Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Three Nights in Chincoteague: 1980 (Part 2)

Part 1 may be found here.

We spend the next day on Assateague Island. The adults lounge under umbrellas, sunglasses on their noses, talking over each other. My little sister and cousins have brought inflatable toys for the surf, though the rocks and rough sand puncture them mere minutes after they’ve been blown up. There’s no need for floats, though, when the kids have buckets and spades for sandcastles, and seashells to discover, and the natural pleasures of the surf. I spend the day taking long, solitary walks, letting the waves splash over my ankles and calves. From time to time, crabs buried beneath the sand will resent my trespass and nip at my toes, causing me to yelp and stumble away. We eat sandwiches for lunch, play miniature golf in Chincoteague to get out of the afternoon heat. There are no historical markers to stand over in reverence, no battlefields, no lessons to learn. It truly is our first and only real vacation as a family. Though it’s no Magic Kingdom, everything about the experience feels fresh and new. I let the sun and wind bleach away the stain of what I’d done the night before, in the thicket.

It’s dark again. After the kids get tucked into bed, the adults play bridge in Bert and Jane’s cabin. And though I know I shouldn’t, when I see that firefly light of his smoke after dark, I once more wander out the back door and sit opposite the big-nosed stranger.

He’s wearing a fancy tropical shirt, a pattern of stylized toucans and palm trees on a dark fabric, over the same baggy shorts. Tonight, he’s got the bottle in one hand, cigarette in the other. He sits with his legs spread and dangling over the cinderblock stoop, lips slick with liquor.

If I were to encounter this man back home in this condition, say in Bryan Park late at night or by the riverside, I’d steer away. I’m not naive. I know red flags when I see them. In the park, I’d have plenty of choice. I’d let someone else cope with this ugly, alcoholic mess. I’m not at home, though. I’m in sleepy, family-friendly Chincoteague, a town of salt-water taffy and themed Putt-Putt courses and tributes to the books of Marguerite Henry, everywhere one turns. It’s late at night. I’m bored. I’m horny. The ugly, alcoholic mess has given me money for a blowjob before. He might again. I’ve dealt with worse.

“You hungry for dick?” he says, staring at me.

I startle at his loud bluntness. He’s not being discreet at all. Probably no one is close enough to hear, but even in an inebriated state, he should realize the risks of asking such a question within earshot of his wife.

“Come on, son. I got what you want. Aw, you loved it last night.” He’s grabbing at his junk and giving it a firm squeeze. I didn’t love it the prior evening. I’d tolerated it for the sake of the cash. Even now, the memory of his foul seed roils my stomach. He mistakes my hesitation for negotiation. “Oh, I see.” He digs into his pocket and once more pulls out that back-breaking bifold. “That’s the way it’s gotta be, then. Fuck.”

It’s not just the sight of his open wallet that propels me to my feet—though that’s part of it. He needs to hush. “Sshh,” I warn, as I sit next to him. “Keep it down.”

His head wobbles with the effort of a drunk imagining he’s keeping it steady, as he looks into my eyes. “This is what you really want, isn’t it?” He’s folded two twenties between his ring and little fingers. Between the index and middle digits is a mostly consumed cigarette that billows smoke in my face. “How much more if you be my wife tonight?”

My pulse quickens. I keep an eye on the cash. “What do you mean?”

“Come on. How much?” I shake my head at his words, not understanding. “Be my wife. Just be real sweet to me and be my wife tonight. Okay? How much more? Twenty? Forty?”

He’s wheedling, now, but I truly don’t understand what he’s asking. Be his wife? Is he going to dress me up? Smear lipstick on my face? Will I have to wear his ring? I swallow and lick my lips, though, while he flicks the spent butt onto the ground and, as he grinds it beneath his sneaker heel, pulls another two bills from his wallet.

My reaction must be as naked as his need. He twiddles all the cash between his fingers. “Come on.” The man leans in close enough to breathe his hot, boozy breath into my ear. “Be my wife.”

“Okay.” Red flags be damned. Eighty dollars is eighty more than I had a minute ago. It’s a hundred and twenty more than I had yesterday morning. The sight of his money stupefies any parts of my brain that might whisper warnings. He’s my Pied Piper and I have no choice but to dance. I nod, breathless, my pulse racing in anticipation, and allow him to tuck the cash in my greedy palm. “Let’s go.”

Tree bark bites into my back, as he bulldozes me into it. The cotton of my tee does nothing to protect me. My head bangs against the trunk—not hard enough really to hurt, but with enough force to bring involuntary tears to my eyes. His shove knocks the wind out of me.

“You gonna be a good wife for me?” he says, looming nearer. I can’t answer; he’s clamped his palm over my mouth and jaw; the rough edge of his tobacco-strained hand is so deeply wedged against my nostrils that with every breath I rasp against years of tobacco calluses. “Yeah, you’re gonna be a good little wifey, aren’tcha. You’re gonna do what I say, because you love me.” Though it’s dark in that thicket, I can see how shot are the whites of his eyes with irregular red veins. I wonder how wide and panicked are my own. “You love me, right? I’m your husband. You gotta love me. Kiss me, baby.”

I can’t answer, but he doesn’t care. He brings his face closer and—with his hand still clamped to my mouth—plants his lips where mine should meet him. It’s this freakish act that disturbs me more than anything else that’s happened so far. I’d make out with the man if he wanted. He so obviously craves intimacy. Yet presented with its possibility, he denies himself. Four fingers separate our mouths from each other, but he passionately slobbers over them as if they’re the real thing. Once or twice I feel his tongue dart between the crevices and flick against my lips, but this is no kiss. It’s an obscene parody, and it offends me to my core.

“Good wife,” he at last whispers in my ear. “I know you like it. Now you’re gonna get what you want.” His left hand roughly unbuttons my shorts and yanks my shorts low enough for the elastic to pull tight around my thighs. He fumbles for my hole to jab a fingertip inside. He misses, poking me hard where my thigh meets my buttock. “Sweet piece of pussy,” he mumbles.

I’ve been around the block enough to assess the situation. Years of public play has taught me never to allow my little head to dominate the big one. The crude way he’d shoved me against the tree was frightening, yes, but I don’t get the sense he wants to hurt me. The big-nosed man is lost in some fantasy of his own creation that had been set in motion once I’d accepted his money. But the way he’s going about it—the mock kisses, thinking a cleft is a pussy, even the whole set-up of pretending to be his wife so he can fuck me—is so awkward and borderline comical that my instincts reassure me he’s not dangerous. He could be. Maybe he even should be. But right now, I don’t feel it.

He spins me around so that I’m facing the tree and pushes mid-spine to bend me over. Once again, the stranger covers my mouth with his stinking fingers. “Gonna make babies in you, beautiful. You want that, right? You want your husband’s babies?” With my mouth covered, I can only grunt. He spits into his free hand and sticks it down his shorts.

My pants are tangled in the vicinity of my upper thighs. When he tries to spread my legs, there’s only so far I can pull them. He doesn’t care. Once more I feel the stab of his fingers against my ass. They miss the mark by a few inches. His combined fingertips thrust and probe at the fissure where my legs meet as he growls in my ear.

“You’re gonna love my dick deep in that pussy, baby. Gonna fuck you like a man should fuck his wife. Deep and wet. Pump you full of my babies.” His breath is hot on my neck. “Pump you enough for twins.”

I feel his probing cock and I brace myself. Over the last several years I’ve had rough fucks. I’ve had hot fucks. I’ve had fucks that set my hole on fire and turned my innards to jelly, and fucks where I’ve had to lie there while I wait for it to be over. I’ve had painful fucks from dicks too big for me, and fucks where the guy wanted me to hurt. I’ve had gentle fucks, and fucks where my partner was so worried and solicitous that I had to take control. But I don’t know what the hell to anticipate from this guy. He’s been drinking. Now that I’ve sold myself for a few scraps of paper, he clearly thinks he can do whatever he wants.

What I don’t expect, however, is that he’ll miss my hole entirely and penetrate the crack between my legs. He gasps as the head of his crooked dick bursts through. “Oh, baby!” His breath singes my neck. “You’re so pretty with my dick in your pussy. I love you, baby. I love you.”

He lays his torso on mine, hugging me close. Part of me suspects he must, to keep himself upright. At least he’s liberated my mouth. When I work my jaw and moan in gratitude, he mistakes it for pleasure.

“You love it, don’t you,” he growls. His cock makes swift, rabbit-like strokes between my legs. I’ve had intercrural sex before. A few of my older partners and clients even prefer it, as it requires little preparation and usually involves less mess. But I don’t think the big-nosed man realizes he’s fucking my legs and not my hole. He seems to be relishing the sensation, either way, and I’m not about to ruin his fun. “Tell me you love it, baby.”

“I love it,” I whisper, while I hang onto the tree and squeeze tight my thighs.

“Yes, you do. You love your husband’s big fat dick. You want my babies?”

“Fill me with your babies,” I urge. “Get me pregnant.”

He grunts, pleased. “You better be ready. I’m not pulling out.”

I need this to end. Agreement seems the quickest route. “Don’t pull out.”

“Fuck yeah. Making babies in my wife. Like a real man.” He mutters these words and more to himself in a low, steady ramble. Juice from his dick, hot to the touch, has made my thighs slippery. He stabs and plunges and forces his way between them. At one point he withdraws and shoves back in with a mighty jab, this time hitting my hole and making me gasp. He thinks he’s in the wrong spot, though, and mumbles an apology before returning to the softer flesh below.

When he comes, it’s with a repeat of last night’s shudders and quakes. I can feel jets of semen splatter my legs, as well as the ground and trunk in front of us. I make pleased noises and rub my butt against him until he softens and withdraws, whereupon I fumble with my pants until they’re more or less back in place. I’m drenched with him, from head to foot.

“That was beautiful, baby,” he slurs, moving in on me with his palm cupped. “C’mon. Show me how much you liked it. Gimme a kiss.”

Our transaction was complete the moment he came. There’s no way I’m enduring that lampoon of intimacy again. I writhe out of his grasp before his hand can once more cover my mouth, and slip away through the trees back to the cabins. My shorts are soaked with the man’s sweat and semen; I can still smell the sickly scent of him all over my body, still feel his breath on my back. It’s going to be tricky, whether I’ll be able to slip into the shower and then into bed before the adults finish their rubber. One thing I know for sure, though, as I hasten back to the dark cabin: there’s no amount of money that will tempt me back into the woods with that man again.

We’re all a little worn out, our last day in Chincoteague. The cousins are so tired that they actually request a nap, come late afternoon. Bert and Jane have joined them, in their cabin. I walk into our kitchenette to find my mom and dad staring out the back window. “What’s going on?” I ask.

My mother has her arms crossed and her neck set in a disapproving posture. My dad, whose sight is poor in the best of conditions, has to press his face close to the glass to see. He’s trying to be stealthy, at least, by ducking low. Without breaking his surveillance, he says, “This fellow next door seems to be…well, under the weather.”

“He’s drunk,” my mom summarizes. “Poor sod. Can you imagine the demons he must be wrestling with?”

Outside, I hear the empty chime of a bottle being set hard on concrete. Panicked that the ugly man has attracted my parents’ notice, I pretend disinterest and deflect. “We doing dinner anytime soon?”

“His poor wife,” says my mother.

She’s the last person of whom I want to be reminded. “So…dinner?”

My dad seems unwilling to leave his spy post, but my mother looks at her watch and sighs. “Teen boys and their stomachs, I swear. I suppose it’s that time. Though if Bert calls Carter a cracker one more time, I can’t be held accountable…”

“It’s just one more dinner, one more night, then we leave in the morning,” my dad reassures. “You can make it through that.”

My mom sighs as if she’s not convinced. I’m firmly in her camp, having learned one of the prime lessons of any vacation: there always comes a point when you’d rather be home.

