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 have to work long hours to make ends meet.
I sat at the bar and ordered a beer. The pleasant old hag tending the counter stated that 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 kid 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 thin, 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 to him as he shoveled another handful of popcorn into his mouth. “You 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 room up on Oracle.” I explained. “I’m waiting for my housing vouchers to clear so I can get an apartment.”
“Up on Oracle?” 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 laughed, I chuckled and ordered another round. It was that time of early evening when the bar was kept very 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 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 has it he has been frequenting the joint since 1967. I simply smiled at him and turned back to the kid.
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 gray 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 casually walked into the mensroom. Nice set up. Red light, dim. The crumbling walls were a mass 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 clanging 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 long, 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. I 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.
Later, I stumbled out of the bar into the dank alley which smelled like rotted garbage and festering urine. The night was halfway over. While I was in the tavern, it must had rained. The uneven bricks of the back alley were glistening in a translucent reflection. I retrieved a cigarette out of my pocket with intoxicated, numb fingers, lit up. I leaned my head back and blew great plumes of smoke up into a dark and cloudy sky. The volumous clouds parted here and there so the stars could look down and judge me.
“Fuck you.” I mutter and almost fall. I held onto a lamp post covered in flyers to support myself. The beers and tequila shots were taking their toll. I was truly screwed. Truly damned.
“Hey.” A voice out of the darkness hissed. “You spare a smoke?”
Goddammit, I don’t want to be bothered. I want to get home. First, I gotta piss.
I didn’t answer the phantom and wobbled over to the filthy dumpster, whipped out my junk, and relieved myself. Cigarette precariously dangling from numb lips, I zipped up and half-assed a scan for police patrols. On one end of the alley, a group of loud frat boys stumbled by gregariously as they often are.
“Can I bum a smoke off of you?” The voice asked again.
I gazed over to a dark corner filled with shadows and dread. He slithered out of the inky blackness in grungy clothes and frayed sneakers. His blond hair was disheveled and he was sniffling. The boy was on something. It was his eyes. His eyes gleamed in the half-light, burning with sadness and despair and evil as hell addiction.
“What?” I croaked.
I felt like Fagin all hunched over and bitter and shitty.
“Do...you...have...an...extra...cigarette?” He asked slow and drawn out as if speaking to a retard. Funny thing, he was.
I mumbled ‘Oh yeah’ or something like that and handed him one. He took it in slender fingers, dirt under the nails. He was slight of build and I wondered the last time he ate.
“So, what are you looking for?” He asked coyly.
Ah yes, the general question of every male prostitute in every alley of the world.
“Death.” I grunted.
“Oh don’t say that. Life is good. It is wonderful and full of great times.” He smiled broadly.
I blearily gazed at him and saw him in a new light. Here standing in front of me was a beautiful, homeless youth and in lieu of all his hardships he currently endured, he remained positive. I was like that once. Before being beaten down by lovers and friends and trust and mishap decisions and misguided circumstance. Before my mind went and became toxic and corrosive in embittered self-loathing.
“Are you hungry?” I asked, pointing towards the 24 hour cafe open on the opposite end of the alley. “I need to get some food in me to suck up this alcohol.”
“As a matter of fact, I am hungry.” He stated, smiling. “Been drinking, huh? You drink a lot?”
“It’s all I have left and even that proclivity is becoming a bore.” I said as I began stomping down the alley; nonchalantly dodging pools of iridescent, oily water.
We cut into the shop. Ordered food and strong coffee. Took a booth at the wall. The place was empty excluding a lonely hobo with a panting dog and a deranged homosexual on a laptop. My guest and I both sat for some time not speaking.
“I’m James.” He finally stated.
I introduced myself the best I could, with the exception I was so drunk and depressed instead of coming across cordial, my words and tone came out loathsome and obscene. I drank my coffee in silence until our sandwiches arrived. The boy ate in gusto.
“Haven’t eaten in a while?” I asked as I watched him devour his meal.
“Not good anyway.” He managed between chomps of pre-processed flesh.
Outside the rain began and late night revelers dashed under awnings and into doorways. I observed James. Rentboy to be sure. Then again, I think it was forced in way of certain living arrangements. Or perhaps he was simply a sex addict. A lot of them are. They won’t admit it. But, they are.
“I was thrown out of this place today.” I divulged, glancing around the coffee shop.
“The cafe? Why?”
“There were a couple of heroin addicts I was chatting with in research of a new book. Because I was in association and, basically because the barista is an imperialistic bitch, I was asked to never come back.”
“And, yet here you are.” He laughed. “Wait. New novel? You’re a published writer?”
“Yes.” I croaked. “A curse.”
