Chapter 1: A Sight for Sad Poets
SEATTLE. OCTOBER, 1987.
The cold and rainy Sunday's of Seattle keep me going. Most people hate them, as it slows down traffic to and from church, but I strayed away from those troubles ages ago. Not an ounce of regret came from that. Escaping the Mormon religion was one of the best things I've ever done even if it costed me my family and a home, I didn't mind. I still ended up with what I wanted.
Isolation from those I couldn't even begin to tolerate.
But back to the cold and rainy Sunday I was talking about. The water rolled down my windowpanes and I could hear it streaming down from where my window was flipped out. Nothing but a few drops would get in so there was nothing to worry about. I could hear everything. The city was quiet when it rained...unless car horns and sirens aren't quiet, but most of us in the city have gotten used to it.
I had my fair share of experiences with loud noises like those. Travelling by foot for however many miles changes people. I saw so many things that I'd rather not remember, experienced people who I hope to never see again, and got into habits I have yet to break. But, I wasn't ashamed. I made a name for myself. It wasn't a known name, but I made it. I wasn't just this gay guy from a broken home, I was Frank Iero. I worked at a corner shop, and lived in an apartment right above it. Well, six floors up. But it's the same thing either way. It was a convenient job, since I already go there daily for cigs. My days off felt like my days where I worked, which was fine by me. Other regular customers would try to talk to me, but when I was off, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I spent most of my days in this apartment, making mediocre art and writing shitty songs. Most of my clothes were stained with paint, but I was told it gave me character. Character that I didn't ask for. Men at gay bars said I seem like the poetic type, but I beg to differ.
I don't consider myself anything in specific, but I'm not a poet. I'm far too whiny to be one. Nobody would read my metaphors for a sob story. I am so far from a poet that the idea of being one is humorous to me. I'm just a writer. I write stories. Poetry is too easy. You could write two words, and slab the label 'poetry' on to it, and everyone would think it was flawless. Writing gives me a challenge, something to distract myself from the world around me. Distract myself from the slurs and profanities yelled at me when I roamed the streets. You'd think in such a big city, word wouldn't move around fast, but when it's this word, it does. I was always raised to treat others equally, rich or poor. But when this word was applied to someone, God forbid we treat them normally. God forbid we don't beat them until they can't move. God forbid we treat them normally for loving someone. This lousy book that we follow contradicts itself in so many ways. Treat everyone with love, but if they're a faggot don't go near them. Unless you're going to spit on them– which I wouldn't recommend, some of us like that– or if you're going to beat them to a pulp. I mean, I guess I've always been an introvert. So the 'don't go near fags' rule benefits me to a small extent.
* • * • *
Work was slow today. An older man came in, trying to purchase chewing tobacco but we were out of the brand he wanted, so he threw a big fit. I swear I almost got fired. It took everything in me to not give the guy a piece of my mind and curse at him until he just left. Long story short, I was passive aggressive with him and got him hooked on a different brand of tobacco. It only took fifteen minutes, a lot of staring from other customers, and several valley girls apologizing to me and saying stuff like "Hey, you should come over, I know how stressful work can be." or "Here's my number, call me after you get off.". Sorry ladies, I'm not interested. I thought I was pretty obviously gay, but apparently not. Guess their gaydar has malfunctioned.
The last guy in the built up line from the older man approached the counter and looked behind me, "Can I have a pack of Camels?", the man points to them, but I don't bother turning around. Wow, this guy could sweep me off my feet and take me home right now, and I wouldn't oblige, "Sir? The Camels?" He repeats himself, and I quickly turn back to give them to him. "Sorry, it's been a slow work day. Already drowsy, that'll be uh-" He cuts me off, holding his money up. "One dollar and sixty cents, I know." He seems uninterested in communicating, and gives me exact change. I nod him off as he goes off with his cigarettes, walking out so I'll never see him again. Which will be good in the long run. A poet would write a poem about this. But I'm so far from a poet.
Chapter 2: Cancer Sticks and the Smell of Sweat in the Air
I'm not one to ponder on anything, nor do I ever remember faces. But I remember this boy so much. He had hazel eyes, a cute nose, and his eyebrows were a mess. His voice was rough when he spoke but it was nice. I found myself looking for him when I'd work. He wasn't put together enough to be gay. The boy with his Camel cancer sticks was definitely not a fag. But, that was something I'd have to come an accept, right? Fags like me can't try and flirt with some random person we just met. We don't have that luxury of just being able to find and flirt with whoever we find attractive. I would rather be caught dead than end up flirting with a straight guy.
