The first time I saw him, he was attractive. Desirable. Hot, even.
The last time I heard about him, this previous week, he was in a fucking mess. At first I heard he was being investigated for murder, and then accidental death. One source said that he'd attempted to kill himself. The newspapers tried to play up the more sensational aspects of what happened. Wild gay sex and crystal meth party, some of them called it—though from what I could tell, it was a simple one-on-one, or possibly a three-way, gone wrong. It's a damned mess, and I pity the guy and his part in whatever happened.
But like I said, he was hot the first time we met. It would've been back in the very late nineteen-nineties, or possibly the year two thousand. I was shopping the local upscale mall with a friend and stopped into the upstairs restroom—which was wildly cruisy from the day it opened to the day I moved. He was in one of the stalls, stroking his dick and looking from action. I don't remember exactly how it went down, but within five minutes he showed me a trick that I employed for several years following, when he led me off to the Nieman-Marcus at the mall's east end and took me to the second floor washrooms, where the men's room stalls were miniature rooms with a locking regular door. I fucked his face and his hole in there, and emerged a few minutes later to find my friend still waiting (and rolling his eyes).
But I had a phone number, and a new buddy.
I saw the guy a few times at his place, after that. We'd fuck under the sloping eaves of his upstairs bungalow bedroom. I liked his muscular build and his face, which was handsome and bright-eyed. He was the first person I'd known to wear no facial hair other than a soul patch, and he was one of the few on whom it looked anything other than affected. I got a kick out of his profession, which was one of the careers that traditionally isn't supposed to be trolling for anonymous sex in men's rooms. We weren't lovers, in the sense I think of the word; we didn't see each other that often. But we were friendly enough that he offered me the use of his home for fucking, if I never needed a place to play. I never took him up on it, though.
When he found a boyfriend and went off the market for a while, I forgot about him for a couple of years. The boyfriend was supposed to be a big deal—the two were united very publicly and with a lot of fanfare and talk about the sacred nature of monogamy and commitment. All of which apparently went out the window within a couple of years, when he was back on the market and craving even more and kinkier sex than he was before. He looked for guys to tie him up, to humiliate him. He wanted poz guys to bareback and convert him. He gained an alarming amount of weight, and let his good looks grow ragged around the edges.
When I was fucking him in the mid-two-thousands, he was really big guy hiding the remains of a former good-looker under a thick layer. Our times together got progressively less enjoyable not because of that, but because he stopped cleaning out when we'd meet . . . and nothing turns me off more quickly than that. I'd make excuses not to see him, because he just wasn't taking the good care I expected, beforehand.
The last time I saw him was probably about three years ago, when I let him talk me into accompanying him to a sling party on the far side of town. The other men present were fairly hot, but my erstwhile friend embarrassed himself by climbing into a sling and, mid-fuck, letting loose a tremendous amount of what we'll generously call 'anal leakage' onto the floor underneath. It was one of those scenes that, erase it as I try from my memory, I can't eradicate. The noise, the multiple cries of panic from everyone in the room, the shock and dismay that followed. Thank god there was a large plastic tarp on the floor.
Plead as he might for me to have fun with him after that, I didn't. I couldn't face any of the other guys from that party ever again, either. I simply didn't want to be reminded.
It would be convenient if I could point to the moment of decline and say, with a wry shake of my head, that I told him to get his life back in order or things would come to a bitter end. I can't, and I couldn't, though. I've seen meth ruin lives in very short order. I knew a couple who went from responsible management jobs in a bank and a great house in an expensive suburb, to fired, strung-out junkies literally living out of a motel on one of the nastiest streets in Detroit because of the stuff. I knew one former fuckbuddy who lost his health, his lover, and his home because of the stuff, as he entered rehab again and again to attempt to rid himself of the habit. I knew a real estate agent with a huge reputation end up sleeping in an old station wagon during Michigan's worst winter months, after he lost everything to the habit.
Then there were guys like this, who managed to keep his meth usage relatively under wraps. Was he using when I knew him, in the later years? It could be. It'd make a certain kind of sense, though he didn't exhibit any of the twitchy habits I associated with other users I'd avoid. Yet this last week, when I ran across the item in the Detroit paper that outlined in lurid detail the guy's downfall, I can't say I was exactly surprised. All I know is that the man invited over another guy from an online hookup site. The trick brought over some meth, which my former friend dissolved in water and injected in the trick's chest, and then in his own. A couple of hours later, the trick was dead and my old fuckbuddy was having to explain it to the police.
Like I said. A mess.
I was shocked for the space of an evening. By the next day, I was poring through the web for more information. The guy lost his jobs. Headlines about gay sex and meth parties will do that, when you have a sensitive position like his. I read that he'd chosen to go to rehab, but I'd also read that he hadn't. His online hookup profile has been registering as online twenty-four/seven, since.
And old mutual friends keep contacting me. Did you have any idea? they ask. Did you know the other guy? No, I didn't. Should we have been able to tell? Maybe we should, but we didn't. Could we even have done anything if we'd tried?
It's a valid question. Meth is one of those drugs that becomes to world to some of its users—it means more than family, more than friends, more than any warning that anyone can possibly give. I admire anyone who can claw his way back to life from its clutches. I doubt anything we'd said, if we'd said it, would have carried any force in the terrible tug-of-war that meth has with an addict's life. The best that any of us can do at this point is to do what he must be doing: cleaning up and taking stock and trying to get on as best as we can.
Though it's going to be more difficult for him than the rest of us. There but for the grace of god, and sometimes mere chance, go any of us; it's best to remember how fortunate we really are, at the end of the day.