You're thinking to yourself that this is your lucky day. You've wanted a boy just like me for the longest time, someone you know won't go screaming to the authorities. Your smile tells me all I need to know for the moment: you know it's terribly wrong, but you need me. You've pegged me as sweet, innocent, curious, the perfect candidate for your delicate tutorial. It's like I've walked whole cloth out of some boylove website, my freckled face toasted by long afternoons in the sun, my corn silk hair studiously uncombed. My eyes are aquamarines under glass. You want to tell me I've walked out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but you sigh because you know I've never heard of the dude, and the allusion would be lost, and then you wouldn't be cool at all.
You're mistaken, of course. Utterly and completely. Oh, I'm going to tell you I'm 13 because that's what you want to hear. I'm going to talk stupid, too, because smart is dangerous, and your whole life has been about avoiding danger. So I'm going to let you go on believing that I walked straight out of Westfield, straight out of Santorum Middle School, straight out of Ms. Landers' class where just two hours ago we were making pronouns agree. It's your American Dream, Mr. Smith: a little boy climbs willingly into your Lexus and asks you to take him home. To your home. Where every day you choke on the reality before you: everything's perfect, just as you planned it, and yet, wanting nothing, you're utterly miserable. I'm going to change that for you – if only for a day.
Fact is, I haven't been 13 for four years now. And there's the rub. I like that expression, by the way, with its suggestion of frottage. The rub. As in: I'm going to rub you the wrong way – after I rub you in all the right ways. As in: rub-a-dub-dub, I wanna get in your Jacuzzi.
I haven't been 13 for four years now, not that you could possibly know. That makes me 17 – only five months from street legal, in effect. You're risking a court case maybe, some embarrassment, for sure, but there's no chance at all of hard time, I promise. It seems that in a wild miscalculation, God gave me Einstein's brains and Alexander's brass balls, but quit on the job, forgot to finish His work. I'm 5'4". I weigh 112 pounds. My voice cracks every time I say goodbye. I've been stuck in this eternal puberty so long that I've come to accept it as my peculiar destiny, something to celebrate, not lament. Stuck with the same sad little pubic bush, a hundred reddish-gold strands fringing a shockingly long and skinny penis (like I said, the blueprint's out of whack). The same little boy chest, little boy tummy, hairless little boy legs; the same puppy dog countenance that lures the bad daddies from hiding whenever I show up, that stirred you, Mr. Smith, all dark and chiseled elegance, to sidle up to me in the Mall parking lot and ask if I was lost and needed a ride. I wasn't lost. I certainly didn't need a ride – my Audi is parked four rows over. But you were lost, Mr. Smith, and I knew just how to find you. I always know where to find you.
I don't have much to say, which works out just fine for you, because you've got a tin ear for kid talk, just ask your daughter at Vassar. I fidget because boys are supposed to fidget. I scrunch up in the seat, pull my knees to my chest, give you a straight shot to the curve of my dick in the strategically tightened khaki shorts. My pulse is absolutely steady. I'm breathing fine. But you're not. The blue vein on your temple throbs as you work out the script. There's sweat on your collar, though it's icy with A.C. inside the Lexus. I want to tell you "relax, buddy," I'm way ahead of you. I'm not really looking for conversation. I can save you just as easily in silence.
"So you must be a freshman?"
"You look like a swimmer." I look nothing at all like a swimmer. You've got a pool.
"Club. Not competitive." My voice cracks convincingly. You're thinking of me in a Speedo.
"I used to swim." Your voice keeps trailing off. I have to imagine that you still swim, but I'm not going to say so. "We have a pool. We keep it open until October."
"Cool. Me and my sister have a membership at the Y. But the water's pretty gross. They put in this blue stuff to hide the pee." I don't have a sister. And my dad could buy you out with what he keeps in his checking account.
"Well, we keep things clean."
"You want a swim?"
