In the beginning, he’s nothing more to me then a shock of dark chocolate curls tipped in sunlight standing far from me in a large-windowed and brightly-lit and nearly empty room and for just one moment he catches my attention so, I step from my world into his, but only for that one moment because I’ve learned, having been thoroughly taught the ways of straight boys in my past, that I must refrain from indulging. I don’t know his name; I don’t even want to know his name. I leave him to his side of the nearly empty room while I return to mine, which is just fine, just is as it should be really. Live and learn, I always say and I have…once too often.
But, sometime later, a week, a month, finding him once again, only near to me this time, in a room more intimate and softly-lit and filled with people then before, when he gives to me an over-the-shoulder gaze sweetly underscored by such a yielding if uncertain smile, this time for just one moment he steps from his world into mine. But only for that one moment because, at his side, when his wife oh-so-possessively tugs at his sleeve, her left hand, her ring finger made plain, her wedding band sparkling even in the otherwise quiet light of the room, pulling him back to her and their world of marital bliss and away from me and my world of temptation, I know I’ll forget him. Straight…one strike but reasonably surmountable if desire runs deep, but straight and married…two strikes and most definitely not surmountable no matter how deep desire or want or need may run. It’s as if he never existed and that’s just fine too.
Until, and there always is an ‘until’, isn’t there? a couple of weeks later when what I like to refer to as The Hotel Elevator Hijack takes place, a 30-story ride, which might’ve been mine alone had he not somehow amazingly enough been going in just the same direction as me, a ride together that begins with the 1st and that ends with the 31st floor with several stops of varying lengths along the way. Standing closer to me than would be considered good manners if I’m a stranger, he also doesn’t stand quite close enough for me to be a friend, which isn’t all that unreasonable given we’ve never even spoken and I vow not to be the first.
Because thing is, I don’t so much mind taking on trouble, especially beautiful trouble, and most especially if that trouble is being handed, all trembling and so alive, into my willing arms, my waiting bed, if I can see that doing so makes sense, isn’t playing against the odds. But I also don’t so much understand why I should needlessly take on trouble, don’t so much understand why I should mindlessly go looking for the kind of trouble that can ultimately only complicate the already sublimely complicated labyrinth of my interpersonal relationships, if I do. So, I remain mute.
Apparently deciding the same, standing also so very quiet, leaning against the brass handrail, he keeps his head bowed as if all that hair is just so too heavy for that frail neck of his to keep up, thereby limiting himself to an apparently engaging examination of the multi-colored woven carpet beneath our feet as we drift serenely from floor to ever higher floor. Being denied his eyes, I spend our time together drowning in his curls, envisioning myself clutching them, so tightly gripping them at the base of his skull, dragging my fingertips up through all that luscious chocolate so that, almost unnoticed, I could slowly pull him to me, bringing his mouth to mine, his…but without warning, the golden doors slide open at apparently his destination and he makes as if to leave and as abruptly as if I wasn’t even there.
Except, and there always an ‘except’, isn’t there? once nearly to their metallic glow but not quite, he half-turns back to me, murmuring, “I’d heard, Jayden, that you don’t like elevators, enclosed spaces and all, especially not all by yourself, right? So, I thought I’d keep you company, at least for most of the way, but now, I have to go. You’ll be alright, won’t you, the rest of the way?”
I nod as he’s punching the Close Door button, as he’s stepping out, away so that the last thing I see of him is when slightly cocking his head, he gives to me a charmingly uncertain, very vulnerable half-smile. The hallway light causes his blonde-tips to shimmer and in just that moment, between the glowing elevator doors and the shimmering hotel hallway, I am blinded, but then the doors slide closed and by the time I reach the 34th floor, my final destination, I am able to see quite clearly once more. And even if I am just a little confused as to why he should know such an intimate thing about me, about us really, and why it is he should act on that knowledge now? Should I try to find out? Or maybe not. He’s married, remember? He’s married so, two strikes, pretty baby, and you are still just so outta there.
