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Prologue: The Interview

The following is based on an interview. It turned out too long for the magazine article but ended as a book. My assignment was to interview an unconventional household: five gay men living, not as roommates, but rather as a romantic, sexual unit. Did this arrangement constitute promiscuity? Must a household of men resemble a frat house? What aspects of family did this group provide? I came prepared with these and other questions.

The idea for this article came through the usual channel of a friend of a friend who heard at a party of a group of guys living like an extended couple - dishes, laundry and sex. My editor loved the idea as an article for the series on the variety that was gay life and how it was redefining relationships and households. I was skeptical that this group would be open to a reporter's questions, but was surprised to have the interview welcomed.

We had agreed that we would meet at the group's loft apartment in a revitalizing section of the city. I was greeted at the door by John, the eldest of this group at twenty-nine years. He opened the apartment door, revealing a large, open space with exposed brick walls punctuated with windows along three sides. The center of the room had a free-standing fireplace. Easy chairs and couches seemed to have come to rest randomly around the space. The fourth side was a wall made up of doors. Just doors side by side the length of the room. No two were alike, but shared a character as if salvaged from old buildings. John led me to a seat in the great room of their loft apartment, facing the other men as they sat around the room in various casual attitudes.

As John crossed the sitting area and sat down, another of the men, strikingly beautiful in appearance and graceful in movement, reached out, taking John's hand and pulling him into the large chair where he sat, making room for him. This was Mark. What I next observed spoke volumes about the relationship among these men and their comfort with who they are. As Mark snuggled against John, his hand came to light between John's legs, absently stroking the growing bulge. John lifted Marks hand to his lips, kissing it gently, then put it into Mark's own lap saying softly, "Not now Love, we've got company." Mark replied only with a sweet smile toward me and a kiss on John's cheek.

Another two of the men, who could be characterized as 'twinks', sat side by side on a couch. They sat with entwined arms, holding hands, Sean - Asian with dark hair and eyes, the other Tim - Caucasian with darkening blond hair and soft hazel eyes. I soon learned that they responded like twins, checking the other before responding, then answering my questions as one.

The last of the household, Brad, sat on the floor leaning against the couch where Sean and Tim sat. He was strikingly masculine in jeans and athletic shirt, his muscled arms and shoulders evident. Sean's hand rested on Brad's shoulder, occasionally stroking his earlobe. Brad stroked the sparsely haired leg of Tim.

Reporter: "I guess I'll begin the interview with some questions about how you all interrelate. With five of you, it can't be couples. Can you describe the dynamic?"

They all laughed as one. John spoke for the group. "Well, it's pretty fluid. We're a bit of a commune, everyone pitching in - and that goes for running the household as well as sex." Again a group chuckle. "We each have our own lives. Brad and I have jobs, Mark splits his time between an acting career and odd jobs, and Tim and Sean are students at the University. There's a changing mix of who is in the house at any one time. Most nights we all end up back here. Wouldn't you say so guys?"

Nods in the affirmative.

I asked, "It seems kind of rude to jump to the bedroom so quickly, but I admit I'm wondering. So what are the sleeping arrangements? This is a pretty big place."

Tim, the Caucasian twink stood, breaking free of the seated group. "Come on, I'll show you the 'kennel'." He led the way to a door in a wall of doors - interesting design element - which he opened to a medium sized room at the center of which was an enormous raised platform bed. "Room for all, though we have two other bedrooms, too. At some point in the night, we all seem to end up in here in a big puppy pile - hence the name for the room. We do respect each other's privacy - such as we can."

Returning to the sitting area, the men had rearranged. Brad had assumed Tim's place next to Sean. Tim extended himself across the back of the couch, occasionally nibbling on Sean's ear. Mark was draped across John's lap, looking up at him with open affection.

"I guess I can't ask what goes on in the 'kennel'." I ventured with raised eyebrows.

"If you're any kind of gay man, you can guess." Sean spoke up. "We're a fair mix of preferences. I'm pretty much a bottom, but as a small man there are limits to what I can take. Mark here, he's our power bottom. All that male beauty and he's only happy when he's getting plowed. At desperate times, even I've been known to do him."

