It’s raining again today.
Much to my dismay, I see the sky outside my window. Bleak. Gray. And even with the negative illusion of my dark room that should show that one tiny window as a square of light, it’s more like a faint projection on a blank wall of a Serbian art house film.
I check the clock, it’s barely past seven in the morning, and I will myself up from the sticky, oppressive heat of my bed, which despite the best efforts of my poor, ancient, and overworked air-conditioning unit, feels more like an electric griddle set on low than the dreamy softness that grinning salesboy promised when I bought these sheets. Another day off to a rip-roaring start, to be sure.
Stumbling across my room into the small lav in what could probably be the unsexiest pair of pajamas ever known to man, I flipped a switch and heard a soft moan and a rustle in the bed I just left.
Right. Anton spent the night.
I took a piss, relishing the sound of a steady stream make contact with the toilet water, hoping it would drown out the soft sound of the rain against my window. As I relieved myself, I started to trace back my steps last night.
He smiles: “Like, ‘Wag mo akong ma-Terry Terry!”
We laugh. Mental note: Please don’t do that, like ever again.
“Mike said you’d be here on time. Sorry, I was caught up in traffic.”
Not an excuse for being almost 40 minutes late, but whatever. “It’s alright, I work in the building, so I went down when I could and I figured I could read a bit while waiting.”
He plops down on the sofa directly across me. He’s totally not what our mutual friend Mike said he would be. For one he’s NOT 5’10’, more like pushing 5’8” tops. As a tall-ish guy (About 6’ tall), I do try to date people within my height range.
“What are you reading?”
“Some stuff for work.” He makes a face.
“Really, put those away, you’re off the clock, right?”
I put my papers back in my bag. I will concede this point. “I’m sorry. You have my undivided attention.”
He takes a sip from the bottle of beer that somehow materialized in front of him at one point. “Good. I have been reading up on the Queen and her deliciously sordid relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton.”
“Oh really now? And?”
“I haven’t made my mind on it as of the moment.” He continues. Looking dead straight into my eyes.
I confess, I averted my gaze.
“So how do you know Mike?”
“I knew Michelle from college, when they got married, I was dead set against it. Mike is just too short for Mich.”
It took all the strength I had in me not to laugh in his face.
“Anyway, Mike seems to have taken it upon himself to overhaul my sex life, so he offered to introduce me to you.”
I take a sip from my drink, and arched my eyebrows. “And why would he do that? Is there something particular about your sex life that needs fixing?”
He laughs and pats his belly. “I seem to have an awful knack of devouring the souls of all I come across, at least in his estimation. I work in advertising, so I guess he’s right.”
“So tread carefully is the name of the game, is it?”
“You can say that. We can also call it bad publicity and fake news.”
“You sir, are a hot mess it seems.” I raise my drink to him with a slight smirk.
“And you sir, are not in a better place, believe me.” He raises his beer and gently clinks it against my glass.
I take off my pajamas and step into the shower. I turn the tap and turn around to let the water run in cold rivulets down my back. I wonder what fresh hell awaits me back at the office.
I hate Mondays. As Garfield would say, but unlike that goddamn cat, I actually have a reason to hate it. I start to lather up my hair and beard, and I work my way down. Making quick work of washing up the sticky scent of sweat, gunk, and sex. I took care to wash that nasty business back there. I never enjoyed being on the receiving end of penetrative sex: it always makes me uncomfortable the next day. Like legitimately makes me feel out of sorts: like my back is all out of alignment. If it’s a psychological thing, or an age thing, I don’t know exactly: but I keep forgetting to stretch before getting into it. And I have a theory that this hamster is trying to kill me by jackhammering me every time we meet.
“So, Terry: Apart from your riveting work as an auditor for one of our country’s finest banking institutions, and a possible history of homicide involving your ex-husband’s mistress, what should I know about you?”
“Very funny, something tells me, that is your favorite movie.”
“If it is, will you hate me?”
“No. I wouldn’t. But you will be judged. Though I haven’t really seen it.”
“Then I am judging you. Maricel Soriano is a national treasure.”
I snort. This conversation is absurd.
“Oh, mock me all you want. It doesn’t make you superior. Sexier, perhaps, but not superior.”
