The Spirit of the Bear
This is a story of true love, one that transcends death and time.
I dedicate this story to Ben and his love Big Jon.
By Papa Werebear, writing as Bjorn Torson
I woke as I had for the last seven years, with the sense that Jim had just gotten out of bed and was in the bathroom of our master suite, shaving his neck, trimming his beard and brushing his teeth. I felt the warmth of our love in my heart and smelled the wonderful cologne Jim liked to use after he shaved. It’s called 'Seattle' and comes in a plaid flannel bag like the Crown Royal bags. It’s a scent that seemed to embody my husbear’s rugged good looks and love for the outdoors. It’s like the woods and fresh air in cologne form and I love to wake up to the scent. It’s crisp and it blends so well with Jim’s natural musk.
As I became fully awake I realized with despair, as I had for the last seven years, that Jim was never going to shave with his straight razor in the bathroom of our master suite again. He was never going to catch me around the waist and kiss my neck from behind with his wonderfully thick, soft, salt and pepper beard. He was never going to hold me against his furry body and make love with me. He was never going to sit on the front porch with a beer and smoke his pipe in the evening. Jim Engle was dead. Seven years dead, from a blood vessel that burst in his brain.
It was so sudden. One minute he was watching football and the next he was dead. I had gone into the kitchen for hot wings and beer and when I returned, Jim was slumped over on the couch. No amount of CPR would bring him back, though I tried so hard. When the ambulance came, I was still trying to revive him. He was already brain dead, but I didn’t know that then. I followed the ambulance.
At the hospital they confirmed that there was absolutely no higher activity in his brain and somewhere around three in the morning, the rest of Jim just shut down. Jim hadn’t wanted to be kept alive, his living will had been very clear, so they hadn’t put him on life support. I was so distraught, I hadn’t even realized his heart had flat-lined. There, in the emergency room my beautiful bear lay slain. They left me alone in my grief at his bedside for probably only fifteen to thirty minutes; I cannot remember how long it actually was. It seemed like I looked on his pale beautiful face for years, every detail of it etching itself upon my mind. All I know is that they finally had to pull me away. I had forms to sign and I did so automatically. My mind performed the routine tasks, but I was not concentrating on the work. I was later amazed that I had filled the forms out so accurately without thinking about the details. Then the business was over and I got into my car and began the journey home to a house that I knew was empty. I knew joy would not greet me there, nor warmth, nor love. I knew it would be as empty as I was.
My world had just fallen apart and I damn near joined Jim that morning.
I was driving home. I was numb, but my thoughts continued in a cold, detached sort of way. I thought that I’d just lost the one man who had meant the most to me in the entire world. I didn’t cry. He was my strength, my joy, and my love and without him, I was empty; I was nothing. Still, I didn’t cry. It felt as though I had died too. Perhaps, that was it. 'The dead don’t cry,' I thought; and surely without Jim, I may as well be dead too. Half or more of me had died completely at three in the morning that day. It was all so unreal.
The sun was just coming up as I drove and I thought, 'I’ll never see another sunrise with Jim again.' Then I thought, 'Hell, why should I bother to ever see another sunrise at all, what’s the point?' I pulled over and got out of my car just this side of a bridge that spanned a fairly swift river. It was early and the road was deserted, there was no one around to stop me. It was fairly high, about fifty feet or so above the surface of the river and I didn’t swim well at all. If the current didn’t get me, the cold water surely would. I’d drown and that would be it. I’d be seeing Jim in just a few minutes. In just a few minutes, I’d be spending eternity with him. I climbed up onto the low railing and looked down.
I went to jump off the bridge and I heard Jim growl in my right ear, "Carl, don’t! Stop right now!" It was in the voice he used when he meant business, his ‘Papa Bear’ voice, and it jolted me like an electric shock. For a few seconds, I felt paralyzed. Then, I felt Jim’s big strong arms around me. I felt his warmth and love in my soul. I felt him in and around me and briefly I knew joy again. My body climbed down from the railing and backed away from it. I was dazed and walked automatically, it felt like my mind was in the back seat and someone else was driving. There was a wonderful feeling of peace and contentment in me. It was as if I was not controlling my body at all. I went back to my car and regained my consciousness, the warmth of the joy I felt left me. It was then, as cold reality seeped back in, that I broke down crying. Eventually, I got home. I went upstairs exhausted and crashed. I did not dream.
There were the usual things that needed to be tied up after death, all the legalities. There was the funeral and burial itself. I was grateful to all the friends that Jim and I had. They were like relatives and helped me to bear the burdens during a very difficult time. They brought food and stayed over a couple of nights in the spare bedroom. I think Kyle slipped some mild sedatives into the cocoa, because I slept deeply and undisturbed the three nights Kyle and Rick were over. Kyle insisted that I have cocoa before bed. It was a ‘comfort food’ sort of thing, he said and the hot milk had a mild natural sedative in it. I’m sure he was augmenting those natural sedatives.
I had told them about the incident at the bridge and Rick and Kyle were both in agreement that I should seek counseling immediately. They were so dear to me, they helped me remember appointments and helped me sort things out during their stay, but eventually, everything was taken care of and they left me to myself. They said to call if I felt I wanted to talk about anything. Either of them would be there for me, day or night. The visits eventually thinned out to only occasional ones and I decided they were giving me some space to sort things out.
I was alone, in the house that we had bought together. Jim’s will made no bones about who his beneficiary was. I was the solitary inheritor of all his worldly possessions. He had brothers, but was estranged from them since they had disowned him for daring to be gay. I remember, vaguely, the attorney reading the line that gave me control of the not so small fortune Jim had left me. "…I therefore, leave the total sum of all my savings and transfer ownership of all real property and businesses to Carl Delaney, my sole and beloved beneficiary." His lawyer smiled and said that Jim had been adamant about the wording, that it should include the word ‘beloved’. I held back tears.
