Going through some files, I found that I had written this story and realized I had never submitted it! I hope you like it.
The summer I was nineteen, I lived at home with my parents while on term break from college. I had a job in the photo lab at a local commercial art studio and spent the sweltering afternoons in the cool of the studio darkroom developing film. This was before the digital era of photography, and everything then required large sheets of crisp film, tanks of pungent smelling chemicals, cool running water and pans that floated in a bath to keep them the perfect temperature. Black and white film allowed me dim red light bulbs to work under; color processing needed to be done in near darkness with just a tinge of green light allowed.
It was a good job to have in the sweltering summer heat, because while my friends were working outside, sweating and breaking their backs, I was inside where it was dark and quiet and cool.
One late afternoon when I got home from work my mother met me at the front door. 'Brad,' she said. 'Get in the car, I have somewhere we have to go.' I thought this seemed odd, but she was after all my mother so I didn't question her, and followed along and got in beside her.
'Where are we going?' I asked as she pulled out of the driveway.
At first she didn't answer, then after I asked her about five times in five different ways she finally blurted out: 'I am worried about you and we are going to the doctor. I already made an appointment,' she replied.
I was totally confused now and suddenly concerned. What on earth was she talking about, and why was she taking me to the doctor? I felt fine, and as far as I knew I had given her no reason at all to worry about me.
'Worried? About me? Why?' I asked, registering alarm and confusion
She paused and then said, 'I was doing your wash and I couldn't help but notice that you have blood spots on the front of all your underwear. I want you to talk to the doctor about it. I know you are in college now, but you are still my son and if you have a problem I want you to have it taken care of.'
I was stunned... but it took me only an instant to put the pieces together.
Secretly, there was something else I liked very much about working in the darkroom. It was the perfect place to masturbate. When you went in and closed the door, a light came on outside to warn others to stay out-because even a tiny bit of stray light would ruin the film developing process. Therefore, I was guaranteed ten minutes of complete privacy whenever I entered that chamber. Even today, I still recall the anticipation of illicit and imminent orgasm that caused my heart to beat faster and my dick to harden in my jeans even as I gathered up my layouts for a session behind that closed door. A blast of cold air richly infused with the smell of photo chemicals would hit me the moment I opened the door to enter, and that odor had become like an aphrodisiac to my lust-addicted teenaged brain. I would work the floating pans in the tanks with one hand, sloshing the cool chemicals in the trays over the sheets of developing film, while with the other hand I'd push down my trousers in the front. Unbuttoned and unzipped, I'd spring free from my tight white underpants, and tucking the elastic band under my balls I would rub myself towards mindless bliss in the blackness. For extra fun, I could time it just right, to come just as the timer went off and the image had emerged on the sheet of film floating in the tank. I'd feel the pressure building inside and the tickle coming and with blinding bliss, the buzzer would begin to buzz and I would shoot my sticky stuff through the air as it splashed unseen and invisibly onto the floor under the developing tanks, landing amongst the other chemical stains doubtlessly splattered on the dark floor, a place that was never, ever illuminated by the light of day.
Wiping my slick hand on my pants leg and rinsing off what was left there in the water in the tank, I'd use the other hand to take the film out of the developer solution and put it into the fixer, another chemical bath that smelled a lot like ammonia, only more bitter. Then I'd have a free minute to zip up, straighten up before I'd rinse the film in clean water and hang it to dry on the clothes line that stretched across one wall.
Finally, feeling my zipper and buttons to make sure they were fastened, I cracked opened the darkroom door blinking in the flooding, blinding light that spilled in and I would go back to my work desk, feeling smug and satisfied with the aftereffects of the powerful mind numbing orgasm I had just had mere feet away from my co-workers still causing me to tingle inside my Levis.
Since no one would ever enter while the warning light was on outside there was practically no chance of getting caught in the act. I practiced my passion so often that sometimes I'd have three or even four wonderful sessions in a single day. But what I didn't count on was that in the process of mixing my work with my 'pleasure', every time I juggled things in the developing tanks, and I touched myself with my wet hands, I got traces of the photo chemicals on my underwear. It never occurred to me that they were anything but clear, colorless liquids, because that's how they looked under the red lights. But apparently, applied damp and left to dry against my warm skin, they made streaks and spots, and these didn't come out in the washer. Over a period of weeks, all my undershorts became stained in this way. The different kinds of chemicals used with the different kinds of films all made their own earthy hues on the white cloth, some gold, some red, some maroon and brown. I barely noticed in passing as I dressed, however my mother seeing the same thing while doing the laundry had been horrified, assuming that I had some terrible venereal disease, a urinary tract infection or something even worse!