After we return from our final dinner out and the little kids have been put to bed, my aunt and uncle and parents gather for one last night of bridge. Through the back door, I can see the red firefly of our neighbor’s cigarette dancing in the dark. Though I’ve refrained from turning on any lights, and though I’m peeking out from behind the grimy gingham curtain over the back window, he must sense I’m there. He picks up a pebble from the ground, hauls back, and with a pitcher’s grace, nails the wood of the screen door with a loud crack.

“Stop that,” I scold in a whisper, once I’ve yanked open the doors and stepped out. “What the fuck?”

“I want you,” he says loudly. Then, acceding to my frantic gestures, he lowers his voice. “I want you, baby. C’mon. Be my wife.”

There’s no way I’m once again submitting to his messy caricature of lovemaking. Absolutely no way. I shake my head.

“You gotta. You love it. You’re my wife.”

I’m this man’s nothing. Arms crossed, and imitating my mother’s stance of imperviousness, I stand firm. “Listen. I can’t. My folks are expecting me…”

“Come on, baby.” He puckers his lips and kisses in my direction, then stumbles to his feet. “I’ll make it real sweet.” I shake my head. There’s a harder edge to his voice when he adds, “I know what’ll get those legs wide open.”

As he digs in his shorts for that wallet, I can’t help but pause. With two fingers he plucks out a twenty-dollar bill, then another. I’d resolved to walk away, but I make the mistake of hesitating. I could go through it once more. I’d be out of here tomorrow; I’d never have to see him again. I’m stock still as he pulls out a final twenty, then two tens. Eighty dollars. Eighty more dollars could numb a lot of the indignities I’d have to suffer, out there in the woods.

I’m still frozen in place when he pulls one more ten from the wallet. “You know you want this, at least,” he says, turning to spit with contempt on the ground. With a snap of his wrist, he tosses the bills into the dust at my feet, where they scatter.

I hate myself for being tempted, but it’s the disdain in his attitude that decides me. I won’t be going to the thicket with him this evening. Refusal is my clear right. I clear my throat and say, so that there’s no mistaking: “No.”

And then he slaps me.

I don’t see it coming. I’m too busy feeling virtuous to anticipate the swing of his arm, the arc of his open hand as it closes the gulf between us. He connects not with his palm, but with his stinking fingers. The slap is sharp enough a blow to make me see stars. We both stagger away from the other, mouths agape, eyes wide, nostrils flaring. With a sudden huff, the ugly man drops his ass onto the stoop. The life’s drained out of him: he seems stunned at what he’s done.

“Fuck you,” is all I say, before I retreat into the darkness, hand cupping my cheek, in the direction of the street. For the rest of the night, I sit alone on the front steps of Bert and Jane’s cabin, waiting for my parents. I’ll have to be all smiles and charm when they emerge. Pretending that nothing extraordinary has happened is the price I pay for the secret life I lead.

The next morning, while my mother oversees our departure, my job is to ferry luggage from the front steps to the trunk of our Dart. I’m impatient to leave. I miss our cats and the happy mess of our house. I miss the familiarity of my cruising spaces. I almost miss high school. I’d be happy, right now, never to go on vacation again.

And here comes Bert, manfully hauling two large suitcases to his family’s new-model car, parked next to ours. “Morning, sunshine,” he says with a false grin. “Didn’t forget to pack your makeup bag, didya?”

Now I’m really ready to go. Without a word, I turn my back on my bully and stalk back to the cabin, ignoring his jeers. If I step inside, I’ll just have another bag thrust in my hands. So I circle around to the back. My neighbor’s door is closed and the windows shut. Though there’s an empty bottle of cheap bourbon lying on their steps, at least I won’t be forced into one final confrontation. Good.

Not until I sit on the stoop for a final time do I notice bills littering the dirt. Tens and twenties, still lying where they’d been flung the night before. I look around, almost suspicious I’m being tested. Then, in a rush of motion, I’m down in the dust and pebbles, grabbing at the cash as if my life depends on it. Twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy, eighty—there should be another ten somewhere. It’s not at the foot of my steps, nor has it blown behind the metal garbage cans. My hands and knees are dirty, but I continue scrabbling for that final, elusive bill.

The back door opens. It’s my mother, hands on her slender hips, looking with disdain at the Old Crow bottle on the opposite stoop. Her disapproval gives me time to tuck a handful of grit and cash into my back pocket. “What in the world are you doing back here?” she asks, puzzled. “It’s not even nine in the morning and you’re filthy.”

“Bert…” is all I have to say to elicit a roll of the eyes and a sympathetic sigh.

“Once you’re in college, you can pick and choose when and if you see him.” She holds out her arm to summon me indoors. “If only I could be so lucky. Come on. We’re ready to go.”

But I can’t leave. In vain, I look around for that one last bill. It’s mine. Even though I didn’t earn it, even though last night I didn’t want it, there’s ten dollars to be had. I can’t abide the thought of anyone else claiming what I deserve.

Even as my eyes frantically scramble across the weedy wasteland, my feet trudge the stairs behind my mother. Every step away from that missing money is sheer torture. I have eighty unearned dollars in my hand. Eighty dollars is eighty more than I had a minute ago. It’s two hundred dollars more than I had when we arrived here. And yet I’m not satisfied.

All through my childhood and adolescence, my mother has drummed into my head that we have money enough for what we need. Enough to be grateful. They’ve somehow squeezed out a little more for this unexpected vacation. I should be happy. I should be appreciative.

Yet here I am, secretly mourning the loss of a petty sum, sweaty and sick to my stomach, my limbs trembling like I’m going through withdrawal, as I climb into our car. I could pick up ten dollars in five minutes at home. Hell, back home I’d turn up my nose at any man who assumed I was a ten-dollar trick. Why, then, do I spend our drive back to Richmond puzzling where that last bill might have fallen?

An hour ago I’d been just a kid with a side hustle, a soon-to-be senior in high school sitting on a profitable secret. The big-nosed man in the cabin next door had shown me what I really was: a junkie. I have a problem. I need more than I should. I want more than I need. I’m putting myself in the line of danger for a fistful of bills. Not just with this bozo from Raleigh: every time I climb into a strange car at night, or knock on a trick’s hotel room door, or when I disappear into the shadows along the banks of the James. I’m a slave to a flash of cash, a whiff of currency, and the promise of a sexual thrill.

“Tired out?” my mom asks from behind the steering wheel. It's a hot day and the Dart lacks air conditioning, so all the windows are open. She raises her voice to be heard over the rush of freeway wind, and looks at me in the rearview mirror. “You’ve been mighty quiet today.”

I mumble something and let my head loll, knowing I won’t be heard.

“I think he’s just tuckered out from a long vacation,” mutters my dad.

My mom isn’t so sure. “Too much vacation, if you ask me.”

Too much? It was only three nights in Chincoteague—mostly at Bert’s expense, my teenaged resentment emphasizes. Though I realize something about vacations, now, something I’d never learned from my classmates, when they returned from their amusement parks and ski trips and shopping excursions to the big city. I might be able to flee my small town. For a spell, I might be able to escape to better weather, or to different scenery, or for new sights. The one thing from which I’ll never be able to take a vacation, though, is myself.

What a fucking depressing thought.

I sit there, forehead pressed against the car’s vibrating interior and watch the pines pass by. In my private prison, I long for that lost ten-dollar bill, tossed by ocean winds, tumbling toward a flat and endless horizon.

Three Nights in Chincoteague: 1980 (Part 1)

At some point in my childhood, I asked my mother in what economic class our family fell. “Lower middle class,” she’d asserted without thought. Then, after reflecting a moment, she amended her answer. “Lower-lower middle class.”

Her answer surprised me. I knew what real poverty looked like. My mother was a founding member of a non-profit seeking minority equal housing opportunities. I’d seen the neglected interiors of multiple public housing projects; I’d accompanied her more times than I could count to document the appalling conditions of Richmond’s slum properties. I’d even recognized some of the kids in these places as my schoolmates.

My mother herself had grown up in genuine impoverishment, often never knowing when or if there’d be a next meal; her parents still lived in the uninsulated home her father had built by hand over the decades, one room at a time as he could afford. Its last addition—an indoor john and bath—had been added only in the late nineteen-sixties. They’d made do until then with an outhouse and by dragging a tin tub into the kitchen for a weekly scrub.

My family had inside toilets. Two of them. Since I was six, we’d lived in a two-story brick home with a slate roof in a nice neighborhood. When the lunch bell rang at school, I didn’t have to line up with the projects kids for free lunches—for many, the only hot meal they’d get that day. All of my family were readers. We watched educational TV and listened to classical music. How could we be lower-lower anything?

Not until I was older did I begin to notice the ways in which we differed from other neighborhood families. We lived in a respectable brick colonial, yes, but only because my paternal grandmother had bought it outright and signed it over to my father. Monthly, throughout my childhood and into my adolescence, he would mail her a check: two hundred and fifty dollars per installment until the debt was repaid. We were privileged to have our own housing taken care of, interest-free. On their own, on my father’s assistant professor’s salary and my mother’s part-time earnings as an adjunct, they could never have afforded a mortgage. Not in that genteel city enclave.

We also only had cars because of my grandmother. Our first vehicle was a 1963 Dodge Dart with a brown interior that she’d purchased and more or less immediately gotten into an accident that left the passenger side crushed and mangled; she’d sold it to my father at a discount and replaced it with a blue-interiored Dart that eventually also passed our way. My parents would drive those two 1963 Dodge Darts well into the late nineteen-eighties, wrecked doors and all. I could never figure out which was the greater embarrassment: my father’s Dart with the unusable, crumpled-in doors, or my mother’s more-or-less intact Dart covered with Jimmy Carter bumper stickers and political posters duct-taped in the windows.

We had enough money, as my parents would constantly remind me throughout my childhood, for what we needed. A roof over our heads. Food in the pantry. Perhaps a little extra for piano lessons from the elderly church member down the street. As a very young kid, it was enough.

In my teens, though, the disparities between me and other kids grew wider. I would walk long distances or take the city bus to school events, rather than suffer the hot shame of classmates witnessing the banged-up, rusted old Dart cough and sputter into a parking lot. In fourth grade I could get away with wearing outgrown trousers with hems high above my ankles. Not in middle school. Definitely not as a high schooler. As a family with limited money, cars and clothing were low priorities.

I didn’t complain—but I was mortified when I didn’t fit in. We never ate at restaurants, not even fast food, save for special occasions like a birthday. Meals at home were plain but filling. When beef grew expensive during a shortage in the seventies, we ate much cheaper horse meat—though I knew better than to admit it at school. We rarely went to the movies and never bought concessions. Although the annual state fair was held practically in our back yard and my friends attended nightly, the only times I ever saw it were on educational school outings. When I took up a wind instrument for middle school band, for years I relied on a school loaner. I was warned for years in advance that although my peers would all be getting their drivers licenses at 16, I wouldn’t be permitted to join them; car insurance for a teen was too expensive. I’d have to wait until I was earning on my own, to learn to drive.

We have enough to be grateful. Enough to know our poverty isn’t abject. With every year, though, the list grows longer of what my classmates consider commonplaces, that I consider privations.

This is why, the summer of our country’s bicentennial, my pulse quickens when, beneath the stalls of the Richmond Public Library basement men’s room, a stranger slips me a note scrawled with Bic pen upon folded toilet paper. $20 to do it here, read the spidery letters. $50 if we go to the Hotel Jefferson. A little later, the man slips me two Andrew Jacksons and an Alexander Hamilton as he pushes me to my knees with the flat of his hand atop of my head.

Fifty dollars. Fifty whole dollars. It’s the first time I’m holding so much cash. It’s weeks of my pitiful allowance—months. After our short walk, the man had handed it over as if it were nothing. To me, fifty dollars is riches unimaginable.

Fifty dollars in my hand negates all the mindfulness of wasting pennies and the eye to unnecessary expenses, the worry that some simple school requirement might require my parents to shell out more than they can afford, the poorer kid's constant apprehension of a sudden reversal of fortune. No matter how I’ve earned it, cash in my hand sets me ahead of the game. It makes me immune. Powerful.

