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Cape Cod, Spring 2008

 

Benjamin Ashton

 

 

 

 

The sight of his naked body shouldn't have jolted me. Yet, as Chuck undressed, studiously and earnestly, as he bundled his clothes in a plastic bag one of the host had provided us, as he merged and melted in the small crowd of naked men walking idly with white towels wrapped around their waists, he morphed into an object of distant lust and mild fascination, very different from the friend I'd known for a year.

During the drive from Boston to the sex party on the Cape, an hour and thirty minutes tamed by a mix of anticipation, awkwardness and self-enforced oblivion, I had used a long moment of silence to recount the number of times Chuck and I had hooked up together. I recalled seven. It was never sex, not really, not penetrative at least. They were tumbling, bumbling, buddying affairs, never planned and rarely discussed, capping off a fun night out or stretching along a wandering Sunday afternoon. They were sweet and bonding happenstances, rather than husky and groaning impulsive quickies. Chucked liked to blow me, enjoyed the reciprocation when getting closer to orgasm; he loved mutual masturbation and always smiled, kissed the tip of my dick and gently punched my shoulder right after we both came. He high-fived me once, panting heavily, after he'd noticed the unusually copious amount of our mingled loads on the golden hair of his stomach.

But the fooling around had stopped, a while ago, at least six months, as organically as it had started. Chuck and I were friends. We were also part of a trio: Charlie, a girl I had quickly befriended when I had moved to Boston in the spring of 2007, had introduced me to her high-school best friend and while Chuck and Charlie talked every day and spent a lot of time together (especially when one or both of them was not in the midst of a budding-then-wilting love affair), the three of us hung out every weekend, night and often day.

Chuck was bisexual, something he never announced nor confessed, but casually stated, matter-of-factly. His sexuality was puzzling at first: he didn't bear the signs, twitches, and fake bravado of most the semi-closeted men I had encountered, clumsily wrapping themselves in the alluring cloak of sexual ambiguity. There was nothing clumsy nor ambiguous in Chuck's sexuality. He liked women, he liked men, he had been and was still dating both. His longest relationship with a woman had lasted five years and had only been sporadically spiced by threesomes with another man. He had once cheated on her, with a guy, something which had offended his own commitment to monogamy and honesty. He had dated a man for a year and half, in college, and was still in touch with him.

As a single, attractive, gregarious man in a city, his sex life was expectedly active and apparently satisfying. He rarely bemoaned and never grandstanded about the fundamental discomfort of many gay men and straight women towards bisexuality. He only joked once that "Lesbians get me best, but they won't sleep with me". Charlie always called him "such a gentleman", for he never bragged about nor recounted at leery lengths his sexual escapades; we would see him take off from a bar or from a party with a man whom he would presumably later blow or fuck, but all we got the next morning was "Interesting guy. He really was." We would hear about his third dates with intelligent, sexy women, but all we got the next morning was "Terrific girl. She knows what she wants in life".

Charlie and Chuck had slept together a few times while in high school. I sometimes think I hooked up with him to level the intricate sexual dynamics of our trio. Charlie had originally mistaken me for bisexual as well and a proper, definite coming out had already eased out some of the early awkward vibes. She had then established me as The Gay Best Friend, something more irritating than endearing. Our solidifying trio, and getting sex with Chuck out of my system, had perfected the mechanics of our triangular friendship. I had even moved in with Charlie a few months ago. We had our roommates' type of one-on-ones, she and Chuck kept on their own intimate, sibling-like relationship, and the weekends were for the gang. We were thirty-year old and still had precious evenings, nights or afternoons behaving like teenagers, but most of our time together was spent as adults, discussing life, food and drinks, books and TV, and a splash of politics.

So when Chuck asked me to tag along to a gay sex party in a private house on the Cape, the moment had been unsettling and unexpected. He had been invited by Casper, this young handsome man who worked in finance and with whom he had been regularly having sex (Chuck had often displayed a rather obsessive fascination for the sexuality of the very rich). Casper and his older partner apparently held a yearly orgy ("Sex party", Chuck corrected me more than once) at their summer house to celebrate to the arrival of warmer days. Chuck's reluctance to go alone was sweet, even if a bit puerile; his request might have been eased by the fact that I was soon to leave Boston and move to DC. Our relationship was bound to change and the brazen re-sexualization of our twosome might have felt like less of a risky gamble. He did not, however, mention it to Charlie (nor did I), so the whole project was not quite as casual or innocuous as he had tried to make it seem.

I had never been to a sex party, not one involving planning, elaborate logistics and formal invitations. I had been to sex clubs and saunas, I had had my share of threesomes and one foursome. The closest I had been to an orgy ("A sex party, Ben, a sex party") was an impromptu fuckfest at a young guy's tiny apartment in the Lower East Side, someone I had followed along with four of his friends at the closing of a seedy gay bar, lured by the promise of excellent weed and decent beer. The night had quickly escalated into a strange, doped-out choreography of whipped-out dicks, flashed asses, and slurpy blow jobs. A couple of the guys had texted some friends to join us and we had ended up nine or ten guys in a pile of moving, sweaty flesh. The last thing I remembered clearly was the realization that I was one of only two tops and that the night was going to be exhausting.

I said yes to Chuck, thinking quickly that this was the only cool thing, the only polite thing to say, the only answer a good friend with no sexual hang-ups would give. There was, indeed, no reason to say no. My slight uneasiness during the drive felt cute almost, not unlike what one felt sometimes when undressing next to classmates in high-school locker rooms, the tortuous questioning of whether it was worse to sport a semi-erection or a shrivelled dick. As Chuck drove, focused on the Friday evening traffic of Bostonians flocking to the coast, I did actually feel recurrent pangs of excitement. The blond hair on his strong arms and the veins on the back of his hands, gripping the steering wheel. His smile when he got lost in his thoughts. And, yes, the thought of a hundred naked men in an expensive house waiting for us, basking in sophisticated lust.

"How many people you think will be there?"

"I don't know, I think Casper mentioned something like fifty. Kinda crazy, huh?"

So the thought of fifty naked men, soon joined by us.

"What's your ratio of attractive guys?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you're in bar, for every ten guys, how many do you find attractive?"

"It depends on the bar."

"Come on."

"And it depends on what time it is."

"How drunk you are?"

"Yep, sure."

"Still," he insisted.

"I don't know, I guess one in every ten, ballpark."

"Okay. What about when you go running? And you run past other guys running."

"Oh, then it's about one in five."

"Ah. Yeah, totally. And in saunas?"

"I can't answer that," I said, thinking out loud. "I don't know, if the moment is right, being in a sauna can be so mind-blowingly arousing that it's not really about who's attractive or not."

"It's the pure and raw animalism of it."

"Yes, the decadence," I laughed.

"What about you?" I ventured after he'd been silent for a little while.

"I've never been to a sauna."

"You should."

"I think my ratio is bit higher than yours. In a bar, I think a lot of guys can be attractive."

"I'm sure they can be. You're such a sensitive, sweet guy. Stop listening to Coldplay," I jibed.

"And you are a stuck-up insensitive hard ass. That's why you don't like U2 and you're strictly a top."

"How do you know I'm strictly a top?"

"One knows. One knows."