I snort again. Loudly. People from the other table look at me.
“Okay, significantly less sexy. Are you retarded?”
We both laugh.
“I must say you are turning out to be so much more vexing than Mike initially led me to believe.”
He smiles, “Well, I do try.”
“Room for one more?”
I turn my head and open my eyes to look at him, framed by the door.
“Don’t be ridiculous. This shower wouldn’t fit us both. Go read a magazine or something. I’m still pondering the secrets of the universe.”
He doesn’t listen (as always), and proceeds to slowly peel off his clothes: First that ratty t-shirt, and then those boxer briefs. I stare at him, taking in the lurid little striptease. He steps into the shower and I feel the coarse brush of his chest hair against my back. His arms, thick and strong envelop me in their embrace.
“So troublesome. Must you invade my every waking moment?”
“I intend to invade every inch of you. Must you protest so vigorously every time I do?”
His hands begin to unravel each excuse, each justification. I feel the heat rising in my body for the first time today, as I felt his cock firmly press in between my thighs. I turn around, not without much difficulty, in the small space we now share, and I face him. His eyes glow like obsidian, his lips taste like cocaine.
And 5’8″ seems to be the perfect height after all.
“Go ahead. You can say it. Mike warned me about your height preference.”
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I made a mental note to kill Mike later.
“It’s not a requirement.”
“That’s good to hear. It would’ve been a shame, you know.”
“Because I only date people who are 6’ and taller. So you’re the perfect height. If we don’t hit it off, I’ll have to find some other giant to climb.”
“Given that the average height for our people are around 5’8″…”
“That implies that you don’t get to climb very often. How do I know if you can climb well enough?”
“Oh I can climb pretty well, thank you very much. You’ll just have to trust me on that.”
“Well, we’ll see.”
Para kay Jennifer
For Neal Roxas, may people remember the case of Jennifer Laude as a symbol of injustice; and of a world that continues to hate the beauty of LGBTQIA people.
By Neal Roxas
maalala mo sana siya
hindi sa bakas ng mahigpit
na sakal sa kanyang leeg
o sa natapyas nyang tenga,
hindi sa pagkalublob sa inodoro
o sa puting kumot na huling
yumakap sa kanya bago—
maalala mo sana siya
sa malago niyang buhok,
mapungay na mga mata,
hatid ang init nang sya ay makilala,
sa ingay ng kalsada,
at sa sigaw ng masa,
ng pumikit-dumilat na hustisya
sa isang lipunang hindi yumayakap
kundi nananakal ng magaganda
Marlon Sy writes about finding love even when one is not looking; and not wanting to let go when that love is found.
By Marlon Sy
Ah, sa akin ika’y buwan,
sa gabi ng buhay ika’y tanglaw.
At sa liwanag ng umaga, nandiyan, kasama ng panginoong araw.
Kaloob ka: God gave me you.
Dumating di hinanap.
May pusong walang pagpanggap.
Uhaw kong damdamin, binusog.
Tulog kong buhay, nagkamalay.
Di maabot ngunit damang dama.
Magkalayo ngunit magkaugnay.
Buwan, ay ayatin ka!
Elmo Ellezo writes about the apathy of those who have more in life, even if – by choosing to lend a hand – they can help effect changes in other people’s lives.
Ni Elmo Ellezo
May mga taong umangat lang sa buhay,
parang naging katulad ng bahay na bato ang puso.
Kasing tigas at wala ng pakiramdam sa iba.
posteng bato na naghihiwalay sa kanilang sa sarili
sa reyalidad ng malawak na mundo.
Bingi sa mga ingay sa labas.
Binulag ng mga bakod at posteng bato,
ayaw tumanaw sa kabilang bahagi ng mundo.
Gwardyado, akala moy kaaway ang mundo,
Ayaw makibahagi oh umambag sa mga walang laman ang kaldero
Ayaw makipagkapwa tao.
Naka-kandado pati ang kanilang mga puso.
Tanging paraan na silay mamulat ay delubyo.
Kapag tinumbahan na ng mga posteng bato.
Kapag binaha na katulad ng mga nakatira sa estero.
Kapag nagutom, namatayan na katulad ng mga ordinaryong tao.