For the length of time it takes for me to complete a sexual transaction for pay, every myriad anxiety flares into ash like tissue set aflame. After that first encounter, I squirrel away more and more of the stuff, conditioned always to anticipate an austere winter.

I’m 16 and it’s the summer before my senior year of high school when my parents announce we’ll be taking a vacation. We’ve never gone on vacation. Not a real one.

Friends vacation with their families. Many of them ski over the Christmas holidays; one brags yearly about visiting New York City to shop on Fifth Avenue and visit the tree at Rockefeller Center. At the beginning of the school term when teachers assign the obligatory summer vacation essay, I listen with envy while classmates recount their trips to the Grand Canyon, to Stone Mountain, their cross-country large family reunions, their exciting adventures in Disney World, which had opened less than a decade before. I was never going to experience the Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t even talk my parents into Carowinds, or even a trip to the admission-free South of the Border. The only reason I’ve been to the local theme park, King’s Dominion—which at the time consists of the drive-through Lion Country Safari, as well as the stand-alone Rebel Yell roller coaster—has been as a school field trip.

Visits to my grandparents don’t count: they’re less vacation and more obligation, and inevitably end in shouting matches and long, hurt drives home. My mother and father gussy up day trips and tried to sell them as giddy, madcap holidays. We’ll drive to one of the many Civil War battlefields close to home with a basket of ham sandwiches and potato chips, where we doze in the shade and listen to my father lecture about the movement of the troops. We’ll visit one of many Virginia plantations, to eat ham sandwiches and listen to my mother lecture about the evils of the slave trade.

If we really want to make a day of it, we travel an entire hour to Williamsburg, where we eat the inevitable ham sandwiches at Waller Mill Pond, then visit the colonial area and walk up and down Duke of Gloucester Street—the free area—while both my parents alternately lecture and quiz about early American history.

That’s why this announcement is so revolutionary. We’ll be spending three nights in Chincoteague, my parents inform us. I’ll be graduating high school in a year’s time. Since I’ll be off to college after that, our time together as a family is growing short. It’s a fine and almost sentimental reason to loosen the purse strings, I think, until I discover that my father’s sister’s family will be joining us.

In fact, my Aunt Jane and Uncle Bert are footing the bill for both families’ accommodations, which explains how my parents can afford this splurge. I’ve no particular opinions on Jane or my two cousins, the older of whom is all of nine. Bert, however, I detest. He’s a brusque blue-collar bulldog whose every other word is a racial or ethnic slur. When he’s not mocking my dad for being an ivory tower elite who can barely support his family, or dismissing my mom as a bleeding-heart liberal, he’s busy pointing out all the ways I’m a sissy. I read too much. I don’t play sports. No, swimming and tennis don’t count—only fags swim or swing a racket. He means real sports, like football. Had I ever even been in a fight at school? No? What kind of limp-wristed Little Lord Fauntleroy was I?

Bert’s litany of abuse commences the moment we pull up to the grim cabins he’s rented. In greeting, he crushes my dad’s metacarpals with a python-like grip, then complains about my dad’s effete handshake. He orders my mother to rustle up some grub without so much as a hello, raising her hackles. Warmed up, he turns to me. So my dad said I’d had lifesaving training at the YMCA pool? Who was I planning on saving from the waves with my toothpick arms and scrawny chest, a kitten? Haw haw! The idea! Maybe if I had an after-school job instead of keeping my head in the books all the time I wouldn’t be so pale and girly. Bert’s kids weren’t going to grow up sissies, no sirree Bob. Where was I going to college anyway, Sweet Briar? I’d fit in with all the girly-girls there. And they sure as heck wouldn’t have to worry about a boy in the girls’ dorm, not with me.

I abandon unpacking and slink through the back door to sit by myself, where I’ll be out of the line of fire.

The cabins are an array of a half-dozen drab, cinderblock constructions fronting a semi-circular drive. Functional, but plain. Behind the uniform huts sits a miniature concrete pool—more of a kiddie pool than anything—surrounded by rusted, webbed lawn chairs. The cabin’s back steps, where I sit, have a view of both it and a thicket of trees beyond.

“Afternoon.” A man sits on the steps of the cabin next to ours, snuffing out a Marlboro with his right hand even as with the left he withdraws another from its packet. A gold band decorates his ring finger. His receding blond hairline is what I first notice; the enormous nose, next. It’s narrow and long; the bulbous head at its end makes it look a little like a penis. The back door to his cabin stands open; beyond it, I can hear a treble monologue. His wife, I assume.

I nod. I’m not exactly in a mood for conversation with anyone, much less a stranger. I can still hear Bert, the self-declared bastion of straight masculinity, braying inside. This man strikes me as more of the same. He studies me whiles he taps the cigarette end on the packet, once, twice, three times, before lighting it. When finally he takes a long, slow drag, he stares through the smoke.

Even though in my mood I feel anything but sexual, I recognize the man’s regard. I’ve seen that speculative look in the eyes of many a stranger. It’s the unwavering attention of a man checking me out while pretending to do anything but; it’s equal parts curiosity and caution. I’ve seen it in the eyes of the homosexuals who gather at the riverside by dusk on warm nights, and from the car windows of men who drive The Block in Richmond’s downtown, looking to pick up a trick. Just as many times, I’ve seen that same expression on the face of married men who need to tamp down on urges they shouldn’t be having.

Every deep suck on that stick of tobacco, every long, casual exhalation, tells a story I’ve heard before. With his high forehead and that prominent beak, the man’s not exactly handsome. He’s not totally unattractive, either. I pretend to stare at the pool area beyond, while I steal glances his way.

“What?” I’m startled when he speaks, but his curt question is meant for someone inside his cabin. “All right already. All right!” When he rises, muttering curses beneath his breath, he’s taller than I assumed. Probably nearly as tall as I. He’s wearing the ridiculously short athletic shorts in fashion this year, tight and high around the thighs, yet on him still somehow baggy and unflattering. White sweat socks with broad red stripes hug his calves. We share a confidential glance. The man shrugs and rolls his eyes in the direction of his wife before he disappears into the gloom of his cabin.

It’s easier than I think to stay out of Bert’s way, with our two families in separate cabins. We don’t eat dinner at a fancy restaurant that first night, but at a clam shack on outdoor picnic tables, where I sit far away from the adults. I’ve never seen the ocean before. When after dinner we drive a short distance to Assateague Island and walk the beach, it’s the first time I’ll ever stare at a flat and endless horizon or feel the satisfying crunch of sand beneath my soles, or hear the restless constancy of the waves, loud enough to drown out Bert’s long monologues.

After we return that night, my young cousins’ faces sticky from ice cream, they and my sister are sent to bed. It’s still too early for me to turn in, though. Nor do I want to join my parents in Bert and Jane’s cabin for cards and political sparring. For a while, I try to read in our quiet living area, but the furniture is spare and uncomfortable, the air muggy despite open windows. There’s nothing to do here at night. There’s nothing to do at home, either, but at least in my own bedroom I have the comforts of my books and my radio and my typewriter, when I feel creative.

Boredom weighs heavier in a strange place. I count knots in the piny paneling, I memorize the cornucopia pattern of a strip of wallpaper over the stove. Through the screen door in the kitchenette, I watch a lazy firefly hover over the ground, rise into the air, then settle once more. That’s no firefly, I realize, not with its red and constant glow. It’s the tip of a cigarette in the darkness. If I can see it, I realize, my neighbor surely can see me, in the brightly lit cabin.

I’m no longer bored.

It’s with a sense of showmanship that, pretending I’m unaware of anyone watching, I strip off my striped tee to mop my face. My sixteen-year-old body is nothing special. I’m not one of the hairy, muscular athletes who pose for the Jockey briefs ads that appear in TV Guide or Sports Illustrated. Over the last few years, though, I’ve learned that my smoothness and leanness, accented by the height I’ve achieved, is its own commodity. Popular, at that. Men enjoy gliding their knuckles over my ribs like they’re strumming a xylophone; they relish running their fingers through my shoulder-length hair as might a rapt Rumpelstiltskin as he spins straw to gold. I’m a lean blond twink. Men pay for that. They pay well.

With a deliberate lack of self-consciousness, I rub the crumpled tee over my shoulders and chest, then stretch my long, long arms toward the ceiling with a feigned yawn. I don’t look outside, but I keep myself framed in the door while I pop the button of my bright blue Ocean Pacific corduroy shorts. I don’t unzip; I merely hook my fingers into the waist as if I’m contemplating removing more. I’m the Gypsy Rose Lee of the Eastern Shore.

Outside, I hear the sizzle of a cigarette being stubbed out against cinderblock, then the pert click of a Bic lighter. I’ve got an audience of one.

I’m still playing with my tee when I step outside and sit on the back steps. My neighbor is perhaps ten feet away. He’s anticipated my company by spreading wide his long legs and letting his free hand dangle suggestively between them in the vicinity of his crotch. I can barely make out his face by the lights of my family’s cabin; his eyes glint like obsidian. Ever bold, I lean my naked torso sideways, planting my elbow onto the concrete. It’s not comfortable, but the pose shows me off and tugs open—slightly, so slightly—the V at the top of my shorts.

His eyes wander along every inch and byway of my bare skin, opalescent beneath the night sky. A fingernail’s length of paper and leaf burns and vanishes as he takes a long drag on his cigarette. He blows a column of smoke upward, tilting his head away from me—a gentleman, perhaps—but keeps me squarely in his sights. His free hand ventures lower. Its fingers brush against the synthetic fabric of his shorts, then linger. Teasing. Outlining. To anyone else, he might be scratching, or adjusting.

I let him know we’re speaking the same language by wiping my hand across my chest. My fingertips tease and pull at my nipples, sending electricity down my spine to my stiffening cock. I love these semiotics of desire: a flick of the tongue at the lips, the inclination of a head as eyes seek what’s half-concealed, knowing that if I lean a little closer and spread my legs a little wider, I’ll be able to spy the swelling bulge in his baggy shorts. The hunt is as much fun as the conquest.

“Where’re y’all from?” he at last asks, sucking down the last of his smoke. His bass voice is surprisingly quiet. I tell him we’re from Richmond, and my aunt and cousins from Baltimore. “Raleigh here,” he shares. “The wife had to see Chincoteague. Those damn books.”

I know what he means. There’s not a family with a horse-mad preteen girl that doesn’t know the Misty of Chincoteague series. “Where is she?” I ask, leaning forward.

The stranger looks over his shoulder at his dark cabin. “Asleep. What about your folks?”

There’s meaning behind the question. “I can do what I want.”

“Really, huh.” He chuckles. I’ve amused him. “You sound like a bad boy.”

My cock stiffens in my shorts as I rise and stride his way. I plant my ass onto his stoop. We sit only a couple of feet apart. “Maybe I am.”

“So, bad boy. What is it you want?” I know the answer is plain in my eyes, but he continues. “What’s your poison? Cigs?” He holds out the pack, one butt protruding from the opening. I shake my head. “I’ve got bourbon.”

There’s a half-empty bottle of Old Crow behind him, next to the screen door. “Nah,” I reply. I’ve been plied with liquor before, but I’ve never been tempted to accept.

“Don’t got no pot,” he says. With speculation he sizes me up. “Cash’ll do, I reckon.”

Now he’s talking. I sidle a little closer as he withdraws a bulky wallet from his shorts. My dad has a bifold like this, stuffed so full that it’s nearly two inches thick. From inside he withdraws a twenty-dollar bill, then its twin. My heart pounds at the sight of the cash, but I don’t want to seem too mercenary. “Maybe I’m just looking for fun.”

He hesitates. “Uh-huh. Okay, then.” When he opens his wallet once more as if to put away the bills, my hand shoots out and snatches the cash. His lips twist into a cruel smirk. Now I despise the man for testing me. He’s not a gentleman, after all. A gentleman would have folded those twenties and tucked them into the pocket of my tee, or he might have accompanied the withdrawal with a wink and a smile, to indicate a joke. This asshole, though, is taking pleasure in denying me what should be mine. In my eyes, it makes him even uglier.

