(The previous installment to this story can be found here.)
When I think about Cory these days, it’s always with bafflement and a sense of loss. I sense as if I’ve missed something; I want to throw my hands in the air, shout that I give up, and hope that someone will simply tell me the answers I seek. The main reason I chronicle my life is because doing so gives me the opportunity to tell my life’s story as I understand it. Very often the recounting is the only thing that helps me understand. Cory, I just don’t understand.
It’s taken a very long time to tell this story about my time with Cory because of this lingering uncertainty. When he was done with me, I was left debilitated and bewildered; physically I felt like I’d been trampled by all the bulls in Pamplona. Even now, I’m still trying to sift through the experience in order to figure out which parts were real, and which were his lies. Why things happened the way they did. How can I put together this puzzle when the biggest chunks are still missing?
Thinking about Cory makes me feel like a minor player in a bigger story. Like a walk-on character who lacked the grand perspective to understand what's going on around him: a Rosencrantz in someone else’s Hamlet.
And perhaps that's all I was to him.
It was sometime in the summer that I started having my doubts.
Cory liked to taking selfies of us during sex. He’d be lying on his back, legs sprawled in the air, and while I knelt between them, thrusting and pounding and sweating, he’d cooly reach over to the bedside table, grab his beat-up iPhone, and stretch a long arm to position it underneath the action. While I still fucked away, he’d review the new shots, sliding his fingertip from capture to capture, impassively deleting the bad ones before grabbing my head and pulling me down for a passionate kiss.
After we’d both shoot our loads, we’d hide under the sheets and review the photos together, looking up as he held the phone above our heads. Images of cock and hole, hard flesh and hairy ass would flash by as he’d swipe them across the little screen. “Let me text these to you,” he’d say. I have several of those selfies, still. One I don’t even remember him taking. In it, I’m sleeping in his arms, my face peaceful, even beatific. His face is in profile, his lips softly pressed against my forehead, his eyes closed as if he, too, is sleeping. Don’t we look beautiful together, he said, when he texted me. I had to agree.
Of course, that photo is a lie. Only one of us was unconscious. The other feigned slumber, while he took the shot. It’s a little detail—but it means a lot.
But none of these little disloyal thoughts crossed my mind that summer.
One morning we were cuddled in bed together, enjoying our post-coital ritual. We looked at the photos and murmured to each other about how much we’d enjoyed the sex. He showered me with compliments; I accepted them with a smile and a shy glow. I remember sighing happily, stretching out like a cat, and then snuggling next to Cory in sleepy contentment. Thinking I was napping, he continued to tap at his phone. Through heavy eyelids, I lazily watched as he switched apps to check his email.
I wasn’t snooping. I would never have gone through his email on my own. But he held the phone so that we both could see as he scrolled down his Yahoo! inbox, where I could plainly view the subject lines of all the mail he had waiting there. Craigslist reply 9045: Hotel top looking for bareback bottom, one of them said. He tapped it, unfurling into a long spiral of re: re: re: re: Craigslist reply 9045s that indicated a very long back and forth correspondence.
There were more Craigslist emails from other ads, more sexual correspondence—dozens of them in total, all within the week before, with titles that implied not that he’d been only hunting online, but that most of the guys writing him were after second or third helpings of Cory’s ass.
My brain casually assimilated and absorbed these facts before I realized, with a cold and painful shock, that none of these emails were intended for me to see. I turned my head, tried to slow my breath, and willed my heart to stop its tattoo. After a moment he must have realized that he was exposing his private correspondence. He attempted to change back to the photo app. He couldn't do it quickly, though, with only one hand.
I remember watching him clumsily try to cover up his embarrassment, then finally closing my eyes. I pretended I hadn't seen anything.
In my stunned silence, I remember thinking: Okay, there’s that.
