Monday, January 14, 2019

The Brute

He’s so much bigger than I.

I’m not yet a good judge of a man’s weight, but even my untrained pubescent eye can tell this brute must weigh two-fifty, two sixty. Solid bulk, too. Not flab. If my pick-up gets a mind to pin me, I'm not going anywhere. I’ll be lucky if anyone can hear me cry for help.

He grunts as his rod bores deep into my hole. The mushroom head stretching me wide is so fat and pronounced that it dominates his dick’s silhouette; it’s freakishly large. He’s got a belly like a Buddha and a chest covered in fur that’s more pepper than salt. Round shoulders, spotted by freckles. His nipples are broad and flat, copper-colored pennies pressing against pecs that usually fill out a crisp, starched white shirt.

He’d been wearing one of those shirts when I’d met him in front of Willey Drugs a half-hour before. It’s the summer of 1977; I'm between seventh and eighth grades. I’m old enough, in my parents’ eyes, to spend my free time as I like. They're unaware that what I like is cock in my holes. In my sleepy Northside neighborhood, it’s easy enough to get. I could head up the Boulevard toward the river, where the men and mosquitos both buzz in the evening shade. I can head the opposite direction toward my usual park, and spend a few hours in the woods kneeling and bending for anonymous dick.

Or I could do as I’d done, this sultry and humid evening, and leisurely ride my ten-speed down Bellevue, where the huzz of cicadas high in the oaks drowns the prime time sounds of family televisions and hi-fis. I’d pedaled with my back erect, balance perfect, no hands on the handlebars. An old madras short-sleeved sport shirt of my dad’s flapped open to reveal my skinny chest; my favorite pair of bright yellow OP corduroy shorts were cut high across my upper thighs, as all shorts are this year.

I’d felt attractive and provocative, in my scrawny twink way, and it had showed as I strolled casually by the Belle Bakery. My bulldog of a man had sat casually on a bench between Willey’s and the tiny grocery next door, staying cool in the shade, drinking a Brownie from its glass bottle. I’d felt his eyes glittering in my direction as I sauntered by, though I kept my gaze straight ahead and ignored him . . . for now. How many evenings did he sat upon that bench, in the chance I’d appear? I’d never seen him at Bryan Park, even though it was less than a mile away. That particular summer, he seemed always to be waiting for me, whenever I chose Bellevue as my destination.

Past the pharmacy I strolled, my bike wheels clicking with every step. If Johnson’s Hardware had been open I might have stopped for a Clark bar. Instead, I lingered at the 7-Up vending machine in front of the Bi-Rite Market. The man who’d stared at me still had bought his Brownie from this machine. My preference, however, was for a grape Nehi. I pressed coins into the slot, pushed a button, and was rewarded by a clunk as the bottle crashed against the dispenser at the bottom.
He had watched me without comment as I pried off the bottle cap on the machine’s cap opener and taken a slug of the sweet, strongly-carbonated brew. I’d wiped my lips with the back of my arm, aware that the action showed off my torso. My bike wheels clicking again, I’d casually made my way to the bench that straddled a change of paint where the brick wall turned from pharmacy to market. He relaxed on the Bi-Rite side; I eased past and occupied the spot in front of Willey’s.

I’d sat silently gulping swigs of Nehi. Our courtship was always thus. “You want to come home with me?” he’d said at last.

Without even looking at him, I’d finished the last dregs from my bottle. Then I’d nodded, risen, and thrown one leg over the bar of my ten-speed. Once he’d eased his hulk into his sedan, I'd pedalled behind him across Brook Road to his house, a mere three blocks away.

On Bellevue Avenue I’d been a brazen boy. Parading my half-naked self. Teasing this Bluto with my Olive Oyl body. In his house, though—that’s where he’s in total control. He could do anything to me, once that front door is shut. No one would know.

I always ended up nude on my back in the guest bedroom, just like now, my hole on display, legs held high and apart, my ankles in his hands. He grips me so roughly that I know, just like previous encounters with him that summer, I’ll wake up in the morning sporting red marks I’ll have to cover for days with white tube socks.

This brute has fucked me, what, eight times over the last couple of months? Twelve? More than that, surely. I’ve lost count. He’s never even shared his name. All I know is that he always wears slacks and white briefs and shiny black socks like my dad, and the crisp bleached shirt of a bookkeeper or businessman. From the ring he sports, I know he’s married. Going by the lacrosse sticks and assortment of sneakers in the mudroom, I’m guessing that he’s got kids. Maybe I even go to school with one of them. And I know whenever I head to Bellevue at dusk, that summer, he's always waiting.

He doesn’t kiss. He doesn’t tolerate foreplay. He always orders me to strip and lay down on my back. He’ll kneel and eat my ass, but it’s more for expedience than for either of our pleasure—he wants my pussy as wet as possible for a dick that’s almost grotesque in its proportions. Off comes his shirt and wife beater. Down drop his pants. Wearing nothing but his socks, he’ll first drive home two fingers, and then his tool, deep into my tight hole.

And I love it, of course. Cock is what I’m made for. It’s not the prettiest dick I’ve had, not by a long shot. But I’m giving this guy pleasure, and he’ll soon be giving me cum. That’s enough immediate certainty to make my little world revolve on its axis. He’s swearing softly under his breath, trying to keep the noise down in a way every parent might recognize who’s ever attempted to make his domestic lovemaking silent.

I’m rock hard, though I’m not touching myself. I’ll masturbate furiously in the privacy of my bedroom at home, later. For now, this encounter is about him. This barrel-chested Buddha. This business man, this married man, this dad. All about the pleasure his cock takes with every hurtful thrust into my throbbing hole. Sweat is covering his red face, which deepens in shade as he grows closer to climax. When he releases, finally, relentlessly, it’s with a choke and a shudder. Cum gushes from his meat into me. It's so copious that it starts leaking from my cunt onto the towels he’s laid down to catch the slop.

There’s a pause. He pulls out. The man has brought a roll of toilet paper into the guest bedroom that he now unspools and uses to dab and clean his softening dick. When he’s done, he throws the roll at me so it lands on the mattress. I lower my sore legs to the floor, but make no motion to clean up. Instead, I watch him pull up first his shorts from the puddle they’ve made on the floor, then his slacks. He’s stuffing his thick arms into his undershirt when I hear terrible words come from my mouth.

“Do you like me?”

Oh fuck. I didn’t mean to ask that question.



All during seventh grade I’d annoyed my mother to distraction with those words. Do you like me? Over and over again when we were together, it would spill out of my mouth. I never asked my father. I didn’t ask friends. Only my mother. Do you like me? I’d say, while she was watching television. Do you like me? after dinner, when we were cleaning dishes together. Do you like me? when she’d remind me to return a library book, or inquire if I needed anything at the store, or (god forbid) if she would ask me if anything was wrong.

Seventh grade had been rough for me. It’s an age when kids are at their most vicious and hurtful to each other. I’d borne the brunt of a lot of teasing about my clothing. I was growing an inch a month, it sometimes felt, shooting out of clothes more quickly than we could buy them. My pants legs always seemed to have such elevated hems that wherever I walked in school, I’d be greeted with remarks about my high-waters. If I managed to get trousers that fell to an appropriate length, my mom would have bought bell-bottoms of such volume that my feet would be invisible. I was teased for having greasy hair, for being a four-eyes, for occasionally carrying my schoolbooks with a crooked arm in front of my torso like a girl, instead of straight-armed and down at my side like a boy. Groups of cruel seventh-grade girls would listen in on extensions as one of them would telephone me at home and pretend to flirt and ask to be my girlfriend, just to see if I’d respond. (I’d hang up instead.)

I never felt liked. I never felt accepted. It was a year in which, among my peers, I couldn’t seem to do anything right.

And yet, seventh grade was the first full school year in which I was sexually active. When I’d sit in a stall in a cruisy men’s room and suck dick through glory holes or through the open stall door, adults didn’t care if my pant hems hovered above my ankles. The men bending me over in the toilets and breeding my hole without a word didn’t tease me about my looks or my vocabulary. Nobody lining up to shove his dick into my cum-sloppy hole at dusk, where I’d lie on a park picnic table waiting for all comers, gave a shit how much higher my grades were than theirs.

The men fucking me made me feel wanted. I knew from the loads I collected that I was doing things right. Having sex with older men granted me a competence and an acceptance that I craved.

That left being liked. Do you like me?

I lay awake one night last week, haunted by why I had asked this question over and over again of my poor mother. It’s funny how little I care now. The concept of being liked carries next to no weight in my day-to-day life. People liking you should be a nice little bonus—not a lifetime goal. Don’t like me in a professional sense? That’s fine. I might not like you either. I just need you to be able to work with me. Don’t like me as a teacher? That’s a pity, but it doesn’t make my counsel any less valid. Don’t like me on social media? You’re under no obligation to follow me, so spend your time on something you enjoy. Don’t like me on Grindr? Don't message me. I won't notice.

But oh. How much it matters to me in 1977, this utopian dream of being liked. To seventh-grade me, being liked is antidote to all my ills. If everyone liked me, I reckon, no one would tease me. No one would try to think up cruel tricks to play after school. If only I were liked, all those seventh-grade cruel impulses awakened by seventh-grade hormones would evaporate. I could stop feeling as if the world’s hateful eyes were constantly on me, judging and passing sentence.

So I’d ask my mother that question over and over again, I suspect, because I already knew her answer. I relied on her comfort. I don’t know what she thought of my insecurity, that summer. I don’t know how much I irritated her. But every time, calm and reasonable, she’d reply, Of course I like you. Still, my need for reassurance must have been worrying. I had a bad habit of repeating the question, two, three times a day, without thinking.

And here it tumbles out, on this hot summer night, in the guest bedroom of a man who has fucked me often, but whom still I barely knew.



“Do you like me?”

The words dangle in the air between us. I would give anything in my life—untold amounts of cash, anything I owned—I would do anything to take them back again. My need, my secret vulnerability, spills out into the open.

For the first time, I recognize the question for the poison it really is.

He repeats the question as if it’s left a foul scent in the air. “Do I like you?”

He’s almost fully clothed. I’m still naked, covered in sweat and semen, sitting on the mattress edge. My legs are long for my age, but they don’t yet touch the floor. When I look into his eyes, they’re hostile. I’ve inadvertently crossed a line here, without even meaning. Hastily, I avert my glance downward.

“Do I like you?” His voice sounds angry as well. There’s a quickening in my heartbeat. My latent alert systems spring into action. I’m in danger here. Once again, it strikes me: He’s so much bigger than I. Two hundred and sixty pounds of bulk and muscle. If he gets a mind to pin me, I'm not going anywhere.