Yet I want the money. Cash is the Pavlov’s bell that, rung at the right timber, floods my mouth with drool. The mere sight of the twin twenties is a narcotic to the indignities Bert will inflict over the next few days. Crushed and balled inside my pocket, they’re the analgesic to my pain. I don’t even notice, when the stranger grabs me around my neck and steers me to the thicket of trees behind the property, beyond the pool area, that his clutch is painful, almost bruising. For the sake of the cash, I ignore the rancid stink of the tobacco and Old Crow that emanates deep from his lungs whenever he wheezes; I forgive the violence with which he shoves me to my knees. When he drops his shorts to reveal a cock so crooked, so bent, that when fully erect it points at almost a ninety-degree angle to his right, the money in my pocket is enough anesthetic to help me dive for it hungrily and to welcome it in my throat, painful a fit as it might be.

He’s not a gentle lover. It’s with force he holds me down on his dick. When he finishes, it’s deep down my throat as I struggle for air. His semen is foul as he withdraws along the length of my tongue. Bitter as tar. I’d almost suppose it to be black in color, from the taste alone. Without a thank-you, without a word, he leaves me in the thicket, alone and gagging and coughing. Both my jaw and neck are sore. For long minutes, I wipe away tears and snot and struggle to regain some degree of composure. Then I brush the dirt from my knees, rise to my feet, and slink back to the cabin and into bed.

Part two continues here

Saturday, December 31, 2022

My Turn

Once again, on this vacation, I’m sitting at a meal in front of an empty plate, across the table from a man who stares off into the distance and slowly chews a bite of gingerbread pig. No, chewing would indicate an end goal of actually swallowing. That’s an outcome unlikely to come to fruition anytime in the near future. Masticating, perhaps. What a cow does with its cud for endless hours, standing in a hot summer field as its tail flicks away flies from its shanks. Cows have tails, do they? Is that horses? Of course they do. Oxtail soup is a thing, right?

I’ve been to the breakfast buffet twice already; my stomach bulges happily from a double helping of chilaquiles. Although my small party has occupied our table for a good forty minutes, my friend Eeyore has only picked at his plate. Years ago, Eeyore had surgery for one of those bariatric bands, to help him lose weight. Ever since, he’s been an exceptionally slow eater. Excruciating, long meals had been the first things I’d considered, when originally he’d proposed accompanying us on this Puerto Vallarta trip; I still have vivid memories of Eeyore in Provincetown, years ago, and the restaurant visits that lasted so long that lunch bled into dinnertime, and dinner past my bedtime.

But hey. Eeyore is an old friend. He’s not primarily my friend—I don’t have his phone number and we don’t text or talk outside our circle. I’ve know him for three decades and more, though, starting back in Michigan. He’d relocated to NYC in the early 2000s for a more exciting life, predating my own move by several years. Now, in two weeks, he’ll be moving back to Michigan again. This vacation is Eeyore’s last hurrah, and I’m not about to ruin it by grousing about the glacial ages he spends eating.

And isn’t the leisure part and parcel with a vacation? I’m supposed to be enjoying this weather, the atmosphere, the long and unhurried hours with no itinerary and no obligations.

“So,” I say, waving away the waiter as he threatens to refill my orange juice glass. “How’s that roommate of yours?”

Eeyore sniffs his pig before taking another considered bite. “Hell if I know.” This week, the Mexican resort has been taken over by a charter group—hundreds of gay men occupy every floor. Rather than pay double the rate for a single room, Eeyore has opted to be matched with an unknown roommate. He's barely seen the guy since our first afternoon. All Eeyore has told me about the guy is that he’s from Chicago. “I can tell he’s been using the shower, but I sure haven’t seen him.”

“Well, at least someone is having fun,” I say, suppressing a deep sigh.

Eeyore doesn’t have an answer to that, so I raise my phone and swipe through the apps. Some guy on Grindr from the hotel has been nagging me to meet with him. He mails from Montreal, and while the photos he’s sent me are decent enough, he gives off a creepy vibe. I saw you at the mojito bar last night, his current message reads. It’s a sequel to previous installments he’s texted, including Hey wasn’t that you at the south end of the pool yesterday morning and I think I passed you in the lobby last night but you didn’t look my way.

The combined effect of all these near-miss messages makes me grind my teeth. If you see me, why the fuck don’t you just say hello???? I stab out with my thumbs. I pause, reconsider, then append a few more question marks for added emphasis. In the end, I think better of sending, delete the message, and ignore the text.

I’m about to shut off the phone and return to staring out at the horizon when a Scruff notification drops down from the top of my screen. Is your offer still on the table? I recognize the guy. We’d talked the night before. I was hoping to get a taste of the natural Mister Steed. He’s followed it up with a devil emoji.

Definitely still on the table, I tap back.

How natural are you?

Haven’t showered since yesterday morning.

This information pleases him, judging by the row of emojis sweating, wearing sunglasses, and sticking out their tongues. My hubby has gone into town for shopping and a massage. He’ll be away for a few hours. Can you come soon?

I look up to see Eeyore beginning to pick at his cold scrambled eggs. Our other table companion, his plate also long empty, stares at his own tiny screen. Yeah, I type back. Give me a room number. The Scruff stranger obliges.

My chair shudders across the tile as I rise and place my napkin on my plate. “I’m, uh, heading up to the room,” I say, placing my hands on my stomach in what I hope is the universal sign language for I need to poop and I'm more comfortable doing so in the privacy of my own room. “I’ll meet you guys…” Eeyore still has an hour or more to go with his food, I’m guessing. “...Anon.”

The fib elicits only grunts. I dash away to the elevator and head to my assignation.

I can tell by your profile that you’re a giving top. The kind of man who gets off on pleasuring others. The message had popped up on Scruff the night before. I’m susceptible enough to flattery that of course I agreed with every word. I am a giving top. I do enjoy pleasing others. It’s a form of rhetoric, though, that the sender might easily turn into a selfish come-on: if I enjoy pleasing a hole so much, how about I please his? It’s why I’m pleasantly surprised by the follow-up. You please so many others. Isn’t it your turn to be taken care of, once in a while? Don’t you deserve it?

I agree, nodding my head at the phone. Yes, I deserve it. Yes, I please so many others. I'm practically a saint! Maybe it is my turn to be selfish. What did you have in mind? I ask the stranger. His profile arouses me: he’s got handsome good looks and a fit, firm body that he shows off in multiple mirror selfies. His strong chin is accented by a full, dark beard. His eyes are full of humor and intelligence. It’s the kind of profile that I bet shows up on the app’s Most Woofed feature, on the regular.

How about when the time is right, you come up to my room, lay back, lift those legs in the air, and let me lick out that hole for a good long time. I’ll take care of you the way you take care of so many other lucky bottoms. Oh, I’ll take care of your cock, too. I’d be honored to worship that monster. But please. Let me honor that hole of yours first.

Upon seeing the offer, I swallow hard. I don’t get many offers to have my butt munched. The last time had been earlier in the year, when on one of my visits to Virginia a man had ended up eating it for hours in my hotel room—but before that, it hadn’t had a good rimming in an eon.

While I’m considering the best way to accept while not seeming too needy, he messages me again. Tops don’t do all the preparation bottoms usually do. If you bring me that hole natural, I’ll be a real happy boy. What do you think?

I know exactly what he’s asking, of course. Ordinarily, I won't let anyone near my hole unless it's thoroughly scrubbed and given at least a two-knuckle rinse. Poop smells during sex ruin the mood for me. I’d hate knowing I was the source of any bad odor.

But I’m of an age in which I rely on multiple psyllium capsules a day to keep my colon moving. Most of the time, my natural hole isn’t in too different a state from my hole out of the shower. I’m not worried about causing a nasty situation. Yeah, I type out. Let me know when. My hole and I will be ready.

“Damn,” he says, upon opening the door to my knock. He beckons me in. “You’re a tall drink of water.”

I laugh. I’m used to the reaction. “And you’re a handsome devil.”

He has the courtesy to blush a little. “Look who’s talking.” Then, standing on tiptoe, he takes my head between his hands and pulls me down for a kiss. His beard smells of vanilla and amber; a faded mint lingers on his tongue. For a long moment we stand there, just behind the closed door, arms locked about the other, faces mashed, eyes half-closed. “You’re a hell of a good kisser, too.” There’s a grin on his face: he likes not only what he’s seeing, but what he’s so far getting. His fingers wrap around my hand and squeeze while he stands once more on his toes to kiss me. “Come,” he says, tugging me toward the bed. “Let’s see what I can do for you.”

I shiver, and not just from the air conditioning blasting on my bare neck. It’s midday, but he’s drawn the blinds; though the room is dim as dusk, I can still tell it’s an untidy mess, though. On the sofa, someone’s thrown both clothing and electronics. The dresser top is crowded with shopping bags. Someone likes his souvenirs. There’s an open container of THC gummies, sugary and gem-colored, on the desk. The bed is a pristine oasis in the mess. Its white spread has been smoothed down; the pillows have been arrayed in a comfortable position. My host has laid out a black beach towel in the bed’s center, and now he guides me in its direction.

“You ready for someone to focus on you?” he whispers, his fingers slipping from mine.

My eyes don’t move from his as we speak. “Definitely.”

“Give you the attention you need?” He sits me on the bed and urges me to scoot back my butt onto the towel. I manage to get it done without messing up his careful arrangement. “The attention you deserve?”

I’m covered with what prickles like acres of gooseflesh. “Yes,” I whisper, watching him kneel on the bed’s edge and crawl up between my legs. “Please.”

His warm hands slide beneath my tee and press me down. The bearded man’s lips approach mine. As much as I want to taste those kisses again, he teases me by staying near enough that I can feel his breath on my facial hair, but not so close that our lips can meet. Not with his weight pushing me down into the feather pillows. “I am going to worship you,” he promises.

In that moment, I believe him.

He removes my shirt gently, as if helping a sleepy child to his bed. While I shiver in the room’s air conditioning, he coaxes up my hips and shimmies down my shorts and underwear. The former he folds and places in a neat square at the bed’s edge. The latter he crumples into a ball, to study and consider. “Are these yesterday’s?” he wants to know.

I nod. My plans had been to change my trunks when I showered before lunch.

My answer pleases him. With my tacit permission, he buries his nose and mouth into the still-warm cotton and inhales. My scent affects him like the strongest poppers; I can see his pupils dilate with pleasure as the musk hits home. Suddenly, there’s urgency between us. Breathing heavily, he throws my trunks onto the bed as if they’ve angered him; he crosses his arms and yanks his own polo from his hairy chest and yanks the basketball shorts from his waist. Beneath them, he’s wearing a red Nasty Pig jock. The head of his cock, fat and angry, protrudes over its band.

Once again he grabs my shorts and buries his face in them, like a pig at the trough. Maybe those deep huffs he’s taking vacuum out the scent, because several times he searches for new spots to huff. I can see a precum bead at the tip of his cock; when he tosses my trunks onto the floor and begins crawling his way back between my legs, the sticky droplet smears across the hair on his belly. “Let me do this for you,” he begs, as he pries apart my knees. Now he’s the one saying, “Please.”

I nod, giving him my approval. I find my hips being lifted into the air; his hands simultaneously support my weight and pry open my cheeks. I hold onto my ankles for balance. I’m totally exposed: only with klieg lights and a live studio audience could my hole be any more on display.

My sole spectator, though, seems enraptured by the sight of me. “That’s beautiful,” he murmurs, taking deep breaths. Thought I’m still confident in my lack of outright foulness, I know there must be other odors in which he’s reveling. The complex aroma of my balls after a day in the Puerto Vallarta heat. The sweat that’s accumulated and dried in the crease of my thighs. Perhaps even the nutty redolence of my cock, where the skin had been covering the head. He’s relishing them all. “You’re fucking beautiful,” he continues. “I’m going to enjoy this.”

