Disclaimer: This story contains sexual content of a homosexual nature between consenting teenagers. It is intended for mature audiences only. If you are under legal age, offended, or otherwise do not wish to view material of a frank and sexual nature do not read this story.
Author's Note: Thank you to all those who have written to me. I'm glad that you are enjoying this story as much as I am. Your constructive criticism is what I focus my progression on. Thank you again. This is a work of fiction. Many characters were inspired by real people. I would gladly appreciate any feedback. This includes constructive criticisms. Please send firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2005 by ube_licker
All Rights Reserved.
Chapter 15 -- Disco Inferno
What I liked about Max was the soft complexion of his skin. His light hair made his skin look softer somehow. It was probably the expensive lotion that he used that gave it that glow. The glitter on his back and chest made him look ethereal. His dilated green eyes also helped to mellow the soft and tangent flesh that covered his body. One flutter of an eyelash and he was a child again, caught with his hand in a cookie jar. A playful twinkle twitched itself on the fullness of his neck. The subtle movement of his lush lips inspired his body to move in the rhythm of his giggle. He covered his mouth in an attempt to suppress it. His soft skin shudders.
The man standing behind Max speaks, "You boy. Double tonight? Damn, get over here."
A greasy look of satisfaction overwhelmed the man as he groped his cock towards Max's chin. Still on his knees, Max continued to giggle.
"Actually, his parents are here. They found out what he's been up to and I think it's in your best interest to hide."
As quickly as I could think, I grabbed Max by the arm and dragged him out of the room. There was a split second of resistance that I felt from him, but it faded as clumsily as his laughter. It was clear to me now, from the beads of sweat that formed on his brow, that Max was under an influence. The man stood in his own state of confusion, but it at least gave me enough time to disappear into the herd of gyrating human bodies. My skin, arms, hands and legs brushed against theirs. I pulled Max with me, untangling him from the desperate grasps of intoxication. His bleach blond hair illuminated the dance floor, drenched in it like a diamond caught amongst the rough terrain of petty thoughts. I placed his arm around my shoulder and searched for an exit. Everything around us was a blur. Glow sticks, boys with make-up, shirtless, sweating, and in constant motion.
Then there was Kari. His strong face hid in the shadows, even as he approached us. A militaristic march was a good way of describing the way he walked. It was stiff, balanced and never wavering. Like a soldier walking through a field of explosive and dangerous mines. Dark eyes focused so clearly on us that it could cut through us like a sharp blade on a bar of soap. They could see right through you and tell you whether or not you were innocent or guilty, like a judge and jury. I couldn't help but wonder what he and Snowy were talking about earlier today. Hushed words and cold stares were all I could read from this stranger. I don't even remember seeing him in the halls of the school.
Max trembled. He was pale now, a mere ghost of the fierceness he used to be. An instant wrinkled brow and then he was lost again in his childishness. Without a word, Kari placed Max's other arm over his shoulder and together we kept his balance. He led us through a set of stairs. I wasn't paying attention anymore. The music was too loud and the lights were too blinding. All that I could see were shadows and figures, dancing, twirling and randomly swaying. Step by tedious step. It wasn't difficult and it wasn't as slow as it played in my mind. Max was sweating profusely. Saliva seeped through the side of his mouth. Or was that the release men get after the long awaited tension of pleasure? We got him into a dressing room.
There were several people there, and all of them were in the midst of changing or getting out of a form of clothing. Kari helped Max onto an old couch. He didn't even try to get up.
"He'll be fine in an hour."
Kari grabbed a bottle of water from the small fridge beside the couch.
"Shouldn't we take him to a hospital?"
He handed me a paper towel and I wiped the sweat and drool from Max's face.
"Are you fucking crazy? If he goes to the hospital questions will be asked and none of us are prepared to answer any of them. He's just having a bad reaction. I've seen this hundreds of times before. He'll be fine in an hour."
That was probably the coldest thing I've ever heard, but at least propriety got the better of him.
"You can call someone to pick him up."
He stood to reach deep into the pocket of his pants. After handing me an old cell phone he sat back on the couch beside Max and placed a cold wet face cloth over his forehead. I had to think quickly. Instinctively, my thumb dialed a distinct phone number. The conversation was short and the request was accepted, leaving me with a look of shame as I ultimately admitted where I was.
"So is someone coming?"
I placed his cell phone on the palm of his open hand.
He shifted his legs to place the electronic device back to where it came from.
"Good. My shift is over. I can stay with you till whoever gets their ass over here."