Anong klaseng mundo ang nililikha nitong mga posteng bato.
Mga kaaway ang mahihirap at walang tiwala sa kapwa tao.
Makasariling pag uugali at walang pakialam sa mundo.
Sana maibalik ang aking pagkabata.
Walang mga poste at bakod na naghihiwalay sa sinasabi kong kapwa.
Kung saan ang daigdig ay pinagsasaluhan ng lahat.
May pagkakaugnay ugnay, tiwala at pakikipag kapwa.
Munti kong panalangin ay mawasak ang mga posteng bato.
Mga posteng batong isinasara ng bakal at mga kandado.
Mga posteng batong nagpapamanhid sa kalagayan ng dumadaing na mundo.
Ang posteng batong naglilikha ng taong bato ang puso.
“Babae po ako. Ngunit babae rin ang gusto ko. Pang-lalake man ang kilos at anyo. Sa babae pa rin naman ako nagbabanyo.”
Pilit kong iniisip
Kung inisip ko at pinilit
Kung nagbago ba ang ihip
Ng hangin noong ako’y isang paslit
Ang paghanga sa kapwa babae
Ang kilos, lakad at pananalita
Na animo’y lalake
Na nagsimula noong ako’y bata
Tinanong ako kung ako ba’y humanga
Sa mga guwapo at pogi
At ang sagot ko’y oo nga
Pagtangi ay sa babae lagi
Ni minsa’y hindi kinilig
Kahit na noong panahong
Maliit pa ang mga bisig
Suot ay bestida at hindi lontang maong
Matagal na proseso
Matagal na nilihim
Dahil sa sariling paninimdim
Hanggang ako’y namulat
At seryosong nagkagusto
At sinimulang isulat
Nilahad, ipinusta pati pamato
Wala naman kasing nagturo
Naramdaman na lang
Tapos para akong tuliro
Noong ako’y pitong taong gulang
Kaibigan ko siya
Sa ikalawang baitang
Kapag kasama’y masaya
Kapag naka-akbay ay lutang
Marami nang napusuan
Panahon na ang lumipas
Gusto’y babae pa rin naman
Sa pagkatorpe’y walang kupas
Madalas sakin ay tinatanong
Kahit hanggang opisina
Siguro sila’y hilong talilong
Kung Ma’am o Sir ang itatawag twina
Babae po ako
Ngunit babae rin ang gusto ko
Pang-lalake man ang kilos at anyo
Sa babae pa rin naman ako nagbabanyo
Lesbiyana kung ako’y tawagin
Tomboy sa kanto namin
Ate sa kapatid ko
Tita sa mga pamangkin ko
Eto ang aking SOGIE
Lesbiyana – Sexual Orientation
Babae – Gender Identity
Butch/masculine – Gender Expression
Hindi napipilit ang puso
Kusang tumitibok sa ritmo
Hindi ito parang damit na nakiki-uso
Hindi sinisino kahit amo
Masarap sanang maging malaya magmahal
Malaya sa mga matang mapanghusga
Malimit pang nasasabihan ng hangal
Madalas pang tumanggap ng pang-aalipusta
Pantay-pantay na karapatan
Dinggin sana ang aming hiling
Hindi espesyal ang aming panawagan
Sugat ng diskriminasyo’y laging nasasaling
Lungkot ay aking ramdam
Kapag hindi niyo maintidihan
Sana hindi niyo maranasan
Ang araw-araw naming pinagdadaanan
Kapag maganda o guwapo sa paningin
Sayang ang palaging sinasabi sa amin
Pero bakit sayang ang sasabihin?
Ano bang nasayang sa amin?
Isa po akong babae
Mahigit apat na pung taong gulang na
Mukha lang pong lalake
Isa pong lesbiyana
Good As New
On the things that we’re willing to do to support the people we love…
I push the key into the slot and twist it until I hear a click.
The door opens and I see there’s just the odd bill, and upon reaching in, I found a couple of letters. I stuff them inside my bag and I close our mailbox.
“Good morning, Gunther!” I turn around and see my neighbor, John, and his Bullmastiff, Boomer. “Anything interesting in there today?” He grinned, showing a perfect set of pearly teeth.
