“ . . . Lying with
lying with you
is all I could have ever wished for
laying with you
my poison-hipped angel . . .”
Cole took a pinch of leaves from out of their circular, metal container—only after letting the pungent smell of them waft into his nostrils. The container itself was shiny steel, hinged on one side, with a clasp at the other. Adorning its top was a bio-hazard symbol. Cole set the container next to another stainless steel object. Approximately three inches in height and three in diameter, with flat ends, to sit properly, it was Cole’s favorite tool. Cole abandoned the leaves on the coffee table, before him, and picked up the cylindrical device. He held it from both ends, between thumb and fore-finger. He pulled it apart, slowly, separating it into two pieces. From the first jutted three triangular blades, stainless steel as its housing. The second was a pitted version of the first, hollowed out so that the blades would fit into the pit and rotate fully, without obstruction. Cole dropped the leaves into the pitted side. Then, he fitted the bladed side into its resting place. The two pieces didn’t come together quite as they used to. But, as Cole began to twist the two sides against each other, as one would a peppermill, the sides fit perfectly, once more.
Jason came into the living room holding two beers. He set one down beside Cole’s work and held the other between his legs. Jason sat anxiously as Cole retrieved a small, cardboard envelope from his pocket. From it, he withdrew a small, rectangular piece of paper that was so thin, the writing in the notebook Cole had set it open bled through. But that was only after Cole had folded the paper in half, hot-dog style, so that it came up under the food-grade adhesive that clung along the length of one side. Jason stood suddenly, and skipped over to the stereo, on the shelving unit, with the television they were facing. The television wasn’t on, but the rhythmic sounds of a solo, acoustic, steel, six-string guitar flowed from the speakers immediately beside it, and placed “periodically” throughout the rest of the house. Cole was only slightly aware of Jason and their three mutual friends, Amy, Seonaid and Austin, who were cross-legged, sprawled out and leaning back as satellites, revolving around the coffee table.
Cole removed the triangle-bladed lid from the steely, pitted container. He tapped out the leaves that had been stuck onto the leaves, back into their pit. Then he poured them all into the crease of the folded paper. Cole distributed the leaves evenly; then he rolled them inside the paper, making sure the edge without the gum was caught in the crease that had been made from his first rotation. When it was finished, Cole placed the joint next to four others and looked at his companions.
“Let’s go outside.” He said.
Outside was bright and warm. A soft breeze blew over the grass and rustled the wisteria as everyone took their places. Jason and Cole curled up together on the large hammock, tied to an even larger oak tree. Amy, Austin and Seonaid laid, legs over knees, on the grass a few feet away. Cole took a joint and passed the rest to Jason, who took one and tossed one on Seonaid’s stomach, Austin’s chest and in Amy’s hand.
“To the summer,” they toasted.
Cole extricated a lighter from his pocket and crossed his eyes to watch the tip of his cigarillo come ablaze. After the first hit, he felt lighter. The second hit left his mind scattered. The third brought everything back together. After the fourth, he had sunk deeper into the familiar embrace of his lover. Austin sat up coughing. Amy giggled and Seonaid patted him on the back.
Silence overtook the five as the CD player cycled through discs.
It was the year 2001. Y2K had come and gone without a single hitch. George W. Bush Jr. was elected president . . . kind of. Elian Gonzales had been found clinging to a life-raft in Florida. The six-year-old boy was the sole survivor of a shipwreck that claimed the lives of his mother and 10 other Cubans. Microsoft was broken apart because of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who found the gargantuan conglomerate to hold a monopoly over the tech. industry. Due to bad advertising and a plethora of poor business decisions throughout the entire Internet Technology sector, the Dot-Coms shattered. Israel and Palestine are still fighting.
The sounds of Radiohead came through the speakers.
All joints were out. Roaches collected or ingested. Cole had pushed Jason’s shirt up so he could feel the boy’s bare skin beneath his fingertips. The warmth the sun could provide him was so much less than the comfort of the embrace he was in. This was something that he had gotten very used to.