Throughout the previous winter, spring, and most of the summer, I’d been sexually exclusive with Cory. I’d save my loads for him, merely because my doing so gave him pleasure. I was happy not constantly to have to take long trips into the city for encounters that ranged from bad to mediocre. I loved the sex we’d had. After I accidentally saw his emails, it took me long months before I started having sex with other men again—but I consider that morning the point at which I stopped thinking about Cory in terms of sexual exclusivity.
To be absolutely fair, he’d never expected me to keep my dick in my pants. Several times, in fact, he’d told me he was perfectly all right with me fucking other men. But he loved hearing that I wanted only him. He loved when I’d say I didn’t need any other receptacle for my loads than his ass. He knew quite well I wasn’t looking elsewhere—and even though he’d theoretically given me my freedom, he’d specifically told me many times over, even up to and including that week, that I was the only man he was having sex with.
In fact, so flattered was I by his many assurances that he’d been with no one else, that he needed no one else other than me, that I'd been more than willing to have him as total focus of my erotic life.
How much it stung, the discovery that I wasn’t the only object of his desire.
But I’d been stung so many times, by so many men, that I kept the complaint to myself. I hardened myself against letting it hurt. I thought the betrayal was worth living with, in exchange for his company, his compliments.
I never knew whether or not Cory was aware that I’d seen those emails. Something came up soon after, though, that pushed his secret dalliances from top of the list to least of my concerns.
Not even a week had passed, after the morning I accidentally saw Cory’s emails, when he wanted to show me some videos on his laptop. We were curled up together in bed, sticky and sweaty and weighted down with Poochy’s considerable bulk, when Cory hauled his notebook onto his lap and started searching for something. Probably a dog video. He loved clips of hounds making funny noises, or begging in a cute way, or riding skateboards or whatever it is that viral canines do.
Cory wasn’t finding the particular video quickly, though, by typing generic keywords like funny dogs into YouTube. So he decided to open up his browsing history, and find it from the list of sites he’d recently visited.
Again, I should’ve shielded my eyes—or more truthfully, he should’ve been a hell of a lot more self-conscious about exposing his browsing history while he knew we both were looking at the screen. Among the various YouTube pages he’d visited were not only a long list of Craigslist links, but a series of addresses that all began with mrsteed64.blogspot.com.
Seeing my blog in his browsing history brought me up short. The shock I felt was even greater than witnessing his Craigslist correspondences; I actually felt feverish, and as if I needed to throw up. My health had been up and down recently, anyway. While Cory played that damned dog video, I felt waves of nausea and disgust roll over me.
At last , when I couldn’t stand it any longer. I excused myself to the bathroom, where I leaned over the toilet for three or four minutes until I was sure nothing was going to come up. Then I went back to the bedroom, collected my clothing, and made an excuse to leave a little earlier than usual. Cory just lay in the bed, watching videos and laughing to himself, never realizing that anything was wrong.
Back at home, I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Never, at any point, had Cory mentioned that he’d read or known about my blog. Not once. Nor had I mentioned having one. Remember, I met Cory a mere six weeks after my enervating, grueling experience with Cheater, who’d secretly been reading my blog long before he’d tracked me down and lured me into his bed. The possibility that history was repeating itself again, so soon, was making my stomach flip.
On the other hand. . . . Once I was a little more calm, I had to admit that if Cory had been a covert blog reader, he had acted remarkably little upon what knowledges he’d gleaned. Cheater had come at me determined to push every button. He’d weaponized every word I’d written in order to get me to fuck him, and employed every bit of trivia to keep me unloading into his hole.
I never got the sense that Cory had done anything like that. Our sex had been damned good—up until that point, anyway. Even in retrospect, though, not once did it seem calculated or false.
Cory had never committed any of the misdemeanors of which other readers in this particular series were profoundly guilty. He hadn’t nagged to be written about. He hadn’t read entries about himself—and by that point there’d been a few—and then expressed displeasure. Never had he seemed to pretend to be into anything he wasn’t, in order to gain my approval; never had he given the appearance of fabricating stories to coerce me to want him. At least, not as far as I knew.