“Wow!” James gushed. “I never met a real writer! What do you write?”
“Garbage.” I grunted.
“Oh...come on. It can’t be that bad.”
I sighed. Took a sip of coffee, poked at my sandwich. “You have a place to stay, James? It’s raining outside and it’s late. I need to get some sleep.”
“Actually, I was couch surfing with some friends over on 4th. A bunch of fucked up tweekers. The bitch who runs the house and I got into an argument. So, as of right now...the rain is my blanket.” He extended an open palm towards the street.
I looked off into the darkness beyond the grime streaked pane window. The intermittent flash of summer lightning. The glow of yellow lamps igniting sheets of cascading rain. I took a cigarette from my pocket, offered it to James. Removed one for myself, lit both.
“You can stay at my place if you wish.” I stated. “No monkey business. Unless you are up to monkey business.” I raised a fay eyebrow, took a drag.
James leaned over the small table and asked in hushed tones, “Are you gay?”
I continued to look out the window, slouched against the wall in the booth, “Aren’t we all?”
We finished our meal and then found ourselves briskly walking over incandescent pools and dribbling rain to my apartment a few blocks away. I opened the door and invited him in. He took in the place, like a good hustler, making certain there were no sinister weapons or weird sex gadgets. I noticed in his face he was relieved the place was somewhat bare - bed, bookshelf, table, a couple of chairs, clothes neatly hung in an open closet. Nothing to hide.
He turned to me, “You mind if I take a shower? It’s been a few days.”
I said sure and gathered him a clean towel and an unused bar of soap. I lay on the edge of the bed, smoking a damp cigarette, watching the shadows move across the ceiling from passing cars outside and listening to Miles Davis on the radio. Through my experiences in Mexico, as long as he was in my house, I wasn’t going to let him out of my sight. I could use a shower, too. On the contrary, I believed as soon as I walked out of the bathroom, anything of value I had would had been long gone.
James walked out of the bathroom with a green towel wrapped around his scrawny torso.
“Let me see if I can find some pajama bottoms for you.” I offered.
“Don’t bother.” He quipped. “I like to sleep in the nude.”
Convenient. I offered him a beer from the small fridge and we chatted a bit as he lay under the thin blanket. He said something of getting enough money for a bus ticket to return to Las Vegas. He had family there. I didn’t bother questioning why he didn’t hit his family up for the fare. After I finished my beer, I peeled off my damp clothes and slid under the blanket. He was shivering and so was I. Wordlessly, he snuggled next to me, briefly muttering that my body was warm. His torso was so boney. In the half-light of the room, he turned towards me and slid his arm across my chest, his erection thumping against my hip.
“I want to feel you inside of me.” He breathed into my ear.
We began kissing. The taste of saliva mixed with coffee, beer, and ham swirled in our mouths. James kissed my chest, playing with my erect nipples, making his way down to my own erection. Like a champ, he sucked my dick like something I needed in a long time. It felt as if I was in heaven. He definitely was a professional. I got to the point I couldn’t take it anymore and rolled the blond onto his stomach. I parted his cheeks and rimmed him for a good twenty minutes. He squirmed and gasped as I loosened him up. I flipped James over onto his back, placing his feet up onto my shoulders. Spitting into my palm, I lubed the head of my penis up and slowly pushed it in. He clung to me like a baby monkey as I rapidly rutted and lunged into him. His ass muscles tightened and grasped as I thrust - literally sucking my cock into him. I couldn’t hold back any longer. I yanked out and sprayed him with my semen. A second after, as he masturbated wildly, unloading his pent up frustrations onto his self. It was a work of art. I snatched my cell phone and snapped a pic before he could hide his face.
“Hey!” James laughed. “You should ask before doing that!”
“It’s for the archives. Dr. Windom needs it for my reports.”
“Ford Windom. PhD. Never actually passed the bar exam. Faked various psychoanalyst credentials with Photoshop. He once committed a friend to an asylum because he laughed at his eyebrows. Another nearly overdosed on a prescription from the good doctor when he swapped the patients lithium with Viagra. He called my parents and told them I was a sexual deviant with a bad case of crabs. Crazy fuck needs to be arrested.”
“He sounds weird.” James chuckled.
“You have no idea.” I plopped next to him, placing my phone onto the end table. “How about first thing tomorrow morning, we head over to Greyhound and get you that ticket to Vegas?”
“For reals?!” He beamed, lying next to me, propped up on his elbow. “You’ll do that?”
“And more.” I said esoterically. “Now, let’s get some sleep.”
The last thing I noticed before I dozed off was the clock reading 4:34am. Covered in semen and sweat, we both fell into a contented deep sleep...