*• *• *
My apartment was cold once again. The freezing rain streamed down my window, distorting everything behind it. It was my kind of silent. All I could hear was the sirens from the fire trucks and police cars going through the streets. Maybe, just maybe, those sirens are signalling my apartment complex was finally on fire. I lean over on my couch and feel the floor. It was cold to the touch, so that meant one of two things. The building was on fire and it has yet to reach my floor, or the fire is just down the street. Either one is fine I guess. Beggars can't be choosers.
The rest of my night consisted of making myself several bowls of cereal. Cheerios each time. Not the ones with honey, just plain and bland Cheerios. I didn't think I was missing out on anything. The honey Cheerios were just fifty-cents extra, for a little bit of sweet. If I cared enough, I could go and get some honey and pour it on my cereal. Bam. I'm a fucking survivalist. Nobody can touch me, I got my homemade Honey Nut Cheerios.
It was at this moment I realized just how sad my situation was. I'm a 22 year old man, getting cocky about his crafty Cheerios. Maybe if that boy with his Camels and straight black hair was here, we could be dancing around to music like those straight couples in movies do. We could be like Baby and Johnny, Oliver and Jenny, or Holly and Paul...But with the slight change of character, as we'd both be men. Or boys. My mother always told me that fags would never become men, and mother knows best. I guess. Either way, we'd both be boys. We'd do the cute stuff that those couples would do. We could complain about how Hollywood gave us nobody to look up to growing up, nobody to sympathize with, nobody to relate to. Censorship wouldn't allow us to, and it probably never will. Without censorship, everyone know that the famous artists Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were fags just like me. Censorship correlates to our everyday lives. God is watching, and he doesn't like when you talk about sucking cock. God wants you to be a perfect straight boy, who impregnates a woman and has a good family. Mother always said stuff like that. She told me that when I asked about gay guys, curious to find out if I was one. She grounded me that weekend, and I was forced to watch Rom-coms with her because she wouldn't let me watch cartoons, the most I got was Jesus cartoons during youth group at church. That was my punishment. If only little eleven year old Frank knew what was coming when he came out the next year. If only he knew the tears that would be streaming down his face the second he spoke out, "I'm gay. I like boys."
Everyone in my neighborhood assumed my father murdered me until he let everyone else know somebody else did it. He said I told someone on my walk back from home, and they murdered me there. When in reality, he kept me in my room everyday, locked the door, and let me know that I wasn't ever leaving that house until I knew that I was delusional and I didn't love men. My siblings immediately became ashamed of me. Maybe my closest brother would come to defend me, but oh no. He didn't. He broke the knob on my door so I couldn't get out. They all thought I was a crazy twelve year old, I was too young to know what I wanted. But I didn't believe them. That was when I stopped believing everything my family told me. When I began to believe myself. I believed myself when I said I like men, and I believed myself when I said I could make it on my own. Of course, I was right, but it took awhile for me to be right. I didn't have a steady home until I was 19. I lived there for nine months before my landlord found out I was gay, and kicked me out. No one night stand is worth that. I wanted to bag my face forever, stay out of the public eye. But that's when everyone in that town knew I was gay and I finally decided that everyone in the next place I lived would know who I am.
There's only a few openly gay people in my current complex. There's the lesbian in apartment 104, and there was the bisexual above me. The owner of this complex is gay himself, but you only know that if you've seen him at the gay bars. Which, I happened to be smoking with him at when I told him my living situation at the time. So, he let me rent out his favorite apartment. Since then, he's tried getting into my pants many times. Progressively he began to flirt less often, and I couldn't be happier. It's not because he's unattractive, more so because I don't want personal feelings getting in the way of me having a place to live. All it would take was one fight and I could be back on the streets getting spit on.
* • * •*
Work was slow as one would assume. I don't think I've ever described my day at the drug store as anything other than slow and painful. Maybe I've said it was gnarly in a sarcastic tone, but usually when I'm asked about work, it's when I find myself going home with these random men. They don't care about my day. They care about the tattoos inked on my skin and ask, "How many more are they?" as they take off whatever shirt I'm wearing and throw it to the side. I'll say, "Just one more on my hip." and then they look to make sure I'm not lying. These men remove my pants and see no tattoos there so they look at my ass to really make sure. Maybe my moans and whines will help them see my the other tattoos. But once they don't find more ink, it's over and I'm sent back home. The same tattoos will still be there, but I sit in the back of a taxi with the driver waiting for me to strike a conversation. We make eye contact through the rear view mirror, until I shift my gaze to the window to watch the buildings fade into the fog as we drive away.
And I'd end up back where I am today. Standing behind this counter and briefly talking to stranger after stranger. Giving them their change, giving them their cancer sticks. Anxiously awaiting for this boy to come in and ruin my life once more. I'd accept my fate of never seeing him again if I could just see him once more. This time I'd find each and every one of the things that could turn me away from him. Maybe strike a conversation and try and make myself hate him through those words alone.