Was I even sure that Cory had been a reader of my blog all along? Perhaps he’d just stumbled upon it, and was shy about mentioning the discovery. Maybe he’d been a reader, but hadn’t made the connection between the blog and myself in real life. He could simply have resolved to remain discreet about his knowledge.
Did the discovery really change anything? I wasn’t sure. The nausea the initial shock had induced lingered for days, causing me more than once that week to jump up from my seat and run to the bathroom. Nights, I’d wake up feverish and sweating as well, only to flash back in the dark to the sight of my blog’s address on his computer’s screen. The physical aftereffects were concerning—but following the trauma I’d experienced with Cheater, they didn’t really surprise me, either. On some level, I was learning to expect betrayal. Even from Cory.
That week was one of the few in which I only saw the boy during our regular Tuesday assignation. I used my suddenly perpetually-upset stomach as an excuse for the rest of the week to keep to myself, while I mulled over what I wanted.
It would have been very easy simply to pull away from Cory after that double whammy. Maybe I even should have. Was closing myself off what the universe wanted me to do, though? After Cheater, after Mr. BipolarCocksucker, perhaps my instincts of self-preservation were kicking into overdrive too easily. If I’d retreated—if I’d told Cory I couldn’t see him any longer, if I’d invoked that clause in our agreement that would make him disappear forever—would I be throwing away something good, for little reason than fear?
That wasn’t like me, I told myself.
People disappoint each other, I reasoned. I’m well aware that in the past I have let down those closest to me, sometimes in a major way. I probably will again in the future. But did they walk away after one or two offenses? Sure, Cory had perhaps made mistakes, either in fooling around and being a secret blog reader, or else in accidentally cluing me in to both. Were those mistakes enough to stop seeing him? Or should I be giving him another chance?
By the following week, my health had recuperated slightly, and I’d come to a decision. Tuesday arrived. I drove to the house where Cory lived, parked, let myself in the side door, walked up the little servants’ staircase and into the suite where he lived. I kicked off my sandals and shucked my shorts and tee. Then, as Cory sleepily smiled at me and lifted the sheet, I crawled into the bed and pressed my naked body and hardening cock against his.
I, too, smiled.
Part of me wants to say this was the worst and most fateful decision I’ve ever made. Honestly, though . . . by then, all the damage yet to be discovered had probably had been done.
(To be continued.)
During my hiatus, I’ve received from readers a lot of very sweet emails wishing me well. Most of them have recognized the amount of work I’ve poured into my blog and have expressed their thanks. I’m so grateful for those sentiments.
Many people who’ve written, however, have made the assumption that the reason I have decided to take a break is because of the so-called haters—that is, the men who leave nasty comments on my blog, and those who go out of their way to make sure I understand how contemptible I am to them.
I’ve had plenty of haters over the years. They wear me down, yes. But more than anyone, the men who have sucked the joy out of my writing (and to a certain extent, my life) are those who meant well. They’re men who claimed to admire me, who wanted to meet me—and many of them did—and who then, whether out of clumsiness or fear or whatever, failed to recognize they’d gone too far. A man can only withstand so many successive blows to the ego (even an ego as Jericho-sturdy as mine) before it begins to tumble.
What’s more, every single one of these men read my blog. They’re men who subscribed to my point of view, who enjoyed my writing. Or read my writing, at least. Some of them wanted to be written about. Others never intended me to know they were blog fans.
Maybe one of these men is you.
If it is you? Although there’s a small and petty part of me that wants to flip a finger in your direction, I’m not going to. I’m moving on as I write this series. A friend of mine shared with me something his grandmother used to say that I truly believe: People do the best they can. If they could do better, they would.
My advice, if you think you recognize yourself . . . or even if you don’t: do better.
All of us could stand to do better.