“Nah, man. Just the same old
stuff.” Boomer approached and nuzzled against my hand. I reached over and
petted him. “Boomer’s being especially friendly today?”
“Yeah. We’re on our way to the park. Do you and Erik wanna come with? We can get some coffee on the way.” He was built like his dog. Thick, with a boxy, compact body with massive, muscular arms and legs with almost no neck to speak of; he stood there with that bright smile of his. Dark brown hair cropped neat and short, with a full beard that came almost to his big, blue, puppy dog eyes.
“Sorry, man, I’m working tonight. Maybe next time.”
He grinned, and scratched Boomer’s ears, “No worries, next time then. See you later!” He pulls on Boomer’s leash and they make their way out of the building.
On any given day, I’d have gone out that door and walked his dog with him. On any given day, I’d have gotten coffee with him, and I’d know how he takes his coffee after years of living next to each other. On any given day, I’d have chatted and laughed with him in the park. But not today or any other day, I suppose. Not if he knew what I did for a living.
I see him standing outside by the curb, looking at his phone, and for a moment I allowed myself to hope, but as he started to walk away, I started to go up the steps to our apartment.
“Gunther, is that you?”
“Yeah!” I yell out as I drop my keys in a small azure dish on the table by the door. The apartment smelled of a heady mix of coffee and sandalwood.
Erik pops out his head of the kitchen. “Anything in the box?” I shrugged “Just the usual. I’ll leave it on the table and sort it later.” I went to the couch and slumped into it with a belabored groan.
Erik comes out of the kitchen and chuckles as he sat down on the couch with two mugs of coffee. He sets on in front of me on the center table, and sips on the other. “Rough night?” I moan in response. He began to leaf through the morning paper as he sipped his coffee. He turns to me, “John dropped by this morning, by the way, him and that dog of his. He was wondering if we wanted to go out tonight.” He paused for a bit. “I really think he wants a threesome with the both of us. What do you think? He’s not unfortunate looking.”
I sit up and take the mug he set in front of me.
“Well, threesomes are extra, you know.” He looks at me above his horn-rimmed glasses. “How much extra?”
“Wouldn’t you wanna know…”
“Well, for future reference.”
I stretched out and curled up on the couch like a lazy cat. “I wish I could lie down here forever. I have another appointment later tonight.” Erik stands up, and a takes both mugs. “You better rest, but try not to stay in bed all day. I have an appointment with Dr. Jacob today. I think I’m getting better.” He shuffles off to the kitchen and I could hear the water running as he washes up. I get up and follow him. He was hunched over the sink and I sit by the small banquette.
“How are you feeling today?”
“Much better.” He looks back down on the sink. “I really wish you’d stop doing this, though.” He said as he kept on washing dishes. “You’re a smart guy. I’m sure there’s something out there for you.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Well, the money is good, and it’s fun. I will get out eventually, of course.” I took out a cigarette from my pocket and lit one. “And where is this coming from?”
“It’s coming from a place of caring, asshole. I worry about you.”
I took a hit on my cigarette and let out a long steady stream of smoke. “I’ll be fine. You know how I work.”
He sighs and he finishes the dishes and turns around, dishcloth in hand. “I know, but that does not change the fact that what you’re doing is fairly risky. I don’t want you getting sick. Especially not on my account…”
“I’ll be fine. We’ve been through this.”
He throws his hands up. “I’m
just saying there are opportunities out there…”
“Geez, Erik, again: where is all this coming from?”
He looks down at his shoes, his hands absent-mindedly drying a mug. “I’m just worried about you, that’s all.”
“Well don’t, Erik.” He looks at me, and I look straight into his eyes. “If you have a problem with what I do, by all means let me know.” I put out the cigarette and toss it in the ashtray in the middle of our breakfast nook. “I appreciate the concern, but I am fine.” He looks at me and softly mutters okay.
I stood and left him there, still holding on to the mug, and went to my room, closing the door behind me.
My hand makes contact on his slick skin of his bare buttocks with a loud thwack, and waves of pleasure bubble up and escape from his lips like wisps of steam. I feel myself totally engulfed by his warmth. The air in the room was heavy with the scent of musk and sex.
“Harder! God, fuck me harder!”
