Friday, December 2, 2011

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 4

“Nothing” by The Script was playing on the radio the next morning when Atwood’s alarm woke him. His head was pounding slightly as he opened his eyes. He’d felt the pressure behind them as he teetered on the verge of waking. He refused to give in to it.  His mouth felt full of cotton, his body dehydrated. He had to get up, and he needed to do it now. He slowly stood and his stomach lurched. He moved in slow motion as he stretched toward the ceiling, trying to keep the contents of his stomach in his stomach, trying to keep the pounding of his head from making his eyes explode. His body shook as every muscle stretched and tensed. He rubbed his hand across his face, the skin of it feeling more like sandpaper than flesh. He went to the mirror and saw that his upper lip and chin were both red and looked raw. They looked worse than they actually felt. It took a second to figure it out and then memory crashed onto existence.

"It's from kissing," he said to himself in the mirror. "It's from Bobby's scruff.

He made the familiar trek down the hall to the bathroom and felt nauseous as he released the dark yellow liquid into the white bowl. He was definitely dehydrated. He held his breath. He was already fighting the urge to vomit. The last thing he needed was a bad odor to make it happen anyway.

He felt ridiculous and stupid yet somehow proud. The experience from the previous night was real. It had happened. He had given in to the pleasure and let it override his fear.

When he returned to his room he collapsed back onto his bed. He rubbed his head, which seemed to be pounding even harder now. Blood was pumping faster through his heart. He reached, without looking, into the drawer of his nightstand for the aspirin that he knew was there. He chewed four of them and swallowed the bitter, pasty result without the use of water. He wanted nothing more than to lie still in the quiet darkness of his room until he felt normal again.

He grabbed his phone from the top of the nightstand in order to check the time and that's when he saw the text message. It was from Kinlin. His timing was impeccably off. 

Just wanted to say hi. I'm thinking about you.

It had been weeks since they'd had any communication and now, the night after a crazy sexual adventure, Kinlin had decided to break the silence. 

Atwood wanted to respond right away, but made himself wait. Kinlin deserved to wait. He thought he might be acting childish, but he didn't change his mind. 

He threw the phone into the drawer with the aspirin and shut it away. Kinlin, now, somehow only seemed to cause his heart to ache—sometimes with pain, sometimes with pleasure. Right now he wanted nothing more than to protect his heart and shut Kinlin out of it. 

Before curling back into the fetal position of security and comfort something caught his eye. He sat up. He noticed the shadows of the blowing tree limbs outside his window. It was odd and somehow pretty. He’d never taken the time to notice anything like that before. It also reminded him of Kinlin—shadows are almost present but never within reach. He shook his head as he realized that even something as minute as shadows behind the blinds had caused him to think of Kinlin. He collapsed dramatically back onto his bed, pulling the covers over his head, blocking out the shadows, blocking out Kinlin.

He filled his day with late morning classes and an afternoon of sun drenched hours in Murphy Sculpture Garden. It was October and it still looked and felt like summer. He missed the changing of the seasons that would inevitably be happening back home in Massachusetts. 

He kept checking his phone to see if Kinlin had sent another text. After the fifth time with nothing but an empty screen he questioned his own sadomasochistic ways. 

He stared across the Garden. He missed seeing the leaves change colors over night. He missed the sound and smell of the brown leaves as they crunched under his feet—the unmistakable sound and smell of fall on Winthrop Street. He realized he was feeling a little melancholy. He was absentmindedly putting his phone away when it vibrated, replacing his Massachusetts daydream with his California reality. His first thought was Kinlin; he couldn't help it, but it wasn’t Kinlin, it was Bobby.

Bobby: Hi Atwood

Atwood: Hey, Bobby.

Bobby: What’s up?

Atwood: Not much, u?

Bobby: Just hanging out @ home

Atwood: I’m sitting in the sculpture garden taking in the sunshine.

Bobby:  nice

Atwood: You should join me.