I'll be lucky if anyone can hear me cry for help.

My eyes dart around the bedroom floor to find my clothing. My breath rasps as I dive for my underpants. “Who the fuck do you think you are?” I’ve never heard his voice like this. Big. Booming. We’d always spoken in murmurs during our pick-ups and encounters. “You think you’re my wife or something? You think you’re my girlfriend? Cause I fuck you?

“No,” I say. “Sorry.” I have my shorts on now. I shimmy into my dad’s college madras and begin buttoning the buttons. Only my socks and sneakers to go.

“You ain’t nobody. You’re just a god-damned little cocksucker. You’re nothing but a cocksucking faggot. Fuck. Fuck! I swear to God, you tell anyone about this—” he waves his arms around to indicate what we’ve spent the last half-hour doing. He pounds one fist into the palm of his other hand, face grimacing. “Mmmm! I’ll punch that face in. I will find you, and I will fucking beat you, until you can’t say nothing to nobody no more. You got that, faggot?”

This man could so easily follow through on his threats, I realize. Time seems to be slowing down. This is the stuff of nightmare. Anything more I say, anything more I do, could trigger his physical rage. But damn it, I can’t make my left sneaker go on my foot. My fingers are too numb and frozen to work the laces. Heart pounding, I shove my foot in three-quarters of the way and hope it’s enough to stay put. I need to make my getaway. Now. “Got it,” I mumble. When I stand, I’m hopping. Doesn’t matter. I’m mobile.

“You better not say a fucking thing to none of your fag friends!” I hear from behind me as I stumble out of the guest bedroom. I’m finally out the front door and the porch steps, at last shoving my shoe on properly, when he punctuates his threat by slamming the upstairs guest bedroom with such ferocity that I can feel the vibrations downstairs and outside.

When I reach home a few minutes later, I’m trembling. I wheel my bicycle down the back stairwell into our cellar. It’s after dark, but my late arrival home doesn’t get reaction from my family. My dad is at the dining table, which he’s covered with his papers and files and transformed into a miniature office. He’s studying one of his maps, and doesn’t look up as I pass. My mom lies on the sofa in the living room, watching television. “Nice ride?” she asks.

“Hot night,” I bark, barreling through. When I slither up the stairs, does she even notice how badly I stink of semen and fear?

In the shower I attempt to let the warm water cleanse away the evening’s shame. I’m still trembling; my mind is speeding through all the possible other ways that scenario might have played out. None of them are good. Even later in bed, I lie awake in the dark, terrified by what I’d brought upon myself.

I never saw the brute after that night. I avoided Bellevue Avenue altogether for a while. When I did return, I didn’t find him waiting on that bench. I wish I could say I never again asked my mom that unnecessary question. The bad habit, though, was too ingrained; the question slipped from my lips the very next day. Once uttered, though, I once more recognized how idiotic such an innocuous question was. Gradually, with mindfulness, it slipped out less and less. By the end of the summer, I’d stopped asking it altogether.



As I said, I lay awake last week revisiting this evening in my distant past. After midnight, as someone slumbered next to me, I flushed with decades-old shame at the memory. It was a child’s shame. I still felt a child’s emotional pain throbbing from behind my shut eyelids.

The silence and still and the dark worked a certain clarity on me, though. For forty years I’d blamed myself for what happened that summer night. But my adult self stiffened with astonishment when, for the first time, the truth occurred to me: I’d only asked a simple question.

I hadn’t asked the married guy if he loved me. I hadn’t asked him to step outside his sexual comfort zone. I hadn’t forced him to kiss me. I’d not attempted to persuade him to leave his wife for a thirteen-year-old boy. I hadn’t stepped outside the bounds of his hospitality and stolen any of his property, or asked about his family, or shit on his guest bedspread. All I’d done was to ask a single, dumb question: Do you like me?

The guy could have said, ‘Sure, kid.’ Easy as that. He could have just chuckled and shrugged it off. He could’ve gone to the bathroom, pretended he hadn’t heard. Anything else the brute could have done would have been sane in comparison. Instead, he chose to go off on me, to threaten me. A grown man in his late thirties or very early forties decided to threaten to beat a naked thirteen-year-old boy to a pulp, just for a stupid question.

That is not normal.

This was a man who was accustomed to receiving his sexual gratification from me. We didn’t fuck just once. Not twice. He’d picked me up multiple times. He’d waited for me nights, when no one was home, and hoped I'd arrive and give up my hole to alleviate the pressures of his life. He’d used me—just as men these days sometimes use my blog—to escape the humdrum and to take a walk on the wild side of sleepy little Bellevue Avenue.

What kind of man extracts pleasure from someone, selfishly and without reciprocation, and then in return unleashes nothing but rage? A monster of its own creation, that’s what.

This fellow detonated with guilt and shame and self-loathing that had been building up for god knows how long. He’d constructed a cage for himself; he wore his starched white shirt as a prison uniform of conformity. The only times he got to break out of that prison, an hour at a time, was when some skinny little boy who barely had his pubes decided it was worth his time to grab a grape Nehi.

Nothing a kid can say can be a trigger for that kind of volcano. He’d been ready to erupt for a very long time.

Being able to set aside this disgraceful memory after so long was a relief. I could forgive myself for my heedlessness, for being a mere child. There are a lot of times, perhaps even most, when it pays to remember something about these explosions. The people who come at us the hardest, with the most anger, with the most self-loathing—that anger and self-loathing is actually directed at themselves.

In their ears, even an unspoken do you like me sounds like, do I like myself?

Usually, they don’t care for the answer.

Monday, December 31, 2018

On Forgiveness

It’s the end of the year, and I’m a little thoughtful of late. So if you’ll allow it, I’d like to compose a couple of meditations on forgiveness.

1.

When I first moved to this part of the country, on Scruff I met a kid from Brooklyn that I liked very much. We’d had similar sexual awakenings growing up, and compatible tastes in the sack as adults. He liked to put his ass in the air for older men, and I’ve always had a taste for young men with daddy issues to work out. We hit it off online and made plans to meet, but as with so many encounters on the apps, it never seemed to happen.

He would be nearby and available when I was in a meeting. I’d be knocking around the city solo while he was at work. He once arrived when I available in my sleepy suburb for a work event, but he wouldn’t be free from that get-together until an hour when I’d be teaching. Both of us took these criss-crossed impasses with a good humor—but I think we both found them frustrating.

Finally came a time when we both seemed to be available. I was sitting in a coffee shop in the city with nothing to do for several hours; he had a day off work and was hinting heavily to me that he might be available. But as we were catching up with each other in chat, he shared with me that he’d had a brief relationship that ended badly when he’d discovered his boyfriend had concealing a trash heap of lies. I’d gone through my own travails with Cory the year before, so in commiseration I shared with the kid an abbreviated version of that mess—how I’d developed a relationship with Cory that he’d eroded with lies, and how Cory had vanished after leaving me with both a dire care of syphilis and a need for immediate medical attention.

I thought I was consoling this Brooklyn boy by sharing a tale similar to his, one of feeling foolish after wool had been pulled over my eyes. Instead, I freaked him the fuck out. I had syphilis, he wanted to know? And I wanted to sleep with him?

No, I told him. I’d had syphilis. Well over a year ago. I’d gone to the doctor. I’d had shots. I’d had several blood tests since. I didn’t have syphilis any more.

Nuh-uh, he told me repeatedly. That’s not the way syphilis worked. Once you had it, you had it for good.

I was kind of confused. This Brooklyn kid wasn’t stupid. I mean, he had a college degree. He worked for a company that attracts the best and the brightest. He should know better than to think syphilis was incurable. I mean, he was on PrEP, which at least showed some degree of sexual education. But nope. He kept insisting I was unclean—his word. That he couldn’t sleep with me, since I’d had (or, in his mind, since I had) syphilis.

I didn’t put up much of a fight. He was convinced. I was disappointed. I’d been called dirty. Confused and ashamed for no good reason, I wished him luck and tried to put him out of my mind for good.

Life’s too short, guys. Attempting to convince someone to want you, when it’s plain they won’t, is one of the biggest wastes ever of your time. Just don’t do it.

Still, I admit I had pangs. I’d see the kid online in the couple of years that followed. Each time, that flicker of recognition when my eyes landed on his smiling face would result in me sighing, remembering his insults, and moving on. I’d feel momentary anger whenever I saw him on. I’d wonder how could anyone so educated be so dumb, and hurtful. Whatever. It was just one more person against whom I’d have to harden my heart. What’s one more person. Right?

Something happened late last year, though. Out of the blue I got a message from this Brooklyn kid. He wanted my forgiveness. He said he’d been stupid and ignorant. He realized he’d hurt me with his words, and he wished he hadn’t. He didn’t expect me ever to respond to him, and he certainly didn’t expect me to want to get together with him after what had happened, but the guilt of how he’d surely made me feel weighed heavy on his mind. He was sorry, and he apologized for it.

For a moment I experienced a savage stab of satisfaction. I don’t mind admitting it. Who doesn’t enjoy a good told you so? Fucking right he’d made me feel badly. Go guilt! But you know, that feeling evaporated almost instantly, along with all the ill-will toward this kid I’d been building up over the years. He’d done the right thing. He’d apologized, and his apology was sincere and unmotivated by anything but a wish to put things right.

All is forgiven, I wrote back. Tapping out the words lightened my spirit. I laughed, even. It felt good to forgive. My heart felt lighter; all the sour feelings I’d worked up over this boy turned to sweet. They’ve stayed that way ever since.

Forgiving this kid—just letting it go—felt good. For a short period of time, after being weighed down by resentment and upset, forgiving him made me feel weightless. I don’t let go of resentments easily. Given a reason to, though . . . it was as if the incident had never happened.


2.

Earlier this year I wrote about Peter, a kid whose online life had been entangled with mine for years. The essay was one of my more depressive entries; I catalogued how Peter and I had planned to meet again and again, only to have something gum up the works. Earlier this year we’d finally made our first firm date, and then the day of, he rapidly canceled it, set it back on, canceled it again, changed his mind, then finally canceled. At the time, I tried to remain philosophical about the rejection, but when Peter disappeared for weeks immediately after, for the first time in all the years I’d known him, I felt used and abused.

