Monday, April 23, 2012
Coming To: A Collection of Erotic and Other Epiphanies excerpt by Lukas Hand
Coming To: A Collection of Erotic and Other Epiphanies
Lethe Press, 2012
Louis and Clark
I still can’t say who rescued whom. Or if either of us was really a hero. What I remember is that he was beautiful in a way that only someone with my desperate sensitivity would immediately recognize. His glasses watered down the cobalt intelligence of his eyes, and his gleaming black hair needed a hand run through it. The preppy suit, though fashionable, was rumpled enough to suggest there were things more important to him than appearances—and to leave one guessing about the wonders that might be waiting beneath the creases.
Sitting alone at one of the seedier bars in town, I was needy enough to notice these things before anyone else, and lucky enough to have beside me the only empty seat in the house. Usually, such an opportunity would’ve paralyzed me, but somehow I recognized the moment as a gift.
“Hi,” I managed after willing him to look at me. When he smiled, I profusely thanked whichever god was on duty that this guy not been smiling when he walked through the door-otherwise he’d never have made it through the crowd. His smile was a phenomenon, like sunrise over a canyon, an invitation so dazzling I didn’t notice the dimples until later. I also didn’t know until later that it meant thanks. If I hadn’t spoken, he would’ve been gone within minutes. Now it seems there was an inevitability about everything. At the time I knew only that he was an alien beauty and that his smile was for me. It was enough to mobilize me into unusual action.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” I said, cringing as I channeled Pee Wee Herman’s voice over the roar of the crowd and the music.
“I’ve never been here before,” he said in a baritone that was both ordinary and operatic. I could hear him doing something from Puccini or at least Camelot. My stomach cramped when I realized it was my turn to speak.
“Well, you really haven’t been missing very much.”
He smiled again. “That’s not how it looks from where I’m sitting.”
I’ve replayed the footage a hundred thousand times since and not once have I been able to remember anything either of us said after that. It’s possible that we said little else. What I remember is the rapid, impressive rise of flesh beneath the thin fabric of his slacks and his smile reappearing like the sun from behind the clouds when we danced, when I took his hand to leave the dance floor, and again at my door.
It’s possible that it wasn’t so easy. Perhaps the details were whitewashed in a flow of light that flooded most of my hiding places that night. We may have had uncomfortable silences and awkward motions. We may have fumbled with buttons and zippers and worried about who would mention protection. It may not have been the perfection that I will always remember.
Certain details have remained clear. It was not his first time, but it had been a long time. His body had been sculpted with such symmetry it would’ve been otherworldly had it not risen at my touch and covered me. I remember his palm on the small of my back and his breath on my ear. I remember the silk of his hair like a feather floating down from my chest and his warm feet and hunger so tender that I thought I would cry.
I remember him asking at some point in a fevered whisper, “What do you want?” I remember having no words—only a moaning sound I didn’t know I could make, obviously coming from me but with no precedent. I remember being surprised that I had the balls to purposefully position his hands on my ass and to press him into me and to grind my own aching erection so furiously into his that I thought we might literally start a fire, like two pieces of flint going at it in the darkness.
I remember feeling him enter me and thinking that I must be levitating. There was no sensation anywhere other than fire burning from my asshole all the way up and down my body. I surely must have been shooting sparks from my fingertips and toes. God knows it wasn’t my first time. But I remember thinking for the first time that this was what a beginning must feel like—or an ending. Only after all these shifts in the cosmos and the return of something approaching normal breathing did I ask some of the usual questions.
“I’m a newspaper reporter,” he said.
I recognized the paper as a large daily in another city a few hours away. “Are you here working on a story?”
“No,” he said. “I came here to get away for a few days.”
I didn’t ask what he was trying to get away from, partly because I suspected the answer might be important. Also, he had discovered the back of my knees, and he still had an appetite. I had no idea there were so many nerve endings at my joints, knees, elbows, wrists and ankles. It was as though I was learning to straighten and bend for the first time in my life.
By the time he got up to leave the next morning, I had learned that he was apparently accomplished out of bed as well and that he was good at his job. He’d effortlessly managed to obtain my meager life story-my early escape from a humid, Bible belt town, my meandering career path, the random eclecticism of my lovers-all without once seeming nosy. All I knew about him as his astonishing legs filled out his slacks and his shirt assumed heroic proportions was that he’d left a small town in the Midwest in search of a journalism degree and a name for himself and that he treated his work as a calling. And the most important thing: that I would be seeing him again.