Bobby: then I’d have to get dressed

Atwood: you’re not dressed?

Bobby: no

Atwood: ?

Bobby: it’s easier to play with myself if I’m not dressed

Atwood:  LOL! That’s true.

Bobby: ;)

Atwood: did you go to class today?

Bobby: really? That’s your next text?

Atwood: what?

Bobby: I’m naked! You just asked me about class

Atwood: sorry :(

Bobby: ;)

Atwood: so you’re naked, tell me about it.

Bobby: why don’t you come over and see for yourself

Atwood: tell me first.

Bobby:  well, I’m laying on my bed, naked, stroking my cock.

Atwood: and?

Bobby: I’m using the other hand to play with my balls. I like that.

Atwood: ur getting me hard

Bobby: good

Atwood: yeah, but I’m in the sg.

Bobby: so don’t be in the sg

Atwood: ?

Bobby: be at my house. you could replace my hand with your own

Atwood: text me your address.

The next thing Atwood knew he was standing at Bobby’s dorm room door. It felt eerily reminiscent of the previous night waiting for Clancy to answer. The difference was he knew what he was getting into this time.

Bobby opened the door shirtless, the button on his jeans undone. He was barefoot and smiling. His eyes were gleaming. Atwood felt his face flush as a wicked smile formed on his lips. He wanted to be there, and he could tell that Bobby wanted him to be there. He walked through the door.

Before the door had even latched Bobby was right behind him. He felt Bobby’s hands around his waist. He couldn’t stop himself from tilting his head to the left as Bobby’s lips found their way to his neck. His breath quickened and his pants got tighter. He spun around to face Bobby. He looked at the hot guy standing in front of him; taking in the eyes and the lips before closing his eyes and placing his lips on Bobby’s.

Bobby submitted to the kiss fully. He placed his arms around Atwood and pulled him tighter to his body. There was no space for light or air between them. 

Bobby’s right hand found it way to Atwood’s butt. He squeezed and pressed their midsections even closer, if that was possible. Atwood put his hand down the back of Bobby’s jeans to find no underwear. Bobby’s back arched slightly as Atwood gently squeezed. Their kissing intensified. Without breaking the connection of their lips or hands from one another Bobby moved them toward his bed. They collapsed just like in a movie. Unlike in a movie however, they bumped their heads together and teeth met lips.

“Oow,” said Atwood.

“I’m sorry,” said Bobby, laughing. “That was much sexier in my head.”

They lay on the bed looking into each other’s eyes.

“It’s always sexy in the movies,” said Atwood.

Bobby smiled at him. Without breaking eye contact from Bobby’s beautiful blue-green eyes, Atwood moved to reestablish the kiss that had been broken by their fall.

They kissed deeply and passionately. Atwood was trying to let go and enjoy the moment. He couldn’t keep his erection at bay, but he didn’t seem to be fully participating. The text from Kinlin was gnawing at him. Flashes of Kinlin kept crossing his mind, blinding him from what was in front of him.

He pushed Bobby away and sat up. His feet were on the ground and his elbows were planted on his thighs just above his knees. He put his head in his hand and closed his eyes. He rubbed his head as if by doing so he could smear away the image of Kinlin. 

Bobby sat up and gently placed a hand on Atwood’s right thigh. Atwood turned to him. Bobby had a look of concern on his face.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Atwood didn’t answer immediately. He stared at the face of the man sitting next to him as pangs of guilt and frustration cramped in his stomach. How could he be sitting in a room with a guy who actually wanted him and still be thinking of someone who didn’t want him who was miles away?

“I’m fine,” he responded with a look on his face that betrayed his lie. “I think I should go.”

Atwood stood up and made to get his jacket. Bobby grabbed his hand.

“I really wish you wouldn’t,” he said with a smile. “You wanna smoke a joint with me? It might relax you.”