A couple of months after that I saw Peter and his boyfriend together out on the town. The overwhelming sadness I felt I wrote about in the essay ‘Butterflies and Boners.’ I wrote the entry knowing that, as Peter had been reading my blog for years, he was likely to encounter it. Knowing he probably would kept me honest. I didn’t jiggle with the facts. I wrote what I thought was true, and fair; I wrote not meaning to be hurtful, but to reflect my own sense of hurt. I wrote, and poured out my heart, and in return I got a lot of very supportive comments from readers, and a very little bit of closure.

The incident soured me, though. For a very long time after that night in which I encountered Peter and his boyfriend, I didn’t feel like dealing with all the bullshit men were putting me through, just to get my rocks off. Furthermore, I didn’t feel like engaging in any social media at all. Boys were stupid. Men were stupid. People were stupid. I wanted none of it.

This mini-depressive episode didn’t last. Apparently I can only go without sex for so long. I was still in a sensitive place, though, when a month after I shared ‘Butterflies and Boners,’ I got a text from Peter. I would like to see if we have a connection still, he said. I don’t think I want to start with a sexual contact. I’d rather start over a drink, or coffee, or lunch.

What had been a mild depression instantly coalesced into a white-hot furnace. WELL WELL WELL, I raged internally. LOOK WHO’S COME CRAWLING BACK.

I’d read the text mere seconds after I’d received it, and all I could really think was that if Peter had been nervous about sex with me, he could’ve said so at any point in the previous five years. In fact, many times had I urged him to consider meeting me just to chat, only to have him drag me into his fisting, fucking, and breeding fantasies. I stared at the screen for a minute and tried to think of what to say. I wanted to reply with Guess you didn’t read my BLOG ENTRY, MOTHERFUCKER.

Only, you know. In a classy way.

I was still staring at the text when I got the follow-up. I suppose I should’ve read your blog before reaching out.

Mild understatement, that. Angrily I ground my teeth and read on.

Peter wrote, I also suppose I’m glad to read our history from your perspective. It’s not shocking in an “I had no idea I was treating you like that” way - I was very aware - but it’s shocking and different reading it laid out over the course of a few minutes than it is having done it over days and years.

Reading these words, part of me softened. I’d tried not to be harsh to Peter in that essay; I’d attempted to assign as much blame to myself for my lack of good sense as I did him for his youthful heedlessness.

I read on. I have not treated you with respect. Outside of the moments we’ve texted, I haven’t treated you with kindness either. I am sorry for how I yanked you around when it came to actually meeting, and for how I treated you by disappearing.

Oh. He was apologizing.

My skin had felt on fire, my heart had been pounding with a pent-up anger I hadn’t even been aware I was feeling, but his simple words cooled me down. Peter went on to say that he understood if I never wanted to see him, and if that were the case, he’d never bother me again.

My eyes skipped over his last offer. He’d apologized. Peter had apologized—and handsomely. It hadn’t been one of those ‘I’m sorry if I hurt you’ half-apologies. He’d owned up to what he’d done, and expressed his remorse.

And you know what? I felt better. I felt fucking amazing. And I knew in my heart that I couldn’t hold any animus against Peter any longer.

I was finally able to compose a response. I note and appreciate the apology of your last text. Please know that although I think about our relationship with sadness, I bear you no ill will. I meant the last part with all my heart. Hurt as I’d been, Peter’s attempt to make things right were just what I needed.

I forgave him there and then. I wasn’t ready to drop everything and run to meet him, not at that moment—and I told him so. But I thanked him sincerely for apologizing, and told him we’d talk again.

Peter did the right thing, that day. He’d wounded me more deeply than the kid from Brooklyn ever could. His apology, though, let me start healing. Once again I was able to drop a burden of resentment of which I wasn’t even aware I was carrying. The rest of the day, the rest of the week, the rest of the year was happier and lighter because of it.

It takes a big man to make a sincere apology. I know when I try to be half the man Peter was that day and attempt to make amends with those I’ve wronged, it’s never easy, and rarely straight-forward. That he was able to do so after the shock of seeing his actions held up in my mirror speaks volumes to his integrity. Life manages to find endless fresh ways to make me hurt, I wrote in ‘Butterflies and Boners.’ But life manages to find endless ways to help me forgive, too.

It’s the last day of the year. Tomorrow begins a new slate. I ask these questions of you, if you’ve read this far.

To whom might you apologize?

And who in your life, without grudge, might you forgive?

Monday, December 3, 2018

His Heart. My Heart.

“Let me wrap my legs around you.”

I’ve got the man’s ankles resting on my shoulders, the soles of his feet nearly parallel with the ceiling as I drive into him. I thought he was comfortable. Apparently not. We pause in our gyrations so that he can adjust himself. His hips lift with my assistance; I poke the pillow further beneath the small of his back. Finally, he’s at the angle he prefers.

His hairy legs embrace me. The warmth of his muscular calves against my hips contrasts with the cold indentations his heels make against my ass. What matters most, though, is that molten point of connection between us, that locus where raging cock meets hungry hole. As I resume my pistoling in and out, I can tell he’s more comfortable. The flats of my hands press into the mattress on either side of his shoulders. Our eyes lock in their glances, perfectly aligned—mine blue, his a dark and liquid brown.

“Fuck me,” he says, speaking my name.

“I love fucking you,” I tell him. For reply, he groans as I slide back in.

For long moments, the only sound is the soft squelch of my dick as it slides in and out of his wet hole. “You know how I feel when we get together,” he at last replies.

“Tell me.”

His expression softens. He can’t. Not in words. Instead, he pantomimes. He lays his hands over his chest, one atop the other. Twice, he lifts and drops them. His heart. Then he presses those hands onto my breast. My heart.

He’s handsome, this one. Of course he is. He makes a full-time living as an escort. Daily he hauls himself to the gym to remain in peak shape. His closet is filled with expensive clothing tailored to show off his physique; he keeps himself groomed at all times. He’s the epitome of the Italian Stallion, and every time we’ve met, he’s been considerate, courteous, prompt—everything he promises his clients.

I’m not a client, though. This encounter is strictly off the clock. For one thing, the Stallion never
bottoms for the men who hire his services. He doesn’t kiss. He saves some things for his private sex life, as he’s entitled. But I know he works for months and months and months, pleasing other men, without ever once getting what he needs. Then, when he can’t stand it any longer, he reaches out to me.

His head is lolling. I can tell he’s enjoying himself, but I ask anyway. “Does that feel good?”

He bites his lip. Nods.

“Do you need me to stop? Are you sore?” I’ve already left two loads in this hole this evening. The last time we met, this was the point he gave out—midway through number three. So I’m a little solicitous about his comfort.

The Stallion shakes his head with emphasis. “Nuh-uh. Please…don’t stop.”

“Everything tonight is for you, you know,” I tell him. My voice is low. Intimate. Pitched for an audience of one.  “I love fucking you, like I said, but you know what I love even more?” His eyes bore into mine as I speak. I can tell he adores me at this moment. He shakes his head once again. “Making you happy.”

His eyelids close slightly, almost imperceptibly, as he releases himself into my words. I feel his hole open at the same time; the muscles that had begun to clench and resist after so much pummeling now relax. Loosen.

“I love knowing that for one night—just one night—you get to enjoy what you need. What you want.” I pull out of him and look down at my dick, shiny and glistening in the dim bedroom light. There’s a savage satisfaction in my expression at the sight. He grunts when I shove my entire length back inside. “I like giving you permission for one night—just one, long night—to be selfish. To take, instead of to give.”

“God, you understand me so well.” His words are a whimper.

I look him dead in the eyes again. “I love doing this for you.”

His hands reach up to cup my head. I allow him to pull me down. His neck cranes; his lips meet mine with a lingering kiss. “Thank you.” He sighs. “You are so handsome.”

I murmur my thanks.

He must have seen an upward, dismissive flicker in my eye, though. He speaks my name. “You don’t get it. You are so handsome. That face. That jaw. That bone structure. Those eyes…they get so intense when you…oh fuck…when you fuck me.” I’m not crazy about praise. I know later, when I write about this evening—and I will write about this evening—I’ll edit four-fifths of the compliments he gives me, simply because recalling them will make me uncomfortable. “You have such a good heart and such a god-damned beautiful face. Dude, you just don’t know, do you.”

I’m still thrusting when I reply. “I’m comfortable with who I am,” I say, truthfully.

“You would do so well, doing what I do. I know you don’t necessarily want to. But you could set up a page tonight. I could show you where and how. And you would get so much business.”

I crack a grin. He doesn’t know I’ve sold my time before, obviously. This guy’s a pro, though. I’ve just dabbled, here and there. “You’re very sweet,” I acknowledge. “I don’t have the looks for escorting. I definitely don’t have the body for escorting.”

“You would make so much money, dude. Just by being you. Who you are. Right now.”

My cock’s reacting to the implied compliments, sure. He can sense it. He’s got to be feeling his ass widening. That button I’ve been punching with my cock has been banging my head harder and harder in this position; his legs tighten around my waist and pull me in. “Thank you,” I tell him. “Now. Stop worrying about me. This is about you.

I spend the next few minutes showing him how much this night’s about him. I’m close to shooting, but I want to prolong the sensations he’s clearly enjoying. So I edge myself in his hole. I slow down the motion of my hips and buttocks. I pull all the way out and hesitate before plunging back in. I drag the thick ridge of my cock’s head along his chute, then rabbit-thrust near the outside, where it’s most sensitive. His legs stay wrapped tightly around me the entire time; his fingers interlink around the back of my neck. Though his weight rests on the mattress, it looks like this mass of muscle hangs from me like a sloth from a branch.

I say the Stallion’s name. His eyes open, though it takes a moment for them to focus. “May I?” I ask.

He knows what I mean. “Oh god, baby, yes,” he whispers. “Please. Please breed me again. Let me be the receptacle for your sperm.”

“For more of my sperm,” I correct.

“For more of your sperm. For all your sperm. I wish—I wish….”

I never find out what he wishes. My balls tighten. My chest seizes. I feel my cock contract and expand, contract and expand, as I unload my semen inside him. It’s a quiet orgasm. No loud cries. No spasms. Just me, shivering and shuddering while my chest rises and falls. I close my eyes and allow myself to coast on the waves of sensation, until at last I find myself beached on the warm shore of his furry chest.

“Ssshh,” he says, stroking my face with his hand. I kneel there for the longest time, nose between his pectorals, cock still balls-deep in his hole, listening to his heart beat. After several minutes, he wriggles his hips so that my dick slides out with a soft squish. He rolls me onto my back. Nestles a pillow beneath my head. Arranges my limp limbs, arms at my side, legs spread. “My turn, baby.”

“I—”

“Just relax.”