The radio that broadcasts through the store was playing a station where the host was talking about the AIDs crisis. Someone else was diagnosed with it and the host went on about these issues that come from it. I've never felt so awkward before, I could feel someone staring at me. But I just kept staring at that radio. I got tested recently, I know I don't have it, but I still fear it. That disease could kill me instantly. I'd be the kid who died of AIDs in the apartment filled with fags. God, that's not how I want to go. I don't want it to be on my obituary that I died of AIDs. I rather be brutally murdered on my way home. Something I could barely prevent.
"Sir. Camels please." A male clears his voice, holding his money towards me.I snap back into reality, and start helping him. "What's your damage, man?" He asks, his tone revealing that he was annoyed. I just shrug in response when I take his money. It's exact change, so I put it in the drawer and turn around to grab the Camels and the male walks off. I snap back to reality and watch the dude walk out. That's the boy with his straight black hair. I didn't even get to find his flaws. All I got was his perfect monotonous voice that I didn't even recognize in the moment. I'd find myself waiting for him once again. Maybe next time I'll find everything wrong with him while he browses through the story.
* • * • *
The bar wreaked of cigars, sweat and alcohol, but I didn't mind it too much. Although, I didn't care for the two guys who were making out using me as their wall. The taller guy had the other pinned against my back, while I just tried to shimmy away. The shorter male whispered to me when he took a breath, "Maybe it'd be better for you to join us.". His words make me pull away instantly and I chuckle at the two men once they're on the ground. The taller one looks angry, so I make sure to merge into the crowd of dancing flamers. A drag queen was dancing around in his dramatic makeup, his fake tits falling from his shirt.
This had to be one of the most run down gay bars, but I couldn't go to a high profile one. They always think I'm too young and don't let me in. J&L Saloon brought all the bondage freaks into one place for everyone else to experience them. A few straight couples would come in here but you wouldn't see them here long, they'd see the fags grinding against each other and would either look at them and respectfully leave or they'd fake a gag and run out. Straights love to make a scene whenever they can. However, so do we. We're flamboyant. We sure do have that in common.
"Hey cutie..." A warm breath hits the back of my neck. A cloud of smoke flowing past my face, causing my eyes to burn. I was used to smoke from cigarettes, but the smell and smoke from his marijuana was so overpowering. Once my coughing fit is over the male continues to speak. "...Do you not smoke? Could always take you to one of the private rooms, there's no smoking in those."
I turn to face him and look him up and down. He's taller than me by a couple inches, and his eyes are all red. "Don't wanna be caught with grass, do you? C'mon." I lead him over to one of the private rooms, and a smirk is painted on his face.
"Mmm, persistent aren't you babyboy?" The man slurs out, and I roll my eyes. I just hum in response to him and sit with him in the private room, shutting the curtain behind us. He pulls me onto the couch and he's touching my ass.
"What's your n-" He cuts me off by smashing his lips into mine. It's not a passionate or deep kiss, it is simply just this man pressing his chapped lips against mine and moving them around. There is no intimacy, there is just lust. This random man has not even told me his name yet, but here we are. Making out on this sex couch. This ripped up leather couch is not unfamiliar to me, as I've been in this exact room many times. These neon lights had shone all over me plenty of the times, giving the room a mood for sex. But a leather couch was never my ideal environment for making love, but that is definitely not what we were doing. We're fucking with no strings attached. No name, no good introduction, no conversations. This guy clearly couldn't afford to attach any kind of thread to this fuck. He was experimenting. This guy didn't know if he was a flamer or not. I wouldn't be the one to break it to him that if he's feeling anything towards a guy that he'll automatically be deemed as a fag. Even if he was bisexual, his girlfriend wouldn't care and neither would his family. Sure he likes women, but fuck, he likes men. That overrules any straight bone in this man's body.
This straight man continues to kiss me, his hands moving to undress me. I pull away, "Why are you here?" I whisper against his neck, leaving a soft peck against the skin. His hands stop moving up my shirt, and I hear him take a deep breath. I've caught him. He's a dear and my headlights are shining onto him. He goes to say something and stops himself. We're both thinking about what the answer could be.
"It's a Friday night, where else would I be?" He answers, his voice shaky. I really am a genius.
"At home...With your girlfriend." I remark, and his face goes pale. "What's your name?"
He's hesitant to answer, but he can't shut me up with a kiss this time. "It's Ray...Ray Toro." Ray chokes out his words, and the name rings a bell.
"I've seen your name in the phone books. Before that is Christa Toro. Is that your sister...or maybe that girlfriend I asked about earlier?" My words make him angry and I can see that in his facial expressions. Ray shoves me away and stands up, beginning to pace.
