This is Part 2 of Chapter 24 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Waiting for the Man - Part 1", the previous section.
My head is not sorry to leave the thudding techno music behind, although the little bump I shared with 'Buddy' is making me pretty numb to everything but the basics. That's what dope does -- strips it down to the basics. They say you never get sick on smack, never get a cold. But that's not true. Spend a winter in New York strung out and you'll know better. It isn't that you don't get sick -- you just don't care.
We walk back up the way I came down. It's warm, inside and out. Buddy is the perfect conversationalist for this excursion. He's monosyllabic. The last thing I want to hear is the story of anyone's life.
He directs me to an old warehouse, which, with a couple of mirrored balls and a bar, now passes as a club. It's so down-market that I've strolled by it without the least bit of interest about a hundred times. The Bel Air club kids and Rodeo Drive queers wouldn't be caught dead here. It's like a holding pen for all the Ted Schmidts in Greater L.A. -- badly dressed, under-fucked, and futile. I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself. But I'm out of practice for this sort of thing.
Here is where Buddy and I bid fond adieu.
"They know me here. I've been bounced a couple of times for hustling."
"What's the difference to them? Everyone is trolling in a place like this."
Buddy shakes his head. "Management apparently had some trouble with the cops and they're trying to keep things on the up and up."
"So, you can get your dick sucked, but don't charge for it?"
"Something like that."
"Man, how do they expect people to make an honest living?"
"Search me," Buddy shrugs. So, the guys at the door know him and are on the lookout for obvious hustlers. I know they won't stop me from going in -- I think. But Buddy is fucked, even in this crummy place.
He tells me that he's heading for a nearby parking garage. As the evening drags on and the Teds decide to leave for their condos in Van Nuys, Buddy hopes to pick up a little action for the night -- or at least cop a few bucks blowing a random Ted or two before they head home.
This is not my scene. Not even as a last resort. I have a pocket full of cash, after all, and am not planning to wait out this ultimate evening leaning against a wall in some garage.
I straighten myself around, comb my hair back into order, and pass into the club without a hitch. I've never had trouble getting in anywhere I wanted to go.
After the first circuit of this place I know that if I was looking for a trick I'd have left in five minutes. The pickings are abysmal. Ted would look damned good next to these guys -- even in his coma he looked better and had most personality than 90% of the losers here.
But I remind myself that I'm not looking for a trick. I'm not looking for the hottest guy in the place. The more losers, the better. The more desperate and horny at the end of a frustrating evening, the more willing to pay. And not just for a quick suck, but for the whole smorgasbord. So, this was the right place, all along.
And it's not too late. There is still plenty of evening left. Plenty.
I move to the bar and four guys try to buy me a beer. This is a good start. I feel like Scarlett O'Hara at the barbecue. This gives me a chance to review my modus operandi.
I have to reverse my usual mind set. This isn't about picking and choosing. I spend most of my time in bars or clubs or just walking down the fucking street fending off potential tricks. Even I couldn't handle everything that gets offered. Tricking is about the Game, the Hunt. Cutting out your prey from the herd. Making eye-contact. Circling, dancing around, fencing. Then, the break, the touch, the score. At any time, you can retreat and retrench. Or fucking go home. You hold all the cards. You have all the control.
You also decide what is what. All those 'tops' become bottoms pretty quickly when you get them under those neons. It's almost laughable how fast they roll over. Almost no challenge at all.
And you don't have to be human with a trick. You don't have to talk to them. You don't have to listen to them. You don't need to know their names, their stats, their favorite fucking film. A maximum of pleasure, a minimum of bullshit. If I'd only followed that rule all along, I wouldn't be in the mess I'm in now.
But hustling is a different Game. It's all about THEM. They pick and choose. They set the agenda. They pay, they play, their way, as Stan always used to say. You need to be congenial. Open. Friendly. You need to be nicer than you are with a trick. You WANT them to come back. You WANT them to like you. A little vulnerability is a plus, even if it's fake. A little sincerity. Hard to believe I was a master at this. And I didn't have to fake it. I WAS vulnerable. I WAS eager to please. I was fucking pathetic -- and that made me a success.