Jim had taken care of me well when all was said and done. I had well over $700,000.00 after taxes, with his savings and the sale of the construction business he owned. He had left instructions for me to sell the business with his attorney’s help because he knew I wouldn’t be able to manage it. As Jim had instructed, that was exactly what I had done.
Engle Construction was worth quite a bit, had an excellent crew and a good reputation. The buyer, McMahon and Son, was a larger competing business. Jim had respected Brian McMahon, Sr. and remained friends with the younger Brian after Jim left McMahon and Son. As a result, there was no quibbling over the price for Engle Construction when it came time to sell it.
Brian McMahon, Sr., had given Jim his start in the construction business. He had hired Jim when he was a complete greenhorn at the age of eighteen and taught him the business alongside his son. He was like a father to Jim, a father that didn’t seem to mind that Jim was gay. The younger Brian and Jim had worked side by side and had become good friends. Later, after he’d inherited the business, Brian, Jr. had even sent business Jim’s way as his father had done. I was happy to see the business Jim loved passed into his friend’s hands. Jim’s crew would be well taken care of.
Jim had left me his half of the house and there was the cabin on some prime property up in the mountains where he and I used to go camping; where he and I saw our first sunrise together. I had no financial worries even after taxes and attorney fees, but I had no intention of quitting work. It kept me busy and did mildly distract me from the gaping hole that was left in my soul that Jim used to fill.
I had noticed that I seemed to feel Jim’s presence in the house after the funeral. I smelled the unmistakable scent of Seattle cologne, though the cologne was well-imprisoned in its bottle in the medicine cabinet, just as Jim had left it the day he died. I could swear I heard Jim humming one of his favorite country tunes, as he used to do when he was shaving, as I woke one morning and at this my heart broke all over again. I thought that I must have been imagining it in my half wakened state, the auditory hallucination being fueled by my grief. Yet perhaps I wasn’t imagining it. I became convinced that Jim’s ghost was still in the house and began to talk to him, to tell him how heart broken I was, how much his death had diminished me and how much I still loved him.
I began to sink deeper and deeper into a self-destructive pattern. I would have more to drink than I should when I came home from work and cry myself to sleep most nights. I didn’t eat very sensibly when I ate at all and I was losing weight, but not in a healthy way. I would go to work slightly hung over. My boss understood, but informally told me that I needed to straighten out my life and perhaps I needed to talk to a psychiatrist. He also suggested that I use some of my vacation time. He said that I didn’t need the pressures of the office heaped on me as well as my grief.
He is a good man. He’d lost a son to a motorcycle accident a few years ago. His son was riding the new Harley that he had given him for a graduation present from college. He was someone who more than fully understood what kind of grief I was feeling. So I took two weeks off, and I did use the mental health coverage my health plan provided. I saw a counselor, but I never told her about the phantom scents or sounds or the presence in my house. I saw her for about a year before I began to even try to come to terms with my grief.
At this time in my life our friends, because they were Jim’s friends too, came over to help and comfort me as they could. They told me that I should cut back on my drinking. They invited me out to things to take my mind off Jim for a few hours. I would refuse, most of the time, as gently as possible. They took me to comedies and to the state fair and other places that weren’t likely to remind me of Jim. But it was no use. I saw him everywhere in all sorts of things that reminded me of him or in other men. Such is the case when you love someone as deeply as I had loved. On the way to a movie one night we passed by a restaurant Jim and I had frequented. I became silent and held in my tears.
Occasionally, I’d see Jim in a large, bearded, bearish man that looked remotely like him, like the night we saw the biker on his Harley who was stopped at a light on our way to a restaurant. Even my friends thought he looked like Jim. I was inconsolable and I’m sure my friends were at a loss as to how to help me. In reality there was nothing they could do. I would have to work this out for myself.
I had a dream, on the night of the sixth month anniversary of Jim’s death. I dreamed that Jim was sitting at the foot of our king-sized bed. He was wearing his favorite black and white plaid flannel shirt and smoking his pipe. He looked at me with a mixture of longing, love, sadness and concern. He shook his head slightly as he looked at me. He reached out a big paw and gently squeezed my thigh and told me that he was leaving. He told me he needed to go, so I could get on with my life and I could heal. He got up off the bed, moved over to me and gave me a smoky kiss just as he used to and smiled wanly and tearfully. I felt his soft beard and warm lips caress me and the touch of his callused hand on my cheek as he kissed me.
I will always remember what he said in that dream. He said, "I love you, Carl. I always will. Remember that. Get better." He paused then and gave me a serious look, "I’d rather that you forgot me completely than for you to go on living like this." He was being Papa Bear now, by the tone of his voice and the stern look he was giving me.
"I’ll never forget you Jim, you know that." I said, my voice on the edge of tears.
"No," he said, his expression and voice softening, "I suppose you won’t. But Carl, you can’t have a viable relationship with a dead man. Please find someone, love, and be happy again. I can’t stay any longer. I’d only make you miserable and if you continue to abuse your body like this, you’ll die. You’ll die far too soon. Good night, my love, I’ll see you again… someday."
I cried out, "Don’t leave me, I miss you so much."
Jim, now crying as I was, said, "I know, my love, I know. I miss you too." He kissed me again, rose from my bedside, turned and walked out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him. I woke, tears streaming down my face and swore I could smell the chocolate-cherry blend of pipe tobacco that was Jim’s favorite.
I rose from bed and scrawled our conversation down on a tablet. I began keeping a diary after that with my dream of Jim as my first entry. I didn’t want to forget him at all. Not one thing. That week I found some undeveloped film from a camping trip we’d taken last summer up at the cabin. We were both old school when it came to cameras. I had it developed. It was painful to see my dead love’s beautiful face staring back at me from the pictures, but the one with him making a goofy face and pretending to pick his nose made me laugh. He’d done something almost exactly like that on our first date when I had complimented him. He usually acted goofy when he was embarrassed. I guess it was so he could feel people were laughing at what he did rather than at him, though I’d never laugh at him. Jim had his emotional walls. My preparing to take a candid shot must have caught him off guard and embarrassed him, but he had covered his vulnerability as he usually did. I smiled and laughed a little through the tears standing in my eyes. I rounded up all the pictures I could lay my hands on of him and I made an album. I would not forget.