I let his smile linger on his round, unshaven, handsome face. I watched him and remembered how Charlie and I had once agreed that his nickname didn't suit him, albeit for different reasons. Charlie envisioned Chucks to be burping, butt-scratching, rugged rednecks. I pictured an uptight, suburban, middle-class salesman from the 1950s. Our Chuck was neither. He was a kind, warm, solid New Englander, raised on a lake in Maine with progressive values by hippie parents. He was stocky and muscular, hairy and square-jawed, but with golden locks framing a quietly jovial smile and childishly bright blue eyes. He was both soft-spoken and gregarious, and, somehow, he was always tan, the copper of his skin highlighting the blondness of the hair on his strong arms and craggy hands. He always wore black or navy blue, with what I learned to recognize as a careful effort to look casual.

Chuck veered off sharply to take the exit belatedly commanded by the GPS.

"We should talk more about sex," I said. "Get in the mood, you know. We're almost there, I think."

"Sure," he chuckled.

"Ok, well, tell me about this Casper guy. You've had sex with him a bunch of times now, right?"

"Yes. Interesting guy. He really is," he said, serious again. And that was that.

 

* * *

 

The sight of his naked body did jolt me. By undressing, he was effectively putting on a costume, raw flesh and crisp white towel, the uniform worn by these men I had glimpsed when entering the house, these horny, ready, available men who had, just like us, shed their civilian clothes and packed them neatly in a bag.

We had arrived late. The house was big, fairly secluded, a faux rustic and bloated impersonation of a New England cottage. The front door opened to a large foyer, with some sort of small laundry and storage room to the left. Casper's partner (a "silver fox", Chuck had previously quipped) welcomed us with elegant and subdued warmth. He was rather business-like too in his dealing with the logistics, detailing robotically the path and tasks to follow: undress, put your clothes in bag, use one of the pencils provided to write your name on a sticker on the bag, grab a towel, mingle, have a good time. Beer, wine and punch are on the deck ("It's a gorgeous, even if unseasonably warm night"). Enter and join in any room you want, except those whose doors are closed. Private one-on-ones are frowned upon ("This is not why any of you came here for, right?"). No smoking inside. No drugs anywhere ("But poppers is fine, of course"). Lube and condoms are provided. He asked if we had booked a room at the B&B he had recommended in his email (we hadn't, the idea of breakfasting alongside people we had anonymously fucked the night before had seemed odd. "We'll drive home or sleep it off in the car", Chuck had adjudicated).

Judging by the amount of towels left on the pile and of bags filled with clothes on the floor and shelves, we had indeed arrived among the latest. "Yes, I really don't know the etiquette of these things", Chuck said when I pointed it out. The sight of these dozens of bags was a little intoxicating. You could make out, through the plastic, pink polo shirts, black socks, plaid shirts, striped boxers, black y-fronts, white jock-straps, light cashmere sweaters, jeans and khakis, collegiate sweat-shirts (a crimson, incomplete "RVARD" was bulging on top of a bag), sneakers and loafers, belts and watches. Even more striking was the swirl of names written on small sheets of paper glued to the bags. As I was pulling my underwear down and giving air to my lightly hardening cock, I felt a brief dizziness at the scatter of first names, shining like stars on a summer night. Jack. William. Barry. Eli. Michael. Frank. Brian. Bryan. Mike. Michael B. Jim. Henry. Shawn... All dancing in different handwritings, revealing excitement or caution, boldness or sternness. One person had put quotes between his name: "Adam". Did that mean he was here under a false identity? Another had crossed Lance and had replaced it with Matthew. What's the story there?

Dave. Oliver. Sam. Matt. Marty. Paul. Justin. John. Eduardo. Sean... Here were the relics of men now transformed into bodies parading in a mating dance around Ethan Allen furniture and a bowl of punch, or stealthily meandering the bedrooms and hallways of a house pantomiming a sexual playground. These names were dicks, tongues, chests, thighs, arms, asses, calves and hands, some of which will be on mine, on me, at some point this evening (whose? Shawn's? Oliver's? Justin's? "Adam"'s?). Some of which will be on Chuck too, I thought (Frank's? Brian's? Eduardo's?), and I felt a sudden urge to hug him, to punch him jokingly, to fist bomb him, to exchange a brief, intense and exclusive smile with him. I also got a little harder.

The foyer opened to a very large living room, with three humongous sofas arranged around a fireplace on the right, framed by two doors, one leading to what looked like a study, the other to an emptied, indistinct space. On the left, a big staircase led to the upper floor. Large French windows gave access to a spacious deck, overlooking a garden secluded by pine trees. Most of the crowd seemed to be between 30 and fifty years old, but some exceptions stood out, some younger, some older. Men clustered in small groups of three or four were spread across the room, talking, smiling, rubbing each other's shoulders and backs, groping lightly an ass or grazing a nipple. I thought I recognized Casper, sitting on the arm of one of the sofa. He had his arm wrapped around the shoulders of a young, beefy guy with a huge tattoo all over his left arm, a military haircut and the dumb smile of a person enjoying the attention he was receiving from two older, richer men: Casper's silver fox partner was seated on the floor, between the young guy's widely spread legs, his hand fondling or his mouth slowly sucking his cock, while Casper was whispering seductively into the young guy's ear.

Casper noticed Chuck and flashed him a smile, then a wink, before resuming sweet-talking to Military Guy who seemed fairly oblivious to the blow job he was receiving. Chuck resumed his slow walk and headed outdoors. "I need a drink," he said.

The deck was empty, save for four men on the far left side. Two of them were sitting tight next to each other on a bench; the other two on their knees, blowing them. Chuck and I moved to the far right side, where the made-up bar has been set up. "I need a drink", he said again. We gulped down two small glasses of punch and, with a simple glance at each other and at the tin tub filled with ice and Rolling Rocks, both decided tacitly that we'll stick to beer from then on.

I couldn't tell whether he was nervous, dithering or suddenly ambivalent about our very presence in that house. It certainly felt like we were the last two people not already engaged, intellectually if not physically, in the thick sexual atmosphere of the place. I realized my own apprehension stemmed from the lack of prediscussed and prearranged rules and modus operandi, from the uncertainty of our purposes, from the unstructured nature of our interactions. I tightened my loosening towel, to give myself something to do, and decided that my curiosity towards Chuck's sexual proclivities somewhat superseded my attraction to him.

"I'm going to get back inside", I told him sweetly, but decisively.

"Okay. Yes. I'll scout the place too."

"Shall we meet back here later? When we're done?"

"Done with the first round?" he smiled.

"Yeah, exactly."

"Sounds good."

"How many rounds are we in for, you think?" I asked, as I was stepping away.

"Not sure. What do you think?"

"I don't know. Three?" I ventured.

"Three, like the three wishes granted by the genie. I like that."

"Three it is," I winked, walking away.

 

I entered the living room to find a group of five guys, including Casper, masturbating in a circle around the military guy fucking in earnest the silver fox on the middle coach. The view was not entirely obstructed if you sat on one the side sofas, where I joined two men, sitting idly and occasionally whispering to each other's ear. The older one was in his late thirties, with a nicely ruffled mop of brown hair, a three-day stubble, a large crooked nose and squinting droopy blue eyes. His legs were spread wide, his left one saddling the younger guy's, who, with the look of a mischievous, blond surfer dude, displayed a playful eagerness contrasting with the sleek nonchalance of what seemed to be his partner. They both welcomed me with a sly smile and a swift scoop to make room for me. I sat next to the young guy and put my right leg on top of his, and he instantly flashed his bright white teeth, delighted with the weight of two different, hefty and hairy legs framing his tanned body (he did have, I noticed, the tan lines of a lifeguard's tank top). "I'm Jude", he whispered "and this is my boyfriend Sam", he nodded towards the older guy, who gave me a cunning wink.