Mark interrupted his gaze of John to toss out "Love you too, Sweety."

Sean continued. "Now Tim here, top with major oral skills, not that we all don't rival him there. John, he's our all around player. A stud who loves to give and receive. This brings us to Mark, our most recent addition. He's your basic big dick."

"Hey, hey, I'm not just a piece of meat, you know. I got skills, too." Mark answered, muscles flexed belying his response.

"That brings up a question. How did you all get together?"

They each looked at each of the others, knowing smiles were exchanged. John again spoke for the group. "There are lots of chapters in that story. I guess it goes back to when I was here alone..."

Chapter One: John

I walked along the street wondering how my life had turned so gray. I had a job many would envy, enough money, a great apartment. I stopped to look at my reflection in a store window. Not in bad shape, kind of good looking. I like how my face grows dark with beard through the day. Not sure about my eyes. Blue like my grandfather's ice blue eyes, inconsistent with my Mom's dark hair, and yet people notice my eyes, even strangers.

But I was alone. The two roommates with whom I had first shared the apartment had recently moved out leaving me with too much space and too quiet a life.

I had also been left with privacy, living alone for the first time in my life. In the silent nights, my body called out to explore my sexuality, sometimes waking me with aching hardness. I would cling to the desire, running a hand through the hair on my chest the other hand cupping my balls, tugging until my cock bounced on my stomach. A face, more a silhouette, appears in my dream, coming down toward my face with the promise of lips to meet mine. "Yes, yes, come to me." Climaxing, I'd sink into the loneliness again. A final, softly spoken wish, "come to me" and then the emptiness of sleep.

As I walked, the images of my dream came back to me. I felt my hardness snake down my leg, obstructing my stride, reminding me with each step of my lonely desire. In the midst of this city, I was alone. I passed couples hand-in-hand. Some old, some young. Their wistful smiles met my stolen glances. Was everyone happy but me? My sexual adventures in college had left me feeling guilty and unfulfilled. All these others had found their moment and the 'one' to couple with.

I walked on despairing of the expanse of life before me, empty, alone.

And yet, my moment had come.

The evening was waning and the prospect of a storm glowered in the sky. There on the curb, just a few blocks from my apartment building sat a thin, young man, surrounded by the stuff of student life: skateboard, battered suitcase, guitar, garbage bags overfilled with unidentifiable contents. Further surrounding the youth was despair.

Reporter's Note: As John began his tale, he lifted Mark from his lap, placing him on the chair and moved to sit on the arm of the chair. Tim moved to sit on the floor, leaning on the chair between Mark's legs. Each continued the small intimate touches I had begun to understand were a physical gesture of their closeness and affection.

I quickened my stride as I passed, diverting my gaze, not wanting to see. Yet my conscience dragged at my steps until I came to a halt. I watched as others stepped around the man, some with distaste, others with indifference. This life was apparently worse than my own. I slowly retraced my steps, stopping along side the heap on the sidewalk. I stood silently, looking down at the young man, only seeing the quiet tears escaping his eyes as he raised his face to see who loomed over him.

I sat down on my haunches, coming level with the young man's face. A quiet moment passed between us, each appraising the other, passing unspoken questions, understanding unheard replies. Then breaking the silence...

"No place to go?"

"Lost my room."


"Junior at the 'U'."

"Family nearby?"

"Not since I came out."


"Yeah, it sucks. I thought it was going to work out. I put up my dorm money to share a room with a couple of guys, thought it would go further. The dumb fucks got caught stoning and we got tossed out. I came home to find the landlord dumping my shit on the sidewalk. The police took the others away. Now what the fuck am I going to do?"

The quiet tears came again.

"Uh...well, uh, I, uh, guess you could crash with me."

"Where the hell did that come from?" screamed my cautious self as my internal dialog began..

"I couldn't just walk by him," defended my feeling self.

"He could rob you - or worse."

"Come on, he's just a kid."

"He could have diseases."

"Don't go there, I'm only offering a couch to sleep on."

"You'll regret this."

"I'll feel worse if I just walk away."

"You mean it?"

"Yeah, I just live on the next block. I think we can make it in one trip, you don't have that much stuff."