"Whatever. Sounds okay." Let you lead. Don't step on your toes.
"Look, I can run you home from here if you want. No problem there." Guilt creeps up on you like cancer, from somewhere deep inside your bones.
"I don't want to go home." I pout, and squeeze a little vibrato from my froggy tenor.
"Okay. That's cool. Listen, is there something wrong, little man?"
"No. Nothing's wrong. I don't want to go home, that's all. Just drop me off here if you want to. If, you know, I'm bugging you."
"No. I don't want to. Not at all." You exhale with what has to be relief, though it could be a death rattle, given the beating your conscience is taking. "So, what's your name, anyway? I suppose I should know. I'm Vince, by the way." You offer your hand, which I shake with unnatural vigor.
"Charles. My dad calls me Chaz. My friends call me Chaz the Spaz." Strange, this name thing. I'm guessing you really are Vince. Me, I'm always changing names – I've been Nicky and Dex and Allie and Tom. I've been Chipper and Skipper and Chase. One guy in Piscataway, I started the ride as Ricky and ended up as Sam, and he was too shaken by the whole thing to question the discrepancy.
"Chaz." You seem to like it, because you're smiling, repeating it with a cute little buzz of tongue against teeth. "Makes me think of an English prince."
"I'm from Westfield. No princes there." I'm not really in the mood to play the non-sequitur game, to see if I can out-random you. And I don't want you to know just yet that my birth name is Gregor, that I was born in Odessa, not Texas, but Georgia, not Confederate, but Ukraine, in a house looking out onto the Black Sea. We moved here when I was five – when my father, the asshole, decided that the market for his brand of goods was even better in the NYC. My father keeps a place on the Upper West Side and hangs with his chain-smoking gangster buddies in their Armanis and Magli slip-ons. They all have women there to keep them company while their wives stay home in the 'burbs, and they surround themselves with lawyers to smooth things out before somebody ends up getting whacked. My mother, Tatiana, knows all about him, and she tells me so – but she just can't make herself care enough to leave him. I guess she likes the house in Edison, and the Russian-speaking maids, and Channel 543 in the Digital Cable package, which she watches 10 hours a day with a tumbler of Stolichnaya and a pack of Dunhills by her side. Likes all of it just enough to let the asshole shit on her. My mother is quite beautiful, by the way, but her eyes, my eyes, have been dead for some time now.
"You're pretty quiet, Chaz. What's on your mind? We're almost to my place."
"Hey. No problem. You just looked like you wanted to tell me something."
"No." Then I add, as sweetly as I can, "Vince."
I like the house. Someone who lives here has taste. The artwork calls the eye to it. It's more than decoration. There's plenty of natural light at play, which doesn't stop me from brushing up against absent tenants, the ghosts of Vince's present.
"That's a cool painting, Vince," I pronounce, taking in the blue-black splotch on the white dining room wall.
"It's a Rothko, Chaz. And I'm afraid it's just a print."
"Do you have a plasma?"
"One of those plasma TV's."
"I'm afraid not. We're...I'm not much for TV."
"Can I see the pool now? This is really a nice house, Vince."
"Thanks. Can I get you something to drink?"
"Yeah. Some water, please."
"Tell you what, little man, why don't you go and check out the pool. Through the sliding glass doors in the den. I'll get you that glass of water and see if I can't rustle up something to munch on."
I'm staring through crystalline water at the tile mosaic on the pool floor when I feel your hand on my shoulder. This is the first time you've ventured to touch me. I am careful to relax in your grip, to send the right signals to your fingertips.
"See," you say, "it's clean."
"Yeah," I chuckle. "Not at all like the Y."
I turn around. You changed while you were away. You're sporting turquoise swim trunks and a loosely belted terrycloth robe. You've got soccer player legs, hard and thick with bulging calves. Your chest is powerful and matted with black fur. You're a gentle man, I think, but you've got a cruel body. You could break me in two if you wanted.