But now I'm angry. Jaded. Fucking exhausted with the bullshit, the mind screws, the hassles. That's why I needed to visit Trick's mini-mart earlier this evening. To take the edge off. To take myself down. But it hasn't been enough. I feel the anxiety rising up underneath the warm blanket of dope. It's the pre-copping itch. The wearing-off restlessness. But it's way too early for that. So, it's ME.
And I'm afraid to do any more shit right now. I don't feel like checking out in the toilet of this dump. That's not the Plan.
I finally 'allow' one of my potential Gentleman Callers to get me something. He looks the most prosperous of the bunch. He's not a total troll. He's older. Around forty, I'd say. Just Ron's age. Hair just starting to go. Glasses. Looks like a computer programmer or an insurance salesman. The clothes are awful on him, but they aren't too cheap. This guy will shell out some money for value, unlike the other cheap bastards who surround me. This guy is a Sears pigeon in a flock of Big Q-Mart turkeys. Strictly the one-step-up-from-polyester crowd.
I stand out in my leather jacket, my black jeans. Time to display the goods, I think, and see what the damage is. I slip off my jacket and lean back on the bar.
The effect is immediate. There's a definite buzz. I decline the offers of drinks, dancing. I'm just here to 'relax' -- kick back, meet some new people. My beer buyer is getting possessive, trying to elbow away contenders. Ordinarily, this is where I would bail. The minute they think they own you, fucking run! I never got into any trouble when I ran away from that shit before. Only when I stayed. And look where it's gotten me....
But, so far, the salesman's the most likely of this bunch, so I turn it on a bit. All I have to do is run my fucking finger down his arm and I can see his cock spring to life in his Sears Casuals. This is just too easy. It shouldn't be this easy.
I'm beginning to think I should have just grabbed the skinhead at the other place and had done with it. At least he might have offered a surprise or two. And it's not as if I was really looking for money -- it's the principle of the thing. The idea of ending where you began, bringing it all full circle. And that ultimate end of the circle will be Ron. But not quite yet.
Well, what do you know? This guy has a car. A place nearby. Who would have thought? I've never heard such a persuasive line. This cat is smooth.
But I shouldn't mock him, even in my head. He's my ticket out of this place -- a place I won't be sorry never to see again. But I have to make things clear. Perfectly clear. I ask for what the ladies call 'powder room money.' Like a retainer. He hands me a ten. We understand each other.
I go to the can and lay out another line. Not much. I don't need to nod off in this guy's car. But the anxiety won't quit. My heart is pounding like a hammer.
My running coaches, John and Albie, should catch me now. With this hard edge I could really give them that kick they are always working me towards. That movement you make when you've already reached the max -- but then you've got something else. That's a concept I can buy into. I think about those guys and how I should have gone to them somewhere along the line. They are good guys. Both ex-world class runners in the 1970s. Both fags. They are the ones who gave me the best insight into the character of Bobby because they lived it -- in the closet the whole time, of course. But the other athletes knew. They always know.
For a minute I think about walking out, getting in my car, and looking them up. I've never tried to see them, talk to them off of the set. There's a distance there. Maybe hiding too many years does that. Maybe they just want to do their job and get the hell out. Or maybe they are owned body and soul by the studio, just like my analyst, and my doctor, and Ron, and Jimmy, and everyone else I come into contact with. Now I'm even afraid to go to Diane, to get her into more trouble. Fuck. It was a stupid idea, anyway.
I go out and my salesman is waiting there, apprehensively.
What, did he think I would take off on him? I would never do that, would I?
I follow him out to his car. A Toyota Corolla. Well, that settles that. I'm not doing anything in THIS car. It's the condo or nothing.
But he drives a while. I don't know where the fuck he's going in the dark. And he's talking. I can't hear a thing he's saying, but I nod and say, "Oh, yeah?" and "Right." He seems happy with my responses. I'm easy. With me, he's a scintillating raconteur. And why not?