“What do you…?” My question dies in my throat before it’s born, because he’s diving in to my hole with an open mouth. My legs flail; I buckle with such surprise that my bearded friend nearly drops me. While he continues to gnaw at my pucker, I struggle to regain balance. It’s just that his mouth on my ass feels so damned good. He uses the same tricks I employ on my hapless bottoms, rubbing his thick beard over the flesh, blowing a column of cool air on wet skin, biting the cheeks, rasping his teeth over what’s tender. He’s got me wide open and where he wants me. Although he props a pillow just below where I’m balanced on my upper spine, it’s not necessary—I’m holding onto my ankles for dear life, pulling myself open for him. I’m the eager accomplice to my own violation.

Maybe it’s too on-the-nose to say he has a shit-eating grin on his face when he comes up for air, but that’s the phrase that comes to mind. “Perfect,” he tells me. “I love this hole.”

He’s barely begun, and already I’m reduced to whimpers. “Just…do what you want. Please.”

“Naw, I’m serious, dude.” He addresses me with the gravity of a college lecturer, though what comes out of his mouth is far from intellectual. “You probably don’t hear it much. But this hole—is perfect. Not nasty. Just perfect in its natural state. I’m not tasting soap, or disinfectant. I get to taste you. The real you. Fuck, that’s hot.”

I can’t help it. My dick swells larger and flops to the other side of my belly.

He notices, and grabs for it. “Lookit this fat dong. Pussy pleaser.” He pulls it down between my legs until it flattens my balls on other side. “Fuck, lookit this thing. I bet it tastes good, too.”

When he engulfs it to the base, I howl. He’s yanking it to such an uncomfortable angle that the pain mingles with the pleasure his mouth and tongue bring me. It hurts, but I don’t want him to stop. As he sucks, his finger works into my hole. Another snakes in beside it. I’m already so wet from his oral assault that they both slide deep, without resistance.

Shuddering from the multiple sensations shorting every nerve, I clamp my eyes closed. It’s too much for me to take—but take it I do. I don’t get much choice. He throats my hog without gagging, though I can feel muscle and tendon opening and closing around my rigid inches with increasing vigor. When at last he comes up for air, spit flies from his lips to land on my belly. “Damn, fucker,” he rasps. “That’s almost too big to worship.”

I can only respond in wordless grunts and gibberish; there’s too much information flowing through my nervous system for my brain to process. He drives both fingers into my hole with a savage thrust, as if punishing me for challenging his oral skills.

“Don’t worry,” he assures me with a smirk. “It’ll get more attention in a minute.”

Back to my hole his mouth travels. He hauls my hips into the air with the flats of his hands, once more spreading me wide as he hunches over to devour me. Though I keep hold of my ankles, still I buck and thrash with every new sensation. Every now and again he’ll tweak something to give me a little extra pleasure: a tug of the nuts, or a pinch of my nipples, still sore from my encounter with the Dumb Jock. He’ll reach tenderly to lay his hand against my face, or else he’ll cover my skull with his palm and outstretched fingers and shove it into the pillows. It all feels good. Even if I were to protest—and I don’t—it would only come out as whimpers and sighs.

After long minutes he’s back on my cock, again pulling it painfully down at an angle it wouldn’t ordinarily enjoy. The rough treatment only makes it harder, though. I holler when he shoves fingers in my hole again, ramming that sweet spot deep inside until it's aflame. His not caring about my comfort only gives me more pleasure. I’m near tears, but I’m also harder than I’ve been in weeks. 

“You know what would be really hot,” he speculates, wrapping his fingers around my slick, spit-soaked flesh. I grunt. “Getting some toy inside you. Ever had a guy work a fat dildo up that hole? It wouldn’t make you any less of a top. It would just give you a little bit back of that good love you give bottom boys like me.” He fingers drive home once more, making me gasp. “Think you’d like that sometime?”

In this moment, in my awkward geometry of resting on my shoulder blades with my ass propped high and my legs waggling like antennae, with my slobber running from my mouth and his dripping off my cock and out of my asshole, with my functioning brain switched off and my responses on autopilot—in this moment, he could suggest mating me with a miniature donkey and I’d think it a fucking fantastic idea. He takes my wordless consent as an invitation to widen my gape and shoves another finger in there.

It’s this that sends me over the edge, the impact of his probing fingertips ramming against my prostate as my wet hole accepts more of him. When he feels my cock begin to buckle and contract, he dives down to wrap his lips around the base, his throat opening to accommodate my girth. My orgasm is as painful as it is loud, as blinding as it is explosive. At one point I jolt to consciousness to witness my scarlet cock spraying a thick rope of seed onto his forehead and cheek and across his black beard. Then I’m sightless again, overtaken by another wave of the climax.

Even after, when it’s over and my butt meets the mattress at last, lava still flows through my veins. My dick is afire. Wet. Sore. Mistreated, but happy for the abuse. I feel the stranger’s furry chest pressing against my side as he lifts my left arm above my head and laps at my armpit. “Mmmm,” he sighs, smelling of my load. “You taste good here, too.”

“That was—“

With a finger on my lips, he silences my sad attempt to assign words to what’s happened between us. It smells of my ass. Not dirty. Masculine. Natural. “I didn’t say I was done making you feel good, top man,” he teases. “Roll the fuck over.”

At his push, I tumble onto my stomach. He lifts my hips and shoves a pillow beneath them, then wrenches apart my knees.

“I’m still feeling selfish, fucker.” I feel hot breath against my sore hole. My skin tingles at he touch of his beard. “Buckle up, 'cause now I'm really gonna make out with that pucker.”

Once again I sigh, and allow myself to drift away on a wave of sensation. I please so many others, after all. It’s my turn to be taken care of.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Dumb Jock

After a long Sunday morning basking in the Jalisco sun, yesterday’s stresses are starting to melt away.

Saturday had been long and uncomfortable, beginning with the ride a neighbor had provided to JFK. He’d weaved through New York City traffic at top speed like a cabbie on meth, before ejecting me and my carry-on onto the pavement in front of the Jet Blue terminal. Then had been the five-and-a-half hour flight, with customers packed like sardines. Next, the chaos of the Puerto Vallarta airport as for another two hours I wended my way through immigration and customs. The airport shuttle to the resort over the Zona Romántica’s cobbles had agitated every bone in my body and shaken loose my teeth. At the hotel, I’d been met with a queue for check-in that had lasted over an hour. I’d ended the day sore, tired, and crabby, convinced my week-long vacation was sure to be a bust.

Today, though, I’m feeling better. I’m settled upon a lounge chair with a view of the many shirtless men congregating around the pool. The Pacific laps at the beach below, its horizon level with my bare toes. I’ve got the diaries of Alan Rickman on my Kindle, and dark shades to cover my eyes. Late in the morning, the bartender has provided me with a drink concocted of seemingly incompatible elements—rosé wine, tequila, a squirt of 7-Up, and some liqueur I can’t identify among them, all of it laced with booze-soaked berries. Though the recipe turns my stomach to think about, the result is undeniably fizzy and, damn it, delicious.

This morning, life is good.

I crush the last of the tart blueberries between my teeth, drain the ice of its dregs, and set the glass down on a table. My feet search blindly for their sandals. It’s lunchtime.

I smile and nod at other men as I wind my way around the pool. Whitney is playing over the sound system, but she’s drowned out by 2 Unlimited blasting at the pool’s deep end. The resort’s director of activities has submerged several stationary bikes beneath the surface for an underwater spin class. Half a dozen game types churn their legs while doggedly listening to him bark orders over a looping soundtrack of “Get Ready for This.”

Too intense for me. I wander into one of the resort’s restaurants, where the lunch buffet is already in full swing. I toss a few tortilla chips on my plate, cover them with a liberal helping of roasted poblanos in crema, help myself to some short ribs simmered in a spicy red sauce, and find myself a table.

I’ve settled down with a napkin on my lap when I see him. He’s twenty feet away, watching me with large blue eyes. A barrel-chested brute of a man, sitting by himself, tablet propped in front of him. He’s got a head big and smooth as a melon. A salt-and-pepper mustache droops over his lips. Beefy thighs scissor restlessly beneath the table; his feet, larger and thicker than my own, have slipped from their flip-flops. From muscular shoulders hangs a tank top, black, emblazoned with the words: DUMB JOCK. Honestly—he looks like he fits the description. One of his nipples peeks around the cotton’s edge.

By the time I’m enough over the surprise of his eyes locked on mine, he’s already returned to his book. Soon enough, though, he peeks up again. From across the tables and chairs, our glances entwine. I smile. He nods back, face sober, then focuses once more on his reading.

That’s all right, I tell myself. The week is just starting.

All afternoon, out on the beach, I’ve been watching a trio of genial hounds,. Sometimes the three come together and chase after gulls in the surf; at other points, they separate to nap in the sun. There’s one dog in particular who’s super-friendly. I’ve watched the fawn-colored terrier pad his way across the sand to unsuspecting tourists in their lounge chairs, to hop up between some surprised, suntanning tourist’s legs, then curl up for a nap. Or he’ll pant and wag his tail and demand petting and praise. I don’t know to whom the dog belongs, if anyone. It’s possible he’s living off the generosity of hotel visitors. The staff have a name for him, though, and don’t seem to object when he sits near the outdoors luncheon barbecue, tail still awag, patiently waiting for scraps to be tossed his way.

Later that night, there’s a show across the street in the hotel’s conference center. I’ve been watching for fifteen minutes, but I’m not feeling it—the crowd is larger than I’m comfortable with, the noise a little crazy. So I excuse myself to my friends and step outside, where I’m alone. Or nearly alone, anyway. “Well, hello,” I say, to the handsome lad waiting outdoors.

It’s the dog from the beach, his behind planted on the brick pavement, liquid eyes squeezed in my direction. It’s as if he’s been waiting for me.

“I’m heading back to the hotel,” I tell him. He immediately stands, turns as if he’s going to cross the street, and looks over his shoulder, waiting for me to follow. “No, not across traffic,” I say, automatically worried over a dog that’s not mine. The rush of automobiles in front of the hotel can be crazy; the staff have repeatedly warned guests that it’s much safer to take an underground walkway that wends its way beneath the avenue above to the hotel’s lowest level. It’s not the shortest distance between two points by a long shot, but I don’t want to be responsible for a strange animal getting struck by a car. “There’s a…you know.”

The dog seems to understand what I mean, even though I haven’t moved a muscle. He’s already changed direction, down the sloping sidewalk to the stairway zig-zagging beneath the street.

“Well, heck. Wait for me,” I exclaim, trying to catch up.

The dog stays close by my side the entire walk back, as if I’ve always been his human. He knows this route. “All right,” I tell him, when he looks over his shoulder as I fish my phone from my shorts. “I’m coming.”

There’s a message on Scruff. I recognize the face instantly. It’s Dumb Jock, staring at me from his profile with the mild resentment of someone posing for a prison mugshot. His two other shots are equally sober. I think I saw you at lunch today, he’s written.

“Hang on again,” I tell the dog, because I am the kind of person who talks to animals as if they comprehend. He automatically sits, tail still in motion. Yeah, I saw you too. What’s up?

You doing anything? I’m alone in my room.

I had planned to head back to my own room and relax a little, but the unexpected opportunity gives me pause. I look at the dog, who regards me with such loving eyes that I begin wondering if I might be able to smuggle him back to the U.S. at week’s end. I can come right up.

Dumb Jock sends me a room number that I commit to memory. “Let’s go,” I tell the dog.

He’s already ahead of me, though, showing me the path beyond the brick steps beyond the hotel’s loading dock. I catch up, and amiably we walk down the last slope to an open area at the resort’s lowest level. The central elevators sit only a dozen feet to the right; in an open-air corridor that leads to the pools and the ocean beyond, staff members are setting up tables and draping them with cloths to make an ofrienda for the Day of the Dead, two days hence.

“Well, this is where I leave you,” I tell the dog. He responds by panting, weaving a path around my legs, then bounding past the ofrienda for the beach. Such a good boy. I already miss him.