"You going in?" I ask.
"That's the plan. I was sort of hoping you'd join me, Chaz."
"I don't have a suit."
"No problem. Just strip to your boxers. We'll toss 'em in the dryer later."
"I guess. Is it cold, Vince?"
"Nah. It's perfect." As if to prove it, you lay your robe on the chaise and launch yourself perfectly into the water. You stay under for about 20 seconds, skimming the bottom like a catfish, plucking a twig from the drain. Then you resurface, give me the first legitimately happy smile of the afternoon, and extend your arms as if to embrace the sun.
"You swim good, Vince." I pull off my Linkin Park t-shirt, slip off my flip-flops, then shimmy out of my shorts. Underneath I'm wearing these frayed old baggy red things that won't hold up to a splash, and I think to myself that soaking wet I'm going to look utterly obscene. So I pull them off, too, and stand before the man who wants me more than sanity like a sacrificial virgin in the chamber of the king. I let you study me for a few seconds in all my naked glory, this creature of your dreams, make sure you feast on my half-swollen dick, and dive in.
"Wow! This is awesome," I scream, slapping the cool water with open palms. I think you're paralyzed. You shouldn't play poker, Vince – you're not going to know how to play the hand you've been dealt. I glide up to you, standing chest-deep against the side of the pool, wrap my bony legs around your waist, lock my hands behind your head, and nuzzle my sweet face in your armpit. "This is so great, Vince. I'm really happy." Then I press my lips against yours and wait for them to part, and soon our tongues are dueling for dominion. I feel you shudder in my grip and choke back a sob. That's my favorite moment, I think: when they break down; when the men cry.
You pick me up like a rain-soaked puppy and wrap me in your robe. You carry me to the master bedroom at the end of a long hall. Wordlessly, you lay me down in the middle of the enormous bed, my hair still wet with pool water, my skin mottled with goose flesh. The afternoon sun cutting through the blinds stripes my naked form. You stand over me for the longest time, just staring, tilting your head to examine me from multiple angles, posing me in various tableaux. I'd say, Vince, that you have a streak of poetry in you, or at least enough of the aesthete to believe that what you're about to do with me is art, if not love, profane, perhaps, but nearly sacred, too. Most of the other men have been more utilitarian, but I'm thinking now that you are built closer to the edge of things, that this is going to have to play out according to your dream, not simple lust or expedience.
Now it's your turn, and I'm watching you as you watched me, caught up in the magic of the unveiling. I've come to love this part, when my men get naked, when they start to surrender the last layers of their disguise. You slip your trunks over your thick, distended dick, and I imagine that you want more than anything for me to approve. You are powerful, Vince, your body a relief map of muscle and sinew, but naked before me you seem as fragile as a porcelain figurine.
You lie down beside me, and still neither one of us has spoken, not that there's ever going to be the right thing to say. For the moment, it's best that I wait for your cue, follow your instructions, let you believe you're the first to walk across the surface of the moon.
Your hand lights on my chest. You linger with your index finger tracing circles round the aureole of my tiny nipples. Your hand sneaks its way over the hillock of my tummy, pausing a second in the cave of my belly button.
And then you lift my dick off my thigh, marvel at its prominence, wondering, it seems, how something so impossibly large could be attached to someone so small. You lower your lips to kiss the head, just peeking through its white sheath, then flick your tongue across its redness. You poke at the pee-hole. You gather the foreskin and suck up, pinching it closed. Then you take my dick again in your hand and hold it there in a shaft of light like something recently blessed, a holy icon.
"Chaz. You're not circumcised." They say this all the time. It's like an icebreaker.
"I mean, that's cool, you know."
"I'm not used to it. I'm cut, you see."
"I'm cut. Circumcised."
"It's so amazing."
"What, Vince? What's so amazing?"
"You, little man. Everything about you."
"You mean my penis? I know."