My fingers reached to scratch the back of my neck.
"Thank you, Kari."
"No problem. My original plan for tonight was to soak myself silly in alcohol, but that can wait till later."
He said this while looking over at Max. He placed a hand over the wet cloth, his fingers disappearing in the bleach blond strands. Max groaned with his eyes closed.
The apology was all I could offer. Kari held a bottle of water by the lips of the seemingly unconscious boy. Max's eyes were still closed but he took a few gulps.
"Don't be. At least you care."
A jolt of memory reminded me of why I was here. A series of questions began formulating in my brain.
"Kari, what exactly is wrong with Max?"
He almost let out a laugh.
"What do you think is wrong with him? Depressed rich boy decides to dig himself into a hole just so he could feel something, anything, besides the emptiness that engulfs his soul. I know, irony not withstanding. The difference between me and this Children of the Damn rip-off is that I didn't get to Montega's using my daddy's bank account."
That was not the answer that my question was intending to look for. However, the toll of it had taken me by surprise.
"You got to the school by scholarship, too?"
He smiled, "Did you think you were the only one? There are a few of us. And yes, I got to the school by getting referred and also taking an exam."
Excitement raced in my blood. Imagine being in a strange new world away from home and finding someone in your position. And as much as I wanted to talk about it, I knew that there was a more pressing matter at hand.
"I guess we have more in common than I thought. But that wasn't what I meant. What did Max take to get himself like this?"
Kari stood up and reached into his pocket. I thought he would pull out his cell phone again.
"He took these."
Instead he pulled out a Ziploc sandwich bag. A variety of tablets and pills in different shapes and colors dangled behind the clear plastic.
"I know what you're thinking, Ethan. But its easy money and it gets me through school."
Stay calm, I told myself. Stay collected. I crossed my arms and forced a relaxed facial expression on my face.
"Max got them from you?"
He put the Ziploc sandwich bag back inside his pocket and stared into space. If I followed his eyes they would be staring directly ahead of him towards the back of the dressing room. The boys there paid no attention to us as they left and came, dressed and changed. `Yes' was his only response. I decided not to question about the matter any further. Kari's eyes drifted back to Max. We were quiet for five minutes.
"This is a nice place," I finally said in hopes of breaking the morbid silence.
He was sitting again.
"It is. I don't know who came up with the idea. I always thought it was Cody, you know, the Montega graduate that stayed behind to expand his mother's casinos in Honolulu. But I think it was some other people in his class. I heard that they wanted a place for gay teens to meet up so they decided to build their own club. The focus changed when older people started coming and the group needed them to fund this place."
I sat by Max's feet.
"They didn't pay it with their own cash?"
"Are you kidding me? Their parents would combust if they knew their kids were spending their money on a place like this."
He flipped the face cloth.
"How exactly did they fund it?"
Kari stayed quiet. It was all starting to make sense now. The dancers, boys like Max, men like the guy Max was servicing, and even the Ziploc sandwich bag were all part of some business scheme to keep this place going. It also dawned on me that Kari wasn't the only one.
"Ok. I think I get it now. But can I ask you one last question before we drag Max out to where I'm supposed to meet our ride home?"
He laughed, "This quasi interview has been the only conversation we've had all night. But go for it anyway."
"Has Kyle ever been here?"
His eyebrow arched as if it caught wind of something snide and suspicious.
"Are you talking about the Pennington kid that was pushed off his balcony a while back?"
"Why would you ask if he's been here before? What's it to you?"
Thinking quickly was something that became more innate since I began working at the Dessert Bar.
"The holidays are coming up now and the student government is trying to make a special commemoration for the school Christmas special. I know it's more than a month away but I wanted to research as much as I could about Kyle because I'm in charge of writing Timmy's speech. I'm not going to say anything about this place but I just wanted to figure out who Kyle knew and met before he died."
"The Gold Members are still exploiting that poor kid's death, huh? Well, he did come here two weeks before his body was bagged. I was bouncer that night and I was shocked as hell to find him here. Just like you, he'd always been hanging around those white trash you call your friends."
"Did you sell him any of that stuff?"
He glanced at Max.
"I only sell what people ask."
