The Human Condition Ch. 09byjfinn©
Joe wasn't in the bedroom when I went to look for him after I said goodbye to Sarah. But then, neither were the clothes I'd laid out on the bed, so I wasn't too worried.
I found him in the kitchen scrambling some eggs; there were mushrooms grilling in another pan and fresh sliced tomatoes on the butcher block. The bread was already in the toaster waiting for someone to push down the lever. I did the honors and then went to Joe and leaned over his shoulder and sniffed appreciatively.
"Are those for me?" I asked hopefully.
He snorted. "As if you didn't already know."
Which was true. I was truly a lousy cook. And if left to my own, I'd probably make do with cold Pop Tarts and a pot of coffee. Ever since I'd known him, Joe had ridden my ass about my eating habits, and eventually he'd figured out the only way to change them was to cook the meals himself.
He'd already set the table and I went over to it and poured two glasses of grapefruit juice out of the pitcher. Then I sat and anxiously waited for him, like a little kid whose last meal was about two weeks ago.
"Quit squirming," he said without looking around. "It's almost ready."
"But I'm starving!" I whined.
"I'd have thought the 'protein snack' you had earlier would've satisfied your appetite," he teased back.
"Babe, if anything, all it did was whet it for more." I gave him my best leer, which just made him laugh.
He split the eggs onto two plates and added sauted mushrooms and sliced tomatoes to them. Then with a flourish, he popped up the toast and expertly spread marmalade on each slice. He walked over to the table with a plate in each hand and gave one to me. He put the other one in front of his chair, but before he could sit I drew him to me and rested my face on his belly.
"You spoil me," I murmured as I took in his scent, which gave off an aroma better to me than any food known to man.
Joe stroked my hair. "I think you got that backwards, sweetie." He leaned down and kissed the top of my head, then grinned. "In fact," he said, "I think you're the best little wife a guy could ever hope for."
He looked down at my legs that stuck out from my shorts. They were pretty well muscled, because he insisted on dragging me out to the track to run three times a week, but I was in desperate need of some sun. The dark hair covering them was in stark contrast to the white skin.
"But Darlin'," he laughed, "if you're thinking about that sex change operation again, I would think again - 'cause you just don't have the legs for it."
One of those ugly legs of mine kicked him in the butt as he turned to his chair across from me, but it was just a reflex. This was an old joke of ours - the kind all couples share when they've spent as much time together as we have.
Joe had always kidded me about being his wife. It didn't bother me, and I've been known to refer to him as 'the old ball and chain' a few times myself.
The truth was, like most gay couples, we didn't really have the kind of relationship where one of us took on the wife role and one the husband. Through the years, we'd just developed a pattern where we chose to do what felt best for us, and didn't worry about that kind of crap. We rarely bothered with titles, either, although the times when we had to describe our relationship to someone, we both seemed to use the word 'partner.'
But in the truest sense, Joe was my husband and my wife, and I was his. Mind you, we may not have been able to get a piece of paper from the state of Illinois that agreed with that assessment, but it didn't make it any less true. We were a family to each other.
It had taken us a while to see that though. Joe had always planned on something much different for himself, where I'd never planned on anything at all. Sometimes I think it was a miracle we ever got to where we are now. And Joe? Well Joe was even more confused than I was...
June 9, 1989
It was a few days after my folks and Sarah left and I'd just walked into my apartment after slaving at the law firm all day. But I'm exaggerating here a bit. I worked hard, sure, but I also loved it, so it wasn't exactly a sacrifice. That day though, I was beat. My energy levels still weren't up to what they had been, and so I was really looking forward to just vegging out on the couch and maybe calling out for pizza if I couldn't scare anything up out of the fridge.
I'd forgotten I was supposed to go over to Kevin and Saul's for dinner that night. If Saul hadn't called and left a message on my machine, I'd have probably never made it. As it was, I just had time for a quick shower before I was supposed to be there.
I made it - just barely. I knocked on the door of the two-story townhouse they shared and waited. There were voices coming from the apartment and I couldn't help hearing what they were saying.
"Oh Baby! Yeah! Stick that big rod in me! Yeah! Do it! Do it! Do it!"
I gulped. Maybe it would have been better if I had gotten Saul's message too late.