In the last seven years I have never stopped mourning him and I certainly never stopped loving him. I had, however, stopped drinking to excess and repaired my life to some degree. Still, it was only a bandage on a wound that had not healed. I hadn’t moved on and found anyone else, despite the stern talking to Jim’s ghost had given me. I lived alone and had dated only twice. Both times the men were very handsome and decent. My friends had set me up with nice, husky, bearded bears on both occasions and, were I not still grieving, I would probably have fallen in love with either one of them. Still, no one could measure up to Jim.
Alone in the house, I hoped to feel Jim’s spirit still, but I no longer sensed Jim’s presence after that night of the sixth month anniversary of his death.
Never, that is, until two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, on the seventh anniversary of his death, I began to feel Jim in the house again. I would come home from work and it was as if the house was occupied. It felt like he, too, had just come home from work. It felt like it used to. He’d leave earlier than I did in the morning, come home first and I’d come home to him. He rarely ever met me at the door, but I’d feel his presence in the house, even though I couldn’t see or hear him immediately. I can’t explain the feeling of ‘occupation’ that begun filling the house. It wasn’t like there were signs of another living being in the house such as things misplaced or knocked over. The house just felt ‘warmer’ than when I had left it in the morning. It was as if I could turn the corner and enter the living room and expect to see him sitting on the couch, reading a newspaper.
That night, the seventh anniversary, I awoke for no reason and I could feel Jim lying next to me in bed with his arms wrapped around me. I could smell Seattle and chocolate-cherry pipe tobacco, but I seemed to smell it with my mind more than with my nose, it was strange. I also had a contented feeling in my heart and had absolutely no fear of the supernatural lover lying in bed with me, spooning, like he used to do. I could feel a definite pressure on my skin as though Jim was lying behind me with his arms around me. I could feel him gently playing with my chest fur, occasionally tweaking my nipples. I could even feel the pressure of his ghostly penis rubbing against my crack. I was becoming extremely aroused. I opened my legs and let him in and, though I didn’t physically feel a penetration, I could tell he was inside of me. I became extremely aroused. My breathing increased, I was sweating heavily and within minutes achieved orgasm for the first time in a couple of years. Since Jim’s death, I hadn’t really been that sexually active. Even auto-erotica didn’t seem to do much for me. It was strange. I could feel Jim orgasm and shoot inside of me even as I came. I fell asleep shortly after that, but I remember feeling a kiss on my ear and the whispered words, "You’ll be better soon, my love, sleep well" as I drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, thankfully, was Saturday. I woke and was sure my dream had been the best dream I’d had in years. In thinking about the ghostly sex of my dream, I became extremely aroused and jacked off. I soon came to believe it was not a dream at all. Jim was making love with me and his spirit had touched mine as we both achieved orgasm the previous night.
Weeks passed, I would hear footsteps in the bedroom above when I was in the kitchen or living room. The floor would creak with the weight of a heavy man’s footsteps and I knew that Jim was up there, moving around. I would occasionally feel a slight twinge of grief, but it also made me happy to know that he was around and looking after me. When I watched football, I would sense Jim’s warm presence next to me on the couch. I never sat in the place Jim used to sit while watching TV in all the years since his death. It was his place and I guess I kind of enshrined it. Now, in the evenings when I watched the game, I could feel Jim’s arm around me or on my thigh. I was contented. On one occasion, I lost all interest in the game because Jim was rubbing my crotch and nibbling on my ear. I unzipped my pants and came immediately. I began to think about sex again, though I was not yet ready to start dating.
I made Jim’s favorite dishes and set aside a little on a plate for him in addition to what I took for myself. I bought a bottle of Seattle, opened it and poured out a little in a dish in the living room as an offering to the spirit of my bear lover. I understood now why some of the eastern cultures had this tradition as part of their ancestor worship.
The original bottle of cologne had been thrown out and other personal possessions donated in the hopes that disposing of Jim’s things might help me dispose of the grief I felt. All of Jim’s clothes had been given away to the thrift store. All except Jim’s favorite black and white plaid flannel shirt and a certain suit that he wore on our first date. The shirt was in a drawer but its scent had long since faded. I put a few dabs of Seattle on the shirt and slept with it like a security blanket at night.
I’d also kept Jim’s straight razor and had learned to shave with it in the last seven years. It was his great-grandfather’s razor and his brothers didn’t know he had taken it. He cared for the razor because it connected him to his past. His brothers had wanted to sell it for the money they could get. Jim had very skillfully shaved my face with it on occasion and I remembered it was such a sensual experience. The first time he had shaved me I was as hard as steel by the time he had finished. We, of course, immediately made love and he was late for work, as I was. We saved that experience for evenings or weekends after that, because it never failed to arouse me. It was tough using the antique implement at first and I got nicks almost every time I used it, but I learned. In all the times Jim had used it on me, he only nicked me once, on the neck, he was so skilled in it’s use. He of course, licked the wound and made it all better. I kept Jim’s razor sharp with the strop he had used. He had taught me how to sharpen it. It gave me a connection to Jim I’d never had before.
Jim was eight and a quarter years older than I and just about my same build, though he was more muscular, and heavier. He was nicely padded with a small beer belly. He was my papa bear.
I had always been clean-shaven, except for an occasional mustache I’d keep for a month or two. I decided about a month after Jim’s return that I would grow a beard too, like Jim had. I would not shave anything except my neck for the rest of my life. I began wearing his favorite flannel shirt in the evenings after work, too. I hadn’t smoked at all before Jim’s death, but shortly after he’d passed on, a year or so after, I had taken up Jim’s habit and his pipe and now smoked the same blend that was my lover’s favorite. I’d sit in the evenings, on the porch with a beer and Jim’s pipe. Wearing Jim’s flannel shirt and enjoying my lover’s pleasures helped me remember Jim and it soothed my weary heart a little. I could, at times, feel Jim standing behind me, rubbing my shoulders. I would talk softly to him about the day’s events and blow smoke up toward my ghostly lover’s face in the hopes that he could enjoy it too.