I haven’t even finished knocking when Dumb Jock answers his door. The first thing I notice about him isn’t that he’s still wearing the same tank top I’d seen him in earlier that day. Not a stitch of anything else. Also, that he’s a good two inches taller than I. Ordinarily, I hate that. I’m used to being the tallest in any room. Stupid as it is, I’m always slighted when someone’s genetics have the effrontery to overtake my own.

But Dumb Jock looks at me with the same liquid eyes as my canine companion of a few minutes before. I swear that if he had one, his tail would be wagging. “Hey.” His bass is as low as I’d imagined, but also much softer.

I say nothing. Instead, I place a hand on his chest and push him backward, so that he stumbles over the threshold. The door swings shut behind us. Against the wall I push this stranger, tilting my head upward. He takes the bait, covering my lips with his own. Our mouths open; our bodies press tight against the other. His arms circle around my waist. I snake an arm behind his head and cup his smooth dome, pulling him into me. From deep in his chest, a groan travels, rumbling the flesh where we connect.

We’ve never spoken before. I haven’t even learned the Dumb Jock’s name. But from the way he melts into me as I kiss him deeply, I know the man. From his pleased huff he makes as I push him against the wall once more, and the way those big eyes open to drink me in, I take his measure. He’s a man too often forced into the dominant role because of his size. He’s a man whom others expect to take charge, when instead he wants to be taken care of. With that shirt he’s wearing, he’s proclaiming far and wide what he wants: to be treated like a dumb jock, a piece of meat. All brawn, all flesh—no intellect.

In the dark corridor leading from door to bed, I grab his wrists and pin them next to his shoulders. I stare him in the eyes. “So. What were you reading at lunch today?”

The question catches him off guard. He has to clear his throat and switch on his thoughts again. When he shares the name of Adrian Tchaikovsky, the British science fiction writer, I nod, recognizing it. We stare at each other in the dim light for a moment.

“Some pretty big words in that book. Especially for a…dumb jock,” I say, my voice level.

He sags in my grip. Gratitude shines in his gaze. I can see his brain flicker off once more as I kiss him again.

He skims the t-shirt from my torso and lets it fall to the floor. When I kick off my flip-flops, they tumble into the bathroom behind us. He’s already naked from the waist down; his rigid cock pokes against me as he attempts to slide down my shorts and trunks together without breaking our deep kiss. I have to pull away in order to strip off that tank top he’s wearing. By the time I lead him from the little hall to the bed beyond, our clothing is strewn on the floor, as tangled together as we are when we hit the mattress.

Once he’s on his back, I establish my dominance by raising my right fingers to my mouth. Inside their curl I nestle as much spit as I can produce. Dumb Jock’s legs are already spread wide when my fingers move to his hole. I can see his toes curl when the payload reaches its target. “Fuck,” he breathes.

“Oh, we will.” I promise. Then, after a pause, “Eventually.”

Naked, his body is impressive. He’s not ripped, but a lot of gym time has gone into sculpting the mounds here, the ropy coils there, the man-tits that had tented the tank I’d first seen him in. Compared to him, I’m a slob. But I’m the slob who’s making him feel good, with my fingers stretching and clawing at the sensitive spot between his cheeks. The lids of his eyes hang heavy, as if he’s falling asleep. Yet throughout my manipulations, he writhes and moans with pleasure, never more awake, never more alive.

“You’re a pretty boy, aren’t you,” I tell him. Some last shred of modesty prevents him from agreeing, but I nod and give him permission. “Say it. You’re a pretty boy.”

“I’m a pretty boy, sir,” he whispers. As reward, my index and middle finger dive deep into his moist hole, eliciting a jolt of electricity that sends him into a fit of shuddering. I can almost feel the residual crackle from his skin. “I’m just a fuckin’ pretty boy.”

“A dumb jock.”

“I’m a dumb jock, sir. A fuckin’ stupid jock.”

“Made for cock.”

Those weighted lids widen. “Made for your cock.”

“Maybe,” I say, pleased. “But you don’t even know me. I’m just some stranger you saw in a foreign country, one day. You don’t even know my name.” I can tell he’s struggling, trying to figure out if he should ask, but I go on. “You’re made for cock. You don’t care if it’s some dude you don’t know. You’re just a stupid jock who needs something thick and hard filling that hole. Right?”

He nods, desperate to share his agreement. In this moment, this quiet moment, long after the sun has set over the ocean just outside his window, when the pool area is dormant and the hotel itself silent, I’m saying the things he wants to hear and he loves me for it. I watch his lips struggle to find a reply good enough, smart enough.

I don’t give him the opportunity. Though he’s taller and bigger than I, when I grab an ankle and pivot it around, he instantly flips onto his abdomen as if made of tissue paper and popsicle sticks. He spreads his legs and sets his ass high, like a good boy. When I grab the hairy cheeks, he gasps, seizes a pillow, and hangs on for dear life. I dive in.

For long minutes I assault his hole with my mouth. He pleads with me in wordless syllables when my lips and tongue work their wet magic on the pink flesh; he protests when I rasp my mustache and beard across the slick surface. From time to time, I’ll give his cheeks a light bite, or I might scrape my teeth across their expanse and occasionally harvest a hair between them. He participates in his own use by wresting his cheeks apart with his own paws, to give me as much access as he can.

“How’s that feel?” I ask. Not because I don’t already know the answer—because I want to hear him say it.

“Oh god,” is all he can muster.

“What’s that?”

“I love it,” he huffs. “I fucking love it, sir.”

Between his tree trunk thighs I kneel. My erect cock points at its destination. “Still didn’t hear you.”

“I fucking love it, sir!

My hands plant themselves on either side of his rib cage; now my knees are on either side of his hipbones. The head of my dick plants its sticky kiss at the base of his spine. “You ready to be fucked, dumb jock?”

The musclebound bottom buries his face in the pillow. “Yes sir.”

My mouth hovers next to his ear, now. “Nah,” I tell him. “You’re not going to take it like that, eyes closed, face covered.” He turns his head and peers at me through slits. “Sit on it.”

“Yes sir!”

We switch positions. He arranges the pillows to support me, then carefully lays me in them as if I’m something precious. I use my thumbs to point my cock straight in the air. “Look at it, first,” I order. “Look at what you’re gonna be taking.”

Now he’s kneeling over me. He’s trembling to spear himself onto my meat, but he obeys and looks down.

“No. Get real close.” He slides back and brings himself to eye level with it. I swat him away when he tries to grab for it. “What do you see?”

“It’s beautiful.” He’s close enough that I can feel the heat of his breath, just below the head. “Fuck. It’s so big. I knew you’d be big.”

“Big enough for a big ol’ dick-hungry stupid jock like you?” He nods, entranced. I’m turned on by the steadiness of his gaze. My erection swells; it deepens an even darker shade of red. Another drop of precum oozes out. I like showing off for this pretty boy. “Lick it. Just the tip.”

“Yes sir.” His tongue flicks out and catches the dewdrop balanced on the slit. He laps it down with the deep thirst of a dog at his bowl on an August scorcher. “Thank you, sir.”

“Now.” I give him a nod, and make a show of applying more spit to my inches. “You may sit on it.”

It takes only a moment for him to reposition himself so that he’s poised over the invading inches, and even less time for him to take it to the balls. His hole is wet and loose enough that I slide into his warm depths without resistance.

“There you go,” I say, soft and low. His head is raised to the ceiling, his eyes closed, once again. “Look at me.” He’s too lost in his pleasure to heed. This time I reach up and squeeze both nipples. Ever since one of them peeked out at me, during lunch that afternoon, I’ve been planning exactly what I intend to do to those pink, prominent nipples, each like a fat eraser tip. I know at that size, they’re well-worked. Abused, even. I pinch them tight between my thumb and index finger, commanding attention. “Look at me,” I repeat.

He obeys.

Once again, I feel every muscle in his body tense and release, tense and release so rapidly that they express as quivering. The electricity sets those sleepy eyes alight. I twist and squeeze the plugs of flesh between my fingers, knowing how good it must feel to have them savaged. “Look at me while I’m inside you,” I tell him.

With a rush of motion, he leans down to kiss me. The hollows of his eyes are moist with tears. “Thank you,” he says, as I grind into his hole. “Thank you, sir. It feels so good. Thank you.”

I haven’t let go of his fat nipples. They’re so long, they might wrap around my fingertips. I’m certainly tugging them as if I intend to pry them from his tits, and he’s only responded with adoration for the abuse. “Good boy,” I tell him, when he shudders and jerks to a particularly brutal squeeze. I wish I had a handy pair of alligator clips to tame those things. “Do mine,” I urge.

My own nipples are flat; they don’t get the attention they need or deserve. But I love them bitten, and chewed on, and squeezed. “Yes, sir.”

“Harder.” I can tell he’s afraid to let loose, even though I’m applying twenty times the force to his. “Come on, son. Hurt them.”

We’re staring into each other’s eyes once more, unblinking, intense. He obeys, crushing my nipples between his thick fingers, trying to gauge where the threshold lies for me between pure pleasure and the beginnings of pain.

So far, though, I’m only experiencing intense gratification. He’s doing exactly what I asked: hurting me, though in a way I need and want. “God, yes,” I hiss. “Good boy.”

“Thank you, sir.” He doubles down on the ill-treatment of my nipples, only inspiring me to dig my nails into his.

This is how we fuck—eyes locked, fingers affixed to each other’s chests, causing each other suffering to increase our pleasure. Sometimes I’m the one doing the thrusting while his muscles quake with sensation; sometimes he rides while I bask upon waves of pure sensation. From time to time, we kiss. I welcome those moments of sweetness as much as I love the pain he’s steadily applying at my command.

I don’t protest, though, when he lets loose of my nipples and grabs his own cock. “I’m close,” he says, beating furiously. Perhaps it’s the combination of sensation and torment that’s brought him to the edge; he certainly hasn’t been touching himself before.

“Do it,” I tell him. “Spray it on me.”

Scarcely are the words out of my mouth than he lets loose. I’m showered in what feels like dozens of individual tiny droplets of semen from chin to groin. His hole contracts and loosens around my cock, seeming to take me even more deeply. “Yes,” I tell him. Then, “Please. Just like that.”

Something about the slackness of his hole turns me on, in those moments immediately after he shoots. The feel of his fingers pinching and massaging my nipples yet again amplifies my need. “Please come in me,” he begs, shaking his head as if in disbelief. “Please, sir.”

I don’t need much begging. He holds still as I rabbit-thrust inside him, rapidly using his innermost ring as my personal fleshlight. My own orgasm swiftly follows, setting my cock so on fire. I can’t tell when my ejaculation begins or ends. All I know, as the haze fades, is that I have to lay my hands atop his to urge him from mauling my nipples any further. If I’m able to wear a shirt for the rest of the week without wincing, it’ll be a miracle.

He’s still regarding me when I come to. “That was amazing, sir.” There’s a big, broad, beautiful curve upward to his lips. I’m taken aback to think that until now, I’ve never seen this stranger smile.

“Thank you,” I tell him. “I really needed that.”

He smiles as we disentangle ourselves and mop each other with a hand towel from the bathroom, and as we sort through the clothes scattered across the corridor floor. He’s smiling still, once we’ve dressed and stand by the door. His arms lie on my shoulder, extended, gently crossed, as he gives me a deep kiss. “You’re an amazing top.”

“I’m all right.” My drawl is intended to signify that I know, and that I thank him for the compliment.

“You bred the fuck out of me.” He grins now, exposing even white teeth. Then, “Thank you. Good night. I hope I see you again this week.”

I nod and return his final kiss before making my exit. “Enjoy your book,” I say as farewell, then add, with an affection he’s earned, “Dumb jock.”

Friday, November 18, 2022

No Guilt

The man’s fingers slip beneath the elastic of my waistband. Hairy knuckles graze my skin. I gasp at the touch. “Don’t freak out.” His voice is low. Reassuring. Gentle, even. “I’m gonna pull down these sweats, real slow. I just want to look at that big daddy hog you’re hiding under there. Okay?”

