This story details explicit gay sex between men, teens and boys. If you find this kind of thing distasteful, or if you are underage wherever you live, then stop reading this now, and delete this file. The story is completely fictional; the author does not condone or encourage any of the acts contained herein.
By: Tim Keppler
For the next three weeks Ty and I meet for lunch on Mondays. He wants to talk philosophy. He wants to understand what a dominant / submissive relationship looks like. He wants to know how to establish appropriate roles and reinforce them.
"I can't tell you how to do any of this," I say. "It all depends on who you both are as individuals. The bottom line is that you're both pursuing this kind of relationship because it reflects your personalities, and if I wasn't sure of that the first time we talked over lunch, I was at the party. I had a hunch at that time that this was what Teddy wanted, but I didn't know that this was something you wanted as well. That became clear as you interacted with Teddy after he asked to be your houseboy. You're a naturally dominant partner, and you were expressing that well. All I can do is tell you what I've done, and why."
"The big difference between you and Teddy, and Jason and me, at least when we first got together, is that you guys have been together for years. Jason and I had just met, so our early days were as much about finding out about each other as individuals as they were about finding out about what our roles were going to be. Also, Teddy seems to know what he likes, what turns him on. Jason didn't even know for sure whether he was gay. Find out what kind of pain Teddy enjoys and incorporate that into his discipline."
"I guess my best advise is to reinforce your role as dominant partner often -- every couple of days. Jason, Kenny and I have done some weird stuff together, but it's been sort of icing. Mostly what we're about is regular -- almost clockwork -- spankings. Find something you're going to do over and over to assert your dominance, and then embellish on it. For us, it's spankings. Keep it simple, because you're going to do that thing every couple of days. You don't want to have to think too much about it. What turns Teddy on isn't the actual punishment. It isn't for Kenny and Jason, either. What turns them on is being dominated by us, and, of course, the emotional release. They're like cats. They don't like it when you vary their diet. They want to eat the same thing every single day. So, by now, Jason and Kenny get quite upset with me if I don't spank them. Kenny will come and find me and tell me he wants to be spanked, or he'll get grumpy if I forget (and sometimes I do, because he's always so sweet). Jason is more emotional and, oddly, less self-aware. He'll get weepy. Always follow up whatever you do with some serious cuddling, and with some serious listening, because they get very emotional when you punish them. They let their guards down, and suddenly you find out what they're really thinking, even if their emotionally immature, like Kenny used to be. He'd never tell us how he felt -- until he ended up on my lap sobbing for an hour or so. Both Jason and Kenny remind me a lot of Kevin, my middle son. He'll misbehave and I'll set him in a corner, or give him a light swat on the ass, and he's inconsolable. `What were you thinking, Kev!?' And through his tears, that's exactly what you'll get -- what he was thinking. In Kevin's case, though, his emotions are pretty close to the surface, and he's so eager to please. You show him you're disappointed in him, and he's nearly beside himself. It doesn't take much. With Kenny and Jason, you have to get beyond all the inhibitions that say that it's wrong for an adult male to cry. You have to give them just enough pain to sob, which is what they want to do anyway, and you get to the heart of their emotional life."
On our third luncheon meeting, we get together at a Korean restaurant near where Ty works. This is the real thing. I like the Koreans because they love their food really spicy, and they aren't ashamed of it. And this place doesn't seem to have Caucasian-ized any of their dishes. The Kim Chi they bring us, for example, is more likely to eat you than you are to eat it. Wonderful! When Ty arrives he is just so excited. We order, and they bring us our food, but Ty is talking so fast he simply can't eat. "...and I spanked him, more severely than usual because he just kept whining about how hard it was to teach these fourth-graders, and when he starts sobbing, I stop, and pick him up off the bed. I take him to the living room, and we cuddle on this huge overstuffed chair I bought just for this. He cries, and I lecture him about his constant whining, his constant negativity about his class. We talk about it in whispers for half an hour. And then...and then...he asks me to fuck him!"
"Really! That's great! And...did you?"
"Are you out of your mind? Of course I did. I took him back to the bedroom, laid him out on the bed -- on his belly -- greased him up, and entered him in one slow, smooth thrust. That's what I told him I was going to do to get him to do his stretching exercise. He groaned, but took me, and as I started to move inside him, he got really wild, thrashing his head back and forth, groaning, and raising his ass with each thrust. It was bliss, and I came pretty fast, after only five or so minutes. After I recovered, I bit his ear lobe, and whispered, `Thanks, baby. I guess I better get you off, now.' He began to giggle. `Umm...no. I came with you.' I was so into it, I hadn't even noticed."
We finish our meal, pay, and walk to the parking lot. "I'm happy for you, Ty. I think you guys are on course. Lemme know if there's anything I can do, but I think you've figured it out." We hug, and I drive back home. I'm really happy for them!
months after my initial interview with the curators from SFMOMA (San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art), the Museum contacts me to say that they're working on an
exhibition of Alejandro's work. They've arranged to borrow works from several
other private collections, as well as the MOMA in
I call the Museum and ask to speak to Valerie Jameson. They transfer me to her extension and, remarkably, she answers. It's lunchtime. She's at her desk, and her "Hello" is a bit garbled, muffled by a mouthful of sandwich, she explains, apologizing. I ask her for five more copies of the flyer proof, and she assures me that she'll send them out this afternoon. "How many of Alejandro's paintings do you have?" I ask her.