One evening, when a sudden rainstorm drove me from the porch, I passed by the mirror in the hall with Jim’s pipe in my teeth, wearing the flannel shirt and holding the empty beer bottle in my hand. I stopped dead in front of the mirror. I looked at my own reflection and I was amazed and slightly aroused. I had grown to look quite a bit like my lover. My beard had grown in full and thick. It was black with silver on the chin and a lot of silver in the mustache and was salt and peppery everywhere else just as Jim’s had been. My chest hair even poked out over my black T-shirt collar in strands of black and silver, just as Jim’s had. I went into the living room and when I came back to the mirror with a picture of Jim, I couldn’t believe the resemblance. I had grown about as chubby as Jim had been and had put on the same kind of bulk he had naturally from working.
In the seven years since his death, I’d joined a gym and was working out two to three times a week. I had put some bulk on, but I didn’t exercise enough to remove the beer belly I’d developed. I wasn’t that serious about being trim. Swimmer’s figures had never done anything for me, or had they done anything for Jim for that matter. I’d always been on the slightly husky side and appreciated that look above all other body types. I looked in the mirror and realized that, though we surely weren’t identical twins, I looked quite a bit like Jim. The resemblance was enough that I could have passed for his brother, or his son. I especially resembled him with his pipe in my mouth. I held it in the same way he had, with the same slight frown.
I decided it was time to communicate with Jim. It was time to find out why he had returned and what it all meant. I wondered why I had come to look so much like my dead love. I wasn’t displeased with the look. As a matter of fact, I thought I looked damned hot and I wasn’t about to change it by shaving or losing weight.
My new look even aroused really satisfying sexual fantasies. In them, Jim used his ghostly powers to sculpt my body into his very image. This, as the fantasy went, was so that he could possess me and we could live together in the same body as one merged being, happily joined for eternity. I knew this was silly and pure fantasy, but I must admit I was just a bit creeped out by it when I thought seriously about the fantasy. Jim was sleeping beside me almost every night now and I’d grown accustomed to having sex with his spirit.
I decided to contact a psychic, someone a friend had recommended when I told him that Jim was back.
That’s how I came to know Arnold MacIntyre. Arnold was not a ‘professional’ psychic. He said that he would not take money for his help at all; he felt that would be wrong. He didn’t make his money by reading the tarot or talking to the dead. He did those things, but by profession he was a CPA.
I talked with him on the phone. I remember thinking that he had a warm, friendly, deep voice and I felt I liked him before I had ever met him. He asked me not go give him details and had said he had asked the same of Kyle, the friend who had recommended Arnold to me. He didn’t want to know anything about the spirit in my house or anything about me. We arranged a date for Arnold to come over.
Arnold came over after work, the Friday after I had called. I opened the door and was rather pleasantly surprised. He was quite a good-looking man. He was also taller than I am and beefy. He had a beautiful thick red beard, blue eyes and a receding hairline. He had strong, furry, meaty hands with thick, long fingers and well-muscled arms, which I discovered when I shook hands with him.
I thought he looked nothing like any CPA I’d ever expected to meet. Most of them, I thought, were short, slight and wore thick glasses. This man was a bigger bear than I am and from the looks of his partially unbuttoned shirt, just as furry as either Jim or I. My friend Kyle had told me that he wasn’t a ‘bear’ in the sense that he was straight, but Kyle hadn’t told me that he was a drop dead gorgeous fur-ball. I felt a stirring in my loins from the moment I opened the door. Standing there, as we made small talk after the introductions, I realized that Arnold was the first man I’d had any lustful feelings for since Jim’s death. I thought, 'If he were a bear I’d fuck him in a heartbeat -- and wouldn’t you know it, he was off limits!'
He had introduced himself and I invited him in. Arnold immediately said, "The spirit is here, now. I can feel his presence right here in the hallway. He’s come to greet me."
I thought, "Sure, nice start! Tell me something I don’t know." But I nodded and said, "Yes, he showed up some months back and I’m not surprised that he’s here now. How did you know my ghost was male?" I asked. "Because," he replied, "I sensed that he was a robust man with a thick beard," Arnold paused and looked me over. A strange look passed over his face. "like you." I was amazed. Arnold had recognized my current stature and furriness as being very close to Jim’s.
"That plaid flannel shirt you’re wearing and that pipe you’re cradling, he says that they once belonged to him and that you look very…" At that Arnold blushed a bit and, after clearing his throat, continued. "He says that you’re very sexy looking in his shirt."
I was sure, by the throat clearing, that Arnold had edited the comment Jim had made to him about how ‘hot’ Jim thought I looked. I imagine Jim was quite free with details.
Arnold continued, "He also says he appreciates that you are smoking his blend. He can’t smell it of course, unless he taps into your senses. He says it is still not as good as having a physical body and actually smoking the pipe, but he appreciates the offerings you’ve been making for him. He can smell and taste them when he lightly touches your mind. He likes it when you blow smoke at him. He says the way you look when you do it makes him very…uh… aroused."
Arnold was still blushing. "I’m guessing he was your lover," he said shyly.
I smiled, "Yes, he was my husband."
"I’m sorry," Arnold said, "this must be painful for you."
"It is, yes… a little. But he’s been dead for seven years or so and I think I’m beginning to move on. It’s actually why I called you," I said.
"Seven years, that’s a long time," he said, "you must have loved him very much."
"I do, yes." I said, becoming a little choked up.
"Forgive me, I didn’t mean to use the past tense as though you had stopped…"
I interrupted him. "It’s alright, please, come into the living room." I said as I choked back my emotions and smiled at my special guest.