"Yes. She's my wife, but that's none of your business." He pulls a pack of cigarettes and takes one of his cancer sticks out to smoke. He doesn't leave yet, so I take my opportunity to taunt him more.
"You guys have any kids?" I lean back and light a cigarette of my own, taking a drag and puffing out smoke. Ray looks down at me before answering,
"We have a baby on the way..." He sits down next to me, a look of defeat replacing anger. "I've been questioning myself for awhile...So I found myself here. I don't think I'm straight." He gets choked up again and I chuckle, watching him sit back down and put his face in his palms.
I take another drag from a cigarette, clouds of the smoke puffing out as I speak. "I hope you enjoyed your wedding, because faggots don't have that opportunity."
"I'm not divorcing her! I still like women!" He defends himself, "I think I'm bisexual."
I scoot closer to him and lower my voice, keeping it stern. "Nobody is going to care that you're married to a woman. Nobody is going to give a shit if you like vagina. If she finds out, she'll leave you. She'll tell all your friends and family, and they'll immediately think you are gay. Once they think you're gay, they'll be scared you have AIDs." The more I speak, the more stress and fear I put on him, "Nobody will ever talk to you the same way again. They'll know you as Ray, that one faggot we shut out years ago."
"You know what, I don't need to hear your fucking bullshit!" Ray grabs me by the collar of my jacket, digging his cigarette butt into the skin in my neck. I yell out in pain, but he silences me with a large hand over my mouth. He throws a punch, and my head slams against the leopard print wall. "You don't know shit about me!" Ray hits me once more before walking out of the private room, and I just laugh. I get two punches to the face and a burn that'll definitely scar and what do I do? I laugh. I'm in so much goddamn pain but what am I doing? I'm fucking laughing. I can't help it. Denial really does hurt us. I never went through that denial, I never let myself. But this guy wasn't denying it, but now he is. He's taken his denial out on me, and he won't ever forget that. He'll remember the first time he said he was bisexual, and he'll remember my lecture, and he'll remember hitting me.
He'd remember me forever. There's no way he wouldn't. I'm sure I was the first person to put him in his place and tell him the truth. "Tell your wife I said I pity her, Toro!" I call out, hoping he heard me. If God was listening he'd bring that man back in here to throw one more blow to my head. He'd let Ray kill me if he was really here to answer my prayers.
Chapter 3: The Cold Feeling of my Cement Floor on a Rainy Day
Of all the days for my couch to break, this had to be the one. How did it break one might ask? Oh nothing, all I did I was fucking sit down. You know, just did the thing a couch is made for. I don't know how long I was expecting a thrift store couch to last but I was expecting a lot more than four months. I just wanted a cheap yellow couch so when I saw one at the thrift store I thought to myself, "Isn't that fucking amazing! A yellow couch!". I didn't stop to think that a couch so visually appealing would break so easily and so soon. But that's just my luck, isn't it? I find something I like and it goes terribly wrong. It's gonna bite me in the ass because now I have to get a new couch, and any other color won't go well with such a bland living room. So I have to take time out of my day to search for a goddamn yellow couch. You know what? I don't need a couch. I can sit on my cold floor. Take that. I'm sure a poet could come in here and write a poem about my sad little life without my couch. A poet would cry about some dumb shit like this. But I'm not crying, because I'm not a sensitive person like all the poets out there.
I bet that boy with his straight black hair is a poet. He has the look of one. The scarves he's worn the six times I've seen him now are the ones only a poet would ever wear. They had these ugly patterns on them, and his neck was always covered by them. The only time I didn't see him wear one was the last time I saw him. He was wearing a dark green corduroy Sherpa with these ugly tight khaki pants. He's a poet who thinks he's revolutionized the fashion of the 80's. His black hair covered the lining of the Sherpa. He was definitely due for a haircut. But somehow his ugly, long and straight hair was still appealing to me. I wish I could get this terrible straight poet out of my head. He's everything I despise. He smoked Camels when Lucky Strikes were clearly superior. He's a whiny poet. And I saved the worst for last, he's straight. I would never have the luck of falling for someone gay unless I met them at a gay bar. Clearly, I've fallen for this straight poet. Maybe if I had met him somewhere else he would've been gay, but I didn't. I met him in public, so he's definitely straight. Why does God make all the attractive guys straight? If God answers to prayers, why hasn't he talked to me? If all my prayers were answered by our Father, I wouldn't be sitting on this cold floor while rain came in through my window and puddled on the floor. I'd be in a nice apartment with drywall rather than an exposed and worn down brick wall. We'd have the nicest decorations, and the newest technology...And my poet would be gay. I'd have a chance.
