Jackamo

“It’s a good thing we get along so great in bed,” I said, “Because I don’t think we could ever actually share a meal together.”

She agreed. While my cooking skills had warmed the hearts of many, she would not thaw for anything other than deli turkey, like a child. Like her child. Turkey was the one food I generally refuse to eat. But she was the first date I had in over a year who actually contributed weed of her own, and the only girl I knew who had no problem dealing with the snow, thanks to her jeep with a Rudolph head strapped on to the front. She was an awkward, silly girl who always found it funny when I told her I thought she was tough and sexy.

We got stoned and made out, listening to music as she sat on my lap. We sang along to “Iko Iko,” which I only knew from Warren Zevon’s failed debut album, and she only knew from her daughter’s children songs.

My grandma and your grandma were sittin by the fire.

My grandma told your grandma, I’m gonna set your flag on fire.

She broke out into a little pattycake session with her legs up on the table and her head tilted back on my shoulder.

Hey now (hey now), hey now (hey now), I-ko, I-ko, un-day Jock-a-mo fee-no ai na-né, jock-a-mo fee na-né

She knew I wanted her to go in the bedroom by the way I tugged at her dress, so she rose from the couch. She started to walk past me, but I stopped her. This black cocktail dress she put on for no other reason than to take off, I let my hands get to know the fabric. My fingers explored the stitches, folds, wrinkles. My thumb teased the edge of her hem, a gentle reception between her inner thigh and my grasp, which began to wander and intimate itself with her curves.

Look at my king all dressed in red

I-ko, I-ko, un-day.

I betcha five dollars he’ll kill you dead

Jock-a-mo fee na-né

I cupped her ass, placing my face on the side of her hips, embracing her, then started rubbing her pussy from behind, which is my favorite way. But after a moment I pulled back so she could see me lick her coulis from my fingers.

Hey now (hey now), hey now (hey now), I-ko, I-ko, un-day Jock-a-mo fee-no ai na-né, jock-a-mo fee na-né

Then I pulled her dress up just a little so I could run two fingers up the front and finger her as she stood before me. She doubled over, still standing, but supporting herself on my shoulders, leaning in to tease my ear with her lips, then her tongue. It was an awkward position, but I kept the rhythm going – I kept my lips going too, even if I was just kissing parts of her dress. She was wet like wine you spilled in your sleep. Wet like my eyes after a dream. Wet like daybreak. Her legs shook unexpectedly as she started whimpering. She started swaying. She started cursing. She started mumbling unintelligible prayers. She started to cum, gripping my shoulders tighter as she thrust herself on my fingers until she finally crumbled.

Hey now (hey now), hey now (hey now), I-ko, I-ko, un-day Jock-a-mo fee-no ai na-né, jock-a-mo fee na-né

I gave her a moment to recover, then brought up my fingers, fragrant as macerated fruit, sugar syrup now slightly tacky forming a web between my fingers. They disappeared into her mouth. I stroked her hair and brushed it aside to asked her, “Laura?”

She pulled off of my fingers, with a little drip. Still gasping she shook her head and grinned. “No.”

This was the second time she was here, but I still didn’t know her name, yet with each orgasm I was one guess closer to finding out.

Back in the bedroom, I was trying to coerce the information out of her. Hints at least. If I had to make her cum to get a guess I was going to withhold her from cumming until she would have to tell me. And it didn’t work. And it drove me mad. And I decided to just make her cum until that was torture in itself. And as fun as that was, it was more torture for me. And I pulled her hair while she choked on my cock. And I tied her hands behind her back and spanked her and slapped her after every time she came and demanded to know, what does it start with, or how long is it, or what does it end with, or is it from the bible, or what. And somewhere between shudders and moans and the sounds of slapping skin came a confession: she bleated out what letter her name ended with, and that it’s the name of a song I would know. And in that instant I no longer cared what her name might be. I knew that at this point if I really wanted to know, I could easily find out. I liked knowing her, but I was way more turned on by the fact that she was saved in my phone as just a question mark.

