"It didn't matter at first, but as we spent more time together, and he got to know me better, I started to realize that I didn't know anything about him at all."
It's hard not to think of him. To be reminded of that summer, five years ago. Other boyfriends – they come and go all the time, random flashes of memory, hit and run recollections, when I see a pair of snakeskin boots, smell gnocchi with smoked mozzarella, hear a John Lee Hooker tune. But he's special, and all I have to do to remember him is to look up at the sky.
* * * *
Ever spend a winter in NYC? If you have, then you know why I packed up my life, wrapped myself in down, waded out in the slush, scraped off my windshield, and drove as fast as I could to Arizona. Never been there before, but all it took was standing under a furnace sun, sweat pearling on my face, heat mirages hazing the distance and realizing it was January for me to never, ever, go back.
Still, ice can work its way into the strangest places. So to completely, totally, utterly remove the chill from my bones, I bought some clay, built a kiln, and did what I'd loved doing in college.
I never thought I'd be able to make a living at it. Didn't even try. Not really. I just put brick on top of brick, wrestled with hose and propane tank, and beat the crap out of mounds of clay. I was warm, and that was all that mattered.
But even being warm can get dull, so I stopped slapping my wet earth and actually tried to make something out of it – and myself. Soon I could look at what I made and not wince. A little after that I could look at my cups and saucers plates and bowls, jars and platters and smile. Before you know it, I'd cleaned up my little house, printed up invitations and hoped that someone, anyone, would pay for a lump of fired, glazed clay.
The turnout was sparse but sincere, mostly friends I'd made at the art supply store plus a few I'd brought home from the only queer bar in town.
"How much?" Not tall (which is good, as I hate to be looked down on) but not short (I hate stooping to kiss). Hair short but not buzzed, shoulders straight and true, like he used a level along with barbells. I wish I could say I wanted to know him better, but to be honest I wanted to see him naked in the worst way.
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He had to repeat himself, smile beaming even and very white teeth, holding out a turquoise and jet glazed lump. I was instantly embarrassed by it. He deserved better. I just wondered, suddenly ashamed, if I could ever make anything good enough.
I guess I must have sputtered something because the smile only increased, bringing lines to his face that made the day even hotter, my heartbeat all that quicker. Looking at him, right then, I felt like I could never, ever be cold again.
"That's too cheap. Way too cheap," he said, holding that ugly thing in his smooth hands. Not a worker, I thought quickly, or maybe he is but he just doesn't work with his hands.
He handed me a pair of bills, way too much. "I can't take that."
"Sure you can. Simple hand-eye coordination. You make stuff like this, you can certainly handle taking this money from me."
"That? For this? Come on, it's not worth that much. Believe me, I made it."
"Maybe," he said, turning it in those smooth hands. "But the potter's worth a lot more."
That's how it started: something soft and malleable made hard and firm. Both me and my pot. His name was Scott, I quickly learned as I took the money and shook his hand. The afternoon waned, faded, the furnace of the sun dropping behind distant saw-toothed mountains – and we never stopped talking.
Until, that is, I looked up from my third glass of wine from a box to see the most perfect pair of hazel eyes looking into mine. Then I stopped talking. Then he stopped talking and we kissed for the first time.
A little later, after the crickets started to make their nightly cries for companionship and the moon began to crawl across a desert sky sprayed with too-bright stars, we stopped kissing and went on to other things.
It wasn't the best I've ever had, but it was good. Very good. The best kind of good, the one where you know – just know – that it was only going to get better.
Salt in my mouth, pubic hairs between my teeth, I sprawled on my Navajo rug bedspread and looked up at his long body, the monument of his chest, the white crescent of his own happiness, and thought, "Oh, crap."
"Oh, crap" was right. In the morning I made him breakfast – just English muffins and coffee but, hell, I'd never made anything for anyone before – and we just stared wordlessly at each other. It wasn't that we had nothing to say to each other. We did; we just weren't saying it out loud. My finger slowly circled the palm of his hand, playing with life and happiness lines while he stroked my forearm. We didn't need to say anything else; we both felt it. The big nasty word you aren't supposed to say, definitely not the first time and never, ever the morning after.
But I was, and so was he, and it did get better, each and every time.
Sort of. He'd come over, usually on the weekends, rarely during the week, and we'd have a little red ordinary from another box in the fridge, laugh and giggle for a while, and soon his hand would be on my shoulder and his eyes would be bigger and brighter than the sun I came all that way to pursue, and then our lips would touch and ... and we'd go somewhere wonderful together.
Now, of course, I wonder why I didn't see it. I've never been a big pot smoker. A toke now and again to relax, to try and understand Twin Peaks, that kind of thing, but I do like it before a good fuck. But the first time I pulled out my little brass pipe, on maybe our third or fourth date, he froze, waved his hand in the air even though my Bic hadn't been flicked. "No way," he said, words clear, tone unmistakable. I put it away and never brought it out again.