* * *
We waited by the harbor for Naomi's car. Max had his arm around my neck. Kari had carried him on his back and left to go back into the warehouse. His time was wasted enough tonight and he needed a special nightcap before his lights were completely out. We were at a good distance away from Urges. I could still hear the pounding melodies, feel the crowded heat, smell the sweating bodies, and taste the salty atmosphere. It left a stench in my clothes. I suddenly felt self-conscious. Like a shame exposed by an open fly. Deep within, I could feel the eyes again, watching and waiting, and always full of hunger. We always fool ourselves into thinking that we're doing the right thing. But my father told me long ago that he'd walked the road to hell in which the best of intentions were paved on. I remember being left utterly confused, thinking that it had nothing to do with making the school basketball team. He was helping me train for the tryouts. After all these years, I was beginning to understand a single layer of what he was trying to teach me.
Max stood leaning against me. He groaned whenever a car passed us. We waited fifteen minutes before Naomi's headlights pierced our eyes. She wasn't driving of course. The area was unfamiliar to her. She had always stayed closer to the city with work and her daughter always taking up her time to explore. Mistakes can often do that to you. But they can also give you something that makes you happy. I should have anticipated his weary and disappointed look. He often gave me the same look every time I made a mistake. I imagined the sort of things he would say to me. It played in my head like a piece of an aria, maybe something like Orfeo. The vehicle approached and Max and I entered it. He stumbled to get in, sat, and leaned his bleach blond head against the opposite window. I had to remind him to use his seatbelt. It was warmer inside than out, and the environment was completely different from the warehouse. It was quiet. Naomi sat in the passenger seat. She smiled kindly and checked to make sure that Max was seated properly. Her exotic eyes lingered toward mine and she placed her hand on my knee with the full intention of assurance. And after a moment she had returned to her quiet place by the passenger seat, admiring the boats that passed us by. It made me think of Pierre and his yacht on the second night I came to the island. I had no idea what kind of world I'd be drawn into.
He had finally said something. I could only see his deep blue eyes through the rearview mirror. They were focused on the road before him, clear as glass.
"Very," I replied with unintended sarcasm.
Max groaned beside me. Naomi stayed quiet.
"Ettie, you don't have to tell me. But I still want you to explain."
His voice was firm. It was something he learned to mimic a long time ago.
"I was just curious, Lee."
My answer was met by a sigh. I looked out the window to see the restaurant that was frequently visited by the Gold Members. My thoughts floated towards football and other things.
"What's going on with you? Secret meetings with Sophie, joining student government under someone full of elitist crap, hanging out at raves with drug addicted nymphomaniacs, and letting that jerk treat you like dirt, even after the way he touches you... This isn't you."
He said all this with a hint of desperation in the tone of his voice. It strained the chords in my throat. I couldn't say a word to him.
Naomi turned her head to face him, giving him the same reassuring hand-on-lap she gave me earlier, "We've both been where Ethan is before. He's a teen, Liam. When are you going to let him be one?"
A smart woman can do that. She can take the world in front of your eyes, spin it and make it look different some how. It was Lee's turn to stay quiet.
His girlfriend tried to break the silence, "Anyway Ethan, how was that Halloween party that took you several weeks to plan?"
"It didn't go according to what we had in mind but I guess it turned out for the best. How's Alexis?"
"Like every girl her age, full of never ending questions and an imaginary friend. She named her Kimi. Apparently, she's pink and eats only candy."
She chuckled. I noticed that when Naomi mentioned her daughter's name, the tension between Lee and I was lifted, even only a little. The drive was quiet. But we had eventually gotten to the school.
The car stopped and before we got out Lee said, "I know I've been riding you hard all these years, and before anyone points out sexual connotations, I just want you to know that it's because I want what's best for you. I keep forgetting that you're not a twelve-year-old kid anymore, and that you can make your own decisions. But I'm still going to have my opinions, and I am still your legal guardian."
Maybe it was rude, but I really didn't have anything to say, so I simply nodded and helped Max out of the car. Naomi's hand was still on Lee's lap. I said goodbye to both of them and that I'd call later to tell them how Max was doing. Right now he was seeing things in the dark. I waved to the leaving car. The school's security guards greeted us by the gate. They told us how late it was and I came up with some excuse that they accepted with a grain of salt. The larger one asked what was wrong with my friend. I told them he wasn't feeling well. They led us to the main entrance of the school and told us to be quiet as we headed to our dorms. I accompanied Max to his. He was leaning on me, slowly regaining his strength. The hallucinations were becoming less and less. Reality was always harsher. His roommates were already in bed, tucked away in the security of slumber. Silver bangs rested by his brow. Sleep wasn't what he wanted. Not yet, anyway. We stayed in his balcony, sitting on lawn chairs. This was the side that did not have the ocean view. But we could still see the courtyard, the garden and the large gazebo. It was established by the gold members that they wanted to use the courtyard for the Thanksgiving picnic feast. It looked nice. There was even a small pond.