He turns out to have a house. Not a big house, but a house. In a middle class neighborhood. I wonder if he is the lone fag on the block? Looks like it. Lots of tricycles and shit in the driveway next door. Shit -- I was going to get Gus a tricycle like that.
He's showing me around his place. Everything is brown. Brown carpet. Brown furniture. Brown walls. Like living inside your own shit. But he's proud of it and I feel a little guilty.
He's showing me the kitchen. This is all avocado, even the dishrags. Obviously, when this guy picks a color, he sticks with it. I won't be expecting much variation from the norm tonight. He's saying something else. Hey, don't expect ME for cornflakes in the morning. I'll be long gone by then. But I just smile at him.
He gets a drink -- a beer -- and offers me one. I take water.
"So, what do you like to do?" I take off my leather jacket, but keep it at hand. All my shit is in there.
He's stuck. He stammers a bit. He isn't making this any easier. As usual I'm going to have to take charge. I thought the whole point was for me NOT to have to make the decisions. Just to do it and be done. But it's hopeless.
I even have to push HIM into the bedroom -- I'm not getting on that shit-brown sofa. He gets undressed like his mother is watching him. Boxer shorts -- holy cow! This is moving from the category of farce into tragedy. Which, I suppose, is the way I want it to move -- but really! I'm not supposed to be feeling sorry for HIM -- I'm supposed to be feeling sorry for myself. This just isn't working out the way I had imagined at all.
"How much?" Like he hates to ask. But isn't that the point?
"That depends -- on what you like to do." I feel like I'm explaining it all to someone who has never done this before. Maybe that's the actual case. I never thought of that.
"Get fucked?" He says, hopefully. Like I'm going to say no?
"Seventy-five. I'll give you the all-inclusive rate." I have no fucking idea what I'm saying, but he's buying it. Literally. He gets out the cash and starts counting it out.
"That's not necessary. I trust you. Aren't we friends here?" Right.
I put the money in my jacket and take out the lube and condom packets. It was obvious from the beginning that this guy was never going to fuck ME in a million years. I should have figured that going into Leisure Suit Central. The only top in the whole place was the disco ball on the ceiling.
I take off my red tee shirt and splash some water on myself. It's getting hot in here, but not THAT kind of hot. Stuffy. Feverish hot. From inside me. But somewhere up high, not down where it should be.
I slip down my jeans, making sure not to lose my cellphone when they drop on the door. I kick them out of the way.
He's looking at me. Okay, he's satisfied with what he's seeing. Of course. At least he's eager to get a hand on my dick. That's something in his favor. But I could have gotten that at any point along the journey tonight. Now I'm getting impatient. Wait -- I have to stand back. This is not about me.
"Go on, take that. You like that? Right? Right?" He doesn't need much encouragement, but it keeps my mind off what I'm doing. I'm already thinking ahead. To getting this over with. Getting out of here. One more fuck and I can haul ass.
"That's good -- that's good. Do you like what I'm doing?" Of course, I haven't done a fucking thing but stand there. "Tell me when you're ready." But he seems satisfied with getting his fill of my dick.
This is not the total mind-fuck I have been hoping for. Even taking the money has no weight to it. It just seems -- mundane. Me doing, mindlessly, what I've always been doing. The cash is incidental and not the big 'fuck you' I had hoped for. It is -- nothing. The dope-numbness, the emotion-numbness isn't total, but maybe I still did too much, too early. I can't feel anything but my dick and even that isn't so great. Not that it matters now. Not that anything matters now. I should have stayed at the leather bar and offered myself up for a real dose of humiliation. Maybe that's what I actually wanted all along. But now it's too late for that, as well.
My host seems like he's ready and I'm ready to get him off and get out. He puts the condom on me, smears it with lube, does himself. Again, I don't have to do thing. It's just like acting -- I stand and watch Jimmy do everything, while Ron directs it all. I feel like they are in the room right now. Directing. I look around for the camera.
