Joey wakes me as we descend into the dawn-lighted brown haze of the LA basin.
“You won’t notice this brown crap once you’re on the ground. Everybody’s too busy with their own lives to worry about the shit they’re breathing.”
As we pass through the terminal, I notice that a lot of people have time to notice me with open stares and glances. I’m just wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. I can’t figure why I get so many looks. Joey gives the cabbie an address on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills. “It’s really West Hollywood,” he confides, “but everyone here is upwardly mobile.”
We drive past modest homes and commercial buildings that are unremarkable. The LA light makes everything seem faded and muted, as New York seems grey and colorless, all compared to the white glare of South Florida. Joey points out a low building on a major corner as Doug’s club.
“What kinda club?”
“Rock n Roll, my man. What other kind is there?”
“Like the Whiskey a GoGo?”
‘You got it, except that’s up the street on the Strip.”
“Yah, yah, yah. Ya gonna ask tourist questions all day?”
I shut up. Soon we stop in front of a large house, close to the street. Joey jumps out and soon returns with a twenty for the cab. We walk into the dark, cool house.
“Doug says we should first get some sleep, but let me show ya around. Want some OJ?”
We go into the kitchen and help ourselves.
“Check out the backyard,” as Joey slides open a glass door to the patio and a large enclosed yard. There was a pool and Jacuzzi. Set away from the house, a large makeshift structure that looks like a Wild West Indian tee-pee.
“Check it out, man,” and Joey leads me into a dark crash pad. I can hear the breathing of several sleeping boys, spread around the tee-pee.
“You have to sleep out here,” I ask.
“Naw, man. I got my own room. This is like the bullpen. Doug’s always bringing in new talent, ‘cept they’re more like steers than bulls.”
“I guess I am in the Wild West.”
“Only in Doug’s fantasies. Com’n back to the house. We’ll crash there.”
He takes me to a small room, with twin beds, promptly diving under the covers. He points me down the hall when I ask about the john. Returning, I jump under the covers with him.
“I thought you were straight. What’ll Tina say?”
“You’ll always be my first love, Joey. Now you’re my pimp.”
Snuggle up to him, I’m asleep in seconds.
When I awake and stretch, I first think I’m with Scott. Realizing it’s Joey, I feel a twinge of missing Scott. I throw off all the covers. My stirring wakes Joey up.
“When ya gonna stop wearing those weird orange bikinis?”
“Well, I hope you’re not Swifty in bed. I promised Doug he’d get his money’s worth.”
“That big old thing of yours not working too quick? Failing to reach the old orgasm?” I tease.
“You boys aren’t planning to leave Uncle Doug out of the action?” an older man with long flowing hair speaks from the doorway.
We jump up with Joey’s monster dick swinging side to side.
“Let’s see how you brothers compare.”
I stand there as Joey pulls my Speedo down. The teasing had engorged the head of my dick, while the shaft still hangs down.
“Jesus, Joey, he’s bigger than you. At least you can tell you’re peas from the same pod.”
“More like corn cobs or cucumbers, Doug.”
“Why don’t you cool it, while I get to know your brother better,” he motions Joey out of the room.
With Joey gone, I feel ill at ease. I decide to be positive and ask him about his club.
“Oh, we’ll get you there tonight. A new band is playing, Motley Crew.”
“I haven’t heard of them. They sound English”
“You into rhythm and blues rock? You’ll like them. Crazy guitarist and crazy singer.”
He asks me how the adventure in New York went. I proceed with a detailed account of the rescue of Tito, with expanded coverage of Joey’s role. I jump up from the bed, waving my arms about, re-enacting the chase to the subway scene. Doug keeps smiling at my exaggerated gestures. I forget that I am doing this pantomime in the nude. I observe that Doug is slight of build, with hair that is turning grey. It assures me that nothing is going to happen without my consent and approval.
“Now that you’ve cooled off, I can see that Joey is bigger than you,” he remarks, while staring at my relaxed cock, “but it’s plenty to be proud of.”
I turn red and sit on the bed, chagrined at my antics.
“So, do you love this Tina?”