I made the first of several offers to drive him to the airport-he said he had flown-but he insisted on calling a cab. He also insisted on calling me rather than giving me his phone number to arrange our next meeting. He said that his job often meant being on call twenty-four hours a day and he could be impossible to reach. I was so captivated by the delayed revelation of his dimples, I barely noticed the sense that there was more to his story.
I heard nothing from him for the next five days, six hours, and forty-two minutes. I cycled at least ten times through childlike anticipation to Bette Davis indifference to suicidal ideation, and when the phone rang at eight p.m. the following Saturday I could only snatch it up to my ear and breathe “Yes” when he asked to come over. He was at my door in eight minutes. We were naked in eight seconds and we came together in rapid succession three times in eighty-eight minutes. Eight was my new favorite number.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner,” he said when I was curled like a kitten in his arms a couple of hours later. The only response I could think of was to pull him even closer.
“I thought of calling every day and picked up the phone several times, but I was afraid if I heard your voice it would be impossible for me not to see you. I didn’t know when I would be able to get away.”
“Because of work?”
“My schedule is inhuman,” he said. “I never know when I’ll be called away on assignment or what sort of crisis I’ll be leaping into next. I can never predict what will happen from one day to another.”
“You sound more like a S.W.A.T. team than a reporter,” I said.
“I have to go where the stories are. Often that means going where people are in trouble,” he said, more to himself than to me. “There are so many people depending on me.”
I made a subconscious decision not to follow up. Of course I knew there was plenty more to learn, but in my experience the news only got worse as it unfolded. I was willing to forego a few facts to preserve a nice fiction.
“I was adopted,” he said in response to a safer question, “by these two wonderful people. I grew up on a farm in a family so close it sounds like a 50’s sitcom when I try to describe it. It was just the best place in the world to be a boy. A place where it was hard to be anything but content.”
“Even when you’re a boy who likes other boys?” I said, having had my rose-colored glasses stomped on a few times in the picturesque, well-mannered South.
“There was only one boy,” he said. “I never gave any of this a thought until then. I guess because everybody knew each other so well. I practically grew up with everyone in my school. A new face was like a meteor crashing in a cornfield. His parents had moved from New Jersey and bought a small farm down the road from ours. We got to be friends.”
“Friends.” I repeated the word out loud trying to hear the real meaning it held in this context. There had to be a better word.
“It sounds like another cliché,” he said. “He was this seventeen-year-old kid from Jersey bringing all that attitude with him to one of the simplest spots in the western hemisphere.”
“He must’ve noticed you right away,” I said.
“He noticed everything. All the time. I really think that’s when I stopped taking things for granted and started asking questions about who I was and what I could do. I learned to be curious from him.
“Of course, it’s outrageous that I wasn’t curious from the start-knowing I was adopted and always feeling so different. But he’s the one who sparked that. He forced me to ask questions. He said to me once, ‘If anybody ever needed to know the truth about himself, it’s you.’”
“Pretty profound for a seventeen-year-old.”
“That was part of the attraction,” he said.
“He seduced you with his wisdom?”
He grinned. “I invited him to stay over one night after a basketball game. I was already in my bed watching him undress, and this switch just got thrown. If I’d stopped to think for even a second I would’ve been too shocked at myself to move. One minute we were both staring up at the ceiling, and the next minute I was all over him.”
“You started it?” I’d assumed that lovers of his caliber were made and not bred.
“I tore his underwear off and started licking him from his ears to his toes. Sounds crazy, but I still remember the taste of the arch of his foot, the musk under his arms, the slight salty tang of his uncut cock and that sweet hole. I wanted to eat him up,” he said. “Like I’d been starving, and he was this heaping plate of my favorite foods. I devoured him out of sheer instinct. I didn’t really know what to do and later on, he showed me how to slow things down. He guided my cock inside him and started to rock back and forth on top of me and I remember being afraid that I might actually buck him up so hard that his head would go through the roof. Sometimes I don’t know my own strength. I would cum inside him over and over and his cum would be sticky and sweet all over my neck and my chest, but there was always this hunger that would swell up one more time, and I’d have to take him again.
“I think I have some idea how he felt,” I said. He was talking to his breakfast.
“I always thought it wasn’t me when it happened, that it was something about him. It was so amazing to me. I wouldn’t be able to think or to speak. I would just try to forget it, and pretend nothing had changed. Go back to being myself.”
“Until you got hungry again.”
“The strangest part was he was never surprised. It was like he was always expecting it. For me it was a shock every time. I never got used to the feeling that I’d forgotten who I was supposed to be.”
“And who was that?” The question slipped out before I could catch it.