Hey now (hey now), hey now (hey now), I-ko, I-ko, un-day Jock-a-mo fee-no ai na-né, jock-a-mo fee na-né

Death of a Mattress

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The Ikea mattress had only been with me a few months and was already destroyed. It was hardly meant to support someone of my own weight, much less two or three people. The rows of pocket coil springs were splayed and bulging and pushed way into my back. It was a temporary replacement anyway since I was tired of sleeping on the couch.

At the store, when they show you the mattress, and the insides, it looks logically beautiful, rationally comfortable. But even a good idea, turned on its head, will hurt your back. And now I tried envisioning the mattresses’ topography, based on how it felt. My right thigh rested within its abyssal plain, while my left was beached on a shore of pillows. My head lay off the face of the earth, staring out into the exosphere.

“No more boots on the bed,” I muttered to myself.

The fissures and faults found a flux of faceless flesh. My breath was still. My mind was still. The world was still. My neighbors didn’t exist. Work was a fiction. I gave no thought to the rotting avocadoes in the kitchen. For all I cared I was dead. And I loved it.  I held on to this little death as long as I could, until I heard someone approaching from the bathroom door. It was a familiar sequence. The water ran, the door latched, the floor creaked, but I panicked as I tried to remember who it was. They were just here, who was it? Fuck fuck who is it? How could I forget? It seemed as though entire civilizations rose and fell in the time since I expired. I ran through a list of names but came to realize they were just failed grunts. until I saw her upside-down face appear, framed by her breasts which she dangled before me, bending down for a kiss.

I told her how prostitutes in the wild west would put a leather blanket at the bottom of the bed, because men didn’t want to take time removing their boots. She didn’t seem to care or understand. She simply groaned, and then drowned herself in my rocky ocean.

I remembered her name now, and how we got here. I said “I told you so” and she didn’t respond. I chuckled because earlier that night she prided herself on her endurance and drive and told me she was always ready for it, always up for a go, always down for more, like I was the bottleneck in her sex diet. I told her I was going to prove her wrong and that no matter how much it hurt me, I was going to hurt her even more.

If she thinks I can simply be swallowed up and forgotten, I will take it as a challenge. Each time she approached the cusp of orgasm she would gasp deeply, holding in her breath. Then she held off the release for as long as she could, each one a little longer, until it pushed forth in a delightfully torturous, weeping convulsion. I would give her a few seconds to calm down, then tell her how to change positions, because that’s what she liked. She wanted to see what I’ve learned.  I gave it to her until she cried out that she couldn’t take anymore, slapping me on the chest. Having recovered for a while now I tugged on her from within the mattress.

“Turn over,” I told her. She waivered. Huffed. “Turn over,” I repeated, pressing my cock against her leg.

She managed to squeeze out a no. “What did you say?”

“No,” she said again, trembling. “Later.”

“When?” I asked.

“Couple days,” she said.

“Yeah,” I said, “that’s what I thought.”

High Holidays

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She named my dick “Larry.”

Larry. Of all possible names, she chose an actual human man’s name. Though, a man’s name from a different culture, would have been less questionable. If she named my cock and balls Faraz, I would have worn it openly. That would have been exotic. But Larry is some lame cousin you see on High Holidays who piles beet horseradish on the gefilte fish. A better Jewish name would be something like Yitzhak because it gets in the back of your throat, or something that sounds cooler, like Lazar Wolf from Fiddler on the Roof – you think I’m after your cow but I really want your daughter. I later told my Friend about it, and he claimed two different women independently named his penis “Fred.”

These distractions aside, she knelt before me in front of the couch, and hugged Larry with her hands and gave him kisses and I dipped my paring knife into the pink baggie and brought it up to my nose for a little bump. While I often find myself unable to concentrate, or focus my attention on important tasks, I love multitasking vices. 