Before I could sneak away, the door opened and Kevin stood in front of me - fully clothed, thank God. "Hey, you made it," he said, grinning from ear to ear.
The noise from inside the apartment was louder, now that the door was opened. "Right there! Oh yeah! Harder, do me harder!"
I felt my face burn with embarrassment.
Kevin frowned and turned towards the living room. "Jesus, Saul," he snapped. "Can you please turn that shit down!" He waited until the sound decreased until only an occasional moan was heard.
"Come on in," he stepped back to allow me to pass. "Sorry about that. Saul went shopping today."
He didn't have to say any more. Saul was famous for his huge collection of porno tapes. He also had a gigantic collection of 1950's monster flicks and the world's most complete set of Disco records I'd ever seen; but it was the porn that had made his reputation.
He had movies from the bootlegs of old Hollywood right up to the new made-for-video numbers. To Saul's constant disappointment, Kevin had never been very impressed with his repertoire. He always argued he'd rather actually have sex than just watch it, and he'd bitch that the space the tapes took up could certainly be put to better use. Of course, most of his bitching was just a way to torment Saul. Kevin had once admitted to me over one too many shots of tequila that some of the tricks Saul had picked up from his little hobby were well worth the price of admission.
The closet door was open now as we headed into the living room. Saul was sitting cross-legged on the floor and sorting a pile of tapes that lay next to him. It had been a scorcher of a day, and he was wearing shorts and a baggy tee. He had a great body and normally Kevin would've been making some comment about how lucky he was to have such a cute boyfriend, but he just sighed.
"Christ, what have you done now?"
Saul swiveled his head and smiled, "Hey Mikey, how goes it?" He jumped up and gave me a kiss. "And you," he poked Kevin in the chest, "quit bein' such a bitch! We have company."
"My point exactly," Kevin complained, waving his hands helplessly at the huge pile of tapes on the floor. "Look at this mess!"
"Oh, relax! I'll clean it up, Hon'." Saul stood on tiptoe and gave Kevin a kiss on the nose. "I had to do it, there wasn't anymore room on the L shelf for my new Jack Lofton." He closed his eyes and sighed. "God is that guy hung!"
"And this one," he said as he pulled out a tape labeled LA Tool and Die. "This one's unbelievably hot - it's a classic, too, and hard to find. It's part of Joe Gage's Working Man Trilogy, the third one actually. Not as famous as El Paso Wrecking Corp, or a groundbreaker like some of Matt Sterling's classics, but a great flick none the less."
I just stared at him open-mouthed. "I think you're scaring me."
He laughed and handed me the tape. "You'll see. We'll pop this baby in after dinner."
I smiled and shrugged noncommittally. I wasn't really wild about the idea. We'd had movie nights before, the three of us, and it had always ended up with one or all having to go to the bathroom for the Kleenex. But that didn't hold any appeal for me tonight. I was still having some issues about sex, and even something as innocuous as watching Saul stick his hand down his pants was a little nerve-wracking to contemplate.
"Or maybe not," Kevin winked at me. "Let's see if we can at least pretend that we're grownups here. And not just a bunch a horn-ball gay guys with sex on the brain. In fact, I thought it might be nice if maybe after dinner we went down to the basement and played some pool."
That sounded like a plan to me. Saul had bought Kevin an old pool table for his last birthday, and although the table was pretty beat-up, it still worked - even if they did have to keep a book under one leg to keep the thing level. They'd been breaking it in a lot these last few months.
"Oh wait," Saul said, as he reached down to rummage in his pile of tapes. I couldn't help but notice how his tight shorts rode up on his ass as he bent over. Jesus, I thought to myself, as I dragged my eyes from his butt. Get a grip, Mike!
Saul found the tape he was looking for and stood and triumphantly waved it in the air. "If you wanna see how to really play pool, you should see this."
"We don't want to see pool, baby - we want to play it!" Kevin chortled, then shook his head. "Jesus, what did I ever do to deserve a voyeur for a lover?"
"Nothing," Saul replied, as he put the tape in the player and turned to him and gave him a bear hug. "You just got lucky is all."
Kevin grinned and wrapped his arms around him. "I guess I did at that."
I watched them play tonsil hockey for a minute before clearing my throat. "Uh, guys," I said. "You want me to take a walk for 20 minutes or so?"