"A total of twenty," she says, including our eight, the Museum's three, NYMOMA's three, and six from private collectors. "It'll be a small exhibition," she says, "but very meaningful."
I thank her, and we end our call.
call a travel agent, because I can't figure out how to get to
Next I call Mrs. Leong. Her English, too, is a little shaky, but I like her, and she likes me, so we always muddle through. I begin every conversation with "Amah," so her initial impression is that it's Jason calling. But, then she realizes it's me and giggles. I ask he if she'd be willing to mind the boys for the next week. She is so excited, you cannot imagine. I promise to have either Jason or Kenny swing by in the morning to take them to school, but she won't hear of that. "Too much trouble," she says. "I take them." Great! Then I call Jason and Kenny in a three-way conference call, and tell them what I'm doing.
"How do you know she'll be there?" Kenny asks.
"I don't, but it's not like I can call her on the phone. She has no listing that I could discover. I'm just going to have to go there. I have an address. That's about as good as it gets in small Mexican towns."
They agree. I think I'm set.
says, "of course." And he takes me there...expeditiously! Thank god! I've travelled
all over the world, but never to
I make my way into the hotel, sign in, get my room, and collapse. By now it's nearly 7:30pm, and I'm exhausted, having been up for nearly two days. I ask at the desk if they have room service, knowing the answer. They don't. They don't know what room service is. Then I give the guy at the counter US$5 and ask where the nearest good restaurant is. "What do you like to eat?" he asks.
"Mexican. Local food. Very spicy."
"I will bring you something," he says. "My wife is a very good cook. How spicy is very spicy?"
"As spicy as you eat it."
smiles. "Give me an hour." Sure enough, in an hour's time, he brings me a plate
of food -- stewed pork, I think, onions, garlic, and laced with cumin...and
chilis. It's accompanied by rice and black beans. It is just perfect! I eat it
with corn tortillas, and by the time I'm done, my mouth is absolutely on fire,
my tongue ablaze. And that's exactly how I like it. In
"Que bueno!" I respond. "Muchas gracias!"
He seems surprised. "De nada," he responds, tentatively.
My belly full, and my lips still alight, I make my way back to my room, and fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow, at 9pm. I sleep for twelve hours. It's amazing what a really good meal can do for you.
By 10am, I'm up and hungry again. I make my way down to the front desk, and this time it's a women back there. I ask her where I can find breakfast, and like the guy last night, she asks what I like to eat. This time I'm not so open-ended. "Menudo," I say, and her eyes open very wide.
"¿Si?" she asks.
guess I should explain. I have a particular fondness for tripe. Tripe is the
interior lining of the belly of a cow. (I'm sorry. I don't mean to gross out
anyone, but the texture is just...really...interesting. And it picks up any flavor
you give it.) Only the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the Mexicans seem to know
what to do with it. The Chinese tend to stew it in either black bean sauce or
with ginger; the Vietnamese use it in soups; and the Mexicans...well, I'm not
really sure how they cook it, but it's delicious. I've had it in any number of
Mexican restaurants back home, but never in
"Menudo. Are you sure. That is..."
"...tripe. Yes I know."
She smiles at me. "You are Sr. Jensen...room 5."
"I will bring you menudo. I have some on the stove cooking now. Give me half an hour."
I nod, and walk back up to my room, and in thirty-five minutes it arrives. And it...is...good! Oh, my god it's good. This is less spicy than last night, but it's got a kick to it nevertheless. This woman can seriously cook. When I'm done, I carry the bowl downstairs, and she gives me a look, cocking her head to the left.
"Si," I reply. "Muy, muy bueno." She beams.
"I have a problem," I tell her. "I have someone I need to see, but I don't have a telephone number. I don't even know if she has a telephone. She doesn't know I'm coming. Is there a cab that can take me?"
"What is her name?" she asks.
"Rosario Fernandez. Her address is..."
"Si. I know Sra. Fernandez. I am sure she is at home. She is very ill, you know. Cancer. Miguel will take you." And then she shouts for Miguel, who comes almost immediately. I thought this would be her husband, the guy from last night, but it isn't. Judging by the age it could be her son. He is seriously cute -- dark and chunky. She tells him where to take me, and he leads me out to an old Volkswagen van, and drives me to an area of town only about five minutes away. It's not "village-like" at all, certainly not the rustic adobe village in the painting. Instead, it looks decidedly middle-class.
"Would you like for me to wait?" he asks.
"No," I say. "This may take a while."
"I do not mind," he says. "I think if I come back without you my mother will not be...happy. I will wait."
I get out of the van, and knock on the door of the house. When Miguel sees this, he gets out of the van and comes to me. "Sra. Fernandez is bedridden. She cannot answer you. I bring her food every day. You must just go in." He opens the door for me, which is not locked, and leads me inside. "Señora," he calls. "It is Miguel. I am here with a friend." Then he takes me to her bedroom, where she is lying in her bed, reading, and I realize instantly that this is the woman from Alejandro's por
trait, the woman with the half-embarrassed smile. She looks at me quizzically as Miguel leaves the room, planting himself in the kitchen.
Sr. Jensen from the
When she hears who I am, her eyes light up. That luster is still there, and there's still extraordinary beauty in her face, though her skin is greyer than it was in the painting.