And while I find my anxiety makes daily life a frightening chore, it’s also what makes this scene possible. I positioned the coffee table just close enough to the couch to be a convenient resting place for her cocaine, and my weed, and her wine, and my beer, but also just far enough away so that there would be enough space for her to get on her knees.

“Do you like Larry?” I asked. I don’t know what she said within her muffled words but I giggled and said, “Larry likes you too.”

I giggled some more, I told myself to relax, I ran my hand up the back of her neck, I reached the edge of her wig, I clamped down on the sides of her throat from behind, I felt the shock run through her jaw. Just the edge of her teeth grazed my shaft.

By now her thirst had Larry dripping from head to toe, like macerated fruit in syrup awaiting a pie, and she cradled each of his slick, fermenting peaches in each hand, repeating to herself her promises to not fall in love with Larry, while simultaneously reciting her vows.

She cared for my balls the way only a grandmother could. No twenty-something ever gave them the attention she knew they deserved, not without being told.

I licked my finger and rubbed it all over my framed picture of William de Forest, making a little coke schmear on my pinky, which I rubbed thoroughly along my gums. I smacked my lips and thought about my hero of broadcasting, stuffed in the back of a turn-of-the-century concert hall, sharing a symphony over AM airwaves using laboratory equipment, envisioning a future where one day young perverts could share the sounds of their raunchy lovemaking all over the world with nothing more than a portable telegraph blasting out one’s and zero’s.

The rest of the night was a gleeful cycle of drugs, blowjobs, and cuddling. She didn’t want our first time having sex to be on her period, but she had no problem sitting on Larry and teasing him between her warm thighs amid rounds of mouth sex, nose candy, and white merlot. Smoke a bowl, make out, and do some lines. Get sucked, crack a beer, and drop some ice in her wine. When she went out to go smoking, I would keep stroking, waiting for her return.

Hours later, I lay on the bed, stroking my cock, shivering all over, precum bubbling from my head, smacking my meat around and I heard the outside door open.

“Honey come here I need you” I squeezed out. “Honey please.”

She put the cigarettes down and the butt bucket aside and came running, saying ‘baby I’m here’ and slipped into the bed with me where she began to massage Larry’s dense balls and she quivered at the sight of my running precum, and she licked it up and down and she fucked me with her mouth until I told her I was finally going to cum and she plunged my whole shaft past her sopping wet lips, anticipating the load she built up that whole night. She choked just a little, but swallowed it all and thanked me as I whinnied and whimpered against the pillow. She made sure to drag out every last drop and told me to relax, taking her time to clean me up as though she were enjoying an honor.

She asked me if, when we do have sex, after I cum, if she could turn me over and lick my asshole. I said that she could try, but that I was very ticklish, and she continued to milk me of my essence.

I dissolved into the pampering and stared at the wall, where my framed picture of Rod Serling hung above William de Forest’s bare spot. Everything was out of place: the paring knife on the picture frame, the wine in the fridge, the thoughts on my mind, and the woman in my bed. Perhaps I should be far away, myself. Perhaps I should wander, admitting to everyone I meet, everywhere I go, that my loyalty is both beautiful and fickle, mortal and subject to the winds — less like Ulysses, who braved the sirens’ song, and more like a falling leaf.

For Love of Doggy Style

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I came across a post on craigslist asking why men love doggy style so much. I felt I had a duty to provide some sort of explanation. I couldn’t speak for all men, but I shared my own feelings on the subject and the impressions conveyed to me by others – shit my friends say. I was very detailed. I touched on everything from angle of penetration, feeling of dominance, the fact women seem to love it so I love it too, and the pleasure of slamming into a nice round ass.