But that's not my situation. I'm sitting on my cold floor. I'm all alone and it's almost completely silent. I hear the dripping of the rain, and that's it. No sirens right now. Just the passing by of cars and their tires making a splash. I don't have cute and bright decorations. I am just in my simple apartment with unfinished canvases that have just a splash of paint here and there on the walls, exposing the art fag I am. But the best part of it all is my broken couch. Cracked right in the middle. I just had to wait for my landlord to come collect it tomorrow and then it really will be empty in here. Maybe I could get a carpet. A nice yellow carpet that would be so much better and less expensive than a yellow couch. I can sit on a carpet. I can lay down on a carpet too. Seems just as good as an ugly yellow couch.
I'm sure that poet boy from the drug store wouldn't be caught dead with a broken couch. Definitely not a grody yellow one either. He probably has a brown leather couch with some paintings from an artist nobody knows behind it. My wonderful poet probably thinks he's too good for any kind of T.V. and listens to everything through his radio. He probably has one of those big telephones that he can carry around with him but why would anyone ever need that? The hazel eyed boy with his straight black hair probably has it just to feel superior and whine about the poor signal when he's in public.
Scaring me out of my tantrum, someone knocked at my door which made me yell out. "Frankie! Here to pick up that couch and take it down for you!", and it was the legend himself, my landlord. A day early but for once I didn't mind it. The couch would be gone and I'd have some company.
I get up from the cold floor, and call out to him to signal that I'm letting him in. I forget just how intimidating he looks every time I see him again, "Hey Dave.". I give him a convincing smile and gesture for him to come in, opening the door all the way to make sure the broken couch was in plain view. The taller male walks in and I close the door behind him. I hear him laughing which just makes my eyes roll on their own.
"My broken couch is not funny. That's forty dollars down the drain for me." I cross my arms and look at the other, while he continues to laugh.
"Just yesterday I was carrying this up the stairs for you. Splurge on a couch next time and maybe I'll be up here less." Dave punches my shoulder playfully and I slap his hand away playfully. He rolls his eyes back to me and I just walk over to the couch. "Stop being so impatient, I'm getting it." I hate how well this guy knows me. I've been around him far too much recently. "So, that shiner of yours has really faded, ever gonna tell me how you got it?" He asks me as he pulls a screwdriver from his belt and starts unscrewing whatever was on the couch.
I shake my head, "No. I was telling someone the truth and there's nothing else to it.". Dave nods and looks back to me, looking at my eye so I just hide it so he can't see it.
"I'm sure you were saying a lot more than just the truth, Frank. You run your mouth a lot." I scoff at his words. There he goes, knowing me way too much. "Tell me what happened."
I sigh, and roll my eyes once more. "His name was Ray. He was this tall man I met at the bar..."
"Was it the same guy at the drugstore?"
"No, shut up and let me finish." Dave puts his hands up in surrender and I continue, "He was some random man. Bold of you to assume I even know the guy from the drugstore's name. Anyway, he took me to a private room and I was bored. I wasn't really horny so I asked him a few questions. He said he had a wife and a baby on the way. He was bisexual, so I told him nobody cares that he likes women. All anyone will care about is the fact that he's a fag. So he punched me." I shrug and sit back down on the floor, watching Dave do his thing.
"You're the most homophobic gay I've ever met." Dave chuckles and I can't tell if what he said was sarcastic or not.
"Not as homophobic as God. He made us just to suffer because apparently it's a sin to suck dick." I bring my knees to my chest, "I'm not homophobic. I just was telling the guy the truth."
Dave looks back at me, "Sometimes it's not your place to preach these things. I'm sure your dad would just love to hear that you think you're a preacher now."
"My dad rather hear that I'm six feet under and terribly mutilated." And with those words, I've silenced Dave. Nobody knows how to reply to that shit. I see him go to speak but going back to disassembling the couch. I consider this a win. He can't tell me off if he can't even respond to the things I've said. Dave knows my past more than anyone else does. He'd walk in on me when I was sad and force me to speak about it. That's why I couldn't be too harsh with Dave. He was my outlet and my source of shelter. Two things I need. I needed the outlet to keep myself from going insane and I needed the shelter to keep myself alive.
Dave continued to take apart my dumbass couch, the awkward silence lingering for a couple more minutes before he finally spoke. "You know how you have that spare bedroom?" He asks me, looking back to me. I nod, and bite at my thumb nail.
"Don't try to give me ideas for it. I don't plan on doing anything with it." And again, he's put his hands up in surrender.