“I don’t know. I love several people, including Joey; I was even in love with him for a while. I got over that. Love seems to hurt a lot, especially, at the end. It makes sex better. It always gets messed up for me. I know I had to help Tina with her problem, but we’ve never made love.”
“Do you have to be in love to have sex?”
“Well, maybe that’s how I got messed up with Joey. We had sex, then I thought I was in love. I guess I was immature at fourteen. He straightened it out for me.”
“How? I never thought of him as particularly straight.”
“We had so much sex one weekend that by the time my dick wore out, so had my feelings.”
“So, you’re not so immature at fifteen?”
“Actually, I’m sixteen now.”
“So, can you have sex without being in love?”
I embarrass him, so I quickly add, “Well, I came out here to have sex with you, to thank you for helping me.”
He looks at me with a smile. “I’m just trying to get to know you. You’re so natural. You don’t realize what an effect that has on people like me.”
“It seemed like everyone was staring at me at the airport.”
“Everyone in LA is always on the make. Don’t lose your openness or you’ll become conceited.”
I don’t quite understand his advice, so I jump in the direction we’re going.
“The answer to your question about love and sex is to go ahead and have sex, then see how we feel.”
He looks sharply at me, then leans in and kisses me. His beard gives me a start, reminding me of being kissed by my grandfather as a little boy. I half-expect to smell the tobacco from Granddad’s pipe that still lingers in Joey’s old room. Without me kissing back, he moves away, staring at me with amused attention.
“I guess we should take another tack. Put your suit back on and we’ll get into the Jacuzzi. I like the sweet, sour smell of adolescence, but you need a bath.”
“Yeah,” I agree, quickly grabbing my Speedo from the floor. He smiles as I pull it on over what was again a half hard-on.
We walk into the bright afternoon. Several boys are lounging by the pool, watching covertly as we turn on the Jacuzzi. It’s agonizingly hot but quickly turns comfortable. Doug proves adept at massage. I’m soon floating while he works out the kinks in my neck, back, legs and feet. I sit in front of him as he continues to rub my back. It takes only a few minutes for him to get off. It’s so gentle and over so quickly, I hardly get hard. He holds me a few moments longer. Turning around, I see his beaming smile as affirmation that it’s been perfect.
“Do you want to get off, too?” he asks.
“That was so nice. I’ll wait until next time.”
“You’re not required, you know. This takes care of the airfare.”
“I don’t want to think of it that way. I’ve never been screwed so gently.”
Then we kiss, with passion this time.
“You’re a wonder,” he beams.
Getting out of the hot tub, several of the boys by the pool, clap in appreciation of our performance. I turn red realizing we were watched. Doug roars at them, pointing to the tee-pee. They jump up in what seems like terror. Taking me with him, we follow them to the tee-pee.
Inside the six naked boys cower in submission, as Doug sits in a ceremonial chair. I sit at his feet. He takes out a short bull whip and cracks it in the air. The boys jump up and form a dancing circle in front of us, whooping and crying out as Doug snaps the whip. The faster he cracks, the more manic they dance, with the boys beating themselves and each other, whirling around the room.
Doug stands up. Using the whip directly on the whirling group for the first time, the lash snaps on one of the dancers. The boy immediately falls to the floor, as Doug whips him again and again, As soon as he stops, the other boys rush in and continued the beating with their hands and feet. Doug cracks the whip in the air. The boys grab the fallen boy, lifting him over their heads, continuing their circle dance in front of us. Again, the whip cracks, and the boy is dumped at our feet. Doug sits in his chair, while two boys rush to a chest by the door. An Indian Chief’s bonnet and a peace pipe are presented to him. As he takes the pipe and begins to fill a bowl (marijuana I presume), the feathered bonnet is lowered onto his head. Another boy fires up the bowl, as Doug takes a deep drag. Leaning over the fallen boy, Doug exhales the smoke into his lungs, as if giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The pipe is passed to each boy, who in turn exhale into the prone boy. I’m the last in this ceremony. As I exhale, I look into the boy’s confused, unfocused eyes. The drug hits my brain. He slyly winks at me, filling me with relief. Unlike the others, I take another hit from the pipe, jump up and begin my own improvised warrior’s dance. The prone boy jumps up and begins to dance with me. Doug and the other boys join us. Soon everyone is whooping and hollering around the teepee. Without a signal, they grab my arms and legs and carry me over their heads. Out of the teepee and into the pool I go, followed by all the others. I feel released into my own element and begin doing somersaults in the deep end. The others sit on the side, watching my water antics. I feel like Flipper. The excess energy drained, I do several laps of butterfly, and then stop alongside Doug.
