"C'mon," he says, tugging on my arm. I move away from him, annoyed.
"Richie," he says. He's going for the full pout. "Please?"
"No," I whisper, looking around. It's almost closing time, and we're the only ones left in the store. There's a teenaged clerk sitting on a stool behind the register at the front, reading a magazine. She pops her gum every few minutes.
I pick up a pair of slacks, looking in the lining for the tag. I hate this store; they never put the sizes on the price tags where you can see them. I only came here because Gene wanted to come here. To buy some shoes, he'd said.
I ignore him some more, putting the pants back on the rack and moving to the novelty T-shirt table. He follows, sulking.
"Fine," he says, picking up a T-shirt. One Night Stand is screened onto the front of it, along with a clip art bedside table. "You're so plain, you know that?"
It's an argument we've had before. I was boring. I was unimaginative.
"It wouldn't kill you to have a little fun, you know. I'm just trying to get you to open up."
I sigh, looking at him. His face is drawn, and I can tell he's exasperated. I hate that look, and he's been wearing it more and more often. Usually at times like these. It's my fault, too, I know; when we met, he was dancing naked on a picnic table at someone's backyard party. I'd thought he was just high, that he'd settle down. But he hasn't, and I guess I should have known that he wouldn't. Most of us are pretty average, but Gene's just one of those people who's crazy rating is more than three standard deviations from the mean.
"I'm not," I say, a little defensive.
"Whatever," he says. He picks up a random pair of board shorts and stomps off to the dressing rooms. I pick up a navy blue hoodie and follow.
He's in the handicapped cubicle, and he's left the door open. He's pulling off his shirt, making sure to stand in the doorway where someone would have the best chance of seeing him, if anyone had been here. I step in with him, closing the door.
"What?" he says.
"Fine," I say. "Asshole."
He smiles, too, and moves toward me. He tosses his shirt into the corner. The phone in his pocket thuds against the wall before falling out. It lands on the floor and the back pops off. We ignore it.
I love Gene's chest; it's always so soft-looking. I stare at it as he takes his time getting to me. Both of his nipples are pierced, and he has a tattoo of an eight ball on his hip. I watch it roll as he glides over, and I feel my cock start to swell.
He stops about an inch from my face, lids drooping. He breathes in little puffs, and his hands are fooling around in front of his crotch. I finally look down, and he grins wider.
He's unzipping, and taking his sweet time, too. I can see the outline of him pressing against the faux denim, and when the zipper is all the way down, it pops out, hovering between us. No underwear.
I should have known.
I exhale in a rush, and I can hear my heart in my head. I'm wet now, I can feel it; the front of my underwear is stuck to the end of my cock like toilet paper stuck to just-washed hands. My feet begin to inch away from each other, and Gene steps into the new space, grinding his hips into mine. His cock, now dripping too, rubs against my stomach. I moan.
His grin fades a little, and eyes lose some of their focus. His hips are moving faster, and his wetness is beginning to run down into my pants. My hands, which had been dazed into immobility before now, come to life, and I take hold of his hips, crushing him to me.
"Mmm..." he says. His brow wrinkles in concentration. I growl. He moans again, and his little puffs get shallower. It's another thing I love about him; he never says stupid phrases or makes fake expressions. Everything is real. Always.
His hands shoot to his chest all of a sudden, and his fingers slip into the rings piercing his nipples. He twists them first, then tugs, each one separately. He looks at me, both desperate and purposeful. My hands slide from his hips and move up his back, pulling his chest to me. My mouth finds a nipple, and my tongue plays.
He hisses, and his hips lose their rhythm against me, jerking. His hands tangle in my hair, and he crushes my face into his chest.
"Aaaa...oooh," he says. It was a sound I know well enough.
I pull off him, taking hold of his hips again to push him away. He looks confused for a moment, then steadies, and his grin returns.
He turns away from me, facing the mirror on the wall. His hands settle on his hips before his fingers slip into his belt buckles. He bends over. All the way. And he goes slow.
By the time his ass is free of the jeans, whimpers accompany my breaths. He lets go of the loops after that and the pants fall to the floor. He frees his legs, then spreads them.
"Ah..." I say. I'm hurting by now, and I want to take mine off, too. I don't.
I know the rules.