The chances of getting a reply from someone on craigslist varies with many factors, but let’s say it’s about ten percent, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got her response. Her name was Dawn, and she was impressed by the scope of my explanation. This rewarded me with her correspondence for the next three years. She was always very protective of her identity, since she was married, and we mostly talked about fantasy and desire and slowly but surely I gained more from her. There came the day I got an email with a picture of her breasts and a message saying, “Oh I forgot to tell you I’m black.” I’ve been talking to people online for twenty years so I was used to this odd confession of sorts, where they fear it’s some haunting truth that will drive me away, while simultaneously addressing the fact they know I probably assumed they’re white. I was totally cool with it. And I didn’t mind she was ten years older than me, either.

After I became single, I started pushing to see her. It had been three years, which consisted of mixed touch and go teases and rewards, silences and thanksgivings. She finally agreed to meet, but I was still living with my ex, sleeping on the couch for nine months, and Dawn had her husband. The only solution was to meet halfway, some place inconspicuous. A Wawa. And I kept looking around in case her husband was setting me up, and I was paranoid someone would see us, and I was freaked out because as much as I knew her, I was meeting someone for the first time in my car, and we talked for half an hour and she couldn’t stop touching my hair, and we made out, and she said I choked her perfectly even though I admitted I had no idea what I was doing and she rubbed my cock before leaving and I drove home and slept on the couch with reruns of Frasier.

The second time we met at the Wawa it was particularly cold. I wore my shirt and tie from work and my sweater and she got in my car wearing a gorgeous knee length skirt, purple leather boots, and no panties. I know because shortly after the windows had totally fogged up I had two fingers inside her and the scent of her pussy filled my car. We made out for nearly an hour before she pulled my cock out through my pants and deep throated me right there in the Wawa parking lot. While I lived with my ex, this was basically all I could do, and I thought about Georgina off of Belmont Avenue, and Jamie off of Forbidden Drive, and Julie in the parking lot at work. Dawn could tell I was going to cum, and stopped. She loved having that power. And then she told me her real name and left.

After a few months of meeting at the Wawa, I finally got my own place. I had boxes everywhere but she still came over, with housewarming items for my new apartment. We cuddled and made out and I knew exactly what she wanted me to do to her and we took off our clothes and I paused when I saw her C Section scar because it reminded me of the scar my ex had across her abdomen from one of her many experimental childhood surgeries, and I buried my face in her belly and while she was thin, she was very soft, and we lay naked, kissing, and I was anxious about my ability to please her, but I had been fucking all week, and I was prepared to not let her down, and I put on my cock rings and showed her what I had been dreaming of these last three years.

We cuddled on the couch afterward while Lou Reed’s “Transformer” played on my turntable and the A Side came to a close with Walk on the Wild Side and I held her close and kissed her neck and closed my eyes and the colored girls go doo do doo do doo and I asked her if she found that offensive, the colored girls part, and she said that what she finds offensive is when some old white lady calls over to her and says, “yoohoo, colored girl. Colored girl, over here. That girl, the colored one. This old lady for real pointed at me and said, ‘that girl, the colored one.’ Not the one with the blue skirt, not the short girl, not the one with the braids, not even the black one, the colored one.” And I thought about my weekly visits to my great aunt’s house with my mom. And even though she was my dad’s aunt, it was my mom and I who would visit every sunday. And she told my mom one day, “Mary I saw the funniest thing out the window here, a white boy and a colored boy were walking down the street together holding hands.” And that was it, that was the whole thing, and she was again delighted at the mere thought and cackled alone. My aunt died the following year — to be honest, I didn’t care.

And I asked Dawn, “But what about the song? Is it offensive just within the scope of the song?”

“Oh no, I don’t care,” she replied.

My cum seeped out from between her legs and got on the couch. She grabbed a thin take-out napkin as the record kept looping with a pop and a click.

“No end in sight,” she said while swabbing between her thighs. “Well, you got what you want, I guess I got to go.” And then she laughed while slapping me on the chest. Always in control.

Instinctively I thought about those childhood birthday parties. “Thank you for coming,” I said. “Thanks for having me,” she replied.