Jude softly loosened my towel and plunged his hands on the two dicks surrounding him. I saw Chuck entering the room and registering both the grunts of the military guy and his audience, and my budding threesome on the adjacent sofa. He veered off towards the stairs, and slowed down, watching a man rimming the asses of three guys, all legs in the air, lying side by side on the large dining room table. I felt Jude's hand releasing his grip on my cock, moving his agile body, and kneeling on the floor in front of Sam and me. We got really close to each other, Sam wrapping his arm around me to pull me even tighter. Jude began to blow me, slowly, hungrily, while Sam watched and kissed me in the neck. Jude's rhythm increased before pulling his mouth out and starting again on his boyfriend. I raised myself a bit, to put a hand on the top of Jude's head, ruffling his sandy hair and encouraging his bobbing movements. I felt Sam's hand on my cock, squeezing its hardness tightly, before spitting on his fingers to soften his jerking.

When I looked up, I glanced at Chuck, who was now chatting with a short, thin guy in his late twenties, briefly interrupting themselves to rub their fingers on the gaping hole of one of the guys being rimmed on the table. I thought he saw me looking, but didn't give any sign of it.

Jude was back on my cock, fervently, and Sam and I started to hungrily make out. Sam stopped for air and grabbed my face with his two hands and whispered huskily, staring at me, "He never fucks me and I need your dick in my ass. Let's find somewhere." He stood up, abruptly interrupting Jude's energetic blowjob, and helped his boyfriend stand up by taking his hand, before leading him towards the study, making sure I was following them. I took my towel along and, as I walked past the group, I noticed Casper had replaced military guy inside sliver fox's ass and that the gawking circle jerk around them had grown larger. I caught a last glimpse of Chuck who was now standing right behind, and grabbing the shoulders of the thin young guy, who was busy rimming one of the men on the table. Chuck seemed to be slowly rubbing his hard dick on the guy's neck and ear, his ass cheeks clenched and his back glimmering with sweat.

The study was only occupied by three guys, oddly fucking in a sandwich. They lay on an air mattress pushed in the corner, on top of each other, an undulating pile of flesh. They didn't mind our intrusion, they barely glanced at us. Sam went straight to the other air mattress, on the floor next to a small leather sofa. He pointed at the lube and condom on the desk and lay on his back. Before I could reach them, Jude has seized them both. He started to apply lube on his boyfriend's ass then motioned me down so he could, with expert, swift movements, slip a condom on my hard dick. He then jumped, child-like, on the sofa and sat cross-legged, grabbing his growing erection and immediately stroked with anticipation. "Put that fucking boner inside him," he grinned.

I lifted Sam's heavy legs and directed my cock on his hole. I then felt Jude's bare foot on my shoulder, lightly pushing me forward. Sam closed his eyes and cringed a bit, then let out a deep breath, his hole suddenly loosening and swallowing half of my dick. I fucked him slowly, to ease my way in, feeling Jude's foot now rubbing my shoulder blade, my neck, the back of my head. I grabbed Sam's ankles, lifting his legs all the way up and pounded harder. He kept muttering "Fuck... Fuck", while Jude was grinning "Yeah... Yeah..." I sensed the presence of two guys behind me, looked back briefly and saw them jerking off, alternating between the two shows on displays on both mattresses in the room. Jude himself was furiously masturbating with one hand, fingering himself with the other, his foot now rhythmically battering my back, along my thrusting inside his boyfriend's ass. He must have exchanged some coded, mute signal with the guys behind me, as one of them picked and unwrapped a condom and made his way toward the sofa. Jude lay on his stomach, his face turned towards me, his ass raised and squirming. The guy, one of the oldest I'd seen at the party, silently inserted himself in Jude and started fucking him in studious silence. Sam, however was getting louder, as were the three guys on the pile a few feet away from us. Jude wriggled and crouched down so that his face inched toward Sam's cock, which I grasped and jerked to orgasm, drenching Jude's face. I pulled out quickly, snapped the condom off and added my own cum on Jude's dripping, smiling face. The guy fucking didn't stop, earnestly focused on his own exertion. I saw Jude wince a bit as I wobbly tried to stand up, panting and light-headed. "Keep going," Jude said, raising himself on all fours as he started jacking himself off. He came quickly, soiling the dark leather, and groaned, along with his spasms, "Get out now. Now." The guy pulled out, looking depleted and confused, his hard dick standing awkwardly, like a lost, alert dog, the tip of the condom looking sadly empty. He moved and joined the other group, adding himself to the pile by entering the man on top.

Sam had his eyes closed and was breathing heavily; Jude gave me a sexy wink as he wiped his dripping face with the back of his hand, before bringing it to Sam's mouth, who licked it distractedly. I smiled at them, grabbed my towel and wrapped it back around my waist before heading out. On my way to the deck, I couldn't help but stop at the rather astonishing sight of military guy being back inside silver fox's ass, surrounded by six or seven men (Casper was, oddly, nowhere in sight). Unexpectedly (that is, differently from I usually witness in porn), the men were cumming one by one not on silver fox, laying in a position that seemed otherwise welcoming of a bukkake, but on military guy, receiving load after load while fucking away groaningly. His bulky chest and his cropped hair were already drenched (there must have been other guys who were now resting somewhere, post-climax), but he seemed oblivious to the almost continuing stream of semen splashing him, some of it blurring the drawing of his large tattoo. I strangely felt like an intruder and stepped out on the deck.

A small dozen of people were now congregating there, in small chatting and drinking clusters. I spotted Chuck, alone in a corner, and walked towards him after grabbing a beer. He seemed relieved to see me and instantly asked "Did you bring any cigarettes with you?" I had, to his obvious relief, and told him I'd get a couple from my stuff.

The storage room was now full, a few additional plastic bags had been stacked on top of ours. I took the time to locate the one that had "Sam/JUDE" printed on its tag. I could make out two grey Calvins and a black, worn Lollapallooza t-shirt.

Chuck and I used a candle to light our cigarettes and retreated down the few steps leading to the garden, to keep the smoke away from the groups. We sat on the grass, looked up at the dark blue and orange sky, and stayed silent for a while.

"You had fun?" he finally asked.

"I did. Two guys. Boyfriends."

"You fucked them both?" he said, as I silently appreciated his abruptness and crudeness. We were now indeed two buddies at a sex party.

"Nope, just the one. Hot, though."

"What was their story?"

"Ha. I don't know. Ageing roadie and young lifeguard. But that's just my best guess. You?"

"Yeah. Nice start. Weird, though: I ran into this guy I knew."

"The young thin guy?"

"Yes. He was a coworker of an ex-girlfriend. Tamara?"

"Not sure I remember her."

"Well, anyway, I had seen him a couple of times of office parties. He freaked a bit when he saw me."

"You fucked him?" I asked, wishing Chuck to stay in a sharing, explicit mood.

"He fucked me," he said casually, and I wasn't sure I had ever heard him mentioning being fucked. "It was okay," he resumed. "The guy was just a bit too excited to fuck a straight guy. His words, not mine."

"A bit too excited how?"

"I don't know, like, he kept saying I can't believe you're here. Or Wow, I can't believe this, while we were fucking. And things along these lines when we were done. I told him, nicely, to get over it, that I'm bi and that, by definition, I have sex with guys and it's not a huge, mind-blowing deal. But he kept coming back to it or asking questions. Dumb or inappropriate. I had to run away," he chuckled.