Well, I know his name…Ethan, but not much more by the time of what I like to refer to as The Busy Midtown Street Corner Waylay, a maneuver he pulls off with great skill and nerve because seriously, I’m just standing there, minding my own business, waiting for the light to go green when suddenly, and from out of nowhere, he’s at my side, actually listing into me and I can only imagine that this guy must be some kind of crazy because, while there may be a million billion people living in this burg and its environs, you still almost ways bump into someone you know whenever you step out your door. It’s kismet and he’s making me jittery so, the instant the light changes, I long-leg it, as much as someone 5” 7’ can long-leg it, through the crowded intersection only to find him still with me once I arrive at the other side.
I keep on walking and he keeps on walking right along with me for block after block after freakin’ New York City block until at one particular intersection, but for no discernible reason, he veers off in a due-east direction so, I stop and I watch him stroll down to the next corner down, until almost out of sight., where he turns back to me, his hands deep in his pockets, a sweet-ass smile playing across his lips and he gives me just the suggestion of a bow, bending his shoulders, his head, all those curls, gently down and when he’s upright once again, I bow just the suggestion of a bow to him. He grins, he turns and he is gone.
So, continuing my due-south stroll along the final block to my destination, a favorite café where a couple of my others are waiting for me, I find myself whistling some nearly forgotten, or is it a barely remembered, tune about keeping your feet on the sunny side of the street and I can’t help but wonder where the hell that came from? Once I find them easily enough at our favorite table, the weather being adequately lovely to sit under a brightly colored sidewalk umbrella, I explain to Caillen and Jameson this most recent adjunct to the sage that is me and Ethan and who, as usual, have very little sympathy, giving me some shit about how I’d be doing something about it, other than bitching, if I didn’t actually pretty much like his little attentions, his little interventions. I can only disagree while at the same time wondering as to the validity of their conclusion. Maybe. May…be.
Bottom-line, he’s trouble, Jameson reminds, and should be avoided at all costs. This I know, he is trouble and on so many levels that avoidance is mandatory. Sorry, sweet baby, but I can’t afford you so, you must remain nothing more than a periodically unanticipated collision with temptation never realized, a pleasant sensation when thought about, a quickening of the pulse when your name is overheard unexpectedly, an intriguing, if slightly uncomfortable, footnote to my otherwise blissfully contented life’s story. I is not for you.
Even still, somewhere along the way, pretty much by the time of what I unhappily refer to as The Comedy Club Bathroom Ambush, we’ve been actually introduced, him and his wife, Cheryl, and me. We have in fact exchanged a few words, have even shared a couple of laughs, which is why, I tell myself, I’m so caught off guard when he finds me alone in the club’s moodily blue lit, dark walled and polished-chromed fixtured bathroom, just having finished my business, just buttoning up.
Slipping quietly in the door, he comes to me without any hesitation, ducking his head to my shoulder, murmuring my name once, twice then over and over again as he radiates his heat through my t-shirt and into my skin when he leans along my back. My heart flutters causing me to tremble, my body finally admitting the reality of Caillen and Jameson’s words even if my mind resists the truth of my need for him. Still, not forgetting the crystal clear reality, the fundamental obstacle that his situation represents, I buck him away and leave, moving to the sink, but he follows, unwilling to understand or, if he does understand me, unwilling to care, trapping me even as I try to do what’s right, even as I try to just wash up and leave.
But, in looking up from the disorienting glare of the silver basin to the shadowy mirror above, when I find a revelation, marveling at how his hair has now gone all jet-black tipped in the sharp cool blue of the mirror’s light, his warm brown eyes having gone coal-black, his soft lips almost mauve, my resolve slips. I lock onto his eyes, which seem to smolder with a kind of dark heat and I moan as he wraps his arms around me, grinding his cock against me, but as the fates desire it, voices are heard from outside coming in and so, he wills himself away from me allowing me to bolt, leaving him alone with strangers and I’m still feeling the heat of him even as I finally fall asleep late that night, an uneasy feeling scratching, gnawing, demanding to be acknowledged coming from somewhere deep inside me. My sleep is uneasy because I know something needs to change, I’m just not sure what.