I follow his order. I feel gentle kisses from his beard tracing down my stomach, then the wetness of his lips and mouth on my meat as he swallows it whole. I’m still hard enough thoroughly to enjoy the sensations. “If you’re doing that, it’s hardly ‘your turn,’” I complain.

“You told me to be selfish. Remember? This is me being selfish.”

It’s tough to argue. I let him clean me off for long minutes as he strokes himself with his left hand and, with the right, shoves four of his fingers into his cum-soaked hole. He climaxes for the second time that night onto his own abs, though two of the jets spray as far as my nuts.

I don’t feel he’s being entirely selfish in the quiet moments that follow, as he rubs knots from my neck with one of his mighty paws. I’m finding it still difficult to protest the luxury, however. After a few moments, though, he hops up from the mattress where we’re sprawled. “Let me show you something,” he says.

“Sure.” I’m sweaty, stinky, and covered in both our juices, but I try to array myself in a semi-attractive position. The Stallion trots to the base of the bed. When he removes the veil he’s placed over the lamp, brighter light floods the room. I watch as he opens the top drawer of his dresser and pulls out what looks to my drowsy eyes like one of those seasonal tins that holds Danish butter cookies. Wait—it actually is a Danish butter cookie tin. He closes the drawer and returns to the bed, bouncing like a kid when he hits the mattress with the oversized tin in one hand. Is he planning to feed me?

He lets his nails click underneath the lid’s rim before he halts. The tin is between us; our faces are level. “I’ve never shown this to anyone before. Anyone. So.” I nod to signal understanding. After a hesitation, he pries open the lid.

The cookie container’s golden interior reflects light onto our faces in an almost cinematic way; the Stallion’s face is illuminated as if he were Aladdin, hovering over the Grand Vizier’s treasure. The gasp I let out is for real, though. The container is stacked with a massive amount of cash.

“This is what I’ve saved this year alone,” the Stallion tells me. “Above expenses. You know. Just savings.”

I’ve never, ever before seen this much legal tender. In movies, sure, but massive amounts of Hollywood-printed paper don't have the same impact as these neat little bundles of hundred-dollar bills. Each stack, bound by a strip of gummed paper, is probably the thickness of a cracker; he's arranged the individual stacks from top to bottom in a triangle shape.

“I mean, I know escorting isn’t something you necessarily want to do,” he says. His manicured hands pluck the top bundle. He drops it onto the mattress, and follows it with the next. “One thousand. Two.” Around the tin his fingers travel as he takes the stacks from their three-sided arrangement, then drops them atop the other. “Three thousand. Four thousand.”

I’m totally unable to react as he counts out his savings for the year in front of me. I understand he’s not showing off. He’s not flashing his money to tell me a story of his desirability, or to prove how good an escort he is. The Stallion is genuine. He’s sharing this moment because he trusts me absolutely. And that’s flattering. My dick stirs into life again at the implied compliment.

“Seventeen. Eighteen.” He pauses. “Seriously. With that face of yours? And that dick? You would be pulling all this and then some. Nineteen. Twenty thousand.”

The tin is still half-full.

I lie there in silence, head propped up on my hand, as he continues to count. Twenty-one. Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-seven.

We’re near the bottom of the tin. “Forty. Forty-one. Forty-two.” There are still a few stray bills in the bottom. “And a few twenties. Forty-two thousand. I’ll probably be able to bring it up to about fifty by the end of the month.” We both look at the pile of cash for a moment. Then he begins nimbly refilling the tin in the same triangle pattern.

I’m a mixture of emotions at this point. I’m still oddly touched at his display, and the massive amount of trust it implies. I’ve never been blessed to have an abundance of money at my disposal, so the sheer amount of hundred-dollar bills is a little bewildering. Mostly, though, what’s surging to the forefront is annoyance—then anger.

Strange to admit, I know, but all of a sudden I wanted to deck the guy. Why in the world was he keeping so much cash in his fucking home? Why in the top drawer of his dresser, and in a cookie tin, of all the god-damned things? Anyone could barge into his condo and walk away with a hefty payday.

What’s more, why was he showing it to me? We’d met once before, sure, but the Stallion didn’t know me. What if I were unscrupulous? A con artist? I could be the sweetest-talking, the most baby-faced grifter, and there he was, putting the lid on the tin and shoving it back into the dresser drawer, and—Christ—walking out of the room to the bathroom down the hall right after. I hear the sound of his piss hitting the toilet. All I’d have to do is haul my naked body across the room, slide a few stacks of Benjamins from the tin into the pocket of my jeans that lie crumpled at the foot of the bed, and rearrange myself. The Stallion would be none the wiser.

I don’t, of course. If anything, I freeze more rigidly than ordinarily I would, as if afraid my body might betray me and do the dark deed I just imagined. Motionless I remain until the Stallion pads back. I’m even afraid to look in either his direction, or at the dresser, in case he reads my expression.

“Hey handsome,” he says, and then lunges at me.

Once I’m in his arms again I’m comfortable. But my anger’s still bubbling to the surface. I have to say something. The words “Haven’t you ever heard of a bank?” burst out.

“What?”

“That cash you showed me. Please don’t ever do that again. Don’t show it to anyone.”

I sound cross, and I hate how my annoyance shows. He’s wearing a smile, though, as he listens to my complaints.

“I’m flattered you trust me this much, I really am.” Is anything I’m saying getting through? “But I mean, my god. I could be anyone. I know, I know. I’m a worrier.

Sensing my upset, he lays a hand on my chest. I catch my breath. The gesture soothes me. I sink back, breathing normally. When he's certain I'm calm, he places that hand on his own chest, between his pecs, and crosses it with the other. Pats them. Once. Twice. His heart.

Back his hands travel to my chest once more. Twice they thump. My heart.

I'm overwhelmed, though I'm not yet sure why.

“You have such a deeply caring nature,” he says. “I don’t know anyone who’s more himself than you.”

Somehow he’s turned my protests into another compliment. I feel slightly tricked, but I can’t protest when he’s being so kind.

“That’s one reason men respond to you so well. Why they would respond to you so well if you—you know,” he says. His fingers stroke my hair, brush my face, trace the contours of my collarbone. Then they travel lower. “Of course, this huge dick is another.”

I start to harden. He smiles. Arranges me into the pillows. Then he pushes wide my legs and, with desire transforming his expression, whispers, “I’m about to be very, very selfish again.”

He doesn't really have to tell me, though. I already know.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Uptown Train

This dude wedged up against me? He has three hats.

I’ve just squeezed onto an uptown train. It’s eight-thirty at night, but the express leaving from Union Square is packed. Wall-to-wall, every seat filled, every pole a totem of clenched fists. Grand Central is only one stop away, I think to myself, but even though the doors have closed, the train hasn’t yet left the station. This sardine-like excursion is going to take a good ten minutes. And the dude mere inches away is wearing three hats at once.

I know this because two of the three brims are in my face. I’m having to angle my jaw up and to the right, just to avoid them. I look at his short, muscular body, covered by a frayed old skin-tight t-shirt. Through the maze of backpacks and bodies I can see his expensive high-top sneakers, his tight sweatpants with the ankle elastic pulled up to his knees to expose bull calves. Tough little punk. He’s a tough little Latin shit with a beard . . . and three baseball caps, over which he’s got a pair of Beats over-the-ears headphones.

Are three caps a statement? Has every wanna-be street thug been wearing three caps and I just haven’t noticed? Okay, in the grand scheme of things, three baseball caps is probably less asinine than one polo shirt worn atop another polo shirt, both with the collars popped, which was a preppy thing I might have done once or twice as a college kid. But its a close race.

The dude is having problems getting the Beats to sit properly, even extended all the way. When he reaches up with both hands to adjust them, the movement causes a ripple effect among the people in my immediate vicinity; everyone has to shift and move to accommodate his elbows. I’ve got my neck bent so far to the side it probably looks like I’m resting it on the businessman’s shoulder, next to me. One of the hats is going to have to go, he seems to realize.

He takes off the top one, flat-brimmed with a Yankees logo, to reveal a shiny black leather baseball cap underneath. Multiple murmurs of annoyance arise as he again tries to fix the headphones. The first cap still in his hand, he pulls off the leather hat and stuffs the pair into the waistband of his sweats. Then, lifting the Beats, he moves the brim of the final cap from the back of his head to the front, and settles the headphones squarely on his ears. The train jolts and moves; we’re finally, slowly, on our way.

I look at the guy’s final headwear. I recognize the brand logo immediately. Nasty Pig. There’s even a silver adhesive sticker still on the flat brim to verify: Official Nasty Pig Gear, it reads.

From his streetwear I’d mentally categorized this guy as a would-be thug. Now I know he’s a cocksucking thug. I smirk. That’s when the dude’s eyes catch mine. No, that’s when the dude’s eyes, so dark and so deep that it's tough to tell where the brown ends and the iris begins, lock onto mine.

I feel a spark of electricity at the base of my spine. People don’t really look at each other on the New York subway. We stand in our places, pretending it’s totally natural to be as close to each other as we are. We avoid eye contact to maintain the pretense of our personal space. But even though my eyes reflexively dance away for a moment, they shoot back just as quickly. He’s still staring. His glance travels down my body, then back to my face. This short little Latin bull and I are cruising each other from the distance of eight inches away. On a fucking subway. With a hundred people crushed around us.

Nasty Pig does a thing with his upper teeth, where they bite into his pillowy bottom lip at one far corner. It’s a sexy move that makes my pants stir. My dick is coming to life. Now he’s hooking his headphones cord around his index finger and sucking it into his mouth. He’s still staring at me, but now he’s gone beyond merely checking me out; he’s staring with intent.

I feel a tingle along the underside of my dick. When I peek down, I can see his pinky finger crooked, tracing up and down the denim of my jeans along the outline of my bulge. Naturally, that just makes me stiffer. When I look back up, he’s still sucking on that cord and giving me most provocative look I’ve had in months. This boy is not only wearing a Nasty Pig hat, he’s determined to live up to the brand.

The train is moving at full speed now; we’re whizzing past 34th. The next stop is mine. He must see me lowering my head to glance at the station sign as we speed by, because now the dude is bending over from the waist, reaching over the little backpack-wearing Asian college student chattering to a friend, extending an arm in the direction of the subway map behind plexiglass next to the door. He’s doing it as casually as anyone could, in a jam-packed train; the point of the exercise, it dawns on me when I see him pointing to the white circle ringed in black next to 125th Street along the green vertical line, is to show me his stop. He straightens up once he’s ascertained I’ve seen his destination, and raises his eyebrows. I pause. My own stop is approaching. But then I make a decision, and nod in response. The train screeches and brakes to a stop. We’ve reached Grand Central.