And while I cared about her, and liked her, and felt she was special and unique, there came that utterly familiar moment of walking my date down the hall to the door, and closing it behind her.

Hold on to Your Nerves

moonlightphilly

I think it’s good to be nervous sometimes. Not the kind of nervousness and anxiety that comes with going to work every day, but rather the sense of nervousness that can be interpreted as exhilaration. If everything in life is blah, but you can still get some weak-kneed excitement, I think you should hold on to that.

I had a first date with this girl. Girl might be the wrong word, she was practically a generation older than me. A hearty Midwestern gal, she loved her job and seemed really interesting. I sat in the office and jotted some topics down on a crib sheet so I would always have a direction to take our conversation that night, should it ever go quiet. An elderly customer decided to steal a few minutes of my life and strongly suggest we get a cash only express lane, so he doesn’t have to wait behind immigrants and impoverished minorities using free money his tax dollars pay for and they don’t speak English, but as I nodded along I kept glancing down into my hand.

Hometown in Michigan… Guitar lessons… travel to Europe… exciting job she loves…

“Yes sir I’ll pass along your suggestion to the owner himself. I understand your concern. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

Could have been worse, he could have made my cashier cry again over expired coupons. The hardest part of customer service in a supermarket is remembering rule number one, you can’t tell someone to go fuck themselves.

I sat in the car across from the pub I was going to meet her at, listening to the radio recount details of a suicide bomber attack somewhere, or a car bombing, or both. I think they said Iraq. And as I edited the crib sheet in my hand I realized I was writing terrorist attacks and stopped myself. My mother called and I sent it to voicemail, and I cinched my necktie back up and combed my hair and dug a few shards of Viagra out of my pocket before heading in.

We had a perfectly nice time talking and drinking, and just like a midwestern girl, she was ready to drink me under the table. After a few drinks, the crib sheet itself became the topic of conversation and she was incredibly flattered for the effort I was making, and told me I didn’t need to be nervous. After dinner we went to another bar before she took me back to her place to make out and she had me roll us a joint. I held it in my mouth while she unbuttoned and unzipped me. I pulled my whole package over top of my boxers as she got down off the couch. She straddled my leg and put her hair back.

“When did you first think about sucking my cock?” I asked She paused. “About five minutes into our date.” “I was afraid I was boring you,” I said. “You weren’t.” “I’m always worried I’m boring,” I said, sighing and leaning my head back to stare at the ceiling. She wrapped her fingers around the base of my shaft. “Haven’t you fucked enough women to know you’re not?” she asked, right before kissing my balls. She was slow and sweet, pampering me but still enjoying it herself. And as she had my cock stuffed in her mouth I said: “No. I am perpetually insecure. Infinitely doubtful. I’m doomed to be totally lacking in confidence. No matter how many first dates end in bed, every morning I wake as a scrub.” It sounded rehearsed but it came to me at that moment, drawn out with sexual groans and grunts.

She took me to bed and halfway through a good pounding she started wheezing so bad I thought she was going to die from an asthma attack. The panic came over me and I was in my ex-girlfriend’s bed, holding her in my arms in the predawn darkness as she had a seizure, certain that the gurgling was her choking to death, certain that this was my last moment with her, the woman I loved with no look in her eyes, her face illuminated only by the sign of the 24 hour diner across the street. I had never dealt with this before and the 911 operator asked if I needed an ambulance and I thought of course I need a fucking ambulance and she begged me not to have paramedics take her away and kept asking me if I had the cookies, baby get the cookies, and she made with her hand like she was using a key and I asked the paramedics if this was normal and the guy stood there, with some smartphone or something in his hand and he’s just like, “you mean after a neurological episode?” and it was like DUH, and I pushed an empty wheelchair down the street behind a stretcher, and in the ER all I could focus on were these doctors discussing how they could possibly remove a half-inch thick steel cock ring from around this guy’s shaft and balls which weren’t quite turning black yet, and the young female doctor with a very sexy voice asked why they couldn’t just use a bunch of lube and the young nurse touched my arm and said my girlfriend would be ok and I thought, you’re way too cute don’t touch me please, and I called out from work that day and my girlfriend was consumed with embarrassment, and that was understandable but ultimately pointless.

