose grabbed Mitch in a big bear hug and whispered in a voice choked with emotion. "I'm so sorry, Mitch."
He released Mitch, quickly wiped his eyes and made an almost embarrassed exit. Another man, somewhat rotund with a red-gold, neatly trimmed beard called after him, "Norman, Norman…" The short, stout man took one dagger-filled look at Mitch and hurried after Moose.
Mitch stared after the two retreating men. No doubt, about it, Moose had meant what he said. Moose really was sorry.