"Yes, your dick is amazing. You don't know how amazing. But that's not all. It's just. It's just – you. All of you. You're not really, I don't know. Real. Wherever did you come from, my little angel?"
"Westfield. I told you."
"It's not what I mean, Chaz." This is the moment of rapture, when they find themselves on a planet in another galaxy, a planet where everything's familiar, but nothing's the same.
"Play with me, Vince. Do that stuff again. With my dick and all. Make me feel incredible! I want to feel incredible."
You don't need much encouragement, you're that far-gone. And you really do it well. Some of the men hold back even after they've surrendered, but you, you want to get lost in me. You bathe me like a mother cat, your tautened tongue probing all of my orifices. You're transporting me, taking me away. I don't think I've ever felt anything as great as that tongue, that heat-seeking missile breaking the O-ring of my little pink asshole. I'm going to blow soon anyway, but my God, your fearlessness has my dick twitching like a sunfish on a 10-pound test.
You know what's coming, and you don't want to lose a drop. You're all the way down to the root, your beard scratching the smooth surface of my groin. This defies logic; it's acrobatic; you're way beyond joy, well beyond pain, somewhere even memory cannot visit. My dickhead bangs against your tonsils, and still you don't gag. I'm not even sure if you're breathing. Then I'm grabbing the bedspread and I'm feeling the rumble in my balls and the surge up my urethra, and you sense it, too, so you disengage just a bit, pull back eight inches 'til just the head is in your mouth, and somehow you understand that with this one last miraculous bit of suction I'm going to launch a flood of cum so dense and so rich it could make the desert bloom.
You swallow it all. They don't all do that, you know. What's more, you sense how tender my dick is once I've finished, so you let it go, let it heal itself, let the knob, still brilliantly red and shiny, slip back into its protective covering. Despite the fact that you have unfinished business of your own, you understand that I need to find my breath again, so you brush my forehead with a kiss, shake your head in disbelief, and tell me with your sad gray eyes that if you died in this instant, you would feel complete.
"Thank you, Vince. That was so awesome."
"You just don't know, little man. You can't know."
"Me now? My turn? I can do stuff to you, too."
"Really? I bet you can. I bet you can. Something tells me you can do just about anything."
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then your ears are burning. I'm nothing if not a quick study. I have come to understand that we do unto others what we would like to have done to us – a golden rule for sex – so I'm going to do unto you like you've never been done unto before. You've earned it, my dark prince.
I'm making it last for you, foreplay in extremis. I've got you moaning, arching your back as you fight off that final explosion. With most of my men it's been cheap theater, kabuki, two solitary dancers in separate corners of the room. There is no – what did the poet say? – no unheard melody, no story between the lines. With you, I believe at last I can be me, not Chaz, but Gregor Valentin Kalikashvili, not the pedophile's plaything, not the rag-doll whore nor the avenging angel. And when we emerge from this dream, I will tell you who I am, and I will beg your forgiveness for lying to you, and I will tell you with the heaviest of hearts that I can only do this once, because afternoons like this cannot happen again.
You're drained, literally and figuratively, but your dick remains hard as mahogany. It's like you're caught in amber, eternally ecstatic, Icarus fallen, a priapic god in his suburban bed. So I've still got work, and though I'm quite afraid of what I'm about to do, I know somehow I'll manage.
There's Vaseline on the nightstand. When I grab the jar, you hesitate, guessing my intent. I brush you off, put my fingers to your lips to silence your complaint. Then I rub your still-swollen dick with a dollop of the jelly, and you wince a bit as I coat the wide, circumcised head and moisten the thick shaft. You're not a freak, by any stretch (and Vince, I know freak), but the dimensions are daunting, the physics complex. I place another jellybean of Vaseline on your index fingertip, and offer you my little hole, a pink anemone so tiny that you've got to be thinking "no way." But you're game – because you understand who owns the moment. If pain is what I want, then pain is what you'll give me, and you'll be praying along with me that this pain will dissolve into joy.