"I was just gonna ask for you to do me a favor in return for the shit I've done for you." He says, putting his tools down. "I know this kid around your age that's gonna need a place to crash until he's back on his feet. He came out to his family and they kicked him out, so he moved in with his boyfriend. They broke up and now he's homeless once again. Can you just be a decent human being and save this kid from being homeless for just a month?" He expects me to live a sane life with a roommate? I know he's a pothead, but he doesn't get high at these hours. What the hell has gotten into him? Dave is staring at me and I guess it's my time to answer. If I said no, I'd still owe him something and he could ask for something else. If I said yes, I'd be suffering in the safety of my own home for a month. But I wouldn't owe anything to him. "Frank, you need to stop doing that thing where you stand and stare. It's creepy sometimes, I always think you're plotting my murder."
Without hesitation I respond with, "I am." And he puts his hands up in surrender once again. "I'll let the kid stay with me, but don't expect me to be friends with him. I want a new couch before someone moves in with me."
"I'll find you one, man. Thank you for letting him stay. He goes by Arthur." He separates some pieces of the couch and gives me a friendly smile. "Thank you for keeping a kid off the cold Seattle streets."
"Cold as in temperature wise or people wise?"
* • * • *
The days were getting colder as time passed. My walks around the city were getting harder to do now that the air felt thinner. Everyone on the street had their face hidden behind woven scarves to mask their rosy skin. My coat was getting worn out and didn't keep me as warm as it once did, but I couldn't be bothered to buy a new one. My yellow and black Northface was beginning to die on me. It's about time the rest of my past fades away. If I get hypothermia, oh well. I doubt I will but one can only hope. The drug store had a good heater to keep me warm through the day which only made the outdoors feel so much colder when it came time to leave. With my lack of luck, I wasn't leaving until the temperature was at it's lowest. I would get to suffer the sweet feeling of the cold nipping at my skin until I can get into the apartment building. Sure, it wasn't a long walk because I lived upstairs but the minute I'd have to suffer was not gonna be fun.
The bells from the door ring, but I don't see who walks in over the aisles of shelves so I look up at the screen behind me and see him. The black haired poet with his ugly green corduroy jacket. His hair is wet and I finally notice it's been sleeting outside. He's here. He's in the same building as me. He's in my presence. Do I say hello? Do I ignore him? Oh fuck. What do I do? I see him look my direction in the cameras and immediately turn back around, keeping my head down. He saw me looking at him, didn't he? "I'm not stealing anything...It's just cold out there so I'm taking shelter. Is that okay?" He saw me staring at him. Oh god, his raspy voice is just as nice as I remember, but less monotonous. My black haired and heterosexual poet was talking to me and I couldn't find the words to respond. All I had to say was 'it's fine' but my body wasn't letting me respond. God, please let me answer him. I'm begging you. I look up and see his hazel eyes still looking my direction and I feel my cheeks get hot. Please don't let me be blushing from this man just looking at me. "Dude, I understand you're a huge flamer but don't fucking look at me like that. You faggots need to watch yourself before you get your ass beat by someone who takes their phobia out on others." He scoffs, and just like that he's ruined everything I made him out to be. The boy who once ruled my dreams and thoughts had officially ruined it. I knew he was straight to begin with part of me had hoped he was at least bisexual. Once the slurs slipped from his mouth it all sunk in and the reality check slapped me in the face. I had really been falling for this homophobic poet for weeks just for him to shut me down without even rejecting my flirting. I simply just looked at him and he knew.
There went the dreams of my hazel eyed poet.
Chapter 4: A Stranger in the Neon Lights and a Lover in the Back of my Mind
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It's been a good week since my poet with his long black hair ruined my daydreams he'd once roamed around in. I never even got to learn his name. But that's all behind me now, I won't be caught dead thinking about this poet. I'm not going to dwell on someone who wastes their time crying on to a page and letting the ink immortalize their feelings. I wouldn't be caught dead letting a sorry excuse for an author hurting my heart and tearing down my dreams simply by calling me a faggot. I'd just dance and drown out the feelings at J&L Saloon like I always do. It was Friday night which meant I just had to wear my best clothes for the disco. I was wearing a yellow t-shirt with a white button-up that had different colored shapes on it and finished off the outfit with black high waisted jeans and a belt. I didn't bother putting it as tight as I needed because I knew someone would be taking it off within an hour. Probably even sooner. I'd say "Hey, doll. I'm Frank, what's you're name?" even if I didn't really care about the name behind the man getting ready to make me suck his dick or snort a line of coke off his chest. He'd respond, "You're so hot. Want you so bad." while he's already breathing heavy. When I deny the dust upon his sweaty chest he'd have a cow and brush it off and leave me behind. I'd have to look for another man to seduce and hopefully he was just as intoxicated as I was.