But that was a year ago. She was fine now as long as she could afford her meds. And my date was ok too.  After I lay next to her she asked if I used a condom and I said yes and she said thank you and I wondered what she would’ve said if I hadn’t used a condom and I thought about terrorism in the middle east and I thought about her client’s client who was just sentenced to twenty-two years for murder in a domestic violence case, and it was probably self-defense, and I thought about how I never called my mother back, and I thought about the old racist bigots at work, and I thought about work, and after leftover nachos alone at home I found out Alan Rickman had died, and I sat there naked, fully erect, and no longer nervous, smelling like sex and queso, and saying to myself long live the new flesh.

The Interview

brazil_flag_mapI’ve been waiting to get this job. Two months now. Two interviews, waiting on a third. I’m starting to have a bad feeling. I think dating has prepared me for this – I know when they don’t want me, I can feel it when they become vacated of interest. It’s palpable.  Like when I said to Amanda that I would never want kids, that I hated kids, that having kids would be the worst possible thing I could do to my life, I could smell the silence, I could hear the light go out in her eyes. But we still had a good time. We still finished dinner. We still got gelato. We still made out in my car and I still felt her up. She had a nice body too. But she really wanted a baby in it at some point. So we would not have a second date. And I would not lie about what I want just to try sleeping with her.

Two interviews doesn’t mean anything either. I had two dates with Gabriela and I thought it was going well. She was a gorgeous six-foot-one Brazilian woman with thick, cascading red hair. She was into feminism and social justice and greasy food. We had similar appetites and she complained how she gained a hundred pounds since coming to the states. Sugar is in everything. And she can just see me as a fat American kid eating chicken nuggets and ketchup and I laughed it off but thought her choice of words was rather rude. We talked about how racist America is but still not as racist as Brazil. Apparently, if you’re anything other than black, you’re white. Asians, Mexicans, they’re all white so long as they’re not black. We talked about how when she was 13 she was in an abusive relationship with a 19 year old boy and how her dad would drive drunk with a bottle of whisky between his legs because that’s fairly standard down there.

Since she was new in town I drove her around some of the more beautiful parts of the city – the river, the statues, the park. Such beautiful expanses, still held within the city limits. She wore a charming blue and white Greek inspired dress and I tried rubbing her leg a bit throughout the drive even though I still had no idea what I was doing. When we got back I gave her a six pack of her favorite, illusive beer and she took me upstairs. I didn’t know what to expect. I was still struggling with confidence issues before taking pills. And a three flight walk up doesn’t exactly put me on my game. But we split a beer and made out and all I could think was this amazing woman could have any guy up here with her, and she’s chosen to have me, and I creeped my hand up her thigh until I realized she wasn’t wearing panties and I fingered her, and sucked her pierced nipples, and pulled her hair and choked her, and she told me harder, don’t be afraid, and I strummed her clit and she grabbed my wrist and said she’s not a banjo, and I really wanted a blowjob but I didn’t know what to do, and I said her sucking on my finger makes me think about putting my cock in her mouth, and she whimpered, asked to please put my cock in her mouth and it clicked and I just told her to suck it, and she got down on her knees and I was afraid I wouldn’t be ready but she worked it and held on to my thighs as I held on to her amazing fiery red mane and fucked her mouth until I asked if she wanted my cum and she squealed with delight and I shot down her throat and she said thank you and we kissed and I asked if she liked how it tastes and she said it tastes like victory, it’s her reward for the effort, and I really wanted to see her again and eat her pussy and fuck her but that would be our last date because she’s looking for love and she didn’t see a future for us. There was that familiar paranoid silence between texts which gave me a bad feeling.

