As I examined my swollen lip in the mirror, I knew I needed to stop this, but I didn’t know how. Had I become addicted? The floor felt dirty beneath my feet. What was it anyway? I stepped into the motel room shower and washed my crotch and ass. The lube he had used had dried to a sticky consistency, and it took three lathers and rinses before I felt that I had washed it away.
I got dressed and stuffed the money into my sock. My dorm was a little over a mile away from the Motel 6. It was five in the morning, with a misty fog blanketed the ground. I decided the walk would do me good. I started, glad that there was a sidewalk the entire way to my dorm. With each step, the soreness seemed to abate, but I continued to argue with myself as to whether I should keep doing this thing, and I thought back to how this had started.
I was eighteen and in my first semester of college. A large portion of my savings was already gone just paying for the tuition; half of it would be gone by Christmas paying for room and board. I needed a job to make it through the end of the first year, but part-time work was rare in this town, and the pay was often meager.
The campus had a gay men’s club, and I had joined, hoping to find friends, perhaps love, and if not that, at least some sex. The other guys turned into friends rather than lovers, and I was with a few of them at a gay hangout not far from campus. The place only served alcoholic drinks to members, and you couldn’t be a member without being at least twenty-one years of age.
So, I had finished a Dr. Pepper, and I was considering getting another one when I realized that I didn’t have enough money to pay for the drink and the nachos I wanted to order. My friend Pete had offered to share his, and he went off to purchase some. The other guys didn’t seem as stressed about cash as I was. Life sure is different when your parents accept you and are willing to help out a little.
While Pete was gone, a nice-looking man in his thirties sat down next to me. I sized him up to be about six feet tall and about two hundred pounds. He had a pleasant face and wore a suit jacket; although, he had no tie on his button-down shirt. He smiled at me. “Low on cash, huh?” he stated rather than asked.
I smiled. “Typical college student,” I admitted, wondering whether he was going to ask me to dinner.
Pete sat down and placed a small paper container of nachos in front of me. He had another paper tray of nachos in his hand. I guess he had split the order in two. “Thanks,” I said.
Pete gave the man a quick scan before looking over at me. “I’m going to talk to Mike.”
I nodded to acknowledge that I heard him, and he walked away.
“Yeah,” my new companion replied. “I remember those days. How about I take you out for a real meal.”
I picked up a nacho and showed it to him. “I’ve got some dinner right here.” I tossed the nacho into my mouth and smiled.
“I’m Roger,” the stranger said. “And you’re…”
“Aaron,” I replied after swallowing.
“I was about to say that you’re really attractive.” He rubbed his index finger on my upper arm and lowered his voice. “Nice dinner, go back to my hotel, have some fun. I can help subsidize your education.”
I stared into his eyes in disbelief. They were beautiful eyes.
“A couple hundred if you stay the night.”
A couple of hundred dollars, I thought. I could certainly use it. The dollar signs took over. “OK,” I nodded. I’m pretty sure that I’d have agreed to go with him even without the cash offer.
He stood up, and I stood up. I saw Pete looking at me from next to the pool table. I raised my hand to let him know I was going, and I followed Roger to his car.
Roger kept his word. I had a nice meal at a quiet Thai restaurant. He kissed me gently when we got back to his room at a Hilton Garden Inn. He marveled at the size of my dick, telling me he’d never sucked one that size. I think he was just being nice because I’m just under seven, uncut, and only a little on the thick side, but he certainly loved sucking it. When he fucked me, he had no qualms about using a condom. He was gentle, and he kept kissing me. He wasn’t muscular, but he was toned and strong. When he held me in his arms, I felt warm and safe. In the morning, he licked the back of my neck while he took me from behind. Then he showered and asked me if he could drop me off. I showered as well, and when I walked away from his car and back to my room, I had three hundred dollars in my pocket. He told me the extra hundred was because I was fun to cuddle with. I gave him my number for the next time he was in town, and when I turned to wave goodbye, I saw his hands on the steering wheel, and the left one had a ring on it. I didn’t remember seeing a ring the night before. I felt a pang in my chest. If I told my friends, they would say I was a rent boy, but I felt more disgusted with myself than that.
I was officially a whore.
I may not have felt good about what I was doing, but it was easier to say yes the next time. Plus, I loved the money. I almost had enough to pay for all of my tuition, fees, and room and board. I wanted a little bit more to fund me for the first few months after school. But walking up the steps that day, I had a completely different view of things. My ass cheeks ached from being squeezed and pulled apart by his vice-grip fingers. The brief pleasure of being rimmed had been quickly replaced when he shoved two fingers into my ass.