"I am so glad to see you," she says, extending her hand. "I am sorry that I cannot get up. I am ill. Actually, like Alejandro, I am dying. I am so happy that you have come!"
We chat for several minutes, and I discover that she has pancreatic cancer, that it's in an advanced stage, and that it has spread to other organs. "I loved the boy so much, and I felt so bad for him. When he died, my depression was profound. That did not cause my cancer, but it accelerated it, I think." This is not the peasant woman I thought it would be. She is very articulate, and very gracious.
"We received your letter, and the paintings, and were so touched. They are just so beautiful! I had no idea he was as good a painter as he obviously was. My son was Alejandro's..."
"Lover," she provides. "Yes, I understand, Sr. Jensen. They were lovers. I do not have a problem with that. Maybe I did once, but not for long."
"Yes. Alejandro was my son's lover, and Ian was devastated when Alejandro left him, but I think he understands Alejandro's motivations. He still loves Alejandro, or the memories he has of him..."
"Alejandro was a fool," she says, flatly. "I didn't have the heart to tell him this because I'm sure he knew it already. He was distraught, and depressed about what he had done, what he had to do. But... We can no longer solve these problem."
reply, "and that's not why I came. I came to give you this," I say, handing her
the brochure from the upcoming SFMOMA exhibition. "Alejandro was an
extraordinary painter, and this brochure will be sent out soon to announce an
upcoming exhibition of his work at one of the foremost modern art museums in
She gazes at the brochure. She can't read it, of course. She doesn't speak English. But she looks at the photos of the paintings, and when she reaches Alejandro's self-portrait, she immediately tears up. "He looked like that...at the end. This is a very good likeness. He was...so beautiful when he was not ill. I would look at him...later...and I would start to cry. So beautiful... But, he...was beautiful anyway, so sweet, so perceptive." She is on the verge of tears, but then regains control. "Only twenty," she says, wistfully, "only twenty of his works?" she says, looking up at me, abruptly.
"That's all the museum could collect for the exhibition."
she says. "I understand. "This is why I said I'm happy you have come. Alejandro
was very generous with me. He would sell a painting, and suddenly we would have
things we could not otherwise afford. We would have fish, and exotic
vegetables, and fruit, things you may not think about in the
"Alejandro was not able to sell all of his paintings before he died. He could not have in any case because he worked until his dying day. I have the paintings that he did not sell, and I have a few that he gave to me because I loved them so. They are ten in all, I think. I have willed them to Mr. Jensen, your son, but it is better that you take them now because this will prevent them from falling into the hands of...people whose only motivation is greed. I am trying to divest myself of as much of my property as I can before I die. It is safer to leave nothing for executors and lawyers to fight over and absorb before it can be distributed to those for whom it was intended."
My head is reeling. I'm not sure what has captured my attention more -- the beauty and wisdom of this woman, the pathos of her impending death, or the fact that she has ten more of Alejandro's paintings, paintings that we will probably never sell, paintings that will produce nothing more than beauty. She is quite remarkable, quite amazing, and I think it's her simplicity combined with an elegance of thought and movement, even now, even as she waits to die, that is so arresting. She is just trying to live her life with as little fuss and as much dignity, as she can, in whatever way she can, even as death hovers. She touches me. Her humanity touches me. I find myself in tears, and I'm very self-conscious because I don't want her to perceive these tears as the product of venality. They aren't. They're the product of watching a proud and honorable woman succumb to life, as we all must. Thankfully, she understands.
be sad, Sr. Jensen. I have lived a good life. I had a husband that I loved and
who loved me. I have wanted for nothing, though sometimes that's what I had --
nothing. You make do with what you are given. I have lived well. I could have
no children of my own, but Alejandro...well...Alejandro was mine! He was the trash my sister discarded. You have a saying in
my eyes, and gaze at her. "I understand why Alejandro left the University to
smiles bleakly. "It was probably both," she says. "Alejandro had never really
We sit for many minutes without saying anything. Finally, she says, "The paintings are all packaged like the ones I sent you. I'd planned to send them to you, but became too ill and included them in my will instead. It was easier, but far more dangerous, far more difficult to ensure that you'd ever see them. They are in the closet in the front room. Please take them with you. It will be a weight off my mind. I will know that someone who appreciates them, who appreciated Alejandro, will be able to enjoy them, rather than a nameless, faceless collector who wants them only because they are valuable. I would rather their value be beauty than...a good investment. Please take them with you as you go..."
I'm being dismissed. I understand that. She's tired, and starting to doze. "Please, Señora. Before I go, may I take your picture. My son needs to meet you, as he has in Alejandro's painting. He needs to see you...near the end."
I think it's the fact that I've acknowledged that she is near the end that turns the tide. "Si," she says, and I pull my digital camera out of my pocket and take several pictures. She will not pose, which is good, giving me some very realistic images of this very proud woman.
her, kiss her gently, and leave the room. Finding the front-room closet, I
extract the ten DHL packing boxes and get Miguel to help me load them into the
van, and we make our way back to the hotel. My flight out of
"No, Señora," I reply. "I will not pay that!" I quote her a price that's 50% more than the bus fare. "I am not looking for a bargain, Señora. I am looking for security, comfort, and the pleasure of your son's company." She nods, smiling.