"Did you get pissed off?"

"No, of course not. I'm used to this. I've had to deal with that since forever, you know. It's just, like, I wished in a place like this and for a quick, fairly anonymous fuck, I didn't have to get all Margaret Mead on him."

"Ha. Did you?"

"No," he said softly, thinking. "I do not get pissed off but I'm also not here to educate the world. That's something I realized one day or decided- and I've tried to stick to that. I didn't think I'd had the patience for it, for explaining how it works. I was pretty sure I didn't have the words for it either. But then, I know I can't have it both ways: getting pissed off at people's ignorance or sexual idiocy and not bother to do anything about it. Plus, you know, I can't speak for every bi dude on this fucking planet. Because that's the thing: there are too many ways to be bisexual for us all to be a big, bonding family. It just doesn't work like that."

"Each of you is special", I smiled.

"Fuck you, but yeah," he chuckled, taking a large gulp of his beer. "So I decided the best I can do is just being honest and, you know, never lie. Or almost never. And it's not a self-righteous thing, either. It's just practical. Pragmatic. It's easier than constantly think about where you fit in the grand scheme of things, in the big sexual structuring of society."

"But the people you date must ask you questions?"

"Sure, and that's fine. We all do, don't we, when we meet someone. But you can tell from the kind of questions, from the tone, whether that person is going to be worthy answering them."

"Worthy? That's kind of awful," I said, stumping my cigarette on the grass, not knowing what to do with the butt.

"Oh please. We all have our deal breakers. If a person never reads a book, or votes Republican, or eats ketchup with fish. Or, you know, seems to display a weird fascination for the money you make, for your physical appearance, for the big shots your parents seem to hang out with."

"I don't think that's the same."

"It is, in a way. It's a window into the kind of insecurities you'd have to deal with, into the openness of the mind you'd have to engage with. Into the way the person sees the world, people, sex."

"And you're always honest with the people you date?"

"Yes. I try. I mean, I'm probably not going to volunteer to the next woman I'm dating that I've been to a gay orgy with you "

"- a gay sex party."

"Right," he chuckled. "But if she asks me some day, somewhat playfully or teasingly, whether I've ever done something like that, I'll tell her."

"And you'll judge on her reaction."

"As she judges me on mine. But it's not all about how women react, you know. That's a very male reaction to quiz me about the women," he joked, just before realizing his smoked-out cigarette was burning his fingers.

"Man, I'm failing the test of open-mindedness," I said.

"No, Ben, you're just being a random male. And it doesn't become you."

"So, the guys?"

"You can get the same insecurities from both genders, of course. Like I'm this sort of sex maniac who'll fuck anything that breathes. You can sense them being tense whenever we're in a public place and some attractive person checks me out. But with some men, you get the sense of being a sort of trophy. Like I'm the next best thing they get, below fucking a straight guy. You also get, and that usually comes from the same guys, the certainty that I'm a closeted guy and the sense that their mission is to finalize the conversion. Like he's the one who's going to clinch to deal, whose awesomeness is so overwhelming that I'll quit women forever and finally come out as a proud gay man. With women, I rarely feel like I'm a trophy or a project."

A silence lingered, before he turned towards me and smiled warmly. He finished his beer, as I finished mine. He went to fetch two more, which we drank fairly fast. We both looked straight ahead, in silence, towards the dark trees, and I noticed the sun had now completely set. He turned slightly towards me. "You're not failing any test, Ben. I've always been comfortable with you. And with you and Charlie. There's something organic about our relationship that feels lovely and easy."

"Yet we never talk about this. Like this."

"That's because we're both random males, sometimes. At least, you've never asked me which Sex and the City character I feel closest to."

"There's an underlying homophobia in that remark, my friend."

"You're probably right. And this is a fairly incongruous setting to be homophobic."

"You'd be surprised."

 

* * *

 

When we got back into the house, the living room looked emptied, except for a trio of guys being blown by another on his knees. The attraction earlier provided by military guy and silver fox had ended and the side show must have moved somewhere else. I caught some movements up and down the stairs, slow perambulations which I noticed Chuck veered off to join. I turned left to inspect the action that seemed to take place in the room next to the study, a space whose regular use I still couldn't quite figure out. I was quickly mesmerized by the sight on display as I reached the open door, however. The room was bare, save for five unmatching ottomans bunched up next to each other in the middle of the room. They must have been gleaned from around the house (I recognized one upholstered with the leather of the sofa in the study) for the purpose it now served: five guys were being fucked, bent over each ottoman. It struck me that all five guys had adopted the same position, none of them had opted instead for lying on his back. I marvelled at the organic obedience for rules that seemed to congeal out of nowhere, yet who still organized and ordered the sexual abandon of sex partygoers. All men had earlier ejaculated on muscular guy, not on silver fox: had they been told or had they followed the lead of a more creative wanker? Men in this group, watching the five twosomes, seemed to form lines, one to replace a tired or altruistic top, one (clearly more populated) to swap place with a worn-out or versatile bottom. Nothing was said nor written, yet everything was self-evident for any newcomer in the room.

The five bottoms displayed an interesting and faceless cross-section of the male physique. The tall and skinny, with endless, wiry legs and huge feet; the stocky, with some hair on his back and muscular calves; the tanned and athletic, with a pasty white, round ass (I recognized Jude's); the older and greyer, yet well-kept and well-moisturized; the dadbod, with huge, veiny hands. The five tops fucking these bodies seemed to have been thrown at them haphazardly, with no regard for coordination and harmonizing. A very short guy was gruntingly thrusting himself inside the gangly giant, an elegant hipster was screwing the guy who looked like a suburban accountant.

The tops displayed creativity and restlessness that the bottoms seemed to have been dissuaded from. A guy was squatting, another fucked with both hands at the back of his head (that was Sam, I saw), another was pounding rodeo style. The bottoms just lay there, groaning. I had always been perplexed (and often aroused) by many men's inclination, when getting fucked, to subjugate to a voluntary, debasing, and exhilarating form of objectification. Clearly, in this room, they were holes, gaping then filled, loosened and widened. They were pounds of flesh to be used and I was getting very hard.

Sam saw me and winked. He then pulled out and gestured to take his place. I picked one of the condoms, slid it on and stepped towards the older guy, who barely moved, save for a glimpse backward to see who would be entering him next. I noticed he looked at my cock before my face. I spread his cheeks and got inside him expectedly easily. Sam patted me on the shoulder before stepping back and watching the action.

The room was so hot and airless, my movement so swift and brutal, I quickly felt sweat drenching my chest and my back. The hipster next to me smiled, dazedly, then opened his eyes very wide, gasped alarmingly and shouted he was going to cum. His announcement was met by a series of Yeahs from the small crowd and other tops. He pulled out quickly, discarded his condom, and started to jerk himself off frantically and theatrically. A couple of guys who had been watchers pulled closer. The hipster dribbled cum on his bottom's lower back and ass, while the watchers both ejaculated simultaneously on his shoulder blades. The hipster fell on his knees and crawled away. Someone quickly replaced him inside the bottom. It was Chuck.

I hadn't seen him come in the room, I had no idea how long he had actually been there. He smiled at me and, as he began fucking earnestly, his face contorted to tell me how good it felt. I felt dizzy, briefly; a little drunk, certainly, horny, obviously, but also overpowered by Chuck's presence, by the sight of his body, of his clenched ass, of his tight chest, of his sweaty and muscular exertions. Our eyes locked and we fucked in sync, matching the other's rhythm and force. He breathed hard, he smiled, he cringed, he groaned, all the while staring at me.

