from “The Wet Months” by Ralph Robert Moore

October 12, 2010

FULL STORY TO APPEAR IN THE GOTHIC (November 2010) ISSUE!

“Promise me you won’t fuck anyone at the party tonight.”

“I can’t promise you.  I’m just getting into this queer lifestyle.  I’ve been turning around on the sidewalk checking out girls all my life, and now here I am making a sincere effort to be gay, walking through Bed, Bath and Beyond, where there’s always plenty of faggots in striped shirts, dropping my eyes to that big weight between their front pants pockets, wondering what their cock and balls look like.  By the way, can you tell what a guy’s cock looks like, just from his face?”

Trey, mincing fresh-brined olives at the kitchen counter, raised his neatly-plucked eyebrows.  “If you can, it’s too subtle for this boy.  Believe me, it’s not as if I haven’t done the research.”

Geoffrey, twice Trey’s age, sat at the kitchen table, long and muscular, legs sprawled, close-cropped black hair, rugged face, aiming his too-blue eyes at Trey.  “It’s really disappointing when they pull down their pants, eager as a puppy, and here’s this unimpressive little limb sticking up.”

“Why are you even doing this?  Who makes an effort to turn gay?”

Geoffrey spread his large hands apart.  “What am I supposed to do?  It was getting to the point where I was fucking fat girls, just to have a different body type.  Fat girls!  Can you believe that?  So I thought, here’s this whole other body structure, boys with big biceps.  Cocks.  Why not try that?  Plus guys are really casual about taking off their clothes with a gay.  There’s no fear of failure.  Even if you don’t get hard, who gives a shit?  It’s another guy!  There’s no shame.  But anyway, I can’t promise you I won’t fuck any of your party guests tonight.  What if I meet a boy at your party with a beautiful ass, eyes like a doe?  I’m not supposed to fuck him?  Isn’t that the whole point to being gay?  You fuck everyone you can?”

“Nobody talks like that.  ‘Eyes like a doe.’  Certainly not queers.”   Trey turned around, black and white Betty Boop apron tied across his white chinos, her round face cheerful with flirtatiously raised black eyebrows, his triangular face twisted into an exasperated look.  “This is serious.  I want this party to be a huge success.  These are my friends.  I want them to get to know you.”   He dipped his hip.  “I want them to feel jealous, okay?  I’m fucking a straight guy, who’s old enough to be my dad.”  He rolled his pretty brown eyes.  “If my dad had a rock hard body, with a cock that weighs twenty pounds.  It’s a gay fantasy.  Help me out.”

“I love it when you act stern.  It’s like watching an ant aggressively raise its little pincers, just before I step on it.”

Trey, hands in pink oven mitts, turned back to the stove, lifting a white china plate of steaming artichoke bottoms out of the bamboo tower on one of the burners.  Slim back to Geoffrey, he spoke in a voice quiet enough to suggest both a personal thought, and one that could be eavesdropped.  “I don’t want ‘us’ to just exist in our bedroom.  I want the whole world to know.”

The older man sighed.  “What’s the point?  You don’t love me.”

Trey dumped the colander of rinsed baby greens in the stainless steel sink.  “How can you say that?  After what I did for you, when you woke me up in the middle of the night last Thursday?”

“If you truly loved me, you’d make me a lasagna sandwich.”

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from “Rabbits” by Matthew Jordan Schmidt

June 8, 2010

FULL STORY TO APPEAR IN THE JULY 2010 ISSUE!

When Nevil came back from the lake that day I waited for him. I waited for three hours, not knowing that he had already disappeared in the darkness somewhere between the water’s edge and the wooden cabin we’d been living in for ten years. The night had been a still one, unbroken by word or rustle, and I’d sat by the window and watched, waited, tried to remember his face as I always did when we were apart, having no idea that this idle game of mine was to become a permanent way of life, this game of imagining him as he had been, as we had been. Even now, were I still able to, I would go to that mirror and search out his face inside of it, or place my hand upon the railing leading up to the bedroom—our bedroom—to feel the vanished warmth of his hand.

But I, too, am gone, and now someone else will feel the fading warmth of Nevil’s hand. Someone else will stare in the mirror and catch a glimpse of his face. What they will see will be confusing, probably nothing more than that blurred haze that memory engenders when it is at its most feverish and fluid. It flickers like a candle and then vanishes. But there are cinders. Always ashes that we crunch through as we come back down the stairs and see where he left his sneakers, in the nook by the door; or when we open an umbrella to step out into the rain and see the stains where his own black umbrella once dripped, pellet by pellet, into the sandy wood that we varnished ourselves in the back shed.

I combed the entire property for five days before calling the police. And then another five after the police had left. I took the dogs and tried to sniff him out. I took a flashlight and shone my beam on the places where we had laughed together. I cried in the bough of the tree where he’d come to tell me his mother had died. I sat on the swing and remembered Carrie’s visit all those years ago. Carrie with the pigtails and the ideals. Carrie with the dreams. I had never wanted Nevil’s children to be a part of our lives. I wish now that I had thought differently.

The water was still after Nevil disappeared. It refused to give me what it had given before. When I put my feet into it, I shivered with discomfort. When I took the boat out, I seemed to get nowhere; the far shore was an ocean away. Even when the leaves twirled down and got snuggled up in my swirling strokes, their crimson spirals offered me no solace. They only bled into the sediments below and lay still.

I have done the same.

I wonder if Nevil ever understood my eyes: the way they carried fog in them like an hourglass does coloured sand. I wonder if he knew about my pills, or the violence I executed in secret. That summer when we found the rabbit strung up in the tree, our eyes met in silence and the last grains tumbled down through the bauble’s glass neck. I blinked and flipped the hourglass over. Nevil did too. We buried the rabbit and stuck a cross made of poplar stems into the earth above its eyeless head. One of the dogs barked and tried to dig up the sad little victim. We ignored her, lit a fire and got drunk.