As I begin to walk to the stairs to get to my room, she calls to me. "Have you eaten, Señor?" I realize that I haven't, not for six or so hours, and I'm really hungry!
"No, Señora, I have not. Can you make me something?"
She smiles. "What would you like?"
"You decide," I reply, smiling. "I have no doubt it will be delicious."
Her smile broadens. "Give me half an hour. Impalio!" she cries, "come supervise the lobby. I have work to do."
home is relatively uneventful. Arduous, but uneventful. I am exhausted by the time
I actually step into the house. Kenny's the only one home, and he's surprised
to see me. "Why didn't you call? I'd have come and picked you up." Of course,
had I been travelling with a suitcase or two, that's exactly what I would have
done, but I had ten boxed paintings. The only vehicle we have that could
transport ten boxed paintings is the
"No problem," I say to Kenny, kissing him as I swing open the front door. "You can help me bring these in."
His eyes go wide as he sees the boxes lined up on the porch. "A shopping spree?" he asks.
I'd expected a lot more hassle when I checked these boxes in at the airport. I mean, they scanned them, and x-rayed them, and I expected that. But Customs didn't seem to care, not on the Mexican side or on the American side. "Just a few pictures," I'd said, and they passed me right through, not noticing, I guess, that I'd insured these "few pictures" for a total of $10 million.
We bring the boxes in and set them in the entryway. Closing the front door, I fall into Kenny's arms. I'm so tired...and so hungry. "Kenny," I whine. "Can you make me something to eat?"
He laughs. "Yeah. Watjuwant?" he asks.
"Something. Something good. Maybe some noodles."
over and kisses me. "Okay," he says. "Give me half an hour." Jesus, he sounds
like Sra. Guzman. Am I still in
"Wake up, sleepy-head," he says. "Dinner's ready."
My stomach is growling, I notice, as I walk into the dining room, where Kenny is waiting with the boys. "What happened to lunch, Kenny?" I ask.
"I ate it," he says, giggling. "You were dead to the world, so dead I couldn't get you to wake up. I figured you needed your beauty sleep more than you needed your noodles, so I ate them. Your loss. They were really good," he says, giggling. I cuff him as I walk past, smiling, and sit down to a Jason meal of stuffed bitter melon, steamed halibut, stir-fried bok choi and mushrooms, and tofu-fa for dessert. Tofu-fa is a Chinese dessert, also much loved by the Vietnamese, consisting of warm silken soybean curd (tofu) in a sweet ginger syrup. It's very nice, and it's Kai's all-time favorite dessert. This is a very simple, elegant feast, the kind of meal Jason excels at. It's exactly what I need. Highly proteinaceous!
After dinner, I move back to the entryway and sit down in one of the chairs, staring at the boxes. While I'm intrigued with what they contain, the idea of opening them exhausts me. And, I imagine that viewing the paintings is going to be emotional. I just don't think I have the energy tonight. So, instead, I cross back to the kitchen where Jason and Kenny have just finished loading the dishwasher. I stand in the doorway until they notice me. "Umm...could we make love?" The two of them look at each other and smile.
"Give us 15 minutes to put the boys to bed," Kenny says, and then, looking at Jason, "You take Kai and I'll take Kevin."
Jason nods, and they go to deal with the boys. I am really just exhausted, and make my way to the bedroom. I undress, stow my clothes, and climb into bed, to wait for my guys. Sure enough, when I wake up six and a half hours later, here they are. I'm cuddled up against Kenny's back, and Jason is wrapped around me. I lift my head above Kenny's shoulders to look at the clock, only to find that it's 2:30am. No wonder both Kenny and Jason are snoring contentedly. I put my head back down on the pillow, and I'm out.
When I awake next, the clock says 10:24am. I'm still cuddled up to Kenny, but somewhere during the night he flipped over and we're now face to face, nearly nose to nose. We're huddled over on the right-hand side of the bed, and he's still snoring softly. More remarkable, though, is that Jason is lying on top of us on his belly, so our three faces are together. His legs are splayed, flopping over the sides of each of us. How'd he get up here without waking us up, I wonder. Jason tends to sleep like Kai -- with absolute abandon. Both of them can fall asleep anywhere and in any bodily configuration required for the shape and size of the sleeping space. Kai, for the longest time, used to like to play hide and seek with his cat, Thumper, and his favorite hiding place was under the desk in the office. If Thumper didn't come for him quickly, he'd inevitably fall asleep all curled up in that tiny little space. The first couple of times he did this, it freaked me out, because after a while, when I didn't see him around, I'd go looking for him and couldn't find him. And, like me, he's a heavy sleeper, so calling to him doesn't always wake him up. It was that silly Thumper-cat that put me wise. He tends to follow Kai wherever he goes, and almost always knows where he is. So, if you follow the cat, you find the boy.
Everyone is snoring except for me, and Jason is on top of us, the cherry on the sundae. And the other salient feature of this tableau is that we all have hardons. I know this, because Kenny's is poking me in the belly, and Jason's is lodged between my legs and Kenny's, and as he breathes, it moves up and down. It's almost like jerking yourself off by sleeping -- which sounds like a pretty good idea. Only I'm awake, and am luxuriating in the warmth of these two other bodies. After ten minutes or so, Kenny's eyes begin to flutter and half open, and he finds himself staring into my eyes. He smiles, and then turns his head ever so slightly to find Jason on top of us. He giggles. "How'd he get up there?" he mouths.
