Quest (May 10, 2007)
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LAKE SHORE DRIVE at night has its own excitement, especially when one is hurtling toward a rendezvous with an unknown destiny. On one side of my car, Lake Michigan bears silent witness to the streams of cars heading north and south, headlights like glowing insect eyes, piercing the night. The other side of the highway is crowded with high-rises, their glass, chrome and concrete rising into the night: hives of activity within, quiet sentinels without.
When did gay men turn into no-charge prostitutes? Has it always been this way?
Whatever. I’m also wearing a Bulls T-shirt, the sleeves cut off raggedly, the neck cut low.
I take a swig of the beer, letting its cold bitterness snake down my throat, and turn up the tape player. Ironic. Leonard Cohen is singing, “There Ain’t No Cure for Love.”
I press down on the gas; ahead is my exit: Irving Park Road.
When I arrive, I see the apartment is a red brick six flat, identical to others all over the city. I ring the buzzer, and the guy doesn’t even bother to ask who it is. No difference. We never exchanged names anyway.
Trudging up the stairs, waiting for the shotgun-cocking sound of a lock being turned, a chain sliding back into place. Someone waits to admit me. Someone I don’t even know.
A door opens above.
What waits upstairs?
I round the bend and I see him. Nothing like his description, but who expected different? I am nothing like what I told him. No matter. As long as you’re male and reasonably young and acceptable, you’re in.
The guy has a good body and his lips curl into a grin as I head toward him, dragging on my Marlboro. He’s wearing a pair of black bikini briefs. His moment of glory: this is what he’s worked for all those long hours at the gym. Finally, someone to appreciate the shaved and defined pecs, the smooth washboard belly, the bulging biceps that I just know he will somehow maneuver to flex for me.
But he’s much older than what I had expected. Mid-40s probably. His reddish-brown hair is thinning and the blue eyes are framed by crow’s feet (a bottle of “eye-revitalizing” cream is in his medicine cabinet, I bet). The goatee, a desperate ploy to make himself look younger and hip, is embarrassingly ineffective. A cougar tattoo snakes down one of his arms.
“How you doin’?” I exhale a cloud of smoke and pass him as he opens the door wider to admit me.
“Great. Now that you’re here.”
The apartment is small, crowded with “contemporary” furniture: a black leather grouping in the living room, chrome and glass tables, spare jagged-looking twig and dried flower arrangements. On the walls, Herb Ritts posters of absurdly pumped-up young men in various settings: a garage, on the seashore.
The guy leads me into the bedroom. Platform bed, comforter thrown back, striped sheets. The nightstand holds the tools of his true trade: a plastic cup full of condoms he probably never uses, a couple of little brown bottles filled with butyl nitrate, a leather cock ring, a metal cock ring, and a large pump bottle of Wet. On the lower shelf, a stack of neatly folded, but ragged, white towels.
A dresser faces the bed and atop it, a color TV and DVD combination. On the screen, a wildly muscled dark-haired guy tries to sit on one of those orange traffic cones. Amazingly, he’s beginning to succeed.
The guy drops the black briefs and sits on the bed. Hoarsely: “Why don’t you get undressed, man?”
“Why don’t you do it for me.”
Instant supplicant, he’s on his knees before me, working the buttons on my jeans. I’m sure his eyes are glistening. Already his breath is coming faster.
I push his hand away. “Hold on.” I lift the goateed face up to my own and look in his blue eyes, where nothing but desire and trust mingle. “I want you to lie down on the bed. Lie on your stomach.”
He gets up and does as he’s told. The half-moons of his ass practically glow in the darkness. A thin, whiter line disappears in his crack, where his thong was. The definition in his arms shows up perfectly as he raises his arms above his head to clutch the pillow.
His legs are parted, waiting.
“I just need to do something real quick. You stay right there.” I look back at him as I exit the room. “You’re a good boy, right? Do what you’re told?”
In the kitchen, I go quickly through the drawers until I find the one with the knives. For the first time, I get hard, and I think of the blood pumping, filling the spongy cavities.
The blood. Essence of life.
I strip down, leaving my clothes in a pile on the kitchen floor. I hope that I don’t bring any cockroaches home.
I hold the butcher knife I chose to my side, concealing it with my arm, and head back to the bedroom.
He still lies there, waiting and trustful, thinking he’s about to be penetrated.
And he is.
I move quickly to the bed and the guy is perfect: he closes his eyes, pulling the little brown bottle to his nose and inhaling deeply, for what seems like about 30 seconds in each nostril. Then he moves the little bottle to his mouth and inhales through that as well.
Just as I raise the knife, he turns to hand me the bottle of poppers. He sees the knife in my hand and for a moment, he doesn’t know what to think.
What’s wrong with this picture?
The confusion registers in his eyes, then it’s replaced by terror. He half sits up, scuttling to the other side of the bed. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing, man. Don’t get so excited. Can’t we just do a little fantasy scene here?” I smile and imbue that smile with kindness and a hint of mischief. I’m able to keep calm. I want him to be reassured. It will be so much easier to enter him if he’s relaxed.
Visibly, he grows calmer. His features relax, but a hint of wariness remains in his eyes.
“I kind of get into fantasy.” I let a small laugh escape, as if I am embarrassed by this admission. “Couldn’t we maybe pretend we’re doing a little force scene here? I want to rape you, man.”
He chews on his lower lip, and I notice he’s gone soft.
“Look, we don’t have to do this if you’re not into it.” I put the knife on the floor. “I just thought it would be kind of exciting.” I smirk. “Did you really think I’d hurt you?”
“Well, no, of course not.”
Of course he thinks I wouldn’t hurt him. I suppose that’s what everyone thinks.
Until someone does hurt them.
“Look, maybe we should just forget this. Not everybody is into the scene.” I laugh. “But it can be kind of fun.”
The guy’s thinking; I can see it. And I know I’ve got him now. He rolls back over on his stomach, hugging the pillow. “Sorry,” he says. “You just can’t be too careful these days. Know what I mean?”
He wiggles his ass at me. “Why don’t I pretend to be sleeping.”
“Perfect.” I pick up the knife and move toward him.
In the background, a guy on the screen moans and shouts: “Oh shit, man, I’m gonna come!”