Arnold came into the living room and I offered him a seat, being careful not to gesture, and something to drink. He refused, saying it would be a distraction to eat or drink while he was working on a haunting.
Before we’d moved very far into the room at all he said, "That end," and he pointed to the end of the couch that Jim had always sat on, "That’s his side, isn’t it?"
I said, "Yes." Arnold sat down on the opposite end of the couch to Jim’s favorite end and I sat in the leather recliner. I was rather surprised that Arnold didn’t falsely guess that the recliner was Jim’s favorite seat.
"He’s in the room. I sense that he’s standing by you. He’s telling me that he died in this room. He’s asking me to tell you that he didn’t suffer from the burst blood vessel in his brain. He says it was like someone throwing a switch. One minute he was in his body and the next he was looking at you from the couch while you gave him CPR. There was no pain, just a flash of light and everything went dark, and then he was looking down at you."
I was shocked. There was no way Arnold could be a phony with all the details he had given me in just a few minutes, unless he had pumped Kyle or other friends for information and had a memory like a steel trap. Of course, I suppose he could have dug up records on Jim and found out the cause of death. It was on the death certificate, after all. But not the other details. Not those.
Following this thought, and partly to convince myself, I said, "I don’t want to insult you, Arnold, but it is possible to find out some of these details from public records or by talking to my friends and you could guess some of them. Can you tell me something that only my lover and I would know?
Arnold smiled, "Well, we can start calling him Jim, but that could be obtained from a death certificate." Arnold paused as if listening and began relaying a message, apparently from Jim. "Jim says there is something. He tells me that you were both watching the Rams vs. the Packers game the night he died. You had gotten up to get more beer and hot wings. Jim liked his hotter than you did and used to dump tons of cayenne pepper on his. He tells me he used to tease you about being a pussy because you liked celery sticks and ranch dressing with your hot wings. He ate his straight and said he liked to feel the burn at both ends, like a real man. He tells me to remind you of the time you made the special chili. The ‘nuclear waste’ chili. You dumped two bottles of cayenne in it just to see how much of a man he was. He ate the entire pot in the course of three days and he says it really did burn a lot, but he wasn’t going to let on to you. He kept telling you how good it was, that it was the best batch you’d ever made. He says he really didn’t like the burn at the other end, but he wouldn’t let you know that."
I interrupted to speak directly to Jim, a broad smile on my face. "I knew it!" I crowed with triumph and laughed. "I knew it, you son of a bitch! I knew it was too hot for you! You never did ask me to make it the same way ever again." I laughed.
Arnold began again. "He’s laughing and says he knew you knew, but he wouldn’t let on because it was a game and he couldn’t admit defeat. He says his pride was on the line. He didn’t use Louisiana Hot Sauce because it’s for pussies too. He liked the straight cayenne. He liked it on eggs for breakfast and used it instead of black pepper for most things. Jim says on the night he died, his team was playing. He loved the Rams and you chose the Packers just so there would be a definite winner and a definite loser. He says...” and Arnold paused, blushed again, smiled and continued. "Jim says the winner got to be on top when the two of you went to bed. Jim says he wished the damned blood vessel had held out and burst thirty minutes after he had finished and was snoring, because he knows he would have been on top that night. The Rams won and up until the blood vessel burst, he was horny and ready to celebrate. He was ready for a… well...." Arnold faltered.
"…a good rough fuck session," I finished. Arnold had blushed yet again. "Jim used to get very crude, verbally. That last comment would actually be quite tame. Jim could make sailors blush, so don’t feel bad. It was another game we played. He used to make me blush. It turned him on. Hell, everything turned him on! When I had grown used to his language and stopped blushing, that turned him on too, especially since I could then dish it out as well as take it," I explained.
I could tell that Jim was embarrassing Arnold, and he felt it was necessary. Still, Jim was trying to be gentle with his living vocal proxy. He was leaving no doubt in my mind by his use of language that it was indeed Jim to whom I was indirectly speaking.
"OK,OK, I’m convinced," I said, "You don’t have to prove Arnold is the real deal any more, my love."
"I think I need to explain about the kind of language you’re getting from Jim." I said, almost apologetically. "You see, Jim was a construction worker. It’s a sort of tradition with men who work construction. When I met him, he was getting out of his pickup first thing in the morning. I’d seen him a couple of times during the week before that and enjoyed him as eye candy. He even took off his shirt for me a couple of times. Once on a lunch break when I was passing by and once when I was leaving work. He sported his furry torso and held his tools suggestively because he knew it drove me mad with lust. He’d eyed me up and down like a hungry Kodiak those times and made some comments to one of his buddies that I couldn’t hear. Jim’s comments engendered quite a bit of snickering from the both of them. That was a few days before our first meeting."
"It was very early, the day Jim and I formally met. It was before most people were scheduled to show up for work and the street was mostly deserted. Jim began by whistling at me and made some catcalls like most construction workers do to women passing by. Then he made some extremely crude comments and equally crude gestures with his hands and mouth."
"It scares most men, straight or gay, when a 250 plus pound man with a nice bit of muscle and a leering look says those kinds of things. Suggestive doesn’t even come close to what he said. He was quite explicit and let me know that I was just what he wanted, after work. When he was done, Jim had a fine smirk on his beautiful face."
"I decided that I was going to end this one way or another. Either he was straight and belligerently picking a fight with me or he was gay and he was crudely coming on to me. The first possibility meant that I could end up in the hospital. The second meant that I needed to take charge of the situation. I walked over to him and told him, in a very calm even tone, that I thought he was a filthy, grimy, smelly, foul-mouthed, hairy pig. I said that he had a lot of balls to talk to me that way. I finished by saying that if he was going to talk to me like that then he damned well better pick me up at 6 o’clock that evening and take me to the finest restaurant in town, to make up for it."
I paused in my narrative and could feel the mirth coming from Jim, standing by my side. He was damned proud of the way I acted toward him on our first meeting. His pride in me was something he reminded me of often during our marriage. I continued with my description for Arnold.