His bottom wiggled and signalled he needed a break. Chuck pulled out, a little disoriented. The bottom was quickly replaced by another: Sam, who, minutes after performing as a rather showy and vocal top, assumed his position of listless bottom. "That's the guy I fucked earlier", I mouthed to Chuck, who seemed delighted. "Awesome," he mouthed back. He entered him slowly, then resumed his pillaging pace. He grabbed my hand, squeezed it and held it, stared at me, and fucked and fucked and fucked.

I felt breathless and ecstatic. I looked at Chuck's cock sliding in and out Sam's, thought back to my own dick earlier sheathed in the same warm, moist hole. For a moment, I became him, he became me; for a moment, I was convinced he felt the same. He saw in my eyes I was going to cum, he blurted "No, please, more", I tried to refrain myself, to slow down, to look elsewhere, to focus on the dried cum stuck to the hairy back of the older guy I was fucking. But I knew I was too close, I felt like I was imploding inside and pulled out quickly. I took out the condom and before I could grab my cock, Chuck had seized it and was milking it. I came all over his hand, his arm, the floor, with just a couple of drops on my bottom's ass. The watching crowd had mostly missed my unheralded orgasm, but it cheered when Chuck licked some of his fingers and wiped the rest over Sam's ass cheeks.

I felt blundered by the violence of my ejaculation and my dick felt sore. I retreated discreetly and left Chuck and Sam and the tops and the bottoms and the watchers to their own moments, to their own orgasms, their own implosions.

 

* * *

 

I had already finished a beer when Chuck joined me on the deck. He looked dazed, and was sweating profusely. There was a pile of clean towels next to the drinks table and I grabbed a couple so we could wrap our shoulders and chests in something a little warm. The balmy air was comforting though; it was a splendid late spring night.

Chuck and I grabbed two more Rolling Rocks and both downed them quickly. We instantly reached for a second one, his went down almost as fast. We were parched and the speed of our gulping down alcohol to rehydrate ourselves made us laugh.

"That was...", he started, "well, that was something else."

"Yeah, something else," I agreed, though I didn't know whether he meant the general, exhilarating depravity of the scene or, closer to how I felt, the beguiling impact of watching my friend in such complete, and shared, sexual abandon.

His face signalled an impending, coy request, which I prevented by volunteering, "Yes, I'll fetch us some cigarettes". I brought back the pack this time, guessing it would take us both more time to recover from our second orgasm than from the first, all the while wondering, if our first two wishes had been granted, what I could possibly want from the third, upcoming final round. Chuck was waiting for me on the bottom steps of the deck, sitting pensively. He was still panting a bit when I got there, when I lit his cigarette with the tealight candle I had borrowed from the drinks table. His face glowed, sweaty and blissful, in the faint light of the flame.

"So, you're a versatile guy," I said, with a long exhalation of my first drag.

"Yup. Always have been."

"Why didn't we ever fuck, when we hooked up before?"

"I'm not sure, actually. Not the right moment, I guess."

"It was always more playful than sexy."

"Yeah, it was. Fun, though. A lot of fun. Very nice," he smiled mischievously, before resuming: "Plus, we were friends. Fucking seemed a little too, I don't know, intense or something. It just wouldn't have felt right."

"During or after?"

"After! I'm sure it'd have felt right during, but-" he said, then stopped.

"How often do you have real sex then?" I ventured, steering us clear from our common history, past and present.

"Real sex? What is that supposed to mean?" he laughed.

"Buttfucking," I laughed.

"Ah, buttfucking. I don't know, I guess I usually do when I hook up with a guy. A guy who is not a friend."

"Of course. And you've always been versatile?"

"Yeah, since the very first dude I hooked up with."

"When was that?"

"I was 16, I guess," he said, thinking. "Yes, 16. I mean, I had jerked off with guys before, but this guy was the first one I actually had sex with."

"And women?"

"I lost my virginity at 13."

"Wow."

"Yeah, I know. I've always been a very sexual person," he stated, casually and factually.

"Who was she?"

"She was a friend of my older sister."

"How much older?"

"She was 17. I felt like a fucking champion."

"How did that happen?"

"It was summer and she was staying at our place for a couple of weeks. Her name was Clarissa. My sister always slept in very late, so Clarissa would come to my room early in the morning and we'd talk and hang out in my bed. One morning, she came in without knocking and I had a raging morning wood. Like, a serious boner. It was hot, so I was sleeping above the sheets. I was mortified."

"But she wasn't."

"Ha, no, not really. She giggled a bit, told me it was okay, every boy had them. Which I knew. I wasn't traumatized by having a boner, I was petrified that she caught me. Anyway, we chatted a bit, but the mood was definitely weird. She asked me if I had ever been with a girl. I told her no and I didn't tell her I had been jacking off with boys like crazy for a while nor that I owned a large collection of porn pictures."

"Your policy of truth came later in life, I gather."

"Ha, fuck you. Anyway, she started touching me and told me she could show me a few things so that I'd be ready when the right girl comes along. Which was both really sweet and, well, very, very wrong," he smirked.

"What did she do?"

"She gave me a hand job, then a blow job. Then I got on top of her and started to dry hump her. Then I got inside her and we started to fuck."

"And she didn't stop you."

"No. The funny thing is, I really think, looking back, that she thought it would last like 15 seconds, because I was a horny boy and I was a virgin. But I had already used so many kind of jacking off contraptions that I knew how to control myself and last. So I did last, I lasted a very long time inside her, enough for her to start freaking out at some point and urge me to cum and be done with it."

"Did things get awkward between you guys?"

"No, not at all. She actually came back a few times in the morning and we fucked every time she did."

"Nice."

"She was really sweet. She said I was a great lover."

"Adorable," I sneered.

"It was," he protested, punching me in the shoulder. "Dear, dear Clarissa, where are you now?"

"You never saw her again?"

"I haven't heard of or from her in a long while, no. She lives in Canada or something."

He stood up and shook his empty beer bottle, indicating he was getting us some more. I watched him walk up, hovering around the drinks table, looking for the bottle opener, twisting the caps off two beers when he couldn't locate it, gaze at the crowd while taking a sip. I imagined what young Chuck would have looked like, running around the house, playing in the lake, sporting a boner in the early morning, fucking a delighted and impressed seventeen-year old girl, building "jacking off contraptions", using them, controlling his ejaculations.

"When did you know you were bi?" I asked when he sat back down.

"Man, I need another cigarette if we're going to go through my sex life", he joked, yet apparently not minding to share. I handed him one and took another for me, our faces both leaned toward the candle I was holding, our foreheads touching.

"I've always known I wasn't straight. I think I knew I was bi the day I concluded I wasn't gay either."

"How did you conclude that?"

"I had had sex a few times with my cousin Jeb and "

"Man, you are a like a sexual hillbilly," I laughed.

"Shut up. He wasn't my real cousin, not like a blood relation. Something like thirty times removed and by remarriage."

"Right."

"Seriously, our families were really close and that's how we called and considered ourselves: aunts, uncles, cousins."

"You grew up with him."

"Not really, I'd seen him often, but we really started to hang out all the time when they moved to Maine from Oregon. We were both like 16, I think."

"He was the first guy you had sex with?"