So there I was with my mother, a prisoner in the car riding to my embarrassing death. I'd either have to explain to the doctor in front of her the humiliating real story, or I'd have to lie and feign illness and then for sure he'd give me blood tests and do other painful, uncomfortable things to me I could only imagine. I had exactly no time to decide what to do, because when we walked into the waiting room the nurse directed us to go right in to the exam room.
Blood hammered a heavy drumbeat in my neck and ears as I walked into the examination room, followed closely by mom. This was my first time at the 'grown up' doctor, as before this I had always been taken to the pediatrician when I needed anything. The tall silver haired doctor doctor entered briskly, smiled at us and said, 'What have we here?'
'He has blood spots in his underwear my mother blurted out. You tell him, Brad,' said my mother, certainly embarrassed by the situation herself.
To my huge relief the doctor, turned to my mother and said, 'Mom, unless Brad wants you here, I think you can wait outside.'
My mother looked at me but I couldn't look back. I looked only at the doctor, shook my head no and swallowed hard. 'Mom, you don't need to be here,' said the doctor, opening the door for her, and in that life or death moment, she was suddenly gone and the door closed behind her with a soft click.
Involuntarily, I let out one huge sigh of relief, and I'm sure I felt my blood pressure fall thirty or more points in an instant. Likely my face was pale and my eyes registered the signs of panic. I could have hugged and kissed him right there. I was so grateful to him for his sensitivity and understanding what it was like to be a young teenaged guy, by asking my mom to leave. I think at that moment if he had told me to walk through a wall of fire I would have done it for him.
'What's the problem, young fellow? What are these blood stains?' asked the doctor
'It's not blood at all,' I told him with relief, and staring at the floor I shamefully admitted to him what the truth was, that I loved to masturbate in the darkroom at work and that the chemicals we used had made stains on my shorts that looked to my mother like blood. When I finished telling my sorry tale I sat slumped and silent.
He chuckled to himself. 'Two things, young fellow.' He began. 'First, if those chemicals are getting on your clothes you are probably rubbing them into your pecker as well, and that's a sensitive area down there. We don't want anything shriveling up and falling off.' I nodded and blushed, smiling in spite of myself. 'And secondly, how old are you? 19? You should be doing your own wash by now, not having Mom do it.'
I was so relieved and grateful. I stood up and thanked him and turned to take the doorknob in my hand and go. 'Wait!' he said, grabbing my arm, and I stopped in mid-motion. 'So, what are you going to tell Mom when you go out there? You didn't think up that part yet, did you?'
'I don't know,' I said, suddenly aware that he had again just helped me to dodge death. 'What should I tell her?'
'That part's not up to me, it's up to you', he said. 'But I suggest you sit down and don't go back out there till you have a story for her. And go to the store and buy new underwear and throw all the old ones away, OK?' He got up from the edge of the counter he was leaning on, and winked at me, still chuckling as he turned and went out the exam room door, shutting it behind him.
Alone, I breathed a sigh of deep relief. I owed this man a great debt of gratitude. It surely wasn't a life or death situation for him, but he had treated me with uncommon maturity and respect for which I was truly grateful.
I really don't remember what I told Mom (after all, it was 28 years ago that this all happened!) but the case was closed and the matter was never brought up again. As for me, I went to K-mart and heeding only HALF of the doctor's advice, I bought all new underwear-but all maroon colored briefs this time! But I didn't stop playing with myself in the darkroom. I figured that if nothing had 'fallen off' by now that it wasn't going to anytime soon, and I surely didn't want to give up my favorite fringe benefit from working at the photo lab.
To this day when I am walking through a store and pass the one hour photo stand and smell photo developing chemicals I still have to smile remembering what that odor once meant to me.
Being a boy is so much fun!