"You don't have to stay."
Max sat back on his lawn chair, arms folded.
"I don't think I'd be able to sleep either. Besides, I could use the company."
He scratched his knee. His fingers were still shaking.
"Everything is fuzzy. My head's still banging with noise."
My eyes were getting heavy, like a weight was attached to the eyelids.
"Have you done this sort of thing before?"
He gave me a short glaring stare.
"Yes. But I can never get used to it. It makes it easier though, this empty feeling inside of me. Sucks you dry, so you crave for more and sooner or later you're throwing up in the bathtub cursing the day you were born. `Poor little rich kid', is that what Kari called me? I don't remember. He was saying stuff to you."
I played with the bottom of my shirt, rolling it up and down.
"He said things. I was just buying some time."
"What were you doing there?"
A fly zoomed by my eyes. I tried smacking it dead.
"Curious, I guess."
He started laughing uncontrollably.
"Sorry. It's just funny to think about. And I guess curiosity goes hand in hand with being a virgin."
I looked away. He saw that.
"So you finally did it, huh? Did he pop your cherry?"
A sigh left my mouth, "I don't know if I'd use that term, but if you're saying what I think you're saying, then yes, I finally did it."
"Good. He was a good choice. He's good at what he does."
My cheeks heated. Something always makes me forget about who he had been intimate with.
"So how long have you been going to Urges?"
"Same week Kyle died. I needed to get my mind off of everything. After that stupid trip to the jungle, things began to look different to me. I was an idiot to think that Damien would care about me."
My brow wrinkled. It was like I was looking in the mirror and there was a blemish, full of color and ready to blow.
"You're not an idiot. How did you end up under their employment list?"
He smiled sideways.
"The first night I came there, I almost left immediately. There were a lot more `older' guys than I thought there would be. I mean they guys were as old as our teachers and they were perverted jerks that grab you everywhere when you're dancing. But then I saw this dancer. His name is Adam, and he had nothing on but a thong. I think he's half Middle-Eastern, but he was probably the sexiest looking thing I've ever seen. He danced around a pole and would only do more if the older guys strapped money on to him. And one by one I saw the other dancers. Some of them had nicknames like Hot Smoothie and Skittles. When I got to know them I found out it was because they shared the same name. All of them were hot as hell, and it was like the entire club as at the heels of their feet. They were so in control, of everyone, of everything. I wanted that. The control, I mean. I wanted guys to want me. It sounds so selfish."
Listening intently was getting harder as the minutes strolled by.
"How did you end up-"
"...Taking drugs? The public dances didn't earn as much money as the private ones. Our bosses wanted us to those as well. It was part of the requirement. The private ones also included extra favors that were very pricey. It's hard to do those extra favors when the person makes you feel uncomfortable. The drugs helped."
I nodded. Everything was beginning to make sense now.
"Did you find what you were looking for?" I asked him.
He gave me a puzzling look.
"What do you mean?"
"After everything you've done at Urges, did it really relieve you from the stress that brought you there?"
His gaze was at the courtyard now. We had this fountain in the center of it. The gazebo had a pathway that led to it.
"Not really. No."
Emerald green eyes quivered with a few blinks. I couldn't tell whether or not they were watery. They were still gazing somewhere in the courtyard. Like he was trying to find something that nobody knew was lost.
"There was this other guy there. He wasn't in tonight, but he's one of the regulars. When he put on a show it was like fireworks on the 4th of July. His stage name was Apollo, go figure. He's also the oldest guy there. When you talk to him he says annoying stuff like 90's pop culture references. But when he's on the floor in the middle of the club, doing a performance, it just blows you away. Night after night, he never tires, never gets boring, and always comes up with something new. I get it now, after watching him while I was there. You could be a complete loser during the day and be a star during the night. And when you're dancing, you're just so connected to everyone. It's like you're in a relationship, but without all the bull and obligation that comes with it. You can still be liked, admired, and lusted for, without getting too close for any of them to know you. When the lights go out, Apollo is the sexiest eye candy around, but after the sun comes up he's the guy who's still stuck in the glory of his high school days, back when everyone thought he was straight and they wanted to be his best friend."
The sprinklers in the courtyard had turned themselves on, spraying a mist of water of the green grass. It was telling me that it was already early in the morning.
"Is that really what you want, to be in control of the distance between you and the people who admire you?"