I grumble in response as I instinctively adjust my hips to gain better leverage as I bring my weight forcefully, but gracefully, down on him. I feel his insides twitch and contract like it was sucking me further and further in. With every down stroke, I could hear the bed creak in protest, the chains that held his arms taut, spread out before me, jingled like the sleigh bells, their tone high and crisp.
I held on to the tense muscles on his shoulders, contorted in the struggle against the leather cuffs that bound him, and my relentless and unchanging rhythm on top of him. His eyes undoubtedly burning under that heavy blindfold that was clasped behind his head, he turns his head to the side with a look of abject bliss and pain on his face.
I bury my hands in the silk sheets that covered the bed on both sides of his torso. I feel my breath quicken as I change my position. I hear him gasp as I pull all the way to very tip of my cock and pull out with a soft pop. He whimpers into his pillows.
I take the bottle of lube from the nightstand and pump out a couple of globs on my fingers, and smear it in between his buttcheeks. He moans in pleasure as my fingertips grazed his raw, pink asshole. I wipe the rest of the lube on myself. I spread him apart and come up to the side of his face. I slip myself in between his thighs and lay myself down on his broad, muscular back. I feel the sweat from him stick to my chest, the soft hair on his back was matted into swirling, abstract forms that sharply contrasted with his pale complexion. I place my lips near the side of his face. He is shuddering in anticipation. He wants me. He wants all of me. I whisper into his ear.
I hear him suck in air.
“Goddammit! I want you to make me bleed!”
I smile, as I always do at this moment, and I whisper; “Okay.”
I reach across him and undo the buckle on the leather cuff on his left wrist, and then the right. I flip him over and pull his hips closer, carefully guiding his legs on either side of my torso as I position myself between them. I take a deep breath and bear down, hip first in a massive thrust that knocks the wind out of him momentarily. A small groan escapes his throat, a low rumble that I felt more than heard, his shuddering body under mine. I feel his body writhe and undulate like a coiled serpent as the lines between us blurred. I started to feel that familiar fire start to creep under my skin, in every nerve, flowing with my blood. I feel that creature within me stir. I feel the familiar flush in my cheeks as I begin to slowly lose control of my thoughts.
“Do it, you fuckin’ pussy. DO IT!”
I reattach the chains that dug into the wooden posts of his bed to his restraints. Reaching behind his head, I unlatch his blindfold. He opens his eyes, but squints, blinded by the sudden burst of light. He arches his back and turns to look at me, his eyes still adjusting to the light. I raise my hand high and seeing his eyes slowly register, I bring it down hard and feel the snap of my fist make contact with his nose. The sound echoed in my head, that sharp crack that shattered the relative calm of my mind. He gives out a howl, a low pitched moan that makes my ears ring. I hear him let out a cough, and a fine, scarlet mist filled the air of the scent of blood.
“Fuck, YES!” He lets out a guttural grunt and I feel him tense up under me as he struggled against his restraints. “Hit me again!”
I felt the creature claw its way up my throat. I reach down and feel his hair under my fingers. I clench my fist and pull his face up from the mattress by his hair. I see his eyes shut tight; his nose crinkled as sopping noises filled my ears when he tried to breathe through his flared nostrils. I move my face closer to his and see a drop of blood trickle down to the corner of his mouth.
I snake my arm around his neck and roughly pull him up. His hands balled up into fists, straining against the chains that kept him immobilized. Beads of sweat formed on his temples, trickling down his face. He struggles against me, he resists. I breathe in his scent, that metallic scent mixed with the salt on his brow.
I feel it, the creature, peering out from my own eyes, his claws prying my mouth open. His serpentine tongue, pendulous and rough as a rasp, falls out between my teeth and as he whimpers, gasping for breath, the creature’s tongue caresses the side of his bloodied face, like a tiger tasting its prey.
And I distinctly remember thinking: this one tastes, oh so sweet.
I push the key into the slot and twist it until I hear a click.
The door opens and I see there’s just the odd bill, and upon reaching in, I found a couple of letters. I stuff them inside my bag and I close our mailbox.
I go up to our apartment and let myself in. I feel exhausted: More so than any other night in recent memory. Maybe Erik is right. I really ought to consider another job: this is starting to feel like a lot of work. I place my keys in the small dish and notice that the kitchen lights are on. The smell of coffee hung in the air like a fine veil.