Because, frankly, this seemingly casual, yearlong escalation of his apparent need for me manifests itself in such a way that every second or third time I’m somewhere, anywhere meaningful, Ethan’s there too, mainly sans wife but certainly not always. Is it simply that after having moved here from Toronto, shortly after we met I might add, they have somehow fortuitously and successfully aligned themselves with the very same social circle as me and my others or is it just that the whole of the universe is somehow constantly realigning itself just to shove us together? Cosmic intervention or premeditated across-borders relocation? I could go either way as both contain equally compelling, if grandiose, themes except that since neither theme bodes well for me, not unreasonably, I am concerned. What to do? What to do?
If I was Jameson, I would know what to do, this shit happens to him not to me. He drives all the little boys, of whatever orientation, wild, not me, but when I ask him for his sage advice all he gives me is a wistful little smile while patting me on the shoulder and tells me that being a big boy, I can handle this ‘situation’ all on my own, that I should consider this yet another important ’learning’ experience. Oh and, he reminds, I should avoid bringing scandal to any of our businesses. Thanks, sweetie, really. I’ll see what I can do to keep that in mind.
So, I’m back to…what? What to do? How about run? Seems reasonable so, for a time, I run back the west coast, back to San Francisco, to home where I’m able to go about my business without any concerns regarding dark chocolate curls tipped in…whatever for at least a little awhile, a time during which I have to assume he’s also forgetting all about me. But since my others remain in New York, I must return eventually and I do.
I’m only about one week back, managing Gwynedd with Caillen on a busy Thursday night, when Ethan strolls in with several of their friends but without Cheryl. I go into hyper-avoid mode which only causes Caillen to tell me to relax. The boy ain’t stupid, she reminds. I ain’t so sure, I remind, and she laughs. Still, it is at her suggestion that I go cool off in the restaurant’s alleyway, a good suggestion since even though I’m not so neurotic as Jameson or Courtlan or even Caillen, still I, like them, do start crawling the walls of any room I can’t get out of at regular intervals, even those we own like Gwynedd. Is what it is. Cool air on the skin, sky vistas filling the eyes, it is also tragically something everyone knows about us, something about us not a few unscrupulous souls have taken advantage of over the years and why should this night be any exception?
Still, I’m safe, right? because Caillen’s watching out for me, right? even as I know she’s trying to manage a large dinner crowd all on her own since I’m out in the dark cool alleyway lingering and loitering, avoiding and basically hiding for way way…way too long. She’s bound to get distracted and so, he finds me. Ethan finds me and when he does, it’s the closest I’ve come yet to just giving in, but I don’t. I push him away, I drive him back inside and once he’s gone, I lament and the night laments with me. When I go back inside, he’s gone and several hours later, Caillen and I are too, home to Jameson and to sleep. But first I write a story, one about my nighttime alleyway entrapment titled ‘Golden Watchman’.
Once done, I tuck the original into a folder, one of several filled with other such 2 to 5,000 word missives I’ve scrawled out about us over the years, which is tucked into a nearly filled-to-overflowing drawer in our mission-era desk, leaving a copy with a note attached on top for Caillen and Jameson to find in the morning and I go to bed. Tucking myself down in between these two of my partners, I know that for at least one more night, we are safe.
All right, here’s the deal, I couldn’t sleep last night, as you may have noticed so, I wrote, including in my 1,500 or so words as many of the titles of Jaxon’s paintings as I could remember. Why Jaxon’s? Guess because I like his titles or maybe his just fit well with this story or whatever so, ready and set and go! Find as many as you can! This is my early morning challenge for you. Then, let me know what you think of this the newest of my little random stories about us. Oh, and as you know, there isn’t any ‘last time’, I just added that in for dramatic effect even if the rest, if somewhat exaggerated, is true in its essence. I anxiously await your good opinions. ;D
By Jayden Harker
…don’t touch me because when I tremble it makes a noise
like a Chinese wind-bell it’s that I’m seismographic is all…
For The Chinese New Year & For Bill Berkson”
“Anything you want I’ll do…anything…anything you want please. Please. I’ll do anything” – hesitation – “anything you ask.”