But I kept thinking about how much she enjoyed giving me head. Is it possible she just blew me for selfish reasons? Instead of me giving it to her, did she take it from me? Did she already know there was no future for us and decided to play me just to suck a dick? Would I have been more powerful to deny her? Fuck no, I wanted that blowjob. I craved that blowjob like steel craves a stone. My edge will grow dull without it, but getting sharper means I will lose a small amount of myself in the end.

But I’m not always right. After all, I got the job.

Love

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I planned my weeks out on Saturday. Which is actually Tuesday because that’s my day off. Wednesday is Monday and Monday is Friday and Friday is like Wednesday and a half. Jennifer and Alice on Wednesday. Debra on Thursday. Angela and Annie on Friday. Jennifer again on Saturday. Someone new on Sunday. Danielle on Monday. Of course poor Danielle would usually be at the end of the week and she wasn’t very experienced so her impression of me was someone who could fuck forever and needed help to cum. The upside to this was that I could go long enough for her to really learn about her own orgasms and revel in them. But I take the weekends off and on a Monday I’ll cum like a motherfucker. The weekend is Tuesday. Monday is Wednesday. Before I realized it I was breaking up with people left and right just to spend more time with Danielle. She has my heart, and I love her.

Telling someone you love them isn’t easy. But it’s even harder to tell other people about your love. With you and the one you love there’s a short connection, a minimal tether over which that emotion, that intimate expression is carried. But other people are generally farther out on that network. The connection requires greater energy, and durability. The signal may be held to more scrutiny, or just the opposite, what the fuck do they care?

She said to me that whatever it is we’re doing, she likes it. I looked in her eyes and then shyed away. I told her that I do too. I wanted to tell her I loved her. But I couldn’t then. Just like I couldn’t at the pizza shop. Just like I couldn’t at the Jazz café. Just like I couldn’t in the heat of passion. But love is passion. It can be one of the most regrettable things to say at the height of orgasm. You can never take it back. But how can you tell someone something with certainty, even though it cannot be explained? Love is not something you reason. But I still knew one day soon I would not be able to contain my feelings any longer and I would be forced to make myself more vulnerable than I would prefer. I purposefully waited until after sex to tell her. That way I could feel absolutely sure. We talked about what it really is that we’re “doing,” and she said, “I get sad sometimes that you don’t feel the way about me that I do about you.”

I replied, “I have strong feelings for you,” But she exhaled sharply and turned away in a bit of a panic. Now or never, I thought. “You know, I love you.” Her head snapped back and she looked in my eyes.

“Wait, what?” She demanded.

“I love you.”

She lunged at me and said, “I love you, too,” before smothering me with kisses, her fingers deep in my hair. We kept the neighbors up that night. She truly can’t help it and normally, any consideration to my neighbors in this old building would involve me duct taping her mouth shut, or covering it with my hand, or smothering her with a pillow. And if I didn’t cover her mouth, she would do it herself out of embarrassment. But I held her arms back the night I told her I love her and let her screams ring out. I loved her cries of “fuck fuck fuck” more than the way Jennifer would go “shit shit shit” and more than how Annie would go “ok ok ok” or Debra’s “mhm mhm mhm” or Alice’s “yes yes yes” and normally Danielle gets so loud I can’t even finish because I’m afraid to keep going and tonight I thought, fuck the neighbors! This is love! And I gave her everything I had and finally lost control and when we were done I could hear the neighbor’s dog whimpering and I thought that perhaps that’s what our love is like. Because for me, love will always accompany the thought of trembling in the pre-dawn darkness, filled with anxiety and despair and wondering what’s next.

In the morning she said to me that David Bowie had left this world. I washed off our sex dander and put on the only Bowie vinyl I had, some garage sale copy of Dancing with the Big Boys. We sat there cuddling on the couch. I thought about everyone who I knew and loved. It was a short list.