At my command, you lie back. I sit astride you for a bit, measuring, seeking a better angle and a view of your beautiful face, so dark and serious. Then I elevate on my knees and grab your cock. I aim the head at the glistening button, raise myself up, and position myself for entry. Then slowly, straining my thighs so that I don't collapse, I let you in, a half inch at a time. I could scream, but I want the face you see before you to be filled with love, at peace with everything.
You're in me. Or rather I'm on you. Having endured this and discovering I'm still breathing, I raise myself again, almost let go of you, then descend. Buttered with desire, we discover a rhythm as primal as the tides, and I'm suddenly free of pain and you're suddenly free of guilt and I'm pulling and you're pushing and I'm sighing and you're sobbing and you can't hang on any longer so I say, as Gregor, not Chaz, it's okay, my love, it's time, and we both realize what the Elizabethans meant when they told each other they were dying.
You cum inside me. I cum all over you. We're awash in bodily fluids, sweat and tears and semen. You're shrinking inside me and growing in my eyes. I nestle my head in your furry chest and let you wrap your arms around me as if you want to save me from drowning.
We lie together like that for half an hour, a strange pieta. Then you walk me to the bathroom and run a tub. I let you bathe me like an infant, now that all the sex is done. It's amazing how quickly I feel whole again, my innocence restored. I've found my way back to the garden, after all.
Then we dress, and I know I'm talking to you, but I don't know which one of me it is. I'm babbling like Chaz, then I'm waxing like Gregor, and for the first time ever, I'm happy being both, benignly bipolar. And, you, Vince, you don't know what to say, you can't speak in tongues, and something tells me you're resigned to the dream, long past trying to bend it to your will.
He drives me back to the Meadows Mall, the man who loved me, this man who murdered the American Cupcake. He killed Chaz and Ricky and Dex and Sam, buried them in the folds of his sheets. All along I thought I owned him, thought I'd be teaching the lesson. How wrong. How fucking wrong.
"I'll get out here, Vince."
"Who are you? What have I done?" He's not angry, just terribly confused.
"So who is Chaz?"
"I was Chaz. I was exactly who you wanted me to be. Or who I thought you wanted me to be."
"And who is Gregor?"
"Me. The real me. The me I'm going to be from now on."
"Jesus. This is hard."
"I know. I didn't think it would be so hard. It's way too late, Vince, but I need to say I'm sorry. The lie has always worked before. I wanted to hurt you, then leave you. I've always wanted to hurt them. Now, I've hurt you and I hate myself for it."
"Who are you, Gregor? Tell me, please."
"Just a fucked up kid. 17 – and that's not a lie. Stunted. A freak."
"Yes. I'll be 18 in December. I'm a senior at J. P. Stevens. I'll be applying to Yale, imagine that."
"Wow. I'm such an idiot."
"No. Nobody believes me when I tell them. You couldn't have known."
"Because I know you. Or at least I thought I knew you."
"You knew I wanted a boy? Just like you? I mean, just like Chaz?"
"Yes. It's what they all want, isn't it?"
"Oh shit. What have I done?"
"Nothing bad. You shared yourself with me. I loved being with you."
"You or Chaz?"
"Me, Vince. I quit on Chaz when he made you cry. I've never had trouble hurting guys before. You fixed that."
"It was wrong with Chaz, wasn't it?"
"But it was right with Gregor. For the first time in my whole fucked up dwarf retard life I wanted somebody as much as he wanted me. It's the most important thing I've ever learned."
"You don't love me, do you Gregor?"
"I can't. You can't either. I saw the photographs. But for an hour I loved you, and they can't take that away from me."
"I'm not going to see you again."
"No. They need you."
"But I – " I don't let him finish. I plant a kiss on Vince's cheek, open the door, and slip out into the evening. I can't turn around and take another look. I don't want him to see me crying.