My lip hurt where the man had hit me. The side of my head felt funny. My neck was sore from being strangled. My ass ached, not from being stretched as his dick was rather short and thin, but from the force of his penetration and his relentless thrusting. The man was angry with someone or something, and he took it out on me. At least he paid me the money we had agreed on. I wondered whether it was worth it. He’d told me he wanted some rough stuff, and I agreed as I thought about the extra cash. I felt my eyes burn and fill with tears as I realized that it wasn’t worth it.
The blurred face of the man coming down the steps looked familiar, and as he got closer, I recognized Shane from my geology class. I remembered fantasizing about him after meeting him. “Shane. Shane. Come back. Come fuck me. Shane.” Of course, I wasn’t about to tell him about those daydreams.
“Aaron?” he called out and stepped over to me. “Are you OK, man?”
“Yeah,” I lied.
“You don’t look it. Did you get into a fight?”
“You should see the other guy,” I replied with a chuckle. “Not a scratch on him.”
“You shouldn’t kid around. Your lip is swollen and your cheek is bruised.”
I’d forgotten that he had slapped me a few times. Hard.
“Come on. Let’s go to my room, and we’ll put a cool rag on it.”
“That’s nice of you, but…”
“No arguing,” Shane cut me off. “Are you injured anywhere else? Did you get punched in the gut? Maybe we should take you to the clinic.”
“Just sore,” I told him. “Why are you out this early? And on a Saturday.”
“I go walking. At home, I bike.” He pushed the button on the elevator. The doors opened instantly. We got in.
In the light of the elevator, I could see how good he looked in a recent haircut. “I like the haircut,” I told him. “Very sexy.” Oh, shit, did I actually say that. He wasn’t paying for my time; I didn’t need to say that. I wasn’t thinking clearly. But it was true; he did look sexy.
He turned and looked at me. A few strands from his bangs sprang forward. Why had I not noticed how extra-handsome he was before now? Sure, he was the stuff of a daydream, but as I looked at him now, he could be the stuff of lifetime commitment. He had beautiful green eyes that went with his dark red hair. They contrasted with his pale skin; the few freckles adorning his nose were adorable. I felt a twinge in my crotch, and I had the urge to kiss him, but I refrained.
“Do you…” he paused and faced forward. The doors opened, and we walked in silence to his room. I followed him inside, and he pointed to his bed. It was neatly made, and I sat on the edge. He ran some cold water on a washcloth, squeezed the excess, and gently placed it on my cheek. His closed–mouth smile seemed forced. “You think my haircut is sexy?” he finally said.
“Very,” I replied. No sense in lying now.
His smile became more genuine.
I decided to risk more. “But then, so are you.”
Shane’s eyes moistened and reflected the early morning light that streamed through the single window. “No, I’m not. You don’t have to say that.” He shook his head and stood. “Don’t tease me, Aaron.” He prepared another washcloth.
I stood up as well. “Listen, Shane. I’m gay. I know which guys I find sexy and which guys I’m attracted to. You, my friend, are sexy. Don’t think otherwise. If my lips weren’t hurting, I’d ask you whether you were gay, and if you said yes, I’d kiss you.” I sat back down.
“And if I weren’t gay?”
“I’d still want to kiss you, but of course, straight guys only want blowjobs.”
“All guys want blowjobs,” said Shane.
“I don’t suck straight dicks,” I smiled as I said it.
“Only crooked ones?” Shane countered, smiling back. There was an awkward moment of silence. He stepped away. “I’m gay, too,” he said. I heard his voice quiver. He faced away from me. “I’ve never said that out loud, and I’m not sure why I said it just now.”
I stood again and stepped beside him, taking his hand in mine. “I understand.” Even in his weakest moment, Shane exuded a manliness that I couldn’t explain but that made me want him.
“Go sit down and close your eyes.”
He placed the damp cloth over my left eye and held it there.
We sat next to one another for a few more silent moments before he began to talk. “I’ve been so afraid to say anything. I didn’t want my parents to hate me, and I didn’t know what to do. I’ve seen a few guys on campus that have made me want to say something, but when I saw you in class, I wanted to tell you and go out on a real date and everything, but I’m ugly, Aaron. I hate my red hair and freckles and all.”
I grabbed his hand again and held it. “You’re confused. What you find attractive in other guys is not what you look like. That doesn’t make you ugly. It just means you’re not your type. You are my type, though. I think you’re really handsome. And so do other guys.”
“I didn’t figure I’d ever say anything to you, but today when I saw you and you were hurt, I just had to try to help you. And in the elevator when you looked at me and told me you liked my hair.” He shook his head and covered his face with his hands. “I’m such a fucking loser.”
“OK, wait right there. You are not a loser.” I took both of his hands in mine. “Look at me. You are not a loser. If there’s a loser in this room, it’s me. The truth is that I’ve been sleeping with men for money. I started to do it to help pay for school. The guy that slapped me around last night paid me money, and I let him hit me. I didn’t realize he was going to hit me that hard. I’m nothing but a whore. My soul is tainted, soiled.” For the first time, the words stung me down to the core of my being. I fought back the tears. “You’re a decent guy, Shane. You deserve another decent guy. That guy isn’t me no matter how much I’d like it to be.” I got up to leave. “Join the gay men’s club. There are a lot of decent guys who’d love to go out with a great guy like you.”