"Jim laughed uproariously in response to my challenge. He grabbed me, which startled me quite a bit since I thought he was going to kill me, but he French kissed me instead. He asked me, very sweetly and sincerely, where I wanted him to be at six. He admired my courage. He said I had a bigger set of balls than he did and then corrected me. He said he was not a hairy pig. He was a filthy, grimy, smelly, foul-mouthed, furry bear."
I smiled at the warm memory, pausing while I cleared my throat. "He showed up at six, in front of my office, freshly bathed and well groomed."
Arnold interjected at this point, "He had gone to the barber and had his hair cut and his beard neatly trimmed. He’d also had a manicure. He was wearing a very nice gray wool suit, a white silk shirt with a blue silk tie that matched his eyes."
"Yes!" I said, "He was so handsome in it."
Arnold closed his eyes and said, "Jim says you still have the suit in his old closet upstairs. He says it would fit you with slight alterations and he’d like it if you wore it. He says there’s no sense in letting a really nice suite like that go to waste."
I began again, "I was so shocked and so pleased when I saw him in it that day. For all the world, he looked like a fortune 500 businessman. The suit was brand new that morning and he’d paid extra for express tailoring. His black shoes were Italian and very expensive. He’d just come from the shop where the suit had been purchased. It was such juxtaposition, seeing such a well-groomed handsome man driving that grimy dented pickup of his. I remember that was the first time I’d ever smelled his cologne and I was entranced. Jim had taken the day off work and prepared all day for our date. His words were gentle and flattering and he held the door to his pickup truck open for me and closed it as I got in. I said, when he had shut the door on his side, "Wow, beauty and the beast, all in one package." He laughed and started to oink like a pig, then grunt like a bear and picked his nose. Then I started laughing. That was the beginning of our first date. We had a wonderful dinner at a very nice French restaurant."
Arnold interrupted, "Jim says he had pulled some strings with the restaurant owner. He’d done him some favors in the remodeling of the restaurant so he got reservations that afternoon for the evening."
"Yes," I said, "He was gruff beast with the soul of a poet. He was very romantic. He showed me how much more romantic he could be later in the evening." I saw the uncomfortable look on Arnold’s face. "But I don’t imagine further detail is necessary." I could tell that Arnold was embarrassed.
I continued in another vein, "You see, Jim had built a shell of gruff behavior around himself since his family had disowned him. He used gruff, rude, crude, rowdy language or behavior to keep people away, so he wouldn’t be hurt again. He’d had a lot of sex in his life. He’d go to a bear bar and score most nights and kick them out of bed in the morning, but he’d never allowed anyone to love him. He had never courted a man, as he had with me. He willingly gave a chance to those that could see through his defenses or challenged him but none had ever managed to tame the grizzly. Until I rose to his challenge."
I thought, in the long silence that passed between Arnold and myself, that Jim was giving me hints all along that it really was him. He had been trying desperately, without offending Arnold too much, to make me believe Arnold was the genuine article. Jim used to talk to me just the way he did tonight, only rougher.
For the first time I knew for sure that Jim had never left me, really, in all the years since he’d died. I had never told a single soul about our little side bets on the games we watched. Further, outside of that one time in public, when only one of his construction buddies was there to hear him, Jim had always spoken to me like a gentleman in public. Those were our secret games, just for the two of us and not to be shared. I set the pipe on the coffee table. I sat, silent, and continued to think. Finally, I spoke.
I said to Jim, again directly but in a bit of a shaky voice. "Jim, why are you here?"
Arnold answered. "He says he’s here because he loves you. He says you and he have unfinished business. He says you’re quite a handsome bear, with your new beard and muscles, and that you’re depriving some nice bear out there of one hell of a good…"
Arnold only slightly hesitated this time and didn’t blush, "Catch." I smiled. I knew Jim would have normally said to me, "…one hell of a good fuck!" but perhaps he did actually say catch this time, no longer needing to prove Arnold was really speaking for him.
There was a pause while I wiped my eyes on the sleeves of Jim’s favorite shirt. Arnold continued, "He says you haven’t been very quick about things. He says that he’s the one that died, not you and that he’s wondering if you’re brain damaged or something."
I laughed through my tears at that one.
Arnold continued, "He says he’s checked in on you from time to time these last seven years and expected you to have been dating at least by the third or forth year after he had died. He says he wants you to start living again."
At this, I broke down. I was sobbing. I had cupped my face in my hands and was crying like a child in front of a complete stranger.
The next thing I knew, Arnold had me in his arms and was rocking me back and forth from a kneeling position on the floor. He took the hands from my face and looked me in the eye. "Shhhh… It’s OK," he said, in a husky voice and then he kissed me.
I was shocked and broke the kiss immediately. I moved further back in the chair. A smile came over Arnold’s face. A smile I recognized and a twinkle in Arnold’s eyes told me that he wasn’t exactly himself.
"Oh Carl," he said, "it’s me. I asked if I could borrow Arnold’s body for a while and he agreed. He really feels for you, you know. He wants to help you about as much as I do."
I was confused, but in looking in Arnold’s eyes, I could really sense Jim in his body.
"Look, Carl," Arnold said, with Jim’s inflections and mannerisms. "I can’t stay in this body for more than a few minutes at a time. It requires too much concentration to stay and even a willing participant tends to try to push you out. It’s a self defense mechanism the soul uses, kind of like spiritual antibodies. All of those stories about possession for months and years are nonsense. I have something important I want to tell you directly. You’re life is going to improve a whole lot more soon, if you’ll let it and if the other person involved in improving you life is agreeable. I meant what I said when I came to you in your dream that night. You need to find someone and be happy. I want you to keep your mind open to the possibility of dating and settling down with another nice bear. If you can do that, I can move on to whatever’s waiting for me beyond that tunnel of light I’m supposed to go through. Now, promise me you’ll stop moping around like some damned kid," he growled.
"I promise," I said, nearly choking on the tears.