It’s been a long day, and fifteen minutes ago I’d been itching to go home. Now, though? I guess I’m going to Harlem.

A slew of people exit at Grand Central; another slew gets on. The Latin dude in the Nasty Pig baseball cap and I remain at our spots on the pole, pressed against each other, the crush of bodies shelter his relentless stroking of my dick through its denim prison. The train clears out somewhat at 59th; we separate by a couple of feet. I hold my backpack so that it blocks any public view of my raging erection. The concealment elicits a smirk of his own. His eyes bore into mine. The things I’m gonna do to you, that look says.

Harlem. We emerge from the depths onto the street. Neither of us speaks. I let him take the lead. The smell of hot spiced lamb and of onions and peppers from a food cart follows us around a corner, and then to a numbered street nearby. He uses a key to unlatch a iron gate in front of a small apartment building. With a gentlemanly gesture, he holds it open for me. I push it shut when I’m on the other side. Another key for the front door, then, once we’ve climbed one flight of stairs, a third for his apartment. Inside, the air is stale and still. There’s a faint scent of Lysol, and of cooking grease.

The two hats that covered the Nasty Pig revelation have been jutting out of the dude’s sweatpants pocket all during our walk. He yanks them out and tosses them on a chair. As I stand there, waiting to see what he might do, my heart flops about like a wild bird desperate to escape its cage; I’m a little breathless both at this stranger’s provocation and at my nerve. Nasty Pig is fucking fine. It’s clear he spends his days lifting, probably admiring his growing muscles in the gym mirrors while he works them. How old is he? Twenty-six? Twenty-eight?

I open my lips to say something, to break the ice. But before I speak, he clears his throat, then lifts up his arms. One hand grabs the brim of his baseball cap. The other grabs the rear. He turns it around on his head. And then he kneels. My lips stay open, but all that comes out is a breath. Oh fuck, my lips work. No sound emerges.

He’s got his cheek against my still-hard dick, rubbing it through the jeans as his hands tug at my belt and then at my zipper. My pants fall to the ground; he yanks at the elastic of my trunks. They tumble into the well of denim around my ankles. I feel his strong hand gripping my dick, squeezing it tight, maintaining an expert pressure on the extreme of pleasure, just below the threshold of pain. His lips are pursed; he’s breathing heavily through them as he gazes at my meat. Studying it. Admiring the fuck out of it. He glances up, watching me watch him. Then he’s twisting my shaft around, looking at it from another vantage. Then he opens his mouth wide.

I feel a cyclone of heat as his mouth surrounds my flesh. Then wetness, and the sloppy sensation of his lips dragging themselves down my shaft toward my balls. My head jerks back. I let out a groan.

The walls of the hallway where he’s blowing me are narrow; my left hand braces itself against cold plaster while my right gropes at a leather jacket hanging from a peg. He’s on his knees, hungrily gobbling the dick he’d been teasing for a hundred and ten blocks; one of his hands encloses my nuts in his grasp.

For five minutes while he greedily sucks me, we don’t make it more than a yard past his apartment door. Without announcement, though, he lunges to his feet. With my dick in his hand like a dog’s leash, he pushes off one of his kicks with his toes, then the other. He leads me down the hallway, padding in black-socked feet and me shuffling behind, past a tiny living area and an even tinier kitchen toward a room in the back. Only when we’ve reached the room with a mattress on the floor does he let go of my dick—but his fingers still tickle the underside, beckoning me to the makeshift bed on the floor. There’s a stack of boxes by the head that’s acting as a kind of nightstand, and a full-length mirror on a stand in one corner. I manage to wrestle my feet out of their shoes and the tangle of pants simultaneously; my hoodie comes off. He pulls off my t-shirt himself, then steps back. Off comes the Nasty Pig cap, tossed on the floor without ceremony. He skims off his own top using that crossed-hand move guys use to strip in movies, that I never can quite manage to grasp. Then his sweatpants drop. He stares at me the whole time.

The dude’s got a beautiful body. He’s a little bull, solid and shapely. A Nasty Pig dream model. He grabs a bottle of poppers from his makeshift nightstand, shakes it. Then he twists off the cap and inhales deeply. One nostril. Then the other. He offers me the bottle, but I shake my head.

Then he’s down on the dirty mattress. This little Latin piece of ass is on all fours for a stranger his dad’s age, his butt up in the air, his feet spread, his head down. He needs me inside him. It’d be cruel to deny the kid. Right?

Charitable humanitarian that I am, I kneel down behind the boy. My cock’s head nudges against his surprisingly furry little hole. He moans a little bit, and pushes back against me. Still greedy. I savor his need while I take my time spitting into my hand and getting my dick slick. Only once my shaft is glistening to I start to push in.

I intend to go slowly, but Nasty Pig doesn’t have the patience. He thrusts his hips back, engulfing my meat in a single push. Almost immediately he regrets it. I don’t know if he’s unused to dicks my size, or whether he’s just imitating porn to turn me on, but his face contorts. He bucks and yells at the sensations. His hand halts my hips, trying to stop me from thrusting just yet. Still hissing and breathing heavily, his face gradually goes back to normal. I take that as my cue.

With my hands parting the meaty globes of his butt, I slide my inches in and out. He nods, then grunts, then starts making noises of approval. Neither of us have spoken a word so far—why break the ice now? I press down on the small of his back with my hand’s heel, bring up one knees so that I can get some more momentum going. He grabs for the poppers again as I plow deep.

I’m not going to last long, I know; I’ve got a three-day load in my nuts and I know exactly where it’s going to end up. Nasty Pig is clutching his pillow now, high from the vapors and accepting the rough fuck as if he knows he deserves it. One of his hands covers mine. Our fingers intertwine as we both pull wide his butt cheek.

I need more traction. My dick makes an audible squelch as I pull out of his raw hole and coerce the boy to his feet. He braces himself against the wall as I shove myself back in. Partly I’m doing this for him; I know he’s getting off on the sight of us in that full-length mirror of his. Mostly, though, I’m doing it for me. Standing up, I can admire the sight of my slick shaft as it slides into his guts. Standing up, I can hold him by the hips and fuck him like the nasty little bitch he clearly wants to be. His back arches; his fat uncut dick is short enough that it can slap against his belly to match the sound of my thrusts.

When I shoot, it’s loud. I bark out my pleasure and the concussion reverberates around the room. His eyes open; he watches the reflection of my hips jutting forward as my cock buries itself as deep inside his hole as it can go. Those dark eyes flash; there’s a serious look on his face as I shoot my sperm inside. A serious look for serious business, it seems. I’m still inside his hole, recuperating, when he starts whacking that fat pinga of his. A few strokes, a grunt, and his seed spatters out. There’s a bucket of it, splattering on the bedclothes, the wall, the floor. A moment of silence and stillness. Then he shifts forward. My dick slops out. More seed falls onto the bedclothes. This time it’s mine.

The baseball cap is the first thing he dons. He sits down on his mattress wearing nothing but the hat and his black sock, legs spread, dick flopping down low between his legs. I start to grab my clothes. I dress while he checks his messages. He’s still silently poking at the glass of his phone as I don my shoes and hoodie. I know my cue to exit.

We still haven’t spoken a word. I raise my hand in farewell.

He’s up on his feet, suddenly. Unexpectedly, he pulls down my head to his own. Our lips lock in a kiss. His mouth still tastes of my precum. I feel his wet dick against my wrist.

I’m on the street a moment later. After the closeness of the apartment, the night air is cool on my sweaty face. I can pick up my commuter train from the Harlem stop as if nothing at all brought me so far out of my way—though I know that getting on at Harlem, I’m unlikely to find a seat.

Actually, it’s the first time I’m thinking that a crowded train isn’t so bad an experience after all.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Butterflies and Boners

1.

I’m standing in the lobby of an NYU basement theater. A show’s just let out. Men and women are buzzing in small groups, comparing notes about what they’ve just seen, then dissipating upstairs toward the exit in singles and pairs. I’m alone for the moment. My other half has joined a long line for the powder room, leaving me leaning against a pillar to study the crowd.

I don’t have long to wait before I spy them. Twenty, twenty-five feet away, two men walking side by side as they leave the show. The younger one smiles into the eyes of his boyfriend, listening to something he’s got to say. Neither glances in my direction as they pass. Toward the stairs to the street they stride, perfectly in sync, right foot to right foot, left to left, as they softly converse.

I’m aware I’m staring. I can’t stop.

Just turn your head, I tell myself. Look anywhere else. Close your eyes.

Unable to heed my own advice, I stare without blinking as they climb to the first landing. The younger man still doesn’t look around—yet when he raises his hand and places it on his lover’s back, I feel as if he does so knowing I’m watching. Their display of intimacy has nothing to do with me. I know that. The deliberateness of younger man’s gesture, though, makes me react with a sharp intake of breath, as if I’ve been slapped.

Past my half-century mark, sometimes happiness seems rationed. The moments are doled out in microdoses, in the tickle of joy from music I love, in the glow of conversation with someone I admire, in the sharp anticipatory pang before a good meal. Even these pleasures seem well-trodden, though. Habitual. Familiar.

But oh, life manages to find endless fresh ways to make me hurt. It’s always discovering tender, unscarred flesh where its talons might dig. As I watch these two ascend the stairs, the younger man’s palm glued to the base of his boyfriend’s spine, how I ache—and how the unexpected agony rakes through every fiber in ways I’ve never before felt. Tears prickle behind my eyes. I feel flayed and raw from the pain.

Turn your head, I chide myself, as tenderly as possible. You don’t have to watch.

Again, my face lifeless and dead, I ignore my own good counsel.

Then, a voice. “Honey. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” A moment passes before I blink and register that someone’s speaking to me. It’s one of the several drag queens mingling with the exiting crowd—the one I’d spoken with earlier who thought I looked like Randy Travis. This queen towers over me by an entire head, and I’m six-three; even without her outlandish stilettos, she must clock in at a good six-seven or six-eight. She’s carrying a basket of little gift-bags of skin-care products wrapped in pink and blue cellophane. My attention flicks away from the couple on the stairs to her concerned gaze. “Are you okay . . . Randy?”

The fact that she remembers our previous conversation brings a little smile to my face, involuntary as it might be. “I’m okay,” I tell her. “Thanks.”

But my eyes can’t help wandering back to the two men, who now have reached their summit. The queen turns her coiffed head; together we watch the pair walk toward the June night outside. Soon they’ll disappear, feet by knees by thighs by hips, over the horizon created by the top step.