“Gunther, is that you?”
“Hey, yeah.” I step into the kitchen, and Erik was sitting there, a bottle of vodka and a mess of soda bottles on the table. “Hey.” He mutters, a tired smile plastered across his face.
“Don’t you have therapy tomorrow? It’s almost three in the morning.” I began to pick up the empty soda bottles and place them next to the sink. He shrugged his shoulders, and poured himself another drink. “Come, sit a while and have a drink. I imagine it’s been a wild night for you.”
I take off my jacket and sat down in front of him with a glass I took from the dish rack. His smile never left his boyish face. I poured myself some vodka, topping it off with a splash of club soda. I took some ice from the small bucket in the middle of the table and drop a couple into my drink. I reached out to get another ice cube and gingerly ran it over the swollen knuckles on my right hand.
He just sat there, watching me through that shit-eating grin.
I took a sip of my drink. “Yeah. You can say that. I guess.”
“You really ought to do something about that. He grunts as he got up and went to his bedroom. I look out the kitchen window. It’s so dark out you can barely make out where the skyline ended and the night sky started. In the distance, a police siren echoed off the narrow alleyway.
Erik comes back and pus down a small first aid kit on the table. He went to the sink and ran some water over a small towel. “You okay?” He asked as he took my hand and began to wipe it with a damp towel. It felt cool on my skin, and I relax a bit. “Yeah. I’m fine. You should see the other guy.”
He gave out a small chuckle. “I know that was meant to be a joke, but seeing that it’s tie-me-up-Thursday with Creepy Charlie, I will let that pass.”
He laughed, that sonorous laugh that made me fall for him all those years ago. Before all of this, before the medicines, before the hospital visits that left him drained and unable to speak for days.
He popped open a small bottle of mercurochrome and soaked a cotton ball. He started to dab it over the area where the skin split on the knuckle of my index and middle finger. The dark amber liquid seeped into my skin, and turned the top of my pale hand a brilliant shade of orange.
“Jealous? No.” He dressed my hand, gently turning it over to anchor the adhesive tape between my fingers. “I just worry about you. All the time.”
He turns over my hand and held it in his. I feel the warmth of his palms on mine. He leans down and gives the back of my hand a soft kiss. I feel the warmth of his breath on the back of my hand, and it crept up my arm. I close my eyes. At that moment, all the questions melt away. Why I do the things I do has always been clear. What I can and cannot betray or abandon has always been the same.
I open my eyes and I see him there.
He still held my hand. In hands that will always be warm, hands that will always be there. He smiles, as I myself find smiling in turn.
“There. Good as new.”
And I was.
Edges perfectly aligned
What do you do to recover from a failed relationship? For some, it’s by finding another lover; for others, by first forgiving oneself; and still for others, a combination of both… and perhaps doing even more. In all instances, though – as Ryan Robert Gutierrez Flores writes – there’s that desire to be “touched” again…
The rain started to come down hard and heavy outside. Big, fat drops started to form rivulets that cascaded down my windowpane. I flipped the light switch on the lamp on my desk. I need to finish this, I think to myself, things may be so royally screwed up in my life, but at least there’s work. It’ll never be finished, it will never leave you, there’s always work.
I’ve been staring at the same blueprint on the screen of my computer for the past four hours. The coffee that sat on my desk for the same amount of time has all but congealed, leaving a ring halfway up the insides of my mug. I take off my glasses and set them down. I picked up the coffee cup and place it in the sink. I see that the coffee pot is empty.
I open the fridge and take out the coffee can and begin to make a fresh batch.
I need to finish this.
I return to my desk and pick up my phone and check my messages. Apart from the usual follow-ups, and odd spam message, there’s nothing much to see. I open up a dating app on my phone and begin absentmindedly browsing the men that populated the feed. The usual parade of toned, muscular, and half-naked bodies with the same dead eyes flew by under my fingertips.
I see a familiar face. Gunter. His dark eyes, bright with mischief, stares back at me behind glass.
I need to finish this.
I dial his number.
“I was wondering when I was going to hear back from you.” He removes his coat and hangs it on the rack next to my apartment door. “How’s your partner.”