His fingers trail up the back of his thighs, stopping to squeeze his cheeks. I gasp. He chuckles, but it sounds strained.
They just play a little at first. Moving up and down between his cheeks, then making little circles around his hole. I growl. He chuckles again.
One slips in.
It's one of his favorite things to do. He likes it even better if I watch. I oblige him. It's all about give and take, isn't that what they say?
In goes another. I can't take it. No more.
I open my mouth, but at first only a strangled cough comes out. I take a wheezing breath.
"G-Gene," I say.
He stands quickly, turning around and power-walking toward me. He's ready, too.
He drops to his knees, moaning sporadically, and fumbles with my zipper. He gets it undone on the fifth try, and he yanks down my pants and underwear in one stroke. He lets them rest on my thighs, making a fist around my cock.
He grins at the sound. He's gentle, because he can feel how close to oblivion I am. His hand moves in short, gentle strokes on my shaft. He ignores the head. My balls start to hurt, and my hips are jerking to the left and to the right, beyond my control. My hands fill themselves with clumps of his hair and yank him forward. He laughs, but I can see his resolve slipping.
His hands reach around to my ass, grabbing and pinching roughly. He always gets rough when it's time to swallow.
He opens his mouth, not nearly wide enough to fit me in, and places the little 'o' at the head of my cock. His tongue darts into the little hole, and my knees buckle, almost striking him. His grip tightens on my ass, and then he swallows me.
"Aaah..." I say, but this time it's more of a croak.
He's doing the tongue thing, where he traces little patterns on my cock with it. I'm all the way inside his throat - I can feel it tightening and relaxing on my head - and he begins to moan. I can feel the vibration, and I bite my lip, trying to contain myself.
He starts to suck.
His lips pucker and his jaws hollow inward as be backs off until he is suckling only the head, then comes forward again. He goes slow at first, then begins to speed up. I want to ask him to stop or slow down or something, but I can't think. I can never think when his mouth is on me, and he's sucking so hard that I can't control myself.
My breaths are shallow by now, so much that I feel close to losing consciousness, and I am surprised I haven't pulled any of his hair out. My cock is all shiny, and his mouth is making the slurpy sounds that always drive me over the edge. This time is no exception.
I press my back into the wall for stability, knowing I'll need it. He knows it's time, and he slows down, trying to make it last, but it's no use.
I bite down on my top lip in an effort to keep the noise to a minimum, but that's a waste of time, too. When I come, my mouth is wide open and screaming. I cry his name as my knees buckle and my cock explodes. There's a terrific fluttering in my stomach as I unload into his throat. His face gets all screwed up and tight, and he freezes in place for a few seconds. Then, he relaxes, and lets me fall out of his mouth. He sits back on his haunches, grinning.
Outside the cubicle, I can still hear the cashier girl popping her gum.
"Now that was fun, wasn't it?"
I can't speak.
I met him at the beginning of the summer.
I couldn't afford my own place. My building had a roommate matching party at the landlord's house on the beach. Calling him a hippie would have been putting it lightly.
Everyone was high, including me. I remember walking around in a haze, waving at people. Gene tells me that's all I did for the entire party. He says I was as boring high as I was sober.
It was dusk, and we were near the ocean. There was a picnic table somewhere on the lawn with a pole in it that used to have an umbrella on the end. Gene was in a pair of blue board shorts grinding his hips against it and spinning around in all of his tall, lanky, and redheaded glory. Four or five people were cheering down below him, and four or five more were actually sitting at the picnic table, baked and silent. I was at the back of the small crowd, watching him.
He saw me, and he let go of the pole, staring at me. The board shorts must have been pretty cheap, because he tore them off in one stoned-second, which, depending on the grass, could mean ten seconds or two hours. All I know is that the shorts were on and then they were off. He wasn't completely soft, either.
He went on dancing, closing his eyes and singing an off-key version of an R & B song. His mediocre ass was as white as a sheet, and there was a clear tan line where his underwear usually went. I remember thinking that it was funny, and then things fade out until later, when we were signing a lease together.
"This is gonna be phenomenal, dude," he said when it was my turn to sign. He was still naked. "It's gonna be...like...a total phenomenon." He smiled, nodding and showing all of his teeth.
I tried to keep my eyes on his face.