I’m not even aware that I’m sighing until it’s already happened.

The impossibly tall vision in the black sequined gown puts a hand on my shoulder. “Boy problems, huh?”

My mouth pulls into a wry expression. She nods in sympathy.


2.

Peter first hit me up on Manhunt five years ago. He was a high school senior a month shy of graduation, a kid in the peak throes of adolescent sexual discovery. He’d used the site a few times for unsatisfactory hookups with older men in the rear seats of their cars, or for fumbling blow jobs in the woods, but he needed more. Even if he couldn’t fully articulate his desires then, I knew from my own experiences what he wanted. He wanted to be used and loved and consumed and appreciated, all at once. He wanted someone with confidence enough to follow through, and experience enough to tailor an encounter into something special, instead of regrettable. Peter was a puppy, game for anything, eager to be taught. I was the old dog he fixed on as an ideal teacher.

I reciprocated his desire . . . and then some. It didn’t hurt that Peter was among the dreamiest young men I’d encountered online. When we first started chatting, his face was baby-smooth, his hair sandy and impossibly tousled. He sent me videos he’d made, just for me, of himself jerking off. My dick would strain and yearn as I stared at his fist clenching, vise-like, around his thick shaft. His flat stomach would ripple and heave as he beat. Then he’d shoot rope after thick rope that would land on the light fur sprinkled on his pale chest.

Much as I loved the videos, I looked forward even more to the selfies Peter would share. Peter had a pair of enormous, liquid basset-hound eyes that melted me every time I saw them. They seemed like kind eyes, the eyes of a thoughtful young man; I imagined I could look into those eyes and fathom exactly what he wanted. I wanted nothing more than to make Peter happy. To give him what he wanted, with a paternal affection that was, on my end, sincere. We chatted about seemingly everything, from school to family to video games to sex. I relished our wide-ranging conversations.

But I lived at one end of my little state, and Peter at the other; although I tried a couple of times over the months to arrange something before he left for college in the autumn, we couldn’t seem to make our schedules align.

Summer arrived. I sent Peter a text asking how he was enjoying his time off before university. I never received a reply.

These things happen, I told myself philosophically. If our connection had been meant to happen . . . it would have happened. I thought of Peter more than occasionally, wondering how it would have played out, had our paths crossed. Would he have been the next Scruffy in my life? The next Spencer? Both were young men who’d responded to the energy I’d brought to the bedroom. There was something about Peter, about the sweet way he communicated, about the way he seemed to hunger for me, that reminded me of them.

Maybe, though, I’m projecting. I don’t really know what Peter desired, back then. Perhaps I idealized him merely because I wanted to be hungered for by a beautiful boy. I needed someone covered in sweat and semen to look at me with dazed love in his eyes, the way Scruffy had. I longed for someone to take care of and protect, as I had with Spencer. It’s not beyond possibility that I’d taken all those abstract yearnings and imprinted them onto the first boy I encountered with a pair of soulful eyes.


3.

It was a year later before my path once more crossed with Peter’s. He texted me to say he was still in college; he’d joined an a cappella group. He had a thirty-six-year-old boyfriend. The most perfect relationship, he called it. Totally monogamous. Hearing the news caused a pang. It hurts, knowing someone you’ve wanted is off the market. In his next breath, though, Peter told me he still thought about me. Three messages later, he was sending me more movies in which he pleasured himself.

Once again, I was breathless at the sight and fantasy of the boy. During that year of his silence I’d convinced myself our relationship would remain unconsummated. Yet here he was, showing himself off to me, telling me how badly he wanted my cock in his throat. Despite the so-called perfect relationship, it seemed to be me that Peter really wanted. I was flattered.

Without much effort on his part, Peter had rekindled my desire for him. But a month later he was off again to study abroad.

I’d damped down those fires before. I could do it again. What choice did I have?

A year and a half of silence. Then, out of the blue one day, I received a message on BBRT. I didn’t recognize the profile name. The boy writing said that he’d been reading my blog, and decided to check me out on the site because he admired my writing so much. He wasn’t quite sure, and if he was wrong, he apologized, but was it possible that I might be the same handsome man he used to talk to when he was younger?

It was with a weightless feeling of suspense that I clicked on his profile. It was Peter again. Of course. Peter, admiring my photos on a bareback site. Peter, telling me that he hoped the famous sex blogger was the same as the man he’d always desired inside him. I told him that yes indeed, he was talking to the same man. Once again gave him my phone number.

Peter’s previous relationship had ended as disastrously as possible, he told me. Now he had another boyfriend—older— and they were exclusive. But, he told me, if it were ever to open up, he wanted to explore every inch of my body with his hands and mouth. He had fond memories of our chats, he said, and such lust for me. . . .

I must be a foolish man, I think, so easily to swallow the candied words a pretty boy feeds me. Yet over the next two weeks I fell back into the old pattern I'd always shared with Peter. I trod the same steps in which he’d led me before. I voiced my desire for him. I let him flatter me over the blog, and the way my words made him feel. I sighed with desire when he texted his latest videos and photos, and listened as he would speak glowingly about his latest perfect relationship with his new older boyfriend. Then, with his next breath, Peter would confide he wished he was curled up naked next to me, with no space at all between my groin and his ass.

Could we meet again for coffee or a meal? Perhaps reconnect and get to know each other again? When was I free? He would do anything to reestablish our relationship in a casual way—though it would be so hot to get sexual with me. On the turn of a dime, Peter would pivot from reminding me that he was exclusive with his boyfriend, to wishing I would just shove three fingers up his ass, then paint his guts with my monster dick. He wanted me fisting him. Fucking him. Breeding him. Every time my phone buzzed during those weeks and I’d see Peter’s name at the top of my screen, I’d end up with a wet spot in my trunks.

Then, without warning, he stopped answering my texts. Another year would pass before I heard from him.


4.

I’d fallen into a comfortable pattern with Peter over the years. He’d resurface, express his desire for me, entice me to open up both my heart and my zipper . . . and then vanish for months or years. I told myself I didn’t mind. I reckoned our union would take place when it was meant to take place. His reappearances made me happy during a few years when happiness was difficult to find. I didn’t try to coerce him into meeting, though I hoped it would happen. Forcing something fragile or elusive ruins its sweet simplicity. One doesn’t grab at a soap bubble to possess it, after all.

With each hiatus, I would be mildly disappointed—but not so devastated that I wanted to discontinue the friendship. I convinced myself life with a Peter in it, no matter how remote he may be, was better than a life without. When Peter would resurface, I’d relish our chatty text exchanges. I’d whimper helplessly at the new photos he’d send. For weeks at a time he’d be the rudder to my libido, giving it direction, drive, force. Then when he’d disappear, I’d remind myself that we’d reconnect. Eventually. Sometime.

The last sometime was in winter of this year, after a year and a half of silence. Toward the end of a rare bachelor week for me, I was sitting for lunch in a pizza joint, waiting for my pie and browsing Instagram. I saw that Peter had sent me a message on the app. After I reminded him of my phone number for the—what? fourth? fifth?—time in as many years, we resumed texting. He was back in New York for graduate school, he told me. He was still in a relationship with the same older man he’d been seeing the last time we talked. But now their relationship wasn’t exclusive, and Peter was now on PrEP. More to the point, Peter was alone that afternoon until six. Wouldn’t I like to come down to the East Village and fuck him senseless? Please?

I considered bolting from my seat right then and there. The invitation wasn’t practical, though. Even if I were to inhale the lunch for which I was still waiting (a scenario not entirely implausible, as anyone would tell you who’s actually seen me attack a pizza) it would still have taken me a minimum of a half hour to get home and changed. A commute into the city and a subway jaunt down the Lexington Avenue line, followed by the briskest of walks to Peter’s address would have carved away a couple of hours more . . . leaving how much time for us to play? An hour? An hour wasn’t much time at all.

He understood. I told him the times of day I was likely to be available during the upcoming two weeks. He informed me that his current job was ending soon and that as of the Monday after next, he’d be one hundred percent available to accommodate me during the daytime.

I happened to have a meeting in the Village that very same Monday, so we made a date to meet.

Finally, after so many years, I had a solid, confirmed date with the boy I’d been chasing. The notion that after long waiting I’d be solidifying our long relationship sustained me during those two long weeks. In the interim, Peter and I kept in touch almost daily. I listened with pangs of actual jealousy as he outlined his sexual adventures under the new open relationship he was enjoying with his boyfriend. He was giddy with excitement as he told me about making out with his current (and soon-to-be ex-) boss. I heard all the gory details about a three-way which he’d planned. I held back my feelings of envy when he texted me about a sex party he was planning to attend with the boyfriend, and silenced my grim satisfaction when the boyfriend’s work schedule forced them to cancel. Any pangs I felt, though, were dulled by the prospect of my own gratification, come that Monday.

I didn’t hear anything from Peter the entire weekend before we were supposed to meet. Vaguely wary, and smelling that something was up, I texted him Sunday night to ask if we were getting together the next day.

I figured we were still on! I want you deep in me, I want your seed deep in me, I want to finally explore what we've been talking about for so long, he texted. But there was an issue he hadn’t addressed with me. Though he was free to take cock, his arrangement with his boyfriend specified that any sex he had with other men had to be with condoms only. He was willing to break that rule with me and not tell his boyfriend, but he was worried he’d feel guilty afterward.

I’m so protective of you that the prospect of doing anything that will make you feel badly, or affect you adversely...well, I’d rather sacrifice my own wishes to avoid that, I texted. If you’d still like to hang out tomorrow and cuddle and kiss and talk it out, I’d be fine with that.

He wrote, Come over. We could find a cafe around here, or you could come over and we could chat and cuddle and kiss. I'd like that a lot. Though I'm also sure my clothes won't last long on me if you do come over….

I knew they wouldn’t.

I was being a true gentleman. It’s the way I was raised. Just as I’d convinced myself that any amount of Peter in my life was better than no Peter, I figured cuddling with Peter would be better than my usual pre-meeting lonely ritual of aimless wandering and a solitary dinner. But after all of Peter’s sex parties and makeout sessions with his boss, I worried I was just a number in some sexual rampage brought about by his newfound open relationship. I decided to be blunt about how fragile my feelings were: The prospect of meeting you, even just to do PG-13 things, is very special for me. I’m not usually a blatant seeker of validation, but I just kind of hope the encounter might be special for you as well, at least a little bit. Fuck. I sound like an idiot.