I hesitate, then nod my head. “Yeah,” I stammer out. “Sure. Whatever.”

Our eyes meet. Lock. Bore into each other. “I’m gonna take real good care of you, buddy. You’ll see.”

I take a deep, deep breath and release it with a convincing shudder. “Do it,” I order.

My new friend is a compact bulldog of a man. Big, broad forehead under a thatch of wavy dark hair. Beneath a thin layer of beard, a brutish jaw. Stubby, thick hands that help me raise my hips so he can slowly, gingerly lower my joggers to a tangle around my ankles. He’s got the thick build of a former jock. I wouldn’t exactly say he’s the body builder that he’s advertised himself as, but in the muscle tee with the sleeves ripped from the seams, he’s able to show off some impressive work on his shoulders and arms. “You ready?” he asks, now that I’m down to my trunks. I can feel his breath on my belly.

I take a long time to respond. “This is real new to me, bro,” is what I finally say.

“I know. I know.” The man sounds sincere in his concern, even as his fingers outline the distinct bulge my dick is making beneath a layer of black cotton. “I am gonna take real good care of this dick, though. You’re gonna go home to wifey afterwards and wonder why it took you so long to let a dude like me slobber over that big thing.”

There’s plenty of room in the back seat of his BMW X7 with the New York plates. Its rear windows have a dark tint; no one can see in, even with my back against the door and my head on the glass. I look around, though, feigning discomfort. “You sure this place is safe?”

“It’s real quiet. Nobody’s gonna come by.” I wonder how many times he’s done this before. Constricted though my ankles might be, his big barrel chest spreads my knees spread wide. His sprawl looks uncomfortable: he’s got his right knee on the back floor and his left leg hooked over the seat. “You don’t even gotta touch me. C’mon.” Now he’s whispering. Urgent. He rubs his cheek on my erection, hidden beneath the fabric. “Let a man make you feel good, for the first time.”

My heart’s thudding in its cage; my breath is already labored. The sexual tension is thick between us. For a moment, I even forget I’m not what I’m pretending to be. I take one last look around, seeing nothing outside but empty parking lot and a wall of spruce. “Yeah,” I say. “Okay. Do it.”

He pauses for a moment, making certain I won’t change my mind. “It’s only pleasure. There’s no guilt in accepting pleasure. Remember that.” Both his hands tug down my shorts so that my erection flies free and flops against my own skin with a slap. One of his meaty paws wraps around it—seizes it, makes it his prize. When he squeezes, the portion of dick above his knuckles reddens to a deep scarlet. Once again, he stares into my eyes. “Going in, buddy,” he warns me.

I let out a loud and honest groan as his mouth engulfs me.

It’s on Sniffies that he messaged me, earlier that week. Hey buddy, says his initial message. Gonna take a wild guess based on your pic and profile…up until now you’ve been 100% straight, married with kids. Never had a muscular cocksucker like me to take care of you. Think you’re ready to change that?

On the Sniffies map I can see he’s only a couple of miles away, somewhere along the interstate. He’s got a blank, anonymous profile. While I usually don’t respond to those, my curiosity is piqued. What in the world about my profile, posted on a gay cruising site, would make him think I’m one hundred percent straight? The only photo I’ve attached is of my erect dick, shot from above, hanging heavily between my thighs. I’ve stated my age and basic stats, but that’s about it.

He’s messaging again. You probably stroke thinking about getting your first head from a masculine man, don’t you.

I could correct him, certainly. Should I?

I am willing to bet good money that you’re toying with trying a guy’s mouth for the first time in your life. Am I right? If I am, I volunteer. I guarantee you won’t find a better mouth for your first experience.

So far, I’ve not tapped out a fucking word. I haven’t had to. This stranger is presenting me with his hopes, his yearnings, his deepest fantasies, elaborately wrapped and fastened with an especially lurid bow. My choices are to discard his overtures because I dislike blank profiles, or to take his gift for what it is.

I choose the latter. Wow, I reply. I can’t believe how close to the mark you came. Do I know you?

No. But I know your type. I’ve helped a lot of straight bros take that first step. Will you let me help you?

It’s at this point that I have to take a break and start preparing dinner. I boil some shells and stuff them with spinach and cheese. It’s a while before they’re sauced and baking in the oven, but eventually I return to the Sniffies page to discover he’s sent me a couple of photos. One of his face, with that bearded jaw, blunt as a cudgel, and those oversized, anxious eyes. Another of his body, a gym selfie, vascular arm curled and flexed in a mirror, amidst a field of weight benches and exercise machines. He’s the kind of ugly that somehow veers into hot, and my dick responds by swelling at the sight. Come on, he’s written. I know it’s scary but I promise it will be oh. So. Good.

I’ve played the straight guy before, with The Landscaper. I can do it again. Let’s talk, I write back.

“Does that feel good?” he asks. His fist slides up and down over my spit-slick shaft with a grip so firm it’s maddening, as he nurses my nuts with his tongue and his hot breath. “Looks like you’re enjoying it.”

My reply emerges as a whimper. “Yeah.”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’m gonna take care of you, bro.” Once again his mouth opens to encompass my girth. My head bangs against the glass as he goes all the way down. When he comes up for air once more, he clears his throat and rasps, “Damn, you are huge. Want me to keep going?” When I struggle for words, he stares up at me again. “You can say you like it.”

“I love it,is what falls from my lips. Sincere. Genuine. “You’ve got a fucking incredible mouth.”

He likes the praise. I can tell by the way he deep-throats my length. His throat opens up to accommodate the topmost inches both without gagging and without abusing the head. His saliva drips down the shaft to my nuts, where the the droplets trickle and chill my skin. “Better than the wife?” he asks, before plunging down again. I cry out. All the blood in my body seems to have flown into my engorged dick, which looks so fat, so bloated, so wet and red, whenever it emerges on his upstroke. “Better than the wife?” he repeats, this time refusing to continue until I answer.

I’m panting now. “So much better. No fucking comparison.”

“I told you, bud.” Now he’s combining the fist and the torrid interior of his throat. I lock my fingers around the back of his head; his thick dark hair rubs against my palms like a Brillo pad. “Yeah. You really must like it.”

“Don’t stop,” I beg.

But he does. “You’re gonna come down my throat, bud. You’re gonna blow your first load with a dude.”

My chest contracts and expands. “I want it.”

“Yeah?” When I nod, he finally agrees to end the torture of denying me his mouth. “Get ready, buddy.”

It’s a good thing I’m hard as concrete; my dick would otherwise have been mauled by his rough treatment. His fist churns around my shaft, his mouth clamps down, cushioned by his lips. I feel his beard rasp with every stroke. The fingers of his other hand stroke my balls. One of them creeps down my taint and seeks my hole, where it burrows into the warm crack.

It’s the last violation, welcome though it is, that sets me over the edge. “I’m coming,” I warn the stranger. From my depths erupts a gargled, strangled sound that seems overloud in the car’s interior. The noise inspires him to take the entire length of me into his throat. There I throb and shoot what feels like jet after jet of my seed. His finger remains in my hole; his wet hand encircles my nuts, first clamping down upon them, then as my climax subsides, massaging from them the last drops of fluid.

“Shit,” I announce to the roof, my eyes closed. “Shit.”

I can hear the smugness in his voice. “Told you. You good, buddy?”

There’s a distinct contrast to the tone of his voice—deliberately cheerful, like we’re stepping off the tennis court after a rough game—and the gentle, loving what he’s treating my deflating dick. From the console between the front seats, he’s drawn a wet wipe that he’s using to clean me off, dabbing at me with soft strokes. “Yeah,” I breathe. “Real good.”

“You took a big step.” His voice is still matter-of-fact. “Proud of you, dude.”

“Thanks,” I say. He helps me pull up my shorts and my sweats. It’s not until I’m fastened up once more that I gesture to his grown and say, “What about you?”

“Nah.” I can see the stubby erection in his gym shorts, but he doesn’t touch it. “I get my biggest pleasure from servicing straight men like you. I’m real good. Hey,” he adds, as if he’s just thought of it. “We’re gonna do this again. Right? Remember what I told you?”

He’s said a lot of things. I search about in my memory to pick out what he might mean.

“There’s no guilt…”

“There’s no guilt in accepting pleasure,” I echo, as I take a look through the glass around the parking lot, this time for real. No one’s around, so I open up the back door and step out.

“That’s right. No regrets.”

I grin, agreeing with him. “No regrets.”

“Good. We’re doing this again soon,” he says, from inside. I nod and wave, and shut the door behind me.

The insides of my trunks are as humid as a Virginia summer thunderstorm. I feel as if I’ve been assaulted and robbed of my bodily fluids. My legs are a little wobbly as I totter to my car, a good twenty feet away.

But I mean, hell. Why wouldn’t they be? I’ve just lost my man-on-man virginity, after all.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Babyface: Part 2

 (This entry is a continuation of Babyface: Part 1.)

Autumn 1985

My friend Rand finds me outside and around the corner, a couple of minutes later. “Hey, where’d you go?” he asks, before noticing I'm planted on the pavement. My head had been between my knees when I’d heard the approach of his footsteps. His tone changes from plaintive to worried. “You okay? What’s going on?”

Encountering Jim had sent me into a fight-or-flight dilemma. I’d chosen to fly straight out of Beezie’s Records, the door’s mocking Tibetan bells jangling like laughter in my ears. The sight of him activated memories of my incarceration in his closet—my rage and hysteria, the helpless desperation of being trapped and not knowing when or even if I’d be discovered. Four years later, despite the sunshine and the bustle of a city street, I’m once more imprisoned within the crawl space’s tight boundaries. I’m exhausted and hopeless after hours of yelling and tears. The sheer weight of so much darkness seems to break every rib in its cage. Now, as then, I’m rasping for breath. Jim had birthed nightmares that plagued me for weeks and months, and that will continue to haunt me for years to come. He’d done it with a smile and a laugh. He’d gotten away with it.

A hand grasps my shoulder. I startle. Ignoring the traffic roaring by on the busy thoroughfare, Rand squats over the filthy pavement and searches my face. “Are you sick?”

“What? No.” I’m so accustomed to blending my personal life into the background that my panic attack, quiet and still as it is, feels like histrionics. I pull myself together and slip behind the bland facade from which my real self peers out at the world. “Did you get your album? You know, the Allman Brothers?”

Through his thick lenses, Rand blinks at my non sequitur, then holds up empty hands. “No. I turned around and you’d up and disappeared.”

I’m still breathing heavily. I decide to play into it. “Dusty old places like that make my asthma act up.” I don’t have asthma. “Just needed some fresh air, is all.” I’m hoping Rand will leave me alone. All I really want right now is solitude, but my fictional infirmity has made him reluctant to leave. “I’m good. For real. You don’t need to hang around.”

It takes a liberal handful of slick reassurances to urge my friend back to his feet. “Only if you’re sure…”

“I’m heading straight home.” My lies dull the metallic tang panic has left on my tongue. “I’m fine.” I’m well enough to climb to my feet. “You should get to the office. Elisabeth’s usually around this time of day.”

Rand seems to be assessing my fitness, so I bounce on my toes with an energy I don’t feel. Elisabeth is the teaching assistant with whom he’s enamored; the prospect of alone time with her is too tempting to resist. It’s with reluctance, though, that he deems me worthy to be left on my own. “Only if you’re sure.”

I wave him off with smiles and promises. I’m fortunate at this stage in my life, adrift as I feel after college, to have been accepted by his small, academic tribe. Despite my differences, despite holding myself at arm’s-length and never quite letting anyone in, Rand and the other graduate students have embraced me. Grateful as I am for his friendship, right now I need space.

At last, his long legs carry him back in the direction of campus. I should follow. Every instinct informs me the wise thing to do now would be to head home and never return to this third-rate used record store.