He smiles at me and asks, “Have you ever heard of Burroughs’ Wild Boys?”
“Sounds like us.”
“He describes boys breathing life back into their dead companions through orange smoke.”
“I’m just a streak of orange in my Speedo.”
“Why that color.”
“Hurricanes, University of Miami; it’s our team color.”
“Man, the smoke, orange hurricanes, whirling dancers;” Doug thinks out loud, “it all adds up to Burrough’s vision in ‘Wild Boys’.”
“Yeah, we’re pretty wild. Any more of that weed?”
“We just use it in the ceremony.”
“I think it was more like bondage than a religious ceremony.”
“It’s enough to make even me religious,” Doug declares.
I laugh, then dive back into the pool, doing easy laps. When I finish, Doug has brought out face paint and is drawing on the boys’ faces.”
“Dry off,” He tells me. “I know just the design for you.”
I sit at his feet again. Taking black paint, he draws curved, vertical lines on each cheek. I want to see it in a mirror, but he keeps me from going inside. We move back into the tee pee, where Doug directs the boys to sit in a circle around me. He lights the pipe and passes it to me. As I start to take a hit, he has the six boys caress my legs, moving up my thighs. As the smoke in my lungs goes from my bloodstream to my brain. The pipe moves to each prone boy and everyone gets high.Collapsing in a heap of overheated bodies, I fall asleep.
I wake up on a rug, surrounded by other sleeping boys. Doug is nowhere to be seen. It’s still light outside, so I dive into the pool trying to clear my head. As I swim slow, easy laps, the images of the last few days flicker through my thoughts, intermixing Miami, New York and LA memories. These memories do nothing to clear my head, which I blame on the excess of pot I smoked. Needing to regain my focus, I increase the effort I put into the swimming. I vary the individual strokes and soon am moving through the water like a sleek shark. My thoughts focus on the swimming, erasing the adventures and weird feelings I’ve experienced. After thirty minutes of workout, I feel refreshed and more relaxed. As I pull myself up onto the deck, I remember that I’m still nude. I go to the hot tub and retrieve my Speedo, where Doug discarded it. Turning on the water jets, I jump into the hot water and feel the heat revive my muscles.
Appreciating the positive effects of working out, I rededicate myself to competitive swimming, vowing to be more committed once I return home. Thoughts of home make me think about Scott and how distant we’ve become. I want to call him. I get out of the hot tub, shaking off the water until I’m fairly dry. Nobody stirs inside the house; Joey’s room is empty, and other rooms have closed doors. The study is open. I feel welcome enough to enter. Pictures of Doug with celebrities line one wall. I smile at one of him with short, dark hair and follow his transformation as hair styles change over the past fifteen years. The other wall has pictures of young men, also styled as the times change, although these guys don’t age. I wonder if he ever keeps anyone long enough for them to get older, which leads me to think about what it’s like to be kept. The boys’ expressions all seem the same, the flashy smile that shows each is trying to look his best, mostly smiling at Doug. It must be hard to always have to please someone else. In most of my school and team pictures, I always look so serious, rather than these pleasing smiles. The photo in the Miami Herald when Scott won the State Championship is the exception. We were so spontaneous in our excitement that our mouths are open, exposing rows of teeth, instead of these set smiles and clenched lips. Before I get too carried away with this analysis, I hear a polite cough behind me. Doug is at the door.
“Is it okay I’m looking at your stuff?”
“See anyone cute?”
“They’re all cute, but kinda all in the same way. It’s like they’re all trying to please you.”
“Well, that’s okay with me.”
