He smashed his cigarette out onto the cracked pavement with the toe of his shoe. Thin, aquiline features seemed pale and ghastly under the throbbing blue and white light of an overhead marquee. He peered at me as I entered the bar. His eyes ascertained a lazy gaze of crimson in them. Was he tired or inebriated? Undoubtedly both. American hustlers work long hours to make ends meet.
I sat at the bar and ordered a beer. The pleasant old hag tending the counter stated they did not serve Sol, “Only Coors. On tap.”
For two dollars in a sixteen ounce glass, why not? The shit still tasted like a homeless man’s piss. I glanced around the bar – lost derelicts, antiquated hookers, furtive junkies. As I stared at my reflection in the mirror across from me, the hustler at the front door slid onto a stool next to me. In the reflection, his image was sliced in half by the parting of the mirror plates. One pane was slightly higher than the other. The reflection was somewhat off putting. One good, the other bad.
The aging bartender placed a styrofoam bowl of popcorn between us. With amateurishly tattooed covered hands he scooped up a fistful and shoved them into a broad mouth. As I watched, I got a better look at him. He was tall, thin, and wore the expression of annoyed petulance common to all Americans. It was a look designed to project aloof coolness to whomever cared to meet that gaze, but instead it simply reflected on how sad, beat, and completely bitchy a person could be. His torso was draped over by a green t-shirt with a large red star on the chest, loose fitted jeans, and black leather work shoes. His light brown hair was buzz cut and stood out dark against pale skin. His eyes....his eyes, though blood shot, were a light blue when they were blue. He held a face of a young boy, smooth and clean, who seemed to be perpetually pouting.
I turned toward him as he shoveled another handful of popcorn into his mouth.
“Hungry?” I asked jokingly.
He smiled through discolored teeth that he was or to that effect. I offered him a beer.
“Sure, man. Thanks.” He said sniffing. “You spare a smoke?”
I fished a cigarette from my pocket and he went to stand outside again and smoked. I sat sipping my beer. When he returned, he drank a gulp and then asked, “You live around here?”
“I rent a hotel room up on Oracle. I’m waiting for my housing vouchers to clear so I can get an apartment.”
He repeated. “You rent a hotel room? Isn’t that fucking expensive?”
I said nothing and took a gulp of beer.
“What do you do?” He asked.
“I’m a writer.”
“A writer? Really? What do you write?”
He chuckled and I ordered another round. It was that time of early evening when the bar was kept exceptionally dark and cool from the insidiously dry one hundred degree weather outside. Even with the sun gone for the day and it being a full moon, the climate was uncomfortably hot. I snatched a paper napkin from a stack on the counter and wiped it across my forehead.
“It’s too fucking hot here.” I expressed to no one in particular.
“Shit! It ain’t even June yet.” Stated an old man with a huge, cascading beard at the end of the bar. “Wait till yer ass gets stuck outside during August. Fuckin’ shit’s hot then!” It was Buddy, the bar regular. Word had it he had been frequenting the joint since 1967. I simply smiled at him and turned back to the hustler.
As I was about to speak, he slid off of his stool and walked to the mensroom. His jeans were pulled down and hung off a pair of bulbous cheeks hidden under grey boxers. As I watched him disappear into the pissoir, I thought, That’s an ass begging to get fucked.
Yeah, I was feeling it. I wanted to conquer someone. I was stateside now and did not require to placate some Mexican macho fuck who kept his sphincter clenched the entire time while we had sex. I decided when the hustler returned from the restroom, I was going to casually pop the question to come back to my place. So, I waited...and waited...and waited.
What the fuck? He fall in? I thought.
I paid for two more beers and then walked into the mensroom. Nice set up. Red light, dim. The crumbling walls were a mural of scrawled graffiti. There was a long, metal piss trough and one toilet stall in which the boy stood. Fine, I’ll take a piss while I’m in here. As I stood at the urinal, for a moment it was silent, then I heard a light rhythmic clanking of a belt buckle and the muted raspy sound of skin sliding against skin. He was jacking off.
I was already slightly inebriated, so what the fuck I thought, and said, “You need help over there?”
Momentarily he was silent. He then walked out from the stall and stood in the middle of the restroom with jeans unbuttoned. One hand hung limply at his side as the other held his pants up. Pointing out and up from the hole in his boxers was a stunted, circumcised erection.
His face was tense and determined as he spoke in the crassest tone, “Yeah, man, I want my cock sucked.”
I casually walked over to him and placed his erect penis in my hand. I read the callous warts lining the shaft like braille.
I jerked my hand away, looked up at his despairing face and said, “Not today, man. Don’t feel the need.”
“You don’t want it?” He asked. I saw in his eyes that his affliction disgusted me. Obviously, I wasn’t the first to recoil from his advances today.
“No.” I left him standing frustrated in that empty bathroom.