Introduction: we met Charles on the beach this morning, and now we meet him again in the local gay bar. Charles will take us to a "party" of his new friend, Godehart Wagner. We're not the only ones being invited...but first, Charles and John discuss sharing an apartment for a few days.

"It's not a big place, we need some ground rules," I say to Charles. "I have a spare room." I suddenly realize that my father is expected in a week, my parents are divorced, my father visits once a year, in the summer of course, for a few days, until we have a terrible fight and he leaves.

"I don't have a spare room, actually, at least not next week. My father is coming." I correct myself.

"Did you come out to your parents?" Charles wants to know.

I did come out, of course, you're not a full citizen of rainbow country unless you come out to your parents (there are a few exceptions, think of Southern Baptists), but I kept it very official, and my parents never met any of my friends, or partners, or whatever you call people you have sex with.

"Your bed is large enough, right, or do you want me to sleep with your father?"

"The bed in the spare room is very small," I say.

"Your father is gay?"

"Give it a try," I say lightly. I have no idea how to handle this situation, my father won't be amused, who knows, perhaps we have our fight on the first evening, and dad would leave, which would solve our problems.

"Look," he says, "we're here so we can go to a gay party where we are supposed to have sex, right? Wasn't that the idea? Your bed should be large enough for the two of us."

"You know how it is with casual sex," I say, "even with repeats, you don't know whether you want to meet that person again. Normally, you don't."

"We don't have to have sex, if I can masturbate in private, or in public, for that matter." He laughs.

"It's more than that, you just don't want to be in touch anymore."

"But you already promised," he says, "Didn't you."

He's uncool in his British ways, pleads like a child. Is he always like this? He's not your usual trick. Besides, if he would match the usual one-night stand, the case that requires disposal along with the used condom, I would know by now.

"I can stay chaste," he adds. "I lie next to you, and you lie next to me, and I have an erection, and you have an erection, but nothing happens since we did it before, twice even, or three times, depending how often we'll have sex tonight, and depending on whether our first encounter qualifies as proper sex, but nothing happens because we did it already, and gays can't go steady, they must change their partner every night, so we don't have sex, and stay chaste while lying next to each other with our boners, until each of us sneaks out to the bathroom to seek some relieve, somehow unsuccessfully trying to hide his hard-on in the process."

He's quite cheerful now, my promise to save his life has raised his spirits a lot. I'm also getting more cheerful. "In the process," I repeat his last words.

"Going forward," he answers.

"Touching base." We both laugh.

"Do you take people home a lot?" he asks.

"I used to, I say, not any longer."

"Look," he says, "it may be only for a few days, I'll have to make something up, go back to Torquay. I can't stay here."

"OK," I say without further disambiguation.

Ray interrupts, he's taking his usual break from the darkroom, looking for somebody to buy him another drink. Apparently he couldn't find anybody else, that's why he ends up outside, in the garden, under our tree. His hair's salt and pepper, he's covered with the stench of Greyhound waiting rooms, and worse, nobody to buy him a drink, it's really tragic, actually, if you think this through. I've just saved Charles' life, I'm on the narrow path to a better future that will include Charles and more partying, I can buy Ray another beer.

I'm back with the drinks. I wonder whether Ray knows about this party, I guess not. No, he has no idea. There's a generation gap now in Georgia Beach, or something to do with trends, or in-crowds, to which neither Ray nor I belong. I'll ask Charles about the party. Who's the host? "Godehart Wagner," he says, "a rich guy from Germany. He inherited this place a few months ago. This is his home warming party."

"Wagner," I say, "like the composer."

"Yes, exactly, he is family, actually, but some disowned branch of the family. Fifth generation."

"How do you know him," I ask.

"Sheer coincidence, as usual," he replies, "we were changing planes in Atlanta. We met in the waiting room for the commute down here. His gait. My raised eyebrows. His hesitation. 'Is this seat taken,' he asks with an accent that holds the middle between German and camp. 'It's not, of course,' I reply, drawling out the 'of course.' There's no time to think. 'Will you excuse me,' I say, I have to go to the restroom, drawling out the 'restroom.'