I'd prefer he didn't look at me, that this guy turn the fuck away and not push his humanity in my face. But he wants it otherwise and the customer is always right. Right? He wants to pretend he's 'making love' -- Sure, why not? Nothing like pretending to fall in love at first sight with someone you've never seen before and will never see again. I don't believe it. Didn't then, don't now. And those who DO believe in it -- they are fucking deluding themselves. Especially if I'm the one they think they are in love with. I can think of three right off the top of my head -- and all the wasted time and wasted hopes and wasted tears haven't made a fucking bit of difference. I'm still the same unfeeling asshole that everyone says I am. That hasn't changed an iota.
"What?" My mind is wandering while I'm getting ready to fuck the shit out of this guy. And this will be one hell of a frustration fuck. He should enjoy it -- he seems pretty frustrated, too.
"What did you say?"
"What's your name? I want to say your name."
No way. "It's not important."
"Please tell me."
"Just forget about it. Say any fucking name you want. Dealer's choice." The last thing I need is to hear this guy say my name. Any of them. That would be the worst thing of all.
He's tighter than hell and not making it any easier by his theatrics. Moaning and thrashing around. I might as well just sit back and watch him roll around. But if he's enjoying himself, I guess that's all that matters. He might want to think about investing in a good fuck for himself more regularly -- it might take some of the strain off of his heart.
"I'm ready to shoot." He's sounds apologetic.
"Okay, whenever you're ready, I'm ready." Thank Christ.
"Could you say MY name -- I mean, when I cum? When you cum?"
What is it with these guys and names? What the fuck is the deal? It's just a word. A meaningless sound.
"All right. I'll say your fucking name -- but I'm almost ready. Let's go for it."
"Justin," he whispers.
I fucking freeze. "What did you say?"
"Justin. That's my name! Say it! NOW!" And he's shooting all over. And my own dick is retreating like someone just set fire to it. Retreating so fast and so hard it's like He is trying to climb back up into my body and escape out of the top of my head.
Here's the mind-fuck I wanted! Now I really know Fate has me marked out for the kill.
The guy is not even noticing. He's sighing and so happy he's practically humming. He doesn't notice that I've gone catatonic on the inside. I'm standing up, finding my pants, my tee shirt, collecting my shit. No, I don't want a cup of coffee. I don't want to stay the night. I don't want to look at you again or say your fucking name. I never said it, anyway. You never even noticed.
Yes, he can drive me somewhere. Back to the Strip. Back to my car. Anywhere out of here and away from you.
In the car he's talking and talking. That's okay, because if I listen to his meaningless chatter I don't have to concentrate. Don't have to think. I touch my dick through my jeans. It's never been this limp in my life. This anesthetized. I should have ended it a year ago with that massive hard-on in the loft, with the scarf. Fucking Mikey! Now I'll go pitifully, with even my cock failing in the end. That's Fate doing it. That's Karma.
"You're really beautiful. That was the greatest. Can I call you? Can I kiss you? Can I touch your dick again? Can I have your number? What's your name?" The same questions, always. I'll never have to hear them again. Never have to fend them off again. I can finally have a little peace and quiet.
The trick -- the guy -- I can't say his name even in my mind -- drops me off by the parking lot. He's hesitant to let me leave. He thinks I'm drunk, but can't figure out how I got that way.
"I'm just tired. Really tired," I say. "I have to -- I've got get home. I -- I have to feed the dog."
Shit if he doesn't buy this. Queers and their fucking dogs! He hesitates again and then pulls out in the street and is gone with the wind.
The two parking attendants see me and come straight over.
"Mr. Kinney -- are you okay? Are you all right?"
Stop being concerned about me, I want to yell. Why is everybody always so concerned about me? I don't want you to care! I don't want anyone to care! But I just say, "It's fine. I'm fine."
They look at me dubiously. These two are both young, good-looking. Aspiring actors -- aren't they all? They probably study and save their money and go to auditions and work these crummy jobs parking cars or waiting tables or cleaning dog shit off people's expensive lawns. Maybe they are good. Maybe they care about what they are doing. Have a passion for it. And didn't fall into a film because the director couldn't get enough of your ass when you were sixteen. Now THAT'S truly pathetic.