Atwood had never smoked pot before, but he was curious. His head was filled with colliding thoughts—What am I doing? Am I gay? Kinlin. School. Bobby—bouncing around like too much debris in a junk strewn heap. He thought now might be just the time to kill the cat.

“I’ve never smoked before.”

“It’s cool. I won’t pressure you, but you’re in good hands if you decide to,” said Bobby.

“I think I want to,” responded Atwood.

Bobby smiled and got up from the bed to get the joint from its hiding place in his closet. He walked back to the bed with the joint and a lighter in his hand. He motioned for Atwood to come sit next to him. It reminded Atwood of the previous night when they’d met and Bobby had motioned him to the sofa. He tried to recapture the sense of excitement and relaxation that he’d felt with Bobby by the end of the evening.

Atwood sat down on the side of the bed next to Bobby. Bobby lit the joint and inhaled, momentarily holding the smoke before exhaling. He passed the joint to Atwood as he exhaled the smoke. Atwood could smell sweetness in the air. He had only smelled it once before. It was at a bon fire held during homecoming his senior year. He had always been told that marijuana had a smell reminiscent of skunk spray, but that night it smelled sweet. It was the same this time. The sweet smell filled his nostrils. The smell took him back to the bon fire and to hanging with his friends, which included Kinlin.

He took the joint from Bobby and put it to his lips. He must have looked apprehensive because Bobby told him to relax.

“Just inhale some of the smoke into your mouth and then take air in with it to take it into your lungs. Just go slow.”

Atwood inhaled. As clichéd as he knew it was, he coughed. He couldn’t help it. He had tried to rush it. He didn’t have a lot of patience. He wanted to replace the image of Kinlin with that of Bobby as quickly as he could.

Bobby couldn’t help but laugh. Atwood laughed too, which made him cough even more. Bobby took the joint back and inhaled again. 

“Inhale my smoke,” he said to Atwood while still holding his breath.

Bobby blew the smoke slowly at Atwood and Atwood inhaled the discarded smoke. He then held it briefly before exhaling it back into the air. 

He took the joint from Bobby and took a real hit that didn’t make him cough this time. He was determined to do it right. He slowly pulled on the joint and felt the smoke fill his mouth. He slowly took in air and felt his lungs fill. He exhaled and smiled at himself like a child finally learning to put the circular piece of wood into the circle instead of the square.

Bobby smiled at him and leaned in and kissed him on the lips. Atwood felt Bobby’s tongue, a familiar feeling for sure by now. Bobby pulled away and took the joint from Atwood inhaling deeply another drag.

He passed it back to Atwood as he let the vapor infiltrate his lungs one more time. Atwood took another drag and inhaled deeper this time. As he exhaled he caught himself watching the white smoke as it drifted across the room and danced on the rays of late afternoon sunlight that penetrated the shear curtains covering Bobby’s window. Bobby started to laugh at him and he started to laugh at Bobby although he had no idea why he was laughing. 

Atwood leaned forward and kissed Bobby this time. There was nothing but joy in his heart and his mind. His eyelids felt heavy, but he was more relaxed than he’d been since he’d gotten to California. It was a feeling he thought he could get used to. He then slipped off the edge of the bed, crashing butt first to the floor.

Bobby started to laugh again. Atwood quickly moved from shock to laughter himself. Bobby joined Atwood on the floor. They leaned up against the bed and continued to pass the joint back and forth.

“This shit is amazing,” said Atwood. His body felt weightless as he lifted his arm to take the joint Bobby was trying to pass him.  

Bobby started laughing again.

“Stop it,” said Atwood, trying not to laugh and losing the battle. “Stop it, I’m trying to inhale.” He inhaled and laughed the smoke right out, then started coughing.

“Remember when President Clinton said he didn’t inhale?” laughed Bobby. “You know he did. I mean why would he not wanna feel this way?”

“I don’t know man,” coughed Atwood. He passed the joint back to Bobby. “You were like, two when that happened. How do you even know that?”