"No. The third. We started fooling around when we were 17. And he was way more experienced than I was, which says a lot. Both with girls and with dudes. Man, he was a real horndog. Tons of fun, too. Wicked and charming. Most importantly, he was completely without inhibitions when we were together. He always wanted to talk about sex, which at some point lead to us jerking off together. I thought I had the largest porn collection in all Southern Maine, but, hey, Jeb beat me hands down. All sorts of filth. Hours of good time. Early on too, he told me very casually that he loved sticking stuff up his butt and that I should try it. Then, at some point, our masturbation became mutual, then blow jobs, then-"

"-Yaddi yaddi yadda."

"Exactly. But there was never any awkwardness on his part. He had absolutely no shame or embarrassment asking me to fuck him, showing me gay or straight porn and discussing the guys' dicks. He had a girlfriend, many girlfriends actually and, apart from me, led a mostly straight sex life. Except that he'd often ask his girlfriends to stick something up his ass and fucked around with me whenever we had the chance. But his casualness about it all was kind of mind-blowing to me. Gay stuff was still a bit uneasy for me, and the guys I had hooked up with would have been caught dead before declaring themselves as gay."

"But you slept with both girls and dudes too, right?"

"Yes, but there was always a part of me that thought I must be gay. I really liked both, but, I don't know, there is some kind of social pressure that convinces you that if you like dick, you're a homo, no matter what. And Jeb was the first person I met who defied all that."

"He was the first real bi guy you met."

"I don't even think he's bi. That's the thing: what is bisexual? If you sleep with one woman for every ninety-nine men, are you bi or are you gay? And vice-versa. What about five, ten, twenty? Where is the threshold? If you sleep everyday with same guy, but fucks one different woman every week, are you gay, straight, bi?"

"Bi, I'd say."

"Perhaps. What I mean is, I'd say Jeb is straight, but he likes sex in many different ways. I'm much gayer than Jeb. Or Jeb is bi, but then not bi the way I am. He'd never date a guy, for instance."

"So, you were saying, when did you conclude you weren't gay?" I asked, trying to follow his train of thought.

"OK, well, I was really confused, then one day, Jeb suggested we have threesome together with this girl he knew and who was up for it. We did and I thought my head would explode."

"Because it was that good?"

"Yes, man, it was fucking amazing. And for the first time, I stopped torturing myself in overthinking whether I liked sex better with girls or with guys. In that one evening, I did everything in every combination, and it was like a revelation. I know it sounds lame but-"

"It doesn't-"

"It does a bit, but I was young and, I don't know, being with two people who didn't care about my sexual proclivities, rather, who were actively engaging me to indulge in all of them, just felt revelatory."

"Liberating."

"Yes, at least inside, for me, for figuring out who I was. I knew it wouldn't change or solve the way other people, the rest of the people, would perceive me or label me, but I felt I could try not to care."

There was something pleading in his voice, I noticed with surprise and mild discomfort. Was he trying to convince me of something that he had belaboured to articulate for others before, for himself? He was also shivering. The two towels we had to protect ourselves from the settling chill of the night weren't sufficient at that point. I realized I wasn't eager to return to the party, to break the tentative spell of intimacy that was gently electrifying the space between our two close, goose-bumped bodies.

"You're freezing", I stated. "They've set up a couple of heating lamps on the patio, we should go up."

"Yeah, you're right", he said with a smiling reluctance.

Three steps later and higher, we were under the reddish, aggressive light of a gas lamp. The deck was still fairly empty and we tacitly decided to warm ourselves up a bit.

"Do you still see Jeb?"

"Yes, whenever we get a chance. Which is not often, but still. He has a wife, two kids. And an open marriage."

"The modern straight man."

"In a way," he chuckled. "In his own way."

"You still hook up?"

"When I'm single. He respects my old-fashioned penchant for monogamy."

"And when you're not..."

"I have to fuck him in the ass. Hard," he laughed.

He noticed my glance towards the drinks table and my empty bottle. He may have also noticed my irresolution: I was thirsty, I wanted to keep drinking with him, but another beer might send a signal that I was done with orgiastic activities, a decision I was not ready to make on my own. "You want to share one?" he suggested. I agreed.

Three men were clustered by the drinks table; they made way for Chuck to help himself and started chatting him up. One of them made a joke and placed his hand on Chuck's shoulder, another grazed the small of his back. It was an interesting sight. The guys met neatly three gay stereotypes: the fake-tanned Gym Queen, the fey Fashionista, the rough Bear. And then there was Chuck. Looking straight by the mere fact of not looking like any of them, acting gay by the mere fact of his jovial grace in their predatory company. If I'd had two more beers, I could have written a psycho-sociological treatise; if I'd had three, I could have gotten jealous.

Chuck walked back towards me, taking a long sip of our beer before handing it to me, half-full.

"Okay," he said, "that was weird. One of these guys, the one with all the muscles, don't look, he was one of the guys on the ottomans back there. It took me a few seconds to realize that he fucked me, like, thirty minutes ago, after you left the room." There was a childish glee in his basking in the absurd, norm-shattering logic of sex party.

"Well, at least, now you could properly introduce yourself."

"Ha. Still. It's weird. Hot, but weird. That's why we're not staying at the B&B with all these guys. I couldn't handle this sober. It'd be like a porn version of Memento, every scene edited backward." He coughed a laugh and let out an amused "I could kiss you right now."

I was more surprised than embarrassed at his outburst of affection; he seemed both, equally. "Let's go," I said, finishing the beer in one gulp. "We got one more wish left".

"What shall we do?" he asked and the use of the pronoun bolstered my excitement for our upcoming last round.

"I think I want to fuck Casper," I said decisively, although that thought had actually just materialized and my cock was still a bit sore.

"I had the same idea," he replied, which seemed odd, since fucking Casper was something easy and recurrent enough for him not to spend his last moments on, at a party full of horny strangers. Perhaps Casper was Chuck's sexual comfort food.

 

The living room was crowded again and we faced a landscape rendered somehow familiar by porn. A dozen of people were fucking, with the occasional threesomes. We scanned the room and didn't see Casper. Chuck led us up the stairs, where we had to step over a couple of people getting blowjobs. The hallway was empty, but you could hear and glimpse activities going on in the bedrooms and in the bathroom (two guys were lovingly taking a shower together). All had their door open, except for one, from which muffled screams of pain were coming out. We arrived at the master bedroom, which was huge and decorated in modern, expensive minimalism. Casper was lying in the middle of the very large bed, with a young man slowly and tenderly fucking him. The room was somewhat quiet, yet crowded with guys watching the scene, slowly stroking. Two were seated on twins Barcelona chairs, kissing noiselessly; everyone else was on the floor, including silver fox, everybody looking up towards the two slowly undulating figures on the bed. I spotted Jude, crawled in a foetal position in a corner of the room, passed out.

Chuck sat down, his back against the floor, in another, emptier corner and motioned me to sit between his legs. I did, and I felt the warmth of his torso on my back. I grabbed one of his ankles and caressed one of his calves.

We both watched silently and I took my first good look at Casper. He was very tall, with broad, muscular shoulders. He was handsome, with healthy good looks, a square jaw, dark wavy hair and striking blue eyes. But being embedded in a group of naked, slowly breathing men, all watching him intently in horny adulation, I now saw him looking spectacular. His movements were slow and graceful, shifting his long and strapping limbs like a slow motion dancer. His legs, his arms, his chest, his waist all looked astonishing.