"Dunno," I mouth back.
Very slowly, he moves his head forward, toward mine, and kisses me softly. I kiss back, sucking on his lower lip. After a couple of minutes we become a little more passionate, and this finally wakes Jason, who opens his eyes groggily, and then, realizing that he's looking down at us kissing, starts to giggle. "How'd this happen?" he asks.
And then we hear the damndest thing, something that surprises all of us -- so much so that we all look up at the same time. "Are you guys awake?" It's the very groggy voice of...Kevin. He's apparently right behind me. I can't see him, but Jason can, and Kenny sort of can if he hoists his head up to peer over the top of mine. Jason starts to laugh.
"What are you doing here, Kev?"
"We was cold," says...someone. It's not Kevin. And then Kai lifts himself up from behind Kevin. Because of the angle of their bodies, neither Jason nor Kenny had seen him. It is just too damned funny! The whole damned family is in this bed. I guess we're not going to get any fucking done this morning.
Jason is first out of the bed, his hardon bobbing. Kenny is next, also bobbing. I flip over to tickle Kevin, accidentally poking him with mine. The boys have seen us hard any number of times, mostly because they creep into our bed fairly frequently in the middle of the night. Initially, it was a curiosity for them, especially Kevin. "Does it hurt, Daddy?" he'd asked Kenny once, grasping his hardon.
"No, not really," Kenny'd responded.
"How'd it get like this?" Kevin had asked.
"I dunno, Kev. Sometimes it just...does."
"How long's it stay like this?"
"Not too long. Your penis gets this way, too, doesn't it? I've seen it."
"Sometimes," he replies. "It's hard to pee..."
"That's true. Sometimes you have to...wait."
He nodded. Kevin is the only seven-year-old I know who know the word for "penis" in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. This is a true mark of distinction.
"Okay, guys," Jason says to the boys. "Into the bath. You need a wash."
"I don't want a wash," Kai whines. "I wanna stay here."
"Nope...nope...nope," Jason responds, rapid fire. "No wash, no breakfast."
"No. I'm not going. I don't wanna wash."
Kai gets like this occasionally. He can be a little grumpy when he first gets up. Usually you can talk him out of it, or you can tickle him, but it's clear that's not going to work this morning.
"Okay, no breakfast. `No breakfast for Kai, No breakfast for Kai, No breakfast, No breakfast, No breakfast for Kai' Jason sings." This ploy utterly backfires. Kai starts to cry, and then to sob, and then to scream. It's time for a little corner time, but Jason is a softie, so he's going to go sit in the corner with him. He lifts Kai out of the bed, still crying and screaming, and tells Kenny to bathe Kevin. "I'll do it," I volunteer. "Why don't you go grab a shower and start breakfast?" He nods.
Jason takes Kai to the living room where we have the official "time-out" chair and sits on it with a sobbing Kai on his lap, whispering to him, scolding him, but also rubbing his back. Kenny goes to the bedroom shower. Kevin and I go to the main guest bathroom, and I run a bath. At seven years old, Kevin mostly takes his own baths. Well, that's not quite true, he and Kai almost always bathe together, and it's usually Kenny who presides over bath time, sometimes joining both of them. Today, it'll just be Kevin and me. Kevin doesn't like to wash his own hair, and so Kenny usually helps him with that. If I'd already been dressed, I'd just have washed his hair and been done with it, but given that I'm naked, we'll bathe together.
Once we have enough water, we slide in, me in back and Kevin in front of me, leaning against my chest. We soak for a few minutes while I hug him, and then I reach for the shampoo. "Okay, Mr. Kevin. Dunk!" He leans forward and sticks his head under water, blowing bubbles for effect. Then he surfaces and I soap up his head, scrubbing away. He giggles, getting some shampoo in his mouth.
"Okay, you're done. Dunk again." He submerges his head again, and I ruffle his hair under water to get the shampoo out, and then pull him back up. I pass him the bar soap.
"No," he says, "I wanna do you. He turns around in the bath tub so we're now facing each other. "Dunk, Daddy," he says, squirting an enormous amount of shampoo into his hand. I dunk my head, and bring it up, and he washes my hair within an inch of its life, scrubbing and scrubbing. Finally, he concludes that it can't get any cleaner than it is and tells me to dunk, rinsing away the soap. Now he can get on with his bath.
doesn't take us long. We're in and out in maybe fifteen minutes, and the water
is still warm for Kai, who comes running in, pursued by Jason, and jumps into
the tub, splashing water nearly everywhere. Jason climbs in behind him, and
they carry out the same ritual but with different players. Kevin and I dry off,
get dressed, and by the time Jason and Kai are out and dressed, Kenny has
breakfast on the table. I'd hoped for rice porridge, but that would have taken
a lot longer to cook, so it's fried eggs this morning with toast and apple
juice. An all-American breakfast just like the pilgrims ate... If you sense my
ambivalence, you're right. It's a Saturday, and Jason has a concert this
evening, so while Jason drives into
The first couple I open are paintings of flowers, and it looks like he was experimenting with capturing the intricate structure of the petals. The first is a cyclamen, I think, one of the daintiest flowers there is. I'm not entirely sure it's a cyclamen because the close-up view of the flower is extreme. He concentrated on just a couple of petals in an explosion of color on the canvass. And, while it's the vibrancy of the color that catch the eye, it's the almost cellular structure of those petals that's so remarkable. The shadowing is just incredible. This painting is 36" X 36". It is HUGE, and is one of my favorites of his work so far.