"Good!" he said in a louder stern voice."See that you keep that promise." He was being Papa Bear now. He softened, smiled and squeezed my shoulder.
Then he looked over at the coffee table and a whimsical smile played on his lips. He picked up the half-smoked pipe, put it between his teeth and said. "You got a light? It’s been seven years and I want just one last puff, before I go. But make it fast, Arnold is getting uncomfortable."
I reached in the pocket of the flannel shirt and handed him the monogrammed silver lighter I’d given Jim for our third anniversary. He puffed the pipe into life and drew the smoke in deeply. He closed his eyes and smiled. He very slowly let it out through his nose, savoring the flavor and smell as though he was locking it into his memory. He took another deep draw, moved toward me and gave me a long smoky French kiss, squeezing my crotch gently as he did so.
He broke the kiss with a nip on my tongue and a lick of my lips. He put the pipe and lighter back in my hands and stood. "I’ve got to go, Carl; I’ll check in on you. But I’ll be back if I’m not convinced that you’re getting you’re life back together."
"I love you Jim," I said, with tears streaming down my face, "I always will."
Arnold reached out and touched my face, cradling it in his big hand as Jim always had, tears standing in his eyes. "And I love you to, my love. I’ll be there to meet you on the other side, but you better not try to rush things like you did seven years ago. Life is short and life is precious, Carl. You were trying to join me way too soon. You get together with that nice bear I said might be coming along if you can. If it doesn’t work out, I want you to keep looking, you hear?"
He had returned to his Papa Bear stance and voice. I nodded. He continued with a merry glint in his eye, "Maybe we can get together for a threesome on the other side. You, your new husband and me. I can’t think of any better definition of heaven, can you?" He smiled devilishly.
"Oh, and by the way," 'Papa' back in his voice. "The pipe, the leather tobacco pouch, the lighter, my great-grandfather’s razor, the shirt and any other shit I left lying around that you haven’t thrown out are all yours now, so you can stop saying ‘Jim’s this and that’, OK?" He smiled down at me.
Arnold turned around, walked back over to the couch and sat on Jim’s side. He looked over at me and said, "Good-bye, love. Be well." He winked and then, Arnold’s head bowed and Jim was gone.
Arnold raised his head and looked around. "How long was I out?" he said.
"About five minutes." I said.
"There’s a really nasty taste in my mouth, can I have a drink of water or something?" he said, making a face.
"Sorry about that, Arnold. Jim wanted a last smoke before he left," I said as I puffed on the pipe. "It’s a taste that took me awhile to acquire. I’ll get you a beer if you like, that should wash away the taste."
"Yeah, sure, that would be great." I noticed Arnold sort of avoided my gaze and had become a bit withdrawn. I went to the kitchen and came back with two beers and handed Arnold one and blew my nose on some tissues from the box on the coffee table.
"So, what happened while I was out?" Arnold asked, a bit hesitantly. "I usually don’t remember what’s happened while I’m possessed. Some mediums do and some don’t. I sort of go on vacation while a spirit possesses me. I have dreams that have nothing to do with what’s happening. It leaves me disoriented, when I come back."
Obviously he really didn’t have any memory of the events of those five minutes he was possessed and the disorientation would explain his odd behavior just now. I thought it best not to mention the incredible French kiss Jim gave me with Arnold’s mouth as a parting gift. It was exactly the way Jim used to kiss, though. Kisses are like fingerprints, no two people kiss the same and I knew exactly how Jim used to kiss me. He’d end each kiss with a little nip on my tongue and a little lick on my lips when he broke the kiss. That was exactly how Arnold had kissed me after inhaling the smoke from the Jim’s pipe.
"Well," I began, "Jim came over and hugged me and told me that it was damned well time I got my life back together and that he was going to keep coming back until I got it right. Of course that’s the quick version, he was a little more verbose than that about it. He told me he loved me and always would and then he took your body over to the couch, sat you down, winked at me and left."
We both sat and talked about the evening’s events and drank our beers. We spent a good number of hours talking about ghosts and the supernatural and other cases Arnold had worked on. I told Arnold all about Jim and when we had finished talking, at about one in the morning, I felt that he and I had begun a very good friendship. During the evening’s conversation, I found out that Arnold was also a Rams fan, just like Jim and invited him over to watch football sometime. He said that would be great and said he’d call when the Rams were playing next. He waved as he got into his car to leave. That night, I was not visited physically by Jim, but I had one Hell of a wet dream about Arnold. In the dream we were kissing and rubbing each other’s cocks together and then I felt Arnold explode all over my chest. I woke up smeared in my own come and I could have sworn I heard Jim’s chuckle.
It was about two months later that I heard from Arnold. It was one evening when I was sitting on the porch with my pipe and a beer, as usual. He rolled into the driveway and came up to the porch with his briefcase in his hand. We shook hands and I offered him a seat and a beer.
When I came back with the beer he had a serious look on his face. He opened the beer, took a sip and looked like he was struggling with something.
"What’s wrong, Arnold?" I asked.
"Well," he said, "after the night I came over and we talked to Jim, some things happened," he said, hesitantly.
"What sort of things?" I asked.
"Jim hasn’t been back here, has he?" Arnold asked.
"No, I don’t think so. I haven’t sensed him in the house since the night you came over. What’s going on?” I asked.
"Well," he paused for a time and I could tell he was trying to find the right words. "Sorry, it’s kind of hard for me to start."
"It’s OK," I said, "take your time."
He paused again, drank several gulps more of his beer while I reloaded my pipe and lit it up. "Carl, Jim has been visiting me off and on since the night I came over. At first he was just hanging around the house, talking about you. I feel I’ve known you for years because of the details Jim gave me and the images he flashed into my mind. Then Jim started talking to me about my life and how lonely I was and then he told me something about myself that I’ve known for years and have been hiding.” He paused and gulped.