I saw the man fucking him whispering to his ear, purposely loud enough, however, for us all to hear it: "I'm going to cum inside you". For the next few seconds, I watched Casper's hands gripping tightly the white crisp sheet and his face tensing up. Then both men were immobile for what seemed like a long time, panting softly, with Casper relishing the kisses placed all around his neck. The man slowly pulled himself away, his softening dick dangling, the tip of his condom filled with cum.

Another guy slowly stood up (I recognized the hipster from the ottomans' room) and approached the bed, after a quick glance towards silver fox, as if asking permission. Casper didn't move. He didn't even open his eyes, when the hipster shuffled him around, put on a condom, grabbed his legs and lifted them up. He did eventually look at him, when the hipster started to enter him, but his eyes didn't register anything. I wondered how many men tonight had already been inside him.

I felt Chuck hands gently rubbing my chest, my belly, my waist. He rested his chin on my shoulder.

The room changed mood. The hipster was more vocal, more energetic than the previous occupant of Casper's hole, and it seemed to induce the other guys to verbalize their encouragements (Fuck him or Yeah, shove it in) and their opinions (Man, that's so hot and This is fucking beautiful). I whispered to Chuck "Tell me about him. Tell me about Casper."

The hipster raised Casper and turned him around, on all fours. Casper was staring vacantly in our direction, past and slightly above our heads.

"Casper was a quarterback in high school," Chuck whispered to my ear, "athletic and popular. The first gay sex he had was with an older kid from the neighborhood, his senior year."

The hipster had increased the pace of his thrashing and was muttering obscenities, directed at no one in particular.

"Casper had a long term girlfriend at school. The relationship with the other guy was secret, and somewhat abusive. It ended badly."

The hipster shifted Casper sideways, grabbed one thigh and gripped his shoulder, and pounded him.

"He was a ROTC in college, deeply closeted, jerking off constantly, thinking about getting fucked. He joined the army when he graduated. He did a tour in Irak."

The hipster put Casper's long, muscular legs on his shoulder, and started grunting noisily, while the other guys in the room got loudly appreciative.

"He got raped by an officer over there, left the army distraught, settled in Springfield where he took some classes in finance and accounting. He got engaged to a girl, but started to frequently drive up to Boston, to parks and rest stops where he knew men were having sex."

The hipster winked to a guy sitting close, inviting him to join them on the bed. The guy slowly rose, encouraged by hushed cheers from the audience, climbed over to Casper and stuck his dick in his mouth.

"Casper never did anything, though. He just jerked off there, in his car, thinking about what men could be doing just a few feet away, watching these men get out of the bushes or dark spots as they zipped up."

The hipster had lifted Casper back on all four and was fucking him while Casper hungrily sucked on the other guy's cock. He gagged, then got his breath back and muttered "More". Another man quickly seized his chance and jumped on the bed, then forced his cock alongside the other in Casper's mouth.

"His girlfriend found porn on his computer, tons and tons and tons of gay porn. She threw him out. He moved to Boston, got a job then a bunch of promotions, went to his first gay bar one night and hooked up with some guy."

Casper's eyes were teary, he was slurping hungrily on two dicks. The hipster suddenly pulled out of his ass, jumped in the middle room and started to cum all over the floor, showcasing his orgasm for the beholden crowd. One of the guys retreated from Casper's mouth and came all over his face; the other hurriedly took the hipster's place in his ass.

"He then went on a binge: bar, internet, saunas... He was having sex constantly, almost self-destructively. He got hurt or mildly injured a couple of times, with guys who just thrashed him too hard."

Casper turned around and lay on his back, his legs spread wide. He grabbed the man fucking him and pulled him tight, and kissed him. Their kissing was loud and sloppy, adding to the wet noises coming from the dick pulling in and out of his ass. I felt Chuck slowly grabbing my cock and caress it.

"Then he met his partner, through work, and they started dating. That changed him, for the better. He came out to his family, they moved in together. They've been together a couple for six years, I think. Obviously, they have an open relationship."

Casper pushed the guy away. He grabbed from the bedstand a glass filled with cold water and poured it on his own dick. "I don't want to cum just yet", he smiled, informing the room, who cheered him. "I want two dicks in my ass", he announced quietly, looking straight at the ceiling. Three guys stood up at the same time and after an exchange of silent politeness, one of them climbed on the bed.

Chuck's hands on my body felt blissful; I was half-lost in his hairy calves and strong feet, which I had been grazing the whole time. I shifted my head slightly, so that I could look into his eyes. He gave a faint smile, and he kissed me. He felt his hand gripping my erection, which hurt a bit. I felt a little weak, engulfed in his arms and in his legs, then came a surge of energy, a burst of vigorous attraction to him. "Let's get out of here," I said. We tiptoed out of the room, oblivious to the husky echoes of Casper's commanding instructions to the two guys trying to penetrate him together.

 

We walked briskly through the hallway, down the stairs, out on the deck until we both realized we weren't sure where we were actually headed. Chuck smiled at me quizzically. "Let's get out of here," I repeated. "Like out out." We quickly found ourselves in the storage room, clumsily putting our clothes back on, giggling like misbehaving children. I kept my and Chuck's bags, with our names on it, as a souvenir.

"I need a beer. Or two," I said. "Shall we get some?"

"How do you see us stealing a few bottles of beer? Naked? Dressed in a sea of fornicating naked men?"

"Damn."

We both scanned the room and Chuck pointed at what seemed to be the reserve of red wine, bottles packed up and parked in cluttered corner. "That'll do," he said, as he snatched a bottle and stored it in his little backpack. As we pushed the front door open, he turned back and hesitated briefly, before resuming his walk towards his old SUV. "I think it's not impolite to leave the party without saying goodbye to our hosts, is it?"

 

We were quickly back on the 6, heading towards Boston. "Are you okay to drive?" I asked.

"I think I'm okay to drive. I know I'm not legally okay to drive, though."

"We don't have to drive all the way back. What was your plan B?"

"Sleep in the car, initially. We could also find a motel or some kind of Holiday Inn somewhere on the way."

"That sounds depressing."

"Which?"

"The motel."

"I know. If we do it right, we can actually convert the back of the car into something mildly comfortable. I've done it before."

"I'm just not ready to sleep right now. I'm a little wired."

"Well, we have that wine."

"Did you also steal a corkscrew?"

"Ha. No, but I have a Swiss army knife somewhere in the glove compartment."

"Always prepared."

"Always prepared."

 

We drove in silent, semi-drunk bliss for ten minutes, until, suddenly invigorated, he said "I know exactly where we're going" and he took the next exit. After a few minutes, he parked the car in the empty lot of Barrow Neck beach. The air was a little chill, but we were both wearing hoodies, and we set off towards the dunes, bringing wine, the corkscrew and a blanket. Chuck was satisfied with a spot he indicated, on the top of a dune, overlooking other dunes and, at some distance, the ocean. The moon wasn't full, but bright enough to lighten a spectacular landscape. He laid the blanket while I opened the wine, and it was his turn to sit between my legs. I hugged him tight to warm him up, before taking a slug of the wine and handing it him.

"So," he said tentatively. "I've been talking about myself all night. What about you?"

"What about me?"

"First times. Self-realizations. Heartbreaks. Oprah moments. You know, the works."

"Haven't you had enough sex stuff for tonight?"

"I think I can handle some more."

So I told him. I told him about Amy, and Jason, and Tricia, and Adam, and Erin, and Joshua. The thrill, the awkwardness, the yearning, the blunt hunger.