The second flower is a tulip, and again it's ultra close up. Where the structure of the cyclamen petals was cellular, the structure of this tulip is fluid. No veins are evident at all. It's almost like a waterfall of color, in this case orange, with just enough of the stem to clarify that this is indeed a plant, a flower. Gorgeous!
The third painting is a portrait of two guys kissing. They're facing slightly away from us, so the focus is on their hair and their bodies. They're dressed in t-shirts and jeans, and the background, as with some of Alejandro's other paintings, is blurred. I'm just not sure how to explain this effect. When you take a photograph in low light, you have to open the aperture of your lens in order to get enough light to adequately expose the film. When you do that, you can achieve pinpoint focus on your central object, but anything in the background is blurred. In other words, your depth-of-field is very precise. When you have more light, and reduce the aperture to avoid over-exposing the film, your depth of field expands and the background becomes clearer. Low light feels like intimacy to me, and that's what I think he's trying to do by blurring the background -- I mean, besides focusing on just the subjects of the pictures. These are really attractive guys. You can tell by the way their shirts hang from their shoulders, and the definition of their...asses. Their black hair shimmers in the light. And then I see it, and tear up. There's a mole on the neck of the guy on the right. It's Kenny. This is Jason and Kenny kissing each other. Alejandro must have had a photographic memory for pictorial detail. And, once I recognize the subjects, I begin to see through the blurriness of the background. I begin to be able to piece it together. They're standing in our kitchen. I can tell from the outline of the cabinets. This is absolutely magnificent!
I tear into the fourth and fifth boxes, pulling out the paintings and unwrapping them. The fourth painting is of his Aunt's house. I remember being impressed with the way the ferns grew in the shadows of a tree in her front yard, and he captured those shadows perfectly. The house looks rustic, and a little run-down, just as it did yesterday. The door is open, and you can see through to the rear of the house through that open door, to the couch that's set against the back wall, and on it sits a naked form. You can't really make out features. It's too far away, but the way the body is positioned, you get a sense of intimacy and comfort. Whoever this is, is lounging, is comfortable. Whoever this is, is happy.
The fifth painting is another floral study, this one of what looks like a calla lily. Again the focus is extreme, showing you every vein of the white flower against a background of browns and greens -- a forest. And, again, just enough of the stalk is showing to make clear that this is, indeed, a flower.
sixth painting is a nude, another of Ian. Once again he plays with light and
shadow to make this look like one of the Dutch masters, a Caravaggio or de la
Tour. Ian's hair, once again, is resplendent. It looks like sunshine, and his
skin is creamy and soft. He has a provocative smile, and the blue of his eyes
almost glows. He's lying on a bed, their bed in
seven depicts the exterior of the Hotel Don Fernando, the hotel where I stayed
And then I hit the eighth painting. It's as if a movie camera has zoomed in on the doorway in the painting of his Aunt's house. The painting is 36" high, and 24" wide, and he's painted the edges of the doorway along the edges of the canvass, but that's not what ties this painting to the painting of Alejandro's Aunt's house. It's the figure on the couch that's positioned on the back wall. The body is identical. Not only is the shape of the body identical, but its position is identical, its...posture. There's the same sense of intimacy and comfort, the same sense of happiness, but now we can see the subject's face...and more. This is definitely Miguel, Sra. Guzman's son. He has an almost coy smile, and his eyes sparkle, although they're nearly half shut. There's almost a sense of entitlement in his expression, as though he has a right to be here, as though he's been here before...often. He's naked, as he was in the painting of the house, and I'm tempted to guess that this is a snapshot in time after sex, but he's erect, and the coy smile seems to beckon to the painter. Come hither, he seems to call. The detail, once again, is amazing, even of the overgrown vines that climb the trellis just beyond the French doors behind the couch. It's as though we zoomed in on the painting of the house and are trading the obscured view through the front door for an obscured view through the French doors, except we're mesmerized by the figure of the...boy. I suddenly feel like a voyeur, like I'm eavesdropping. What a fascinating set of paintings! I wonder what Miguel's relationship was with Alejandro. And then I laugh at my own stupidity. Hasn't he just told me that?
The nineth painting is of a cat lying in a child's lap. The child's head is bent over the cat as he strokes its coat. The cat's eyes are scrunched shut, and you can almost hear the cat purring. The coat is orange and lustrous, and the boy is quietly blissful. His hair, which is as much as you can really see of him, is shiny and black. This is clearly Kai and Thumper. How many times have I seen them like this, sitting together in the middle of the living room, Kai totally spaced, completely mesmerized by the sensation of that soft fur slipping though his fingers. Thumper's body is nestled in the hollow of Kai's legs, his paws stretched across his thigh. As I look at this picture, I notice Thumper staring at me from the bedroom hallway, and am just confounded by the detail -- the same white spot on his nose, the white paws. Even the placement of the stripes is exact.