'So do I,' he plays back. So we're off to the restroom, I lead, he follows, various eyes are following us. Atlanta provides good privacy in its toilet stalls, most airports do these days, everybody wants to be the best airport in the world, lots of airline personnel around, they're all gay, they need these facilities dearly, better to provide privacy to them than to leave innocent travelers exposed to the irrepressible things that happen when less innocent people meet in poorly isolated stalls."

"So the stall was well insulated," Ray asks impatiently.

"Yes. I was quite satisfied. His dick is long and thin, you will meet him tonight. What can I say? The usual thing. You want to know more?"

"Yes," Ray answers. Visual or verbal, he wants to know.

"Well, pants drop, the usual top-bottom question, he hands me a Trojan Premium Latex, they're the best, specially made for anal intercourse, very well lubricated, which I put on as he watches, which constitutes Act I. Wait, let me retract briefly. They do a lot of background music at the Atlanta airport, also in the bathrooms, and you know what they played for us? Wagner, Valkyrie. I didn't recognize it, but Godehart told me. Valkyrie is very stimulating, I can tell you, try it yourself. So, he raises the toilet seat, climbs on the edge of the bare bowl, turns around, squats, I put my hands under his arm pits for stability; Act II. Penetration, excitement to the score of Valkyrie; Act III. Some suppressed heavy breathing, I come, release; Act IV. He jerks, turns around, comes in my mouth; Finale. Very considerate of him to come in my mouth and not over my face, I wouldn't have had much time to clean up. We arrive back at the gate just in time, eyes following us. It's this thing with sex, people have a sixth sense for it, especially women.

You don't have a seat assignment on this commute, so we sit together. He tells me his life story. He's from a disowned branch of the Wagner family, but somehow, he still holds some rights to the Wagner name. Not for the music, of course, the music is public domain, but in some way, Wagner's name is still protected under German law, some special law that the Nazis passed, and he makes his money with Wagner mugs, and Wagner busts, and that themed stuff that you find in tourists shops. And leather shorts, Bavarian leather shorts, with the Wagner motive, you know these pants that they wear when they wear undersized fedoras with a feather at the band, on TV, and they dance to the tune of a Bavarian square dance, some jodler, and slap their thighs to the rhythm of the music, you know that thing if you ever watched German TV. It does not matter when you switch to a German channel, it's always men in Bavarian leather shorts, slapping their thighs."

"Impossible."

"Mind you, they don't dance to Wagner music, just a jodler."

"But the Wagner theme, how do you combine this with leather shorts?"

"Good question, no idea."

"Do you know whether Wagner was gay, too?"

"Actually I asked Godehart. Wagner wasn't officially gay, but he had an affair with the young king of Bavaria, Ludwig the Second, Godehart told me. Ludwig made Wagner's career, in fact, he underwrote his productions, and built opera houses for him. Wagner would not have made it without Ludwig. So perhaps Wagner wasn't gay, perhaps it was just casting-couch activity of an ambitious composer. But we can't be so sure. Wagner and Ludwig exchanged a lot of letters, quite explicit, quite passionate ones, the jury is out on that one."

"How do you know?"

"Godehart told me, I asked pointed questions."

"Always nice to learn about another confrère."

"That's the word, confrère."

"I mean it in two ways," I say. "Meeting someone who asks pointed questions. That's also a confrère. Nobody asks pointed questions these days. You're a confrère in more than one sense, and Wagner might also be a confrère, in more than one sense even, provided he asked pointed questions."

We both laugh. Ray doesn't laugh, but he's happy too and swills his beer. "You kept in touch," I observe.

"I told him I would work at the tourist office. He dropped by the other day, invited me. In the meantime, I had seen him a few times here at the club. We're friendly. " He looked at his watch. Let's go, he said.

"You're going to this party, where everybody is invited, except me?" Ray asks.

"I wasn't invited either, I tell Ray, I just happened upon this British gentlemen in the morning who extended an invite on behalf of the host."

Ray, who isn't bright, but very sensitive, has his moments. "I can imagine," he said.

"You want to come?" Charles asks Ray.

"Why not?" Ray answers.

I'm almost at the point of saying to Charles, 'Can I have a word with you,' but Charles, somehow, has already gauged my misgivings. "I know what you think," he says to me. "Don't worry, it'll work out, I'll explain to

Godehart, he will understand."

We're off to the party next door. We're not the only ones. The Blue Moon empties.

 

John Kok

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