"Thanks man," the young face a awakening with the hope of youth. "I'm Tim." This followed by a bro hug that made me both uncomfortable and warm at the same time.

We gathered up the stuff of Tim's life and walked to my building.

"By way of introduction, I'm John. I'm an architect, or at least I'll be one soon. I work for a small firm downtown, office remodels mostly, but I hope to work on some serious projects, maybe restorations." Across the street were dilapidated but still fine town houses begging for what I could do. Maybe, someday...

"Cool. It must be great to be done with school and really working. Making some money. I work when I can, but you know how it is - no jobs. I play in a café sometimes - just covers food and some drinks."

I smiled to myself. Not that long ago I'd been a student, always broke, always hungry. Now I was just lonely.

"Well tonight, you'll have to take potluck with me. I usually have some stuff in the fridge. And, frankly, I'd appreciate the company. Here we are."

I opened the lobby door with my key and helped Tim in with his belongings. "I'm afraid it's a walk-up," I said leading the way up the staircase. The building had been a factory of some kind long ago. Now it contained lofts, two to a floor. My apartment, this apartment, is on the top floor.

"Pretty neat, huh?" proud of what I had created in the space.

"Yeah," came the enthusiastic reply.

"I helped the builder with architectural drawings and design work. We made each apartment unique, using architectural salvage. I found all the doors lined up pretty much like they are now, just leaning against the wall of a building downtown in the process of being demolished. I got them for the asking. Decorative, functional, cheap. They let me have this apartment cheap in return - and I don't think anyone really wanted the fifth floor with all those stairs."

"I'll clue you in on where to find stuff" I offered as we approached the nearest set of doors. "The kitchen is behind here" I pulled, the doors that sandwiched together concealing a galley kitchen. "A few doors down is a half bath. Some more doors down leads to a bedroom. That's pretty much the way it goes. My room is at the end, the kind of green door."

Tim stood, hadn't really moved. I think he was impressed by the apartment.

"You can put your stuff in here," I offered the first bedroom, opening a door in the middle of the row. "My roommates just moved out and they left the mattress at least."

"Are you on your own here?" Tim seemed amazed at all the space.

Tim (interjecting): "You would seem amazed, too - especially when compared to the small, dirty room I had shared with two other guys".

"Yes, I'm all alone." I told him.

"No girlfriend, or anyone?"

"Not even a cat. Why don't you freshen up, there's a bath through there," I indicated a door across the bedroom. I think there are towels and stuff in there. If you don't find what you need, shout. Make yourself at home. I'll dig around for something to eat." I tried to back out the door discretely, closing it after myself, thinking Tim would want some privacy. I was thinking it would be pretty weird some guy offering a place to stay and all.

As I walked toward the kitchen, it was strange but I felt my heart lighten. It would be fun to cook for someone else, to eat with someone else. Even when my roommates were still there, we each lived a separate life. Sure there was the occasional party or watching a game, but most of the time I ate alone. Now I had a reason to use the chef's kitchen the building owner claimed as a reason for high rent for the other apartments.


Tim: I got cleaned up, put on some fresh clothes and came out of the room. There was John in the kitchen. I stood by silently, just watching him. He was entirely focused on the task at hand, moving with a kind of native efficiency. He set a large pot of water on the burner. A pinch of salt and some olive oil, turn up the flame. He rooted around in the refrigerator until he found some frozen meatballs. Into the microwave to defrost. In a large skillet he took more olive oil, some not too dry cloves of garlic (good thing his roommate's girlfriend had come over to cook a while back I found out later). A little jarred sauce, add in the meatballs and let heat slowly. Add some pasta to the pot of water, set the timer for 10 and get the table set. Plates, placemats, forks, and wineglasses - two each from the set of sixteen he somehow had acquired through the roommates. A quick stir of pot and pan. A taste - add a little oregano. Not bad. Parmesan on the table and ...


John: I froze as I felt the eyes on me. I looked up to see Tim leaning against the wall of doors taking in my every move. He was now in a clean tee-shirt and jeans, barefoot, dirty blond hair brushed past his ears. He moved across the space and took me into an embrace. I remember him inhaling deeply.

"Smell good?"