“Well, ex-partner.” I say as I led him to the living room. I clear away the rolls of paper that littered the couch and the coffee table. “We broke up last fall.” I go into the kitchen and come back with a cup of fresh coffee and I set it down in front of him.
He sits and takes the cup in his hand. “I’m sorry to hear that. How are you holding up?”
I gestured around at the mess of papers and blueprints that surrounded us “My new calling in life is to be a heartless workaholic.”
He laughs. His pearlescent teeth remind me of pure Carrara marble. The joke isn’t even that funny, I know. But it was nice to hear someone else’s voice in this void of an apartment.
I sit across him. “How have you been?”
He stretches his arms: his dark, lumpy cardigan sweater clung to him like an oil slick. “I’ve been doing well. Out of town engagements are usually slow during this time of year, so I welcome staying in the city for a bit.” He looks around. “What happened with Mike? I like him.”
“Well, it’s a long story full of sighs.” I took a sip of my coffee.
“I have nowhere to be.”
I look down at my cup. “He is in love with someone else. He just doesn’t have the words to say it. I figured the only way for him to own up to his feelings is for me to remove myself from the equation. Besides, it wasn’t really meant to last.” I set the cup down on the table. “So I broke it off. He didn’t take it well, but I figured that it’s for the best.”
“It’s not that long a story after all.” He sets his cup down in front of him. “And not too many sighs, it would seem.” I shoot him a smirk. “You did what you had to do. Nothing more.”
“That’s the issue. It did mean more to me, at least at first. After a while you start to lose things. Parts of yourself; they’re like joints of wood that come apart. They become unglued and drift away until there’s nothing left. Your entire self chipped away by small, daily indignities.”
He stares at me with those dark eyes.
“It meant more to me.”
He smiled, “I know it did. I didn’t say it didn’t.”
I stood up and took his empty coffee cup. I went over to the kitchen and place it in the sink. I come back and see him standing, looking at the photos on the wall. “You were adorable as a child.”
I blush a little, and I tugged open a drawer next to the couch. I took out the box of weed I keep for particularly stressful days and begin to roll out a joint. “I was a terrible child.” He looked at me and I held up the joint for him to take.
He lit it, and took a deep hit, the smoke curled around his beard like a thick fog.
“Ever the disappointing one.” I took a hit and feel the warmth rise from my chest. “Even after getting into RISD, I was a disappointment since RISD wasn’t Cornell.” My father couldn’t even be bothered to attend my graduation, I thought to myself.
“This your dad?” He points to one of the photos on the wall as he took another hit on the joint. “I see the resemblance. He’s hot.”
“Yeah? Well, he’s not exactly straight. He doesn’t think I know, but I know that his associate partners at his firm weren’t exactly hired for their intellectual qualifications. So if you want him, I say go for it. You’re just his type.” I take out my phone and look at him on top of my glasses. “I can give you his number.”
“Well that’s too bad since he’s not.” He sits, cross-legged, between my legs and hands me the joint. I feel his hands slowly and tantalizingly go up my legs and go past my knees, his fingertips barely grazing my skin as they move and rest on my thighs. “I prefer to have them younger.”
“Of course you do.” I take a hit. “Not too young though, I hope? You won’t last three minutes in jail.”
“Well, let’s see.” I feel his fingers through the soft fabric of my underwear. He traces the outline of my cock with his fingertip. I let in a gasp as he takes a hit: his fingertip feels electric and it springs to life, twitching against the soft pad of his finger. “Response time is satisfactory. I’d say you’re just the right age.” I take a hit, “I like your method, kid.”
He stood up, towering over me. Those eyes narrowed into little slits. He reaches down and plucks the joint from my fingers. He takes a hit. Smoke begins to fill the room and my head begins to shift ever so slightly. “That’s enough from you. My turn…” He purred. My eyelids began to droop. He pulls off his sweater up over his head. I catch a whiff of his scent. It hits me like a ton of bricks. I reach up to touch him. Any part of him.
“Put that goddamn hand back where it was.” He growled. His bulk casts a long shadow over me; I can see the tattoo that adorned his shoulder and rips across his broad chest, obscured by the light, in shades of gray and blue. I see his chest flex as he undid his belt and let his pants fall on the floor with a dull rustle.