Your words, coming from somewhere behind me so sudden and deep as the night, break over me, and I tremble. Your desire want need, and mine, all combine to splinter the stillness of this perilous night, and the silvery stars tremble with me. Their compassion is mine so, I follow their lead, not yours. “Like I told you last time, there’s nothing I want from you. Nothing.” False starts lead only to false endings; my words sounding a sham even to me.
“Lair.” I am and you know it. “You can’t even look at me” – anger frustration -- “Look at me.”
Racing thoughts, racing thoughts slamming through me, colliding together in me, shattering me into chaos. I can’t look at you. I can’t I can’t because, I do want you. have wanted you for so long. But I shouldn‘t. I have begged for you in my sleep, in dreams so tangible, and I have longed for you, your hands, your mouth, your body, when I’m awake. But I shouldn‘t. Not a man of any god, even I understand this is wrong, this shouldn’t be. The God-men say I can‘t understand, without their God’s words, I have no morals, but I do. It’s wrong to want you. It’s wrong to need you. It’s wrong to ache for you. But I do. “Go back inside.” -- calm concern -- “Before your friends miss you, go inside.”
“No, I won’t.” Closer, closer still, you sound even closer to me now. “Look at me.”
I turn, I look behind me, but I can’t see you, not quite, you remain hidden in back alleyway shadow, lost in nighttime obscurity. You haven’t really moved any closer to me at all. I focus back on my silvery stars sheltering me “Go.” I almost sound, even to me, as if I mean it.
“No. I won’t” -- soft low even -- “Please. I won‘t.” There’s no hint now of the anger at rejection that I know lies just beneath your surface. Your voice sounds only of pain. “I want you. I want to be with you. Please”
Your words are closer to me now; soon they’ll be with me, surrounding me, binding me and I am at land’s end, there is no way forward. Racing thoughts, racing thoughts beg you please please just go. I don’t want to deal with this. With you. “Just go.” Go and leave me alone. Don’t even think to touch me even if I know you already have in some other time, in some other place, if only in dreams. I scent you, know your need as mine, a need that blinds us to what is supposed to be, as it binds us to what can never be.
“Look at me” -- begged growled -- “I need you I need you please.” A whisper, “Look at me.”
I want to. I want to do more, so much more. I want to take you in my arms, and push you hard against my back alley wall, my body pressing against every inch of yours just so I can make you moan. I need to make you moan. I want to make you whimper and cry. I want to make sure you go on begging me, just like you are now. I want you. Fuck I want you. “Go back inside.” Watchman moon rises golden among silvery stars, arching across the blue-black sky reminding me of who I am, and of who you are, of who you are supposed to be.
I feel your heat, and I lean away from you, steadying, grounding myself against the cool stone wall. Moving into me, you find your place behind me. Shaping yourself to me, you wrap your arms around me, and I don’t push you away. You lay your hands over my heart, and I lean back into you.
“Don’t say no. Don’t say no to me. It’ll be alright baby it will. I promise. I promise you, this will be right.”
You beg your need into me, into my being, and I want you to. Please I want you to, but you are wrong, and I am wrong by just being here with you. “This can’t happen.”
“It can happen. I’ll make it be alright I will I promise.”
Your words smooth across my skin, they flutter into my mouth, they quiver over my eyes, and I almost sigh. I barely tremble “You can’t, you can’t make this right.” Your silence confirms what we both know. We’re dancers on a plane, sparring across time, we’re balanced between what‘s right…what is supposed to be and what‘s wrong…what is hungered after. But that would be betrayal. I lay my head back against your shoulder. “So, where’s your wife? I notice that she isn’t here with you, with you and your friends, tonight. What? She doesn't like our little restaurant, the food, the atmosphere, the service? What?”
You are quick in front of me. You move like an atom does, as an electron of light would, in an instant from behind to in front of me and you look more desperate than you have ever sounded, so shaken to your core. Your eyes reveal only confusion. Like what? I’d forgotten she exists? What else could this be about? I’m sorry, so sorry, but I haven’t forgotten, and neither have you
“Home. She‘s…she isn’t feeling well, a cold, but she didn’t want me to miss out on dinner with our friends, so….” Your hands cradling my face, your thumbs stroking my eyebrows, you try to soothe me, to pacify me. You try to stave off what is yet to come. Your eyes now show fear. “Why?”