He moved in the next day. All of his stuff was in trash bags, the kind with the little plastic yellow handles. He had an air mattress that he set up in his corner of the room. He papered his wall in posters. His night table was plastic, and he didn't use his half of the closet because he didn't want to put his clothes on hangers.
"They're so rigid," he told me when I asked him why. "They're like...oppressive. Clothes are flexible, man. They weren't meant to strung up and hung in closets. Would you want to be strung up and hung in a closet, dude? Or would you want the freedom to hang out wherever you wanted?" He stared accusingly at my side of the room, with it's full sized oak bed, oak chest of drawers, oak mirror, and oak bedside table. All of my clothes were on hangers. Oak hangers.
I couldn't begin to fathom a response.
"That's what I thought," he said. He turned around and tossed his shirt onto his air mattress with the rest of his clothes. It was covered with a Bob Marley afghan.
I should have ended it then, when it was still to early to hurt.
My parents would have killed me if they'd seen me like that. I wasn't a marijuana virgin, far from it; getting high was pretty much the only way I survived Connecticut. But I'd always been modest about it, lighting up once, maybe twice a month. And they never knew. But when I moved away to college, I indulged a lot more often. And for the summer after Gene moved in, I was a 'Don't Let This Happen to You' poster child for the Above the Influence campaign.
We were high all the time.
It started in June, right after school got out and Gene got in. He'd been laid out on his mattress all day tossing a tennis ball between his hands. He was in his skivvies like always, which, let me tell you, were never Fruit of the Loom boxers. Today he'd chosen a pink mesh thong.
I was sitting cross-legged on my bed, looking through the course catalog and trying not to look down at him. At the time, I told myself I just wasn't used to seeing men in skimpy underwear.
"They're really comfy," he said. "You should try one. It's like a hammock, but for your balls."
He smirked at me. I was wearing a button down shirt, a vest, tie and slacks. I looked down at my clothes, then back at him. I tried to think of a response, but I couldn't, so I just went back to looking at courses for the fall. Even back then, he left me speechless.
"On second thought," he said, "maybe you should just stick to boxers. Not everyone can handle one of these babies." He snapped the waistband against his hip.
I choked a little, and tried to pass it off as a cough.
He stopped tossing the ball and stood up. He walked over to my bed and jumped on it. Some of the papers on it scattered. I hoped he couldn't hear how hard my heart was beating.
"You wanna party tonight?" he said.
I gave an shrug. It was too exaggerated and I wanted to kick myself. Instead, I told him I was game.
He laid back across my pillows. I could see stray pubes. I swallowed.
"So, who's gonna come?"
My voice was about seven octaves higher than normal. I wanted to die.
"I'll call Hayley, and maybe Cohen. He always has good stuff."
"Cool." I said.
He watched me pretend not to look at him for a few more minutes, then got up from the bed.
"I'm gonna go get some Taco Bell, man," he said. "We'll need it for later."
He slipped on some board shorts and flip flops and shut the door behind him.
We sat in a circle on the floor. Hungry Hungry Hippos was set up in the void between us, and a gray haze floated around our heads. Cohen was passed out against the closet door, and Hayley sat next to me, one of her legs in my lap. Her eyes were almost closed, and the bong she held in her hand was close to falling. Gene was across from us, lying prone on his Bob Marley cover. Taco Bell sauce packets were all over the room.
It was dark out, and we'd started around noon. Cohen had scored something called Dark Thunder from some guy that lived near his mom, and we'd spent the entire day up there, playing board games and downing fire sauce. My mouth was still burning, but the pain was vague; the tick of my clock was in surround sound, and my eyelashes seemed much longer than usual. I kept deciding to raise my hand to wave, and then forgetting to do it.
Gene lifted his head slowly and looked at me. He was squinting, like I was far away. My heart started to pound again; it was the only thing I could hear over the clock. His eyes were an ordinary hazel, I knew, but that night they seemed golden, like they were shining out of his sockets. He smiled when he finally noticed me staring.
"Hey," he said.
"Hi," I said back. I tried to wave again. He giggled.
"You're hand is broken," he said.
"It's sick," I said. "From Baco Tell sauce."
Hayley snorted. We turned to look at her. She was asleep.
"She's a piggy," I said. "Piggy snore." Gene giggled.
I tried to wave again.
Gene got onto all fours. It took a few minutes, and he fell twice, but he made it eventually. He crawled toward me. His knee crushed one of the hippos.