“Sure, but it makes them all look older than they really are.”
“You sure are different from your brother.”
“Joey’s really my cousin. We’re so close because I’m an only child. He tends to exaggerate.”
“I know. I expected to be a little disappointed after all he told me about you. For once he couldn’t have said enough.”
“You seem calmer and more relaxed than earlier.”
“I worked out in the pool. It makes me feel focused. I was thinking about home and came in looking for you to use the phone.”
“You want to call your folks?”
“No, just Scott. He’s my best friend. He lives with me, kinda like my boyfriend.” It’s weird to say it to someone, for the first time.
“Do you miss him?”
“Yeah, but we’ve grown apart lately. Everything’s been happening so fast. He’s the one I need to check in with.”
“Use the phone behind my desk. Is that swim suit still wet?”
“Naw. They dry off fast. Something to do with my high metabolism.”
“You want to be alone during your call?”
“No. We’re not that weird.”
He sits on the couch across from the desk, while I settle into the large leather chair and dial Lydia’s number. I figure Scott will be there.
She answers after six rings.
“Hi Lydia. It’s me. What are you guys doing?”
“Oh, Tim. Nothing,” she sounds strange. “Just hanging out in my room.”
“You sound out of breath.”
“It’s just Scott giving me a bad time. He wouldn’t let me get to the phone,” she squeals, as I can hear Scott in the background messing with her. “He’s being a jerk.”
“You need me to keep him in line. Let me straighten him out.”
“Here he is.”
“Tim. What’s up? You still in New York?”
“No, LA. I got in yesterday.”
“LA, no way. Why’d you go there? Did you help Tina? How’s her brother?”
“We got that all settled. Everyone’s okay. I came out here with my cousin Joey. I told you before I left.”
“Man, you move fast.”
“What are you guys doing?”
“Nothing, just messing around.”
Oh well. He just doesn’t want to be upfront with me.
“I miss you, Scott. I should be back tomorrow night. Can you get Steve to pick me up?”
“Sure. We miss you, too, man.”
“Say bye to Lydia for me. I’ll fill you guys in on everything when I get back.”
“Bye, man. I love you, Tim.”
I almost gasp in surprise. “I love you, too.”
I hang up. Doug is laughing at the surprised look on my face. “You guys are so cute, but who’s the girl?”
“Lydia’s his girlfriend. We used to all be just friends, but after I went for Tina, he went for her. I saw them fucking, but they don’t know I know. It’s kinda a wedge between us.”
“Make you jealous when he’s with a girl?”
“Naw. We’ve fucked girls together. It’s just that he won’t talk to me about her. I feel him moving away from me. It was great what he said. Thanks for letting me call.” The glow of happiness from hearing him say he loves me spread out from my stomach.
“I swear you look like you’re blushing.”
“Yeah, ain’t love grand?” I move over to the couch and give Doug a hug.
“You’re pretty lovable yourself,” he says.
“You just like kids,” I kid him.
“You know how that can be. Most kids are just into themselves.”
“You mean your ‘braves’ out there in the tee-pee?”
“They’re okay. I keep them out there, so I don’t get overly involved.”
“Not if you’re gonna whip and beat ‘em.”
“That’s just a game. They like some discipline.”
“Is that how they see it?”
“Who knows what they think.”
“What happened today is just typical for you?”
”That was incredible. You whipped them to new heights.”
“You were doing the whipping.”
“You had them pussy whipped.”
“More like butt whipped, or as we say, butt lust fever.”
“How do you keep your head on so straight”
“I don’t think I’m very straight.”
“Do you always have a snappy comeback to whatever anyone says?”
“We’re just having a bull session, Doug. I can relate to you.”
“You want to stay in Hollywood? I’ll set you up.”
My response is automatic. “That’s cool, but I like my life as it is. I like being just a kid on a swim team. A jockhead.”
”You’re way smarter than that.”
“But I like it. You know how I feel about Scott. That call made me want to be there so badly.”
’You don’t have to make any decisions now. We’ll go out to eat. Then you can check out the club. There’s a lot here you can’t imagine without seeing it first.”