“You really don’t know, do you?” He smiled so thankfully I had to kiss him. “That was the problem with him. He seemed to know who I was without ever being told. He seemed to know everything there would be to know about us before any of it even happened. That was part of the reason why I eventually stopped it, but he didn’t seem surprised by that either. He nodded his head like it was exactly what he thought I would do. I hardly ever saw him after that.”
Somewhere in the telling of this tale I’d heard a warning. Something about staying dumb. Ignorance was part of my charm, so I wore it like his class ring, determined as any school girl not to spend too much time studying my new obsession.
A pattern emerged. He would call late Friday evening to say he was coming. He would be at my door in half an hour and in my bed within minutes. Each time he appeared I forgot all my questions, but during the week I would wander through them like a desert. I wondered about his days and his nights and his work and his family. I would wonder who were his friends and how he could afford to fly to me every weekend on a reporter’s salary. I would wonder what was behind his superhero smile and farm boy appetite that made him seem so starved and alone. And I would dream.
I rarely remembered my dreams. My theory was that I daydreamed so much during waking hours that at night I was out of ideas. But I remembered this dream every time, at least once or twice every week, and it was always the same. It would be sometime after midnight. I would be sleeping and suddenly he was there, hovering like the Holy Ghost outside my window, whispering my name.
At first I assumed he was haunting me and that I should ignore it like I did most visions. But he held out his hand and he smiled. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to get out of bed and to move through the open window into his arms.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got you,” he would breathe in my ear, his body a blanket around me. I wouldn’t care that there was nothing under my feet but the wind.
We would begin to rise effortlessly as a prayer, and I would remember sermons from my father’s small town southern pulpit about Jesus rapturing the saints off the doomed Earth into the clouds. The analogy broke down when I became aware that my lord and I both had throbbing erections, but a leap of faith had been made just the same. I had come to believe in a savior.
We continued to rise until we were poised like angels over the Earth, smiling at the moon as if we had formed it ourselves. I would feel his heart pulsing and the thrill of his lips on my neck as we lingered in our private atmosphere high above the planet. Our clothes would fall off of us like dead leaves, drifting back to Earth. We would be naked and gleaming in the moonlight, our mouths locked together, our tongues plunged deep into each other’s throats, our hands holding our bodies tightly together as though the universe depended on it.
Without ever realizing that I’d turned my back to him, his breath would be heavy and moist at my ear and that heroic shaft would be probing the crack of my ass and then entering me somehow softly and aggressively in one superhuman thrust. I would feel him lengthen even further inside me, filling me so unbelievably full that I could feel nothing else but him in me and my own unrecognizably hard cock stretching out toward the Milky Way. Suspended there somewhere between heaven and Earth my new god would not only fuck me, he would make love to me while the stars winked, and I would decide that in fact I had been raptured. He had taken me home. I would never remember our descent.
I kept meaning to tell him about the dream. I had the feeling that it wouldn’t surprise him. After weeks of crumbling resolve, I was preparing to form the sentence when he silenced me with the frighteningly solemn declaration that there was something I needed to know. Before I could protest or plead like a child about to be abandoned, he said it.
“There’s this woman at home.”
It answered one of the questions I was always forgetting to ask. In that context he could’ve as easily said “There’s this inoperable tumor, or there’s this comet on a collision course with Earth.”
“She’s my partner,” he said. “We’ve worked closely at the paper almost since I started there.”
In fact I already knew this. During my weeks in the desert, waiting for him to call, I had gone to the library and started reading the newspaper that stole so much of his time. I would read every story he wrote, and more often than not, he shared a byline. I knew this wasn’t the point.
“We have this complex relationship,” he said. “We depend on each other and trust each other but she’s very competitive. Sometimes it feels like a game. She’s competing with me, and I’m competing with myself-especially when I’m saving her from the trouble she always gets herself into. She doesn’t have a clue who I am even though she thinks she has me all figured out. It gets exhausting sometimes, even for me, but for some reason I think it’s still worth the effort. I can never seem to walk away for long.”
He’d said so much more than I wanted to hear. But even though the news was as bleak as I’d expected, the appropriate emotions refused to be summoned. He looked too much like an orphan for me to be jealous or panicked. No use blaming nature for a natural disaster, I told myself with pre-hysteric calm, especially when there’d been warnings.
So I made myself into a cradle, ignoring my other options. When the time came for him to leave, he would be carrying the weight of some other world on his shoulders. I pointed out to myself that I was perhaps the one person who knew that he felt the strain and who could be generous. At least for a while, I had something he desperately needed. It was easy to trade all my hopes for that kind of a chance to play hero-and for a shot at a few more unscheduled flights.
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