Finally, I open the last box, and am surprised to find that it contains two canvasses, both neatly wrapped in butcher paper. Did they run out of boxes or what? These canvasses are stretched across thinner frames, only ¾ inch. They look commercially-made, while all the previous canvasses looked as though Alejandro may have made them himself. Maybe these are his last paintings. Maybe he didn't have the time or the strength to make his own canvasses, and so he bought them. Who knows? Tearing off the butcher paper from the first of them, I turn it over so it faces me. It's 24" high by 36" wide, and I have to turn it by 180º until it's right-side-up. And when I do, I gasp. I literally have to close my eyes because it's too much to take in, and then I open my eyes...for just a moment. No. I can't do this yet. I leave the painting leaning against the wall, and go into the living room and sit...for maybe half an hour. Then I come back into the room, and...just...stare. It's me. It's every inch of me. It's like looking at myself through someone else's eyes, someone else's mirror. I'm lying on my belly staring out at the artist, staring out at the viewer. I have sort of an ironic smile. No I can't talk about this one. I understand why Ian was so disturbed at seeing the portraits.
Finally, I unwrap the last painting, and if the previous one was disturbing, this one is devastating. It has me instantly sobbing. It's the body of a man, ashen but peaceful, old but young, vibrant but brittle, happy but so...so sad. It's Alejandro, or Alejandro's vision of himself...at death. His body is covered by a shroud. This is both one of the most devastating images I've ever seen, and one of the most beautiful. That's all I can tell you. I simply can't look at it long enough to give you impressions. Like Ian said of the previous eight paintings, this one is just too painful to look at. This one I turn so that it faces the wall. I can't look at it right now, and I don't want the boys to see it when they come home. This one's going to take a lot to get used to.
Once I can stop crying, I move to the office and call the SFMOMA and ask to speak to Valerie Jameson, and she answers. I'm still choking...a little. "It's Tim. Tim Jensen," I say. "Umm...where do you live, Ms. Jameson?" I ask.
"Would it be possible for you to join us for dinner tonight?"
Another pause. "Umm..."
"Because the brochure is entirely inadequate, and we'll need to talk about that. We have some time to revise, right?"
"Yeah... How is it inadequate?"
"Well...umm...for one thing, we have eleven more of Alejandro's paintings, late works, that I think you might want to consider adding to the exhibition. I'd like to...umm...describe them to you, but...when I try to...talk about them, I inevitably...umm...start to cry."
She pauses for a long moment. "Yes. I can make it," she says, slowly. "What time?"
"Would 7pm work?"
She calculates. "How about 7:30?"
I call Mrs. Leong and ask if she can take the boys this evening, and feed them. She agrees instantly. Then I call Kenny on his cell and tell him to take the boys to her when they're done at the park. "Okay. What's up?"
"It's too much to explain on the phone."
"Okay. Sure. I'll take them. I'll be home in an hour or two."
Then I call Jason, and ask him what time he'll be home.
"Probably around 7pm. Wassup?"
"Swap nights with Kenny. He can cook tonight."
And then I go and sit on the floor of the entryway, and I just stare. I stare until Kenny gets home. And then we stare together. And then, when I show him the painting that's facing the wall, we both just start crying. I can't look at this picture. And the boys much never see it...or maybe they can, because they'll never know who it is.
Mid-December. We revised the brochure. Ms. Jameson wanted to include all the new paintings in the exhibit, and I arranged with Sra. Fernandez (using Miguel as an emissary) to give a private interview to someone with better Spanish language skills than I have. We want to know what she knows about the origin of these paintings -- when were they done, and what their background is. We want to establish a time sequence and understand more precisely the motivation of the images. And...I call Miguel Guzman personally and talk to him about his portrait. He denies that he was ever Alejandro's lover, which is what I expected him to say. But, I also warn him that his portrait will be part of the exhibition. He's a little teary, I think, but I also think he knew that this would happen. He has no real objections.
On December 19th, the exhibition opens. It's an evening event for subscribers only. 35 paintings (having in the interim roped in four more private collectors willing to loan their pieces for the exhibition). I re-wrote the brochure to be pretty explicit about who Alejandro was, artistically, creatively, intellectually and ...sexually. The Museum did great job of lining up donations of wine, cheese, breads, pâté, and even caviar for the event. And Jason was able to break his quartet out of rehearsals for next weeks program to play for the opening (his fucking quartet -- the San Francisco Symphony Leong String Quartet).
"What should we play?" he'd asked.
I'd given him a look.
"No, we can't play Shostakovich," he'd said with a giggle. "Alejandro was predominantly representational. What about Mozart?"
"Okay," I said with a yawn. "How about Eine Kleine Nachtmusik?"
"We don't have a bass."
"Well, whatever then," I'd said, a little exasperated. And then I'd turned back. "What about some Mahler?"
"Yeah, we could do that, and mix it with some Beethoven and Mozart."
And that's what they're playing as the place fills up, fills to capacity.
program will begin with a lecture by Ms. Jameson on Alejandro's contribution to
modern art, a lecture that she has researched within an inch of its life. It is
very "art-history-lectury," and I have to confess
that in tone, it bores me. I took two terms of art history in college, and
never went to class, because the lectures sounded just like this. I got A's in
both classes, just as I got A's in Intro
to Music Appreciation, and in Mid-20th Century Music,
although I never went to those classes either. I think if I'd gone to those
classes I'd have failed because they were so...damned...boring. They would have
deadened my interest. I was excited about art history, and I was sure as hell
excited about music. I had to stay away from class to nurture those interests.