Yet there’s no mental scab I’ve ever refrained from picking. My lifelong response to adversity and confrontation is to remain stone-faced before it, unraveling only in my privacy. In fleeing Beezie’s, I have ceded victory to the enemy; nothing irritates me more than the thought that Jim might now be gloating at his victory.

I’ve faced much bigger fears since that day at the tag-end of high school when a man-child left me kicking and yelling inside a locked closet. I’m not a friendless kid any longer. I’m not a kid at all. Heart pounding and face red, I brush myself off, stalk back around the corner, and push through the record shop door.

The bells clank as I enter. Jim still sits behind the counter, looking at Style Weekly. “Oh.” He gives me only the briefest of glances and pulls up the sleeves of his cardigan. “Forget something, did you?”

My mouth opens, ready with a retort. Then I hesitate. I recognize that threadbare cardigan falling from his shoulders. I recognize the plaid shirt billowing beneath it. Earlier I’d registered how oversized they appeared on Jim’s scrawny frame. Jim’s not the type for cable knits, though, nor is L. L. Bean flannel his style. That shabby attire had once belonged to Earl.

Speechless and staring at Jim, I remember Earl lounging in a leather easy chair with that sweater buttoned around his middle, scribbling upon a card a new name, address, and time of assignation. Earl in that very cardigan, padding around his kitchen in slippered feet, making me a late-night grilled cheese, and himself a cup of decaf. The sweater had been new, four or five years ago. Now it looks ratty. Dirty.

With a horrible certainty, I realize something’s happened to Earl.

It’s only been a little more than three years since the gay cancer burrowed its way into my awareness. It feels like a lifetime. Barely a year has passed since scientists announced the scourge’s cause: it wasn’t poppers gone bad, as so many men I’d known had speculated, but a rogue virus. HIV, transmitted through bodily fluids. Rock Hudson had died of it, right at the beginning of the current semester. Although I’ve been hearing on the TV news in recent weeks that scientists have finally developed a test to discover infection in the bloodstream, no such thing has yet reached the public. Not widely. Not here.

In years past, the many expertises gay men cultivated were better suited to the worlds of espionage, or anthropology, or semiotics: how covertly to spy upon a man who’s piqued our interest, to evaluate his body language, to read messages coded in colored bandanas arranged in a back pocket. We arranged rendezvouses in clandestine places without being seen, became adept at distinguishing our own kind from enforcers of the law attempting to entrap us. We all have some proficiency in recognizing each other without word, sound, or often a gesture.

To survive this plague age, we scramble to assimilate new skills. We’re required to be sexual actuaries, to gauge each new encounter with an eye to risks far beyond the familiar. Does our quarry look like a local? Is he a regular good old boy who shops at the Army Navy Store, or does his clothing insinuate trips to a big metropolitan area where the virus spreads unchecked? We all like a good looking man, but is the one we want too good looking? Too in demand, attracting too many questionable partners? Does he cruise like a local, in fits and starts, not too fast or slow? A line had been drawn in 1981 between one era and another. On a summer night in the park four years ago, my outlaw brothers and I would all have been debauched beneath a full moon. To do so now indicates depravity of a type precarious to consider.

We’ve raced, too, to become diagnosticians. Without the benefit of any education, without even really knowing what to look for, we assess every potential partner for disease. We reject a man whose skin is too flushed or too warm to the touch. Our eyes search for lesions, though I have no clear concept of what a lesion might look like. If a man of a certain pallor walks my way, I might swerve to avoid crossing paths. Anything out of the ordinary is frightening and not worth the gamble.

One evening I accompany home a handsome fellow who seems like a safe bet. As he removes his clothes in the light of a table lamp, I can spy bluish bruises covering his body. When he moves close, arousal growing, he's accompanied by a faint, sickly-sweet scent, like a newborn's diaper. I vault from the stranger’s bed and away from his apartment as if my life is threatened.

All our snap judgments are based on faulty understanding. We’re medical imposters, forced into emergency-room rotations before we've cracked our first textbook. Real physicians are scrambling to stay abreast with the newfound virus and its ferocity. How can any layman hope to keep pace?

Not that I stop trying. My nights are often sleepless. I lie awake in my bed, staring blind into the dark, obsessing over every potential omen of my inevitable decline. As I try not to rouse my parents, my fingers travel every inch of my body—not for pleasure, as once they were accustomed, but to check for lumps, for inflammations and flaws. I’ve learned where my lymph nodes lie and prod them until they ache. I trace my hairline, certain the most minute shift might spell my doom. Somewhere I’ve picked up the term ‘night sweats,’ but haven’t learned enough to distinguish them from the ordinary perspiration of a warm Virginia night. A divot on my shin I know is from repeatedly banging into my bed frame worries me daily. I pick and poke at it until it’s tender and redder, reinforcing my worst suspicions.

It’s with my clinician’s eyes that now I appraise Jim. He’d always been a scrawny little shit. The wrists protruding from the cardigan are thinner than I remember, though. Too thin. He’s a scarecrow in those oversized clothes, a bundle of sticks about to clatter into a heap. His color is sallow; around his eyes the skin seems to have sunk and blued; red veins spiderweb the whites. His hair has thinned. He’s trained long strands over a sparse patch.

Jim looks older. Jim looks old, and he should be only, what? In his mid-thirties?

Perhaps sensing my judgment, he narrows his eyes and snaps, “The fuck you looking at?”

Once again, my instincts tell me to flee in the face of hostility, of danger, of probable contagion. I stand my ground, however. “That’s Earl’s sweater, isn't it.”

My soft-spoken observation deflates him. He crosses his arms and stares to the side, refusing to meet my gaze. If we’d been in a standoff, it’s over, with both sides limping away in concession. “So you don’t know. Of course not. You went away. No one thought they’d ever see you again. You never even checked in with him. Why would you, even after everything he did for you?”

I’d gone away to school, I wanted to point out. I keep my mouth shut throughout his provocations.

“She didn’t even let me have a suitcase to pack my clothes.” Jim’s speaking in low tones I must strain to hear. “I had to grab paper grocery bags and the laundry basket. Some of his stuff was in it. Fucking grocery bags. Do you know how long I’d been with him?”

He’s glaring at me, but I’m not the enemy any longer. “A long time.”

“Fifteen years. Fifteen fucking years of putting up with his—“ He presses his knuckles against his lips. His hand’s trembling suppresses whatever might follow. He doesn’t speak again until he’s under control. This time, words spray forth in a concentrated stream, like water from a hose end compressed by a thumb. “A person goes from a kid to an old man in fifteen fucking years. You know? All that…I shouldn’t have called the ambulance when it got bad, but I was…that’s when everything got…real, after the hospital. And she came. From fucking Charleston. He hated Charleston. Hated them. That’s why he was up here. What did they ever do for him? I didn’t even have a suitcase of my own! She wouldn’t let me take my TV. My plants. I had to scream bloody murder to get my checkbook out of the office, and that was my checkbook with my name on it.”

The record shop spins around me. I’m so light-headed that I stagger against one of the waist-high record bins for support. Jim’s grievances, building for years, have at last found an audience, though in a long-standing adversary. He spits his stream of consciousness in rapid fire, sometimes ranting, sometimes trying to wheedle me to his side. As a linear story, it makes no sense. But in its impressionistic way, it’s little different from what I’ve heard whispered by others: a tale of unexpected illness, of long-estranged family whisking away the afflicted, of a survivor being evicted from a home not in his own name. Real as any of our relationships might feel in 1985, in the face of an vindictive family and their lawyers, years of togetherness flicker into ash and smoke, like tissue to a flame.

Jim hasn’t mentioned what might have taken Earl down. He doesn’t have to. One doesn’t name the bogeyman when he crawls out of the cupboard. I have so many questions, though. How long was Earl ill? When did all this happen? What's become of Earl's business? Most important, perhaps most essential: is Earl alive or dead? Because Jim hasn’t said, either way.

I don’t ask these questions, though, because they paralyze me with fear. I don’t ask these questions because, on a very basic level, I’m convinced I might not be able to cope with the answers. Never does it occur to me that some finality might comfort me years down the road. I don’t yet realize how quickly a life's hanging threads accumulate and form knots that neither time nor care can untangle.

Earl wouldn’t be the first of my lovers to die from the virus. That would have been David, the red-headed junior who’d wooed me as a freshman in college, whom I had been too frightened to meet. After his graduation, he’d moved to New York City. I’d read about his death in the alumni magazine this last July. There have been rumors of others. A former customer as a teen—a retired college professor of literature, who liked reading aloud to me from Sterne while I sat naked on his lap, had been rushed to the hospital, accepted no visitors, and then never heard of again. Another man, a habitué of Bryan Park, married, the only person I knew who took vacations to San Francisco for the sex he could find there—vanished, presumed dead. No one knew his real name, to hunt for an obituary. Christ, I used to think Earl so worldly for all his trips to Manhattan, to Key West, to the West Coast.

“Fifteen years of watching little sluts like you roll across his mattress, that’s all I got out of him. And a fucking sweater. You thought you were special? You weren’t. You think going off to some fancy college makes you better than any other whore? It doesn’t.” Outside the shop, through the glass, shadows loom. We both glance at a gaggle of students checking out the posters in the front window. Jim lowers his voice. “So don’t come in here acting the little duchess to me, because…” The door opens. The kids who enter are younger than either of us. The boys are dressed in uniforms of jeans and polo shirts with the collars popped, the girls in flouncy Madonna skirts. Jim rolls his eyes at the sight and finishes his speech before addressing them. “…Because we both know where your precious Earl found you. We’re mostly classic rock and some jazz, guys,” he snipes at the kids, as if he believes they can’t appreciate either. “Good luck finding the stuff you probably like, though.”

Even as I navigate through this thicket of new fears, I recognize how tiring it surely is, being Jim: always to assume the worst of the world, to resent everyone in it for not supplying what he feels he's owed. It must take all his energy, gnawing at grudges. “I’m sorry,” I tell him, meaning it. If I were a more generous person I might try to convey my sincerity with a hand on his, or a hug. But this is the man who had locked me into a closet and left me to suffocate, inspiring years of claustrophobia and nightly torment. Even now, he's calling me a whore. This stiff acknowledgement is the best I can muster.

As I turn to go, he cranes his neck close and issues his benediction in a savage whisper. “It was in him. So it could be in you, too. Don’t think you’re immune.” His glance sweeps over the VCU kids, who are looking through the racks while chattering loudly. “They could crack you open and find it swarming inside. Think about that.”

This time I make my exit slowly, dignity battered, but intact. I never return to Beezie’s—nor do I ever again see or hear anything about Jim. Twice in my life he is the source of long-lasting misery: once four years before, then today. It’s because of him that from now on, when I perform my nightly exploration for lumps and bruises, I can't shake the vision of being rotten within. With a scalpel, doctors could slice me in one smooth motion from stem to stern and discover disease bursting from my seams. In the months to come, as I should be taking my first few tentative steps to building a career, I will not be able to shake this vision of myself as overflowing with foulness and death. Any day now, any moment, what lies dormant might surface upon my skin: I'll bear its mark, and none of my accomplishments will matter. All my studying, my teaching—I wonder when the day will arrive that proves my work was for nothing. Next month? Next week? Tomorrow morning?

This is my life, both now and for the unforeseeable future. I’m all of twenty-one years old and already I divide my life into four distinct acts. The curtain rises on my dewy innocence; Act Two covers the too-brief teen years reveling in both the discovery of sex and the independence I gain in selling it. In Act Three, my college tenure, the tone grows somber as with the eyes of a Cassandra I watch storm clouds gather, yet find no one I can warn.

This day, this encounter, commences what I can only conceive of as the last and longest expanse of the drama. Beyond the horizon it stretches, into the indefinite future, both its and my own conclusion well out of sight. Upon this stage, without benefit of a script, my outlaw brothers and I find ourselves inducted into an army of the dead and the dying. We know the enemy, though it cannot be seen. Our arms are inadequate, our shields shabby.

Over the fallen we march onward. Though to what fresh battle, no one yet knows.