Kevin pulled his lips from Saul's and chuckled. "Trust me, it wouldn't be for only 20 minutes if we did - but we don't. And, besides, dinner's almost ready. I better go check on it." He slapped Saul on his ass and walked out of the room.
Saul's eyes followed him until he was out of sight, then he turned back to me. "God," he sighed. "It's good to be back home. I really missed that tall bastard, you know?"
I smiled and tried to ignore the pang I felt when he said that - because of course I knew exactly what he meant, only the tall bastard that I missed wasn't home yet, and I was beginning to wonder if he ever would be. Jesus, I thought. I wish I knew what was going on in that pretty head of Joe's.
The movie that Saul had popped into the player started, and the title popped on the screen: "Bigger Than Life." I really, really was not in the mood.
He seemed to sense this and said. "Lemme fast-forward here to the pool table scene. Really, you gotta see this - it's a hoot!"
He started to share some gossip he'd heard about a mutual friend. I was listening, but out of the corner of my eye I kept catching glimpses of round hard butts and lots of sweaty skin. It was... distracting. I'd force myself to concentrate on Saul, but every few minutes I'd realize that I was back to the fast-forward motions of beautiful bodies engaged in sex. And if I could tell they were beautiful even at this speed, then they had to be hot.
Fortunately, Saul didn't seem to notice that I was basically ignoring him. He chattered on about one thing and another until Kevin stuck his head in the living room and announced that dinner was ready.
I took a glance around. They had a really nice apartment - cozy, comfortable, and - thanks to Saul's doting Mama - decorated like a real home. When they'd first moved in together, she'd insisted on "doing" the whole place. Kevin had wanted to refuse, but even he couldn't stand up to that woman's wheedling, and he finally capitulated. I had to hand it to her, though - she had excellent taste. The rooms were masculine, yet not sterile. I couldn't help but wonder what she thought of the closet, though.
One of the best things about the place was it had a real dining room where you could stretch out and eat like a grown-up instead of balancing plates in your lap and sitting on the floor, like we had to do at most of my friends' tiny apartments. Even my luxury of a real kitchen table and chairs at my place couldn't compete with the bamboo and glass wonders that sat in Kevin and Saul's eating area.
There was something else in the dining room, too. I immediately rolled my eyes and groaned, and Saul laughed when he saw me.
"Hey, we knew you wouldn't bring a date, so we decided to provide one free of charge," he said as he clapped me on the back. "Cause that's just the kind of caring, considerate friends we are."
My "date," as he'd put it, was sitting across the table from what was obviously my chair. It was a life-size wooden mannequin, one of those puppet things with joints and no face, but definitely male. Kevin had picked him up in some trash bin in back of a clothing store one night after the bars had closed. He was promptly christened "Bruce," and he'd been a fixture at parties at their house ever since, although usually he lived at the runaway teen shelter that Kevin ran.
The kids loved Bruce and they were always posing him and making up stories about his latest sexcapades. Kevin said it was a good outlet and he pretty much let them do whatever they pleased with the dummy. So it wasn't uncommon to walk into the weight room and see Bruce on the treadmill, or to see a couple boys watching TV with Bruce tucked in between them, holding the bowl of popcorn. They even had a wardrobe for him, and he was always dressed for the right occasion.
You'd have thought that these kids might have been rough or obscene with the wooden boy, but they were surprisingly protective of their mascot, and although they had no problem with the time that one of the kids posed him suggestively over the arm of the couch and pulled his pants down to show his skinny wooden butt, they would've kicked the hell out of anybody who'd tried to actually destroy or deface him.
Tonight, Bruce was in his at-home attire of skimpy running shorts and a practice football jersey, which had been cut off at the nipples that someone had so thoughtfully drawn on his torso. I noticed he had acquired a new wig, long and straight and blond, which made him look almost like Pinocchio's wet dream surfer boy. Through the glass table I could see he was complete with running shoes and...
I looked over at where Kevin had just joined Saul. "What the fuck?" I sputtered.
They both started to laugh. "Isn't it great!" Kevin said as he pointed.
What he was pointing at was another addition since I'd last been there. Bruce had always been sadly lacking in the anatomical department, but now it looked like he might finally be getting his wish to be a real boy. There was a decided bulge at his groin and something suspicious was poking at the hem of the shorts.