“I’m a political science major. I read about our Presidents.” He took another toke off the joint and exhaled while speaking. “I mean can you imagine just holding the smoke in your mouth for nothing? That’s like chewing chocolate then spitting it out instead of swallowing.”

Atwood snorted. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Bobby looked at Atwood and tried to focus. “Your eyes are like slits. Seriously, man, can you even see me?” he said as he passed the joint.

“Slits?” Atwood continued to laugh. His perma grin would not stop. “Of course I can see you.” His eyelids were so droopy that the lashes created a hazy blind through which he had to fight to focus. He tried lifting his forehead, but to no avail. The lids didn’t budge. He took another hit and passed the joint back to Bobby.

Bobby laughed and took another drag.

“Why do you think President Clinton didn’t inhale?” asked Atwood. “Do you think he knew he was going to run for President one day and didn’t want it showing up if he had to take a drug test?”

“A drug test?” The words burst from Bobby’s mouth before he could stop them. They were followed quickly by the infectious laughter that wouldn’t let go of either of them. “It doesn’t stay in your system that long.” He passed the joint back to Atwood. “He just lied like he did about that blowjob.”

Atwood was sitting with his eyes closed now. He looked like he was either asleep or meditating. The joint had burned down to his thumbs. Bobby reached over and took it from him and put it in an ashtray that he kept under the bed. Atwood smiled and Bobby kissed him.

“You said blowjob,” said Atwood without moving anything but his lips.

“Yes, I did,” said Bobby as he stood up from the floor 

Atwood tried, but couldn’t get up. He felt heavy now, yet still somehow weightless. They started laughing again. It was beyond their control. Atwood was too stoned to get off the floor. Bobby did his best to finally get Atwood on his feet. 

They sat back down on the edge of the bed, Atwood making sure he was solidly planted enough to not fall off this time, a checkpoint not lost on Bobby.

They started making out again and lay down on the bed. They continued until the kissing slowly stopped. Atwood turned into spooning position with Bobby the big spoon. They fell asleep. Bobby was holding Atwood in his arms. Atwood was holding Bobby’s right hand in his own. 

When Atwood awoke he saw the hand in his own and felt the body pressed against him.

“Kinlin?” he said with hope in his voice. He turned and saw that it was Bobby. His muscles seemed to collapse as the hope changed to despair when the edge of dreamland melted into the reality of his real-world setting.

He eased out of Bobby’s arms and grabbed his jacket and slipped out the door as quietly as possible. He had to get over Kinlin. Kinlin didn’t matter. He was unimportant to Kinlin. Kinlin was his best friend. Why didn’t Kinlin want him?

He burst through the doors almost running. The sun was setting; it was dusk. In a full run now he ran away from Bobby’s dorm. He ran as fast as he could. He couldn’t stop the tears spilling from his eyes. He ran until he stumbled into Westwood Plaza. There he sat down on a bench and tried to catch his breath, tried to stop the tears.  

He realized that he was angry with himself more than anything. His desire to be wanted by Kinlin was keeping him stuck. He had just slipped out of the arms of another guy—a guy who wanted him—to run away and cry over a guy who didn’t want him. 

His heart was still pounding, but more from anxiety now than the running. He was shaking. He wanted to scream. He wanted to yell at the top of his lungs. He just wanted to forget. He wanted to pound the thoughts from his head, the feelings from his heart. He had no concept of how long they had slept. The marijuana had helped him forget briefly, but its effect had mostly worn off.

His phone buzzed. He didn’t even stop to think before pulling it out and looking at it.

Haven’t heard from u. R u okay? I’m around tonight. Wanna have a beer and talk?

There it was, another text from Kinlin. His heart immediately slowed. The pain in his chest dissipated. He read the words over and over. He couldn’t stop the smile that formed on his face. 

Atwood: Hey! Been busy. Sorry! A beer and talk sounds nice. I’ll text when I get home.


Kinlin: cool.

©2011 Michael Rohrer