This is not to say that I don't support liberal education. (Rant on: Prepare
for something offensive!) Kids from
While her delivery is deadly, her content is quite interesting. She positions Alejandro in the twentieth-century tradition, talks about his bravery in reaching back to a representational style, a style akin to the 200 year-old Dutch and German schools of painting, talks about his brush strokes, his dedication to oils. And then she delves into the social context of his paintings, the homoeroticism of his images. She positions each painting within the contexts of modern imagery and gay culture, even the flowers, which she compares to Mapplethorpe. It's actually quite an original and interesting analysis, if I could just stay awake.
But Kenny and I are here to be educated. We know what we like, and we...I...I know why I like what I like. But I can't really put it in context, can't fit it into an art "continuum". She can. That's what she's good at, and her lecture is what I used to lure Ian to the event, my little Ian, who stands beside me now, holding my hand. "You're never going to see this exhibition again," I'd said. "He loved you completely. I don't think he loved himself much. In fact, by the end, I think he hated himself. He was broken and lonely...so, so lonely. You really need to see it, Ian. And they have a fine art historian who will try to give him some context, some relevance." He agreed. So, he and Leslie are here as well. (I told him he couldn't come without Leslie. I told him he'd need Leslie. He knew what I meant.)
Now and again, it's nice to dress up, and galas like this are a very good excuse. Thanks to Jason's Asian connections, we all have a couple of tuxes, even the boys, and we're dressed to the nines tonight -- in honor of this remarkable talent. Kenny and I are in lavender with white shirts, Kevin and Kai are in black with pink and lavender shirts, Ian is in black with an orange shirt, Leslie is in dark blue with a dark blue shirt, and, of course, Jason is in his uniform -- black tux with crisp white shirt and black tie. We are by far the best-dressed faggots here, and the room is full of "family," so that's saying a lot.
After the lecture, we begin the exhibition. They have a docent, an actual human, leading a tour, but I think all of us are probably better versed in this particular artist than any docent will be. They've arranged the paintings chronologically, and then subjectively within the chronology. The painting of Alejandro's Aunt's house has been hung next to the view through its door of Miguel, for example. The frames all match, starkly black against the background of the white walls, tightly circumscribing the images as though they might otherwise escape and become reality. I've brought several cloth hankies just in case things get out of hand, and they do the minute we hit the paintings of the flowers. This begins the set of paintings Ian hasn't seen before, but these he remembers. "I remember talking to him about the structure of petals. He thought they were different for every flower," Ian related, through tears. "'No,' I'd said, `they're all pretty much the same.' These are studies. These are his way of exploring that premise, of showing me that there are differences, and probably proving that to himself. They're just...so...beautiful!"
What distracts all of us from really looking at these paintings is...Kai. If you set him on the ground, he motors around on his own, touching everything. The first incident finds him behind the margin of ropes set up to prevent observers from getting to close to the paintings. The guard plucks him up just as he's about to touch one of the portraits and brings him to us. "Please keep your son well back from the paintings," he says to Kenny. Kenny nods. But then Kai's runs off again, and I catch sight of him about to touch a vase in the middle of the room, a Chinese antique, part of another exhibition. I catch him this time and swat him, kneeling down, looking into his face as his eyes get the size of saucers. He's just on the verge of tears when I hug him.
"Don't touch, Kai," I say, looking into his eyes. "None of this belongs to you. You don't touch things that don't belong to you unless someone tells you that it's okay. Got it?" He nod, uncertainly.
Now Kevin becomes the problem as he watches Kai run around the room, touching nearly everything. Kai isn't being malicious, and he's not willfully disobeying me. He's just not aware of himself. He's not thinking. And Kevin is driving me crazy, because every time he sees Kai about to touch something, he comes and tells me that Kai is going to touch something. You may think he's a responsible boy. I think he's a tattle-tale. Finally, I see Kai about to finger another of the paintings, and Kevin comes to tell me. I tell Kenny to go get Kai, and I kneel in front of Kevin and give him a swat. He starts to tear up, looking down at the floor. "Sweetie, it doesn't help me when you tell me that Kai's about to touch something but don't do anything about it. So, Kai is now your responsibility for as long as we're in the museum. It's your job to stop him from touching things. From now on, if he touches things, it's your fault. Understand?"
He nods, slowly, and I hug him. "Remember, Kevin. He's your responsibility." He nods.
high school English at a private boarding school in
"It's your job, Kevin, to control your brother." He nods.
To his credit, Kevin doesn't do anything draconian. He doesn't push or shove, doesn't hit, doesn't even raise his voice. He simply takes Kai's hand, and doesn't let go. It works like a charm, and the rest of the museum visit is a complete success, and we're there several hours. Kevin is a trooper. Kevin does his job.
Once we get out of the museum and cross the street to a park, Kevin lets go, and Kai takes off, running though the trees, through the grass. I hoist Kevin into my arms. "That was really good, Kev. You did very, very well with him. I'm proud of you. What kind of ice cream do you want when we get home?"
He giggles. "Durian." I wrinkle my nose. I hate durian, and Kevin knows it. But he loves it, as do Jason and Kenny.
"Yukkie...yukkie...YUKKIE!" I scream, twirling him around. Then I stop. "But, if that's what you want, okay. Durian it is!"
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