"One of the kids at the shelter likes woodworking," Kevin continued. "He learned a lot from his dad before he got kicked out for getting caught with the neighbor kid." He shrugged; the story was too common for him to make any issue of it. "Anyway, we had all those tools donated last year and this kid volunteered to set up the workshop. He made us this for Bruce."
He walked around to the mannequin and pulled him out of the chair and unceremoniously yanked down his shorts. There in all its glory was a perfectly-proportioned cock and balls, exquisitely carved and detailed enough to tell me that the kid who'd made this was really enthusiastic about his subject matter.
"It even has a hinge," Kevin said, as he grabbed the wooden shaft and cranked it up until a click was heard.
"Jesus," I said, rolling my eyes. "Wouldn't some new bookshelves have been more practical?"
"Aw, I think it was sweet," Kevin replied, as he pushed a spring under the balls and the dick collapsed back down. Then he pulled up Bruce's shorts and sat him down in his original seat, and clapped his hands. "Let's eat!"
Dinner was great. Kevin really liked to cook, and I really liked to eat, so we always got along great over a dinner table. We didn't talk about much of anything until near the end of the meal when Saul suddenly slapped himself and said, "Shit, I forgot about stopping the tape! Now I'll have to start all over to find that scene."
Kevin snorted and looked at me. "You'll have to forgive him. He's got this incredible idea in his head that all sex movies aren't alike."
"They aren't!" Saul protested.
"Oh, puh-leeze!" Kevin snapped, shaking his head.
"For instance, one of the new ones is a spy flick," Saul said to me, ignoring Kevin.
Kevin apparently thought two could play at that game and also addressed his next comment to me. "Which translates to, the main character has a pair of binoculars to watch all his neighbors strip."
"Ha-fucking-ha," Saul griped good-naturedly.
I started to laugh, "Geez, you two sound just like my parents! True, they don't generally bitch about fuck films, but the theory's the same."
A timer went off in the kitchen and Kevin jumped to his feet. "I made chocolate brownies for desert, and there's Haagen-Dazs French vanilla to go with it."
"Yum," I said, my mouth watering. Chocolate brownies were my favorite, as Kevin well knew.
He left the room leaving Saul and me alone together. Saul looked at me and frowned. "You know, he's wrong."
"About what?" I asked, perplexed.
"About the porno! Some of it really is pretty good."
I laughed. "Get a grip, Saul. He's only teasing you to get your goat. And besides, you gotta admit he has a point. I haven't exactly seen any triple-X rated films up for any Academy Awards lately."
"Oh, hell no! I don't mean they have good plots. I just mean they aren't all the same."
"I agree," I teased. "Some fuck standing up, and some laying down"
"Aw, shit! You're as bad as Kevin," he said, exasperatedly. "Here, I'll prove it to you." He jogged out through the doorway.
"Saul..." I started, but he'd already gone into the living room. I sighed and followed meekly.
I knew Saul well, and this sudden obsession about some stupid little thing wasn't exactly a new twist to his personality. Every so often, he'd get one of these ideas up his ass, and there was no diverting him until he'd proved his theory or gotten so far down the bullshit boulevard that even he couldn't figure out what his original point had been. With Saul, it was just easier to stop fighting him and let him have his way until he got it out of his system.
He'd already popped the tape in the player and was rewinding it back to the beginning. After a few moments, he hit a button and an image popped up on the screen. He was right: it actually had a plot... the stupidest goddamn plot I'd ever heard. There was this spy who had to go out and save the world from the evil mastermind who was trying to destroy the U.S. by kidnapping all the richest men in the country and turning them into mindless boy toys who looked 18 and fucked like bunnies. But he was right; it had a plot, of sorts.
Even worse than the plot, of course, was the acting. You must know what I'm talking about: that flat, toneless voice every porn star on earth seems to have. I was just about to comment about that when Kevin stuck his head in the door and told us to get our asses back to the table.
No one has to tell me twice to go eat chocolate, so I was back there in a flash and Saul followed a minute later. We turned our attention to eating, and conversation wasn't on the agenda for the next couple of minutes. The only noise was the drone of the bad actors on the movie that Saul had forgotten to stop. With our silence, it seemed even louder then it had when we'd been in the living room.
"So big boy," some robot-like voice suddenly said in the other room. "Now I know why they say you're called agent double-012."