My heart beat a little faster at his reply. I don't think I've waited so long to meet anyone, and you've always been careful and mentoring toward me. I appreciate you and the care you've shown. It will be a special moment, absolutely.

I went to bed that night a happy man.

The next morning Peter sent me a text. He was hoping I wouldn’t resent him for the news he was about to drop, but his boyfriend was taking a half-day off work. Peter couldn’t host me after all.

Naturally, I was crestfallen. I’d generated so much anticipation over the preceding two weeks; to have it all taken away a mere two hours before we were supposed to get together seemed cruel. I'm not in the least resentful, I told him. Disappointed, sure, but it's better to know now. My optimism is undimmed!

Us meeting is special. I've been looking forward to it, he wrote back. Even in the anxious and mixed signals moments, there were both butterflies and boners. And still are!

I smiled at Peter’s text. Butterflies and boners seemed to sum up my feelings, too. For our meeting I’d been planning to head into the city at lunchtime. With the change in schedule, I postponed my commute until mid-afternoon.

At midday he texted again. The boyfriend couldn’t get the afternoon off. The apartment was free. Peter would love to see me if I could make it!

Rapidly, I recalculated my plans. Sure, I told him. I could be there at two-thirty. The butterflies and boners reappeared. I hopped into the shower and made sure everything was extra-clean.

When I got out of the shower, I found another text waiting for me. While I'd bathed, Peter’s brother had magically appeared in town, he told me. He knew he was being a bad friend and a bad eventual lover . . . but he really should be prioritizing family. Would I be horribly upset if Peter spent the afternoon with the brother he hadn’t seen in months?

I didn’t even have to think twice. I considered Peter a friend. Real friends looked out for each other. Of course he should spend time with his brother, I told him. He shouldn’t even consider meeting me.
I accept responsibility if this damages anything between us, he replied.

Sure. I was disappointed. The last few hours had been nothing but ups and downs and reversals. But surely this was the last of the bumps in the road in our reunion, right? You gave me plenty of notice and you keep communication at the forefront, I reassured him. I absolve you of any guilt.

I went about my business that afternoon as usual. Ate my solitary dinner, went to my meeting, took the train home. I thought about texting you while I was in the city, I told Peter later that night. But I didn’t want you feeling badly.

You’re welcome to text me anytime, he said. Goodnight.

I went to bed at the end of that long day feeling nothing but fondness for the kid. I took him at his word and reached out the next day, to see how he was doing. No reply.

A few days later, I wished him a happy weekend. No reply.

Ten days dragged by. Nothing. Not a day passed that I wondered if this might be when Peter got back to me. He wasn’t working, after all. We’d been texting casually back and forth every day before that abortive Monday.

Every other time Peter had vanished from my life, this is how it had started. For the first time in five years with the kid, I felt as if I’d been made a fool.

Sending any more unreciprocated texts would at this point make me feel creepy, I finally wrote him. I hope you’re well and remain so. And I hope our paths will cross again sometime.

Nothing.

This silence was different from all the other hiatuses Peter had taken. This silence felt personal. Every day that I checked my phone to find no texts from him, every day I looked at Instagram to see if he’d posted another selfie with other friends—his real friends—I felt more and more slighted. The experience reminded me of the day in second grade that my teachers and parents decided that I’d been peering at the chalkboard in a funny way, and taken me to an optometrist. When the lenses came down in front of my eyes, my fuzzy view of the world swung into sharp relief. I could see edges and shadows I hadn’t before. For unfocused years I’d believed that a little Peter in my life was better than no Peter at all. Now I had to question that assumption. Seeing things more clearly caused me pain.

I told a friend about it. “It’s the boyfriend,” he said as surely as if he’d been a fly on the wall in their East Village apartment. “Fuck yeah, this whole thing’s about the boyfriend. He probably found out something and didn’t like it. The boyfriend’s got all the money, right? The kid lives with him? So if he does something wrong, where’s he end up? Back at mommy and daddy’s? On the street? He doesn’t want that. The kid’s got a good thing going. The boyfriend’s probably even paying his tuition. So he’s got to toe the line now. I bet you.”

There was logic in that remark. Logic couldn’t cut through the melancholy I felt, though. Life had found new ways to wound me, yet again.

I wasn’t depressed because I didn’t get to fuck a hot boy. I’m not that shallow. I wasn’t upset because some adolescent infatuation for Peter had been thwarted either by the boyfriend or by Peter’s own disinterest. I mourned because for years I’d blindly assumed that Peter and I had some kind of bond—affection or desire. Friendship at the very least. Every time I’d welcomed him back into my life, every piece of advice I’d given the kid, every time I sacrificed lust for him for the higher goal of keeping our relationship positive . . . what was the point, exactly, of being a good guy for five years when it was obvious Peter didn’t give a shit?

His ignoring me was a deliberate affront. Every day my resentment grew. When I’d check Peter’s Instagram for new posts (which I did more often than I care to admit), it felt like poking a particularly nasty bruise just to see if it still hurts. Of course it fucking hurts. It’s a bruise. Of course poking makes me grimace, even when I did it knowing the outcome.

I unfollowed him on Instagram, just to remove the temptation.

An entire month passed. Then one afternoon, he texted. Hi, he said. I’m home and looking through my phone, and I saw that I never responded to this. I am in a monogamous relationship now. Some things went down and we are taking time to reset/prioritize/figure things out.

It was indeed the boyfriend, I thought to myself. My friend had nailed it.

While part of me was glad to have my suspicions confirmed, I was still angry. Shit happens at home. Relationships can be rough. Trust me, I know. But when it does, it’s not that tough to tell someone, Hey, I’m sorry I might go silent for a while, but I need to focus on my partner right now, or something like I hope you won’t get upset if I’m quiet for a couple of weeks. You do it before a month goes by. On that back-and-forth Monday I’d told the boy how good he was at giving me notice and communicating . . . but honestly, he’d never been good at it. I’d overpraised him the one time he’d actually done it.

Peter’s pattern was to drift out of my life for years, then suddenly appear with fanfare. He’d announce he was unavailable, then immediately share just enough photos and erotic talk to keep me happily on his hook. Then he’d vanish again. Time after time I’d danced in his little pas de deux. I’d memorized my steps so well that all he’d have to do is start up that sweet siren music, and I’d take his hand and tiptoe happily into place. Was it worth it, that rush of sexual validation at my expense? Was I even the only man he’d treated this way?

I’d had enough.

It took a while to formulate a polite reply. I hope you guys work it out, Peter, I responded, truthfully. I’ve been having difficulty framing a response to your reappearance. Thank you, I guess, for eventually letting me know what’s going on. I didn’t at all feel slighted on the Monday you kept going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth about meeting me. When you ghosted me for a month immediately after, though, I retroactively felt—and still feel—like I’d been jerked around. Nothing in my behavior merited that treatment.

I read it over several times. I tapped send.

And of course—nothing. No reply. No apology. Honestly, I didn’t at all expect anything.


5.

Ever since that Monday when we didn’t connect, I’ve had to tread carefully when I head into the city for my meetings. I stay off East 14th as much as I can when I need to be in Peter’s neighborhood. Automatically I’ll head down Broadway and take side streets to reconnect to my destination. The route might take me a few blocks out of my way, but I’d rather get the extra exercise than risk running into Peter as he made a Trader Joe’s or bank run. Since getting out my feelings in that last text, six weeks ago, I’ve not spent much time moping. Having my say seems to have to given me the closure I needed. I’m careful where I tread—but I think I’m over the kid.

So here it is, another Monday night, though in June. I’ve spent an day off in the city with my other half on a date of sorts—some shopping, a fun dinner, then this show in a rented NYU underground theater. We’ve a friend performing tonight, third-row seats, and I’ve got my camera ready to go.

The show’s a drag pageant. Along a banquet table are a row of cardboard boxes covered in construction paper, each affixed with an 8x10 glossy photo of a drag queen. They’ve all got outrageous names, naturally. A number of queens not participating in the pageant are roaming the lobby as we wait for the house doors to open; they’re selling arm’s-lengths of tickets for ten dollars, for use in the final voting. All the money’s going to charity.

I buy my tickets from an ebony-skinned queen who towers above me. She’s a magnificent sight, squeezed into her black sequined sheath and a pair of painful-looking stilettos. Her wingspan is as wide as she’s tall, so an arm’s-length of tickets from her is basically a good foot-and-a-half more than from anyone else. She’s tearing off the tickets when she settles on one hip and dabs a finger in my direction. “Do I know you?” she asks.

Oh god, I think. I’ve fucked this drag queen.

Ordinarily the conclusion to which I’d jumped would be highly probable, but I’m wrong. The queen puts a gloved finger to her lips. “Are you famous?”

Oh god, I think. She reads my blog.

I’m wrong again. “You look like someone famous. Travis? Someone named Travis? Randy Travis?”

“Randy Travis?” I ask, involuntarily pulling a face. “Seriously?”

“What, you don’t like Randy Travis?”

I’m laughing now, and pulling out my phone. “Randy Travis looks like. . . .” I stab out his name on the keyboard “Randy Travis looks like that.” We both stare at the singer’s photo I’ve brought up on Google, then meet each other's eyes. We break out into simultaneous laughter.

“You do not look like Randy Travis,” she finally agrees. “What’s your name, sugar?”

“Randy,” I retort. We laugh again, and she stalks away on her stilettos to sell more tickets.

I’ve still got a big grin on my face when I turn and see someone approaching.

It’s Peter. The air seems suddenly charged with electricity.

Uncertainty is written plain on his face. Even his step is tentative, as if he’s on a yoyo string and might find himself yanked backward at any moment. “Hi,” he says when he reaches me, along with my name.

“Peter,” I say. I’m still stunned. The worst has happened. Life has lured me into an orchard of fresh humiliations, where the lemons there hang heavy and low and ripe for the picking. Their citrus seems to burn into invisible wounds across my skin. Peter’s here. He’s real. He’s looking at me with those enormous dark eyes as if unsure of what to say or do.

So I open my arms and embrace him. It’s not the embrace of two souls united at last, or even the affirming hug of two friends seeing the other after a long time. It’s more the non-committal clutch of acquaintances, as it should be.

“I’m surprised to see you here,” he says.

“Peter.” I cut in before be can proceed. “This is my other half.” I make an introduction.

“Oh,” is his startled response. “My . . . my boyfriend is over there,” he says, gesturing across the lobby. I look, and recognize the face I’d seen before in Peter’s Instagram feed.