They try to stop me from getting into the Mustang. One of the guys -- the blond -- wants to drive me home. He'll get a cab back. I look at him. He's like a fucking surfer-boy. No way I'm getting into a car with HIM.
I slide into the driver's seat and empty my pockets of all my cash. Ron's rolled up new hundred. The seventy-five, plus the bathroom ten from the trick, I mean, the john, whatever-the-fuck -- Justin -- there -- I fucking thought it! -- gave me. Some other odds and ends of bills and change. I roll it all up and slip it into surfer-boy's breast pocket.
"Take your pal out and have a fabulous time on me. So long, boys."
Before they can protest, I lurch the Mustang out on the street and turn back up the Strip, back towards the Ron side of town.
I'm on autopilot most of the way back. It's late, it's the middle of the week, there aren't THAT many other cars for me to hit once I get off the main drag.
Fuck me if the Mustang doesn't really seem to find its way home.
I get into the driveway and try to steer a straight path. At least I'm off the fucking road. I swerve and try for the brake, but I pop the clutch instead and the thing skids off the asphalt onto the lawn. Whoa!
The Mustang is jammed up against a tangle of bushes and weeds at the end of the drive. The more I gun the engine, the more it spins and spins. Then it stalls out. Fuck it.
I grab my jacket and stagger towards the house. It's been a long, long way up this road.
I go to the front door. That's how I came out when I left and how I'll go back in. Avoid the kitchen and the dog and the possible intervention of my lovely nemesis, the Mexican Spitfire. Will she ever be happy to have been right about everything! It's nice to make one person completely happy in your life.
I stop and sit on the step up to the front door. I take out a bag and open it with my teeth. I fucking spill most of it all over myself. I snort some off my hands, off the little envelope, off my red tee shirt. The Powerpuff Girls. What's the secret ingredient? What gives them the power? I don't know the answer. I don't even know what gave ME the power and so I don't know how I lost it.
The front door is unlocked. It's quiet as a tomb. I pull off my boots and drop them there. I must have left my jacket on the front steps. I try to unbutton my jeans, but my fingers feel numb. I can only get the top one undone. Fuck it.
The bedroom isn't dark. I was hoping it would be dark. But one light is on -- the reading lamp. Ron and another fucking script. He's picking and choosing his way through all the offers he's getting. Oh, he's the buyer, now. He doesn't have to hustle anymore. When his movie makes a big splash, he'll be in the clover.
But what picture? I want to say. What movie NOW, Ron? Maybe they can computer-generate me. I know -- you said that my ass does all the real acting in the flick. It won't take much to make that a reality. They'll hardly even need my face to get a final cut.
He's playing Marvin Gaye. His depression music. Poor Ron. "What Going On?" indeed. He must have missed me. I'm so touched.
I fall on the bed like a fucking tree. Timber! Now I'm numb. Now I'm down. My heart isn't pounding any more. I can't feel my feet, my hands. Socrates -- when the hemlock reaches your heart, it'll be all over.
When I close my eyes it's warm and dim. Not completely dark. That blue glow suffuses everything. It never fails. Something about that light that makes you feel like you're in another place. A place that's always safe. You could just be yourself and wouldn't have to pretend. With Justin I didn't have to pretend. He was on to me -- and he was still there. Why couldn't I believe it? Or let myself believe it? The best thing I ever did was to let him escape. That may give me some points for compassion. I need some points for something.
I see Ron's face. The look of surprise. Why is he surprised? What's the shock? What's the damage here? He's shaking me, but I can't feel his hands on me, only the movement. I shut my eyes. That blue light is filling me up and I'm smiling.
"Brian! For Godsake, say something! SAY SOMETHING!"
I don't want to open my eyes again. But I'll do it one more time. Why not?
"Hey, Ron. Table for one?"
Later, Baby. Later.
Continue on to "Goddess of the Hunt", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, June 2002
Pictures of Gale Harold from "Paper Magazine."
Updated June 9, 2002