"Yeah, you do. Oh yeah, dinner too."

Tim, as you can see, is slight, a full head shorter than me. He briefly nuzzled my neck, my knees nearly gave out. Then he stepped around me peeking into the pots. "Ooh, spaghetti. I hate to be a bad guest, but I'm starving."

I was wavering between awkwardness and lust. I'm really quite shy, but he had gotten to me, my neck is one of my erogenous zones. The timer went off, bringing me back to awareness. "Grab a bottle from the rack, something red. There's a corkscrew in the drawer," I said and returned to finish preparing the meal.

Tim browsed the wine rack, pulling out bottles one after another. "I don't usually shop in the fine wine section. I've been on more of a screw top budget."

I took the bottle from Tim, it was a super Tuscan, great choice. "Open it up, please, and pour us a couple." I returned to the kitchen to put food on plates and brought them to the high table across from the kitchen.

Tim settled at the place opposite and looked over the steaming plate at me. I tipped my glass as a kind of toast, winked and took a long pull. "Mmmmm. This will get better as it breathes."


Tim: I sipped the wine. My senses were filled with the rich redness of the wine. Somehow the sensuality stirred my sex. I felt my balls loosen in my jeans as the tightness of my entire body - tightness about which I had been unaware - eased away. My stomach growled, I snickered, embarrassed.

"Well eat something, will you? I don't want you passing out from hunger" John teased me.


John: We ate greedily. I paused after taking a drink to smile at Tim, encouraging him to be comfortable. "More?"

"Uh, yes, please. It's really good."

I served up another plate of food to Tim. I had had enough and just sipped wine while he ate.

"What are you studying at the U?"

Between mouthfuls, "Psychology is my major. I started out in Music, and I'll always have that, but after an intro course in Psych, I was hooked. I think helping people work through issues in their lives is something I do naturally and the stuff in the courses just fits."

"You mentioned that you've been on your own."

"Yeah. When I came out to my parents - or more that they suspected and accused me of being gay and I was at long last past denial - they cut me off. I have a good scholarship from the U - my advisor is head of the Psych Department and he's been very supportive. That pretty much leaves me with room and board to cover. Thanks to those two assholes I was rooming with, I'm screwed."

I drained my glass, then turned the bottle over to pour any remaining wine. When it proved dry, I shrugged, got up, picking up my plate and glass and moved to the sink to begin the dishes. Tim followed with his plate and glass and grabbed a dishtowel, and stood at my side, ready to help.

"Any thoughts of what you'll do next? Not that I'm hurrying you out or anything."

"I guess I'll go to the University housing office. See if there's anything I can do now.'

"Worth a shot, anyway. Grab the rest of the stuff off the table for me?" Tim complied. "Thanks" I said as I took the remaining items from Tim and finished the clean up.

"We could watch a movie or whatever's on TV" I offered.

"I don't know if it's the wine or just all that's happened, but if its ok with you, I think I'd just like to crash."

"Sure, that's all right. No pressure."

Tim walked over to me, stood on tiptoe and kissed me full on the mouth. I don't know what came over me, but responded by wrapping my arms around him and pulling him close, returned the kiss, sinking into the sensation. A jolt ran through me and I stepped back, apologizing, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean, I mean, I'm not suggesting anything, I don't..."

Tim cut me off, "Yeah, I was feeling it too, no worries. If you want to, we could,"

Now I cut him off, "Uh, no, I mean, I don't ever, you know, I didn't mean to presume or anything." My words gave out.

"I'm cool with it, if you change your mind."

I mumbled "good night" and escaped to my room. I fell onto my bed, beating it with my fists. How could I grab that guy that way? I knew I wanted to. And it seemed like Tim was sending signals. Still, I couldn't take advantage of some kid, well he must have been 19, probably 20, down on his luck. Am I some kind of perv. Then again, Tim said he was all right with it. Damn, damn, damn. Was Tim really attracted to me or just desperate not to offend me. How desperate was I to grab Tim like that?

I washed up, brushed my teeth, stripped and got into bed, still mentally bashing myself, hoping Tim wasn't too weirded out in the other room. Every detail of the evening kept playing over and over in my mind until, at last I fell asleep.

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