By now, Jason and Cole had been together, off and on, for a little over a year. After the initial hiatus of what seemed like “just another middle school” relationship, Cole and Jason had settled in together. But it was a long journey. Sometimes, while they were broken up, Cole felt that he just went back because they lived in the same city as each other. Sometimes he thought that Jason was the best he could find. This was four months after Jason had gotten out of the hospital. Jason was issued a clean bill of health and his psychiatrist was now giving him a steady supply of valium, which he refused to use as directed. But Jason was his first boyfriend, and the first is always the hardest to get over.
Cole and Jason had met at a youth group when Cole was twelve. Cole was a starry-eyed youngster, taught that stereotypes didn’t exist before he ever met any person who was associated with a stereotype. He had been planning on coming out for a long time before he ever showed up at the group. Having had a computer for most of his life, Cole had found all of the information he could, online, about being gay and coming out. He never thought going to your first gay youth group was something that you had to prepare for.
Jason had been hungry for new blood ever since he had come to the youth group. Sure, it was nice to see gay people older than him. Yeah, they were supposed to be someone he could look up to. And it was great to see an old gay dude holding a group on the side of having a live-in partner. But . . . he wanted someone his age. Already thirteen, Jason was starting to get cabin fever. He looked and looked, but he couldn’t find any other gay kids his age. They were just in high school and that wasn’t any fun, anyway. Those guys were stupid and arrogant. When Cole walked into the room, Jason’s heart stopped. He had told himself no matter how ugly or arrogant—he didn’t care—he just wanted someone.
‘Course, as any gay youth group goes, everyone went around in a circle, sharing their names and age. Cole looked nervous. He was quiet and withdrawn. Jason could tell this was his first time at a gay youth group. He wondered, for a second, if Cole wasn’t gay. But Jason remembered he looked the same way his first time here. They still joked around about it.
This was before Amy entered their circle. She came next year, in the middle of January, during a storm.
Cole was glad he didn’t have to talk much at the group. They were showing a documentary on something gay—he couldn’t remember what it was—maybe on being a drag queen. If it had been anything else, he still wouldn’t have remembered what it was, he was so nervous. At the end of the meeting, Cole stood up to leave and said goodbye to everyone.
Austin, who had been watching Jason watch Cole and Cole glance nervously at Jason, asked if he would be back next week. Cole’s eyes flitted to Jason’s, whose eyes flitted away just as quickly.
“Maybe,” Cole replied, and he left.
Austin started watching them after that exchange. It was obvious that they were interested. But he wasn’t the meddling type, so he just sat back and watched. But that’s his version.
They left Amy, Austin and Seonaid lying on the grass and went to Cole’s room. It was big and dark, filled with imposing and old-looking wooden furniture. His bed was a throwback to days of Gothic architecture. One entire side of Cole’s room was filled with bookshelves that stretched from wall to wall. Its contents were eclectic, Cole knew that. He had several shelves of gay fiction, another of science fiction, biographies of famous philosophers, poets, world leaders, and religion. Cole was fascinated with all of them, but never claiming one of his own . . . or one of theirs for his own. Counter-clockwise from it was a work desk, with his computer, and plenty of working space. Currently filling its surface were books by William Shakespeare. He had left the lamp on last night, so a hard, bright spotlight fell upon the Shakespeare. Filling the wall with the computer were several paintings (some surreal, some abstract, a portrait, a still life) arranged in no particular order, but still giving the already dark and intriguing room a little more intrigue. Counter-clockwise from that, the bed, this had windows above it, facing the back yard; but separated from the group by a screen of wisteria, which grew on the northerly corners of the house. They could hear the giggling of the kids outside; but that soon faded away in between the sheets and the muffled groans, the twining legs and the gentle pushing.
Jason and Cole were spooning. Cole could feel Jason trying to gain access. Usually, Jason would tease Cole a little bit by barely slipping inside, then pulling back. Today, Cole couldn’t take it and pushed back into Jason harder than he usually would have.
Jason stopped pushing, “Are you trying to get me to bareback you?”
“No,” Cole stopped pushing, Jason’s head lodged inside him.
A few moments of silence passed before either one could figure out what to say next. Jason was really turned on by the idea of barebacking Cole. Cole needed to be fucked, he didn’t care how. Besides, Jason was clean; they had already gotten tested together.
“Do you want to?” Cole finally asked.
He could hear Jason’s grin, “Yeah.”
Soon, they were caught in the frenzy.
To the summer, Cole thought. He hoped this would never end.