But I don't even know yet, I could find the love of my life and run out of the club with him tonight. We'd roam the quiet city streets and laugh as the cold rain would pour down on us. His black hair would stick to his pale face and his hazel eyes would glisten in the moonlight. He'd turn to me and we'd kiss. We'd spend the rest of our days being like those couples in the straight flicks I envied. But the guy I had pictured didn't love me. He was homophobic. He was a dumb poet. He'd beat me down and leave me for dead on the cold Seattle streets. The soft rain would wash away any memories I had of the night. And I'd be better off that way.
The night is still young, and I've yet to even walk into the club. I was sure I'd get one of the two scenarios I described and I'd have to accept it. I wave to the bouncer as I cut in front of the line, but he doesn't bother stopping me. He knows why I'm here. He knows I won't be long. I'm here to dance, drink, and get fucked before the night is over. Maybe if I achieved all those I'd make a great first impression on my new roommate. I'd be hungover, walking funny, and still filled with dread that I had actually opened my eyes to a new day.
As usual, the saloon was fogged up with smoke which only made the colorful lights and reflections from the disco ball look so much trippier. I can't imagine being buzzed on tabs like the others here, shit would look too fucking wild. I'd be too distracted by the lights to find my partner for the night. Speaking of which, I hadn't taken a look at any handkerchiefs tonight to see who was horny enough to follow me to the back room. Among all the dancing men, I finally find a good looking man with a navy blue handkerchief wrapped around his left arm. His light brown hair was covering his face, tucked behind his specs. He looked a little familiar but if he was one of my prior hookups, he'd just go off and continue what he was doing before I approached. I make my way over, making sure to walk with a sway to my hips. He smiled at me as I approached, but I stayed quiet as I danced near him. "Good music, yeah?" the male asks, moving over to put his hands on my hips. I nod, and take the handkerchief from his arm, tying it around my right arm swiftly. A smirk is painted on his face and the grip he has on my hips gets tighter. "My name is Michael." He mumbles and I put my finger on his lips, shushing him.
"I don't care." I smile, standing on my tip toes to kiss his lips. He tastes like cigarettes just like every other guy here. I pull away, trailing kisses on Michael's jaw until I'm close to his ear, "You wanna head back there? Or was this just for decoration?" I ask and gesture to the handkerchief.
"Lead the way, baby." Michael let's go of my hips and I take his hand, leading him through the crowd of drunken dancers and to my domain. When I was here, the regulars knew to leave it for me until I was done. It was my infamous routine. Get fucked by someone who was new to the saloon and head out. I'd get the rush of feeling something for as long as my temporary lover lasted. God, I'm sure that poet would make me feel something longer than a few moments. But that's behind me now. He's one of the ignorant assholes who can't let someone love who they want to love and I was just another faggot to him. I hate the way I am just as much as my poet hates it.
Michael kisses at my neck, his lips sloppily going over the skin and leaving a gross trail of saliva. None of this was hot for me. Not even his hand that was trailing down into my pants and palming me. Sure, I was already moaning out but it wasn't ideal for me. I was feeling things for once, but it was only physical. My attempt to feel something failed once again. Before he continues, I pull away. "Michael?"
"Mm, what is it, doll?" He asks, and I listen to see if he's slurring. I wouldn't be having sex with a drunk man and get accused of assaulting him. You never know with the guys here.
"Are you sober?" I ask, my finger trailing down his chest. "Sober enough to know you wanna do this?" Michael nods, holding his pinky up to me. I didn't understand what he was doing, so I just stared for a minute before he chuckled.
"It's a pinky promise, sweetheart." He playfully rolls his eyes and takes my pinky, wrapping his around mine. This whole interaction didn't make the most sense to me. Before I have much more time to think about it, he's pulling me back down into a rough kiss. I whine against his lips and grind my hips against him, a smirk appearing on my face when I feel him getting hard against me. It's not long before he's got my shirts off, and has started working on my belt. I usually kept my shirt on just for the sake of convenience, but for some reason I didn't find myself caring. God, let me feel something this time. Please, just this once. Let me feel anything.
I reach down and untuck Michael's shirt, making sure to keep our lips connected as long as I can before pulling it off. He lets out soft groans against my lips as I move my hips faster. Now, his pants are off and it's all getting real. This felt wrong, but it felt like something. God answered my prayers. It's not the best feeling, but fuck, it's something that isn't physical. For once, my conscience has spoken up and told me that I shouldn't be doing this, but I need to figure out why. So, I keep going. I let Michael slip on a rubber before he slides off my briefs. "C'mon, baby doll. Go ahead, start moving." For once, I do as told. I move up and down like he asks, moaning out in sync with the pace I was going at. It wasn't long before he moved us to where I was on my back, and he was doing all the work. Michael kisses at my neck as he begins to move faster, muttering out swears. Physically, this felt amazing. Anyone right outside the door would be able to tell you that. Mentally, the voice in my head was telling me how wrong this all was. Saying that I should be pushing him off, this is meant to be shared with the person you love. But I was feeling something. For once I was disgusted in myself. I didn't feel bad for Michael, it's not like I was hurting anyone's feelings, he was just like everyone else here. Looking for a hookup. All these guys see me as is another boytoy to cum on and leave for the night and so does Michael.