"Shhh," I said.
He giggled, then kept crawling. He stopped when he was in front of me. My heart beat even harder, so hard that I couldn't hear what he was saying. He was smiling, though, so I smiled back. He had such a pretty smile.
It seemed like he had asked a question, so I nodded.
"Mmmm," he said.
He kissed me on the cheek.
My back was against my bed. I let my head roll back against it. Gene giggled. I giggled too, but the sound was far away, like an echo. My body was thrumming, and the place where his lips touched my face was tingling and hot, like the inside of my mouth.
He kissed the other cheek. It tingled too.
"Hmmm," I said. It sounded like a question.
"Mmm," he said. Then he kissed me on the lips.
It was just a little peck at first. Then it was another peck. And another. Then a longer one. The next one lasted awhile. And before I knew it me and Gene Hatchett were licking each other's tongues. And saying Hmmm.
The next day Cohen and Hayley left, and we cleaned up the sauce packets. Gene was putting the board game away. I turned to look at him.
"What was that?" I said. "What we did. What was it?"
"Kissing," he said simply.
"I know," I said. I was shocked to find I was close to crying. "But what was that?"
He must have heard it in my voice, because he turned around and walked over to me. He put his hands on my shoulders.
"It doesn't have to be a major thing," he said. "It was just a little kissing. We never have to do it again, or we can do it anytime you want. Did you like it?"
It took me a minute, but I nodded.
"Okay then," he said. "We can kiss if we feel like it then, right dude?"
I nodded again.
"Don't worry," he said. "We won't let it get weird."
He leaned in and kissed me again. This time he pressed his body against me and ran his hands up my back. I shuddered, because I could feel him against me and he wasn't completely soft. I wasn't either.
He let go after I started to relax. There was spit on his face, and it was a little flushed. I'm sure mine was worse.
He smiled again. "See?" He whispered it into my ear. "I like it, too."
His hand brushed against me in a place that made it obvious that I did see. He turned around and went back to stacking game boxes.
I reorganized my entire closet that night, right down to my socks. I thought it would help me keep my feelings under control. It worked.
We did it again two days later. Cohen brought more Dark Thunder.
It was night again, and Cohen and Hayley and some blond guy named Emery were there. We played Uno that time. We'd been playing for an hour or so when Cohen said we should play truth or dare.
"Cool," Hayley said.
"Whatever," Emery said. He took another hit. I don't think he even knew what we were talking about.
Gene smiled at me. "I'll go first," he said.
"Richie," he said. "Truth or dare?"
I couldn't believe he picked me.
"Truth," I said.
"Truth." He took the blunt from Emery and took a hit. "What's the craziest sex thing you've ever done?"
"Wow," Hayley said. "Sex already? This is gonna be fun."
"Uh," I said. I was blushing, I knew it, and I hated it. "Well..."
"I know," Emery said. "You saw a tit once, right?"
"I did it doggy style on the hood of a car once," I said.
Cohen choked. "You?" he said. "Were you wearing your prep school vest?"
Everyone laughed again. I didn't answer, because I had been wearing it.
"Her name was Sydney," I said. "It was her dad's old Thunderbird. We drove it to the coast one weekend when they were out of town."
"Whoa," Hayley said. "Imagine that, straight-laced little you-"
"Are you sure that's it?" Gene said. He was looking at me, and he was a little angry, but also a little hot under the collar; I could see it.
"Yeah," I said.
"Was she naked?" he said.
I licked my lips. "Yeah."
"How big were her tits?" I could hear him breathing.
"D-something," I said. He was still glaring at me, and I could feel myself start to stir.
"Hey," Emery said. "It's someone else's turn. You're giving me a fucking boner."
Hayley laughed. "I'll go," she said.
"Em. Truth or dare?"
"Oh, no," he said. "Pass."
"You can't pass," she said.
"Fine. Then lose the shirt."
Cohen laughed. "This is so wild," he said.
"Fine." Emery pulled the jersey over his head. He was wearing a wife beater underneath. I looked away.
"Strip truth or dare," Gene said. "I like it." He was still staring at me.
"My turn," Cohen said. "Truth or dare, Gene."
"Touch Hayley's tit."
"Oh, you know you want him to, you slut." He ducked as she threw something in his general direction.