Though I’d been taken aback at his unexpected appearance, I’ve now recovered my composure. I ask Peter questions. Has he been to this event before? Did he know anyone performing? Did he have any favorites? I’m polite, but it’s a bare minimum of courtesy. I’m really asking questions in order not to have to say anything.

“Have a good time, Peter,” I say when I’m done. He looks at me again, not saying whatever it is that he really wants to say. Then he turns those big dark eyes away and stumbles back to his boyfriend.
Inside, I’m trembling when he leaves.

The next day I’m not surprised when Peter sends me the last text I’ve ever received from him. Would you like to try to re-establish contact?

I have to think long and hard of how to temper my response before I reply. I’ve wrestled with this question since you sent it, Peter. I once assumed we were friends, but you’ve not really treated me in a way that speaks of friendship. Perhaps the question is more one you should ask yourself.

I’ve not heard anything since.

As I expected.


6.

“Boy problems, huh?”

People are still streaming out of the theater, invigorated by two hours of high-energy performances. The statuesque black queen stands by my side, watching me stare after Peter and his boyfriend as they ascend the stairs and reach the top step. I nod, frozen to the spot.

“Which one?” she asks. “In the plaid?”

Peter is indeed wearing a white shirt with a light plaid. My nod must be barely visible; I can’t even feel my muscles working. Why am I so sad, I wonder? I haven’t lost anything that was ever really mine.

The boyfriend pauses to look at something in the pageant program. Peter leans over to point; the flat of his other hand rubs up and down the boyfriend’s spine. It strikes me as a possessive move. Ostentatious. As if he knows I’m watching, and wants me to see. Then they resume walking, and vanish over the horizon.

The lightest of touches on my arm brings me back to reality. “Randy. I don't know you.” The queen has cocked her head to look into my eyes. “But do you want to know what Oprah and Maya Angelou taught me?”

I have no idea Makeup? Pilates? Instead, I weakly shake my head and say nothing.

“When people show you who they are, believe them.”

I blink as once again my everything shifts into new clarity. The hiatuses. The yanks on my leash—my dismissals to my kennel. How like a pet I was to Peter—and how stupidly happy I was to chase after any ball he threw for me to fetch. For five years, Peter again and again had shown me who he was. This old dog was too stupid to recognize what was right before his nose all along.

I repeat the words slowly. “When people show you who they are. . . .”

Believe them.” She shakes my wrist. “Now take a gift bag, child. No, take two. I gotta get rid of these things.”

She wafts away in a cloud of perfume and sequins, leaving me with clear vision for the road home.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Close Encounter in Room 155

You know how some guys know how to take a sexy photo? This redhead was one of them.

When I’d arrived only a few days ago at this hotel in the neighborhood of the youth, it had been packed. Groups book it for the weekend, my dad told me; other people visiting the city see it just off I-95 and use it as a weekend stop. I mean, my Grindr had been buzzing constantly the first two days of my visit, from guys less than two dozen feet away. By midweek, though, the place is deserted. Sunday night, every parking space had been occupied. Now the only car in the rear lot is mine. Grindr notifications from men less than a hundred feet away have disappeared.

It’s the last night of my visit with my dad. I’ll have breakfast with him in the morning before I drive back home, but for now I’m back in Room 155, hitting the internet for some sex. I’ve got a couple of nibbles on Grindr, a couple more on Scruff. But no one really piques my interest until this redheaded guy on BBRT hits me up. I’ll worship that magnificent dick and let you fuck me for hours, he tells me as he unlocks his photos. I check them out. They’re great shots, artfully done. Nice physique, I notice, as I run my eyes over the photos of him flexing. His face is shown only in profile, but with that full red beard jutting out at an oblique angle from his chest, he seems attractive enough.

My big dick likes worship, I tell him.

The bigger the better! he writes back. Yours is a monster!

You able to travel? I ask. How long will it take you to get here?

He tells me he’ll be here in ten minutes. I give him the name of my hotel and the room number and run to the bathroom for a quick rinse. I pull on a tee and a pair of shorts. While I’m waiting, I decide to check out the guy’s photos again. Like I said, he knew how to take a sexy shot. The pics are obviously posed and not in the least casual, but they’re showing off his fur and muscles to his best advantage. I’m definitely looking forward to fucking this one.

I’m rubbing myself through my shorts and reading over his profile when a message pops up on BBRT. It’s the redhead. There’s no room 155 here, he says.

What did he mean, there’s no room 155? I was in room 155. I’d been in room 155 all week. I’d had other guys show up at the door with the 155 on it and knock. Are you at the right hotel?

He doesn’t answer. The mobile version of the BBRT site has a geolocation function, so I check out the men nearest me. He’s only 110 feet away. So yeah, he’s at the correct hotel. I’m in Building 2, off the back parking lot, I tell him. There’s a big sign on it that says ‘Building 2.’ If you’re at Building 1 or Building 3, you’re in the wrong building. Clear enough, right?

There’s no room 155, he writes back.

By now I’m baffled. My confused brain is entertaining possibilities that it shouldn’t. Like, did the hotel staff come around and change all the room numbers while I was out with my dad that day? Had I been staying in room 135 all along? I get up, toss on some sandals, and open my door.
155. Just like I thought.

I’m coming to stand outside Building 2, I say, as I pat my pocket to make sure I have my key card. Look for me.

When I reach the end of the hall and step outside into the cool night air, I can see that my car is still the only one in the parking lot. The guy’s probably at one of the other two buildings on the hotel property. It’s not that large a hotel, though; it never was. All I have to do is turn my head one way to see that Building 1 to the south, and Building 3 to the west. The courtyard where I’m standing is in the dead center. No matter where he might be, he should be able to see me eventually. Right?

I’m outside room 155 but you’re not answering, he’s messaged, when I look at the site again.

What the fucking fuck? He can’t be outside my room. I would’ve seen him go in. In fact, I look through the glass door and down my hallway. There’s no one there. Sighing, I head back inside. Nope. He’s definitely not there. For some reason—just because I’m half-convinced that this point that I might be going crazy—I open my door with the key card and poke my head in. Not there either.
You’re not at room 155, I tell him. I’m here.

I’m knocking at the door, he replies within moments.

While I walk back to the courtyard outside, once again I ask him if he’s at the hotel I’d given him. Room 155 is in Building 2, I repeat. There’s only one room 155. You’re not outside it.

I’m knocking at the door and you’re not answering, he says yet again.

The fact that he could be gaslighting me crosses my mind. Yet the BBRT geolocation thing says he’s only 60 feet away. I honestly don’t know what to tell the guy. If a dude is utterly incapable of finding a fucking room in a fucking hotel when I’ve given him every helpful fucking instruction that I could . . . well, I don’t know what else to do. I’m not really into sticking my dick into total morons. Feeling like I should be shutting off my phone and just going to bed, I stomp back to my room (which still is plainly labeled 155) and slam shut the door. Then I kick off my sandals and flounce down on the bed, my brain busily composing multiple messages telling this asshole exactly how to fuck off and go the hell home.

Then there’s a knock at the door.

Fuck.

I’m still simmering with anger when I yank at the knob. “I guess I had the wrong room,” is all he says by way of apology.

“You think?” I say, trying to keep my hostility tamped down. But I don’t stop him from entering.

It’s not until he’s in the little vestibule, with the light from the bathroom on him as he began to strip off his clothing, that I really notice what he looks like. This little redhead has all the components of the guy in his photos, but it’s as if they’ve all been tossed in a box and reassembled in a decidedly unflattering way. Sure, he had the bushy beard, but it looks more like a unkempt mess, scraggly and wan, than the proud bush of his photos. Yeah, he was a ginger. But his hair wasn’t the sexy, vigorous red it had been in his pics. More like weak carrot juice, really.

His muscles—well, he didn’t have any. His chest was furry, yes. I imagine how, if he posed in a certain way that pushed out the flesh, and how, if he cropped his photos artfully (which he had), he might look from certain angles as if he were well-built. I could see how, if he bent a certain way and wore clothing that obstructed parts, he might give the illusion that he had an ass. And though his profile from the side was handsome enough to appear in all his photos, when looked at from the front, the guy’s face made me want to flinch. If Jesse Tyler Ferguson were to have a scrawny, ugly little buck-toothed brother that he had to hide for extended periods in a basement room whenever People or Us Magazine dropped by for interviews . . . well, this guy is what he’d look like.

You know how some guys know how to take a sexy photo? Occasionally it’s because they’re so far from sexy that they learn to feign it.

Oh god. He’s stripped to his underwear. After all those back-and-forth messages and the anger and the Yakety Sax-scored antic chase around the hotel, I was going to have to through with this fucking encounter. God damn it.

Fine. Whatever. It wouldn’t be my first time to close my eyes and think of England. Since he’s already dropping his drawers, I hook my thumbs beneath the elastic of my waistband and yank down my shorts. My dick flops out. It’s only half-hard at this point—and I know, why even that erect when I’ve just been through ten minutes of sex farce staging?—but still, at half-mast my dick is pretty imposing. I’d like to say that the redhead’s eyes bug out when he saw it, but quite frankly, he already has bug eyes. They just bug out even more, and it’s not exactly a pretty sight.

“That’s fucking huge,” he says.

Tell me something I don’t know, googly-eyes, I want to tell him. Instead, I order, “Turn around.”

He obeys. “How big is that cock?”

“Eight inches.”

“It looks way bigger than eight.”

My dick responds by swelling and jumping. Fucking traitor, I thought in its direction. I rubbed the guy’s flat ass and tried maneuvering him so that butterface of his was pointed away from me.
Scarcely have my fingertip rubbed the guy’s hole than he yelps as if I’ve bitten him. Startled, I straighten up. The dude is pulling on his briefs. Groping for his polo shirt. “What’s up?” I ask.

“You’re too big,” he tells me, scrambling in his clothes as fast as he can. “Your profile says once you’re in, you don’t pull out. That thing is going to wreck me.”

I realize that I’m a split second away from actually protesting his departure. Then I swallow my words and rally. That’s right!” I say, realizing that he’s solving my problem for me. “I’d ruin it for life!”

“Fuck, I’m tempted,” he says, staring at it. For a moment I’m worried he might change his mind. But no, he pulls on his sneakers, thank god. “Nope. Too big. Sorry. Can’t risk it. Bye.”

No worshiping of my dick. No fucking for minutes, much less hours. Just a rush of air and dust and a quick slam of the door. Like the Roadrunner escaping from Wile E. Coyote, he’s gone.

It’s not the best way to close out my time in room 155, true. But better a night jacking off in solitude, than a duty fuck with the one Weasley brother that Ron was too embarrassed to introduce to Harry and Hermione.