After plenty more thrusts, I feel Michael pull out and kiss at my neck. "God, you might just be the best I've had. We should do it again sometime." He whispers against my skin, and a smirk is painted on my face. I didn't feel good about what we just did, but this guy wanted to see me again? Someone enjoyed my time around them?
Oh my god.
Someone wanted to see me again. I was completely aware of the fact that it would just be a routine of hookups, but I'd have an excuse for a friend? There's be someone else in my apartment besides my landlord for the first time in months, and I'd have some type of company when I woke up in the morning to see Michael next to me. He'd be ready to leave the second he woke up but I still would've fallen asleep with someone next to me in my bed. Maybe he could replace my poet with jet-black and greasy hair. He almost had the same eyes as my poet too.
"Next time my wife is out of town, I'll call you. Wouldn't wanna go without feeling something like this ever again." And just like the poet, he crushed my series of dreams that I'd had. The small little fantasy I had was ruined now that I knew the casual sex wouldn't be frequent. I couldn't even pretend that I had a love life if it was once every few months.
It clearly took me a bit to come up with a response, because Michael gently shook me which most definitely meant I was doing the thing that Dave didn't care for, but I had no way to measure just how long I'd stared at the other. "Oh uh, yeah, sure. I'll give you my number and you can call me up again when she's out of town again, doll." I smirk up at him, giving him the illusion that I was still confident as could be. I couldn't let him know that I'd fantasized a small little future with him, that would be embarrassing. Mortifying, even. As we get dressed, I look up to see him pulling a little notebook from his pocket, along with a little pen. Once it's handed to me, I go against my best interest and write down my real number and hand it to Michael, and that's when I noticed my hands shaking. Michael didn't notice and left the room without another word. Just like always, I'm left alone on this couch with cracked leather and the flirtatious neon lights shone down on my sorrowful form. Why was I sad over a random man? This didn't happen any other time. I never felt good after fucking someone, but disgust didn't feel the same as the pain that was running through my body now.
It was a weird sensation to say the least. I know I said wanted to feel something, but this was not what I had in mind. The hurt was almost crippling as I tried to leave, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears. But I wouldn't admit that to anyone if they asked. Why am I hurting over yet another straight guy? I should know better. This has been my routine for months and not one did I ever fall for someone through my meaningless hookups...But nobody else had ever wanted to see me again like he did. That was all that was upsetting me. For once, someone wanted me around for more than one hookup. I never knew I wanted that until now. I'm so stupid for letting a simple favor fuck me over. I got so stoked over something that didn't even have a small chance of happening. How humiliating is that?
These thoughts weren't too crippling because I'd managed to make it home without any serious injuries. I had leaned against a wall to smoke a square and ended up scraping my elbow, but contrary to what one would assume, I didn't even cry about it.
*• *• *
I used to consider myself quite observant, but it'd surprise me if I was even aware of half the things that have been happening around me in the last few months. But in this moment I was aware that dancing on my countertop to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack could definitely be a tad dangerous. But I had to clean the dust off these cabinets before Arthur came to invade my house. My resolution for '88 is to not owe a thing to anyone, especially to Dave. My abode was going to have an intruder living in it. Maybe if he didn't wanna get kicked out, he shouldn't have been acting like a fag. I got kicked out and lived on the streets instead of just invading somebody's personal space. Granted, nothing was offered to me, but at least I didn't beg. Which I'm sure Arthur had definitely done to get my extra room. Yeah, nothing is in there, but it doesn't have to be changed. I like the look of it.
Actually, maybe 1988 will be the year I try to help others so they owe me instead of vice versa. I'll help my own kind, because I know others have it way worse than me. I was determined to make this space homey for this random fag who'd been abandoned. Beggars like him can't be choosers, but I won't keep the place looking like a jail cell.
Finally, there's footsteps and I assume it's either Arthur coming up to bless me with his presence, or Dave warning me of the blessing. I continue to tidy up, lighting a floral scented candle and plopping down on my couch. "Uh..." I hear from my doorway, and I'm hesitant to turn over as the voice strikes me as if it's dated in my memory, "Are you Frank?" the voice asks and I turn to face him. It's the boy with his straight black hair and that awful jacket he wore when he tainted my daydreams. Just my luck.
pls gimme comments they motivate me beyond belief