I walked out of Shane’s room without looking back at him. I didn’t want to see his reaction. I was embarrassed and humiliated. I went back to my room and cried. How could I have done the things I’d done for money? I really was just a piece of shit, just like my parents said.
That afternoon, the right side of my face was bruised enough for even the most unobservant to notice. I hurried down to lunch, got my fill, and returned to my room as quickly as possible. When I came back, I noticed the folded five hundred dollars on my desk, and I went into the shower again to try to wash away the guilt that permeated my soul. Afterward, I lay on my bed naked. The cold air from the air conditioner made me shiver, but I had convinced myself that I deserved it. I wondered whether someone could die from exposure in his own dorm room.
I’m not sure how long I lay there, but my teeth had begun to chatter. I wondered how many people knew what I was doing. Pete knew. He’d been there the first time; how many others had he told? What’s it called when the desire to go on living disappears? It’s not that I wanted to do away with myself because I certainly didn’t. I just wasn’t sure I had the energy to go on.
A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts. The guys from the club were probably getting ready to go out and wanted to know if I wanted to go as well. I didn’t, so I didn’t move. The knocking continued. I stood and grabbed the towel that I had thrown on the foot of the bed. I wrapped it around my waist and opened the door.
Shane stood, silent and serious.
I said nothing, studying his eyes. They were locked with mine.
“Invite me in,” he said flatly.
I blocked his entry for about ten seconds before moving to the side. Nothing good can come of this, I told myself, but sometimes the only way to get to the other side is to push through. Shane walked into the room and stood next to my bed. I pressed the door closed and locked it; I didn’t want anyone else walking into the room. Turning to face him, I suddenly realized that I was naked except for my towel.
“I need to put something on,” I said.
Shane turned toward the window, and I quickly slipped into some underwear and gym shorts.
“Just need a t-shirt now,” I said more to myself than to him.
“How about that NASA one? You look good in that one.”
I looked over to the window to see Shane looking at me.
“You look good without it, too,” Shane added.
I grabbed the gray NASA tee from the drawer and put it on. I said nothing as I moved over to my bed and sat on the edge. My eyes moved up to Shane and then back to the ground. I sucked my lower lip into my mouth and pressed against it with my upper teeth.
Shane stepped in front of me. “Tell me, when you were with these other guys, were you always safe.”
The question startled me. I didn’t want to talk about it, but I felt compelled to tell him. “They always wore condoms. I insisted on it.”
“Good. We should still get you tested. We can go to the clinic on Monday. I’ll get tested, too, even though I’m still a virgin.”
“You don’t need to do that.” My voice was calm and low.
“No. I think we should do it together,” he said. “And, in three months, we’ll go it again.” He sat down next to me; the bare skin of his leg, just above the knee, pressed against mine. His flesh was warm, and I felt a calmness begin to develop within me.
I turned my head toward his and studied his face. The arched brow that framed his beautiful eyes and his straight perfectly sized nose were mere suggestions of the wonderful man I knew him to be. I filled my lungs with a deep breath, still unable to express what I was feeling, to tell him of the ugliness that I believed had taken me over.
Almost as if he knew my thoughts, he took my hand. “Aaron, whatever happened before today, before right now, is the past. We’ll deal with the consequences.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“You know, the testing, the bruises. But I refuse to believe that you’re tainted. We’re allowed to make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move on.”
I nodded slowly; he was right. Maybe I wasn’t dirty; maybe I was just a victim of my poor judgment. Maybe knowing that he was willing to give me a chance would help me realize that I wasn’t worthless and that my parents were wrong.
“I’d like to lie down next to you and hold you. I’d like you to hold me. Nothing more. We don’t have to talk, or we can talk. I’m not looking for sex. Not now at any rate. I’m hoping we will be celibate for three months, until after the second test. As strong as my feelings for you are right now, I expect them to grow. As for your feelings, I know you’ll be honest with me.
I smiled at him. I think it was the first genuinely happy smile that I’d had in months. I stood and walked over to the light switch, and looking back at Shane, I nodded my head. He kicked off his shoes, and I clicked the switch. Reaching into the closet, I retrieved my extra blanket. I shook it open as I approached Shane. “In case we get cold,” I whispered.
“Let’s snuggle under it,” he said as he reached up and brushed my cheeks with his fingertips. He slid himself back and over, and I pulled the blanket over us as I rested my head on his shoulder. His right arm moved up and down my back, and my right arm made little circles on his chest.
“Three months is not that long,” he said. “Is it?”
I wasn’t going to lie to him. It would be an eternity.