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He'd go quiet. We'd be sitting outside, watching the sun set, the moon rise – when we weren't inside that is, his cock in my mouth, mine in his. Not doing that, we'd sit outside, staring up at the stars, watching them blink back at us. I'd usually be saying something stupid, recounting some run-in with a bitchy queen or other queer drama, when I'd look – really look – at him and see that he wasn't there. Oh, he was sitting there all right, relaxed in my crappy lawn chair, but he also wasn't. Head back, eyes wide, he was looking up and out, lost in the higher atmosphere, far away from me.
He didn't like to be under me. Always on top, that was him. Normally I'd be twitchy about that, looking sideways for oncoming sexual weirdness but with him it was just the way he was. You can't say what we did, because it would just sound like a fuck and suck shopping list. You had to be there, or maybe only he and I needed to be there.
Not just on top, but rather standing. Always standing tall. Like he wanted to be as high as possible. He'd stand there, at the foot of his bed, cock out straight and true, Not above me, because there was just the two of us, but his head was somewhere else, up in the clouds.
I'd snake along the bed, put lips to that dick, suck him hard and fast, or slow and wet, and he would smile, peering down at me. Not too tall, not too short, but he was still above me. His was a good cock, I have to say. One I think of a lot. Big, but not too big. Just right for sucking – and when he came, and he came well and often, his come was salty, sweet and damned good.
His was a damned good cock for fucking, as well. After we came together – he in my mouth, me in my hand as I sucked at him – I'd turn and give him my ass. Still standing, he'd touch his tip to my ring and then, carefully, because he wasn't an impatient bull, he'd push his way inside.
We'd fuck like that for eons, or maybe just half an hour; I never could tell which. Maybe he'd come and sink down beside me, hard prod of his cock sticky against my back, or maybe he'd want something else, give me a chance to be inside.
We wouldn't just switch. Instead I'd roll over on my back, cock up like a flagpole, and he'd crawl up onto the bed, squat over my dick, ease me inside. Then he'd fuck me, and I'd fuck him, our hips in a natural rolling rhythm for maybe a millennia, or just an hour. Again, I never checked.
See? A shopping list. A little from column A, something from column B – no heart, no soul. Maybe that sounds hot to you, but that's because I use dirty words, talk about two men sucking and fucking, but it was more than that with us. Hallmark cards fucking, champagne and roses sucking. Love of my life fucking and sucking.
How did I miss it? He was just ... Scott. Just "Scott." No last name, no job, no family, no stories. Still, you don't fuck, or get fucked, by someone and not know a bit about him, but in his case I knew only one thing for certain, that I loved him more than I'd ever loved anyone else, but that was all.
Cop? I thought, but I couldn't see him wearing a badge. Fireman? Nah, that didn't light my fire. I even debated FBI but he didn't fit the profile.
It didn't matter at first, but as we spent more time together, and he got to know me better, I started to realize that I didn't know anything about him at all.
As with anything that was just too right, too perfect, too much fun, when anything starts to even hint at going wrong, it becomes the End of the World. In this case, lipstick on his collar. No lipstick, not really, and certainly no collar, but I became assured there was someone else, someone he was hiding from me.
Finally, one night after a long and ecstatic ballet of cock and mouth, asshole and cock, and many, many marzipan kisses, I looked at him and saw him somewhere else.
"Who is it?" I finally growled.
"Heh?" he lazily responded, eyes dropping from the ceiling to my face. He smiled. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"Come on, 'fess up. There's someone else, isn't there? I can tell. You're not always here. Not that I'm complaining about when you are here – " I circled one hair-ringed nipple with my tongue.
He lifted my chin, kissed me. I tasted come. "You're perceptive. Just one more thing I adore about you."
"Don't try and change the subject. Something's on your mind. In my worldly experience that means someone else. Who is it?"
Rolling over onto his back he let out a steady, slow breath. "You wouldn't understand."
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"Fuck that. We did the three little words thing, remember? That might mean fuck to you but it means a lot to me. You can tell me. Just ... if you have to break my heart, make it quick. Like pulling off a bandage."
"That's not it. It's just ... it's risky."
"What is he, a bruiser? He's going to break my thumbs or something?"
"Not like that. Risky for me."
"I'll protect you. We're in this together, aren't we? Three little words, remember?"
Silence; lead-lined quiet. Finally he turned, looked me in the eyes. "Okay. But not here. On Monday, okay? I'll show you what I mean. On Monday."
A few days later, day not night. Outside, not inside. Hot – damned hot – not a hint of shade. He told me where to go, jotted it down for me and everything. The road to drive on, where to park, how far to walk, and when exactly to be there: a bunch of boulders on top of a low rise, surrounded by tumbleweeds, populated by jackrabbits (which I saw) and probably rattlesnakes (which I hoped I didn't).
So I sat there, waiting for what, I didn't know. In the middle of nowhere – a hot, dry nowhere. It was hotter than even the desert should be, but I stayed. The old me, the frozen, icicle-dripping New Yorker would have yelled FUCK IT and hoofed it past the bunnies and serpents and simply chalked it all up to life, a good fuck and saying those stupid three words when I should have kept my yap shut.