I look up at him. I can’t see his face, but he stood there, looking down at me. He stood there his head cocked to one side for a while. I close my eyes. And I take a deep breath. I feel him come back down, and the soft bristle of his beard makes contact with my chest. I feel him breathe, long, deliberate breaths, taking in my scent. He makes quiet, low guttural noises from his throat. I feel his strong hands reach around my back and he lifts me straight out of the armchair. I feel those powerful muscles against my body, as hard as tensile steel, as he carried me to the bedroom.
He lays me down gently on the bed, and propped himself on top of me with those thick arms covered with the swirling patterns of his fine, dark fur. I open my eyes and I see him staring at me straight down. His face, with the rugged, square features, softened in the dim light of my room. He leans in and kisses me softly.
I feel the heat coming off of him. His fingers like lit tapers on my skin. The colors of the walls began to thrum as I felt myself stiffen even more in my boxer briefs because of his expert attention. I lose sight of his hands for a moment and I feel soft tendrils move up my stomach, under my shirt. I open my eyes as I take yet another hit, and another, and another until nothing remained but those dark eyes staring intently at me.
I open my eyes. I must have dozed off.
The first thing I notice is the silence. The rain must have stopped at one point. I see the moon rising high in a perfectly clear night sky outside the window, and the long shadows it cast across the floor, over our clothes and the carnage of our clumsy way to the bed.
His arm was around me. His eyes still closed. His breathing heavy.
I look at him, his face bathed in moonlight. The beautiful way his beard was so thick and soft, and always smelled faintly of the cigarettes he swears he never smokes.
My bedside alarm clock reads 2:24am. He spent the night? That was nice. He never had before. I don’t mind. I welcome not being alone tonight. I closed my eyes and tried to fall back asleep. I turn around to face away from him.
“No.” I softly whispered. “I am glad you’re here.”
He pulls me close. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
I rolled around to face him again. I buried my face in his furry chest. I can smell the faint traces of his cologne, and the pleasant stickiness of his sweat. It was a heady scent I breathe in deeply.
“Why?” he asked as he gently ran his fingers up and down my back, raising goosebumps as they traced the outline of my spine.
“For being here. For listening, I suppose.”
I feel his fingers under my chin and he lifts my face up to his. He kisses me deeply, urgently, desperately. The kind of kiss that makes your toes curl.
I need to finish this.
The kiss ends, my lips still tingling as he pulled away. I keep my eyes closed.
No. Not yet. Please.
I know he had to go. But I desperately cling to him, my hands refused to let go of him. I feel his cheek rest against my forehead, his beard, soft against my face.
“Don’t be so sad, Gabe. I hate to see you like this all the time.” He smoothed out my hair, his touch soothing. “You did what you had to do. Mike will be fine. You don’t have to carry this around with you.”
I couldn’t help it. In my silence I feel the sky open up and the rain started to pour again. Big, fat drops that fell one after the other, stream down my face. It rained so hard, my face still buried in the soft thicket of his chest.
“You have to forgive yourself sometime.”
He gives me a soft kiss on my cheek as my sobbing ebbed. His lips on my face was warm like the sun. He pulls away and I feel his weight leave the bed as I settled back into my pillow. My eyes still closed, I hear him come back from the bathroom and the soft jingle of his belt as he dressed. I feel his hand settle on mine, and when I opened my eyes, he was gone.
In the relative darkness of my room, I hear the sound of the world outside; the sound of the city that never sleeps. I listened to the distant sound of a dog barking, the even more distant sound of a police siren.
From where I lay, I could see the faint glimmer of the light from the streetlamp as it passed through the edges of my curtains. I look over to my nightstand and I reach over to switch on the lamp. A seeing what was there makes me feel it: A sensation I haven’t felt for weeks. I felt the corners of my lips curl up into a smile. I settle back down into bed and I allow myself a moment to laugh.
I let it escape; gales of relieved laughter that made me feel lighter than air. I take another look at the nightstand.
There it was, the same bunch of dollar bills that I left out for him, untouched. Still neatly folded together, their edges perfectly aligned, with Benjamin Franklin’s tight-lipped face staring right at me.
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