“Carl, I’m gay." He paused again and furtively looked at me, then looked back down at his beer bottle. He continued, "Jim said he knew it when he possessed me. He could read it in my mind and he’s been reminding me almost daily that I was very turned on by you when I first saw you at the door. He reminded me of that tingle in my balls and at the base of my spine when I saw you there, with the pipe in your mouth as you answered the door. Jim said that I was attracted to his type of bear and that you were now very much the type of bear he was. Carl, I..."
Arnold hesitated and swallowed hard, his hands were shaking as he said the next. "I’m beginning to feel the way he felt about you and not just because I could feel the love Jim had for you. He said he wouldn’t leave me alone until I came and talked to you. He restored the memory of when you, he and I kissed that night and frankly, I get stiff just thinking about that. He’s been visiting me in bed and, though I’m a complete virgin when it comes to sex with men, I think after what Jim has been doing to me at nights, I would really like to make love with you. He’s been inside of me, I mean inside of my anus."
Arnold blushed and hesitated before he went on. I took a long drink, put the pipe back in my mouth and puffed as he continued. "He’s been inside of my ass and I liked it. Last week he possessed me, I gave him permission of course, and he sort of played back a memory of making love with you while he possessed me. It seems he’s found a way of keeping me from going on vacation while he’s inside of my head. He and I jacked off together as we remembered you fucking him. I guess the Packers won that night or something."
I smiled at that one, that comment was pure Jim.
"I’ve got to tell you," Arnold said, "I think you’re a really handsome man and I’m extremely attracted to you. Jim showed me in his memories the large brownish birthmark on your right inner thigh that’s sort of the shape of Alaska in the memory we shared. I thought it was cool looking. I was thinking that perhaps I was the…"
He stopped at that point and looked over at me. He’d been studying his beer bottle very intently while he was talking about events of the last two months. I guess he’d figured he’d gone too far with the birthmark comment. It must have been the look on my face, because Arnold became even more nervous. I was shocked and I guess it showed.
He hurriedly said the next, "OK, I’m sorry. This is a complete mistake, I guess I should be going now."
He began to get up and I bellowed a bit too loudly, like some drill sergeant, "Sit!" I could use the Papa Bear voice too. He sat back down like his legs had been kicked out from under him with a rather frightened look on his face.
"I’m sorry," I said in a soft voice, "I didn’t mean to be so rude. I just didn’t want you running off before I had a chance to say something. I was taken aback, a little, that Jim had shared so much of our relationship, like how I look naked." I paused and said the next with the gentlest most sincere voice I could possibly muster. "I think I would very much like to take you upstairs and make love with you Arnold, this very night. I want to explore every inch of your body and give you incredible pleasure."
Arnold blushed a deep crimson and studied his beer bottle again. I smiled and took his hand in mine. "It seems Jim has seen fit to fix us up, so let’s not disappoint him. He must really be anxious to move on. Hey, maybe he’s got a hot date waiting for him?" We both laughed.
"There’s something else,” Arnold said and he opened his briefcase. He pulled out a notepad. "It’s a message for you from Jim, he wrote it this morning when I agreed again to let him possess me. It was more like automatic writing, though. The man has a positively filthy mind!"
I smiled. "Don’t I know it!" I said with a chuckle.
"He has showed me all sorts of things I can do during sex, over these last two months."
"Yeah," I said, "I got him a copy of the gay Kama Sutra for our first anniversary and he was determined to work his way through the book. He did so with me, two or three times, though some of the stuff we couldn’t do because we were too heavy or not limber enough."
Arnold blushed furiously.
"I’ve still got the copy upstairs." I said and winked at Arnold. He handed me the notebook and really started studying his beer bottle.
The hand was unmistakably Jim’s and what was written was in his idiom.
I have waited seven years for this. If you are reading this note, it’s because I have finally bugged Arn enough to make him visit you. I know you will grow to love him as much as you loved me, so give him a chance. I want you to know that I love him very much too. Over the last two months I’ve really gotten to know him and I’ve grown to love him. He and I have been sharing some memories, he’ll remember some things about you that I remembered about you. I think he’s falling in love with you just from the memories he and I have been sharing.
If I were still alive, I’d want you both as my husbear, or is that husbears? He is a gentleman, a good man. He will make you happy and I’m sure you will do the same for him. I really hadn’t planned this, but sometimes luck or fate drops things in your lap. I had no idea Arn was a bear until he let me possess him, but I started getting ideas just as soon as I found out.
I could see the way you looked at him when he came into the hallway and I recognized that look. It was the same look you used to give me and you have no idea how happy I was to see it on your face. I haven’t seen you in that kind of lust since I passed away.
When I possessed Arn, I could feel his attraction for you. I knew how you made him feel and I’ll let you in on a secret, he wasn’t just disoriented that night; he was trying to deny how he felt and didn’t want you to see how turned on he was becoming. It was a natural fit. I just needed to convince Arn to give you a shot. He’s really afraid of rejection. I’ll be watching as you read this note. If you plan to start a relationship with that gorgeous red head, just give him a kiss and I’ll be packing for that trip through that tunnel of light.
I will love you always,
JimI put the notepad down, stood, and took Arnold's hand in mine and pulled him up. He looked more than a little nervous. I looked over his shoulder and said loudly into the night, "OK Jim, start packing."
Arnold said, "He says you don’t have to yell. He’s standing right at the base of the porch steps."
I laughed. I drew on my pipe and French kissed Arnold deep and long. I nipped his tongue as we broke the kiss and licked his lips. Arnold was just a bit surprised. "No, Jim didn’t step in to kiss you, that was all me," I said. We stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind us. We held hands as we climbed the stairs and adjourned to my bedroom. We made love long into the night and I introduced Arnold to pleasures he’d never dreamed possible. I had learned a little from the gay Kama Sutra and committed it to memory.
Arn and I have never heard from Jim again and we’ve been married for ten years now. I know Jim is happy for us, wherever he is. Maybe he’s just as happy as we are, with some hot bear on the other side. Maybe one day, we'll have a fourway.
Copyright © 2000 & 2015 - Bjorn Torson
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