"I just want to be liked. Does that make me a bad person?"
My body stood. I needed sleep.
"Urges isn't any regular club. There's some illegal stuff happening there and you really don't want to get caught up in that. I don't think there's any problem with wanting to be liked or having fun dancing, but if it's cutting into your school and friendships then there's something you have to deal with."
He nodded, staring into space.
"Are you heading to bed now?"
"Yeah, but not before I ask you one last thing. I'm writing a memorial speech about Kyle and someone told me that he'd been to Urges a week or two before he died. Do you know anyone who's seen him there?"
He wrinkled his brow.
"I don't know why that would be important but one of the Joshes was talking about it. I can't remember who. I was probably drunk or high at the time."
"Remember those two dancers I mentioned with the nicknames Hot Smoothie and Skittles? One of them was talking about it. It was most likely Skittles. That guy has a gossip problem. He goes to our school too. Anyway, he said Kyle went there to meet up with some guy. Skits hadn't seen the other guy, but he was telling us how excited Kyle was. He then made fun of me and said that's exactly how I got every time I was around Damien. Jackass. Kyle didn't say much about this guy he was supposed to meet. But Skits thought it might have been someone in the school."
After I left Max's room, I thought carefully of the information he and Kari had given me. Traces of LSD were found in Kyle's body. The only place where students could get their hands on the stuff was the warehouse where Max had been hiding every night for the last couple of months since the trip to the jungle. Kari sells the drugs to make money. But Kari hadn't mentioned that he had sold any to Kyle. Performers like Max used the drug while they were... performing. Kyle wasn't a performer of any sort. But he was at urges and had been there to go on a date. Urges was a strange place to go on a date. Though, people always do strange things when they think they've fallen for someone. But I guess people do stranger things when your fall is broken or rejected.
I stared at the empty desk and gazed at the empty chair. The bell would ring soon. I sighed. Mr. Buchanan was already beginning to write something on the board. Joe and Bobby were trying to hold in their laughs. And I was suffering from a slight migraine. Lack of sleep can do that to you.
My stomach grumbled. Food didn't mix well inside my tummy when I was tired. A string of memories flowed in my mind's eye. Back when I small my mother would always cook a special chicken soup whenever my stomach had a weird ache. If I didn't finish it then she would save it for my father. There was an inside joke about that special soup. We never got a chance to hear the story.
"I made it!" Max squealed as he entered the classroom.
"And I'm on time too."
Mr. Buchanan beamed, "Long time no see, Max. I thought you had ceased to exist."
Max laughed along with the class.
"Am I failing?"
Mr. Buchanan turned back to the chalkboard.
"No. But you aren't exactly passing either."
Max still stood by the doorway.
"I promise to do all the assignments I've missed and some extra ones if you allow me."
Our teacher was taking his time to write out each letter on the blackboard.
"You have until Friday. Talk to me after class."
He said this while facing the chalkboard. But we could all tell that he was smiling and trying to hide it. Max walked over to his seat.
He passed me by and said, "Don't worry. He'll be here."
I smiled too and shook my head.
"I'm glad you're back, Max."
He took his seat and opened his notebook.
"Thanks, Ethan. I'm glad I'm back too."
An open window and a board full of chalked words. That was a different world than the lights of song and dance that Max was now accustomed to. When you're on an island, resting against the drop of infinite ocean, the paradise can overwhelm you. Here in Oahu, set apart from the rusty daydream of a blue collar social outcast, lies the foundation of what most people attempt to enchant themselves with. Maybe that's why dancers dance the way they do. Because disillusionment can be the hardest thing an honest person can do. It can be even harder when you believe your living in paradise.
The bell had rung. He was late again. I hadn't talked to him much since that rainy Halloween night. I tried to tell myself that he'd been busy, and that I'd been busy too. Deep down I knew he was trying to avoid me again. It almost made me laugh. He had invited me over later this week. I wonder if he was excited about meeting again as I was. Maybe he hated me for my weakness. He probably makes fun of me behind my back. I don't know why, but whatever feeling he was making me feel, it made me want to disappear. I didn't want to be wrong. But if I were to be truthful, then I would say that whatever it was he made feel it was very insecure, like a noose being tied around my neck, the rope squeezing the veins till they popped. Maybe if my heart pounded hard enough, it would implode and I wouldn't have to worry whether or not he even cared. Lee was right. My brother was right. I had changed. Funny how a person can make you want to fly and disappear at the same time. The second one seemed easier to do. The first one looked tricky, like a dance to a never ending song.