“You live what, ten minutes away?” I look into your eyes, your warm brown eyes, your bedroom eyes, I look at your lips, your soft sweet lips, your slightly parted lips, and you barely nod. “Then – eager glad -- here’s our plan. We'll go by your place, it‘s early yet, she won‘t be asleep, yes? and we’ll tell her how you want to fuck me and how you want me to fuck you because once--”
“No.” As breath, as nothing more. Your hands tighten, your fingertips digging into my temples. Your eyes now show panic.
”But why not because once she agrees then, don’t you see? then I can give you everything that you want. Then I can take from you everything that I want. Then there won’t be any guilt. All she has to do agree.” Your panic vibrates sharp from you, scaring me. I want nothing more than for this to be done. “Then what you want between us won’t be wrong. Then, like you said, it’ll all be alright.”
“There’s no need.” Your fingertips digging even harder into my skin, there’ll be bruising tomorrow. Your mouth teasing, barely an inch from mine, just a flick of my tongue and I would taste you. “She’s my responsibility so--”
“Yes?” My hands on your chest, pushing shoving you away, away from me, getting that teasing mouth away from mine, getting those bedroom eyes the fuck away from mine. “Well, the thing is, I can’t have your woman come screaming into our restaurant, especially about what I’m doing with her husband. This is a well respected business; we are well-respected businessmen so such behavior would be unseemly.” Self-preservation is one of my main motivations; just ask anyone, always about protection. Except, “And another thing, you made a promise, not me. You took a fucking vow. Not me. So, fucking live up to your promise, live up to your own vow.” Go away please please before I can’t let you go. We’re dancers on a divided plane, travelers without a bridge across, with no possible way to each other without the stain of guilt, of shame, of recrimination, of scandal.
“You don’t give a fuck about promises, about vows. You don’t give a fuck about any marriage bull--”
“While I don’t know as to the rest, you are right about one of your accusations. I don't give a fuck about any marriage bullshit, but you baby, you do, yes? You give a fuck, and so does she. So be a man and go home, go home to your woman. Go home to your wife, and leave me alone.” I can’t let you into me; the odds aren’t in my favor. Why should I play if the odds aren’t in my favor? “Ethan, go back inside before someone comes looking for you. I don’t want any trouble.”
“Jayden please please want me, I need you--”
“You made your choice, right? so you tell me, what do I want with some fucking married man, huh? What do I want with some vow-taking, promise-making partner in wedded bliss? What the hell do I need with that? Tell me, Ethan, tell me, what thefuck do I need with you?” You shrink back, you shrink away, down into yourself and I scent your defeat as I have before, as I hope never to again. “Get the hell away from me. Now. And stay the hell away. Got it?” You want to say more, you want to beg more, but I can’t let you in. “Go. Thefuck. Away.”
You shove me -- pain frustration rejection -- hard against the alleyway wall, and you leave. Alone with the emptiness of you no longer with me, I focus into the swirling universe over Manhattan, and I mourn. Silvery stars mourn with me even as I can see that golden watchman moon is proud. When it begins to rain, I go back inside where I find that you have gone, even if your friends, her friends, haven’t. I should be satisfied that you’ve left. I should be relieved. I should even be grateful. But I’m not.
Jayd, darling, even as we find the writing up to your usual high standards, a story compellingly told and lovingly crafted, you whipped this puppy out just last night, did you? we nonetheless find ourselves vaguely concerned if, as you say, it is, in its essence, only something of a exaggeration. Still, trust is trust and ours is undying in you so, all we ask is you keep a level head and not allow this situation to escalate further, ‘kay? Oh, and in total, we found seven of our dear Jaxon’s titles. You’re a clever, dude, really how you worked those in! We are loving you most profoundly and can’t help but wonder when you’re going to get these sweet missives published. Names changed of course. Always and forever –Caillie and Jamey
Caillie & Jamey, Published? Never as in never. Yours in forever –Jayd