"I felt kind of lost at times," Chuck pensively interrupted. "About sex, about what it meant. To me and to other people. I have never been conventionally good-looking, not like you." (I blushed.) "But, I told you, I was always a very sexual person and, somehow, sex happened easily and often to me. Sex was joyful and exciting and natural. But after the initial, innocent dabbling into the whole thing, you start witnessing how complicated or weird or tormenting it is for some people. The girl you sometimes hook-up with in high school, she's clearly using her proud sluttiness to get back at her parents. The guy you casually jerk off with, he is rotting inside with guilt or self-disgust. You meet someone online who is "just up for a good time", but when it turns out to be a really good time, neither you nor the girl quite knows what to do with it. Then, you also start hurting people, or people start to hurt you. It was one thing to figure out my sexual identity, it was another, almost harder, to absorb and adapt to how sex can fuck things up. I'd always thought, naively I know, that sex was sharing, right? But it actually is some kind of transaction, but with no clear rules, with tacit clauses, so obscure and sensitive sometimes that the whole thing can blow up to your face. You think you know what you're doing, but you're in control of so little."

He drank a large gulp of the wine and passed me the bottle. "I forgot my cigarettes on the steps", I realized. And I drank some more. He took my hands in his, and wrapped himself with my arms. "We'll be fine," he said.

And I told him about Laura, about David and Brian and Joe, about a trip to Hunter Mountain that shifted everything. I told him about Schuyler. About coming out.

"I never had to come out to my parents," Chuck reflected. "They both died when I was in college. They had me and my sister very late and last. My three other brothers are much older than we are and I barely ever see them. I've often wondered what it would have been like to come out to my dad and my mom. To try to explain who I am, you know. People I told were always friends, or girlfriends, or boyfriends. They don't really require a coherent, all-encompassing clarification, and if they do, I don't owe it them. But telling your parents must be different. There needs to be something articulate and definite, that makes some sense to them or, at least, to you. But you know, for all our progress on gay issues, bisexuality is still so murky. It still seems so directionless. If you come out as gay, and your parents don't kick the shit of you, they'll just have to readjust their concept of you, their expectations for the future. But they can. They'll have a son-in-law instead of a daughter-in-law. You know?"

"Yes."

"But if you come out as bisexual, you're shattering their certainties or aspirations, but you're not replacing them with anything concrete or material that they can use to restructure the prospects of the coming years. They don't really even have any model to anchor their understanding."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, for instance, we grew up with an increasingly frequent, and positive, representation of gay people in popular culture. The whole Will & Grace thing. I do think people get what it's like to be gay, what a gay person is or can be, better than, say, forty years ago. But, really, there is hardly any bisexual character in any movies or TV shows. If there are, they're just sexually omnivorous guys in the background or women getting it on with women to get the men all horny. Or, then it's a big issue, like, what are they really? Who are they finally going to choose when the end credits roll? Really, if a new version of CSI came out, and one guy in the team would be gay, it wouldn't be such a huge deal. But I can't imagine one of the detectives being bi and the scripts would just casually mention it and it wouldn't be an issue and they would give him a boyfriend or girlfriend from time to time."

I felt him shiver and hugged him tighter. "But doesn't that give you more leeway to define your sexuality as you wish?"

"I guess," he replied, unconvinced.

We both took more wine. The bottle was getting close to empty.

"Tell me more," he said.

I told him about Ethan, I told him about Hugo.

The breeze from the ocean had died down and the air felt a little warmer. It became suddenly very silent, eerily so. I could hear his breezing, I could hear the kiss he placed on our intertwined fingers.

"Your stories never end well," he said.

"If they did, I wouldn't be here with you right now."

 

I had run out of stories, I realized with some dread. I wanted to keep talking, I wanted him to keep talking, for the sake of keeping on coasting through the night, as if only the sharing of our pasts could fuel the tightness of our embrace, the forsaking of the chill, the intimacy of our undefined present. I could make up stories, I thought, stories bent, inflated, displaced, stories infused with coded messages and gentle nudges, as if stories were, at that moment, the only way to channel through the overwhelming affection I felt for him.

"Tell me about the boyfriend you had in college," I prodded.

My question was met with silence, then a faint "Why?"

"I don't know. I've never met a bisexual guy who dates other guys," I hesitated. "They usually just fuck around on the side."

More silence. He squeezed my hand and asked "Is that why we never dated?"

I had been in that situation before. You are talking with someone who was a fling, or a little more, months or years ago, and one of you brings ups that very question. It is usually a harmless exercise in heavy flirtation, a playful and temporary suspension of disbelief, a brief and enticing reach for renewed intimacy. It never leads anywhere, it is never supposed to. If you didn't stay with someone, if the mutual fondness never led anywhere, there was usually a good reason for that. His tone and my sudden disquiet felt different, however, even though I was probably a little too drunk and certainly too infatuated with the night we were sharing to think clearly.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Did we not date because you couldn't see me being serious about another guy?"

"Okay, so you're thinly accusing me of not falling for you because I don't trust bisexual guys. Aren't you projecting your own insecurities?"

"You tell me," he said softly.

I didn't. Instead, I shuffled him to make him lie on the blanket. I kissed him lightly and he kissed me back, with a vigour and a drive that startled me. I felt his tongue on my lips, his stubbled chin on mine. I felt one of his cold hands slide under my clothes and gripping my back, I let mine sneak their way up to his warm, fuzzy chest. I felt one of his legs encircling mine. I let him roll us around, I let him roll us back, I let the sand enter my sneakers and his underwear. He let me hug him so tight, so hard, that my knuckles hurt. Then the thrashing stopped, or died down. We both gripped each other's erections through our jeans and mellowed. We kissed, for a very long time. We nibbled, licked, pecked, and kissed some more. At some point, he gently, gracefully rolled around under me, and wormed his way into unbuckling his pants and pulling them down to his thighs. I did the same, spit on my fingers with as little noise as I could, moistened my dick and his ass, and entered him gently. He didn't let a sound out, all we could hear were the breeze and the waves at a distance. We fucked for a very long time, never changing position, my chest pressed firmly against his back to keep us both warm, to keep us both close. He muttered my name a few times and I know I must have done the same. I did think, at some point, about young Chuck masturbating with frenzy in the woods, about young Chuck bewildered by his first threesome, about Chuck and I strolling in Franklin Park on a crisp sunny day last winter, about Casper seducing Chuck, about Chuck blushing when being teased by Charlie, about Chuck fucking Sam on the ottoman, about Chuck lacing his old, battered Adidas before we headed to a bar, about Chuck asking why we never dated. I did, at some point, wondered what Chuck was thinking.

We slept in the back of his car, crouched and spooned against his each other, reeking of alcohol and sex and beach, blissful. We made it home early the next morning.

We started dating, properly dating to Charlie's perplexed bemusement. There was a lot of drinking, and talking, and reading, and clubbing, and hiking. There were a lot of kissing and tumbling, of legs and smiles. The relationship wilted after a while, maybe because of my nearing departure, maybe because we ran out of conversation. I moved to DC in the summer. We kept in touch.

Chuck got married three years ago. I was invited to the wedding, a beautiful, unassuming, genuinely touching affair. When people at my table asked me how I knew the groom, I told them he was a good friend I met through our friend Charlie. A friend I cared very much about. Policy of truth.

Chuck once said that my stories don't end well. It's a little more complicated than that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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