It was during that moment when my chest turns into an open space, an interminable length of time when it seems like a panel of chain-link fence gets peeled back, lies in wait for a surge of emotions to slip inside.
Then. Just as my mouth rearranged itself around the poem’s final words— “A wad/of cold sheets/on my bed”—it was then, when I no longer recognized my voice but rather the blink of silence following. That’s when I noticed him.
I’m sure I stood frozen in some exaggerated pose, arms akimbo or even more likely, right hand extended with a copy of Cottonmouth Kisses still perched in the air, armor to shield me from what would or wouldn’t happen next. Applause. The immediacy of approval every performer yearns for, even and especially those who claim they don’t.
Then came the clamor of acclamation, the sounds of hands clapping, of slurred hurrahs and a high-pitched whistle. My cue to step from the stage not really a stage in this home not exactly a “home” as I knew it, but a geodesic dome.
For a hot second, our eyes met. His: dark, with a sparkle that followed when I looked away. Not as in “tracers,” the stuff of flash-backs, symptoms from drugs with consonants for names.
More like: as I navigated my way to Pedro, Wash and Richard—the few people I knew at this hormone-charged salon with “Boys” as its motif—the text of my body was besieged with active verbs and question marks.
Would I dare to venture upstairs with him?
Despite its cred as the white-hot center of Where Art Lives, I recognized this dome from another context. Recently I’d seen The Hole, a skin flick in which the final scene culminates in a luscious free-for-all on the top floor.
I’d heard whispers of a similar scenario happening in medias res, and as much as I tried to listen to the performer who followed me, it was. I was. Hard. With that beautiful boy, little more than an arm’s reach away.
My imagination is active; though my physique at the time? Puffy, post-speed flab that rendered me uncomfortable in the flesh I inhabited.
And my skin? Remained clothed, not “ho”ed out, as I wish it would’ve been.
I didn’t even introduce myself to that spiky-haired little number, let alone coax him into my own take on the Triple-X.
Thin and long-limbed: same as the memory I have of him, stretched-out. Three? Four? Has it been five years since then?
All this time, and I still see his caramel-hued complexion screened in my mind. A story of me, a beautiful boy, and what might have been. Really not so much a story, as it is.
The description of an absence.